||FROM THE CASE FILES OF KITTY WYNTER|
| by Van ©2013
|OUR STORY CONTINUES
Bertie was wearing her business suit from yesterday with a different blouse, of course, and without the pink cardigan but with the jacket that matched the skirt. She'd dialed way back on the hair gel but kept enough to enforce some degree of order on her short locks. I really do have to get it cut, she thought. Guess I'll go back to a straight pixie. She also decided she needed at least one more business suit and made a mental note to add a modest pay raise to her promotion demands. Hmmm... maybe not, she thought. It's a justified business expense, but it's not like 'Wynter & Finch Investigations' is swimming in cash.
She'd taken the subway to the nearest stop to Helena Garrett's building, a new luxury condo tower in the if-you-have-to-ask-you-can't-afford-it part of town. She was carrying a brushed aluminum Halliburton briefcase. Okay, it was a knockoff, but a good knockoff. The case held her best electronic bug sweeper, her laptop (with line-snooping software), her fingerprint kit, and other miscellaneous tools of the trade. Her compact G26 Glock was holstered and clipped to the back of her skirt's waistband, under her jacket. A spare clip was in her jacket pocket and her concealed carry permit and P.I. license in a holder in her breast pocket. The G26 was usually her backup piece and kept either tucked in her boot top or strapped to her ankle, but that only worked with jeans or slacks. Maybe I can strap it to the inside of my thigh, she thought, like Kitty does when she wears a skirt. Yeah, that'll work. She added the appropriate holster to her mental shopping list.
The building had a uniformed doorman and a security desk in the lobby manned by a reasonably fit gentleman in a blue blazer with the building logo embroidered on the breast pocket. Very posh, Bertie thought. Helena had already called the desk to authorize Bertie' visit, but at Bertie's suggestion she hadn't divulged the purpose. Bertie wanted to conduct her sweep and evaluation of Helena's apartment before introducing herself to the staff and inspecting the rest of the building. The security dude eyeballed her ID, then smiled and welcomed her to the building.
Bertie smiled back, then walked to the elevator and pressed the button for Helena's floor, the doors opened and she entered. During the ride up she noted the discrete camera flush-mounted in the right front corner of the ceiling. This was good, but the key questions were whether or not it worked and whether or not it and any other camera feeds were being actively monitored or just archived on a server. All of that would be determined later. First things first.
The doors rumbled open and Bertie stepped out onto Helena's floor. A tasteful brass sign provided directions and Bertie turned right down the hallway, counting off apartment numbers as she passed door after door. Finally, she reached Helena's address and rang the buzzer.
"Hello!" a voice called from down the hall behind her back and Bertie turned to find a pair of smiling women striding in her direction.
One was tall, blond, dressed in an elegant black dress, and gave off a rich vibe. Bertie tentatively pegged her as a building resident.
The other was a bit of a fish out of water. She was shorter than the blond, Bertie's height, with long, straight black hair and a fringe of bangs, fair skin, and was rather Goth in appearance. Doc Martin boots, jeans, a black top with sleeves, and a pair of black leather bracers laced on her forearms, "smoky eyes" use of mascara—Goth.
"Are you Helena Garrett?" the blond inquired. "I'm your new neighbor."
Bertie shook her head, but before she could speak and just as the blond and her companion arrived, the apartment door opened and Helena appeared.
"Oh," the blond said, shifting her smile to Helena. "You're Helena, aren't you? I'm your new neighbor."
Helena smiled uncertainly. "Uh, yes, I'm Helena."
The Goth's smile was still on Bertie, and she smiled back. The twenty-something woman had blue eyes, like the somewhat older blond, and was really quite pretty.
The blond held out her hand to Helena. "We're still moving in, but I thought I might as well say hi."
Helena took her hand. "And your name is? Hey!"
The blond had seized Helena's hand and was pushing her back across the threshold and into her apartment! Simultaneously, the Goth's left hand was swinging towards Bertie's stomach.
