Heidi’s Group Therapy
Lunch at the local High School was always a time for friends to gather, and this day was no exception. There were huddles of young people around the tables, sitting, eating, talking, but in a quiet alcove on the far side of the yard two young women were sitting, talking with each other. As he looked over at them, he wasn’t sure what to do - he wanted to go and talk to them, but the shyness that seemed to invade every part of his life was making him stay away.
Finally, however, he screwed up the courage and stood up, walking over towards them as they talked together. One was small, about five six and thin, with short blonde hair, wearing a blue t-shirt over a black long sleeved top, denim shorts, dark leggings, white socks and trainers. The other was slightly taller, with shoulder length dark hair, wearing a white cardigan over a blue floral print summer dress, tights and black shoes. As he got closer, he heard the conversation they were having.
“... I still wake up in cold sweats, and so does mum. It always seems as if it was just yesterday when it happened, instead of...”
“... Instead of a month ago. I know - mum and Aunt Veronica seem to be coping better than I am.”
Finally, he took a deep breath and said “Heidi? Cindy? DO you mind if I join you?”
The two girls turned and looked at the new arrival, standing there adjusting his glasses and running his hand through his brown hair. He was not too much taller than Heidi, and she knew him from certain classes they shared.
“Hi Dave,” she said with a faint smile, “What do you want?”
“Can I sit down?” He watched as the girls looked taw each other, before they nodded. Sitting himself between them, he said “Look, I understand if you don’t want to talk, but I can see you’re hurting, and...”
“And?” Heidi said this with a little impatience in her voice - the lack of sleep over the last few weeks was starting to tell on her.
“... and I wanted to say I know how you feel - I’ve been through something similar. Also, I don’t like seeing you upset - it upsets me as well.”
“You’ve been through something similar? What sort of thing?”
“I don’t like talking about it too much - especially here,” Dave said as he looked round. “Perhaps - perhaps I can walk you home and tell you about it.”
Heidi looked at Dave, then at Cindy, before saying “Well, I normally...”
“Not today you don’t,” Cindy said as she picked up her tray, “I need to go into town and meet with Joanne.” She winked at Dave as she said this, before continuing “She’ll walk home with you, Dave,” and walking into the distance.
Heidi watched her friend walk off, and then looked at the young man sitting there, before saying “All right then - you can walk me home.”
Cindy picked up the phone as the incessant ringing ceased.
“Did you know?”
“Did I know what, Heidi?”
“Did you know he had a crush on me?”
“Heidi, everyone in the class knew Dave had a crush on you. You’ve just been so caught up in yourself that you haven’t noticed it. He’s the shyest kid in class as well - I’m amazed he finally had the courage to talk to you!”
“Yeah well - real subtle the way you got us together.”
“And he’s kinda cute as well. I’ve agreed to see him this weekend to go to the pictures.”
“Finally - my best friend has a date! I was beginning to wonder.”
“Hey, when did you become a relationship counsellor? I’ve never seen you with a boyfriend either.”
“Doesn’t mean I don’t have one, Heidi. I just keep him to myself.”
“All right, all right. Listen - Mum wants you and your mother to come round for dinner tomorrow, if you’re free. Aunt Veronica will be here too.”
“I don’t think we’ve got anything on - hang on.” Cindy put the phone down and called out “Mum - Mrs Strong wants us to come to dinner tomorrow. We don’t have anything planned, do we?”
Hearing her mother’s reply, Cindy nodded and said into the receiver “We’ll be there at seven. Any idea why?”
“Find out tomorrow.”
Heidi screamed into the tape gag covering her mouth, the cloth stuffed behind it muffling any sound, as she watched the masked man kneel next to her mother on the ground, her arms and legs tied spread eagled to the stakes that had been knocked into the soft ground. She was sat in a deck chair, tied firmly into place with a knife against her throat, eyes wide as the man cut Amy’s bikini between her breasts.
“Mummy wants this,” he said in a soft gentle voice as he reached down, Heidi’s eyes widening as she screamed at him to stop, to go away, to leave them....
“Heidi? Heidi, wake up!”
Heidi opened her eyes and looked at her mother, the cold sweat running down her body as she panted for air.
“Was it a nightmare again?” Amy said as she held her daughter, feeling the sweat soaking her pyjamas. Heidi silently nodded, burying her head into her mother’s chest as she started sobbing again. Amy held her, stroking her hair as she nodded and talked quietly to her. She knew she had to do something to help her daughter - and, by all accounts, so did Cindy and Dorothy from what she had heard Heidi talk about.
This made her more determined to go ahead with the plan Veronica and her had conceived - if that was possible.
Cindy waved at the young girl as she walked into the high school. Natalie Jenkins was at her locker, reading a letter and digesting the contents as she did so.
“Oh - hi Cindy,” she said as she folded the letter and put it away. “What’s up?”
“Nothing much - have you seen Heidi?”
“Heidi - she’s in home room I think.”
“Are you all right?”
“I think so - just... Look, I’ll see you later.” She picked up her bag and walked in the opposite direction, leaving Cindy to look at her, a bemused expression crossing her face as she walked away.
“I’m glad you could both come round - we really haven’t had a chance to just be a group of five together since - well, since we were kidnapped.”
Amy looked at Cindy and Dorothy as they sat on the couch opposite her, their hands clasped in front of them. Dorothy looked older than usual, the grey hairs at her temples slightly more visible than they previously had been, and her eyes looked tired and red. She clasped the coffee cup in her hands as she looked at Cindy.
Veronica was standing by the fire, looking at both of them with concern. “How have you been coping - I know you were dragged into this with no warning.”
“You didn’t have any either, did you,” Dorothy said as she looked up at her friend. “If you mean physically, well bruises heal. On the other hand, I - that is, we haven’t been sleeping that well.”
Cindy looked at Heidi and nodded. “Last night I dreamt that I was taped to this chair, my head locked into place and tape all round my mouth and forehead, as these two masked men stripped mum and tied her to the bed, and then started to...” She sobbed a little as Dorothy handed her a handkerchief.
“I don’t want to go into the details,” Dorothy said as she out her arm around Cindy’s shoulders, “but I’ve been having some fairly vivid dreams as well. I guess we all have.”
“If I could sleep, I’d agree,” Veronica said as she sat down, “but right now I think we need to find some way to deal with this. Amy and I have been talking, and we were wondering if some sort of group therapy might be in order - we both have people we can talk to, but you may not.”
“You’ve been seeing a shrink, mum?”
Amy shook her head as she looked over at Heidi. “No - but I have people like Anne I can talk to. It’s perfectly natural to have some sort of fear after what we have been through; the trick is knowing how to get over it.”
Cindy looked up, her eyes red, and said “I think it sounds like a good idea, but I don’t think there are that many people who can help us with this.” As she sat for a moment in silence, she started to rub her chin before saying “I have an idea, but I’m not sure you’re going to go with it.”
Amy sat forward and put her cup on the coffee table. “Let’s hear it, Cindy - we won’t tell anyone.”
“Well, we’ve been having nightmares of people we don’t know tying us up, gagging us and doing things to us, right?”
Heidi and Cindy nodded as Veronica looked over at Amy.
“You’re right,” Heidi said quietly, “I guess it’s not the fact we’re bound and gagged that is giving me nightmares, but the fact we don’t know what’s happening.”
“Exactly - mum, so you remember that program we saw about people who had a fear of flying?”
Dorothy sat back in the chair. “I remember that - they got them into a room with experts, who explained all about the mechanics of flying, talked them through the risks, then escorted them and sat with them while they took a short flight. Why do you mention it?”
Cindy looked at Amy and said “I wonder if we could do something similar - it’s the three of us who are having the worst nightmares, so if someone we knew and trusted were to take care of us for the weekend, maybe the dreams would stop.”
Veronica stood up and went to kneel next to Cindy. “Cindy, are you suggesting what I think you’re suggesting?”
“I think so, Veronica - What would happen if you and Heidi’s mother were to take the three of us hostage for the weekend? We all trust you implicitly, so there would be no fear as such, and if you held us as real kidnappers would, it may help us to get over these dreams.”
“I don’t know, Cindy,” Dorothy said as she looked at her daughter, “Would Amy and Veronica be open to doing this?”
Amy looked over at Veronica, and then said “We would need to establish some ground rules for this. If I understand what Cindy is saying, the three of you would effectively be held captive - that means you would be bound, gagged, and possibly blindfolded and your hearing impaired, so that you would not know what is happening. What about meals, comfort breaks?”
“We would have those, but we would remain blindfolded the whole time, so that we did not know who was holding us or what was happening. The gags would have to come off to eat, but you could make us take turns so that the others did not know.”
“What about sleeping?”
“Change the gags,” Heidi said as she sat forward, “Use a gag that allows us to breathe - a simple cleave gag, say - and something stricter during the day. Maybe, just maybe, it might help. What do you say, mum?”
Veronica stood up and looked at her half-sister. “You know, it may just work. We could use...”
“No, don’t tell us - just say whether or not you would do it.”
Amy shook her head. “All right, we can do this, if Veronica is willing. Just so we are clear, you get to know nothing until it is over, right?”
