Doctor Charles Preston stood at the window overlooking the courtyard as the young woman emerged from the carriage below. His eyes widened slightly at the way the dress she was wearing outlined her beautiful figure. It was not like him to experience the kind of attraction he felt now at the sight of a future ward. He pushed the feeling aside, deciding to ponder it later over a snifter of port.
“Doctor Preston?” came the voice from behind him. He turned and smiled at the generously curved woman standing at the door. Nurse Helen Stanwick was wearing her usual crisp white uniform, the long skirt of it flowing to the floor and billowing slightly as she walked.
“Nurse Stanwick, please come in.”
“Oh, thank you, doctor, I’ve much to attend to. I wanted to let you know the young lady is here. The one from Royston? I believe you’ve been corresponding with her aunt.”
“Yes, thank you. I’ve just been watching the carriage through the window.”
“Shall I ready the examination then, doctor?” Nurse Stanwick asked.
“Yes, of course. I’ll speak with them first but we should be ready in an hour or so. That is, if they decide it’s the right place for her.”
“Very well, doctor,” Nurse Stanwick said and turned to go.
“Nurse?” Dr. Preston called after her.
“Make sure the water is a little warmer than normal. For her cleaning. You know how the new arrivals are always a bit uncomfortable if it’s too cold.”
Nurse Stanwick smiled and bowed her head slightly. “Of course, doctor.”
Charles Preston turned toward the window again and looked down to see another woman had emerged from the carriage, presumably the girl’s aunt, with whom he’d been in contact. It seemed as if she was currently being admonished by her young companion. Doctor Preston frowned and shook his head. It was a sad story; the girl’s parents had both passed when she was quite young and though the aunt had done her best, she found the girl’s spirit too much to care for and correct properly.
Another wave of strange arousal coursed through him as he watched the young woman berating her guardian. It seemed that this young woman was in dire need of a firm correction of her behavior. He sighed deeply, shaking the strange attraction from his mind, and walked out the door of his office and down the stairs.
“I demand to know why I’ve been brought here!” Priscilla Peyne shouted, wagging a finger at her frightened aunt Patricia who stood cowering in front of her.
“Priscilla, I told you, I simply can’t care for you any longer. Now that you’ve reached your nineteenth year, it’s time to make a lady out of you.”
“What does that mean?” Priscilla snapped, crossing her arms and furrowing her brow.
“It means, my dear,” her aunt began to explain, “that unless you want to end up an old spinster like me, you need to be taught how to be a bit more… becoming to a suitor.”
“Nonsense!” Priscilla replied with a shake of her head that set her curly locks bouncing beneath the hat she was wearing. “I’ve no need for a husband or anything like that. It’s all so silly!” she said, waving her hand and rolling her eyes.
“It’s not silly at all, Priscilla. The money your parents left you will soon run out and I’ve not the means to keep you without it. You’ll have to wed or…”
“I will not!” Priscilla screamed, stomping her foot on the cobbled drive of the courtyard with a loud thunk.
“Good afternoon, ladies.”
Priscilla spun around, startled by the booming voice that came from behind her. Putting her fists on her hips, she cast the man looming over them a fearsome scowl.
“I’m Doctor Charles Preston,” the man said, stepping past Priscilla and leaning down to kiss the back of her aunt’s hand. “You must be Miss Peyne?”
“Yes, doctor,” her aunt replied, giggling slightly. A shiver of disgust ran through Priscilla at her aunt’s behavior, though she wasn’t sure why. The man stood up, looked at her then offered an outstretched palm, presumably to kiss hers as well.
Priscilla felt another shudder run down her spine and settle somewhere in her belly as she contemplated the stranger and his greeting. On the one hand, she rarely tolerated men or their advances. On the other, this one had something about him she couldn’t quite put her finger on. She laid her small hand in his large palm and watched as he lowered his lips and kissed the air just above it, the whole time keeping his eyes on hers.
“And you must be Priscilla Peyne,” the doctor said, straightening and staring down at her with his deep blue eyes.
“I am,” Priscilla replied, trying to sound assured of herself. Her voice faltered somewhat. What was this odd sensation she felt suddenly? Surely it had nothing to do with the rather imposing figure of the doctor.
“If you’ll follow me inside,” the doctor said, stepping to one side and sweeping his arm toward the door, “we’ll be more comfortable speaking in my office.”
Priscilla saw her aunt move in the direction the doctor had pointed, a curious smile fluttering now and again across her lips. Priscilla felt the familiar resistance of her own will taking hold of her. Crossing her arms again, she set her jaw and waited for the other two to notice that they were not being followed. It was the doctor who turned first, as if he’d sensed there was no one behind him.
“Priscilla?” he inquired, one eyebrow raised. “Won’t you join us?”
