The Cottage of Dr. Lori Ryder
Professor of Medieval History @ Lewis &
Lori's cottage was not
quite fifteen miles from campus, situated on the edge of the
very minor suburb of Klenaquah, where Union Creek empties into
Fairwood Lake. It was isolated and surrounded by mature
cedars. Her nearest neighbors were all some distance away,
and she liked it that way. Lori was neither a recluse nor
an unfriendly person—far from it—but "The Cottage" was her
sanctuary from the Trials & Toil of Academia. Also the
cottage was reasonably far from the bustling campus while being
close enough to allow a tolerable daily commute.
Dr. Lori Ryder
The structure itself was an Arts & Crafts style bungalow
with five bedrooms. Perhaps it was a little too spacious
to warrant classification as a "cottage," but Lori had always
wanted to live in a cozy cottage, so cottage it was. Only
two of the bedrooms were currently being used as such. One
was the master bedroom, of course, and the other was maintained
for guests. The other three had all been converted into a
home office and extensions of the cottage library.
By their numbers, it might be said books lived at the
cottage, and as long as Lori was reasonably diligent about the
dusting they were nice enough to tolerate her presence.
That was why she'd bought such an oversized "cottage" in the
first place, to house all her books. Balfour and Miss
Havisham, the resident felines, demonstrated tolerance, like the
books, only their primary interest was a never-ending supply of
Hill's Science Diet, rather than dusting.
The cottage was surrounded by charming flower gardens, all of
which Lori carefully cultivated. They had a definite Secret
Garden vibe. Half the species were native to the
area, while the others were favorites from "Old Blighty," which
in Lori's case was Reading, England. There were
delphiniums, rambling roses, peonys, hollyhocks, lavender,
foxgloves, etc., etc. Okay, these particular foxgloves
were natives, but they were more-or-less identical to the
foxgloves Little Lori remembered from her childhood. There
were also large quantities of native "weeds," but all were
present to support the local bee and butterfly populations.
At the moment, Lori was in her back garden, wearing sneakers,
jeans, a powder-blue cotton-synthetic blouse with long sleeves,
gardening gloves, and a woven sun hat with a broad brim.
It was a nearly cloudless early Saturday morning, and while the
air was still reasonably cool, Lori's fair skin always demanded
protection from the direct sun. For Dr. Ryder, the line
between a healthy glow that might be considered a tan and an
angry sunburn was poorly defined. Her straight blond hair
hung in a classic pageboy, framing her perpetually smiling
face. Currently, she was on her knees and using clippers
and a weeding tool to deal with clumps of long, tasseled grass
that were trying to infiltrate an iris bed without
authority. The irises were past season and had already
been trimmed down and mulched to await the next spring, but the
lawn still needed to be kept at bay. She paid a neighbor
kid to mow the lawns, front and back, but maintaining the verge
was her job, at least with respect to the
flowerbeds. Also, she very much enjoyed the work.
Suddenly, the cottage's back door opened and a smiling redhead
strode into Lori's startled view. The newcomer was in her
forties, like Lori, and kept herself in fit and trim condition,
also like Lori. She was wearing an expensive and very
attractive sundress, and was showing a lot of smooth, firm,
freckled skin, as well as suede sandals (unlike Lori).
She had a friendly smile, but it was not returned.
Lori's notoriously quirky smile was noticeably absent.
Lori quickly climbed to her sneaker-clad feet and turned to face
the approaching redhead, the weeding tool still in her gloved
right hand. This was for several reasons: (1) she was not
expecting guests; (2) she was sure she'd locked her
front door; (3) she knew the identity of the smiling redhead;
and (4) the intruder was most emphatically not welcome
in her home, her office on the Lewis & Clark campus, or
anywhere else Lori had a say in the matter.
The redhead was Peyton Frazier, an extremely wealthy and
famous/notorious philanthropist and collector of medieval
antiquities, including artifacts, books, and documents.
