Technically it's happening at the same time as the women becoming girls, but few men are being trapped the way women are. It was touched on in the story with: "No, you didn't, but it's mostly women who sign those thing." The librarian revealed. "Something about how it's easier to get a slip of girl to follow that contract than some man who's six foot two and 230 pounds of muscle to follow one. The info packets they give with those agreements points that out, and how since you can't get the cops to enforce them you might not want to bite off more than you can chew."
So some men are becoming boys, and there would be a day camp for the boys as well, but the only men who get to return to childhood are the ones who want to AND have someone who want them too. Without both of those things, the only way this effects men is if they go to a day camp... Or they get involved in spanking a returnee...
So why wasn't that side of things brought out more? Well this story was mostly told from Sharon's point of view, and she didn't know any former men who were forced to become boys.
Note: This is in this forum not because of hard punishments per se but because of the twisting mindset involved. Maybe I'm just erring on the side of caution, but why not err that way? If anyone wants to talk about why it's on this board, just reply and I'll expand on my feelings.
Sharon Williams took another sip of her drink and sighed. The old crew was together, but it was depressing. Last year they had gotten together for lunch and all of them had possessed rosy futures. They were all working, and most were making plans with someone. Then came the crash, and now there wasn't a steady paycheque between the eight of them. Besides Sharon, there was Joanne Drover, Jayne Drake, Nicole Stewart, Deborah Madison, April Scott, Margo Reinhart, and Lois Saxon - and of the group only Lois Saxon hadn't moved "back home" to help save cash.
Sharon found her reduced circumstances humiliating; a lawyer who had been downsized by an investment firm, she had gone from being on the fast track to partnership to living her childhood bedroom, just to save a bit of cash. She was sending her résumé out there, but no one was hiring. At least no one was hiring anyone in her price range.
'Still...' Sharon mused. 'It could be worse. Far worse.'
With the large numbers of people, especially young women, returning home, a movement had arisen to help these 'returnees' reshape their lives. Well, movement might be too strong of a word - it had been some crackpot idea, then Oprah did a show on it and endorsed the concept. That made it a movement, one embraced by housewives everywhere. Sharon could tell that five of her friends had been caught up in the movement; it was plain from the clothes they were wearing, their hairstyles, and makeup free faces.
Take Nicole for example: last year Nicole had been wearing a power suit, stiletto heels, diamond earrings, and a hairstyle that was cutting edge. This year? Sharon could hardly believe the woman sitting there was the same person. Nicole was wearing a modest blouse and schoolgirl style skirt, knee high socks, sneakers (and not even brand name ones - just generic running shoes!), her ears were empty, and she had her hair in pigtails. Pigtails! Pigtails on a woman in her 20s! Nicole looked almost like a teenager dressing young; if you didn't look at her face you'd think she was an early bloomer who still dressed like a child.
And Nicole wasn't the only one who had switched to this new style. Jayne, Deborah, Joanne, and April were all wearing variations on the teen theme. From a far, the table looked like three adults (Margo, Lois, and of course Sharon) were treating some young friends (or maybe aunts taking out their nieces) to lunch. Sharon couldn't see why anyone would dress like that, and neither did Margo who, unlike the tactful Sharon and Lois, demanded answers.
"It's called the 'returning child contract', but since Oprah did that show on it a lot of people are calling them 'returning childhood contracts'." Deborah explained. "The idea is that obviously you didn't learn enough in your teens to be able to manage your finances yourself."
"True." Lois nodded. "Why, when I was 16 I consciously decided I didn't want to learn how to ignore the global financial situation and keep my job no matter how badly the world economy tanked. How irresponsible of me, not to learn the secret of keeping my job when my company went belly up."
"Anyway." Deborah continued, blushing at the irony, "The idea is you return to a time when you didn't have to make decisions and start fresh. Then you learn how to make responsible decisions."
"Like not to invest when there are companies giving mortgages to people on welfare?" Margo asked. "Or how to keep your job when it's last in first out, and you were among the last bunch of hires? Great! Tell me oh wise one the secrets I've foolishly avoided learning."
"It's not decisions like that those one." April said, going a bit red at the sarcasm. "But other ones. One you can control. And once you have those tools then you can take back control of your own life."
"By giving up control you learn how to take control?" Sharon asked. "I'm sorry, I don't see it. And what does that have to do with how you're dressed?"
"It's like this." Jayne said, trying to explain. "You give up control and let someone else make the decisions, including what you wear, and that frees you to think."
"So someone dressed you that way?" Lois asked. "And five different someones just happened to agree that you should all be dressed that way?"
"The idea is once you look more like a child you're more likely to begin learning again." Nicole answered. "Oprah said it made perfect sense to her."
"If it was me I'd never leave the house looking like that." Margo commented. "Or if I did I'd do something that I actually learned to do as a teen - take other clothes with me and change in the washroom to what I want to wear."
"It's not that simple." Nicole said defensively.
"Besides, where would I get the other clothes?" Joanne asked bitterly.
"You mean you don't have your old wardrobe?" Sharon asked.
"No, it's locked in storage." Joanne stated.
"So buy some more clothes." Margo advised.
"With what? No job, no money." Joanne pouted.
"Well you must have gotten a severance package, and then there's unemployment benefits." Lois pointed out.
"My parents invested my severance package so I 'wouldn't waste it', and they make me sign over all my benefit cheques." Joanne explained. "And they give me an allowance that's less than I had when I really was a teenager. Anything more and I have to explain why I need it and plead for my own money."
"They take your cheque? That can't be legal." Margo commented. "Sharon, it that legal?"
"Oh it's legal." Joanne said bitterly. "Before I moved back home they made me sign a legally binding agreement. I get free room and board, and in exchange I live by their rules. But I should have read the agreement more closely before I signed it."
"So move out." Lois suggested. "I'm living on my own while I look for a new job."
"Move out with what?" Joanne asked. "I don't have access to my savings, and my benefits are legally signed over, so how I could make rent? Or get a security deposit? And since the money I can't touch is legally in my name I couldn't even qualify for welfare if I wanted it."
"Welfare?" Sharon asked in alarm. Joanne had always had such pride, almost arrogance. "You've seriously looked at welfare? Just over that wardrobe?"
"Oh it's more than that." Joanne said with a bitter laugh.
The other four who had returned to girlhood suddenly found other places to look. At the centrepiece, at a wall, at their food, anywhere except at the three friends who were still dressed as grown women should be. Sharon had never seen the inside of a courtroom, but she didn't have to be Perry Mason to know that all five of them were embarrassed about something. Embarrassed, and didn't want to talk about it which, given their new clothes and how they had explained that they were now on allowances, had to be something major. Some deep, dark secret. Sharon was debating whether or not to gently probe when Margo spoke up.
"There's no way you can just leave that hanging. Give." Margo demanded.
"Well, ever since Oprah did her thing, they've come out with a deluxe gift package for the contract." Joanne admitted. "It has barrettes and rings for pigtails, and your choice of strap or hairbrush."
Sharon could see why they would include a hairbrush with the other hair care items, but was wondering what was the strap could be for when Lois beat her to the punch.
"Oh my god. Oh my god. You don't mean..." Lois said.
Nicole sighed and confirmed that it wasn't only Joanne's parents who had gotten the deluxe package.
"There's something in the fine print that talks about enforcing discipline, and it give non-revocable permission for them to use corporal punishment on you." Nicole revealed. "It's supposed help you get back in touch with your childhood."
"But your parents never... I mean with all the times I spent at your house I would have known if they'd ever smacked your bottom." Sharon blurted out.
"Well, let's just say they're making up for lost time." Nicole said with a grimace.
"It's kind of officially optional." Deborah pointed out. "Only if you aren't careful it's kind of the default option."
"You mean..." Margo gasped.
"I mean that my mother, who wants me to call her mommy, sometimes takes down my little girl panties and spanks my bare bum." Joanne blurted out, going beet red. "There! I've said it. Are you happy?"
Three of the people sitting at the table were stunned by her news, but the other four clearly weren't. Seeing the expressions on her friends' faces told Sharon more than their words had.
"Well, um, Sharon, is that legal?" Margo demanded.
"Um, well, I'd have to see the contract and..."
"Oh, it's legal." Joanne assured them. "The first time it happened I saw a lawyer at some charity legal clinic. I had to wait for more than five hours, only to be told that it was legal because I'd signed the right kind of power of attorney. I'd need to get in front of a judge and prove that I had what it takes to live on my own to get it revoked, and that was when I looked at welfare. That, or have my parents agree that I can live on my own, and they won't do that if I don't have a job and I can't get a fucking job because no one is hiring!"
Joanne's voice had a bit of a hysterical twinge by the time she finished, and that turned the conversation to calming her down and assuring her that everything would be okay.
"Thanks." Joanne gulped, fighting off tears. "I mean I had to practically beg for my own money to come her today. What's left of my allowance would barely cover cab fare, so I had to plead for permission to go out to lunch to day and beg for some of my own money so I could afford to eat."
"That's the hard part." Nicole admitted. "Not having control of any money. But it's supposed to teach you financial discipline."
"No, the hard part is knowing that all the clothes they make you wear are being bought with your money." April countered. "Take this skirt set - my mom picked it out but my money paid for it."
"Wait, that's the hard part?" Lois demanded. "Not the hairbrush, the money?"
April blushed, but said: "Look, you can used to the fact that sometimes you'll have a problem sitting, but without money you have no real freedom."
"So how does it happen?" Margo demanded. "Who does it? Your mom or ..."
"Legally either of them can do it." Joanne answered. "But my dad doesn't even like being in the room when it happens. I could be wrong, but mostly it's moms handing it out."
The other four women in pigtails nodded at this, agreeing that it was mostly (or only) their moms who were taking them in hand.
"Oprah called it 'female empowerment as you regain your role as mother'." Deborah commented.
"So just how often does something like that happen?" Sharon demanded.
Five shy faces looked away. Finally, April said: "Only when I deserve it."
"You're lucky." Jayne commented. "I get a little refresher every night at bed time, just in case my mom missed anything."
"What?" Lois gasped. "Every night?"
"It's just her hand and it's usually only about ten or so, but yeah, every night. Unless I've done something major already, then it's skipped because my tail is already sore."
"You're lucky." Nicole pointed out. "If I'm scheduled for a maintenance whacking then nothing cancels it."
"Every Saturday night I get a reminder to stay on the straight and narrow." Nicole revealed. "It's Saturday, because I used to go out partying every Saturday night. Anyway, I get then even if I've already gotten it earlier. My mom says a girl's bottom can take more than one or two spankings a day, and she means it."
A brief trip around the table revealed that those were the only two who got (or would admit to getting) maintenance spankings, but the other three acknowledged that sometimes they had to submit to spankings.
"If that was happening I'd leave home." Sharon vowed.
"How? With no money?" Joanne asked.
"I'd go to a shelter. I'd live on the streets. Even if I had to be homeless I'd find a way to get out." Sharon vowed.
"Look, if this lunch is a big deal, financially, I'll just put the whole thing on my card." Lois offered. "It's nothing."
"I'll cover my share my share." Sharon said.
"Nonsense, I've got the whole thing."
"It's not nonsense." Sharon countered. "I'm living at home to avoid rent, and you're still paying it."
"I said I've got it." Lois insisted. "If my benefits were about to run out, then we could talk, but until then I'm not changing a thing about my lifestyle. So come on girls, if you were holding back because you were on a tight leash money wise then it's time to reorder."
The only reorders were a fresh round of drinks, but the other girls thanked Lois for her generosity.
As they tried to enjoy their annual lunch (while avoiding the painful topic of how most of their number had been reduced to childhood), Sharon pointedly ignored a distant table, one also occupied by eight women. She had wondered how those women had found their way here today, but after she heard that her had had to beg and plead for lunch money it was clear that those women had known where their daughters would be lunching. No, seeing the eight mothers there hadn't been a mere coincidence.
When she first saw and recognised them, Sharon had gone over to say hi, but had been quickly shooed away. At the time she thought it was good that the groups were both so large that they couldn't combine tables, and that they occupied opposite corners of the restaurant. Now she wasn't sure if she liked the fact that the eight mothers were talking without their daughters being able to overhear them.
"But how bad can having them here be?" Sharon wondered.
After the main course, when they lingering over Irish Coffees, Sharon learnt just how bad it could be. Nicole and Deborah had headed off to the bathroom, and for some reason Deborah returned alone. Sharon didn't think much of it, until a few minutes went by. She was getting ready to ask about it, when Nicole returned.
Sharon could barely believe her eyes. The woman, her friend for years, had a red face and was fighting off tears! And she was rubbing at the seat of her skirt. Swivelling her head, Sharon saw a group returning to the mother's table, just sitting down as Nicole limped back from the bathroom.
"What happened?" Margo demanded.
"As I coming out the stall, my mom was there and she wanted to talk about the number of drinks I had." Nicole said, brushing the forming tears out of her eyes. "She said I could have two drinks, and since she noticed that coffee made three she wanted to talk about it."
"What?" "In the bathroom?" "Why didn't we hear?"
"I guess the bathroom at this place is really discreet and practically soundproof." Nicole offered. Sharon found herself nodding; no one liked to eat to the sound of flushing toilets, and the better class of restaurant made sure that didn't happen. "So she sat on that little bench in there, lifted my skirt, took down my panties, and paddled me with her hairbrush. It was awful! But at least I've learned not to try to sneak drinks."
"I can't believe that happened!" Margo hissed. "Deborah, why didn't you say something?"
"What could I say?" Deborah asked. "I know that Nicole signed that agreement, so her mom has a right to do that, so I could do is go so she wouldn't have me watching it."
"So that contract gives them the right to spank you anywhere?" Lois demanded.
"Anywhere, anytime, for any reason." Joanne said darkly. "And they can loan that right, so they can call a babysitter and give that babysitter spanking privileges. I hate to admit this, but some chit of teenaged girl put me over her lap last week, and there was nothing I could do about it."
"Well, at least it was almost private." Lois commented.
"Are you crazy? Do you think my mom went to the bathroom alone?" Nicole asked. "Of course she didn't. Deborah might have left, but three people watched me get it."
"What? That's terrible! And they didn't try to stop her?" Lois said.
"Who were they?" Margo demanded.
"I used to call them by their first names, but now I call them Mrs. Reinhart, Mrs. Saxon, and Mrs. Williams." Nicole revealed.
With her quick check of the other table Sharon had half suspected those would be the names, but Margo and Lois were floored.
"Wait, you mean that my mom watched your mom spank you and she said nothing?" Margo asked in disbelief. "No way. No way in hell. Why, that time my aunt decided to spank my cousin at my house my mom flipped out and demanded my aunt stop. And he was nine and had almost burned down the garage playing with fireworks and he wasn't even going to get it on the bare bum! No, I can't see her just standing there watching something that."
"Well she did." Nicole noted.
"That's unreal. Seriously, I'm freaked." Lois declared. "The rest of you can call it quits anytime you want, but I'm going to get blasted. Seriously wasted. There's no way I can deal with this sober."
After what happened to Nicole it wasn't surprising that 'the girls' begged off, which left Sharon, Lois, and Margo making a night of it. After they left the restaurant they hit a bar, then another bar, and ended up at crashing the night at Lois' apartment. All the while they were drinking they were trying (and failing) to make sense of what had happened to their friends.
The next morning came slowly. In a way it was good that none of them had jobs, otherwise they would have needed to cash in a sick day to recover from the night before.
After showering at Lois' place, Sharon decided to do a bit of research before heading home. Her feet took her to the law society library, where she (and every other member of the bar) had research privileges (which reminded her that her bar dues were coming up soon and since she wasn't working she would have to pay them herself this year) and went to work. There wasn't much to read - there was a state law, similar laws in a couple of other states, but no real case law. No appeals court had actually ruled whether those returning child contracts were really enforceable or not.
As she worked, one of the assistant librarians came by while reshelfing books.
"Oh, are you researching that?" The woman said.
"Um, yes, I have a client who's thinking of signing one and wants to know if they are really binding." Sharon fibbed.
"A client?" The librarian chuckled. "You might want to stay out of the courtroom, or learn to play poker because you need a better poker face if you ever want to tell a judge your client is innocent. Well, you can tell your 'client' that you aren't the first young woman who's researched those contracts and so far none of them have found any loopholes. When someone signs one of those things she is declaring herself to be incompetent in certain ways, and the courts would need to know that she is competent before they would release her from the contract. It's something just this side from a conservatorship, and that's only because no court has to get involved which would be needed to make it legally a conservatorship."
"Her?" Sharon said, clinging to the fiction that she had a client. "I didn't say my client was female."
"No, you didn't, but it's mostly women who sign those thing." The librarian revealed. "Something about how it's easier to get a slip of girl to follow that contract than some man who's six foot two and 230 pounds of muscle to follow one. The info packets they give with those agreements points that out, and how since you can't get the cops to enforce them you might not want to bite off more than you can chew."
"So if they aren't enforceable, a girl could get her money back and..."
"No, it's only parts that the police won't enforce. The civil agreements about money are as binding as they come, but bit about discipline... You'll find what you're looking for in appendix G, section V, subsection viii. That's the bit that the cops won't enforce, and the bit that varies the most in those contracts."
Sharon had glanced at that section, wondering if it was enforceable, but had gone looking for case law instead. Now she flipped back to it.
"See those options there?" The librarian said. "You circle one of them from that part and one from that part, then initial there."
Scanning the contract, Sharon saw that basically you had a choice of frequency and instrument, and then another about privacy and something called 'time out time'.
"Time out time means corner time." The librarian informed her. "And it can mean standing in the corner with your bare bum facing the room. Sorry, I mean your client's bare bum facing the room."
"So if this is left blank then there's no binding agreement about that?" Sharon asked.
"You'd think so, and most girls would agree with you, but appendix L, section III, subsection i, specifies that if that is left blank at the time of signing then is acknowledged that the senior party, that is the parents, may fill it in any way at any time in the future. And subsection ii defines how it can be changed, and the junior party, that is the girl, doesn't have much say in it if certain benchmarks aren't met."
"So if it's agreed that only a symbolic smack can be given then after six weeks the agreement can be shifted up if the girl doesn't have a job. After that, it can be revisited every two weeks that she isn't working until the maximum clause is in affect. But of course most girls think that if that part isn't circled then it doesn't apply. Of course you can get a version of the contract that doesn't include the corporal punishment aspects, but even then the monetary bits are enforce."
"So if a girl doesn't read it carefully... and even if she does it can change on her..." Sharon mused aloud.
"Exactly." The librarian nodded. "Of course in most cases there's no need for sneakiness. There's a girl moving back home with no job and a pile of debt, and she's willing to sign anything. At least my daughter was."
"What?" Sharon asked in disbelief.
"All because it was on Oprah so it had to be a good thing. In fact it was even her idea. That's why I know so much about that agreement; I researched it myself when she moved back home." The librarian revealed.
"Oh." Sharon said, suddenly nervous.
"My advice? You, make that your client, should talk things over with her parents and work things out so there aren't any surprises for either sides. And if you decide to sign, well, my daughter's only a bit younger than you, but I think she's getting a lot out of the agreement. She's learning that you can't put your life on a credit card without paying it back with interest, and that's a breakthrough for her."
"Oh." Sharon said in a small voice. Part of her wanted to ask which, if any, of the items had been circled, but part of her didn't. Not after the 'only a bit younger' stuff.
"And if you, I mean your client, already has one signed, then the simple truth is the only way out is for her parents to release her from the contract. That, or be a good enough lawyer to crack the appellate court, and if she was that good then she wouldn't be thinking about moving back home, would she?"
"So the courts won't be ruling on this unless a really good lawyer gets herself caught in one, or someone pays for a good legal team..."
"Even then there are problems. The only people who have standing are the parents and the girl, and the girl cannot authorise someone to handle the action without parental approval, so only self represented people will get to court."
Sharon knew what that meant: The cornerstone of the American Legal System was that the better lawyer almost always wins. Which mean that if someone was representing herself in front of an appellate court she would be shit out of luck against a real attorney. Which also meant that Sharon couldn't do what she had been mentally toying with - get Joanne out of that agreement. The other girls ("When did I stop thinking of them as woman?" Sharon wondered) seemed to accept the agreement, but Joanne was bitter about it.
And trapped. After reviewing the contract the only way Sharon could see helping was to get Joanne a job (when she couldn't find one for herself) and even then that wouldn't automatically end the contract. If Joanne's parents wanted to they could insist she turnover her paycheque for at least six months to 'ensure that she had the self-discipline" to handle living on her own again.
When she finally got home, Sharon wasn't surprised that her mother wanted to know where she had been.
