SARAH 'S STORY
Bloody airline strikes.
Sarah Reiver fumbled in her bag, squinting in the dim streetlight, finding a few bills to hand to the cab driver.
Wonderful. Her first vacation in nearly a year, an utter bollocks now, thanks to some overpaid, underworked tarts
she sighed, hefting her bag, tossing sandy hair back from her face. Nothing to be done about it now.
Oh, the airline people had been as nice as could be-reissued tickets, called her hotel to extend the reservation without penalty, bonus mileage
but no flight available until Sunday. And that, of course, forced a difficult choice: a vacation shortened by two days? Or reschedule for a later date, and go back to work next week?
No choice at all, really. Even an attenuated vacation would be preferable to a week in the currently poisonous atmosphere of the office. When new department heads clash with senior managers, it's time to lie low. Maybe, with luck, the week to come would find some rapprochement between Gilbert Cates and Martyn Branch; either way, it was best to simply get a good night's sleep, and spend Saturday lazing about the house, before
Sarah had closed the door behind herself, locked it, set the bags down, all mechanically, without thinking. Was there something amiss, something strange? Or was she simply daydreaming with a tired brain and overactive imagination? There was a light on in the living room
damn, what else had she forgotten to turn off before she left?
Shame, Sarah, she scolded herself-naughty daydreams about Gilbert Cates are no excuse for not being careful. The new man certainly didn't have the winning disposition of old Mr. Branch, but there was no question that his perfume-advert looks and GQ tailoring compensated for a lot-and probably explained her carelessness.
Still tired and stiff from the cab ride, Sarah yawned enormously, rolling her head around on her neck as she turned the corner into the living room; it was only after she was already in the room that she looked down toward the floor-and saw that she wasn't alone.
It was hard to say who was more surprised-Sarah, or the man kneeling on the floor with a drawer from her desk emptied in front of him.
"What the-" the man recovered his voice first. He had to twist his body around to begin to get to his feet, giving Sarah a split-second head start on him.
Which she didn't use.
"Who are you?" Sarah was so utterly astonished at seeing this stranger rummaging in her papers that it took her an unfortunately long moment to realize that the man was not abashed by her indignation, and appeared not to be planning to explain
that, in fact, he was now on his feet, and heading directly for her.
Sarah was still baffled, but the man's movement toward her set her instinctively in motion-she turned on her heels, and sprinted back down the hallway, thanking God she had worn trainers instead of heels for the long flight.
"Help!" Her voice sounded strangely hollow in her ears, as though she still only half-believed what was happening. She could hear the man's feet pounding behind her, gaining
if she made for the front door, in a straight line, he'd be on her before she reached it. Her only hope was surprise. She let out another yell, dug her left foot into the carpet, and threw herself to the right, a perfect midfield change, racing through the foyer toward the back of the house.
It worked!, she exulted. The man's momentum had carried him past her, and she was now sprinting toward the kitchen, and the back door of the house. Her shaking hands scrambled with the knob to the kitchen door, she threw it open, whipped inside and eased it closed again. She leaned her head against the door, heart pounding, breath ragged in her chest. No time to rest, though
he'd figure out which direction she had headed soon enough. Her best bet was to tiptoe quietly to the back door, and slide out. She took a breath, straightened up, turned around
and found herself staring into the black barrel of a large pistol, in the hand of a dark-haired woman who was regarding her with amusement, a can of soda on the counter beside her.
"What's the matter, honey? Forget your plane tickets?"
Even if she could have come up with an answer, Sarah doubted that her heaving chest would have allowed her to voice it. This wasn't the first gun she had ever seen, and the unwavering hand leveling it at her commanded respect. The woman raised an eyebrow, but before she could speak again, the door behind Sarah flew open, knocking her forwards.
