Cathy Cleans on Tuesday – An Evolutionary Tale

I don’t mean birds evolving from dinosaurs or we from apes-not that kind of evolution. I mean the evolution of thought-of ideas-that happens in a much shorter time span, hopefully, than physical evolution. Like, a few years, or a single lifespan instead of over a millennia. See, ten years ago, five even, I would not have known how to deal with this situation. But…OK, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Cathy hasn’t cleaned for us for very long. We knew her tangentially from church years ago and Karen, my wife, became nodding acquaintances when they were both training for a half-marathon a couple of years ago.  But we didn’t even know her last name-just nods and smiles-like so many people whose paths we cross. I stopped by my mother’s place unannounced a few months ago to find her not home-she should have her mail delivered to the casino-but Cathy was inside, cleaning.

Karen had been after me to hire someone to do our place since she went back to work. I always deflected it with the argument that since I work at home the distraction of having someone in the house…the noise. Whatever. I don’t know. We’d had cleaning people before and they had always been wanting.

“Cathy, huh”, Karen smirked when I told her I’d found someone for the house.  “You’ll enjoy that one”, she kidded. She was referring to Cathy’s “uniform”. For a woman well into her thirties she dressed twenty years younger. Cut-off jeans rolled high, T-shirt and sneakers. Never saw her in anything else.

She wasn’t doing the Daisy Duke showy thing-just kind of stuck at sixteen years old.  She had kept up with the running, so she could pull it off legs-wise and she got the house and pool from a short-lived marriage and a small estate from her parents, so this was her life. Clean houses, swim, lay in the sun and stay a teenager for life. Whatever.

The first few months were fine. She wasn’t a distraction-we were cordial-we’d speak here and there. I’d typically make an extra pot of coffee. I mean, it was fine. And I could feel her getting more comfortable too. Cathy doesn’t clean my office. I’m not super paranoid or anything-I just have a lot of things going on at the same time and folders, books and papers are strewn about on every flat surface. I find something in the confusion stimulating. Karen’s written me off as a hopeless mess, but it works for me. The sole concession was that I would have everything off the floor so she could vacuum in there when she did the upstairs.

So last Tuesday, Cathy lets herself in at about 9:00. I took a break to meet her in the kitchen where she was already moving chairs about. “Coffee?” I asked. “No. I’m good”, she said nodding to a big plastic cup with a straw in it that was no doubt energy spiked. A few more niceties then my, “I’ll get out of your hair”, and retreated back upstairs.

About an hour later she was vacuuming the steps and on her way up. That was fine-I had a 10:00 conference call that I usually took wandering through the house or on the back patio, but with Cathy here decided to take a drive. Ear buds firmly inserted, I pantomimed a wave and headed down to my car, hooked up the Bluetooth and drove around the subdivision for a while.

The call went on long enough that I got bored with the driving and pulled back into the driveway after about forty minutes. I wasn’t sneaking in; I was on a conference call-on mute-with earbuds. So I came into the house only half listening to the conversation going on and walked up the back steps. Hadn’t yelled to announce myself but assumed Cathy was upstairs. When I got to the top of the stairs she wasn’t to be seen in either of the front bedrooms but when I walked into my office, there she was-sitting at my desk, absorbed in the contents of a folder.

“Kathy, what the fuck are you doing?” I’m not coarse by nature but realize that there are words that cut through background noise and immediately grab attention. Through my buds I could hear things like “Thanks for joining” and “takeaways” and “action items” that signaled the end of another grinding status meeting.

She was so startled she almost dropped the folder. Her mouth was a perfect O and her eyes, wide and darting, registered surprise and fear in equal parts. I clicked off my phone without offering my own unintelligible “Thanks for joining today, gang”, and pulled my earbuds out.

“I wasn’t…I…” she looked at the folder which she had dropped back onto my desk as if it should explain itself.  She took a deep breath and continued. “I was curious…about retirement and stocks and stuff like that. I only have a few things-mostly left from my Dad and I thought I should be thinking about it for a while…so when I saw the folder, I…”

“Opened it and started snooping.” I said. Her eyes sparkled, filling with tears. “You couldn’t ask me about it? You couldn’t ask me questions. General questions? Did you learn anything going through those papers?’

