From: (MissLilyO)
Subject: NEW STORY: The Turning Point by MissLilyO, M/f, F/fm implied
Date: 1 Jan 1997 08:43:28 GMT

Hi, Gang and Happy New Year!!!!!!!

This is a story that's been swirling around in my head for awhile, and it finally took shape. If you're under 18, do you know where your parents are? If you're older and enjoy spanking, this story has some. Hope you like it! Love,

The Turning Point

It was the call that every parent dreads in the middle of the night. Three o'clock. The house quiet. Lights off. Roberta had been sitting in the living room wrapped in a big blanket, rocking, staring anxiously out the window, all manner of terrible scenes dominating her imagination. "Mrs. Thomas?" asked the caller.

"Yes," she managed.

"Do you have two teenagers, Mike and Mallory?"

Her voice belonged to someone else. "Yes," she croaked.

"This is Officer Mansfield," the man said, and then hastily added, "and the kids are unharmed, Ma'am. But we'd like you to come down to the station if you can. The kids are in a spot of trouble."

Hours later she'd sent the twins to bed. Both of them had looked numb, and she didn't want to try to talk to them until they'd all had some sleep. Still, she resumed her place in the rocker after they'd gone upstairs, as she was far too upset to close her eyes.

Drugs! Her little babies had been arrested at a party where there were drugs! How could this be? Where had she failed them? She wanted to scream. Or kill them. Or scream and then kill them. It was well after 10 when she woke with a start as Peanuts, the little tan kitten, wound around her legs, begging to be let outside. Her neck was cricked and her head throbbed with a dull ache, but she stood up and stretched out enough of the stiffness to walk over to the door and gently nudge the cat out.

Setting her mouth in a grim line, she went to the hall closet and dug around. At last she found what she'd been looking for and pulled it out, fingering the leather. It was a long, wide strap, tapered for a hand-hold at one end. Before the day was out, the twins were going to get a taste of this fine old leather across their upturned and bared bottoms. She had never spanked either of them before, but she was darn well going to start today.

It wasn't easy being a single mom, but she had taken on the task with love and a willingness to be there for her kids. They had always been so close, especially after Craig had been killed. How could Mike and Mal be into drugs without her even suspecting? She knew all their friends. Or did she? As she went through the motions of making the coffee and watering the plants on the window sill, her mind took her back about 18 years to a girl who'd fallen into a bad crowd of kids and who had developed a wild streak as wide as Puget Sound.

Roberta's dad had left them when she was only ten, and her mother had taken it hard. Her older brother, Jerry, had joined the Navy as soon as he was old enough rather than stay home and see their mother change from loving mom to...well, to something else. But Roberta didn't have such an option, and she watched miserably as her mother began bringing home an endless string of "uncles." It was as if her mother defined her existence by whether or not she had a boyfriend. Roberta hated most of them, although a few had been kind to her. But the plain fact of it was, she'd not only lost her dad, who never even bothered to call her on her birthday after the first couple of years, she'd also lost her mother. Mom often didn't come home till after midnight, and when she was home, she never seemed to have any time for her daughter. For her part, Roberta grew more and more introverted, feeling like there was no one in the world who gave a damn about her.

It didn't take her long, after she got into high school, to drift into a crowd of other misfits, many of them latch key kids like her, who had an attitude and no one to set boundaries. At first she resisted their offers to smoke a little weed, but she wanted so much to belong somewhere, to be accepted and noticed, that soon she capitulated and began sharing a toke now and then. There were beer and sweet soda-pop wines at the parties, and she thought nothing of drinking and smoking, laughing outrageously at somebody's dumb jokes. Mom never seemed to notice or care that now Roberta got in after midnight too.

