“Mr Parry, Kit Hamilton is here for you.” A pause, and then to me, “Would you like to go through?”
I smiled at her, and moved into the big panelled office.
“Kit! How long has it. . . Oh!”
“Good afternoon, Mr Parry. You were expecting my father.”
He gaped at me for a moment, and then broke into laughter. “I was indeed. But you must be Kit Hamilton too, I presume.”
“I’m afraid so.”
“Fair enough. This is my son Owen.”
We smiled and nodded at each other. Owen Parry was about twenty-four, and very good looking, solid and compact with glossy dark hair and enormous eyes. I wouldn’t, I thought briefly and vulgarly, mind some of that.
“Dad took early retirement last year. I’m in charge now. He asked to be remembered to you.”
“How is the old wolf?”
“Very well. He’s writing his book at last. It’s only taken him thirty years to get to it.”
“Look, Kit, sit down, and let’s have some coffee, and I’ll fill you in on the details of what we want you to do. I presume we can ask for what we were going to ask your father?”
“It’s my business now. I’ve got my own contacts, but I’ve got access to his too, and I can call him if I come unstuck.”
“Right. Well, the bit you know is the house. The house belonged to a man called Prosser. It’s Georgian and in very good condition. Prosser never married, and both his brothers were killed in the war. When he died, it took us three months to trace the heir, who’s an American. He isn’t interested in the estate, and he wants the house and contents sold, and he retained us to make it happen. We were the old man’s executors. We’ve got a buyer for the house, and he says he’s interested in some of the contents, but the trouble is, we don’t know what’s there. So we want a full inventory, a valuation and a suggestion of what’s saleable and how and where we would sell it. Your father did a similar job for us once before, which is why we asked you to quote.”
“Yes. I didn’t realise that, or when I wrote back I would have made it plain that I wasn’t him. I only found out when I spoke to him yesterday. But I understand what you want. I expect that the groundwork, the inspection, will take a fortnight. Maybe a little more or less. I’ll be able to give you a better idea when I’ve seen the place. Then the inventory can be yours almost at once, if you want it to send to America, but the valuation will take longer. It’s a big job, I’m afraid, and I suspect you should think in terms of three months at least to completion. I’ll take photographs of a lot of the stuff, and I’ll have to refer to other experts. My field is silver, and although I can tell what sort of condition furniture is in, and how and where to sell it, I’ll need a second opinion on precise values. But as I said, I have the contacts.”
“I don’t think three months is unreasonable. The only thing is, while I would be quite happy to give you the keys and leave you to get on with it, the heir has grasped that some of the items in the house are valuable, and he wants a witness with you.”
“That’s not a problem: I usually have some family member with me when I do a valuation. Your American doesn’t know me or my reputation. Are you nominating someone?”
“I’m glad you see it that way. I was planning for Owen to go with you. Basically he can keep the keys and fetch and carry for you, write the lists and so on. You can have access to our typing pool too if that would help.”
“Thanks, Mr Parry. I doubt if I’ll need it, because I’d rather do my own, but I’ll bear it in mind. And I’ll be pleased to have Owen to help, if he doesn’t mind.”
Owen spoke for the first time. “I don’t mind. Just remember that I can’t tell an antique from an anchor, so you’ll need to spell everything out. We wondered if you would want to go an have a look this afternoon, just for an hour or so. It’s too late to start anything serious, but you might get a better idea of what there is to do. And I’ve booked you a room at the Diamond, across the road, for the fortnight you said, and this far out of season there won’t be a problem if it takes longer.”
“Thank you. Perhaps I should check in first, and then we could go and have a look at the house? Does that suit? Then let’s do that.”
The next fortnight’s work was suddenly a lot more interesting. I hadn’t really been looking forward to a fortnight as a glorified office boy for Kit Senior, but Kit Junior looked much more the sort of thing I had in mind. Very decorative, and obviously well provided with brains. I find brains a terrific turn on, possibly because I haven’t got that many myself. I have enough to get me qualified as a solicitor, but I’ll always work for somebody else. I know my own limitations.
Anyway, we went over to the hotel, and then Kit drove at my direction to the Red House. I had the keys and I opened up the front door, and scrabbled inside the fuse box in the hall.
“The electricity is still connected, and the water too. I came last week to make sure that we would be able to make coffee at least: I brought instant, and tea bags and a kettle and sugar and mugs and so on, and we can get milk in the village.”
