Heidi Goes to Washington
“Good morning, children, and welcome to another day at our wonderful school. I have a very special announcement to make – our Gymnastics Team have been asked to take part in the National Gala, to be held in Washington DC on the weekend of 8th and 9th of February – a great achievement for Miss Dunbar and her group. Join me in wishing them every success while they represent us.”
As the announcement was made over the loudspeaker, Heidi’s class turned as one and looked at Natalie and Alice. “Hey don’t look at me,” Natalie said as she looked round, her long skirt hiding her bare feet, “First I’ve heard of it. Mind you, I have been away for a couple of weeks. Alice?”
“First I’ve heard of it as well – Miss Dunbar didn’t say anything last week. But – that’s only a week away!”
“I think we need to have a word with our esteemed gymnastics coach,” Natalie said with a smile. “She’s meant to be helping with the magic club tonight.”
“All right,” Elena Dunbar said as she walked down the side of Chloe’s office, “I think that should be a tricky enough challenge for all of you.”
Heidi and Cindy nodded as they looked round, the knotted bandanas tied tightly into their mouths preventing much more than muffled agreement. Heidi was wearing a white jumper, black jeans and knee length brown leather boots, while Cindy was wearing a blue denim short sleeved dress over a grey long sleeved top, and short black felt boots.
The two girls had their wrists crossed and bound behind their backs, and then tied to their waists, while their ankles were crossed and tied tightly together. Their legs were secured above their knees, and then to each other, while a length of rope held them together around their upper bodies.
“I understand you all had a good time at the wedding,” Elena said as she moved on to Natalie. She and Alice were lying face down on the desk top, Natalie facing Alice’s feet and visa versa. They were tightly hogtied, their bare and bound feet secured to the ropes around their chests, and their mouths were filled with a folded scarf that had been taped into place. Natalie nodded as she looked up at her teacher.
“Well, I am glad you got back in time to hear the announcement,” she said as she walked over to Jannifer. The tall girl was sitting in Chloe’s desk chair, her legs folded in front of her and her ankles bound with a rope that went up around the waist of her white smock top. Her arms were pulled up and over her head, and then tied down to the back of the chair with more rope.
“For the record, the first I heard was this morning as well,” Elena said as she picked up a stopwatch. “Kind of our principal not to inform me in advance. Still, do you believe the senior squad can do it?”
“Nleethsnrswqd,” Natalie mumbled as she looked at Elena.
“Oh yes – and believe me, Jannifer’s little sisters were amongst the loudest protestors,” Elena said as she added an extra layer of tape over Jannifer’s lips. “But it s a senior contest, so it’s not allowed. That’s the good news – the bad news is Roberta will be coming as well.”
“Grndmm? Hgrt,” Nats said, the others giggling as she twisted round.
“I have permission slips for all of you,” Elena said as she looked at the readout. “all right then – it is possible for at least one of you to get free and take care of the others, but can you figure out who and how? On your marks, get set – go!”
Heidi and Cindy looked at each other’s wrists over their shoulders, the rope squeaking as it rubbed against their boots, but at first inspection they could not see a way to help free each other. Nats and Alice had the same thought, wriggling down the desk to see if they could reach other’s wrists. Only Jannifer sat still, closing her eyes instead as if she was meditating.
Cindy looked at Heidi, who shook her head as she looked over at the struggling Natalie and Alice. Suddenly, she nodded her head, and tilted it to one side, pulling at the side of Cindy’s gag with her teeth.
“Whtrryutrngng t do heddeee,” Cindy said as her friend slowly began to loosen her gag, and ease the knot out of her mouth, until the soaked knot fell against her chest. Cindy took a moment to catch her breath, then looked at the others and said “Oh, NOW I get it. Let me sort out the thing in you mouth first – log in your eye and all that.”
She started to pull on Heidi’s gag with her own teeth as Nats and Alice wriggled around on the table top. “Not trying to escape,” Elena said as she walked behind Jannifer.
“Xsscessngthertnttscp,” Jannifer mumbled as she smiled under her tape gag.
“Very good,” Elena said as she saw Cindy finally pull the gag free from Heidi’s mouth. The blonde shook her head, before saying “Well, at least you caught on. If we can’t free each other…”
“We can free someone else,” Cindy said as the two girls started to shuffle over on their knees to the desk. Alice glanced over, saw what they were doing and immediately rolled onto her side, wriggling over so that her ankles and chest were right on the edge.
“Now, let’s see what we can do,” Heidi said as she started to pick at the knot holding Alice’s ankles to her chest, while Jannifer opened her eyes and watched.
It didn’t take long for Alice to stretch her legs out, sighing into her tape before she rolled over, and Cindy started to work on the corner of her white band with her mouth. Slowly, carefully, she was able to loosen enough for Alice to rub it against the table top, and peel it away, allowing her to push out the folded scarf.
“Never really get used to the taste of that,” she said as she rolled back over, and started to work on Natalie. Heidi and Cindy waited until she had freed Nat’s wrists and then had herself untied before Alice started to free them, and Natalie took care of Jannifer.
“Hey – I never told you guys about this weird dream I had,” Heidi said as she finally stood up and stretched. “I dreamed I was somehow in a party in England, and I met a lot of other characters – girl detectives, nymphs, and even an archaeologist. The really funny thing was I remember talking to someone about doing adverts for things where people are tied up – maybe we can try doing that some time?”
“Hold that thought,” Natalie said as she stretched out. “Thanks, Miss Dunbar – so this trip?”
“I’m taking you three and Fi Hanson with us.”
“Fi Hanson – she’s in the year below us, isn’t she,” Jannifer said as she stretched her own legs out.
“Yeah, but she’s at your standard. Anyway, Roberta and I go as coaches, and I have room for two assistants – interested?”
Heidi and Cindy looked at Elena, before they said “But we’ve missed a week already, and…”
“And this is an educational trip – you will visit the Smithsonian and other national monuments during the day. So, go home and ask your parents, and let me know in the morning, all right? I need to book train tickets for the journey.”
“Washington? Well, so long as it helps with your American History work, we can agree to that. I think we need a weekend to ourselves after the wedding anyway.”
“Thanks, mum,” Heidi and Cindy chorused as they hugged Amy and Dorothy, and went to their rooms.
“A weekend to ourselves?”
Amy smiled as she said “Well, maybe a day” and then picked up the phone…
“Are you sure there is no other way of doing it?”
“Sadly no,” Roberta said as she sat at the dining table, looking at Katherine and Elena. “Thanks to the principal not saying anything until last week, it has been impossible to get train or plane tickets from here to Washington DC for the weekend, so we need to do this the old fashioned way.
“The school is allowing us to take the minibus, but it is at least an eleven hour drive, so we need to split it over two days. What we propose is to leave midday on the Thursday, travel down towards New York and stop somewhere in Connecticut over night, and then go on to Washington the next day. We get there mid-afternoon Friday, the girls get a chance to relax, and then Saturday and Sunday is the gala.”
“We’ll stop over on the Monday as well – use that to visit the museums,” Elena continued,” and then travel back on the Tuesday. It’s a hell of a trek, but it’s the only way we’re going to make it.”
“Still,” Katherine said quietly, “those girls, on a road trip – and what about Fi? How will her mum and dad feel about it – especially if they get up to their usual tricks?”
“I’ve talked to her parents, and promised them that the girls will behave themselves while we are away. As for Fi herself – she will have a similar training regime to the other three, but some special exercises may be excused.”
“I don’t know,” Katherine said as she shook her head, “a week with those five? She may end up playing the games herself!”
“Might be easier – save some awkward explanations.”
Katherine and Elena looked at Roberta, who smiled and said “Just kidding – let’s cross that bridge if and when we come to it, all right? Anyway, what are you going to be doing while we’re away?”
Katherine blushed as she said “Well, Amy’s invited Anne and Kayla to stay for the weekend, and the rest of us may pop in from time to time…”
The minibus was parked in the parking lot of the school, Elena going over the last checks as a car drew up and parked alongside. As the doors opened, she turned and saw a well built man getting out, wearing a light jacket and trousers with a polo shirt. Alongside him was a tall, red haired woman in a short sleeved jumpsuit, a white scarf tied around her neck and dark glasses covering her eyes.
“Mister and Mrs Hanson,” she said as she walked over and shook their hands, “thanks for bringing Fi’s bags for her.”
“So where exactly will you be staying,” Mrs Hanson said as her husband fetched a case and a sports bag from the trunk of his car.
“We will be staying at a Marriott outside Hartford,” Elena said as she picked up a clear folder from the passenger seat of the minibus, and handed a sheet of paper to them. “Here are the places we will be staying, as well as contact number should you need to either talk to myself or Roberta.”
“And you can assure us they will go to bed early, and there will be no hanky panky?”
“I give you my personal guarantee,” Elena said as Katherine drove into the lot. As she stopped the car, Roberta got out and helped to bring their bags from the trunk before walking to the bus.
“Put them in the back,” Elena said as she opened the rear doors. “Well then,” Mister Hanson said as he put the bags in, “We will see you on Tuesday.”
“Won’t you stay and see Fi off?”
“She know how much we love her,” Mrs Hanson said as she got into the car, “but we have a meeting at the country club to go to. Ciao.”
“Nice couple,” Katherine said as she watched the car drive off, “Real supportive.”
Elena said nothing as Amy and Dorothy arrived, followed by Blossom and Margaret. They all unloaded the bags and put them into the bus, Elena closing the door as the bell for the lunch recess sounded.
“Hey hey hey,” Alice said as she ran out, in her blue tracksuit, “No school for four days!”
“Incorrect,” Elena said sternly, “you will do your homework tonight, and there will be plenty of stretching and other exercises to perform.”
“Just the way I like it,” Alice said as she jumped into the bus, while Jannifer came out, the twins by her side.
“Why can’t we come,” Britney pleaded to her mother as Margo ran up to her.
“Maybe when you’re older,” Blossom said as she hugged them, and the trio of Nats, Heidi and Cindy walked out. They were, like the other two, all wearing tracksuits, as they hugged their mothers and then got on the bus.
“Where’s Fi,” Roberta said, and then she saw a tall, thin, red haired girl walking slowly from the school towards them. She looked as if she wanted to be anywhere but there, as Elena said “Come on Ms Hanson – on the bus with you. We need to set off.”
“Didn’t my parents come to see me off,” she said as she came closer.
“I’m sorry, sweetie,” Roberta said as she out her arm round Fi’s shoulders, “but they had to go somewhere else.”
“They always do,” Fi said with a sigh as she got on.
“Right then,” Roberta said, “let’s get this road trip under way. I’ll call you later, Kath, and you can then call the others.”
“Have fun,” Dorothy called out to Cindy as the two adults got into the front of the minibus, and they set off, their parents waving as they left the schoolyard.
