She was not what you would call a typically beautiful woman, but she had a certain quality about her, a look that showed she was confident in herself and in her own power. Renen was around five foot eight tall, with short dark hair that encircled her olive skin as she looked at the various market stalls. It was a warm day, and the short sleeved black tunic she was wearing glistened as the rays fell on the cream and godl embroidered pattern that adorned the front, displaying a pattern of swirls and shapes that suggested a web-festooned floral scene.
The slight breeze made the legs of her white chiffon harem pants blow as she walked along, the material gathered around her waist under the split bottom of her tunic and around her ankles, while a pair of gold strapped sandals protected her feet. She stopped in a few stalls, picking up some items of food and placing them in the wicker bag that hung over one shoulder, before walking back into the distance and towards her ‘modest’ home.
The “little house’ as she liked to call it actually sat in a walled compound, with one gated entrance that could only be accessed by a code pad. She did not really need to go shopping – she could have sent Sasha to do that – but she needed the fresh air, the exercise – the freedom that came from been able to leave the house for just a few hours. This was meant to be the Land of the Free, and downtown Seattle was a beautiful place, but her husband was too conscious of security and too afraid of what could happen to allow much.
As she walked up to the gate, she looked from side to side, noting any traffic before punching a sequence of numbers into the keypad. A small door in the large gates swung open, and Renen stepped inside, pushing the door closed behind her. A few minutes later, a young woman with long black hair, dressed in a grey wool jacket and skirt, walked past the compound. She stopped for a minute, before reaching up and removing a small electronic chip from underneath the pad, and continued on her way.
Renen watched as a small, plump woman walked in from the kitchen. She had bleached hair, and was wearing a sheer blue cap sleeved top, covered in a “pop art” pattern of concentric circles of green, red and white. A pair of tight blue leggings covered her lower limbs, fastened just above her ankles, while her feet were in a pair of black slippers.
“Yes, Mrs Rasheed?”
“Bring me some iced tea on the patio, and then you can start to prepare dinner. I think Layla will be home soon from college.”
“Very good, Mrs Rasheed,” the young woman said as she turned and walked back into the kitchen. She knew her employer could be a bit cold at times, but understood why – her husband was away, “on business” as she put it, a lot of the time, and her daughter could be a bit of a handful. At any rate, it was a job, which was more than many of her friends out east could say they had.
As she walked past the monitor that sat next to the work surfaces, she failed to notice the front gate swinging open. If she had seen it, she would have assumed it was Layla – but as the young woman and two tall, well built men slipped in instead, she would have been mistaken.
As it was, she busied herself with a kettle and a pot of Jasmine tea leaves, waiting for the kettle to boil and starting the infusion as she looked for a pot that had been made earlier in the refrigerator. Taking the jug out, she poured the amber liquid into a tall glass half filled with ice.
“Would you mind pouring a glass for me as well – this can be thirsty work?”
Sasha straightened at the unknown female voice behind her, and slowly turned before raising her hands.
Renen looked up as the patio door opened, and Sasha carried in a tray with two tall glasses of iced tea on it. As she placed it on the wrought iron table, she stood and looked at her boss.
“Whatever is the matter, Sasha – you look terrible. And why did you bring me two drinks?”
“One is for me,” the dark haired woman said as she stepped onto the patio, pointing a small pistol at Renen. “Your housekeeper was kind enough to pour a glass for me so that we could sit together, talk and drink.”
Renen stood up, the wind from the lake blowing her top and pants as she did so. “Who are you, and how did you get into this house?”
“Who is unimportant,” the woman continued as a tall, well dressed man came out after her. “How? Well, a simple recording of your entry code achieved that. Jack, dear, Leave the case on the table and take this young woman back to the kitchen. Make sure she is – comfortable.”
“As you wish, Miss Grey,” the man said as he took Sasha by the arm and escorted her back into the house. “Now then,” the woman said as she sat at the table and indicated to Renen she should do the same,” Why don’t we enjoy our drinks and the view – we have some time to kill, after all.”