Dorothy looked at the two girls, before nodding. “Heidi, why don’t you come and spend Friday night at our house - then it makes it easier for whatever is going to happen, to happen. It’s Tuesday now - does that give you enough time?”
Veronica nodded. “All right - leave it to us. Now, can we talk about something else, please?”
The following afternoon found Amy and Veronica sitting at a cafe, discussing their plans for the weekend.
“So we take them from Dorothy’s house, bring them to my place, and leave them completely immobilised and silenced?”
Veronica nodded. “Yeah - we can change their binding and positioning every so often, but that’s the idea. The one thing that bothers me is we are going to need some help - did you talk to Anne?”
“She’s out of the state - some sort of work related thing. What about a couple of their friends?”
“That’s possible - do you have anyone in mind?”
“I’ll make a couple of calls - leave it with me.”
“Good - now, who’s this Dave you were talking about?”
“Of course I will, Mrs Strong, you can count on me. I’ll come round Friday night as you asked, and I’ll have a word with her as well.”
Alexa looked at Joanne as she switched off her phone. “That was Heidi’s mum?”
“Yeah,” Joanne said as she looked at Alexa across the table, “I’m afraid I need to cry off this weekend. She needs my help with a project.”
“Could be - but I don’t want to say anything just yet.” The two girls picked up their trays and took them to the racks, before walking towards the library. Both were wearing shorts and t-shirts, with dark leggings on their legs and flat shoes.
As they came to the door, they met Natalie walking in the opposite direction, her long skirt flowing as she walked in her bare feet.
“Natalie, just the person - can I have a quick word,” Joanne said as they met at the door.
“Well, I need to see Chloe, but I can spare a minute.”
“Good - I’ll see you inside,” Joanne said to Alexa as she entered the library, while guiding Natalie to one side. “Listen,” she said as she found a quiet corner, “I’ve just been talking to Heidi’s mother. You know she has been having nightmares?”
“I noticed she was more tired than usual - I guess the events hit her hard, right?”
“Her and Cindy - so her mother is planning to do something with them this weekend but she’s going to need some help. She rang me to see if I would assist, but I was wondering if you would as well.”
“Does Heidi or Cindy know?”
“No - and don’t tell them. I’ll explain more later, but I need to know if you can spend the weekend on this?”
Natalie thought for a moment. “I’ll check with mum and dad,” she said, and Joanne noticed a slightly pained expression in her eyes as she said this.
“Everything all right at home?”
“Hmm - oh yeah, nothing to worry about. Can I get back to you later?”
“Sure,” Joanne said as the two of them walked into the library. As they came in, they saw Chloe at the desk, a multicoloured scarf round her neck and tucked into her jumper.
“Ah, Natalie,” she said as she looked up, “Come with me.” The two girls went into a private office as Joanne went to join Alexa.
“So you need my help with something?” Chloe pulled out a chair as Natalie sat down.
“Yeah, I do, but you need to keep this to yourself.”
“But of course - what can I do for you?”
Natalie drew a letter out of her bag and handed it to Chloe. As she watched her friend take out the letter and read it, she noticed the expression on her face change. Eventually, she folded the letter and handed it back.
“When did you find out?”
“My parents told me last week, and then they arranged for this letter to be sent to me.”
“And you need to know?”
“I need to know - can you help me?”
Chloe nodded as she turned to the computer on her desk. “Very well then - we need to examine the birth registers for the date and place specified. It should not take too long...”
“Thanks for taking me to the movies, Dave.”
As Heidi and Dave stepped off the bus, he looked round.
“This isn’t where you live, Heidi.”
“No - I’m spending the weekend at Cindy’s place. Her mum picked my bag up earlier.”
The two walked own the street, Heidi’s hand slipping into Dave’s as they approached a post box with “Elsworth” written on the side.
“Well, here we are,” Heidi said as they stopped at the path. “Thanks again for tonight, and escorting me here.”
“My pleasure,” Dave said with a smile, “perhaps we can do it again?”
“I’d like that,” Heidi said, and she stood on tip toes to kiss Dave on the cheek. He stood there, looking after her and rubbing his cheek as the door opened and Dorothy stood there.
“How was the movie,” she asked as Heidi came in and she closed the door behind her.
“It was fun - I’m not a big fan of superhero films, but I enjoyed it.”
“Good,” Dorothy said as she opened the front room door, where Cindy was sitting. “I’ll get some cocoa - after all, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring.”
Heidi stirred in her sleep, mumbling “Oh god, please don’t put those in my mouth” when she felt a hand on her shoulder. As first she thought it was part of the dream, but the shaking was insistent, so she slowly opened her eyes.
She saw her mother standing over her- except there was something fuzzy about the way she looked, It took a few moments for her to realise it wasn’t her eyes that were the problem, but the dark stocking that Amy had pulled over her head. She was wearing a black roll neck sweater and stirrup pants, with her bare feet on the floor.
“Get up, little one,” she said quietly, “and get dressed - you’re coming with me?”
“Where,” Heidi said as she rubbed her eyes, “Where am I going?”
“None of your business,” Amy replied as she showed Heidi a small toy pistol. “Just do what I say and get dressed.” She stood back and watched her daughter slowly sit up in the bed and bring her legs over the side.
“What do you want me to put on?”
Amy pointed to the chair by the bed, where a small pile of clothing was placed. Heidi could also see her overnight bag on the floor. Slowly, she pulled off the vest top she was wearing and took a white bra, placing it over chest before pulling on the pale blue t-shirt that was at the top of the pile.
“Where are my friend and her mother,” Heidi said as she stood up, removing the short pants she was wearing and pulling on the dark blue sweat pants. “None of your business,” Amy said, “you’ll be joining them soon enough. Hurry up and finish getting dressed.”
Sitting back on the bed, Heidi pulled on the white sports socks, and placed her feet in a pair of trainers lacing them up as she sat there. Finally, she took the matching top to her pants and placed it on her upper body, zipping up the front so that only the top of her t-shirt showed. She was a little frightened, but also a lot excited at what might happen next.
“All right, I’m dressed,” she said as she played the part of the damsel, “Now what?”
“Turn round and put your hands behind your back.”
Heidi turned and crossed her wrists, looking over her shoulder as she watched Amy wrap the rope around her wrists, vertically and horizontally, so that they secured together. She then wrapped the rope around Heidi’s waist, taking it back round so that her wrists were held firmly against her back, and cinching the ropes between her arms and back for further security.
Turning Heidi back round, Amy took a strip of brown sticking plaster and removed the backing paper. “Put your lips together,” she said as she held the strip in front of her daughter.
“You don’t have to gag me,” Heidi said quietly, “I won’t say a word.”
“Can’t take that chance kid - now put your lips together.”
Heidi closed her mouth and stood still as her mother smoothed the plaster over her lips, the tape sticking to and effectively welding her mouth shut as it formed to her jaw line. Satisfied, Amy took Heidi by the arm and walked her out of her room, down the stairs and into the front room.
The blinds were drawn, but she could clearly see Cindy and Dorothy sitting in the room as well. Cindy was wearing a pale pink hooded sweatshirt and jogging pants, while Dorothy had put on a brown and green floral print smock top, a pair of faded jeans and mid-length grey felt boots. Both had their wrists secured in the same way as Heidi, and both had plaster strips over their mouths.
Veronica was standing behind them, dressed as Amy was. She watched as Heidi was made to sit next to Cindy on the couch, before saying “All three of you are coming with us as our hostages. We will feed you, and we will allow you to take comfort breaks, but that is all. Otherwise you will remain secured, and will do as you are told.
“If you need a break, simply grunt three times and you will be helped. Secure their legs, and then prepare them for transport.”
Heidi watched as her mother knelt in front of her, a doubled over length of white rope in her hand, and tied her legs together just above the knees. She had seen Cindy bound in a similar way, as the rope was tied to allow some movement of her legs, just enough to walk slowly, but not too much.
Amy worked her way along, securing the other two, before standing up and picking up three cotton headscarves, folded into wide bands. Starting with Dorothy, she tied one over the eyes of each of the captives, Heidi closing hers as the cotton was tightly secured over her face. She then felt something been pushed into her ears, and the light was cut still further as something was pulled over her head and loosely tied around the neck.
Veronica pulled the stocking off her head and looked at the trio, sat on the couch with black silk hoods placed over their heads. “You go and open the van,” she told Amy, “and I’ll bring mummy along first.”
Dorothy moved her head as she felt herself been lifted onto her feet, and then made to walk, taking small shuffling steps as she did so. The earplugs were dulling any sound she could hear, and the blindfold and hood combined were cutting virtually all light out, as she was walked a short distance and then made to sit on a metal floor. She felt the pressure on her booted ankles as her legs were tied together, and then there was silence for a few minutes, before she sensed rather than heard someone sitting next to her.
As Heidi was helped up, she was trying to accustom herself to this new sensation. She knew she had no control over what was happening, but she also felt curiously safe, knowing it was her own mother who was doing this and not some stranger. As she was sat down, she tried to say “Thank you,” but it only came out as a low mumble, the rope pulling her ankles together before she felt movement starting.
“Are they all right in there,” Amy said as Veronica drove the van onto the road from the driveway of Cindy’s house.
