New to Quest Five?
The stories are best enjoyed when read in order beginning with May 1, 2009.

Welcome To Quest Five
Allison Beaumont is having trouble finding a job after college until one day the wealthy and powerful Joseph Candle offers her a job at his rather unusual corporation, where mistakes can lead to bare bottomed spankings. Adopting the alias of Virginia West, she joins four highly skilled colleagues, racing around the globe in search of mysterious treasures, but wherever she goes, trouble is sure to follow.
Note: Some stories contain scenes of a sexual nature, corporal punishment, non-consensual corporal punishment, and strong language which some reader's may find offensive. If you feel this material might be inappropriate for you please move on to another blog by clicking the next blog link at the top of the page.

May 28, 2009

Great Expectations: A New Me

The limousine arrived on schedule, Sunday morning. I was waiting in the driveway with my single piece of luggage, trying not to shiver in the cold morning air. The driver placed my case in the trunk and then opened the door to the back. For just a moment I was able to pretend I was someone important going off on some leisurely trip. The illusion was only slightly shattered by my well meaning parents, waving goodbye from inside the house. I smiled and waved, ever the dutiful daughter.

I sat down and the driver closed the door with a soft clunk. My hands went immediately in search of a seatbelt, old habits die hard I guess. The leather was cold against the bare skin of my legs and I wondered for the twelfth time that morning, if it was a mistake to wear shorts and a t-shirt. It was only then I realized I was not alone.

“Good morning, Miss Beaumont.” Mr. Candle said.

He wore an amused smile and a black suit. I could feel his eyes drinking in my own less than professional appearance and I mentally cringed at the thought. There was no room for my insecurities and so I pushed them aside and pretended not to care. I smiled back at him with only the lightest touches of a blush on my cheeks.

“Good morning, sir.” I replied. “I wasn’t expecting you to be here.”

“I had thought to delegate the responsibility but then I thought you might not be as receptive if someone else did the job.” He said.

“Are we playing twenty questions or were you going to get to the point?”

The words were out of my mouth before I even realized I had said them aloud. My heart thudded in my chest as I struggled to decide whether to be embarrassed or simply act as bold as my words sounded. I settled on somewhere in the middle.

“I’m going to guess you are not a morning person.” He said.

“Whatever makes you think that?”

He chuckled.

“My apologies, I was expecting to be alone.” I said.

“Quite alright Miss Beaumont. We have matters to discuss though and I’m afraid they cannot wait for your mood to improve.”

Maybe it was the constancy of his gaze or perhaps it was the bluntness of his words, but he made me feel like a bratty little girl and a professional woman all in the same breath. I could feel the heat of shameful blood rushing to color my cheeks. Unable to meet his eyes I focused on my fidgeting hands laying useless in my lap.

“I’ll need your undivided attention. These matters are far beyond important.” He said.

He remained silent and I realized he was waiting for me to respond with more than a look and a nod. I took a breath and forced the embarrassment to subside.

“You have it, sir. Please continue.” I said.

“As you will recall, we discussed the need for secrecy and discretion in revealing your involvement with Q5.”

“Yes sir.”

“The training course I am sending you to is a necessary tool in preparing you for your work, but it is inconsistent with your cover position as an administrative assistant.”

“Might we have a moment to discuss that cover?” I asked.

Mr. Candle paused mid-breath, mid-explanation and his appearance made it obvious he was not used to being interrupted. In fact, I was quite certain he was on the verge of becoming annoyed with me. I regretted his reaction but for my mom, it was a subject I could not ignore and an opportunity not to be passed up.

“Is it important or can it wait until you get back?” Mr. Candle asked.

“It can wait, but it is important.” I said.

“Very well. What is it you wish to discuss?”

“There must be an alternative position we can use for my cover.” I said.

“I fail to see the importance. It is a title and pay scale appropriate for a new entry into my company. Your actual duties are in no way tied to your cover.”

“This is not about me. I need this to be altered for my mother. Obviously doing so now would be a problem but in a couple of months I would very much appreciate a change.”

“Forgive me for being dense, but I really don’t see how a fake title effects your mother?”

“It’s the whole being a secretary thing. I don’t really expect you to understand but bottom line my mother would rather see me unemployed than working as a secretary.”

“But you are not a secretary. Your title isn’t even secretary.”

“Secretary, administrative assistant, there isn’t any difference.” I said.

“There is a world of difference Miss Beaumont.”

“Not for my mom and she’s the one that matters in this discussion.”

I’m not sure if it was frustration or bewilderment in Mr. Candle’s eyes, but the way his muscles were tensed in his hands I was betting on frustration. My argument sounded silly even to myself and I wished I had taken more time to plan out what I wanted to say to him. Still, the crux would be the same no matter how I said it.
“Fine. I will see what I can come up with while you are gone.” Mr. Candle said.

“Thank you.”

“Now if we might get back to the matters at hand?”

“Yes, of course.”

“There are precautions we must take in order to secure your anonymity as part of the Q5 team. Obviously, Allison Beaumont will not be attending a training program such as the one you are being sent to.”

“But I am.”

“Yes, however it is not in keeping with your cover and in order to preserve your cover as long as possible, it will be necessary to participate in a charade.”

“I don’t think I understand.”

“I have arranged for records to indicate Allison Beaumont’s attendance at a training class in administrative duties for the week. However, you will not be there except in name. It would not do for you to be in two places at once so for the training program you are attending you will assume a different identity.”

“You want me to be someone else?”

“I want you to be you only with a different name.”

“I’m not sure I can do that.”

“I have all the documents here. All you need to do is learn to introduce yourself and respond to your new name. For simplicity, this identification will serve as your identity whenever you are on assignment with Q5.”

“I don’t really have any say in this, do I?”

“You can refuse, but you need to understand there is a risk involved if certain other people learn who you are.”

“I told you before, I am not comfortable with lying.”

“I understand. This however is not lying, the identification I have arranged is all you, it is only your name which has been altered. I am trying to protect both you and your family.”

“Fake id’s are illegal. If I get caught with them at the airport or something, I’ll be in a lot of trouble and don’t think for a second I won’t point the finger right at you.”

“These aren’t fake. These are official documents, authorized and produced by the government. Think of it as an official alias, it isn’t your name, but it might as well be for all anyone will ever know or care.”

“Other than me.”

“It is your choice Miss Beaumont, but I urge you not to make a rash and emotional decision.”

“I don’t like this.”

“I didn’t expect you would. That is why I chose to tell you myself.”

“Okay. Who am I?”

“Allison Beaumont.”

“Very funny.” I said.

I wasn’t laughing. Mr. Candle wasn’t either but his eyes were lit with amusement again. The man seemed incapable of a bad mood or taking anything too seriously. I’m sure he thought I needed a chill pill or something equivalent to one.

He handed me a manila envelope. Carefully, I undid the clasp and poured the contents into my hands. The drivers license caught my attention first. It was standard California issue and even had the same picture that was on my real license. The name and address however, were utterly foreign.

“Virginia West?” I said.

“I thought it had a nice sound to it.” Mr. Candle said.

“For an eighty year old grandmother, maybe.”

“Virginia is a very popular first name and West is actually more common than Smith or Jones.”

“In what century?”

“It can be altered if necessary but not in time for this trip.”

“It’s fine. I’ll have to do something with it, but I’ll deal.”


I looked through the rest of the things while we continued in a somewhat awkward silence. They included a birth certificate, social security card, a passport, a health insurance card, a library card, a AAA card, two credit cards, a bank atm card with pin number, an iPhone and a key ring with a car key and what appeared to be a house key.

“This seems like an awful lot of trouble for a fake name.” I said.

“It’s a bit more than a fake name. This is an alternate identity and in order for it to pass more than a cursory examination it has to be reasonably complete.”

I held up the keys between us.

“I hope you aren’t expecting me to take on a mortgage and car payments to keep this up. You aren’t paying me enough to live two lives.” I said.

“No of course not. The company will pay all the bills through a special account set up in the name of Virginia West. You should view the credit cards and bank account as an expense account and everything else as perks which you may enjoy when the opportunity presents itself.”


“Are you on board with this?”

I stared at Mr. Candle for a moment wondering what he would say if I said no. It wasn’t like I had a real choice in the matter. Mr. Candle had made it clear enough; do as he wanted or risk someone getting hurt. Somewhere in the back of my head a voice of sanity was screaming for attention, but it was well passed the time to walk away. Wishing I wasn’t being forced to make the decision while on the road to the airport, I nodded my head in agreement.

“I realize you have reservations at the moment but I think in time you will come to agree this is all for the best. I have an alternate bag packed for you in the trunk with items appropriate for the training camp you are attending. I’ve been assured everything is in your size.” He said.

He handed me a small purse.

“Virginia West’s?” I asked.

He nodded.

I opened it up to find it void of anything more than a wallet, hairbrush, and sunblock. The wallet had two hundred dollars cash in it and plenty of room for my new identification and cards. The hairbrush was not exactly my style, oval-shaped cherry wood with a flat back, but I imagined it was Mr. Candle’s sense of humor shining through. Looking at the sunblock it occurred to me I would probably be spending a bit more time outdoors than I’m usually do. I put everything in the purse and closed it up just as the limo came to a stop at the airport.

“I guess this is where I get out.” I said.

I stepped out onto the curb and the driver brought me a bag on wheels which looked nothing like the one I had brought with me. I shook my head wondering just how I was going to pull this whole thing off. I’m not a spy and I’ve never been any good at deception. I looked inside the car to Mr. Candle who clearly had more confidence in me than I did.

“Good luck, Miss West.” He said.

