Martha Zymbrievski Lerrant was the only daughter and sole heiress of the late Alexander Hamilton Zymbrievski. She was nicknamed ‘the richest heiress of the USA’ by the press who always tried to get an interview from her but, due to her family’s many business rivals and foes, she was always surrounded by a private army of bodyguards well trained and paid that didn’t allowed no one to come closer than twenty feet of her.
Still she did manage to enjoy all the goods that her millions could pay for in its fullest, went to all the parties and events of the season (but never to business meetings) and was always wearing the finest dresses of the best maisons of Paris.
But right about now...
Martha was wearing her white and cream lacy bra, panties and stockings (all worth many months of wage of her employees)... plus cheap crisp rope around her ankles (and soles of her feet), above her knees, tightly cinched at her wrists and from it connected to both her ankles and wrapped on her torso at the waist level, her elbows were locked as close as she could get (and due to all those dancing/gym lessons she had taken all her life she had a lot of flexibility) and, finally (the most insulting tie), above and below her breasts!
What her captors were thinking that she was?
And she couldn’t even protest about the infamy she was being subjected to because she had two of her finest handkerchiefs folded and resting atop her tongue, and one of her best (blue and long) scarves had been wrapped three turns around her head to ensure that they stayed there! She looked like one of those infamous models of that infamous Mr. Klaw!
And after submitting her (by force, unexpected dexterity with ropes and a well orchestrated and executed surprise attack) to such a humiliating situation, her two attackers had locked her inside one of her own closets! How could they DARE to do such a thing to her?
They would pay, in kind and with the biggest interests she could think of!
One of them was Leonine (‘Mama Leo’), a robust (OK, fat) black maid ‘imported’ from New Orleans by her mother (after her grandmother's death) sixteen years before, who was of absolute confidence until the attack one or two hours before, perhaps more actually...
The other was that accursed busty female PI that had been hired by her mother and was obviously getting back ay her for her little stunt... By her mother, both attackers had been hired by her mother... Could it be that her mother...?
Ok, she and her mother didn’t go along very well (what an euphemism...), but she was her mother! She (sort of) loved her and vice-versa (especially in the ‘sort of’ part). Still...
Then she heard some noise... then a lot of it.
Finally someone, for some reason, was entering her own bedroom in her large manor!
Could it be her lawyer, Mr. Panycott? Or his black assistant, the weird Mr. L.T. Jackson? Or her friends Eddie or Lizzie? That gold-digger, Kirby, that posed as her friend? Perhaps (just perhaps) Tom? One of the Canadians that she was to meet with at the first business meeting she attended in her life? Or worst, a photo reporter?
Whoever it was he/she was doing something... weird. She could hear some... puffing and huffing? And banging? And... What was happening in her room? She bumped her shoulder against the heavy oak door of the closet in order to attract his/her attention.
It succeeded, she heard steps getting closer of the door, and the door was opened!
‘Stop making noises you... you foolish brat!!!’
Martha looked at the captive woman; who was wearing her green and white Dior, her white gloves, her small green hat and her pretty shoes, it was actually the whole costume she had been told to wear by Lizzie’s mother; and saw herself.
The captive was none other than Martha Zymbrievski Lerrant!!!
She must have had put quite a fight as she was, presumably, captured by the buxom former G-woman. The exquisite dress was disheveled (and thorn in a spot! That dress had cost her... (...) well a lot of money and was torn in a spot!), the crop blond hair was a mess, the small hat looked like it had been stomped on and she was still fighting her captor!
But ‘Martha’ was way more tied up than Martha herself...
While all bonds in Martha’s body had demand at most two or three turns of the rope around the trapped limb or torso, her double had at the very least seven turns in each tie. Ankles, knees (that was going to damage her dress!), arms in all its extension (and the girl seemed to be able to get her elbows to touch themselves!) and even as a gag (was that a white napkin that the rope was holding inside her mouth?)!
She looked at the PI with quizzical eyes and was completely ignored.
‘Come on, don’t make me mad at you girl... Hop!’
The helpless girl didn’t obeyed, until the bosomer and older woman whispered a few words in her left ear. She looked at her captor with sudden very hopeful and begging eyes, and the PI nodded very slowly while smiling a reassuring smile. The overly bound girl started to hop her way to the same closet in which Martha was being held.
She was looking a bit scared, but also relieved (?), at their captor as she was helped by her to not trip or fall in her hopping. The PI helped her to kneel right in front of Martha, whose emerald green eyes couldn’t help but bulge bigger and bigger by the second as she looked at the new captive, and tied a piece of rope connecting the girl’s wrists to her ankles. She cinched it tight, to the point that the double grunted at some point, and reinforced all the knots over the girl’s body, then she looked again at the newest captive with a warm smile, and held the girl’s face in her left hand as she said ‘dziękuję’ to her. That was Polish, her late grandfather’s native language, but what did it meant? She couldn’t remember...
She undid the rope and napkin gag but forfeited the double to speak, and immediately balled a scarf and packed the double’s mouth with it. Wit another scarf (that she wrapped twice around the girl’s head) she kept the gag in place. Then she approached her face from the double’s one and, for a moment, Martha thought that she was going to kiss the girl.
But she was only taking a closer look at her handiwork.
Then the PI finally took a look at Martha, and examined her bonds (and reinforced them all, and Martha grunted very audibly every time the knots were re-cinched, specially the one of the gag!), before she finally spoke to her client’s daughter.
‘See why I had to do this to you? I am saving your life here... So do your part and don’t try anything stupid, don’t make any sound that WILL attract the attention of your would-be-killers, stay put and wait till I return and free you and her. For once in your lifetime Martha, OBEY an order. Please, obey me. Or you will be as good as dead, and so will we all...’
For the first time in years Martha was kissed in the forehead, by a woman whom (at most) wasn’t more than five years older than her!!! And who closed the door of the closet right away. But one moment before the darkness reclaimed her back; Martha managed to take one last look at her double whose face was now about a foot away from hers.
She was looking at former special agent Morgan Blackport as if she was seeing her savior departing on a mission (to save her life)! Then ‘Martha’ looked at her with a ‘what are you looking at?’ attitude and shrugged her shoulders provocatively. One second later all went dark as Morgan closed the door and locked them inside the closet.
The perplexity in Martha’s mind was growing exponentially by then. But they were both way too well gagged for any kind of conversation being possible between the captives.
