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her notebook from her jacket pocket and checked
her notes from the last interview. There was nothing much for her
review, but it was
watching the scenery
pass on the Capital Beltway. The "Hello Pussy Boutique" in Oak
View had been a waste of time. The shop was a kinky leather
with only a small section devoted to bondage products, and the staff
and owner had been less than enthusiastic about a couple of law
enforcement types rifling their sales records "for no good
reason". Not to worry. As Scully had said, they could
always come back if they ever had
probable cause for a warrant.
Megan glanced at her partner. Gracie was concentrating on the
traffic, but her face was set in an annoyed frown. Megan
a smile. "My last partner could be a bit of a hothead," she
"You know the type... the proverbial bull in a china shop?"
Several seconds of cold silence ensued.
"Okay," Gracie muttered, finally. "I could have
been a little more tactful back
there, but that blonde with the stupid nose piercing practically
us 'pigs'. And she wasn't old enough to have protested the first
Gulf War, unless she did it as a kindergarten school project."
Despite her best efforts, Megan's lips curled upwards. "She was a
"Anyway... I can turn on the charm when I want to."
Megan's smile broadened. "Oh, so you just don't want to?"
Gracie favored her partner with a fierce glance before turning back
to the traffic—then they both laughed.
"Okay, okay, I'll be good," Gracie promised.
"She was an airhead," Megan
"Snotty," Gracie agreed. "This is it, I think," she said, then
turned the wheel and they pulled into a large parking lot.
The address for "BDL Incorporated" had led them
to an industrial park, a collection of disparate businesses in modern
office and warehouse buildings. BDL, itself, was in a
small brick, concrete, and glass structure
separated from the nearest buildings by a stand of pines. Gracie
pulled into an open slot near the front door.
"You can take the lead this time, if you want," Gracie announced as
approached the front door.
"Why not?" Megan asked, and held the heavy glass portal open for her
They entered and found themselves in a reception area,
before a tall counter. Beyond, they could see
a hall lined with doorways. No one was in sight.
Gracie picked up a brochure and started reading.
"BDL, Incorporated. Wholesale distributors of the finest in adult
"Oh, 'the finest'," Megan purred. "Looks like we came to the
Gracie pocketed the brochure, then reached out and tapped the bell on
voice called from the back. Seconds later, a woman
entered the reception area. Her dark-blond hair was pulled back
in a loose bun. She had brown
eyes and full, plump lips, and was dressed in a black, somewhat
masculine pants suit; but there was no mistaking her gender. "I'm
afraid I'm all alone, at the moment," she apologized. "We've yet
to hire a receptionist and my associates are out." She offered
her hand to Gracie. "Bobbi Casher. How may I help you?"
Gracie shook her hand. "Special Agent Hart."
Bobbi's eyes widened. "Special Agent?"
Gracie flipped open her ID/badge carrier. "FBI."
"I see," Bobbi purred, then smiled at Megan's ID and badge. "But
with the NYPD?"
Megan nodded. "Temporarily working with the FBI. You're the
"East Coast Manager, actually," Bobbi explained. "We're
headquartered in LA, and we're just opening this office. What
may I do for New York's Finest and the Bureau?"
"We'd like to
discuss your recent customers," Megan answered. "This is related
to an ongoing investigation, of course."
Bobbi chuckled. "Sorry," she said, composing herself. "As I
said, we've only just opened, and I've only had one customer.
Normally, I'd consult our corporate
legal department before agreeing to discuss anything, but..." Her
"Perhaps you'd better come with me."
She led Gracie and Megan around the counter and down the hall.
They passed a series of rooms, all of which were either bare of
the most basic office furniture or were cluttered with cardboard
They approached a steel door with a cypher-lock, and Bobbi entered a
code and opened the door.
The space beyond contained only a single chair and a steel
computer desk with a wide-screen monitor and a keyboard. They
entered and the door closed behind them with a solid thud.
