The swan looked friendlier on its own. Elegant, as always, but less intimidating when it was separated from the rest of the herd. Danielle loved watching the countless birds glide gracefully along the river, but only from behind the safety of the cafe’s plate glass windows. Even knowing they were harmless, it still frightened her to have to walk along the river path to and from the town when the swans were there. They’d never approached her, but the threat of all the beaks wings and feathers and altogether too much fluttering was enough to quicken her steps.
The one on his own wasn’t half bad though, she decided as she perched on a flatish rock by the stream to admire him. It must be a him, Danielle thought to herself, she’d never remembered feeling this relaxed in the company of women.
No, like her newfound swan-friend, she preferred isolation to the company of her own kind. She wondered what he’d done to warrant his exile from the flock down in the main river. Did swans bicker? Did they need space, at least once in a while? She wondered if he missed the others. Peace and quiet was very nice, but did he ever get lonely here on his own? Would she get lonely?
Danielle pushed the thought from her head. She certainly wasn’t lonely enough yet to make her way back to the house. She wasn’t ready to confront the cramped, claustrophobic feeling of too many people in too small a space, and was definitely not ready to face Tom, let alone Mick and Rachel.
It had been Tom’s idea, but she had to admit that it made sense. By moving in with Mick and Rachel, they saved hundreds each month on rent- hundreds that would add up quickly enough to a downpayment on a house of their own. Danielle did miss the privacy though, not that she and Tom had many secrets anymore, though neither did Rachel and Mick. She blushed at the memory of the first time she’d come home to find Rachel draped over Mick’s knee in the sitting room, bucking and squealing as he spanked her. Even if she didn’t recognise the signs from her own personal experience, it was clear that this was no mere foreplay.
She had tried to quietly escape to her room before they noticed, but Rachel’s blush that evening at dinner told her she knew she’d been spotted. “I guess you heard that, didn’t you?” she asked as Danielle came over to help her dry the dishes after the meal.
“Don’t worry about it,” Danielle replied. “I’m sure I’m none too quiet when Tom deals with me either.” Danielle blushed herself at how easily the confession had slipped out. Still, better to say it and get it over with than for Rachel to find out when it actually happened. Besides, Danielle was a little surprised that she hadn’t been spanked in the two weeks since they’d moved. She’d tried to tell herself that she’d started a new chapter in her life as a responsible adult and that such things wouldn’t be necessary anymore, but knew she was merely deceiving herself.
Any doubt she’d had on the matter had been dispelled that morning by Tom’s glare and quite warning: “You’ve crossed a line. We’ll deal with this when I get home.”
She didn’t think Rachel had heard the warning, clattering dishes around in the kitchen as she tried, largely unsuccessfully, to make breakfast. Rachael had certainly heard Danielle’s earlier outburst thought, and had likely drawn a correct conclusion as to why had suddenly quieted.
Hence Danielle had sent herself into self-imposed exile for the day, choosing to work from the local cafe instead of her usual perch opposite Rachel at the dining room table. While most days she appreciated Rachel’s presence- so much easier to stay focused on work with someone else trying to do the same nearby- she felt that the risk of questions, or, worse, sympathetic glances, would prove too distracting.
Not that working at the cafe had gone much better. The only thing she had truly worked on was her nerves, and even the walk by the river hadn’t helped. At least there was space here, Rachel thought to herself as she stretched out on the rock, though quickly set up again, unable to find a position where the jagged edges didn’t dig into her back.
She briefly considered asking Tom to deal with her out here, away from prying eyes and ears, aside from those of her swan-friend. But that would entail revealing intimate secrets to Mr. Swan as well. Their relationship wasn’t well-established enough for that yet.
No, it was back to the house she must go, and suffer the consequences from her sour morning. Rachel had survived a similar penance, so it was possible, Danielle reassured herself as she dusted off her trousers, shouldered her bag, and turned toward home.
Tom was already there. From the front door, she could hear him in the kitchen chatting with Rachel and Mick as though he hadn’t a care in the world. And he didn’t, Rachel thought bitterly. His arse wasn’t the one in the firing line.
