Heidi and Mother's Day
She looked up from her plate when she heard her mother speaking to her. The remains of the bacon and eggs were lying there, alongside a half eaten muffin.
“Ysmm,” she mumbled through a mouthful of food.
“Is Cindy still coming over on Saturday for the weekend?”
“Shmm – sorry, she means to be coming. Is there a problem with that?”
Amy sat down and looked at her daughter, realising how much she was growing up. After the events of her birthday a few weeks previously, there had been a new and closer bond between the two, one they had both enjoyed.
“No, not a problem, more an opportunity. You have remembered that this Sunday is Mother’s Day?”
Heidi blushed slightly as she said “Err – no, I hadn’t forgotten. In fact, I was going to go to the mall with Cindy on Saturday to buy our gifts.”
“Nice recovery – no, I think I need to get to know Cindy’s mother a bit better, so I am going to invite her to join us for Sunday lunch.”
“Sounds like a good idea – but Mrs Elsworth is a very...”
“The word you are looking for is posh, Heidi. At any rate, I think we need to make an effort for them, so we will dress appropriately on Sunday. I hope you understand.”
“That’s all right, mum – can we have some fun before that anyway?”
“Of course we can dear – after all, she is sleeping over for the night, isn’t she?”
Heidi smiled at that idea, as she heard a horn outside. “Right – grab your bag and get going,” Amy shouted as her daughter ran out of the door. She saw her run down the pathway and jump on the bus, before turning to pick up the phone.
“Mrs Elsworth? It’s Amy Strong, Heidi’s mother. I wonder if it would be possible for me to call on you for a few moments this afternoon? I have an invitation to deliver to you.”
“Of course I would be delighted to join you for Sunday lunch, Mrs Strong. What time will you be expecting me?”
Amy looked at Cindy’s mother, sitting there in her pinafore dress as she put her cup to her lips. Now that she knew Cindy a little better, she was still surprised at how alike and yet different she and her mother were. Physically they were very similar – shoulder length dark hair, slim build, and fair skinned. On the other hand, while Cindy could be a fun loving girl her mother was strict and always dressed formally.
“If you could arrive at 2, I and the girls will be ready for you.” Amy placed her cup on the coffee table and stood up. “I look forward to seeing you on Sunday.”
Mrs Elsworth walked Amy to the door, holding it open and watching as she walked down the pathway, her heels clicking on the flagstones. As she closed the door, Amy drove off, not noticing the black car that drew up outside the Elsworth residence. A tall, blonde haired woman stepped out, dressed in a smart black skirt and jacket, and walked up the path, pausing on the porch as she waited for the door to be answered.
“Anna,” Mrs Elsworth said as she opened the door. “I thought I recognised you a few weeks ago.”
“Hello Dorothy,” Anna said as the door was held open. “Thank you for calling me – it has been a long time.”
“So what are you going to get your mother,” Cindy said as the two girls walked down the wide mall strip. She was wearing a blue denim pinafore dress over a white t-shirt, long blue socks and a pair of sneakers, while Heidi was wearing a pink t-shirt and Capri pants with flat white shoes.
“There’s a video I want to get her,” Heidi said as they walked into the branch of Bookers, “and some flowers. What about you – after all, your mother is joining us tomorrow.”
“She is about the most difficult woman to buy a present for,” Cindy said as she looked across the rows of books. “I mean, there seems to be very little we share in common, and yet – ah, got it.”
She picked up a book with “The Downing Street Years” on the spine, and a picture of Margaret Thatcher on the front. “Your mum is into politics?” Heidi said as they walked to the DVD section.
“Like you would not believe – she is a great fan of this woman,” Cindy said as Heidi selected a copy of Bridget Jones’ Diary and the two headed for the pay desk. “I hope she likes this.”
“Tomorrow is going to be a different day, isn’t it?” Heidi said as she handed over her money.
“Could be,” Cindy said as she paid. “Come on - let’s grab a drink and wait for your mother to pick us up.”
“Thanks, Mrs Strong,” Cindy said as she went into the house. “Did you hang up your clothes for tomorrow, Cindy,” Amy said as she closed the door behind the two girls.
“Oh – no, not yet.”
“Well, go and do that, and then come back downstairs. It would be best of you did anything else you need to do before you come down as well.”
The two girls looked at each other and smiled as they ran up the stairs. That meant that Heidi’s mother was going to prepare a game for them. As they returned to the front room, they found Amy sitting with a selection of strips of cloth and a roll of sticking plaster.
“As we will not be able to have any games tomorrow,” Amy said as the two girls sat down, “We’ll play tonight. How do you want to do this?”
“Mum – are you up for a challenge?”
“What did you have in mind?”
Heidi smiled. “Tie both of us up, and if we can’t get free in thirty minutes than you can tie us up for the rest of the night.”
“And if you can?”
The two girls looked at each other. “Then we get to tie you up for an hour.”
Amy stroked her chin, before saying “All right – which of you wants to be first?”
Heidi stood up and stood in front of her mother, her hands crossed at the wrists behind her back. Taking a strip of cloth, Amy quickly tied her daughter’s wrists together, before using a sash from a dressing gown to secure them against her back, the sash going round and knotted in front of her waist as she turned round. Cindy followed suit, the sash used on her going through the belt straps on her dress for added support.
“Sit down back to back,” Amy said, and as the two girls sat she used another pair of straps to tie their arms to each other above the elbow. Kneeling down, she secured the ankles of each girl together, and then their legs just below their knees.
“Anything to say before I pass silence,” Amy said as she picked up the roll of plaster. “No,” Heidi said before pursing her lips together as her mother smoothed a strip of plaster over them. “Remember, thirty minutes,” she said as she gagged Cindy in the same way, before leaving the two girls and walking into the kitchen.
Heidi looked over her shoulder saying “rde,” and as Cindy nodded the two girls started probing with their fingers on the ties around each other’s wrists, looking for the weak spot in the knots.