Running a comb through her tawny hair, she stared at the face in the mirror, a face that seemed haggard to her in the harsh light of the morning. Roberta reflected on what she thought of as her "turning point." She thought to herself how probably everyone, if they'd lived long enough, could look back to a time in their lives when some singular event changed their course for good, or for bad. For some it may have been a wonderful teacher; for others a move to a new town, or a certain friend, or...a foot too heavy on the gas pedal.

For Roberta, it had been meeting Old Bill. It happened this way.

One night she'd been coaxed to a party at the home of one of the wildest kids in their little group. His parents had serious money and were always traveling, and they left Greg pretty much on his own most of the time. When she arrived, the place was jumping. The stereo was blasting, the kids were blasted, and somebody stuck a beer in her hand the minute she walked in the door. Greg had opened up his parents' liquor cabinet, and soon she had tasted Jack Daniels and peach schnapps with a beer chaser. Her stomach began doing The Hustle.

Francie sidled up to her and said, "Hey, Berta. Check out the dudes who just showed up! That blond one is a stone fox!" Roberta looked at the four boys who'd just pulled up in a Firebird and sauntered into the party looking like they owned the place. They looked a little older than most of the kids there.

Despite her behavior for the past year or so, Roberta still had a conscience that whispered irritatingly in her ear now and then, and she marked these guys as trouble before they made it clear across the room. They were checking out the girls, and before long she felt their eyes on her too. She had breasts that were the envy of all her girlfriends, although she sometimes thought they just got in the way. Tonight she was wearing a sheer blouse that accentuated her figure, and she might have well hung a sign around her neck that said, "Stare here." With her dark golden curls in a painstakingly tousled tumble and her caramel colored eyes, she could turn heads. Her problem was that she just didn't like herself enough to know she was a beauty.

The alcohol began to blend with the haze of pot smoke in the air and before long Roberta's head was swimming. Someone pulled her onto the dance floor and pressed close to her. His arms were around her, squeezing her ass tightly, and he pressed his hard crotch against her. She realized it was one of the boys who'd come in the Firebird. "Feel that, sweet thing? I got something for you." Roberta struggled to get free, but he held her in a vice grip. "You're such a pretty little kitten. Where'd you get those pretty eyes, huh mama?" The music was slow and sexy and his hands moved over her, setting her senses on edge.

Even now, Roberta could only remember the ensuing events as a sort of montage, scattered images, some clear, others banked in a fog. She had gone off with the older boys in the Firebird, protesting weakly but wrapped in a haze of grass and alcohol and transported by the flattery of the one who had danced with her. As her mind played back the disjointed tape, she had disconcerting memories of the boys groping her breasts and their crude comments, of feeling sick and dizzy, of their hitting I-90 about 85 miles an hour, and of her hopes they'd get pulled over by a State Trooper. It was not to be, however, and then she remembered being up near Snoqualmie, pulling off the highway onto a dark road flanked by huge pine trees. Crickets, night birds, and her pleas to take her home all mingled together in her mind with the grunting of the boys as they pulled at her clothing and theirs.

And that's when she met Old Bill. He came out of nowhere and slammed at the driver's window with the butt end of the biggest shotgun she'd ever seen. A huge mongrel dog was with him, snarling and jumping up on the car. "LET HER GO!" he bellowed. The occupants of the car were frozen with terror at the sight of this wild looking apparition who had appeared out of the blackness of the forest.

Old Bill had a grizzled beard that reached down to the center of his chest. The beard matched in color the unkempt gray and black of his long hair and bushy eyebrows. Dressed in worn jeans and a heavy leather vest over a long-sleeved denim shirt, despite the warmth of the summer night, he towered over the car, standing nearly 6'5". There was a fierceness in his eyes that took all the starch out of the usually aggressive boys, who thought themselves pretty tough as a foursome.

Bill roared again. "I SAID LET HER GO! GET OUT OF THE CAR, GIRL! NOW!"

Sobbing with fright and horror, Roberta tried to open the door but her fingers were shaking too badly. Finally the driver reached over her and fumbled with the handle, practically pushing her out onto the ground. "P-please, Mister," he said, his voice cracking and ascending nearly an octave, "we didn't mean..."

