CROWN Affair

by Van © 2003
Chapter 5
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Katherine opened her eyes—naked/bound and gagged/under a blanket —she jerked and thrashed in her inescapable bonds and mewed through her taut tape-gag—then the memory of her capture and subsequent treatment flooded back... and she relaxed.  Her wrists were still bound with padded flexi-cuffs and pinned to the small of her back by a padded cable tie locked around her waist, her ankles were still flexi-cuffed together, and her lips were still sealed with tape.  Further, she was still in the small underwater lounge where she had been placed by Helena and Kimber, with its Minoan mosaic, bed-sized padded benches, and window wall looking out into the deep end of Thomasina Crown's indoor pool.  The lights were still off in her small, luxurious dungeon, but they were back on in the pool, and aqua waves of luminescence were flickering and rippling on the walls and ceiling of the lounge.  She heard a low frequency thumping, thrashing sound (or rather realized she had been hearing it all along), caught a flicker of movement on the far side of the glass wall, and squirmed onto her side.

Someone was swimming in the pool, doing a racing crawl.  She had dark hair and fair skin, but Katherine couldn't see much more as the swimmer was receding towards the far end.  Katherine continued watching, and could just barely make out the swimmer's lithe form as, through a cloud of bubbles, she flipped and executed a perfect racing turn... and now she was returning.  She came closer... and finally Katherine could see that it was Thomasina Crown herself.  She was naked, as naked as Katherine herself at the moment.  The helpless captive watched, riveted by the sight of her nude captor.  Thomasina's muscles rippled under her flawless pale skin as she swam ever closer through the water.  Bubbles swirled as her pointing feet flutter-kicked and her strong arms cut through the churning surface.  Her lips and nipples were pale pink in the aqua water, her skin white like polished ivory, her hair black, straight, and streaming from her head; and between her legs, her pubic thatch was black, curly, and trapped countless tiny bubbles.  She flipped and kicked off from the wall just above Katherine's window... cut through the water for several seconds in an extended glide... then kicked away.

She's beautiful, Katherine sighed, wiggling into a more comfortable position.  And she's good.  Katherine had swum Varsity in high school, and could appreciate trained technique when she saw it.  The blanket fell from Katherine's shoulder, exposing her shoulders and breasts.  She twisted and writhed in her bonds, and finally succeeded in propping herself against a large cushion, so she could lay back and watch her captor swim.

Thomasina swam three more laps, all at the same near-sprint.  Then she changed to a medley of sidestroke, backstroke, and breast stroke, all at a slower pace.  Katherine watched her captor's nude, exquisite body glide through the water with rapt (if relaxed) attention.  Finally, Thomasina left the pool.

Katherine lay in her bonds... and waited.   How long are they going to leave me down here? she wondered.  The answer came in the form of a key turning the lock of the solid steel door set into the wall opposite the glass wall of Katherine's prison.  The bound and gagged prisoner considered feigning unconsciousness, but decided to feign indifference instead.

The door opened, and Thomasina entered.  Her hair was wet and slicked back.  She was dressed in a long, fluffy, loose robe of white terry cloth (with very little (if anything) underneath).  "Good Morning, Ms. Banner," she purred, a friendly (gloating) smile on her lovely (smug) face.  Katherine pointedly ignored the raven-haired beauty and stared sullenly out the glass into the empty pool.  Thomasina settled onto the bench opposite her "guest," snuggled back into the cushions, and crossed her bare white feet atop a pillow.  The robe fell open to expose her long pale legs.

Kimber entered a few seconds later, toting a small bucket and a towel.  The grinning blonde was dressed in a lilac swimsuit.  "Morning, Katherine," she whispered as she leaned close and grabbed a corner of the prisoner's tape-gag.  "Brace yourself," she admonished.  "On the count of three.  One..."  {Rip!} Kimber had removed the tape in one swift motion!

"Ow!" Katherine gasped, and was silenced by a gentle hand-gag.  