“No.” She stood before me chastened and embarrassed. This is what I mean about evolution. Ten, five, hell even two years ago she would have been fired and out the door already and I’d have gone on from there.

Karen is super quiet about our D/D relationship and is careful to make sure there aren’t any toys or implements about on the days when Cathy comes over. She, of course, doesn’t know that after she leaves for work I might stage some hints around. Like a hairbrush on the futon in my office. Or a cane discarded and seemingly forgotten on the couch.  A fraternity paddle that we bought at an antique shop hanging on the back of the bedroom door in full view of anyone who might be vacuuming. Nothing overt, but definitely-noticeable and pregnant with meaning for those with a particular bent. And I was never planning anything-just amusing myself.

Cathy had once taken a wooden spoon from the living room coffee table to the crock on the kitchen counter where it “belonged”. Even Karen had laughed at that one since we had legitimately forgotten it. That had convinced Karen about Cathy’s obliviousness to what went on under our roof. Me? I wasn’t so sure.

From where I stood, looking over her shoulder and out the window, she had a view of the driveway. She had to be immensely engrossed in things she didn’t really understand not to have seen me pull up. So I was not tremendously surprised when Cathy, dabbing at her eyes, didn’t say ‘don’t fire me’ or ‘I don’t want to lose you as a client’, but instead, softly, “I don’t want to get spanked.”

I managed my breathing and answered slowly and calmly. “Don’t blame you”, I said. “It hurts.”

“I wasn’t spying”, she sniffed.

“What would you call it?”

“It wasn’t like I was going to tell anyone.”

I wasn’t going to get into the finer points of what “spying” might mean.

“What do you want to have happen?” I asked her.

She seemed to mull over the answer then said, “I don’t want to get spanked”, again.

“I know. You said that. I heard you say it twice. What do you expect to happen?” She said nothing, content to stare holes in the desk before her.

“What would you like me to do?” I asked again, perfectly modulated.

She sniffed, giving a small shrug. I pitied her in her timid confusion but would not step into it. She would have to sort this out herself. I’d live with the silence for as long as it took for her to finally say, “I think you should do whatever you…need to do to make this go away.”

“Then I’m going to spank you.”

She shrugged again, but I heard a sharp breath before she said softly, “OK. I understand. I deserve it.”

I admit that I got a little fluttery here myself. When did this idea start to take shape with her? When she saw the plastic cutting board sticking out from under the bed? (She had slid it all the way under when I checked later-something that could not have been accidental.) The time she found the same ping pong paddle I was reaching for under a throw pillow on the couch? I know she had seen it because she had switched the pillows while cleaning. Which I thought was weird. Was she letting me know she had seen it?

I confess I didn’t care just then about her motivations as I grabbed the paddle off the top of the book shelf. When I turned toward her, instrument in hand, her eyes widened with the reality of what was about to happen. She flicked her hands as if drying them, pushing off nervous energy. Summoned, she came out from behind the desk toward me.

Without being told, she turned away and bent slightly sticking her bottom toward me. “Like this?” she asked pushing back with her hands on her freckled thighs.

I held her by the arm and she jumped when I cupped her bottom.

“We could do it this way”, I said. “But I have a better idea.”

She allowed herself to be led over to the futon where I sat. I was pleasantly surprised that she didn’t resist when I reached up and unsnapped her shorts. “I knew you were going to do this”, she said.

“Yeah”, I told her. “I don’t spank jeans.”

They fell to the floor and she stepped out of them. Her light green cotton panties clung to her flat belly perfectly outlining her mound of honey hued hair. She was motionless, hands at her side. I watched her face as my thumbs caught in the elastic and pulled her panties slowly down. Her eyes were closed, her bottom lip caught between her teeth and a pink blush spread across her cheeks. With no prodding from me, she settled over my lap in complete and total submission.

I knew this dance.  My kink brings with it an utter and total fascination with woman’s bottoms. That being said, Cathy’s bottom-its ivory color offset by tan lines above and below-was so…normal-as was the rest of her-that what we were doing seemed less carnal than it probably should have.