“They’ll be fine - I put the bags in the back with them, and they are strapped in place. Let’s go to my house - Joanne will be waiting for us there.”
Heidi felt the movement stop, and sat for a few moments, wondering what was coming next. She felt her legs been untied at the ankles and knees, before she was stood up and made to walk, dropping a small distance and feeling gravel under her feet followed by hard wood.
There was a growing pressure in her bladder - she had not had a chance to go to the toilet before she was bound, so she tried to grunt three times. She felt rather than heard herself say “NGgg ngg ngg” before she was led a short distance and she felt her pants been pulled down. He was pushed gently on the shoulders, and felt the toilet as she was sat down on it. She sighed into her gag as she felt the pressure ease, before she was wiped and pulled back up, her pants restored before she was walked again.
Once more she felt the pressure on her shoulders, and she sat on something wooden. Heidi felt her leg been drawn against something, and then rope been passed around to secure it into place. This was repeated on the other side, and then she felt her chest been pulled back against a support and rope been tied around it.
She was left alone for a moment, unsure of what was happening, but she could sense further movement in the room. Eventually she felt whatever had been placed over her head been pulled over, and as her ears were cleared she could hear Cindy and Dorothy sighing elsewhere.
“Welcome, ladies,” she heard Veronica saying. “You will remain blindfolded for the duration of your stay, but you will be fed in a little while. Until then, we have some entertainment for you.”
Heidi felt something been placed over her ears, covering them as she sat still. A few moments later, she heard the start of one of her favourite songs by Katy Perry, the music cutting out all other sounds as she sat there.
“What are they listening to,” Joanne said quietly as they looked at the trip lashed into the dining room chairs.
“Katy Perry for Heidi, Kaiser Chiefs for Cindy, and David Cassidy for Dorothy,” Amy whispered with a smile on her face, “I raided their CD collections before we woke them up.” Motioning to Joanne, they closed the door and made their way down the stairs to the kitchen, where Veronica was brewing some coffee.
“Thank you for being here so early,” Veronica said with a smile as the other two sat at the kitchen bar. Handing them a mug of coffee each, she said “When is Natalie getting here?”
Joanne looked at her watch. “Any minute now - she said she had to take care of something first and she had a gymnastics class as well...”
Outside, Natalie sat in her car, looking up at the large house. “Are you all right, Natalie,” she heard her mother saying as she looked at the young girl.
“I’m fine, mum,” she said as she looked at the older woman.
“I know these last few weeks have been a shock for you, but never forget your father and I love you very much, whatever happens.”
“I know, mum,” Natalie said as she reached over and hugged her, “but I need to get going. They will be waiting for me.”
“Of course,” her mother said as Natalie got out of the car, carrying her bag with her. “I’ll see you tomorrow night.”
Natalie waved as the car drove off, before turning and walking up the path. She was wearing the kit she had to wear for her class - a lime green leotard over a black bodysuit, her feet in a pair of black suede boots with buttons on the side and a black track suit jacket over the top. In her bag were several changes of clothing, and some other items she felt she would need.
Ringing the doorbell, she stood back and waited as Veronica opened the door. Natalie looked at her, in her black jumper and leggings, her dark blonde hair falling over her shoulders, and smiled as she said “Welcome, Natalie - thank you for helping us this weekend.”
“Anything for a friend,” she said as she walked in. “Can I have a drink before I get changed?”
“Of course,” Veronica said as she escorted Natalie to the kitchen, her hand on her shoulder. “You know Heidi’s mother and Joanne, of course.”
“Hey Nats,” Joanne said as she watched Natalie take her boots off and walk to the bar in her bare feet. “Ready for an interesting weekend?”
“More than you might think,” she said as she took the glass of squash and drank a little. “So, when do I get to see the trio?”
“In a little while,” Amy said as she sat down. “For now, we need to explain the ground rules. All three are in the same room, but they don’t know that for certain. We keep them blindfolded at all times, and gagged unless they are eating.”
“They have been told by me,” Veronica continued, “to grunt three times if they need to relieve themselves.” As she said this, she pointed to three baby listeners on the table, each labelled with one of the names of the three captives. “They operate on different frequencies, and we can tell who is calling.”
“Ingenious,” Joanne said quietly, “and how do they get fed?”
“We’ll take them food one at a time, ungag and remove the headphones from each one, give them food and drink, then re-tie them in the next position. We’ll take turns with each of them, and we say nothing. Guide their hands, and help them as necessary.”
“Including?” As she said this, Natalie grimaced slightly.
“No - Amy or I will take care of that if needed. So at most two of us upstairs, two of us downstairs.”
“All right,” Joanne said quietly. “What are we going to be doing in the meantime?”
“Oh, I think we can sort something out,” Veronica said with a smile. “Either of you ever play poker?”
“For matches or for money?”
“No gambling, not with Natalie here. No, we do it for something else instead. First, however, we need to prepare the lunch trays fro out three guests - and draw lots to see who gets whom for the first change.”
Heidi was beginning to feel stiff wherever it was she was, and as she wriggled round and listened to Fireworks for the second time she wondered how much longer she was going to be left like this.
The answer came when the sound suddenly ended and she turned her head to the side, listening to see who was there. There was no voice, no words spoken, but instead she felt the rope holding her in place been removed and someone gently pushing her forward.
To her surprise, she felt her wrists and arms been released, and as she was pushed back into the chair she slowly brought her arms round and felt down to her wrists. Rubbing them, she listened for any indication as to who was with her, but there was nothing.
She felt a tugging at the skin around her mouth as the tape was slowly pulled away from her mouth, and some sort of wipe passed over her mouth. “Thank you,” she said quietly as she felt her hands been cupped in front of her, and a mug been placed in them before her hands were guided up and towards her lips.
Realising she was holding a drink of some sort, Heidi cautiously placed the ceramic against her lips, sipping at what she discovered was tomato soup. Taking a large gulp, she allowed the warm liquid to flow down her throat, filling her stomach as her helper kept a hold of the cup with her and wiped her mouth afterwards.
“So what happens now,” Heidi said as the mug was taken from her. By way of answer, she felt a straw been placed against her lips, and as she sucked she tasted the milk in her mouth. She drank deeply, before saying “thanks again” as it was taken away.
“I need to go to the toilet, can I do that?”
She wasn’t expecting a verbal reply, but instead nodded as she felt her legs been released. “Does this mean yes,” she asked, but her reply was the feeling of her wrists been tied together, the rope holding her wrists firmly as if they were cuffed. She then felt some sort of cloth against her lips, and as she opened her mouth she felt something like cotton had been pulled into her mouth, and secured around her cheeks.
She was helped to stand up, and the escorted, walked until she was stopped and she felt her pants been pulled down. “Thnksss.” She mumbled as she was helped to sit down, waiting for the flow to finish before she stood back up and was wiped. Her pants were pulled back up and then she was walked a further short distance, before she felt a wall behind her and she was helped to sit on a wooden floor. She felt her ankles and legs been bound, and then something been placed in her ears again - this time she could hear some sort of theme music as she sat, wondering what was coming next.
“She looks safe enough,” Amy said to Natalie as she stood there with the food tray. “Well done with the feeding.”
“Veronica will take care of Dorothy, then Joanne of Cindy. Hold on one moment.” Amy crept into the room and placed the alarm next to Heidi as she sat on the room floor, the headphones in her ears connected to a DVD player to her side, before coming back out of the room. “Come down with me - we’ll fix our lunch and then we’ll all play a game I used to play with Veronica.”
“All fed, watered and re-secured,” Joanne said as she came in. So, what’s this game you have in mind for us - a form of poker?”
“In a way - first, if you haven’t already taken your shoes off, do so - socks as well.”
Natalie smiled as she swung her bare feet in front of her, watching Amy and Veronica remove their shoes and socks while Joanne unzipped her boots and pulled off her white ankle socks. As they sat round the coffee table, Natalie saw the pack of cards on the table - and the other items arranged there as well.
“Right,” Amy said quietly, “Each of us takes a length of cord and ties our ankles together.” Taking one herself, she leaned forward and quickly lashed her own ankles together, watching the others as they followed suit.
“Now,” she said as the others sat back, “Pick your gag and put it on.” Natalie went first, selecting her own favourite arrangement as she picked up a sponge ball, pushed it into her mouth and smoothed several strips of duct tape over it.
Veronica picked up a folded handkerchief and a blue silk square, pushing the cloth into her mouth before using the square to form a cleave gag. Amy folded a red bandana into a thick band, tied a knot in the middle and gagged herself, her teeth sinking into the knot as she secured the ends under her long hair.
Joanne picked up a red ball gag, said “looks like fun” and opened her mouth, pushing the rubber ball in and strapping it around her head.
Amy picked up a white zip tie, and placing her left hand on her leg she used it to secure her wrist down to her thigh. Nodding to the others, they followed suit, Veronica and Natalie securing their left wrist while Joanne secured her right one. Nodding, Amy picked up the cards and shuffled them with one hand, dealing like a professional croupier five cards to each of them, two face up and three face down.
Veronica looked at her face down cards, selected two and threw them into the middle, Amy dealing the replacements to her. She went round each of them, each trading one or more cards and finishing with herself.