Renen looked at her uninvited guest, and the small case lying on the table which she had placed the gun on, before reaching over and taking a glass.
Miss Grey smiled as she raised her glass and took a sip.
As the small inner door swung noiselessly open, Layla Rasheed stepped through into the courtyard. She was slightly taller and thinner than her mother, and dressed in a younger manner. A pair of dark charcoal leggings covered her legs, with baseball boots on her feet, and a pair of mini denim shorts. The matching short jacket covered her arms and shoulders, but left her midriff free where her t-shirt was covering it. A long grey and silver scarf was wrapped round her neck to keep the chill out. Her dark hair was longer, hanging over her shoulders as she walked towards the front door of the house.
“Sasha? Anyone home?” she called out as she closed the front door behind her, but there was no reply. In itself that was not unusual – it was a large house, and sometimes Sasha would not be able to hear her. What was unusual was the complete lack of noise – not even a radio playing in the rooms anywhere.
Shrugging her shoulders, Layla walked into the front room and switched on the television, flicking through the channels until MTV came up and she sat back to listen to the music. She was soon lost in music, as it were, her eyes closed as she hummed along – until the television was turned off.
Opening here eyes, Layla saw a tall, well dressed and broad shouldered man standing there, smiling at her. He was a complete stranger to her, so as a young and intelligent woman she did the only fit and proper thing – she screamed as she shot up and started to run out of the room.
Layla made it as far as the doorway before she was grabbed from behind, a large gloved hand clamped over her mouth as the other arm picked her up and carried her, kicking and screaming, towards the patio at the rear of the house. As he stepped through the doors, Layla saw her mother sitting with a young, dark haired woman, two empty glasses on the table in front of them.
“Ah, this must be Layla,” the stranger said as the man held the daughter. “Please, young lady, stop struggling – your mother will explain the situation if you remain calm. If not, well – we may be forced to more drastic measures to ensure your silence.” She opened the case that Layla could see next to the glasses, and showed her the contents. Layla looked at the case, then to her mother, before nodding.
“Much better – you may call me Miss Grey. Come, sit with us,” she said as she pulled a third chair out. “Malcolm, why don’t you go and see if Jack needs any assistance.” The man nodded as he let Layla go, Renen coming over and holding her as he did so.
“I’m sorry, darling,” she said as she walked the young girl over to the table, “I’m so sorry.”
“What’s going on, mum?”
“Oh, just a simple robbery,” Miss Grey said as the two women sat down. “Your mother has been gracious enough to allow us to search your house, and in a little while she will help us with another matter.”
“It is not important, Layla,” Renen said with a slight sob, “Your safety is much more important than that.”
Malcolm walked into the kitchen. “How’s she coping?”
“About as well as you would expect,” Jack said as he looked down towards the floor. Sasha tried to raise her head, knowing she was been looked at, but the ropes around her neck were keeping her head bowed down. They were secured to the ropes that held her legs together around the thighs as she sat in a lotus position on the large cushion.
Her ankles were secured to the opposite knee with shorter lengths of rope, while her wrists were tied to her elbows behind her back in a box fashion. A pair of long socks had been pulled over her hands up to her elbows, offering some protection to her skin.
No such protection, however, was over her upper arms as the ropes that held them tightly against her side bit into the flesh. They crossed in front of her chest, forcing her breasts out as she rocked slowly forwards and backwards, moaning through the dish towel that had been pulled between her teeth as a simple, but effective gag.
“So I see,” Malcolm said with a smile. “Listen – she wants you to start searching the house, now that the daughter’s turned up. I’ll keep an eye on her.”
“How is she going to manage the two women?”
“I think she plans to get Mummy to land a hand.”
Sasha tried to scream out, but to little effect as she hard a pair of footsteps walking into the distance.
