Happy (Belated) Halloween! We wrote this in 2017, but it’s not my favorite, so took forever to half-edit. Excuse the mistakes/typos please. I can’t reread it again 💔
Allie’s bff stays the night for Halloween as Natty starts working with the gang on fake IDs.
by Lenore and Breanna
“Trick or treating is for babies,” Natalie scowled. “I wanna go out with my friends!”
The family was driving home from having picked out their Halloween costumes when Natalie saw an e-vite to her best friend, Adriana’s, party. Of course, her foster parents wouldn’t let her go — they never let her do anything she wanted!
“Peter and I will talk about it,” Elizabeth promised. “But I think Allie would really like for you to trick or treat with us…”
“It’ll be fun, Natty!” Allie enthused. “We can get lots and lots of candy! And Karen’s gonna come with us and be my bandit!”
“If I go trick or treating, can I go to the party after?”
“We don’t even know Adriana’s parents yet,” Peter responded, glancing at her in the rearview mirror with stern eyes.
The preteen gave a dramatic heaving sigh, sliding down in her seat, arms folded. “No one else has to meet her stupid parents first!” As if it wasn’t bad enough they were tracking her, they still wouldn’t trust her to go out much. The resentment was building and each day her attitude became worse. Peter had told her more than once that she was walking on thin ice.
“El said that we will talk about it, so tone down the attitude or it will be a definite no.”
Natty’s eyes rolled but luckily they had arrived home, so she took the opportunity to ask, “can Allie and I go to the park?”
“Yeah!!!! Can we?” Allie exclaimed.
“Be back by 7,” Peter told them. “And behave!” he reminded as the girls took off running.
When they reached the playground, Natalie stopped her sister. “I’m going with Adriana to do some stuff, but if anyone asks, I was skating the whole time, okay?”
Allie frowned a little. “You’re leaving me here?”
“I’m not going far,” Natty promised. “And here, keep my phone in your pocket — don’t lose it! But if anything happens, call Adriana.” She knew that Allie was already an expert at navigating her cell phone since she used it almost daily to call Neal. “Don’t worry, I’ll be close and anyway you’ll be playing.”
“Okay!” Allie agreed as she placed the phone safely in her pocket. “Have fun, Natty! And don’t let me be out here alone when it gets dark, kay?” She wasn’t scared, just didn’t like being alone after sunset.
“Don’t worry!” Natty called out as she met Adriana in the street, giving a fist bump and following her a few blocks down to a beat-up multi-family home.
“It’s Billy, remember him? The tall one, with brownish hair, lots of gel, khakis?”
“Ohhh I remember,” Natalie said, beginning to put a face with a name. The cigarette guy. He was the oldest of the gang, 19 years old and the ringleader. Most of the other guys were 16, including Billy’s younger brother, Matt, who was probably the reason Billy was involved in all of this to begin with. “So what are we gonna do? I only have like an hour.”
Adriana didn’t answer but instead hit the buzzer next to the front door.
Matt answered and ushered them in. “Glad you made it!” He led them down to the basement where their operation was hidden.
Billy was already sitting there, smoking a cigarette and entirely too happy to see the girls. He gave them both a hug and kiss on the cheek and led Natalie over to a machine where he was working on making a few fake IDs.
As he explained the process, Natalie glanced at her watch to check the time, hoping Allie was okay.
“So are you in?” Matt asked after Billy finished his monologue.
“Yeah, sure… but how much will I make?”
The boys laughed. “Oh, you’ll be making plenty,” they told her. “Don’t worry.”
Adriana grinned. “So you’re down? We can come during the party!”
Natalie didn’t want to say that she had to confirm with her foster parents first, so just nodded and gave a thumbs up.
“That’s great!” Billy exclaimed. “We can get down to the actual work then.”
“I should get back,” Natalie said awkwardly, waving goodbye and jogging back to the park, thankful when she saw her unharmed kid sister climbing on the jungle gym. An uneasy feeling had crept into her tummy when she thought about helping with the fake IDs, so she opted to play with Allie for a bit, finally going home by 7 as promised.
The next day, Peter and El finally agreed that Natalie could attend the party, but with certain conditions. They needed the address and phone numbers of Adriana’s parents, and told Natalie about 500 times that she couldn’t leave the party until they came to pick her up.
When Saturday finally arrived, the girls were so eager they didn’t even get into one argument with each other or their parents. Natty helped Allie get into costume, which she demanded to put on first thing that morning, and they finished putting up the last of the decorations, including a bowl of candy near the front door. They also snuck a couple of pieces of candy for themselves when no one was looking, which just made them both more hyper. It was one of the first times Natalie felt like a kid.