Bertie instantly went into combat mode, swinging the briefcase towards her attacker—but she was too late. The Goth had used a compact but powerful wand-style taser to zap her in the solar plexus! Bertie's muscles convulsed, the briefcase fell from her twitching hand, her eyes rolled up in her head, and she lost consciousness.
The Goth caught Bertie's limp form and half-dragged, half-carried her across the threshold and into the apartment, then quickly retrieved the briefcase.
The door closed and all was quiet in the hallway.
|A Kiss Before Tying|| Chapter 2
Bertie's head hurt. It wasn't a bad headache. It certainly wasn't a migraine and was nothing an aspirin or two wouldn't set right, but—
Bertie's eyes popped open, her memory came flooding back, and she realized her condition. It was: her ankles bound together with Plasti-cuffs, her wrists bound behind her back with what was probably a second set of Plasti-cuffs, something stuffed in her mouth, and what felt like a wide, taut strip of tape keeping it there. She was sitting on a leather couch in a stylish, expensively decorated apartment—presumably Helena Garrett's stylish, expensively decorated apartment—and the lawyer in question was sitting next to her.
Helena was also awake and staring at Bertie through the glasses still perched on her button nose, her eyes wide with fear. A strip of white Microfoam tape was over her mouth, covering most of her lower face. As was always the case with a properly applied Microfoam gag, the shape of her lips was clearly visible in three dimensions. She was dressed as at the time of their capture by the "new neighbors," her arms were behind her back, and Plasti-cuffs bound her ankles.
Bertie's reflection in Helena's glasses revealed her own tape-gag was also Microfoam. As for what was stuffed in her mouth under the tape, it was cloth, probably a synthetic blend, but that was all she could be sure of at present.
Bertie heard a sound off to the left and turned her head. Across the room the blond from the hallway was sitting in a straight chair before a small dining table near what was clearly the kitchen. Bertie's briefcase was open on the table and its contents arrayed for inspection, together with Bertie's Glock, holster, and spare clip, her iPhone, ID, and everything else that had been in her pockets. She noticed the blond was wearing latex gloves, the clear, nearly invisible kind, and was examining one of Bertie's business cards. Okay it was Kitty's business card—"Katerina Wynter, Licensed Private Investigator," etc.—but that would change once Bertie got her promotion, became a full partner, and they got new cards.
Her eyes on the blond, Bertie surreptitiously lifted the hem of her jacket and groped for the hidden pocket discretely sewn in the back of her skirt's waistband... but found that the tiny, razor-sharp, spring-loaded folding knife that should have been there was missing.
The blond's gaze had been on the table and not her prisoners, but somehow she'd realized that Bertie was awake. "Looking for this?" she asked, holding up a small, clear plastic zip-bag. Even at this distance Bertie could make out the knife in question, a lock-pick, and the handcuff key that had been her other hidden escape aids. The blond smiled, stood, and strolled towards the couch.
"You won't need your bug sweeper, Ms. Finch," she said, a sly smile curling her lips. "I confirm that Ms. Garrett's apartment is under electronic surveillance. We've been monitoring all of her communications for... an undisclosed period. I know why you're here, but events have overtaken your professional concerns."
Bertie carefully suppressed a sigh of exasperation (and masked her fear). She'd find time to bask in the vast disappointment of botching the first case in which she was running lead later. At the moment she had more important concerns.
Just then there was a knock at the apartment's front door. "Rap—rap-rap-rap." The blond turned and sauntered to the door, released the deadbolt, and pulled it open.
The Goth stepped across the threshold, carrying two large black duffel bags of ballistic nylon, one in either hand. Smiling at Bertie, she carried the bags towards the couch and dropped them on the floor. The blond joined her and they stood side by side, smiling at their prisoners.
