Amanda dressed hurriedly in matching red shorts and tank top, pulled on a pair of white socks and swiftly laced up her red Keds sneakers, then brushed out her long, dark hair. She went from room to room gathering up all the things she would need. She couldn't get last weekend's game of "prisoner" out of her mind and had been thinking of it all week, now she was eager to play again, but Scott wasn't around. She stood outside the office doorway, hiding the bandannas and handkerchiefs and jump rope behind her back.
"Mommy, can you play with me?"
"Oh, I'm sorry honey, not right now. I have a big meeting to get ready for this week. Ask Scott or Daddy, I'm sure they'll be happy to."
"Okay." Amanda already knew Scott was gone, so she went looking for her Daddy. "Daddy, will you play with me?"
"Sure, sweetheart, I've got some time free before the game starts. What do you want to play? Checkers, or backgammon or what?"
"I want to play Prisoner!" and she pulled her hands from behind her back with a flourish to show all the bandannas and the rope she'd gathered for the game.
"Hmm. Well, okay. Who's the prisoner, me or you?"
"I am, silly!" she laughed, like it should be obvious.
"Okay. And whose prisoner are you?"
"Yours!" she giggled again, because she knew he knew the answer to that one.
"No, I mean, who am I playing? A terrorist, a bank robber, or am I just a Daddy who's had enough of his little girl's sassy mouth?" he smiled.
Amanda hadn't thought that far through. "Well, I don't know...who do you want to be?"
He snapped his fingers. "Oh, of course, I've got it! Wait right here," and he left the living room. While he was gone, Amanda carefully laid out all her tie-up gear, humming happily that she had someone to play with. Her Daddy was back shortly wearing an eyepatch, a gold plastic hoop clipped to one ear, and a stuffed green parrot velcroed to one shoulder. He held up a plastic cutlass in salute.
"Arrrr, shiver me timbers, of course I shoulda rememberrrrrred last Halloween, I shoulda. I be a pirate cap'n, on the lookout for sweet young maidens to shanghai back to me ship, I be." He plucked a red bandanna from the pile on the coffee table and tied it on top of his head, completing his ensemble.
"And here be a fine young lass, a sweet princess I can keep for my very own, or share with my men, or sell for a fat ransom indeed," he advanced menacingly on his daughter, who squealed and giggled in pure delight at her daddy's play acting.
In a sudden rush, he sprang over to Amanda and scooped her up in his arms, then deposited her on the couch, tickling her all over. Amanda laughed and shrieked with joy, and tried to scramble away from the tickle attack as her daddy's fingers danced all over her skin and found her most ticklish spots, digging into her ribs, her armpits, and more sensitive areas.
"Now to get ye safe & secure aboard me ship as me prizner, arrrrr!" and he plucked up the jump rope she had thoughtfully provided and wound it around and around Amanda's chest, catching her arms and pinning them tightly to her sides. Next, he took up one of the handkerchiefs by 2 corners and rolled it into a line, then neatly wrapping it around her small wrists, binding them behind her back, and knotting it.
He stood and admired his ropework for a minute, examining his trussed up daughter from head to toe. Her long dark hair, her normally serious eyes shining with childish delight. "There we go, finest treasure ever to grace the decks of me ship." He scooped his little girl in his arms, and hoisted her over his shoulder, while she giggled and gasped. He clamped one arm around her legs as the rest of her dangled upside-down over his back and marched her around the house, bouncing her on his shoulder all the while & waving his toy cutlass theatrically. Completing a tour of the house, he came back to the living room, and decided that was as good a spot as any for his 'ship'. He tossed her in the air, and she landed with a bounce on the soft couch cushions.
Amanda took a moment to catch her breath, then realized something was missing.
"Aren't you going to gag me, Daddy?"
"To keep me from shouting for help."
"If you start shouting for help, you'll disturb Mommy. She's working hard in the office and needs to concentrate. If you bother her, she'll be mad."
"I don't want to make her mad. You better gag me, then, so I can stay quiet better."
"Oh, this be a noisy lass fer certain, and she'll have the town guard down on me ship in no time, I'll have to find a way to keep her quiet for the long voyage." He picked out a pink bandanna and folded it down to a wide band, then tied it over Amanda's mouth, where it hid the lower half of her face. He gave her a kiss on the forehead and a hug, his arms pinning hers to her sides just as effectively, but more lovingly than the ropes did.
