At precisely three o’clock in the afternoon, she knocked on his study door and waited.
“Come!” his voice clearly resonated through the solid oak door. It creaked as she pushed the door ajar, then she slipped between the gap, trying to make as little noise as possible.
The room had a window, but the occupant preferred to keep the Venetian blinds lowered and use a small desk lamp to illuminate his reading material. His head remained downcast, eyes focused on the words. Her pace slowed as she approached him.
“Sir,” she said, creeping towards his desk. “Would you like anything?”
“Yes, Casey,” said Mr Tolchard, looking up. “You may serve me afternoon tea.”
“Very good, sir.”
Casey felt like tiptoeing out of his study. The wall of books, the leather armchair by the fireplace, the thick Persian rug on the floor, and the grand oak desk with his neat piles of paper. Everything was in its place and at home, but Casey did not feel at home, not yet.
The kitchen was palatial compared to the tiny cooking area in her own studio apartment. When standing in the traditionally styled kitchen, she was faced with numerous cupboards, a pantry, and a Welsh dresser. There was not a mug stand. She preferred mug stands; they were convenient. She put the kettle on and began to hunt around the room.
In a cupboard below her and at the very end of the long worktop were mugs, plain white mugs with big handles. She picked one and rummaging about in the pantry, she found a box of teabags and dunked one in the boiled water until it turned black. To this she added a slop of milk and gave it a stir. The colour went a deep rouge brown. No sugar was added; she knew he did not take sugar.
Knocking on the study door again, she walked over to his desk and finding the round coaster, plonked the mug down upon it. Then she stepped back.
Mr Tolchard put down his pen and stared at the mug. The steam rose up from the tea, and he gave his head a tiny shake. “Casey.”
“Sir? Was there something else you…?”
“Casey,” he interrupted. “I asked you to serve me tea.”
Casey looked confused. “It’s tea, freshly made.”
“In a mug,” he pointed out.
Her eyes almost rolled back in frustration. “I see, sir.”
Picking up the mug, she left the room, trying hard not to stomp her feet as she went. He was so pedantic, nothing like she expected. When he was busy, he was undemanding, almost boring to be around. He spent so many hours at his desk reading and writing, and she felt superfluous to requirements. Answering his phone, picking up the groceries, and what else… Well, there was their evening time, and she was learning a great deal about Mr Tolchard in the evenings. In the day, however, she was far from understanding what he wanted from her.
She put the kettle on for a second time and poured the hot tea down the plughole. A second search began, and this time she explored the dresser. In one lower cupboard were cups and saucers. Plain white with an indigo trim around the edges, she turned them over to read the manufacturer’s logo—Royal Doulton. Perfect, she thought.
Ignoring the teabags, she looked above the kettle and found in the upper cupboard an ancient wooden caddy of loose-leaf tea. She gave it a sniff, and it was pungent with a smoky odour. The teapot was buried at the back and was stainless steel. The stainless steel was not successful as the interior was tannin brown. A teaspoon of tea, and she poured in the hot water, swilling it around. As it brewed, she found a plastic tray under the kitchen sink. Milk in the cup and a small plastic strainer to sieve the tea of leaves, and she poured out the tea. Finally, she was ready to disturb him again.
Holding the tray carefully, she managed to knock on the door with her knuckles, spilling a little of the tea into the saucer. The door handle was trickier, and she spilt a little more. Again, he did not look up until the tray was before him on the desk. Before handing him the cup and saucer, she tipped the excess tea off the saucer into the cup.
She was pleased with herself. However, the tea did look terribly insipid and milky. Across the desk from her, he sighed deeply.
“Casey, I asked you to serve me tea,” he repeated his earlier request.
“I don’t understand, sir,” she said puzzled and increasingly irritated by him. “That is tea.” She pointed with her finger and her lips pressed together. The other hand dared to plant itself on her hip; she shifted her weight and glared at his eyes. Suddenly, her stance mirrored her annoyance.
He slid his chair back, away from the desk, and leaned back in his chair. “Come here, Casey.”
Casey paused, a minute hesitation. She saw him push the chair back, the upright position he had sat himself in, and the space he had created before his legs. Nervously, she walked around the desk and stood next to him.
“Over my lap, Casey,” he said, tapping his thigh.
“Why, sir?” She was alarmed. She had not done anything wrong, surely?
“Casey!” His voice lifted, raised to the next level. She responded and lowered herself over his lap. A hand lifted up the hem of her short floral dress and lay it on her back. The same hand lowered her white knickers down to her thighs. The same hand rested on her warm buttock cheeks and waited.
“You need to listen to what I say, Casey. Think hard about what is important in what I am saying to you. You do not argue with me.”
Casey did not think she was arguing. Two cups of tea—well, a mug and a cup were tea, weren’t they? The last one did look disgusting, she confessed. Did that warrant a spanking?
