"Another drink, ma'am?" asked the well-built waiter.
Susan lowered her sunglasses and scowled at the shirtless twenty-something.
"Yes, but don't ever 'ma'am' me again," she replied.
The server smiled. "Absolutely, Miss McDonnell," he said and headed back to the bar.
Susan sighed and lay back in the chair. It had been a rough few weeks at the precinct trying to get a handle on this corruption case. Every lead was turning into a dead end, and this vacation was exactly what she needed. The fresh ocean breeze blew lightly over her face as the server came back with her margarita.
"Your drink... miss," he said, setting it down on the table. "Would you care for a massage?"
Susan sighed. "That would be wonderful," she replied.
The server grabbed her abruptly and rolled her onto her stomach, pinning her arms behind her back.
"What the hell?!" Susan exclaimed.
At this moment, Detective McDonnell realized the beachside vacation was only a dream.
The assault, however, was not.
McDonnell awoke face-down on her bed with a man perched on her back atop her crossed arms. Before she could question his motives or call for help, he shoved a rag into her mouth and followed it up with another tied around her head, securing it in place.
Now that she was silenced, the man shifted backward slightly and grabbed McDonnell's arms, pulling them upward. He pressed her wrists together and quickly wrapped them tightly in white cord. McDonnell tried to resist, but the man's weight on her lower back combined with the awkward angle of her shoulders made her struggles ineffective.
The man held McDonnell down while he turned around and tied her legs together at the knees. When that was complete, he stood up and worked on tying her ankles together as well. McDonnell twisted around to try and identify her attacker, but he was wearing a black lycra hood that covered his entire head and face. Clothing-wise, he was in a plain black sweatshirt and store-brand jeans. She also despaired when she saw the blue rubber gloves on his hands, knowing there wouldn't be any fingerprints to identify him with later.
When he was finished with her legs, he pulled McDonnell up into a sitting position and began wrapping more rope around her torso.
McDonnell tried asking him what he was after. Almost more horrifying than being immobilized was how he'd gotten in her apartment in the first place.
The man said nothing, however, and seemed completely focused on binding McDonnell. After coiling several loops of rope around her body both above and below her bustline, she felt him tie it off in back. With the leftover rope, he circled it around her forearms, and pulled her elbows closer together before tying off a final knot.
Again she tried to ask what he wanted and why he was doing this, but her muted questions were either incoherent or simply ignored.
The man walked out of McDonnell's bedroom and she could hear him rifling through her things. Since he wasn't interested in the jewelry box sitting openly on her dresser, she assumed he was looking for police files.
Fat chance finding anything, asshole, she thought. I never bring sensitive case files home.
The man returned to the bedroom empty-handed. McDonnell glared at him, waiting for the interrogation, but the man just shoved her back on the bed and rolled her onto her stomach.
He took another length of rope, doubled it, and passed it around the rope binding her ankles before passing the ends through the loop. He pulled it snug and grabbed McDonnell's wrists, weaving it through the rope around her wrists. McDonnell squealed as he yanked it until her hands were nearly touching her feet, at which point, he knotted it off to the ropes around her torso.
The man stared at the hogtied detective before leaving without speaking a word.
What the hell did he even want?
This, and similar questions would run through McDonnell's mind for the next several hours until her adrenaline finally subsided and exhaustion took over, sending her into an uncomfortable sleep.
The margarita boy didn't show up, and McDonnell didn't remember dreaming at all when she heard voices coming from her living room. She looked up and whimpered as loud as she could until she saw two officers from her precinct enter the bedroom.
Quickly, they removed McDonnell's gag, and she explained what happened as they untied her. They said the department had received an anonymous phone call from a pay phone telling them she needed assistance. When she hadn't shown up for the morning briefing, the two of them were dispatched to her apartment to see if she was okay.
Once she was free, McDonnell asked if they could wait in her living room until she could get a shower and a change of clothes. She wanted to come in and report this to the sergeant. Although she didn't say it, she didn't feel very safe at home right now, either.
The hot water eased some of the tension in her muscles, but McDonnell's brain wouldn't quit as she tried to figure out what the man's intentions were. Why would someone break into her home, tie her up, and then leave without taking anything or at least asking some questions?
After a lengthy meeting with the sergeant, McDonnell sat at her desk poring over the files for the corruption case. The occasional piece of evidence or an essential witness had gone missing right before the relevant case was to go to trial. None of the cases seemed to have any connection, but everything pointed to an inside job.
Last night's attack wasn't helping McDonnell connect any dots, either. If this was an inside job, and her assailant was trying to scare her away, he should have known better. She was well-regarded as one of the most tenacious detectives in the precinct.
