A Kat Derringer Adventure

By J.R. Francisco


Deputy Lindy Derringer knew something was wrong as she pulled up behind her sister's black TrailBlazer, which was parked on the side of the dirt road. She stepped out of the patrol car, drew her weapon, and made her way toward the vehicle. As she feared, there was no sign of her Kat . . . or anyone else for that matter.

Lindy's heart sank when she noticed the footprints around the Blazer. Someone else besides Kat had been here. This did not look good so far. Lindy returned to her patrol car and contacted dispatch. She told Rubi what she had found and requested that all available deputies be deployed to the area.

Lindy exhaled and looked about with concern. Get a grip, she told herself. Stay calm. Kat can take care of herself. She cringed when she recalled her own ordeal at the hands of the two men. She had to find her sister and quickly. No telling what those bastards were capable of doing to Kat.


"Please find my daughter," Joanna Kresser told Detective Rachel Graham.

Joanna was sitting in the detective's office where she had just finished recanting the incredible tale of how four men had broken into her home that morning, claimed her husband was part of some diamond heist, and kidnaped her daughter.

"We'll do our best, Mrs. Kresser," Rachel told the woman. "I promise you that much."

At least now everything made sense, Rachel thought. It was now just a matter of locating and apprehending the four men, who were still somewhere in Dorado City. She had to tell Sheriff Derringer about this right away.

Rachel's cell phone rang. She usually turned it off when conducting interviews but this was not a typical interview. "Excuse me," she told Joanna. She turned away and answered the phone. It was Ruby from dispatch. The young dispatcher told Rachel about what Lindy had found and that Sheriff Derringer was probably in danger. As she listened, Rachel looked over at Joanna. This definitely confirmed her story.

"I'll get out there as soon as I can," Rachel told Rubi. "Keep me informed." She ended the call and turned to Joanna. "Since these men still have your daughter and want something from you, they'll probably try to contact you."

Joanna stood. "You mean I should go home and wait for their call?"

"Normally, I wouldn't advise that," Rachel said, "but I'll assign a deputy to stay with you. The regional FBI agent is on her way to Dorado City. I'll send her over to your house when she arrives."

Joanna was still not convinced that everything was going to be all right. "What if those men hurt Jenny? They're desperate and capable of anything."

Though no one would ever accuse Rachel Graham of having the greatest people skills, she was not without feelings. Joanna Kresser's emotion fueled the detective's desire to find and capture these cowardly criminals who used children as leverage to get what they wanted.

Rachel pressed the intercom on her desk. "Alison, contact Deputy Bayless and tell him to call me right away, please."


"This is a complete waste of time," the balding man with the glasses told Long. "We should have just left her back there . . . all nice and tied up."

"Idiot! We can't leave her back there," Long countered as he drove the jeep along the backwoods road. "Her fellow cops would have found her in ten minutes. They're probably on their way over here now." He stared at the rearview mirror at Kat who sat in the backseat with her hands handcuffed behind her back. "Isn't that right, sheriff?"

Despite her desperate predicament, Kat still had some spunk left. "You're making a big mistake in kidnapping me. You're not going to get away with this. I promise."

Long laughed. "Just watch me, baby."

Long pulled over on the side of the road. He ordered Kat out of the Jeep. With her arms bound behind her back, it was a difficult task. Long was only too happy to lend a hand. He literally dragged Kat from the jeep and then, to her utter shock, threw her over his shoulder and began carrying her deeper into the wooded area.

"Bring the stuff!" Long called back to his companion.

Kat squirmed and kicked over Long's shoulder. "Take your filthy hands off me!" she said, feeling his hands roaming over thighs and backside.

Long patted her buttocks playfully. "Easy, sheriff. We both know how much you enjoy the feel of man's hands on you . . . don't we?"

He delivered a firm though good-natured swat to Kat's wiggling backside.

Kat seethed but remained silent. She continued squirming until Long reached a clearing and put her down. He stood behind her, uncuffed her wrists, and trained his gun on her. The man with the glasses joined them at the clearing a moment later. Kat noticed he carried a duffel bag; the same bag she had first spotted at the convenience store. There was no question what was inside the bag.

"All right, sheriff," Long said as he stood before Kat. "Strip."

Kat felt her stomach turn. "What?"

