Dr. Allard was right. Lucy felt much better the next morning. She slept later than she intended, a full belly from the late-night meal aiding her slumber. It was past ten when she woke to find that Dr. Crane had gone to purchase a dress that was laid out for her to wear.
As she gratefully lifted the dress from where it lay across a chair, she realized the style was reminiscent of what she wore when she was in the care of the pastor. When she’d arrived at Judge Bonham’s, she’d been surprised to be commanded to change into a dress the people who raised her would have considered immodest.
“It’s the latest fashion,” the judge had boasted. “From Paris.” He’d leered at her as he continued. “You will behave in a proper fashion, but I want you dressed in a manner that has every man seething with jealousy over what is mine.” She could still remember looking down then, uncomfortable at how her breasts swelled over the bodice that barely seemed to contain them.
This dress was different. It was white, with a modest neckline trimmed with pale pink ribbon, and a matching sash that tied in a wide bow at the back. It was more the dress for a young girl in school, and Lucy was glad for her small size that allowed it to fit. She sighed as she slid it on. It felt both proper and safe, as did the modest pantalets and stockings that had been provided. There was even a pink ribbon for her hair. Taming the thick tresses, she bound them with it.
She’d been instructed to wait for someone to fetch her. She fully expected it would be one of the doctors, and was surprised and slightly disappointed when a tall woman in a nurse’s outfit came through the door.
“You must be Lucy?” The woman was older, with a face that was remarkably pretty for one of her age.
“Yes,” Lucy said.
“I’m Nurse Lassiter. I work for Dr. Allard and Dr. Crane. They tell me that you will be living here, as their ward.”
“Well, welcome. The doctors want to speak to you over breakfast and have asked me to bring you down. No doubt they’ll be pleased to see you so prettily dressed. Come along now.”
Lucy did as she was bid, following the nurse down the narrow hallway and stairs to another hallway that led past the sitting room where she’d been the night before. Her escort ended in the dining room, where both doctors were already at the table. She felt her stomach growl at the hearty breakfast that awaited: fluffy eggs, ham, porridge with jam and clotted cream, soft bread, steaming tea.
“Finally, our sleeping beauty has emerged.” Dr. Crane stood along with his colleague and for the first time, Lucy realized how handsome her new guardians were. Benedict Crane was the taller of the two. He was also darker, with brown eyes and thick chestnut hair that brushed his collar. His face was almost pretty for a man’s, with high cheekbones and a full mouth. Thomas Allard had sharper features; Lucy could see the patrician influence in his breeding, given his strong jaw and slightly Roman nose. Even though he was serious, the shape of his mouth implied it could break into a smile at any moment. Unlike his colleague, he wore his sandy blond hair closely cropped.
Both men were tall, and while they were clearly older than Lucy, she did not put either of them over forty. They also both had pleasant, cultured voices carrying an air of gentleness and quiet authority.
“Did you sleep well?” Dr. Allard asked.
“Yes,” she said. “And I awoke to this dress. It’s lovely. Thank you.”
“From what you told us about your desire to return to a simpler time in your life, we thought it was appropriate,” Benedict said. As he spoke, Thomas piled a plate with breakfast for their ward.
“You mean…” She looked from one man to the other. “I can stay here as your ward? Under your protection? Oh, I thought I’d dreamt it. It’s too much to hope for…”
She saw the men exchange quick smiles before Dr. Crane turned his attention solely to her.
“Yes, Lucy. You absolutely can stay. We have full custody of you now. Even though you are an adult, we believe it is in your best interest to remain here living as a child. You’re ill-prepared for the outside world, sheltered as you are. And having learned the nature of Judge Bonham, we are both concerned that he may pose a threat should you become independent too soon.”
She nodded, her eyes filled with fear, as he continued.
“But please understand that our protection comes with conditions. You must obey us as you would obey your papa. Or, in our case, papas.”
Lucy nodded earnestly. “Of course,” she said. “I told Dr. Allard that I would be a good girl.”
“And I’m sure you will,” Benedict said. “But it requires more. We expect your obedience, Lucy, in all matters, even when we ask you to do things you may not want to do.”
She felt suddenly nervous.
