The clouds began rolling in from the east. The sky had darkened as thunder began to rumble. Karen and Rachael had returned once again to Beachwood, to the Stillwater’s home. Aaron Stillwater was a nice-looking young man even though he had a receding hairline at the early age of twenty-four.
Aaron had returned home from Indiana State after he completed his thesis and a summer internship at the Indiana Research Institute. He didn’t want to have to make up anymore missed days after having taken off for a wedding that didn’t happen. However, he came home as soon as he could to assist the police and answer questions regarding Amy Brannigan, his fiancée’s death.
Aaron’s parents had wanted to protect him from answering questions that would cause him emotional pain. However, he told his parents to leave the room and let him talk to the detectives. They reluctantly left and went into the opened dining room where they could still hear the conversation.
“It’s alright,” Aaron stated sadly. “Ask me anything you want. I want you to find out who took my family.”
“So you knew that Amy was pregnant?” Rachael asked.
Aaron nodded. “We didn’t tell our parents.” Aaron’s mother gasped at the news and her husband patted her hand.
“That was why I took the time off from my internship to get married. Otherwise, we would have waited until I was finished. I had asked Amy to marry me months ago and she had told me no, but we kept seeing each other and then we broke up. A few weeks later, I guess a month, she told me about the baby. She had suspected that she was pregnant but she didn’t know that it was mine until she had gone to the doctor and was told how far along she was. We talked and I forgave her. I mean I was hurt and mad at first. But, since she was carrying my baby and, not somebody else’s, I took her back. I loved her.”
“Did you know that Amy had Chlamydia?” Karen asked.
Aaron nodded. “I cheated. I could have given it to her. That was another reason I could take her back. We both cheated but the baby was right.” Aaron nodded, stuck out his bottom lip and then choked back a sob. “The baby made everything alright.”
Rachael waited to give Aaron a moment to collect himself. “Do you know the man that Amy had cheated with?” She asked.
Aaron shook his head. “No, and I didn’t want to know. I had already accepted the fact that she had been with somebody else. I didn’t want to know the guy’s name and, I definitely didn’t need to know if I knew the guy as a friend.”
“What about the woman you were with? Who was she?” Karen asked.
Aaron looked embarrassed before answering, “Angela Mannion. She was my college professor but, she was fired when she was caught with another student. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one. I didn’t tell anyone that I was with her and I don’t think she did either. I don’t think she wanted anyone to know how many students she was having sex with.”
Aaron had an alibi for the possible nights that Amy went missing. He was with his parents on Wednesday night and with his friends earlier that day. He gave Rachael and Karen the names of his friends. Thursday, he hung around the house hoping that Amy would call him there or on his cell. His mother was able to vouch for him because neither of them ever left the house.
Friday, Aaron was with friends again and attended his scheduled bachelor party, believing that Amy would still show up. Saturday, he left and went back to Indiana when it was apparent that Amy wasn’t coming back for the wedding. He had suspected that something terrible had happened but, Amy’s mom wasn’t absolutely certain that she hadn’t just gotten cold feet and took off, even her friends believed that was a possibility. Aaron didn’t want to be in town and be pitied by his friends, Amy’s friends, and family from having been stood up at the altar.
Both Rachael and Karen could relate to Aaron about that since they were both brides-to-be. They wouldn’t have hung around either if they were being stood up. The detectives asked a few more questions and then left. They would later have Melvin check on Aaron’s alibis with his friends and at the research clinic and find that Aaron was telling the truth about his whereabouts.
It was late in the day and it didn’t make since once again, to drive back to the Justice Center just to turn in productivity sheets and the car. Rachael dropped Karen off at her house since she lived only ten minutes from Beachwood then drove the Chevy Blazer to her apartment.
Nelson wasn’t home yet but had left a note reminding Rachael that they had a six o’clock appointment with the real estate agent to close on their house. The agent was meeting them at Nelson’s apartment which meant that Rachael needed to shower and change quickly, and then drive over there. She had clothes there and made plans to spend the night and get up early to drive the longer commute to the Justice Center.
