Get Up and Go
She plays guitar with her fingertips
She’ll play your heart with her tender lips
She’ll work it out until she makes the tips
And it’s alright, yeah it’s alright
Holding her tight in late December
I look in the stars and I remember
She doesn’t mind when you offend her
And it’s alright, yeah it’s alright
Just a girl like you, and maybe just a
Just a guy like me, maybe we
Could take a walk on the wild side
Take a look and see
Get up and go
Just a girl like you, and maybe just a
Just a guy like me, maybe we
Could take a walk on the wild side
Take a look and take a look and go
Get Up and Go
What could I give when you’ve got all you need
And she looks at me like all I want’s a little free
Every time I look at you you make me see
That it’s alright, yeah it’s alright
We’ll get away be in love we can make it better
All we need’s a little time for us to get together
Happiness is just a step away
When it’s alright, yeah it’s alright
Just a girl like you, and maybe just a
Just a guy like me, maybe we
Could take a walk on the wild side
Take a look and see
Get up and go
Just a girl like you, and maybe just a
Just a guy like me, maybe we
Could take a walk on the wild side
Take a look and take a look and go
Ooh oh, ooh oh, won’t you go
Ooh oh, ooh oh, won’t you go
Ooh oh, ooh oh, won’t you go
Take a look and, take a look and go
Seems like love has always found a way
But there’s only so many hours in the day
All that I know is that you’re here with me
And it’s alright, yeah it’s alright
Won’t you tell me that you need me so bad
‘Cause you are everything I’ve never had
Every time I look at you it hurts so bad
And it’s alright, yeah it’s alright
Just a girl like you, and maybe just a
Just a guy like me, maybe we
Could take a walk on the wild side
Take a look and see
Get up and go
Just a girl like you, and maybe just a
Just a guy like me, maybe we
Could take a walk on the wild side
Take a look and take a look and go
Get up and go
Chapter 1

“Hello,” Diana said into the receiver. She was in a hurry and hoped this call wasn’t going to take too long.

“Yes, um, … hello,” the young girl replied. Diana sighed to herself. Another fan has found out our home number again. Dang.

“Yes?” she asked hurriedly, hoping to prompt the girl into some speed so she could get off the phone. She was preparing dinner and was feeling rushed.

“Um, is Taylor there? Taylor Hanson?” Yep, this had to be a fan. Shoot. It was such a pain in the neck to have to keep changing their number. How did they always find it out? Diana could feel herself getting irked. She took a deep breath to try to calm herself some. She didn’t want to be rude.

“No, I’m sorry. He’s not here right now. Can I take a message?” That was her standard answer and it usually worked. Diana was well versed in the ways of these young girls. Normally at this point they just hung up out of embarrassment. This one seemed different somehow though. She wasn’t giggling for one thing. And there weren’t any friends in the background egging her on nervously either. Diana’s parental antennae began to twitch.

“Well yes, if you could. Would you just tell him that Anna called? He’ll remember me. We had a, um, really, um …nice time … together late last December. I told him that was all it could be though ‘cause at the time I was seeing someone else, so I wouldn’t give him my number. But he gave me his and well, now I’m free so I wanted to see if he was too.” She paused for a moment as if considering if that was enough information, then added quickly, “And please, tell him I’m not pregnant or anything. He was worried about that and I don’t want him to think that’s why I’m calling him now. Okay?”

Diana’s jaw literally fell open. She felt like she’d just been hit by a sledge hammer. Oh my god, was this girl telling her she’d had sex with Taylor? He’d been only 16 at the time. And apparently it was quite casual sex at that as this had obviously been a one night stand. Her mind immediately flashed back to the day a week ago when she’d been listening to a new song the boys were practicing in the basement studio. Her gut feeling had been right! And the “late December” part was the clincher. That was a lyric from the song.

She loved to listen to the boys’ music wafting up from their downstairs studio as she worked in the kitchen. The song they’d been playing that day had been a brand new one and she’d been hooked by it right away. She couldn’t hear the words but the music itself was fantastic, so catchy and fun. She’d knocked on the door and asked if she could come down to hear it better and they’d gladly invited her. Those were some of her fondest memories ever – sitting in their studio watching and listening to them play their music for her. And hearing a new song for the very first time was always especially thrilling. But as she’d sat there listening to the lyrics clearly finally, something began to gnaw at her and she could feel herself tightening. She tried to shake it off but it was becoming more and more obvious to her what the song was really about. When they’d finished playing she’d just sat there very still for a minute trying to control her emotions.

“Mom?” Tay asked nervously. “Didn’t you like it? Was it that awful?” He was trying to tease her, hoping to distract her from whatever she was thinking; praying that she hadn’t fully grasped the inspiration for the song. She seemed to have read between the lines immediately however, and it was making him anxious. His teasing helped some. She couldn’t be sure after all. It wasn’t a literal telling of the event or anything. It was quite poetic and metaphorical really. Diana had a sixth sense when it came to Taylor though. It was like she could read his mind. They both knew it.

She looked directly in his eyes. He shuddered a little. “Who wrote this song?” she asked.

“What do you mean, Mom? We all did,” Taylor answered with a nervous giggle. He was trying to laugh it off but it wasn’t working. His mother just glared at him. His brothers came to his rescue then. They could both see where this was headed.

“Yeah, Mom. We all did. You know that,” Zac said.

“No I mean, who really wrote it? Whose idea was it?” Diana persevered. She knew that was their pat answer for interviewers but it wouldn’t work on her. Each song was at the very least originally conceived by one brother first, and then the other two would add their own input later. Most fans didn’t know this because the boys always purposefully shared credit for everything equally, but it was how it was really done. Taylor had written this song. There was no doubt in her mind.

“Mom, c’mon. We all wrote it. You can’t really divide it out like that. All three of us wrote it,” Ike assured her. She just shook her head and sighed disappointedly. They were lying, she was sure of it, to protect someone, probably Taylor, because she’d guessed the true meaning of the song. And they weren’t about to come clean either, that was obvious. The consequences would be too severe for the culprit. She decided she had to let it go. She could be wrong after all. It was possible. How could she ever really know for sure? Still it had continued to eat at her ever since.

She’d gotten up then, and walked over to each one and kissed them on their heads. “It’s beautiful. I love it. Absolutely love it,” she said, shaking her head in awe at their talent. “You boys constantly amaze me. Song after song. This one is going to be great.” And then she left.

Unbeknownst to her Taylor had breathed a huge sigh of relief when he’d heard the door click shut behind her. “Oh my god,” he’d moaned, dropping his forehead onto his keyboard with a blaring sour chord. “How does she do that? How does she know everything that’s going on inside my head like that? Holy crap. If she ever gets proof for her suspicions on this one I’m a dead man.”

“Yep, you are bro,” Zac stated matter-of-factly. “There’s absolutely no doubt about that at all.”

Taylor gave his younger brother a dirty look but he knew Zac was right. He couldn’t help it though. He had to write songs – and he had to reveal himself in them. That’s what his art was. And he had to experience life to do it too, much as his folks wanted to keep them all little boys in well-protected cages as long as possible. If she found out for real what he’d done though, he was going to be one very, very sorry kid.

“I’ll tell him, Anna,” Diana said shakily, snapping out of her reverie and back into the present. “What’s your phone number so he can call you?” Clearly this girl had no idea who she was talking to, Diana thought, or she would never have revealed such private information. But now that she had the proof she needed Taylor was in deep, deep trouble. Oh boy. He was going to rue the day, that’s for sure.

She hung up the phone and took a couple calming breaths trying to settle her nerves. She wished Walker was home and even contemplated calling him at his office to tell him what had happened, but she really didn’t want to disturb him there. He was going to be livid. It could wait until after work, she decided. She had some business to take care of herself first however.

Taylor and his brothers were actually in the basement rehearsing right now. She always told unknown callers that they weren’t home though; it was safer that way, just in case it was some crazed fan - or worse. She turned and headed for the basement door. She gave three perfunctory knocks, then burst right in. “Taylor, we need to talk!” she declared as she stormed down the stairs, the incriminating evidence crushed in her tight fist.

Chapter 2

Taylor panicked immediately, his mother’s angry voice enough to set his heart pounding and his palms sweating in a flash. What could this be about, he thought, desperately wracking his brain to figure it out? Whatever it was, however, was clearly serious – she was mad as a hornet.

Diana came to a stop right in front of him and stared him hard in the eyes. “A girl named Anna just called,” she said, holding out the note to him. And then she paused, leaving a calculated silence to let this information slowly sink in. He took the paper and looked at it. She watched his face closely, seeing easily as confusion turned to realization, and then to fear. He swallowed hard and suddenly looked a little green. So it was true. Now there was no doubt in her mind. She wanted to slap him, but she didn’t. “She’s who you wrote that song about, isn’t it?” she demanded instead, her tone steely and harsh. She needed to hear him say it – tell her he’d lied right to her face. Admit to the whole thing. Taylor just looked up at her nervously, clearly unable to find the words that could explain this situation safely. “Isn’t it?” she asked again, her voice pinched with restraint.

“I … I … um… I guess,” he muttered defeated.

“Did you sleep with this girl?” she practically spat at him.

“MOM!” he gasped. “I … I’m not going to tell you that.” His voice wasn’t sounding nearly as powerful and confident as he’d like though.

“Well,” she hissed at him, “she specifically told me to tell you she wasn’t pregnant because she knew you were worried about that and she didn’t want you to think that was the only reason she was calling you.”

Taylor’s eyes opened wide. Oh my god, how could she have told his mother that? What was she thinking? He was at a total loss. There was nothing he could say to save himself now, short of a bold faced denial, but he was so bad at lying to his mom that in a situation as precarious as this one he’d have to have a death wish to even try. So he didn’t say anything, just dropped his eyes guiltily and gave himself away.

Diana let out a gut wrenching moan when she saw that. She grabbed him by both arms, jerked him to standing, and held him hard by his elbows for a moment, squeezing him tightly and glaring in his eyes. Then, before he could even get his mind to settle, she sat down on his piano bench and started to undo his pants. His stomach clenched.

“Mom, pleeeeeeaaase,” he begged. “Pleeease! Don’t do this.” He tried to pry her fingers away but she would not be swayed. She slapped at his hands like they were nothing more than annoying flies and finished her task. When she’d gotten his pants unfastened she yanked them to his knees, pulled him across her lap, and slid his underwear down. She was more than furious, and the spanking she gave him then revealed that loudly and clearly. Tay was wailing and flailing and pleading almost immediately. She didn’t waver for a moment though; just kept up a steady, pounding beat on his bottom that rivaled anything Zac could ever have produced on his drums. The boys had marveled at that very thought many times. Before long Taylor could do little more than whimper and sob, and pray it would all be over soon.

His mother never actually officially stopped though. It was more like she just got lost or something. After landing dozens of blistering smacks on his bare backside, she just seemed to wander off like she’d forgotten what she was doing, or had gotten distracted by something else. It took Taylor a couple moments to realize what was happening but when he could clear his head enough to think he sneaked a nervous glance back up at her. She was in a daze. He shifted slightly on her lap to break her trance and she shook her head as if waking from a dream. She looked down at him, almost as though she was trying to figure out where she was, then she simply pulled him to standing, said, “we’ll continue this when your father gets home,” and got up and left. Taylor was dumbstruck. He just stood there trembling, holding his poor burning bottom and wrestling with his overwhelming panic.

A loud silence filled the entire studio. None of the boys dared move in case it might shatter like glass; it felt that delicate and fragile.

“Just thank god she wasn’t pregnant, Tay,” Ike finally said. Zac groaned. Tay wanted to throw something at his older brother. If only he weren’t right.

“Oh my god,” Tay moaned, burying his face in his hands. “I know. I know. What am I gonna do? Dad’s gonna kill me!”

This wasn’t the first time Taylor had been in deep trouble over inappropriate behavior with a girl. Once, when he was 15, he’d gotten caught, not exactly fully dressed, alone in his bedroom with a girl. He’d gotten the worst spanking of his life to date for that. And twice since then he’d gotten caught with his last girlfriend, Natalie, in various states of undress as well. He’d been spanked hard those times too, but that first one had been the worst. Nat was at least a long term girlfriend. That first girl wasn’t really even a committed relationship, and she’d been 18 - way too old for him according to his folks. Still, although he’d gone too far in all those situations, he hadn’t ever gone all the way, and his parents knew that. This time was different. This time was way over the line. He was a dead man.

Somehow the boys actually managed to focus themselves back into their work again. It was the best distraction for Tay’s anxiety that any of them could come up with anyway, so they worked for another hour or so, right up until the moment they all heard their father arrive home and Tay’s concentration flew straight out the window. When the intercom clicked he nearly jumped out of his skin. A second later their father’s voice boomed, “You boys need to come up here now!” It was not a suggestion. It was an order. Tay went pale. And he felt as sick as he looked. He glanced at his brothers for support but they didn’t look very calm either. Why were they being called up too? The last thing Tay needed now was for them to somehow get dragged into this mess as well. They’d covered for him in a major way that fateful day though and there was little doubt the whole sordid story was about to be revealed.

Chapter 3

The three boys trudged slowly up the stairs, trying their darnedest to make the trip as long as possible. When they reached the kitchen they ran into what seemed like a brick wall of parent. It pulled them up sharp. Tay was barely breathing at this point, and he was covered with a fine sheen of sweat and trembling all over like a scared puppy. This was as bad as he could ever imagine it getting. To his parents what he’d done was a cardinal sin tantamount to sacrilege. The boys had been raised very strictly in the church to believe that you wait until marriage to consummate your relationship. Sex outside of that was unacceptable, immoral and wrong - no matter what. There was no excuse or argument or debate to be had. And it had always been made more than clear that the punishment for doing otherwise would be severe.

“Did you have sex with that girl?” Walker bellowed. Tay was staggered by the force of his father’s anger. He caught his breath as his stomach lurched. He tried to swallow but couldn’t. Tears of fear welled up in him as he struggled to get some air in his lungs again. He didn’t know how to answer that question without totally changing the course of his entire future, but he also knew he had no real choice. His father’s face was red with barely contained rage. Still, the word just wouldn’t escape. He tried several times to say it but it just kept getting stuck in his throat. His father took a subtle step toward him and that broke the dam. He gasped as if he’d been choking and someone had just slapped him hard on the back.