"Strip for papa."

"Go to hell," Kat replied tersely.

Long shrugged. "Fine. I guess I'll have to give you a hand."

He offered his gun to the man with the glasses.

Kat flinched and swallowed anxiously. The thought of his hands on her terrified her. "All right," she croaked. "You win . . . this time."

"That's right, baby," Long taunted. "I always win. Don't ever forget that. Now, let's see some skin."

Kat glared at the two men who stood before her. She closed her eyes, gathered her resolve, and unbuttoned her jacket. Not wanting to appear weak or humiliated, she looked straight ahead with a defiant glare as she stripped off her blouse. Her skirt soon followed.

Long whistled with admiration as the skirt landed around Kat's ankles. The two men looked on, slack jawed and amazed at the wonderful vision before them. Sheriff Katherine Derringer stood in just her matching black bra, panties, garter belt, and stockings before the two criminals. She silently cursed herself for not wearing a slip that day.

Enjoy it while you can, bastards! She thought. You're going to pay for this. Big time!

Long finally snapped out of his trance. "All right, lose the bra," he told Kat.

Kat sighed inwardly but obeyed the command. She reached behind her back and unhooked her bra. She peeled it from her chest, revealing a perfect pair of breasts with delicate nipples. She discarded the bra and made no effort to cover her chest. She continued staring straight ahead, as if detached from the act.

"Now the cute panties," Long said, gazing longingly at Kat's breasts.

Kat hooked her fingers inside the waistband of her bikini panties. She showed no emotion whatsoever as she pulled down the underwear. She stumbled slightly when the bunched up panties became entangled in one of her heels. That drew a chuckle from Long but the other man remained silent. Kat was about to discard the panties but Long stopped her.

"Hold on to those," Long ordered, eyeing Kat's private area with delight. After a short pause he said, "Stuff them in your mouth. All the way."

Kat flinched at the unpleasant command, but again, she was in no position to refuse. She gathered her panties into a ball and stuffed them into her mouth. She closed her eyes and fought back her gag reflex as she completely filled with her mouth with her underwear. A low groan of disgust escaped her lips when she was done.

"That's a good little girl," Long taunted. He reached into his duffel bag and pulled out a roll of duct tape. "Now, turn around and put your hands behind your back."

Kat seethed but obeyed. This was not at all what she had in mind when she had been elected county sheriff.


The Wild Bronco Motel stood on the roadside just outside Dorado City. The single-story structure was outdated and nearly obsolete. A rusty metal sign with the image of a bucking horse stood precariously near the front of the building. Tall weeds had been left to sprout around most of the neglected structure. A gravel-covered courtyard did not help matters. Clearly the place had seen better days.

A white van was parked in the courtyard outside one of the rooms. Inside the motel room Montoya and Stiles were proceeding with their plan of keeping Jenny Kresser as "insurance" against her mother.

"I bet detention was never like this? Was it, girlie?" Montoya asked Jenny Kresser.

At the moment he was tying the girl's ankles together with cord as she sat in the motel room's single wooden chair. Jenny's arms were also bound behind her back with the same cord. Several loops of rope were wrapped around her upper torso, below and above her breasts, anchoring her to the chair. Duct tape bands were plastered over her mouth and delicate jaw, keeping the frightened girl quiet.

Montoya's companion, Jack Stiles, fidgeted with the television set. "You gotta be kidding me," he complained as he turned the old-fashioned channel dial on the outdated set. Only static and snow greeted his efforts. He cursed and turned the television off. Not knowing what else to do, he lashed out with his forearm, knocking the set off the wooden stand and onto the floor.

Montoya chuckled. He had finished tying Jenny Kresser to the chair and stood behind the girl. "What's the matter, Stiles, mad about missing your cartoons?"

Stiles ignored Montoya and gave the television set a final kick. He shook his head and exhaled. "Shit! What the hell are we supposed to do now?"

Montoya looked down at Jenny and placed his hands on the girl's shoulders. "Maybe the little school girl here would like to play a game with us. How about I'll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours?"

Jenny closed her tear-stained eyes and whimpered.

"What the hell is the matter with you?" Stiles scoffed with disgust. "She can't be more than sixteen. What did they lock you up for anyway?"

"I'm a victim of the system," Montoya chuckled, stroking Jenny's hair.

