Repost (I think?): The Editor’s Correction
Well, kids… I’ve really wanted to post something new here. But I’ve got nothing right now. So I thought I’d dig into the archives and repost some fiction.
I don’t remember whether I posted this story or not. I never published it in anything. And as you’ll see, I wrote it several years ago so it’s a little dated in some aspects.
- Obviously, everything is digital now. But not too long ago, I was still marking up bulky manuscripts with a red pen and marks like these. And yes, they did fall on the floor and get mixed up, get things spilled on them, etc.
- Craigslist no longer has personal ads.
- And finally — does anyone under [insert old age of your choice] wear pantyhose to the office anymore??
But despite these minor issues, I still like this story a lot. Hope you will too. 🙂
And no, I don’t advocate pranks like this. But they’re fun to write about, and make for great spanking scenarios.
The Editor’s Correction
“Aaaaagggh! Damn it!” Maggie Bailey blurted without thinking, as she brushed against her glass of juice and knocked it over, the stain instantly spreading into the piles of manuscripts on her desk. She snatched up the papers, but the liquid had already soaked into several pages. She’d have to print them again. For the umpteenth time, she cursed her tiny desk in her tiny office.
“Maggie? Are you OK?” The voice of Greg Watkins in the corner office next to hers came through the wall. Maggie clenched her fists and took a deep breath. Damned flimsy walls! She made an effort to calm her voice and called back, “I’m fine; I just spilled something.” And it wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for you, she added silently.
Maggie had been working at H&L Publications for ten years. She started as an editorial assistant and worked her way up to being one of the fiction editors, earning her own small office. For a long time, this thrilled her to no end. However, the office was indeed very small, her desk was also small by necessity, and her work area constantly frustrated her. Things piled up all over and she had no room. Manuscripts often got knocked off her desk, papers strewn everywhere. It was difficult to keep things separated and collated with so little surface area. She could have used a long worktable, but there was no place to put it. Her desk, chair, filing cabinets and small couch took up most of the space. She often banged her shin or thigh on the desk corner or on a file drawer sticking out.
She’d borne these inconveniences patiently, working diligently and hard, putting in long hours. Her eye had long been on the Senior Editor position; she knew she was in line and qualified for it, and with the position being vacated soon, she hoped it would soon be hers. Not just for the pay increase, but for the coveted corner office—more room, a bigger desk and a window. Perhaps in some cases, honest effort paid off after all.
So it was much to her chagrin when Joe Hanford—the H of H&L—called her into his office three weeks ago and explained, somewhat uncomfortably, that the position had been given to a new employee, Greg Watkins. Maggie was certainly qualified for it, Joe hastened to add, but Greg had more experience (twenty years to her ten). And he’s male, Maggie thought privately. Although she never voiced it, she suspected that H&L was a bit of a good ol’ boys’ outfit, and if the choice came down between a qualified man or woman, the man was likely to be the winner. And she hated Greg Watkins even before she met him.
To add insult to injury, Greg turned out to be a pleasant, well-liked guy. Not her type, of course; he was the sort she sneeringly referred to as metrosexual. Impeccably dressed in tailored suits, hair perfectly styled, well shined designer shoes. He wore an understated but expensive watch; his fingernails were neatly clipped and very clean. He was smart, funny and knew the publishing industry well, and both the men and women in the company took to him immediately. All except Maggie. She resented his presence and wouldn’t allow herself to be swayed by his friendly overtures, even though he was right next door. She made sure she was never rude to him, but she was coolly polite and nothing more. When he spoke to her, she answered, but never initiated conversation. He often gave her puzzled looks, but she ignored them.
Seething with fresh resentment, Maggie stormed out of her office and into the kitchen, snatching up a sponge and several paper towels and hurrying back to her desk to wipe up the sticky spill. Looking up the numbers of the pages that had been soaked, she tapped them in the Print section to reprint. Finally, order was restored and she settled back down to work. It was lunchtime, but Maggie often ate at her desk.
“Hey, Maggie?” She looked up, and quickly stifled her annoyance at seeing Greg in her doorway, smiling at her. “Yes, Greg?”
He walked in and over to her desk, holding a stack of paper rubber-banded into a neat bundle. “I have a new author effort here; can you give it a look?”
She glanced at the manuscript after he laid it on her desk; the author was female and the story was clearly some sort of romance novel. Before she could stop herself, she looked pointedly at the various stacks of paper on her crowded desk and muttered, “Sure, why not—it’s not like I have anything else to do.”