Amy looked up in surprise as the two girls walked in, the cloth strips in their hands. “I’m impressed,” she said as she looked up at the clock, “two minutes left to go. How did you manage it?”
“Practice, Mrs Strong,” Cindy said as she sat down. “Well, a bet’s a bet,” Amy said as she stood up and poured a drink for each of the girls, “but I probably need to go and get changed.” She was wearing a grey sweatshirt and joggers, the legs of which were tucked into white socks.
“No, you’re fine like that,” Heidi said as she sipped her drink, “but you may want to go to the toilet first.”
“Why, what are you planning?”
“Wait and see, mum, wait and see...”
Amy followed the two girls into the front room, where she saw that a chair from the dining table had been placed in the centre of the room facing the television.
“Have a seat, mum,” Heidi said as they walked in, “and put your hands on your lap. We’ll tell you what to do in a few minutes.”
“All right,” Amy said as she sat down, “but I trust both of you. If you want, you can order a couple of pizzas for dinner while I’m indisposed.”
“Thanks, Mrs Strong,” Cindy said quietly, “but we need to start now. When we’ve finished, we’ll give you thirty minutes to get free as well – that’s what you allowed us, right?”
“Right,” Amy said with a smile. “So, where do you want my hands?”
“Just there will do fine for the moment, mum,” Amy said as her mother looked over. Her eyes widened as she saw her daughter folding a dark blue silk square into a wide band. “Are you going to use one of my best scarves as a gag?”
“No, mum,” Heidi said as she walked over, “We’re going to use it as a blindfold.” With that, she pulled the silk band tightly over her mother’s eyes, securing the ends together over her dark hair.
“Well, I guess I won’t be able to see my way out of this now,” Amy said as she felt the two girls take hold of her wrists. She felt the hard wood of the chair back against the inside of her wrists as they were tied in place with strips of cloth.
“This is different,” Amy said to herself as she felt something been tied around her waist, pulling her back into the chair, and then around her upper arms. It was snug, but she knew she would not be going anywhere for a little while. What she could not see was the long strips that Amy and Cindy had cut from an old sheet, which were now tied around her waist and arms, winding round her upper arms, chest and the chair back.
Kneeling in front of Amy, the girls took a foot each and placed them against the front legs of the chair. Taking a strip each, they secured an ankle against each leg, tying it tightly into place, and then tied her legs below her knee to the top of the wooden support.
“How does that feel, mum,” Heidi said as Amy tugged at the strips. “I should be all right,” she finally said, “and I presume a gag is coming?”
“Right again, mum - purse your lips for me.”
Amy felt the plaster being smoothed over her lips and sat back, taking a few moments to calm herself down as she heard Amy saying “Pizza Hut? Can I place an order please? I’d like...”
Amy had tried for the last fifteen minutes to free at least one arm, but the thin strips of cloth were proving more difficult than she had thought to wriggle her way out of. She also had no real idea of how much time had passed, although the fact she had heard the door been answered did seem to indicate the pizzas had arrived.
“Hold still Mrs Strong,” she heard Cindy say as the plaster was peeled away from her mouth. “Thanks,” she said as she felt a straw been placed against her lips, and took a drink from what turned out to be water.
“I see you didn’t have much luck getting free,” Cindy said with a chuckle. “Hungry?”
“A little bit – why don’t you untie me and I’ll have some of the pizza.”
“Sorry, but Heidi said not to – she had a better idea. Open wide.” As Amy opened her mouth, she felt something been placed against her lips, and took a chance by biting down. To her relief, it wasn’t a gag, but a slice of ham and mushroom pizza, which she took a bite out of and chewed slowly.
“Gdpsa” she mumbled as she swallowed and took another drink of water. “Where’s Heidi? I don’t hear her eating.”
“Oh, we had some already, and she wanted to have a bit of a quiet time,” Cindy said as she helped the older woman to take another bite of pizza. As Amy chewed, she wondered what her daughter’s friend meant by that last statement, but said nothing as she continued to eat and drink.
“Had enough?” Cindy said a few minutes later as Amy swallowed a final bite.
“For now – so, when are you going to release me?”
“Not yet, I’m afraid,” Cindy said, “but I will take the blindfold off if you are ready. Then you might be able to see how to get free.”
“Very well then – but only for another fifteen minutes. If I can’t get free by then, you have to release me, all right?”
“All right, Mrs Strong,” Cindy said as she smoothed the plaster back over Amy’s mouth. As the blindfold came off, Amy blinked before looking down at the way she was tied to the chair. Looking over, she saw just why Heidi had not been able to talk.
The young girl was sitting in an armchair in the lotus position, her ankles tied to the knee of the opposite leg with rope, and her arms reaching behind her back. A strip of brown plaster was also over her mouth as she looked over at her mother, her eyes twinkling.
“So that’s why I didn’t hear her,” Amy thought to herself, but now that she could see the way her arms were tied to the chair she could also see a way of getting out. Slowly, deliberately, she closed and extended her fist, pulling up slightly on her arm with each flexing as she felt the cloth band slowly give way. She looked at Cindy walking out of the room, and planned for what may happen later as she continued to slowly loosen the bands.
Amy watched as her mother eventually slipped her wrists free of the bond, and started to pick on the knot they had left within reach of her hand. Within a few minutes, she had managed to disentangle her upper body, and was reaching down to untie her legs. She watched, fascinated, as her mother released herself, removed the plaster gag and then put a warning finger to her mouth as she walked out of the room.
There was a squeal of surprise from the kitchen, followed by some muffled protests, before Amy came back into the room, frog marching Cindy by her side. The young girl was bound by rope around the wrists, ankles and legs, and her mouth was again gagged with sticking plaster.
“Right,” she said as she pushed Cindy onto the couch, “I’m going to have a shower and get changed. When I’m done, I will come and release you two, and not a moment before. Think about that – and the fact you did best me,” she finally said with a smile as she walked out of the room.
It was several hours later, as Amy was about to walk out of Heidi’s room, when Cindy said “Thanks, Mrs Strong. You gave us a great night.”
