When Heidi Met Tammy
“So, mes amies, are you ready to begin?”
Chloe looked around the office, waiting to see if there was any reply – but she knew that, this been the escapology club, there was very little chance of that. For starters, Natalie and Alice were sitting back to back, their arms wrapped round each other and their wrists bound together in front of each other’s stomach. Rope had also been used to bind their upper bodies together, cinched at the side as the bands rubbed on Natalie’s sleeveless top and Alice’s polo shirt. Their legs were in the lotus position, their legs tied together and a length of rope running from the wrists of the other girl to the leg binding.
Jannifer, Heidi and Cindy were lying on the floor, their wrists crossed and secured behind their backs, while their bodies and legs were held in bands of rope. Each was dressed in their usual school outfits – Heidi in a jumper and jeans, Cindy in a denim bib dress over a blouse, and Jannifer in a short sleeved blouse and leggings.
Each girl also had a knotted scarf tied between their lips, as Chloe picked up a stop watch.
“Very well – you may begin – NOW!”
“Swhthrwggnntdd,” Alice said as she tried to look over her shoulder at her close friend.
“Ndeee – trndfreesmfn,” Natalie replied as the other three tried to reach the knots on their wrists or ankles. As this was an individual challenge, they were not meant to try and free each other, and especially with Chloe watching – they knew what the penalty was for cheating in these things, but they also knew that she usually left a way out – if they could find it.
After fifteen minutes, Chloe looked round. She could see that Jannifer had been patiently picking at the knot holding the rope together around her wrists – something her long fingers made possible. Looking at Cindy, she saw she had been patiently moving her wrists round, trying to gain some slack – but Heidi was relaxing, not making any attempt to escape, just enjoying the feeling.
Walking to the other side of the room, she watched as Alice and Natalie were moving.
“Ladies,” she said quietly, “I appreciate what you are doing, but somewhere less public, oui?”
The two girls nodded as they moved their hands down, and tried to untie the rope holding their wrists to the other girl’s ankles. As they did so, Jannifer grunted “gttt” as she freed her hands and rolled over, sitting herself up as she pulled the rope over her head that held their arms to her sides.
Heidi and Cindy watched as she freed herself, standing up and taking the scarf from her mouth as she said “Did it! I finally beat all of you!”
“Very well done,” Chloe said with a smile, “if you will help free the others, that will be all for tonight.”
“And why were you two so slow?”
Alice and Natalie grinned as they watched Jannifer free the others, and then walked over to them to start untying them.
“So what plans do you have for the weekend,” Cindy said as the five girls stood up.
“Moi? I have some work to do,” Chloe said, “what of you five?”
“We’re meeting up in town,” Alice said as she rubbed her wrists, “I need to introduce these five to my cousin.”
“Ah yes,” Chloe said, “I was speaking to the principal about her. I understand she will start here next week?”
“That’s right – she needed a few days to get used to the area.”
“You have a cousin? Why haven’t we heard of her,” Jannifer said as she looked at her friend.
“Well, she’s been living out west,” Alice said, “but her parents – my aunt and uncle – well, since they passed away she needed somewhere to stay, so she’s come to live with us.”
“Have you met her Nats?”
“Nope,” Natalie said as she stood up, “I’ve been busy every night since she arrived. So when do you want to meet up,” she said as she looked at Alice.
“Let’s meet at the mall tomorrow, about eleven – outside the cinema.”
“Sounds good to me,” Heidi said as she picked up her bag. “Come on Cindy – your mom will be waiting.”
As the five girls walked out, Cindy and Heidi made their way to where Dorothy was waiting by the car.
“Good day,” she said as she opened the door, and they climbed in.
“Yeah – have you heard about Alice’s cousin?”
“Margaret mentioned it the other day – her parents died recently, right?”
“Yeah – I wonder if she would like to...”
“Don’t ask just yet,” Dorothy said as she drove off, “do you two want to play when you get back?”
“Well, we might be up for a challenge after dinner – what about you and Mom,” Heidi said.
“Don’t ask questions you may not like the answer to,” Dorothy said with a smile as they drove off...
“So what do you think this cousin of Alice is like,” Cindy said as she sat on her bed, watching as Heidi crossed and bound her ankles tightly together. She was wearing her usual white nightgown, her wrists crossed and tied behind her back as a pair of socks covered her hands and wrists.
A band of rope held her arms to her sides, above and below her chest, while she watched Heidi secure her legs as well below her knees, and then help her to lie on the bed.
“I imagine she’s like Alice,” Heidi said as she picked up the roll of white tape, “but we’ll find out. Ready?”
Cindy nodded as the strip of tape was pressed down over her lips, and she lay with her head on the pillow.
“Your turn, Amy,” Heidi’s mother said as she held up some ropes.
“You’ll wake us up in good time in the morning?”
“Don’t worry – you’ll be fine,” Amy said as they walked into Heidi’s room, “come on – you both said you wanted this...”
“Good morning,” Alice said as she came to the breakfast table.
“Hey,” Jack Hawkins said as he looked up, “sleep well?”
“I did,” Alice said as she sat down. She was wearing a pair of blue jeans and a blue jumper, as she poured herself some orange juice and took a muffin.
“Want some coffee,” Margaret said from the cooking area.
“Please,” Alice said with a smile.
“Can I have some as well?”
“Of course you can,” Jack said as the chestnut haired teenager sat down. “Did you sleep well Tamara?”
“I did thanks – and thank you,” Tamara said as she accepted the mug. “I have to say, it’s nice to have my own room after so long.”
“Well, today we start to introduce you to everyone else,” Alice said, “starting with Nats when she gets here.”
“That’s your best friend, right?”
“Yeah,” Alice said with a smile, as Jack and Margaret looked at each other.
“Am I missing something?”
“I’ll explain later,” Alice said. Tamara was wearing some of her new clothes – a black tunic top over grey leggings, and white sneakers.
“So, these friends of yours – will I like them?”
“I think so – just be yourself,” Alice said as the doorbell rang. She stood up and went over, coming back with Natalie. The young blonde was wearing a white t-shirt and long tiered skirt, with her feet bare.
“So this is Tamara, is it?”
“It is – Tamara, Natalie, Natalie, Tamara.”
“I prefer Nats,” Natalie said as she looked at the new arrival. “So, settling in?”
“Slowly,” Tamara said quietly. “Alice tells me you and her are very good friends?”
“Oh yes – we do a lot together,” Nats said with a smile as she grabbed a Danish. “So, I thought we meet the girls, do a mall walk, grab a burger, things like that – sound good?”
“Sounds good to me – and hey. Call me Tammy.”
“Tammy it is then – once we finish breakfast, we’ll get going.”
“Hey,” Jannifer said as she joined Heidi and Cindy, “are they here yet?” She was wearing a brown leather jacket and grey jeans.
“Nope,” Heidi said. She was wearing a waistcoat over a white blouse, jeans and knee length black boots, while Cindy had on a grey sweater dress and grey boots. “Where are the dynamic duo today?”
“Britney and Margo? At a friend’s – ah, there they are.”
“Hey everyone,” Alice said as she came over, “meet my cousin Tamara. Tammy, this is Heidi, Cindy and Jannifer.”
“Pleased to meet all of you,” Tammy said, “Alice has told me something about you, but not everything.”
“Well, that’s more than she’s told us about you,” Jannifer said. “Come on, let’s show you round.”