“Always a promising start. Can we go up to the top, and work down? I just want a glance in each room, and then I’ll have a better idea of how much work this will involve. Are the rooms locked?”
“Yes, but I have the keys. I don’t know which is which, so it might take some time. I’ll get some luggage labels tomorrow and we can separate the keys and mark them up. Shall we go upstairs?”
We started in the attics, and came slowly down. There was a terrific quantity of stuff, and I would have given almost none of it house room, but Kit was giving little orgasmic squeaks in just about every room, so I presumed that I was being a Philistine. On the second floor, accompanying what had in their day been children’s rooms and servants’ quarters, we found a door to which I had no key.
“Is it a room, or just a cupboard?”
“It must be a room, I think. Look, the bathroom on the other side goes another twelve feet, and the tank’s beyond that, so I think there must be another room on this side. Don’t worry about it now. It can’t be very big. The key may turn up as we work, and if it doesn’t, there are things I can do. Let’s go on. There hasn’t been much else on this floor. The next floor down presumably had the bedrooms in use?”
“I think so. Certainly Prosser used the big one, and the one on the other side was a sort of sitting room, and he had a nurse living in for the last few years, and I think she had a suite of rooms. I don’t think they used any of the ground floor rooms other than the kitchen.”
“I’m not surprised. Look at that view! If I lived here I would want my rooms high up and facing this way. O.K., Owen, I’ve seen enough for today. I’ve got an idea of what this will take. Can we start tomorrow? Let’s say nine o’clock. Do I pick you up? Or meet you here?”
“I’ll meet you here at nine. I can get here quicker if I don’t go through the town, and you can get to the bypass without having to go through the one way system. I’ll bring milk and labels. Is there anything else you want?”
“I don’t think so. I’ve got a pad and a clipboard, and I’ll bring the laptop and the camera. Oh, I advise losing the smart suit. We’re going to have to move quite a lot of furniture, and I’ll want to lift a couple of carpets. It’ll be dirty work. Bring soap and a towel, and wear something that you don’t mind getting grubby.”
We went back into town, and Kit dropped me at the office, and went to the hotel. I went home and spent a happy evening imagining getting grubby with Kit, and then, better still, getting clean with Kit. I do love sharing the shower. But I didn’t reckon I had any chance there.
Unfortunately, I was late the next morning. I’m not good with mornings, and I was late getting up, and then by the time I had bought labels and milk, I got behind a tractor, and you know what country roads are. So it was nearer nine fifteen when I got there, and Kit’s car was already on the carriage drive, and Kit was sitting on the steps reading the paper.
“Sorry, sorry, I got held up. I’ve got the keys. And the milk. There we are. What’s first?”
“Tea first. And I want to work top to bottom, so we’ll begin in those attics. I don’t think there’s much there of value, but there’s a lot of stuff which will have to come out into the light. Let’s go. Owen? Hello?”
“Yes. Sorry. I was miles away. Attics.”
Actually, I was just thinking about Kit working from top to bottom of me, and having a small letch. Every man’s entitled to do that once in a while.
Owen was terrifically easy on the eye, but he seemed to be dreadfully hard work. He just went mentally absent every so often, and he didn’t come over as having been near the front when the brains were handed out. Still, good temper makes up for a lot. Nonetheless, I hoped that the late arrival had been a one off. I can put up with most things but I can’t bear unpunctuality. It’s so rude!
Attics are usually full of tut and these ones were no exception. We had a brief explore, and then decided (well, I decided, and Owen, whose wits appeared to have escaped him again, just smiled at me) to clear one end and then work methodically through the contents, shifting it all in one direction. We piled up a lot of stuff that I said was basically rubbish: at some point there had been rats, and the paper that had been left in the attics was so much scrap. There were trunks full of clothes that could go to specialist dealers, and boxes of old photographs. Owen eventually phoned his dad and got authorisation for us to bin everything that I thought couldn’t be sold or given away. We spent an hour or so doing that, and made enough space to finish the rest of the attics before the light went. We were both absolutely filthy.
“This is a mistake,” I said. “I don’t really want to get into my car like this. Tomorrow I shall bring a change of clothes and pinch a towel from the hotel, and shower before I go back.”
“Good idea,” agreed Owen, and his eyes unfocused again. Honestly, I began to wonder if he were Right.
