By: Natasha Knight

It was silent for some time before Julian spoke.

"Our second child was stillborn," he said. "Helen blamed herself and I didn't see the guilt she was carrying until it was too late. We were both suffering and we had our daughter to take care of." Julian put a hand on her knee and squeezed. "Guilt left unpunished will devour you from the inside out."

She nodded. She knew that well.

"Do you need to be punished, Gabrielle?" he said so quietly she was sure she’d misunderstood.

"What?" she asked, swallowing hot tears.

"Do you need me to punish you?" he asked.

"I don’t understand," she said, confused.

"Nothing to understand. Eat your dinner now, we’ll talk later when we have more privacy," he said as Luciana placed their plates in front of them and quickly left.

"Tell me about your daughter," she said, forcing a bite of ravioli into her mouth, trying to put the strange conversation out of her mind. "What's her name?"

"Brigitte," his face lit up when he said her name. "She’s charming, clever and a carbon copy of her mother in so many ways." He reached for his wallet and brought out a picture. "This is just a few weeks ago," he explained. "She was in a play so she’s in period costume."

"An actress," Gabrielle said, the conversation lifting her spirits.

"Definitely. I’m quite proud of her. We're very close, although she battles like her mother used to!"

They both giggled and she noticed that he kept his eyes on her the entire time he spoke. It was as if he were gauging her reactions, trying to figure her out. They finished their meal and as he helped her stand, he said, "I meant what I said earlier, I won't judge you."

Their eyes locked for a long time. "What did you mean about punishing me?" a voice that sounded very much like her own asked.


Chapter Three


"Shall we have a drink in my room? It's just a little farther than yours," he asked. "We can talk about that."

"All right," she answered, unsure what she should be thinking.

They walked past her room to another building farther from the main house. "Its' only me in this building," he said, reaching into his pocket for the key. He unlocked and opened the door, inviting her in as he switched on a light.

"This is lovely," she said, looking around the small apartment. She walked straight to the French doors leading to the back patio. Taking a bottle of wine and two glasses, he opened the doors and they stepped outside.

"Wow," she said, turning to take in the panoramic view. She could see the side of the building she was housed in but there weren't any windows facing in this direction.

"Join me," he said, holding out a glass and offering her a seat next to him.

She did, sipping the wine.

He got right into it. "I've stopped wondering if I could have saved my wife," he began. "But I know for a fact that guilt left unpunished is like an open wound. It will fester and infect everything else around it. No living being can thrive much less survive under those conditions."

She drank a big swallow of her wine.

"I'll punish you, if you allow me to."

"I don't understand. Punish me how?" she asked.

"I'll give you physical pain, a spanking to start for example, to help alleviate your guilt. You'll take pain, as you believe you've caused pain."

"I don't think a spanking is what I need," she chuckled, unsure how to react to this strange conversation.

"I can use my belt if you prefer."

She swallowed hard, but his face told her he wasn't joking.

"You're serious," she said.

He blinked, allowing her time to process.

"I've never been spanked," she said, surprising herself.

"You'd have a safe word, two actually."


"A safe word, one to tell me if it's getting to be too much and a second to say stop," he said, finishing the last of his wine. "You'd be safe all along, knowing you'd have the ability to stop the scene at all times."

"Did you spank your wife?" She was sorry as soon as the words left her mouth.

He exhaled and took a moment to answer. "This is about you and me, not my wife."

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