© Copyright 2013 - Charlotte Arabella Graham - Used by permission
Storycodes: Solo-M; FM+/f; cd; fem; public; capture; bdsm; torture; mutilate; hospital; cons/nc; XXX
Part 3: Chapter 14
Late next day Leslie was more or less conscious. Amber and Charles had sat by her bedside all the time, one or other briefly going off duty for a pee or to fetch more coffee. Apart from an occasional brief visit, the nursing staff left them alone. Her cut and swollen face made speaking difficult and painful for her, but they held her hand by way of encouragement and comfort and slowly pieced together what had happened from the, not always coherent ramblings, of the heavily sedated Leslie as she drifted in and out of consciousness
It was clear that she had set off that morning with a deep sense of unease. As she had told Charles, first thing, the way the arrangement for the visit had been made had not seemed quite right. In the past her client had always either called at the house to discuss arrangements in detail or at least telephone personally so that there was a complete mutually understanding of what the scene was to entail and how far it was to go. This time all she had got was a fax asking her to bring a range of things for a ‘party’ that night. As she wasn’t due to arrive until evening, she had taken a rather circuitous, scenic route, hoping that it would help to soothe her jagged nerves.
Leslie had called in at some antique shops, but found nothing of any interest, just the usual odds and ends that the big dealers in London did not want and that remained to be offered at inflated prices to gullible tourists. The high spot had been a leisurely lunch at a nice country hôtel on the way. Her father had taken her there when she was little and it had brought back fond memories.
It was a nice day and by mid-afternoon she had shaken off her concerns, telling herself that she was being silly. However her fears returned with a vengeance when she arrived at the house which appeared to be all shut up and deserted. Eventually she had found the house-keeper who told her that her supposed client and family had gone to France two weeks ago and were not expected back for another month. It seemed that her premonition had been right. Clearly, she had been tricked into making the journey and, though it was getting late she had no choice, but to retrace her steps. Perhaps she could see if they had a room at the place she had had lunch and stay the night.
Leslie got back into her car, started the engine and slipped it into gear. In the gathering darkness, she had driven slowly down the long tree lined drive, deep in thought. No sooner had she rejoined the main road than she was conscious of another car that pulled out from the side and followed her closely. She had tried accelerating and slowing down, but it just kept pace, unnervingly just like two weeks before. She couldn’t read the number plate because of the glare of the tailing headlight that were kept on full beam, but it could well have been the big Mercedes again.
This was kept up for thirty minutes. Little-by-little the trailing car pushed her to higher and higher speeds. There was no problem of handling the Jaguar however fast it went, but she increasingly became concerned about just how fast she was going on the windy country roads not knowing exactly what was round the next corner while being partly blinded by the lights of the following car. By now she was doing the best part of 150kph.
“This is crazy at night on these roads,” she told herself.
Suddenly the Mercedes dropped back as if it had given up the chase. She rounded a corner and was confronted by a big horse transporter drawn at right angles to the road, blocking her path. She swerved to try to miss it, but there was nowhere for her to go.
Leslie clipped the corner of the lorry. The momentum of the car threw it into the air, sending it spinning and somersaulting into a ditch. As the airbags expanded pushing her back in the seat the right-hand side of the car’s roof hit the ground and pain exploded through her shoulder as things crumpled on top of her and she passed out.
She came round and saw figures swimming in front of her. At first she could not decide where she was, then realised that she must be lying on the floor, inside the lorry with which she had just collided. The lorry was now moving and with each little jolt, pain shot through her right arm. She tried to move it at a moment that coincided with a particularly severe lurch of the lorry, but the pain was too much and she screamed.
“It must be broken,” she decided.
A pair of black clad, female legs appeared above her and straddled her, one foot to each side of her waist.
“Oh, it’s awake is it?” sneered a voice. Leslie forced herself to focus. It was Sarah Turnbull.
“I warned you Ms Weston, it is Ms isn’t it? Not to meddle in my affairs,” she gave the prostrate Leslie a sharp kick in her kidneys with the pointed toe of her boot. “But you thought that you knew better. Mr Cooke and I had a minor disagreement about what should be done with you. He was for doing something permanent, whereas my preference was to make you a permanent example for others not to meddle. After his two abortive attempts, about which I am not pleased,” she gave Cooke a vitriolic glance that caused him to hang his head, “it is my turn. I’m going to fix you for good.”
