Jay Comes to the Party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Well, that’s the first week of term out of the way,” Yvonne said as she sat down with Mark Williamson, “only another thirty-nine to go?”

 

“Here,” Mark said as he poured a glass of red wine and passed it to her, “this might help you feel better.”

 

“Thanks,” she said as she looked at the photographs arranged on the coffee table, “so what do we have here?”

 

“Well,” Mark said as he looked at them, “I think it’s about time we secured the funds for our winter holiday.”

 

“Even with what is in the deposit box?”

 

“You know we can’t touch that,” Jay said with a smile, “no, and I already briefed Brian.  This one is purely pleasure, if you wish to look at it that way.”

 

“So,” Yvonne said as she picked up the picture of a red haired seven year old girl, “What do we have?”

 

“That’s Bobby, the youngest daughter of Sir Magnus Portnoy,” Mark said.

 

“Chairman of the British International Trade Enterprise commission?”

 

“That’s him.  He’s the head of the British branch of a multinational – so I think visiting him will scratch quite a few itches.”

 

“So, family?  I see Mrs McPhee will be needed.”

 

“Four daughters – Carmel is seventeen, Cathy fifteen and Janice ten.  Notice anything?”

 

“They don’t look like each other?”

 

“No they don’t – they’re all adopted.  His wife Angelica is the manager of a local building society branch, and his mother Roberta lives with them in this well appointed Tudor farmhouse.”

 

Yvonne looked at the large building, and then said “so, a simple visit and then Magnus goes for a drive?”

 

“In the main – one little twist though.  I have a date in mind, but it is the day of Janice’s birthday.”

 

“Is it now?  Well, perhaps we can use that to help keep the kids quiet and calm, true?”

 

“That’s what I was hoping you would say,” Mark said with a smile.  “I’ll call a few of the guys to meet us on the Saturday morning...”

 

“Your mum’s staying the weekend, so I guess we have another late dinner dance,” Yvonne said quietly.  “They do so take it out of you...”

 

 

 

“All right – you two have fun,” Mark’s mother said as he and Yvonne got into the car, Charlie and Lisa waving to them as they reversed down the driveway and set off.

 

“Well now,” Mark said as they headed down the road, “I know this nice little country bar we could get some lunch in once we’ve checked in, and still have time to get to the rendezvous.”

 

“That sounds divine,” Joyce said as she looked out of the window, “when are we meeting them?”

 

“Three o’clock, at the John Lewis car park in Hugh Wycombe...”

 

 

 

The car park at this store is on several levels, and often very busy, so nobody paid much attention to the white transit van as the three men walked towards it, collars turned up to keep the early autumn wind out before they climbed in one by one.

 

“Afternoon gentlemen,” Jay Edwards said as they climbed in, “ready for an honest day’s work?”

 

“No – but we’re ready for work,” one of them said as the other’s laughed.

 

“Fair point – Mrs McPhee is up front, but I hope you have all come prepared to help out with party games?”

 

“Party Games?”

 

“That’s right – one of the girls has their birthday today, and we’re going to give her a day to remember...”

 

“So how are we going to do this?”

 

“Patience my boys,” Mrs McPhee said in her soft Scottish accent, “all in good time...”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was about four thirty when Carmel Portnoy pulled up outside the family home.  She had just passed her test, but only Cathy had the courage to come back early with her.  The seventeen year old was wearing a red padded jerkin over a blue jumper, the fur lined hood down her back, as well as a pair of old blue jeans.  Knee length black leather boots completed her outfit.

 

“Well, at least we got back before the others,” Cathy said as she got out.  The fifteen year old had long blonde hair, which fell over the shoulders of her striped blouse, black leggings and knee length black boots.  Her sister smiled as her chestnut brown hair blew in the wind, and said “okay then – we put up the decorations before we went to the cinema, so now let’s get her presents inside so she can open them later.”

 

She quickly unlocked the front door, and stood back as Cathy carried in two large reusable supermarket bags, brightly coloured and wrapped packages protruding from the top.  Carmel smiled as she locked her car, and then closed the door behind herself – not seeing the white van as it came up the driveway and parked out of sight at the far side of the house.

 

“You want these put in the front room?”

 

“If you could,” Carmel said as she walked to the kitchen, “I’m going to put the oven on so that we can start cooking some of the party food.”

 

“When’s Granny going to get back?”

 

“She went to pick up the cake, so she should not be too far behind us – in fact, that might be her now,” Carmel said as she heard the front door open, but then several people come in.

 

Walking out of the kitchen, she saw Roberta Portnoy standing in the doorway.  Her grandmother was wearing a brown cardigan over a woollen multicoloured dress, with a white top visible at her neck.  The dress came down to her knees, her brown tights visible down to a pair of short ankle boots, and her grey hair was neatly cut.

 

But there was a look of fear in her eyes as she stood holding the cake box, with four masked men and a masked woman behind her, all dressed in boiler suits, wearing black gloves and with balaclavas over their heads.  One of them had a sawn off shotgun pressed to her grandmother’s side, as he whispered in a Geordie accent “Not a word pet – take the box from your grandmother, and Mrs McPhee will accompany you while you take it to the kitchen.”

 

“Carmel, what’s...

 

“Hello – you must be Cathy,” the masked woman said in a soft Scottish accent, “why don’t ye take the box from yer granny, and I’ll come through to the kitchen with you and your sister?”

