The upmarket cocktail lounge was busy, but that wasn’t unusual. Henry liked busy. Sitting at the bar, he’d watch the waitresses skillfully flirt with the single men in hopes of a bigger tip, then immediately change their demeanor when serving a couple. They were like chameleons. Occasionally one would swing by and say hello to him, but the weary frowns on their faces when they collected the drinks at the end of the bar suggested the smiles they gave him were more automatic than sincere.
Candles was the name of the place. It was a restaurant, but offered an inviting bar. Surrounded by an ornate steel fence in the middle of the room was a round, four-foot-high white candle with many small wicks. It burned down over a year, and was then replaced with much celebration on New Year’s Eve. The brainchild behind the catchy idea was the owner, a tough woman aptly named Bertha, who was rarely seen, but kept watch over her business like a mother bear over her cub. Should he have told her about Jane, the girl who had singled him out to steal his wallet a couple of months before? He often second-guessed the decision he’d made, but he’d had no doubt Bertha would have had the girl arrested. While Jane may have deserved it, he hadn’t been able to bring himself to turn her in. He would have felt no joy watching her being handcuffed and bustled away. Taking the gorgeous girl back to his flat and spanking her bare bottom instead had been extremely satisfying.
Sipping his martini, Henry sighed his umpteenth sigh, wishing he could exorcise the gifted hustler from his thoughts. Why couldn’t he? Was it because of the mischievous twinkle she’d carried in her bright brown eyes, or because her bottom had been so utterly spankable, full and round, and her skin had turned such a luscious shade of pink?
He had spotted her at Candles several times, and had thought her more interesting than most of the young women he’d see come and go. She carried herself with confidence, and appeared to have a quick and easy laugh when talking to the wait staff, but she always arrived alone. Always. No friends, men or women, at her side. He’d found that intriguing. She’d sit at a table, drink a glass of wine, and read her book. He’d watched her as men approached, but apparently they weren’t her type, or she’d simply not been interested in meeting anyone, but that hadn’t quite added up, and adding up was what Henry did best.
Logic suggested she was indeed interested in meeting someone, and he was the king of logic; he was a certified genius, a physicist, and he also considered himself a modern-day Sherlock Holmes.
She’d been dressed to attract attention. Her makeup and hair said I took my time, her body-hugging-without-being-tacky-clothing said I have a hot figure, and she always wore gloves. There was something old-fashioned about it, and he found it highly erotic. He’d sensed that the young woman was not frequenting Candles out of loneliness or boredom, but if it wasn’t to meet a man, then why was she continuing to show up? Something else was going on, and each time he’d seen her, he’d become increasingly fascinated.
On the night in question, he had arrived in a celebratory mood. He led a team, and they’d been working on an extremely complex project for over a year. Early that afternoon they’d had a breakthrough. Not one to socialize with his colleagues, he’d chosen to stop in at Candles on his way home. It was midweek, and only a few minutes after he’d settled at the bar he’d seen her come in. It had been a typical cold rainy London night, and she’d been wearing a look at me, hot pink, glossy raincoat. She’d pulled it off to reveal a black turtleneck that clung to her curves, designer jeans that had been artfully torn, and knee-high patent leather boots. As she’d hung the coat on one of the many hooks against the wall, to his great surprise, she had lifted her blond head and smiled across at him.
Henry had almost fallen off his barstool. Women didn’t look at him, at least not the way she’d looked at him. He wasn’t unattractive, but he wasn’t Brad Pitt by any means. He was tall, attended a gym religiously to stay in shape, but he had a permanent crease on his forehead from constantly frowning as he worked, and he wore glasses, large tortoiseshell glasses, which he’d once been told were sexy. He didn’t think anything about him was outwardly sexy, but when he had a woman on her knees before him and he was indulging his greatest passion, he transformed from a bookish, deep-thinking scientist into a man who oozed sensuality. He could wield a flogger like Lancelot could wield his sword, and land a feathered touch or a hot smack in equal measure. He could make his submissive weak with need and bring her to paroxysms of pleasure.
But that was something hidden. He did not exude the assertive personality that held hands with his introverted, nerdy alter ego, and the I want to meet you look coming from the beautiful young blonde had taken his breath away.
Somehow he’d managed to smile back, and she’d immediately moved across and perched herself on the stool next to him.
