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“Just call Lisa.”

“NO. N. O. No.  She’ll murder me.”

“She’ll murder you more if you don’t call her.”

Jade rolled her eyes, “Fine, give me to Harper.”

The voice on the other end of the line gave a sharp laugh as she replied, “Yeah, hate to break it to you, but that’s a dead end.”

“Candace! Just give her the phone.”

“Fine,” came the reply, and Jade heard a shuffle as Candace handed the phone over to their friend. “Hellllooooo?” came Harper’s voice a second later.

“Dude, you have to come get me.”

“Yeah, sure.  Maybe Jessie will let me borrow her car.”

“Seriously?”

“No, you dummy, and I couldn’t sit for an hour long drive; have you lost your mind?  I can’t sneeze without permission right now.”

“But Lisa–”

“I heard.  You’re loud.  I’m with Candace on this one.  Just call her.”

“But she’ll–”

“Yep, probably.”

“Fuck.  Give me back to Candace.”

Jade lit a cigarette as she heard the phone being passed between the girls again.  “Hey.”

“Hey.”

“Listen, you have to call her.  She’ll be mad, but she’ll get over it.”

“I can’t!  I’m supposed to be at a job fair, not a freaking music festival.”

“Career fair, not job fair.  And yeah, your friends are terrible.”

“Yo, your friends are so shitty!” she heard Harper say in the background.

“It is what it is, though,” Candace continued.  “It’s redneck festival and your friends are douche bags.  You know we’d come get you if we could, but there’s no way.  You’re gonna have to suck it up and call her.  Everyone else we know is working or doesn’t like you enough to drive that far.”

“Jeez, thanks.”

“Besides, you’re right.  You shouldn’t be there.  I told you not to go.”

Jade scowled as she took another pull of her cigarette.  She hated when Candace got scoldy.  She got enough of that from Lisa, especially since she’d moved in, and Candace was like four years younger than her anyway.  Ugh.

“Fine.  Whatever.  Bye.”  She hung up the phone without waiting for response, then finished her cigarette as she watched people slowly make their way toward the exits.  Bands were still on the main stages, but things were winding down.  It was the last night anyway, and it was mostly local bands. She’d ridden there with some people from high school, kinda friends, she guessed, and they’d gotten separated a couple of hours ago, and then they wouldn’t answer their phones.  When they finally did, they were halfway home and stoned out of their minds.  Idiots.

She scrolled down to Lisa’s number, sighing as she put her cigarette out and stuffed it in the little black receptacle. At least she didn’t get in the car with those degenerates.  Maybe that would earn her some points.  Maybe.  Which would put her… yeah, still in the negative.  She thought about her options one more fruitless time: there were no buses, cabs were too expensive, and she’d called everyone she could think of.  Time to face the music, she thought, groaning at her own bad choice of phrasing.  Music.  Yeah.  Great.

An hour later, Jade clamored into the passenger seat of Lisa’s car.  The woman didn’t even glance at her, didn’t wait for her to finish buckling, before she put her foot back on the gas pedal and began the journey home.  Jade wasn’t sure what to do.  Should she talk?  Break the silence?  Apologize now?  She probably should go ahead and apologize, but she was also afraid of unleashing the lecture she knew was coming.  She realized her arms were crossed and she’d slouched down so her toes were poking the angled meeting place of the dashboard and the floor.  How did Miss Harley always make her feel like such a kid?! she thought, then corrected herself with a firmly thought Lisa. How does Lisa make me feel like such a kid?  The shift in names had come easily, once they had reconnected.  Jade had officially moved in just a month ago, so she could afford to take at least a few classes and cut back on her hours at the auto shop, though she’d been sleeping there and practically living there for much longer.  But every time Jade found herself on the receiving end of a look from her former teacher, she seemed to revert back to Miss Harley.

She uncrossed her arms, inhaled deeply, and decided to go for it. “I’m really sorry.”

After a moment of silence she glanced up through her lashes at the woman in the driver’s seat, but she hadn’t so much as loosened her white-knuckled grip on the steering wheel.  Maybe she didn’t hear me? Jade thought miserably.  But she knew that wasn’t the case.  She never in a million years thought she’d want Lisa to yell at her, but it would be better than the silence.  “Lisa…” she began again, tentatively.

“Not right now.”

Jade’s mouth snapped shut.  It was going to be a long drive home.

