Bikinis and Leather
“So what are you and the girls going to do this morning?”
Josie was standing in the doorway, her arms crossed as she looked at her mother sitting at the dressing table. Elisabeth was brushing her long brown hair with a pearl handled brush, bringing each stroke down as she looked at herself in the mirror. She placed the brush gently on the table and looked round at her daughter.
“I said, what are you planning to do this morning?”
“Not sure yet – Melody and Zara are coming round at about ten. You?”
“I need to go into town and talk to the attorney, but I should be back by about one. Will you be all right until then?”
Josie looked at her mother as she stood up. “Why should I not be all right?”
“Did you hear what happened to Deliah Sturridge?”
“The robbery? I heard about it, but surely she was just unlucky. The security here is much better, and I won’t answer the door to anyone.”
“Well, see that you don’t. Now, I need to get showered and dressed. I’ll see you for lunch?”
“The Barnett delivery is scheduled for 1 pm this afternoon. Will everything be ready?”
“It will be – the usual driver?”
“Come on, Josie – you’ll boil out there!”
Melody waved at her friend before diving back under the surface of the swimming pool. On the poolside, Josie and Zara were reclining on sun loungers. Josie was wearing a white bikini, while Zara was in a one piece swimsuit made of black material.
“Keen, isn’t she?” Zara said as she took a sip from her glass of iced tea. Her red hair was held back by a black bandana with white pattern. Josie looked over at her as she lay back down.
“Oh come on – this is better than hitting the books isn’t it?”
“Oh, much better – it’s too fine a day to be inside.
Melody climbed out of the pool, the water dripping off her blue two piece swimsuit. She sat beside the other girls and placed a pair of sunglasses over her eyes as her blonde hair lay on the cloth.
“So, is everyone ready for another drink?”
“In a minute – I want to enjoy the sun a little while more.”
As the three lay there, eyes closed as their bodies warmed, they failed to hear the sound of a van pulling up outside the house. The driver looked up and down the street, before knocking on the wall behind. The side door opened and two men, dressed in shirts and jeans, climbed out with a bag in each of their hands. They walked up to the garage door, which lay open after Elisabeth Barnett had driven off earlier and left Josie with the task of clearing it out. Slipping inside, they closed the door behind them before placing the bags on the floor and opening them.
“Right – same again girls?”
Josie stood up and collected the three glasses. The other two girls nodded in agreement as she set off for the rear door into the kitchen, their eyes still closed.
Walking on the hot stones, she gingerly made her way to the door and opened it, making her way into the kitchen and depositing the glasses in the sink. As she straightened up, she was surprised to find a gloved hand placed over her mouth and a shirt clad arm grabbing her around the waist.
“What’s the situation outside,” she heard a male voice say as a second man came past her and looked out of the window. Josie could see he was wearing a shirt and jeans, and that a stocking was pulled over his head. She watched as he turned round and said “Two others out there – same age as her by the looks of it. High fence and no sign of anyone else in the neighbouring gardens. What do you want to do?”
“Get them in here,” the voice said from behind her as Josie’s eyes widened. “You’re coming with me into the living room, where you’ll close the blinds and do exactly as I tell you. Understand?”
Josie nodded in agreement as the second man took a small pistol from his pocket and opened the back door.
Melody heard the approaching footsteps, and turned her head towards the heavy footfall.
“Did you put shoes on or something, Josie?”
“Something,” a male voice said, and Melody opened her eyes fully. There was a young man standing in front of her and Zara, a stocking over his head and a small pistol in his gloved hand pointing at her. She gulped and shook Zara’s arm.
“Zara? You need to see this.”
“Both of you, stand up and walk in front of me into the house, hands behind your head. Don’t scream or make any sudden movements, or you both tie here. Understand?”
The two girls silently stood up and walked into the house, where Josie was sitting in the front room. She had closed the blinds at the demand of the other intruder, who now stood behind her with another gun in his hand. Both Zara and Melody could see that her arms were bent behind her back, but had no idea what was holding them there.
“Bind their wrists,” the other man said, and Melody grimaced as her wrists were pulled behind her back and a zip tie used to secure them in place. As the same thing was done to Zara, the telephone started to ring. “Not a sound,” the first man said as the answer machine started.
“Jo, this is mum. I’m heading back now, so I’ll see you in about twenty minutes.”