“Right then,” Roberta said as the bus left town, and joined the ME-7 south, “the ground rules for this trip are simple. Rule one – if Elena or I say you need to do something, do it quickly.
“Rule two – you are in your rooms by ten, and up for breakfast at seven thirty, all days, no excuses – except for Sunday. Sunday we have something else planned.
“Rule three – you are representing your school, so remember that. Neither Elena nor I want to spend time writing up misdemeanours.”
“Oh,” Natalie said as she stuck her tongue out, “and what will you do to punish us – keep us in our rooms?”
“If necessary,” Roberta said to her granddaughter. “One more rule – rule 4.”
“Have fun,” Roberta said as she started the DVD player in the bus, and the strains of the opening theme to 1776 came over the speakers.
“Your American History lesson,” Elena called out as the bus continued to head south.
“NO,” Jannifer called, “why this? I hate this – you’d have to tie me to the chair to get me to watch it.”
“Is that an invitation,” Cindy said, and then she caught the bemused look on Fi’s face.
“Joke, Fi, Joke,” Cindy said with a laugh as she watched the shy girl smile, and then turn to look out of the window, while the others watched the musical on the big screen.
“Pit stop,” Roberta eventually said over her shoulder as they pulled off the I-95 into a gas station and shop. As Elena re-filled the bus, the girls went into the store and looked for snacks as well as drinks.
As she watched Fi looking through a selection of cereal bars, Natalie whispered to Heidi “We’re going to have a little problem with Fi – do you think she knows about our special training techniques and relaxation methods?”
“Training methods, pass,” Heidi said as she looked over, “relaxation methods, I very much doubt it. Any idea who she’s sharing with when we get to the hotel?”
“Gran hasn’t said anything, so I guess we’ll find out when we get there,” Nats said as she picked up a bag of trail mix, “but we need to sort something out if we’re going to have any sort of fun of that type during this trip – and I really want to have some fun.”
“Speaking of which,” Heidi said, “you’re wearing trainers?”
“Yes, Kemo Sabay,” Nats said with a wink. “I’m not stupid enough to go barefoot in a place like this.”
Heidi smiled and nodded as Elena came in. “Right girls – make your purchases and let’s get on our way,” she called out as she made her way to the counter. Once all purchases had been made, and they were back in the bus, she started the DVD again and they set off, as the music began.
Do you see what I see
Congress sitting here in sweet serenity
I could cheer
The reason's clear
For the first time in a year
Adams isn't here
The sun is in the sky
A breeze is blowing by
And there's not a single fly
I sing Hosanna, Hosanna
And it's cool
It was nearly six as the bus pulled in front of the Marriott opposite the Connecticut Science Centre. As the porter held the door open, the six girls got out and stretched themselves, while Elena and Roberta supervised the bags as they were loaded onto a trolley.
It seemed to take an age for them to get the key cards to their rooms, before Roberta called them over.
“Right – room allocation is based on a random draw for tonight,” she said as she looked at them. “Natalie, Jannifer – you get to share room 1012.”
“No problemo,” Jannifer said as they took the key cards.
“Heidi, you will share room 1014 with Fi tonight, which means Cindy and Alice get room 1016. I will be in room 1013, and Miss Dunbar…”
“I think we can make it Elena tonight.”
“Very well, Elena will be in room 1015. Now, take your bags, and go up to your rooms, wash and change – we meet for dinner at 7.15.”
On the 10th floor of the hotel, they made their way to their separate rooms, Heidi putting her bag on the floor as Fi threw herself onto the bed.
“Well, this is different,” she said as she looked up at the ceiling.
“I take it it’s your first time away from home like this,” Heidi said as she took out her toilet bag and went into the bathroom.
“Yeah – apart from when I go to visit my grandparents. I usually have to fly on my own then.”
“Oh – where do they live?”
Heidi looked out from the bathroom at Fi. “San Antonio? That’s one hell of a flight to do on your own.”
“Yeah well – Mum and Dad usually pack me off there for the long vacation. I don’t complain – they have a ranch down there, and I get to do all sorts of things I can’t do at home. It’s not like your home – you, Cindy, your mothers, I can tell you love each other very much. I envy you that.”
Heidi looked at the young girl, wondering what she meant by that comment. “Well, we need to get washed and changed for dinner. Do you want to go first?”
“Nah, you go first,” Fi said with a smile as she looked at Heidi, “I want to relax here for a few more minutes.”
As they stepped out of the lift, Heidi and Fi saw Roberta waiting for them. “There you are,” she said as they walked over, “let’s go in.”
Heidi had changed into a pair of jeans and a white blouse, with a pair of black felt boots over the kegs of her trousers, but Fi had only taken off her tracksuit top. As they walked in, they saw the other five waiting at a large round table. For some reason, the other four girls were wearing knee length skirts and jumpers, while Elena had on a green tunic over a pair of black leggings.
“Right then, let’s order – and remember, you four are on a diet.”
“AWWWWW,” Alice, Jannifer, Fi and Nats chorused in unison, but they were slightly mollified when Cindy said “Don’t worry – for the duration of this trip, Heidi and I are on the same diet as you?”
“We are,” Heidi said as she looked at the beef in red wine on the menu, “when did we decide this?”
“When you weren’t in the room,” Alice said as she stuck her tongue out, the others laughing as they ordered their meal. The dinner conversation was centred mainly on the plans for the gala, Heidi and Cindy almost zoning out as Elena went into great technical detail on the routines she wanted each girl to perform.
At about eight thirty, as the plates from the main course were cleared away, Fi stood up and said “I’m sorry, but I really feel tired. Do you girls mind if I go up to my room early?”
“Of course not,” Roberta said as Heidi gave her one of the pass keys. “I’ll try not to disturb you when I come in,” she said as the young girl walked off.
“Now then,” Elena said as she turned back, “I want you three to do your special exercises in your rooms tonight, with Cindy and Heidi helping you. I’ve got a master pass key for all three rooms, so I can keep an eye on you all from time to time.”
“Gotcha,” Cindy said with a smile, “Supplies?”
“I have them in my room – you may collect them when we go up.”
It was about 9.15 when the lift doors opened, and the girls stepped out with Elena. “Let’s meet in our room,” Jannifer said as they headed for the door.
“I’ll be along in a minute,” Heidi said as she made her way to her room, “I want to see if Fi is all right.” Putting the key card in the door lock, Heidi quietly opened the door and went in.
“Just checking if you’re all right, Fi…”
Fi looked up from the bed, a guilty look in her eyes as they looked at Heidi, the rolled up bandana in her mouth muffling her call of “hhoo.”
Heidi stared at the young girl, who was lying on her side on the bed, dressed in a pale blue vest top and shorts. Her ankles were tied together with a length of what looked like skipping rope, and one look told her they were tied very well, with rope between her legs and a nice tight knot behind her legs. A second length of rope was tied around her legs above her knees, and a pair of handcuffs held her wrist together behind her back. A small key was within reach of her hands. As for the bandana, it sat between her lips, her teeth closed over it, but the red was not as deep as that in Fi’s cheeks.
“Oh my,” she finally said, “Who did this to you Fi? Did someone break in and try to steal something?” She started to check her bags and the drawers, Fi staring mutely at her as she did so. Eventually, she turned and said “It doesn’t look as if anything is missing, but I need to tell someone what’s happened. I’d better call and get someone from security up here.”
“NNNNN,” Fi called out as Heidi reached for the phone. “But we need to call the police, Fi – the person who did this may still be in the hotel!”
She had to stop herself from bursting out laughing as Fi frantically shook her head from side to side. “Tkkthtggt,” she mumbled as she looked at the blonde haired roommate.
“No – I need to go and get Elena or Roberta, get their advice. Don’t go away!” She left the room quickly, ignoring Fi’s muted pleas, and knocked on the door of room 1012.
“There you are,” Cindy said as she opened the door, “what kept you?” Heidi walked n after her and looked at Natalie, Alice and Jannifer. All three had their ankles ted together, and their arms bound behind their backs, and Heidi could now see the edge of the band of rope around their legs below their knees under the hem of their skirts.
“I did wonder,” Heidi said with a smile. “Look, I need to borrow Cindy for a minute.”
“Why?” Natalie said as she looked at her.
“I’ll tell you in a few minutes,” Heidi said as she dragged Cindy out of the room. “You as well,” she said as she looked at Cindy’s skirt.
“Yeah – what’s going on?”
“Just follow me, and don’t say a word,” Heidi said as they walked back to her room, and Cindy looked down at Fi, her hand over her mouth as the younger girl blushed even more.
“Oh my,” Cindy finally said, “I never knew…”
“Pllslslltmspk,” Fi pleaded, so Cindy reached round and untied the bandana, easing it from her mouth. She worked her jaw before saying “For goodness sake, don’t tell Miss Dunbar or my parents…”
“Tell her what,” Cindy said as she sat on the bed, “that you like the idea of being tied up so much you tie yourself up?”
Fi blushed, and then nodded as she said “I learned how to do it at my grandparent’s ranch – the ranch hands are very good with ropes.”
“I can imagine,” Heidi said as she smiled and leaned against the wall. “The thing is, Cindy my friend, what are we going to tell Miss Dunbar and Natalie’s grandmother?”
“I know,” Cindy said as she nodded her head, “I mean, they might not take this kind of thing lightly. I think we need to consult with the other girls before we decide what we should do.”
“I think that would be sensible,” Heidi said as Fi looked at both of them in horror.
“Oh god, please, don’t, they’ll just lffftmmmmmmm.” Her complaints were muffled as Cindy stuffed her bandana back into her mouth, and then they frog marched the struggling girl between both of them.
“Just check if the coast is clear,” Heidi said to Cindy, watching as Cindy looked out of the door, went down two doors and opened the room door. Heidi helped Fi to hop down the corridor into the room, as she heard Nats say “Where the hell did you two get to… Oh.
For Fi, it was the height of embarrassment to have been made to hop on the corridor, but then she saw Alice, Natalie and Jannifer sat in a row on the bed, their arms behind their backs, their ankles crossed and tied, and their legs secured by the rope just visible under their skirts.
“H….Mmmm…GDDDD,” Fi said as she looked at them, and then pushed the bandana out with her tongue. “What is going on here?”
“Chloe Bandelaine’s Escapology and Magic club,” Heidi said before she burst out laughing. “My god, if you could have seen your face when I walked in…”
“Oh my,” Natalie said as she looked at the young girl, “Did you tie your legs yourself? That looks good.”
“I don’t understand,” Fi said as Cindy released her wrists, “I thought I was the only one who did this.”
“It seems our reputation has not got very far,” Jannifer said as she looked at the others. “I think we need to fully induct her into our ways.”
“It would certainly make things a lot easier,” Alice said as she twisted round, “How long, Fi?”