An hour later, the 27-year-old stood in her doorway, looking at least as pitiful as she felt, still waiting for Lisa to say something.  She looked left, watching her turn off the front porch light and check that the door was locked. Jade was not even trying to hide the desperate need for some sort of affirmation that it was going to be okay.  Lisa paused as she approached, needing to pass Jade’s door to go to her own room upstairs.  Her expression softened for the first time since she’d gotten the phone call, and she put a hand up to Jade’s worried face, gently cupping her cheek as she made eye contact.  “Honey.  It’s going to be okay.  I just…” and in the pause Jade filled in all the worst things she could think of– am so disappointed, feel unable to trust you, need you to pack your bags– “I’m really mad, honey.  I was already in bed, and I have to be up for work in five hours.  Let me get some sleep.  I’ll be more rational in the morning.  Okay?”

Jade gave a slight nod and a shadow of a smile. “Okay.”

Lisa leaned over and kissed the girl on the forehead.  “Get some sleep.”

“Yes  ma’am.  Goodnight, Miss Harley.”

And this finally got a smile from the older woman.  “Goodnight, honey.”

Jade shot up from a deep sleep the next morning, awoken abruptly by loud banging on her door and a yell through the thin wood, “Rise and shine, Natalie Jade!” The girl buried her face in her pillow and groaned.  What kind of new torture was this? Another round of banging.  “Breakfast in five!”

“Noooooo,” Jade groaned again, but quietly.  She was off today.  Totally off.  No school, no work, no time she had to be anywhere.  Didn’t Lisa understand… and then last night came crashing back, and she thought she heard footsteps heading back in the direction of her room, and she jumped up so fast that she made herself dizzy.  “Coming!” she called as she steadied herself, blinking her eyes rapidly and trying to wake up.  “I’m coming!”

A few minutes later she was seated at the kitchen island while Lisa set a bowl of cereal in front of her before fixing her own breakfast of yogurt and granola to go with her coffee.  Jade eyed the fully dressed woman warily as she took a bite, still unsure what to do with this apparently happy version of the same angry woman from last night.  A moment later, though, Lisa grabbed the magnetic notepad from the refrigerator and wrote several things down before tearing the top sheet off and setting it next to Jade. “Chores.  For you.  To be finished before I get home from school.”

Jade put her arms on the counter and dropped her head.  She resisted the urge to whine about how tired she was, instead lifting her head up to glance at the list.  Dusting, vacuuming, mopping… just a list of household chores.  Nothing fun, but nothing miserable.  If she really worked fast, she could be done in a couple hours, and she’d have time to lay down before–

“No sleeping.  If you finish, work ahead on school stuff.  Check your syllabuses.  Syllabi.  Whatever.  Check them.  They’ll have assignments for the weeks coming up.”

“Lisssaaaaaaa!” Jade couldn’t help it, but she didn’t get any sympathy.

“Nope.  No whining.  I’m going to have to get through my day smiling, and so are you.  And this is not the end of the conversation.  But we’ll talk more when I get home.  Behave yourself.”  And with a quick kiss planted on the back of Jade’s head, Lisa grabbed her teacher’s bag and walked out to her car.

Jade ignored the knots that formed in her stomach over what the rest of the conversation might look like.  She finished her cereal, picked up the list, and got to work.

Jade looked up from the book she was reading on the couch.  Trying to read, at least.  She’d finished the housework not long after noon, with a generous lunch break included.  She’s also taken a long shower afterwards, but she’d done everything on the list and then some.  The house was spotless.

Knowing that didn’t stop her from feeling nervous as she heard Lisa’s car door shut.  She had been thinking on and off about what tonight was going to look like, and she just couldn’t gauge how bad it was going to be.  She was going to get spanked- she knew that.  Apparently that was a line there was no uncrossing, or so she had learned since that first trip across her former teacher’s lap.

But she had chores all day, so that should help.  And surely having to get up with the sun would count for something.  Maybe she would just use her hand.  She hadn’t used the spoon since that first time, but she also hadn’t been as mad as she was last night.  She’d threatened her hairbrush more than once, but Jade was sure she was kidding about that.  Pretty sure.  Like, 95% sure.

Maybe 85%.