"SHUT UP!" the wild-eyed monster shouted to the boys. "I ought to blow your damn heads clean off for what you were about to do. Fact, I can't think of one reason why I shouldn't!"

The acrid smell of urine suddenly filled the car, and one of the boys started to bawl. Roberta lay sprawled in the dirt outside the car, shaking so hard she thought her teeth would come loose. Why, oh why, had she stayed at that party when she really knew better? First she was about to be gang raped by those filthy scum boys, and now murdered by a maniac up in the woods. She thought about her mother, and wondered if she'd even notice her daughter was gone.

And then she saw the shaggy shape of the big dog trotting around the car toward her and started to scream. Her cries of alarm mobilized the driver of the car to action and he suddenly fired up the ignition of the Firebird and threw the car in reverse, spraying the helpless girl and the mongrel with dirt as the tires bit into the old logging road. Old Bill raised the shotgun menacingly, but did not fire on the brave youths as they retreated, leaving the young girl in the hands of their worst nightmare.

Roberta kept screaming in mindless terror as the big dog hovered over her. "For Pete's sake, child," said the man gruffly, "hush up or you'll wake the trees!" The dog began to lick her face, and she rolled over to try to escape the crunch of its powerful jaws on her throat. "Get away from her, Gus!" ordered the man. "Don't lick her to death." The dog whined and wagged his tail, cocking one ear comically as he appeared to weigh the consequences of one more friendly slurp or heeling to his master's knee. He chose the side of caution and backed off, coming to stand wide-legged beside Bill.

The dog's obedience and something in the tone of the monster's voice caused Roberta to stop her loud sobbing and screaming, and as she quieted, she dared to open her eyes a little and look up at the man who was surely about to end her young life. It was so dark in the forest, and he was illuminated only by the light of a three-quarter moon, giving him an other-worldly appearance, something from the depths of hell, escaped into the world of man. Her eyes were wide and frightened, and to Bill she looked like a doe caught in the headlights of a hunter's jeep.

"Don't be afraid, girl," he said in a gentle voice. "I don't aim to hurt you. Those boys you were with, on the other hand, had just that in mind. I don't expect they'll be back, the low-life scum that they are, but just in case, I think we better get you out of here. Get up now, you can stand up. You're just shook a little." He reached out a hand to her, and she shrank back. "Of course," he added with a chuckle in his voice, "I COULD leave you out here for the bears to snack on. There's quite a few of them up here, you know."

That's all it took for Roberta to scramble woozily to her feet. She didn't stay upright long, however, feeling the odd black velvety blanket of unconsciousness envelop her and her rubbery legs give way. When she woke up, she was in a big warm bed and the smell of coffee tantalized her nostrils. Suddenly her stomach warned her that a major event was about to begin and she half stumbled, half crawled out of bed, blindly searching for the bathroom. She barely made it, falling limply to the floor, holding on to the toilet for dear life as her unwise choices of the night before went into replay mode.

After what seemed an eternity, the spasms had ended and she lay with her cheek pressed against the cold porcelain. And then she felt the giant's big hands under her armpits, pulling her up to her feet. He took a wet washcloth and wiped her face and mouth with it. She caught a glimpse of their reflection in the mirror and wondered, detachedly, who the strange pair were. A pale, clammy-faced girl, hair looking as if it had been styled by a blender, with huge dark rings of smeared mascara and fatigue under her puffy eyes, was being literally held upright by a hirsute Paul Bunyan. As she raised her hand to her eyes, so did the girl she was watching. With a giggle, she tried to say, "That's me," but it came out more as a squawk before she blissfully fell back into a swoon.

When she woke again, it was night, and she was disoriented. The room was dark, but in the pale light of the moon, she could see the shape of a big rocking chair moving back and forth gently. From nearby, a dog whined softly, and she saw the big man reach out and pat his head, murmuring quietly to the animal, whose tail thumped in answering pleasure.

