One for the Money
Jamie dashed over to the sofa and looked around frantically. "Where IS it?" she wailed.
"Where's what?" her roommate Liz replied, still cleaning up after dinner.
"The remote! I have to see what the winning numbers are!" Jamie cried.
Liz rolled her eyes, shaking her head in disbelief. "You don't really think you'll win that fifty million, do you?"
"I've got just as good a chance as anybody...here it is!" she yelled in triumph, immediately aiming it at the TV in the corner. The TV blared into life, an announcer touting the benefits of four-wheel drive and anti-lock brakes loudly enough to shake the walls. As usual, Jamie had cranked the volume up to an eardrum-piercing level when she had last watched it, and had forgotten to turn it back down before shutting it off.
"JAMIE! TURN THAT DOWN!" Liz hollered from the kitchen.
"Sorry! I forgot again," she offered meekly. Plopping down on the sofa, she switched over to one of the local stations and waited for the drawing of the numbers. As she fidgeted, drawing her knees up to her chin in nervous anticipation, Liz came over and sat down next to her.
Over the past few weeks, Liz had gotten more and more fed up with the behavior of her younger roommate; the days seemed to grow longer and longer as she assembled a mental list of Jamie's outrageous antics, and first and foremost on that list was her compulsion to throw money away on the lottery.
Actually, it wasn't the fact that she played the lottery, but the way she played it. Twice each week, Jamie would tear through the apartment at warp speed just to watch the numbered Ping-Pong balls pop up on TV, and the intensity of her obsession multiplied as the jackpot continued to increase. Each time the numbers were drawn, Jamie sat there clutching a handful of paper slips, each one holding a string of numbers, and Liz seethed. With the value of tonight's drawing a staggering fifty million dollars and no apparent end in sight, she had made up her mind that as soon as the winning sequence was announced and Jamie had once again arrived at the inevitable conclusion that she hadn't won, Liz was going to let her have it with both barrels.
She had been composing a blistering indictment of Jamie for three days, going over it in her head at various times throughout the day, and it never failed to bring a smile to her face. Liz leaned back and stretched her legs, putting them up on the coffee table ankles crossed, and smiled at the irony; for once, she was actually looking forward to a lottery drawing herself.
And then it was time. "Welcome to tonight's Lucky Seven Lotto Drawing!" the announcer barked. The image on the screen showed a young man in suit and tie standing next to a box full of flying Ping-Pong balls, a sheepish grin on his face. The camera zoomed in to a tight shot on top of the box, where the numbered balls would appear with gravity-defying regularity thanks to the miracle of compressed air. The first ball was pulled out and placed on a rack shaped like an egg carton, except it had room for only seven eggs. The number seemed to leap out at the camera thanks to the brightness of the red paint against the dull white surface of the ball.
"Tonight's first number: SEVENTEEN!" screamed the announcer, as though the crimson image on the Ping-Pong ball filling the screen wasn't obvious enough. Jamie shuffled the slips in her hand, scanning each of them, discarding some with a flip of her wrist and crumpling the rest as she waited for the next number.
"Tonight's second number: THIRTY-EIGHT!"
Again, she flipped through the slips and tossed aside those that disappointed her. Of the countless several she had started with, three remained.
"Tonight's third number: TWENTY-ONE!"
Two of the three slips fluttered to the floor, and Jamie clutched the remaining slip with white-knuckled fingers. Without taking her eyes off the screen, she muttered, "Three matches. You know what that means, Liz?"
Liz couldn't keep her eyes from searching the ceiling. "Yeah. It means you won three bucks."
"I matched the first three numbers. I've got a chance to win big tonight." Jamie's voice was hushed, barely audible, which was rather remarkable for the young lady. Liz smiled. The litany rolled through her head as the moment of its speaking drew ever closer.
"Tonight's fourth number: FORTY-SEVEN!"
Jamie gasped. Liz's smile wavered momentarily, then returned. So she matched four numbers; that's only five bucks. She spent at least fifty dollars on tickets. Her smile broadened at that: another line for the litany.