 

“Cathy, do as she says,” Roberta said, the fifteen year old nodding as she took the box from her hand and walked into the kitchen with the woman.

 

“Now then,” the man said, “allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Jay Edwards, and my friends and I are going to be spending some time here tonight.  The good news is, you have some extra help for young Janice’s birthday tea here.  But I must ask you to do exactly what I say, and to not raise the alarm as the others arrive.  Do you understand?”

 

Roberta nodded as she said “what are you going to do to us?”

 

“Oh, it will all become clear soon enough.  For now, you need to make the preparations before the others arrive – and while you do that, my friends will be making sure the alarm cannot be raised, and my friend Mrs McPhee will look after the girls.”

 

The older woman watched as the masked woman talked to the two girls, and then produced two lengths of cord from her pocket, using them to bind the wrists of both girls together in front of themselves.

 

“We will wait in the front room,” Mrs McPhee said as she took the two girls through Roberta also noting the strips of white tape that covered their mouths as she and one of the other masked men followed her in.

 

“Now then,” Jay said as he took Roberta’s arm, “allow us to help you in the kitchen...”

 

 

“Thanks for the party mum!!”

 

Janice Portnoy was grinning from ear to ear as she sat in the back of the car, looking out as they drove down the road towards their farmhouse.  The ten year old girl was wearing a white poncho, decorated with hearts of different colours and shades, which covered a white t-shirt and knee length shorts.  She was also wearing a pair of blue beach sandals, her Ugg boots in the boot of the car.

 

Her seven year old sister Bobby was sitting next to her, wearing a white t-shirt with red trim, light brown jeans and a pair of old willies.  She was looking through her glasses, her long blonde hair falling over  her face.

 

“When we get back,” Angelica said from behind the steering wheel, “you both go to the toilet, and then we will play a few games as a family with Granny and the other girls before you have your tea.  That sound like fun?”

 

Janice nodded as they pulled up to the front of the house, Angelica not noticing the grey van parked outside as she got out of the car.  The thirty nine year old had her red hair pulled back, and was wearing a purple cardigan over a patterned top, a denim skirt and knee length brown leather boots.

 

“All right you two – into the house, while I get the last bag out of the car,” Angelica said, Janice and Bobby running into the house as she retrieved a black holdall from the boot of the car, as well as Janice’s boots, and walking back into the house.

 

“Roberta, are you in the kitchen?”

 

“We’re in the front room, Angelica – can you come in for a moment please?”

 

“Sure what’s...

 

Angelica stopped in the doorway as she looked at Carmel and Cathy, sitting on a couch with their wrists tied together in front of them, cords holding their ankles together and their legs below their knees, and strips of white tape over their mouths.  Janice and Bobby were standing in front of a woman, dressed in a blue boiler suit and with a balaclava covering her head.  Her leather gloved hands were over the mouths of both girls, as their eyes flitted from their sister to their mother.

 

Dinnae panic,” the woman said, “if ye do as ye’re told, then this is going to be the most exciting day of your lives.”

 

“Who – who are you?  What’s going on,” Angelica said as she looked at Roberta, who was sitting in a chair, looking up as one of the other masked and armed men put his hand on her shoulder.

 

“Hello Angelica,” he said in a soft Geordie accent, “my name is Jay Edwards.  I believe you may have heard of me?”

 

“Oh my god,” Angelica said as she looked at him.  “Then this is Mrs McPhee.”

 

“A pleasure,” the woman said as she nodded to Angelica.

 

“Please,” Angelica said quietly, “not today...”

 

“I am afraid it is today, Angelica, but my business today is not with you, it is with your husband when he returns home.  I am also aware that today is your birthday,” Jay said as he looked at Janice, who was squirming under Mrs McPhee’s hand, “and I wish you to enjoy the rest of your birthday.  It is just that the games you play will be somewhat different from what you expected, and what your mother has planned, all right?”

 

Janice slowly nodded as Mrs McPhee said “We’ll have a real fun time, lassie.”

 

“Do as we say, and everyone gets along just fine,” Jay said as he looked at Angelica.  “Mrs McPhee, would you please ensure the two younger sisters are as comfortable as the older girls, while their mother and grandmother come into the kitchen with me?”

 

“Of course,” she said as she looked at the girls.  “If ah take my hands away, will ye both do what I say?  I promise you it will not hurt, does it girls?”

 

Carmel and Cathy looked at each other, and then shook their heads as she removed her hands.  “Are you robbers,” Janice said as she turned and looked at him. 

 

“We are, but today is your day, so everything is going to be to celebrate you.  To start with, however, I want both of you to be like your big sisters – so, sit yerselves on that couch, shuffle back, and out your hands together in front of you as if you are praying at Sunday School.”

 

The two girls walked over and sat together, putting their hands together and watching as Mrs McPhee took some lengths of cord from a bag and tied their wrists tightly together.

 

“Why are you doing this,” Janice said as Mrs McPhee started to tie her ankles together.

 

“Jay wants yer daddy to do something for him,” she said as she pulled the rope between her ankles and tied it off, and then pulled Bobby’s wellingtons off before she started to tie her ankles.  “We want him to do it nice and quietly, so we’re going to stay for a while, and make sure you stay here while he does that.”

 

“So what will we do,” Bobby said as the masked woman tied her legs together, and then did the same for Janice, both of them below their knees like their older sisters.

