Lily looked at her watch. If she started now, she should be able to finish the rest of the manuscript before her husband got home. She nodded to herself and pushed the door to her little house open before quickly darting inside. She almost tripped over her orange tabby cat. She gave the chubby feline an affectionate pat and scratch on the head before crossing the house to the home office she shared with her husband.
She may have successfully dodged her cat on the way to her office, but she was too busy checking her email on her phone to notice the laundry basket in the middle of her living room before it caught the edge of her foot. She let out a sound between a gasp and a scream as she hit the floor. Kovu came bounding over to her and rubbed the side of his face against hers, the tip of his tail sliding under her nose. Lily moved him away half-heartedly and sat up, looking around her home with a grimace.
She and her husband Caden had been talking about cleaning up their two-bedroom home for weeks. There never seemed to be time for that with the two of them working full-time. Lily sighed as she collected the clothes that had fallen out of the laundry basket and moved it to the side before making her way to the office.
She loved working as an editor, but it did keep her busy. Their little home was getting more and more cluttered by the day. They were able to keep walkways clear of stuff for the most part, but it was getting more difficult to move around all the books, papers, and other items that were strewn all over the house.
Even their weekends were busy. Their respective parents lived a half hour away from them, so weekly visits were expected. They finally had a schedule down where they visited his parents on Saturdays and hers on Sundays. And, there always seemed to be some other errand that took up the rest of their weekend, like taking the car in for an oil change or stopping by the bank. Their to-do list seemed to never end.
Lily smiled softly when Kovu jumped up onto her lap as soon as she was settled in her desk chair. It was a busy life, but it was her life. It was the life that she and Caden had built together. She couldn’t help but giggle a little bit when she thought about meeting 21-year-old Caden. They had met at the local university; she was studying English literature and he was studying mechanical engineering. The library had been crowded right before finals and Caden had offered her a seat at the table where he was studying. Lily remembered falling for his easy-going smile and bright eyes immediately.
They had had a year left before graduation at that point, and had gotten married a month after the ceremony. Although they were barely making ends meet at that point, they were happy simply because they were together.
It took a few years, but they were both eventually able to acquire decent jobs; him at a company that made special equipment for the military and her at a publishing company that specialized in young adult novels.
They both worked a lot, but she wouldn’t trade anything. She finally had everything she needed: a loving husband, a comfortable home, and a job she enjoyed.
She scruffed Kovu between his ears before cracking her knuckles and turning on her computer. No, she wouldn’t trade this life for anything, even if it was busy.
Twenty-six-year-old Caden Foster lugged his work bag out of his silver car before approaching his house. It was a small, modest home that was built back in the late eighties, but he and his wife loved it all the same. They didn’t need a huge home anyway, since it was only the two of them, for now at least.
Without having to look down at all the stuff piled around their home, Caden maneuvered to the kitchen. His stomach grumbled loudly as he rummaged around for something to eat. Their fridge was basically empty, except for some mustard and an almost empty pack of bologna. Caden sighed and shut the fridge and put his hands on his hips as he looked around the room.
He wasn’t unhappy, exactly. On the contrary, he was grateful and ecstatic that he and Lily had their own place and a healthy marriage. They had a busy life, but it was still a good life.
He admitted that they might have rushed to grow up a bit, staying in to study on Saturday nights during their college days instead of going out with friends. The motivation to graduate and get decent jobs so that they could afford to live together had been overwhelming at the time.
He could never forget the shocked look on Lily’s face when he proposed just three days after they graduated.
“You don’t have to do that, you know,” she had said, her chocolate brown eyes wide.
“I know that,” he said, slightly affronted. He had even taken his glasses off so nothing was between their gazes. “I wouldn’t have asked you if it wasn’t purely because I wanted to.”
“When?” she had asked, her gaze unwavering.
He hadn’t expected that question. “Oh, um, whenever you want to, I guess.” He looked away from her then, pondering. “Maybe next year?”
A slim finger went to her chin as she mulled that over. “How about next month?” she suggested.
