|by Van © 2015
Books was well named. It really was a place for lovers of
books: aisle after aisle of books, groupings of overstuffed
chairs for reading, adequate but not overpowering lighting, and
lots of wood paneling. It wasn't a huge establishment, but
it was big enough. And while it didn't try to stock every
book in print (or recently in print), the odds were you'd find
something you'd like if you wandered in off the street.
And if you couldn't find something on your own, the staff was
more than willing to help, and they knew their stuff.
Everything was organized in the usual way: Literature,
Biographies, reference categories, plus Science Fiction/Fantasy,
Romance, Mystery—there was even a Comics section—not "Graphic
Novels," no, the sign read "COMICS."
The Comics section was the proud and unquestioned domain of
Agatha Schmeling. She was petite, only 5' 2" in stature,
but Agatha was a dynamo, and there wasn't a comic published (not
a lot, anyway) she hadn't either read or knew about, and the
same went for graphic novels and manga. And the section
was hers, to do with as she pleased. That wasn't quite
true, of course. Finley was the owner and Edwina was her
assistant manager, but they let Agatha order the new titles and
decide what to cull, more or less.
At the moment, Agatha was standing at the border of the Comics
and SciFi/Fantasy sections, gazing down the aisle at her two
bosses, Finley and Edwina. Both were standing in front of
the Romance section and seemed to be discussing the layout of
the shelves. They were dressed for business in skirts and
blouses, and Agatha knew that hanging on the coat rack in the
staff room both had jackets that matched their ensembles.
Finley insisted they all dress for business, but she found jeans
and a nice blouse, like Agatha was wearing at the moment, to be
Finley was in her thirties with red hair, green eyes, and the
expected freckles, especially during the summer months.
She was attractive, in Agatha's objective opinion, but not
classically beautiful. She was what Agatha liked to call
"quirky-cute," a label she applied to herself, by the way.
Agatha knew she wasn't beautiful, but she wasn't ugly.
Anyway, neither of them had been cheerleader material in high
school. That said, Finley was, also in Agatha's opinion,
one of the nicest and smartest people she'd ever met.
Finley knew books, she knew business, and she'd given Agatha a
chance, for which she'd be forever grateful.
Edwina, on the other hand, was unquestionably beautiful.
She was a couple of years older than Agatha's twenty-four and
three inches taller, with long, straight blond hair, a fair
complexion, gorgeous blue eyes, and symmetrical
features. Yes, she was beautiful. The problem was,
she didn't seem to know it. She dressed well and always
looked good, but Edwina habitually wore her hair back in a
conventional ponytail, and she somehow seemed plain... and
beautiful. It was a contradiction. She was also a
supremely nice person, like Finley, as well as being a good
"It's Thursday," a quiet, soprano voice announced in a teasing
Agatha turned to find her fellow brunette and BFF Alice "Chibi"
Chiba smiling at her from behind her glasses. Actually, it
was through Agatha's glasses and from behind
Chibi's glasses. Everybody at Bibliophile Books wore
glasses, Finley and Edwina included. Alice's nickname,
"Chibi," was Japanese for shortie, pipsqueak, or munchkin, and
it fit her perfectly. She was a clerk, like Agatha, but
also ran the store's website.
"Don't sneak up behind people," Agatha scolded, "and of course
Chibi had an inch of height on Agatha and they were the same
age. In fact, their birthdays were less than a week
apart. Agatha was what she liked to call a "mixed breed
European," while Chibi was nearly pure Japanese. That is,
her ancestors were Japanese (with a dash of Korean) on both
sides of the family for many generations, but the last three of
those generations had been born in the United States. She
spoke Japanese, after a fashion, and read Kanji well enough to
help Agatha with her manga appreciation efforts, but on the
summer vacation she took during her junior year in college to
visit distant relatives on Hokkaido, Chibi discovered that she
was hopelessly American. Japan was very much a
foreign country. She also learned that she was a dyed in
the wool "otaku" (Japanese for nerd). Her younger cousins
had made that abundantly clear. But then, everybody who
worked at Bibliophile Books was a hopeless nerd, so it didn't
Oh-by-the-way, Chibi was gorgeous, and unlike Edwina,
she knew it. She didn't do anything about it, meaning she
didn't flaunt her beauty (although she had been known to flirt
with the occasional customer to close a sale) but Chibi knew she
was a looker. Today, like Agatha, Chibi was wearing jeans
and a blouse—also a lanyard with her employee/cash register
key-card, something else all Bibliophile Books employees had in
"Well," Chibi said quietly, "are you gonna do it?"
