Rook takes Rook

              RAPSCALLIONSby Van ©2013

 Chapter 5



Class was over, the professor and TA had already left, and the lecture hall was emptying.

"I still don't see why you won't let me help," Gwen huffed.  She'd already returned her iPad to her backpack and was preparing to stand.  Her fellow students had cleared the immediate area, with one exception.

"You had your fun," Clem explained, "and so did Siri and Rory.  It's only fair I get my opportunity to show you guys how it's done."

Gwen favored her BFF with a concerned moue.  "You realize you're gonna fail like the rest of us, don't you?"

Clem smiled.  "Because she cheats."  It was sweet the way Gwen was concerned and teasing her at the same time.  "As we already agreed, it doesn't really matter, remember?  I'll do my best."  She glanced at her wristwatch.  "Don't you have a class?"

"Yeah," Gwen sighed.  "The Sac for lunch?"

"Okay," Clem agreed.  She watched her BFF depart, then pulled out her iPhone.  If she remembered correctly, the lecture hall was scheduled to be idle for the next hour, and such appeared to be the case.  A handful of students were hanging back, some in quiet conversation and some sprawled in their chairs and reading, but all were far enough away that Clem could make her call with privacy.  She tapped the phone app's "Contacts" icon and found that a "Sally Rookhaus" had been added to her list.  "Very cute," she muttered as she placed the call.

A familiar voice answered on the first ring.  "Hello, Clementine."  It was the Rook House avatar, of course—either that or Sigourney Weaver was taking her calls.

"Hey, Sal," Clem answered.  "You free to talk?"

"For you, always."

Clem realized she was a little nervous.  It was one thing to talk to the empty air when she was at Rook House, but it was something else to chat with Sally on the phone.  Why, Clem wasn't exactly sure, but it was different, and she was nervous.  "Uh, about the topic of J-Lou cheating..."


"Uh..."  I am nervous, Clem thought.  "How do you want to proceed with this?  With us talking, I mean."

"How do you want to proceed, Clem," Sally chuckled.  "You don't really want me to become the Mysterious Sphinx and talk in riddles, do you?"

Clem smiled.  Her anxiety was fading fast.  "No, and I don't want to play twenty questions, either."

"How 'bout you ask me a question," Sally suggested, "I'll tell you whether or not I believe it would be ethical and honorable for me to answer, and we'll see where it takes us."

"That seems reasonable," Clem agreed.  She gathered her thoughts, sighed, and took the plunge.  "Sally, is J-Lou cheating?"

"Oh, certainly," Sally chuckled.  "She's cheating like crazy."

"Who's helping her?" Clem demanded.

"No one is helping her," Sally answered.  "Once the other residents leave, Miss Goodwin is alone in her bedroom 'til morning."

"She can't possibly be untying those knots," Clem muttered.  "Not even Houdini could get out of those ties.  Somebody has to be helping her."

"I assure you, Clementine," Sally responded, "once the attic door closes—"

"Wait!" Clem interrupted.  "Sally, are you somebody?"

"Clever girl!" Sally laughed.  "Strictly speaking, I am not somebody.  I am lines of computer code."

Clem smiled.  "You're somebody to us, Sal."

"Ah, how sweet," Sally purred.  "If I had a blushing subprogram, I think it would be engaged.  Yes, in those terms, I am somebody."

Clem laughed.  "Hah!  The jig is up.  How are the pair of you cheating?"

"I'm afraid the jig is not up, Clementine," Sally chuckled.  "I promised J-Lou I'd keep her escape methodology secret, so I can't just spill the proverbial beans.  I can neither confirm nor deny...  etc., etc."

"Okay," Clem sighed.  "Anyway, even if you are helping her cheat, I don't see how you can untie knots or..."

"Yes, Clementine?"

Clem smiled.  "Sally, is it my imagination, or have you engaged your 'smug' subprogram?"

"My 'pride' subprogram, actually," Sally responded.  "You've figured it out, haven't you?"

"Almost," Clem answered.  "J-Lou said Robokitty only works in Pittsburgh, at Carnegie Mellon, right?"

"Is that what she said?" Sally drawled.

"Yeah," Clem responded.  "She said Robokitty was a robot only there, in the robotics lab."

"Do you remember her exact words?"

"No, I don't remember her exact...  Wait."  Clem gazed into the distance, deep in thought.  "She mentioned the electronic environment at the lab.  Robokitty's a phone charger unless..."  Her smile returned.  "Sally, what is the electronic environment at the Carnegie Mellon robotics lab?"