Greg’s smile faded. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to dump more on you. It’s just that—”
“It’s just that it’s chick lit, and I’m a chick, so you figured it was right up my alley, right?” she interrupted. She felt a slight sense of satisfaction when he had the good grace to look embarrassed.
Greg hesitated, picking up the manuscript. “Maggie…do you have a problem with me? Have I done something to offend you?”
Maggie cursed herself. Dammit, she had tried so hard to remain completely professional and polite, and give him no ammunition. She forced a tight little smile onto her lips and lied through her teeth. “No, nothing like that. I’m just busy, and I’m rattled because I spilled juice all over everything. Put it down; I’ll look at it later.”
“OK,” Greg said, placing it once again at the corner of her desk, but he didn’t move away, just stood there looking at her. Unnerved, Maggie dropped her eyes back to the computer. “If you’ll excuse me…” she murmured. Greg looked at her for another moment, then turned and left her office.
Jerk, she thought, letting her face settle into a disgusted frown. Sighing, she sat back in her chair and stretched, and saw Matt Weiss, the associate publisher, pass her door. Then she heard his voice; obviously he had stopped at Greg’s office. “Hey, Greg, a few of us are going to the corner to grab a sandwich and some brews. You up for taking a break?”
“Sounds good,” she heard Greg answer. “Only I’ll have to skip the brews. I have a meeting with both H and L this afternoon and I need to be on my toes.”
“OK, Nancy,” Matt teased. “We’ll make sure to order some tea for you.”
Maggie heard Greg’s chair squeak as he pushed away from his desk. “Never mind that Nancy crap,” he grumbled good-naturedly. “I can drink your sorry ass under the table any day of the week, and you know it.” The men laughed as their voices faded down the hall.
She rolled her eyes. Stupid macho idiots, she said to herself, her fingers beating an angry staccato on the keyboard. Times like these, she wished she could send an IM or an email to her friend Lynn in the advertising department; Lynn often served as her sounding board and she knew all of Maggie’s secret feelings. She was such a good listener, Maggie forgave her for thinking Greg was cute. But that was out of the question; H&L had a bit of a “big brother” policy where their computers were concerned. Emails were monitored, and any incoming or outgoing messages other than business-oriented ones were forbidden. So she sat and seethed a bit, fantasizing about bringing Greg Watkins down and grabbing the position that was rightly hers.
As she tried to focus on her work, a wicked germ of an idea took hold and began spreading. The more she tried not to think about it, the more it consumed her. Maggie found herself sitting at her desk giggling, and realized she had read the same page three times and still didn’t know what was on it. Her reasonable and professional self battled with her childish urge.
I couldn’t do it.
But I want to.
Damn right I can.
After a few minutes of this, she got up and with her heart pounding, walked out of her office, looked up and down the hall, then slipped into Greg’s office and shut the door quietly. Going over to his desk, she tapped on a key to disrupt the screensaver—yes! He was still logged into the system. She sat down (noticing with disgust that his desk chair was far more comfortable than hers) and since Greg was already online, she went directly to Craigslist, clicked on Personals and then on Create Ad.
She specified that it was to go into the Casual Encounters area, m4m (male for male). For the email, she typed in Greg’s business address. And then there was the content area. Grinning wickedly, she wrote:
My name is Greg, but you can call me Nancy. I’m a very bad boy, because I like to wear my mother’s underwear. I need a big mean daddy to spank me until I’m crying like a little girl.
Oops, Mom is coming, gotta go! No time to post a picture, but I promise you, you won’t be disappointed!
Her hands had been trembling, and she made several typos. After going through and fixing them, Maggie hesitated for a few seconds, then hit Publish. She waited until the confirmation email popped into Greg’s inbox, opened it and clicked on the supplied link to finalize and post the ad. It was done. Giggling nervously, she closed down Craigslist. After making sure she left the desk exactly how she had found it and peeking out the door to make sure no one could see her, she scuttled back to her office and closed the door. Her heart still raced and her hands still shook. She couldn’t believe she’d actually done it.