"Tonight's fifth number: THIRTY-THREE!"
Jamie gasped again. To herself she whispered, "Six or twenty-nine. Six or twenty-nine. Six or twenty-nine..." Liz wasn't smiling anymore; Jamie had matched enough numbers that, depending on how many other people had matches, could indeed yield a sizable amount of money. The litany began to falter.
"Tonight's sixth number: TWENTY-NINE!"
Jamie didn't gasp this time; her jaw appeared to have come unhinged. Liz couldn't remember how the litany started.
"And the Lucky Seventh number is...SIX!"
As soon as the announcer uttered the magic syllable, Jamie turned to Liz (who looked whiter than a sheet) and screamed, "I JUST WON THE LOTTERY!"
As the litany evaporated once and for all, never to be spoken aloud, Liz muttered something that sounded vaguely like 'congratulations.' Jamie leaped from the sofa and grabbed the telephone.
"Hello, Sarah? You are not going to believe this," she whispered dramatically, hitting every consonant like a Method actress on amphetamines. "I - JUST - WON - THELOTTERY!" she cried, blending the last two words into one in her exuberance. "Can you believe it? AAAAAHHHHHHH! I DID IT! I DID IT!"
As Jamie grew less and less coherent, Liz's thoughts turned from utter defeat and smoldering anger to bloody murder and shallow graves. She could feel the blood pressure rising in her veins and she was certain her head was about to burst. She was looking around for something with which to bludgeon Jamie before her heart exploded, when a light suddenly came on inside her head. And a plan began to form...
"I really appreciate your making this special effort, Mr. Stanley. It isn't every accountant that would make an appointment on a Saturday," said Jamie.
The man behind the mahogany desk smiled warmly as he appraised the lovely young blonde: nice boobs, not too small. Good figure. But those legs... there's nothing like a girl in a skirt and knee socks. "Two things, Miss Daniels: First, my name is Terry. Mr. Stanley is my father. Second, I prefer the term 'money manager.'" They shared a laugh. "But seriously, who in his right mind would turn down the chance to handle a fifty-million-dollar account? I think, under the circumstances, you'd have your choice of representation, and that's why I'm grateful you came to me."
"Well, my roommate Liz heard that you were very reliable and very knowledgeable, so it seemed like an easy choice to make. What I'm not so sure of is how best to invest this money."
Terence Stanley, who up until yesterday had been a confidence man prone in lean times to seek venture capital from the sale of attractive American women overseas, leaned forward in his chair, folded his hands together on the desktop and oozed sincerity. "I understand how you feel. This is a substantial amount of money, and there are any number of options from which to choose. I'm here to make this a painless process for you. Believe me, there are a lot of things to be done with fifty million dollars, and whatever you ultimately decide, I can promise you this: I have something here that's sure to knock you out."
Jamie took the pen he offered and studied the papers before her. "Where do I sign?" she asked nervously.
He leaned over and indicated three X's. "Here, here, and here. There's no reason to be concerned, Miss Daniels. This is just a standard agreement authorizing me to handle your accounts."
"Okay. It's just...I never realized what a responsibility it is, having this much money," she said as she scribbled her name in triplicate.
"Of course, of course. Rest assured, I take my duties here very seriously. I'll treat this money just as if it were my own."
Jamie finished signing and pushed the papers across the desk toward Stanley. He took them and separated the copies, handing hers back. "These are for your records, and these," he said, waving his copies, "will be on file here in the office. We'll start looking at a mixed portfolio of stocks, bonds, and properties first thing Monday morning." He extended his right hand toward Jamie. "Thanks again for choosing us."
"Thanks for all your help," replied Jamie, rising from her chair to shake his hand. He turned to the file cabinet in the corner and opened a drawer, watching Jamie out of the corner of his eye. She was still standing there, reading through the contract a final time and smiling to herself. As she came to the last page, however, her expression darkened in confusion. "What's this?" she asked, almost to herself.
