Looking out of the window, the young woman took note of the cars passing down the quiet suburban street - the Bentleys, the BMWs, and the smaller second cars, as well as the non-descript vans and work vehicles.
Hearing the door open behind her, she turned and watched as the older woman came in. The family resemblance could be seen in their faces, but whereas the younger woman was tall and slim, with shoulder length blonde hair, the older one was smaller, dumpier to use a colloquialism, with short grey hair. They both, however, had the same piercing blue eyes.
“Are they both tucked safely in,” she said as she went and sat down, brushing some imaginary dust off her knee length blue leather skirt as she did so. The outfit was completed by a long sleeved roll necked wool sweater and knee length black fabric boots with a two inch heel.
“Yes, they are,” the older woman said with a smile as she turned on the baby monitor. She was wearing a cream coloured twin set with a string of pearls around her neck, a red and black tartan skirt, tights and sensible black leather shoes. “We’ll take turns to check on them, but I don’t think they will make any real noise.”
“That’s good,” her daughter said as she crossed her legs and smiled. “Why don’t we have a drink while they rest - it will be a couple of hours before they come back anyway.”
In the grey van that was parked a little down the road, a man was checking the contents of his rucksack. He was about five foot seven, and dressed in black, with a pair of leather gloves on his hands.
He turned as he heard the knock on the door, and lowered the window to see a taller, broad shouldered man looking at him. “Looks like their visitors have left,” he said with a smile, “and they are still in the house. Shall we?”
“Of course,” was the polite reply as he stepped out and adjusted the black cap on his head. Locking the van, and hoisting the rucksack onto his back, the two men walked down the street, before turning quietly into a back alley, reaching up to their heads as they did so.
“Ah,” the older woman said as she drained her glass and placed it on the table, “That’s better. I do like a little gin and tonic at lunchtime.” She looked to the baby monitor, but the only sound that came from was quiet breathing.
“I do like these things,” the younger girl said as she stood up, “it makes so much easier to keep an eye on them. I need to go to the toilet - do you want anything while I’m out of the room?”
“No thank you dear,” her mother replied as she picked up a magazine, “I will be fine.” She watched as her daughter walked out, shaking her head slightly before devoting her attention to the magazine in her hands.
How long passed she was not sure, but what she was sure of was the unexpected sound of a polite man saying “Forgive me, dear lady, but would you put the magazine down for a moment please?”
Lowering the magazine, she was surprised to see a tall, broad shouldered man standing in front of her, a smile visible through the mouth hole of the black balaclava he was wearing to cover his head. He was dressed in a black leather jacket and jumper, trousers and shoes, and had black leather gloves in his hand - one of which was holding a knife as he looked at her.
Behind him she could see a smaller, identically dressed man, holding her daughter by the arm and pointing a small, yet very real pistol at her side. She looked at her mother, eyes wide, and said “I think we have visitors, mother.”
“So I see,” she said as she closed her magazine and set it down. “May I ask who you are?”
“You may,” the man standing in front of her said. “You may call me Mister Tall, and my friend who is currently with your daughter is Mister Small. Forgive the intrusion, but we desire to have a look around your house, and see if there is anything that may interest us. May I know your names?”
The two women looked at each other, before the older woman replied “My name is Carly, and my daughter is Suzie. Rather unusual, if appropriate names you have - may I presume that this is a robbery?”
Mister Small nodded, saying “You would be correct, Carly, and I regret to say that we must ensure that you and your lovely daughter are rendered incapable of interfering with us as we look around. I promise you, so long as you both do as you’re told, then you will enjoy the experience.”
“Most thoughtful of you,” Carly replied, shooting a quick look at her daughter as she did so. “So, would I be right in presuming you are the Gentlemen Robbers? I have read of you in the Daily Mail.”
“Our reputation precedes us again,” Mister Tall said with a smile as Suzie was walked over, and Mister Small helped her to sit next to her mother. “Mister Small, would you please ensure that there is no way for these ladies to communicate with the outside world?”
Suzie watched as the smaller of the two intruders picked up their handbags and emptied them out, finding the mobile phones and removing the batteries. Having done this, he slipped the rucksack off his back and opened it, revealing several neatly coiled hanks of rope at the top.
“Now, ladies, please sit still with your hands on your head, and if you, Suzie, would out your feet on the coffee table and cross your ankles that would be a great help.”
The two women stared at Mister Tall as he said this, before complying, a smile on Suzie’s face as she crossed her ankles. “I had heard of your manners,” she said quietly as she watched Mister Small shake loose a length of white cord and hand it to his partner, “but the papers do not do you justice.”
“They very rarely do,” Mister Tall replied with a smile as he wound the cord around and between Suzie’s ankles, pulling the soft black fabric against her legs as he tightly bound them together and cinched the coils. Taking the second length of rope that was proffered by Mister Small, he then tied her legs tightly together just below her knees, before smiling and saying “thank you - now, Carly, if you would do likewise?” Suzie shuffled slightly on her bottom, the leather of her skirt creaking as she did so, but there was no give in the binding.
