Monday, 20 June 2011

Executive Encounter

Story from Janus 80.

Executive Encounter
by Richard Watson

GLANCING at his watch, Brent Matthews suddenly realised how drained he was. It was well past six o'clock and there was no certainty that the negotiations would finish that evening. It had been three gruelling days so far, and yesterday alone had involved some twelve hours of talks. On flying over from New York, Brent had estimated it would take two days at the most to wrap up the biggest syndication deal of his career. He had been wrong.

What he hadn't fully considered was his counterpart across the table in the plush boardroom high above the City of London. In Cynthia Ward, Brent had met his match — and then some! She looked to be in her late thirties at the most, but Brent knew she must be over 40 to be Finance Director of a major British multinational. This woman had broken the mould, so he'd been told — and this week he had learned why. The hard way!

Even in her dark smartly-tailored business suit and white silk blouse, Cynthia was stunning. Her shoulder-length auburn hair and creamy complexion, her slender but full-breasted figure and her pert nose and sensual mouth all attracted attention. But it was her sparkling green eyes, which seemed to show such eagerness to engage in corporate combat, that unsettled Brent the most — to such an extent that at first he scarcely noticed the rest of her undoubted physical assets in the thrust and parry of their exchanges.

The bank's London branch had warned him that she would be stubborn and meticulous. Even in fatigue, Brent could only gaze at his opponent with a respect almost bordering on awe. He knew, however, that he could concede no more in the proposal. It was an eight-figure long-term capital financing plan to bring this conglomerate into new Asian markets, ones they clearly desired. Given the prospect of his employer being the lead bank, with all the fees involved and the pure prestige of simply landing this huge corporate fish, Brent saw his personal goal of moving up from Senior Vice President to Executive VP as almost assured — if, of course, he could close this deal. But all his cards had been played; he simply awaited the response and expected a delay.

'I think we have a feasible arrangement now, Mr Matthews,' said Cynthia Ward at last. 'The refinancing clauses look quite suitable to me, and the front-end fees have been reduced to what our projections allowed for. I'm confident now in taking this to our board if you want to revise all the points we've discussed in the draft.'

Brent could feel the relief spread throughout his body at her words. He wanted to savour the moment, yet not show it. Still, he had given up quite a bit; she'd been superb in her persistence. He quickly promised to fine-tune the draft tomorrow and leave a copy on Friday.

Only then, as they walked out of the conference-room, did Brent feel relaxed enough to look at Cynthia as something other than a skilled negotiator. Tall and spare, with a dusting of white in his neat dark hair, Brent knew that he looked distinguished and passably handsome. Since his traumatic divorce two years before, he had had little time or inclination to consider feminine company. Cynthia Ward, however, was in a league of her own. 'Well, with that done,' he ventured, 'can I buy you dinner tonight? To celebrate, of sorts.'

She paused, regarding him shrewdly. 'It's tempting, I'll admit,' she demurred. 'But I have a good two hours of work still to clear off my desk, I'm afraid.'

'At least a drink then, after,' Brent persisted. 'You can't just go straight home after a day like this. My hotel bar would be a good choice.'

She took just a second to seemingly mull it over in her mind. 'Fine,' she said, 'if that suits you, Mr Matthews. But I won't be there till nine at the earliest.' Then she was gone.

Brent felt that one advantage of a five-star West End hotel was an elegant bar which offered a discreet and intimate setting. But it was closer to ten o'clock than nine before Cynthia Ward finally walked in. Watching her approach the table, he suddenly became fully conscious of just how exciting this woman also was from the neck down. Even her executive style of dress could not conceal her voluptuous shape. Cynthia was buxom by nature, but with a rather slim waist — due in part, no doubt, to a disciplined fitness programme. Her long shapely legs flowed into full hips, which swayed most enticingly as she trod towards him on high heels.

She sank gracefully into the chair opposite, taking up the same respective position to him that she had adopted during the past three days. But this was relaxation. Feeling satisfied that the arduous negotations were behind them, Brent hoped to ease the conversation into more personal matters. They quickly settled into a first-name basis. He realised that she fascinated him, perhaps because he had never before seen quite this unique combination of beauty, elegance and determination all embodied in the one woman. Having steered deliberately clear of romantic involvements these past two years, Brent was surprised at the keenness of the curiosity he felt about this poised executive.