Roberta's head had cleared considerably, and even her treacherous stomach had stopped betraying her. The events of the night before, at least those she could remember, came flooding back into her mind, and she started to cry quietly.

"Well, welcome back to the world of the living, sleepy head," rumbled the deep voice of the man in the rocking chair. "You've had quite a time of it, haven't you?"

She gasped and pulled the covers up higher around her, praying for the first time in years, asking forgiveness, pleading for escape from the clutches of the monster.

"Now, girl," soothed the voice, "you have nothing to fear from me. I know I probably look scary to you, 'cause of my size and all, but I'm not the boogie man."

It was not so much the words he spoke, as the underlying gentleness she could hear in his voice as he addressed her that made Roberta relax and lay back in the dark, feeling for the moment at least that maybe God had been listening after all.

"We've got to get you back to the world soon, youngster. Your people are going to be frantic looking for you. I guarantee you those boys aren't going to tell anybody. How in the world did you get hooked up with those hooligans anyway?"

She groaned and said, haltingly, "I--I met them at this party. I think I had too much to...too much to drink. Can't exactly remember how I got to be in their car. And then..." She trailed off as the sobs hit her throat.

His weight pressed down the bed as he gathered her up into his massive arms and held her against his chest, letting her cry out the fear and shame he knew she was feeling. When she had let it all loose, she felt drained. The stranger was gentle with her, patting her back and stroking her hair. She knew instinctively his gestures were not sexual, and let herself believe for a moment that this was the Dad she'd always wished she'd had. Once more she drifted off into merciful sleep.

When the smell of coffee hit her the next time, she felt not nausea but raging hunger. Gingerly she sat up and swung her feet out of the bed. She was still in her clothes, and she felt grimy. Sunlight was streaming into the bedroom now and she saw a pleasant, homey room with natural pine wood and warm braided rugs on the floor. Her bladder pressured her urgently and she found the bathroom again.

"Well, Gus," chuckled the big man, "look who's up and about." She had stepped tentatively out of the bedroom and stood taking in the big open room that served as living room, eating area, and kitchen. The ceilings were high and open-beam, carved out of rich golden pine. The furniture all was over-sized, covered with red and green plaid, more braided rugs on the hardwood floors. It was rustic, yet boasted modern conveniences. Lacking, however, were television, radio, or phones.

"I 'spect it's time we introduced ourselves properly, girl," said the man. "I'm Bill." He smiled crookedly. "Well, guess many of the local folks call me 'Old Bill,' though I'm not actually ninety five just yet!" Looking at him, it was hard to tell how old he was. His face was weathered, the creases around his dark blue eyes deep. But the eyes themselves were bright and intelligent, and his big hands had obviously seen lots of hard work. "And you are?" he prompted.

"Roberta Clark," she said. "I...I need to use your phone, please. I have to call my mother."

"Don't have a phone, Roberta. Pleased to meet you, by the way. This guy here is Gus." Gus wagged his tail vigorously, aware his name had been spoken and nobody was mad at him.

Suddenly the enormity of what had happened to her began to set in, and Roberta's temper flared. "What do you mean, you don't have a phone?" she demanded. "What kind of person doesn't have a phone! Who are you? Why don't you let me go home?" She stamped her foot angrily.

Bill's brows knit together in a look of disapproval. "Now listen here, Roberta. I'm the one who should be asking the questions. You were in a real bad spot the other night. If I hadn't been out with Gus, there's no telling just what might have happened to you. At the very least you'd have been raped. God only knows what those little pukes might have done next. I don't have a phone because I choose not to have one. I suggest, young lady, that you get back into that bathroom and clean up. You're a real mess, if I do say so. When you're presentable, you may come out and join Gus and me for some breakfast. Meanwhile, you keep a civil tongue in your head. You and I have a little business to attend to before we take you back to civilization."

