Heidi and the Healing Touch
following story takes place after the events in An Education: BFF and The Red
Widow, both of which may be found at the TUGs forum. There are therefore
spoilers in here for both stories, so if you wish to avoid that, read
The two women standing at the arrivals exit of Portland International airport were looking nervous. “I can’t believe Anne talked us into this,” Amy Strong said to her sister as she shuffled nervously from side to side, the heels of her black fabric boots clicking on the hard floor as she did so.
“Relax, Amy,” Veronica Cabot said as she sat down in the chair. She was slightly taller than her half-sister, and wearing a designer cream coloured trouser suit over her grey roll neck sweater. Amy was wearing a knee length black skirt and a white smock top over that, with a grey leather jacket.
“I know – but Heidi had another nightmare last night, as did Cindy. I guess it just takes a little while to organise something like this.”
“From what Anne said, it was more convincing Kurt as well as Coral’s husband to allow us to take them away for the weekend, as well as Coral and Blossom.
“I know, I know – and then Suzanne told us what had happened to the others. Still, I guess we can look at one good thing out of this.”
“It’s going to be one hell of a Thanksgiving meal,” she said as she stood up, and looked at the large doors which were opening as the people came out. “Anyway, they’re here.”
Veronica turned and looked as two women walked through. One was in her mid sixties, dressed in a light tan twin set, a knee length tweed skirt, tan coloured hose and flat shoes. The other woman was much younger, in her late teens, and wore a grey zipped jacket and trousers over a white t-shirt, and trainers. She had shoulder length blonde hair, while the older woman had tightly permed grey hair, but they look similar enough to be related.
“Lucinda,” Amy said as she hugged the older woman, “Thank you so much for agreeing to do this for us. It’s good to see you as well, Angela.”
“Likewise,” Angela said as she put her case upright and hugged both of the women. “How is everyone?”
“Nervous, and still very upset,” Veronica said with a little smile, “Where are the other two?”
“They had a small discussion with the security officers, but – ah, here they come now.”
The large doors had opened again, as two women walked in. One had long dark hair, which fell over the shoulders of her black leather jacket, and was wearing a pair of blue jeans with the lower legs tucked into black suede boots. The other was wearing a blue tunic over a pair of matching pants, a faded denim jacket and gold coloured sandals.
“Amy, Veronica,” the second woman said as she embraced the two others, “It is so good to see you again.”
“Welcome to Maine,” Amy said as she looked at the two later arrivals. “Don’t tell me you had problems with Homeland Security?”
“Quite the opposite actually,” Jo Frost said with a smile. “Apparently, we are on a ranking with US serving personnel in their ranks, even though we’ve both retired. No, it had to do with some DVDs we brought with us – apparently they thought Danger Mouse was a bad thing.”
“No accounting for taste,” Amy said with a smile. “Come on – you’re staying with me and Dorothy tonight, and we all go to the farm together tomorrow.”
“I’m looking forward to meeting your partner,” Cassie Craig said as they walked to the car, “I’m sure we have a lot to talk about...”
As Amy pulled up outside her house, Angela let out a low whistle.
“Wow – it’s a lot bigger than my place,” she said as she got out. “So you and Dorothy live here with Heidi and Cindy?”
“That’s right,” Amy said as she opened the back of the SUV, and helped Cassie and Jo with the cases. “In fact, there they are now.”
“Hi,” Heidi said as she came out, her blonde hair blowing in the slight breeze. She had on a white jumper, jeans and sneakers, as she came out and said “It’s good to see you again, Lady Holderness. How are the girls?”
“They are fine, and send their love. You remember Alicia’s sister, Angela?”
“Sure do,” Heidi said as she looked at Angela. “Alicia told me you were coming over – and it's good to see you again, Cassie. Is this the famous Captain Frost?”
“My reputation precedes me,” Jo said with a smile. “So you’re the equally famous Heidi Strong? Cassie and Jenny have told me a lot about you and your friends. We’re looking forward to meeting them.”
“So are they,” she said as they walked into the house. “We’ll show you to your rooms for tonight later.” Heidi said, “but there are a few people in here waiting for you.”
She opened the door to a front room, walking in and saying “They’re here.” As the four arrivals walked in, they saw five people sitting there.
“Hello Cindy, Dorothy,” Lucinda said as she embraced a dark haired woman and girl, about the same age as Amy and Heidi respectively. Dorothy was wearing a white sweatshirt and black trousers, while Cindy had on a pair of bib denim dungarees over a white t-shirt.
“Hello Lady Hold...” Lucinda stopped Cindy and said “Please – for this trip, call me Lucinda. But there is someone else I need to see,” she said as she walked over to a blonde haired, smiling woman who had stood up. She wore a grey tracksuit with a pink trim, the bulge just starting to show on her stomach.
“Sarah, my child, it is so good to see you well,” she said as she took Sarah Holderness by the hands, and kissed her on both cheeks. “How are you?”
“Not throwing up quite as much now,” Sarah said with a smile, “but we’re fine – we’re all fine.” She held her stomach and smiled as she looked at the others. “It’s good to see all of you – thanks for coming so far.”
“Amy and Veronica did the same for us – as did Anne and Chloe. Where are they?”
“They’re not here,” a dark haired woman said as she stood by the window. “they both felt, given they are amongst the subjects of the time we’re spending together, they should have as much of a surprise as the others.”
“It’s good to see you again, Sue,” Lucinda said as she shook the hand of Special Agent Sue Duncombe. “This is Angela, my oldest granddaughter and Alicia’s older sister, and may I introduce Captain Cassandra Craig and Captain Jo Frost.”
“The pleasure is mine,” Sue said as she shook their hands. “The lady who hasn’t said much yet is Heather Reid, Natalie’s aunt and our host for the weekend.”
“You’re welcome,” Heather said as she looked at the new arrivals. She was wearing a long gypsy skirt and a short sleeved peasant top with a red scarf round her neck, and was bare foot. “Anything to help everyone get over the events of the past few weeks.”
“Yes,” Lucinda said as Veronica brought in a tray of drinks from the kitchen, “I understand there are some things you need to tell us about. Perhaps you can tell us what happened to your cousin, Cindy, and then...”
“Then I am ordering a lot of Chinese food,” Heidi said with a laugh, “before we plan out what we’re going to do over the long weekend. After all, we have a holiday to celebrate before we get down to the main events.”
“So, allow me to summarise,” Lucinda said as the empty boxes lay in front of them around the table. “We have the younger generation – you two, Natalie, Jannifer, Alice and the twins. You need to get any feelings about the kidnapping out of your system?”
“That’s right,” Cindy said as she bit into another spring roll. “We think something like we did when we were kidnapped before, making it fun.”
“Would not be the first time we have done that,” Angela said with a smile, “so that is possible where I come in, with you and Amy, Dorothy?”
“That’s right,” Amy said, “although I think you and Chloe need to spend some time together as well.”
“I’d like that,” Angela said with a smile.
“Then there is Anne, Coral, Joanne, Alexa and – Kayla, I believe you said her name was?”
“That’s right,” Sue said. “Their personal ordeals are such that I think they may need more intense therapy. Anne told me about...” She then looked over at Angela.
“It’s all right – I know exactly what happened. Mum told me.”
“Good – then something along those lines may be needed for them, but gently.”
“Which I guess is where Jo and I come in, right?”
“If you are agreeable – and then there are the mothers, especially Blossom, Coral and Katherine. The rest of us will lead that part, with your help Lucinda.”
“I will be delighted to help as I can – but what of you Sarah?”
“Oh, I’ll move from group to group over the weekend – I think my job is getting them to talk and to help them along. You’ll see.”
“Maria, Brian, Jack and Kurt will be along to provide physical and moral support. So, everyone know what they are doing?”
“I think so – Amy and Cindy, you will help Angela?”
The two girls nodded, and then said “onto other things – who’s bringing what for the thanksgiving meal tomorrow?”
“You’ll see,” Veronica said with a smile.
with a start, and looked around. It was still dark, and yet it felt as if
she had slept for hours and had to get up. Looking at the clock by her
bed, she saw it was five am.
“Five? Oh god – the time difference,” she said as she slipped out from the covers, and stood up, putting on a dressing gown. She could hear voices downstairs, and as she went down she heard Cindy saying “That’s the yams about ready for candying.”
Walking into the kitchen, she saw Cindy at the stove, with Amy and Dorothy working on the preparation area. Dorothy looked up and said “Oh – good morning Angela, did we wake you up?”
“No – I’m still getting used to the time zones,” she said as she sat down.
“Well,” Amy said as she poured a mug of coffee for Angela, “You catch us preparing some starters for the Thanksgiving meal. We have a family tradition of preparing the puddings, so there’s a pumpkin pie in the oven, we’re sorting put some candied yams, and Dorothy is preparing her world famous Key Lime pie.”
“Sounds good – so different people are bringing different things?”
Cindy nodded as Heidi walked in, yawning and saying “Sorry I’m late.”
“Heather, Veronica and Maria are hard at work at the farm, preparing the turkey. Others are bringing appetizers, soups and side dishes.”
“Well, we brought ourselves, and some English Mints – I hope that’s enough.”
“Trust me, it’s more than enough,” Cindy said as she put the dish in the oven. “Once these are done, I’ll stick some breakfast rolls in the oven, and we can sort out breakfast.”
“So how long will it take to get there?”
“A couple of hours,” Amy said as she removed a steaming brown pie from the oven. “Plenty of time for others to get up and get ready. Besides, we need to sort a few more things out first...”
“This has to be some of the most beautiful countryside I have ever seen,” Jo quietly whispered as they drove through the Maine countryside, the brown and yellows highlighted by the autumn sun as it shone down.
“We like it,” Dorothy said with a smile. She and Cindy were dressed in white pinafore dresses, with open necked blouses underneath, and short black boots on their feet. By contrast, Heidi was wearing a powder blue trouser suit over a white camisole top, while Amy had on a grey jumper and skirt, with flat shoes.
“It reminds me a lot of Scotland in the autumn,” Jo said as she looked out of the window, “especially around Loch Ness.”
“That’s what young Patty would say,” Cassie said with a smile. “Just as well she’s not here.”
Amy had to stop herself from laughing as the SUV stopped outside a large farmhouse. As they got out, Heather emerged from the kitchen, wearing a long white skirt with a black apron over it, and a short sleeved blouse.
“Welcome to my place,” she said with a smile, “You’re the first to arrive – well, apart from the domestic staff. Please come in – but remember rule one of my house.”
“Rule one?” Lucinda looked at Amy, who laughed and said “all shoes to be left by the door – no exceptions.”
“Come on, Grandmother,” Angela said with a laugh, “when in Rome.” She stepped inside, and slipped out of her black ankle boots, leaving them at the door as she walked in her stocking soles into the kitchen. She was wearing a red short sleeved dress, while Lucinda had on a white cardigan over a knee length blue high necked dress.
Cassie and Jo were wearing open necked blouses and trousers, as they walked into the front room. Veronica came through, wiping her hands on a cloth, and said “Welcome – did you bring the puddings?”
“In the car.”
“I’ll give you a hand,” Veronica said as she accompanied Amy. “Maria will bring some drinks through shortly.”
“Who’s Maria,” Jo said as she looked round the room.
“Veronica’s housekeeper,” Lucinda said as the door to the kitchen opened and a large, broad shouldered Hispanic woman backed through, carrying a tray of drinks. She wore a white apron over a blue short sleeved dress, and smiled as she turned round.
“It is good to see you again, Lady Holderness,” she said as she set the tray down. “Is this your granddaughter?”
“It is, Maria,” Lucinda said as she looked at Angela, “and may I introduce Cassie Craig and Jo Frost?”
“I see the family resemblance,” Maria said as she shook their hands. “Forgive me, but I need to retrieve a turkey from the brine. I will talk with you later.”
“Busy woman,” Cassie said as Maria left the room again.
“And a very talented one,” Dorothy said as another car pulled up outside. “Looks like the soup has arrived.”
There was a sound of laughing, and then the door burst open and two young girls ran in, wearing blue petticoat dresses and white jumpers underneath. “HI HEIDI!” they called in unison, and then they saw the others there.
