The blonde wriggled round in the back of the 4x4, in a vain attempt to shake off the ropes that encircled her arms and chest, forcing the material of her brown dress to stretch tightly over her breasts as it held her body firmly in place. Her wrists were firmly secured behind her back as she tried to stretch her long legs out, only for her cork wedged sandals to hit the side and the ropes to rub even more against her bare ankles.
“Just relax, my dear,” the dark haired woman who had grabbed her from her home and forced her into the back of her own car said, “I’m sure your husband loves you so much that he will be more than willing to exchange the diamonds for you.” She was tall, about six feet, and thin, dressed in a black sweater and leather pants, matched by her jacket and gloves. The Raybans hid her eyes as the captive tried again to scream through the layers of tape that covered her stuffed mouth.
“See,” the woman said as a mobile phone rang, “I told you he would come through. One moment.” She smiled as she looked at the screen, and then stopped as she answered the call.
“Dominique,” a voice like a hot breeze calling across the meadow in summer as it hits your face said. “I regret interrupting you, but I have need of your services.”
“Of course, Madame. I should be with you in one hour. Until then.” Dominique ended the call and leaned into the car, stroking the long ringlets away from the frightened woman’s face. “Another business call, nothing to - ah,” she said as her phone rang again, and she answered it.
“I do hope you have the payment ready,” she said as she looked in the car again, “Your very beautiful wife is eager to see you soon....”
Ninety minutes later, Dominique pulled up outside the non-descript industrial warehouse and stepped out, locking her car as she did so. Walking in the front door, she smiled to the elderly uniformed guard sat at the desk.
“Good evening, George - I believe she is expecting me?”
“She is indeed, Miss Dominique - you are to head right up.” The guard pressed a button to open the doors to an elevator, which Dominique strode into and turned, watching as the doors closed and she was taken to the top floor.
The doors opened to show a red haired woman, slightly smaller than Dominique, standing there with a file in her hand.
“My apologies, Penelope,” she said as she stepped out, "but the husband was a tad tardy. I trust I have not kept her waiting too long?”
“Not really,” Penelope said as they walked across the empty office space to a set of large double doors, “she will not start without you.” She opened the door and showed Dominique into a well furnished office. At the far end a dark haired, thin woman was sitting reading a file at a large oak desk.
“Madame,” Dominique said as Penelope closed the door behind her,” My apologies for my late arrival.”
“It is quite all right, Dominique,” Madame X replied as she put the file down and stood up, walking to the front of the desk as Dominique took a seat. “I am glad you were able to come in any case - I have a most intriguing question that I would like you to look into, but first I need to provide some background.
“Some time ago we had the pleasure of entertaining a young woman by the name of Pamela Hershey - an athletic young lady who we held hostage to persuade her father to carry out a small task for us. Once the task was completed, we left her in an abandoned warehouse for her father to find.
“She was wearing a long sleeved grey top and white track suit bottoms with black stripes down the sides of the legs. When we left her, she was very securely taped, her wrists secured as were her legs at her ankle and knees. More tape was round her waist and arms, her chest and arms, and her shoulders and legs, leaving her in a seated position. She also had her mouth stuffed and covered in grey tape.”
“So far it sounds like standard procedure to me, Madame,” Dominique said as she brushed some lint from her trouser leg, “I fail to see why I need to be involved.”
“I am getting to that,” Madame X said with a smile. “There was four of my staff on the team - Alison, Catherine, Deborah and Diane. As they left young Ms Hershey, Deborah ensured that the usual letter of transit from me was left with them, and no other trace of their involvement was left.
“Forty eight hours later, Alison had a rather unfortunate encounter.”
Dominique sat up when she heard this. She knew Alison well, having been the head of a team that she was a member of some time ago. A well built young woman with long red hair, she was a particular favourite of the enforcer.
“The details are a little unclear, but all she remembers is leaving her flat to come to work. The next thing she knew was when she opened her eyes and found herself in another abandoned warehouse.
“When she did not arrive, I dispatched two others to track the signal from her tracker. This was the picture they took when they found her.”
