"No means no," Justin accented each word with a hard thwack of the brush. Bradley only replied with "awwwwww"s and "ooooo"s.
"The next ime I tell you to keep the computer off, I expect you to do it. Do you understand?" Justin asked firmly.
Brad chose not to answer, concentrating only on the fire that was growing increasingly hotter and more widespread. Justin landed another half dozen swats, and asked the question again."Y--yes sir." Brad managed to mutter in between howls.
Justin put the brush on the bed, and helped Brad to his feet.
"Go in and take a shower and get ready for brunch."
Brad wiped the tears from his eyes with one hand, and tried to rub away the fire with the other, neither doing much good. He went into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. He stood half gazing at the damage, wishing his friend Tom had a better time to socialize on instant messenger. And to top off this morning, he had to attend brunch. He was none too pleased to have to spend his Sunday morning with Justin's snobbish sister who was coming over for a short visit. Brad couldn't figure out how two siblings could have such polar opposite personalities, even if they were different sexes.
"Bradley, I don't hear any water running," Justin stated from the bedroom.
Brad gazed at the door, a look that would make small children cry, and walked over to the shower, turning it on. He so wished to comment, but knew it would only result in an even sorer behind. After letting the water warm up for a minute, Brad slid in. He let out a little whimper as the water cascaded down his sore bottom.
As Brad showered, Justin did some cleaning up, in case Jocelyn wanted to come by after brunch.
Tom sat quietly at the office computer, dressed only in his tightie whities. It was barely 6am there, and Dean was fast asleep. Tom waited impatiently for his cyber friend to log on for his solid weekly chat.
"Come on Brad, where are you?"
He cruised a few sites that he liked to keep updated on and continued waiting. Thirty minutes later there was still no sign of Brad. Knowing Brad the way he did, he figured he was in trouble with Justin again. He jumped when hands landed on his shoulder.
"Morning." Dean said.
"Daggone it, why couldn't you knock?" Tom nearly shouted.
"Hey. I wasn't sneaking around."
Tom had gotten over the adrenaline rush. "Sorry. You just scared the crap out of me."
Dean squeezed his shoulders. "Is Brad not up this morning?"
"No, he hasn't appeared. I'm guessing he's probably on Justin's bad list. He said he'd probably have troubles today as they had things to do."
"Then why don't you come back to bed. You know I like you getting to bed early when you're going to be up early, and you didn't manage that last night."
Tom shut the computer off and followed Dean back to bed. A little more sleep wasn't going to hurt, especially if Brad wasn't around to chat with.
Brad finished up his shower, his tears finally ending as well. Justin knew how to spank, that was a given. He dried off his face and looked again in the mirror, hating the bloodshot eyes that looked back at him. Justin was just going to have to give him time when he needed, as Tom wasn't allowed online at just any time. They had a weekly date; Justin was just going to have to get over it.
"Brad! Come on sweetheart, we don't want to be late!" Justin yelled from the stairs.
Brad opened the door. "I'm getting dressed as fast as I can!"
"We need to leave in fifteen minutes."
Brad grumbled as he pulled out some sweat pants and a sweatshirt. He was in no mood to get formal, not with his backside aching like it was. He pulled on his underwear and winced, then pulled up the sweats. He managed to balance long enough to slide his feet into his tennis shoes and tied them up without sitting down or falling over. He checked his hair one more time, scowling at his own face, before heading downstairs.
"Bradley Thomas, you get yourself back upstairs and into something decent," Justin said, turning Brad back towards the stairs with a swat to his backside.
Brad jumped out of reach. "It HURTS!" he said, rubbing.
"You should have thought about that before turning on the computer. Five minutes, or I come up there with the paddle," Justin said sternly.
Brad stomped up the stairs and went into his room, kicking his shoes off into opposite corners. He turned quickly when he heard Justin's tread on the stairs.
"I'm getting ready!" he said quickly, running towards the closet.
Justin came in the room and clicked his fingers, pointing at the floor in front of him. "NOW," was all he said.
Brad stepped slowly over to position.
"This is your final warning. Your attitude sucks and it ends right here and right now. If you don't like the consequences, then you don't misbehave. Is....that....clear?"
Brad muttered a quiet "Yes, sir," the only answer he knew would keep him safe.
"Four minutes," Justin said, turning for the door.
"But you said five before!"
"Three minutes and 55 seconds," Justin said, going downstairs to wait.
Brad turned and mimicked Justin. "Three minutes and 54 seconds....oops 52 seconds. Eat me!" The latter comment said in his best Gingerbread Man impersonation. He felt better after his brief, quiet rant, and quickly got dressed. He made it down the stairs with just seconds to spare.
Tom curled up next to Dean, laying his head on Dean's chest. As tired as he was, Tom couldn't fall asleep. Instead, he drew lazy circles around Dean's nipple.
