For the Love of Thrift
Josie smiled as she looked at herself in the mirror – she had no classes that day, which meant she had the time to indulge herself and visit some of the local second hand stores again, and see what was available to add to her wardrobe. Like many girls of her acquaintance, spending ten pounds on a stylish dress, or a nice blouse and skirt.
And certainly, today, Josie felt she had chosen the right outfit. She had bought the dress a few weeks ago, for a tenner, and the store owner had thrown in the cardigan as part of the deal. The dress itself was made of light blue linen, a row of buttons on the front at the chest, and a round neckline. The sleeves were short, and the skirt came to just above her knees. Over the top she had the pink cardigan, while an old white leather belt was fastened round her waist. Add the black hose, and the flat black shoes, and she looked – and felt – like a true star.
“All it needs is a finishing touch,” she said as she put into her red hair a thin black hairband with a large grey fabric rose attached to the right side, and then she felt she was ready.
Picking up her brown woven handbag, also found in the thrift store, she smiled as she collected her purse and keys, and set off to the centre of town.
As she entered the store, Josie looked round at the racks and shelves, and walked to where some of the new items had been placed. As she did, she noticed another young woman in the store – one who reminded her a lot of Zoey Deschanel, with her long light brown hair. Like her, she was wearing a cardigan, pale blue dress and belt – but this woman’s dress had a higher neckline, her belt was a wide black one, and the cardigan was purple. The sleeves still only came a ways down her arms, just as Josie’s did, and she was also wearing black flats, but her legs were bare.
“Cute,” Josie thought to herself as she took out a floral print dress, and held it against herself as she looked in a mirror.
“That dress suits you – the browns go well with your hair.”
Josie turned to see the woman standing next to her. “I could never get away with something like that,” she said in a Nottingham accent, “but I think you could.”
“Do you think so,” Josie said as she twirled from side to side.
“Yeah – I do,” the woman said with a smile. “You should buy it if you can.”
Josie nodded as she took the dress to a changing booth, the woman smiling as she looked at some more items.
“So I see you bought it then.”
Josie turned and smiled as she saw the woman standing next to her. “Yeah – good advice on your part,” she said as she looked at the dress in her bag. “I’m Josie – you’re?”
“Zara,” the woman said with a smile. “At any rate, it was nice meeting you Jo…”
The sound of screeching tyres made both of them look to the kerb as the side of a grey van opened, and two men jumper out, grabbing Zara by the arms and lifting her bodily into the van. As Josie grabbed her phone and took a picture, one of the men looked out and said “damn” before he came out again, throwing Josie over his shoulder and getting back into the van before she had a chance to call for help.
“Who the hell is this,” the second man said as the van door was slammed shut, and his partner called out “DRIVE!” He then dropped Josie onto the floor of the van, as he said “she took our picture – I had to bring her in.”
“Don’t say a word,” the second man said as he grabbed two zip ties, using one to secure Josie’s wrists behind her back and a second one to secure her ankles. As she looked to the side, she saw Zara, her wrists and ankles secured as well, and the edge of a rolled piece of cloth sticking out of her mouth.
“Open up.” As Josie did this, a rolled cloth was pushed into her mouth as well, the two women looking at each other as the first man produced a gun.
“Keep quiet, don’t push them out,” he said, Josie nodding as she tried to process what was going on…
She looked over at Zara, who looked at her with eyes that said “I’m sorry”, almost as if she had been expecting this…
“Sit down in those chairs.”
Josie and Zara were pushed into a room – the van had stopped inside a warehouse, and now the two captives were been shown into what looked like a hotel room at a Travelodge. There was a double bed, and two wooden deck chairs to the side of the bed, as well as a television attached to the wall. The zip ties had bene cut away from their ankles before they had been marched in here, and as Josie sat down she wondered what they were going to do next.
The answer to that came quickly as the plastic strip was cut away from her wrists, put her wrists were held down to the arms of the chair by the two men. A third man, who must have been driving, picked up a roll of silver tape and wrapped it around her wrist and the chair arm on each side, and then knelt down, taping her ankles to the front legs of the chair. He walked over and did the same to Zara once her wrists were freed, before the rolls of cloth were taken from their mouths.
“Who are you? Why have you kidnapped us? My friends will be…”
“Lady,” the third man said as he looked at Josie, “if you know what is good for you, shut up.”
“IT’s all right Josie,” Zara said quietly, “they’re not going to tell you who they are. They just want one thing – hopefully.”
The three men said nothing as they left the room, closing and locking the door behind themselves as Josie watched. “What did you mean by that,” she said as she tried to twist her arm free.