The front door opened, interrupting her contemplation.  She guessed she was about to find out one way or another.  “Hi, honey,” Lisa said as she walked into the living room, “the house looks fantastic.”  She turned, taking the in the room and what she could see of the hallways and kitchen, inhaling and then continuing “and it smells amazing.  So fresh and clean.  Thank you.”

Jade smiled at the praise, resisting the urge to point out that she didn’t exactly have a choice in the matter.  She still felt warm and happy, hearing the obvious pleasure in the other woman’s voice.  She’d sat up on the couch, and Lisa plopped down beside her, putting an arm over her shoulder.  Jade smiled and leaned into her, feeling warm and safe in a way that she hadn’t for most her life.  Guilt overcame her, though, as she thought about how she might have threatened that last night.  Lisa must have noticed the change in her posture, because she gave her a squeeze and said “do you want to talk about last night?”

Jade picked at a thread on her shirt as she mumbled, “yeah, I guess.”

“You start.”

“Miss Harleeeyyy….”

“Don’t Miss-Harley me.  You’ve had a full day to think about what you did wrong, even though I think you knew full well before you even did it.  So start talking.”

Despite her best intentions, Jade crossed her arms as her face became a stubborn mask.  She couldn’t help it.  She hated this, and no matter how guilty she felt, she couldn’t make herself speak.  Lisa nudged her.  She looked away.  They both knew what she did wrong and there was no point in talking about it, and nothing Lisa could do was going to change that.

“I’m sorry!  Lisa!  Lisa!  Just stop!  Stop for one minute!”  Jade kicked her legs and pounded her fists on the couch, but nothing slowed the spanking down.  She hadn’t even warned the girl- she’d taken one look at her hard-headed charge’s face and bodily hauled her up and over, sliding her thin sweats down and laying into her panty-clad backside without so much as a how-do-you-do.

“You’re ready to talk now, huh?” Lisa said from above her, still landing swat after swat on the hapless girl’s bottom.

“I aaammmmm!!!” Jade wailed dramatically.

“Well it’s a shame things don’t run on your schedule, isn’t it?  You had an opportunity and you passed it up.  Your next shot will be coming up momentarily.”

“That. is so. MEAN!” yelled Jade, but she might as well have saved her breath.  Lisa knew all about that stubborn feeling, and she wasn’t about to let Jade get away with it.  Not after last night.  So she kept spanking, steady, medium swats right across the fullest part of the young woman’s backside until her pretty brown skin had turned a vibrant shade of pink.  Only then did she slow her swats, though she didn’t stop them.

“Now, Miss Jade, let’s talk about yesterday.  Where were you supposed to be?”

“At the job fair!  Over at GU, I was supposed to be there at job fair.”

“Career fair,” Lisa corrected. “Where were you instead?”

“At that stupid music festival!  Which wasn’t even fun, for the record!”

Lisa couldn’t help but smile at Jade’s sassy answers, glad that the young woman couldn’t see her, though it didn’t stop her from putting a little more force behind her swats as she continued her line of questioning.  “And why is this… problematic?”

“Because I lied to you!  Because I skipped out on something I needed to do something I wanted!  And I went with people I couldn’t depend on!”

“Oh, I forgot about that.  Yes, those ‘friends’ of yours,” Lisa said, bringing her hand down hard at the crease of Jade’s thighs and backside.  “I don’t put limits on who you hang out with because you are a twenty seven year old woman, but I do expect you to use your common sense!”  She accented her words with particularly hard swats before resuming her slower swats on the girls bottom.

Jade screeched, throwing her hand back but immediately bringing it back in front of her, before Lisa could grab her wrist.  “You forgot!  That isn’t fair!”

Lisa stopped spanking as she asked in a flat voice, “Fair?  Would you like to talk about fair now?”

Jade backtracked immediately, practically yelling “No!  No ma’am!  I don’t!  It’s fair.  It’s plenty fair.  I’m the one who wasn’t fair.”  Lisa didn’t say anything, and she hadn’t started spanking again, so Jade scrambled for more words.  “I um, I wasn’t fair to you… because… because you had to get out of bed, and be tired all day, and drive an hour, and I can pay you back for gas by the way, and I’m sorry!  Did I mention I was sorry?  I’m really really sorry.”