“Yes sir,” he managed to squeak out, and the world shifted. There was no going back now. Ever.

An immense tension swelled around him, as if a dark storm cloud was filling the room. His parents looked like cold, hard, fierce statues, and he wanted to crawl in a hole and never come out. He’d known how they would react, but now that the time had come he wasn’t prepared at all.

He’d had such a good time at that party. Everyone had been drinking and smoking and dancing and generally having a blast. And he’d been more than happily surprised by the obviously amorous attentions of this one beautiful college girl too. She seemed to really be taken with him and it had made his ego swell as big as a proud peacock’s tail. He’d gotten several warning looks and whispers from Ike who could readily see where it was all leading, but Tay wouldn’t be dissuaded. Here was his chance, and somehow with this girl it felt right. He couldn’t explain it. And she was more than willing. She dragged him down the hall to her bedroom and they quickly fell into some serious necking and petting. Soon enough clothing was being pulled off and there was no stopping them. Taylor’s sex-muddled mind had cleared just long enough at one point to ask her about protection, but she’d assured him he didn’t need to worry and that was more than good enough for him. He was slightly tipsy on beer, but completely smashed on raging virginal teenage hormones. All common sense had long since been left outside the room.

And oh man, what an experience it had been. He’d loved every part of it - every feeling, every smell, every taste, every sight, every sound. The sensations were all encompassing and overwhelming. Intoxicating on the highest level. He’d lost himself in it totally. They’d made love three awe-inspiring, breathtaking times before they’d fallen asleep from pure exhaustion. And when his brothers came to rouse him he simply wouldn’t be budged.

Ike and Zac had had to do some serious dancing the next morning to explain where Taylor was and why they’d come home without him. They’d concocted a story about him getting sick and lying down for a bit, and said that when they’d gone to wake him he was still feeling too lousy to move, so they’d told him to rest and they’d come get him in the morning. Lying to their folks was not something any of them did well so it took all their professional performance skills to pull it off. They’d picked up their recalcitrant brother later that morning, filling him in on the details of their new act on the way home, and Taylor had been more than grateful, playing his role with conviction, the looking-sick part not hard to pull off at all by then. Lovesick. He’d been devastated to find out that the girl wasn’t looking for anything more than just some party fun. She’d told him as much before they’d even done anything but he’d felt sure he could change her mind as the night wore on. No luck though. She had a college boyfriend, and although they were having trouble and were separated during the holidays, they were going to try again. Tay had given her his phone number just in case though. She really didn’t even know exactly who he was either, which was refreshing for him because he didn’t want to think he was being used for his fame.

Weeks had passed, and although Taylor had gotten hours and hours of pleasure from the memories alone, and had felt himself altered forever by the experience, she never called. And as he began to realize the full extent of what he’d done, he let himself get more and more panicked about how stupid he’d been, especially the fact that they hadn’t used any protection and that he could either have caught something from her or gotten her pregnant, or both. So when his mother had shown him that note his mind had immediately conjured up all those fears, giving him away in an instant.

How many lectures, sermons, scoldings, and just plain long arduous talks had the boys been forced to endure on the dangers of sex outside marriage Tay wondered as he stood there facing his enraged parents? Countless agonizing ones. Their folks never missed an opportunity to drill the idea home once again. And after Tay’s first episode with the girl in his bedroom all three boys had been ordered to go through a series of sessions with their pastor as well. Now, here he was, his parent’s worst nightmare. He hadn’t learned a thing from any of it. He’d not only slept with some girl he barely knew who wasn’t even potential girlfriend material, but he hadn’t protected himself or her against anything. His parents were beyond upset or disappointed at his behavior; they were scandalized, incensed, and shocked. And he was about to feel their wrath in a big way.

Walker was literally shaking with fury. Diana rested one hand gently on his arm to try to temper his emotions some. He took a deep breath. The two of them had discussed how they would handle this and he was trying to stick to the plan. He needed to calm down some first though. He closed his eyes, took in another deep breath, and counted to ten silently. Then he turned to Ike. “Did you boys know about this? Was this that party where Taylor was ‘supposedly’ sick?” His words were dripping with sarcasm and all three boys were fighting hard not to break down.

“Oh my god. DAD, NO!” Tay suddenly cried. “You can’t do that. You can’t drag them into this. This was my fault. Please don’t do that,” he begged frantically. Oh man, if his brothers got in trouble for this too he’d never forgive himself. “Please, I’ll do anything. Just don’t punish them.” He was desperate. He struggled for a moment trying to figure out a way to handle this. Then it hit him. “I’ll take their punishments too. All of them. Whatever it takes. Just please don’t do this.”

His parents and brothers were quite taken aback by his vehemence. And Ike and Zac were mightily appreciative and impressed as well. Both were praying their dad might actually take him up on it too, although they didn’t let themselves think very hard about what that might mean for their brother. Tay was already in more trouble than any of them could even conceive of or had ever even come close to before.

Walker and Diana looked at each other and silently agreed to accept his offer - to a point. They knew that Ike and Zac had covered for Tay but that they also had been caught between ratting their brother out and saving his butt big time; a no-win situation for siblings as close as these three were. There was no way they were getting off scot-free though. They’d been accomplices, had allowed it to happen, and had lied about it. They were going to at the very least know just how wrong their parents felt that was. But that could wait. Taylor was their main concern right now. And he was going to take all their focus and energy.

“We’ll deal with you first mister, and then we’ll see about the rest,” Walker stated harshly. “You’re in no position to ask for any favors.”

“I know,” Tay whimpered. He was close to having a full-blown panic attack by then and could barely think anymore. He just wanted whatever was about to happen to happen already so it could be over soon. He had no idea what they had planned for him but he knew it was going to be truly awful. The first time he’d been punished for just fooling around with a girl, his mother had spanked him bare over her knee with her hairbrush harder then she’d ever done before, right in front of the girl. And then later that night his father had given him four more spankings in a row - hand, paddle, brush, and belt. He couldn’t even fathom how much worse it would be this time considering how much worse his offense was.

Chapter 4

His parents each took a step to the side, exposing what was on the counter behind them like game show hosts revealing the prize behind the curtain. All three boys gasped at what they saw. Next to the stove was a pile of every disciplinary implement their parents had ever used on any of them: the paddle, hairbrush, ruler, belt and wooden spoon! The spoon alone was enough to give Taylor nightmares and they all knew that. He was about to learn the harshest lesson of his life.

“Taylor, you are going to be punished with every one of these,” his father stated. Tay felt himself go limp. “And you are going to pick which one will be used and by whom and how each time.” He paused to let this information sink in. “How shall we start?”

Tay put his face in his hands and burst into tears. “Please Daddy. Please don’t do this. I can’t …” he sobbed.

“You can, and you will!” Walker declared. There would be no arguing with him. He was firm. “Now pick!”

Taylor, face still buried in his hands, shook his head back and forth. “I can’t,” he moaned. “Please. I just can’t.”

“Tay,” Ike said softly behind him. “Just do it bro. You have to. Don’t make it worse. Get it over with. It’ll all be over eventually. C’mon, you can do it,” he whispered.

Tay let his brother’s words fill him like a soothing warm liquid. He knew it was true and nothing would change it. He silently thanked Ike for giving him the courage. Slowly he lifted his head, looked at the pile, and weighed his options. Should he take the worst first? Which was the worst really, and was he ready for that yet? That spoon almost appeared to be taunting him as his eyes focused on it. The belt was no piece of cake either. And the ruler, paddle, and hairbrush were each wicked in their own right. He shook his head again trying to clear his mind, then he opened his mouth and prayed something would come out. Anything. He didn’t want to choose so he just hoped his mouth would do the talking for him.

“The paddle,” he muttered, “over your knee, Dad.” There, he’d said it. He didn’t care what he’d chosen, just that he’d chosen something and that part was over.

His father nodded, picked up the paddle, walked to the nearest chair and sat down. Taylor took a deep breath and forced himself to follow. When he got there his father took his pants down and turned him over his knee, peeling his underwear down in back as he landed. Taylor’s backside was still quite red from the spanking his mother had given him only a little more than an hour before but Walker wasn’t deterred by that at all. He raised the paddle and smacked his son’s bottom hard, and Taylor succumbed to the misery of it all before the second strike had even landed. There was little use in controlling himself now, he realized; this was going to be one hell of a stretch of time. The spanking his father administered then was memorable to say the least; it was long and hard and painful, and Taylor cried and cried.

Walker spanked Taylor’s bottom until it was practically smoking - worse than he’d ever done before. When he was finally satisfied with the job he pulled Taylor to standing and said, “One more, then you’re going to stand in the corner for awhile before we continue.” Taylor sniffled and hiccupped and tried to nod understandingly but he was pretty much beside himself and couldn’t make much sense of what was being said to him. “What’s next then, Taylor?” Walker asked, no softening of his angry tone noticeable at all.

Taylor tried to pull himself together enough to make words come but getting his mind to focus was nearly impossible. He was praying this was all a bad dream and would simply disappear if he could only wake up. No such luck. “I’m waiting,” his father prompted, none too gently.

“The hairbrush, I … guess, *sob* over Mom’s knee,” he mumbled. How he was forming these sounds he had no idea. He felt more than saw his mother walk over and take the seat his father had vacated. At least this would be familiar, he thought miserably to himself. He just had to bend over again and wait for this next part to be over. His mother took his wrist, pulled him across her lap, and adjusted him how she wanted him. “I am so ashamed of you Taylor,” she told him, her voice cracking with emotion. “I have never been so ashamed of you in my entire life!” Then she lifted the hairbrush and smacked Tay’s poor throbbing bottom hard with it. Taylor let out a wail that could break a heart, his mother’s words hurting more than ten spankings ever could. Ike turned away, and Zac shut his eyes and covered his ears with his hands. How were any of them going to get through this?

The spanking his mother gave him then was unrelenting and severe, especially on top of the two he’d already received. He howled and moaned and bawled the whole time. He didn’t care anymore how he looked or sounded. He’d done something completely reprehensible in their eyes and this was his payment. And he would take it. He had no choice of course, but he didn’t really want one anymore either. He wanted to be absolved. He wanted to be free of all the guilt and shame he felt. More than anything he needed their forgiveness. If this was what it would take then he would endure it. He could only hope it would actually result in that though. What if they never forgave him? What if they gave up on him? The thought of that was just too much for him to bear and he dissolved into complete despair.

His mother sensed this subtle shift in Taylor and brought the spanking to an end, for the time being at least. He still had plenty more payment to make, they all knew that, but all of them needed a little break for a bit. The intensity in the room was very high. She helped her sobbing son to standing and let him redress himself, then pointed to the corner he was to stand in. “I hope you will take a good, hard look at yourself Taylor,” she said sadly. “You need to do some serious soul searching. You are on the wrong path and we won’t stand idly by and watch you walk it. It’s time to grow up and be responsible for your choices. This can’t go on. It won’t!”

He nodded soberly and limped to the corner she’d indicated, her words too honest and painful for him to truly hear yet. He needed to get himself together some first. When he reached the corner he put his hands on the walls on either side of him and rested his face against the cool solid surface, letting those calming sensations wash over him. He just wanted to go to sleep.

Chapter 5

He actually did drift off for a bit, until the sharp sound of dishes clanking brought him back to reality – and to the burning, aching pain in his backside, and the knowledge that it wasn’t even half over for him yet. He had at least three more spankings to endure, plus whatever his folks had been planning on giving his brothers as well. This could go on for days. But he knew that was nothing compared to the alternative; the shame and weight and real-life consequences of what he’d done could have lasted a lifetime. He really and truly had to learn from this experience once and for all.

When the family had all gathered for dinner Taylor was called out of the corner to join them at the table. More than anything he just wanted to be alone in his misery, but his folks purposely weren’t going to allow it. He was going to be forced to sit on his throbbing bottom, right there at the dinner table with the rest of his family, the youngest ones all wondering what in god’s name he’d done this time. And since no one was offering an explanation of any sort he knew they could only imagine it was almost unspeakable. Taylor tried to eat but the best he could do was rearrange his food on his plate over and over again. It was distracting and therefore somehow comforting. And he needed that. It was nearly impossible for him to keep his mind from creating all sorts of horrific scenarios about what was yet to come.

As dinner ended his mother sent him to his room, ordering him to stand in the corner until she and his father came in. He gladly left, the intensity of his family’s disappointment way too hard to bear any longer. He retreated to his bedroom corner and waited there, his panic growing to absurd proportions now that nothing else stood in the way of what was about to happen next. Soon enough his brothers both appeared. They hastily set about arranging three chairs in a straight line in the middle of the room. Taylor’s heart pounded loudly in his chest. What was this about, he wondered? His brothers were almost palpably tense too and that wasn’t helping his nerves at all.

A few minutes later their parents arrived. Ike and Zac quickly sat in two of the chairs making it more than apparent that they had been given orders and were not about to disobey them. Taylor was called out of the corner then and put in the center chair – the obvious hot seat. The three brothers were in for an extremely nasty lecture, there was absolutely no doubt. Taylor especially didn’t like the fact that neither of his parents seemed inclined to sit down. That made him even more uneasy because they both seemed so much bigger and more powerful towering over them that way.

“Taylor,” Walker started. Taylor felt his skin tighten and his gut wrench. This was clearly going to be directed mainly at him and he kept getting smaller and smaller both inside and out in an effort to fortify his dwindling emotional reserves. “Your mother and I are shocked - completely stunned by your actions. You have disappointed us in a way we never thought possible. Never in a million years did we think you would ever do anything so … so … so stupid, so reckless, so irresponsible, so … wrong. We thought you knew better, that we had taught you better, that you had learned right from wrong by now, had some sense of propriety, honor, moral accountability. Knew what respectable behavior was. Understood the difference between decency and degeneracy. What you did was beyond wrong, Taylor. It was immoral. It was a sin.”

Tears were streaming down Taylor’s face. He sat there silently as his father tore him apart; forced him to face his lying, his selfishness, his stupidity, his wickedness. Walker laid into him for a good, long time too. So long that Taylor began to disappear inside himself. If this had been a movie his father’s voice would have quietly faded into the background while the camera zoomed in for a close-up of Taylor’s face as he slowly and inexorably broke. He was barely listening anymore, he was so distraught.