“They want a ransom for my safe return – my dad’s a fairly well to do financier,” Zara said with a sigh as she wriggled her fingers. “How come they took you as well?”
“I… I took a picture of them when they snatched you. But I don’t have any money and neither do my parents…”
“Which means they were scared you would show their faces before they got their money,” Zara said with a sigh. Josie looked over, and said “it sounds as if this is a common occurrence with you?”
“Well, I think this is the fourth – no, the fifth time. Three times they got caught before any ransom was paid, and once was with my mother when I was twelve years old.”
“Nope – they hijacked our car when she collected me from school, and forced us to drive to a cabin in the woods. They tied us up, gagged us with scarves, but at least they fed us and let us go to the toilet. But, been tied up for two days in a school uniform – not fun.”
“Two days?” Josie looked round as she tried to prise her wrists free.
“Listen, Josie,” Zara said, “I’m sorry they got you as well – you’re a cute kid, and my advice is just to go with the flow.”
Josie stopped struggling and looked over, before she said “I’m twenty two.”
“Okay – you’re a cute young woman,” Zara said with a smile, “but seriously – it’s not worth hurting yourself over. Best just to see what happens next.” She looked round the room, and then said “I’m guessing you’ve never been kidnapped before.”
“No,” Josie said quietly, “or tied up before.” She looked own at her wrists and said “do you think we’re stuck in these seats for the duration?”
“Nope – not with the beds there…”
As the door was unlocked and opened, both Josie and Zara looked over as the three men came in, one of them carrying two Subway bags, another two bottles of water.
They watched as the third one cut their arms free form the chair, and the bags and bottles were placed on their laps. “Eat, drink,” the man who had driven them there said, “then you can go to the toilet. After that, we need to make sure you stay where you are, but can relax.”
“That’s funny, relax,” Josie said quietly as she took the sandwich from the bag, and started to eat. At least they had got them a chicken sandwich…
“So I presume you have sent a ransom demand,” Zara asked after she had taken a drink from her bottle. The driver nodded as Josie watched the other two men sorting out differing lengths of rope and laying them out on the bed. Zara glanced across at her, and said “hey – don’t worry about them. Eat, drink – it’s important you make sure you are all right as well.”
“Yeah, I can see that,” Josie said quietly, “but at least I’m not alone.”
Zara smiled as she said “no – you’re not alone, not in this one. I meant to ask – anyone going to worry where you are?”
“I live alone,” Josie said quietly, “and – well, there isn’t a significant other, if that is what you are asking. My parents won’t expect me to call today either.”
“Well then,” Zara said quietly, “I’ll just have to make sure you get through this, won’t I?” She smiled at Josie, the young girl feeling strangely happy as she did that. She wasn’t sure why, but the feeling was there.
Zara then looked at the men, and said “my friend here – Josie – you’re not going to get any money for her. So what are you going to do?”
“Nothing – she gets released when you do, after we have collected the ransom and got away,” the driver said quietly, Zara nodding as they continued to eat.
Zara nodded as she put the empty bottle and other rubbish into a bag, then watched as her legs were cut free from the chair. One of the men took her by the arm and walked her out of the room, while Josie was released from her chair and stood up, rubbing her wrists while she waited.
“Your turn,” Zara said with a smile as she came back in, Josie nodding as she was led down a short corridor and into a bathroom. Sitting down, she took a deep breath, considering her position, wondering why she felt so warm when she looked at Zara, especially when she smiled…
As she was escorted back into the room, she saw that the other man was standing behind Zara, and her hands had bene taken behind her back. “I guess we’re going to be on the bed,” she said with a smile, “I hope you don’t mind sharing?”
“We have a choice?” She smiled as Zara laughed softly, and then said “no, I don’t mind sharing a bed with you.”
“Good,” Zara said as the Driver picked up one of the lengths of rope, and walked behind Josie, guiding her hands behind her back and crossing her wrists as she felt the cord been pulled tightly round both of them, forcing them together as he took the length around and between her arms. She looked over at Zara as her binder took a longer length of rope, and wrapped it round her body, pulling her arms into her sides under her chest.
Zara looked at her and smiled, as she said “I guess we’re really not going to be able to move, are we?” Josie just nodded as she watched the rope going round Zara’s body, framing her chest as it was forced up and out, her cardigan pulled to the sides as he continued.
