Chapter 1

 

Katherine awoke a little after eight o’clock; blinking the sleep from her eyes, as the morning sunshine streamed through the open curtains on the window to bathe her room in warm benevolence. She lay abed a while and bit her lip in fearful anticipation; remembering that today was caning day; the day she was obliged to take the train to London for her weekly caning. As always, the thought filled her with that baffling melange of dread, humiliation and excitement. She pushed a hand beneath the bedclothes to cup the orb of her buttocks, as if already feeling the, now familiar, biting cut of Sir Edward’s cane across them. The heat rose in her loins; maddening her with its enigma that she could so fear the cane and yet, at the same time, crave it.  Almost as if by some will other than her own, her hand slid to the front of her pyjamas, sliding beneath the elastic waist band and questing with her fingers at the moist warmth of her sex.

She masturbated a lot these days she realised; nearly every day in fact. She was ashamed of that but then there was a lot of shame to Katherine’s life now, not least of which was the dark secret of her weekly visits to Sir Edward’s office. She had never told anybody else about the true nature of her weekly journeys to London; not even her closest friends at university. They were, it is true, aware that she had some mysterious benefactor; some mentor who had assisted her in her financial troubles and to whom she was obliged to report regularly. They may have even suspected that there was more to the matter than met the eye. Katherine, after all, lived more comfortably and financially secure than most students and more than one would have expected, given her past record of imprudence. Certainly, since Sir Edward had entered it, her life had changed dramatically for the better. Nobody, however, knew the price she was obliged to pay for it.

Katherine buried her face in her pillow to stifle the little mewling cries and gasps she emitted as her fingers stroked the nub of her sex; quickening her toward orgasm. Suddenly she froze, breathing deeply, for she could hear her flat mate in the bathroom next to her room. She lay rigidly immobile, in fear that her friend had heard her; her face flushed with shame and frustration. She struggled to compose herself; cringing inwardly in humiliation and terrified that Melanie might discern the guilty fires that burned so disgracefully beneath the apparently prudish exterior of her friend and flat mate. She was a disgrace, Katherine thought to herself. She deserved her weekly punishment!

Mastering herself, Katherine sat up in bed. Her eyes alighted on the clothes she had laid out in preparation, the night before, and she drew a deep breath. Were you to come upon Katherine in the normal course of a day around the university, you would likely find her in a pair of jeans and a T shirt. She might don a pair of slacks and a shirt. Very rarely you might see her in a loose long skirt or even, in the summer months, a pair of shorts. She normally wore trainers on her feet or simple slip-ons although she had recently sported a pair of black leather calf boots she had treated herself to and loved. She affected the casual and comfortable style indistinguishable from any other of the thousands of other students on the campus. She might even wear a baseball cap on occasion. The clothes she wore to go to London were very different however. 

Few of her university friends would have recognised the smart, well-dressed young lady who took the train for London every week. Only Melanie ever saw that side of her but she, hopefully, still believed the fiction Katherine had invented to explain her ensemble for her weekly visits. Perhaps Melanie did not like to inquire too closely. She was, after all, a co-benefactor of Katherine’s relationship with Sir Edward. It was that gentleman’s largesse that paid the bills on the comfortable flat they shared. Melanie enjoyed the privilege of rent free accommodation and was presumably wary of delving too deeply into the reasons for that lest it upset a most agreeable apple cart.

“Am I a whore?” Katherine asked herself for the thousandth time. There was no easy answer to that one. It was true that she was financially dependent on Sir Edward. Without him, she would have faced bankruptcy and been obliged to drop out of university. He controlled all her purse strings, paid all the bills, allotted her her allowance and picked up the tab for expenses. Yet, while generous, he would not allow extravagance. Each week she was obliged to present him with a full account of her expenditures for the previous week. Had she exceeded her budget, he would demand a good explanation for her having done so. If one was not forthcoming, he would augment the mandatory number of cane strokes due to her. It was, he would tell her, to teach her the lessons of prudence and frugality.