"I told you I might be spending the night at Lois', remember? That if I had a few to drink it would be easier stay at her place then cabbing it back here."
"Oh, you did. I had forgotten." Margaret acknowledged. "Anyway, I had an interesting talk yesterday. After talking to Joannie's, Jaynie's, Nikki's, Debbie's, and April's mothers there's something I'd like to talk to you about."
Sharon wondered when her friends had changed their names. She had never heard her mother referring to them with diminutive nicknames before, but now all 'the girls' had little girl names.
"Really?" Sharon prompted.
"Yes, their mothers had such interesting things to say. All about how to reintegrate an adult child back in to the home life when one moves back." Margaret continued. "And some of what they said made sense."
"Mom, we both know that this is just temporarily." Sharon said patiently. "And that it's just so I can stretch my savings until I get a new job. If you want I can start paying rent, or get a place of my own, but I'm not entering into any agreements like Nicole did."
"But Nikki seemed to support it." Margaret countered. "She didn't seem to mind..."
"Being stripped half naked and spanked in woman's washroom? Of course she minded. She just couldn't say anything without losing her allowance."
"And that's another thing. Your savings would last so much longer if..."
"If I wasn't spending them? Of course they would. But I need to spend money to get a job. I need to be wearing professional clothes if there's a chance for an interview, and that means I need to spend money on dry cleaning. I need professional looking résumés, so I have to have them done professionally instead of on a home printer. And I need to research any firms that might be hiring so if I meet someone from one I can sound like I know what they do and can start immediately, so I have pay to have access to Westlaw. And my bar fees are coming due soon, so I'll to pay them or I won't be able to practice law, which means no job for me. So I don't have a choice - I have to spend some money while I look for work." Sharon explained.
"Oh. Um, well, Debbie's mother budgets for her, and..."
"And I can do my own budget mom." Sharon said firmly. "And I'm not signing any 'returning child contract', because what kind of lawyer would get herself trapped into one of those? I'll tell you what kind, the kind that will never do any legal work again. Mom, signing one of those would end my career and make my law degree useless."
"Oh." Margaret said, her argument deflated. "Well, if you change your mind, I'm sure something could be worked out. Professional attire for when you're outside the house, that kind of thing."
Sharon had thought that was the end of the discussion, but a few days later she began to find things. Brochures, pamphlets, even DVDs, scattered around the house. All of them proclaiming the joys of signing a 'returning child contract'. Sharon paged through them, but other than useless platitudes and an Oprah endorsement they didn't say much. They were all about 'a return to a more relaxing time', 'avoiding the stress of making decisions', and testimonials that talked about how wonderful it was not to have decide anything. Sharon didn't bother watching the DVDs - she didn't need a brochure parroted to her by some actress.
One day, soon after the brochures appeared, Sharon stumbled over something. She had done the family's laundry and was putting her parents' clothes away when she found a stash of material for the 'returning child contract', material that she hadn't seen before. The cover of the first one she saw had a mature woman holding a woman in her mid twenties over her lap for a spanking, which told Sharon that she had only been getting half the picture. While the literature directed at the returnee has been left laying around, the stuff directed to the parents had been carefully hidden.
Sharon knew her mother was out for the afternoon, so she had hours to look through the stash. She wasn't surprised to find that every single one of them talked about the joys of obedient children, about how the returnee might resist at first, but secretly craved discipline and external control. About how the unconditional love of a child was better than the judgmental viewpoint of a young adult.
After examining the reading material, Sharon saw they were focusing not on whether or not to include corporal punishment (most took at as a given that it was involved), but on the age you wanted your daughter to assume. If what she read was true then the late teens was the oldest you should treat her, and guidelines went all the way down to giving her only the freedom of a preteen to treating them like a toddler.
From the DVDs, Sharon was left with no doubts that the majority of returnees would be subject to corporal punishment. The first one she played opened with a young woman laying meekly over an older woman's lap getting her bare bum smacked with a hairbrush while the voice over said:
"For the past several years one crucial element of discipline lacking from the vast majority of teenage girls' lives has been physical discipline. Many have even suffered by not benefiting from it as preteens. Well, we're here to tell you that it is never too late to help your daughter get the disciple she needs to rebuild her life."
"Yeah, right." Sharon snorted.
She could barely remember getting spanked as a child, so assumed that she was one of the 'vast majority' but not one of the 'many'. Not that the past meant anything; she remembered hearing how Deborah's mom had spanked the girl in grade 7, and while playing True or Dare in grade 11learned that had been the second to the last spanking Deborah had gotten. And that the last was only a few months after that one. So Mrs. Madison had gone from 'a teen is too old to spank' to the 'my returning daughter needs to be spanked' club.
Going through the DVDs was an eye opener. Rather than the platitudes in the returnee's information packages, these DVDs were packed full of solid, psychological advice on how to mold a daughter to meet the expectations of her newly designated age. Corporal punishment should be introduced gradually, but once the returnee accepted that you had the right to use it then it should be used to shape the returnee's will. The DVDs also had practical advice for how to administer CP, with various young women meekly submitting to it various forms and positions to resisting young women being forced to maintain position as they were 'disciplined'.
From one DVD Sharon caught a glimpse of Jayne's future. From the merge allowance to the nighttime 'behave yourself pats' it looked like Joanne's mother was shooting for the 7 - 8 age range for her. That soon Jayne's schoolgirl skirts would be replaced with jumpers and other things that a little girl would wear. As for the youngest age, Sharon could only hope that none of her friends were subjected to that.
Watching a woman in her mid twenties being given an enema ("Because at that age they shouldn't have potty control"), bathed, then diapered gave Sharon the creeps. No woman should ever be given a pacifier and left in an oversize crib for naptime, but that's what she saw on one DVD.
Sharon returned everything to where it had been concealed, and was back in her own room long before her mother got home.
In the privacy of her own room she finally watched the DVDs she had been given. As she suspected, they were full of glowing testimonials of how "this changed my life for the better" and other such garbage. Woman after woman talked about how much easier it was with someone else making the decisions for them. Each and every DVD touched on corporal punishment, from reassurances that it was rarely used to other women say that they had resisted the idea at first, but come around and now urged others to at least try it before rejecting it outright. Only one actually showed any corporal punishment, and that was only six mild smacks over a skirt. The woman thanked her mother for it, then they talked and they both agreed that next time it would be more, with the young woman "admitting" that firmer control would help her modify her poor behaviour.
After viewing both sets of DVDs, Sharon vowed to drop her target salary by a quarter and see what else was out there.
Not long after Sharon revised her job search, she had another lunch date. This time there was only the three of them there, just the 'women' and not 'the girls'. Margo seemed distracted throughout lunch, but didn't say much until dessert.
"Um, there was a reason I asked you both to lunch." Margo said as she pushed her dessert around her plate. "And it's a crazy one. The thing is, my mom suggested that I sign one of those returning child contracts."
"Don't." Sharon said quickly.
"Don't even think about it." Lois chimed in. "Remember how bitter Joanne was?"
"Well it's just for finances, and so I can be covered under the homeowner insurance." Margo said.
"Does it have the discipline part or doesn't it?" Sharon asked.
"Um, it does, but we would leave that part blank." Margo answered.
"That doesn't matter." Sharon proclaimed, and proceeded to explain what she had learnt about the contracts.
"Wait, you mean if it's left blank then my folks can fill in anything they want?" Margo asked.
"Yes, and they can change it as often as every two weeks, bumping it up." Sharon told her. "Just as long as you aren't working."
"But they wouldn't." Margo insisted. "They probably don't even know about that part. They aren't lawyers or anything."
Sharon thought back to how prominently the facts about the disciplinary clause had been in every brochure, pamphlet, and DVD, and explained about how that information was printed in bold and underlined in the adults' parts of the package.
"But even... Look, I kind of owe a bit of money, and my health insurance is running out, so maybe..."
"Have a long talk with Joanne first." Sharon advised. ". And you might want to talk to Jayne if you can get a play date with her. I'm not sure if her mom is letting her out much. I could be wrong, but I think her mom wants Jayne acting like an eight year old, not a teenager."
"That's preposterous." Margo replied.
"So check it out. Make sure you have the information to make a real decision. Don't let anyone force something on you." Sharon said.
"That sounds familiar." Margo commented.
"It should. It's basically what you told me when I was going to drop out of law school to marry that idiot Ralph. That's when I found about how he had one girl at college and a home town squeeze on the side, and that the home town squeeze was the mother of two of his four children." Sharon said. "It was good advice then and it's good advice now."
"I guess." Margo admitted. "I mean, it's my own advice coming back to me, so I should listen to it."
"And you'd be crazy to sign anything that let your mom spank you." Lois added.
A week later, Margo and Sharon met for coffee.
"You were so right." Margo said over coffee. "Joanne hates it and there's nothing she can do. Jayne was there - and their moms called it a play date! And you were right about that; her clothing is getting younger! If she was a teenager for that lunch Jayne's a tween now. And what's worse..."
Margo's voice dropped as she continued.
"What's worse is that they said that it hasn't just been their moms spanking them." Margo revealed.
"Yes, Joanne mentioned the sitter who..."
"No, not just sitters. Other mothers." Margo confided. "Our mothers. Joanne and Jayne both say that there's talk about our moms learning how to do it for when we sign our contracts. Jayne says that your mother has even put her to bed a few times. Changed her, spanked her, tucked her in, the whole bit."
"But my mother hasn't been out late so..."
"Jayne has an early bedtime, and why would she lie?" Margo asked. "And while I was there, both Joanne and Jayne's mothers gave me hugs that included love taps. Eileen, Joanne's mother, always used to do that, but Jayne's mother never did, and they were a bit harder than most love taps, you know?"
"So what are you going to do?" Sharon asked.
"I don't know." Margo admitted. "But I'll declare bankruptcy and go on welfare before I sign one of those deals. And to think that I almost did! Thanks for talking me down - you're a real friend."
"Do you want help with the bankruptcy?" Sharon offered. "I've got some time on my hands and I know the forms."
"No, that's plan B." Margo said. "Maybe plan C. For starters I'm going to make it look like I might be giving in. You know, let them handle my finances, not that there's much there. Most of my benefit cheque goes to pay the interest on my credit cards, so what's the harm? I might even agree to a bit of CP, but only on the condition that there's no form filled out. And I'm going to be hunting for a job like crazy!"
After that coffee, Sharon thought about what Margo had said how her mother was putting Jayne to bed, and mentally dropped her target range from three quarters of what she had been making to two thirds of her old salary. That, and adjust her sights: who needed to make partner anyway?
A few weeks later, Margaret decided to have another serious talk with her daughter.
"Have you thought about things? Because there might be a third way. Maybe we could manage your finances without a formal agreement, just for a while. As for the other things, we can talk about that later."
Sharon wasn't happy hearing Margo's plan being echoed back to her. Unlike Margo, Sharon still had some savings, and (living at home) her benefits were more than meeting her expenses. What was a meaningless gesture for Margo would be a major adjustment to Sharon's lifestyle. Luckily she had a good reason to avoid the conversation.
"Sorry, but I'm got a job interview in two hours, and I want to get there early." Sharon said with a smile. "Wish me luck!"
The job wasn't the best, nor did it lead to partnership, and it was near the low end of her pay scale, but if nothing else it would give her experience and pad her résumé. Sharon wasn't sure if it would be worth working at it for more than five years, but five years down the road the economy might pick up. Besides, while waiting she saw a woman in her mid twenties wearing pigtails being led by the hand by an older woman. The pair entered a public washroom, and the sound carried enough that Sharon knew what was happening to the young woman. Sharon couldn't recall the last time she had seen a child spanked in public, and here was a grown woman being spanked in a public washroom!
So Sharon expressed her interest in the job and crossed her fingers that she would get it.
Two weeks later Sharon was the newest anonymous face at a large law firm. Someone not on the partnership track, but it was paid job and someone had to do the grunt work that was above the level of the paralegals. For the next little while she was meeting new faces and learning new names, and discovering which bosses like things done which way.
One of her bosses (well, not someone she reported directly to, but someone whose cases worked on), was an older man named Ed Pendleton. Once a rising star, he had been passed over for partnership twice and Sharon could see her future in his present. He was regarded as workhorse around the office, but not someone with a bright future.
They began working late nights together, and then he did something that surprised her. No, he didn't grab at her ass, but he did call things to a halt several hours before Sharon expected him to.
"Well, maybe that's not it for the night, but I kind of need you out of my office for a while." Ed explained. "Maybe you could grab supper and be back here later? Finding the exception to the lean on this client's property is important, but something else has come up so..."
"Hey, no problem Mr. Pendleton. An early supper and a later night; gotcha." Sharon told him as she gathered files.
"Wait." Ed said. Then he sighed. "Okay, I know how the office grapevine works, and I'm just looking for the most harmless thing to say. No, I'm not meeting a client off the book. No, I'm not meeting a woman for some office sex. No, I'm not meeting a man either; not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'm not into that."
Sharon nodded. She hadn't suspected that he might be committing the cardinal crime of meeting with a client without billing for it. As for adultery, who was she to judge? She had an active sex life and had never worn a ring on her finger.
"Well, it's like this." Ed finally said. "My niece decided to take some away time from college, along about the time her GPA hit 1.02, and moved back home. Her parents had her sign some stupid agreement, something called a returning child contract. Anyway, they're out of town tonight and asked me to... well..."
"Oh, that." Sharon said quickly, trying to save them both embarrassment. "I know someone who was thinking about signing something like that after being laid off, but luckily she asked my legal opinion about it and I had the time to research it enough to tell her not to sign it. There's a lot of tricky legal stuff buried in that thing; sign it and you'll basically declaring yourself incompetent, just one step above where the public guardian system kicks in."
"Exactly. I don't know why my niece signed it, but apparently it was on some daytime talk show and she thought it was fashionable. Anyway, I've been asked to, well, and I don't really have time to leave. I don't have time to get to my home, or to her parents' home, and somehow the idea of going to a hotel seems sordid, and the walls of these offices are more or less soundproof, to keep client confidentiality. So I thought, but then I forgot we working late together, so..."
"So I'll head to supper and we'll work a bit later than normal." Sharon assured him. "It's no problem."
"Thanks for being so understanding Ms. Williams." Ed said, relaxing. "And since she should be here at almost anytime, actually she's a bit late, but if you need help gathering those files..."
"No, I have them."
As she was leaving, Sharon passed someone heading towards Mr. Pendleton's office. Without the heads up on the girl's age Sharon would have pegged her as being in her mid teens, but knowing she was a former college student Sharon put the girl somewhere around twenty.
For the first time since she started her job, Sharon took the time to eat slowly and enjoy her meal. Then she was back at Mr. Pendleton's office. Glancing around there was no sign that the niece had been there, so they went back to work as if nothing had happened.
Time away from the office was a premium for new hires, but finally Sharon got an evening off and a few hours to herself. At least she thought she had that time to herself; when she got home she learned that her mother expected her to spend some time at "Joannie" Drover's place, as if Sharon's mother had ever called Joanne "Joannie" when the girl was young. But she was tired, and didn't want another fight (not until she passed her probationary period), and decided that an evening with poor Joanne might be nice, so agreed.
When Sharon arrived, she found she wasn't the only one there. Margo and April were there as well, as were Joanne's and April's mothers. Sharon found herself looking a bit out of place, what with Joanne and April in pigtails and skirts, and even Margo wearing a pleated skirt, Sharon's corporate clothing made her stand out.
When she arrived both mothers hugged her hello, and Sharon discovered that Eileen Drover's love taps were indeed a bit harder than she had remembered them.
Once alone with her friends, Sharon asked: "So, what's the plan?"
"First we wait until mom leaves, she's going over to Jayne's, then we relax." Joanne answered. "So, you found a job?"
"Yes. I had to adjust my expectations, but I'm working at one of the downtown firms." Sharon revealed.
"You shouldn't have done that." Margo noted. "Mom says that once you price yourself down it's hard to climb the ladder again."
"But it's work, and it's income." Sharon said dryly. "And right now I need that."
"Well, I'm holding out for something like I had before." Margo said.
"Wait, you mean you'd really turn down a job?" Sharon asked.
"Well, you see, the thing is..."
"Bye girls. Oh, and this is Lisa Roberts and while we're gone she's in charge of Joannie." Eileen Drover said from the doorway.
Sharon turned to find a teenaged girl smiling at them.
"And April too?" Lisa asked.
"Well of course."
"How about..." Lisa started.
"How about Lisa?" Sharon asked.
Her question froze the room. Finally Eileen Drover asked: "What?"
"Well you're treating Joanne like she was an irresponsible teenager, right?" Sharon asked.
"Well, that's only because she agreed to a..."
"So if Joanne is being treated like a teenaged girl then teenaged girls sometimes need watchers. And it's clear that you believe that teenaged bottoms can benefit from a bit of discipline when and if needed. Well, Lisa here is an actual teenaged girl, so shouldn't someone be in charge of her?" Sharon reasoned.
She could almost hear the gears grinding in Eileen Drover's head.
'You don't need a law degree to construct logical arguments, but it helps.' Sharon thought to herself. Aloud she said: "Now since I am a professional woman in my twenties, gainfully employed and all, if you wanted I could watch Lisa while she watches Joanne and Nicole."
"That's good of you to offer, but..." Eileen Drover began.
"Mrs. Drover, you can't!" Lisa insisted, earning herself a glare from Joanne's mother.
"I'm not in the habit of being interrupted." Eileen Drover said sharply. "I was about to turn down that offer, but now I think I'll accept it. Yes, Sharon, you can be in charge of Lisa, but Lisa's the one in charge of Joanne."
"But Mrs. Drover, how can you..."
"Lisa, you know where I keep my hairbrush. Should I send you for it before I leave? Do you want me to do that? And Sharon is technically correct; the laws that apply to returnees refer to treating them as someone as this age range or that age range, so they obviously apply to real teenaged girls as well as returnees."
Lisa swallowed hard, and Sharon had to force herself not to laugh. While Sharon's poker face wasn't the best Lisa was showing her naked emotions on her face. The girl looked hurt, betrayed, like a minnow who's just realised that she is swimming with the sharks and it was dinner time.
"So now that that's settled I have to be going or we'll be late." Eileen Drover said.
Once the older women had left the house, the younger ones exchanged glances.
"That was so excellence." Margo said with a smile.
"Um, who's in charge of you?" Lisa asked nervously.
"No one." Margo declared. "I'm a mature young woman who hasn't signed any contracts."
"Oh." Lisa said, clearly deflated by this turn of events.
"But I can tell you one thing." Margo said, fighting back a smile. "Now that Eileen, that's Mrs. Drover to you, now that Eileen thinks of your butt as spankable you had better be on your best behaviour or she'll do it."
"Yes, mom is great at taking girls in hand." Joanne confirmed. "Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but if you act up while she's in charge you'll get to know what the hairbrush feels like."
"Oh." Lisa said in a small voice.
"Then again, maybe you'll learn tonight?" Sharon suggested. "So why don't you be a dear and leave us alone for a while? Thanks."
Lisa hesitated, then dashed from the room.
"Oh thank god." Joanne exhaled. "I know she was going to spank me just to prove she could."
"Spank you?" April asked. "Why? She's done that before. No, she would have spanked me to show she was in charge of the guest."
"And did you see how she was asking about me?" Margo interjected.
"Why?" Sharon asked. "You didn't sign a deal, did you?"
"Christ no!" Margo answered. "But, well, to keep mom from pressing me to sign I kind of agreed that maybe my tail needs slapping now and again. But not often, and not hard like Lisa dishes it out."
"Now we talk without the spy." Joanne said, sighing with relief. "So, have you heard of any openings?"
"Yeah, any at all?" Margo asked. "That BS about wanting my old job back was just for listening ears. I'll take anything that gets me out of the house."
"Same here." April added.
"Sorry, I've been too busy working late, paying my dues and all." Sharon answered. "I've barely been out of the office since I was hired."
Three sets of eyes accepted the disappointing news, and moved on.
"So you haven't noticed how the movement thing is spreading?" Margo asked.
"Yeah, Oprah's had another couple of shows on it." Joanne informed her. "Always with women there as success stories as people who turned their lives around, or idiots who like being kept at home. And always dancing around the corporal punishment factor."
"Those girls who turned their lives around always just shrug and say it wasn't anything they couldn't live with, and it built character and shit." April said. "And the others just say they only get what they need. Always skipping over what it's really like."
"Except that last one, when they went to break with that woman crawling over her mother's lap, and the spanking happening for the entire commercial." Margo pointed out. "When the show came back the camera stayed tight with Oprah as the woman was led into a corner, then they only shot her from above the waist as she said she was less embarrassed about getting spanked bare in front of the audience than the fact that she misbehaved in front of the audience and needed to be spanked. What? I'm not working so I watch a bit of TV."
