Stephanie thought about calling out to her father and reminding him that she was ready and waiting for his parental attention, but it just seemed too unlikely that he had actually forgotten. Day turned to night and night turned to day and day turned to night again as she waited for eternity to pass. Of course, in reality day and night were really just the blinking of her eyes as she looked at her naked, upside down self and wished for the embarrassing situation to come to an end, even if that meant she’d have trouble sitting for the remainder of the day. She took slow deep breaths to keep herself calm and feigning patience while listening to the sound of her father continuing to chop wood.
In the aftermath of another split piece of wood, she heard the sounds of her father gathering the pieces, but more disturbingly she heard the sounds of approaching footsteps, crunching the dried leaves laying on the grass. It was the sound boots made, not the heels her sisters and mother would be wearing. The only question racing through Stephanie’s mind was whether it Todd or Jason. She felt her face explode with the hot rush of scarlet embarrassment knowing that one of the two men would now be a witness to her punishment. The footsteps drew closer until she was certain the owner had to be right outside the shed with a clear view of her and then they stopped.
“Charlie,” Todd said, “I thought I’d see if you needed a hand, but it looks like you’re about done.”
Stephanie twisted her head to get the best view she could out the shed’s open door, but all she could see of Todd was a sliver of black pant leg. She shuddered on the sawhorse making it rattle back and forth twice and squeak the floorboards beneath her. Her face flushed hotter and her nipples grew painfully stiff at the thought of Todd looking over her from his discreet distance. The grin on his face, likely only existing in her imagination, caused her to pray for a freak gust of wind to slam the door closed.
Dad laughed. “There’s more work to be done, but I’ve already got a volunteer. Besides, Victoria frowns upon me making our guests do hard labor.”
Todd chuckled. “She sure didn’t waste anytime putting Nicole to work in the kitchen.”
Stephanie imagined her Dad nodding and smiling. He said, “That’s different, Victoria doesn’t often care what makes me frown.”
Todd said, “We’re not really guests anyway and if you can’t take advantage of family, who can you?”
“Perfect strangers are my preference,” Dad said, “especially those who’ll give me money.”
“The business is going well then?” Todd asked.
Dad said, “Sold three rocking chairs and a porch swing just this last week.”
“Coffee?” Todd asked.
Stephanie imagined him holding out a steaming cup from the coffee house in the local shopping center. It was a rare day when Todd didn’t stop there for his morning cup of java.
Her father must have taken the cup. “Thanks,” he said. “I hardly ever get a cup of this good stuff. Victoria still thinks she makes the best coffee and I don’t have the heart to tell her the truth.”
Stephanie wished she had a way of recording her father. If nothing else it would have proved great for blackmailing her father into forgetting all about the spanking she was due. Unfortunately, it’s hard to hide a recorder, or anything else for that matter, when completely naked. The idea was silly anyways, her father probably didn’t care if her mother knew he didn’t like her coffee and her mother probably wouldn’t care either.
Todd said, “Actually, today’s the first time of been there since last week’s embarrassing incident.”
Stephanie imagined an eyebrow shooting up on her father’s face. She listened carefully, eager to hear someone else’s most embarrassing moment since she was living hers.
“What happened?” Dad asked. “Did you spill hot coffee all over that pretty girl behind the counter?”
Todd chuckled. “I wished. No, I stopped in like I usually do and ordered my normal. Celia had it all made up for me and when I got the counter I opened up my wallet to pay, only it was empty.”
Dad laughed. “I guess Nicole’s been rubbing off on you. She used to spend her allowance so fast, she’d swear I didn’t pay her some weeks.”
Todd said, “Well that was just it, I had stopped at the ATM just the night before and I hadn’t gone anywhere or bought anything until right then.”
“Someone picked your pocket?” Dad asked. “Did you call the cops?”
Todd chuckled. “I dug through my pockets and found enough change to pay Celia. She was so nice about it and even offered to let me just pay her the next day, but I don’t like doing things that way.”
Stephanie imagined her father nodding.
Dad said, “Right, I know how you feel.”
“So,” Todd said, “I went straight back home thinking the money might have slipped out on the floor or something. But then I get home and Nicole is coming back with a bag of donuts and coffee of her own. She looked shocked to see me which was no surprise since I should have been well on my way to work.”
Dad laughed. “I think I know where this is going.”
Stephanie imagined her father shaking his head from side to side.
“Todd said, “Then she asks me why I’m back and I tell her about my empty wallet. Her face goes from the palest white I think I’ve ever seen to full on red. Would you believe she just lifted the forty dollars out of my wallet?”
Stephanie nodded her upside down head remembering an incident from her teen years. Nicole had lifted some money from their mother’s purse which resulted in a room by room search the inevitably led to the money being found under a mattress. Of course, it wasn’t Nicole’s mattress, but the truth came out eventually although not in time to save the two innocent daughters from getting reddened bottoms. All that made it tolerable was getting to watch while Nicole got her own bottom reddened for the theft and then twice more to make up for her sisters getting it.
“Believe it or not,” Dad said, “it’s not the first time Nicole’s been caught doing something like that.”
Todd chuckled. “I imagine that’s why her cheeks went so red.”
“We don’t take kindly to stealing around here,” Dad said.
Stephanie rolled her eyes. Stealing, wet towels on the floor, messy rooms, bad grades, incomplete chores, coming home late, and so much more than she wanted to think about could be added to the list of things not taken kindly. She didn’t take kindly to being made to wait while everyone else was doing whatever they wanted to do. Now if only that meant as much as when her parents didn’t take kindly to something, then life would start to approximate something known as fair.
Todd said, “Well I supposed I could have taken a hard line with her over it, but she had asked me to get some money for her and I’d just forgotten. So, I guess you could say we were both at fault.”
Stephanie imagined her father shaking his head. He said, “Still, taking money out of your wallet without asking and not bothering to tell you she took all your money before you left the house was not acceptable behavior. I’d have made sure she knew it too.”
Todd chuckled. “I’m sure you would have. I’ve only used that paddle you gave me once and it’s my intention to save it for the big things, not minor mistakes and misunderstandings.”
Stephanie imagined her father putting his arm on Todd’s shoulders.
He said, “It’s your house and that means it’s your rules. Just remember that the more little things you let Nicole get away with, the more bigger things she’ll try to get away with. That’s just the nature of girls.”
Todd laughed. “I’ll keep that in mind. So, who is this volunteer you found? Surely not Amanda’s latest boyfriend?”
Dad clapped his hands together. “No, no, I don’t think he’s even here yet. Our volunteer is waiting inside the shed and if she’s finally figured out how to follow instructions she should be undressed and bent over the horse by now.”
Stephanie blushed even hotter though she was unsure how that was possible. The entire time of their conversation she felt certain they were each as aware of her as she was of them. Her whole body trembled with the shame of her position and her skin felt electrically charged in the cool damp air of the open shed. She wanted to close her eyes, but the prospect of being observed by Todd and her father while she was unaware kept them wide open. Even upside down she could see her body’s natural curves and all the wobbly bits betraying her by swaying in the open air and calling attention to themselves for any who might happen by to see.
Dad said, “Let’s go see if she’s ready for her spanking.”