“COUSIN SARAAAAAAAA!” hollered the pair of nine year old boys as they flung their arms around my waist with such enthusiasm that I was almost knocked off my feet.
“Hey it’s Trouble and Terror! Oof you’re both getting strong, one of these days you might end up squeezing me to death!” I exclaimed through the pair of arms tightly clamped around my diaphragm. The boys relinquished their grip and smirked with grins of pure mischief. Trouble and Terror were my nicknames for the pair. Their actual names were Edward and Toby Goodhall, my twin cousins.
Yep, my grandparents definitely concocted a potent genetic mix designed for multiple births, because Chris and I are not the only twins in my family. My Aunt Evie, my mum’s younger sister, had also given birth to a fraternal pair, though she’d given birth to two boys who actually looked fairly alike. Both average height for their age with green eyes and round faces, the only way to really tell them apart was their brown hair. Edward’s was straight and similar to my brothers. Toby’s was curled and bushy, like his father.
Aunt Evie and Uncle Owen ushered them inside, dressed for a black tie event and looking unintentionally relieved to be free from the boisterous pair for a good few hours. “Thanks for agreeing to babysit the herberts,” said Uncle Owen. “It’s not often we get the chance to attend a shindig with your parents.”
“Yeah, the Police Charity Ball is the place to be,” I answered, hoping my sarcasm wasn’t too obvious.
Aunt Evie smiled; her brown hair cut short revealing long dangling earrings that were her trademark. She’d never really shared in my family’s enthusiasm for detective work, instead opting for a career as a hospital administrator. She handed me a suitcase and explained, “You’ve got their sleeping bags, washbags and a DVD for them to watch. Any trouble, just give me a call. Though I’m sure you and Chris will be able to handle them.”
“Actually it’s just me in tonight!”
“Oho, another wild party I presume?” Uncle Owen grinned at me.
“Not as such,” was all I answered with, not really wanting to picture whatever Chris was doing in the company of my best friend Rachel.
“You’ll watch the film with us won’t you Sara?” Edward asked.
“It’s so cool. It’s got Spiderman in it!” seconded Toby.
“Well I am sucker for a superhero action film!” I said, “Though I do have some coursework to do!”
“We’ll leave you in peace as soon as my BIG SISTER GET’S HER BACKSIDE INTO GEAR!” Aunt Evie yelled into the house.
“I’m coming, I’m coming,” my mum announced from upstairs. We heard the sound of clattering high heels bounding downstairs until she appeared, resplendent in a bright red party frock.
My dad wasn’t far behind, smartly dressed in his police uniform with incredibly shiny shoes. As he ran a comb through his hair he said, “Have a productive evening Sara, and don’t go getting into trouble!”
“Don’t worry, these two will give me more than enough trouble,” I laughed. But as I shut my front door, I had no idea what kind of trouble they would actually cause me.
“Come on Sara, let’s put the film on!” Edward cried as he and Toby grabbed my hands.
“Whoah, steady there guys,” I exclaimed as I was dragged through my hallway, my nylon clad feet sliding on the polished wood. It was definitely the weather for my favourite red hoodie, which I wore with denim hotpants and dark tights. I was pretty bushwhacked following a hectic day at Felicity’s office, but Toby and Edward were as hyper as ever, thrilled by the prospect of spending Saturday night with big cousin Sara.
“You will tell us one of your detective stories later, won’t you?” Toby asked me with great eagerness.
“Maybe after the film!” I said, loading the disc into our DVD player.
“Aaaaawwwwww!” Toby and Edward chorused in disappointment, but their mood lightened when I assured them I’d tell one story afterwards.
So we settled down for the evening. Toby and Edward spent most of the time kneeling on the floor, taking it in turns to exclaim how this bit was their favourite bit, bouncing on cushions excitedly during every fight scene. I nestled into the corner of my sofa, tucked my nylon coated legs into my body and rested my Psychology coursework on my knees. I spent the next two hours wrestling with a particularly hard set of paragraphs, though I took a few moments to exchange cheeky texts with my boyfriend Matthew. And no, what we discussed is none of your business. All you need to know is he agreed to come over once the boys were asleep.
