* * *
CHAPTER SIXTEEN - Promises
I got Suzette to run me back to my car. I was beginning to realise just how terribly unfit I was, and hence my reason for the ride. I guess my idyllic country lifestyle had a lot to do with it. Lazing about, day after day in the Summer sun isn't exactly conducive to healthy living.
As I regained my breath I promised to get myself a dog and take him on long walks every day. It was either that or buy a track suit and trainers and take up jogging. I think on reflection I settled for the dog. It seemed the least strenuous of the two.
Anyway, back to the story, since I don't think my physical condition had any bearings on what was to follow. It was only a short distance to my car and I had something important to ask Suzette, and I offer you this and not my lack of fitness as my ulterior motive for begging a lift.
On my jog back to Hendry's I got round to thinking about Claudette. Now she'd always been a bit on an enigma in all this and I could never get to weigh her up properly. Somehow I could never get to see where she fitted into all this.
Try to follow my reasoning here and see if you agree with me?
Immediately after Fatima's abduction, when we first all got together in Fernando's office, I was introduced to Suzette and Pierre, and, after a little prompting by myself, found myself grudgingly informed of their true vocation in life - namely Government Agents, and that working at Hendry's was simply a cover for some rather covert operations.
So at this point I found myself in a room with a trio of Agents representing Spain, France and Great Britain. Yet at no time was Claudette's name ever mentioned and she certainly wasn't invited to join us. So, I asked myself; if she wasn't a spy, then what was she? She certainly looked like she was doing something underhand when I saw her in France; and there was more, I wanted to know why all the fuss from Fernando the moment she disappeared?
So I think you can see my point here. Somehow nothing made sense. So I put the question directly to Suzette. There was no time for messing about, we only had three-quarters of a mile to go. "Suzette, please tell me; where does Claudette fit into all this?" I asked. "And why all the fuss and panic from Fernando?"
Suzette took her eyes off the road and turned to me. She nearly ran up the curb in doing so. As she corrected her steering she spoke. "Why? Didn't you know? She's his fiancée. They're going to get married. That's why all the fuss and panic," she said as if it was common knowledge and something I should have been well aware of right from the start.
I didn't say anymore. I didn't have to. Suddenly I found myself looking at this complete mystery from an entirely different angle. Remember those pieces of jigsaw I kept telling you about? Well suddenly half a dozen of them all fell into place.
For example, certain facts that were once blurred now made a whole lot of sense. For one thing, Fernando's proposed marriage to Claudette would explain his initial reluctance to be taken in by Anthea's amorous advances: Then there was his sudden change of mood when he discovered that I was in Paris and probably meddling in Claudette's affairs: And finally it would explain his rapid departure when he found out that she'd gone missing.
Having thought all this through I found myself needing clarification on just one additional point. Something that had been bothering me for a long time, but I think I knew the answer anyway. "Claudette's surname wouldn't happen to be Villeneuve would it?" I asked somewhat rhetorically.
The name Claude Villeneuve had appeared on Anthea's list of joint Club owners, and for a long time I'd been thinking the names Claude and Claudette were very close. It would be an easy name change and also explain Fernando's reluctance to reveal the identity of the other three Club owners in the syndicate. He didn't want to give himself away, and just like Hendry using Anthea's name for convenience and tax purposes, Fernando had used Claudette's name on the list of joint owners.
Suzette looked to me again, and once more we nearly hit the curb. "Why? Yes! How did you know that?" she queried.
I smiled. "Just a shot in the dark," I told her.
That was about all the time we had before reaching my car. My Volvo was still there, parked up against the verge where I'd left it. I looked for visible signs of tampering and saw nothing obvious. Better still, the police weren't there with flashing blue lights all about the place.
I got out of Suzette's car and told her to turn round and head back to Hendry's, and that I would follow on behind. I thought it made sense to leave Joanne in the back of my car until we returned. We could then untie her in the privacy of the club.
I peeked in through the back window before getting into my car. The blanket was still there covering Joanne. I breathed a sigh of relief. Everything remained in order. She'd not been stolen.
After that I made haste. I got into my car and set off back to Hendry's, and, as you can imagine, I had a lot on my mind.
