# Problem Solving

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Jade stood over the sink in her kitchen with a stack of math worksheets in one hand and a lighter in the other. She hesitated for only a second, then gave into her impulse and flicked the rough metal dial. Moments later, acrid smoke filled the air as the white pages curled and twisted. She had to turn the stack slightly left and then right to keep feeding the flames; they seemed hesitant to devour the rows of formulas and numbers. She didn’t care. She wanted them all destroyed.

She was two weeks into the spring semester at the local university, and she already felt completely defeated. She’d had to pump herself up before even signing up for this one, especially knowing that this would be the first of several math classes she’d need to get her degree in business administration. She’d been doing online work all over Christmas break, and doing so well that she was almost ready for the class to start. The moment things became difficult, though, her usual insecurities began to settle in. She’d come a long way in conquering those, but math still made her aware of all her perceived inadequacies in a way no other subject could.

She waited until she could feel the heat on her fingers, then threw the faucet on full blast and dropped the charred papers into the water. She wrinkled her nose; it smelled terrible now. She cast a guilty glance at the front door. She didn’t want Lisa coming home to the smell of fire in her house. Again.

With a sigh, she opened the kitchen window and let the cold air fill the indoor space. She rubbed her arms against the chill, but didn’t reach for a jacket before cleaning up the mess. Her triumph had blazed and disappeared along with the small fire, and now she felt deflated.

~   ~   ~

By the time Lisa got home that afternoon, there was no evidence of the tantrum. She moped around the house as her friend and mentor graded papers and then made dinner. Lisa gave her a few “whenever you’re ready” looks, but she didn’t make a habit out of digging for answers. It was a trait Jade loved and hated in equal measures. She knew how the conversation would go anyway. Lisa would be sympathetic, but then she’d want to make a plan. Hire a tutor or download some new math app, along with a pep talk. Jade felt sulky just thinking about it.

She didn’t want a solution yet. She just wanted sympathy and someone to agree that math was dumb, class was hard, and all of it was pointless. That was the pep talk she wanted.

It was a long shot, but Jade couldn’t keep quiet. She poked her fork at her steamed broccoli and said quickly, “I’m like, failing math.”

Lisa raised an eyebrow, then said matter-of-factly, “You can’t be failing. It’s only been two weeks. But you’re having trouble with it?”

“I guess,” Jade replied, still attacking her plate.

“Have you talked to the professor?”

“I hate the professor,” Jade said without thinking. She made a face at her plate as she heard Lisa sigh, and was unprepared for the sharp “Hey!” from across the table. Her head shot up before she had time to look anything but guilty. Lisa made fierce eye contact and said, “Enough with the faces. And the pouting.”

“Okaaaay,” Jade said, blushing and looking at her plate again. She wondered briefly if she was going to have to say “yes, ma’am,” but Lisa kept talking. “Is there an actual problem with the professor? Is she not doing a good job?”

“He,” Jade said, and then, for no reason at all, “He’s terrible. He just gives us assignments without explanation. And if you don’t understand Monday’s work, you can’t do Wednesday. And then you can’t do Friday. But he just says ‘read the text book.’”

Jade’s face was so hot you could light a match off of it. She was oddly lucky that she had already been blushing, or Lisa would have noticed the deep red Jade’s dark skin became as she lied. She didn’t even know why she lied, except to distance herself from any blame for her predicament. The awful thing was that, deep down, she knew she had some responsibility. Her professor actually seemed pretty great. He offered to help anyone who needed it after every class. More than once, she’s felt his gaze boring into her during the announcement, and she’d squirmed in her seat.

He wasn’t much older than Jade, actually, and for some reason that made it more difficult for her to approach him. Instead, she channeled all of her resentment of math toward him, and it came spilling out now.

“Like I guess it’s just what college is. I don’t expect anyone to hold my hand.” She glanced up and saw sympathy on Lisa’s face. Perfect. Exactly what she wanted.

“I’m sorry, sweetheart. That sounds really frustrating,” she said. “I haven’t done high level math in a long time, but maybe this weekend we can look over the material together and figure it out.”

Jade smiled. “Thanks.”

She actually did feel a little better. Maybe she’d just skip Friday’s class- she had torched the assignment anyway- and then reset herself this weekend. With that, she decided to put math entirely out of her mind until then.

~ ~ ~

Unfortunately, the weekend didn’t end up being very productive. Because Jade had destroyed the assignment from Wednesday and skipped class on Friday, she didn’t have very solid information to give Lisa about what they’d been working on. She couldn’t confess that, of course, so she just babbled about formulas and flipped randomly through her book, pointing at different problems and acting confused.

She had her chasing her tail for an hour before she finally gave in. “I guess I can’t help if I can’t even figure out where to start,” Lisa said, disappointed. “Ask him on Monday for specific page numbers we can look at, and I’ll figure it out then. I might talk to Jessie. She was always good at this stuff.”

Jade was profusely apologetic and acted downright rejected, but she was secretly relieved. For her, this felt like another great excuse to employ Out of Sight, Out of Mind. She would actually need to go to class next week, but if she just paid attention and maybe asked the girl who sat next to her some vague questions, she could probably figure it out.

~ ~ ~

Monday morning, Lisa found herself knocking on the wooden door leading into Dr. Kendrick’s basement office. She’d taken the day off work for a dentist appointment, and decided to use some of her free time to ask him a few questions. After the way Jade had described him, she wasn’t especially looking forward to meeting the professor, but she thought he could at least give her some resources as she tried to figure out how to help her friend.

“Come in,” came a warm voice from behind the door. Lisa walked in, extending her hand to the man behind the desk and trying to hide her surprise. She’d been picturing someone curmudgeonly, but he barely looked 30. “Hi, Dr. Kendrick? Can I steal a few minutes of your time?”

“Hi, yes, of course…”

“Lisa. Eckridge. Sorry, I’m not in any of your classes, but I’ve been helping a friend who is and could use a little help myself.”

“Nice to meet you, Lisa. Please, call me Danny. What exactly is it you’re looking for?”

“I though maybe you could recommend some worksheets, or know of a good tutoring program through the school?”

“I have mountains of that sort of thing. Who’s your friend, if you don’t mind me asking? She may already have all the materials I have to offer, if she’s ever stopped by during office hours.”

Lisa’s brain was struggling to keep up as it re-solved the jigsaw puzzle of Jade’s school problems. Dr. Kendrick- Danny- was not the aloof old scholar she had been led to believe. He clearly cared that his students did well and tried to help them succeed. She closed her eyes and sighed. “Jade Cortez,” she said.

Her eyes opened in time to see the planes of Danny’s face shift and become stern, though all he said was “Ah.”

Lisa recognized the frustration in his expression; she was probably mirroring the same one back at him. She even thought she saw a little bit of “you know what that girl needs…” in his eyes, and she definitely understood that feeling.

He continued after a moment, “I’ve never seen Jade outside of class, and I don’t always see her in class. She was absent Friday, actually, which isn’t good when she’s already struggling with the material.”

“I see,” Lisa said. “She’ll apologize to you herself, but for what it’s worth, I’m sorry if she’s been a pain in the ass.”

Danny’s expression softened a little. It seemed that he, too, was having to rewrite his first impressions. Lisa continued, “She’s smart. She just gets intimidated and then tries to avoid the thing that scares her, until it gets so big that she can’t fix it.”

A genuinely affectionate smile graced Danny’s face, and he said, “I know the type. And I get it. I’m glad she has someone like you willing to help.”

“Oh I’m gonna help alright,” Lisa grumbled, but there was no bite to it. It was still early in the semester, and Jade would be fine, once they got her back on track. And Lisa liked knowing this Danny Kendrick character. She felt an immediate connection to him, and she appreciated the time he was willing to put in for his students, even at the collegiate level.

He actually laughed, and said “Well class starts in a few minutes, so I actually need to run. Assuming Jade shows up, would you like me to send her to you? You’re welcome to use my office, and honestly she isn’t going to learn anything today. She’s going to have to catch up first. I can meet you back here after the hour, and we can discuss with Jade some of the study guides I recommend, or the tutoring program on campus.”

Lisa nodded slowly as she thought it over. “Yeah… yeah that would be great, actually… are you sure you don’t mind?”

Danny stood and grabbed his glasses from the desk along with his briefcase. “I don’t mind at all. There’s only one other office down here, and that professor has class until at least five this evening.”

“I really appreciate it,” Lisa said. She meant both the office space and the sly detail.

Danny reached out to shake her hand. “No problem at all. I’ll send her right down.”

And with that he left the office, leaving Lisa to wait for her little miscreant to arrive.

~ ~ ~

Jade was completely caught off-guard when Dr. Kendrick called her to his desk. Class was starting in a few minutes, and she had just been making her way to the back row. She was never late, because the last thing she wanted was extra attention. This was basically her nightmare.

“Yeah?” she said awkwardly. He stopped setting up the presentation for the projector and turned his full attention to her. She had liked it better when he was looking at the computer. She wasn’t sure before now that he even knew her name.

“Could you do me a favor, please, and go down to my office for me? There’s some paperwork in the top left drawer of my desk. The door is unlocked.”

“Okay,” Jade practically squeaked, and then she rushed out of the room.

It took her thirty seconds in the hallway to realize she hadn’t asked him where, exactly, his office was. She was too embarrassed to go back into the room, though, so she looked it up on the school’s website and then made her way down two flights of stairs, into a somewhat dimly little hallway that meandered its way past several storage rooms before ending in two office doors, directly across from each other.

The plaque on the right indicated it was the door she wanted, so she tentatively turned the handle and walked inside.

~ ~ ~

“Aww, crap.”

Jade stared at Lisa, who was sitting in the chair across from the desk that took up most of the back wall.

Feeling trapped, she took the offense: “Why aren’t you at school?!”

Lisa’s eyebrows shot up so high that Jade feared they might fly off. “Why do you think you get to ask questions right now, little girl?”

Jade crossed her arms, scowling. She once again felt herself reverting back to the stubborn teenager Ms. Eckridge had first met.

“Sit,” Lisa thundered, standing herself and pointing at the abandoned leather armchair.

Jade sat, arms still crossed, and looked pointedly away. Lisa took her chin and dragged her unwilling face back forward and said very slowly “Eyes. On. Me.”

She moved her hands to her hips as she got into full lecture mode. Jade shifted nervously, her attitude quickly slipping away. She felt small, swallowed up in the big chair while Lisa paced and scolded her.

“You completely mislead me. Not because you ask, but the reason I am here is to help you. I thought I might be able to find some resources so I could learn enough math to help you pass your class.”

