Lily had been working as a housemaid for Mrs Berenger for several years now. She knew the world did not like her employer. The entire neighbourhood, business associates and her social milieu all thought Helen Berenger was rude, bad tempered and incapable of saying a soft, kindly word to anyone. Consequently, she had no friends.
Lily, however knew her as a good boss who paid well and on time. She was just, honest and not a slave driver. In any employee-employer matter could always be relied on to do the right thing. She did not want a friendly un-businesslike ditherer in charge, she just wanted a good employer. She knew her job with Mrs Berenger was secure as long as she did her work properly and that was all that mattered. Privately, she suspected the lady had had a hard time earlier in life.
She herself was a fit, firmly built young woman in her early thirties. With black hair framing an oval, usually smiling, face. She was wearing, as always, her white uniform. Mrs Berenger insisted on this and Lily did not mind, in fact she preferred it. It was of thick, good quality material, buttoned up the front, calf length and with short sleeves. It had a wide belt and rustled faintly as she walked. Her employer had provided it, together with the small white cap (another of Mrs Berenger's insistences) which she wore on top of her page boy hairstyle.
Mrs Berenger was out but expected back in an hour or so. She had gone off to an appointment in her car and was probably giving someone the benefit of her temper right now. Not that this concerned Lily who thinking of the lunch she would prepare later as she went about her duties. Shortly before ten the front doorbell rang and Lily went to answer it. The household had a heavy wooden front door and a solid steel mesh security door in front of that. Mrs Berenger believed in taking no chances. Two women stood in the pillared porch. Lily looked at them through the security mesh.
Facing her was well built woman in her early forties, wearing a neat, smart, grey business suit with a matching brimmed hat pulled low over her face. She wore long black leather gloves, held a large expensive looking handbag and had a neatly folded raincoat over one arm. Sheer stockings and shiny black sensible shoes completed the picture. She was carefully made up and had a smiling, friendly looking face.
The other stood about four feet behind, was turned sideways and seemed more intent in looking at the surrounding houses and the street than the place they had come to. She was about thirty, somewhat below average height and thin with a narrow face and sharp chin. She wore a long full raincoat buttoned to the throat, though the rain had stopped some time before. She had a bulging shopping holdall slung over one shoulder.
Both had short thick heads of hair. The older woman's dark brown, the other's black, like Lily's own. They were reminiscent of wigs - which is what they were. Both wore tinted dark glasses, which tended to disguise their appearance.
"Good morning", the first woman said, smiling politely. "I'm Alice Holmes from the Adams Foundation", (a well known charity that Mrs Berenger was involved with, though not liked by her fellow workers there) "and this," she indicated her companion, "Is Jane Atkins, who is helping me today." The other turned, smiled briefly, then went back to her study of the street. "We have an appointment with Mrs Berenger for ten o'clock this morning."
The two looked exactly like what they said they were, a pair of charity workers making a business call. And this was just the impression they had taken pains to create.
The reality was very different. They were professional thieves who planned to remove certain items from the concealed safe in Mrs Berenger's lounge room. The elder was Beryl, a woman very experienced at her occupation, the other was known as Liz, or Little Liz to some in their trade. And they took their work very seriously. The idea idea of an unplanned home invasion into a randomly chosen house in the hope of finding something valuable to fence at a fraction its value appalled them. They always stole to order. Everything they went after was carefully targeted, planned and prepared for and this project was no exception. In this case Lily was just an item to be secured as part of the general plan. They wished her no harm whatsoever.
Lily was nonplussed at their opening statement. She knew nothing of any such appointment and Mrs Berenger was out anyway. She told them this.
The pair showed surprise, the older woman very much so. She reached inside her capacious handbag and took out a leather bound notebook (everything she had was of good quality, this was part of the cover). She studied it carefully and finally said.
"It looks as if Appointments Section has slipped up again. Not for the first time." A faint grimace of exasperation. (Busy executive lady inconvenienced by slipshod underlings). She half turned to the other who was now dutifully showing concern. "But since we are out here, we can perhaps visit Haskell House?" A well known local building housing several charities. She turned back to Lily on the other side of the security door and smilingly said, "I don't want to use your telephone but could I have a look at your directory to check an address please ?"