“Taylor!” Walker barked suddenly, breaking Tay’s trance. “Are you listening to me? Have you heard anything I’ve been saying to you? You had better get yourself together mister. I won’t tolerate this sort of disrespect. Stand up!”

Taylor couldn’t think clearly so he didn’t move, which only served to anger his father further. Walker came toward him, grabbed him by both arms and jerked him to standing. Then he shook him hard. “Answer me now!” he demanded

“I …I …don’t know,” Tay whimpered, not even sure what question he was responding to at this point.

“You ‘don’t know’? You ‘don’t know’ what?” Walker demanded with a harsh shake. “Speak up. Have you been listening to me at all? What do you have to say for yourself?”

“I … I don’t know,” Tay repeated, his voice quaky and barely audible.

“You don’t know?” Walker roared, his temper flaring to levels none of the boys had ever seen before, nor ever wanted to again. He raised his hand and slapped Taylor across the face. “Well, you had better know. You had better start thinking, boy!” he hissed. “You need some sense slapped into you. You don’t know? Well who does then? I ask you. Who? You are the only one in there,” he yelled, pointing at Tay’s head. “If you don’t know, who does? Hmmm. Tell me. I’d like to hear that one.”

“Daddy, pleeeeaaaase,” Taylor moaned, holding his poor stinging cheek. He couldn’t make heads or tails of what was expected of him right then. He knew he should have been paying closer attention but it was all just way too hard to hear. Not that that was a viable excuse to his father.

“’Please’ what, Taylor?” Walker snapped. “I have had it with you young man. You are going to learn that you have to start taking responsibility for yourself or else,” and with that he spun Taylor around and spanked his bottom hard half a dozen times. Tay wailed, the pain so intense he couldn’t stand it. His backside was on fire and the few smacks his father gave him were absolute agony.

When Walker finished he dropped Taylor back onto his seat, making the unhappy boy yelp loudly as he landed. Taylor covered his face, leaned over and curled himself up into a ball. He didn’t know what else to do.

“No you don’t, mister. You’ll look at me when I’m speaking to you,” Walker yelled, yanking Taylor upright. “Look at me!” he demanded.

Taylor swallowed hard and tried to pull himself together as best he could. He could feel his brothers on either side of him cringing painfully at what they were witnessing. They were learning this lesson better than he was, he thought miserably.

“You have some serious work to do Taylor. You are on a dangerous path to destruction and disaster. And as long as we are your parents we will not let you continue in this direction. I don’t care what it takes. We will make sure you never do anything like this again. Do you understand me?” Walker was practically panting by this point. This was a moment he’d never thought he’d have to face. He thought they’d done everything possible as parents to assure nothing like this would ever happen, and yet here it was, staring them right in the face. Mocking them even. How could Taylor have been so stupid? He just couldn’t understand.

“Do you have any idea how lucky you were?” Walker asked suddenly. “Do you?”

“Yessss, ssiirr,” Taylor muttered.

“Good!” Walker declared. “But that should be the least of your worries. Your soul is what is really in danger right now. What could you possibly have been thinking? What could have been going through your thick skull that you thought this was a good idea on any level?” Suddenly Walker was struck with a thought. “Were you drunk?” he practically blared. “Oh my god! Were you drunk?”

Taylor hadn’t thought it was possible to be in any more trouble than he already was, yet here it was. Ike and Zac both groaned. Tay was a dead man.

Walker’s eyes grew wide as Taylor sat there silently, giving himself away once again. “You were, weren’t you? Oh my dear lord! Diana, give me that spoon. This boy is going to learn a very painful lesson right this minute.”

“Dad!,” Tay howled pitifully, but it did no good. His father pulled him to standing and practically tore his pants off him. He threw him over his knees as he sat down, and bared his backside in one swift yank. Then he spanked Tay’s already bruised and battered bottom like there was no tomorrow. Taylor shrieked and hollered at the top of his lungs. “NO!” he screamed. “Daddy, NO! Pleeeeaaase. Ooooohhhhh! Oh, I can’t … I can’t …I …” and his voice trailed off into a steady, high pitched wail. Ike and Zac covered their ears, squeezed their eyes tight shut, and tried to make the whole thing disappear.

Chapter 6

Tay awoke with a start. He’d been having a bad dream. His head felt heavy and thick, almost like he had a hangover - something he definitely didn’t want his folks to ever know he’d had any experience with. He shifted slightly, wincing hard as the bedcovers scraped his backside, then was rocked by a powerful jolt of adrenaline as it all came racing back. It wasn’t a dream at all. His bottom felt like the skin had been seared off, and the muscles underneath ached all the way to the bone. He hurt from head to toe, and from the inside out too. His sluggish brain suddenly exploded with awful images: the moment his mother had opened the studio door and said “Taylor, we need to talk!”; her handing him that note; the hard, angry spanking she’d given him; the sound of his father’s voice coming over the intercom ordering him upstairs to his fate; and so on and so on. Seeing that pile of spanking tools on the kitchen counter; the pain of the paddle as his father whaled away on his already burning bottom; then getting it again right away with the hairbrush over his mother’s knee. And worst of all, the words she’d said to him. How ashamed she was of him. It made his heart hurt just to think of it. And still, the evening had worn on. Corner time in the kitchen, the interminable dinner, then sitting on those chairs lined up like a firing squad in their bedroom and being raked over the coals by his father like never before. And it had somehow actually managed to go down hill even further still from there. How was that possible? But his father’s anger had been over the top. The slap across the face, the angry swats, the revelation of the drinking, and lastly, the truly terrible spanking he’d gotten with that wooden spoon. By that point his bottom had felt so injured and fragile it was pure torture. He’d never felt anything like it.

When the spanking had finally ended he’d been ordered to bed with a last dreaded admonishment, “We’ll continue this in the morning, young man.” He’d collapsed gratefully on his sheets praying he’d be able to sleep and hopefully forget everything for a few blissful hours, but sleep had been fitful at best and now he felt groggy and dull. He knew he was going to be so edgy that day that if anyone even looked at him wrong he’d either dissolve into tears or bite their head off – the latter of which was not even an option really as he couldn’t take getting in any more trouble at this point. He was going to have to walk on eggshells all day. And how many more spankings was he in for today, he wondered anxiously, on the verge of crying already?

He drifted off again for a bit but was bolted out of his slumber by his mother’s terse voice coming over the intercom. “You boys need to get up and come down to the kitchen now,” she ordered. There would be no arguing, it was a definitive command. All three boys dragged themselves to consciousness and headed out the door, giving each other embarrassed, nervous glances out of the corners of their eyes in the hopes of bolstering their collective courage. It didn’t really work.

They arrived to find the rest of the clan finishing breakfast, everyone visibly anxious as they anticipated another uncomfortable scene. “We’re going to deal with all three of you right now,” Diana told them. “I know Taylor asked to take your punishments too,” she said, nodding toward Ike and Zac, “and he will, to a point. But you are both still going to get a good, sound spanking. There’s no way your father and I are willing to let you off the hook entirely. What you did was unacceptable. Isaac, come here please.”

All three boys were trembling. Taylor wanted to scream. How could they do this? He was stunned. He had really thought he had gotten his brothers out of this mess. But it was not to be. Isaac simply lowered his head and did as he was told. He didn’t feel like fighting this one; his folks were beyond reasoning with and he knew he deserved it anyway. He readily let his mother turn him over her knee and slide his pajamas down in back to bare his behind. Then she raised her hand and very expertly delivered the good, sound spanking she’d just promised. He squirmed and groaned, an occasional whimper slipping out between smacks, but all in all it wasn’t one of the worst spankings he’d ever gotten. He knew then that that was what Taylor had saved them from. It was embarrassing and painful as always, getting spanked bare bottomed upturned over a knee like a little kid, but still pretty bearable all things considered. He got a stinging scolding at the end as a last flourish while still balanced precariously across his mother’s lap too. Then, when he was finally let up, face red and tear-stained, Zac was immediately called over and given the exact same treatment. He didn’t take it quite as well though, struggling and crying considerably harder than his older brother had done, but still he too knew he’d gotten off somewhat lightly. The final blow was that they were grounded from going to any parties for a month. Both boys felt thoroughly chastised, but grateful and relieved at the same time. Each was painfully aware that it could have been so much worse. And being grounded from parties only wasn’t such a big thing for them. They could handle that.

Taylor, on the other hand, wasn’t in for such a relatively easy time. His mother called him over next. He was already shaky from watching Ike and Zac get punished for something that was his fault so his mother’s sharp voice easily set his heart racing. “Taylor, you are going to get the rest of your brothers’ punishments now,” she told him, holding him by both wrists and looking him hard in the eyes. She had to steel herself to continue though as he looked completely distraught. But she knew she had to get through this. It was her job. And he had to learn. This was very serious business.

She tried to pull him across her lap but he balked, tears raining down his cheeks. “Momma,” he moaned pitifully, “I … c...can’t. I … d…d…don’t think I can. It hurts so bad. Pleeeaase. I’m sorry. Pleeaase don’t … spank me,” he sobbed. It nearly broke her heart but she wouldn’t be swayed. She couldn’t allow herself to be. He deserved this and he would get it – all of it.

“I’m sorry Taylor, but this is the price you pay,” she stated firmly, tightening her grip on his wrist. “You need to realize you are getting off lightly mister. You will take your punishment because you deserve it. All of it and nothing less. And be grateful too. The consequences for what you did could have been so much worse and you know that.” Then she pulled him over her knee, pinned him tight, bared his bottom, and started spanking. He couldn’t handle it. His bottom was on fire before she’d even begun. He kicked and thrashed furiously, screaming and pleading and sobbing from the very start. She held him hard and persevered though and it was quickly apparent to everyone that this was not going to be like the punishments she’d just given his brothers. Taylor was in for another truly severe spanking. He was getting all of what she hadn’t given Ike or Zac, and then some. It was agonizing to watch and his whole family sat there frozen in silence as his wails filled the room. This was his fifth serious spanking in less than twenty-four hours. They all knew just how badly it had to hurt, one on top of the other like that, with little time in between to heal or recover at all. Taylor was beside himself - utterly and completely miserable.

After the spanking the boys were told to sit down and eat breakfast. Diana watched Taylor like a hawk throughout. She wasn’t about to let him start fiddling with his food again. She’d seen him do that last night and knew he needed some sustenance by now. Feeling his mother’s eyes on him Taylor made as much food as possible go down, but it was like fighting a losing battle, his throat was so tight and his stomach so upset. Still, he didn’t want another lecture, or worse, so he forced the issue as best he could.

Lessons that morning were agony as well. Diana assigned Taylor several morality stories from a Bible-based textbook she had. And she took every opportunity possible to grill him on what he was learning from them. She even made him write an essay about it all and read it out loud in front of everyone. His cheeks were flaming red the whole time, and so hot he was sure you could fry an egg on them.

Diana spent a good deal of the lesson time combing the internet and making phone calls, collecting information on teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and the like. At the end of their daily school session she told Taylor what was still in store for him. He was grounded for a month from all amusements – if it wasn’t school or work related it wasn’t allowed. That meant no TV, social phone or computer usage, videogames, friends over, visiting, going out, etc. He was also going to be assigned daily Bible studies with a pointed focus on the subjects of personal responsibility, sinfulness, and sexual carelessness, as well as read all the pamphlets and books his mother had just ordered on those subjects. There would be tests and assignments on all of it. And any infractions would result in a severe spanking on the spot. It was that simple.

She didn’t, however, address the fact that he still had the ruler and belt to face. When were his folks going to bring that back up, he wondered? He was praying those two would be the end of it at least. He really couldn’t be sure that last night’s spanking with the spoon had actually counted as one of the original five he’d been sentenced to though. He hadn’t chosen the instrument, nor said how it would be delivered, and he knew very well that was part of the deal. And his folks never wavered once they set a punishment - that was a given. He had a terrible sinking feeling that that spanking had been in addition to, not instead of, and specific only to the drinking. Was it really possible that his parents still intended to give him three more spankings after all this? He knew very well that it was.

Chapter 7

The day wore on, Taylor’s backside hurting so intensely that sitting was agony, and standing wasn’t much fun either. He hissed and caught his breath often, even sometimes just as only the fabric of his clothes pressed on it. He wanted to lie down on his belly naked so his poor bottom could get some relief but he wasn’t allowed. He had chores to do, and homework after that. The boys put in some practice time too, each choosing to work privately on their own songs instead of collaborating though. Interaction was just too taxing and complicated for them right now. Ike and Zac knew Tay was a nervous wreck.

When Ike had realized what Tay was intending to do, way back at that ill-fated party last December, he’d been flabbergasted. The boys had been brought up to believe that there was no such thing as safe sex and so you simply don’t mess with it. It’s just too dangerous. Taylor, however, had always had a deep-seated rebellious streak in him. He covered it well, usually acting the part of a very nicely-behaved young man, but tell him ‘no’ when he really wanted to do something and he would find a way to do it just to prove he had the power to. It was a very dysfunctional pattern for sure. And often got him punished harder than the other two brothers combined. Ike had tried to persuade Taylor that he was playing with fire that night but he could also see that he was treading a fine line between showing his younger sibling the error of his ways and simply pushing him further into his single-minded determination to do it. The beers Tay had drunk weren’t helping matters either. Tay was pretty high. Ike knew that as the big brother he’d be in major trouble if his parents ever found out he’d let Tay get like that. How he was supposed to stop him though, he’d never understood. Tay was like a pit bull when he set his mind to something. He got that from their mother!

Ike had given up eventually but had resented the whole situation ever since. Taylor had put him in a terrible position, and then done something incredibly reckless to boot. But although Ike was very disappointed in Taylor, he was also a bit jealous too. Jealous that his little brother was so much more fearless and daring and passionate. Willing to do things Ike was just too afraid to try. It irked him no end that Taylor wasn’t a virgin anymore and at two and half years older he still was. Yet part of him also believed that sex before marriage was wrong. He was confused and unsure of himself, and it pissed him off that Taylor knew his own heart so much better than he did, and followed it readily despite sometimes potentially serious consequences. It was frustrating to say the least. And it made it all that much harder to have any sympathy for the predicament his younger brother was in right now.