Jade twisted one hand in the other, looking down guiltily at this, and then sharply back up at Lisa’s growl.

“And I didn’t mind that at all, until I found out that you have it put in the same effort. Not by half. I cannot believe you have not been down to this office before today, or that you skip class on Friday. Knowing we planned to work Saturday.”

“But I was going to—“

“No. There is no ‘but’ here, Natalie Jade. You mislead me. I get the fear over the subject and I get the anxiety about talking to me, but I do not understand why you let me think one thing, know the truth was another thing entirely.

“You might not understand either. People do silly things when they’re scared. What you need to understand now, though, is that it won’t happen again.”

Every muscle in Jade’s stomach tightened. That was the tone Lisa usually used right before—

“Stand up, pants down, hands on the desk.”

Jade’s eyes went wide but she didn’t move. She opened her mouth and no words came out.

“Now. There’s twenty minutes of class left and then Dr. Kendrick will be back to talk to you. There’s no one else on this floor to hear a thing, but if he shows up and you’re still sitting in that chair, he’s going to witness me dragging you up and across my lap. Is that how you want this spanking to go?”

“No!” Jade said, scrambling up. Tears pricked her eyes as she unbuttoned and unzipped her jeans, but there was no sympathy on Lisa’s face. Jade shoved her jeans down and bent over, gripping the edge of the desk. She was overwhelmed with shame and embarrassment, and at this point just wanted the punishment to begin so it could end.

She felt Lisa grab her boy shorts and yank them down well below her knees, then watched as her hand reached over to grab a sturdy wooden ruler that had been, up until this point, jutting innocently out of a desk organizer full of pens and pencils.

She squeezed her eyes shut as she felt Lisa’s arm encircle her waist, then whack!

Jade would later reflect, as she observed the marks on her backside and tenderly felt the worst spots in her bedroom mirror, that the ruler wasn’t half as bad as the hairbrush. However, as it came down across her bare bottom in the basement office of her professor, she thought that it was the worst thing she’d ever felt.

Lisa didn’t hold back at all as she spanked the wayward student, keeping her secured as her feet occasionally lifted and ignoring the ow, ow, OWs that came as frequently as the swats she was applying. Jade couldn’t help herself from shifting left and right, but it didn’t seem to stop a single sharp swat from finding its mark. It was apparently the perfect sized implement for whaling on the crease between Jade’s bottom and thighs, which Lisa did with enthusiasm.

She usually didn’t consider herself the stoic type when it came to Lisa, but the office setting and the semi-public feeling of being at the college made Jade want to be as well behaved as possible during her spanking. She was surprised to find that, even with all the will-power she could muster, it was a losing battle. No matter how much she deserved the punishment, she couldn’t keep herself from yelling and twisting. Big tears splattered on the desk, a slow trickle that seems to fall in time to the desperate “Lisa. Pleaaasse!” whimpers that escaped her mouth. Every time it felt like the ruler couldn’t come down harder, it did, until Jade could do nothing but plead and cry.

When it was over, finally over, Jade was convinced her bottom would never fit into her jeans again, though of course, miraculously, she was able to get them on. She wiped a hand across her eyes before sitting delicately down again in the armchair. Lisa squatted down next to her, looking up and resting her arms in the girl’s lap.

“Next time, tell me before things get this big and scary and we’ll make it not so scary together. And tell me the whole real truth. Got it?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Jade replied shakily. And she meant it. She always did. Not just because she hated being spanked, though she did find it to be a great deterrent. She knew she’d disappointed her friend, and she didn’t want to do that again.

“Dr. Kendrick will be back soon, and we will figure this out. Okay?”

Jade nodded, still looking down.

“Okaaaaayyy?” Lisa said again, prompting her for a better answer. It worked, and Jade smiled. “Yeah, okay. Okay okay. We will. Thanks, Lisa.”

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# A Mean Spanking

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Ben squealed as his boyfriend landed an especially sharp swat on the top of his left thigh.  His waist twisted as he tried for the third time to hurl his body off of Oliver’s lap and onto the floor.

When they had walked into the apartment earlier, Oliver had spanked Ben right through the living room and into their bedroom, quick swats that made him yelp and rush forward, but that was about all the warm up Ben had gotten.  His cries of “please?” and “wait!” and “can’t we talk about this?!” had been ignored completely.  Oliver had wasted no time yanking his boyfriend’s pants and underwear down to his ankles, leaving him standing there bared just long enough to reach over and snatch the hairbrush he’d started keeping in his nightstand.

Oliver’s firm grasp around Ben’s middle made this escape attempt no more successful than the others, but it did disrupt the steady rain of swats that had been falling.  Ben would call that a small victory.

“One more time, Benjamin, and you won’t be able to wiggle more than your toes,” Oliver said in a firm voice, followed immediately by a swat to Ben’s right thigh.  Ben kicked this feet into the mattress as he yelled, “But it hurts!!!”

“And it’s going to hurt well into tomorrow, little boy,” came the unsympathetic response. He kept it up with the brush, his rhythm predictable and his pattern erratic.  “I warned you.  And warned you.  And you couldn’t put the brat in the box.  Couldn’t make it through a few simple errands today.”

Ben huffed into the pillow that he clutched with his free left hand; his right wrist had been trapped to the small of his back since the very beginning of the spanking.  Adrenaline coursed through his body, though, and he continued to feel resentful of and resistant to the spanking, even if Oliver was right.  Especially if Oliver was right.

“There is a time and a place, and you missed the mark on both today,” Oliver continued, determined to break through the willfulness.  He decided a little embarrassment might go a long way to drive the lesson home.  “Sometimes a good spanking is what you need to feel better.  I know that,” he said, and Ben’s twitching body noticeably stilled, though the spanking hadn’t slowed.  Oliver knew there would be heat radiating from his boyfriend’s face already as he blushed.  “And I know that mischievous look you get when you’re overdue for a sore bottom.”

“Olllliiiieeee,” Ben whined, but then he felt angry at having given in to that part of himself, and wrenched his body sideways again unexpectedly.  It caught Oliver so off-guard that it was almost successful.  He made a deep and grumbly humming sound, then set the brush aside and slid his arm under his boyfriend’s knees.  It was easy to lift him because Ben started squirming immediately, more calls of “wait wait!” falling from his mouth desperately.  Oliver maneuvered until Ben’s legs were locked tightly between his own, then adjusted him forward a bit. “I didn’t want a spanking! I wasn’t asking for anything!” Ben exclaimed a little desperately.

Oliver smiled in spite of himself, if a little grimly.  “I didn’t say you wanted it,” he said as he picked up the hairbrush and rubbed the smooth wood in light circles across Ben’s tender bottom.  “You may not want it, but sometimes you need it.”  He tapped the brush lightly against the hot flesh.  “And you didn’t ask.  You downright demanded.”  The taps became more forceful as Oliver began to ramp up the spanking again.  “I’m happy to meet that need, love it even, but if you push me when we have other things we have to do first, this is the kind of spanking you can expect.  Does this feel playful to you?”

“No sir!” Ben responded.  The short lecture had brought tears to his eyes, though the pain of the spanking still left him straining against Oliver’s grasp.

“Does it feel like the kind of spanking you want to repeat again any time soon?”

“No sir,” Ben gasped. “I won’t do it again!”

“Do what again?” Oliver asked sharply, never wavering in his onslaught with the hard oak hairbrush.

“Any of it,” Ben said desperately.  “Roll my eyes.  Talk back. Argue.”

Oliver raised a skeptical eyebrow that no one saw, but his voice remained firm and calm.  “I’m sure you will do all of those things again, little boy.  And when you do, you’ll end up right back here, over my lap.”  Ben groaned into the pillow as Oliver kept talking.  “But when I say enough is enough, you will pull yourself together.  I will not repeat myself over and over for your amusement.”

“I’ll stop,” Ben wailed, “I won’t push!”

“Or?

“Or you’ll spank me!”

“I’m going to spank you any time you act up, Benjamin Kendrick.  Be more specific.”  He focused all of his attention on the tops of Ben’s thighs as he waited for an answer.

“Like this!  You’ll spank me like this!  A mean spanking, a mean spanking!”

Oliver smiled and returned to layering pattern-less swats across Ben’s bottom.  They might not have been the words he would have chosen, but he understood what his boyfriend was trying to express and he accepted his answer.  It was time to start winding down the spanking.  He stopped long enough to adjust Ben once again, this time sliding the young man’s torso over so he was no longer supported by the bed.  With his head near the floor, Ben’s bottom and thighs were stretched taut.  Ben grabbed Oliver’s ankle with his left hand and whimpered.

“That’s exactly right, little boy.  A mean spanking, just like this one.”  With that, Oliver tightened his grip on Ben’s legs and wrist and laid into his already swollen bottom with the hard wooden implement.  Ben shrieked, but was powerless to do much else as the rapid fire swats came down.  He couldn’t catch his breath enough to say anything, but garbled syllables still came out of his mouth as he endured the end of his spanking.

When it was over, Ben lay gasping and hiccuping for several minutes as Oliver rubbed his back and ran light fingers across his bottom.  Oliver adjusted his boyfriend’s body again, freeing his legs and guiding his torso back onto the bed, then reached to the nightstand a second time; this time for lotion.  As he applied it tenderly to Ben’s very swollen backside, he asked “Are we all clear now?”

“Yes, sir,” Ben replied with a shuddery breath.  “Sorry, Ollie.  And thank you.”

Oliver smiled and leaned down to kiss the back of his partner’s head.  “Of course, sweetheart.”

# The Clearing

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This follows The Plan.

Whatever semblance of shame that had been on Phillipa’s face after the Discipline Room was quickly gone.  Her plan to meet her secret admirer boosted her spirits, and she was back to flitting around her quarters by mid-afternoon, dreaming of the mysterious Bartholomew and their meeting.  Helena helped her dress, her feelings flipping between irritation at the princess’s blithe disposition after this morning’s eventfulness, and worry that something would disrupt their plans.  So far, though, things were playing out nicely.  As predicted, Phillipa requested privacy from her usual accompaniment for her afternoon ride, and as predicted, was permitted to have this as long as the governess was allowed along.  Phillipa didn’t even pitch much of a fit about it, likely because she had already caused such a scene.

She was haughty as she ordered Helena to stay back and give her space, but the governess allowed herself to seem gracious about the demands, winking over her highness’s head at head of the stables.  She did give the young woman some room, staying back on the trail but keeping her well within sight.  Soon, they had followed the path away from the castle, and when the trail split, Phillipa took the cleared path into the woods.

