Re: Project Children
Chapter Three - Word, Deed and Consequence
Sasha watched as Aisling fixed a plate for Valentina, and did his best to sit still as she set it atop the dining room table and drew near him unexpectedly. She offered a conciliatory smile as she reached behind him, and he shuffled over without complaint so that she could steal a pair of feather pillows from his newfound perch. When she began to line the pillows atop a chair for his sponsor, he thought it might come off as a nice gesture if he stood and helped her. As soon as he looked as if he was about to hop off of his papasan, however, a flat stare from the other three girls forced him back down.
He was studying the floor when Valentina’s fingers brushed his chin without warning, lifting his eyes up to meet her. It was probably a testament to his failure to pay attention that he never saw or heard her approach.
“What happened to you today?” She asked.
He half expected to hear Mercedes answer for him, but the room was silent as Valentina waited for his response. He couldn’t say why, but feeling her tender hands on his face and hearing the softness in her voice just made his shame that much worse. His face flushed almost immediately, but Valentina did not allow him to break eye contact. Her fingers remained firmly tucked beneath his chin, and she studied him despite his embarrassment.
“I asked you a question.” She warned. “Let’s try something else. Were you a good boy while I was gone?”
“I…” He stammered over the words. “No.”
“Why not?” She asked. Her other hand reached up to brush the back of her nails through several thin strands of his stark brown hair, but that just stifled him even further. Her compassion sent a tingling up his spine, and his breathing went a little shallow as she traced her fingertips around the edge of his ear.
“Please, Val…” He stuttered. “Please don’t be angry with me?”
“How many times have I told you not to call me that?” She asked. The tone should have been demanding, but it wasn’t. If anything, her voice was deceptively calm. “Would you call your own mother by her first name?”
“Sorry.” Sasha said flatly.
“No you’re not.” Said Valentina. “I’ve known you for less than six hours, and already I can tell when you’re truly sorry and when you’re trying to placate me.”
“It was just a slip of the tongue.” He said. “It won’t happen again.”
“Tell me, Sasha.” Said Valentina. “At what point do your accidents stop becoming accidents and start becoming bad behavior?”
“What kind of a question is that?” He balked. “I’ve never…well, okay, I spoke up out of turn this morning, but I already have a punishment lined up for that! Are you really that angry about this thing with the chair?”
“It’s not just that.” Said Valentina. “It’s about your attitude. I think you’re trying to behave, but only when it doesn’t involve something inconvenient or embarrassing. Tell me, Sasha, what do I have to do to get you to take this seriously? Do I have to become a mother who strikes her child anytime he does something wrong?”
“I didn’t see the sign, okay?” He cried, perhaps more loudly than he meant.
“No, it’s not okay!” She snapped. “Do you think that excuse would fly with the faculty?”
“But it’s not like I got you in trouble or anything!” He exclaimed. “Why are you making this such a big deal?”
“Are you serious?” She quipped. “Do you not remember our talk about thin-ice, or are you really just not getting it?”
“Oh, come on, Val—!”
She gently traced her finger down his jawline and set it gently over his lips, though she looked as if she had to force down the urge to strike him. He whimpered remorsefully, and she let out a solemn sigh. Sasha felt as if he could actually hear the frustration and sadness welling up in that one breath.
“Unbelievable.” She declared. “That, right there. You don’t think that’s a big deal?”
He opened his mouth to apologize, and she slid her palm over his mouth to stifle his words.
“Enough.” Said Valentina. “Not another word! When I take my hand off of your mouth, you stand up, and you park your ass in that corner. I’ll call for you when I’ve decided how I’m going to handle this.”
He felt absolutely appalled. Did she think he was some kind of child that she could just boss around at her leisure? He was nearly a grown man! He almost opened his mouth to tell her as much, but as soon as his jaw opened, her already stormy expression narrowed into an open challenge, and he shrunk back like a dog.
“Test me.” Said Valentina. “I dare you.”