She was something of a pariah in respectable academic circles,
thanks to the questionable provenance of many items in her large
private collection. While extensive and remarkable, most
of the "Frazier Collection" was rumored to have been acquired by
questionable means. However, despite the noise and fury
that followed in Peyton's wake, nothing it had ever been proved
she had done had been enough to land her in prison. Last
year, Peyton had approached Lori after a guest lecture while she
was visiting Cambridge and offered to hire her,
claiming she had recently "discovered" several documents of
"great historical significance" that simply demanded Lori's
expert attention. Lori had refused, of course, and in no
"Dr. Lori Enid Ryder, Professor of European History at
Lewis & Clark University," Peyton said with a wide grin and
a graceful bow, "world renowned expert in the Mercian and West
Saxon dialects of Old English. What a quaint and lovely
little hovel you have."
Peyton's smooth, firm skin was dappled with freckles, and her
body slender and athletic, but Lori was unimpressed. "What
do you want, Ms. Frazier?" she huffed. "Whatever it is,
the answer is still no, but you might as well tell me
before I summon the police."
Peyton laughed and shook her head, causing her long, copper-red
curls to sway. "Oh, Professor," she chuckled, "are you
always this rude to your guests?"
"You are not my guest," Lori said evenly.
"Your visitor, then," Peyton purred. "I was hoping
you would be more reasonable this time."
"As I told you in Cambridge," Lori stated, "I have no
interest whatsoever in materials illegally looted from
formally un-excavated archeological sites or stolen
from poorly curated and protected private archives. Feel
free to donate anything you wish to Lewis & Clark or any
other reputable institution, if you are candid about
the material's provenience, but I will have nothing to do with
helping you tidy up your so-called collection. Now, either
see yourself out, via the side yard, or I will summon
Lori dropped the weeding fork, removed her gloves, dropped them
as well, reached into her hip pocket for her iPhone—"MRRRF!"—and
was grabbed from behind! A strong hand clutching a plastic
breathing mask with some sort of perforated mouth-plug was
clamped over her mouth and nose and inside her gaping
mouth! There was an annoying hissing sound, and unpleasant
fumes—Some sort of halogen compound?—filled her nostrils
and were making her head spin. Lori struggled and fought,
but her unseen attacker had her arms pinned by the elbows behind
her back and she was strong! Lori thought her
attacker was female, anyway. What felt like a pair of
breasts were pressed against her back.
"One way or another," Peyton purred, "you will help
"Mrrrmpfh!" Lori's squirming efforts to break free were
growing weaker, and her field of vision was narrowing, as if she
was being dragged backwards into a dark tunnel. The iPhone
dropped out of her hand. Then, her blue eyes rolled up in
her head... and she went limp in her captor's arms as she lost
|Scads of Extra Credit
Saturday was Heidi's
special day, reserved for working out, and that meant a nice
long run in the morning (weather and/or season permitting, and a
nice long swim in the campus indoor pool if not)—followed by a
light and healthy lunch—followed by a leisurely workout in the
Student Fitness Center with free weights, punching and kicking
the bag, yoga, and/or Mixed Martial Arts sparring with one of
her fellow sweat enthusiasts—followed by an equally leisurely
bask in the steam room. And if she was a good girl and
pushed herself, she gave herself permission to cook something
special from her ever-growing list of "exotic kitchenette
recipes" when she got home to her graduate student hovel.
Heidi's box mac-and-cheese with diced spam was widely
acknowledged as "killer."
Granted, Heidi worked out during the week, but not nearly as
hard or as long, and only as her class and workload
allowed. Doc Ryder was a brilliant, friendly, and
demanding person, and she was also Heidi's Major Professor
and Heidi was Doc's Teaching Assistant. When Heidi
wasn't grading exams and papers, she was fetching priceless
books and manuscripts from the restricted section of the F.E.
Campbell Library, providing the Professor with casual reading
material. Normal everyday academic peasants (like graduate
students) weren't allowed to waltz out the library with
irreplaceable documents. No, scholastic peons (like Heidi)
had to conduct their research in one of the library's
secure reading rooms or study carrels. Only members of the
Academic Peerage, meaning the all-powerful Faculty
(like Doc Ryder), were granted the august privilege of studying
semi-rare and/or semi-valuable manuscripts in the cozy comfort
of their very own offices.
And speaking of leisure... what's that? Heidi had her
own research to conduct. That and squeeze in a few
paltry, inadequate hours of sleep.
