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Chapter One

 “Danika, come here,” Mick ordered, setting his briefcase down.  She gave him that wide–eyed frightened doe look that often softened his anger, but not this time.  She’d gone too far.  About a thousand dollars too far, and he was going to get to the bottom of it immediately.  Quite literally. 

“What, honey,” she stammered, gripping the edge of the doorframe.  “Is something wrong?”

“You bet something’s wrong!  And I’m sure you know what it is.  In fact, you’ve probably been expecting this spanking for a few weeks.  Right?”

She gulped, taking a few steps back into the kitchen.  “Spanking?  Why?  Did you have a bad day at work?”

“Oh, cut the crap.  Have I ever taken my anger out on you?  Not once in all the years we’ve been married.  Perhaps we need a long, long discussion to remind you of the rules, and the reasons for which you might find yourself over my knee?”

“No!  No, um.  Honey,” she quickly backpedaled, trying a shaky smile. 

Mick took a moment to hang up his jacket, then raked his fingers through dark, wavy hair.  It felt a bit too long.  He shook his head, returning his attention to his wife.  Her hips were a tad fuller than when they’d married ten years ago.  Her breasts were still high and firm, a testament to their childless state.  Her only pregnancy had nearly ended her life, which was quickly followed by a hysterectomy and years of depression. 

He reached for the paddle that was kept on the top shelf of the front hall closet.  Tapping it against his thigh, he strode into the living room, knowing she would follow.  She stopped a few paces away, her hands behind her back as though protecting her bottom from the pain of her much–deserved punishment.  Her eyes were downcast, a sure sign that she knew she had this coming, even if she was still playing the innocent angle.

Mick set the paddle on the floor.  He pushed the coffee table out of the way and gestured to her. 

“Oh, Mick!  No!  I mean, what is it that you think I’ve done?”  Those soft brown doe–eyes got bigger, her lips parted on a gasp.

“Did you, or did you not, put the mortgage payment on the master card?”

Danika nodded.

“Then, where the hell is the money for the mortgage payment?”

“Um, I’d rather not say,” she muttered.

“That is not an option.”

“Well, I, um….”

“Yes?”

“I spent it.”

“On?”

“It’s a surprise.”

“No, it’s not.  You have a spending allowance for gifts, trinkets, and surprises.  Anything more than that is an expense that we must agree on together.  If you bought me a gift that cost that much, I don’t want it.  I want you to return it immediately.  Do you understand?”

Tears filled her eyes.  She nodded.

“Good.  Now, come here.”

“But, I said I understood!”

“Yes.  And you still broke a rule.  The one about managing your money wisely.  About following the budget, and about being truthful.  Paying the mortgage payment with the charge card was deceitful.  As near as I can figure, you’ve got about three spankings coming.”

“No, Mick!  Please!  I’m sorry!  Honest!”

“I won’t ask you again.”

Danika pouted, and he counted a full eight seconds before she approached.  If he’d made it to ten, he would have doubled her punishment.  He drew in a deep breath and let it out.  He did not want to discipline her in anger, but she made that so challenging!  Slowly, she lowered the zipper of her snug fitting denims.  Even slower, she shimmied them down her hips, and then stepped out of them.  With great care, she shook them out and folded them, laying them on the coffee table.  He was about ready to shout, before she finally placed herself across his lap.

Her panties smiled at him.  They were yellow satin, with the familiar big black smiley face right where his hand would land.  Mick laughed out loud, he couldn’t help himself.

“Does that mean I’m forgiven?”  She gave him a hopeful grin. 

“You are always forgiven, sweetheart.  But you still have a spanking coming.”

“Oh!  You’re awful!  You’re a beast!  I can’t believe I married you!”

Mick wrapped his left arm around her, tugging her in securely.  Then he raised his right hand and brought it down sharply across the yellow satin bottom.  She kicked, which was as much to be expected.  Danika had never been spanked in her life until they’d started dating.  Her aging parents were overly permissive and tolerant; they’d been more like grandparents than parents.  Mick had been brought up differently.  His folks believed in the three r’s – respect, resourcefulness, and responsibility.  It was a code they’d instilled in their twelve children with unerring accuracy.  His siblings included doctors, dentists, a lawyer, a minister, and a peace corps volunteer with an ag–science degree.  Mick was eleventh in line, a budding young architect with enough accrued education loans to keep him on a strict budget for more than a few years yet.  The baby of the family, his sister Miranda, was still in college.

