I’ll go so far as to admit that I was in the wrong. Does that help? I was also in the field, lying on my back in the oil seed rape, sneezing, and wondering how I had got away with it. Then I began to wonder what Ross was going to say, and the whole question of ‘getting away with it’ took on a new complexion.
I could foretell fairly accurately what Ross was going to say, and not say, and what Ross was going to do. Look, I’m not good with non-verbal communication; I don’t read people well. Frankly I like books better than people; I find them easier to understand. I didn’t even notice that Ross was interested in me – I didn’t even realise that Ross was gay – until Callum told me. Callum is good with people. I sometimes think that Callum and I are the Mixed Double that could function properly; I don’t mean that we would be a good couple – God, no, a Callum/Jerry pairing would need HazChem stickers and probably a CoSHH assessment and an inspection from the Health and Safety Executive – but I’ve got all the brains and he has all the empathy. James reckons that intellectually Callum is barely fit to go out without a keeper, but everybody knows that when your relationship gets rocky, Callum is the one who can explain to each of you what the other is feeling. I can’t do that: I rarely have any idea what’s going on in someone else’s head. But even I had learned in the last year to read Ross well enough to know that he would think that running the bike down the bank and into a field was really stupid, and Ross had decided that when I did something really stupid, or tried his patience too far, I could pay for it over his knee.
It was my first big bike; I had never been on a motorbike before Ross took me, but I liked it, and I said I wanted to learn. I rather hoped that Ross would teach me, mostly because when he wears his leathers I get goose-bumps all over, but he refused. “I can’t teach,” he said. “I tried to teach my sister, and eventually she got off the bike five miles from home and walked all the way, and boxed my ears when I followed her, and then my dad shouted at me for leaving her and paid for her to have lessons because he said that he couldn’t stand the family rift. And I tried to teach a friend at college, and he said I confused him so much that he almost gave up bikes altogether. So you go and see the people at RoadSafe and pay them to teach you. I’ll help you choose a bike, but I won’t teach you.”
We chose a baby bike suitable for a beginner, and bought a second hand one from a guy called John, who promised to buy it back when I was ready to trade up to a real bike, and I had by this time had the new big bike for a month. I loved it. My mother was, as foretold, having a blue fit at the very idea of her darling boy playing with the nasty motorcycles, and blaming Ross for it, although otherwise she thought Ross was absolutely perfect. What she would have said if she had known that he tanned my backside I can’t think, although given that she has never fully accepted that I grew past my early teens, she would probably have put it down as a good idea. (She thinks Ross is grown up – it’s just me who isn’t - but Ross says his mum still writes to remind him to see the dentist, so it may just be a motherhood thing.)
There had been a couple of discussions – no, not like that! Just words! – on the subject of me speeding. I hadn’t got over the urge to open up and let rip on the straights, this being something that Ross is generally against. There were discussions about the speed traps out past Harverley, about the desirability of observing the speed limits and staying within the law, about the fact that I wasn’t yet sufficiently experienced to take risks, and finally about the certainty of a well smacked bottom if Ross caught me doing it again. That steadied me for a bit. Ross spanks awfully hard even just by hand, and about three months into our relationship he had taken me into Boots to buy a hairbrush. I’m never going in there again, because I’ll swear the girl at the counter smirked at me: she worked it out. Two men and a ladies’ wooden hairbrush? She knew. I haven’t been into Boots since Christmas, although Ross says he doesn’t think she works there any more. I’m not taking chances.
That all makes it sound as if I can’t call my life my own, but really it isn’t like that. We’re blissfully happy together, O.K.? And Ross keeps me in line, but he doesn’t boss me about or bully me. Much.
O.K. I was in the field. The field was not good. Bikes don’t belong in fields. I hadn’t made the corner: I had got up close and then there was mud on the road, and the bike just slid across the verge (thank God there was no fence), down the bank and into the ditch, and then it stopped with its nose down and flipped me over onto my back in the oil seed rape. I was completely winded, and I just lay there and whooped for breath for a few minutes, which was a mistake, because even if you aren’t subject to hay fever, oil seed rape will make you sneeze, so then I did that, and it hurt.
First thought: don’t tell Ross. Get the bike out of the ditch and back up onto the road.
