Marilyn met me at the airport with a passionate embrace. She shed a tear, and I suspect I did too. In the twelve long months since we had seen each other I had been travelling far from postal routes, let alone anything resembling a phone.
As soon as we could separate enough to speak, I asked: ‘How are the girls?’
A glum look interrupted Marilyn’s glow of pleasure. ‘It’s not been easy, Howard,’ Marilyn confessed. ‘They can be so thoughtless sometimes. Vicky seems to need so much. And Vanessa doesn’t always co-operate.’
Vicky and Vanessa were the au pairs I had engaged to live with Marilyn during my absence. At least, Vicky was; but even before my departure her elder sister had arrived unexpectedly, in floods of tears. Her husband of a few months had deserted her, and she had been unable to face their parents. Vicky had begged for her to be allowed to stay, and Marilyn had a soft heart.
Both sisters had proved to be inadequately disciplined. Vicky was the messy one, self-indulgent, used to servants to clear up after her. Vanessa’s selfishness took a different form. She became a ghost in the house: moody, withdrawn, contributing nothing, preoccupying her little sister’s already scattered brain. I had had to take a firm line with them, and instructed Marilyn to maintain it while I was away.
‘Vicky’s got a boyfriend,’ said Marilyn, almost apologetically, as if she thought the sexual imperatives of twenty-year-olds was something she ought to have been able to contain. She put her hand on my thigh.
‘Don’t worry, darling,’ I said, while we drove home. ‘Im back. I’ll take care of them. I’ll take care of all three of you,’ I promised.
Marilyn gave a delicate laugh. ‘Oh dear.’
‘We’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for,’ I said.
She kissed me fondly on the cheek. ‘I knew you’d say that,’ she said, with unbecoming smugness.
The girls appeared as soon as we drew up at the house. Vicky ran to open the car door for me. As I got out, I caught Marilyn’s eye and we smiled. Clearly twelve months’ interruption and the advent of a new male interest had done nothing to dampen the crush Victoria had visibly developed for me. She plainly wanted to hug me, and I let her.
Her sister Vanessa, more restrained, stood smiling at the door, shading her eyes from the sun.
‘Mr Morgan, Mr Morgan!’ cried Vicky. ‘Welcome home!’
Freeing myself with some difficulty from her hug, I said, ‘It’s very nice to see you, Vicky.’
She was casually dressed, in a jumper, skirt and knee socks. I took her by the elbow. ‘Turn around,’ I said.
Readily she did, with a swing of her hair, and an almost provocative look over her shoulder.
I patted her affectionately on the bottom. ‘You’ve put on some weight,’ I observed.
‘Mr Morgan!’ she protested.
‘In all the right places,’ I added, with a gallantry that was perfectly sincere.
Vanessa had approached at a calmer pace. ‘Hello, Mr Morgan,’ she said, her voice quiet and deep. ‘Welcome home.’ She touched my elbow gently in greeting, and accepted a kiss on the cheek.
Her sophistication was complete. Her perfume was cool and floral, her make-up perfect and discreet. Her hair was short, freshly cut in a style that would have turned heads on any street of any city in the world. She was wearing a suit: French navy, striped shiny and matt, with a high-waisted jacket. I suddenly realised Vanessa had dressed up for the special occasion of my return. I was touched.
‘I had forgotten how elegant you are, Vanessa,’ I told her. ‘Quite ravishing.’
Marilyn seemed almost embarrassed. ‘Howard, you mustn’t tease them!’ she exclaimed.
‘I assure you I mean every word I say,’ I replied, absolutely serious. ‘Turn around, Vanessa. Let me have a look at you too.’
Was there a trace of reluctance as Vanessa turned in her high-heeled shoes and permitted me to run a judicious hand across her bottom? ‘Trim as ever,’ I pronounced. ‘I can see you’ve been exercising.’
* * *
Over a splendid homecoming dinner Vanessa spoke little, while the questions poured from Vicky. She wanted to know everything that had happened to me since she had seen me last, now, all at once. Marilyn had to suffer herself to be interrupted several times.
Afterwards, before anyone rose, I pushed back my chair, saying: ‘Now then, Vicky, Vanessa –’
The sisters looked at me apprehensively. I could believe they knew what was coming.
I put out my hands and patted theirs across at the table. ‘I want to see each of you now, in the drawing room.’
Vicky coloured. Vanessa, with a small self-conscious smile, touched a hand to her hair and looked down.
