Danny pulled into the driveway of the small split-level home he shared with his girlfriend, Emma. Instead of shutting off the engine, though, he put the car into reverse and backed up slowly, until the rear of his car was almost in the road again. He put the car in park. He let his hands rest on the dash as he leaned forward. He stared at the blue Pontiac by which he had been briefly parked.
The back driver side bumper had a soccer ball sized dent in it now, one which certainly hadn’t been there this morning when he’d left for work. One which shouldn’t be there now, because a certain girlfriend of his was supposed to be grounded.
He slowly pulled back up, this time parking as usual and stepping out of his own car. He walked casually back around, surveying the damage closely. Cosmetic, he decided. That was good. His girl wasn’t hurt. He figured as much. He was certain he would have gotten a phone call. Danny felt his face harden as he slipped his hands into his pockets and circled the blue car, checking for any other damage. He should have gotten a phone call regardless.
Satisfied that he had gleaned all he could from the car, he grabbed his briefcase from the backseat of his own vehicle and headed toward the front door. He set his briefcase and keys on the kitchen table, and walked upstairs toward their bedroom, loosening his tie on the way. His steps into the room were slow and deliberate. He paused by the bed, turned, sat, and waited.
It took almost four minutes of silence before he heard a soft voice from underneath the bed. “Are you mad at me?”
He wondered briefly how long she’d been there this time, feeling guilty as she listened for the jangle of his keys in the door. Not too long, he hoped. She hated to feel like he was upset with her. Especially when she deserved it. “I’m not mad at you, sweetheart. But you better believe that I’m not happy. Come out here and talk to me.”
“I can’t!” she said emphatically, and he heard her scoot farther back, away from the edge of the bed. His mouth became a hard straight line, and he decided immediately that he would not be as patient with her nervousness as he usually was. “One,” he said sternly, and he both heard and felt her scramble beneath him.
“Two,” he said, unaffected by her pitiful cry. He watched as her hands appeared, flung outward to lay flat on floor as she pulled herself out from under the bed, sliding ungracefully across the wood. “Three,” he said as she began to stand, and suddenly she was being hauled across his lap as she yelled “Danny wait!” He kept her flailing hands at bay with his right hand as he began to spank her with his left, putting plenty of force behind it as swats landed one after another on her dark blue jean shorts. “Danny, please!”
He stopped as abruptly as he’d started, pulling her up and sliding her over to stand directly in front of him. Her hands went immediately to her backside, but he raised his eyebrows at her and she jerked them forward again as if her hot bottom had burned her fingertips. She let her hands linger at her sides, clearly desperate to rub the sting away but smart enough not to. She shifted her weight from foot to foot as she waited for him to speak. He looked so serene that it was almost out of place, even in his professional clothing: his tie loose, his shirt collar unbuttoned, his posture relaxed as he leaned forward and rested his hands on his thighs.
Emma’s eyes welled with tears that she rapidly and unsuccessfully tried to blink away. “I can’t,” she finally whispered.
Danny’s face looked briefly surprised, but his next words felt almost like a dare. “You can’t?”
“I don’t… there isn’t a good explanation.”
“Explain it anyway.”
She rung her hands and looked at him pleadingly, but she received only his cool gaze looking back at her. She could practically see the clock counting down behind his brown eyes. He wouldn’t wait forever, and her bottom already hurt from the brief but harsh spanking a moment ago. Finally she managed, “I had to return some books to the library.”
It hadn’t been enough. His arm snaked out to grab hers and once again she found herself upended, his hard hand landing on her already aching bottom. She shrieked as he spanked her, but he was immune to her cries. When he finished this time, she was breathing heavily, and he didn’t let her up. Instead he rested his dominant hand on her throbbing bottom and his right hand casually across her back, fingers dangling alongside her waist. “You seem to be having a lot of trouble recalling some of the details of your afternoon, Emma Grace, so I am going to help you get through this explanation. But it is going to cost you.”
He reached beneath her, fumbling at the button of her jeans for just a moment before freeing it, and then her, of their trappings. She shifted her body and helped as best she could, though she dreaded the loss of the thick denim. She tried not to protest as her underwear followed, but a small moan of embarrassment escaped her. Danny returned his arms to their previous spots; he let his left hand glide gently across her hot bottom now, a tender gesture that happened absentmindedly when he held her in this position.
“Are you supposed to leave the house today?”
“No sir,” she replied miserably.