Stiles frowned. "Lay off the girl . . . at least when I'm around."

Had Stiles not been tall and imposing, Montoya would have disregarded that comment. As it was, he had to obey. Besides, Montoya reasoned, there would be plenty of time for fun and games later.


Inside the Wild Bronco Motel office, Larry Mulligan, the middle aged and overweight manager, stood behind the counter. At the moment his full attention was on the soap opera playing out on the small TV screen that stood on the counter.

Suddenly, a local news report interrupted Jack and Lauren's discussion on the state of their relationship. A pretty female reporter looked straight into the camera as she said the following: "This is a special announcement from the sheriff's office. The Durango County Sheriff's Department is looking for four men believed to be involved in the kidnaping of a sixteen-year girl. Jennifer Kresser was abducted from her home by armed gunmen this morning. The girl's mother, Joanna Kresser, was also abducted but managed to escape. "The sheriff's department has released the names and photos of two of the men believed to be involved in the alleged kidnaping . . . "

The manager watched in stunned silence as the mug shots of two of the suspects appeared on the screen. One of the men looked similar to a guy who had been in the office an hour ago to pay for a room. The height and weight description was all the confirmation he needed. Before the news report ended the manager made his way to the window and parted the wooden blinds.

Mulligan listened carefully as the newscaster reported that the men were driving a white van. The manager's heart skipped a beat when he spotted a white van parked in the motel courtyard. These were the men all right! But what were they doing here?

All those thoughts were quickly discarded by another possibility. Perhaps the girl they had kidnaped was rich. There was the possibility of a reward. If nothing else, he would be a hero. This was his chance to prove himself. People would finally know that Larry Mulligan existed.

He wiped sweat from his brow and made his way back behind to the counter. He removed two items from under the counter: His shotgun "Bertha" and a half empty bottle of whiskey--cheap but potent. He took a swill from the whiskey bottle and picked up his shotgun. He always kept it loaded and ready, just in case some undesirables were up to no good, like these two clowns. He took another drink from the bottle and exhaled.

All right, he thought, It's time to care of business. The thought of calling the cops never entered his mind. Larry Mulligan had never needed cops before so why now?


"UUUUMMPHH!" Kat groaned, grimacing with discomfort.

Clad only her stockings and black garter belt, the Durango County sheriff was lying on her stomach, tightly bound and gagged with duct tape. Her arms were secured behind her back at the elbows and wrists. Bands of duct tape were lashed around her upper body, above and below her bare breasts. More unyielding silver-colored straps circled her thighs, knees, and ankles; leaving Kat completely helpless.

Of course she was gagged with the same material. Half a dozen bands of duct tape were lashed over her lips and wrapped around her head, keeping her bikini panties wedged deep within her mouth. To Kat, "chewing" on her own panties was the ultimate humiliation. Of course, this ordeal was far from over.

Long and the man with eyeglasses stood over Kat, looking down at her with different expressions. While Long leered at Kat with perverted glee, the other man looked on nervously. He was not as pleased with the situation as his companion was.

"That should keep our hot sheriff out of action for a while," Long taunted.

"Good. Let's get the hell out of here," the man with the glasses said.

"That's the trouble with you, Radford," Long called out. "With you it's all business. You gotta learn to relax. Take time to smell the roses. Tie up a hot woman. That kind of shit. What's the point of--"

"Shut up!" Radford said. "Someone's coming!"

Radford darted behind the nearest shrub and ducked.

Long shrugged, pulled out his gun, and casually took cover behind a tree.

From the ground, Kat looked on with confusion and anticipation. She then heard the unmistakable sound of someone moving through the bushes. Before Kat could contemplate what to do, Lindy emerged into the small clearing where her sister lay bound and gagged.

Lindy had her gun drawn. Her eyes widened with surprise when she spotted Kat naked and trussed up with duct tape on the ground. "Kat!" she called out.

Kat shook her head and unleashed a desperate chorus of mewing and grunting. She lurched about on the ground as she gestured emphatically with her head and eyes, obviously indicating to a particular direction.

"Drop the gun, deputy!"

Lindy jerked her head toward the voice, which came from the direction Kat had indicated. A man partially concealed behind a tree had a gun pointed at her. The same man who had bound her and . . . Lindy tensed and took aim at the man with her own weapon.

