Pretty Maids All In A Row

 

 

Esther stepped out of her limousine and stared up at the gleaming steel and glass tower in front of her.  She stopped for a moment as Kiki walked round from the other side of the car and stood next to her.

 

“Ready to party down, Girl” she said with a smile, and Esther slowly nodded.  “Oh yes – I am ready to get down with it.  Are the others here yet?”

 

“They should be – the entire top floor has been taken by us for the weekend.  Just remember – this is on your tab.”

 

“Oh, I think I can afford it,” Esther said as the small grin grew across her face.  “After all, only the best will do for daddy’s little girl.”

 

“Daddy” was financial tycoon Hyram P Cohen, a man who had somehow achieved the impossible - making a fortune on the stock exchange in an honest manner.  When some months before Esther had announced her intention to marry one of the board of directors, Hyram had made it very clear that money was no object for this occasion.  So when Esther said she planned to go with Kiki, her best friend and maid of honour, and the other proposed bridesmaids to one of the new hotels in Las Vegas for her batcherlorette party, Cohen made sure everything was ready in advance.

 

It took a little time at the reception desk, but eventually a small army of porters were carrying Esther’s luggage to the lifts, while she and Kiki made their way through the public bar to a small private room at the rear of the building.

 

As they walked past, their shoes clacking on the marble floor, they were watched by two men sat in one of the couches at the coffee shop.  They followed the two blonde haired ladies with their eyes as they disappeared into the bar, and then fell into a quiet conversation.

 

 

 

“Ladies?”

 

“ESTHER!!”

 

The six young women turned round as Esther and Kiki walked in, then left their glasses on the table as they jumped up to embrace the new arrivals.  The hugs and kisses went on for some little time, until Esther finally tore herself away and sat down with the others.

 

She looked over her six bridesmaids.  Nancy, her cousin, was the youngest at seventeen.  She sat there in Armani jeans and a sequinned strapless top, nursing her coke and looking round in a way that showed she wasn’t used to such grand surroundings.  Next to her was Clarice, Esther’s roommate from college.  A strikingly beautiful African American, she was about six foot tall and wearing a halter neck white dress with matching shoes.

 

Sally and Jane were twin sisters who worked in the office where Esther earned her own money.  Slim, brown haired, they were dressed in red blouses, dark red leather skirts and Jimmy Choo shoes.  The three of them ran a travel office for the well off, helped in part by their parents own wealth.

 

Patricia was the oldest of the set at twenty five.  Her father’s private secretary, she was a no-brainer in the choice as she had known Esther since they were teenagers.  She was the efficient one of the six, wearing a Stella McCartney trouser suit and cream top.

 

Finally, there was Soo, an old friend of Kiki’s.  Her parents had come over from Vietnam, and the Asian heritage was plain to see in her face and jet black hair.  Wearing a Versace black dress, she sat back and enjoyed the conversation between all eight of them.

 

“So, what are the plans for tonight?”

 

“We get dressed up and hit the town after a few drinks and nibbles in the penthouse.”  Esther put her glass of champagne down.  “Have you all settled into yoru suites?”

 

“Yes, thanks,” Nancy said.  “How did uncle Hy manage to get the entire floor booked out?”

 

“Money talks, Nancy.  Now then, drink up – we have to get ready in a few hours….”

 

 

 

 

The group of men sat in the hotel room.

 

“Remember, follow my lead, be polite and take no nonsense.   Understood?”

 

 

 

“….. And that’s the news this evening on ABC.  Have a good night.”

 

Esther put her pearl drop earrings in and looked at herself in the mirror.  The cream silk sheath dress fell naturally around her figure, while the slit up to her waist at least allowed her to move as if she was not constrained.  She adjusted the pearl necklace around her neck and walked out into the main room of the penthouse.

 

Kiki was sitting on the leather recliner, reading a magazine.  She stood up as Esther walked in on her heels, smoothing the black skirt of her dress down as she did so.

 

“Esther, you look hot to trot tonight.”

 

“Thanks – you don’t look too bad yourself.  Where are the others?”