 

“Now, we need you to be quiet, so that nobody else finds out what is going on until they need to,” Mrs McPhee said as she picked a roll of white tape from the bag.  “I’m going to put this over your mouths for now.  Later on, we may try something different, but this will help you stay silent.  Right, girls?”

 

Srrhthtt,” Candace said as she tried to speak, Janice giggling as she saw her lips moving under the tape.

 

“Okay – do it,” she said, feeling the slight pull on her face as the tape was smoothed into place over her mouth.  Bobby nodded as she was gagged as well, before Angelica came back in.

 

“All right girls,” she said quietly, “we’re going to play some games in a little while, and then when your daddy comes home we will have your birthday tea.  This lady will be helping me and your grandmother, so allow us the time to get ready, all right?”

 

All four girls nodded as tow of the masked men came in, and Mrs McPhee accompanied Angelica to the kitchen.

 

“Are they all right?”

 

“They’re fine,” she said to Roberta, “actually, I think they’re treating it as part of the games for the day.  Just promise me nothing of theirs will be touched?”

 

“I promise – our business is with your husband,” Jay said as Roberta took some sausage rolls out of the oven, and put them on the wire rack to cool.  “So – protocol.  If the phone rings, you will answer it, and as quickly as possible without hinting on what is happening end the call.  If the girls need the toilet, one of us will accompany you and her, and you will use the downstairs toilet.  When it comes to bedtime...”

 

“What about bedtime?”

 

“We will deal with that at the time,” Mrs McPhee said.  “Is there much more cooking to be done?”

 

“The pizzas – but they go in before we eat.  So what happens now?”

 

“Where were you planning to have the party games?”

 

“In the back room – I was going to play with them, but...”

 

“Angelica,” Jay said quietly, as he held up a length of cord, “you are going to be like them.  Sit down, and put your hands together in prayer...”

 

“I suppose I should be glad her friends came to the party at the sports centre,” Angelica said as she watched Jay bind her wrists, and Roberta was sat down.  “I can imagine you would have had real fun controlling all of them.”

 

“Are you expecting any other guests,” Mrs McPhee said as she looked at the table.

 

Roberta looked at Angelica, as Jay taped her mouth over, and said “three of Janice’s friends are going to come for the tea and a sleepover.  In fact, they’ll arrive in a few minutes.”

 

“Well then,” Mrs McPhee said, “you will let them come in, and assure their parents they will be ready to collect in the morning.  After that, we shall see what happens.”

 

The sound of the doorbell ringing made Angelica mumble “Hgddd” as Roberta slowly stood up.  Mrs McPhee walked with her to the front door, standing out of sight as she watched the grandmother.

 

“Oh hello Karen – come away in.  Janice is in the front room, and she will be pleased to see you.  We’ll look after her for now – and we’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

 

Mrs McPhee watched as a dark haired Chinese girl came in, wearing a red t-shirt over a long sleeved black top, and jeans with the legs tucked into black Ugg style boots.

 

“See you mum,” she said as the door closed, and then she gasped as she saw the masked woman.

 

“Hello Karen,” she said quietly as she took the young girl’s hand, “today is going to be a very different party.  Come with me and I’ll show you...”

 

She took Karen into the front room, Roberta hearing her say “oh my...” before one of the armed men came out and watched her.

 

When Mrs McPhee came back out, the doorbell rang again, so she quickly hid as Roberta opened the door.  This time, it was a blonde haired girl, wearing a sleeveless white blouse and a long fawn cotton skirt with white sandals.

 

“Linda,” Roberta said as the young girl put her hands to her mouth, “I want you to go with this woman, and she’ll explain what is going to happen.”

 

 

 

It was five minutes later when the last girl arrived, and waved to her parents as she came in.  Mandy also had blonde hair, and was wearing a padded jacket over a white top with floral patterned cuffs, brown riding jodhpurs and knee length brown suede boots with a patterned cuff.

 

“Coo,” she said as she saw Mrs McPhee, “is Janice been robbed?”

 

“In a way – I need you to take off yer coat, lass, and put your hands together in front of yourself.”

 

Taking her jacket off, she watched as Roberta took her coat, and Mrs McPhee tied her wrists together in front of her.  “This next – you’ll see why,” she said as she smoothed a length of white tape over her mouth, and then walked her into the front room.

 

Hllmndee,” Janice said as she saw the other taped and bound girls, nodding as she was sat on the floor next to Karen and her ankles and legs were secured.

 

“All right then,” Mrs McPhee said as Jay came in, “this is going to be a very special birthday party for Janice, and we’re going to start by playing some games.  All of you, on your feet, and then jump through to the next room.

 

Fllwmmm,” Carmel said as she and Cathy stood up, waiting as the other girls got to their feet, either on their own or with help from Mrs McPhee.  They all formed a line behind Carmel, ad started to make little bunny hops, Janice and her friends giggling as they jumped out of the front room, down the corridor and into the back room.

 

Cmmnngrls,” Angelica said as she sat to one side, her wrists also tied in front of her and her legs secured, white tape over her mouth as the girls looked at the row of seven seats, arranged so they faced in different directions.

 

“All right then,” Mrs McPhee said as she walked over to a CD player, “we’re going to start with a game of musical chairs.  You know the rules – it’s just that instead of walking round, you will be jumping round.  Understand?”

