Ethanâ€™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 Lilyâ€™s head.
She lifted her gaze, eyeing all three with obvious suspicion.
â€œSo, my naughty wife prefers the paddle, does she?â€ 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 furtherâ€”an objective they both wanted him to achieve.
â€œDoes that mean I should use it first or last?â€
Lilyâ€™s wide eyes met his gaze. â€œSir?â€
He didnâ€™t have to look into her thoughts to see the panic swelling in her now, Lilyâ€™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 Lilyâ€™s gaze still made him hard. But then Ethan guessed some things would never change.
â€œNever mind,â€ he told her with a smile. â€œI have decided to be kind and save the best until last for you.â€
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 heâ€™d last caned Lily, but based on the huffing and puffing that was coming from her, she hadnâ€™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.
â€œBut youâ€™re not going to run, are you, Lily?â€
She pressed her palms down in front of her, as though she needed to ground herself. â€œNo, sir,â€ she promised. â€œBut please. I hate that thing.â€
Ethan lowered the cane and moved toward her. â€œHate is a strong word, little one,â€ he replied in a soft voice. â€œYou may not like it, but do you deserve it?â€
Lily screwed her face up. â€œMaybe, sir, butâ€”â€
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.
â€œThere will be no excuses, Lily.â€ Ethanâ€™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. â€œYou will kneel there and take your punishment like a good girl. Got it?â€
Lily lifted her head, blinking away tears as she answered. â€œYes, sir. Iâ€™ve got it.â€
Ethan nodded. â€œGood. Six strokes of the cane then?â€
He presented it as a question, though he didnâ€™t know why. Lilyâ€™s fate was already sealed.
â€œSix more, sir?â€ she whined.
â€œAbsolutely, six more,â€ he repeated. â€œThat first one was just a warning about what happens when we donâ€™t accept our punishment.â€
She pressed her face back into the covers at that and Ethan smiled. It was such an ironic sentiment coming from a man like himâ€”a man who had successfully dodged his punishment for decades. Inching forward he raised the cane over her vulnerable backside.
â€œYouâ€™re going to thank me for each strike, Mrs. Reilly,â€ he told her. â€œAnd then, once weâ€™re finished with the cane, you can tell me what youâ€™re being punished for.â€
Lily sniffed, twisting her head at the news. â€œYes, sir,â€ she mewled.
Ethan swatted her with the cane again, and this time he did it with real force. He watched with satisfaction as Lilyâ€™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. â€œThank you, sir,â€ she managed, although Ethan could tell it was killing her to have to say the words.
â€œYouâ€™re welcome,â€ he replied happily. â€œThat was one.â€
He landed the next strike a little lower than the first and this time she squealed.
Damn it, Ethan! That hurts so much!
â€œGood,â€ he told her sternly. â€œI want it to bloody hurt, Lily. I want you to remember why it hurts every time you try and sit down.â€
She inhaled at that, the defiance radiating from her body. â€œThank you, sir.â€
That was said between gritted teeth, but still, she had said it. Thatâ€™s what counted. Ethan could work on getting her to mean it as they went.
â€œThatâ€™s two, Lily. Brace yourself.â€
Lilyâ€™s cheeks tensed at his command and Ethan wanted to chuckle.
â€œNot like that,â€ he chided, tapping her cheeks with the end of the cane. â€œRelax those cheeks and just be ready.â€
She panted again, and in Lilyâ€™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.
â€œOw, ow, ow!â€ she yelped, reaching around to claw at the punished area.
â€œGet those hands away,â€ he barked. â€œYou know better than that, Lily!â€
He ensured he locked gazes with her and Lily bit her lip in shame as she withdrew her palms. â€œIâ€™m sorry, sir,â€ she whimpered. â€œBut itâ€™s too much.â€
No, itâ€™s not, his thoughts told her. Itâ€™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.
â€œBetter,â€ he praised. â€œNow, thank me and then you can tell me how many strikes you have left.â€
Lily shifted her head miserably. â€œThank you, sir,â€ she mumbled. â€œThere are three to go.â€
Though God knows how Iâ€™ll get through them.
â€œYouâ€™ll get through them,â€ Ethan said with a smile. â€œYouâ€™ll get through all of it, and do you know why, little girl?â€
Lilyâ€™s gaze had the temerity to narrow at that. â€œBecause I deserve it, sir.â€
â€œRight,â€ he replied. â€œNow spread those legs and get ready. The last three are coming hard and fast.â€