“My pleasure Cindy. Now, both of you get some sleep. Your mother is coming tomorrow, Cindy, and we all need to be ready and dressed for that.”
“I guess that means party clothes and no fun,” Heidi said as she pulled the covers over herself.
“Good clothes, yes – as for fun, it may just be a different type of fun,” Amy said as she turned the light off. “For now, sleep is what is needed. Good night, girls.”
“Good night, mum,” Heidi said as her mother closed the door. “Please tell me your mother is going to be a bit more relaxed tomorrow,” she said as Cindy turned over.
“I hope so too,” Cindy said as she laid her head on the pillow. “I’d hate it if something went wrong.”
Sunday morning came and went, and as Amy drove the girls back from church they were all getting hungry.
“You girls go and watch television,” she said as she parked the car, “and I will start getting dinner ready.” She stepped out of the car, the swishing sound of her brown corduroy culottes cutting through the air as she walked towards the door.
Heidi stepped out first, taking care that her new light blue trouser suit did not get marked by the car door. Her jacket covered a white camisole-like top, while a pair of black suede mules was on her feet. Cindy was wearing the outfit she had brought with her, a white long sleeved blouse under a pinafore dress of cream cotton, long white socks and black shoes.
“Try not to get into any mischief,” Amy called out as the girls made their way into the front room. As Heidi turned the television on, she said “Have you wrapped your present for your mother yet?”
“Yeah – I’ll bring it down with yours when mum arrives,” she said as she picked up a book to read. “What’s your mum cooking?”
“She put a casserole in the oven earlier,” Heidi said as she flipped through the comics section of the paper, “so I guess it will be some baked potatoes she is putting in now. Anyway, we won’t have long to wait – it’s one thirty now.”
Dorothy Elsworth pulled up at 2 pm precisely, looking round as she stepped out of the car. Walking up the path, she felt the slight breeze blowing the pleats of her long skirt and the chill on her arms through her cotton blouse. Shivering, she looked round again and rang the door bell.
She watched as Amy opened the door, looking at the thin dark haired woman. She had a dark waistcoat over a white long sleeved top, while her legs were covered by the brown leather boots she was wearing.
“Mrs Elsworth, please come in,” Amy said as she held the door open. “The girls are waiting in the front room for us.”
“Thank you, Mrs Strong,” Dorothy said as she came into the house and took her shawl off her shoulders. “But, please, call me Dorothy. Our girls have been friends for so long, and yet this is the first time I have actually visited here.”
“The fault is mine, and please, call me Amy,” she said as she held the door open. “Hello, mother,” Cindy said as she stood up and held her hands in front of her as Dorothy kissed her on the cheek.
“Hello dear – Heidi,” she said as she sat down in a chair. “Would you like a drink,” Amy said as she walked to a cabinet. “Just some lemonade, thank you,” Dorothy said as she looked at the two girls.
“Heidi, Cindy, do you have something to do,” Amy said as she handed Dorothy a drink. The two girls smiled and ran off to the bedroom as Amy sat down.
“I never asked - what do you do for a living, Dorothy?”
“I’m an accountant,” Dorothy said as she took a sip from her glass. “I work from home. And you?”
“Oh, I write a few stories, some books – mainly I have regular alimony payments. May I ask about Cindy’s father?”
Dorothy frowned slightly. “He left us,” she finally said, “when Dorothy was very young. We survive, however – my goodness, is that a present for me?”
“Yes, mother,” Cindy said as she handed Dorothy a parcel. “I hope you like it.”
Dorothy looked at the case and smiled. “I do, Cindy – thank you?”
There was a ping, and Amy stood up. “Well – shall we eat,” she said as she opened the door for the others.
The grey van pulled up outside the Strong house at three pm. The driver looked at the front door, and the cars parked in the driveway, before nodding.
“More coffee, Dorothy?”
“Thank you,” Dorothy said as she accepted the cup from Amy. The two girls were sitting quietly reading books as the older woman chatted.
When the doorbell rang, Amy stood up and said “Excuse me a moment,” as she left the girls with Cindy’s mother.
“So how have you girls spent the weekend,” Dorothy said as they turned to look at her. “Well,” Heidi said as she looked up, “we went shopping yesterday, and watched a movie last night, but otherwise we have been doing our project work.”
“Good,” Dorothy said as she raised her cup to her lips, “It is important for both of you to keep on schedule with your school work. You finish High School this year, and the certificate is important. Isn’t that right, Cindy?”
“Yes, mother,” Cindy said quietly, but with a sideways glance to Heidi as she did so. The door opened and Amy came in, but as Dorothy looked over she stopped for a moment, before slowly lowering the cup and placing it on the table in front of her.
There were two men behind Amy, both with stockings pulled over their heads and dressed in smart suits, white shirts and dark ties. One had his hand on Amy’s shoulder, while the other was carrying a large duffel bag.
“Good afternoon, Mrs Elsworth, girls,” the one behind Heidi’s mum said as he showed them a gun. “Please do nothing you may regret. You,” he said pointing at Heidi, “go and close the curtains.”
“Mum?” Heidi whispered as she looked at her mother. Amy simply nodded and said “Do what they say darling,” as Heidi stood up and walked to the side of the large windows. Pulling on a cord, she watched as the curtains swung shut across the glass.
“Now, I want the ladies to sit on the recliner, with their hands on their heads, and the girls to sit in front of their mothers, cross legged and with their hands on their heads,” the man said as he pushed Amy into the room. “Go and make sure the telephone is disconnected.”
The other man dropped the bag on the floor as Amy walked over and sat next to Dorothy. Cindy got to her feet and joined Heidi as they sat in front of their mothers, facing them as the man walked into the centre of the room.
“What is the meaning of this,” Amy asked as she watched the man standing by her fireplace.
“Well, Mrs Strong, we wish to talk to Mrs Elsworth about something, and the fact she is here is just an unfortunate coincidence for you. I will say one thing however – do anything to raise the alarm, and it will not be you who suffers.” As he said this, he shot a look at the girls, who looked at each other with real fear in their eyes.
