The breakfast table was being cleared when Ophelia Morgan turned to her father.
“What do you have planned for tonight, daddy?”
“Well, I need to collect those prints I have purchased from the dealer, and then I should be in the office for most of the day. What about you, dearest?”
“I’m waiting for Caroline to come round, and then we’re going to head up to town. Do some shopping; see a show – the usual stuff.”
Sir Richard Morgan allowed a smile to pass over his face as he took one last sip of his morning coffee. Since retiring from the Civil service and taking up a “little job” as an art critic, he had time and finance to indulge his two daughters in their whims. Ophelia was 18, while Caroline was three years older and lived in a flat in the Kensington area.
“Well have a good time,” he said as the telephone began to ring. “I’ll get that,” Ophelia replied as she stood up and left the room. Her father heard some conversation, then his daughter calling out “It’s for you, Dad.”
Sir Richard put his cup down, dabbed at his mouth with his napkin, and came out into the hallway. He watched his daughter going up the staircase, her skirt blowing in the breeze, and then turned his attention to the waiting caller.
“Good morning, Sir Richard. I was calling to enquire if you had given any further consideration to our offer?”
The voice was female, and had a tone to it that made Sir Richard feel warm and safe. There was also something about it that commanded respect.
“I am afraid my answer is unchanged – the Hogarth prints are not for sale at any price. I do not even have them myself yet.”
“I see – thank you for your time, Sir Richard. I hope to speak to you again soon.”
As the line went dead, Sir Richard replaced the receiver and collected his briefcase. “I’ll see you tonight, Ophelia,” he called up the stairs, and as he left he heard his daughter replying “All right, Daddy.”
As he left the driveway of his house, the driver of a plain grey van parked nearby watched him heading off. Picking up a radio, he listened to the voice that came over for a few minutes.
“Hey sis – you ready?”
“Be down in a minute.”
Caroline took a seat in the lounge and picked up a magazine to flick through. She looked up when Ophelia came in, tying the front of her crocheted cardigan below her breasts. The cream wool complemented the light blue t-shirt she was wearing, while the knee length leather boots had the legs of her faded denim jeans tucked in.
“So, are we going into town or what?”
“All right, all right – let’s get a move on.” Caroline stood up as she said this, the skirt of her short green sun dress falling over her crotch as she did so. Caroline was also wearing a pair of white leggings underneath her dress, and short black canvas boots. The two girls picked up their handbags and headed out of the house, closing the door behind them.
The van driver watched them walking down the street, and picked up the radio.
“Targets are leaving the house – what are or instructions?”
“Collect and deliver – as soon as is convenient.”
Putting the radio down, the driver rapped sharply on the wall behind him before setting off down the road in the same direction as the girls. Passing them, he turned into a road a few hundred yards ahead and pulled in at the pavement.
“So, where do you want to go first?” Caroline asked her younger sister as they approached the junction and started to cross the road.
“Let’s go to Selfridges first – I fancy a new dress,” Ophelia replied, not noticing the van doors opening as they passed. In fact, the first the girls knew of the van was when they were grabbed from behind, and quickly bundled into the rear of the van, the doors closing quickly behind them.
“What the hell..” Ophelia shouted before her face was pushed down into a cushion on the van floor.
“Shut up, stay still and don’t fight,” a female voice said as scarves were quickly tied over the eyes of the two girls, and their wrists bound behind their backs. Caroline shouted out as the ropes bit into her bare wrists, only for the female voice to calmly say “If you struggle, then it will hurt. Relax, and don’t try to fight us.”
The two girls were made to sit up, and both felt their ankles been pulled together, followed by their knees. Ophelia asked “Who are you?” but the next thing she knew was something sticky been smoothed over her lips, and her arms been pulled into her sides.
“Phla?” she heard her sister mumble, and Ophelia realised that whoever had grabbed them had gagged both her and her sister. “Just stay calm,” the female voice said as the two women felt the van moving somewhere.
Time passed slowly until the van stopped, and both women felt a cool breeze on their faces. Caroline felt hands taking hold of her feet and under her arms, and she was carried out of the van. From the muffled calls behind her, she realised that Ophelia was also been carried somewhere with her. The sound of boots walking on stone floors, and a heavy door opening, was all they heard before Caroline felt a soft mattress under her, and a pillow placed under her head.
“Stay with them until Madame has a chance to call in,” the female voice said, and the door was shut. Ophelia tried to speak.
“Crln? Whr r we?”