As they set off, both Heidi and Cindy noticed the green dial on Tammy’s watch, and looked at each other...
“So what do you girls do for fun – apart from mall walking, that is,” Tammy said as they sat in the food court.
“Oh we have a bit of fun as well,” Nats said as she nudged Alice in the ribs.
“Hey – what you two get up to in your own time is your own business,” Heidi said with a laugh as Tammy looked at them and then said “ah – sorry, I can be a bit slow to pick up these things at times.”
“Oh we’re very closely bound together,” Nats said, as Alice gave her a look that said “shut up” to everyone.
“Oh – did I uncover something?”
“Story for later, I think...”
“Something to do with tie-up games?”
The five girls looked at each other, and then at Tammy.
“Sorry – I got the feeling Alice had been told not to say anything, but – well, you are wearing rope anklets and bracelets, Nats, and the way you kept nudging each other...”
“Oh god – are we advertising it that publically?”
“Not really – only if you know what to look for,” Tammy said with a smile. “I...”
She suddenly went pale and turned her face away as a family walked past, the thirteen year old daughter walking with them alongside an older sister.
“What’s up,” Cindy said as Tammy coughed.
“Sorry, frog in my throat,” Tammy said as the other girls watched the family walk off.
“So where did you use to live,” Jannifer said as she took a bite out of her hamburger. “All Alice said was you were out west somewhere?”
“Seattle – so this is quite a shift,” Tammy said as she took a drink. “So how long have you and Natalie been a couple, Alice?”
“A few months,” Nats said as she held Alice’s hand, “but we tend to keep it quiet.”
“Oh – some people have a problem?”
“Some people always have a problem,” Cindy said, “but our mothers are partners as well.”
She looked at Heidi and Cindy, before she said “so you are almost sisters?”
“Not quite – but it can look like that, yeah,” Heidi said. “Hey – why don’t we go back to my place? We’ll take a couple of cabs, and chill out there?”
“Won’t your moms mind?”
“Not today,” Cindy said, “my mom is at a big meeting. She’s an accountant.”
“And mine,” Heidi said, “is visiting my Aunt, so the house is empty. Come on – we can do a few things there as well.”
“Sounds good to me,” Tammy said as she wiped her mouth.
As they made their way outside, Heidi said to Tammy “interesting watch you have there – a present?”
“Yeah – from my folks. The last thing they gave me.”
“Oh sorry – I didn’t mean to...”
“It’s all right – I’m still missing my mom especially, but life has to go on, doesn’t it?”
“Yeah, it does,” Heidi said as they hailed two cabs, and got in.
“This is your house? How rich are you?”
“Not really that rich,” Heidi said as she let the girls in, “this was a present from my aunt Veronica to our moms when they made a commitment to each other.”
“She’s the rich one,” Cindy said, “you may have seen the signs – Cabot Property?”
“Oh yeah – I have seen some of those around,” Tammy said as they walked to the kitchen, the girls removing their shoes and boots first. As Cindy took some bottles from the fridge, Jannifer said “so you start at our high school next week?”
“Apparently – I saw your principal last week, and also had a word with your librarian – a French woman, Chloe I think she said her name was.”
“Yeah – Chloe’s a good friend of ours,” Nats said. “She runs the escapology club we’re all members of.”
“Escapology? Sounds like a reason to get tied up if you like those games.”
“I get the strangest feeling you’re going to fit right in,” Heidi said as she handed Tammy a bottle. “Let’s go through to the front room.”
As they walked through, and sat in a circle, Natalie said “so have you ever played tie-up games Tammy?”
“Not really,” she said with a little smile as Alice watched her.
“So do you mind if Alice and I?”
“Go on – knock yourselves out,” she said with a smile, “I’m curious to see what it is you do.”
“Just let us have our drinks first,” Alice said as she looked out of the window. “Hey, when did they start cutting the trees down across the road?”
“We got a note about it last night,” Cindy said as Heidi left the room, “they swore blind they would make sure it didn’t come down across the road.”
“Where did Heidi go?”
“Supplies,” Jannifer said as Heidi came in with a large Perspex box, and sat it on the floor. Opening it, she took out two lengths of cord and passed one to Cindy. Tammy put her glass down and watched as Natalie and Alice stood facing each other, crossing their wrists behind their back while the other two girls secured their arms together.
“I take it they often end up like this,” Tammy whispered to Jannifer.
“Fairly often,” Jannifer said as Cindy and Heidi started to use more rope to secure the two girls together, around their waists and their upper bodies, pulling the two of them closer together.
“Well, this is another fine mess you’re getting me into,” Alice said with a smile as they were helped to kneel down, the two other girls kneeling behind each of them as they crossed and started to bind their ankles together.
“So, the usual once this is done,” Cindy said as she tied their legs together above their knees.
Heidi went back to the box and took out two sponge balls, compressing them in her hands before she pushed them into the mouths of both girls. As Tammy watched, Cindy took a roll of white micropore tape, and tore a long strip off, stretching it in her hands before she pressed it firmly over Natalie’s mouth.
Once Alice was suitably silenced, the two girls looked into each other’s eyes, before Heidi and Cindy sat back down again.
“Anyway,” Heidi said as the two girls started to gag kiss and move against each other, “they know just how far to go before they...”
There was a loud sound like something tearing, and a shout of “LOOK OUT” as something heavy hit the ground outside.
“What on earth was that,” Cindy said as she jumped up and looked out of the window, the other girls looking as well. The large tree that the workmen had been attempting to bring down had fallen in the wrong direction, and was now lying across the road, the workmen looking at it.
“They’d better get someone to... Oh god, no!”
They watched through the window as a car came fast round the corner and hit the tree, the engine crumpling under the trunk as the airbags deployed. Tammy watched as she saw the mother, father and two daughters inside, trying to get the doors open as the workmen stood watching unsure of what was going on.
“Why the hell can’t they get out,” Heidi whispered.
“Those cars have electronic locking – it must have jammed,” Jannifer said as Tammy saw a small flame flickering under the tree.
“Aw hell,” she said quietly as she ran for the door, saying “call 911” as she did so.
“What are you going to do,” Heidi said as she ran after her.
“Get them out of there,” Tammy said as the two girls stood on the porch. “I just hope they don’t recognise me.”
“Hold this for me,” Tammy said as she unstrapped her watch and handed it to Heidi, the blonde watching as she ran towards the car and looked at it for a moment.
“Get out of there lass,” one of the workmen called out, but as he did so Tammy grabbed the handle of the front passenger’s door, and pulled it open, before she did the same at the back.
“MOVE,” she shouted as the family managed to get out of the car and ran towards the porch of Heidi’s house – as a fire broke out in the car itself, soon spreading over the vehicle as the family looked at it.
It took a moment for Heidi to realise it was the same family from the mall, as the younger girl started to cry.
“It’s all right dear,” her mother said as she put her arms round her, “we’re safe thanks to this young lady. I thought the locks had frozen.”
“I guess I just got lucky,” Tammy said as they heard sirens, “excuse me – I need to make a phone call.”
As Tammy went back inside, Cindy came out with some blankets, which she and Jannifer put over the family as the police came up.
“How did she...”
“Tell the police what happened,” Heidi said, “I need to check on how Tammy is.”
As she went in, she saw Tammy talking on her phone.
“I had no choice, Brian – if I hadn’t done something, they would have...