She and I were engaged in a call-and-response ritual where I would slap her bottom with my open hand and she would yelp, I would slap-she would yelp. We were two adults agreeably intertwined in a dance that wasn’t exactly sexual, but was all about sex. The heat rose and the pink handprints melded into an overall crimson quilt.

When I stopped to take a breath and admire my handiwork, she relaxed and asked back over her shoulder, “Are you going to use the paddle at all?”

“Oh yeah. Just wanted to make sure you’re ready for it. And don’t worry, Karen says my hand hurts worse than this paddle.”

The sound of wood on tender skin was different as was her reaction. If it was possible to settle into a comfort zone during a spanking, she had. The paddle brought her out of it. Wriggles became more of a hip roll as she absorbed swat after swat. After about ten, she blurted out, “Karen’s lying to you!” and fairly howled when I gave her what would be the last full-on swat on her right cheek.

“You’re done…” I said quietly allowing my hand to rest on her very hot bottom.

“Wow…” she said in something approaching wonder.

“Wow, indeed.” I rubbed her backside gently as she softened and fell into slow breathing. I stroked her cheeks, then down her thighs, then back up, sliding between her legs almost to the top where they met. But not quite.

“I don’t want to do anything else.”

“That’s fine. Me neither really.”

“That was enough.”

“That was plenty.”

“Do you want to get up?”

“Not yet. Is that OK?”

“That’s fine.”

“Thanks”, she said turning her head away and settling it onto the pillow.

The Norwegians – Part 6

(Continued from The Norwegians – Part 5)

When she heard the click of a door closing behind them Jessica sat bolt upright. “Does she live here?” she asked wide-eyed.

Angie was distracted by the girl’s round breasts jumping as the breathed the words. Her nipples had softened from the tiny bullets they were earlier which made them even more succulent. All she wanted to do was put one of them in her mouth and Angie usually got exactly what she wanted. But, with some effort, she held back in a rare display of self-control.

“No-she stays here from time to time.” Her blonde locks flicked lightly as she nodded in the direction Toni had left. “In the guest room. One of them anyway.”

Jessica relaxed a little. “Are you guys….” She stuck on the word and shuffled the cards looking for the right one. Angie moved imperceptibly closer drawn at the moment by the soft skin between Jess’ firm round girls. She could almost feel the cleavage with her mind’s tongue.

“Lovers?”

“I was gonna say ‘together’….”

“That’s a nothing word-what’s that even mean?”

Impulsively Jessica reached over and poked Angie in the arm. “You know what I mean.”

“Poking now, are we?” Angie in turn reached out and poked her in the arm. Then Jessica, then Angie again-but before Jessica could reach across again, she saw the fire in the blonde’s eyes and the direction of her gaze. She dropped her defenses, if that’s what you can call the threat of an aggravated poke in the arm, and leaned backward slightly-offering.

Angie gently touched her left breast and softly nudged the nipple with her thumb. It stiffened immediately. Jess let the hand loll there and closed her eyes enjoying the touch.

“So you guys….” Jess began.

“Jesus” Angie sighed, feigning aggravation. “I’ve known her since I was six”, she answered without answering the question.

“Huh” said Jessica. “At least she grew since then”.

“Oh-a short joke!”

Angie released her breast and poked her in the arm again, an attack that was answered in kind. They were giggling like schoolgirls in a pillow fight until Angie snatched Jessica’s nipple again-this time with a twinkle in her eyes that foretold something more than a fondle.

“You rat!”

“Rat? Who says Rat?”

“Don’t. You. Do. It”, Jessica said looking down at the fingers pinching her nipple.

“Or what?”

“You have a bottom made for spanking, girl.”

Their eyes met and in an instant settled into an understanding that there was no need to rush. What had begun this afternoon would continue.

“Ahhh…” Angie released the nipple. “Ok for now, then. Are you hungry?”

“I can tell you are.”

“For FOOD.”

“Starved.”

“Go jump in the shower-or at least wipe my cum off your face.” Jessica’s hand leapt to her face. “Just kidding-leave it. Or I’ll lick it off.”

Jessica unwound her legs and stood. “Give me ten minutes”, she said before impulsively reaching down to kiss Angie on the cheek. She watched her go seeing no evidence of the spanking but a thin wrinkle across her butt from the seam of the couch. She imagined running her tongue over it.