Suzette took her time in turning round and heading back the way we came. I don't think she wanted to let me out of her sight, or at least out of her rear view mirror. As she swung into the club's driveway I was following on closely behind.
Then a funny thing happened.
Whilst we were away the club had someone come knocking on the door. I'm not sure whether he was welcome or not, but I could see that Sadie was of the opinion that he certainly was not.
The club's dominatrix was stood in the doorway with finger poised and prodding at the man's chest. I felt proud of Sadie the way she went about protecting the club from unwelcome visitors. I should know, I was considered an undesirable myself once: And oh boy! Didn't she put me through it? Even to this day I still get nightmares.
I got out of my car and called up the steps: "Don't worry Sadie, he's a friend. I'll vouch for him."
I'm not sure whether Sadie was convinced, but she did retract her finger a little.
On hearing my voice the man turned in my direction. He seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. "Thank God you're here sport. I'm having a spot of trouble getting in," said the man.
"I'm not surprised," I told him as I climbed the steps. "This is a top class establishment and they don't allow riffraff in here."
We then hugged and embraced. "Bruce! What brings you down here then? I left you in Scotland," I said.
Bruce stepped away and held me at arm's length. "Been there, done that," he told me. "We fly back to Sydney from Heathrow on Tuesday, so we've returned to London to finish off our visit. I've got my campervan to sell and Jenny wants to finish off the shopping for presents."
I looked to the battered old campervan parked in the drive. Considering the miles it had done it had served them well. Jenny was sat inside. I signalled for her to get out and join us. "Well we'd better let you inside then," I told him. "Perhaps we can have a get together later tonight. Anthea and Sandy are not far away, I'll bring them over."
I then turned to Sadie who remained stood between Bruce and the doorway. I got the impression that she would defend the entrance to her dying breath. "It's all right Sadie, he's a friend. I'll vouch for him," I told her.
Sadie gave me a quizzical look, as if to say; you've got some funny friends, but accepted the fact and returned to the bar.
I then got to thinking. Before joining Bruce at the bar I needed to have a final quiet word with Suzette; and alone and in private. I thought here on the steps would be best, so I decided to send Bruce and Jenny on ahead of me.
I signalled to Suzette to remain a while, then led Bruce down the steps to my car. With Bruce stood alongside I opened up the tailgate of my Volvo. "I want you to do something for me Bruce," I told him, "I want you to take something inside with you, and I'll be in shortly, I need to have a few words with the girl on the steps first."
The moment I finished speaking I tossed aside the blanket to reveal Joanne all trussed up beneath. I scooped my arms beneath her body and lifted her out of the car. I then bundled her into Bruce's arms.
Bruce looked to the semi-naked and parcel wrapped young girl in his arms, then turned to me in bewilderment. "Strewth Sport! This is what I call real service! I think I'll come here more often!" he exclaimed.
I must admit it must have come as a bit of a surprise to Bruce. It's not everyday one gets a naked and trussed up girl dumped into your arms. But I considered the whole saga behind it too complicated to explain and didn't dwell on it. "Look Bruce, do something for me will you? Take her inside and let her loose, then buy her a drink at the bar and put it on my account. You and Jenny have one too. This is Joanne and she deserves looking after. She's a good lass," I told him. I then added a warning: "And don't do anything to make the girl behind the bar angry, you won't like it if she's gets angry."
As Bruce stood with mouth agape I slammed down the tailgate of my car. I then joined Suzette at the top of the steps and waited for Bruce to struggle by with Joanne in his arms and Jenny in tow. It was only when they were well inside the building did I turn to Suzette. "One final question?" I asked: "Why did Claudette go to Paris with Pierre?"
I could see the reluctance on Suzette's part to answer, but reply she did. I think by now I was gaining her trust. "Fernando was suspicious of Pierre and got Claudette to give a helping hand. They made up some excuse for Claudette to go back to Paris, and suggested that they both go together since Pierre was going there anyway to check on Shipping Agents," she explained.
I rubbed my chin thoughtfully. I knew what the answer to my second question was going to be, but I put it to her anyway. "And you followed so as to keep an eye on Claudette?" I suggested.