“Since I was eight – oh,” she said as Heidi guided her wrists behind her back, crossed them and started to tie them tightly together. “Oh – you do know how to do this properly, don’t you?”
“Fi, you have absolutely no idea,” Cindy said with a chuckle as Heidi proceeded to bind Fi’s arms tightly to her side, winding the rope above and below her chest as she stood there. “Oh my goodness,” she said quietly, “I’ve only had this done to me by Grandma before now.”
“So it’s your grandparents who taught you as well,” Natalie said as Fi sat next to her, watching as Cindy untied the skipping rope from above her knees, and re-tied it around her legs below her knees. At the same time, Heidi started to tie rope around the arms and upper bodies of the other three girls.
“Yeah – I liked it when Grandma used to tie me to a rocking chair, and we’d sit in the porch watching the sun go down. Why below the knees?”
“More secure,” Heidi said as Cindy stood up. “Now, Fi, we need to make the four of you nice and quiet. You don’t mind the taste of cotton, do you?”
“No I ddnnmmtmmtmt,” she said as Cindy pushed the bandana back into her mouth, and then covered her lips with a long strip of white micropore tape. “Thssnn,” she mumbled, her eyes opened wide at how effectively she was prevented from talking, then watching the other three being gagged in the same way.
“Yeah – we like to keep our friends quiet for the tickle torture.”
“Frtthhtkllwwhhtht?NNNNNNN?AAAAAAAAAAAAa” Fi cried out as Cindy grabbed her bound ankles, and started to tickle the soles of her feet.
“Wggtwrrgglr,” Nats said as she tried to get away from Cindy’s grip, only to start laughing herself when Heidi got her feet and started to tickle them.
“HHLGLTTUFTHS,” Fi laughed out as the other two moved out of the way, knowing their turn was coming…
“It sounds as if they are having fun in there,” Elena said as she and Roberta returned to their rooms, having discussed the plans for tomorrow. Stopping outside the room door, Roberta knocked quietly, smiling at Heidi as she opened the door.
“Time you lot were in your rooms,” she said quietly, “Need a hand helping them in?”
“You could say that,” Heidi said as she held the door open, “besides, there’s something I think you both need to see.”
“Oh,” Elena said as the two of them walked in, “and what would that… Ah, now I see.”
“Hllmssdnbr, msssrg,” Fi mumbled from under her tape gag as the others giggled beside her.
“One question,” Roberta said as she looked at her granddaughter, “Fi’s choice or yours?”
“Bfff,” Nats said as she stretched her legs up and down, “shsnfs.”
“I see,” Elena said with a smile. “Well, Fi, welcome to our world – and I think you may need to start on some of the same exercise routines as the others. But not tonight – untie them, you two, it’s time you were in bed and sleeping.”
Fi looked a little crest fallen, but she watched as the other three were released, and then allowed herself to be untied.
“Hyyss,” she mumbled as she gently pulled the tape away, and removed the scarf. “Boy, I need to wash this now,” she said as she looked at the saliva soaked cloth.
“Come on, we can do it in our room,” Heidi said as she took Fi’s arm. “See you all at breakfast tomorrow.”
“Well now,” Heidi said as she closed the door behind both of them, “You’d better start at the beginning, Fi. What started your interest in this?”
“What got you started,” Fi said as she rubbed her wrists.
“Long story, but to cut it short – I discovered some photos of my Aunt Veronica with my mum, and some of them had the two of them tied up and gagged. I asked to meet her, learned about them, and then she tied me up. I found I liked it, and the story goes on from there. You?”
“A bit more dramatic than that, I’m afraid,” Fi said as she drew her knees up to her chin, waiting until Heidi had changed into a pair of blue pyjamas. “Have you ever being robbed?”
“You have no idea,” Heidi said with a smile. “A few times, and by some very different people. Why?”
“Well, you know what my dad does for a living?”
“He runs one of the bigger used car places, I think.”
“He owns four of them,” Fi said. “Well, when I was eight years old, we were robbed by a gang of three armed men. I can still remember it as clear as day – I’d been to a birthday party and arrived home with Mum and Dad, wearing a brand new blue dress and jacket. Anyway, we went into the house, and there they were – throwing stuff off shelves and searching for things.
“Two of them grabbed me and Mum, and held us tight with their gloved hands over our mouths, while the other one forced Dad into his office to open a safe. They made both of us put our hands behind our backs, and tied our wrist together with some sort of rope, before they tied some rope around my arms and stomach, and two bands around Mum’s arms. She had on this grey dress coat, and the buttons almost came undone when they did that.
“They then made her lie face down on the couch, and tied her ankles and legs together, while they made me sit on a chair and did the same. Then they tied a rolled up scarf in my mouth, and a knotted one in Mum’s. And left us there while they searched upstairs.
“Well, we were eventually freed – Dad had been tied up in the office – but I could never tell them just how exciting I found the experience. They didn’t even want to talk about it.”
“I know what that can be like,” Heidi said as she remembered some of the early conversations with her mother, and with Dorothy.
“Well, fast forward to the summer, and I get sent off to San Antonio again. A week into that visit, I had a nightmare, and when Granny and Gramps asked me about it I told them what had happened. They listened, and then asked if I wanted to act it out again, get the fear out of me. I wanted to, I did – and, well it’s been my secret ever since.”
“Not any more it isn’t,” Heidi said as she punched Fi in the arm. “We all have the same feelings, and we can teach you a lot. Was that the first time someone has taped your mouth over?”
“Actually, yes it was.”
“How did it feel?”
“Different – nice even. Why?”
“Oh you’ll see,” Heidi said as she turned the light off, “You’ll see. Get some sleep – busy day tomorrow.”
“Right,” Elena said as the group finished their breakfast, “Sooner we are on the road, sooner we get there. Back to your rooms, and we leave in fifteen.”
The group nodded to each toher as they got up and walked to the lifts.
“Cindy,” Heidi said as they got in, “you still got the clear tape in your back?”
“Yeah – why?”
Heidi looked at the others, and just smiled…
“Come on you six, what kept you?”
Roberta looked at them as they walked out of the lift, with their bags in their hands, and handed back the card keys. She took one look at them, and then shook her head as they walked out to the bus, before heading to the reception desk.
“Right – in you…” Elena stood back and watched as all six of them climbed in, leaving their bags on the back seats before they took their places. Before they sat down, Cindy, Heidi and Natalie knelt in front of Fi, Alice and Jannifer, working for a few moments before they fastened the seat belts round them.
As Heidi sat down, and the other two made sure she was comfortable, Roberta came up to Elena and said “Did you see?”
“I did – do you see what they’re doing now?”
Roberta looked in as Nats finished securing Cindy, and then took her own seat, looking at her grandmother with an expectant expression.
“I just hope we don’t get stopped,” Roberta said as she took the length of rope in Nat’s hands, and tied her wrists together in front of us, before taking it down and using it to bind her ankles together. “Just groan three times if you need a rest stop,” she said as she fastened the seat belt, Nats nodding as the clear tape covered her lips so well, you could barely see it.
“Right then,” Elena said as Roberta sat in the front, and looked at the six girls, “Washington here we come!”
The trip itself proved uneventful, save for the toilet break in Maryland, where a couple of the local boys tried to talk to Alice and Cindy – a task made more difficult by the clear tape gags they insisted on keeping on. It took a deal of diplomacy on the parts of Elena and Roberta to solve that little incident – and a promise that there would be consequences once they reached the hotel they were staying in.
So it was at about 3 pm that the bus pulled up in the parking lot of the Doubletree Hotel outside Washington, and Elena and Roberta climbed into the back, finally removing the tape gags as they untied the girls.
“I’m really sorry, Gran,” Natalie said as soon as she was able to, “I’m sure neither of the girls asked for that attention.”
“I’m sure as well,” Roberta said as she looked at Alice and Cindy, “but we don’t pull this stunt again during the trip, all right? In the hotel, in private, that’s different, but not in public.”
“Yes, Mrs Reid,” the girls chorused as they collected their bags and walked into the hotel.
“Right then,” Elena said as they gathered in the hallway, “Room assignments. Cindy and Heidi, room 703. Alice and Fi, room 705. Natalie and Jannifer, room 707. We have 704 and 706. Now up to your rooms, unpack, and I want to see you all in the Jefferson room, ready for some exercises, in thirty minutes. You two as well,” she said as she looked at Heidi and Cindy, “You won’t do all they do, but you could do with stretching out after been confined in the bus all day.”
“I can’t argue with that,” Heidi said as she stretched her legs up. “We’ll join you in that case – but remember, we’re not as flexible as you four.”
“You won’t need to be,” Elena said as she picked up her bag. “Right - get moving!”
“Ready,” Heidi said as she pulled her white t-shirt down over her shorts, and sat on the edge of the bed, lacing up her trainers. Cindy had put on a pair of tracksuit bottoms and a black polo short, and slipped on a pair of black plimsolls.
Heading out of the room, they stood by the lift doors and waited for them to open. As they did so, four girls in red tracksuits walked out and looked at them, sneering as they went by.
“Our Lady of Lourdes School,” Cindy said as she looked at the logo on the back of their jackets, “Would I be right in thinking they are Catholic school girls?”
“We’d better keep away from them then – they might be a corrupting influence on us,” Heidi said as they got in, and the lift doors closed.
“I don’t think they’re going to mix with people like us – after all we have two lesbian mums,” Cindy said before she burst out laughing.
“Hey this is serious – we have no idea what goes on behind those doors,” Heidi said, but she had to laugh as well as the lift doors opened.
“What’s so funny,” Roberta said as they walked towards the meeting room.
“Sorry, sorry,” Cindy said, “we were just discussing the girls who came out of the lift – Our Lady of Lourdes?”
“Oh – so they’ve been invited as well,” Roberta said, “How interesting – we need to tell Elena.”
“Why? Do either of you have previous with them?”
“You’ll see,” Roberta said as they walked into the room, which had been laid out with floor mats and some gymnastic equipment. The other four were already there, wearing their leotards as they stretched their legs up behind their heads.
“All right, you four,” Elena said as she watched in her track suit, “we get to rehearse in the area itself later tonight, and then we’ll go out to dinner, so this is strictly a stretch and warm up session.”
“You’ll never guess who else is here,” Roberta said as she took a seat, Heidi and Cindy helping Natalie and Alice with their leg stretches as they lay on their backs. “Andrea Balcombe.”
Elena turned and looked at Roberta, before saying “The Boston Bitch? Our Lady has sent a group as well?”
Natalie sat up as she saw her grandmother nodding, a big smile on her face. “Why do I get the feeling there is an added side to this visit now,” she said as she looked at her coach.