Stanley chuckled good-naturedly as he reached for a dark glass bottle and a stack of cotton gauze pads at the back of the drawer. "Oh, that's just the fine print. You don't need to read it. Just some legalese to keep the lawyers happy." His voice was as pleasant and reassuring as before, but his eyes narrowed as Jamie continued to read through the document. Without looking away from her, he uncapped the bottle and tilted it, soaking one of the thick pads with a clear fluid.
As realization dawned, Jamie's features contorted in obvious dismay. "This says my lottery checks are going to a Swiss banMMMMPHHHHHH!" she squealed as her words were abruptly cut off by the application of the damp cotton pad to her nose and mouth, the pages flying out of her hand. She had been so focused on the fine print that she hadn't noticed Stanley creeping up behind her. Now he had her in a firm grip, his left arm around her waist, her arms pinned to minimize her struggles, and his right hand holding the chloroform-soaked cotton to her face.
Jamie wriggled frantically in his arms, trying desperately to get free before the powerful narcotic fumes could do more than make her dizzy. But her frenzied activity worked against her, causing her to draw air into her oxygen-starved lungs, air that had been tainted by sweet chloroform vapor. As the smell filled her nostrils, her eyelids began to flutter rapidly, and she moaned a plea for help into the wet softness as her thoughts became more and more fuzzy. After the first whiff she could no longer control her breathing, so each indrawn breath seemed more full of the pungent odor than the last. Sensation receded as the chloroform continued to work on her, and her movements grew languid as she lost control over her body.
When her legs no longer supported her weight, Stanley guided her gently into the chair, keeping the damp rag over her nose and mouth. Her arms fell limply into her lap as he released his hold on her upper body, and a final soft sound escaped from her mouth, muffled by the thick cloth, as she sank helplessly into unconsciousness. Stanley kept the pad pressed to her face as he gently lowered her head to the back of the chair.
"I told you not to read the fine print," he said, smiling down at his sleeping captive.
Meanwhile, in another office on the other side of town, a shapely young woman wrestled with a towering stack of uncooperative paperwork. She thought she had it under control and momentarily moved her hand to gather another sheet, when the pile suddenly shifted and spilled onto the floor.
"Damn!" Courtney cried, more out of frustration than anger. She wanted nothing more to abandon the mess and close up for the day, but that wasn't going to happen. She had responsibilities, and she couldn't shirk them no matter how unpleasant they were. Not if she was ever going to move up to better things.
Courtney bent to gather the loose pages, and before too long had cleared the entire floor. This time she made several smaller stacks on top of the desk to prevent any more mishaps. Sorting the scattered pages was probably going to take the rest of the day, as if she didn't already have enough to do. What a time for the boss to take the weekend off!
With a sigh of resignation, she turned to the task ahead. She had barely begun, however, when the door opened and an attractive young lady with honey-blonde hair entered the office, her voluptuous figure barely contained by her blouse and skirt. Courtney straightened at her desk and offered her most professional greeting. "Hello! Welcome to the Bishop Detective Agency. How may I help you?"
The worried-looking woman sat in the chair facing Courtney's desk. "My name is Sarah Daniels and I need to know if my sister is about to get screwed out of fifty million dollars."
Courtney blinked. Fifty million dollars! Then she caught herself and regained her composure, fixing the woman with a penetrating gaze as she tried to ignore the stacks of paper on her desk. "Who's your sister and what makes you think her money is in jeopardy?"
"Her name is Jamie Daniels. She won the Lucky Seven drawing this week. Her roommate, a thoroughly obnoxious woman named Liz McKay, suggested she meet with an accountant today to see about managing her winnings."
"I still don't understand. That seems like a reasonable course of action to me," Courtney said, jotting the names down on a scratch pad.
"If anyone else had recommended this guy, I wouldn't have thought twice about it. But Liz always had such contempt for my sister that I can't believe she has Jamie's best interests at heart."
