Promise for a New Year

Promise for a New Year

It looked like being a bummer of a Christmas, Julie decided, glumly sorting through the box of decorations. Mice or moths had gotten into the box and chewed big holes into the felt ornaments, including the stockings. Some of the glass balls had broken as well.

She wondered if Dave would buy her any presents at all. She’d bought the decorations with such high spirits and expectations last year, too. She and Dave had been married just three months at the time. It was all so new and glamorous and exciting. The holidays were just the frosting. They had been so much in love. They’d played Gift of the Magi with each other, exchanging presents they could barely afford but would treasure forever.

How did things get so complicated in twelve months? She couldn’t even identify when it had started to go wrong.

Maybe it was just after the holidays last year, when Dave had decided they needed to start saving for a down payment on a house. He took on extra hours at work to make more money. She didn’t mind at first, but the more he was away, the lonelier Julie got.

Eventually she hooked up with a group of women in the apartment complex and started going out with them for simple dinners, a movie, bowling, or the occasional drink. Trouble was, they were all either divorced or single, and they were all pretty much down on men. Julie wasn’t, but after a while she found herself adopting their attitude.

Dave was not amused, and they had a couple of arguments about it. They would make up afterward, though, with lots of kisses and promises, and their relationship would be great for a few days.

The first major blow-up happened the night Dave came home from work, exhausted from a twelve-hour day, and found Julie and her friends lounging in the living room, nibbling cheese crackers, drinking, and wreaking their usual verbal devastation on the entire male half of the population. Marilyn had complained about being dumped by her latest flame. Julie said something like, “Well, you know how men are. They’ll love you and leave you every time, if they can get away with it.”

She didn’t really believe it; she’d only said it because it sounded sophisticated and worldly. Dave overheard, and they argued long into the night. When he admitted to some responsibility for their problems, Julie also apologized, just to restore the peace. She didn’t like being at odds with her husband. She loved him and wanted him to be happy.

It was at times like those that she wished she could tell him about the secret desire lurking in the deepest recesses of her mind. She’d die before she’d admit it to any of her friends, but there was a part of her that wanted a different sort of treatment from her husband. She had a long-nourished, secret desire for sterner mastery, for a loving but more severe discipline.

She couldn’t even bring herself to tell Dave about it, though she’d hinted at it once or twice, very obliquely. It was ridiculous and childish and kinky and politically incorrect. But she sometimes wished Dave would do more than just yell and berate her when he was unhappy with her; she wanted him to turn her over his knee or stretch her out on the bed and give her a good, hard spanking.

She fantasized about it when they made love, dreaming that he’d order her to strip, then lay across the bed, warning her not to move while he smacked her bottom with his hand or a paddle or strap or any other instrument of corporal punishment. She couldn’t tell him about those daydreams. She wasn’t even sure what she really wanted. It was fun to fantasize about, but wouldn’t it be unbearably humiliating and painful if it actually happened?

That hidden longing might be part of the reason she continued to defy him. The night of the first big argument they ended up trying to compromise. He didn’t like her friends and he didn’t like her spending so much time with them, but he agreed to try to be more tolerant if she would keep from adopting some of their more sour and cynical attitudes. He also said he’d see about cutting back on his work schedule.

It worked for a while. He spent more time with her, and she didn’t go out with the ‘girls’ as often. They had a couple of good months before Dave’s boss asked him to help with one of their biggest accounts. It was a chance for Dave to show his ability and would almost certainly lead to a promotion if he did a good job. It also meant a return to the long hours.

Dave swore the change would be temporary; he just needed to establish his credentials with this customer, and everything would fall into place. But after a month of it, the loneliness crept over her, and Julie started increasing the time spent with her friends again.

This time, when she began to speak their cynical language, it was less feigned. She started to wonder whether Dave cared more about the job than about her. They had another huge battle in September, when she told him she wanted to go with her friends to the beach for a weekend while he was at a business conference.

He didn’t want her to go, though he stopped short of absolutely forbidding it. He listed all the good reasons he didn’t think a weekend with those women would be wise or healthy for her. He wasn’t willing to give up his business conference, however, and after all the lonely nights, Julie didn’t want to spend an entire weekend by herself with nothing to do. Dave never actually agreed to her going, but he backed off and quit arguing.