 

All seven of them nodded, waiting for Mrs McPhee to start the music before they all started to jump around the row.  When she stopped it, they all managed to find a seat, Mrs McPhee nodding as they all stood up, and one of the masked men in the room removed a chair.

 

“And away we go,” she said as she started the music again, the girls looking at each other as they jumped around the remaining six chairs.  When the music stopped, the girls jumped into seats, with Carmel allowing the other girls to win.

 

“Come and have a seat here,” the masked man said as he took another chair, and then helped Carmel to jump over and sit next to her mum.

 

Hwwrrthe?”

 

Clllmmmcshlee,” Carmel mumbled to her mother and the music started again.  One by one the girls were eliminated, until the final was held between Janice and Linda.

 

As they jumped about, Linda’s skirt rose up and down, revealing the rope around her bound ankles as they moved around the one remaining chair.  Mrs McPhee smiled as she stopped the music... and Linda jumped onto the chair first, Janice landing on her lap as they both giggled.

 

“Well done,” Mrs McPhee said as they got up, “we’ll get a wee prize for you later.  So, are you ready for another game?”

 

The girls all nodded as she produced a black scarf.  “Well, let’s play Blind Man’s Bluff,” she said, “who want to be it first?”

 

Bobby raised her bound hands, and waited for Mrs McPhee to tie the scarf over her eyes before the other girls jumped out of the way.  Mccmmtgttu,” she said through her tape as she started to jump around, her arms outstretched until she caught Mandy.

 

Mtrrn,” Mandy said as Mrs McPhee removed the blindfold, Bobby jumping over and then onto Angelica’s lap as she rested with her head on her mother’s chest, and Roberta came into the room, helping to keep the girls safe as Mandy took her turn.

 

Once again, each girl took their turn, until Cathy had the blindfold removed.

 

“Well now,” Roberta said as she looked at Mrs McPhee, “I think we need a quieter game.  How about Pass the Parcel?”

 

Llllstthssut,” Carmel said as the other girls were helped to sit in a circle, and a brightly coloured and wrapped parcel was produced.  For this game, Roberta took care of the music, Mrs McPhee nodding to the two men in the room as she walked over to Angelica and Carmel.

 

“I’m going to take Carmel into the kitchen, to help me with the final preparations for the birthday tea,” she said as she knelt down and untied the young girl’s legs.  “You remain here – I suggest a karaoke contest for the last game, and you can be the judge.”

 

Bttheecntsnng,” Angelica said as she watched Janice rip a layer off.

 

“Oh, I think you will find they can manage,” Mrs McPhee said as she took Carmel by the arm and walked her into the kitchen. 

 

“We’re going to untie your wrists and remove the tape,” Jay said as they came in, “do not do anything to raise the alarm, understand?”

 

“I’ve moved the van,” another of the masked men said as he came in, adjusting the balaclava.

 

“Good – now then Carmel, why don’t you start to pt the food onto the serving plates?”

 

From the back room, they could now hear the sound of one of the girls trying to sing a song, the words and sounds muffled by the tape, as Carmel and Mrs McPhee carried the plates of food in.

 

“What’s going to happen when you take my dad away,” she said a few minutes later, as the pizzas went into the oven.

 

“Well, Janice and her friends are due to have a sleepover, so we’ll make sure they are all nice and snug in their sleeping bags.  The rest of you will also be secure and safe in your own beds – although,” Jay said, “we may allow Bobby to sleep with your mother.”

 

“And when you mean we will be secure and safe...”

 

“Well, it may spoil the surprise – you’ve all been very brave so far,” Jay said, “so I count on you to help your mother and grandmother when the time comes, all right?”

 

“I guess so – I don’t really have a choice, do I?”

 

“No – no you don’t.  So, I want you to go with Mrs McPhee, and bring the first of the girls through to the dining room.”

 

Carmel nodded as she went with Mrs McPhee, and Jay went to the dining room, pulling the first of the chairs out as Bobby was brought through.  Mrs McPhee helped her to sit in the chair, and as she raised her hands Jay used a length of rope to tie her waist to the chair back, and then untied her hands.

 

“Keep the tape on your mouth for now,” he said, Bobby nodding as she rubbed her wrists and he pushed the chair in.  Cathy came next, sitting herself in the next seat and raising her arms.

 

 

As Angelica walked in, she saw the girls sitting round the table, their legs and waists bound but their hands free, as Roberta and Carmel brought in the pizzas.  Placing them on the table, Jay said “all right girls, you may now remove the tape from your mouths.”

 

As they peeled the tape away, they handed the strips to one of the men, before Janice said “Hey – I can finally say welcome to my rather different birthday tea!”

 

“What’s going on Janice,” Karen asked.

 

“We’ll explain it all later,” Mrs McPhee said as they heard the door open, “for now, let my friend Jay do the talking.”

 

“Hey – am I too late for tea?”

 

“No dad,” Janice called out, “and there’s a surprise for you.”

 

They all looked to the door as Magnus Portnoy looked in, stopping short as he said “what the...”

 

“Good evening Sir Magnus,” Jay said as he stood behind the financier, “as you can see, your daughter’s birthday tea had taken a somewhat unplanned diversion, but all the girls are having fun, aren’t you?”

 

“It’s all right, Dad,” Janice said as her friends nodded, “we’ve played games, and had fun.  I know we can’t move from the chairs, but we’re all right.  In fact, it’s actually been kinda fun.”