The light changed as Helena entered the forest canopy, and she felt her eyes adjusting to the dimness as her brown mare continued along the brushed dirt.  The path winded lazily deeper into the trees, and it became difficult to keep the young princess in sight.  Helena let her wander further than she usually would have, content to hear the horse’s hooves and know they were still fairly close to each other.  They needed to be well out of hearing range of anyone else, which would be the case if Phillipa followed the instructions of “Bartholomew” and his letter.  Just as she thought this, Helena heard the horse ahead slow, and she knew that the princess had spotted the first trail marker for her to follow; a bit of blue string tied inconspicuously to a tree branch.  Abraham had set up the path this morning, marking the way far off the trails and toward a clearing that had been scouted days before.

Helena clicked to her horse and their pace quickened; she wanted the princess to think she had shaken her guardian without actually getting too far ahead.  For almost an hour they continued like this, with the governess occasionally yelling out to her charge in feigned worry, eventually even letting false panic enter her voice as she shouted, “Princess!  I’ve lost you, and we’ve lost the path!  Princess?!”

She could imagine the smug look on Phillipa’s face; she knew the princess could hear but not see her and the foolish girl would no doubt be applauding her own cunning.  Helena followed the strings herself, though, steadily until she knew they were well away from even the deepest set of the servants’ quarters.  Then she clicked again and she and her horse sped up, trotting past the blue strings and catching up with the girl in a matter of minutes.  Helena watched the disappointment bloom on Phillipa’s face when she entered the clearing.  The princess had already dismounted, tied her own horse to a tree, and arranged herself prettily on a fallen log– one that had actually made this spot particularly appealing to Abraham when he had been scouting locations.

The governess resisted the urge to roll her eyes.  Clearly Phillipa had expected her knight to enter momentarily, timed as if he belonged in one of the fanciful stories the royal brats of the castle often told themselves and each other.  Helena slid to the ground effortlessly, ignoring the huffing of the princess, who had shot up and was stalking toward her governess in a rage.  “Leave!  I do not need you here!” she yelled at the older woman.

Helena didn’t so much as flinch as she lead her own horse to be tied, allowing herself to embrace the feeling of truly having the upper hand for once.  “It’s my job to look after you, Princess.  Where else would I be but here?” she said calmly.

“Anywhere else!  I am no child in need of a nursemaid!  I demand you leave at once!” cried Phillipa, her fists clenched at her sides and her eyes wide with anger.

“You are right about that,” Helena said as she turned away from the animals and gave Phillipa her full attention, “you are no longer a child, and I am not a nursemaid.”

Something in the governess’s face finally tipped the spoilt young woman off to the fact that things were not what she thought, and she frowned and took a step back as Helena slowly advanced toward her.

“As to what you need, that I have known for a very long time.  It has pained me to fail you, over and over again, but it was not my choice to make.  As you are about to find out, though, Princess Phillipa, I have taken matters into my own hands.”

Phillipa’s eyes widened as she continued her slow retreat backwards, unconsciously letting Helena steer her back toward the log upon which she’d been lounging moments ago.  “What you need is the discipline you so often seem to seek but never truly feel.  What you need are boundaries, and a firm hand, and someone willing to guide you properly.”

Phillipa’s legs bumped the fallen tree and she plopped down abruptly, still staring at Helena’s face.  Without warning she opened her mouth wide and yelled, “Bartholomew!  Help!  Please help me, sweet knight!”

For the first time since dismounting, Helena was surprised.  The foolish girl still thought there was a knight in shining armor making his way to her, hidden in the woods and ready to save her honor, or at least the virgin skin of her bottom.  Helena laughed, a quiet sound with little mirth.  There was indeed a man waiting in the woods, but he was no knight and his intentions were not kind.  He would make his presence known soon enough, but he certainly would not save her.

The governess took the princess’s chin in her hand, and held her face firmly in place as she spoke.  “There is no Bartholomew, Princess.  There is only a stack of letters in my quarters that I ‘found’ while straightening your room, and one that I ‘intercepted’ with your promises to run off alone with this stranger.”  Helena tightened her grip on the girl’s face.  “You are not leaving here with any stranger.  You are here to finally get the spanking you truly deserve.”

Phillipa actually gasped as she finally began to piece together the information she was receiving, and even with her cheeks being squeezed by the other woman’s hand she tried to say “My father–” but she was cut off immediately.

“Your father will send you to a nunnery if you ever speak of what happens here.  I will show him the letters if you so much as threaten me, Princess, and perhaps I will face consequences but they will be alongside yours and they will have been worth it.

Helena’s voice was deadly as she said this, and a prelude to her changing her grip from the girl’s jaw to her ear.  She dragged the princess up and seated herself on the log, pulling the girl down and across her newly ready lap.  Phillipa kicked her legs, fighting, not able to form words yet through her shock but resisting as best she could.  There was a brief struggle and a cloud of useless petticoats as the two of them wrestled, but it ended with the princess face down, her bare legs exposed and trapped between the strong legs of her governess.  Her many skirts lay piled around her waist, her pantaloons were split wide open around her naked bottom, and her right hand was secured by her side as her left flapped behind Helena’s back uselessly.

The governess felt grim satisfaction at the perfect blank canvas before her.  She ignored the little royal’s struggling and enjoyed the moment.  She had dreamed for years of doing just this, and now she wanted to savor it.  Her free hand rested on the cool skin of the girl’s backside, which was still despite the twitching of so many other muscles as the useless flailing continued.  She patted the bottom gently, even affectionately, recalling the young girl this princess used to be, the one that held such potential, the one who had truly wished for anyone to pay this much attention to her.

“You have grown into a thoroughly nasty, spoiled young woman, Princess.  You have treated me unkindly, embarrassed me and your father, and caused entirely too much undue harm for one young woman.  For this,” and Helena smugly adopted the formal tone she used in the Discipline Room, “you will receive a spanking on your bare bottom, witnessed by Camilla, the whipping girl, and Abraham, her husband.”

Phillipa’s body stilled at these last words and she turned her head wildly from side to side, her movement restricted but her dismay palpable.  She spotted the pair of them as they walked into the clearing, out from the thick copse which had hidden them.  They peered at her unsympathetically, and Helena smiled to herself, happy to have them witness the justice they both deserved here.  Phillipa screeched and renewed her struggling, more desperate than before.  “NO THEY CANNOT I FORBID IT I–”

But her shouts were in vain and ended in a loud cry as Helena brought her hand down sharply on the princess’s as-yet unspanked bottom.  The governess spared her more lecturing for now, instead intent on letting the girl wear herself out.  Phillipa’s round bottom was high in the air and framed beautifully by her bright white undergarments.  Her delicately slippered feet kicked useless at the dirt, and she gasped and yelped with every swat.  Helena had no troubled restraining the girl, whose pampered life had left her fragile and weak.  She watched as the girl’s skin began to color, and made sure to spank well down her thighs.  Because the princess had never been so much as swatted before, it didn’t take long for small bruises to begin forming.  Helena found them incredibly satisfying, and increased the force behind her swats, each one delivering the full potential of the governess’s strong arm and wide swing.

She only slowed when she heard a faint “please,” but she didn’t stop spanking the girl.  Phillipa was barely struggling now, having used most of her energy up quickly.  Helena was pleased with this new development and began to lecture her again.  “Your days of roaming around with your behavior unchecked are over, Phillipa,” she said, purposefully dropping the royal title and treating the princess like the unruly brat she was.  “Do you understand me?” she asked as she placed several swats across the girl’s thighs.

“Yes, yes I understand!” cried Phillipa.

“You will treat me and every other person you meet, from the lowliest chambermaid to the highest ranking noble, with respect and kindness.”

“I will, I swear it.”

“And if you don’t, I will accompany you here, to this very clearing, and I will put you back across my knee, Phillipa, and I will spank you just like this.”  Helena punctuated her entire lecture with swats, and the princess sobbed through all of them.  It was no light spanking, and the girl’s bottom was uniformly bruising now.  When the governess finally slowed and then stopped the spanking, she marveled that Camilla could bear this and more without shedding a single tear as she gently stroked the princess’s hot skin.  She felt an affection for the girl that she thought had died long ago.  She didn’t take time to linger on the feeling, though.  Only one part of the girl’s debt had been repaid, and she had another to atone to now.  Helena took hold of her shoulders and pulled her up, then stood up next to her and pushed her back down, forcing her to sit on the log.  She squealed and tried to stand again, but Helena refused to let her.  The princess sniffled loudly but kept her wet eyes on her governess’s face.

“We aren’t finished,” she said firmly, and Phillipa looked bewildered.  “Why-y-y?” she hiccuped, and Helena raised an eyebrow as she replied.  “Because what always happens to Camilla when she has to pay for your naughtiness, Phillipa?”  The princess shut her eyes tightly and a few tears leaked from the outer corners and down her cheeks.  “She gets the strap,” she managed finally, her voice shaking, “or the cane.  Am I going to be caned?”

Helena knew the princess was picturing the whipping girl’s stripes from this morning, and it terrified her.  The countless punishments she had witnessed over her life had suddenly become very real.  She was already shifting restlessly on the log, unable to keep weight on any part of her swollen bottom for long.  Helena looked over her shoulder at Abraham.  He shook his head slightly, and glanced to his left.  She followed his gaze and saw the wide leather strap he had hanging from a branch beside him.

Helena nodded and turned back to the pitiful little princess.  “Be thankful Abraham is feeling generous.  You are not going to be caned.  You are going to feel the strap.  Though I don’t imagine it’s going to feel like he’s being generous.”

Dawning apprehension was all over the girl’s face as she began to speak.  “But… he can’t… I can’t be…” she fumbled.  Even now, minutes after being released from across her governess’s knee, Helena could see the defiance returning to the princess’s eyes.  “He cannot.  He is common and I am–”

“A spoiled rotten princess.  A brat in need of taming.  A young woman about to be strapped by a very common and very angry man.  I would not worry so much about the common part.”

# Sam, I thought I told you never to play-

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Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.

I should have known goodbye wasn’t goodbye, that she’d stroll back into my life just as casually as she had strolled out. I should have, but I didn’t. It still hit like a punch to the gut to see her there, flirting with some young sap. He’d buy her drinks all night if she let him, and she would let him. She always let them.

She couldn’t see me, and I didn’t want to be seen. Not yet. She and I, we had unfinished business.  If I had my way, it would be resolved tonight– I decided that in an instant.  I watched her discreetly from behind the bar, the bar I had been tending for months now, after fighting with the owner about it fiercely. He didn’t think it was proper, but I could mix a better than good drink and keep the patrons under control, and he needed that in a place like this. He didn’t think my pants were proper either, but here I was.