“Wh-what would you ask me to do that would warrant an objection?”
“It hardly matters,” Dr. Allard chimed in. “The point is that we will only require things we consider essential to your wellbeing, and disobedience to our directives will carry consequences.”
“Consequences? What kind?”
“Whenever you misbehave or fail to obey us, you will be spanked.”
Spanked. The word hung over her like an anvil. Lucy had never been spanked. She’d witnessed it, of course. Pastor Priven had preached that the parent who spared the rod was the parent who hated his son.
Lucy looked up at her new guardians. She could not imagine that either of them would spank her, and she was sure that this warning was merely a means of raising the specter of such chastisement in order to ensure her obedience.
“I promise to do as I am told,” she repeated with conviction before tucking into her breakfast. It was delicious, and as she ate Dr. Allard remarked that for the short term, at least, she’d be expected to clear her plate at each meal and have snacks in between to compensate for the deprivation she’d suffered at the asylum.
After she’d finished, Nurse Lassiter came in to hand Dr. Allard some papers. He and his colleague had already planned to take some time off for the research project that circumstances had derailed, he said. Now they would devote that attention entirely to her.
“Unless, of course, you’d prefer to have a governess.” He nodded toward Nurse Lassiter. “She’d do the job admirably. Did you have a governess with the Privens?”
“No,” she said. “Pastor Priven was a frugal man. Even with the stipend Judge Bonham sent for my maintenance, he never had anyone other than his wife care for me.”
“Very good,” Dr. Crane said. “As a rule, I disapprove of governesses anyway. Girls should be taught by their parents, when possible.”
“I quite agree,” Dr. Allard said. “And with two of us, you’ll never have to want for proper attention or direction.”
Lucy was finishing her breakfast, pleased to have cleaned her plate in a demonstration of her compliance, not that it would have been difficult anyway. The food was delicious.
“Thank you,” she said politely. “I’ve not always had the healthiest appetite, but it’s easy when the food is so good.”
“It certainly seems healthy,” Thomas said, rising from the table. “But we need to determine your overall health. Now that breakfast is over, a full exam is in order, young lady.”
“Exam?” Her smooth brow furrowed and she caught her lower lip in her teeth.
“Yes, a full medical workup.” He took her hand and lifted her to standing. “The health of a woman’s body is essential to the health of her mind and spirit, young lady. We did a most cursory exam when you arrived; that’s how we discerned that the claims made against you were false. But a more thorough check is needed now.”
“Will it hurt?” Her pretty face registered concern as Benedict took hold of her other hand and they led her between them from the dining room down the hall to the back of the house where the exam room and offices were located.
“Nothing will be done to you that’s not for your own good,” Thomas said, and she felt her heart began to pound hard in her chest. She’d promised to be a good girl, but was suddenly unsure of whether she could be. What would they expect of her, she wondered?
Even though she’d been in the exam room the night she arrived, Lucy had been unconscious and therefore had no memory of it. In her youth, she’d only seen the doctor when she was sick, and it had been a country doctor who’d come to her home to take her pulse and give her a tincture for her fever and cough. This room was like nothing she’d ever seen. One wall was lined with drawers and glass-front cabinets holding all manner of jars and vials. A curious sort of bed stood in the center of the room. It had no headboard or footboard, but did have curious-looking appendages on the end, and a crank at the foot between them.
She startled a bit as the door shut behind them.
“We will need to disrobe you for the exam, Lucy,” Dr. Allard said.
Her hand flew to her chest as she looked at him. “Disrobe? Must I?”
He chuckled and tapped her on the nose. “Of course, little one. We can hardly check you through your clothes. I’d wager you’ve never had a proper check, have you?”
She shook her head.
“And the asylum was dark and drafty and quite filthy. You need to be examined completely for ill-effects of that environment, my dear.”
“I assume you bathed me,” she said, not moving from her spot. “So surely you saw enough of me then to tell if there was a problem.”
Thomas’ tone was patient at her reluctance, but he would not be moved. “You were examined and bathed quickly. But that is not the same as a full exam. Now please disrobe.”
“There is no need!” she said. “Really!”
