Led Astray

          “Lydia.” In the crowded lobby, it was hard to tell who had hissed my name—if someone had even said it at all. I swiveled my head to see if I recognized anyone near me. And then it came again, whispered into my ear: “Lydia!” This time I whipped around to find Charlie standing just behind my shoulder.

          “A little unnecessary, don’t you think?” I scolded him.

          “No time for that,” he said. “Come with me.” He tugged me out of the line processing into the auditorium—a line I had been in for fifteen minutes.

          “Where are we going?” I tried to ask, but Charlie shushed me quickly and ushered me down a quiet hallway.

          “There’s no one in the reception hall,” he explained in a whisper. “We’re going to do something better than sitting through a presentation.”

          “Charlie,” I said, alarmed. “I can’t.”

          “Says who?” asked Charlie.

          “You know he’s going to look for me—and it’s one hundred percent guaranteed that he will grill me on the talk.”

          “You’ve read the articles, and you know the topic. Make something up. Jason will believe you.”

          How little Charlie knew.

          By this time we were outside the reception hall. Charlie peered in. “Still no one. White or red?”

          “Charlie. I’m not stealing wine.”

          “You aren’t—I am. You’re just my lookout. Whistle if anyone comes.” And with that, he ducked into the room.

          There was nothing to do but keep watch for him. I felt like pinching the bridge of my nose the way Jason did when he was exasperated with me. 

          Charlie returned with two bottles of wine. “You didn’t say which you wanted, so I got both. Let’s go.” He scampered down the hall, and I speed-walked to catch up with him as he turned into the stairwell and took the stairs up two at a time. He led us up to the fifth floor—the highest we could go, aside from the stairs to the clock tower, which twisted up another four floors. I’d been up there many times, often with sore results for me.

          We found an empty classroom and settled in. Charlie produced two plastic cups from a pocket, a magician without much class. He poured us each a glass of wine and sat back. “Okay, kid. Something’s going on with you and Jason. Spill it.”

          I hadn’t been prepared for that. Of course he’d picked up on the weird relationship I had with my advisor, but he’d never commented on it before.

          “We’re not, um, sleeping together or anything,” I said.

          “I didn’t say that you were—although if you were going to sleep with a professor, Jason’s not half bad. Hell, I’d sleep with him if he offered. Something’s up, though, and it’s not that. You work harder for him than you ever worked in undergrad. You say you have to do things right or Jason will kill you. And then there was the time that he dragged you out of Stroh’s. So come on and tell old Charlie what’s really going on.”

          “Charlie,” I said, uncertain about how much I could share.

          “Out with it,” he said, motioning for me to continue. “No judgment here, Lydia. I just have to know.”

          “Oh, it sounds so weird to say it,” I said. “Worse than it really is.”

          “Spit it out. This has to be good.”

           There was no way around it. Charlie was going to bully me into saying it. “He spanks me when I screw up.”

          Despite his promise not to judge me, I could see Charlie struggle to process what I’d just told him. “He…spanks you,” he said. “And you’re not sleeping together?”

          “No, it’s just—well, I guess it’s, um, disciplinary. I was lazy in undergrad. You remember that. I mean, I still was, when I started with Jason, and he spanked me for it. And then it just kept happening.”

          “Get out of town.” Charlie was side-eyeing me something fierce. 

          I shrugged. “It’s not so bad.”

          “It doesn’t hurt that he’s attractive,” Charlie ventured. I blushed. Jason was attractive, in a way. He was in his late thirties, probably—just old enough to look a little distinguished, but not old enough to look, well, old.

          “It is a little hot when he does it,” I admitted.

          “So, what, he takes you up to his office and canes your ass over a schoolgirl skirt?” Charlie asked. Was it possible for me to blush any deeper?

          “Sort of—“ I started.

          “All the details. I can’t believe you’ve been holding out on me.” Charlie refilled my cup. “Liquid courage. Tell me everything.”