“Phone taken care of,” the other man said as he walked into the room. “What about their cell phones?”
“We’ll find them in due course,” the man said as he smiled under the mask. “As it is, we need to talk to Mrs Elsworth first.”
“Why do you need to talk to me,” Dorothy said with a tremor that Cindy had never heard before. “What have I done?”
“You – nothing. Your husband – well, that is a different matter. However, we can discuss that later. As it is Mother’s Day, and you are here with your daughters, I thought we may play a little game, if that is all right with you?”
“What sort of game,” Amy said as she looked at the man.
“Cops and Robbers – except we are the robbers and the police may be some time,” he said as the other man opened the bag. From her position, Heidi could see the coils of cord and rope inside, and swallowed hard.
“Girls, I want you both to stand up and face your mothers, with your hands on your heads,” the man said. Both Heidi and Cindy stood up and watched their mother’s faces as the man took two hanks of cord from the bag and shook them out.
“Ladies, you get the pleasure of tying your own daughters up,” the man said as both Amy and Dorothy were handed a length each. “You can’t be serious,” Dorothy shouted, but all that made the man do was walk over and push his gun into her cheek.
“I am perfectly serious,” he said as the other man watched. “My friend is going to look upstairs for any valuables Mrs Strong may have, while I supervise down here. Girls, turn round with your backs to your mothers and put your hands behind your back.”
“It’s all right, mum,” Cindy said as she slowly crossed her wrists in the small of her back. “I’m not scared – just do as the masked man says.”
Dorothy looked at Amy, who had already doubled the rope over. “I’ve been robbed before,” she said, which made Heidi look over her shoulder at her mother with raised eyebrows. “Later dear,” Amy said as she looked at her daughter. “Dorothy, just do what I do and the girls will be fine.”
Dorothy watched as Amy crossed Heidi’s arms behind her back, and passed the rope around her wrists, pulling the ends through the loop in the centre. She made several more passes, taking care to make sure the loops lay next to each other, before passing the rope between her arms to tighten the coils. Finally, she tied the ends together and tucked them into the wrist binding. Slowly, carefully, Dorothy did the same to Cindy; making sure as Amy had that the rope went over the cuffs of her blouse.
“Very good, ladies,” the man said a she took two more lengths of rope from the bag. “Now, wrap this around their waists so that their hands are held nice and firmly against their backs.”
Dorothy watched as Amy passed the rope around Heidi’s waist, pulling her wrists against her back. She made two passes before making a knot, then taking the smaller loose ends between the coils and her wrists, which tightened the way they were held. Tying the ends off, she turned and touched Dorothy’s arm.
“The girls will be fine,” she said quietly, “and you should be more concerned about what they may do if you do not do what he says. They are much tougher than you think.”
Dorothy nodded as she secured Cindy in the same way. “Right girls, turn round and face your mothers,” the man said. As Heidi turned round she looked over her shoulder and saw the way her wrists were tied.
“Are you all right, Cindy,” Dorothy said as she looked at her daughter. “I’ll be fine, mother,” Cindy said, and as Dorothy looked up she was surprised to see a smile on her daughter’s face. “It doesn’t hurt, honestly.”
“Now, girls,” the man said as he looked at the foursome, “I want you to stand perfectly still while your mothers put something into your mouths.” He produced two white men’s handkerchiefs and handed one to each of the two women. “Fold these into a pad and push them in,” he said.
“But... But she will not be able to breath,” Dorothy protested. “Trust me,” the man said, “they will be fine. Now do it.”
“I’m fine mum,” Heidi said as she opened her mouth and allowed Amy to push the cloth in. “Please, mum,” Cindy said as she looked at her mother, who was starting to cry, “I will be all right. Just do what this man says.” Dorothy nodded as she pushed the cloth in.
“Turn round, girls,” the man said as he handed the two mothers a thin length of white cloth. “Pull that between their lips – they will be fine, I just do not want them to be able to talk for a while.” As the cloth went into their mouths, Heidi and Cindy looked at each other and nodded slightly.
“On your knees, girls,” the man said, and the two youngsters knelt down on the floor, the cuffs of the legs of Heidi’s trouser suit rising slightly as Cindy tried to make sure her knees did not trap her skirt.
“Do we have to tie their ankles now,” Dorothy sobbed as the two older women were handed more rope.
“You do,” the man said, “but this will be the last thing you have to do. To them at least.”
“As we did with their wrists,” Amy said as she shuffled forward and started to pull Heidi’s ankles together, keeping the rope over her trouser legs. Dorothy folded the hem of Cindy’s skirt back slightly and bound her ankles, the rope cinched between her legs as well.
“There now,” the man said as he lifted two cushions off the nearby chair and placed them on the floor. “Both of you sit back with your hands on your heads.” As Amy and Dorothy sat back, the man pushed Heidi forward gently and lay her on her side with her head on one cushion, before doing the same to Cindy. The two girls lay on the floor, looking at each other as the man whispered “Just lie still and you’ll be just fine.”
Standing back up, he looked at Amy and Dorothy. “Your turn now, I think Mrs Strong,” he said as Amy looked over at her guest.
“Dorothy, just do exactly what they tell you, and everything will be all right,” Amy said as she looked over at the man standing there. He smiled as he handed a length of rope to Cindy’s mum, saying “Start by tying her wrists together behind her back,” as he did so.
From where they were lying, the girls watched as Dorothy wrapped the rope around Heidi’s mother’s wrists, pulling them together palm to palm as she passed the cords around and between them. She took care to make sure they stayed over the cuffs of her long sleeved top, but Amy still grunted slightly as the last knot was tied.
“Very nice,” the man said as he removed a large skein of rope from the bag. Heidi’s eyes widened as he watched the man shake it loose and double it over. “I want you,” he said as he handed the rope to Dorothy, “to pass this around Mrs Strong’s arms and chest, below her waist, and pull the ends through the centre loop. Tightly.”