“Cooke, Sam,” she snapped, “grab her legs and pull them apart, hard!”
Leslie was still too dazed to comprehend or resist. Sarah Turnbull sat on her abdomen while the two men each pulled on a leg, painfully spreading them apart in a wide V, the mini-skirt of her favourite leather Montana suit offering no impediment. Leslie was not wearing any panties and it was obvious that both men, but Sam especially, were enjoying the view.
“Stop ogling, Sam and give me your knife,” Sarah ordered. With a free hand he fumbled in his trouser pocket and produced a clasp knife that he offered to Sarah.
“Well, open it you dolt,” she spat. He did as he was told, opening the knife with his teeth.
Sarah tested the blade for sharpness with her thumb and was apparently satisfied. Sarah was clearly relishing what she was about to do. Though her back was to Leslie she was obviously talking for her to hear.
“I going to cut off that pretty little clittie and those libia,” she said, poking the organs several times with the point of the knife, and provoking an involuntary reaction in them.
“In Africa,” she went on, “they do it to seven-year olds. It often leaves them scared, mentally as well as physically, for life. In adults it is much worse. For them, not only is it the fear and pain, but also the knowledge of what they are about to lose.
“In some cultures,” she became almost professorial, “they go the whole way and remove everything. Infibulation or pharaonic circumcision as practiced in Sudan and Somalia and involves the complete ablation of clitoris, labia minora and part of labia majora. In the Sudan the two sides of the vulva are then sewn together with silk or catgut stitches whereas in Somalia thorns are used in order to close the vulva, except a very small opening for the passage of urine and menstrual flow.
“On the wedding night, the groom will have to open his bride, more often than not with a double-edged dagger. In some tribes, the woman is sewn back each time her husband goes travelling and is opened again each time he comes back.
“In case of divorce, the woman is sewn up to forbid her any possibility of intercourse.
“In this case we will be lenient and in order to demonstrate our magnanimity we will confine ourselves to clitoridectomy or excision. It consists of the ablation of the clitoris as well as labia minora and is the operation of choice in Egypt.”
“Fuckin’ ‘ek, you’re not going to…,” said Sam, as this medical exposition soaked in. It was all very well to try to make her have a fatal accident, but this made him feel sick.
“Certainly,” retorted Sarah and, with this she took hold of Leslie’s organs and proceeded to hack at them with the knife. Leslie tried to squirm away, but with the two men holding her, Sarah on top and a broken arm here was nothing she could do to save herself. Sam threw up and, mercifully, Leslie passed out again.
Amber gave Leslie a sip of water and wiped her forehead where beads of perspiration had formed due to the strain of reliving her ordeal. Leslie waved the glass away with her good arm and went on.
“I came round a couple of time during the process then, the next time everything was still. Suddenly there was an explosion and I felt a flash of heat. They must have towed the car to where they had dumped me and then set fire to it. I couldn’t move my arms. The pain in the right one was awful, but far worse was the excruciatingly burning in my groin.
“The rest I guess Amber knows more about than I do.”
“Yes, she’s told us all about rescuing you.” soothed Charles, “It’s going to be alright now.”
“I didn’t know what they had done to my hair ‘til I got here and the duty doctor started to clean me up. I’d come round a bit by then. When he got to the bleeding between my legs I think he nearly passed out. Anyway I told him to contact Ray, which he did.
There was a long pause. Leslie slumped back in to her pillows, the rest of the assembled company, deep in their own thoughts, reliving Leslie’s terrifying experience in their own terms.
“I know that you were worried yesterday morning,” said Charles, at last after Leslie’s account had had time to sink in, “But I did not expect anything quite like this.”
“They want me out of business so that they can get their hooks into their old clients who switched to me so that they can blackmail them again into protecting their drug trafficking. What they did to me was in part because I expect that they think that by stopping me enjoying sex it will stop me working, which it won’t ‘cause that’s not what I’m about,” she added defiantly, “but also to serve as a frightening warning to other girls not to cross their path.” There was another silence as Leslie slumped back into the pillows again as if to regain her strength after reliving her ordeal.
“How long has this been going on for?” Charles eventually asked.
