||FROM THE CASE FILES OF KITTY WYNTER|
| by Van ©2016
Alone in the dark, naked, strapped to the hard, stainless steel table, gagged with what still felt like a rubber ball, and with her lips sealed by a strip of white medical tape, Jessie made her plans for escape. Actually, her first hour after the departure of Miriam Holden and her sister Angelique had been consumed by wave after wave of barely controlled terror and panic. Eventually, however, Jessie found the courage to not surrender to despair and to start planning an escape. The problem was, she didn't have a lot to work with.
Once Jessie calmed down—if you could call it that—she spent her second hour of darkness exploring her bonds. Her groping fingers couldn't really touch any part of the medical-style padded cuffs binding her wrists, but she had to try. She quickly found that her fingertips could brush against the taut leather strap securing the cuffs to the tabletop, but, after several hours or days of concentrated effort, she decided her neatly trimmed nails might be able to mar the surface finish of the strap, and the resulting "damage" would be entirely cosmetic. Jessie was finally forced to admit that she would not be freeing herself from the table.
So... what to do?
Jessie could think of only one plan, a plan that was more a hope than a strategy. If she feigned unconsciousness when Angelique or Miriam returned, her captor might release all or part of her restraints. If and when that happened, Jessie would spring into action and overpower said captor. Success was unlikely, to be sure, but it was all she could think of.
Eventually, Jessie managed to get some sleep, but it was hardly restful slumber. She drifted in and out of consciousness... and time passed.
Suddenly, the spotlights overhead clicked on and Jessie involuntarily clenched her eyes tightly shut and flinched in her bonds. Her recovery was more or less instantaneous, and although she might have exposed her hand, she put her cunning plan into effect, nonetheless. That is, Jessie kept her eyes closed, slowly willed her body to relax, and waited. She thought she might be hearing the scuff of sneakers on a hard floor, maybe, and that suggested it was Angelique who was returning. Somehow, Jessie couldn't picture Miriam in sneakers, unless they were hand-stitched in Italy from the hide of some endangered species. She waited... and waited... and—
Something had stung Jessie's right nipple! And it hurt like the devil! She tugged on her cuffs, fought the straps pinning her to the table, and her eyes popped wide above her tape-gag. She blinked back tears and focused on the sweetly smiling face of Angelique. Miriam's kid sister was dressed in green surgical scrubs, as before, and in her right hand was a wand-like device made mainly of black plastic. It was about the size and shape of a small flashlight, but instead of a lens and reflector, its business end sported a pair of short, blunt copper studs. Jessie realized the hellish thing was some sort of taser or compact cattle-prod designed to deliver electric shocks—and it had! Her nipple was still tingling.
"Good morning, Dr. Maitland," Angelique purred. "This is your wake-up call." Her smile never wavering, she touched the wand to Jessie's left nipple!
"Mrrrk!" The second shock was just as painful as the first, its effect unmitigated by the fraction of a second Jessie had been allowed to prepare herself. Her eyes were now welling. She was helpless, and her captor was a sadist!
"I know you were playing possum," Angelique purred, waving the wand slowly before Jessie's horrified eyes. "Like I told you before, I've been planning all of this for a very long time. I've anticipated your every trick... and I'm prepared. I've mapped out exactly how I'm going to keep you completely under my full control at all times. I can and will use drugs, if required, but eventually they'll have a negative impact on your liver function... and that would curtail our fun."
Angelique continued slowly waving the wand, and Jessie continued turning her gagged head to follow the copper studs inches from her face.
"I have everything worked out," Angelique continued, "including how to change your bonds one limb at a time, never giving you a chance to resist. And I'll always be ready to use my toys... to encourage your cooperation." She thumbed off the wand and slipped it into the pocket of her scrub pants. "Not that your cooperation will be required, of course. Now, I'm going to get you off this table, move you to another chamber, you'll get a chance to empty your bladder, I'll administer a nice enema to help you empty your bowels, and then, I'll fed you a nice, nutritious breakfast of pureed dog food. And after that... our first day of fun can truly begin."