An uncomfortable silence overtook them as Valentina lifted her hand from his mouth. She didn’t even pay attention to him as he hung his head and started for the corner – she just unbuttoned the top of her blouse and began to roll up her sleeves. He glanced back to see her smiling warmly at Aisling, but he kept walking away before he set her off with his dilly-dallying. He could hear the girls kissing each other’s cheeks as he fixed his eyes on the pink drywall, and his face went red with anger and embarrassment.
“Did you make this?” Valentina asked.
“I tried…” Aisling hedged. “I mean, like, I sort of don’t really cook much.”
“No.” Said Valentina. “That was really sweet of you.”
He couldn’t see Valentina as she picked at her food, but he could hear the scraping of her plastic fork against the styrofoam plate, and a part of him could feel the weight of her eyes on his back. Nevertheless, the girls just went on talking to each other, acting for all the world as if he didn’t exist.
“What’s your name, honey?” Asked Valentina.
“Oh, have I forgotten, then?” Asked Makayla. “How rude of me! Aisling, meet Valentina. Val here’s one of my best mates, isn’t that right?”
“Are you, like, an aunt or something?” Asked Aisling.
“An older cousin, I think?” Said Valentina. “I’d rather we had a casual relationship. Tell you what, why don’t you come and sit with me for a minute?”
“Uh, eh, sure.” Said Aisling. “Let me just get the drinks.”
He listened as Aisling shuffled about, cleaning up everyone’s table like a housemaid. Sasha could hear the girl rummaging through the cabinets and turning on the faucet, but apart from the sound of clattering ice, running water and pouring liquid, nothing eventful occurred. Aisling served the rest of the girls with an enviable degree of efficiency. She never once verbally asked anyone if they wanted anything – she just fetched. He could probably take a lesson from that.
“Do you mind if I get something for Sasha?” Asked Aisling.
“Let him wait, baby.” Said Valentina. “Sasha’s in time-out.”
He clenched his hands into fists at that remark, and his back went ramrod straight, but he never once turned away from the corner.
“Sorry.” Said Aisling.
“Why?” Asked Valentina. “You were just being thoughtful.”
“Mira, she’s such a sweetheart!” Exclaimed Mercy, switching flawlessly from Spanish to English, with only the subtlest hint of a Puerto Rican accent. “Come here and take a seat, girl.”
None of the girls ever brought up the lives they had led prior to their booking date. Even the questions they asked hedged any topic that so much as hinted at a life before this place. Instead, they probed for simpler matters. How long had Aisling been stuck in the transient dormitories? How was she? What sort of music did she listen to? At first it sounded something like an interview, but the answers she provided opened up opportunities for the other girls to share, and just that quick, the interview became an exchange. Not even five minutes had passed before any hint of awkwardness brought upon by his punishment had vanished from their conversation. He might as well have been a part of the furniture.
He should have been happy that no one was actively trying to shame him, but it was just the opposite: listening to the way they treated Aisling made him sick with jealousy.
“Where you going?” Asked Mercedes, in playful a tone that she’d never taken with him. “Relax, girl. I got this.”
From what he could tell, Mercy had pushed her chair out from under the table and decided to wait on Aisling, for a change. The rest of the girls went on talking as the dishes were scrubbed out and loaded into the washing machine, and soon enough a quiet settled over the room. He heard Valentina let out an exasperated sigh, and then the rest of the girls began to speak in hushed tones. The fact that he could mostly hear them made it that much more agonizing.
“I know.” Valentina whispered, replying to something he couldn’t hear. “I hate this part.”
“You want me to take care of it for you?” Mercy asked softly.
“No.” Valentina replied. “I’m his mother.”
“Should I, like, clear out of here or something?” Aisling asked, not quite whispering, but speaking softly enough that the question didn’t seem like a blatant interruption.
“Don’t be silly, dear.” Said Makayla. “You’ve got every right to stay, now haven’t you?”
“I guess.” Said Aisling, looking away.
“You wanna stand outside for us and make sure nobody comes in?” Asked Mercy. Judging from the sound of her voice, she was really asking.
“Who’d listen to me?” Aisling asked, laughing nervously. “I mean, like, I can try…”
“Just tell them the room is in use.” Said Mercy. “Ask if you could get them something, you know what I’m saying? They’ll understand. If not, I’ll deal with it.”
