Edward was at his wits’ end. He had telephoned several acquaintances across Edinburgh in the hope that someone had seen Adeline, but no one matching her description was to be found anywhere. Dinner had long since gone cold.
He didn’t understand why she had left again. In the piano room, it had seemed like they were getting along. They even shared some common interests. Then she had taken offence to something or other and now she was missing. He was worried about her, despite his best intentions to remain detached.
The telephone rang and he leapt for it. “Hallo?”
“Good evening, sir, this is the operator. Telephone call incoming from Abbeyhill.”
Edward’s heart sank and he tried not to curse. What on Earth was Adeline doing in a police station? He knew that he shouldn’t be surprised.
“I’ll accept the call.”
As the operator connected him, Edward wondered whether he should just send the girl home in disgrace. She was a force of utter chaos.
“Good day, sir, this is Constable Burns. We’ve a young woman in our custody who has given your address as her own.”
“You know her then, sir?” The constable seemed surprised.
“To my chagrin. Whatever is she doing there?”
“She has been charged with vagrancy and stealing a policeman’s helmet. The magistrate will see her tomorrow.”
“Vagrancy? But she lives here.”
“Vagrancy Act of 1824, sir. The young lass was behaving in a manner likely to cause public outrage, consorting with a known vagrant and she was only wearing her underthings at the time. When I attempted to move her along, she pilfered my helmet and ran off with it. I caught up with her easily, at which point I arrested her.”
Edward sighed. “Can I simply pay a fine and have her avoid the magistrate?”
“‘Fraid not, sir. If it were merely for the vagrancy, that would all be in order, but stealing a policeman’s helmet is a serious offence.”
Edward ran a hand through his hair and looked heavenward. “When should I collect her?”
“She’ll be brought before the magistrate at nine o’clock prompt. Public gallery’s open, sir.”
“Thank you.” Edward ended the call and stared at the wall for a long time.
Adeline was his responsibility. Everyone else in her life had let her down and left her to do whatever she wanted. Reining her in was proving to be a Herculean task, but he knew that he had to persevere. He was almost certain that she wouldn’t get a prison sentence for her crimes, but very occasionally the judges liked to make an example out of the upper classes. The idea of writing to Adeline’s father and informing him that his twenty-two-year-old daughter was serving thirty days without the option of substituting any of that for a fine was simply unthinkable.
He decided that, if she got off lightly, even more drastic measures would have to be observed to stem her behavior before she ended up with a lengthy prison sentence for something or other.
In the morning, he went to the court, where Adeline was brought before the magistrate, still clad only in her underthings, and covered in something resembling soot. Had she escaped up the chimney? She presented no defense, so she was quickly found guilty and fined five pounds.
Edward paid the fine and escorted her out of the courthouse with a grim expression on his face. He took a cab back to Moray Place and didn’t speak a word throughout the journey. Neither did she, although he suspected her silence came down to stubbornness rather than disappointment at her own behavior. In the drawing room, when she stood before his green leather-topped desk, he finally spoke.
“You have literally no shame. You paraded around town in your negligee, covered in goodness knows what, consorted with vagabonds and then, to top it off, you stole a policeman’s helmet. What reason did you possibly have?”
Instead of answering, Adeline merely stared at him defiantly.
“How did you escape from the house?”
She continued to say nothing. It was the first time he’d ever heard her stay silent when she had an opportunity to talk.
“Will you at least tell me why you decided to run away again?”
She wouldn’t. He sighed. This was going nowhere. In a swift movement that made her jump, he moved toward her and pulled her flimsy underclothing off. She squeaked in shock. Bared before him, her pert breasts were crowned by big pink nipples, which turned into hard pebbles before his eyes.
“What do I have to do to get you to behave yourself?” he asked. It was mostly rhetorical at this point, since she was refusing to speak and he already had her punishment planned out.
“Bend over the desk and push your bottom up.” He was expecting her to fight him, but she didn’t. Instead, she looked at him with dead eyes then did as she was told.
He took the tawse out of the drawer where he kept it and held it out for her to see; the stiff leather shone where it had been regularly polished.
“You will receive a hand spanking then twelve of the tawse.” He placed the two-tailed implement beside her, so she could consider her fate while he spanked her.
Before he punished her, he examined her bottom thoroughly. The punishments of the previous two days were fading, and her peachy skin was a tantalizing vision. He felt himself stirring as he contemplated her. It was such a shame to have to keep disciplining her, when there were so many more interesting things to do with her instead, if only she would let him into her heart.
He steeled himself and put a hand on her back, then swatted her sit-spot hard with his other hand.
Stubborn as a mule, she didn’t give any indication that she had felt it.
When Edward spanked her, Adeline forced herself to not make a sound. She didn’t want him to know whether he was hurting her or not. As he continued, however, she found it difficult to avoid responding, and eventually she had to concede that it was impossible to stay quiet. His hand was raining swats on her cheeks and it stung like the dickens. As her breathing became labored and her bottom burned, she felt something happening between her legs, just like during her previous punishments. Her nipples had hardened as soon as the air touched them, but now that place between her legs fluttered to life, and to top it all off, a damp warmth seemed to spread through her. She sighed in amazement, then realized she’d done it aloud.