"Shut up," Agatha pouted. Her gaze was on Finley and
Edwina, across the store.
"Chicken," Chibi accused her BFF. She had this really
irritating giggling laugh and she was using it now.
Thursday was not only the fifth day of the week, it was the day
Finley left early, always, with a book wrapped in paper under
her arm. Quite obviously, she was going somewhere.
Well, of course she was going somewhere, but Agatha had
gotten it into her head that it was a regular, personal delivery
of some sort, and it was very mysterious. She'd
tried dropping hints, to get Finley to let her in on the secret,
but without success. And one Thursday, she flat out asked
Edwina where Finley was going—and was told to keep her nose out
of other people's business. Edwina didn't exactly bite her
face off, but Agatha took the hint.
But Agatha was still curious... and Chibi kept egging her on.
"It's your half day off," Chibi whispered. "And this time
it's on a Thursday! It's the perfect chance."
"Shut up," Agatha reiterated. Agatha's half day off was
usually every other Wednesday, but she'd swapped with
Chiba last week, so her BFF could make a dental appointment, so
this week, Agatha was off Thursday afternoon... at the exact
time Finley always left on her mysterious appointment to...
"God wants you to follow Finley," Chibi purred. "Can't you
hear her? Follow the Finley! Follow the Finley!"
Agatha had this unique half-smile/half-pout she did when she was
trying not to laugh. She was doing it now. "Okay,
okay, stop it," Agatha muttered. "But if I get caught,
it'll be your fault."
"So be careful and don't get caught," Chibi shrugged.
"Follow Finley and see where she goes. Then we'll know."
Agatha also had a unique, twisted, very quirky
grin. "Then I'll know. I don't know why I
should tell you."
Chibi smiled. "You'll tell me. You're terrible at
Across the store, the Finley/Edwina conference was breaking up.
"Quick, act casual," Agatha whispered.
"I know, let's pretend we're store clerks," Chibi suggested with
mock gravity, then giggled and walked away.
Agatha rolled her eyes and followed her BFF's advice. She
watched Finley stroll towards the front of the store. Today's
the day, she thought. Today I finally find out
what Finley does with her Thursday afternoons. In
those terms it didn't sound like much of a mystery, but it would
be fun skulking around like a Girl Detective. And as long
as she didn't get caught, what could possibly go wrong?
to time things perfectly. She made her departure from
Bibliophile Books almost precisely at noon, two minutes ahead of
Finley, then ducked into the Starbucks across the street and
waited for Finley to appear. Her red-haired boss emerged
from Bibliophile Book's front door, another of the mysterious,
book-shaped packages wrapped in brown paper and tied with string
tucked under her arm. She'd added a light raincoat to her
business suit ensemble. Agatha was also wearing a
raincoat. In fact, she was wearing an actual trench coat,
the perfect outerwear for a skulking Girl Detective.
Pedestrian traffic was about medium on the scale from deserted
to crush. The lunch crowd was out and about, but Finley's
ginger hair made it easy for Agatha to keep her in sight without
following too closely. Her boss walked two blocks, turned
right, and continued, entering one of the swankier residential
neighborhoods bordering downtown. In less than a block,
shops and office buildings had given way to townhouses.
Foot traffic had dropped off to next to nothing, but the street
was lined with trees on both sides and Agatha had little
difficulty keeping Finley in sight without being obvious.
This is great, Agatha thought, just like a spy novel
set in post-war Vienna, only with all the intrigue and none of
the danger. No counterspy was going to sneak up
behind Agent Agatha and stick a knife in her back. No
black van was going to screech to a halt, disgorge several enemy
agents, and kidnap her... meaning Agatha. And it probably
wouldn't happen to Finley, either. Okay, there was zero
chance anything remotely sinister was going to happen to
anyone, but it was fun playing pretend.