And Lily, who had been told repeatedly never to open the security door to anyone she was not sure of, obligingly got the directory from the telephone nook. She released the heavy catch (which could only be opened manually from the inside), pushed the steel door partly open and handed out the phone book. The woman smiled.
And then... the security door was pulled further open and the two women pushed their way inside. Beryl clamped a black gloved hand over Lily's mouth and forced her back against a side wall. Liz closed both doors and made sure they were both locked. Then raced to the surprised maid's side and pinioned her arms before she had a chance to resist.
And Lily had been taken completely by surprise. As she recovered her wits she was aware of some disturbing facts. There were two of them, they were very strong and they obviously knew a great deal about overpowering people. The older woman was still smiling.
"There now Lily," said Beryl softly, "I'm sure you're going to be sensible girl. We don't want to have to hurt you. We simply need you out of the way for a while. If you behave sensibly and don't give us any trouble, you'll be quite comfortable and not hurt at all. Believe me, we don't want to have to use either of these." And with that she reached into the large shopping holdall which hung from her raincoated companion's shoulder with her free hand and took out a blackjack and a small pistol and held them a couple of inches from the helpless maid's nose. Lily's eyes bulged.
"Now I'm sure you don't want us to do that," she continued, "and so, if you're a clever girl, keep very quiet and let us do what we have to do you'll come to no harm at all. So will you be quiet and let us do that? Nod if you understand."
It was difficult to nod in the iron grip Lily was held in, but she managed.
"Good," smiled Beryl, "I knew you'd be sensible. No amount of money is worth being beaten up or shot for." She took her hand away from the now thoroughly frightened maid's mouth.
The two set to work to immobilise the captive girl. Liz kept both arms firmly clamped around her upper body. Beryl took a long black scarf from the swinging holdall, folded it twice and deftly tied it over Lily's eyes.. "It's best you don't see too much darling," she murmured as she secured it firmly at the back of her head, "And unfortunately, it's also best if you can't make a noise either." She took out a
prepared gag, a wide strip of cloth, carefully knotted in the middle
and thoughtfully dampened as well.
Though blindfolded, Lily sensed what was going to happen.
"Please," she cried, "You don't have to do that. I won't call out. I won't say anything. Please."
"I'm sure you won't," said Beryl softly, "But sadly it's necessary. Open your pretty mouth."
"I'll be quiet. Just don't put anythhhh....uhhh." Lily's voice choked off as Beryl's expert fingers forced the wadded knot between her lips and then tied the two trailing ends at the back of her neck.
"There, darling," she said quietly. "Now just be calm. Let your jaws relax and you'll be quite comfortable. We've already gone to the trouble of wetting it so it'll be easier for you." Both captors were relieved she had been effectively silenced.
Liz turned the blindfolded, gagged maid around so that she faced the wall. Beryl reached into the holdall, took out a rolled strip of torn sheet about two inches wide and began to tie her wrists. It was just long enough for several turns, a cinch from top to bottom and an effective knot to seal it. Next, another strip was used to bind her forearms above the elbows. This was tightened very securely, enough to pull her shoulders back and make her breasts protrude against the stiff fabric of her uniform. Lily grunted in surprise at the sudden pressure on her nipples.
"Hush, darling," Beryl whispered in her ear. "We're being as easy as we can but we don't want you getting into any trouble, do we?" Which seemed to mean getting in the way of what they planned to do.
Another long strip was passed around her upper arms and under her now prominent bust several times, pulled tightly and firmly knotted. Another length was tied above her breasts and both of these ties firmly cinched under each armpit. The overall effect of these latest bindings was to press Lily's already stressed nipples even harder against her uniform. Beryl thoughtfully undid the two top buttons. "To relieve the pressure dear," she murmured in the bound girl's ear.
A final strip around her waist pulled her crossed forearms against the lower part of her back and the captive maid was now deemed secure. At least as to the upper part of her body.
"And now to bed," said Beryl and with that Lily was seized by the shoulders and marched into the main bedroom. Both seemed to know everything about the house, though neither had been in it before.
Their captive was made to sit on Mrs Berenger's double bed while Liz knelt beside her and tied her ankles, then her legs, both above and below the knees. All three of these bonds were tightly cinched. Liz carefully smoothed the maid's uniform over her tied legs and then removed her white shoes and placed them neatly beside the bed.
