Anna stood in the open area of the grocery store and shivered, and it wasn’t merely because she and her friends were near the refrigeration section and her jeans had practically more holes than fabric. She always felt a bit self-conscious around her buddies. They were tall, curvy, busty, and she was anything but that. She was quite the blending of her parents—American mom, Japanese dad—petite and her chief features were her white-blonde hair and tattoos.
She loved her tats!
Also, given the rainbow coloring she’d added to her hair, little of its original color could be seen. She rather liked that, and she also loved a good beer, Guinness being her favorite, but even with ID she often had trouble buying it. At barely five feet and given her slight stature, most storeowners refused to believe she was legal. It was frustrating. So frustrating in fact that she was lost in thought debating with herself as to whether she should—again—ask Mary to buy it for her, and didn’t notice the great mountain of a man coming toward her until he filled her field of vision. She looked up, snorted, and promptly rolled her eyes.
“You’re kidding me, right?” she sneered.
He cocked his head at her. “Excuse me?”
“Gramps, come on; no way am I interested in you,” she scoffed.
“Sorry to bust your overinflated ego bubble, but I’m not looking for a date,” he said with a scowl. “I prefer ladies to girls! I merely wanted to ask you or one of your lovely friends if you know where I can find the mayo.”
“I… eep… um…” she choked out as she turned bright red.
Mary, Jane, and Alice giggled.
Anna lowered her gaze as she pointed off to the right. “Ah… I think it’s aisle seven, that’s where sauces are.”
She rather meekly lifted her eyes to meet his and felt a surge of delight to see his happy smiling face. He might be old, but he was quite the hunk, a true all-American athlete-type: solid build, sharp jaw, soft hazel eyes, and perfectly trimmed golden-blond hair.
“Thank you, my dear,” he said, giving her a slight bow and turning to go. He paused and turned back to her. “Oh, by the way, just to show you I’m not a total grump, you have truly lovely eyes. Bye now!”
He moved off before she could respond, but it really didn’t matter. Her brain was blank. He’d caught her completely off guard as she hadn’t expected a compliment. He thought her eyes were pretty? No one had ever said that. In fact, her previous boyfriends had usually ridiculed her eyes, her mouth, most especially her minimal chest, and… well, everything about her. A soft whistle brought her out of her brain cloud.
“Oooo, now that is pert and sexy,” Mary said.
It took Anna a moment to understand what Mary was referring to, and she smiled and giggled when she did. It was the guy’s butt! She had to agree, watching him walk away in his snug jeans; his office clearly did a casual Friday. His behind was small, tight, and sexy. She blinked and turned away. It was best she put that fine behind her and move on.
“Anna, you really want to leave it like that?” Jane said.
“Huh? Leave what like how?”
Jane rolled her eyes. “Come on, you were very insulting.”
“Hey, he didn’t care,” she shot back.
Alice shook her head. “No, he just didn’t show it. He’s one of those old school guys: stoic, painfully polite. He’s not going to admit that you’ve hurt his feelings.”
Mary snorted. “Yeah, especially a tiny little thing like you!”
“At the very least, go offer a simple apology,” Jane said. “You watch, he’ll be very noble. He’ll put you off, you persist, he’ll accept, and you’re back with us in like two minutes.”
She chewed her lip. “Huh, you think so? Eh, okay, why not?”
Scampering off, she had to stop and moderate her steps. She knew from experience that skipping along made her look truly juvenile and she didn’t want this guy thinking of her that way. It only took a minute to find him; he was still on aisle seven.
She stepped up to him and cleared her throat. “Ah, excuse me, sir.”
He turned, the smile returned to his face, and she felt a distinct electrical zap to her entire body.
“Ah, it’s the sharp tongue with the soft eyes. Yes, my dear?”
Her heart fluttered as her mouth went dry. “I… am… I… sorry.”
He chuckled, which made her tingle, and rolled his basket aside.
“Little one, you need to work on your diction. Focus on your words and string them together into a complete sentence.”
She blushed, which given her very white complexion stood out for all to see. “Sorry. I wanted to offer you an apology. I… I was… it was wrong—bad of me to be so brusque with you.”
“No apology necessary,” he said, waving her off. “Young people aren’t taught proper manners and respect for others these days.”
“No, they are,” she complained. “That is… I am. I was! My dad is first generation Japanese. He’s old school; he taught me well.”
“He did? Well, then why did you dishonor him by acting the way you did?”