Actually, there was an element of danger: Finley might
notice she was being followed, turn, and confront her
follower... meaning Agatha. If that happened, all Agatha
could do was confess and throw herself on the mercy of the
court. It would be, uh, embarrassing. Actually, it
would be beyond embarrassing, naked-in-church
embarrassing, worst nightmare embarrassing. Agatha
wouldn't let it happen. She kept Finley in sight, but made
sure she always had cover.
Anyway, as fun as Agatha's careful covert surveillance might be,
it all seemed to be a terrible waste. Finley appeared to
be completely oblivious, showing no sign whatsoever of being
concerned that she might have a tail. She turned down a
side street and Agatha hurried to close the gap and keep her
target in sight. She peeked around the corner, and watched
Finley approach a standalone house at the end of what amounted
to a cul-de-sac. The structure was only slightly larger
than the neighboring townhouses, but was an actual house, at
least on the three sides that Agatha could see. It was
Victorian in style, similar to the townhouses, but with a tiny
front garden and two small side yards.
Agatha took out her iPhone and took a couple of photos of Finley
climbing the mansion's front steps, ringing the bell, and
waiting. Yes, 'mansion' is right, Agatha
decided. It sounds better than 'house.' The
front door opened and Finley was admitted by a blond
woman. A tree in the front yard was partially blocking
Agatha's view, so she didn't get a really good look at the
blonde. She did note, however, that there was no
discussion or explanation. The door opened and Finley
entered the mansion. She was expected, Agatha
surmised. The plot thickens.
Agatha's mouth twisted in her trademark smirk. Actually,
it was one of her many trademark smirks. She had
several, for different occasions. This particular smirk
was reserved for moments of chagrin. There's not
really a 'plot,' she mused, but it's fun pretending
there is one. Seconds passed... and turned into a
minute. So, what to do?
Phone still in hand, Agatha approached the Mystery Mansion that
had just swallowed her boss. Cautiously, Agatha approached
the front gate. There was no sign of activity, no rustling
curtains in any of the windows, no stirring in the side yards,
no patrolling guards, no gangsters loading mysterious crates
into trucks, nothing. Agatha took a photo of the address
plate mounted on the front gate: "1366 High Castle Street," then
opened the gate and crept up the front walk to the porch.
Still no movement in the windows, or the side yard, none that
she could see, anyway, and nothing behind the glass of the
closed front door. She climbed the porch steps and
carefully looked through one of the door's sidelights. It
was one of those heat-lock arrangements with an entryway
vestibule and two front doors, the interior door being mostly
glass. Still no motion within.
There was a mailbox mounted on the wall next to the door.
Agatha reached for the lid to see if anything was inside, and
paused. Her heart was pounding with excitement. This
is crazy! she thought. Fun is fun, but what
possible excuse do I have for being here? Getting
caught by Finley following her on the street was one thing, but
sneaking around somebody's house? Enough is enough,
Agatha decided. But... the least I can do is get a
name. It wasn't that difficult figuring out who
lived at a given address, not in the Internet Age, but a peek at
a full mailing address would jump-start her Google search for
even more information.
Agatha opened the box and found that she was in luck. The
mail had been delivered, but not yet collected. There was
an advertising flyer addressed to "Resident," but also a couple
of envelopes addressed to "Catherine Stirling." Agatha
took a quick photo of one of the envelopes, then returned the
mail to the box and the phone to her trench coat pocket.
"Stirling," she muttered to herself, "Catherine Stirling.
Where have I heard that name?" Well... enough was
enough. Time to call it a day, stop fooling around, and
cease being a Girl Detective—at least until she could get home,
e-mail Chibi with what she'd learned, and start Googling
"Catherine Stirling." She peeked through the glass, one
last time. Still no movement inside the Mystery
Mansion. She then turned to make her exit, and—"Eeek!"
Standing at the foot of the porch steps was the blonde who had
admitted Finley to the house! She was tall and gorgeous—a
regular Viking Shieldmaiden—and... Agatha knew her.
