The four women sat around the conference table, each tastefully and elegantly attired, and all awaiting the arrival of the person who had called the meeting. Although they all knew each other, there was no small talk or exchanging of greetings. Each knew the reason that they were there, and the task that they would be discussing.
The door to the conference room opened, and an imposing woman entered the room. She was wearing an Armani dress suit, with a black silk blouse, and patent leather heels. Accompanying her was a young assistant, who was dressed in a similar style and carrying a number of manilla folders. All who were at the table stood as she entered, and said “Good Morning, Madame” as she approached the table. They remained standing until she had sat herself down, and indicated that they should sit.
“Good Morning, ladies, I trust I find you all well?”
The four nodded in unison.
“Penelope, would you be so good as to distribute the folders, please?”
The young assistant passed around the table, handing a folder to each of the four women. She then returned to the head of the table, and sat next to the one that had been called Madame.
“Please, open your files.”
Inside each file was a collection of documents, photographs and floor plans.
“Study the contents carefully, ladies. These are the basis of our plan for this evening.”
One of the four woman looked up. “Madame, how can we be sure that they will all be in the same place?”
“It is a fair question, Dominique, and you are new to our team so I will answer,” Madame replied. “They have known each other for years, through their fathers, and we will make use of that connection. We also have assurances that on this particular night, they will be having what I believe the younger people call a ‘Girls Night in’. I propose we take advantage of that occasion to further our own plans for tonight. If nothing else, it will make things easier. Any further questions?”
The women around the table remained silent.
“Very well, then. Penelope will let you have details of where and when we will meet. I suggest you spend today making any arrangements you need to take care of.”
Madame stood up, and the others stood as she left the room. All four then returned to studying the documents in their files.
“Is that popcorn ready yet?”
“Just about – have you got the drinks sorted out?”
“Yes, we have – just get that food in here and we can get started!!
Anika and Barbara were twin sisters, and every month they had a standing appointment to meet up with their best friends to chat over what was happening in their respective lives. As they had some spare rooms, they had suggested that this time all five had a sleepover, so that they had plenty of time to talk about boys, work and other things.
The five had known each other since school – their fathers were in the same line of business, and they had all been in the same year. As this was a slumber party, the two were dressed in pyjamas – Anika was wearing blue striped flannelette, while Barbara was sporting black silk ones.
As Anika brought the popcorn into the main room, the doorbell rang. Barbara slipped a dressing gown on, and went to greet their guests.
“Debbie – so glad you could make it. Did you get parked all right?”
“Yes, don’t worry – where can I get changed?”
“Use my bedroom, we’ll all put our stuff in there.”
A few minutes later, Debbie joined the two girls in the room. She was wearing a long red nightgown, and had a red scarf tied in her hair as a headband.
“Drink?” Angela asked.
“Rum and coke – where are the others?”
“That will be them now” Barbara said as the doorbell rang again. Two voices were heard coming from the doorway.
“Cathy and Emma are just getting changed” Barbara said. “Let’s get the movie started.”
In a grey van parked in the road, Penelope was looking at the house through a pair of binoculars. “They appear to have all arrived, Madame,” she said into a mobile phone, “When would you like us to move in?”
“Let them finish watching their film,” a voice like dark velvet replied, “I don’t want to spoil their entire evening.”
“As you wish, Madame,” Penelope replied. She turned to the back of the van.
“Madame says to let them enjoy their film. Keep monitoring, and let me know when the film has finished.”
“Now THAT was a good film” Cathy said as the end credits rolled. She was wearing a short teddy nightdress.
“Is anyone hungry?” Emma asked. She had on a long t-shirt with the slogan “What are you looking at?” across the chest.
“Here,” Anika said, “You phone out for some food while I get us all some more drinks.”
“So, what are we going to do now?”
“How about Truth or Dare?” Cathy said. The other girls nodded as Emma placed an order for pizzas over the phone.
“They say it will be about twenty minutes,” Emma called out as she put the phone down.
“We have twenty minutes, ladies,” Penelope called into the back of the van. “Get ready.”
“No, I will not do that with Gerry, even if there was money involved” Debbie cried out, and the five girls broke down in laughter.
“Where are those pizzas?” Barbara asked.
“There’s the doorbell now,” Anika said. “Debbie – you get to ask Barbara while I answer the door.”
“Right, Barbara – truth or dare?”
“If your boyfriend said that he wanted to do something kinky with you, would you agree?”
“Come on, Anika, it’s not that horrible a question.”