"A quick surprise is best, no?" the blonde whispered, then released her hand from Katherine's lips. She reached into the bucket and produced a wet washcloth, which she used to give Katherine's glowering face a quick, gentle scrubbing.  The cloth went back in the bucket and the towel was used to pat the prisoner's face; then Kimber gathered bucket and towel, and left, closing the door behind her.

"Kimber's like the sun," Thomasina said.  "Always a joy.  So beautiful and kind... and that body...  She always makes me want to work harder."  Katherine continued ignoring her "hostess," (but in dim reflection on the glass wall she could just make out Thomasina's smiling face).  "Kimber is my personal trainer, you see," Thomasina continued.

The trainer in question returned, and this time she was carrying a small folding table and a tray holding two tall glasses.  She deployed the table near Katherine, set down the tray, and handed one of the glasses to her employer.  "Would you like more light?" she asked.

"Oh no!" Thomasina answered.  "I'm quite enjoying the rippling effects from the pool.  It reminds me of the sea caves under Theraxos."

Kimber smiled, moved the remaining glass to the point on the tray closest to Katherine, and departed.

"Thank you, Kimber!" Thomasina called after her.

Katherine glanced at the glass.  It was full to the top with a thick green shake; and a rather wide, long straw angled helpfully in Katherine's direction.  There was also a long handled spoon on the tray (not that a spoon would do Katherine any good, considering her bound condition).

"It's a breakfast shake," Thomasina explained.  "Soy protein, minerals, vitamins, small polymer sugars, almond oil... and enough fruit pulp and such to make it palatable.  I'm quite addicted to them.  Can't start my morning without one."

Katherine turned her head and stared at her captor.  "I imagine they'll be difficult to obtain in prison," she muttered, "even for you."

"My dear Ms. Banning," Thomasina purred, pausing to suck a healthy dollop of shake through the straw in her glass, "whatever makes you think I'll be the one going to prison.  It was you who invaded my home, remember?"

"And you who kept me a prisoner!" Katherine answered.  "And stripped me naked.  And tortured me."

"If and when I turn you over to the police," Thomasina answered, "a dozen witnesses and my security system records will verify whatever version of the truth I find most convenient.  Do you doubt that?"

Katherine glared at her captor for several long seconds, then lowered her gaze.  "No," she muttered.  "No, I don't."

"Good," Thomasina said, still smiling and enjoying her shake.  "Normally my little treasure Andrea would be serving me my breakfast shake in the conservatory, but Kimber is a pleasant alternative."

Katherine stared out the window into the aqua depths... and put two and two together.  "Andrea!  Sally grabbed Andrea!" she whispered.

"Correct," Thomasina said, her smile fading.  "And I'm quite put out about it.  Not as much as Helena, of course.  "My Dark Priestess affects an air of detached invulnerability, but she loves Little Red as much as the rest of us... perhaps more so."  

"I assume a prisoner exchange is being arranged," Katherine said, the ghost of a smile on her lips.   I owe you a big one, Krippendorf! she thought.

"All in due time," Thomasina said, still very much in control of the situation and smiling again.  "Let's start at the beginning... and the beginning I'm most interested in is you beginning to investigate my affairs.  Please explain yourself, and spare me any entertaining but false stories about my art collection being in danger.  When you began hacking my files... my people began hacking yours."

Katherine maintained her façade of indifference, but her mind was racing, trying to concoct a reasonable alternative to her initial excuse.   If she's hacked the loft computers, the prisoner reasoned, she's read my case files... so the jig is up.  But I can still count on Krippendorf.  Might as well clear the air... and get ready for the next round.

Katherine leaned forward, took the straw of her shake in her mouth, and sucked.  The thick liquid was cool but not cold, and was delicious.  "Not bad," she conceded, took another deep, long suck on the straw (while Thomasina watched and waited with amused tolerance), then settled back in her nest of pillows.  "The Stonebeck job," the captive stated.

Thomasina smiled.  "Sharon Stonebeck?  The robbery of her penthouse?  An absolutely dreadful woman.  Ever met her?"  Katherine shook her head.  "Dreadful woman," Thomasina repeated, shaking her head.  "Beautiful as a Norse goddess... and the personality of a spoiled, vindictive child.  It couldn't have happened to a nicer person."

