Excerpt: Journey’s Valentine
Pilar Pérez Journey tried to relax in the uncomfortable airplane seat. Fortunately, it was just a puddle-jumper from Dallas to Houston. As she sat there with the roar of the small plane’s engines muting sounds from the other commuters around her, she thought about her husband, Deuce, and the way they’d parted that morning. She felt bad that they’d had another miscommunication. The pressure she was under with her job was making her irritable and shrewish and she knew it. Deuce had been patient, though he’d arched one of those black eyebrows in warning more than once. Each time, she’d gotten herself under control for a while.
That morning, as she hurried around to get to her seven o’clock flight, tired because they’d stayed up late making love, she’d snapped at him as he was packing up his gym bag.
Deuce was an early riser, enjoying his morning workouts before he went to the children’s hospital for early rounds. He did the same thing every morning: rise, groom, pack his gym bag and grab two hard-boiled eggs from the refrigerator as he headed out the door. Each day, same routine. He said it prepared him for the day by giving his brain time to wake up. Pilar said it was too predictable. Well…she said that when she was grumpy. Actually, it was rather soothing to know that everything was right with the world because Deuce was behaving normally. It gave her an anchor to moor her day upon.
But today, she’d snapped at him about his gym shirt. The t-shirt he put in his bag had seen better days, with the sleeves torn off raggedly and the lettering on the front faded and scarred. He looked totally bemused at her rude comment on it. Pilar felt guilty about opening her mouth, but that guilt only made her more irritable so she hadn’t apologized, even though she knew she should.
Deuce was so good to her, too. He really didn’t deserve her ire. Her boss was the one she should be snapping at, but, of course, that wasn’t an option. Claire Williams was a bitch of the first order, but Pilar was stuck with her. To be fair, Claire had given Pilar more responsibility over the last few months, pretty much as soon as Pilar had returned from her honeymoon with Deuce. Today, Claire had made Pilar an offer she was ill-prepared for. She wanted to promote Pilar, make her sales region much bigger, and give her more employees to oversee. Apparently, Dan Cartwright, the fellow who was handling the whole western region, needed a new manager for the southwestern region. It was a big promotion. The problem was, there was a lot of travel involved. Pilar would be away from home several nights each week, and that didn’t sit well with her and wouldn’t make Deuce happy either. Dan would go with her for a few months, traveling all over the southwestern states while she got her feet under her. He was a nice man, though he was so busy that Pilar hadn’t gotten to know him well.
And she wanted—she and Deuce wanted—to start their family. Pilar was almost twenty-nine and her biological clock was screaming for children. Deuce loved children, being a pediatric cardiologist sort of meant you had to, and so did Pilar. But if she was going to be traveling so much, children would have to wait. She wanted to be at home with her children, at least part-time. Her mother, though working as a hotel maid, worked only early morning hours so that she could be home with Pilar and her brothers in the afternoons and evenings. The bond they’d formed was formidable and Pilar wanted that with her own children. She and Deuce had agreed that it was the way they wanted to structure their lives.
The promotion effectively killed that plan. Pilar loved her job. She enjoyed interacting with diverse groups of people, managing the little set of people who also worked in the Houston territory she was responsible for. The products she represented were quality cosmetics and she was proud to be a spokesperson for the company when she met with retailers. The money was rather poor, but it was a job she was good at and was successful with, so that made up for the pay.
Pilar pondered the situation carefully as the plane droned on, and eventually her mind wandered to her intimate life with her husband. Deuce was incredible. He was everything she’d ever wanted in a man and the perfect fit for her. When they were together, there was a lot of laughter and love. He made her feel good about herself, a big change from the time she thought of herself as unworthy of his love. He loved her the way she was, although lately, with the pressure of her job wearing on her, she knew she was a lot harder to love.
Deuce had made allowances for that. Except for the time she stayed late at work and didn’t call. He’d come home after a late day at the hospital—which he’d told her would be occurring—and she hadn’t been there. She hadn’t answered her cellphone, either. It had been in her purse and she’d been away from her desk. He’d been worried about her, and with good reason. She’d been thoughtless and inconsiderate.
She got home that day, to find him on the phone, calling her parents’ house, looking for her. His hair was mussed from running his fingers through it as he did when something upset him. And his pale blue eyes practically shot sparks at her. Deuce’s first words to her, after hanging up the phone were, “If you haven’t been in a traffic accident, you’d better get ready for a hidin’, Pilar.”
“No, no accident. I’m sorry. I should have called. We had a last-minute strategy session to talk about tomorrow’s meeting with… I guess I really messed up. You were worried?”
“Worried? No. Not me. Why would I worry about my wife, who didn’t call, who didn’t answer my voice mail or texts, who hadn’t been in contact with her parents, who was out God-knows-where alone and unprotected? What a nut I’d be to worry under those circumstances!”