"They won't finish pulling the rest of the fiber optic cable until
Bobbi explained, so this is the only workstation currently on the
internet." She tapped a key and a menu appeared with the title
"The customer I mentioned was a tall woman dressed all in leather,"
explained, "and she was interested in purchasing several items from
our online catalog, as quickly as possible. I offered to add her
our Preferred Customers
list, and she presented a thumb drive with her contact information."
"Thumb drive?" Gracie muttered.
"One of those little flash drive things," Megan explained. "They
like a disposable lighter."
"Exactly," Bobbi confirmed. "It was black, and was engraved with
the letter 'B'. After she left, I realized her address-book file
included, shall we say... something strange." She tapped a few
keys and an internet browser opened. She selected an address from
"Favorites" menu, and the screen flashed.
Gracie and Megan gasped!
"I'm not sure
what this means," Bobbi said, and took a step
back as Gracie and Megan crowded close to the desk.
The screen displayed
a page with the title "Bondarella's Web". The words "OUR MOST
RECENT TARGET" were prominent, and directly below were three photos
of Lady Andra. Below that were a series of menu links grouped in
three categories: "CAPTURE", "ORDEALS", and "RESCUE".
"Jackpot!" Gracie exclaimed.
"This doesn't look like one of the 'lower tier' sites in the case
files," Megan noted.
"No, it doesn't," Gracie agreed. "I think this is the 'upper
tier'. So... 'Bondarella' isn't such a mastermind after all."
"Every criminal makes mistakes," Megan noted, "even the smart ones."
Gracie nodded. "If the cyber-crime geeks at the Bureau can't get
off of this, they need to turn in their pocket protectors."
"Uh, maybe not," Megan said, pointing at the browser's address
window. "That's on 'C-drive', not the internet."
"Yes," Bobbi said. "Her thumb drive downloaded nearly a gig of
data while we were talking. If I'd noticed it at the time, I
said something. What does it mean?"
Suddenly, a melodic chime sounded from the intercom
panel mounted on the wall beside the door.
"That's the phone in my office," Bobbi explained, walking toward the
door. "I'll be so
glad when they finish wiring this place. I'll be as quick as I
can," she apologized. "Try the items on the top menu.
They're even more interesting."
the door and it closed behind her.
Gracie pulled out her cell phone. "I'm calling in," she said.
Megan nodded, then pointed at the menu Bobbi had mentioned.
"'Pending Targets'! This may tell us who she's
after." She sat in the chair and reached for the mouse.
"No signal," Gracie muttered, frowning at her phone. "Not
surprising, I guess. This place has thick walls." She
turned to the door—then immediately turned back when she heard Megan
gasp, and her eyes popped wide. "My god!"
The screen had changed to a "PENDING
TARGETS" page, and now displayed two sets of three photos each.
The identities of the proposed targets were—Gracie Hart and Megan Wheeler!
Gracie pointed at the first of her photos. "That's from that
stupid beauty pageant ordeal I had to endure."
"I recognize it." She moused to the arrow icon in the corner of
the image frame and tapped. A small window popped and video of
the "ordeal" in question began to play.
"Kill it!" Gracie growled. "You recognize it?" she demanded.
"It was 'must see' in the squad room for a while," Megan
smiled, "once you broke the case and the FBI involvement went
public, you were famous."
"Yeah?" Gracie huffed. "Well, I recognize your little
claim to fame, too." She pointed at the first of Megan's
photos. It was also a video link.
Megan's smile faded. "Yeah, I got drafted as NYPD's spokes-model during
the 'Weeping Willow' case—the fake kidnapping of that little
moron and her friend that was live-streamed on the internet. How
does that make me 'famous'?"
It was Gracie's turn to smile. "Are you kidding? You were
'YouTube's Greatest Hits'."
"Very funny," Megan muttered. "The others look like surveillance
"Someone's been following us around. Creepy."
"Creepy," Megan agreed. "I'm gonna try and get on the internet so
I can send the files to the task force." She moused to the "ESC"
icon in the
right corner of the screen and gave it a click.
"And I'm gonna go outside and make that call," Gracie said, and headed
for the door, once again. She then turned, once again, when
she heard another gasp from
Megan. "What is it?"