After lunch, the doorbell rang. “Karen! You’re here!” Allie said, tackling her best friend in a hug.
Karen squealed in response, hugging Allie tightly. “I can’t wait for tonight!! It’s gonna be so much fun!” She wore her bandit outfit, her blond hair in pigtails, and had her wooden horse with her.
“I can’t wait either! Lizbeth said I can’t eat the candy we got but I want to soooo bad!” Allie grabbed Karen’s hand. “C’mon, let me show you my toys!”
The six-year-olds hurried upstairs as Mrs. Barnes introduced herself to Peter and Elizabeth. “Thank you so much for allowing Karen to stay the night… She adores Allie.”
Elizabeth smiled. “Allie adores her too. Hopefully they stay out of trouble this time.”
Mrs. Barnes nodded. “Yes, and please, if she deserves it, bare her bottom and spank her like your own.”
Allie and Karen ran by with their stick horses, Sachmo chasing them happily.
“Outside if you’re going to run!” Peter called out.
A door could be heard slamming as the trio scurried out into the backyard.
Elizabeth smiled and offered Mrs. Barnes a seat. “Would you like to stay for tea?”
“I’m afraid I have to decline,” Mrs. Barnes told her. “And please, call me Kathy.”
They heard the back door then and quiet giggling coming from the kitchen.
“You better not be into the candy!” Peter called out, then excused himself. “I should see what they’re up to.”
A small cowgirl stood on the counter, reaching for the candy bowl that Peter had placed high up in the cabinet. But they wanted a treat, and Allie was determined to sneak some.
Then the door swung open and she was caught red-handed. He folded his arms.
An innocent smile graced the cowgirl’s face. “Hi Peter! Want some?”
The little bandit glanced between them, giggling. She was supposed to have been the lookout but hadn’t done a good job of it.
“We’ve talked about this, Allison,” he said, walking towards her and lifting her off the counter. He plucked the bowl from her hands and put it back inside the cabinet, keeping a firm grip on her upper arm. “Karen, can you give us a minute?”
Shrugging she reached for the doorknob. “Okay. I’ll go play with Sachmo,” and headed outside.
Allie frowned, trying to tug her arm away. “Let go, Peter. I’m playing.”
“I don’t care,” he said, sitting down in front of her. “Right now you’re going to listen to me.” He ignored her scrunched up face and stopped her before she could say something to earn a spanking. “I want to make sure you understand that if you misbehave, you’ll get a spanking, and I don’t care if Karen is around to see it. Got it?”
Scowling at him, she refrained from stomping her foot. “Yes, meaniehead.” Then she muttered, “Daddy woulda let us have the candy…”
A firm swat landed on her backside. “Watch that attitude, young lady. I also will not hesitate to send Karen back home, or ground you from trick or treating.”
Allie yelped at the smack, then pouted as she rubbed her bottom.
“No more candy until tonight,” he reminded as he released the grip on her. “Go play.”
“Can’t we just have one piece?” Allie pleaded when she felt herself calm down. “Karen hasn’t had any yet. We wanted kit-kats. Please?” She gave him her best puppy dog look, hoping that for once it would work.
“Fine, but only one, and that’s it until tonight. Deal?”
“Deal!” she agreed.
Peter gave her the two candies and Allie skipped outside. She gave her friend the candy and the two of them played, leaving the sweets alone as promised. They both galloped around with their stick horses, shouting playfully and getting Sachmo riled up.
As the sun set, Natty started getting ready. She was going as the scary clown from the new movie, It, and El was doing an amazing job with her hair and makeup. It was the first time she was truly grateful for her foster mom. Alex would have never sat down and spent quality time with her. But El was different.
Before the doorbell rang, Allie already heard her father and opened the door for him, squealing with delight.
“Hey, Monkey! Are you ready to trick or treat?” Neal said, scooping her into his arms.
Nodding eagerly, Allie kissed her dad on the cheek. “We’re waiting for Natty. Me an’ Karen are playing sheriff and bandit!” She went on to exclaim their game as Neal set her down, listening intently.
Natty crept down the stairs, now fully dressed in her scary costume, inching closer and closer to where the little girls stood with Neal. When there was a lull in conversation she popped up. “BOO!”
The kids shrieked, and Allie jumped so high she practically climbed up Neal in the process. Karen ran behind him, peeking out nervously.
Upon hearing the commotion, Peter came in frowning, immediately looking at the giggling preteen. “Natty, enough.”
She tried to stop laughing, but his angry face made it even harder. “Someone’s in a bad mood today.” Then ruffling her little sister’s hair teased, “Awww come on, don’t be a baby… Is it time to go?”