The door opened again, and both women heard what sounded like a silk dress as someone else entered the room. They felt a hand checking the ropes around each of them, and then a voice that sounded like warm chocolate spoke.
“I want them monitored constantly, and checked every hour. Show them the usual courtesies, and ensure that they are fed when required.”
The heels receded on the floor, and the door was closed again. The second female spoke.
“If you behave yourselves, we will remove the gags in one hour. Relax, stay calm, and do as we say, and this will not be a completely unpleasant experience.”
Ophelia started to wriggle around on the bed – the sound of her boots squeaking as she tried to loosen the ropes around her legs with the movement filled the otherwise silent room. Caroline could hear her sister’s grunts, but had already realised that they had been kidnapped for a purpose. She had also heard the horror stories of what could happen, so she determined that she was going to take things as they came. As she heard a frustrated and exhausted grunt form Ophelia, she allowed herself to get as comfortable as she could and awaited the removal of the tape.
“What do you mean, you wan to reopen negotiations? I told you the prints were not for sale!!”
“I am afraid you misunderstand me, Sir Richard. I no longer wish to purchase the prints – I want you to give me the prints.”
“You expect me to just hand them over?”
“Well, actually, yes. I suggest you check your electronic mail, Sir Richard – and call no-one until I call you in one hour.”
Turning to his monitor, Sir Richard scanned through the e-mails, and saw one from his daughter Caroline saying “Daddy See This Now”. Opening the message, he stared at the screen and sat back, ashen faced, as eh studied the picture that was attached.
“My apologies, my dear, but the tape does cause some pain when it is removed. Stay still.”
Ophelia felt a soft cloth been wiped over her mouth and lips, as Caroline called out when the tape was pulled from her mouth. “Can’t you take these blindfolds off,” she asked after her mouth was wiped.
“I’m afraid not – if you require relieving yourself or anything during the night, calling out and the guard will help you. Breakfast will be served early tomorrow, and with luck your stay with us will be over by the evening tomorrow. Please, do not attempt to struggle while we make you slightly more comfortable.”
Ophelia felt the rope around her ankles loosen, and then the unmistakeable sound of the zip on her boots opening. The cool air started to flow around her feet as the leather was removed, and then some sort of sock pulled over her feet and ankles before the rope was tied back on.
“What’s happening, sis?”
“They’ve taken my boots off – I guess it is more comfortable now. Any idea what this is about, Caroline?”
“Something to do with Daddy, I presume – thank you,” Caroline said as her own feet were untied and her ankle boots removed.
“Try to get some sleep – no harm will come to you,” the voice said as the light both women could see through the cloth was extinguished.
“Do you understand, Sir Richard?”
“Yes, yes, I understand – just please don’t hurt my daughters.”
“They will be fine so long as you deliver the package to the place and time specified – and no-one else gets involved. I look forward to giving you some good news tomorrow – good night.”
The light came on suddenly, causing the two bound women to wake with a start.
“Good morning, Ladies. Please, let us remove your bindings in order that you may come with us and have some refreshment. Do not try to remove your blindfolds, and keep your hands in front of you at all times.”
Caroline felt the ropes loosen around her arms and chest, and as her wrists were freed she brought them round and rubbed at the skin.
“Did you get any sleep, Ophelia?”
“A little – but I’m too scared to really drift off.”
The two women were taken by the arm and led to a table, where two chairs had been placed at each end. As Ophelia was sat down, she was asked “Are you left or right handed?”
“Right – why?” she replied, but her answer came as her left wrist was placed on the rest of the chair and tied down. She felt more rope passed around her waist, pulling her back against the chair, and then ropes around her ankles as her legs were moved against the wooden legs of the seat.
“Are you all right, Caroline?”
“Yeah – tied up again, but all right.”
Plates of sliced fruit and bread, and plastic glasses with clear water, were placed in front of them.
“We regret the blindfolds must stay for a little while longer, but soon they will be removed. In front of each of you is food and water – please, reach out and eat.”
Caroline reached out, picked up a slice of apple and placed it in her mouth. “It’s all right, sis – you can eat it,” she said, and Ophelia reached out and grabbed a hunk of bread.
“Must be the fear – I’m famished,” she said as she tore into the bread.
The car pulled up in the garage, and Sir Richard allowed the driver’s window to go down. He sat there, waiting, until a female voice said “I believe you have something for me?”
“No, don’t look round – just hand me the briefcase, Sir Richard. You and I are still being watched, and your daughter’s safety is our primary concern here.”
Picking up a small valise, he handed it out of the window as a gloved hand took hold of the handle.
“Return home, Sir Richard – we will be in touch.”