“Mz Balcombe was a rival of mine on the circuit,” Elena said quietly, “but she never quite managed to beat me – not without some assistance anyway. There was one competition where she locked me in the showers, and I only got out in time to do one vault. The organisers said it was a fault in the door, but rules were rules…”
“She now coaches the gymnastics at the said school in Boston,” Roberta said as she sat back, “but I wonder if she still gets up to her old tricks?”
“Well, she may have bitten off more than she bargained for with us,” Elena said with a smile. “Right girls – let me see some of your stretching now.”
Alice and Natalie bent their legs back and grabbed their ankles with their hands, while Fi and Jannifer arched their backs and placed the soles of their feet on their heads.
“Excellent, excellent – good job girls. Now warm down and put your tracksuits on – we’re going to the arena to see the setup, and you can have a chance to try the equipment.”
As Roberta stood up, the door opened and a tall, thin woman with black hair tied back in a ponytail walked in. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you had not…” she started to say, before she stopped and looked at Elena.
“Elena Dunbar, as I live and breathe – I did not know you were coaching again?”
“Hello Andrea,” Elena said quietly, and the girls could not help but notice how frosty and cold her voice had become. “I didn’t know you would be here as well.”
“We flew down this morning – so, this is your group?” The dark haired woman looked over the six girls, before saying “Well, I am sure you will provide some entertainment. Who is your assistant?”
“I am,” Roberta said as she walked over. “Nice to see you again, Andrea.”
“Well, I see you have some real expertise behind you now,” Andrea replied coolly, “You’re going to need it. If you have finished, my girls needs to stretch as well.”
“Be my guest,” Elena said, “We were just heading to the arena. Girls?”
The group collected their bags and walked past Andrea, smiling sweetly as they did so, before Roberta and Elena followed them out. “How the dickens does she still manage to infuriate me after all these years,” Elena said as they climbed on board the waiting shuttle bus.
“A discussion for another time,” Roberta said as they climbed in, “Charles E Smith Centre, please.”
“That,” Cindy said as she collapsed onto the couch in the sitting area of their suite, “is some place.”
“Indeed,” Alice said as she closed the door, “some place, but I like it.”
“So what’s on television,” Fi said as she switched the set on, while Heidi and Cindy lay on the floor, bending their legs back.
“What are you two doing,” Natalie said as she took a bottle of water from the fridge.
“Trying to copy you two,” Cindy said as she tried to grab her ankle, “I think we need to start doing yoga, just to keep up with you.”
“Well, if it’s a case of stretching,” Alice said as she winked at Jannifer, “we can help you with that.”
“How – oh no you…” Heidi was powerless to stop the two of them as they tied her wrists to her ankles with two lengths of cord, Fi and Natalie copying that with Cindy before she could protest.
“How… How do you hold this,” Cindy said as she looked over her shoulder.
“Practice,” Natalie said as she reached into her bag, and took out a roll of athletic tape. “Now shut up and start learning…”
“But it hrtssmsmmmmnttll,” Heidi said as the tape was wrapped round her mouth, Cindy suffering the same fate, before the four girls removed their shoes and socks.
“We owe you for last night,” Natalie said with an evil grin, as the two tried to wriggle out of the way…
“Girls,” Roberta said as she knocked on the door to the suite, “we’re going down to dinner now.”
“Coming,” she heard her granddaughter call out, and then the door opened as all six of them walked into the corridor, Heidi and Cindy rubbing their arms and legs as they did so.
“Are you two all right,” she said as she looked at them.
“Yeah – we just got a taste of their exercise routine,” Cindy said as she shook her left arm.
“hmm – Natalie, you know that Cindy and Heidi are not gymnasts, not in the same way you are. So go easy on them – try a slightly less restrictive hogtie next time, all right?”
“What, like we had in Wissenden?”
“Wissenwhat,” Fi said as they got into the lift, and then walked into the restaurant.
“Tell you once the food’s arrived,” Heidi said as they joined Elena at the table. Once they had placed their order, Fi leaned over and said “Well?”
“Well,” Heidi said quietly, “you know the five of us went to the UK a few weeks back to take part in a wedding?”
Fi nodded as Heidi said “Nats, Cindy and me went early, because we needed to be fitted for our dresses, so we landed with our mothers in the Tuesday morning at Heathrow airport. Now, you fly to Texas – how long does that take?”
“four to five hours, depending on the wind,” Fi said with a smile, “how long for you?”
“Overnight – and jet lag – so when we were met and got into the minibus to take us to where we were staying, all of us were a little tired and disorientated. Made it easier for the four men to kidnap us.”
“Kidnap…” Fi realised she had shouted a little louder than she perhaps should have, as she whispered “For real?”
“It felt like it at the time,” Cindy said, “We stopped by a broken down van, and Mister Bridges, the driver got out – and the next thing we knew three men in boiler suits, wearing balaclavas over their heads and holding guns came into the van, grabbed the three of us, forced out arms behind our backs and used zip ties around our wrists, tape gagged us, blindfolded us and frog marched us into the other van. Five minutes from stopping to us being driven off while our ankles were secured, and tape wound round our head.”
“Oh my – you must have been terrified,” Fi said as they stopped talking while their meals were brought to the table, and their drink glasses were refilled.
“I certainly was,” Natalie continued, “we had no idea what was going on, or where we were going. For a while, I thought we were really kidnapped again – and then the van stopped, and we were carried into wherever it was we were being kept.”
“Which turned out to be a large cellar,” Cindy said as Natalie started to eat her spaghetti. “There was a woman waiting there, who told us to be quiet while we were tied to chairs with ropes. The moment she spoke, however, I knew this was some sort of game.”
“How,” Fi asked excitedly.
“Because we all recognised her voice,” Heidi continued. “It was Angela, the big sister of my pen friend Alicia Bowden, so once we were secured and the blindfolds removed, we saw her in the boiler suit and balaclava, smiling as she said we were being held for ransom, and once our mothers had paid we would be released.”
“Wow,” Fi said as she looked at Alice and Jannifer, “did you know about this?”
“First we heard about it was on the flight back to the US,” Alice said quietly, “but the guys who did it really knew what they were doing – and I gather that was the plan?”
Heidi nodded and said “Yeah – we found out who they were later, but they fed us sandwiches, gave us a drink, and then one of them filmed a message from us to our mothers before we were gagged one by one, untied and allowed to use the toilet.”
“And when we say gagged, we mean gagged – a cloth in our mouths, a knotted strip of towel next, then medical tape around our heads and a folded silk scarf over that as well.”
“And then, when you had been to the toilet?”
Natalie looked at Elena and said “Got that stress ball?” She caught it as Elena tossed it over, and held it in her fist. “Imagine your hands like that, then tape over them a pair of socks and that sock taped to your arm before you even get started with ropes.”
“And then your wrists crossed and tied, then tied to your waist, your arms tied to your stomach with rope around all of them, a band of rope under your chest and one above.”
“and then,” Cindy said as she swallowed a slice of seared tuna, “your ankles crossed and bound, your legs tied, and all of the secured to a chair.”
“Oh my,” Fi said quietly, “so how did you spend the time?”
Heidi, Cindy and Natalie looked at each other, before Natalie said “Honestly? Bored out of our mind. We weren’t allowed to do anything – no TV, no games, no talking, just watching the four of them playing board games and the occasional burst of Radio 3 – classical music to you.”
“Four of them?”
“Yeah – the blokes took turns staying and going, but Angela stayed the whole time.”
“Just like a real kidnapping 90% of the time,” Elena said as she looked at them. “And at night?”
“Allowed to eat, wash, put on a white nightgown, and tied and gagged just as tightly – but for extra security, our ankles were tied to the bottom of the camp beds we were sleeping on. Having said that…”
“Having said that,” Heidi said quietly, “we had a terrific night’s sleep. I guess the adrenaline rush, and the lack of sleep, finally got to us. I can’t speak for them, but the next thing I remember after lying down was being woken up the next morning.”
“So what happened then?”
“Same again – washed, allowed to put some clothes on, and then re-tied – but this time on the bed, as we watched them playing cards. Eventually, however, our legs were untied, we were blindfolded, and told the ransom had been paid – and then made to walk up some stairs, a short distance and sat back down again before our arms were untied, the gags removed and we were told to take the blindfolds off.”
Fi stared at them, and said “Where were you?
“We were sitting at a table, our mother sitting across from us, and Alicia and her family sitting there as well. They’d set the whole thing up as a surprise for the three of us – turned out their parents had arranged something similar for her and her friends after Christmas, and they’d agreed with our mothers to have the same thing happen to us.”
“And the armed men?”
“Alicia’s boyfriend, Angela’s boyfriend, and two friends of the family,” Heidi said with a big smile on their face. “Let’s just say we got our own back on them later, right Alice?”
“Oh yes – but that’s a story for another day,” Alice said with a big smile.
“On which note,” Elena said as she wiped her chin, “Bed – all of you. I need you all up, bright and early in the morning, and we have to be at the centre by nine, so the bus will be waiting at half eight.”
“No games tonight then,” Natalie said as they walked out of the restaurant, and headed back to their rooms…
Breakfast that Saturday morning was a more subdued affair – the four gymnasts were thinking over their routine for the morning, chatting quietly with Elena, while Cindy and Heidi sat either side of Roberta.
“Don’t take it personally,” Roberta said as she sipped her tea, “if you come to any more of these meets, you’ll discover that they tend to go into a kind of blinkered view on the actual days.”
“So what is the program for today,” Heidi said as she picked at her potatoes and sausage.
“This morning is about warming up – stretches, floor exercises, and trying the equipment.” Roberta looked up as Andrea Balcombe walked in with her squad, smiling at them as they moved to a different table.
“You two will be helping me, sorting out equipment, drinks and so on. But I have an additional job for you if you’re interested?”
“Let me guess – something to do with the Boston group,” Cindy said as she looked at the other table.
Roberta nodded and said “Keep an eye on them, will you – this is an exhibition show, but I wouldn’t put it past them to try something anyway. Elena will be focused totally on those four, so it’s up to us to…”
“Watch their backs?” Roberta nodded as Heidi finished her breakfast, and said “Exactly. I couldn’t ask for two better pairs of eyes.”
“Right,” Elena said as she looked at them. “Lobby in twenty minutes, everyone.” They stood up as one and headed for their rooms, looking forward to the day ahead.
The bus trip to the centre passed in silence, as they looked out of the window at the streets before pulling into the front entrance. On walking in, Elena talked to a couple of women at a desk, before bringing over a set of large laminated cards on lanyards. As she handed them out, Heidi looked at the front of hers to see a photo from the school records, and her name, the school name and “Coaching staff” printed to the side.
“Wear these at all times you are here over the next two days, unless you are actually doing an exercise,” Elena said quietly. “If you do not have them on, Security will take you into a back room and they will need to contact me or Roberta, so guide them as if they were your hall pass. Right, let’s go.”
