With another bolstering pat on Quint’s shoulder, the sheriff got back in his car and drove away, leaving Quint helpless to do anything but watch as the dust from the officer’s vehicle clouded up in the air and then softly blew away on the cold winter breeze. What the hell was that supposed to mean? He couldn’t honestly expect Quint to live in this house with that … that woman, could he?
He glanced back over his shoulder. Elsie Redding was standing at the far right window, sandwiched behind the dining table which buffered the living area from the kitchen. There was a rebellious look on what might otherwise have been described as her cherubic face. As he watched, her eyes narrowed. With a jerk of the curtains, she dashed from the window and suddenly, all Quint could feel was the dull pulse of anger rising above his shock. She was going to lock him out of his own house!
“The hell you say!” Quint ran for the porch.
She won the race for the door, reaching it only a handful of steps before he did, but she lost the advantage, wasting the precious seconds it took him to bolt up the steps when she tried heaving his army bag out at him. Quint punched it out of the way, tangled with the strap and nearly went down on his chin. Fortunately, he caught himself on the door. Unfortunately, she was in the midst of slamming it shut, and his fingers became the first casualties of the war.
The pain that shot through his hands was so intense it was blinding. He shouted—it might have been a blue word or two … or more, or it might have just been a roaring bellow; he had no clear memory of what came pouring out of his mouth. What he did remember very clearly (right before sheer, unadulterated rage turned the entire world into a pulsing, throbbing shade of red, just the way his fingers were pulsing and throbbing, was the look on her face right before she tried to slam the door again, pinched fingers still caught on the wrong side of the threshold and all. It had been an angry, vengeful, victorious look and it had come, for just a few seconds, with the hint of a smirk pulling at the corners of her pretty little mouth.
It was that smirk that did them both in.
Captain Quint Rydecker hit the door with his shoulder and all the force his pain, fury and frustration could muster. Knocked backwards onto his grandmother’s rag-tied rug, Elsie landed on both her butt and her hands and quickly scrambled over onto her knees. Her feet were still fighting to get the rest of her moving when he grabbed her. “You. Little. Brat! You think that’s funny?”
“Let go of me!” She kicked and screamed and they both fell sideways. Quint flopped onto the couch with Elsie spilling halfway across his lap, her feet kicking and flailing. If he could have got his hands on her neck, he might have throttled her. As it was, he had to make do with what fate saw fit to give him.
Elsie let out another scream, one based not out of fear, but anger, and it wasn’t until he locked his arm around her waist and hauled her fully across his lap that she seemed to realize the trouble she was in. That was one step beyond him actually, since Quint had no idea he was going to spank her until he had her legs locked in the vise-grip of his, with his open hand beating a wild and rapid cadence all over the seat of her jeans. He put his whole arm and practically no thought at all into making this the most memorable spanking of her entire life. Even though his aching fingers screamed out at every hit, Elsie didn’t. She yelped once, and then fell silent. One arm reached back, clawing with her sharp little nails to grab his arm and stay the next swat, but that brief reprieve lasted only until he caught her wayward wrist. That, too, was pinned down and then Quint went right back to paddling those jean-clad curves until the whole of her body lay as stiff as a plank of two-by-four across his knees.
What was he doing?
Quint froze, every muscle locked to keep her pinned across his lap, though she wasn’t fighting him anymore. He held one trembling hand raised high above her cringing bottom. You are so going to jail, his conscience whispered. And like a little devil sitting on his other shoulder, with equal clarity he heard, Better make it worth the sentence. She’s not feeling a thing through those jeans.
His hand shot down, but not to spank. Lifting her off his knee far enough to get under her stomach, he found the top button on her pants just in time to bring her kicking and shrieking back to life.
“No! No!” She tried to wriggle her free hand down between them. Clawing him was probably an accident, but it didn’t help his temper any, and in the slapping, smacking, kicking, grunting battle that ensued, he wasn’t sure which of them came out the winner in the end, except that she was still pinned across his lap with both hands now clasped wrist to wrist behind her back and he still had one hand free to spank her with. He was bleeding where her sharp little nails had nicked his forearm. He looked at that, but the injury was nowhere near as serious as the one he intended to deliver upon her backside.
“Rape!” she screamed when he grabbed the back of her—no, Maydeen’s—jeans. It took three hard yanks to get them down far enough to lay her vulnerable bottom bare.
“Don’t flatter yourself!” he snapped back, and then he let her have it all over again. The flat of his hand made the most satisfying smack when it connected flesh to bare pink flesh, briefly flattening the blushing summits.