She squirmed like a student being scolded by her teacher. “I… well… oh, okay, I’m a brat, I admit it. Is that what you wanted to hear?”
He shrugged. “Not at all; I merely wanted to know just how sincere your apology was, and now I do. Thank you, dear one, and have a good evening.”
She positively surged with delight and felt about six inches taller. Turning to go, she froze and shifted back to face him. “Ah… say, tell you what, you want to come with us? We’re going clubbing, can always find room for one more.”
His eyebrows went up as his eyes went up and down her body. “You are going to a night club?”
Always the same thing! She sighed in resignation and nodded. “Yes, I’m over twenty-one.”
“How much over are you?”
She opened her mouth to give him the usual sharp reply, but suddenly thought better of it. No, let’s see if I can make him squirm. “Guess,” she said simply, crossing her arms.
He stepped back, rubbed his chin with his long thumb and forefinger, and took a minute to study her from head to toe. She actually found this rather amusing. As irritating as it was to get constantly carded at bars and other businesses, she’d learned to deal with it, and it was fun torturing guys with her little game.
“Well,” he said slowly, still studying her. “After giving your lovely bod the onceover, I’m going with mid-twenties.”
Her jaw dropped. “Holy shit! Man, you got closer than anyone else ever has.”
“Really? What, a bit older, younger?” he said, cocking his head at her.
“Ah… almost exact, twenty-four actually. How…?”
He chuckled. “Oh, it really isn’t that hard: the face, the hair, posture. The human body gives off a plethora of little clues; you just have to be sharp enough to read them.”
“Quite the poet, aren’t you? So, you in?” she said with a grin.
“Well, it’s a nice gesture, but I have to say no. I mean, come on, you young chicks aren’t going to want to party with an old fogey like me.”
“Yeah, but you look smoking ho—I mean, you’re not bad-looking, and if you poop out early ‘cause you’re tired and can’t drink as much as us, that’s okay. You take off and we’ll keep at it.”
“That your not-so-subtle way of saying I don’t have the stamina and endurance to last the night?” he shot back with a smirk.
She pressed her lips together to keep from smiling, then said, “Hey, nothing wrong with admitting your limitations.”
“Oh, you’re on, missy,” he winked.
They set off, heading back toward Mary, Jane, and Alice, who were visibly shocked to see the old boy coming back.
“Yo, dude, none of us is her mom,” Mary said, her tone thick with sarcasm. “So, if you’re coming to tell us she’s a bad girl, one, we know, and two, there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Jane and Alice giggled. Anna blushed again. This was a common issue she faced. She’d go out with her friends and get mistaken for their little sister or cousin, or something like that. She quickly explained to her friends what was going on, and introductions followed. His name was Ryan Fleming, writer, and he was quite the friendly gregarious man. Her friends seemed to take it well. Jane snorted and Alice rolled her eyes, but beyond that they were very accepting. Anna figured they were thinking the same thing she was: he’d fade in no time, and in the meantime it was kind of cool to have such a stud with them. Yeah, he was way older than they were used to, but—as it turned out—having him at their table was very effective in keeping the creeps away.
Huh, maybe the young bucks think he’s one of our dads.
That was the situation at the Rare Duck. They had a nice table by the dance floor; they got drinks, got to chatting, and weren’t pestered by slime balls. Not that many guys hit on Anna. On a typical night out with her three friends, it wasn’t until guy number six or seven that anyone took note of her. Inside of ten minutes Mary, Jane, and Alice were twerking up the dance floor with three of the hottest studs in the place. Anna felt her spirits dry up, and then shivered slightly as a hard strong yet supple hand took hers in it.
“My dear, shall we?” Ryan smiled.
She shivered more at the sight of his dazzling teeth set perfectly in his fabulous face.
“I… um… ah…”
“Is that a yes?”
She shook her head. “Ryan, you don’t have to dance with me out of pity. I hate pity! It’s okay if we just sit—”
“No, it isn’t,” he shot back. “Now, come on; you want some fine young example of the male species to notice you? Well, you got to put yourself out there, and the best way to do that is to strut your stuff on the dance floor.”
“Don’t worry; once we’re out there I’ll sort of fade back so as to not intimidate them.”
They made their way to the dance floor and easily slipped in among the crowd, even as she cringed at the mental image of them together. They had to look quite the sight! Yet, as they danced, she was amazed to find that he was a fine dancer. He actually put her to shame, but that was easy to do—she was a terrible dancer. As she fumbled about the floor, almost knocking some people over and nearly punching a guy in the eye, Ryan reached out to her. His hands found hers; her brow wrinkled in confusion as she didn’t understand why he was doing it, and then it became clear. Somehow, she had no idea how, he was able to guide her in the steps with the merest squeeze of a finger or the twist of her wrist.