The four girls looked in the direction of the door, to see Anika pushed into the room, followed by five women dressed in black and wearing stocking masks. Three of them were carrying guns, and a fourth was carrying a large holdall.
“All of you just sit down and be quiet, and we’ll get through this in one piece,” the fifth woman said. “So long as you do as you’re told, no-one gets hurt. Understand?”
Cathy and Emma held each other, while Barbara and Debbie stood looking at the women.
“Right – all of you sit on the floor, cross legged and hands on top of your head. Now!!”
The five friends sat down as they were instructed to. The masked woman who spoke then produced a mobile phone, and put it in speaker mode before dialling a number.
“They are ready, Madame”
The voice like dark velvet could be heard.
“Good evening, ladies. My associates and I have some business to discuss with your fathers, and you are an important part of those discussions. Do exactly what my associate there says, and you will not be harmed. Do not, and the consequences will be dire.”
The three armed women pointed the pistols directly at the seated girls.
“Simply nod if you understand – and then we can begin.”
All five girls nodded.
“They have nodded Madame.”
“Very good – we will talk again later. Please continue as we planned.”
The masked woman closed the phone, and then nodded to each of the three armed women. They moved behind Cathy, Debbie and Emma, and pulled each of them up onto their feet.
“These women will explain what you have to do – go with them. You will be brought back here later.”
The three terrified girls were taken out of the room.
“Now, Anika and Barbara, we need to make a call to your father. Say nothing unless I tell you to. Do you understand?”
The two girls grabbed ahold of each other. “Please – don’t hurt us” Angela said.
“Do as you are told, and you won’t be harmed” the masked woman replied. “Now, I want the two of you to sit back to back. Shuffle yourselves around now.”
The two girls moved around so that they were supporting each other.
“Hands on your heads, please.”
The woman dialled another number on the mobile phone.
“Mister Blakely? Did you receive a package delivered to your door this evening? Ah – so you thought it was a joke? Listen to this,” and she pointed the phone at the terrified girls.
“Daddy,” Barbara shouted, “There’s an armed gang here, and Anika and I….” Barbara would have said more, but a knotted bandana was pushed into her mouth and tied at the base of her head.
“Rest assured, Mister Simpson, that we have both your daughters here. Do nothing, talk to no-one. We’ll be in touch.”
The woman turned off the phone. “What do you want with us? The Pizza delivery will be here soon, and you’ll all be caught.”
“Silly girl,” the woman replied, “we’ve intercepted your phone line for some time now. It was me who took your pizza order, so I’m sorry but your order has been cancelled.”
“Why are y…..” Anika asked, only to be gagged herself with a knotted bandana.
The two masked women now produced lengths of cord from the bag, and pulled the girls hands down so that Anika’s were in front of Barbara’s waist, and visa versa. The two girls watched as their sister’s wrists were tied together with the cord.
“Sit up straight”, the masked woman sat, and both Anika and Barbara tried to stop their upper bodies being lashed together with long lengths of rope – without success.
As smaller lengths of rope were used to cinch the chest wrappings, one of the armed gang returned with Cathy. Her wrists were bound together behind her back, and rope was tied around her chest above and below her breasts to hold her arms in place. A rolled up scarf had been stuffed into her mouth, and a thin band was tied over it to hold it into place.
“Any problems?” the lead woman asked. The armed one shook her head, and pushed Cathy down onto the couch. She then proceeded to cross and tie her ankles with cord.
“Here – take this,” the lead woman said to her partner, and they proceeded to do the same to Anika and Barbara – in Barbara’s case, tying the cords over her black pyjama leg bottoms. As they watched the two women tie their legs together above the knees, the two bound girls watched as Cathy also had her legs tied together. She was then rolled over onto her stomach, and hogtied to prevent her escape.
Debbie was then brought in – her hands were behind her back, and lengths of duct tape had been placed over her mouth. From the bulge behind the tape, her mouth had been filled with something prior to the tape. Tape had also been used to bind her arms to her side, and her wrists into her back around the waist.
Debbie was sat down in a chair, and the armed woman who had brought her in proceeded to tape her ankles and legs together. The woman who had spoken every time then proceeded to call someone.
“Madame? We have the ladies secured. You may now visit us if you so wish.
Very good – we will see you in a little while.”
As she finished her call, Emma was brought back into the room. All four looked at her, as she had not yet been gagged or even had her hands bound.
“It took a little extra time to convince her father we were genuine. I’m afraid she only just stopped crying.”