 

(To Be Continued…)

 

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant-Finale

(Continued from Scenes From An Italian Restaurant- Three)

Antonio lay the spatula across her back and held it with his left hand. With his right, he cupped her bottom gently. “This is going to be good one”, he said.

“I know”, she peeped.

“But when you’re done-it will all be over.”

“Clean slate!” she said softly to the floor.

Marie saw the first swat coming and still jumped, startled by the sound at impact. She hadn’t settled when the second landed in the same place; fully on the right globe which after only two smacks was flushing pink. The third landed more in the middle of her butt resonating down her shallow crack and between her legs. Then the other cheek. Marie’s eyes wandered nowhere else but she kept her hand at her breast as if to keep her heart inside.

Connie, for her part, hung on gritting her teeth and trying to dig her fingertips into the hard floor tiles. She was surprised that her eyes were stinging already. Yes, his hand was heavy, yes his hand hurt, yes her ass was burning. But not enough to make her cry. She blinked when a smack landed low, where the bottom meets the leg, and a tear splashed delicately between her hands. Her mouth, already open, betrayed her with a small cough. Then another and finally a whispered “Ouch”.

“Well” said Tony, “I’d say that’s enough for the warmup.”

“Oh Dear…” thought Marie and, with no thought of sitting, slipped behind the bar table as if behind a battlement protecting her from what she was seeing. And what was she seeing-or feeling? It was strange how her own bottom was itching. Connie gave no outward sign of crying, just the drops that were sprinkling silently onto the floor. She felt his movement and the spatula was gone from her back.

“Are you ready for this Constance?”

“Yes, Chef. Please.”

She exhaled and relaxed, softening her clenched bottom.  At the first stroke of the spatula she allowed a wall to buckle and cried “Owww…” Then, after the third, began crying in earnest. The swats burned and she reacted to each with a yelp or a twist but all under the soft veil of tears that had seemingly come forth unbidden-on their own.

Chef Tony was nothing if not precise. The welts he was leaving on her bottom were adjoining but seldom overlapping. Connie was not a kicker but couldn’t stop her legs from scissoring nor her toes from dancing, bundling her jeans and panties at her ankles. As she cried beneath his hand, Antonio twisted his arm around her waist and increased the tattoo on her aching bottom to a loud fast “Rat-tat-tat”. Marie’s hands had moved from her breast to her face. When she told about it later she would swear later that Chef’s arm was a blur.

“Tony!” she called to him after another moment. “Tony?”

He stopped what he was doing and looked up as if surprised to find someone else in the room. Without the loud cracking, slapping and wailing, a silence colored only by Connie’s soft sobbing, settled over the room.

“Yes Marie?”

She was holding out a handkerchief toward Connie’s head. Antonio nodded. She approached and held the hanky down where her friend could see it. The floor between her hands was puddled.

“Thanks”, snuffled Connie taking it and drying her eyes as best she could. Marie stood a moment next to the furnace that was Connie’s backside. No longer pink, it was a mottled red and burgundy-the color of spilled wine. She retreated back to her spot behind the table but there was no need.

“Are you done sweetheart?” asked Tony softly, gently cupping her bottom.

She took a deep breath, thinking about it and wiped her nose. “Yes, Chef.”

He patted again. “Good. Come on….”

He helped her up and she stood shakily beside him patting her bottom. He stood and wrapped his strong arms around her squeezing. Her rear glowed like a brazier in the dim light and Marie eventually looked away. “Beautiful”, was all he said kissing Connie on top of the head.  “Now pull up your pants…”

“Can’t I leave them down?” she sniffled, patting her glowing butt.

“No you can’t”, he said lightly. “Not that kind of place.”

He turned his attention to Marie.

“Now, you….”

“What?” she asked in a gasp. He said nothing else. She felt a need to fan herself but didn’t move.

“What Chef?” she asked again having slid back behind the table.

“You’re never too old you know.”

“For what? For…no way Chef! I’m too…” she stopped herself.

“No you’re not.”

“Chef. Tony. I couldn’t…”

“Then why are you here?”