Inside of five minutes they had quite the audience and then two very fine-looking guys made their move. They closed in to dance with her. Anna bit her lip. What should she do? Then the decision was made for her; Ryan drifted away from her like a proud poppa letting his girl have her first real dance. She didn’t know if she should feel guilty or grateful. As she danced she tried to keep an eye on him, but she lost him in the crowd and flashing lights of the club. A short time later she made her way back to the table, and found him there with her friends. They were all laughing and smiling as he told them yet another of his stories.
“How did it go with your young gentlemen?” he said as she sat down.
Alice’s eyebrows shot up. “Men? Did you say men? Why, Anna, you little vixen, you actually got multiple guys chasing after you?”
“We just danced,” she said.
“You didn’t swap contacts?” Jane asked.
“No,” she said, hanging her head.
“Typical Anna,” Mary sighed.
“Is that rare?” Ryan said. “She’s quite adorable; any man would be lucky to have her.”
Anna’s heart erupted in her chest as pure joy shot up her neck and into her brain, and then she cringed at the sounds of laughter echoing around them. Her friends seemed most amused.
“Rare?” Jane said. “The girl is lucky to get one hit per night!”
Mary giggled and nodded. “She’s the tiniest, flattest little thing around, and most guys barely take note of her.”
“Yeah, she goes out with us because she knows we’ll toss her our leftovers,” Alice added.
Ryan frowned. “I fail to see the humor in ridiculing one of your friends.”
Anna smiled at both his words and the reaction of the girls; they were quite contrite.
“Ah… well… we… we didn’t mean anything by it,” Jane said meekly.
Alice chewed her lip and hung her head. “Yeah, we were just kidding; we do it all the time, right, Anna?”
“I guess. It does seem they do it a lot, and mostly to me!”
“Oh, really?” he said slowly, his eyes narrowing at them.
“Ryan, Mr. Fleming, you need to understand,” Alice said quickly. “We’re her friends; we love her; only people who are truly devoted to each other can poke fun at each other.”
“Well, I guess that’s true,” he said. “I remember Sammy Davis, Junior saying that when he got roasted on the old Dean Martin Celebrity Roast. Such a great TV show.”
“Sammy who?” Jane said.
“And who’s Dean Martin?” Alice added.
He sighed and slowly shook his head. “Oy! Now I feel old.”
Anna and the girls giggled.
“Don’t let it get you down,” she said. “I get the opposite situation all the time.”
Jane nodded. “Yeah, one time she and I went to HRS so I could apply to be a mentor for some of the foster kids, and while I was in the interview Anna sat in the hall. One of the staff asked her if she’d been abandoned and needed placement!”
He gasped as a look of total shock appeared on his face. “No, you can’t be serious!”
“She is,” Anna said with a small nod. “And dopey me didn’t have my ID with me. If Jane hadn’t finished early and come to my rescue, they might have hauled me off for processing.”
Ryan snorted as he was clearly trying not to laugh. His eyes met hers and she melted. They conveyed love, warmth, and compassion. Yeah, a real man!
“Sorry, sweetie, I don’t mean to laugh, but it is pretty funny.”
“It’s okay, and not the first time,” she replied.
“I can see that. So, Jane, did you get the mentoring position?”
She nodded as she reached for her drink. “Yup, been doing it almost a year now.”
“Good for you,” he said, grabbing his beer. “A toast to you.”
They all clinked glasses and drank.
“My wife and I fostered for almost ten years,” he said, setting his mug on the table. He smiled, and then a look of profound sadness swept across his face for a moment. Then he shook it off. “That was… before. Well, never mind. Come on, let’s get another round—on me. Waitress!”
Anna lightly chewed her lip. She now knew he’d been married and from the cracking in his voice and the pained expression, it most likely ended due to death and not divorce. Her eyes went to his left hand. There was a faint tan line around his ring finger. How long ago had he removed his wedding ring? She tried to put the question out of her mind and focus on the here and now—fun with her friends and Ryan.
They danced, they flirted, and the drinks flowed freely, yet they all kept their wits about them—no one got too drunk. Ryan was not merely a total gentleman, he truly was their protector. Some guys tried a couple of times to bring the ladies drinks; Ryan checked them to be sure no roofies or other drugs had been slipped into them. Yeah, he was a good guy, he could dance all the modern steps and hold his liquor, and when they needed to take a break he enthralled them with his stories.