“Yes,” Neal replied as he crouched down to look the little girls in the eyes. “No running off tonight or we’ll come home early and you both get spanked. Got it?”
The two of them nodded in understanding. “Got it! Let’s go!”
Neal also gave Natalie a pleading look as if asking for help and she smiled, running ahead. “C’mon, I’ll lead!” Allie and Karen chased after her, riding their stick horses happily and loudly, Neal close behind.
They knocked on door after door and glanced into the pillow cases every time a treat was dropped in. They stopped at a haunted house as well and waited as Natalie went through, the little ones too chicken to go in.
Natalie returned, grinning. “I got chased by a guy with a chainsaw! It was great!”
Neal chuckled as they carried on, going to more houses and getting more candy. Eventually he ended up carrying Allie and Karen’s pillow cases as they were getting too heavy for them and the girls wanted to have a horse chase.
“Steer clear of the road!” he reminded them, though they were already running down the street giggling. “What time do you need to be at your party?” he asked Natalie as he watched the two horse racers.
“Ummmm,” Natalie said, glancing at her watch. “Crap! I should be there now!” It was already past the time she’d promised Adriana. Instantly she started thinking of all possible worst-case scenarios, including that Adriana would hate her and never speak to her again. “Can you take me?”
“Just let me wrangle the munchkins,” Neal replied. “Allie! Karen! You need to come back now!”
The girls ignored him as they were running in circles.
“Now! Or we’ll go home!” he called out.
That got their attention, and they scampered back. Once they were close, he scolded them lightly for not listening the first time.
“We have to drop Natty off, then we’ll finish filling up your bags,” he stated.
“Let’s ride!” Allie exclaimed. “Lead the way, scary clown!”
Natalie basically ran to her friend’s house, only stopping occasionally if Neal shouted at her or they came to a red light. She was happy to see Adriana’s smile when they arrived at her apartment.
“So glad you came!” the 8th grader announced and then waved over Natalie’s head at the others. “Hey Neal and kids!”
“I thought I was never going to get away from them,” Natty muttered.
“I’m here to save you!” Adriana replied and grabbed her friend’s hand, dragging her inside.
They hung out for a bit in the living room, sipping on soda and commenting about everyone’s costumes. They killed a few minutes then decided it was time to go to Billy’s. “Let’s go down the fire escape so my fam doesn’t see.”
“I should leave my phone to charge,” Natalie replied, not wanting to admit the real reason was because Peter was tracking her. But Adriana didn’t care and helped Natty find a plug, then the two miscreants climbed down the rusty ladder.
They half-jogged to Matt and Billy’s house, using the back door to enter the basement. There was a group of guys down there, the same ones Natty had met at the birthday party — Matt and Billy (of course), Ramon, Carlos, and Jared. They were sitting around a table with a deck of cards, passing around a funny-smelling cigarette.
“Oh good, they’re here,” Carlos said. “We can get started. “
The boys introduced Natty to their work, sifting through cards from different states — mostly Connecticut and Rhode Island because those were the easiest to make. Natalie was unimpressed with their work. “Do you have the originals?” She was a master at copying artwork, detail by detail, just like her dad.
Ramon tossed the three originals in front of her.
“Your Connecticut licenses are all off center — look,” she said, and all six loomed over her. “See how the date is here on the original, but in the fake it’s there? Also, you’ve really gotta figure out the right colors. Can I just make them?” she insisted.
The boys looked amongst each other, the usual forger, Carlos, feeling a bit ashamed. “You’re going to put our friend out of a job,” Billy said, chuckling.
“No offense but I’m sure I can make them look more legit,” Natty retorted.
Carlos shrugged. “Let her try and see how hard it is first hand.”
Billy agreed and Carlos led her to the computer. He didn’t bother opening what he’d photoshopped, just pointed to where the pictures were. “Another thing, you need a better place to take pictures. The light is so off. But I’ll try to fix that.”
While the boys and Adriana smoked weed and played cards, Natalie worked away at designing the perfect forged license, careful to make every detail match. She must’ve worked for hours, unaware at how the time had passed, not a care in her mind.
“But Daddy we’re not ready to go back yet!” Allie protested. “Our horses want more candy.”
“Yeah!” Karen agreed as she turned and galloped off.
Allie caught Neal’s glare before following her friend and squirming nervously.
“Get back here!” Neal demanded. “I’ve already warned you what happens to little girls who run off.”
Karen laughed as she had only been spanked that one time. She and Allie had been sneaking candy which had hyped her up. “I don’t control the horse! He goes where he wants!” She galloped towards the end of the street, neighing.