"You should be pounding the pavement and heading for the long shot companies on the off chance they're hiring." Sharon said. "That's how I managed to get an interview for my job - I hand delivered the résumé."
"And that worked?" Margo asked.
"Well, it was one of dozen of places I hand delivered to, but it got my foot in the door and I got the job." Sharon revealed.
"Yeah, like I can do that." Joanne moaned. "Mom says she'll let me have some of my old clothing if I get a serious interview, but how can I drop off a résumé dressed like this? And my mom might insist on coming with me, and with my luck she'd find a reason to give me a public spanking."
"I can't believe that public spankings are still rare for kids, but common for women our age." Nicole commiserated.
"So, on to bigger fishes." Sharon said. "Do I do something to the teen queen?"
"Why bother?" Joanne asked. "You've already done enough. Seriously, my mom is going to spanking her someday. Unless she avoids this house entirely, but then she'd be out of my life so that's a win too."
"Yeah, why prep her for her appointment with Mrs. Drover's brush?" April asked.
Sharon thought she heard something unsaid in their voices, that if Sharon spanked Lisa then Lisa would find an excuse to spank the two 'girls', but why would that matter? Hadn't they just got finished saying that Lisa was going to spank them no matter what? Why wouldn't they want to see the girl get a taste of her own medicine?
But they lived here in La La Land while Sharon was just visiting, so she let them make the call. To her surprise, when Sharon left the house not a seat had been smacked.
As time passed, Sharon wasn't sure if the returnee movement was spreading but she seemed to be encountering it more. Maybe it was just her hectic schedule, but when she was dashing to work there seemed to be more women dressed as girls along her route. And public spankings did seem to be happening, but mostly over skirts. She had yet to see a woman's bare bum outside of a bathroom, but she saw several of the 'girl women' with their skirts up.
At least she didn't see any bare bums until she showed up early at Mr. Pendleton office one night and spotted a teenaged girl with her skirt off, her panties at her ankles, and her bare bum glowing in the corner of Mr. Pendleton's office. The girl's body tensed when Sharon entered, but Ed didn't bat an eyelash.
"Ah, well, if what my niece has been complaining about is true, this isn't the first time someone's walked in while she's doing corner time. Now, about that file."
At first it was weird, working with a sobbing girl in the office, but soon Sharon was blocking it out. You didn't get ahead in a law firm letting little things distract you, and the niece wasn't any of Sharon's business. She barely looked up when the girl dressed and left.
Then finally she hit a milestone. Sharon forced herself to appear calm while she awaited the news, but inside she was in turmoil. Her probation was ending, and soon she would know if she was staying on or looking for a new job.
Waiting for that interoffice memo was one of the hardest thing she had ever done. All Sharon could think of was the money she'd been saving from her salary, and how that would let her stretch her savings that much further. She had enough, more than enough, to move out, and vowed that she would do if she lost this job and her mother started insisting on a returnee construct.
When the memo finally came, Sharon devoured it. The news, the wonderful news, was the first thing she saw, but she wanted to know more. Only a fool burned her bridges, and a wise lawyer noted who gave good reviews and who slammed her. Going through the footnotes, she saw that she had been rated highly trustworthy by Mr. Pendleton, which got Sharon thinking: Had he really been forced to spank his niece or that that been some sort of test?
A week later Sharon walked passed the blushing girl as left her uncle's office with a tear streaked face, and Sharon decided that it hadn't been a test. No, it had just been another sign that the return to childhood movement was growing.
With her probationary period over, Sharon could afford to relax slightly. She couldn't afford to slack off, but she could afford to work a few less hours and take stock of the world. For example, to read the paper and catch up on the news.
"Who knew that Oprah was really that influential?" Sharon wondered.
All it had taken was for Oprah to have a few shows on something, and suddenly sanity seemed to be going out the window. Why would a normally sane woman sign something like that? And why would sane parents even suggest their daughter sign something like that, much less enforce it? But somehow these agreements were being signed, and (if the newspapers could be believed) parents were actually spanking their adult daughters more than their minor children. Adults getting more spankings than children? How weird was that!
A few days later a rumour swept the office, spreading until it found the tiny cubical that Sharon called home. The first time she heard it she couldn't believe it, but then she heard it again and again, and when she left the office late that evening she checked the news station and stood slack jawed as the top news story confirmed the rumour.
The daughter of the Secretary of State was entering a pause in her life, and had decided to return to live at home. It didn't really matter to Sharon where that child of privilege lived, but the news station confirmed that the woman was signing a returning child contract, and that the Secretary of State had announced that disciplinary clause had already been put to good use.
Sharon was stunned. The Secretary of State had once said that she could count on one hand the number of times she had spanked her daughter, and now this!
"Some say it's just latching onto a popular trend in case she wants to launch another bid for the White House. Jim, what are your views on that?"
Sharon turned off the news, a wave of depression hitting her. Oprah backing something was one thing, but if the politicians were jumping on the bandwagon then who knew how far things could go?
Sharon for one wasn't going to find out. The next morning she told her mother the goods news - that would be moving out soon.
"Are you sure that's wise?" Margaret asked. "You've had one bad experience, and now..."
"Now I'm finished my probationary period I can afford to live on my own again." Sharon pointed out. "And I've got plenty of savings."
"Why don't you stay here until you can afford a place of your own. I mean a real place, not a small apartment? Why waste the money renting when you live at home and save?"
"Well, maybe. I'll have to think about it." Sharon said.
She noticed her mother smiling, as if Margaret had won some kind of battle, and decided not to think too long on it.
While she had avoided the returnee contract, Sharon was still fascinated over why anyone would sign it. In her free time she did a bit of research, and was appalled by what she found. A study had come out saying that the returning child contract caused institutionalism and infantized some women. Institutionalism, also called learned helplessness, was most commonly found in people who had been imprisoned for long periods and could no longer make decisions on their own, while being infantized was basically the same thing; it reduced a person's ability to plan and live their lives. The basic principle, if mommy always cuts your food then why would you ever need to learn how to cut your own food, could result in people unlearning how to live on their own.
And this was happening to some of Sharon friends!
After learning that, Sharon found the time to make time to visit her old friends. She quickly discovered that while some, like Joanne, was still fighting the system while others, like Nicole, seemed to have surrendered. Nicole was no longer even making token protests over her treatment, and tried to convince Sharon that she was only spanked when she deserved it. As if a grown woman could ever deserve a spanking!
Then came a piece of good news; Margo was able to find a job! Her mother, like Sharon's mother, convinced her to stay at home for the next little while, but with her job Margo was taking back control of her finances and was saving up to move out. She stilled allowed her mother to spank her occasionally, but now Margo wouldn't have to sign a contract.
Sharon hated to use a personal day. In theory she had them, but in practice lawyers at her level rarely took them. But she had done her research, and there was no way she could do this without having a day off.
Of course they asked her why she was taking a day off. Luckily, she had good reason, one that any lawyer would accept as valid.
Sharon stood outside the courthouse, waiting for the action to begin. As she stood tried to avoid looking at a few woman who were dressed like girls.
Then the auction started.
Sharon tried not to think about the stories behind the houses being auctioned off. She knew that each one was involved a heartbreak, but she hadn't been the one who gave them the wrong mortgages or foreclosed on the houses or keep building as demand faltered, and someone was going to buy these houses, so why not her?
With the money she had saved on rent, and what was left of her severance pay, she didn't need a mortgage. Which was good, because she probably wouldn't have qualified for one with the credit market as tight as it now was. She waited for one of the houses she had researched to come up, and bid for it. It passed beyond her price range, so she waited another one to come up. Then another one. But finally one stayed within her price range, and with the bang of a hammer Sharon became a homeowner.
Her mother was, to say the least, unimpressed.
"How could you buy a house?" Margaret demanded. "How could you do it with even consulting me?"
"It was simple; I went the auction with the money I had earned, and spent it on a house." Sharon explained.
"But how could you afford a house? Any house?" Margaret asked.
"It's one located in a dead zone." Sharon explained.
"A dead zone. It's a neighbourhood where there are more foreclosed houses than owned houses. In this case almost all the entire neighbourhood is full of empty houses. The developer went bankrupt when no one could get mortgages to buy the houses he built, so it's basically a house without neighbours."
"What? How could you? What kind of resale value will it have?"
"None, for the next few years, but if I live there for five years then I should be able to sell it for more than I paid for it, and that would be enough for a down payment somewhere nicer."
"But it's a done deal. I have to wait 30 days, in case the defaulter posts the money for the mortgage, but that's a formality. This developer lost over a hundred of houses so what are the odds he'd want to buy back this house?"
"But... But... Oh! If you had signed one of those agreements you'd be over my knee so fast!"
"That's why I didn't sign one." Sharon retorted. "That, and I'm moving out soon."
"Well you had just better." Margaret thundered.
The next thirty days just dragged on. Sharon tried to ignore the ill will coming her way at home and threw herself into work. The times she wasn't working, she just avoided home. Alas, with most of her funds tied up in the house, she was reduced to doing free things to pass the time.
She was at the library, looking up new developments on the returning child contracts, when she came across an odd thing. Sharon had to read the flyer several times to be sure she was she was reading it correctly.
'That had to be a trick. Some kind of prank.' Sharon thought as she stared at the flyer.
She knew it just couldn't be true. No one could run something like that, could they? But there it was, printed in ink on the paper, advertising a returnee camp. If what the flyer said could be believed it was day camp where women could "SAMPLE the life of A RETURNEE before you COMMIT".
At first Sharon couldn't believe anyone would want to do that, but as she thought about it her interest grew. She wouldn't be taking Margo's radical step of agreeing to a limit form of domestic discipline, but maybe, just maybe, it would help her understand while Nicole accepted everything that her mother did to her.
Then, in a case of serendipity, a major case was delayed, and she could actually take a full Saturday off. A full day off, when her parents thought she would be at work.
Sharon was nervous as she approached the 'camp', but then she saw something that put her at ease; forms. Legal looking forms. Forms that she could analyse. Forms that either said one thing or another, with no grey areas. Forms were something that her legal mind could handle.
Almost immediately she spotted one flaw. If it was filled out wrong, it practically mandated the woman to sign a returning child contract. Sharon was about point this out to everyone else in line when a woman staffer came by and pointed out there were two forms, one merely to sample things, and the other to ease into her new life.
Examining the second form, Sharon found it was very straightforward and limited the agreement to a fixed duration.
Then she was at the head of the line, and then being interviewed in a cubical.
"So, what can we do for you today?" Asked the woman whose nametag read Victoria Gibson.
"Well, I have a few friends who returned home, and some of them seem to like it, and ..."
"And you were wondering why?" Victoria Gibson laughed. "Well, you can't find out, not with just a visit, but we can give you a taste. If I can see your form? Ah, another lawyer. We get all sorts of them. Something to do with being totally in charge most of the time and looking for a little time where they don't have to make decisions. Well, if you'll just go through there you'll find a changing room. Go there and wait, and someone will be by with your new clothes."
"And if I decide not to wear them?" Sharon asked.
"Ah, one of those." Victoria Gibson noted. "Well, I'll see about guiding you through today personally. Of course by law there's no reason why you can't just leave now, but we've already processed your fee, so unless you want that money to go to waste..."
Sharon nodded, and headed for the changing room.
She found the changing room to be a shoddy affair. There was a chair, a table with a basket on it, and a sign that said to remove her clothing and put it into the basket. No lockers, not even a lock on the door, just the chair, table, and basket.
"But it's what I'm paying for, so..." Sharon muttered as she remover her jacket.
Before she was down her bra and panties there was a knock at the door, which opened after barely a pause to admit Victoria Gibson.
"Hello there. Coming along I see. Well, here are your clothes. You'll notice that includes everything you need to wear - socks, shoes, underwear, the whole lot. Please change into them."
"And my real clothes?" Sharon asked.
"Oh, they will be collected and stored for you. If you hurry I'll take them with me when I leave." Victoria Gibson told her.
Sharon had changed in front of countless women at gyms, but this felt somehow different. But not different enough to prevent her from changing. She turned her back when she removed her underwear, and Victoria Gibson handed her the pair she was supposed to wear.
"I haven't worn anything like this in years." Sharon noted as she slipped them on.
"That is the idea, a return to childhood and all. Speaking of that, I think your name should be Sherrie."
"No, it's Sharon."
Victoria Gibson sighed.
"Do you know why this chair is here?" Victoria Gibson asked. "No, it's not just to help you put your shoes on. It's so that if a client becomes difficult there's somewhere to sit to spank her."
"What?" Sharon asked in alarm, her simple white bra half on.
"I won't have to use it, will I Sherrie?"
"Of course not." Sharon replied. What was in a name? It was just a little thing, going by a diminutive of her name. Then again, maybe that's how it started with Nicole. Had the change really happened when Nicole had become Nikki?
After she had changed, Victoria Gibson directed Sharon to the hairstylist. That woman didn't do anything more drastic then to brush and shape Sharon's hair, but before she left the chair Sharon's hair was in pigtails. Looking at herself in the mirror, Sharon had to admit that she looked years younger.
"Maybe it's the bra." Sharon speculated. It seemed to do more flattening than lifting and separating, and losing so much of her bust line made a big difference. Then again, so did the Mary Janes and the young looking clothing.
Victoria Gibson was waiting for Sharon when she left the stylist.
"Now I'm going to pretend to be your main caregiver today, but of course you should respect all the caregivers." Victoria Gibson said as she led Sharon through a door. "Oh, and you asked a question when you were at the desk. What was it? Something about what happens if you disobey? Well I gave you one answer there, but there's a different answer here. You see Sherrie, if you disobey here you get a spanking. Oh, and it's completely legal."
"And if I try to leave?" Sharon probed.
"Leave? I'm sorry, but you can't leave until someone lets you out." Victoria Gibson told her. "And let's hope that no one mixes up your forms and you get out on schedule."
"What?" Sharon exclaimed.
"Don't worry, that almost never happens." Victoria Gibson said. "Almost never."
"But in the outside world you're a lawyer, here you are just a young lady being supervised. Relax, and let go of your cares and worries." Victoria Gibson said.
Sharon was about to respond, but the words where taken from her mouth by the sight of a young woman being dragged over a mature woman's lap and spanked. Suddenly it sunk in; she was in place where she could be treated like a little girl. For the first time years, in over a decade, her bum was literal on the line for her behaviour. The shock went through her like a fire. This time it wouldn't be hearing about it from Joanne or Nicole, this time it could be her being spanked.
Time passed. Some of it dragged by, other parts flew by. It was almost like being back a day camp. There were arts and crafts, games, sports, and other activities. It was almost like going back in time, except Sharon had never been to a camp where the councillors could spank the campers. Well, there had been rumours at that one church run camp, but that was only about kids who went that parish, or the ones who had parents volunteering at the camp, or something like that. Sharon wasn't sure of the details (or even if any of the rumours were true) but it didn't matter; Sharon hadn't been one of those covered by the rumours so her bum hadn't been at risk. At least not then, but it was now.
Sharon couldn't forget that part. Every once a while one of her fellow "campers" would act up or refuse to do an activities, and then it was spanking time. Happening sometimes on the seat of the skirt, sometimes on the panties, and sometime on the bare bum, whenever a spanking was called for it was given. Sharon only saw one woman try to refuse a spanking, and almost a dozen caregivers had converged on her. By the time the caregivers were done with that woman her skirt was a distant memory, as were her panties. Even her blouse was pinned up in the back, meaning that she had display her scarlet backside for the rest of the day. A backside that stayed scarlet as various caregivers gave it whacks whenever it was nearby.
But Sharon wasn't a fool. She learned the rules, and obeyed them. It felt weird to be obeying people instinctively, but if that was the way the game worked then that was the way she'd play it.
At first Sharon wondered if they would use any excuse to spank her, but as the day went on she relaxed.
'Of course. It stands to reason they can't spank everyone all the time.' Sharon thought. 'People have to sign themselves in; no one would do that if she was going to be spanked every time."
A brief discussion with one of her fellow campers confirmed this.
"I've been here half a dozen times." Lucy told her. "And I've never been spanked, not once. I was worried about it the first time, but since then things have been stress free. It's almost better than a spa."
"It is a bit strange." Sharon acknowledged.
"It's like being a girl again. Well, almost." Lucy said. "The illusion of us being little girls get compromised when panties come down. No girl ever had a butt as full as these women have, and when you catch sight of a full bush it completely ruins it."
"Yeah, I had noticed that." Sharon commented.
"And looked at how peaceful the day is." Lucy commented. "No emails, faxes, cell phones, pagers, or any interruption. Why, if this is how it's like to be a returnee I might move home myself."
"What?" Sharon exclaimed.
"You know, take back my childhood, reclaim my youth, and all the other mottoes." Lucy explained.
"But then it would be up to your caregiver, your permanent caregiver, to decide if you get spanked or not."
Lucy, who looked to be in her late twenties, just shrugged.
"It can't be all bad. Haven't you watched the DVDs? And look around, it's so peaceful, stress free. Oh, there might be a few extra forms to fill out when if I want to stop being a returnee, but it can't be that hard to do. Forms... You know, next time I just might take a form at a random. Leave it up to the fates to decide if I sample this for the day again, or ease myself into a new life."
Sharon leaned close and tried to whisper all the problems involved in leaving returnee status, but Lucy wasn't listening.
"I'd probably choose my aunt as my caregiver." Lucy said, talking over Sharon's voice of reason. "Growing up she spanked her kids, and a couple of my other cousins, but never me. My mother wouldn't allow her to, so I got sent to my room and had to wait out the timeout while my cousins got it over with in a hurry. I wonder what my aunt would do if I showed up at her door and asked to be her little girl for a few weeks."
"She'd probably put you over her lap and spank you." Sharon suggested dryly.
"Oh Sherrie, you are a card." Lucy laughed. "I'm sure she wouldn't, not unless I gave her permission to do it."
"But your contract would give her permission..."
"Oh, that's just another form." Lucy said, dismissing Sharon's concerns with a wave of her hand. "I'm sure my aunt wouldn't do anything like that without verbal permission from me. Not that I'd ever give it, but I might discuss it with her."
Sharon could that Lucy's mind was made up and confusing her with the facts just wasn't working, so she simply said: "Well, good luck with that."
Walking away from the woman, Sharon could only hope that Lucy got a spanking that would clear her mind before she signed away her rights.
As the day drew to a close, Victoria Gibson came around for a little talk with Sharon.
"Well Sherrie, how has your carefree day been?"
"Um, it's been different." Sharon acknowledged.
"And I notice that there's one activity that you've been avoiding." Victoria Gibson noted. "So far today your little bum hasn't garnered even a single swat. If you want to change that you could, oh, I don't know, swear at me or something."
"Um, no thanks." Sharon answered,
"Are you sure Sherrie? Well then give me a hug. You deserve one for being such a good little girl."
Sharon hugged the older woman, and Victoria Gibson held her tight with one arm while giving her some love taps with the other.
"Yes, you are a good little girl, yes you are." Victoria Gibson muttered as she delivered the taps.
"Um, thanks, but enough with the taps." Sharon said.
"You do know that I don't need a reason to spank you, don't you?" Victoria Gibson muttered. "That I could turn those taps into a full pants down spanking? For no reason at all?"
Sharon felt a shiver go through her, and Victoria Gibson felt it too.
"Well then, maybe not today." Victoria Gibson laughed as she released Sharon. "But I expect to see back soon, okay Sherrie?"
Sharon was congratulating herself on how she handled that when she walked into a mud ball fight. One hit her face and the other her skirt, leaving her sputtering dirt. She cleared the dirt from her eyes just in time to see Victoria Gibson descending on her
"But I didn't do anything!" Sharon protested, ignoring the fates of the mud slinging girls who were being hauled away by other caregivers.
"Oh Sherrie, you got yourself covered with mud. Isn't that enough?" Victoria Gibson said with a shake of her head. Then she leaned closer and whispered: "If you wanted to know what a real spanking was like you could have just said something when we were talking. Something like 'shit' or 'fuck'; now there will be extra work to clean that skirt."
"But I don't want to know!" Sharon protested.
But she didn't protest too loudly, or strongly. The memory of the woman who had resisted was fixed in her mind, and Sharon wasn't going to be smacked and stripped like that. In the back of her mind Sharon found herself wondering if that woman's rebellion had been planned; a "you can't spank me" early in the day to show the others what happened to resisters and cow them into submission. But planned or spontaneous, it had worked. Sharon was protesting, but she wasn't physical resisting as Victoria Gibson led her to a conveniently placed bench for a spanking.
For a spanking.
For her spanking.