Elsie sucked another hard breath, her fingers grabbing at the empty air where he held them pinned, her feet drumming fitfully against the floor. She stiffened all over again. For only a few seconds, she made no sound at all (apart from the kicking of her feet, a disjointed harmony that clunked in conjunction with the ‘smack-crack-whack!’ of his hand), but then her pent-in breath whooshed out of her and she began to squeak, tiny cries that escaped between tightly clenched teeth, growing louder the longer he paddled her until she was alternately cringing and bucking, throwing back her head and fighting to waggle her rump as if she could somehow evade the inescapable or throw the sizzling hurt right off her skin.
That it was hurting her Quint knew beyond all shadow of a doubt; he could feel the same sharp level of pain deep in the palm of his spanking hand. He didn’t stop though, not until she suddenly clenched inward, her whole body trying to ball up on his knee—her fingers fisting until her knuckles whitened, her feet kicking back up against his thigh. When she broke, he felt that mental and emotional fracture every bit as keenly as if it had happened physically. She snapped straight back out again, and her breath coughed out of her on sobbing waves that she kept trying to suck back in and hide.
“Stop!” she wailed, and Quint did. Not because she wanted him to (he really couldn’t have cared less what she wanted, at this particular juncture), but because her backside was boiled-lobster red, burning hot to the touch and swollen. He could feel the throbbing pulse of her pain radiating out of her and deep into his right hand, which was burning and throbbing and almost as red as her rear end.
This was a job well-done.
This was a whuppin’ worth going to jail over.
He dumped her off his lap and onto the floor at his feet. He’d have left her there too, except there was something about that pose that didn’t sit right with him. Watching her rise onto her hands and knees, braying out wail after sobbing wail while she reached back one-handed to touch her blistered nethers … no, it just didn’t sit right at all. Looking around the living room, Quint noticed an empty corner. It wasn’t a real corner, but rather one side of his mother’s old piano tucked up next to an otherwise empty stretch of wall.
It would do.
He grabbed a fistful of loose shirt at Elsie’s shoulder, hauling her roughly to her feet, and ignored her subsequent shriek. She grabbed at her sagging jeans and underwear and swung around, narrowly missing slugging him on the chin (no maidenly slap, that one; he barely got his head jerked back in time) and let loose the kind of animalistic growl that said plainly her spirit wasn’t as broken, nor her temper as subdued, as she might otherwise have let on.
“Squatter’s rights,” he mocked, and marched her into the corner to shove her nose-first up against the wall. “I’ll give you ‘squatter’s rights’.”
Struggling to get her pants up far enough to cover all the parts of her he was still too pissed off to want to look at, she shoved right back out again almost immediately. “You have no ri—”
She broke off with another shriek when he upended her right there, tucking her under one arm and pinning her across his hip, where her bottom became his open target. He didn’t have a good hold on her, and she fought back like the she-devil she probably was. But by the time it was over, he’d landed only a half-dozen good slaps and maybe just as many others that missed the intended mark. He stopped anyway, yanked her upright, spun her roughly to face the wall again and shoved her right up to the old pinstriping that his grandmother hand-hung way back when she’d been matriarch of this house.
“Don’t move from this spot,” he warned.
“My pants are falling down,” she snarled back.
“Unless you’re dying to know what my belt will feel like whipping across your naked ass, I suggest you let them!”
“You can’t do this!” she shouted. “You’ve got no right touching me—not with your belt or your hand! No right! None at all, and that goes double for looking at me without my clothes on!”
Quint grabbed his belt buckle.
Elsie flattened herself against the wall, hands and nose both pressed flat, her forehead firmly against the papering. Her whole small body was as tight as a drum. Her pants were a puddle of denim around her ankles and her bright red bottom was on blatant display. She sniffled twice, and then, with the rigid set of her shoulders dissolving into jerky shakes, she began to cry all over again. This time it was softer, more breathy.
Letting go of his belt without drawing it, Quint moved in close behind her, letting his bitter angry words fall just behind her ear. “Those aren’t your clothes. Those are Maydeen’s clothes. And you’re … not … her.”
Angry as he was right now, for just a tiny moment, he honestly could not tell whether that was a good or a bad thing.
Shoving back off the wall, he was just starting to walk away when he thought he heard her mutter, every bit as bitterly, “Thank God for small favors.”
Tempted as he was to whip off his belt and heat up a good ol’ fashioned Round Three, Quint threw himself down on the couch instead. Exactly what he was supposed to do now, or even more importantly, what he was supposed to do with Elsie, he didn’t know. Folding his arms across his chest, he tried to satisfy himself with glaring holes in her back until long after the sun went down and the house went dark.