 

“Who are you?”

 

“Oh man, where are my manners,” Jay said with a smile.  “My name is Jay Edwards, and these are my associates.  The woman helping your wife and mother is Mrs McPhee – she is here to make sure Janice, Bobbi and the younger girls are kept calm and do what we need them to do.  Perhaps if you, Angelica and I retire to the front room, I can explain what is going to happen.  The girls are all perfectly safe with Roberta, Carmel and Cathy.”

 

“We’ll manage Dad,” Carmel said, “please, go and listen to him.”

 

“This way,” Jay said as he took Angelica by the arm, and walked with him and Sir Magnus into his front room, a masked man accompanying them.

 

“You’re Jay Edwards,” Sir Magnus said as he sat down and loosened his tie.  “So this is a robbery?”

 

“Indeed – and we apologise for both the inconvenience to you and your family, and also for the fact Janice’s birthday is not going the way you planned.  Now, I am not going to insult your intelligence by asking if you are going to cooperate – as you can see, we are in control.”

 

“I’m sorry darling,” Angelica said as she put her hand on his arm, “When I got back with Janice and Bobbi, they already had your mother and the older girls hostage.”

 

“I have your word, if I do as you say, they will not be harmed?”

 

“Beyond the fact that they will all be unable to move or speak, you have my word they will be safe and well,” Jay said with a smile.  “So, let us return to the kitchen, and join your daughter and the others at their birthday tea.  I’m sure you have a lot to talk about...”

 

 

 

“So,” Mrs McPhee said as she looked at Janice, “what were you and your friends planning to do after the tea?”

 

“We were going to go to my room and watch a film, just hang out together,” Janice said as she looked at the masked woman, “can we still do that?”

 

“For a little while, yes – but we need to make sure you cannot run away, so one of my friends will stay in the room with you, and we’re going to have to tie your wrists and ankles.  But we won’t put something over your mouths, if you all promise to be quiet and not try to make a loud noise.  All right?”

 

The four girls looked at each other and nodded as Mrs McPhee looked at Angelica.  “We’ll untie them, take them up to go to the toilet, and re-tie them in the room, while you prepare any snacks and drinks they may need and bring them in due course.”

 

“And the rest of us?”

 

“Well, you can watch some television in the front room for a while – secured of course,” Jay said as Mrs McPhee untied Janice, Karen, Linda and Mandy, and took them with one of the masked men up the stairs.

 

“Mummy, will we have our mouths covered again?”

 

“Not for now Bobbi,” Jay said quietly, noting the relaxation in both Angelica and Roberta, “but you will when it’s bedtime, so don’t worry for now.”

 

“Okay,” Bobbi said as Angelica kissed her head.

 

“So,” Jay said as he untied Bobbi, “I want you to go with your grandmother Bobbi, and do what you need to do in the toilet, then she’s going to take you into the front room where I’ll be waiting.  After that, one at a time.  Sir Magnus, if you will come with me now?”

 

 

“There now – comfy?”

 

“Yes,” Mandy said as she wriggled her body round, looking at the others girls as they sat in the floor, by the side of Judith’s bed.  All four had their wrists tied tightly together in front of them, and their legs stretched out in front, bands of rope around their ankles and below their knees.  Mrs McPhee had also tied one end of a long length of rope to the top of the bed, looped it around their waist as they sat there, and then tied the other end to the foot of the bed.

 

“I brought Janice’s mother up with some bowls of popcorn,” Jay said as Angelica came in and placed the bowls with the girls, while Mrs McPhee turned on her television and started the film.

 

“Now remember girls – you promised not to shout or make loud noises.  If you do, my friend has this.”  She gave the masked man a roll of the wide white tape, the girls nodding as the film started and her mother left with Jay and Mrs McPhee.

 

“Hands behind your back please, Lady Portnoy,” Jay said, Angelica obeying as she felt the rope forcing her wrists together.

 

They walked down the stairs, Magnus looking up and saying “are they all right?”

 

“They’re fine,” Angelica said as she sat next to him, and watched Jay bind her ankles and legs.   On the couch next to them, Bobbi was lying down with her head on Roberta’s lap, while Carmel and Cathy were in the chairs.  All were bound hand and foot, as they watched a program on the television.

 

As time passed, Mrs McPhee noticed that Bobbi was getting more and more tired, jerking her head to keep herself awake.

 

“I think,” she eventually said, “it’s time for young Bobbi to go to bed.”  Walking over, she untied the eight year old, as well as Roberta, before she said “let’s go upstairs with Granny, and get you both ready for bed.  When Mummy comes up, I’m going to make sure you stay with her, but you can lie down with Granny for now, all right?”

 

“It’s all right, Mum,” Magnus said, “just do as they say, and we’ll all talk in the morning.”

 

She walked upstairs with the oldest and youngest members of the family, before she said “Roberta, go and find nightclothes for you and Bobbi, and then you can both change in the bathroom, before we go to your room.”  She stood with her hand on Bobbi’s shoulder as Roberta went to the younger girl’s room, returning with a light blue cotton nightdress, and then fetched a pair of white silk pyjamas for herself.