Suddenly it was hitting home that she was about to be spanked. A grown woman, a mature, respectable lawyer, was about to be spanked like a naughty little ten year old. And there was nothing she could do about it!
"Now I'm not getting mud on my dress, so your skirt is coming off." Victoria Gibson declared. "Now. And Sherrie, if I have to take it off..."
Victoria Gibson's voice trailed off with the unspoken threat, and Sharon removed her skirt.
'I can't believe it.' Sharon thought. 'I'm standing here in my underwear where everyone can see. Sure, they cover more than my bikini bottom, but my bikini is stylish and meant for outdoor wear. Oh sweet lord don't let anyone recognise me.'
"Now come over here." Victoria Gibson instructed in a loud voice. "Or will I need help?"
Sharon sighed, but went to her caregiver. Then her caregiver said something that struck fear in Sharon's heart.
"And Sherrie? I think those panties will have to come down."
"What? Just for that?" Sharon asked.
"Now I know they're coming down." Victoria Gibson declared, the firmness of her tone erasing all doubt.
Sharon didn't know what to think. A spanking was one thing, but on her bare bottom? In front of all these people? Sharon couldn't remember ever having a bare bottom spanking (and certainly wasn't going to ask her mother if she'd ever had one) but she was sure that if it had happened it happened behind closed doors. When she was little girl, when she didn't have anything worth looking at, she had had privacy. Now she was a woman with a mature bottom and she was getting a bare bum spanking? It didn't seem possible.
Only the memory of the woman who had objected kept Sharon from protesting.
When Sharon stepped closer, Victoria Gibson reached over and lowered Sharon's panties in a single well practised motion that left Sharon's little girl undies just under the swell of her bottom. Sharon wanted to die of embarrassment, but Victoria Gibson barely paused, and soon had Sharon over her lap.
"So Sherrie, should we start with my hand or move on straight to the brush." Victoria Gibson asked.
A slap on her left cheek turned her answer into a gasp.
"Sorry, but children like you never make decisions like that." Victoria Gibson noted. "So Sherrie, is this your first spanking?"
A pair of firm pats followed the question, which delayed Sharon's answer. But after those slaps Sharon found the breath to answer.
"No, it isn't." Sharon finally answered.
"Really?" Victoria Gibson asked, bringing her palm down again. "You could have fooled me. So Sherrie, do you mean you were spanked recently, or was it long, long ago."
Sharon winced as more firm pats landed, then answered truthful: "It was back when I was a little girl."
"Oh Sherrie, don't you know you're a little girl now?" Victoria Gibson laughed as she spanked away.
Sharon opened her mouth to respond, but her protests turned into squeals as Victoria Gibson increased the tempo.
"Oh, look at you." Victoria Gibson chuckled. "Trying not to kick your legs. Trying to stay all reserved and modest. Don't you know little girls can kick and squirm when they get their little bummies spanked?"
Sharon blushed, Victoria Gibson's words embarrassing her almost as much being bare bum and spanked in front of all these women. She had to keep telling herself that she wasn't a little girl getting spanked but a grown woman who was playing a game. A game she had evidentially lost.
"Oh, you're still too proud." Victoria Gibson scolded. "You have to learn to let yourself be a little girl again. Who cares if a little girl kicks and squirms? Who cares if you flash everyone as you kick? You're just a little girl, that's all you are. Now let's see if I can get through to you with the brush."
When Victoria Gibson paused Sharon braced herself, but found that nothing she could do was enough to brace herself for the impact of the hairbrush. Sharon's hands shot back to try to shield her bottom, but someone intercepted them. Sharon knew it couldn't be her caregiver, Victoria Gibson had one hand holding her place while spanking with the other one, so someone else had to be holding her arms. It dawned on her that her spanking was no longer just the two of them, that someone else had entered the picture and was holding her hands. Half blinded by her tears Sharon couldn't make out who was holding her, only that it was a woman dressed as one of the camp's caregivers.
Held helpless, with a throbbing building with every smack of the brush, Sharon felt something inside her give. The heat in her bottom had produced tears, but now she wept. She kicked and squirmed, giving her instincts free rein.
"There, that's it Sherrie." Victoria Gibson said as she spanked. "Come back to when you didn't have to make any nasty decisions. Come back to the little girl who know you want to be. Let your legs pump away, and don't worry who sees what's between them. Little girls don't need to worry about who see them this way. All that matters is they get the spanking they need. The spanking you need."
Sharon sobbed harder at those words. She knew what she looked like, since she arrived at the camp today she had seen several women putting on shameful displays, and hated that she was doing it. She wished her legs weren't swinging the way they were, but wishing did nothing when it came to resisting the awful brush.
Finally, the spanking was over, and Victoria Gibson was just holding Sharon on her lap, muttering that Sherrie had been such a brave little girl. About how Sherrie had taken her spanking like a big girl, how Sherrie could cry all she wanted to.
That last part struck Sharon to the bone; she had never been given permission to cry before. Oh, she had cried countless times, but never with someone giving her permission to cry like a little girl. Not that she could remember.
When she had cried herself out, Sharon was helped up from Victoria Gibson's lap. The woman pulled Sharon's panties up and held out Sharon's skirt.
"You were a good little girl, taking your spanking that way." Victoria Gibson told her with a smile. "There's just one thing. Something was ruining the illusion. You know, you really should think about shaving, or at least trimming down to almost nothing. You might even want to think about electrolysis or getting laser treatment. After all, little girls don't deserve to have Big Girl hair, do they Sherrie?"
Sharon paused with her skirt half on, stunned to her core. The woman couldn't actually mean it, could she? Sharon knew that hers wasn't the most impressive bush in the world, but to give it up? To lose it forever? Surely the woman couldn't mean that.
"I could give you the number for a clinic that does great work." Victoria Gibson told her. "A few appointments with them and you'd be as bare as a baby. Wouldn't that be nice Sherrie?"
Sharon stumbled through dressing, then limped back to where the other girl women were. As she walked, Sharon could feel the eyes on her. Only a few of them were judgmental stares, but most were condescending at the very least. As if Sharon had lost at a game, or worse, had wanted to be spanked. She felt as if everyone was looking at her, and her face must be redder than her bottom.
But she wasn't the only one who had been spanked. It took a couple trips to the bathrooms (avoiding the intimidating enema equipment that was there, waiting to be used) to clean her face, but eventually Sharon was sure that she wasn't standing out, just as long as she didn't wince when she sat.
By then the day was ending, and so was the time of carefree living that Sharon had paid for.
Sharon waited impatiently for a free changing room. While women had arrived here at various points during the day most seemed to be leaving now, causing a bottleneck. Well, at least for most. Standing near edges of the crowd, Sharon couldn't help overhearing an exchange between a woman in her mid twenties and one of the caregivers.
"But I didn't mean to sign that form! I thought it was the other, I really did." The woman dressed as a girl insisted.
"But you did sign it." The caregiver informed her. "And now you have to sign another one."
"But I don't want to! I just want to leave." The girl insisted. "Where are my clothes?"
"Ah, your old clothing. Well, while you were here we contacted your parents. Your mother was ..."
"You called my mother?" The girl moaned.
"... more than a bit surprised." The caregiver continued, talking over the girl. "But when we told her how often you had come here and how happy you seemed while you were here, and how you had decided to do this..."
"But I didn't decide! It was an accident!"
"... She decided that you could wear those clothes home. She'll be here to pick you up soon."
"But I've only move home temporarily, and only a few days ago. I'll be there maybe a month at most." The girl moaned. "I have a dozen interviews lined up for next week."
"Now do you want to meet your mother with a red bottom? Do you? Because that's how it seems to sound to me."
"But if I don't sign..."
"But you already have. When chose to sign that form you legally agreed to sign the next. In fact, if you had read the fine print, you would have seen that you authorised us to transfer your signature to another form, and we've already done that."
"What! How could you?"
"Well it looks like someone wants a red bottom after all."
The spanking that followed didn't attract much attention; Sharon saw (and heard) that it wasn't the only one going on as the women waited for changing rooms to free up, and she had to wonder how many of the others being spanked were now reluctant returnees.
Eventually a changing room opened up, and as she entered Sharon was instructed to strip as her clothing was brought to her.
'One last humiliation.' Sharon thought as she stripped down in front of the caregiver.
"I see someone got her little bottom spanked today." The caregiver observed.
Sharon blushed, but soon her clothes were returned to her and she dressed hurriedly.
As she was leaving the camp, she caught sight of the woman who had been trying to object to becoming a returnee. The woman was still in girl's clothing and her face was now tear streaked, and she was being led by the hand by an older woman and rubbing at her sore rear with the other one. She didn't look happy, and her sore bum seemed to be the least troubling thing on her mind
"But mom!" The girl was protesting. "I really don't want this. Can't we tear up that contract?"
"What? After you spending good money coming to this place?" The woman snapped. "You can barely cover your bills, and you pay these people to treat you like a little girl and spank your bottom?"
"But it doesn't cost that much." The girl whined.
"Sure, but I'm going to take every cent out your butt before I even think about tearing up that contact." The woman said as she shooed her daughter into a car.
Then they drove off, leaving Sharon to wonder if that contract would ever be torn up.
'Was that just temporary, or the start of her new life?' Sharon wondered.
From her research she knew it was easy for the senior party to end the contract. Hardly any effort at all, but how many parents ended one?
Then she shivered at the thought of her mother finding out about this little adventure. The need for contact information, that had been the first thing that tipped Sharon to the trap in that other form. Sharon was sure that her mother would never learn about this trip.
But still she didn't rush home, not with her bottom still sore. She was sure that if she winced when she sat her mother would notice immediately. Instead she went to a drugstore for some cream.
Sharon found herself blushing at the knowing look of a clerk, and paid in cash to avoid a record of this transaction. Then she made her way to a gas station and applied the cream in a public restroom. She winced as it went on, and decided to give the cream time to work. As for the left over cream, she left it in washroom. Maybe someone else would need it, or maybe it would just be tossed out. Either way it was out of her life.
It was more than two hours later before she felt comfortable enough to go home, and it wasn't until the next morning that she felt comfortable in her own house. By then all the effects had faded, and there was no proof that had ever gone to the camp. Of course she had to wash the cream soaked underwear she had worn yesterday, but since it was laundry day she had no problem hiding that last shred of evidence.
Back at the office on Monday, something was nagging at the back of Sharon's mind. The way the caregiver had mentioned transferring signatures. She found some time to do a bit of research (billing the time to a divorce case) and discovered there were certain times that signatures could be legally transferred from one documents to another. Learning that sent a chill up Sharon's back - what if they had transferred Sharon's signature to the other version of the form, and from that to a returning child contract? Sharon would cry foul, but would anyone listen to her? And had that woman really signed the wrong contract, or had her signature been transferred?
A few days later Sharon was in the break room when Fran Morrissey, one of the senior partners, stuck her head in and called: "Does anyone know anything about returning child contracts? Anyone at?"
One of Sharon's co-workers immediately quipped that all she knew was that she would never sign one.
"Keep joking and you'll be looking for a job." Fran Morrissey snapped back. "And that means that you might be signing one. So, anyone look into those things? Anyone at all?"
Sharon took a deep breath and hesitantly raised her hand.
"Great, what do you know?" Fran Morrissey asked.
"One of my friends was thinking of signing one, and it was before I was working here so I time to do some research, and..."
"Perfect! Come on."
Sharon found herself following Fran Morrissey to one of the upper floors. As they entered senior partner territory Sharon desperately wanted to check her hose for runs and her breath for its smell. And her clothes, on the off chance that had gotten something on her while she was in the break room.
They ended up in a conference room, with fine wood panelling and a long oaken table. Sharon recognised one of the more senior partners, Mr. Strandler. With him in the room was an older couple along with a woman in her early twenties.
"Ah, I see our Ms. Morrissey has finally returned with one of associates." Mr. Strandler said with condescending grin.
"Ms. Williams was on her lunch break." Fran Morrissey said in way of an apology. "Ms. Williams, these are the Thorleys, and their niece is contemplating signing a returning child contract, and wish us to advise her."
"Hi. I'm Elaine Welsh." Elaine said, offering Sharon her hand. "And I don't see what the big deal is. Some of my friends have signed those contracts and they didn't have to see lawyers first."
"Maybe some of them wish they had." Sharon said as she accepted her hand.
The others didn't bother with introductions, so Sharon went with the flow. She never did learn anything else about them, not even their first names.
"See Elaine?" Mr. Thorley said. "I told you this was good idea."
"But what's the big deal?" Elaine asked with a shrug. "It's not like it's court enforced. They can just tear it up when they want to."
"But I'm not sure if you can trust your new stepmother to do that." Mrs. Thorley told her niece. "That woman..."
"Is just a few years older than I am." Elaine countered.
Mrs. Thorley shared a long suffering look with Mr. Strandler (whose expression spoke volumes on the folly of youth), then transferred her gaze to Sharon.
"Her stepmother is the one insisting on the contract." Mrs. Thorley explained.
Sharon didn't need a program to know who was holding the purse strings here. She knew who the client was and how to shape her advice.
"Have you sat down and gone through what sort of agreement you would sign?" Sharon asked.
"Yes, the standard one. And don't worry; that entire discipline section would be left blank. Like Daniel would ever think of doing that." Elaine snorted.
"That might not be wise." Sharon said. Seeing a copy of the standard contract on the table she pointed to it and asked, "May I?"
"Of course." Mr. Strandler said, holding a chair out for her (pointedly not near the head of the table). "Please, enlighten Ms. Welsh."
"It's Elaine." Elaine said, "And I don't need enlightening. It's all there in appendix G, and it's blank."
"I'm sure it is." Sharon said as she flipped through the pages. "Ah, here we are. Appendix L, section III, subsections i and ii. I knew it was here."
"But the discipline stuff is in appendix G." Elaine said in a condescending tone.
"But appendix L specifies how appendix G is modified." Sharon responded in a professional tone. "I know, it doesn't make sense. In theory everything should be in the same section, or at least the same appendix. Sometimes I think they made this contract more complex then has to be."
"So what does appendix L say?" Elaine asked with a bored sigh.
"Subsection i says that if the clause in appendix G isn't filled out then the senior party, otherwise known as the parent, can fill out anyway they want to.
"What?" Elaine said in disbelief. "That can't be right."
"And subsection ii defines how the senior party can modify appendix G, increasing the discipline roughly every two week that the junior party isn't gainfully employed, all without consulting the junior party."
"That's impossible!" Elaine asserted. "And even if it is true then there's no way that Daniel would know that. She's no lawyer."
"No, I'm sure she's not." Sharon said calmly. "But these things come with an information package, and there is paperwork in the package that explains everything in minuet detail."
"But Daniel wouldn't do that." Elaine insisted. "We had a long talk about it, and ... No, there's no way she would do something like."
"Then may I make a suggestion?" Sharon offered. "There is another standard version of the contract, one that avoids all mention of corporal punishment merely covers the financial details."
"But if we leave appendix G blank and Daniel promises not to change it then..."
"All verbal representations are overridden by a signed contract." Sharon said. She knew she was taking a bit of a risk interrupting a client, but the way she was reading the room it was clear that Elaine wasn't the one to be impressed.
"It's a standard thing in any contract." Mr. Thorley pointed out.
"Indeed." Mr. Strandler agreed. "It's the point of signing a contract in the first place."
"Huh?" Elaine repeated.
"Once you've signed contract it doesn't matter what else is said." Mrs. Thorley explained. "That's why when that friend of yours bought that car she couldn't take it back even though the salesman assured her that it was in perfect shape."
"Someone can say anything they want to." Mr. Strandler expanded. "But that doesn't matter, because once a written contract is signed the only thing that is legally enforceable is what the contract says."
"But that's not fair." Elaine protested.
"Tell me about it." Sharon said, trying for a bit of "we're both girls here" vibe to get through to Elaine. "But no one ever said law was fair. If it was law school wouldn't be so hard."
"Yeah, one of my friends is pre-law, and she says it's killer, and she's not even in real law school yet." Elaine agreed. "So, you say I should sign the other version?"
"Let me put it this way." Sharon said conspiratorially. "Do think there could ever come a day when Daniel gets totally bitchy for no reason?"
"So why not protect yourself and sign the other contract?" Sharon suggested. "And why not? If Daniel never intends to do anything, then it won't matter, will it?"
"Well if you put it like that..."
"Excellent." Mr. Strandler said with a smile. "We'll prepare the alternative contract, and all the parties can sign it. Is that agreeable to everyone?"
"It's better than nothing." Mr. Thorley acknowledged.
"If she has to sign one of those, then I guess that's the one she should sign." Mrs. Thorley agreed. "But I don't know why someone would have to sign a piece of paper to move back home. Elaine, you know that if you want our door is always open."
"Thanks, but this what everyone is doing." Elaine responded. "And I know I can trust Daniel. We've even picked out my new wardrobe and everything."
After the meeting Sharon was whisked back to the lower floors.
"Thanks for the help." Fran Morrissey said as she walked Sharon back. "And I'm sorry about the lunch break thing, but..."
"Oh, I understand. The clients need to know this is a well oiled machine where every legal service can be had at a moment's notice." Sharon said, not allowing the partner to apologise.
"I'm glad you understand."
"So, did you want me to work on..."
"Oh of course not. No offence, but while an associate might be brought in to deal with an obscure point of law only partners work on the Thorley file." Fran Morrissey informed her. "What's probably going to happen is one of the partners will have his assistant transcribe a copy of that standard contract and we'll bill them for it. I honestly didn't think we'd have to go down to your floor to find someone who knew something about it, but that contract is needlessly complex."
"I think it's supposed to be some type of trap, but how could it?" Sharon suggested. "Anyone who would sign one of those has to know what she's getting into."
"Who cares why they sign them." Fran Morrissey commented. "But some of them make sense. Take Elaine; she's basically a spoiled little girl in a woman's body. This way she doesn't have control of her finances so she can't be cheated out of all her money by any of her so-called friends. What she really needs is an ironclad trust fund, but her mother left Elaine some money outright and she won't agree to a conservatorship."
"You mean she clearly has the means to live independently and is still signing one of those agreements?" Sharon asked in disbelief.
"She could buy a townhouse and not even notice the price." Fran Morrissey informed her. "But she's moving home with a stepmother who's only a few years older than her because it's the in thing to do. Who knows? Maybe down the road we can use it as evidence that she needs a conservatorship. Anyway, I know I don't have to inform you that we value discretion when it come to things like this."
"It goes without saying." Sharon agreed.
After impressing a partner, things became slightly easier for Sharon. Not that either of the partners remembered her name, but it made an impression on some of the layers between the partners and the lowly cubical dwellers who were Sharon's co-workers. This led to a bit of extra time off, and that led to a dinner with Margo and Lois.
"So I'll be moving out in a few weeks, and I can barely wait." Margo said, gushing about her new job.
"Must be nice to be working." Lois said, sipping from her cosmopolitan.
"You might want to cut your salary demands and expand your search." Sharon advised.
"Oh, I'm okay." Lois assured them. "My benefits were extended again."
"But a job is much better than benefits." Sharon informed her.
"I had to take a pay cut, but I'm glad I'm able to get out now." Margo told them.
"Why now?" Sharon asked. "Did something change?"
"Have you seen Jayne lately?" Margo asked. "Well remember that night we were at Joanne's? It turns out that the mothers, and I mean all of our mothers, were at Jayne's as she went from being a teenager to a preteen."
"No!" Lois responded.
"Yes!" Margo asserted. "The eight of them where there and they bathed her, spanked her, dressed her in one of those footsie sleepers with a trapdoor in back, and tucked in her. And I mean they all did it. They were all in the bathroom with her and everything."
"No way!" Lois said.
"It's true." Margo insisted. "I heard it from Jayne herself. She's a little girl now who has to ask permission to go potty and everything."
"And our moms were there?" Sharon asked; she wished there was more disbelief in her voice, but somehow it wasn't there.
"By why were our mothers involved?" Lois asked, downing some more of her drink.
"You remember that book club they were all in?" Margo asked.
"And that investment club? Don't remind me." Sharon said, moaning at the memory of how their mothers had followed the stock market like hawks over a combined investment of $528. Sixty-six dollars from each of them and you would have thought it was the entire federal reserve fund.
"And all those other things they've done over the years? Well, this is just the latest Oprah inspired thing." Margo revealed. "And our moms feel left out because we aren't letting them join in."
"But Jayne as a preteen? Having to ask to go to the bathroom... It just doesn't seem right." Lois commented.
"Is any part of the returnee agreement right?" Sharon asked. "Of course not, which is why I'd be living on the streets instead of ever signing one."
"So how about you?" Margo asked. "Have you got an apartment lined up?"
