"Jane, why are you standing back there?" asked Lucy, perplexed by the distance that Jane was putting between herself and Gillian's rump.
"I'm going to take a bloody good run-up at her," answered Jane casually.
"Oh no you're not! There will be no run-ups; you must stand still, square behind the...er...spankee for want of a better legal word. My God, your aunt was right, you both have a pathological hatred of each other," Lucy intervened, apprehensive that the two women would try to do each other real harm. Jane rather sullenly marched up to the armchair and, without warning, slammed the paddle hard across Gillian's unprepared nates. The loud crack which resulted echoed round the empty room surprising both the contestants and the spectators.
"Owwwwwwww you bitch! That wasn't fair, I wasn't ready," yelled Gillian, twisting round to lodge an anguished protest with Lucy.
"Well, cry-baby, do you submit?" enquired Jane, more in wishful hope rather than any serious belief that her younger sister would give in that easily.
"No, I bloody well do not. Now get on with it and give me the other five whacks," came Gillian's defiant reply. Jane, for the first time that afternoon, did not look the picture of total confidence, a glimmer of doubt having entered her head which registered in her facial expression. The resounding smack she had given Gillian had not had the devastating effect she'd expected. Her sister had been right when she said that, for the first time in their lives, they were competing on an equal footing. Jane lifted the paddle high over her head and brought it down as hard as she could, repeating the process in rapid succession four more times to finish off the first batch of spanks. Although Gillian cursed and yelped at the painful assault on her bottom there didn't seem to be any immediate crack in her armour and she appeared determined to stay the distance. Slowly rising from her position, she turned with a huge smile on her face.
"Now it's my turn to deal out the punishment! I've been waiting all my life for this!" Gillian declared, her eyes ablaze and nostrils flaring at the delicious thought of her imminent vengeance. Jane slumped over the back of the armchair and hitched, with some difficulty, her tight dress up and over her hindquarters.
"Look!" Gillian beseeched Lucy and Annette, "Sheer stockings and fancy suspenders...for a funeral? Really, Jane, were you hoping to shag the vicar? You always were such a tart!" Gillian took great delight in baiting her older sister.
"Oh shut up! I didn't have any black hose and anyway it didn't occur to me that later in the day I'd be bent over flashing my underwear around!" came Jane's muffled explanation from the other side of the chair. Gillian roughly grabbed Jane's lace panties and snapped the elastic, causing them to fall uselessly down the side of Jane's left thigh.
"You'll bloody well pay for those, Gillian, they were expensive," said Jane, furious at her sister's act of wanton vandalism on her undies.
"Sure, no problem. I'll buy you ten pairs as a going-away present; after all, money will be no object when I get my inheritance!" exclaimed Gillian. She then drew back the paddle and powered it down onto her sister's twin globes of milky-white flesh. Again the room reverberated to the sound of leather slapping loudly against womanly bottom-cheeks. At the end of the second session the psychological advantage had swung back to Jane, who decided to take her dress right off so that she would have unrestricted freedom of movement when she administered the next six smacks.
Annette could hardly believe her eyes at the scene which was materialising before her. Two grown women, both with their reddened buttocks completely exposed, were trying to beat the living daylights out of each other in a frenzy of undiluted greed and revenge. Gillian survived her second session but her eyes were now clearly watering from the increased stinging and now the moans she was emitting were deeper and more heart-felt. This time, at the end of it, she sprang to her feet, but her first action was to frantically rub her bottom and try to lessen the pain rather than to grab the paddle and immediately set about her sister's posterior. Jane once again positioned herself over the chair, her suspender straps at full stretch and pressing into the still pale skin at the sides of her flanks. She was only too aware that if her resolve buckled at this point during the next six stingers, she would lose everything. Gillian started the second lambasting of her sister's buttocks but this time she allowed a longer duration between each swipe. This tactic was for her own benefit and designed to give herself a longer recovery period before it was her turn to bend over the chair again.
Annette noticed that Jane had, outwardly at least, dealt reasonably well with the pain during her second session of being on the receiving end. Definitely better than Gillian had coped. It was the younger sister's turn to drape herself over the chair for a third time, and she was taking a long time over it.