           I told him everything. How Jason pulled my panties down and put me over his knee for lazy work. How he’d spanked me with a hairbrush for lying to him and then bent me over his desk and paddled me. Charlie listened with fascination the entire time.

          And then I heard footsteps. I stilled and shut my mouth, gesturing at Charlie to stop him from talking.

          It didn’t help. The classroom door swung open, and there stood Jason, looming in the doorway. His eyes flicked from me to Charlie to the wine, and then he pinched the bridge of his nose, the way he did when he was so exasperated with me that he didn’t know what to say.

          “I can explain!” I said, at the same time that Charlie said, “It’s my fault!” Jason just looked at us both.

          “Charlie knows everything,” I said guiltily. That confession hung in the air for a moment while Jason worked out what to say to me.

          “I’d better see you at the reception in fifteen minutes with something intelligent to say about Peter’s work, young lady. And then I’ll see you in my office at 9. Am I clear?” he said.

          “Yes,” I said. Jason shook his head and turned to go.

          “Wait.” Charlie’s voice startled me. “This was all my idea,” he said, gesturing towards me and the wine. “Whatever the consequence is for Lydia, shouldn’t it apply to me, too?”

          I literally smacked my face with my palm, then thought better of it and smacked Charlie, too. “Charlie!” I hissed. “What the hell?”

          Jason, on the other hand, seemed speechless. He stood without answering for one beat.

          Two.

          Three.

          “Watch your language, Lydia,” he said. “And Charlie, I’ll see you in my office at 9, as well.”

 

          I hit Charlie again when Jason was gone. “What. The. Hell.” I repeated.

          “Ow, come on,” he said. “I was curious! And besides,” he added with an impish grin, “I wanted in on the action. Maybe you don’t appreciate getting a spanking from a hot professor, but I think I will.”

          I stared at him. “Come on,” I said, finally. “We have to get down there.”

          I made Charlie drink his cup of wine, and mine, too, before we went down. He stashed the bottles in the men’s room so he could go back and get them, even though I told him that after a spanking from Jason over the incident, he’d never want to touch wine again. And then we went down to the reception. Thankfully, I hadn’t had more than two glasses of wine and was coherent enough that I could make conversation with Jason’s old advisor. I wasn’t sure about Charlie, but he’d be able to skate by.

          The reception was a blur. Jason introduced me to Peter, his own advisor from grad school, and I know we talked about Peter’s work. Charlie had disappeared from my side the second we walked in the door. I saw him lurking by the refreshments, making small talk with a group from his cohort, and making furtive faces at me from there. He thought this was all a lark. I, on the other hand, had a sinking feeling that I had told Charlie too much.

          We met up after the reception, after Peter had shaken our hands and accepted an invitation for dinner the next evening before he left town. When he left, Jason fixed me with a pointed look and reminded me where I was supposed to be at 9 sharp. My stomach twisted and my heart squeezed for the ten seconds that Jason was looking at me. I tried to decipher his tone: regular disapproval or extra-betrayed disapproval?

It wasn’t until Jason had gone that that disloyal weasel Charlie reappeared. He looked cheerful, and I glowered at him. “You wouldn’t be smiling if you knew what you were in for,” I said.

          “Tell me again what experience I’m in for,” Charlie said.

          “One that will have you crying instead of laughing,” I said darkly. Charlie chuckled. He thought that he was in for a few love taps, but if my past experiences with Jason’s spankings were any indication, that was far from the case.

          We climbed the stairs together. I had to convince Charlie that he should not retrieve his wine until afterwards, because showing up with the wine we were being punished for would certainly be seen as insolence. If Charlie were going to get spankings, too, he had a lot to learn.

          I flung myself onto one of the chairs outside of Jason’s office. “He’ll call us in when he’s ready,” I told Charlie.