At fourteen, Zac, on the other hand, was still a little too young to fully grasp all the many ramifications of the situation so he was just simply worried that Tay was never going to be okay again. His big brother seemed to be suffering badly; seemed wounded somewhere so deep in his soul that he might not ever fully recover. And Zac knew it wasn’t over for Tay yet either. He really didn’t think Tay could take much more though; although he was strong in many ways, he also seemed quite fragile and breakable at times.

The brothers were at a loss as to how to help Tay so they basically just left him alone in his suffering. And Tay was truly suffering. He was playing his piano in a way that made his brothers’ hearts hurt. He kept scribbling notes and lyrics down furiously too. That was a sure sign that he was rampaging inside; that his guilt and shame and ego were all at war with each other and no matter which one won it was going to be a loss. A loss of something essential in his being. Tay destroyed himself little by little. He had a death wish or something, that was all Ike could figure. Why else would he act the way he did?

That was exactly the question Taylor himself was wrestling with right then as well, as he worked out his tangled feelings through his music. It would be such a relief, he knew, if only he could figure it out. Why did he act that way? Why did he do things he knew were wrong, or at the very least forbidden? Did he have a need to get caught, or just a need to disobey? He hated thinking he was so shallow, so simple, that he acted purely out of spite or defiance. Or was he just powerfully driven by some deep need in his soul to experience life passionately regardless of the consequences? He wanted to believe that last one most of all but he had his doubts as well.

Although he sometimes felt like a wild bird locked in a gilded cage, he often was extremely thankful for the protection that nice cage offered too. He wanted to fly free and far, yet he was attracted, even addicted, to the safety and comfort of the boundaries it provided. It was enticing. He was torn and struggling. He wasn’t really sorry that he’d had sex with Anna. In fact, he was proud that he’d had the courage to do so in the face of all he’d been taught. Pleased he had a mind of his own and didn’t just follow other people’s rules blindly. But he wasn’t so sure it was really the right thing either. He’d felt ashamed of himself that he’d been so weak in the throes of temptation. That he’d given himself to someone who apparently didn’t even really care for him. Or worse yet, used her for his own selfish desires. Maybe he was just bad; bad in the worst definition of the word – flawed, deficient, ruthless, egotistic.

And he felt extreme guilt at having disappointed his parents so profoundly too - making them feel like they’d failed at raising him. Screwed up somehow, totally misread him. And mislead themselves into complacency too readily in the process as well. He didn’t think that at all. He loved them dearly. And respected them wholeheartedly. Thought they’d done a damn fine job bringing him and his siblings up. It was difficult, challenging work, of that he had no doubt. He just didn’t always agree with everything they believed in. Yet, he was also aware that he was young and inexperienced and had so much to learn still. They had lived through so many more years than he, accumulated way more knowledge and wisdom about the ways of the world. Who was he to disagree? Who was he to be so righteous and arrogant – to assume he knew better. Oh man, this was hard stuff.

Did he think he deserved all the punishment they were doling out though? It was certainly severe. He’d never had to endure anything like it before, and up till now he’d thought he’d experienced it all and it couldn’t possibly get worse. His folks never ceased to amaze him, however, in how they could make him reevaluate his standards so constantly. He had forced them to raise the bar so many times already, yet no matter how hard he pushed them, they always came back fighting – fighting for him really. Fighting for his soul, his integrity, his future. Suddenly, the realization of that truth hit him like a thunderbolt, nearly knocking him over. And he was ashamed of himself. Truly, deeply ashamed.

Taylor put his head in his hands and broke into sobs. Ike and Zac looked up at the sound, then glanced at each other in surprise. What was happening? “Tay?” Ike ventured. “What’s up man? What’s going on?” he asked, getting up and going over to him. He sat on the piano bench next to his trembling brother, wrapping his arm around him and rocking him gently, trying to calm him some. Zac got up and came over too. He stood behind them and stroked Tay’s back softly. Then they waited.

After a few minutes Taylor lifted his wet face and sighed. “Thanks,” he said tearfully. “I love you guys.” Both Ike and Zac smiled sadly and gave him a little squeeze.

“So you gonna tell us what that was all about?” Zac teased, trying to lighten the mood a bit.

Tay took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I was just feeling sorry for myself, I guess,” he said. “I thought about it all and came to the conclusion that Mom and Dad are just trying to do what they think is best for me. They only have my best interest in mind. As always. And that just made me feel so stupid and ashamed of myself.” He paused trying to gather his thoughts again. “But it hurts so bad,” he moaned. “I never thought they’d ever punish me this hard. Although I suppose if I’d actually really thought about it in this case, I’d have probably guessed. I know how lucky I am. Lucky that I didn’t catch anything, and especially lucky that she’s not pregnant, but I guess I hoped it could be my little secret. That Mom and Dad would never find out. It’s awful, you know? Knowing they know this about me. That they know I didn’t learn anything they taught me – or just didn’t agree. Or just plain defied them. And it’s so embarrassing too. I know everyone else in the whole family is whispering and wondering and guessing what’s going on since Mom and Dad aren’t saying it outright. It’s humiliating. I was so stupid. So irresponsible. So immature. No wonder they still treat me like a little kid. When am I gonna grow up?”

“Tay?” Ike blurted out suddenly, no longer able to keep quiet. “Are you glad you did it though? Glad you’re not a virgin anymore?” He felt exposed and vulnerable asking these questions but he had to know.

Tay looked at him in surprise. He hadn’t expected that question. He thought about it a few moments, then nodded his head. “Yes!” he said. “It was amazing. Like you can’t believe. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. God, you guys. You can’t believe what it feels like. It’s … it’s …, god, …I don’t know how to describe it. Spectacular!” Then he paused for a second. “I just wish I hadn’t been so stupid,” he groaned, completely disgusted with himself. “I mean, I should have at least used protection. Good god. What the hell was I thinking? I know better than that. It’s such a cliché. She told me not to worry and that was good enough for me. And I was so drunk and horny and eager by that point that I believed her. What an idiot. It’s like the oldest, most pathetic story in the world. Oh man. I’m so lucky. I can’t believe it. Why was I so lucky anyway? I sure didn’t deserve to be. Of course now that Mom and Dad have found out I guess I’m not so lucky after all.”

Then it hit him. That was why Anna had called and exposed him. He’d been so mad at her for doing it but now he knew it was exactly what he needed really. To save him from himself. He should get down on his knees and thank her, he thought. She was his guardian angel in a way. If she hadn’t called he would never have realized the error of his ways. He would have just continued on his self-destructive path, thinking himself invincible, and eventually ended up in much greater trouble than he was in right now. The kind of trouble a spanking – or even five or more – could never even come close to paying for. It was a huge relief actually. He closed his eyes and gave a silent prayer of thanks to her. And he was glad he had her number now so he could call and tell her that.

Chapter 8

A little while later Diana called the boys up to dinner, the sound of her voice once again setting Tay’s heart racing. He had a gut feeling he was about to face the next chapter of his reckoning and he wasn’t ready yet. His bottom still ached and burned like crazy and his emotions were delicate and unstable.

When he got to the kitchen his eyes immediately locked on what was sitting at his place at the table. He froze. He stood there immoveable as everyone else milled about, slowly gathering for dinner, blithely unaware until Taylor’s stillness and nearly palpable fear – and intense gaze - tipped them off. There, next to his plate, sat a ruler, their father’s belt - and the wooden spoon! He had his answer now. An oppressive silence fell over everyone. Tay’s blood was pounding loudly in his ears. That was all he could hear - that, and the clock ticking somewhere in the background.

Slowly, as if in a trance, he walked over to the table. He reached out his hand warily and wrapped his trembling fingers around the handle of the spoon. He picked it up and stared at it trying to decide if he could do what he knew he had to do. Then he turned towards his mother. “Mom,” he said quietly, looking up at her, his voice barely audible, “I … I… um … would you … um … spank me with this … over your knee?” Everyone gasped. They couldn’t believe he’d just asked that. Of course, most of them didn’t know that was part of his sentence. Tay held the spoon out to her. It was more than apparent how scared he was - the thing was shaking like crazy.

Diana cleared her throat. She was surprised by how readily Taylor had accepted his responsibility, and more than a little proud of him too. She nodded and pulled her chair out from the head of the table. Taylor began to unfasten his pants as he walked over to her, but then stopped and looked up at her for permission. He wasn’t sure if he was allowed to do that for himself; when he was in this much trouble his parents usually forced him to submit to the ultimate humiliation of being undressed by them like a little child. But his mother nodded softly and he dropped his eyes and carefully slid his pants to his knees as he reached her side.

He looked down at her lap then and almost lost it – he didn’t know if he could go through with it now. He wasn’t ready. Tears welled up and he sniffled. “Damn, get yourself together,” he silently scolded himself. “You brought this on yourself, now grow up and deal with it.” He took a deep breath trying to heed his own advice but his mother took his wrist and yanked him over her knee then and his courage almost fled entirely. “Moooommma,” he whimpered desperately, but if she heard him she didn’t acknowledge it. She wanted this whole thing over with nearly as much as he did. She stripped his backside bare and raised her arm.

The spoon felt like lightening striking. It cracked and sizzled on his smarting bottom over and over. He tried with all his might not to fight or plead but it simply got to be too much for him. He started to squirm some but that very quickly degenerated into kicking and bucking and begging, and finally he just couldn’t stand it anymore; he reached back, grabbed his red-hot, burning cheeks with both hands and wailed, “Stoooop, pleeeease! Moommmmma, I … can’t … take … it…. Pleeeaaase…. I need a … a …break … at least.… Pleeeaaase.” He was crying hard and gasping in between sobs trying to catch his breath and settle his nerves. His mother paused for a moment, taking pity and letting him rest a bit, but she wasn’t done yet; she intended to take full advantage of this opportunity and teach him a lesson that would last forever. She never ever wanted to have to do this again. And she told him as much. Between smacks she lectured him harshly on why he was receiving this spanking and how he could prevent it in the future. She kept it in couched terms so the littler kids weren’t exposed to anything they were too young to hear, but she got her point across quite clearly all the same. And the spanking continued for a good long while too. Taylor was left with no doubt about just how wrong he’d been and how ashamed his folks were of him.

When his mother finally finished he lay there limply over her knees, bawling and breathless. It was all he could do to drag himself to standing and pull his pants back up when she released him. He took great care to avoid having his clothes come in contact with his flaming backside for as long as possible too, but that could only last so long. Soon enough his pants were chafing his scorched skin and creating a thermal layer that intensified the stinging heat ten-fold. And then he was ordered to sit down for dinner as well. He limped over to his chair, pulled it out, and looked down at the hard seat. How was he ever going to voluntarily lower himself onto that? Oh man. He had to though, so he did, wincing and gasping painfully at the pressure. His brothers and sisters tried not to notice, knowing how embarrassing it had to be. And Taylor would certainly have been grateful for their sympathy if he’d even been able to think, but he was in way too much misery to pay attention to such things.

And sitting right in front of him throughout the entire torturous meal were the belt and the ruler. They seemed to be staring at him, laughing at him, deriding him. It was all he could do to put any food down his throat. How was he supposed to eat with those things sitting there and with everyone watching him, shaking their heads in disappointment at him? Or so it felt like was happening? And those two implements seemed to be reminding him constantly that he still had more to come too. That it wasn’t over yet. He still wasn’t done paying. That’s how bad he’d been.

As the meal came to an end Taylor began to wonder what was in store for him next. He didn’t have to worry too long though as his father suddenly spoke up. “Taylor,” he said, sounding exhausted and sad, “After you have cleaned up the dishes, your mother and I would like to speak with you in our room.” Oh god. What was this about, he wondered, his heart beginning to pound once more? They couldn’t be going to spank him again so soon, could they? They didn’t ask him to bring the belt and ruler. Was that a good sign, or were they just going to bring them themselves? His heart was doing the 50-yard dash. “Yes, sir,” he mumbled, unable to make much sound come out of his scratchy, raw throat. He’d been doing so much crying and yelling lately it was going to be days before he could sing well again.

Chapter 9

Ike and Zac stayed to help Tay clean up since they knew he was moving pretty slowly. All three worked in silence though, and purposefully avoided even touching the ruler and belt as they went about their business. When they were all done the two torture tools sat alone on the kitchen table, larger than life and loudly symbolizing the whole mess Taylor was in, and then some. Tay had been deliberately refusing to let them even enter his field of vision, but when the last dish was in the washer and the last counter wiped, he could no longer deny their presence so he forced himself to look. His stomach wrenched at all they represented for him. He took a deep breath, heaved a great, shaky sigh, then frowned sadly at his brothers and left the kitchen on his long, agonizing journey to their parent’s room.

On the way Taylor let his mind drift back to that glorious yet complicated night. He knew he wouldn’t trade it for anything regardless. If he had any regrets at all it was only that he’d been stupid enough not to take precautions, and that he’d obviously misread Anna’s intentions, assuming she was interested in something long term, not just a one-night stand. He shuddered at the pathetic sound of that. One-night stand. It was not something he’d ever thought he’d end up doing. He’d imagined himself above that and now here he was, just another ordinary sorry statistic. He didn’t regret having slept with her though. Not at all. In fact, he’d loved every minute of it and if anything, wanted more. He put his hand in the pocket of his jeans and felt the paper he’d put there – Anna’s phone number. Suddenly he realized, maybe he hadn’t been wrong about her feelings after all.

When they’d woken up the next morning they’d made love two more times, Taylor feeling more and more sure that this was the real thing. So when she’d told him it was not to be, and wouldn’t even give him her phone number, he’d been stunned. He’d left his number on her dresser just in case though. Still, as the weeks had passed he’d been forced to realize just how stupid he’d been. And he’d been berating himself ever since thinking she’d just used him – that he’d been nothing more than a pawn in the deal. But suddenly the game had changed. When she’d called yesterday she’d flipped the power switch. Now he knew she’d been thinking about him all along and simply waiting for the right time to call him. Now the controls were in his hands. Would he call her back? Definitely! As soon as possible. He knew he was grounded but he’d find a way. He couldn’t let this chance get by. He wanted more. There was something special about her.