"I'm sorry," the blond said. "I just realized we haven't been properly introduced." She half-turned and indicated the Goth with a fluid gesture. "This is Suki. That's not her real name, of course, but it suits her, don't you think?"
"Charmed, I'm sure." Suki muttered, then nodded at her blond, taller companion. "And this is Doctor Bondage. Dr. B for short. Also not her real name, but she is a real doctor."
Bertie and Helena exchanged a gagged look. 'Doctor Bondage?'
"Enough already," Suki said. She smiled up at the alleged doctor. "Now? Are you done?"
"Now," Dr. B confirmed, then directed her gloating smile at Bertie. "Ms. Garrett is my professional concern, but you're a bit of a bonus, Ms. Finch." Her smile broadened slightly. "A girlishly cute, quite attractive little bonus."
"Hey, hands off!" Suki chuckled. She had knelt on the carpet and was unzipping a side pocket of one of the duffel bags. "You said I could have her."
"She's all yours," Dr. B confirmed. "Ms. Garrett and I will enjoy the show."
Bertie watched as Suki reached into the pocket and pulled out a roll of duct-tape... followed by a second roll of duct-tape... followed by a bundle of milky-white plastic cable-ties... followed by a third roll of duct-tape. The rolls were all new, silver-gray in color, two inches wide, and thirty or more feet in length. The cable-ties were a mix of sizes from eight to twenty-four inches, and there were a lot of them. Suki opened another pocket and pulled out more cable-ties, and they were very long, so long the bundle had been coiled into a hoop to make it fit into the bag.
Bertie realized her heart was hammering. She wasn't panicking, but the smiling Goth definitely had her attention. This does not bode well, she decided. On the good side, Bertie's headache was gone.
|A Kiss Before Tying|| Chapter 2
Kitty was in full bad-ass mode, pummeling and kicking the hanging bag suspended from the ceiling in a corner of the office/condo's playroom. She was nude, except for the sports tape wrapped around her hands and feet, and was sweating like the proverbial pig. Her long, dark hair was pulled back in a severe ponytail enforced by a hair elastic, a fabric-covered rubber band.
While Bertie dressed, Kitty had offered to accompany her to Barrett's apartment for her appointment. Kitty had to meet the client at some point, she'd argued, so it might as well be now. Bertie's immediate response was nonverbal—body language only—but Kitty read the clues and quickly withdrew the suggestion, adding a gruff remark to the effect that she'd just as soon not, not wanting to waste her time. Muffin wants to do it on her own, Kitty had realized, and it was cute. Granted, Bertie was a formidable investigator, especially when it came to cyber legwork, and she could take care of herself, but all of that was a given. Kitty was finding it difficult to stop thinking of Philberta Finch as her sidekick and start thinking of her as her partner, her full partner.
"That's my problem, not Bertie's," Kitty explained to the long-suffering bag as she delivered a particularly punishing one-two-three combo followed by a flying spin-kick.
Bertie looked so cute as she left the office, Kitty mused, all dressed up in her business suit. Adorable. Kitty frowned. "Adorable" wasn't the way Kitty usually characterized anything, even cute-as-a-bug Brits in power suits. Don't get soft, Kitty-Kat, she chided herself as she stepped back from the bag.
She padded to a small side table, took a swig of water from a plastic bottle, then patted her shining face with a towel. She'd been at it for nearly half an hour, not counting the preliminary stretching, pushups, situps, and chin-ups, but she wasn't done.
Still nude, Kitty made her way to the office and gazed at her handcuff collection. After due consideration she selected her Mattatuck Maltby cuffs, took them down from their decorative hook, and ratcheted them shut around her wrists and behind her back. She tugged on the cuffs to make sure the locks were solidly engaged, then returned to the playroom and resumed kicking the proverbial snot out of the hanging bag.
