The arrival of
the Munro sisters at Nordberg Mansion was more like the start of
a long anticipated visit by a pair of close friends than the
beginning of a job. Kenzy and Sam were used to being
treated as professionals by most clients (or with skepticism by
that minority of their potential employers that were still
sexist fossils), but cheery smiles and effusive hugs and kisses
was a novel experience.
As for the work-site... Nordberg Mansion was huge!
Thirty bedrooms? Twenty bedrooms and a grand
ballroom? Maybe. Time would tell. In any case,
the structure was undeniably grand in classic Gothic
Revival style, with the prerequisite spires, filials, arches,
lancet windows, cast-iron balustrades, etc., etc., mostly in red
brick, sculpted concrete, and cast iron. The exterior
looked like it was in good shape with no obvious repair
issues. As for the roof, plumbing, wiring, heating system,
fireplaces, chimneys, windows, doors, and the interior
woodwork... only time would tell (as well as a detailed
Anyway, after the "Arrival Ceremony" Kenzy and Sam were given a
brief tour of the most used portions of the mansion. Next,
they were assigned spacious, even luxurious bedrooms.
Fortunately, it turned out the Nordbergs did have a
complete set of plans for the structure, which would kick-start
their efforts, and the alleged "complete workshop" the sisters
had been promised was an outbuilding with a complete suite of
workstations and power tools and cabinets full of hand
tools. Everything was decades old, but by all appearances
the machines had been well-maintained and were fully functional.
As for their employers... once they had a chance to compare
notes the Munro sisters agreed that in terms of demeanor (and
looks) they'd hit the proverbial jackpot.
Nora, the matriarch of the family and their boss-of-record,
already had a prioritized list of the work she thought needed to
be done; however, she'd made it clear that she was open to
suggestions and emphatically agreed that a full inspection was
the first priority. Personally, she couldn't be
nicer. She invited the Munro sisters to take full
advantage of the mansion's amenities—like the full-size indoor
pool, the fully equipped gym, and the five miles of local
running/hiking trails—and if they desired, they were more than
welcome to join the family's regular yoga and Tai chi sessions.
Kenzy and Sam readily agreed. (Neither had experience with
yoga or Tai chi, but they were curious.)
Nora's niece Gabby (Gabriel) managed (helped manage) the
Nordberg trust fund and other family affairs (in various
manners). She was also friendly and seemed especially
eager to show Kenzy and Sam the running trails.
Danica, Nora's daughter, was initially shy, but quickly warmed
to the Munros, especially Sam (who by all appearances was
roughly her own age). When Kenzy proposed they start the
job by her sitting down with Nora and Gabby to go over their
list of needed work while Sam conducted an initial room-by-room
survey, Danica immediately volunteered to accompany Sam, man a
clipboard, and take detailed notes.
"Surely it'll be good to have somebody along who already
knows the place," Danica suggested.
Sam frowned (a little, probably for effect), and shrugged.
"Whatever... but don't call me Shirley."
Nora and Gabby grinned, Kenzy smiled and rolled her eyes, and
Danica giggled. The Nordberg and Munro "youngsters" were
off to a good start.
Oh-by-the-way, it turned out Danica was a painter, and after
seeing a few of her works the Munro sisters agreed she was
really good! Also, her art was a modest commercial
success. She had a website and her watercolors and oils
were featured at three different regional galleries.
(Acting as Danica's artistic agent was one of Gabby's
aforementioned family duties.)
Also oh-by-the-way, there was a fourth resident of
Nordberg Mansion, a 40-something woman by the name of Kimiko
Sano, and it was she who was the principal manager of the
Nordberg trust fund and kept their finances organized.
Gabby readily admitted that actually she was Kimiko's assistant
in most money matters. At the moment Kimiko was on one
of her regular trips to New York, but was expected to return to
the mansion in a few days. During the initial house tour
Danica had shown Kenzy and Sam a stunning oil portrait she'd
painted of "Kimiko-sama," and they agreed she was gorgeous,
as well as impressively regal. (Also, and not
surprisingly, she was Japanese).