The truth nearly escaped when she opened her mouth, but instead she said, “For her!” and waved her hand toward Connie hoping for some support. Her friend was seemingly paying no attention, engrossed in gingerly pulling up her panties then her jeans, trying not to scrape unduly across her hot skin.

“Connie?” she asked.

“I think you should,” she said in a small voice not looking up.

“What?! I…Chef…”

“If not now, when?”, asked Connie finally looking up.

“O Jesus”, she said to herself. The room seemed to be moving around her.

“Take off your jacket Marie…” said Tony, feeling that she needed a direction.

Words died in her mouth. She desperately wanted to tell him that she did want this-that she’d wanted it for a long time but couldn’t imagine how to ask. She might have been able to live her whole life out without this if he and Connie hadn’t started playing like this. Was it their fault? Was it hers? Was it anyone’s? This is what she was thinking as she was saying nothing…and unbuttoning her jacket.

Chef Tony sat back down and beckoned her over. She slid out from behind the table dragging her hand across the top. It took an hour to cross the three strides. She waggled a finger and Connie who was now, fully clothed and watching. “You, you….”

Connie smiled through her tear streaked face and leaned against the bar.

Marie stood before her seated boss with her hands at her sides not resisting as Tony reached out and unsnapped her jeans. He unzipped them and worked them down over her hips.

“You might need a bigger spatula for me.”

Connie giggled…

“I think my hand will cover enough ground.”

He helped her into position. “I don’t fit as well as that one…”

“You fit fine. Now lift up”.

“Tony-Really?”

He patted the tight cotton encasing her bottom. “Really.”

She lifted up, and squeezed her eyes shut in embarrassment as he slowly pulled down her underwear. She mouthed a nasally “Ooohhh…” to convince anyone listening including herself that she wasn’t giving into this easily. She breathed deeply as the cool air washed over her naked bottom. Then she felt his hot hand on the back of her thigh.

“Tell me again what I’ve done to deserve this.”

“Lived too long without it.”

She relaxed and felt her body form to his lap. He wasn’t in a hurry. “Yes…Too long…” she sighed just loudly enough to be heard by both.

Those are beautiful sandals she thought absently as she grabbed Antonio’s ankle and waited.

Don’t be THAT mother-in-law…

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“That’s right Tim. I said I will help you two over this rough patch and we will definitely do it together. But before we can work as a team, we’ll have to go over some things individually. As soon as I have this little discussion with my daughter I’ll come into the drawing room and speak with you. Run along now. Oh-before you go, would you be a dear and hand me the hairbrush on the bureau there? Thank you honey.”

…On second thought…

Image uncredited on Tumblr.

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant- Three

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Uncredited from Tumblr

(Continued from Scenes From An Italian Restaurant – Two)

At six sharp the staff was gone, the door locked, house lights out and the bar dimmed. Connie and Marie moved through the room staying busy-wiping the clean bar or counting cheese in the fridge for the fifth time. At 6:10 Connie looked at the clock and sighed, untying her apron.

“Jesus, Tony”, she whispered.

“Yeah, right…” Marie answered tightly peeling her tongue from the roof of her mouth. She couldn’t have been more nervous if she were the one awaiting a spanking.

Then, ten minutes later, they heard the kitchen door swing open and their eyes settled on Antonio striding into the room. He had changed into a white logo-T that clung to his chest and shoulders and carried a long wooden spatula with three holes drilled down the center. Every time Connie happened into the kitchen she would glance at that particular tool hanging innocently above the stove with all the other utensils at the ready to stir a deep pot of sauce or anything else the chef saw fit to do with it.

Antonio pulled an armless wooden chair into the open space behind the barstools. “Good day today, Ladies. For a Sunday. Everything turn out OK?”

“Yes, Chef”, they echoed.

“Money?”

“All good”, Connie answered with a wry smile. “Counted and in the safe.”

“No more broken glasses?” he looked at Marie and she almost jumped-she had forgotten that.

“No Chef.”

Antonio sat. “Good, good…One question Connie”, he said looking up, seemingly taller than she even when sitting. “Seriously. And the truth. Were you drinking last night?”

“No!” She said quickly. Then, “well no more than usual…a glass of wine at close. Same as always.”