His question stoked the rage burning inside her at the fact her aunt had brought her to this place.
“First of all, as I am a woman of a certain age, I would appreciate being referred to as Miss Peyne. Secondly,” Priscilla cleared her throat before continuing, “I have made it clear to my aunt that I won’t be staying at this place, not even for one night. I’ll wait in the carriage until you’ve both discussed how to disentangle whatever agreement you’ve come to. I’ll have none of it.”
Priscilla watched a scowl crawl across the doctor’s face. The look sent another strange shudder through her. The man looked to her aunt, who was standing beside him and looking back at him in despair.
“This is exactly what I had written you about, doctor,” her aunt said, looking like she was on the verge of tears. “The girl knows no manners or behavior suitable to someone her age. I’m afraid I’ve neglected my duties as a guardian and she’s been raised improperly.”
Priscilla felt a pang of anguish at hearing her aunt’s words. She’d realized there were times when her aunt hadn’t been happy with her, but she was unaware that she felt the situation so dire.
“Nonsense,” came the doctor’s stern reply as he pulled a kerchief from his breast pocket and passed it to the elder Miss Peyne, who’d begun to cry. “It is not a woman’s duty to correct an errant child corporally; such business falls to the father. In this case, absent of either parent, you’ve done the best you could with the girl. I see after only just meeting her that you’ve made exactly the right choice by bringing her here.”
“Oh, doctor,” her aunt Patricia sniffled as she blew into the kerchief she’d been handed, “it’s such a relief to hear you say so. It’s been a struggle, these last few months.”
“I’m sure it has. Rest assured she’ll be in excellent hands at this establishment. We have young women from all across the country, some from very well-to-do families.”
Priscilla stared in stunned silence as she listened to the two discussing her future. What audacity! They had no right to do any such thing. She was a grown woman!
“I won’t listen to another word of this!” she shrieked at the two. They turned to stare at her, but their gazes served only to infuriate her further. “I’ve told you both I’m not staying! Now I’m getting in the carriage so I don’t have to hear another word of this nonsense!”
She spun on her heel and stomped toward the carriage. As she was reaching for the door, Priscilla felt herself being lifted from the ground. Before she knew what was happening, she found herself being draped over the doctor’s bended knee.
“What are you doing?” she screamed, turning back to try to stare him down with her fiery gaze. The man had put a foot on the step of the carriage and now she was suspended there, between the door and his hulking frame.
“Silence,” came the only word in reply to her question. As she wriggled and writhed trying to free herself from the man’s grasp, Priscilla felt the strange sensation of her skirts being lifted. With a gasp, she attempted to push her hands toward her back to straighten the fabric of her dress. The heavy hand on her back prevented her from doing anything but lying still. When she felt her underthings being slipped down her thighs, she tried to scream but found she had no voice.
She heard the sound of the first heavy smack on her rear before she felt the sting of it. The sound echoed through the courtyard, bouncing off the brick walls of the large manor before floating up and away into the sky. The searing pain of the heavy hand on her buttock reminded her of how to use her voice and Priscilla emitted a ferocious shriek.
Her scream did nothing to assuage the hand that fell over and over on her rear, first on one cheek then the other. With a surgical precision the doctor found the same spot on her flesh each time, striking it with the exact weight and strength necessary for the sting of pain to grow into a pulsing current that surged through her entire body. Unable to do anything about the swift and unexpected punishment, Priscilla felt her body finally slump over the man’s thick thigh as she resigned herself to what was left of the discipline. Hot tears sprang from her eyes and raced down her cheeks as she felt her face and rear reddening, one in embarrassment, the other in pain. After a few more smacks, the spanking stopped.
A peaceful silence descended upon the courtyard; the only sounds piercing it were Priscilla’s quick sniffles as she dried her eyes of tears. To her complete mortification, she realized her rear was still exposed not only to the doctor who still held her fast, but also to the carriage driver and her aunt as well. Another flush of red blossomed on her cheeks as she tried to ignore the humiliation that welled within her.
“Now I’m not sorry I had to do that and I won’t be sorry if I have to do it again,” Dr. Preston growled from above. “Would you kindly join us inside, Miss Peyne?”
Too embarrassed to speak, Priscilla simply nodded and found herself being lowered to the ground. Her skirts fell over her backside, the fabric causing the stinging there to grow hotter. Priscilla squirmed uncomfortably.
“Good. Now pick up your drawers, put them on, and kindly follow me.”
Priscilla felt herself flushing an even deeper shade of red as she realized that her underthings were still wrapped around her ankles. Under their unrelenting gaze she bent over and pulled at them, her skirts coming up as she did. Once they were on her bottom again, she could only look down at the ground with a deep sense of shame. She followed the sound of the footsteps ahead, her anger churning as she heard her aunt’s pleased chuckle.