‘Who’s going to be first?’ I said.
It was Vicky, to be sure, who said: ‘I am, Mr Morgan!’ She got out of her seat and came round the table to stand ready for me.
‘Good,’ I said. ‘Vanessa: perhaps you’d like to come in twenty minutes’ time.’
Vanessa seemed even less animated than she had, I thought, and wouldn’t meet my eyes; but she nodded and said obediently enough, ‘Yes, Mr Morgan.’
I took Vicky into the drawing room and sat myself down on the sofa. Vicky hovered. I was sure if I had permitted it she would have sat on my lap.
‘Stand there, Vicky,’ I said, pointing to a spot on the carpet in front of me. Obediently, she stood there, facing me, her hands at her sides.
‘Now then, Vicky. How have you been getting on?’
‘Very well,’ she said, a bit breathlessly. ‘Very, very well.’
‘Mrs Morgan tells me there’s a boyfriend now,’ I said.
Vicky went pink, and said there was. He was a medical student, he was from her country. His name was George.
‘She tells me sometimes you misbehave with him,’ I said.
She blushed deeper and looked down at the carpet.
‘Vicky? Is it true?’
‘Do you let him touch your breasts?’ I asked.
‘Sometimes, Mr Morgan,’ she said.
‘And put his hand up your skirt?
‘Sometimes, Mr Morgan.’
‘Have you made love with him?’
She shot me a wounded glance. ‘No, Mr Morgan!’
I believed it was the truth.
‘Lift your skirt, please, Vicky.’ She began. ‘That’s far enough. Hold it there.’
She stood before me, still decent, only her thighs exposed. I sat forward, and laid an experimental hand on her bare thigh. She seemed as resilient there as I remembered.
I told her to drop her skirt hem and sat back. We talked about other things. I found out from Vicky what had been happening with Vanessa. Her sister’s husband had communicated formally with her parents, and she had received a coldly worded letter of displeasure. Vanessa was determined never to go home, but to establish her independence and apply for resident status.
I said: ‘May we have you over now, please?’
The au pair came to me and lay face down across my lap.
I set my hand on her, re-establishing my authority, measuring her bottom with my palm. It seemed ample.
Vicky lay very still. It was the first time I had seen her completely at rest since she had come bounding out of the front door to greet me.
‘When did Mrs Morgan last see to you?’ I asked her.
She did give a twitch then. ‘She smacked our legs this morning.’
‘Both of you?’
‘To remind us to behave ourselves this evening.’
‘And did you?
‘Oh, yes!’ she cried, injured.
‘You didn’t,’ I said. ‘At dinner you constantly interrupted Mrs Morgan.’
To do the girl justice, she didn’t attempt to deny it.
‘When did you last have a proper spanking?’
‘Monday,’ said Vicky.
‘What was that for?’
She hesitated. ‘Oh… um… well…’
I lifted my hand and brought it down hard on the seat of her skirt.
‘What was it for, Victoria?’
‘I let George touch me on Sunday,’ she said, in a small voice.
‘Where?’ I asked.
‘In Kentucky Fried Chicken,’ she said.
I smacked her again, harder. ‘Vicky! You know perfectly well what I mean. Where did George touch you?’
‘Where you’re touching me now,’ she said, impertinently.
I lifted my hand, remembering my own courting days. Marilyn’s parents had been very strict. They had not hesitated to punish her in the old-fashioned way for the slightest suspicion of misconduct. I didn’t think it had done us any harm, being made to wait for the pleasures of intimacy.
‘What happens when you forget what a punishment was for?’ I asked.
‘A second helping,’ said Vicky sadly.
Of course, I had already decided to let her off. ‘It’s a good job you remembered, then, isn’t it?’
‘Yes, Mr Morgan,’ she said, with a little noise that was almost, but luckily for her not quite, a giggle. I gave her two smacks for it anyway.
‘Tell me more about Monday,’ I said.
‘It was a hand-spanking,’ she said, trying to rub her bottom.
I pushed her hand away. ‘Across the knee?’
‘Skirt up?’ I asked.
Vicky misunderstood my words as an instruction. Reaching behind her, she pulled her skirt up at the back.
This time she pulled it all the way up to her waist.
Her knickers were new, midnight blue sateen, as if in unconscious imitation of her sister’s suit. I lay my hand on her scat again.
‘Did these come down,’ I asked, ‘on Monday?’