“Man, you should write a book,” Mary finally said.
He grinned. “I’ll give it some thought.”
Long about midnight, Anna felt herself fading. Her feet hurt, her mouth was dry, and the third club they went to allowed smoking, which was hurting her eyes. Mary had left with Mr. Tattooed Bodybuilder at the second club, Alice was tongue fighting with some clean-cut corporate type at his table, and Jane was dancing with an ill-dressed nerd. She always did love brains.
“You look a bit done in, Anna,” Ryan said. “How about I get you home?”
“What? No, no, I’m okay. I’ve got the Lyft app on my phone.”
His brow furrowed. “The what-what? Oh, one of those taxi-type things. Now, now, a gentleman doesn’t allow a lady to go home unescorted, especially at this hour.”
“You truly are old school, aren’t you? Hey, wait a sec, I don’t need that. My apartment is only a couple blocks from here.”
“It is?” he said, standing and offering her his elbow. “Well then, m’lady, allow me the honor of walking you home.”
“You don’t want to stay? You wearing out too?” she said with a grin.
He chuckled. “No, I need some fresh air. This smoke is starting to get to me.”
“Well… okay, why not?” she said, wrapping her small hands around his right arm.
They headed for the door, even as her fingers lightly squeezed his massive forearm. He was quite muscular.
Whoa, he must work out regularly. Wonder if he’s got a solid six-pack.
A distinct tingle rippled across her thighs as she pictured him naked. She tried to push that image from her mind as they walked. The cool air was invigorating, the conversation stimulating, and as for the company—well, she did notice that every girl on the street eyed him like he was a diamond tiara they hungered to possess. As they reached the lobby of her apartment building, her mouth went dry as she tried to think of something witty to say.
“I… ah… um… would you like to come up for some… coffee?” she stammered.
He softly chuckled. “Ah, yes, the new version of the old, ‘Come up and see my etchings.’ Really, young lady?”
“Etchings? Wait, you mean like drawings or something? What’s that got to do with se—I mean, visiting?”
“Anna, do not lie to me, and don’t offer me pity sex,” he scolded. “You don’t want someone dancing with you out of pity; well, the same is true for me when it comes to intimacy. I’m older than you, not old, and I don’t need a young woman doing something she doesn’t really want to do merely to placate her conscience.”
She squirmed at his tone, yet felt a new resolve fill her heart. “Hey, who says I don’t want to fuc—have sex with you?”
He snorted. “Oh, really? You make a habit of hopping into the sack with men you’ve only known a few hours?”
She played with her fingers as she stared at the ground and squirmed, her heart racing, and then lifted her eyes to meet his. “Um… no. B-b-but you’re… different.”
That was true. In the past, she typically went out with a guy at least eight to ten times before engaging in any sort of sex, but something about Ryan connected with her heart, her soul, and she felt more at ease and closer to him than any man she’d ever been with.
“Really? In what way? And don’t just say I’m older!”
“Well… you are that, but that’s not it. You’re more… worldly, mature, ah…”
“I’m not walking around with my head up my ass just looking to get laid?” he offered.
She giggled and blushed. “Well put.”
“Something my dad used to say; said it was the basic definition of a teen and young adult male.”
“Oh, that’s good. I like that, and I bet I’d like him,” she said, laughing harder.
“He passed a year before my wife. However, back to the matter at hand: ‘coffee.’ Do you really, sincerely want me to come up for just coffee, or do you actually want more?”
“I… I do want more, and not merely some one-night stand. Can’t this be the start of a real relationship and we see how things go?”
He smiled, his eyes twinkling, and her heart fluttered as she felt her blood pressure surge.
“I’d love that too,” he said warmly, then grew stern and wagged a scolding finger at her. “However, remember that from now on you need to be honest about such things. You can’t start a relationship on a lie!”
She squirmed. “Yes, sir.”
Turning, she entered the building, Ryan behind her, and her thoughts immediately went to her ass. In their current position, her climbing the stairs above him, he was in the perfect position to focus on it, and she had to wonder if he was as disappointed in it as her other boyfriends had been. Their words resounded in her mind as she and Ryan made their way to her front door, and then inside.
“What a cute little place,” he said, casting his eyes around it. “Nice studio, eh? Just right for a single lady starting out.”
“You… like it?” she said, rather taken aback.