I smiled and made up my mind. Whatever journey I was about to embark upon, it was clear to me it was a step toward a future brighter than I could ever have imagined. I was afraid, but I was also ready. It was time to look toward the future. I glanced at Mr. Candle one more time before heading off.

“Call me V.” I said.

May 25, 2009

Great Expectations: Apparel Perceptions

Cherise and I climbed into the limo at exactly 10 AM. Mom and dad saw us off and judging by the looks on their faces they still weren’t buying my explanations. Other than saying it was a perk of my position I hadn’t give much of one anyway, but even I have to admit it was fairly lame. If Mr. Candle expects people to buy my cover position he’ll have to keep some things in mind in the future such as administrative assistants don’t get the company limo at their disposal for something as simple as a shopping trip into the city. Cherise did a good job of playing along as we left but we weren’t even off the block before she turned on me.

“Start spilling girl.” She demanded.

“What?” I asked.

Feigning ignorance can often help to minimize spillage.

“What?” She mimicked. “Well for starters, since when do you even interview at a place like QI?”

I sighed.

“Oh I don’t know maybe since I’ve spent a year being turned down for every other available position in the state.” I replied.

Cherise laughed.

“So what you are really saying is you went for the interview because your dad started following through on his threat to whoop your butt for not having a job.” She said.

“I said no such thing. It was just time I stopped limiting my options for childish reasons.” I replied.

“Right. I’m not saying it’s bad thing but I never thought I’d see a day with you working at a place like QI not to mention actually working at QI.”

“Things change Cheri.”

“Yeah that they do.”

“So, administrative assistant eh?”

“Better than unemployed.”

Cherise looked around the limo with a silly grin on her face, nodding.

“I’ll say.” She said.

“It’s not like I’m going to be sitting outside some low level manager’s office dreaming of the day I might get a chance to work for his boss.”

“Maybe, but it’s not like you are going to be happy sitting outside anybody’s office. Hell you and I both know you’re probably smarter than anyone else working for that godforsaken company.”

“Time will tell. I don’t think it’s all that bad though.”

“Ally, they’re sending you away for a week to learn how to be a good secretary. It doesn’t get much worse than that.”

“Okay, okay. It sucks but it’s my life. Are you happy now?”

“Yeah. Look on the bright side, our lives can suck together. I’m so sick of answering phones and being promised just one more month and they’ll move me up and then a month later the story starts all over again. Well, if I had someplace else to go I’d be there, but with the economy spiraling down like it has been I’m just thankful to have a job at the end of the day. So, yeah I know why you did it and I know what you are really thinking about the job, but I’m proud of you for sucking it up.”

I couldn’t help smiling at her even if she did have it all wrong.

“Thanks, Cheri.” I said.

“What else are friends for?” She asked.

“Smilin’, cyrin’, and lyin’.” I replied.

We both relaxed a bit after that. Cherise found the champagne and poured us each a half glass. No point in getting too plastered to figure out what looked naughty and what looked nice when we got to the store. I was about halfway through the glass when I realized there wasn’t going to be any naughty or nice clothing, just boring corporate attire to get fitted and pick disturbingly uniform colors. I refilled all the way to the top.

The company outfitter was a quaint store located upstairs from a wedding boutique and next door to a busy Cuban restaurant. The smell of caramelized bananas wafted through the air as Cherise and I climbed the steps. I decided we’d be stopping for lunch before we left.

A small bell on the door gave a little jingle when we walked inside the shop. Looking around, there were a few racks of professional wear, mostly for women but a small section to the left side at the front was dedicated to men. Fitting rooms were toward the back of the racks on the right side with louvered doors painted in a high gloss white. A curved counter extended from the right wall to the back of the shopping area and ending against a mirrored wall. From the looks of it there was a large area behind the counter and extending back behind the mirrored wall as well. I guessed it was probably a tailoring area and perhaps additional inventory storage.

A young woman, certainly no older than 18, stood on the customer side of the counter talking quietly into her cell phone. She gave us a quick glance when we entered and then returned her full attention to her call. Behind the counter an older woman walked up and smiled at us. She motioned for us to walk up. Cherise had already caught sight of something she liked and was off to investigate so I stepped up alone.

“Good morning. You must be Miss Beaumont.” The older woman said.

“Good morning. Yes, I am.” I replied.

Cherise caught my eye with a bemused look at my sudden notoriety. I’m getting used to everyone knowing me before I get there, but the constant formality is taking a bit more time. Previously the only time anyone has called me Miss Beaumont was at school and it almost always indicated I was in deep trouble or something like it. I’ll get used to it in time and until then, I’ll just tense up a little now and then.

The woman behind the counter snapped her fingers in front of the one on the phone and gave her a quick, stern look. The phone was instantly closed and handed over without argument and then the young woman turned and smiled at me as if nothing had occurred.

“Shall we start by fitting you for a jacket and skirt?” She asked.

“Lead the way.” I replied.

She led me to one of the fitting rooms and then returned to me a moment later with a charcoal gray skirt and jacket accompanying a white blouse. I took the garments inside with me and quickly changed into them. The skirt was a little large at the waist and the jacket was a little tight in the bust line. I was nonetheless impressed at how well the young woman had sized me up with nothing more than a look. I stepped back out into the main store and appraised myself in the mirror at the back.

“Are you sure you don’t want to go with slacks?” Cherise asked.

In the mirror I could see the two shop women glance at each other with amusement. I tried not to laugh at my friend and I guess it was a legitimate question. Given the choice between a skirt or slacks, I’d probably have gone with the skirt anyway, it’s just more my style, but the company dress code didn’t give the choice. Cherise was probably teasing although her serious expression didn’t give it away.

“What’s wrong with my legs?” I asked.

“Do you really want me to answer that?” Cherise asked.

“Not if you want a ride home.” I replied.

Cherise ran her fingers over her mouth as if closing a zipper. I nodded at her with a short laugh.

“Smart girl.” I said.

The young woman went to work marking the skirt and jacket for adjustments and humming to herself while I stood like a doll on the small platform directly in front of the mirrored wall. Cherise busied herself looking through a catalog she found on the counter and quietly chatting with the woman behind it. She was probably bored out of her mind with the limited selection of things to look at, but there would be plenty of time for fun shopping when the business stuff was done.

“Did you want to take one or two outfits with you today?” The young woman asked.

“I think two would be best if it’s not any trouble.” I replied.

“It won’t be any trouble. We can have the clothes altered for you in about an hour.” She replied.

“Perfect. I noticed the restaurant downstairs, we can go and have lunch while its being done.” I said.

She smiled and nodded.

“Are there any options from the gray?” I asked.

“Oh, yes. You can get black or navy as well.” She replied.

“I’d prefer one of each of those and skip the gray if it’s possible.”

“Certainly Miss. Did you not want any gray at all?”

“How about just one gray and two black and two navy for the total order?”

“That would be fine although I think your company order was for seven outfits.”

“Oh, I see. Well then make it three black and three navy.”

“You should get two of the gray. It looks good on you.” Cherise said.

“Really?” I asked.

I studied myself in the mirror. The gray didn’t look bad with my dark hair or light complexion but it felt drab. On the other hand I definitely looked professional and confident, two things very important to my reputation. Maybe a softly colored blouse would make it feel warmer to me, I thought as I turned to examine myself from different views in the mirror.

“Really. Besides, black always makes you look too pale. You should stick to the navy and gray.” Cherise said.

It was quite obvious the two women agreed, although neither was saying anything. I considered it for a moment and then surrendered to it. I brought Cherise along for her advice so it would be pretty dumb to ignore it.

“Alright,” I said. “Let’s make it three gray, three navy, and one black.”

“Certainly Miss. What colors did you want to take with you?”

“A gray and a navy.” I decided.

“Very good. If you want to change back into your things, I’ll get the alterations started and then you can pick out some blouses from the racks over there.”

I looked at the racks she indicated and nodded. Taking a deep breath, I stepped down from the raised platform and returned to the dressing room. It didn’t take me long to get back into my weekend wear and then Cherise and I were sorting through the blouses. There were a small variety of colors, mostly pastels except for a deep red and a medium blue, both of which I immediately settled on. I went with the jeweled necklines instead of the v-necks and straight collars on Cherise’s suggestion. I tried on a couple and had to admit they did look better, especially beneath the blazers.

It was a rather smooth and quick process when all was said and done. Cherise and I had lunch on the patio at the Cuban restaurant and by the time we were finished eating, my two suits were ready to go. We hit the mall afterward and Cherise left with a dozen bags from a dozen stores while I somehow managed to restrain myself and get nothing. Mom and dad should be impressed, I know I am.

On the way back, Cherise turned the conversation back to my new job again to ask the one question that was probably on her mind since I told her I was going to be working for QI. I had hoped she wouldn’t bring it up, but I knew it would come sooner or later.

“So is it true?” She asked.

“What?” I replied.

I knew what she meant but playing dumb meant I didn’t have to answer straight away.

“You know what.” She stated. “Do they really spank their employees?”

“Yes.” I said.


“And what?”

“You can’t just say yes and leave it at that.”

“I just did.”

Cherise shook her head at me. I knew what she wanted, but I wasn’t ready to share that experience quite yet. Truthfully I was still wrapping my head around the whole experience and the fact I had willingly agreed to submit myself to it. I think if I told her, she’d make it impossible for me to continue with the pretense it wouldn’t happen again and I wasn’t ready to accept the future inevitably quite yet.

May 22, 2009

Great Expectations: Living The Lie

Dinner was ready by the time I arrived home and if my guess is right, mom had held it a few minutes waiting for me. I quickly washed up and seated myself at the table. On the drive home I calmed myself down and decided it would be most believable if I weren’t appearing too overjoyed with my new job. After all, a measly salary as a glorified secretary wasn’t going to impress anyone.