Anyway, Saturdays were special... or they were supposed to
Heidi was swinging back through campus, nearing the end of her
morning run. She passed Marburger Hall (History)...
Stanton Hall (Philosophy)... Bishop Hall (Mathematics and
Physics)... and Koontz Hall (Computer Science), when suddenly
her iPhone began vibrating and playing the infamous "graduation
march" from Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, aka "Land
of Hope and Glory," aka Doc Ryder's ringtone. She accepted
the call (of course).
"What's up, Doc?" (It was Heidi's standard greeting for
her major professor), but instead of hearing Doc's standard
response—("Hidee-ho, Heidi Haas!")—she heard a click.
Doc had hung up on her! How rude! Heidi
stared at the phone in annoyance. Maybe Doc
butt-dialed me by mistake, she thought. That
would mean Doc was wearing jeans, which means she has to be
gardening. Any other time Doc wouldn't be caught dead in
jeans. Heidi was about to call her back when... Gleep!
...she received a text message. It was also from
"Check your email and bring all to my place asap very
important!" Heidi read aloud. She did indeed check her
e-mail, and found a list of more than a dozen documents,
complete with F.E. Campbell Library catalog numbers, and all
were checkoutable (which wasn't a word). Anyway, the first
five digits of the numbers told her the documents were to be
found in the Raffish Archives and were "restricted," but her
student ID was electronically tagged as having Doc Ryder's
permission to abscond with such documents as if she was faculty
and not a lowly fetch-and-carry grad student.
Heidi perused the list. "Dammit!" she muttered under her
breath. It would take her at least three hours to
gather all the listed documents, and then she'd have to drive
them out to Doc's cottage in "Flora," her ancient,
usually-reliable, buttercup-yellow VW bug. "Ok will do,"
she texted back, "but u owe me dinner and it better be
good." Doc Ryder was a good-natured tyrant, as well as a
demanding but devoted mentor, and she wasn't usually this
dictatorial, abrupt, or impolite. Heidi loved her
to death, and whatever was going on almost certainly was "very
important," which meant it would also be very interesting,
but that didn't mean Heidi had to like it. No
afternoon workout! Wah!
Heidi jogged back to her campus housing studio apartment (one of
the few perks of being a grad student), pulled on the spandex
jacket that went with her running outfit, and drove Flora to the
library. She could have taken the time to change out of
her running shoes, anklets, knee-length/capri-style exercise
tights, and sports-bra, but with the addition of the jacket she
met the library's liberal and poorly policed dress code, so
screw it. Doc would scold her for dressing casually and
not in the manner expected of a serious scholar—in her prim,
disapproving, and highly entertaining English manner—but Heidi
would counter that it was all Doc's fault for ordering her to
hurry and not even saying "please." Doc would have no
choice but to acknowledge that the not-saying-please part was a
bona fide faux pas and it would make her blush, and Heidi loved
it when she found a way to make Doc blush. It was a
hoot and a half.
|Scads of Extra Credit
out the documents with only minor difficulty. The senior
librarian on duty gave her grief, saying some of the requested
materials were very valuable and not to be treated in
such a cavalier manner, but Heidi showed her the text from Doc
and that settled the matter. However, the librarian
muttered under her breath about "irresponsible faculty members"
the entire time she crisscrossed the stacks gathering the
documents. Heidi offered to help, but the librarian
thanked her in a decidedly cool manner and explained
that only professional library staff with special training were
permitted beyond the security barriers of the Raffish
Archives. Heidi nodded in polite understanding. Whatever.
In any case, historians make a point of never pissing off
librarians. The results were never good.
Finally, and surprisingly close to Heidi's three hour estimate,
Doc's documents were all pulled from the stacks, properly
checked out in Doc's name with Heidi's signature so whatever
happened to them would ultimately be her fault (as the
librarian coldly explained). All were sealed in plastic,
water-proof envelopes, a prudent precaution given the
university's rain-prone geography, and resting in a milky-white
plastic box similar to a post office sorting carton, but with
"F.E. Campbell Library" and "Lewis & Clark University"
neatly stamped on the outside, instead of "U.S. Postal Service,"
and were now on their way to Doc's cottage.
