It wasn’t supposed to happen like this, Joelle thought with a sigh as she gripped Tom’s hand, savouring the gentle caress his thumb returned. She knew he meant it to be reassuring, but it only served to underscore her frustration.
She had spent so long working up the nerve to set up a profile, steeling herself to send her first message, flushing at the first reply, and recovering from a few graphic unsolicited. . .”hello”s. She had invested in her online self, carving out a niche for her own desires.
It was supposed to stay on line, darn it. Or, rather, it was supposed to at least start online, in that virtual world where she could pretend it was only a game, shutting away that alternate universe with the switch of her laptop if it grew too strange. Where she could fall all tipsily in love, get all the giggles and awkward moments out of the way, establishing compatibility or the lack thereof under cover of anonymity, while at the same time sorting through the first few love-drunk weeks while she had no opportunity to allow herself to slip and act on her urges. Then, only then when she and he- whoever he was- were able to think through the consequences of such things logically, would they consider meeting.
Prince charming was not, therefore, supposed to be a patron of her local pub. He was not supposed to fall for her, treat her gently as a friend, earning her trust and confidence until the one fateful night when he would drunkenly profess his obsession with her. He was not supposed to recover from that incident, apologising like a gentleman and earnestly stating that he would be very interested in whatever sort of friendship she would consider sharing with him.
He was not supposed to be patient, meeting her every week for months on end, sharing a gentle touch here and there but never pushing matters, never acting in any way untoward, but never giving up.
He was not supposed to be understanding when she explained that it wasn’t their age difference that would prove their undoing, should they ever get together. He was not supposed to sit patiently, waiting for he to explain why they would not work as a couple. He was not supposed to tolerate her vague deferral. “We need to talk, but not here, and not now. It can’t happen at the end of a night, with minds and feelings muddled. It’ll be hard enough clear-headed.”
He was not supposed to agree to meet her for a walk the next day.
But he was, and he did, and she found herself walking along the river with Tom, grateful for his patience and at the same time wishing she could be anywhere else. He held her hand lightly, but his grip was a solid presence- firmly real in the way that an email could never be. She met his eyes briefly to see the twinkling of residual humour there, and looked back down to hide her guilt. They hadn’t come out to meander under the dark and threatening clouds to share their usual banter, though that’s all they’d done so far. Perhaps he sensed the shift in her mindset. “What is it, little one?” he asked.
His patience was one of the reasons she’d decided to take this risk with him, though now that the time had come she’d wished he’d move the conversation on to something else-anything else, and relieve her of this duty she had taken on. She glanced up at the pregnant clouds, but even they denied her a reprieve, holding what proved to be a thunderous downpour at bay- for the moment at least.
She took a deep breath and began her confession. She started tentatively a few times, and Tom remained silently beside her, his pace unhurried and his warm grip leading her along. It was hardly an eloquent explanation, but he encouraged her with a gentle squeeze when her words caught in her throat. Before she knew what was happening, her mouth seemed to run off without her, leaking her dark secrets into the muted daylight as her better sense prayed that they wouldn’t wither and fry so exposed.
She finished, and they walked on in silence. She wanted to look to him, to seek some sort of confirmation that he either understood or that he had shunned her. Either way was better than the waiting, and yet she couldn’t bring herself to turn to him.
“Is that all?” he said at long last. His tone was neither mocking nor impatient, but gave no hint of his feelings. She chanced a glance up at him and saw his face set similarly in a pensive expression. Hish shockingly red hair stood out against the dark grey of the clouds, and had she been in a lighter mood she would warn him against thinking too hard lest his head catch fire.
He caught her eye briefly, and gave her a small smile, the well-worn lines at the corners of his eyes deepening momentarily. “I can’t pretend to understand,” he told her slowly, “but for you. . .for you I will try.”
Hardly daring to believe her ears, she stopped in her tracks and gazed up at him to see his usual mischievous smile waiting for her. “Besides,” he continued, “it could be fun.”
In that moment nature granted her the reprieve she’d been hoping for before she began, and the clouds opened up to let out large dollops of cold water. Joelle was grateful for it still. It gave her an excuse to cuddle closer to him under his umbrella. It meant that the walk was over, forcing them to take shelter. Most importantly, the cold drops cleverly hid the warmer ones that had begun to trickle down her face.
When the reached Joelle’s apartment, Tom hesitated momentarily on the threshold before giving into the wordless invitation of Joelle’s gentle tug. She busied herself with domestic tasks for a few moments, the well-practiced motions of lighting the fire and preparing tea providing a much-welcomed distraction.
As they snuggled together sharing the tea, they chatted easily, almost as though nothing at all significant had happened that day. Her once-steaming mug had grown lukewarm by the time he brought up their earlier discussion.
“I suppose if we’re going to do this, we’d best start tonight,” he proposed vaguely, allowing her to take that as she would.
“If you say so, Sir,” Joelle replied, nuzzling deeper into the crook of his arm to hide her blush and the half-promised events to come.
“Sir? I think I could get used to that,” he answered, his usual good-humour tinging his tone and making her smile. “Anyway, if we’re going to do this, you’d best reposition yourself. I’m no expert, but I doubt I could spank you effectively as you are.
It was hardly the firm “assume the position” of her fantasies, but it was a start. Joelle gave him one last brief hug before obeying his implied instruction- lest she lose her nerve and turn the precious moment into a joke. She wriggled herself into position across his thighs, trying to find a position that would be reasonably comfortable for the both of them.
She felt him caress her bottom, a feeling so similar to some of his other stolen pats when he thought no one was watching, an yet entirely alien at this new angle. She had begun to relax over his lap when the first sharp swat landed. She yelped gamely, even though she could barely feel it, and he responded in turn. “You asked for this, young lady,” he semi-scolded as he continued to spank. Her continued yelping and half-hearted attempts to escape had the desired effect of spurring him on, and before long her reactions didn’t require much acting at all. By the time he had finished, trading spanks for more gentle rubbing, her bottom was pleasantly warm. When he helped her up, she hugged him tightly in gratitude. True, the spanking hadn’t even been as harsh as some of her own clumsily self-administered swats, but it had been better, more deeply satisfying. It had been real.
“Thank you,” she whispered into his ear.
“Any time,” he replied as he continued to rub her softly. She snuggled close to him, reveling in his warmth and the anticipation of what else might yet come.