“Well? How did your interview go?” Mom asked.

I stared at my plate for a moment before answering. I suddenly felt less than hungry at the prospect of telling my parents a disappointing lie. For a single moment I considered telling them the whole story, unbelievable as it might sound, and then I realized that the lie was easier to believe.

“I took the job.” I announced.

“But it’s not what you want.” Dad said.

Mom’s bright smile at the news was quickly masked when Dad spoke. Clearly, they had different opinions on the subject.

“No, but it’s a place to start right?” I said.

“Yes, I suppose it is. Maybe it will even grow on you after a few weeks.” Dad said.

“It might. It’s not what I was hoping for but with the economic times like they are and my rather limited use degree I don’t have a lot of options. It pretty much comes down to take what I can get or do nothing at all and I think we all would agree, nothing is not acceptable.” I said.

“That’s a very mature attitude Allison. I’m proud of you.” Mom said.

Dad gave her a look that even I could read as not good, but mom shrugged it off and kept eating.

“So, I’ll be going away next week for a training class and when I get back I’ll be starting.” I said.

“We send you to college for five years and they think you need a training class before you can start working?” Dad asked.

It may have been a rhetorical question but dad’s incredulous expression made me feel like I had to say something.

“I didn’t go to college to become an administrative assistant so it might be a good thing otherwise I might not know what to do.” I said.

“Administrative assistant?” Mom said. “Do you even need a college degree to be a secretary?”

“It’s not like that mom. I’ll be working with one of the vice-presidents on some very important projects. I’ll even get to travel on a company expense account.” I said.

“If it’s such a great position, how much are they paying you?” Mom demanded.

I picked at the food on my plate no longer interested in it in the slightest.

“That’s not any of our business nor our concern.” Dad said.

There was an angry, stern sound to his voice which I knew all too well. Only a few times have I heard it directed at mom, but even with her, dad has limits. For myself, I felt the sting of mom’s words like a lash across my soul. I stood up from the table unable to continue the pretense of eating.

“I know it’s a pathetic job, but at least allow me the luxury of pretending it’s something important and worth doing. I failed you. I get it mom, but you know what? I failed myself too.” I said.

I threw my napkin down on the table and stormed up the stairs fighting back tears that leaked out anyway. My bedroom door slammed shut and I flung myself down on my bed thoroughly ashamed. For the moment I believed it all myself and that was worse than anything. Maybe Mr. Candle was offering me something great but the paycheck and title are all I really have to offer and those things don’t come with respect, even self-respect. I was angry but not at mom or dad because at the end of the day I only have the face in the mirror to blame for anything.

Not surprisingly, there was a soft knock on my door a few minutes later. I grabbed a tissue to wipe away the tears on my cheeks, but mom didn’t wait. She opened the door and closed it behind, coming to sit down on my bed next to me. Her arm wrapped around my shoulders and she hugged me to her. I feigned a smile.

“You know your grandmother was a secretary for 34 years.” Mom said.

I pulled away from her for a moment to look her in the eye.

“I didn’t know that.” I said.

“It’s true. It was a horrible job and she hated it, but she kept going there day after day because she had me and my two sisters depending on her and just like you, she always pushed herself to do the right thing no matter how hard it was. That said, she was determined that none of us would ever have to work in that same kind of job. What you just told us about this job, made me think of her and maybe I overreacted, but you need to understand, I swore to her I’d never be anybody’s secretary and in my heart that promise extended to you as well. If you think you have to do this, I can understand that because you’ve got a lot of her in you and she always did what she thought was right no matter what anyone else thought. But, I can’t helping feeling by pushing you down this road I’ve broken my promise to her and that’s why I said what I did before. I’m sorry.”

She reached out and ran her fingers through my hair. There were tears in her eyes and suddenly I felt a hundred times worse. We cried together and hugged together and I decided right then that whatever happens at Quondam, the title affixed to my name would have to change or I would have to leave. Maybe not right away, but for my mom it couldn’t be soon enough.

“I’m sorry mom.” I said.

“Me too. I know you are trying and I shouldn’t be putting pressure on you when you haven’t had a real choice.”

“It’s okay. I understand and I swear, I’ll either move up the ladder or move on to something better. It won’t be forever.” I said.

“You are many things Allison, but you are not a failure. Not now, not ever.”

I might have hugged mom tighter or maybe said something I don’t say anywhere near enough, except dad picked that moment to knock on my door. Mom and I looked at it with equal annoyance and then she gave me an ironic smile and shrug.

“Yes?” I called.

The door swung open to reveal dad, as though that was a surprise, standing there holding the phone.

“It’s a Cathy from Quondam Innovations for you.” Dad said.

There was no doubt he was talking to me although I felt a little confused considering the late hour. I quickly grabbed a tissue and dabbed away the remainder of my tears. Dad handed me the phone and then he and mom left, giving me a little privacy even though they were undoubtedly as curious about the call as I was.

“Hello.” I said.

“Miss Beaumont, I’m sorry to call so late, but it took me some time to make all the arrangements Mr. Candle requested.” Cathy said.

“It’s alright. Is everything set?” I replied.

“Yes. I have your flight all set for Sunday at 6:30 AM and the company limo will pick you up at 5. You will be back on Saturday morning at 10 AM and again the company limo will take you home.”

“That sounds good. Was there anything else?”

“Also, I scheduled an appointment for you at the company outfitters. You’ll need to get outfits for 5 to 7 days. They’ll have all the information on acceptable styles and colors and the bill will be sent directly here, you’ll just need to sign the order. Oh and make sure you leave with at least one outfit because you’ll need that for next Monday when you come into the office. The rest can be sent here next week and you can take them home when you get back.”

“That all sounds great, Cathy. Where is this place located?” I asked.

“I’ll have the limo at your disposal for tomorrow and they have the address. Your appointment is at 11 AM. I hope that is alright.”

“Yes, of course that is fine. Is it alright if I have a guest in the limo with me?”

“Of course Miss. The limo is completely at your disposal until 6 tomorrow.”

“Great. Thank you Cathy.”

“You’re welcome Miss. Have a pleasant weekend.”

I hung up the phone decided to call my best friend Cherise and see if she wanted to joyride in the limo with me. I knew she wouldn’t mind the shopping either, even if it was boring corporate attire.

“Shopping? Tomorrow in a limo? No shit?” Cherise rattled off into the phone.

“No shit.” I confirmed.

“Count me in.”

“Be here by 10 or I’ll leave you forever.”


“You betcha.”

We hung up and I went to bed with dreams of luxurious shopping on a company credit card. Too bad reality won’t be as good but I can have my fantasies at least until dawn. I still felt bad about Mom as I closed my eyes and I was determined to make things right by her. It will probably take some cajoling but if Mr. Candle wants me as bad as he says he does then he can come through for me on something as insignificant as a title.

May 19, 2009

Great Expectations: Glowing Success

I bit my lip considering my options. Go home empty handed for the umpteenth time after being offered an otherwise fantastic opportunity or bend over for a spanking by a woman I barely know from Adam. Then again, the reality is unless I manage to get another job offer in less than a week, I’ll be bending over for another spanking from Dad anyway. Decisions, decisions.

“If I have to go through it, I think I’ll survive but it does feel a bit silly when I haven’t even done anything.”

“I’m sure you can think of something you should have been spanked for and yet have not been.”

“Probably.” I admitted.

Does it matter I was perfectly content to have gotten away with it though? By the look on Mr. Candle’s face I guessed not. I resigned myself to the inevitable and just hoped it wouldn’t be any worse than I get at home.

“Alright. Let’s get this over with. What do I do?” I asked.

Not that I needed instructions on how to bend over for a spanking.

“I’ll make a call down to Mrs. Anderson and you can meet her in the 3rd floor conference room.” Mr. Candle said.

“Now?” I asked.

“Unless there was something more you wanted to discuss before finalizing your paperwork.”

“No, I think we’ve covered everything.”

“On your way then and I’ll have the final papers ready for you to sign when you are finished.” Mr. Candle said.

I nodded and pushed myself up out of the chair. My legs felt a little wobbly as I walked o the elevator and I felt certain Mr. Candle was staring at my bottom as I walked. Probably just my imagination but then again he is still a man.

Mrs. Anderson was standing in the conference room holding that same blue leather paddle I had seen only a week before. She had a rather self-satisfied expression in her eyes but she wisely kept her thoughts to herself. I nodded a curt greeting and closed the door behind me. The enclosed room gave the feeling of privacy even though the walls were clear and anyone walking by could clearly see inside.

“Let’s get this over with if you don’t mind.” I said.

“Of course. Please remove your skirt and place it on the table in front of you.” Mrs. Anderson instructed.

I managed to do so and remain dignified at the same time. I told myself that was the case at least and it sounded good to me. The fact it was my choice made it easier to do and I surprised myself in that my hands were not trembling. Now if only the Texas-size pretzel in my stomach would go away.

“Step to the edge of the table here and bend over it so your stomach is flat on the table. You may want to hold onto the edges of the table for support.” Mrs. Anderson said.

I am certain she was getting off on the power trip. I bit my tongue and did as she instructed though. It is best not to antagonize the one holding the paddle and especially so when they’re taking aim at your backside.

“I’m going to give you six swats. You do not need to count them. They will be hard and you should brace yourself for them. If you try to move out of the way or otherwise block a swat it will be repeated and the same applies if you raise up from the table. Are you ready?” Mrs. Anderson said.

“As I’ll ever be.” I replied.

