Previous: Chapter 13 – Chloe Before NYC
When Gabe asked for privacy, I bolted from Vic’s room to my own. I’d held back tears the whole paddling — I hated seeing him break Violet like that, even if it would be helpful in the long run. Her pleas and anguish really tugged at my heartstrings. So as soon as I found my bed, I let myself flop down and cry out all I’d kept in.
Toby was soon behind me, falling to my side and awkwardly patting my back. “It’s the only way she learns.” His manner of reassuring me that everything would be okay.
“I know,” I sniffled, looking up at him. “I just hate it. Why does the conversation turn dramatic every time with her? And she brings out the worst parts of me…”
“Because you allow it to come out around her.”
My nose wrinkled at his bluntness as I felt tears coming again. “I don’t like it.”
He let the silence weigh on me for a moment. “What will you do to change?”
Ugh… Toby and his questions. In all honesty, I’d ignore my dark side and move on until it re-emerged and repeated the same cycle as it did since Violet and I met. It’s just how our personalities mix. When she’s not doing well, it affects me to the core. And if I can’t help her, I can’t help myself. But… expressing that to Toby would earn me a fierce verbal lashing. “Try to do more self-care, I guess.”
Through my crying, I shot him a playful glare. “I mean, I will do it.”
We’d covered the entire psychology textbook chapter on self-care (thanks for the review) when Gabe finished his business and shoved my bead door to the side, causing the bamboo strands to swing, clanging together in fury. He pointed directly at me. “You’re next on my list.”
Having not expected it, my heart and breathing stopped. The knot in my throat dissolved as I spoke, sending more tears down my cheeks. “What did I do?”
“When did you plan to tell me about Violet if I didn’t keep asking for her help with the case?”
“I… I don’t know…”
Gabe shook his head, unsatisfied with my answer. “If you allowed her behavior to continue so long, I’m willing to bet there’s more to this story. You’re lucky I’m out of time to deal with you tonight.” He glanced at his watch, then at Toby. “She’s hiding something… I’m confident you can get it out of her, doc.”
My friend’s body tensed up next to me. “I’m sure I can.”
“Wait… what??? I’m not hiding anything!” I whined.
Gabe didn’t bother arguing, though, instead saying goodbye.
I walked him to the front door where he turned to me before opening it. “Behave,” he warned with a light swat to my bottom. “And whatever the doc prescribes, accept it.”
With his terrible metaphor, I shoved Gabe out, locking up behind him.
“Something hidden, eh?” Toby said when I shuffled back into my room.
“You’d know before anyone else if that was true.” I avoided eye contact, though, figuring that he suspected. I reached for my vape pen, thankful to smoke now that Gabe had left, sucking in a deep breath. When the vapor blew out of my nose, I finally mustered up the courage to peek at Toby.
“You’re right, I would. And you know I expect you to come forward and tell me if you need my help. That’s where Gabe and I differ.”
I sank into my bed, not wanting to get him started with complaints about my first mentor. “Hey, wanna smoke with me?? It’s been a while…”
His eyebrow cocked. “Really?”
Ignoring his doubtful tone, I continued. “Yeah, why not? It was a stressful day, you blocked off the rest of your evening so no crises will arise…. c’mon, roll me a blunt. I miss our theoretical discussions. It’ll be my self-care!” Cue my adorable puppy eyes.
Wrapped around my finger, Toby obliged. I clapped in giddy, then dug in my drawer for the container with my weed and supplies, passing it to my colleague. His quirky, almost-obsessive way of rolling made me giggle, taking me back again to my last year of college.
“When we first met, you were such a hippie,” I giggled.
He glared up at me. “Was not. Where did you even get that idea??”
“I knew you!! Before Violet. Before you were a doctor. Back in the oooooolllllllddddddd days! When you were less lame!”
“Ha!” He smiled, shaking his head as he opened the grinder, checking to make sure the bud was the proper consistency for his anally perfect joint. “Maybe you’re right,” still smiling, now sprinkling the weed onto the paper. “The Peace Corps lifestyle was hippie, very zen. Then returned to this fucking city in the middle of my quarter-life crisis to conquer med school. I respect the zero-fucks vibe this plant produces, but I have to be careful.”
“Yeah… I remember that too…” I said, biting my lower lip as an image came to mind of Toby at his wit’s end with a young Violet and me. Trying to help us during our neediest moment while finishing residency had been an impossible task. His bad habits turned into addictions, and the burnout almost caused him to sabotage his career. That’s why he didn’t smoke much anymore and always lectured me about self-care. Which made me feel kinda guilty that I convinced him to join me…
“But I’m not too worried. I’ve grown up… I’m 33 now, and as you said, lame.”
I giggled as he finished rolling, looking at his artwork. “Perfect!” He selflessly passed it to me to light up and have the first glorious puff.
Most of our stoned conversation will be forever lost in our subconscious, but there’s one part that we both ended up getting more passionate about than expected. Yes, it has to do with spanking.
“Dude… It’s so late and Violet’s still working… did we just accomplish what you always talk about?”
Toby blinked, staring into space. His instinct is similar to Violet’s — challenge everything. Internally he was considering more than I’d ever comprehend, but something like this came out: “Effectively modify her behavior. It’s too soon to tell, but it’s possible. I believe there was an adequate amount of typical factors that influence behavior change, particularly shame. Having all three of us present must have significantly impacted her, too — the community approach.”
“That’s it!” I nearly shrieked. “The family!”
He cocked an eyebrow, waiting for me to continue.
