‘I can only apologise again and tell you that I guarantee that Michelle will be fully satisfactory. And totally without cost to yourself, of course. And, if you give me sufficient notice of your next function, I shall let you have two of my best girls free of charge also.’
The deep voice is muffled by the door, but Fleur Blondel can hear every word. She trembles.
‘Naturally,’ the voice continues, ‘you are a highly valued client and I am deeply embarrassed by this incident. The matter will be dealt with immediately and appropriately.’
She hears the ‘ping’ of a replaced telephone receiver and responds with alacrity when summoned to enter Robert Hemmings’ office. The desk separates them, but not for long. Her boss stands and tells her to come to closer. In his hand he holds the notes he has been making during his telephone conversation. He is displeased.
‘Fleur, I don’t know what you think you were doing, but my girls do not visit clients dressed as if they am about to weed the garden.’
As he speaks, he tugs at her baggy beige jumper and eyes her jeans disdainfully.
‘This company is called Geisha Girls GB: we provide educated, charming, obliging young women to high-income businessmen requiring secretarial or hostess services. We do not supply call-girls or charladies — and we most definitely do not send out students trying to make a few shillings in their spare time which is the image you seem to want to promote!’
She hangs her head.
‘Well?’ he bellows. ‘Is there an explanation for your strange appearance?’
‘I was going home to change. I stopped off to explain I was coming to the function and would be back in an hour, fully prepared, but Mr King assumed I was reporting for work and flew into a temper. I didn’t get a chance to explain, he just told me to come straight here and he’d be ringing you.’
‘Well, he certainly did ring me! Do you realise that he and his business hold a minimum of two big dinners a month and entertain around six overseas visitors in the same period? He always books at least two girls for each occasion and, until now, he has always been extremely happy with the calibre of our girls. I just hope Michelle can repair the damage you have done.’
There is a silence. Robert Hemmings will not speak again until Fleur has given an account of herself.
‘Look, I know he’s an important client: that’s why I went out of my way to let him know when I would be arriving. I’ve worked with you long enough to know what’s expected. I was just trying to be professional.’
She is trying to sound positive and matter-of-fact, but her voice has a strained quality. She needs this job. Just one booking a month brings her meagre student grant up to subsistence level; a second provides her with a generous amount of spending money. All that is required of her is intelligent, but unchallenging, conversation, some basic waitressing and an occasional massage. It is all very proper, despite the ribald teasing of some of her friends.
‘If you really wanted to be professional: her employer counters, ‘you would invest in a mobile phone and ensure you were always dressed in a manner that would allow you to go to any booking at a moment’s notice. And you never, ever go anywhere near a client if you are not dressed and ready for work. If you hope to stay with GGGB, I think we had better pay some attention to your manner and appearance. Lift up that sweater.’
Fleur has heard rumours of how Mr Hemmings deals with girls who let down the reputation of the company. He punishes them; humiliates them; makes them resolve never to displease him again. She is not sure what is involved: not sex, there is never any sexual activity between his employees and himself or the clients. Even overt flirting can lead to instant dismissal. No, whatever the punishment might be, it is personal and intimate in a way that makes its recipients reluctant to go into detail.
She bites her lip and raises her jumper.
‘Oh, great,’ he mocks, ‘an uplift bra; very sophisticated. What do you think…?’
The sentence is never finished. Fleur’s hand shoots up reflexively and strikes her taunting employer fully on his cheek.
‘If you think it’s so wonderful, Fleur, get the sweater off so we can fully appreciate it.’
Slowly, reluctantly, she raises the sweater over her head, leaving it there for a moment to steel herself for the ordeal. She shouldn’t have struck him. She shouldn’t have visited the client, for whatever reason, if she wasn’t ready for work.
‘So what else do you have to show me? Hemmings asks. Already, he has the zip of her jeans lowered and the waistband pulled open.