“For heaven’s sake, girl, this is a punishment. Will you take nothing seriously?” When he resumed spanking her, his hand was much harder. The sensual sting now had a much more unpleasant edge to it, and soon she was struggling not to sob.
“Better,” he grumbled, and stopped spanking her. Adeline hoped he would give her time to recover in the corner, whilst the tingles in her cheeks had an opportunity to radiate through her soul, but he did not.
The tawse moved from beside her, and she felt a familiar sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. Then, hardly making a sound, it lashed out and connected with her bottom sharply, making her gasp. The pain blossomed across her rear. It sent a jolt of electricity straight to her womb. She wanted to rub her stinging bottom, but her hands were pinned between her body and the desk. The tawse landed again; he was definitely using it much harder than he had the day before, and Adeline was afraid that she might not be able to take twelve strokes of this.
The tawse landed a third time and she growled into the desk. When it came down again, she cried out. The fifth, sixth, and seventh strokes were rapid, and left little time for her to hold her emotions in, so that by the time the eighth landed, she was howling loudly. The ninth was lower than the others, and she flew upright and grasped her rear in both hands, rubbing it for half a second before Edward firmly propelled her back over the desk, then he grasped both her wrists and pinned them behind her waist.
“You’ll receive two extra strokes for that,” he informed her.
“Go and fuck yourself.” The words came out of her mouth with no input from her brain and she listened to her voice in horror. There was a moment of silence and she was certain he was considering calling an exorcist. She honestly didn’t know why she’d said it.
“All right, four, then. But first, I’m going to wash your mouth out with soap for speaking to me so rudely.”
She said nothing as he left the room then returned with an enamel bowl of water and a bar of soap, which he placed on the desk next to her. When he had dipped his fingers into the water, ready to cover them in soap, she couldn’t resist the impulse to quickly move one of her hands out and shove the water and soap off the desk. The bowl clattered to the floor and the soap landed with a wet thud.
“I was going to put a little soap on your tongue to make the point, but since you’ve thrown the water on the floor I shall simply have to put the entire bar in your mouth.”
“Not bloody likely!” she retorted, certain that she didn’t want the hated soap near her face. Preempting her reaction, he moved his hand to hold her down on the desk a moment before she tried to stand. She shrieked and tried to kick him.
All the while, her body cried out for him to win, to defeat her, to prove that he was truly in control. She wished it didn’t have to end with a bar of soap in her mouth, but she knew she would never submit to his will unless she was certain he would overpower her whenever she didn’t comply. It wasn’t something she seemed to have a choice about, and perhaps that was why she had sworn at him and pushed the bowl off the desk. She wanted to do anything he said, but she needed to know she could trust him to always win, even when she made it impossible.
“Sooner or later you will have to stop acting like this. And it is an act. I remember you as a young lady, when I visited your home. You were kind and polite. You know how to behave properly. For some reason you are choosing not to.”
It was so unfair; he had no right to tell her what she used to be like. When she opened her mouth to speak, he shoved the soap in so it pressed her back teeth open, held her tongue down and pushed against her cheeks. It was so far inside her mouth that it was impossible to rid herself of it. Trying to spit it out only resulted in getting more soap on her tongue. She squeaked through her nose and her eyes widened as it started to take effect. It burned and tasted foul.
While she was thus distracted, he picked up the tawse and brought it down on her defenseless bottom. She tried to rid her mouth of the soap again, but it was stuck between her furthest back teeth, and she only succeeded in drooling on the desk. It was so humiliating that she wanted to cry.
“You will keep the soap in your mouth for the rest of this punishment. Would you like to continue this ludicrous battle of wills?” he demanded. She shook her head in defeat.
He said nothing more, and the tawse landed an eleventh time. The burning stripe landed over the top of some of the earlier ones, and made her bite down a little on the soap. Five strokes were left, and she already couldn’t bear it. If only she had kept her silence. She fervently hoped the tawse would break on the twelfth stroke, but it remained strong and hard as it cracked against her bottom. Even though Edward was being stoic about this, she was sure the sadistic tawse was delighting in its handiwork.
She shifted her weight slightly and was reminded of the growing wetness between her thighs, as the thirteenth lash found its home on the crest of her buttocks and she howled some more. There was a stray thought that desired him to do something more than this, to show her his complete mastery of her body, but she wasn’t entirely certain what she needed from him.
The final three strokes thundered through her, and she felt something inside her being forced out; some of the unpleasantness that made her break windows and steal police officers’ helmets. When the last one made her scream into the soap, she strained against Edward’s firm grip that held her against the wood and leather. As the pain in her bottom and the unpleasantness in her mouth continued attacking her, she stayed over the desk for several seconds in a stunned silence.
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