And although it had no real impact on their professional
obligations, the Munro sisters agreed that the Nordbergs were very
easy on the eyes. Physically fit and curvaceous
blondes with gorgeous features and friendly dispositions?
What wasn't to like? Refurbishing the Nordberg Mansion
looked like it was going to be great fun.
Also (and secretly), the Nordbergs agreed that the Munro
sisters were very easy on the eyes. Physically fit
and curvaceous redheads with delightful dispositions and
apparently oblivious of their own gorgeous good looks?
What wasn't to like? Watching them putter around the
mansion was going to be a lot of fun (as well as a
|The Perils of CONTRACTING
|| Chapter 2
The very next
day the Munro sisters went to work... after a hearty breakfast
of bacon, sausages, eggs, toast, and coffee, of course.
Nora had given Kenzy the use the mansion's "Little Library" as
her construction office (as opposed to the "Library," a
two-story space that was three times its size.) She set up
her laptop and writing materials on one of the library's two
reading tables and used the other to spread out the
plans. Nora and Gabby sat down with her and the
three started going over the project outline in earnest.
Meanwhile, after making a show of griping and moaning about her
big sister's despicable habit of making her do all the
real work (which the Nordbergs found highly
entertaining), Sam and her blonde assistant (Danica) departed to
start on the room-by-room survey.
Sam was wearing her medium-brown steel-toed work-boots (as she
was on the job), as well as turned down gray socks, a pair of
"Dusty Olive" cargo-shorts (with 4" inseams), and a tank-top
with horizontal pinstripes in salmon-pink, gray, and off-white
(with black piping). Her long ginger curls were pulled
back in a loose ponytail enforced by a black scrunchy.
Also (as she was on the job) her tool-belt was slung
across her hips, but at the moment it only held her flashlight,
tape-measure, circuit tester, and a compact multi-tool.
Danica the blonde assistant was wearing sneakers, anklets, a
pair of faded denim cutoffs (Daisy Dukes), and a Periwinkle-blue
tank-top. (She owned a nice pair of hiking boots, but they
weren't work boots (steel-capped or otherwise) and she had no
plans to procure any.) Her hair was parted down the center
and plaited in a pair of braids secured with fabric-covered
elastics. She was carrying the promised clipboard and
notepad but also had a messenger-bag slung over her shoulder
with pens, pencils, two additional pads, and her iPad, just in
case things got unavoidably digital.
Sam thought Danica looked disgustingly girly (but in a nice
way), while Danica thought Sam looked undeniably butch (but
in a nice way). Neither made their impression
known to the other.
Sam (being the seasoned professional that she was and therefore
in charge) decreed that they should start at the top and work
their way down, but at Nordberg Mansion that was easier said
than done. They'd already consulted the general plans and,
as might be expected with the complex roof-line (or roof-lines,
plural) of a Gothic Revival structure, some of the spires were
simply spires, while others were spires on top of low
towers. There was a veritable maze of attic
spaces, some connected and some not. Visiting each and
every one would require climbing up and down a lot of staircases
and traversing a lot of narrow back corridors. Sam's
guesstimate was it would take them at least the rest of the day
to visit all the towers and spires on their list, and possibly a
good chunk of tomorrow.
All went boringly well for the first two hours. There was
dust, even a few cobwebs, but Sam couldn't call the upper
reaches of the mansion filthy; however, she could and did call
the wiring they encountered antiquated and not up to present day
code. There was lighting in most spaces and power outlets
in a few, but the wiring was all insufficiently secured to the
exposed studs and the wires all had fabric insulation of the
kind not used since... the 1940's? Sam's recommendation to
her big sister would be that all attic wiring should be ripped
out and replaced using modern cabling and outlets, and with all
of it installed up to code, of course. Lighting was
another matter. The antique wiring and switches needed
replacement, no question, but replacing the overhead fixtures
and wall-sconces was largely a matter of style and therefore an
The bottom line was the wiring appeared to be
safe—there were no warm plugs or stretches of overtly frayed
insulation—but Sam wasn't happy with current running through any
system that was that many decades old. If it was
Sam's gigantic mansion she'd rip it all out, at
the very least.