He was on his second Scotch, while Cynthia was sipping a Campari and soda, when he chose to enquire why such an attractive lady as she had opted for a rigorous career instead of marriage.

Those green eyes searched his as if to calculate the direction this thrust of his might take them. They seemed to read a great deal about him all at once — a facet of her brilliance he had already noted. 'I tend to seek intensity in life,' she replied. 'I've had some exciting relationships with men and was engaged once, but I ended it when I realised that marriage wouldn't succeed in the long term. And my work has continued to challenge me — more than the recent men in my life.' She looked at him keenly and smiled. 'Though there have been moments.'

Brent became aware that Cynthia's directness extended beyond board-rooms and into personal conversations. It was a revelation about her which he could not have known before and, while normally cautious, he felt that an opportunity had arisen to be bold himself.

'I can't imagine you being the type of person married only to your job,' he challenged. 'Haven't you found excitement and fulfilment in sex, if not lasting love?'

Her smile was both subtle and coy. 'Good sex has been the second most intense experience I've had in my life,' she responded enigmatically.

Brent could only guess at her meaning, but felt that he knew Cynthia Ward well enough by now. 'And the first, I presume,' he declared confidently, 'is closing a hard-fought deal for the corporation.'

'No, that's third.'

For a moment, Brent was nonplussed. Her eyes were still fixed on his, the smile was still there and her chin was tilted a little in challenge. He surmised that Cynthia was leading him into something — something he would be delighted to learn. 'All right then,' he asked, nettled yet intrigued. 'What experience ranks first on your "intensity" scale?'

'Being caned,' she said simply.

Brent thought that he must have misheard. He swallowed some Scotch to cover his surprise and felt sure that her prompt response had definitely not been mere ad lib. 'Well, not exactly what I had expected to hear,' he managed at last. 'I hope you'll expand on that, please.'

She gave a soft laugh and tilted her head to brush back the rich auburn hair from her brow. 'You must have learned by now that I don't deal in the "expected",' she teased. 'Though your look of shock was certainly that. With you being American, I wasn't sure you'd know what a caning is.'

'Well,' Brent rallied, 'I've dealt with Brits long enough to know most of the cultural traditions over here, but...'

Cynthia's smile was amused. 'But I expect that you yourself had one of those soft American upbringings,' she goaded, green eyes sparkling. 'Why, I doubt if you were even spanked.'

'You make me somehow feel ashamed to admit you're right,' said Brent. 'I suppose my youth reflected a "progressive" approach.' He looked guardedly at this magnetically attractive woman who held such power to surprise. It was as if she divined his fascination at the extraordinary images she was inspiring in his normally pragmatic mind. 'But you have to provide some background of sorts,' he prompted.

Cynthia relaxed a little and he suddenly realised how tense she had been up to that point. 'I rather thought you'd want to know more. And that means I'll have a second drink.'

Brent's mind spun with anticipation as the waiter served his guest. He had no idea where all this would lead, but was sure she had more in mind than idle chatter.

'To begin with,' Cynthia said, 'I was an only child. My parents were as loving and giving as possible. My father was a respected teacher in a well-regarded public school. But while I was well cared for, both my parents greatly feared a spoilt daughter. My late teens were in the mid-to-late Sixties, and some parental attitudes were slower to change over here than in your country. So, while my home was very loving, it was also a strict one — and in those days that meant there was a cane on hand. Even though up till the age of eighteen it had never been used on me, and I think I regarded it rather as a bluff. An ultimate sanction that would never be used.'

She paused, but only briefly. Brent's focus was now total. 'Please go on,' he said. 'You know you've got my undivided attention.' He realised that his mouth was open and promptly closed it. 'You were eighteen?'

Cynthia nodded. 'By that age, my independent streak was in full force. And at times my nature was virtually rebellious, especially when it came to curfews and dating restrictions. One night over dinner I argued for an end to such limits — given that, at eighteen, I was an adult. When Mummy stressed again that I was subject to their rules as long as I was living under their roof, I lost control and foolishly used the word "bitch". Quite naturally, Daddy then stepped in and said such disrespect required severe correction in the one way I'd be sure to remember.'