Veronica threw her other three cards up “Prfjks.”
Joanne looked at her hand, and waved her hand over it to show she had nothing. As Natalie looked at her hand, she smiled and said “ssesvrtns.”
Amy nodded, smiled and slowly turned her cards over. “Thrkngs,” she said with a glint in her eye as she looked at the other three.
“Sht,” Veronica said as she looked at the other two. Joanne and Natalie looked at her, wondering what was happening until they saw Amy pick up a long feather duster from the floor. Veronica shrugged and placed her bound ankles on the table, indicating the other two should do so.
“Hbgr,” Natalie said as Amy leaned forward, moving from feet to feet before stopping and applying the feathers to the soles of Joanne’s feet, watching her convulse in muffled laughter as she did so.
Dorothy shifted uneasily as she sat on the floor. She knew she had to do something, but it was actually so relaxing, been there and knowing someone was looking after her.
Eventually she knew she would need to seek relief, so she grunted three times as loud as she could.
In the lounge downstairs, Amy looked at the monitor labelled “Dorothy”, reached for a pair of scissors and cut her wrist from her leg, reaching up and pulling the scarf out of her hair as she did so.
“I guess the game’s over ladies,” she said as she reached down and cut her ankles free, before leaving the scissors next to Joanne. “If you could free yourselves, then we can see about sorting out some dinner for our guests.”
Veronica nodded and watched as he sister left the room, Amy removing the bandana and leaving it on a table as she did so. Cutting her own wrist free, she looked at the other two, nodding as she reached over and cut Joanne’s arms free.
Dorothy gasped as she was sat back down and her ankles re-tied, but to her delight she felt the cloth in her mouth been removed.
“Are the girls here with me,” she said as she heard for the first time the mumbles in the room.
“I’m here, Mum,” she heard Cindy say, and then Heidi saying “Can we talk for a little while now.”
“We’ll allow you some time to talk to each other,” Amy said quietly, “and then we will release you to eat. The blindfolds must stay on at all times however.”
“Thank you,” Dorothy said as she heard Amy leave the room. “So, how are you both coping?”
“Surprisingly well,” Heidi said from some distance. “This was a good idea Cindy - but I wonder what they are going to do with us next.”
“I’m not sure,” Cindy said quietly, “But I do know I feel safe here. Maybe tonight we will all sleep better.”
“I’ve left them to talk to each other,” Amy said as she sat back down in the front room. “Did you order out?”
“The Chinese will be coming soon,” Veronica said, “and I’ll order Pizza for them later.” She picked up her glass and looked at Natalie. “We didn’t get much of a chance to talk last time we met,” Veronica said quietly, “Have you live here long?”
“Most of my life,” Natalie said as she put her glass down, “My family moved here from California when I was a little girl.”
“You spent some time in California a few years ago, didn’t you Veronica,” Amy said as she looked over.
“Yeah - I was a host on a kid’s program up there, but it didn’t pan out and I came home to start my business. Where did you live, Natalie?”
“A place called Wilmington - have you heard of it?”
Veronica sat for a moment before saying “Yeah - but it was a way from where I was living.”
The door bell rang, and Joanne stood up. “I’ll get it,” she said as she went to the door, Natalie watching the whole time.
“Now that was good dim sum.”
As Joanne sat back, the door bell rang again and Natalie stood up.
“That will be the pizzas for the others,” she said as she went to the door, but as she opened the door she was surprised to see not only the pizza delivery boy, but Chloe standing there, a smile on her face as she looked at Natalie.
“Hello, Natalie,” she said as the other girl paid the delivery boy and took the flat packs from him, “I trust you are well.”
“Sure,” Natalie said as the boy walked away, and then said in a low whisper “Do you have something for me?”
Chloe nodded as she came in, Natalie closing the door behind her. “Have I interrupted something?”
“No - I’ll explain in a minute,” she said as they walked into the front room. “Amy, Veronica, this is Chloe Badelaine, a friend from college.”
“Hey Chloe,” Joanne said as she took the boxes from Natalie, “What gives?”
“I have some notes to pass on to Natalie,” Chloe said with a smile, “and her mother said she was here, so I came here.”
“Listen, do you three mind taking care of the guests - Chloe and I need to have a quick chat.”
“Of course,” Amy said as she, Veronica and Joanne headed for the door, “We’ll make sure they’ve eaten and are secured again.”
“Guests?” Chloe watched the others walk out of the room, “What guests?”
“Sit down and I’ll explain...”
“Hmm - good Pizza.”
Heidi took another bite from her slice as she, Cindy and Dorothy sat in a row, Amy watching Heidi, Joanne Cindy and Veronica Dorothy. They had been untied, but the blindfolds were still in place.
“What time is it anyway?”
“Six o’clock,” Veronica said. “We’re going to secure the three of you for a little while, and then we’ll get you ready for bed.”
Dorothy accepted the straw in the cup Veronica was holding and took a long sip. “Is there any chance the three of us can be together for this?
“Every chance - are you ready?”
Heidi and Cindy nodded as their mouths were wiped, and they felt themselves been moved round and sat back down again. They realised there was another person at each of their shoulders but who it was they did not know.
Gently, the three captors moved their arms so that they were linked, Dorothy with one each of the girl’s arms in her and Cindy and Heidi linking their free arms. Veronica handed Amy and Joanne a length of cord, and then said “Time to pray, ladies.”
“So what did you find out?”
Chloe looked at Natalie, before saying “When I checked the records as you asked, two possible names came up. I have investigated further, and I believe I have a name for you, but...”
Natalie looked at her friend. “But what? Who is it, Chloe?”
Without saying anything, Chloe handed Natalie a sheet of paper that she had drawn out of her bag. Natalie unfolded it, looked at it, then at Chloe, saying “You have got to be kidding me...” as she did so.
“I am not certain, but I believe that is the correct person. A shock, no?”
“A shock yes, but... Look, Chloe, thanks for this, and say nothing for now.”
“But of course, but you do realise...”
“I do - and I’m going to do something about it,” Natalie said as she and Chloe stood up. “Thanks - thanks fro everything.”
“I hope I am right,” Chloe said as the two friends embraced, and Natalie showed her to the front door. As she watched Chloe walk to the moped at the end of the drive, she mulled over what Chloe had discovered.
Closing the door, she walked back into the front room and picked up a photo, listening to the sounds upstairs as she did so.
Dorothy mumbled under the wide strip of flesh covered sticking plaster over her mouth as she tried to twist her wrists. It was difficult, given her hands were tied together palm to palm in front of her and then to her ankles. Short lengths of rope secured her arms to the two entwined with them, and she felt the two younger girls were bound in a similar way.
“Until later,” Veronica said as she closed the door, following Amy and Joanne down the staircase and back to the front room.
“Chloe gone already,” Joanne said as she saw Natalie standing there.
“Hmmm - oh yeah, she gave me what I needed,” Natalie said with a smile as she looked at Amy and Veronica coming in. “How are they?”
“Comfortable,” Veronica said as she sat down. “So what do you want to do now?”
“Let’s watch a movie,” Amy said as she switched on the television. “We need to get them ready for bed later anyway. Natalie, what would you like to do later?”
“I have a suggestion, if the three of you are up for it?”
Joanne looked at her friend. “What do you have in mind?” She watched Natalie smile as she said “Just a little game of truth or dare...”
As the film came to an end, Veronica looked at her watch.
“Nine o’clock - we need to start to prepare our guests for bed. Amy, I’m going to need your help for this.”
“Oh,” Joanne said as she looked at the two older women, “and what will we be doing while you get them ready.”
Amy smiled as she said “How would you like to experience a little bit of what they are going through? We’re going to need about an hour to get things sorted anyway. Afterwards, we can all get changed and do truth or dare.”
Natalie looked at Veronica as she said “All right - but I would like Veronica to tie me, if that’s all right.”
“Fair enough,” Veronica said as she stood up. “Both of you kneel down in front of the couch and put your heads down on the cushions.”
Joanne slipped off the couch and knelt down, the hem of her white flared mini skirt rising up as she leaned forward. She crossed her wrists behind her back, the cuffs of her long sleeved blue top going slightly up her arms. Amy knelt behind her and started to bind her wrists together with rope, crossing the cords around and between her arms.
Veronica placed Natalie’s hands together, palm to palm, behind her back and started to tie her wrists together as well. “That’s nice,” Natalie said as she looked over her shoulder, “I feel like I can trust you doing this.”
“That’s good,” Veronica said as she passed a second length of rope around her arms, and pulled them together just below her elbows, the rope visible over her black sleeves. “I can tell you do gymnastics,” Veronica said as she brought Natalie’s elbows together, her shoulder blades coming back as she did so. “Anybody else in your family this flexible?”
“No,” Natalie said with a sigh as she felt her chest been forced out, “My older brother is a football guy, or would be if he was not overseas.”
“Marines - oooo,” Natalie said as she felt her arms been pulled into her side, the rope going over her green leotard as they encircled and enhanced her chest. She sighed and looked over at Joanne, whose arms were been lashed to her side by Amy. Her elbows had not been bound, but Amy had crossed the ropes around and between her breasts so that they were forced up against her top.