"Why do you suspect her roommate is up to something?"
Sarah shook her head. "Because I've seen the way Liz looks at her: it's the way you'd look at someone you hated. I've tried to warn Jamie about her, but she won't listen to me."
Courtney nodded. "What's the name of the accountant?"
"Terence Stanley. He has an office over on Westlake." Sarah stood up, her voice becoming plaintive. "Is there anything you can do? Jamie's over there right now, and she's so trusting that she's liable to sign the whole thing away before she even sees the first check."
Courtney thought about it. Sarah's cause for concern couldn't be denied, but there was no hard evidence that Jamie was in any immediate danger. Besides, whoever heard of an accountant working on Saturday? Even for fifty million. Then she looked up from the stacks of paper into Sarah's eyes and saw the depth of the woman's worry.
"Miss Daniels, I'll be glad to accept your case -- "
Sarah almost leaped out of her shoes. "Oh, thank you!"
" -- but I can't begin work until Monday," Courtney finished.
Sarah's enthusiasm cooled almost as quickly as it had appeared. "By Monday it may be too late. Jamie's not a very good judge of character," she said icily. Then she turned and headed quickly for the door. As she made to leave, she paused in the doorway and looked at Courtney. "And, apparently, neither am I." Then she was gone.
Courtney sat for a moment, reeling from the stinging rebuke. But what choice did she have? Her options at the moment were severely limited. With a frustrated shake of her head, she resumed her tedious task.
Liz closed the door behind her and looked around the room. "Terry?" she called out from the reception area.
"In here," came the reply from the private office.
Liz proceeded toward the room, only to be seized in a powerful grip as she entered. She gasped in surprise as Stanley effortlessly lifted her into his arms... and kissed her deeply. Liz returned the kiss with all the passion she could muster, losing herself in the pleasure of his embrace. When they eventually parted, she looked breathlessly into his eyes. "How did it go?"
Stanley gently released his girlfriend and turned toward the desk. "See for yourself."
Jamie was seated in the chair, her body resting limply against the soft upholstery, eyes closed in peaceful slumber. Her skirt had ridden up, exposing her white cotton panties and creamy thighs. A wicked grin spread across Liz's face as she took in the sight of her helpless roommate. "Oh, this is perfect! Little Miss Jamie is completely at my mercy now." She laughed softly as she brushed a lock of hair out of the sleeping girl's face. Turning to Stanley, she asked, "How long will she be out?"
Stanley shrugged. "Not much longer. You can keep her under with this," he said, handing the chloroform-soaked pad to Liz.
Liz gleefully took the wet cloth from him. "Well, I'll keep it handy, but I'd rather have some fun with her when she wakes up. First we have to make her a little more comfortable. Let's get these silly clothes off..."
Stanley smiled knowingly. "Enjoy yourself. I'll be over here if you need me for anything." He turned toward a stack of papers and started sending page after page through the shredder. When he was sure she was too busy to notice, he stole a glance at the shapely brunette hard at work undressing her former roommate, then looked up at the barely discernible black bubble in the ceiling. Smiling inwardly, he returned to his task.
Less than five minutes later, Jamie was stripped to her knee socks. Liz had wrapped nylon cord around her crossed ankles and knees and was almost finished tying her wrists when Jamie began to stir. She groaned softly as the effects of the powerful drug gradually wore off, blinking her eyes and trying to get them to focus. As she grew aware of her surroundings and her predicament, she began to whimper and pull against her bonds. Liz was behind her, tightening the ropes on Jamie's arms and torso, causing the bound beauty to squeal in pain.
"What's the matter, Jamie? Is that too tight for you?" Liz cooed, moving into Jamie's field of vision. The lovely captive's eyes widened in utter shock as she recognized her roommate.
