Rachel slipped inside her bedroom closing the door cautiously and timing its final click with a roar of thunder. She crept to her dresser and lifted her cellphone from its charger. The screen glowed to life and a flashing message told her what she expected, 1 missed call. She smiled, forgetting almost everything about her morning to that point and pressed the button to recall the last dialer.
“There you are,” Julian said.
She glanced at her closed door and spoke in a hushed voice into her phone. “Did you do it?”
Julian laughed with confidence. “Of course. She’ll be here on Monday. I’ll video it for you.”
“And Miles?” she asked. “He’ll lose the sale, right?”
“Thanks to you,” Julian said, “I’ve covered everything that’s in the program and more. Once my father sees that, he’d be a fool to make any other decision.”
Rachel’s bedroom door swung open and bounced against its stop. Her father stepped into view, staring disappointment through his spectacles. Thunder rattled the window on the other side of the room and Rachel jumped. She lowered the phone from her ear, attempting to hide it from her father’s view behind her back.
Mr. Bennett’s gaze focused on Rachel’s midriff. It felt as if he was looking right through her to the phone in her hidden hand. His voice was gruff when he spoke. “What do you think you are doing?”
Rachel wrestled her shuddering nerves to stillness, presenting a facade of calm. “Nothing,” she said. With her unseen hand, she attempted to end the call, mashing buttons with her thumb.
Her father took two long strides, closing the distance between them. He took a firm hold of her arm and pulled it out in front of her, exposing the phone in her hand. Rachel frowned, but offered no resistance as he took it. He held it up to his own ear, keeping his disapproving eyes fixed on her. “Who is this?” he asked.
The only answer was the pitter-patter of rain against the window. If he was surprised by the lack of response from Rachel or the person on the other end of the call, his expression failed to reveal it. He spoke into the phone, casually ignoring the concern flashing in her eyes. “I suppose it doesn’t really matter. Rachel can’t talk anymore because she’s been a very bad girl this morning. In fact, she’s already had a spanking and she’s real close to getting another.”
“Daddy!” Rachel protested, wide-eyed and blushing.
His stare silenced the words hanging on the tip of her tongue. She bit her lip and huffed hot air through her nostrils. He ignored her, listening instead for signs of life on the other end of the call. After several seconds of silence, he said, “She’ll have to call you back when she isn’t grounded anymore and I’m sure she’ll explain everything to you then. Goodbye.” He ended the call, turned the phone over in his hand and removed the battery, slipping it into his shirt pocket. The useless phone dropped from his hand onto her dresser top.
Still huffing, Rachel looked at her phone. “Was that really necessary?”
“Apparently you thought so,” he said.
Her gaze drifted back to meet his. “I don’t think so.”
His brow furrowed and the intensity of his stare doubled, leaving her feeling small. She bit back her lip and dropped her head to avoid his eyes. “You are grounded,” he said, “and you know very well that means no hiding in your bedroom and no talking on the phone.”
Speaking more toward the floor than her father, Rachel said, “I wasn’t hiding.”
“You,” he said, “were supposed to be helping your mother with the housework.”
Her gaze remained fixed on the floor. “It was only a short call,” she said. “I didn’t want my friends to worry when they didn’t hear from me.”
“If that was the case,” he said, “you could have come to me and made the call from my office.”
She dared a new look into his eyes. “Don’t I deserve some privacy?”
“Not when you can’t be bothered to behave,” he said.
Scowling, she sidestepped to get by her father. “Fine,” she said, “It’s not like I really care anyway.”
Mr. Bennett turned on his heel and stopped Rachel in her tracks. “Not so fast, young lady. There are consequences in this house when you violate rules.”
She huffed and turned back to her father. Hands planted on her exposed hips, she said, “Now what?”
“To start with,” he said and pointed toward the clothes hamper at the foot of her bed, “you can take that sweater off and put it away.”
Her eyes shot open wide. “Why?”
His hand dropped back to his side and he focused on her. “Because I said so,” he said, “and if I have to say it again, your bra and panties will be joining it.”
Rachel’s jaw dropped. The window rattled with another boom from the storm. She looked away from her father and saw her reflection in the window. The cold from outside crept in and grabbed hold of her. Her already naked legs felt as if they were covered in ice and she shivered from head to toe. “But it’s cold,” she said, tugging on the bottom hem of her sweater.
Mr. Bennett cocked his head at her. “What did I just say?”
“Alright,” she said, lifting her sweater by the hem, “alright.” She pulled the sweater up over her head and dragged it off her arms, wadding it into a ball in her hands. The reflection in the window left her blushing. She took the few steps to her clothes hamper and dropped her sweater inside. Looking back to her father, she asked, “Happy now?”
“I’ll be happy when your behavior doesn’t keep forcing me to discipline you,” he said. “And that attitude isn’t doing you any favors. I suggest you get your butt downstairs into my office corner before you make matters worse.”
Frowning at her father, she crossed her arms in front of her chest. “I thought you wanted me to help Mom?”
“Do you want to spend the weekend naked?” he asked.
She chewed on the inside of her cheek before answering. “No.”
He nodded. “Your behavior is suggesting otherwise. For some reason you seem to think my instructions are negotiable, but I assure you they are not. I will give you a choice however, you can either get your butt downstairs into my office corner or you can put your bra and panties in the hamper and go fetch the paddle. Which is it going to be?”