"Not this time!" Lindy shouted.

"Hate to tell you this, deputy, but the odds are against you!" a second male voice said.

Lindy shifted her eyes but saw no sign of the second man. Obviously he was hiding somewhere in the bushes. Lindy cursed under breath when she realized she had walked straight into a trap.

"Drop the gun or the hot sheriff dies," Long said, taking aim at Kat.

To reaffirm his threat, he pulled the trigger. The boom of the gun sounded even louder in the peaceful confines of the wooded area. Dirt kicked up in front of Kat's face where the bullet struck the ground. Kat flinched and grunted.

That was enough for Lindy. She sighed dejectedly and lowered her gun.

"Toss it toward me," Long ordered.

Lindy threw the gun toward Long.

A moment later Long emerged from behind the tree. He had his gun aimed at Lindy as he regarded her with a sardonic smile. "Look who's back for seconds," he taunted. "How's your backside, deputy? Still sore back there?"

Lindy glared at Long but said nothing.


"Shit! I'm starving!" Montoya complained. "I told you we should've gotten something to eat before shacking up here."

Montoya paced back and forth in the motel room as Stiles watched him from his reclining position on the bed. Jenny Kresser sat bound and gagged to the chair, keeping still and quite, afraid to make any noise or movement.

"Why don't you order room service and a bottle of wine," Stiles said, chuckling.

At that moment there was a knock at the door.

Montoya reacted quickly and peered through the cheap curtains covering the window next to the door. Outside stood Larry Mulligan, dressed in a long overcoat.

"It's that slob motel manager," Montoya said.

Stiles joined Montoya at the window. "What the hell does he want?"

"Maybe an ass-kicking," Montoya muttered. "Son of a bitch charged me $75 for this piece of shit room."

"Get rid of him," Styles said, reaching inside his waistband. He pulled out his .45 automatic and stood next Jenny, taking aim at the girl with the gun. She gasped and turned away, whimpering with fear. "Not a sound, sweetheart, or it'll be your last."

Montoya also pulled out his pistol. He turned the doorknob and parted the door slightly. "Yeah?" he asked the manager.

"Good evening, sir," the manager said. "Sorry to bother you but I need to do a room check. It will only take a minute."

"A room check for what?" asked Montoya.

"To make sure nothing is illegal is going on," the manager replied. "Since it's my hotel I make the rules."

Montoya turned toward Stiles. The two men shared a worried look before Montoya turned his attention toward the manager.

"Just a minute," Montoya said, pleasantly.

He closed the door, stepped back, and fired three quick shots through the wooden door.

Outside the motel room, Larry Mulligan staggered back from the motel room door as a bullet struck his shoulder. He grimaced with pain and let out a startled grunt. Despite the wound he somehow recovered enough to raise his shogun that was concealed under his overcoat.

At that instant the motel room swung open. Mulligan pulled the trigger, filling the air with a deafening boom. Montoya had not expected Mulligan to be armed and had intended on finishing him off. Instead, the criminal was greeted with a single shotgun blast to his chest. The result was devastating. Montoya's chest literally exploded as he was blown back inside the motel room. He was dead before he hit the floor on his back.

Stiles looked on with shock at his dead companion. Jenny Kresser sobbed hysterically through her gag as she squirmed in the chair. Stiles darted toward the doorway, took a quick look, and spotted the retreating hotel manager. He fired two shots at Mulligan but missed as the manager staggered around the corner of the building toward the office. Stiles thought quickly on what to do next. There was only one option. He would have to leave the girl and get the hell out of here. By the time he untied her and placed her in the van the cops or that manager would be waiting for him. He shifted his attention from Montoya to Jenny Kresser. He cursed under his breath and bolted from the room in the direction of the van.


"Those lowlifes really did a number on your house," Deputy Bayless said as he stood in the disheveled living room of Joanna Kresser's house.

Joanna paused in her cleaning to glance at the deputy who had been given the task of protecting her. At first she had tried sitting still as she waited for any news of her kidnapped daughter, but she was too nervous. Instead, she busied herself on straightening out the messy living room; even after Bayless advised her not to touch anything that might be used as evidence.

"That's the least of my worries," Joanna said somberly.