“Just enough time, then” the intruder said as the phone went dead. “All three of you – upstairs. Move!!”
“Got everything on your schedule?”
The UPS driver nodded as he closed the van door.
“I’d better get going – don’t want to be late, do we?”
Elisabeth pulled into the driveway and climbed out of the SUV. She was wearing a brown leather skirt that came to her knees, with a matching bomber jacket, and a leopard print top underneath, while her legs were covered with tight fitting tan leather boots. She walked up to the front door, noting the garage door was closed, and entered the house.
“Josie, are you there?” she called out, but there was no answer. Walking into the main room, she could see the kitchen door was open through the archway, but of her daughter or her friends there was no sign.
“Where the hell have they gone,” she said to herself as she walked up the stairs and into her bedroom. The answer to her question was on the bed, as she saw Melody, Josie and Zara sat in a line. All three were sitting cross legged, and their ankles were held together with plastic zip ties. Josie was in the middle, her arms held to one of each of the other girls with a tie. All had sleep masks over their eyes and strips of medical tape over their mouths.
“Oh my god,” Elisabeth said as she walked in, “Who did this to you?” Josie could hear her mother, and tried to warn her to get out, but the tape was a most effective gag. Elisabeth did not realise the two men were standing in the room until she heard a voice say “Don’t touch them – stand still and put your hands behind your back.”
She offered no resistance as her wrists were tied together, and then her elbows secured. “What do you want,” she said, “Just name it and it is yours, but leave my daughter alone.”
“She’ll be fine there,” the first man said as he took Elisabeth by the arm. “You’re coming downstairs with us.”
As they went down the staircase, Elisabeth looked at the two men. Similar builds and ages, although one had a deeper voice, she knew she had no chance of fighting back with the girls held in the upper bedroom. She could hear the squeak of the plastic against her leather jacket as they made her sit down on the couch, before securing her ankles and legs together with more ties.
“What do you want?” she asked again as she watched one of the men walk out of the room.
“Your money, your valuables and your jewels – well, we have your jewels already, so we’ll just collect the rest. I need you to be quiet now and be blind.”
“What do you mmmmph,” Elisabeth said as a strip of medical tape was firmly pressed over her lips. As more strips were applied, she was slowly more and more silenced, before a sleep mask was placed over her eyes leaving her in darkness.
In the main bedroom, Josie was sitting perfectly still, listening to the sounds downstairs as cupboards were opened and tipped out. She was too afraid to try and move, even if movement on her part was causing either Melody or Zara to move with her. She could hear Melody trying to control her breathing, using the Yoga techniques she had studied to remain calm, while the tears from Zara were starting to drip onto her arm.
Elisabeth knew that more than an hour had passed – she had heard the large clock on the fireplace strike the hour twice – but for some reason the two intruders were still in the house. She could not see them, but she could hear their breathing and their movements. Surely they had found everything by now? If so, why were they waiting – did they want something else? A fear began to gnaw at her, a fear that she and the girls would not be able to come out of the day unscathed, when suddenly she heard the heavy footfall of both men as they left the room. She sat there, silently, as the door was closed on her.
In the bedroom, Josie could hear the front door opening and closing, followed by the heavy footsteps of the two men as they made their way along the corridor. Silence fell, punctuated by the sound of birds outside and the occasional car passing.
None of the women really knew how long had passed until Josie heard a young man saying “Josie!!” and the sleep mask was pulled off her eyes. In front of her was her boyfriend, with a look of horror mingled with concern as he held her face in his hands. Tears started to flow down her cheeks as he gently pulled away the tape from her lips….
Some days later, Elisabeth and Josie were sat drinking coffee when one of their neighbours called in.
“I’m sorry to hear what happened,” she said, “You must both have been terrified.”
“Does not even come close to describing it,” Josie said as she took a sip from her cup, “I thought we were going to be attacked given the length of time they were there.”
“What surprised me was how long it took to discover you – I can’t believe that delivery man saw nothing wrong?”
“Delivery man? What delivery man?” Elisabeth looked at her neighbour, the cup in mid air as she held it.
“The UPS delivery man – I was doing the lawn when I saw him pull up outside your house and make a delivery.”
The two women looked at each other. “What time was that?” Josie asked in a quivering voice.
“About one – why?”