It was Caden’s turn to widen his eyes. “Next month?” he repeated in shock. “Wouldn’t it take longer than that to plan a wedding? We’d probably have to save up to have a decent one, too…” He grimaced. She didn’t want to take out a loan for a wedding, did she? They both had entry-level jobs lined up, but it wouldn’t be enough to live off of and save for a nice wedding.
She leaned in close to him then, staring at him from under her lashes. They were in his new 500-square-foot studio apartment, just chatting about the future before he had sprung the question on her. “I don’t need a big wedding,” she said slowly and deliberately. She crawled on top of him and pressed her lips to his. “All I need is you, a few of our closest friends and family, and the bare minimum necessary to make it legally binding.”
After staring up at her in absolute awe, he chuckled. “Deal.”
Caden shook his head as he was brought back to the present. His first bare, pristine apartment had disappeared and had been replaced by their much larger, and much more cluttered home. It wasn’t just the state of their home that fell apart when they started to work more. They barely found time to grocery shop and tended to eat out the majority of the week. Caden lowered a hand to his mostly flat stomach, feeling a bit more extra meat around his waistline than he wanted. That had not been there a year ago.
He and Lily were mainly happy, but that didn’t mean that things couldn’t improve.
With that resolve settled, Caden left the kitchen in search of his wife. He knew where she would be. Her work had gotten busier over the past month and she had been bringing it home with her. The office door was open a crack and he pushed it open.
“Welcome home!” Lily chirped from her desk. She didn’t turn to look at him though, just paused briefly in her typing to deliver the greeting. “How was work today?”
Caden frowned. “Not too bad,” he said casually, crossing the room to stand behind her. “How was your day?”
“Busy,” she sighed, still not looking at him and staring intently at her computer screen. “I have quite a few manuscripts to catch up on.” She raised her arms up suddenly to stretch.
Caden’s frown deepened. He set his hands on her shoulders and began to rub them through her work blazer. How had he not noticed that she seemed smaller, like she had lost some weight. “What did you eat today?”
Finally, Lily seemed to forget about her computer. She lowered her hands to Kovu, who was curled up on her lap, fast asleep and oblivious to the conversation. “Um, a banana.”
“A banana,” he repeated in a flat voice. “What else?”
Lily was quiet, her shoulders tensing.
“Lily,” he sighed. He lifted a hand off her shoulder so he could pinch the bridge of his nose. “Please tell me that that’s not all you ate today.”
She whirled around in her chair then, causing Kovu to look up at her with what looked like to Caden an irritated look, before jumping off her lap and running from the room.
Her expression was angry. “I was busy today, okay?” she snapped.
Caden matched her expression, his jaw tightening. “No, it’s most definitely not okay,” he told her. “It doesn’t matter how busy you are. You can’t go a whole day eating nothing but a banana.” He took a deep breath. He didn’t want to start this conversation angry. He tugged lightly on her wrist. “C’mon. You need to eat.”
Lily hesitated briefly. She was hungry, but she wasn’t going to go eat after being ordered to like that. She set her chin stubbornly and glared at her husband. “In a minute. I need to send this email.”
Caden’s eyes narrowed. “Is it absolutely vital that you send it right now?” he asked, trying not to make his tone demanding.
Lily detested lying, so instead she avoided the question. “I would like to send it now.”
Caden pulled her up easily. She had definitely lost weight, he decided. She was way too easy to lift with one arm. “You need to eat,” he repeated, taking her hand and leading her from the room.
Lily fought feebly, tugging on the hand that Caden held in a firm grip. She allowed him to sit her down at the kitchen table mostly because she was shocked by his behavior. He wasn’t normally so pushy.
Their relationship was a cause of great amusement to those that knew them well. Caden was a laid back guy by nature and usually went along with whatever Lily wanted. There were some exceptions of course, like back in college when Caden had learned that Lily had cut one of her classes. It was the first time since they began to date that Caden raised his voice at her. She had been shocked, a little frightened, but also really turned on.
Lily watched her husband now, as he rummaged through their nearly empty kitchen cupboards and refrigerator. A few minutes later, he sat beside her with two bologna sandwiches. He placed one in front of her and when she didn’t pick it up immediately, he looked her right in the eye. “Eat,” he ordered in a curt, firm voice.