Second thought, some ten minutes later: I’m going to do myself a mischief if I keep heaving at this bike, and I’m no nearer getting it out of the ditch. I had been wondering about going round by the gate, even though it was about half a mile away, rather than trying to push the bike up the bank, but it was irrelevant: I couldn’t get the bloody thing out of the ditch.
Third thought: it isn’t going to be possible to keep this from Ross. And he is going to be. . .
There was no point worrying about that. I couldn’t get the bike out on my own, so I would have to call Ross, and if it cost me, well, it did. My mobile was in my pocket, and Ross ought to be home from work. The phone rang for ages – I didn’t really understand that, because if he were home he should answer it, and if he weren’t home the machine should be on. But eventually, he did pick it up.
“Ross? Um. . . I’ve had an accident. I need a bit of help.”
“Are you hurt?”
“No, but I’ve put the bike in the ditch at Coopers Corner, and I can’t get it out. I don’t think there’s any damage done, but it’s stuck in the mud and I’m not strong enough to pull it out.”
“I’ll be there in ten minutes. Are you sure you aren’t hurt?”
“I’m fine, I’m just pissed off.”
“I’m coming. Wait.”
Actually, nearer twenty minutes than ten. He stopped his own bike on the verge, glanced at the ripped track of grass and mud down the bank, and ran down to join me.
“Are you sure you aren’t hurt?”
I was a bit surprised, not by the question, but by the vowels. Ross has lived over here for years now, and although he still has a noticeable accent, it’s much looser than, say, his sister’s. If you ask him where he’s from, he says ‘New Zealand’, whereas she says ‘NyuZillund’. Of course, it varies; when he’s tired, or stressed, or if he’s been drinking, his accent is much more obvious. That question was pure Antipodes.
“I’m fine, but I’m stuck, look. . .”
“How did you land when you came off?”
“I just flopped over onto my back. And then the front wheel. . .”
“Did you bang your head?”
“Only a little, not badly, and I can’t get the bike. . .”
“WILL YOU SHUT UP ABOUT THE FUCKING BIKE!”
Well, that got my attention. Ross doesn’t swear: he says that because he’s dealing all day with the public, he can’t afford to have the habit of a blue mouth. My own mouth dropped open.
“I’m sorry, Jerry, but leave the bike for the moment. What about you? Did you hit your head?”
“No, all I did was wrench my neck on my helmet. It isn’t bad. Honestly, I fell all of three feet, very slowly. I was winded, that’s all.”
“Take your jacket off and show me.”
He spent several minutes prodding at my back and neck, and when I tried to raise the matter of the bike again, I got a wallop on the arse. Well, obviously I didn’t feel it through the leathers, but I thought it best to shut up. I was already developing a sensitivity in my rear. Like. . . you know if you break a fingernail off very short, nothing actually hurts, but the fingertip feels everything very intensely for a day or two. I could feel my bum; specifically I could feel that it didn’t hurt. Yet.
Eventually, Ross satisfied himself that I wasn’t lying to him about having hurt myself (like I would dare!), and went back up the bank to the road. I followed him, not quite understanding.
“So what happened?”
“I don’t really know. I turned for the corner and the bike didn’t. It’s muddy, and I suppose that did the damage.”
He walked back along the road to the muddy patch; I had left a conspicuous skid mark to add verisimilitude to my otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. I got a hard stare, and then he came back, pacing the distance from the mud to the corner.
“You were speeding.”
“Honestly, I wasn’t! It’s a sixty limit all the way to the level crossing, and I wasn’t doing more than forty-five.”
“I don’t mean legally, I mean sensibly. Speeding is going too fast for the conditions, and forty-five on a wet and muddy country road with a double S-bend is speeding.”
Well, when he put it like that. . .
We went back down the bank, and between us managed to wrestle the bike out of the ditch, and push it carefully round the edge of the field, out through the gate, and back to the road. Then, rather to my surprise, Ross laid down the law.
“I shall go to Harpers and tell them you’re coming. You will push the bike there. It isn’t more than a mile. You will not get on that bike again until it has been checked over. If I think you have ridden the bike there, I will kill you with my bare hands. In fact, give me your helmet. I’ll wait for you at Harpers.”
My face was flaming with a mixture of humiliation and rage. I didn’t argue the need to have the bike looked at: after an accident, that’s only sensible, and if he hadn’t suggested it, I would have done. But he was taking my helmet to ensure that I couldn’t ride it. “You don’t trust me to walk!”