Heidi pulled onto the cottage's winding driveway and parked
Flora in her usual place, a gravel-covered niche tucked between
two giant rhododendrons and reserved for visiting grad students
and other lowlifes. She carried the carton of historically
significant documents that only a handful of scholars might feel
motivated to try and read towards the cottage, up the front
steps, and through the front door. Heidi enjoyed no-knock
privileges at the cottage.
"What's up Doc!" Heidi shouted as she carried the carton through
the living room (which Doc called her "Receiving Room") and down
the central hallway towards Doc's home library and office.
On the way, she passed a sitting room Doc had converted to one
of the annexes of her home library—and froze in wide-eyed shock!
Heidi had been expecting Doc to shout her usual "Hidee-ho, Heidi
Haas!" by way of greetings and to let her know where she was,
but now it was clear why that hadn't happened.
Dr. Lori Enid Ryder, Professor (with tenure) of Medieval
European History at Lewis & Clark University, was sitting in
one of her well-padded and comfortable arm chairs, and several
yards of white nylon rope were making sure she stayed
there! Her upper arms and body were lashed together and to
the chair's back, and her arms bound to the armrests, from
wrists to elbows. She didn't appear to be happy about her
situation, but a rather thick folded strip of white cloth
tightly cleaved her open mouth and was tied at the nape of her
neck, under her signature blond pageboy. It was keeping
her from explaining.
Also, Heidi knew Doc liked to putter around in her garden for a
few hours most weekends, and she was dressed for the occasion...
almost. She was wearing a light blue, long sleeve shirt,
and by the size and shape of the tag on the button-down flap of
the left breast pocket, it was probably one of those Columbia
fishing shirts designed and marketed for lightness of
weight, moisture wicking properties to combat "glowing", and UV
light protection to minimize sunburn; however, the shirt was
completely unbuttoned and hanging open, exposing Doc's bra,
panties, and a lot of smooth, semi-tan, fair skin! Yes,
panties! Professorial panties! The footwear, socks,
and jeans or khaki pants that should have completed Doc's
gardening costume were completely missing!
But that wasn't all! A small reading table had been
cleared of its usual clutter, positioned close to Doc's chair,
her bare legs were resting on its surface, and more of the same
white rope that was binding her to the chair was lashing her
legs together at the ankles and knees and to the
table! And whoever had done the deed knew their
stuff. The ropes were all neat and strategically
cinched. Doc could squirm and wiggle as much as she
wanted, but she wasn't going to get out of that chair, lift her
arms off the armrests, or her legs off the table, not anytime
soon, anyway. And as a final touch to Doc's bondage, her
big toes were tied together with what looked like a sneaker lace
and tied back to her ankle-ropes, with the lace taut
enough to severely restrict Doc's foot movements.
Standing at Doc's semi-naked, bound, gagged, and wide-eyed side
was a smiling redhead in a pretty sundress. She was about
the professor's age, her right hand was resting on the chair's
back, near Doc's wide-eyed and gagged head, and she was twirling
a large white quill in her left hand.
All of that Heidi processed in a flash. Her heart was
hammering in her chest, and she decided the feather the redhead
was twiddling with was probably from a domestic goose, but at
the moment that was relatively unimportant. Heidi's
fitness regime had included Mixed Martial Arts classes since she
was in high school, so if she had anything to say about it, the
redhead (the obvious perpetrator of Doc's naked captivity) was
about to get her clock cleaned, courtesy of one Heidi
Hass! Without saying a word, Heidi's shocked expression
became an angry frown, she set the library carton and its
intellectually precious cargo on the floor, off to the side, and
out of the way. She then formed her hands into proper
fists (thumbs excluded), dropped into fighting stance, and
locked eyes with the redhead.
It was time for a few words, to be immediately followed by action!
"Who the hell are you, and what the hell—Hey-urmpfh!"
Someone had grabbed Heidi from behind and a hissing plastic mask
with a rubber plug emitting some sort of unpleasantly tangy
gas was tightly clamped over her mouth and nose and in her
mouth! Worse, Heidi's reflexive and usually effective roll
and break maneuver had been countered with stunning ease.