“I said I got lucky, managed to open the door as the electronics fritzed. Hopefully the police will buy that as well – but just in case, can you let Uncle Jack know?
“Thanks – I’d better get my watch back before...” She turned and looked at Heidi, who was looking at her wristwatch. “And then I guess I have some explaining to do,” she said quietly.
“Okay – I’ll wait here for you. Thanks.”
“You certainly got some splaining to do Lucy,” Heidi said as she handed the watch back over to Tammy, who strapped it to her right wrist. “And something tells me those two in there know a few more things as well.”
“Not Natalie – but Alice does. Brian and Uncle Jack said you girls might be in the best position to understand...”
“Well, that in itself speaks volumes – assuming that was Brian Holderness-Carter you were talking to there? I’m one of the godmothers of their kids.” Heidi looked hard at Tammy, before she said “don’t tell me – you’re like them?”
“In a way,” Tammy said, “but I don’t particularly want to talk to the police just now.”
“You won’t have to,” Cindy said as she came in, “Alice’s dad just turned up and he said he’ll take a statement from you as to what happened.”
“Are the family...”
“Shaken up, but they’ll be fine – the paramedics will look after them. But you look shaken up as well...”
“I need a drink,” Tammy said as they went back in. Alice and Natalie looked at her as she said “whthppnd?”
“I guess it’s time I told them everything,” Tammy said.
“Not yet – if there’s secrets coming out, there’s a protocol to follow. We all need to be tied up as well.”
“But I’ve never tied someone up – well, not with rope...”
“Time to learn then...”
Tammy looked at Heidi, before she said “well, I guess I need to, don’t I, or I may miss out on things.”
“Good,” Jannifer said as she and Cindy looked at her, “because we want you to be part of things too. Heidi will show you what to do with Cindy, and you can take care of me, then take care of Heidi.”
Heidi took two lengths of cord from the box, and handed one to Tammy.
“Just do what I do,” she said with a smile as she doubled the rope over, and Cindy crossed her wrists behind her back. As she pulled the rope round Cindy’s wrists, Jannifer crossed her behind her back, as Tammy copied Heidi’s actions.
“Not bad for a first time,” Jannifer said as she looked over her shoulder, and Tammy tucked the ends of the rope into the bands. Heidi then handed her a longer length, and showed her how to wrap the rope around Jannifer’s arms and body to hold them firmly together.
“Okay you two – sit down,” Heidi said as Tammy watched Nats and Alice looking at each other, and occasionally kissing.
“Well, at least you know about that now,” Cindy said as she crossed her ankles, Heidi using the rope in the same way as when she secured her wrists, and Tammy copying her again.
They then secured the legs of the two girls below their knees, before both of them stood up.
“Same sort of gag?”
Both girls nodded as Heidi handed Tammy a sponge ball, and then she very gingerly pushed it into Jannifer’s open mouth, before she covered the young girl’s lips with the white tape.
“Okay,” Heidi said, “do the same to me, and when I’m ready, you can start.”
“You sure that all of you are all right?”
“Thrffnn,” Alice said as the three girls wriggled on the couch, “tllthm.”
“Okay,” Tammy said as she sat down, and took a drink from her glass, “here goes. First thing – my name is Tamara, but Alice and her family have kind of adopted me – we’re not really related in that way.”
“Nshththhrlk,” Natalie said as she looked at Alice, who blushed as she nodded.
“I am an orphan however,” Tammy said, “my mom died quite a few years ago, and I never knew my dad. For the last few years, I’ve survived by roaming round the country, taking food, money and clothes from people who wouldn’t miss them.”
“I guess you could say that Heidi, but I only took what I needed and what they would not miss. Anyway, I finally got caught, and – well, you don’t need to know the full story right now. Let’s just say I was in danger, and I escaped from this prison, and made my way up here. I needed a place to crash out though, so when I came across this cabin in the woods, I went in and captured the two young women I found there – I think you all know them? Alicia and Angela?”
“Hmgddd,” Cindy said as she started laughing. “Wknnwwthm.”
“Yeah well – you probably knew whose house they were staying in, so I go to have a shower, put on some of their clothes – and then someone touched me on the shoulder and I was paralysed.”
Alice nodded as Tammy said “Yeah – Brian. Next thing I knew, I was in the local police station, and I was scared stiff they would send me back. I was ready to walk out of there when Alice’s dad talked to me, and then Brian did.”
“Damn good question,” Tammy said as she smiled at Cindy, “and the answer is I just could if I wanted to. You’ve seen my watch?”
The girls nodded as she held it up.
“Well, don’t ask me why, but I have – a gift, as Brian calls it. The way my body chemistry works, I can knock out any electronic system just by looking at it and touching it. I’ve been able to since I was a young girl – caused no end of trouble in the homes I stayed in, because I used to wipe iPods, recorders, data sticks, hard discs – and not know I was doing it at first. It’s why I ran away and it’s how I managed to survive.”
“I’d pick families with more money than manners – wait until their house is empty, then disable their alarm and security systems before taking what I needed. When Brian talked to me, he took me to meet some other people – Anne and Kayla?”
“Hwwknwthhm,” Heidi said with a nod.
“They understood what was happening – this watch was made for me by Kayla, and it allows me to be around other electronic equipment without affecting it. Alice and her family agreed to take me in – my bedroom is a bit special – and in return, I agreed I would help Brian and his team if needed.”
Tammy nodded as she finished her drink. “Chloe and Sarah – I know what they can do, I know what Brian can do, they know what I can do. I helped them deal with the prison problem I mentioned, and then moved in.”
“So I’m hoping you girls can be the support to her that Tammy needs, just as you know about the rest of us.”
“Oh – hey Brian,” Tammy said as she saw Brian and Jack in the doorway.
“So what happened outside Tammy?”
“We saw the crash, and we could tell they were trapped. I had to do something, so I tossed my watch to Heidi and ran to the car. The electronic locking system had jammed – so I knocked it out, opened the doors and got them out of there. Brian...”
“I recognised them – they used to live further south, right?”
Jack nodded before he said “you visited them there, didn’t you?”
Tammy nodded as she said “I had to pray they didn’t recognise me.”
“They didn’t, but they are extremely grateful to you for getting the door open. I guess the electronic snafu cleared in time, right?”
Tammy nodded as she looked at the others. “Well, that’s it – the only other thing I can say is if I don’t have my watch on, be careful with your cell phones and computers...”
The girls looked at each other, before Nats looked at Alice and said “shscclll.”
“I think that was an agreement,” Brian said as he walked over, and put his hand on Tammy’s shoulder. She smiled as the other girls nodded.
“No,” Tammy said, “apart from Alice’s I don’t think they do. Unless Sarah has said anything...”
“No – if anyone is to tell them, it has to be you when you’re ready Tammy. Anyway, the family have been taken to hospital for a check up. Heidi – tell your moms we’ll get that cleared up as quickly as possible.”
Heidi nodded as Jack smiled. “Alice, Nat’s mom is with Dorothy and Amy – they’ll be back in an hour. Be warned. Oh, and Tammy?”
“Has Alice told you how ticklish she is?”
“No – no she didn’t,” Tammy said as she walked over, and started to tickle Alice’s ribs.
“Hthstssmswll,” Nats said as she started to giggle at the movement against her, the other three laughing as they watched.
“Heidi? Are you girls all right?”
