Saturday, August 14, 2010


Ben was fretting and we hadn’t even started the journey yet. I sighed in resignation. It had been harder and harder to get Ben out of the office lately. He came home at 8 pm on Monday and collapsed in an exhausted heap on the sofa, where he promptly fell asleep. I confiscated his car keys on Tuesday and fetched him from work myself. Otherwise I would probably have eaten dinner alone and gone to bed alone too.

“I need to finish off just one more thing tomorrow morning,” Ben pleaded over dinner on Tuesday night. “I will go in early and be back by eleven, or twelve latest.”

I raised an eyebrow. “We talked about this Ben.”

I was determined we would leave on Wednesday as planned.

“Well ... “he flushed guiltily. “I’m sorry Philip but something came up at the last minute with ...”


Ben squirmed in his seat. “Well actually I need to go in and check over Sally’s work.”


“Because I didn’t have time to do it today and I just want to be sure she has closed her accounts properly.” Ben didn’t say it but he threw me a look which I was to correctly surmise that he wouldn’t have been in this predicament if I hadn’t made him leave the office early.

“Isn’t your office closed starting tomorrow? I thought you gave everyone the extra two days off? Will anyone even be there?” I asked.

“Um …” he flushed even more. “No, everyone’s taken off.”

“Is there anything urgent or outstanding then?”

“Only Sally’s.”

I shook my head. “You were supposed to fire Sally weeks ago.”

We had had this conversation before. Sally was a liability and Ben had agreed to let her go. I had given him plenty of time to plan ahead and he had promised me he would take care of it. In fact we had gone over the plan together.

What had happened to the plan?

“I couldn’t help it,” Ben declared hotly, pushing his half-eaten meal away. “She has a demanding client … I can’t just move her out.”

“Ben,” I said, pushing his plate towards him. “Sally’s client is demanding because her work is tardy and you are stressed because she is inefficient. We’ve been through this and you know it very well. Checking over her work tomorrow morning isn’t going to make any difference. Most of your clients’ offices will either be closed or throwing parties at this time anyway. Now finish your dinner and then we’re going to finish packing.”

“One hour!” Ben tried desperately. “I promise I will be back in just one hour.”

“Benjamin!” I was beginning to lose my patience. “Is there a deadline which you have missed?”

He sat up straighter when he heard his full name. “Not really, but …”

“Then no,” I said quietly. I tapped the plate warningly. “Finish eating.”

“But why can’t ...”

I stood up. “Ben, do you want a spanking?”

He swallowed. “No.”

I looked at him for a moment then said softly, “Then do as you are told.”

He sighed and began to eat.


Philip could be incredibly stubborn sometimes. But I guess that’s his job as my Top. Not that that made me like the situation more … a couple of hours in the office wouldn’t have killed him. I had so many things which I had wanted to do. Which I could have done ahead of the holidays. I liked to feel I was ahead.

My mind swiftly went over the tasks I had planned. In all honesty, most could wait till after the holidays but there were a couple of minor things I wanted to finish up desperately. I hated loose ends. Thank God Philip hadn’t said no when I had brought my laptop with me. I had quickly placed it in the boot along with our bags when we were loading up the car, a wary eye on Philip. After what had happened in the morning, I was half convinced he would ban the laptop totally.

Well, what happened was I woke up and stole out of bed before dawn. What was I supposed to do when I couldn’t sleep? Instead of just lying there, I could make better use of my time, which was what I did in the study downstairs. I was hardly on my computer for ten minutes when I felt my arm grabbed, my body yanked up and a series of hard swats on my poorly protected behind.

Philip was not pleased at all.

“What are you doing?”

Damn! His hair tousled was just too damn hot!

“W-work?” I managed weakly, rubbing my ass with my palm. It stung!

“Shut it down, and get back upstairs!” he ordered in that kind of tone that made my toes curl and my insides mushy. “Now!”

And for good measure he landed another two sharp slaps on the exact same spot.

