The band, Violent Passions, is hoping to cash in on a punk revival. For Candace, the band's lead singer, having blown all her old earnings on partying and drug rehab, this is a golden career opportunity. But can she hold onto fame and fortune a second time? When she meets Rod, she knows she's found the answer; an older mentor to provide a guiding hand. Rod is annoyed when he gets caught up in the crowd at an outdoor rock concert. But irritation quickly turns to anger when, in the crush of spectators, he's hit over the head with a beer bottle. He spanks the perpetrator, Candace, who, instead of suing him as he fears, invites him to be her coach. Rod doesn't know much about the rock world but he knows how a lady should behave and, with some misgivings, he agrees to turn Candace into one. Candace, however, wants a more serious end to their relationship.
BDSM Category: Spanking, paddling, caning. Adult language but no erotic scenes.
"Christ," Rod muttered as he forced his way through the mass of twitching bodies with their nodding heads and vacant eyes. "I should have guessed."
He meant he could have anticipated this madhouse when he'd parked his car at the far side of the park and walked across to his friends' condo. He'd seen the crews setting up stages and towers, but somehow the sight hadn't made him realize he'd be making his way back to his car through a crowd of sweaty teenage head bangers twitching grotesquely to what looked like an old-fashioned punk group. Was Punk back in fashion, he wondered idly? Nowadays, from the great age of fifty, he didn't know one singer or genre from another and could care less.
The singer, a garishly clad hag with white hair, white face, and, from where he was standing, black eyes and lips, jumped down from the stage into the crowd and disappeared from his view. Rod shuddered. Not having to pretend he liked all this stuff was the only consolation for being fifty, he reckoned. He continued pushing the crowd aside, working his way slowly to his car. The singer was screaming some filth or other, but the crowd didn't really seem to be with her, and he felt a sudden surge of sympathy. Acting like a maniac is only really acceptable if everyone joins in; when they don't, it looks just plain silly.
Suddenly, the crowd to his right began falling back, jostling him. The singer's voice had taken on a new harshness, an edge of fury that didn't sound like a performance. Rod turned away, pushing to his left with renewed determination. Then a blow to the back of his head almost felled him, his knees buckled, the crowd seemed to be spinning, and he felt himself blacking out when, with a surge of fury, he came to his senses. Dodging to one side, he grabbed the swinging arm by the wrist, sending the beer bottle the hand was holding flying. Rod twisted, the woman cursed and twisted away presenting her tightly clad denim bum to his jubilant gaze. In the crowd and the commotion, he hadn't realized his assailant was a woman but, now that he did, he knew just what to do with such a tempting target. He smacked it hard, and the woman cursed him again. That did it. He'd been going to stop at one swat, but her stream of invective was so offensive, he decided that it was time some adult supervision took place.
Rod spanked and spanked, while the woman hopped and yelped. On the giant monitor above the stage, Rod was vaguely aware he'd taken on a starring role. The cameras had obviously decided an elderly gentleman punishing a punk girl was a lot more fun than the band. Rod continued spanking, even though the sound of her yelps was being amplified all across the park. He'd gone too far to stop now.
Rod slapped her right cheek, and her foot kicked up. At least, she wasn't putting her free hand in the way; that would have been a nuisance. He spanked her left cheek, the denim of her jeans rippled away from the point of impact like a sail flapping in the wind, which Rod thought amazing. He'd have sworn there wasn't enough free material to do that. He slapped her right cheek again, hand flat along the length, fingertips stinging her sit spot. The girl yelped and kicked, dipping her bottom to assuage the pain, but it returned quickly enough to where he could smack it. So he did. She yelped, kicked and wriggled, and he smacked. It was a wonderfully pleasant way to spend a late summer afternoon.
Finally, reluctantly, he halted. His hand hurt, and he was growing more and more conscious that everyone was focused on him and the girl. And she seemed less violent now; so letting go of her wrist became safe enough. She shot upright, her face as red as a beet, her eyes blazing. They stared at each other for a second. Both stared in horror. Rod saw he'd been spanking the band's lead singer. While Candace, Candy Ass, to the music world, saw she'd hit the wrong man. Each felt the sickening feeling of doom that comes from knowing you've made a terrible mistake.
"Sorry," Candace said, recovering her wits before Rod. "I got the wrong guy."
"The wrong guy?" Rod said sarcastically. "How many white-haired guys are there round here?" He gestured about with a dramatic flourish that should have clinched the argument but didn't. All around were men with white hair, red hair, blue hair, green hair, every color but hair colored; he dropped his arm, deflated.
"You should go to the First Aid tent," Candace said. "You're bleeding."
Rod touched his head. His hair was wet, and something was running down his neck. He looked at his fingers. They were covered in blood.
"I guess I should," he said. "Where is it?"