Dean took Tom's hand and kissed it, stilling the movement.
Tom rolled over, staring at the ceiling. His thoughts went back to Justin and Brad. He'd been talking to Brad now for just over three months, and in that time he'd learned a lot about him. The main thing was, Brad could be a complete ass. Sometimes he'd be wanting to pick up the phone and call Justin, just to bring Brad down a peg or two. He didn't have his phone number, but there were days.....
One month earlier, Tom had been up early and was waiting for Brad. When Brad appeared thirty minutes late without explanation, Tom was going to say something to him. But Brad didn't give him a word in edgewise, just started on a rant about Justin this and Justin that, how unfair he was and on and on and on. When Brad finally ran out of steam, Tom asked him what had happened.
Tom&Jer: You sound really upset. What happened to make Justin do that?
Only14u: I was late, that was ALL!
Tom&Jer: I wouldn't have thought Justin would go psycho on you like that.
Only14u: You don't know him like I do.
Tom&Jer: What were you late for?
Only14u: Oh, it was just a stupid court date for a freaking parking ticket. He acted like it was the end of the world.Tom sat back, his mouth wide open. Brad was pissed off at Justin because of that?! Tom would have been creamed, and rightfully so, if he were late for a court date. What the hell was Brad's problem?
Tom rolled back over and started working on Dean. It didn't take long before he had his full attention. After a good workout, Tom was able to go back to sleep.
Justin drove over to pick up his sister on the other side of town, then headed back to downtown for the Hyatt hotel Sunday brunch.
They all entered quickly and got situated quite comfortably.
"Tell me all about New York, Joycelyn." Justin asked, hanging on his baby sister's every word.
"It is fabulous Just. I am seeing a doctor."
"What for? Mental or physical health?" Brad asked, disgusted at how intensely Justin was listening.
Justin shot a look that could kill, but Brad blew it off completely, nibbling on a roll.
"Socially. I am seeing a doctor socially!"
"Ah. A proctologist? Urologist? Gynecologist?" Brad asked casually.
"Oh, Brad, you're SO funny," Joycelyn replied, blushing slightly. "He's actually a brain surgeon."
"Wonderful. Then he can do the lombectomy you need," Brad replied.
Justin was saved any more embarrassment when the waiter approached to take drink orders.
"Why don't you head on up Joyce, we'll watch your purse." Justin said kindly.
"Thanks," Joycelyn said as she headed up to the food bar.
Brad tried to follow but was stopped by an iron grip on his wrist.
"SIT still and listen closely young man," Justin said in a low growl. "I told you before we came that you were to be a gentleman, and you're far from it. I will discuss your punishment with you later, but I'm warning you right now. One more remark, one single, solitary smart alec move, and I'll take you to the nearest restroom and let my belt finish this discussion."
The look that Brad got wilted any further misbehavior on his part. "Yes, sir," he said, shifting uncomfortably in the chair.
Justin kept his eyes locked on Brad's for a moment longer. "Then go on up and get your plate."
Brad escaped quickly, an involuntary flush having crept into his cheeks during the lecture.
"You look a bit flushed Brad. You should take off your jacket if you are warm," Jocelyn said as he made his way behind her. "Oh that's right, you aren't wearing one."
Brad had a tart reply ready to roll, but knew he would pay a cost greater than it's value.
"You are sharp, Joy."
"Joycelyn, please, Bradley."
"If you wish to be picky, then its Brad!"
"What's Brad?" Justin asked, coming up behind Brad as Joyce went back to the table.
Brad wanted to say a few choice words, but knew better. "We were just getting our names straight," he said as he walked over to the bakery area.
Justin let it slide, filling up his plate and returning to the table after Brad had finished.
"So, this brain surgeon, how did you meet him?" Justin asked.
"Oh, you know the Governor's Ball? The one that I was invited to in the first place?" Joycelyn waited until Justin answered in the affirmative. "Well, the lady that invited me introduced me to the Governor's wife, and SHE introduced me to her college buddy, James. James Edward Thomas, III. He's of the Bostonian Thomas's."
Brad was having a conversation with himself, mimicking Joyce's words, and nearly burst out laughing when she added the last sentence. "He's from.....Boston?" he finished quickly, feeling the burn of Justin's eyes on his forehead.
"Oh, yes. He comes from old money, made it in oil. His father is a multi-millionaire and sits on the board of the Boston Museum of Art," Joycelyn gushed.
Justin continued asking questions and listening intently as his sister talked about her month long stay in New York.
Brad ate, refraining from further conversation unless Justin prompted him particularly. As long as he had unlimited food and an appetite, he could probably put up with Joyce.
Tom woke up as Dean sat up, ready to get up.
"Time?" he asked sleepily.