"Hello, Agatha," the blonde said, her lips curled in a rather sinister smile—or
was the sinister part a product of Agatha's crushing
"Uh, hi," Agatha managed as the blonde climbed the porch
steps. The reply had emerged as something of a
high-pitched squeal, Agatha's heart was hammering, again, and
her cheeks were burning. "S-sorry," she stammered as the
blonde mounted the steps. "I know I've seen you in the
The blonde was standing right in front of Agatha, and she was
tall, going on six feet! She towered over Agatha, who
abruptly realized she'd backed against the door frame.
"Karli Hagen," the blonde introduced herself.
"K-Karli," Agatha sputtered. "Now I remember. You
like Dynamite stuff, especially the John Carter and Dejah Thoris
Karli nodded. "May I ask why you're going through our
"I, uh..." What could Agatha say?
"You followed Finley, didn't you?" Karli purred.
"No, no, no," Agatha responded, shaking her head. Karli
took a step closer. "Uh, yes," Agatha admitted in a near
"Well then," Karli said, opening the door but remaining more or
less in Agatha's upturned face, "I guess you'd better come in."
"T-that's okay," Agatha sputtered. "I-I-I d-don't have
to—Mrrrf!" Karli had a hand tightly clamped over Agatha's
"I insist," Karli said, maintaining the hand-gag as she pushed
her diminutive guest/prisoner across the threshold. She
took a look back at the street, the squirming, mewling Agatha
firmly under her control the entire time, then let the door
close behind them.
All was quiet on the street. Not a soul was in sight.
hand continued firmly covering Agatha's mouth and her left arm
trapped the diminutive intruder's arms behind her back.
Two things were going through Agatha's mind as she was dragged,
kicking and screaming (kicking and mewling, actually) down the
mansion's first floor hallway: (1) OMG! OMG! OMG! and
(2) Nice place. The nice part referred to the
interior of the mansion, the scene of Agatha's abduction.
The decor was nice. The theme was Victorian, like
the architecture, but it was in no way stuffy, not a place where
old lace doilies went to die. It was... nice.
Their destination was a door at the end of the hall. Karli
managed to get it open without her prisoner squirming free,
Agatha could see what was waiting within, and—
Agatha froze in Karli's grip, her eyes probably about as wide as
was possible without popping a few blood vessels. Her
thoughts were: Oh! My! God!
The room beyond was a typical Victorian parlor, only with
lighter, warmer colors and less clutter than historical
examples. There was a nice view of a back garden through a
bank of windows and a set of French doors, and sitting in a
matching pair of throne-like chairs, on either side of a small
table with an elegant tea service, were Finley and a very
attractive older woman with short brown hair, very
pretty blue eyes, and a gorgeous face. Like
Finley, the brunette was dressed in a skirt and blouse.
Agatha surmised Finley's raincoat and jacket were hanging
someplace. She realized she'd probably passed them in the
entryway. She'd been too busy being kidnapped to notice.
Oh-by-the-way... Finley was sitting in the chair with her arms
on the armrests, she was staring back at Agatha from behind her
glasses with wide green eyes, and—she was tied up! She was
tied to the chair! Tight, neat bands of rope bound
her wrists to the armrests, her upper arms to the chair-back,
her ankles to separate chair-legs, crossed her lap, and passed
above and below her breasts, all binding her in place!
Also, a strip of white tape covered her mouth and most of her
"Look who I found lurking on the front porch," Karli announced,
maintaining her tight hold on her captive.
"Oh my," Finley's fifty-something, gorgeous hostess and presumed
captor chuckled, a dimpled smile curling her lips.
Agatha and Finley's vocal contributions to the conversation were
Agatha recognized the woman in the chair—meaning the other
woman in the other chair—the one not her boss and not
bound and gagged. 'Catherine Stirling!' Now
Agatha remembered. Catherine was a regular at Bibliophile
Books. She had little interest in the Comics section, but
she was a regular, and Finley usually waited on her
Still smiling, Catherine turned to Finley. "You took it
upon yourself to expand our little book club without asking me?"
Finley tore her eyes from Agatha, focused on her hostess, and
shook her head. Her gaze than returned to her helpless—equally
helpless—employee, and her eyes narrowed.
Agatha looked around for a convenient rock to crawl under.
No such luck. Also, Karli wasn't going to let her crawl
"So," Catherine continued, "your little Comics curator invited
herself to my home all on her own?"
