The Reception

 

 

 

 

 

 

The noise in the conference hall was increasing in volume as more and more guests came in, waiters walking round with trays carrying drinks, canapes, empty glasses, everything that you do not want the guests to be holding for more than the required time.

 

Alex smiled as she walked round, looking at some of the business exhibition stands and making polite conversation where it had to be made.  She stood at five foot seven tall, with long brown hair, and wearing the pink wool dress with a black herringbone check made her look like one of the many businesswoman walking the floor.  She was also wearing knee length taupe leather boots, the black checked tights visible between the tops of her boots and the hem of her skirt.

 

She continued to walk round the floor, looking through her black rimmed spectacles.  Nothing was escaping her gaze, but it was just another night as far as she could tell, so she accepted a glass of champagne and started to drink – then looked back at the waiter as he walked away.

 

Putting the glass down on the tray of another passing waiter, she followed the first one into the corridors behind the main hall, growing more concerned as he turned in the opposite direction from the kitchen and walked down the corridor, leaving his tray on a table as he did so.  Alex walked slowly forward, looking from side to side, as he ducked into a doorway, and she followed him in.

 

The room was in darkness, as Alex stood for a moment.  She knew he had come in here, but she could not see a single thing now, especially as the door swung close behind her.  Standing still for a moment, she tried to look further in, desperate for her eyes to adjust to the light.

 

So the damp cloth over her nose and mouth took Alex completely by surprise, as she opened her eyes wide and her mouth to scream.  But as she did this, she smelt the sweet fumes as she inhaled, and realised what the dampness was, what the cloth was soaked in.

 

She struggled and reached up, desperate to tear the cloth away by any means possible, but the grip was too strong, and it was already starting to work, as her brain seemed to fill with fog, her senses dull, and her strength sap away as she suddenly felt very, very tired, unable to do anything except close her eyes and relax…

 

 

As she slumped to the floor, the waiter laid her down, as three more men came out of the gloom.  He knelt down and removed her glasses, watching as two of the men took lengths of white rope and bound Alex’s wrists and ankles tightly together, the third one tearing a strip of white tape form a roll and pressing it firmly over her mouth.

 

“Well, that takes care of their private security agent,” the waiter said quietly, “but there are the public ones still to deal with, and the head of security.”

 

“We’re working on the first of those right now…”

 

 

May was standing by the guest of honour, watching her as she talked to other attendees.  As a member of the Hong Kong Diplomatic Police Corp, she was trained to blend in and be alert.

 

So she had chosen her outfit carefully.  The silver jacket was fastened at the front with three clasps, the grey fur collar showing a hint of her black top, the cuffs allowing her hands free movement, while the lower legs of her black leather trousers were tucked into knee length black leather boots.  It looked stylish, but also allowed her movement if she needed it.

 

She watched the woman she was guarding as she talked to other guests.  In her mod fifties, long hair dyed copper red, wearing a black feathered jacket over a long red dress, buttons going at an angle down the front, and black boots.  All looked fine…

 

 

Cathy smiled as she stood at the staff entrance, talking to the waiters as they came and went.  As the event manager, it was her job to ensure things moved smoothly, and so far it looked as if they were.  She was not dressed as formally as the guests, in a long black jersey dress with butterflies embroidered onto it, purple tights and black knee length suede boots, but that was fine.  She was working, not a guest.

 

“Cathy?”

 

She turned as one of the waiters said “we’ve had a message from your daughter.  Can you meet her in your suite in twenty minutes?”

 

“I’ll take a break then – have you seen the HKPD representative anywhere?”

 

“Alex?  No – I’ll ask around.”

 

“Please,” Cathy said quietly as she slipped into the corridor…

 

 

 

As she walked into the suite on the staff floor, Cathy looked round, calling out “Hannah, where are you…”

 

“Not a word – do not move until I tell you.”

 

Cathy froze as she felt the small disc pressing against her back, hearing the door close as a man stood in front of her, dressed as a waiter.  She also heard a muffled call, and as she looked to the side she saw Alex, lying on her side on a couch, her wrists and ankles linked with rope and white tape over her mouth.

 

The man walked into a room, returning with a chair which he set in the centre of the room.  He looked at Cathy and said “quietly, sit down, and put your arms around the chair back.”

 

“What’s going on,” Cathy whispered as she sat down, moving her arms and then feeling the man behind her as he put her wrists together, and then the rope rubbing on her wrists as they were bound tightly together.  She could now see the second man, also dressed as a waiter, smiling as he held a gun and pointed it at her.

 

She grunted as her wrists were secured against the chair back, before the man walked round, taking another length of rope from the bag and walking behind her before it was passed over her head, pulling her against the chair back as he took the rope around her arms and body.  It forced her arms into her sides and her back against the chair back, but more importantly he was making sure she was not going to leave the chair.

