Thursday, February 11, 2010

Normal Service Will Be Restored

Title: Normal Service Will Be Restored
Author: Ranger

Damien's note stared me in the face the minute I walked through the door. One yellow post-it and block capital letters. RING FOR APPOINTMENT. 
Blast. Already laid out on the telephone table was the card for the asthma clinic, which I'd been successfully ignoring since it arrived. I debated briefly slipping it into a pocket and forgetting about it: I'd been on a course all day, I was home earlier than usual but Damien wouldn't know that- and he wouldn't be home until the clinic was closed for the night. Then I swore and picked up the phone. Damien is neurotic about these appointments and it just wasn't worth the risk. 
I was half way through dialling when I realised the phone was refusing to emit a dialling tone. I hit redial and tried again. Nothing. Great. We had a faulty line. 
Well it was a foolproof excuse. 
I left the card on the table with self righteous frankness- as if I would ever dream of keeping anything from Damien- and took my coat off. I was hanging it up when I glimpsed the envelope in my pocket, and my heart sank like a lead weight. 
Two red reminders. From the telephone company. 
Both stuffed in my coat pocket out of Damien's sight.  I'd really been meaning to do something about them tomorrow. Except I'd left it for one too many tomorrows and the unreasonable wretches at the BT exchange had obviously cut us off. 
I stood for a moment with my stomach trying to escape out of my mouth, and bit my nails. This was all Damien's fault. He paid the bills out of a joint account, and being Damien, he paid them all exactly on time without difficulty. He'd insisted, as one of his strange ideas about responsibility, that I kept the telephone bill and dealt with it myself. He'd also told me what would happen if I let it get out of hand. 
I was in deep trouble now. Even if I paid the bill immediately, it would still be two or three days before the cheque cleared and we were reconnected. I had two options here. Make absolutely sure that Damien didn't use the phone before Friday, or pack a bag and emigrate. I was thinking about the extradition laws in France when Damien's key turned in the lock. 
Suited, briefcased, gorgeous and at the moment, in totally the wrong place at the wrong time. 
He kissed me as he walked past. "Mmn? That's the sound you make before you tell me Scotland Yard has the house surrounded, or you've got a herd of stampeding wildebeest loose in the garden." 
Some people will never let things rest. 
"It was one wallaby." I said with dignity. "And that wasn't my fault." 
Damien smiled at me, taking all the sting out of his teasing. "Sweetheart, if you had a pair of breeding white rhinos out there right now, they'd still have to wait until I've had something to eat." 
Actually he looked tired. His hair had escaped from his morning gel and was hanging in his eyes in the way that knocks ten years off him and makes him look rather sexy and incredibly sweet all at the same time. I watched him make coffee, thinking about that one lock of hair, until I pushed him out of the way and finished it myself. He hunted through the biscuit tin, propped his hips against the sink and pulled faces. 
"Do we have anything edible that isn't pink and doesn't have smiley faces printed on it?" 
"Yes, but you can't have it until you've sorted out the rhinos." I passed him the coffee mug. He drank about half of it, pulled me against him and linked his hands in the small of my back. 
"Go on then. Where are they?" 
One of the many reasons I love him, is that if I now confronted him with said white rhinos, he would continue to calmly eat jammy dodgers while he contacted precisely the right people to contain and remove stray African wildlife. And he wouldn't be particularly surprised. On such men as my Damien was the British Empire built. 
I kissed him for that, which is about my third favourite pastime. It occurred to me that if I wanted to keep him too busy to think about anything involving a telephone, this wasn’t a bad way to start. Damien made appreciative sounds but gently fended me off when I started to loosen his tie. 
"Easy. I've only just walked in the door and we've got all evening. Let me go and have a shower and we'll do this properly." 
"Damien?" I trailed him into the hall, looking as appealing as I know how. "Why don't we go out tonight? Go out for a meal or see a film or something? There was that spy thing you wanted to see?" 
"You mean I'd get you into a spy film without resorting to bribery?" Damien paused on the stairs. I hastily changed tack. 