"I don't want a bath and I don't want any damn breakfast!" she shouted, knowing she was out of line, but unable to control the irritability that gripped her. "I want to get the hell out of here!"

Bill didn't reply, but strode across the wide room in three giant steps and grabbed the girl by the seat of her pants and the back of her neck, hauling her unceremoniously into the bathroom. She kicked and wriggled, but the effort was completely wasted on the big man. He held her easily with one hand while turning on the water and filling the tub. "Get out of those clothes!" he commanded her.

"Like hell I will, pervert!" she said. Even as the nasty words spewed out, she knew she was wrong, but her temper had the best of her.

"That does it," said Bill matter-of-factly. "I was gonna save this till later, but a little appetizer never hurt, I guess."

With that, he reached around the girl's small waist and tucked her under his arm so that she was facing behind him, her bottom elevated and her legs kicking uselessly. His broad hand descended with a sharp thwack on her rump, two, three, four, five times in startling succession. Even through her worn jeans, the sting was fearsome, and she squealed in dismay! He put her down, still sputtering, on her feet. "Now, get out of those dirty clothes this instant, girl, or I'll whale the skin right off of you here and now."

Red-faced, she turned her back on him and pulled off her torn blouse and besmudged bra. The jeans too were in sorry shape from her fall out of the car, and they came down slowly, followed by her panties. She was aware of his amused glance at her pinkened bottom cheeks, and flushed in fury. "Are you going to stand there and stare at me?" she spit at him.

"If it crosses my mind to do it, I surely will," he assured her, "but I don't see much there to stare at. You stink, in case you haven't noticed, and you look like you been rode hard and put away wet. Now get your sorry butt into that tub and clean up. I'll see what I've got around here for you to wear. This stuff is headed for the rag bag." With that, he lumbered out of the room, scooping up her tangled and dirty clothes with him.

Roberta was ashamed of herself. Bill had done nothing but show her kindness, and he had, she was sure, saved her life. It's just that she had been through so much, and she needed to get back to a world familiar to her. It made her impatient and frustrated and angry. She realized her anger was misplaced. Those creeps who dragged her out to the woods to rape her were the ones she should be pissed at, not this kindly stranger. If she let herself consider it, she should be pretty made at herself, too. As she sank gratefully into the steaming hot water of the bath, her heart gave a lurch. What had he meant about the walloping being "an appetizer"? He *had* said he'd get her back to civilization, hadn't he?

When she got out of the tub and toweled off, she saw that he'd slipped a stack of clothes inside the door. Surprisingly, the blue flannel shirt fit pretty well, despite her full breasts straining the middle button just a bit, and the jeans, though a trifle long for her, fit her bottom as though they'd made for her. There was even a pair of white cotton panties. Where in the world had they come from, she wondered? She brushed out her still-damp hair and emerged from the bath feeling 100% better.

"Well, looky here," said Bill, approvingly. Gus trotted over to her and poked at her for a pat on the head. "Come on over and have some breakfast," he invited.

"I'm...I'm sorry for the way I acted, Bill," said Roberta sincerely. "I shouldn't have talked to you like that. Thank you for everything."

"I know you're sorry, young lady, although not as sorry as you're going to be. Now come sit down and eat."

Too ravenous to think about his words any more, she sat down quickly and dove into a huge stack of buckwheat flapjacks and a thick piece of ham. Bill watched with amusement as she equaled his own appetite and wolfed down the very last flapjack with gusto before leaning back in the chair with a satisfied groan. "That's the best food I EVER tasted!" she declared. The bath and the meal had brought a bloom back to her cheeks, and Bill could see what a pretty girl she was.

"Well, Julia Child I'm not, but I've been cooking for myself for a long time, ever since my wife passed on," he told her.

"Are...are these her things?" asked Roberta softly.