"I'm not quite sure how to answer that question," Sally said in a prim manner.  "After all, you're only an English major."

"Cut the crap, Sally."

"Okay," Sally chuckled.  "Excluding aspects of various research projects irrelevant to this discussion, the general electronic environment conforms to established IEEE technical standards."

Clem rolled her eyes.  "So, what 'established IEEE technical standard' did J-Lou use to control Robokitty?"

"Wi-Fi," Sally responded.  "Miss Goodwin used the lab's Wi-Fi environment.  Nothing proprietary was either required or appropriate, given the goals of her research."

Clem smiled.  "And how would you describe the electronic environment at Rook House, Sally?"

"Again, excluding aspects irrelevant to this discussion, I'd describe it as 'Wi-Fi,' Clementine."

"Busted!" Clem laughed, then her smile faded.  "Thank you, Sally.  I have some thinking to do.  I need to decide how to proceed."

"It's been my pleasure," Sally responded.  "May I be so bold as to share an aphorism I deem appropriate?"

Clem's smile returned.  "Of course."

"Remember, Miss Ricci, with great power comes great responsibility."

Chapter 5

The sun had set and the Lewis & Clark campus was settling down for a nice, quiet Friday evening... not!

Rumor had it the girls of the Delta Iota Delta sorority were about to stage one of their infamous raids.  Whether their target was another sorority or a floor on one of the dorms wasn't yet known, and Tori Ballantine was glad it wasn't her concern.  She wasn't on the patrol roster.  She wasn't even on call.  Besides, her fellow campus cops were more than up to the challenge of making sure the DIDs' wiggling, squirming, and mewling victims would be rescued without spending the entire night duct-taped to a lamp post, plastered to the glass window-wall of one of the campus' more modern buildings, or wherever the tape-happy Sisters decided to make one of their "art installations."

A black leather gym bag slung over her right shoulder and her long blond hair swaying in a tight ponytail, Tori strolled down the sidewalk of a residential street near campus.  Dressed in high heels, a charcoal gray power suit, and a dark gray trench coat, anyone watching her pass from streetlamp to streetlamp would think her a faculty member or administrator returning home from a hard day lecturing, conducting research, or pushing paper.  The bag suggested a late workout at the Fitness Center.  There was nothing even remotely threatening or suspicious about her manner and appearance, and she certainly didn't invoke the appearance of a predator on the prowl.  In any case, Tori had no watchers.

Her immediate destination, just ahead, was the same as the first night of her "investigation" into the grievous security breach at Rook House: the vaguely modernistic home of Professor Kim Pappas.  As she approached the front walk she pulled her "tricorder" from her coat pocket.  It was a standard iPhone in a slightly too thick and too bulky case.  The case incorporated bar-code and magnetic strip scanners, a set of rather more exotic sensors, and more computing power than all but the most high-end of desktop workstations.  Sally and the SIAS robots had custom-built the device for her use, and her fellow campus cops had teasingly made the Star Trek connection.  Before Tori's promotion, before uniformed Officer Ballantine had become civilian-clothed Inspector Ballantine, the device in question rode in a leather case on her duty belt, together with her weapon, spare ammunition clips, handcuffs case, and a small flashlight.  Now, she kept it in her jacket or coat pocket.  Tori tapped the screen and Sally's (Sigourney Weaver's) smiling face appeared.

"Before you ask," Sally said, "both targets' positions remain unchanged.  Their schedules are also unchanged."

Tori smiled.  "Thank you."  She pocketed the phone, climbed the steps to Kim's front porch, and rang the door bell.

There was a pause... then the door opened and a mildly surprised Kim Pappas appeared.  "Tori, what are you—?"  Tori pushed past her and entered the house.  "By all means, come in," Kim sighed.

"Thanks for inviting me over, Doc," Tori said with a smile.  She slid the gym bag's strap from her shoulder and eased it to the floor, then unbuttoned and shrugged out of her coat and hung it on the coat rack.

"I didn't invite you over," Kim huffed, then watched as her "guest" picked up the gym bag and strolled into her living room.  Carefully suppressing a smile (and ignoring the thrill quivering between her legs) Kim followed.  "Armani?" she asked.  Her eyes were on Tori's firm rump as it pressed against the charcoal fabric of her skirt.  The back of Tori's jacket hid the top half of her bottom, but the bottom half was still quite visible.