“Like I could trust you to be sensible about speed?”
My gaze fell. I didn’t want to have this conversation. I had been speeding – in fact what I had said about forty-five had been conservative – and I had known it even before I lost control. Like I said, I was in the wrong, and I knew it, and there’s nothing like a guilty conscience to make me defensive and argumentative. Ross nodded. “And Jerry? When I get you home, I’m going to spank you so hard that you will never do this to me again.”
Oh, great. Just what you need to hear before a long walk in stiff leathers pushing a heavy motorcycle. It felt like it took hours, and by the time I got to Harpers Motorcycles, the sweat was pouring off me. Ross came to meet me in the forecourt, and Josh, the owner, came out of the office.
“Ross tells me you came unstuck at Coopers. You’re not the first, either, that’s a bad corner in the wet. Bring the bike in here, and I’ll have a look. Do you two want to go through to the office? Get Sharon to give you a drink. I’ll be about half an hour.”
We went inside, and Sharon offered us coffee, and Ross laid down the law again. “Sharon, what have you got in the way of helmets? Jerry will need a new one.”
“I don’t, Ross, honestly. I didn’t hit my head, I just bumped it down in the mud. There’s nothing wrong with my helmet.”
“Accident, new helmet. Always. Not negotiable. Not for you, not for me, not for anybody else.”
Sharon butted in. “That’s good advice. We always recommend a new helmet after an accident. There’s a rack of them over there, if you want to choose something. . .”
“I really don’t need a new helmet!”
Ross’s hand closed on my arm, a little more tightly than was comfortable. “Excuse us, just for a moment, Sharon.” He propelled me outside; I had been forgetting just how strong he is.
He let go of me, and pinched the bridge of his nose; he looked strained and tired. He didn’t look at me, he just spoke, quite quietly. “Please don’t argue with me, Jerry. You’ve had an accident so you need a new helmet. Even quite a small bump or a scrape can do damage. Is it really worth arguing about?”
“But Ross, I don’t see why. . .”
“Because if you don’t do as you’re bloody told, you can have the first part of your spanking right now, in there, in front of Sharon!”
I glared back at him. “You wouldn’t dare!”
He raised his eyebrows. He would dare. I went back inside and chose a helmet. I didn’t know what was wrong with Ross; I had never seen him this way before. He seemed to be holding on to his patience only with an extreme effort, and his usual good humour was shot to pieces. Look, as soon as I decided that I had to ring him, I had known that there was a spanking lined up for me, but I had expected a bit more in the way of sympathy. Well, perhaps not sympathy – that’s not the right word – but understanding. Ross isn’t perfect himself, and he doesn’t claim to be, so generally if I’m in trouble, he at least understands how I got there. This time he was as angry and unpleasant as I had ever seen him, and I didn’t like it, or even him, much. I sulked. Ross sat down to wait, and I walked across to the window and stood with my back to him, watching the people pass along the footpath.
And the god of motorcycles and stupid physicists sent a vision. Sort of. He sent a toddler and his mother along the pavement, and the toddler pulled his hand free and ran into the road. Been there, done that. I can still remember the wallop that my mother gave me for doing it when I was about three. I heard the squeal of brakes, and the shriek of the woman, who snatched her son back from under the wheels of the artic, and I saw her give him a slap and then grab him up to her chest and bury her face in his hair. It couldn’t have been any more obvious if there had been surtitles: Ross Loves You And You Scared Him Half To Death.
I looked over my shoulder. Ross had his head tipped back against the wall, and his eyes shut, so I went and sat down beside him. “I’m sorry,” I said quietly. “I didn’t mean to scare you. Honestly, there’s no real harm done, and I’m not hurt.” And I put my hand down on top of his.
That probably doesn’t seem a big deal to you, but it is to me, for several reasons. One is that Ross is much more out than I am, and the other is that Ross is much more tactile than I am. I’m not a great toucher of people. Ross is happy to hold my hand in public, but I get hot and bothered about it, so he doesn’t usually do it. He knows I don’t really like it: yes, I’m inhibited. He turned his hand over under mine, and squeezed it, and let go, and said, without opening his eyes, “The reason it took me so long to get to you was that when I put the phone down, I was so frightened that I threw up. I know it’s silly – you were fit to phone and you had said that you weren’t hurt, but I kept picturing you dead in the ditch.”