"Oh, didn't I tell you? I bought a house at a mortgage auction." Sharon revealed.
"What? How could you take advantage of someone's misfortune?" Lois demanded.
"I didn't." Sharon told them. "I bought from a development that was never sold. Some developer built the houses on spec, so there's an entire subdivision that's practically empty."
"Oh, if it was just speculators losing money then that's all right." Lois said with a nod.
"So you've got a house?" Margo asked. "Is it furnished?"
"Not really." Sharon admitted. "I'll be putting most of my paycheques into getting furniture, and I'll need a reliable second hand car because the buses don't run out there, so it's taking up most of my ready cash, but since I won't be paying rent or a mortgage I should be able to manage it all."
"Wow - you own a house." Margo gushed. "I guess you'll never have to sign a returning child contract now."
"Speaking of that, researching it for you paid off." Sharon said, then launched into an edited version of meeting the Thorleys. "So the partners noticed me, and I think I'm the firm's expert on them now."
"So some good came out of all that." Lois said as she raised her drink. "Congrats."
"Congrats." Margo said, joining the toast.
"Thanks." Sharon said, basking in the praises from her friends.
Buying the car wasn't a problem, not with a mortgage free house. As for furniture, she settled on a bedroom set, a dinning set, TV, and the standard appliances. The credit terms were generous, but Sharon winced at the amount of debt she was taking on.
"And the house isn't fully furnished yet." Sharon muttered to herself. "Maybe I'll start haunting auctions for the rest."
Sharon winced at the looks she got when she moved out, and shuddered at the feel of her new house. It felt so weird, driving down deserted streets, passing the drapeless windows of the empty houses, everything looking normal, but deserted.
Like a ghost town.
It wasn't that the houses weren't owned, but they were owned by speculators. People who had bought then for a penny or two on the dollar in the hopes that the housing market would pick up.
'Maybe I should get more locks?' Sharon wondered.
Not that she was spending much at her new house. Work was taking up more of her time, and Sharon felt like she was running to stay in place. Worse, a few times she was called in "as the expert" for returning child contracts. The times she was there to talk some idiot out of signing one left her feeling better than when she acting for the senior party. But a client was a client, and no one was putting a gun to their heads to force them to sign away their rights and accept corporal punishment.
One evening, while working late with Ed Pendleton, the senior lawyer turned to her and said: "By the way, since you're some kind of expert on those returnee contracts, I've got a question for you. My niece is implying she wants out of hers; is there any convenient way for her to do that?"
"Not unless the senior party agrees. She'd need a judge to vacate the contract, and..."
"I thought so." Ed Pendleton said, cutting her off. "It seems that the thrill of having all of her decisions made for her is wearing out, and she's looking for an easy way out. I didn't see one, but now I can say I consulted the firm's expert who agrees that she's trapped."
"She's just thinking about changing her mind now?" Sharon asked. "I would have thought she would have rethought things the first time someone spanked her."
"Well, she's not you." Ed Pendleton pointed out. "Some women sign those types of things, others don't, and that's all there is to it. Now back to section VIII, I'm sure that they hid something there. Some term that normally wouldn't go there that screws our client."
With the niece's problem discarded they returned to the business at had.
A few days later a memo came across Sharon's desk. Looking at it, Sharon saw it had nothing to do with any of her current cases; it was labelled 'research'. Not sure how to bill it, Sharon ended up reading through it as she ate a late supper (consisting of Take Out) in her house.
"This can't be right." Sharon muttered as she read a recent ruling.
She now knew why she had been given it; this ruling dealt directly on returning child contracts. A returnee had gone to court to get her contract vacated, and the judge had imposed a full conservatorship on the returnee. The woman had lost all of her rights, even the right of appeal, and was legally in the same boat as someone in the later stages of Alzheimer's or otherwise incompetent. Since there was no longer anyone with standing there would be no appeal, so this lower court's ruling would stand. On the plus side there would be a yearly review of the woman's status, but Sharon knew that it might just be a curiosity examination of the file.
"So she signed a contract, fought it, and now she's in worse shape then ever before." Sharon muttered. "That is just so not right."
The 'just not right' aspect was reinforced the next day; while running errands during her lunch break she saw a woman dressed as a girl being dragged over a bench and spanked over her panties in the mall. It happened in front of everyone, and some kids were giggling as the woman kicked and squealed.
Sharon looked away, but not everyone did.
"You see? I told you if you acted up you could be spanked right here. There's no need to wait until I get you home."
"Please Auntie, don't do that. I'll be good. Honest!"
The voice sounded familiar, and Sharon turned to look it at the speaker. It only took her a moment to recognise the speaker; it was Lucy, that woman from the day camp. It seemed that Lucy had either left her fate to chance and lost, or had decided to become a returnee, but either way the result was the same. Lucy was now trapped as a girl, and her aunt clearly had no problem with administering spankings as needed.
"Oh stop panicking Lucy." The woman scolded. "Honestly, if your parents had given me a clear hand with you when you were young you'd already know what it's like to be spanked bare in the middle of a mall. I'm half tempted to make up for lost time."
"But please Auntie, I'll be good! Please don't do it."
Sharon saw that the day-tripper she had met was gone, and Lucy no longer had any illusions about the returnee lifestyle. Of course it was too late for the woman, but it was lesson well learned.
Seeing Lucy got Sharon thinking, so she stretched her lunch break to travel by the day camp. For a weekday it seemed busy. Women were entering, and there was a sign advertising a mid day special - a special rate for two hours bracketed around lunch. As Sharon watched she saw a businesswoman leaving. Normally Sharon wouldn't notice one person in the stream, but this woman was rubbing at her bottom like a freshly spanked girl.
'A mid day visit? That's crazy!' Sharon thought. 'How could you hide it at the office?'
With that she hurried back to work.
The next week Sharon got some good news. Based on the presence of moving trunks it looked like she was going to get a neighbour. It would be four or five houses up the street from her, but it would mean someone else living on her street. Then, of course, things went hectic at work and she couldn't meet her new neighbours for the next few days.
It was Sunday before Sharon was actually home during daylight hours. She spent most of the morning catching up on her sleep, then went to relax in her backyard with a cool drink. The developer had gone bankrupt before installing privacy fences, so Sharon had a view of the yards running up and down her street. Not that there was anything to see, at least not before today. Today, when Sharon looked to her right, she saw something.
There was girl in the backyard of her new neighbour's. The girl was cutting something from a tree, and when she moved Sharon could see that all the girl was wearing was a T-shirt. That, and a red bottom.
Sharon looked away, embarrassed both for herself and the girl.
A few hours later Sharon headed to her new neighbours with a bottle of wine. She was sure that whatever domestic thing that had happened had played itself out by now.
When she rang the doorbell, a young woman (in her early to mid twenties) wearing a T-shirt and shorts answered it.
"Hi. Being the entire neighbourhood, I think it's probably my job to welcome you."
"You live here?" The woman said in confusion. "I thought all the other houses were vacant."
"They are, except for mine and yours." Sharon told her. "I'm Sharon Williams, and I live down in 48."
"Oh, um, maybe you should come in, seeing that you're a neighbour." The woman said, holding open the door. "I'm Lyn Gordon, and while my husband isn't here at the moment I'm sure he would want me to show you around."
Sharon entered the house, standing beside Lyn.
"It's not much." Lyn said nervously. "But..."
"I see we have the same decorator." Sharon said with a smile as she looked at the mostly empty house. "After buying the house I could barely afford to furnish three rooms, and one of them in the kitchen. I thought I had plenty, but that fridge..."
"I know." Lyn said, glad to have someone commiserating with her. "I never knew an oven could cost that much. I thought they just, you know, came with the house. But Ronnie, that's my husband, says it's worth it to be homeowners. I don't know how he did it, but he bought this place with money down and no mortgage."
"He probably went to an auction." Sharon told Lyn. "I went to one when I realised that there was no way I could qualify for mortgage. I still can't believe some of these houses are going so low. Oh, where are my manners. I brought wine."
"Well then let's open it." Lyn suggested. "Um, we don't have wine glasses, so..."
"I only own two of those myself, and that's because they came with some plates I bought." Sharon admitted.
As Lyn went to the kitchen, Sharon saw something that made her stop in her tracks. The tops of Lyn's thighs, just below the shorts, were red, and there were what looked like a few welts there.
Sensing the change in Sharon's movement, Lyn looked over her shoulder and saw where Sharon was looking. A blush spread across the young woman's face.
"Oh, um, that. Maybe after we open the wine?" Lyn squeaked.
"Why not?" Sharon asked, forcing a smile to her face.
When they were sipping wine Lyn spilled out her story.
"You see, after school I had to move back home, and my folks made me sign one of those contracts things." Lyn said as she sipped wine. "It was mainly my mom; she's such an Oprah fan."
"That woman has a lot to answer for." Sharon commented.
"So, anyway, when Ronnie asked me to marry him, there was a long family meeting and we kind of decided that I wasn't up to living on my own, so we kind of transferred the contract to Ronnie."
"So your husband is now the senior party of your returnee contract?" Sharon asked.
"Um, well, maybe... What do you mean by..."
"Oh, I should have mentioned it; I'm a lawyer, so that's just legalese for saying that your husband signs everything and is the one in change." Sharon explained.
"Yeah, that." Lyn agreed, sipping her wine. "So we all agreed that Ronnie's in charge until I get a job and stuff, but now that we don't have house payments Ronnie says that I don't need a job, so, well, anyway, I kind of burned breakfast today. I'm still getting used to the new oven, and I think this one is hotter than the one my parents had, and well, I didn't think I'd see anyone today or I would have worn slacks or something."
"So you don't mind Ronnie taking charge?" Sharon asked.
"Not really. I mean I don't really like it when it's happening, but I'm okay with him being in charge. I think I kind of like being able to relax and let someone else make the decisions, you know?"
"Kind of." Sharon admitted. "Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm professional, and I'd never sign one of those things, but I have a few friends who signed them. Some hate what happened to them, but a few find it relaxing. And as a lawyer I've prepared some contracts for women to sign, and I've watched them sign them."
"What? But you can get a package at almost..."
"Ah, but you're thinking of normal people." Sharon countered. "I'm talking about people who spend $300 dollars an hour to get something done for them, because they're used to spending that kind of money for any legal thing they do."
"$300 an hour? That's what you make?" Lyn said, obviously impressed. "Do you at least include a hairbrush or something?"
"I'm not sure what's included, but I don't make $300 an hour. Nowhere close." Sharon laughed. "The law firm, it bills for my time and collects the difference between what the client pays them and what it pays me. So I help put money in their pockets and hope the economy doesn't go down and they need to do layoffs."
"I hear that. So law firms really make that kind of money?" Lyn asked.
"Some do." Sharon told her. "Not that I'll ever see any of it, but a job's a job, right?"
"Specially today." Lyn nodded. "So, um, you're a professional woman, and you don't see anything wrong with what I have with Ronnie?"
"As long as it works for you, why should I care?" Sharon said honestly. "There are countless women living with their parents and getting spanked, so what's one getting discipline from a loving husband?"
"That's right." Lyn agreed. "I just wish that more people saw it that way. Some of my girlfriends think I'm nuts, but works for me."
"I'm sure it does."
"So when can we together, the three of us I mean?" Lyn asked.
"My hours are crazy." Sharon informed her. "Totally, completely crazy. Sometime I put in 14 hours days, and other times it's just 10 hours. Then there are my rare days and half days off; that's usually when I catch up on my sleep. But let me think... Maybe next weekend?"
"Next weekend then. I'll hold you to it." Lyn said.
The following Sunday found Sharon at the Gordon place. She came with wine again, and when she rang the bell she found herself waiting for an answer. Finally, a man in his mid twenties answered the door.
"Hi. You must be Ronnie." Sharon said with a smile.
"And you must be our seldom seen neighbour." Ronnie said, giving her a nervous smile. "I've heard your car a few times, but I've never seen you."
"Well, that changes today." Sharon pointed out.
"Um, yeah, only we thought you coming later, um, so... Oh, what the hey, come in." Ronnie said.
Sharon was wondering why he was nervous, at least until she saw Lyn in the corner. Lyn's pants were on the floor and her red bum was on display. Sharon felt her face go flushed, and wondered that if she was this embarrassed seeing Lyn, just how embarrassed was Lyn to be seen.
"Um, Lyn said she mentioned it to you, and if we are going to be neighbours, I kind wondered why hide things, so..." Ronnie babbled.
"Oh, um, don't worry about." Sharon said, wishing that she wasn't blushing. "I've got a few friends who, I mean I would never, but I have a few friends who signed those contracts and I've seen them that way."
"Oh, um, that's all good then." Ronnie muttered. "Um, only I kind of promised her folks that I'd make sure she followed she followed the rules, and that includes corner time and all."
"Oh, I understand." Sharon assured him, and as she spoke she wondered if she really did.
So they stood around, playing at small talk, for about twenty minutes before Ronnie declared Lyn's corner time was over. The woman pulled up her slacks and panties without turning around, and when Lyn was finally looking out of the corner Sharon couldn't tell if the woman's face was red from the spanking or the embarrassment of being seen that way. Then Lyn served a meal, and just happened to eat standing while Sharon pretended not to have seen anything out of the ordinary.
After the surreal meal ended, Sharon offered to help with the dishes, and while they washed Lyn confided to her that she felt so proud.
"My first dinner guest in my own house." Lyn beamed. "It's wonderful, I feel almost grown up." "Almost." Sharon agreed, staying silent on the parts that weren't 'grown up'. Like having her husband make all the decisions, and like how Lyn's bum was smacked whenever her husband decided it should be smacked. Adults never had to stand to in the corner with their pants around their ankles, and Lyn had practically embraced not being an adult.
"You know, if you ever want to know what it's like, being a teen again, there's a day camp you can go to." Lyn told her.
"Um, really?" Sharon asked, hoping that she wasn't blushing. "No, I'm sure that the returnee lifestyle isn't for me. And besides, if I became a teen again, who would pay my bills?"
"There is that." Lyn nodded sagely. "I guess I'm lucky I have Ronnie."
"I'm glad your life is working out for you the way you want it to." Sharon nodded back.
A few months passed and Sharon finally had more free time, not that she was slacking off at work, but she had gotten a little bump up that gave her breathing room. She wasn't far up the corporate ladder, but she was above the probationary hires, the newcomers, and a rank or two more, which meant that if things went bad there would be dozens of people let go before she was. It meant a bit more money, but more importantly it meant more job security, and that was number one for Sharon. Without a job she'd probably have to give her car, maybe her house, and moving home to save money would be a huge temptation, one that scared her to even think about.
With the extra money she paid off a few bills, then gave things a long, hard think. Partway through her thinking process she sought Margo's opinion, and the two had long talks about Sharon's plans.
As a result, on Saturday Sharon found herself an auction. She hated being there, and knew that every lot that went under the gavel had a tale of sorrow behind it, but since she couldn't afford to buy new she didn't have much of a choice. It was hard not to buy things, what with so many nice items going up for sale at fantastic prices, but Sharon forced herself to remain disciplined and buy only the items she had decided she needed. She ended up with an almost new bedroom set, a foldout couch (that would fit perfectly in front of her TV - which sat on the box her bed had come in), a couple of lamps, a few more dishes and glasses, and regrets that she couldn't buy more.
'Think of your savings, and the new expenses.' Sharon told herself.
It helped that there were some adult girls at the auction, and that the seats of a few skirts collected the odd swat. Those things reminded Sharon of what she faced if life went bad, and why she here in the first place, which kept Sharon focused.
It was almost depressing to discover that delivery would make up a significant amount of what she was paying, but Sharon told herself that it was just the finance companies losing money, not the people who had bought and lost the furniture. Of course delivery opened another box of worms.
Sharon knocked the on the door to the Gordon house, hoping that they could help. When Lyn opened the door the woman was wearing only a T-shirt and a skirt that ended well above the knee. Sharon bit back a comment about Lyn's bare feet and asked for her the favour.
"So you would just have to be at my house on Monday afternoon so they can deliver it." Sharon told her only neighbour. "And if you write 'per Sharon Williams' after your name you won't really be signing anything."
"I won't?" Lyn asked uncertainly.
"No, because when you add per and someone's name you're basically saying that you're signing that person's name in the place of the missing person." Sharon said, but as she saw the puzzled the expression remain she added: "It's what secretaries do for their bosses and signing officers do for companies. Since I gave you permission to sign my name for the delivery it's legally me signing it and not you."
"Um, are you sure? Because Ronnie wouldn't want me to sign anything so..."
"I'll give you a form authorising you to sign for the furniture, and that will make it all legal." Sharon assured her.
"Well, then that should be okay."
As she made out the form Sharon was careful to limit it to signing for the furniture on that Monday. The thought that Lyn, who had signed a returnee contract, would have any signing authority for her wasn't a pleasant thought, but Sharon was out of options. Well, she could take time off work, but she knew that wasn't going to happen.
Monday evening Sharon returned home to find Ronnie waiting for her.
"Hi there. Just wanted to let you know that Lyn handled the delivery all right." Ronnie said as he greeted her. "They even carried the bedroom stuff upstairs. When I got home Lyn told me all about it, and mentioned that the stuff looked nice, so, um..."
"You're here to ask where I got it from?" Sharon guessed. "It was an auction place by the airport. It's all used, stuff that was leased out and repo'ed, but it's been professionally cleaned so it's good. Give me a second and I'll write out the address for you."
"Thanks." Ronnie said. "It's just that the place feels empty, so..."
"They have auctions every Saturday." Sharon said as she scribbled out the details. "But there's an important trick you need to know to do well in auctions: don't fall in love."
"Um, well, Lyn and I..."
"Oh, not that way." Sharon told him. "It's just that sometimes you see something that would look wonderful in your place, and you really want it, but if the price goes too high you have to be ready to stop bidding. Otherwise you'll pay more than you planned to, and the point of going to an auction is to save money, not waste it. If you fall in love with the wrong thing you might end up paying more than when it was new. No, you have to be ready to walk away. Take this house for example: it wasn't my first pick, or my second pick, but the price went up too high on those ones and I settled for this one. It's actually bigger than my first pick, but with fewer neighbours so it was cheaper."
"Oh, that. Yeah, my uncle went with me when I bought my house and he had a list of ones we might want. We got this because it had been auctioned three times so the price was right. I guess some speculator didn't get his money out of it." Ronnie confided.
"That happens." Sharon agreed.
"Oh, and before I forget, here's that form back that you gave Lyn so that legally it wouldn't be her signing anything." Ronnie said, reaching into his pocket. "You probably want it back."
"Oh, thanks, but that's not really necessary. It was only good for today, and only for the one delivery."
"Well, I don't think it's good for Lyn to keep it. She shouldn't be handling legal documents and stuff like that, not as a returnee." Ronnie pointed out. "But signing for deliveries and stuff like that, that's okay."
Sharon wondered if Lyn would be eating standing up again, all because she had done a favour for Sharon. Then again, it wasn't as if the girl hadn't chosen that lifestyle and one more sore bottom wouldn't be a huge difference for Lyn.
After seeing Ronnie out, Sharon inspected her furniture and finished making her plans.
It took several nights of planning, but they slowly came together.
Sharon arrived at Joanne's place well after Margo. Eileen was out, which made this the perfect time. In fact all the mothers were over at Nicole's place, which made everything perfect.
Margo answered Sharon's knock. The sound of flesh smacking flesh explained why Joanne wasn't answering the door herself.
"Lisa's here, and she's..." Margo whispered.
"I can hear what she's doing." Sharon replied in a firm voice.
She found Joanne and Lisa in the living room, on the couch, with Joanne's bare bum getting spanked over Lisa's lap.
"Sorry about this." Lisa smirked. "But Joanne watched a show that girl her age shouldn't view. It even had a parental warning and everything."
"You didn't tell her not to watch it." Margo pointed out darkly.
"But she didn't ask permission either." Lisa smiled as she spanked away. "And the warning said to asked your parents or guardians."
Joanne was fighting off tears before the spanking was over.
Watching her friend limp off the teenager's lap, Sharon decided to kill two birds with one stone. She needed to do something to distract Lisa, and this was a chance to pay Lisa back for some of the humiliation that Lisa had put Joanne through countless times.
"So were you in the room when the show was on?" Sharon inquired innocently.
"Well of course I was; I had to be, to know she watched it." Lisa said smugly.
"So who did you ask?" Sharon asked.
"Well you're really the age that Joanne is pretending to be, so who did you ask?" Sharon asked.
"Um, well, um, you see I'm in charge of Joanne, and she didn't ask..."
"And neither did you, and who's in charge of you?" Sharon probed.
Lisa started to blush and stammer.