She obeyed, picking up the sandwich and nibbling a bit on one corner, her eyes never leaving Caden’s stiff form.
Her voice was perplexed but also filled with wonder. “Are you mad at me?”
Caden narrowed his eyes, making Lily’s heart leap into her throat. “I’m upset with you for barely eating today,” he told her. “This isn’t the first time it’s happened either, is it?”
Lily looked down at her plate. “No.” Caden had gotten mad at her for skipping meals in the past.
Caden nodded, acknowledging her admission.
They ate in silence for a while. When he finished his sandwich, he pushed his plate to the side and reached across the table to take Lily’s soft hands. “I’m not just upset about you not eating. There’re some other things I think we need to discuss.”
Lily looked up, alarm spreading across her face. “Is something wrong?” she asked.
Caden kissed the back of her hands, across her knuckles. “No, my love,” he said soothingly. “Just some things that I think we could do to improve our marriage. That’s always a good thing, right?”
Lily nodded hesitantly, wondering what could need to be changed.
Caden kissed her forehead, let go of her hands and gestured to her half-eaten sandwich. “Finish eating and then we’ll talk.”
Lily did so quickly, anxious about the coming conversation.
Once they cleared a spot on the couch to settle on, Caden cleared his throat. “Now, you know that I love you and I love the life that we have together.”
Lily nodded slowly. “I love you too,” she told him seriously. She tilted her head up to kiss him and Caden obliged without hesitation, cupping the side of her face with one hand, and deepening the kiss.
Lily grinned at him shyly when they pulled away, fully confident now that their marriage
was in no danger.
Caden smiled softly at her before his expression became serious. “It’s no secret that the house has gotten out of hand,” he said. He paused when Lily’s face twisted up with anger.
“You know it can’t be helped with how busy we are,” she snapped. “I do the best I can, cleaning here and there when I can find a second.”
“Lily, watch your tone,” Caden warned. He placed a firm hand on her thigh and squeezed, silencing her. “I’m not blaming you. I’m well aware that we are busy and it’s near impossible to find time for grocery shopping and chores, but we need to do something about that. We can’t keep living like this.”
Lily’s eyes narrowed. “Living like what?”
Caden brought his hand down on the front of her thigh sharply, eliciting a startled squeak from his wife. “You know what I’m talking about,” he said, starting to grow a bit impatient. “This house is a mess, we’ve been eating out too many times during the week, and you are starting to lose too much weight because you’re overworked at your job.”
Lily shook her head. She knew all these things deep down, but couldn’t believe Caden was confronting her about it in this way. They’d been living this way for months. Why was he suddenly acting like it was some huge issue? “What are you proposing, exactly?” she demanded, fearing that she already knew the answer.
His eyes were gentle as he answered. “We’ve been talking about starting a family soon.”
Lily pulled away from him suddenly, standing so that she could tower over him. “And what does that have to do with anything?”
Caden ignored her tone this time. “We’ve already discussed the possibility of you staying home,” he said calmly. “That you staying home would be best for our future children and for our family in general.”
Lily set her chin stubbornly. “Yes, and I agree with that,” she said. “But I’m not pregnant yet, so there’s no need for me to stay home yet.”
Caden nodded in understanding. “Yes, that’s true that we aren’t having children just yet,” he allowed. “But that doesn’t change the fact that we need to change the way we do things around here.”
Lily’s stubborn expression didn’t change. “Well, maybe you should be the one to stay home then,” she challenged.
He couldn’t ignore her tone that time. “Lily, speak with me respectfully,” he said, his voice laced with warning. “You know I make more money than you and even if I didn’t, we’ve already discussed our roles in this marriage, haven’t we?”
It was a conversation that they hadn’t had time to revisit in the past several months and Caden regretted that now. Lily had fought the idea when it had initially come up just a week before their wedding. Caden had revealed his desire to lead in their relationship. Lily was naturally headstrong and stubborn so it took some convincing, but she had been able to tell how much it meant to him and had secretly liked it when he took charge and made the final decisions. It had taken a lot of pressure off of her.