They all walked into the arena, the girls looking round at the vast open space with the equipment set out at the various stages, and then made their way around, looking at the four pieces of equipment – the horse, asymmetric bars, beam and the floor exercise area.
“Tomorrow there will be a rhythmic gymnastics demonstration on the floor area,” Elena said, “as well as a trampoline event. Jannifer and Fi – I want you to do your joint routine then, while Natalie and Alice do the ball and ribbons respectively. Agreed?”
“Yes coach,” they said as one.
“Today – Fi, vault. Alice, beam. Jannifer, asymmetric, and Natalie floor. But this morning I want you to spend some time on each of the pieces of equipment. It will be good experience for all of you, once you have properly warmed up.”
“On which note,” Roberta said as she looked at them, “this way – the warm-up area is at the rear of the arena.”
The party made their way down an entrance walkway, and then into a large open area, where some of the other school groups had already began their routines. “Right, you four,” Elena said quietly, “Tracksuits off, and get to work.”
As the four girls started their warm-up routines, the girls from Our Lady of Lourdes arrived, walking to a nearby open spot and gathering round their coach before they removed their tracksuits and began their warm-up exercises. Heidi looked at Andrea Balcombe as she instructed her charges, and noticed the way she was looking over at her friends, particularly Natalie as she stretched her body out.
“She looks very interested in Natalie,” she whispered to Roberta, who looked over and smiled at Andrea. The smile was returned before she turned and looked again at her team.
“Yeah, she is – I’ll tell Elena to keep an eye on your cousin,” Roberta whispered as she checked the contents of the bag. “Hmmm – we need more isotonic drinks.” Taking a note from her pocket, she handed it to Heidi and said “Can you and Cindy go to the kiosk in the entrance hall and pick up some spare bottles for me, please – the way Elena is working them, I think we’re going to need them.”
“Got it,” Heidi said as she and Cindy walked off, Andrea watching them as they walked back into the rear corridor. “I think it’s this way to the arena,” Cindy said as they turned and walked down towards the entrance to the arena, walking round it as they looked at the centre staff checking and rechecking the equipment.
The money from Roberta was enough to get half a dozen bottles, but as they re-entered the arena they saw Andrea walk out of the warm-up area with two of her girls. They were about the same height as Cindy and Heidi, one with curly brown hair and a pair of large glasses, the other with short red hair. The two friends watched them as Andrea looked up and down, and then took them into a side room.
“Take these to Roberta, will you,” Heidi said as she handed the bottle to Cindy, “Tell her I’m doing a little eavesdropping, and I’ll be with you shortly.” Cindy nodded and watched as Heidi followed them, carefully opening the door and shutting it quietly behind her.
“Right,” she heard Andrea say from the other side of a trolley filled with mats, “what have you seen?” Heidi positioned herself where she could listen unobserved.
“They’re good – very good in fact. That girl doing the splits – Natalie – she must be their floor specialist.”
“I agree Katy – and I don’t think we stand a chance against her, but we’ll know when we see them in a short while. The other three?”
“They’re good as well – I think the red head is a little younger, but just as good. They make a good team – supporting each other.”
“Well, it’s not surprising – Elena Dunbar knows her stuff, and they have a former Olympian there as well.”
“They do? Who?”
“You don’t recognise the older woman, Jo? That’s Bobbi Beaton.”
“You’re joking? Why would she be helping Elena?”
“Well, for one thing she coached both of us. I wonder if one of that team is related to her. Anyway, not our problem – what about the other two girls?”
“Friends of theirs definitely, but not gymnasts – I think they’re here to help, like we are.”
“I think so too – but there’s a little bit of a resemblance to one of them and their floor expert. Anyway – good work girls, keep it up.”
Heidi shrank into the shadows as she watched the older woman walk past her and out of the room. “Great minds must think alike,” Heidi said to herself before she started to make her way to the door, only to be grabbed and pulled back by two pairs of arms.
“I thought I heard someone breathing,” the redhead said, “so their coach had the same idea as ours.”
“Looks that way Jo,” the other girl said, “so we’d better show her what we think of snoops?”
“Mutual appreciation society,” Heidi said hopefully as she looked at both of them, then as Karen showed her what she had in her hand, she said “I guess not.”
“Where had Heidi got to,” Roberta said as the others put on their tracksuits and drank from their bottles.
“I don’t know,” Cindy said as she saw the other two girls walk in and re-join their friends, “but I’m getting a bad feeling. I’ll follow you lot inside.”
“All right, but be careful,” Roberta said as Cindy followed them out, then turned in the opposite direction and slipped into the room she had seen Heidi go into earlier.
“Heidi? You in here?”
Although there was no reply, Cindy could hear someone kicking at the wall behind the trolley of mats, so she walked round and saw exactly why there was no reply.
Heidi was lying on her back, kicking against the wall with her feet as she looked up. There were white bands around her ankles, thighs, waist and chest, holding her legs together and her arms tight to her side, while a band of white bandage was around her head and mouth.
“You got caught, didn’t you,” Cindy said as she helped Heidi to sit up and unwound the bandage from her head. As it came away, Heidi pushed a sock from her mouth and nodded.
“I got caught – but those two girls are doing the same thing as us – spying on our team. We need to warn Roberta and Elena.”
“Not yet,” Cindy said with a smile, “I think we need to get our own back first. IF they’re willing to do this to you, I think they deserve what they get. Are you with me?”
“Won’t Elena and Roberta be mad at us?”
“Not if we do it right,” Cindy said as she started to untie Heidi, “here’s what we’re going to do…”
“There you are,” Roberta said as the two girls came back in, “What kept you?”
“Sorry, Roberta,” Heidi said, “I got asked to help with something. I should have let you know.”
The older woman looked at the two girls, one eyebrow raised as she said “Really? Anyway, you’re just in time – Natalie is about to rehearse her floor exercise.”
They stood and watched as Natalie made her way to a corner of the large mat, taking a deep breath and striking a pose before she launched herself into a sequence of somersaults, turns and manoeuvres, Heidi and Cindy realising once again just how good she was at this discipline. It only lasted a few minutes, but by the end Nats was standing there, her arms outstretched as she panted and heard the round of applause from the others.
“Brilliant,” Elena said as she applauded Natalie off the mat. “All right, Fi, on you go.”
“Look at them,” Cindy said as she nudged Heidi, and they glanced over at Jo and Katy. “I wonder if they realise just who it is they are messing with?”
“I doubt it very much,” Heidi said with an evil grin. “So what have you got planned?”
Cindy turned and whispered into Heidi’s ear, the other girl nodding as she heard the details.
Twenty minutes later, they saw the redhead, Jo, slip off and leave the arena. “We’ll be back in a minute,” Heidi said as she and Cindy followed them, Roberta watching them as they headed in the same direction.
“Did you bring it,” Cindy said as they walked to the toilets, Heidi nodding as she patted the pocket of her track suit jacket. They entered the toilet, checking under the other stalls to make sure they were empty and then waiting as they heard the flush.
As Jo opened the stall door, she saw Heidi and Cindy standing there, arms folded and a grin on their faces. “Hey – Jo, isn’t it?”
“Oh,” Jo said as she looked at Heidi. “I guess you’re a little sore at what we did to you earlier, eh?”
“No, no, not at all,” Heidi said as she looked at her. “You may not believe it, but that was not an unusual occurrence for me, was it Cindy?”
“Not in the slightest,” Cindy said, “I’m always finding my friend tied up in some way. Funny thing, though, we have a standard way of dealing with these situations.”
“Oh,” Jo said with a little smile, “and what is that?”
“Returning the favour,” Heidi said as she produced a roll of white athletic tape, and they gently pushed Jo back into the stall…
“Done with whatever it was you had to do,” Roberta said as Heidi and Cindy came back, and they watched Elena helping Jannifer onto the larger of the two bars, and watched as she launched into her routine.
“Yup,” Cindy said as Heidi slipped the roll of tape back into the bag, “all done.”
“Good,” Roberta said as she watched Jannifer jumping from bar to bar, and then dismounting, doing a somersault as she did so and landing on her feet, arms raised high. “Brilliant,” Roberta said as she clapped, and looking over to the Our Lady group they could see Kathy and their coach nodding in appreciation.
After a few minutes, they saw Kathy slip out of the arena, returning a short while later with Jo. They looked over at Heidi and Cindy, who smiled sweetly and waved before they watched the other gymnasts rehearsing.
“All right,” Elena said eventually, “that will do for now. Warm down, stretch out, and then we will break for lunch.”
“I’m not sure I could eat anything,” Alice said as she stretched out, “I feel so tense.”
“Better you have something light – I have some chicken salad boxes ordered for delivery with water, but rehydrate now,” Elena said as she handed out bottles of water. “Where are you going, Roberta?”
“I’ll be back in a few minutes,” was the reply as Roberta followed Andrea out of the arena, leaving both teams behind.
“I wonder what she wants to talk to Andrea about,” Elena said as she shrugged her shoulders, before leading the group out to the dining area.
As they entered the arena, Roberta said “Heidi, Cindy, can you come in here for a minute?” The two girls looked at each other and then headed to the side office, watching as Roberta closed the door.
“Is there something wrong, Roberta,” Cindy said as the older woman looked at both of them. She said nothing, waiting until there was a knock at the door and she opened it.
“In here girls,” she said as Jo and Kathy came in, looking at Heidi and Cindy as Roberta closed the door.
“Right,” she said quietly, “I’m going to say this once and once only. I guessed what happened to Heidi earlier, and I suspect one of you two underwent the same experience, am I right?”
She looked at the four girls, who stayed silent but slowly nodded.
“Thank you for being honest,” Roberta said. “This sort of thing happens all the time, spying no other teams and a bit of friendly rivalry, but this is the wrong day to take the steps all of you took earlier. The job of all four of you today is to support your coaches and help your friends, not to spend time making sure at least one of the other pair is missing for a little while, all right?”
Roberta did not speak in an angry tone, but she got her message across as all four of them nodded. “Good – now, I do not for one minute believe this business is settled, but for the rest of the gala today the four of you stay with your respective teams. I’ve spoken to Andrea, and I will speak to Elena as well. In return, your four will change when we get back to the hotel, and you will – all four of you – report to the Jefferson room at the hotel at 6 pm tonight. Do I make myself perfectly clear?”
“Yes, Roberta,” Heidi and Cindy said as the other two nodded.
“Good,” Roberta said with a smile. “You two – go and join your team.” As Jo and Kathy went out, Roberta looked at the other two.
“You should have told me, you know?”
“We know – but they took Heidi by surprise, and then…”
Roberta stopped, raising a hand as she said “Save it for later – we need to go and eat, and then we have a gala to compete in.” She opened the door and showed the two girls out, shaking her head and smiling.