Megan was staring at the screen. It was clear, except for a
line of text:
IS NO ESCAPE FOR TARGETS OF
Gracie blinked. Her vision was getting blurry, there was a
vaguely metallic taste on the back of her tongue, and she felt...
funny. "Megan," she mumbled. She hadn't meant to mumble,
but her lips weren't working properly. She put a hand on
Megan's shoulder—and her partner slumped forward onto the desk.
shit!" Gracie swore... or thought. She might not have spoken at
all. She wasn't sure. She wasn't sure of anything.
Her knees buckled and she dropped to the floor. She tried to
forward to support herself with her hands, but her arms were weak, as
well. Her hands slid out from under her and she went down in a
Both "Targets of Bondarella" were unconscious.
the monitor on her desk. The pin-cameras
in the "trap room" had captured the gassing of both targets in full
detail and from multiple angles. Editing the sequence would not
be a problem.
She pulled a tiny device from her jacket pocket and tossed it on the
desk. It was the remote control that had triggered the buzzer on
the intercom panel, allowing her to make her exit and spring the
trap. Next, she unbuttoned and shrugged off her jacket and
blouse, then stepped out of her heels, unzipped her pants, and let them
drop to the floor. Now wearing only a thong of black
leather and the Beretta PX4 strapped to her right ankle, she reached
up, pulled several pins from her hair, and removed a blond
wig. She pulled more pins, shook her head, and her
long, dark, natural locks cascaded down her back.
On the monitor, Gracie and Megan were still out cold. Their
knew they would remain that way for at least an hour, or until she
administered the antidote to the anesthetic gas. She removed the
contact lenses from
her eyes and placed them in a plastic case, then used a
wet-wipe to remove her makeup, revealing a birthmark above her right
Bobbi Casher was no more, and in her place was—Bondarella.
her right foot on the seat of her desk chair, released the straps of
the holster, and placed holster and weapon on the desk. She
picked up a Blackberry as she flopped into the chair, then leaned back
and crossed her bare feet atop the desk. Dividing her attention
between the monitor and the Blackberry, her thumbs
flashed as she keyed in a text message. She hit the "Send"
button, tossed the Blackberry back on the surface, then stood and
"Just a little while longer while I get dressed, my darlings," she
smiling at the screen. "Then, you'll have my undivided attention."
Bondarella opened a closet door and pulled a black leather catsuit
from a hanger. She donned the garment, zipped the
gussets closed at her wrists and ankles, and then pulled up the long
the front that ran from navel to throat. Next came
black knee-boots and a matching pair of gloves. Finally, she
gathered her hair into a tight
ponytail and snapped a black elastic around its base.
She then carried a black leather gym bag from the closet to the desk,
it open, and
peered inside, smiling at the several
tight coils of hemp rope it contained. A
side pocket held the additional items she would
require for the immediate task at hand.
Her smile broadened as she zipped the bag closed, pulled the
Beretta from its holster, and slid it into
the top of her right boot. The Blackberry went into a pocket on
her left thigh.
She opened a lower desk drawer and pulled out a gas-mask of black
rubber. The ventilation system should have dissipated the gas in
the trap room by now, but it was better to be safe than to be found
unconscious on the floor when her minions returned. They'd never
let her hear the end of it. The mask's oval faceplate was
the glass painted in metallic gold and silver with the stylized visage
beautiful woman. From the inside, the faceplate was perfectly
transparent, of course.
The mask dangling by its straps from her left hand and the gym bag
in her right, Bondarella smiled at the slumbering beauties on the
screen. "Both targets at once," she whispered, "and it was so
very easy. The gods
are most kind."
Bondarella spun on her heel and strode from the office.
and found herself staring at the legs of a
table and chair, a tangle of cables, and a computer tower. Still in the
same room, she surmised. She was mildly disoriented...
but it was passing.
What was not passing was the
fact that she was bound and gagged!
Gracie's wrists were crossed behind her back—against her spine and high behind her back—and a web of
tight ropes yoked her shoulders and pinned her arms to her
sides. It felt like the "Semi-Reverse-Prayer" bondage
Claudia had demonstrated on the Rookie, earlier in the day, while
and Dana were on the
phone with the DoJ trying to finagle warrants. In
addition, multiple bands of rope encircled her knees and ankles.