Jessie's heart was pounding and her breasts heaved between the table's tight straps.
Crazy! She's crazy!
|The Damsel Vanishes|| Chapter 4
"Athena Zevros." Kitty said, standing behind Bertie and staring at the main screen of her partner's computer setup. "I've heard the name. She has a reputation, but we've never crossed swords."
Bertie was busy tapping her keyboard and reading the information scrolling on one of the smaller side-screens. The main screen displayed a digital invoice for an order for "ÆGIS SERVICES" embroidered patches, and included an image of the design. The size, font, and colors matched Bertie's memory of the patch worn by the woman-in-gray who had captured her and, presumably, abducted Jessie. The invoice was more than a year old, and after considerable effort she'd linked the ship-to address to one "Athena Zevros."
"Her public record is rather sketchy," Bertie muttered as she continued widening her search. "She's been questioned by the NYPD several times, but never formally charged. That's based on semi-public information. I can try accessing the complete files of the relevant cases, but One Police Plaza is doing an increasingly better job of protecting their cyber systems. There's a good chance I'll trigger their firewall alarms."
"Better hold off on that, for now," Kitty sighed. "If we have to, we can hit up Shyster or Nikki for the info."
"Kirsten would give you access to confidential police records?" Bertie purred.
"I've never asked her," Kitty answered, her eyes still on the screen, "but I can be very persuasive."
Bertie smiled and started to make a pithy remark, then focused on the side screen. "Hello. It would appear that in addition to being a 'security consultant,' Athena Zevros has done a little modeling on the side." She tapped a few keys and the invoice on the main screen was replaced by an image of Athena lounging beside a pool in a very skimpy, maize-gold bikini. Bertie's smile had returned. "I believe the American idiom is 'hubba-hubba.' Am I correct?"
Kitty's expression remained neutral. There was no denying the fact that Athena Zevros had a smokin' hot body, but... "Very professional," Kitty huffed. "Way to keep a low profile. What kind of 'security consultant' does modeling gigs?"
Still smiling, Bertie tapped more keys and the screen split into two windows. On the left was Athena Zevros, but on the right was an image of another brunette with a smokin' hot bod and also wearing a bikini, this one in black, and the brunette in question was none other than... Kitty Wynter.
Kitty stared at her image for a couple of seconds in glaring silence. "In the first place," she finally muttered, "I'm a private investigator, not a 'security consultant.' In the second place, that was years ago. And in the third place... shut up."
Bertie's smile broadened. "Have you ever considered having your umbilicus pierced?"
"My what?" Kitty demanded.
"Your bellybutton," Bertie giggled, tapping the screen over the image of Athena's navel. "I think it would be very becoming, don't you agree? It certainly looks nice on Ms. Zevros."
"Maybe you'd like your bellybutton pierced," Kitty growled. "I think I've got a dull knitting needle around here someplace." She expected Bertie to giggle and make some sort of snappy comeback, but instead, her blond partner's smile had faded and she was staring at the screen. "What?" Kitty demanded.
Bertie shifted her finger to point at Athena's relaxed, smiling profile. "I've seen her. She attends the same yoga class as Jessie and myself."
"Obviously," Kitty growled, "she's in this up to her eyeballs, including her... umbilical."
"Umbilicus," Bertie corrected.
"Anyway," Kitty continued, "I think I need to have a polite discussion with Athena Zevros, before chatting with Miriam Holden."
"We need to have a polite discussion," Bertie corrected her partner, then started tapping the keys, cataloging and archiving the results of her search efforts. She also deleted Kitty's bikini photo from the screen. The original image file was safe on her hard drive and in the cloud. Actually, multiple copies of the image and its similar companions were in multiple folders on multiple computers (as well as several well-hidden thumb-drives), in case Kitty ever decided to try actually deleting Bertie's copies of her modeling photos.
"You get some sleep," Kitty ordered. "The sun's coming up and you've been at this all night."
"I'm okay," Bertie objected. "We have to find Jessie."