"It's nine. What would you like for breakfast?"
"That I can do," Dean replied as he slid his feet into his slippers and grabbed his robe from the chair.
Tom rolled around a few minutes more, taking the chance to stretch luxuriously in the still warm bed. His thoughts returned to Brad, wondering what Brad would have to tell him later. It would probably be a week before he could chat on IM to him again, though they used emails. It just wasn't the same as live chat.
Finally his bladder prompted him to leave the warmth of the bed.
Justin invited Joyce to visit their house for an hour or two to continue catching up after brunch. Joycelyn quickly agreed.
When they arrived home, Justin was able to get Brad alone for just a moment to tell him he needed to show his sister some respect and stay in the living room with them. It wasn't too much to ask for another hour or so of Brad's day.
After a half hour of conversation, Justin could tell Brad was about to explode.
"Brad, why don't you help me make some tea, please?"
Brad got up and followed Justin from the room, unsure as to the motive.
Once the kettle was put on to boil, Justin spoke. "Thank you for giving the hour of your time. I know my sister isn't your favorite person, but she does deserve some respect from you, if nothing more than because she's my sister."
Brad wisely kept his mouth shut.
"I didn't appreciate your behavior earlier. Joyce is going to need firewood for the coming winter, and as usual, we have enough to share. I'd like for you to head upstairs and get changed, and start working on chopping the logs to about two feet by six inches -"
"I am NOT chop-"
Justin's look stopped him mid-sentence.
"Can't it wait until later?" Brad tried asking.
"Sure, if you would rather join me in the living room."
Brad made a face and headed towards the back door.
"Get changed and get a jacket on, it's not summer."
Brad wanted to shoot daggers, but instead smiled and went upstairs. Justin meanwhile returned to his sister.
"Where did Bradley go?" Joycelyn asked.
"He volunteered to prep some wood for you."
"All rotten and wet I am sure."
"Joyce, he wouldn't dream of it. Although you two have your moments, its not all bad."
Joyce smiled and took a sip of her tea.
Brad went upstairs and changed clothes, happy to be out of his nicer ones and back into the jeans he normally wore. He was not pleased at all to be working on the woodpile, but much preferred that over Joyce's chirping conversation. He thumped back downstairs and slammed the door on the way out, tossing his jacket over his shoulder.
He grabbed the ax and started hacking away at the logs, quickly using up the energy that his anger provided him. When he started getting tired, he began thinking about how much he disliked Joyce and that is was her that got him sentenced to hard labor and his anger burned anew. He had to take a break, he was chopping so ferociously that the logs would soon be toothpicks. Brad placed the ax on the ground and headed into the shed. As he entered, something on the top shelf caught his eye. He got a wonderfully, mischievous idea. He stood on his toes, and felt around, finally grabbing hold of the item. He looked at the pack of firecrackers he held in his hand.
"This should scare the britches off of that snooty little bitch. Making me waste my afternoon back here."
Brad placed them in his pocket and returned to the chopping. He had to find a way to insert them into one of the logs, or more specifically the log on top.
Brad continued chopping, getting hot and taking his shirt off. A few minutes later he heard the backdoor open and saw Justin and Joyce come out. Justin was headed in his direction.
"Brad, get your shirt back on, it's cold out here."
"Not when you're chopping wood it's not."
"Get your shirt on, now. I'm going to take Joyce home, I want you to keep working out here. You could do another pile about the size you currently have."
"Justiiiiiiiiiiinnnnn, that'll take me another couple of hours! Why don't you help me?" Brad whined as he put his shirt on.
"Because I was not rude to my sister, you were and this is your punishment. I want a sizable dent in that load by the time I get back, is that clear?"
"And your attitude had better improve by the time I get back as well. If you don't like doing this, then behave." Justin took Brad by the chin and kissed him. "I'll be back in a little while."
Brad watched as Justin left, waving to his sister when he really wanted to be giving her the finger. At least he didn't have to listen to her anymore today.
Brad continued with his chopping assignment for the next fifteen minutes. The adrenaline was pumping so he was able to chop faster and harder. He finally had enough, every chop reminding him of that snooty Joycelyn. He left the axe in the next log and took a seat. As he was sitting he remembered the firecracker. Now was the time to install it. He grabbed a good-sized log and walked into the garage, going directly for Justin's tools. He found the drill, and drilled a hole just large enough to slide in the firecrackers. He smiled wickedly as they slid in, just down far enough so they would not be seen. He quickly cleaned up his little project, and returned to the wood pile, placing the log in a special place so it wouldn't get mixed up with the other hundred blocks he had to cut. Satisfied, he grabbed the axe and continued the hard labor.
"Why do I have to deliver the wood? Isn't it good enough that I chopped the damn things?" Brad whined.