“Oooo – you’re Cassie’s grandmother,” the darker haired one said.
“I am indeed Margo,” Lucinda said with a smile, “where are the rest of your family?”
“We’re here,” Jannifer Dale said as she came in, wearing jeans and a blouse with a belt round her waist. “Mum, Dad, this is Lady Holderness, Alicia’s aunt. And you must be her older sister.”
“The pleasure is mine,” Angela said as she and Lucinda shook hands with Blossom and Kurt. “This is Cassie Craig, senior, and Jo Frost.”
“Welcome to Maine,” Kurt said as he shook their hands. “I hear you’ll be helping the girls?”
“Hopefully – we have some experience,” Cassie said quietly as Amy and the other girls left the room. “Boisterous, aren’t they?”
“They want to see their hero again,” Blossom said, “but yes, they can be.”
“Reminds me of the Terrible Duo,” Cassie said with a laugh.
“Suzie and Cassie?”
“Nope – Patty and Rachel. I’ll...”
“Well, there you are,” Lucinda said as she walked over and took Natalie’s hands. “How are you, child?”
“Getting there – this is my mum Katherine, my father George and my brother Keith.”
Lucinda looked at the three people with Natalie and said “It is a pleasure to meet you. Is your grandmother with you?”
“I am,” Roberta said as she followed them in, carrying a large pit with her, “and I could use some help.”
“I’ll take that.”
Roberta handed the pot to the large Australian who had come in and said “Thank you, Brian – please take it to the kitchen. Where is Sarah?”
“Helping me to carry in the salads, Mademoiselle Reid,” a French voice said, and Angela came into the hallway to see Chloe standing there with Sarah.
“Angela, Mon Amie, it is so good to see you again – forgive me if I do not greet you properly for the moment,” she said as she went to the kitchen.
“The crowds gather,” Sarah whispered to Angela as another car pulled up, and a familiar blonde haired woman stepped out.
“Anne,” Cassie said as Anne and Sue came in, accompanied by a stranger to most of the room, “It is so good to see you again.”
“You too,” Anne Duncombe said as she embraced Cassie and Jo. “Folks, this is Kayla Smith, a colleague of mine. Thank you for allowing her to join us.”
“One of the many thanks we have to give thanks for this year,” Amy said as she came back into the room, followed by Maria and Veronica with more drinks. “All we need now are...”
“Us,” Coral Blackwood said as she came in with Andrea, and her husband. “Ladies, my husband Frank. Frank, I’ll introduce as we go on.”
“Well, not quite you,” Dorothy said with a smile, “there is the small matter of two other families.”
“Jack called me to say they are on their way, and so is Suzanne,” Coral said as she slipped off her coat. “Oh – and I hope you don’t mind, but I invited Bobbi as well.”
“I think we can squeeze her in – somewhere,” Veronica said with a laugh.
“Squeeze who in,” Suzanne said as she entered with Joanne and Alexa. The two girls looked grey, but smiled as they met up with Andrea.
“We’re not too late are we,” Jack Hawkins said as he entered, followed by Margaret and Alice.
“Not at all,” Veronica said as Maria handed them each a glass. “I want to propose a toast before we start – friendship.”
“Friendship,” the room said as they toasted each other, and then Chloe said “Right – we older girls are going outside. Angela, join us please.”
As the older
girls made their way onto the rear lawn, Heather said to the other English
guests “Why don’t I give you a tour of the farm,” leading them away as the
others sat and talked.
“Miss Veronica, Miss Heather – it is time.”
“Thank you Maria,” Veronica said as she looked at her housekeeper. “Let’s go to the dinner table.”
As the adults entered from one door, the other girls came in from the door to the yard, Chloe saying “I hope you will meet James, Angela – he is easily the most handsome man I know,” as they took their places round the table.
The table was laden down with all forms of salads, rolls and cold meats, while a large pot of spiced pumpkin soup was bubbling gently away on the wood fired stove. “Let us all hold hands,” Heather said at the head of the table, “and give thanks.”
Anne took Kayla’s hand on one side, and Sue’s at the other, while both Jo and Dorothy noticed the small smile on Kayla’s face. Looking at each other, something seemed to be communicated between them as they held hands with their partners.
Heidi linked one hand with Cindy, and another with Natalie, as they in turn held their mother’s hands. Jannifer sat between the twins, holding their hands as they held those of their mother and father.
As Coral took hold of Sarah’s hand, she gasped slightly and looked at the blonde haired woman, who looked at her as did Brian beside her. “We’ll talk later,” she whispered as Coral took Andrea’s hand on the other side.
One by one they held hands, before Heather said “Mother, will you?”
Roberta nodded and said “We are gathered to give thanks for all we have, and for those things we hold dear to each of us. Please, take a moment, and do so yourselves before I say grace.”
The table stood in silence, each with their own thoughts, hands of partners tightening in each other, before Roberta started to speak.
“O Gracious God, we give you thanks for your overflowing generosity to us. Thank you for the blessings of the food we eat and especially for this feast today. Thank you for our home and family and friends, especially for the presence of those gathered here. Thank you for our health, our work and our play. Please send help to those who are hungry, alone, sick and suffering war and violence. Open our hearts to your love. We ask your blessing through Christ your son. Amen.”
“AMEN!” chorused round the table, before Heather said “Right – let the feasting begin!”
“So Angela,” Andrea said as she handed her a bowl of the tuna salad, “What do you hope to study at college?”
“English,” Angela said with a smile as she put some on her plate, “What about you?”
“I hope to do some form of Graphic Design, but I will probably attend a local college – do you intend to move away from home?”
“I’m waiting to find out,” Angela replied as she looked at Lucinda, “My application went in at the start of the month. We have to apply to one authority in the UK, and list the universities we want to go to, rather than the individual ones.”
“Travel does bring new experiences,” Chloe said as she bit into some scallops, “perhaps you should consider spending some time abroad?”
“An interesting idea,” Lucinda said with a smile, “I’m sure both Jo and Cassie would agree that travel can broaden the mind.”
“That depends on where you go,” Jo said with a smile, “some of the places Cassie and I have been are not exactly for the open minded.”
“Oh,” Brian said as he looked at them, “anywhere interesting?”
“Certain middle east countries,” Cassie said, and then she looked at Brian properly. “You?”
“Similar holiday destinations,” Brian said with a smile. “Perhaps we can share tales of drunken nights in bars?”
“I think that would be nice,” Jo said as they kept eating.
Sarah looked at Coral and said “I know – you haven’t really had a chance to talk, have you?”
“Like I said, later – then we can talk freely.”
Sometime later, the table was awash with empty pie dishes, and surrounded by a very well fed group of people.
“Right,” Kurt said as he stood up, “who wants to throw a little ball to work off this food?”
“OH you have got to be...”
“Come on Frank – you can do this. Jack and Brian can join in as well.”
As the men left, Maria stood up and started to collect the dishes. “Oh no,” Veronica said as she stood up, “You do not touch these dishes. Natalie, you and the girls get to clear up and wash up.”
“I have a special treat for you when the work is done,” Lucinda said quietly, “and many hands make light work, as they say.”
“Let’s leave them to it,” Amy said as she stood up, “we can go and have coffee in the front room.”
“We’ll give you a hand,” Angela said as she and Chloe stood up. As the young French woman lifted a dish, Angela saw the watch on her wrists, the dial glowing green.
“Unusual watch, isn’t it?”
Angela looked at Sue, who said “When you get a chance to talk over the next few days, just the two of you, ask her what happened at the bank. From what Anne told me, you’re just the person she needs to talk to.”
Angela looked at Anne’s sister, then nodded as she turned and made her way into the front room.
“Now,” Anne said as the door closed behind her sister, “this is the first time we’ve all been together since that night. Today is a holiday, but between now and Sunday I’ve asked Lucinda, Jo, Cassie and Angela to help us all to do some things that have helped them in the past to deal with – well, the same sort of things we have had to deal with.”
“How similar,” Coral said as she looked at Cassie and Jo.
“More similar than you might like to know, from what we learned from Sarah,” Cassie replied quietly, “a gang tied up Lucinda and her family, as well as me and my family, and – well, the details are in the past, before someone saved us.”
“Me,” Sarah said quietly. “When we gave thanks earlier, I gave thanks for three things. Firstly, for the fact you have all accepted Brian and me as friends. Secondly, for the new lives I am carrying, and thirdly...”
The room looked at Sarah, as she blushed and said “Thirdly, that a wonderful man has asked me to be his wife, and I said yes.”
“Hang on – I thought you were married to Brian?”
“Another little lie, I’m afraid – I did not know you as well then,” Sarah said with a blush, “and I will apologise to the others later. My name is Sarah, and Brian is my partner – but not my husband.
“Not yet – we hope to marry in the New Year.”
“Said wedding,” Lucinda said with a smile, “To be in the grounds of Holderness Manor – and we hope that as many of you as possible will come. At our expense.”
“I can’t ask that,” Sarah said, but Lucinda held up her hand. “One other secret for you to know – Sarah is distantly related to my family, so our family will pay. It is only right and fair. She may wish to discuss other related matters with some of you later.”
“Well,” Amy said with a smile, “I guess baby shower and wedding presents are in order for the January sales.”
“Why not tomorrow?”
“Because as part of the activities,” Sue said, “neon of you will be able to go to the sales tomorrow. Please, trust me on that – but from what I’ve been told, I think you’re going to enjoy it.”
“So how is this going to work,” Bobbi said as she accepted a cup of coffee from Maria.
“You will be split effectively into three groups. The girls will be with Angela and have their own games. Some of you will spend time with Jo and Cassie, and the others with me. The idea is the same, however – to share our feelings and fears, and then work past them.”
“It works,” Amy said as she looked at the other women, “trust me, Dorothy and Veronica on this. We will be her 100% of the time, as will others.”
“All right – so that’s for tomorrow,” Margaret said quietly, “What’s for tonight?”
“Well,” Lucinda said with a smile, “I have some home movies to show you...”
“Well, the men have decided the game is more important than this, so I’ve banished them to the exercise room,” Heather said as she closed the door. “So what is this DVD you want us to see?”
“Well, it’s rather a big one,” Lucinda said as she slipped the disc into the player, “but essentially, we all felt you might like to see some film we have made of the things the girls – and some of the boys – have been up to recently.”
As the disk started, a caption card came up that said “Family Memories” with pictures of the girls and their parents rolling past them. Lucinda used the control to click on a button that said “Summer Ball”, and they sat back and watched as the film shot last July appeared.
“Oh my,” Maria said as she saw the procession past the line, “Such fine dresses – and is that young Cassie and Jenny?”
“It sure is,” Heidi said as she watched them walk past, “and that young man looking very nervously at Alicia is Martin, her boyfriend.”
“And that’s Patty, Cassie’s cousin,” Cindy said as they saw the young, spectacle wearing girl looking at the camera and waving.
“Trust me,” Cassie said as she sat with Jo, “she’s going to be as much of a firecracker as my little niece used to be.”
“Used to be?” Heidi, Cindy and Natalie all turned and looked at Cassie, who grinned and replied “All right, still is in some ways – but she’s growing up now.”
“So I see,” Blossom said as they watched the first dance of the night. “She looks a really lovely lady with that young man.”
“Oh, you mean my grandson Robert,” Lucinda said quietly. “Yes, they do make quite a couple.”
“Well now, this is – OH MY GOD!!!!!” The scene had moved to inside, the private ball, and the dance with ropes and gags. Heidi looked at Margaret, and said “Yeah – it was even better to watch. There we are – in the background, watching in our own way.”
“The reason I wanted you to see this,” Lucinda said quietly, “is that one of the important things we want to do this weekend is to remind you that, despite everything that has happened, the ropes, the scarves, the gags are not responsible for that – it is the people who are. So you need to be reminded of the fun that can be had – such as playing games when dressed up.”
“Playing games when – oh no, don’t tell me that’s...”
“It is,” Lucinda said, as she went back to the menu and clicked on “Nancy Drew Time.”
“Where on earth did you get those clothes from,” Alice said as she watched the six girls emerge from the caravan in their finery.