 

Mrs McPhee waited as they went into the bathroom, looking on Janice and her friends as they talked about the film, until both Bobbi and Roberta came out.  Walking to the grandmother’s room, she put the small bag she had carried up with them on the ground, and said “now, we need to make sure you both stay in the bed and cannot talk for a while – so, Bobbi, sit on the bed for a moment, and watch while I take care of your grandmother.”

 

“Okay,” the young girl said as she sat down, while Mrs McPhee took Roberta’s arms behind her back, crossed her wrists and started to bind them tightly together with the rope from the small bag.  Having secured them, she passed another length of rope around her waist, and cinched it between her wrists and back.”

 

“Are you going to do that to me,” Bobbi said as she then started to bind Roberta’s arms to her sides, the bands of rope above and below her chest.

 

“I’m going to tie your wrists in front of you Bobbi, so that you can lie on your back,” Mrs McPhee said as she inched the chest ropes by taking the rope under both arms and around the back of Roberta’s neck.  Tying the ropes off, she said “in fact, let’s do that now,” Roberta sitting next to Bobbi as she began to bind the young girl’s arms and upper body.

 

Bobbi wriggled round as Mrs McPhee tied the last knot off, and said “Now Bobbi, we need to make sure you and your grandmother stay very quiet.  I’m going to do that with three things – your grandmother first, then you, all right?”

 

She nodded as Mrs McPhee took a cloth from the bag, folded it and put it into Roberta’s mouth, and then put a smaller folded cloth into Bobbi’s.

 

“Keep breathing through your nose, and you’ll be fine,” she said as she then tied a knot in two strips of towel, and tied them between the lips of both of them, before she wound the white tape tightly round their heads, trapping their hair to their necks and silencing them both.

 

“Lie down next to each other.”

 

Bobbi pushed herself back onto the bed and wriggled up so she could rest her head on a pillow, while Roberta lay on her side, stroking her granddaughter’s head with her taped mouth as Mrs McPhee crossed and tied Bobbi’s ankles, and then secured her legs below her knees.  Walking round, she did the same to Roberta, before pulling her ankles gently back and tying them to her chest ropes.

 

“Good night,” she said quietly as she turned the lights down, Roberta starting to sing a mumbled lullaby to Bobbi as she walked down the stairs.

 

“Now then,” Jay said as she came back in, “it is time we were about our business.  Sir Magnus, you will go with my associate here, and do exactly what he tells you to do.  He will be checking in at regular intervals, and if he does not do so, or you cause a problem...”

 

He looked at the other three women, Sir Magnus nodding as she said “All right – I’ll do as you say.”

 

“Excellent – call at the pre-arranged times,” Jay said as Sir Magnus put his coat on, and was escorted out of the room.  The women listened as a car drove off, before Jay said “now then – which one of you is going to go and get ready for bed first?”

 

“Before they get ready, Jay,” Mrs McPhee said, “I think we should get Janice and her friends settled into their sleeping bags.  If you will excuse me?”

 

“I want to come up,” Angelica said, “to see that they are all right?”

 

“Very well then,” Jay said as he untied her, and she walked slowly up the stairs with Mrs McPhee, who was carrying a bag of supplies with her.

 

“Now then,” the Scottish woman said as she looked at the four girls, “it’s time for you all to get ready for bed, so I need you to take your night things, one at a time, and go with Janice’s mum to the toilet to get washed and changed.  My friend will go with her, while I stay here.”

 

“I’ll go first,” Janice said as she went with her mother, the other three girls looking at her.

 

“Are you really a gang of robbers,” Karen said.

 

“We are,” Mrs McPhee said, “but I promise you, we’ll make sure you won’t get hurt, even if ye canna move for a little while.”

 

“Why do you do this,” Mandy said as she cleaned her glasses.

 

“Well, I won’t lie to you girls, the money is a factor,” Mrs McPhee said, “but it’s also something I like doing.  Sounds strange, doesn’t it?”

 

All three nodded as Janice returned, wearing a turquoise top and bottoms with a butterfly print.  As Karen went with Angelica, Mrs McPhee looked in one of Janice’s drawers and took out four pairs of long socks.

 

“Hold yer hands out dear,” she said to Janice, who watched as she took one of the pairs and pulled them over her hands, and then crossed her wrists behind her back, the cotton protecting her wrists as she lashed them tightly together in front of her, the rope going around and between her arms.  Once they were secured, she took another length of rope and tied it round her waist, further anchoring her wrists as she did so.

 

She then took another length of rope and tied it round her arms and stomach, cinching it between her limbs and body so that they were locked in place.  As she tied this rope off, Karen returned, wearing a pair of pink pyjamas.  Mrs McPhee handed her a second pair of socks as Linda went next, and Janice sat on the bed, waving her covered hands and wriggling her body.

 

Linda came back wearing a pale blue short sleeved top with hearts on it, and bottoms with ice cream cones, and finally Mandy wearing a pink top with white sleeves and checked bottoms.  As Mrs McPhee completed tying Mandy’s body, the masked man helped Angelica to open their sleeping bags out on the floor.

 

“Now, we need tae keep you gals quiet from now on – so I want you to open your mouths, and keep breathing through your noses, all right?”

 

One by one she eased a folded cloth into their mouths, and then used a knotted strip of towel tied round their heads as a cleave gag to keep the cloth in there.  She then wrapped the white micropore tape round their heads, sealing their lips as they tried to talk to each other.