"Watch your mouth. And because I said so. Joycelyn needs them this evening. And if I take them, I will be late for the neighborhood meeting," Justin replied.
"So what? You miss the fat ass up the street bitching about the garbage."
"Would you like me to take you into the bathroom?"
"No, Sir. I just don't want to goooooooooooo."
"I am sorry, but you are going to have to. And you better be civil too! I'll help you load the truck."
Brad decided it wasn't worth the spanking he was sure to get if he refused. "Alright, fine. I didn't want to go to the meeting anyway."
"Go on, get your jacket. I think you left it upstairs."
Brad headed up to get his jacket.
Justin went outside and started loading the wood.
When Brad came outside, he sprinted over to the wood, looking around for the piece he had loaded with the firecrackers. "I didn't know you were going to start so soon!" he said, sounding almost accusatory.
"I didn't think you'd mind if I loaded more that you?" Justin replied, puzzled. "What are you looking for?"
Brad realized he didn't want Justin to have ANY idea about the firecrackers. "Oh....nothing." He picked up some wood and tried to look without being obvious, for the loaded piece of wood. They all looked the same. Finally he gave up and just pitched the wood in. He'd have to look as he unloaded it.
"There, that wasn't so hard. Joy may not even be there when you arrive. Just make sure you stack it nicely against her garage, and be good."
Brad heard the warning in that. "I'll go now, make sure I have enough daylight. See you later." He hopped into the truck and headed over to Joy's, anxious to get this job finished and back to the house. It would be a good opportunity to get online and see if Tom were there without Justin yelling he'd played enough.
He was very pleased to see that Joy wasn’t anywhere around. He quickly unloaded the top part of the wood, knowing the loaded wood had to be at the bottom of the pile somewhere. He was down the last layer when Joy pulled up.
"Hi Bradley. I REALLY appreciate you bringing this over tonight. You're such a dear."
"You're welcome," Brad managed.
"I've got some groceries to unload, I'll help when I'm done."
"Thanks, but I'll probably be done by then."
"I'll hurry then."
Brad went back to the wood, still looking for the loaded log.
Joy came out a few moments later. "Looks like I CAN help." She grabbed a few logs and put them on the stack.
"Joyce, really, I can handle this," Brad tried, wanting to find that log.
"No, I can help." She continued moving some logs and took a few moments to speak the next line. "I know.....it was probably at least partly my fault you had to cut this on your own." She looked up, wondering what her reaction was going to be.
Brad's ears turned beet red, his face a slight shade of pink. He wasn't used to having his relationship spoken about.
"I...I'm sorry. I just took a guess, it probably wasn't a good one." Joyce looked completely embarrassed herself.
"No. No, it's okay. Don't worry about it. My fault, I wasn't the nicest person," Brad stammered, moving the wood faster.
"I have something for you. Just a minute." Joyce was gone in an instant, before Brad could say anything else.
He quickly finished moving the wood, just so he wouldn't have to talk to Joyce any more. He wasn't quite sure he could handle any more conversation with her. His face was finally cooling back down from earlier. Looking over the last log, he still couldn't make out any drill holes. He slammed it down on the pile, wondering where in the hell it had gotten to and when it would get used. A moment later, Joyce came outside.
"I got a lot of freebies while I was in New York. A lot of stuff I'll never eat, actually. Justin told me you really love the fancy chocolates and coffees, and I have a whole bag here for you. It isn't much, but I thought you'd enjoy it."
Brad accepted the bag from her, very surprised that she had even thought of him. "Thanks," he finally managed to stammer out.
"You're welcome. Thanks again, I really do appreciate all the work you've done. Why don't you head off, I know Justin's got his meeting. I'm sure you'll find a way to enjoy the house by yourself."
Brad was still pretty much speechless from the entire conversation. "No problem. I'll see you later." He climbed up in the truck and backed out, waving in return to Joyce as he left and thinking to himself that maybe she's wasn't SO bad. When he pulled into the drive he took his bag and headed inside. He turned the computer on and dumped the bag out to see what Joyce had given him. Out tumbled at least a dozen small boxes of chocolates and about twenty packets of flavored coffee. Then he found a stack of a dozen free movies at their local movie outlet. Opening one of the boxes he sampled a piece of chocolate, now feeling badly that Joyce had a spiked log somewhere in her stash.
Finally the computer finished it's connections and he turned on his IM, hoping to see Tom there.
Only14u: Really, really! The warden is at a meeting, and I have the place to myself.
Tom&Jer: Where were you Sunday? I managed to drag my butt out of bed, and you were nowhere to be found.
Only14u: Oh I was getting my ass smacked.
Tom&Jer: Ouch! What for?
Only14u: For trying to talk to you.
Tom&Jer: Does Justin not like me?
Only14u: Well perhaps...