She was barely aware of the fact her own binder had started to wrap rope around her upper body as well, forcing her arms into her sides, until she felt the rope on the bare part of her chest and looked down. Her own cardigan was been forced to the sides as well, but she looked so different…
Josie looked over suddenly to see Zara smiling, as the man walked in front of her, taking the rope over her shoulder and passing it under the lower band at her chest, and then pulling it back over her other shoulder as he walked behind her.
“You know I said you looked cute?”
“Yeah,” Josie said with a smile.
“You look even cuter now,” Zara said as she smiled in return, Josie blushing as the rope was taken under her arm on one side, up and around the back of her neck as her red hair was moved out of the way, and then under the other arm. She wriggled round as the ropes were tied off – it was tight, she could not move her hands or arms, but it felt as if it was the most natural thing in the world to happen. It wasn’t uncomfortable, she actually felt – safe, if that was possible.
“Penny for them?”
“I… I don’t know if I can say it,” Josie said as they were both walked over to the bed, and sat next to each other.
“Something tells me we may not be able to say much for a while,” Zara said as she watched her ankles been tied together, “so might as well say it.”
“Is it… Is it wrong to say I’m actually excited by this now?”
“Nope,” Zara said quietly, “because I think we’re sharing the same feelings. By the way – and I hope you don’t take this the wrong way – but seeing you tied like that just seems to make you – cuter.”
“Just cuter?” Josie looked at Zara, as she felt the rope round her own ankles, before she said “seeing you like that – it makes you look so much more… no, I can’t say it…”
“Go on,” Zara said quietly, “you can say it.”
“Helpless – in need of protection, and I want to be the one to protect you,” Josie said, then she blushed again as she realised what had come out of her mouth. Zara closed her eyes and turned her head to the side, before she said “well, that is a very forward thing to say…”
“And a beautiful compliment to pay,” Zara continued as she turned her head back and smiled. She then gasped as Josie watched the man bind her legs together below her knees, stroking Zara’s legs as he did so.
She then watched as her own legs were tied, the black tights seeming to lighten under the bands. She moved her feet up and down before the two men stood up, and looked at both of them.
“Well,” Josie said quietly as she looked into Zara’s eyes, “I meant it.”
“Make sure they both stay quiet.”
“Open your mouths,” one of the men said as he held a folded cloth in his hand, Zara nodding as she opened her mouth and allowed him to push it in. Josie looked at the other man, and allowed him to push the cloth into her mouth, while the first man tore a long, wide strip of white tape from a roll, and held it in both hands.
She watched as it was pressed firmly over Zara’s mouth, seeing the shape of her lips underneath as it was smoothed onto her face. Zara looked over and winked as she felt the tape over her own mouth, seeming to form to every contour of her jaw and lower face as it was pressed into place.
As she was helped to lie on her side on the bed, she watched Zara lying opposite her, her eyes smiling as she lay with her head on the pillow. She could feel more rope been tied between her ankles, and then her legs were stretched out as she looked down to see the rope been tied to the foot of the bed. Zara was soon secured in the same way, as the Driver said “your daddy has until noon tomorrow to pay up. We’ll make sure you get some breakfast.”
They both watched as they walked out of the room, closing and locking the door behind themselves again, as Zara wriggled round, the ropes moving on her chest as she did so. Josie looked at her, before Zara said “Whlll, ghsswhrsthckkhrr.”
“Vreefneee,” Josie said as she felt herself blush again, and she wriggled as well, feeling the upper band of rope rubbing on her chest as she did so. It was sending little shocks through her, and she had no idea why…
She looked at Zara, and nodded as she mumbled “Sddhhuuu.”
Josie shook her head as Zara looked at her, and said “cmmmffrrrhhrrr.” She shuffled slightly over, as Zara seemed to smile at her, and then rested her head on the brunette’s shoulder. She could feel Zara rubbing her head with her cheek, as she looked up into her eyes.
“Hsllhrrhtt,” Zara said quietly as Josie looked up at her, and then rubbed her own head on her fellow captive’s chest. There was a gentle pressure on her head, and she looked up again as Zara looked at her. Their eyes met, and Zara gently lowered her head, pressing her taped lips on Josie’s forehead.
“Thtwssnss,” Josie mumbled as she looked at her.
Josie slowly nodded as she moved her head up, smiling under the tape as she felt Zara’s taped lips on her own. Zara moved her head back, and said “Ehehndhrrddd.”
“Shddhdhh,” Josie said quietly as Zara let herself slip down a little, the two women looking into each other’s eyes as their lips came together again…
When Josie opened her eyes, she looked down and saw Zara, her head resting on her chest as she breathed slowly in and out through her nose. The cloth in her mouth had absorbed all the saliva, and she felt like she needed to visit somewhere, but somehow she was happy, as she gently pressed her covered lips on Zara’s head.