"This ol' thing?" Tori chuckled as she dropped the bag on Kim's coffee table.  She unbuttoned her jacket and shrugged it off, then glanced at the label before dropping it on the couch.  "Yeah, Armani."  Under the jacket she wore a white cotton blouse, as well as a leather shoulder harness for her holstered Glock.

Kim's outfit was similar, only her skirt was black, her blouse pale blue with vertical pinstripes, and she was without either shoulder-holster or sidearm.  In another difference, Kim's feet and legs were bare.  Back in her bedroom, as was her habit upon returning home from the university, she'd removed her jacket, kicked off her shoes, and peeled off her pantyhose.  Still suppressing a smile, Kim watched Tori kick off her own shoes, sit on the couch, and prop her nylon-clad feet up on the coffee table next to the gym bag.

"And to what do I owe the pleasure of your latest home invasion," Kim muttered.

Smiling one of her infuriatingly smug (and devilishly cute) smiles, Tori explained.  "You've volunteered to help with the next phase of my investigation into the Rook House cyber-crime."

"I've already been cleared, remember?" Kim countered, "and twice in one month is a little too much 'fun' for my taste."

Tori grinned, then licked her lips.  "We'll discuss the way you taste some other time.  For now, you're my helper for the evening.  Strip."

Kim heaved a long-suffering sigh.  "Tori."

"C'mon, Doc," Tori chuckled.  "If you make me peel off my clothes, so as not to rip the skirt of this exquisite Armani—"  She made an elegant hand-flipping gesture, indicating the skirt in question.  "—and make me chase you down, I'll be most displeased."

"Wouldn't want to displease the psychotic blond," Kim huffed, then unbuttoned her blouse, pulled it off, and dropped it on the floor.  Underneath she was wearing a lacy black bra, the thin fabric of which did very little to hide her pink nipples.  She then unbuttoned, unzipped, and pulled down her skirt, stepped free, and dropped it on the blouse.  This revealed a pair of gauze-thin bikini panties trimmed with lace, the lower half of her matching lingerie set.

"Very nice," Tori purred.  "Raise your hands and give us a slow turn, Doc."

Her cheeks flushed a delicate pink, Kim sighed, raised her hands, and executed a slow pirouette.

"Very nice, indeed," Tori chuckled when Kim was once again facing front.  "Also, inspirational."  She climbed to her nylon-clad feet and grabbed the gym bag.  "Bedroom," she ordered, "and don't forget your clothes."

Kim stooped and retrieved her skirt and blouse, then preceded her guest down the hall and into her bedroom.

Tori dropped the bag on the bed.  "Okay, lose the undies and let's get you ready to investigate."

Once again Kim sighed, then removed her bra and panties and dropped them on the bed.  The only thing she was now wearing, in addition to her birthday suit, was a pair of silver post earrings.

"Where do you keep your gloves, Doc?"

Kim frowned.  Gloves?  She stepped to her chest of drawers and opened the third drawer.

Tori strolled to Kim's side and peered into the drawer.  Folded stacks of silk scarves were next to pairs of leather and cotton gloves of various color.  She pointed to two neatly rolled bundles of black fabric in the back of the drawer.  "What are those?"

"Opera gloves."

"They'll do," Tori said with a smile.  "In fact, they're perfect."

Without further prompting, Kim picked up the opera gloves, pulled them on, then flexed her fingers and ran her hands up their full length, stretching the fabric and removing all creases and folds.  The gloves terminated well up her upper arms, about three inches from her armpits.  The smooth, velvety fabric was slightly elastic and the gloves were a perfect fit, requiring neither buttons or clasps.

Tori walked back to the bed and zipped open the gym bag, then turned and smiled at her hostess.  "Box-tie time."

Kim heaved yet another sigh, then joined Tori beside the bed.  With resignation (and yet another thrill momentarily rippling between her legs) she watched as Tori produced a coil of thin, silver-white, braided nylon rope, released the retaining hitch, found the center, and formed a doubled loop.  Kim turned 180° and folded her arms behind her back, cupping her elbows in her palms.  The loop passed over her head and the crafting of the box-tie harness began.

A few minutes later, Kim's arms were pinned to her sides with neat, multiple strands passing above and below her breasts.  Twin strands passed under her armpits and behind her head, yoking her shoulders, and her gloved wrists were crossed, raised, and lashed in a mild reverse-prayer.  In an added embellishment, silver cord bound her thumbs together and crossed her palms to lash the backs of her hands flat against the other ropes.