Not that she didn’t tried to engage in one... But then she remembered Morgan’s words and, against her own desire for freedom which for some reason was overwhelmed by her recall of Morgan’s eyes as she pleaded for her to obey (how she hated that word!) her demands, Martha did calm down and stayed put and quiet.
But what was really happening in here?
And exactly at that moment they both heard the shots…
ELEVEN DAYS BEFORE
That was it. She was going to quit as soon as she was found and freed! That bratty little ***** had went too far! WAY too far! WAY TOO FAR!!!!!
And those ropes didn’t moved one inch, no matter how she tried to free herself.
After her first major case, when she became known as 'Morgan Blackport, female PI of the Who’s Who’ (how she hated that title!), she had received quite a lot of... unusual cases.
None like this one, babysitter by force of a devilkin young socialite... if this... current... situation went into public knowledge she would be ruined for life!
Police officers still chuckled (and leered) at her presence in some crime scenes but in others there were hints of what could be (almost) considered respect. True, most of the time she was chasing unfaithful husbands and wives (dear and lost kittens or dogs not even for a million dollars! As she had received such proposals more than once…), but she had sent about twenty one people (some of them very maniacally dangerous) behind bars so far for crimes like murder, arson and insurance fraud. They had been forced to admit that she was good. But what would happen if she was found by her client after being bound to a chair, gagged and blindfolded by the girl she was supposed to protect?
She soon found out…
‘Oh my god!!! Ms. Blackport!!!’
Marguerite Z. Lerrant was from a very traditional family from New Orleans, her education has been as refined as possible. Then where did she learn how to undo knots with such facility? It was like they melted at her touch, and Morgan had fought them with earnest for a long time. She could see now that it wasn’t rope, but white torn sheets of cloth (from an old bedsheet) and a sponge. Her jaw was hurting, she had been forced to keep her mouth wide open for a long period of time and it was… aching actually.
‘WHERE did she go?’
‘She left almost two hours ago, what happened?’
‘I made the mistake to accept a glass of water from her hands… help me with my legs…’
It was a strong solid oak chair with four artistically crafted legs, her own legs had been lashed to the two front ones, and there was a very mean tie lashing her to the back of the chair, but at least her arms and hands were now freed from the armchairs.
Client or no client she was going to be spanked that night!!!
‘Are you sure… that it was Martha… and not… the other one?’
For a moment Morgan looked at her client’s mother as if she didn’t understood what she meant with that. Then she remembered why she had been hired in the first place.
There had been a break-in at the Zymbrievski manor about one week before, but instead of breaking a window’s glass or forcing a door, the intruder had calmly walked her way to the front door and had been allowed to enter by the butler, after all she was Martha!
But the real Martha was enjoying Thomas Kolling’s company and yacht with a few friends at the very same moment in open sea, about fifty miles from the shore…
Marguerite didn’t found it odd that her daughter had cancelled her participation in the event, she had indeed a mercurial humor, but as little as she spoke with that girl she found something really odd with her. She looked exactly like Martha, spoke like Martha and walked and moved like Martha. Then why oh why she didn’t felt like she had been with her own daughter? And she wasn’t the only one… ‘Mama Leo’ had felt the same way…
The fact that Martha decided to read a book (she… reading?) in the library only heightened their suspicions. So, following a suggestion of her main servant, Marguerite ordered that a maid called Oona was sent to the library with a tray carrying some refreshments for ‘Martha’. After about ten minutes ‘Martha’ emerged from the library as if it was on fire, and left the house in a hurry. Patrick, Marguerite’s chauffer, later said that he was told to go to a famous (among the youths of these days) shop in the Village.
She left the car and didn’t return, and when he phoned to the manor to inform her disappearance he was told that she wasn’t Martha in the first place!
Not two minutes after the car left both ‘Mama Leo’ and Marguerite entered the library and found the young Irish maid writhing on the floor, tied up in a weird fashion (ankles and wrists tied together) with the telephone cord and gagged with her own cap stuck inside her mouth with the help of one of her shoe’s lace.
The big portrait of Ambrozij Zymbrievski (the Polish immigrant that had founded the family’s fortune) was open but the safe behind it was still closed.
‘Mama Leo’ freed the furious girl as Marguerite stood by them. As soon as she had entered the library Oona found ‘Martha’ trying to open the safe, but before she could say or do anything ‘Martha’ pulled a knife, a real mean looking one, at her and demanded silence.
Four minutes later she was the imposter’s captive and was informed that the knife wasn’t for real, the blade retracted when pressed against something hard and it has no sharpness whatsoever. Oona felt mad and tried to scream for help, and got spanked for real by the imposter who then tried four more times to open the safe without success, she panicked, and at that moment she stopped speaking English clearly and a strong Polish accent was added to her speaking, and left the house in a hurry.
The butler asked Marguerite if had was to call the police but instead called Morgan, Marguerite didn’t wanted any fuss about the incident in the papers and knew Morgan’s reputation of being discreet and reliable. Morgan interviewed Marguerite, ‘Mama Leo’, Oona and Patrick and all agreed that the imposter was the spitting image of Martha (who only arrived back home about four hours later). She checked the safe and learned that its combination had been changed a few days after the death of AH Zymbrievski, due to a weird and insistent request of the family’s lawyer.
And the impersonator knew only the previous combination (she had read it out loud from a small sheet of paper as she got desperate, for not being able to open it, according to Oona).
Marguerite forbid everybody to tell anything about the ‘incident’ to Martha or anyone else, she paid Oona a large sum for her ‘inconveniences’ and the Irish girl got an early month of holiday in Florida. And she didn’t said anything about what was inside the safe that could demand such an elaborated ruse to achieve it, no matter how much Morgan pressured her.
Neither did the lawyer, Jeremiah Panycott, when she asked him the following day why he had been (according to Mrs. Z. Lerrant) ‘so annoying in his request for a change in the safe’s combination’. There was something really fishy in it...
She had played the ‘what if’ (also known as ‘hypotheticals’) game with the lawyer and, at most, had managed to discover that the lawyer indeed knew that someone, whoever he/she was (most likely another of his clients), wanted whatever that was inside the safe.