She didn’t wear pants, would have said it wasn’t proper herself, but she liked my look just fine and I liked hers. She wore a red dress tonight, red like her lipstick. Her laugh tinkled up over the piano keys and I found myself smiling. I served the boy drinks when she sent him to fetch them, and he really was a boy, just barely of age to be here at all. He was going to be mighty disappointed later, but for now he grinned as I handed him the martinis. On a whim I put three olives on a toothpick, plunked them into what I hoped would be her drink. She liked them dirty and so dry you could barely look at the vermouth before sending one out. I knew how she liked her liquor. I knew how she liked a lot of things.

The last time I’d seen her, things had been fiery. She’d found love letters. Old ones. Forgotten ones. Love letters in a shoe box from a woman back in the States, a woman with a husband and two children now, a woman I remembered fondly and that was all. But she was torn all to pieces about it, and in the end she left because of it. I kept waiting for her to come back, but she was stubborn. Too stubborn for her own good. She knew the letters were nothing, but she was scared of what was happening between us and she took the first excuse she found to run.

I’d waited up all night for her, but she didn’t come back. My thoughts chased themselves like dogs on a false trail, up one wrong tree after another. Worry, anger, hurt, resentment. Everything that could happen to that girl out in the world would cross my mind and I’d feel a panic rising up, then I’d remind myself that she was fierce and strong, no matter how delicate she looked. That would send me down an entirely different path, thoughts of what I planned to do to her when she came back. I’d make sure she didn’t doubt me so easily next time. She would know I belonged to her just like she belonged to me, and there was no two-ways about it.

That opportunity never came, though. She didn’t come back, not that night or the one after. And now here she was, laughing and flirting, acting as pretty and carefree as she had been the night I’d met her. I watched her pick up her toothpick, swirl it lazily around the glass. She turned, not quite looking over her shoulder, just keeping herself in a perfect profile as she opened her red lips and took the bottom olive in her teeth. It was sensual and deliberate, and I couldn’t look away. She knew I was watching. She must have known I was here, or had some inkling, and now she knew for sure. She always was a tease.

I was teasing her, too, I guess, hiding in the shadows like I was. It was the nicest thing I planned to do to her tonight, at least for a good while. See, I never blamed her for leaving. I was angry, sure, but she was a passionate woman. It’s what passionate women do. You don’t get to pick when the volcano erupts, and you’ve got to expect it at the wrong time some time. She was used to batting her pretty lashes at any man she saw and he’d just fall all over himself to do her bidding. She was royalty among us and she knew it, and it bored her.

I never bored her. I watched those same pretty eyes fill with tears, fill with longing, fill with whatever I wanted to see in them. I’d make her beg for the smallest thing and then still say no, just to hear her beg some more. We filled our nights with lovemaking, and sometimes our days, too. It wasn’t that I couldn’t be tender, but I made her work for it. Every time.

Tonight would be no different.  I was already stripping her in my mind. I hadn’t seen her in six long months… there wouldn’t be a mark on her.

There had better not be, anyway.

I wiped down the bar, more to occupy my hands than because it needed cleaning. Slow crowd tonight. Not a lot of orders to fill. Too much time to watch the clock.  Too much time to think.

I got off at 11. For all the arguments I’d won, I’d lost to working the latest shifts. The boss couldn’t stomach me walking home at any later an hour and I can’t say I was keen on it myself.  I handed off my rag to Gus, my work partner tonight. He’d shut everything down in a couple of hours. I hung my apron by the door. I took a quick look into the lady’s room to color my lips and pinch my cheeks.  When I wore lipstick, I chose to be dark, like wine too nice for a place like this.  I couldn’t sling drinks with these lips.

I waited in the back, keeping my eyes on her. I’d caught her checking on me a few times as the night went on, glances less subtle than she realized, once you knew she was doing it. I watched until she grew nervous that I had gone, that her plan hadn’t worked after all.

It had worked, alright. She’d spun her web and I had fallen right into it. She had forgotten that I was a spider, too.

When she finally made her way up to the bar, I made sure Gus was distracted before he could serve her. The drunkards outside were easy to rile up, so I riled ’em. He was breaking them up when she came looking for him. She just had to ask about me. I could see it in her face.

She was out of sight of her companion, on purpose I was sure, at the edge of the bar. He was one of three patrons left this late, and they all seemed occupied. I left the back room where I had been watching and came up behind her. With shocking familiarity, my right hand wound up the back of her head, until my fingers were entwined in her locks. I closed my fingers and she was mine, a gasp escaping her lips before she could stop it. I felt her try to turn, and I tightened my grip. I made her face forward. I put my lips close to her ear.

“If you don’t tell that boy goodnight and follow me out the door, I’ll spank your bare ass right here in the bar,” I whispered. I tugged her head back. Forced her to look up. Emphasized that I was serious. I’m sure she believed me.

I meant every word.

I pulled her off the chair and pointed her back toward her table before I let go.  She must have wanted to look back and see my face desperately, but she had her pride. I saw the boy’s face fall. Sorry, kiddo. Better luck next time.

Finally she turned around and we made eye contact. She was suddenly shy.  She bit her bottom lip and her eyes were worried.  I held out my arm and the fear ebbed. She reached me.  She smiled.  She threaded her arm through mine.  “Fancy getting out of this dump?” she said to me.

“I’ve got some place quiet we can go,” I replied.

The walk was quiet. I thought I had a lot of questions for her, but I seemed to have forgotten them all.  She might have felt the same way, but I couldn’t tell.  I only lived a few blocks away, in an apartment too nice for a bartender.  I didn’t work because I needed to.

I just liked that bar.

It was in the elevator that I decided to let her know how the night was going to go, if she had not already surmised.  Alone and on our way to the top floor, I pressed myself against her, my breasts to her back.  I wound my right arm around her body, under her right arm and up so that my forearm rested against her breast and my fingers curled themselves delicately around her throat.  I pulled her back so my lips were again speaking directly into her ear.

“Strip.  Find your spot.  Stay in position until you are called.”

I felt the bob of her throat as she swallowed, a quick sensation against my fingers.  Her hesitation meant she was contemplating rebellion, and my grip tighten just the smallest amount.  There were nights she could put up a fight, a good fight, and we’d enjoy the struggle for power, even knowing how it would end.  I wasn’t going to allow that tonight, and she’d do herself a favor knowing that early on.

“I will,” she said.

I slid my hand down, slowly, winding it back to my own body just as the elevator dinged.  I slid open the doors, ushered her out as I retrieved my key from my pocket, and then we walked into my apartment and directly to the bedroom.  The back wall was all window, covered now by a sheer cream colored curtain.  It let in the light  during the day and would be casting a magnificent silhouette of the sexiest woman in Morocco just moments from now.  I tipped my imaginary hat to anyone lucky enough to glance up at this late hour.  You’re welcome, neighbors.

I used to put her in corners, and still would if I had an inkling, but once I’d put her against the curtain on impulse, and her eye had gone wide with the command.  “But the people–” she’d stuttered, and I was grinning wickedly before she could get the thought out.  “If you didn’t want people to see you being punished, you shouldn’t have misbehaved,” I’d told her then.

I used the same line now, or something similar, and I knew her face was hot with embarrassment as she took off her dress, and then her slip, and then her brassiere.  She knew that I wanted to remove her underwear myself and that I didn’t mind her heels.  The white panties that clung to her round bottom were another sign of her scheming tonight.  They appeared to cover a fair amount until one saw the intricate lacy pattern that left plenty bare.  I knew she wouldn’t be caught dead out of the house in these if she wasn’t sure someone would be there to strip them off later.  She was too proper about that sort of thing, would have considered it naughty.

I watched as she took her position, nose an inch away from the curtain, hands behind her head, red heels spread a foot apart, ass out.  I took my time sorting myself out behind her, lecturing as I unbuttoned my cuffs and rolled up my sleeves.  “You were gone too long, little girl.  Much longer than I prefer.”

I found a clip for my hair and secured it at the nape of my neck.  I wanted it out of the way.  “I don’t like when my things disappear.  Even when they are upset.”

I didn’t hold it against her now that she was here, but she’d want to atone for it or we’d be stuck on it forever.  I knew my girl.  And I didn’t need any encouragement to indulge her.  I planned to enjoy every second.  “Do you have anything to say for yourself?”

Her knees shook a little.  I was glad she was nervous.  She said quietly, “I’m sorry.”

I opened the bureau and pulled out a leather paddle that was old and supple, and a thin whippy cane.  I eyed her almost naked body and traded the paddle for a riding crop, then put both on the bed.  “I’m sure you were sorry weeks ago.  But you picked your pride over your happiness and sacrificed both for me in the process.  And I just can’t have that.”

“Please,” she began, starting to turn, but she caught one look at the expression on my face and adjusted herself quickly, back in position.  I picked up the crop and popped it quick and hard on her left cheek.  “I did not tell you to turn,” I said as I snapped it down again, this time on her right cheek, “and it is too early to beg.”  I walked around her, watching her face as I continued to bring the sharp little rectangle down, scattering the swats all across her lace-covered backside and thighs, sometimes letting lighter ones dance around her hips and the front of her legs.  I watched her face tighten along with the muscles all up and down her body as she took in the pain.  “Take three steps back,” I said, and she complied.

I walked a full circle around her, letting my eyes roam and the end of the crop trace a path around her belly.  I felt my body react to the sight of her, but ignored it for now.  We would have time for lovemaking.  Now was time for repentance.  When I was behind her again, I tossed the riding crop away and reached up, grasping her wrists.  I guided her arms out and then bent them again as I placed her hands firmly on the small of her back.  I kept them secured with one hand while the other tangled itself in her hair again.  I pulled her back toward the bed, making her walk backwards.  She hated feeling clumsy and out of control, and stumbling back on her heels would make her feel both.

I released her at the bed, then walked around to stand in front of her again.  She glared at me.  I looked into her defiant eyes and smiled.  She couldn’t stay defiant long, not looking down at me fully dressed and her past halfway to naked and already warmed over with more to come.  I looked right into her pretty eyes as I reached down and unbuckled my belt.  There were plenty of reasons for a woman to favor pants, and it had been worth the ridicule for me just about as soon as it was my own choice to make.  I discovered the pleasure of removing my belt as a nervous woman watched early on, and it quickly became my number one reasons.  I liked the way she bit her lip more than I liked pockets and riding bicycles.  I liked the sound it made when I slid it through the loops, and the loud clink in the quiet room as I folded it over.