“One of Jenny and Cassie’s relatives bequeathed them a whole lot of very well preserved clothes from Miranda’s childhood,” Lucinda said as they watched the girls been captured one by one, “and they have been put to great use since then. Indeed, over two weekends recently they spent the entire weekend tied and gagged in such outfits.”
“Oh my goodness,” Jannifer said as she saw the twins looking wide-eyed at them, “IS that on this as well?”
“Only the second time – I’ll tell you about the first later,” Angela said as Lucinda selected a new chapter, entitled “Travelling light.”
“No,” Blossom said to the twins as they saw the three girls bound and gagged in the caravan, “A thousand times no. You are not going to be allowed to do that.”
“I mean it – we play the games together, so it can’t happen. Look – their mum is in the back with them, and she is free.”
Britney and Margo pouted, but accepted their mother’s word as a cheer came through from the other room.
“Guess the Raiders just touched down – that was Kurt,” Blossom said with a smile as they watched the film. There was a lot to see – but eventually Heather said “Save some for another day.”
“Indeed,” Jo said, “we brought a copy for everyone, but we need to go and stop the men from wrecking the place. Plus, I’m hungry.”
“Hey – ex-soldier, it happens,” Jo said as they filed out of the room.
“I’m going to get some snacks and drinks together – who won?”
Kurt smiled as he looked at Heather and said “Raiders, of course – what were you watching?”
“I’ll show you later,” Blossom said with a smile as she sat next to her husband. Frank looked at Coral and said “Are you sure you want to stay for the next few days? I can always take you home with me...”
“No,” Coral said quietly, “This is something I have to do.” She felt a hand on her shoulder as Sarah said “Coral, why don’t you and Frank come with me – we can have that chat you wanted earlier.”
Nodding, the couple stood up and went with Sarah, while Brian said “I’m going outside for a few minutes.”
“We’ll come with you – I always wanted to see a sunset like the one Lucinda described,” Cassie said, Jo accompanying her as Heather said “That reminds me – one of my neighbours is having a firework display later. We should be able to see it.”
“Sounds good to me,” Alexa said as she cuddled Joanne. Suzanne smiled as she looked at her daughter and their partner, while Anne and Sue went into a corner with Kayla.
Sometime later, Brian called in “Hey – it’s starting,” and they all went out to watch the display, friends and family together...
“One thing about this weekend – we avoid the Black Friday madness.”
Katherine nodded as she sat with her sister at the breakfast table. It was still dark outside, as they held their coffee mugs and looked out of the window.
Frank and Suzanne had after the firework display, while the others had decamped to various rooms in the farmhouse – the girls had held a mini slumber party in the front room, while Heather had made the spare bedrooms up for the adults.
“So what is Lucinda planning for today?”
“I’m not quite sure,” Katherine said, “beyond this split into groups. The girls get Angela, we get Lucinda as a group of mothers, and those who had more – physical contacts get Jo and Cassie.”
“Good morning,” Sarah said as she and Brian came in. While both Katherine and Heather were still in nightclothes, Sarah was wearing her grey tracksuit with a pink trim, while Brian was wearing a jumper and jeans.
“Is the sun coming up yet?”
“Just about,” Brian said as he looked out of the window. “Listen, before the others come down, we need to ask a favour of you, Katherine.”
“Go ahead – anything for you two,” Katherine said with a smile.
“Good – then we would like Natalie to be one of the bridesmaids at our wedding. We’re going to ask all the girls to play a part, but – well, you’re first.”
“I think she’d love to – but you do know she hates wearing high heels?”
“Don’t worry – we’re going to allow for that,” Sarah said with a smile, “and thank you.”
“Morning,” Jo said as she walked in. “Heather, do you have the ropes we asked for?”
It was nearly ten in the morning by the time everyone had come in for breakfast, and Heather said “All right – we need to split into groups. Girls – you need to go with Amy, Dorothy and Angela out to the barn, and she will explain what is going to happen there.”
“Come on,” Natalie said as she led the group out, all of them in shorts and t-shirts, “and no shoes. I don’t care how cold it is outside, no shoes.”
“Oh come on, Nats,” Cindy said as she looked at her feet, “not even a pair of trainers?”
“Nope – let’s move out,” she said as she led the girls out, Angela following them with Amy and Dorothy.
“Next we have Joanne and Alexa, Coral, Anne, Kayla – Ladies – if you will go with Jo and Cassie, and if you would go with them as well, Andrea, it would be a huge help.”
“Of course,” Andrea said as that group left for the attic, Sue going with them as well as Sarah.
“Finally,” Margaret said as she looked round the room, “the rest of us. Lucinda is waiting for us in the front room.”
“We’ll be here if you need anything,” Jack said as he, Brian and Kurt stayed at the breakfast table, “and we’ll take care of the washing up.”
Out in the barn, Jannifer put her hand to her mouth as she said “Oh my – is that what I think it is?”
“It is,” Dorothy said as the girls looked at the five bedsteads lined up against the wall.
“We thought it would be better if we confronted what happened head on, by making it a fun thing,” Heidi said as she stood in front of one of the bedsteads. “I want you four to secure me to the bedstead, and then we will secure each other.”
“What are we going to do,” Britney and Margo said as they watched their sister, Alice, Cindy and Natalie bind Heidi to the metal frame with ropes.
“Oh, you have a very special part to play when they are all secured – in fact, you can help tie your sister to the frame when her turn comes.”
“COOL,” the twins shouted as they watched Cindy being secured.
“I still don’t get why you insisted we came out barefoot,” Alice said as she was secured in place.
“Apart from the fact it is a rule at Aunt Heather’s farm? It was Heidi’s idea, so ask her.”
“You’ll see," Heidi said with a smile as Nats was secured In place, and then Amy and Dorothy secured Jannifer’s wrists, with the twins securing her ankles.
“So what are we going to be gagged with,” Alice said as she looked nervously round.
“Nothing,” Angela said as she picked up two feathers. “We want you to be free to have fun and express how this feels.”
“How what feels,” Jannifer said as she looked at the feathers, then her beaming twin sisters, then down at her feet. “Oh no, don’t tell me you’re letting them...”
“Yup,” Angela said as she handed the feathers to the twins, “Have at it girls.” Jannifer said “Oh no...” as the twins advanced on her...
“So,” Coral said as she watched Jo close the door, “what’s in store for us?”
“Well,” Cassie said as she sat down, “First off, I need to tell you something of what happened to me, and what I did to – well, deal with my anger over the situation.”
“Why – what happened to you,” Joanne said as she and Alexa held each other. So they listened as Cassie related the tale of the night at Holderness Manor, and the subsequent weekend.
“My goodness,” Coral said as Cassie finished, “You really did...”
“I did,” Cassie said quietly, “and what helped was having those we loved here to help the healing process – which is why Sue, Andrea and Sarah are here. We’re going to ask you to pick a person to bind you, tightly and totally – but it needs to be someone you trust not to hurt you. Coral, Alexa, Kayla – you pick first.”
“There is no choice for me,” Alexa said as she gripped Joanne’s hand, “except my love.”
Cassie nodded and handed Alexa a length of rope. As she did so, Coral looked at Andrea and said “I know why you came up now – please, do this for me.”
As Andrea accepted the rope, Kayla looked shyly at Anne. “I know it is asking a lot,” she said as she lowered her head, “but will you take care of me?”
“Of course,” Anne said as she took the rope. The three women were dressed casually, in joggers and sweatshirts, as they crossed their wrists and felt the cords pulling them together, the others watching.
“Oh forgive me,” Chloe said as she came into the front room, “I was looking for the others.”
“Chloe – we need you to join us for a few minutes first,” Lucinda said as she stood by the fire. “We were talking about what happened that morning – as you are here, perhaps you can share with us as well?”
“As you wish,” she said as she sat down, her striped socks covering her feet as she looked round the room.
“Now,” Lucinda said quietly, “that day is still fresh and raw in all your memories, so the best thing you can do is talk about that day, relive the memories, allow yourself to vent all the feelings that you have perhaps kept from others. The golden rule of this is simple – hold nothing back, and say everything you need to say, because none of it needs to leave this room.
“Katherine, you were here with Heather, the girls and Chloe. Why don’t we start with you?”
“Do I have to,” Katherine said as she looked at Lucinda.
“I know the memories hurt, but they need to be shared – so please, tell us what happened.”
Katherine nodded, took a deep breath and said “Well, we had brought the girls out here for a meeting with Miss Dunbar, their new gymnastics coach.”
“Why isn’t she here – or your mother, for that matter Katherine.”
“They’re coming tomorrow,” Heather said quietly, “we want to give them the chance to complete what could not happen that day, but they aren’t part of today’s conversation.”
“Anyway,” Katherine continued, “we were here, talking while Mum took Miss Dunbar – Elena – to see Alice and Natalie. Chloe had come as well, because there had been some sort of dispute between her and Elena.”
“Oui,” Chloe said quietly, “a small misunderstanding, but Katherine felt it was important that was cleared as well.”
“So you were here, the girls were in the other room, and then you went for lunch, leaving Chloe in charge?”
“That’s right,” Heather said, “and then we got back, and...”
“and they had gone,” Lucinda said as she nodded. “From what we now understand, they were the last to be picked up – Veronica, in the absence of Amy and Dorothy, what happened to them that morning.”
“I only know what they told me,” Veronica said quietly, “they watched Heidi and Cindy set off for the hike, went to church, came back – and then they had a call to say they had not made it to the meeting place, and asking what had happened to them.”
“At which point they came to see Coral,” Blossom said, as she started to cry.
“EENNNNOUGGHHHHHHH!” Jannifer screamed out as she felt the fingers of her younger sisters torturing the soles of her feet. “I am so going to get my own back on you two....”
“Someone sounds as if they are having fun” Maria said as she carried a tray of cold drinks into the barn, “Miss Veronica felt you may want a drink at this time.”
“Oh – and how are we going to drink them,” Heidi said as she looked at the cold glasses.
“With our help,” Amy said as she picked up a glass, “and then – it’s the turn of the twins.”
Five pairs of eyes turned on Britney and Margo, as Britney just said “uh oh...”
Kayla let out a little sigh as she felt Anne tying the ropes around her arms and chest, allowing her to make sure the ropes were both tight and comfortable.
“Now,” Cassie said as she looked at Coral, Alexa and Kayla. All three had their wrists crossed and tied behind their backs, and bands of rope above and below their chest, pulled up under their arms, “How does it feel? Are you scared?”
“Surprisingly no,” Coral said as she looked at Andrea, “I guess having someone you love and trust makes it easier to deal with.”
“Precisely,” Jo said quietly, “as we said, the ropes are not the thing you need to be afraid of – it was the men wielding the ropes, the tape, whatever it was who caused your fear, and we know it was very real. But this is to help you to accept that there is nothing wrong with actually been tied up.”
Anne looked at Kayla, and said “I’m glad you trust me to do this, after everything we’ve been through.”
“Well,” Kayla said as she smiled in return, “perhaps I will get to do the same to you?”
“Not today,” Cassie said, “but we have a whole weekend ahead of us, so who can say? Now, our three binders need to secure your legs, so if you will cross your ankles...”
The ladies crossed their ankles and watched as Anne, Joanne and Andrea bound their ankle tightly together, and then their legs below their knees. As Anne tied off the last rope, she saw Kayla close her eyes and shiver.
“Are you all right,” she said as she put her hand on the doctor’s thigh. Kayla opened her eyes and said “Yeah – I’m fine. It actually feels quite nice when you do it.”
Anne smiled in reply as Cassie then handed ropes to Sue and Andrea. “Now it is your turn, Joanne and Anne. Andrea and Sue will take care of respectively.”
As they crossed the wrist of the two women behind their backs, Jo sat next to Kayla. “I understand this is going to deal with some long forgotten fears, right?”
Kayla nodded and said “Yeah – but I’m glad Anne and Sarah are in the room as well. They really care about me.”
Jo nodded, and said “I noticed – and you really care about Anne, don’t you?”
Kayla blushed and looked at Jo, before stammering “isssiittt that obvious?”
“To me and Cassie and Dorothy, yes – but Anne may need her eyes opening. Take the opportunity at some point this weekend, to tell her how you feel.”
“But I don’t know if....”