"Goddam bitch!" the man was panting behind her as Sarah and the brunette collided, crashing to the floor. Four sets of neatly-manicured fingers were scrabbling for the gun that had gone flying. Sarah glimpsed it lying a few feet to her right; she threw her body sideways, but couldn't extend far enough to reach it. She tried to roll herself to her hands and knees, but slender fingers tangled in her hair, and she shrieked in pain. She reached to her head, to try and pull the tearing grip away, but she had missed her chance: the man had stooped to the floor, and picked up the gun.
"All right, ladies," he snarled. "We don't have time for two falls out of three."
Sarah yelped as the woman gave her hair one last vicious yank; the brunette got to her feet, snapping at the man with the gun.
"What the hell is she doing here?"
"How do I know, for Christ's sake? Some kind of travel mixup, I'd imagine."
"Oh, really?" The woman's voice dripped venom as Sarah rose slowly to her feet; though her path to the back door was unblocked, she knew the man could shoot her a half-dozen times before she'd gone two steps. "That seems a little too tidy to me" the woman continued. "What's the story, bitch? You were supposed to be gone hours ago!"
If anything could have disturbed Sarah more than the sight of the gun pointed at her, it was the chilling knowledge that this was not some random crime or misunderstanding-these people knew who she was, knew her plans
and on reflection, the man's posture at her desk had not suggested simple robbery.
"My-" Sarah's voice sounded hoarse and distant through the blood pounding in her ears-"My flight was cancelled. Strike. I
I came home," she concluded foolishly.
"Is that so?" the brunette sneered. "How convenient, you showing up here just as we were about to-"
"Shut up," the man snapped. "If she doesn't know, no point in telling her. And if she does know
then we'll just make sure she can't share that information with anyone else."
"I don't know what you are talking about." Sarah put as much cold dignity in her voice as she could manage. "All I do know is that you two are trespassing, and I'll thank you to leave my house at once, before you find yourselves in some very big trouble."
She hadn't exactly expected them to quail at this, but it would have been nicer if they hadn't both laughed outright.
"Oh, sorry, your Royal Bleedin' Highness," the man sneered. "Shame to be inconveniencing a fine lady like yourself," he went on, "but we aren't going to be leaving just yet
and neither are you." Keeping the gun leveled at Sarah, he began to rummage in the kitchen drawers.
"So, where do you keep the tape?" the man inquired, his face all insolent amusement.
"Tape?" Sarah was genuinely surprised. "I-- I have some in the top drawer on the left." The gun in the man's hand didn't waver as he reached back and fished through the drawer's contents. He drew out a small, narrow roll of masking tape.
"Now what the hell am I supposed to do with this?"
Baffled, Sarah fumbled for a response. "Well
I'm afraid that is the only tape I have here. If you tell me-"
"Never mind," the woman snapped, noting the washer and dryer in the alcove off the kitchen. She disappeared into the laundry area; there was the sound of rummaging through drawers, and she re-emerged into the kitchen.
"This should do." To Sarah's astonishment, she was running an old length of faded white clothesline through her hands.
I wonder how long that's been there? Sarah was amazed that her mind had room for such an inane question, under the circumstances.
The man handed the gun back to his partner and took the clothesline; with a kitchen knife, he cut off a piece about three feet long.
"Right, lady, we've got work to do, and we don't have time to be messing with you. We'll decide what to do with you later. Turn around."
"Now, just a damn minute," Sarah was simmering. For all the deadly danger that these people represented, she was not about to allow them to--
"I said turn the hell around!" the irritated command was accompanied by a wrenching pain as the man's steely fingers closed around Sarah's upper arm, and spun her around, with her back to him.
Sarah put as much ice in her voice as she could manage. "Take your filthy hands off me, this min--- aaahhhh!" No amount of bravado could prevent her gasp as both her arms were yanked painfully behind her.
She could feel the man trap both her wrists in the fingers of one hand, crossing them over each other, as he used the other hand to begin winding the clothesline about her wrists.