The first swat landed flat across the center of my panties with an almost quiet clap. Instantly my butt began to tingle and sting, but I stayed in place and kept quiet. I stared at the marble and forced myself to focus on the coolness of it pressing against my blouse. The second swat came just when I thought the stinging from the first was beginning to subside. The sting built up all over again only stronger than before. It was probably all the worse for the fact my bottom hadn’t yet completely recovered from being paddled the previous night.

Once again she waited until the pain started to subside and then the third swat came swishing through the air. I raised up on my tiptoes with it for just a moment and then settled back down. Mrs. Anderson would make an excellent tennis player. Her aim was near perfect and the impact sent waves of wobbling force all through my body.

Only three more to go I told myself. The fourth was delivered lower than the other three with part of the paddle actually touching bare skin. I bit the inside of my cheek to avoid crying out. Oddly there were no tears in my eyes though. I breathed through the sting and braced myself for the fifth.

It came soon enough. The swat landed solely on my left buttock and the intense sting imparted by it nearly caused my eyes to pop out of my head. The sixth swat followed immediately before I could even contemplate the burning of the fifth. It was directed solely at my right buttock and while my brain new it was over I kept my grip on the table trying to draw strength against the intense burning sting that was growing behind me.

“Well taken, Miss Beaumont. You may rise and put your skirt back on.” Mrs. Anderson said.

I stood up grimacing and gave her a rueful nod.

“You’re pretty decent with that thing.” I said.

She smiled.

“I’ve had a bit of practice.” She said.

Mrs. Anderson left me alone and I took a few moments to fix my appearance before heading back to Mr. Candle’s office. When I arrived he had a series of papers strewn out on the coffee table for me. I took my seat carefully, knowing he was watching my every move. My eyes drifted to the switch on the floor for the seat warmer and our eyes met when I looked up from it. Mr. Candle chuckled and I allowed myself a nervous laugh.

I expected he was going to ask me a question about the spanking or at the very least reference it in some way, but he was all business. I signed the remaining forms in a matter of minutes. I gathered the few things I would be taking with me, including the handbook and Mr. Candle walked me to the elevator.

“I’ve arranged for you to take a training course in Utah next week. For appearances you should inform your family and friends it is a week long course to familiarize you with your responsibilities as an administrative assistant.” Mr. Candle said.

“But it’s not.” I said.

“No, it’s a training course, but it’s purpose is to teach you how to survive the assignments I will be sending you out on. Cathy will call you with your travel arrangements. By the time you get back, the rest of Q5 should be here and then you can get settled in with the team.”

“It sounds great. Thank you for everything, Mr. Candle.”

“You’re very welcome. Best of luck in Utah and I’ll see you when you get back.”

I stepped onto the elevator and the doors closed. My heart was pounding in my throat and I could feel adrenaline pulsing through my body. Truth be told, my butt was on fire, but I was so happy it didn’t matter at all. I could hardly wait to tell my parents I was finally employed. Too bad they couldn’t know the whole truth, but even as an administrative assistant, they’ll undoubtedly be smiling like it was success.

May 16, 2009

Great Expectations: In The Hot Seat

We were seated back on the comfortable chairs in Mr. Candle’s office. With so much settled I was more receptive to a drink this time and requested a cola. He raised an eyebrow when I emphatically indicated that diet was not acceptable, but otherwise said nothing. He returned with a load of paperwork and immediately turned to business.

“First, we’ll need to make this provisional security clearance permanent. It won’t be a problem just a few forms to fill out and sign.” Mr. Candle began.

He handed me a small stack of forms with yellow signature tags sticking out of the pages. I thumbed through them quickly verifying they were all related to the security clearance.

“Can I take any of this home with me or do I need to go through it all here?” I asked.

“As a rule nothing leaves this building unless you’ve been given specific authorization to take it from here. These forms are confidential and therefore not permitted outside the building. If you want to have a personal lawyer review them before you sign anything, it can be arranged here and I would completely understand.”

“That won’t be necessary. I don’t have a lawyer on retainer or anything.” I said.

He simply nodded. I dug a pen out of my purse and spaced out the documents on the coffee table so I could quickly sign in the indicated spaces. Mr. Candle collected them together when I was done. I settled back in the chair and trying not to wince as I noticed my bottom was still a little tender.

“I think it is important for you to know being part of the Q5 team comes with risks. What we do isn’t treasure seeking, but we often encounter such types in our searches and there can be other complications as well.”

I shifted carefully trying to find a comfortable way to sit.

“Are you saying the job is dangerous?”

“It can be. Most days it is challenging and invigorating, but there are days it can be dangerous.”

Doing my best to avoid grimacing, I sat more forward in the chair. My backside was really starting to sting which seemed odd considering the plush chair.

“How dangerous?”


He paused to let the weight of the statement settle in the air between us. What surprised me the most is I wasn’t scared. I knew he was serious by the look on his face, but whether he knew it or not he inspired such confidence in me that because I knew he believed in me, I believed in myself. Now if only my backside wasn’t making me feel like a little girl.

“I guess I better take out a larger life insurance policy.” I said.

Mr. Candle chuckled for a moment before becoming serious again. I adjusted my sitting position, hoping I wasn’t being too obvious, especially if he had heard as much as I suspect he had on the phone the previous evening.

“The company will provide you with a 100 million dollar policy as part of your compensation. Should anything unfortunate happen, your beneficiaries will be well cared for. Of course I don’t expect such an eventuality, but I can’t promise you anything more.”

“I understand. That’s a generous amount.”

“More to the point, because the job is dangerous it is best if you keep your actual duties here a secret from everyone. To that end I have created the illusion that you will be hired as a high level executive assistant. In appearance you will be working on a top floor for one of the top executives. You will be entitled to an appropriate level of respect from the other employees but it will appear a much more benign position.”

“You expect me to lie to my family and friends?”

Maybe it was the thought of breaking a cardinal rule of my father’s, but I swear my butt was starting to burn like I’d just been paddled for the lies I was considering telling.

“No, I expect you to withhold the truth from them. There is a difference.”

“A very slim one and I don’t think my parents will understand it that way.”

In fact, I know they won’t see it that way. If my parents ever learn about me pulling that kind of deception on them, I wouldn’t be able to conceal my discomfort while sitting, standing or breathing for that matter. As it is, I can hardly sit still from what was a relatively minor spanking last night.

“I won’t force you to handle it in a manner inconsistent with your values but you should realize that if they are aware of what you are doing it could place them in danger if the wrong person finds out.”

“I have to say this talk of danger especially as it could effect my family is making me uncomfortable. What you are proposing here sounds very interesting and exciting but whatever rewards it might have they aren’t worth the lives of those I care about.”

“Of course not. If you could see your way to keeping a few things to yourself, you will minimize the risks to them and yourself. Think of it as a white lie, told to protect rather than mislead.”

“I’m not comfortable with this.”

Talk about an understatement with double meaning. I shifted in the chair again, my backside literally feeling hotter by the minute. There was a soft click in the room and I looked around for the source but couldn’t find it.

“I won’t twist your arm Miss Beaumont. Only you can decide what is right for you.” Mr. Candle said.

“I’m going to trust you, but the first sign my trust is misplaced, I’m gone.”

“Fair enough.”

“What about compensation?”

“I’m offering a starting annual salary of $250,000. Of course if I paid this directly the cover of administrative assistant would be ludicrous so you’ll receive a monthly pay in keeping with a $38,000 a year salary. The remainder of the money will be placed in a special holding account. You won’t be able to access the funds until you leave Quondam Innovations, but think of it as a nice retirement nest egg.”

I blinked momentarily forgetting about my sore bottom and thinking about my wounded pride if I ever end up telling anyone how little my take home pay is. Then I heard that click again and I looked around still puzzled. Mr. Candle seemed oblivious to it.

“That’s not much take home and what about my taxes?” I said.

“The amount is well above minimum wage and there are plenty of people who make a living with far less. I think you’ll manage. As for your taxes, you’ll pay taxes on your take home pay, the remainder of the money will remain untaxed until you take possession of it.”

“This is all a lot more complicated than I was expecting.”

“I apologize for that, but I think you will find the precautions are well worth it.”

“I guess we’ll find out. I might be crazy, but where do I sign to make it all happen?”

Mr. Candle nodded his head. He read me right and he knew it. Damn him. He should have been a car salesman because he has definitely sold me on the flash I probably can’t afford and for some strange reason I don’t even care. Now if only we could take a walk because I swear my butt can’t take much more of this sitting around.

“There is a handbook on company policies and you may take it home to review, but I’ll need you to sign an agreement to the policies contained in it this afternoon. If you would like I’ll give you a rundown on the ones you might consider proprietary to Quondam Innovations.” He said.

“Yes, please.” I replied.

“We have a graduated formality chain. I find it’s best to ensure everyone knows their place in the company. It keeps everyone happier and makes the chain of command more clear. Those you work with on a daily basis and are not your direct supervisor can be addressed in an informal manner such as on a first name basis. However, when addressing an individual of higher position they should be addressed with respect by their surnames and or titles when appropriate.”

I heard the click again and pushed myself forward on the chair. My bottom was starting to feel about like it did right after Dad finished paddling me and that was definitely not right. My hand slipped back behind me and I noticed the seat of the chair itself was warm to the touch. How embarrassing to have a butt so hot it heats the chair itself. Thankfully between the two of us I was the only one who knew that fact.

“It makes sense but how do you know if someone in the company holds a higher position than you if you don’t work with them?”

“Within the building it is simple. A person’s hierarchy in the company is reflected by what floor they work on. So a 3rd floor employee is above a 2nd floor but below a 4th floor and so on.”

“Okay. Wait, you said I’ll be working in the Q5 office on the 32nd floor that’s two floors above you. How does that work?”