“Jane,” she’d said simply. “I see you in here, but usually on a Friday. Is this a special occasion?”
“Henry,” he’d replied, sizing her up, “and yes, it is.”
Her nails appeared to be professionally manicured, but he spied the tiniest dot of polish near the cuticle of her left forefinger. She’d done them herself, and she’d missed it on her cleanup. Since the blob was on her left hand, he could assume she was right-handed, and she hadn’t wanted to spend the twenty pounds. Was she broke, or thrifty? Her handbag was Prada, and it looked real, but the counterfeits had become so perfected, it could easily be a fake. She wasn’t wearing perfume. Chemical allergy or health nut, and though she’d approached him, there was an aloofness about her that suggested a noble background. Prada bag real then?
“Would you prefer to celebrate alone?”
“Does anyone like to celebrate alone?”
“Good point,” she’d laughed. “Let’s move to a table.”
She’d been extremely engaging, but not overtly flirtatious, and when he’d talked, she’d listened, she’d really listened. Her eyes had never left his, and she’d leaned slightly forward across the table, as if he’d been about to drop the answer to life’s mysteries at any moment. It was flattering, but it was also unnatural. A person’s normal tendency was to glance away for a moment if someone walked by. His Sherlock instinct was taking over, but not out of choice—it was simply how his mind worked—and when he’d noticed her topping up his glass with the bottle of champagne he’d ordered and not doing the same with hers, his radar had beeped. When she’d opened her bag and pulled out her wallet, he’d waited for the other shoe to drop.
“Oh, dear, I only have a one-hundred-pound note. You wouldn’t have change, would you?”
The question had seemed innocent enough, but he’d immediately realized that had they stayed at the bar, there would have been a bartender with a cash register directly in front of them. It had been her suggestion to take a table. He’d decided to play along, and though nothing untoward happened as they exchanged the notes, he was still on guard. It was only a few minutes later than she’d made her move. She’d stood up to excuse herself, pretended to trip, and grabbed him, helping herself to his wallet as she did.
He hadn’t felt a thing. When she’d quickly turned away and picked up her bag, he still hadn’t been aware of what she’d done. It was when she’d suddenly looked at her watch, made an abrupt but smiling apology as she’d exclaimed that she’d lost track of time and had to leave, that a flash of realization sparked through his brain.
“I can’t let you leave until you return my wallet,” he said firmly, grabbing her wrist.
“Excuse me?” she’d exclaimed, righteously indignant. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Should I call the manager and ask that your bag be searched?”
Her look of shock had lasted only seconds, then she’d dropped back into her chair and looked at him with a woeful expression.
“Please don’t call the police,” she’d begged, digging it out and handing it over. “Please, what can I do?”
“You’re a hustler, a talented one, but you’re still a hustler. To start, you can tell me why you chose me?”
“Does it matter?”
“I’m curious, but let me guess. I’m always here alone, so it’s obvious I don’t have a woman in my life, and you assumed I’d be easy to flatter. I’m well-dressed, I wear a Patek Philippe watch, and I use cash to pay for my drinks, so you knew there’d be money in my wallet. How am I doing so far?”
“Frighteningly well,” she grimaced, “but please, don’t call in the police.”
He paused, studying her, and in spite of what she’d attempted to do, he couldn’t help but feel a shard of admiration. She’d chosen her mark well, and he hadn’t felt a thing when she’d picked his pocket. If he’d not had his Sherlock instinct, he wouldn’t have discovered the loss until she’d been long gone.
“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” he said, locking her eyes. “I can’t let you go unpunished, but you can choose your poison. Come back to my flat for a sound spanking on your bare bottom, or I call the police.”
Her voice had been a hissed sound more than a word, her eyes had been wide, and she’d turned beet red, but none of that had affected him. On the contrary, it had made the thought that much more tantalizing.
“You heard me,” he’d said firmly, “and you’ve got thirty seconds to make up your mind.”
“Nothing nasty, I won’t agree if you intend to use anything nasty.”
“My hand, Jane, I’ll use my hand.”
She’d let out a heavy sigh and nodded her head.
