Lilly padded down the stairs, and Justin thought she was cuter than anyone had a right to be. She was wearing onesie pajamas with a pattern of penguins and polar bears against a baby blue background. Her long hair was brushed into pigtails that were secured next to her ears with blue ribbons. Her face was bright and happy, glowing even without makeup.
She climbed into his lap, and he patted her on the bottom. “How are you doing tonight, Miss Lilly?” he asked her.
She snuggled against his chest, nudging her head between his neck and shoulder. She smelled like shampoo and vanilla soap. “Good, Daddy,” she said. “Can we watch a movie and have popcorn?”
“We can in a little bit,” he told her. “We have some business to take care of first.”
She pulled her head away to look at him and frowned. “What?”
“You know it’s time for your maintenance spanking. Dr. Stark said you need it once a week,” said Justin firmly.
Lilly shook her head vigorously. “It’s not fair. I wasn’t naughty. Why do I still get a spankin’?”
“We’ve been through this before,” Justin told her calmly. “Dr. Stark says your maintenance spanking is like a prescription for medication. You need one every week to help you remember your place, and I need it to help me remember mine.”
“But I know my place!” argued Lilly.
“Well, I need the reminder,” said Justin. He turned Lilly around on his lap and gently nudged her to a standing position. Then he held her hands and pulled her between his knees. “I love you, Lilly-bug, and I love our lives now. Don’t you?”
She nodded, still frowning.
“If we want to stay positive and keep ourselves in the right frame of mind, we’re going to have to follow Dr. Stark’s advice.”
Lilly pursed her lips. “Forever?”
He shrugged. “If that’s what it takes.”
She sighed. “It’s not fair.”
Justin smiled. She wouldn’t be his Lilly if she didn’t put up an argument. “Who am I?”
“The daddy,” she mumbled.
“Right. I’m the daddy,” he said. “And who are you?”
She shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “I’m the little girl.”
“Right again,” said Justin approvingly. “So who gets to decide what’s fair? Is it the little girl?”
She shook her head softly. “It’s the daddy.”
“Yes it is,” said Justin. “And don’t you forget it.” He guided her down and gently positioned her over his lap. Her head rested on the sofa cushions, and her feet hung behind her in the air. He patted her protruding bottom over the pajamas. “I love you, sweetheart.”
“I love you too, Daddy,” she answered softly.
Justin undid the two buttons on the back of the pajamas, and then he pushed back the large flap. It was more than just a trap door and was generous enough to reveal Lilly’s whole bottom. Lilly was wearing white panties. He pushed the fabric aside, running his hands over her bottom cheeks.
Then he pulled her panties down and left them to rest on her thighs. Then he looked down at her full, creamy bottom and felt that it was just waiting for his attention. He ran his hand over each cheek, squeezing a little at the bottom.
“No paddle tonight as long as you behave, okay?” he asked.
She nodded into the sofa as Justin raised his hand. He slapped her hard across one cheek and then the other, and Lilly squealed.
He ignored the protests. Being loud was just part of being Lilly. He swatted her again, noticing with satisfaction the way his fingers left a faint pink outline on the pale skin. He continued the slow swats until Lilly began to wiggle, showing signs of growing distress.
“Okay, young lady,” he told her. “You’ve been a good girl today, and that makes Daddy very happy. I like it when you listen to Daddy’s instructions and obey. Now we’re going to make sure that you remember to behave like that every day so Daddy won’t have to spank you hard. Right?”
She nodded and said, “Yes, Daddy.”
He noted that her voice wasn’t panicked or tearful, so he knew the spanking could continue at the same intensity as before. He had learned from Dr. Stark how to look for these signs.
Justin began spanking her again, his hand falling faster on her unprotected bottom. She immediately started to squirm and whine. “Daddy! Daddy! Ouch!”
He spanked her whole bottom to a dark shade of pink and then began to focus on the bottom of her cheeks. He liked to make sure that area took most of the impact. He knew she would feel traces of it the next day when she sat or walked. He also liked to concentrate his energy there because it was close to her sex, and he wanted to reinforce that mysterious intertwining of discipline, love and physical intimacy.
He painted her cheeks in an ombre pattern, going from pink at the top and building into red toward the bottom. He could hear her sniffling, and he knew the tears were about to fall. He took the opportunity to swat her hard and fast, low and in the center of her bottom.
