The door to Stephen’s office opened silently as he sat at his desk signing one or two last papers as a preliminary to packing up and going home for the day.
“Well?” asked Mrs Knight as she made her way further into the office.
“All sorted,” replied Stephen not really wanting to go into more detail. “I thought you had left already.”
“I considered it prudent to hang around and make sure there were no stragglers on the floor. And I’ve just spent an oh-so-interesting hour downstairs chatting to Mick the doorman, listening to his tales of budding grandfatherhood as a ruse to stop anyone coming back up so that you could have your meeting in private...”
At the expectant silence that filled the room, Stephen finally looked up and registered her raised eyebrow at his reluctance to talk as she leaned elegantly against the arm of the sofa. Waiting. He sighed as he realised the futility of trying to hide the details from her.
“He’s on a week’s unpaid leave and then we’ll instigate the changes I proposed when he comes back.”
“And?” she pressed. “The rest of it?”
“Yes – that as well. You were right... as usual,” he smiled ruefully.
“You know I’m usually right about these things.”
“You weren’t right about wanting to fire him,” replied Stephen firmly.
Karen Knight shrugged one shoulder.
“It would have been standard practice in the circumstances. You know that. It was only because you were so insistent at giving him another chance that I changed my mind. Your willingness to vouch for him as a worthwhile member of your staff...”
“He is. You’ll see. Although he doesn’t think so at the moment, he’ll do well on the news section because he has a passion for getting all the details – he’ll do very well there. It’s just that he’s got too comfortable in the Agony Aunt column that makes him reluctant to change.”
“And I take it he isn’t at all comfortable now?” she asked with a wry lift of one eyebrow.
Stephen looked at Karen with reproach for the comment.
“No, not very,” he conceded. “At least not in his backside... but more comfortable with himself, yes, I think so.”
“How did you know?” asked Stephen finally. “How did you know what he needed?”
“It was fairly obvious really, once I’d read all the mails. He was so blatantly confused and his last few mails were almost an open confession to how bad he felt. Although it was clumsily written and child-like – and I sincerely hope he shows better talent than that when covering the news - it would have been impossible not to see how he felt about himself for his actions. And don’t forget, I’ve had experience in dealing with a man who needed help working things out. It would have been almost cruel not to give him what he needed. That’s not to say that it wasn’t risky but I did say that you’d have to play it by ear.”
“You’re just a softy under that stern exterior, Karen. Once you’d decided that he wasn’t going to be fired you were champing at the bit to help him,” accused Stephen with a laugh. “It must have frustrated you to hell and back at not being able to do it personally.”
Once again, Karen shrugged a shoulder, trying to hide the truth of Stephen’s words.
“I don’t imagine for one minute that he was confused enough to accept my help in the matter,” she replied with humour. “Anyway, I’m sure you coped with it more than adequately.”
“...yes. I suppose so...” Stephen trailed off uncertainly and then shook his head in a gesture of non-importance. “I didn’t think I would, or even that it would happen at all but it was as you guessed. As our talk went on, the occasion came up almost naturally. I didn’t see that until you pointed out the option of spanking him myself. I would have just pointed him in the way of a club to get himself sorted.”
“Probably wouldn’t have worked well, not in these circumstances. He couldn’t have connected being ‘punished’ by someone who had no idea or understanding of what he had done at work by just hooking up with someone in a club. They wouldn’t have had any need to punish him for something they know nothing about or which doesn’t affect them in the least, so this way, he feels that he’s paid his debt to you and to the paper. I doubt that having someone who he thinks is getting pleasure through spanking him deal with him would have helped him sort things out in his mind. I think the fact that you have a relationship of sorts already would have helped him to keep each thing in its place... with a stranger at a club he might well have fallen into viewing it not only as purely for pleasure but he might still have fantasised about it being ‘John’ spanking him. Two birds one stone, Stephen. You’ve assuaged my desire to have him punished and you’ve helped him clear his mind - with a bit of luck.”
“Don’t do yourself down, Karen – you were just as keen as I was in the end to help him. You can’t tell me you just wanted him punished.”