For a moment she thought he was going to relent, for he sighed heavily. But then he reached for a nearby chair and pulled it over before turning back to her.
“Lucy,” the handsome doctor said. “You’ve assured me that you would be a good girl.”
“And I am!” she protested prettily. “But that doesn’t mean I will allow you to examine me when I don’t need it.”
Now Dr. Crane stepped over and put his hands on his hips. Her heart hammered now that both men were looking down on her with very stern expressions indeed.
“My dear Lucy,” Dr. Crane said. “You are our ward. It is not your place to determine whether you need an exam, or to forbid it.”
She could feel the weight of authority in his tone. She could feel the intensity of gazes, like hands roaming her body. And—oh!—Lucy felt a flutter and a twinge as a flush came to her cheeks.
Why did she continue to resist? Later, much later, she would understand. But at that moment, despite the hammering of her heart she crossed her arms over her chest, tilted her chin up, looked from one man to the other, and said, “No.”
Did she somehow know the inevitability of what would happen? That Dr. Allard had begun rolling up his sleeves should have given her an indication of what was to come. And perhaps it did. But by the time he sat down and pulled her across his lap, it was too late. She heard herself whimpering as he pulled up the hem of her new dress and parted the halves of her open pantalets to reveal her bottom.
The searing sting of his hand as it descended on her bottom took her breath away.
“Oh!” she cried instantly as her green eyes flew open in pained surprise. “I’m sorry. I’ll do as you say!”
“Yes, you will,” Thomas replied firmly. “But only after a good spanking. I mean to show you how serious we are when we say that there will be consequences for defiance.”
She could feel the painful heating of her nates escalating, and any dignity she thought to preserve soon fled. She found herself bawling like a baby as Dr. Allard spanked her bare bottom until it was rose red and throbbing, and only when she went limp from defeat did he tilt her off his lap and move her to again stand in front of him.
“Now, Lucy,” he said. “Will you or will you not allow me and Dr. Crane to carry out the exam we believe to be in your best interest?”
She nodded forlornly, her hand moving back to rub her sore bum. Tears ran unbidden down her cheeks. She felt horrid. She’d promised to be good and she’d failed. What must they think of her?
“Are you going to take me back to the asylum for being bad?” she asked through hitching sobs.
“Of course not.” Dr. Crane had moved over to where she stood and produced a handkerchief. “And I’m sure I speak for Dr. Allard when I say I’m pleased that your first thought is not to flee. It shows that you accept that you will be spanked by us should you need it, and that is a very good thing, sweet Lucy.”
He was right; they could do whatever they wanted. Even now as Dr. Crane dabbed her eyes, Dr. Allard was undoing the sash on her dress and removing it. The air in the room was cool, and when it hit her nipples, she gave a little gasp at the sudden sensation she felt. They tightened, and when they did, there was a little tugging sensation between her legs, and a warmth. The feeling only increased when her pantalets were pulled down and off. She was naked. Naked, helpless, vulnerable, and freshly spanked. The thought should have horrified her, but her lower belly was fluttering, and the throbbing between her legs seemed to correspond with the throbbing pain just starting to subside on her punished bottom.
“Up here now, there’s a girl.” Dr. Crane was helping her up on the exam table. It was narrow, and as she lay back under his instruction, she knew that to struggle may send her tumbling over the sides.
“A full exam will allow us to determine what you need for optimum health, my dear. It’s our duty as professionals and your guardians to give you the best of care. So please relax.”
She tried, obeying their instructions. Dr. Crane looked into her eyes, her ears, her mouth. He placed his large warm hands just under her jawline and pressed, murmuring with relief when he found no swelling that he said may indicate illness or affection. He and Dr. Allard, now on the other side of the table, each lifted an arm, flexing them at the joints. Rickets, they told her, were common among the malnourished, but she seemed to be fine.
Next came an examination of her abdomen. Dr. Crane held her hand now as Dr. Allard pressed on her tummy and then lower, just above her mons. As his fingers skimmed the soft swell of her belly just above her pelvis, she felt herself shudder. And then when he told her he was going to examine her breasts, she felt the odd little tugging throb between her legs as her breasts seemed to tighten in expectation of his touch. Was this normal, she wondered? She wanted to ask, but was embarrassed and so said nothing.