“We are the champions, my friend…”
“Joint champions,” Alice said as she nudged Natalie, who had a gold medal hanging round her neck. “You won the floor, and Fi the vault, but Our Lady took the other two events, so we had the same points total in the end.”
“The point is,” Elena said as she looked back, “you all did a fantastic job today, girls, and you have every reason to celebrate. So I’ll book a table at a Chinese restaurant for tonight, all right?”
“Make it for eight, will you,” Roberta said, “we need to allow time for that meeting first.”
“Yup – I hadn’t forgotten,” Elena said as she looked at Cindy and Heidi. The bus pulled up outside the hotel, and as they walked in Jannifer said “what meeting?”
“Elena and I need to meet with a couple of the other coaches to agree the program for tomorrow,” Roberta said “Go on – meet in the lobby at seven.”
The girls made their way up to their rooms. As they unlocked the door, Alice said “Want to meet up beforehand?”
“We can’t,” Cindy said, “we need to make some phone calls first. See you in the lobby.”
Heidi and Cindy looked out of their suite door, and then made their way to the lifts. Heidi was wearing a long sleeved jumper with her favourite jeans and knee length black leather boots, while Cindy had on a grey pinafore dress over a white blouse, knee length socks and black shoes.
Going to the lobby, they made their way to the Jefferson room and knocked. “Come in,” they heard Elena say, and as they came in they saw her talking to Andrea and Roberta.
“Ah good, there you are,” she said to them as they closed the door. “Andrea, this is Heidi and Cindy. I think they have something to say to you, don’t you both?”
The two girls looked at each other, and said “Sorry we did what we did.”
“Apology accepted – and you two?”
Heidi turned to see Jo and Kathy standing by the wall. The redhead was wearing a black waistcoat over a collarless white blouse, black trousers and knee length suede boots, while Kathy had on a grey short sleeved dress over a white long sleeved top, and a pair of grey shoes.
“We’re sorry as well,” Kathy said as she looked at them.
“Good – but we need to tell you all something.” Andrea smiled at them as she said “Elena and I used to get up to the same tricks as you four all the time, and we used to drive Roberta wild with it until she found a way to get us to stop, and you four are going to get the same lesson now.”
“What’s that,” Jo said as she looked at her coach.
“Co-operation to escape,” Roberta said as she opened a plastic box, and they saw her take out lengths of rope. “Form a line, and out your hands behind your back while we get you all ready.”
Fifteen minutes later, Heidi and Jo were sitting back to back, Cindy and Kathy next to them. The two pairs of girls had their upper bodies secured together with ropes, and their arms pinned behind their backs. Their legs were secured at the ankles and knees, and their mouths gagged with knotted bandanas, the knots between their teeth and the bands tied round their heads.
“Simple, really,” Roberta said as the three older women stood back, “You need to work together to get free, and if you don’t in the next half hour, we go and fetch your teammates and bring them in here. Got it?”
All four girls nodded as the coaches sat back with Roberta, watching them as Heidi and Jo searched for the knots around each other’s wrists.
“Some things never really change, do they,” Elena said as she looked at Andrea.
“Nah – but they need to realise there is a difference between friendly competition and hurting someone. This worked for us – might work for them.”
“Listen – if you don’t have to rush off tomorrow, perhaps both groups can go out together after the show. Do them all good to learn from another school from another area.”
“Fndnnffngyt,” Cindy said over her shoulder to Kathy as she reached round with her fingers.
“Ntyyttt – whtbbtu?”
“Nnn,” Cindy said as she pushed at the cotton knot in her mouth with her tongue, opening her lisp as wide as possible to try and ease the gag out. She could feel the knot slackening at the base of her neck, but too slowly for her liking.
“Ssttssllpls,” Heidi said to Jo as she found the knot at the other girl’s wrists, and started to work on slackening it with her practised fingers. Jo nodded as she felt the ropes slackening around her arms, and started to pull them apart as well.
“Your charge – Heidi – she seems to be making some progress. I take it this is not the first time she’s done something like this?”
Elena smiled at Andrea as Roberta said “I don’t think you’d believe me if I told you. Let’s just say – ah, there you go.”
The three of them watched as Jo worked her arms round and reached up, starting to untie the ropes holding her to Heidi at her stomach. At the same time, Cindy finally managed to push the gag out of her mouth, gasping as the damp cloth fell down her neck.
“Right, Kathy,” she said as she looked over her shoulder, “start sliding to your right, and I’ll slide to my left. We need to make our way over to get the others to help me.”
Kathy nodded as they started to push themselves over, while Jo pushed the rope over her head and turned round, starting to untie Heidi’s wrists as she leaned forward. Once they both had their arms free, they removed their own gags, and then started to untie the other two.
“Twenty minutes,” Andrea said as she looked at her watch, “Not bad – and you say they’re not gymnasts?”
“Not really – but they have had plenty of practice. Your two?”
“Past experiences with robbers – let’s just say their parents got them some specialist training,” Andrea said as the four of them untied their legs and then stood up.
“Well, I guess you miss the torture part,” Elena said as she walked to them. “So is that an end to all this nonsense?”
“Yeah,” Jo said as she hugged Heidi, “Truce?”
“Truce – you did a great job there.”
“Well, we’re going to get both groups together tomorrow for dinner, so you can talk then,” Roberta said quietly, “Right now, we need to meet the others , and your group Andrea?”
“Going to a show, I’m afraid – we’ll eat later, but I’m looking forward to tomorrow now.”
“So am I,” Elena said, “right – come on, they’ll be wondering where we have got to.”
“Yeesh – I coulda warned you that would happen if Grandma found out,” Natalie said as she heard why they had been ten minutes late. “After all, you’ve seen what she’s like at Aunt Heather’s place.”
“Yeah, I know,” Heidi said as she picked up some noodles in her chopsticks, ate them and then swallowed, “but I was surprised at how good the other two were. I guess we forget there are others out there who like to play tie-up games as well.”
“More than you may think,” Elena said with a smile. “Surely the time you spent with your pen friend in England taught you that much?”
“Touché,” Cindy said as she bit into a spring roll. “Uallrghtfe?”
“Yeah – it’s just so new to me, being able to talk like this a bit more openly. It just seems like second nature to you lot.”
“Yeah I guess it is,” Alice said as she kicked Jannifer under the table.
“Hey – what was that for?” Jannifer said as she looked at her friend.
“Reminding you about tonight – all right?”
“Oh yeah – Roberta, Alice and I are going to swap rooms tonight only. Nats wants to talk to Fi about tomorrow.”
“All right – just be up in time, all right.”
“Heidi,” Natalie whispered as Jannifer nodded, “Fi and I need the help of you and Cindy tonight. Let me and Fi get changed when we get back, and then knock, all right?”
Heidi nodded as they continued to eat their meal, the conversation turning to other matters.
“Nats? You two ready?”
The door opened and Heidi and Cindy walked in, Fi closing the door behind them. She as dressed for bed, in a pair of light blue cotton shorts and a vest top.
“Thanks for doing this,” she said as Natalie came in, wearing a pair of green shorts and a pale blue t-shirt.
“You haven’t told us what yet,” Heidi said as she looked at them.
“Nats told me about the times you girls have spent the night tied and gagged, and – well, I want to try it too.”
“It’s all right,” Natalie said as she tossed a pair of white sports socks to Fi, “Alice and Jannifer have one of our room keys, and they’ll make sure we get up in the morning. I’ll keep an eye on her, and you can leave a pair of scissors within reach of me.”
“So you’re not wearing the socks on your hands?”
Natalie shook her head as Fi said “No – I want to be unable to get free, but we need a safety release, right?”
“You’re learning fast,” Cindy said, “where’s the rope?”
Natalie nodded to the long couch, as she crossed her wrist behind her back, “On the other hand, we need to be unable to move easily, so do your worst.”
“You don’t have to ask twice,” Heidi said as she put Natalie’s hands palm to palm, and started to tie her wrists together, while Cindy crossed and tied Fi’s wrists tightly together. They then took a long length each, and started to bind their arms to their sides, the ropes going above and below their chest.
“This is actually quite comfy,” Fi said as she twisted her body round, Nats nodding as Heidi tied the ropes off. “Okay then – you both had better get comfy on the bed before we really get to work on you.”
The two girls walked into the bedroom, and lay on their sides on the bed, facing each other as Heidi and Cindy secured their legs at the ankles and below their knees.
“Want the blindfolds and ear plugs as well,” Heidi said as she passed the rope between Nats’ legs to tighten the binding.
“OF course – we both need a good night’s sleep,” Nats replied as she looked at Fi.
“Don’t worry,” Cindy said as she pulled Fi’s legs back, and tied her ankles to her chest ropes with a little slack to allow her to move them back and forth, “Nats is a past master at getting the blindfold off if she wants to. Behind you, on the shelf under the clock.”
Nats waited until Heidi had tied her ankles to her chest, before rolling over and seeing her place the scissors under the bedside table, the handles sticking out. “Gotcha,” she said as she rolled back over, and said “Ready” to Fi. The younger girl nodded, and then opened her mouth as Cindy pushed a folded cloth into her mouths, and covered her lips with the white tape.
Heidi used the same gag on Natalie, before both girls but a set of foam earplugs into the ears of both girls, and then pulled a black sleepmask over each of them. “Sleep tight,” Cindy said as she turned the light off, the two girls walking out and closing the door behind them.
Heidi knocked on Jannifer’s door, and said “they’re done” to her as she opened the door.
“Right – see you at breakfast tomorrow,” Jannifer replied before closing the door.
When Heidi and Cindy left their room and walked to the lift, they were surprised to see Alice and Jannifer waiting there as well.
“Hey – sleep well,” Alice said as they came closer.
“Yeah, we did,” Cindy said quietly, “you?”
“Like logs,” Jannifer said as the lift doors opened, and all four of them got in.
“So are they going to be waiting downstairs?”
“Are who going to be waiting downstairs,” Jannifer said to Heidi as the lift doors opened.
“Nats and Fi.”
“Why would they be… Oh damn,” Jannifer said as she hit the button to go back up. “Tell Elena and Roberta I’m waiting for them,” she said as the others watched the lift doors close again.
“You forgot, didn’t you,” Cindy said as they both put their arms round Alice, and walked into the restaurant.
“Where are they,” Roberta said as she stood up.
“Coming – the shower was a problem,” Heidi said as she sat down. “Where’s Elena?”
“Running late as well,” Roberta said quietly. “Go and get some breakfast – I’ll get some orange juice for all of you.”
The three girls stood up again and collected some food from the breakfast bar, Cindy and Heidi going for scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes and sausages while Heidi had fruit and yogurt. When they came back, they saw Elena coming in, rubbing her wrists as she said “Sorry – got tied up in some e-mails.”