“Time for silence,” Veronica said as she held a sponge ball in front of Natalie’s mouth. As she felt the material inside her mouth, Natalie was thinking over the next few hours, and what might come next, but she kept silent, closing her lips as Veronica placed a strip of duct tape over her mouth.
“Thnku,” she said as Veronica helped her to lie of the floor next to Joanne, whose legs were been bound by Amy over her leggings. Natalie relaxed as she felt her legs been pulled together below her knees, and then the tension as they were pulled back and her ankles were fixed to her chest ropes in a hog tie.
She looked over at Joanne, who was smiling over the scarf that had been pulled between her lips to hold the cloth in her own mouth. That view was soon blocked, however, as a black sleep mask was placed over her eyes and she felt something been pushed into her ears.
“Have fun,” she dimly heard Veronica say as she patted her on the back and walked away. Natalie lay still, enjoying the silence and thinking over in her mind how she would approach the game later.....
Heidi raised her head as she felt her legs been untied, and the ropes holding her to the other two been released. As her arms were released, she heard Cindy grunt as her arms were carefully fed through those of her friend and Dorothy, and she was helped to stand up, walking a short distance with someone holding her arms on both sides.
Her feet could feel the carpet beneath her, but when it changed to what felt like cold linoleum she wondered what was going to happen next. There was a tugging at the skin around her mouth as the tape covering it was pulled away.
“In a minute,” she heard Veronica say, “you will hear a door close, and you may remove the blindfold. You are in the bathroom, and you will see on the box some nightclothes and a sleep mask.
“Change, shower, do what you need to do to clean yourself up and then out on the nightclothes. When you are ready, put the sleep mask on over your eyes, and then call out ‘Ready’. We will take care of you from there.”
Heidi stood quietly, waiting until she heard the clock of the door, then reached up and removed the scarf from over her eyes. She looked at her clothes, which were sweaty and showed where ropes had been tied round them, and then at herself in the mirror. She was tired, that was obvious, but she also looked more relaxed, a bit happier than she had felt in weeks.
On the box she saw a clean pair of white cotton pyjamas and a white satin sleep mask with a frilled edge. Smiling, she started to strip out of the sweat pants and jacket, turning the water on for the shower as she did so.
Fifteen minutes later, Heidi looked at her clean face in the mirror, as she buttoned the front of the pyjama top. Smiling, she took the sleep mask and placed it over her eyes, before calling out “Ready!”
She heard the door open and felt her arms been guided behind her back, before something soft and smooth was passed around her wrist and she felt them been bound together again. She was gently taken by the arm and walked a short distance again, before she was stopped.
“Open your mouth,” she heard, and she felt a band of something like satin been pulled into her mouth, forcing her tongue down as it pulled the corners back. Feeling it been secured, she was helped to lie down on what she presumed was a mattress, before her ankles and legs were secured in a similar way to her wrists.
She heard footsteps leaving, and as she lay she could hear someone else been taken to the bathroom and the sound of the shower running again. Feeling with her fingers, Heidi could tell from the touch of the material that it was some sort of scarf around her wrists, but not which one. She lay still on her side, waiting to hear who was likely to be coming next.
Natalie blinked as the sleep mask was removed and she saw Veronica methodically removing the ropes that were binding her.
“I’m afraid so,” she said quietly as Amy came in and started to untie Joanne. “We’ve put our guests to bed, and we think you and Joanne might like to go and change first.”
“There’s plenty of hot water,” Amy said as she looked over, “and you can look in on the three of them if you want.”
“Sndsgd,” Natalie said as she stretched her legs out and looked over her shoulder, watching as her arms were freed. Eventually she turned round and sat up, removing the tape and spitting out the ball. “I’ll be back in a few minutes,” she said as she stood up and picked up her bag, waiting for Joanne to be released before the two girls made their way upstairs.
They quietly opened the door to a room and looked in to see Heidi and Cindy lying on cots beds, their hands tied behind their backs with white silk scarves, and their ankles and legs held together with dark blue ones. Dorothy was on the bed, long scarves around her arms and holding her ankles to her wrists in addition to the ones like the two younger girls. All three had patterned silk scarves pulled into their moths, and white sleep masks over their eyes. Joanne could hear the sound of gentle breathing from all three.
“Let them rest,” she said as she closed the door, “We can go and get changed.”
Natalie walked into the room, dressed in her favourite pink vet top and shorts, followed by Joanne in a pair of black silk pyjamas. “Have a drink, girls,” Veronica said as she left the room, “We’ll be back in just a minute.”
“She’s quite a woman, isn’t she,” Joanne said as she grabbed a bottle of coke and sat down.
“Veronica Cabot - child star successful business owner, and she really cares about Heidi and her friends. Wonder why she never married?”
Natalie said nothing as she sat down. “Maybe we can ask her later,” she eventually said, “once they have returned. Truth or dare - remember?”
“You seem awfully determined to play this game, Nats - are you sure you can take whatever they dish out?”
As Joanne said this, Amy walked in, dressed in a sleeveless white nightdress with spaghetti straps over the shoulders, and a pair of thick white bed socks. She was followed a few minutes later by Veronica, wearing a pair of red pyjamas with white polka dots.
“All right,” Amy said as she placed a tray of glasses on the coffee table, “Let’s make a start. We’ll spin the bottle on the floor in turns, whoever it points to gets to go for truth or dare, agreed?”
The other three nodded as Amy put the Coke bottle on the floor, and started it spinning on the side. They watched as it eventually came to a rest pointing at Joanne.
“Fair enough,” she said as she looked at Amy, “Truth.”
“Joanne,” Amy said with the sweetest of smiles, “what is the sexiest thing you have ever had done to you?”
Joanne sat for a moment, before saying “Been tied face to face with Alexa a few weeks ago, been able to look in her face, and the way our gagged lips touched...”
“Hang on,” Amy said, “I thought Alexa had a boyfriend?”
“Had is the mot juste,” Joanne said with a smile, “She’s actually bi, but now she’s mine.”
“I wondered about that,” Natalie said as she sat back. “All right, your turn to spin the bottle.”
Joanne leaned over and span the bottle round, the neck finally coming to a rest in front of Veronica.
“Dare,” she said without a moment’s hesitation.
“I dare you,” Joanne said quietly, “To let Natalie tie you up any way she wants to.”
“Done,” Veronica said as she smiled at Natalie. “I’ve heard you’re good at this, so let’s see what you can do.”
Natalie slowly got to her feet, and as she selected a length of rope from the pile on the floor she had to stop her hands from trembling. She knelt behind Veronica, and moved her hands behind her back so that her wrists were crossed. Wrapping the rope around them over the cuffs of her pyjama top, she pulled the rope tight and wrapped it around and between them, securing them as tightly as she could.
“That’s tight,” Veronica said a she looked over her shoulder, watching Natalie as she passed a second length up her arms and pulled them together so that her elbows touched. Letting out a small gasp, she felt her arms been forced together and bound in place.
Natalie walked round and knelt at Veronica’s feet, saying “Do you want to spin the bottle with your toes before I bind your ankles together?”
Nodding, Veronica reached over and sent the glass bottle into a clockwise spin, then allowed Natalie to bind her ankles and legs together, the rope showing clearly over her red pants. As the bottle stopped and pointed at Amy, she said “Give me a moment until Natalie finishes here,” watching as she ran a rope between her knees, then took it up and round her arms to bind them tightly into her side.
“I really am going nowhere,” she said with a smile as she tried twisting her arms round. “Right, Amy, what is it to be?”
“Truthfully, Amy, how did you feel when we were all been held captive?”
Joanne and Natalie looked at the dark cloud that seemed to pass over Amy’s face at Veronica’s question. Eventually, she said “I felt anger, fear, concern - but most of all I was proud of how Heidi and - well all of you reacted. You were there the longest though - how did you feel when you saw us been brought in?”
“I was more concerned for Heidi, if truth be told,” Veronica said as the others looked at her. “He - and I still can’t believe it was him - he had no right to do that to any of us, but especially to those three upstairs.”
“You make that sound as if you deserved to be kidnapped as well,” Joanne said as she picked up a glass and took a drink.
“No - no we didn’t, but if it had just been Amy and I it might have been...”
“Easier to deal with?” Veronica looked at Amy and nodded, a tear starting to form in her eye as Amy came over and embraced her.
“It’s all right,” Joanne said as she touched Natalie on the arm, “Let them have their moment.”
After a few moments, Amy let go of Veronica, saying “I guess we both needed to air a few thing as well,” as she sat back down and spun the bottle round. As it pointed at Natalie, Amy said “Truth or dare, Natalie?”
Amy picked up a sponge ball and the roll of tape, saying “I dare you to sing the song of your choice while tightly gagged.”
“Challenge - accepted,” Natalie said as she took the ball and stuck it in her mouth, then stuck lengths of tape over before she began to sing, quietly, to the other three.
Dys lktswnt tdrfwy
The others watched as she completed the Katy Perry song, before applauding as she peeled away the tape, spun the bottle and watched it stop in front of Joanne.
“All right, Dare this time.”
“I dare you to let Amy bind your arms in a box behind your back.”