Amy and Dorothy came into the front room, Margaret, Katherine and Veronica behind them, to see the five bound and gagged girls wriggling round as Tammy moved between their feet.
Tammy suddenly stopped and looked up as she said “ah – you must be Mrs Strong, I’m...”
“This is Tammy,” Margaret said with a smile, “I guess the girls really wanted to make her feel at home. Why don’t you come to the kitchen with us while they recover, Tammy, and I’ll make the introductions.”
“Sure – but who will?”
“Oh I think they can manage for ten minutes,” Veronica said, the other girls nodding as Tammy followed the older women into the kitchen. She sat at the table as Amy went to the coffee machine.
“Okay,” Margaret said as she sat next to her, “over there making the coffee is Heidi’s mom Amy. The dark haired woman getting the mugs out is Cindy’s mom, Dorothy.”
“Alice said that you two are together?”
“We are,” Amy said as she looked over.
“Good – I like both of them,” Tammy said with a smile.
“I’m Veronica – Amy’s sister, Heidi’s aunt...”
“And Natalie’s natural mother – I’m her adopted mother,” Katherine said.
“Well, it’s a real pleasure to meet all of you,” Tammy said. “I’m glad I haven’t overstepped the mark in doing what I did.”
“Did you secure Nats and Alice together?”
“No,” Tammy said with a blush, “that was Heidi and Cindy.”
“You know now?”
Tammy nodded. “I do Aunt Margaret – I’ll bear that in mind.”
“Okay,” Dorothy said as she brought the coffee mugs over, “So why is there a tree on our lawn, and a burnt out car on the road?”
“Ah – yeah. There was an accident – Uncle Jack is going to talk to me about it later,” Tammy said, “but he said to tell you it’ll be cleared up later.”
“You beat me to it.”
Tammy stared at Heidi as she and Cindy came in. “How did you?”
“Tell you later – Jannifer is freeing the other two. Can we have some coffee Mom?”
As Amy poured some coffee into the mugs, Veronica was looking at Tammy.
“I’m sorry,” she eventually said, “but have we met before?”
Tammy blushed as she said “I... I don’t think so.”
“Hold on,” she said as she looked again, “now I remember. I was in Manchester trying to sort a deal out, and I went into the mall there to pick up some cosmetics. I needed to use the rest room, but when I came out two men stopped in front of me. I tried to get past, but one of them showed me this box in his hand, with two metal prongs sticking out.
“I could hear the cackle of an electric current, and I realised he’d somehow jury-rigged some sort of tazer. Anyway, the other man demanded my handbag, and I couldn’t do anything except hand it over.”
“I remember you telling me about that,” Dorothy said.
“Well, even though I had handed it over, there was a look in the eyes of the guy with the device, which made me think he was going to use it anyway.
“Next thing I know, there’s this shout of ‘Somebody help her’, and I saw this scruffy looking girl in a hoodie coming up from behind them. Next thing I knew, the device in the thug’s hand exploded, and he was knocked out. The other guy looked at both of us, and then dropped my bag before he turned and ran off – straight into the electric glass doors, which chose that exact moment to slam shut, so that he ran straight into them and knocked himself out.
“The girl picked up my bag and handed it back to me, before she ran off as two security guards appeared. I never got the chance to thank her for raising the alarm – at least, not until today. Because it was you, wasn’t it Tammy?”
The mothers turned and looked at Tammy as she rubbed her head, and said “yeah – sorry I didn’t stick around, but I didn’t exactly want to hang around. I may have had to answer some awkward questions.”
“Nonetheless, thank you,” Veronica said as she walked over and hugged Tammy, “you were a real life saver that day.”
“Tammy,” Margaret said, “did you help outside as well?”
Tammy nodded as the other mothers looked at her.
“Why don’t you go out with the girls for a few moments,” Margaret said quietly, “I’ll talk to the mothers.”
“Come on,” Heidi said as she took Tammy’s arm, “they’re not going to talk about you too much.”
As they went back into the front room, Natalie said “hey – Alice and I think you need to come up to my aunt’s farm over the next weekend. Sound good to you?”
“Okay,” Katherine said as she looked at Margaret, “what are you not telling us yet?”
“Well, better you know the truth,” Margaret said as she told them about Tammy’s past, and the role she was playing now.
When she had finished, Veronica said “so when she called out, she actually caused the electronic stuff to happen?”
“Yeah – and if it was last year, she probably knew what she was doing. But what she needs now is a normal life – and if she’s told the girls, better we tell you as well now.”
“I can understand that,” Katherine said as she looked at the door, “poor kid. So she’s part of Team Pink as well?”
“In a way – I’m leaving that to Anne and the others. My job is to be her mother – which I’m more than happy to do.”
“Well, none of us are going to say anything,” Dorothy said. “So tell her that, will you?”
“Oh I think she knows already,” Margaret said with a smile.
“So what do you think of the girls,” Margaret asked as she passed Tammy the potatoes.
“Different – and they certainly have an interesting way of having fun,” Tammy said. “But they accepted me without any questions – as did their mothers, even after Veronica recognised me.”
“You’ll find that for a while,” Alice said as she swallowed her beef, “but we’re all going to be with you every step of the way.”
“So we’re going to go off as a family for the day after church tomorrow,” Jack said, “and then Monday, time to go back to school.”
“I guess I may have some catching up to do,” Tammy said with a smile.
“Not too much, if what Chloe told me is correct,” Margaret said, “but the girls will help you out, and the teachers have been told where you may need extra help and time.”
“Well, I guess there’s no avoiding that for now,” Tammy said as she put some food into her mouth. As she chewed, she realised she was actually looking forward to it...
“Well, this is the place,” Jack said as he dropped Tammy and Alice off. Alice was wearing a pair of jeans and a blue jumper, while Tammy had on a grey short sleeved blouse over a white jumper, and a long denim skirt. “You need to report to the principal’s office, Tammy, but if things go as I understand they will, you’ll see Alice very soon after that.”
“All right, what could possibly go wrong,” Tammy said quietly as they walked through the entrance arch. “See you later,” Alice said as she walked in one direction to join the girls, while Tammy walked in the main entrance, taking a deep breath as she knocked on the office door and walked in.
“Can I help you?”
Tammy smiled as she closed the door, and looked at the young woman standing behind the counter. “Yeah – my name is Tamara Hawkins, I am starting here today?”
“Ah Tamara – it is a pleasure to see you again,” a familiar voice said as Tammy turned her head to see Chloe standing there. The librarian was dressed as always in a v-necked red sweater, denim shorts with black leggings, Doc Marten boots with striped socks over the top, and a red tartan scarf wrapped round her neck.
“And you Ms Bandelaine,” Tammy said with a nod. “Will you be in the library today?”
“Indeed, so feel free to call when you have a free period,” Chloe said.
Tammy turned to see the principal standing at his office door.
“Come in, please, and let’s start your time here,” he said as he moved aside.
As the door to their homeroom opened, Amy and Cindy looked over, smiling as the principal appeared with Tammy.
“Miss Holden,” he said, “this is a new student, Tammy Hawkins, who will be starting with us today?”
“Tammy Hawkins? Any relation to Alice over there?”
“My cousin,” Tammy said as she looked at the others.
“Very well then – you may as well take the spare seat next to her. Alice, make sure your cousin knows where to go for her classes, all right?”
“Yes Miss Holden,” Alice said as Tammy came to the back of the room and sat with her.