Then, they arrived at the next tower on the list and... things
This particular one-story space was atop one of the more elegant
wings of the finished mansion and the door was darkly
stained and artistically carved in the full-blown Gothic style
and not utilitarian and starkly functional like all
previous doors leading to attic spaces. The room was
circular, about twenty-five feet across, and its contents
A row of lancet windows with stained glass panes lined the
west-facing walls and provided direct illumination. The
walls were darkly stained, like most of the finished mansion,
but unlike most of the finished mansion, they weren't
clad in paneling and/or wainscoting. Basically, the walls
were more vertical, horizontal, and diagonal exposed studs, but
they'd all been faced with strips of carved molding. The
final result was an unusual mix of decoration and exposed
structure. The floor was polished hardwood and in
reasonable condition, but it could use a good cleaning and
possibly needed refinishing. Overhead was the complex,
exposed bracing of the tower's tall, narrow spire, all of which
were also stained and clad in more carved molding, and at the
very top was a ring of square panes (a classic architectural
lantern). It provided more light, all of it indirect, and
there was an interesting pattern of light and shadow if one
There was furniture, something missing in all the previously
inspected attic spaces. It was all covered with linen dust
cloths, but appeared to be a pair of comfy wing-chairs, a café
table and three straight chairs, and a loveseat or small
sofa. All faced the center of the room. Against the
walls and between the three seating groupings were two
elaborately carved wooden wardrobes that were not
shrouded by dust cloths. Also...
Two steps into the room, Sam froze in place and stared at the
back wall, her green eyes blinking and a dazed expression on her
freckled face. "What the—?"
Sam was referring to some sort of giant contraption set
against the wall opposite the windows and hypothetical seated
spectators. It was an apparatus of cogwheels, escapements,
ratchets, pulleys, chains, etc. The circular elements were
on the scale of bicycle or cart wheels with a few even larger;
however the pulleys and chains were much smaller in scale,
meaning ¾" links with specialized pulley-wheels to match.
Sam quickly figured out the operation and purpose of the
mechanism... in general terms. It served to shorten or
lengthen four long chains wound on four round drums that ran
through a system of pulleys across the ceiling, two on the left
and two on the right. Then, on either side, one of the
chains ran down the wall and pooled on the floor while the other
stretched up to the base of the spire overhead, then dangled
nearly to the floor.
That was... weird... but what made it bizarre and alarming
was that all four chains terminated in what were obviously
hefty steel manacles or shackles!
So... clever handy-girl that she was, Sam could easily picture a
hypothetical person standing in the middle of the room, directly
under the peak of the spire and spotlighted by the glow of the
ring of lantern-windows overhead, her wrists and ankles captured
by the cuffs/manacles/shackles, and in a standing four-point
spread—and the stringency of that spread would depend on however
a hypothetical captor decided to turn the mechanism's main wheel
and adjust the mechanism!
Her eyes still wide, Sam continued staring at the gears and
chains and cuffs for several seconds... then turned to Danica
and asked the logical question: "What the hell??"
|The Perils of CONTRACTING
|| Chapter 2
Meanwhile, down in the Little Library
(aka Munro & Munro's Construction Office)...
"Before we get further into
the details," Nora addressed Kenzy, "there's something you need
to know. Something of a somewhat sensitive nature."
Gabby sat back in her chair and her smile broadened. "This
is where you tell her about our Terrible Family Secret, right?"
"Gabriel," Nora purred, "please be quiet. The adults are
talking." She was still smiling, but now a hint of
a blush colored her cheeks (maybe).
Kenzy looked from client to client (gorgeous blonde to gorgeous
blonde, older aunt to younger niece) and waited patiently.
Finally, Nora continued. "A select few of our ancestors
pursued an interest in what polite society would consider to be
highly questionable behavior. Nothing criminal, I
assure you, but—"
"Oh, please," Gabby chuckled. "Stop pussyfooting."
She focused her smile on Kenzy. "They were kinky."
Kenzy blinked a few times as she smiled back. "Kinky?"