“That’s no problem. You’re a forty year old woman, if you can ‘t have a drink what’s the world coming to?”

“I’m thirty seven”, she chirped knowing she was being teased.

“So I round up.”

“You could round down to thirty five, you know.”

“Thirty seven, thirty five-what’s it matter? You run rings around the twenty five year olds.” He nodded over to Marie, “Between you and Sophia Loren over there you’re the best I got. Best I ever had. Without you two, I close down and go back into retail.”

Marie nodded a small bow. “Thanks, Chef”, said Connie standing like a penitent before him, eyes downcast.

“But that’s why what happened last night is so wrong. You know better-you know what to do but you don’t do it!”

“I do most of the time”, she said almost whining with her head down. Marie, watching intently, almost expected her to kick at the floor.

“People don’t come here because we’re good ‘most of the time’ do they? This is not a forgiving business. We have to be on the razor’s edge all of the time, right?”

“Yes, Chef.”

“Sometimes I have to help you focus, right? To…help you keep your thoughts on the tasks at hand right?” Then, when she didn’t answer, “Right?”

“Yes Chef”, she said softly.

“You have to be…what is it? ‘In the moment?’ Don’t think of something else until the one thing is done. Right?”

“Hundred percent right Chef.”

“Oh, you agree then…”

“Yes, Chef.”

“You weren’t in the moment last night were you?”

“Jesus”, thought Marie. She might cry if she were ever scolded like this. Antonio might yell-but she never knew him to lecture. She glanced at Connie who looked for all the world like a chastened, naughty child and felt tremendously uncomfortable. She had slipped into a memory that she couldn’t exactly remember, but could feel.

“No Chef.”

“Why not?”

“I…don’t know, Chef”, she said miserably. “I’m sorry….”

“That’s OK. I’m going to make it right. See? I’m focused. I’m in the moment. The only thing I’m thinking about right now is paddling your bottom. Only thing on my mind.”

“Mine too, as it turns out.”

“Come on then.” He waved her over with the spatula that Connie was trying to avoid seeing. She moved to his right side and unsnapped her jeans. She would typically lay over his lap and he would pull them down when he was ready-usually well into the spanking. But now, “You might as well take them down”, he said.

“Oh, OK”, she said with nary a pause but a small gulp. She unzipped them and let them slide, with little prompting into a pile around her feet. He had put the spatula down and reached up to take her hand. Gently, as if leading her onto a pitching boat, he helped her settle across his lap.

“I don’t know Connie,” he said patting the back of her leg. “It seems like a long time since you’ve been here but you fit so well.”

She shrugged a rueful smile that no one could see, staring as she was at the ceramic tiles and Antonio’s leather sandals. It was true though-she had been with him for close to twelve years and two restaurants-started when she was twenty five. How many times had she had this view of his footwear?

But it had never gone beyond that. When she was married-which happily she hadn’t been for six years now-her husband never knew that her boss spanked her. He would have assumed what everybody assumed; that a good spanking was a prelude to a good fucking. It had never been like that for her. Or for Antonio.

“It’s probably been too long”, Connie said upside down.

“Probably. I’ve been neglectful…Forgive me. ”

She wriggled as he pulled her panties down easily over her slim bottom. “Oh, oh”, she thought. He had never started in on the bare-he always worked up to it. He pushed them all the way to her knees leaving her exposed in a way she hadn’t expected.

“Oh, oh”, thought Marie from the pub table where she leaned. The generalized flutter in her chest grew into more of a drumbeat. Without realizing it she had lifted her hand to her breast like an old woman with the vapors. She had told herself that she was here to support Connie-maybe comfort her in her time of need. She had told herself that to make it seem like she was here for more than to watch her friend being spanked. But now, seeing her bare bottom just feet away, she wasn’t so sure her intentions were all that noble. She suddenly had trouble trying to figure out where to put her eyes.

To be continued…

Scenes From An Italian Restaurant – Two

(Continued from Scenes From An Italian Restaurant – One)

By the time Connie returned, most of the wait staff was in place and William, the regular bartender, had called off. So she, along with Marie would cover the bar which wouldn’t be a big deal on a Sunday PLUS her regular tables. When people asked how she stayed so thin she’d tell them, “Come watch me work!” But she was smooth and flowing; not herky-jerky the way some looked when they were rushing about.  She’d done this long enough to anticipate where she was needed and had an amazing memory for faces and particularly drinks.  Nobody was thirsty in her bar.