          We waited in silence until the door squeaked open and Jason loomed large in the doorway. “I’ll speak to Charlie first,” he said. Charlie and I looked at each other. I had somehow expected that we would go in together. Standing up, Charlie nodded—at me, or at Jason, I wasn’t sure. He didn’t look so cheerful now.

          It was hard to hear anything from being the thick wooden door. Their voices were indistinct, although I thought I recognized Jason’s scolding tone. They spoke longer than I expected, longer than the time that Jason spent scolding me before he put me over his knee. Finally, I heard a low smacking sound. It was something of a relief to realize that it wasn’t loud even from just outside the door. Even someone waiting outside for Jason wouldn’t have recognized what was going on, even if someone did miraculously turn up at the top of all those flights of stairs. I strained to listen and noticed when the smacking stopped, but Charlie didn’t emerge from the office just yet. What did they talk about? I wondered. My heart dropped—Jason was dealing with this whole situation because of what I’d told Charlie. What would he say to me?

          When the door opened some time later, and Charlie emerged, escorted by Jason, I saw that Charlie’s eyes and nose were red: he’d been crying. I gave him a look that was half curious, half I-told-you-so. I’d only cried once, when Jason had spanked me hard for lying. I wondered if Jason had been harder on him. “Your turn,” he said. “I’ll wait for you.” He eased himself into the chair beside mine, and I stood to face Jason.

          Jason put his hand on the small of my back and guided me to the spanking chair rather than his desk, dispensing with his usual routine of standing me in front of his desk to scold me like a naughty schoolgirl. Instead, he sat down in the armless, straight-backed chair and pulled me in front of him.

          “Did you put Charlie over your knee?” I asked.

          “That’s his business, not yours,” Jason said brusquely.

          “It is my business, seeing how he--,”

          “If you believe for one second that you didn’t make a poor choice all on your own, then you have another think coming.”

          “I swear to you, Charlie bullied me into--,” I said.

          “Charlie and I have already had that discussion,” Jason said. “But you knew that you were to attend Peter’s presentation. Not only was I expecting to introduce you, but I had hoped that the talk would be edifying for you, perhaps even give you some insights to your work. And instead, you were nowhere to be found until I happened upon you getting drunk on stolen wine!”

          “You did get to introduce us,” I said peevishly. “And I wasn’t drunk.”

          “You would have been if I’d let it continue.”

          “But—.” Jason held up his hand to stop me.

          “I will not argue with you about this,” he said. “You were expected to attend the presentation as well as the reception, and you didn’t. You chose to sneak away with Charlie—and no, I will not accept that you had no say in the matter. I’m going to spank you for that poor decision. Get over my knee.”

          I opened my mouth again, but Jason jerked me over his lap by my wrist before I could say anything. Taken by surprise, I didn’t have anything to say except for a loud, startled, “Hey!”

          “This is my second spanking of the night. You’ll understand if I’m not interested in hearing any more excuses this evening,” he said. “I’m going to pull down those panties and paddle your defiant behind. There will be no arguments, excuses or backtalk. Understood?”

          “Understood,” I muttered. He pushed my skirt up and out of the way and slid my panties off my bottom. I became very aware of which part of my body was sticking up in the air. Jason’s hand came down, but not hard. He rested his hand on my bottom and squeezed lightly.

           “Tell me why you’re over my knee, about to get a warm bottom. Without whining.”

          I recited my crimes of the evening: “I let Charlie kidnap me from the presentation I was meant to go to. And I was his lookout while he stole wine from the reception. And I told him about…all this.”

          Jason’s hand relaxed and then his touch was gone. I winced pre-emptively.

          The swat never came. “Lydia,” he said. I waited. “Up,” he said. “Get up.”

          I pushed myself up to standing, letting my skirt fall over my bottom, panties still pushed down around my thighs. Jason took my hands in his. They were warm and smooth, and he held onto me firmly. “I need to be very clear with you. I am not going to punish you for telling Charlie about how we conduct ourselves. I didn’t tell you not to tell anyone. Obviously what we do is unconventional, and it’s not something that we broadcast around, but you are allowed to confide in your best friend. And of anyone you could have chosen, Charlie was a good pick for this. Do you understand?”