"Kinky," Gabby nodded. "Specifically, they were into
bondage and related activities. Nothing extreme, of
course, and they were discrete and only indulged their kink with
a chosen set of like-minded friends and distant relatives,
but... they were definitely into it. There are
diaries and journals."
"I have them locked away in a safe place," Nora added.
"Nothing ever got out to the general public, so there were no
scandals or ruined reputations, and nobody went to prison or
disappeared into an insane asylum. Anyway, some of their,
uh, specialized furnishings are scattered about the
mansion in little-used areas, mostly the basements."
Kenzy had control of her blinking reflex, but her smile was a
little frozen She was still a little... rattled?
Rattled was as good a term as any. "What kind of
"There's a rack," Gabby said, "a bondage table, a
pillory..." She smiled at her aunt. "What am I
Nora's blush was now unmistakable. "There are also a few
dungeon cells with chains and such. I suppose we ought to
have it all ripped out and carted away, but heaven knows we
don't need the space. We already have more room than we
know what to do with. Anyway, I wanted you to know the
horrid stuff is there, so you'd be prepared. I don't
expect you and your sister to deal with any of it, and there's
already a great deal of work already on your list, so..."
Her blue eyes popped wide. "Oh!"
"What?" Gabby and Kenzy responded, more-or-less in unison.
"That room in the attic! In the tower above the greenhouse
wing!" Nora focused on her niece. "Samantha!"
"Don't worry," Gabby chuckled. "The Princess is with
her. Danica will explain, and Sam seems like a
level-headed and broad-minded youngster." She shifted her
smile to Kenzy. "Am I right?"
Kenzy nodded in agreement... then frowned. "Wait.
'Thing?' What thing?"
"I'll show you later," Gabby smiled. "It's nothing to
|The Perils of CONTRACTING
|| Chapter 2
up in the tower above the greenhouse wing...
perfectly reasonable question still hung in the air.
Danica was blushing and clearly in something of a fluster.
"Uh..." She consulted the clipboard in her hand (for some
reason)... then tucked her pencil behind her right ear, turned
to face the mechanism mounted on and against the back wall...
then turned back to Sam... then back to the mechanism.
"Well... Sam... there's something you need to know about my
Danica turned back to Sam. "They were... kinky."
Danica nodded (and continued blushing). Clearly, she was
nervous, possibly even discombobulated (slightly). "They
liked to play with, uh, stuff like..." She indicated the
gears and chains with a vague gesture. "This."
Sam was enjoying Danica's embarrassment (but not in a mean
way). She strolled to the nearest dangling cuff, bent at
the waist, and picked it up. Perhaps "cuff" wasn't the
best label for the thing. "Bracer" or "wrist-cast" might
be equally descriptive. It was shining steel, padded on
the inside with black leather, and a hypothetical wearer would
first grip a padded bar, then the two thick, heavy halves of the
cuff would close around her lower hands, wrists, and an inch or
two beyond. The chain was attached to the steel ring
dangling from upper back of the cuff by means of a D-shaped
shackle that secured with a barrel-style lock. As for the
cuff, its lock was also barrel-style, but at the moment the
thing was swinging open on its hefty hinge.
"You know where the key is, right?" Sam inquired.
Smiling nervously, Danica pointed at one of the wardrobes and
nodded. "In there."
Being a ginger-haired, freckled, and mechanically-minded tomboy,
Sam was curious. Without really thinking about it, she
grinned, then closed the fingers of her left hand around the
cuff's hand grip, swung the cuff closed around her wrist, then
pressed the slightly protruding barrel lock until it recessed
into the wall of the cuff with an authoritative click!
"Sam!" Danica gasped. "Why the hell did you do that?"
Sam smiled and shrugged. "Just inquisitive." She
strolled to the the diffuse circle of light streaming down from
the spire's lantern, taking the left chain with her, of course,
then pointed to the second cuff dangling on her
right. "A little help?"
Danica blinked her blue eyes several times, then heaved a sigh,
hurried to the cuff in question, picked it up, and carried it to
Sam's relocation had resulted in her left hand now loosely
dangling to the side, about two feet away from her left
hip. She held out her right hand and smiled at her blonde
assistant. "Do me," she ordered, wiggling her fingers.