In the end Morgan was hired to be Martha’s closest bodyguard (and therefore babysitter) as she did more investigations on the issue. Martha, of course, didn’t liked one bit the whole deal. And tried to avoid Morgan’s watch by any means necessary, and how many tricks that girl knew! (some of them weren’t in Morgan’s book!), but Morgan had at a great expense of sweat and brains managed to not being fooled by the younger woman…
…until now. No, the girl who had given her the glass of water was Martha. And now she was in her car and going to look for a spunky brat in need of a much deserved spanking!
She went to all the places (nightclubs mostly) in which Martha might have went to, then she started to take a look at the lesser possible places.
And met the impersonator…
Actually they bumped into each other. She was entering a club called ‘Ollie’s Good Fortune’ when an obese man, who for some reasons was in a hurry, shoved her aside and she fell on the girl who was being ‘escorted’ outside by a young man. They were very lookalike, like in brother and sister, and she was indeed the living portrait of Martha!
The man spoke with a heavy Slavic accent, and both were not wearing expensive clothes, that brown dress was most likely a secondhand one. And both realized that Morgan had ‘recognized’ the girl. She excused herself and decided to follow them at a discreet distance.
They got into a subway station and left the train near downtown Manhattan, Morgan close behind. But not close enough to realize that she was being lead into a trap. They entered an alley as if they were fleeing from her, she went after them...
...and got hit in the back of her head by a blackjack.
Morgan awoke a few minutes later, only to realize that she was gagged with her own scarf and had her hands bound behind her back with another one. The impersonator was kneeling at her side on the dirt ground of the alley. She was looking very scared, as much as the young man (her brother, or a cousin) was furious... They didn’t looked like pros to the PI... but since when people walk around with blackjacks? That gave Morgan an idea.
‘Take her gag off...’ – said the ‘boy’ (who was about seven years younger than Morgan).
Morgan coughed a bit after the scarf and a balled up hankie were removed from her mouth. The man produced a blade that he kept pressuring her throat, but she was thinking in what she would say to them to bother (much) with that. They hadn’t touched her wallet, hadn’t checked who she was. They were that amateurs? Something really big was behind them...
Then she looked straight at the man ignoring the girl completely.
‘If you think that by finishing me your troubles will be gone Ivan... you’re wrong!!!’
The look in their faces... they were stunned and could fell for it if she kept pushing it. But not too far or too fast. So cautiously Morgan accused the boy of being Ivan Radlirevic, an arsonist wanted in New Jersey. Fortunately she was carrying the fake ‘Fraud Department Detective’ of a fictitious insurance company with her (she always carried a lot of fake Ids, the ones with her real name where kept in a hidden pocket in her valet) and they both believed that she was whom she claimed to be.
And, as he regagged her harshly and added another scarf (this one from his sister) to trap her elbows and used her shoe’s laces to bind her ankles together, he told her that he wasn’t no *********** Yugoslavian or Hungarian but a proud Polish (as if his accent wasn’t obvious...) and that it was better for Morgan to leave him alone.
Morgan could be wrong, but she decided that (after she got free of her bonds) she would pay a visit to Detective Bryant and check a few files of the police. It took her nearly twenty minutes to be able to leave that alley and she took a cab to the **th Precinct.
Raphael ‘Lucky’ Bryant was welcomed by Morgan with a kiss on his lips, to the envy of all his colleagues and co-workers, and knew that Morgan wanted something from him right away. She never faked any romantic relationship with him in public if she wasn’t after a ‘small favor’. But that was part of their personal deal.
One of Morgan’s first cases after she became famous was to follow the soon-to-be son-in-law of her client, a powerful banker, since her client had ‘an odd feeling’ about him. She found him with Bryant in bed. But his fiancée knew about his homosexuality, she was a lesbian anyway. The whole ‘engagement/wedding’ act of their part was to take their families off their shoulders, and avoid any chances of being committed into an institution that might try (hard) to ‘cure’ them, thus being able to live their lives as they wanted to.
She soon became Bryant’s most regular ‘girlfriend’ (and the most beautiful and charming of them by far) and she, as long as he didn’t turned her into a nymphomaniac or pervert in his stories to his many buddies at work about their nonexistent sexual intercourses, was fine with their public acts (he usually took her to many fancy and enjoyable places as part of their ‘affair’) of ‘modern love’. And he had to help her every now and then anyway...
She phoned Mrs. Z. Lerrant as she waited for the files of young criminals of Polish ancestry were provided, her client agreed to tell everyone at the manor a phony story about how she, while looking for Martha, had met a man that she had sent to prison and was now at a precinct waiting to be released by the authorities after he was booked.
After about fifty minutes of search she found him, Bartosz ‘Barry’ Kryzyki, 20 years old and a long list of misdemeanors (but nothing that could be considered a felony), a family (could it be that the impersonator was ‘E. Kryzyki’ his sister?), and an address.
Morgan told Bryant everything about the case so far, minus how she had been fooled by Martha, and how she was sure that the guy she had seen with the impersonator was ‘Barry’. They both decided to take a look at the address that very same night.
The place was a small fish market near the docks, it hadn’t too much places to hide while doing a stakeout, so both resigned themselves to smell like fish for the next few days as they stood by the alley of the two story building. After two nauseating hours they hit the jackpot. ‘Barry’ and his sister (nothing could change Morgan’s feeling about their blood relationship) arrived back home at about 4 AM, and weren’t alone.
Phil O’Bannon (a well known safecracker), Jimmy ‘Hard Fists’ (a do-anything felon-for-hire of the worst kind) and Wesley Walker (a gunman of very ill reputation) drove them back home. And Phil O’Bannon entered the place with them. Morgan and Bryant couldn’t hear anything from inside the house from where they stood, and couldn’t move around while Wesley’s car was in front of the fish market. But Bryant knew Phil’s address and favorite pubs, and told Morgan to be at the precinct in the following afternoon.
Morgan took four showers as soon as she arrived at her apartment, but the ‘fragrance’ of fish was still strong as she returned to her client’s manor. Not even the revelation that a new ‘visit’ of the impersonator (this time with professional help) was most likely to happen was strong enough to make Marguerite allow Morgan to see what was in the safe.
Martha was, of course, completely unapologetic for what she had done, and by the bright shining look in her friends’ faces they had laughed about it, laughed at her expenses!, but Morgan swallowed her pride and acted as if nothing had happened. After lunch she excused herself and said that she had to check on the whereabouts of someone she had ran into the past night, and this time the arrogant Lizzie Pembroke didn’t suppressed her laughter.