“Welcome to school,” Alice whispered, Tammy smiling and nodding as Miss Holden continued to speak.
“So how are you enjoying it so far,” Heidi asked as the girls sat together at lunchtime.
“It’s different – not as bad as I thought it was going to be,” Tammy said. “Mind you, I’m going to have fun this afternoon.”
“Phys Ed – what are the rules around wearing watches and things?”
Alice and Heidi looked at each other, before Alice said “let’s go and find Ms Dunbar quickly. She can be a little strict about this.”
The two girls walked off towards the sports hall, as Alice said “Ms Dunbar is a family friend as well, but better let her know what is happening before the class starts.”
Entering the building, they made their way to the coach’s office, where Elena Dunbar was sitting, eating a salad as she checked over some papers.
“Hey coach,” Alice said as she knocked on the door, “got a minute?”
“Hmmm – oh, Alice,” Elena said as she looked up, “what can I do for you?”
“I wanted to introduce you to my cousin Tammy – she started here today. Tammy, this is Elena Dunbar, head of Phys Ed and my gymnastics coach.”
“Oh yeah,” Elena said as she looked at a note on her desk, “I had a message from the front office about you. Welcome to our school.”
“Thanks,” Tammy said, “but I had a question around dress rules. I need to keep my watch on at all times, because it monitors my biorhythms and certain other body chemistry matters. Is that going to be a problem?”
“Hmm – this is on doctor’s orders?”
“Well, on the request of a doctor,” Tammy said carefully.
“And this doctor’s name is?”
“Doctor Kayla Smith.”
“Ah,” Elena said with a smile, “I know Kayla. In that case, the only request I’ll make is you use some athletic tape to cover your wrists during class. Sound fair to you?”
“Thanks, Coach – that sounds fair,” Alice said, “and thanks for understanding.”
“Oh don’t thank me yet,” Elena said, “I intend to give your cousin here a full fitness test today – and will she join you for the club meeting this afternoon?”
“She intends to.”
“Good – I’ll see you later then,” Elena said, “now go finish your lunch.”
“That would be the escapology club, correct?”
“Correct – and don’t worry. It’ll be fun...”
As the last bell rang, Alice and Tammy stood up, holding their folders in their arms.
“Well, as far as first days go, that isn’t so bad,” Tammy said with a smile. “So, want to spill the beans on what the escapology club is all about?”
“Well, in essential terms,” Alice whispered, “we get together each week, tie each other up, and see if we can get free.”
“Now why does that not surprise me,” Tammy said, shaking her head as she made her way with Alice towards the library.
“Ah – welcome mes amies,” Chloe said as she saw them walk into the library. “The others are already inside. Tammy, I would suggest for today you watch. Alice, I also need you to act as the monitor.”
“We take turns looking after the others,” Alice said. “Is Coach here?”
“She is – as a participant today. Come on through,” she said as she opened the door to the office. Tammy had to stifle a giggle as she saw Elena Dunbar lying on Chloe’s desk, tightly bound and hogtied with a band of white tape encircling her head, covering her mouth and keeping her quiet.
Heidi, Cindy, Jannifer and Nats were all sitting on the floor, their knees bent and their arms folded underneath. As Tammy looked over them, she could see the ropes holding their legs together, their thighs to their chest, their arms to their sides, and she presumed their wrists together under their legs.
“I’m curious, how did this start?”
“From a desire to learn more than anything,” Alice said, “although trust me – it looks as if Chloe has gone light on them for today.”
“This is going light on them?”
“Oui,” Chloe said with a smile, “Ask our good friend Natalie about some of the demerit punishments she has had to undergo some time.”
“Hnnnudntt,” Natalie said with a smile as she wriggled round – Tammy seeing the last rope linking their wrists to their ankles.
“So are these all the members of the escapology club?”
“Well, no – where are they?”
“I was going to check in the store cupboard – if you stay here, perhaps I can take Tamara to see them?”
“Go on – you might as well meet the youngsters.”
“And what will you be doing?”
“Oh I will find a way to keep myself amused,” Alice said as she opened a drawer, and took out a feather, Elena’s eyes widening as Alice started to remove her trainers.
“This way,” Chloe said as she took Tammy back into the library, and down to a door. Opening it, she went in and said “Hello, girls – I have brought a new friend for you to meet.”
“Tamara,” Chloe said, “allow me to introduce you to Britney and Margo, Jannifer’s younger sisters, and Fi. Girls, this is Tammy Hawkins. She is Alice’s cousin, and started here today.”
“Heeeltmmeee,” the three girls said as they looked up from where they were sitting on the floor. Britney and Margo were wearing blue bib shorts and t-shirts, with brown hiking boots and white sports socks, while Fi was wearing a grey tracksuit and trainers.
All three had their wrists bound together and lifted above their heads, then secured to one of the metal shelves, while their ankles and legs were secured with ropes wrapped around and between them. They had a rolled up scarf tied between their lips, the knot sitting behind their teeth and slowly darkening as it soaked up the saliva.
“Fi is in the grade below you,” Chloe said, “while Britney and Margo are freshmen. Girls, Tamara will be joining us in future weeks.”
“How are they meant to escape from that?”
“Ah, now that is a very good question, Chloe. Perhaps you can see the answer?”
Tammy looked along the shelf and then saw the files and scissors lying just above their reach. She could also see the way their wrists were secured, there was a way for one of them to reach them – when they were ready to.
“Ah, you have seen – let us leave before they read what you have considered,” Chloe said as they left the store room.
“I’m amazed – does the school know this takes place?”
“Let us say the principal is very – understanding,” Chloe said as they walked back to the office – only to see Nats as she was binding Alice.
“We will teach you – in due course,” Chloe whispered, “as part of your training.” She then said out loud “excellent, young Natalie – we will end in twenty minutes.”
“There you are,” Margaret said as the girls came back in, “supper will be ready in thirty minutes. Go and get washed up.”
“So, think you’re going to fit in?”
“I think so – you guys really do understand the likes of me, don’t you?”
“Oh you have no idea,” Alice said.
“So this trip over the weekend?”
“Ah yes – the farm. Nat’s Aunt Heather has a place out in the hills – near where Sarah and Brian live actually. We’ll have a great time up there...”
The rest of the week passed as a normal school week – too much homework and not enough time. When the Saturday morning came, Alice looked in as Tammy was getting dressed.
“Throw a spare set of clothes and some night gear into a bag,” she said, “we’re going to stop over with Heather over night, and our parents will come out for dinner tomorrow.”
“Do they do this often?”
“Oh yeah – and you’ll understand why when we get out there,” Alice said with a smile. “Breakfast in thirty.”
“Gotcha,” Tammy said as she grabbed her bag and selected some clothes...
“That must be Katherine and Natalie,” Margaret said as they heard the car horn sound outside. “You girls go and have a good time, and we’ll see you tomorrow.”
“See you Mom,” Alice said as she grabbed her bag, Tammy following as Katherine opened the trunk of her car. Dropping their bags inside, they got into the back of the car, Nats turning and saying “hey there – ready for a nice, relaxing day?”
“I see you are,” Alice said with a smile as she looked at Natalie, wearing a sleeveless white blouse and her long gypsy skirt. “No shoes?”
“Absolutely none,” Nats said with a laugh.