Rachael was excited about signing the closing papers. She signed the documents using her new proposed married name. She and Nelson had their marriage license which was valid for sixty days. It took nearly two hours to read and sign all the documents but in the end, the realtor agent offered them a bottle of Barefoot Champagne to toast to their new home.
Rachael and Nelson would be able to start moving their things into their house by that weekend and their wedding would be the following weekend. Rachael began making plans to have a moving party. She had already asked her friends to help her pack and move and they all agreed. Likewise, Nelson had already recruited the guys to help move even though they told him that he should hire movers.
However, Rachael wanted new furniture so most of the heavy stuff wouldn’t be moved to the new house anyway. Karen had suggested to Rachael that she have a yard sale at the apartment building and Rachael was seriously considering it now that they have sealed the deal on the new house.
Later that night, Rachael and Nelson played a little harder than usual and with some of their loudest toys. Even when Rachael was being punished, they were always careful about the amount of noise they made because they lived in an apartment.
That night, they didn’t worry about the noise. Nelson began using his hand to spank Rachael to a rose blush. It was stinging spanking but Rachael loved it. Nelson followed up with one of their leather padded paddles that made a loud slapping noise. Afterwards, they made love and rocked the headboard against the wall loud enough to wake their neighbors but no one came over to complain.
Karen was in her house alone. She had decided to put her house on the market but she had only a few potential buyers to come by and look at it. The real estate agent had warned her that she may not get back what she had put into the house because of the falling housing market but that she would do her best. Karen wasn’t sure if she wanted the hassle of renting her house out if she couldn’t sell it. However, Stewart told her, that she would have to make that decision since it was her house.
After their weekend fight about her new car and with the approaching wedding, Karen was beyond stress and craved more and more nicotine. She had limited her smoking to only smoking occasionally while away at work, especially when she drove herself to and from home. She hadn’t smoked in Rachael’s new car and she hadn’t gone to the Justice Center smoking area located in the garage that often. In fact, she had managed to wait until she was driving home to smoke but she didn’t drive that day.
Stewart had thought that Karen had stopped smoking and they had even celebrated Karen’s sixty days of non-smoking. However, Karen noticed that she had started to put on weight, especially when she compared herself to Rachael who was losing weight and getting significantly smaller for her wedding. Karen had had lost a ton of weight and bought a whole new wardrobe. Now, some of the clothes had begun to feel snug and others were very tight.
Karen started to worry that she would look like the good year blip on her wedding day and began skipping meals when she could and without Stewart’s knowledge. She also started smoking heavily again, up to a pack of cigarettes most days but primarily at work. However on that day, Karen could pat herself on her back. She didn’t drive herself to work and rode sidekick with Rachael and hadn’t crave one cigarette all day.
Now that she was home, the craving gave her a sucker punch and she badly needed a cigarette. Karen rummaged through her purse and found the single pack with three cigarettes in it. She took one out and lit it then dug around for her car keys. The store was only a block away and Karen could walk it easily but she drove her new convertible with the top down even though it looked like it could rain any minute. She hoped that she would make it to and from the store before the first raindrop.
Karen took a long drag off the cigarette before she started the car and turned off the parking lot. She drove with the top down to allow the wind to blow through her cropped hair and blow the smoke and ash away. She draped her left arm with the cigarette outside the car.
Stewart was on his way over to Karen’s house driving the new work car, a 2009 Taurus he bought for her. He had taken Eva with him to buy the car since Karen was at work and she drove his car home so that Stewart could surprise Karen. Stewart saw Karen turned into her driveway with the cigarette in her hand. He thought he was imagining the cigarette until Karen took a puff then flicked the butt.
Stewart felt his temper rising though he had told Karen that he would never spank her for smoking because he understood that she had an addiction. However, Karen had lied to him, told him that she could and did stop and let him believe that she had stopped smoking. Just seeing Karen with the cigarette in her new car, told him that she was smoking regularly otherwise, she wouldn’t want ash to fly back in her car for an occasional smoke.