Phil O’Bannon was no rat, but also wasn’t the kind of people that would work with Walker if they could say no. When detectives Bryant and Lowen arrested him under the accusation of a safecracking committed three months before, that they knew O’Bannon was innocent of, he asked his buddies to call his lawyer ASAP. While en route to the precinct however, Bryant told he that he knew about his current affiliations and their target.
Purposely taking a longer route, Lowen helped O’Bannon to tell them what he knew by using the J. Dismas (named after the ‘Good Thief’) strategy. By making criminals tell an exploit of a fictitious criminal of the first half of the century the detectives managed to make them talk. It was under that ruse that old school criminals usually told the detectives about crimes in the making or that had been committed and they were looking after.
The only reason that they did so was that there were too much ‘bloody scumbags’, that preferred raw and bloody terror to other forms of intimidation, in the ‘field’ and someone had to deal with them before they made innocent victims. And by using aliases and elaborations, they never broke their own moral codes.
O’Bannon was usually a bit refractory to the ‘J. Dismas’ ruse, but this time he spoke so much and told so many details that the detectives were uncertain if he was playing them as fools. Until they learned (after talking with their contact at the FBI) that the stories that both Jimmy ‘Hard Fists’ and Walker had the habit to really ensure the cooperation of their accomplices through terror and intimidation weren’t just stories after all...
After the lawyer got him loose, Teddy Lowen and Bryant reported to their lieutenant and Morgan (who was posing as the eyes and ears of Marguerite).
According to O’Bannon, there was a business meeting scheduled to happen at the manor in a few days, he would be there posing as an assistant of the lawyer of a Canadian/English business associate of the late Mr. Zymbrievski (who had hired them all, including the impersonator). Martha would be lured to one of her friends’ manor (which would have been previously overtaken by ‘Hard Fists’, Walker and a couple of other ill-reputed criminals) and replaced by the impersonator whose job was to help him (O’Bannon) to hide inside the manor. After the meeting the impersonator’s job was to drug Marguerite and her lawyer with a ‘spiked tea’ and thus grant him access to the safe in the library.
Which friend of Martha’s had been targeted seemed to be a mystery as of now for O’Bannon. And Martha had so many friends and ‘friends’ and ‘would-be-friends’...
Phil O’Bannon’s corpse was found in the Hudson River the following morning, his murder had Walker’s ‘signature’ (two shots in the heart). And Rajmund Kryzyki had been admitted at a hospital during the night before with both arms broken. Elzbieta (Ellie) and Bartosz were interrogated by Bryant himself (albeit he wasn’t of the precinct in which the beating had been registered) while Morgan watched it behind a one-way mirror. Both were obviously terrified, but claimed that they knew nothing about the reasons behind their father’s beating (and were both very convincing at that). If the frightened girl wasn’t the spitting image of Martha Lerrant... then perhaps Morgan would have believed in her.
Walker and ‘Hard Fists’ disappeared and couldn’t be found anywhere during the four days search that the NYPD set after them, but Vicente Peñaros (a famous safecracker from down the border) was spotted arriving in a flight that had came from Ottawa. He was welcomed by a man identified as Yves DeVrien, a Canadian businessman and one of the names in the list of those who would attend the meeting at the Zymbrievski manor in two days.
When detective Holt, one of Bryant’s partners in his precinct, took a look at the list he recognized one name and said that he would have a chat with the man (whom he didn’t said who he was). Later he returned with very interesting news about why Panycott had warned the widow to change the safe’s combination, he was being blackmailed by DeVrien who had posed as a new client to him a few months before. Another one of Holt’s many ex-Army buddies was the lawyer’s assistant and had been more than cooperative after he heard about O’Bannon’s death. Turns out that Panycott was gay, which was illegal and a mental disease by those days’ standards (and which could cost him his inscription at the Bar), and had been thus forced to give DeVrien (who photographic proves of Pannycott’ secret) the previous combination (after he had it changed).
More or less at the same time that Holt told this to Bryant, Morgan and the lieutenant, Ellie Kryzyki was seen arriving at the hotel in which DeVrien was staying and didn’t returned home, although she wasn’t listed as a customer by the hotel’s register.
So the police knew their base of operation and, if they did a search, they probably would either find Walker and ‘Hard Fists’ or would have clues about their whereabouts. But they didn’t had one single clue against those two (or Ellie, Peñaros and DeVrien), didn’t had probable cause to make searches in the hotel and didn’t knew who was the mastermind behind all the whole scheme and why. If they did a search they would have found Walker, ‘Hard Fists’ and a couple of no-gooders called Simon Tyler and ‘Rabbit’ Parkson in one room and a former pro-wrestler called Thelma Sanlans taking care of Ellie in another.
Ellie’s two days stay at the hotel were completely uneventful since Thelma had received orders to treat her fine, and leave absolutely no marks on her body but had to prevent her from doing anything (especially leave the room). So Thelma, a bulky and incredibly strong woman had first forced the younger and weaker Ellie to strip completely until she was standing naked in the middle of the room, then she applied padded cuffs on her wrists and ankles and smothered three strips of wide silver tape over the girl’s lips, carried her to the bed of the room and put her under the covers. And spent the rest of the time watching TV or reading pulp magazines (when she wasn’t tending to Ellie’s needs of course) while Ellie either cried in fear, prayed nonstop or tried to watch Thelma’s favorite TV shows.
At 2:15 AM of the day of the meeting the fire alarm of the hotel was activated and, in the ensuing panic, none of the cops watching the place managed to see the gang leaving it.
Nor Bryant nor Morgan were able to see them overtaking the manor of the Pembroke. Both the detective and the PI had been invited to a dinner at the manor of Morgan’s client, in which all the women under 25 surrounded the gallant former US Marine with questions about his past exploits in the Pacific during WWII, and he had been ‘invited’ by Marguerite to stay for the night. With his trustee binoculars he perused all the manors and houses at the left of the one he was at the moment, and had to deal with three ‘intruders’ (Martha and two friends) who entered in his room ‘by mistake’ (while wearing classy yet sensual set of underwear under their robes), while Morgan did the same with the manors at the right (and had to deal with only one ‘intruder’, the mother of one of Martha’s friends...).