 

As if in answer, the door opened and Sally and Jane came in.  They were wearing identical brown dresses that came down to just below their knees, with diamond bracelets and necklaces, their hair done up in buns.  Behind them was Clarice, who had donned a grey halter neck dress with a floor length skirt and silver thread running through it.

 

Soo arrived in a purple strapless dress of silk which reached just below her knees, while Patricia came in wearing a blue satin dress that reflected the candlelight in a pleasing manner.  The party sat around talking waiting for the youngest girl to come in.

 

“Esther?”

 

The girls turned and let out a collective gasp.  Standing in the doorway, young Nancy was wearing a Donna Karin dress in sliver silk, which showed her young body to its fullest advantage, while her hair was adorned with a small diamond tiara.  She was also wearing a pair of silver heeled sandals, while she held a small clutch bag in her hand.

 

“Do you like the dress?”  Esther said as she walked over and hugged her cousin.  “When I saw it at the store, I thought it would be perfect for you.”

 

“I….. I don’t know what to say,” Nancy replied with tears in her eyes.  “Thank you, thank you so much…..”  The two girls hugged as the other started clapping.

 

 

The lift doors opened and eight men dressed in waiter’s jackets, shirts and bow ties stepped out, pushing three trolleys between them.  As the doors closed, the one man in a black jacket turned and talked to one of the others.

 

“Stay here and watch the lift doors.  If any staff try to come out, tell them the service is covered.  Any guests, tell them the floor is closed for a private party.  Understand?”

 

The man nodded and stood by the wall, a small bulge visible in his jacket pocket.

 

“Come on,” the leader said as the other six followed with the trolleys.

 

 

 

POP!!!

 

The champagne cork flew out of the magnum bottle, and Esther poured the effervescent liquid into the eight glasses.

 

“Take one and join me in a toast,” she shouted as the party took one each.  “To the end of single life”

 

“To happy matrimony,” they cried as they drank the champagne.  A quiet knock came on the door.

 

“Yes?”  Kiki said as she walked over.

 

“Room service – compliments of the management,” a male voice called through the door.

 

“Well, isn’t that nice of them,” she said as she opened the door.

 

“The management wish Ms Cohen all the best for her upcoming nuptials,” the dark jacketed waiter said as the others rolled in the trolleys, “and would like to offer this token of what they hope will be a memorable evening.”

 

“Oh, I love surprises,” Esther said as she walked to where the trolleys were left in a line, with silver domed platters arranged on them.  “May I have a look?”

 

“Please, Ms Cohen, be our guest,” the waiter said as he stepped back.  Esther lifted the largest cover, and stared at what was before her.

 

“Is this a joke?” she said as she turned round and held up a strap that had been passed through the centre of a large red rubber ball.

 

“No, it is not,” the man said as he opened his jacket and drew out a pistol.  As if this was a signal, the other six waiters drew guns from their pockets and pointed them at the other women.  “No sudden moves please – this is a takeover.”

 

Nancy screamed, and the other girls stared as the armed waiters herded them into the centre of the room.

 

“Now, Esther, you and your friends are going to do exactly as we tell you,” the waiter said, “and everyone will have a tale to tell at the wedding breakfast.  I presume you are the maid of honour,” he said as he looked at Kiki.

 

“What the hell do you bastards think you are doing?”  Clarice said in an angry voice as she marched over towards Esther.  One of the waiters stepped forward, grabbed Clarice as she passed him and twisted her arm behind her back, causing her to yelp with pain as he pressed his pistol against her forehead.

 

“Let me make one thing very clear,” the leader said as he walked over to Clarice and pulled back on her hair “If you do not do as we say, then you will suffer the consequences.  Do you understand?”

 

“Go to hell,” Clarice shouted, but the man just smiled as he took a handkerchief out of his pocket.

 

“Get me a strip,” he said as he stuffed the handkerchief into Clarice’s mouth.  Another waiter lifted a cover, took a roll of clear tape of the salver and tore a strip off before handing it to the leader.  Letting go of her hair, he slapped the strip of tape over her mouth and said “Try anything again, and you won’t be able to cry out to express the pain you feel.  Do you understand?”

 

Clarice nodded, and the leader pointed at Patricia.  “Come over here, and lift that other large cover.”

