Our American Friends
July 3rd, 8 pm
“Look, I’ll do whatever it is you want me to do - just don’t hurt them.”
John looked at the couch as his wife and daughter stared mutely back at her, nodding in agreement as he turned to face the two women standing behind him. They were dressed from head to toe in black, including the balaclavas that only allowed their blue eyes and red lips to be seen.
“We won’t hurt them,” one of the women said in a crisp Southern accent, “so just relax and let’s enjoy the evening.”
His wife shook her head from side to side as she looked at her daughter. The two women had arrived half an hour earlier, and she had opened the door to them, suspecting nothing. She was still dressed in her work outfit of a black dress with a white flower print, the cap sleeves at each side of the square collar, white hose and white shoes. Her daughter was wearing a short sleeved white blouse over a pleated grey short skirt, white knee length socks and black Mary Jane shoes, while her husband was upstairs preparing for his night job.
They had forced the two women to sit on the couch, before taking two scarves from a rucksack and securing their wrists together in front of them - a pink one for the daughter and a grey one for the mother. The man of the house had come down in time to see them having cloths stuffed into their mouths, and then long silk scarves tied tightly over their mouths, the blue one trapping his daughter’s strawberry blonde hair to her neck while the older woman stared at him.
“Now then, Jack,” the other woman said, “We need you to come in a little while with me, to pick up your fellow night watchman as usual - your family will be nice and safe here with my friend.”
The other masked woman looked at the two gagged ladies on the couch and nodded, a smile appearing on her lips as they looked up apprehensively...
July 3rd, 10 pm.
“That’ll be Jack,” Lynn said as she raised herself from the couch, and smoothed down the skirt of her short white dress. “I’ll go and let him in.”
Her sister Rose raised her glass of wine in response, as she sat back, the skirt of her black dress barely covering her knickers. The dress had a white leaf pattern printed on it, and was held up by thin spaghetti straps over her shoulders. Her feet were in a pair of her favourite black heels, and she was enjoying a quiet evening before the festivities of the following day.
She looked up to see Lynn standing in the doorway, a gun being held to her head by a woman dressed from head to toe in black. “I’m sorry,” Jack said as he followed them in, with two other women in black behind him, “they have my wife and daughter, and they made me bring them here.”
Lynn heard her husband say “What the hell...” upstairs as she was made to kneel in front of the couch, and the woman with her said to Rose “you too sweetheart - on the floor, head on the seat, hands behind your back.”
The two women slowly moved their hands behind their back, not daring to move as they felt rope being used to secure their wrists together. “What the hell is going on,” Lynn said as she turned her head to look at Jack.
“I don’t know - they want me and Tommy to do something at the office block for them, but I have no idea what!”
“Do you have to make it so tight,” Rose said before she grunted, a sign of the way her wrists felt as the masked woman tied the rope between her arms.
“Shut up and open wide,” was the response as Rose saw a thick band of white linen stretched out in front of her mouth. “No you cannnggggg” was all she said as the cloth was pulled between her lips, her teeth closing over it as the ends were taken round her head, forcing her brown hair against her neck as they were tied tightly together.
Lynn had the same treatment, before her ankles were placed side by side and the rope passed around her bare legs, forcing them tightly together as she wriggled her toes. She looked over at Rose, saying “rullrt” as her sister’s ankles were bound tightly together, followed by her legs below her knees.
“Lllcp,” Rose mumbled as she watched her sister been more securely bound at her legs, while her husband was frog marched in by another masked woman.
“You know what to do,” the woman who had bound Rose said as she stood up, and the other intruders nodded, taking the two security guards with them as they left her. Rose and Lynn started struggling, but all they managed to do was fall on the floor, facing each other as the masked woman sat and took out a radio.
Lynn looked at her, the strap of her dress falling over her shoulder and the skirt of her dress riding up to reveal a flash of knickers as the woman spoke.
“Control, this is team 1 - both initial targets acquired and insurance secured. You may proceed.”
In a non-descript building on a quiet industrial estate, a red haired woman nodded and put the microphone close to her mouth.
“Understood Team 1 - we will take it from here. I want regular radio contact between you and Lily every half hour, and reports here every hour.”
She stood up and removed her headset, smoothing down her dark green leather skirt as she walked from her room to a large oak door and knocked.
“Team 1 have reported in Madame,” the woman said as she entered the room and closed the door behind her. She was speaking to a tall, thin woman standing at a desk, her long black hair falling over the Stella McCartney dress she was wearing.
“Excellent,” the woman said in a voice so deep and rich it would make a dog curl up in front of a fire and sleep. “Will you be staying up, Penelope?”
“It is necessary Madame - Team 2 have an early start.”
“Very well then - I will retire for the night. Keep me informed if there are any developments.”
“As you wish, Madame,” Penelope said as Madame X smiled and walked past her, leaving the office as she went to her private apartments.