 

“Tell me what’s going on,” she said as she twisted round, but it was no use – she was going nowhere, as he knelt down in front of her, crossing her ankles as she watched him securing them together with more rope, the bands around and between her legs locking them into place.

 

He smiled as he stood up – and then walked behind her, his hand over her mouth as the second man moved behind the door, the gun raised as it opened inwards.

 

 

“Mum?  I got a message you wanted to…”

 

Cathy was horrified to see Hannah standing in the doorway.  She was twenty years old, a black cardigan over her red fifties style dress, wearing dark burgundy red leather boots that came to her knees.  But it was the look of horror in her eyes, as she saw her mother in the chair, the other woman on the couch, and then the fear as her arms were pulled behind her back.

 

“Hannah, I don’t know what is going on,” Cathy said quietly, “just do whatever they tell you to do.  I don’t want any of us to get hurt.”

 

“Listen to your mother kid,” the man standing behind Cathy said as Hannah slowly nodded, feeling the rope on her bare wrists as it was pulled tighter, and then a second longer rope passed round her body and forcing her arms to her sides.  She was too scared to speak as the rope went above and below her chest, immobilising her and pulling the cardigan to the sides as it was tied off.

 

“Kneel down, then lie face down.”

 

Cathy started to cry as she watched her daughter comply, while the second man crossed and bound her ankles tightly together, and then secured her legs below her knees, the leather squeaking as Hannah tried to twist round – with no success.  She then said “no” as her daughter’s ankles were pulled back and secured to the chest ropes – just as she felt her own legs been pulled under the seat of the chair, and secured into place.

 

“Now then,” the man said as Hannah rolled onto her side and had a cloth pushed into her mouth, tape pressed down over her lips, “you will give me the codes to open the rear doors to the exhibition hall…”

 

 

 

“Madame?”

 

The older woman turned to look at May as she said “we need to make a move in twenty minutes, Madame.  We will leave by the main entrance.”

 

“Of course,” her charge said with a smile, “I need to speak to certain people, so I will take care of that immediately.”

 

“Of course,” May said as she looked round, the number of people notable dropping as she followed her charge.  She had been due to meet with her police contact, Alex, but she had sent a text to say she had been detained.  It happened, so she focused on her main duty.

 

Eventually, her charge nodded to her and May came over, looking around as they walked to the main doors and out into the hallway.  As they passed the restrooms, her charge said “excuse me one moment” and went in, May nodding as she stood outside.

 

And waited.

 

And waited.

 

May walked into the restroom, checking the booths – and then saw the door at the end slightly ajar.  “shit,” she said quietly to herself as she ran through the door, and saw two men walking down the corridor with her charge between them, her head down.  She ran forward, gaining speed before she launched herself forward, the sole of her booted foot connecting with the back of the first person as he crumpled to the floor.

 

He fell forward, his partner turning as he looked at May, and then let her charge drop to the floor as he stood in a defensive pose.

 

“I have no idea who you are,” May growled, “but I am responsible for that woman’s security, and I cannot allow you to take her.”

 

The man smiled as he said “I know – we are not here for her.”

 

May blinked as he said “we are here for you” and then she felt the pinprick in her thigh, before her mind began to cloud and she feel forward, her eyes closing as the sedative began to take effect.

 

“Take her to be with the others,” he said as his companion stood up, and lifted May’s charge onto his shoulder, “I’ll take her out.”

 

 

 

 

 

As she opened her eyes, she heard the muffled calls, but it took time for her head to clear.  She remembered going to the restroom, washing her hands, and then someone clamping a damp cloth over her nose and mouth, and the clouding, the darkness…

 

“Hlllhhpppphhdsssss!”

 

She slowly sat up, rubbing her head as she heard the creaking, the squeak of leather on leather, and the muffled calls – and then she saw Hannah, Alex and Cathy trying to speak to her through the white tape that covered their mouths, the ropes holding their limbs tightly to their bodies and to the chair Cathy was sat on, the sweat stains on their clothes.

 

“What… what happened here,” she said as she slowly stood up, “and where is May?”

 

 

 

 

“HHSSSTHRRRRR!!”

 

May called out as she struggled on the bed, her arms speed above her head and secured to the posters of the bed with ropes, her jacket open and showing her top, her ankles bound to the bottom two posts with more rope.

 

She could taste the cotton on her tongue from the cloth that packed her mouth, the tug on the skin around her mouth from the tape that was covering her own mouth as she twisted her head from side to side.

 

She was in a very well furnished bedroom, with ornate drapes, but there were no windows, only one door – a door which opened to allow a slim woman in a red trouser suit to come in and bow.

 

“The Honoured Father bids you welcome,” she said as May looked at her, “and assures you he will come shortly to talk to you, and discuss the recent actions you have taken to counter his business concerns.  Be assured, the magistrate was not harmed, and even now is with the other women we used as the distraction.  Until then, rest.”

 

She left, the door closing as May screamed out in anger and fear....

 

 

 

 

 

 

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