Rachel breathed her frustration in her father’s direction. His lips began to part and she decided it was time to move. “I’m going,” she said, turning toward the door. She walked out of her room, heading for the stairs and keenly aware of her father following.
Upon entering her father’s office, Rachel turned to the left and walked directly into the open corner. She fumed at the blank walls in front of her nose while listening to her father’s footsteps going around the desk behind her. The squeak of his chair when he sat was an insult to her legs that were already growing tired of standing still. She sighed and leaned her head heavily against the joining of the walls.
Her father’s chair squeaked again and she could feel his eyes staring at her naked spine. The hackles on the back of her neck raised and her skin goose-bumped in response to the proximity of the cool walls. She shivered and wrapped her arms around herself in a futile attempt at warmth.
His voice penetrated the cold with its own chilling tone. “Stand properly,” he said.
Frowning at the wall, she raised her head straight and lifted her arms to rest her hands behind her head. Both her elbows and nose touched the walls forming a nearly perfect triangle, just as she had been taught. A flush of embarrassment warmed her for a moment, but in its aftermath the cold felt colder. Desperate for a distraction she searched the texture on the walls for funny shapes. It was a habit she had learned at a young age to entertain herself while stuck in the corner.
The phone rang and her father answered. “Hello. How’s your meeting going?”
Rachel surmised it was Miles on the other end and rejoiced that her father would not be revealing her embarrassing state to any strangers, at least for the moment. She quieted her breathing and tried to hear her brother’s voice, but the splattering rain outside filled the silence instead.
Her father’s chair squeaked in a manner she knew meant he was leaning back, away from his desk. “Oh?” he asked with a tone that oozed curiosity.
She was tempted to turn her head and try to sneak a peek at her father’s expression. She might have risked it, but the prickle between her shoulder blades assured her his eyes were still fixed on her back. She tried to pacify her curiosity with thoughts of her brief conversation with Julian. Still, it wasn’t enough to know the plan had succeeded, she wanted to see the look on her brother’s face and hear the misery in his voice.
“Well,” her father said, “if you’d rather sacrifice the sale, I would understand. But, let’s be honest, she has definitely earned a sore backside and Mr. Harper’s request isn’t without merit.”
Rachel sighed into her corner. It was just like her father to allow Miles a way out of trouble for his girlfriend. If it had been her, there would have been no doubt about the consequences and no question as to whether or not the client would get their way. She almost banged her head against the wall in frustration before she remembered her father was still watching. He wouldn’t understand and the very act might make him suspicious. That was something she didn’t want until it was all over. She shifted her legs to make it seem her noises were related to the annoyance of standing in the corner and not the conversation she was overhearing.
Mr. Bennett’s chair squeaked with the rustling sounds of him leaning forward. “I thought I told you to stand properly,” he said.
She risked turning her head to the side.“Sorry,” she said, “my legs are tired.”
Her mother walked into the office, having overheard Rachel. “Maybe if you hadn’t started off the day running in my house they wouldn’t be, but then you wouldn’t be standing in a corner either.”
“That’s helpful,” Rachel said and turned back to the corner with a roll of her eyes.
Mrs. Bennett crossed the room to the corner in two steps. She yanked Rachel’s black panties down to her knees and slapped her bottom with the flat of her hand. The rain of spanks left Rachel yelping and lifting her legs into the corner only to find there was no escape. The reignited fire in her buttocks was enough to make tears sting in her eyes.
“You should probably go get Jennifer,” Mr. Bennett said. “We’ll talk later and go from there.” He hung up the phone and stood, turning his attention to the corner.
Mrs. Bennett laid on a final flurry of spanks and stepped back giving a clear view of Rachel’s freshly reddened buttocks. “Turn around,” she said.
Rachel turned from the corner to face her parents as slowly as she dared. She dropped her arms and tried to cover her nakedness. Her eyes fixed on the corner of her father’s desk, avoiding their scolding gazes. Hot blood colored her cheeks pink.
Her father asked, “Is this what it takes to silence your attitude?”
“No,” Rachel said in a quiet voice.
He nodded and tapped his desktop with his fingertips. “The evidence suggests otherwise. Don’t you agree?”
Rachel recognized the trap. Disagreeing with her father would only lead to a pointless argument she would lose. Agreeing, would only give him extra justification for his methods of discipline. She would have chose silence, but she knew from the look on his face, he wouldn’t allow it.
“Yes,” she said and looked down at her bare toes, wriggling on the floor.
He walked around to the front of the desk to stand next his wife. “It seems,” he said, with deliberate slowness, “that your little brother had the right idea this morning.”
Rachel’s mouth dropped open. She looked at her father, panic quickening her breath. A cold shiver ran down her spine at the horrible thought of her smirking little brother seeing her naked. With a pleading tone dominating her voice, she said, “No.”
Her mother smiled with satisfaction shining through her eyes. Mr. Bennett pointed at the corner and said, “Then I suggest you park your nose in that corner and stand there properly until your dismissed. And I’m warning you now, if I have one more issue with you today, you’ll be spending the next three days stark naked and sporting a permanently red backside. Am I being clear enough for you?”
She nodded her head emphatically and said, “Yes.”
Unwilling to risk upsetting her father any further, she turned toward the corner and raised her hands back up to her head. Though the room was silent she knew they were standing there watching for any signs of disobedience. She allowed the patter of rain on the window to fill the silence. It occupied her thoughts, pushing aside everything else except a wistful wish for the rain to wash away the sting in her behind.