 

Patricia walked over and uncovered a bundle of white plastic strips with fasteners at one end.  “Take on of those strips and secure this feisty young lady’s wrists behind her back.”  She felt a nudge in her back from a gun, so Patricia did as eh was told and secured Clarice’s wrists together.

 

“Very good – now sit her down against the wall.  Esther, you and your maid of honour sit down with your hands on your heads.  The other four, I want you to pair up and one of you secure the other’s wrists as this young lady has been.  Remember, no funny stuff – we are in charge here.”

 

Sally and Jane looked at each other, then Sally said “I’ll do it”, walked over and collected a zip tie and motioned to Jane to turn round.  Soo looked at Esther, nodded and collected a strip herself, before walking over to Nancy and saying “Be brave” as  she took her wrists.

 

“What are you going to do,” Esther asked as Kiki looked at the two girls being tied up.

 

“We just want some of your wealth – all of you.”

 

“But Nancy doesn’t have any money – she’s just a young girl…”

 

“All in good time, Esther.  Right – sit the other two next to our young friend, then each of you get a second tie and secure their ankles together.  Do it quickly and properly.”

 

The three friends looked at each other as they were sat against the room wall, while the other three secured their ankles together with the zip ties.  The leader looked at their work, nodded and said “Very good – now it’s your turn.  You,” he said pointing at Kiki, “Get three ties and come over here.”

 

Kiki stood up, after giving Esther a hug as the bride to be started to cry, then defiantly walked over and picked up three of the plastic strips.  She said “Sorry, girls, but it looks like I have no choice,” as she walked behind them.  Patricia placed her wrists behind her back, and Kiki quickly pulled the tie tightly around them.  Sally and Soo followed suit, before the three were helped by waiters to sit down next to their friends.

 

“Their ankles now, my dear,” the leader said as he handed Kiki three more ties.  Soon the six bridesmaids were sat in a line, secured by the ankles and wrists and looking at each other, Clarice silently fuming.

 

“You,” the leader said as he threw the roll of clear tape at one of the gang,  “make sure the other five are kept quiet while I have a word with the bride and her maid of honour.  Stand up, Esther – I need you to take care of your friend here.”

 

“Look, my dad’s rich, he’ll give you whatever you want – hell, I’ll do it if you just go now.”

 

“Oh, I know you will Esther – now tie your friend up.”  He held out two ties as he said this, and Kiki looked at her friend.

 

“Just do it, Esther,” she said as she turned and crossed her wrists behind her back.  Five minutes later, she was sat next to the other six with her ankles secured and clear tape being smoothed over her mouth.  Nancy had tears flowing down her cheeks, while Soo reached behind her and held her hand.

 

 

 

In the hallway, the lift door opened and a gaudily dressed man stepped out.   The waiter held the door open and firmly guided him back in.  “Private party, sir,” he said as the lift doors closed again, “try to find your floor this time.”

 

 

 

“You’re going to do what!”

 

Esther was sat on the recliner, her wrists and ankles also secured, while the gang were busy setting up a laptop on a table in the room and the others were sat having their photographs taken.

 

“We are going to get each of you to transfer some of your considerable funds into our account, in return for which you get to go through the night unscathed.  This will take a little while, so we will do it one person at a time while you watch.  We’ll start with the young one and the Asian.”

 

“But I told you – Nancy does not have any money.”

 

“I know – but she’ll watch while we take care of the other one.  Cut their ankles free and bring them over here.”

 

One of the waiters took a knife, cut the ties around Nancy and Solo’s ankles and helped them to their feet, before frog marching them over.  Nancy was sat next to Esther, while Soo was made to sit in front of the laptop.

 

“Now,” the leader said as he walked behind the two seated girls.  “I want you, Soo – yes we know who you are – to fill out the form on the screen and transfer one hundred thousand dollars to the account.  We know you have it – and my friend here will watch to make sure you don’t try anything.”

 

“Nd f rfs?”

 

The leader motioned to the waiter, who tore the tape off Soo’s mouth.  “And if I refuse,” she said defiantly.

 

“Then, young Nancy here,” the leader said as he pulled Nancy’s head back and held his gun against her throat, “gets a new opening in her neck.  Do you want that?”