Suzette nodded her head then shrugged her shoulders. "Yes, but I didn't do a very good job. The trouble came when they split up. Pierre drove away in Claudette's car and she walked into the night club. And after that I lost her," she said sorrowfully.
I nodded my head. "And you phoned Fernando using your mobile from a car parked across the street?" I queried.
Suzette nodded in return. "Yes I did," she confirmed, "as soon as I saw you I phoned Fernando, then again about an hour later when I started to realise that something had gone wrong."
I rubbed my chin in deep thought. At least everything started to make sense now. I put another point to her just to tie up a few loose ends. "After that Fernando flew to Paris and you returned to England," I questioned.
Suzette nodded her head. "Fernando shot off to Paris immediately he heard of Claudette's disappearance and I came back here," she confirmed, adding a forlorn shrug to the shoulders.
I'd run out of questions. But at least what Suzette had told me clarified the situation. "Thank you Suzette," I said, "that will be all. I think we'd best return to the bar. I've got guests to look after." And with that we made our way to the bar in silence. Both, I think, with very different thoughts on our minds.
Bruce was still unwrapping Joanne when we arrived. I think I must have done a good job on the hogtie. I got Sadie to set up the drinks in readiness. For myself I ordered a double whisky on the rocks. I needed it. I knocked mine back and ordered a refill.
In the meantime two things happened. One; I phoned Anthea at the Elms Hotel and told her to get to the Club pretty smartish, and I asked her to bring Sandy along with her. I told her we were having a party and that I'd invited special guests. I didn't let on that it was Bruce and Jenny. And two; Hulk arrived. He was due on the door at seven o'clock. He arrived almost on time and possibly only a few minutes after Suzette and I had left the foyer and moved to the bar. I knew this to be the case because Sadie informed me. She'd witnessed the big man's arrival on the monitors.
I took advantage of the lull in the proceedings and moved back to the foyer. I needed to have a quiet word with Hulk. This meeting had been a long time in coming and there was really only one thing I wanted to know: How was that second phone call to Pierre made? Was it internally or to a mobile?
Hulk greeted me with a little courteous salute. "Good evening Mr. Woods," he said.
I moved to the small table in the foyer and called Hulk across to join me. I pointed to the phone resting on the surface. "Hulk, I want you to go over the things you told me about the night Fatima disappeared," I explained. "I want to know about those two phone calls you made."
Hulk furrowed his brow, as if to say there wasn't much to tell. I prompted him. "You made two phone calls that evening. The first to the bar, then the second to Pierre," I reminded him.
I think Hulk nodded his head. But with that thick neck of his it was very difficult to detect any discernible movement. "Mr. Renard?" he questioned, "Is that who you mean?"
I'd forgotten that Hulk always went by last name terms. Pierre would be Mr. Renard to him. "That's right, Mr. Renard. You made the second call to him," I confirmed.
Hulk's head moved a little. I took this for a nod. "I did," he replied simply, "I managed to find Mr. Renard with my second call."
I could see that I was in for a lot of prompting, so I got straight to the point. "Hulk, how did you contact Mr. Renard? What number did you dial?" I asked.
Hulk pointed to the phone. "When I was told that Mr. Renard was not at the bar I pressed the `Number Four' memory button and that found him. Number one is the Mr. Garcia's office, number two is Mr. Garcia himself, three is the bar, and four is Miss Villeneuve," he explained.
Suddenly I was dumbfounded. Mr. Garcia was Fernando, and Miss Villeneuve was Claudette. I'd already established this, but what I didn't expect to hear was that a memory button had been pre-programmed to ring Claudette direct. I lifted up the phone and pressed `Memory Button Four'. I listened to an unobtainable signal for a while and then a recorded message spoke to me: "We are unable to connect your call. Please try again later."
I put down the phone. "That's Claudette's mobile phone number," I said to Hulk.
This time I think I did see a nod to his head. "Yes, Mr. Renard was using Miss Villeneuve's mobile phone that night. Miss Villeneuve gave it to him to use," he explained.
I moved to the doors and looked out through the glass plate windows. I was deep in thought. "Thank you Hulk, that will be all," I told him.