‘Yes,’ said Vicky. ‘Nearly always, knickers down.’
‘I’m glad to hear it,’ I said.
She made a small, rueful sound.
‘How many did Mrs Morgan give you?’ I asked her.
‘She didn’t make me count,’ she said quickly. ‘Many, many. Really.’
‘And are you ready for some more now?’ I asked quietly.
‘Yes, Mr Morgan,’ said Vicky, with a sigh of resignation.
She wriggled briefly on my lap, getting comfortable.
I peeled the knickers from her bottom.
Sadly I regarded the defenceless white curves; the sweetly shaped cleavage between. What a shame I must punish them. I raised my hand and smacked her twelve times, with some force: one for each month of my absence. The twelfth made her lift her head and cry out.
I paused, rubbing her gently. My own hand stung. How unfamiliar, yet familiar that sensation seemed.
‘Very good, Vicky,’ I said.
She took a deep, gulping breath. ‘Mr Morgan?’
I started spanking her again, with care, reacquainting myself with her bottom. I tested it, exploring its surfaces with the impact of my palm. Vicky bucked and gave a groan. Convulsively she grabbed one of the cushions, burying her face, just as she always used to.
‘I hear Mrs Morgan has had to take a hairbrush to you,’ I remarked, spanking her continuously.
‘Sometimes,’ she said, her voice muffled by the cushion.
‘No, Mr Morgan!’ she said, squirming out from under the cushion, tossing her long brown hair. ‘Sorry, Mr Morgan! Ow!’
I continued my offensive. Her bottom was starting to glow merrily with a profusion of prints of my palm. ‘Why do you need the hairbrush, Vicky?’ I asked her.
‘Because Mrs Morgan’s – hand gets – tired,’ she panted.
I started to spank her harder still. ‘I’m sure that’s not the main reason, Vicky,’ I said sternly.
‘No, Mr Morgan!’ she cried. ‘Sorry, Mr Morgan!’
‘I’m sure you have the hairbrush because you deserve it, Vicky!’
‘Yes, Mr Morgan! Ow –!’
‘I wonder if you ought to fetch that hairbrush now, Vicky.’
She flung her head up. ‘No, Mr Morgan! Please, Mr Morgan – it’s twenty minutes!’
Surprised, I looked at the drawing room clock. Vicky was right. Her time was officially up. It scarcely seemed possible.
‘Vanessa’s turn now,’ she said.
Was there the slightest trace of complacency in her voice? That would not do.
‘Vanessa will just have to wait a little longer,’ I said. ‘I want to get you done properly.’
‘The hairbrush?’ exclaimed Vicky in dread.
‘No, not today,’ I said.
‘Thank you, Mr Morgan!’
‘Tomorrow,’ I said.
‘Yes, Mr Morgan…’
‘For now I’ll just ask you to open your legs, please, Vicky.’
‘Oh, Mr Morgan!’
I found ample room to extend her punishment into areas where I thought it would remain with her for a little while.
When her cries began to sound truly penitent, I stopped and let her up. She put her arms around me, her head on my shoulder while I rubbed her flaming flesh for her. Nothing had changed.
‘Sometimes I think this is the only part of the proceedings you take any notice of,’ I remarked.
‘No, Mr Morgan,’ she breathed, very near my ear.
I sent her to stand in the corner, where I could look at her now and then. She wiggled her hips as she went. I took no notice.
I stretched, easing my shoulders, and examined the palm of my hand. It was red; almost as red as Vicky’s bottom. It had been a long time since I had exercised it so much.
I tidied the cushions on the sofa and sat back.
There was a moment of silence; a restful pause.
Then came the knock at the door.
‘Come in, Vanessa,’ I said.
In she came, and closed the door. She couldn’t help giving a quick glance at her sister in the corner with her hands on her head. I knew she had been listening outside, if only for the last couple of minutes. All well and good. I hoped what she had heard of Vicky’s punishment had put her in a properly receptive frame of mind.
I stood to welcome her, embraced her and helped her off with her jacket.
She was tense.
‘Your sister tells me you both had your legs smacked this morning,’ I said.
‘Yes, Mr Morgan.’
‘I see,’ I said. ‘And what did you think about that?’
Vicky’s elder sister stood up straight and tall in her white blouse and high heels. ‘It wasn’t really necessary,’ she said sulkily.