Bayless nodded and crossed his arms. "Yeah, good point." After a short pause he spoke again. "So, uh, where do you think your husband stashed the money he got for the diamonds?"

Joanna gazed at Bayless. He had been filled-in about the details of her ordeal but did not expect that particular question from him. "I don't know," she replied. "I never even knew that he was involved in the robbery."

"But you must have suspected something?" Bayless persisted. "Did he ever go on a business trip after you moved to Dorado City? Alone?"

There was something in the imposing deputy's tone that made Joanna uncomfortable. "That was part of his job, yes."


"When what?"

"When and where did he go . . . alone?" Bayless asked impatiently.

Joanna swallowed. Something was not right. "I don't remember exactly. He made several trips to Dorado City."

Bayless uncrossed his arms and stared fixedly at Joanna. "You know, there's all sorts of ways of making someone remember details like that."

A flash of apprehension swept over Joanna when he noticed Bayless gazing at her. "What are you talking about?"

Ever so gently, Bayless raised his leg and placed it on the arm rest of the living room couch. He hiked up his pant leg, revealing a holstered revolver strapped to his ankle. "I'll give you an example."

Joanna flinched and gasped as Bayless pulled out the revolver. She watched with shock and confusion as Bayless flicked open the barrel of the gun and emptied all but one of the six bullets in the revolver.

"What are you doing?" she asked, her heart pounding with dread.

Bayless snapped the gun barrel shut and gave it a quick spin. "Just showing you an example on how to obtain information from a . . . reticent subject."

"What subject?"Joanna asked, backing away.

Bayless gestured at Joanna with the revolver. "You, of course."

Joanna's heart sank and her stomach knotted with dread. Though her head spun with confusion, her legs had no trouble reacting to the shocking situation. She spun on her heels and bolted toward the kitchen.

Bayless frowned and stuffed the revolver inside waistband. "Come on, Joanna, we don't need that," he called as Joanna disappeared into the kitchen.

He then went after her.


"Now that's what I call some serious sisterly bonding," Long said, chuckling as he stood over Kat and Lindy.

The two sisters, deputy and sheriff, were securely bound gagged together. Like Kat, Lindy had been forced to strip and stuff her panties in her mouth. Now the two young women were sitting back to back on the ground in the middle of the woods. Their wrists were bound behind their backs with duct tape. Silver-colored straps of the same tape were lashed around their torsos, below and above their bare breasts.

They also "shared" several tight bands of duct tape that were wrapped around their stomachs and shoulders, keeping the two sisters anchored together. Their thighs, knees, and ankles were secured with more tape. If that was not bad enough, a length of cord had been used to connect the bound legs of each woman to a tree in front of them. This ensured that Kat and Lindy would not be doing much movement beyond some squirming and tugging in place.

At the moment Kat and Lindy sat still, glaring straight ahead. Though clearly angry, their eyes also expressed humiliation. Kat's emotions, however, went beyond anger and embarrassment. She was Lindy's older sister and had always taken pride in protecting her and being there for her. Now here she was, naked, tied up, and at the hands of two dangerous criminals--alongside her younger sister. Kat could literally feel her blood boiling. She was going to get even with these two lowlifes if it was the last thing she ever did.

"All right, let's split," Radford told Long. "You've had your little fun."

Long nodded and turned toward Radford. "I think it's time we made some changes in our working relationship."

Radford frowned. "What the hell are you talking about?"

Long's face darkened. "From now on I'm in charge. I call the shots."

"Really?" Radford said, his voice heavy with sarcasm. "How do you figure that?"

"You're not getting it done, Radford," Long said. "You and your 'no rough stuff' crap haven't gotten us anywhere or anything. No diamonds. No money. Nothing!"

"Oh, you want to be in charge?" Radford asked, his voice rising. "Is that it?"

"I am in charge!" Long countered.

"Over my dead body!" Radford shouted.

"Okay," Long said, removing his pistol from his waist band.

In one swift motion he drew the gun and fired a single shot, hitting Radford squarely in the abdomen.

Kat and Lindy flinched and grunted as the sound of the gunshot echoed throughout the nearby trees.

Radford's face contorted with pain and shock. The impact of the bullet sent him staggering but he managed to stay on his feet. He gazed downward at the hole that had appeared on his stomach and placed his hand over it. He then looked up at Long.