4th July, 7 am
Belinda had not returned to her flat in Bayswater until two that morning, so she had literally put on her white nightgown and left her white stockings on before collapsing on her bed and going to sleep. The first she knew of what was happening was when she felt her legs been moved together, and then somebody lifting her ankles as they were pulled together.
“Whh... What’s going on,” she said as she opened her eyes to see a dark clad figure holding her legs up, while another seemed to be passing some sort of rope around her ankles. It was only when she tried to move them, and both the grip on her legs and the force on her ankles increased, that she realised she was being tied up.
“Don’t move,” a voice next to her said, and she turned to see a pair of bright blue eyes and a pair of red lisp staring at her in the gloom. It took her a few more minutes to realise it was a woman standing there, dressed from head to toe in black with a balaclava over her head, and a gun in her hand pointing at her.
“Oh shit,” she said in her New York accent, “Is this a burglary?”
“If you choose to take it that way, then yes,” the masked woman said as Belinda looked down and saw that her ankles had been tightly bound. “Sit up.”
“I don’t understand - what are you hoping to gain from this,” Belinda said as the two other figures moved up, and she realised they were also women. One of them crossed her wrist in front of her and started to use some thin white cord to bind her wrist together, while the other wrapped a longer length around her arms and chest, pulling them into her side as she was securely bound.
“Well, your jewellery would be nice,” the woman with the gun said with a smile, “but right now what we need is an address from you.”
“An address? What address?”
“The address of your client, Suzanne Dawkins.”
Belinda’s eyes widened as she said “How do you know she is in this country?”
“We know - now, where is she?”
Belinda grunted as the rope around her upper arms and shoulders was pulled tighter, before saying “If I tell you, what happens?”
“You were robbed - how we found her need not be your concern.”
“My diary - it’s in my handbag in the front room. Look under Bristow.”
“Alias - nice,” the woman said as she produced a black bandana with a white pattern from her somewhere and rolled it up, tying a knot in the middle. “I’m sure the police will find you in due course - now open wide.”
Belinda nodded and allowed herself to be gagged, and as she was laid gently on her pillow she watched the woman start to search through her jewellery boxes, while a length of rope was draped over her legs. As she watched the intruder bind them together below her knees, she wondered who else was going to have a visit because of her American ‘friend’...
4th July, 9 am
“It’s a bloody holiday at home - do we have to open the place up today?”
“The boss lady wants it open this morning - apparently she’s expecting some sort of big deal.”
The three women looked at the old Tudor facade of the business as Gail parked her Corvette in front of it. She was wearing a pink short sleeved top with a v-shaped neckline, a tight black leather skirt and patent leather four inch heels - she was going to a celebration lunch with her uncle later that day, come hell or high water.
Cassandra was her flatmate, from their days at Yale to their move to the UK. She was of Asian ancestry, and today was wearing a white t-shirt and a grey and white hound’s-tooth skirt, with dark hose and grey shoes. Also in the car with her was Emily, a younger American with copper red hair who was wearing a black short sleeved blouse and a red skirt with black knee high stockings.
“Yeah, but why open the meeting house up just for today - couldn’t the guards have just been paid to stay on?”
“Let’s find out,” Gail said as she opened the front door of the building, walking into the empty reception area.
“Jack? You there?” she called out, only to hear the front door close and the lock turn.
“Why have you...”
She turned to see Cassandra and Emily staring at a tall, thin woman dressed in black, her green eyes and red lisp the only thing visible in her covered head. “Jack is a little tied up at the moment,” she said as three more women came in. “Take these ladies, make them comfortable - I will come and join you shortly.”
As the three Americans were led away, the first woman touched the side of her head.
“Penny? Dominique - the staff have arrived, and we are commencing the next phase.”
“Roger that Dominique - Team 2 have informed me they have the address, and are on their way there now.”
Dominique nodded and made her way to the back of the reception area, looking in on the two bound and tape gagged security guards.
“Your families are fine,” she said quietly, “stay calm and obedient, all right?”
Gail twisted her legs round as she looked at Dominique from her position in the chair. Bands of white rope were around her arms and chest, framing her breasts as it was tied round the top of the chair back, while her wrists were secured together and to one of the wooden supports.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said as she tossed her long brown hair to the side and looked at the masked woman, “We don’t keep anything like that here.”
“Yes you do,” Dominique said quietly, “We know your boss, Belinda Hope, has Suzanne Dawkins as a client, and we know she is keeping it safe for her here in this meeting house - now where is it?”
“I don’t know - I honestly don’t know!”
“As you wish,” Dominique said as she pressed her ear to her side again. “Number two - see if the Chinese American can be more talkative.”
In one of the upstairs rooms, which were used by some of Belinda’s clients for special guests, the masked woman looked at Cassandra as she lay on her side on the bed. Her wrist were tied together behind her back with thick white rope, which also had been tied around her legs above her knees and her ankles. A white cloth covered her eyes, as she moaned and tried to twist herself free.