I was marched back into bed, where he turned me away from him and spooned me close to his warm body. His arms were so tight and solid around me that it made me feel incredibly safe. I really didn’t need to be anywhere else. Nothing was falling apart. I could afford to sleep in and I had earned myself a holiday.

I breathed easier as the miles separated us from home and I began to feel more relaxed. I was really excited about the coming week and meeting everyone. Luckily for me, Philip’s family wasn’t large. There was his dad Ted, and his mom Mary. Together they ran a small gift-delivering business from their home. Philip’s younger brother Peter had just finished law school and was interning at a local law firm. Peter was still single and stayed at home with his parents, so with us arriving there would be five of us. Philip assured me there would be plenty of room.

Philip reached out and took my hand and placed it on his thigh as he drove. “We’re almost there.” He sounded excited.

I smiled back at him. “Is Stewart’s house around here?”

I wondered if Marcus had arrived at Stewart’s place; they had started out a bit earlier than us. Both Marcus and I had been kind of apprehensive about the holidays and meeting our partners’ folks. Well frankly, I hadn’t had time to worry about it too much but suddenly I got nervous as we neared Ashley Downs. Meeting Philip’s family suddenly took over all other considerations and any worries I had had about the office or my unfinished work flew out of my mind.

“They’re just a few minutes away from us,” Philip said.

I chewed my lower lip. “They should have arrived by now.”

Philip gave my hand a squeeze.

“I wonder how Marcus is faring,” I voiced my thoughts out loud.

Philip chuckled. “Don’t worry, darling. Everything’s going to be fine.”

He always knew what I meant.

Philip began to point out some of the sights. The town we were passing was neatly arranged and had a good mix of old and new. I looked forward to exploring it and learning more of its history. I held my breath as we slowed down and finally came to a stop in front of a tall double-storey house behind a white picket fence.

“Home,” Philip announced simply.

I helped Philip retrieve our bags from the boot, guiltily slipping my laptop onto my shoulder and followed him up the drive. The front door was unlocked and we let ourselves in.

“Mom!” Philip hollered. “Dad?”

“There you are dear.”

A plump middle-aged woman appeared, followed closely by an older gentleman, both smiling broadly. They engulfed Philip in hugs and kisses while I stayed close to the wall, watching. And then I gulped as Philip pulled me forward and presented me to his parents.

“Hello Ben,” Mary Cullen said enthusiastically, and gave me an equally strong hug that squeezed the breath out from my lungs. “Welcome to our home, my dear.”

I decided I liked her immediately. She was incredibly gracious and warm and reminded me of my own mom.

Philip’s dad held my hand in a strong grasp and gave me a friendly pat on the back. His eyes beamed at me behind round glasses, and I had a strong suspicion he missed very little. His manner however was very engaging and welcoming too, and I found myself responding to his smiling eyes.

Mary fussed around us, bundling us upstairs into our room, which Philip told me later had been made up with special attention. There was even a bowl of winter flowers on a side table. We were left alone for a few minutes to unpack and once the door was closed, I melted into Philip’s arms.


Breakfast was always my favourite meal when I was home and this was no exception. Mom made us pancakes with wild honey, grilled pork sausages, smoked baked beans and scrambled eggs. Two steaming cups of coffee stood ready next to the plates.

Ben’s eyes grew round when he saw our plates. “Breakfast?” he mouthed at me.

I nodded and grinned back at him.

Peter rushed in. “No time for breakfast today, mom. I overslept!”

Mom pushed him firmly into his seat. “You are not leaving till you’ve at least had a bite and some milk.”

“Mom!” Peter protested even as he picked up his glass of milk. “Mr Rogers frowns even if I am five minutes late!”

“You tell old man Rogers to call me if he has a problem,” mom stated calmly as she flipped a pancake onto Peter’s plate. She still treated him like a kid. That’s for not moving out I guess. He would be her baby till he got married.

Peter wolfed down his breakfast, drained his glass and winked at Ben as he got to his feet. “Don’t let her bully you too much, Ben,” he whispered loudly, gesturing to mom. “My brother will be hopeless to protect you.”