"Who's in charge now, Radford?" Long taunted. "Who's in charge now? Tell me?"

"Screw you," Radford gasped between heavy breathing.

Long raised his gun to fire another shot but Radford collapsed and fell to the ground. Long stood triumphantly over his fallen ring leader. Radford was still alive and glaring at Long, shooting daggers with his eyes at his double-crossing subordinate.

"I told you not to push it," Long shouted. "I gave you a chance. But you wouldn't listen. Look what happens when you mess with me."

"I'll see you in hell!" Radford said, using his final breath to utter those words.

"Yeah, right," Long scoffed. He raised his gun and fired another shot into Radford.

Kat, who had watched the whole incident, flinched and closed her eyes. Her dread multiplied when she realized that there was now the possibility that Long would not want to leave any witnesses to his crime. Her heart pounded and a chill ran down her spine.

Long then turned his attention to his two captives.


Deputy Bayless carried a squirming and screaming Joanna back into the living room. She had gotten as far as the kitchen door that led to the backyard but Bayless had caught her before she could open it. The deputy laughed with gusto as Joanna writhed and flailed her legs uselessly.

"Settle down!" he told her.

Joanna ignored his order and continued struggling in his arms. "Why are you doing this?" she asked. "You work for the sheriff's office!"

Bayless finally had enough of Joanna's struggling. He paused and wrapped his arm around her torso, pinning her arms against her body. He placed the revolver against her temple, pressing the barrel of the weapon to her head.

"Knock it off!" he warned. "Just take it easy and everything will be all right. You got that?" Joanna gasped and flinched as she felt the gun barrel against her temple. "You got that?" he asked again, obviously expecting an answer.

"Yes!" Joanna gasped. She was on the verge of tears, still trying to make sense of Bayless's actions. She relaxed and ceased her squirming.

"That's a good girl," Bayless said with a chuckle. "Now, let's go into the bedroom. You and I have things to discuss."

He dragged Joanna away from the living room and down a narrow hallway.

"What do you want?" Joanna asked. "Please, just tell me what you want."

"In due time, baby," Bayless said. "But first, I have to make sure you don't get any funny ideas."


Special Agent Vanessa Mendez pulled up in front of Joanna Kresser's house. Just before reaching Dorado City she had contacted the sheriff's office and had been informed that Mrs. Kresser was at home with some deputy named Bayless. Though she questioned the procedure or purpose in doing that, Agent Mendez decided to begin her investigation by meeting and interviewing Joanna Kresser.

As the regional federal agent, Vanessa Mendez's jurisdiction encompassed six other counties besides Durango. She was more than up to the task. Capital crimes were not exactly rampant in the rural area. At times Vanessa wondered if she had been assigned this particular location because she was a woman, and still quite young at that. Whatever the reason, Vanessa was determined to perform her duties as a federal agent.

She parked behind the sheriff's department patrol car and exited her vehicle. She adjusted her smart and competent navy blue suit. The tailored jacket and stylish slacks accentuated her lean though athletic figure. Along with her shoulder-length dark hair and olive-skinned complexion--compliments of her Hispanic heritage--Vanessa Mendez cast quite a stunning vision. Her holstered Sig. automatic strapped to her waist completed the outfit. Agent Mendez was more than capable with the weapon.

She looked about the area, took in her surroundings, and made her way toward the front door of the house.


"Hmmphhh!" Joanna moaned as Deputy Bayless tightened the handcuffs on her wrists.

She was thoroughly gagged with one of her scarfs that Bayless had forced into her mouth between her teeth. He had tied it extra tight behind her head, forcing Joanna's lips into a facially-distorting grin. The hapless woman now laying face down on her bedroom bed with her arms secured behind her back with the deputy's handcuffs.

Bayless stood from the bed and looked down at Joanna. "A couple of days ago I pulled over two men for speeding outside Dorado City. No big deal. Said they were here visiting a friend: Jack Kresser. Your husband. I knew he was dead. They didn't. I didn't tell them that. I knew they were up to no good so I ran a check. Turned out one of the men was on parole. Being in Dorado City was a violation of that parole."

Bayless made his way toward Joanna's closet. He looked through her clothes as he continued his story. "Being an officer of the law, I was about to arrest him. That's when he offered me a sweet deal."