They were cinched tight, and strands from the ankle ropes were looped
around the insteps of her black heels, lashing the shoes to her
feet. Something that felt like a mass of foam was stuffed in her
a broad, padded strap was pressed against her lips and lower
face. It was buckled behind her head at the nape of her neck, and
could felt another, much smaller strap under her chin.
Her clothes were intact, although the top buttons of her white cotton
had come undone, as had her Navy jacket, and the matching skirt was
hiked up to her
Gracie kicked and struggled, but to no avail. From what she could
see of her bonds, they were hemp rope, and she suspected the gag was
leather, on the outside, anyway. The inside was tasteless, but it
felt like rubber foam. She kicked and mewled her anger
through the gag's panel and stuffing, and continued to squirm and fight
ropes... but it was pointless. Whoever had tied her up—Bondarella?—had accomplished the
task with consummate skill.
She shook her head, more in an effort to get her hair out of her eyes
dislodge the gag, but this met with only limited
success. A few
tangled strands remained draped across her face.
Gracie rolled completely over—and her eyes popped wide.
Across the floor, a still unconscious Megan was lying on her stomach,
female figure dressed in a black leather catsuit and wearing what
appeared to be a gas-mask
was seated in the lotus position, behind Megan's slumbering form.
mask's faceplate was painted like a carnival mask, in gold and silver.
Bondarella, herself? Gracie
wondered. Or is it one of her
"Brava, Agent Hart!" the leather-clad figure cheered. Her voice
a tinny quality, from being piped through a small
speaker built into the mask. "Many of my targets panic when
they awaken to find themselves
bound and gagged, but not you. You are very brave."
Gracie squirmed and glared at
"Still hoping to free yourself?" the catsuited figure inquired.
reached to the side and produced a coil of hemp rope. "Why don't
you watch while I bind Detective Wheeler? Perhaps you'll find a
weakness in my technique. And in case you're still undecided, I am Bondarella." She went up
on her knees, then reached into a pocket, pulled out a small
hand-tazer, and held it for Gracie's inspection. "And by the way,
Agent Hart, I could have put you in a nice, tight hog-tie, but I
didn't. If you try kicking me, I'll zap you back to oblivion and you won't get
to watch me do anything. Behave yourself."
What is she, a mind reader?
Gracie wondered, continuing her stony glare. So much for my famous 'suprise mule-kick'.
wiggle, squirm, and test her bonds, more on principle
than with any real hope of escape.
Meanwhile, Bondarella used three coils of
rope to bind Megan in a fashion Gracie surmised was
identical to her own condition. Bondarella worked with
practiced efficiency, her gloved
flying as she looped, hitched, and cinched the rope around Megan's
body, lifting and turning her limp form as required. She tied the
knot, hitching the insteps of Megan's heels to keep her shoes on her
feet, just she had with Gracie. The
to tie someone up, Gracie conceded, but we already knew that.
Bondarella reached into a leather gym bag and pulled out a black
leather gag. She turned it in her hands, for Gracie's
benefit. "This model has a one-inch plug of hard rubber
surrounded by two inches
of soft foam, then sheathed in a medium-density shell. It
the inside of the mouth, filling it completely... as I'm sure you
agree." She gave the gag a shake, and its double-tongued
roller-buckle rattled. "You're wearing its twin."
Gracie continued to glare, but didn't give her captor the
satisfaction of growling through her gag and thereby demonstrating the
"As you can see... and feel," Bondarella continued, "the mask portion
padded. The narrow strap under the chin prevents the wearer from
fully opening her jaws to try and expel the plug—not that that would
course. The main strap and the size of the plug, itself, are
sufficient to defeat such efforts. In any case, I like the chin
its pressure provides the damsel with one more little constant reminder
her complete helplessness. Don't you agree?"
I'm not a 'damsel', bitch!