“Such a beautiful view,” Miss Grey said as she stood up, “but we really must be about our business.” She picked up the pistol in one hand and the case in the other, and motioned to Renen and Layla. “Both of you – inside. We have some work to do.”
The two women looked at each other, before standing up and slowly walking back into the house, Miss Grey following behind. “Stop there, and put your hands behind your heads, fingers locked together,” she said as she stepped in. The two women looked at each other before doing as she demanded, while she closed and locked the doors behind her.
“All right – up to your room, I think, Layla,” she said as she walked in front of her captives. “You know the way.”
The three women made their way into the hallway and up a flight of stairs, stopping by a door at the top of the staircase. They could hear the sound of someone searching in the other rooms, but said nothing as Miss Grey opened the door and ushered them both inside.
It was obvious the room had been searched, with drawers opened and items of clothing sticking out, and a number of boxes scattered on the floor. “This will do nicely,” Miss Grey said as she looked round, “I need to make sure your daughter is safe while we conduct our business.”
“What exactly do you mean by that?”
“I mean, my dear Renen that your daughter will be here while we do what we have come to do, and you will remember that. In fact, you are going to play an intimate part in this, but first...” She bent down and picked up a green bandana that had been left on the floor. “Layla, fold this into a ball and stick it in your mouth.”
The young girl looked at her mother, before saying “I’ll be quiet, I’m sorry I called out earlier, but please...”
“I said,” Miss Grey repeated as she pointed her gun at Layla, “Stuff this into your mouth. Now.”
“Layla, please – just do as they say. I love you, and I don’t want to see you hurt.”
Nodding, Layla folded the cloth square into a ball and stuffed it into her mouth, her teeth closing over it as the edges stuck out from between her lips. “Now,” Miss Grey said as she continued to point the gun at her, “take that lovely scarf off from around your neck and blindfold yourself. Make it good and tight – I want the rest of this to be a surprise for you.”
Trembling as she unwound the scarf, Layla placed it over her eyes and pulled it around her head, tying the ends together tightly at the back of her head. Miss Grey walked over and pulled the blindfold tighter, before putting her fingers to her mouth and motioning to Renen. As she walked over, Miss Grey put the case on the table in the room and opened it, taking out a roll of duct tape and handing it to her.
“Do exactly what I say,” She whispered, “Start by tearing three long strips off, and then taping over your daughter’s mouth to keep that scarf in there. Do not say a word, but do it right.”
Renen nodded as she walked slowly over. Layla hard sounds like ripping and said “shtstht” as she felt the first strip been stuck over her mouth and lips. The grunting and muted swearing continued, decreased in volume as more tape was pressed over her lower jaw.
“Now,” Miss Grey whispered, “Take your daughter’s hands behind her back, cross her wrists and tape them tightly together, before wrapping the tape around her waist to hold her wrist against her back.” It was Renen’s turn to tremble as she took Layla’s arms and guided them behind her back. Layla felt the tape sticking to her bare wrist, but did not resist as she felt the tape going round her arms, the adhesive sticking to her skin, and then around her waist, pinning her wrists behind her.
Miss Grey walked over, unfastened the denim jacket and pulled it down Layla’s arms, leaving it around her wrists. “Now her arms to her side,” she whispered into Renen’s ear, who slowly did as she was commanded to.
Layla stood still, knowing someone was binding her in tape by the tug on her skin, but with no idea it was actually her mother. Miss Grey took her by the arm and walked her over to the bed, making her sit down on the edge and ordering Renen to bind her legs together. Crossing her daughter’s ankles, she taped them tightly together, then her lower legs, and then above her knees.
“Very good,” Miss Grey whispered as she pushed Layla onto her side, a grunt escaping her gagged mouth as she lay down. The door opened and Jack walked in. “Keep an eye on her,” she said as she picked up the case, “while I take mother here to her office to take care of things.”