“You don’t have to.” Said Makayla. “If you’d want, you can just kick back and watch the Tele. You’ve earned that much, at least.”
“It’s cool.” Said Aisling, pushing her chair in as she left. “I’d rather go make myself useful, anyway.”
“Hay bandito.” Mercy exclaimed, just after the door shut. “You should be grateful.”
“Sasha.” Said Valentina. “Come here.”
When he turned around, Makayla was loaning one of her arms to Valentina and smiling at Mercy. His sponsor took the proffered hand graciously, but she couldn’t keep from flinching as she straightened herself out. Even with the cushions, she was clearly in a great deal of pain.
Seeing her like that made him feel nauseous. And at that moment, he realized what a mess he was. His heart was beating against his chest in high tempo, and his palms remained slick with sweat no matter how many times he tried to wipe them off on his slacks. His stomach was tight, this throat was dry, and it was all he could do to keep his hands from shaking. He watched the three girls warily as he approached.
Makayla took the pillows from Valentina’s seat and fluffed them, setting them on the tabletop one at a time. Valentina stood beside her, arms crossed just beneath her breasts. He was flush-faced and hot with anger, but he wasn’t quite ready to pitch a fit or start a fight. When Mercedes approached him, he instinctively shrunk away. Surprisingly, her face actually softened up a little.
“Are we done?” He asked, somewhat more acerbically than he initially intended. "Or do you have some other punishment lined up for me?
“You tell us.” Said Mercy. “Did you learn your lesson, or do we need to work on your behavior a little more?”
“Seriously?” He balked. “I’m not a child! So how about you try speaking to me like an adult?”
“How about you try acting like one?” Valentina shot back.
“You know what?” Said Sasha. “I’m sorry that I didn’t address you by your proper title, and I’m sorry I didn’t see the sign in the lobby. There - that’s twice I’ve apologized.”
“Save it.” Said Valentina. “I’m not accepting any apologies from you until I feel like you’ve learned some personal accountability.”
“But they were mistakes!”
“Were they?” She asked. “Can you take them back? Can you do them over again?”
He gave her a flustered glance, as if expecting her to clarify, but his sponsor said nothing. Instead, she began to unbutton her blouse, starting from her lapel and working all the way down her midriff. Sasha’s face went beet red as she untucked her oxford cloth blouse from her pleated skirt and peeled it down from around her shoulders. Her breasts weren’t exactly bare, but the nonchalance with which she exposed her white cotton brassier was unsettling, and he was helpless to admire the curves of her bust as much as he appreciated her flat midriff.
When her hands continued adroitly down to her waistband and began to unbutton the inseam of her pleated skirt, he began to feel perverse. He looked away, but he could still hear her drawing the zipper down across her thigh, and he could still feel her soulful eyes as they bore down upon him. He purposefully studied the floor, unsure of what to do or say as her footing shifted ever so slightly.
“Look at me.” She demanded.
When Sasha looked back up at her, she had pivoted so that her hips were turned against him at an angle, giving him a near-view of her perfect rear, hidden though it was behind the fabric of her skirt. He continued to watch her dumbfoundedly as she slipped that same fabric down her hips, showing him first the red rash that had welted all along the back of her thighs. Once she peeled her matching cotton panties down across her shapely round cheeks, he found himself forgetting all about the lines of her curves. Instead, he was forced to confront the full extent of the headmistress’ switching - a direct result of his actions in Professor White’s homeroom class.
“Does this look fair to you?” She demanded.
Professor White had told her to make sure that she requested that the headmistress switch her bloody, but Sasha had never once imagined that she’d actually oblige the girl. Every inch of flesh along Valentina’s backside had flared up into a bright shade of pink, and many places were closer to cherry red. The rash of welts was not limited in any way to the flesh of her exposed cheeks, either – it was everywhere the skirt might conceal, from the base of her thighs to the edges of her waistline. Some of the welts had even wrapped across her hips.