“That’s enough for today. Pass me the board and the list. I’ll put some of it on the laptop tonight. Same time tomorrow, Owen?”
It was closer to the same time than I liked. I had meant nine o’clock; he showed at twenty past. I was a bit pissed off. I bustled him up to the second floor and chased him briskly through three rooms before I relented and let him go and make coffee, while I looked through the lists of items we had identified and in some cases photographed. There was some good stuff here; I wouldn’t have minded having the selling of it myself. I was fairly sure that I could place the longcase clock, and the tea tables couldn’t be worth less than seven thousand. The glassware was all collectors’ quality, and the silver that we had already seen would be sold in a month if it came to my website. I had seen very little that didn’t seem Right, with the exception of a small silver jug. I picked that up again, and when Owen came back with the mugs, I was inspecting it closely.
“What’s so special about that one? You’ve hardly left it alone since you saw it.”
“It isn’t Right.”
“What’s not right about it?”
“Don’t know. It’s not what it should be.”
“What do you mean?”
“Sorry. Professional buzz words. If something is Right, with a capital Rrr, then it’s genuine and in keeping with what it should be. It can mean lots of things: that it has a recorded provenance, and the correct markings, and the colour is what I would expect, and so on. One tends to say that something isn’t Right, rather than it is. Now, look. The markings of this say that it was made in Chester, and that shows the date and the maker. Certainly that maker was working in Chester at that date, and this is the sort of thing he was turning out, but I’ll swear he didn’t make this. The silver quality is right for the time and the maker and the article, but the whole thing isn’t Right.”
“How can you tell?”
“I don’t always know how I know, but I’ve handled this sort of thing since I was in my cradle, and I’ll swear it’s not genuine. Actually, that’s literally true; Great Uncle Kit gave me a silver and coral teething ring, seventeenth century, and was mortally offended when my mum took it away and gave me a plastic one that she could sterilise. We were all nearly cut out of the will. This isn’t Right. If you pressed me, I would say that the base is too heavy and the curve isn’t pronounced enough. The whole thing should just drop into your hand. It should beg to be caressed, and this one doesn’t. It’s a good piece, but it isn’t what it purports to be.”
His eyes had unfocused again. It wasn’t boredom, I was sure of that, although I couldn’t have blamed him if it had been. He took the jug from me, and balanced it on his palm. “Does one caress silver?”
I got up, and brought him a sugar bowl. “Hold that. Do you feel the difference? Maybe you don’t, but when I pick that up, my hands close round it so naturally that it just feels good. That one’s Right. I could stroke it.”
What on earth was wrong with him?
He blinked, and came back. “You said you had a Great Uncle Kit? As well as you and your dad? It’s a family name then?”
“It’s worse than you think. My great-grandfather had seven sons and three daughters, and there’s a family tradition that the first child in every family is either a Christopher or a Katherine, both to be called Kit. Apart from those two, I have four first cousin Kits and about eight other cousin Kits of various degrees and both sexes. The Christmas card list is simply incomprehensible. I don’t recommend it. Lots of us get to twenty-one and change our names, but since I wanted to go into the business, I stuck with it. I’m Kit the Fourth in this line, and I just couldn’t be bothered to change the letter headings.”
I was really enjoying myself: poking about in someone else’s house in the company of a really classy individual. I just wished that Kit didn’t talk dirty quite so much, although I had to admit that it was almost wholly in my mind. We had our coffee, and Kit plainly lusted after a silver coffee service, and I lusted (I hoped not quite so plainly) after Kit.
The afternoon wasn’t nearly so interesting. There was a whole room full of pictures, which had to be listed, described and photographed, and then a bedroom in which someone had piled books which Kit said dismissively had been bought ‘by the yard’ to fill up the spaces in a library. Unfortunately we had to list them all: title, author, publisher, year, condition. Kit read them out and I wrote them down. Yawnsville, and they were all dusty, and after half an hour we were all dusty too, and I kept thinking about persuading Kit to shower with me, and losing track of what I was doing. There were a couple of occasions when I had to have everything repeated four or five times until I thought Kit would box my ears.
We showered, separately, which was a shame, and I thought about sharing, and had to wash various things quite vigorously to be in a fit state to drive home.