Mr. Candle didn’t even try to hide his amusement at my question. When I moved in the seat again trying to find some way to get comfortable I noticed he was watching me and the look on his face was definitely akin to amusement. I felt myself blushing but tried to conceal it with a fake fit of coughing. Surprisingly, he let me get away with it.

“You will find I also work in the Q5 offices a good portion of the time but I will also always maintain a formal relationship with the Q5 team. I consider every member of the team to be my superior in some regard and while the ultimate responsibilities rest in my hands, I will always be respectful of the Q5 personnel.”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

I adjusted my position for what seemed like the hundredth time and heard the click again. Then it dawned on me where I had heard that noise before. My butt was literally burning up and the reason was suddenly very clear.

“Does this chair have a seat warmer?” I asked

“Actually it does. Are you cold? Should I turn it on?” Mr. Candle asked.

“No, no. Quite the opposite actually. I think it is on and I’m getting rather warm.”

He looked down at a series of switches on the floor next to the coffee table and then flicked the one with an orange light on to the off position.

“You’re right. It was on.”

“Glad it wasn’t my imagination. I was starting to feel like I was in the hot seat here.”

Mr. Candle chuckled.

“Well now that we’ve solved that problem, where were we?” He asked.

“You were explaining the company hierarchy system as it applies to you and Q5 and I was saying I didn’t think I understood it.”

“Ah, yes. Let’s just say I will always address you as Miss Beaumont, but there could come a time when you will call me Joe.”

“Alright. It just seems a bit odd at the moment is all.”

My butt still felt like it was on fire and I couldn’t help but consider if he had turned the switch on purposely to make me squirm a little. If he did that could only mean he was very much aware of the state of my bottom or at least suspected it was so. The more I tried not to think about it, the more it dominated my thoughts. Of course, Mr. Candle was doing a good job of looking innocent.

“I’m sure you’ll come to understand it all once you’ve had a chance to settle into your position.” He said.

“If you say so.”

“I do. I think the one you will find the most unusual is our discipline policy. I think you will agree that discipline must be maintained in the work place in order to promote excellence and productivity.”


“To that end I have instituted a policy of corporal punishment for most minor and even some not so minor infractions of policy. It is carried out primarily by a person’s immediate supervisors although it can be handled through the HR department entirely if there is concern about a conflict of interest. It is always handled in private with only an HR witness to insure that nothing inappropriate occurs and everything is executed in accordance with policy. This can be a disconcerting event for new employees but please let me assure you it is only done when necessary and most find in retrospect it is a far better way to handle things than a formal hearing and possible dismissal for an honest mistake. From my point of view, it gives me the ability to minimize mistakes because I have an effective means of discouraging them without dealing with a high turnover rate.”

“I can’t say I am comfortable with the prospect. In fact it was the reason I walked out last time I was here. I thought maybe it was some kind of a mistake or bad joke, but now your telling me this is policy?”

“Yes, well I think we might have brought it up a little better during your previous visit but I must require you submit to a spanking from Mrs. Anderson before we can finalize your employment. If you do your job and follow policy you won’t have to go through it again, but if something happens and you make a mistake I think you’ll be happy to have it as an option, even if your not happy to receive it.”

“I’m really not comfortable with this.”

“I wouldn’t expect you to be, but surely you aren’t suggesting you’ve never been spanked before?”

I blushed thinking of the previous night for the second time since meeting Mr. Candle.

“Of course not, it just seems a little out of the purview of work.”

“I’m afraid I’m a stickler on this point. If it’s a deal breaker for you, then it’s a deal breaker.”

May 13, 2009

Great Expectations: Persuasion

We walked together toward the elevator and even before we got to the doors they opened to an empty car. Mr. Candle pushed the button for the 2nd floor and the doors slid closed. It was only then I realized what was so different about the elevator compared to all the others I’ve ever been inside; there was no music.

The 2nd floor was a bustle of activity through open cubicles grouped in bundles. There were narrow passages through the middle of the room between the bundles and larger walkways around the perimeter. The employees were either typing on their keyboards in what looked like email correspondence or reading physical letters. Mr. Candle and I walked the perimeter while he explained what they were doing.

“We receive literally thousands of correspondence from all around the world on a daily basis. Most of it is negative, people who have had a bad experience with one of our products. In this room and in a few others around the world just like it, we do our best to personally respond to each complaint in some manner.” Mr. Candle said.

He gestured to a plastic box overflowing with letters at the desk we were passing. The woman processing them seemed oblivious to our presence as did everyone else. Maybe it shouldn’t have surprised me, but something about it seemed very odd to me.

“We commonly use form letters with offers for free replacement of defective merchandise but some complaints require a more personal touch.” Mr. Candle continued, “People who have had a bad experience are unlikely to change their minds over free products or form letters though, so the most important part of the job down here is to identify defects in product designs which need correcting because of an unacceptable failure rate. The best way to keep people from getting upset is to avoid having the problems that upset them. Wouldn’t you agree?”

I nodded my head in agreement, still looking around the room. We made a complete circuit of the room without disturbing anyone. It was both impressive and frightening at the same time.

“So you do your best to appear to care about your customers.” I said.

“Not appear, Miss Beaumont. I do care. Our customers opinions are very important to me.” Mr. Candle replied.

“And why is that Mr. Candle?” I asked.

“Perception is reality.” He replied.

“I’m not convinced.” I said.

“If you were, I would be disappointed. Shall we continue?” He said.

I smiled despite myself and allowed him to guide me back into the elevator. He pressed the button for the 24th floor. While the elevator rose in the shaft he rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet. There was definitely a youthful excitement about the man.

When the elevator doors opened I wanted them to slam shut again. It probably had something to do with the rifle barrels pointed at us. The camouflaged muscles holding them were fairly intimidating as well, but the muzzles were foremost on my mind. Mr. Candle’s eyes were laughing at me and somewhere deep down the goons with the guns probably were too.

Mr. Candle held his hand out to a panel with the outline of a hand on it and a blue light flashed under his hand and then a green light bulb lit up on top. The goons focused the guns on me alone then. All I can say is it was a good thing I hadn’t had anything to drink earlier.

“It’s a digital fingerprint analyzer. The guards are here to make sure no one gets off the elevator who doesn’t have authorization.” Mr. Candle explained.

“I guess I’ll just go back down to the lobby then.” I said.

I didn’t mean it as a complaint. Leaving the goons and guns behind was definitely on the top of my to do list.

“Don’t be silly. Place your right hand on the analyzer.” He said.

“I don’t understand. Obviously, I don’t have clearance to be here.” I said.

“Nonsense. After your interview last week I took the liberty of obtaining your provisional security clearance. You are cleared to enter any part of the building as long as I’m with you.” Mr. Candle explained.

I placed my hand on the analyzer and the blue light flashed again. I held my breath wondering if I would ever take another should the light turn red instead of green. The bulb flashed green and the goons and guns retreated. I waited an extra second before releasing my breath just in case the damn machine changed its mind. Mr. Candle was enjoying himself quite thoroughly and so far it was all at my expense.

“Where are we?” I asked.

“The 24th floor.” Mr. Candle replied.


“You asked.”

I nodded my head and sighed. Mr. Candle led me to a white door with a coded lock. He swiped a card from his pocket and the door buzzed open. He waived me inside and so I went.

“This is a testing facility. In here we are currently running tests on long range non-lethal assault weapons.” Mr. Candle said.

It was clearly a laboratory with scientist making adjustments on various prototypes resembling various assault weapons of the more lethal variety we are all far too familiar with. At the far end of the lab I recognized an area that could only be a shooting range. Mr. Candle guided me toward it.

“Non-lethal? How so?” I asked.

“There are a variety of concepts all in the early stages of development right now and several are showing promising results. In a few years we might well have a functional assault weapon capable of incapacitating an enemy combatant without any lasting injury.”

“The military is interested in this kind of technology?” I asked.

“Very. Do you have any idea how much easier it is to stop radicals when they have no martyrs?”

“I see.”

“I don’t really think we need another company working on figuring out new ways to kill people. It’s time for a weapon with a more civilized purpose, don’t you think?”

“It sounds admirable.”

“But you don’t think it is?”

“I think you are showing me what you need me to see and keeping from me anything that might cause me to run out the front door.” I said.

“Do you really think I would go to this much trouble just to deceive you?” Mr. Candle asked.

I looked around the room. It was true, nothing was fake, it was all for real. The concept was incredible but then that is exactly what Quondam Innovations is known for, bringing you tomorrow today. Maybe I don’t know everything and just maybe this was an offer of a lifetime. I realized right then that Mr. Candle had achieved what he wanted. I could still turn him down and walk away from everything, but if I did I would spend the rest of my life asking myself what if and I’m too damn young to have regrets.

“Alright, Mr. Candle, you’ve sold me. Now maybe we should talk about exactly what it is you want me to do for you.” I said.

Mr. Candle nodded at me, clearly pleased with himself. We returned to the elevator leaving the lab coats to their lab and the goons to their guns. I can’t say it was too soon, but I could have asked a million questions about what I saw there. I decided for the time being to put it out of my mind and focus on the immediate future. I never thought I would be working for Quondam Innovations let alone be hired by its world famous CEO himself.

A few moments later we were standing outside the elevator on the 32nd floor. There were two doors, one to the left and one to the right. The one to the left was a plain white door, unmarked but the keypad to the side indicated it was most likely locked. The door to the right was similar except it was painted blue and marked with the designation, “Q5” in raised silver letters.

“Q5?” I asked.

“This is where you will be working when you’re in the office. I wanted to show you this before we make it all official.”