“If we’re arguing that spanking can be effective… maybe a piece of the puzzle is community… or in our case, a sorta-family. When Violet was with Jason, she knew her attitude wasn’t the best, but when he tried to spank her, she fought until he grew tired. The unfair punishment was triggering and probably why rebellion happened in the first place. Where was I going with this?”
“You said that community is the missing component, and perhaps you’re correct. Hmmmm….” Toby’s eyes glazed over as he became absorbed in his thoughts again.
So I kept rambling. “I bet if we were with Violet, like a democracy, she wouldn’t have fought so regularly with Jason. She needed a mediator…. no, more than that. A family… people who care and try to understand. It’d probably work with others, too. I mean, just seeing Violet’s spanking today made me feel guilty about…” I broke off, remembering that I hadn’t confessed yet, so keeping my feelings private was in my best interest.
Toby didn’t notice, still lost in thought. “I’m intrigued. We could do an experiment…”
I blinked. “Umm… that sounds… evil.”
He let out a scarily convincing villainous laugh. “I think Vanessa has been adequately deterred from our gatherings after yesterday. Perhaps Izaak and Chloe would be apt to try? We can hold weekly meetings to discuss and track each mentee’s progress towards a specific behavior change. They’ll continue with their spankers as normal, but our get-togethers would be a forum for mediating disagreements and dishing out embarrassing punishments. If we wanted to get technical…”
Toby created a full-on scientific experiment, with all sorts of numbers and rationality, but I spaced out. My mind was fixated on the sinking pit in my tummy.
Since he’d gotten me the job at his Central Park psychotherapy office, my head had been spinning with conflicting thoughts. Even though it’d take time to build up a client base, I was already earning more than at my regular position in Queens, where my caseload was nearly full.
But in my old job, I’m making a bigger difference…
Wealthy people can afford the finest help anywhere. Those leftover get the shit end of the stick, stuck with apathetic therapists who quit after a few months of shitty compensation. Out of my 30 colleagues at the clinic, I’m one of the best, part of the elite crew who can do whatever I want without fear of repercussion.
Nobody cares about poor people.
The work situation mixed with my romantic life and Violet’s drama had me wrapped up in focusing energy solely on my neediest clients, which meant paperwork (and my self-care) went to the back burner. A habit that my friend had advised me to break before the overwhelm caused irreversible consequences.
It’s too shameful to admit to Toby. I should’ve talked to Gabe instead…
Adam was supposedly my top/spanker but had been in such a rough emotional place that I didn’t want to bother him with my meaningless issues.
Toby will just make it into such a big deal…
Maybe it is, though?
“I’m glad we did this,” he said, interrupting my thoughts and stretching his arms up like a cat. His eyes looked drowsy and a silly grin was plastered on his face, totally unaware of my inner turmoil. “Take care of yourself, little girl,” and gave me a kiss on the cheek, standing. “Will update you about what Izaak says tomorrow.”
After showing him out, I snuggled into bed with Netflix, somber but confident that comedy would improve my mood. Then halfway through the episode, a FaceTime call interrupted me.
“Heyyyyy! It’s my favorite person!” Vic chirped, flipping his hair out of his eyes and waving.
I returned the sentiment, and we gushed at seeing each other again, getting way too excited because we’re dorky like that. And spent time catching up.
But of course, eventually he had to ruin my pleasant distraction with serious talk. “And the work stuff? Weren’t you going to discuss it with Toby today? Sounds like Violet’s the only one who got any ‘correction’…”
I blushed upon hearing my vanilla friend say that so brazenly. “Mmmmm… you know what I’m craving? Pizza! I think I’ll order really quick…” I clicked off FaceTime and onto the delivery app, wanting to hide.
“Hey! Don’t avoid my question! You didn’t tell him?”
“We didn’t have time…”
“… You just told me you spent the last two hours getting high with him.”
“Ooooo… should I get pepperoni or sausage?”
“You don’t even like sausage!”
Ugh, he’s right. Stupid me, I could’ve picked a better topping. “I chickened out, okay?”
Vic laughed… yes, laughed!
I switched back to see him shaking his head at me, still wearing a smile. “That’s not nice to laugh at me.” I poked my lower lip out and made my eyes all big and adorable.
He breathed a heavy sigh and put on a serious expression. “Señorita, you need to stop procrastinating this talk with Toby. If you’ve earned a spanking, you must accept it and stop stalling. Come on, you’re braver than this!”
My cheeks burned again. “You’re not supposed to…” my voice trailed off as I pouted.
Vic’s eyebrows raised, and I regretted demanding he stop laughing. “Text him now.”
“You want to, right? Facing him is hard, so just write it.”
“After the pizza comes…”
“Did you finish ordering it?”
“Oh, shit!” I switched over to the incomplete order, adding a drink and dessert, then checking out, finally returning to my friend.
“You’ll feel better once you do it. I promise.”
“Awww, we’re back on this…”
Vic smiled. “You care for everyone else, so I have to care for you! And I’ll be happier when you’re caught up on work… Hearing about all you’ve procrastinated lately stresses me out.”
My tummy twisted into knots. “Fiiiiiiiine…. I’ll text him,” I huffed, clicking out of FaceTime again to open a blank message.
“What are you gonna write?”
“Ummmm…. I’ll say….” Fingers shaking, I began typing. “Can we talk tomorrow about, um, the stuff I’ve been hiding.”
“Yikes, your ass is toast!”
I gasped. “You’re so mean.”
He laughed again. “You’ll be fine. Didn’t you even write a blog about needing pain to have pleasure?”
“Great, using my words against me!” I sighed, clicking send, trying to ignore my pounding heart as I flipped back to Vic. At least the philosophical discussion of pain/pleasure was a simple transition to talking about something other than me getting spanked!
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