My heart turned over. I wound my fingers into his, and leaned over until our shoulders touched, and I didn’t care who saw. “Nothing like that. I’m here.” He turned his head, and opened his eyes, and I leaned closer again and kissed him. “Proof.”
Do you know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ross taken aback before? I turned away again, blushing, and caught Sharon’s eye, and glared at her, mostly from embarrassment, and she smiled at me, obviously not in the least perturbed, (or probably even interested – it’s vanity to assume that ones affairs are of earth-shattering fascination to other people) and went back to her invoices or whatever she was doing. I looked back at Ross, who was blushing nearly as hotly as I was. Actually, now I had a proper look, he simply looked much too hot. “Ross? Take your jacket off, you’re going to overheat.”
He shook his head, and before I could press him, Josh came in. “You’ve got away with it. Your paintwork isn’t what it was, so you’ll want a couple of scratch kits, but there’s no real damage. It’s fit to ride. Have you changed your helmet?”
“Yes, I give in, I’ll have a new helmet. What do I owe you?” Time to go home. Kiss and make up time; I had a lot to make up to Ross. And I had no particular hope of avoiding my punishment, either; I had earned it and it wouldn’t improve with keeping.
We went home, and Ross opened the garage for us to put the bikes away. Rather to my surprise, he turned on the light, and he pulled the big door shut behind us. I had thought we would go out that way and into the house through the front door, but he obviously intended to go up the side of the house and in through the kitchen. Or so I thought; what he intended was quite different.
“Take your leathers off.”
“Which of the words did you not understand? I want you to connect this spanking with your bike, Jerry, so we’ll do it here and now. Leathers off.”
I started, slowly, to strip off the leathers. Ross came across, and, rather to my surprise, settled himself astride my bike which was upright on its stand. He ran a hand down the body of it, and snatched it away again: obviously it was hot. He slid well back, as if riding pillion. “Give me your jacket.” He draped the jacket protectively over the hot metal in front of him, and looked up at me. I was standing there, feeling a complete twit, in T shirt and pants and socks, and I suddenly realised that he was holding one of his gloves. I have the new FlexiGloves, which are made of Kevlar or something, but they bring Ross up in a rash, so he has old-fashioned leather gauntlets. They’re much bigger than modern gloves, with a huge flared cuff that covers half the forearm, and as I watched, Ross reversed the glove in his hand. “Here.” I went to him, obediently, and he peeled my briefs down my legs, and pulled me across my jacket on the bike. I could feel well tanned hide under me, and I reckoned it wouldn’t be long before I would feel the same above. “Get right forward. I want your backside as high as it will go.” I wriggled. Well, there wasn’t any other way to get positioned as he wanted – as soon as my head went down, my feet were off the floor, so the only way to move was to wriggle. Very undignified. “I suggest that you keep quiet. I don’t know how soundproof this garage is, and while we might explain away the smacks as DIY, we can’t do it if you yell. I told you that if I caught you speeding again I would tan you thoroughly, didn’t I?”
WHACK! It wasn’t true that the only way to move was by wriggling. There was also the convulsive vertical buck that is induced by the eight inch square cuff of a stiff leather gauntlet being applied with force to a bare bottom. I think I actually left the body of the bike for a moment, and then Ross pinned me down and brought the glove down again. I’ve never felt a paddle, but I imagine it must be something like that – the cuff was stiff enough to crack across my behind with a truly horrible noise, and flexible enough to carry a gasp-inducing sting. I knew I had asked for it, and I tried to keep still and take it, but I think I managed four before I started to squirm. Not that it did me any good: Ross just leaned his weight onto my back and brought that damned glove down again. I got as far as eight before my gasps turned into strangled yelps. I was trying to be quiet, honestly. I didn’t want the whole street to know that I was getting a spanking, however richly deserved. My body was complaining about sensory overload: I could see Ross’s leather clad leg braced on the floor, I could hear and feel that glove, which I would never be able to look at again without wincing, slamming on my tormented rear, I could smell leather and hot metal and I could taste the skin of my own wrist, which I had shoved into my mouth as a gag. I hooked my left arm under Ross’s knee to keep myself still, and he must have understood, because I felt him throw his right calf over the backs of my legs. But he didn’t stop. I had been sweating – well, you do in leathers, and when you’re scared of what your lover is going to do to your behind – and damp skin is not a plus when you’re being spanked.