“Roger that,” the woman said as she walked to the bed, and Cassandra turned over, arching her back as she tried to talk through the layers of silver tape that were holding the silk scarf in her mouth.
“PLLLSSWHTSHPNG” she called out, as the woman approached the bed. She twisted round, her top rising slightly to reveal her belly button as she wondered what was happening...
“WAIT!” Gail shouted, “Leave her alone.”
“Hold,” Dominique said, and then she looked at her captive. “Well?”
“If I tell you, what guarantee do I have you will not hurt us?”
“You have my word,” Dominique said quietly.
“All right - I’ll tell you,” Gail said as she hung her head. Dominique smiled and touched her ear again, saying “Stand down number two. Number three?”
“All secure,” the masked woman said as she stood up, looking at Emily as she lay on her side on the floor of another guest room. Her wrists were also tied together behind her back, while her ankles and legs below her knees were also secured. The binding was not particularly tight, and the scarf tied into her mouth was not the most effective of gags, but it was enough to keep the frightened young girl quiet and still.
“Well,” Dominique said as she looked at Gail, “Where is it?”
“Keynes bedroom - there is a safe. The code is 36 22 36”
“You surprise me,” Dominique cooed. “Number three, you are in that room, right?”
“Got it,” she said as Emily watched her kneel by the safe, opening it with ease and taking out a small black bag. “Let’s go.”
“Thank you,” Dominique said as she stretched a length of white tape over Gail’s mouth, the shape of her lips visible under it as she was tightly gagged.
“Penny - we have the items. Time to call on the lady.”
4th July, 11 am
Suzanne Dawkins stretched her arms up and out as she looked out of the back door, over the Dorset hills. She knew she should have been in New York, with Jodie, enjoying the celebrations, but the forced flight over here, the hurried arrangements with her UK attorney - all of that had been forced on her by circumstance and Suzanne was very good at dealing with changes in circumstance.
Her blonde hair was pulled back from her head, revealing the darkening roots as a black scrunchie held it in place, and she was wearing a tiger print top that fitted her curves well. A black skirt and dark stockings completed her outfit, as she admired herself in the mirror.
“Just let them try and get me here,” she said to herself as she opened the door to the hallway, walking a short distance to knock on the door of her daughter.
“Jodie? You in there?”
There was no reply, so Suzanne made her way to the front room, and opened it - to receive the shock of her life.
Her daughter was sat in a chair, the skirt of her pink lace dress riding up to reveal a flash of her knickers as she twisted round. Her arms had been taken behind her back, but Suzanne could see the bands of rope around her ankles and her legs, and presumed her wrists were also tied together.
There was also the small matter of the bands of black tape covering Jodie’s mouth and eyes, her collar length brown hair carefully left free from them.
“Sttumm - gtttt” she called out, but Suzanne could already feel the cold circle in her back, as a female voice said “Mrs Dawkins - I have a message for you.”
“What sort of message,” Suzanne said as she slowly raised her hands.
“Did you think I would not find you, and the things you took? I have them now, and you and your daughter get to spend the rest of the day trying to get free. Appropriate for Independence Day, no?”
“If you have harmed her in any way...”
“Calm yourself - we have stopped Jodie from interfering, but we have not hurt her. Now, hands behind your back please.”
“Do I have a choice?”
Slowly, Suzanne moved her hands behind her back, biting her lips as she felt the rough rope biting into her skin as they were pulled together. She then gasped as another band of rope went round her arms, pulling her elbows together until they almost touched, and then she saw black gloved hands pass the rope around her body, fixing her arms against her back as it went under her chest.
“Move,” the voice said as Suzanne was turned round, and marched back into the kitchen, Jodie calling after her.
As she stood facing the sink, she felt her skirt being pulled down, revealing her black knickers.
“What are you going to do to me?”
“Our instructions are explicit,” the voice said as Suzanne saw a red ball gag lowered in front of her mouth, “Open wide - we know you like this.”
“But I sognngngng” Suzanne said as the rubber ball was secured in her mouth, and then she screamed as a leather gloved hand slapped her bottom - not once, but several times...
4th July, noon
“Thank you, team 2 - all teams return to base.”
Penelope stood up and walked to the lift, waiting for a moment as it came down, and then took her to the penthouse. Walking in, she saw Madame X standing by the window, dressed in cashmere top and jogging trousers.
“All teams have reported in Madame - the jewels will be with us in one hour.”
“Excellent - thank you Penelope,” Madame X said as the door to the bedroom opened, and a woman in her early fifties came in, wearing a grey top with a daguerreotype print of Lisa Minnelli on it, a short black skirt and white hose.
“We have secured your family heirloom for you, my dear Lisa,” Madame X said with a smile, “I trust we have proven satisfactory.”
“Most satisfactory,” Lisa said in a Southern Carolina drawl. “When my sister took them here, Madeline said you were the person to contact.”
“It is always a pleasure to help my American friends,” Madame X said with a smile. “Now, I have invites to the American Assembly ball tonight - would you care to join me?”