Gracie fumed... but she couldn't argue with the "complete helplessness"
Bondarella pulled a tiny vial from a sleeve pocket, snapped it open,
shook a white pill onto her open palm. "The antidote to my
'sleepy-time' gas," she explained. She thumbed the vial closed
and returned it to the pocket. "I'll place this under your
friend's tongue as I apply her gag. She'll be with us in about
Gracie watched as Bondarella cradled Megan's head in her lap, pried
open her jaws, placed
the pill, then slid the gag's plug between her teeth. She
straps and clicked a tiny padlock through the buckle at the nape of
As this was accomplished, Gracie was struck by how
and helpless her auburn-haired partner appeared. Her
features had always been
what Gracie had to call 'girlish', of course, and this was
accentuated by the Detective's freckled complexion and auburn
pixie-cut. In point of fact, Megan was only about five years
Gracie, herself—okay, seven or eight—but she looked like an innocent teenager as
Bondarella completed her work. Gracie's stomach knotted in a
of guilt and despair. Sorry,
Megan, she thought. She knew there was no logical reason
she should be taking the full responsibility for their capture on
herself... but she was the
"There," Bondarella said, as she stood and picked up the gym bag.
"I'll let you enjoy Detective Wheeler's awakening while I prepare for
our departure." She spun on one booted heel and left the computer
room. The door closed behind her with an authoritative thud.
Gracie's gaze returned to her now equally bound and gagged
partner. We really screwed the
pooch, this time, she thought. That Bobbi-Bondarella bitch played us like
a cheap fiddle. Gracie wasn't really
afraid. She knew their captor never did her "targets" any lasting
physical harm, but if Megan and herself were "targets" of her BDSM-online
operation... the next few days
were going to be very
unpleasant, for both of them.
Okay, she admitted. I am afraid.
wiping down her desk and chair with a special
cleaning solution when Betty and Belladonna arrived. Both
were still wearing their catsuits, boots, and gloves, but had
removed the Zorro masks and nametags they had worn at the Leatherotica store.
"I've already got everything packed up," she told her companions.
"The only thing left is to see to our guests and sanitize the trap
"And you felt it wise to risk taking down two trained law
enforcement officers all by yourself?" Belladonna demanded. Her
hands were on her hips and she was glaring
at her smiling boss.
"There was no risk," Bondarella chuckled. "If they hadn't simply
into our trap, I would have strung things out until you
arrived. Did you feel
it was necessary to waste an hour playing with collateral
targets? Once you confirmed that neither of our primaries
were coming, you should have buttoned the place up, left them to
languish, and come straight here."
Belladonna continued to glare... then her gaze dropped.
"Touché," she muttered.
"And what do you have to say for yourself," Bondarella demanded,
smiling at Betty.
Betty shrugged. "Mine wasn't even ticklish," she responded.
"Oh, well then, never mind," Bondarella laughed. "Wait 'til I get
"Promises, promises," Belladonna purred. "Let's get a move
on. We need to be in our planned position when the cavalry
Bondarella nodded in agreement. "Something like that." She
opened the side
pocket of a black leather duffel and distributed black carnival masks
to her minions. She donned a mask, herself, and the trio headed
for the computer room.
Megan finally did regain consciousness, Gracie had to admit she'd taken
their situation rather well, as far as she could tell. They
weren't exactly in a condition to discuss the subject. What they could do,
once Megan had fully regained her senses, was to roll and squirm their
bodies together and see
they couldn't do something about the situation in question. The
cause, of course. Unbuckling the chin straps might have been
possible, after considerable effort, but the main straps were padlocked.
After several long minutes of struggle, they realized
the ropes were also a lost cause, as well. The knots simply
surrender to their clumsy, fluttering fingers. All their bonds,
including the ankle and knee ropes, were secured with Bondarella's
trademark "Tudor Rose" knots. The elegant, symmetrical snarls
might as well
have been saturated with epoxy glue.
Suddenly, the door opened and three catsuited
room. Their faces were hidden behind black
"Bad girls," Bondarella scolded, "trying to untie my pretty
ropes. Betty, Belladonna, allow me to
introduce Special Agent Gracie Hart and Detective Megan Wheeler.
Please escort them to our transportation and make them comfortable; but
first, see to those busy
fingers, would you?"