Danica was still semi-flustered. "This is nuts," she
whined, but did as directed, holding the cuff open so Sam could
grasp the hand-grip. She then closed the cuff and pressed
the lock. Click!
"Thanks," Sam grinned at her blonde captor. "Now my feet."
Danica took a step back and crossed her arms under her
breasts. "This is stupid," she huffed.
"And nuts," Sam agreed, then tugged on her wrist
restraints. "It's just a demonstration."
"A stupid nuts demonstration," Danica countered, shaking her
head (and causing her blond braids to sway). "Also... I've
read the family journals and diaries, and..." She
indicated Sam with another vague, fluttering gesture.
"This is wrong. You're doing it wrong. You're
supposed to be completely naked." She then pointed at
Sam's feet. "Anyway, it's obvious the shackles are too
small to close over your boot-tops."
Sam was still smiling. "Too late to get totally naked,
unless you're gonna rip off my tank-top, but please don't.
I like this one." She lifted her right leg. "As for
my boots, the solution is obvious."
Still blushing (and semi-flustered), Danica rolled her blue
eyes, heaved a sigh, turned her back, and tucked Sam's lower leg
under her right arm. She quickly dealt with the boot's
double bow, loosened its laces, then slid the boot from Sam's
pointing foot, dropped the boot to the floor, and pulled off her
Still smiling, Sam wiggled her toes. Danica released her
leg and she planted her foot on the hardwood floor, lifted her
left leg, and Danica removed her left boot and sock. Sam
continued watching as Danica scampered to her left and returned
with the left shackle and chain, which she closed and locked
around Sam's left ankle. Click. Sam noted
1. Danica was very graceful and cute when she
scampered, especially with her hair in a pair of bouncing
Sam continued watching as Danica secured her right ankle in the
right cuff. Click.
2. Like the cuff/bracers on her wrists, the ankle-cuff
was thick, wide, and well-padded with black leather, but
unlike the wrist-restraints, it was a "regular" cuff, shackle,
or fetter that simply closed and locked around her ankle.
3. The chain was long enough that she was able to
continue standing with her feet only slightly apart.
"There," Danica stated. Her smile had returned, but she
was still blushing (a little). She gathered Sam's boots,
stuffed the socks inside. Then, still smiling, she
unbuckled and removed Sam's tool-belt, spun on her sneaker-clad
heels, and carried the boots, socks, and tool-belt to the
doorway and lined them up against the wall.
Sam remained behind in the center of the room (of course) in the
diffuse but literal spotlight. She was unable to bring her
hands any closer together unless she raised her arms and lifted
the chains higher; however, with her fingers still gripping the
hand-grips, they were functionally useless for purposes of
escape. Also, the chains were increasingly heavy when she
lifted her arms.
Meanwhile, Danica had strolled to the back wall and had a firm
grip on what was obviously the Master Hand-Wheel. "Ready?"
"Ready for what?" Sam responded. She was facing the lancet
windows, comfy-but shrouded spectator seating, and the two
wardrobes, so the machine was behind her back, requiring her to
look back over her shoulder to see what Danica was up to.
She noted that while the blonde was still a little nervous, she
didn't seem to be as flustered as she'd been before.
"Ready for this," Danica clarified, then began turning
the wheel. All of the machine's gear-wheels began turning
at different rates and the ratchet mechanisms making
noise. Click-click-click-click-click... As
designed, the chains shortened as they were wound onto the four
drums. In addition to all the spinning and clacking, heavy
counterweights were slowly dropping, augmenting Danica's efforts
with a gravity assist. Clearly, it was no great challenge
for the blonde to turn the wheel.
As for Sam... Click-click-click-click-click...
as the chains shortened link-by-link... her arms were being
slowly raised from what had only technically been a spreadeagle
into the genuine article! Also, her legs were being
inexorably pulled apart.... and soon Sam's predicament was a
full-blown conventional "X"-shaped standing spreadeagle... with
a stringent standing spreadeagle clearly on
the horizon! Sam considered making some sort of formal
protest, but she was the one who had wanted to play this game,
and she didn't want Danica to think she was a wimp.