“Renen – how lovely to hear from you again. Why are you looking so worried?”
“Husband, you need to listen very carefully to what the woman who is here with me is going to say.”
“Good afternoon, Mister Rasheed,” Miss Grey said as she came into the screen view on the computer of Renen’s husband. “Your wife and daughter have been kind enough to invite us into your beautiful home, and we are taking very good care of them. We need you, however, to do something for us if you wish them to remain that way. If you call the police, or any other authority, then they will not enjoy much more of their time here, short as that will be. Do I make myself clear?”
At the Seattle side of the conversation, Renen could see her husband’s face redden, and then pale as she saw her reaction to what had just been said. “We are fine for now, husband,” she said quickly, “but they have Layla bound and gagged in her room, and I fear that is going to happen to me as well. Please, do as they say.”
After a moment, he said “Very well – what do you want?”
“Not much really,” Miss Grey said quietly, “One million US Dollars from your account.”
“Are you crazy? I don’t have that much money in my personal account.”
“Not your personal one, Mister Rasheed.”
Renen looked at her husband, who was sitting stock still. “You know you are dealing with a dangerous person here,” he finally said.
“I do – but is it worth the lives of your wife and daughter?”
“No – no it is not. What would you have me do?”
“Tell no-one – you are been watched and we are monitoring your computer connection. You will receive instructions in the next few minutes.” Killing the internet chat link, Miss Grey stood up and walked behind Renen.
“Thank you for your co-operation,” she said as she took a skein of white rope from the case. “Now, please, put your hands behind your back.”
“What choice do I have,” Renen said in a resigned tone as she placed her hands together palm to palm, behind the rear support of the computer chair she was sat on. She winced as she felt the rope cutting into her bare skin as they were pulled tightly together, the rope running around and between her wrists as it tightened the loops, before Miss Grey took the ends and tied them round the central seat support.
“What account are you talking about,” Renen asked as she watched a large loop of rope going over her head and around her chest, pulling her arms into the side of her body as it was passed round above and below her breasts, the material of her tunic tightening over them as the ropes were cinched between her arms and body.
“You will need to ask your husband about that,” the dark-haired woman replied as she spun Renen round and knelt in front of her, a further length of rope in hand. Placing her ankles together side by side, she quickly bound the together before taking the rope around the side of the chair and tying the ends around her wrists, pulling the feet sideways and up as she did so.
As she watched her knees become more visible under the chiffon that covered them, Renen saw a message appear on the screen. Miss Grey stopped and read the text, before saying “Excuse me” and making a call on her phone.
“It’s me. Everything complete?
“Good – we’re on our way.” Turning her phone off, she reached into her case and drew out a large red sponge ball, which had a length of nylon stocking threaded through the middle. Renen looked on as she stood in front of her.
“Open wide,” Miss Grey said. “OH dear heavens, you cannot be seriosasasafsfd” was her response as the ball was pushed between her teeth, the nylon stretched around her head as the ends were secured behind her neck.
“Jack, Robert – we’re leaving,” Miss Grey said as she closed her case, picked it up and walked out of the room. Renen listened as she heard footsteps descending the staircase, before silence fell over all the rooms.
Layla finally succeeded in forcing the scarf off her eyes, and blinked as she looked around, then down her own body. She tried to scream, only to remember the sodden mass in her mouth which was slowly drying her throat also silenced her. Instead she started to struggle, trying to find some way to loosen the bonds around her.
The door to her room opened, and Layla lay still, her eyes hut in case it was the man returning. The squeak of wheels made her open her eyes again. To see her mother slowly backing in, using her body weight to slowly move the chair she was secured in. As she turned the chair round, Layla could see the red ball between her teeth, as tears started to flow down her cheeks and the morning sun started to peek through the window blinds.
“Flight AC8302 to Calgary is boarding now. Will all passengers please board...”
“Shall we gentlemen,” Miss Grey said as they stood and walked to the gates...
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