That was the baffling thing about the relationship. To all intents and purposes, Sir Edward owned her. He paid all the bills and, in return, commanded her absolute obedience to his will. Yet Sir Edward did not exercise his prerogative to her obedience in order to use her sexually. She would, Katherine realised, have little option but to submit should he desire to do so. On the first occasions he had caned her, she had half expected him to assert that right. Bent over, with her knickers about her knees and her bottom smarting from the cane, it had seemed the logical progression that he would then open his trousers and take her, there and then, slapping hard against her tender buttocks as he satisfied himself. She would have had no choice in the matter and, secretly, desired none. When he had merely patted her bottom with his hand and ordered her to stand in the corner with her hands on her head, whilst the heat from the cane throbbed maddeningly in her rear, she had felt oddly frustrated.

So it had been ever since. She had been attending on Sir Edward every week for a little over five months now and not once had he ever shown any interest in enjoying her sexually. She wondered if he actually enjoyed punishing her. She had thought, at first, that it gave him pleasure to take the cane to her yet, while he remained so indifferent to her in any other physical manner, it remained possible to maintain the illusion that he considered it merely his duty or obligation to discipline her and that it was entirely for her own good that he did so. Certainly that was what he asserted and, as yet, had not given any cause to believe that he thought otherwise.

So yes, she was owned, but it was not the ownership of a man of a concubine but rather that of a stern and demanding father figure; a patron who believed that his charge was a young lady whose conduct and deportment were materially improved by keeping her on a short leash and having her disciplined regularly. For that reason, her weekly visits complied to a rigidly formal ritual whose steps he had been careful to establish the very first time he had caned her. She had been meticulously instructed in the procedure and her expected role in it. Any deviation would invariably earn her extra strokes. She was well trained in her part in her disgrace.

That training, of course, included the attire she was expected to wear for her weekly visits. With a sigh, Katharine slipped out of bed and padded across the room to her closet where the newly ironed smart skirt and blouse hung on clothes hangers from the door handle. The skirt was short, perhaps eight inches above the knee, and matched the jacket she would wear in pale blue. She eyed it critically for creases, not that Sir Edward would actually see her skirt of course. The only person who would was Denise Carlson, Sir Edward’s secretary, but she was authorised to inspect Katharine’s appearance before ushering her into Sir Edward’s office for the cane. She would, Katharine knew, be delighted to report to Sir Edward that Katharine’s attire fell short of the standards expected and earn her extra strokes. That would be especially true after last week’s debacle. It would be best not to give Denise any pretext to report non-compliance. Whether or not Sir Edward actually enjoyed Katharine’s weekly caning was perhaps still open to debate but  there was no doubt that Denise enjoyed them very much indeed.

Pulling a robe about her, Katharine made her way to the bathroom. She showered, washed her hair carefully and brushed her teeth. She examined her legs worriedly. She’d shaved them the night before but it was always best to be certain she had done a thorough job. Any unsightly hair on her legs Sir Edward would take to be evidence of undue care and attention to her physical appearance. It was a minor offence to be sure but, only three weeks ago, he had awarded her an extra five strokes for failing to shave her legs and he would doubtless double that if she was guilty of the infraction a second time. Disobeying a direct order once might be construed as carelessness, twice was wilful disobedience and the one thing Sir Edward demanded of her was her unquestioning obedience to his commands.

Returning to her room after her shower, Katharine seated herself at her dressing table to dry and brush out her long brown hair. Her hair, once mostly dry, she tied back in a pony tail and then applied her cosmetics. When simply attending studies at university, Jacqueline rarely wore make up. When attending on Sir Edward in London, however, that was not an option. Her make-up had to be carefully and tastefully applied; enhancing her pretty face without overdoing it to the point of looking like a painted tart. It was a new skill of hers since previously she had not been very expert in the use of cosmetics. Melanie was far more adept in this regard and she had tutored Katharine until she could achieve the desired result unaided. Katharine had devoted more care to her facial make up over the past few months than she ever had in her life before.