He was poised for another round of tickling attacks when there was a knock at the door. "Aha, there be First Mate Bill, come to help me watch the game. He'll be pleased that we have such a fine cargo to take with us. Be right back, me bonny priz'ner." He got up to answer the door. Amanda decided not to wait passively on the couch, but got to her feet and followed him to the door, since he hadn't tied her feet. She couldn't wait for Mr. Bill to see her!
It wasn't his friend Bill, but his babysitter, the neighbor's girl Jill. She was well into her teen growth spurt, tall and thin as a reed, all limbs. She wore a black tank top, jean shorts, and a pair of black Keds. Her long, blonde hair was tied back from her face in a ponytail with a black and white paisley bandanna. The look of surprise in her baby blue eyes at being greeted by a pirate was priceless. Stever chuckled as she stammered wide-eyed in shock.
"Ummm, err, hi Mr. Summers. Is, uhhh...is Scott home?"
"Nooo, he be off with his maiden fair today. Sorry lass." When Jill wasn't looking after Amanda, she was usually shooting hoops with Scott. Even though they were in the same grade, Jill was far more responsible than Scott, so she got the babysitting job. Besides having someone around to watch Amanda, it was also a good excuse to get Jill out of her own house, which was either empty or noisy with fighting. Jill liked it better at the Summers' house, and they liked having her here, too.
"Hey, Jill! Come play with us! We're playing Prisoner again!" sang a muffled greeting from behind Steve. Amanda giggled, delighted to see her babysitter at the door. Jill could tell Amanda's gag was just for show, since they could hear every word.
Stever turned to see Amanda had followed him. "Hmmm, TV shows and movies seem to be a liar here. Ye be as noisy as ever. I'll have to fix that." He turned back to Jill. "Do you want to come in? But if ye do, know that pirates, scourge of the seas, be on smuggling human cargo back to their ships! They could make a fortune in ransom on a girl as smart and pretty as ye."
Jill smiled at the compliment, but didn't always feel smart of pretty. She hesitated- She had come to play b-ball with Scott, who wasn't here, but she didn't really want to go home again.
Amanda called out to Jill again, "Come play with us, Jill! Pleasssssse??"
"Oh, okay, I guess." She cautiously stepped inside. Steve closed the door behind her. The trio went back into the living room, Amanda skipping along, happy to have Jill in the game.
Steve recovered from the interruption smoothly, he jabbed his plastic cutlass into Jill's ribs. "Hands in the air, wench, or ye be walkin' the plank."
Jill was in High School and a little old for pirate games, but she'd played with Amanda while babysitting and guessed that it wouldn't hurt to play along for an hour or so. She was usually a good sport about such things, and also a good referee in the sibling squabbles between Amanda & Scott. She raised her hands over her head. "No, don't hurt me, please sir, my father will pay a great ransom!" Jill only wished that were true. Her father would be happy to be rid of her. At least, that's the way he acted. Between her father & Amanda's, there was no contest who'd win Father of the Year awards.
"Ah, then that be a diff'rent story. Turn around and cross yer hands behind yer back." Jill did so, and Steve traded his toy sword for a black bandanna on the coffee table. He folded it down into a narrow band, and tied it around Jill's hands. Jill pulled at the tie a little- the soft bonds wouldn't leave any rope burn marks, but the knot held tight.
Satisfied with the knot, Steve placed his hands on Jill's shoulders from behind and walked her to the couch, spun her about, and gave her a little push backwards to sitting. Amanda sat down on the couch by her fellow captive.
"Now to fix ye so there be no runnin' off every time there's a knock on the door." And he grabbed 2 more bandannas- a red one for Amanda and another black one for Jill, and knotted them around their ankles.
"Now there be one last detail, seems ye're still a noisy one. I best remedy that." He folded down one of the handkerchiefs into as small a square as he could manage, and tugged Amanda's ineffective gag down off her chin. "Open up that pretty little mouth of yers, I got something for ye."
Amanda obediently opened her mouth wide, and he popped the hanky square right in, then tugged the pink bandanna back up into place. That made a much bigger difference. As Jill saw him preparing to gag her, too, she said, "Oh please, good Pirate Captain Summers, I promise not to scream."
"Heh, that's because you don't know what tortures await ye!" And rolled up another handkerchief into a ball and tucked it into her mouth, then used the last red bandanna to tie it in place, drawing the gag between her teeth and knotting it tight at the back of her head, briefly lifting her blonde ponytail out of his way.
"Now for...the Tor-charrrrr!" and Steve dove in with devilish fingers, tickling the two captive girls, his hands roaming up and down their vulnerable ribs, digging into their sides and armpits and tender necks. The girls laughed and screamed and squealed into their gags, making muffled little gasps of hysterical pleasure. Steve kept up until he had tears of laughter streaming down their cheeks.