Peter skipped out of the way as both mom and I reached for him. Laughing cheekily, he slammed the front door with a shout back at us, “I will be back early to help with dinner”.

It would be a busy day preparing dinner for twelve persons and Ben and I planned to pitch in. Besides the Spencer clan, another long-time family friend, Robert, would also be coming. It was a standing arrangement for Robert – he wouldn’t miss Christmas Eve dinner with us for anything.

Dad had a few deliveries to run that day and after breakfast he left. He had one part-time staff whom he employed during holidays and festive periods like this, when the gift exchanges were at a peak. On normal days, he and mom usually did all the gift deliveries themselves. This was their retirement plan and they didn’t make a lot of money out of the business but that was not the point. They had enough in their retirement fund to be comfortable, plus whatever I sent them. The business kept them busy and occupied and young. I was totally supportive of the idea.

After we had cleared up the breakfast dishes, mom got down to some serious cooking. She was a wonderful cook and she loved planning this meal every year.

“What do you need us to do?” I asked, tying an apron around my waist. Ben tried not to giggle.

“Josie is doing the traditional roast turkey for tomorrow,” mom said, already moving swiftly around her kitchen to retrieve all kinds of things, “so we are going to have roast beef tonight. Oh Ben, do put on an apron as well ... I don’t want you to ruin that lovely jumper.”

She handed Ben a bright yellow apron and continued without missing a beat. “There’s also a glazed ham – you’ll like that Philip! I believe it will go excellently with these squash. Look how fresh they are! Dad got them just yesterday. I found a new recipe which I am going to try out ... come here Ben, let me fix that.”

She turned him around and secured the apron tightly around his waist, giving him a gentle smack on his behind when she was done. Ben flushed and his eyes darted to me in alarm. I smirked and winked back. He didn’t have time to get embarrassed however; we were soon busily engrossed in shelling peas, chopping onions and peeling potatoes.

Dad wandered in a few hours later, and took over from us.

“Go on now,” he said as he waved us away. “Go do something a bit more fun than chopping nuts.”

“Yes, that’s a good idea. They’ve been a great help all morning, Ted,” Mom chimed in. “We’ve got an extra pair of hands this year you know.” She smiled conspiratorially at Ben, who turned bright red. “He is just the sweetest. I am so glad you brought him home, Philip.”

Ben looked like he would have liked to disappear.

“I’m glad I brought him home too,” I said. I raised my arms and stretched my back. “Are you sure you don’t need us any more?”

“Yes dear,” mom insisted. “I have just put the roast in. All that’s left is to prepare the vegetables and sauces. The desserts were done yesterday.”

“All right,” I said, happy to escape from the kitchen. “Just call if you need us. Come on Ben.”

“There’s chocolate cake in the pantry,” mom called out.


Ben and I cut out a large slice and shared it, and then we curled up in the big bay window seat next to the living room. Even though it was still bright outside, the corner was cold so I fetched a blanket and added a couple more logs into the fire. We had one of those old-fashioned fireplaces that used real firewood and Ben loved it.

“I love your house,” Ben whispered into my ear.

I wrapped my arm around him and hugged him. “That’s the chocolate talking,” I teased.

“No, really. It’s lovely. Your family is lovely.”

“Mom can be a bit ... overwhelming. Sometimes.”

Ben gave a gurgle of laughter. “She reminds me of my mom actually. Speaking of whom, I should call her.”

He didn’t budge an inch.

I leaned over to kiss his lips. He tasted so sweet. “I’m so happy I brought you home with me,” I said and I meant every word of that. I couldn’t imagine another Christmas without Ben at home with my family.

“Me too.” He kissed me back, a little fiercely. “What time is Peter coming home?”

“Why?” I pretended to be jealous and pushed him down, pinning him to the window seat. “Miss him already?”

“No,” he grinned. “Didn’t want him walking in on us ...”

I moved so that I was lying on top of Ben and pulled the blanket over us. We were partially hidden behind the curtains. Slowly I began to rub his crotch. He purred and closed his eyes.



“Should we be doing this here?”

“No, probably not.”