Bayless removed another of Joanna's scarfs from the closet and made his way back to the bed where she lay. "Said he'd give me fifty-thousand dollars if I let him go. But first he had some personal business with your husband." Bayless gathered Joanna's legs and began binding her ankles with the scarf. "He came clean and explained it all to me. Turns out your husband was the ringleader of a diamond heist in Palm City. But you know all that already, don't you. Needless to say, my fee went up . . . considerably."

Bayless finished securing Joanna's ankles with the scarf and sighed. "Anyway, I let those two jokers go without telling them about your husband's demise. So now here we are. Still no money or diamonds. But not for long."

The doorbell rang. Joanna tensed.

"Shit!" Bayless cursed. "Don't go away. I'll be right back."

In the living room, Deputy Bayless peered through the blinds of the window next to the door. A slow smile spread across his lips when he spotted the attractive woman standing outside the door. Though she sported sunglasses and looked serious, it did not detract from her physical beauty. The crooked deputy's excitement rose when he realized that she was probably the regional federal agent dispatched to Dorado City.

Yes, things were about to get very interesting. Bayless opened the door and came face to face with the attractive woman. "Hi," he greeted her. "What can I do for you?"

The woman was all business. She flashed her badge. "I'm Special Agent Vanessa Mendez. I'm here to interview Mrs. Joanna Kresser about her daughter's kidnaping."

"Of course. Glad to meet you, Agent Mendez?" Bayless said, taking in the sight of the serious but beautiful agent. "I'm Deputy Jay Bayless. I was assigned to guard Mrs. Kresser. Please come in."

Vanessa Mendez kept her stoic demeanor as she entered the house. She removed her sunglasses and looked around the living room as Bayless closed the door behind her.

"Where is Mrs. Kresser?" Agent Mendez asked.

She turned toward Bayless and froze with shock. The deputy stood a few feet from her. His expression was hard and his eyes were intense. Perhaps his demeanor had something to do with the fact that he had his service pistol aimed at her.

For the first time during their brief encounter, Agent Mendez expressed something else besides detached professionalism. Uncertainty and concern flashed in her large brown eyes. "What are you doing?"

"I'm afraid Mrs. Kresser is indisposed at the moment," Bayless said. "Now, Agent Mendez, remove your gun and drop it on the floor."

Agent Mendez's pretty face hardened. "What is the meaning of this?"

"I'm not going to tell you again," Bayless said flatly. "Take your gun out and drop it on the floor."

Agent Mendez had no idea what was going on but she obeyed the order. She reached behind her back and removed her Sig. All the while Bayless watched her like a hawk, his face expressing twisted pleasure. As instructed Vanessa tossed the weapon on the floor with a resounding thud.

"Now kick it toward me, slowly," Bayless instructed.

Agent Mendez did so. "What's going on here?" she asked. " What have you done with Mrs. Kresser?"

"You're gonna find out soon, sweety," Bayless said. "By the way, welcome to Durango County, Agent Mendez."


"Look what I found," Long told Kat and Lindy as he returned from his visit to Joanna Kresser's jeep.

The two sisters, sheriff and deputy, were still tightly bound and gagged sitting back to back in the clearing of the wooded area. Not to mention that they were both semi-naked. Up until now they had sat still and expressionless. That quickly changed when Kat saw the gasoline tank that Long had brought with him from the jeep.

The sheriff's eyes widened with alarm as Bayless stood before her and Lindy. There was no mystery what he planned to do with the gasoline. The criminal's intense eyes said it all. Kat and Lindy shook their heads and mewed desperately through their gags as Long twisted open the cap on the gas tank.

Ignoring the muffled protests of the trussed up young women, Long began pouring the gasoline around Kat and Lindy. All the while he whistled a happy tune. He walked around the young women a couple of times, splashing and pouring the foul-smelling fuel on their bare legs and thighs. He then stopped and poured the remaining gas over their laps. Kat and Lindy went mad. They squirmed, bucked, and grunted--much to the delight of their captor. Long stood and watched, riveted by the bare-breasted beauties squirming for his pleasure.

"All right, settle down!" he shouted. "I'm not going to set you on fire."