It took a while for the adrenaline to dissipate, but Maggie finally relaxed, ate a sandwich at her desk and continued with her work. She was so absorbed, she barely registered Greg’s return as he chatted with his coworkers in the hall and then went into his office. A few minutes later, her concentration was broken by a muffled but very loud “What the hell?” She jumped, her heart banging in her chest once again. Now she could hear Greg in the next room muttering to himself. Obviously, he’d checked his email and found a reply or two to his (her) ad. Maggie clamped both hands over her mouth, stifling laughter. Greg was going to have some explaining to do once word of this breach of email etiquette reached HR. Bending her head back down over her papers, she forced herself to focus and stayed in her office the rest of the afternoon, long after she heard Greg’s door slam and his footsteps thunder down the hall.
* * * *
When Maggie arrived at work the next morning, Greg’s door was closed. She went to the kitchen, selected a bagel from the bag on the counter, toasted it, poured a cup of coffee. While she was spreading cream cheese on her bagel, Greg came into the kitchen with his mug. But instead of his usual friendly greeting, he merely nodded at her with a set face, got some coffee and walked back out. She gathered up her plate and cup to head back to her office, hoping her blush hadn’t given her away. Of course he couldn’t know it had been her doing. He could suspect all he wanted, but he couldn’t know for sure.
It was an unusually busy day, and Maggie remained sequestered in her office, keeping a low profile. When Lynn popped by to invite her to lunch, she declined. She did not see Greg again, although she heard him coming and going.
Late in the afternoon, she sat back and stretched, looked at her watch. Five o’clock. It was Friday and she suspected everyone had already gone home. Not her, though, not diligent worker bee Maggie. Sighing, she got up, walked to the door and opened it, cautiously looking out into the hall. Sure enough, all the office doors were open, with no sounds emanating from within. She went into the kitchen, hoping for some coffee, but the machine was shut off and the two pots were soaking in the sink. Instead, Maggie grabbed a Diet Coke from the refrigerator. She planned to stay another couple of hours and thought a jolt of caffeine would help.
Back in her office, she left the door open and settled back at her desk, popping the top of the soda and picking up the manuscript Greg had left with her the day before, making a face. Might as well get this done and out of her hair.
The story turned out to be surprisingly well written and as she scanned it, she found herself getting more absorbed. So absorbed that when a deep voice said, “Working late again, I see,” she nearly jumped out of her skin and let out a little scream.
Greg was standing in her doorway. “Jesus Christ,” Maggie breathed, putting her hand to her chest. “You scared the hell out of me, Greg! I didn’t think anyone was here.”
He slowly walked in. “I didn’t mean to startle you, Maggie, I apologize.” His words were cordial, but something about his stare made her feel very uncomfortable. She was suddenly aware that the two of them were the only ones left in the building. She tried to force a casual tone into her voice. “It’s OK; I’m just not used to seeing you here this late, that’s all.”
Greg leaned up against her desk. “I’m usually not, you’re right. But I had some unusual circumstances today that needed a fair amount of my time.”
“Oh?” Maggie feigned nonchalance, took a sip of her Diet Coke, and discreetly balled up her other hand into a fist in her lap so Greg wouldn’t see it shaking.
“Yeah, you could say I had to do some damage control,” Greg continued, pushing some papers over and sitting casually on the corner of her desk. His eyes never left hers.
“Sorry to hear that,” Maggie murmured, dropping her eyes to her computer screen. “What happened?”
Greg shifted, picked up a manuscript, shuffled the papers in his hands. “Well, it seems that someone hacked into my computer, and placed a, shall we say, inappropriate personal ad on my behalf on Craigslist.”
Maggie opened her eyes wide in shock. “You’re kidding! How? Who? Do you know?”
“I have some ideas, but nothing for sure,” he said calmly, placing the papers back down and continuing to level his unwavering gaze at her. “I had one hell of a day, though. I had to keep erasing answers from a bunch of perverts out there. Fortunately, the ad finally got flagged and removed. And then HR got wind of it through the IT people. That’s where I’ve been for the past hour, trying to explain myself to them, convince them that I had nothing to do with this.”
Maggie shook her head, hoping she looked properly indignant. “That’s terrible! Did you manage to convince them?”
Greg sighed, briefly looking away from her, and ran his hand through his hair. “Yeah, fortunately, I finally did. Joe went to bat for me, saying I’d never pull anything like this, and it had to be an office prank. Of course, now everyone wants to know who did it; if they find out, that person is history here.”
Maggie swallowed hard. “So… did you share your ideas with them?”