As he reached his parent’s door he realized he’d better get himself refocused again - shift his thoughts back to being repentant and contrite or this was not going to go well. He concentrated hard on the things he knew he’d done wrong and had the most to learn from – primarily the lack of precautions he’d taken on so many levels including the unprotected sex, the hasty belief that he’d meant something to her, the sticky situation he’d put his brothers in, and more. Soon enough he was feeling remorse and shame again. He’d have to stay alert though or his folks would end up making him reveal the main crux of the issue - that he wasn’t sorry for sleeping with her - and that could be very bad for him. For a long time. Way longer than the healing time of the spankings he was getting now, or even the grounding.

He knocked tentatively and was invited in. His folks were stationed in their sitting room area, his mom on the couch and his father on the big easy chair opposite him. He stood there nervously, not knowing what they expected of him and not willing to be the one to start. His father called him over, then cleared his throat ominously. Taylor cringed.

“Taylor, we want you to take a moment at this time and reevaluate the past two days. Recount for us each part of the process and what you have learned from it so far.”

Taylor’s eyes grew wide. Did they really want him to literally say exactly how he’d been punished every step of the way? Oh god. This was going to be awful. How could he possibly get those words out? He just stood there looking at them, fear and shock written all over his face.

“You can start with when your mother confronted you about that phone call,” Walker prompted, unswayed by his son’s obvious discomfort.

“Dad, I … um … you … do you mean … um … that you want me to … um … describe all the … um … spankings … I’ve gotten?” he stuttered anxiously, praying the answer would be ‘no’.

“That’s exactly what I mean, Taylor. And we want you to take your time and actually feel them and remember them as you say them too, so you never forget them. And more importantly really, we want to know what you’ve learned from them. We want this to be the one and only time we ever have to go through this with you. Ever! Got it?”

Taylor gulped and nodded, and then hung his head. He didn’t know why he was so surprised really. They had always made it abundantly clear that the punishment for doing what he’d done would be memorable on a level no one would ever want to experience. But still, this felt too much for even that. He took a deep breath and sighed loudly, but he also knew there was nothing to do but obey at this point.

“Well, um …,” he started slowly. “Mom came downstairs and told me that Anna had called and *wince* she gave me a spanking. And then …”

His father quickly cut him off. “No, we want details. We want you to take some time and relive the experience. You will not gloss over it. You have completely disappointed us, and forced us to nearly exhaust ourselves in the process as well. You will describe in detail exactly what happened so it is branded on your brain forever. Now, try again!”

Taylor felt tears well up in his throat but he fought them back. He couldn’t break down yet. He had a long arduous task ahead of him still. “Um, she, well, um, she sat down on my piano bench, took my pants down, turned me over her knee, and spanked me bare with her hand really hard and long. I don’t know how long, but pretty long. More than usual for sure.” Taylor paused to catch his breath and see if his father was going to accept this description. When he didn’t say anything Taylor gathered his resolve and continued. “And then she said we’d deal with it more when you got home.” He paused again.

“So when you got home …” he started once more, but was cut off again.

“What did you do then Taylor? What were you feeling? This is key to us. We want to know what was going on in your head at each point.”

Taylor swallowed hard. He wasn’t sure he could remember any more, nor that he wanted to. But then he pictured himself standing there next to his piano bench, dazed and lost, his backside on fire and his emotions stunned and in turmoil.

“Well, um, first I, um, realized how incredibly lucky I was that she wasn’t pregnant.” He paused again, fearful that this obviously selfish revelation would make his folks angry. They just stared back at him nodding though, so he continued. “And I was really thankful. Um.” God, where to go from there though since that was the main thing he’d felt? Man, this was really hard. Luckily some other thoughts came back to him then. Ones he knew his folks would find worthy too. “And then I went back in my mind and thought about the times I’d been punished for getting caught with Candy and with Nat.”

It occurred to him suddenly that his folks had drilled those lessons home so hard back then as well, that he’d automatically done then what they wanted him to do right now – go back in time in his head and revisit those punishments to see what he’d learned from them. Trouble was the only thing he’d really learned from all of it was that he had to be more careful not to get caught in the future. Well maybe he hadn’t even learned that one. *sigh* He had to tread very cautiously here. These were just the sort of thoughts he couldn’t share in their entirety. But how to edit? This was going to be tricky.

He tried to clear his mind and take wise and careful steps. He decided to skip to the next lesson hoping they’d let him off the hook because it was such a good, commendable one. “And I also felt really bad about how I’d mixed Zac and Ike up in it.” He stopped and waited, praying they’d be okay with his leap. There wasn’t much left to say from that particular time in this two-day-long fiasco yet anyway since he hadn’t gotten very far with his soul searching by that point. His folks just looked at him, silently giving him permission to continue but clearly letting him know they were expecting him to get to something with more substance and significance soon.

“Well, when you got home, Dad, you called us all up and I got really worried about what Zac and Ike were in for. And when you started asking them about what they knew, I panicked and said I’d take their punishments too. And I meant it. I really did.” He paused again to see if he was winning any points. His folks were grim-faced and unmoved though so he just kept on. “Then you asked me if I’d really had … um … sex with her, *flinch* and I said yes, *pause, still nothing* so you showed me what was on the counter and said I was gonna get spanked with everyone of those things - and that I had to pick which one, and who would give it to me, and how, each time too.” Suddenly the memory of that moment came flooding back, hitting him like a tidal wave and knocking the wind right out of him. He had to pause to catch his breath and regroup.

“So I picked the paddle over your knee first, Dad, and then you spanked me with it. And then I picked the hairbrush over Mom’s knee and she spanked me too.” Oh my god. This was killing him. He didn’t know how much more he could take. And the memory of what his mother had said to him then – how ashamed she was of him - was simply too painful to repeat so he quickly moved on. “Then I had to stand in the corner until dinner.” Taylor remembered being so tired at that point that he’d actually dozed off for a bit. He didn’t tell them that though.

“After dinner Mom sent me to my room to stand in the corner until you both came in. Zac and Ike too. And then you started lecturing, telling me how wrong I’d been and that you thought I knew better and how much I’d disappointed you and stuff. I know it, I really do, and I’m sorry, but I still hadn’t had much of a chance to think about any of it yet so it was hard for me to hear. And you noticed that I wasn’t seeming to pay attention and got so mad. I WAS though. Paying attention, I mean. I really was. I just couldn’t hear yet. And when you asked me if I was listening to you I just couldn’t think anymore so all I could say was ‘I don’t know’ over and over, and that was when you pulled me up and slapped me – and then turned me around and gave me a whole bunch of swats.” He was panting now, tears rolling slowly down his cheeks, so he slowed down a bit and tried to gulp in some fresh air. “Then you kind of realized I must have been drunk that night, and since I didn’t deny it that was when you spanked me with the wooden spoon.” Holy shit, this was torture. He put his face in his hands and fought back a powerful wave of emotion. “Then you said we’d continue in the morning. By that point I couldn’t think at all and I just wanted to go to sleep.” He stood there silently, desperately trying to fight the rising sobs that were aching in his throat. He knew he had to keep going though. He shook himself to clear his mind and with a quaky voice continued.

“Then, this morning Mom called us all to breakfast and said she was going to handle Zac and Ike’s part in it all. I really thought I’d gotten them off but I knew then that I’d only lessened their punishment a bit. Mom spanked both of them over her knee by hand. That was the worst really. That was just really hard for me to take. I couldn’t believe I’d gotten them in trouble too. And then she did the same to me, but much worse. At least it seemed that way to me.” He looked up at his mother nervously and she nodded solemnly.

“Then we had to eat breakfast and do our school sessions during which Mom made me read a bunch of Bible stories and write an essay on them which I had to read out loud.” He was blushing hard at this point, his cheeks burning red and hot, just like they had been back then. “And she told me I was grounded for a month too and was going to be given a lot of stuff like that to read and write about – and some stuff on teen pregnancy and std’s and stuff too.” He was racing through now wanting this hell to be over. And trying to get to a point where he could actually finally explain himself too; he knew that was what they were really waiting for. Yet he really didn’t know how he was going to do that since he couldn’t say the main thing he knew they wanted to hear – that he’d learned it was wrong to have sex before marriage and he’d never do it again.

He plodded on. “It was after that, when we went down into the studio to work, that I finally was able to do some thinking about it all and see what was motivating me. I thought about a lot of things too. I really did. I asked myself if I’d just been being deliberately disobedient or defiant or spiteful or something. I really don’t think I did any of this for those reasons though.” He took a deep breath. Here was the truth now and he wasn’t sure how’d they take it. “It’s just that sometimes I feel like a caged bird and I just want some freedom. Freedom to make my own choices. But I also really love the safety of the life you’ve provided for me too. I’m sort of caught. I know what you’ve taught me, I do, it’s just that I don’t always agree with it all. Yet, I really do respect you. And I want you to be proud of me, and to trust me. I hate knowing how much I disappointed you. I feel really, really guilty about that. That I made you think you’d failed at raising me or something. I don’t think that at all. I know you’ve done a great job. It’s not your fault if I can’t control myself or make good decisions all the time. Or act exactly like you want me to. I have to make a lot of mistakes on my own. I need to. You can’t make everything perfect for me. It’s not possible. I’m just human. And I need to discover my own way.”

He could tell that his folks weren’t liking his words at all. They were waiting, praying even, for something else. Somewhere deep inside them they’d hoped he would simply say he’d been wrong about having sex, had learned his lesson, and would never do it again – until he was married. Well, he couldn’t say that. He just couldn’t. But if he told them that directly he had a feeling he’d never see the light of day without a chaperone again. He continued on quickly.

“I also felt really ashamed of myself that I’d lost control so completely that I didn’t take any precautions and didn’t even consider the serious consequences. I don’t know what I was thinking. I know better. I really do. I realized that that was maybe why Anna called me again yesterday. To wake me up. To make me think about it all and get my act together. I know how wrong I was and how lucky too. I promise I won’t do anything so stupid again.” There, that was as close as he could get to offering the prize they were hoping for.

He didn’t like the darkening looks on their faces. He forged on. “And the main thing I realized was that I put you guys in a terrible position, forcing you to have to take a really harsh stand, and that you do that for me time and time again no matter what I pull. And I’m really ashamed of myself that I’m the cause of so much upset for you, and I’m really, really thankful that you haven’t given up on me. I know I was totally irresponsible and immature and selfish about all this and I don’t blame you for punishing me this hard. I know you are doing what you feel is best for me - fighting for my soul and my integrity and my future. I really do. It’s all just been so embarrassing. So humiliating. It’s not something I ever wanted you to find out. And not just because I knew how mad you’d be and how hard you’d punish me, but because I knew how disappointed you’d be. How ashamed of me.”

There, he’d said all he had to say. He was wrung out. Completely empty. He wanted to collapse on the sofa and not think or feel anything for a long time. Sadly, he knew that wasn’t going to be an option for him though. And from the looks of it, it was actually going to get worse before it got better. Neither of his parents seemed satisfied in the least.

“That’s all well and good Taylor,” his father said. “And I’m glad you came to a lot of those conclusions – we both are - but you seem to be missing the real point here and I think you know that!”

Before he could continue Diana spoke up for the first time. “Taylor, do you have that girl’s phone number?” she asked.

Taylor felt his gut clench. What did she want to know that for? Oh god, was she going to call her or something? His skin felt tight and prickly.

Chapter 10

“Yes ma’am,” he muttered uneasily, his hand absentmindedly going to his pocket.

“Good. I want you to call her right this minute and tell her you are not allowed to see her again, ever!”

Taylor’s eyes grew wide as saucers. She couldn’t really mean that. She couldn’t be going to make decisions for him that way. “MOM! I … can’t. I can’t do that. What do you mean?”

“Right now, young man. You can and you will. You are not allowed to see this person again. She is bad for you. You make extremely poor decisions when you are with her and I won’t allow it. Now call! And put it on speaker phone. I want to hear.” Then she pointed to the phone on the desk behind him.

How had she done that, he gasped? Seen right through all his bluster and blather and smoke screens, cut right to the quick and called him on it just like that. He felt ridiculous – and naked. Like a liar who’d been suddenly and indisputably exposed after years of clever subterfuge.

“NO! I won’t do it. You can’t make me. I WILL see her again. I will. It’s my life. You can’t make these decisions for me.” He was screaming at the top of his lungs, or so it felt, but sadly it was all silently in his head. He was too afraid to really confront her like that. He wasn’t ready to defy or challenge her at that level. He didn’t want to know what she would do to him if he did. He liked his life too much the way it was – and he knew how to play the game with the rules the way they were right now, even if he didn’t always agree with them. If she were to change them he’d be lost. He was a coward and he knew it, but it just wasn’t worth the consequences. Of that he was sure. For once he was actually thinking about them. Too bad he couldn’t tell his folks this time.

He turned sullenly and picked up the phone. He dialed and waited, praying she wouldn’t be there, but she was. She answered and the sound of her voice made him want to cry. “Anna?” he asked, trying to keep the tremor out of his voice. “This is Taylor. Taylor Hanson.” He paused, attempting to swallow and breathe at the same time but there wasn’t room in his tight throat for both to happen so neither did.

“Oh hi Taylor” she practically gushed. “Oh my god. I’m so glad you called me back.” She sounded honestly excited.

“Um, I’m calling to say that I can’t see you though. I’m not allowed.”

“What do you mean, you’re not allowed? Who won’t let you?” she asked, clearly taken aback.

“My folks. My Mom,” he said. “When you told her we’d slept together she said I could never see you again.”

“What?? When did I tell your mom that? I don’t understand. I would never tell your mom that.”

Taylor was confused now. How could she not remember? “Yesterday, when you called, you told her to tell me you weren’t pregnant cause you knew I’d be worried.”

“Oh my god!!! That was your mother??? You’re kidding me. Holy crap. I had no idea. I thought she was your roommate. I had no idea you still lived at home. How old are you?”

Now it was Taylor’s turn to be taken aback. This girl really had no idea who he was. “I’m 17,” he said. “And yes, I still live at home. I was only 16 when I met you.”

“Sixteen!!! Oh my god. I thought you were in college. I thought you went to my college. You’re kidding. Oh Taylor. I’m so sorry. I had no idea. Oh no. I should never have done all that stuff with you. I wish I’d known. You seemed so much older than that. Mature, not like all those other guys.” She paused. “But still, Taylor, I don’t care how old you are. I can’t get you out of my mind. I have to see you again. Please. Make her understand. Please. I’m so sorry. This is all my fault.”