"The thieves are either in your employ," Katherine said quietly, "or..."

"I'm their leader?" Thomasina suggested, her smile widening.  "And what leads you to that startling conclusion?"

Katherine squirmed in her bonds.  "Correlation of facts, indirect links, but—"

"I've read your summaries," Thomasina interrupted.  "I believe your conclusion, that I am the leader of a daring band of cat burglars specializing in the theft of already stolen art works, is what you investigator types call a hunch.  You have nothing a mediocre law student couldn't get laughed out of court."

"I'd be the first to admit it's a S.W.A.G.," Katherine conceded.  "Scientific Wild Ass Guess," she clarified, in response to a raised eyebrow from her hostess.

Thomasina laughed, then grew more serious.  "So... you decided to invade my home and arrest me... based on a hunch?"

"I have no interest in arresting you," Katherine lied.  "I earn my commissions from the recovery of stolen property or the exposure of fraud.  'Probable cause' and 'rules of evidence' are for the police and the courts.  My employers are businessmen with their eye on the bottom line.  I'm looking for the Kandinsky... and anything else I can find that's stolen."

"I don't believe I own a Kandinsky," Thomasina purred.  "You have no interest in arresting me?  Really?  You wouldn't like to see me led away in handcuffs?"

Katherine blushed slightly, imagining the pleasure of crashing one of her captor's exclusive soireés, bending her over one of her priceless antiques, and slapping her in cuffs.   Business before pleasure.  "Like I said, I'm not the police."

"No... you certainly aren't," Thomasina said softly, smiling at her naked prisoner.

"Look," Katherine said (still blushing), "this is getting us nowhere.  You don't have the Kandinsky or the other stolen paintings?  Fine.  My mistake.  I don't know how Krippendorf managed to capture your employee, but she did.  Let me go and I'll see that she's released unharmed."

Thomasina laughed.  "And where's the fun in that?  We'll do things much more formally—carefully arranged clandestine meetings, a rendezvous in the middle of a moonless night, flashing headlights at opposite ends of a lonely bridge, bound prisoners stumbling past one another at the center of the span...  Hmm... I'll have to buy a black trench coat.  I believe the only one I own at present is at my London flat."

Katherine listened carefully.   Intelligent, disciplined, wealthy as a queen, surrounded by luxury... and bored.  She's my cat burglar.  I know it!

"But there's something we have to settle before I can release you," Thomasina continued.  "My Helena exceeded her instructions concerning your treatment.  I was not my intent to have you... entertained in the manner she subjected you to last night.  I apologize for her overzealousness.  Would you like her punished?"

Games... More damn games.  Katherine nodded.  "Why not?  Punish the bitch."

Thomasina smiled and produced what looked like a tiny radio from the pocket of her robe.  She held it to her mouth, depressed a stud on its side, and spoke.  "Proceed."
Chapter 5
A few seconds later there was a large splash in the pool and something settled to the bottom near the glass window.  The accompanying cloud of bubbles cleared... and Katherine beheld Helena, bound hand and foot with yard after yard of black rope!  Legs together, hands behind her back, and arms at her sides, countless horizontal and diagonal bands dimpled her pale flesh in a tight, virtual net of hitched and intertwined strands from her shoulders to her toes.  There was a weighted sack of black nylon netting tied to her feet, and as Katherine watched in horror, the prisoner drifted towards the surface and the connecting rope tied to her ankles went taut, with her head still something like two feet below the surface!

"No!" Katherine gasped, and sat upright, the blanket falling the rest of the way from her nude body.  She looked closely through the glass.  A clip with two broad rubber pads was pinching Helena's nostrils tightly closed, and a clear plastic mouthpiece was clutched in her teeth.  Katherine squirmed closer to the window, and now could see a ghostly clear, flexible plastic tube linking the mouthpiece to the underside of a softball sized float, bobbing on the churning surface.