Gracie recognized Bobbi Casher's voice, undistorted by the microphone
that had been built into the now replaced gas-mask. She'd already
suspected that Bobbi and
Bondarella were one and the same, and now this was confirmed.
One of the catsuited women (not Bondarella) rolled Gracie onto her
stomach, knelt with her knees on either side of her
waist, and sat on her buttocks. Gracie squirmed and mewled in
"Settle down," the woman purred, leaned forward, and captured Gracie's
thumbs with her left hand.
There was a dry rattle and Gracie felt something tighten around the
base of her thumbs. She could still flutter her fingers, but the
pads of her thumbs were now pressed together. She turned her head
and watched the other woman (who was also
not Bondarella) kneeling on Megan's
butt and tightening a
cable-tie around her thumbs.
"I'm Belladonna," the woman kneeling on Gracie's buttocks said.
"I've been careful not to tighten that tie too much, but I suggest you
stop struggling. You can't escape, and you might bruise the skin."
Suddenly, gagged squealing erupted from across the floor. Gracie
focused on Megan, and found her partner squirming, bucking, kicking.
for all she was worth. Why? The woman on her butt was
"Betty," Bondarella warned. "There's a time and a place for such
"Oh my!" Betty exclaimed. "If she isn't an 'eleven' on
my scale of one to ten, I'm Gwendoline." She stopped tickling and
Megan collapsed, panting through her nostrils. "Please, let's start with this one,"
she begged, her mask facing Bondarella. "Please?"
"That's up to our patrons," Bondarella answered. "But you'll
probably get your wish."
Belladonna stood, lifted Gracie to her bound feet, then
hefted her onto her shoulder in a fireman's carry. "Since they
were captured together, perhaps we should keep them for a full week,
this time, and
alternate their sessions, letting them rest in between," she suggested
as she headed for the door.
"What a great idea!" Betty exclaimed, lifting and carrying Megan in the
"We'll see," Bondarella chuckled, and began using a cloth and a small
spray bottle to wipe down the computer desk and keyboard.
their bound and gagged
burdens to the end of the hallway, out onto a loading dock, and into
a white panel truck. The vehicle wasn't large, a boxy shell on a
full-size pick-up frame. The back was isolated from the cab and
tall enough the prisoners and their handlers to stand. The
ceiling was a panel of translucent plastic. The loading dock was
screened on both sides by the brick walls of the building,
and there were no witnesses to this stage of Gracie and Megan's
The catsuited kidnappers planted Gracie and Megan's feet in the center
of a ring of rumpled canvas. Betty put her
arms around the captives in a tight embrace, pressing them together,
breast-to-breast. Meanwhile, Belladonna lifted
the canvas, revealing it to be a heavy bag. Something like a
large mailbag, it was reinforced along the top, bottom, and side seams
with wide bands of tan leather that also served to anchor heavy steel
"I hope you two are on good terms," Betty whispered to the captives,
as she released her embrace and helped Belladonna pull the bag up to
their shoulders, "because togetherness is the order of the day."
Gracie and Megan locked eyes, or tried, anyway.
Their faces were too close for either of them to properly focus.
Meanwhile, their captors were
tightening and buckling broad leather straps, cinching the bag and
squeezing their bound bodies tightly together. Next, long straps
were pulled from reels mounted around the periphery of the truck and
clipped to the bag's steel rings. Belladonna thumbed a
switch, motors whined, drums began to turn, and the webbing
tightened until the captives were lifted into the air. The straps
snapped tight and the drums locked. Their feet were now about six
inches off the floor of the truck and the tops of their heads a foot
from the glowing ceiling. The diagonal and horizontal
held them upright and in place at the shoulders, waist, knees, and
The back door of the truck opened, revealing Bondarella and a trolley
laden with leather duffels. Her minions unloaded and secured the
luggage in side-racks while Bondarella inspected the captives.
She ducked through the taut web of straps and peered into the
captive's glaring, gagged faces.
"Excellent," she purred. "Bella," she said, "please be so good as
to relocate to the far side of the front parking lot. You know
the place I've chosen."