"And we will," Kitty responded, "but I have to hit the street and do a little preliminary legwork before we confront Zevros." She grabbed Bertie's arms and lifted her from her chair. The blonde didn't resist, nor did she resist as Kitty led her towards the bedroom.
"I could use a brief nap," Bertie sighed, and the sigh turned into a yawn.
Kitty watched as Bertie climbed onto the bed and curled up on her side.
"Just for a few minutes," Bertie murmured. "I'll rest my eyes, and then we can both hit the street."
Kitty smiled as Bertie closed her eyes and her features relaxed. "You do that," Kitty said quietly, then picked up her boots and socks and tiptoed to the bedroom door. She paused in the threshold to gaze at Bertie's recumbent form. Kitty considered going back, peeling the little Brit out of her jeans and tank-top, and tucking her under the covers, but she could tell her partner was already out like the proverbial light.
Kitty eased the door closed and padded to the office. She donned her socks and boots, tucked her backup piece into her right boot-top, then checked her main weapon, slid it into its holster, and clipped the holster to her belt at the small of her back. She then donned her favorite leather jacket, making sure her spare magazine and lock-pick set were in the appropriate pockets, and made her exit.
|The Damsel Vanishes|| Chapter 4
Angelique reached out and began rhythmically, repeatedly squeezing Jessie's left breast. "We'll start by getting you off this nasty table. I'm sure you'd like that." She continued squeezing, releasing, and squeezing Jessie's breast. "But first, I have to fit you with some very pretty gloves." She stopped squeezing the fleshy globe and began lightly tracing the circumference of Jessie's left aureola with the nail of her index finger. "You may think you can resist, but my mini shock-wand can be very persuasive. And each time you do resist, I'll give you a shock... and I have a fun idea, let's use the classic Fibonacci sequence! One shock, two shocks, three shocks, five, eight, thirteen, etc. As a mathematician, I sure you understand. Do I need to demonstrate?"
Jessie's eyes popped wide and she frantically shook her head and mewled through her tape-sealed lips and the rubber ball lodged in her mouth. "Nrrr! Nrrr!" The recurrence relationship Fn=Fn-1+Fn-2? she thought in horror. Nooo!
Angelique reached into her pocket and produced the mini wand in question. "Remember, my little friend will be right here." She returned the wand to her pocket, then reached under the table and produced what appeared to be a leather mitten. It was the same tan color as the rest of Jessie's medical-style restraints and incorporated a wide wrist-cuff, a hand and finger-sheath, a pair of sturdy straps running up either side of the sheath, and a steel ring dangling from the fingertip region.
Angelique released the cuff pinning Jessie's left wrist to the table, then slid the mitten over her compliant (but reluctant) hand. Even if Jessie had wanted to be uncooperative, she was still tightly and inescapably strapped to the table by her other restraints and all resistance would get her was the dreaded Fibonacci zap. The mitten was tight-fitting, and became even more so when Angelique closed and buckled the wrist-cuff. The ring at the tip of the left cuff was attached to the table, then Jessie's right hand was encased in a second mitten. Next, Angelique reached into her pocket, produced some sort of remote control, and pressed a button.
Jessie heard a whirring noise overhead, looked up, and watched as a hefty steel chain terminating in a swing-gate clip lowered from somewhere beyond the glaring lights. It continued lowering until the the end of the clip almost touched her navel, then stopped. Meanwhile, Angelique had pulled a round steel rod from under the table. It was about three centimeters in diameter and a half-meter in length. She snapped the fingertip ring of Jessie's left mitten through a spring-clip mounted to one end of the rod, walked around the table, and snapped the ring of the right mitten through the clip at the opposite end. Next, she snapped the swing-gate of the dangling vertical chain through a pad-eye in the rod's center.
The clips rattled and the chain swayed as Jessie tugged on the mittens. It was a nervous reaction to her continuing but changing captivity, rather than an escape attempt. She was still intimidated by the threat of the mini shock-wand. She watched as Angelique used a double-ended clip to join rings sewn into the sides of her ankle-cuffs, then released the strap pinning the cuffs to the table. Next, Jessie's smiling, blue-eyed handler worked her way up the table, releasing the remaining straps one at a time. The collar was released last of all, and now Jessie was no longer strapped in place.