"Lisa Roberts, you knew I was in the room with you, and you didn't ask me, the only real adult there." Margo pointed out.
"But... No, I'm in charge." Lisa whined.
"I think you know what has to happen now." Sharon said.
She had hoped that Lisa, now obviously humiliated, would leave now. Leave them to make the plan work.
But that didn't happen. Instead Lisa got a dejected look on her face and left the room. A few minutes later Lisa returned with a wooden hairbrush and handed it to Sharon.
"I see Mrs. Drover's gotten to the bottom of your attitude before." Margo joked.
"Yeah." Lisa sniffed. "And when I screw up while watching Joanne I get the brush."
"Well, then I guess..." Sharon started.
What Lisa did took the words out her mouth. Lisa undid her jeans and lowered them. Margo waved Sharon towards the couch, and Sharon sat as Lisa pulled down her panties and lowered herself over Sharon's lap.
Sharon wasn't sure what to do, but then again giving a spanking wasn't rocket science. Sharon raised the brush and brought it down hard. Lisa gave a little squeal, and Sharon raised the brush again. And again.
Sharon felt a certain sense of satisfaction paddling the bum of the girl who had spanked one of her friends. Sharon found herself bundling up all of frustrations from work, her concerns over what might happen if she had to move back home, of her worries about the current plan, and smacking them away into Lisa's bottom.
'So that's why the parents agree to these contracts.' Sharon realised. 'It's so soothing to work out your problems this way. It's kind of a two way street; the women lose their stress when they stop having to make decisions and the parents get to spank away their own stress.'
Either Sharon had a lot stress in her life, or Lisa was very bad girl. Either way Sharon didn't stop until Lisa was sobbing. As Sharon helped the pitiful girl off her lap, Margo cleared her throat.
"If you're done with the spanking I think it's someone's corner time." Margo offered. "Doesn't Mrs. Drover have a special place for that?"
Lisa nodded through her tears. With her jeans still around her ankles she waddled out of the room.
"I should go make sure she's in place." Joanne said, trailing after her babysitter.
When they were alone, Sharon turned to Margo and asked "So, when it Eileen become Mrs. Drover?"
"Back when I living at home she, well, I had a fight with my mom while she was there, and, well..." Margo said, losing her fight against her blush. "Let's just say it's hard to be on a first name basis after something like that."
"But you didn't sign a contract, so..."
"But I was playing along, and I couldn't say 'not this time' so it happened." Margo acknowledged. "It was right before I got my new job, and things weren't looking good, and I don't want to talk about it."
Joanne returned with a smile on her face.
"She knows her own way to the laundry room; I just went along to let her know I hadn't set her up, and remind her that if it had been mom it would have been worse." Joanne revealed.
"Worse than that?" Sharon gasped.
"Worse than that." Joanne nodded. "Mom would have left bruises. So, not that I'm not glad to see Lisa get her royal butt spanked, but what's going? Margo wouldn't tell me anything."
"Joanne, do you think your job search would go better if you didn't dress like a little girl?" Sharon asked.
"Think? Of course it would." Joanne snapped. "Look at me! Even if I didn't look like an irresponsible teenager everyone knows that I signed one of those contracts, and that screams 'this woman is too messed up to hire'. But what can I do? Even if I had adult clothes my mom wouldn't let me wear them. She'd toss them out in the trash."
"So, you know that I own a house? Well I just bought another bedroom set... Or to put it another way, I've got a spare room if you want to stay over until you get your life back on track."
Joanne's jaw dropped.
"I'd offer, but I can barely fit myself in my apartment." Margo added.
Joanne moved her lips, but no words came out.
"So, feel like moving tonight? Before Eileen gets back?" Sharon asked.
Joanne's lips moved again, then finally words came out.
"You're serious? Please tell me you're serious. Please tell me you're not just jerking my chain."
"I'm serious." Sharon assured her. "I had to wait until I could afford more furniture, but ..."
"I'm there! I'm so there! I'm so... I'm so happy! So happy!" Joanne squealed. "Oh my god. Oh my god. I've got to... No, I don't need to pack any clothes! Um, could you float me some cash to get some?"
"Technically no, but I can buy the clothes and let you wear them."
"Legally any money I give you has to go through your mom because the contract is still in effect, but if I happen to buy clothes and let you wear them while retaining ownership that's another matter." Sharon explained. "And I know you'll pay me back when you get a job. We can work out instalments or something."
"You mean you mean? You really mean? Oh thank god! Thank god!"
"So get whatever you want to bring with you - jewellery, toothbrush, whatever, and we can go."
"Now? We can go now? Um, what do I need? I need things, but what?" Joanne said, frowning as she tried to decide what to bring.
"I'll help you pack." Margo offered.
"Me too." Sharon added.
Since they weren't taking clothes, it didn't take that long to pack. Jewellery wasn't an issue as Eileen had confiscated all of Joanne's things (even her watch) and Sharon wasn't sure of the legalities of taking anything that wasn't in Joanne's room. Everything that Joanne wanted to bring with her fitted in a pair of bags, which fitted easily into Sharon's trunk.
"Nice car." Joanne commented as she got in.
"It is, isn't it? It's only a few years old. It was leased vehicle they couldn't lease again, and with all the deals on new cars I got this one for a song. I had to include my house in the financing, but it was worth it."
"So, we have one more thing to do before we head to Sharon's." Margo said.
"Um, what?" Joanne said nervously.
"I've got an extra bedroom, and a foldout couch." Sharon revealed. "Which means I've got room for another friend."
"And we need you to decide who." Margo told Joanne.
"You've spent more time with the rest of them we have." Sharon said. "We know that you hate living that way, and we want to know who else hates it as much as you did."
"We know that Nicole seems okay with it, but..."
"Jayne." Joanne said firmly.
"Not Deborah?" Margo asked. "Because..."
"No, Jayne." Joanne insisted. "She really, really hates being treated like a little girl. She hates it! She didn't really like being treated as a teenager, but she hates being treated as a little girl. Her mommy even bathes her. Imagine not being allowed to wash yourself. To have your mother using a facecloth everywhere. On your chest and bottom and everywhere! She hates it! And it's not just her mother; some of the other mothers do it too. Imagine, a grown women being bathed like a child! No, it has to be Jayne."
"Then Jayne it is." Sharon said, starting her car.
"But Deborah ..." Margo began.
"We said we'd leave the choice to Joanne, and she made it." Sharon said, ending the discussion.
They had to knock several times, but eventually Jayne answered the door. Sharon winced at the sight of her friend; Jayne was wearing a one-piece sleeper with a (thankfully closed) trapdoor and rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
"What are you doing here?" Jayne asked sleepily.
"Hi Jayne." Sharon said with a smile. "I've got a spare bed. Would you like to..."
"She's offering us a way out." Joanne said quickly. "Get whatever you need and come with us. We're staying at Sharon's place."
"For real?" Jayne asked, her eyes going wide. "Oh thank god! And you Sharon. Oh thank you!"
Jayne quickly changed into little into her little girl clothes, gathered what she needed, and joined them in Sharon's car.
"Nice car." Jayne commented. "Are the payments high?"
"Next to nothing." Sharon revealed. "When they're selling new cars that cheaply the used ones are a song."
"So you didn't wait build up assets before..."
"What? No, of course not." Sharon assured her. "I mean I could have let people sleep on my floor, but as soon as I could afford furniture..."
"Sorry, I didn't mean to sound cranky." Jayne said, ducking her head.
"It's all right, I didn't mean to get cross." Sharon said, wondering how she was going to handle living with the pair of them.
Of course they had to make a stop on the way to Sharon's house.
"So why are we stopping?" Jayne asked.
"To get you some new clothes." Sharon revealed. "It's not the best place to shop, but you can get real deals at these places. Don't think of it as used clothes, think of them as new to you."
"As long as they're in adult styles I'm cool with anything." Joanne said.
Of course they weren't the only ones in the store; Joanne and Jayne weren't even the only adult girls there. In fact most of the customers seemed to be clustered around tables covered with 'returnee chic' - teen and children's clothing in adult sizes.
Sharon turned her eyes from one couple. The girl was in a T-shirt and panties who was blushing as her mother held up skirts to the girl's waist. Looking away, Sharon's eye's fell on second girl who was wearing less than the first one. The second girl wore only some kind of breast harness and panties, and an older woman was holding up clothes to the blushing girl's body. Looking away from that Sharon practically walked into one of the sales assistants.
"Sorry about that." Sharon said, glancing back at the barely dressed girl.
The salesclerk followed Sharon's gaze.
"That's a reduction harness." The salec lerk informed Sharon. "It flattens and presses together, and it's a lot cheaper than cosmetic surgery. But we don't have any of them in stock; they sell out as soon as we get them in."
"Oh, well, I'm not looking for things like that. Actually my friends are looking for something a bit more mature."
The salesclerk glanced towards Joanne and Jayne and smiled.
"Okay, but they'll just be redressed when they get back home. But why not? Have yourself a girl's night out as women. And if you want to sell them back we'll be glad to offer you in store credit."
"We get a lot of 'out with the girls for the night' customers." The salesclerk informed her. "Your best bet is to let them store clothes at your place and change there; just like in high school."
"Um, yeah, that's a plan." Sharon agreed.
"Anyway, the more mature stuff is over there." The salesclerk pointed. "We've got tons of it, mostly from women who become girls. Just grab some and take them to the counter and I'll ring them up for you. I'm assuming that you're doing the buying, because your friends can't be served without their contract holder to handle their money. Unless you're the contract holder?"
"Um, no, I'm just getting them some clothes." Sharon said.
The selection available was amazing. Sharon knew that women were becoming girls, but she hadn't thought of the effects it would have on the second hand clothing business. She saw things that she wouldn't mind getting for herself, and they looked practically new. When she mentioned it to Margo, Margo just rolled her eyes.
"How could you not know? I do most of my shopping at these places."
"Sorry, but I haven't really had time to shop since I started working. All those extra hours proving that of all the lawyers looking for work they didn't make a mistake in hiring me." Sharon answered. "But look at this. And that! How can they keep things like this in stock?"
Then a small commotion near the front of the store drew Sharon's attention.
"But mom! You said I could still wear my old clothes."
"I said a lot of things Alice, but that contract says that verbal stuff doesn't matter after a contract is signed."
"But this is just temporary! Why do we have to sell everything?"
"So that when you're an adult again you can get a whole new wardrobe." The woman explained.
Alice seemed to brighten at the prospect of new clothes.
Sharon turned her attention back to a search for new clothes for Joanne and Jayne. They basically needed everything, from sleepwear to interview clothes, so it took some time. Time enough that Sharon heard another outburst from Alice.
"What do you mean? There's no way I'm taking my clothes off here. Don't they have a changing room?"
Sharon wasn't entirely surprised when the other women (the women dressed as adults as opposed to the ones dressed as girls) converged on Alice.
"Hey! Let go! Mom! They can't do this!" Alice protested.
The only effect of her protests was for a couple of swats to land on her backside, producing yelps. The women didn't stop 'lending a hand' until Alice was stripped bare. A set of full bottom panties (with flowers and butterflies on them) were put on her, replacing the pantyhose she had worn in.
"Mom! How could you let them do that to me?" Alice whined, her arms covering her chest.
"Oh, relax Alice." Her mother said reassuringly. "I used to try your clothes on this way when you were little. Those women were just helping me."
Listening, Sharon tried to remember the last time she had seen child trying on clothes outside of a dressing room; like spanking this public changing seemed far more common for returnees than kids.
"Little? Do you call these little?" Alice demanded as she hugged her bosom.
"No, and it's a good thing I brought this. They were almost out." Alice's mother said as she fished in her handbag. "Put this on."
"Do you want to go around bare-chested? Then put it on."
Alice was still protesting she put on the harness.
"Do I have to fasten it? It's really pushing down on my ..."
"Of course you do! Do I have to spank you right here?"
"What? But... but... but you said..." Alice sputtered.
Her mother answered her with a patient voice.
"I know I what I said, but I also know what was in that contract you signed. One of your problems was you never read what you signed. You didn't read the fine print of your lease, you didn't notice that balloon payment in your car loan, you didn't read that paper where you signed away most of your severance to take a job that didn't have any severance when it ended, a mere two weeks later."
"And you didn't read what was in that contract either. You don't even know that you agreed to let me put you over my lap anywhere, anytime, and with anything or nothing on your butt."
"What? I never signed that... Did I?"
Alice blushed as everyone in the store broke out laughing. Even the women dressed as girls were sniggering at how Alice's outrage ended in a question over what she had actually signed. The woman, now a girl, blushed deeper than when she had when she was stripped.
"Come on Alice, you'll feel better once you have something on. It's all right if she wears the clothes out, right?"
"With a whine like that, I'd say 12." One of the other women commented.
"Really? She sounds more like a 10 year old."
"Maybe 8 is more her speed."
"What?" Alice sputtered. "No, we said 18. 16 tops!"
Then anonymous voice called out: "But what did the contract say?" and there was another round of laughter at Alice's expenses.
"Yeah, I've seen that kind of thing before." Margo said. "Shopping at places like this you sometimes see a woman transformed into a girl. And if she resists the other women there lend a hand. Once, I saw a girl really resisting, and when they were done it didn't look like she would be able to sit for a week. It's good that this one went with the flow, not that she had much choice."
"Yeah, it's terrible, especially when the so-called mother types out number everyone else." Joanne said bitterly. "If a pack of them gets going then it doesn't matter what your contract says about public nudity. And who can you complain to? No one, that's who. No one listens to you when you're dressed like this."
"Sometimes it's better to be seen and not heard." Jayne agreed.
"Well, let's just pay for our stuff and go. Joanne, are you sure you want that outfit?"
"Anything in my size that looks adult is fine with me." Joanne assured her. "And that will look fine on job interviews."
As they paid for the clothes Sharon pointedly ignored the newly minted little girl. Alice, whoever she was, was now just another girl who had signed away her freedom along with all the confusing choices offered by the big bad world. One more girl had joined the stress free club, and since Sharon didn't know her it didn't really matter.
Sharon dropped off Margo, then headed home.
"So is it a big house?" Joanne asked.
Jayne shivered as they drove down the darken street, passed the empty houses.
"This place is scary." Jayne commented. "Where are all the people?"
"No one lives here." Sharon commented. "All these houses are vacant. Well, all except two. Mine and another one a few doors up. But don't worry, you get used it to."
"You do? But don't you practically live at the office?" Joanne asked.
"Um, yes, kind of." Sharon admitted. "Um, but there's a TV, and a computer, and a phone to arrange interviews. And my books! My books are there. Don't worry, you won't be bored. Not if you're looking for work full time."
"That I will, that I will." Joanne vowed.
"And you have a spare bed, right?" Jayne whispered.
"Yeah, the two of you get fight over who gets the bed and who gets the foldout."
"Fight?" Jayne whispered. "I don't want to fight."
"Okay, you can have the bed." Joanne said, looking away from Jayne.
"And I don't have to fight? That's good." Jayne said, relaxing.
Once they were in Sharon's house the first step was to get the two wearing adult clothing. Joanne changed privately, but Jayne wanted help changing, which embarrassed Sharon but Joanne took it in stride.
"You think this is the first time I've helped change her?" Joanne said, noticing Sharon's flushed face. "She hasn't changed herself in months. She'll need some time getting back to her old self."
"I guess. And speaking of old self, I've drawn up some legal papers that give you the right to stay here." Sharon said, trying to ignore how she was dressing her friend, something she had never done before for a friend. Well, not without the friend being completely drunk, but that was completely different.
"And we need that why?" Joanne asked.
"Because when your parents find you gone they might try to get the police involved." Sharon told her. "And with this there's no way the police can make you leave. Well, legally they shouldn't be able to make you go, but if they try this should stop them. If nothing else it will let them know that a lawyer will be calling their watch captain and demand an answer."
"So you thought of everything?" Joanne asked.
"Maybe. I hope so." Sharon replied. "If not, well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
Joanne and Jayne ended up sharing drawer and closet space, while Jayne got the bed and Joanne took the foldout. While Jayne passed out the moment her head hit the pillow Joanne and Sharon stayed up talking.
It turned out to be a good thing they did. It didn't take until morning for the girls' mothers to get the police involved, which led to an ugly confrontation. But Sharon had her facts in order, and a law degree behind her, and the cops didn't want to be involved in first place.
"No." Sharon repeated. "You can control how she spends her money, but if she has a place to live rent free you can't stop her from moving there. Slavery is still technically not legal there's no way you can take her away against her will."
"But she signed the contract!" Eileen protested.
"But she didn't sign away everything. She legally couldn't, not without getting a judge involved." Sharon pointed out.
"So if I go to a judge..."
"Then you'll have to notify him of her attorney of record, which would be me, and there's nothing you can argue in front a judge that can convince, not with lawyer there to speak for her."
At that point one of the cops chimed in, pointing out that even if Joanne didn't have a lawyer one would be appointed for any competence hearing, and how the judge was more likely to dissolve the contract than enforce it, especially if the girl had some place lined up to live.
Neither mother liked hearing that news, but with the police backing Sharon's position there wasn't anything they could do.
Morning wasn't easy. Jayne wanted help dressing, and Sharon had to choose breakfast for them all. That day she made time during her lunch break and hit a bookstore. She didn't have much time so Sharon went to one of the salespeople and asked if a certain kind of book existed and where to find it if it did.
"One of those? Yes, we carry something like that. This way."
Sharon was led to the self help section. She pointedly ignored various books proclaiming the joys of being a returnee. Book after book offering advice on how to research and adapt to the lifestyle, all hoping for that all important Oprah endorsement. The other side of the coin, the books that she was looking for, were far fewer in number. Sharon picked up "The Dummy's Guide to Returning from Returning", "Rebuilding the Adult: A Guide to Overcoming Adult Infantizing", and "Learning How To Make Choices: Coming Back From the Brink".
And pointedly ignored the women browsing the other type of books. The ones thinking about signing that contract and thought that a book would tell them what to do.
'If they need a book to tell them what to do then maybe they're better off signing the contract.' Sharon mused.
When Sharon got home that night, Joanne practically devoured the books.
"This stuff is wonderful." Joanne exclaimed as she paged through them. "All this useful advice. This makes so much sense! Of course."
"So, do you think it will help Jayne too?" Sharon asked.
"I hope so." Joanne said, then sighed. "I had to cut her food for her today. I told her she could use the knife herself, but she flinched so I cut it for her."
"So we're going to have to help her a bit more I guess." Sharon said. "Maybe a therapist?"
"Whose got the money for that?" Joanne asked. "I'm sure girlfriends staying over don't get added to your health plan. Besides, her parents would have to sign off on any medical treatment, wouldn't they?"
"Um, you might be right. For optional stuff at least." Sharon acknowledged. "And if she saw a head shrink then that could be used against her at a hearing."
"So we work hard with her, right?" Sharon asked.
"Sure. But you handle bath time tomorrow night, okay?"
"Just hold her hand or whatever until she gets used to doing it herself. Look, I handle the days and do that while doing a job search so you can... Then again, you're picking up the bills, so..."
"Oh, I'll help." Sharon said, not wanting to use her money as power over her friend. "When I can, but I work a lot so..."
"I know. Oh, and I met your neighbour. Lyn's a nice woman, but she acts like a girl."
Joanne listened in horror as Sharon explained the Gordon's living arrangements.
"No, that's just another way of handling the contract."
"But it should be illegal."
"But it isn't." Sharon pointed out.
The next night Sharon made sure she arrived home before Jayne's bedtime to help with the bath. Once there, Sharon encountered a new wrinkle. While she had been able to look away while helping Jayne change, at bath time she couldn't help but notice something about Jayne's body.
"Um, Jayne?" Sharon said, averting her eyes. "Um, if you don't mind me asking, what happened to your bush?"
"Oh that. Mommy said I shouldn't have big girl hair." Jayne said blithely. "So she took me to this clinic and they used a laser or something and made it disappear for good."
"For good." Jayne nodded. "And it really stung too. And they used it on my legs and under my arms too. They said that little girls shouldn't have hair that wasn't on their heads."
"How did your mom find a place that would do that?" Sharon asked in horror.
"Oh, they advertised." Jayne told her. "They had all sorts of big little girls going there. I met several, all women who were assigned young ages like me. A couple were even in diapers."
"So are your hair is gone for good?" Sharon asked, unable to comprehend what her friend was saying.
"Gone forever." Jayne nodded. "They said that some of it might grow back, but that it wasn't likely. But if it did happen they would give me another session at half off."
"So your mom..."
"Made me a little girl forever." Jayne said as she washed herself.