On Thursday I was late again, because although I had woken in good time, I had spent half an hour thinking about the fact that Kit was so plainly Right, having a good provenance, a beautiful and desirable shape, and all the rest of it, and doing what came naturally. Twice. This was bad news and although Kit didn’t actually say anything, I understood that I was in disgrace. We went on with the second floor rooms. They were small, poky rooms full of furniture, and it was difficult to see what was there. We spent a lot of time moving things onto the landing where the light was better, and dusting them so that Kit could take photographs and rave about cabriole legs and things like that. I raved, silently, about Kit’s legs. Those were startlingly tight jeans, and when Kit bent over a cabinet to look down the back, I thought I would have to leave the room.
It was a relief to get to the end of the corridor, and the bathroom and the locked door. We had by then accumulated about a hundred extra keys, and we tried them all, and nothing opened the door.
“Leave it. Just remember that we haven’t been there. There will probably be more keys downstairs. If we haven’t found one that fits by the middle of next week, I’ll fix it myself.”
The first floor rooms had less in them, because they were the ones that had been used. The main bedroom had the bed still made up, and Kit disappeared underneath it to look at the frame, coming out muttering, and dictating half a page of notes to me about condition and provenance. I didn’t understand a word of it. There was a bedside cabinet that got the orgasmic squeaks again, and a lacquer cabinet that was deemed not Right.
And for God’s sake, I was late AGAIN on Friday. I couldn’t believe it. I simply overslept. I grovelled, abjectly, but I wasn’t forgiven. I could tell. I got a whole day in the library as punishment. Well, I don’t suppose it was intended as punishment, but it was so dull that it might as well have been. Books of sermons, improving moral tales, and the only thing that was at all interesting was a shelf of copies of the Strand magazine, with the original Sherlock Holmes stories in them. Even I could see that they were worth a few orgasmic squeaks.
I offered to work Saturday, but Kit dismissed me. I got the distinct impression that I was very amusing. Kit had expressed the intention of spending the weekend doing the paperwork, which didn’t strike me as a good idea.
“Come clubbing tomorrow night. There’s a whole gang of us go.”
“No thanks. Not my thing.”
“Well, what about a film and a curry and the pub?”
“I’ll be quite happy just getting the photos downloaded and the descriptions typed up.”
“Oh, come on. You can’t work all week and all weekend too. You need a proper break.”
“Well. . .”
“Come on. If not a film, what about the theatre? Let me see what’s on. We could have a meal somewhere.”
In the end that was what we did. We found some show that was sufficiently highbrow for Kit, and I enjoyed it more than I expected, and then we did the curry which was my idea of fun, although Kit knew enough to keep up. On Sunday we went to a stately home, and looked at a collection of silver that made Kit squeak again, and then walked around a lake and admired the trees and the water birds.
I was late on Monday. I tried not to be, but I was.
Owen was driving me absolutely nuts. He was pleasant, good humoured, entertaining company and all the rest of it, but he had absolutely no idea of arriving anywhere on time. He had been late every day in the first week, and Monday in the second. Irritating or what?
And he goggled. I was wise, at last, to why he goggled; I should have noticed before. I was vaguely flattered, but he was too young. He would always be too young; it was a matter of outlook, not years. Look, I was born aged forty, and I’ve been trying to catch up ever since. I’m not going to pass forty. I’m just going to stick there.
Dining room. Set of eight chairs. Had originally been a set of six chairs, and in the hands of a good restorer, would be again. Table. Minimum value twenty-five thousand. Glassware. Lots of it. More silver. Some prat had wrapped a rubber band round the spoons, but only three were broken. They weren’t unusual. It would be possible to make up a set.
Drawing room. China. I don’t know that much about china but we wrote it all down. What we didn’t find was a key to the room upstairs.
God help us, the boy was late on Tuesday. We spent the whole day in the estate office which was full of estate records going back to the dawn of time, picking out the bits that would be of interest to a dealer. That was where we had expected to find spare keys, and indeed we did – dozens of them. After lunch we went upstairs with all the keys. Nothing fitted.
“Right. I’m just going to get some things from the car. I’m going to open this door.”
“I’ll pick the lock.”
“Really? Do you know how?”
“Would I have said I could do it if I couldn’t?”
I know about locks. That one took me less than ten minutes, and it wasn’t damaged afterwards. We opened the door.
“It’s a school-room!”
And it was. A dais with a desk and blackboard. A row of pupils’ desks across the centre of the floor. Surprisingly little dust. Bookcases, filled.
“Why on earth would Prosser have a school-room?”