“No problem,” Joanne said as she looked at Amy. The older woman smiled as she picked up some shorter lengths of rope and went behind Joanne, arranging her hands in a box fashion as she started the bottle spinning with her feet. As she felt the ropes binding her wrists to her elbows, she said “Truth or dare, Veronica” as the bottle stopped in front of her.
“How did a child actress become a successful business woman? Most of them seem to fade into obscurity?”
“Well,” Veronica said as she twisted her body round, “As I said earlier, I was working as kid’s show host in California, but I soon realised that the warm Ocean air was not the best for me. I missed the colder air of this area, I guess.
“Anyway, I moved back here after my father died. He had left both Amy and I a small nest egg, and I was lucky enough to get into the real estate business when it was still a small business. It proved to be a success, and I found I was good at it, so I stayed.
“I’d lost touch with Amy, but we made contact. She was married by then, and Heidi was - what, six months old?”
“Something like that,” Amy said as she tugged a short length of rope between Joanne’s forearms. “You dropped me a line, and we sort of kept in touch, but not too much. Then Heidi found out about you, and...”
“And the rest is history,” Veronica said as she managed to spin the bottle, watching as it stopped in front of Natalie. Natalie looked at the bottle, then at Veronica as she said “Truth.”
“Tell us,” Veronica said with a smile, “something that nobody else knows about you.”
“WHHHAAATTTTTT,” Joanne said in a fair imitation of Chris Griffin from Family Guy. “When did you find out?”
“A few weeks ago - I guess now I’m eighteen my parents felt I had a right to know. My brother knew - he’s adopted as well - but had agreed not to say anything. I’ll thank him for that next time I see him.”
“and you’re comfortable with that?”
Natalie looked over at Amy. “I was surprised at first, but they’re my parents, and I love them for all they gave me.” She took the bottle and spun it, smiling as it stopped in front of Amy.
“I dare you to tickle veronica until she can’t take any more.”
“OH no - no you dodnmmfdmmgmdsfmmdfmdfshhahhhhhhhahaaaaaaa,” Veronica said as Amy started to tickle the soles of her feet, moving up under her legs and then around her waist as her fingers tickled her half-sister remorselessly. The torture seemed to go on forever, but it was only ten minutes before Veronica finally called out “ENOUGH!!! YOU WIN!!!!!”
Amy sat down, allowing Veronica to try and gather herself before she spun the bottle round with her feet, watching it as it stopped in front of her again. “Oh come on, Amy, you can’t challenge me again. Natalie - you do it this time.”
“All right, Veronica,” she said as she tried to calm herself down, “Truth or dare?”
“I can’t take another dare - truth.”
Amy and Joanne watched as Natalie stood up and walked to where her shoulder bag was sitting and she drew out an envelope. Walking back, she knelt next to Veronica and said “Did you ever spend any time in Wilmington while you were in California?”
Veronica looked at the blonde haired young woman for a moment, before saying “I probably did visit the town once or twice - why do you ask?”
Natalie took a letter out of the envelope and showed it to Veronica. Amy watched as her half sister’s eyes scanned the letter, widening as she did so, before the colour seemed to drain from her face for a moment. “Veronica, are you all right,” Amy asked as Veronica looked again at Natalie, as if she was seeing her for the first time.
“OH god,” she said quietly, “It can’t be...”
“Natalie, what did you show Veronica,” Amy said, but the reply surprised her as Natalie handed her the letter. “I said I was adopted,” Natalie said quietly, “and Chloe has been looking into the records to see if she could trace my natural mother.”
“And,” Joanne said as she saw Amy looking closely at the letter.
“Veronica, are you my natural mother?”
Joanne looked at Natalie, then Veronica, then Amy as she put the letter down and looked at her half sister. Veronica swallowed as she looked at Natalie, kneeling next to her, and said one short word.
“Veronica,” Amy said quietly as she looked at her sister, “I think we had all better get ourselves sorted out and sit down to have a chat. Natalie, will you please release Joanne, while I take care of Veronica? After that, I’ll go and make some coffee - I think we all need some.”
Nodding, Natalie stood up and walked behind Joanne, removing the ropes around her arms as Amy unfastened those that had been tied around her sister. As she found her arms loose, Veronica hugged herself, looking at the two younger girls as Joanne rubbed her arms.
“I get the feeling that you three need to be alone,” she said as she stood up, but Natalie put her hand on Joanne’s shoulder and said “No - please, Joanne, I need someone around my age here just now.”
“Are you telling me that Heidi’s aunt is your real mother - that Heidi is your cousin? How did you come to that conclusion?”
“Read the letter,” Veronica said as she slowly got to her feet and sat on the couch, holding herself the whole time. Joanne picked up the letter and looked at the release for adoption form, with the name of Veronica Cabot clearly typed out and a signature underneath.
“I’m sorry if I’ve shocked you,” Natalie said as she sat opposite Veronica, “but when I asked Chloe to do a computer search and see if she could uncover the adoption records from Wilmington, the absolute last thing I expected to find was that the name would be one I know.”
Veronica looked up; her eyes red as she stared back at Natalie. “I... I’m not shocked at the way you told me, Natalie - it’s just that I’d managed to put the period so far out of my mind, that your youthfully blunt asking brought it all back in a flood.” She looked at the young blonde haired girl sitting there. “You must think I’m a terrible person to abandon you like that.”
“I don’t think that,” Natalie said as Amy brought a tray of mugs in and sat next to Veronica, “I just need to know who my mother really was, and why she did what she did.”
“I can understand that,” Amy said as she handed Veronica a mug with steam rising from the top, “but you picked one hell of a way of doing it. Veronica, are you all right?”
Amy watched her sister nod as Joanne said “So, let me get this straight - you were adopted, and Veronica Cabot is your real mother? Does Heidi know about this?”
“Joanne, I didn’t even know about this,” Amy said quietly. There was no anger or malice in her voice, as she turned to Veronica and said “What happened, Vicki - why did you never tell me?”
“God’s honest truth, I never thought the need would arise,” Veronica said quietly. “I was - well, let me start at the beginning.
“I said I was working in California as a host on a kid’s programme. There were a group of us on the show who liked to get together, and - well, do what we’re doing now. Have a few drinks, play some games, and have fun.
“Anyway, one day we had a new member of our group - the younger brother of one of the production assistants. He was about the same age as me, and wanted to see what sort of ‘kinky s**t’ his sister was getting up to. This particular evening there were three of us - me, the sister and another woman in her thirties - who were going to be the victim of a home invasion.”
Veronica pushed herself back in the chair and put her hands to her face, rubbing them down as she looked up to the ceiling. “Anyway, we started to play the game - my co-host and his friend were the burglars, and this kid was watching from the side.”
“Weren’t you afraid they would attack you?”
Veronica looked at Joanne. “We were perfectly safe - those two were a real couple. Anyway, we were wearing street clothes - I had on a pair of denim bib shorts and a white blouse, this girl a summer dress and the older one a blouse and skirt.
“They made all three of us lie on the floor, and very carefully and methodically hogtied all three of us, then stuffed clothes into our mouths and taped them over. We then started to roll round and try to free each other, as the three men watched. As I said, I knew I was safe with my two show friends, but I wasn’t paying that much attention to the young man sitting quietly in the corner.”
“Oh god,” Amy said as she touched Veronica’s hand, “He didn’t...”
“No - not like that anyway. Eventually we freed ourselves, all agreed we had enjoyed it, and we opened a couple of bottles of wine. For whatever reason, I drank a little more than I usually would have, and started to have a nice, friendly chat with the young guy.
“One thing led to another, and eventually I led him to my bedroom. I guess I needed a bit more than just tie-up games that night, and as we stood there kissing I must have realised he felt the same way. The one thing I remember most clearly of that night was the softness of his touch as he stripped me, and the strength of his embrace.”
Veronica stopped and looked at Natalie. “I realise this must sound awful to you, Natalie, but I genuinely think for that little time we were in love with each other, and out of that night - well, out of that night came you.” She watched as Natalie lowered her head for a moment, before asking “When did you find out?”
“About three months later - by that time he had joined up and was posted overseas, and I had completely lost touch with him. When the doctor told me, I almost broke down and panicked - I was in no position to bring up a baby at that time, and I had the feeling his family were not going to be much help.”
“What makes you say that?”
“When his sister found out, to her credit she took me aside and was totally, maybe even brutally honest with me. She came from a strict religious upbringing, and if her parents found out there was every possibility they would do all they could to marry us off, or else to adopt the child as their own.” Veronica turned and looked at Amy. “I knew I could not live with a child of mine been brought up in that way, but equally I did not want to be burden to my own family. Heidi was on her way, and you were having your own problems with that ex-husband of yours.
“So, I quit the show, and moved to the town of Wilmington, where I found a doctor and eventually gave birth to this wonderful, beautiful baby girl. There was only one other person who knew what had happened.”
“Who,” Joanne said, unable to stop herself.
“Mum,” Amy said quietly. “Just after Heidi was born, she went on a road trip for a couple of months - at the time, she said it was to look after Great Aunt Myrtle, but she must have gone to help you. Right?”