"I'll see it if it means we go out." 
He looked at me, about to plead exhaustion, then I saw his eyes soften and he smiled. 
"Okay. Just let me shower, change and check my mail." 
Oh no. I followed him upstairs and dived for the computer. "I'll do that, you shower." 
"You must have been bored out of your mind by this course." Damien said dryly, moving out of sight into the bathroom. 
"It wasn't too bad." I fiddled with the computer, thanking God he hates the sound card and won't use the plings and beeps for email function. 
The shower started. "It usually takes persuasion, nagging and outright force to prise you out of the house in the evenings." 
"I'm not that bad." I protested. The computer flashed up the expected message, informing me that it was unable to make a connection. I shut it down and lied with the conviction that sometimes even convinces me. "There's no mail." 
"No? I was expecting the confirmation for the Wallis site by this evening." 
I flinched, hoping he wouldn't want to try phoning. "Want me to phone them for you?" I said hopefully, eyeing his mobile which was sitting in the pocket of his jacket. 
"No. It'll wait until the morning, I'll chase it then." Damien emerged, damp and towelling off his hair. "You're coughing a lot." 
Was I? Damn. Stress. This was all his fault. Damien pulled me closer and put a hand over my chest. "Have you taken the Ventolin yet?" 
"I was just going to." I said, muttering under my breath. Before I met him, having asthma was no problem at all. I just got rushed to casualty, turned blue and everything was fine. Damien watched critically as I set up the inhaler. 
"Are you sure you want to go out? You don't sound that good." 
"It'll be fine." 
I gulped at the inhaler. And discovered that a) I was too worried to be able to time it: something I never find easy anyway, b) I was running out of sufficient lung power to breathe it in anyway, and c) Damien knew all of the above. He took the little blue plastic tube out of my hand before I could try again. 
"It's not that bad." I said irritably. He pointed me at the bathroom. 
"It'll take ten minutes, that's all. Go on Nicky. I don't want to be dialing for ambulances tonight." 
What an excellent point. I didn't want him to either. With meek and loving obedience, I used the blasted nebuliser. 
*** *** *** *** *** *** *** 
He dropped three more bombshells on me in the twenty minutes it took to do the nebuliser and to get ready to go out. First was a sudden and uncharacteristic desire to telephone his sister. That one I thwarted by pointing out that it was no doubt the children's bedtimes and if he really wanted to talk to her we could always drop by at the weekend. Ten minutes later he stopped shaving and clicked the razor off. 
"I really ought to check on that Wallis site-" 
My heart pounded again. I wasn't at all sure I could keep this up much longer, never mind three days. I intercepted him before he reached the bedroom phone. 
"No, come on. Work's finished for the day, do it in the morning." 
"I'm sorry Nick, it's important." 
Damn! I scanned rapidly down the mental list of Ten Ways of Distracting Damien and went for my favourite- good old number ten. 
"I don’t see you all day! Then when you do get home, you can't even plan a few hours with me without phoning and emailing and worrying about the people you've been working with all day!" 
Even to my ears that sounded excessive. However I saw him hesitate and a little bit of guilt came into his face. 
"I'm sorry Nicky. You're right, it can wait. I'll check the mail when we get back, and if there's no response then I'll leave it, I promise." 
Better. Now all I had to do was make sure he had no chance to get near the computer once we came home. I was going to be exhausted by the time the phone got reconnected! I supervised him rigidly while he dressed, finished shaving and while I stumbled into the first clean clothes I could lay my hands on. I was relaxing somewhat when I turned and found him standing with the telephone receiver to his ear and a frown on his face. 
"No dial tone." 
"Probably just a temporary fault, leave it." I babbled. "Use the mobile. Who do you want to phone anyway?" 
"Just the cinema for the starting times. It's odd. I thought-" 
I cracked. Wide. 
"Okay! I didn't pay the bill! They're in my pocket, I'm really sorry- I meant to post it yesterday but I was late for work and there was a howling gale this morning- I'll deal with it first thing in the morning, I promise, it won't happen again-" 
He was looking at me quizzically. I trailed off. 