This was an unusual form of unarmed combat, but one Kitty considered professionally prudent to master. It takes practice to kick-fight with your hands cuffed behind your back, but Kitty had that practice, and now she was getting more. The nude, sweating beauty executed strike after strike, including knees to the groin, kicks to the stomach, and spin-kicks to the chin. Of course, the bag had neither groin, stomach, nor chin—for which it would no doubt be eternally grateful if it wasn't just a stuffed leather cylinder reinforced at worn areas with bands of duct-tape—but Kitty's blows landed on the target areas with solid impacts, and in each instance she recovered with fluid grace.
I'll let Muffin do her survey and debrief the hell out her when she gets back, Kitty decided, and she meant debrief in both the intelligence gathering and knickers divestment meanings of the word.
|A Kiss Before Tying|| Chapter 2
Suki pulled Bertie off the couch and onto her butt in the center of the carpet. Dr. B took her place and embraced Helena from the side, smiling and draping an arm over the bound and gagged lawyer's shoulders.
"You aren't going to give me any trouble, are you?" Suki asked sweetly, addressing Bertie. "Because..."
Bertie's eyes widened slightly. Suki had reached into her hip pocket and produced the stubby wand she'd used to knock her out in the hallway. It looked very much like a small rubber-clad flashlight, only with a pair of short, blunt copper probes at the business end in place of a lens.
"This thing has three settings," Suki lectured, turning the device in her latex-gloved hand. "There's 'nighty-nite,' of course, but also two lower settings: 'owie,' and 'yikes!' And look." She nodded towards her blond companion.
Dr. B reached under her dress and produced an identical wand. "I've got one too," the blond purred, unnecessarily. Apparently she had a thigh holster, similar to the one on Bertie's mental shopping list. Still smiling, she placed the wand's copper probes against Helena's left earlobe. "Like my Suki said," Dr. B continued, "you aren't going to give her any trouble, are you?"
Bertie sighed through her gag, then nodded. With her hands and feet bound, resistance was a sketchy proposition at best, and the decidedly slim chance of escape it offered didn't come anywhere near the cost of watching them torture Helena.
"There's a good little sleuth," Dr. B chuckled.
Suki returned the wand to her hip pocket, then knelt behind Bertie, reached around her body, and unbuttoned her jacket. The underlying blouse was next, then Suki pulled both garments over Bertie's shoulders and back down her arms where they formed a rumpled mass shrouding her hands, wrists, and forearms. Bertie's bra was next, and it soon joined the jacket and blouse, leaving her naked from the waistband of her skirt up.
Bertie heard the rip of duct-tape being freed from its roll, then Suki pressed her elbows together with one arm and proceeded to wrap turn after tight turn of tape around her upper arms. She was making a job of it. Two or three turns would have sufficed, but Bertie counted a total of six turns before Suki tore the tape from the roll and smoothed the end.
"She has nice little tits, don't you think?" Dr. B inquired.
"A little small," Suki responded, "but a nice shape. Perky. And I like the dusting of freckles on her shoulders and cheeks."
"Yes," Dr. B agreed. "Let's hope she has more. Meaning freckles, of course. We already know she has another pair of cheeks under that skirt."
"Agreed," Suki chuckled.
Helena's wide-eyed attention was on the stubby shock-wand still in Dr. B's hand, and whatever opinion she might have concerning Bertie's tits and freckles was absorbed by her Microfoam gag.
Meanwhile, Suki had reached into the duffel and produced a compact hand tool. It was something like a cross between a pricing gun and a pair of hand clippers. She selected an eighteen or twenty inch cable-tie, tightened it around Bertie's upper arms over the tape, inserted the end of the tie through a slot in the tool, gave the handles a squeeze, and the tie tightened until it was quite snug. She then lifted a small lever, there was a click, and the free end of the tie fell away. She then set down the tool, ripped duct-tape from the roll, and gave Bertie's arms three more turns over the six existing bands, covering the cable-tie completely.