He groaned as I loosened his shirt and slipped a hand inside.

“What are you doing?” he breathed heavily.


I found a nipple and pinched it. He almost pushed me off the seat.

“Keep that up and I won’t be responsible for what happens!” he chided me.

“Dad said to go do something fun!” I reminded him.

Ben laughed and punched me in the arm. “I am sure he didn’t mean this!”

“I am sure he did. Let’s go upstairs?” I suggested, with a wicked wink.


Hot afternoon sex. In the middle of winter. It didn’t get much better than that!

After we got our breaths back, Philip leaned over and patted my bum.

“Take a nap, babe. You’ve been pushing yourself too hard and I want you to have some proper rest this week.”

I nodded drowsily. “OK.”

“Close your eyes, and get some sleep.”

That sounded like a good idea; I was tired. With work, with stress, with anxiety over meeting Philip’s family.

“Where you going?” I asked as Philip rolled off the bed. I had thought he would snuggle up with me.

“Downstairs, give mom a hand. That’s what I and Pete usually do. No, stay there. You’ve done your share this morning.”

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely. I’ll come get you when its time to get up.”

I dropped back against the pillows and closed my eyes. I had stuck close to Philip since arriving; it was fair that he needed some time alone with his family. He kissed me again before he left the room, which made me think about what we had just done. He had looked magnificent as he knelt in between my open legs. I couldn’t remember when sex like this had become so pleasurable. I still tensed but I no longer resisted. The pain would always be there I suppose, but I was no longer scared.

We had giggled when the old bed started to squeak and we hushed one another in a panic. I kept looking at the door; afraid someone would suddenly rap on it and ask if we were trying to break the bed or something. I was sure the whole house could hear us.

I turned to my side, closed my eyes tight and tried to drift off to sleep. After a few minutes, I turned to the other side. Nope. Didn’t work either. I fluffed the pillow and lay on my back and found myself staring up at the ceiling. Damn! I had been more than ready to sleep just a few minutes ago and now I was wide awake. And alone. I wished Philip was there. I considered going to look for him but had no wish to look too needy; I certainly didn’t want his parents to think he had a wimp for a partner.

And besides he had said to stay in bed.

I had learnt that such remarks, no doubt casually issued, were to be taken seriously. Especially on this touchy subject. Philip had been patient and understanding when I explained about my problems at work but had remained firm in his belief that I worried too much and needlessly. As a result of which stressed me out.

“You don’t have to be perfect in everything you do, Ben,” he had said.

I wasn’t looking for perfection, I explained. I just wanted to be organized and feel in control. He should understand that; after all he was a Top! All I got out of that argument was a long lecture. Even worse, he had lately started to show signs of displeasure over my long hours and late nights. He had started to impose stricter rules. I knew he wasn’t kidding when he said he wanted me to rest.

After another few minutes, I gave up trying. I sat up, wondering what I should do. My eyes wandered round the room and fell on my laptop, half hidden in the corner. I froze, my mind suddenly alert. My fingers twitched.

Well, I reasoned to myself, better to be productive than not. If I could get my work done now, wouldn’t I be more relaxed for the rest of the holidays? Where’s the harm anyway?

As if Philip could see me, I tiptoed quietly to the corner and unzipped the bag. Gingerly I brought out the laptop and carried it over to the bed. I quickly slipped under the covers again (like that would make a difference) and surreptitiously booted up the laptop. It beeped and whirled to live and I cringed. I was ready to thrust the laptop under the covers if I heard a sound outside. No one appeared and soon I was happily tapping away.

I jumped and gasped with fright when my mobile buzzed. I groped for it and flipped it open, glaring at the screen. Marcus.

“Jesus, you startled me!” I said.

“Why? What are you doing that you shouldn’t be?” he asked.

I chuckled. “Nothing! What are you up to?”

“Nothing much either. How’s the visit so far?”

“Quite good, actually better than I expected.” I was able to say that quite honestly.

“Me too, I’m so glad we decided to do this. Aren’t you?”

We compared notes and chatted for a bit before we hung up.

“See ya later,” Marcus said.