Oh, the feel of his hands. As Dr. Allard explored her right breast with nimble fingers, it was all she could do not to arch her chest toward his hands. Now she could not help but to question what was happening.
“My breasts,” she said. “They… they ache…”
“Ache?” She saw Dr. Allard briefly make eye contact with Dr. Crane as his hand moved to her other breast.
“Y-yes,” she said. “But not in a bad way. It feels as if all my feeling has moved there, to the tips.”
“Does it?” He offered her a kind smile. “That is just your body’s reaction.” Did his voice somehow sound thicker, or was she imagining it? His hands moved away, to her regret. “Your breasts are free of lumps or any other irregularities,” he said. “That is good news.”
“Oh,” was all she could say, for at that moment she could concentrate on little beyond her wish that his hands could remain on her longer. Lucy flushed at this thought, but had little time to ponder it before turning her attention to Dr. Crane, who was addressing her.
“I’m going to examine you lower now, Lucy.” He paused. “Between your legs.”
Between my legs?
Lucy opened her mouth to speak, but could not. Between her legs was where she felt the little tug, the soft ache of a want she could not define. Something told her this urgency, this longing, was uniquely adult. This ache, she decided, she could not speak of. In fact, its presence had her closing her legs tightly together.
“Why, sweet Lucy. What’s wrong?” Dr. Crane crooked an eyebrow.
“I don’t want you to touch me there,” she said.
“But I must,” he said. “Tell me what you’re afraid of. Are you afraid it will hurt?”
She swallowed hard. That wasn’t what she was afraid of. She knew it wouldn’t hurt. The spanking had hurt, and just thinking of it scared her, but also made the throbbing between her legs go stronger.
“I’m so confused!” she cried, tears filling her eyes. “Is it normal? I mean… I feel…”
“My dear,” said Dr. Allard, smoothing her brow. “Please know that whatever you feel with us is fine. It is good. And above all, it is safe. You are safe to feel, Lucy. You have our permission.”
Their permission. Somehow that made it better, easier.
Dr. Crane suggested it might be easier if her legs were spread, and she watched as he raised the appendages on the side of the table and locked them into place. She could see now that they were leg rests, and she allowed him to raise her legs, first the left and then the right, and place them in the supports. But she felt a surge of nervous excitement when Dr. Crane reached down and began turning the crank, spreading her legs further apart with each turn.
She could not hide now. She could not close her legs. She should have been scandalized, but the throb was increasing the wider she was opened. Excitement. There was no other word for what she felt. But it was a different kind of excitement. She was seized with a longing, an expectation. But for what? What was happening to her? Lucy was suddenly aware of her pussy, of slickness coating the shaved mound, slickness even on the inside of her thighs.
“I’m wet!” she said. “I’m so sorry.” She moaned in abject humiliation. “I didn’t feel it happen.”
“My dear, it’s not what you think. The place between your legs—your pussy—is aroused. That is why you are wet, and it is perfectly normal when a woman is in an excited state,” Dr. Allard said. “Tell me, Lucy. How do you feel now?” He paused. “Do you want Dr. Crane to touch you on your pussy?”
“I… I don’t know!” Her tone was defensive, and she tried to squeeze her legs together but couldn’t because of the restraints. “Does this mean that Judge Bonham was right?” She looked at them, stricken. “Am I a wanton after all?”
“Oh, my dear. Of course not. There is nothing unnatural about how you feel. It’s quite healthy, actually, unless this is your constant state. Is it?”
“I’ve never felt like this until now.” She had been looking from man to man, but now dropped her gaze. “Not until the two of you.” She began to cry. “I’m so sorry. I can’t help it.”
“There’s no need to cry, Lucy,” Dr. Crane said. “You are actually helping us with your honest answers. You had a very bad experience with the man who married you. But as your guardians, it is our job to teach you that all men are not like that. In the hands of a caring man, your body should respond just as it is responding now.”
“So, it’s not bad?”