Brent stared, his drink forgotten. 'You mean he was going to cane you? At that age?' She nodded again. 'Why didn't you tell him to go to hell?'

'Judgement had already been passed,' she said simply. 'It would have been even more foolish to argue.'

'That doesn't sound like the Cynthia Ward I know,' he observed.

'Oh, I can assure you she exists.' Cynthia sipped her drink and continued, 'It wasn't only the sting that made the caning so dreadful, and therefore effective. It was the formality, the ritual of sorts. I had to report upstairs to my parents' bedroom after a nail-biting period of waiting. A sturdy wooden stool had been brought in and placed in the centre of the room. The cane was discreetly kept in my mother's wardrobe. My father ordered me to take it out and bring it to him. The shame was all the greater, given my own image of self importance at the time.'

'I can well imagine that,' Brent responded with an unfamiliar feeling of being slightly out of his depth. In the subdued light of the bar her face looked softly radiant, the green eyes glowing with reminiscence. For a moment she looked no older than 18, her auburn hair shining.

'Perhaps the worst part was the loss of dignity,' Cynthia was saying. 'Again, it made the punishment all the more effective. The only concession was that I was already over the stool before Mummy took down my knickers.'

Brent caught his breath. 'You mean you got it on the b-bare...?'

'Bare bottom. Yes, quite right. And I was a big girl, remember. Even so, in those times it wasn't quite the extraordinary event it would be today.'

'It's still hard to imagine,' said Brent, swallowing hard, although his mind was vividly creating just such an image. It made his brain spin.

'Also,' her honeyed English voice purred on, 'when Daddy caned me, he expected a contrite attitude. I always addressed him as "Sir" when being disciplined or reprimanded. That one and only caning was twelve strokes — pure agony I can promise you. But I endured it and all was forgiven. I assure you it was dreadful then; but now, almost 25 years later, the event still comes back to me with a poignancy I cannot ignore.' She looked directly at him. 'Still, I expect it makes little sense to you. Does it?'

Brent gulped more whisky and returned Cynthia's gaze. Frankly, he was unsure how to react to this dynamic businesswoman's extraordinary admission, though the excitement which was rising in him seemed more intoxicating than the spirit itself. 'Why me, and why now?' Brent replied carefully, setting down his glass. 'I somehow get the impression you don't tell this story on a er... daily basis.'

'I'll answer that, I promise.' She sat forward, her bosom straining against the silk blouse. 'But first you need a bit more background. Daddy died some ten years ago of a heart attack. It was only last year that Mummy passed away. At first, I planned to sell the old family house in Hampstead, but then I decided to move into it myself. The house has so many happy memories for me, you see — that caning being a rare exception. Anyway, just a few months ago I was rummaging through the attic, sorting items out, and I came upon... upon that very same cane...'

Cynthia paused, watching him. Gauging his reaction.

'Go on,' said Brent. 'You can't stop now!'

She took a breath, then continued a little more quickly. 'I was surprised at first, but my mother was never very good at throwing old things away. Just holding that cane in my hand brought all the sensations flooding back. It certainly hadn't been used since that last night with me over the stool. Oh, and the stool is still there in the house as well.' Again Cynthia paused, then went on, 'So... how shall I put it? The rediscovery of the cane has led to, shall we say, certain urges. A need of sorts, to re-explore, even relive, the past. Do you understand?'

'I think so,' said Brent as evenly as he could. 'And a certain banker from New York seems to fit into these recent urges?'

She smiled, her green eyes shining. 'A clever deduction! It simply fits! You're discreet, I'm sure of that. And I've come to know you just well enough. You have an air of authority, Brent. You can command a situation, you're principled. All traits much like my father's — and that's a compliment, believe me.'

'I take it as such.' He inclines his head coolly, though his heart was thumping.

'So, Brent,' she pursued, moving astutely in as he had seen her do when firming a deal. 'Are you adventurous — and perhaps a bit theatrical? Or at least able to assume a well-crafted role?'

'I can act,' Brent admitted. 'But this part would seem to call for a script.'

'Indeed it does.' Her smile had gone, she was all business again — but her face was transfigured by an excitement he hadn't seen before. 'Your flight back is on Friday, I know, with tomorrow working out of your hotel room. Assuming I can entice you into visiting Hampstead tomorrow night, you'll be receiving a letter in your room during the course of the day. I'm sure you'll be able to proceed easily enough from there once you've read it carefully through.'