‘Red and white cotton? I don’t believe it! What are they meant to be — French knickers, boxer shorts or a donation to a charity shop? You’d better invest some of your future earnings — should you make any — on a decent set of underwear. Hen parties and mail order catalogues are not the most sophisticated purveyors of lingerie.’
Fleur is blushing. Fleur is shivering with shame and anger. Robert Hemmings has not reacted to the slap on his face, but she knows he intends to make her regret her rashness. Whatever she has to go through, she wants to get it over and get back to work.
‘Right, let’s set about instilling a few lessons. If you don’t want to learn them the door is over there, but don’t bother trying to contact the agency again. You want to stay? Okay, let’s get these jeans out of the way — no, not off, just to your knees. Now get across my lap.’
So this is the reason the girls don’t discuss Hemmings’ sanctions. A whole team of attractive, articulate women kept in line by a bottom-spanking! It was hardly something you’d admit to. Fleur has never been spanked: she imagines it will be embarrassing but endurable; certainly preferable to losing her job. She drapes herself across his lap and feels him take a grip on the back of her bra.
His hand is heavy but the speed with which it descends makes its impact on her soft flesh sharp and hot. After the moment of contact, a spray of silvery tingles dance on the spot, only to be scattered by another resounding slap.
She was right: it is more embarrassing than painful. She resolves to remain silent and still for however long it lasts but, after the first few spanks, she hears quiet groans coming from her throat and feels herself rocking on her employer’s thighs.
When he pulls down the despised pants and strikes directly on her bare flesh, her face screws up into an ugly grimace, her voice produces an off-key wail and she writhes without caution as the tormenting hand rises and falls on her shocked behind.
Fleur cannot see her boss’ face, but it is impassive. Her gyrations and cries have no visible effect on him; an observer would surmise he is performing some tedious but necessary task for the sake of his business — akin to filling in VAT forms, perhaps. In truth, he is already bored. Fleur is too compliant for his tastes. He had hoped for more fire and had been encouraged by her slapping his face, but that seems to have been the extent of her rebellion. Very well, but if she is so prepared to suffer, he will at least make sure that she suffers thoroughly!
‘Seems to me you’re having too much fun; get over the desk, I’m not having you bringing yourself off on my lap.’
Fleur wants to protest that she is very far from ‘bringing herself off’ but she cannot form articulate words. So she shuffles to the desk and bends across it without demur.
Once more her bra is roughly grasped and the broad palm of Simon Hemmings re-commences her punishment.
The altered position stresses the delineation between her buttocks and thighs and makes the tender, reddened mounds judder at each swipe. She is reaching a point where her spanking has been so thorough that fresh slaps are having little effect. From experience Hemmings knows that, despite the burning, tingling, throbbing ache in her nether regions, there is almost a feeling of boredom creeping in.
‘So, do you think you’ll remember how to approach a client in future?’ he asks.
‘Yes, I won’t stop off before my booking or wear anything other than ‘work clothes’,’ Fleur hisses.
‘Good. Now let’s reinforce that message. Stay where you are.’
He goes around the desk and takes something unrecognised by Fleur from a drawer.
‘This leather paddle will help your bottom retain the lesson and save my hand from further discomfort,’ her employer informs her as he seizes her bra yet again and raises the weapon to his shoulder.
There is no tedium now. As the broad bat strikes, Fleur shrieks in protest. It is heavy, hot, merciless. She wails her fear even as it begins its next trajectory and by the fifth swat she abandons any attempt to keep her dignity and wantonly howls and bucks under its tutelage.
When he can find no more unmarked flesh on her actual bottom-cheeks, Simon Hemmings methodically deals with the backs of her thighs so that a scarlet trail leads all the way to her knees.
Fleur has no idea how long the paddling lasts or how many blows are struck. She knows only the heat and shock of each strike joining and blending with its predecessors. Tears spill freely from behind tight shut eyes; hands cover her face; teeth bite into her clenched fist in an effort to distract her mind from the agony elsewhere.