The welts weren’t the worst of it, though. That was reserved for a series of slender lacerations laced along the bright red rashes; places where the switch had ‘bitten’ her and broken the skin. Individually, the bright red stripes looked exquisitely uncomfortable. Combined, they crisscrossed her backside from top to bottom to form a pattern that looked absolutely excruciating. It was a wonder she wasn’t laying in a bed somewhere begging to die.
“Well?” She pressed.
“…god, no.” Said Sasha, his voice sullen and hurt.
“I don’t want to drag this out anymore.” Said Valentina, flinching as she carefully drew her skirt and panties back up above her hips. “Lay down on the table, Sasha.”
“Whuh—” He stammered, looking up at her with eyes as wide as saucers. “What are you going to do to me?”
“Nothing that my own mother wouldn’t do.” Valentina said soothingly, trying to regain some modicum of presentably. “Certainly nothing that would rival what was done to me.”
Makayla quietly collected Valentina’s blouse and held it open for her, staring at Sasha with an almost-sympathetic expression on her face. Valentina slipped her arms into her sleeves one at a time, keeping an eye on him as he approached the table and doubled himself reluctantly over the edge, desperately trying to still his trembling hands. The pillows set out for him were easy to rest upon – one of them even buffered his hips against the edge – but that was a very small consolation compared to the manner in which he was being punished to begin with.
None of the girls were completely pitiless. Even Mercy, who had thus far treated him like a second-class citizen, tried to make sure he wasn’t in an awkward position. She shifted one of the goose-down pillows beneath his head until it no longer sat askew, and then she held it still, waiting for him to fuss with it until he could find a way to comfortably rest his chin. He didn’t fight her as she guided his wrists beneath the pillow, stretching them gently toward the center of the tabletop. Once she pinned his hands down, however, he found that he could barely move at all.
He wriggled around a little as Valentina wrapped her arms across his hips and gently spread his legs apart, but there wasn’t much room to shift in any direction. He could hear the sound of his heart galloping against his breastbone as Valentina threaded his belt out from underneath him. Mercedes was unyielding, forcing him to stay fixed in place despite the way his feet skidded along the carpet in an effort to find some position that didn’t have him standing on Valentina’s toes.
“Easy.” Said Valentina, drawing her hands back out from around his hips and gently running them across his outer thighs; the gesture was soothing, and it stilled him for a moment. “Just set your feet down.”
Once Valentina began to unbutton his pants, he found it very difficult to keep from squirming again. She worked quickly, though, and it wasn’t too long before his slacks were sitting loosely around his hips. One of Valentina’s hands continued to probe around his pelvis, however, and he whimpered as she slid her fingers invasively down his crotch. She shushed him with a susurrus whisper as her hand interposed itself between his briefs and the front of his slacks; the others couldn’t see it, but she was actually cupping him to make sure nothing got pinched by the zipper while she worked it down his inseam.
“You’ve been a bad boy, Sasha.” Said Valentina, slipping her hands delicately away from his crotch and shimmying his slacks across his outer thighs until they bunched up around his knees. “Do you know what happens to bad boys?”
In that moment, the room was gripped by a perfect silence.
In the next moment, Valentina’s first stroke caused an eruption of pain to blossom along his bottom, and the second stroke gave him absolutely no time to recover. Her hand swung across his backside at an arc, cupping her hand and issuing a resounding smack as it collided against his cheek. She didn’t pause unnecessarily between each stroke, but she didn’t exactly give him time a chance to acclimate to the newfound sensations, either. As soon as he felt his left cheek beginning to grow warm and deaden itself to the sting of the spanking, she struck the opposite cheek and rained hell down upon him anew.
He tried to keep still, but his natural response was to tug at Mercedes’ hands and jerk his hips into the edge of the table. Fortunately, the pillow and the taut nature in which he was spread across the table prevented him from hurting himself. Eventually the pain became so great that he started swiveling left and right. He never managed to get very far. The pillow shifted with his hips, sliding easily atop the table a few inches at a time, and Valentina’s hand thrashed his hindquarters again and again.