Candace gave him directions quickly. She didn't want him dying on her. God knows what the news would say about her now, and if he died ... she pushed the thought away and headed back to the stage. Signaling the band, she started on the next number, but throughout the whole set her eyes kept straying to the First Aid tent hoping to see the guy walk out. What a fucking mess, she thought. Because of some stupid dissing from a half-pissed kid, a kid too young to remember the band's heyday, she'd lashed out--only she'd hit an old guy just trying to walk in the park. She'd be lucky if he didn't sue her ass off, never mind whipping it.
Rod pushed open the front door to his house and stepped inside. He still felt a bit sick. In his eyes, taking two aspirins and lying down was major surgery; having a couple of stitches in his scalp was traumatic. Tabitha, the family cat, only there was no longer a family, mewed, pressing her body against his leg, covering his black pants with white fur. He closed the door, stroked her, and hung up his jacket. Tabitha waited patiently with adoring eyes; Rod was her favorite companion and most comfortable bed. He was just slower at putting out meals than she cared for.
Rod fed Tabby and had a shower before putting up his feet on the couch where she soon joined him, stretching out along his thighs before quickly falling asleep. Clicking the TV remote through the channels, Rod saw himself, large as life on the big screen, spanking a woman in a huge crowd. He turned up the sound, his insides trembling. What he heard didn't quiet those nerves one bit. He'd publicly spanked a national celebrity. Even he'd heard of her, and he was the wrong generation to have known Violent Passions when they'd been the band of their day, a mere decade ago. And he'd done it at a reunion concert to promote their new album. Rod didn't think they'd appreciate his contribution to their re-launch.
"An irate bystander," the TV reporter crowed gleefully, "took the law into his own hands at today's free concert in High Park, giving Candy, Candy Ass, of the Violent Passions, a taste of his own 'violent passion'..."
Rod changed channels and found the same news segment. More flicking showed he'd made a hit on every news report; even the U.S. stations seemed to suggest this was everyday stuff in a remote and backward place like Canada. Driving home, he'd been concerned for his own personal well-being and he'd argued himself into believing nothing would come of it. He'd convinced himself the woman, and he realized now it was a woman and not some teen princess, wouldn't want to relive her humiliation, and he wasn't about to broadcast his hastily made mistake. It would all quiet down in a day or two. But watching the news, he was a lot less sure.
"Tabby," he said slowly, as the cat stretched and offered her chin for scratching, "I've done something really stupid." Tabby purred in appreciation of the tickling and stroking. She didn't watch TV.
Next day at work was a nightmare. Everyone had seen the news, and those that hadn't had a glorious half-page picture, on the front of the local tabloid, of Rod's hand splatting Candy's full cheeks. Coffee time discussions had never been so animated, with opinions for and against being hotly disputed. Rod stayed in his cubicle and tried for a low profile. He wasn't successful, but by evening, when it was clear he wasn't about to lead a protest march demanding the introduction of corporal punishment for wealthy starlets, the place grew quieter, and Rod had time to think. His thoughts were gloomy. Should he call the woman and apologize before she could get to her lawyer or should he just lay low and hope she wouldn't be able to find out who he was?
The pros and cons of moving to some remote island were still being counted in his mind when he got home. Rod showered and ate supper. Since Mary died, he'd never bothered much with eating in the evening, and tonight was no exception. He and Tabby finished their meals together, and Rod went out onto the deck with a beer. His head ached; he knew the beer was a mistake, but it was hot, and he needed to unwind. A day of notoriety was more than he could bear; his sympathy for the poor buggers that had to live with it every day made him feel even guiltier about Candy.
"If someone hits you over the head so hard you need stitches, are you entitled to spank them in public? What do you think, Tabby?"
Tabby, who was in the act of washing her face with her paw, stopped and gave him a stern look. Rod knew what her answer would be if she could speak. He was her favorite, had been since a kitten when the kids had been too rough and Mary too allergic to appeal to a small cat. And Tabby was a jealous body, openly hostile to anyone monopolizing Rod but herself. When the kids left home, there'd been no suggestion of taking 'their' cat with them. If Tabby could speak, she'd have recommended hanging for anyone who messed with Rod.
The phone rang, and Tabby leapt off Rod's lap, her sharp claws leaving their usual pattern on his thighs. Sighing and wincing, annoyed with himself for not bringing the cell phone out with him, Rod made his way indoors.
"Hello," he said rather shortly into the handset.
"Hi," a voice he didn't recognize replied. "Is that Rod Lawson?"
"Yes," he replied, sensing a sales pitch coming.
"It's Candace Astor," the voice replied.
Rod's insides fluttered uncomfortably. Yesterday, he wouldn't have even known who Candace Astor was; her stage name was the only one he'd heard. Now, thanks to a day of discussion, he knew more about Candace than he'd ever imagined knowing; her problems with drugs, with booze, with men, and her long police record--not a pretty picture.