Standing at the head of the table and smiling down at Jessie's tape-gagged, anxious face, Angelique thumbed a button on the remote. The motor-hum returned and the vertical chain began to rise, taking the rod and Jessie's mitten-encased hands with it. The bar rose higher and higher until Jessie was lifted to a sitting position... and the rod continued rising. Angelique pulled back the table—which apparently (obviously) was on wheels—and Jessie found herself suspended and swaying at the end of the chain, her pointing toes inches from the concrete floor. The motor locked with a click and the spotlights winked out, all except for a single bright light directly over Jessie's head and apparently mounted to the underside of the motor.
Jessie looked back over her shoulder and watched as Angelique pressed another button on the remote. The motor hummed, the chain twanged, and Jessie lurched forward. She surmised she was traveling along a motorized track... like a slab of beef in a slaughterhouse! Needless to say, neither the abattoir characterization nor the actual handling method were particularly reassuring.
With Angelique strolling casually behind, Jessie and her pool of light rolled along the track, took a right turn as they exited the chamber, and continued rolling down a dark corridor.
|The Damsel Vanishes|| Chapter 4
Athena attended her regular afternoon yoga class. It wouldn't do to suddenly change her daily and weekly routine, even though there was nothing linking her to any recent "unfortunate events." She noted the absence of both Bertie Finch and Dr. Jessie Maitland. She assumed Bertie was still recuperating from the delicious ordeal of writhing around in Jessie's bath tub, naked, bound with thin cord and duct-tape, and well-gagged. And as for Jessie—Athena couldn't help but smile—Jessie was probably too busy enjoying having her fanny spanked by Miriam Holden to take time out for yoga.
Class over, Athena patted her forehead with her towel, rolled her mat, donned her jacket, bade her guru/instructor and fellow yogis a friendly farewell, then walked the three blocks to her regular gym. The ambiance of the gym in question was quite different from the yoga studio. Decor-wise, it had none. The place was principally a boxing and mixed martial arts establishment and had little regard for ambiance. That said, it was reasonably clean, free of musclebound "lunks," and there was a wide range of male and female sparring partners willing to give Athena a workout in any of several different disciplines. When she'd first started attending the gym there was the usual period of cool assessment, but Athena was quickly accepted by the regulars. And now, she was a regular.
Athena made her way to the female locker room, waving at those she passed and politely declining a few offers to have a go. She stripped to the skin, placing her stuff in her usual locker, rinsed off in the shower, then padded to the steam room with one of the gym's towels wrapped around her torso. An after-yoga and before dinner steam would help her unwind. She opened the door and entered the tile-lined space, reveling in the 100% humidity and stifling heat. She had the well-lit chamber to herself. Athena removed her towel and spread it on one of the tile benches, reached for the sky in a slow, back-arching, vertebra-snapping, and boob-flattening full-body stretch, then sat. By this time the fog raised by her entry had dissipated.
It only took a couple of minutes for Athena to start sweating. That was the purpose of the steam room, after all, to make her sweat. Athena closed her eyes, willed herself to relax completely, and smiled. Earlier in the day she'd confirmed that her arranged alibis for the hours preceding and following Jessie Maitland's abduction were rock solid. She'd also confirmed that her bank account had taken the nice bump Miriam Holden had promised. The back half of her fee (plus bonus) had been transferred. Miriam had kept her word and Athena was free and clear of the whole mess. She was glad.
There was a minuscule fly in the proverbial ointment that was Athena's contentment—a gnat, really—and that gnat was... her conscience.