“No it’s not Anna,” Taylor said adamantly. “I was there too. I chose it too. I guess I thought you knew who I was at least a little though. Most people in this town know me and know how old I am. It didn’t even occur to me that you wouldn’t.”

“Why? What do you mean? Who are you? What do you mean most people know you and know how old you are?” She was clearly confused.

Taylor suddenly felt embarrassed and shy. He looked back at his parents and realized they were stunned by the revelations of this conversation as well. He took a deep breath. “Well, I’m … um … in a band with my two brothers and we’re kind of … um …famous, especially in Tulsa, and ….” He was stuttering and he knew it but he was at a loss as to how to explain himself. “We had a pretty big hit song a couple years ago. It was kind of … world famous.”

“You’re kidding me. Oh my god. Oh wait. Holy cow. You mean ‘Hanson’! That ‘Hanson’? Oh my god, I’m so stupid. I never put two and two together. I can’t believe it. I had no idea. Guess I’ve been living in a hole or something. I just liked you for you though and I didn’t think about anything else. And you just seemed so mature and sweet – and special. I guess I was right too. I mean, you’re famous and all. But I never meant to hurt you – or get you in trouble. I even thought I was protecting you by not giving you my phone number. Dang it. But then I couldn’t forget you and I broke up with my boyfriend over it. Taylor, please, if you still even want to, I want to see you again so bad. Please make her see I’m not a bad person. We don’t ever have to do anything like that again. We can take it really slowly.” Then she started to cry.

Taylor looked helplessly at his folks, unsure at all how to continue at this point. He felt idiotic, and totally dishonest for exposing her like this. A powerful rage grew in his chest. He gave both his parents an angry look, turned his back on them and clicked off the speaker phone. “I’ll talk to them,” he told her quietly. “They made me do this on speaker phone so they were listening to that whole thing but I felt sick about it so I just turned it off. I will call you. I promise. I don’t care what they say. I will call you. And if for some reason I can’t, you can call me on my cell phone tomorrow,” and he gave her the number – actually he gave her Zac’s number cause he was afraid his folks might take his phone away. “I want to see you too. I really do. I gotta go now though. I’ll talk to you soon. Okay?” And he hung up.

He had no idea what he’d be dealing with when he turned back to face his parents but he didn’t really care. He was furious. What he saw though was total bewilderment. He felt a swell of righteousness. They deserved that. Suddenly his fury got the best of him. “I hope you’re satisfied,” he snarled. “That was disgusting. And wrong. And I won’t ever let you do anything like that to me again.” And he stormed out of their room.

When he got to his own room he slammed the door so hard a glass picture frame fell off the nearest dresser, shattering loudly and making a harsh exclamation point to the whole sorry episode. He put his face in his hands and stood there shaking. He was so angry. And panicked at what his folks would do next. But he was also proud of himself.

“Tay, my god. What happened? You look like you just saw a ghost,” Ike cried.

Tay just stood there, his head in his palms, quivering. He couldn’t make heads or tails of what had happened yet.

Chapter 11

Taylor dropped to his knees and began picking up the shattered pieces of glass. It seemed a good thing to do to distract him while he got his nerves to settle. Plus the shards seemed to mirror his own feelings right then - jagged, splintered, fragile and broken - so he felt drawn to them. He wanted to hold them, touch them, connect with them. Ike and Zac gave each other confused, worried looks.

“Tay, man. Say something. You’re scaring us. You’ve got us worried, dude,” Zac pleaded.

Taylor heaved a great shuddery sigh, then pulled himself to standing, tossing the delicate mess in the trash. “It was awful you guys,” he groaned, shaking his head in near disbelief. “Really awful. I yelled at them. I literally screamed at them. They made me go through every single damn moment of the past two horrible days and describe them in minute detail, saying what had happened, and how I’d been punished, and what I’d learned every step of the way. It nearly killed me. But they still weren’t satisfied because I just wouldn’t say the one thing they wanted to hear – that I wouldn’t have sex. So then Mom made me call Anna and tell her I couldn’t ever see her again. On the speaker phone! And she was so sweet and innocent – you guys, she didn’t even really know who I was at all - and I just felt sick that I was being dishonest like that, not telling her Mom and Dad were listening. So I got mad finally. I turned my back on them and turned off the speaker and told her I’d call her back later - I gave her your cell number too Zac cause I figured they'd take my phone away. Well, then I totally lost it. I just didn’t care anymore. I turned on Mom and Dad and screamed at them! I yelled, ‘I hope you’re satisfied. That was disgusting. And wrong. And I won’t ever let you do anything like that to me again.’ Then I stormed out of there and came in here. And now I’m stuck. I don’t know what to do next. Or what they’ll do to me.”

His brothers just stood there, mouths gaping, unable to speak. They were mightily impressed but also very worried for him. How Taylor was managing to handle the hell their folks were putting him through they had no idea. Their parents were pulling out all the stops and still he came back fighting. This could be a battle to the death at this point – the death of someone’s deep seated ideals for sure. Either Tay was going to have to give in and promise them what they wanted, or their folks were going to have to agree to disagree with him on this one, or just plain turn a blind eye or something, cause all three boys knew their folks were never going to change their beliefs. Something had to give really soon though, that was for sure. It was getting unbearable.

Taylor walked over to his bed and collapsed face down in the covers. He didn’t cry. He didn’t even feel much at all really. He was basically numb. And then they all waited. For what, no one knew. But there was nothing else to do so they did. They waited, and waited, and waited. And Tay slowly began to panic. What were his folks doing in their room all this time – what were they planning for him? What hell were they going to put him through next? Or were they just so angry with him it was simply taking them this long to calm down enough to even come deal with him again. Oh man. He was working himself up into quite a state.

Suddenly there was a knock on the door and it opened a crack. "Taylor, are you in there?" Diana asked.

Oh god. Taylor pulled himself to sitting, hissing as his poor, bruised bottom took the pressure. "Yes ma'am," he croaked, his voice thick with fear and tension.

Walker and Diana came in then. They nodded at Ike and Zac as if to say we're about to have a very serious conversation here so you boys can stay or not but be forewarned. Ike and Zac stayed. They knew Taylor needed their moral support. And if things got too ugly, both brothers were prepared to intercede if needed. Neither could take too much more of this. They knew Taylor was in bad shape.

Walker grabbed a chair and pulled it over to face Taylor while Diana took a seat next to him on his bed. Taylor was staring intently at his fingers as they fiddled in his lap. His whole body felt like it had been wound into a tight coil. He had the feeling that a bomb was about to go off but he didn't know when or how bad the explosion would be.

"Taylor, sex outside of marriage is simply wrong," Diana stated emphatically. "There are no two ways about it and we won't allow it as long as you live in this house." Taylor felt himself shrink. This was never going to end. He was going to be lectured and punished till eternity it seemed. "We are absolutely stunned by your behavior and especially by your complete unwillingness to accept responsibility for this and to learn your lesson. We want you to promise us that you will not have sex again. It's that simple. And the only right thing to do and you know it. You will not be allowed to see this girl again without that promise. Do you understand me?"

Taylor just sat there tongue-tied. He knew if he opened his mouth at all the wrong thing would come out - wrong at least according to his folks. He was trembling with frustration at not being able to speak his truth.

“Taylor?" his mother prompted, a little warning wrapped tightly inside her tone.

He clenched his lips and shook his head. His parents both shifted ominously and he felt his heart rate soar.

"Taylor, do you understand me? Say something, young man." Diana's voice was heavy with threat and it wasn't helping Taylor's nerve at all. "I’m sorry for making you make that phone call like that without letting her know what was happening," she conceded. "We should have told her right off that we were all listening. That was unfair and wrong and I apologize. But I'm not sorry about anything else. Your father and I are quite clear about this. What you have done is immoral. It's bad for your soul. It's a sin and you know it, and we won't be a party to it, nor will we stand by and let you ruin yourself. You will do as you're told on this one as long as we have any say in this, do you understand?"

He was literally vibrating with pent-up emotions – like a racehorse pinned behind a starting gate. "YES!" he suddenly burst out, no longer able to contain it all. "I get it already." He was furious and finding it impossible to get his thoughts out without yelling which he knew was a bad idea, but that was how it was. "You're being loud and clear," he snapped. "Clear as glass! And if I don't do exactly what you say I'll get punished really badly. I know that. I get it. I don't agree though. And I never will. But you can do whatever you want to me ‘cause you have that right as long as I live here. I understand. But I won't promise you what you want. I won't. I can't. I'm sorry. I'll promise you that I won't ever let you know it if I'm doing anything you don't approve of, and I'll promise you that if you ever do find out something like this about me again I'll submit to whatever you think I deserve, but I won't promise you what you want. I can't. It would be a lie."

There! He'd finally said it. Straight and true. They had to have heard him. He didn't dare look at their faces though, but if he had he would have seen shock and fury. And if he'd looked at Zac and Ike's faces he would have seen shock and real fear. Fear that Taylor had finally dug his own grave and was about to find out just how terrible a place that could be. But he would have seen respect too! His brothers were both in awe of Taylor as they watched him stand firm and unwavering in his beliefs despite the very obvious potential bad consequences.

Diana, barely concealing tears, stood up suddenly, cried, "I won't listen to this anymore!" and left the room. The space was filled with an air-sucking silence then. Not an atom of oxygen was left it seemed, so everyone just held their breaths. They all sat there not moving, Taylor holding himself so tightly to keep from falling apart that he could barely think.

Then Walker roared, “I have had enough of this. You will learn if it’s the last thing I do!” And with that he pulled Taylor to standing, stripped his pants off him, yanked him over his knee and went to war on his bottom again. Taylor screamed, both his hands grabbing frantically at his butt, but his father pinned them to his back and whaled away unfalteringly. He didn’t spank that long or hard this time as he didn’t need to; the intense pain Taylor was in was apparent immediately.

When he was satisfied that he’d made his point he pulled Taylor to standing, then dragged him into the bathroom where he gave his mouth a thorough washing. Ike and Zac could hear him lecturing their distraught brother loudly. “We will not stand for this Taylor. You will learn that this sort of behavior is beyond unacceptable. Your mother and I will not allow it. It’s that simple. You will treat us with respect and obey us as long as we are your parents, do you understand?” and so on and so on. Then Taylor was hauled back into the room and put nose first right into the corner. With an exhausted groan Walker left the room.

In the stillness that followed the air once again seemed to have had all its oxygen sucked out. All three boys stood nearly frozen in shock. Taylor was doing his best to stifle his sobs and gasps but it was pretty useless. An eternity passed - or so it seemed - although in truth it was only a few minutes. Taylor’s mind was racing. What should he do? Where could he go? What was he supposed to do now?

A few more interminable minutes ticked by, then, as if under a spell, Taylor simply turned, walked over to his dresser, picked up his car keys, wallet and cell phone, and left the room. Ike and Zac stared after him in stunned disbelief.

Chapter 12

Taylor moved through the house quickly on his way to the garage, praying he wouldn’t see or be seen by anyone. When he’d made it safely to his car and driven out of the neighborhood he breathed a huge sigh of relief. It was the first real breath he’d taken in what seemed like days. Then he just drove and drove and drove. He didn’t know where he was heading or what he should do next so he just kept going. He went through a whole range of emotions as he went too - he cried for a bit, then he got angry and swore at the top of his lungs, even blasting the car horn loudly a few times, then he succumbed to loneliness and fear, and finally went numb. Then it hit him. He would go see Anna.

Ringing her doorbell took all the courage he had, but when she opened the door and saw him standing there, she broke into a huge grin, shrieked with glee, and pulled him into a powerful hug, and he knew he’d made the right decision. Within seconds they were kissing, and soon enough clothes were being torn off and she was pulling him down the hall to her bedroom. He couldn’t have been happier. When they were naked and he was finally inside her again he felt home and free and complete. Not a care in the world. Just wholly enveloped in the most amazing sensations it was possible for any one human being to experience. And he did. He experienced them over and over again. Like a flood gate had been opened and nothing could stop it now. He completely surrendered. They made love until they were exhausted. He’d never felt better in his life. It was like the indescribable high of singing in front of a huge audience.

Afterwards they lay quietly, hand in hand, next to one another on the bed, breathing deep, satisfied breaths and smiling at each other. Anna reached over and stroked Taylor’s face. “You are so beautiful, Taylor,” she said. “Inside and out. Like a gift to me from the universe or something. I feel blessed.”

Taylor was barely able to keep from crying, her words meant so much to him. He hadn’t expected her to say that and he certainly didn’t feel that way about himself. “You have that backwards,” he said softly. “You are the gift and it’s for me.” He smiled. This was simply right. He knew it in his soul. She pulled him close and kissed him, gently stroking his back. He moaned with pleasure. But when her hand ventured farther south and brushed his bare buttocks he let out a sharp hiss and winced, and she pulled back anxiously. “Did I hurt you baby? What’s wrong? I noticed you seemed in pain a couple times when we were making love too. Are you all right?”

Taylor sighed sadly. He didn’t want to keep any secrets from her but he didn’t want her to think of him as a little boy either, and telling her what his folks had done to him could certainly bring thoughts like that to mind. “It’s a long story,” he said. “Are you sure you want to hear it?”

“Yes! Absolutely. Does it end happily though? I don’t want you to be sad or hurt.”

“Well, it’s not over yet so I can’t say for sure,” he said. “But I can say that right now I couldn’t be happier so it’s good. I know you don’t really know much about me yet Anna, or me you, although I can’t wait to know everything there is to know about you, but I’ll give you some basics. There are seven kids in our family, the three oldest, Ike and Zac and me, are in the band. Our folks are really great people – kind, loving, supportive, ex-hippy types - but they’re also very strict and religious and old-fashioned in some ways too. Especially in the way they raise us – and um, … punish us. And when it comes to certain issues like sex outside marriage they are steadfast in their beliefs - to put it mildly. So when my mom found out I wasn’t a virgin anymore she lost it. The last two days have been really awful. Worse than I could ever have imagined. And I basically ended up running away tonight. I just had to get out for awhile. I didn’t know where else to go either, so I came here. And I’m so glad I did. What will happen next I have no idea. But it won’t be pleasant, of that I’m positive.”