Julie went. She didn’t say much about the weekend later, knowing that he’d have a fit if he heard about the drinking and the spectacle her friends had made in the bar. They didn’t talk much at all for a while, since the weekend precipitated a period of coolness between them. They made love when the pressure got strong enough, but it lacked the spontaneity and sharing and joy of earlier in their marriage.

As fall progressed toward winter, they drifted apart. Dave spent more time at the office. Julie took a part-time job to keep her occupied, discovered she was competent, and accepted a full-time position when offered it. Oddly, Dave didn’t object to the job. In fact, he had encouraged her to apply in the first place and seemed to appreciate her achievements. Probably he liked the fact that it left her less time to spend with the friends.

But there were still the long evenings and she continued to see the other women. When she and Dave visited her family for Thanksgiving, the obvious coolness between them caused her mother to ask about it and to offer subtle suggestions concerning marriage counseling or the possibility that a child might help close the gap.

That had been almost two weeks ago. Last night, they’d had another argument, this time with no resolution resulting. They’d yelled at each other, called each other terrible names, and said unforgivable things. Julie suspected their marriage was over. All along she had known Dave would have to make a decision: the job or her. It looked like she’d lost.

She debated about replacing the destroyed Christmas stockings but decided there was no point in it. That evening she went out with her friends again. The others drank frequently and sometimes heavily, but Julie usually stopped after one beer or a glass of wine. She got sick from too much alcohol. On that particular night she needed something to help her bear the grief, blot out the misery.

By the time she’d finished the fourth beer, the buzz was almost deafening, and the room began to spin around her. Unfortunately she’d been elected to do most of the driving for the group since she was usually the only one to remain sober. The others were too drunk to notice her incapacity. Luck stayed with her, and she made it home without having an accident or being stopped.

Dave had come back in the interim. He saw her stagger in and exploded. “Good God, what have you done to yourself? You look like…” He stopped and sniffed as she reeled against the wall and let it help prop her up. “You’ve been drinking,” he said. “Quite a bit?” The room wasn’t just spinning anymore, it was bobbing up and down and fading in and out. She felt seasick.

Dave looked past her to the parking lot. “Don’t tell me you actually drove home in this condition?” His gaze locked on hers, though she had to close her eyes as the room tilted and his head seemed to swoop. “You did, didn’t you?” he accused. “I can’t believe you could be that stupid! Did you stop to think for even a minute–!”

Bad things were happening in her stomach. Julie clapped a hand to her mouth and rushed for the bathroom, making it with no time to spare. After the spasms wore themselves out, Dave came in, helped her clean up, change clothes, and finally rolled her into bed, where she promptly passed out.

She woke in the morning with a pounding head and a stomach that still wasn’t sure which way was up. He brought her a glass of ginger ale and two Tylenols. She drank and didn’t argue when he suggested she go back to sleep. The clock said nearly two o’clock when she woke again. Her head felt better, and her stomach rumbled with hunger.

Dave sat in the living room reading a magazine when she wandered out, still in her nightgown. “Feeling better?” he asked.

“You’re not at work?”

“My wife’s sick.”

“I’ve got a hangover,” Julie corrected.

“You need taking care of.”

“When did you decide that?”

“When I saw you stagger in last night and figured out you’d driven home in that condition.”

Julie stared at him. There was something going on here, something she didn’t understand. She couldn’t tell what he meant, but his tone suggested deeper meanings in his words. “I’ve learned my lesson,” she said.

“You’ve just begun to learn,” he answered.

“What?”

He stood up and tossed the magazine aside. “I’ve been worried about you and the company you’ve been keeping for months now. Last night you scared me to death when I realized what you’d done. This can’t go on. I’m rolling the dice, but we’re going to make some changes around here. We’ll kill it or cure it. Get back in the bedroom.” His tone changed on the last few words, taking on a stern character that wouldn’t tolerate refusal.

She hesitated. “Kill or cure what?”

“Our marriage.”

He took her arm to lead her down the hall, back to their bedroom. He pushed the door closed with his foot. “You’ve done stupid things before, but this wasn’t just stupid, it was dangerous. Extremely dangerous. You’re lucky you didn’t kill yourself or somebody else.”

“I won’t do it again.”

“I sincerely hope not. And I intend to do everything in my power to assure it. Lie down on the bed. Near the end.” Their bed had no footboard.

“What are you–?” She hadn’t noticed the metal ruler on his dresser until it flashed in the light as he picked it up. It was sixteen inches long, two inches wide, and it had holes punched along its length. “Dave, what’s…?” A horrible thought crossed her mind. She had hinted about her fantasies to him. “You aren’t going to…? With that? I mean, you can’t!”

