“Sorry?,” he asked, “what are these for?”
She smiled down at him, causing a hint of lines to appear around her eyes and at the corners of her mouth. “It’s the theme of Alison’s party. A twist on some traditional thing she heard about where when people turned twenty one they used to get a symbolic key ….. to the door or something like that …. but she’s flipped it so that she’s the one giving keys out. And instead of them just being symbolic, we’ll have keys which actually do something.”
“I still don’t understand,” said Gordon, “Is everybody just going to give Mrs Kowalski a key so she can unlock some handcuffs or whatever as soon as they get there?”
Janet Osborne laughed again. “It’s quite not that simple. So that everybody gets into the spirit of things the keys will be a sort of prize or reward. The idea is that everybody with a padlocked or handcuffed escort throws a key in a bowl, and then we play some games … just imagine how funny playing charades or something will be if one half of a team can’t move their arms around …. and each winner gets to pick out a key.”
He wasn’t at all certain about the wisdom of going to any sort of party while handcuffed, even one where the woman escorting him looked as stunning as Mrs Osborne did, but she crouched down in front of him so that her cleavage was level with his eyes and smiled: “You did promise Gordon, and I’ve already rung Alison and told her to expect you, so there’s no way I could go now without an escort. It’d look like I’d been stood up at the last moment, and for someone my age that would be really embarrassing.”
She was so close that he was unable to focus on anything other than her perfectly formed breasts, but he satisfied himself that she couldn’t tell he was staring, and that if she had been in any way aware of the way she looked that she could have persuaded him to do absolutely anything, not just something which sounded so innocent.
Gordon calmly stood up and nodded as he remembered how he’d managed to get invited to a party where he was to be the escort of a woman whose naivety at her effect on men was utterly puzzling, and smiled to himself as he reflected on how his mother probably wouldn’t have sent him round had she known that Mrs Osborne didn’t have an escort.
It had been three days since he’d walked in on Mrs Osborne talking to his mother about Alison Kowalski’s birthday party, but their conversation had quickly stopped when he’d asked what the a pile of small keys on the kitchen table was for. Neither of them had said very much at the time, but now he’d had an explanation, he was convinced that his mother obviously didn’t know Alison Kowalski at all as she’d replied: “It’s something do with a twenty-first birthday traditional thing I’d rather not try to explain, but Janet’s collecting spare keys to take to the party“.
Gordon grinned as he suddenly became very aware of a potential problem. “Collecting spare keys to take to the party,” he thought to himself. Maybe there was some sort of plan to make the escorts look foolish by having so many keys that everybody else’s amusement lasted all night?
“One condition,” he said feeling extremely satisfied at having worked out how to avoid spending the evening utterly helpless, “When the team I’m on wins, I get to try every key in the bowl until I find the one that unlocks the handcuffs.”
“I think that sounds like something we can all agree to,” she replied, “As long as you’re agreeing to take part in all Alison’s party games. But why?”
Gordon Lister couldn’t help but smirk as he whispered in a tone of voice that oozed smug self-satisfaction. “I’m happy to play whatever games she wants, but what if there were loads of keys in the bowl that didn’t unlock anything? If that were the case it could take ages to find the right key if you only got one pick each time you won.”
Janet Osborne smiled ruefully and took the handcuffs out of Gordon’s hand. “Now turn around,” she said smiling.
Gordon Lister was still feeling somewhat superior as Janet Osborne gently grabbed his right arm, spun him round so that his hands were behind his back, and locked the handcuffs into place around his wrists: “You probably think you’re clever, but …… well how about we get to Alison’s and then …..”
She pushed him towards the door and started to laugh. “Good idea of yours about filling the bowl with old keys. That sounds like it might be really funny. Doesn’t sound like it’d be as much fun as what we’ve got planned …. the joke might wear a bit thin before we emptied the bowl … but you are so much more intelligent than….”
She didn’t finish her sentence, and he couldn’t see her face as she led him out of the house and into the taxi, but he somehow knew that not only she was grinning wildly, for some unknown reason she was also getting very excited.