Only14u: LOL Kidding. I was supposed to be getting ready for brunch with his stuffy sister.
Tom&Jer: Ah the socialite.
Only14u: Yeah, that's the one. But now I am feeling kind of bad.
Only14u: I thought she was a total mega bitch. But I just went to take firewood to her...which I might add I had to chop. Anyway, she gave me a basket full of chocolates and coffees. Said she felt bad that I had to chop all that wood.
Tom&Jer: Aawww, see I told you she couldn't be THAT bad.
Only14u: I just hope she doesn't use that log.
Tom&Jer: What log?
Only14u: Did I forget to mention? I was thoroughly peeved that I had to chop wood for her, so while taking a break I found some firecrackers. Then I got creative and drilled a hole in the log and filled it with the firecrackers.
Tom&Jer: Uh you DID forget to mention that. Are you INSANE?
Only14u: What? A little popping and cracking would be great for a scare.
Tom&Jer: Scare? A scare?Tom was shocked by Brad's cavalier attitude. He was literally seeing red, and couldn't even muster the proper response.
Tom&Jer: Dean's calling, dinner ready. See you later.
Tom&Jer is not connected."Well, what got into him?" Brad asked himself, as he began surfing the internet.
Tom sat back, fuming. He couldn't BELIEVE the stuff that Brad did -- and got away with! It wasn't fair, not in the least. If Tom had done something like that, he'd forget how to sit, not to mention ever seeing the light of day, OR of the computer screen for the rest of his life! He was just going to HAVE to figure out a way to let Justin know what was going on, before his sister had a heart attack or her house burned to the ground.
He sat, deep in thought, for several minutes. Then it hit him. He clicked on IM again, smiling when he saw Brad was still online.
Tom&Jer: Brad? This is Dean, Tom's partner. How are you?Brad looked at his message indicator and sucked in a quick breath. Nothing like talking to another top to make one a little nervous.
Only14u: Yes, it's Brad, and I'm fine. And you?
Tom&Jer: Very well. I know that you and Tom have been speaking together for a while now, and I thought it was about time that I introduced myself to you and your partner. Justin, isn't it?
Only14u: Yes, Justin is my partner. Nice to meet you, Tom's said a lot about you.
Tom&Jer: Only good things, I hope. LOL. Would Justin be around?Brad wasn't too sure that Dean and Justin meeting was a good thing.
Only14u: He's out right now. Another time maybe?Tom laughed, wondering what in the world Brad was thinking about now.
Tom&Jer: I'm sorry to have missed him. I would appreciate it if you could give me his email address? An introduction via letter would work even better I think.Brad paused, wondering what he should do. Saying no at this point might look a little suspicious, and that he didn't need. Finally he decided he didn't have much to lose.
Only14u: I'm sure he wouldn't mind this. It's Justme@excite.home"Sucker. I got you by the balls and you don't even know it," Tom said, laughing again.
Tom&Jer: I need to finish dinner. It was nice meeting you. Take care.
Only14u: Same to you. Bye. :)Tom disconnected again and sat back with a huge smile. Now I just have to figure out what to say and when, and we'll see if Brad is laughing about this later. Just have to pick the right time because it would only work so well once.
Two days had passed since Tom had spoken with Brad. He was anxious to see if there was any change in his demeanor about the entire situation. It still irked Tom to no end that Brad was so cavalier about it. He looked at his watch, and thought perhaps he might be able to catch Brad online, since it was Justin's late night at the office. And he was correct.
Tom&Jer: Haha, caught ya!
Only14U: Hey this is a surprise, what's up?
Tom&Jer: Not much. How about with you?
Only14U: Same old, same old. Just catching a couple minutes of online time before I get barked at.
Tom&Jer: Why would you be barked at, this time?
Only14U: Well I won't be if I can get my homework done, AND start dinner.
Tom&Jer: So WHAT are you doing on here?
Tom&Jer: You are IMPOSSIBLE! I swear sometimes I think you LIKE aggravating Justin.
Tom&Jer: That's what I thought. Hey, what ever happened with that log?
Only14U: What log?
Tom&Jer: The one you chopped for Joycelyn.
Only14U: Beats me.
Tom&Jer: You mean you never warned her about it?
Only14U: Un-uh. Actually forgot about it.Tom's head was about to explode with rage. "This boy needs to be taken down. And SOON!"
Tom&Jer: Well I got to get ready for dinner. Dean and I are going out tonight.
Only14U: Sounds like fun.
Tom&Jer: It should be. Have to clean up the house first though, or we won't be going anywhere. I will catch you later, or over the weekend.
Only14U: Okay, you better! 'Night.
Tom&Jer: Good night.Tom disconnected and stared at the screen for a moment. He really DID have things to do right now, but later that evening, or tomorrow, he would have to inform Justin. He wouldn't be able to sleep at night if something happened and he said nothing.