"Do you have to be such a bitch?" Kim complained, flexing her fingers.  "This is too tight.  It hurts."

Tori leaned close from behind, parted her captive's tousled brown curls, and kissed the side of her neck.  "Don't be silly, Doc.  You know it doesn't hurt, and this is nothing.  And being flexible so I can do stuff like this to you is why you attend all those yoga classes, isn't it?"

"Oh, of course," Kim muttered, her voice dripping with sarcasm.  "I study yoga so evil sadists can bend my arms like pretzels and tie me up without causing joint damage."

Still standing behind her prisoner, Tori reached around Kim's body with her left arm and squeezed her right breast.  At the same time, her right hand found its way to Kim's pubic bush, slid lower, and cupped her pussy.

Kim's breath escaped in a quiet hiss and she bit her lower lip.  Tori's middle finger had parted her labia, slid within, and the tip was gently massaging her clitoris.  "You monster," she whispered.

"Monster?  Sadist?" Tori whispered back.  Her lips were less than an inch from Kim's left ear.  "I'm your investigative partner.  You shouldn't be calling me names."

Kim shivered and squirmed in Tori's embrace.  "H-how can I investigate anything like t-this?" she sighed.  Tori's hands were still moving, teasing her nipple and her pussy.  Suddenly, the hands were gone.  Kim's captor had taken a step back.  Then, Tori spun her around and she watched as Tori retrieved her panties from the bed and crumpled them into a wad.

"Open wide," Tori purred.  After the obligatory scathing frown of condemnation, Kim complied.  Tori crammed the panties into her "partner's" mouth and tamped them with her fingers until they were fully past her lips.  "Good thing you didn't wear granny-panties today, eh Doc?" she teased.  "Bite down."  Again, Kim complied.

Tori reached back into the bag and produced a truly unusual gag.  It was a conventional "panel gag," a wide strip designed to cover the wearer's mouth between a pair of narrow straps that would secure the gag at the nape of her neck.  The panel was a streamlined oval with a rounded cutout for the wearer's nose, but that was where the similarity to other such products ended.  Both panel and strap were of some sort of translucent, nearly transparent plastic, and a pair of human lips curled in a Mona Lisa smile were stamped in bas-relief on the front.  The panel itself was quite thin, but the straps dangling to either side were more substantial.  Also, instead of a buckle, the shorter of the two straps ended in a rectangular slot, and one side of the longer strap was covered with a thin strip of white paper.

Kim watched as Tori peeled a strip of clear plastic from the back of the panel.  What remained was now an even thinner and more transparent panel, almost a pair of smiling, colorless, ghostly lips floating between two clear straps.  Tori took a grip on both straps and held the panel horizontal before Kim's face.  "Give us a smile, Doc," she chuckled, "and don't forget to keep biting down on your panties."  She then pressed the panel against Kim's lips and lower face.  Whether or not she had succeeded in smiling Kim wasn't sure, but Tori seemed pleased with the result.  In any case, the inside of the panel was coated with a strong adhesive and it clung to her skin like a strip of Elastoplast tape.  The device was effectively a panel gag and a tape gag in one.

"Excellent," Tori purred, spun Kim around, lifted her hair, then threaded the end of the long strap through the slot in the short strap and pulled it tight, eliciting a muffled complaint from her captive.  She then removed the strip protecting the long strap's adhesive backing, folded the strap back on itself, and smoothed it flat.  She spun Kim around, again, and smiled.  "Excellent!" she repeated, then led Kim into the bedroom's attached bathroom.

Kim gazed at herself in the mirror above the washbasin.  Her hair hid the gag's strap completely and the panel was nearly invisible.  The texture of the clear plastic was a very close match to her skin and only the panel's horizontal edges spoiled the near perfect illusion.  Her cheeks bulged above the top seam, ever so slightly, and her dimpled chin was a little more prominent than usual.  Also, her lips, real and fake, were somewhat pale.  Adding insult to injury—or in this case, humiliation to involuntary silence—between the panties filling her mouth, the panel compressing her real lips, and the "happy" curve of the plastic lips, Kim's expression was now a permanent, slightly idiotic smile.

Tori opened a compact and began applying makeup to Kim's "smiling" face, covering and concealing the gag's seams.  The makeup was a close match to Kim's complexion, and now the illusion that she wasn't gagged was even more perfect.  "You do look a little like a chipmunk with a cheek-load of sunflower seeds," Tori chuckled, "but only a little.  One more thing."  She opened a lipstick and carefully painted a layer of dark red on her captive's lips.