“Well, OK. Maybe not. But I forbid you to mention my act of kindness – you’ll ruin my reputation as a bitch.”
“I wouldn’t dream of doing that,” laughed Stephen as he finished tidying away the last of his paperwork and shouldered into his jacket. He came towards her and slipped his arms round her waist. “You’re an Alpha Bitch and I wouldn’t want you to falter in your dedication to it.”
“You mean you wouldn’t want me to falter in my dedication to your bottom and giving it all the attention it needs.”
“Well, yes. That as well,” murmured Stephen with a sigh and a small shiver of anticipation as Karen’s hands crept round his waist and made their way down to stroke his cheeks through his trousers.
“And it’s in need of some attention tonight?” queried Karen knowing full well what the answer was going to be.
“Such lovely manners you have, darling. Come on then, we can catch some dinner in that new restaurant out by the riverfront first, it’s had some good reviews. It’s late and I’m too tired even to think about cooking now so this way I will be nice and fresh and full of energy to sort you out and you can fidget your way through a three-course meal thinking about what I’m going to do to you when we get home. I think we need to re-establish your position as Bottom so you don’t get ideas above your station.”
Stephen gave a shiver of suppressed delight at the news of his approaching reckoning.
The restaurant surpassed their expectations and they were lucky enough to lay claim to the last remaining table that was available on a terrace that gave pleasant views of the river. After ordering their meal, they admired the effects that the lights from the restaurant and the neighbouring buildings threw across the ebony water and Stephen temporarily relaxed in the soothing and hypnotic ambience it created. Their corner table afforded them a certain amount of privacy but not so much that they felt at ease to continue the discussion that had been started in the office. This didn’t mean that it wasn’t at the back of their minds and Karen was quick to notice that Stephen was mulling something over – that something was bothering him.
The journey from the restaurant to their shared house was made in relative silence. Karen had the ability to exude a sense of ‘threat’ by silence alone. It was an intense silence filled with portent. Intense in the sense of the calm before the storm when the very air surrounding them held promises of something on the horizon – unseen as yet but approaching none the less. As if the telling silence wasn’t enough, Karen’s stance and her clipped movements were enough to let Stephen know that their evening was far from over, that it was in fact moving into another sphere. For Stephen the silence was anticipatory. For Karen it was a time when she slowly but inexorably took on the guise of Mistress of her man.
As the door closed behind them shutting out the world and their morals and expectations of what should be, Karen said just the one word, haughtily.
Stephen had no choice in his reaction to her tone; it was beyond his will to do anything other than to drop to his knees in front of her, his head lowered with his hands resting loosely on his knees. Not the standard pose of many subs as seen in the clubs, not submissive for the purpose of show, but more a willingness to show that he was at her disposal for the duration of their play.
“So,” repeated Karen as she slowly circled him in the hallway where although he couldn’t see her, he could feel her presence. “We have you branching out, do we? From spankee to spanker in one fell swoop?”
“No, Ma’am,” whispered Stephen.
“But you spanked another person. You presume to think that you are above being my Bottom now, do you?” Karen’s voice was harsh but Stephen knew that the words she uttered were of no consequence; the invalidity of the accusation was pushed aside.
There was no real answer that Stephen could offer to the question unless he was to call a halt to the play unfolding; he could only say what was expected of him.
“I’m sorry, Ma’am. I apologise.”
“I think I can make you sorrier still, don’t you?” queried Karen dispassionately.
“Stand up. Take your belt off. No. . . slowly! I want to hear it flick through every loop.”
Stephen struggled to pull his belt from his trousers in the way that Karen demanded. Had it been his choice, it would have been tugged hurriedly out of its hold but Karen liked to tease when playing. She liked to do things differently and it was this reason why she ordered Stephen to remove his own belt. It was a scene normally associated with the liberator of the belt being the one to use it, of being in control.