Sharon could only stare at Jayne's naked body and wonder what the world was coming to. Then she remembered what the woman at the day camp had said about hair removal, and shuddered. If she had made a mistake, a major mistake, at that camp then she might be as bare below as Jayne was.
Later, after she put Jayne to bed, Sharon sought out Joanne out.
"You knew about her pubic hair?" Sharon asked.
"You mean you're just finding out now?" Joanne asked. "Sorry, I forgot you weren't around all those times when Jayne was getting her bare bum spanked. Or hearing the moms talk. I swear I was this close to getting my own bush thinned so it looked more like a teenager's, but the price was too high. I was one good 'special offer' away from getting my hair permanently thinned, just because I foolishly signed one of those stupid returning agreements."
"That's ... that's..." Sharon searched for words. "But how can they do something that will out last the contract?"
"What? Are you serious? Anything like is okay because you don't have the right to say no while the contract is in affect. It's the law." Joanne reminded her.
"Yes, but I never thought... I mean, this is mind blowing."
"And it's something that happens all the time to returnees." Joanne said. "That's why I'm so glad that you're putting me up."
"Oh, if I known I wouldn't have waited until I had the money for the pullout. Should we invite some of the others out too?"
"No yet." Joanne said. "Seriously, some of them practically happy to be girls again, and if you set up some kind of halfway house for returnees you'll just be stirring up a hornet's nest. A couple close friends is one thing, but you can't buck the system."
"Well, if you put it that way, I guess you're right."
"Um, I hate to say anything, you've been so good to me, but, um..."
"Out with it." Sharon urged.
"Well, it's just that this house is off the bus route, so if I want to pound the pavement as I look for work I'll need a ride in or something. And if I get a job I'll need access to a car or something to get to work."
"Damn, you're right." Sharon said with a frown. "And there's no one but me to carpool with. Shit, I might need to rent another car, maybe lease one. Shit, that's going to cost..."
"Track everything you spend on me and I'll pay it back. I swear it." Joanne said, her voice quivering.
Sharon wondered at her friend's tone. It was almost fearful. Then it clicked. Joanne was worried, fearful, that Sharon would pull the plug on the rescue attempt. That she would pack Joanne off home to the tender mercies of her mother, and teen babysitter, and even getting her bush thinned forever.
"Don't worry, I can make the money work." Sharon assured her friend. "Things might get a bit tight, but I'm sure you'll pay me back someday."
"Oh, I will, I will."
"So I'll give you a ride in tomorrow, and a ride back when I'm done work, or maybe I'll just give you cab fare. Don't worry, we'll work out something."
"Thanks. I'll never forget this, never." Joanne assured her. "But what about Jayne? Can we leave her here on her own?"
"Maybe we can get Lyn to look in on her? Because I'll need to get a job so I can pay you back."
'And maintain your freedom.' Sharon thought. Aloud she said: "I know you will. Don't worry, everything will be all right. You just need to get a job and hold it for six months and you'll be free of that contract."
The next morning Sharon left Joanne cab fare, and Joanne promised to check with Lyn. While at work Sharon looked through the phonebook, and during her lunch break she went out to look at something.
Sharon was slightly nervous when she entered the Dale Arden Hair Removal Clinic. It was busy with the lunch crowd so Sharon had to wait to see someone, but eventually she was shown into a clinician's office and had an interview with Ada Morgan, PCF.
"Hello. Sorry about the wait. Now what we do for you today?"
"I'm here to find out something for a friend." Sharon explained.
"Really? Because we are completely non-judgemental here." Ada Morgan informed her.
"I'm sure. Well, you see, my friend, well, she signed a returnee contract, and her mother paid to have some hair removed..."
"I see." Ada Morgan said, glancing at Sharon's waist. "Well, if it was done here then there's nothing we can really do. We do a complete job, and laser hair removal is permanent. As in for life. So your 'friend' is going to have to get used to being bare as a baby down there. Oh, maybe a few hairs will come back, but the hair cover is gone for good."
"That's terrible. You mean that Jayne, I mean you mean my friend will never have body hair again?" Sharon asked, dropping the name to convince Ada that this information really was for a friend.
"That's what I mean." Ada Gordon answered. "Maybe if you see the process you'll understand it better. And who knows? Maybe you'll discover a few hairs that you want to get rid of."
"Could we? I mean, isn't it private?"
"We don't have enough booths to make it completely private. If you'll follow me I'll show you what happens to the girls."
Sharon could barely believe it as she was led from the office to a room with six tables. Four of them had nude women on them, and another girl was taking off her Mary Janes in preparation for her session. Glancing around, Sharon saw discarded little girl clothes. She also saw restraints on the tables.
"Why are they tied down?" Sharon discreetly asked.
"Oh, the process can be a painful so we have to make sure that no one moves around too much." Ada Gordon said. "It's purely voluntary."
"But I don't want my hair taken off." Whined the girl who was stripping.
"You get your tail on that table or you'll get your red tail on the table."
"That's voluntarily?" Sharon inquired.
"The decision maker made the decision, so it's classed as voluntary." Ada Gordon explained. "We don't spank them ourselves, but if someone wants to spank a girl to get her on a table that's up to them. Either way we charge for session, they have to pay for the table even if it's not used."
"Which encourages the woman to get the girl on the table." Sharon nodded.
Watching what was happening, Sharon had to force herself not to wince. Most of the girls were whimpering as hair was removed, and it was being removed from a very, very sensitive place. Sharon knew she would never get it done and hoped that Jayne's process hadn't been as painful.
"I see we have a free table if you'd like to use." Ada Gordon pointed out.
"I mean you could climb up on that table and we'd strap you down and start the hair removal." Ada Gordon elaborated. "It would have to be the first of several sessions, but it would be a start."
"Oh, you'd be surprised how many business women have that hair taken care of." Ada Gordon said. "Or at least shaped."
"Um, well I'm on my lunch, so..."
"Time can be an issue." Ada Gordon agreed. "Perhaps you can book an evening appointment?"
"I don't think so. It does look painful." Sharon observed.
"It's not that bad." Ada Gordon noted.
"So you've had it done?" Sharon asked.
"Well, I've only had my legs done." Ada Gordon admitted. "But that allowed me to sample the process. Well, if you wait you can watch and see how things go."
Sharon nodded, and stayed to see how the girls were taking it. It looked painful, and the girls were whimpering.
Then something happened that surprised Sharon. A professionally dressed woman entered the room and, after removing her business suit, climbed up on the free table.
"Will this take long?" The woman asked the attendant who was securing her to the table.
"Oh, this is just the first of several sessions."
Sharon watched as the woman twitched under the laser.
"Okay, that's enough. I've changed my mind." The businesswoman declared. "Hello? Did you hear me? I want off."
"I'm sorry." The attendant told her. "But I'm not authorised to remove people from the table."
Sharon watched as the woman protested, and her protests were ignored. Then Sharon left so she could get back to the office in time. As she left the businesswoman's protests were still being ignored.
'That whole business is crazy.' Sharon thought to herself as she left the building.
When she returned home that night she discovered that Lyn had volunteered to keep an eye on Jayne.
"She says she used to baby sit as a teen, and this is just like that." Joanne recounted. "And I was able to get around to a lot companies, get my face out there. I think this is really going to work out."
"Lyn said that?" Sharon asked.
"Well what do you expect? She's bought into the program; even more than Nicole. I'm sure Nicole would never let a husband or boyfriend spank her."
"Maybe not." Sharon agreed. "So, let's run those numbers and see if a leased car is cheaper than cabs."
It wasn't, at least not when Sharon looked at it, so they decided to keep to the cabs.
So a routine started. Sharon would leave in the morning and come home whenever. Joanne would use the computer to search for jobs, and then take a cab to drop off résumés in person, while Jayne worked her way through the books and used the computer for her job search. It wasn't easy, three women living on a single income, but Sharon worked hard at balancing the budget.
Then an offhanded comment shifted the household's dynamics. Sharon was eating takeout after another long week at the office when Jayne spoke up.
"Oprah had another show on returnees today." Jayne commented. "And this time of the returnees talked back to her, so with the girl's mother's permission Oprah took her over her lap and started spanking her. Imagine, Oprah dishing out a spanking."
"I thought you were on the computer looking for work." Sharon commented.
"Oh I was, but after Joanne left and Lyn came by we ended up watching TV. There's a lot of good shows in the daytime."
"But ... You mean you stopped looking for work and watched Oprah?" Sharon asked in disbelief. "I work hard everyday, and you sit at home in your PJs watching TV? How could you?"
"Well you don't like it, maybe you should do something about it?" Jayne suggested.
"Like what? I've talked myself blue in the face and it doesn't seem to work." Sharon growled.
"Well, you always spank me."
Normally the suggestion would have shocked Sharon, but after a soul-numbing week at the office, to discover that Jayne wasn't even looking for work....
Sharon didn't think she made a conscious decision, but suddenly Jayne was over her lap with her PJs pulled down. Once more Sharon felt the stress leaving her body as she smacked the white out of a bum, but this was different. Sharon could (and did) tell herself that Lisa was young enough maybe to deserve spankings, but Jayne was a grown woman. She might not be acting it but she was Sharon's own age, and Sharon was treating her like a naughty little girl. And Jayne was acting like a naughty little girl, kicking and squealing, but making no real effort to resist.
When Sharon finally finished Jayne toddled off to a corner without being told, and (after taking a deep breath) Sharon went to find Joanne.
"You heard?" Sharon asked.
"How could I not? Oh, not what started it, but the spanking? Sure." Joanne said nonchalantly.
"I didn't want to, and then... She drove me to it! She spent the day watching TV in her PJs! While I was working and you were looking for work she was lounging around doing nothing."
"One of the books mentioned something about that." Joanne said neutrally, as if she hadn't started wondering if Sharon was going to start spanking both her houseguests. "It said that sometime, when they've been made to act young enough, a girl has to be driven back to womanhood. It specifically talked about setting realistic goals and a sore bum if those goals aren't met. But off course it was only for those who had become little girls, not for those of us who stayed as teens."
Sharon nodded, then said: "Maybe you should get out that book."
The next day, Saturday, the three women sat down for a long talk. Sharon spelled out specific goals, including being out of bed by eight and dressed by nine, and Jayne agreed to all of them.
"Now if you don't this then, well, you'll get a sore bum." Sharon threatened, hoping that she wouldn't need to make good that threat.
"But what about those days when you and Joanne are both out?" Jayne asked. "What happens then?"
"It's good you're thinking about eventualities on your own." Joanne said encouragingly. "As for when we're both out, we can ask Lyn to check on you."
Lyn, it turned out, was all for the idea.
"Checking on her regularly will give me something to do besides clean and watch TV all day." Lyn explained. "Human contact. Living here, cut off from the world, it will be good to have something to do."
"And if she doesn't complete her list..." Sharon started.
"Oh, don't worry there." Lyn assured her. "Back when I was babysitting kids I sometimes had spanking privileges. Not that I had them from many parents or used them all the time, but I dished them out when needed. It's going to be weird, with Jayne being a couple years older, but I'm sure I can handle things. So is it just for Jayne, or..."
"Jayne is the only one that needs this special motivation." Joanne said, breaking into the conversation. "And you'll only be in charge of her when neither of us are there."
"Got it. No problem." Lyn said with a smile.
Sharon didn't think that smile bolded well for Jayne's backside, but she needed to do something to get her friend back on the road to recovery. Drastic times called for drastic measures, and they didn't get much more drastic than this.
Of course it wasn't long before Sharon returned home to find that Lyn had put some colour Jayne's bum. Not that it would have been obvious if Jayne's shorts weren't off. But they were off and there was red peaking out from Jayne's panties. Without that clue though, Sharon wouldn't be able to tell; the two of them were talking and carrying on like old friends. Like young girls who were friends, but still friends. Curious, Sharon waited until Jayne left for the bathroom before asking Lyn about it.
"Oh, that's nothing new." Lyn assured her. "Back when I babysat I always tried to stay friends with the kids I sat for. Even when I had to swat I tried to stay friends with them, and Jayne's easy to be friends with. She agrees with everything I say."
"Yeah, that's one of the problems." Sharon noted. "She's too agreeable. She needs to work on that."
"You mean she has to do homework or something?" Lyn asked.
"Or something." Sharon commented dryly. "Exercises designed to build her decision making capability."
"Then I can make sure she does them." Lyn declared as Jayne returned to the room. "Or her bottom pays. It the same like I used to do with a couple of kids and their homework."
Sharon went to say that spanking independence into someone wouldn't work, but stopped herself. Maybe that was just the kind of thing that Jayne needed to help her take those first, crucial steps, and supervising the lessons might do Lyn some good as well. Maybe both girls would learn how to be woman, or maybe... in any case, it didn't seem that it would hurt.
"Speaking of spankings, what do you think of switches?" Lyn asked.
"Well, I don't think they are appropriate for Jayne, at least not right now." Sharon stalled, remembering that Lyn was sometimes switched.
"Well in that case I'll stick to my hand." Lyn assured the woman. "Or maybe something else? You didn't say, and since you can't take back a hiding I thought I'd keep it simple."
"A hand is good." Sharon nodded. "So, did anything major happen in the world while I was out?"
"Um, well, the state secretary, I mean the secretary of state, made the news." Lyn offered.
"What did she do? Achieve peace in the Middle East?"
"No, she brought her little girl to a woman's caucus meeting and when the girl acted up she spanked her." Lyn informed her.
"What?" Sharon asked.
"Spanked her hard." Jayne confirmed.
Sharon flipped on the TV, and it didn't take long to find someone covering it. Sharon could only stare at the picture on the screen: The Secretary of State was behind a podium which obscured some of what was happening, but Sharon could see the hairbrush bouncing off the daughter's panties as the commentators made wry comments. When it was over the Secretary of State helped the girl to her feet, then reached under her skirt to remove the floral panties the girl had been wearing, partly flashing the girl's red cheeks as she did. The panties then went in the Secretary of State's purse while the girl (who was really a woman who had graduated collage) was sent to face a corner.
Sharon watched in amazement as the camera switched back to the anchor desk. A woman had just been spanked on her bum in front of half the nation (not to mention a smirking live audience) and neither of the anchors were taking it seriously. Instead they were joking around, kidding about how the woman would feel on her flight back to Washington. How her mother removing her panties must be getting her ready for next time "And she won't want that". Jokes like those, and commenting on the Secretary of State's motives.
"No, we didn't see what caused it, but know the result. She's really forged a bond with the common man today."
"Yeah, she's become a regular Jane Six-Pack. So, did your mom ever..."
"Well if she did then that's between her and me. Coming up next, the Dow's moving again, but is it up or down? Stay tuned for today's economy results."
Sharon turned off the news, amazed at what happened.
'What is the world coming to?' Sharon wondered.
The next morning the news was all over the office, with opinion being split. Some felt that the Secretary of State was catering too much to the lowest common denomination (risking her core supporters) while others felt the woman was just reaching for the political centre. Sharon kept her ears open, but at no time did she hear anyone coming down against the returnee movement; people were debating how yesterday's actions played politically, but they all seemed to accept the premise that a grown woman could be put over a maternal lap in public. Everyone was looking at what had happened on a political level, not looking at it as something that could be right or wrong.
The oddest comments Sharon heard came from the lowest level. She heard a few of the secretaries (who ranked even below the lowest of the paralegals) talking in a break room, and giggling over having seen a spanking delivered on the news stations.
"I wonder if she deserved it?"
"Probably." One nodded sagely. "Those rich girls always deserve it for something."
"Yeah, she's rich. So why did she sign that contract? She could have lived on her own. She has to have the money."
"Maybe it's all political." Suggested the sage one. "That's what I heard someone say."
"Political? How is a spanking political?"
"It's just painful."
"So would you ever, you know, sign a contract?"
"To get out of rent? Maybe."
"What?" "You wouldn't?" "For real?"
"I heard..." The sage one began, learning closer and lowering her voice (but only slightly). "I head that one of the girls at the Langely firm signed one of those contracts and her parents still let her work, but..."
"But they gave her boss spanking privileges."
A fresh round of giggles took the group, and Sharon walked away before anyone could notice her listening to their chitchat. Not that any of her co-workers would judge her for the act of eavesdropping, but they might judge her for who she was listening to. Being attentive to a partner, or a senior associate, was one thing, but listening in to the lowest of the low, well, that was just being tacky.
'A boss spanking a secretary?' Sharon wondered. 'That's something right out of the fifties. It's practically barbaric.'
Barbaric, yet slowly becoming accepted.
About a week later, Joanne came home with wonderful news.
"So it's not the best job, but it is a job." Joanne beamed. "I wanted to tell you about the interview, but I didn't want to jinx it."
"That's wonderful!" Sharon squealed. "I'll get the glasses and you breakout the wine."
Partway through the celebration, Jayne asked a question that brought them all down to earth.
"So how did you get your mom to sign the forms at your new job?"
Joanne winced, and admitted she hadn't.
"But all the money is being direct deposited into my bank account, so my parents are getting it, so..."
"Oh, that would be legal." Sharon assured her friends. "What? You don't think I researched that? You think I'd invite the two of you to live here without knowing that you could work without a note from mommy?"
"Um, speaking about getting things from mommy, I don't think she'd let me get a car, and I kind of need one to get to work." Joanne mumbled.
Sharon thought about asking Eileen for anything that might make Joanne's return to the workplace more likely, and had to agree.
"So you can't buy or lease a car..." Sharon commented. "Well, all right, I'll see what I can do. And insurance! I'll have to insure the car in my name and add you to the rider, like you were 16 or something."
"I'll totally pay you back." Joanne assured her. "You'll get every penny, but you'll have to wait. Once I have six months on the job, then I'll have access to six months of salary all at once... And the rest of my money! All of my severance pay is in my account, and all of my savings, and everything else. But, um, I can't sign any contracts, so..."
"Oh, don't worry. I trust you." Sharon responded. "And I'm sure I can make the money work. And a second car would be convenient."
"So should I get a job too?" Jayne asked.
"Of course you should." Sharon told her.
"Definitely. The faster you can find work the faster you'll be out of that contract."
The next day, after work, Sharon and Joanne went to a used car lot. Sharon winced at the extra debt, but with new car prices so low she was able to pick up a used one for next to nothing.
'I just hope that I won't need a third one.' Sharon thought as she signed the papers. 'If Jayne needs one... I'd need a raise. A major raise.'
And a raise wasn't in cards. Maybe a cost of living adjustment, but nothing like a real raise.
The extra debt was stressful, more than she thought it would be. When the monthly bills came in and the math became real dollars and cents, Sharon almost lost it. Part of her wanted to buy a large bottle of bourbon, another part to run screaming down the empty street, a third part wanted to sell Joanne's car and kick her roommates out, but she resisted all of those impulses.
Then Jayne made the mistake of requesting a new brand of snacks "because they looked so good on the commercial" and (knowing that Jayne was watching TV rather than job searching) Sharon lost it. Before she knew it, Sharon had Jayne's bum bared and over her lap. Smacking away, watching as Jayne's cheeks jiggled, Sharon felt in control once more.
Then she came to her senses and helped Jayne off her lap.
"Sorry about." Sharon muttered. "It's just that the bills and all, and all the money going out, and me being the only one bringing in a paycheque... It's hard. Being grown up is hard, but it's something I am."
Jayne pulled up her panties and rubbed at her sore tail.
"I understand." Jayne assured. "And being grown up is hard. So about those snacks..."
Which was when Sharon discovered that she had only thought she had lost it before. She grabbed her friend by the ear and dragged Jayne upstairs to the master bedroom and, once there, started putting what until tonight had been a mere styling aid to a different use. Bouncing the wooden hairbrush off of Jayne's backside gave Sharon a sense of satisfaction, of control, that was missing in her life. Sharon was stuck in a dead-end (abet well paying) job, living in a house in the middle of a dead zone (which she probably couldn't sell), making two sets of car payments (and paying two insurance bills), acting as sole breadwinner for three people, but right now she was in total control. She was the one making Jayne squeal and kick like a little girl. She was hearing the satisfying smack of wood on a bottom cheek, which drown out countless memories of the snide putdowns and backhanded complements that she got at work.
Marching Jayne into the corner, Sharon told herself that she should feel bad about what she had done, but she found she couldn't.
That was the first time Sharon used a brush on her junior roommate, but not the last. Joannie sometimes joked that it was Sharon's version of PMS, but these hairbrush sessions were practically monthly events - and always right around the time the bills came in.
A few months later, on a Thursday, Sharon was called into a conference, and it took every trick she had picked up to keep her face expressionless... or as expressionless as she could manage.
'It's just another client.' Sharon told herself. 'Just another client, and just another contract. And why couldn't someone else be the firm's expert on returning child contracts?'
As Sharon told herself it was just another client, she knew she was lying.