“Oh, no,” Dr. Allard said. “It’s very good.” He nodded to Dr. Crane, who moved his hand between her legs. The folds of her labia had already opened like a dew-drenched flower, and when his fingers brushed her there, she moaned. “One day, you will be a married woman. Your natural reaction to a caring touch will be pleasing to your husband.” Dr. Crane was gazing between her legs as he touched her. Now he locked eyes with Lucy. “I’m going to examine the strength of your virgin barrier,” he said, and she felt his finger slip inside of her, just a little way, before stopping.
“Oh!” Her hips lifted from the table. It was as if her body sought to drive his finger in deeper. What was happening to her? She did not know; she only knew that her body thrummed with a secret want that became stronger when she lowered her hips and her sore bottom met the table, reminding her of the spanking she’d recently received. She could do nothing; her body was not her own. Just the thought alone, combined with his touch, had her suppressing a moan.
“Oh, how I ache!” she cried. “Please tell me what’s happening?”
Dr. Crane withdrew his finger. “I think that’s enough for now,” he said, and she whimpered at the withdrawal of the digit and then flushed. They’d assured her that this deep desire, this ache, was natural. So why did she feel so ashamed? She could feel the heat flushing her face and looked at both doctors. But they were looking kindly upon her, lovingly even. She allowed herself to relax.
“You seem in overall good health, Lucy,” Dr. Crane was saying, and she was further relieved that he was changing the subject. “Your eyes are clear, you show no sign of infection, your heartbeat is strong and your lungs sound clear. My only concern is your pallor. You are pale, even for one naturally fair. You need something to strengthen your constitution.”
“You mean like a tonic?”
“A tonic is not absorbed fast enough,” he said. “What I have in mind is a medicine delivered in a large bolus inserted into your bottom.”
“Into my bottom?” Lucy’s eyes widened. “No! I absolutely won’t hear of it!”
“Now, Lucy,” Dr. Allard said, dropping a gentle hand to her shoulder. The stern expressions the doctors had given her earlier when she’d refused to disrobe for the exam had returned to their faces as they looked down at her now. “Were you not just spanked for refusing to cooperate with us in our efforts to care for you?”
“But this is different!” she said. “I don’t want something stuck in my bottom, and if you try, I shall scream this house down!”
“Very well.” Dr. Allard turned. “Dr. Crane, will you remove our Lucy’s legs from the restraints while I prepare another method for dispensing her medicine?”
“Certainly, Dr. Allard,” he said, and Lucy felt a small moment of triumph as Dr. Crane lowered the supports and moved her legs back to the table. She was able to close her thighs now, and when she pressed them together she was still aware of the soft throb between them, especially at the apex of her cleft, and she suddenly longed for Dr. Crane to return to examine her anew, and perhaps touch her there as well. But he was walking over to Dr. Allard now and the two men stood in quiet conference for a moment. When they turned back, they both wore resolute expressions and Dr. Crane was holding something that made Lucy go cold with fear.
“Oh, no, please! Not that!”
She sat up, preparing to leap from the table, but Dr. Allard was upon her before she could, firmly turning her onto her belly as she looked back with wide, tear-brimmed eyes. Dr. Crane was holding it aloft, this terrifying object that had gotten her attention. It was a glass syringe, with two loops at the end for his fingers. At the other end was a sharp needle.
“You must hold still, Lucy,” Dr. Allard was saying.
“Oh, please don’t!” She was sobbing with fear. “I’ll take the medicine the other way!”
“I’m afraid not,” Dr. Crane said firmly, laying a hand on the mound of her bottom. Dr. Allard had quite efficiently restrained her now. “When you are given a chance to obey and refuse, then we will take a different approach. The needle will get the medicine into your system even faster.”
She tried to turn over, to turn away as Dr. Crane approached her, but the hold of Dr. Allard’s hard hands was too strong.
“Just a pinch and a bit of a sting and it will be over,” Dr. Allard said into her ear. Lucy moaned with abject helplessness and closed her eyes as Dr. Crane positioned the tip of the needle over her bottom cheek. She squealed as it went in and then wailed as a fierce sting seemed to suffuse her entire bottom.
“All over!” Dr. Crane was saying, and his large hand was massaging her bottom. “Was that really so bad?”
“Yes!” she whimpered. “It really was. I don’t like it at all! And I don’t like either of you now!”