Before I knew it the film had ended, and both boys were on their feet. “That film gets better every time I see it!” Toby announced as the credits rolled.
I’d barely had time to put my coursework on the floor before the boys leapt onto the sofa. “So go on Sara, tell us a story,” requested Toby.
“Have you and the girls ever arrested any super villains?” asked Edward.
“Hang on, we aren’t part of the Avengers you know,” I laughed. “But as a matter of fact, yeah, we did help in the arrest of some criminals recently.” Both boys scooted closer as I began my tale.
“Felicity told Rachel and me that she was investigating an antiques dealership in Herringford. She suspected that they were smuggling illegal goods into the country.”
“Like a serum that turns everyone into lizards!” Toby interrupted.
“More like priceless artefacts from ancient China and Japan!” I corrected. “One of the Ming vases we saw was on sale for £300,000.”
“Whooooaaaah!” the twins chorused at this revelation.
“So anyway Rachel and I went there during a late night auction, and took the opportunity to snoop around the back rooms for evidence. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the auctioneer and his cronies to find us sneaking about.”
“So did they tie you and Rachel up?” asked Edward, fully aware of where this story was going.
“I’m afraid they did. Our hands were tied behind our backs and fixed to more ropes around our waists. Then they bound our ankles and our knees together, before gagging us with rags stuffed in our moths and white cloths pulled over our lips. They found a dusty old cupboard under the stairs, threw us inside and locked us in.”
“Was it dark in there?” Toby queried.
“Very. The only light came through the gaps in the door, so I could only just see Rachel as she struggled with me. It was really cramped and we didn’t have much room to wriggle about. It was also incredibly dirty and made a real mess of my clothes. It was filled with massive spiders, one of which decided to take a quick expedition over my skirt. And I swear I heard a rat squeaking from the shelves above my head. He seemed pretty interested in us to be honest.”
“Awesome,” Toby and Edward breathed in unison.
“Well anyway Rachel and I are used to being tied up now, and we had to get out before the auction finished and our captors returned. We wriggled about in the dark until we were back to back. The pocket knife Rachel keeps in a hidden pocket of her skirt came in really handy, and I used it to saw through the ropes binding her wrists. I soon cut her hands loose, and from there it didn’t take us long to free ourselves. And Grandma Marie’s been giving me some lock picking tips, so I used special pick that I kept hidden in my belt to turn the lock. We escaped to tell Felicity what had happened, she told the police, and the men were arrested!”
“Wow, amazing Sara!” Edward exclaimed. “You’re like, the best detective ever!”
“Thank you,” I smiled, “But I don’t think best detectives ever always end up getting kidnapped.”
“Are you kidding, detectives are always getting kidnapped,” Toby corrected. “It’s happens all the time in the comics mum gets us, and in those Famous Five books you gave us for Christmas.”
“Aw you read them!” I smiled.
“Course we did, and we’ll tell you all about them once I’ve gone to the loo,” Edward exclaimed like it was critically important I knew that. He scampered out the room, leaving me in the company of Toby.
“Why do you think the bad guys are always tying you up?” he then asked me bluntly.
I responded with a shrug. “I only wish I knew. I guess it’s almost like an instinctive thing for crooks. You’ve caught them off guard and altered their plans, so they just want you out the way until they figure out what to do next.”
“Ooh Sara, it’s like, maybe there’s someone writing the story of your life, and they and their readers really like it when you get captured!”
Aww bless him. The things kids say.
“But I bet you’re really good at freeing yourself now!” Toby suggested, eyes shining with intent.
“Why are you suddenly so interested in all this?” I asked him, my suspicions rising.