He stepped up to the blue door and punched a code into the keypad and then pressed his thumb to a small white square that lit up briefly. There was a mechanical sound like gears turning and then the distinctive sound of the a door unlocking. He pushed the door open and held it for me.

We walked into a large room that looked something like a cross between a Pentagon war room and a science lab. In the very center of the room there was an oval table with a cherry wood finish. In mid-air above the table there was a grayish white light which on closer inspection appeared to be data from nearby computer terminals but it was somehow being projected like a hologram. I stepped up and waved my hand through it and to my surprise there was no disruption at all. Mr. Candle chuckled at me.

I turned and slowly looked around the room trying to take it all in. The perimeter of the room was on a higher level than the center of the room giving it a pit feeling. It was only six steps to get to the raised walkway and it could be accessed from either side of the main area. On the left side there were three equally sized offices and on the right side there were two larger offices. At the far side of the room from the entrance, there was another office that looked more like a high school science lab except the equipment in there was clearly far more advanced than anything a high school teacher would ever see.

“What is all this?” I asked.

“This is why I do everything else I do.” Mr. Candle said.

“A pet project?”

“Something like that. You have an interest in history if I’m not mistaken?”

“A little.”

“This office is dedicated to finding lost artifacts from the past.”

“Artifacts? You want me to be an archeologist?”

“Not exactly. In this office you will work with four other people I’ve hand selected just like you. You see the job isn’t about unearthing ancient remains but rather finding objects of value that have been lost to time. It requires a rather unique set of skills and the team I have put together here has proven to be quite good at finding things no one else has been able to.”

“If the team is already successful, then why do you need me?”

“I made a mistake. You’ll be replacing a member of the team and I believe bringing a necessary skill set to the table.”

“I don’t see what I have to offer.”

“I need someone that understands how people think and that is something you do better than most.”

“I have a degree in psychology not mind reading.”

Mr. Candle chuckled.

“I’m not hiring your degree, Miss Beaumont. I’m hiring you.” He said.

“What happens to the artifacts after we find them?” I asked.

“They’re brought back here for cataloging and study. Once we’ve learned all we can from them we have agreements with museums around the world to loan the objects out for display and further study.”

“I take it you have an archeologist on the team?”

“He doesn’t like that title but he has the knowledge and expertise.”

“I see. Where are they?”

“Out on assignment. They will be back in a few days.”

“I take it there will be a lot of traveling?”

“The job does require a bit of hands on so yes you will be required to travel with the team. I’m sure you won’t mind getting away from your parents for a few days at a time.”

There was a twinkle in his eye which made me very self conscious recalling the inconvenient timing of his call the previous evening. What had he heard? Call me chicken but I wasn’t about to ask.

“I think I’ll survive.” I said.

“Good. Shall we adjourn to my office and go over the details then?”

“Lead the way.”

May 10, 2009

Great Expectations: Meeting Mr. Candle

I arrived at Quondam Innovations nearly a half hour early. I took my time walking and appreciated the gardens leading up to the entrance this time. I had barely registered their existence before and yet they were beautiful. The flowers were grown in an interesting arrangement that I recognized as the company’s logo. It would be an impressive sight from the windows high above.

I recognized the same three young ladies sitting in the lobby as I entered. I paused looking at the fountain and the rainbow produced beneath it. There was something intriguing about it, but whatever I was on the verge of understanding, never came to fruition. It was familiar though, like something from childhood forgotten in the folds of maturity.

“Good afternoon, Miss Beaumont. Mr. Candle is expecting you.” Cathy said.

She smiled at me with a genuine warmth and I returned it in kind.

“Thank you, Cathy. Will you be taking me up?” I asked.

“Of course, ma’am. Right this way.” She said.

I followed her onto the elevator hidden behind the reception desk.

“Please call me Ally.” I said.

The elevator doors closed.

“I appreciate the offer ma’am but it wouldn’t be appropriate.” Cathy said.

“I don’t understand.” I replied.

I remembered learning her name quite distinctly from Mrs. Anderson using it. Clearly the company had nothing against first name usage.

“Mr. Candle demands an adherence to appropriate etiquette as established by our positions in the company. It would be a gross violation of that etiquette for me to address you informally. If ma’am makes you uncomfortable I can address you as Miss Beaumont.” Cathy explained.

“I didn’t mean to cause any trouble. I would prefer Miss Beaumont if you don’t mind though. Ma’am has a way of making me feel twenty years older than I am, if you know what I mean.”

“Of course, Miss Beaumont.” Cathy replied.

The elevator continued its upward climb and an uneasy silence permeated the air between us. I could think of nothing to say or do to repair the faux pas and instead I adopted a pose of formality. Inwardly, I cursed at the corporate culture that inevitably complicates even the simplest of human interactions.

At last the elevator stopped and the doors opened. Mr. Candle was waiting. He was a tall man with dark hair. He looked older than I expected, recalling his voice on the phone, but there was something youthful about his eyes. He wore a sliver-blue suit with a silky sheen to it that screamed money as loudly as a red Ferrari in the driveway. His tie caught my attention the most though because it seemed so out of place. It was black and gold in color with a design that reminded me of the pyramids of Egypt and at the same time of circuit board schematics.

Mr. Candle extended his hand to me which I took with a polite smile and a nod. As soon as I stepped out of the elevator, Cathy pushed a button and the door closed, leaving Mr. Candle and I alone.

“Ah, Miss Beaumont.” He said.

“Mr. Candle.” I said.

“Please make your self comfortable. Can I get you something to drink?” Mr. Candle asked.

He waved his arm at the room behind him. Essentially the entire floor was one large open space he used as an office, lounge, and conference room. I looked around taking in the 360 view and trying to decide just where comfortable would be. I decided on a spot by the window where I thought I might be able to see the gardens down below.

“Nothing for me.” I said.

“You’ve found my favorite view.” Mr. Candle said.

He stepped up beside me and looked down at the gardens just as I was. I looked over at him wondering if he was playing me for a fool or if it was all genuine. I decided it would be best to get down to the business of it all, whatever it was.

“Forgive me, but why am I here?” I asked.

He stepped away from the glass walked more toward the center of the room where he had six plush chairs gathered around a small table. He gestured for me to sit in one of them and I did and then he sat in one himself. As comfortable as the chair was, I could not relax.

“You are here because this is where you want to be.” Mr. Candle said.

“That seems presumptuous. You said you wanted me to work for you.” I said.

“This is true. I want you to join my team.”

“Doing what?”

“Being you.”

“I’m going to need a little more than that.” I said.

“You wouldn’t be you, if you didn’t. Tell me, what do you know about Quondam Innovations?”

“What everyone knows. You are the third largest corporation in the world. You have been behind or involved in nearly every major technological leap forward in the last decade. It’s said there isn’t a home in the United States or Western Europe that doesn’t have something manufactured or developed by Quondam. In addition to home technology the company develops weapon technology sold to both domestic and foreign militaries under a wide variety of contracts. You have survived three anti-trusts lawsuits and two congressional investigations regarding selling arms to terrorists.” I said.

Mr. Candle listened and nodded his approval to my brief.

“What I don’t know is what your agenda really is.” I said.

Mr. Candle’s eyes lit up then and he smiled like a kid who just had a birthday wish come true.

“You think we are evil.” He said.

“You have a permanent staff of 25 lobbyist in Washington. What agenda are they promoting?” I asked.

“Mine of course.”

“That’s it?”

“Not everything is sinister. Did you know that my lobbyist have rarely if ever approached an elected representative?”

“Yes, I’m sure you expect it to be seen as noble, but it just plays as smart in my eyes. You lobby other companies and organizations to advance your agenda with politicians so you can keep your motives and motivations well concealed from public scrutiny.”

“So you think because I keep secrets I am evil?” He said.

“Mr. Candle if I thought you were evil, I wouldn’t be here.”

“But you don’t trust me.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Then I’ll just have to work on that. In the meantime allow me to show you what we do here at Quondam Innovations.” Mr. Candle said.

He stood up and offered me a hand up which I took. I don’t normally swoon for the chivalry stuff, but something about Mr. Candle made it seem like the most natural thing in the world. The last time I felt so elegant was at my high school prom and I swear it was the dress and not my date.

“I’d like that very much and perhaps along the way you might give me a little more detail about what you would expect me to being doing for you.” I said.

“We’ll take it a step at a time.” He said.

May 7, 2009

Great Expectations: Advice and Encouragement

I was staring at the corner again. It was just as plain and as white as it has always been and twice as boring. Mom and Dad were watching TV while my bare, red bottom burned from the spanking I had just received. I was counting the seconds until I could go up to bed and forget about my latest week of failure. Then the phone rang and I nearly jumped out of my skin. I blushed hotter thinking of those embarrassing times when I was a teenager and some friend or other had called only to be told I was standing in the corner with a red backside and could not come to the phone right then.

“Hello?” Mom said.

I held my breath praying the next words out of her mouth wouldn’t embarrass me for the remainder of my life.

“May I ask who is calling?” Mom said.

Three ticks of the grandfather clock passed while I continued to hold my breath.

“One moment. Let me check if she is available.” Mom said. “Greg dear, it’s a Mr. Candle from Quondam Innovations for Allison. Should I get his number to have her call him back?”

“Isn’t he that CEO?” Dad asked.

“I don’t know dear. Should I ask him?” Mom replied.

“No, never mind. Allison go ahead and take the call but as soon as you hang up you’re back in the corner, understood?” Dad said.

I turned around from the corner very sheepishly, wondering just how much Mr. Candle had heard through Mom’s hand over the receiver. Quickly, I wiped the remnants of tears from my cheeks and cleared my throat hoping I wouldn’t sound as little as I was feeling.

“Yes, sir.” I replied.