Morning came and everybody at the manor was having breakfast when Lizzie’s mother phoned her daughter. Lizzie did found her mother’s behavior very odd, as if she was scared, but told her that she was going to obey her and was due to be home in less than thirty minutes with Eddie and Martha. Morgan and Bryant exchanged looks and Bryant excused himself, going to make phone calls to have the Pembroke manor watched and surrounded ASAP. Then Lizzie received another call from her mother. That one was definitely weird, she was asked to ask Martha to wear the green and white Dior that she (Lizzie’s mother) had given to Martha as one of many Christmas gifts. And was very demanding at that.
Now Marguerite and Morgan exchanged looks, and Morgan went to talk with ‘Mama Leo’. The oldest maid of the house had everything ready as they had planned (and trained with one of the youngest maids of the manor two days before). They found Martha talking with Eddie and Lizzie in her room as she was about to put on the Dior and ‘Mama Leo’, who had some sort of influence over Martha (due to the fact that Martha had grew up under her constant care), told Martha that Morgan had a very important and secret business to tell to her. So important that neither Lizzie nor Eddie were to be present when she told her that.
A bit annoyed and very reluctantly the two young women left the room after they put on their own Diors (white and blue in Lizzie’s case and totally blue in Eddie’s).
One minute later Martha had been subdued by ‘Mama Leo’’s big hands and Morgan was wrapping rope over her wildly trashing body. The first thing that they had done was to shove the two hankies inside her mouth, then ‘Mama Leo’ had grabbed her and forced her to face her as the PI tied her arms and legs, then she was properly gagged and the PI finished her bindings, then they forced her to hop her way to the closet and Morgan finished her job. At that point Lizzie and Eddie knocked at the door, they had heard the weird sounds coming from the locked room and were making demands.
Bryant and Marguerite were soon standing at their sides, and both didn’t knew about Morgan and ‘Mama Leo’’s plan. ‘Mama Leo’ opened the door long enough to Morgan leave the room and she ignored the two young socialites and her client. Bryant had bad news, DeVrien and Peñaros were spotted in a group of seven men leaving the Pembroke manor not two minutes before. As she heard that her family had fell under the power of a bunch of criminals Lizzie got desperate, and wanted to go there as fast as possible. Morgan grabbed her and held her in a human lock. Eddie tried to scream for help but, surprisingly, she was handgagged by Marguerite who asked Morgan what they should do with them.
Bryant told the women that in no hypothesis at all the girls should be allowed to become new hostages for the criminals, and Morgan asked Marguerite if her room’s closet were as big and had doors as strong and thick as Martha’s room’s were. Bryant grabbed the petite brunette from Marguerite’s arms (and actually lifted her two feet off the floor) and with all care possible in such a situation he followed Morgan, who wasn’t having a hard time forcing Lizzie to move. The young blonde girl did wanted to go back home, but she was way too weak (and frail and thin) to match Morgan’s strength and vicious armlock.
Marguerite lead the way to her own room and, as the PI and the detective (and the girls they were holding in their arms) were waiting for her to open a closet, she instead grabbed a box under her bed. That box had at least four dozen scarves in it and, with a few of them in her right hand, Marguerite stood in front of a crying and wrecked Lizzie.
‘Lizzie dear, look at me…’
And thus Marguerite spent five minutes binding and gagging Lizzie Pembroke as she told her that all would be fine, but they were dealing with big deal and dangerous criminals and if that was (as it seemed) the only way that they had to ensure that she or Eddie would not do anything ‘really stupid’, then she’ll do it with without any doubt. But she could rest assured that her safety (and Eddie’s) were at they moment as important as Martha’s.
Again Morgan was marveled at the older woman’s skills. The ties were not going to really hurt Lizzie, but nothing would make her able to lift her hand from the small of her back or separate her arms or legs or anything else, if only the men and women that had 9in the past) bound and gagged her had been so (weirdly) kind to her...
As Marguerite repeated the process far more rapidly with a slightly less terrified Edwina (Eddie) Chateaux Benart, she asked Morgan what she had done with her daughter. And was as genuinely shocked as the captives with what she heard.
The fact that her own daughter was now a prisoner in her own room was a bit surprising for Marguerite, but she realized that she was the sole responsible for everything.
She had tried to preserve her family’s name and status and those were the consequences: a dear friend (Lizzie’s mother) and her family captives of thugs hired by DeVrien’s boss, and she being forced to let such an absurd situation (her daughter and her daughter’s friends captives in her own home), but she was ready to tell Morgan and Bryant everything that they wanted. After Lizzie and Eddie were locked inside a closet remembered her Morgan.
Both girls were carried to inside Marguerite largest closet by Bryant, one at the time of course, in a bridal fashion and were made to sit with Eddie’s ankles crossing (and above) Lizzie’s. Then Marguerite bound them in that position with another long scarf and, for safety purposes, added three more scarves to each girl’s torso and added strips of wide white tape over their already cleavegagged lips. They weren’t going anywhere…
As she was about to tell them everything, after they went downstairs to the library, the butler arrived at the room and announced the arrival of DeVrien and the others. She only managed to say one name to them before she went to meet the ‘gentlemen’.
‘Wallace Lane Raleigh’. Both Morgan and Bryant had heard about him, a famous British entrepreneur and businessman that was more than just visioning a political career in the British government ever since the end of the war. The only thing that had prevented him from doing so were rumors about some shadowy deals he had had with the Nazi Germany between 1934-38, that he had spent millions to deny or to dismiss. He now had a rock solid reputation and was seen as a more than respectable millionaire.
They left the library through another door as the phone ringed. It was Stephanie (Lizzie’s mother) asking her longtime friend what was taking the girls so long to arrive at her home. Knowing that whoever had took Steph hostage was probably listening the call, Marguerite told her friend that the girls had left minutes before, but Martha had said that they would stop at Laramie’s home before they finally went to the Pembroke Manor.
Neither Marguerite nor Stephanie Pembroke knew any Laramie, but during the ‘wild days’ of their youth (years before they settled down and married) they had found themselves in a tight spot while visiting Laramie, WY, only to realize that their bodyguards could have ‘rescued’ them anytime they wanted (but their parents had forbid them to do that) after the whole frightening experience was over. And Stephanie did remember that secret portion of her past, and asked Marguerite if that meant that all three girls would only stop by for lunch and heard that ‘it was most likely for dinner’.