“Ow!  Mick!  Stop! Please!”

“We’re just getting started, sweetheart.  But it’s time to save these cute little panties.”  He tugged them down, baring her slightly pink bottom. 

“You know, you really should learn how to accept a gift graciously,” she snapped, kicking her legs and arching her back.

“A gift that I paid for?  Without my knowledge or permission?”

“I thought it was ‘our money’.”

Mick gave her a firm swat, and then let his hand rest on her bottom for a moment.  “It is our money.  You are my wife, and everything I have is yours.  But we have a budget.  I let you take over paying the bills to try to help you understand that budget.  If this task is too much for you, I’ll take it back.”

“Oh, Mick.  That’s not it.”

“What is it, then?”

She didn’t answer immediately.  He picked up the paddle and gave her a half dozen solid whacks.  Her feet were in the air as she kicked and struggled, but she was such a little thing.  Holding her wasn’t a problem.  Getting through her stubborn streak was, and nothing else had ever worked in the past, except a long, hard, thorough paddling. 

“Ow, ow!  Mick, stop!”

“I asked you a question.”

“What was it?”

“You’re stalling.”

“No, I’m not.  I just can’t think while you’re smacking my backside!”

Mick landed two more solid whacks, then held the paddle against her reddened bottom.  “I asked you why you chose to pay the mortgage payment with the credit card, and I’d like an answer.  Now.”

“Well, if I paid for a gift with the credit card, you’d know about it when the bill comes.  They list everything – the store, the item, the sale price – everything!   And it won’t be a surprise.   But if I put the mortgage on the credit card, and used cash – I could keep the surprise.  See?  It makes perfect sense!”

Her cheeky response brought four more paddle whacks.  Mick shifted her around, tipping her bottom up higher and exposing the tender crease at the top of her thighs.  Two more whacks reddened her there.  “You should not be buying gifts with a credit card, period.  You have an ample spending allowance all year round.  You should be saving a portion of that for gifts, and spread your purchases out over twelve months.  We talked about this last January.  I guess we should have talked about it with a paddle in one hand and a cane in the other.”

“Mick!  I’m sorry!  I forgot, and I’m not good with money the way you are!  But I’m trying!  I really am!”

That sounded almost sincere.  Danika was quite an actress, though.  Five minutes from now she might be all smiles and laughter, and this paddling would be nothing more than a distant memory.  Mick wanted to stop, wanted the punishment to be over, but he had to make his wife understand that this was serious, or she’d be over his knee again soon for the same infraction.  He clenched his teeth and delivered a dozen more whacks all over her bottom – to both cheeks and the tender sit–spot, and both thighs.  Danika bucked and kicked, her sobs growing more believable by the minute.  Finally, he set the paddle down.

She squirmed to get up, but he held her firmly.  His hand rested on her hot, scarlet bottom.

“Mick, please!  No more!  I can’t take it!”

“Are we clear about this?”

“Yes!”

“You will never pay the mortgage with the credit card again?”

“Yes!  I mean, no!  I won’t!  I’m clear!  Really!”

“Very well.”  He helped her to her feet, and then held her in his arms.  “I love you, sweetheart.  I’m sorry we had to have this conversation.  Are you ready for dinner now, or do you need to lie down for a while?”

She sniffed, keeping her eyes averted.  Her face was blotchy from crying, so Mick knew her squawking wasn’t just an act.  “I – I’m okay,” she sniffed.  “Supper’s done.  It will be on the table in five minutes.”

He kissed the top of her head.  “I love you.”  Then he let her go.