I crossed the short distance of floor between myself and Mom feeling extremely self-conscious. It probably had something to do with my panties tugging at my ankles with every step. I inhaled a deep breath and took the phone from Mom. My face felt hot against the cool plastic of the receiver as I blushed feeling certain Mr. Candle would know my bottom was not only bare, but bright red as well.

“Hello.” I said.

“Miss Beaumont, we haven’t met but I am Joseph Candle with Quondam Innovations.”

His voice was younger than I expected, but it was confident and commanding like I thought it would be. The tiny speaker of the phone did little to diminish the awe I was feeling at being called by one of the most successful men in the history of the world.

“Yes, sir. What can I do for you?” I asked.

“Come work for me.” He replied.

I blinked. I sputtered with words caught in my throat. After that insane interview I never thought for one moment I would ever hear another word from Quondam Innovations, let alone be called and offered a job by none other than Joseph Candle. Finally, my voice returned to me along with a semblance of rational thought.

“What are you offering Mr. Candle?” I asked.

“Everything you have ever wanted and a few things you probably don’t even know you want. Come and meet with me tomorrow afternoon. We can discuss everything then.” He said.

“When?” I asked.

“1:30 at our headquarters. I believe you know the place.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Excellent. I will see you tomorrow then. Have a good evening, Miss Beaumont.”

“Thank you, sir.”

The phone clicked before I could say anything more. I stared into nothingness for a moment trying to wrap my brain around the idea I was about to be wooed for a job by someone who shouldn’t even know I exist.

“Corner, Allison.” Dad ordered.

“But-” I began.

“The only butt in this conversation is yours and unless you want me to freshen up its color, you’ll get your nose back in the corner.”

“Yes, sir.” I said.

Resignedly, I trudged back to the corner, still painfully aware of my lowered panties and the heat emanating from my sore buttocks. The walls were still white and boring, but my thoughts drifted off to tomorrow. What would it be like to meet the famous, Joseph Candle and why was he interested in me?

Tomorrow became today in the blink of a mere restless night. I pulled a light robe around my shoulders and closed the sash, making my way down the stairs to breakfast. To say the appearance of my neatly folded skirt still resting on the back of my chair was embarrassing would sound a bit like a broken record, but repetition doesn’t fade the truth. Dad was sitting at the table already sipping a steaming cup of coffee and by the look in his eyes, he was waiting for me.

“Good morning.” I said, feeling more than a little sheepish.

“Morning.” Dad replied.

Mom paused from her cooking at the stove to give me a brief smile before turning her full attention back to bacon and eggs. The smell made my stomach grumble and reminded me I missed dinner the night before. I filled myself a cup of coffee and sat down at the table, wincing slightly as I felt the still prevalent effects from the previous evening. Without much thought I gave a light rueful rub before noticing Dad’s amused look.

“Still sore?” He asked.

“Yes, sir.” I replied.

I nearly gave a more casual response but the pain in my rear suggested a bit of formality might still be appropriate. Odd how a little sting can change your whole attitude toward life.

“Maybe if you had listened to your mother and I, instead of deciding you new everything better, it wouldn’t have come to this.” He said.

I decided it was best to nod my head in agreement rather than speak.

“However,” Dad said. “I do realize you would not be going on this interview today if I wasn’t pushing you so hard to get a job. I know Quondam Innovations is the kind of company you have always despised. I have nothing personally against them, but I don’t want you to end up resenting me because I forced you to take a job from someone you despise.”

“So what are you saying? You don’t want me to go? What happens next week when I still don‘t have a job?” I asked.

“I think you should go and I think you should try to have a more open mind about the company, but if afterward you still don’t think you can be happy working there I would rather you walked away.” Dad said.

“It’s nice of you to say that but do I really have a choice here? I mean you’ve said it yourself, I’ve been out of school nearly a year and other than this offer from Quondam, I’ve had nothing. I know I messed up with school and I’m sorry, really sorry, but I can’t go back and remake those choices. Yesterday is gone so the reality is if I get offered a position there I have to say yes. All I can hope for is that a couple years from now I’ll be able to use it on my résumé to get a job somewhere I’ll be happier.”

“You always have choices. Sometimes when you’re in a tight spot like you find yourself right now they can be hard to see. It can be even harder still to see the differences between them, but I know you’ll do what you think you have to do. Nothing I can say will change your mind. You’ve always been stubborn Allison and God knows I love you for it even if you can drive me crazy. Just try to understand I only want the best for you and if Quondam Innovations isn’t going to make you happy then it’s not where you belong. If it would make a difference, I’ll stop spanking you over not having a job.” Dad said.

“It’s not about the spankings, dad. I don’t even blame you for that. I should have taken a job in retail or something months ago when my original career plans weren’t taking off. It didn’t have to be a career or anything grand but unemployment this long out of college hasn’t been helping my chances and I know that. You know that too and that’s why you drew a line. It’s my own fault for making you draw it, but it’s done. I’m not going to Quondam today because I’m concerned about getting another spanking. I’m going because it might be my last chance at a job that doesn’t involve asking ‘do you want the combo with fries and a drink or ala carte?’ Trust me a little, I know what I’m doing.” I said.

“I do trust you and more than a little. You go on this interview today but just remember you can say no and we’ll understand.” Dad said.

“Thanks. It means a lot to me. I still don’t trust big corporations and I doubt I ever will but I don’t think it would kill me to work for one for a little while. Who knows, maybe I’ll find out it’s one more thing I’ve been wrong about.” I said.

Dad and I lifted our coffee cups in unison and took a drink. Mom served up breakfast and we all ate with nothing more to really say. It’s always a good thing to know where you stand even if you are sitting down.

May 4, 2009

Great Expectations: The Interview

Sitting up, I greeted the morning with a yawn and brushed the stray hairs from my face with stiff fingers. The morning sun shined brightly through my thin, white curtains as I donned my red, lightweight robe and tied it loosely around my waist. I made my way downstairs to the kitchen where my neatly folded skirt, still laying over the back of my chair, brought a blush to my cheeks.

The kitchen was alive with the sound of crackling grease and a sputtering coffee pot. I breathed in the aroma of bacon, eggs, and fresh coffee and recalled my last meal was lunch. I made my way to the cupboard and grabbed my coffee cup from the shelf. Mom smiled at me from the stove and pretended not to notice my embarrassment.

“Good morning.” I said.

“Good morning, dear. How did you sleep?” Mom asked.

“Better than I expected.” I replied.

“I thought you might. You looked tired when you came home.” Mom said.

Nursing a full cup of coffee I plopped myself down at the table. I indulged in a quick sip to distract myself from the immediate urge to leap back off my sore backside. After a difficult minute of squirming, I noticed the piece of mail sitting on the table in front of me. It was one of those security envelopes nicely disguised in a heavy linen stationery that practically screams, “professional correspondence”.

“What’s this?” I asked.

Mom glanced over at me and the envelope on the table.

“It came in the mail for you yesterday.” She said.

The envelope was already open, a nasty habit of Mom’s but she would never admit to it. I pulled the letter out and admired the feel of the stationery as I unfolded it. Anyone would have recognized the logo on the top of the page, but where most would have been excited, I was filled with a sense of dread.

The letter was an invitation to an interview at the corporate headquarters of Quondam Innovations. Six months ago I would have ripped the letter into pieces and thrown it away, but now I’m desperate enough to consider going. So what if they stand for everything I’ve always opposed? Maybe now is the time to grow up and live in the real world where sometimes it is necessary to choose between ideals and cold, hard cash. The latter being a necessity and the former becoming a lot more flexible as my choices have dwindled down to sucks and sucks worse.

The interview was scheduled for 11 AM. Glancing at the clock, I realized I had very little time to get myself dressed and out the door if I was going to make it on time. Angrily, I glowered at Mom while she continued about making breakfast as if nothing were amiss.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” I asked.

“Why should I?” Mom asked.

“How can you even ask that? Obviously, I barely have enough time to make this interview unless of course you would rather I didn’t go!”

“It is not my responsibility to get you out of bed and to your interviews on time.”

“I’m not asking you to, but it would have been nice if you could have mentioned the letter last night.”

“You’ve made it perfectly clear you don’t want me involved. You can’t have it both ways.”

I have told her to stay out of my business more than a few times in recent weeks, but like usual, Mom was taking it all to the extreme. On the tip of my tongue, I wanted nothing more than to point out the hypocrisy of her words considering she was still opening my mail, but much as I would have liked to finish the argument with her, there simply wasn’t time. I shoved my coffee aside nearly spilling it on the table and stood up to go back upstairs and get showered.

“Watch that attitude.” Mom warned.

“Sorry, Mom.” I said.

“Go on you better hurry.” Mom said.

I climbed the stairs two at a time and barely avoided slamming the bathroom door. I showered so fast, I was out the bathroom door before the last of my soap suds found their way to the drain. My closet didn’t have much to offer in the way of professional attire for the interview so I made do with what I had, a black pencil skirt and white frilly blouse. Not exactly my favorites but it beat jeans and a t-shirt. I tied my hair back in a ponytail so I didn’t have to waste time styling it, threw on a quick dab of make up and I was on my way, buttoning my blouse as I descended the stairs like a rhino with a mission.

My purse and car keys were waiting by the door along with the envelope containing my interview appointment. I grabbed it all and was out the door without a backward glance. I groaned inwardly when I saw the morning dew on my car windows. A quick glance at my watch confirmed I didn’t have time to squeegee them off nor to wait for the annoyingly slow defroster to do the job. I turned the ignition, hit the windshield wipers and pressed the defroster button hoping I’d have a clear view a couple of miles down the road. With 100 miles to go and less than two hours to get there, I put the transmission in drive and married the accelerator to the floor board, praying I’d catch a break with below average traffic. God must have been in a good mood.