“Oh, that’s just the fear talking. You don’t really mean that, do you?”
She was raised to sitting by both men, who now looked at her with such expressions of amused benevolence that she felt her anger recede into renewed acceptance of her situation.
“No. I didn’t mean it,” she said, wiping away a tear as she shifted on her unbelievably sore bottom. “It’s just that this has made me feel all so helpless and confused and a little…”
“A little what?” Dr. Allard asked.
She wanted to tell him that it made her feel strangely excited. She wanted to tell him that what had happened to her—the whole of it—was heightening her senses. She had never been more aware of her own body, from the tight ache of her nipples, to the throbbing want of her pussy, to the soreness of her spanked bottom and the burning sting where she’d gotten the shot. It had all left her wanting something she could not even define. She felt overwhelmed and then, suddenly, drained.
“Tired,” she said quietly, giving an answer that really wasn’t the truth for want of something to say.
“Well, then. I think a nap is in order.”
“So early in the day?” she asked.
“One of the benefits of being our little one is that you’ll not have a care in the world, sweet Lucy.” Dr. Crane retrieved a shift from a nearby cupboard and helped her into it. “You can nap when you are tired, eat when you are hungry, play when you are feeling spirited, and cry when you are sad. Our home is your safe place, little one. This environment will be your home until you are strong and adept enough to live as a wife to a man who deserves you.” He touched her gently on the nose. “And won’t he be a lucky chap?”
He stepped back. “Down you go!” Dr. Crane lifted her like a child and placed her gently on her feet. “A good nap, and afterwards a nice hot lunch.”
At that moment, Nurse Lassiter walked in. “Perfect timing, Nurse Lassiter. Would you please take Lucy up to her room? She’s found her examination to be an ordeal.”
“Of course.” The older woman held out her hand and Lucy, too exhausted to protest, took it and allowed herself to be led back up the stairs to the room, where Nurse Lassiter tucked her into bed.
To sleep in the middle of the day was a luxury she had not enjoyed since she was very small. When she’d told the doctors that she wished she could return to childhood, she’d had no idea that they’d take her wistful desire to heart, or make it so real and complete. The pastor and his wife had never indulged her like this, nor given her such comfortable surroundings. Outside, sleet was pattering against the glass of the window, and Nurse Lassiter drew the curtain and stoked the fire in the grate. Even this seemed an extravagance. Mrs. Priven had believed that a warm room was unhealthy, and that sleeping in a cold room built character.
What would the pastor and his wife say to know she slept in a fine bed in a warm room in the middle of the day? She’d last seen them the day Judge Bonham’s secretary had come to fetch her away. She wondered if they knew that the judge had cast her away and put her in the asylum. She wondered if the couple who raised her would believe his allegations. Pastor Priven had preached on the weakness of women, their moral failings, the sin of Eve. His wife had never told Lucy anything about what happened between a man and a woman. “Just do as your husband tells you,” she’d said. “He’ll know what to do.” But Lucy had known the judge’s forceful manner on their wedding night had not been natural, and her instincts to preserve herself from hurt had kicked in. He’d been so different from…
There was a hitch in her breath as she thought of her two guardians—so handsome, so patient and firm. She clutched her blanket, worrying with her fingers as she mulled over all that had happened. She still felt warm and languid just thinking of their touch—those hands, so masterful, so skilled.
But something bothered her to the point that she felt a painful lump rise in her throat, and tears welling in her eyes. She knew they were doctors who had taken her in to study. She knew they were only keeping her to be kind. Dr. Crane suggested that at some point, another man would fix his sites on her, and would take her to wife. But as she lay there, Lucy knew in her heart the only hands she ever wanted to feel on her body again were those of the men who had saved her.
Could a woman fall in love so quickly? And could she fall in love with two men? Pastor Priven had spoken of a man leaving his mother and cleaving to his wife for all their days. One man, one woman.
“You’re being silly,” she said, turning onto her side. But as she moved she was again aware of that aching, swollen place between her legs, its wet wanting still evident even now. The idea of any other man touching her there filled her with dread. In her mind the men who’d made her their little girl owned all of her, including that soft throbbing place yearning to be filled.