Click-click-click. "That should do it," Danica said
as she stopped turning the wheel, threw a lever—Thunk!—and
a block dropped to lock the mechanism.
This was a good thing, because Sam's bare heels were now off the
floor, she was in a definite four-point stretch, and
was seriously reconsidering her stoic-silence/non-complaining
Smiling sweetly (and now with only the slightest hint of a rose
blush coloring her cheeks), Danica strolled to Sam's right...
carefully stepped over the lower chain and easily avoiding the
upper chain... and once again was standing in front of Sam with
her arms crossed under her breasts. "It's still not
right," she said.
Sam tugged on her wrist cuff-bracers and smiled back.
"What?" She tugged on her wrists again. "We already
talked about the naked part. Stretched isn't
"You're supposed to be gagged," Danica explained.
Sam blinked, once, then reasserted her totally unconcerned,
perfectly casual smile. "Why?"
"Why?" Danica's smile took a slightly sinister twist
(or maybe it was Sam's imagination). "To stifle your screaming,
of course," Danica purred. "Screaming can be so tedious
and annoying... or so my great grandmother wrote in her
diary." She spun on her sneaker-clad heels and strolled
towards the right wardrobe, swinging her hips in a brazenly
seductive manner (although that might also have been
Anyway, Danica swung open the right door of the wardrobe... and
Sam could clearly see a dozen or more leather and steel things
hanging on hooks in neat rows. Of course, what the
things actually were she had no idea. ... Okay, they
were all gags! Sam wasn't particularly
well-acquainted with bondage paraphernalia, but even she
recognized a row of five ball-gags with progressively
larger spherical mouth-plugs—three different panel-gags (one
with a chin cup, one with a chin-strap, and one without)—and
what she thought were two different and complicated head-harness
arrangements. Both had mouth-flaps with underlying
mouth-filling plugs, and one also had a dangling
Meanwhile, Danica had lifted a shiny steel something-or-other
off a hook, closed the wardrobe door, and was strolling
back. As she got closer Sam could clearly see that the
something in question was also a gag. It had a
bit, covered with what was probably black leather, and a "strap"
that was a semicircular steel band. Obviously, once in
place the whole thing would form a "D" with Sam biting down on
the leather bit and the band locked around her head to keep her
from spitting it out!
Sam frowned and shook her head. "No. No way.
How long has that thing been hanging in there? The leather
probably tastes... yucky."
Danica turned the bit-gag in her hands. "Probably," she
agreed, then her smile brightened, she reached into the right
rear-pocket of her cutoffs, and pulled out a neatly folded
cotton bandana. It was powder-blue with the traditional
white floral print.
Sam watched as Danica opened the bandana into one long four-part
folded strip, then began wrapping it around the black leather
padding of the bit. Her plan was obvious... and ominous.
"Danica, no," Sam objected. "Don't you dare—mrrrph!
"There, problem solved," Danica grinned as she thrust the now
doubly-padded bit into Sam's mouth and between her teeth, then
closed the band around her head and against the nape of her
neck! Sam's swaying and flopping ginger ponytail had been
easily avoided. The left side of the bit opened on a
cleverly hidden hinge and the right held the housing of yet
another barrel-style lock. Once in place—Click!—it
was one solid unit, and thankfully, was well within the
size-range of a squirming, complaining, head-tossing, truly
pissed-off damsel of Sam Munro's measurements. It
wasn't too tight, but Sam could tell that forcing the
thing out of her mouth without someone (Danica) unlocking the
band-strap was manifestly impossible.
"NRRRM!" Sam's furious green eyes shot imaginary,
razor-sharp, viridescent copper-alloy and knapped jade daggers
at her blonde assistant and now captor! The
combination of wrapped bandana and no doubt yucky leather
bit made for an effective gag. She just hoped Danica let
her go long before her spit soaked through the bandana and
filled her mouth with rancid-leather-flavored soup. She
kicked her fettered feet, twisted her hips, tugged on her
wrist-cuff/bracers, and continued staring imaginary sharp
blades. The chains swayed... but were too taut to rattle.