Amy stood stock still as Dorothy passed the rope round, feeling her arms against her side as they were pulled inward. The man instructed Dorothy to repeat the process several times, above and below her chest, as both girls watched the material of her top stretch across and the pattern of her bra start to show through the cotton. The sides of her waistcoat were also pulled back as result of the binding, which was completed by Dorothy passing the rope between the two loops behind Amy’s back and pulling them together.
“Whtduthnkshpngn” Cindy mumbled as she looked over at Heidi.
“Dntkn,” Heidi replied as she watched her mother sitting down on the couch. She looked over her shoulders examining the knots around her wrists as she heard the man say “Now, her ankles if you please.” There was a squeak of leather rubbing against leather as she realised that Cindy’s mother was tying her mother’s ankles together, and as she looked back round she saw the white rope against the brown leather of Amy’s boots.
“Does it hurt,” Dorothy said tearfully as she looked up from where she was kneeling into Amy’s face. “It’s all right,” Amy said as she tried to smile, “I’ll manage.”
“How? I know you said this has happened before to you, but how can you...”
“Enough talking,” the man said as he handed Dorothy yet another length of rope. “Tie her legs together just below her knees, and make sure the rope goes between her legs. Then do the same over her trousers.
“They’re Culottes,” Amy said as she heard the squeak of rope over the corduroy. “Whatever they are, they cover your legs, so be grateful,” was the only reply as Dorothy finished tying Amy’s legs together.
“Nice job, Mrs Elsworth,” the man said as the other intruder walked in. “Finished looking,” he said as he looked over at the younger man, who simply nodded. “Good – why don’t you make sure the two youngsters can’t help each other while I take care of mummy dearest here?”
“wtcht,” Heidi grumbled as she was helped to sit up again by the young man, then watch as he helped Cindy up and moved them both so that they were sitting back to back. From their new position, they could see Heidi’s mother as she was helped to lie on the couch, before the older man took hold of Cindy’s mother and pulled her arms behind her back.
“What are you doing to them,” Dorothy asked as she saw the young man take a long length of rope and pass it around the waists of the two girls. There was a hint of fear in her voice, but she relaxed a little as she saw him pull the two girls together, passing the rope round several times before tying it off. She barely noticed her own wrists been bound, until she felt the rope going around her own arms, pulling the material of her blouse against her arms even as her arms were pulled against her chest.
Amy watched as the younger man pushed Heidi’s legs up and passed a length of rope around her legs above her knees. “Are you all right, dear,” she said quietly, watching as Heidi nodded while her legs were tied together. Looking over, she watched as the older man finished tying Dorothy up, passing the rope around her neck and under her arms to further secure them.
“How are you coping, Dorothy,” she said as Mrs Elsworth was led over to a large seat and sat down. “I... I’m not sure,” she said as she watched the man cross her ankles and start to wrap rope around the short black ankle boots she was wearing. “I mean, I feel all right, but... How do you and the girls manage to stay so calm? It’s almost as if this happens to you all the time.”
“Been robbed? No, this does not happen that often,” she said as she watched Dorothy’s ankles been bound, before the hem of her skirt was lifted up and her legs tied together. At the same time, Cindy watched the younger man lift her skirt over her knees as her own legs were bound below her knees, the skirt of both women lifted back as the men stood up.
“Now, Mrs Elsworth,” the man said as he reached into the bag, “I need to have a private chat with you, so I’m afraid these three ladies are not going to be able to watch or speak for a while.” Removing a plastic bag, he walked over to Amy and drew another handkerchief out of his pocket. “Open wide,” he said as he held the wad in front of Amy’s face, who opened her mouth to allow it to be packed, a length of white cloth passed twice between her lisp as ad happened to the two younger girls.
He handed the younger man two plain white scarves, which he quickly folded into wide bands and used to blindfold both Cindy and Heidi. As a third cloth was passed over Amyls eyes, Dorothy said “Look, I’ll tell you whatever you want, just please leave the girls and my friend alone. They don’t have any part to play in this.”
“Oh they have a part to play,” Amy heard the man say as footsteps went across the room. “Their part is to make sure you answer our questions. Now, shall we begin?”
As the girls sat there, listening to the quiet voices, Cindy felt Heidi’s hand against hers.
“Stclm, wl mv whntheg,” she heard Heidi say, and felt her hand been squeezed. Nodding, she sat quite still, not understanding what was been talked about when she heard words like “financial impropriety,” “hidden accounts,” and “security codes.”
She could also hear her mother starting to cry, pleading for their release, but after a few minutes the plea were replaced by muffled sounds, and she realised her mother must also have been gagged.
For Heidi’s part, she heard her own mother grunt and moan as there was the sound of her clothing moving against the material of the couch, before the older man said “Well, thanks, ladies. Enjoy the rest of the day,” and then the sound of doors closing. She sat still for a few minutes, listening to see if there was any sound of the two men still been there, before squeezing Cindy’s hand again.
“N – ttght. U?”
“N,” Heidi said as she started to shake her head, trying to loosen her blindfold. To her surprise, she felt it starting to slip down her face, until it managed to settle down around her neck. Blinking for a few minutes, she looked round the room as she felt Cindy trying to do the same thing.
Her mother was now lying on her stomach on the couch, her legs pulled back and the legs of her culottes falling down. There was a length of rope between her ankles and the rope around her arms, holding them in place, and she was rubbing her head against the pillow it was resting on in an attempt to remove her own blindfold.
Cindy’s mother was sat in the chair, staring at the two girls sitting on the floor. A wide blue scarf had been pulled between her lips, and it was obvious something was stuffed behind the band. “Rulrght,” she mumbled as she tried to talk to Heidi.
“Ys,” the younger girl said as she felt Cindy push her in the back. Working together, the two girls turned themselves round so that Cindy could see her mother, her blindfold also falling down her neck.
“msrelv, mssre,” Dorothy said as Cindy looked up at her mother. “Tslrgh, mm, jst ststl,” Cindy said as she looked over her shoulder at Heidi.