Anna stared at Tay for a few moments shaking her head in disbelief. Then she gently rolled him onto his belly and looked at his bare bottom. He didn’t resist and what she saw made her gasp. “God Taylor. What did they do? Did they beat you? This is all my fault.”

Taylor turned back on his side. He didn’t want her looking at the damage and misinterpreting their ways. “No,” he said calmly. “It’s not your fault babe. And they didn’t beat me. But they did … spank me. Like I said, they’re old-fashioned and so we all still get … spanked. And I mean real spankings. Over the knee, bare-bottomed ones – humiliating as hell. And they hurt like hell too. You can’t believe how badly it hurts. It’s pretty awful. And I got several for this. More than several actually. And there’s still more to come. What I did is pretty much the worst possible thing in their book – short of murder or something. They are trying to save my soul at this point. And nothing will stop them. That’s why I had to get out. I’ll go back. I love them. I’m not ready to leave completely. But we all needed time to think. And my butt needed time to rest. It’s in pretty bad shape.”

Anna just looked at him sadly. “Wow, Taylor. That’s so strange. I can’t believe any parents still spank their kids. Especially at your age. Does it happen a lot? Can’t you just say no or something?”

He shook his head. “Like I said, I love them and as long as I live with them these are the rules. And I’m not ready to leave home yet, so it’s still worth it to me. I get spanked whenever I disobey them. And sadly, I disobey them a lot. It’s pretty simple – and pathetic. And really embarrassing as you can imagine. But there’s nothing I can do about it – except, of course, behave myself.” He laughed at his own words. “That’s what my folks always say anyway.”

The doorbell rang then. Anna groaned knowing no one else was home so it was up to her to answer it. She pulled on her skirt and top, gave Taylor another deep kiss, stroked his cheek lovingly, and said, “I’ll be right back.” When she left he leaned back on his pillow and smiled. He was in heaven. He didn’t want to think about anything but the present and how perfect it was. She was so beautiful and sweet. And she loved him. She’d told him that while they were making love. He’d been stunned by it but blissfully happy too. He wasn’t ready to say it himself yet but he could feel stirrings of feelings he’d never had before. He lay there glowing in it all.

Suddenly she reappeared at the bedroom door. She seemed quite agitated and his skin began to twitch. “Um, Tay,” she gasped. “I think you’d better get dressed. It’s your folks!”

Chapter 13

His heart stopped. Then with its next beat it nearly exploded out of his chest. “FUCK!” he gasped under his breath. How the hell had they found him? Oh man. What were they going to do next? This was like a nightmare that just wouldn’t end. His folks were persistent and resourceful, he’d always known that, but not in a million years had he thought they’d figure this one out. He grabbed frantically for his jeans and t-shirt and raced down the hall, screeching to a halt as soon as he saw them. It couldn’t have been more obvious what he’d just been up to. Why he was here. What they’d been doing. He was barefoot and rumpled and looked satiated in a way only one thing could produce. It was written all over him. His parents, in stunning contrast, looked despondent and empty. He had the distinct feeling that he’d broken their hearts. Finally actually done it for real this time.

“We figured you come here,” Diana said sadly, answering his first unspoken question. “Your brothers told us how to find it.” Taylor shut his eyes and sighed. He could only imagine what that scene must have looked like. He shuddered. No one said anything more. The silence became nearly unbearable.

Taylor finally spoke - as calmly as he could. “Mom. Dad. This is Anna.” At this point there seemed little else to do but go about business as if this was somehow normal. They both nodded at her but he could see their struggle. Despite their impeccable manners they couldn’t bring themselves to acknowledge her fully. They were such polite, gracious, gentle people normally but this was the woman who had stolen their little boy. The she-devil who had enticed him to the “other” side.

“Taylor, can we speak alone?” Diana asked.

“No,” he said, much to her surprise – and his father’s - and even his own. “Mom, I’m sorry, but no. This is Anna’s house and she’s involved. If she wishes to leave that’s up to her but I’m not going to ask her to. And I want her here. She understands what this is all about and why you are here and what you are going to do to me.” He reached out and took Anna’s hand. He wanted solidarity and he needed moral support. She moved in close and he immediately felt stronger.

“I already told you everything I have to say. I can’t agree to what you want. I just can’t. I’m not you. I don’t believe in the same things you do. I’m sorry you came here and saw this but I never intended for that to happen. I wanted to keep it from you. I’m not trying to rub your noses in it. I’m not doing this to hurt you. I love you. I know I shouldn’t have left. That I wasn’t allowed and deserve to be punished for that. But I had to get out for a bit. I didn’t even mean to come here. I didn’t plan it. That wasn’t what I had in mind. I drove around for a long time first and then just found myself here.” He stopped then, wondering if any of this was helping or hurting or anything. Wondering if they would say something. They seemed dumbfounded. Dazed. And mortally wounded some place deep in their souls. But he couldn’t help them now. What was done was done. And who he was, was who he was.

“If you want me to move out I will,” he said then, his voice cracking with emotion his casual words didn’t reflect at all. It was the last thing he wanted but he needed to give them a way out of this impasse they were in. “Is that what you want? Tell me and I’ll do it,” he said, fighting tears.

His mother put her face in her hands, burst into sobs and buried herself in her husband’s chest. Taylor nearly broke into pieces. He’d never seen his mother do that before. And he couldn’t believe he was the cause of it. He was her baby, her angel, her favorite. They had a bond that was special, something so far beyond a parent-child, mother-son connection that people they didn’t even know often commented on it. His siblings were jealous of it. His friends amazed by it. He felt like the glass he’d broken earlier – shattered and irreparable. He wished he could sweep himself up and throw himself away as he’d done with those shards. But it wasn’t possible. He was going to have to clean this up somehow though. Make it better. Heal the wounds he’d created. And do it without losing himself in the process.

He wanted to run to her but the look on his father’s face stopped him in his tracks. Walker was protecting his wife like a lion. He wouldn’t let Taylor destroy her any further. “Do you have any idea what you are saying?” he practically spat at Taylor. “What you are doing to your mother? To us? That your words are like daggers to her heart? You are simply being cruel now. NO! We don’t want you to move out. That’s not what this is about. Why would you say something like that? Moving out won’t solve anything. It won’t change what is happening to you. Won’t fix the real problem here – the fact that you are ruining yourself. Giving away something that should have meaning, significance, true love attached to it. You have wasted one of your most precious gifts. Tossed it away like it was nothing. I am so sad for you Taylor.”

Taylor stood there slowly dissolving. His father knew every crack and fissure in his façade and he was picking at them all until he could barely hold himself together. Cruel? He hadn’t thought of it like that at all. Was that what he was being? Was he trying to hurt them? Wanting to hit them where they were weakest? Grab them by their Achilles heel and start swinging. Yes he was, he realized with a jolt that nearly knocked him over. He felt powerless and that was the only weapon he had. He hadn’t meant to make his mother feel that way though – he’d only wanted to make a forceful point. He was at a loss. He’d really done it now. Stepped across a line he might not be able to get back over. It scared him.

Anna spoke then. She was shaking and nervous but she could see what was going on here. It was everything she’d ever wanted and never had. And she envied it. Taylor’s parents loved him more than life itself and only wanted what was best for him. What they thought was right. And they would do whatever it took to provide that for him. “I love Taylor,” she said. Her words resonated loudly around the room for a moment. She squeezed Taylor’s hand for reinforcement. “I know you can’t believe that, but I do. I barely know him, I know that. But he is my heart. I knew it the second I met him. And I haven’t been able to get him out of my mind ever since. I’ve already told him how I feel. I don’t expect him to feel the same … yet, although I hope it’s possible. But I know he’s the one for me. You can think what you want but it won’t change any of that. When he came here tonight I told him how beautiful he is – inside and out. And that he is like a gift from the universe to me and that I feel blessed that I met him. I can see that you feel the same way about him. And I envy that - I really do. I wish my parents had felt that way about me. It’s no wonder he’s so special. You have made him that way. I know this all started out rather casual and even sordid, but it’s not like that anymore. I feel sure that Taylor and I can start again, fresh and innocently, and take this one step at a time. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to do what’s right for him and me. And for his relationship with the two most important people in his life – you.”

Diana slowly pulled herself together while Anna spoke, the girl’s words ringing so honest and heartfelt it would have been impossible not to hear their truth. She had begun to see that there were other perspectives to be considered here – that other people’s lives and futures were at stake. And that it wasn’t what she’d even thought it was really. When she’d first heard Anna’s voice over the speaker phone earlier she’d had her first glimpse into this realization. The girl’s candid and sincere words now had finally begun to sink in.

When Anna finished Diana walked over to her and took her hands gently. “Thank you,” she said. “I can see that you are a wonderful, dear, sweet person, and that you care for Taylor deeply. And that you understand what he means to us too and that we also only want what’s best for him. I’m sorry you feel you didn’t get that in your life but it’s never too late.” And she gave Anna a hug.

Then she turned to Taylor. He had tears streaming down his face but otherwise looked relatively calm and at peace. She could see that some bridge had been crossed and there was no going back. She took his wet cheeks in her palms, pulled him down, kissed him softly on the lips, and said, “We love you.” Then she took Walker’s hand and they left.

Taylor stood there in shock. What was he supposed to do now, he wondered? He had fully expected his parents to lay down the law, tell him exactly what to do, and maybe even spank him for being disobedient. But they hadn’t done any of those things. He was confused and suddenly feeling very alone. He had no skills for this situation. Was he supposed to go home? Was he allowed to go home? If he went home would he have to agree to their rules about sex? Would he be allowed to see Anna again? What if he didn’t go home? Would they still accept him if he chose a different path from theirs? They hadn’t answered any of these questions for him. How was he supposed to know what to do without their guidance? How could he possibly choose the right way? Was there even such a thing?

Anna squeezed his hand to bring him back to the present. “Taylor, what are you thinking? What are you going to do?” she asked.

He shook his head completely bewildered. “I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know. I didn’t expect them to respond that way. I figured they drag me kicking and screaming out of here and I’d be in for the worst spanking of my life when they got me home. That’s the only thing I know. That’s how it’s always been. I have no idea what to do now.”

“I think you do,” she said gently, looking into his eyes with a smile. “They are the two most important people in the world to you. You mean everything to them, and they to you. You can’t mess that up. We’ll have time. We’ll figure it out. There’s no rush. Go home Taylor. Go home.”

Chapter 14

He felt liberated suddenly. Like he’d never felt before. He knew what he was going to do. And he knew he’d known it all along too. And he was finally and freely choosing it himself – no strings attached. No compromises. No lies. No cages. He swooped Anna up in his arms and carried her back to her room, her legs wrapped tightly around him and his lips planted firmly on hers. He laid her gently on the bed and tenderly, carefully, undressed her, relishing every moment, kissing every part of her as he unveiled it. Then he rose up, removing his own clothing piece by piece, until he stood tall and powerful in front of her, naked, and boldly and unabashedly aroused.

He lowered himself on top of her, entering her slowly and deeply. There was no frantic desperation this time. No raging teenage hormones. No panic that it would never be again so he had to make the most of it fast. This time he moved inside her like a connoisseur, savoring every nuance, knowing exactly what he wanted – and what she wanted. Exquisitely present and keenly aware of every feeling, every sensation. Watching her as she rose and fell on the pillow beneath her in perfect timing with every rhythmic thrust of his body into hers. Capturing every second for eternity. He knew what this was. He’d seen it in the faces of his mother and father every day of his life. He was in love.

Afterwards, as they lay side by side, still vibrating with post love-making energy, Taylor looked deeply in her eyes and told her all he was feeling. Spilled the story of his life – all his conflicts and desires. Revealed all the passion that drove him. And he listened to her story too. Her hurt and loneliness and fear. She’d had the opposite upbringing to his. She was an only child and her parents had divorced when she was young. They were angry, unloving people consumed by bitterness. And she’d gotten lost somewhere in between them. Tears rolled continuously down Taylor’s cheeks.

Taylor told her of the past two days too. It was her turn to cry then. She cried for his pain, for her part in causing it, and mostly for the love she knew Taylor was steeped in. She wanted parents who cared that much. Parents who would pay attention, worry about her soul, make difficult decisions, and even take extreme measures to protect her – to teach her. Taylor knew how lucky he was. He didn’t mince words – he described in flinching detail exactly how his parents had punished him - but he didn’t resent any of it anymore. He wasn’t angry or sorry for himself. He was grateful. Grateful for everything he had. Especially for his family – and now for Anna.

Then he’d dressed and kissed her goodbye, promising he’d call her as soon as he could. She understood by now what he might be facing when he got home and knew it could be awhile before she heard from him again, but she also knew that it would be okay. His parents loved him. And he loved them. And now he loved her too.

The drive home was nerve-wracking to say the least. Taylor had no idea what his folks were thinking - planning. And not knowing left way too much room for conjuring awful scenarios. He turned on his radio and blasted the thoughts out of his mind. It was nearly three a.m. when he got home; the place was silent and dark. He felt his way to his room and collapsed into sleep. There was nothing left to do now but wait.

He awoke the next day to a peaceful early afternoon. No one had jumped him, no one had dragged him out of bed, no one had disturbed him at all; maybe no one even knew he was home, he thought. It was refreshing, yet slightly worrisome. He got up, showered, dressed, and organized himself, then took a deep breath and entered the fray. The hallway was strangely quiet though. Where was everyone? He looked down toward his parent’s bedroom door and decided he had to face this right now. He both hoped they were in there, and prayed they weren’t. He was shaking. He knocked tentatively, then cracked the door an inch. “Mom? Dad? Are you in there?”

“Yes, Taylor, we are,” he heard his father answer.

“Can I come in and talk to you?” His voice was anything but calm.

“Please do, Taylor. We were hoping you’d ask.”

He sucked in a deep breath and held it for a few seconds trying to shore up his nerve, then he let out a great shuddery sigh and walked in. He stood just inside the door, his back pressing up against the wall, craving its solid, reliable support, wondering what to do next. No one said anything. He knew it was going to be up to him.