As Marguerite focused her attention to the business meeting, Stephanie was regagged by ‘Hard Fists’ and carried over his shoulder to the spot in the large dinner room (against the Eastern wall) where her family and servants were lying helpless as Walker pondered in what they should do or not. They had the entire manor’ staff and inhabitants as their captives, sixteen persons, nicely roped up and gagged in the same room.
No one had yet noticed their presence and everything seemed fine for them to stay a few more hours. But the one girl they had to grab before ‘phase two’ of their plan wasn’t due to arrive within one or two hours… to hell with it!
He gave the keys of one of the cars to the Polish babe and told her to play her part and open the back door of the manor to Peñaros. Or another member of her family would suffer ‘an accident’. The girl nodded and left the place in a hurry in one of the Pembroke’s cars. ‘Hard Fists’ was eyeing (with obvious intents) Angie Pembroke (the three years younger sister of Lizzie), Simon and ‘Rabbit’ were looting the place and Walker was checking his guns.
Only Thelma saw the cops closing in on the house, but she didn’t did or said anything.
She had seen what kind of ‘business associates’ she had been forced to work with this time, and was a friend of the late O’Bannon, so she wasn’t really thrilled with the idea of helping them. She said to the others that she was going to grab a glass of water in the kitchen, and opened the door for the cops to enter the place (going to the length to wave her hand to one of them who hadn’t been stealth enough and move it as if saying ‘come in’).
When she returned to the dinner room she, like everybody else in the room, could see that it was a matter of moments before ‘Hard Fists’ grabbed Angie and carried her to a room. He was standing right in front of the 19/20 years old short crop hair blonde, who had been tied up in a kneeling position by Thelma not one hour before after a bathroom break, and was extending his right hand to better touch the girl’s silk covered breasts.
Thelma was by his side in one second and grabbed his wrist in a most vicious way. He punched her but she seemingly wasn’t affected by it (albeit she started to bleed from her nose). ‘Let’s talk’ she said to him between gritted teeth and they left the room going to the back of the manor. Before she left she managed to mouth ‘Don’t worry’ to the captives without being seen by the others, and some of them could see that she meant business for the tall gorilla. Moments later the sounds of the fight between them filled the whole place.
And as all the men couldn’t believe in their ears as they heard ‘Hard Fists’ crying for mercy and help, the cops stormed the place. Walker was killed when he tried to shoot at them, Simon tried to jump from a window in the first floor and nearly broke his feet as he landed painfully wrong, ‘Rabbit’ was more successful but only managed to run for thirty seconds before he was tackled by a rookie cop and arrested. Four cops had a lot of trouble to remove Thelma’s body from over ‘Hard Fist’ bruised and battered one.
The whole manor was safe in less than two minutes.
Back at the Zymbrievski manor Ellie, dressed as she expected (but obviously wasn’t sure) that Martha would have been dressed when she left the manor about forty minutes before (if nothing had went wrong with the plan), was welcomed by ‘Mama Leo’ who grabbed her hand before she could say any excuse about why she was ‘coming back’ in another car, and started to took her upstairs as she told her that ‘someone’ (implying that it was Tom Kolling, Martha’s not-so-secret boyfriend) was waiting for her in her room.
Not wanting to arise any suspicion on her, Ellie complied and did managed to act and talk like Martha as she was ‘secretly’ guided by ‘Mama Leo’ to Martha’s room. And was welcomed by Morgan, the woman that she had knocked out and tied up (with the help of her brother) nearly two weeks before… and who had a few coils of rope in her hands…
The fight was brief yet furious, and since Morgan had a few accounts to settle with her and ‘Mama Leo’ knew what her ‘partners’ wanted to do with her Lil’ Mattie (which was how she called Martha), they both weren’t as gentle as they had been with Martha. As Morgan held the girl down ‘Mama Leo’ did the whole binding, and what a binding!, if Marguerite skills were great then what Morgan should think about those of the old black woman?
What have happened within those walls for those two women have such proficiency?
As if it mattered… much.
The Polish girl was soon tightly held by an inescapable mass of rope efficiently applied all over her body, and was looking at both women with very frightened eyes. Then all three heard the bangings coming from the closet in which they had locked Martha.
‘Mama Leo’ wanted to check on her Lil’ Mattie, but Morgan told her to go downstairs and get ready for the last part of the plan. She then shoved Ellie on the bed, and the girl did bounce a couple of times as she landed on the eiderdown on her back. Then she saw (with rage filled eyes) the PI going to the closet and opening it, and admonishing the real Martha Zymbrievski... who was tied up in her undies? And seemed as surprised now as he probably was, well, of course that she was surprised... who wouldn’t?
Then the PI was helping her to stand up and tried to force to hop to the closet.
She had too much to loose, not to mention some jail time, if she wasn’t able to help those dreadful men into achieving whatever that it was inside that accursed safe! But then the buxom PI whispered in her ear ‘Ellie, do not worry about anything, you are not going to jail nor those worms are going to hurt anyone in your family ever again!!!’.
She knew her name and nickname? She knew about what they had done to her father? She could... really... protect her family from those men? The blonde lady smiled and nodded at all her muted questions, and she decided that she had nothing left to lose now, so it was better for her to cooperate with this ‘bimbo’ as the Americans called them.
She hoped very carefully her way to the closet, then she was helped to sit on the floor in front of the girl whom she was supposed to ‘substitute’, and how that girl was bulging her eyes in perplexity at her!, the PI checked their bonds and changed her gag and then said a few words to the bratty little snob girl (she had learned so much about her in order to better impersonate and hadn’t liked one bit of what she had heard and read) before she closed the door of the closet. What was she looking at? OK, it’s not everyday that you meet someone that it’s your doppelganger, specially under such circumstances, but still...
Then all went dark.
Morgan locked the girls and kept the key in her purse, then she went downstairs. Bryant and three other policemen were waiting for a call from their companions that were dealing with the men at the Pembroke Manor. They got the radio call and (silently) rejoiced, and got ready to invade the library. But when they were about to enter the door was opened by Peñaros (who had some letters in his hands) and another man (who had a gun with him).
Bryant managed to get a glimpse of Marguerite bound to a chair and cleavegagged at the left of a young girl dressed as a French maid who had short black hair and very big black eyes (also bound to one of the armchairs of the room and gagged with a white scarf) and a the right of a man who was busy in the process of binding her lawyers (Pannycott was already tied up and was lying unconscious with his body partially sprawled on the table after having been pistol butted hard by DeVriens), before the door was closed violently.