“Rde,” Heidi said as the two girls started to move themselves from side to side, Dorothy watching and wondering what was going on.
Dorothy watched, transfixed, as the two young girls slowly and rhythmically pushed themselves up and down on their legs, moving their upper bodies as the rope encircling them moved with rise and fall. For her own part, she was losing feeling in her hands as the rope tightly held her wrists together, and there was a tingling in her legs as she tried to move them apart.
She could see the breathing and out with each elevation, wondering what the hell they were trying to do. So her surprise was complete as she saw the rope start to slip down their waists, slowly descending as they managed to stand on their feet and started to wriggle their legs together.
“grrt” Heidi said as the coils slipped down their legs and fell onto the floor. The two girls stood still, pausing for a few minutes before as one they fell forward onto their knees, wincing slightly as they did so.
“Whshw,” Cindy said as she looked over her shoulder at Heidi. The blonde haired girl knelt still for a moment, before she nodded in the direction of the couch. Nodding to show she understood, Cindy started to shuffle forward on her knees to where her mother was sitting watching.
There were two thoughts running through her head as she watched Cindy inching closer. The first was that she had no idea where she and her friend had learnt to do that in such a situation. The second was how much damage this may have been doing to her dress.
The tall, thin woman sipped her coffee as she sat by her table in the roadside cafe. Glancing at her watch, she looked up and down the street as if she was waiting for someone to turn up. As the traffic drove by, she glanced at her watch a number of times, before taking out a cell phone and dialling a number.
She held the phone to her ear, listening to the message that was being played, before hanging up and dialling a second number. When that was not answered, she selected a third number and when the dead line tone came over the lien she drained her cup in one go. Standing up, she threw a note onto the table and moved quickly towards a car park nearby.
“Cn u cm n theflr?”
Cindy had managed to make her way over to her mother, and as Dorothy looked over she could see Heidi kneeling next to her mother. She had managed somehow to pull the blindfold off her mother’s eyes, and now Amy had rolled over onto her back, probing with her fingers as she tried to reach under the cloth pulled tightly into her daughter’s mouth.
“Duwentm tdtht?” Dorothy mumbled as she looked at her daughter, who simply nodded and tried to smile. Cindy could see the very real fear in her mother’s eyes, and wanted to reassure her that it was going to be alright. As she watched her mother slowly sliding down the seat cushion, a thought started to form in the back of her mind – one she had always thought some day she may have to deal with, but not quite in these circumstances.
“Trnrndnptfngrs ndrtclth” Cindy said as she indicated with her head her mother should turn round. Getting onto her own knees, trapping her skirt underneath as she did so, Dorothy shuffled round and watched as Cindy leaned forward slightly putting her cheek against her mother’s fingers. Looking over her shoulder, she wriggled them, making Cindy laugh in the process, before slowly trying to guide a couple of them under the band of cloth that was pressed against her cheek.
Cindy grunted as she felt her mother’s fingers slipping under the cloth and rubbing against her cheek, but the discomfort was soon passed as she heard Heidi saying “PHeeegh... ah, ah, oh that’s better.” She glanced over to see a saliva soaked cloth hanging around the collar of her friend’s top, and a sodden mass of cotton on the floor. As she twisted her own head round to move the band of cloth out of her mouth, she heard Heidi saying “All right, Mum, lie still – I’m going to pick at the knot with my teeth.”
Anne let herself out of the house, adjusting the “Elsworth” sign on the patio fence as she walked down the pathway. She had let herself in with a set of skeleton keys, but one look around the front room had told her that she was not the first person to have visited there that day. The way the books had been slightly disturbed, and everything looked right and yet not quite right, told her someone had been there and looked round already.
She climbed behind the seat of the car, and drove off, cursing silently under her breath.
Amy sighed as she felt the rope parting around her wrists, freeing them after what had seemed like hours. As she wriggled her arms round to her sides, and sat herself up, she saw the tears of relief in her daughter’s eyes.
“Wllddnhedee,” she mumbled as she looked over at Dorothy, who had managed to finally pull the cloth out from between her daughter’s lips. Cindy spat the handkerchief onto the floor and whispered “thanks, mum.”
“I’m sorry, mum?”
“Hw dd u knw whttd?”
Cindy looked over at Heidi and Amy, who in turn were looking between Cindy and Dorothy. Cindy looked at her mother, who was looking at her in a way that she could not quite make out. Surprise? Pride? Anger? She genuinely could not tell, but decided that she needed to be honest.
“Mum – Mum, I need to tell you about the games that Heidi and I play some times when I visit here, but I need you to promise me you will just listen. I can tell you now or I can untie your wrists first. Which would you prefer?”
Dorothy looked at her daughter, with a look that actually managed to scare the other women in the room, before nodding and turning her back, looking over her shoulder as Cindy picked at the knot with her teeth.
As Anne pulled up outside the house, she glanced up and saw the drawn blinds against the windows. She looked at her watch – 5 pm. “Little early for a quiet movie,” she said as she jumped out of the car and made her way towards the side door of the house.
Letting herself in, she could hear muffled voices in the front room. Reaching behind herself, she drew the Glock from her waistband and held it aloft, walking slowly towards the front room. The voices were growing louder, and she cocked back the safety hammer as she stood by the door.
The first the others knew of Anne’s presence was when she kicked the door in and entered, to the sight of Heidi sitting on the floor as Amy sat herself up, and Cindy next to her mother on the floor.
“Nnn?” Amy mumbled, “Wht ru dng hr?”
“Oh shit,” was all Amy heard her friend say as she went straight for Dorothy, pulling the scarf out of her mouth. “Are you all right, Debbie?”
“Yeah, I think so,” Dorothy said as she looked over at Amy, then at the girls. “Ah – I think some explanations are going to be in order, for you and your daughter Amy, but I have a question first for you, Cindy?”
“Where did you and Heidi learn to do what you did? I never...”
