Aaliyah had been waiting all day for him to come back. The waiting only made it worse. He knew it. He knew it very well, and she knew it was part of her punishment. Every time her phone pinged with one of his messages was a reminder of what was coming. Since the morning, he had drip-fed her instructions. She knew better than to argue or try to ignore him. He would be back at five, after work. She would be standing at the door, hands behind her back. Her head would be bowed; she wouldn’t look up; she wasn’t to say a word. She would be naked.


She had felt pitifully relieved that he hadn’t had her wait at the window, like that one time. She didn’t know that a neighbour had stolen a passing glance, but the possibility was enough for her to cover her face in shame every time she thought about it. The punishment that day had kept her straight for a month. Her phone pinged. She was to gather a paddle, a hairbrush, a belt, a wooden spoon, and the riding-crop. He would pick one, or two, or none, but it was best to be prepared. She didn’t like the sound of any of them.


But of course, she had slipped. And she knew she deserved what was coming. She had been mad at herself, and she had made it worse by being mad at him for no reason. He was a very supportive boyfriend, but he had no tolerance for her misdirected anger. She liked that about him; he made her better, more measured. Her phone pinged. He would be home in fifty minutes. She looked at the time. He would be home at five, like he had said. He hadn’t needed to tell her again but, just as he wanted, she felt a pang of fear. And guilt. And anticipation.


The flat was spotless —there was no reason to make it harder for herself. She sat on the sofa, twiddling her thumbs, unable to concentrate on anything. It had been on her mind all day. They had had the argument the night before. He never punished her in anger, that was not really him. He had let her know that they would deal with it the next day. He had kissed her in the morning and told her to be ready for her punishment later today. Then, he had simply left, without scolding or berating her. That would come, in a calm and measured tone, to the sound of his hand battering her poor bottom. She shivered. Fear? Desire? The phone pinged again. She was to get the big piece of ginger from the fridge and get it ready. She moaned as she read the message, passing a hand between her thighs.


She folded her clothes up on the bed, biting her lip, and straightened the covers. All the implements were neatly laid out, as was the ginger. She caught a look of herself in the mirror and blushed. She tip-toed to the door and looked up at the big clock hanging off the wall. Were her hands supposed to be over her head? No, behind her back. I think? He wouldn’t be too pleased if she got it wrong, but she couldn’t go and check her phone, for fear he would come in at that exact moment.


She looked down. The door clicked open, then shut. He put something down. His bag, probably. She dared not look up. He lifted her head with a finger under her chin and kissed her softly.

“Let’s take care of you,” he said.

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