"Yep, and I know she'd be pleased if you get some use out of them. You'd have liked Evelyn," he said, a warm remembrance shining in his blue eyes, "everybody did. Not a day goes by I don't think about her."

"Did she live out here with you?" asked Roberta.

"This used to be a vacation home for us when she was alive," Bill said. "We lived on Mercer Island most of the time." Noting the look of surprise on her face, he smiled broadly. "Oh, I wasn't always the 'mad mountain man,' Roberta. I was an architect and Evelyn was an interior designer. After she was gone, I just didn't have the heart to continue, so I sold my firm and the house in Mercer, got rid of most everything we had, and moved out here. I prefer my own company, mostly."

Roberta looked around the room as he talked, taking in the big wall of books at one end of the house, the old turntable and stacks of records on a table, an old Smith-Corona typewriter on the pine desk. Most surprisingly was a big bag of rags and a thick trail of braid spilling out of the sack. "Did YOU braid these rugs?" she asked him, incredulous.

"I sure did!" he said proudly. "What's the matter? Can't imagine these big old ham hands could braid?

They talked companionably for a while, and finally he led her over to the couch. "Now, young lady, talk. I want you to tell me how you came to be in this mess."

Hesitantly at first, Roberta began to sort through her life out loud, and soon her words gushed out like a river as she told him of her loneliness, her disappointment in her mother, her abandonment by her father, her recent behavior, and finally about the party. He sat, listening intently, murmuring a response here and there. Finally she fell silent, out of words to say.

"You know, Roberta, you're young now and have a lot of growing up to do, but it's time you figured out just who you are, what your purpose is in your life, what you want. Then you need to figure out how you're going to get from here to there. You can't just drift through life with no direction, feeling sorry for yourself because you got dealt a bad hand. Your behavior is unacceptable, young lady, and you just haven't had anybody around to help you to see that and get you back on course. As of today, that's all going to change. You and I are gonna take a little walk, and when we get back, I guarantee you're going to make some changes in the way you're headed. I'll take you back down into town and we can call your mom and let her know you're okay."

Feeling both relief at the news that she'd be going home soon, and apprehension about implications of that little walk he mentioned, Roberta looked at him. "Um...Where are we going?"

"We're going out to the woodshed, Roberta. You're going to get a taste of some old fashioned discipline before I head you for home. It's clear your mom doesn't paddle you, so I've decided I'm going to."

"You can't do that!'s against the law! And besides, I'm too old."

"Well," drawled Bill, an amused twinkle in his eye, "if you want to turn me in to the Federales, you'll just have to act on your own conscience. And you're certainly not too old, little one. Nope, I've made up my mind, and Gus here can tell you I'm pretty implacable when I do. So come along, and let's get this spanking over with." Gus panted happily, as if agreeing with the boss.

If she thought about resistance, the idea was soon banished by the look of determination on Bill's face and the iron grip of his huge hand on her wrist as he pulled her to her feet. He drew her outside and across a short wooden sidewalk at the back of the big cabin to a smaller building. The fragrant smell of the stacks of red cedar in the shed filled her nostrils, and years later she'd associate the scent of fresh wood with a smarting backside!

Bill sat down on a wide wooden bench and said, "Take down your jeans, Roberta. Underpants too. I'm going to spank you bare. That's the only proper way to get a spanking, in my opinion."

"You can't!" she cried. "It's too embarrassing!"

"Oh, I can and will," he promised her. "It's not half as embarrassing as betraying the good girl you are on the inside for a few cheap thrills with grass and booze. You've been selling yourself real short, Roberta, but that's all going to change as of now. Get those pants and panties down, NOW!"

With a jump at his stern tone, Roberta tremblingly unfastened the jeans and slid them down to her thighs. "Farther," he said, and she pushed them down to her ankles.

"Please," she begged.