Once back in his flat he’d wasted no time. He’d made her pull down her jeans and knickers, then after sitting on his couch, he had ordered her over his knees. She’d been deeply embarrassed and had buried her head in the sofa cushions as she’d wriggled into position, and that’s when he’d decided to hit the pause button.
If he was going to teach the miscreant a lesson, he’d make sure it was one she wouldn’t forget. Humiliation would have just as much affect as the physical discomfort she was about to endure, possibly more.
“Your bottom is about to feel the sting of my hand,” he began, giving each cheek a quick, sharp pinch. “There are laws in this country. What do you think would happen if everyone went around committing crimes with no consequences?”
“You what?” he pressed, pinching her again. “Do you think England would be a nice place to live?”
“Probably not,” she mumbled. “I get your point, now will you please just spank me and get this over with?”
“I’ll spank you when I’m good and ready,” he said sternly. “You need to hear a few home truths first.”
Her groan had been immensely satisfying, and as he’d continued speaking, he added more quick pinches to make sure she was paying attention.
“Stealing things that don’t belong to you can have very serious repercussions for your victims, or do you not think about that?”
“I’m careful about my marks,” she protested. “I swear, I would never take from anyone who—”
His finger and thumb nipped the center of both cheeks, making her squeal loudly.
“Anyone who what? Am I not deserving of consideration? I work extremely hard, young lady, and I don’t appreciate the likes of you attempting to take my hard-earned money. You will now feel the heat of my hand, and if I see you plying your illicit trade again, I will absolutely call the police. Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes, yes,” she swore, “very clear.”
“Get yourself a decent job!” he exclaimed, tweaking each side of her sit spot, eliciting a yelp and a wriggle. “How a young woman who is so smart can do something so stupid is beyond me,” he finished, then slapped down his palm with three hard swats on her right cheek. She’d spun her head around and glared at him over her shoulder.
“Bloody hell! That really hurt.”
“I’d refrain from yelling like that again,” he’d said solemnly. “I promise you, your bottom will pay the price if you do. You are now going to get the proper spanking you deserve!”
Her face had contorted into a look of great distress, but his pause had been momentary, and as he resumed, bouncing his hand from cheek to cheek, determined to teach her a lesson, she’d dropped her head back down and made strange muffled sounds into the couch.
“Stealing, cheating people, taking their hard-earned money, is not an acceptable way to make a living,” he’d scolded as he’d spanked. “You’re a clever, pretty girl, you can do better. Much better! For goodness’ sake, get yourself a job; no, do more than that, find yourself a career.”
“Owww, stop, that’s enough, your hand hurts like mad.”
“That is the point of a spanking, young lady, and I hope the sting stays with you for some time,” he’d declared, delivering several hard smacks to her sit spot.
It was then that she’d gyrated her hips and his eyes had fallen on her glistening pussy. Though it had taken great self-restraint not to touch her, he’d managed to resist the temptation and send his focus back to her punishment. They’d made an agreement that he would spank her, nothing else, nor would he have wanted anything else. If a woman was to submit to him, it had to be her choice, not out of any coercion by him, but by the time he’d released her, his cock had been raging in his trousers. He’d watched her hurriedly pull up her underwear and jeans, grab her questionable Prada bag, and flee. She’d deserved a hot backside, and he’d been happy to give it to her.
It was an evening he often relived when he sat at the bar. How could he not? It had been an unexpected and titillating adventure, and he continue to harbor an unlikely hope that he’d run into her again.
“Henry? Are you ready for another?”
The bartender’s question broke his walk down memory lane, and looking up, Henry was about to answer when his attention was snapped away by a noisy gaggle of young women. Looking across at the front door, he saw them laughing and joking as they entered. Were they on a pub crawl? It was a Friday, no work in the morning. It made sense. One of the girls had brilliant red ringlets flowing down her back, and he smiled at her lustrous locks. Long hair could be so much fun, but then she turned slightly and looked across the room.
Henry caught his breath. Except for the hair and the glasses she was wearing, she could have been Jane. Trying not to stare, he willed her to turn around, but she was studiously keeping her back to him. Could it be her? Would she dare to return to the scene of her crime?
The happy group started through the restaurant, and for a fleeting moment she turned her head. Henry had never felt his heart leap. He’d read the phrase many times, but he’d never felt it, and as it pumped furiously, he sat, frozen on his barstool. There was no doubt in his mind. It was her.