Brad went back to surfing, but stopped after a few minutes. He HAD forgotten about the log, but now that Tom had reminded him he felt guilty again. Guilty enough that he signed off and grabbed his books. By the time Justin got home he had his homework up to date and dinner was almost ready. He could barely stand it when Justin was so appreciative and only managed to keep his mouth shut because he knew he'd be summarily killed if Justin had a clue.
Saturday afternoon Brad and Justin had just finished cleaning the house, and both were ready for some relaxation.
"How about this movie I rented?" Justin said, pulling one out of his briefcase.
"Pearl Harbor?! You found it?!" Brad asked excitedly.
"Yes, I did. They finally had one in stock yesterday, so I picked it up."
Brad kissed Justin before grabbing the movie and putting it into the player.
"Just a moment there. Let's get a fire started and some popcorn popped before we settle down, okay?"
"I'll do the popcorn if you do the fire!" Brad said as he dashed into the kitchen.
Justin laughed and headed outside, filling up the wood holder. He built a nice a fire and had just finished up when Brad came back in with popcorn and cokes. He settled on the couch and Brad curled up next to him, happily eating popcorn.
"Stick another log in sweetheart," Justin said as the fire started to die down.
Brad got up and tossed one in, then cuddled up next to Justin again.
When the movie ended, Brad stretched lazily. "Got any more?"
"Actually I do --"
"Yes, I did. But before we play that, I need to stretch. What would you like for dinner?"
"Let's just order pizza, please?" Brad asked with large eyes.
Justin decided that Brad had worked long and hard enough today, and he really didn't feel like cooking, so the pizza treat would be perfect. "Alright, let's do that."
"What movie did you get, what movie did you get?" Brad asked.
"You'll find out after I've checked my email and ordered dinner."
He headed into the kitchen to order the pizza, then went into the office to check his email as he was expecting a client to send him a confirmation. He logged on and perused the new mail, clicking and deleting more junk mail that he couldn't stand. He almost clicked on an address he didn't recognize, then decided to open it. It was from Tom&Jer@hotmail.com.
I know you don't know me, but I'm Tom. I chat with Brad mostly on Sunday mornings. Brad told me something that has really bothered me and I thought you should know. Your sister, Joycelyn I think, was given some firewood? Brad loaded one with firecrackers because he was mad at her. I wouldn't normally say anything, but that sounded dangerous to me. I wanted you to know, but I'd really appreciate it if you didn't tell Brad that I told you. I don't think he'd talk to me again.
Tom.Justin sat back, shocked and annoyed that he was being told something about Brad by someone he didn't even know. He clicked the close button and powered down the machine. He decided not to mention anything until he had worked though how to deal with it himself.
He headed back through the living room. Brad was curled up in a blanket on the floor in front of the fire. "Why don't you put another log on and close the glass so that you don't burn yourself up," Justin said as he passed by into the kitchen.
Brad snorted, but got up and stuck another log on. He closed the doors and settled back down with his blanket. Not a minute later, the fireplace emitted two loud pops and one section of glass shattered to the marble base of the fireplace.
"SHIT!" Brad yelled as he rolled away, his heart racing ninety miles an hour from the adrenaline rush.
Justin heard the commotion and headed into the living room on a run. "Brad? What happened? Are you alright?!"
Brad sat up and mutely stared at the fireplace, pointing. At exactly the same moment, they both realized what had just happened.
"Bradley, look at me!" Justin waited until Brad looked at him, which took nearly a minute to snap out of his trance. "Are you alright?"
Brad nodded yes.
"Now tell me, what happened?"
"I didn't mean to."
"What do you mean? What didn't you mean to do?" Justin knew that Tom had to have informed him correctly, but couldn't believe that Brad would do something so incredibly foolish.
Brad couldn't respond. What could he say that wouldn't get him eaten alive? He never expected the log to do that. Brad was half glad that it happened to him, and not Joycelyn, but wished Justin hadn't been present.
"BRADLEY THOMAS STARLING. Plant yourself in a corner and get your thoughts together. NOW." Justin stood LOOKING until Brad scrambled to his feet and sought the quiet corner. He then turned and surveyed the mess in front of the fireplace. After gathering a broom and dustpan up, he worked on cleaning the glass from the frame, and off the marble. He then opened the glass doors and made certain that the metal screens were in place before taking the glass and disposing of it.
Brad stood in the corner, listening to Justin work. He tried to think of an explanation, ANYTHING that made sense, but nothing did. His mouth dried out and he had a hard time swallowing when Justin went into the kitchen. He felt more than heard Justin return to the room. Chills went up his spine slowly, then tickled the base of his skull.