Life with Danika was never boring.  It was often one catastrophe after another.  There was incredible sex, intelligent conversation, deep, soul–searching moments, and lighthearted banter.  And, of course, many long sessions bent over his knee, which seemed to be getting longer and more frequent. It was that time of year.  Mick knew Christmas was hard for her, and he tried to be extra patient and a bit more lenient then, but some things just could not be ignored.  Anything over five hundred dollars could not be ignored!  Damn it!  The mortgage was fifteen hundred dollars!  She ought to have two more spankings just for that.  He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly.  No, this was over and done with.  He had to let it go.  But if she didn’t prove she could handle their finances, he’d have to take that task away from her.

* * * * *

Danika stuffed her feet into her snow boots and tugged on a scarf.  She glanced at her watch for the fifteenth time in the past hour.  The mail should be here by now.  She had to get to the mailbox before Mick did, just in case the billing statement arrived today.  Damn that mail carrier!  Couldn’t he just put her at the top of his route, instead of at the bottom?  She clenched her teeth, annoyed that she had seen him hovering around the coffee pot at Hansen’s IGA that morning, stuffing his face with donuts.  Their mail used to arrive by two every afternoon, but it was getting later and later, ever since old Bob Morgan got gooey eyes for Ruby Ellis at Hansen’s deli counter.  Danika’s bottom couldn’t handle another trip over Mick’s knee just yet!

Oh, he could be so stubborn!  Any normal guy would be grateful for the gift she’d gotten him.  Their old TV was beyond repair.  It was so old, that no one carried the replacement parts to fix it, and it was only a 23 inch screen, anyway.  And the color was mostly shot.  It looked like gray–tones, except when people turned sideways.  Then they had long orange carrots flicking off the ends of their noses and chins.  Watching a romance or drama was absolutely ridiculous – those orange carrots just made her laugh.  Mick didn’t seem to mind too much, but there weren’t a lot of tense close–ups in sports programs.  And NASCAR racing was pretty much black & white even on a color set.  So why was she giving him a new TV?  She was the one who really wanted it.

But watching television was one of the few things they did together any more –  when he wasn’t watching sports – and racing was over until February.  Mick sometimes watched basketball or football, but he wasn’t as addicted to them.  She could just envision Christmas Day, after the gift–giving and the face–stuffing, they’d hook up their new wide screen HDTV with surround sound, and snuggle down on the couch under a quilt, and watch “The Day After Tomorrow” again.  With a big bowl of buttered popcorn.  And a double shot of whiskey.  Yeah, whiskey.  Maybe she could manage to forget that it was Christmas.

Danika sniffed, wiping a stray tear with the fringe of her scarf.  Why did it have to be so blasted cold?  She stuffed her bare hands into her jacket pockets.  With renewed determination, she jogged up their quarter–mile long driveway.  Out of breath at the top, she took deep breaths to still her anxiety.

The flag was still up.  Old Bob Morgan had failed her again.  The bill she’d written that morning to the satellite dish company was still in the box, and the monthly statement from their master card was probably still riding the mail route in Bob Morgan’s twelve–year–old Chevrolet.  Life was just too unfair.

Well, there was more than one way to skin a cat.  She just had to keep Mick away from the mailbox.  Danika grinned, skipping back down the driveway to give him a call.  Dinner out ought to do it – and maybe a movie after that?  By the time they got home, maybe he’d be too tired to think about checking the mail.  Her grin widened.  Even if he did check it, and even if the damned statement was in the mail, at least she’d have that lovely dinner and movie to remember!  Danika flew inside and grabbed the phone, laughing at her ingenious plan.

* * * * *

“Honey, what is it?”  Mick tried to still the thumping in his chest.   When she got this excited, it could be almost anything, from something really sweet she saw on a dumb TV commercial, to someone backed into her in the store parking lot.  

“Let’s go out tonight!   ‘Breaking Dawn, part 2’ has been out for weeks! I don’t know how much longer it will be out, and I just have to see it!  I got all dressed up, and I even did my hair.  Oh, please say “yes”!”

Mick groaned.  She hadn’t seen the movie when it first came out, because her bottom had been too sore to enjoy sitting.  But he hated to go to the movies during the middle of the week.  It would be so late by the time they got home.

“Honey,” he began, with a long sigh.

“Please?  Pretty please, with sugar on top? If we hurry, we can make the early show.  Oh, please!”