During one of the rest breaks when he let them catch their breath, he took a long look at Jill. Her body was just starting to fill out, her breasts hadn't blossomed yet. Right now this long-limbed beanpole was still more girl than woman, but you could see puberty was working its magic. In a couple of years, she was going to be a heartbreaker.
And the more he thought about it, the sadder it made him. Because she was probably going to turn out like her mother- knocked up by the first guy who paid attention to her, selling her future for a few minutes of sticky, awkward pleasure some hot summer night. Then shackled to some drug-addict loser like her father for the rest of her life because you don't want to raise your kid alone. Her father was a lowlife, and her mother was no role-model.
Jill deserved better than to follow in those footsteps. This kid had looked after his daughter for the past 3 years or so. This kid was Scott's basketball partner, and had teamed up with him on dozens of class projects. This kid was at his dinner table 3 or 4 nights a week, slept at his house 2 or 3 nights a month, had tagged along on more than one family outing, his wife was always picking up "a little something" for her while clothes shopping for Amanda. He had shelled out a lot of money on this kid over the years, for someone who he couldn't even claim as a dependent on his income taxes. He just couldn't bear the thought of that kind of investment just going down the drain. Steve made a decision.
He punched the TV remote and cartoons danced on the screen. "Okay, Amanda, you've withstood the Tor-charrr! You get to watch cartoons while I have a word with Jill." Amanda looked puzzled, but couldn't ask what was going on.
Steve took hold of Jill's arms and pulled her to her feet. Jill wobbled a little as her ankles were still bound. Steve hoisted Jill up in the air and slung her over his shoulder as he had Amanda earlier. Amanda relaxed, figuring he was just taking her on the same over-the-shoulder tour that she had made earlier. She settled back to watch her cartoons.
Steve carried his captive neighbor back to his bedroom, where he could talk to her privately. Jill got a little worried- had Amanda or Scott or even Aunt Karen told Steve about what happened here last weekend? Jill had been ½ expecting that call all week, and when it never came she thought she was in the clear. But now she wasn't so sure.
Steve reached inside his dresser and grabbed a pair of plain white t-shirts, crossed to his wife's vanity mirror and slid Jill off his shoulder, making sure to keep a hand on her arm so she didn't stumble over her bound feet. He turned on the vanity lights and pulled out the chair, sat down and pulled Jill down on his lap. For this talk, he wanted Jill to see him, but he also wanted her to see herself.
"I want to talk to you for a minute, honey. But I'm going to leave your gag on, okay? Because you don't have to talk. I just want you to listen to me.
"Sandy and I have really come to appreciate your help with Amanda over the years. It helps us a lot to know that someone is with her if one of us has to work late or Scott is on a date or something. We put a lot of effort into our careers, but we also put a lot into our family. Sandy and I really believe 'it takes a village to raise a child' and you've been a big part of that. We consider you a part of this family.
"I know your parents aren't around a lot, and we've told you time and again that you're welcome here whenever you like, that there's no sense in staying in an empty house by yourself when you can stay with us.
"But there's more to being a good parent than just providing a safe haven. There's also arming your kids with the knowledge they need to keep them out of harm's way. That's also the opener for my 'Kids, don't do drugs!' speech, but we can save that for another time."
Steve took one of the folded white t-shirts and shook it out, then started to put it on Jill, pulling it down over her head. Jill's hands were still tied behind her, so she couldn't put her arms through the sleeves, so her arms were trapped inside, the t-shirt further pinning her arms to her sides. She gave a small muffled yelp as it caught on her ponytail, and Steve reached in and pulled it up through the neck-hole, then pulled the shirt down the rest of the way, snugly over her arms.
"You're in High School with hundreds of horny teenage boys. You're going to be dating soon. You're going to be wearing a lot of tight, revealing clothing, baring midriff, thinking about getting tattoos, maybe body-piercings. You're going to have a lot of opportunities to roam around late at night, and your parents aren't going to know where you are, and maybe they won't care.
"All of this sends a message to those horny teemage boys. Just like you were wearing a sign." Steve picked up one of his wife's lipsticks from the vanity, opened it, and began writing across Jill's chest, on the clean white t-shirt. Steve wrote across the terrain of her budding baby bosoms, slowly, clearly, deliberately. And he wrote it backwards, so she could read it in the mirror: Are Ayy Pee Ee Em Ee: RAPE ME.