Both Ophelia and Caroline had been returned to their beds, but the blindfolds had finally been removed as had the ropes. They could see two female guards, dressed from head to toe in black and hefting rather large rifles, as they looked around.
“I guess we’re in a warehouse of some type,” Caroline said as the door opened and a woman in a smart pinstripe suit came in, carrying two black dress bags.
“I have good news, ladies – your father has given us what we wanted from him, and we are awaiting verification. Now, I think we need to clean and press your clothing, so please strip and put on the contents of these bags.”
“And if we don’t?”
“Then, my dear Ophelia, you will be bound and gagged so tightly it will hurt to even breathe. Now, take your time.”
The woman left the room, and Caroline opened one of the dress bags, removing a long black silk nightdress with short cap sleeves. Ophelia picked up the other bag, to reveal a matching royal blue slip.
“Oh well – these are sweaty anyway,” she said as she started to take off her jeans and top.
Time passed slowly, until after they had been given a light lunch the woman in the suit returned, this time carrying a large black bag,
“Ladies, I am afraid we must now start to make some preparations for your return. Guards?”
The two armed guards took both Ophelia and Caroline by the arm and forced them to stand up.
“I regret that it is necessary to bind you, but I promise it will be for the last time. Oldest first?”
Caroline stared at the woman, with her dark glasses shading her eyes, then turned round and allowed her wrist to be tied together. The rope was soft, but the woman skilled, and soon Caroline could see over her shoulder that her wrists were firmly secured together.
“Are you going to do this to me as well?” Ophelia asked as rope was passed around her sister’s arms and chest below her breasts.
“Yes – why?”
“I need to go to the toilet first.”
“Take her,” the woman said to one of the guards, and Ophelia was taken out of the room. Through a door slightly ajar, she caught a glimpse of two more women bound and gagged, but that was all she saw.
When she returned, Ophelia saw that Caroline had been made to lie face down on her bed, as more rope was tied around her crossed ankles and her legs. The woman doing the tying stood up, and motioned to Ophelia to allow her wrists to be bound.
“Don’t worry, Ophelia – it looks bad, but it isn’t that uncomfortable,” Caroline called out as the rope was tightened around Ophelia’s chest,
“Thank you for the compliment – lie down on the bed please,” the woman said as she tied the ropes behind Ophelia’s back together. As Ophelia lay on her stomach, her ankles were crossed and swiftly bound together, and then her legs tied above and below her knees.
“Just relax for a short while, Ladies,” the woman said. “We’ll be ready soon.”
“What’s going to happen now, Caroline,” Ophelia said as she wriggled round and laid her head on the pillow.
“Not sure,” was the reply before the woman came back, holding two white cloths in one hand and a roll of sliver tape in the other.
“Madame insists on quiet, so please open wide,” she said as she held the cloth in front of Caroline’s mouth,
“Speak to you later, once this Madame has been,” she said as the cloth was gently pushed in, and then tape used to cover her mouth and keep it in place. Once the same had been done to Ophelia, the woman turned and said “Inform Madame that we are ready” to the guard.
The sisters stared at each other, unsure of what was happening, until the door opened and a tall dark haired woman dressed in an Armani suit and with a black eye mask over her face approached. She spoke, and Caroline recognised the voice that had spoken when they first arrive din this place.
“Well, Ladies, I hope you have enjoyed your stay with us?”
Ophelia mumbled something that didn’t sound too polite, but the woman ignored her.
“I am pleased to say that your father has settled the request we made of him, and you will be released soon. I regret the fact that you must now be sedated, but you will soon be home with your family. If you would?”
The two captives tried to squirm out of the way as the masked woman approached with a hypodermic, but Caroline felt the needle enter her arm, and a dark mist seemed to descend over her. The last thing she saw was Ophelia looking on as she too received an injection.
“Caroline? Ophelia? My god, thank heavens you’re safe!!”
Caroline slowly opened her eyes to the sight of her father standing over her. She groggily looked round and recognised the master bedroom of her father’s house, while to her side she could see Ophelia, still asleep and breathing heavily through her nose.
“DDY!!” she cried out, and Sir Richard gently peeled back the tape and removed the gag.
“I had a phone call to say you had both been brought here. I’m glad you’re both all right.”
Ophelia started to stir, opened her eyes and saw her father there, as tears started to run down her face.
“We need to call the police, daddy,” Caroline said as the ropes around her arms were loosened.
“We can’t precious – if we do, you’ll be taken away permanently. Untie your sister, and I’ll explain.”