She caught Marie watching her once and raised her eyebrows in a “what’s up?”

“You OK?” Marie mouthed. She answered with a tight smile and a nod. But now that Marie had brought it up, thank you, she wasn’t completely OK. Being busy stopped her from thinking about last night-from trying to remember what caused her to leave the cash out…to forget the change this morning…whatever had scattered her. And she wasn’t crazy-she knew what was going to happen to her after close and every time she looked at the clock her chest felt a little lighter and her stomach gurgled. But really, what Chef was going to do to her paled in comparison with how she was beating herself up over last night.

She saw herself the way she was right now: handling tables and the bar-dancing and moving and making money for herself and Antonio. Not as the absent minded waitress who left cash out on the bar overnight. Or forgot to go to the bank this morning. She sidled over to Marie during a lull.

“We’re busier than I thought we’d be.”

“We’re moving them through…”

“Yeah…Well…some are comfortable. Uh…How late you think the staff will be here?” She was concerned about Antonio coming out of the kitchen with a wooden spoon while waitresses were still counting tips.

Marie shrugged, not even looking up. “I told them they had to be gone by six. That there was a private party coming in and we had to turn quick.”

“You did that?” asked Connie smiling.

“You really don’t want to get spanked in front of Dominic”, she said, waving to the pizza guy manning the oven across the room who had no idea what they were talking about.

She squeezed Marie’s arm. “I love you! You…you’re staying?”

“You want me to?”

“Yes.”

Why?

“I don’t know exactly….”

“Nervous?”

“I don’t know. A little, sure.” She leaned against Marie and whispered. “Hurts like hell, I’ll tell you that.”

“I imagine it does. I’ll stay.”

Connie ran her hands back along her temples and patted the tight helmet of jet black hair that sprouted a tight pony tail in back. “Thank you…” she said before turning back to the bar where ‘Chianti in the leather jacket’ was almost empty.

Marie had seen Connie spanked once, years before. She had happened into the restaurant before opening on her day off and heard the two of them arguing in the dining room. By the time she made her way to the archway to see what the ruckus was, the sound of the first swat stopped her cold. Two more steps and she saw them. Connie, leaning against the wall with her butt pushed back and Tony, holding up her skirt smacking her hard on the panties with a wooden spoon, each loud “thwack!” answered with a small “Ow! Ow! Ow!” She had quietly backed out of the room, then the restaurant, feeling what she thought was embarrassment. Maybe fear. But she worried it might have been something else.

Over drinks a couple of weeks later Marie confessed to what she had seen. Connie smiled wistfully over her Negroni. “Yeah, he was pissed…I can’t even remember why…”

“But he….”

Connie reached over and patted her friend’s hand. “Chef and I have…an understanding. It’s OK.” She took another sip in silence then asked, “Did you ever…I mean, did he ever…?”

“Me? No.”

“Never?”

“Never.”

“Did you ever…at home…?”

“What? Charlie? He won’t even yell at the dog. “

They had giggled like schoolgirls and for the first time Marie began to feel that she was on the outside of something that she wasn’t sure she wanted to be inside of. Wasn’t sure but wasn’t sure she wanted to be on the outside either. Was she missing something? She had known other times when Connie was “going to get it”- that’s the way Connie put it. “I fucked up the wine order and William had to go pick some up-I’m going to get it later”. That was always Marie’s cue to make herself scarce.

But that was her call-she was the one who didn’t want to see. Didn’t want to know what really was going on. Or didn’t want to think about it. She was the matriarch here-the boss was fifteen years her junior. The rest were kids. Connie was closest…she sighed. She couldn’t imagine how that would work. Just couldn’t. But she wondered.

Lost in thought she picked the bottarga from the cooler and put it on the mandoline. Thin even slices. Thin even cuts. Breathe-slice-breathe-slice-thin strokes. “How the hell would that even work?” asked her mind refusing to be lulled.

To Be Continued…