Obviously, her attacker was even better trained in the
martial arts! Heidi's next move was to try and entangle
the attacker's feet and flip her on her side to break the hold,
but that didn't work either and the horrible mask remained in
place. That left Heidi with only one logical option: fake
passing out, wait for her attacker to lower her guard, then turn
the tables! Heidi's big brown eyes rolled up in her head,
her muscles went perfectly limp, and the attacker in question
eased her apparently unconscious form to the carpet, still
holding the mask over her lower face. It was an
Oscar-worthy performance, but unfortunately, the anesthetic gas
being delivered by the mask was real, and so was Heidi's
|Scads of Extra Credit
Heidi woke to
find herself in an unusual position, so unusual that it required
a detailed analysis.
She was lying on her stomach on the thick carpet of the same
cottage library annex/sitting room where she'd discovered that
Doc had been kidnapped by some rando smiling redhead—she'd had
been about to give the redhead the beat down she so obviously
deserved—and then was kidnapped herself!
Someone had removed Heidi's jacket, as well as her running shoes
and anklets. That reduced her ensemble to her calf-length,
capri-style running tights and sports bra. Her hands were
tied together behind her back with her wrists crossed, her
ankles were also crossed and bound, and her wrists and ankles
more-or-less lashed together into one immobilized and
semi-flexible unit. It was a hogtie, and a stringent, severe
hogtie at that! Seriously, the connecting rope was so
short it might very well be more lashing.
And from what she could see and feel, her bonds were rope, the
same kind of white nylon rope the redhead and/or her unseen
accomplice with the chloroform rag had used to tie up Doc
Ryder. And more of the rope lashed each of Heidi's lower
legs to their respective thigh and pinned her
upper-arms to her torso. Also, everything was cinched and
interconnected (maybe, somehow). In any case, for all
practical purposes, her bondage was one tight web.
Squirming was possible, so she did... but it didn't do
her any good.
"Mrrrfh!" And then there was the gag. Something
soft, silky, and substantial was stuffed in Heidi's mouth,
filling it more-or-less to capacity, and tight bands of some
sort of tape encircled and essentially mummified her
lower face from just under her nose to well under her
chin. Her hair was still in its work-out ponytail, so it
had been spared the tape.
As a final touch, Heidi's fingers and hands were tightly wrapped
in overlapping layers of silver-gray duct-tape. She could
see the resulting flippers when she turned her head to examine
the ropes. Logically, her stringent gag was more
duct-tape, but she couldn't be sure until she encountered a
mirror or some other highly reflective surface.
"Mrrrpfh!" That was Doc, or someone with a very similar
soprano-pitched voice who also happened to be present (and
Heidi turned her head in the other direction, causing her
ponytail to flop, and focused across the room.
Doc was still in her chair with her shirt still unbuttoned and
open under the ropes lashing her in place; however, her legs
were off the table, which had been dragged off to the side and
out of the way. Her ankles and knees were still lashed
together, but now her ankles were tied to the chair's lower left
chair-leg. The sneaker lace was still binding Doc's big
toes together, but the long free end that had been tied to her
ankle bonds was flopping around as she squirmed and struggled
and wasn't tied to anything. Doc's legs were tucked
slightly to the side, binding her in a demure, lady-like pose,
or as demure as was possible given her missing jeans or pants
and stringent bondage. Finally, Doc's gag had been
changed. Gone was the tight, mouth-filling cleave-gag, and
in its place were horizontal, neatly overlapping layers of
silver-gray duct tape mummifying her lower face and head.
Like Heidi's long brown ponytail, the Professor's blond pageboy
was free of the tape.
This increased the odds that Heidi's tape-gag was also duct-tape,
but in the absence of direct evidence, it was still prudent to
reserve final judgement. And oh-by-the-way, whoever had
done all this binding and gagging had also taken the absurdly
unnecessary precaution of giving Doc her very own pair of
Heidi blinked her alarmed and distressed brown eyes, and Doc
blinked her blue eyes in return. They were both in quite a
pickle, as Heidi guessed the Doc might have put it.