“It’s that important to you?”

There was a slight pause, which should have warned him that she was trying to manipulate him, but Mick was just so relieved to hear her excited about anything.  Her grandmother – the only adult to ever show her an ounce of affection – had died on Christmas Eve when she was in high school.  Then her miscarriage had also happened on Christmas Eve.  Now they were doomed to a life alone – that was how Danika saw it. 

Mick wanted kids, sure.  What married man didn’t?  But he was okay with it now.  He’d even urged her to consider foster–parenting, or adoption.  They’d gone through all the home visits and background checks and legal issues, but every time the state called with a potential child to place, Danika had a reason why it just wasn’t a good time.  He figured the state would just stop calling them eventually. 

“Okay, honey.  I’ve got about fifteen minutes to finish up here and clear off my desk.  I’ll meet you out front then.”  He held the phone away from his ear as his wife let out a shrill scream of joy.  Mick shook his head.  Some wives needed diamonds or new cars to make them that happy.  Danika appreciated the little things.

The phone line went dead.  She’d hung up without even saying good–bye.  That was so like her.  Everything she knew about manners and social graces she’d learned from watching television.  Jarod, on “The Pretender” reruns never used words like “hello” or “good–bye”.  And what was it that dumb couple said in that tear–jerker movie she watched all the time?  “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”.  Yeah, that was a corker.   Well, manners were way down on the list of things to deal with.  Getting his wife to understand their budget was foremost.  Getting her laugh to again, to learn to enjoy life, that was even more important.  He returned to his work, shutting down the computer and clearing off his desk in record time.

* * * * *

Damien’s was crowded, surprisingly so for the middle of the week.  But then, the Dells survived on tourism.  Most of the people there were on vacation, so what day it was really didn’t matter.  Only the age of the children varied.  Every high chair in the restaurant was stuffed with a crying baby.  Mick clenched his teeth, forcing a pleasant smile for his wife’s benefit.

She babbled on, he wasn’t even sure about what.  She talked with her hands, and she bounced around so much, it was a sure thing that her bottom had fully healed from her last spanking.  He loved the way the little dimple at about four o’clock winked in and out on her chin when she talked.  Or the way her eyes crinkled up like crescent moons, her long, dark eyelashes fanning out like little arrows, her mouth a perfect Cupid’s bow.   

“Don’t you agree?”

“Uh…”  Busted, Mick thought.  “About?”

“Those poor old men?  I just think it’s terrible, that just because some guy is old, and fat, and looks good in a beard that he should be made to play Santa Claus.  Maybe he doesn’t even like children!  Maybe he doesn’t celebrate Christmas?  Isn’t that like discrimination or something?”

Mick chuckled, nodded, and let her babble on some more.  She wasn’t really interested in the rights of old men.  She just liked to talk.  Oral exercise.  If she were really passionate about it, her hands would stop fluttering about, and her voice would drop a few decibels.  Then she’d stare at him hard, her gaze never wavering.  Then he knew it was time to pay attention.  Only, he hadn’t seen her get passionate about anything for a long time. 

The last time had been when she’d passionately explained to him why she didn’t want to see Dr. Meyers again.  The mediocre psychologist claimed he could help her with her depression, but instead, he had counseled her to get a divorce.  That only through cutting her painful ties to the past, and pursuing her dreams would she ever achieve self–actualization.  The idiot didn’t seem to realize that their marriage was all part of her dreams! 

Mick knew her.  He’d known her since middle school.  He’d seen how her parents, both “self–actualized” business executives, had criticized her endlessly – whenever they weren’t ignoring her, that is.  They were too busy pursuing their own dreams, too busy to realize that they didn’t even have a marriage to save, because they’d never had a relationship to begin with.  Danika used to talk to him about how much she wanted to be a stay–home mother, to have the relationship with her own children that was so lacking in her life. 

Mick had taken her to every school dance, to every activity in their church youth group, to every community event and Christmas parade.  He was her other half so completely, that divorce had never been an option.  Danika mourned for the children she would never have.  Leaving Mick wouldn’t change that. 