“Just out of common interest,” the older woman said as she raised her legs, the skirt falling slightly above her knees as she did so, “Exactly what are your intentions towards us?”
“Merely to prevent you from getting in our way and raising the alarm,” Mister Small said with a smile as he unpacked more lengths of rope. “I promise you, you will not be harmed or hurt. Does it hurt you at the moment, Suzie?”
“No,” the younger woman replied as she looked at her legs, then lowered her feet to the floor, “it is tight but comfortable. You know what you are doing.” She watched as her mother looked on, the white rope showing clearly over the dark hose.
“I take that as a compliment,” Mister Tall said as he pulled Carly’s legs together below her knees, then adjusted her skirt to cover them. “Thank you - you may lower your legs now, but I must ask you to turn your back to me and put your hands behind your back.”
From the intercom, a grunting sound could be heard. The two men looked at each other, and then at Suzie.
“It’s my son,” she said quietly, “He’s home sick from school and sleeping. Please, do not disturb him.”
“Be at peace, Suzie,” Mister Small said, “We do not as a rule detain children, and so long as he remains asleep he will be fine. Now, sit still while Mister Tall attends to your mother.”
Suzie watched as Mister Tall knelt behind her mother, guiding her arms behind her back and then wrapping the rope tightly around and between them to hold them firmly together. “You are good,” she said quietly to herself as he took a longer length of rope and started to bind it around her upper body, the front of her cardigan opening wider as the rope pulled her arms into her side above and below her chest. She had a slight belly, but the rope sat snugly ont op of it as it enclosed her chest in two bands.
“Well, this is certainly snug,” Carly said as she tried to twist her arms round, but with little success as Mister Tall cinched the rope under her arms, and then helped her to sit back. As he did so, he unfastened the string of pearls and put them into his jacket pocket.
“Mister Small,” he said as he collected more rope and walked over to Suzie, “If you would be so good as to start to search the upstairs rooms, I will secure young Suzie here and make sure they cannot disturb us.”
“Of course,” Mister Small said as he walked to the door, neither man noticing the look that passed again between Carly and Suzie. As Mister Tall knelt beside the younger woman, and said “Now, Suzie, please move your hands behind your back,” Mister Small walked up the staircase and entered the first room.
It looked like that of a younger woman, “Suzie’s” he said to himself as he opened the wardrobe and started to search through the bohemian style of dresses and blouses that were hanging up. Locating a jewellery box, he opened it and started to look through the contents, selecting the best items and placing them in a small velvet sack.
“She must have decided to dress differently today,” he said to himself as he continued his search, finding various other items and placing them in the sack. Once he was satisfied, he closed the door and walked down, opening the second door.
“Computer room and study,” he said to himself as he looked in, “Not worth looking into.” The third door, however, was that to a larger bedroom. “And now for Carly’s room,” he said to himself as he opened the jewellery box that was sitting on the dresser, and started to sort through the contents, pocketing most of them as he did so.
A search of the chest of drawers revealed no further items, but as he looked round Mister Small saw the wooden doors that led to the walk in wardrobe. “I’ll put good money on there been a safe in there,” he said quietly as he walked over and opened the door.
Both Suzie and Carly looked at Mister Small as he came into the room. The bands of white rope were clearly visible on Suzie’s chest, as they forced her breasts up and out, the shape of her bra clear under the taut black fabric.
“Mister Tall,” he said quietly, “there is a safe in the walk-in closet in the bedroom that requires your attention. Would you have a look at it, please?”
The taller man looked at his partner, his eyebrow raised. “Did you disturb the son,” he finally asked.
“No - I have left that room untouched, but the safe is rather unusual, and I think you should have a look at it. I will keep the ladies company for the moment.”
Mister Tall nodded, and left the two women with Mister Small. As he climbed the stairs, he heard him say “Well now - why don’t we have a little chat....”
“What sort of safe does he think I’ll have more success with than him,” Mister Tall said to himself as he walked into the main bedroom, noting the neat signs of the previous search. Opening the doors to the closet, he saw the safe door hanging open, and then looked to the right.
The two women were staring at him, their eyes filled with tears of fear and frustration over the heavy layers of silver tape that covered their mouths. The younger girl was in her early twenties, with raven black hair that was cut in a fringe around her face. She was wearing a pink bra with white lace trimming, and matching panties.
Next to her sat an older woman, in her late forties, with long brown hair that was greying at the scalp. She was wearing a white slip that covered her knees as she sat there, the rope running around her upper body and holding her knees tightly up to her chest, as was the case with the other girl.
Both had their arms pinioned behind their back with coils of heavy rope that sank into their pale skin, while their ankles were crossed and tightly bound as they pressed down onto the floor. More ropes were visible around their legs and waist, and one in particular was running from their bellies down between their legs.
