He left it until after we had eaten to call me to account; I had known there was something on his mind, and I was decidedly tense, inclined to jump when he spoke to me. I nearly spilled my drink twice. He does that, makes me nervous, even though. . . even though. He wasn’t chatty through the meal and well, neither was I. I was too busy trying to get a grip ahead of time on what he was going to accuse me of. That there was something, I had no doubt.
Still, he waited – he made me wait, increasingly apprehensive – until we had filled the dishwasher, washed the few things which won’t go in it, tidied up. He made me wait while he drank his coffee. While he watched the news. I was jittering with nerves, and he knew it. There was a rush of relief, enough almost to make me light-headed, when finally he turned off the television and reached over to switch on the standard lamp.
“Close the curtains and come here.”
I came to stand in front of him. He’s bigger than me; quite a lot bigger than me. And a deal older than me, and in our house, what he says goes.
“I think we need a little talk about what you were doing today.”
Something in his tone made me tremble. There’s nothing in that sentence, not really – but my stomach churned a little, my muscles tightened.
“I went out at six this morning. And when I had my breakfast, I laid the table for you. Cereal bowl, plate for toast. I left the butter dish and the marmalade on the table. And when I came in at lunchtime, there were only my plate and bowl in the dishwasher. Now I believe we have had more than one conversation on the subject of you eating properly, particularly to start the day, so would you like to explain to me why you didn’t eat any breakfast before you went out?”
His expression was no more than politely enquiring; nothing there to make me swallow before I answered him.
“Just as I came downstairs, the doorbell went: it was a courier with a case of wine for the people at number 12. They’d both gone to work so I said I would sign for it and take it in, and I did. And I was just about to shut the door again, and the Kennedy girl at number 8 came out to go to school, and that new puppy of theirs slipped out past her. So I went over to help her and her dad catch it, and it took us nearly ten minutes, so when I came back, I hadn’t time for breakfast.”
His eyebrows went up a little. I tried to stare him down but I’ve never managed that yet and I didn’t this time. I always think that if I could just keep my mouth shut I would come off better than I eventually do; I never manage it.
“You hadn’t time.”
“Nooo,” (that was rather close to a whine), “but I took something with me.”
“One of those cereal bars. And an apple. And a banana.”
“Hmmm.” The eyebrow subsided again, and I gave a little sigh. I’d won that one. I didn’t relax immediately, though; just as well.
“Well, then, explain to me why, when I came in this evening, your coat and shoes and bag were scattered up the hallway so that I fell over them.” Polite enquiry again.
“Yes, I know, I’m sorry about that but it really wasn’t my fault.”
“No? Do tell.”
“Well, you know it’s my college day today?” Silly, of course he did. Friday is my college day this term. “And I’ve got a 4 p.m. class. So I set off for it at a quarter to as usual: that gives me enough time to get from the library to the top floor and go to the loo on the way. The gents is on the top floor opposite where I’m going. Well, today when I got up there, they’d had a burst pipe and it was locked up, and the nearest alternative is three floors down. Didn’t matter, I thought, it’s only a 45 minute class and I didn’t actually need to go, it was just habit. Only the class overran because the electronic whiteboard crashed half way through, and it was five to five before I got out, and if I miss the bus at five there isn’t another one until a quarter to six. So I hadn’t time to go at college, and then there was a huge traffic jam on Kingsbridge, and by the time I got the front door open, I was desperate. Honestly, it was drop everything and sprint for the cloakroom because otherwise there was going to be a nasty accident. I did pick everything up and put it away; it was just bad luck that you came in first.”
He pursed his lips and thought about it; I held my breath. He almost always has his arms full when he comes in, so he hates, he really hates having the front door bounce back on him because I’ve left something on the floor behind it.
“I see. Yes. Now that reminds me: your college work. I told you: I came home for lunch. Before I went out again, I noticed your blue coursework folder on the desk. As I recall, your coursework was to be handed in today – and if the folder is here, then presumably it hasn’t been. And again, as I recall, the college has stated that there will be no extensions granted on the timetable for coursework without written application in advance. Which, to the best of my knowledge, you have not made, having, again to the best of my knowledge, no reason for requiring an extension.”
Damn but he was sharp! I hadn’t expected him to pick up that one. I didn’t know he even knew when my coursework was due. I goggled at him a bit in plain surprise. His tone hardened.