‘I think we’ll let Mrs Morgan be the judge of that, shall we?’ I said, not without sharpness. I eased the wristband of my watch. ‘Come here, Vanessa, please,’ I said. ‘Sit here, beside me.’
She sat down gracefully, her knees together and angled slightly towards me. Her legs were beautiful in sheer black nylon. The effect of the handful of years between her and her sister were manifest.
‘How are you getting on with the Home Office?’ I asked.
Vanessa shrugged. ‘Civil servants,’ she said, dismissively.
I held her eye. ‘You do understand that as long as you live here under my roof,’ I said, ‘you will continue to receive whatever discipline I think appropriate, Vanessa. When I’m away, you will receive it from Mrs Morgan.’
She made a small moue. Her eyes flicked towards her sister and back to me. They were inseparable. It was understood.
‘When was your last thorough spanking?’ I asked.
‘The week before last week,’ Vanessa said.
‘And what was that for?’
‘Arguing with Vicky,’ she said. She glanced again at her sister, listening in the corner. I felt sure Marilyn had upheld my policy of making the girls witness each other’s confessions and punishments occasionally.
‘I suppose that meant a spanking for Vicky too,’ I said.
Vanessa gave a brief shake of her head. ‘Mrs Morgan said it was my fault.’
‘And was it?’
‘I suppose so.’ She seemed dispirited, as though her own behaviour was a mystery to her, the source of many defeats.
‘Did she use a hairbrush on you?’
‘It was the slipper,’ said Vanessa, colouring.
Mentally I complimented Marilyn on her decision. I could imagine how it must humiliate this lovely young woman to have to take such a childish punishment.
‘Stand up, Vanessa, please.’
She rose. She radiated tension. My heart went out to her.
‘Would you like to lift your skirt for me, please? All the way.’
Beneath her blouse Vanessa’s bosom rose as she took a breath. She raised her skirt to show me white panties, with a matching suspender belt. Her legs were as I remembered, quite beautiful.
I got to my feet. ‘Would you like to take the skirt off, Vanessa?’ I suggested. ‘I’m sure you don’t want to get it creased.’
Her face impassive, she removed the skirt, and when I asked for it, gave it to me.
As I lay it carefully across the arm of a chair, I remarked: ‘Mrs Morgan tells me you aren’t always this co-operative.’
Her voice was low. ‘Sometimes I am so angry.’
‘With Mrs Morgan?’ I asked.
‘It’s not her fault,’ she said.
I felt she needed me to be stern, to brace her. ‘Whose fault is it, Vanessa?’
Her composure almost broke. I thought for an instant she would burst into tears. ‘Mine, Mr Morgan!’
To my surprise, her arms came up beseechingly. Vanessa, too, needed me to hug her. This was not something that had ever happened before; and rather unexpected.
I let her hold me tight. She clung to me as if I had come home to save her from something. Perhaps I had.
I held her as long as I decently could before detaching her. ‘Let’s see if you can still touch your toes,’ I said.
I put my hand on her bottom. How sad her life had become. I was sure she wished only for perfection, as in a romantic novel.
I made up my mind to ask her then what I had refrained from asking her the previous year.
‘I don’t want to bring back unhappy memories, Vanessa, but I think I must ask you now about your husband.’
‘Yes.’ Her head was down, her voice barely audible.
‘What did he use on you?’
‘He didn’t use,’ she said.
‘I don’t understand,’ I said; though naturally I rather thought I was beginning to at last.
‘He chose not,’ she said stiffly.
‘And you didn’t remind him of his duty,’ I said.
Vanessa did not reply.
Much was now clear, including what must happen next.
‘It’s over, Vanessa,’ I said. ‘You must learn to accept that.’
Her silence was obedience. The curve of her back was consent.
I stroked the young woman’s taut bottom, and traced the line of a suspender with the tip of my finger. ‘Remind me, Vanessa. How old are you?’
‘Twenty-six, Mr Morgan.’
‘You’re young. You made a mistake. It’s over.’
‘Yes, Mr Morgan.’
I made a calculation. ‘I assume you’ve become acquainted with the strap while I was away.’
Her reply was the merest, briefest whisper. ‘No…’
‘No,’ she repeated.
‘Not yet?’ I said, ruminating.
‘Not – yet,’ echoed Vanessa. She was starting to sound frightened.
Worse and worse. Through the silky fabric of her panties I felt the warmth and suppleness of her young flesh.
I came to a decision. ‘Vicky,’ I said. ‘Would you go and ask Mrs Morgan to come in, please!’