“It’s probably always been a school-room. The room next door was originally a nursery.”
“How do you know?”
“Didn’t you notice? There were bars on the windows. Sure sign of a nursery. O.K., have you got the pad? Let’s see what the books are. The desks aren’t valuable, you can pick them up in junk shops. Ready? Oh, wonderful. These are Rider Haggard first editions, and they’ve still got their dust jackets. I think it’s a full set. Biggles, first editions, dust jackets. And Worrals of the W.A.A.F. as well. Bliss. A full set of Kipling in the blue covers with the elephant’s head. Not particularly rare, but very collectable. These are text books, and some of them are very old. That’s an early pre-Mercator atlas. I’ll need to pass a list of these on. There’s some real money here.”
“Do you think that’s why Prosser sealed it up? To protect the books?”
“Um. . . No. No, I don’t think so. The books on this side are rather different. Still very collectable. In their own way. A bit specialised. Very specialised. They’ll sell, all right, but I think your father may want them offered by an anonymous vendor.”
“Why? What have you. . . Oh. Oh, I see. Yes. Specialised, you say. Will they sell at all?”
“Oh yes. I know two dealers who would take this sort of thing. Paris, I would have said. End of the nineteenth century. And this is. . . Oh. I see. Hence the room, I suspect. This is Swinburne. Quite a lot of Swinburne. And six copies of the ‘Story of O’, in various languages, illustrated and not. Not all old, then. ‘Frank and I’. Yes, well, that makes everything much clearer.”
“Not to me, it doesn’t. Should it?”
“No, probably not.” I stepped up onto the dais and opened the desk. “Yes. I think this probably explains it all.”
Owen followed me and looked over my shoulder. “Do you think this was left over from when the house had a tutor or a governess?”
“Possibly, but I doubt it. No, I think this was Mr Prosser’s little secret.”
“A cane and a strap?”
“But I remember Prosser! Nice old bird, still active when I was in my teens, used to let us have the church fete in the gardens here!”
“And, at a guess, somebody, either Prosser himself or some. . . um. . . friend, getting a sore backside in here.”
He stared at me, and then shook his head violently, like a spaniel with wet ears. “I’m going to put the kettle on. I can’t get my head round this at all.”
Poor innocent. I started listing books. There were one or two I wouldn’t have minded owning myself. It was a shame that it wouldn’t be ethical to buy them straight out of the estate. I would have to send them to a dealer and then buy them back.
We didn’t discuss the room any more. We listed the books and then we went back downstairs and spent the rest of the day poking round in the kitchen and scullery and in outhouses, getting unbelievably filthy.
“Owen? I think we can be finished here by Friday night, but it’ll be tight. We’ll need to keep on top of things. Owen? Owen! Are you listening? Please can you try to be here tomorrow at nine, not twenty past?”
“Yes. Sorry. I’m not good at time-keeping. I’ll be here at nine.”
“See you are, or I’ll take you up to Prosser’s school-room and teach you a lesson!”
It was a joke, but he froze, and then cast me a glance of startling transparency, and went off to the shower. Well, well, well! So that was how things were! Perhaps he wasn’t too young after all.
The whole afternoon made my head spin: Prosser’s secret room was too much for me to take in. I mean, I had heard of such things, naturally, but always as a rather smutty joke. You don’t expect to find that somebody you know does them. And then right on top of that, Kit’s threat to do them to me! It had been a joke, I knew that, or at least my head knew that, but to my horror, my body insisted on taking it seriously and being very, very interested. Solidly interested. Throbbingly interested. You really don’t expect to find that the somebody you know who could do such a thing is yourself. I stood in the shower running a series of pictures through my head in which Kit ordered me to bend over, and. . . well, I had to run the water cold to make myself fit to get out again. And that was after I had. . . you know.
I was absolutely not going to be late. Much as I thought I would love to have Kit do that, there was no point in doing anything that might look like an attempt to engineer the situation. Besides, when the novelty of the idea wore off, I would probably decide that I didn’t fancy the notion at all. Real people didn’t do that sort of thing. I certainly didn’t do that sort of thing. Certainly not.
Which is no doubt why it took me so long to get to sleep that night, and why it involved the best part of half a box of tissues. Every time I was just dropping off, my subconscious, which needs to get out in the fresh air more, would post up a picture of Kit armed with the cane, and add the sound effects that had me scrabbling for the tissues again. It was gone two o’clock before I fell asleep, with the inevitable consequence that I slept through the alarm and woke up at five to nine.