“Oh, perhaps for six months or more, but it’s been getting worse over the last few weeks. Before the do with the car, I have had several threatening ‘phone calls or ones where the caller just hung up. Three weeks ago there was a break-in. I was in the lounge when the alarm went off. Someone had forced the back door in the mews. When I looked round after, there were scratches on the dungeon door, but it had proved too tough for them so they came up to the hall where they triggered the alarm. As I got to the head of the stairs the intruder grabbed my prize art deco statue, Preiss’s ‘Flame Leaper’, off its pedestal in the middles of the hall and escaped the way they had come.”
“Didn’t you give chase,” asked Amber.
“Well,” Leslie, despite everything tried to laugh, a laugh that was stifled at birth by the pain it caused her, “I wasn’t exactly dressed for running down the street, not that that would have mattered, but I was trying out some especially demanding new shoes that wouldn’t come off in a hurry.”
“That explains the mark in the dust on the pedestal when I first went into the house, it must have happened only a day or two before,” thought Charles. Then, aloud, “I don’t suppose that you could tell the police?”
“Not officially,” said Leslie, “just one or two individuals. They sent a young constable round to do a Sherlock Holmes impression, mainly by way of placating the insurance company.
“I had my poor dear favourite Montana suit on. I gave him tea and biscuits, and a lot of leg, in the lounge upstairs and he went away happy, but without any information. But I’m sure I know who it was.
“The intruder was a woman wearing a black catsuit and, although she had a black stocking or something pulled over her face I reckon it was Sarah Turnbull, herself, Fred Cooke’s boss.”
“What makes you think that?” asked Amber.
“Because, when she saw me, at the top of the stairs, she shouted abuse at me and said that she would ‘finish me off,’ if I didn’t stop work immediately. That was a mistake because I recognised her voice.”
“Perhaps you were supposed to,” murmured Charles, as much to himself as for anyone else’s benefit.
A nurse came in and gave Leslie another sedative. She closed her eyes and began to fall asleep again. Just before she did so, she opened them briefly and rolled her head to look at Amber.
“Sweetie,” she said. “Do something about Charlotte’s face. Anyone would think that she was growing a beard.” With that she dropped off
Barry was much later returning than he had suggested. They waited for him in the lounge, Amber using the time to carry out some running repairs to Charles’s makeup. This had not been without its moments and might have bordered on the hilarious in other circumstances. Neither Amber nor Charles had a razor in their respective handbag ‘tool kits’ yet Charles would need to shave very soon. In the end it was decided that they should try the Gents to see if there was a vending machine. Charles felt curiously reluctant to go and look, but Amber insisted that he had to do the job, pointing out that, after all, he had been in the Gents before and knew what to expect.
With an excessive concern for persons’ assumed sensitivities, the designers of that part of the hospital had placed the toilets for the two sexes at opposite ends of a long corridor. Charles felt a strange unease as he and Amber, ostensibly two rather sexily dressed women made their way done the ‘male’ corridor and, although they were the only visitors, at that hour he insisted that Amber mount guard while he took the plunge.
Two minutes later he emerged grinning and holding aloft three disposable razors by way of a trophy.
“You know,” he laughed, “that was the most embarrassing thing I’ve done for ages. I now feel that I’m in the wrong place whichever one I choose. Here, put one of these in your handbag. You never know when it might come in useful.” He offered her a razor that she took off him. “I’m not going to do that again if it can be helped!”
They had then retraced their steps to the Ladies where Amber seated Charles at a vanity unit and worked her magic on his face. Once again she managed to pull off the effect between them of ‘kid sister and big sister’ or ‘mother and daughter’.
“It’s so much better than anything I am able to achieve,” he said, standing up and turning left and right to admiring the finished result.
“Oh, you’re getting pretty good,” she encouraged him, “and I’ve had a lot more practice and training, gone on.” she gave him a gentle pat on the bottom, “We don’t want to keep Barry waiting.”
However, it was the latter who kept them waiting, not that they had any intention of leaving until they were more reassured about Leslie’s condition. Neither of them much felt like talking and decided to grab a few minutes’ sleep. Amber curled up in the corner of a settee. Oblivious to the fact that any passer-by would be able to see straight up his short tight skirt, Charles sat with his feet up on a coffee table, trying to bring them some relief while cursing himself for forgetting to put the keys in his handbag.
“This is becoming a habit,” he thought as he dozed off.
Charles was wakened by a discrete cough. It was Barry.
“Sorry to wake sleeping beauty,” he said, “but it’s gone half-past seven. Some of us have been working all day and night for you and I sure that there are things to do here. Come on, what’s that state of play?”