Once the he could feel his cheeks began to redden, he struggled vehemently against his own pinioned hands and twisted his hips wildly from side to side while his feet drummed against the floor. No matter how far to the left or right his hips managed to wriggle, however, Valentina’s hand always seemed to find him. His grunting and whimpering continued at a steady whine as the woman’s hands stopped thrashing his bottom just long enough to grip the back of his briefs and peel them unceremoniously down under his thighs, but the brief reprieve came to an end in under three heartbeats.
Valentina’s cupped hand landed unabated against Sasha’s completely exposed bottom, and he yelped as loud as he could. That yelping continued with every successive stroke. Finally his knees began to wobble out from underneath him, and his yelping began to turn into a mewling that climbed progressively in volume. He swung his hips as hard as he could to one side, bucking right, then right, then left, and then left again, but Valentina only smacked him harder for his efforts. When he tried to swivel away from the next blow in a similar fashion, the girls reached out and gently caught him – first with one hand, then with another.
After that, he couldn’t even squirm.
The floodgates opened all at once, beginning with an ululating howl that soon choked apart into a series of loud, shuddering sobs. His entire body was wracked by them, and almost immediately Valentina’s hand began to ease up, though she still came down hard enough to make an impact. He screamed into his pillow as her hand swatted him yet again, and he soon became lost in his tears.
“And. Don’t. You. Ever. Call. Me. Val. Again!”
Valentina’s hand punctuated every word, steadily maintaining her forward momentum and causing his terrible howling to build steadily against the sound of his shuddering sobs. When the last word of admonition left her lips, she rested her hand gently on his freshly spanked rump, and his crying began in earnest. She didn’t quite continue the spanking after that – when her hand came down again, it was very gentle. A few obligatory love-taps came down over the two of his cheeks, but at that moment the very thought of punishment caused him to gush with tears.
He’d never been more ashamed of anything in his life, but there was no stopping his body from shuddering, nor his throat from mewling like a hungry infant. He couldn’t even begin to say how long he continued to lie flat on the tabletop, weeping whole-heartedly into his pillow. Mercedes had held his arms so firmly that when she finally let him go, he feared he might slip off. The way his body had slackened up, it wasn’t entirely out of the question. Fortunately for him, Valentina cared enough that she would never have let that happen.
“Do you want to start being a good boy?” Asked Valentina. “Or am I going to have to do this again?”
He tried to respond, but the only thing that came out was a remorseful, pleading whimper. When he realized he couldn’t reply coherently, he nearly panicked, thinking that she might spank him again right on the spot. He was babbling vehemently when he felt Valentina’s hands settled against his shoulders, and soon thereafter he became aware of her soft brown hair against the nape of his neck. Her hands delicately squeezed his shoulders, working their way down his biceps, forearms and wrists before sliding back up again.
“Shh.” She whispered, placing her chin delicately against the crook of his neck and hushing him with another quiet susurration. “Shh-shh-shh. Okay, baby. It’s okay. No more, I promise.”
He was shaking uncontrollably when Valentina delicately drew his undies back over his rear-end, causing him to gasp in pain. She went on to slide her hands beneath his underarms, gently hauling him off of the table in an effort to hold him against her. He had to admit, it wasn’t exactly his crowning moment. His hands flailed around in a panic, knocking over the pillow in an attempt to grab it and then wildly scrambling to cover his face from the rest of the girls. He felt his feet land on the ground, but they would have crumpled out from beneath him if Valentina hadn’t held him up. She kept her arms wrapped snugly around his tummy, and there was a tenderness to her that he’d never felt before as she nuzzled up against the back of his cheek, raining soft kisses along the line of his neck and lavishing him with maternal affection.
He tried to keep his face buried behind his hands, but there was a more comfortable place for it on Valentina’s shoulder when she turned him against her. Her arms continued to cradle him, running up and down his neck and spine with more fondness than she’d ever shown him before. His body was wracked with shuddering and bawling, and the harder he tried to fight it, the harder it came. He couldn’t recall a moment in his life in which he’d ever been more embarrassed, but as disconcerting as it was, he’d also never been more comfortable then he was in that moment.
“I know.” Said Valentina, rocking them both from left to right and back again. “Let it out. I’ve got you.”