With that she stood up, bestowed a lingering look on him, then walked from the bar. He watched her as she went, and very much liked what he saw.

* * *

Brent lay awake most of the night trying to convince himself that the conversation over drinks had really occurred. He realised that his initial physical attraction to Cynthia Ward had already become something more. Her desire to re-enact a youthful caning had at first seemed strange to him, to say the least. But as he considered it further, the unforgettable intensity of such an experience was perhaps understandable. No matter what, he himself now shared her 'sense of adventure' — and seeing her over that stool with bottom bared would be more than enough reward for any histrionics he might be called upon to indulge in.

The promised letter was delivered to Brent's hotel room early the next day. The very thickness of the envelope made it clear that Cynthia either required very little sleep or else had written it out in advance of telling her story. Even for her, though, the latter seemed unlikely.

Common sense told Brent to finish his writing of a draft memorandum before reading the letter, but temptation won over logic. Opening the envelope, he found a twelve-page missive typed with single spacing. No detail was omitted of what was expected of him. He read it through twice, the second time concentrating fully on each sentence. Each nuance of position, attitude and action was fully explained. To his surprise, Brent felt confident that he could portray the role she sought from him. Indeed, the very thought of it filled him with extraordinary excitement. He was to be, in fantasy, more of a 'father figure' than a re-creation of her father. But her instructions on certain aspects were most explicit:

To be of value, the correction itself simply has to be thorough. Any reluctance on your part to be vigorous with the strokes will only disappoint Thus, do not stint in your full use of the cane. Only if you hear me say 'carrots', as a codeword of sorts, should you let up. But that is highly unlikely.

Brent found it difficult to concentrate on his work throughout the afternoon. The invitation to visit the Hampstead house was for 9pm. Just prior to calling for a taxi, he read the letter carefully through for a third time. Yes, he reaffirmed to himself, he could play the part called for, and indeed had begun to relish it.

Cynthia greeted him warmly at the door and offered him a very dry sherry, which he accepted, in the spacious lounge with its view of the Heath. At first, no mention was made of the evening's theme as they eased into a relaxed conversation. This seeming insouciance, and the allure of her appearance, only added to Brent's anticipation. Her cream-coloured high-neck silk blouse with Wedgwood cameo brooch was both elegant and traditional, her bosom swelling ripely inside it; while her tight fawn skirt erotically emphasised the fullness of the curves below her slim waist. Regardless of the role to which she was shortly to return after such a long hiatus, Cynthia Ward's attire proclaimed that this was indeed a mature and exquisite woman.

Finally, after finishing her second glass of sherry, she looked up and said, with a tight little smile that did not quite reach her eyes, 'Shall we proceed?'

Brent knew from the instructions in her letter that once he entered the master bedroom the scene was to begin. He felt keyed-up, keen and on his mettle and, while not having exactly memorised a set of lines, was confident of his own part in the exhilarating scenario that beckoned.

Cynthia had, of course — as the setting required — gone into the bedroom first. When Brent trod firmly up the stairs and opened the door into the large chamber, he might have stepped back in time almost 25 years. In the centre of the room, with ample space around it, stood a tall wooden stool with a faded padded seat. A short distance away, leaning against a large traditional wardrobe, was the cane itself — some three feet in length, with a crook handle. The flexible, mahogany-brown implement was thin and slightly bent — due, no doubt, to its usage in times gone by. And seated demurely on the pink silk coverlet of the double-bed was a beautiful female whose facial expression very much reflected that of a contrite young woman biting her lip in an agony of apprehension.

'Well, young lady,' he began sternly, following the guidelines of his brief. 'Have you thought matters over?'

'Yes, Sir.' Her voice was low, quavering slightly. Her troubled green eyes blinked unhappily up at his tall, dominating figure, then fixed their gaze on her hands where they twisted anxiously together in her lap.


'I'm very sorry for what I said. I shouldn't have been so disrespectful to Mother. I know better than that, and it was very wrong of me.'

