The Netterton Jewels - Part 6
“Ah, but it is indeed possible, Ritterfrau Wolverton,” Coco said. She had decided earlier to adopt a slight German accent for the visit – a nod back to a previous encounter. “It has been many years since we last met.”
“Who are you,” Caroline demanded as she stood up, with the full intention of charging at the intruder and tackling her.
Coco merely smiled and pointed a small dart gun at the young woman. “Please, young lady, sit down and stay still. I have no wish to harm either of you, but be assured I will not hesitate to do so if necessary. As to who I am, I will let your mother explain.” As she said this, she walked into the middle of the room and reached for a pair of handcuffs, which were hung from one of the D-rings on her corset. “Before she does that, however, I need her to secure your wrists together behind your back,” she said with a smile as she tossed the cuffs onto the mahogany coffee table in front of Lady Wolverton.
“But you still look so young,” Mary said as she slowly stood up. “It’s been over thirty years, and you still look the same as I remember you.”
“It must be my lifetime of honest labour and clean living – now, unless you want your daughter to have a short and very unpleasant nap, pick up the cuffs and secure her wrists behind her back.” Coco levelled the dart gun and sighted along the top of it as she held it steadily aimed at Caroline to emphasise her point.
“Mum, do you know this woman?”
“I do Caroline – we met when I was a young girl. In fact, I may have...”
“A tale for another time,” Coco said with a little impatience. “Get on with it.”
Slowly, Mary took her daughter’s arms and guided them behind her back, fastening the cuffs around her wrists as tightly as they could be over her blouse. As she did this, Coco picked up a chocolate from a plate on the table and placed it in her mouth, allowing the rich dark chocolate to melt as the two women looked over. A dawning light seemed to be growing in Caroline’s eyes as she looked on.
“I’ve heard of you,” she said slowly as Coco took another pair of handcuffs from the girdle.
“Good – then you know that when I say I want you to do exactly what I tell you, I mean it,” she said as she walked over and turned Mary round. She fastened one cuff around her left wrist before replacing the pistol in her belt and clamping her arms together.
“Where’s Agnes?” Mary said as she was turned back round.
“Secure but comfortable – we have the house to ourselves,” Coco said as she drew the pistol out again. “Now, why don’t we retire to your daughter’s bedroom – I’m sure she will be much more comfortable up there.”
Indicating the open doorway, Coco ushered Mary and Caroline out of the room and up the large staircase. The house was eerily silent as they walked, the only sound the click of heels as both woman climbed up.
As they reached the top of the staircase, Coco marched them past the locked office doors towards the room she knew to be Caroline’s from Soo’s notes. “In here,” she said as she opened the door, gesturing the two women to walk in.
The room was large, with an ornate four-poster bed against the centre of the far wall. Closing the door behind her, Coco waved the two women over to the bed, and watched as they sat down.
“Now, young lady,” she said as she looked at Caroline, “I want you to sit perfectly still. Lady Wolverton, move over and sit on the bed, with your back against that pillar, facing your daughter.”
“Whatever happens, Caroline, do what she says,” Mary said clearly as she stood up, walked to the end of the bed and sat down, raising her legs so that her feet were next to her daughter.
“Lean forward,” Coco said, and as Mary did so she unfastened one cuff, took her arms round the post and fastened them together again.
Taking her pack off her back, Coco set it on a bedside table and turned to Caroline. “I’m afraid I need to make sure you cannot interrupt us while I look for valuables with your mother’s help,” she said as she helped the younger woman to her feet. “Stand up, and face your mother.”
“Are you all right, Mama,” Caroline said as Coco took a length of white rope, doubled it over and passed it around the young woman’s arms above her elbows, pulling her arms together so that they nearly touched before making several more passes. Caroline glanced down to see the grey silk of her blouse stretch across her chest as Coco wrapped the ends of the rope between her arms, tying it off with a square knot.
“I’ll live, my child,” Mary said as she watched Coco remove the handcuffs from her daughter, only to place her hands together palm to palm and start to lash them together with a new length of rope. Caroline grunted as she felt them being tightly secured together, the rope going between her wrists as well before Coco took the ends up and tied them between her elbows as well.
“I assure you, Fräulein, this is far more pleasant than me making you sleep and the after-effects you would feel when you woke up,” Coco said as she shook out a long length of rope, doubled it and passed it around Caroline’s arms and chest above her breasts. As she pulled tightly, Caroline could feel her arms been pulled further back, a feeling that only increased as the rope was passed around her lower and upper chest several times. Coco then fed the ends under her left arm, taking it up and around the back of her neck before passing it under her right arm and tying the ends round the loops against her back.
