Hidden in her chair, shaking with fever, watched by three pairs of eyes - she absolutely hated the situation. If there had ever been a time when she had to keep it cool, this had to be it. She was this close to shouting and swirling something in the girls' direction. She would, but she couldn't; If she moved too much she was going to faint. Or even worse - shake, as if determined to cause an earthquake.
"Meg, please let us take you to a doctor. You're burning."
She shifted her look towards the curly red haired. "I don't need any fucking doctor. Don't you all get it? I'm fine. I caught a cold. Big deal. I'll be all dandy tomorrow."
"No, you're not. Look at how you're shaking." That was Rachel. Meg didn't bother to answer.
"Look, Rachel will drive you..." - The red haired said again, feeling Meg's forehead with the back of her palm. "You have at least 38. I swear."
"Will you stop it already?" Or else she would start shouting and a shouting Meg was as bad as the Katrina.
"You were sick when you came and then you didn't want to put the jacket on last night." It was Jackie's turn. Jackie was her friend. Not her best friend, but a good friend. But Meg had a few ideas of where Jackie could shove her frienship.
And this is when Jackie decided it was time to take control of the situation and went to get help - as if anybody had ever asked for fucking help. Help materialized - as expected - in the form of another very good friend, Ryan. That was Jackie for you: too concerned about others but not enough about herself.
Ryan stared at Megan. She didn't look back, even though his eyes could pierce through her skull. And she avoided him not because she was scared of fainting or shaking too much - she avoided him because you don't fuck around with Ryan. It was a basic rule. Ryan would always be there if she needed him, but Ryan would take none of her nonsense. Besides, she had a clear feeling that this time Ryan would take the girls' side, only because they were three against one. It was not because she was wrong. Being wrong meant that she was sick indeed, which she couldn't be; Her body would not let her down.
"What happened to you?" He stood next to her crouched figure. She could see his black converse sneackers.
"Nothing happened to me. What the fuck happened to all of *you*?" It was a mumble.
"Cut the crap. You're as sick as a dog. And red like hell."
"I am tired. I caught a bit too much sun. Now will you all leave me alone?"
"See what I mean?" - Jackie snapped on her high pitched exasperated tone. "She doesn't want to go to a doctor."
"Jackie, go pack her bags please. I'll take her home. This trip is over for her right now."
"Jackie, you pack my bags and you are dead meat." She took it out on an easier target.
The girl stopped, looking back at Ryan.
"Are you listening to her or to me? Do as I said and I'll take care of her. I'll come in a second to pack mine."
"You're not coming back?" - the red haired one asked, as surprised as always.
Ryan watched Jackie run back to the house. She stopped for a few seconds on the terrace, where the rest of the group was gathered playing cards and drinking, and soon he felt all the eyes turn towards him and Megan.
"Nope. 'Fraid not. " - he said, ignoring the general stare.
"Ok. Then take the brat home and make sure she doesn't do more stupid stuff. Oh... and she had a few tequilla shots earlier today... be careful with the pills for her."
"I have experience, don't worry. Why did you let her drink?"
"Hello, I am still here!" - Meg finally raised her eyes, but not to Ryan - to Eliza. "Stop talking as if I was going anywhere..."
"Here she starts again," Eliza sighed, raising her hands in the air. "Woman, are you out of your minds? Of course you are going."
"No, I am not. End of discussion."
Jackie planted two backpacks next to Ryan's car. "Both ready," she announced, big smile on her face.
"She doesn't want to go," Rachel felt the need to keep Jackie updated.
Still not looking at Ryan, Megan exploded: "Fuck off all of you already! What the fuck? It's my life, my body, I know how I feel. I am not sick!"
There were a few seconds of silence, which at the moment - and given the continous chit-chat - seemed to be measured in light years.
"Can you leave us two alone for a few seconds," Ryan asked, hands in his pockets.
"Yeah, as if you could convince her," Eliza mumbled.
"You have no idea," he smiled.