"Those boys are going to know you don't have parents watching over you, and no one cares what time you come home. And they're going to see an easy mark. Because they may talk about loving you forever, but if you don't put out, you'll see how long that love really lasts. Because they'll say anything just to get in your pants. All they're thinking about is scoring. You're tied up, gagged, you have your 'Rape Me' sign on- all we have to do is leave you on the side of the curb to be picked up by whoever wants you, just like the trash. If you don't respect yourself, that's what they'll see.
"But you do have people watching over you. And someone does care what time you come home. Someone does want you to succeed in life, and to not sell yourself short. Sandy and I aren't your parents, but you are a part of this family, and I want you to know that. You can come talk to us any time, about anything. We're going to be here for you, even if your parents aren't. So, let's change this and send a different message:
Steve picked up the other t-shirt and pulled that one down over the first, being careful this time to pull Jill's ponytail thru the neck-hole at the same time. This was snug over the other t-shirt, and pulled even tighter, binding Jill's arms inside it. Across the taut front, Steve used the lipstick to write big bold letters, reversed so Jill could read them in the mirror: I AM LOVED.
Steve sat there for several long minutes, letting Jill digest everything he had said to her, looking over her shoulder in the mirror at the words on her chest. His masculine arms hugged her around her tummy, pulling her back onto his lap. When large tears rolled down Jill's cheeks and soaked into her gag, he knew his words had found their target.
He stood up, pulling her to her feet, and turned her to face him. He kissed her gently on the forehead, and then pulled her against him in a fatherly hug. She couldn't hug him back, with her arms trapped inside the t-shirts and tied behind her, she just pressed her face into his chest and cried softly. After a few minutes, he untied the bandanna from her ponytail and used it to wipe away her tears, then tied it back in her hair.
He swept her up in his arms and carried her in front of him back to the living room.
Meanwhile, Amanda had been watching cartoons, but during the commercials started wondering where the two of them were- it didn't take Daddy that long to carry her around the house earlier. Finally, bored of waiting, she decided to go find them. That plan ended a couple of seconds later as she giggled into her gag- oh, yeah, this time Daddy remembered to tie my feet together.
She then decided she could still do it- her ankles weren't crossed, so she could still stand up, she'd just bunny-hop instead of walking. She'd just have to go slow and careful. She pushed herself off the couch with her bound hands, and wobbled a minute until she got her balance. After a few experimental hops, she realized she didn't really know where they were, and it would take forever at this rate to try to find them. So she hit on an alternate plan- she'd go get Mommy. Maybe Mommy was done working on her meeting stuff and would want to play, too. At the very least, she could untie her feet.
She hop, hop, hopped towards the office, when Daddy came back in carrying Jill.
"Arrrr, shiver me timbers, looks like me wee prize be tryin' ta escape. I'll put a stop to this jailbreak!" And he dashed over to his daughter before she interrupted his wife. He couldn't carry both girls, so he slid Jill back to her feet, and with a guiding hand on each of their shoulders, forced them to bunny-hop back to the couch.
"Ah, that be good timing...we're back just in time for the game to start!" And he punched the remote as cartoons vanished and the ball game appeared on TV. He settled himself on the couch between the girls.
Only a minute later, Sandy walked out of the office. "Honey, Bill called to say he couldn't...what on earth are you rascals up to in here?" She stared open mouthed at the pirate and his captives.
"Arrr, Redbeard be the only scurvy dog who could keep these two young scallawags from crashing yer office and sending yer peace and quiet to Davy Jones' Locker. It took a mighty battle and they put up a hellacious fight, but now they be shanghaied aboard the Pirate Ship 'Pigskin'."
"Hmm, Mummff!" sang Amanda into her gag, and lifted her legs high into the air and wiggled her toes, making the laces on sneakers bounce, showing off her bound feet to her mom.
Jill shrugged and did the same, bending back and extending her long, coltish legs over her head and kicking the toes of her bound feet together.
Sandy laughed and shook her head as the girls lowered their feet back to the floor. "Bill called and said he couldn't come over. But I see you've already got plenty of company to watch the game. I'm done with work and I can see you've got things under control out here so I'm going to the grocery store to pick up something for dinner. Jill, I guess you're staying for dinner tonight? I mean, it doesn't look like you've got much choice," Sandy finished with a giggle.
Jill nodded, and as Mrs. Summers left, she settled back down for an afternoon of football. She squirmed about in her bonds, snuggled up against Mr. Summers as he put a paternal arm around both his girls and hugged them close to him, then remembered to take off his eyepatch for the game.
Jill may have been the captive of a bloodthirsty, unwashed, pirate, but she had never felt so safe and warm. She watched the game, but also kept looking down at the words written across her chest, and knew she was loved.
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