That got the attention of both Kat and Lindy. They both ceased struggling and looked up at their captor. The fear and desperation in their eyes were still very much present. Their breathing was hard and erratic. Kat could literally feel Lindy trembling behind her. She was actually grateful she could not see her sister's face. It would have broken Kat's heart if she had to look Lindy in the eyes during this dreadful ordeal.

Satisfied with their attention, Long continued. "Even though I may be a killer." He glanced toward the strewn body of his former boss before addressing Kat and Lindy. "I'm not about to light two hot girls on fire. Granted, I may be a sick son of a bitch, but I'm not a monster."

He sighed and reached into his back pocket. Kat watched with dread and anticipation as Long pulled out a small white candle and a paper back book. He stood over the two young women.

"I'm not a monster, but I am a sporting guy," he told Kat and Lindy. "Now please hold still and don't move."

He placed the paper back book flat on Kat's head, balancing it as if Kat was about to practice a lesson in poise and proper posture. He then took out a cigarette lighter and lit the short candle. Kat realized what he was about to do. Panic got the best of her and she shook her head. The book slid off her head and tumbled down to her lap.

That angered Long. He knelt before Kat and stuffed the lighter in his pocket. He held the burning candle in his other hand as he gripped Kat's chin with his free hand. "Do that again and I'll set you both on fire right here and now. You got that?"

Kat swallowed and closed her eyes.

Long released Kat's chin, picked up the book, and once again balanced it on top of the sheriff's head. This time, Kat kept her composure and made no effort to dislodge the book. She sat silent and rigid as Long carefully stood the burning candle on top of the book.

"I would advise your sister to sit still also," Long said with a devious chuckle.

He pulled his hands back, leaving the burning candle standing atop the paperback book, which was balanced flatly on Kat's head. Any sudden head movement or squirming by either Kat or Lindy would topple the candle over and ignite the gasoline that coated their bodies. Kat shifted her eyes and glared at the criminal. She could not risk turning her head.

Long stood over his bound and helpless captives. "Well, ladies, now you have a chance. Not much of a chance but you're still alive. It's been a blast, really. I wish we had more time to get acquainted but I have other business to attend to. Oh, what the hell . . . "

Long knelt between the trussed up sisters and proceeded to fondle and squeeze their breasts. Being perfectly aware of the consequences if they struggled or resisted, Kat and Lindy could do nothing but whimper their abjections. Kat shifted her eyes and glared at the criminal. If looks could kill Long would have been dead twice over.

"Ygghmmm Bastmmphh!" Kat cursed at Long. The best her panty-filled mouth could do with "You bastard!"

Kat's outrage amused Long further. He withdrew his hand from Kat's breasts and slid it between her thighs. He gave her private area a tight, hard squeeze. Kat closed her eyes and flinched at his touch. Still aware of the burning candle over her head, the distressed sheriff sat still as Long stroked and had his way with her. She moaned with dismay and disgust as she felt his finger sliding inside her!

"Nice and tight," Long whispered. "If I only had more time. Oh, well . . ."

The smirking criminal withdrew his hand from between Kat's thighs. He stood and backed away from Kat and Lindy, leaving the two sisters not only tightly bound gagged but in a devious death trap as well. Even if they did not struggle, Kat knew it was only a matter of time before the candle on top of her head waned and burned down. The end result would be the same. The only variable would be the amount of time of said result.

From the corner of her eye Kat watched Long get into the jeep and start the vehicle. The jeep pulled away until the sound of the engine could no longer be heard. Kat and Lindy were now on their own. Kat estimated they had no more than an hour or so to live--providing she and Lindy sat still and did not upset the candle atop her head.

Frustration, anger, and despair swirled in Kat's mind. Once again she had fallen victim to the whims and perversions of criminals. Not only that but now Lindy shared her distress. Why was this happening to her? What god or gods had she angered to deserve this? Barring some form of divine intervention, Kat and Lindy were doomed.

Suddenly, Kat felt Lindy stirring behind her. That was followed by intense grunting and mewing. Kat froze with dread, realizing the danger of such exertion on the part of her sister.

"Mmphhh!" Kat grunted, keeping still as possible. "Nnnnmpp! Mmmphhh!"

But Lindy's frustration was too much. She ignored her older sister's desperate warning and continued tugging and straining against her bonds.

Kat held her breath when she felt the book jiggle atop her head.

The exciting conclusion

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