Meg fought to hide her disconfort, yet she was sure the embarassement was written all over her red face. She wasn't sure why, but she just knew this was not good. She caught a glimpse of Ryan's knee as he sat down, crouched, in front of her.
"Megan, look at me," he said.
"What do you want?" She kept staring at her own sneakers, pulling at the long green blades of grass around her feet.
"Look at me," he repeated, and this time it was almost an order.
Why was she unable to say 'no'? His eyes caught hers. She couldn't sustain his look.
"Has there ever been a time when I didn't keep my promises?"
"What the fuck does it have to do with...?"
"Answer my question." He was too patient. It made her feel small, like a child being scolded. "Have I ever broken my promises?"
"No. So what?"
"Then let me promise you this: if I don't see your ass in that car in 3 minutes, you're in deep trouble. Because you've been looking for trouble for some good time now and today you are overdoing it."
"I am not looking for any trouble!" It was the most rebellious cry she gave in half a year.
The heads turned again towards the two of them.
"Yes, you are, and I promise you that you are gonna get it. Badly. And in front of them." He pointed towards the rest of the gang.
She smirked and locked his eyes. "You are not serious. You don't have the guts in front of the manager!"
He raised his eyebrows. "If you want to find out if I have the guts or not, try me. And by the way" - he said checking his watch - "you still have two minutes." He stood up. "I'm putting the baggage in the car. When I am in the car, I want you in there also. Or else."
He stood up, and went to carry out his plan. In less than a minute, her backpack had landed in the trunk of the car, next to his. Oh, how romatic: She will remember to throw up later. Then without even looking at her, he went to sit in the car. Started the engine even.
She waited. Thirty seconds later Ryan opened the door of the car without looking at her. Fuck, was the only thing that crossed her mind. He was not kidding. Without hurrying, and as naturally as she could, she began walking towards the BMW. He stopped to watch her, amused smile on his face.
Slammed doors was something that he hated so she slammed hers as loudly as she dared to.
"You're really needing it, I see... Really really asking for it..."
Pouting, she sank in her seat.
(Engine still purring in the background.)
He stared at her staring stubbornly outside.
"If anyone has ever deserved a good spanking, that would be you."
She didn't answer. He didn't expect an answer anyway, so he went back to the gears and gas padal.
"You'd better not spit that out, Meg!" He watched her grimace as she nibbled on the broccoli.
"I hate it. I hate being forced to eat." The fork landed noisily on the plate. "I want to sleep."
"Not before you eat your food and take your medication."
It was a threat.
She wanted to throw something at him. Possibly the plate. Or the fork.
"I am not hungry. Why can't you leave me alone? I am tired. I am not sick! I don't need medicine."
"Eat your food, Megan. "
He sat next to her on the bed.
She pushed the plate aside, lowering herself under the blanket and pulling the pillow over her head. "No" - her voice came mumbled.
"I am not your Mom or Dad or your boyfriend to try to be nice to you, you know? I don't even give a shit if you get mad at me. If you don't eat your food and take that damn medicine-- Megan, are you listening?-"
"--You'll get a good thrashing. I hope your heard that."
"I am not sick." She lifted the pillow to stare at him with what she hoped to be a convincing look.
"You're a spoilt brat. And it seems that no one has ever spanked you for that."
"Ryaaaan... I want to sleep."
His hand reached for her wrist. She pulled back but there was no escape: he grabbed one, then the other.
"And this time I am not playing or messing around," he added, bringing together her wrists so he could hold them in one grasp. She opened her mouth to bite, then changed her mind, but not fast enough.
"You want to bite?" - he chuckled. "Here. Bite. See if it helps. Because I'm telling you for sure it won't." He stood up, pulling her unwilling body out of bed.
"Let go! Ryan!" Any attempt to free her hands was futile.
The other hand grabbed her nape. "Don't you know you can't run once I get my hands on you?"
"Ryan, I'm sick..."