Yes, Athena Zevros had a conscience. She felt sorry for Jessie Maitland, not sorry enough to have passed on the commission, of course, but still... Poor Jessie. Athena's smile widened. Poor naked, tied up, helpless Jessie. Even though she'd been released from Miriam's employ, Athena resolved to check back on the situation (somehow) and make sure Jessie-the-hot-nerd emerged from her ordeal unscathed... if that was the right word. Should Athena do the checking herself? Security consultants who gained a reputation for turning on their old clients usually found themselves without any new clients, even if the old client in question was a crazy-ass-psycho-bitch like Miriam Holden. So... what to do? Athena would have to give it some thought.
Just then, the door opened and a female figure entered. The slug of relatively cold air created another modest cloud of fog, but Athena could see that the towel-wrapped newcomer was a brunette, like herself. She also had a firm, shapely, athletic figure, also like herself, in Athena's humble opinion. And oh-by-the-way... the newcomer was none other than Kitty Wynter!
Athena watched Kitty remove her towel and spread it on the opposite bench. Then, Kitty executed a full-body stretch, just as Athena had done. Kitty ignored her steam room companion as she sat on the towel and leaned back. No words of greeting, no polite acknowledgment, nothing. Like Kitty, Athena's eyes were closed. Not! Appearances aside, she very much suspected Kitty was watching her through barely opened eyelids—through the filter of her eyelashes—just as she was watching Kitty.
Athena's heart rate was elevated, but to all outward appearances, she remained completely relaxed. Not that a competent martial arts practitioner would be fooled. Not that Kitty Wynter was fooled.
Time passed... sufficient time for Kitty's firm, smooth skin to begin glistening with sweat... again, like Athena.
More time passed. Kitty continued playing it cool... so to speak. Her flushed, dripping body certainly didn't look cool.
Finally, Athena decided enough was enough. "Kitty Wynter," she said.
"Athena Zevros," Kitty responded.
Another minute of hot, humid silence passed.
"How's business?" Kitty purred.
"Can't complain," Athena answered. "Yourself?"
"Can't complain," Kitty responded. "Let's cut to the chase, shall we? Where is she?"
Athena's smile widened. "I have no idea who—"
"Yes, yes, I know," Kitty interrupted. "And you have a dozen close personal friends willing to testify that they were with you for hours, before and after the time you-know-who was abducted. Oddly, that's at three different locations. You get around. Either that or you have two identical twins, and possibly a third twin who's into kidnapping. Where is she?"
"I appreciate the professional courtesy, by the way," Kitty interrupted, again.
Athena raised an eyebrow in question.
Kitty smiled. "The text message that told me the game was afoot, 'Jessie Maitland,' and sent me to rescue my partner."
"'The game was afoot,'" Athena quoted with a chuckle, "How very Sherlockian of you, but I still don't know what you're talking about."
"Of course," Kitty huffed. "Look, that Holden bitch is crazy. Tell me where to find Jessie. The police aren't involved. Let's keep it that way."
"Obviously, you're not wearing a wire," Athena chuckled, then paused in thought. If she was going to make sure Jessie Maitland didn't come to any harm, this was the perfect opportunity. "Security consultants who rat out their clients wind up waiting tables or flipping burgers," she noted.
"The same for private investigators," Kitty muttered. She hid her reaction, but Kitty was surprised. Was this a nibble? Was Athena Zevros about to tell her something? "On a related topic," Kitty purred. "I'm looking for an address."
Athena's smile broadened, just a little. "An address where you might wish to deliver a package? For a client?"
"Exactly," Kitty said quietly.
"I might know such an address," Athena purred. "At the moment, I'm without pen and paper. Perhaps another anonymous text will mysteriously appear on your phone... in about half an hour."
Kitty nodded, then stood, grabbed her towel, and turned to gaze at Athena with her hand on the door handle. "We aren't done."
"This town isn't big enough for the two of us?" Athena chuckled. "I like New York."
"We aren't done." Kitty repeated, then made her exit.
It's Bertie, Athena realized. It was my bad luck that Kitty Wynter's delectable little partner blundered into the operation. Athena sighed. Oh well. I guess I should free up my dance card, get my ducks in a row, etc., etc.
|The End of...|
|The Damsel Vanishes|| Chapter 4