Yep. A quick glance at the clock told me I would have at least another hour before it was time to get ready for dinner. Marcus and Stewart weren’t due till about six-ish and it was only just past four. I strained my ears to listen for footsteps. Nothing. Everyone must be busy downstairs.

Like an addict, I pulled up Sally’s file with secret glee and began to read feverishly. Just as I suspected. I groaned when I saw a bunch of errors. Those needed to be fixed in a hurry! As I set about correcting the mistakes, I made up my mind that right after the New Year, I was going to fire her. She was giving me ulcers at the rate she was going. Philip had hounded me about letting her go for weeks but I had kept putting it off. Well, no more! No more chances ....

I was so engrossed in correcting the work and mentally rehearsing firing Sally that I didn’t hear the door open.


I greeted Robert warmly when he arrived. I hadn’t seen him in months and I was always glad to catch up with him. We’d known him for as long as I could remember. His family had been in Ashley Downs for a few generations, just like mine, and we went to the same high school growing up, though he was quite a bit older. He was kind of someone I looked up to. Stewart and I did actually. He always looked out for us too.

I got him a drink, and then Peter and dad came and chatted with him and I went upstairs to get Ben. I had left him in bed, with strict orders to stay in bed this time. His eyes were on the door when I entered our bedroom.

“All right, time to get up babe,” I announced.

He looked warily at me as he slid off the bed and stood next to it, not quite sure of my next action. I went over and tipped his face up with one finger. Looking into his eyes, I bent and kissed him lightly.

“Go get changed,” I said lightly. “Robert has just arrived and the others should be here any time.”

“Am I still in trouble?”

I made sure my face was stern. “Not for now, no. The extra half hour in bed just now was your punishment so that is done. But for the rest of the holidays you are not allowed to touch your laptop unless I give permission, is that clear?”

Ben nodded and looked woefully at me when I made him hand over the laptop and stored it in the closet.

“Do not touch this again,” I reminded him sternly. “Now go wash your face and get changed.”

I pointed him towards the common bathroom outside and aimed a single swat at his behind. He gave a soft yelp but instead of exiting the room turned and buried his face in my chest.

“I didn’t mean to disobey!” he muttered softly.

I grunted.

“I couldn’t sleep!” he whined.

“That’s because you were too tensed. Once you allow yourself to think about your work, you can’t do anything except worry. That is a bad habit and we are going to change that Ben, but we’ll talk more about this later. For now go and wash up. Hurry!”

The front door opened as we came down the stairs – we rarely locked the front door during the day and close family friends like Stewart knew that. They simply let themselves in. The entire Spencer clan trooped in, amidst loud noises and lots of hugs and kisses and handshakes. There was a LOT of noise around introductions this year. The centres of attention were of course Judy, Ben and Marcus.

It was the kind of evening that I thoroughly enjoyed whenever I came home, only this time it was the best because I had Ben with me. Watching him from across the room, my heart warmed. He was talking animatedly with Peter and Marcus, he laughed when Abby joined them and cracked one of her notorious jokes, he tenderly patted Judy’s stomach and discussed the baby, and he helped mom pass around drinks and snacks. I was so proud of him.

We had worried about squeezing fourteen people around the dining table but mom and dad managed to get everyone seated. It was a bit tight but no one minded in the least. We rubbed against one another’s shoulders and Ben was practically sitting on my lap (not that I was complaining) but that only added to the fun of the evening. Everyone admired the roast when it was brought out and after dad proposed a toast, we slowly demolished the food, accompanied by a few bottles of excellent wine.

It was a convivial evening, amongst close friends and family. Everyone was comfortable with the familiarity and tradition of Christmas Eve dinner at our home. Ben and Marcus had been absorbed into the family unit effortlessly, like sons returning to the fold after attending college away from home.

Robert was seated next to Abby chatting away, and I caught Stewart’s eye a few times. We had been hoping for years they would make a match of it, but while they were on the best of terms whenever they met and had loads to talk about, nothing progressed further once they were apart. No phone calls that we knew of, no emails, nothing. That didn’t stop us hoping though.