“Have you missed the submission date for your coursework, young man?”
“No!” I squeaked.
“Honestly. Our coursework ought to go to Derbhla O’Connor, and she was supposed to take them all in this week, and sort them for the examiner before she went on maternity leave. Only they’ve taken her into hospital because her blood pressure kept going up – she’s supposed to work another eight weeks, but apparently her doctor’s signed her off already. They had booked somebody else to cover for her, but she isn’t starting for another fortnight, and we all got an email from the college with a revised submission date. So I’ve got three more weeks. But the file’s complete, I can tidy it up a bit more, but all the work’s done. I could have handed it in today.” That last came in a tone of some smug self-righteousness, and got me a hard stare, but since it was true, I faced him down.
“I see. I wondered if you had merely forgotten it. I tried ringing your mobile, but it was turned off.”
“Yes,” I agreed, “it would be. We’re not supposed to have them turned on in class or in the library anyway, and the reception on the rest of the campus is just awful. I think it’s something to do with the building site next door, you know, where they’re putting up the multi-storey car park? The people with Virgin phones can take calls but nobody else can. I turn mine off on the way in and on when I come out, because otherwise it beeps at me every time somebody sends me a text, but I can’t read it. I turned it on when I got on the bus and I saw you’d called but I couldn’t get a good enough signal to call you back.”
He let it go. Well, he had to. I’m not allowed my mobile turned on at college and that’s all there is to it. He wasn’t finished, though. I had butterflies in my stomach and my nerves were getting the better of me.
“I notice that the gas bill and the phone bill and your credit card bill, which were all laid out on the desk for you to pay, are actually still there. The gas bill needs to have been paid by today and your credit card bill by tomorrow, and I was under the impression that you were going to post the cheques this week some time?”
My voice cracked a little. “So I was, but when they threatened the postal strike, I decided against it. I went into the bank on Tuesday and paid them all in my lunch hour. I left the bills out because I meant to talk to you about them: is there any reason why we shouldn’t set up direct debits for them? I got the forms while I was in the bank.”
He blinked a bit at that, and then rallied.
“Was there some particularly valid reason for the bathroom looking like a bomb site when I went upstairs? Towel on the floor, no top on the toothpaste, the cold tap dripping?”
I stared at him. No, that was just ridiculous. That was. . . “You know there was! I was on the phone! The phone rang just after I got out of the shower, while I was cleaning my teeth. You shouted up the stairs that it was Angela, and I went to pick up the extension in the bedroom, and I was still on the phone when you came up. I didn’t leave it that way, did I? I picked everything up and sorted it out as soon as I was dressed.”
He sighed and looked up at me, his mouth quirking with amusement.
“Help me a bit here, Aidan. I’ve offered you six perfectly sound and traditional Brat offences: unhealthy breakfasts, leaving your shoes in the hall, not doing your college work on time, turning your mobile off, not paying the bills and leaving the bathroom in a mess. Any one of those should be enough to earn you a spanking and here you are denying them all. Come on, then; if you don’t like my reasons, what have you got that’s any better? Eating chocolate without written permission? Reading the scary articles in New Scientist and then worrying about nanoscale automobiles? Staying up past ten o’clock without a note from your mother?”
I pretended to consider, trying not to laugh. “Displaying irritating self-righteousness? Winding up my Top by not having done anything I shouldn’t? Being basically perfect in every way?”
“I suppose,” he said, slowly, “there’s the very serious offence of being an irritating little tick. Yes, I really think you should be spanked for that. Hard. Very hard. Until you squirm.”
I shivered again. There’s something about the way he says that which makes my knees give. Makes my breath come faster and my heart pound. Not, you understand, that I’m telling him so.
“The only problem with that, Morgan, is that you’ve got to – catch me first!”
I know it’s a fairly big house, but it isn’t huge. I dodged him round the ground floor twice because the sitting room, dining room and kitchen open into each other as well as into the hall, and I’m smaller than him, nimbler, but he’s quick for a big man and he got me on the stairs.
“Oh yes,” he said into my ear, as he frog-marched me up to our bedroom. “And then there’s running away from me. That’s bad. That’s very bad. That’s unbelievably bad. I think it’s time I took your trousers down.”