Lady Wolverton studied the intruder as she tied up her daughter. It had been early in 1977 when she first saw, and by chance gave a name to La Cioccolata. Simple arithmetic suggested that she must be over 50 by now. Now that she looked carefully, Mary could see that the creases either side of the woman’s mouth suggested that she was past her youth. The mask would hide any lines around her eyes. Her movements were still those of a young woman: quick sure and precise. She was fat as had been in 1977 but the muscles visible through the tight black latex suit were clearly firm and well defined. The feeling of connection with the past was intense as was the curious excitement Mary had felt all those years ago.
“I think she’s secure enough now, “ Mary said, breaking out of her reverie.
Coco just smiled as she took another length of rope and passed it around Caroline’s waist, pinning her hands against her back. The rope then went up the middle of her back, through the two loops of rope further tightening the bands around her chest, and then passed round her body and tied again behind her back. “I hope that is not too uncomfortable,” she finally said as she turned Caroline round.
“I don’t exactly have a say in the matter, do I?”
“True, but I don’t want to cause you any actual lasting injury. Now, why don’t you get yourself onto your bed and lie down, like a good little girl?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“No – no, you don’t. And before your mother says anything, it is better I do this here than elsewhere – after all, I do not want you ladies to be able to raise the alarm for some considerable time. Now, lie down – you may be more comfortable with your head on a pillow.”
With some difficulty, Caroline managed to manoeuvre herself into the centre of the bed and rest her head on a pair of pillows. She looked down as Coco crossed her ankles and wound rope around them, the dark leather of her boots showing light marks as the cord was tightened around them. Coco worked quickly, but carefully, making sure they were secured tightly together before taking another length around her legs above her knees, then below them but above the cuffs of her culottes. Al the bands of rope were carefully cinched as well.
“Are you all right, Caroline,” Mary said as she watched Coco standing up and walking back to the small rucksack. Caroline looked down her body, wriggling round as she did so. “I’m scared, but it’s not too uncomfortable. What do you think she wants, Mum?”
“Our jewellery, no doubt – even if she does not know whom she is dealing with.”
“Lady Mary Wolverton, wife of the Secretary to the Cabinet, society doyenne and noted charity worker, and her lovely daughter Caroline, soon to turn 21 – my congratulations on the birthday, young lady. Consider this an additional birthday surprise,” Coco said as she walked back to the bed. “Now, it would be infinitely better all round if you told me where you keep your jewellery in this room – it means I don’t make as much mess. Be assured I will find it if you do not tell me, but it will make your confinement shorter if you do.”
Caroline looked at her mother, who nodded without saying a word. “Very well,” Caroline said as she turned onto her side, “Start at the back of the wardrobe...” The two women watched as Coco opened the door to the large wooden wardrobe, moving some clothes out of the way and removing a strong box. As she took a set of lock picks from her pocket, she picked a chocolate from the bowl by the desk and popped it into her mouth.
“It’s her, isn’t it,” Caroline whispered as Coco opened the box and searched through the jewellery, “La Ciocolatta.”
Mary nodded without saying a word – her mind was many years back, on a February night in Venice. “What are we going to do about this,” Caroline continued as she tried to move her legs, the leather of her boots squeaking as she did so.
“Patience, darling,” Mary said as she started to compose herself, “There’s Agnes to think of as well. She must be downstairs, unable to move or speak.”
Coco smiled as she replaced the lid of the box. “I think I may come back later for a proper search,” she said as she drew two plastic bags from her rucksack, “but time is short, and I need to take your mother somewhere.” Picking up a length of rope she had left on the bed, she walked round and rolled Caroline onto her side, pulling her legs back as she did so and securing her ankles to her wrists, allowing enough length to not cause pain, but not enough to allow her to move. Opening one of the bags, she took out a plain blue cotton square and rolled it into a thick band, tying a knot in the middle as she did so.
“Open wide,” Coco said as she held a folded handkerchief in front of Caroline’s mouth. As the young girl opened her mouth, she quickly pushed the cloth in and then pulled the knotted material between her teeth, securing the ends together behind her back. The second bag contained a large black headscarf, which she folded into a wide band and used to blindfold Caroline before rolling her onto her stomach.