“Daddy my horse wants to run, too!” Allie told him as she rocked back and forth impatiently. “Can I go to that house for candy while you get Karen? I’ll come right and wait for you.”
“We’re about to call Karen’s Mom to come pick her up,” Neal warned loudly so the bratty kid could hear.
That stopped Karen in her tracks. “Noooo! I don’t wanna go home!”
“That’s not fair!” Allie protested. “We’re having our first sleepover! I didn’t even do anything bad!”
“If you don’t listen, we can’t have you staying over. Come here, now.”
Karen pouted as she came back to the pair. “My horse wants to ride with the wind Mister. And I’m not going home.”
“I know you want to have a good time, but you can’t run off. I’ve already warned you. So when we get back, either you’re getting a spanking or your mom’s coming to pick you up. Which do you prefer?”
Scowling up at him, Karen said, “I’m not going home. I’m not even staying at your house!”
Allie crossed her arms, dropping her stick horse. “Tell him you’ll take the spanking so we can get more candy!”
Karen looked at her friend, surprised. “I….okay….I’ll take the spanking…. Can we get the candy now?!?”
“One more house, then home, and no arguments. Got it?”
“Got it!” Allie replied as she grabbed her horse back up. “Race you!”
Both girls darted towards the house, smiling sweetly as they held their hands out since Neal still held their pillow cases. “Trick or treat!”
The lady smiled and complemented their costumes, then gave them each a big kit Kat plus a second chocolate bar of their choice for being so cute. The girls squealed as they raced back to Neal.
Once back home the girls tore into the house hooting and hollering, causing Sachmo to bark excitedly. They ran in circles giggling as the dog danced around them wanting to play.
Peter and Elizabeth came downstairs upon hearing the noise. “Did you have fun?” El asked.
“I did!” Allie enthused. “Karen earned a spanking but I didn’t!” She beamed proudly. “And we got lots and lots of candy!I can’t wait to eat it all!” She squealed as Sachmo kissed her face.
“You’re not eating it all tonight,” Peter warned, taking the full pillowcases. He half-glared at Neal. “Why did you let them get so much? They’ll be going crazy all night.”
Neal smirked but didn’t comment as El played peacekeeper again. “Let’s go put the candy away while Neal talks to Karen.”
“Can we eat some now? Pleeeease Peter?” Allie pleaded as she hurried after him. “Pleeeease? Please? Pleeeease?”
Karen frowned as she stood by Neal. She wished she was running after them but how bad could a spanking from him be?
Neal didn’t take any time lecturing her about running off, but did give her a final warning. “Karen, if you want to go places with us, you cannot run away. If you run off every time you’re with us, I’ll have to stop taking you places.”
The six-year-old pouted. “But I like going with Allie. We have fun together….I’m sorry Mister.” She looked down at her feet, feeling guilty.
“I’m going to give you a spanking to help you remember. And once it’s over, you’re all forgiven.”
“Kay,” Karen answered softly. She fidgeted in her seat. “I’ll try and remember Mister…. I just like running lots.”
“I noticed,” Neal said and gently tossed the little girl over his lap. He didn’t bother baring her bottom, but did start the spanking a little harder than he would have Allie. “Maybe your mom is okay with you running away, but we’re not. When you’re with this family, you have to follow our rules.” He increased the intensity and speed of the swats, focusing mostly on her sit spots to help her remember this for a little while.
Karen yelped with each swat and was crying not long after he had started. “Owwww!” she wailed. “Mommy doesn’t like it either! “
He gave her a few more hard-ish swats, then lifted her. Looking in her eyes, he said, “No more rule breaking, Karen, because the next spanking will be harder.”
Karen was crying and threw her arms around him for a hug when he finished. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” She definitely didn’t want another spanking, and hoped she could be good long enough to avoid another one.
Neal hugged the little girl in return and once she calmed down he led her to the kitchen where Allie was sorting through her candy and trying to convince Peter they needed at least ten pieces each for their slumber party. “We need one for each finger!”
“You can share ten,” he compromised. “That’s my final offer. Take it or leave it.” He looked up at Neal, getting distracted as they chatted about Natalie’s party. He didn’t notice the little girl swiping a few more candies.
“So the parents seem okay?” Peter was asking.
“Yeah, and Adriana seems like a good kid.”
Peter happened to glance down to see Allie’s hand in the bag. “I see you’re looking to get a spanking, too.”
“No I’m not,” Allie argued. “You guys aren’t any fun today…” She wasn’t used to both Peter and Neal being firm on the same day. “Eat some candy. You’ll feel better.”
Peter grumbled, unimpressed with her behavior. “I’m about to throw all of the candy in the trash.”