Her make-up had already been the cause of one problem. In the early days of her relationship with Sir Edward, Katharine had been prone to cry when being caned; bursting into tears from the pain. It had been ruinous on her make-up, causing her eyeliner and mascara to run in ugly streaks down her face. She had not been allowed to leave the office until she had repaired the damage to her face of course but it had not been a pretty sight. Having gained more fortitude and endurance through familiarity with the cane, she cried less often now but she used waterproof cosmetics to be on the safe side.

Once her hair and make-up were completed to her satisfaction, Katharine discarded her robe and began to dress herself. She pulled on matching knickers and bra in cream with pink floral bows as trimming. She grimaced at her underwear. Until her acquaintance with Sir Edward, she had tended to regard unclothing in entirely utilitarian terms; functional items of no decorative purpose whatsoever. Indeed, on most days, she still did. Six days of the week, she wore plain, unflattering underwear to which she attached the sole criteria of comfort. Six days of the week, nobody was going to see her underwear. On the seventh, however, it would be in full view.

Sir Edward had been scathingly critical of her underwear, the first time her had punished her. It was, he had declared, symptomatic of an underlying failing. Her lack of attention to her personal appearance was indicative of the negligence and idleness that had so marred her career until that point, he’d opined firmly. If she knew that she was to be disciplined and that her underwear be on display, it was incumbent upon her to ensure that she wore becoming undergarments. Her underwear should be feminine, of good quality and pretty but without being sluttish. Knickers should be attractive but modest. Sir Edward had a particular aversion to thongs. He required that she wear high quality lingerie in fine materials. When she had protested feebly that she did not possess such undergarments, he had augmented her allowance to budget for the purchase of suitable garments and told her that he expected to see them itemised in her expenditure account.

As a result of Sir Edward’s demands, Katharine reckoned that she had spent more on underwear in the past few months than she had in the previous few years. She still felt slightly uncomfortable about it. For some reason, she felt embarrassed about shopping for frivolously pretty underclothes. It all seemed a little “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” as if you were buying undies with the express intention of their being seen by somebody. Well of course they were being seen. Handing over her chosen items at the pay counter in the boutique had become an ordeal with her blushing furiously in embarrassment as the shop girl bagged her items, in the guilty knowledge that the next time those knickers would be on public view they would be being lowered to afford access to her bare bottom for the cane.

Nevertheless she dared not disobey Sir Edward in the selection of her lingerie. Once, when she had been in a rush, she had pulled on a rather worn pair of old knickers for her appointment. Sir Edward had admonished her sternly for the violation of the dress code and awarded her an extra fifteen strokes of the cane. Furthermore, he had confiscated her knickers and made her return home on the train in a short skirt without them as a penance, to teach her compliance with his instructions in future. She had never disobeyed him again in that respect.

Even her bra had to be attractive and match her knickers although, normally it would not be on view. Sir Edward insisted upon it, however, and was wont, on occasion, to command her to unbutton her blouse that he might inspect it. Likewise, hosiery was subject to his regulations. On the cooler days she was permitted stockings with garters or suspenders. Tights were strictly forbidden.    

In many ways, being obliged to wear attractively feminine underwear was an affront to Katharine’s waning feminist sensibilities. Of course, those sensibilities were already pretty much under siege. It was hard to feel any sense of female empowerment when you were, to all intents and purposes, the obedient vassal of a domineering male mentor. Katharine listened to her fellow female students espousing feminist causes in the Student’s Union bar and wondered what they would think of her if they were to know of her darkest secret. Had she sold out her feminist principles in the act of selling herself to Sir Edward?

It was the sort of troubling question she had asked herself many times since falling under Sir Edward’s patronage. Was it possible, she wondered, to be a submissive woman and yet still retain a belief in female equality? Wasn’t that ultimately a contradiction in terms? She had, after all, a master; a master whom she was contractually obliged to obey. How could that possibly be reconciled with feminist ideals of equality? She had, in effect, surrendered herself to Sir Edward’s control; subjugated her own free will. Yet she had made that decision of her free will in the first place. It was a servitude of choice; one into which she had entered with her eyes open and of mutual benefit to herself. Did that make a difference? Was it important that her servility was a choice rather than one imposed upon her?