“No,” Greg replied, turning back to stare at her. “I thought I’d go straight to the source instead, see what I could figure out on my own.”
His look unnerved her. “Why are you staring at me?” she finally blurted, shifting in her seat.
“Am I?” Greg asked, smiling slightly. “Or is your guilt making you imagine things?”
“Guilt? What guilt? What are you talking about?” Maggie cried, her voice overly shrill. She cleared her throat, took a breath. “What are you implying, Greg?”
Greg stood and slammed his palms down onto her desk, making her jump. “Oh, come on, Maggie. I know it was you. You might as well stop this pretense. I know you’ve disliked me since the minute I came here, but I never thought you’d stoop to something like this.”
She felt her face burn, but she forced herself to meet his angry eyes. “What makes you think I did it?” she said defensively.
“How stupid do you think I am?” Greg snapped. “I don’t know anyone else here who has that big an axe to grind with me. You work right next to me; you know when I’m there and when I’m not. You could hear when I left for lunch. And you no doubt overheard Matt call me Nancy.”
Maggie’s lips twitched. “Yeah, I heard that part. I thought it was pretty damn funny. Your friends know you well, apparently.”
Greg leaned closer, his face stony. “You know, somebody really should spank you until you’re crying like a little girl,” he hissed.
His words sent a lurch through Maggie’s stomach, but she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of knowing how much he was scaring her. “I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she sneered, “but it certainly wouldn’t be you, Metro Man. You’d ruin your manicure.”
Greg closed his eyes for a moment, and his fists clenched and unclenched. Maggie looked away, fighting down her butterflies. Manicured or not, Greg had mighty large hands.
“You are a piece of work, you know that?” he said. “What did I ever do to you, anyway? What is your problem?”
Maggie shrugged and made a face, turning back to her work. “Nothing,” she said, her tone snippy. “You’re the one whose mother’s underwear is in knots.” She giggled at her own comment. Then she looked up to see Greg’s triumphant look and instantly felt sick.
A smile slowly crept across Greg’s face. “Well now,” he said, his voice low and silky. “How did you know the bit about my mother’s underwear? I didn’t mention that.”
Maggie’s throat closed and she knew she was blushing scarlet. She was completely busted and there wasn’t a thing she could do to extricate herself. “I… I… um…” she stammered. He continued to smile at her, waiting, and she couldn’t stand it anymore. “OK! Fine! I did it. Are you happy now?”
“No, actually, I’m not,” Greg replied, his smile fading. “Do you have any kind of explanation? Why would you do something so childish? Do you realize that you could have cost me my job?”
She couldn’t look at him; her eyes dropped to her lap, and she fiddled with a thread on her jacket. She opened her mouth several times to speak, and stopped. Finally, she shrugged.
“All right, Maggie, since you won’t answer my questions, I’ll try another one. Do you realize I could cost you your job? All I have to do is tell HR I know who did it, and that’s it. You know that, right?”
Her head jerked up and she looked into his face, which was angry and uncompromising. Suddenly, the full weight of what she had done crashed down on her. All she could think of was her bills and debts—the mortgage on her townhouse, her car payments, her credit cards. If she lost her job, how could she pay for them? And how on earth would she be able to afford her own health insurance? H&L might not have advanced her to her liking, but they paid her a decent salary and provided excellent benefits. She stood to lose all that right now, and all because of her petty attitude. Tears filled her eyes and she bit her lip, willing them away. “Yes,” she said, her voice coming out hoarse and meek. “So… are you going to tell HR?”
Greg sighed. “I should, but I’d rather not. I don’t know if I could live with myself, causing anyone to lose their job in this economy.” His eyes narrowed. “But you do need to be punished for what you did.”
Maggie winced at the childish word, punished. She swallowed around the huge lump in her throat and clasped her shaking hands in her lap. “So what are you going to do?”
He raised an eyebrow at her and folded his arms, his lips curling into a smile that chilled her to the bone. “What do you think I’m going to do?”
Maggie stared at him, speechless. She couldn’t believe she was in this position; she’d read about it so many times in books, seen it in movies, but she didn’t think it actually happened. Cold anger replaced her fear and she slowly stood. “You bastard,” she hissed. “OK, let’s get this over with.” Adrenaline coursing, she took off her jacket and threw it over her chair. Then she reached up and began to unbutton her blouse. Greg’s expression went from smug triumph to confusion.
“Maggie, what the hell are you doing?”