“NO!” Allie shrieked, her eyes filling with tears. “We worked hard for it! I didn’t even run off at all!” And she had wanted to run off too, very badly. She looked to Elizabeth for some help.
“Girls, Peter said 10 pieces to share, and that’s final,” Elizabeth said. “Now run along and play.”
Allie slid from the chair, as did Karen. “Don’t let Peter toss our candy Lizbeth! Please!” she said as they scurried away.
“Don’t you worry about that,” Elizabeth told her. “Go have fun.”
Allie and Karen ran off to Allie’s room and immediately dug into the candy. They ate a few pieces before jumping on the bed and giving delighted shrieks.
The three adults sat around in the living room for a bit, making small talk until it was time to get Natalie. Peter decided to call her to give a heads up, frowning when she didn’t pick up. “I swear if she doesn’t start answering her phone when we call…” he groaned, already tracking her location. “It says she’s there, but something feels off.”
It was because the preteen was still at Billy and Matt’s house, having almost perfected the fake ID. She’d only been able to finish the one for Connecticut, and was about to start the next when she glanced at her watch and realized the time. “Uh, I should go. I’ll finish the others later.”
The gang admired her work, impressed at how legit it looked. “You got the job, kid,” Billy said, handing her a wad of bills. She smiled and shoved it in her pocket, then ran with Adriana back to her place. They’d barely slipped through the window when Adriana’s mom called out for Natalie.
The pre-teen took a few deep breaths to slow her breathing so that they wouldn’t seem suspicious. She grabbed her phone and headed for the front hall where Peter and Neal stood.
“Bye! Thanks for inviting me! I had a great time!” Natty called out, waving goodbye.
“How was the party?” Neal asked. “Did you have fun?”
“It was great!” Natalie lied easily, channeling her adrenaline into excitement. “We played games and danced.”
Peter kept a serious face as Natty rambled, finally interrupting her when they stepped outside. “Why didn’t you answer your phone?”
“I left it charging in Adriana’s room. Sorry. You had her parents number, you could’ve called them.”
“I didn’t want to call them, I wanted you to answer,” Peter said.
Natalie could tell her foster dad wasn’t in a good mood, so she apologized, glancing at Neal who shrugged. They trudged down the street and when Natalie was a safe distance away, Peter looked at his CI: “Something’s off here.”
“We don’t have any proof. Until then we have to take her word. “
When the trio reached the house, they were greeted by the kids screaming and streaking through the house.
“Ooookay, well, I’m going to head out,” Neal said almost immediately upon entering. Elizabeth looked fed up and like she was about to cry.
“Wow, looks like I missed the real party…” Natalie muttered, slipping past the kids jumping on the couch and heading towards her room.
“What’s going on?” Peter asked. “Why do we have two naked six year olds running around?”
“I think they’re on a sugar high,” Elizabeth said. “I asked them to get ready for bed and next thing I knew…”
Allie and Karen jumped off the sofa and flew by once more with Sachmo at their heels.
“Girls,” Peter said, but they ignored him, continuing to run. “Girls…” his voice grew louder and louder until he bellowed, “GIRLS!” and Sachmo growled, causing everyone to go silent for a minute.
Allie and Karen both froze in place. They glanced at each other, Sachmo, then Peter.
“Yes?” Allie finally spoke.
“You were told to get on your pajamas, not streak through the house. Go upstairs and get dressed!”
Allie frowned. “But we’re having fun!”
“Yeah! ” Karen agreed. “We’re not tired at all!”
Allie started giggling as the girls began to playfully shove each other.
“I’m giving you to the count of three to put on your pjs,” Peter warned. “One…”
Allie and Karen ran away, ignoring him as they darted to the kitchen to see if they could find something to drink.
Elizabeth rubbed her temples. “I didn’t realize how rambunctious they could be.”
“I’m about to settle them down right now,” Peter said, storming after the girls. He caught Allie on the counters — again! Snatching the cups from her hands, he set them down on the table before grabbing ahold of Allie’s waist and planting several hard swats to her bare bottom. “I have warned you many times today,” he scolded, delivering a couple of mild swats to her thighs. “You are on thin ice with me, Young Lady. If this disobedience doesn’t stop, we will not be able to have your friend over again.”
Allie yelped, starting to cry as her hand flew back. “Ow! Ow! Owwwww!”
Karen quietly set the juice on the table and tried to inch out of the kitchen. But Elizabeth stood in the doorway, arms folded, blocking her exit. “Don’t think you’re getting off so easy,” she said, pushing up her sleeves. She took Karen by the upper arm and peppered a few hard smacks to her bare bum. “You’ve also been warned, little girl.” Elizabeth didn’t spank her that hard, but Karen, like Allie, was sobbing crocodile tears and apologizing profusely.