"Oh, I thought you weren't?" He laughed, but put his force into making her stand up, then forced her to bend over. He freed her hands only to reach for his buckle, while the other hand kept a firm grip of the back of her neck. She tried to stand up only to realize again that yes, it was impossible to escape. And Ryan was not her boyfriend, to kick him in the balls and make a run for it.
"Ryaaan... it hurts..."
"You have no idea how it will hurt! And say thank you you get to keep your Pjs on."
"I'm not thanking you for anything! Hey, my phone is ringing. I need to answer!"
He laughed at her attempt. "You will call back. So, baby sister, is that all you can come up with to get out of this? I thought you were smarter than that!"
She heard the clink of the buckle as the belt was coming out of the loops. It took Ryan a bit of extra effort to fold it with one hand but the mission was accomplished. Meg's hand reached back to grab it. Something clicked in her mind; this was not one of their stupid fighting games - this was real. And Ryan had every intention to make her understand that.
"So," he said tapping the belt against his jeans and keeping his firm grip on her nape, "I reckon this is the first ever spanking in your life. Correct me if I am wrong, but I remember you saying you never got spanked?"
"This is not funny. Stop it."
"I didn't say it would be funny. If there is no one in this world to give you a good spanking when you need one, then I have to volunteer. And unluckily for you, I care for you and I also take my job seriously." He didn't have to count the strokes to know, from previous experience, that by now her butt would be already turning pink, and to also know that the pain was bearable.
He went up a notch: raised his arm higher, brought the belt down harder. She fought back, mostly trying to stand up. The pain had reached her brain. Shouting at him was an effort.
"Ok ok... For fuck's sake! I'll take my medicine."
"When we're done you will, yes," he agreed, not stopping the assault on her behind.
"Fuck, man! Ryan, stop it! Ryaaaan!"
He didn't answer.
"I'm not done yet. And for your info," he added, letting the belt fall hard again," I am far from being done."
She cursed under her breath and grasped at the bedspread. Her fists clenched and her forehead lowered until it rested on the bed. Each stroke made her jump but she stopped fighting back, too preoccupied with the pain. Besides, it was pointless - she was aware of it. The only comforting thought was that there was no one there to witness her downfall; she prayed that Ryan would not tell Jackie.
"Imagine this over your panties, Meg. Or on your bare. I am sure you don't want to feel that. Do you?"
"No," she choked.
"And I am not giving you the fullest, trust me," he went on, raising the belt again and again. "I am only introducing you to a demo, if you like."
"Fuck your demo," she dutifully replied.
"This is not funny!" She tried to stand up. He grabbed her nape again in an instant and brought her head down. The echoes of the belt hitting her clothed behind overlapped.
And here is where the real pain starts, he mused. And he was right: the pain was throbbing all over her button, going down her legs, to her knees.
"Ryan..." - the sound was chocked. It was on the verge of a plea.
He ignored it.
And then there was silence; the kind of silence that hides the cries that do not want to come out.
He went on until he heard a few sobs. He unrolled the belt and began sliding it back into the loops, keeping an eye on her crouched figure.
"So, now you know what a spanking is and what you will get from now when you act the way you did today. Actually, you've been after it since I know you..." He sat next to her."You're ok?"
She nodded but refused to look up. She didn't want anybody to see her crying.
"Ok... Go wash your face and get in bed then. You gotta eat your food and take your pills and then you can sleep for a few hours."
She nodded. Turning her head to the opposite direction, she stood up gingerly. Her palms itched to rub her bottom but she refused to show him that the spanking actually hurt her. In the doorway, she paused for a second, back towards him still:
"You're not going to tell anybody that I got spanked, are you?" She was pleading.
"Why not?" - he teased. "Are you ashamed of it?"
"I bet Jackie can't wait to freak out when she hears this."
"No, I won't tell them. But maybe we should prepare them just in case one day you find yourself over my lap in front of them." He chuckled.
She walked toward the bathroom, hiding her own smile.