“Stay there, young lady,” Coco said as she re-checked all the knots on Caroline’s body, and then released Mary from the bed post and re-cuffed her hands behind her back. “I’ll be back to check on you later.” Caroline listened to the sound of the two other women walking out of the room, before starting to writhe round and struggle.
“My mother never forgot the night you visited us,” Mary said as Coco escorted her into her own room, “Even if she was a little drunk at the time, it was a shocking experience for both of us.”
“In a way, I feel I should thank you,” Coco said as she closed the door behind them. “After all, you named me, and it is a name I have always liked. As it is, however, we have little time and I need to be doing certain things.” As she looked round, Coco saw a large wooden chair to one side, with slats in the back that were spaced about three inches apart. “I want you to sit down in the chair and lean forward,” she said as she placed her rucksack on the bed and removed a bag containing various lengths of rope.
“Do you always come so prepared,” Mary asked as she sat down, crossing her legs as she did so.
“The years have taught me to be prepared,” Coco said with a smile as she walked behind her host. “Please, Ritterfrau Wolverton, lean forward and let me see your wrists.” As Mary did what she was asked, she felt the handcuffs been removed from her wrists, but before she had a chance to try and bring them round she felt them being guided around the back of the chair, the sleeves of her jacket rising slightly as her arms were bent around the wood.
“This will only take a moment,” Coco said as she placed Mary’s wrists together and started to wrap the rope around and between them, holding them fast in a cocoon of rope with two short lengths left. She then secured those lengths around the central spar of the chair back, allowing less than two inches of movement for her.
The rope was soft, but she could feel it holding her wrists tightly together as Coco walked round in front of her, shaking another length of rope loose as she did so. Kneeling in front of Mary, she picked up her ankles and balanced them on her knee.
“Why shouldn’t I just kick out at you and stop you doing this,” Mary said as she looked at the masked woman. “After all, I must be younger than you by a few years, and I am not as helpless as you may think.”
“I never thought you were – but if you do that, my assistant will do something to Agnes – and you would not like that on your conscience, would you?” Mary fell silent at this, and watched as Coco swiftly tied her ankles tightly together, before letting them drop to the floor and starting to tie her legs together as well.
Some distance away, Soo took one last look at Agnes and her granddaughter as they lay on the bed. Both appeared to be sleeping, as she could hear deep breathing through their gags. Nodding, she closed the door quietly and looked at herself in the mirror. She had changed from her work outfit into a pale blue tracksuit and running shoes, with a scarf over her hair knotted peasant-style at the back of her neck. Picking up the large bag they had first brought in, she looked out of the window before letting herself out and walking down the main street, walking along as if nothing had happened behind the closed curtains of the house.
“There now – I trust that is not too uncomfortable?”
Mary tugged at the ropes that were wrapped around her legs, holding them together above and below her knees as well as to the seat of the chair. Her ankles had been pulled back and the rope tied around her wrists as well, and as Coco spoke she was winding a long length around Mary’s chest and arms, pulling to hold them together as she wove it through the fretwork of the chair back.
“As if I had a choice in the matter,” Mary said as Coco stood back. “I have your word Caroline will not be harmed?”
“Of course you have,” Coco said as she rechecked the knots. “Now, I’m going to let you watch while I search your room, but I think you need to be quiet for a little while.” Reaching into her rucksack, she drew out a clear plastic bag containing two scarves. As with Caroline, one was a small blue silk square, such as Mary wore sometimes to keep her hair back, while the other was a larger cream cotton headscarf, with a pattern of oak leaves running through it.
“Open wide,” Coco said as she held the folded blue wad in front of Maria. She offered no resistance as she pushed the square into place, and then pulled the rolled up large headscarf into her mouth, her teeth barely closing around it as Coco secured the ends together at the base of her greying hair.
“Now don’t you move,” she said as she patted Mary on the head.
“Vry bld fne” she mumbled through her gag as she watched Coco open her drawers and start to search through them. She looked down at the bands of off-white rope that encircled her jacket and skirt, the contours of her chest emphasised by the way she was been held back into the chair by the harness-like binding, and wondering why she felt less terrified and more excited than she should – much as she had been all those years before.
She looked at Coco as she examined various items of jewellery, placing some in little velvet sacks that she produced from a bag hanging at her waist, and then at the clock on the wall. A smile crept over her face – if she did not appear at the door soon, then it would be obvious something was wrong, and then the reign of terror she had given a name to would soon be over.