When both girls’ bums were bubblegum pink, the spankings stopped. “Are you ready to get your pajamas on like we asked?”
“Yesssss!” they both wailed, rubbing their bottoms.
Elizabeth stepped aside so the girls could do as they had been told.
“She spanks hard,” Karen complained as they climbed upstairs.
“Peter spanks harder than everybody,” Allie told her as she rubbed her bottom some more. “We better be good. Peter’s cranky and that’s never good for my bum.”
Karen nodded as they finished dressing and went back downstairs.
When they arrived, Allie popped in her My Little Pony DVD, then slid up on the couch.
They sat quietly for a little while, eventually standing and bouncing a bit as they watched their show.
“On your bottoms,” he ordered. “There’s been enough jumping on furniture.”
They didn’t move at first but soon as he started to move they quickly sat back down.When the movie ended, the kids went up to bug Natalie, who actually welcomed the distraction since she’d been text-arguing with Justin the last few hours.
The girls played together until Elizabeth came upstairs, knocking softly on Natty’s door. “There you are, little monkeys. It’s after 11, time to get in bed. But if you don’t tell Peter, I’ll let you watch cartoons until you fall asleep.”
“Okay!” Allie chirped. “We can keep a secret, right Karen?”
“Right!” Karen agreed as she let Allie drag her down the hall.
They each pulled out their favorite stuffed animals and climbed into their sleeping bags in front of the TV.
“Lizbeth?” Allie called. “Can we have popcorn? We’re hungry.”
“Sweetie, I think you’ve had enough junk for the night. How about apple slices?”
“I like apples!” Karen piped up. “Can you put peanut butter on them? Please? Mommy puts peanut butter on them and they’re yummy!”
Elizabeth agreed and went to grab the girls a plate of snacks.
“They’re stalling,” Peter said. “And you played right into it.”
“Well I can’t let them starve,” El answered. “Besides, it’s just fruit.”
“Mmmm…” But he said nothing more, already aware that the little girl had El wrapped around her finger.
She went back upstairs with the snacks and two cups of milk. “But sit up while you’re eating,” she reminded as both girls lay transfixed on their show. Elizabeth programmed the tv to turn off in one hour, and sat at Allie’s desk, waiting for them to finish eating.
“That was super yummy!” Allie declared when it was gone. “We should put peanut butter on apples all the time!”
Karen stifled a yawn, tired but wanting to stay up long as she could.
“Goodnight girls, sleep well,” El said, giving them each a kiss on the forehead and tucking them in with their stuffed animals.
Allie and Karen lay quietly until the TV went off then started whispering. That soon somehow turned into a pillow fight with squeals and giggles and once more an excited dog.
“Shhh! Sachmo! You’re gonna wake Peter up!”
Karen fell over giggling. “He doesn’t know how to be quiet.”
Allie gave a small giggle too even as her bedroom door creaked open.
“What’s going on in here?” Peter grumbled, flipping on the light and finding the children standing amongst pillow feathers and stuffed animals..
Allie and Karen covered their eyes to keep from being blinded. “Sachmo is being noisy,” Allie answered.
“Sachmo, out!” Peter ordered, and the dog whined, bowing his head in compliance. He trotted out of the room and lay on the stairs, staring up at Peter in a pout. “Where did this mess come from? Do I even want to know?”
“Nope,” Allie answered sweetly. “Goodnight Peter.”
Karen flashed him an innocent smile that appeared cheeky at the same time. She hoped he would just go back to bed.
When Peter closed the door, he had a feeling that he’d end up back in front of the girls room in a few minutes, and not just because of the whine Sachmo gave him. “I know, Sach, it’s never fair.” He bent down to pet him, waiting for a moment to listen if the girls were really going to sleep.
Karen giggled some more. “Let’s make more pillows explode!”
Shaking her head, Allie whispered, “Shhhhh, he’s prolly listening.”
Karen quieted down and followed Allie’s lead in pretending to sleep.
A few minutes later Peter poked his head in and saw them motionless. With a smile, he headed back to his room.
After his footsteps faded, Karen peeled an eye open and giggled. “We should go somewhere they can’t hear us.”
“Are you sure?” Allie asked hesitantly. She chewed on her lower lip, finally coming up with an idea. “Outside! They wouldn’t hear us there!”
The girls tiptoed downstairs and out to the backyard. Neither were surprised when Sachmo followed.
They played on the tire swing, giggling happily, only pausing when Sachmo growled at the gate to the yard. He gave a couple loud barks and the girls’ ears perked up. They heard rustling and footsteps running away. Then Sachmo came back to them, glancing around protectively.
