Ethan’s cock throbbed with need at the way Lily responded to his decision. Her already flaming cheeks seemed to blush harder and her breaths were coming out in short pants. He threw her a smile as he closed the drawer and made his way back to the bed clutching his choice of implements. As his shins hit the side of the covers, he tossed them down, just a few inches from Lily’s head.
She lifted her gaze, eyeing all three with obvious suspicion.
“So, my naughty wife prefers the paddle, does she?” he asked, for some reason still talking about Lily in the third person even though she was right there on her knees in front of him. There was just something about the deed, somehow it seemed to objectify Lily further—an objective they both wanted him to achieve.
“Does that mean I should use it first or last?”
Lily’s wide eyes met his gaze. “Sir?”
He didn’t have to look into her thoughts to see the panic swelling in her now, Lily’s body language was giving it away effortlessly and his erection grew as a direct result. After all this time, that flicker of fear in Lily’s gaze still made him hard. But then Ethan guessed some things would never change.
“Never mind,” he told her with a smile. “I have decided to be kind and save the best until last for you.”
She gasped, probably uncertain if that was a kindness or not, but wisely, Lily said nothing. Ethan reached forward, selecting the thin cane from just beyond her nose and holding it up for inspection. It had been a very long time since he’d last caned Lily, but based on the huffing and puffing that was coming from her, she hadn’t forgotten its keen bite.
The words left her lips in a rushed breath and Ethan knew how much effort it was taking for Lily to remain in position for him. Every instinct in her body was telling her to get up and run for the door.
“But you’re not going to run, are you, Lily?”
She pressed her palms down in front of her, as though she needed to ground herself. “No, sir,” she promised. “But please. I hate that thing.”
Ethan lowered the cane and moved toward her. “Hate is a strong word, little one,” he replied in a soft voice. “You may not like it, but do you deserve it?”
Lily screwed her face up. “Maybe, sir, but—”
He lifted the cane above her prone arse as her protest began, bringing it down swiftly across both helpless cheeks and ending her sentence.
She leapt from the bed at the impact, yelling out into the covers as she buried her face in them.
“There will be no excuses, Lily.” Ethan’s voice was little more than a growl as he tilted his head to assess the mark the implement had made against her pale skin. “You will kneel there and take your punishment like a good girl. Got it?”
Lily lifted her head, blinking away tears as she answered. “Yes, sir. I’ve got it.”
Ethan nodded. “Good. Six strokes of the cane then?”
He presented it as a question, though he didn’t know why. Lily’s fate was already sealed.
“Six more, sir?” she whined.
“Absolutely, six more,” he repeated. “That first one was just a warning about what happens when we don’t accept our punishment.”
She pressed her face back into the covers at that and Ethan smiled. It was such an ironic sentiment coming from a man like him—a man who had successfully dodged his punishment for decades. Inching forward he raised the cane over her vulnerable backside.
“You’re going to thank me for each strike, Mrs. Reilly,” he told her. “And then, once we’re finished with the cane, you can tell me what you’re being punished for.”
Lily sniffed, twisting her head at the news. “Yes, sir,” she mewled.
Ethan swatted her with the cane again, and this time he did it with real force. He watched with satisfaction as Lily’s fingers clawed at their bedding, but somehow, she swallowed down the pain. Ethan smiled. He was almost proud of her.
She lifted her head. “Thank you, sir,” she managed, although Ethan could tell it was killing her to have to say the words.
“You’re welcome,” he replied happily. “That was one.”
He landed the next strike a little lower than the first and this time she squealed.
Damn it, Ethan! That hurts so much!
“Good,” he told her sternly. “I want it to bloody hurt, Lily. I want you to remember why it hurts every time you try and sit down.”
She inhaled at that, the defiance radiating from her body. “Thank you, sir.”
That was said between gritted teeth, but still, she had said it. That’s what counted. Ethan could work on getting her to mean it as they went.
“That’s two, Lily. Brace yourself.”
Lily’s cheeks tensed at his command and Ethan wanted to chuckle.
“Not like that,” he chided, tapping her cheeks with the end of the cane. “Relax those cheeks and just be ready.”
She panted again, and in Lily’s thoughts Ethan caught a myriad of complaints, but he ignored them, instead lining up his next shot. He aimed for the place her thighs met by delicious arse, and this time Lily jumped clear from the bed at the hurt.
“Ow, ow, ow!” she yelped, reaching around to claw at the punished area.
“Get those hands away,” he barked. “You know better than that, Lily!”
He ensured he locked gazes with her and Lily bit her lip in shame as she withdrew her palms. “I’m sorry, sir,” she whimpered. “But it’s too much.”
No, it’s not, his thoughts told her. It’s not even close to being too much, sweetheart.
Watery eyes blinked at him.
Accept your fate or I will be harder on you.
It took a moment, but Ethan saw the moment she ceded the point. Her shoulders slumped, her head falling forward again.
“Better,” he praised. “Now, thank me and then you can tell me how many strikes you have left.”
Lily shifted her head miserably. “Thank you, sir,” she mumbled. “There are three to go.”
Though God knows how I’ll get through them.
“You’ll get through them,” Ethan said with a smile. “You’ll get through all of it, and do you know why, little girl?”
Lily’s gaze had the temerity to narrow at that. “Because I deserve it, sir.”
“Right,” he replied. “Now spread those legs and get ready. The last three are coming hard and fast.”