Charles prised open his eyes and blinked a Barry silhouetted against a window through which sunlight was shining.
“What time did you say it was? God, I’m stiff.” He unfolded himself from the settee and put his feet, tingling as circulation returned gingerly to the ground. He ached all over and his corset and rubber panties were killing him.
“Sorry, Barry, I must go for a pee,” he said euphemistically and made off in the direction of the Ladies, fervently hoping that there would be no one else there.
Amber was instantly awake and in top gear.
“Hello, Barry, never mind Charlotte, I’m all right.” Was she ever otherwise thought the departing Charles?
“What’s your news?”
“Well, as far as you are concerned, young lady, I arranged to have lunch with the Chairman of your TV Company, as a result of which, you will hear no more about you escapade of yesterday.
“There is no way that the police can be kept out of this, but I think I have persuaded them to be a bit low key at least until Miss Weston is out of hospital.”
“Yes, a young constable did come round this morning,” Amber volunteered. “He didn’t stop long. The sister gave him a cup of tea and told him that Leslie was unconscious and not to be disturbed for several days. Ray Browne appeared and did his Senior Consultant thing and the young man went away apparently happy.”
“Yes, exactly,” relied Barry enigmatically.
Charles returned from wriggling around in his corset and untangling the plumbing inside his panties. They told Barry as much as they could of what they had gathered from Leslie.
Barry listened without interrupting them save for an occasional grunted acknowledgement and pauses while he made brief notes. Finally, they got round to telling Barry about the theft of the statue.
“That’s very interesting,” he said thoughtfully. “About two weeks ago I was offered the prototype ‘Flame Leaper’ by an anonymous caller. I reckon that I know pretty much what is where and who might be in the market, so I asked some questions about the provenance of the piece. At first the caller was evasive, but when I pressed he got angry and said that, ‘if I didn’t want the bargain of a life-time he world go elsewhere,’ and slammed the receiver down.”
“You think that someone was trying to sell Leslie’s piece?” asked Charles.
“Yes, but more than that,” Barry went on, “in yesterday’s mail was a flyer for a sale the week after next, of Art Deco. One of the lots for sale is described as ‘An important piece, ‘Flame Leaper’ by Preiss, believed to be the original prototype’. Just give me half an hour, will you?” and he went back to his car to use the telephone in privacy. Barry returned with a determined look on his face.
“It must be the same one,” he announced, “because I’m sure no one is selling, certainly not anything they could claim was the original. I’ve been ringing round my contacts and they all say the same thing.”
There was a pause. Then Amber had an idea.
“What do you suppose would happen if we could show on the day that it really is Leslie’s?” she asked.
“Well,” Barry replied, “in many ways it seems daft of them to be trying to sell it. It’s a very rare and valuable piece, but I wouldn’t have thought that Sarah and Co were that hard up, though it might be useful to make some enquiries in that direction too.” He scribbled a note in his diary before going on, “Normally you would have expected them to pass it through a dealer or a fence, but I’ve tried them all, including the less reputable ones, and drawn a complete blank. As for your idea, Amber, assuming that it can be proved beyond doubt to be stolen it rather depend on when and how the auction house are told. If it were before the sale the piece could be discretely withdrawn. If, on the other hand, you waited ‘til the piece had been knocked down, it would cause a sensation.
“You would have to be pretty damned sure of your evidence then, mind you. Either way round, the auction house would be none too pleased. They’d want to cover at least their costs and would see to it that the would-be vendor was black balled with all the other houses. The Press would love it and you could hardly keep the police out of it.”
“Well, let’s go and see if Leslie is awake and ask her if she can prove beyond all doubt that it is hers.” said Charles. “Or not, I suppose,” he added. “It is probably dangerous to tangle with Sarah Turnbull, but we can’t let them get away with what they have been doing. They’ve tried to kill her twice, then this.” He waved his hand in the direction of her room. “Getting the sculpture back for her while embarrassing ST would be something.”
“I agree,” said Barry, “but it can only be a start. If you are going down that route I hope that you will count me in, but you have to remember what Machiavelli says, ‘Men should either be pampered or crushed, since they can secure redress for small wrongs, but not fatal ones.’”
“But how can we fight Sarah, she’s got a whole gang of thugs at her disposal,” asked Amber.
“You’re a judo black-belt,” said Charles. “We have to try to harness the enemy’s own power and deflect it to his own destruction.”