His sarcasm bit deep. Deuce was rarely impatient with her, giving her slack to make up for the stress of her job and her family’s continued difficulties with her little brother, Ricky.
“I’m sorry, Deuce. It won’t happen again.”
“Damned straight it won’t. Put down your things and go in the living room.” He unfastened his belt, frowning at her, his lips compressed. She’d never seen him so angry before. She knew that belt was for her and her rump got hot thinking about it.
She put down her purse and briefcase, shrugging out of her suit jacket. “I’m awfully sorry. You don’t have to punish me. Honest.”
“Go. In. The. Living. Room.”
His staccato orders made her quail. “Yes, sir.”
Deuce followed her into the spacious room and pointed at a tapestry-covered ottoman. “Skirt up, panties down, over the footstool.”
“No amount of ‘please’ or ‘I’m sorry’ is going to make up for the worry you caused me tonight, Pilar. It will not happen again.” He thwacked the looped belt against his palm for punctuation.
Feeling like a thoughtless child, she pulled up her black gabardine skirt and didn’t meet his eyes as she pulled down her black lace panties. Pilar got on her knees and draped herself over the ottoman. The last time she’d bent over the ottoman with her bottom exposed had been during a vigorous love making session. She’d gotten her butt paddled that time too, but she knew that erotic spanking was going to be nothing compared to this punishment one.
Well, she would take the spanking like a grown up, and would not be so inconsiderate again. She deserved this and she knew it, though she didn’t much like how she’d pay for this particular mistake.
Deuce loomed over her and without a preamble, without a warm up, without a single word, he applied that belt to her bottom. The first couple of swats were painful but not too bad. She took them without making anything but a surprised noise. But then it began to get difficult to hold back her cries of pain. He smacked her over and over with the belt, each time making a harsh snapping sound as it hit her beleaguered bottom. Eventually, the lecture started.
“You will call me when you’re going to be late. At the very least you will text me. Got that?”
“Ow! Oh, ouch! Yes, sir. I’ll call!”
“You will check your voicemail regularly and you will return my calls as soon as you can.”
“Yes! Oh, that hurts, Deuce!”
“I hope it hurts, Pilar, because you worried me sick.”
He applied the belt until Pilar had lost count. It hurt terribly; her butt was on fire, and her thighs were burning with pain. She sobbed and tears ran from her eyes onto the brown-flecked berber carpet. “I’m s-s-sorry!”
“You put me in a position where I got your mother worried, too. I had to call her to find out if she’d heard from you, but when she found out why, she was upset. Your thoughtlessness has a ripple effect, Pilar. I’m not the only one who cares what happens to you. If you hadn’t come home just now, I’m sure your parents would have been worried about you exactly like I was.”
She couldn’t think. Her aching bottom overwhelmed all conscious thinking except to wonder when the awful spanking would stop. “Please, Deuce! Please stop!”
He did. “Okay. That’s enough. You go stand in the corner and think about what you’ve done.”
Pilar knew what he meant. She’d been relegated to the corner before, but not always with a spanking associated with it. She got up painfully and moved to the corner near the bookcases. Deuce’s family photos stared at her as she stumbled by, condemning her and her bad behavior. Misery assailed her as her butt throbbed and smarted and tears ran down her face. Her sobs were loud to her ears. Her sniffles would have been pitiful if she hadn’t felt so rotten about her behavior.
“I’m sorry,” she tried.
“No talking. Skirt up. I want you to put your nose in the corner, too.”
Pilar took the position and waited. She could hear him moving around in the room, heard his phone beeping as he checked for messages. She tried to remember if he was on call this week but her throbbing butt was too distracting.
It seemed like she stood there for an hour, but objectively, she knew it wasn’t that long.
“Okay,” Deuce finally said. “Come sit in my lap.”
Straightening up, Pilar dropped her skirt back in place and crawled into his lap. her wool-blend skirt was a little scratchy on her behind and she fretted as she tried to find a comfortable way to sit. Eventually, she settled in place and Deuce wrapped his arms around her, resting his chin on the top of her head.
“You have no idea how worried I was for you, sugar.”
Her butt had an idea alright. “I’m sorry. I was thoughtless.”
“Scared the bejeezus out of me, Pilar. Don’t do that again.”
“No, sir. I won’t.”
“I love you, sugar.” He thumbed a tear off her cheek and kissed her forehead.
Pilar snuggled up against him, enjoying his hand stroking her hair. Deuce was warm, his cologne spicy and soothing. It had been a gift from her for their one month anniversary and he’d worn it every day since.
“I love you, too, Deuce.”
The plane landed and taxied down the runway, and Pilar’s wandering thoughts were brought back to the present moment. Her day had been long, but she had to be on her good behavior. Deuce would be unhappy about her job situation, but she knew he’d listen and help her with managing it.