At around eight o'clock in the evening, McDonnell realized she hadn't eaten all day. The excitement and exhaustion from last night had killed her appetite until now, but she needed some carbs or caffeine to keep going -- preferably both.
The day shift had gone home hours ago, and most of the night staff were emergency responders. She probably needed some real food, but she felt more secure here at the precinct.
Let's see if I can get anything edible from the vending machines, she thought as she got up and headed down the hall to the breakroom.
The breakroom was empty as most of the night shift hadn't reached break time yet. She turned her nose up at the bubbling sludge in the coffee pot and opted for a snack instead.
McDonnell pondered over the selection, wondering if pretzels or a candy bar were better right now. Doing the math in her head, she opted for the candy with peanuts figuring the protein and carbs would best suit her at the moment.
As she reached for her wallet, however, she was grabbed from behind, and a cloth was pressed over her face. McDonnell tried to wrench herself free, but the arms held her firm, and a sickeningly sweet odor wafted up her nose.
McDonnell thrashed to the side, and she started when she saw the familiar black hood from last night!
How did he get in here? was her last though before everything went black.
Oooh, not again... McDonnell thought as she woke up and realized what happened.
Judging by the buckets and cleaning supplies, she was in one of the janitor closets. She was kneeling against the wall with her arms stretched overhead and tied to a wall hook. She went to stand up, but found her ankles had been tied together with a rope running over her butt and around her waist. To add to her troubles, she could feel the rag in her mouth and the duct tape covering it, so she knew yelling for help was also out of the question. Fortunately, she had opted for slacks this morning instead of a skirt, so at least she wasn't perched on bare knees.
Trying desperately to keep her cool, McDonnell tugged at the rope binding her hands and tried to wriggle them free, but her wrists were crossed, and rope ran over every intersection as well as around each wrist individually, so there was no give.
McDonnell had one more idea. She worked her hands around and managed to grab a hold of the rope tethering her with both hands. She pulled down as hard as she could until her legs came off the ground, but the rope and the hook held fast.
Of course you're the one thing in this building that's well-made, she conceded, lowering herself back down. The hook I hang my coat on breaks every six months, but you can hold over a hundred pounds.
Someone was just going to have to find her. Surely, the janitorial staff would be in before too long. She had no idea how long she'd been out, and she desperately hoped they hadn't already completed for the night and gone home.
A few hours later, a very surprised janitor found the bound officer. Naturally, he had car trouble and shown up a few hours later than normal.
The officers still in the building did a sweep but found nothing. Likewise, the few cameras on that side of the building either broke or were turned off just prior to McDonnell's attack.
This has to be connected to my case, thought McDonnell, which means it's definitely an inside job. Worse, I can't trust anyone right now.
She went back to her desk and flipped through one of the files. One of the witnesses, Heather Richardson, was a rare case in that she hadn't gone missing, but instead withdrew her testimony and refused to talk to the police any more. The odds were good she was being threatened and staying silent, but since the other witnesses had gone missing, she was the only available option.
Heather lived out in the suburbs, and McDonnell wasn't looking forward to driving all the way out there. With no other option, however, McDonnell grabbed her car keys and sneaked out of the building before the sergeant or anyone else could offer to "help" and waylay her again.
Although the drive out to Ms. Richardson's house was uneventful, McDonnell's mind raced the entire time. Every time she tried to rule someone out as a traitor, she came up with an occasion where they had the opportunity. It didn't help that she was exhausted from her two attacks.
McDonnell parked on the street and walked up to the house. She rang the doorbell and waited. There wasn't any answer, so she knocked and identified herself. When no one answered the knock, she tried the doorknob. It was unlocked.
Drawing her gun, McDonnell crept into the foyer and listened closely. She could hear a whimpering noise coming from an adjoining room. She peeked in, and there was Heather, bound to a wooden chair with her mouth gagged with a thick cloth!
McDonnell scanned the room, and seeing no one, stepped inside. "Ms. Richardson?" she asked.
The woman nodded frantically.
"Hold on, I'll get you out of that." McDonnell holstered her weapon and went toward the anxious woman. Before she could get inside arm's length, she was tackled from behind!
As her arms were pinned behind her back, she managed to twist backward and see the familiar black hood that had tormented the last thirty-six hours of her life.
"Of course it's you, you son of a bitch!" she yelled.
The detective felt handcuffs being clamped over her wrists, and she winced when the hooded man clicked them tight.
"What's the point of all this, anyway?!" she screamed.
By way of an answer, the man pulled a red rubber ballgag out of his back pocket.
"Oh, hell no," said McDonnell, clamping her jaw shut and trying to twist away from the gag.