Karen was inside the house when Stewart parked her new car behind the convertible Solara. He used his key and let himself inside the house. He stood there, bracing himself when Karen came running into the room to jump into his arms. It was their game that he loved and it made him feel thirty years younger.
Karen not only kissed and hugged Stewart after he got home from work. She literally leapt into his arms. Stewart absolutely loved that about her and missed it when Karen didn’t do it which only happened when she or he were carrying things into the house.
Stewart couldn’t help but smile through his anger but he still felt that he had to address the issue about the smoking though he didn’t it was necessary to rush it. “I have a surprise for you,” Stewart told Karen and she gave him a kiss and ran to look out the screen door.
Karen jumped up and down excitedly. Stewart’s chest puffed up with pride. It was the response he had hoped for when he had bought the convertible that had to be returned. Karen ran outside and jumped up and down again and Stewart followed her out dangling the keys. “Let’s go for a drive!” Karen suggested while bouncing on her toes. Stewart laughed.
Stewart listened to Karen ramble on about the car. It had begun to rain and Karen said that she like the quietness of the windshield wipers. She then wondered if she had remembered to put the top up on the Solara and Stewart told her she had. They drove around and then stopped and got some sandwiches for dinner because neither of them wanted to make dinner.
They ate dinner together and talked about work, and then Stewart felt it was time to address the smoking incident before it was too late and time for bed. “How well are you coping with the stress of the wedding my dear little one?” Stewart asked.
Karen loved being called that, even though, she didn’t feel very little. However, she missed the telltale sign and had forgotten that Stewart doesn’t use that term of endearment unless he was harboring some resentment about something. Her mind was totally focused on the car and the love she felt for him. “Believe it or not, I’m not really that stressed yet,” Karen replied and at that moment, she wasn’t stressed.
“You’re not stressed at all?” Stewart asked, hoping that Karen would admit it and tell him that was the reason she had started smoking again.
“No, I don’t think so. I probably will be. I don’t know. Maybe, I am. I haven’t had anyone to look at this house this week.”
Stewart nodded. “Have you felt the need to smoke because of it?”
Karen didn’t want to lie nor did she want to admit to smoking. She didn’t want Stewart to know that she had failed herself and him. “It’s been very hard but I haven’t started smoking because of it,” Karen answered truthfully then decided that she would finish that last pack she bought and quit again.
Stewart couldn’t hide his disappointment. Not knowing the circumstances or having the ability to read Karen’s mind to know her logic, he believed that Karen had lied to him again. Stewart shook his head at Karen.
“Karen, I told you that I would never spank you because of smoking. I didn’t think that should be the reason that you would quit and I didn’t believe it would work. But, you lying to me about it would get you spanked. I saw you with a cigarette today, driving home when I was bringing you the new car. I wear glasses but I can see very well and I saw you flick the cigarette into the street. That’s littering.”
Karen felt ashamed. She had lied though she had convinced herself that it wasn’t a lie. “You’re right. I’m sorry and I have been little stressed lately, but I had started smoking before I put this house on the market.”
“But, you let me think that you had stopped smoking and that’s the same as telling a lie, my dear little one. And, you know what you get for lying.”
Karen didn’t want to think about it but she knew the answer. She would get the belt and the hairbrush not to mention, a mouth washing, something she had never gotten from Stewart before but had been warned about. She hoped that he had forgotten that he mentioned it.
Stewart pointed to the kitchen and Karen knew that he remembered and that he was actually pointing to the bathroom adjacent to the kitchen. Karen got up and walked like she was headed to death row. Stewart followed but stopped to get a soup spoon from the drawer. He gave Karen the spoon and pointed to the soap.
Karen made a face but kept silent and just did what was expected. She squirted some liquid hand soap onto the spoon and then popped the spoon into her mouth and back out that Stewart would have missed it if he had blinked. Karen gagged and immediately began spitting out the soap. Stewart kept his arms crossed, not saying a word. He didn’t seem to think it was necessary for Karen to have to keep the soap in her mouth when she obviously had gotten the taste.
“Go back to the living room and wait for me over the couch,” Stewart ordered.