Veronica nodded. “I called her a week before the due date and told her everything. Once she got over the chock, she came and stayed with me. I remember the look on her face as she looked into the blue eyed baby. ‘I guess I have two grandkids somewhere in the world,’” she said quietly as I put her down, and then we hugged, because we had already decided what we were going to do.”
Veronica looked again at Natalie as Joanne out her arms round the young girl. “I had no choice - there was no money, and I wanted to make sure you had the very best. The hospital put us in touch with an adoption agency in Wilmington, and my mother checked everything to make sure it was all above board. Three days after the birth, I wrapped her in a pink blanket, signed the forms and handed her over to the nurse, waving as she... As you were carried out.
“Natalie, I know you have no right to think anything of me, but please, at least forgive me for never trying to find you. The pain and hurt I felt that day - it nearly drove me mad, and I never ever wanted to feel that again. A week or so later, I came back here and started my business, hoping and praying you were safe wherever you were.”
Natalie sat there, saying nothing for a few minutes, before standing up and walking over to the couch, kneeling in front of Veronica as she looked into the tear filled eyes. “I don’t hate you, or think wrongly of you,” she said quietly, “and I could not have wished for a more loving and caring set of parents.
“When I got the letter, I so desperately wanted to know if I could find my mother that Chloe agreed to help me out. I didn’t even know if she could - Wilmington is the other side of the country, and I’ve lived here since I was five years old. The agency never told mum and dad where I had come from originally - I guess that was the policy at the time - but Chloe is very, very good at what she does.
“When she showed me that letter, tonight, I did not know what to think. My natural mother had lived nearby all these years, and I did not know?”
“To be fair, Natalie,” Amy said with a small smile, “It’s only in the last couple of years that Heidi has got to know Veronica. Having said that, you can understand that this is a bit of a shock - Veronica, what are you thinking?”
Her sister looked at her, and then at Natalie, before saying slowly “I’m glad you’ve got a loving family, Natalie - can you find it in your heart to forgive me?”
Natalie said nothing, but instead out her arms round Veronica’s neck and hugged her, saying “I’m the luckiest girl in the world - I’ve got two mums now.”
Veronica embraced Natalie, the two girls sobbing as Amy stood up and took Joanne by the arm. “I think,” she said as they walked out of the room, “We should leave them alone for now. Why don’t we take the first few hours of listening to the monitors - I’ll wake you up later.”
Heidi groaned slightly as she started to come to, feeling the soft band around her wrists been removed.
“We will have you ready to move in a few minutes,” she heard her mother say, “and then we repeat what you did last night. You will see fresh clothing waiting for you.”
“What time is it,” she mumbled as the cloth was removed from her mouth.
“It is nearly noon,” her mother said as she was helped to her feet, “We wanted you to get all the sleep you needed.”
“Did I miss much?”
Her mother said nothing as Heidi was escorted back to the bathroom, and to her morning routine.
Heidi stood on the bathroom floor, dressed in a short sleeved blue denim dress with a thin brown leather belt around her waist, knee length white socks and slippers. She had taken the dark blue scarf and tied it over her eyes as instructed, and an empty plate and glass were sitting on the stool.
The door opened and she felt her hands been pulled behind her back, as what she presumed was rope was passed around her wrists, pulling them together as the binding went round and between them.
“What’s going to happen now,” she said quietly as she felt her arms been pulled into her side.
“You are the last one to be woken,” Amy said as Heidi felt the rope going under her arms, “I will take you to the others, and you can listen to the radio for a while. The ransom negotiations are going well, so I don’t think you will be with us much longer. Now, open wide.”
Heidi felt something like a sponge was pushed into her mouth, and as she was turned round she recognised the feel of microprobe tape as it was smoothed over her lips and jaw. As she was led out by the arm, she was feeling more relaxed, more refreshed than she had felt in weeks. The short walk ended as she was helped to lie on the floor, and then turned over as her ankles were crossed.
“Thtuhedde,” she heard Cindy mumble.
“Yssss - hwrruu,” she replied as her ankles were pulled together, and then her legs pulled up.
“Wrffn,” she heard Dorothy reply, “sssfnisnntt?”
Heidi nodded her head as she felt the ropes around her arms been pulled back. “Now, lunch will be served later,” Amy said, “So just relax.”
As she stood in the doorway, she looked the three captives, lying on the floor with their heads facing each other, but their eyes blindfolded. Cindy and Dorothy were dressed in their Sunday clothes - Cindy in a paisley patterned pinafore dress over a white jumper, which came to just above her knees, and dark socks, and Dorothy in a floor length brown skirt with white lace trim and one of her white high collared blouses.
All three had their wrists crossed and tied behind their backs, and ropes holding their arms firmly into their sides. Their ankles were pulled back and attached to the chest ropes, which made Dorothy’s skirt fall down slightly to expose her tights.
Closing the door, Amy walked down to the kitchen where Joanne was drinking some coffee.
“All done,” she said as she looked up.
“Yeah,” Amy said as she sat down, “any signs of the others yet?”
“I’ve seen Nats - she’s getting changed, and I think I heard Veronica walking about. Any idea when they got to bed?”
“Late - that’s all I know, but I think they sat up talking for quite some time.”
Joanne looked at Amy as she picked up her mug. “This must have come as a surprise to you as well.”
“That,” Amy said as she put her mug to her lips, “is the understatement of the decade. I never knew a thing about this - although it does beg one question.”
“Is it nature or nurture that makes us like these games - or both?”
“I’ve no idea,” Veronica said as she walked into the kitchen, picking up the coffee pot and pouring herself a cup, “but it’s a new experience.”
“How are you this morning?”
Veronica looked at Amy, in her red blouse and black denim jeans, and Joanne in her shorts and t-shirt, before saying “Relieved, if you want the truth. I’ve had to carry this burden all these years, and now - well, now we need to decide who to tell next.”
“Do you want Heidi to know?”
“That’s up to Natalie,” Veronica said as she sat down. “We still have a lot to talk about.”
Natalie walked into the room, stretching her arms up as she did so. She was wearing a flowing knee length skirt and white jumper, with a rope bracelet around her bare ankle and wrist. “So,” Amy said as she watched the girl pour herself an orange juice, “Do I have to start calling you my niece now”?
“I’d prefer Natalie, thank you,” she said as she sat down, looking at Veronica. She was also wearing a skirt and jumper, although in her case it was a brown jumper and black skirt. “I’m sorry things took such a dramatic turn last night.”
“Don’t be,” Joanne said as she looked at the pair. “In fact, Amy and I think you need to spend some more quality time together bonding.”
“Finish your drinks,” Amy said as she stood up, “and come into the living room.”
As Veronica and Natalie walked into the room, they saw Joanne waiting, a length of soft cord in her hand, and Amy sitting on the couch.
“Why don’t you take a seat, Veronica,” she said as she indicated an armchair, “and put your hands behind your back.”
“As for you, Natalie,” Joanne said, “Lie face down on the floor and put your head on that pillow, then put your hands behind your back as well.”
“Great - now I know what you meant,” Veronica said as she sat herself down, looking over her shoulder as Amy crossed her wrist behind her back and started to bind them together. As she did this, Joanne arranged Natalie’s hands behind her back, palm to palm, and started by pulling her arms together just below her elbows, making them touch as she passed the rope round and between them.
“Oh, this is nice,” Natalie said as she felt her shoulders been pulled back, and then her wrists been forced together with the rope, as Amy passed a long length over Veronica’s head and pulled her arms tightly into her side below her breasts.
As the rope went round the older woman’s arms and body, she watched Natalie as Joanne helped her to sit up and passed some rope round her waist, pinning her wrists into the small of her back, and then her own upper body, so that her chest was forced even more up and out. As she looked into Natalie’s eyes, she realised that she was been looked at as well, and burst out laughing as she said “I guess we really are alike, aren’t we”?
“Less talk,” Amy said as she showed Veronica a folded scarf, “and more silence. Open the mouth.”
“Talk to you later kid,” she said to Natalie as she allowed her sister to push the cloth in, and then seal her mouth with the white medical tape she had used earlier.
“Sure thing, mum,” Natalie said with a smile as Joanne tied off the chest ropes, and then pushed a cloth into her friend’s mouth, catching the tape as Amy threw it over and sealing Natalie’s lips with a long, wide strip.
Helping Natalie to lie down again, Joanne wrapped rope around her ankles, pulling them together as she secured them side by side, and then bound her legs below her knees. Amy performed the same operation on Veronica, before making her sit across the seat and running a length of rope from her ankles to her wrists.
Natalie was rolled over onto her stomach, and nodded as her legs were pulled back, her ankles attached to her chest ropes in a hog tie.
“Now,” Amy said as she produced two sleep masks, “We’re going to blindfold you, and see who can rescue who first.” She slipped the red one over Veronica’s eyes, as Joanne blindfolded Natalie with the black one.
“You stay here and watch them,” Amy said as Natalie started to wriggle round on the floor, “I need to take some things upstairs.”
Cindy blinked as the blindfold was taken off her eyes. As she allowed them to adjust to the sudden light, she saw Heidi looking at her, lying on her stomach with her lips visible under the white tape, and moving her head to the side she saw her mother lying there.
“Lunch is on the table,” she heard Amy say from behind her, “but to eat it, you need to get free. Have fun.” The door closed and she heard a lock turn as she looked at the other two, wondering who was going to make the first move.