“Her Aunt Heather has a number of rules for her place,” Alice said as Katherine drove off, “and rule one of Heather’s farm is...”
“NO SHOES,” Nats and Katherine said in unison as they headed to the interstate.
“Whatever the weather?” Tammy looked at her trainers and socks. She was wearing what she now liked to wear – a sweatshirt and jeans, while Alice had on a white smock top over a pair of black leggings, and black slippers.
“Whatever the weather, but don’t let that bother you,” Nats said as she looked out of the window, “it will still be fun.”
“The whole point of the weekend is to forget about everything, and power down – we’ll help Aunt Heather with some of her projects this afternoon, and relax for the evening.”
“So it’s not a working farm?”
“Well, it is – just not in the way you’re expecting,” Alice said, “you’ll see...”
“Well, here we are,” Natalie said as her mother pulled up outside the farmhouse, “Aunt Heather’s farm.”
Tammy got out and breathed in the fresh, clean air while Katherine popped the trunk. “Take your bags out girls,” she said quietly, “I need to head back and meet up with your father Natalie. We’ll see all three of you tomorrow.”
“Now this – this is a good place,” Tammy said quietly, “very peaceful, and very little electrical activity.”
“You can really tell?”
“I didn’t know until now,” Tammy said, “but yeah – I really cannot sense any heavy electrical equipment around here.”
“Well, Aunt Heather has a television and other things, but no computers,” Nats said, “so nothing here for you to wipe as far as I’m aware.”
“Better keep your watch on though,” Alice said, “just in case.”
“Wasn’t going to take it off – just in case,” Tammy said as Katherine drove off, and Nats led the way round the farmhouse and into the back door. Putting their bags on the floor, Alice and Tammy kicked their shoes off, while Nats had a look at the note which was on the kitchen table.
“Aunt Heather’s in the workshop,” she said with a smile, “she says to grab a drink, and then come out to join her. What’s she got in the icebox?”
“Water, juice, coke – what do you want Tammy?”
“Water will do me fine,” Tammy said as Alice passed her a bottle, and then took a can for herself and Nats. As they took a drink, Tammy took in the rustic kitchen, and smiled to herself.
“So what exactly does your aunt do for a living,” Tammy said as she sat down.
“She’s an artist,” Nats said, “does a lot of work for film companies creating bespoke set furniture and things. If she’s in her workshop, it means she has a commission to finish up, or she’d be out here. So I suspect this afternoon we will be helping her out. Want to go and see what she’s up to?”
Tammy nodded as they headed out of the back door, and across the yard towards the barns that stood behind the main farmhouse. As they approached the doors, Tammy could hear a sound like an acetylene torch.
Looking in, she could see a brown haired woman kneeling down in front of a metal bedstead. She was wearing a pair of denim bib shorts, one strap hanging down her back, and a white vest top, but she also had a welder’s face mask on, as the sparks flew from the acetylene torch she was using.
The trio watched as she slowly moved the torch up, and then turned it off, removing the mask and wiping her brow as she looked at the red weld.
She turned round, smiling as she saw the three girls standing there.
“Hey – you made it,” she said as she put the torch and mask down, and then walked over. “And you must be Tammy. I’m Heather – pleased to meet you.”
“Likewise,” Tammy gasped as Heather hugged her. “What are you working on?”
“That? Oh, that’s for a low budget sci-fi film. They wanted a frame to which a six limbed creature could be secured.”
Tammy looked at the bedstead, the six manacle attached to the sides, three on each, and shook her head.
“Come on,” she said as she wiped her hands, “let’s grab some salad stuff on the way back, and I’ll fix lunch.”
“Come with me,” Heather said as they left the barn, and walked round to where Tammy could see some greenhouses and rows of plants. “If you girls could gather some tomatoes and a cucumber from the greenhouse, I’ll cut a lettuce and then we can do the preparation inside.”
“Your aunt grows her own food?”
“She grows her own vegetables and things,” Nats said as she picked up a basket in the greenhouse, and then walked over to where a tomato plant was growing over a trestle.
“Grab that knife will you,” Alice said, Tammy picking up a gardening knife and following her to where some cucumbers were growing. She cut one free and handed it to Tammy, before she turned and looked at Natalie.
“Cut a red one, and get some radishes as well.”
Tammy looked where Alice indicated, and drew a number of radishes from the soft loam as Alice cut a bell pepper from the plant, and then they put the vegetables into the basket with the tomatoes. As they walked back into the kitchen, Heather was cutting some fresh bread into slices.
“Ah good – can you girls wash the leaves and prepare the other vegetables, while I get some cold meat out?”
“Got it Aunt,” Nats said as they walked to the sink, washing the vegetables before Tammy and Alice chopped and prepared the cucumber, radishes and pepper, and Natalie prepared the leaves. They then carried those over to the table, and sat down as Heather poured cold drinks.
“We don’t stand on ceremony here,” she said as she sat down, “help yourselves.”
“Thanks,” Natalie said as Tammy put some salad and cold meat on her plate.
“Take some bread,” Heather said as she looked at the platter, “I bake a good loaf, even if my darling niece dares to say differently.”
“You’re very different from Natalie’s mother,” Tammy said, “much more like Natalie than her.”
“She means Mom rather than Mom,” Natalie said with a smile.
“Sorry – I didn’t mean to confuse the issue even more...”
“It’s all right,” Heather said with a smile, “we all know what it can be like. After all, you’ve had a rather eventful life so far as well, haven’t you?”
“I don’t know, living out on the west coast can be fun...”
“It’s all right, Tammy,” Heather said with a smile, “I know. Did you recognise where we are?”
Standing up, Tammy went and looked out of the kitchen window. “Not really, no,” she said as she came back.
“Well,” Heather said after she put her glass down, “a couple of miles away, through the woods, you will find the home of Brian, Sarah, and the kids. Besides – Kathy told me. She felt it was important I knew as well – and she was right in that.”
“Does everyone know?”
“No – outside of our circle, nobody knows, but then outside of our circle, nobody knows what either Brian, or especially Sarah, is capable of in the right circumstances.”
Nodding, Tammy said “so out here, I’m fairly safe.”
“Out here you’re about as safe as it gets,” Heather said with a smile as she put some salad leaves into her mouth. “Why don’t you take Tammy out for a walk to the waterhole after we eat Natalie? When you get back, we can make sure you and Alice get some personal time while Tammy and I have a chat.”
“Oh I know how they feel about each other,” Heather said with a smile.
Shaking her head, Tammy cut some more salad and picked it up with her fork.
“I don’t know if I will have ever seen anything you worked on,” Tammy said, “but you look as if you are good at your work.”
“I try my best,” Heather said with a smile. “What about you Tammy – what interests you?”
“Honestly – until recently my primary concern was where I was going to get my next meal or some clothes,” Tammy said quietly. “Now – Now, I need to take the time to figure out what else I want to be, apart from the go to lady for disabling electronics.”
“Good answer,” Heather said with a smile. “The best thing you can do now is take time out, relax, and get used to your new life. Once you’ve done that, then that’s the time to start to figure out what you want to do next.”
“So you’re an artist, you also seem to have green fingers – what else is your aunt good at, Nats?”
“She is a woman of many and diverse skills,” Natalie said with a smile. “On which note, what are we having for dinner tonight?”
“We’re only just finishing lunch and you want to talk about dinner?”
“Which is why,” Heather said with a smile, “Tammy will help me. You two will be otherwise occupied.”