Belladonna nodded, then exited via the back door. Several
seconds later, they heard the driver's door open and slam, then
over and they lurched into motion. Megan and Gracie swung
and swayed in their canvas cradle as the truck repeatedly accelerated,
made left and right turns. Bondarella and Betty grabbed onto the
and side-racks to steady themselves. After only about a minute,
they eased to a halt.
"Betty," Bondarella said.
Her minion took this as instructions to pull a laptop
computer from one of the duffels. She
turned it on and placed it on a shelf where Gracie and Megan
had an unobstructed view of the screen. She then plugged in a
passed its end to Bondarella. She, in turn, stepped forward
and tapped on a small hatch on the front wall. The hatch opened
and a gloved hand accepted the cable.
Seconds later, the laptop's screen flashed and an image appeared.
Gracie and Megan recognized the front entrance of BDL Inc. Their
GSA sedan was still in its parking place.
"This is real-time video, of course," Bondarella purred. "We're
about fifty yards distant and partially screened by trees; but, as
you can see, our dashboard camera has a perfect view."
Gracie sighed through her gag. Their canvas prison gave them a
little wiggle room, but not much. She very much wanted to make
some display of defiance, however pointless, but her options were
limited. A gagged tirade accompanied by pathetic squirming and
struggling would only serve to entertain their captors, and would
probably not be appreciated by her partner. The captives were
cheek-to-cheek (and gag-to-gag) as they stared at the screen, and
Megan's body was
pressed close against her own, and the thick, tight canvas was acting
like a blanket, making things increasingly warm (and
"We probably have a little while to wait," Bondarella said.
"Actually, not!" Betty gasped. "Isn't that them?"
"Yes," Bondarella chuckled. "Perfect timing. This day is
going so well."
On the screen, another GSA sedan was pulling into the slot next
to Gracie and Megan's. The doors opened, and Dana Scully and
Claudia Bosco emerged.
"A pity there's no sound," Bondarella remarked, "but a parabolic mike
mounted on the top of a laundry delivery vehicle might attract unwanted
By their body language, it was clear that Scully and Claudia were on
the alert. Scully gestured at the other sedan and exchanged a few
words with her Italian partner. They approached BDL's front
door and Claudia pulled it open. Right hand inside her jacket
(and on her weapon), Scully led the way inside.
"Well, time for us to go," Bondarella said. She tapped on the
front wall and the engine purred to life. Meanwhile,
Betty turned off the laptop and stowed it away. "I wanted
you to see your companions and would-be rescuers," Bondarella told the
prisoners, "for you to see that they were so very close, but unaware
of your fates. Of course, they won't be unaware for
long. I left your weapons, ID and badge holders, cell phones, and
the other loose items from your pockets in one of the offices.
They'll be found,
eventually. I left your jewelry as well—your rings,
earrings, and necklaces."
"They might still have nipple, navel, or vaginal piercings," Betty
"We'll know that soon enough," Bondarella purred.
The truck began to move, and once again, the masked and catsuited
kidnappers braced themselves by grabbing hold of straps and shelves.
"We're in for a bit of a drive," Bondarella explained, "so I suggest
you both try to get a little rest. You're going to need it,
Gracie glared at her captor's mask. She'd be doing anything but
rest, of course, and she knew Megan wouldn't be relaxing, either.
They'd both be listening for odd sounds, timing their turns, and
trying to gauge their speed. Eventually, after they were
their ordeals... they'd compare notes and might be able to determine at
least the general area to which they were being taken. It was a
but it was all they had to do... other than worry about what lay ahead.
That damn beauty pageant!
Gracie fumed. Why do I have to
be 'famous'? She focused on one of her partner's freckled
ears, remembering how young and cute Megan had looked during
Willow" NYPD web-cast. That was why her superiors had made her do
it, of course. Any of the other detectives in the squad would
have looked laughingly out of place to the target audience. Dammit! Why do we have to be 'famous'? And why didn't
I see what was happening? Why couldn't I protect my partner?
The truck continued its journey, one more commercial vehicle
among the countless others crowding the roads and making local