He kicked it open immediately and they invaded the library.
For some yet unknown reason DeVriens had pulled a gun at Marguerite and his ‘lawyers’ had revealed themselves to be good looking and well-dressed thugs, who then proceeded to tie up and gag everybody else in the room, including the maid who had brought them coffee not one minute before, while Peñaros opened the safe. He had tried to burn the letters but decided that first he would check if they were the ones he was after...
With the cops bursting in the room the tall and skinny black assistant of Mr. Panycott (the family’s lawyer) kicked the thug who was binding him and then sent his knee to the doubled over guy’s nose, KOing him. One of the thugs tried to pull a gun at him and was immediately shot in the arm by detective Holt, and thus there was a draw in the room.
Besides DeVriens, who was now shielding himself with the bound body of the terrified maid wrapped by his left arm and holding a gun against her right temple, there were three thugs with guns and four armed cops and both groups were pointing their guns at each other. The maid was now hysterical, but DeVriens didn’t risked to do anything else but scream at her, since he feared being shot at if he diverted his eyes one second from the cops in front of him. He started to walk backward and shouting to the cops to give him and his men passage, they seemed to hesitate at first but apparently they complied...
And DeVrien felt a gun against his nape.
‘You move and I shoot. You say anything and I shoot. You do anything but release this poor girl in your arms and I shoot. You try anything else and I shoot. Got it?’
It was a woman’s voice?! Probably it wasn’t even a gun... no. It was a gun, and even a woman could kill him shooting at him in such a small distance... he had forgotten the open window! IDIOT!!! What should he do? The vixen in his arms was now very agitated, and the cops were way too confident now and... Oliver nodded surreptitiously at him...
And got shot in the right shoulder one moment later as he tried to get a lucky shot at the woman behind him. Then, before anyone could identify who had shot it was Michael’s turn to get a bullet (this time in his arm) and finally Collins, who had realized that it was the black man who was shooting his companions and had tried to shoot at him, got two bullets in the chest and fell dead on the floor. And the cops grabbed his men before he could say or even think anything. One of them was saying something to the black guy...
‘Ahem? Hello? There’s still a poor girl in yours arms... you rotten worm. You have now five seconds before I send you to where you belong. Four... three... two...’
‘Don’t shoot!!! Don’t...’ – and he released the girl, who immediately run to the awaiting arms of the fat black maid (who had just untied the widow). He crouched on the and put his gun in it, then he stood up with both his arms raised high (but he still could grab his hidden .22 in one swift moment), then he turned around to see the woman who had forced him to apparently surrender... and got mad, really mad.
A... a... a bimbo??!!! He had surrendered to a... bimbo with big melons??!!!
DeVriens made a movement as if he was going to grab something in his suit’s inside pocket. And was immediately gunned down by the detectives who shouted Morgan to get down on the ground as they pulled their guns’ triggers.
‘Mama Leo’ had took the maid to her own room in the back of the manor (where the family’s doctor was waiting after being summoned in case of an emergency – but not as the one that happened). He took care of the girl, Pannycott and Mrs. Zymbrievski.
‘Mama Leo’ for her turn went upstairs and took the four girls out of the two closets and put them in and around the bed of Marguerite’s bedroom. They all pleaded intently fthrough their gags, but she had received orders that the girls were not to interfere with the whole final development of the mess created by the late Mr. Zymbrievski’s greed.
Lizzie was the hardest to move, since she demanded (even heavily gagged) that she was freed immediately so she could go to where her family was (who had done such a poor job of gagging her?), but after ‘Mama Leo’ told her that she had talked with Jarvis (the Pembroke Manor’s butler) and he had told her that all was fine at the manor and everybody had a ‘great fright’ but nothing else thanks to a ‘mountain of a lady’ (neither Lizzie nor her knew what he had meant with that), she became ‘just’ very anxious and more cooperative.
Eddie and Lil’ Mattie were a bit annoying (and she did slap them in the behind as a warning for a generous spanking if they didn’t behaved) but didn’t tried to run after she freed their legs as Lizzie had. The impersonator was by far the most docile of the four, and the shock and surprise that were stamped in Lizzie and Eddie’s faces when they saw her for the first time was undeniably funny (but she managed to suppress her laughters).
After all four girls were tied up either to the posts of the bed (Lizzie, Ellie and Eddie) or over it (Martha), ‘Mama Leo’ told them that only after Marguerite told her to set them free is that she would do that. And she went downstairs to check on her childhood friend/boss.
Marguerite was trying to convince Dean Pembroke (Lizzie’s father) to omit the presence of Ellie as part of the gang that had invaded his manor. He said that he needed a good reason to do that, and she sold him the 5.68 % of the shares of the *********** company (that he had been trying to buy from her for the past nine months) for one dollar.
No one at the Pembroke Manor said anything about Ellie for the police, the press or the jury (when the gang of attackers went to trial a few months later).
Pannycott and the maid had to be taken to hospitals, the street in front of the gates now had a battalion of reporters (including a couple from TV?) and curious people flooding it, and Marguerite saw (with resignation in her eyes) that one of the detectives was reading the letters (that were in German) with very obvious disgust for what he was acknowledging.
She had to check on the girls anyway... so she and ‘Mama Leo’ went to her room. She freed Lizzie first and held the girl in her arms as all the fear and terror she had felt over the past three hours turned into tears and sobs, then she told her that everything was fine with her family. A female criminal had beaten up (badly) a man who had tried to have some liberties with her sister, and there were a few bullet holes to be dealt with but no one had been (seriously) hurt by the invaders. Then Eddie (who had been freed by ‘Mama Leo’) made the inevitable question: ‘Who is she?’ – as she pointed both index fingers at Ellie.
‘Martha’s cousin in 5th or 6th degree.’ – answered Morgan as she entered the room.
Martha was freed by her mother (and voiced her curiosity about her mother’s dexterity in undoing knots) and both exchanged the first genuine hug between them in seven years. Then, as Martha redressed herself with a Yves Saint-Laurent that ‘Mama Leo’ had picked up at her room, she asked Morgan what she meant with that.