"She won't drown," Thomasina said, her attention on her shake rather than the naked captive writhing in the pool (or the naked captive watching the spectacle of her former torturer being punished).  "There's a clever little flapper valve on the end of her snorkel, you see.  It prevents water from flooding the breathing tube.  Are you a diver, Ms. Banning?"

Katherine shook her head, mesmerized by Helena's captivity and predicament, watching the tiny bubbles still clinging to the prisoner's pale flesh slowly crawl up her skin, until they finally released and bobbed to the surface... one by one.

"There's a practical limit to the length of a snorkel," Thomasina lectured.  "There's a depth at which the pressure of the water, which equates to the pressure on the diver's lungs, makes it impossible to breath.  It's like having a huge weight on your chest, crushing you from all sides.  Put another way, your lungs become a balloon which you are unable to inflate.  Understand?"  Katherine nodded, still staring through the glass in horror.  "Helena is tethered a few inches above that depth.  Her breathing is... to coin a phrase... labored."

Katherine shuddered in her bonds, and continued staring through the glass.  Helena had tiny steel clips of some sort pinching her nipples, and they were tethered by several inches of fishing line to ping pong ball size floats suspended in the water a couple of inches above her head.  The clips appeared to be of the scissors variety, and the pressure of the floats was squeezing them tight, visibly pinching the nipples and stretching the captive's white breasts towards the surface.

Thomasina climbed off the bench and set her glass on the tray, then sat next to Katherine and draped her arm across the captive's shoulder.  "Oh yes, the nipple clamp floats.  Nasty little things.  Very painful, depending on how one adjusts the line length and size of the floats.  Helena's own invention."

Katherine couldn't take her eyes from Helena's ordeal.  Her fellow prisoner's pale body was well-toned and athletic.  The contrast between the black ropes and her fair skin was dramatic, heightened by the aqua underwater light.  Her breasts, smaller than Thomasina's or Katherine's, were nonetheless well shaped, firm, and pleasing... or would have been, had the insidious floats not been tugging them upwards.  Her black hair swirled and drifted around her grimacing face.  "How... how long?" Katherine demanded.

"Look at the weight tied to her feet," Thomasina purred.  "See the bubbles starting to issue from the bag?"

Katherine nodded.  The bag was indeed beginning to gently effervesce, sending a modest stream of tiny bubbles to caress Helena's captive form as they made their way to the surface.

"The bag contains several blocks of pool chemicals," Thomasina continued.  "It will take about an hour for them to dissolve to the point that Helena will float free.  She'll then be able to make her way to the shallow end, hop up the steps, and into the sauna at the far end of the pool.  Inside, a very dull knife is waiting for her, lying on the floor.  It will take quite some time for her to saw through her bonds... especially since all the knots and hitches have been glued with epoxy... but she probably won't mind.  She'll be quite chilled from her hour in the pool and the heat of the sauna should be most welcome."

Thomasina gave Katherine's shoulders a friendly hug, stood, retrieved her still half full glass from the tray, and pattered to the door.  "With the lights off, Helena can't see into this room," she said.  "Of course she knows you're here, watching her suffer.  Would you like me to turn on the lights, so she can see you as well?"

Katherine turned and stared at her captor.  "I'm sure I'm already on Helena's shit list," the prisoner responded, squirming in her inescapable bonds.  "No need to have her start adding stars next to my name."

Thomasina laughed.  "Beautiful and wise.  Seldom have I had such an entertaining guest.  I may have to keep you, Ms. Banning.  I suggest you finish your shake.  You're going to need it."

Before Katherine could formulate a response, Thomasina was gone, and once again the key was rattling in the door lock.   'I'm going to need it?'  Katherine rolled back to where she could reach her straw, sucked a large dollop of shake into her mouth, swallowed, then snuggled back into the pillows... and gazed through the glass at her helpless and suffering nemesis and (for the moment) fellow prisoner.