His tone was so honestly bewildered, it made her hands freeze mid-button. “I’m… I… didn’t you…?” she sputtered. To her complete mortification, Greg burst out laughing.
She stamped her foot. “Stop laughing, damn you!” she shrieked.
He didn’t stop, and she wanted to crawl under the desk and curl up into a ball. “Ah, Maggie,” he said, trying to contain his mirth. “Don’t flatter yourself. That’s not what I had in mind.”
Now she was the confused one. “Then what did you have in mind?”
He smiled, clearly relishing her discomfort. “I’m going to do exactly what you suggested in that little ad of yours. I’m going to spank you. Hard.”
Maggie’s stomach lurched once again. This was even worse than she thought. “The hell you are!”
“The hell I’m not!”
“You arrogant prick! There is no way I’m letting you do that!” she shouted. “Get out of here!”
Greg took a deep breath and blew it out hard. “OK, Maggie,” he said calmly. “But if I leave this office without giving you a sound spanking first, then I’m going to HR first thing Monday morning. Your choice—pay now, or pay later.”
Maggie put her head in her hands. This couldn’t be happening. She’d never hated anyone so much in all her life.
“Come on, Maggie,” Greg said, his voice gentle. “Take the first choice, and it will hurt for a little while and then be over. Take the second choice, and you’ll have a whole world of hurt that won’t end anytime soon.” As she stood there staring, he took off his jacket, neatly folded it and put it over the arm of the couch. Then he sat down, patted his lap and looked at her expectantly.
Maggie’s head spun. “I think I’m going to be sick,” she whispered.
“Nice try, Maggie,” Greg smiled. “Come here.”
She went to him, her legs leaden. “God, I hate you,” she said through clenched teeth.
“Yeah, tell me something I don’t know,” he said, taking her forearm and firmly pulling her down across his lap. She shuffled and squirmed, situating herself. “Comfy?” he said mockingly.
Maggie pounded her fist on the couch. “God damn you, just get on with it.”
Greg laughed, and she felt his hand pull her tweed skirt up to her waist. “Hey!” she hollered. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Please… do you really think you’d feel anything through that heavy skirt?” He snapped the waistband of her pantyhose. “Besides, you have plenty of protection with these… for now.”
“What do you mean, for… ow!” Maggie yelped as his hand firmly cracked onto her right bottom cheek. Before she could catch her breath, he delivered a similar stinging slap to the left. “That hurts!”
“Gee, it does?” Greg said sarcastically. “Maybe I should rethink that ‘big mean daddy’ thing, huh?” He smacked her right cheek again, harder than before.
“Dammit, Greg, stop it!” she howled, struggling against him. “I changed my mind! Do what you want, get me fired, I don’t care! Just let me up!”
Greg pinned her more firmly. “Nah, I don’t think so. I’m enjoying this too much. Might as well settle down, Maggie, you’re here to stay. You’ve got this coming.”
He got into a pattern of solid swats, alternating cheeks, his big hand coming down again and again. Maggie squeezed her eyes shut, willing herself to bear it stoically, but it hurt like hell and soon she was thrashing and kicking, screaming in pain.
Finally, he paused and Maggie struggled to catch her breath. “So,” he said, laying his hand on her bottom, making her flinch. “You care to tell me why you hate me so much? Enough to pull such a stupid stunt?” When she didn’t reply, he sighed. “Never mind, I already know. I know you wanted the Senior Editor position, and you were pissed off that I got it. Joe told me when he hired me.”
Maggie buried her face in the couch cushion, feeling her humiliation from head to foot. “If you already knew, why did you ask?” she mumbled.
“Look, Maggie, I know you wanted that job and you worked really hard for it. Joe felt bad; it’s not that you’re not qualified. It’s just that I have more experience than you. It’s not your fault, but it’s not mine, either. Can’t we get along?”
No, Maggie thought. Stubbornly, she remained silent. When Greg spoke again, his voice had hardened once more. “OK, have it your way. I think that, considering the gravity of your crime, your spanking should continue on the bare bottom, don’t you?”
“No, I don’t!” she screamed, rearing up, but he pushed her back down, and she felt his fingers snaking into the waistband of her pantyhose. “Lift your hips,” he said. She balled up her fists and stayed still. Smack! His hand cracked down on the very top of her upper thigh, hard. “Owwwww!”
“Lift. Your. Hips.”
