The mantle clock told him that she had been waiting nearly half an hour. It chimed merrily despite the late hour, or perhaps “clanged” would have been a more appropriate description. Some of his earliest memories featured the clock’s deep, methodical tocking in the background. The tocking had only grown louder over the years, and the chime had likewise began to show signs of age as it declared the passing of the hours in a steadily more drunkenly tone.
Carl smiled as he remembered the look of confused relief on his mother’s face when he asked if he might take the clock with him when he and Tara moved into their new home. He knew that she was only too happy to get rid of the thing, a wedding present that she’d felt obligated to keep on display and in working order over the years. Passing it off to the newlyweds must have seemed an appropriate way to get rid of the unwanted nuisance of a machine, even if she couldn’t fathom why anyone would willingly accept that sort of regular din.
Carl just smiled back, in true gratitude. He had come to appreciate the clock, its regular noises providing a sense of comfort and regularity- feelings that had been all too hard to come by since Tara had blown into his life. Then again, in some ways she brought plenty of consistent clamour into his life on her own.
She was breezy and impulsive and everything that he wasn’t, and yet he loved her all the same. His mother saw nothing at all odd in this, which baffled him still. Shaking his head, Carl set aside the newspaper and rubbed his temples before rising and steeling himself to confront Tara.
As he climbed the stairs to their room, he wished that he could find her there, take her into his arms, calm her, and take her to bed. She may have wished for the same, on some level, but it was not to be this night. She had asked for this, he reminded himself, and it had been worthwhile many times before. He could hardly relent now, much as he may want to. She needed a firm hand, she had said. And he agreed.
She needed this time alone, to reorient herself and to be ready for the next night. She needed the harshness in order to allow herself to feel his love. This was for her, though as he thought of the task awaiting him, he consoled himself with the fact that it was hardly an entirely unsavoury prospect.
He passed the door to their room, unopened, and continued to the guest room at the end of the hall, knocked softly, and let himself in.
She was waiting as instructed, bare from the waist down and perched anxiously at the edge of her bed. Her instructions were to prepare herself so and to think about what was to happen and why. One look at the nervousness and regret clearly emanating from her expression was enough to assure him that she had obeyed.
“Are you ready?” he asked.
“Yes, Sir.” She didn’t quite meet his eye- she never could here, no more than she could call him by his given name. Logical and reasoned as he prided himself to be, he couldn’t help but wonder if there was something magical about this room that bought out Tara’s submissive side so unfailingly. Perhaps it was the oversized bear in the corner of the bed, he thought to himself. It was a ridiculous thing, and the only personal item that broke the rather sterile atmosphere that characterises many such rarely used rooms.
He had to concentrate to keep himself from smiling at the memory of the day he had won the thing. She had been enthralled by the thing, though had given it up as a lost cause after a trio of failed attempts at the game. With the stubborn determination that only a young lover could muster, he had returned the next day on his own, tossing more little plastic rings than he could remember before finally obtaining the prize.
Carl schooled his face back to a stern expression and pushed the memory away to confront his wife. “Do you have anything to say before we begin?” he asked as he sat next to her and hugged her gently, acknowledging the change that had come over her before he had even begun her chastisement.
“No, Sir,” she answered quietly, “only that I am sorry, and. . .and I know I deserve this.”
Carl nodded, gave her a quick pat of encouragement, and helped her gently over his lap.
He was tempted to begin softly, to allow her a bit of time to adjust to the shock of the experience before trying to make his point. He caressed her bottom briefly before deciding against such leniency. She had done little enough to deserve it, and if this experience was not to be a memorable one, it would only delay a more unpleasant encounter.
Steeling his resolve, he delivered a sharp swat to her bottom. She squealed, as she always did. Perhaps she was still labouring under the delusion that a bit of fuss early on would bring the affair to an early end. He shook his head; whatever her reasoning, it would hardly make any difference this time. He matched the spank with another, balancing the first pink handprint with a matching twin on the other side.
He took a moment to appreciate the symmetry, and to allow her false whimpers to die down. When she had calmed, he began again- not as forcefully, but at a pace with which she could hardly match with her vocalisations as individual squeaks melded into a continuous stream of mewling.
It was better this way, he had decided long ago. Not only did it get the spanking over with more quickly for her, but it made it easier for him to detect when she was truly beginning to feel punished.
Sure enough, it was not long before her crying took on a different tone, one of true pain and remorse that was his cue to stop. He soothed her a moment before helping her up into a short but warm hug before tucking her into bed and making his way to the door. He dare not linger longer lest he be tempted to relent on their post-spanking ritual.
He switched out the light and had nearly shut the door when he heard Tara call to him.
“Carl?” she asked. He paused, waiting for the rest of the question, but Tara didn’t offer any more.
“What is it dear?” he asked, confused. Tara knew the rules, she had helped set the rules, and had never before called him back after a spanking. Perhaps she had the same reservations he did, though this was hardly the time for that sort of discussion.
“Could you. . . could you spank me a bit more?” she asked, so quietly that he had to strain to hear.
Whatever Carl had been expecting, that wasn’t it. He paused for a long moment before reentering the room, turning the light back on, and shutting the door behind him. He examined Tara, lying unnaturally still in the middle of the bed, her back turned to him.
He sat on the edge of the bed, waiting for an elaboration that never came. “Why would you say that, dear?” he asked softly.
“I. . . I deserve . . .I deserve more than that, for what I did.”
“Honey,” Carl began as he reached out to brush her hair back from her face, “it’s alright. you’ve been punished, and I forgive you. I’ll always forgive you.”
She turned over to face him, not quite touching, not quite looking at him; such things were forbidden until morning. “Yes, but. . . I’m not quite ready yet,” she finished so quietly that he could barely hear her.
Carl paused, torn. His hand throbbed still, and he knew her bottom must feel similarly. And yet. . . she had asked for this. She needed more. “All right,” he said with gentle resignation. “Bare your bottom again, stay face down on the bed,” he instructed as he peeled back the blankets.
Tara wriggled her clothing into the proper position, then returned her hands up to her head, grasping her pillow tightly as she heard Carl unfasten and withdraw his belt. Carl gave a small smile at her clearly visible anxiety. Did she regret her request? Had she expected him to go through with it? Perhaps she was seeking only reassurance? Tara turned her head to look at him as he stood above, her, awash in indecision.
It was a look of pleading, loud and clear in its silence, and completely different from the pleading look Tara had often given him as he approached the end of a spanking. It was a look he recognised but had rarely seen. She did truly need more.
Six, he decided, would be sufficient. He delivered the first stroke, firm and firey, and watched her bottom shift rapidly to a deeper pink. Tara gasped, but otherwise remained silent- perhaps a first for her, Carl thought.
Reassured, he continued the strapping, two more strokes to cover her bottom and another set of three revisiting the same ground. Tara couldn’t keep quiet for the final lashes, and was sobbing deeply by the last stroke.
Carl held her as she sobbed, then helped tuck her in again as her tears dried. Carl looked back at her before he left the room for the night. Tara scooted to the far side of the bed to nestle in the embrace of the oversized bear and was now nestled snugly against it. Carl smiled- even in his absence, between the bear and her bottom she would be kept warm through the night.