“Work on a Sunday? Do they really drive you that hard?”
“No comment,” Elena said as the other three came in, Fi and Nats heading straight for the breakfast bar as Jannifer sat down.
“Are they all right,” Elena said as she looked at them.
“Yeah – they just slept in the wrong position last night,” Jannifer said as she sipped on her orange juice.
“Morning all,” Natalie said as she sat down.
“Forget something, Nats?”
Natalie looked down at her bare feet, sticking out from the bottom of her track suit pants, and said “I’ll put them on before we go, don’t worry?”
“Shower problem solved?”
Fi glanced at Alice, who nodded slightly before she said “Yeah – I think it was just a drop in pressure somewhere else.”
“Right,” Roberta said as she looked around the table. “So today is a gala display of rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline, as you know. No medals, just go out, do the best you possibly can, and have fun.
“Having said which, you are still representing the school, so you will do your best, right?”
“RIGHT,” the six girls said in unison.
“Eat up – we go to the centre in half an hour.”
The morning passed fairly quickly, as the various gymnasts rehearsed their routines and discussed running order for the show that afternoon. Heidi and Cindy found themselves mainly watching and admiring how good everyone else was.
“Not bad, are they?”
Heidi turned to see Jo and Kathy standing next to them, their arms folded as they watched.
“No they’re not – although I think we can still beat you lot in a face to face.”
“I choose to disagree – but it would be interesting to see,” Kathy said with a smile.
“I hear our coaches are taking us all out tonight,” Jo said, “up for a little bet?”
“Sorry – don’t gamble. I’ve had far too many close calls in past years,” Heidi said. “What were you thinking of anyway?”
“Not for money – for honour. Your coach and ours used to compete together, right?”
Cindy nodded as Jo said “Well, I guess that means you have had some of the same training techniques for your guys as ours – Andrea taught us a lot about rope work. You?”
“I think we taught Elena more than she taught us,” Heidi said, “why?”
“Well, Kathy and I were wondering who would escape first – your coach or ours. The tricky bit is going to be how we arrange the contest.”
Cindy and Heidi looked at each other, and then Cindy said “Well, I can think of one person who might be able to help us with that.” All four of them looked at Roberta, who turned and looked at them.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, please welcome to the exercise floor Miss Alice Hawkins.”
The applause that greeted Alice as she walked on was deafening, as she posed in her silver and blue leotard, the two ribbons held in her hand as she waited for the music to start. As the sound of Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer filled the arena, she began her routine, tumbling and jumping as she moved the ribbons in shapes and swoops.
Cindy applauded from the side with Nats, who had a towel round her shoulders after completing her floor exercise with the ball, which had involved using her hands and feet to balance it as she performed several moves. Heidi was on the far side of the arena, watching with Roberta as Jannifer and Fi performed a synchronized routine on the trampoline.
“Very well done,” Elena said as she patted Natalie on the back, “that was a first class show.”
“Thanks Coach,” Nats said as Alice did a double somersault, the ribbons flying at each side, “I did my best.”
“Which is all we could ask for,” Elena said with genuine pride.
“Where are we going to eat tonight anyway, boss,” Cindy said.
“Well, now the main event is coming to a close, we’ll go to a steakhouse and let you replenish those carbs. Why?”
“We were wondering about the two groups having a farewell drink of juice in the hotel afterwards – do you think we can see if a room is available?”
Elena nodded. “Good idea, Cindy – I’ll ask when we get back.” She walked over to help Alice off the stage, the audience applauding as she smiled and waved.
“Farewell drink? What are you plotting, Cindy Elsworth?”
“Yeah, tu – you have that look Chloe has on a Thursday that makes me shiver.”
“Wait and see,” Cindy said, “Wait and see.”
“Well, that was a fantastic meal,” Andrea said as the two groups went into the Jefferson room. Along one side a table had been covered with white cloths, with drinks and snacks on it.
“So we’ve all had a great time,” Elena said as she walked over, the heels of her short boots clicking on the floor. The bottoms of her jeans were tucked into the boots, and she wore a checked blouse over it with a thin leather belt.
“Agreed,” Andrea said. She had on a jumper and jeans, with flat shoes, the other girls dressed in casual clothes.
“There’s only one problem.”
“We’re even,” Jo said as she winked at Heidi, “and we need to know who is better. We only know one way to do that.”
Elena and Andrea looked at them, then at Roberta as she produced two lengths of rope.
“Oh no,” Andrea said, “It’s been too long for that.”
She looked at Elena, and said simply “Challenge accepted. Who does it?”
“Heidi and Cindy will take care of Andrea, Jo and Kathy of Elena. Half an hour, no winner then a forfeit. Prepare yourselves…”
“Long time since we had this competition,” Andrea said as I placed her hands together behind her back, palm to palm, and Cindy bound them tightly together with rope, repeating the process around her elbows.
“Still think you can beat me then,” Elena said as Jo and Kathy tied her arms in the same way, and then both coaches knelt on the floor, facing each other as ropes were tied around their arms and chest, fixing their limbs in place as it went above and below their breasts.
“Your girls have skills,” Andrea said as she sat down, extending her legs as Heidi tied her ankles together, and Cindy her legs below and above her knees.
“Yours are no slouches either,” Elena replied as she too was secured, and then both coaches lay back and rolled onto their stomachs. They sighed as their legs were pulled back, and their ankles secured to their chest ropes.
“Open wide,” Cindy said as Andrea saw the squashed sponge in front of her mouth. She allowed it to be pushed in, feeling it expand and pressing her tongue to the bottom of her mouth, before an athletic bandage was wound tightly round her head and taped into place. She glanced over at Elena, to see the same had happened to her, before Roberta said “right – thirty minutes, and you both remember what happens if you cannot get free in that time?”
The two coaches nodded as Roberta started a clock that ticked the seconds away, before saying “now, what do we have to drink…”
The two coaches were sweating as they wriggled round, watching the minutes move to twenty as the girls sat in small groups talking.
“So what s the forfeit if they can’t get loose?”
“Tickle torture of course,” Nats said as she looked at them. “Elena knows how ruthless we can be with that.”
“Indeed,” Jannifer said as Roberta walked over.
“Jannifer, Alice, a word please,” she said as she took them to one side.
“What does she want to talk to them about,” Fi said as she looked over, and saw the two girls nodding.
“I could be wrong,” Heidi said, “but I think our esteemed assistant coach knows how you and Nats spent last night.”
“Oh,” Fi said as she looked over, “Do you think they are in trouble?”
“No,” Cindy said as they walked over, “but I think you may be asked to do something.”
“Girls,” Roberta said as she joined them, “I want you all to meet in Jannifer’s room tonight before you go to bed.”
As she said this, an alarm went off, and Nats said with a grin “Time’s up. Girls, get their shoes and boots off.”
“Hgd,” Elena said as she felt her ankle boots being slipped off, and then several sets of fingers on the soles of her feet….
“Now, a little honesty please – Fi and Natalie, did you ask Jannifer and Alice to tie you both up last night so you could spend the night like that?”
Fi and Nats looked at each other and nodded. “It was my idea,” Fi said, “Nats agreed so that I would not be alone.”
“A sensible move,” Roberta said as she looked at Jannifer and Alice, “but they forgot to check on you when they woke up this morning. So, they must pay the piper.”
Both girls were wearing one piece sleepsuits – Jannifer in a pink one with little rabbits, Alice in a blue one.
“I look ridiculous,” Alice said as she looked down at her covered feet.
“Enough talking – I want you both to sit back to back on the bed, and put your arms behind you around each other.”
The two girls did as they were told, as Roberta handed Nats and Fi a length of cord. “Tie their wrists together in front of the other girl’s stomach,” she said, “and then secure their upper bodies together in any way you desire.”
Heidi nudged Cindy as they watched their friends securing the other two in the way Roberta described. “I’ve got an idea for tomorrow,” she whispered.
“Oh no – it’s a school trip tomorrow, remember?”
“Nothing visible,” Heidi said as she whispered into Cindy’s ear, the dark haired girl grinning broadly as she heard the plan. “Yeah – that I can get behind,” she said as Jannifer and Alice found themselves tightly bound back to back.
“Right – gag them now, and then they need to lie on the bed,” Roberta said. Fi and Natalie folded two bandanas and pushed them into the open mouths of their friends, before covering their lips and cheeks with micropore tape. Helping them both to lie down, the two girls then secured their ankles and legs, both individually and then to each other.
“No blindfolds, no earplugs, but you spend the night like this,” Roberta said as she looked at them. “I will take the room key, and I will check on your during the night and wake you in the morning. Remember the rest of you – you need to be in the restaurant at eight tomorrow, and the minibus will take us to the Smithsonian at nine.”
She turned the light off as they left the room, returning to their own bedrooms and retiring for the night…
Elena looked up as Natalie and Fi came into the restaurant. Natalie had on a long tiered skirt and sandals, with a short sleeved blouse on top, while Fi was wearing a blue denim knee length dress over a black jumper and black Ugg boots.
“Good morning,” she said, “where is your grandmother Natalie?”
“She’s just rousing the others,” Nats said as she sat down, “they should be here soon.”
“Are you too all right – you’re walking in a funny way.”
“Just a bit stiff from the weekend – we’ll walk it off,” Fi said as she poured some orange juice, while Heidi and Cindy joined them. Cindy had a blue pinafore dress on over a white jumper, while Heidi was wearing a white cardigan over a floral print dress that buttoned up the front.
Roberta then appeared with Jannifer and Alice, both girls wearing knee length skirts and smock tops. Roberta had one a grey trouser suit, while Elena was wearing a black waistcoat over a blue jumper and pants.
“Well, eat up girls,” Roberta said as one by one they walked to the breakfast bar.
“They can’t all be that stiff,” Elena whispered as she watched them walk.
“They’re not – I’ll explain later,” Roberta said with a smile…
As they drove into the centre of Washington, Elena and Roberta pointed out some of the monuments they passed, before they arrived at their destination.
“Before you head off to take care of your assignments…”
“Assignments?” Natalie looked at the others, as Roberta opened her bag and handed a book to each of them.
“This is an educational trip,” Elena continued, “and these workbooks are designed to make sure you learn the most from the museums here. Follow the instructions, and take notes. But, as I was saying, before you head off what would you like to do tonight to mark the end of the trip.”
“Apart from eating,” Natalie said as she twisted her sandal covered feet around.
“Apart from eating?”
“Could we have something like our slumber parties?” Fi looked at Heidi as she said this, and said “Is that like…”
“Oh yes it is,” Cindy said with a smile, “but with all six of us this time?”
“Ah – well, one of needs to get some sleep, and one of us needs to drive tomorrow, but we’ll sort that out later. For now, take your notebooks, and get to work – we’ll break for lunch at one at the National Air and Space Museum.”