Mister Tall reached down and stroked the hair away from the older woman’s face, revealing the slight bruising at her cheek and under her eye. “I’m sorry,” he said quietly as he stood up, “but I promise you the ordeal will be over soon.”
“Plssshlpsss,” the younger girl called out as he quietly closed the door and walked out of the room.
“Did you find the safe,” Mister Small said as he looked to the doorway, where Mister Tall was standing, leaning on the frame with his arms closed as he looked at Carly and Suzie. The younger woman was now bound in the same way as her mother, the rope pulling her sweater across her chest as it held her arms in place below and above her breasts.
“Mother and Daughter - cute. I take it the man of the house was with Father and Son in the van that left earlier?”
“Ah,” Mister Small said as he looked at the two women, noting the evil smiles that now crossed their faces, “I see you have seen the real ladies of the house. We were just discussing what happened before we arrived - it does seem as if we have inadvertently crossed their paths.”
“So I see,” Mister Tall said as he walked over and stood in front of Mother. “I presume you had no real interest in the contents of this house, but in the contents of the safe at the branch of the bank the man of the house works in?”
“Very perceptive,” Mother said as she smiled back at Mister Tall, “We were merely keeping the two women safe here - an added incentive to their husband and father.”
“So I see - but was the assault on the mother really necessary?”
“You have your way of working,” Daughter said quietly as she wriggled round, the leather squeaking again, “and we have ours. Father knows best, and tells us what we have to do.”
“Well said Daughter - so, what are you going to do now?” Mother looked back at the two men, her cardigan falling to the side of the rope bands.
“Let me see if I can guess what the arrangement is,” Mister Small said as he stood up, “You wait here for Father and Son to return with your ill-gotten gains, and then head off, correct?”
“A fair assumption,” Mother said as she sat back, “but I must admit, I never expected it to be this way. Your reputation is more than deserved.”
“Yes, well,” Mister Tall said as he folded his arms, “We do work in different ways, as you say, and we find violence is never, ever the answer.”
“Works for us, doesn’t it mothrrrmmmmwssssgng.”
As Daughter was speaking, Mister Small had taken a green scarf he had taken from the master bedroom, and pushed the folded silk into her mouth. Taking a roll of silver duct tape that he was passed by Mister Tall, he wound it round her head, lifting her blonde hair out of the way and sealing the wad into her mouth.
“It may work for you, but it is not our way - please excuse the rather excessive use of the tape, but it may do you good to experience a little of what you have put those ladies through.”
“You know,” Mother said as she watched Mister Small fold a blue scarf into another wad, “We may work in different ways, and achieve our goals in different manners, but we are not so different, you and I.”
“That is where you are wrong, Mother,” Mister Tall said quietly. “We may restrain and incapacitate women, but we treat them with respect - something the two ladies up there have not had today. At the very least, we would not strip and torment them as you have done - think on that while you wait for Husband and Son to return. Mister Small?”
“Methinks thou dost protest too Musssmmmmm” Mother said as the folded scarf was pushed into her mouth, and the band of tape wrapped tightly around her head. “Perhaps - but manners maketh the man,” Mister Tall said as he watched Mister Small pick up the rucksack, and load the smaller bags in.
“The Gentlemen Robbers bid you adieu, Mother and Daughter. I mean this with all sincerity when I say may we never, ever meet again.”
The two women watched as the masked gentlemen left the room, and then leaned back in the chair, placing their feet on the coffee table and listening to the sounds from the baby monitor.
An hour later, they looked up as the front door opened and two men walked in. Both were dressed casually, and talking as they came in.
“I’m sure Mother and Daughter have had an uneven...” Son stopped as he looked at the two tightly bound and gagged women. “Father - can you just check the ladies of the house are where we left them please?”
The older man looked in, before he took a stocking from his back pocket and pulled it over his head, walking up the staircase as he did so. Son went to the kitchen, returning with a pair of scissors which he used to cut the tape away from Mother’s mouth.
“Ah - thank you dear,” Mother said as the scarf was eased out of her mouth. “If you would untie me, we need to be away from the house rather quickly.”
“They’re still there,” Father said as he returned and removed the tape from Daughter’s mouth, “What happened here - who did this to you?”
“A pair of real gentlemen,” Daughter said as she turned her back to Father, “just doing their job, I suppose.”
“Oh,” Son said as he untied the ropes from Mother’s arms, “them? That was rather unfortunate.”
“Yes, well,” Mother said as she finally stood up and rubbed her arms, “It takes different strokes and all that. Come on - let’s get out of here before they do their usual trick of informing the authorities. We’ll leave them to figure out the extra ropes and gags.”
“Very good advice, as always Mother,” Father said as he helped Daughter to stand up. “We have our gains, and they have theirs - let’s move on.”