“Now fold it. Give it to me,” she whispered as she held out her hand. Stephen placed the belt in her hand with the buckle and end fitting into her palm. Her fingers closed firmly round the supply leather and Stephen’s eyes darkened in desire as soon as she had it securely held. The way she allowed it to droop casually from her grasp transformed it from an innocent belt to something else and the way she then flexed and reworked her grip on it allowed Stephen to see the muscles in her wrist working, reminding him that she was very capable of delivering a wicked snap at the last moment.
“I can’t quite decide where I want to spank you. Should I make you strip here in the hall and have you bracing yourself against the front door? Do you think the fact that it’s glass will hide from any passer-by what is happening to you? Do you think your yelps will carry outside? Hmm… perhaps not. I don’t think we need our neighbours to be aware of just how disobedient you are.”
“So, upstairs then. But I like the idea of having you strip down here, so we’ll compromise. Take your shoes and socks off.”
With the doubled belt in her hand as a reminder to act quickly on her instructions, she made him work his way through the house and up to their bedroom, stopping him every few yards to instruct him to remove yet another item of clothing. She made sure that his trousers were disposed of before climbing the stairs and instead of using the traditional ‘chattel’ method of having him walk two steps behind her, she made him go first so that she could watch the play of muscles in his well formed backside and thighs as they negotiated the stairs. She stayed at the bottom of the stairs watching until he reached the top step where he was told to wait until she slowly followed him up, enjoying watching him shiver in anticipation.
When the last item of clothing was removed, he was given his last instruction of the night.
As they both lay, relaxed and sleepy, in their bedroom of the house that no-one from the paper knew they shared, Karen gently stroked Stephen’s back from the nape of his neck to the bottom of his backbone and she asked the question that had been in the back of her mind all evening.
“You weren’t very comfortable with today, were you?”
Stephen caught and held his breath for a second and released it with relief knowing that his tension had been much reduced by their play and now would be a good time to talk things through.
“I don’t know. There was a point where I lost it a bit and didn’t know what to do.”
“In what way? I would have thought that you were something of an expert by now regarding spankings; God knows I’ve given you enough that you should be.”
“Oh, I knew the mechanics of it all OK, that wasn’t the problem. I mean, I know the moves and the attitude – I can do a fairly good impersonation of you if need be I suppose,” he replied with an apologetic look at her look of surprise.
“No, it wasn’t that. It was just strange that’s all. Apart from the fact that I’d never ever spanked anyone before, I’ve only been on the receiving end,” he shivered as Karen ran her nails over his red skin, “- and quite happy to have it that way – it was a bit weird. You know how, when we’ve finished a session, you always pat me a couple of times? Well, I never realised that although I take that as the sign that we’re finished, it’s not just a sign. It’s more than that somehow. This probably sounds a bit daft but I take it as a show of affection almost – which in itself is bloody strange seeing as you’ve normally just walloped me to bits – but anyway, what I mean is that I think of it as natural. To me a spanking ends with a couple of pats on the bum. And I almost did it to Pau as well without thinking of what I was doing. I didn’t in the end, I couldn’t, but that threw me a bit. Sort of made me lose my place and I didn’t know what to do then. I just stopped spanking him without any sign or word that it was over. I recovered afterwards – it didn’t seem fair to leave him without any sort of comfort but I couldn’t touch him in that way or even begin to think of what to say to him as a consolation.
“That’s understandable really though, isn’t it?” interrupted Karen. “He’s not your partner nor likely to be so you wouldn’t want to say to him the same things that I say to you when I spank you. That and the fact that I don’t ‘punish’ you for real so our speech is geared towards play, not absolution, means that it wouldn’t come easily to you and if you had tried to force it, he probably would have known and not been comfortable himself.”
“Yes, and that’s another thing. It was as I was about to pat him that it occurred to me that I’m pretty sure I’ve never touched another man’s arse before and that I’d just been doing that for the last however long it was. But it was different then. I wasn’t touching a man’s arse when I was spanking him if that makes sense but if I’d patted him, then I would have been and that’s what I didn’t want to do. Not that it worried me – well, not much - but it might have worried him. I hope we’ve done the right thing. I did say that I wasn’t about to become party to his fantasies...”