“And you never will unless you talk – trust me,” Jo said with a smile as they watched Anne and Joanne being bound...
“And that was when I realised just how much trouble we were in.”
Chloe looked round the room as she finished telling of what happened when she arrived at the farmhouse, and found the twins with Coral. “We both knew we had to protect them from whatever might happen, at whatever cost.”
“And you both did a fantastic job, in a funny way,” Blossom said quietly, “But the cost to you, in terms of...”
The door opened and Kurt came in, holding the door as Brian carried in a tray of coffee mugs. “We figured you might need a break,” Brian said as he set the tray down on the coffee table.
“Kurt,” Blossom said as she took her husband’s hand, “Chloe here told us how brave she and Coral were in keeping the twins safe, and I realised we never really thanked her.” She stood up and hugged Chloe, whispering “Thank you” as Kurt hugged them both.
“You are most welcome,” Chloe said as she looked round the room, her cheeks a bright shade of red. “If you will excuse me now, I did promise I would go and check on the girls.”
“Of course,” Veronica said as the mothers waved her off. She made her way to the kitchen, smiling at Maria as she did so, and then out to the barn. As she approached the barn, she could hear the twins screaming with laughter inside, and as she walked in she could see why.
Britney and Margo were lying on a large wooden table, tightly bound with ropes holding their wrists behind their backs, and their arms to their stomachs. Their ankles were crossed and tied together, and then pulled back and tied to their stomach ropes – which allowed the five girls around them free access to the soles of their feet as well as their sides.
“OHCOMEONSURELLLYTHAAAATSSENOUGHHHHHH,” Britney screamed as Alice and Jannifer tickled the soles of her feet.
“Not for everything you did to us, it’s not,” Jannifer said as she watched Heidi and Cindy giving Margo the same treatment. “PLEASSEESTOPPPPMGONIGTOWETMYSELFFF” she called out as Nats tickled her sides.
“All right,” Amy said as she stepped forward, “I think that’s enough for now, or else there is going to be an accident. You five need to go in and help Heather and Maria prepare lunch – and then this afternoon, there’s going to be a little contest between the seven of you. So get a move on!”
As the five older girls left, and Amy and Dorothy started to untie the twins, Angela said to Chloe “Want to go for a walk?”
The two girls went out of the garden, and down a path that led to an old swimming hole. As they sat at the edge of the water Chloe said “So how have you been keeping, mon ami – have you had any more interesting experiences?”
“From what Gran has said, you have had a far more interesting experience than I have – how are you feeling?”
Chloe threw a rock across the water and said “That is true, but I like you have had help to cope. The memory is still there, but it has been replaced by better ones.”
As Angela looked at Chloe, she saw the green watch dial again. “That’s like Sarah’s watch isn’t it,” she said as she looked closely at it, “but it glows green, while Sarah’s is pink.”
“Indeed – I guess the funny crystals in it glow a different colour for...”
“What happened at the bank, Chloe?”
Chloe looked at her friend’s face, then said “Let me guess, Sue?”
“She said to ask you about the bank, but you forget that I know who Sarah is, and what she can do. Why do I get the feeling she is not the only one now?”
Standing up, she looked at Chloe and said “When you want to talk, find me. Right now, I’m getting hungry – shall we head back?”
Chloe stood up and smiled, saying “Thank you - I will” before they headed back up to the house. As they walked into the kitchen, however, they were greeted by a chorus of “HHLPSSSSS!”
“They were more trouble helping,” Heather said without turning from the sink, “so Maria and I had to keep them all still and quiet.”
“So I see,” Chloe said as she looked at Natalie, her legs pulled back and her ankles tied to the back legs of her chair with rope. Her knees were tied to the top of the front legs, while her wrist were tied together behind and to the chair back.
A band of rope was also wrapped around her waist, while a rolled up dish towel was pulled between her teeth. As Angela looked round the room, she could see that Jannifer, Alice, Heidi and Cindy had all been bound the same way.
Britney and Margo had their legs tied to the front legs of their chairs, and their arms were fed between the spars in the chair back, but that was the only concession to their bonds and gags.
“So I see,” Chloe said quietly, “Will we all be eating together?”
“No,” Heather said as she put some bowls of food on two trays, “the group in the attic will be eating separately. But the mothers will join us in a few minutes – can you keep an eye on these reprobates while we take the trays up?”
“It will be our pleasure,” Chloe said as she and Angela sat at the table, “and perhaps we can discuss my detention plans, no?”
Natalie rolled her eyes as Chloe explained some new ideas she had...
“So,” Lucinda finally said as she stood up, “What you need to take from this is that you all worked together to resolve this situation – and it’s that strength you need to draw from now, especially you Katherine.”
“Me,” Katherine said as she looked at her, “Why me?”
“Isn’t it obvious,” Heather said as she took her sister’s hands, “you killed him to save Sarah and us. I know you don’t feel it – God knows, you may never feel it – but you were a true heroine that night, and we need to make sure you never, ever forget that.”
“I’m no hero...”
“Enough,” Jack said as he stood up, “You are, whether you wanted to be or not. I know all too well that burden, so trust me – you need friends around you to support you in this.”
Standing up, he said “Right – I’m going to go and see what...”
The door to the room opened and Heather put her head round. “Lunch break,” she said quietly, “let’s go into the kitchen.”
“What about the others,” Bobbi said as she stood up.
“The girls are already at the table, with Angela and Chloe. As for the others – they’re going to stay in the attic until dinner time tonight. I don’t think they want to be disturbed.”
The five women wriggled round on the floor, trying to dislodge the ropes that held them hogtied but with little success, as they watched their captors enjoying some lunch.
“Whndwgttat,” Anne said as she looked at her sister.
“When we have finished – we’ll ungag you one at a time and feed you,” Jo said as she bit into a sandwich. “Andrea, you will feed your mother, and we will take care of the others.”
“And after lunch,” Cassie said as she looked at Alexa, “then we will leave you to enjoy yourselves for a little while. None of you are scared at the moment, are you?”
The five women looked at each other, before they shook their heads from side to side. Anne looked at Kayla, and said “Uswll?”
“Sllnnsurhr,” she whispered through her gag, as Jo looked at her and nodded.
“Ugh – I suppose I should be grateful it was a clean dish towel,” Alice said as Jack removed the gag from her mouth, and then untied her arms. “Any chance of me getting free from this chair?”
“Not until lunch is over and done with,” Heather said as they all took their places around the table, “but to make up for it, we have a special plan for you for after lunch.”
“Oh,” Heidi said as she grabbed a helping of salad, “What’s that?”
“Well, would I be right in thinking you’ve all had fun this morning?”
The girls looked at each other and nodded, as Veronica said “Well, your mothers have done nothing this morning but talk, and we think they are getting an itch to go shopping at the mall.”
“You have got to be kidding,” Dorothy said with a laugh, “no way would I go to the mall now, not on Black Friday!”
“Well, we’re going to make sure none of the mothers can go,” Lucinda said quietly, “and you are going to be instrumental to that plan.”
“Oh how – oh,” Cindy said as she looked at her mother. “Oh, now I get it.”
“Do you? Because I.... OH, now I do,” Dorothy said with a smile. “Where?”
“The pole room,” Heather said with a smile, “and once that’s done, you can go for a walk in the forest for a couple of hours – get that pent up energy out of you before dinner tonight.”
“Thanks,” Anne said as she sipped from the water that Sue was holding for her in one hand, the other one holding a bottle of water for Kayla. “So what happens now?”
“Now – you get paired up,” Jo said as she stood up. “Andrea, are you ready for this?”
“Give me ten minutes,” Andrea said as she left the attic, while Jo and Cassie helped Alexa and Joanne to kneel facing each other after releasing then from their hogties. They then proceeded to rope them together face to face, pulling their upper bodies together with ropes around their waists and chests.
“Fancy meeting you here,” Alexa said as she looked at Joanne.
“We had a choice? How are you feeling?”
“Curiously, a lot better – you?”
Joanne nodded as Cassie took a double ball gag, the two red balls linked by a small chain, and fixed them into the mouth of both girls. As they nodded, they saw Andrea coming back in, dressed in a white one piece sleepsuit, her hands covered by fingerless mittens.
As Jo picked up some ropes and walked over to the young girl, taking her hands behind her back and beginning to bind them together, Cassie and Sue removed the ropes holding Anne and Kayla in a hogtie, and made them kneel facing each other.
“How are you coping,” Anne said as she felt Kayla being pulled tightly against her by the rope around their waists.
”So far so good,” Kayla said as she looked at Anne. “It feels strange, to be tied like this, and yet to feel completely safe.”
“I know – but if anyone was going to do it, I wanted it to be those two,” she said as she looked at Jo and Cassie. “No disrespect to Sue, but when my sister and I get started, it can get – competitive.”
“I can imagine – but you’re right. If it is someone you trust, it is more fun.”
Anne heard the way Kayla said that, and looked at the doctor. “Of course you trust me, Kayla – how long have we worked together?”
“Quite some time,” Kayla said with a smile, “but it’s only recently I’ve got to know you well.”
Kayla looked at Anne, her head to one side as she smiled. Anne looked back at her, and then said “Oh. Kayla...”
“Enough talking,” Sue said as she pushed a folded scarf into her sister’s mouth and then taped it over, Cassie doing the same to Kayla. As they went to help Jo with securing Coral to her daughter, the two women looked at each other for a few minutes.
“Blindfold time,” Sue said as she slipped a black sleep mask over Kayla’s eyes. She wondered what was going on for a moment, before she felt a gentle pressure on her taped lips, and responded in kind....
“Well, I see you’ve got the taste for it back,” Amy said as she twisted her arms round, unable to move them from her sides with two bands of rope holding them in place, both bands tightened under her arms with shorter lengths of rope. She looked down and watched as Heidi bound her legs tightly together below her knees, her ankles already secured.
“I agree,” Dorothy said as Cindy pulled the ropes tight around her chest, “and I guess it’s only fair we take a turn. What about the rest of you?”
Veronica, Margaret, Katherine, Blossom and Heather nodded as they stood in a line, their arms behind their backs as their wrists were secured by Britney, Alice, Natalie, Jannifer and Margo, while the others looked on. “Just wait until you see what we’ve got planned for you though,” Natalie said as she turned her mother and walked her towards one of the vertical poles...
“It had crossed my mind,” Katherine admitted, “But you would not have tied my wrists first if the was the case – unless....”
“Right first time,” Margo said as she walked Heather over, and sat her on the opposite side of the pole from Katherine. “I guess we’re together in this after all,” Heather said over her shoulder as Katherine moved back, and they felt their bodies being secured around the pole with rope by Natalie, while Margo started to bind their ankles together.
“No complaints from us,” Katherine said as she wriggled her legs to see if there was any give. “You’re getting to be very good at this Margo.”
As this was taking place, Alice and Britney had moved Margaret and Veronica to the far side of the room, and helped them to sit on the floor before they started to tie their arms to their bodies with ropes above and below their chests. Amy and Dorothy had slipped off the couch, and were now lying face down on the floor, while Jannifer had secured her mother’s wrists to her back with a length of rope around her waist before helping her to lie on the now vacant couch.
“Only fair,” Blossom said as she watched Jannifer cross and bind her ankles together, “after all, I’m the one in the room with a baby on the way.”
“I wonder how often Sarah uses that excuse,” Heather said as the room started to erupt with laughter.
“Sorry, did I hear my name,” Sarah said as she came into the room.
“It’s all right, Blossom was playing the bump card.” Amy said as her ankles were secured to her chest rope by Heidi, Cindy doing the honours for her mother. “How are they upstairs?”
“Having fun,” Sarah said quietly, “I’m going to get some coffee. What are you girls going to do.”
“Once we’re done here.” Natalie said as she pulled a knotted silk scarf into her mother’s mouth, securing the ends at the base of her neck before pushing some foam plugs into her ears and blindfolding her, “I’ll take the girls to the watering hole.”
Veronica and Margaret nodded to show their agreement – they had already been bound back to back, gagged, deafened and blindfolded, while Blossom was smiling over her scarf gag.
“Fair enough – I’ll keep an eye on them for you with Kurt and Jack,” Sarah said as the girls trooped out, the mothers relaxing in their confinement. “I’ll see all of you later.”