Bastard. He knows what that does to me. God knows why it’s different, but it is – having my trousers taken down for me is not at all the same as having to take them down myself. If he takes them down, I can’t even manage coherent speech. Yes, of course I whinge and object and complain, and of course he ignores it, but frankly ignoring it makes sense because what I’m saying doesn’t. He didn’t hurry, just unfastened the button and then the zip while I wriggled and squirmed, my bum tucked in against his groin. Oh yes, he was enjoying this at least as much as I was. Then he pulled me far enough away for him to get a hand inside my jeans and ease them off my hips, very slowly. Much too slowly.
“You’re going over my knee and I’m going to keep you there until this bottom” (squeeze) “is so hot and red that you can’t even think about sitting down.” Oh God. Oh yes. Please. He dragged the stool out from under the dressing table and worked me between his feet, tipped me over his left thigh so that I got a fine view of the carpet, dragged my jeans a little further down and positioned me firmly the way he liked.
“Right, Sunshine.” There’s something about that phrase, too. Either it’s followed by ‘you’re nicked’ on some dreadfully dated cop show, or it presages a hot bottom. There’s nothing – ever! – positive about being called Sunshine. Well, unless it’s Morgan saying it.
Ah. The point of the dressing table stool was to give him access to the dressing table – and thereby to the hairbrush. The hairbrush makes me pant. Makes me yelp. Makes me wriggle. That hairbrush hasn’t ever touched anybody’s hair; it’s been applied to my behind often enough though. Never in anger, only ever as a treat. I squirmed; I love the idea of the brush, I love the effects it has afterwards but while Morgan’s cracking it across my arse I can’t help but squirm. Generally I get another half dozen for that.
And also underneath the dressing table are my slippers. I don’t like slippers, never wear them. No particular reason but if I’ve shoes on, I’ve got shoes on and if I haven’t I’ll go barefoot. I just don’t like slippers. Morgan does, though – he bought those ones for me. I can remember it clearly: we went to Colleymores to buy trainers for him and while we were there he inspected every pair of slippers out on the rack, and told me in a whisper what he intended doing with them. By the time he picked a pair – size 11, and I have size 8 feet, so I could be in absolutely no doubt about what they were for – and paid for them, I was sweating like an overworked racehorse and almost incoherent with lust and apprehension; I could hardly walk back to the car park and when we got home we barely made it upstairs: I tore the cardboard box to shreds trying to get that damn slipper into Morgan’s hand and me across his lap.
And he was alternating. Six with the hairbrush. Six with the slipper. Back to the hairbrush. I was wriggling, beginning to squeak, just little breathy phonations, when he steadied, and began instead to apply his palm. Not gently, either; crisp cracks of his hand on my abused backside. I loved it. Loved the heat, the sting, the pure sensation. The way it filled my head. When he reached for the hairbrush again and drew the bristles lightly across my skin, I made a faint muttering noise and relaxed against him, even though I knew what he was going to do – as soon as he felt me limp and helpless, he walloped another round on my scarlet behind, no harder than before, but after the caresses they made me buck and slide off his lap, out of his steadying grasp. That’s when he picks me up off the carpet and bounces me onto the bed. And after. . . well, you know, after? After, I’m all relaxed and floaty.
“What time have you to get up, Morgan?”
“Early. St George’s Market tomorrow for the vegetables and the fish. Jamie’s seeing to the meat. I’ll try not to wake you.”
I turned my face into his shoulder. “Breakfast in bed when you come home?”
He snorted a little. “Half past seven. But you’ve got to make me a cuppa now.”
“Deal. In a minute.”
I could feel him breathing under me; presently I felt his chest vibrate with amusement. “I ought to make you come to bed with me now. And get up with me too. That’s proper Top behaviour, you know: making you fit in with my times because we ought to do stuff together.”
“Not even for you will I get up at half four in the morning on a Saturday. And I want to watch the late film.”
“What is it?”
“House of 1000 Corpses. You would hate it.” He does. Morgan doesn’t like horror films; I love them. He likes enormously complex political thrillers: I can’t follow them.
“Hmm. Go on, then, Aidan. Make me a cup of tea before I decide that it’s my duty to stop you watching slasher flicks. Are you sleeping in here or in your own room?”
“My own, I expect. I’ll not be coming up until gone one and if you’re getting up at half four. . . Go on, then, and get ready for bed, it’s a quarter past nine, past your bedtime. I’ll put the kettle on. S’not natural, you know, putting your Top to bed at this sort of time.”
It’s not; really, it’s not. Still, it works for us.
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© , 2006