As he’d predicted, she started to cry. “I’m sorry, Daddy. I’m sorry.” She said it over and over again. Justin finished with a hard volley of smacks and then began rubbing her bottom in smooth, circular motions.
“Good girl,” he told her. “You did very well.”
She put her hands on his thigh and pushed herself up onto all fours. Then she climbed back into his lap. She was sniffling, and he could see tears in her eyes, but she wasn’t hysterical. She was just where she should be after a maintenance spanking, and he silently congratulated himself on his skill.
He held her close to him, rocking her slightly in his lap, as her whimpering slowed and then stopped. Then he kissed her on the top of her head.
“I love you so much,” he told her.
She smiled. “I love you, Daddy.”
Justin breathed in her scent and took in the sensation of her clinging to him. She was his, and he was hers, and life was wonderful.
He thought back to just a few months before and felt a wave of gratitude. Things could have easily turned out very differently.
Four months previously…
“No,” said Lilliana Marie Granger. Then, even more emphatically, she said it again. “No.”
“Come on, Lilliana,” Justin pleaded. He looked at his watch. He was already ten minutes late for his first meeting of the day, and he still had to drive to work. “You have to take it back. We don’t have that kind of money.”
“I don’t care,” Lilliana said. “You’ll find a way to pay for it. It’s what I want.”
Justin ran a hand through his dark hair. “Listen, baby, I’d like to be able to give you everything you want. I do give you lots of the things you want, but we can’t pay for a $50,000 car right now. If you give me a chance to do some financial work, maybe I can figure out a way. Or if we could return one of your other cars, we could probably pay for this one.”
She glared at him. She was still in bed, covered to her waist in the white comforter. She wore a silky, pink nightgown that showed off her modest cleavage, and she was propped up against a large, white pillow. She held her phone in one hand and her tablet in the other.
The room smelled like the jasmine essential oils that were being dispersed via a diffuser Lilliana had spent more than $300 on the day before. It sat on the white fabric that covered her white nightstand. Her white lamp stood up next to it.
Justin was still getting used to the new decorating plan that had the whole house in white. He felt like he was living in a snowstorm, but the interior design expert had promised Lilliana that this was the newest, latest trend. Lilliana hated not to be on trend.
Justin growled. The stress was causing him to sweat under his suit, and he didn’t want to have to keep the jacket on all day at the office. He was scheduled for a series of meetings that day that were likely to put him under a lot of pressure.
“Lil, I can’t talk about this now. I’m late, and you know this afternoon’s meeting could have a huge impact on my job,” he said. He was almost pleading with her.
She grimaced. “You care more about your job than you do about me.”
He shook his head and sighed. He had heard this before. “I care about my job because it’s what allows me to make the money that lets you buy all these things you want. I have to work, or you wouldn’t be happy.”
“I wouldn’t have married you if I’d known how much time you’d be spending at work,” she grumbled.
Justin closed his eyes. He was actually spending more time at work since they’d gotten married because she was becoming increasingly more difficult to be around, but he couldn’t tell her that. “I’m going now,” he said to her. He hoped she might show some sign of wanting to work things out, but she didn’t.
“Then go,” she said dismissively.
He walked out of his white bedroom, down his white hallway and right out the white front door.
Gordon Downs was sitting in Justin’s office when he finally made it to work. Justin didn’t say anything to Gordon until he’d put his things in order. He took his laptop out of its bag and set it up on the desk. Then he settled into his chair. Gordon waited patiently.
Gordon Downs was the man who had recommended Justin for his job more than ten years before. He was about fifteen years older than Justin and had a lot of advice to give. He had been dead set against Justin marrying Lilliana, but Justin had ignored his counsel and done it anyway.
“I missed the meeting,” said Justin.
Gordon nodded. “It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Where were you?”
Justin sighed, trying to conjure up an excuse. Then he changed his mind. He needed someone he could be real with. “I was fighting with Lil again,” he admitted. “We’ve been married six months, and we’re already miserable.”
Gordon nodded his head. “What’s the problem now?”
“She just dumped $50,000 on a car,” Justin said. “She’s already got two cars she barely drives, but she won’t get rid of those. She doesn’t understand that we don’t have an unlimited cash flow.”