From my position in the doorway I found myself looking down the drive to the road opposite. There wasn't a car parked over on the other side anymore. My Volvo was in the drive beneath me. But I got to thinking about something Hulk had said the first time we spoke. Something about the driver getting into the car parked across the road. He said that he saw the driver dump Fatima into the boot then go round the other side, get in the car and drive away. Well, if that had been a British car with right hand drive, then he would have got into the driver's seat from this side.
I turned to Hulk for confirmation. "Hulk," I asked, "That night, when you saw Fatima being taken away. Which way was the car pointing? Which way did it drive away?"
Hulk joined me and looked out through the doors. "The car went that way Mr. Woods," he said and pointing to the right.
I turned to Hulk. "And you saw the man get in from the other side?" I quizzed.
Hulk thought for a moment. "Yes he did Mr. Woods," he confirmed. "He got in from the pavement side."
Suddenly several pieces of my jigsaw fell into place. "Hulk, I think that's it! You've just solved a big part of my mystery," I told him.
I said nothing more. I simply set off down the corridor and leaving Hulk at the door scratching his head. As for myself I remained deep in thought. My jigsaw was almost complete, but there remained one piece that just didn't seem to fit no matter how hard I tried. I still couldn't see how the murder victim, Jimmy `The Fiddler' Lee, fitted into all this.
As I entered the bar I looked to my watch. Apart from finishing off my jigsaw puzzle, I also had Claudette on my mind. I decided to give Harry Bell one more hour before contacting him and finding out what action's been taking place in Dover. In the meantime I had guests awaiting me in the bar, and Anthea and Sandy were soon to join us.
Back at the bar things were starting to liven up. Which is something not surprising when Bruce is around. He had a captive audience from the likes of Joanne, Sadie, Suzette and a couple of club members along with their escorts.
Bruce was using Joanne to demonstrate something called Aboriginal Bondage Art, which to be quite honest was something I'd never heard of. When not sleeping and contemplating Dreamtime, I thought the indigenous population of Australia spent their time throwing boomerangs and eating grubs.
I propped myself up at the bar and observed from a safe distance. I'd been caught out twice before by Bruce. On one occasion he had me playing cowgirls and Indians, and on the other had me interrogating Jenny in the hope of extracting a cash box combination out of her. So I think you can appreciate my concern. And besides, at that precise point in time I had far too much on my mind.
Whilst in the foyer having a quiet word with Hulk, Sadie had poured me another double whisky and it was awaiting me on the bar. I therefore settled down to watch the latest Bruce spectacular.
I was perched on my high stool with whisky in hand and Bruce still going strong, when Anthea and Sandy arrived. They didn't come to me. In fact I don't think they even noticed me. They went straight to Bruce and it was hugs and kisses all round.
Eventually things began to settle down and Bruce returned to his lecture on Aboriginal Bondage Art. I pitied poor Joanne. I think for the third time that evening she'd been turned into a parcel, but this time using copious amounts of rope instead of rolls of packing tape.
However, I must admit I was taking very little notice of what was going on in the centre of the room. Instead I was contemplating the riddle of Jimmy `The Fiddler' Lee.
It was at this point Anthea sidled up to me. She wrapped her arms about me and nibbled at my ear. She spoke, her voice was low and purring, and as soon as I heard those dulcet tones I knew that I was in trouble; deep, deep, trouble. "You haven't forgotten your promise to me have you?" she whispered in one ear.
To be quite honest I had forgotten. I think I mouthed the words: "Oh shit!" But didn't let on. I pulled myself together. "Perhaps another night darling. I'm awaiting a phone call from Harry Bell," I told her.
Anthea snarled and stamped a foot. "I knew it!" she hissed. "Woody you're a stinking rat! I go out of my way to find things out for you, get my tits burnt, my pubes singed, and all I get from you is, perhaps another night darling! Well, after all that shock treatment and all that suffering I went through on your behalf, then that's definitely the last time I do anything for you!... you!... you!..."