Around ten o’clock, John and Angela announced they were leaving.

“Well, thank you for a wonderful evening but we’ve got to be up early tomorrow so Angela and I going to call it a night,” John said. “But don’t let us break up the party, please!”

Abby, who had ridden in with them and Josie, waved nonchalantly at her parents. “I’m not going anywhere! Drive carefully dad. I’ll ride back with Stewart and Marcus. Josie, are you staying or going?”

“Oh, I’m going too,” Josie said, getting to her feet with an effort. She wasn’t much of a night person. “All that wine is making me tipsy and sleepy! That meal was delicious, Mary. Thank you so much!”

Michael held out a hand and pulled Judy up. “We should also get going. My wife needs her rest, and so does the baby!” said the expectant father, placing an arm around his wife affectionately. They lived in a small apartment in the town itself, close to the bank where Michael worked. “We’ll see you all tomorrow at mom’s and dad’s. Good night all!”

After the round of goodbyes were delivered, Robert moved to the sofa to sit beside Abby and Stewart and I walked the departing guests to the door. We watched them leave, and then lingered in the hallway.

“So what do you think?” Stewart asked in a low voice. “Any chance you think?”

We discussed this every year.

“Looks promising, but then it always does,” I replied with a smirk. “I’m beginning to think they are on to us and playing us.”

Stewart chuckled. “You may be right, damn!”

We went back to the living room, and spent the rest of the evening exchanging stories, sipping wine and nibbling cookies. And observing Robert and Abby.


When I look back in later years, I would have to say that was the best Christmas I ever had. Even though I got spanked on Christmas Day – but more on that later. This family’s concept of family blew my mind. Their acceptance of Philip’s sexual preference plus their ready acceptance of me as his partner was something that would stay with me for the rest of my life.

Within twenty four hours, I fitted right in and was like their son. I felt a little shy and awkward when Mary told me to call her mom. I was afraid it would be weird but it wasn’t, not in the least.

“Would you like some ham for breakfast this morning, love?”

“Yes mom, thanks.”

Philip didn’t bat an eyelid when he heard; he just smiled as if he had known that would be the way all along.

Ted called me Ben and son interchangeably; much in the same manner he called his real sons. They had a special bond which was obvious right away, and I envied their closeness. Since I didn’t want to be too presumptuous, I struggled for a while and avoided calling him anything except sir. Until mom stepped in and said I should call him dad, otherwise it would be odd. I couldn’t go around calling her mom while I addressed her husband as Ted or sir, now could I?

Peter treated me just like he did Philip – we traded jokes and insults like any siblings did. Peter wasn’t shy and roped me in on all the chores as well, so I didn’t feel like a guest at all. Thank God for that. I didn’t want to be a guest at someone’s house over Christmas. I wanted to be home with people I regarded as my family, and that was exactly where I was.

And so I woke up feeling happy on Christmas day. I was snug, engulfed in Philip’s arm, warm in our bed. The previous evening had been really pleasant and enjoyable, and there was another big get-together to look forward to that very afternoon. I would get to see Stewart’s place and spend more time with Marcus and the whole gang. And the food ... I had been promised a memorable spread.

So there I was, bathed in a euphoric haze, my mind flitting from one pleasing memory to another when it drifted a little too way off and I suddenly felt a flash of dread run through me. Things were going too well surely. There was nothing in the world at the moment which was wrong and that worried me. Nothing that good stayed forever and soon the bubble would burst and something unpleasant was going to hit me.

I bit my lip, hating how I felt. That was so annoying!

Immediately I admonished myself, rather sternly too. I visualised Philip’s frown, and heard him tell me how silly and irrational I was.

YES Philip, I agree totally with you.

And yet there was little I could do to change how I felt. That was the same reason I checked over every piece of work I could, went over every little detail of tasks I had been given, worried continually until I was sure it was a hundred percent correct or the event was finally over.

How many times had Philip told me this was entirely unnecessary?