Gordon looked like he was carefully considering what he wanted to say. It was not lost on Justin that Gordon had been the one to tell him Lilliana was a gold digger who was as interested in his money as she was in him. Justin had not believed him, thinking Lil was a sweet girl at heart who had just been ignored most of her life. He thought that if he loved her, he could change her.
“You know, Justin,” Gordon said thoughtfully. “It might just be time to give up on this marriage. Chalk it up to a mistake and move on with your life. You haven’t been together that long, and you don’t have any children yet.”
Justin put his head in his hands. “I’ve thought that myself, but Lilliana insists she wants to stay married. I can’t just walk out on her after promising to love her for the rest of my life.”
“So divorce is out of the question?” said Gordon.
Justin nodded. “I think it is. I’m just going to have to figure out a way to make this work.”
Gordon stood. His paunchy body still held a hint of the athleticism he’d had when he was young, and Justin had always thought he looked very strong when he stood up to his full height. Justin himself was tall and slender. He had been okay at sports but never was a shining star. He’d always felt at a disadvantage to more well-built guys and often believed that his body was what had made it seem to be so hard for him to find a girlfriend. When beautiful Lilliana had shown interest, Justin had allowed his own ego to blind him to reality.
“I have something for you,” said Gordon. “Stay here.”
Justin fired up his laptop and took a look at the day’s schedule while he waited for Gordon to return. His friend was back in just a few moments. He handed Justin a small card.
It read, “Dr. Stark’s Reformatory; Allen Stark.” Then it listed a phone number and an e-mail address.
“What is this?” asked Justin. “Reformatory?”
Gordon tipped his head in thought. The he said, “I’ve known Allen a long time. He’s kind of like a marriage counselor, but very intense.”
Justin shook his head. “I don’t think Lilliana would agree to counseling.”
“Well, I’d like you to give this guy a call and just speak to him about your situation. He might be able to help you,” said Gordon. “Will you call him at least?”
Justin nodded and put the card in his pocket. He didn’t have high hopes for the idea, but he was willing to try anything.
“Good,” said Gordon. “Now you’ve got a meeting to prepare for.”
Justin said goodbye to his friend and went back to his laptop. The card stayed in his pocket until later that afternoon.
The meetings Justin had managed to attend that day had gone very well. He was pleased with his work and felt good about his chances of gaining some notoriety in the company and maybe even being considered for a promotion. He wanted to call Lilliana and tell her the good news. He sat down at his desk after the final meeting of the day and pulled the large office phone toward him.
Just then there was a gentle knocking at his office door.
“Come in!” he called.
Jackie, a young woman in a green business suit and high heels, entered the room. She was one of Justin’s co-workers who had been in the meetings with him that day. She gave him a grin and handed him his jacket.
“You left this hanging over the back of your chair,” she said. Then she dug into her pocket and pulled out a card. “This fell out.”
It was the card Gordon had given him earlier. He thanked Jackie. Then he hung his jacket on the back of the office chair and put the card on the desk.
He reached for the phone again, but this time he decided to call a different number. He didn’t want to speak to Lilliana after all. He wanted to talk to Dr. Allen Stark.
“Stark here,” said the person on the other end of the phone.
Justin was surprised. He’d expected a secretary or at least a voice mail message. “Um, hello. My name is Justin. My friend, Gordon Downs recommended I speak to you.”
“Ah, yes!” said the doctor. “Any friend of Gordon’s is a friend of mine. Why we played in the same trombone line in college, you know.”
Justin tried to picture Gordon with a trombone. He couldn’t do it.
“Yes, well, doctor,” said Justin. “I’m having some trouble with my wife. We’ve only been married for a few months, but she just doesn’t seem happy. Gordon said you are helpful in those situations?”
“Absolutely, Justin,” said Dr. Stark. “But it’s best if you visit the reformatory before you make any decisions. This is not a typical program. Did Gordon tell you anything about it at all?”
Justin said that he hadn’t, so Dr. Stark continued. “Can you meet me here tomorrow morning?” he asked.
“Yes,” said Justin. He took down the address and then hung up the phone.
Justin didn’t go home until very late that night and then he slept in the guest room. He did not want to see Lilliana because he knew they would only fight. Instead, he pinned his hopes on Dr. Stark and waited to see what this mysterious man had to say.