A lot of swear words followed that I don't think worthy of printing here. Just take it for a fact that Anthea wasn't very pleased with me. However, being reminded of that Shock Treatment Room brought back something I'd been thinking about whilst sat alone at the bar. It had something to do with the fact that the Shock Treatment Room was right next to Hendry's old office. Anthea had said something about a connecting door between the two rooms. The point is, I'd been in that office on several occasions and never seen a connecting door. Suddenly I was curious and I had to find out.
I grabbed Anthea by the arm. "Ouch! You're hurting!" she squealed.
To be quite honest, I didn't care. "Come with me, we're going upstairs," I told her.
Suddenly all thoughts of pain vanished in an instance and beam spread across her face. "You're going to keep your promise then? You're going to tie me to a bed and fuck me until I shout stop?" she asked.
I started to walk away and pulled her along with me. "Something like that," I replied as I marched swiftly out of the room with Anthea in tow.
At the top of the stairs I stopped outside the door next to what was now Fernando's office. I then tested the handle. It turned and the door opened inwards. "It's unlocked!" I exclaimed and sounding a little surprised.
Anthea shrugged her shoulders. "I guess now that Hendry's not here there's no need for it to be locked," she suggested.
We entered. The room was how Anthea had described it. It was just like an operating theatre. The walls and floor glistened with white tiles; at the centre stood the table; alongside rested the shock machine; and above hung one of those great big operating theatre lights. "Get your clothes off and get up on the table," I ordered, "and jump to it!"
I was looking away at the time. My concentration focused on the adjoining wall between the operating theatre and the office next door. The wall was all tiles except for a row of six coat hooks. From one of those hooks near the centre hung a surgeon's gown. I assumed this to be the one Fernando had worn.
I turned to find Anthea doing as instructed. Which didn't surprise me. She was just slipping out of her dress at the time.
I pointed to the wall. "You told me there was a connecting door to the office," I said, "but I don't see anything."
Anthea stepped out of her dress before answering. "You push up the left hand coat hook," she said. "It was another one of Hendry's secret passages. Not many people knew about it."
Now I understood. This was typical Hendry. Let me remind you. I once paid a visit to Hendry's private mansion some miles away from the Club. (See Submissive Work). Here he had an ingenious way of getting into his own private dungeon. You placed a golden key in the lock of a filling cabinet and the whole thing moved aside to reveal a secret entrance to his private dungeon. I gave a little wry smile and moved to the hook on the wall. I then pushed it upwards like Anthea had said. As I did so I heard a metallic click and the wall moved outwards to meet me. I took one step back. I'd activated a secret door shaped around the square of the tiles. The moment the outline was revealed I could see the detail, but before, under the glare of the bright lights, it was not so obvious. The gaps between the tiles prior to the door opening were almost impossible to detect.
I pulled the door completely open and found oak panelling on the other side. This was how the inside of the office was decorated, and this too would be almost impossible to detect by the casual observer. I gave a little nod of approval. No wonder I'd never spotted this before.
I turned to Anthea who didn't seem particularly put out by the fact that I was toying with a secret door and not concentrating on her. "Does Fernando know about this door?" I asked. "You can get into his office from here, and I always thought he kept his door locked?"
Anthea was wriggling out of her panties as I spoke. She stepped out of them completely before bothering to answer me. She shrugged her shoulders and gave me a look that suggested; I couldn't care less. "I don't suppose he does," she said matter-of-factly.
I closed up the secret door. It shut with a solid click.
By the speed Anthea was undressing I knew that I hadn't much time to think, but already I had a germ of an idea. Jimmy `The Fiddler' Lee was a common thief and burglar. Gaining access to the office would be part of his trade, and the best time to do it would be when everyone's attention was being distracted by events up on stage. There was therefore a strong possibility that he gained access to the office via this door, and furthermore, he could have been disturbed in the process. Fernando did say he'd come to the office to make a phone call.
I nodded my head slowly and in deep thought. If I was right, then the last pieces of my jigsaw regarding Fatima's abduction would all fall into place. My only problem now was Dover. I still hadn't figured out why Dover? I remained convinced that Dunkirk to Dundee was the shipment route for the Submissive Trade. So why was Claudette being shipped to Dover?
At this point my thoughts were abruptly interrupted by Anthea. She called: "I'm ready now Woody."