The man pinched her nose shut with one hand, holding her head still until she had to breathe, at which point he forced the red ball inside her mouth and behind her teeth. Then he fastened the belt behind her neck, adjusting it until it was snug.
The man knelt back and pulled out some more rope to tie McDonnell's ankles together, but she pulled her leg free and delivered a sharp blow to the man's jaw, sending him reeling back toward the entrance.
McDonnell rolled and wobbled up to her feet. She darted to the back of the house and found a door leading outside. After fumbling with the lock, she escaped outdoors only to find herself in a backyard surrounded by an eight-foot privacy fence.
Distraught, she looked around for the gate. Finally she spotted it and turned in that direction. Before she got more than a step, though, she was again tackled from behind by the man.
He rolled McDonnell onto her back and pressed a cloth against her face. An all-too-familiar odor filled her nostrils.
Not again, she thought before fading into unconsciousness.
A throbbing pain in her arms brought McDonnell back to the real world. As she looked up, she saw her wrists enclosed in padded leather cuffs padlocked to a three-foot metal rod suspended from the ceiling by a chain. She looked down and saw her bare feet were similarly cuffed and barred. However, her feet were touching the floor, so she was able to stand and take the pressure off her arms, although the width of her stance made it difficult to balance.
Horror set on almost immediately as she realized she wasn't wearing the blouse, jacket, and slacks she had put on this morning. Instead, she was in a lacy black
negligee and panties, meaning the silent freak had undressed and changed her while she was unconscious!
Her angry screams were cut off by the plastic ball filling her mouth, which was covered by a thick leather strap. She could feel more straps running under her jaw and over her cheeks and head, locking the gag in place.
Frustrated, she began looking around the room for anything that could help her escape. She appeared to be in a normal living room. Large windows to her right were covered with light curtains, and a large leather sofa sat a few feet in front of her. She wondered if she was supposed to take the place of a TV for her abductor's entertainment.
McDonnell jerked on the cuffs, but they were too snug. She fought back tears as it dawned on her that no one knew where she was, and frankly, neither did she. All she could do was stand and wait for whatever her captor had in store for her.
A short eternity later, McDonnell heard a door open and close, followed by the sound of a deadbolt being latched. Footsteps sounded like thunder on the hardwood floors as someone walked around. The casualness of the man's gait both unnerved and infuriated her as she waited.
Moments later, her hooded nemesis entered the room. As usual, he said nothing and just stared at her.
At least gloat, rant, or something, McDonnell thought. This silent treatment is killing me!
She tried vocalizing her thoughts, but the harness gag reduced her pleas to incomprehensible noise.
The man reached into his back pocket and pulled out a length of rope that he began doubling as he walked toward her.
McDonnell tried to back away, but the overhead chain only allowed her to step back a few inches.
The man reached under the negligee and around her waist. He took the other end of the rope and pulled it around, before passing the ends through the loop and tightening it until it was like a snug belt. He tied an overhand knot around the loop and centered it under McDonnell's navel.
McDonnell flinched as he passed it down between her legs and stepped behind her, holding it taut against her crotch. He positioned it between her butt cheeks and slid it under the rope around her waist. He gently tugged until McDonnell involuntarily squealed, then knotted it in place.
The rope wasn't tight enough to cause pain, but it was snug enough to be uncomfortable, and McDonnell squirmed against its invasive embrace.
The man moved back in front of her and lightly ran his right hand over her left cheek, down her neck and up her left arm. Pausing momentarily at her elbow, his hand descended down her arm, lightly caressing the side of her breast, and down her abdomen and stopping at her hip.
McDonnell closed her eyes, fearing the worst was about to occur.
Suddenly, a loud crash filled the room, and a team of SWAT agents charged in, guns pointed at the man, who backed away with his hands up.
McDonnell nearly squealed for joy as she realized her ordeal was finally over.
The squad leader, Nick Holden, walked up to the man and pulled off the hood. McDonnell gasped as she recognized Deputy Chief Jonathan Barr! As Barr was cuffed and read his rights, the other SWAT team members cut McDonnell free.
True to his nature, Barr said absolutely nothing the entire time, even when McDonnell began screaming questions at him as she was led outside to an ambulance.
The next day, McDonnell was informed that Barr finally confessed to being on the take for a local crime boss he refused to name. In regards to her torment, Barr had recently become smitten with her. When she was made the lead detective on the corruption case, it created an opportunity he couldn't resist.
The I.T. group discovered it was Barr's desk computer that had disabled the cameras on the night she was attacked at the station. McDonnell made a note to treat the team to a lunch in the future, but for now all she wanted was a few days of solid rest.
...and if the margarita boy happened to showed up in her dreams again, she wouldn't object.