Karen grabbed a paper towel on her way to the living room and started wiping the inside of her mouth to get rid of the soap. The awful taste had brought tears to her eyes. Karen removed her pants and her glasses and bent over the arm of the couch. She hated that position because it seemed so impersonal.
Stewart walked in and stood behind Karen. She heard him unbuckling his belt and then heard the swooshing sound when he yanked the belt through the loops. Stewart didn’t like using the belt which was why it was designated to be used when Karen lied about something which would be on a very rare occasion.
Karen’s previous lovers, Larry and Ross had used the belt on her and Stewart had a problem with that. However, he and Karen had talked about it and worked through the issue, and the belt was designated to be used for punishment only and only for the most severe and rare cases. Karen didn’t think that she would ever lie to Stewart and therefore, the belt would never be used. She was wrong.
SWOOSH! SLAP! It didn’t feel like Stewart had a problem with using the belt. He was not holding back and had Karen up on her toes as soon as the belt made contact on her bare skin. Stewart waited until Karen’s feet were flat on the floor and her fingers had relaxed on the couch cushions before he swung again. The belt landed just a meter below the previous stripe on the most outer curve on Karen’s bottom and Karen was back on her toes again.
The exercises continued and Karen worked her calf muscles and then her hamstrings by kicking her legs back getting a full lower body workout. After a count of thirty, Stewart ended the spanking with the belt and gave Karen a quick rub down.
“Alright, miss, get ready for bed and I will be up for the second part of your spanking,” Stewart told Karen with a pat on her hot bottom.
Karen stood and Stewart gave her a kiss on her forehead before patting her bottom and giving her a gentle shove toward the stairs. Karen went upstairs and only looked back at Stewart just before she disappeared behind the wall. Karen took her time getting undress, considering she only had her blouse and bra to take off. She had planned to take a shower and reconsidered it because she didn’t want to get spanked on a damp bottom.
Karen donned one of Stewart’s tee shirts and sat gingerly on the end of the bed. Stewart came upstairs after securing the house for the night. He undressed quickly down to his boxers and then picked up the hairbrush and sat next to Karen. Stewart put a hand around Karen’s waist and pulled her over his lap. Stewart gave Karen six spanks with the hairbrush but Karen clenched her teeth the whole time. After the spanking, Stewart held Karen a few minutes and then they made love. Karen’s bottom had throbbed all night long.
Lori had gotten home before Jonah and Jayson. Any other time, Lori would have been relived to have her spanking delayed but she hoped that Jayson would get home before Jonah. She knew the chance of that happening was slim. Lori began preparing one of Jayson’s favorite meals. She marinated the salmon but had planned to wait until Jayson was home before grilling it on her indoor grill. Lori cut up some sweet potatoes to bake and vegetables to make a salad. Since it wasn’t Friday, the fish would be a nice surprise for Jayson.
While the potatoes cooked and the fish marinated, Lori started the laundry. Even though she had a weekly housekeeper, Lori had always preferred to do the laundry. She felt that it was too personal to have someone wash her panties, especially when she and Jayson role played and she wore some things she preferred to keep secret. However, Lori left the ironing for Maria and the sheets and towels for her to fold and put away.
Lori didn’t hear the front door opening and closing and she didn’t hear the shower running upstairs. Jonah had come home and had gone upstairs to his room. A few minutes later, she did hear the garage door open and close. A few seconds later, Jayson walked through the kitchen door.
“I’m glad to find you home in one piece,” Jayson said as soon as he saw Lori stepping out of the laundry room.
“I’m glad to be home,” Lori replied with an innocent smile.
Jayson just stared at Lori and shook his head before looking down at the floor. “What am I going to do with you?”
Lori could see the pain she had caused and walked up to Jayson. “Honey, I’m sorry that you were worried but I’m fine. It was just a flat tire.”
“Lori Anne Winchester Beard, it was not just a flat tire,” Jayson said, feeling the anger and fear he had thought he had put behind him. “You went out interviewing the family of a victim or murderer, or whoever, and to do your own investigation after, you told me that you wouldn’t be doing that.”