Agatha noted the paper-wrapped package Finley had been carrying
was on the same table as the tea service. As yet it was
Finley was still staring daggers, Catherine was still smiling,
and Agatha was still trying to shrivel up and disappear.
Karli released her hand-gag. "Agatha? Do you have
anything to say for yourself?"
"Agatha!" Catherine said. "That's it. I couldn't
remember. Agatha... how adorable."
Agatha swallowed, nervously. "Uh... I was... curious?"
"Curious and adorable," Catherine chuckled.
"Finley didn't invite you?"
"No," Agatha admitted. Her cheeks felt like they were
about to burst into flame. "I-I j-just wanted to see where
she went on Thursdays."
"Nosy little thing," Karli chuckled.
"Indeed," Catherine agreed. "A veritable Nancy Drew."
Agatha focused on Finley. A book club... with bondage?
"I'm sorry, Fin," she sighed. "I really didn't mean to
intrude. I was just... curious."
"So you said," Catherine purred, then also focused on
Finley. "Well, what should we do with our little snoop?"
Finley heaved a sigh, then glared at her hostess.
"I know, I know," Catherine chuckled, "why ask you,
seeing as how your lips are sealed."
"Please don't fire me, Fin," Agatha begged in a whisper.
Finley rolled her eyes in response.
"She's not going to fire you," Catherine laughed, then smiled at
Finley. "Are you?"
Finley's response was to counter Catherine's dimpled smile with
another angry, tape-gagged stare.
"I'll take that as a no," Catherine purred, then shifted her
smile to Agatha. "In any case, the question is, what
should we do with our little snoop right now?"
"I could give her a spanking and send her on her way," Karli
Agatha lifted her chin and stared at Karli... then at
"No," Catherine answered, "let's deal with our little snoop in
Nancy Drew fashion. Lock her in one of the guest
Karli nodded and started backing out of the parlor, taking
Agatha with her, of course.
"Wait, wait, wait!" Agatha wailed, and Karli paused.
"Yes?" Catherine purred.
"That's it?" Agatha demanded. "Lock me in a bedroom?
That never works."
Catherine smiled at Finley, who rolled her eyes, again.
"You have a suggestion?" she asked Agatha.
"All I'm saying is, just locking up Nancy Drew never works,"
Agatha reiterated. Squirming in Karli's grip, she blinked
behind her glasses, several times. "She always escapes."
Catherine smiled at Karli and Karli smiled back. "The nosy
pipsqueak has a point," the blonde chuckled. "I know what
"W-what?" Agatha demanded. "What are you
gonna—Mrrrrfh!" Karli's hand was clamped over her mouth,
again, and her blond captor was dragging her from the
parlor. The last thing she saw as the door closed was
Catherine smiling at Finley.
"This is all your fault, Finley," Catherine chuckled.
Finley rolled her eyes, again—then the door closed.
stupid, stupid! Agatha fumed silently. I could
have gotten out of here with just a spanking—which probably
wouldn't have happened, anyway—but nooooo! I just had
to open my big mouth!
Karli dragged her upstairs to the second floor, down a hallway,
and into a small bedroom. She'd kicked, squirmed, and
mewled through Karli's hand-gag the whole way, of course.
It was expected. Anyway, she had the impression the
bedroom was a spare, and a largely unused spare at that.
The bed was full-size with four solid-looking posts, and there
was a bedside table with reading lamp, a chest of drawers, a
closed door she presumed led to a closet, curtains on the
windows, etc., but none of the furniture matched and there were
no knick-knacks. There weren't even doilies. The
place looked... unused.
Once inside the bedroom, Karli released her hand-gag.
"Allow me to take your wrap," she chuckled, then began groping
with Agatha's trench coat.
"Keep your hands off me!" Agatha continued squirming,
wiggling, and fighting. "I can do it myself."
Karli released her grip on Agatha's coat, but remained close.
Agatha removed her trench coat, Karli took it from her and
tossed it to the side, then grabbed Agatha's arms and forced her
towards the bed. Agatha resumed struggling and
complaining. "Let me go! Oof!" Karli had
pushed her face down onto the bed and pulled her hands behind
her back. "W-what are you going?" Agatha demanded.