The speaker for the gang looked into Emma’s tear-stained face. “I like the slogan on your t-shirt, but right now everybody is looking at you. I need you to calm down and stop crying, because if you don’t it could get a lot worse. Do you understand?”
Emma nodded, and the leader pulled a chair from the dining table over.
“Sit down,” she said, “and put your hands behind the back of the chair.”
As Emma sat down, three of the gang approached her. One pulled her wrists together and started to bind them, another pulled her ankles together and tied them, while a third started to lash her lap to the seat of the chair.
Five minutes later, Emma was securely lashed to the chair with ropes around her legs and chest, and her wrists tied to the back of the chair. “Open your mouth,” the leader said, and as Emma did so a rolled up cloth was stuffed into her mouth. A scarf was rolled up into a band, and then tied over her mouth to hold the gag in place.
The five bound women looked at each other. Debbie was quietly trying to struggle in the tape, and her red nightdress was starting to ride up her bound legs. Cathy lay perfectly still, afraid of falling off the couch.
Hours passed, with the gang of invaders never taking their eyes off their bound hostages. As the clock struck midnight, Anika and Barbara started as their doorbell rang – one long ring, two short and one more long.
One of the armed women left the room, and returned accompanied by a tall woman dressed in a black leather coat. She walked into the room, and removed her coat to show a long black silk evening dress with opera gloves, and black patent heels.
She went round each of the hostages, examining the bindings and looking intently into their eyes. She then sat on the empty chair, and spoke in the same deep velvet voice they had all heard earlier on the telephone.
“By now you must be wondering why we called here tonight. Each of you is the daughter of one of the richest men in town – the bank manager”, she said looking at Anika and Barbara, “and three of our finest millionaires.” She looked at Cathy, Debbie and Emma as she said this.
“Now, some of the groups that work for my associates are even now talking to your fathers, and making it very clear that if we do not receive a certain amount from each of them by noon tomorrow, they will never see you again. I do realise that this means you will all be – indisposed for a while, but it is a weekend and you are not expected anywhere tomorrow. Very remiss of you to plan to spend the weekend together in a way we could find out about.”
All five began to struggle in their bindings as they realised the seriousness of the position they found themselves in. The tall woman just laughed.
“My advice to you is to sit back and try to relax. Penelope,” she said to the masked woman who had spoken throughout the night, “Perhaps you can arrange some water for these ladies, before they settle themselves down for the night.”
The leader of the gang nodded, and the other unarmed woman went into the kitchen, returning with glasses of water and some straws. Reaching down, Anika had her gag removed and a glass placed next to her mouth. She took a deep drink.
“Slowly, slowly my dear – you’ll make yourself sick, and that would be most uncomfortable when the gag is put back.”
“Who are you?” Anika gasped.
“A fair question – you may call me Madame X.” the arrival replied.
Anika gasped as the gag was placed back into her mouth. Madame X – one of the most feared criminals in the country, and her gang were the ones here!
In turn, each of the other hostages had their gags removed, and took a drink of water before the gags were replaced. Barbara felt a little queasy when she realised it was her knickers that had been stuffed into Debbie’s mouth.
“Now,” Madame X said as Emma had the gag tied tightly back over her mouth, “I suggest the five of you just try to relax and get a little rest. At least you all have something to lean against. As we hear from your fathers in the morning, you will be taken to where they can meet you. Good night to all of you.”
She picked up her leather coat, and left the room as she put it on over her outfit.
The night passed slowly for the five hostages. Cathy managed to roll onto her side, with her legs against the back of the couch, and close her eyes, while Debbie sat back in the chair and slept. Emma struggled in the chair, trying to loosen the ropes holding her in place, but by the early dawn she had given up. Only Anika stayed awake, as Barbara eventually laid her head against her sister and slept. The gang of home invaders stayed alert throughout the night.
As the radio alarm turned on at seven am, the mobile phone the gang leader had used rang. She held it to her ear, and nodded as she listened to the message she was receiving. Turning the phone off, she motioned to one of the gang and went over to Debbie.
“Good news – your father has paid up. We’re going to talk you to where he can collect you now.”
The two women helped Debbie onto her feet, and she struggled as they held her by the arms and frog-marched her to the door. As she was taken out, she turned her head to the others and tried to call out to them, but the closing door stopped even her muffled cries.
The leader came back a few minutes later. Her phone rang again, and this time it was Emma who was released from the ropes binding her to the chair, and frog-marched out of the door. Cathy was then released from her hogtie, and carried out. Each time two of the gang left, and only their leader returned.