"Time to lie down darling," Beryl ordered and Lily's legs were lifted onto the bed and her head and shoulders were laid against the pillow.
An extra long strip was produced from the holdall. The middle of this was placed across her breasts, the two ends threaded under her armpits and the trailing ends pulled past her shoulders and firmly secured to a strong timber in the headboard. Liz took a shorter length, looped and knotted it around the girl's ankles and jerked it down towards the foot of the bed. Lily grunted in shock as her body was pulled rigid. The two ends of this were then knotted to the equally solid bed footboard. Lily, in addition to being bound, gagged and blindfolded was now very securely tied, top and bottom to her employer's (fortunately) very comfortable bed. She could barely move an inch in any direction.
"That should hold you darling," said Beryl as she adjusted the pillow under their captive's head. "You'll be quite OK if you relax and don't struggle. You're going to be there for an hour or two. Be thankful it's a good soft bed. Nothing but the best for Helen Berenger, eh? And don't worry about your door answering duties. My colleague is going to look after that for you. I'm sure she'll be as professional as you." She smiled at Liz.
Liz smiled in return. Then stepped back, smoothed her raincoat, unbuttoned it and pulled it off. Underneath she was wearing a white, quality maid's uniform, almost identical to the one Lily was wearing. And it fitted her perfectly. They had had some difficulty getting this and had originally considered forcing the maid to take hers off and wearing that. But this had been rejected, for one thing Lily's outfit would have hung like a tent on Liz and just would not have looked authentic. These two prided themselves on careful preparation for every job they did.
Liz reached down, removed Lily's cap (the one thing they had not been able to get) and put it carefully on her own head. She then smoothed her wig, patted her uniform into place and did a pirouette in front of Beryl. "Very good," murmured her companion, "I'm sure you'll do very well."
And as if to give Liz an immediate test, the front doorbell rang.
It was not much of a test. Just a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses ladies. Liz dealt with them with politeness and courtesy and sent them on their way. They departed thinking they had been dealing with a professional servant.
Liz returned to the bedroom. "Very convincing," smiled Beryl approvingly, "But we'll have to do something about our friend here, She got a little restive in the middle of your performance."
This was true. In the bedroom it was possible to faintly hear every word uttered out on the porch. And hearing her impersonator handle a call as well as she could herself had been too much for Lily. She had writhed and made a series of muffled noises that would have been noisy indeed if it had not been for the very effective gag. This had lasted until Beryl had sat on the bed beside her and placed a restraining hand over her straining mouth.
The pair produced a roll of smooth surgical tape and scissors and cut and taped two strips crossways across Lily's gagged lips. She mewed furiously at this but was now barely audible on the other side of the room. "There now darling," advised Beryl, "Just take things easy and relax. Otherwise you'll give yourself a sore jaw. No one can hear you." Lily lapsed into silence.
The two went out into the lounge and very quickly found Mrs Berenger's wall safe hidden behind a large oil painting. Beryl studied it carefully. She felt she could probably open it herself - she had some skills in that field - but it would probably take some time. More than they could afford. Better to wait for its owner to return and get the combination from her. They knew she was due soon.
However Mrs Berenger was later than expected. There were more calls at the front door for the bogus maid to answer. Liz handled them all smoothly. One lady actually knew Lily personally.
"Lily not here today?"
"No. I'm filling in for her. I'm from Temporary Domestic." A well known local firm that provided servants at short notice. They had really done their homework.
"Is it her mother again?"
"I believe so. But she 's getting better. Lily should be here tomorrow."
"I'm glad to hear that. Give her my regards if you see her. I'm Alice Baker."
"I'll do that Mrs Baker."
"Goodbye Mrs Baker."
Lily heard all of this and fumed and squirmed. Beryl, sitting beside her, put her hand softly over her taped lips.
Beryl was becoming worried. According to their information Mrs Berenger should have been back by now. Obviously delayed but for how long? Should she try to open the safe herself after all?
At that moment they heard a vehicle brake to a halt in the driveway. A car door slammed, followed by the the side door of the residence. Quick footsteps in the passage. Mrs Berenger was not only home, she was in a hurry. Beryl and Liz looked at each other. Their objective was coming to them. They stood with their backs to the wall each side of the bedroom door.
