The offices of Mumford and Peabody were in a tree-lined avenue in one of the more wealthy suburbs of the city, meaning that the grey van stood out a little as it stopped on the road.
“Can’t you keep that lot quiet in the back,” Jack called over his shoulder as he heard a muffled group of yells and wails.
“If you don’t shut up,” he heard Dave say, “Then...” The calls suddenly stopped, making Jack smile as he looked at the door to the building.
“Right,” he said as he picked up a balaclava and his handgun, “Keep your phone on. I’m going to go inside, and if she’s not there I’ll call you, all right?”
Babs Carter hated her lunch hour. As Mister Peabody left with his last client, she smiled and said she would be fine, lying through her teeth as she said it. She hated having to do the office cover for the phones, but everyone had to do their turn, and she had to make the best of it.
As the door closed, she stood up and brushed some imaginary crumbs off her black leather skirt and walked to the kitchen. Once there, she filled the electric kettle and plugged it in, hoping that a hot cup of coffee would make the time pass more quickly.
As she was occupied, Jack entered the office, locking the door behind himself as he pulled the balaclava over his head. He could see Babs in the kitchen - long legs from the hem of her skirt to the top of her high heeled shoes, a sleeveless white top and long blonde hair.
“I’m sorry, we’re closed,” Babs said as she walked back in, only to nearly faint at the sight of the masked man standing there holding a gun at her.
“Charlotte Danson - where is she?”
“She... She just left with Mr Peabody,” Babs stammered as she watched the masked man take out a cell phone and call.
“She just left - grab her as she walks past.” Ending the call, Jack picked up a roll of brown packing tape and said “Sit down, hands on the armrests, and shut up.”
Dave looked out of the window and saw a tall, thin dark haired woman walk out of the office door. She was wearing some sort of brown fur jacket, tight blue jeans and over the knee brown leather boots and she had her head down as she started to walk by.
Jumping out of the driver’s seat, he grabbed the girl by the arm and opened the side door, saying “Get in there,” and pushing her in before she had a chance to respond. She barely had time to register the presence of the other five women before she was pushed face down onto the floor, and felt her hands being pulled behind her back.
He did not even see the two people coming out behind him, the man escorting the dark haired woman to his car...
The tearing sound was all abs could hear as the tape pulled at the bare skin if her arm, while Jack taped them tightly down to the wooden armrests of her seat.
“Where was she going,” he asked the frightened secretary as he finished binding her arms. Kneeling, eh span her round and grabbed her legs, crossing her ankles as he wrapped the brown tape around them.
“I think they.... OW!” Babs called out as the tape bit into her bare skin. “They were going back to her flat to collect some documents.”
“Her flat? Holy Christ, just how much more can this day through at me!” Jack swore under his breath as he taped the young woman’s legs together, and then looked at her. “I guess someone will come to free you soon - how do you open your safe?”
“It’s open - Mr Mumford never has it locked during the day.”
“Stupid man,” Jack said as he opened the safe and started to stuff piles of bank notes into his pockets, “This might teach him a lesson.”
“Serves him right too, the skinflint,” Babs said, then she looked at Jack, her lips in a pout before she said “so are you going to gag me now?”
“Yup,” Jack said as he picked up the roll of tape, “Why?”
“Can’t you use a scarf or something? I don’t want my hair damaged by that stuff.”
Looking round, Jack saw a large headscarf, brown silk with large white dots, hanging on the coat rack. Picking it up, he rolled it into a thick band and held it in front of Babs’ mouth.
“Open wide and say ah.”
“Ahhffnnu,” she mumbled as he pulled the scarf between her lips and secure it tightly around her head, before kissing her on the forehead.
“Have fun,” Jack said as he left the office, walking quickly out and into the van.
“Did you get her,” he said to Dave as he closed the door, only to see the new arrival in his arms, her head in the sack as he wrapped some rope tightly around her arms and chest. Her hands were tied together in front of her and to her legs, while her ankles were crossed and bound, the leather squeaking like mad as she tried to move them, and the sound amplified by the five other women trying to move.
“Finally!” Jack said as Dave tied off the final knot, “Let’s have a look at the famous Miss Charlotte Danson.” He pulled the hood off to reveal the deep green eyes staring at him over the wide strip of silver tape that covered her mouth.
“Hhthlldufnkur,” she screamed out as Jack looked at her, then at Dave.
“Dave,” he said quietly, “Did you happen to see another dark haired girl and a man walk past?”
“No - you said to grab her as she came out, so I did. Why?”
“Because,” Jack said with an exasperated gasp, “Charlotte Danson has blue eyes, not green. This is not her.”
Dave grimaced as Jack picked up the abandoned handbag by Dave’s side and looked through it.
“This,” he said as he held up a driving licence, “is Miss Alicia Mumford - the daughter of whoever owns this fine establishment, I presume?”
Alicia nodded and grunted as the sack was pulled back over her head. “So where has she gone this time,” Dave said as he took the keys from Jack.
“Where this all started,” Jack said as he sat Alicia next to the others, his own knees pulled up to his chest, “Her flat.”