“Cnttnnt,” Heather said as Sarah closed the door, turning to see Jo and Cassie coming down.
“I think they’re safe on their own up there for now,” they said as Sue came down behind them, “but we’ll check on them from time to time. Are we still pressing ahead with the other idea for tomorrow?”
“Oh yes,” Sarah said with a smile, “I believe you found it most – efficacious.”
“That’s one word for it,” Cassie said with a smile as she saw Lucinda talking to Angela. Walking into the kitchen, she saw Brian sitting there talking to the other men.
“Maria,” Lucinda said as she approached the housekeeper, “I understand the men here are threatening to charcoal some meat tonight, is that correct?”
“I believe that is the case, Your Ladyship,” Maria said as she looked at the three of them. “Well, it is a tradition,” Kurt said as he looked at them, “at least in my family.”
“Good – will you come with me to collect some more supplies then? I suspect everyone will be very hungry tonight?”
“OF course,” Maria said as she removed her apron, and then went with Lucinda, as the girls waved at the others as they passed through the kitchen.
“Oh,” Sarah said as she sat down, “that was new.”
“What was,” Brian said as he looked at her.
“One of them just kicked me.”
Brian smiled as he stood up. “I’ll go and see if I can find the barbecue – Heather said it was in one of the barns.”
“Let me help you,” Cassie said as she went with him, while Jo said to Sue “Do you have a moment?”
“Sure,” Sue said as they went outside and walked to the vegetable garden, “What’s up?”
“Anne – does she realise how Kayla feels about her?”
Sue stopped for a moment, then knelt down and looked at the top of a potato plant. “I don’t think she did before today,” she finally said, “Anne has always been the more private of the two of us, and she can find it difficult to – well, you’ve seen her in action.”
“No I haven’t – but I can tell from looking at her. Tell me if I’m prying, but has there been...”
“Yes, on both counts, but we are a lot like you and Cassie in one respect,” Sue said as she stood up. “If there was any suspicion at work, then...”
Jo nodded, and said “I do understand – but she is very lucky in two respects.”
“She has you,” Jo said as she looked at Sue, “and she has Amy and Dorothy as well. I think she’s going to need your acceptance and help on this one.”
“Well, she’s got that without even asking,” Sue said, “but this is Anne Duncombe, Federal Agent we’re talking about, not just my sister. She has a lot to learn.”
Jo nodded and they resumed their walk in silence.
Angela turned round to see Chloe standing in the doorway, her arms folded as she looked at her.
“Hey,” Angela replied as she put her magazine down, “What’s up?”
Chloe closed the door and came in, sitting next to Angela as she looked at her. “You asked what happened at the bank?”
“I did,” Angela said as she turned to face the young French woman, “but I also said to come when you were ready to tell me.”
Chloe nodded, and then said “I have changed since we have last met – and not just because of what happened to me, Coral and the girls. That night, when Sarah saw the spirits – I saw them too.”
“You saw then as well? How many?”
“The women not so clearly, but the man very clearly – he looked very like the portrait I saw at the Manor that day, and he looked at me and nodded. Soon after that – something happened.”
Chloe started to tell Angela about the events of the time after her kidnapping, of the changes in her, and of how she had rescued the hostages in the bank, saving Joanne and Alexa in the process.
When she had finished, Angela sat back and thought for a moment. “Thank you,” she eventually said, “for trusting me with this. I know it could not have been easy.”
“No thank you,” Chloe said with a smile, “I need someone of my own age to talk to, and I feel you would understand more than most.” The two of them embraced, unaware of Sarah and Sue watching from the now open door.
“That does smell good,” Cassie said as she joined Jo at the barbecue, watching Brian as he started to prepare the meat. “I guess one stereotype about Aussies can be allowed.”
“Don’t tell Sarah that,” he said with a smile as he looked at them. “You know, I can’t shake the feeling we have met before. Have we?”
“I don’t think we have formally,” Jo said as she sat down with a glass of wine, “but then Cassie and I have visited some interesting places in our career.”
“I can imagine – anywhere you can talk about?”
Cassie looked at Jo, and then said “Well, there was that bar in Manila – do you remember Jo?”
“Oh yeah – you and I had just gone in for a quiet drink, to celebrate something we had just done. Now what was it?”
“Something about coming to the aid of an army unit that had got into trouble with guerrillas, if I remember rightly,” Cassie said as she sipped on a beer, Brian starting to put some steaks on the barbecue. “Anyway, we were sitting there, enjoying a drink, when one or two of the locals felt it would be a good idea to remonstrate with us for wearing trousers.”
“That’s right – I remember now. We were doing well, until one of them produced a machete and cornered us against the bar – but what was it that happened after that?”
Cassie thought for a moment, before saying “OH yeah – the lights went out, and when they came back on again he was lying on the floor, writhing in agony, and the machete was buried in the wall. Funny thing – there was a guy drinking at the bar before the fn began, but when the lights went off and on again, he was gone.”
“That’s right,” Jo said, “and there was another funny thing. He spoke with an Australian accent, and he would have been about your height.”
They both looked at Brian, who was concentrating on the food. “Sounds a little spooky,” he eventually said, “but if I was in that unit, and happened to be drinking at a bar in Manila when two people he recognised came in, then I would have wanted to thank them for their help. It would only be fair, right?”
“Yeah, it would only be fair. Will you drink a toast with us?”
Brian opened a can of beer and said “To fallen comrades in arms.” He raised his can, Jo and Cassie returning the gesture, and took a long, deep drink.
“Now then,” he said as he saw the girls returning from the watering hole, “I think you should see to your charges.”
“Of course,” the two women said as they walked into the house, and up to the attic...
“It is a little early for bed, is it not Andrea,” Chloe said as she saw her friend come down the stairs with Coral, still wearing her sleepsuit.
“Perhaps, but it is not worth changing now,” Andrea replied with a smile as Alexa and Joanne followed after her, holding each other’s hands.
“And I trust you have spent an enjoyable day,” Chloe said, the two girls nodding as they made their way outside. “Where are Anne and Miss Smith,” she then said as Sue walked down.
“They will join us shortly, they have some things to discuss,” was all Sue said as they walked through the kitchen and outside, where the girls were sitting on the grass and talking as they ate.
“Well, it has been a most productive day,” Lucinda said as she sat with Angela, “I do believe they are making a remarkable recovery.”
“So what are the plans for tomorrow?”
“Well,” Lucinda said with a smile, “the girls will be staying here with Heather. Her mother is bringing their gymnastics coach over – I understand they have some unfinished business, and Sarah will be staying with Brian to help them. As for the rest of us – well, we shall all take a trip to the local shopping mall tomorrow.”
“Sounds interesting,” Angela said as she watched the others, and then stood up. “What are we shopping for?”
“Presents,” Lucinda said with a smile as she looked at Sarah and Brian.
“Right, final check ladies. Car keys?”
“Check,” Amy, Veronica and Katherine said.
“All purses, cards and check books in place?”
“All properly attired?”
The women nodded as they gathered around the table. Unusually, Anne Duncombe was wearing a knee length blue skirt instead of pants, and a white roll necked sweater under a blue blouse. She also had a big smile on her face, as did Kayla, who was wearing a flowing brown gypsy skirt and chunky sweater.
Coral was wearing a blue denim dress over a back jumper, while Joanne and Alexa were wearing shorter black skirts over leggings. Joanne had a long white t-shirt on over a black top, while Alexa was wearing a black waistcoat over a white blouse.
Two things were also similar about the five of them – they let out the occasional sigh, and as they stood up they all gasped a little.
“Hey Aunt Heather,” Natalie said as she came in, “is it my imagination or are there crickets outside?”
“In November?” Heather shook her head as she stood at the sink and said “No – the heating control is acting up a little. I’ll have a look at it later. You girls ready?”
“Ready as we’ll ever be,” Natalie said. She was dressed for a gymnastics lesson, her blue leotard over a black body stocking. “Do you want to come and finish our preparations?”
“I’ll be there in a minute,” she said as Margaret and Jack sat down with Blossom and Kurt. “You sure you don’t want to join us?”
“Nope – we need to be here,” Blossom said. “Go – others have our shopping list.”
“Right then,” Katherine said as she headed for the door, and slipped on a pair of short black boots, “Let’s do this.” The kitchen rapidly emptied as the party headed for the cars, along with Chloe, Angela and Andrea.
“Peace at last,” Heather said as she dried her hands. “I’ll go and make sure all the girls are ready.”
She followed Natalie out of the room as Margaret and Blossom watched. When Natalie was out of earshot, Margaret sighed and said “My god – when Lucinda suggested we tried this, I did not think it would be so...”
“Stimulating,” Blossom said as she wriggled a little. “It is different- but it could be much worse. We could be one of the five who were in the attic yesterday.”
Margaret nodded as Kurt looked at Jack. “Remind me why we agreed to do this to them,” he said with a smile.
“Because they asked, and because it is fun,” Jack said with a laugh as the door opened and Roberta came in, alongside Elena Durban. Elena was wearing a grey jogging suit with a sleeveless padded jerkin over it, as she looked at the others.
“Hi,” she finally said as she slipped out of her sheepskin boots, Roberta sitting down to remove her brown leather ones, “Where is everyone?”
“Most of them have gone to the mall,” Heather said as she came back in, “but some are still here. Elena, will you come with me? Sarah was wondering if she could have a word with you.”
Blossom looked at Elena and said “It’s all right – go and talk to her. We’ll get some coffee going while you do so.” She stood up, sighing slightly as she walked to the sink and filled the coffee pot with water.
“This way,” Heather said as she led Elena to the front room. As they walked in, Sarah was sitting on the couch, reading a book, which she put down as they came in.
“Hello Elena,” she said with a smile, “I wanted to give you a chance to talk to me before you saw the girls.”
“What about,” Elena said as Heather left, closing the door behind them.
“Well, the others tell me you had a – shall we say, traumatic experience when you were younger. I’ve spoken to some of the others about their experiences that weekend, and they thought it would be good if you talked to me about your experiences – a type of intervention, if you will.”
Sarah sat down and indicated to Elena to sit next to her. As she sat down, Sarah took her hands and held them, before saying “Now, why don’t you tell me what happened all those years ago...”
“They’ve been in that room for an awfully long time,” Roberta said as she nursed a coffee in her hand, “What do you think they are doing?”
“Talking,” Blossom said as she looked towards the door. “It’s a bit difficult to describe, but when Sarah sits with you and holds your hands, you...”
“You just feel as if you need to get everything off your chest,” Margaret said with a nod. She took hold of Jack’s hand and said “No disrespect to you, lover, but some things can only be discussed between women.”
“None taken,” Jack said as he kissed his wife, and then looked up as Elena came back in with Sarah. Her eyes were red, as she walked up and silently hugged Roberta, whispering “Thank you” as she did so.
“You’re welcome” Roberta said as she hugged the young woman back, nodding to Sarah as she did so. “Now then, I think you need to come with me and see what your young charges are up to.”
“When did you change,” Elena said as she looked at Roberta. The older woman was now wearing a dark grey body stocking under a long grey t-shirt, as well as a pair of long white socks covering her feet and the bottom of her legs.
“While you were talking – come with me,” she said as she led Elena to the smaller front room – the one with the three poles in it. As they walked in, Elena looked at the seven girls and said “Oh my – the all are quite flexible in their own way, aren’t they?”
The girls turned and nodded in the direction of the noise – the sleep masks covering their eyes made any chance of them seeing who else was with Miss Dunbar minimal. She knelt first next to Britney and Margo, who were sat back to back on the floor, dressed in their light blue leotards and white tights.
They had their arms pulled back and around each other’s waists, their wrists tied together below the navel of their sister, while their arms were secured together where they crossed. There was also a length of rope around their waists, holding them together. They were sitting in the lotus position, their ankles crossed and secure to each other as well as each other’s wrists. Finally, a length of white tape covered their mouths.
“Well,” Elena said with a laugh, “I must say, this is an excellent if unusual way to maintain your flexibility. Does it hurt at all?”