“Yes, we did,” she admitted. “I’m sorry, I do want you to lead in our marriage, I just can’t imagine being home and doing nothing. I don’t know if I have what it takes to be a housewife.”
Caden’s heart swelled with compassion at the softness his wife was showing him. He tenderly wrapped his arms around her, pulling her down so she was sitting in his lap. “I know you’ll be a great little housewife,” he said.
He meant it, too. Lily appeared tough on the outside and he loved that side of her, but she also had a softer side that loved to cook and clean. Plus, he was already growing hard at the image of his little wife in short skirts and aprons.
“Plus, I’m going to help you,” Caden assured her. “I promise I’m not going to be the type of husband that expects you to do all the housework.”
Lily’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion. She set her hands on his chest so she could look into his eyes. “But if you’re making all the money, shouldn’t I be doing all the housework?”
“Maybe most of it,” Caden said, nodding. “But it’s still my job to take care of you, so you shouldn’t be doing more than you can handle. Understand? I’m off two days out of the week, I should be able to handle some of the chores as well.”
Lily nodded hesitantly. Caden could tell that she was still concerned so he cupped her face in his palms.
“I know this is going to be good for us,” he said, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “I know you enjoy your job. Just because you would be quitting for now doesn’t mean that you can’t go back to working in the future if you want to. I value your happiness above just about anything, so if you’re going stir crazy from being home all the time, we’ll figure something out, okay? Let’s just try this for now.”
Lily’s answering smile was bright. She had known that Caden would never force her into anything she truly didn’t want deep down, but this was still such a drastic change. Suddenly overwhelmed by his attentiveness toward her, she snuggled against his chest, pressing her face into the crook of his neck.
Caden held her tightly to him, just enjoying the feel of her body against his. They had come such a long way since the day they met in their university library.
“You know this means that I’ll be more strict with you as well,” he murmured into her ear, his arm snaking around her waist.
Lily stiffened slightly against him. “What do you mean?”
“We’ve been so busy with work that I’ve let a lot of things slide in the past several months,” he said. “That’s going to change as well. From now on, you will no longer get away with giving me attitude, being reckless, or not taking your health seriously. Understood?”
It had been a while since she uttered the words, but it came back as if it had only been yesterday. “Yes, sir.”
Caden smiled, pleased that her submission seemed to come back so naturally, but he also knew better. He knew that Lily had a frequent fighting spirit that would rear itself. When she didn’t want to do something, she became a stubborn brat.
He didn’t mind though. He loved the fight in her.
Kovu rubbed his face firmly against Lily’s legs as she poured his food into his cat bowl.
“You’re the most impatient cat ever,” she said fondly as she set the bowl down and watched with an amused grin as the orange and white tabby immediately began to inhale the kibble.
Lily’s grin turned into a grimace as she reluctantly straightened and looked around her small home. She had been up for a few hours now and wasn’t sure what to do.
Time passed quickly. The day after she and Caden had discussed that she would begin to stay home, Lily had put in her two weeks notice. She had thought that she would be more upset about leaving, but she was pleased to actually feel relieved. Now that she was quitting her job, she could look at her job at the publishing company from a new perspective and realize she had been overworked.
It was her first day at home. After Caden left for work, she had slept in for another half hour, not realizing how much sleep she was lacking. Caden had warned her before he left that she shouldn’t overwork herself. Lily had just giggled in her half-asleep state.
When she made herself an egg white omelet and a side of fruit, she also realized that she hadn’t been eating well lately. She would normally skip breakfast altogether because she was too stressed about work to eat. When was the last time she had eaten a healthy breakfast? She furrowed her eyebrows as she tried to remember. Normally, on the weekends, she and Caden slept in and skipped breakfast altogether. When they did get up before noon on a weekend, they opted for oily fast food breakfast sandwiches.