"What's in your pocket?" Damien said patiently. I swallowed. 
"The reminders for the phone bill." 
"How many?" 
"Two." I said in a squeak. "It won't happen again I swear, it was just that I forgot and-" 
"And you haven't paid them yet?" 
"Obviously…" I said, looking at him with doubtful concern. He's not usually so slow on the uptake. "We've been cut off." 
He shook his head at me. "Nicky, there's a fault in the lines. I passed three repair teams digging up the road when I came home. The whole street's without a telephone line. I was just surprised about how long it was taking." 
I opened and closed my mouth like a stranded goldfish. 
"What about your email!" I demanded eventually. "You told me to check your mail!" 
"I assumed it had been fixed. I'll assume your opinion on whether or not the Wallis mail has come through was fictional? Can I see the final demand notices please? Are they threatening us with the bailiffs yet?" 
"They're only reminders." I mumbled, collecting them. He read both, then turned one towards me. 
"You didn't even read this, did you? Seven days. You've got five days left to get a cheque in before they take action. How long does it take to write out a cheque, address an envelope and put a letter in a post box?" 
"I didn't have a stamp." I argued. "That means going to a supermarket, which takes-" 
"Nicholas, you could have picked up a stamp on the way home, written that cheque and posted it without being more than ten minutes late. Couldn't you?" 
"I can't always park by a post box-" 
"Nicholas." That word again. In a tone I've never much cared for. Damien handed me the reminder. "Find yourself a pen and write the cheque." 
"I haven't-" 
"You'll find a stamp in my wallet. You stick it on the top right hand corner, darling. On the envelope." 
I resisted the urge to tell him what to do with his top right hand corner and wrote the cheque. When I came back, Damien had his car keys and my jacket. 
"I can take it." I said sullenly. Damien helped me into my coat with more solicitation than I felt was really safe. 
"I'd hate you to lose your way. Or not be able to park. Besides," he added, ushering me out of the front door, "The last time I let you out of my sight when you were due a spanking, I had to track you down to the railway station and coax you down off a 125." 
The phrase hit me straight to the marrow. No more wondering- no more waiting. And no more hope either. 
 *** *** *** *** 
I was reaching the stage of despairing apprehension when he unlocked the front door, still keeping firm hold of my hand. 
"Take that look of tragedy off your face." He said mildly, locking it again behind us. "Two reminders, plus the original bill- that makes about three weeks you had to pay it if you wanted to avoid this." 
"It won't happen again." I entreated. Damien grinned. 
"Much as I'd love to believe you, I have to say I doubt that. Go upstairs and wait for me. Go on, and take the Disney eyes with you." 
I trailed upstairs, thoroughly depressed. The blessing to Damien is that he doesn't lose his temper. He isn't the shouting type and he doesn't get angry, which is wonderful as being shouted at terrifies the living daylights out of me. He does however resemble a bulldozer once he's got an idea in his head. 
"What is the point of spanking me when you know it won't do any good?" I demanded when he finally came upstairs, obscenely cheerful considering my mood. "It's a waste of both our time-" 
"I didn't say it wouldn't do any good." Damien said reasonably. "I said you are not and never have been organised." He sat down on the edge of the bed and held out his hand. "Come here." 
I should have hung out of the window and screamed for the police. Instead, helplessly, I went to him and let him divest me of my trousers. He helped me step out of them, folded them neatly and drew me to the bed. 
"Kneel up." 
He'd taken nothing horrible out of the cupboard- but then Damien doesn't need anything in his hand to make an impression. My knees were already shaking. 
"We really don't need to do this-" 
"Oh we really do." Damien assured me. "You're going to take responsibility for one thing in this house if it kills me. Besides which, I've told you before about credit records and non payment of bills." 
"Why do you make me pay it then?" I wailed at him. "You know it won't get done!" 
"I live in hope. And I work hard on motivating you sufficiently to THINK." He pushed me gently at the bed, making me kneel on the edge and pushing until I bent forward and rested my head on my folded arms. "If you've got any better ideas, let me know." 