“Nmsmsdnbr” Britney mumbled as her lips moved under the tape. “Good – let me look to your sister now,” Elena said as she walked over to where Jannifer was lying on the floor, next to Heidi and Cindy. They were all wearing their gym kit as opposed to gymnastics wear, Jannifer in her soccer strip of light blue top and white shorts, with light blue knee length socks, while Heidi and Cindy were both wearing t-shirts and knee length shorts.
“Hllmsdnbr” Heidi said as she looked in the direction of the soft footsteps, mumbling through the knotted red scarf that was tied into her mouth. The way her cheeks bulged out indicated there was more stuffing hiding under the knot, as seemed to be the case with the other two girls as well. Their arms were arranged in a box behind their backs, ropes holding their wrists to their elbows and their forearms together, while there were bands of rope around their upper arms and chest, forcing them against their bodies.
More rope was tied around their ankles and legs, while their ankles had been pulled back and secured to their forearms as well. “How stiff is it feeling,” Roberta said as she checked the ropes holding each of the girls in a hogtie.
“Cldddwfrst,” Heidi mumbled through the gag
“I agree – just let me check on the other two first.”
“Well, I really am impressed with both of you,” Elena said with a laugh as she looked at Natalie and Alice. Both girls were lashed to one of the poles, their feet in the air as their heads rested on cushions on the floor. Alice was wearing a red leotard over an electric blue body suit, as she tried to move in response to the voice. Her legs were wrapped round the poles, her ankles crossed and secured on one side while her legs were tied below the knees on the other. There was rope around her thighs, calves, waist and chest, with her wrists also crossed and bound on the opposite side of the pole from her head.
Nats was bound in a similar way, as she turned and mumbled through the brown plaster covering her mouth “fnnkkfndnfgrn.”
“I agree,” Roberta said as she stood behind the pole. “Elena, give me a hand to make sure these two are freed so that they don’t hurt themselves.” The young woman nodded as she knelt and supported Natalie’s head and shoulders, pulling her gently away from the pole as Roberta removed the ropes and her legs slid down.
“Thtssbtr,” she said as Elena peeled the tape away, and then helped again by drawing out the sponge that was sitting in her mouth. “Hi Miss Dunbar – as you can see, we’ve been keeping up our training.”
“So I see,” Elena said as she helped Alice to come down from the pole. “Don’t sit up so quickly – remember, you need to let the blood settle first.”
“At least,” Alice said as she worked her mouth. “Is there any chance of a drink, Mrs Reid?”
“Of course,” Roberta said as Elena started to untie the two girls. As she did so, she said “What about the others?”
“Not yet,” Alice said as Heidi and Cindy shook their heads, “They have a small bet on.”
“But Heidi said she would need a break soon...”
“And she will get one, Miss Dunbar – we’ll take care of them. Before that however, we need to thank you for not getting Chloe into trouble at the school.”
“It’s all right – I just had a few personal hang ups about what was happening, but I’m getting over them.”
“Good – because Alice and I have a challenge for you – and Grandma.”
“They do,” Roberta said as she brought a tray of drinks in, and set it down on the coffee table, “which is why we felt it was important you spoke to Sarah first. They want to see which of us can escape from their ropes first.”
Elena looked at the girls, as well as Roberta, who was standing there smiling. “All right – I can trust you to be gentle with both of us,” she finally said.
“I wouldn’t be sure of that – but now you know why I changed,” Roberta said as the two girls stood up. “How do you want us?”
“Kneeling down, hands behind your back,” Natalie said as she and Alice sorted some ropes out. As they knelt, Elena said “When I spoke to Sarah earlier, somehow all my fears seemed to melt. How does she do that?”
“It’s a gift,” Roberta said as her granddaughter crossed her wrists behind her back, and started to bind them together with a length of rope, Alice doing the same for Elena. They kept talking, sharing stories from years ago as the girls systematically secured their arms to their sides, the bands of rope stretching their tops over their chests before they were cinched with shorter lengths of rope, pulling the two bands together under their arms. They then felt their ankles being crossed and secured, before they were helped to lie down, their heads resting on the two pillows Alice and Natalie had already used.
As Alice tied her legs together, below her knees, Elena turned to Roberta and said “How long?”
“How long have they played these games? Ask them later – you’ll stay for dinner, of course?”
“Am I going to be able to get away in time – these ropes are very secure,” Elena said as she tried and failed to find a knot.
“We’ll see,” Natalie said as she pulled her grandmother’s legs back, her ankles almost touching her bottom as she tied them to the chest ropes.
“You’ve still got it,” Elena said as she felt her own legs been pulled back and secured in the same way.
“Of course I can – I’m not over the hill yet,” Roberta said with a laugh.
“Well, fancy getting back into coaching? I have this team of young gymnasts that could use some expert tuition.”
Roberta looked over at her protégé, before saying “It would be as an assistant – this is your team.”
“Discuss later,” Natalie said as she held a squashed sponge ball in front of her grandmother’s mouth, “time for silent attempts.”
Elena looked at Alice and Natalie, then nodded and opened her mouth to allow Alice to push her sponge into her mouth, then to seal her lips with tape before the sleep mask was put in place. Natalie blindfolded Roberta, before saying “Right – have fun,” before they moved to the other girls and started to untie them...
“Wow, you did a real number on them,” Heidi said as she walked over and checked the ropes on the two older women. “Are you sure they can take it?”
“Come on – once a gymnast, always a gymnast,” Natalie said as she picked up a glass and started to drink from it.
“Hey, can we tickle them,” Margo said as she stretched her legs out, “I still haven’t forgotten how...”
“Not at the moment, no.” The girls turned to see Heather standing in the doorway, smiling as she watched her mother wriggling on the floor. “I need some vegetables brought in for tonight’s dinner – can you girls go and fetch some potatoes, carrots and greens for me?”
“Oh must we,” Natalie said with a slight pout. “It’s cold outside.”
“Well put some joggers or other clothes on, but yes – we need it. On you go. After that,” she said as she looked at Jannifer, the twins and Alice, “You have a small job to do for your mothers before they have a chat with Elena.”
Elena nodded as she felt the hands untying the ropes holding her ankles to her chest, and heard Heather say “Time is up, as they say. How do you feel?”
“Nttbd – rllxd,” she mumbled as she slowly stretched her legs out, and the sleep mask was removed from her eye. She could see Roberta untying her legs beside her as she felt the ropes being removed one by one from her body, and eventually was able to rub her arms and wrists.
Reaching up, she peeled the tape away from her mouth, and eased the sponge out from behind her teeth. “Wow,” she eventually said as she accepted a glass of water from Heather, “that was one experience I never thought I would actually enjoy again.”
“I have heard sports psychologists,” Roberta said as she worked her jaw, “say that when athletes injure themselves using a piece of equipment, the best thing they can do is use that equipment again, or else the fear cripples them somewhat. I guess we just proved that was the case as well.”
“Natalie said Heidi described it as riding a bike – if you fall of, you have to get on again or you never will.” Heather handed her mother a drink, before saying “All of us at one time or another have had similar experiences – to a greater or lesser degree. Anyway, when you two have stretched out, Margaret and Blossom are waiting with their husbands.”
“Yeah – I owe them a huge apology,” Elena said with a small smile.
“Oh I think they might be willing to accept it,” Heather said with a smile. “They’re in the front room – I need to go and start cooking the dinner before the others get back.”
A few minutes later, Roberta and Elena walked into the front room to find Margaret and Blossom sat side by side, their arms behind their backs. Elena could see the rope around their waists and stomachs, holding their arms to their sides, as well as around their ankles and legs.
“The girls did this to us,” Blossom said, “so that you knew that when they play the games, they do so with our full knowledge. I know you had some issues with that, Elena, and we need to know if that is still the case.”
“Well, I can’t pretend I didn’t,” Elena said as she sat down, “but I don’t have issues any more. What I have is an apology – to you and to them. Where are they anyway?”
“Making preparations for tonight, I believe,” Margaret said before she let out a sigh, “they are going to be sleeping together in the attic tonight. The question we have to ask is, will you stay with them?”
Elena thought for a moment, before nodding and saying “On one condition, Chloe stays as well.”
“It was Chloe who suggested it,” Blossom said with a smile. “Now, about the Gymnastics team.”
“Ah - that you need to discuss with my new assistant coach,” Elena said as she looked at Roberta. “She can handle any of your queries...”
“Oh really?” Margaret and Blossom looked at each other and smiled as the four women started talking.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen the shopping party had started to return, greeting Heather and Maria as they worked on the meal.
“Did you manage to find what I asked for, Miss Veronica,” Maria said as her employer came in.
“Oh yes we did,” she said with a smile, “but we need to hide this lot away before Sarah and Brian get back.”
“Oh? Where did they go?”
“Back to their house to collect something,” Cassie said as she and Jo came in. “That smells good – what is it?”
“New England Fish Pie,” Heather said as she opened the oven door. “When in doubt and you have a large group, do something everyone can dig into – there’s a pork casserole for the meat eaters amongst us as well.”
“Thanks,” Angela said as she came in and heard that, “Clams and I tend to disagree.”
“Oh – they fight with you?”
“With my stomach,” she said with a smile as Chloe followed her in. “Still, I’m sure it will taste as nice as it smells....”
“Any of the Cranberry pie left?”
“You’ve had three slices already, Nats,” Heidi said as Heather handed her niece another slice. “Yeah, but my aunt makes the best fruit pies,” Natalie said as she started to eat the final piece, while Veronica and Dorothy started to collect the dishes for washing up.
“Well, if you ladies will excuse me,” Lucinda said as she stood up, “I intend to go into the front room and let that wonderful meal digest. What about the rest of you?”
“We’ll join you shortly,” Katherine said as Angela, Jo and Cassie went with her, “we need to take care of the kids first.”
“Take care of us? What do you mean take care of – Mum are you all right?” Andrea looked at Coral, who had closed her eyes for a moment and seemed to be struggling over something.
“Hmmmmm – no, no I’m fine. Better than fine actually,” Coral eventually said. “No, we know you girls are planning to have a slumber party upstairs, and we want to make sure everything is in place for the evening.”
“Everything – the sleeping bags, the pillows, the ropes, the tape...”
“All of us?”
“No, mon ami,” Chloe said as she looked at Joanna and Alexa, “I will personally take care of both of you before I join the younger girls, but Andrea has kindly agreed to be a chaperone as well.
“Thanks,” Joanna said as she shivered. Sue allowed herself a little smile as Anne said “Will you excuse us for a moment,” following her sister as she and Kayla walked out of the kitchen and into the back yard.
“What about them,” Veronica said as the door closed behind them.
“We’ll go and see how they are in a little while,” Amy said as she stood up. “Right – girls, come with me, sort out your bedding, and then washed and changed into whatever you are wearing.”
“OH that’s easy,” Cindy said with a smile, “We’re all going to copy Andrea again tonight.”
“OH NO!” Natalie, Alice and Jannifer screamed in unison, “NOT SLEEPSUITS!!!”
“Not following the way she dresses,” Cindy said with a sigh, “the way she is going to spend the night. Come on – we’re going to be in the attic.”
Anne turned to see Sue standing behind her and Kayla, leaning against the wall with her arms folded as she smiled at them.
“Oh – hi Sue,” Anne said with a faint smile on her lips, “You must be wondering....”
“Not really – You know how I feel about you, Anne, and that all I want is for you to be happy, especially after that weekend. So I only have one question really.
Anne looked at Kayla, before nodding and saying “I hope so – but I’m one hell of a difficult person to get to know.”
“You’re talking to the expert clammer upper,” Kayla said as she smiled back at Anne. “I’ve got the time if you have.”
Anne just nodded as Sue smiled at both of them. “Look, if you want, I know what Chloe has planned for Alexa and Joanne. Want to try it?”
“What do you think,” Anne said as she looked at Kayla, “We will be close for the night.”
“I’d like that,” Kayla said with a little smile, as Sue nodded and left them alone...
“There – I am ready now,” Andrea said as she looked at Carol. She was dressed as usual for bed, in a one piece sleepsuit, this one with a pattern like a Leopard, complete with matching mittens.
She was lying on a sleeping bag on a roll up mat, her wrists crossed and secured together in front of her with rope, while there were bands of rope around her shoulders, chest, waist, legs and ankles.