The command was punctuated by a yank at the cord. Sarah winced, her arms and shoulders already beginning to ache in their unnatural position, then gritted her teeth as she felt the man take each of her upper arms, and pull them as close together as they would go. More cord was tied, now, about her arms, above the elbows. This had two effects: one was to reduce the leverage at her wrists to near zero, preventing her from making any real effort to free them. The second effect had to do with her posture: with her arms fastened so strictly behind her, she couldn't help noticing that her breasts were forced up and out against the fabric of her silk blouse
nor was she the only one to notice.
Her hands and arms now secured, Sarah found herself spun around to face her captors once more. The woman was still smirking, but there was a quite different look in the man's eye, his gaze fixed uncomfortably on Sarah' s chest. Head high, she did her best to fix him with a look of stony contempt; the smile with which he responded was not reassuring.
"Sorry, your ladyship, no time for a cuppa," he sneered, "I got work to do, and you-- well, I guess you're a little tied up right now!"
The icy stare with which Sarah greeted the attempted repartee seemed not to faze her captor. He jerked his head toward the stairs.
"Upstairs. Now." If Sarah had any thought of resisting, the steely grip on her arm dissuaded her, as she was hustled, stumbling, up the stairs.
The journey upstairs was strange and unsettling, as though the warm, familiar surroundings of her home had grown cold and alien. A walk she might have taken a thousand times was wholly different when done as a bound prisoner. Her painful attempt to negotiate the stairs without arms or hands reminded her just how much she took her freedom for granted. The man kept a hand on her arm, but she doubted he'd make much effort to support her if she lost her footing and fell. Finally, they reached the landing at the top of the stair.
"Where's the bedroom?" came the growl from behind her, and Sarah felt ice creep down her spine.
"You filth--" Sarah gritted. "You wouldn't dare-" she tried to pull free from his grip, stumbled, and nearly fell; the man's grip on her arm dragged her painfully back upright, and he barked a harsh laugh.
"You want me to stuff you into that closet over there?" Sarah tried to look back at him, shaking her head "no". "Then if you want to be halfway comfortable while we work, show me where the damn bedroom is!"
Her heart sinking, Sarah nodded to the right, and allowed herself to be dragged along. She balked for a moment at the door of the bedroom- logically, if the man had vile intentions on her, there was nothing to stop him from taking her anywhere in the house; somehow, though, the invasion of her bedroom made that prospect seem even more frighteningly real.
Her captor allowed her no more than a second or two for these ruminations as he pushed her inside.
"Right, this'll do."
"I say we should keep her where we can see her," his partner protested. "We can't take a chance on her getting up to any mischief."
"Oh, don't worry about that. Her Ladyship ain't gonna get the chance for mischief
not when I get through with her."
"P- please," Sarah tried to keep the hysteria out of her voice. "I promise I won't--"
"I know ya won't, because I'm gonna make sure ya don't!" he chortled. He glanced about the room, and Sarah's blood chilled as his eye lingered on her bed. "Nah
not right now, anyway," he said enigmatically. Instead, he pushed Sarah over to stand next to her computer table; he surveyed the low-backed chair. "Here we go." He took Sarah by the right shoulder, and sat her down in the chair, forcing her bound arms down and behind the chair back. He next looped more cord between her bound wrists, and pulled back and down, the taut rope forcing Sarah to sit bolt upright, the other end of the cord tied to the rung beneath the chair.
While the man was tying her wrists in place, his partner had been cutting more pieces of the clothesline, and was handing them to the man, who used them to run rope around Sarah's upper body, fastening her even more firmly to the chair; it was clearly not accidental that he made it snug by cinching it up under her breasts. With her arms pulled behind the chair, Sarah had to sit as erect as possible, to ease the strain on her back and shoulders-- thus making it that much easier to fasten her firmly in place.