“Turn around,” I said, and boy did I like the way she looked when she did that.  She put her perfect legs together and bent, placing her hands on the bed.  I stepped to the side and steadied my arm, tapping the belt lightly across the roundest part of her waiting bottom, and then I brought it down.  She wiggled her ass in those lacy underwear and I brought it down again.  I kept bringing it down, lick after lick on her poor heating backside.  She fidgeted and squeaked but kept her hands and feet planted.  I relished the smacking sound, the way the leather whipped down and striped her.

I could have kept going like that all night if the desire to strip her hadn’t overcome me.  I tossed the belt on the bed beside her, then slid my fingers under the band of her white lace lingerie, sliding them slowly down her hot round bottom, down her thighs, squatting to bring them to her ankles.  “Step out,” I said, and she did.  I lingered down there, looking up and enjoying everything I saw.  She realized what I was doing and shuffled her legs together without thinking, embarrassed.  I stood, put a steadying hand on the small of her back and inserted my right foot between hers and kicked them wide apart.  “That wasn’t a wise move, now was it?” I teased her.

“I didn’t mean–” she began, but I hushed her with the crack of my palm on her now exposed ass.  “Doesn’t matter and you know it.  This is the price you pay for disobedience.”  I hadn’t planned to use my hand much but the curve of my palm felt so wonderful against the curve of her bottom that I brought it down again.  I stepped to her side and wrapped my arm around her waist so I could spank her sincerely.  She kept those red shoes nice and far apart, though her knees kept bending and I could hear her breath coming in shorter and shorter bursts.  My palm stung as I brought it down, and I liked the feel of it.  I let my hand curl around each cheek and let my fingertips dapple the inside of her tender thighs.

“Pick up the belt,” I said when I was finished, intending to complete the whipping I’d started.  It lay limp and tangled on the covers beside her hand, but she bent forward and took it daintily between her teeth, letting it dangle as she twisted to deliver it to me.  She was being cute, and I grinned in spite of myself.  She always knew how to get me.

I had it doubled back over in no time, but this time I swung it lazily down, letting it whap across the span of her bottom.  I kept going for a long time, steadily, slowly, patiently upping the ante every minute or so, bringing the belt down harder and harder, but never faster.  She began to shift her weight from foot to foot, a little twitch here and there, which gave way to a bend in her knees.  A little harder, and I knew every inch of her ass was on fire as each lick overlapped layers and layers of swats.

“Please,” she finally let out, but I didn’t give any indication of how much I liked hearing that.  I began to put my entire body into the swing and soon that “please” was followed by an “I’m sorry,” which I ignored, too.  She was going to feel this spanking well into the week and she was going to remember it forever.  I needed to make some things clear once and for all, for her sake and mine.  I continued to crack the belt down as I saw her twisting the blankets in her manicured hands.  Finally, when the exertion was causing my own breath to come up short, I stopped.  The silence was abrupt and jarring, but broken quickly by the clinking of the belt buckle as I dropped it on the floor and said “Never again.”

A sob escaped her throat.  I stepped up and ran my hot fingers up her thighs and across the bruised skin of her bottom, and she moaned and shifted her body even at the gentle touch. “You hear me?” I continued.  “Never. Again.”  I swatted her hard.

“Never again!  I promise.  I swear.  I’m yours,” she said desperately.  I swatted her other cheek and said “Again.”

“I’m yours!” she said, her body rocketing forward.  I found myself unsatisfied, and decided to turn and grab the oval hairbrush that stayed on my nightstand.  I threw my left arm around her waist and secured her body against mine roughly before bringing it down hard and repeating, “Again.”

She screamed and said “I’m yours!” as her heels finally left the carpet, so that I supported much of her weight.  I was filled with adrenaline and more than capable of bracing her body against mine, and I didn’t hesitate to repeat the entire process. I kept at it, offering her less and less recovery time between each command and answer.  When she reached her right hand back on the tail of an especially loud and pitiful cry– “I’m yours!”— I threw my foot up on the bed frame and pulled her body over and across my knee.  Her hands were splayed on the bed still as her stomach pressed against my thigh.  Her feet now dangled helplessly and the skin of her bottom was taught.

“Again,” I said sternly, followed with the wooden hairbrush kissing her skin once again.  She kicked her feet, frustrated with her sudden helplessness, and I brought it down again and harder and she screeched and answered finally.  I began to lay into her, determined to spank every last ounce of resistance out of her, and her feet began to kick in earnest as she cried out over and over again, “I’m yours!  I’m yours!  I’m yours!!!”

I didn’t stop until her crying made it too difficult to make out her words.  I tossed the brush and looked at her bottom, listening to my labored breath and her tears as I traced the bruisy lines that had formed in patches across the delicate skin of her backside and thighs.  “You’re mine,” I said finally, and another large sob shook her.

I shifted her body again, releasing her wrist and patting her at the bend of her hip so that she took her own weight and slowly resumed her position: arms and legs straight, ass out, feet spread.  “Good girl,” I said.  I walked around the bed, grabbing the cane and placing it in front of her as I bent over, putting one hand on the bed to support myself and using the other to tip her chin up.  Her mascara was running, making her beautiful eyes look smoky and sad.  I watched a tear drip off the tip of her nose as she looked up at me.  “Twelve,” I said, and she groaned and shut her eyes tight.  I didn’t say anything, but I hardened my expression and waited for her to accept it.  When she did open her eyes and look into mine, she cringed and then said meekly, “Yes, ma’am.”

I nodded, standing and picking the cane up again.  I returned to the other side of the bed and readied myself, tapping it lightly against the top of her bottom.  She whimpered but I brought it down anyway, hard but not near as hard as I could, and not at the top of her bottom– it landed perfectly across the crease of her thighs and backside.  There was an audible increase in her crying and it took her almost thirty seconds to get back into position.  I brought it down again just a bit higher, and again.  The sixth lick was at the top, and you couldn’t see any new marks on the canvas of her bottom, but I knew how much they hurt.

The seventh swat was searing, much hard and in the same spot as number six.  She buried her face in the blanket and stomped her left foot against the floor several times, trying to take the pain.  I made my way down, each stroke matching one from before, but she took them all and I was proud of her for it.  I put the cane back in the closet, then grabbed a handkerchief from my night table.  When I was across from her again, I leaned down and rested my elbows on the bed, extending my hands toward her and pressing my forehead against hers.   She latched her arms around mine, both of us gripping each other for a moment.  My nose became wet from her tears.

Eventually I loosened myself, though I kept holding onto her with my left hand.  With my right, I gently dabbed her face, watching the white hanky became smeared with her tears, black makeup, and red lipstick.  Then I folded it over, exposing a still fresh back side of it, and tucked it into her palm before gently urging her forward.  “Lay down, baby,” I said, and she scooted forward and let her belly lie on the bed.  I stroked her hair as I reached past her to grab a small container of scented lotion from the beside.  I crawled onto the bed and sat beside her, cross legged, so that my knees pressed up against her side.  I dipped my fingers into the cool white lotion and then brought them to the hot skin of her backside.  She winced as I smeared it, and pressed the handkerchief against her mouth.

I cooed over her, rubbing her back and praising her.  Eventually I put the lotion away and laid down beside her.  She put her head on my chest and wound her arms around me, throwing a leg across mine.  I held her tight to me, both of us laying wrong-ways across the bed and not caring.  It felt good to be holding her again.  I kissed her forehead, and felt the soft way her lungs rose and fell against my body.  I gazed down at her naked body and swollen ass and bruised thighs, carefully positioned to not touch the bed at all.  An ache for her settled into my body, but I ignored it.  There would be time to sate that need as well.  This… she… had been worth waiting for.  I knew she would make it up to me when she drifted out of this beautiful lazy space she floated in now.  I knew it would also be worth the wait.

# The Plan

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This follows a Dramatic Interlude.

Abraham glared as a flock of birds took flight, startled by the resounding yalp he had just released.  He had been pacing among the trees, trying to calm his temper.  It was time to do something.  He tired of seeing his wife punished for the whims of that woman-child daughter of the king.  He need to act, but Camilla was right.  She usually was.  Getting himself hanged wouldn’t do them much good.  She’d probably be forced to move into the castle full time if he died.  As it was, they lived just outside the grounds, in the nearby wood.  There were other servants’ quarters scattered about, all humble cottages spaced well apart.

Just thinking about Camilla suffering unjustly made his temper rise again and without thinking, Abraham turned and hurled his axe blindly.  It landed with a powerful thunk, buried deep into the trunk of a sturdy oak tree.

“I’m awfully glad I don’t walk any faster than I do,” came a dry voice from the vicinity of his axe.  Abraham looked over to see a woman, one dressed more finely than anyone he would usually see in these parts, but she didn’t strike him as royalty, and he didn’t kneel. She was standing alarmingly close to the tree he had hit, but she didn’t seem fazed and he didn’t dwell on it. Each one looked at the other for a moment before Helena said, “I’m looking for Camilla, wife of Abraham.”

“What do you want with her?” Abraham asked, his entire body tensing.  If this was a summons, he’d risk a hanging.  Camilla would not return to the castle tonight.  Helena eyed him appraisingly and then seemed to drop her guard.  “I want to know if she is okay,” she said.  “She had a difficult day.”

Abraham relaxed a little, though he still looked at her with scrutiny.  After a moment he said, “Follow me.”

They walked in silence back toward the cottage; Camilla ran out and threw her arms around her husband as he stepped out of the trees and into the clearing around the home.  Her dress was righted now and her face washed, even though her eyes were red from crying.  Helena observed them quietly; she was unsure what Camilla’s reaction to seeing her would be.  They had a strange relationship, and there was a strong affection between them, given the nature of their interactions.  The governess knew about Abraham, about the garden Camilla tended, about her love of animals.  In the quiet moments after a discipline session, the two women often had time together while the princess was with her father.  Helena would smooth cooling cream on the other woman’s punished backside, distracting her from the discomfort by asking questions about her life.

To Helena’s surprise and delight, Camilla embraced her after Abraham.  They could not have shown such familiarity in the castle, and had never seen each other outside of it.  Helena should not be here now, but had decided to take the risk.  She was also glad for her own sake.  She didn’t know how Abraham would react once he knew that the marks Camilla bore came from Helena’s hand, no matter that she had no choice.  She could see he loved her well, though, and if Camilla could forgive her, he would find it in him to do the same.