Actually, it was abundantly clear exactly what Karli was
doing: she was tying Agatha's crossed wrists together, behind
"No!" Agatha whined, "Karli!"
"Hush," Karli chuckled, grabbed Agatha's ankles and lifted her
diminutive captive's lower body onto the mattress, then began
tying her ankles together.
Her mouth curled in a pitiful pout, Agatha watched as Karli
finished tying the final knot. Her blond nemesis had used
some sort of braided, white nylon cord, and Agatha assumed her
wrist bonds were similar. They felt similar, anyway.
"You'll never get away with this," she huffed.
"Catherine and your boss will never get away with having a book
club?" Karli purred, "or are you channeling Nancy Drew and you
mean we'll never get away with nefariousness in general?"
Agatha didn't answer, but watched as Karli reached into her hip
pocket, produced a folded bandana, and shook it out. Karli
then refolded the blue and white, cotton square, first point to
point, then into a narrow bandage. "Uh..." Agatha
swallowed nervously as Karli tied an overhand knot in the
bandana. "No! Mrrrpfh!" The knot was in
Agatha's mouth and Karli was cinching and knotting the ends of
the bandana at the nape of her neck! "Nrrrrpf!" At
some point Agatha's glasses had been knocked askew, and she
blinked as Karli settled them back in place. Ever the
thoughtful kidnapper, Agatha fumed.
"Now," Karli said, "why don't you relax while Catherine and
Finley decide your fate? It shouldn't take more than, oh,
I don't know... a few hours?"
"Mrrrf." Agatha tugged on her wrists as Karli made her
exit. She heard a key turn in the bedroom door lock... and
that was it.
Wow! I'm bound hand and foot, and gagged!
Agatha wasn't scared. She knew she probably should have
been at least a little scared, but she wasn't. Go
figure. Was Finley mad at her? Maybe.
Okay, yes, but not mad enough to fire her. Was Catherine
Stirling—and wow was she gorgeous for a fifty-something
old lady—going to harm her? No. Karli wasn't going
to do anything nasty to her, either. Agatha was sure.
The prisoner-of-the-bed squirmed and struggled, her fluttering
fingers groping for something to untie, but Karli knew her
knots. Agatha had her sneakers and socks, jeans and
panties, bra and blouse, and that was it. She had no Swiss
Army Knife™ in her jeans pocket, no nothing in any of
her jeans pockets, other than her keys and wallet, and none of
that would be any help. She couldn't see herself sawing
through her bonds with her house key. Agatha did have her
glasses, but there was nothing she could do with them other than
stare at her surroundings in sharp focus. Her iPhone was
in her trench coat pocket, and Karli had taken the coat with
her. That meant Agatha couldn't call her sidekick—the
George Fayne to her Nancy Drew—Chibi. Anyway, Chibi
probably thinks I'm her sidekick, Agatha sighed.
So... bound and gagged... and captured by the 'bad
guys.' Cool! The gag wasn't too bad, not
yet. And her bonds weren't punishingly tight, not
yet. And she wasn't scared, not really. And 'best'
of all, she'd discovered Finley's secret... sort of.
So... escape or take a nap? Agatha pondered. WWNDD?
[What Would Nancy Drew Do?] Would a plucky Girl Detective
feel sorry for herself and wallow in her helplessness? Hell
no! Agatha continued her detailed, tactile exploration of
her bonds. Nancy always escapes, and I will too!
poured herself a cup of tea, added a dash of honey and a squeeze
of lemon, gave it a stir, then smiled at her guest/prisoner as
she took a delicate sip. "So," she said, finally, the
informal tea ritual complete, "what should we do with your
Finley stared at her hostess/captor, ignoring the question and
the helplessness of her bondage, doing her best Queen Victoria
"We are not amused" imitation. Her tape-gag rendered
Catherine's question rhetorical, regardless.