They heard Mrs Berenger hurrying through the house calling, "Lily, Lily." Finally she came striding up the hall and into the main bedroom and then stopped dead on seeing the object of her search lying on her own bed securely bound and gagged.
She was wearing a grey business suit with sensible black shoes and still had her hat on her head. She was about the same height as Beryl but slightly heavier with a square chin, short greying hair and a determined look on her face. Over her outfit she wore a beige raincoat, tightly belted and buttoned and looked like a lady secret service agent about to enter into a difficult situation - as undoubtedly she had.
Beryl and Liz wasted no time in seizing her from behind. Beryl clamped a gloved hand over her mouth and held her upper arms. Liz held her lower down. Their victim struggled furiously but soon discovered what Lily had found out earlier. That there were two of them, that they were stronger than her and that they knew how to subdue people. The thick fabric of her raincoat rustled as she fought.
Eventually she calmed down after Beryl whispered in her ear that resistance was useless and that they would knock her unconscious if she persisted. She agreed not to scream and finally stood rigid in her captors' arms. Beryl held the upper part of her body while her accomplice hastily grabbed some strips from the holdall securely bound her wrists. Next she tied her upper arms tightly to her sides and cinched under each armpit. The waterproof material whispered noisily as the lashings were pulled tight. Liz was taking no chances with such a robust captive.
Helen Berenger at last found her voice. "I don't keep large sums of money in the house and there aren't many valuables. So you might as well take what you've found and get out."
"We'll go darling, after we've done what we have to do," said Beryl quietly.
"I'm not your darling, so don't call me that," retorted their bound victim.
"As you wish Madam," they were in a position to call her what they liked, but saw no point in upsetting her any more than what she already was.
Liz made a final tie around her waist that pulled her forearms tight against her midriff. With her arms firmly tied, Mrs Berenger was made to walk around to the opposite side of the bed to Lily and sit down. Her raincoat and skirt were lifted and her legs tied at the knees. A last strip was used to tie her ankles. Thoughtfully, her clothing was re-arranged.
Lily, though blindfolded and gagged, seemed to sense what was happening and mewed and squirmed throughout. No one took any notice.
"Just what do you think you'll get out this," demanded their furious victim. "I've already told you, you'd both better leave. You won't get away with this."
"Time for Madame to be gagged," said Beryl reaching for the holdall.
"That's quite unnecessary," snapped Madame, "I'm not going to scream and I won't get hysterical. You don't have to gag me."
"Quite so, Madam," murmured Beryl, shaking out the prepared gag, "Open wide please."
"I said you don't have to. And another thing, you Mmmmfff." Whatever Helen Berenger was going to say was lost as the gag was deftly forced into her mouth and expertly tied at the back of her neck, under her greying hair.
Beryl felt they had spent too much time here already. They should get what they had come for and get on their way. The next move was to get the combination of the safe in the lounge.
There were two ways they could do this. They could force it out of the householder by threats and coercion. This would be difficult as anyone could see Mrs Berenger would not coerce easily. Far better was their preferred method, injection with a painless truth drug. Beryl got a small case out of the holdall and took out a prepared needle. The intended victim's eyes bulged at this and her muffled, mewed protests reached a crescendo.
"Hush Helen," spoke Beryl softly, "Just something to put you to sleep for half an hour or so. Quite harmless, no after effects and it won't hurt you at all." Liz clamped her strong arms around their captive's torso to hold her steady and the contents of the syringe were expertly injected into the base of her neck. "See, you hardly felt it. And soon you'll go to sleep."
And go to sleep she did. Within five minutes her eyelids began to droop. Seven minutes and she was completely unconscious. Beryl quickly removed the gag. After twelve minutes words started to tumble out of the bound woman's mouth.
A peculiarity of this particular drug was that it made some people very vocal indeed and they often said a great deal without any prompting at all. Helen Berenger was one such a person. She immediately launched into her life story. Beryl and Liz listened with interest.
And what a story it was. It explained a great deal about the lady.