Soon they were inside, and Camilla brewed tea as they made awkward introductions.  Abraham was angry to hear who Helena was, but calmed himself quickly.  He understood what it meant to be under the thumb of a leader to whom one did not willingly owe fealty.  Begrudgingly, he was able to admit that it was not upon Helena that he wished revenge.  Given the chance, though, he would thrash the princess within an inch of her life.  Camilla shuddered at these words; Helena grinned.  She wanted much the same, but there was no way she could lay a hand on Phillipa without surely losing her own life.

But perhaps there was a way to give the uppity princess her dues.

Helena had not come to the wood with a plan, but she and Abraham were of one mind when it came to this.  They both wanted the princess to know the sting of leather.

And so, a plan was hatched.  Helena knew the princess was foolish, and could be courted easily into danger.  Her plush life was indeed boring; on her more sympathetic days, Helena could see why the girl sought trouble so often.  They would lure her with a series of love letters, written by Abraham but dictated by Camilla.  Common women did not read, but she would know what to say.  She could give these letters to Helena, who would hide them for the princess to find.  With the smallest luck, they would be able to lure the impudent girl into the woods, past the cottages, where she would find no lover waiting for her.

~     ~     ~

It worked almost too well.  The princess was foolish and eager; she had seen too many women married off and found herself constantly jealous.  So when a letter from Sir Bartholomew found its way under her pillow, Phillipa bought his flimsy lines without question.  “Bartholomew” claimed that he had seen her at one of the banquets, and her father refused to grant him an audience because he was a knight and not a prince.  That was about all it said of him, though.  The rest of the letter lauded her beauty, her grace, her wit.  He asked that if she would allow him, he would like to write her again; she was instructed to leave a blue handkerchief on the path she road the next morning.  Phillipa generally took her beautiful brown mare out after breakfast.

Helena fought not to roll her eyes as the princess spent an exorbitant amount of time readying herself, tucking a blue handkerchief among her skirts.  The ride was uneventful, the drop-off successful.  Another letter came two days later.  He described what she had been wearing in detail, and she was dreamy-eyed over dinner.  An added bonus to the love letters was that Princess Phillipa began spending much of her time riding her horse or staring wistfully out of her window.  She was not finding trouble as often as the castle staff was used to hearing.  Though incidents that required large implements were viewed by the king and selected audience, it was much more common to hear poor Camilla being spanked with a hand or hairbrush on an almost daily basis while Helena scolded the princess.  The governess avoided this where she could, but she was bound by her own constraints.  There were witnesses everywhere with much less pity in their hearts for the whipping girl.  They knew only what the king expected, and both Camilla and Helena would suffer greatly if he suspected any sympathies between them.

The governess was beginning to think that they may get to spring their trap without another severe punishment.  The letters came for two weeks; they knew that asking her to meet would be the riskiest part, and wanted to proceed with utmost caution.  Princess Phillipa was truly enthralled with her fictional knight, though, and they finally sent her a letter with detailed instructions on where to meet.

It was that day, of course, that their good luck ended.  Phillipa breakfasted with the king and his court as she always did on Sundays.  She indulged too much in the sweet wines they served, and it made her clumsy and brash.  Near the end of the meal, her father took note and signaled the governess to take Phillipa to her quarters and away from the banquet table.  This wasn’t uncommon for the indulgent princess, but when Helena beckoned her, Phillipa refused come.  Frustrated and trying to avoid a scene, she leaned down to attempt a pleading conversation with the young woman.  Phillipa stood and turned, preparing for a tantrum.  Helena shifted her tone, and said firmly “Princess Phillipa, this is not the time.  Your father has business to conduct with his guests.  We are needed elsewhere.”  Without warning, Phillipa turned, throwing her full glass of wine in the direction of her governess.

The only bit of good news was that in her drunkenness, the princess had missed Helena almost entirely.  The king had witnessed the entire event, and his face reddened with his temper.  Helena stood frozen with shock, as did most of the other guests.  Even Phillipa, who rarely even feigned fear of repercussion, was wide-eyed and still.  “Father,” she finally got out, but he interrupted her with a roar: “To the Discipline Room!”  Helena kept in step behind the princess as they immediately made to follow the order.  As they walked down the chamber, they heard another command echo.  “Fetch the whipping girl!”

~     ~     ~

In the small room adjacent to the Discipline Room, Helena glared at Phillipa.  She was furious.  The senseless girl had embarrassed her father.  Few things raised his ire more.  She kept her eyes on the floor and seemed genuinely contrite this time, but little good it did anyone.  Within moments, they were summoned.  The King felt it important that a spectacle be made of the one being punished, which was why the room was designed as such.  Helena had witness many spankings in this room in the many years she had been caring for the princess.  The king’s wife had born him eight sons before her namesake, Phillipa, and soon after she had passed away.  Unlike with his daughter, the king had no qualms about the discipline of his sons.  Helena had seen all of them at various points marched up the very aisle which she now walked with the princess, followed by their tutors to the platform ahead.  No implement along that wall had gone unused for long when they roamed the castle, and to her knowledge, the king found no age of adulthood late enough to stop the use of them as he saw fit.

Only Phillipa escaped the actual punishment, and despite the added publicity, today would be no different.  The benches were fuller than Helena had ever seen them; it seemed most of the breakfast party had answered the invitation to watch.  Helena and her charge assumed their positions, with the princess standing to the side of the seated governess.  She was thoroughly scolded before the older woman began to declare, as she always did, “For this, you will receive a spanking and a strapping on your bare bottom, witnessed by–”

She was cut off by the monarch’s deep voice.  “The cane, governess,” he commanded simply.  Helena kept her face schooled, though she winced on the inside.  She began again.  “For this, you will receive a spanking and a caning on your bare bottom, witnessed by your father the king. Six strokes.”

All too soon, they had completed the warm-up ritual.  Like so many times before, Helena had taken Camilla across her lap and spanked her, making sure every inch of her bottom was hot before re-positioning her for the cane.  Her eyes were shut tightly and she had a death grip on the chair.  Knowing that over a dozen witnesses were staring at the whipping girl’s exposed and sore bottom, Helena did not waste time making her choice of canes.  She picked one of both medium weight and medium thickness.  She found the thin ones to be too biting, and in many ways more painful than the thicker canes.  The thickest she found unwieldy.  She tested her pick in the air, swishing it twice and enjoying the sound it made in spite of her reluctance to perform the task.  She walked back to the chair and tipped Camilla’s chin as she always did before she began.  Today she said, “Be brave.  Remember tonight.”

And then the governess walked to the edge of the platform, looking directly at Phillipa as she did so.  The princess looked guilty, but she couldn’t quite pull off remorseful.  Helena was glad of their plans for her this night as she lifted the cane and tapped it twice on the waiting backside.  She took aim and the cane whistled and thwack– a line appeared across the fullest part of Camilla’s round cheeks.

The girl bent her knees and let out a cry, then righted herself quickly.  Helena didn’t give her much time before thwack, another line appeared just an inch below the first.  Again, she cried out and bent her knees before straightening them again.  Helena noticed the tremble in girl’s knees as she made ready for the third stroke, but she didn’t hesitate as she brought the cane down again, this time an inch above the original stroke.  She paused then, watching the three parallel lines raise.  She thought again of tonight and the princess getting a taste of her own medicine, and it steadied her hand as she brought it down again, a new lowest line, and again, a new highest.  Each time, Camilla cried out and bent her knees, almost to the floor by the fifth one.  It took her longer to straighten, but after a moment she did so.  The second she had, thwack-– the sixth and final stroke landed just above Camilla’s thighs.

The governess turned and looked to the king, who nodded. Phillipa stood as she was supposed to, walking with a contriteness that looked out of place on her usually unapologetic face.  “Have you learned your lesson?” the king asked solemnly.  “Yes, Papa.  I’m sorry.”

“Good,” he replied, standing.  Helena found it ironic that he still seemed dissatisfied, though this appeared to her the only time a lesson had actually been learned.  He turned and left, and Phillipa followed meekly.

Helena adjusted Camilla’s pantaloons and lowered her skirt before gently thumbing the tears from the girl’s cheeks.  “Good girl, Camilla,” she said.  “Such a good girl.”

More you say?  Check out The Clearing.

# Summer Flu

Standard

Emma scowled at Danny, who stood at the bottom of the stairs. He had his arms crossed, and he was unimpressed with her scowl. He had just ordered her back into bed, but she had no intention of going. She’d been stuck there for five miserable days with the flu, and she was so tired of being tired. So instead of turning around, she looked defiantly down the stairs, hands on her hips and scowl firmly in place… right up until Danny took a step toward her. She turned back around and stomped into the bedroom, slamming the door and furious with herself. What’s he going to do anyway? she grumbled.

Her scowl grew as she thought about this. Worst he would have done was shoo her back in here, considering he thought she was too weak to even walk down the stairs. Thoughts like these chased themselves around her head, and in a matter of minutes, she had worked herself up to getting out of bed again. This time she didn’t try to sneak down the stairs. She walked out of their room and announced over the railing that overlooked their open kitchen and living room, “I am coming downstairs.” As she took the few steps toward the staircase, she grabbed the railing to steady herself. Maybe she was a little bit more woozy than she thought. She looked up a second later, and back into the piercing blue eyes of Daniel Strauss. He had his arms crossed again, and had apparently stepped out of their home office at her announcement just in time to see her stumble at the top of the stairs.

“Emma,” he ground out, but she refused to turn around. Still, she couldn’t quite stand her ground, and so instead she sat down on the top stair. Danny’s eyebrows shot up, and she tried to ignore the way her heart jumped in her chest at his expression. When he started walking up the stairs, she scrambled to stand, but jumping up made her dizzy again and she had to stop and clutch the banister. Danny hurried up the last few steps, wrapping his arms around her and walking them back to the bedroom. “I’m fine!” Emma said, but even she didn’t believe it. She was surprised at how much energy that had taken.

She was far more surprised a second later to find herself horizontal, stomach flat against her boyfriend’s muscled thighs and torso resting on the bed. She shrieked and squinched her face up, preparing herself for the first swat, but it didn’t come. Her whole body stilled, and in the silence she could hear her own breathing, which was much heavier than it should have been for so little activity. She was keenly aware of Danny’s right arm around around her waist, holding her across his lap. His left hand tugged up her large t-shirt, then pulled down her underwear in two swift jerks, one on each side. His hand rested on her bared bottom as he began to speak.