Lily finally wandered into the living room and decided it was as good a place to start as any. She picked up a jacket that was lying on the back of the couch and turned to go to the coat closet and immediately tripped over a pile of books. She miraculously caught herself and groaned with frustration. It was a wonder neither of them had broken a bone yet from tripping over all the hazards on their floor.
Maybe Caden had been more right about their lifestyle than she had realized, Lily thought to herself as she tidied the living room. When she and Caden were off from work, they spent their time recuperating from work, or out doing errands, or visiting relatives. It was a wonder they found any time for one another, let alone household chores.
Kovu followed Lily around for a while, clearly confused as to why she was home. Lily laughed at his concerned little face as he looked up at her with big green eyes. She sure felt out of place as she wandered around the house, but she felt strangely like this is where she wanted to be as well.
She was putting books onto the nearly empty bookshelf when her phone vibrated urgently. Lily panicked for a moment, thinking it might be a work call, only to remember that she was no longer employed. A picture of Caden’s face appeared on her screen and she picked up eagerly.
“Hi,” she chirped into the phone.
Caden’s chuckle on the other end immediately filled her with warmth. “Sounds like you’re doing well, love,” he said.
Lily’s cheeks heated up. She didn’t know why his reaction made her suddenly feel shy. “How’s work going?”
“It’s going okay,” he said, clearly distracted for a moment as he thought about work. She could feel his grimace on the other end. “I have a big meeting after lunch. Hopefully, it goes well.”
“I’m sure it will,” Lily assured him. “You’ve been preparing for it for the last week, right? I think you’ll be okay.”
“Thanks, love,” Caden said. His voice took on a stern tone then. “How are things going at home? You’re finding time to rest, aren’t you?”
Lily frowned. She hated feeling coddled. “I slept in a little after you left,” she said, trying not to sound defensive.
“That’s good,” Caden told her. “Just remember I don’t expect the house to look spotless on your first day at home. Have you eaten lunch yet?”
Lily sighed. Caden had made it clear that she was no longer allowed to skip meals. Forgetting to eat wasn’t a valid excuse either. “Not yet, but I will. Now would you please stop checking up on me like I’m some kind of child?”
“Watch your tone, Lily,” Caden told her. “I’m allowed to check up on my wife. I want to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. You working from home isn’t just so we can keep up with the housework. You’ve been running yourself down because of work and you need to start resting regularly.”
“I know,” Lily muttered. “I’m not overdoing it, Caden. I promise.”
Lily could hear his skepticism. “Okay, I believe you,” he said finally. His tone brightened, then. “Hey, maybe we can go grocery shopping when I come home from work tonight.”
Lily’s eyebrows rose in surprise. “No, it’s fine,” she said. “I can go on my own. You’re going to be tired from work.”
“No, I’ll be fine,” Caden said. “I think I’ll even be able to get off a bit early, so I’ll take you.”
Lily could tell by the hard edge to his voice that she wasn’t going to be able to sway him, so she reluctantly accepted his offer. Caden once again warned her to eat and rest before hanging up. Lily tossed her cell phone onto the couch with a frustrated grunt.
She knew she should be touched by his concern for her well-being, but she was mostly annoyed. She was annoyed that he thought she couldn’t be trusted to do simple tasks like make herself lunch and go to the grocery store. She wasn’t a child; she knew her limits. If she got tired, she would lie down for a bit. She didn’t need her husband to tell her when to rest.
She grit her teeth when her stomach grumbled, wandering into the kitchen to make a sandwich.
Caden watched his wife out of the corner of his eye as they drove to the nearby supermarket. Her hands were clenched into fists on her lap and she was staring out the window. Something was definitely bothering her and he had a couple ideas of what they could be.
He decided not to push her on the matter. She had been overworking herself for nearly a year. It was going to be quite a transition for her and he knew that he had to be patient and understanding.
“The house is starting to look really good,” he told her, hoping the praise would loosen some of her tension.
It worked slightly. Caden watched as Lily’s shoulders relaxed a little bit. “Thanks,” she muttered.