While intent on sticking to his role, Brent was stunned by what he was seeing and hearing. Here was Cynthia Ward, financial whizz of one of Britain's leading multinationals, who for three days had superbly negotiated the most complex financing facility he had ever seen, now fully convincing him that she was an 18-year-old girl who had just earned herself a sound caning. Brent's thoughts quickly reverted back to the text of her letter.

Lecture me firmly. Make me feel I deserve every bit of punishment you intend to administer. Leave no doubt as to your resolve to be severe with me.

Brent looked down at the quailing form on the bed, her beautiful features half-obscured by a tumble of auburn hair. Suddenly a sense of power flowed into him, bracing his spine and squaring his stance.

'You may think you are too old for the cane, Cynthia,' he snapped. 'But you're not. Such outbursts have convinced me that a stinging bottom is the best remedy for your tantrums. You still need parental control, my girl, and I'll not shrink from my duty.' Yes indeed, thought Brent, feeling a build-up of righteous anger tempered with a deep concern akin to love: perhaps the theatre was truly my first calling.

'I'm r-really sorry. I am, Sir.' Her lashes were wet and her eyes wide with entreaty and shining with unshed tears. 'P-please don't cane me, Sir.'

'I'm sorry, Cynthia, you know the penalty. Skirts up and over the stool, please.'

'No! Please not!'

'Over the stool, girl!' Brent thundered. 'At once! Don't you dare contradict me!'

Shivering and sniffling, Cynthia stood up from the bed and approached the stool. Then, with her back turned towards Brent, she raised the close-fitting skirt to waist level, draped her body slowly across the padded top, and braced herself bravely. As Brent's gaze absorbed the magnificent sight now on display, her writing again came strongly to his mind.

I'll be wearing navy blue knickers, or panties to you, which represent the time-period. Naturally, it will be your task to take them down.

The plain and sensible undergarment referred to, stretched thinly and tightly over the full, creamy mounds of her buttocks, added just the retrospective touch that helped Brent feel as though it were indeed a quarter of a century ago. He no longer had any problem in seeing Cynthia as the deserving young recipient of his disciplinary efforts, and found total identification with his part in the proceedings.

'Raise your hips, Cynthia,' he commanded. 'I wish to remove your knickers.'


'At once!'

She hastily obeyed, easing her hips off the stool whilst he grasped the waistband. He did not rush, noting with pleasure how the dark blue fabric stretched almost to splitting across the plump cushions of her bottom. Hardly daring to breathe, he peeled the panties down, exposing to his rapt gaze the deeply-cleft bareness of those sumptuous buttocks. He slowly pulled the garment down the long graceful legs and dropped it on the bed.

Then Brent stepped back to fully enjoy what now lay bared and yielding before him. Cynthia Ward had a bottom which combined femininity, maturity and fitness. Its curves were ample, yet firm — as befitted a woman whose subtly advancing years only enhanced her physical charms. Yet any thoughts Brent might have had about other ways of enjoying those ripe hind-quarters straining urgently up towards him across the stool were quickly put aside once he glanced at the cane, which still leaned against the wardrobe like the star of the show awaiting its entrance on to the stage.

Brent crossed to it and picked up the weathered implement carefully, as though it were an antique. While it was the first true punishment-cane his American eyes had ever seen, its capacity to correct was obvious. He flexed it springily between his hands as he walked back to take up his position beside the stool — knowing that Cynthia, draped over it with her auburn hair dangling to the carpet and her buttocks bare and ready, was extremely aware of his every measured step.

He paused to wonder about what was going through her mind at that moment and became aware of the tiny keening noises she was making deep in her throat — the sole manifestation of her extreme excitement and apprehension. Brent tapped the cane gently across the smooth, flawless globes which awaited his efforts. Her thighs parted slightly, giving him just a hint of her inner charms, while the pale, silky bottom-cheeks were themselves relaxed, almost placid, as if to show their meek acceptance of the chastisement to come. Again, a passage from her letter flashed through his mind:

Tell me in advance that I'm to receive a dozen and make me count after each one. Maintaining my composure is essential, and don't hesitate to question me during the caning.

'You're to have twelve strokes, Cynthia,' said Brent firmly, taking a strong grip on the cane, 'and I expect you to take them in good form. You are to count the number after each. Is that understood?'

'Yes, Sir,' she sibilantly whispered.