“Let me get you all untied first,” Amy said as she knelt beside Cindy, “and then we can explain a few things to everyone.”
Thirty minutes later, Dorothy was sitting next to Cindy on the couch, with Amy and Heidi sat in the armchairs. Anne was standing in front of the mantelpiece, with various lengths of rope and a variety of very wet cloths next to her feet.
“Amy, Heidi,” Dorothy said as she nursed a warm drink in her hand, “You need to know that my name isn’t really Dorothy Elsworth – it’s Deborah Carr. My husband was James Carr.”
Amy sat up when she heard that name. “James Carr? Wasn’t he the inside man on the First American raid – what, fifteen years ago?”
Dorothy nodded. “He was – Cindy was just a baby then, and he turned State’s Evidence in return for protection for me and our daughter. I haven’t seen him since then, and he never told me what happened or why he did it, but we’ve had to live under an assumed name ever since.”
“So is Cindy your real name?” Amy asked her friend as she looked over.
“Yeah – I had to keep mum’s secret, though,” she said with a weak smile. “That’s the reason she keeps such a low profile, and has such a strict demeanour – she needs to put most people off.”
“But what part do you play in this, Anne? I thought you were a private consultant?”
“I am – but I was with the FBI before that, on the team that dealt with that case. I recognised Debbie – sorry, Dorothy, and called to see her after that. I had heard from my former colleagues that certain people were looking for her, and called to offer my services as a bodyguard. Some help I was.”
“Don’t beat yourself up, Anne – the girls were halfway to freeing us anyway.” Dorothy turned to look at Cindy. “Which brings me to the other question, young lady – where did you and Heidi learn to do what you did? It’s almost as if that was not the first time you have been tied up.”
Cindy blushed as she looked over at Heidi. “Mrs Elsworth,” Heidi said quietly, “If we tell you a story, do you promise not to be angry at Cindy?”
“Given how brave she has been, I do not think I could be angry at her, but I deserve to know the truth.”
“Well, it started a few months ago, at my Halloween party...”
“I see,” Dorothy eventually said as Heidi finished. “You knew about these games?”
“I did, and I made sure they came to no harm,” Amy said as she stood up. “In fact, last time Anne helped me out – although as it turned out other people may have had other ideas.”
Dorothy sat in silence for a moment, as Cindy watched her, unsure of what her reaction was going to be. Eventually she stood up, walked over and hugged Anne.
“Thank you for your part in this,” she said as she let go and smiled at her daughter. “I have been strict with Cindy, and for a good reason, but she has a good friend in Heidi. After all, she did get us partially free.”
Turning to Heidi and Amy, she said “I have no problem with Cindy staying with you, or even playing these games, especially as your mother has taken part in some of them. I have to admit, although I was scared, I was also excited then as well.”
“Dorothy,” Anne said, “I would like to make a suggestion. Those men who came in were amateurs, if truth be told – they left you free to try to release each other. If you wish, I can show you how it could have been done – as a game, if you will. There will be no danger, just the four of you. Would you like that?”
Cindy watched as her mother slowly nodded. “If the others are agreeable, that is. I do, however, need a change of clothing – these are rather sweaty.”
“Listen,” Anne said as she took her car keys out of her pocket. “I’ll run you and Cindy home to get some other clothes. Heidi, you help your mum to tidy up here. I need to get a cleanup crew to your house anyway.”
“What about the police?”
Anne looked at Heidi. “Better we keep quiet about this for now,” she said as Cindy and Dorothy hugged. “I’ll be back in an hour – you help your mother. Come on you two.”
As Amy opened the door, she was surprised to see both Dorothy and Cindy standing there in more casual outfits. Cindy was wearing a “Hello Kitty” pink sweatshirt, grey jogging pants and mid-length black felt boots, while Dorothy was wearing a denim blouse and mid-length skirt with brown leather boots.
“I’ve decided to stop being what I am not,” she said as she walked in, followed by Anne, “and live life a little. Besides, I think the more casual look may make things more interesting for this evening.”
“How are you feeling,” Amy said as they walked into the front room. She was now wearing a blue sweatshirt and jeans, with white plimsolls, while Heidi had on a pait of light gray joggers with a matching hooded top, pink stripes running down the sides of both garments.
“I think this will be more comfortable,” she said as Anne closed the door. “After all, I remember what happened last time you surprised us.”
“Now then,” Anne said, “We’re going to assume that a gang has come in to take you hostage, and they have very large guns, so you’re going to do exactly what they tell you, all right?”
The four of them nodded as Anne put her bag in the couch and opened it up.
“The first thing they will do,” she said as she took out two lengths of white rope, “would be as they did this morning – make sure the girls were out of the way. Amy and Dorothy, you take a seat on the couch. Girls, come and stand in front of them and put your hands behind your back.”
The two mothers watched as Anne worked behind the two girls, before turning them round to show them the way their wrists had been crossed and lashed together behind their backs. “Turn back round, girls,” she said, “and I’ll now show you what the robbers should have done from then.”
Taking a longer length of rope, she passed it around Heidi’s arms and chest and pulled tightly, the material stretching over her as it was wound round her lower and upper chest before being passed around her neck and under her arms to tighten the ropes together. “Is that uncomfortable,” Amy asked, but Heidi shook her head and said “No, mum, I’m fine.” Anne repeated the process on Cindy, and then turned the girls round again. Dorothy looked at the way her daughter’s wrists were hitched to the chest ropes, and nodded.
“I don’t think you would be able to use your hands now, dear,” she said as Anne helped the girls to sit down, side by side but facing in different directions. “Now then,” she said to both of them, “If you keep quiet and don’t move, I won’t need to gag you – yet, at any rate. All right?”
“All right,” they said in chorus as Anne turned to the two adults. “Right then,” she said as she picked up another length of rope, “Which of you would like to go first?” The two older women looked at each other, before to her surprise Dorothy found herself standing up and saying “I will.”
"Are you sure Dorothy?" Anne had a genuine look of concern on her face, but Dorothy slowly nodded her head. "Yeah - I want to know what you would do."