“Good,” Coral said as she closed the sleeping bag around her, and then secured the bag around her with more ropes, “where are the other girls anyway?”
She could hear some muffled discussions coming from the stairway, as the door opened, and Amy came in with Heidi, followed by Dorothy and Cindy, Margaret and Alice, Katherine and Natalie, and finally Blossom and Jannifer.
“I really think you’re going to regret this,” Katherine said as she looked at her daughter, who had a dressing gown draped over her upper body.
“We’ll be all right Mum,” Natalie said quietly, “so long as the kids don’t see us like this.”
“Britney and Margo are still getting washed and changed,” Blossom said as she helped Jannifer to sit down on a sleeping bag, crossing her daughter’s ankles before she started to tie them together. “Just make darned sure you don’t get up while they are awake.”
“Don’t worry, Mum,” Jannifer said as she looked at Andrea, who was having a sleep mask pulled over her eyes by Coral, “they won’t see it either with any luck.”
“Well – all right,” Blossom said as she tied Jannifer’s legs together, and then removed her dressing gown. As she did so, the ropes around Jannifer’s upper body were revealed, holding her arms tightly to her bare upper body as her crossed wrists rested on her belly. Laying herself down, she watched as her friends were all disrobed, and helped to lie down before the sleeping bags were closed over their bound and topless bodies.
“Snug,” Natalie said with a smile as she watched her mother fold a small cloth, “thanks for agreeing to let us try this Mum.”
“Well, it’s a once only thing,” Katherine said as she knelt next to Nats, “So open wide and let’s get you comfy.” She pushed the cloth into her daughter’s open mouth before covering it with tape, and then pushing a pair of earplugs into place. As a sleep mask was placed over her eyes, the others were similarly silenced and blindfolded before more ropes were used to tie the sleeping bags around them.
“Wow – we really are going nowhere, aren’t we,” Britney and Margo said as they were brought in by Angela. They were both wearing cotton pyjamas, but they were bound in the same way as the older girls. Blossom smiled and nodded as she helped Angela to put them into their sleeping bags, making sure they were snug and secure before gagging and blindfolding them – but without a cloth in their mouths.
“I’ll be up to look after both of you in a little while,” Angela said as the girls all wriggled round, “Stay safe until then...”
As the mothers walked down the stairs, Blossom said to Coral “How do you feel?”
“As if I want to scream with pleasure every five minutes,” Coral said before biting her lower lip. “Some therapy – I feel as if all my inhibitions are melting away.”
“What will Frank think when you get home?”
Coral just smiled as she looked at Katherine. “This is where I wish George and Frank were here.”
“One thing at a time,” Katherine said with a smile as they walked back into the front room, where Kurt and Jack were handing out drinks. “What can I get you,” Jack said to Margaret when she came in.
“A large Screwdriver,” Margaret said as she sat down. “So what are you talking about?”
“Wedding plans, I’m afraid,” Lucinda said as she looked at Sarah, “but we can postpone that for now. Are all the girls settled?”
She watched as Blossom nodded, before she said “Very good – then we can be a little more frank than usual. How do all of you feel?”
“How the heck do you think,” Joanne said as she looked at Alexa, “You really wore these for two days.”
“It was worse than that,” Cassie said as she looked at Jo, “Our ones had remotes to adjust the rate.”
“It was – quite a sight to behold,” Anne said before she gasped out. “But I know how you truly felt now...”
“On which note,” Chloe said as she stood up, “I believe it is time for both of you to come upstairs as well.” She looked at Joanne and Alexa, who nodded as they stood up.
“I think we’re going to retire as well,” Anne said as she stood up and took Kayla’s hand. “Sue?”
Sue nodded as she followed them out of the room, the others watching as the door closed behind them. “About time she had some happiness,” Dorothy said as she hugged Amy, “In all the years I’ve known her, I’ve never known a more dedicated and lonely woman.”
“Amen to that,” Veronica said quietly.
“I need to go as well,” Elena said as she stood up, “Thank you all – for everything.”
“Let me walk you out,” Roberta said as she escorted the young woman from the room, leaving the others talking...
As she closed the door to the bedroom, Chloe said “You may now change into what you plan to wear tonight, and remove the items you have had to endure today.”
“I’d almost got used to it,” Alexa said as she sat on the bed, pulling off her boots and jeans, and then untying the crotch rope before she removed her panties, the dark damp stain clearly visible. As she removed the device from between her legs, she let out a long deep sigh and slumped back onto the bed.
Alexa nodded slowly as Joanne knelt between her legs and kissed her damp clit, making her girlfriend shudder in pleasure. “Ahhhh Do you know how much I’ve wanted that today,” she moaned as she looked at Joanne.
“As much as I have,” Joanne said as she stood up and unfastened her skirt, allowing it to drop to the floor and revealing the damp stain on her leggings. Pulling them down, she too removed her crotch rope and device, closing her eyes and letting her head drop as Alexa returned the favour.
“So what will you be wearing tonight,” Chloe said as she started to prepare a collection of ropes.
“Nothing – and we wish to please each other throughout the night,” Alexa whispered before she stood up and kissed her girlfriend.
“Naturellement, if you will finish your preparations?”
The two young women looked at each other, helping each other to strip down, before they embraced and kissed.
“I know you have had one on all day,” Chloe said as she handed them each a length of rope, “but we will begin by each of you replacing the crotch rope.”
“Will you,” Joanne said with a smile as she raised her arms, allowing Alexa to tie the rope around her waist and between her legs. She let out a low gasp as the rope pulled against her sensitive spot, and then returned the favour.
“Now, enjoy each other,” Chloe said. They needed no encouragement, as they embraced again, not noticing as Chloe crossed and bound Alexa’s wrists together, and then secured them down to the crotch rope rising up between Joanne’s cheeks. Securing Joanne’s wrists behind Alexa’s back, she then watched as they looked into each other’s eyes, and started to kiss each other, rocking their wrists up and down.
“Mmmmmmmssgdgdddd” Joanne moaned as Chloe started to bind their upper bodies together, around their waist and then their shoulders. “When you are ready,” she then said “walk over to the bed and make yourselves comfortable.”
The two girls shuffled to the side, moaning as the ropes rubbed against their clits, and then fell onto their sides on the bed, giggling and moaning as they slid themselves up.
“So did you get the special thing we asked you for?”
“The double ball gag,” Chloe said as she held up the linked red balls and straps. “But first, your legs.”
The two girls nodded as Chloe crossed their ankles and bound them, watching as they kissed each other and continued to move their hands. Binding their legs together and to each other at their knees, she took hold of the gags and said “Open wide, my friends, and then I will leave you to enjoy the night.”
“One last kiss?”
“With our lips,” Alexa said as they pressed their mouths together, and then allowed Chloe to slip the ball gags into their mouths, buckling them tightly round their mouths. The two balls were linked by a small chain, which clinked as they continued to arouse each other, Joanne screaming out before Alexa and then relaxing before they started again.
In another room, Sue watched as Anne and Kayla sat side by side on the bed.
“Can we remove them now,” Anne asked her sister, sighing as Sue nodded and she reached into her panties, pulling out the vibrator as Kayla did the same.
“That feels better,” Kayla said with a sigh, then looked at Anne. “How do you manage to cope?”
“I barely did – when we did this with Lucinda and the others, I saw the effect, but...”
Sue leaned against the wall, and said “Look, it’s not really any of my business, but I’m guessing all this is as new to you as it is to my sister, right Kayla?”
Kayla nodded shyly as she put her hand on Anne’s. “I haven’t felt free to admit this until now, but after all that’s happened, the things I have talked about, the fun today...”
“Yeah,” Anne said quietly, “but I can be a very difficult person to get to know.”
“Tell me about it,” Sue said, which at least made Anne laugh. “Look, I’m going to bind you both, but not to each other. You can start, however, by helping each other to undress.”
Kayla smiled shyly as she took hold of Anne’s blouse, and slowly unfastened it, Anne smiling as she slipped it down her arms. She then allowed Kayla to lift her jumper up, pulling it over her head and dropping it on the floor, before she gave Anne a gentle kiss on her neck.
“My turn,” Anne said as she eased the jumper over Kayla’s head, revealing her blue bra, and then took her head in her hands, smiling before she kissed the doctor.
“Now your skirts,” Sue said as she started arrange the rope, watching as they both stood up and slipped the skirts down their legs. “Now, Kayla, do you trust Anne?”
“I think so, yes.”
“Then allow her to bind you,” Sue said as she handed her sister a length of rope.
“What else will she do?”
“Hush,” Anne said as she walked behind Kayla, stroking her arms and kissing her neck and shoulders while unfastening her bra. Kayla slid the garment off her arms and let it drop to the floor, offering no resistance as Anne crossed and tied her wrists together behind her back.
“Do you know how many nights I dreamt of this,” Kayla said as Anne took more rope, using them to fashion a rope bra that forced the young woman’s chest up and out.
“No, but thank you,” Anne said as she reached round, her hands gently caressing Kayla’s chest as her lips travelled down her back. Kayla closed her eyes and moaned at the caress, saying “But I cannot...”
“Shhhh,” Anne said as her hands moved down Kayla’s body, and stroked her between her legs, making her shudder as she sat on the bed. Anne knelt in front of her, smiling before her lips enclosed her left breast and sucked gently on her nipple.
As Anne did this, she reached round and unfastened her own bra, letting it fall to the floor and crossing her wrists behind her back, while Sue knelt behind her and started to bind her wrists together.
Kayla started to moan at the caress, and then opened her eyes as Anne moved back. “I need to return the favour,” she panted, Anne nodding silently as Kayla shuffled forward and started to kiss her neck and lips, allowing Sue to bind her sister’s arms and chest in a rope bra as well.
“Oh that feels – different,” Anne said as she looked at Kayla. “In a nice way, though.” She started to lean over, only to be taken by surprise when Kayla slipped off the bed, looking into Anne’s eyes before she started to kiss her chest.
“You two need to get a room – oh, wait a minute, you’re in one,” Sue said as she rolled up two bandanas. “Now, Anne will tell you I use many gags, but today I’m keeping it to a simple cleave gag.”
“Unusual for you,” Anne said with a smile.
“Well, how else can you explore each other if you cannot use your lips? Now, hop up on the bed – I’ll cross and tie the ankles of each of you, and then gag you, and leave you alone.”
The two women got off the floor and knelt facing each other on the bed, sharing soft kisses as Sue bound their ankles, before pulling the rolled up cotton scarves between the lips of each of them.
“Whdhwwdn,” Kayla said as she looked at Anne.
“Now,” sue said as she walked to the door, “You begin.” She smiled at both of them, and then left, closing the door behind her.
“Llldn,” Anne said as she fell over onto her side, watching Kayla as she allowed herself to fall over. The young doctor started to giggle, and then to gasp as Anne moved down and kissed her damp, sensitive lips between her legs.
“Whtrudnngggg MGDDDDD” Kayla screamed as Anne’s lips and tongue brought her far more quickly to the edge than she had ever experienced before. She threw her head back as years of held back feelings were finally released, and Anne’s cloth gag was soaked by more than just her saliva.
Eventually, Kayla looked at Anne as she moved her head back up, a huge grin over her gag as she nodded, then moved her own head down, Anne gasping and moaning in response...
“No – never again. It just did not feel right.”
Katherine looked up as Nats walked into the kitchen, alongside Heidi and Cindy. They had each pulled a t-shirt on and were rubbing their arms
“So you’re starting to rise? Are the twins up yet?”
“Not yet – we’ll wake them when Jannifer and Alice are up. We needed to make sure they didn’t see us.”
Heidi sat down and sighed. “No – I mean, I’m glad we did it, but I don’t want to be that uncomfortable again. It just felt...”
Cindy nodded, and said “We’ll keep the clothes on from now on – I don’t even think Alice appreciated it.”
“Well, sometimes the best way to show you something is wrong is to let you do it in a safe way,” Katherine said as she sat down. “So now you’ve taken care of that...”
“Don’t worry Mum,” Nats said as she kicked her bare feet up and down, “but I was wondering if a nature walk would be in order later today. Do you think Aunt Heather could oblige?”