They were silent the rest of the short ten minute drive to the grocery store. When they parked, Caden got out quickly to open Lily’s door for her. He didn’t understand the borderline scathing look she gave him as she stepped out. He raised an eyebrow at her, hoping she would read the clear warning in his expression, but she stalked off toward the store without a word. Caden easily fell into step beside her with his longer strides and scooped her hand up in his. She didn’t even flinch, allowing him to take her hand.
When Lily grabbed a cart and placed her purse in the child seat, Caden stepped up behind her and placed his hands over hers, wrapping his arms around her so that she was in between him and the cart. She stiffened against him and he frowned before dropping a kiss to the side of her neck.
“Caden, not here,” she hissed between her teeth. “We’re in a grocery store.”
Caden took advantage that she couldn’t see him since her back was to him and grinned. He didn’t fully understand her tension, but he couldn’t help but find her grumpiness cute. He decided that playfulness was the way to deal with her.
“Maybe I want others to see,” he murmured mischievously into her ear. He nibbled at her earlobe lightly, making her breath hitch. “All they’ll see is a naughty little housewife being taken care of by her husband.”
“Well, maybe I don’t want them to see that,” she snapped, keeping her voice low so as to not attract attention.
Caden’s hand snaked down to the back of her skirt then. He was tempted to smack her firm behind, but settled for just resting his hand over it. “Your tone, Lily,” he said, his lips still at her ear. “You’ve been having a hard time controlling it lately and I’ve been very patient with you. This is your last warning. Understood?”
He finally got the response from her that he was looking for. She looked over her shoulder at him, her eyes were wide and apologetic. “I’m sorry, sir. Please.” She took a step back, placing her back flush against him to hide his hand on her bottom. “I’m just a little tired, I think. I’m fine now.”
Caden didn’t really believe her, but he took his hand off her bottom and placed it back over her hand that was still gripping the cart handle. He felt Lily relax again.
The two always enjoyed grocery shopping together. They had gotten so busy that any time they got to go, they would make a date out of it. They often made a game out of it, splitting the list and seeing who could finish grabbing all of their items first. Mostly, it was just fun being able to spend time together.
Caden was so used to seeing Lily in her work attire of tight pencil skirts and blazers that he always stared at her openly when she wore her more casual flowy skirts and blouses. He loved her tight skirts because of the way they accentuated her shapely hips and round bottom, but the bright cotton skirts had their own charm. The way they swished and danced around Lily’s legs was almost more alluring, as if they were teasing him and begging to be lifted up.
Lily was in no mood to play games this time, so Caden silently pushed the cart down each aisle with Lily’s back pressed against his front. She would go retrieve the items on the list while he waited. Each time she returned to her place between him and the cart, he bent to smell her hair and kiss the top of it.
It seemed like it was going to be a painless shopping trip until they made it to the cereal aisle.
Caden was scrolling through his phone by the cart before he realized that Lily was taking a bit longer in this particular aisle for some reason. He looked up and found his wife struggling to reach a box of cereal that was on one of the higher shelves. He made his way over to her and wordlessly grabbed the box she was reaching for and handed it to her with a teasing grin.
“I was ten feet away from you,” he said, pecking her on the cheek affectionately. “Is there a reason you didn’t ask for my help?” He wouldn’t have minded watching her try to reach for things for hours, though.
“I could have gotten it,” Lily said heatedly.
Caden sighed and after putting the box in the cart, he turned and set his hands on his wife’s shoulders. He peered down at her, growing tired of her coldness. “What’s wrong, Lily?”
She just shook her head and refused to look at him.
Caden sighed again, deeper this time, and grabbed Lily’s wrist. “C’mon. We’re going home now.”
Lily stared at him in shock. “But, we haven’t gotten everything on the list,” she protested, tugging against his hold on her.
Caden just led her gently back to the cart and began to push it toward the checkout lines. “You’re clearly not feeling well. We got most of what we needed. It’ll be plenty to last us the next week or so.”
“Why are you doing this?”
Caden frowned but continued toward the front of the store. “Doing what?”
Lily pushed herself out of his hold and backed away from him, nearly bumping into a stand piled high with packs of paper towels. “Why are you treating me like a child?” she demanded.