But then again, he would still be deeply involved in what was to come, in the intimate, embarrassing, correction that would be delivered in earshot of their housemates. He was involved in Rachel’s tantrum that morning, bearing the weight of her sleep-deprived wrath. He had been there as Rachel tore into him, drudging up past quibbles and errors that had no reason to be aired in the semi-public of the shared house. He had remained calm, controlled, and allowed her tirade to wind itself down before pronouncing sentence- sentence that he knew full well would lead to yet another earful for their housemates, yet another private secret shared.
But it was necessary. It was deserved. Tom was willing to deliver, and Danielle had to find the courage and humility to submit.
Danielle walked to the kitchen slowly, trying to compose a suitable apology for her actions that morning- actions which had affected each of the house’s inhabitants.
“Tom?” she uttered quietly but clearly as she entered the kitchen. “Sorry I’m late. Could we take care of this now?” Danielle cringed. Not the heartfelt admission she’d hoped to deliver, but it was all she could manage.
The conversation stopped, Rachel and Mick becoming suddenly, intensely interested in their tea as Tom looked up to regard her. In the brief moment of eye contact before Danielle dropped her gaze to her feet, she saw his realisation at what her words implied. “Now?” he asked.
Danielle nodded, unable to reply as the first of the tears choked her. The next she felt was Tom’s presence at her side, gently guiding her into the sitting room, softly closing the door behind them. He tipped her chin up to meet his gaze. “Are you sure?” he asked. Again, Danielle could only nod, and placed herself across his knee as Tom sat on the sofa.
“I was going to wait until this evening. I’d spoken to Mick, asked if he might take Rachel out for a bit. Though I suppose it doesn’t matter- they would know either way. Still, this is very brave of you. I am proud of you,” Danielle’s heart warmed at his words, even as the butterflies in her stomach grew even more agitated at the thought of what was to come.
After all the anxiety, all the build-up, the spanking itself was almost a let-down. Tom’s hand bounced crisply off her bottom, making much noise but leaving very little sting. Danielle could almost have relaxed into the moment, if not for the realisation that only a paper-thin wall separated her punishment from MIck and Rachel in the next room.
It was shame, more than pain, that loosened her flow of tears into wrenching sobs as she gave herself over to the spanking. She laid still over Tom’s lap, with none of her usual wriggling, even as Tom increased the pace and strength of the spanking near the end. Still nowhere near the severity she had been expecting from a punishment, the last volley left her bottom a deep shade of pink that would twinge in a silent reminder for the rest of the night.
Her cries were far from silent, however, having grown in volume to surpass the spanks. After a day of worrying about how to muffle the sounds of the spanking from her housemates, she’d never imagined that she would let herself cry so freely.
It took most of an hour in Tom’s arms before she felt enough like herself to chance speaking again. “Thanks,” she muttered. Not all of what she’d intended to say, but she was not quite ready for the rest of the discussion.
“Thank you as well,” Tom replied as he hugged her tighter. “I’d been worried about this, worried about your reaction, about what Mick and Rachel might think. I shouldn’t have been. You can be a right brat sometimes, but, deep down, you are a wonderful person and have never shrunk from accepting responsibility and repercussions from your actions.”
Danielle tensed a bit at the mention of their housemates. In the closeness that had followed the spanking, she’d nearly fogotten their presence. Now that she’d been reminded, the clattering from the kitchen told her very clearly that they’d been there the entire time, that they’d heard. . ..
“I suppose we should go explain.. .” she started.
“No need, I expect they understand,” Tom replied. “Though we should get back to the kitchen. By the smell of things, they have dinner nearly ready.”
Despite her embarrassment, Danielle couldn’t help but smile as she caught a whiff of Mick’s famous stew, and let Tom help her to her feet and lead her to the kitchen.
The table had been set, and Mick and Rachel smiled as they entered. “About time!” Mick greeted them cheerfully. “We’re just about finished- take a seat, if you can,” he finished with a friendly wink.
Danielle blushed, but Tom’s good natured chuckle helped put her at ease and she managed a small smile in reply.
Before she made it to her chair, Rachel intercepted her with a warm hug, which Danielle returned wholeheartedly. Isolation was refreshing, but hugs were better.