A very happy, early childhood. Then at age seven the father she loved, and who adored her, died suddenly and everything went bad. An uncaring mother packed her off to a remote, hugely expensive boarding school where the other girls, spoiled rich kids, had bitchiness down to a fine art. A few years later she went to another even more expensive place where things were even worse. Finally an obscenely costly finishing school where privileged young madams had made bitchy bullying behaviour into an art form.
After this hellish education the young Helen's troubles were not over. At age twenty two she was press ganged into an arranged marriage to a man from her mother's social strata. This partner was a drunken philanderer, completely insensitive and not above hitting his wife if it suited him. After over twenty years of marital hell he did the only decent thing he ever did in his wretched life. He died, leaving her comfortably wealthy.
And now she lived in her present affluent residence with Lily to attend her - and had attracted the attention of people like Beryl and Liz.
These two heard her life story with interest and even some sympathy. What a rotten youth and married life. No wonder she'd turned out the way she had.
But time was wasting, they needed that combination. Beryl whispered softly, quietly in the babbling woman's ear - what was it? Helen gave it without hesitation. Both noted this reputedly unkind, bad tempered woman seemed to instinctively respond to kindness.
By now the drug was losing its effectiveness. Helen would soon be awake but they had what they needed. Liz gagged her once more, laid her out on the bed beside Lily and securely tied her to the head and footboard as she had the maid. Beryl took the combination figures and went into the lounge. Her partner made both mistress and maid as comfortable as she could, even arranging the pillows under their heads and then went and joined her.
Fifteen minutes later the pair returned and looked looked at the bound captives. Both the holdall and Beryl's capacious handbag now contained the items which had been the reason for their visit. And a few other things as well.
"Well ladies, time for us to go," smiled Beryl. "We've enjoyed our visit and thank you for your co-operation." Both women writhed and squirmed. Lily, still blindfolded, was only glad they were leaving. Helen Berenger glared at her. She was dimly aware of being drugged but was uncertain what had happened from there. Lily, who had been conscious throughout, must have the full story. "But," said their captor, "There is one more thing to be done."
This time it was Liz who produced a surgical needle, checked it and then efficiently injected Lily. The startled maid twitched and grunted, but it was done before she realized it. "Just a harmless anesthetic," re-assured Beryl. "You'll sleep for a few hours without any ill effects whatsoever."
And this was so. Lily's eyes closed and she began to lose consciousness. Beryl and Liz watched her for a while and began to untie her. They folded everything used to restrain her and put it away in the holdall. Finally took off the maid's cap and placed it on the pillow beside its sleeping owner.
"Nice to have met you Helen," said Beryl to the bound and fuming lady of the house who glowered at her over her gag. "We're removing a few items from your safe." She patted her handbag. "Most you can afford to lose. Some you may even get back again." She smiled enigmatically.
Liz , meanwhile had donned the raincoat she had worn into the house less than two hours before and picked up the holdall. "I'll go first," she said to Beryl. The two had agreed to leave the house separately so as not to attract attention. "It's started to rain again," she nodded toward the window down which raindrops were running. "You'd better put that on." She indicated the waterproof Beryl had carried over her arm when she came to the home then turned and walked out. At the front door she looked at the increasing downpour, then helped herself to one of Mrs Beringer's umbrellas from the stand inside the doorway.
Beryl watched her walk down the pathway from the window. She began to put on her own raincoat and looked down at the bound and helpless Helen Berenger who stared mutely back at her.
"Lily will sleep soundly for a couple of hours and then she'll be able to untie you. We, of course will be long gone by then." She smiled as she did up the buttons.
"You may be interested to know that a few months ago I met a school acquaintance of yours," she murmured. Helen's eyes flashed.
"One, Letitia St Clair," naming one of the more sadistic bullies in the hell-hole of a finishing school Helen attended who had been mentioned in the earlier drugged outpouring. "I visited her to relieve her of some jewellery and other items, and like you, I found her to be a complete and utter bitch." She smiled again as she did up the raincoat belt. "And, you may be pleased to know, I tied her up a lot more tightly, and uncomfortably than you are now. And gagged her with a pair of her own underpants. She was in that situation for nearly five hours before anyone found her."
She adjusted her hat, straightened her wet weather coat and picked up her handbag. "Normally Helen, I again never see the people I visit but perhaps you'll be different. We'll see."
And Beryl turned and walked out of the house into the rain.
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