“It’s prolly nothin’,” Allie reasoned, swinging higher. “Sachmo will keep us safe!”
Then Sachmo ran back towards the gate, letting out another growl and a loud bark.
The noise startled Peter awake, and a really bad feeling sat in his gut. At first he’d thought the noise was a dream, but something told him to look out the window. He couldn’t believe his eyes — were they really outside at 2am?!
The dog was pacing and growling at the gate when Peter tore the back door open and shouted, “You two, inside, NOW.”
The girls froze a moment until Sachmo herded them inside. As they entered, Peter stopped them and planted six hard swats to their bums. “What are you doing outside at this time of night?” He let Sachmo in and closed the door behind him. “You, sit over there,” he said to Karen, then took Allie by the wrist, leading her to a chair and sitting down. He dropped her over his lap and tugged her pj pants to her knees.
“Noooo! Peterrrrr!” Allie kicked as she tried to squirm away.
Peter kept a firm grip on her and rained down the first flurry of hard swats to her bare bum. “You’ve been warned time and time again to behave, and you haven’t been listening. This is what happens when you don’t follow directions.” His firm hand covered her entire bottom and caused it to bounce with each blow, turning pink within seconds.
The little girl shrieked, flailing wildly. “Ow! Ow! Owwwwww!”
Karen covered her ears as tears filled her eyes. She wasn’t looking forward to being next.
“Do you have any idea how dangerous it is to be outside this time of night? You’re lucky you didn’t get kidnapped!” He increased the intensity and speed of the spanking, focusing for a minute on her sit spots and popping her thighs a few times. Her cries did not faze him a bit.
Allie wailed loudly, her hand flying back to protect her bottom. “OWWWWWW!” She screeched. “We had Sachmooooo!”
Grabbing Allie’s wrist and holding her hand tight, Peter spanked harder, causing her to wail even louder.
“I’m sorryyyyyy!” Bottom stinging like crazy, she struggled to break free.
Karen was crying softly now, hands still over her ears. She so did not want to be next!
Peter grabbed the wooden spoon from the table and thwacked it on Allie’s backside, peppering each cheek lightly as he knew she was already in enough pain, judging by her crimson bottom. “Do. Not. Disobey. Anymore.” He scolded, emphasizing each word with a swat.
“I won’t! I won’t!” Allie sobbed. “I’ll be good!” She was getting tired and her bottom ached something fierce.
The spanking finished with two moderately hard smacks to her sit spots. “Will you go to sleep now, or do you need more?”
“I’ll sleep!” Allie wailed, tears streaming down her face. “I’ll sleep!”
He lifted his foster child up then looked over to the other culprit. Karen’s eyes were wide as saucers, terrified of the spoon and wondering if she could escape. Before she could move, Peter placed a large hand on her shoulder to move her forward. “C’mon, kiddo. Your turn.”
The little girl broke down. “I don’t want my turn! I’ll go to sleep! Really this time!”
Allie shuffled out of the way, tugging up her pajamas and rubbing her sore backside as she watched the scene..
Though Karen cried and struggled, Peter was easily able to toss her over his lap and swipe down her pj pants. He had always been a proponent of fair treatment, so didn’t go easy on her, peppering her cheeks with the same intensity as he had Allie.
Her howls the louder than Allie’s, and Karen tossed her hand back almost immediately. “OWWWWWWW!!!!”
Peter took the tiny hand in his but didn’t miss a beat with the spanking. “Young lady, I’ll tell you as I did Allie,” he scolded, her pale bottom glowing. “It’s dangerous to be out so late and the two of you know better than to sneak out.” He moved to her sit spots, tightening his grip so she wouldn’t squirm away.
Karen sobbed louder, kicking like crazy. “I’m sorryyyyy!”
“Not as sorry as you’re going to be when I get finished,” he said, stopping for just a moment to reach for the spoon. “And if I catch you two out of bed again tonight, this spanking will be nothing compared to the one you’ll get.” He smacked the spoon down on her backside, lightly as he had with Allie, but firm enough that she could feel the sting.
The exaggerated reaction was immediate — Karen began sobbing the second the wood slapped against her tender skin.
Allie whimpered. “You’re not s’pose to sleep at sleepovers,” she piped up tearfully.
The spanking stopped suddenly, and Peter shot Allie a glare. “Your smart mouth is about to earn you another.”
“Noooooo… I’ve had enough,” she said tearfully, still rubbing her bottom.
Peter went back to chastising Karen, finally finishing with two mild pops on her sit spots. “I’ll ask you the same as Allie: Are you ready to go to bed now or do you need more?”
“Bed!” Karen choked out, her body shaking with sobs.