“Can’t I?” He turned to face her across the bed. “Julie?” For the first time since he’d become so stern, she heard hesitation in his voice. “Look at me.”

She did, wondering how much she betrayed in the process. She didn’t mind him seeing the surprise or the fear, but she didn’t like him knowing about the lacing of excitement that made her stomach tighten with tension.

“You acted in a dangerous, irresponsible manner, and I plan to punish you for it. Punish you severely and painfully. But if you can look me in the eye and tell me, ‘Dave, I don’t deserve this,’ or ‘Dave, I’m appalled by the whole idea, and I’ll never forgive you if you do it,’ then I won’t.”

She stared at him and tried to make her mouth frame the words. But she couldn’t honestly say either of those things.

“That’s what I thought,” he said. “Lie down.” He came around the bed, still holding the ruler. She draped herself across the bed, near the bottom edge as he’d directed. At least he hadn’t told her to take off the nightgown, so she still had some measure of protection. He didn’t move the fabric before he raised the ruler up to shoulder height. Julie turned her face away.

“I want you to think about what could have happened last night,” he said. “Think about the risks you took.”

He smacked the ruler down across her bottom. It thudded against the flannel material which afforded her some protection. The impact stung her bottom but not as badly as she feared. He smacked again and again. The fabric absorbed enough of the force that the spanking wasn’t too unbearable, though after five or six her bottom began to burn. It hurt some, but the prickling created an exciting heat in her loins that made her squirm. By the time he’d delivered around ten swats, she was starting to relax into the stimulation and thinking that this might not be as bad as she’d anticipated. At twelve he paused.

Julie started to get up, but he said, still in that harsh tone, “Stay put.”

She subsided, then sucked in a frightened breath when she felt him tugging at the nightgown to pull it up over her hips. “No… Please, Dave. No.”

“Yes!” He got the material rolled up to her waist. “A dozen swats and your bottom isn’t even pink.” He sounded disgusted. “It will be now!”

She clenched the muscles in her buttocks when she heard the whizz of the ruler falling again. It hit with a much louder smack on her unprotected skin.

“YeeeeoooOOOOWW” Julie shrieked and tried to push herself off the bed. The previous swats hadn’t begun to prepare her for the pain that strip of metal would cause her naked bottom. It felt like liquid fire poured across her. “Oh lord, it hurts! Dave, I can’t stand it,” she wailed.

His only response was another swat that slapped a ribbon of fire lower on her bottom. She yelled again and rolled, almost falling off the bed. He caught her, repositioned her and stuck a hand on the small of her back to hold her in place. Julie reached around to cover her bottom.

Dave nudged her fingers with the ruler. “Move them.” When she didn’t, he rapped the knuckles on each hand sharply with the ruler. “I’ll keep this up until you move them, and that won’t even count as part of your punishment for driving drunk,” he warned.

Julie groaned but moved her hands, folding them under her head. The ruler smacked against her bottom again. She jumped as the smart clawed into her, though his fingers kept her in position; she yelled a protest and kicked her feet against the mattress. “No more. That’s enough, Dave, really, I’ve got the message, that’s enough–”

“I’ll decide what’s enough.” The ruler whacked the lowest curve of her bottom, leaving a blazing, stinging streak.

The excitement of earlier was still there, curling deep into her gut, but the pain of the spanking took precedence. She wailed and moaned. The next two smacks fell across her upper thighs. Julie continued to shriek and moan, bounce and kick. Nothing in her life had ever hurt like this! “Dave,” she pleaded, interspersing the word with moans. “Please, I can’t stand it. Dave, no more.”

His only response was another smack, back on her buttocks, raking over skin already sore from earlier hits. She howled again.

“Think about this the next time you’re tempted to drink and drive,” he said, laying another blow on her hot, tender bottom.

“God! God, Dave, it hurts! It hurts! It’s killing me!”

“Your bottom’s getting kind of red, but you’re not in any danger,” he answered. “You’re being punished. It’s supposed to hurt. A lot. It doesn’t work if it doesn’t hurt a lot.”

Julie wondered about her sanity as another swat hit her, hot and heavy, sending a raging burn deep into her body. She’d always been excited about the idea of being spanked, of being lovingly mastered and corrected. It had never occurred to her that it would hurt so much! She screamed and struggled as another blow fell right across the middle of her bottom, then a second followed it up in the same place. She’d never imagined she ever could, ever would feel such pain. She never wanted to again!