“It’s an amazing place,” Tammy said as she felt the cool grass under her bare feet, “you really go swimming here in the spring and summer?”
“Yup – it’s a bit cold today, but when everyone else is around, we come up here,” Alice said as she tossed a stone into the deep water.
“I can see why you like it – it’s so quiet, you can hear anything. The bird song, the water lapping on the edge, the footsteps coming through the...”
The three girls looked at each other and stood up, looking at the path as an older girl came through.
“Joanne,” Nats gasped, “you almost gave me a heart attack.”
“Sorry,” the dark haired girl said, “Alexa and I came up to see Heather about something, and she said I’d find you three out here. You must be Tammy – I’m Joanne, Cindy’s cousin.”
“Very pleased to meet you,” Tammy said as she looked at the older girl. Joanne was wearing a pair of faded blue jeans and a grey sweatshirt, her feet like theirs bare.
“So do you go to college near here?”
“We both do,” Joanne said. “Right now, however, Heather sent me to tell you that you need to think about coming back. We’re going to join you for dinner – Alexa offered to cook.”
“Fair enough,” Alice said, “it’s beginning to get a little dark anyway.”
As they walked along, Tammy said to Alice “I take it she knows as well?”
Alice nodded. “She and Alexa were there when we – well, when we had our incident, but they are also very good friends of Chloe. And Chloe helped them out on one occasion in a professional capacity as well.”
Tammy nodded – no more needed to be said about that.
As they walked into the kitchen, Alexa turned from where she was working on the stove. “Hey – and you have got to be Tammy. I hope you’re hungry – pork chops and collard greens wait for no woman.”
“Sounds good to me,” Tammy said as she went to wash her hands.
“She seems a nice kid,” Alexa said as Alice and Natalie sat down, “a bit shy, so what’s new these days.”
“Give her time,” Alice said with a smile, “she’s going to fit right in.”
“Gotta be tough, losing both your parents and having to move over here,” Joanne said as she sat down.
“Well, like I say, she seems to be settling in...”
“You girls talking about Tammy,” Heather said as she brought some potatoes in.
“Yeah – I like her.”
“We all do,” Heather said as she started to wash them.
“I saw her watch,” Joanne said as she looked at Alice, “she’s not...”
“Not in that way, no. Let’s just say she has her own talents.”
“You know, I’m going to have to be careful,” Tammy said as she pushed her bowl away, “I’m going to start putting on weight.”
“Oh we can suggest a few exercise programs,” Nats said with a smile. “Aunt Heather, once we’ve had a chance for the meal to digest?”
“Yes, I know – you two want some alone time. Once you’ve washed up, then I can make the arrangements.”
“Well, we need to head back,” Alexa said as she stood up. “Thanks for the advice Heather.”
“Any time – and if you two fancy doing some live modelling for me next weekend?”
“We’ll call tomorrow and let you know,” Joanne said as they collected their coats and left, the three girls collecting the plates and Alice running the hot water into the sink.
“We get cleared up, we’re clear for the rest of the night,” she said as Tammy tipped the remains into a green bin. “Soonest done, soonest mended.”
“So when she says you two are going to have some quiet time together...”
“You can help me with them,” Heather said, “and then we’ll see what you want to do.”
“Well, I can see why this is close time together,” Tammy said as she pulled the rope around Alice’s elbows, drawing them together behind her back and binding them with the leather cuffs as Heather did the same to Natalie. The two girls already had their wrists secured with a second pair of leather cuffs, and were kneeling facing each other, each girl wearing a bikini.
“I know,” Natalie giggled as Heather knelt down and secured her ankles together with a pair of leg cuffs. As Tammy did the same for Alice, Heather picked up a black leather blindfold, and fastened it over Natalie’s eyes.
“Do the same for Alice,” she said as she looked at Tammy, before both girls were blindfolded and gagged with a folded scarf and tape. She then helped Alice to shuffle forward, before Heather used a long length of rope to secure both girls together around their waists and upper body.
“What are the poles for anyway,” Tammy said as she looked at the three poles that ran from floor to ceiling.
“Not really,” Heather said as she opened the door, and they walked out, “Both Alice and Natalie are gymnasts, so they use them for exercise – and the occasional game as well.”
Tammy shook her head as Heather watched. “Takes a little getting used to, but no harm is done by or to either of them.”
“And they are very close, aren’t they?”
As she sat down in her favourite armchair, Heather looked at Tammy and said “does that bother you?”
“Nope – I’ve seen too much to let something like that bother me.”
Heather nodded as she said “yeah, I guess you probably have.”
“Can I ask a question? Katherine is Natalie’s foster mother, and Veronica is her natural mother. How did she find out?”
“As I understand it, she got Chloe to investigate, and then put two and two together. She’s a bright kid.”
“They all are – and they’ve all being good friends so far.”
“Well, from what Katherine told me, that’s exactly what you need right now,” Heather said with a smile.
“I guess all the mothers know a bit of my story then,” Tammy said as she sat in the armchair, tucking her legs under herself.
“Well, we all have a lot to thank Brian and Sarah for,” Heather said as she looked over, “but we don’t know everything. Just that you need some normality in your life, and that we’re more than happy to help you with.”
“Well,” Heather chuckled, “a semblance of normality.”
“So, can I ask a sensitive question...”
“Natalie and Alice? Let’s just say they’re exploring their own preferences – and if they really become serious, none of us are going to stand in their way. After All, Dorothy and Amy, as well as Joanne and Alexa – and then there is Anne and Kayla...”
“Miss Smith? I didn’t know she and Anne Duncombe...”
“Well, if you’re going to be working with them, best you know now. So, Tamara Hawkins – just how bad was it?”
“In what sense? I mean, the electronics stuff I just had to adjust to – it was the loneliness that was the real killer.” Tammy looked over as she said “I had to grow up real fast, and yeah I did some things that I’m not proud of, and I broke the law. What I think about the most, however, is what might have happened if I hadn’t been able to escape, or if...
Heather stood up and walked over, holding Tammy as the tears started to flow, and let her cry, saying “I know – just let it all out...”
“Good morning,” Heather said as Natalie came into the kitchen, “you slept well.”
“I was tired,” she said as she sat next to Tammy. “You look like you had a good sleep as well?”
“Yeah,” Tammy said as she swallowed some bread, “I slept very well.” Both girls were still in their sleeping clothes – Tammy in a vest top and pink bottoms, Natalie in a long t-shirt.
“There you go,” Heather said as she handed over two glasses of fresh orange juice, and sat herself down. “Any sign of Alice surfacing?”
“She was still snoring when I left her,” Natalie said, “so I’d give her a little while longer. When are you expecting the others?”
“For lunch – so if you two can give me a hand this morning preparing things, I’d be eternally grateful. I have the roast ready to go in.”
Tammy looked at the leg of lamb, sitting in the roasting tin with rosemary and garlic, and nodded as she said “I can peel a few vegetables.”
“We’ll need it get them first,” Nats said, “but no problem Aunt Heather. Just tell us what you need.”
“Good – now I’ll cook some bacon and eggs up in a minute. Oh – and we’ll need the two high chairs as well.”
“Bart and Sarah?”
Heather nodded as she said “I do like to have the neighbours over for lunch from time to time.”
