It has been two weeks since Nicola Flynn visited Sir Elias Fortescue in his Sussex home. She is currently in Dublin, undertaking a course to improve her management skills with a view to moving into the Personnel Department. She is re-energised and now looks like realising the promise she showed when first recruited.
There have been no adverse consequences from his unconventional inspirational tactics and he is ready to entertain another employee. He considered summoning Fay Porter to the London house, but the focus of the meeting would be better served by meeting in the relative seclusion of his rural base.
She arrives dressed as if going to work. She’s not sure why she is here.
Sir Elias greets her then leaves her to cool her heels in the drawing room. The tactic worked well with Nicola and he assumes it will do the same with Fay.
‘Remind me,’ he says as he re-enters the room, ‘how did you describe yourself at your interview?’
She is caught off-guard by the question but reiterates the speech she had rehearsed and delivered just six months ago: she is a good all-rounder, wants to be in a profession where she can progress on merit and be given lots of opportunities both in work and in a social context.
‘Ah yes, you felt you would be a positive influence because of your sporting interests. I believe you joined the netball team?’ He is answered by a quizzical nod. ‘And since you joined the team, how many games has it won?’
‘The week you were seconded to Bradford I believe?’ Another nod.
‘I hear the coach is very disappointed, both with your performance and the negative effect you’ve had on the team. She’s asked me to take you in hand. And, quite frankly, if you don’t shape up on the netball pitch, I will take it to be an indication of your potential in the bank. I’ve invited you here today so you can demonstrate your commitment. Hands on your head.’
Confused, she obeys. Sir Elias moves to the bookcases lining the room and browses. ‘Stretch out your arms.’
He places a heavy book on each of her outstretched hands. ‘You need stamina and determination to succeed.’ He leaves her struggling to maintain the pose while he pretends to look for a specific volume. When he can tell she is about to drop her arms he relieves her of her burden and resumes his lecture.
‘I’m told you are not as fit as you ought to be if you are serious about your sport. Raise your skirt so I can see your thighs. Higher, I need to see the tops of your legs.’
She is embarrassed, but complies, telling herself that it is no different to playing in her shorts or wearing a bikini on the beach. He orders her to march around the room, skirt held high as he criticises her posture and her build, breaking down her confidence so that when he orders her to go into the next room and change into the clothes she finds there, she has no will to protest.
In a way it is a relief to change into a familiar sports kit; she is comfortable in the short kilt and polo shirt and the white plimsolls and knee socks make her feel nimble.
Sir Elias puts her through her paces: running on the spot, stretches and star jumps. She is puzzled that she should be carrying out these exercises on a Saturday morning at his house, but she is young and keen to be accepted. Sir Elias is being very rough with her, both physically and verbally.
When he drags her into the garden to continue her physical jerks she relishes the fresh air, but the exercises become more demanding. While executing a handstand, she is flabbergasted to have her ankles grabbed and her buttocks vigorously slapped.
‘It’s very naughty to waste opportunities,’ Sir Elias informs her. ‘Come inside and receive your punishment.’
He reverts to the format he employed with Nicola. When bidden, Fay brings a chair to the centre of the room and allows herself to be draped over her employer’s lap. He is surprised at her acquiescence and the way she accepts a vigorous spanking with just quiet mewlings. She makes no real protest until he pulls down the white cotton panties, the affront to her modesty proving more devastating than the discomfort of her physical chastisement.
Elias Fortescue maintains his rhythm as his hand descends on the meaty curves of her rump. These are definitely the buttocks of a sports enthusiast, high and taut, but he berates her nevertheless for not taking care of her physique. She is aware not so much of pain as of heat: a not unpleasant glow that spreads gradually, but then builds and suddenly becomes unbearable.
With a determined lurch she pushes herself up from her punisher’s lap and finally begins to protest at his treatment of her. She threatens legal action and exposure in the workplace, but her threats are more of a childish tantrum than genuine intent.
‘Listen, young madam,’ the older man intones, interrupting her paddy, ‘you were employed on the basis that you had something to contribute in the office and on the sports field. If you want to stay employed, you will take your punishment, reflect and improve. Now bend over the chair.’
Hands resting on the seat, legs stretched out behind, Fay presents her thighs and bottom as a continuous target. The cane is raised. Fay hears it slice through the air and bucks as it cruelly bites into her tender flesh. The banker realises that she does not have the resilience of some of his older subjects, but already his imagination is projecting forward to other, more intense encounters with the girl.
‘I will deliver three more strokes,’ he tells her. ‘They will be severe, but nothing you cannot tolerate. They will leave marks on your behind that will remind you every day for a week that you have been punished for not living up to your promises, and when they fade you will work hard to ensure they do not have to be replaced.’
The second stroke bites an inch above the first and the next falls an inch below. Both cause Fay to cry out and to buck lewdly. Sir Elias can smell the sweet scent of her scorched flesh. The final stroke lands low, cutting into the crease marking the merging of buttock and thigh. That tramline weal will last the longest and be the most sensitive, but Fay doesn’t know that yet. To her, it is just one more streak of ice and fire etching itself into her delicate skin and permeating deep into the muscle.
When she is sufficiently composed to be able to stand, Sir Elias orders her to remove the knickers still stranded at half-mast. She hands them over without demur.
‘Take off your shirt.’ She does so.
‘Now lose the skirt.’ A moment’s hesitation; a sob of resignation.
She stands, awkward and embarrassed in her bra, socks and gym shoes, humiliated as Sir Elias once more places a book on each of her outstretched hands and leaves the room.
‘I have set a timer for five minutes. When it goes off you may change into your own clothes and leave,’ he tells her over his shoulder.
Five minutes can be a very long time when you are almost naked, you are supporting unbearable weights and your flesh is burning. It is a long time to think about how you can fit in an extra visit to the gym and to visualise the tactics that will help your team win their next match.