As he was completing his work, the woman had knelt down in front of Sarah, and crossed her ankles painfully, tying them as the man had tied her wrists. The bound ankles were then pulled under the chair, toward the back, and tied to the chair's bottom rung.
Each of her captors gave a few experimental pulls and tugs, ensuring that Sarah would have no chance to free herself, and she could see that their confidence was well-placed: even had they not been watching her, she doubted there was enough slack in the ropes to allow her even to sit comfortably, much less try to escape.
"We need to shut her up," the man growled. "The neighbors aren't close by, but we can't take chances. Since we don't have any tape--"
"Don't worry," the woman smiled venomously in Sarah's direction. "I'm sure our hostess has everything we'll need." As Sarah watched in impotent rage, the brunette sauntered over to her dresser, and began to open drawers, rummaging carelessly.
"Here. These should do the trick." As the brunette approached, Sarah could see that she was carrying several of Sarah's brightly-colored silk scarves in one hand
and in the other, a pair of bright-pink silk panties she had once bought, guiltily, at a novelty party, but never worn.
"Oooh, aren't these lovely," snickered the woman. "I guess Miss High-and-Mighty here has a bit of a wild side."
The man grunted in amusement, one hand casually draped on Sarah's shoulder. The woman was balling the panties up in one hand, several of the scarves over her arm. She held out the wad of pink silk.
"Open wide, honey," she sneered. "Let's see just how big that mouth of yours is."
Sarah clamped her lips together; a frightened prisoner she might be, but she had no intention of allowing this
to put those in her mouth.
The man shifted his grip, and Sarah felt his right hand leave her shoulder as his strong fingers threaded themselves into her hair.
"Co-operate for my partner," his warm breath hissed past her ear as his grip tightened, "or I might forget that I'm a gentleman!"
His fingers fisted in her hair, her scalp tightening, sending a thrill of terror into the pit of her stomach. Her head pulled painfully back, Sarah finally allowed her lips to part, and the woman gleefully stuffed the silk between her teeth, filling her mouth. Though the taste was not as bad as she'd feared, the garment seemed far bigger than she'd imagined, and the woman was using her fingers to push and wedge the panties into any open space in Sarah's mouth and cheeks.
"Ugggh." Sarah's involuntary cry of pain was reduced to a muffled grunt. As the man released her hair, the woman took one of the scarves and jammed it hard up against the cloth wadded in Sarah's mouth. She pulled it tightly around her head, the silk band pressing painfully against the corners of Sarah's mouth. It was long enough to pass once around Sarah's head, have a thick knot tied over the wadding in her mouth, and then be tied again about her head, and knotted brutally tight in the back.
As the woman stepped back to inspect her work, Sarah caught a glimpse of her reflection in the mirror above her dresser: she seemed to be looking at something from a bad film, a captive woman trussed like a turkey in the chair, with her distended mouth, her fine white teeth, biting down on a mass of silk.
"Think that'll keep her quiet?" the woman laughed.
"One way to find out," the man responded. He reached down to Sarah's chest, and pinched her right nipple; even through her blouse and bra, anger, even more than pain, caused her to yelp into her gag.
"Sounds quiet to me!" the man cackled. If he noticed the disgusted look on his partner's face, he made no acknowledgement. Instead, he spoke to Sarah.
"Now, lady, we've got work to do. Looks to me like you're ready to behave yourself up here." The understatement of the year, thought Sarah. "But if you give me any trouble-- if you make me come back up here--"
I'll be sent to bed without supper, Sarah's brain inanely completed the sentence for him.
"--I'll show you just how uncomfortable you can be." His eyes traveled once more to the harness of rope outlining Sarah's chest, and smiled at her. He stepped over to Sarah's bedside table, unplugged the phone from the wall, and picked up the instrument, taking it with him as he left. The woman paused before leaving, scowling first at Sarah, then at the retreating form of her partner. She shook her head angrily, and followed the man down the stairs, leaving Sarah alone.
To Be Continued...
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