That's just ridiculous, Bertie thought. Overkill couldn't begin to describe the arrangement. Does she think I'm Supergirl or the She-Hulk?
Suki freed more tape and began taking turns around Bertie's bound arms and torso, over her doubly and now triply bound upper arms and passing under her breasts. Again, she took six taut turns of tape, added one of the extra-long cable ties, used the tool to tighten the tie and snip off the end, then covered it with three more turns.
Absurd! Bertie thought. She noticed Dr. B was watching the application of her preposterously over-the-top bondage with a gloating smile. Helena was also watching, fear evident in her bespectacled eyes.
Suki fished Bertie's hands and Plasti-cuffed wrists from under her rumpled garments, used a pair of ratcheting clippers to cut the cuffs, then pulled the bra, blouse, and jacket free and tossed them aside. She then taped Bertie's wrists together with her hands palm-to-palm. Again, six turns of duct tape was followed by a cable-tie which was followed by three more turns of tape.
Bertie was eased to the carpet and onto her stomach and her skirt, shoes, pantyhose, and panties stripped from her lower body. They joined the pile of her other clothing and she was now nude.
"Excellent," Dr. B sighed. "Such a nice, toned, fit little body, with a decent tan. And more of those delightful freckles, as we hoped." She noticed Suki's expression and her smile widened. "Don't be jealous, darling. You've also toned and fit, and you know I like your fair complexion."
"Yeah," Suki huffed, "'cause it marks so nicely under the whip. Anyway, my tits are bigger."
"Yes, they are," Dr. B agreed. "Continue."
To make a long story short, by the time Suki was finished, Bertie might be able to flop around like a baby seal, but otherwise was barely able to squirm. The Plasti-cuff ankle cuffs were gone, but now her legs were bound together at the ankles, above and below her knees, and around her upper thighs. An additional tight band pressing her forearms against her spine and continuing across the narrowest part of her waist. In each case Suki used the same technique: six turns of duct-tape followed by a cable-tie followed by three more turns of tape.
As added refinements, cable-ties bound Bertie's thumbs and big-toes, six bands of tape encircled her feet between her toes and ankles, three bands of tape turned the fingers of each of her hands into a pair of flippers, then six more bands bound them together into a single flipper.
Bertie was helpless, in the sense that the Queen is loaded. She wiggled her feet and flexed her knees, but it was hopeless—again, in the sense that Her Majesty owns a little land and has a few baubles.
She watched as Suki gathered her clothing and shoes and deposited them in a trash bag, then returned the tape rolls, cable-tie bundle, the tie-tightening tool, and the clippers to the duffel. Finally, she gathered up the many snipped off ends of the various cable-ties of Bertie's bondage and deposited them in Helena's kitchen trash.
Meanwhile, Dr. B had sauntered to the dining table, retrieved Bertie's iPhone from among her things, and returned. She gestured down at Bertie's naked, bound, and gagged form, smiling at Suki. "May I?"
"By all means," Suki purred, then sat on the couch next to Helena. "Hi," she said, beaming at the captive lawyer. "Are you kidnapped here often?"
Helena stared back without attempting to answer.
"Silly goose," Dr. B chuckled, then straddled Bertie's body, knelt, and settled a portion of her weight on Bertie's tummy. Still smiling, she leaned forward, gently peeled the tape from Bertie's lips, then gently plucked what turned out to be a wadded scarf from her mouth.
Bertie licked her lips and worked her jaw, her gaze locked with her blond captor. "Uh, look," she said when she was able. "I'm not a cop. Your arrest and prosecution aren't necessarily my concern. Let us go and... no harm no foul?"
"Thank you for your kind offer," Dr. B purred, "but I'm afraid we have other plans." She held up Bertie's iPhone. It was displaying the ten digit touchpad of the Passcode screen. "What's your PIN, Ms. Finch?
Bertie stared without answering.