He lifted the pitiful child up and allowed her to readjust her pjs. Then he pulled both of them to stand in front of him. “Girls, I know you want to have fun, but sneaking out is dangerous, and you both know it’s against the rules. We will talk more about this in the morning — but please behave. I don’t want to give anymore spankings tonight.” He brought them in for a hug.
Allie and Karen both hugged him tightly, sniffling out apologies.
When they were tucked back into their sleeping bags, Allie glanced at her foster dad. “Would you wanna know about strange noises?”
Peter cocked an eyebrow, urging her to continue.
“I think somebody was trying to get in the yard,” Allie admitted. “Sachmo kept growling and barking at the gate. And I thought I heard somebody running….”
Karen nodded. “I heard the noises too. But the doggy kept us safe.”
“I’ll check it out,” Peter assured, though he felt his heart stop in panic. “But don’t worry, I’ll keep you safe. It’s probably just Halloween mischief.” With a kiss to the forehead, he turned, flipping off the light and easing the door shut.
The uneasy feeling in his gut prompted Peter to get the gun from his safe, then he crept back downstairs and outside, searching around for any unusual activity. An unusual car was parked across the street, and there was a handful of broken branches near the gate. He looked around, wondering who would come to the house so late. Part of him believed it could be an intruder, while the other half suspected Natalie was up to something, whether sneaking out or having someone sneak in, he wasn’t sure. So on the way back to bed, he set the house alarm, then checked on Natty who was fast asleep and snoring. There was nothing he could do about it tonight… but tomorrow he’d search for further evidence.
The next morning the little ones came down around eight, rubbing their eyes tiredly. “Lizbeth? Do we smell pancakes?” Allie asked as they came into the kitchen.
“Yes you do,” Elizabeth answered, flipping a couple of pancakes onto plates and bringing them to the table. Peter and Natty were still in bed, but she knew the smell would rouse them soon enough. “How did you sleep last night?”
“Good! Sachmo kept us warm!” Allie enthused, licking her lips as the food was placed in front of her.
The girls carried on conversation for a few minutes, halfway finished with breakfast when Peter stumbled in. His hair stuck out in all directions, purple circles under his eyes that his wife noticed when he bent down for a kiss.
“It looks like you didn’t sleep a wink,” El commented as he poured a cup of black coffee.
“Didya stay up catching the bad guy?” Allie wanted to know.
“What’s she talking about?” Her voice remained steady, but the subtle pitch change hinted that she was concerned.
Peter sighed, not ready to make them worry. “No, there was nobody there — it was probably a raccoon… they’re always getting into the trash and it drives Sachmo crazy.”
El pressed. “Hon? There was nobody where?”
As he was about to respond, Natalie came in asking for her phone. By the time Peter came back with it, the kids had already filled El in on the embellished details of last night’s fiasco. Natty also listened, so intrigued at the fable that she barely chewed her food.
Somehow he managed to steer the conversation elsewhere, focusing on plans for the day. Natty offered to take them to the park, but Peter denied her request with the excuse that Neal was coming over. In reality, he was just worried for their safety.
After breakfast, Allie, Karen, and El went to the backyard to play, leaving Peter alone with the preteen. He took a sip of coffee, then cleared his throat. “I want to talk about last night.”
“Sure, what’s up?” she asked, fixated on her phone.
Peter placed a hand over the screen so she had to look him in the eyes. “I don’t have proof of anything, but something was going on last night with you, and I don’t know what. I’d much rather you tell me the truth than find out later from someone else…”
Natalie bit her lip, feeling a rumbling in her tummy. She knew that he was right… it’d be much easier on her if she confessed…
But at the same time, she was pissed they didn’t trust her. She hadn’t even done anything wrong when they decided to track her like a criminal… just like her dad. And why should she trust Peter if he didn’t trust her?
“I got into an argument with my boyfriend,” she told him after a long moment, shrinking in her seat at the feeling of vulnerability. “It kind of upset me, so that’s why I was off.” Maybe half the truth would appease him for now.
“Oh,” Peter said, sighing and finally relaxing. Of course it’s just boy problems — she’s 12! What other kinds of problems could she have? “I’m sorry to hear that,” he empathized. “Do… you want to… talk about it?”
Natalie shook her head. “Not really. I’ll be okay,” she assured him. “It sounds like you have bigger things to worry about anyway.”
Speaking of bigger things to worry about… It was time to upgrade their security system, so Peter went shopping for a camera to install on the wall near the gate. As he was putting it in, El approached him.
“Who do you think it is?”
Peter looked at his wife, surprised (but not really) that she’d noticed he was lying about it being an animal. “I don’t know, but we’re going to find out.”