Madame X handed Dominique a photograph, which showed Alison standing against a pole, dressed in a tight fitting light blue sweater, a tight burgundy coloured leather skirt, high heeled sandals and a blue silk strip tied into her hair. Her lower jaw was covered in silver tape, and her arms were pulled behind the pole. The presence of rope bands around her chest, legs and ankles told Dominique all that she needed to know.
“She was unharmed, but it was obvious someone knew she had a hand in the Hershey case, especially when Catherine’s housemate came home and found that Catherine had been attacked as well.
“From what she said, she came into the kitchen to find Catherine sitting in a chair, dressed in a purple halter neck dress and shoes. She was well secured, with ropes around her chest and the chair back, her waist and her lap, and her wrist and ankles bound and connected with more rope. She looked over her shoulder as the flatmate came in, trying to give her a warning, but the white tape over her mouth made that rather difficult. As it was, she was powerless to stop her friend also been grabbed, trussed and gagged.
“The intruders took nothing, but it was obvious a message was been sent.”
“What of Deborah and Diane?”
“They were visited at home that night - two masked individuals, who forced them to strip their clothes off.
“Diane was forced to use some lengths of black rope to bind Deborah to a chair, the attackers insisting that she made sure Deborah was - well, let us just say her chest was very noticeable. As she described it to me, her breasts were pulled out in such a way that they were forced to stick out and she was - most excited.
“Diane was then forced to push Deborah’s knickers into her mouth and cover it with white tape, before she herself was secured and silenced.” Madame X sat on the desk and looked at Dominique. “Someone has leaked details of the team who carried out this kidnapping, and it concerns me on two fronts. Firstly, that the information got out. Secondly, who got the information?”
She looked at Dominique. “Solve the riddle for me, Dominique - find out who leaked the information and take any appropriate action.”
“I have one question,” Dominique said as she stood up. “What was her father meant to do?”
“Look the other way while I conducted a series of raids at a local ladies’ college, searching for some important information. He was a security guard there. Why do you ask?”
“Were any outside contractors involved?”
Madame X sat back. “I did call in two specialists, but I have implicit trust in them. I assume you wish to talk with them as well?”
“IT would be remiss if I did not. Who was it?”
Madame X handed Dominique a business card - and watched as Dominique raised an eyebrow when she looked at the name. “I accept your trust in them,” she said as she slipped the card into her pocket, “but I will talk to them anyway. I will report back when I have some news to impart.” She turned and walked out of the room, Madame X looking at her as she left.
As Dominique walked to the stage door, she looked at the poster plastered to the wall.
TONIGHT - FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY
THE PREMIER FEMALE MAGIC ACT IN THE UK
The words appeared over tow smiling female faces, their blonde hair held back from their identical faces. Dominique smiled as she walked into the stage door, and said “I have an appointment with the Harman ladies - would you please tell them that Dominique is here?”
She waited for a few minutes until the old man at the door came back and motioned to her. She followed him, her coat moving in the breeze as she walked down a long thin corridor and stopped by a door. The man knocked and said “Miss Harman, Miss Harman - your guest is here.”
The door opened and Margot Harman looked out, smiling as she said “thanks, Jack,” and ushered Dominique in. She saw Harriet sitting there, and said "I’m glad you could find a few minutes for me,” as the door closed.
“Oh come on, Dominique, you’re always welcome back stage where we are,” Margot said as she sat down, “but I get the distinct feeling this is not exactly a social call. What can we do for you?”
“It’s about the work you carried out for Madame,” Dominique said as she sat down, her legs crossing as she adjusted her skirt. “We think there may have been a leak - not from you, I hasten to add - but I need to find out from you what happened or if anything unusual occurred.”
“Well,” Margot said as she sat down, “the instructions were fairly clear, as they always are with Madame. We gained entry to the school, and as per the plan we made our way first to the office. There was a secretary there - long dark hair, right Hattie?”
“Right Maggie - yellow blouse, short skirt. I think we broke our own record for securing her to the chair - three minutes from crossing her wrists behind the chair back to wrapping the bandage round her mouth.”
“So she would have had no chance to raise the alarm?”
“None whatsoever - she was in the company of both of us the whole time, and the ropes were as always tied sufficiently well to ensure she could not interfere at all in our plans. Why?”