Her yell finally trailed off, and she broke down into tears, crying hard and fiercely into the bedcovers. “I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. I’ll never do it again.”

He stopped to listen to her sobbing promise. “I hope so,” he said in a gentler but still stern voice. “I hope so. Half a dozen more and that’ll end it.”

“I can’t! Oh, please, Dave, mercy!” The only mercy he offered was to lay on each of those blows quick and hard, in such rapid succession that she barely had time to draw a breath to yell between each one. The fire exploded in her bottom as he kept stoking it. She howled louder and louder as the pain grew so bad she kicked and bounced and clawed at the bedcovers.

He finished the punishment with a wicked swipe right across the middle of her bottom that drew a long shriek as she rolled around on the bed, despite his hand, unable to bear the horrible sting anymore. When she calmed down again, he told her to roll back into position. She cried harder but didn’t try to defy him.

He didn’t hit her again, but said, “You stay like this until I say you can move. Think about how it feels, and think about how it’ll be next time. I catch you drinking and driving again, and you’ll get twice that.”

Dave went and got his magazine, brought it back into the bedroom, and settled on the bed with his back against the headboard to read. She knew that he looked up from time to time to watch her. Julie imagined her bottom must be glowing as red as a Christmas tree bulb.

She didn’t actually think much about not repeating her wild behavior, except for a brief consideration of how much a spanking twice as long would hurt. Her bottom still throbbed, though the sharpest of the sting subsided. She might even have a few bruises. Right now, though, she was most aware of the heat from the warmed flesh of her behind working into the deeper parts of her being, into her loins, where it joined and heightened another kind of warmth.

Julie squirmed, wiggling herself against the covers, wondering if Dave noticed. If so, he didn’t let on. He looked — she couldn’t read it exactly — stern, satisfied, but maybe a bit apprehensive as well. It occurred to her that he’d begged off work to take care of her today. Take care of, in all the senses of the word. Maybe she’d been wrong about losing out to his job.

Half an hour went by before he said she could move. She looked up at him to gauge his mood, then crawled along the bed, into his arms. He held her as if she were some precious gift he’d been given, then kissed her with fierce longing. When they made love, it was like it had been a year ago: eager, tender, needy, passionate, joyful, and sweet.

His tongue tangled with hers for a while before he kissed lower, traveling over her breasts, nipping at her nipples, then moving lower to lick over her belly and down to her slit. She screamed and squealed as his mouth worked her secret recesses until she exploded in delight. When he pushed his cock into her, though, she tensed again, and came again when he climaxed.

He waited for a couple of days to pass before he asked about her feelings on his drastic action.

“Part of me’s been wanting you to do that since we first met,” Julie admitted. “The idea has always excited me.” She gave him a twisted smile. “I didn’t realize it would hurt so much, though. Still… Afterward…”

“Yes, afterward!” He chuckled at her awkwardness.

“And it was… There was something else about it… Like you were saying you loved me in a very special way. Taking time off work to ‘take care’ of me. But I knew it was because you were so concerned.”

“There’s no going back,” he warned.

“I don’t want to go back. I want to go forward.”

“Good. I’ve been looking around for another job. I was offered one today that interests me. The work’s exciting and it won’t involve a lot of overtime. The pay’s a little less, but we can handle that. I’d rather wait a little longer to get a house, and have a family to move into it.”

“Still, we’d better not wait too long on that house. The neighbors might start hearing funny noises here.”

“True,” he admitted. “But we’ve just about got the down payment ready anyway.”

So Julie did buy new Christmas stockings. And new ornaments for the tree. And she looked forward to the big day with more anticipation then ever before. But what she found in her stocking on Christmas morning was both shock and surprise.

Dave watched her face as she noticed the bundle of twigs sticking out the top. “You forgot that old business about how bad boys and girls got switches in their stockings?” He grinned at her. “But you haven’t been all bad, so you better look under the switches, too.”

The necklace wasn’t a terribly expensive one, but the design was exquisite, and she loved the combination of stones. She’d pointed it out to Dave on a shopping trip just a few nights ago, never expecting that he’d get it for her. Julie had to pinch herself to believe what was happening. The switches and the necklace: together, they made a heady promise for a happier new year.

Copyright 1995 by Katherine Kingston