As Anika pushed into Barbara’s back to wake her up, the phone rang once again. This time, the leader spoke to the two women who were bound together.
“Your father has been kind enough to allow us to make a large withdrawal from the bank, so that is our work completed. We’re leaving now – good luck.”
The last two gang members left, and Anika and Barbara listened as the front door closed. They sat still until they were sure they had been left alone, then began to struggle together to try and loosen the ropes holding them together.
Eventually, Anika realised that the ropes around their chests had began to loosen, and she tried to get Barbara to work with her. Slowly, painfully slowly, they moved against and with each other until the ropes around their chests began to slip down and lay across their laps.
Barbara turned her head over Anika’s shoulder and mmphed into her ear. Looking over her shoulder, Anika saw her sister trying to raise her arms up, and she realised that there was a chance that they could lift their arms up enough to separate themselves. After several attempts, they succeeded in getting their arms over each other, and were able to turn round to face each other.
Anika pulled at Barbara’s gag, and eventually managed to get it out of her mouth. “Oh God – are you all right?” Barbara gasped as she tried to return the favour to Anika. “I think so,” Anika replied when the knot was finally pulled from her mouth. “Come on, let’s get each other untied and see if we can get in touch with someone.”
It was after ten am by the time the two sisters had freed each other, and they had stretched enough to get some feeling back into their legs. As they gingerly stood up, they heard knocking from several places including the front door.
Anika went to the front door, while Barbara went to investigate the other noises. As she opened her bedroom door, she was shocked to find Debbie lying on the bed, with a scarf tied over her eyes. She turned and mmphed loudly at the noise of the door opening, but was shocked to see Barbara as the blindfold was removed.
“Barbara,” she said as the gag was pulled from her mouth, “What happened? I was blindfolded, doors were opened and closed, and then I was re-tied I thought in another place. I was here all the time?”
“Yes – which means the others are here somewhere….”
“Barbara! It’s Dad – he says that Debbie and Emma’s dads were tricked into going somewhere else to collect the others!!”
“I know – I’ve found Debbie – see if you can find the others!”
Within a few minutes, they had found Emma in the bathroom. She had also been blindfolded and told not to move as they were left. There was no sign of Cathy.
As the others were released from their bonds, they all started crying and hugging each other. Their fathers arrived soon after, summoned by Anika and Barbara’s father, and the police called to take statements. Each of the fathers had been given instructions to let other associates of Madame X collect money from them, and then told their daughters would be released in a given location one hour after they had delivered the cash. The one remaining question was where Cathy could be if the others were here…
In the boardroom, the gang had changed from their black outfits into the same style of clothing they had worn the previous morning. Madame X and Penelope entered the room.
“Ladies, I am pleased to say that we raised the maximum amount from last night’s work. All four of you, and your teams, are to be commended for the part you played.”
The four smiled in appreciation.
“Now, you must be tired. My limousine is waiting to take you to our exclusive spa for a weekend’s rest and relaxation with my compliments. Special recompense is also to be sent on to your teams as a thank you from me. Please, go and enjoy yourselves.”
The four stood and thanked Madame X as they left the office. “And you, Penelope,” she asked as the door was closed, “How would you like to be rewarded for your work last night.”
“I do not seek any reward, Madame – it is a pleasure to work with you.”
Madame X smiled. “Come now – I am sure there is something I can do for you?”
“No, Madame, I am afraid not. I must confess, however, that if I had the chance I would like to see the one whom was tied on the couch again. I have to say that I found the way she moved rather attractive.”
“Ah, I see. Penelope, at the very least you must get some rest. Why don’t you use the main rest room upstairs and try to relax. I will see to it that you are not disturbed.”
Penelope nodded, and left the boardroom. The main rest room was usually left for Madame’s exclusive use, and she felt privileged to be allowed to use it.
As she entered the room, she was greeted by the sight of a bound and gagged Cathy, tied to the headrest and footboard of the bed and blindfolded. Cathy squirmed and tried to call out at the sound of the door closing, but the calls were muffled by the gag still present in her mouth.
The telephone rang, and Penelope answered.
“My apologies, Penelope – I forgot to mention that that particular young lady will be our guest for a little while longer. Dominique’s team are dealing with her father in the United States, so our business is not quite concluded with her. Please make sure she is entertained during her stay.”
“Thank you, Madame” Penelope replied, and as she replaced the receiver a smile spread over her face.