“FOUND SOME!” Edward announced as he bolted back into the room. I then realised my suspicions had been well founded. My younger cousin hadn’t been to the toilet at all. Instead he’d been rummaging around my dad’s storage cupboard until he’d found what he was looking for; Two lengths of white clothesline.
“Ok, what are you two up to?” I asked, standing up and putting my hands on my hips.
The grins on the faces of my twin cousins didn’t fade as Edward asked, “Well we’ve always wanted to join in one of your adventures. But because we can’t do that until we’re older, can we pretend that you’re on one of your cases?”
“We’ll be the bad guys!” Toby announced, unravelling the rope until it hit the floor. “We’re evil smugglers who are using an old cottage to hide their treasure. You’ve found our hideout and we’ve tied you up to stop you escaping. You’ve then got to escape!”
“Er, I never agreed to any of this,” I replied, hoping they got my strong hint. I get tied up enough as it is, so I wasn’t overtly fond of the prospect of it happening in my own living room at the hands of my extended family.
But both boys had obviously got their hopes up, and they looked disappointed when they saw my reluctance. “We won’t ask you for anything else tonight!” Toby said.
“Yeah, if you let us then when you get free you can send us to bed!” Edward bargained.
That offer was tempting. I had Matthew coming around later, with no parents or brother present, and sooner these two were tucked up asleep then the more time we would have for some, *ahem,* canoodling. Looking at how hyper they were, it was either I went along with their scheme or face a long hour calming them down. And besides, they were nine years old, not grizzled criminals. I thought there was nothing they could do which I couldn’t handle. And hell, wasn’t like I hadn’t played the odd tie up game with my brother and Rachel when I was their age.
So I gave a resigned sigh and told them, “OK, we’ll play this game for half an hour, but no longer, alright?”
“Yay!” Toby and Edward chorused, giving a little jig in celebration.
I was instructed to wait outside until they were ready, so I leant against the door with my arms folded asking myself why I was going through with this. Then I heard Edward calling and in I went, pretending to be snooping around a dingy warehouse looking for clues. It didn’t take long for me to be grabbed from behind, though instead of my body being ensnared by a hulking goon, it was by a boy half my height wrapping his arms around my waist.
“Gotcha you intruding snoop!” Edward growled in a put on, deep voice.
“Oh no, let go of me you creep!” I cried, trying to play along without sounding too much like a 1930’s comic book damsel.
“Not a chance, we’re gonna make sure you can’t get away!” Toby informed me, grabbing my hands and tugging me over to a conveniently placed dining chair while Edward pushed me. They forcibly (well, I didn’t exactly resist) pushed me down on the seat, upon which Toby pulled my hands over the chair back and pinned them together. Edward grabbed my ankles and started to wrap rope around them at the same time his brother proceeded to bind my wrists. Both boys made about four circuits with the cord before securing them with the best knots they knew.
“Try getting out of that you nosy snoop!” Edward chortled as he and his brother skipped away, to see whether I actually could.
I gave a few experimental twists and smiled. This would be easier than I’d anticipated. They hadn’t tied me particularly tight and I had plenty of slack to work with. I jiggled my hands and twisted my feet, increasing the amount of space between the ropes and me. It took me roughly four minutes to liberate my ankles. My hands were loose roughly 47 seconds later. “There, got out of it!” I crowed, throwing the rope to the feet of my cousins.
Edward and Toby looked flabbergasted. “How did you get loose so fast?” Edward gasped.
“Easy really,” I informed them. “You didn’t cinch the ropes between my limbs, which gave me plenty of space to wriggle about with. You goons have got a lot to learn.”
“We’ve got to have another go then!” Toby announced.
“Er, hang on, you said if you tied me up once then afterwards you’d go to bed,” I pointed out.
“No no no, you said we’d play snoops and robbers for thirty minutes,” Edward retorted. “And we’ve only been playing for ten!”