"Oh, yes," Rod said, grimly. He didn't know how else to respond.
"How's your head?"
"It's okay," Rod replied. "Aches a bit but no worse than a hangover." The moment he said that, he wished he hadn't. Now she'd think he was sneering at her well-publicized drink problems.
"Good. Look, I'm sorry about what happened. Can I buy you dinner to make amends?" Candace tried to make it sound like she always called up total strangers and offered them meals, but she wasn't sure she was hitting quite the right tone. She sounded brittle, nervous even, and it wasn't surprising. It wasn't something she'd ever done before, and the band's lawyer said she shouldn't do it this time, only she found she couldn't stop herself.
The offer was so contrary to what he'd been expecting that Rod found he'd accepted before he'd thought it through. He shrugged; since Mary died, he'd been telling himself he should become more open to different experiences; maybe this was the start.
"That's great," Candace said, pleased--and she was pleased. She'd had serious doubts about what Rod's reaction would be; most of them instilled by the band's lawyer.
"Only," Rod said, the vision of him eating dinner with the creature that was Candy Ass horrifying him into firmness, "you dress respectably, and you do your hair and make up like a normal woman."
Candace laughed. "Okay," she said, "but you'll be disappointed. I'm no great beauty without my stage clothes."
Rod couldn't imagine how anyone could look worse than Candy's stage image, but thought it best not to say so. Women could be sensitive in these matters.
"Is there anywhere you'd prefer to go?" Candace asked.
"I'm sure you know Toronto better than I do, these days," Rod said. Since the kids came along, he and Mary hadn't eaten at adult places in the big city, and they hadn't had so long after the kids left to get back into the habit.
"Okay, I'll choose," Candace said. "I'll assume you want something conventional and respectable there, too?"
Rod knew he was being teased but didn't mind. She sounded so pleasant and normal on the phone, and young women weren't always offering to take him out for dinner.
"I do," he replied firmly.
"I'll get back to you with the time and place," Candace said, after they agreed on tomorrow night. "Don't go far from the phone."
Rod took the phone out to the deck with him, where Tabby was waiting crossly, her tail twitching ominously, to return to his lap.
"Tabby," Rod said, when they'd both settled back down. "You aren't going to believe what's happened." And nor will anyone at work, he thought to himself, so I won't tell them.
Candace hung up the phone feeling a lightness of heart she couldn't remember having since she was a kid. She'd expected him to be talking lawyers and damages, expected to have to use her slim armory of charm to coax him out of it. The certainty of it had been a constant theme in the band's discussion; his spanking her could be a useful counter suit that might limit the damages, but she was the international celebrity and he the wronged common man. Her lawyer, when asked for an opinion, felt there was a chance they could negotiate an out-of-court settlement, right after they'd negotiated his fee for handling this difficult case.
Candace had listened to all the conflicting arguments and said very little because something had passed between this common man and her, when their eyes met, and she couldn't explain what. She didn't really know if he'd had the same feeling, but she knew it would be better for her to approach him than have any lawyer involved. And it wasn't because she could save money but because, incredibly, she felt he was Mr. Right. The moment she thought that, she blushed at the absurdity of the idea. She was thirty, and he was fifty, if he was a day, and she had nothing in common with him. So as far as she knew, he wasn't an artist or a wealthy man, so he couldn't understand her life, and she'd missed out on everyday things, like home and kids, that might help her share his. But she was right. He'd been perfectly pleasant to talk to; he hadn't raged at her for what happened, hadn't mentioned lawyers, and had accepted her offer of dinner as recompense without demanding anything else. What's more, she knew from the tone of his voice he was interested in her, so her instincts had been right, too.
Better yet, there wasn't a Mrs. Lawson because she'd made it clear her invitation was to his wife as well and learned he was a widower with two grown up kids off his hands and no one particular person to join them for dinner. Humming a sickly, sentimental tune she wouldn't have let the band, or her fans, know she knew, Candace headed for her closet to find something suitable for tomorrow night.
Rod, meanwhile, lifted an indignant Tabby back onto his lap. She'd need a lot of TLC to get her back to catnapping. She sat rigid on his lap, glaring at him, determined not to sell her righteous anger too cheaply. This was her time each evening, and his attention being given to another was treachery.
Rod grinned at her and sighed melodramatically. He'd only been single for six months, and already he was having woman trouble.
The restaurant was very upscale, so Rod was glad he'd put on a jacket and even gladder he wasn't paying. He looked about; his eyes scanned the tables, but apart from one single woman with short, dark hair, a hauntingly pretty face and a beautiful, though rather pale for late summer, complexion, the room was filled with fat, sweating executives haggling over deals or elegantly dressed women with partners. She's late, he thought, typical woman. This, he knew, was unjust, for Mary was always on time.