I was determined not to let this spoil the day, so I pushed the little nagging fears to the back of my mind and carried on as if I had not a care in the world. I was sure I had succeeded quite well, until Philip asked me.

“Ben, is every thing all right with you?”

“Hmm? Yeah?” I looked surprised enough. Could he read my mind?

“Are you sure?”


And then later.

“Honey, is something troubling you?”

“Huh? No, nothing at all.”

He quirked an eyebrow at me. “Are you telling me the truth?”

This was SO not good.

“YES!” I said again, very firmly.

We were all supposed to drive over to the Spencer’s in one car but at the last minute Philip had a change of plan, which shot my stress level up two-fold.

“You guys go on ahead. Ben and I will follow later; Ben needs to make a call to his folks.”

I did?

Peter smiled at us slyly as he exited the front door, and whispered low enough just for our ears. “Don’t take too long ... I won’t tell!”

Philip rolled his eyes and pushed him out the door and locked it. Then taking my hand, he led the way upstairs into our bedroom.

My antenna was up in serious alarm mode by then.

Philip pushed me down on the bed and stood in front of me. “OK, spill it.”

I began to shake my head.

“OK, let’s do it this way then,” Philip said, and to my horror, he pulled me up and sat down on the bed instead. Then he proceeded to unbuckle my belt and unzip my khakis.

“What?” I protested, trying to stop his hands. “What did I do?”

Philip slapped my hands away. “Keep your hands still!” He scolded mildly, then quickly pushed my pants down to my ankles, and drew me over his lap.

I felt the neatly pressed khakis slide off my feet and hoped they didn’t get too creased. I had spent half an hour getting it just right. Then all thoughts of the khakis left me as I felt Philip steady me with his left arm and he raised his right and brought it down onto my backside in a sharp spank.

“What?” I screeched, reassured in the knowledge that there was no one home to hear us.

“What are you not telling me, Ben?”

It took less than two minutes for me to give up and spill the beans. Not that I needed a lot of convincing. I was dying to tell Philip. It always felt so much better after I’d told him and he always knew exactly what I meant. He never laughed at me or told me I was stupid. Which was what I thought of myself and why I found it so hard to tell anyone.

“Aren’t these worries simply conjured up by your mind?” Philip tapped my behind meaningfully.

“Yes, I know they are.” I sighed in frustration.

“Is there really anything that has happened in the last twenty four hours that you should worry about?”

“No.” My voice was very small by then. “But ...”

“But what, Ben?”

“I don’t know. It’s just what I feel. I can’t help what I feel.” That I knew sounded rational.

“No, you can’t help what you feel or how you feel, but you can do something about it.”

“Um ... “ We’d been through that before. “Well ...”

“Have you forgotten?” He prompted with another pat on my butt. He was so not letting me off the hook, despite it being Christmas and a whole party of family members and friends were waiting for us a few miles away.

I squirmed and Philip lowered his voice as if he didn’t want someone in the next room to hear us. “What are you not supposed to do, Ben?”

I let go a sigh and drooped in defeat over Philip’s lap. There was no point fighting it any more. I knew exactly how I had landed myself in this spot. “Keep them bottled inside. And not tell you.”

“Why are you not supposed to do that?”

“Because things get blown out of proportions if I keep them bottled up inside too long.” I cried out suddenly, like pouring out a lesson I had learnt many times before but simply refused to remember. It was strange how once I allowed myself to talk, it came out easily.

Without further prompting, I added, “I know I should have just told you how I felt when I started to worry. We talked about that before but I just felt so stupid ... you know?”

“Aha,” Philip murmured even as he began to slip a finger into the waistband of my underwear and peel it off. My entire butt was exposed. “Well, I said we would be discussing this, remember?”

“Yes,” I replied, subdued.

“It’s unhealthy when you worry yourself over nothing, you know that. Do you anticipate bad things happening, for no apparent reason?”

I nodded my head urgently, totally cooperative by then. It didn’t help. Two hard spanks landed on my bare flesh and I gritted my teeth.

“What is the Fraternity code when a Brat is in trouble?”