          My stomach felt like a wrung-out towel. “I guess I just…didn’t know how much it was okay to say.”

          Jason squeezed my hands. “You made a fine decision in telling Charlie.”

          I managed a lopsided smile. “Just not in skipping Peter’s presentation.”

          “Nor in stealing the wine.”     

          “I told you, that was all Charlie!”

          “And I told you, no back-talking.” Jason was still holding onto my hands, and he gave them a sharp tug, toppling me back over his knee. “And now that we understand each other, it’s time for your spanking.”

          If I’d thought that he would go easy on me after that, I was soon set straight. His hand was as hard as ever, and he had to hold me in place within seconds.

          “Don’t you dare fight me on this,” he scolded, pinning me even more firmly and swatting me even harder than he had before. “You earned this spanking yourself.”

          “It hurts!” I told him.

          “Then you should have thought of that before you got yourself into this situation. You know better than to run off with Charlie when you should be attending to your academics. What kind of mentor would I be if I didn’t correct that behavior?”

          There were a number of responses that I could have made at that, but I wisely kept my mouth shut. Instead, I focused my attention on kicking my legs and trying to roll from side to side to avoid his hard hand still coming down on my bottom.

          After a moment, he stopped. Surprised that this tactic had worked, I ceased my kicking, too.

          “Right,” he said. “Since you won’t stay still, go and get me the hairbrush from my desk.”

          “What?” I said.

          “You heard me the first time. It’s there on the desk.”

          I pushed myself up from his lap and went and retrieved his large oval hairbrush from a stack of books on his desk.  

          “I promised you a hot bottom, and if you won’t quit your squirming so I can give you the spanking you deserve, we’ll go at it a quicker way.”

          I groaned, but the stern look on his face sent me back over his knee in an instant.

          “We wouldn’t be here doing this if you’d done as you were told, and we’d be done by now if you hadn’t tried to kick your way out of your spanking. Now you can stay still or I’ll spank your thighs. And you can wipe that scowl off your face. You brought this on yourself, and you know it,” Jason said, unsympathetic.

          As much as his hand hurt, his hairbrush was a hundred times worse. I screwed up my eyes and tried to hold my body very still, counting silently to myself. He spanked slowly and methodically, first one side, then the other. When he’d covered my whole bottom with hard, stinging smacks from the hairbrush, he pulled back and gave me two great wallops on the tops of my thighs. It took my breath away.

          “You like to do things the hard way, Lydia,” he said, rubbing my back. “Just remember that every spanking you get, you’ve earned all by yourself.”

         

          I found Charlie shifting from side to side in the chair outside Jason’s office. We walked out together and found a secluded spot behind the arts building. Charlie had lost his plastic cups, so we drank our leftover wine straight from the bottle.

          “So?” I said. Charlie leaned forward. He’d been waiting to tell me.

          “Lydia. It was transcendent.”

          “What?”

          “It’s just—I’ve never experienced anything like it. It felt right, you know? It was like coming home to a place I never even knew existed.”

          “Jason does have a way of making it feel…caring, I guess,” I said. “It wasn’t like that at first, I don’t think.” I frowned, trying to recall those first spankings. They had been clinical, almost, with a touch of exasperation. But tonight he had held my hands and reassured me that I hadn’t fucked up beyond measure.

          “He told me that I was a good friend to you but that I’d better get my act together or he’d whip me with his belt,” Charlie said. “It almost makes me want to do something awful.”

          “Better you than me,” I said. “I’ll never provoke him on purpose.” Just the thought made me cringe.

          “It’s okay,” Charlie said cheerfully. “I’ll be sure to involve you so you can reap the full benefits of Jason’s discipline.”

          We sat for a while after that, caught in the spring breezes, just talking, before Charlie walked me home.