Could he really do it, Brent wondered. Could he bring himself to inflict such pain on a woman he found so appealing? The hesitation was brief — the answer was 'yes'. He raised the rod and let it quiver above his shoulder, then brought it swiftly down across the summits of his inviting target with a resonant crack that made him jump. Under the impact, her bottom-flesh seemed to collapse for an instant then spring back into shape. A white line appeared, quickly turning pink. Cynthia's gasp was loud — an indrawn shriek as she fiercely sucked in air. Then there was a pause and she counted, 'One, Sir.'

Brent watched the muscles of her voluptuous rear twitch and jerk in response to the solid cane-stroke; but, with supreme self-control, her buttocks resumed their relaxed state as if to say that they were ready again. Encouraged by the success of the first stroke he aimed the second a little higher, and the rattan landed almost at the top of the deep separating crevice between the majestic pillows of flesh. The response was the same, with an inward cry and a wild contraction of buttock-muscles followed by, 'Two, Sir,' as her bottom settled again over the stool-top.

Brent warmed to his role. Repositioning his feet in a firmer stance, he pulled back the ancient cane and aimed for the area just above the sulcus — the delightful crease on a woman's body where the undercheek of her bottom merges into the top of her thigh. His aim was accurate. Cynthia's gasp was louder this time as the rod hissed through the air and impacted with an authoritative sssswhack on that tenderest of places. Her grip on the stool's lowest rung was like a vice and Brent saw how her face contorted for just an instant as she internalised the sting before she expelled the words, 'Three, Sir,' in a quavering groan which seemed to indicate that she could scarcely take any more.

Perhaps that was the key, thought Brent. She wanted to be tested to the limit, to prove to herself that she could endure a vigorous physical chastisement. Anything less than a true caning, therefore, would have no meaning for her. It was to be the real thing, or nothing.

Brent resumed his task with even greater firmness of purpose, applying the cane with unflinching force and steadily increasing skill. The fourth well-swung stroke met the upper slopes of her buttocks between the first two glowing lines with an echoing crack that made her shriek out loud. His pace was deliberate. The fifth and sixth strokes were aimed lower, just above the rosy track which marked the third. Cynthia's shrill cries and panting gasps reflected an accumulation of pain as she writhed across the stool with her auburn hair flicking and tossing, legs jerking and kicking and the luscious hummocks of her bottom clenching and bouncing to the cane's lively tattoo, which stained it with hot tramline flushes and sunset streaks. Cynthia was indeed being tested.

Brent paused after six — the halfway mark — and regarded the slumped figure of the dynamic businesswoman. He was puffing slightly as if from a hard-won point at squash. More words from her letter came to him:

A standard caning was always six. But disrespect meant extra strokes. I need to be reminded of that.

Brent strode to the front of her and cupped Cynthia's chin in his hand, tilting her head to look into her face. Her cheeks were flushed, her full lips slack. Her eyes glistened with moisture and seemed scarcely to see him. Had this gone too far? No, he decided, that must be her decision. 'I think, young lady,' he said with curt authority, 'you're learning your lesson. Am I right?' She nodded meekly. 'But we're clearly not finished yet,' he added firmly. 'Six more to go.'

Returning to his position at the left of her bending body, Brent observed with awe the extent to which Cynthia's robustly beautiful buttocks were now showing the effects of the chastisement. Inflamed as it was, her bottom had resumed its relaxed condition over the stool, as if again to signify her determination to absorb the full dosage she had earned by her disgraceful behaviour. Two more crisp strokes, delivered with judicious severity, cracked against the sizzling hemispheres and sprang away, eliciting urgent grunts from Cynthia's throat.

It was after the ninth stroke that she burst into tears — a soft, almost controlled crying, but still quite audible and suggestive of release rather than torment.

Don't be disturbed if I sob at some point. Tears are a catharsis, of course, and the inner sensations I seek will only be enhanced by crying.

As he paused to watch her shaking body, Brent wondered if he himself could have taken what he was inflicting. His respect for this woman, already high, had increased with the stinging hurt of each succeeding whack. He was aware that she could end this at any moment, but knew that she would not. Furthermore, the marks of the chastisement had begun to overlap and her hips jerked up in reflex as he administered the tenth and eleventh resonant strokes of the old family cane on its grown-up daughter's incandescent derriere. The sight of that gorgeous bottom delighted and excited him as it bumped and wriggled frantically over the stool-top.