“I had a good talk with your aunt last night, while you and Alice were having some you time,” Tammy said as she carefully lifted the fork up, shaking the soil off as she looked at the potatoes on the ground. She waited as Nats put them into the basket, and said “I think that’s enough. If you wipe down the fork prongs with that cloth, and put it back in the lean to, we can pull some carrots and then take them in.”
Tammy nodded as she walked over, carefully wiping the dirt off with the rag before she put it with the other tools and closed the door. She was wearing jeans and a grey top, while Nats had on a pair of cycling shorts that came down to her knees and a blue t-shirt.
“Gardening in bare feet – fun,” Tammy said as she grabbed some leafy plants, and then pulled them up as the carrots appeared.
“Well, it’s the same as when Aunt Heather is working in her barn – safety first,” Nats said as she added the carrots to the potatoes, and then they walked back to the kitchen.
“Oh ho – you finally surfaced,” Nats said as they saw Alice sitting at the table, drinking some coffee. She had washed and put on a white blouse and grey trousers.
“Yes – so she gets the job of keeping an eye on the roast and peeling,” Heather said as she handed the young girl an apron. “Nice choice girls – leave the basket by the sink, and then you can start to prepare the pudding. We’re doing my bread and butter pudding.”
“Which means,” Nats said as they washed their hands, “we slice up the old bread there and spread some butter and marmalade on it while Aunt Heather makes up the custard.”
“Okay then,” Tammy said as she sliced the bread, Natalie spreading butter and orange marmalade on them and then placing them in a large greased dish, while Heather split some eggs, putting the whites in a bowl and then putting the yolks in a second bowl with some sugar. She then heated some milk, while Tammy scattered some raisins over the bread.
“Right then,” Heather said as she poured the warm milk over the eggs and sugar, mixing them together and then returning them to the pan as she cooked the custard out, “stand back girls.”
She poured the custard into the baking dish, covering the bread, before opening the other oven door on her range and lifting the pudding in. As she closed that door, she opened the other one and took the roasting tin out, basting the meat as Alice carried the pots with the potatoes and other vegetables over.
“Right – we have earned the right to a coffee break before some of the others arrive,” Heather said as she wiped her hands. “Break out the oatmeal cookies!”
“Ay ay Captain,” Natalie said as she lifted a large pewter pot down, while Heather made a fresh pot of coffee.
“Now then,” Heather said as she sat down, a mug of coffee in her hands, “we need to discuss the matter of your sixteenth birthday, young Natalie...”
“I don’t want a fuss...”
“Yes she does,” Alice giggled as she looked over.
“When is it,” Tammy asked.
“Not until next February, so we have holidays and things to get out of the way first.”
“Well, we’ll work something out,” Heather said as they heard a car pull up. All four of them looked out of the window, as Brian walked past with Bart in his arms.
“Hey there,” he said as he came in, “the two Sarahs are on their way round. Something smells delicious.”
“Why thank you,” Heather said as she stood up, the floral skirt dropping to cover her knees. “Want some coffee?”
“We won’t say no,” Sarah said as she came in, putting little Sarah down as she toddled over to where Alice had her arms held out. “Have you got some juice for the twins?”
“I’ll sort that out if you have the cups,” Tammy said as she stood up. Brian handed Bart over to Natalie, and then took two cups from the bag over his shoulder. Handing them to Tammy, she went to the sink and rinsed them out, before pouring some cold squash from the fridge into them and fixing the lids back on.
“Thank you,” Bart said as he took the cup, Sarah smiling as she took the second one.
“How are you doing,” Sarah asked as she came over, “settling in?”
“Very much so,” Tammy said, “I think I may finally have something like a home.”
“Good,” Sarah said, “I’m glad to hear that.”
“It’s funny – I still remember how safe I felt when my mom was with me,” Tammy said as they went to sit in the quiet room, “but I don’t think I appreciated until recently just how much I had missed that.”
“I can understand that as well,” Sarah said, “my mother passed away some years ago, and it was only after that I found out some of the family history, and what we had done. But it was only after I had my – accident, and became the Pink Widow, that I fully understood that link.”
“So accept the ties that bind – metaphorically?”
“And literally if you want – Tammy, you’ve seen what I am capable of doing. At least with your gift, you never have to face that – but I for one am glad you’re going to be helping us. I’m also glad you’re letting them help you.”
“Hey,” Nats said as she came into the room, “we were wondering where you got to. Your folks are here, and the food’s ready.”
“Come on – let’s eat,” Sarah said as they stood up, and made their way to the table.
“Had a good time,” Margaret asked as Tammy joined them at the table.
“I have thanks – it’s been good to get away for a few days,” Tammy said with a smile.
“Well,” Heidi said as she and Cindy walked towards the library, “I think Tammy has really settled in now.”
“Oh yes,” Cindy said with a smile. While she was wearing a pair of black jeans and a blue hoodie, Heidi had on a black sweater and knee length skirt, with dark tights. “But where was she for Chemistry class?”
“I understand Chloe asked her to come and do an assessment – which means she should be in here already,” Heidi said as they went into the library.
“Ah – good afternoon,” Chloe said as she looked over, “tonight is a special lesson – I wish you all to help with an assessment.”
“Oh? Of what?”
“Young Tamara,” Chloe said as they went into the inner office. Fi was already there, as Tammy looked up and said “Gsstwasttmejndnn.”
She was wearing a blue blouse over leggings, her wrists already crossed and tied tightly together behind her back and her arms held tightly to her sides as she lay on her stomach. Fi had bound her ankles and legs, and was now pulling her ankles back to secure them to the chest ropes. A knotted red scarf was sitting between her teeth and tied tightly round her head.
“Okay,” Chloe said, “first, will you confirm that the ropework of young Fi is up to standard?”
Heidi and Cindy took a close look at the knots and bands, before nodding in confirmation.
“Good – then the job of young Tamara, should she choose to accept it, is to escape. I believe we have left various methods for her to use, but the choice is hers.”
Nodding, the girls stood back and watched as Tammy looked round, and then tried to reach the knots holding her legs back with her fingers. When that proved too difficult, she looked round, and then started to wriggle herself over to where a pair of long scissors had been left.
“Ah, excellent,” Chloe said, “she has gone for the most obvious option, given her circumstances.”
They watched as Tammy looked over her shoulder, opened the scissors up and started to saw on the rope holding her ankles to her back with one of the blades, taking it slowly, making sure it did the job it needed to do, before the rope snapped and she managed to stretch her legs out. She then started to saw gently on the rope around her wrists, watching to make sure she did not harm her own limbs.
“Where is everyone else,” Cindy said as she looked round.
“Miss Dunbar called a meeting of the gymnastics squad – Alice said she would meet Tamara at home later,” Chloe said as Tammy managed to get her wrists apart, and then brought them round, using the scissors to cut the rest of the ropes away.
“Excellent,” the librarian said as Tammy finally stood up, “you have learned a lot.”
“Now that was...”
Before she could say anything else, Tammy took out her cell phone and looked at it. “Sorry folks,” she said with a smile, “I’ve got a lift waiting outside.”
“Shall I call your aunt and uncle?”
“Please,” Tammy said as she grabbed her coat, “tell her I’ll be late back.”
Tammy put on her jacket and ran out of the high school, jumping into the back of the car as Brian and Sarah sat in the front.
“Bank robbery in town – they have hostages and they’ve deadlocked the building. We need to get in the back door – quietly.”
“Sounds fun – let’s do it.”