 

She then helped Janice to lie her sleeping bag,  the other three girls watching as she crossed and bound her ankles together, and then secured her legs below her knees as Janice rested her head on the pillow.  Once the rope was tied off, Mrs McPhee pulled the sleeping bag zip to close it, Janice nodding as she did so.

 

The other three girls were soon secured in the same way, all four of them looking at Mrs McPhee as she picked a book and sat down.

 

“Now then, I’m going to read a story for you, while yer mama goes and gets ready for bed,” she said, Angelica nodding as she said “get some sleep, all of you,” before the masked man escorted her out.

 

“Now then – how about ae ghost story?”

 

 

 

“Get washed and changed,” the man said as Angelica took a pair of pink pyjamas from a drawer in her room, “and then come out of the bathroom.”

 

She nodded as she unzipped and removed her boots, and then went into the bathroom, looking in the window and saying to herself “Wherever you are Marcus, just do as they say,” before she began to strip off.

 

She stood under the shower, shivering as the events of the day came back to her, and yet...  they really had not hurt her, and despite not been able to move much or talk they had all enjoyed the games and the tea.  Bobbi had gone with her mother without complaint, and Janice and her friends were happy given what had happened.

 

Getting out of the shower, she dried herself off before putting on the cotton pyjamas, and then walked out, the masked man waiting with a pair of socks and a length of cord.  She allowed him to pull the socks over her hands, and then bind her wrists together behind her back, before she was walked back downstairs.

 

“Are they all right, mum,” Carmen said as Angelica came back in.

 

“Yes – the woman, Mrs McPhee, is reading them a story.  You two?”

 

“We’re fine,” Cathy said, “but I guess we’re going to be going upstairs now.”

 

“Indeed,” Jay said as he untied their legs.  He then escorted them back up the stairs and into Cathy’s room, where he released her wrists and allowed her to remove her boots.

 

“Go with your mother to get changed,” Jay said as she found her nightdress, “and then we’ll get you settled in bed.”

 

As they walked out, Carmen said “can you untie me as well?  You can take me to my room to find something to wear for bed while they’re in there.”

 

“Excellent idea,” Jay said as he released her wrists, and they went to her bedroom.  As she collected a vest and shorts, she could hear Mrs McPhee talking to her sister and her friends.

 

“How do you do it?”

 

“How do we do what, Carmen?”

 

“We should be petrified, but somehow we’re all calm, all going along with this, and none of us is really afraid.  How?  Why?”

 

“A magician never reveals his secrets,” Jay said with a smile as he took two pairs of sports socks from her drawer, and walked back to Cathy’s room.  As they did, she looked in her grandmother’s room, both Roberta and Bobbi sleeping peacefully.

 

As they walked in, they saw Angelica with Cathy, now wearing the pale pink nightdress.  As the masked man took Carmen to the bathroom, Jay pulled a pair of sports socks up over Cathy’s arms and hands, before securing her wrists behind her back, and then fixing them in place with rope around her waist.

 

“As you are the three oldest, we need to make sure you are fully secured,” Jay said as he doubled over a long length of rope, and then passed it around Cathy’s body, pulling her arms into her sides below her chest.  “I know this is going to feel strange and different, but I assure you it will not be uncomfortable or hurt if you just stand still.”

 

Cathy nodded, Angelica watching as the bands of rope went above and below her small chest, and then he tied the ropes off behind her back.  He then used two small lengths of rope to draw the bands together under her arms, while Carman came back in.

 

“That – looks different,” she said as she looked at her younger sister, Cathy nodding as she tried to move round, while Jay covered Carmen’s hands and then started to bind her upper body as well.

 

Once she was secured, he took another longer length of rope and started to bind their mother’s arms in the same way, the main difference being he took the ends of rope under one arm, up and around the back of her neck, and then under the other arm to tighten the chest bands.

 

“Now then,” he said as he took a sponge ball from the bag he had brought up, “open your mouth Cathy.  It’s time to be quiet.”

 

“It’ll be all right,” Carmen said, Cathy nodding as she felt the sponge expanding in her mouth, pressing her tongue down as a knotted strip of towel was then tied round her head, trapping the sponge in her mouth before she felt the white tape pressing firmly on her cheeks and head, covering the two layers and leaving her only able to mumble something.

 

“One extra thing for you,” Jay said as he took from his bag a black scarf, folding in into a band and tying tightly round her head as it covered the white band.  “Now, lie down on your bed.”

 

Cathy nodded, the other two watching as she walked over and sat down, watching Jay as he knelt down and crossed her ankles, then lashed them together with the rope before he bound her legs together as well.  Cathy then rolled onto her side, watching her sister and mother as her legs were bent back and tied to her chest ropes.

 

“Keep calm, and you’ll be fine.”

 

Gnnhtmm,” Cathy mumbled as she watched her mother and sister walk out, and the light go off.

 

As they walked down the corridor, they looked into Janice’s room, where the four girls had their heads down, listening to Mrs McPhee reading.  Jay then opened the door of Carmen’s room, and escorted her and her mother inside.

 

“I guess it’s my turn now,” Carmen said as Jay closed the door, and she sat on the edge of the bed.

 

“Indeed,” Jay said as he knelt down and crossed her ankles, using more cord to lash them tightly together.  “I trust it has not been a completely terrifying experience for you?”

 

“Like I said, it should have been, but it wasn’t,” Carmen said as she felt the rope tighten with Jay passing it between her legs.  “What’s going to happen to Dad?”