Justin stood, staring at the back of his impetuous lover. He had no idea what he was going to do when Brad confessed to what he had done. He knew it was a flight of anger that caused him to do something so foolish, but it could have had serious repercussions. He needed to make sure Brad knew that, knew that fits of temper like that weren't ever going to be accepted behavior.
"Ready to talk Brad?"
Brad nodded slowly to the affirmative.
"Then come have a seat on the couch." Justin waited until Brad did as he was told. "What happened here?"
Brad looked at the floor, embarrassed by the truth.
Brad looked up and began. "I, sort of put a firecracker...in one of the logs."
"What do you mean 'SORT OF'? Either you put it there or you did not."
"It was meant for someone else."
"You mean my sister?"
"Why, because your mouth got you in trouble, and you had to chop some logs for her?"
"Yes, sir. I was working on the logs after you left that day, and when I took a break, I found the firecrackers. I didn't mean to do her any harm. I didn't know the log would do that."
"What did you think it would do?"
"I just wanted to give her a scare, for get-"
"Getting you in trouble? Do you honestly think she got you in trouble?"
"I...I did, but now I know it was all me."
"Bradley I can't believe you would do something so dangerous, and devious. I understand you did it on the spur of the moment, but surely after thinking about it, you must have realized it was wrong?"
"Just not enough to tell me." Justin paused. "What if it had been delivered to Jocelyn? What if her screen wasn't in place? What if she was leaning in to shift it about?"
"I didn't think-"
"No Bradley, you didn't, and that is the problem. You can't go through life doing things on a whim. They can have real consequences. And I am going to make sure you understand that. You are grounded for the next two weeks."
"I am NOT through, and I suggest keeping quiet unless you want to make it three."
Brad sat quietly.
"You will go upstairs and get the hairbrush. You need only come down in your underwear, and those won't be in place long."
"NOOOOOOO. Please Justin, not the brush."
"Brad you do NOT want me to have to go get it."
Brad stood up on shaky legs and worked his way over to the stairs. He ran up them quickly, then slowed down on the walk to the bedroom. Once he reached the room he was unsure of what to do first. Get the brush or lose his sweats.
"I'm waiting!" Justin yelled from downstairs.
Brad quickly went into the bathroom and got the brush, throwing it on the bed. Then he pulled his shirt over his head and then worked on pulling down his sweats. He didn't know which was more embarrassing, getting ready to be spanked alone, upstairs, or right in front of Justin. He left the sweats in a pile on the floor and picked up the dreaded hairbrush. It seemed small, but Justin wielded it in such a way that Brad would do just about anything to avoid even ONE smack from it. Unfortunately, he knew he'd be getting far more than one. Chills ran up and down his spine as he crept slowly down the stairs. He stopped and sat down when the doorbell rang.
Justin went over to the door with his money, and paid for the pizza. He was very pleased that it had arrived before the spanking he was going to give Brad. He walked it into the kitchen and immediately put it in the refrigerator, having to rearrange quite a bit to get it to fit. He returned to the living room. "Bradley," he said warningly.
Brad stood up and continued down the stairs, his brief reprieve over. He walked around the corner and stopped when he saw Justin.
Justin pointed in front of him and kept his eyes firmly on Brad as he walked forward. He held out his hand for the brush.
Brad wilted under that gaze. His arm almost didn't follow his brain's request to lift the brush up to Justin's hand. He knew as soon as he did that things were going from bad to worse.
Justin took Brad's chin in his hand and raised his head up. The eyes looking into his were shiny and sad. "You saw what happened when those firecrackers went off. You realize that YOU were very lucky you had the glass closed when that went off, or pieces of the log could have exploded from the fireplace and set you, or the house, on fire. The same thing could have happened to my sister, or to myself. You DO understand that, correct?"
Brad's tears slipped from his eyes as the true realization of what could have happened hit him. If anything would have happened to Joyce, Justin would have been devastated. He started to nod, but opened his mouth and choked out a yes, sir when Justin's grip tightened.
"Underwear off!" Justin ordered.
The tears fell harder as reality continued to set in. He managed to do as instructed, feeling vulnerable in front of his lover.
"Bend over the arm of the sofa."
Brad's teary eyes widened, and he began to tremble. He stared hard at Justin. He had only been spanked over Justin's lap to this point. Justin just pointed. Brad slowly walked over, and bent over the arm, his bottom pushed high in the air.
Justin walked over and stood to the right of Brad. He could tell his simple pronouncement had a profound effect on Brad, and he didn't want to torture him. Brad hadn't been the easiest lover to discipline in their short year together, but he wanted to make certain Brad acknowledged why he was going to be spanked.
"Tell me why I'm going to spank you," Justin said curtly.
Brad's head was swirling. This was one of those times he KNEW he deserved whatever he got, but he was scared to death of the consequences. He shivered again and bit his lip, fighting back tears.