“Madame has asked me to look into a possible leak associated with that assignment. Do not worry - you are as always above reproach. I just wondered if anything unusual happened that night.”
“Unusual?” Margot thought for a moment. “Not really - not unless you count the kinky kids.”
“The Kinky kids?”
“I came across them in their rooms - two students, dressed in white t-shirts and jeans, who seemed to be having great fun when I went in. They had both tied a crotch rope between their legs, very tightly, and then taped over their mouths with several strips of duct tape. When I arrived, they were busy rubbing each other up and gag kissing.”
Dominique stifled a laugh. “What did you do with them?”
“What else - I tied a long scarf over their mouths, trussed them as tightly as everyone else, and made them walk into the main room where we had gathered everyone. As I was tying them, they looked at me and mumbled as if they were enjoying every second of it.”
“What about you, Harriet?”
“Well, there was the army girl I surprised as she tried to get out of the window. She must have hidden and tried to get out to raise the alarm, but I caught her on a sweep round.
“She didn’t seem too happy to see me, but my size gave me an advantage, so I sat her next to a pillar outside, tied her arms round it, thorn lashed her to the wood and tied her legs. White tape over her mouth, and she seemed happy as - well, not very happy really.”
“So you secured everyone, and the main team found what they were looking for.”
“Yeah,” Margot said as she stood up. “So why does she think there was a leak?”
“Some of the team associated on a side mission were attacked at home - and Madame takes her staff health very seriously.”
“There was one thing,” Harriet said quietly, “One of the people we held seemed a little too relaxed, as if she knew something.”
“Are you thinking of the brunette?”
Dominique sat down. “A brunette - tell me about her.”
“Well, she was the last one we brought in. She was about five ten, shoulder length brown hair, wearing a white lace top and pink skirt. She looked round the room, and just walked over to a chair, sitting down and looking at us with her blue eyes. Even after we had secured her in place, and covered her mouth with red tape, she kept staring at us. It was almost as if she was trying to memorise what they could see of us.”
“I do not suppose you caught her name?”
Harriet looked at Margot. “Zoe, I think - it struck me at the time that the last person in had the last letter in her name.”
Dominique stood up. “Thanks, girls - you’ve been a great help.”
“Who was she?”
“I’ll tell you later - oh and girls?”
“Break a leg.” Dominique made her way out of the theatre and dialled a number on her mobile phone.”
“Penelope? It’s me. Tell Madame I have a lead and ask if it would be possible for me to borrow Lily for a day or two. I need to go and visit an old friend.”
The Japanese secretary was sitting at her desk, typing the final paragraphs of the report for her employer when she felt the leather gloved hand clamped over her mouth. “Stay nice and quiet,” Dominique whispered in her ear as she stood behind her, “and do exactly what I tell you. I would have words with your employer, and I strongly suggest you stay out of the way while I do so.”
The woman nodded as Dominique released her hand, and held a folded cloth in front of her mouth. To her pleasure, the woman opened her mouth and allowed her to push the damp cloth in, the mild sedative starting to take effect as she secured a long black scarf over her mouth to keep the gag in place.
Looking at the name plate, Dominique again looked at the woman, dressed in a white blouse and pleated blue skirt. A red shoe lace tie was round her neck, tied in a bow, and leather shoes were on her feet.
“Now, Anika,” she said with a smile, “Place your hands behind your back, and I will make it a most - pleasurable time.”
Fifteen minutes later, Dominique pulled the rope tightly around Anika’s arms, making sure the third band locked into place before securing it to a ring in the wooden pillar next to her. Her wrists were tied behind her back and secured to her waist, while eh rankles were tightly bound.
She opened her eyes and moaned as Dominique blew her a kiss, and walked into the office behind the inner door. In the room, sat behind a desk, was a dark haired woman, dressed in a blue linen dress, who looked up as a pistol was pointed in her direction.
“Hello, Zoe,” Dominique said as she smiled, “I think you and I need to have a little talk about why you were at the college last week during the raid. Please, do not reach for the alarm - I am sure Lady C will understand if you are unable to contact her for a while.”
“I see,” Zoë said as she put her hand down on the table. “If truth be told, I was not there for any reason to do with you, but thank you for confirming Madame X was responsible. My lady was sure that was the case.”