"Yes. You pay the bill." 
"That is NOT an option." 
I hate this position. The bed is just high enough that he can stand sideways on and lean his left forearm on my back heavily enough that I've got no hope of moving anywhere. I was still wearing briefs but it was little consolation: I knew I wouldn't be wearing them for long. I felt him stand against me and his palm and long fingers fitted around my right hip even as I felt the warmth of his body against my left. I wriggled against him, reaching flat-out panic. 
"Damien don't- please- I'll never let it happen again, I swear-" 
"Hold that thought." His hand whacked down across the seat of my briefs. The man spanks so HARD! I jumped and reared up but his arm was heavy enough across my back to keep me exactly where he wanted me and he wasn't taking his time. A steady hail of smacks rained down over my upturned behind, moving from the small of my back to the top of my thighs with sufficient force to make me gulp and squirm like an eel under that brawny forearm. I pushed and twisted on my elbows, wishing I'd chosen the emigration option or that his grip would loosen enough to let me move my backside out of his reach. 
"Damien please- ow - Damien it's only a late payment, we weren't actually cut off-" 
"For all you knew, we had been cut off. You've spent the entire evening trying to distract me from finding out we'd been cut off." 
"I told you in the end!" I pleaded, twisting against his hip. My backside felt scorched, even through the cotton of my briefs, and I was jumping at every fresh and blazing impact of his hand. He paused. I felt his hand lift off my side and then both hands slid my briefs down over my bottom to mid thigh. He readjusted his grip and drew me back against him. 
"When you thought I was about to find out! One day, Nicholas, when I've got plenty of time and energy, I'm going to find out exactly what lengths you'd be prepared to go to avoid admitting anything!" 
His hand began to smack again, noisily, stinging so much more sharply on my bare skin and covering ground so hard I lost all ability for coherent conversation and just resorted to yelping. I was bucking and jerking and my bottom was on fire, stuck up in the air and helpless under his relentless smacking, and yet I was vividly aware of every slight movement of his fingers on my bare hip, sliding a little, straightening and flexing as I squirmed. It felt like hours before he whacked his palm down into the lower curves of my backside with the concentrated attention that means he's almost finished, and which, if I've managed to survive this far, ensures I'm in tears by the time he stops. When he did let me go, I didn't move for a minute, just buried my face in my arms and left my throbbing, scarlet rump in the air where hopefully it might cool off a bit. Damien ran his palm over both cheeks, a lot more gently. 
"That was for the bill." He said calmly. "Now about the rhinos-" 
I was in no fit state to smile, but I rolled over and he sat down beside me and we cuddled a bit while I stopped crying. 
"You'd better get dressed." He said eventually, tousling my hair. I peeled my head off his lap. 
"We're going to see this spy film, remember?" 
"You don't think I'm going to sit in a cinema after what you just did to my-" 
Damien kissed me to stop the tirade and gave me a push towards the bathroom, along with a firm swat on an already very sensitive place. 
"You'll live." 
I twisted myself in different angles in the bathroom to examine my very hot and very tender bottom in the mirror. He was going to have to stop playing squash. It was giving him far too much muscle power. 
"Did you make an appointment at the clinic?" Damien called from the bedroom. 
"Yes." I said automatically. "Next Thursday, but I'll change it if you want to-" I broke off and stormed out of the bathroom. "The phone was off and you KNOW it was off!" 
Damien fended me off, laughing. "If you don't want to be teased, don't lie to me! I swear I'm going to start measuring your nose." He trapped my wrists and tapped the nose in question. "Get dressed and don't sulk. You'll enjoy the film." 
I growled at him. Spy thrillers. I loathe spy thrillers. Never mind. I got dressed, speculatively watching the back of his dark, well groomed head. I fully intended to see how he enjoyed his spy thriller while I ate the noisiest, messiest food item on sale at the cinema, right in his ear. 
This could be a fun evening.
~The End~
Copyright Ranger 2010

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