"Why aren't you standing in that corner, Puss?" he asked quietly, holding her wet body against his chest.
"My... I... too hot," she barely whispered. "Had to get cooled down."
"I would have rubbed lotion on your sore tush in about ten
minutes," he said, resting his chin on her damp head, his hands on her arms, keeping her against him.
"I didn't know," she murmured, afraid to look at him. "You didn't say."
"I told you to stay in that corner until I said you could leave. You've disappointed me."
"Disappointed you?" she hissed, pulling back from him. "What the hell did you do to ME? I trusted you!" she screamed, her rage surfacing with her pain, her fists pounding on his chest. "You betrayed me! You... you beat me!"
"I took control, baby," he told her quietly, taking her hands in his, his own pain at what he had done eating away at him, self doubt swiftly rising. "Now, you're going back to that corner and you're going to stay there until I say you can leave."
"I'm NOT!" she screamed, pushing away from him, her eyes overflowing, her nose suddenly running.
"You are," he replied, using a washcloth to wipe her face.
"No," she sobbed, sinking to her knees, her head in her hands.
He picked her up under her arms and took her back to the corner, holding her against him until her breathing eased. "It's important that you think about WHY I spanked you, baby. Very important. Don't disappoint me this time."
"No," she murmured.
"Yes," he insisted softly. "Do this and it will be over."
"No," she protested. "I can't."
"It doesn't hurt to stand in the corner, baby."
"I can't do it. I haven't been in a corner since... since him. You never asked me to stand in a corner. Why would I want to do that again? It's a punishment. I don't deserve this," she blurted her anguish out through her tears, trying to push his hands away from her. "If I do this, I give you control. I can't do that. If I do this, you'll take control whenever you want. It'll spread to other things. I'm not going to live like that again."
"I'm not him, Puss," he said, tilting her head so she could see his love for her in his eyes. "I'm not going to control your life, but I AM going to take charge of your health. No more discussion, baby. Turn around and face the wall. I'll be back soon."
He turned toward the door and then came back to her, his eyes registering her slumped shoulders, her downcast eyes, her chin on her chest, the same look of defeat he remembered seeing the first time he met her. He wondered if his heart could shatter any more. He cupped her chin and dropped a kiss on her unresponsive lips.
"Do this for me, Puss."
She turned away from him, her body language screaming her grief, her feeling of abandonment, her shock at what he had done.
He had spent eight years helping her regain her self-esteem, eight years helping her realize she had worth, merit, and was a valued and special human being, eight years of letting her know she was safe and well loved. He was counting on that to get them through this and made himself leave the room so she could do what he asked of her.
I can't do this, she thought, the memories of her previous abuse resurfacing as if they happened yesterday. What will he make me do, tomorrow?
Painfully, she pulled on a sweat suit and sneakers and grabbed her keys, cell phone and wallet, then listened for his footsteps on the stairs. Tip-toeing to the landing, she heard him on the phone in the kitchen. He was talking to one of his staff and she knew he'd be awhile so she chanced the staircase, surprising herself that she made it down the stairs without gasping in pain. She didn't know how she was going to be able to sit behind the wheel. Her butt was still on fire.
It was pure luck her car wasn't in the garage but in the driveway. Paul had left it out the night before, intending to strap a canoe to the roof, one that wouldn't fit on top of his sports car. She was relieved when she saw it - she had a chance to get away.
Her heart was pounding so hard she didn't understand why he didn't hear it and run out to stop her mad dash from this new hell back to a life of stark fear and loneliness.
He heard her car drive away but it took a minute to register the sound. Racing upstairs, fear clutched his heart. He had pushed her too far. The thought that he could lose her made his chest ache.
"She doesn't trust me," the anxious thought expressed aloud filled him with regret, and he immediately chastised himself, wondering what he could have done to make it easier for her. "My sweet puss," he murmured to the empty bedroom. "It should have been so easy. Now, it's going to be so hard."
Fear turned inward often changes to anger - swiftly. All she had to do was stand in the corner for just a few minutes. He would have talked it out with her over lunch. He would have given her a chance to set some limits - take each day one at a time - see what they could live with. Now, he'd have to be more forceful with her - something he hadn't wanted to do. Not that he was unable to be forceful, he was very able. He was twice her size - it would be easy to take her in hand, but he was counting on their emotional bond to bridge the gap and held out hope that it would be her decision to...
To what? he asked himself. To stand in a fucking corner? To think about why I punished her ass so badly when I could have just talked it out with her - explained my reasons more fully. I should have comforted her longer - started the discussion then when she needed my loving touch. Instead, I acted as if my need for her to understand this violent act... Had to do it, he decided. I had to spank her that way to get her attention. I had to make her stand in the corner so she could digest the importance of the act. I love her, he groaned softly. I need her to know that.
Hoping for a miracle, he dialed her cell phone, willing her to answer.