“My employer is not concerned about that,” Dominique said with a smile, “She is more concerned that some of our employees have been shamefully treated, and she wants to know who was responsible.”
“Really? Would this be the quartet that held the guard’s daughter hostage? I heard of that, but I assure you I am not responsible.”
“Do you have any idea who is?”
“I may have an idea, but I cannot hand over such information so easily. It would have to be - forced out of me in some way.”
Dominique sat down and crossed her legs, a smile on her face. “I would not expect anything less,” she said, “so how would you like to be found?”
Zoe wrote an address on a piece of paper and handed it to Dominique. “This was the contact who told me the college would be attacked - I believe you may find it is a friend of the guard’s daughter, but I could not possibly confirm that.”
“OF course,” Dominique said as she watched Zoe grab the front of her dress and rip it apart. “Whenever you’re ready?”
An hour later, Zoe looked down at her legs, wrapped in layers of black tape. Her knees were similarly bound, as were her arms to her side and her wrists behind her back. Layers covered her mouths as her ripped clothing moved over her body.
“Enjoy your time,” Dominique said as she stood in the doorway , “and if this does not work, I will be back.”
As she left the office, her mobile phone rang,
“Dominique, it’s Lily Harmon. I was told you needed my help?”
“Indeed - meet me at the office tomorrow. I need to check in with Madame and get her approval for something.”
“So this is nothing to do with my hated rival?”
“No, Zoe was doing this on her own time. Apparently she had a tip off of the raid, but she is not responsible for the attacks on our team - for which she wishes to pass on her good wishes.”
Madame X sat back in her chair. “So what is your next step?”
“I and Lillian are going to visit a friend of the guard’s daughter - apparently she gave Zoe the tip off, which suggests she knew something was happening.”
“IS she known to us?”
“No, but she soon will be.”
One Hour later, Dominique and Lily walked up a path to a green wooden front door. Both were dressed in dark suits and jumpers, and looked for all the world like cosmetics saleswomen.
Lily knocked on the door and stood back as it was opened by a brown haired girl, dressed in a blue blouse and shorts.
“Can I help you?”
“You most certainly can,” Lily said with a smile as she pushed the girl beck into the house, Dominique closing the door behind them. “You can have a little chat with us about a friend of yours - Pamela Hershey?”
“Pamela - oh god,” the girl said as she stared at the two women. “Have you come from him?”
“We have no idea who him is,” Dominique said as she opened her case and produced some lengths of white rope, “But you can tell me all about him while you strip.”
“Strip - MUM!”
“Move,” Dominique said as Lily ran past her, and through a door at the end of the corridor. On the other side was a tall, dark haired woman who was standing by a desk, a telephone in her hand.
“I don’t think you should,” Lily said as she pointed a pistol in her direction, “Your daughter may not like it. Now, very slowly, put the receiver down and stand up.”
The woman slowly did as Lily had demanded, showing her white blouse and short grey skirt. “What are you going to do with me,” she said as she raised her hands.
“Just keep you out of the way while my friend talks to your daughter,” Lily said as she put her own bag down. “Now, walk slowly over here and put your hands behind your back.”
“I swear, I did not know who he was. He called me and told me I had to pass this message to that woman - he said if I did not, he would hurt Pamela. Then I heard she had been kidnapped, and I did not know what to do.”
“Who was he,” Dominique said as she pulled the rope tightly around the frightened girl’s arms above her breasts, forcing them into her side. She was stripped naked, and bound tightly with ropes around her ankles, knees and wrists. Rope was also criss-crossed over her breasts, forcing them out.
“I don’t know - it was all done by phone, and I did not recognise the number. All I had was an office to drop off information at.”
“Where is this office?”
“A small town called Carrington, in the Midlands. The address is written down by the telephone.”
Dominique nodded as she pushed a wad of cotton into the girl’s mouth, and then sealed her lips with white tape. “Good girl,” she said a she held her face and kissed her gagged lips, before standing up and joining Lily.
“Where’s the mother?”
“Secured in the office - what did you find out?”