She complied this time, and he yanked her pantyhose down below her bottom, then did the same with her panties. Without another word, he began spanking her again. If she thought the pain was bad over layers of underwear, it was nothing compared to this. She tried desperately to squirm away, but he held her fast. She dug her nails into her palms, grit her teeth, but finally the burning pain overtook her and she howled until her throat hurt. Still, he continued. She didn’t know which was stronger—her pain, her humiliation or her rage.
At long last, Greg paused again and Maggie collapsed against him, panting. “Maggie,” he said quietly. “Do you have anything to say to me?”
Tears stung her eyes and the pain was unbearable, but she couldn’t bring herself to apologize to him. She was still too angry and she didn’t want to give him the satisfaction. Taking a deep, shuddering breath, she bit out, “Yes, I do. Go fuck yourself.”
She felt his entire body tense under her, and she cringed in horror at her own words, terrified of what might come next. He didn’t give her any time to ponder on it. “Get up,” he snapped, roughly grabbing her shoulders and pulling her upright. Her pantyhose were bunched up around her knees and she nearly fell, but he yanked her up, then strode to her desk, dragging her along with him. With one long sweep of his arm, he sent all the papers flying and cleared the desk. She gasped, but didn’t dare comment on the mess he’d just made.
“Get over the desk, Maggie. Now,” he growled, glaring murderously at her.
She looked at his red face, fearfully. But she still couldn’t give in to him. “W-why?” she stammered, with a bravado she didn’t feel. “What—what are you going to do, you pervert?”
Greg put his head in his hand for a moment, then rolled his eyes heavenward. “I repeat, Maggie—don’t flatter yourself.” He then reached down and began to unbuckle his belt.
Maggie nearly fainted, she was so terrified. “Greg, no!” she burst out. “You can’t! Please! I can’t take that!”
“You should have thought of that before you started this whole mess, Maggie,” he said, pulling his belt out of the loops. “And especially before you told me to go fuck myself.” He snapped the belt, then doubled it over. “Over. Belly down on the desk. Now.”
Trembling, Maggie slowly turned toward the desk and put her palms on it. But before she could lower her belly down onto it, Greg said, “Wait!” She froze. Silently, she watched him go retrieve his jacket from the couch arm and bring it over. She gaped in surprise as he patted it into a soft bundle, then placed it on the desk. “OK, now,” he said, his voice marginally gentler.
She leaned down and laid her body onto his jacket, grateful for the comfort, although she knew that wouldn’t last. Once in position, she stretched out her arms and grabbed the edge of the desk, lay her head down and shut her eyes tight. “Please, Greg…”
He didn’t reply. Snap! She felt his belt impart a burning stripe across her behind. She jumped and shrieked, and his hand pressed into the small of her back. “Hold still, Maggie. I don’t want to miss, and you don’t want me to either.”
Gritting her teeth, she did her best to remain in place as the belt struck again and again, all over her bottom. Her feet involuntarily stamped and her fists pounded on the desk, but somehow, she stayed in position. But the pain nearly drove her crazy.
“I know it hurts,” she heard him say. “But it will be over soon, and then we’re done.”
“No, we’re not!” she shouted, her voice breaking. “I won’t be able to work here anymore, regardless! You’ll tell everyone and I won’t be able to look anyone in the face again!”
Greg paused and walked around to her side. “Maggie, look at me,” he commanded. Slowly, she turned her head to look up and meet his eyes.
“I am not, repeat, not going tell anyone about this. I told you I wanted to keep this between you and me, and I meant it. After we leave here today, we won’t speak of this again. I promise.”
Maggie’s eyes searched his face; she saw no trace of malice. “You mean it? You—you won’t make fun of me? You won’t tease me about this?”
“No, I will not.”
She believed him, and her tense body relaxed a fraction. At all once, she felt profoundly ashamed. It was ridiculous that she should be in this position, and she had no one to blame but herself. She turned her face away, blinking back an onrush of tears. It dawned on her once again how close she’d come to losing her job. A job that, she now realized, really wasn’t that bad after all.
Greg stepped back. “OK, Maggie. I’m going to give you one more long set, and you’re going to hold still and take it. After that, we’re even.” Maggie took a deep breath and steeled herself.
Whack! Crack! The belt struck all over her bottom repeatedly as he moved around her, the blows more rapid than before. Finally, Maggie’s pride shattered; she gave in and burst in tears. “Owwwwww,” she sobbed. “Oh God, Greg, please stop, please! I’m sorry!”