Make me wait for the last stroke. My nerves will be well stretched by then. And, of course, make it a good one.

Brent selected the ripely-curved crown of Cynthia's buttocks for the finale. The previous eleven strokes had shown that he was a natural, and accurate, wielder of the rod. His aim was precise, the cane swooping eagerly in to bisect the firm, well-sprung flesh with an excruciating thwack.

'Aaaghh!' was the sound she made — a gasp, grunt and sigh all in one. She exhaled noisily, then sucked in air. Her pause was unusually long, and then she said at last, 'Number twelve, Sir,' and slumped inertly across the stool.

For a moment Brent studied her twitching, utterly vanquished figure with some concern as she lay there — and then her final written instruction flashed through his mind:

Once finished with the caning, leave the bedroom quickly and without comment. Please give me some ten minutes to compose myself, and then return.

Brent quietly left the chamber and clicked the door shut. Down in the lounge again he poured himself a drink and reflected on his feelings. He was exhilarated. Elated. He drank the whisky in one gulp, and wondered at his trembling. The experience had been, quite simply, stupendous and his brain reeled at the wonder of it.

The event had affected him even more than he had anticipated. Cynthia's body was truly stunning, and a part of him had hated causing her such evident pain. Yet, Brent realised, she was right: there had been such a compulsion, an intensity, almost a beauty to the entire proceedings, from the preliminary formal lecture through the solemn disrobement and total yielding-up of all dignity, to the fierce sting of the cane on her naked buttocks. Her fortitude had amazed him. And he knew that he had succeeded in fulfilling the role she had set for him. But what was next, Brent wondered. How was it all going to end? Indeed, was it already finished? Alas, he knew that that was for her to decide.

The ten minutes over, Brent retraced his steps up the stairs and reopened the bedroom door to find the mature, elegant Cynthia Ward now completely nude and recumbent on her large bed. The tall, shapely body appeared flawlessly ideal in shape and proportion as she rested on her stomach, the milky skin of her back and legs now interrupted by the scarlet hues of her plushly plump bottom-cheeks which displayed the dozen angry-looking lines so recently drawn by the ancient family cane.

As Brent stepped across to the bed Cynthia looked up and offered a soft smile. Her warmth towards him was evident. 'I even found some of Mummy's old lotion,' she murmured coyly. 'I told you she never threw anything away. I remember how comforting she was with it, as all was forgiven by the time she came to use it. I'm sure you'll be just as gentle in applying it.'

Brent took the old bottle with the faded label and poured cream into his hand. Then he rubbed the soothing coolness slowly into those sore, so beautiful bottom-cheeks. Even though the softest touch of his fingers on the cane-marks brought a wince from her, Cynthia's sighs and moans and little wriggles made it clear that his efforts at comforting were every bit as good as his new-found skill in punishing.

Brent wanted to know so much more about her. She had given him a peek into her complex and private world, but he knew that it was not yet the right moment to question her more deeply. Even so, his practical curiosity remained — and Brent was, foremost, a practical man.

'How long will these marks last?' he asked. 'It looks to me like it could be ages.'

Cynthia grimaced prettily, picked up a hand-mirror from her bedside table and craned her head round to view her reflected bottom. 'You didn't disappoint me,' she remarked with satisfaction. 'Judging from some of these stripes on the right, I'd say as long as three or four weeks.' She turned towards him, and her smile now had an impish quality. 'That ought to time out just about right for your return to London for the signing of the agreement.' Her green eyes glittered, smouldered. Her lips pursed sulkily, hungrily. A tongue, strawberry pink, played over white, even teeth. 'Oughtn't it?' she murmured.

Brent was taken fully by surprise. But before he could consider an appropriate response, her arms were around him and he found himself being drawn down on to the bed beside her in an embrace of such wonderful warmth that he pulled back his head and gazed at her in astonishment, still not quite sure.

She smiled again. 'Oh, come now, Mr New York banker,' breathed Cynthia Ward. 'Do I have to put everything in writing?'

Brent laughed to himself as she reached over to turn out the light.

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