His legs wobbled about and struggled weakly to follow her as she gently inched toward the couch, until finally she wrapped an arm around the backs of his knees and hoisted him easily into the air. The sudden sensation of the world lurching out from under him caused him to groan in protest, but he didn’t have the strength or the inclination to fight her.
“Can one of you put him down for a nap?” She asked.
“I got him.” Said Mercedes, closing in around Valentina and slipping her arms around him. “Let someone take care of you for a change.”
He issued a startled squeal as the taller, more athletic woman slipped her arms beneath the crook of his knees and the nape of his neck, struggling weakly as she pressed him against her breasts. He was still trembling, but his bawling had quieted into a soft sniveling that probably made him a little more manageable. Once again, he was reminded of how frail and weak he was by comparison to the others; Valentina wasn’t even that much taller than him, and she could have set him on her hip. Mercy rocked him in her arms as easily as if she were rocking a baby, heedless of his mewling and whining.
“How much time do we have?” Asked Valentina.
“About thirty minutes.” Replied Makayla. “Do you want to go down for a spell?”
“I still need to go back to my room.” She replied. “We were supposed to unpack.”
“Rubbish.” Said Makayla. “I’ll have it taken care of.”
“Could you bring me back something comfortable to wear?” She asked.
“Only if you let me put something on those welts of yours, love.” Replied Makayla. “Do you have any idea how easy that could get infected?”
“They hit me with some kind of spray.” She volunteered. “It burned like hell…”
His eyes were still blurry with tears as he watched Makayla begin to pull out the frame of a nearby couch, lifting up one of the bars and then heaving it out and downward until it unfolded into a futon. He tried to ask Mercedes to put him down on his feet, but the words came out as a soft, incomprehensible murmur. She fawned over him for a moment, cooing at him as she delicately settled him into the cushions of the papasan chair. His head was nestled against a large, fluffy cushion, and the rest of his body was draped into the bowl in a similar fashion – with pillows lining his back and bottom – not at all unlike the way he imagined she’d place a baby into a bassinet.
He craned his neck to get a look at Valentina, but Mercedes gently adjusted the wooden frame of the papasan until he was no longer sitting remotely upright, but staring straight at the ceiling. When he tried to struggle upright, his body refused to comply. That was when he realized how hopelessly lethargic he had become.
“Could you keep an eye on him for a minute?” Asked Mercedes.
He fussed with the underlying pillows and tried to sit up again, but the moment his tingling backside rubbed up against the frame of the papasan chair – even through the cushions – he winced and gasped. He tried to scrub his tears out of his face, but he was still breathing too sharply and quickly to look composed. An inexplicable fear welled up inside of him as Mercy stepped away from his bedding, and he groaned in frustration at his own helplessness, covering his face in shame. When she came back, it was with a fleece blanket draped over her arm and a damp washcloth in her hand. She dropped the folded fleece into his lap and bent over the chair, gently dabbing the cold cloth over his runny nose, blurry eyes and wet mouth.
“Que lindo.” She said fondly, folding the cloth over itself and wiping his face off. “I like you better this way, you know that?”
“Were you here when I said her biological clock was ticking?” Asked Makayla.
“Shut up.” Said Mercy, folding the rag and setting it down on a nearby coffee table.
He hadn’t any strength to fight her as her hands crept down his blouse and gripped his slacks, but he did cry out in protest. She ignored him, wrestling his pants carefully out from under his thighs and working them down his calves. Before he knew it, his slacks were scrunched all the way around his ankles, and the taller woman was collecting plucking away at his shoelaces. His hands fumbled with the fleece blanket, drawing it over his sex so as to conceal his sudden, inexplicable excitement.
“What’s better about him?” Asked Valentina. “He can’t move, he can’t walk – I don’t even think he can speak coherently!”
Mercy slipped his shoes off of him one at a time, and he relished the feeling of the cold air against his breathing socks. Mercy shuffled the blanket around in his lap, and for a moment he had to close his legs to keep her from seeing the tent he’d begun to pitch in his briefs. She didn’t seem to take any notice as her fingers gripped his pants and slipped them away from his legs one ankle at a time.