“Hmmm – ghmmrnnn,” Zara said as she turned and looked at Josie, then they both looked to the door as it was opened, and their three captors came in. One of them putting some brown bags and two coffee cups on a low table as the other two came over and started to release them from the ropes.
Josie waited as she was sat up, and her arms freed, before she slowly peeled the tape away from her mouth and spat out the soaking wet cloth. “Here,” the Driver said as he passed her a bottle of orange juice, watching as she opened and took a long drink from it while Zara was freed.
“Have you heard from my father,” she said after she had taken a drink from her bottle.
“Not yet – eat, drink.”
“I need to go to the toilet first,” Josie said, one of the mend taking her out as Zara watched. Once she was in the room, she looked at herself in the mirror, allowing herself a smile before she sat herself down…
“Breakfast wraps,” Zara said as she came back in, “no sauce, but hey, it’s food.”
“I have to admit, I am starving,” Josie said as she opened hers up and took a bite from the top. “Hmm that tastes so good after last night.”
“About last night,” Zara said as she put her hand on Josie’s. The redhead looked at her, and gave Zara’s hand a squeeze as she silently nodded, Zara smiling in return.
“Give me a minute,” the Driver said as he went outside, looking at a tablet as the two girls continued to eat, looking at each other.
“Do you think he is hearing from your father?”
“I’m not sure,” Zara said quietly, “but listen, Josie – when this is over, I’d very much like to see you again. If that is all right with you?”
Josie smiled and nodded as the driver came back in. “Daddy’s agreed to pay up,” he said with a smile, “the collect is at ten – but we need to make sure these two little ladies are ready to be found.”
Zara and Josie looked at each other, and slowly drank from the coffee cups…
“Get in the back of the van.”
The two girls got in as the two captors followed them, coils of rope in their hands as well as two more cloths and the roll of white tape.
“Right then,” one of them said as he looked at them, while the second one put an old mattress on the floor of the van, “kneel facing each other on the bed.”
“Why, what are you going to do to us,” Josie said quietly, trying not to show exactly how she felt about this.
“Keep each other company and keep each other quiet – now kneel down, and put your arms round each other.”
“Well, I guess this means we really will be found together,” Zara said as they hugged each other, Josie looking over Zara’s shoulder as her wrists were crossed and tied together behind her fellow captive’s back.
“I guess so – wonder how long we are going to be like this?”
“Not sure,” Zara said as she felt her own wrists been tied behind Josie’s back, “but – well, if I said I hoped it wasn’t for a little while, would I be naughty?”
“In a nice way,” Josie whispered as the men then bound their upped bodies tightly together, bands around their waists and their upper arms, and then held the cloths in front of their mouths.
“Talk to you later?”
“Count on it,” Zara said with a smile before the cloths were pushed into their mouths, and then the white tape wrapped round their necks, before they each felt the rope around their ankles, and then their legs as they were secured to each other above their knees.
“Ghntleee,” Zara said quietly as they were pushed onto their sides on the mattress, their ankles pulled back and tied to the other’s wrists before the van door was shut, and they felt it move off. Josie looked at Zara’s face, and then gently nuzzled into her, Zara nodding as she let out a muffled sigh…
“Chnnuhrrthmmm,” Zara said as Josie moved her head back. She nodded as they both looked to the van doors, before they were opened and a police officer looked in.
“She’s in here – and she’s not alone,” he said as he and a female officer came in, unwrapping the tape from around Zara’s head and easing the cloth from her mouth.
“This… this is Josie,” she said as she looked at the officer, “she was snatched with me because she saw who did it, took photos – but they took her phone with them.”
“Are you all right, Josie,” the female officer said, Josie nodding as the paramedics came in.
“Your father is waiting for you – we’ll get him to the hospital…”
Josie looked at Zara as the ropes began to be untied, smiling as she whispered “don’t forget to give me your number…”
Three weeks later
“I was right – that dress does look good on you.”
Josie smiled as she walked up to the roadside table at the café, sitting down opposite Zara as the waiter came over and handed her a menu. She looked at her friend, in her lemon sleeveless blouse, short denim skirt and the black flats, and said “how are you?”
“I’m good,” Zara said with a smile, “you? After all – dark hair and glasses?”
“Yeah – I had it dyed red for a while, but let it fade out – and I do need the glasses. My parents were a little upset, but they’re all right now. So,” she said as she looked at the menu, “what looks good?”
“Apart from you?”
Josie looked up and smiled shyly, as she said “yes, apart from you...”