I happened to be facing the wall and studying the gap around the tiles that formed the outline to the secret door when she spoke, and for a while I did not answer. This was not a good idea. "I said I'm ready now," she called a second time and sounding rather impatient on this occasion.
"Get up on the table," I told her whilst still facing the other way, "I'll be with you in a second." I pondered for a little while longer. When I did eventually turn round it was to see a naked Anthea climbing up on the table. Obviously she didn't need to be told twice. I smiled. Anthea was a lovely lass really and I did make a promise to her. So I guess pay back time had finally arrived. I put Dover and Jimmy `The Fiddler' Lee to the back of my mind and moved to concentrate on the job at hand. I had a promise to keep.
Let me tell you, it's hard just to switch on like that, but one look at a naked Anthea spreading herself out on the operating table helped greatly. I also took note of her previous suffering, and all on my behalf may I add. Her pubic hairs had been shaved and a nasty brown circular burn mark stood out from the stubble where an electrode had once been attached. Looking up the body I could see further evidence of that interrogation. Similar round burn marks appeared on her naval and on her tits.
I guess it was at this point I realised just how much I needed to thank her for finding out certain things out for me, and just how much I was indebted to her for doing so. This truly was pay back time and I think I owed it to her.
With something of a fresh motivation about me, I inspected a series of straps that hung down from the side of the operating table. They were wide straps similar to those of car seat belts and designed to pass right over the body. They were in matching pairs and buckled in the middle.
There was no need, but I explained to Anthea what I proposed to do anyway. "I'm only going to strap you down from the waist upwards," I informed her, "I'll leave your legs free to open out wide and thrash about in the air when you're ready to shout to stop."
Anthea giggled. "That'll be the day sunshine," she sniggered.
I smiled. "You'll see," I told her.
Anthea was already lying on her back with arms by her side when I took hold of the first strap. This was a strap close to the midpoint of the table and positioned in such a manner as to pass over the lower part of the stomach. A matching strap over on the other side of the table was positioned to meet in the middle and buckle the two straps together.
On closer inspection I found two smaller loops attached to the insides of these straps that were obviously intended to contain the wrists. So I threaded the wrists through the gaps then brought the two belts together at the centre of the stomach. I then threaded the buckle and pulled everything as tightly as I could. "Got you now!" I told her as I straightened out the loose end of the belt and patted the buckle.
Anthea raised up her head with the intention of inspecting my handiwork. She was obviously well aware of what I'd done, but she checked what I'd done anyway. If it had been wrong, or if criticism was needed, then she'd be first to let me know.
She looked down towards her feet. She was strapped to the operating table about the waist by one broad belt and with her hands pinned to her side by the same restraint. She tried to indicate a struggle to get free, but with Anthea it was only a token gesture and she quickly gave up and settled down. "I guess you have got me," she said with a sigh of deep satisfaction, "I guess you have."
"No complaints so far then?" I enquired.
Anthea shook her head. "Just get on with it," she snapped.
I could see that she was getting impatient so moved to buckle up more of the belts. The next belt crossed Anthea's body just below the tits and over the lower ribcage. I buckled this as tightly as I could then moved to the third. This one passed across the shoulders and above the breasts. This too I buckled tightly in place.
I considered three straps enough for my purposes, so I tweaked a nipple. "Are you ready then sweetheart?," I asked. "Can you remember what you've got to shout? It's the word `STOP' you've got to call! It's spelt... S... T... O... P... you got that?"
Anthea chuckled loudly despite her predicament and opened out her legs so that her feet and ankles were wide of the table. "You'd better test me out then big boy!" she giggled.
With legs open for inspection I ran a finger up her slit. The surface was wet and moist, and my finger glided along the crevice. She was ready and so was I.
I moved to unbuckle the belt about my own waist. "Are you ready for this then?" I teased. "It might be a bit too big for you!"
Anthea gave a raucous laugh. "The bigger the better...."
That was as far as we got when my mobile phone rang. One look at the number of the incoming call told me it was Harry Bell. I went out of the room before answering it. This was the call I'd been waiting for and I didn't want any unnecessary interruptions or snide remarks from Anthea.
* * *
End of Chapter Sixteen