Dominique walked to the telephone desk and flipped through a book, stopping at page before tearing it out. “I think they’ve been duped as well - but we can’t be sure. Yet.”
“So where now?”
The evening sun was setting as Lily drove past the sign that said “Welcome to Carrington - Please Drive Carefully.”
“Looks like a typical midlands town,” Lily said as they passed the rows of identical houses.
“You would think so, but Carrington has quite a reputation. Did your uncle George ever come here?”
“Not that I know of - seems as if nothing would happen here.”
“You would be surprised - but for now we simply need to visit an office here and ask a few questions. Come along.”
At the house, the naked girl hopped into the back office, where she saw her mother starting to untie the ropes around her knees. The dark haired woman smiled over the thick white scarf that was forcing her lips apart and preventing her talking.
“Wlldnnn,” she mumbled as her daughter sat next to her, mumbling as she placed her head against her mother’s shoulder.
The following morning found Lily and Dominique standing outside a non-descript office in the town centre, watching as a young girl in a red hoodie walked past them. The sign above the office read “Carrington Match Making Services.”
Dominique held the door open as she and Lily walked in, closing and locking the door behind her. They turned to see a dark skinned girl sitting at reception desk, wearing a formal white gown.
“A little incongruous for office wear,” Lily said as they both looked at her. “Going to a party later, Emily?”
“How did you know my name was Emily,” the girl said as she looked up, only to laugh as he realised the name plate on her desk had given the game away. “How can we help you?”
“You can keep quiet,” Lily said as she produced a gun from her shoulder bag, “and lie face down on the floor. We need a word with your boss, but you need to be kept out of the way first. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you not to scream or raise the alarm.”
“No,” Emily said as she slowly pushed her chair back and knelt down, then on her stomach, “you don’t.” She put her hands behind her back, listening as Lily tote the end of a roll of black tape loose and stuck it to her bare wrist.
“Emily, do you have - oh,” a voice from the other side of the office said, and Dominique turned to look at the other woman. She was about five foot ten, with shoulder length black hair, and was wearing a pink jacket and skirt.
“And you must be Synthia,” Dominique said as she pointed her gun in the direction of the door. “I would like to talk to you about a girl called Pamela Hershey.”
“Ah,” Synthia said with a smile, “I wondered how long it would take. I take it you came from Madame X.”
“You know of her?”
“He does - come in and I will tell you what you need to know.”
“He? Lily, will you be all right here?”
“Go,” Lily said as she finished taping Emily’s wrists behind her back and turned her over, “I will take care of the receptionist.
Dominique nodded as she followed Synthia into the inner office, closing the door behind her. “May I know your name,” Synthia said as she sat in a chair.
“I am Dominique - now kindly remove your jacket and skirt, and tell me who he is.”
Synthia smiled as she slipped her jacket off, letting it fall to the floor and revealing a white bra. “He has a lot of history in this town, and has a small debt of honour to pay and a message to send. This is part of his way of sending it.”
“A message? Why?”
“He has a task to complete in this area, and he does not wish to attract the attention of people such as your employer. He regrets that your colleagues got in the way, but Pamela was never meant to have been snatched - it was always the intention she sell the information on. I guess he took it personally.”
“You still have not told me who he is.”
“No I have not, but he has left a present for Madame X to consider. As for me,” she said as she stood up and allowed her skirt to fall to the floor, “You may leave me any way you desire.”
“So what was this - a test?”
“You will see when you read the file - so, shall I cross my wrists behind my back?”
Lily tore off the last length of tape and smoother it behind Emily’s knees as she looked to the doorway, watching Dominique walk out with a file in her hands. “So do we know what happened?”
“We do Lily - but I do not think Madame is going to like it too much. Come.”
Through the open doorway, Lily could see the woman called Synthia, staring back as she leaned forward to try and relieve the tight ropes that held her upper body together. She was stripped to a white bra and pink pants, with ropes holding her wrists and legs together and silver tape over her mouth.
“What’s going on,” Lily said as they left the store and closed the door behind them.
“It’s a game, Lily - and Madame is not very fond of games. I’ll call ahead for a meeting tomorrow.”
“So this has been a message to me?”