The young woman sprang up and advanced toward him, smiling broadly. "You didn't recognize me, did you?" Her eyes sparkled with glee at his surprise. She clasped both his hands and stood on tiptoes to kiss his cheek.
Rod found himself blushing furiously. He returned her peck on the cheek and stammered very ungraciously, "No, I didn't. You're completely different from what I imagined."
"I did warn you."
"You didn't 'warn me,' you led me astray," Rod retorted severely, recovering his composure. "You said without your make up 'you were no beauty' and that wasn't--isn't--true."
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," Candace replied, still holding one of his hands and leading him back to their table. Without the heels she'd been wearing Sunday, he was much taller than she was, and she had to look up to see his expression. She'd never liked having to look up at men and consequently heels were practically the only shoes she had. To her amazement, she found she did like it today, which explained her choice of shoes, though she hadn't understood it at the time. She ushered him to the seat opposite hers and examined the back of his head when he sat down.
"You can hardly see the cut through all that hair," she said. "You're lucky to have hair at your age," she continued conversationally as she returned to her seat, "it's strange it didn't cushion the blow."
"Perhaps it did," Rod said ruefully. "Perhaps I'd have a cracked skull now, if I'd been one of your shaved fans."
"Lucky it was you, then," Candace said mischievously.
Rod was about to give her a lecture on safety, and then he stopped. There was no sense in it. And it was 'lucky' because nothing remotely this interesting had happened in his life for years. He laughed, and said, "I guess so."
Candace looked into his eyes and felt the same stirring she'd felt yesterday. They were nice eyes, greeny-blue, with a look of patient humor that invited confidences. His face was good, too lean and serious, but not mean-looking as so many thin men were, and no double chin or fat jowls like most of the men she could see around the room.
"I really am sorry about what happened," she said, thinking it best to get her apologies out of the way early. "There was this kid..."
"Don't worry about it," Rod interjected, "I gave as good as I got. We're even. And I owe you an apology too. I shouldn't have done that."
"Oh, and what should you have done?" Candace asked innocently.
"I should have restrained you until someone could assist us to a mediated solution."
Candace grimaced. "That sounds totally boring," she said, "The sort of answer politically correct idiots give to all questions. And when you know me better, you'll realize it would've been impossible. I'm not easily 'restrained' at times like that."
"Times like what?" Rod asked.
Candace fiddled with her napkin and avoided his eye. Shit, she thought, I wanted to show him my good side before introducing the not-so-good things. But he must know what they are, her mind continued inexorably, everybody else does.
"When I've had too much to drink," she said at last, looking him squarely in the eye to see his reaction.
Rod smiled. "Then we're buying wine by the glass, and you're limited to two," he said primly.
"Don't worry. I was going to be good tonight, anyway."
"What happened to the hair and the nose ring?" Rod asked, thinking a change of subject was in order.
"My stage hair's a wig, and the nose ring is a clip-on," she replied. "The earrings are real." She showed him the studs to prove her point. "I presume you don't object to earrings? But I warn you, I'll think it hypocritical if you don't mind earrings when you don't like nose rings."
"I don't care for any kind of body piercing," Rod said with a smile, knowing she was going to be pleased at, and he would be teased for, his inconsistency, "but, you're right, earrings don't bother me as much."
"Ha, I knew it. You're just a conventional, middle-aged guy," Candace said.
Rod sighed melodramatically. "Five minutes together, and you've discovered my guilty secret. That's female intuition, I guess," he said.
"It's my artistic temperament," Candace replied wryly, "I'm super perceptive." She was pleased to have got through the drink thing without comment, and this verbal sparring was what she needed to stop deeper discussion; only that would have to happen sooner or later if she was to get what she wanted.
"In the real world, we call that 'jumping to conclusions'," Rod said.
"Smart ass," Candace said, descending to name calling for want of a better riposte. "Where the fuck is that waiter?" She was looking past Rod when she spoke, but she couldn't miss the severe expression that came on his face. "I guess an old fart like you doesn't like women using bad language, either," she concluded.
"I don't like anyone using bad language unless it's called for," Rod said, "and the waiter being considerate enough not to pressure us before we've 'broken the ice' isn't when it's called for."
Candace found herself blushing and unable to meet his eye. Her heart thumped in her breast. That's what she wanted from him, the thought flashed right to her mind. Ten years of her life floundering about, unable to manage properly, had slowly, like water dripping on a rock, worn a path to something deep inside and released it. Something buried by fortune and success, something she didn't know was there, something she felt she shouldn't accept, but which she was moving inexorably toward. She needed someone to lead her, someone she could trust and admire. Someone who wasn't afraid to say no, and mean no, when no needed saying.