And then it stops. It takes a moment for it to register that her bra is no longer pulled taut around her chest, that the rhythmic attack on her rear has ceased. She sobs pathetically, slumped over her desk, unable to make her body move to a more comfortable or modest position.
Eventually she is ordered to stand upright. She expects a lecture and is not surprised by the monologue her boss delivers. The key words ‘professional, smart, subservient, sophisticated, pleasing…’ swim through her consciousness, but the soreness pulsating between her waist and knees interferes with the concentration.
‘You also need to pay attention when you are being spoken to.’ There is menace in his tone. Fleur Blondel realises too late that her mind has wandered and eyes with dread the implement she knows to be a cane that has mysteriously appeared in Mr Hemmings’ hand. She has no experience of canes but knows as if through atavistic memory that it will hurt and that the pain will be greater than anything she has suffered yet.
‘Hold your hands straight in front of you, palms up, left on right.’
It takes a moment for her to work out the instruction but as her arms move away from her body, her eyes widen in trepidation. The cane rushes through the air and slices into her outstretched hand: nothing could have prepared her for the sensation. Her whole body is frozen by the cut, held rigid as her brain tries to decipher the cold/hot silver streaks coursing through her arm and chest. Before she can make sense of the assault, the cane has struck again and this time her palm curls and her arms grasp her torso.
Unmoved as ever Simon Hemmings order her to take up the position again, this time with her right hand on top. Forewarned by the recent experience, she tenses her whole body in anticipation of the ordeal to come. The cane hisses down, ignoring the impediment of her hands to complete its parabolic curve. The impact drags her hands down, bending her body forward and she stays thus until told to stand again.
It is impossible for her to hold her palms open any longer, and the second blow is dealt with less force in order to actually reach its reduced target. Is it over now?
Of course not. Having drawn attention to her body and how it should be presented, Hemmings tells her he now intends to discipline her mind and attitude. When he tells her to strip she does so as speedily as her suffering hands will permit. She is a geisha, a handmaid; she does as she is told and is desperate to demonstrate the fact.
‘And now we will play a game of Simon Says,’ Simon says. ‘You know the rules: if I say “Simon says do something” you do it immediately. If I don’t begin an order with “Simon says…” you ignore it and carry on with the previous command.’ He smirks at the submissive young woman, so desperate now to please him. ‘Simon says stretch.’
Instantly her arms raise above her head, her legs spread wide.
For a full twenty minutes she marches on the spot, jumps up and down, squats, caresses her breasts, bends over to expose herself, dances, grovels… in short, she does exactly as she is told, no more or no less.
The scorching from the earlier punishment gradually dissipates and now her main obsession is the fine film of perspiration coating her lithe body.
‘I see a definite improvement in your attitude.’ Simon Hemmings murmurs approvingly ‘Simon says, bend over and touch the floor.’
Robot-like she does so, assuming it to be just another meaningless command. ‘Stand up,’ she hears and is about to comply when she realises the important prefix is missing. As she half-rises, then resumes the proper pose, she hears the cane whistle towards her. Its bite makes her lurch forward.
‘Simon says you are going to take six strokes of the cane and not move out of position or make any noise.’
Simon is right: she takes the strokes, struggling not to topple over, straighten up or howl in painful protest.
As the sixth stroke lands, she receives her final command.
‘Simon says pick up your clothes and get out of my office.’
As she stands, she replays the order in her mind. It is perfectly clear, she is to get dressed somewhere else: the reception area, the corridor, the ladies’ room… Somebody may see her scurrying out of the door, she might drop something…
There is no alternative. She had been given her instructions and must carry them out without question. As she leaves, clutching her bundle of clothes tightly to her body, Simon Hemmings is already making a call, letting a disappointed client know that Fleur Blondel will not be available for a week. He explains she has just been on a training course to improve her already exceptional skills and she needs a period of rest and study for the lessons to take effect. In the meantime, he can supply a highly suitable substitute.