Danica was smiling (meaning gloating). "Wow. You're
really stuck, aren't you?"
Sam didn't dignify her captor's question with an unintelligible
answer, and since the phantasmal knives weren't working, she
shifted to imaginary ocular laser-beams (green, of
course). Unfortunately, they proved to be just as
ineffective. Danica continued smiling and gloating.
Sam supposed she could radically shift her approach and whimper
and moan while struggling in a pitiful, sympathy-engendering
manner, but tomboys don't whimper! Sam continued
"You seem unhappy," Danica chuckled. Her blue eyes were
sparkling and her smile was irritatingly gorgeous. Her
former nervousness had completely vanished.
Sam silently fumed, but then again, if somehow she did manage
to satisfy her lust for lethal imaginary revenge... Danica would
be lying dead on the hardwood floor and she'd still be
spreadeagled and gagged. She heaved a gagged sigh, gave
her wrist-cuffs one last tug... then cocked her gagged head to
the right and mewled what she hoped was an unmistakable request
to be released. "Mrrrf."
Danica got the message. She might be a gorgeous but
treacherous trickster, but she wasn't stupid. "Okay,
okay," she chuckled. "Wait here while I get the
key." She then spun on her sneakers and scampered back to
the right wardrobe.
Sam heaved another gagged-sigh and rolled her green eyes.
'Wait here.' Hilarious.
Danica opened the wardrobe's right door, again. Before,
Sam had been focused on the array of gags, but now she noticed a
vertical column of small, cubbyhole-size drawers inside the
wardrobe and against the closed left door. She suspected
the drawers acted as a divider between the gags on the right and
whatever was still hidden on the left. Danica turned,
struck a disgustingly charming pose, indicated one of the
drawers with a graceful flip of both hands, and smiled.
The drawer in question was about eye-level and its pull was in
the shape of a horizontal skeleton key.
In Sam's fuming, spreadeagled, and gagged opinion, the winsome
blonde had never looked cuter. Also, Sam really wanted
to give her a good smack up the side of her comely
"Taa-dah!" Danica declaimed, then took hold of the pull and slid
open the drawer. That was her intent, anyway. The
drawer didn't budge. Danica frowned and pulled
harder. The drawer still didn't budge.
"It's heavy," she complained, apparently for Sam's
benefit. "Either that or it's stuck." She took hold
with both hands and tried again. This time the drawer did
slide, but only about a half-inch. "Geesh, what's in
this thing?" She pulled harder, and—"Oh!—quickly
jumped back in alarm!
The drawer had abruptly slid all the way out, fallen to the
floor, broken into three or more pieces, and scattered what had
to be more than a hundred barrel-lock keys across the
Danica stared down at the multitude of keys... then turned and
stared at Sam, blinking her blue eyes in astonishment (see also
dismay), then knelt and started sorting through the gleaming
metallic pile... picking up the keys one at a time and examining
them... then dropping them again.
"They're all different!" she whined.
From the middle of the room (in a standing spreadeagle and
gagged) all Sam could tell was that the keys all appeared to be
of the barrel-lock variety, the same size, and were shining
steel. She'd have to take her blonde captor's word for it
that they weren't actually identical.
Danica continued sorting through the keys. "Different
numbers," she whimpered. "No labels! No tags.
There's just supposed to be one key!" She turned
to face Sam. "What should I do? I'll have to try them
one by one! That'll take... forever!"
Sam tugged on her wrists (for no good reason). Her
nefarious abductor seemed to be on the verge of tears... which
was incredibly cute but did nothing to help find the right key.
Suddenly, Danica stood, took a step away from the scattered keys
and probably irreparably damaged drawer, then turned to face
"I know what to do!" Danica announced, then turned and scampered
out of the room, closing the door behind her. Thud.
Sam watched as Danica made her exit—then sighed, blinked her
green eyes, and tugged on her wrist-bracer-cuffs, causing the
attached chains stretching up to the pulley's overhead to sway a
I guess the suggestion that I should 'wait here' still
applies, she decided.
Perils of CONTRACTING