“If you were, you wouldn’t know about it anyway,” said Karen pithily.
“True, who knows who or what people fantasise about. But I told him that it was strictly punishment – that there was no element of play in it. I was sure he understood that but now I’m thinking what must he have thought about having a straight man see and touch his backside in such a vulnerable situation? His fantasies are all to do with play so... obviously I’m assuming here... he would have slotted this ‘John’ in as a gay man as well.”
“Does he know you’re a straight man though?” interrupted Karen. “I mean, there’s no way of telling, is there, and who knows what he thinks about you? We’ve been pretty careful about keeping our relationship to ourselves and as I purposely kept my married name after my divorce, I assume no-one knows about us. If they do, I’ve never heard any comments to the effect, so I don’t think anybody in your office knows we’ve been a couple practically ever since we ran into each other at the club. And I’m willing to bet he might have wondered if you’re gay or not but I’m completely sure that he wasn’t of a mind to think about that once his backside started hurting.”
Stephen smiled in acknowledgement of what Karen was saying. “Again... true. But I think most people would automatically think of someone as hetero unless they gave out clues or were pretty open about things. Perhaps that’s biased of me, but it’s the way I think.”
“Very possibly. I think it’s natural for straight people to assume that other people are also straight just because it’s all that they know whereas gay people are more aware of the alternative so even if they don’t suspect it about someone, they might wonder if they are, especially if it’s someone they think is sexy. For all we know your young Mr Garcia might fancy you rotten – you are rather fanciable you know – not that it matters. I don’t mind people thinking you’re attractive – it’s quite a compliment to my taste after all – and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether the person who fancies you is a woman or a man – either way it’s a compliment – as long as you don’t reciprocate!” warned Karen. “OK, that’s not fair – I’ll allow you to find other people attractive – but I won’t allow you to do anything about it.”
Stephen grinned at Karen’s show of possessiveness and whined at her laughingly, “Darling, you know I’m the best in the business at exclusives and that’s what you’ve got with me – exclusivity.”
“Hmm... make sure it stays that way then.”
Stephen twisted onto his stomach gripping the pillow under his upraised arms to pull it up to rest his head on as Karen continued to smooth her hand over his back and carried on to caress his bottom, her actions momentarily causing Stephen to arch his back in pleasure, while he mused over their conversation.
“How strange must it be for those people who can’t play with others who have the same orientation?”
“I think you’ll find that generally most people, one way or another, find exactly what they’re looking for with the people they need and if they don’t, or can’t, then they’ll wait until they can,” replied Karen thoughtfully. “Not always though. Oh, now this is a strange coincidence. Do you remember telling me about that married couple that came to the Noctua club a couple of weeks back? We weren’t there that night as I had that conference to attend in Devon but I heard about it afterwards from Adela. Apparently he wanted to experience a caning and the wife couldn’t bring herself to do it although after lots of discussion apparently she agreed to him visiting someone. Her stipulation was that it wasn’t a woman and he agreed. I think that no matter how much her head knew that her husband being disciplined by a woman didn’t necessarily mean that anything else would happen – and in the professional circles it rarely does I think – her instincts couldn’t cope with the idea of another woman dealing with her husband in that manner. Well, when I was downstairs in the lobby talking to Mick and standing watch, Adela rang me. She wanted to know if I had any way of contacting Patrick. You remember him, don’t you? He’d been a couple of times to the mixed couples nights... the one with ‘Be Positive’ tattooed on his arm? I always thought it was just a hippy style saying but he told me once that he’d had it done in his twenties as a sort of joke because it’s also his blood type. He only goes to the gay nights now but Adela thought that she remembered him dealing with straight men in the past as well so thought he might do well with this couple. I didn’t have a number for him anyway, or knew of any way of contacting him, so I don’t know how that’s going to end. If this man can get his head round being caned by a gay man then, all’s well that end’s well.”
“Might be his best option,” mused Stephen lazily. “A straight man might not want to do it to another man, not if he does it for sexual pleasure, but on the other hand, a straight man might not want a gay man to cane him.”