"LIZ! What are you doing? Let me go!" Jamie screamed in anguish. Without replying, Liz produced a sponge-ball from her purse and stuffed it into Jamie's open mouth. Jamie sputtered as the thick sponge stifled her speech, and tried to push it out with her tongue. But Liz quickly applied several strips of adhesive tape to her lips, sealing them shut over the mouth-filling ball. Thrashing wildly in frustration, Jamie moaned as loudly as she could into her gag, but the soft sponge muffled her worried noises completely. Liz smiled and admired her handiwork as Jamie continued to struggle and squirm, her impassioned protests reduced by the gag to nothing more than meaningless murmurings.
After several moments of fruitless effort, Jamie seemed to relax. Her eyes above the tape-gag still looked fearful, however, as Liz leaned close to her face. "Are you through, sweetheart?"
"Mmm-hmmph," she replied, nodding.
"Good...because now you're REALLY going to suffer!" With that, Liz began to tickle Jamie mercilessly. Jamie squealed and squirmed, unable to avoid Liz's probing fingers as they caressed her helpless body: over her ribs, under her arms, behind her knees, between her legs... everywhere. Jamie giggled into her gag as her torment continued, her eyes squeezed shut and tears streaming down her cheeks. Liz happily tickled her tootsies through the thin material of her socks, loving every minute of Jamie's ordeal; she particularly enjoyed the way the little ditz shook her head from side to side, as though she were trying to deny this was happening to her.
"Enjoying yourself, darling?" Liz asked as her fingernails danced over Jamie's stomach and breasts, tweaking her erect nipples, giving them a playful pinch between thumb and forefinger before resuming her assault on Jamie's armpits.
Jamie just shook her head in frustration, unable to voice her distress thanks to the relentless tickling and the gag in her mouth. Her face was turning red, matching the deep blush that was spreading over her body as a result of the extreme stimulation. Liz realized that Jamie needed a break to catch her breath and paused momentarily.
Jamie was slow to recover from Liz's all-out tickle-blitz, giggling helplessly even after the attack was over. When her muffled laughter finally died down, a rustling of foliage outside the office window could be heard. Stanley immediately went to the window and peered through it, his expression grim.
"Somebody's outside. Did you make sure you weren't followed here?" he asked, still looking for the source of the disturbance.
Liz turned away from Jamie. "Of course. No one could track me the way I drive, anyway."
Stanley couldn't argue with that. He walked over to the file cabinet and opened the top drawer. Reaching inside, he filled another gauze pad with chloroform. "Keep her quiet until I get back." Palming the pad, he hurried out of the office.
Liz retrieved the pad he had given her earlier; most of the chloroform had evaporated, leaving the cloth nearly dry. Rising to her feet, she went to the cabinet and took the bottle out, bringing it over to where Jamie lay on the floor. The bound girl looked up as Liz approached her, bottle and cloth in hand, her intent clear.
She smiled as Jamie's eyes widened in horrified realization. Kneeling next to her roommate, she uncapped the bottle and put the pad over the neck, then tipped it until the cloth was saturated with chloroform; then she quickly replaced the cap, careful not to breathe the potent fumes herself. Setting the bottle on the desk, Liz brought the pad up to Jamie's face with a graceful sweep of her arm, almost surprising the helpless girl in spite of her understanding of what was about to happen.
"Sleep tight, Jamie," she murmured wickedly as she applied the pad to the gagged girl's face. Jamie squealed into the stuffed tapegag in protest; then she began thrashing about, shaking her head violently from side to side, trying desperately to avoid the penetrating anesthetic fumes. But Liz was not to be denied. Clamping the pad over Jamie's nose and mouth, Liz took hold of the struggling girl's left nipple and twisted it hard. Jamie gasped in surprise and pain, sucking a lungful of chloroform into her body. Liz continued twisting the erect nipple and watched Jamie begin to weaken as the powerful sleep drug was forced into her nostrils. Her moans became softer and her eyelids began to flutter as consciousness receded under the influence of the relentless vapor.
When she was positive that Jamie was completely under, Liz removed the wet cotton from the drugged blonde's face and cast her gaze up to the window. What was going on out there?