 

“No,” Soo said as the tie around her wrists was cut.  She turned to the screen and started to type in the details.  The leader reached over and tore the tape away from Nancy’s lips.

 

“Esther, I’m scared.”

 

“Don’t be – this will be over soon,” Esther said in a sift voice as Soo stood up.

 

“All right,” he said motioning to one of the waiters, who reached under the trolley he was next to and drew out two paper sacks.  “Take Nancy and Soo and make them comfortable in one of their rooms.  Bring the twins up next.”

 

Nancy was helped to her feet, the tie cut from her wrist and the two women were taken out of the penthouse suite, down the corridor and into Nancy’s room.  As the door was closed behind them, the waiter placed the bags on the bedside table, opened one and produced a length of rope.

 

“Were you a girl scout, Nancy,” he said, and the young girl nodded.

 

“Well then, time to show me your rope tying skills.  You,” he said pointing at Soo, “Face down on the bed and hands behind your back.”

 

 

 

“Very nice, Sally,” the leader said as Sally stood up.  “Now, sit next to Esther there while Jane takes her turn.”

 

“Where have Nancy and Soo gone?”  Jane whispered as she took a seat next to Esther.

 

“I don’t know – to one of their rooms.  I just hope they’re not in trouble.”

 

 

 

“MMPH!”

 

Soo grunted as the green ball was pushed into her mouth and strapped tightly behind her head.  Nancy watched as her crossed and bound ankles were brought up, the purple fabric riding up under the ropes around her chest, and then secured to the ropes around her wrists.  She turned and looked at the frightened young girl, and winked to show she would be all right.

 

“Now, Nancy, take a seat and we’ll make you secure as well.”  The waiter pulled a chair out from the table, and Nancy sat down with the silver fabric of her dress skirt riding up.  He made a lasso with the rope, passed it over her upper body and pulled tightly, the rope biting into her bare arms and the fabric tightening into her chest.

 

 

“Take these two away now, and cut Patricia free,” the leader said.  Sally and Jane were marched out of the room and down to the suite they were sharing by two of the waiters.  As the door closed on them, one of the waiters put two brown bags on the table, while the other said “Face each other and out yoru arms around each other’s bodies.”

 

 

As Patricia and Clarice were led away, the latter rubbing her jaw from the pulling of the tape, Kiki was freed and brought over to the laptop.

 

“Your turn, and then we will finish off with the blushing bride.  Boys?”

 

“Yeah, boss?”

 

“Make sure the black woman gets special treatment.”

 

The two nodded as Kiki was sat down in front of the screen.  A few minutes later, she was sat next to Esther as the gang leader looked at the laptop.

 

“What happens now?” she asked.

 

“Now, Esther, you get to make a special donation to our retirement fund.”

 

“I beg your pardon?”

 

“As you pointed out, yoru cousin had no money, and you are the richest of the lot.”

 

“And?”

 

“And you are going to bring our total to one million.  You will give us three hundred thousand.”

 

“No fucking way!!”

 

“Such language from a Jewish princess,” the leader said as he came over.  The sting from the back of his hand was worse than the cut Esther got as he slapped her face.

 

“You are not in a position to negotiate here – you will give us the money or we shoot everyone on this floor, including you.  Now, sit down,” he said as he cut the ties on her,” and fill out the form.

 

“All right,” she said as she put her hand to her mouth, and walked over.  As she did so, Kiki felt her wrists being pulled behind her back and rope being tied around them.  Esther started to fill out the transfer form as length after length of rope was wrapped around her maid of honour, fixing her black clad arms to her side so that she looked like a black sausage with white stripes around it.

 

“We’re going to lie you down now,” one of the waiters said as he crossed and tied her ankles together, securing the rope around her shoes as well.  Kiki allowed herself to be laid on her side, with more rope around her dress above and below her knees over the black satin.

 

As Esther stood up, she saw her friend lying there.  “Are you all right?” she asked.

 

“As much as can be expected,” Kiki replied as the leader walked over to the trolley and picked up the red ball gag.  He looked at the gang member manning the computer.

 

“All transferred?” he asked as the lid of the laptop was closed.

 

“All done.”

 

“Good – open wide Kiki.”