“I’m not a judo any colour of belt,” said Amber biting her lip. “I just say I am to new clients by way of protecting myself.”
“Now you tell me,” replied Charles, come on, let’s see if Leslie is in a fit state to help us.”
Leslie was awake and sipping a drink as they entered her room. Charles stopped abruptly and stared at her, she looked odd.
“How do you like me bald?” she asked, turning her head round then, with a wince thought better of the display, it hurt too much.
“The nurses decided that the only way to clean up the mess left by Sarah Turnbull’s assault was to remove what little hair I had left.
Amber and Charles answered in unison.
“I prefer long hair,” said Charles.
“Bald is more sexy,” retorted Amber, “and anyway,” she went on, “long hair is a career in itself.”
“I’m trying to grow mine,” said Charles quietly.
“You’re only trying to show off,” Amber stabbed back. “Just because most of your contemporaries as smooth on top as billiard balls.”
“Oh, stop bickering you two,” protested Leslie wearily, “I not up to it.”
“Sorry,” they apologised.
“But it’s true,” said Amber under her breath.
“Now then,” warned Leslie wagging a finger at her, “if you go on like that I might just have to ask Charles to try out another of his inventions on you.”
“Oh, yes please?” said Amber, barely concealing her excitement at the prospect. Then, turning back to Charles, “Have you got something else?”
“Might have,” he teased, “if you promise to be very good.”
Amber gave a little bob of a curtsey.
“Amber pwomises,” she lisped in a little girl voice, one hand with fingers crossed, hidden from Charles behind her back.
Leslie slapped the hand. “I wouldn’t bank on it Charlotte,” she said.
“But, really do you have some more things?” asked Amber, serious again.
“Just wait and see,” replied Charles mysteriously.
Barry, who had hung back when Charlotte and Amber first entered the room, came in and gave a discrete cough again. Charles couldn’t help wondering if he was a butler in a previous incarnation.
“If the children have quite finished there are things that must be settled quickly, that is if you feel strong enough Miss Weston.”
Amber gave Charles a nudge as if to say ‘it’s all your fault’. He was about to reciprocate when Leslie held up her hand.
“A truce, please”
Barry took command. “Have a look at this picture in the sale catalogue would you, Miss Weston?”
“Oh for heaven’s sake call me Leslie,” she said taking it from him.
“Do you think it is your piece, er, Leslie? There are not very many originals and I think that I know where most of the others are.”
“It looks like mine,” agreed Leslie, handing the book back while the others moved over to see what all the fuss was about.
“But can you be absolutely sure,” asked Barry.
Leslie though for a moment.
“In fact, I think I can. Grand-dad bought it and there is bound to be a receipt in the safe, he was meticulous about such things. Then for all the most valuable pieces he used to make a unique pattern of little scratches, underneath usually, where it didn’t show and then photograph them as a record. The photo should be in the safe too. It’s a pity that the catalogue doesn’t show under the base.”
“Well, that doesn’t matter, in fact it may be better in case someone stumbled on the marks by accident. If you can tell Charlotte where to find the details I will go round to the sale room and have a look to make sure it really is your piece.”
“Shall I go?” asked Charles, feeling that Barry seemed to be putting himself to a lot of trouble for someone he hardly knew.
“Oh, it’s no bother,” said Barry, reading his thoughts. “For a start I am a well-known collector and the staff won’t object if I handle and examine the stature very closely whereas they would be suspicious of you as a stranger. If it is what we think then I have a plan for giving Mistress Turnbull a very nasty surprise.
“There is great justice in our cause,” said Barry, more to himself than for the benefit of the assembled company, adding, “Justum enim est bellum uibus neccessarium, et pia arma ubi nulla nisi in armis spes est.”
“Just because you went to Oxford,” grumbled Amber, “you don’t have to use Latin.”
“Cambridge, actually,” said Barry quietly.
“Me too,” murmured Charles, even quieter.
“Well I went to the local Tech,” replied Amber somewhat angrily. “What are you talking about?”
“It’s a quote from the Roman writer, Livy, I think,” said Leslie. “It means something like ‘that because a necessary war is a just war and where there is hope only in arms, those arms are holy’.”
“Core!” said Amber, much impressed, as Barry nodded his agreement at the translation. “How did you know that, Lesso?”
“My dad taught me. Okay, enough of culture, what are we going to do?”
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story continues in The Consultants 3.15