“She’ll be busy – but your grandmother can lead you. Indian style?”
“Blindfolded and gagged, yes. I know we did it earlier in the year, but in the autumn...”
“Very different – all right,” Katherine said as Maria came in, “Help us to sort breakfast out and...”
“Miss Dunbar,” Heidi said as Elena came in with Roberta, “I thought you left last night.”
“I couldn’t – my car decided it would be a good time for the battery to die, so I slept on the couch. Is that fresh coffee?”
Katherine nodded as she stood up and poured two cups. “Did I hear my name mentioned,” Roberta said as she sat down.
“Yeah – Nats was suggesting a nature walk for the girls. Can you lead them – Heather and I need to be here today.”
“Sure – and I presume it has to be barefoot, even in this weather?”
Natalie slimed and nodded. “Oh very well then,” Roberta said with a sigh. “Nobody else up yet?”
“Give them time. Some of them had a rough night,” Katherine said as she looked at the girls, a blush appearing on Cindy’s cheeks.
“Bare feet? But there’s a frost on the ground!”
“So much the better,” Natalie said as she looked at Britney. In deference to the warm weather, the girls were all wearing jeans and jumpers, but their bare feet were wriggling on the cold stone floor.
Joanne, Alexa and Andrea were sitting at the kitchen table, looking at the line of girls as Roberta sorted out some lengths of rope.
“I think you remember from last time,” Natalie said as she stood by Alice. “In a line, one in front of the other, and then the person behind you binds your wrists behind your back.”
“I suppose we are going to be blindfolded as well,” Margo said as he older sister bound her wrists together.
“Of course,” Heather said from the sink, “you need the full sensory experience. Now, when the wrists are tied, tie the rope around her waist, then let Alice take care of you.”
One by one the girls had their wrists tied and secured to their backs, and then the ropes from the wrists tied to the waist rope of the girl behind them.
Once Natalie had been secured, Heather placed a sleep mask over each of the girls, while Katherine sealed their lips with strips of white tape. “Now then,” Roberta said as she pulled a sleeveless jerkin on over her jumper, “I will take the lead, and Elena will come up behind.”
“You two need to be barefoot as well – remember?”
“Damn – busted,” Roberta said with a smile as she slipped off her sheepskin boots, Elena removing her trainers and socks at the same time. “Now then,” she said as she took Margo’s arm, “On three – a one two three...”
The girls started to walk in a line out of the kitchen, passing Brian and Sarah as they came in.
“Going for a walk,” she said as Natalie passed.
“Ysss,” she mumbled through the tape as Elena walked out after her. She felt the cold ground under her feet, but soon got used to the temperature change – the early frost had lifted, and the ground was warming up under the bright autumn sun.
“Angela,” Joanne said as she and Chloe came in, “We were going to get Mum to drive us down to the mall. Would you both like to come – we can get some lunch down there.”
“Sounds good,” Angela said as she sat down. “You don’t need me today, do you Grandmother?”
“No,” Lucinda said as she appeared in the doorway, “you and Chloe should spend some time with the older girls. We have something else we need to do today.” As she said this, Anne and Kayla appeared in the doorway. Anne was wearing a white roll neck sweater over a pair of jeans, and a big smile on her face. Kayla had put on a blue denim pinafore dress over a black jumper, with her legs in a pair of black tights.
“Hey Sarah,” she said as she embraced her, “Glad you could join us again today. Come through to the front room – we have a surprise for you.”
“Dddnfnkitddbscld,” Britney mumbled as the line made their way along the path, the frost covered grass crunching under their bare feet.
“Shhh,” Roberta said as she stopped for a moment, “do you hear that?”
The girls stopped and listened for a moment, and then they heard the birdsong in the tress above. “They’re calling to each other to bring them to food,” Roberta said quietly, as they all also heard a shriller cry.
“Sttthngl,” Margo said as she turned her head round.
“No – no eagles around here. It’s probably a bird at the river, but I’ll tell you as we get closer. Come along.”
“Dntwrreee,” Natalie said as she followed her grandmother, and the other girls, Elena bringing up the rear.
“A baby shower?”
Sarah looked at the assembled women, and the brightly wrapped presents in front of her, as Brian held her hand. Jack and Kurt brought in several bottles of champagne and some glasses.
“Yes, my dear,” Lucinda said as she took Sarah by the arm, and helped her to sit down, “after all, this is possibly the last chance we get to do this before the wedding, and we all felt it was an appropriate way to say thank you.”
“Besides,” Amy said as Brian stood behind his fiancé, “you have no family save Brian, so who else is going to give you presents.”
Sarah was speechless, as one by one the ladies handed them the wrapped parcels, while the men handed round drinks. They all knew she was expecting twins – a boy and a girl – so there were a variety of clothes, toys and other items for them – as well as plenty of stuff for Sarah to paper herself with.
“I... I truly am speechless,” she said as she looked at the pile of gifts. “Thank you – thank you all.”
“Don’t think you’re left out either,” Jack said as he handed Brian a parcel.
“What’s this,” he said as he opened it, and took out...
“Trust me,” Kurt said as Brian looked at the tablet, “You’ll be grateful of that when you’re doing the midnight feed.”
“I was going to breast feed...”
“I don’t advise it,” Kayla said with a smile as she handed Sarah a present, “let the men take their share of the responsibilities.”
“My present,” Lucinda said quietly, “is not here – it will be delivered to the farmhouse in a week or so.”
“What on earth have you... No, don’t tell me, I’ll wait and find out.” Sarah saw Heather beckon to her as she slipped out, and stood up. “If you will excuse me for one moment...”
She walked out of the room, holding her back with her hand and followed Heather to the kitchen.
“Yeah – someone should have warned me about that,” Sarah said as she sat down, “so what’s up.”
“We really haven’t had much of a chance to talk, have we,” Heather said as she sat down, “or for me to properly say thank you for what you did for the girls.”
“It’s – for better or worse, it’s the hand life dealt me,” Sarah said as she sat down, “even though it’s not going to happen for some time.”
“Still, I need to say thank you,” Heather said as she leaned forward, “which is why the main part of my present will be the outdoor furniture I’m making for you for the spring. I hope you can wait for then.”
“Do not say no – I do not take rejection well,” Heather said as she stood up, and walked to a drawer, taking out a slim package wrapped in black paper and handing it to Sarah.
“A present for now – you two are likely to need some help bringing these two up, given your – gifts – and I thought long and hard about what to get you both. Eventually, I found this parenting DVD – I think it’ll be just perfect for you. I even got the person who created it to sign it for you.”
Sarah looked at Heather, and then opened the parcel, looking at the slim case that lay under the paper. Turning it over, she looked at the written message on the back, and then laughed, long and hard.
“It... It... It’s just perfect,” Sarah said as she stood up and hugged Heather, “Thank you.”
The back of the DVD of The Incredibles was face up on the table, the message clear to all.
“To Sarah and Brian, who are going to be super parents. Good luck, Brad Bird.”
The fresh scent of pine filled the nostrils of the girls as they gingerly made their way down the forest track. They could hear the brook behind them, the sound of the running water muted by the thin sheet of ice that had formed on the sides, although the fact they had to wade through the ice cold water was not one that they had expected.
“Oh come on,” Roberta said as she led them out onto the lawn at the back of the farmhouse, “a nice invigorating walk will do you all the world of good.”
“Btrffftrfreessng,” Cindy said as she felt the cold stone slabs under our feet.
“All right then,” Roberta said as she led them in, Heather and Sarah looking at them, “What you need is a nice warming foot rub. Elena, take them into the pole room – I’ll be along shortly.”
“Of course,” Elena said as she led them down the corridor and into the exercise room, making them stand in a line as she sorted some more ropes out.
“Whtbbttwrmngftrb,” Margo moaned as Elena untied her from the line, and then made her lie face down on the floor.
“All in good time,” she said as she crossed and bound her ankles, then pulled them up and tied them to her wrists, “all in good time.”
As she released the girls one by one from the line, and then hogtied them, Roberta and Heather carried in two basins of steaming hot water, and a set of flannels. “Now then,” Roberta said as she soaked one flannel in the water, and then laid it on Margo’s feet, “How does that feel?”
“Tfflllsslsssgggddddd,” Margo moaned as the others had the hot flannels placed on their feet, feeling the warmth return to them as the three older women gently washed and massaged them.
“Best thing after a snow walk, a hot foot rub,” Heather said as she massaged Natalie’s feet. “I take it the swimming hole was a little frozen.”
Natalie nodded as she allowed the warm feeling to spread through her, and then gently moved her legs to and fro.
“Well, it looks as if you all had a good time.”
“Wwdddfnksmm,” Natalie said as she heard her mother’s voice.
“Good – a few more minutes, and then you need to wash up for lunch before we head back home – holiday weekend is over.”
“Well, I have to say, everyone does seem a lot happier today.”
Anne nodded as she placed another forkful of mashed potato into her mouth. “We are, Lucinda – I think we have all discovered a great deal.” She gently pressed Kayla’s hand and smiled, a shy smile that almost made Sue choke.
“Sorry – need to get used to this side of you,” she said as she looked at them. Anne looked at her, and suddenly Anne Duncombe, FBI, was back in the room for a second.
“So when do you head back,” Heather asked Cassie.
“We go back Friday,” she replied, “Jo and I will be going up to Sarah and Brian’s place one night for a meal.”
“While Angela and I will visit some of the local points of interest – it will help her with her English exam next year.”
“Fun and education, great,” Angela laughed, as the girls started to clear the table.
“Before you go,” Sarah said quietly, “We have some things for you.” She handed a number of envelopes around the table, the girls watching as they opened them.
“None for you,” Natalie said as she looked at Veronica, Amy and Dorothy.
“We know what they are, and we have already said yes,” Amy said as she hugged Heidi.
“Right,” Heather said as she stood up, “While everyone is in such a good mood, the girls do the washing up, the menfolk can put things away, and the ladies can pack – you need to get going before dark.”
It was the following Wednesday, as Heidi and Cindy made their way to the library.
“I wonder what devilish predicament Chloe has managed to get Nats into for her detention today,” Heidi said as she adjusted the scarf that hung loosely round her neck. The weather had turned bitterly cold, so she was wearing a long sleeved Fair Isle sweater with her jeans, and long brown leather boots.
“Who knows – have you noticed she is getting more ingenious with her binding,” Cindy said. She was wearing a brown and white checked blouse over a white t-shirt, and a long gypsy style skirt with black Ugg boots.
“Still, I expect Nats will be in her secretary gear,” Heidi said as she opened the door to the library and walked through to the rear office. Knocking on the door twice, she walked in – and saw Elena Dunbar sitting in Chloe’s chair.
“Ele... Miss Dunbar. I’m sorry, we were looking for Miss Bandelaine.”
“Chloe has been – called to take care of some personal business,” Elena said as she stood up. “So I agreed to take care of her detention class for her. She had already made sure Natalie was paying full attention, and Alice has begun her time as well.”
Looking round the room, Cindy said “Where are they?”
Elena said nothing, but instead walked over to the large store cupboard and opened it. Inside sat Alice, curled up into a ball in her leotard and slouch socks. She looked round at the two girls and mumbled “Hhhh” through the elastic bandage that was wrapped around her head and mouth. Ropes around her chest held her arms to her sides, as well as her thighs to her stomach and her calves to her thighs.
“It helps keep the body flexible,” Elena said as she closed the door. “Don’t worry – I’ll make sure she gets a good long stretch after that.”
“So that’s Alice,” Heidi said quietly, “but where’s Nats?”
Both Heidi and Cindy looked up, Cindy saying “Oh my,” as they saw Natalie suspended above their heads. She was hanging in a web of ropes, her mouth covered in micropore tape and obviously stuffed underneath. She was also dressed as she usually was – even with the bare feet – but her arms and legs were secured to the web so that she hung spread eagled above them.
“Are you... Are you all right up there,” Heidi said as she watched Nats gently sway to and fro. She nodded and said “Qtrlxxngchully ndntklng.”
“Oh, I would not be too sure about that,” Elena said as she fetched two feather dusters from the drawer, and handed one each to Cindy and Heidi. Nats started to shake her head as the two friends grinned evilly, and reached up...