Vicky started out of her corner, pulling up her knickers and straightening her skirt.
‘If she has nothing for you to do, you can go to bed,’ I told her.
She had to pass me on her way to the door. She swayed, brushing me with her hips.
I caught her by the arm, detaining her. I paused a moment until she knew what to expect; then I lifted her skirt and gave her one more smack, a hard one.
‘I meant to smack your legs,’ I said.
‘Goodnight, Mr Morgan!’ said Vicky, and she left the room in untidy haste.
I left Vanessa where she was, bending, and went to the window. I lifted the curtain. Outside, the indifferent town consoled itself with streetlights and television.
* * *
‘Howard?’ Marilyn barely glanced at Vanessa as she came in. She was anxious. They all were. They needed reminding, and reassuring. ‘What is it?’ asked my wife. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘I’m surprised to hear you haven’t started Vanessa on the strap yet, my love,’ I said.
‘Recently we’ve been using the slipper, mostly,’ she said.
‘And the hairbrush, presumably?’ I said.
‘Dear me, let me think,’ she said, and she put her hand to her throat.
‘Not since you went away, I don’t think, have you, Vanessa?’
‘No, Mrs Morgan,’ said Vanessa.
I raised my eyebrows, and had the satisfaction of seeing Marilyn flush slightly.
‘So since I left this twenty-six year-old woman has been smacked and slippered, and that’s all,’ I said.
‘Yes, Howard. I think that’s right.’
I knew why, obviously. Marilyn had been feeling sorry for Vanessa, as any woman would.
‘That does seem extraordinarily lenient,’ I said. ‘I presume she’s told you her husband – what was his name again?’
‘Pascal,’ murmured Marilyn, in some unease. ‘Their parents left it to him to decide – you know – well, whether he should.’
‘And he failed to divine his responsibility,’ I said coolly.
Vanessa started to tremble. Up till now she had been maintaining her position, legs straight, fingers on toes, with the perfect poise and balance of a gymnast. I stroked her bottom once more, calming her.
‘I presume the cupboard’s still locked, is it?’
It was, of course. To her credit, Marilyn had the key to hand.
There they all were, just I had left them: the disciplinary implements Marilyn’s father had handed on to me at our wedding. I remembered how keen he had been to instruct me in their use; the weekly practice sessions he had selflessly supervised until he was convinced I was proficient with the whole set. I was sure Marilyn remembered those sessions too.
I lifted down the lightest of the straps, a supple length of leather two inches wide, and flexed it between my hands. A reassuring aroma of Neat’s foot oil rose from it.
‘I’m glad to see you have been looking after them, at least,’ I said.
‘Yes – well – I didn’t like to use them, Howard,’ my wife confessed in a low voice. ‘They are yours.’
I was touched by the sentiment; by her loyalty. Nevertheless, I had to correct her. ‘Ours, darling,’ I said.
Rebuked, Marilyn clasped her hands in front of her and bowed her head.
I ran the strap through my fingers, reacquainting myself with the capable heft of it.
‘Panties down, please, Vanessa.’
Our guest reached behind her and lowered her white panties.
She had been trained well, to do exactly what she was told and no more. When she returned her fingertips to her toes, her panties remained at mid-thigh. Her legs were slightly parted. Her display was, frankly, breathtaking.
How could any man have withheld his hand? The fool had obviously been unworthy of her. Our nation would provide someone better than Pascal for her, I was sure.
It is not unusual for a young woman’s first encounter with the strap to be immediately effective. As soon as Vanessa felt the leather smack down across her bare bottom, she began to call out. It was the sound of frustration, loneliness and guilt, held too long inside. ‘Let it out, Vanessa,’ I said, encouraging her with the strap.
It continued as I stood back to listen. I tested her temperature with the back of my hand. I looked at Marilyn, who was watching keenly, her anxiety still evident. ‘Not much more,’ I said, for her sake as much as Vanessa’s.
I delivered another stroke, and another. On the third Vanessa’s hands flew back to protect herself. I was sure it was something she would never have done except in extremity. Tears were falling from her eyes; and I decided her punishment was over.
I raised her up and embraced her briefly, formally, before passing her to my wife, on whose shoulder she wept out the rest of her woes.
‘Say thank you to Mr Morgan,’ said Marilyn.
‘Thank you… Mr Morgan,’ said Vanessa, sniffling.