As the girls walked off, Roberta whispered something into Elena’s ear. “Oh boy,” was her response as they followed them to the first museum…
“So far so good, girls?”
Elena bit into her bagel as she watched the girls looking through their notebooks.
“I think so,” Alice said as she stretched her legs out under her skirt, and took a drink of her apple juice.
“And those ropes are still in place around your legs?”
“Busted,” Heidi said as the other girls laughed.
“Well, at least you are being discrete about it,” Roberta said with a smile. “When we drive back tomorrow, however – no repeat of last time, all right? We’re going all the way home, it will take most of the day, and we need a few rest stops.”
“Especially if we have to play nanny,” Elena said with a smile. “Look, I have an idea for tonight. There’s a McDonald’s down the road from the hotel – why don’t Roberta and I pick up some popcorn, drinks and things, then go there to pick up some food, and we’ll use one of your rooms. Sound good?”
“Sounds great – if we get burgers and nuggets.”
“And onion rings and…”
“Whoa, Whoa, Whoa,” Roberta said as she raised her hand. “Elena, are you specifically saying tonight is an off night?”
“Given what we have to eat tomorrow – yes.”
“Okay then – finish your lunch, get back to work, and we aim to be back at the minibus by five. I get the feeling this is going to be a long night…”
As the party walked back into the hotel lobby, they were all tired from the walking and the work – it had been fun, but gruelling.
“Right then,” Elena said as she looked at her watch, “whose room?”
“We’ll use ours,” Heidi said as she looked at Cindy.
“All right then – I want you to go, pack as much as you can pack tonight, rest up for a few minutes, and then meet in Heidi and Cindy’s room suitably attired at seven. Roberta and I will sort out the supplies and then deliver them to you before we go to get the hot food.”
“Gotcha,” Alice said as she led the way to the lifts, while Roberta said “the 7-11 just down the road?”
“Sounds good to me,” Elena said as they walked out of the hotel again.
Cindy adjusted the strap on her pink top and walked back into the front room, sitting on one of the chairs and crossing her legs under her on the seat as she watched Heidi walk in. Her friend was wearing a short sleeved white nightshirt, with a pair of white bed socks covering her feet, while Cindy had a pair of matching shorts on.
“Good trip so far,” she said as she turned on the television, and found a music channel.
“Yeah – I’ve enjoyed it,” Cindy said, “Fi turned out to be one of us after all, and that was one of the questions in my mind.”
A knock on the door distracted them, as Heidi let Alice and Jannifer in. Jannifer had on her Rapunzel pink nightshirt, while Alice was wearing a pair of white silk pyjamas.
“Jannifer, we’re nearly sixteen, for goodness sake – don’t you think it’s time you changed your nightwear?”
“IT’s about as likely to happen as Nats agreeing to spend an entire week wearing high heels,” Jannifer said as she sat down, tucking her knees up and letting the skirt of her nightdress cover her legs, “but please, feel free to keep trying.”
“Keep trying what,” Natalie said as she came in with Fi. Nats was dressed as they expected her to be, in a long white t-shirt, but it was Fi who surprised them all, in her pink pyjamas with a white cat face on them.
“I need to wash the others – this was what Mum put in. Don’t think badly of…” She looked at Jannifer, and then turned away, stifling a laugh as she did so.
“See, Jannifer – you need to change!”
“Nope – you can make equal fun of Hello Kitty over there instead!”
“All right, all right, enough – supplies?”
“That will be them now,” Cindy said as she went to the door, admitting Elena and Roberta. The two women were wearing jogging pants and sweat shirts, as they laid bottles of coke and other drinks down, and placed some bags of microwave popcorn next to the microwave oven.
“Right, we’re off to get the food,” Roberta said as they walked off again, “try not to eat too much before we get back.”
The girls waited until the door had shut, before Nats said “Right – we need to decide on the traditional end of trip hazing for the two of them. What do you think?”
“What have you got in mind?”
“Nothing,” Nats said to Alice, “until we have the food delivered. After that, however, I think we pull the switch and bait on them – give them a reason not to leave the room.”
“I’m game,” Heidi said as she looked at Natalie, “What do we need?”
“some prepared supplies – and this couch cleared. Where are they?”
“In the bedroom,” Heidi said as Alice and Jannifer went in…
“Right – food for all,” Elena said as Heidi let them in, and she deposited a number of boxes with a yellow M on them on the coffee table, Roberta following with bags of French fries.
“where is everyone else,” Elena said as she looked at Heidi and Cindy.
The two girls looked at each other, and then pushed the two older women down onto the couch – as Nats and Alice jumped up from behind the couch, and lassoed both of them, pulling the rope tight around their arms. At the same time, Fi and Jannifer came through from the bedroom and looped rope around their ankles, making them secure and tightly held together.
“Tonight,” Heidi said as she and Cindy looked at them, “we look after you…”
“As if we have a choice in the matter,” Roberta said as her granddaughter pulled her arms behind her back and lashed her wrist together, while young Fi finished securing her ankles, and then started to bind her legs together below her knees. To her side, Elena watched as Jannifer and Alice performed the same task on her, leaning forward to allow Alice to finish binding her upper body.
“Now,” Natalie said as she opened on one of the boxes the two older women had brought in, “What are you having?”
“There should be a chicken wrap in there – that’s mine. Elena is having the salad box. Otherwise, it’s all yours.”
Alice picked up a plastic fork, opened the top of the box and added the dressing, before piercing a forkful and saying “Open wide…”
As the coaches started to eat, Fi turned the television over to the MTV channel, and then sat back.
“Oh god,” Roberta said as the boy band started singing their first song, “Not this, anything but this!”
“OH YEAH,” Jannifer said as the words came out.
She told me in the morning she don't feel the same
about us in her bones
It seems to me that when I die these words will be written on my stone
And I'll be gone gone tonight
The ground beneath my feet is open wide
The way that I've been holding on too tight
With nothing in between
The story of my life, I take her home
I drive all night to keep her warm and time is frozen
(The story of, the story of)
The story of my life I give her hope
I spend her love until she's broke inside
The story of my life(the story of, the story of)
“Oh the humanity,” Elena said with a laugh as she continued to be fed.
“Ah stop complaining, Gran,” Nats said, “it’s not as if we’re tickling you.
“You would not dare,” Roberta said, then realised the position she was in as Fi slipped off her trainers, and smiled – a smile of evil intent.
“At least let us finish eating,” Elena pleaded.
“Yeah,” Cindy said as she popped another chicken nugget into her mouth, “they should enjoy their meal.”
Alice and Jannifer looked at each other, and then grabbed Cindy, pulling her arms behind her back as Alice picked up another length of rope.
“Hey, what gives,” Cindy said in a tone of mock terror as the two girls tightly bound her arms and legs.
“You were on the coaching staff as well, remember – you deserve to get the same treatment, don’t they Nats?”
“Why yes, yes they do,” Natalie replied as she saw Heidi trying to quietly escape to the door. Fi noticed it as well, as she stood up and gently guided her back.
“I guess I have no choice – at least let me go to the toilet first,” she said as she raised her hands in surrender.
“But of course – just don’t take too long,” Natalie said, the sweetest of smiles on her face…
“Well, I suppose they are cute,” Elena said as the concert finished, “but I much prefer muuaaaaAMMMAAHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!”
Her critical comments were stopped as Jannifer started to tickle the bare soles of her feet, while Roberta squirmed and laughed out loud at the touch of Natalie. Heidi and Cindy were sat on the other couch, unable to respond as Fi and Alice started to tickle the back of their bound knees as well.
All four of them had no choice but to take the punishment, wriggling as much as they could to avoid it before giving in, the two younger girls slipping onto the floor in their attempt to escape. The only allowed Fi and Alice to roll them onto their stomachs and place both Heidi and Cindy in a hogtie, allowing them free and easy access to their feet and sides.
“Doooooonnntt tyyouuuuuu DAAAREEEEEE,” Roberta said as she looked at Natalie.
“Don’t worry Granny – we’re not going to do that to you,” she said as she looked at Roberta. “Tempting, but we’re not going to. After all, you and Elena are going to be driving all day tomorrow.”
“Good – because you girls need to gotottbdddhahtthth.”
Elena was unable to stop Fi as she pushed a balled up sock into her mouth, and then wound an athletic bandage around her mouth and head, keeping the stuffing firmly in place and muffling Elena’s calls more and more.
“I knew this was a bdaddeee,” Roberta said as she too was gagged, and Natalie gave her a little kiss on her cheek. “There now – no more complaints, especially when I put Shaun of the Dead on to watch.”
“Hnnsuugghgrrrtt,” Elena said as the film started, and the four girl sat round them, popcorn in hand.
“Hey – what about us,” Heidi called up from the floor.
“Don’t worry,” Alice said as she helped them to wriggle over, and then sat between them, “I’m the designated popcorn feeder for tonight…”
Fi opened her eyes and stretched her arms out, looking round the room as she did so. The sun was just starting to come through the drawn curtains, while an infomercial was playing on the television.
Natalie and Jannifer had their heads resting on the shoulders of Elena and Roberta, all four quietly snoring, while Alice lay between Cindy and Heidi. The two other girls had rolled onto their sides, their heads resting on pillows, while Alice had her head on her hands.
Yawning, Fi looked over at the clock, and then nudged Roberta.
“Thank you, thank you all,” she mumbled before she opened her eyes. “What time is it?”
“Seven – shall I start untying Heidi and Cindy?”
“Please,” Roberta said as Natalie started to stir, “we need to get our breakfast, and then hit the open road. We’re due back at about eight tonight.”
Amy and Dorothy got out of their car as Katherine, Blossom and Margaret walked towards the school entrance.
“How did Anne and Kayla enjoy the rest of their weekend,” Katherine said as they met by the door.
“Very much so – we persuaded them to stay another night,” Dorothy said with a smile. “They also said Sarah and Brian should be back in the next day or two.”
“I’ll let Heather know,” Katherine said as the minibus drew up, and stopped in front of them. The door opened and Elena got out, while Roberta went to the back and started to take the bags out.
“Yes thanks Mum,” Jannifer said as she hugged Blossom. “I brought the girls a little gift.”
“Well, you all look as if you had fun,” Katherine said. “Fi, I’m going to bring you home with us, all right?”
“Thanks,” Fi said with a shy smile.
“Oh, and Fi – don’t forget Thursday,” Heidi said as she and Cindy went to the car with their mothers.
“Thursday – isn’t that your weekly meeting with Chloe?”
“Yup – Fi has expressed an interest,” Cindy said as Amy and Dorothy looked at each other.
“Nothing – just wondering if her mother knows,” Dorothy said with a smile as they drove off.