Lady Markham was sitting in the boardroom of Markham Consultants, chairing the meeting of her executive team. A strong proponent of feminism in the 60’s, she was proud of the fact that she now headed a team of six of the finest female brains in the business world, dedicated to the promotion of the female voice in industry and commerce, and she showed that appreciation in the rewards she paid. As she sat there listening to the executive secretary completing her report, she smiled inwardly at the knowledge of what was about to happen.
“Thank you, Denise,” she said as the secretary sat down. “Unless there is any other business, I have one last item to share with you. As is our custom, we will be getting together tonight for our monthly social event. Fro this month however, I have arranged a special surprise. I would like you all to meet me at the house at 7 pm tonight, where all will be explained.”
The six women all looked at each other. They knew Lady Markham was an unusual woman, but she very rarely sprang surprises like this.
“Good – then we have concluded our business for today,” she said as she stood up. The other team members stood and watched as she left the room.
“Any idea what she has planned, Denise,” Mary asked as the door closed behind her.
“None whatsoever,” Denise replied as she looked around. “We should all come prepared for anything.”
Denise arrived at the Markham residence at around quarter to six and on ringing the front doorbell was answered by Anika, Lady Markham’s housekeeper.
“Who does the car belong to?” Denise asked as she handed her coat to Anika.
“That is part of Lady Markham’s surprise,” she said as she led Denise to the drawing room.
Lady Markham was standing by the fireplace, dressed in a silk dressing gown tied around her waist and heeled sandals.
“Denise – I’m so glad you got here first,” she said. Although she was sixty, Lady Markham had the looks and body of a woman ten years younger. She motioned to Denise to sit down, and she took a seat on the ottoman, smoothing her skirt as she sat.
“What’s happening tonight, Lady Markham?”
“All in good time, Denise. When the others arrive, I will explain everything. In the meantime, have a glass of champagne.” She handed Denise a glass and filled it from a bottle she took from the cooler.
Over the next quarter of an hour, Mary and the other four members of the team arrived, to be greeted by Anika and admitted to the drawing room. All had seen the car parked in the driveway, but Lady Markham still kept her silence until the clock struck a quarter past,
“Anika,” Lady Markham said as her housekeeper laid out a buffet, “Would you draw the curtains to the driveway please?”
“Yes Lady Markham,” she said, and after turning on the lamps and drawing the curtains she left the room.
“Ladies, I have asked you here tonight to offer you a night of completely decadent luxury and total relaxation.” Saying this, she undid her robe, and the team were astonished to see she was only wearing a black bustier and matching knickers underneath.
“What do you think?” she said.
“Lady Markham, we’re all – well, astonished” Mary said, “But also fascinated. They look beautiful – where did you get them?”
“Abigail, would you come in please?” Lady Markham called, and from an adjoining room a young, blonde haired woman walked in. She was wearing a black silk blouse and leather skirt with knee length fabric boots.
“Ladies, this is Abigail Smithson, winner of the Undergarments class at the recent British Fashion Week competition. I was one of the judges, and loved her work so much I asked her to host a private show for us tonight of her wares. If you go through to the next room with her, she will fit you with outfits for the evening that I think you will love, and then we will eat, drink and make merry.”
The six ladies looked at each other, and then Denise stood up and walked over. “If you would come this way, ladies,” Abigail said, and the team followed her into the next room.
Over the next half hour, each of the women was shown a variety of undergarments, and each chose an outfit to wear. Denise selected white bra and panties set, with a suspender belt and stockings, while Mary chose a royal blue set of the same style. When the time had passed, all seven women were sitting in the room, eating and drinking and looking at more samples of Abigail’s work, while their clothes and other items were safe in the adjoining room.
A ring on the doorbell went unnoticed by the women, but not by Anika who went to answer. This proved to be a mistake for her, as she was grabbed and frogmarched into the rear of the house by two masked men, while a third quietly closed the door behind him and his other companion.
“So, Abigail, how is you company set-up coming along?”
Lady Markham was sat next to the designer, the only one not wearing lingerie of the party.
“The most difficult thing has been the name. I wanted to go with Abigail’s Secret, but that one was shot down by the lawyers, so at the moment it looks like Chez Abi is the winner.”
“Well, whatever it is I’m sure with our backing it will be a success. Ladies – please raise your glasses in a toast to Chez Abi!”
The seven women had raised their glasses when the door burst open and four masked and armed men walked in, one carrying a large holdall.
“Nobody move a muscle – stay perfectly still!”
Lady Markham stepped forward “What is the meaning of this?”
The tallest of the mean stepped forward.
“Are you Lady Markham?”
“Then you are the meaning of this.”
The four men were wearing different coloured overalls, but all had balaclava masks over their heads and gloved hands.
“Mr Brown, take the modest young lady and make sure she is secure with the housekeeper.”
The man in brown overalls took Abigail by the arm and led her out of the room. She shot a frightened glance back at the others as the door was closed behind her.
“Lady Markham, you will come with me. The rest of you, stand still until Mr Grey and Mr White tell you what to do.”
The leader, who was dressed in Black, took Lady Markham by the arm.
“Do not manhandle me, young man. If you guarantee my friends will be safe, I will come with you.”
Mr Black nodded, and he followed Lady Markham out of the room.
“All right,” Mr White said, “I want the six of you to pair off and sit down on the floor, back to back and hands on your heads.”
Mary and Denise looked at each other, and then sat down together. The two oldest women, who were wearing cream coloured camisole tops, also sat together, as did the two young secretaries. One of them, a young blonde haired girl who was wearing a green bra and knickers, was crying softly. Denise looked on as the bag was opened and a large number of neatly coiled lengths of rope were produced.
“All right,” Mr Grey said, “who wants to be first?”