Lisa smiled as she rested her hand lightly on the hot bottom in front of her, using her other hand to rub small circles on the younger woman’s back.  “I know, honey.  It’s okay.  I’m glad you called me.  You made a lot of bad choices yesterday, but calling me wasn’t one of them, even if I wasn’t exactly thrilled about it.”  She patted Jade’s backside and girl flinched, but it was just a pat before she continued.  “You’re going to make some decisions that I don’t like.  They aren’t all going to end with you in trouble, sweetheart.  But lying to me will always end just like this, except next time I’m going to send you for the hairbrush and maybe a bar of soap.”

Jade shuddered, not entirely sure which of those scared her more, then mumbled “yes ma’am.”  She quickly relaxed again, though, lulled by the hand on her back  and in her hair, and the comfort of the sun from the second story windows shining down, despite her throbbing backside.  Still dozy from yesterday and the lack of sleep, she started drifting off, mumbling as she did, “And here I thought I was going to spend today packing my bags.”

Lisa’s hand still immediately, and even in her drowsy state, Jade couldn’t miss the sudden clipped tone of her former teacher as she said “You thought what?”

Jade herself became very still, feeling a bit like a rabbit that has just spotted a coyote.  She wanted to take it back, but she wasn’t sure what she’d said wrong, so she answered tentatively “I thought… you know… I just thought you might want me gone…”

“Of all the half-cocked, insane…” and then words must have failed her because Lisa stopped talking and Jade was abruptly awake for the second time that day.  She had a half a second to prepare as she felt her body being pulled in tight against the woman and then Lisa’s hand was crashing down on Jade’s already thoroughly spanked backside with a ferocity that made Jade howl immediately.  This time she couldn’t control her hand, and as she’d feared, it was captured almost immediately, held by her side as she tried desperately to cover her backside.  How is she so strong?!

Jade’s legs kicked the couch and her free hand clutched a pillow, but Lisa ignored it all, concentrating on nothing but the stark outline of her hand appearing and re-appearing on the scorched backside in front of her.  If Jade had thought she was being spanked before, she knew better now.  That was nothing.  Noooothing.  She managed to eek out the occasional “please” and more than one “why” and several “I’m sorry!-s,” but for the most part she just yelled.  When Lisa started attacking the tops of her thighs, she lost it and burst into tears, something she hadn’t done since that first spanking.  At that, Lisa did pause, but only to jerk the girl’s underwear down to her knees, and then she kept right on spanking, apparently oblivious to Jade’s tears and unperturbed by the writhing hand she held captive.

When every bit of the young woman’s backside was a hot burning red, not to mention halfway down thighs, she stopped as abruptly as she’d started, yanking Jade’s underwear up before pulling the girl’s body up, too, ignoring the yelp that came from her mouth when her backside hit the couch cushion.  Lisa stood, still looking thoroughly unhappy, and began to pace in front of Jade, who sat on the couch wide-eyed and bewildered with tears streaming down her face and dripping off the tip of her nose, occasionally hiccuping but not daring to say a word.

Lisa turned and looked down, one hand on her hip as the other tipped Jade’s chin up, forcing them to look eye-to-eye.  “If you think, for one second, that I found you after all those years of wondering and worrying, just to lose you again… if you think that there is anything in this world you could do to make me disappear, then you have got some more thinking to do, little girl.  You’re home now.  Forever.  Whether you live here or not is your choice, but you will always have a place here.  Or wherever I am.  That should have been clear.  Apparently it wasn’t.  Is it clear now?”

Jade nodded tearfully, and was surprised to find herself smiling, too.

“Out loud.”

“It’s clear,” she answered shakily.

“Good,” Lisa replied, sitting on the couch again and throwing her arm back over Jade’s shoulders.  Jade burrowed into her, smiling as her former teacher let out an exasperated sigh.  She knew that sigh.  Lisa wasn’t mad any more.  And Jade was home.  It had a nice ring to it.

“Hey.  You get murdered yet?”

“Yep.  Most definitely.”

“Sucks to suck!” Jade heard Harper yell in the background.

“Ignore her,” Candace said. “She’s literally trying to figure out if she can sit long enough to play Mario Kart with me.”

Jade heard a scuffle as she assumed Candace attempted to fend off an attack from Harper, and then the youngest of the girls was on the phone. “Ignore her.”

“You have nothing but sympathy from me right now.  I’ll tease you when I can sit again.”

“But you’re okay?”

“Yeah,” Jade said, and even though the girls couldn’t see it, she smiled. “I’m okay.”

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