I pulled into the parking garage with ten minutes to spare. The security guard looked more than a little shocked when I showed him my letter, but whatever he was thinking he kept it to himself and merely directed me to a reserved parking spot on the 4th level. Why it is that every company sends their visitors to the highest levels of the parking structures and then requires them to hike back down to the ground level to enter the building is beyond my comprehension.

The Quondam Innovation building is a monstrous tower in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. Gazing up at it, I was nearly blinded by the sunlight reflecting off its tinted windows and then I realized, they were not all windows. Several of the reflective surfaces were actually solar panels, something I would never have expected to find considering Quondam‘s reputation for excess and waste.

The lobby was antiseptic. The floor tiles were a strange reflective blue and on one side leading back to a bank of elevators, a long narrow fountain provided the only sound beyond the clacking of my heels. A second glance exposed a unique lighting within the fountain creating a rainbow behind the falling water. I could have stared at it for hours but I was quickly running out of time and turned my attention to the rounded reception desk instead.

Three women close to my own age sat there quietly looking busy. They all smiled at me as I approached. The tallest one stepped out to meet me with her hand extended. I grasped it firmly and gave her my best professional smile.

“Miss Beaumont?” She asked.

“Yes.” I replied.

“You’re expected in the third floor conference room. I can take you up if you like?”

“Yes, please that would be most helpful.”

“Right this way.”

I followed her onto an elevator neatly hidden behind the reception desk. She pressed the button marked 3. The elevator shot upward at such high speed, I grabbed the handrail to maintain my balance and forced myself to breathe normally. The woman’s eyes had a glint of a laugh in them but otherwise she kept her thoughts to herself.

From the elevator I was led through a double door and then through a maze of monotonous cubicles until I stood before what was obviously the conference room. The walls were not glass but they were clear as glass and inside was a twelve foot oval table surrounded by dark blue leather chairs with cherry wood bases and arms. Even from a distance I could tell the table was made of solid, slab marble, probably imported from Greece or Italy if the sandy color and pink, blue, and silver flecking were any indication.

Inside the room, a woman looking to be in her late forties sat waiting. Her blondish brown hair was tied up in a neat bun giving her a distinguished and slightly intimidating appearance. She wore a single pair of diamond stud earrings for jewelry and except for the lack of spectacles on her nose, she would have looked right at home working behind the counter in any library. From the hem of her skirt to the collar of her blazer, the dark gray suit she wore complimented her features in a very auspicious manner. I felt sloppy by comparison and the glint in her eye left little doubt she had come to the same conclusion.

I stepped inside the room and extended my hand to the woman.

“I’m Allison Beaumont.” I said.

“I expected as much. You may call me Mrs. Anderson.” She said.

She took my hand but only for the briefest of moments before stepping passed me.

“Thank you, Cathy. I can manage from here.” Mrs. Anderson said.

Mrs. Anderson walked the length of the table to a file folder and then brought it back to a place directly across from me. She gestured for me to be seated and then sat down herself. Her long fingers flipped open the folder and slid two small packets across the table to me. Instinctively my hand came to rest atop the pages and I looked at her with questioning eyes.

“Formalities before we can begin. You should read through them and sign where marked if you agree to the terms.” Mrs. Anderson said.

“What is this?” I asked.

“The first one is a non-disclosure agreement the other is an interview agreement. If you want to have your own legal representative review them you may but I am not permitted to discuss anything further with you until you have signed both documents.” Mrs. Anderson said.

“And if I don’t?” I asked.

“Then I think you know your way out.” She replied.

I stared at her for any hint of what this was all about, but her eyes were as cold as ice and as empty as my wallet. My attention turned to the pages in front of me. I thumbed through them giving a cursory scan to the legal jargon, but it was all well outside my realm of understanding. I almost walked out but then shifting in the chair, I thought of the disappointed look on my father’s face. I picked up the pen and signed.

“Now maybe I’ll get some answers. How did you get my information and for which position am I being considered?” I demanded.

Mrs. Anderson placed the signed documents back inside the folder and then pulled out what was clearly an original copy of my résumé. I couldn’t quite read her expression but I had the distinct impression she did not like me.

“Does it really matter?” Mrs. Anderson asked.

“If you think I am so desperate I’ll take any position, then you don’t have a clue who I am.” I replied.

“You have a degree in psychology, Miss Beaumont. Tell me what position is it you think you are best suited for.”

“I’m just looking to understand why it is I am here, Mrs. Anderson.”

“I’m not here to answer your questions. I’m here to ask a few of my own. I would think you’d be familiar with this process.” Mrs. Anderson said.

The thinly veiled barb referring to the number of interviews I have attended in the last year was revealing, but not in a comforting way. If she knew that much, she might well know a few far more personal things I would rather no one knew.

“Fine ask your questions then.” I said.

“Let’s begin with your degree. Why psychology?”

“I thought it would be beneficial in any job to understand what motivates people.”

“Has your opinion changed?”


“Then why did you phrase it in the past tense?”

“Because I made the decision in the past.”

“Would you make the same decision today?”

“Probably not.”


“Because principles and ideas don’t pay bills.”

“So you are willing to sacrifice your principles for money?”

“I would call it a compromise.”

“How far are you willing to compromise?”

“On what principle?”

“All of them.”

“There are still lines of right and wrong that I will not cross.”

“Do you believe you always know the difference between them?”


“Confidence. That’s an admirable trait, but do you honestly believe your judgment is unimpeachable?”

“If I have all the facts at my disposal, I am more than capable of discerning right from wrong. It is not so difficult.”

“What about when you don’t have all the facts?”

“I try to reserve my judgment in those cases.”

“Very well. For the following statements please answer as true or false based on your feelings.” Mrs. Anderson said.

I nodded my acceptance although my understanding was out the window along with any pretense that this was a job interview. Whatever it was about, it had nothing to do with my professional qualifications. If I didn’t know better, I would say it was more of a personality test.

“Tomorrow is another day.”


“Some things are better left in the past.”


“Rules are meant to be broken.”

“Depends on the rule.”

“We are speaking generically Miss Beaumont. A true of false answer is required.”


“It is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all.”


“True or false, please Miss Beaumont.”


Mrs. Anderson raised an eyebrow at me. I stared back, unblinking until she moved on to the next question.

“Change is inevitable.”

“False, but it is likely.”

“The future is not ours to see.”


“It’s a small world.”


“Give a man enough rope and he’ll hang himself.”


“Miss Beaumont.”


“Death is just another marker on the roadmap of life.”


“Never make a promise you can’t keep.”


“The bigger they are the harder they fall.”


“Money can’t buy love.”


“Money is the root of all evil.”

“False, people are the root of all evil.”

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”


“No one lives forever.”


“A penny saved is a penny earned.”

“False, it just isn‘t spent.”

“Chocolate is better than sex.”

“That depends on the man.”

Mrs. Anderson gave me a disapproving stare.

“False.” I said.

“I chose the path less traveled by.”


“Thank you Miss Beaumont. You were very helpful.” Mrs. Anderson said.

“True.” I replied.

I gave her a smile, hoping she would find some amusement in my response. I swear there was a twinkle in her eyes, but her serious expression was cause enough for doubt. Quietly she placed the page where she had been taking note of my responses into the folder in front of her. I had the impression this strange interview was coming to an end and I still had no idea what it was all about.

“Are we through or is there something more?” I asked.

“We have one more matter to cover, but first, if you will excuse me, I need to verify something.” Mrs. Anderson said.

“Of course, take your time.” I said.

She left me alone in the room with her file folder and I have to admit I was tempted to open it up and look through what all she had in there, but something told me it would be a mistake. Instead I looked around through the clear walls into the office area. There were a few people going about what appeared to be very busy work and a few others who appeared to have nothing to do but surf the internet. I wondered if they were not the least bit concerned about being caught doing nothing or if their jobs somehow involved mindless web searching. The latter seems unlikely but then you could say the same about me interviewing at QI.

Mrs. Anderson returned after a few minutes. She was holding a blue leather paddle in her right hand, making no attempt to hide it from sight. If my eyes could have popped out of their sockets, they might well have done so, instead I found myself swallowing hard, remembering yesterday afternoon over my father’s lap. I blushed as I searched for words.

“Stand up and remove your skirt please.” Mrs. Anderson said.

Her voice was distant like through a long, dark tunnel. She was smiling, really smiling, for the first time since I had met her. I was flooded with emotions from outrage to fear. My eyes darted to the door and every instinct screamed run. I took a breath and stood to face Mrs. Anderson.

“Are you insane?” I asked.

“Miss Beaumont, if you are to join QI, you will quickly learn that disciplinary spankings are part of our corporate culture. I realize it is a bit unusual, but you did agree to a demonstration when you signed the interview agreement.”

“First off, whether it was in the document or not I don’t agree to this demonstration as you call it and if you try to force me I’ll own QI by the end of the week.” I said.

“Nobody is holding you here, Miss Beaumont. You are free to leave if that is your decision.” Mrs. Anderson said.

“Why wouldn’t it be? You have given me nothing here. Am I being offered a job? If so, what job is that? If somebody is going to whack my ass it isn’t going to be for nothing.”

“I am not authorized to make any offers or to divulge any information about the position you are being considered for. I don’t know if you’ll be offered the position or not but if you walk out that door right now I guarantee you won’t be. It’s your choice, but please make up your mind.” Mrs. Anderson said.

“I want some answers.” I said.

“I don’t have any to give you.” She replied.

I sighed in disgust. With a last glance at her and the blue paddle in her hand, I walked out the door.