When her old boyfriends weren’t criticizing her body, they were ripping her about what they called her ‘dumpy little shack’ of a home.
“Hey, it’s neat, it’s clean, it’s centrally located to downtown, which puts you one up on me, and I like the little family touches,” he replied, gesturing at the pictures and mementos on the walls and shelves.
She smiled. He was the first guy ever to notice them. Then she chewed her lip as another aspect of her life intruded on their moment. She moved to her dresser, opened the top drawer and took it out, and turned to Ryan.
“Here, I want you to use this on me,” she said, holding it out to him.
He cocked his head at her, took it, flipped it over and read the letters carved into that side, and looked down at her. “You bought a paddle from the Triple A?”
“The triple what?”
“The Triple A, the American Automobile Association,” he explained.
“The what?” she said in surprise and confusion.
He sighed. “Oy, again you make me feel old. Of course, what was I thinking? People just Google directions these days. So, what does triple A stand for?”
“It’s ‘Anna’s Attitude Adjuster.’ I feel bad about my lying and… attitude, and so I think you should… use that.”
“You had a domestic discipline relationship with your last boyfriend?”
She nodded. “Yes, it was the main reason I broke up with him. He was… cruel.”
“Ah, he didn’t understand the difference between proper discipline and beating someone into submission.”
Her heart and soul positively surged. He gets it! OMG, he actually gets it. “Um… yes. So, you’ll… do it?”
He nodded, then shook his head and tossed the paddle on the bed. “Yes and no. You’ll get the discipline you need to make amends for your actions, but I won’t use the paddle.”
“What? B-but then… how can you do it? Wait, you want a ruler or hairbrush, or some other implement?”
“No, no, not at all; a punishment must be appropriate and in proper proportion to the act. In this case, especially as it’s our first time, the hand will do.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “The hand?” she squealed, then cleared her throat and calmed down. “I mean… ah, you want to just… sp-spank me?”
“Well, I’d hardly call it just a spanking,” he said firmly. “Do you accept my decision, young lady?”
“I accept, sir,” she said softly.
“All right then. Take a chair from your little dinette and place it at the end of the bed.”
She did so. “Yes, Ryan.”
He sat. The air shot from her lungs. Even sitting he was taller than her.
He pointed at the floor in front of him. “Stand there.”
She did so.
“Now, tell me why you’re going to be spanked,” he ordered.
A tingle rippled through her body from toes to nipples and on up to her head. That word—spanked—sent her mind into some sort of emotional-sexual overdrive.
“I… I lied to you about why I wanted you to come up to my place, and a couple can’t start a relationship on a lie.”
“Very good,” he replied with a nod, and pointed at his lap. “Now, assume the position.”
She wasn’t aware of her legs moving, but she slid over to his right side, and then climbed across his lap. It made her feel especially small to be in that position; her hands didn’t reach the floor, and she was so far over his lap that her legs couldn’t bend so that her feet could touch either. His thighs were firm and sinewy yet supple and giving, and his long solid left arm was across her back. Turning her head to the right, she saw the two of them reflected in her full-length mirror. She truly looked tiny across his massive lap, and he was now rolling up the sleeve of his right arm.
“Are you… going to be very… severe?” she said, her voice cracking with fear.
He smiled again, his large firm right hand coming to rest on her pert behind. “Not at all, sweetie. While lying is a very serious offense, this is our first time together, and I’m prepared to be merciful.”
“Thank you,” she said softly.
“You’re most welcome,” he said. “I’m very proud of you to be mature enough to take responsibility for your mistakes, and take the suitable punishment.”
Anna actually smiled. He was complimenting her, something no boyfriend had ever done. Her dad was always so good about that, every time she brought home straight A’s, and her mom encouraged her athletic endeavors, but the men in her life never did any of those things. Now, lying across his lap, she felt better and closer to him than any man she’d ever known. There was still the humiliation of being in that position. Never in her life had she been spanked across someone’s knee—even her parents had never done that. No, for them it was always the same: bent across a chair or bed, and then an appropriate implement depending on her offense. That was why, when she’d gone out on her own and knew she needed discipline, she got the paddle and would just bend across the back of a chair for her boyfriend to paddle her. Some had rejected the notion out of hand—and any further relationship with her—but most had taken to it quite easily.
As far as she was concerned, some took to it a little too easily.
That’s what typically led to their breakup. Yet, here she was again about to be subjected to corporal punishment. It all came back to the emotional connection between her and Ryan. She feared what was to come, yet accepted it, and felt better just being with him.