“Um … I know I’m in big trouble,” he started hesitantly. “I know you’re really mad at me right now. I’m sorry. I should never have left the house last night. It was wrong. But … I’m really glad I did. It helped me clarify a bunch of things and now I know what I’m going to do.” He paused and took another deep breath. “I’m going to stay here and accept the consequences. Live by your rules. I don’t want to move out yet. I’m not ready. I still need you too much. I never meant to hurt you by saying that I’d leave either. Well, to be honest, maybe I did. I just didn’t know it at the time. But you were right Dad. I was being cruel. I didn’t know what else to say. I’m sorry for that too.” He was practically panting but he had to get it all out before he lost his nerve.

“But now I’ve met someone who already means the world to me, and me to her, and I wouldn’t have missed that for anything. I’m really praying you will understand and not forbid me from seeing her again. She and I will do whatever it takes to make amends and gain your trust again. Anna is completely willing. She wants you to like her so much. She’s a good person. She needs our family in her life. And I need her in mine.” There he’d said it. Now he just had to wait and see if his whole world was about to come crumbling down, or if the current mess it was in could be mended instead. He held his breath. What would they say?

“Taylor, are you sure you can abide by our rules?” his mother asked. “The attraction between you two is powerful. Can you resist really? Especially now that you know what you will be abstaining from? Can Anna?”

“Mom, we don’t know,” he replied, his heart beating wildly. “But we’re willing to try. That’s all I can offer. Can you live with that? I can’t promise to be perfect but I can promise that we will take one day at a time and build our relationship slowly. And never be stupid and reckless again. We want something long term. This isn’t a one-night stand. I haven’t been able to get her out of my mind since I met her last December. You heard that in the song I wrote. I know you did. I saw it on your face. I … I want what you and Dad have. She does too. We’re not going to screw that up. It’s too important.” He paused. His parents seemed confounded, and unsure of what to say next, so he continued.

“When I left her last night I promised her I would call her as soon as I could. But she knows everything - I told her all the details of the past couple days and that there was still more in store, and that I was grounded for a month too – so she understands it may not be for awhile. She said she’d wait. She’s the one who told me to go home. Said she could see that you two were the most important people in the world to me, and that there was no need for us to rush - that she and I will have time. She’ll still be there. It gave me the courage to make the right decision. To come home and face the consequences. I know I’m in serious trouble. I know I haven’t even finished paying for the first stuff yet. I don’t know what you think I deserve but I will take it. Whatever it is.” Oh man, he was worn out. He sounded a lot stronger than he was feeling, that was for sure.

“Well, Taylor. What do you think you deserve?” his mother asked. “Sneaking out while you were grounded - and while you were being punished no less? Making us come find you? Scaring us half to death? You tell us?” His mother wasn’t angry, she was just feeling him out. Testing him to see how serious he was. She seemed curious to understand more of where he was coming from. And she seemed to be stalling for time as well, until she could figure out what she really wanted to say.

*groan* They weren’t going to make this easy, were they? “I guess I … um … figured you’d spank me for that,” he mumbled nervously. “I was hoping it wouldn’t be any worse than that but I will understand if you think it should be.”

His mother found her voice then. “Taylor, your father and I have talked and talked about this until we’re blue in the face. And we have come to some conclusions too. For one, there will be no spanking - no punishment at all for last night. Last night went horribly wrong, but it seems that thankfully a lot of good has come from it. And we’re so amazingly grateful for that.”

“Taylor, I’m so sorry son,” his father suddenly interrupted. He was visibly upset. “I should never have spanked you last night, nor done any of those other things then either. It was wrong of me. I lost my temper. I lost control. I’m not proud of the way I behaved. You didn’t deserve any of it and I’m sorry. And just so you know, your brothers gave me quite the tongue-lashing about it too.” He shook his head and smiled glumly. Taylor was stunned. He hadn’t felt that way at all. He’d thought he’d deserved it – he’d yelled at them, slammed doors, and even made his mother cry and run out of the room. He felt a powerful surge of guilt at having been the cause of so much grief. His father looked broken.

Diana ushered Taylor over then, patting the couch next to her. “You know how we feel about pre-marital sex so we won’t go into that again, but even before you came home last night your father and I had already decided we would have to compromise. That we wouldn’t lose you over this. That we wouldn’t force you to lose yourself either. Or to choose between us and your personal beliefs. But we are so proud of you now though – prouder than ever before - that you have come to your own conclusions about what is right and what is wrong and chosen such a worthy path. You won’t be disappointed I guarantee you. If you really want what your father and I have, you are making the right choice. I promise you that. And I will let you in on a secret. Your dad and I didn’t wait either. But we knew. We knew we were going to spend the rest of our lives together before we made that choice. We were already engaged. I hope and pray that you and Anna will be strong. That you will wait now until you are really sure. It’s worth it, honey. It’s soooo worth it.”

By that point all three of them were in tears. Diana took Taylor in her arms and he completely broke down, sobbing like he hadn’t in years. Tears of joy, tears of love, tears of relief. Walker joined the pair of them on the sofa and held them all together in his big powerful embrace. They sat like that for some time - until the tears began to turn to giggles. Diana was the first to start. “Okay, enough already,” she chuckled. “We are certainly a pathetic bunch. Walker, will you get us all some tissues please?” And she lifted Taylor’s face, wiped his soaked cheeks with her thumbs, and kissed his forehead.

After they’d all pulled themselves together again – dried their tears and finished hugging all around - it was time to talk nitty-gritty. Nuts and bolts. Taylor had a number of questions, some of which he wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answers to. “Can I call Anna?” he asked first. “Can I tell her it’s going to be okay? I know I can’t see her again for a month but can I at least let her know what happened?”

Both his parents nodded. He let out a huge sigh of relief. Now for the biggie. “So, um … am I still going to get spanked with the ruler and the belt?” Oh man, that was a hard one to ask. He crossed his fingers and held his breath.

Chapter 15

“You know what Taylor?” his father said. “Your mother and I talked about that too and here’s what we’ve decided. You’ll have to decide that one for yourself.”

Oh no, he groaned silently, his shoulders slumping. That’s not what he’d hoped to hear at all. How was he supposed to decide that? He had no clue how to choose. He didn’t want that responsibility at all. “There’s no rush,” his father added quickly when he saw Taylor’s distress. “You don’t have to decide right now. Maybe you should just think about it. We’ve all been through a lot and some time to settle our emotions so we can all think clearly might be a good idea. We’ll just let them sit on the table until you decide what to do with them. If they disappear we’ll know what you chose.”

Taylor spent the rest of the day wandering around in a bit of a daze. He called Anna and told her what had happened – how his folks had let him off the hook about last night, apologized even, and how they’d come to some great conclusions, etc. He was just supposed to fill her in of course, not chat, but the two of them fell right into deep conversation - that is, until his mother cleared her throat and gave him a threatening look and he knew he’d pushed it a little bit too far. “Gotta go, babe,” he said quickly. “Mom’s giving me the ‘look.’ I love you. Bye.” When he looked sheepishly back at his mother she had tears in her eyes. He knew why. Hearing him tell a girl he loved her had sent her right over the emotional edge. Diana wrapped him up in her arms and held him tight. “Oh Taylor, I’m so happy for you,” she whispered, and he smiled shyly back at her, blushing.

He talked with his brothers too. He had some serious apologizing to do for putting them in the middle and getting them in so much trouble. And he also wanted to be sure they knew he didn’t blame them at all for having given out Anna’s address. He knew they must have fought that one pretty strongly and at the risk of serious consequences to themselves as well. He wanted to tell them all that had happened too - what he and Anna had decided, how Mom and Dad had agreed, and especially that he was in love. They were so happy for him. But most importantly, he wanted to thank them for sticking up for him. When their father had told him they’d read him the riot act over how he’d punished him last night, Taylor had been more than surprised. But deep down he always knew his brothers would come to his rescue if they ever thought something wasn’t fair. Just as he would do for them. And he was really grateful.

Mostly though, he spent the day agonizing over his choice. He was torn. The idea of facing those two instruments sent him cowering right into a mental corner but he knew he couldn’t decide based solely on fear. He definitely didn’t want to be a coward. He tried to put himself in his parents’ shoes and imagine how he would feel if his child had behaved the way he had. He realized then that the conclusion he and Anna had finally come to on their own clearly helped substantiate his folks’ point – that what he’d done was wrong. He knew that now.

He also didn’t want to undermine his parent’s authority by setting some sticky precedent in which a prescribed punishment wasn’t carried out for some nebulous reason. He needed his parents to be the final word and have their rules and decrees be definitive. His folks had declared that he would be spanked with all five of those implements and he knew it would undercut their control if he wasn’t. Mainly though, he knew he had set a terrible example for all his siblings, and he didn’t want any of them to think they could follow in his footsteps and get away with it. Or put their parents through the hell he’d already put them through all over again. He felt very guilty about that in particular.

Every time he walked into the kitchen there they were – the belt and the ruler - staring at him, judging him, mocking him. It was awful. Several times he almost picked them up and put them away, but he always stopped himself. He couldn’t do it yet. He wasn’t certain. Dinner was challenging for sure, sitting there with both those things right in front of him like that. He wondered what the rest of the family was thinking too. He’d told Zac and Ike about the choice he was faced with but none of the other kids knew he had to decide what to do with them. Zac had been clear – just say no! Ike, on the other hand, had been unsure, certainly understanding the powerful pull to not take the spankings, but feeling that since Tay was vacillating himself, there must be more to it. He wanted Taylor to be complete. He knew his brother too well. If Taylor didn’t feel totally absolved of all guilt, absolutely sure he’d paid in full, he would get himself in some sort of trouble again very soon just to finish it off. He wanted Taylor to have resolution – closure.

Taylor fell asleep that night distracting his tired brain by conjuring blissful images of Anna and all the wondrous things they’d done together. He knew he’d have to learn to get satisfaction from those memories alone now that they had committed to abstinence. He was fine with that though. It felt right. When they’d made love that last time it had been a whole different animal – mature and loving - and he’d made sure to experience it to its fullest so he could feed off it for a long time. Anna was going to go off the pill for now too, they’d decided. It supported their pledge and would make it harder for them to casually slip up. She’d also told Taylor that both she and her previous boyfriend had been virgins when they’d met, so she wasn’t nearly as experienced as he’d assumed. He was happy about that too. They were starting with a clean slate and the future was full of potential.

He awoke the next morning refreshed, albeit still undecided. He spent every free moment he had, after lessons and chores were done, working on his song, Get Up and Go. Ever since his mother had reacted so strangely to it a week ago, he’d been resisting even playing it. Now he was raring to go. Anna was a great inspiration. The only thing that weighed heavily on his mind was the unfinished business of the spankings. He knew what he had to do but he didn’t have the courage yet. Breakfast and lunch were confronting to say the least as he sat there once again face to face with his stubborn challengers. How was he ever going to get up the nerve? His family was waiting. He felt weak and embarrassed.

Since he still hadn’t made his move yet, dinner was torture too. But when his father got up to take his plate to the sink something finally clicked. He couldn’t take it anymore. It was now or never, he decided. With a jarring scrape he slid his chair back from the table and stood up. Everyone stopped and looked up. In slow motion he reached out with both arms and picked up the belt in one hand and the ruler in the other. He stood there staring at them for a moment then looked up at his parents. They were both clearly relieved that he was finally choosing something but were still anxiously waiting to find out what it was going to be. It could go either way. Was he going to say he’d decided he’d paid enough and didn’t deserve anything else, or was he going to choose more punishment?

Unsteadily he walked over to them. Then, his hands shaking noticeably, he held the belt out to his father and the ruler out to his mother, swallowed hard, and said, “I want you to spank me with these. I … can’t choose anything more though. You have to decide how, okay? Please.” There was an awkward silence, followed by a few hushed gasps, then his parents nodded understandingly and took their respective instruments.

Diana pushed her chair back and in total silence took Taylor’s wrist, pulled him to her side, undressed him gently, and took him over her knee. He was trembling like a leaf and she stroked his back a moment to calm him. Then she slid his underwear down, sighed, and raised her arm. The ruler stung like a red-hot branding iron. Taylor reared up with a loud moan. This was going to be harder than he’d thought. His mother pinned him back down. He gritted his teeth, clenched his fists and forced himself to deal. It was almost over, he kept telling himself. He just had to get through these last two spankings and it would all be done. But it hurt so badly that he simply didn’t have the strength to be stoic. Soon enough he was kicking and squirming, struggling frantically against the pain - and then the tears came. He tightened his lips so he couldn’t beg but it took everything he had not to grab his flaming butt and plead for her to stop. He hoped his mother would go somewhat easy on him and not draw this out too long, but she spanked on. He was gasping for air by the time she finally finished, and overwhelmed by the pain. He lay there panting and coughing until she pulled him up and let him redress, but his father stopped him then.

“Taylor, let’s finish this right now, son. Let’s not put it off any longer. Come here.”

Taylor stood there trying to catch his breath, slow his sobs, and process his father’s words all at the same time. After a moment or two he simply turned, walked over to his father and relinquished all control over to him. His father turned him around then, bent him over the kitchen counter, and pulled his pants and underwear back down, his red, bare backside now fully exposed to his family. Then he folded his belt in half, raised it up and brought it down across Taylor’s throbbing cheeks with a loud crack. Taylor yelped, jerking forward hard against the counter, but he didn’t resist. His father did it again. Again Tay let out a whimper at the force and the pain. Slowly and steadily, without pause, his father wielded the belt. Taylor just held his breath and waited for it to finally be over for good. He thought about how much trouble he’d put his parents through. How angry he’d made them, how he’d broken their hearts, destroyed their trust in him. And he prayed that with this whipping he would have finally paid his debts in full and all would be well.

He got ten welts total and then the room fell silent except for his sobs. It took Taylor a few seconds to realize it was over but when his brain cleared he pulled himself together, dragged his pants up, and turned shakily around to face everyone. His father reached out then, gathered him into a powerful hug and rocked him back and forth – he was trying to calm himself as much as he was his son. His mother joined them, wrapping her arms around Taylor and holding him tightly. Suddenly all his brothers and sisters started clapping. And one at a time they each rose up until the entire family was on its feet giving Taylor a standing ovation. His parents turned him back around so he could see what was happening. Through his tears Taylor looked on in wonder and grateful appreciation. He’d had no idea everyone was rooting for him this way. He was touched to his soul. And he couldn’t wait to tell Anna.