I gave an exasperated sigh, but they had a point. If anything it was more my fault for not setting the terms of our game in my favour. Seeing the eager look on their faces I knew I had no choice but to continue. I stood up and announced, “Well I’ve escaped now. So now I can go and tell Uncle Harry all about your nefarious scheme!”
“Not so fast!” Toby exclaimed, grabbing me by the wrist and pulling me back into the seat. “This time we’ll make sure you can’t wriggle loose!”
“Do your worst!” I said, playing along as Edward walked behind me again and pinned my hands palm to palm, convinced that I’d be able to escape again.
I soon regretted my bravado, as material began to surround my wrists. I was slow to recognise the unmistakeable ripping sound, or realise that the sleeves of my red hoodie were not being encased with clothesline. “Er, where did you get duct tape from?” I asked as Edward made a fifth circuit with the material.
“I found two rolls with the rope!” Edward explained as he continued to add to the layers already encircling my wrists. “Toby’s got the other one!”
“Toby’s got what?” I exclaimed, leaning forward to stare at where he was knelt on the floor, pinning my feet together. Again I was too late to react, and watched dimly as Toby stuck the tape to my nylons and circle my feet. “Hey, hey no tape guys. You’ll ruin my tights!” I reasoned as my ankles disappeared underneath a layer of silver.
“But cousin Sara, you said do your worst!” Toby pointed out, as using a pair of scissors he’d found among my dad’s stuff he cut through the tape and fixed the loose strand in place.
“I meant with the rope! You said nothing abo…Edward what are you doing?”
Edward had finished encasing my wrists with more tape than would ever have been necessary, and now appeared at my side with a really long length of tape which he affixed to my waist. Then reaching over he coated my body and the chair back, welding me against the furniture. “We can’t have you wriggling off the chair can we, you little snoop?” he informed me, still talking in girl detective speak.
“I’ll get her knees!” Toby announced, noticing them jiggling as I tried to break my ankles free. I tried keeping them apart, but my words about how strong the boys were getting came back to haunt me, as Toby pinned my upper legs together and encased them with a surprising amount of swiftness for one so young.
Now beginning to realise my mistake I said, “Ok guys, that’s enough. This’ll probably be enough for Edward watch out for my hair!”
“Sorry,” Edward apologised, momentarily breaking character as he even wound a length of tape around my left shoulder, trapping some loose strands of my brown hair between it and my hoodie. “We just really want to test you,” he explained as he pulled the same length around the chair back, over my right shoulder and fixing it off against the backrest.
Too right they wanted to test me. Toby applied the finishing touch by winding one last strand over my thighs and underneath the seat. And I’d just sat down and let it happen. God I can be such an idiot sometimes.
Toby and Edward examined their victim in triumph, even as I began to struggle against their handiwork in earnest. “Aha she isn’t going anywhere, right minion?” Edward guffawed.
“Hang on, you’re my minion!” Toby protested.
“No way, you’ve always been my minion!”
“Does it really matter who’s the minion?” I snapped, my temper beginning to fray as I realised that I was going to be taped up for a good long while.
The twins exchanged glances and grinned at each other. “I think our little snoop is getting too mouthy!” Toby smirked while Edward cut another strip of tape.
As they approached with strip in hand I felt my stomach plummet, wondering which of my adventures they’d got this idea from. “Ok, very funny guys, seriously you really don’t need to ggggg mmmmgggg!!!!”
“Pah, that’ll keep you quiet,” Edward announced as he slapped this strip over my lips.
“Lllllrrrrttt gggyyysss ppplllltttmmmsss is over. Time to let me go!” My speech became audible as, unlike every daytime soap opera, one strip of tape is not nearly enough to serve as an effective gag. I easily managed to unstick the tape by merely jiggling my lips and jaw.
