“Rules are rules, Annie. You’re going to have to learn that.”
“I was just talking!” I was repeating myself, but the point beared repeating. “That’s not anything bad. It’s allowed for people to talk.”
“Not after the lights go out.” Mrs Bolt was still kind, but she was palming that paddle like she knew how to use it. “Rules are rules, Annie. Now be a good girl and bend over.”
“I’m not a girl! I’m a woman. You don’t paddle women for talking!”
“I’m about to pull down those scrubs of yours and paddle you double for disobedience.”
My mouth fell open in dismay. It wasn’t fair. I was cornered and she had all the power. She could do anything she wanted.
“Come along Annie, bend over. Put your hands on your ankles, or knees if you can’t reach down that far.”
She spoke with a maternal drawl that made it all seem so nice and normal, as if she did this sort of thing all the time.
“Annie… last chance. 3… 2…”
The counting only steeled my resolve. I would not be goaded into obedience with numbers.
“…1. Very well.”
Mrs Bolt reached for me, took me by the arm and drew me around her desk. There was not a lot of room in her little office, but there was enough for her to sit down in her chair and pull a medium-sized woman over her lap – which was precisely what she did. Before I could make further complaint my palms were flat on the institutional carpet, my bottom high above her thigh. She did not feel hard like Kaine. There was a softness to her lap and belly that was quite comfortable and maybe even comforting.
“Now I’m betting you’ve been paddled often enough to know how to take one, so I’ll assume that your disobedience today is a way of trying to establish some kind of control…”
“No?” Mrs Bolt patted my cheeks. “No, what?”
“I’ve never been paddled. Ever.”
“Now that seems unlikely…”
“Unlikely as it is, it’s true.”
“So you’ve got a tender hide,” Mrs Bolt said. “Kaine hasn’t toughened it up yet.”
“Nor will he!”
“I think he might, considering how his fiancee managed to land herself a prison term. That seems to indicate a certain need for discipline in the home.”
Mrs Bolt wrapped her arm around my waist and landed a hearty slap to the middle of my bottom. I squeaked like some sort of small rodent, and wriggled over her thighs.
Good news, too, the final installment in the Small City series will be out later this month. Or early next month. Somewhere in there with the dates and things. And there will be a surprise. A surprising surprise. The best kind.