"Get those panties down," he ordered. When she hesitated, he hooked his thumbs into the waistband and tugged them right down to nestle inside the jeans. Her hand tried vainly to cover the luxuriant tawny bush at the V of her thighs, but he grabbed her and pulled her over his broad lap. He moved her around until satisfied that her poor bare bum was at the perfect height and angle. The shirt tail was pushed up high on her back, causing her ample breasts to rest against his thigh. Patting her lightly, he added, "This is for your own good, little girl, and down the road, you'll remember that, I think."

With that, he lifted his wide hand and brought it splatting down on her upturned cheek. It hit with a satisfying pop, and Roberta jerked, reaching back to cover her stinging buttocks. Bill easily pinned her hand at the small of her back and swung another hard spank down on her white skin. He may have been an architect in his other life, but he must also have been an artist, for he painted a vivid pink-hued picture of a well- spanked, naughty little girl on Roberta's pale bottom cheeks. She was crying, and kicking, giving him a delicious view of her girlish charms, pink and gold between her thighs. Bill had a true appreciation of an upturned ass, he and Evelyn having spent many blissful years enjoying the thrill of the spanking arts. But he was here to mete out some long-deserved discipline to a basically good girl, and had no intention of taking advantage of her vulnerable pose.

"Up you go, Roberta," he said, and helped her to stand. She was crying unashamedly, oblivious of her nakedness. "You are to stand over there against the wall with your jeans and panties down for a bit. Hold your shirt up so your little spanked butt shows, and don't you dare reach back there to rub it."

Sniffling, Roberta shuffled over to the wall and did as she was told. The skin of her bottom stung horribly, but she realized she felt no resentment at his punishment of her. In fact, she felt better than she had in recent memory, as if his big hand had spanked away all the doubts and unhappiness in her heart. After a few moments, he called her back.

"Roberta, it's time for the rest of your punishment."

"Wh-what?" she stammered. "I can't take any more! My butt's on fire now!"

Bill laughed. "That little hand spanking? That was nothing! You're going over the saw horse there for a real licking now." Reaching up to the wall, he took down a broad and well-oiled leather strap, thick and supple. Her eyes widened as she realized he intended to spank her with it. He had placed a thick blanket over the sawhorse, and motioned for her to bend over it. She looked at him for a long moment, and then obeyed him, bending well over and pushing her bottom up high for him. This he noted with genuine approval. "Good for you, honey. This will hurt for a little while, but you'll think it's worth it one day. Legs wide apart now, that's it."

When he began, it was like nothing Roberta had ever felt, could ever have anticipated, in all her experience up to that moment. For the rest of her life, she'd be able to recall the whistle of that leather through the air in the cool woodshed before it bit into her tender fanny flesh. She knew she was completely vulnerable to him, her tender nether lips and lush curls fully exposed to his view. But she was without shame before him now, giving herself over to the pain and the odd tingling pleasure of the leather's kiss. Every blow seemed to instill her with purpose, courage. Each singing whistle signaled her resolve to make changes in her life, to live up to whatever this kindly giant saw in her. She took everything he had to give her, actually lifting into the strap, even while she sobbed and cried. At last she was too exhausted to do more than lie limply over the sawhorse, and that's when Bill stopped the strapping.

Gently he rubbed a soothing balm into her pummeled flesh, now a deep crimson hue. When she was able, he helped her to stand up and carefully pulled her panties up. Folding her into his arms in a giant bear hug, he patted and praised her. "You're such a brave girl. Poor little Roberta. You've had such a time of it. Such a good girl." His crooning was the most wonderful thing she'd ever heard and she glowed inside as brightly as her throbbing fanny did on the outside.

Finally he released her and said quietly, "Step out of the jeans, little one, and come back inside the house." Gratefully, she kicked them aside and let him lead her back into the house and into the bedroom where she lay on the big bed face down once more, until she fell into a short nap. She awoke when Bill gently shook her shoulder.

"Time to get up, Roberta. We need to get you home."