Thomasina Crown was even more complex than she'd thought, the mix of dark and light not easily deciphered.  She watched Helena stretch in her bonds, pointing her toes, her sides heaving as she struggled to breath through her too small, too long link to the precious air above.  A detail from the case files floated to the surface of Katherine's mind (like one of the tiny bubbles tracing Helena's nude, captive form and floating to the surface of the pool).   All the knots glued with epoxy...  The same trick was used on Sharon Stonebeck.  Damn she's a clever one.  Be careful, Krippendorf!
Chapter 5

Sally opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling.   Katherine!  Please be all right.  She lifted her head and gazed down at her prisoner, or more correctly, she gazed at the tangle of copper-red curls that was the crown of her prisoner's head.  Still bound hand and foot with cotton rope, with more rope pinning her arms to her torso, Andrea was snuggled against Sally's side, dozing against her captor's naked body.  (Sally had peeled off her t-shirt and panties soon after commencement of the previous evening's festivities.  Andrea, bound as she was, had her tights and panties pulled down around her bound ankles and her sports top plucked from under her chest ropes, pulled over her head, and left tangled above her bound elbows.)

Sally yawned, rubbed her eyes, and carefully eased her petite, naked body out from under the covers.  Andrea opened her eyes and watched (blinking sleepily) as Sally dressed.

"Mornin'," Sally said.

"Good morning," Andrea answered, stretching in her bonds, under the blanket, a friendly smile on her angelic, freckled face.

"You sleep in," the blonde suggested, "and I'll make us some breakfast."

The redhead's smile became rather coy.  "Like I have a choice?" she inquired.

Sally laughed.  "Quiet, or I'll... I'll... Oh shut up and go back to sleep.  It's too early for dire threats and hideous tortures."

"Anything you say, Mistress Sally," the redhead purred, and closed her big green eyes.

Shaking her head (and grinning), Sally headed for the bathroom.
Chapter 5
Sally washed and dried her hands, then moved on to the kitchen.  She started some coffee brewing, then laid out the makings of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast; but before she started cooking she retrieved the laptop from the small duffle she'd unloaded from the van the previous night, plugged it into the cabin's phone jack, and fired it up.  She rinsed and dried the cabin's old iron skillet, set it on the stove, and turned the heat on low.

By this time the laptop was ready for action.  Sally opened her e-mail program and found she had several new messages.  All were from different senders (with what looked like randomly generated names), but all had identical subject lines: "CAPTURED CAT BURGLAR."  Sally opened the first message, and found what looked like a SPAM solicitation to visit a porn site: "See the Captured Cat Burglar get what's coming to her;" "Hot Girl/Girl Action;" "Naked and Helpless;" "Tight Ropes and Cruel Gags;"  ...but there was a single image among the lurid banners... and that was  unmistakably an infrared image of Katherine Banning, clad all in black, plugging her Palm Pilot into a security panel.  Below was a URL.

Her face pale and stomach churning, Sally opened the internet address with unsteady fingers.  Her browser launched and a series of redirections began, culminating in a rather sinister black screen.  "She came to rob the Baroness!" appeared, together with an image of Katherine in the same black jeans, sneakers, and turtleneck Sally had last seen her wearing.  She was superimposed on a computer generated castle, and as Sally watched, a lightning flash illuminated the castle's sinister towers, turrets, and walls.

The usual disclaimer ("You are entering an adult site...," etc.), was below.  Sally scrolled down until she found the "ENTER" button.  She clicked... and a computer generated cartoon story began.  A cat burglar (Katherine) entered a sinister castle, was captured by computer generated trolls and amazon warriors; restrained on a steel table in a stereotypical Mad Scientist's Laboratory; was stripped, manhandled, and mauled in lurid, graphic, and humiliating detail by a black-clad female (the torturer's features hidden by a computer generated mask); was gagged with a huge sponge and an elastic bandage; and was bound with black rope to a steel chair in a dank, dripping, spider and rat infested dungeon.  All of the images of Katherine were unmistakably photographs, skillfully and artistically masked and superimposed on perspectively matched and exquisitely rendered backgrounds.  The final image was of a large computer generated torture chamber (straight out of an old Hammer Productions Dracula movie) with rack, wheel, iron maiden, and every other torture device Sally could name (and a few she couldn't) depicted in sinister detail.  Banners read: "What will happen next?"  "What cruel tortures will be visited upon our helpless victim?"  "Escape is Impossible!"  "Who Will Save Her?"  "Who will contact 'THE BARONESS' and arrange for the Cat Burglar's release?"