Edward and Toby had been unaware of this, so with panicked looks in their faces Toby reapplied this single strip over my mouth while Edward cut more strips loose. Then one after another they slapped these strips over my lips, first creating an X shape, ultimately forming a veil which reached from my nose to my chin. I snorted and grunted at my cousins smoothed the material over.
“Ok Sara, you have ten minutes to get loose until bedtime!” Toby announced as I fumed. “Time to start struggling…now!”
I didn’t need an invitation. I bounced and bucked and writhed, the chair bouncing with me as I failed to break away. My fingers tried picking at the material enveloping my hoodie sleeves, but I failed to find a stray end. I pushed against the duct tape covering my body, yet I could not break it through sheer force alone. I bounced my feet and wriggled my toes into the carpet, yet as I jiggled my knees all I achieved was a snapping sound right up my left calf as my tights laddered. I cast my eyes to the ceiling with a resigned huff. Nothing ruins a pair of tights quite like duct tape.
With my shoulders alternating up and down fruitlessly I glared at the two grinning nine year olds. Who would have thought they’d be capable of tying me up as effectively as any criminal? As I stamped my feet in frustration I wondered if my adventures had given them too many ideas.
“Ooh, only five minutes left!” Edward snickered. “You reckon she’s going to escape?”
“I dunno, she’s got a lot of tape to break free from,” Toby remarked.
“Yyyyhh tthhnnnkkks fffrrr tthhtt,” I grunted at them, tilting my chair to the left. I was running out of ideas. The tape encasing my wrists was secure, my body rooted in a seated position and my legs immobile. I caught sight of my reflection in my front window, created by the low light. I never got much opportunity to admire myself when bound and gagged. But seeing myself encased by bands of silver, the ends of my brown hair just reaching the tape wound over my shoulders, I reflected on how fortunate it was that I had plenty of time to break out of this mess.
Or so I thought. Only minutes later my heart froze as I heard the key turning in our front door.
“…just say it’s great you two are going out now.”
“Thanks Matthew. Sara isn’t finding it too weird right?”
“She doesn’t mention it that much. I think more than anything she’s pleased you’re both happy.”
“Where is my sister anyway? Wonder if she’s put the herberts to bed yet?”
Raw, horrible dread filled my body. No, it couldn’t be them. Surely not!
Toby and Edward however looked thrilled, and darted out to the hallway with a loud cry of, “COUSIN CCHHHRRRIIISSS!”
“Hey there you two. Still up?”
“We’ve been playing snoops and robbers. We’ve just captured Sara. Come and see!”
‘No, stay out in the hallway!’ I thought in horror.
My silent pleas went unheeded, and in walked my twin brother Chris, my boyfriend Matthew and my best friend (and now girlfriend to Chris) Rachel. I could feel my face flushing red from embarrassment as they gazed at me with astonished looks on their face. I caught Rachel’s eye first, the raven haired girl dressed in a red hoodie with the words ‘OXFORD’ emblazoned on the front, with dark jeans tucked into black leather boots with a stiletto heel. A smirk broke across her face as she examined my plight. I then looked at the two teen boys whose mouths were agape in amazement.
“Now what is going on here?” Matthew breathed.
“We caught her snooping around our hideout!” Toby explained to them stunned newcomers. “So we taped her to the chair to stop her escaping!”
“You managed to get all that tape on her?” Chris asked them with a blank expression of surprise.
“Yeah, she has to get free before we get ready for bed. That was the deal,” Edward told him.
Rachel gave snort of laughter, before saying, “Really Sara? I mean, really?” I raised my eyebrow at her in a sort of, ‘yeah, yeah alright,’ sort of way.
Ok this was officially mortifying. But I assumed the silver lining would come with my release. But what I didn’t count on was my bloody brother and, just as annoyingly, my boyfriend muttering to each other, looking at Rachel and the two youngsters, and then sniggering. I watched as Chris picked up the discarded roll of duct tape off the floor, while Matthew told my cousins, “Hang on lads you’ve forgotten something really important. Or, should I say, someone.”