"Brad?" Justin prompted.
"The firecrackers were dangerous," Brad choked out.
"They were VERY dangerous, and I hope this will help you remember NEVER to do anything so foolish again."
Brad tensed fully. He sobbed once when Justin's hand went to the small of his back. All pretense of dignity left him when the first swat of the brush landed. He jumped forward and both hands went back to try to ward off the next swat. "Oh God, plllllllleeeeeeeaseeeeeeeee Justiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!"
"Did you think I'd find your actions the least bit funny?" Justin demanded.
"Nooooooo! But it huuuuurrrttsss!" Brad sobbed loudly, lying on the arm and holding his cheeks.
"Stand up, hands on the couch. NOW."
"RIGHT NOW," Justin barked.
The authoritative tone broke through Brad's last lines of defense. He burst into tears and worked to put his hands on the couch and his feet on the floor. Justin placed his hand on the small of Brad's back again, applying firmer pressure now to hold him in place. Justin pulled back the brush, and began to apply a fast, methodical pattern across Brad's fading white backside. Brad howled and jerked with each snap of the brush. Justin made sure Brad stayed in position, continuing the barrage for a couple minutes, not letting up until he was satisfied that every inch had been paddled a few times with the small wooden brush. By the end, Brad was hoarse from the howling and sobbing.
Justin put his hand on Brad's shoulder, and Brad just slid to his knees, face buried in the arm of the couch. His bottom was a mixture of fire and throbbing. He was certain Justin wouldn't want to ever say anything to him again, and he was miserable.
Justin picked Brad up and fell down on the couch with him. He pulled Brad close, holding him so that his bottom wasn't resting on his legs. He ran his hands across his back and through his hair, speaking softly and waiting for Brad to settle down.
Brad wanted to be mad at Justin, but he found that very hard when Justin was being so kind right now. He gave up and his arms snaked around Justin, squeezing tightly until he had regained his own voice. "I'm sorry," he said quietly, not looking up.
Justin gave him a hug. "I know sweetheart. It's over and done with now. Just promise me something?"
"What?" he answered, still in a small voice.
"Remember the lesson?"
Brad nodded vigorously against Justin's cheek.
It was only the second night of Brad's grounding and restriction, and already he was becoming ornery.
"I said NO! N O!" Justin said, raising his voice.
"But Justinnnnnn its-"
"It's only 8:45!" Brad shouted, shocked.
"Well you should have thought of that five minutes ago."
"I only wanted to get on and talk to Tom for-"
"Brad, unless you want to go to bed with a RED HOT reminder, get your butt up to bed now."
Brad started to huff, he couldn't believe he was expected to go to bed that early. But he saw Justin's gaze and knew he would be in for it if he argued any more. Brad breathed in deeply and walked up to the bedroom.
"I will be up in ten minutes, and I expect to find you in bed ready to sleep." Justin added.
Justin breathed a sigh of relief, hoping that would end the antics for the night. But the idea of speaking to Tom didn't sound all that bad. He headed into the office and logged onto the computer. Sure enough, the IM rang, notifying him that Tom was on. Justin barely had time to click on his name before a message appeared.
Tom&Jer: Brad? Is that you?
Only14u: Tom? This is Justin.Tom's heart sank to his toes as those words popped on screen. He wasn't sure what the situation held.
Tom&Jer: Justin. Nice to meet you.
Only14u: Likewise. I wanted to thank you for your e-mail. That took a lot of courage to do that.
Tom&Jer: But at what cost?
Only14u: What do you mean?
Tom&Jer: I am sure Brad must think I am a snitch.
Only14u: Well in cases like this, it IS better to notify people about what you know.
Tom&Jer: I guess.
Only14u: However, you can rest assured. Brad will never know you told, unless you tell him you did so.
Only14u: Let's just say things have a way of coming to light. The log never made it to my sister's. Brad accidentally put it in our own fireplace.
Tom&Jer: OMG. Is everyone alright?
Only14u: From that, yes. However, Brad insisted that you be informed that he will be out of commission for the next two weeks.
Tom&Jer: Well, thank you for that.
Only14u: You’re welcome. I’m glad that you were willing to do what was right. Brad is lucky to have you as a friend. Speaking of which, I need to go check on him. I’d like to meet your partner at some point, but I’ll get back to you about that later. Good night.
Tom&Jer: Tell him I said hi. Good night to you too.Justin signed off and turned the computer off. He walked up into the bedroom and found Brad as he had hoped, in bed.
"Tom says hi," he said, coming around to Brad’s side of the bed.
"What?" Brad said curiously.
"I signed online, and he was there waiting."
Brad smiled. Justin leaned over and turned the light off next to him.
"Light's out!" Justin said as he leaned down and kissed Brad goodnight.