The three lay there for a short while, allowing their eyes to adjust to the sunlight streaming through the window, before Cindy and Dorothy looked at each other.
Dorothy rolled herself onto her back, managing to sit herself up as she shuffled over to a position next to Heidi’s back. Looking over her shoulders, she started to pick at the knot against Heidi's back with her fingers, as Cindy moved herself forward on her stomach and moved to lie next to the young girl.
“Fnthnks - whthpopnsnw- ahhhhh.”
As Dorothy managed to pick the rope loose, Heidi allowed her legs to drop to the floor. “Nwwuwt,” Cindy said as she pushed herself back down, rolling onto her side as her fingers reached for the rope around Heidi’s ankles, while Dorothy started to work on the lengths around her wrists.
Veronica grunted as she fell onto the floor, shuffling blindly forward on her bottom until she bumped into somebody lying on the floor.
Feeling with her fingers, she slowly made her way down under she could feel a length of elastic over hair. Lifting the band gently up, she felt somebody move underneath and said “Cnussnw.”
Natalie blinked and looked over to see Veronica sitting there, the sleep mask dangling from her hand. Looking to the other side, she saw Joanne idly flicking through a magazine, not paying much attention to her.
“Mgngntprmmmthnurfngrs,” Natalie said as she pushed herself slightly down, moving her head until Veronica could feel the edge of the tape with her fingers. Slowly, carefully, she started to rub at the side, easing the adhesive pad away from the younger girl’s skin.
Eventually she felt the tape start to give way, and twisted her head as Veronica held on tight, easing the tape gag off and spitting the cloth out of her mouth. “Thanks, mu - Veronica,” she said as she looked at the ropes behind the older woman’s back. “Just sit still and I’ll use my teeth to start to pick this apart.”
“Well, hello sleepyhead - nice to see you again.”
“Ha, ha - very funny, Cindy. Are you sure you don’t want me to leave you like this while your mother and I eat?”
Cindy laughed as Dorothy knelt next to her and untied her arms, helping her to sit up as she brought her arms round and rubbed her wrists. “As it is, we didn’t wake up much before you.”
“She’s right,” Dorothy said as she untied eh rankles, “I think last night we all had the best night’s sleep for weeks. I can’t remember the last time I felt so refreshed.”
“Or so unafraid,” Heidi said as she walked over to the table and picked up a sandwich. “I don’t know how much longer this is going to last, but I’ve loved every second of it.”
“Any idea who’s been watching over us?”
“Mum and Aunt Veronica for certain, but I can’t help thinking there was someone else there as well. We were taken to the bathroom one by one right?”
Dorothy nodded. “Yes - but there was someone in the room with me the whole time as well, so there must be at least one other person. I wonder who they roped - sorry, got to help them.”
“Whatever,” Cindy said as she pushed a straw into a juice carton and took a long sip, “It’s been the best possible time we could have had. I don’t really want it to end, but there’s school tomorrow, right?”
“And I have work so it has to end at some point.” Dorothy unscrewed the top from the bottle of iced tea and took a long drink. “Wonder how long we have anyway?”
“Who cares - let’s just eat for the moment.”
“Wmmghphew - that’s better.”
Veronica sighed as she peeled the tape away from her mouth and spat out the saliva soaked cloth into her hand. A pile of ropes lay next to her on the floor as she turned and hugged Natalie, the younger girl returning the embrace.
“Well, it took you a little while,” Amy said as she walked into the room. “Nice article, Joanne?”
“Interesting,” Joanne said as she put the magazine down, “but I’ve been keeping an eye on them as well. What time is it?”
“Nearly two thirty - and we have a decision to make. Do we end their group therapy now, or carry it on?”
The four listened to the conversation on the baby monitors.
“I think we end it now,” Joanne said as she stood up, “but I think you let me and Natalie be the ones to tell them that.
“Oh - why?”
“Because,” Joanne said as she picked up a roll of duct tape, “neither of you are going to be in a position to argue with us...”
Heidi, Cindy and Dorothy put their drinks down as they heard the key in the door turn.
“Well,” Dorothy said as she stood up, “I guess we’re going to... Joanne?”
“Natalie,” Cindy said as the two girls walked into the room, “What’s going on here?”
“A rescue is what’s going on,” Joanne said as she held the door open, “Sorry it took so long, but we had to track down where those tow had taken you first. Come with us - I’ve got transport waiting outside.”
“Thank god,” Heidi said as she played along, “Just get us out of here, OK?”
“Come on then,” Natalie said as the trio left the room, “I’m not sure how long the tape is going to hold your kidnappers in place.
She led them down the staircase, and opened the door to show Veronica and Amy sitting on the floor with their backs to the couch. Their arms were pinned behind their back, and the group could see the tape around their ankles and legs. Strips covered their mouths and eyes as they shuffled from side to side.
“This way,” Joanne whispered as they made their way into the kitchen, Natalie closing the door behind them.
“Congratulations,” Natalie said as she sat at the breakfast bar, “You have successfully escaped the evil kidnappers, and they have been brought to justice. We propose a celebratory meal - which we’ll order in due course, once Amy and Veronica have freed themselves.”
“You two - you two have been here the whole time, haven’t you?”
Joanne nodded in answer to Heidi’s question. “Yup - and it’s been a very interesting weekend. Cindy, I didn’t think your idea would work, but by all account sit has been a brilliant success.”
“It was a good idea, wasn’t it,” Dorothy said as she hugged her daughter. “I, however, am desperate for a coffee. Why don’t you put the filter machine, Joanne?”
“So, Nats,” Cindy said as she, Heidi and Natalie sat at the bar, “Interesting weekend?”
“I learned a few things,” Natalie said as she watched Amy and Veronica walk in. “I’ll tell you about them later.”
“Pour some of that for us as well when it’s made,” Amy said as she hugged her daughter. “I’m glad you feel better now, Heidi - no more bad dreams?”
“I hope not - but what’s happened? Why did you ask Joanne and Natalie to help?”
“We trust them,” Veronica said as she accepted a cup, “Natalie, you’ll talk to Chloe?”
“She won’t say anything,” Natalie replied with a smile.
“Chloe? Will somebody please tell us what happened?”
“.... So we ended up keeping each other occupied for most of the night.”
The group laughed as Veronica sat back, the remnants of the take away food lying on the floor.
“I’ll get the cleaner to sort this out in the morning,” Veronica said with a yawn as she heard the doorbell ring. Standing up, she walked out of the room for a moment, returning with Suzanne.
“Hi mom,” Joanne said as she stood up, “I’ll go and get my bags.”
“How are you feeling, Dorothy,” Suzanne said as she watched Joanne leave the room, “I haven’t seen you since the kidnapping.”
“I feel a lot better now, thanks,” Dorothy said as she stood up, “but we need to get home. Amy, I’ll drop Heidi’s bag off in the morning.”
“See you at school tomorrow,” Cindy said as she hugged Heidi and Natalie.
“No problem - and pleasant dreams,” Heidi said as Cindy headed for the door with Dorothy. She turned and waved as they left, while Veronica stood up and closed the door behind them. She looked at Natalie, who nodded as she sat in the chair.
“Heidi,” Amy said as she came back into the room and sat down, “Before we go and drop Natalie off, there’s something we need to tell you.”
“Oh,” Heidi said as she looked at the other three, “What?”
“Well,” Veronica said as she sat forwards, “I need to tell you a story of something that happened when you were born...”
Half an hour later, Heidi looked silently at her mother, her aunt and Natalie, before standing up and walking over to her friend. She put her arms round her, saying “Welcome to the family,” as she did so, “I’ve gained a cousin as well as some closure this weekend.”
“Thanks,” Natalie said as a tear rand own her cheek, “Thanks, Heidi.”
“We don’t want you to tell anyone at school,” Veronica said quietly, “That’s up to Natalie as to when or if you tell anyone else, but you had a right to know.”
“You two do look a bit alike,” Heidi said as she let go of Natalie, “but she’s got the brighter eyes.”
“And where have you been all weekend? We want to hear all about Friday night!”
Jannifer and Alice grabbed Heidi as she walked into the dining hall, sitting either side of her as she put her tray on the table.
“Dave? Oh he was fun - we went to Pizza Place, then to the movies, and then...”
She paused as Cindy walked over and sat next to her. “And then?”
“And then Jannifer, he took me to Cindy’s place and left me there, the perfect gentleman.”
Alice sighed as she put her chin in her hands. “I wish someone would do that for me,” she said quietly. “So, how did the rest of your weekend go?”
“It was - interesting,” Heidi said as she looked at Cindy. “Very interesting indeed.” She looked up and waved at Natalie, who was sitting at a table with Chloe, deep in conversation.
“That sounded cryptic - tell us more.”
“Not here, not now - but Cindy?”
“I’m having a birthday party in a few weeks,” Cindy said with a smile, “Girls only - and I have some ideas of what can happen. We’ll tell you all about our weekend if you come to that.”
She put a piece of fish stick on her fork and put it in her mouth, wondering why Heidi was smiling and the others looked on wide eyed. “Whtr,” she mumbled, “dddisasmthng?”