“We have?” asked Edward, noticeably confused.
“Well aren’t you forgetting who’s always helping Sara with her cases? Who’s always getting herself caught alongside her?” Chris asked with a wry grin.
“Yeah, what kind of a case would it be if this particular lady didn’t get captured as well?” Matthew asked the boys.
Slowly but surely Toby and Edward began to understand what they were referring to, and turned their intent-filled gaze to Rachel. In an instant she too realised what they were implying, and pointing at them as a warning she said, “No! No, don’t you dare! Don’t even think about it Christopher Philips!”
“GET HER LADS!” Chris yelled, and at his cry both he and Matthew ran over and grabbed an arm each, while Toby and Edward dragged another dining chair next to mine.
“Let me go!” Rachel squawked as our boyfriends forced her down into the seat. “Let me go now or I swear I’ll hang you upside down by your toenails!”
“Oho this snoop’s a feisty one!” Chris laughed, smiling her outburst aside as he pinned her hands behind her back. “Secure her Toby!”
“Yes Sir!” Toby confirmed with great enthusiasm, nipping behind the chair and peeling off more tape to wrap around Rachel’s wrists while Chris held them in place. Meanwhile Matthew grabbed hold of her booted ankles, as Edward enveloped the leather with his own roll of tape. With the four hard at work Rachel stood no chance, and soon her jean clad knees were being welded together as her torso was fixed against the chair.
Rachel, naturally, was not best pleased with this turn of events. “This is insane. I do not get caught every time I go snooping and what are you smirking at Philips?”
I was indeed struggling to contain my smile behind my gagged mouth. Rachel was normally a force to be reckoned with when she lost her temper, but seeing her bluster and fume unable to do anything about it tickled me. I shared this thought by mumbling, “Tttsss nnncccc yyyyyy cccclllldd jjjnnn mmmmggg.”
“Yeah laugh it up Philips, because when I get out of this I’ll have your guts for gggrrrrrrttttssss!” Her outburst was curtailed with a quick slap of tape over her lips. Chris was the one responsible, and he winked cheekily at her as he applied yet more strips, while her blue eyes stared daggers at him over his handiwork.
Soon Rachel, like me, was welded against the dining chair, strands of tape coating her red hoodie and enveloping her jeans and boots. Her long raven hair swished as she bucked about for freedom, once the boys had moved away. She grunted and snorted through her gag, angrily planting her stiletto heels into my carpet. I knew she, like me, wouldn’t be getting out of all that in a hurry.
“Wow, excellent wok gang!” Edward cackled.
“We really showed those snoop’s who’s boss,” Toby seconded.
“You’ve certainly done a good job!” Chris remarked. “I’ll bet that you two could even go away, put your pyjama’s on, brush your teeth, and then come back to find them still taped up!” The two young twins saw his statement as some sort of challenge, and scarpered in the direction of the door, barging and jostling against each other for position. Chris and Matthew waited until the sound of their heavy footsteps running to our bathroom ceased, then they looked at us and burst into laughter.
“Wwwwhhhtttss sssss ffffnnnnn?” I growled at them.
“You two!” Matthew snorted, pointing at us as we jiggled around in response. “Only you could turn an evening at home into a ‘who can get the most tied up,’ competition.”
“Nnnnnn dddnnnnttt nnnggggrrrr ttttt ttthhhttt!” Rachel snarled.
Our boyfriends swaggered over to us in an irritatingly triumphant manner. “You know, I think I’ve forgotten what our girlfriends actually look like when they don’t have a gag over their mouths,” Chris remarked.
“I think I prefer them like this,” joked Matthew as he knelt down in front of me.
“Hhhhmmm hhhhmmm, vvvrrrrnnn fffnnnnyyy,” I mumbled sarcastically.