Madame X was sitting at her desk, with Dominique and Lily at the other side. “I am afraid so, Madame,” Dominique said, “and I am afraid we have all been the victims of this. Tell me, how much do you know of the Horton family in Carrington?”
“I know they were very influential in the seventies and eighties in that town, running many of the underground activities. If I remember rightly, a woman called Caroline Merton brought the family head, Nathan Norton, to justice. I saw his obituary recently - he died a particularly unpleasant death. Why do you ask?”
“One of the thing he did concerned a raid on a country house outside of Carrington. He liked to dress with a melodramatic flair, and led the raid team dressed in a black opera cap, face mask and wide hat.”
“Very silent serial,” Madame X said with a wry smile, “but I was aware of that part of his reputation. So what happened?”
“He first secured the housekeeper in a downstairs room, forcing her to lie on her back with her wrists tied behind her back and a thin blue scarf in her mouth to silence her. As a cruel trick, he pulled her legs right up and tied them with rope, which he then secured to a ceiling hook. I think he just wanted to torture the poor girl by tickling her.
“Anyway, he then went upstairs with his gang and surprised the householder and a visiting friend. They were marched to a bedroom, made to strip to their panties and stockings, and then secured on the bed. One was a dark haired girl, in dark panties and stockings - she was tightly hogtied and a red ball gag put in her mouth. The other was a blonde haired girl, who was similarly hogtied in blue panties and gagged with a thick white scarf. He took pictures - here’s one.”
Dominique handed Madame X a photo of the two women on a bed, dressed and bound as she had described.
“So far, so good,” Madame X said, “but what has this to do with recent events?”
“Apparently, someone has resurrected the nom de plume Horton used - Mister White. He is determined to run the underground activities in Carrington, and is trying to do it without due regard to the usual from of operating.”
Madame X sat forward. “Strange - Carrington has appeared a few times on my activities recently, usually involving a young girl called Sara Phillips. Her mother is a well known novelist - a Caroline Phillips. I wonder if she knows this Caroline Merton?”
“I do not know - what I do know is that he has decided to, as the phase goes, rub our noses in it. He had a plant here, who told him of our plans for the college, and he used the opportunity to try and send us a message.”
“A plant? Who?”
“Penelope is - dealing with her now. At any rate, the other thing is the identity of the second woman in that photo, the friend who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her daughter is...
“Correct - we paid her a visit before coming here, and she told us when she was left, this Mister White found her and she told him all she knew of the four assailants. He then checked with the plant, got their addresses and...”
Dominique was interrupted by Penelope who came in. “Forgive me, Madame - I have Mister Small and Mister Tall on line 2, they crave a favour.”
“Oh - where are they?”
“Carrington - why?”
Madame X looked at the group in the room, before saying “Put them through - and Penelope?”
“Find out all you can about a Mister White, trying currently to run affairs in Carrington. I have a feeling we may need to teach him a lesson.”
“SO he thought he could teach you a lesson?”
“Indeed - a very foolish man by all accounts. The picture will go well with my collection.” Madame X took a sip from her coffee, then reached for her phone and dialled a number on speaker phone. She put a finger to her lips as the call was answered
speaking to Sara Marie Philips?" Madame said in her authoritative
voice. A young female voice replied “Yeah
"Wonderful. I thought I'd just check to see how you are following last night, given that this is the second time your name has cropped up during one of my projects."
There was a moment’s silence, before the voice hissed "You were the one who stole the painting! Who are you?"
"My name is not important."
"Well my mum told me not to speak to strangers so if you're going to hide things…"
Madame X raised an eyebrow in the direction of Penelope before saying "I am merely calling to warn you Sara. My associates managed to outwit Mr White this time but we may not be so fortunate the next. Plus, while I have almost unlimited resources at my disposal I have been unable to determine his identity, which is most disconcerting. All I can say for certain is that he has a dangerous obsession with you, so I suggest vigilance."
There was a pause again before the voice replied "Thanks for the show of concern, but I can look after myself."
Penelope looked at Madame X, who smiled before saying "You're on my radar Sara” and ending the call.
“A most resourceful young woman, Miss Phillips,” she said as she sat back. “Penelope, redouble our efforts - I do not like loose cannons like Mister White interfering with our plans.”