Caden pulled the cart out of the middle of the aisle they had been walking down and approached his seething wife. He ushered her out of the way of the other shoppers, who were paying them no mind, thankfully.
He turned to her and firmly took her chin in his hands, bending so he could whisper in her ear. “Maybe I need to treat you like a child sometimes.” He let her go when she started to pull away from him.
Lily’s lips tightened, a sure way to tell that she was angry. “I don’t need to be treated like a child.”
Caden shook his head. “I’m just worried about you, love,” he said, his tone apologetic, but also frustrated. “I want to get you home so that you can rest. You seem run down.”
She turned away from him, crossing his arms. “I told you that I’m fine,” she snapped. “I know myself better than you do.”
Caden exhaled through his nose, trying to calm himself. “I’ve already given you your final warning regarding your tone, haven’t I?”
He watched as Lily’s back stiffened even more than it already had, but she stubbornly kept her back to him.
He hardened his voice. “Lily.”
Finally, Lily glanced over her shoulder at him and muttered a barely audible, “Yes.”
Caden stepped up to her and bent so his lips were at her ear. He also grabbed onto her wrist firmly. “Yes, what?”
He was pleased when her tone went from defiant to somewhat fearful. “Caden,” she whined, taking a step away from him.
His voice was firm. “Yes, Daddy.”
Lily gazed up at him in shock, but she repeated him in a shaking voice. “Yes, Daddy.”
Caden nodded and wrapped his hand around her upper arm, leading her toward the front of the store.
It was a quiet ride home and suffocatingly silent as they worked together to get their groceries put away. Lily could tell that she had pushed Caden too far, but she wasn’t sorry. He had been pushing her as well. She had left her job to work on the house, not to be babied by her husband.
When Caden turned to face her after they finished putting things away, Lily clenched her fists and tightened her jaw, prepared to fight him. He surprised her when he put one hand against either side of her face, caressing the soft skin of her cheeks. Brushing the pads of his thumbs along her cheekbones, he watched in satisfaction as they colored in response to his touch.
He pressed a chaste kiss to her forehead. “We need to talk,” he murmured as he pulled away. “Let’s go to the bedroom.”
His tenderness had her following him without any resistance, but she was still on guard. He held her hand as they stepped over various things on the floor on their way to the room at the end of the hallway, gesturing her to enter ahead of him.
She plopped onto their queen-sized bed. For some reason, she felt self-conscious since she had forgotten to make the bed after getting up earlier that morning. Caden didn’t seem to notice and lowered himself down beside her and turned to face her.
Lily looked down at her hands, but could feel Caden’s gaze on her. He didn’t say anything for several moments and just observed her.
“What?” she muttered when she couldn’t take it anymore.
She finally looked up and met his gaze and found concern written there. He pressed his lips together. “You haven’t been taking care of yourself.”
Lily’s face went from suspicious to shocked. “Why would you say that?”
Caden brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. “You’re unhappy.”
Lily shook her head. “I’m not unhappy, I’m just not used to staying home.”
His face relaxed, but then hardened. “You’re also not used to obeying me anymore. I’ve failed you in that area.”
“What area?” she asked, growing nervous.
Caden dropped his hand. “You’ve forgotten your place as my wife,” he said. “It’s my fault as well. We’ve been so busy that I haven’t been consistent. That ends now.” Then, he grabbed her arm and tilted her over his lap.
Lily had known deep down that this would happen, but that didn’t make it any less difficult for her to be put in that position without a fight. She kicked as soon as she was settled over his thighs.
“You’re being punished for the major attitude you’ve shown me,” he told her, rubbing her firm bottom through her cotton skirt. “However, since we’re entering a new phase in our lives and this is your first punishment, I’m going to show you some mercy.”
Caden brought his hand down hard on the seat of Lily’s pale pink skirt. He decided he liked these skirts a lot better than her thick work skirts. The cotton ones were thin and offered her almost no protection at all. Even though this skirt wasn’t skintight, he could still feel the exact shape of her backside.
“Ouch, what new phase?” she demanded. Then she added indignantly, “I thought you were going to go easy on me!”