“I’m sorry, Jayson. It won’t happen again and my boss knows that it won’t.”
Jayson nodded his head. “She told me that you could recite to me the departmental policies about that. I want you to recite to me the rules in this house. Dinner isn’t ready right?” Lori shook her head. “Then, get upstairs.”
Lori turned on her heels and headed upstairs with Jayson on her heels. Jayson went to the bathroom while Lori placed the pillows the way he preferred them and then undressed and donned a short gown. Jayson had always preferred to spank Lori nude in the bedroom but this was Lori’s way of defying him. She climbed over the pillows with her bottom raised and her head resting on her arms.
Jayson came out of the bedroom and saw that Lori was in position. He said nothing about the gown since he knew that Jonah was home and assumed that Lori would feel more comfortable wearing the gown. He had no idea that Lori didn’t know that Jonah was home. Jayson got the Loopy Johnny because it was the quietest implement they had and turned on the television.
Lori looked back and saw what Jayson had in his hands and felt like scurrying off to safety but she stayed in position. She pulled the pillows to her and buried her head into the pillows. Jayson then asked Lori to recite the very words that she had promised.
“I will leave police work to the police and mind my business of this house.” Lori recited. “I will not risk my safety and well-being investigating and visiting crime scenes but I didn’t,” Lori protested and Jayson swung the Loopy Johnny.
The sting of the implement had Lori screaming inside her head though she made some loud grunts. She couldn’t remember if there were other rules but made promises that she would obey them. Jayson spanked up and down Lori’s buttocks and thighs but he concentrated on her bottom. Lori’s feet did a jig on the bed. When she started shaking, Jayson ended the spanking.
Jonah had come out the bathroom in the hallway, and thought his brother and Lori were, having sex. He could hear the television and the occasional grunts with some light slapping but he never considered that Lori was getting spanked. He shook his head and walked downstairs with his dirty laundry.
After the spanking, Jayson cuddled with Lori and rubbed her back. He wanted to make love but his stomach wanted food. “Can we have dinner now?” Jayson asked.
Lori rolled her eyes but nodded her head and rolled out of bed. She got and dressed in a soft cotton sweat suit and then slipped on a pair of flip flops. Jayson put on a pair of lounging boxers and a tee shirt and followed Lori downstairs. They were both surprised to see Jonah sitting at the table eating a bowl of Special K cereal.
“Uhm, sorry, I’m starving and I knew that you were busy,” Jonah said with a smirk and scooped another spoonful of cereal and shoved it into his mouth.
“Oh my god,” Lori said and turned to Jayson. “You knew he was here?”
Jayson mouth opened and closed. “I took precautions but this isn’t my fault. You can’t expect me to ignore your behavior and not address it.”
“Hey guys,” Jonah called out. “I didn’t see anything, okay. People have sex. It’s no big deal.” Jonah pushed back from the table. “Maybe, I should get a hotel.”
“No, Jonah,” Lori said, feeling less embarrassed, believing that Jonah thought she and Jayson were making love instead of him spanking her. “It’s fine. I don’t want you to leave until you have a place on your own and there is no rush for you to do that.”
“Thanks,” Jonah replied. “I didn’t mean to embarrass you.”
“It’s alright. Are you still hungry? I was about to make dinner, grilled salmon.”
Jonah smiled. “I’ll finish this up but I’ll have room for salmon.” Jonah went back to eating the cereal.
“I’m sure you will,” Jayson teased then joined his brother at the table while Lori cooked.
Jayson and Jonah looked at each other and started laughing about their earlier conversation about hanging a scarf on the door when the other was having sex. Lori looked at the brothers and wondered if they were laughing at her.
“You make a beautiful bride,” she said with an evil smile but Lydia was distraught by the knowledge that her left ring finger was cut off.
Lydia looked down at the now cauterized wound that throbbed with pain. She closed her eyes and remembered being told to use the cigar cutter to cut off her finger. Her hair was yanked and twisted and she had a knife at her throat but she couldn’t do it. Her hair was released and then she felt the needle pierce her neck. She welcomed the sleep that came with the drug.