“I don’t know.” Said Mercy, returning to the papasan with a fleece blanket. “He’s all quiet and helpless, and he’s just chillin’ there not bothering anybody. It’s adorable.”
“Yeah…” Valentina said playfully. “You should really just get it over with and make a baby.”
“Can’t I just have him?” She japed, collecting the fleece blanket and spreading it out until it draped across the whole chair. “I could put a pamper, give him a binkie; he’ll be good to go. Won’t you?”
“Have fun with that.” Said Valentina. “I have a baby bag in the lobby.”
Sasha groaned, once more attempting to note his protests and, predictably, failing. He could probably have spoken a little more vociferously, but his throat was still tight from all the crying, and like it or not, he was still trying to get the sniveling under control. When the blanket covered his face, he scrambled to try and poke his head out.
Mercy drew the blanket out from over his face, then, but he soon found himself squealing again as she began to tuck the fleece behind his back, under his hips, and around his legs. She couldn’t swaddle him completely, but she managed to wrap enough of the fleece blanket around him that squirming away would be difficult. The material tightened around his arms as he fussed with it, making it nearly impossible for him to move without shifting his weight off of the covers. All the same, it was warm, soft and surprisingly comfortable. When he tried to sit upright, Mercedes laughed delightfully and pushed him back into the pillow.
“Let me stop.” She said, reaching down to rub his belly. “Where do you think you’re going, anyway?”
He felt as if he were so light and airy that a strong wind would blow him away, but he also felt as if he were resting comfortably at the bottom of the ocean. The world around him was slippery and surreal, and decidedly less important. He couldn’t say if it was because of he sudden influx of affectionate teasing or the sudden endorphin rush, but whatever it was, it certainly made life easier.
“Are you guys done in here?” Asked Aisling, slinking back into the sitting room. When she looked toward Valentina and Makayla, her hand covered her mouth. “Holy shit, Val. What did they do to you?”
He couldn’t see what had become of Valentina and Makayla, but he could imagine what was going on. The thought soured his stomach.
“Nothing I won’t survive.” Valentina groaned. “Could we finish this up? I’d rather not have my ass hanging out.”
“I’m almost done.” Said Makayla. “Could you lift yourself up, love?”
“What about him?” Asked Aisling, looking to Valentina. “He looks like he has a fever or something.”
“Would you get us a bottle of water?” Asked Mercy, pulling up a chair and sitting beside him. “I’d do it, but I don’t want to step away from him.”
“Okay.” Said Aisling, slinking into the kitchen and pulling open the refrigerator. There were so many groceries, leftovers and glass pitchers that it actually took her a few moments to retrieve a bottle of Evian. “Why does that worry me? Does he need to see a doctor?”
“It’s just a rule.” Said Makayla, who looked to be fussing over some bandages. “You don’t leave someone alone when they’ve got loads of endorphins buzzing around in their brain.”
“He’ll be fine.” Said Mercy. “He’s just high on life.”
“Technically he’s high on pain.” Said Valentina.
“Right, then.” Said Makayla. “Can we stop freaking the poor girl out?”
Aisling smiled nervously at him, handing the bottle of water to Mercedes with only a hint of reluctance. Mercy took the bottle with a smile as if nothing was wrong, and the younger girl didn’t appear to have any desire to press her luck. He didn’t blame her – she was very clearly the favorite, and if he were her, he’d want to stay that way. Given the way they were all talking about him, he knew he should have been completely uncomfortable – or at least remotely concerned. Instead, he was just thirsty.
“You just spanked him though, right?” Asked Aisling, desperately trying to mask her discomfort at the sudden shift in the energy of the room. If it was glaringly obvious to Sasha, the others were sure to see it, too. “Nothing outrageous?”
“No, nothing bad.” Replied Mercy, reaching into the papasan to stroke his hair. “She did a number on him, for real, but nothing like what they did to her.”
“What can I say?” Asked Valentina, snuggling up against her pillow and stifling a moan. “I have a knack for making people cry.”