“Would you let a gay man spank you?”
“No, I don’t think so. In fact, I’m sure I wouldn’t. Not because I’d be afraid or worried, I mean that’s just silly isn’t it, just because someone is gay doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to come on to you – I’m sure their hormones are the same as ours and don’t make them uncontrollable sex fiends - and if they did, you have the option of refusing the same as you would if it were a woman asking. But... I couldn’t because it’s too connected to pleasure for me.” He turned his head and smiled at his lover beside him. “You know how hot and bothered it gets me – I couldn’t go without sex afterwards. I’m not sure I’d get those same feelings if I was being spanked by a man whether he was straight or gay.”
“I know I get you hot – some parts of you very hot indeed!” as she rubbed harder at the area of him that was still, an hour later, giving off heat.
“Those of us who do it for pleasure have it quite clear that there is a sexual element involved, even those couples who play but don’t take it any further. If they are casual partners they probably each go home and get up to God knows what while they’re het up and still in the mood from the play.
“Punishment isn’t meant to be about sex though, at least in theory,” countered Stephen.
“Yes, that’s the theory although I have my doubts about that. I can’t quite believe that if a punishment is done between two people whose orientation coincides that there isn’t something sexual there, especially from the Top’s side. Even if it doesn’t start off that way, to me it would be natural for it to evolve eventually and if they are already a couple then more so. It’s all to do with power in the end and power is very sensual,” murmured Karen knowingly. “Of course that might not cover a punishment between two men or two women who don’t share the same orientation. Or maybe it does, I think it might depend on which one is doing the spanking.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, tonight for instance. Apart from the fact that you personally like being spanked as opposed to doing the spanking, I take it you didn’t get excited when you were spanking Pau?”
“No, of course I didn’t.”
“Yes, but had it been the other way round and you were gay and he wasn’t; don’t you think that it’s possible that you might have done? That it might have turned you on? Even if it was meant to be just punishment and you knew that you shouldn’t enjoy doing it and that your ‘spankee’ wasn’t going to want any sort of action with you afterwards?”
“Oh, right, I see what you mean.”
“So it must apply to two women as well. Whatever the gender, if the spanker was the one that was gay, then there could still be a sexual element involved for them. If the spankee was the gay one, then probably not, or at least, it’s less likely. Perhaps with a situation like the one tonight, is the only time you can truly say that the punishment has no secondary purpose, at least not a sexual one.”
Stephen smiled impishly at his lover. “Are you saying that there’s another purpose to your spanking me... other than you enjoying inflicting pain on my poor undeserving backside?”
Karen snorted with laughter and moved the conversation away from the serious vein it had taken on almost of its own accord.
“Undeserving? You must be joking! This bottom here” she patted his left cheek, “has got to be the most deserving of Bottom’s bottoms I have ever known in my life. This bottom is just about the naughtiest I’ve ever seen,” she laughed as she slid down the bed quickly and placed a small nip where she had been stroking, “or tasted for that matter.”
Stephen yipped in surprise at the bite and tried to wiggle his hips out of the way.
“Don’t move!” said Karen firmly. “Your bottom belongs to me and if I want to bite it, I’ll bite it. Or kiss it. Or pinch it. In here, all of your body belongs to me, have you forgotten that?”
Stephen sighed happily and murmured, “No, Ma’am.”
“I could sit here for hours just touching this bottom, cupping my hands round its perfect cheeks. Patting it, stroking it, caressing it. Smacking it. I love the way it bounces under my hand. I love its contours, its texture. And I love the way it blooms into the prettiest shade of red.”
“I’m not sure I like being told I have a pretty bottom – I’m not sure it can be considered manly,” said Stephen forlornly.
“If I say it’s pretty, then it’s pretty. And it is. It’s also magnificent. And its mine….isn’t it?” teased Karen, pushing her fingers down in its cleft. Stephen automatically let his legs fall open and, as her talented hands reached to cup his balls, all thoughts of Pau were forgotten.