The air between them was as thick with their history as it was with their current dilemma. It was that way with ex-lovers who retained any kind of relationship; each passing year laid another scrim that added texture to the painting that they had made together. None of the simple day to day interactions between them seemed random, as they might have without their shared story. On a level, they both felt that things between them were preordained to happen-which could be a relief or a curse. A relief in that no one was guilty of anything-that this was meant to be; or a curse in that they had to be ever vigilant against mistaking their simple urges for predestination.
So here, neither had anything to say for a moment. Justin Holmes leaned back in his chair until it creaked, waiting for Tiffany to continue. He felt an inevitability in the discourse that he didn’t want to be seen to encourage. She would have to spin it out to the end herself. Realizing this she leaned forward slightly and grabbed Justin’s gaze.
“What I’m saying is, if you have to beat my ass, I understand. It’s OK.”
His chair complained loudly as he leaned a little further. If this had been a year earlier he’d still have his beard and would be stroking it. “I don’t really have to do anything” he said giving the impression that he was thinking it over. “This is all discretionary. You’ve done a lot on this project-this is your project. We would have been buried on this without you.” Having caught onto a narrative, it was his turn to lean forward placing his palms on his desk.
“Your work’s been exemplary-as always-you put in a lot of hours. It’s been good.” He flopped a hand back and forth for emphasis but stopped when he caught her watching it. “It’s true that your mistake wasn’t an overreach. Wasn’t you extending beyond what we could do…it was an oversight. A rookie mistake. Something that neither one of us would expect you to do.”
Sensing she was about to say something, he powered through to the end. “We’re all human right? So you know, given the work to here…If you wanted a pass on this, I would have no problem giving you a pass on this. Call it professional courtesy. Go. Finish out the day, go home to Connie and we’ll chalk it up. See you in the morning.”
She cocked her head and squinted at him with one eye, as if through cigarette smoke. She too gave the impression of thinking something over; as if she was actually deciding something that hadn’t already been settled.
She slipped an errant strand of hair behind her ear and spoke carefully-as she always did. “It’s as you said, if this were a creative issue-if I had missed the mark creatively-that would be one thing. This was a stupid move. Complete dumbshit-missed filing date. I’m as aggravated at myself as you are. Believe me.”
“I get that”, he said.
“So”, she said. “Given that, I don’t think you should exercise your discretion in this case.”
Christ. He wished he had his beard to tug or a cigarette to drag. Something. He looked at her sweet open face and closer at her impossibly lustrous skin. Didn’t something happen to a woman’s skin when she was pregnant? He pulled himself away from her bright brown eyes and sighed heavily. “Honestly, I agree with you. Just thought I would give you the option.”
“I appreciate that,” she said then smiled tightly, shrugged with her palms upraised as if feeling for rain. “So here we are.”
“Yes, here we are.” He returned her smile with a warmer, if resigned, one. “Are you OK, with…” he nodded vaguely toward her belly.
“All good. Don’t worry, you’re not going to break anything…”
“Alright then. Get up…Let’s get on with it.”
She stood as he came out from around the desk to fetch the paddle from the closet. The days of leaving it out in plain sight as a motivational tool were far behind them.
“It’s been awhile”, Tiffany sighed, as if acknowledging that she might be due.
“Yeah, it has”, thinking, “A year?”
“Almost two”, she said. “Eighteen months maybe? The Redcliffe debacle, remember?” She was standing in front of his desk as he moved around behind her.
“Oh, right”, he said remembering the lost bid that had cost so many so much. “I swear I wore out my shoulder that day.”
“A lot of red asses, that’s for sure.”
“Indeed”, he said. It was the only time when everyone in the agency was called to the conference room for a punishment. There was too many of them-creative, accounts, administration-they had spilled out into the reception area. Everybody had gotten their share-some more than others. “A lot of crying”, he said.
“Some handle it better than others. Everybody took it. Nobody quit. And it worked-we haven’t lost one since. You sir, are a master motivator.”
Standing behind her he couldn’t see her smirk. She tried to maintain a light and breezy, conversational mien, but as she moved closer to being in position and knowing what was going to happen, there was a flutter in her chest and a rumble in her belly.
“How far along are you?” he asked.
“Wow-you’re hardly showing.”
“You’re about to see where I’m showing…It all settles back here”, she said patting her jeans.
“I don’t know about that…”
“You’ll see”, she said unsnapping and pushing side to side to work the jeans down over her hips. Once free of her bottom they slid to pile on the floor. The last time he saw her like this she had been wearing a black thong that had split her tanned and toned bottom perfectly. Now, in deference to her condition, she was wearing sensible green panties that hugged her tightly.
“Connie says if I wear white underwear we can show movies on it.”
“Cute. Connie’s always been the funny one.”
She had turned to face the desk. No denying that her bottom was a bit larger than the last time it was in this position but not grossly, nor unattractively, so. He always thought, even back when they were a couple, that Tiffany should carry a few more pounds. But it had never been his call. Not at all. She had settled with her hands on the desk surface.
“Uh…speaking of underwear.”
Looking back over her shoulder, “So much for professional courtesy…”
“Form is form.”
With a faux sigh she hooked the elastic at her hipbones and rolled them down. “I’ll have to size these up before too long…” she said as she pushed them far enough-had to go below the thighs- so that they too fluttered to the floor.
She probably knew that his heart was fluttering as much as hers was. There was a reason he hadn’t punished her over the last year and a half beyond her good work. He knew of his limitations in regard to Tiffany Watts. Now, he stood almost transfixed by the sight of her bare bottom: well-rounded, dimpled with a deep crease that hid everything within. Voluptuous was the word that flashed through his mind-the word that could have been invented for this bottom. Tiffany was bent with her hands gripping the edge of the desk-her eyes squeezed tightly shut. As she waited…and waited…she relaxed slightly. He hadn’t moved-standing behind and to her left. She looked back over her shoulder and met his gaze.
“You can touch it, if you want.”
“I’m not saying you have to…if you want”, she said again. He wanted nothing more at this moment. Slowly, as if in a dream, he lay the paddle down on the desk where Tiffany could reach it-could stroke her fingertips along the polished woodgrain. With his left hand on her back he tentatively cupped her right cheek. She drew in a quick breath as he rubbed a small circle then spanned the crevasse to rub the left. Then to likewise cup the bottom of the cheek gently-as if weighing it.
He stepped closer and encircled her waist with his free hand. He slid his other down the inside of her left thigh eliciting another light gasp and what sounded like the beginning of a moan. He had paddled and spanked many women in this office and never got more than a thickening in his pants. Now though, he had to take a moment to direct his hard-on down his leg and out of the way.
When he brought his hand back up her thigh he caressed lightly, as if accidently, between her legs- finding her swollen and moist. He withdrew slowly then circled her bottom again, then down the right thigh. Again, up the inside but allowing himself to linger this time at the top; allowing a finger to touch, then push and finally stroke lightly at the spot he used to know as well as any spot on his own body. This time she did groan weakly.
“Is this what you want?” he asked. It was never a question he had to ask before and he felt weak asking it now.
“I don’t know that I have a preference between you going forward or you stopping,” she said huskily though rising on her toes and bending her knees to open rearward put a lie to what she was saying. He accepted what he took to be a tacit invitation and continued stroking gently. He knew her spot and circled it wetly.
“Ah, Justin”, she breathed and leaned into him hip to hip. “Do what you’re going to do. I don’t….have it in me to tell you…one way or another….right now….” She had begun to writhe slightly, to undulate in time with his finger.
To be continued…..