Caden flipped her skirt up in response. “You haven’t been taking care of yourself, so you’re losing adult privileges. Until further notice, you are going to be my baby girl and I will be your daddy.” He began spanking her over her light blue bikini panties, his expression satisfied when he saw that the base of her cheeks were already starting to turn pink.
Lily buried her face in her arms, mortified at his words. It had been a while since Caden had placed her over his knee like this. She didn’t enjoy the pain, but she couldn’t deny that there was something extremely comforting about being in the vulnerable position.
She sniffled, feeling intense emotions start to well up inside of her. “Caden, please don’t do this,” she started to beg. “Please stop.” She wiggled over his lap, her bottom warm and quickly bordering on hot.
Caden brought the next swats down in quick succession, focusing on the lower half of Lily’s cheeks. “I think this is necessary, Lily,” he went on. “So from now on, if you don’t do your chores like a good little girl, you’ll be spanked and grounded like a naughty baby girl. Any attempt to be a big girl will also result in an ouchy bottom like this one.” He paused in the swats for a moment to stroke her quivering cheeks.
He knew Lily needed this for a myriad of reasons. He loved the fight in her, and the way she challenged him. It had taken him years to admit to her that he loved the other side of her as well, the side that was softer and dependent on him.
It had taken even longer for her to admit that she enjoyed being dependent on him.
There had been a brief period in their marriage where Lily wasn’t working, but was looking for work. She had kept the home, cooking their meals and keeping the place tidy and homey. Their home had been peaceful back then, but Lily had been restless to start working in order to contribute financially. A few months later, she had gotten a job as an editor at a local publishing company.
Caden ignored Lily’s protests as he lowered her tiny bikini panties to her knees, baring her bottom to his gaze. Lily was a strong woman, resilient and stubborn. But she pushed herself too hard and Caden constantly feared for her health. He caressed her naked bottom cheeks, loving how they clenched at his touch in response.
“I know you’re still getting used to staying home,” he told her as he laid into her bare bottom. “But you know that that doesn’t excuse you from being a brat?”
Lily grit her teeth together. “Yes,” she admitted.
“You need your daddy to spank you, don’t you?” Caden continued, bringing a couple harsh swats to the summits of her cheeks.
“Yes!” Lily cried, kicking her feet. “Please, Caden! I know I was a brat, okay? I’m just restless because I’m so used to working.”
“If that’s true, then why didn’t you tell me?” Caden asked gently, but the spanks he was still delivering were anything but. He squeezed each red cheek roughly in his hands. “As your husband, I need to know if you aren’t feeling well.”
“I know, I’m sorry!” Lily’s voice was growing in earnestness. She was struggling harder against him now, looking like she was trying to swim off his lap.
Caden stopped spanking her then, sensing that she had reached her limit. She was panting heavily. He gently stroked her back and bottom, enjoying the feel of her over his knee. “You’ve been working so hard, Lily.”
It took Lily a couple moments to catch her breath. She looked over her shoulder up at her husband. “But I can’t be staying home and doing nothing all the time.”
Caden scooped her up and set her down so she was sitting in his lap rather than over it. “Don’t you remember how much work cooking and cleaning is?” he asked her, pushing some long chestnut hair away from her face. “Women who stay home really aren’t given enough credit, in my opinion. It should be considered a full-time job, with taxes and benefits and all of that!”
Lily laughed for a moment at the thought of being paid for cooking and cleaning, but then paused to think about it. She started to list all the responsibilities she’d had when she was cooking and cleaning full time and realized Caden was right. Keeping the home really was a full-time job.
“You know that if you’re restless at home, we can figure something out,” Caden told her, wrapping his arms around her tenderly. He kissed the side of her jaw. “But we are going to try this for now. When I’m at work, you can be a big girl who cooks and cleans, but as soon as I get home, you are my baby girl.” He gripped her freshly spanked bottom as he spoke, his voice growing stern.
Lily’s stomach churned nervously at this declaration, but she couldn’t help but sigh contentedly and rest her head against Caden’s chest, a soft smile on her face.