“So you are so stir crazy that you would rather take a spanking than stay in bed. Is that what this is, Emma Grace?” he said quietly, his voice low and stern. She groaned softly and felt her face and neck go hot with embarrassment. Maybe she wasn’t exactly thinking just that, but maybe… maybe she had wanted to provoke some sort of response. Maybe. “Well I have bad news for you, kid. Because I am going to spank you,” he continued, gently running his hand up and down across the cool skin of her bottom, “but it is not going to be now. And it is not going to be tomorrow. You are going to stay in this bed, just like the doctor said, until she says it’s okay to be up.” A growl crept into his voice and Emma found herself whimpering through his lecture. “And the very second she says you are allowed out of bed, I am going to put you across my lap, just like this,” and he patted her bottom, “and I am going to spank your pretty backside until it glows.”

Emma buried her face into the bedspread, her ears burning with embarrassment. She felt her eyes well up with tears and she felt terrible for having provoked him at all, after all he’d done to care of her, and this was how— “Eeep!”

A single sharp swat had landed on her backside, and Danny said “None of that, little girl. I am not mad at you. I understand you are bored and frustrated. But bored and frustrated aren’t excuses.” He patted her bottom, and she jumped even though he was being gentle again. “And believe me when I say that I am looking forward to you being well as much as you are. Maybe more, now.”

And with that he slid her off his lap, situating her back on his thigh but seated, underwear still bunched around her legs and her arms around his neck, a magnificent pout gracing her features. “I don’t want a spanking,” she mumbled, “I just don’t want to be sick any more.”

“Well you are still sick and you are going to be spanked. All you have left to decide is how bad it’s going to be. Keep up this pouting and I’ll take off my belt when the time comes. Let tomorrow be another day like today, and I’ll get the hairbrush. Let me catch you wobbling near those stairs again,” and his eyes glittered dangerously, “and I will spank you every night for a week. Are we clear on that?”

“Yes, sir,” Emma mumbled into his shirt. She couldn’t help that her mouth was still turned into a frown, though she dared not express any further rebelliousness. She didn’t argue when he tucked her back in a few minutes later. It was still early in the evening, but she was drifting to sleep in a matter of minutes.

Danny adjusted the covers around his sleeping girlfriend, then gathered up the small bin full of tissues and replaced the bag, straightening up the room for his patient. She had been so pitiful just three days before, and now she was struggling in a different sort of way. No longer occupied with the worst of the symptoms, she was now mostly just tired and bored. And naughty, Danny thought as he washed his hands for what must have been the thousandth time since she’d gotten sick. He was trying to be patient, but she’d just used up the last of it with that stunt. He suspected Emma might have found herself searching for his limits out of sheer desperation to rid herself of the doldrums. He crossed his arms again as he gazed down at her. Not wise, little girl, he thought to himself. Not wise at all.

~   ~   ~

When Emma woke again, it was almost dark. She noticed immediately that her area was clean again, as it always seemed to be after she dozed. She felt a twinge of guilt at how stubborn she’d been all day, but then she remembered that she was now in trouble, and a nice pout pushed the guilt away and she glared at the plate of saltines that had appeared on her nightstand. A glance at her phone told her it was almost 9pm. She reached for her iPad and began to pull up Netflix, but she hadn’t even gotten to her profile before tossing it gently away again. Emma was tired of watching things. She was tired of reading things. She was really truly and un-ironically tired of sleeping.

The door slowly opened and Danny walked in, carrying a glass of ginger ale. “Good morning,” he said as he placed the ginger ale on the nightstand beside the bed. “It’s not good or morning,” Emma replied grouchily. Danny’s eyebrows raised slowly and she pushed herself back a little, as if the headboard might actually be a secret door. Her boyfriend’s face didn’t look half as pleasant as his greeting had been. He stepped toward her and put his hands flat on the mattress, one on either side of her frame, so that his torso was parallel to hers and their bodies were very close. She pulled the covers up over her nose, but couldn’t seemed to break her wide eyes away from Danny’s. He was calm and unblinking, gazing thoughtfully at her for a moment before leaning down to put his lips against her ear and say quietly, “That’s one.”

“No!” Emma found herself exclaiming as she pulled the covers down from her face, narrowing avoiding hitting his rising body. He replied as he casually walked around to his side of the bed, “Oh yes. That’s one, and if you keep arguing, it will be two. Now sit all the way up.” His voice became more commanding as he let out a string of orders. “Start sipping your ginger ale, and start working on those crackers. I want all of it gone in the next hour, before we go to bed.” He held up a silencing hand before she could protest, “Yes, bed. I don’t think you’ll have any problems sleeping, but if you do, you can spend your time thinking about how you are going to keep from getting to three in the next 24 hours.”

Emma’s mouth dropped open, then shut with a click.  She crossed her arms and fought to make her face passive.  A minute later she reached over and grabbed a cracker and shoved it in her mouth.  She couldn’t see the small smile on Danny’s lips as she fought to chew the dry cracker, but it was there.  He left her alone as he picked up his kindle and glasses; he was quickly absorbed but managed to keep an eye on the clock.  He was happy to see that half of the ginger ale was gone and so were most of the crackers after half an hour, and finished before her time was up.  He quietly put his book down and put his arm around her shoulders.  She had been reading her own book, an actual paperback in her hands.  She leaned into him and he kissed her temple.  “Time for bed, honey.”  She sighed deeply but didn’t argue.  She put her book away and got up just long enough to complete her night time routine.  She was again startled by how quickly she tired, even though her tasks had been simple.

Emma really really did not want to be spanked with a wooden spoon, or the brand new hairbrush Danny had recently acquired.  And even though she didn’t want to go back to sleep, the thought of Danny holding her was now very appealing.  She decided she was all finished being mad at him as she pushed herself up against him in the bed.  He turned obliging, molding his body to hers and kissing the back of her head.  They talked a little, mostly mindless and sweet chatter, and soon they were both fast asleep.

~   ~   ~

The next morning, Emma woke before the sun had risen.  Danny was still asleep, having rolled over in the night to his side of the bed.  She brushed her fingers through his hair gently, and then glanced at the bedroom door, biting her bottom lip.
She really wanted to go downstairs.

She slipped one leg out from under the covers and planted it on the floor, then stilled.  Now that she was contemplating the move, she was very aware of her boyfriend’s body heat in the bed and his rhythmic breathing, indications that he was sleeping soundly.  She wanted it to stay that way, though she kept telling herself that he wouldn’t mind anyway.  She just wanted to eat, really, and that was a good thing!  She hadn’t been hungry in so long, and it meant she was getting better, for sure.

As her other foot made its way to the floor and she lay awkwardly twisted, she felt another twinge of guilt.  Maybe she should wake him up.

Even as she thought it, though, she let her torso slide off the bed, snakelike in her movements until she was planted.  Then she stood, and took a step toward the door.  An overwhelming sense of freedom shot through her and she walked a little faster, until she was at the top of the stairs.  Remembering Danny’s look at her wobbling yesterday, Emma decided to sit, carefully, on the top step, and scoot her way to the bottom.  To hush the voice that told her this was a bad idea, she kept making small compromises, hoping to sooth the warning bells.  She got down the stairs safely.  He would be happy with her for that.  Definitely happy.

She walked over to the kitchen, opened the fridge, and began to rummage for breakfast. The doctor had warned her that her appetite would return much faster than her ability to eat without being sick. At the moment she didn’t care, and she poured herself a large glass of orange juice and put a bagel in the toaster. She grabbed cream cheese, and container of berries, and some yogurt. She almost grabbed the granola, but her arms were full, so she turned to put everything down on the table…

…and found herself looking directly into a pair of very unhappy blue eyes. Emma almost dropped the food in her arms, but caught herself. “Hi,” she said meekly.

“Three,” Danny replied, his voice deep and gravelly from sleep. He wore plaid white and grey pajama pants, the drawstring dangling loosely. His chest and feet were bare and his hair was still mussed. That much authority shouldn’t have been possible from someone who had been asleep just minutes ago, but the air around him seemed to crackle with it. Or perhaps that was Emma projecting— her stomach knotted and she struggled to defend herself in the face of his stern gaze.

“You were asleep, though…” she said, trying to sound confident but hearing the confession in her almost-whisper. And then the actual word he had said caught up with her brain and she dropped everything on the counter to exclaim, “Wait, three?! You were only at one before! You can’t skip—”

“I can. I did. Go back upstairs.”

“But I—”

“Now.”

Emma paused, feeling overwhelmed. She couldn’t move, wanting so badly to argue but also knowing that it wouldn’t do anything but get her in more trouble. And now he was going to use his hairbrush tomorrow, and she knew that’s what he would use, it’s what he always used when she was intentionally naughty, and she hated the hairbrush. One quick glance at this face told her she was seconds away from being carried up the stairs. She heard the toaster pop, her bagel was ready, and it was somehow the signal her brain needed. She glanced back at the slices longingly for a second, and then walked around the kitchen island toward the stairs, where Danny stood, still watching her.

As her right foot landed on the bottom step, a wave of heat rush up her body. She realized that he was hovering nearby so he could walk her up them, and it made her feel small to have him in step behind her. Any argument died on her lips, though, and she forced her left foot up, onto the next one. When they got to the bedroom, she couldn’t help but cast an imploring look up at her boyfriend. She wanted to be anywhere, anywhere, besides back in this bed. She said quietly, “I feel a lot better today, though, I promise.”

Danny nodded, lifted the covers, and he said, “Good. I’m glad to hear it,” and she realized in an instant that this wasn’t about her being sick, not this particular small detail. He probably would have let her get out of bed once he woke up, if she had just asked him, if she had just waited for him to or woken him up herself. This was now a battle of wills. She had done exactly what she’d been told not to do, and she was suddenly sure that she’d be regretting that choice in more ways than one. Her shoulders sagged, because she knew, too, that Danny didn’t choose his battles unwisely. He would win. He always did.

And so, she climbed under the blankets and allowed herself to be tucked in, once again. “I’ll be back up in just a minute,” Danny said before kissing her forehead and leaving the room. And he was, with half bagel on a plate, a small glass of orange juice, and a large glass of water. She gave him a shy smile and sat up in the bed, blushing faintly but also a little pleased as he spread a napkin over her lap. He wasn’t too mad at her if he was pampering her, she thought happily. Not that he ever really got mad at her. Danny more just had… expectations. And consequences for not meeting those expectations. He was surprisingly good at dealing with chaos, and would have been described by their friends as laid-back or easy going. He’d told Emma once that it wasn’t that he minded not being in control; he just was or he wasn’t. So if it was his job, or his problem, or someone who belonged to him— like me, Emma thought, smiling— he was fully involved.