'But I need this job too much.' Sharon told herself.
And in that, she wasn't lying. If she lost this job it would doom Joannie and Jayne, and Sharon might have to move home herself. She would almost certainly lose her house and cars and everything else, and that was too much to risk.
Too much to risk for anything. Especially for a fool.
That night Sharon returned home to discover that a real breakthrough had been made.
"I'm not complaining, not really, it's just that well... Well I don't think that Lyn should be able to spank me." Jayne revealed. "I mean I'm older than she is, and she still gets spanked at home, so...um..."
"So you don't think she has the right to spank you?" Sharon prompted.
"Yeah, that." Jayne answered, biting at her lower lip.
"So why did she spank you?" Sharon asked.
"Um, why do you think that she..." Jayne asked, digging her toe into carpet.
"Because if she didn't spank you today then you wouldn't be complaining about it." Sharon reasoned, wondering if logic was becoming a lost art form.
"Um, well, she said how her husband had had to switch her, and showed me the marks, and then I said something about that being weird, her husband switching her, and she got made and then she spanked me! For no reason... Okay, maybe I gave her some lip, but that was no reason ..."
"It wasn't." Joanne agreed. "Maybe we should have a talk with her?"
"I will." Sharon nodded. "She respects me more than you two, because I never signed a contract. I'll have a little talk, but, it's wonderful that you realise that you shouldn't be spanked for no reason."
As she said that, Sharon felt a niggling of guilt over those month end spankings that technically Jayne hadn't really deserved.
"Yes, you're really making progress!" Joanne said with an encouraging hug. "And I know something that might help you make more. Wait a sec, I'll be right back."
As a jubilant Joanne went to get something, Sharon decided that she would keep her news to herself. This was too happy a day to spoil with bad news.
Joanne returned with something hairy in her hand.
"This is something that one of the books said could help you readjust." Joanne said as she presented it to Jayne.
"Thanks! This is wonderful! Um, what is it?" Jayne asked.
"It's a merkin." Joanne revealed.
"A wig for down there. Your hair might never come back in, but with this at least you'll look like an adult again."
"A wig for where?"
Much laughter followed, and more than a bit of wine (more than was sensible for a weeknight), and by the end of the evening Jayne was modelling her new merkin.
"It's fuller than my old one." Jayne giggled.
"Maybe we should thin it out?"
"No, I like it the way it is. Take that mommy! Little Jaynie has big girl hair again!" Jayne giggled.
"Ouch, Lyn really did a number on you." Sharon commented, looking at Jayne's bum. "And that was with only her hand?"
"Um, well, she kind of started using a brush the same time you did." Jayne admitted. "I kind of told her about it, and well..."
"But I told her hand only! We agree!" Sharon snorted indignantly. "That was the only way I'd give her permission to spank you at all."
"I guess that's another reason to talk to her." Joanne noted drunkenly. "Fuck! Is that the time? Some of us have to work in the morning."
"Oh fuck! Oh god, I have to do the math. How much have I had. I need to work this out. It's an hour per drink and ... Fuck, I can't afford a DUI." Sharon said, putting down her glass. "How much have I had?"
"Don't worry, four or five hours and you'll be clean." Joanne assured her. "But we've got to get to bed."
Friday came and went in a blur. Sharon had often pitied the drinkers who went through the workday with hangovers, and vowed not to rejoin their ranks. As the day dragged on and Sharon became slightly more aware, she tried to show more initiative. But it was hard; she was still partly hung over and had only a few hours of sleep.
At around six, Sharon finally found something intelligent to say to Ed Pendleton. They were working on yet another meaningless case when Sharon came up with what she hoped was a witty comment.
"So, did your niece ever get out of her contract?" Sharon asked.
"Um, what? Oh, that." Ed Pendleton said, lifting his mind from the current contract. "Oh, that. No, she hasn't. There's a new theory out there. I'm not sure if I follow it, but it's something about how some females grow into women who can handle their adult lives, and how some need extra time to grow up. Say another twenty years or so. It doesn't make much sense to me, but some people believe it. Anyway, she's trying to convince her parents she's one of the first types, but they're not listening to her. Something about how no one from that first type would ever sign a returnee contract. So it looks like she's stuck with her choice. At least until she picks up some maturity. So, about clause eight..."
Sharon nodded and (witty repartee over) returned to the grunt work that was her legal career.
That Saturday, Sharon booked off work early so she could have a little talk. While she told Joanne and Jayne that she would be talking with Lyn, Sharon first talked with Ronnie. A nice, peaceful, reasonable talk with Ronnie. Ronnie was more than reasonable, and acknowledged that Sharon was the one to set limits as far as Jayne was concerned. After talking with Ronnie, the talk with Lyn didn't go as Sharon planned.
Sharon had planned to use logic, reason, and the fact that (unlike Lyn) Sharon had never signed any returnee contract. After the talk with Ronnie, things went differently. Sharon had pictured a nice, orderly talk, not sending Lyn out to cut a switch.
But Lyn seemed to have no problem with Sharon telling her to cut a switch (at least none while Ronnie there to give Lyn a disappointed look), or baring her bum. Sharon found it slightly surreal to watch Lyn neatly folding her slacks and underwear, but once Lyn was ready and bent over the arm of the couch, Sharon found the switch easy to use. She was able to swing her arm as much as she wanted, and the 'Swish Th-wack' was an interesting sound to hear. Especially with Lyn's exclamations mixed in with it. As she swung the switch, Sharon found herself wondering if Jayne could use the occasional switching.
'I shouldn't even be thinking that.' Sharon thought as she left another welt on Lyn's bum.
That afternoon, Sharon thought of a way to deal with her guilt. Not that it helped much, but it take care of some of her regrets.
Which didn't help with Sharon's big problem; how to live with herself after what she was doing to going to do. What she was doing, because, it was her job.
'It's not like I'm working at Auschwich.' Sharon assured herself as she worked on the paperwork. 'It's legal even if it isn't exactly moral. And if it isn't moral, then it's still covered under professional ethics, and I don't have a choice about following those rules.'
Sharon sighed deeply, fixed her face, and hoped she looked professional. Then took a deep breath and entered the conference room.
Smiling faces met her, including one that looked strangely hopeful.
"Hello there Sharon." Julie Saxon greeted Sharon with smile. "I think we're ready here."
"Hi Sharon." Lois said sheepishly. "How's it going?"
"Oh, it's going as well as it should be." Sharon replied, hoping to show a grin as she nodded hello to the senior associated in the room. "I guess we're both sorry we're here today."
"Then you're wrong." Lois beamed. "This is so much better than going bankrupt. Maybe I should have cut back when my benefits ran out, but cutting back isn't like me, is it? Besides, they were extended so often I thought that if I appealed again they'd come back, with back pay, but they didn't."
"I guess not." Sharon agreed.
"So let's do this." Julie instructed, giving her friend's daughter a look.
Sharon's weak smile stayed on as she spread the papers around.
"If you'll sign here, and here, and initial here and here." Sharon instructed. "Good, well, it's official now."
"All it t's crossed and I's dotted?" Julie asked with a smile. She opened an overnight bag and said: "Well, in that case, I do believe it's time that someone changed her new clothes."
"Um, this thing does give her control over my wardrobe, doesn't it?" Lois asked, unbuttoning the jacket of her business suit.
"Of course it does." Sharon nodded. "You just acknowledge that by initialling there."
Lois forced a smile on her face as she removed her jacket, and then undid her blouse.
"The rest." Julie instructed, reaching into her purse.
"Of course." Lois nodded.
Sharon watched as Lois removed her skirt, folded it, and laid it on top of her blouse and jacket.
"This conference room is soundproof, right?" Julie asked.
"More or less." The associate asserted.
"It won't be the first time that something like that has happened here." Sharon confirmed, trying to avoid thinking of all the women who were stripped of their rights (and then their panties for a spanking) in this room.
"Um, shouldn't you point out something before she uses that?" Lois asked, looking to Sharon.
"Point out what?" Sharon asked in confusion.
"Point out the surprise that you inserted in the contract." Lois said with a smile. "It wasn't in the wardrobe section, so it had to be in the CP section."
Lois' words shocked everyone one in the room. The reaction was universal.
Sharon wasn't sure which of them said the word first, so she quickly added: "Surprise? Why would I add a surprise?"
"Because we're friends." Lois beamed. "That's why I insisted on using this law firm."
"Lois, I don't know what you expected." Sharon said, choosing her words carefully. "I'm lawyer, and when I'm called upon to perform legal work I do it. If I were to do something untoward then it would be legal malpractice, and that would be actionable. I hope I haven't done anything that would imply that I disregard my legal responsibilities to my clients. If so, I'm sorry for anything I may have done that misled you."
Lois' smile wavered, then reasserted itself.
"Sharon, you're a kidder. I'm sure you inserted something in the fine print to protect me."
"Lois, we went over the contract together." Sharon said slowly. "I explained the ramifications. The contract uses clear language and spells out what can happen after you sign it."
"Sharon, stop kidding around." Lois urged.
"Lois, I'm not kidding around." Sharon said slowly.
"Come on, stop it."
"I'm not kidding." Sharon repeated.
"But, um, but does that mean that mom can use that hairbrush?" Lois asked nervously.
"You just initialled the space beside that section of the contract." Sharon reminded her. "It's right there in black and white."
"But... But..." Lois sputtered.
"It looks like it's your butt." Julie smiled. "Finally. After all that waiting I'm going to join the latest Oprah club. I'm only sorry that Margaret isn't joining too."
"Um, but Sharon... Come on Sharon, you're the only reason I signed that stupid thing. Think of something." Lois urged.
"The only reason? What about your crushing debt?" Julie probed.
"I'm sorry, but there's nothing I can do." Sharon explained. "You signed the contract."
"And ran up those bills." Julie pointed out. "You owe over ten grand on that one credit card alone! And there's your other cards, and breaking that lease, that you renewed after you lost your job, and that line of credit. Even your chequing account is overdrawn."
"But I thought..." Lois muttered.
"Now I've got some sailor print panties for you, so get those pantyhose off so you can be ready to put those on. They're be waiting for you after the brush is done." Julie told her daughter.
With training in the law comes discretion, and lawyer know when their clients don't want them around (not that it stops them for billing for the time). The associate was the first to speak.
"Perhaps it's time we left."
Sharon nodded her agreement with the associate's statement, rose, and left the room with her.
"Of course not." Sharon snapped, ignoring the few muffled sounds that escaped the from the conference room. "She might be a friend, but I'm not going to throw away my professional career over a little thing like that. Besides, if she didn't want her bottom slapped then she wouldn't have signed that contract."
"True. I swear, it's like some women want to be little girls again, sore bottoms or not. I had enough of that the first time around, but as long as they're paying us they get professional legal services."
Sharon felt dirty about what had happened, but there was nothing she could about it. A signed contract was a signed contract, and whoever was looking after Lois would be responsible for the girl's debt. As word spread, Joanne and Jayne understood that Sharon didn't have a choice. Others were more judgmental, but when Sharon asked what else could she have done they all drew blanks.
But life goes on. It does. Sharon slowly accepted how the world was changing. The Secretary of State might have been the first politician to embrace the returnee movement, but she wasn't the last. A woman governor was the next, then came the congressman who pulled his returning daughter over his lap a fundraising BBQ, and things spread from there. A few daughters (or granddaughters) were even pressured to quit fulltime jobs just so a parent could score a few political points by having a returnee around. Gossip columns were full of hints that certain people (politicians, celebrities, business people who smoozed a lot) had even hired women to play the part of a returnee for them - all for the connections it could be bring. Women, living the lives of young girls, just to score a few brownie points or for cash - Sharon could barely comprehend it, but it was life in these modern days.
But even in new worlds, traditions remained.
Sharon sipped at her drink and wondered at the difference a mere year had made. Last year Sharon hadn't heard of the returnee movement, and now she had two living with her. Sharon was sitting there with Joanne Drover, Jayne Drake, Nicole Stewart, Deborah Madison, April Scott, Margo Reinhart, and Lois Saxon once more. This time there were more 'adults' at the table - and this time Sharon could easily tell which was which.
Sharon was dressed to kill (hoping that no one knew she had bought her clothes at a used clothing store - benefiting from a professional woman who had become a returnee), Margo who had never shifted, and Joanne looking nice from her new job. Jayne was finally looking comfortable in adult clothing, and there was Deborah (no longer Debbie) who now stayed at Sharon's - thanks to Joanne's honesty. Sharon hadn't really expected Joanne to come through, but the woman had come through. When her six months at work had ended Joanne had regained access to her accounts (and the money she had been earning) as a lump sum. She hadn't just paid Sharon back, she had paid her back with simple interest and taken over the loan for the second car. Which had paid for the third car, the one that Jayne now drove. That money had funded Deborah's rescue and helped fund Jayne's recovery.
Along with the women there were the girls at table. Nikki, April, and Lois were all dressed young. Nikki seemed happy not to have an adult care in the world, April accepting of her new role, and Lois, well, Lois was dressed like a very little girl, and clearly not liking it, but there none the less.
Sharon still felt a bit of regret over Lois' fate, but there was nothing she could do about it. Lois had sealed her fate with her huge debt load; if Jayne and Deborah both paid Sharon back with interest then maybe, but no, that wouldn't be enough. Sharon would have to go without her salary for months, and months, and then some if she tried to take on Lois' debt load. Lois was a friend, a good friend, but no one was that good a friend. Tens of thousands of dollars, well, that much money didn't grow on trees. Maybe if Lois' parents paid off most of Lois' debts, but Sharon wouldn't know how much (or how little) Lois owed with asking Lois' parents, and Sharon knew that Julie wasn't going to tell her anything about Lois' current debt level.
Sharon knew that for a fact. Practically the only thing she didn't know was the state of Lois' bush. She suspected that Lois didn't have anything more than Jayne (sans merkin) did, but she didn't know for sure.
'But she did sign that contract.' Sharon told herself. 'And she did it willingly. She ran up those debts and agreed that her mommy and daddy could pay them off. A woman, a real adult, would have declared bankruptcy and dealt with the consequences. Lois avoided bankruptcy, and she knew the price when she made her choice. And she should have known that I couldn't fix the legal stuff for her.'
"So, have you found a job yet?" Joanne asked.
"No, but I'm still looking." Deborah answered. "And Sharon, thanks again for the chance."
"So how is Lyn doing?" Joanne asked.
"Oh, don't remind me." Deborah said, faking a rub at her backside. "She's still the same."
"But I'm sure you'll find a job soon." Sharon said, hoping that she was being encouraging.
"Of course. It's just a matter of time." Deborah nodded.
"Must be nice." Lois said crankily. "Wearing big girl clothes all the time."
"You made a choice." Sharon responded.
"Yeah, some choice." Lois snorted.
Sharon didn't understand that choice either. The three times she had visited day camps (the second time being the day she switched Lyn) hadn't given Sharon any real insight into why someone would make that choice. She'd gotten three sore bottoms (including one that involved bruises), but no real insight into the returnee mindset.
As for the world at large, it seemed to accept that some women preferred to live life as little girls rather than embracing adulthood. It was even showing up in sitcoms; Sharon had one where an adult returnee had gotten spanked and (red faced, teary-eyed, and rubbing her sore bum) turned to grinning juvenile (and thus unspankable) co-star and said: "Just wait until you're adult and have to come back home. Then you'll know how it feels." - as if women being spanked should be taken as a matter of daily life.
Which underscored the paradox of the returnee movement; so very few children were getting their tales tanned these days, but those women who returned home got their tales tanned on a regular basis. Returning to childhood seemed to bring spankings that weren't given to children when they actually were children, just adult women. And a few men, but the average male (with his increased muscle mass) seemed a poor choice for a person try to force over a maternal knee. A few seemed to go in for it, but they were true minority when compared to the women returnees. Sharon wondered if there was a true different between the sexes; while there were day camps for women who were looking to get in touch with their inner child none existed for men who want to walk on the dark side.
"So who's for another round?" Lois asked.
"Um, mommy said only one drink." Nicole (who even Sharon was beginning to think as Nikki) said.
"Screw them." Lois declared, sounding more mature than she looked in her short skirt, reduction harness, and Mary Jane's. "If I want another round then I'll have another round. Err, if someone is buying? Because I've barely got enough for lunch. My mommy wouldn't... I mean my mother wouldn't give me more than enough money to pay for a basic lunch."
"Oh, it's my call." Sharon called. "It's the least I can do."
"No, it's mine." Joanne replied. "Really, it's the least I can do, what with what you've done for me."
"Then I've got next call." Jayne insisted. "I mean, it will be, as soon as I get my six months in and get my back pay. Um, if someone doesn't mind spotting me for a while?"
"Then I've got it." Joanne insisted.
"No, I'll cover it." Margo insisted. "I'm the only one who's been working steady. Well, other than Sharon."
"To Sharon." Deborah said, lifting her drink.
"To Sharon." Agreed Joanne.
"Um, yeah." Jayne agreed, raising her glass.
"Then I'll get the next round." Sharon volunteered.
Another round later (which included a carafe of wine for later enjoyment) Sharon was toasted as the liberator of three of her friends. Even Nikki (who seemed happy being a girl) joined in.
Lois downed her drink, then poured another (putting wine into an old fashion glass) from the communal carafe and downed that.
"I'm off to the little girl's room." Lois declared.
Sharon pretended not to notice the activity at the other table. Last year she had thought the presence of certain mothers had been a coincidence, but this year Sharon was ignoring the hateful stares from three of the women sitting at the other table. As if it was her fault that their daughters weren't fans of the returnee system.
She tried her best to be virtuous, but after seeing that Lois had been followed into the woman's room, Sharon couldn't resist answering a call of nature herself. She thought briefly about timing, but when she reached the lady's room Sharon saw that she couldn't have time it better.
There was Lois, her little girl dress discarded. With her panties, socks, and shoes piled to one side all she was wearing was a reduction harness - and sour expression on her face.
"Oh, don't mind me." Sharon said, heading for one of the stalls.
Julie Saxon barely took note of Sharon's presence, but Lois turned and gave her friend a pitiful look. During that turn, in the brief moment before Sharon reached the stall, Sharon saw enough to know that the Dale Arden Hair Removal Clinic (or one of its competitors) had seen another client. Of course it might just be a wax job, but Sharon doubted that Lois' mother would skimp on something like that. Sharon was sure that, barring a merkin, Lois would be bare down there for the rest of her life.
Sharon finished her business, and left while the smacking was still going on. A brief glance at the colour of her friend's backside told Sharon that Lois wouldn't feel much like sitting, but Sharon tried to put that out her mind as she washed and left.
'It's just another returnee getting her bum smacked.' Sharon told herself. 'Just like countless others I've seen. That fact that's it's Lois shouldn't make a difference.'
But it did.
Then Sharon was back in her chair, sipping on another drink and wondering if they should turn lunch into a girl's night out. Herself, Margo, Joanne, Jayne, and Deborah could really make a night of it. Well, Sharon knew that if Deborah valued her ass that she would agree with any suggestion that Sharon made - Deborah having replaced Jayne as the 'my monthly bill are WHAT?' stress reliever - when she saw Lois limp back to the table. The pride that her friend tried to show, how she fought wincing as she sat, made Sharon want to help Lois throw off the shackles of returneehood.
Then Sharon remembered Lois' outstanding debt, and merely bought another round (adding another carafe to the half-full one on the table).
"Here's to friendship." Sharon toasted. "Friends to the end."
Watching Lois downing another drink, Sharon couldn't help but picture what would happen when Lois returned home that night. Part of her felt sorry for her friend, but another part wondered how it would feel to hoist Lois over her lap.
And another, internally silenced, part wondered what it would feel like to go over Julie Saxon's lap, but Sharon ignored that inner voice.
'Maybe I'll take a fourth trip to day camp.' Sharon pondered as she gulped down another swallow. 'But maybe not.'
The next yearly ritual saw no change between those dressed as women and those dressed a girls, but that time Sharon didn't hesitate to take a mouthy Nikki into the woman's rooms to give the little brat a hot bottom. Returning with a red faced Nikki, Sharon wondered how she could have ever have questioned the wisdom of the returnee system.
For others at least. Sharon knew she would never make the journey back, but for some (like Nikki and Lyn) it worked. And, thanks to be the system's acceptance, you didn't have to be a mommy to spank a grown girl's little tail. Regaining her seat, Sharon wondered if Lois or April would be the next girl over her lap, or whether it would be Lyn again. Or Ed Pendleton might asked her to handle his niece again, or... Not that it mattered who or when; Sharon knew there would be a next time, and that was enough.
Yes, life was good. If only the economy would pick up... But Sharon knew she couldn't have everything.