‘Everything will be all right,’ I told her, while Marilyn helped her gather up her clothes. ‘We’ll have a talk in a couple of days, about the Home Office.’
‘I’m sure you can help her, can’t you, Howard?’ said Marilyn.
A handkerchief pressed to her face, Vanessa hurried gasping up to bed.
Marilyn came to me. I took her in my arms, but did not hold her long. There was more yet to be done. ‘Will you go up and get ready now?’ I asked her. She nodded, almost as tense as Vanessa had been before. ‘I’ll be up in a minute,’ I said.
I sat alone in the drawing room and drank a glass of Glenmorangie. The smell of home surrounded me, as if the very furniture was congratulating and welcoming me. I thought, if I felt proud and pleased with my homecoming, I had every reason.
I rinsed out my glass and stood it to drain. I checked the doors were all locked and the lights turned off. Then I went up to say goodnight to the girls.
Vanessa was tucked up in bed. Her eyes were still red, but her face seemed calm now and relaxed. She looked up at me with something resembling gratitude.
‘What do you think of the strap?’ I asked.
She gave a pout. ‘It hurts,’ she said.
I put my hand on the duvet. ‘May I see?’ I asked.
Vanessa hesitated the merest instant, then pulled the quilt aside. I had not realised she would be naked beneath it. Her body was slender and pale. The shadowy triangle beneath her belly was a promise of bliss for some future fortunate man.
At my bidding she turned over and lifted her bottom for me to look. I adjusted the shade of the bedside lamp. The marks of the strap were red and angry.
‘The pain is not all,’ she said.
Vanessa gave me permission to soothe her with some lotion from her dressing table. She did not object when my hand lingered over the task, frankly enjoying the feel of her flesh. I covered her up and left her to dream of a happier future.
Vicky was already asleep. As I stood there looking down at her tousled hair I wondered which had needed the punishment more, she or her sister. No doubt the amount of discipline they earned or avoided might be another cause of rivalry between them. I felt sure we could give them both the best, before they went home.
Softly I touched Vicky’s foot through the covers, smiling as I thought of her hero-worship. ‘Hairbrush tomorrow,’ I promised, quietly, then turned and left the room.
* * *
Marilyn was kneeling on our bed. She was naked. Her beautiful bottom was turned towards me. The bedroom was perfumed with desire.
I went to her and caressed her.
‘I wish we had had someone to take care of you for me, my love,’ I said, ‘while I was gone.’
‘I didn’t mind waiting, Howard,’ she said, not turning round. ‘Howard?’
‘Yes, my love?’
‘Is it the cane?’
‘I’m afraid it must be,’ I said.
‘I don’t mind,’ she said quickly. ‘It’s been very hard –’
Thoughtfully I went back downstairs and took the length of yellow wood from the cupboard. I would use it now, then not again on Marilyn for another year, perhaps. Our two young houseguests knew about it, though neither of them had tasted it yet. Marilyn’s father had taught us it is always a good idea to keep something in reserve, for grievous offences and very special occasions.
Marilyn had not moved. I took my position, behind her and to the left, the fingertips of my left hand resting on her spine. She was not trembling, not even slightly.
‘I love you, darling,’ she said.
The cane sliced into her.
‘Oh!’ she cried.
Now she trembled.
I watched the tracks burn across the white hills of her cheeks. Perhaps I should have woken Vanessa and Vicky, to watch this and learn what the future might hold. I raised the cane again, and took a breath, and brought it down.
It was the swiftest of canings. She had been waiting too long already. I striped her bottom with a classic six, then flung the rod aside and pulled off my own clothes. Seizing Marilyn by the hips, I thrust. Gasping already, she reached back and guided me in. We rocked and swayed together for a timeless time. I climbed up on the bed, in front of her now. She swam backwards across the mattress, pushing, pushing back at me. Our tongues found one another.
Thus we moved, back and forth, this way and that, until Marilyn raised her legs to me and put them on my shoulders. She lifted her bottom as if in pride, showing me the stripes I had engraved there; and the next instant we extinguished in each other the loneliness and longing of a thousand days.
Afterwards Marilyn cuddled up to me, pressing against my chest. She could not bear to be so much as an inch away, it seemed. She kissed me consummately, and taking hold of my hands, pulled them onto her bottom, rubbing herself with them, as if only the hand that had marked her could soothe her.
She murmured in her most satisfied tone, and kissed my neck. ‘I’m so very glad you’re home, darling.’