He stopped immediately. “That’s all I wanted to hear, Maggie,” he said.
Feeling broken, Maggie remained lying over the desk, crying her eyes out. She wanted to die then and there, rather than stand up and face Greg. He put his hand tentatively on her back. “You OK?”
She gulped and nodded, unable to speak. When she made no move, he hesitated, then gently ran his fingers over her sore behind. His touch mortified her, but she said nothing.
“Maggie, listen,” he said. “This is the last word I’m going to say on this subject, I promise. But it looks like you’re going to have some bruises. When you get home, I would suggest sitting on an icepack for a while; that should reduce some of the swelling. OK?”
Her voice still paralyzed, she nodded her head once more. Then Greg, with his fingers still lightly caressing her bottom, added, “And you’ll probably want to use some lotion as this heals, so your skin won’t get rough.”
It was too much. Lashing out, she blurted, “You sound like you’ve done this before!” Then she cringed. Oh, shit, why did I say that? There was silence behind her for a moment, then Greg cleared his throat. “Well, tell you what—I’ll keep your secret if you keep mine, OK?”
Oh my God. “Yes, OK. Please…” she choked out, “may I have a few minutes by myself?”
“Of course,” he said, and she heard him slip out the door and close it. She clung to the desk and sobbed, releasing all the tension, and then reached back to rub her backside. It felt hot to her touch, and she could feel raised welts. Wincing, she carefully stood. Her legs shook so hard, she could barely stand on them, and she had to brace herself against the desk. Painfully and slowly, she pulled her panties back up, then her pantyhose, and smoothed down her skirt. Grabbing the Diet Coke can on her desk, she took the last swallow of flat soda. Then she got a mirror out of her purse and attempted to wipe away her smeared makeup with a tissue, blowing her nose vigorously.
There was a gentle knock at her door. “Maggie? Can I come in?”
“Yes,” she croaked out, looking away awkwardly as Greg opened the door and walked back in. Her eyes dropped to his jacket on the desk, wrinkled and disheveled from all her squirming. Sheepishly, she picked it up and handed it to him. “Sorry about that,” she mumbled.
“It’s OK,” he said, taking it from her and putting it back on, running his hands over the wrinkles. He smiled at her and somehow, she managed a wobbly smile back.
“Look, Maggie,” he said, his voice kind. “I can’t do anything about getting your position in the company changed. But I know this office sucks. Don’t tell anyone I told you this, but I know a couple of people are leaving soon and there will be vacant offices, bigger ones. I’ll have a talk with Joe about moving you into one of them. All right?”
She felt tears coming on again, but she blinked hard against them. “You’d do that for me? After what I did?”
“I told you, we’re even now. And you do deserve a bigger office.”
Embarrassed, Maggie looked away again, then knelt down and started picking up the strewn papers. “Leave that,” Greg said, touching her arm. “I’ll get them.”
Wordlessly, Maggie went to the couch and gingerly sat, biting back a groan of pain, and watched Greg pick up the papers, put them back in order and place them in neat piles on her desk. Then he stood, turned to her and grinned. “There… friends?”
Despite herself, she grinned back. “Friends,” she replied.
“OK, I guess it’s time I head out of here,” he said, going to the door. “You coming?”
Maggie shook her head. “No…I think I’ll stay a while and get a little more work done.”
Greg made a face at her. “Maggie, you don’t need to work so damn hard. Really, you don’t.”
“Yes, I do,” she said firmly, pointing to her desk. “Look at all that. If I don’t do it, who will?”
Greg hesitated, then sighed. “Well…maybe I’ll try having a word with Joe about getting you an assistant. Not promising anything, though.”
Maggie’s heart lifted, and she felt the last of the tension melt from her limbs. At last, from a very unexpected place, she might have an ally in this office of good ol’ boys. Despite the burning throb in her backside, she felt better than she had in weeks. “Thank you, Greg,” she said, getting up and walking over to him. “Have a nice weekend.”
“You too,” he said, then stuck out his hand. Smiling, she shook it. “Night, Maggie.”
She had a sudden mischievous urge. As he turned to walk out, she replied, “Night, Nancy.” And then slammed the door on his surprised face.
On the other side of the door, she heard him chuckle. “Just remember, Maggie—I know where you work!”