I think he gave me about thirty, and I was squalling mutedly into my wrist and promising never to ride the bike at more than walking pace, or without a man in front of me on foot with a red flag, or something equally intelligent. Not that it would have mattered: I reckoned it would be the best part of a week before I could sit on the thing again. I gasped when he stopped, whooped for air, light-headed with pain and inversion. He took his hand off my back and I struggled upright. The world swung around me for a moment as the blood stopped rushing to my head.
“That,” he said severely, “was for speeding. And believe me, it was nothing compared with what I’ll give you for a second offence. Understand me?”
I think I’ve said before that Ross expresses himself with admirable clarity. There was nothing there to misunderstand. I told him so. He dropped the glove at my feet. “Good. Now we’ll deal with the fright you gave me. What are you due for that?”
Hanging and quartering, from the guilt I felt. I looked down. “I’ll take whatever you think I deserve. Whatever makes it right for you. Makes you feel better.”
He pulled me back down, and applied his palm hard to my welted rear. Again. And again. And again. I abandoned whatever dignity I thought I had, I abandoned any fear of what the neighbours would think, and I howled. This was personal, and he let me know it. This was specifically for Jerry’s sins against his partner, not for some potential and theoretical injury to the outside world. This was between him and me and I squirmed and wriggled, not to escape, but because I couldn’t help it, and I yelped because I had hurt him, and now he was hurting me, and I couldn’t say I hadn’t deserved it. I don’t know how many he gave me, but when he stopped I could feel my heartbeat reverberating in my chest, and my pulse throbbing a fraction of a second behind in my backside. This time I couldn’t get up unaided: he had to wrap an arm under my chest and heave me up, and even then my legs trembled. He stood up, off the bike, and pulled me into his arms, and I buried my head on his shoulder and snivelled into the leather of his jacket, while he drifted tender fingers over my equally tender backside. I didn’t say I was sorry: he knew that. When I was fit, which wasn’t by any means immediately, he helped me dress, and we went indoors. I went upstairs at once: I wanted those leathers off, and something much, much softer over my bruised bottom. I examined it in the mirror: red and purple and swollen and very, very sore. I could see ridges from the edge of the glove, and several handprints too, and I’d got blisters.
Ross came up, holding a glass of water, which he put down beside the bed. He still looked far too hot. He picked up a towel and took it back to the bathroom, catching my eye as he returned. “I was in the shower when you called,” he explained. “That’s why it took me so long to come to the phone.”
I suddenly made all the connections. His refusal to remove his jacket at Harpers. His use of my jacket, not his, over the bike. The sheen of sweat still obvious down his throat. “Ross, what are you wearing under your leathers?”
He grinned at me. “Come and find out,” he invited. So I did. I unzipped the jacket very slowly, and slipped my hands inside onto bare skin, and stroked down to his waist and up to his shoulders, before peeling the whole thing off. Actually, Ross is extremely delectable in his leathers, and it’s not just me who thinks so – he gets catcalled at by girls – but Ross in just the lower half of his leathers with his chest bare is positively irresistible. There is nothing like a half-naked Ross to distract me from pain in my bottom. I pushed him down onto the bed and set about kissing all of the skin I could get at. He tasted warm and salty, and he made little ‘mmmm’ noises when I found a particularly sensitive place. Presently I found a press stud, and undid it, and a zip, and undid that, and slipped a hand inside, and shot upright with a squeak of horrified amusement. “What, really nothing?”
“Not a stitch,” he confirmed, laughing at me. “I just wanted to get out of the house and after you. I wasn’t even dry. Commando on the bike. I’ve never done that before. And frankly I’m not doing it again, I don’t think it’s a good idea. My blisters aren’t as impressive as yours but I’ve got them.”
He had, too, where the seams had rubbed his skin. We had to have a brief session with antiseptic cream and cotton wool, but everybody knows that the best thing for blisters is a lover to kiss them better. Wherever they are. And however long it takes. And whatever effect it has on the unblistered bits. And then, of course, that has to be dealt with too. And even with a blistered bum, that’s fun.
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