Matthew picked up on my sarcasm, and gave a jovial tut. “No need for that sort of smart mouth Sara. Perhaps this will teach you some manners!” He then picked up my conjoined feet, and gently began to tickle my soles through my tights.
I held out as long as I could, but unfortunately Matthew was all too aware of my tickling weakspot. “NNNNNMMM MMTTHHHHWWW NNNNNMMMM!” I shrieked through the tape as his nimble fingers did their work. I tried kicking him away but he’d got a firm grip on my feet and wouldn’t let go. I was limited to bouncing in my seat, jiggling my arms and shoulders while chuckling madly behind my tapegag.
“Found my sisters weakspot eh?” Chris asked as he walked behind Rachel. “Well, for the record, Rachel’s can be found right here!”
“Ddddnnnntt yyynnn DDDDDRRRRR HMMM HHMM HHHMM!” Rachel cried before her warning transformed into laughter. Chris had placed both his hands on the back of my best friend’s neck. This was her sensitive area, and she scrunched her head against his hands in reaction to his intruding fingers. Chris merely needed to wriggle his fingers to give Rachel a good tickling, and she moved her head energetically from side to side trying to shake him off. Meanwhile Matthew’s assault on my feet continued, and our muffled screams of laughter filled the living room, with me shaking my head and hair from side to side pleading for mercy.
After a few minutes they gave up, leaving Rachel and I inhaling deeply as we caught our breath. Matthew rose up and smiled at me, before leaning over my bound body and hugging me. “Sorry Sara, couldn’t resist. Often when we find you like this the situation doesn’t allow us to have some fun.”
“Yyyynnn nnnjjjyyy tttt?” I queried, raising my eyebrow.
“I did, and here’s your reward.” Matthew actually gave me two. A kiss on the cheek and a sly passing of scissors from his hand into mine. I grasped his gift gratefully, manoeuvring the blade so it was resting against my tape bonds. Matthew shot me a knowing wink just before Toby and Edward burst back into the room, now wearing their pyjamas.
“Wow, they haven’t escaped yet?” Toby said, looking surprised at the sight of Rachel and I still locked in position.
Picking up the DVD case from earlier Chris said, “How about we watch a film while we wait? Fancy watching this one?”
“YEAH!” Toby and Edward exclaimed enthusiastically, hardly dis-interested at the prospect of re-watching their superhero flick.
As they, Matthew and Chris gathered on the sofa while the opening credits began to roll I caught Rachel’s eye. Twisting my hands I revealed the scissors in my grasp, at which she nodded. Then with the boys pre-occupied I set to work, sawing at the tape with the blade trying to slice my way to freedom.
It was twenty past one in the morning when my parents returned home with my aunt and uncle accompanying them. Mum was in good spirits following a generous number of wine spritzers, as was my aunt, and together they were engaged in a rumbustious rendition of ‘Come on Eileen,’ while my dad and uncle stifled their laughs. They were put in their place by a chorus of shushes from within the living room.
The adults walked in to see us watching late night TV. Toby and Edward were fast asleep, tucked up on the sofa with their mouths wide open. Toby’s head was using my feet as a pillow, from where I was sitting on Matthew’s lap with his hands wrapped around my waist. Edward was slumped against Chris’s shoulder, with his free arm around Rachel, who was nestled between his body and the armrest.
“Aww don’t you all look adorable!” mum giggled in a loud voice that made us shush her again.
“Have a good night gang?” dad asked us.
I exchanged knowing glances with Matthew, Chris and Rachel before replying, “It was certainly interesting.”
Aunt Evie gave an overtly dramatic gasp and pointed to the state of my tights. “I hope those two weren’t responsible for that.”
“Or for the mess,” Uncle Owen seconded, noticing the out of position dining chairs and the cushions spread across the room.
“We were just playing some games with them,” Chris answered.
“How nice! What sort of games?” enquired Aunt Evie.
“Oh nothing special really,” I replied, shifting on the duct tape roll I was sat on so they couldn’t see it.