“Because I’m grounded.”
She shut her eyes at this question. She hated being grounded, hated having to talk about it, and especially hated having to go over it again after the lecture she had already received. She knew better than to push her luck, though, and despite the redoubled throb of her bottom, Danny had been right– she found it easier to speak in this position. “I’m grounded because I volunteered to take extra shifts at work when I already had a busy week scheduled and because I haven’t been getting enough sleep as it is.”
He nodded thoughtfully above her head, though she couldn’t see it. “So there is no confusion about how today should have gone, Emma?” She sighed miserably. “No sir. I just didn’t think. I had some books that were due and I just jumped in the car. I realized it before I even buckled my seat belt. But then…”
Danny could hear the shame of her decision to disobey him pouring out of her, and he knew that tears were making their ways down her pretty cheeks, even if he couldn’t see them. He gave her bottom an unsympathetic squeeze. “Keep going.”
“It’s just a few minutes away…” she began, and he felt the slight offer of an excuse. His hand on her bottom stilled, and then lifted. She tensed and yelled “it wasn’t a good reason it wasn’t a good reason it wasn’t–” and then the spanking had resumed, and his hand was bouncing, thudding rapidly, delivering hard swats that propelled her small body forward upon every impact. He didn’t scold her. He didn’t need to. His hand did all the talking, at least until he stopped spanking and moved her legs, letting her body slide down so she was kneeling between his knees. She let her hands dance around her swollen backside but didn’t touch it this time. She kept herself from resting on the heels of her feet; her thighs hurt with the exertion after only a minute, but it was better than letting her bottom come in contact with anything right this moment.
Danny took her chin, brushing some wayward tears away with his thumb. “In a few minutes, you are going to walk over there and get the hairbrush from your dresser drawer.” He let that sink in for a moment, watching her eyes squeeze shut and reopen. “First, I want to know about the dent.” She took a shuddering breath and looked up at him, eyes round and fearful and innocent.
“It happened while I was in the library. It was only for a few minutes, but a man was walking to the car beside mine when I got there. I think he hit it. It was a blue truck. I don’t remember the model. They have security cameras and the police are going to be in touch later. I left my contact information.”
For the first time since he’d gotten home, Dan smiled. And even with her sore fanny, her wet cheeks, and the promise of more to come, his smile made Emma smile. “Good girl,” he said. “Very good. Those are all the right steps.” He leaned down to kiss her forehead, and she wrapped her arms around his waist. She used to balk when he praised her for doing normal adult things on her own– “Everyone has to deal with this stuff, Danny. You don’t get a reward for being a grown-up. You just do it.” — but after a particularly harrowing afternoon at the DMV of all places, he’d finally gotten her to see that he wasn’t being condescending. He pointed to several people they’d watched struggle through the tedium of license renewals and car registrations and tax forms. “Look, sweetheart… she deserves a cheerleader. So does he. So does that guy. So does that woman running customer service.” She’d leaned against him, listening to his quiet voice amid the crowd. “We all have to do it, yes, but it’s a daily miracle that we get through it. So let me be proud of you. Okay?”
Now, he leaned back, untangled her arms, and raised his eyebrows expectantly. She closed her eyes for a brief second, then stood, stepping out of her underwear and walking past the shorts she had long since kicked off, to grab the wooden hairbrush from its spot in her dresser. She brought it back quickly, eyes downcast, and held it to out Danny. He let her stand there for a minute as he unbuttoned the cuff of his sleeve, rolling it up slowly. Then he took the brush with his left hand and took her wrist with his right, pulling her across one knee, letting her torso rest on the bed while her legs draped around his thigh. She immediately grabbed the comforter, thinking briefly that it was more aptly name that most people realized. She felt his arms encircle her waist and then a blaze of pain erupted on her right sit-spot. Emma screamed, but the next swat was just as hard and in the exact same spot. Next came two on her left sit-spot. Repeat. Repeat again. At the twelfth spank, she heard him toss the brush on the bed, and finally she was pulled up into his arms.
The rest of the evening passed with forehead kisses, back rubs, and the occasional squeak whenever Emma’s backside happened to make contact with anything. She felt better, though. Better than she had since the moment she’d heard the click of her seat belt, better than the entire short-lived disaster of an errand, better than the time she’d spent worried and nervous under the bed. Everything was okay now, and though she would never say it aloud, a sore bottom seemed a small price to pay for this sort of happiness.