Dr. B sighed, set down the iPhone, and produced her shock-wand. "Here's what's going to happen. If you don't tell me your PIN, I'm going to zap each of your perky little breasts three times, right on the nipples. Then, Suki is going to zap Ms. Garrett's breasts a total of six times each. Afterwards, I'll ask you again. If you still won't be reasonable, your nipples get six zaps each and Ms Garrett's get twelve. Etc., etc."
Bertie sighed before answering. "One, three, five, zero."
Dr. B swapped the wand for Bertie's iPhone, clicked it on, swiped to the Passcode screen, and entered the PIN. "Now, was that so difficult?" She stood—gracefully, of course, despite her high heels and tight skirt—then took a step to the side and tapped and slid her finger across the iPhone, her eyes on the screen. She paused to gesture down at Bertie's glowering, helpless form. "Volume control," she muttered, then went back to browsing.
Suki left the couch and smiled down at Bertie. Seconds passed... with Dr. B still studying the iPhone. Finally, Suki could take it no longer. "Well? What's so damn fascinating?"
"I'm reading past texts," Dr. B explained, "studying her style."
"Oh," Suki shrugged, then resumed smiling down at Bertie. "You were a good little sleuth-girl while I taped and tied you up," she said, "so I'll go with clean panties. Be right back." She turned and walked deeper into the apartment.
Bertie watched her go. Panties? She turned her head to the couch. Helena was staring at her, her eyes still telegraphing fear. Bertie heaved another sigh, then mouthed a silent "Sorry!" to her client and fellow prisoner.
|A Kiss Before Tying|| Chapter 2
Kitty had finished her workout, extricated herself from the Mattatuck Malbys without difficulty, and returned them to their place in her collection. She then showered and dressed, choosing a black thong, skintight black leather pants, a steel-gray tank-top, and a pair of black boots.
The immediate task at hand was processing the threat material from the Garrett case. She donned a pair of latex gloves and dusted the cards and letters, one by one, then photographed each print and transferred the images to her desktop. Based on placement and a first impression of the prints' details, there was only one set, and the odds were they belonged to the client. Kitty would be astonished if it turned out to be otherwise. You didn't have to be Moriarty to know you should wear gloves when performing any and all tasks having anything to do with perpetrating a crime. She'd resolve the issue when Bertie returned with Garrett's prints.
She gazed at the letters and cards, again, this time concentrating on their content. She could understand why the Shyster and her cop friends felt they couldn't take action. There were references to unspecified suffering, supposedly as retribution for past betrayals, but nothing specific about either the nature of the suffering or the supposed betrayals.
The writer was probably a right-handed American, female, educated, with excellent grammar and spelling, and wrote with an elegant hand. People who pretended handwriting analysis is an exact science are generally paid to do it for a living, but there are reliable tells and Kitty knew them all.
Just then, Kitty's iPhone started playing London Calling by The Clash, her ringtone for Bertie. She tapped the screen and a text message appeared.
"APT CLR. HELENA WANTS 2 MEET U. CUM OVR 4 LUNCH NOW. MWAH."
'Apartment clear,' Kitty translated. 'Helena wants to meet you. Come over for lunch now.' The "MWAH" was an air kiss, Bertie's customary sign off.
"I could use an expense account lunch at a fancy restaurant," Kitty muttered to herself. She put her backup piece in her right boot top, clipped her holstered Glock to the back of her belt, donned a knit top over the tank, and finally, a reasonably expensive jacket. She loaded her pockets with a spare clip, her iPhone, ID case, and card wallet, and was good to go.
The jacket tilted the style of her ensemble towards Urban Ingenue. She owned other jackets that would have suggested Biker Chick, Working Girl, or other looks that might be required for investigative legwork, but Ingenue would do for a meet, greet, and eat with Helena Garrett.
Kitty gathered the case material into a folder, locked it in her desk, set the office alarm, and was out the door.
|The End of...|
|A Kiss Before Tying|| Chapter 2