It was so late that there wasn’t any point in trying to hurry. I called Kit’s mobile, which was switched off, and left a message, and then I got myself sorted and went to the house. It was ten to ten by the time I got there, and Kit was sitting in the car reading a book. I got a very thin lipped glare as I unlocked the door and then a hand closed on my arm and I was swung round.
“I’m sorry, I’m really sorry, I didn’t sleep well, and then I slept through the alarm, I’m sorry, Kit!”
“Give me one good reason why I shouldn’t take you upstairs and improve your manners with that cane.”
It was a get-out. I knew it was. It was said with sufficient severity that I was being given my chance to pretend that it was all a joke. I opened my mouth to answer the same way, and hesitated just that tiny fraction too long, which was much too long. Kit was watching me closely, and our eyes met, and we both knew. I couldn’t quite get my breath, and all I said, faintly, was another “I’m sorry. . .”
“You’re about to be a lot sorrier. Upstairs. Right now. Every single day you’ve been late, and I’ve had enough of it. This is payback time.”
I was pushed into the school-room, and towards the row of desks in the centre.
“Get that fleece off.”
Numbly, I did as I was told, while Kit stalked to the dais, opened the desk, and withdrew the cane. It never even occurred to me to argue, object, flatly refuse.
“Face the desk.”
I turned, nervously. Kit came up behind me, reached round me and unfastened my belt. That was something I had wanted for a week, but suddenly I wasn’t at all sure about it. My jeans were unbuttoned and unzipped, neatly and efficiently, and dragged roughly down my thighs. My briefs followed.
I gave a squeak of protest, and was caught by the hair at the back of my neck and pushed forcefully down.
“Legs wider. Get right down on that desk.” I couldn’t: the span of denim at my feet prevented me. I kicked my trainers off, not bothering to unlace them, and pulled one leg free of the binding cloth. Craven obedience suddenly seemed like a good idea.
“Six of the best.”
Traditional, if nothing else. Well, it couldn’t be that bad, could it? They used to do this to children, after all, and I couldn’t very well say I hadn’t asked for it. I heard the cane swish a couple of times as Kit tried it through the air, and I flinched, despite myself.
Then it whistled. There isn’t another word for the sound it made, it whistled, and it cracked across my backside, and I suddenly had some very strong opinions on the subject of education and the wrongness of corporal punishment for children. I shot upright, and the hand closed on the back of my neck again and banged me down onto the unyielding desk. All that furniture moving had obviously made Kit very strong.
“Next time you move, I’ll start again. Hold on to the edge of the desk and keep still.”
“That’s what it’s for, and it’s going to hurt a great deal more before I’m done. Head down.”
SWISH-CRACK! I bit my lip and didn’t move. SWISH-CRACK! I yelped. That one was low down and hurt more than the previous two. My knuckles were white on the edge of the desk, and my eyes were watering. SWISH-CRACK! Higher, but on top of the first one. I yelled, and hopped a bit, but I didn’t get up. I’m not hugely bright, but I’m bright enough for that.
“Oh, please, no more, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m aaaaah-ow!”
“One more. Keep still.”
SWISH-CRACK! Hardest yet. Lowest. Last. Sorest. I was whooping for air, and I straightened very slowly and carefully, reaching round to investigate the damage and see what could be done about soothing it. Kit put the cane down on the desk, where I could see it, although my eyes were so full of tears that it wavered in and out of focus. I gasped and shuddered, and managed “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!”
“Have you learned your lesson, young man?”
“I have, really I have, I’m sorry!”
“Are you sure? You don’t think you need a spanking as well?”
I forgot to breathe for a moment. The thought of a spanking on top of the caning was dreadful, wonderful, terrible. Terrible. The idea of going across Kit’s knee? Of being helpless, defenceless, vulnerable? Of being kept there, squealing, powerless, until Kit thought I had been punished enough? Air suddenly rushed back into my lungs.
“Oh, please. . .”
“Please, you don’t? Or please, you do?”
I surrendered. Ran up the white flag. Not just a little pennant, this was a flag the size of a bedspread.
“Whatever you think, Kit.”
“Well, I think you do.”
A step back and the denimed legs twisted onto the desk. “Up here, Owen. Over my knee.”