She immediately frowned again, because for her, fully involved meant that he was going to spank her tomorrow.  She hated even thinking the word, even though a small voice reminded her that she would feel much better afterwards.  She released a small sigh.  No use thinking about it now.  She picked up the bagel and had a bite.

~   ~   ~

The rest of the day passed almost without incident.  Danny did let her go downstairs in the afternoon, and they watched a movie together.  She didn’t start to nod off until the end, and then she took a nap on the sofa.  She was able to eat soup for dinner without any problems.  There were a few times where she began to protest his ministrations, but then she’d watch his eyes grow dark and she’d back down immediately.  Mostly, she was able to push thoughts of tomorrow aside.  The agitation at not working– Emma’s friends would not have described her as laid-back or easy going– even subsided, partially thanks to Danny’s efforts to keep her distracted.  She suspected he might have pushed off some of his own work obligations, but she didn’t even feel bad about it.  Mostly.

Emma only brushed up against Danny’s limits once more, when it was close to bed and she wanted to shower.  “Bath,” he’d said back to her when she’d mentioned it.  “I don’t want to take a bath,” she’d said back.  “I just want a quick shower.”

“Sorry, love.  Not tonight.  I watched you stumble up the stairs, and you probably should have been in bed an hour ago.  Take a bath tonight, and I’ll sit with you.”

“I said I don’t want to take a bath!” she had said back, with more force than she had intended.

“That’s one,” Danny had replied calmly, even as he went into their bathroom and turned on the tub’s faucet.  She felt a sharp intake of breath as she stared as his back.  What’s he going to do at three this time?! she’d wondered, this time with none of the challenge that had led to her very first big act of defiance yesterday.  This time the question was scary.  She had suspected that he was only half concerned with her falling, and half trying to prove a point.  She had suspected that he wouldn’t be interested in hearing that argument.  She had undressed, and climbed into the bath.

~   ~   ~

It was afternoon before Danny decided to address her punishment.  She spent the morning on edge, not wanting to ask and also wanting badly to know.  Now the moment had arrived.  She was in their office on the desktop, sorting through emails she’d missed or not had the energy to answer before, when he appeared in the doorway.  He leaned against the frame, arms and ankles casually crossed and said, “We need to talk, my girl.”

A small sound of disappointment escaped her, but she quickly got to a stopping point in her work and stood, walking hesitantly from behind the desk to take her boyfriend’s now proffered hand.  He raised her knuckles to his lips and kissed them gently, then pulled her past him and out the door, planting a swat on her backside with his other hand.  “Upstairs and find a corner,” he said, and she did exactly that.

About ten minutes later, Emma heard the soft sound of Danny sitting on the bed behind her.  She clenched her bottom involuntarily as she waited for him to call her out of the corner.  He didn’t make her wait long.  Soon she was standing in front of him, slightly between his spread knees, anxiously pulling at the fabric of her shorts and bouncing slightly on the balls of her feet.  It was like all of the energy she’d been lacking all week suddenly returned in an explosion of nerves.  In comparison, Danny seemed perfectly at ease, but then didn’t he always? she thought.  The hairbrush was already sitting on the bed beside him, and that didn’t seem like a good sign.  Daniel Strauss had large, hard hands and a powerful swing, and when he did use implements, he typically sent her to fetch them near the end of her punishment.

There were times when she was made to explain whatever incident had lead up to the spanking, times when Danny wasn’t exactly sure about the details but was pretty sure she was guilty.  There was even one time when she had successfully explained herself and he had nodded thoughtfully before deciding not to spank her at all.  This time, though, there was no good explanation and they both knew it.  He’d still ask her plenty of questions, she knew he would, but not until she was already sore and sorry and on the brink of begging for him to stop.

He reached out and tugged on the bottoms of her shorts, which slipped off her hips to fall limply on the floor.  They were stuck around her left foot a second later as Danny pulled her forward and across his right knee.  He reached down to pick her up by the torso, swinging her legs up and making her, for the second time that week, horizontal and reaching for the blankets.  His easy maneuvering of her body made her feel especially vulnerable, and she was acutely aware that this time there would be no last minute reprieve.

She buried her face as his right hand pulled her more snugly against his body, and then the first swat fell and she wasn’t thinking about anything except the sharp sting of his palm on her backside.  Danny’s broad hand found it’s target over and over again, and though her underwear were still up, it didn’t do much to save the round curves of her bottom or the tender skin of her thighs.  He spanked her steadily, turning his hand into a metronome, not losing his rhythm even when she began to squirm, or later when she began to kick.  The only pause came after several minutes, when he decided it was time to lower her white panties.  She moaned into her arms; she always did.  It wasn’t the nudity itself but the lack of autonomy, the voteless decision to strip her of the smallest garment she wore, that made her flush with embarrassment.

There were times when he lingered at this moment, rubbing her back and observing his handiwork, but today he resumed the spanking with a sense of purpose that even in her vulnerable position, Emma recognized.  The echoey cadence of the spanking was interrupted by the noises escaping her, which were happening more and more frequently.  She had always been easy to bring to tears, but usually she did little more than squeak until the end of a spanking, when apologies would come spilling out of mouth.  She knew it was way too early for that, but her bottom already hurt so much!  Her hands, too, couldn’t be contained, though Danny was used to pinning one hand to her side or back.  Emma didn’t like to have them restrained, and so always fought to keep them forward.  At this moment they were both pressed against Danny’s thigh and she was pushing so hard that her back arched and only his strong grip around her waist held her there.

“Please, Danny!” she finally said, and to her surprise and against all precedent, he slowed down.  She relaxed her upper body as best she could, bring her hands in front of her to grab the blankets again.  As the swats slowly faded into gentle caresses, he began to speak.  “I know it has been a very hard week for you, little girl,” he said as his fingertips gently slid up and down her hot bottom and the tops of her thighs, circling the edges of her punished skin, “but I am not currently accepting ‘the flu’ as an excuse for bad behavior.”  He landed a tremendous swat at the end of his statement, then continued over her yelp, “I know it is very trying for you to not be working, and that the boredom probably felt like a punishment.  It wasn’t.”  She groaned as she felt him reach for the hairbrush, but he didn’t pause his lecture.  “By the time I’m finished with you, you will understand the difference.”

He placed the smooth wooden back of the brush against the hot skin of her backside, and pulled her body closer to his, so her side was plastered snugly against his stomach.  He reached up and placed his right hand on her right shoulder, letting it slide down her bicep so that he could untangle her arm and align it with her body, his grip settling firmly on her wrist.  She gave a little kick at this, then said pitifully, “But I’ve been good!”

She couldn’t see the brief affectionate smile on his face, but it was there.  “You have been good about your hands.  And I’m sure now that you will continue being good until I’m finished.  I’m afraid there’s no chance of it otherwise.”

Emma heard the threat in those words and began to scramble when she felt the brush lift a second later.  “No don’t don’t don’t I’m already sorry!  I’m already sorry, Danny!”

Her voice went up an octave at the last word; the brush crashed down and even though Danny knew they weren’t anywhere near the intensity of his usual “finishing” hairbrush swats, Emma was too overwhelmed to tell the difference.  For his part, Danny wanted to make good on his promise– the promise he felt was implicit when he counted to three.  Three promised consequences.  Three promised regret.

He brought the hairbrush down again and again, unfazed by her apologies or her tears or her wildly kicking legs.  Soon all of her words were lost, her entire vocabulary erased save his name, which she repeated with increasing desperation.  Eventually, even that was lost, and all that was left was the sound. Swat. After swat. after swat.

~   ~   ~

When Danny finally ended the spanking, Emma’s bottom was swollen and her breathing ragged.  He knew that it wasn’t the worst spanking he had ever given, but she was delicate now and he felt that as he held her.  Her body was worn and her emotions drained, though she had the strength to cling to his shirt and mumble into his chest, quiet “I’m sorry, sir, I’m so sorry,” while he mumbled his own “It’s okay, baby.  It’s okay,” over her.

She napped without complaint that evening.  He stayed in bed with her, reading while she slept.  When she woke, he massaged her back and rubbed lotion gently over her tender backside.  Emma pouted where she could get away with it, but generally after being spanked she felt small and doting.  She did as she was told, and he lavished praise on her for every small detail.  She even managed to keep from working one more full day.  It helped that she couldn’t bare to sit at the desk.

# Dramatic Interlude!

Standard

This follows The Whipping Girl.

Camilla trembled as her husband unbuttoned her dress. It was not because of his touch, but because of the anger she knew would follow as he stripped her, and as he saw the evidence of her strapping. She tensed, and her anticipation was answered as her garments fell away and he saw the fresh bruises on her bared bottom.

“What did that miserable brat do this time?” Abraham ground out. His fingers traced the marks on her backside with a tenderness that did not match the fury in his voice. Camilla still bore the prints of his teeth on her shoulders; they were not a pair afraid of violence, or the pleasure that could be found through pain and control and tears. These were not his bruises, though, and not given with his blessing. These made him feel powerless, and it was not a feeling he sat well with.

“I’m going to kill her,” he yelled, walking abruptly away, quickly reaching the other end of their one room cottage and pacing back again. She turned, looking at him wide-eyed from the puddle of fine skirts around her, imploring him to calm down, saying simply, “Abraham…”

She spoke timidly, counted on her submission to hook his protective instincts and quiet him. It usually did, but this time she saw lightning in his eyes. This time was different, and fear gripped her heart at the sight of him. He was a woodsman by trade, and stood there looking grizzled and strong, sweat from the day’s labor dried and salty on his brow. He turned and walked through the front door, grabbing his axe from its home leaning against the roughly hewn wood of the house. Camilla scrambled to pull up the heavy dress and give chase, struggling with the sleeves and finally running after him, dress open in the back as she grabbed his arm tightly.

“You can’t! You’ll be hanged! There’s nothing to be done, Abraham.” She could feel the beg in her voice, a desperation that usually she loved to feel for him, but now it was for the pain he might endure instead of her, and that hurt worse.

He turned, putting his free arm around her waist and pulling her to him. They stood for a moment, foreheads pressed together, her hands around his neck and her fears calming, until he pulled away and looked her squarely in the eyes. “Go. Get back in the house.”

“Abraham! No! You can’t-”

“Go. Go now.” There was no bend in his tone, no give in his expression. Tears leapt into her eyes. She spent so much of her time doing as she was told. She followed the orders of the princess. Of the king. Of every bloody noble in the kingdom. But to Abraham, she had promised her obedience freely. And so, throat closing with grief, she turned, and walked back into the house.

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