 

“Once he has...”  Jay stood up as his mobile phone rang, and said into it “yes?

 

“Excellent – and the transfer is taking place without a problem?

 

“Assure him all of the family are safe and well, and will remain so as long as he cooperates with you.

 

“Good – call when the work is completed.”

 

Ending the call, he knelt again and began to bind Carmen’s legs below her knees.  “As I was saying, as long as he continues to cooperate he will be fine.  My associate will leave him secured at the offices for the rest of the evening.”

 

Carmen nodded as Jay pulled the last band of rope between her legs and tied it off.  “Now, with regret and my thanks for your cooperation, I need you to open your mouth.”

 

“I’ll talk to you when this is over in the morning Mum,” Carmen said before the sponge ball was placed in her mouth, followed by the knotted towel strip and the tape round her head.  Jay then walked to her wardrobe, and selected a long red scarf, before he tied that tightly over the white band.  She then lay on her side and waited as Jay secured her ankles to her chest ropes, settling her head on her pillows.

 

“Try to get some sleep,” Angelica said, her oldest daughter nodding as the light was turned off, and the door closed.

 

“You promised Bobby would be with me before you left,” Angelica said as she was escorted to her room.

 

“And I keep my promises, Lady Portnoy,” Jay said as she sat down, and he began to bind her legs.  “Once I have you secured, I will bring your youngest daughter in and she will lie next to you.”

 

“Thank you,” Angelica said quietly as she watched the masked intruder binding her legs below her knees, and then produced a final sponge from the bag. 

 

Five minutes later, Angelica was lying on her side on the bed, a pink silk scarf covering her layered gag as she watched Jay walk out of the room, and then return a few minutes later, carrying Bobbi in his arms.  The eight year old was sleeping peacefully, breathing in and out through her nose as her mother watched her being laid on the bed beside her, and she gave her forehead a kiss with her gagged mouth.

 

As Jay turned the light off and closed the door, she suddenly felt very tired, her eyes fluttering closed as she slipped into a deep sleep...

 

“How are the rest of the family doing?”

 

“The other girls have fallen asleep,” one of the masked men said.

 

“The party girls are all asleep as well,” Mrs McPhee said quietly as she came out of Janice’s room and closed the door.

 

“Good – check every 15 minutes until we get the all clear.”  Jay listened carefully and then said “let’s go downstairs – don’t want to wake any of them up with my phone...”

 

 

 

 

 

“Mmm?  Wkkppmmm...”

 

As Angelica slowly opened her eyes, she wondered if the events of the previous evening had just been a bad dream.  That was soon dismissed when she saw Bobbi looking at her, her eyes wide over the white band covering her mouth as she looked at her mother.

 

Gdmrrnnnbbe,” she heard herself say, “hwrruflnn?”

 

Bttstfff.  Sfrrenslp?”

 

Angelica listened to see if she could hear anyone, before she said “Dntttknn.  Wrlllthsmmlkthsss?”

 

Wrrurhnds?”

 

Angelica rolled over and waved her sock covered hands at Bobbi, relieved when she heard her laughing and say “thttsscll.  Thewrrnss, wrntth?”

 

Ystthwwr,” Angelica said as she rubbed her mouth on Bobbi’s head.  As she did this, she was vaguely aware of the front door opening, and someone calling out.

 

Smmnssdwnstrssmm?”

 

Angelica nodded as she heard the footsteps on the stairs, and then a voice saying “Lady Portnoy?  Lady Portnoy this is the police.”

 

“NNHRRRR!”

 

She looked over her shoulder as the door opened, and she saw a police officer look in.  “Check the rest of the bedrooms – and call CID,” he said as he ran over, and pulled the scarf down from her mouth.

 

“Good grief – have you any scissors?”

 

Ntthtpdrwr,” Angelica mumbled as the officer found the scissors, and cut through the tape band, peeling it away and then easing the dark towel strip and the soaking wet sponge out of her mouth.

 

“My husband,” she gasped as she tried to move her lips.

 

“He’s safe – we’re releasing everyone else now,” the officer said as she heard Roberta say “O thank god,” and the girls in Janice’s room cheering.

 

“Please, get us all free,” she said as she watched the officer remove Bobbi’s gag, “I want to see them all...”

 

 

 

 

 

“Welcome back – how was the dance,” Mark’s mother said as he and Yvonne came into the house.

 

“It was fun,” Yvonne said as Mark put the bag down.  “The kids?”

 

“Good as gold – they’ve gone down to the farm, but they asked me if they could go first.”

 

As they made their way into the kitchen, the announcer on the radio was reading the news.

 

“Reports are coming in of a daring robbery involving Sir Magnus Portnoy, chairman of the BITE commission, in which his family and a number of other young girls were held hostage over night.  Although details are sketchy, it was confirmed that Sir Magnus was found in his office in the city in the early hours of this morning by a cleaner, unconscious, bound and gagged.  Police are currently at his home, and a statement will be issued later...”

 

“Those poor dears,” Mrs Williamson said as she poured coffee into three mugs, and brought them over to the table, “the must have been terrified.  Remember when it happened to you?”

 

“I do,” Yvonne said, “so I guess we know what they went through, don’t we Mark?”

 

“I guess we do,” Mark said as he sipped his drink, “I guess we do...”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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