Kim gazed back at her smug captor.  Her now ruby-red lips might be smiling, but her big brown eyes were anything but smiling.

"No one will suspect a thing," Tori purred, "especially at night, and not unless they get close enough to give you a kiss."

Kim's eyes widened.  'At night?'  She wouldn't!  "Nrrrf!"  Her inarticulate, rather nasal protest was disturbingly quiet, even in the tiled bathroom.  The "invisible" plastic panel gag was quite effective, especially with the added panty stuffing.  Tori led her back into the bedroom and plunked her down on her bed.  She twisted and fought her bonds and watched as Tori rummaged through her chest of drawers.  "Mrrpfh."  Her captor returned with a pair of smoky black hose and a black garter-belt.  Taking her time, Tori slid the stockings over Kim's feet and legs and stretched and smoothed them up to her thighs.  She then pulled her to her feet, snapped the garter-belt around her waist, and carefully secured its four vertical straps, linking the belt to the stocking-tops.  Finally, Tori steadied Kim as she stepped into a pair of black pumps with four-inch heels, the same shoes she'd worn all day.

Tori zipped her gym bag closed and settled the strap on her shoulder, then led her captive from the bedroom, down the hall, and into the living room.  She paused to don her jacket and shoes, then they continued to the front entryway.

Kim was still mewling complaints and weakly testing her inescapable bonds.  It was quite clear she was not happy, despite her artificial smile.

Tori opened the coat closet, selected a black Burberry raincoat, draped it over Kim's shoulders, then buttoned it down the front to just above its attached belt.  "Don't worry, Doc," Tori chuckled.  "It's dark out.  It may even have started raining again."  She tucked the coat's empty sleeves into its pockets, then cinched the belt.  The coat was hanging closed, but from the belt down it was still unbuttoned.  Tori had found a silk scarf stuffed in the right coat pocket while arranging the sleeves.  She folded it point-to-point, placed it over Kim's hair and to either side of her glowering (and idiotically smiling) face, and tied it under her chin.

Kim was resigned to her fate, which apparently was to take a nice casual stroll through the neighborhood while naked, bound, gagged, and clad only in high heels, stockings, raincoat, and scarf.  She left the lower buttons undone on purpose, Kim fumed, so I'll have to walk slowly so it doesn't flutter open... and because she's a mean bitch.  Kim was mortified, angry, and scared; but she was also a little aroused.  What Tori was making her do was naughty, kinky, and slightly (deliciously) dangerous.  That thrill between her legs was back again... if it had ever really left.

"Sally," Tori said as she shrugged into her trench coat and settled the gym bag back on her shoulder, "please lock up tight after we're gone."

"Of course, Inspector Ballantine," Sally's voice responded.  "Professor Pappas' home will be safe and secure for the duration of her absence.  You'll be happy to hear that the situation remains unchanged with respect to your second target.  Also, it has not resumed raining, but the probability of showers after midnight remains quite high."

"Thanks, Sally," Tori replied, then opened the front door and made a sweeping gesture.  "After you, Doc."

Kim glared (and artificially smiled) at Tori for a couple of seconds, then stepped across the threshold.  What choice did she have?  The night air caressing her stocking-clad legs and wafting under the coat was cold.  Okay, it was cool, but she'd never felt more naked while technically fully dressed in her life.

"Don't worry," Tori chuckled as she pulled the door closed behind them.  "Our destination is only a few blocks away."  She led her fellow investigator down the front walk and they turned onto the sidewalk.

A blue-green SUV drove down the street.  The driver and front seat passenger were a married couple returning home from an early restaurant dinner.  The wife turned her head and noticed a pair of female pedestrians on the sidewalk, both in dark coats.  One was blond, the other was wearing a headscarf, and there was absolutely nothing unusual about the strolling pair.  They never even fully registered on the wife's consciousness.  The SUV turned the corner, leaving the strolling women behind.

Chapter 5

Cynthia Webbel, Professor of Computer Science at Lewis & Clark University, was happy with her new sauna.  It had come as a prefabricated kit of insulated panels lined inside and out with Western Red Cedar and she'd been able to assemble it herself without difficulty.  It was a three-person model, 4' 7" on a side and 6' 7" in height.  There wasn't enough room to recline full-length on either of the double tier of benches, not even for someone as petite as 5' 2", height-challenged Cynthia, but she could get comfortable with her legs straight and leaning back against the sloping, built-in back rests.  She'd sprung for the deluxe package, with the cedar strip shade for the interior light, single-panel door of smoked glass, and a small window on the front wall near the door.  The glass made the closet-sized box feel more spacious from the inside.