Lydia’s body responded to the amputation with a spasm but Lydia didn’t wake. Her body jumped again when the searing metal touched the skin to cauterize the flesh to stop the bleeding.
This was a new method for her. She wanted this bride to cut off her finger. She had cut off the fingers of the other brides just before they died but right after the heart had slowed and the blood had stopped pumping through the body. There wasn’t any arterial spray but there was some bleeding that she was able to clean up.
This time, she had believed that it would be much more interesting to watch the bride cut her finger, the venus amoria, the heart line. However, Lydia wouldn’t do it and she couldn’t do it with Lydia watching her, so she put her to sleep. It was better that way. It gave her time to go back to the All County Pet Crematorium to witness the cremation process of the dead dog she had found on the street. She had convinced the director that she had to be there for the process.
It was rare but the director had allowed others to witness the process. She watched the assistant turned on the switch that wheeled the metal tray inside the oven. She watched carefully as he pushed the buttons then when that part was done, she had asked to get some air and was directed to a room in the back. She saw the utility room and knew that the circuit breaker had to be in there. She looked around quickly and found the small metal box with the copper pipes. She saw the back door and the alarm box. It was a standard lock that could easily be picked with the right kind of tools.
After the cremation, she drove back home to Lydia and found her awake and crying about her finger. She told her to put back on the wedding dress or she would cut off her hands. Lydia obeyed. She gave her the shoes to don but Lydia couldn’t get the two-sizes too small shoes on her feet. She made Lydia carry them out back to another garage where she tried her up and gagged her.
Lydia had stopped fighting. She had just wanted to be freed and she believed that if she just did what she was told, she wouldn’t get hurt anymore and maybe she would be let go. She sat in the chair and allowed to be tied easily but she didn’t want the gagged. Her hair was pulled and she opened her mouth and the scarf was shoved between her teeth and tied.
Lydia tried to scream when she saw the large metal canisters and the tubes running from them. She watched the woman hook the tubes into a cuff and then onto a face mask. She watched her walk toward her and put the mask over her face. Then, the woman turned on a switch and the gas flowed through the tubes and into the face mask. Lydia felt so sleepy and her head was pounding and then she felt nauseous.
“If you need to vomit, do it now,” Lydia was ordered but she had always hated to throw up and she swallowed back the bile.
“It’s time to take you home,” Lydia heard and she desperately wanted to believe that.
Lydia was untied and helped to her feet. She was made to carry the shoes in her hands and they felt like heavy bricks. She could barely walk on her noodle-like legs but she allowed herself to be supported and she walked to the van and climbed inside. She fell asleep and when she awoke, she could barely move. Her head felt so heavy. Lydia was only in the van ten minutes but it felt much longer. She didn’t have much strength but, she used her feet to kick the side of the van.
She was able to jimmy the lock, thanks to watching online videos on how to pick a lock and buying the equipment needed to do it. She got the door open quickly and then ran swiftly to the utility room and hit the breaker switch to turn off the power. The alarm stopped beeping. She waited a moment then turned the power back on but the alarm remained silent because it needed the code to be reset.
She left the door open when she ran back to the van. She heard Lydia kicking and she was pleased about that. It wasn’t loud enough to be heard in a distance but it let her know that Lydia still had enough strength to walk. She opened the van doors and told Lydia to pick up the shoes. She practically dragged Lydia to the building. She didn’t notice that Lydia had dropped one of the shoes and it landed in the shadows of the bushes.
Lydia was like a docile puppy. She shuffled her feet and allowed herself to be partially dragged to the cremation room. She could feel the warmth in the room. She didn’t know where she was but she was so tired. She welcomed the cool metal gurney and curled on her side. She hoped that she was in a hospital as she listened to the soft orders telling her what to do.
Lydia felt the gurney moving. She tried to open her eyes but the room was too bright and her eyes were too heavy. She felt the heat then closed her eyes for good. Lydia began to dream about being at a picnic. The smell reminded her of a barbecue on a hot summer day. She was dead before the flames licked her dress and melted it to her skin. She never screamed.