I climbed up, with rather poorer style, freeing myself of the tangle of clothing as I went, and lay over the offered lap. A hand stroked the furnace that was my bottom. A slow finger ran across a welt, and I wriggled. “Does that hurt?”
“Yes. No. I don’t know. OW! That hurts!”
It did. I don’t think they were particularly hard spanks – I’ve had harder since – but on the weals from the cane they were difficult to ignore. Kit was thorough, systematic, and meticulous. Every inch of my bottom was spanked at least once. It took about five smacks before I was whimpering, and ten before I was yelling. I was sobbing long before the end, sobbing and begging, and promising I didn’t know what, to be punctual, and honest and well behaved and all the rest of it. To be Right for the rest of my natural life. Because this was Right. It must have been, because I didn’t try to get up.
I almost didn’t notice when it stopped, I was begging so hard. The slow hand went back to its gentle exploration. The stroking was bliss, and I relaxed into it, sniffing and hiccupping. Kit smoothed a palm over my tender flesh for several minutes, down towards my thighs, and my knees fell open, and my back arched and I lifted like a cat to the caressing hand. The long fingers eased between my thighs to the responsive spot and I gasped. This was Right. “Oh yes. . .”
“Yessss. . .”
I was eased off the desk and upright, and Kit, still perched on top, leaned forward, slid a hand under my hair, and kissed me. While I was still adjusting to that, the other hand trailed lightly down my chest, over my stomach and. . .
“Aaaah. Please. . .”
I didn’t seem to be able to say anything other than “please”.
“Yes, Owen. Downstairs. Let’s be comfortable.”
From the feel of my arse I was never going to be comfortable again, but the idea was good. “I’ve got. . . I’ve got.. Oh, God, do that again. I’ve got a pack of three in my fleece. . .”
A snort of laughter. “So have I. I knew you wouldn’t be able to get here on time today.”
“You planned this!”
“Are you telling me you didn’t?”
“So you always carry condoms in your fleece?”
“N-no. But since the middle of last week, I’ve been hoping. . .”
“Cheeky pup. Come. Downstairs. Mr Prosser wouldn’t begrudge us the use of his room.”
We didn’t meet any ghosts, so I don’t think he did. I had never made love in an antique bed before. Afterwards, Kit lay looking at the ceiling, with one hand resting lightly on my still heated bum. I was very definitely lying face down, head on my lover’s shoulder, playing absently with a nipple. “We aren’t going to be finished by Friday night, are we?”
“I hope not. I don’t do one night stands. I’m hoping this is long term, Owen.”
I made my opinions known on that subject. “But listen, Kit. I don’t like the idea of people getting to know about Prosser. Whatever he did, it was his own business.”
The elegant head turned towards me. “You weren’t so sympathetic yesterday.”
“I know better now. I just wouldn’t like people having grubby ideas about his room.”
“I know what you mean. I don’t think it would be unprofessional of me to move things about in the house. The easel can go into the attic and so can the desks. As long as they’re on the list, it won’t matter where they are. The books can go to the library, where they belong, and we’ll put some of the spare bedroom furniture in that room. Then there’s nothing to interest anybody. We’ll have to do a bit of shifting, but that won’t matter. Perhaps Saturday.”
“What about the contents of the desk?”
“No value. I don’t intend to put them on my list. They don’t exist, any more than the rotten paper in the attics existed.”
“So if they vanished out of the house. . .”
“I think that Mr Prosser would probably appreciate it if his solicitor were to take care of his reputation by removing from the house anything that might cause gossip, such as a cane and a strap. The strap needs to be treated with linseed oil.”
“To get it back to the sort of condition in which it can be used to discipline Mr Prosser’s solicitor.”
“Well, my dear, if you behave properly, we won’t have to use it, will we?”
“Is it better than the cane? Or worse?”
“Kit? If this is long term, how do we do it? I mean, you live miles away.”
“I don’t have to. We’ve got six shops, from Edinburgh to Canterbury. I travel a lot, round the shows and so on, but I sell most of my antiques by showing stuff on the website and then sending or taking it out on approval. I could live here. What I would need is somewhere to stay for a while until I could find office space here. Any ideas?”
I had some. “Kit? I think this is Right. But I’ll need a second opinion.”
“It feels Right to me too. Let’s go and have a shower, and get some work done, and perhaps later we can see if it’s still Right.”
Stuff ‘Later’. The shower proved at once that it was Right.
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© , 2005