She was jolted from her thoughts by a hard, firm smack of his hand.
Unfair, she commiserated with herself.
“Ow!” she blurted out as he struck again.
The carpet was close to her face, worn and threadbare in places. It reminded her of her granny’s little flat in her sheltered accommodation. Granny liked tea. As he spanked she thought about her granny. The rambling conversations. No, not conversations—monologues of speech. Darting here and there in subject matter, across decades and back again. Casey had always found visiting her granny tedious and uneventful.
A smack of different dimensions landed on her reddening behind.
“Sir!” she wailed. It was a wooden ruler, thick and a foot long. It landed perfectly placed between her buttocks and thighs. Sucking in air, she jiggled her ankles like a flipper. A firm hand held her in place about her waist, keeping her secure on his lap. To feel safe in the midst of a spanking reminded Casey how unusual life had become in recent weeks. The ruler jolted the breath out of her lungs.
“Think about why you are here, Casey, what is different, how things should be different.”
Her mind screamed—what did he mean? He was teaching her, she understood, to be a better person. Not the brat, which her mother called her. Not the lazy good for nothing, which her father called her. Not the bright, disinterested student, which her professors called her. She wanted to be useful and liked. Disciplined and tamed.
The strategically placed lines of pain made her grunt with each blow until she thought she could not bear it any longer. With each whack of the ruler, she shifted her mind away from her infuriating thoughts. Then she shut her eyes tight.
Her granny smiled at her a lot and called her a good girl. In her pokey little kitchen, granny made Casey tea every time she visited. Then Casey recollected exactly how granny made tea, and it finally sunk in what she had to do.
“I’m sorry, sir. I’ll try harder for you!” she whimpered.
Her body sunk down on his legs, and her feet stopped moving. He rubbed down her flamed cheeks and told her to stand up. Once she had returned her knickers to the correct location and smoothed down her dress, he sent her again to the kitchen, carrying the tray and undrunk tea.
Standing by the kitchen sink, watching the tea swirl down the plughole, Casey took a deep breath. Her bottom was stinging and fiery hot, but that focused her mind on what she had to do.
For the third time, she filled the kettle and put it on to boil.
Returning to the dresser, she found on an upper shelf—right in the middle, as if on display—a rounded teapot, and next to it a tall, thinner pot and a small jug. All were decorated china in the same style as the Royal Doulton bone china cups and saucers. There was also a small silver strainer with a matching bowl.
Under the teapots, resting on the dresser surface was a small tray with ornately carved handles and a lacy white cloth lying over it.
As the kettle boiled, she laid everything out on the tray, including another clean cup and saucer. In the cupboard above the kettle was a small tin and inside was more loose-leaf tea. This tin smelt fragrant and fruity, as if made from rose petals and maybe something lemony.
Shutting her eyes, Casey pictured her granny in her kitchen and savoured the memories of moments she spent there while granny made tea for her granddaughter. A pang of regret entered Casey’s head. She wished she had listened to her granny more.
The kettle boiled in a haze of steam, and she poured a little in the round teapot, swirled it about, and emptied it down the sink. To the warmed pot, she added two heaped spoons of tea. The lid on, she poured more water in the smaller pot and a little milk in the jug. Looking at the arrangement on the tray, she thought something was missing. On the windowsill was a small single stem vase with a fresh rose. The gardener had given it to her that morning with a smile. She put the vase on the tray, and then as an afterthought, she added a rich tea biscuit on a side plate.
Nervously she approached the study door. How to open it? To one side in the hallway was a small round table. She placed the tray down and knocked.
* * *
He did not look up, but he could sense something was different. He waited until the tray was placed gently in front of him. Nothing had been spilt. The rose was a delightful addition, and the biscuit was welcomed after the exertion of spanking her bottom.
Resting his pen on his pad, he watched as Casey poured a little milk into the cup.
“Is that sufficient, sir, or would you like more?” she asked.
“That is sufficient, Casey,” he said with an agreeable nod.
Stirring the pot with the teaspoon, the aroma of tea was pervasive and appealing. A fresh, hot smell that drifted up the nostrils and invigorated the mind. Pouring the tea through the strainer, the light amber colour swirled into the milk. As it reached the top, she tapped the strainer carefully and placed it back on the bowl. She then refilled the teapot with hot water. It would make two further cups for him.
The cup and saucer were placed on the coaster, with the handle directed towards his right hand, the biscuit alongside on the plate. Stepping back, she rested her hands in front of her and waited with eyes on the table, not his face.
“Will that be all, sir?” she asked.
“Yes, Casey, thank you. That will be all for now.”
Mr Tolchard could not help noticing the jaunty smile on her face—the sense of satisfaction she had gained from doing him a service. She practically skipped out of the room. Once she had gone, he smiled to himself. The day’s lesson had been most successful and enjoyable.