Of course, he’d spanked her a few times for missing her doctor appointments before she got around to explaining all that to him.  Then he’d spanked her again for taking so long!  Mick smiled. Not all her spankings were meant to punish. Some of them were quite fun.  For both of them.

He paid for dinner, then escorted her across the parking lot to the Desert Star Cinema.  With a monster bucket of buttered, cheesy popcorn and two large sodas, he was all set to gorge himself, then sleep through the last installment of the poorly acted, slow–moving, cult chick flick complete with computer animated demon baby.

* * * * *

“Ow, honey,” Mick said, chuckling as he freed his fingers from her tight grip.  He put his arm around her, trying to snuggle her close despite the rigid theater seats.  She buried her face in his shoulder, peaking at the flying headless corpses and endless blood being splashed across the screen.  It was so gross!  And fascinating, and everything she had hoped it would be. It was as if the film director had seen into her mind when she’d been reading the novels and brought her imagination to life, for it was exactly as she had pictured it.  Except Jacob was even cuter. 

The movie had to be nearly over.  She’d run to the bathroom twice already – she should remember not to order the large soda.  The popcorn was mostly gone, only a few old maids at the bottom still swimming in butter flavoring.  It was nearly time.  Time to go home, to drive past the mailbox, and hope her husband forgot to check it.  She winced, her bottom tingling.  Nausea threatened to ruin the lovely evening.  Danika swallowed back bile, and forced herself to concentrate on the movie’s end instead of her own.

“That was something,” Mick said, as the house lights came up.  He helped her into her coat, doing up the buttons for her.  He was so thoughtful and attentive – how could she ever think he would forget to check the mail?  Another brilliant idea that turned out to be rather dumb after all.  Danika gulped, blinking back moisture from her eyes.

“Hey – what’s to cry about, Baby?  They all live happily ever after.”

His tone was light and teasing.  Poor Mick.  In a little while it would turn angry.  She’d lied.  She’d ignored his wishes – blatantly disregarded them.  And he would be so hurt.  Damn it!  She hated that most of all.  But being spanked made her feel alive.  Pain made her alive.  The time in between was all just numb.  There was something wrong with her, something terribly wrong.  It was more than just the pain of an empty womb.  It was the pain of failure.  Of being less than a woman.  Of having no real purpose in life, other than to screw up once in a while.

A light snow was falling.  Christmas snow, she once called it.  Large, wet, fluffy flakes that took their time coming down.  They landed with angel soft kisses on her cheeks.  Mick started the engine and let it warm up while he scraped the windows.  Danika kicked her shoes together to knock the snow off before it melted.  Mick climbed back in, snow clinging to his hair and shoulders.  He gave her a boyish grin – god, how sweet he could be!  She loved him. And she hated it that all she did was hurt him.

“How about some hot chocolate with marshmallows when we get home?”

“We’ll see,” she said hesitantly.  If he still wanted it then.  If the mail had come.  If she wasn’t puking.

Some of his merriment faded then.  That crease between his brows was back.  The worry crease.  Worry about her, or perhaps a bit of disappointment.  He was a brick.   Forever and for always he would be Her Mick.  But maybe, somewhere deep down inside, he was starting to resent her.  After all, there would never be any Mick juniors.

The drive home seemed to take forever.  Mick was driving cautiously, because of the snow, but still – she just wished now she could get it over with.  Finally, their Ford Escape climbed the big hill on Overguard Road and came to a stop at their mailbox.  She felt a blast of cold air as he lowered the window to fetch the mail.  The box was stuffed – fliers, advertisements, small envelopes that had to be Christmas cards from relatives she barely remembered, and of course… a few bills.  Mick handed her the mail as he closed the window.  Whistling a Christmas tune, he drove down their driveway and pulled into the garage. 

Danika was dying to tear into the mail, to see if the MasterCard billing statement was there, but she didn’t dare.  She set the stack on the small desk where she was supposed to sort through the mail and pay bills, then went to hang up her jacket.   Mick didn’t paw through the mail either.  He hung up his coat, gave her a sweet kiss, and taking her hand in his, took her straight to bed.  Damn!  A reprieve, of sorts.  But maybe it would have been better to just get it over with?

 


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