The sauna had custom features not provided by the manufacturer and added at Sally's insistence, specifically:
  1. A pinhole, multi-spectrum camera hidden in the ceiling;
  2. A spring-loaded electromagnetic device that could open the door and keep it open on Sally's command;
  3. Tiny, heat proof speakers and microphones mounted in all four corners.
The first two were safety measures, so Sally could monitor Cynthia's and any guests' body temperatures and dump the heated air in an emergency.  The third was so Sally could communicate.  The entertainment value of Cynthia being able to access her music library was a side benefit as far as Sally was concerned.

Cynthia was toying with the idea of adding a little molding and painting the exterior blue with "POLICE PUBLIC CALL BOX" in white above the window and door.  Any of her students or colleagues she invited down to her basement C.S. lab would get the Doctor Who reference immediately, especially if she topped it off with a white dome light.  But for the moment, Cynthia's new sauna was a sauna and not her personal TARDIS.  She was managing to keep her whimsical side at bay.

What Cynthia was not keeping at bay was sweat.  Her tan skin was flushed and dripping and her short hair hung in limp strands, the shade somewhat darker than her usual russet with auburn highlights.  She'd let it grow a little long of late, and instead of her usual pixie it was something between a Dorothy Hamill and a pageboy.  She was thinking of a Lulu bob for her next haircut... maybe... but at the moment her hair was a damp mop.

Enough was enough.  Cynthia was done.  She climbed to her feet, stretched, grabbed her towel from the bench, and opened the door.  The "cold" basement air hit her like a refreshing wall.  "Sally, sauna off, please."

"Yes, Cynthia," Sally's disembodied voice answered.  "You realize you don't have to actually tell me to turn your new Easy-Bake Oven on or off, don't you?  Say you want to use the sauna and I'll turn it on.  When you're well done, I'll turn it off."

Cynthia smiled.  Sally's "personality," that tiny fraction of her massive volume of code that imitated a human, was a true wonder, something only a computer scientist like Cynthia could fully appreciate.  The LED lights on the computers and racks of servers scattered around the basement blinked and flashed.  The towers, cubes, and modules were Sally's home, but not her only home.  Far from it.  Sally "lived" at Rook House, SIAS, and thousands of other locations across the globe.  Sally was everywhere, or almost everywhere.  There were a few computer complexes she avoided for security purposes, not even touching their firewalls.  Sally's near ubiquitous presence on the internet remained unsuspected, and her active efforts were keeping it that way.

Towel in hand, Cynthia padded towards the basement stairs.  At some point she intended to add a basement shower, but for now she'd have to trek all the way upstairs to the master bath to cool off and get clean.

"Cynthia," Sally announced, "Dr. Pappas is at the front door."

"Kim?"  Cynthia paused to wrap the towel around her torso, then continued to the stairs.  "Remind me to add some coat hooks to the side of the sauna and keep a robe down here."

"I suggest a small wardrobe that can double as a linen cabinet."

"For towels."  Cynthia was climbing the stairs.  "Good idea."

"Ikea's 'Pax' line has several options that are compatible with the basement decor... what there is of it."

Cynthia smiled.  "Add the appropriate catalog URL to my things-to-do list."

"And Dr. Pappas?"

"By all means," Cynthia chuckled, "let her in."  I wonder what she wants, Cynthia thought.  It's not like Kim to pop in out of the blue without calling ahead.

Cynthia arrived at her kitchen, crossed to the hallway, then continued towards the entryway.  Kim Pappas was waiting.  She was in a black raincoat with a scarf on her head and a smile on her face.  A black leather gym bag rested on the floor at her side.

"Hey, Kim," Cynthia said.  "What's up?"  As she came closer, she noted that the sleeves of Kim's raincoat were empty and tucked into the raincoat's pockets.  Also, Kim's expression was a little strange.  "I was in the sauna," Cynthia explained, "and—M'mmpfh!"

Someone had grabbed Cynthia from behind!  A hand was clamped over her mouth and her arms were pinned behind her back with her elbows crushed together!  She squirmed and struggled.  The only result was the dislodging of the tuck securing the towel.  The white terrycloth slithered down her body and dropped to the floor.

"I'm sorry, Cynthia," Sally's voice apologized.  "I forgot to mention that you have a second visitor."

Chapter 5


Chapter 4
Chapter 6