The ride down the mountain was far less vivid in her memory than her brief time with Bill. Her mother drove to Issaquah to pick her up. Ironically, she hadn't been worried at all, thinking Roberta had stayed at Francie's house. Not until the phone call from Bill had she realized her daughter had been in danger. She was spitting mad when she saw Roberta, and alarmed by the bearded giant standing beside his Jeep with her daughter.

"Hi, mom," said Roberta, sheepishly.

Her mother raised her hand as if to slap Roberta in the face, but she was shocked when Bill's huge paw stopped her wrist. "Mrs. Clark, Roberta's been through enough," he said with quiet authority, and Ruth Clark gave him an embarrassed stare. "Fact is, Ma'am, that if you'd been doing your job as a mother, Roberta might never have found herself in this predicament. If anyone gets smacked, it oughta be you," he added, to Mrs. Clark's consternation. She glared at him for a moment, and then suddenly looked away, face flushing.

"You're right, Mr...uh," she managed.

"Just call me Bill," he said.

"Well, you're right, Bill. Roberta and I have gotten off on some side road neither of us intended. I haven't been much of a mother to her. When I realized I hadn't even known she was gone, you can't imagine the...well, maybe you can. I do know things are going to change."


Roberta heard the kids stirring upstairs. Mother was right. Things had changed after her mountain odyssey with Bill. Her mother had thrown out the bottles and the stray men, and began to be involved in Roberta's life again in a way both of them needed. It wasn't perfect, and there were still pockets of strain and resentment between them, but it was a far cry from the bad times before they'd met up with Old Bill.

Roberta had stayed in touch with Bill, writing him once a month, and smiling when his eloquent letters came to her in the mail. Even after she was married, they kept up their correspondence, and she had dragged Craig up to meet Old Bill, as if to ask for Bill's approval of her choice. Craig had liked Bill instantly, and Bill had given her a wink and a nod when the young people left, telling her she had his blessing.

When the twins had been born, Old Bill had trimmed his beard, put on a suit, and come to town for their christening. Now and then she drove up to see him alone or with the children, enjoying his cooking and conversation. He had a limp now, his bulk putting a lot of strain on his hip socket, and Gus had long been laid to rest up on the knoll above the east side of the house. But he still got around fine, and had a new dog, Tilda, a big brindle hound with one blue eye and one brown one.

She sighed, and picked up the phone, talking at length with her boss. When she put down the receiver, she had tears in her eyes. Picking up the big strap, Roberta climbed the stairs to the second floor, and called the twins to her bedroom. Both kids dragged in, looking shamefaced, a little defiant, and a tad shopworn.

"Kids," she began, "I know it hasn't been easy for you since your father died. It hasn't been easy for me, either. I've let a lot of things slide by that I shouldn't have. But that's all in the past. We're going to make a change in direction from here on out."

The twins shifted uncomfortably, looking at each other nervously. Mom sounded far more strict than usual.

"Here's the program," their mother continued. "You two are in BIG trouble, and you're going to be punished for your behavior last night."

"But Mom," began Mallory, who stopped when her mother put up a silencing hand.

"Be quiet, Mal. You're going to be punished, both of you, with a bare-bottomed strapping." She ignored their gasps and protests. "You're both going to get a long hard spanking with my hand, and my hairbrush, and then you're going to go downstairs and bend over the end of the couch and take a long hard strapping on your bare butts with this." She held up the big strap.

"When your spankings are over with, we're going to take a little ride up into the mountains. My boss has agreed to give me a short leave of absence, and it's time we went up to visit your godfather. I have a long story to tell you two, and I think it's best if you hear it from me AND Old Bill together. I have a hunch you'll both be taking a little walk with Old Bill before the day is over."

The twins were gaping at her in disbelief, but Roberta's resolve was unwavering. As the whistle of the leather and the cries of the well-spanked teenagers filled her ears, Roberta knew they'd just come to another turning point.