Catherine placed her cup and saucer on the side table, stood,
walked the short distance to Finley and her chair, and proceeded
to sit in Finley's lap. The armrests required Catherine to
ease her legs through the openings to either side and caused her
skirt to ride up about as much as was possible, revealing her
panties and the fact that she was wearing old-fashioned
stockings and a garter belt, but she managed the leg-splaying
and rump-settling exercise with surprising grace, placing her
hands on Finley's shoulders for support. With Finley's
ankles lashed to separate chair legs and her legs also splayed,
Catherine's weight was more or less evenly distributed between
Finley's thighs and the edge of the seat. Hostess and
guest (captor and captive) were now face-to-face and
"We could sell her to the Gypsies," Catherine suggested, "or to
the white slavers in Chinatown." She then slowly peeled
the tape from Finley's lips. The adhesive released its
grip reluctantly, stretching the redhead's face and lips before
Finley licked her lips and stared daggers at Catherine.
"Don't be racist," she scolded.
"I'm being classic, not racist," Catherine chuckled.
"Gypsies, Travelers, and the 'Yellow Peril' are classic villains
of the Mystery melodrama genre, also useful as red herrings."
"Cliché villains, anyway," Finley huffed. "We're
not going to do anything to the little snoop," she
stated. "I'll make her life miserable at work for a few
days, of course, but that's it. She might blab to Chibi,
but she doesn't really know anything, does she?" Finley
squirmed in her seat and tugged on her wrist bonds.
"You're putting on weight," she accused.
"I am not," Catherine retorted, her smile never wavering.
She leaned forward and planted a kiss on Finley's pouting lips.
"Anyway," Finley continued when Catherine leaned back, "we
should simply send Agatha on her way, or is that what Karli's
doing right now?"
"I don't know," Catherine admitted.
Finley nodded towards the paper-wrapped book on the side
table. "Aren't you going to open your present?"
Catherine's smile broadened, and turned slightly sinister.
She then reached for the top button of Finley's blouse and
slowly, one-by-one, proceeded to unbutton the entire row.
The ropes binding Finley to the chair complicated matters, but
Finley watched the process with disapproval (and a charming
half-smirk). She continued watching (and smirking) as
Catherine tugged the now open blouse to either side and half-off
her shoulders, exposing her rather plain white bra and what
Finley considered to be entirely too much of her pale,
peachy-pink skin. She blushed, but didn't complain.
She had no grounds. This was hardly the first meeting of
the "book club," and it was Finley's turn to be on the bottom.
Just then, Karli breezed back into the parlor. "She's cute
as a bug!" the smiling blonde gushed. "Can I keep
her?" She was referring to Agatha, of course.
"No, you may not keep her," Catherine chuckled. "You know
my position on house pets. One cat is enough."
There was a cat in residence, a magnificent
tortoiseshell feline of middle age who allowed Catherine and
Karli to be her devoted servants. At the moment, "Maisie"
was making herself scarce. She did that a lot.
"What did you do to her?" Finley demanded, glaring at Karli.
Karli shrugged. "Nothing." Catherine smiled and
Finley continued to stare. "Okay, she's bound and gagged
in the spare bedroom. Nothing elaborate."
Finley's stare was scathing (and she was not suppressing
"We'll let her cool her heels and contemplate her sins, then
invite her to dinner and send her on her way," Cathrine decreed.
"Oh, nooo," Karli pouted in mock dismay. "I was gonna go
to PetSmart and pick her out a nice collar."
"We have enough to feed four, don't we?" Cathrine asked.
"With leftovers," Karli confirmed. She stepped forward and
planted a kiss on Catherine's lips, did the same for Finley,
then headed for the door. "I better start cooking," she
said as she made her exit.
Catherine and Finley watched the blonde leave, then faced one
"She is adorable," Catherine said, "and I have plenty of
room. I could put bars on the spare bedroom window,
reinforce both the door and the door lock, install a few
chains... She'd be right at home."
"You are not keeping Agatha," Finley stated. "I'd
have to hire a new comics guru."
"There is that," Catherine agreed, then reached for Finley's
bra. "A front clasp," she purred. "How very
considerate of you."
Finley opened her mouth to issue a biting and frightfully clever
comeback—"Mrrrk!"—but the mouth in question had just been
invaded by Catherine's tongue! At the same time,
Catherine's fingers were fumbling with the clasp of Finley's
bra. Bound to the chair, there was nothing Finley could do
to stop either the kiss or what Catherine's hands were now doing
to her breasts and nipples.
It was... horrible? Yes, any self-respecting
damsel-in-distress would agree. Finley decided to go with