"All right then - I want you to kneel behind Cindy, and give her a great big hug from behind. Wrap your arms right around her."
"Like this," Cindy's mum said as she knelt down behind her daughter, wrapping her arms around her and holding her wrists in her hands below Cindy's chest ropes. "Exactly like that," Anne said as she knelt beside them, the length of rope in her hands. Working quickly, she tied Dorothy's wrists together; keeping the rope over the cuffs of her blouse and making sure the rope went around and between. As she pulled the ends of the rope down, and started to wrap them around Cindy's legs, Dorothy turned her head and whispered "Are you enjoying this?" into Cindy's ear.
"Yeah - Yeah, I am," Cindy said as she watched Anne wrap the rope around her legs, pulling them together and making sure they were well secured above her knees. "It's nice to know you're not too angry at me, mum."
"Try moving back," Anne said, and to her great surprise Dorothy found she could barely lean back. "Can’t Cindy just slip out from under my arms," she said as she looked at Anne. "Not by the time I'm finished, she won't" Anne said as she took two shorter lengths of rope. She used each length to secure Dorothy's arms to Cindy, where they crossed, and cinching the rope between their arms. She then used a longer length to secure the two of them together around Cindy's waist and her mother's legs, forcing Cindy's arms up against her mother's stomach but not hurting either of them in any way.
"So," Anne said as she knelt in front of Cindy and passed a length of rope around her ankles, pulling the felt of her boots around her ankles as she secured them together, "Still think you are going to be able to get out of this easily?"
"No, I’m more worried that I may hurt Cindy's back," Dorothy said as she rested her chin on her daughter’s shoulder. "Well, that might happen," Anne said as she walked behind Dorothy and crossed her ankles, "but I'll try to stop that."
Dorothy looked over her shoulder as the rope went around her own ankles, the squeaking sound as the rope tightened around the leather a reminder of events earlier that day. Her skirt had been pulled up slightly as a result of the rope securing her upper legs to Cindy, so as Anne tied her legs together just above her knees she knew this was where she was staying for a while.
"Now then," Anne said finally as she returned to her bag and took out two cloths and a roll of white medical tape, "Time to be quiet." Dorothy and Cindy opened their mouths wide to receive the cloths behind their teeth, and then the tape over their mouths as the tape moulded itself to the shape of their mouths and jaw lines.
"You two stay there," Anne said as she stood up and looked at Heidi. "Want to be silenced before your mother comes over?"
"Nah," she said as she looked over at Amy, "I'll wait."
"As you want. Amy, come over and sit behind Heidi, your back against hers."
Amy walked quietly over and sat down behind Heidi, feeling her daughter’s wrists pressing against her back. Gathering some more rope, Anne knelt down beside them and passed Anne’s arms around the young girl’s waist, placing her hands together palm to palm before starting to wrap the rope around and between them.
“Comfy?” she said as she felt her arms pressing into Heidi’s side. “Yeah – it’s kinda nice actually,” she heard her daughter say as Anne took the ends of the rope and tied them around her legs, pulling her mother’s hands down into her lap.
Cindy and Dorothy watched as their ‘captor’ tied the arms of the other two together where they crossed, and then wrapped more rope around their waists, passing it between their backs as she did so. Amy tried twisting her arms round, but to little effect as Anne knelt in front of her.
She watched, fascinated as Anne crossed and tied he rankles together, then her legs just below her knees. “Now, there is a way out of this,” she said as she stood up, “but in order for it to work you need to be able to communicate with each other.”
“And we’re not going to be able to do that, are we?”
“No you’re not Heidi,” she said as she knelt next to her with a wadded up cloth in her hand. “Open wide.”
Sometime later, Anne was sitting in the kitchen bar, watching and listening to the other four in the front room. Not that there was a lot of conversation going on – all four were now very effectively gagged, with cloths in their mouths and the close fitting white tape over their mouths.
She had not lied – there was a way for them to raise the alarm at least, if not actually to get free, and she was wondering if they could figure it out. There was the squeak of leather against leather as Dorothy tried to move herself into a position to get free, but it was obvious to Anne she feared hurting Cindy more than her own comfort. Cindy was just sitting still, her eyes closed and enjoying the game.
As for Amy and Heidi, they were trying to talk to each other, but with little success. Amy would occasionally look over her shoulder and try pulling her wrists up, but that merely brought Heidi’s legs with her, and the extra weight that carried.
The two pairs were evidently enjoying themselves – the muffled noises spoke not of fear, but of relaxation. From her previous experiences in witness protection, Anne had known that fear is the first thing to conquer – and then knowing what to do was the next. She watched as they wriggled round, seeing Dorothy rest her head on Cindy’s shoulder as the two seemed to laugh, while she could just see Heidi trying to tickle her mother’s back.
Anne glanced at her watch – eight o’clock. An hour had passed, which was probably enough. She stood up, and was about to walk in when she saw Amy brace her legs and push herself back, with Heidi leaning forward at the same time. “They finally figured it out for themselves,” she said quietly as she watched Amy pick at the edge of the tape with her fingers...
As she looked up, she saw Cindy walk across the school yard towards her. She was wearing a long sleeved blue top under her t-shirt, and dark leggings under her denim skirt. “Obviously to hide the marks,” she said to herself as she stood up and hugged her friend.
“How are you feeling – after yesterday I mean?”
“Not as scared as I had been. We stayed the night in a motel while Anne’s team cleaned up, and she has promised to keep an eye on us – from a distance of course. She’s also going to give my mum and me some more training, so you may have a challenge on your hands in the future.”
Heidi smiled. “What about your mum?”
“She’ll be all right – it was the shock of seeing me getting hurt that upset her more.”
The two stood up and walked towards the doors as the bell rang.
“Oh, before I forget,” Heidi said as she opened the door, “It’s Aunt Veronica’s birthday in three weeks time, and we’re planning a surprise party. Interested?”
Cindy simply nodded as they walked into the high school.