"Oh, good, you're both awake." The mysterious redhead in
the pretty sundress was entering the room, and at her side was a
quite muscular and obviously physically fit brunette wearing
boots, jeans, and a black tank-top. The newcomer and
presumed attacker had brown (and cold) eyes and her features
were even, attractive, and unfriendly. She was carrying an
empty black trash-bag and a compact, duffel-style bag of red
ballistic nylon bearing what Heidi recognized as the Emergency
Medical Tech logo, a caduceus superimposed on a cross with two
"We've finished loading everything I've decided to take with us
into the truck," the redhead continued, "except for you and your
charming student." She was addressing Doc Ryder, who was glowering
at her from her chair in gag-induced silence.
The redhead gracefully strolled over to Heidi and smiled down at
the hogtied captive.
Heidi stared at the redhead's very nice and probably quite
expensive sandals, as well as her tan (freckled) feet and
strong, slender legs. The sundress she was wearing really
was quite pretty, and might very well be a designer
original. It flattered the redhead's trim, fit figure
quite well—but she was a kidnapping villainess and thus
forfeited all style points, as far as Heidi was concerned.
(Was Heidi scared? No, she was terrified, but
found she was able to control her panic and maintain her courage
by thinking about stupid things like fashion and style points.)
"Allow me to introduce myself, Ms. Haas," the redhead purred.
The redhead's smile was lopsided and a little goofy, but still
quite attractive, not that Heidi was in any way attracted to the
bat-shit-crazy kidnapper, given both the current circumstances and
Heidi's natural predilections. The same went for the
muscular brunette who had dropped the EMT bag and was loading
the trash-bag with a pair of sneakers (one of which was missing
a lace), a pair of white socks, and a pair of blue jeans
(obviously the rest of Doc's former gardening ensemble),
followed by Heidi's jacket, anklets, and running shoes.
All of this Heidi took in from the corner of one eye. Her
main focus was on the redhead.
"My name is Peyton Frazier," the redhead announced, then paused,
as if waiting for Heidi to react. Apparently (and in fact)
the name "Peyton Frazier" meant nothing to the hogtied and
gagged young captive. "Really?" Peyton demanded, then
shifted her lopsided smile to her other prisoner. "Dr.
Ryder, I'm disappointed in you. You haven't trained your
student to recognize the names of prominent private collectors
with important collections?" She shifted her smile from
the glowering Doc and back to Heidi. "Anyway, now that
we've been introduced, I'm going to call you 'Heidi.' and you
may call me 'Mistress Frazier,' or, if the setting is informal,
Or, Heidi thought, I can call you asshole and
kick the living snot out of your smug face
once I'm out of these ropes!
"Anyway," Peyton continued, "thank you for volunteering to join
Dr. Ryder and myself in our work on the very interesting material
Meanwhile, to Heidi's alarm, the muscular brunette (who she was
now 99% certain was the mysterious attacker with the grabby
hands and hissing breathing mask with the mouth-plug) had opened
the red EMT bag, stripped the wrapping from a disposable
syringe, and was charging it from a tiny glass vial! This
was now Heidi's central focus, and the same went for Doc,
especially since the brunette was strolling in the professor's
direction with her lips curled in an evil smile!
"Mrrrpfh!" Both Heidi and Doc objected as the brunette
pinned Doc's gagged and wide-eyed head with an expert headlock,
then administered the injection in the side of her neck!
Doc's eyes rolled up in her head almost immediately... and when
the brunette released her grip, the blond head in question
lolled to the side. Doc was out like the proverbial light!
"Unfortunately," Peyton continued, "passenger accommodations in
our conveyance are limited, so you and the professor will have
to ride in the back with the rest of the cargo.
Heidi? Are you listening to me? Heidi?"
In point of fact, Heidi was not listening. She
was distracted. Also alarmed! The brunette
had charged a second disposable syringe from the same vial, and
now was strolling in her hogtied and gagged
direction! The smile on her face was chilling. Heidi
squirmed and fought her bonds, but remained completely helpless.
"Don't worry," Peyton purred, "Kassidy is medically
trained. Believe me, it's better this way."
So, the brunette's name is Kassidy, Heidi thought, as
well as, NOOOOO! "NRRRRR!" And then, for the
second time in the same day, Heidi suffered the
indignity of non-consensual anesthesia!
|Scads of Extra
| Chapter 1