Shaking with anger and fear for her friend, Sally stared at the screen for several seconds...  She then went to the cache of supplies she had purchased at the Target store the night before, grabbed one—no two shop rags, a roll of duct tape, and stomped towards the bedroom.
Chapter 5

Poor Andrea was en strappado, up on her toes, bent forward at the waist, and arms raised behind her back.  Her toes danced on the hard, cold surface of a small anvil, straining to maintain contact.  She mewed through the two large rags stuffed in her mouth and seven tight bands of duct tape encircling her lower face.  She was naked and bound with an abundance of tight cotton rope cinched around her ankles, knees, elbows, and wrists.  Further, several bands of rope encircled her tiny waist and a single strand dove through her crotch, up through a pulley high in the barn's rafters, and down to her wrist bonds.  The pulley gave her the option of punishing either her shoulders or her crotch, but relief was impossible.  Her pale breasts hung.  The muscles and tendons of her calves and legs corded and strained under her pale, freckled skin.  Her dimpled buttocks clenched.  Her gagged face was flushed and grimacing.  Her hair was rudely gathered and knotted in a bun atop her head with a scrap of twine, loose curls fluttering and swaying around her face as she writhed and squirmed.

Sally, the author of Andrea's distress, slowly paced a circular path around her victim, pausing every few seconds to snap a picture with her digital camera.  "Two can play at this torture game," the obviously very angry blonde muttered.  She took another picture, and noted that the memory stick was full.  "More than enough to show your witch-bitch of an employer that I'm serious."  Sally stomped to the barn door and pulled it open enough for herself to exit.  "You can stay like that while I eat breakfast," she said. "And until I get back from New York with Katherine.   And even longer if Katherine isn't all right."  She pulled the door closed, leaving Andrea alone and suffering, and stomped away towards the cabin...
Chapter 5
...then turned and immediately stomped back, cursing under her breath.  She opened the barn door, released the rope suspending the pulley enforcing Andrea's stringent position, then lifted the naked, petite prisoner off the anvil.  "Okay, maybe the Crown-bitch could leave you up there, but I admit it... I'm a wimp."

Minutes later, Andrea was lashed to a kitchen chair, watching her captor cook breakfast.  She was still naked (of course), and her bonds from the barn unchanged; however, the long free end trailing from her crotch rope had been used to tightly loop the chair and her waist and enforce a sitting hog-tie by linking her ankles and wrists.

Sally was still angry, but she managed to burn neither the bacon, the eggs, nor the toast.  She consumed half the food in sullen silence (while Andrea watched), then used her pocket knife to carefully slit the layers of tape sealing her prisoner's lips.  She jerked the tape free (taking a half dozen red hairs with it), then pulled the rags from Andrea's mouth.

"Ow!" the captive complained.  "Sally... what the hell is wrong with you?"

"What's wrong?" Sally snapped.  "I'll show you what's wrong."  She swiveled her laptop until Andrea could see the screen.  On it was the image of Katherine, naked, gagged, sweating profusely, and tightly bound to a very real steel chair with very real rope in a very un- real dungeon.  Andrea recognized the chair, from bitter experience.   Helena... you bitch... you sweet, wonderful, impulsive bitch.  "I'm sorry," she sighed, shaking her head sadly.

"'I'm sorry!'" Sally scoffed, and shoved a piece of bacon in Andrea's mouth.  "I'm not your patsy any more, Red.  Shut up and eat.  Then you visit the john and get tied to the bed.  Then I go back to the city and get Katherine."

Andrea chewed the bacon, and sighed.  Helena...
Chapter 5

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