That was easy. “He tells his Top,” I said meekly. “Or if he does not have a Top of his own, he tells any Top he is comfortable with.”

“Absolutely right. I expect you to tell me when that happens, Ben. That is called sharing.”

A couple of hard swats made my eyes water.

“And not lie to me when I ask you if something is wrong. What is the Fraternity code about lying?”

Uh-uh. He got me there. I grabbed the pillow and hid my face in it as Philip spanked. It hurt of course, but it was certainly not the kind of spanking which left you breathless and totally drained. In fact, I was surprised when Philip stopped and began to rub my stinging cheeks.

“We’re done?” I asked before I could stop myself. Well, I had to be sure.

Philip laughed and helped me get to my feet. “Yes, we’re done. For today.”

I looked at him in shock. “W-what do you mean?”

He picked my pants up and held them as I automatically stepped into them. “I have decided you need a refresher course. Top expectations and Brat obedience. I think it’s about time you re-learn the simple basic rules of the Fraternity. Like tell your Top when things get bad.”

I stared at him, my mouth hanging open.

“Do you remember how new Brats are trained? I believe it will help you if I gave you a spanking every day for a week, like this one. It won’t be a punishment spanking, Ben. Just a little aid; something that is easy for you to hold on to and to remember. I am pretty sure this will be quite effective.”

I could have sworn he hid a smile.

My jaw dropped further. “A week of spankings?” I squeaked.

Philip zipped me up briskly. “A week at least,” he said firmly. He leaned down and planted a light kiss on my lips. “But there’s no reason why we cannot continue with this ritual if we both find that it works.”


“Trouble?” Stewart mumbled beneath his breath when we arrived.

“Is it that obvious?” I was slightly anxious. I had no wish to embarrass Ben.

“No,” Stewart said quickly, “I just wondered why the delay. Needed the house empty?”

I grinned. “Something like that.”

Stewart grinned back. “He doesn’t look spanked, anyway. If that’s what you are worried about.”

I scoffed. “I wasn’t aiming for that; it was a quick discussion if you know what I mean. But I will be needing some privacy every day for a week.”

Stewart gave me a startled look. “That serious? What on earth did he do?”

“No, no. Basic Brat training.”

Stewart’s eyes lit up and he raised his eyebrows. “Oh ... it’s been a while since we’ve done any of that.”

“Missing it?” I asked with a smirk. It was typically Stewart’s job to rope in the single Brats who were new to the Fraternity. He possessed a wide tolerance level and was a great mentor to them. He could handle almost all categories of Brats, with perhaps the only exception being Dayton.

“Kind of ...“ he said rather wistfully. “What are you dealing with?”

“I am determined to break him out of this habit of worrying over everything, often quite unnecessarily. He even worries that there is nothing to worry about!”

Stewart arched his brows. “Hmm. You know he’s been like that always. What has changed?”

“He lives with me now?” I gave a wry smile.

Stewart threw back his head and laughed heartily. “Tell me about it!”

“Seriously, at the way his business is growing he is going to get worse unless I find a way to get him to relax or at least spit it out before it consumes him. Yesterday I told him to nap and when my back was turned, he had his laptop open. He’s itching to work right through the holidays!”

Stewart chuckled. “That’s Ben.”

“That is indeed,” I said, and I looked across the room where he was talking to Marcus. Our eyes locked and he smiled at me. I suddenly felt my chest tighten.

I love you, I mouthed.

Me too. Ben mouthed back.

Angela and Josie were beginning to gather everyone into the dining room. They had decided to do a buffet instead of a sit-down, which was very sensible indeed. The spread looked fabulous. Ben and Marcus came over to stand with me and Stewart while the ladies were ushered forward to fill their plates first.

Stewart handed each of us a glass of wine. “I think this is how we should celebrate Christmas every year, what do you think guys?”

Our Brats looked at one another, nodded and smiled. “Best idea!” Marcus said earnestly.

“I agree,” I concurred. I do believe we’d never felt more complete.

“To the best Christmas ever,” Ben said, leaning against me.

“Merry Christmas!” We all chimed as our glasses clinked.