Mr Brown pushed Abigail into the kitchen, where she saw Anika sitting on the floor and trying to scream at her. The thick white cloth in her mouth was preventing any sound escaping. Ropes had been tied around her wrists in front of her, and also around her ankles, with a further length linking the two. Her chest and arms were also wrapped in rope.
“Hands behind your back, young lady,” Mr Brown said as he took a length of rope from the table. Abigail looked over her shoulder as the rope was wound around and between her wrists, securing them tightly together.
Mr Brown pulled a chair out from the table, and moved Abigail to sit down on the seat. Taking a long length of rope, he secured one end to the chair at the top of a leg and began to lash her securely around the chest and lap to the seat. With each tug, she felt her chest becoming more constricted, until the top buttons on her blouse started to pop. Once he was satisfied, he took a further length and tied her ankles together and against the crossbar of the chair.
“Open up,” he said, and as Abigail opened her mouth a thick cloth was also used to gag her.
“Now, sit still and do nothing,” the robber said as he closed and locked the door behind him, leaving the two women staring at each other in mute fear.
“Thank you for being so cooperative, Lady Markham” Mr Black said as he closed up the small bag he had placed the jewellery in.
“It is not as if I have a choice in the matter” she replied. Lady Markham was sat on the side of her bed. Her arms were pinioned behind her back, and if you could see behind you would see that her wrist had been tied to the elbow of the other arm to form a box shape. Rope had been wrapped around her chest above and below her breasts, and cinched off under her arms.
“Well, we are professionals, as you have seen. My colleagues will now have relieved your friends of their valuables as well.”
“And what have you done with them?”
“Let’s go and see, shall we?”
Taking his captive by the arm, Mr Black led her back down the stairs and into the main room. Lady Markham gasped as she saw the sight before her.
The six women had been bound together in pairs. The two older women were against the ottoman. Their wrists were crossed and bound in front of them, as well their ankles, and ropes held the wrists tightly to the ankles. Their legs were tied together above the knees, and rope was wrapped around their chests and cinched with further lengths tied between their backs.
The two young secretaries were lying on their sides on the floor, back to back. Their arms were around each other, and their wrist tied together in front of the other’s waist. Lengths of rope had been wrapped around their upper and lower chest, waist, thighs, calves and their bound ankles. All four of these women had signs of something stuffed in their mouths, and rolled up scarves pulled between their lips to hold the packing in place.
Denise and Mary were also sat on the floor. They had been told to link their arms, and then their wrists had been tied with rope in front of the other’s waist so that, although there was some space between them, they could not move them. Their ankles had also been crossed and bound, and their legs bound together above and below their knees. As Lady Markham watched, rope was being wound around their chests as well to hold them together.
Denise looked up and saw her watching them. “Are you all right, Lady Markham?”
“Forget me; are all of you all right?”
“The younger women were frightened, but we managed to calm them down and explain if they did as we were told, at least we would live through this.”
“Wise words – and the last you’ll say for a while,” Mr White said as he stuffed a large handkerchief into Denise’s mouth, before pulling a scarf between her lips. Mary was quickly given the same treatment.
“You lie down on the Ottoman,” Mr Black told Lady Markham, “And we’ll make sure you’re nice and comfortable as well.”
He pushed her down, and taking ropes he quickly crossed and bound her ankles. Rolling her over, further rope was applied to her legs before she was rolled back onto her stomach and placed into a hog tie.
“You ladies enjoy your evening now,” Mr Black said as he gagged Lady Markham. The gang gathered up their bags, and left the room.
For the next few hours, all seven women tried to free themselves, but to no avail. The pairs had been bound in such a way that they could not even help one of the other groups, and Lady Markham was unable to put herself in a position to help either.
In the kitchen, on the other hand, Anika had been slowly loosening the ropes around her chest to the extent that, after three hours had passed, she was able to shake the ropes around her chest down.
Abigail watched, fascinated, as she pulled her knees up to allow herself to reach the gag in her mouth, and slowly ease it out.
“Please, Miss,” she said once she had regained her breath, “Do not panic. There is a button that I can reach t raise the alarm. Allow me to try to reach it.”
Wriggling across the floor, Anika made her way to the cupboard next to the main refrigerator. Slowly pulling it open, Abigail watched as she lay on her side, and kicked at a white panel that was laid into the door.
“Now, we wait,” she said as she lay on the floor. After a quarter hour had passed, the sound of sirens coming up the lane caused the seven executives to start screaming and wriggling around, much to the misfortune of Mary and Denise in particular, whose bras had fallen off as part of their struggles.
Later the next day, Abigail sighed as she showed the detectives out of her attic office. She hadn’t slept much, and the events of the previous night had begun to tell on her.
Opening a cabinet, she drew out a bottle of whisky and a glass, and poured herself a large measure. As she sat down, the telephone rang. Wearily placing the glass on the table, she picked up the receiver.
“Hello, Chez Abi. How may I help you?”
The voice like dark chocolate made Abigail sit up in an instant.
“Madame – do what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Two things. Firstly, to thank you for the most recent order you completed for me. It was truly of the finest quality.”
“Th.. thank you, Madame.”
“Secondly, I wished to apologise for the ordeal you went through last night. Your information was indeed of the highest quality, but as this is the first time we have conducted this form of business I sent the information to a group who work with me occasionally. I trust you are not too badly hurt?”
“No, Madame. I was shocked, but realised after they had left what had happened.”
“At any rate, I believe we can do this in the future when the opportunities arise, and my own personal team will take care of the matter in future.”
“Thank you Madame.”
“No thank you Abigail. We will talk again.”
The line went dead, and Abigail took a deep drink of whisky. A new and more profitable area of business had opened up, but it would remain her little secret.