In ten minutes the girls knew everything, and swore secrecy as long as they could have a ‘chit-chat’ with Ellie. It was obvious that they meant anything BUT a conversation with the still tied up and more than just concerned) girl, but Morgan warned them that if Ellie (whom she had found out was as much as a victim as they were) was hurt by the girls then they would have to pay for that. The girls were very unconvincing as they promised that they would behave... and Ellie looked at Morgan with such a plight in her eyes...
Downstairs the letters that Holt had read had proven to be (at the very least) very toxic for Wallace Lane Raleigh’s political ambitions. They proved without a doubt that he had maintained his business deals with the Axis during wartime!!! Marguerite then confessed the family’s most shameful secret. Somehow, through very unclear means, her late husband had managed to obtain the letters in 1941 and, instead of giving them to the authorities, he had used them to blackmail Raleigh and turn him into his newest partner.
Alexander Hamilton Zymbrievski had made business with the Axis (through Spain and Portugal)... Even with his Polish ancestry and the Declaration of War!!!
That would ruin her and her daughter’s reputation and, shamelessly with a straight face, she asked the detectives if there wasn’t anything that she could do for them to make them forget the link between the letters and her late husband.
The detectives looked at each other (including Morgan) for a moment...
The problem was that O’Bannon had been killed for having given them information that had proven to be useful for them, and the detectives couldn’t simply forget it. Morgan decided that they should listen to what Ellie had to say about O’Bannon’s death first.
She re-entered Martha’s room expecting to find Lizzie talking to her mother on the phone (and crying tears of joy as she heard that everybody was fine, now) and Eddie and Martha tickling (with big feathers or their fingers) an impotent Ellie (or spanking her) who had been stripped to her white bra and panties (way more simple and conservative than Martha’s) and tied on the bed in what looked like an ‘Eiffel Tower’ position (legs wide open with each ankle tied to one of the bed’s front legs and arms over the head with the wrists tied together and to the bed frame). She thought afterwards that she really shouldn’t have taken that job that forced her to model for Mr. Klaw a couple of times...
Eddie and Lizzie were sitting in chairs in front of the bed where Ellie and Martha sat side by side, Ellie was wearing one of Martha’s less favored dresses (a red and white skirt with matching shirt and sweater), and they had been talking and talking (and crying) about the whole experience. Minutes later Ellie was talking to the detectives.
It all had started one year before. She was helping her father at the fish shop and they were having trouble with a small mob boss that, all of a sudden, had decided to give them as much trouble as possible. It didn’t took one month for her father be on his knees, literally, since they had managed to frame her brother for a big crime that (this time she admitted) he hadn’t committed. The mob boss (‘Red’ Lowell, a small fry wannabe with bloody habits) had made them a proposition, there was this ‘simple job’ that required someone who was a lookalike to a socialite and Ellie was the spitting image of the girl, so...
Ellie had spent nine months learning how Martha spoke, walked and moved around in order to better impersonate her. Then there was the first attempt to get the letters, but the numbers she had received as to being the combination ones were incorrect. Then O’Bannon had been arrested on what looked like a phony charge and she (along with her father) went to a gathering of the gang in the docks, and Walker shot O’Bannon after receiving through a phone call an order of DeVrien right in front of her eyes. Her father had tried to object her participation in the scam and, as she was viciously held by Thelma in a tight lock (and handgagged by Thelma’s big left hand), she saw her father being beaten up by ‘Hard Fists’ and two of Lowell’s thugs. And afterwards both Lowell and DeVrien made numerous treats on her and her family, so she had to get along with the plan.
Peñaros confirmed part of Ellie’s story (including O’Bannon’s death) and told the cops that Ellie wasn’t supposed to outlive the whole experience since DeVrien had told ‘Hard Fists’ and Walker that she was a ‘serious liability’. Since this was against his personal honor code (as to how he should proceed in a ‘job’), he was ready to tell the whole story to the press and any judge they wanted him to. Bryant, who was sort of an unofficial leader of the detectives (just like them he had to report to the lieutenant back at the precinct), had all eyes converged on him. And what he decided became what the world knew about the case.
‘This is going to cost you a lot, ma’am...’
‘Red’ Lowell was arrested that same night. At first he denied everything, but after Bryant and the lieutenant showed that they had proofs that he was involved in murder, murder attempts and two strikes at the homes of two very important families, he decided to comply and confess a list of criminal charges. He would serve twenty years rather than risk the death corridor, not one semester afterward he was history and no one remembered him.
Pannycott’s first act after he was released from the hospital was to visit O’Bannon’s widow. He ensured her that her husband’s killer was dead and that he had been killed for trying to do the right thing, albeit he couldn’t and wouldn’t give her anymore details due to legal reasons, and she signed the papers that give to her three children a 20K dollars trust fund and to her a bank account with 40 thousand dollars.
The two raids on the Zymbrievski and Pembroke manors were treated as two different and unrelated crimes by the press and law. If they dared to say anything about Ellie’s existence, the criminals arrested in both cases would be tried as accomplices of O’Bannon’s death, so they kept their mouths shut. ‘Hard Fists’’ reputation was smashed when word came out about how he ‘cried like a little girl’ as he was being beaten by a woman.
Thelma was represented by a big bucks lawyer hired by the Pembrokes, and managed to get a light sentence. Nine months later she led a prison break (beating five male cops in the process), of which she (even with her size and looks) was the only successful escapee, and soon became a legend in the so called Underworld due to both her strength and stealthiness.
The Kryzykis’ fish shop closed two days after the raids and was moved to San Diego. Barry kept having problems with the law until his death, but Ellie and their father had a normal life, even after a reporter discovered her and she was nicknamed ‘Martha Lerrant’s Twin Sister’. She had her ‘first’ meeting with her cousin exactly four years after the raids.
Morgan received a sizable bonus from Marguerite and, for a while, managed to kept the debt collectors away from her door. But not two days after a quick visit of her to London the infamous Raleigh Affair was in all English newspapers’ front pages. Raleigh spent the next years trying to avoid (unsuccessfully) jail time and saw his reputation, friendships, legitimate business associates and contracts vanish while he did so.
None of the detectives did accept any bribery, but one week after the raids Marguerite (supposedly as an act of gratitude towards the police) established the Lerrant Foundation that granted many scholarships for policemen’ sons and daughters for decades. And she paid for a complete reform of the building in which the Police Ball was held yearly, the first of many charitable acts that the foundation did ever since.