 

She allowed the ball to be pushed into her mouth, and the buckle to be fastened under her blonde hair, as Esther had her own wrists bound together behind her back.  “I demand to see the others before you tie me up,” she said to the gang leader defiantly.

 

“And so you shall,” he said as he took her by the arm.  “Let’s check on your young cousin first.”

 

 

Nancy looked up and screamed “sthr!” through the clear tape as the leader led Esther into her room.  She had been lashed to the chair, her wrists bound together in front of her and then the rope passed down her legs and used to secure her ankles together.  There was a wad of white cloth in her mouth, but compared to Soo she was lightly treated.

 

Soo was hog tied on the bed - the top of her dress had slipped slightly from her struggles and the top of a black bustier was visible.  She looked at Esther and nodded, before she moved herself round on her stomach to look at the young cousin.

 

“Hang in there, kid,” Esther said as she was led out of the room and the door locked behind her.

 

In the next suite, Sally and Jane were kneeling on the floor, the skirts of their dresses around their knees.  Their wrists were bound together behind each other’s backs and attached by rope to the other sister’s ankles.  Their chests had been lashed together around their waists and above and below their breasts, then cinched in two places to tighten their connection.  Red ball gags were in their mouths, which muffled the calls they made to Esther as she looked at them

 

In a room down the corridor, which was the second largest on the floor, Clarice and Patricia were bound to the poles at the bottom of the four poster bed.  Patricia’s dress had been wrapped around her and secured with ropes at every conceivable place, but Clarice had been forced to strip to her white lace bra and panties before she had been tied to the post.  Esther gave each of them a kiss on the cheek before she was led back to the penthouse.

 

Kiki grunted as her friend was led past them, and into the master bedroom.  “Sit down, Esther,” the leader said as he unwound a length of rope, another of the gang covering them.  “Once we have secured you, we will be on our way.”

 

“How do you expect us to get free?”

 

“The cleaning staff will find you in the morning, unless one of you gets free first.  Now, lie down and raise your knees.”

 

She lay back on the bed, pushed herself back and raised her knees up.  The leader took the skirt of her dress, folded it back so that the top of her white stockings was visible, and started to tie her legs together above and below her knees.  A further length was used to lash her ankles together, and then her legs were pulled so that they lay flat on the bed.

 

“Let me help you to sit up,” he said as Esther allowed the two men to raise her upper body, and hep her to slide back on the bed.  More rope was tied around her upper body and secured to the top of the bed, where there was a large ornate metal headboard.

 

“Now, we need to silence you.  There is one other thing.”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“We’re taking your jewellery as well,” he said as he removed her earrings and necklace and placed them in his jacket pocket.  As he pulled a blue ball gag from the other pocket, Esther opened her mouth to allow the rubber to be placed in and then secured behind her neck.  She watched the men leave the room, with the lights turned off.

 

Some time passed, and then Esther heard a thumping nose.  In the dim light she saw Kiki hopping into the bedroom, across the floor and then onto the bed beside her.  She looked up at the bound fiancé.

 

“R u ll rght?”

 

“Ys – wht d w d?”

 

Kiki shook her head and lay on the bed, as the two friends looked at each other.

 

 

 

The news over the next few days was full of the story of the million dollar robbery.  The party were indeed found the next day by the cleaning staff, and apart from shock and bruises all were unhurt.  Mister Cohen was just grateful, as was her husband to be, that all were unharmed, and the wedding went as planned some weeks later.

 

A year passed before the eight of them met again, at the first anniversary party.  As the evening wore on, Esther gathered the group in a small room in their house.

 

“I thought you ought to know – I got this present in the post today.  I haven’t shown it to Donald or Dad, and I don’t intend to,” Esther said as she closed the door behind her.  She walked over to the bureau, picked up a framed photograph and handed it to them.

 

The other girls looked at the scene that was depicted in the picture.  Seven young women in evening gowns, sitting against a wall with clear tape over their mouths.  Their hands were behind their backs, and plastic was wrapped around their ankles.  Attached to the photo was a card, plain white, with the inscription “To Seven Pretty Maids All In A Row.”

 

The girls looked at each other, with tears in their eyes.

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