"Come on, you chicken, you are deliberately playing for time," sneered Jane sensing that her younger sister was weakening.
"Do you want to call it a day, Gillian?" asked Lucy, concerned that the girl might be suffering too much.
"No, no! I'll never give up, there is too much at stake," she snapped back and dramatically plunged herself over the chair again, Jane landed three quick blows - her sister twisted, bounced and screamed at the ferocity of the lightning blast, there was a short break and then the second three rained down at speed all on the same stinging buttock. Gillian gave a frightening, almost bestial, wail and almost fell sideways off the chair. She groaned, staggering for a few feet to the right hand side of the room, clutching her blazing behind with one hand and , with the other, she supported her racked body, leaning against the wall with tears literally streaming down her face.
"Gillian, you poor baby, why don't you give up?" Jane implored with mock concern for her sister. "You know you can't win. Aunt Amy knew I have always been the stronger. I could go on taking these whackings all day. She must have wanted me to inherit or she would have invented some sort of intellectual challenge. You were the clever one at school so why don't you use those brains and quit now - save your bottom from further punishment," Jane continued to pressure Gillian verbally as the weeping woman shook her head in tearful defiance.
The young solicitor's assistant was fascinated to observe how these two young women could keep coming back for punishment. Gillian's posterior was now a deep plum colour and Annette couldn't help but think that Jane's advice, although clearly intended to undermine her sister, was probably correct. Six more smacks bounced off Jane's taut, cherry-red, backside with hardly any visible detrimental effect on her, it was as though she was becoming immune to the sting of the paddle. The two women changed places yet again and the body language was now very significant. Gillian, her face pale, lowered her head to avoid eye-contact while Jane stared at her, a self-satisfied, nauseating grin on her face.
Jane took careful aim and then administered the nineteenth blow to Gillian's tortured bottom, resulting in the now familiar howl, accompanied by the rippling of Gillian's gluteous flesh and a St. Vitus dance-like trembling as her body and mind fought to resist the sanctuary of submission. The twentieth blow of the paddle smacked down hard on Gillian's bottom and a thunderclap resounded around the hollow room. Gillian let out a high-pitched shriek, burst into floods of hysterical tears and rolled off the chair onto the floor, holding up her right hand to signal that her resistance was over, she simply could not take any more.
"Do you submit?" Jane bawled and the tear-stained Gillian nodded her head in affirmation. "Come on, say it! I want to hear you say it!"
"Oh God, I submit," Gillian managed to whisper the required words loud enough for the other three women to hear.
"I am the winner!" proclaimed Jane, holding the paddle aloft in triumph.
"Not yet," Lucy interrupted Jane's premature celebrations," you still have to take three more strokes to overtake Gillian's final total of twenty."
"Oh yeah, I know. But I've got this in the bag. Do you seriously think I'm going to capitulate now when I can almost smell all that lovely money?" Jane announced as she lowered herself across the chair for the last time. Goading her sister, she continued, "Come on, Gillian, do your worst. It's too late for you anyway. I don't mind having to stand up to count all that lovely money."
Annette had never met either sister before, but for some reason she found Gillian the less odious of the two and was secretly hoping she'd win. But it was pretty clear that Jane was not going to give in now and when Gillian slammed the paddle down for the twentieth and equalising spank, it must have hurt like hell, but Jane remained staunchly bent over awaiting the next. She knew she had won, laughed and raised a clenched fist in celebration. At that moment Gillian knew her hopes of inheriting the house had disappeared. In a spite-fuelled act of detestation of her elder sister, she held her sister down with one hand, then suddenly unleashed a flurry of violent blows, raining them down on her victorious sister's bottom and thighs. She must have landed ten extra, uncalled for, thudding slaps of leather across an already searing expanse of reddened flesh, before Lucy could step in and stop her.
"You bloody bitch! You always were a bad loser," Jane took a last opportunity to metaphorically rub salt into her younger sister's wounds, "and 'loser' is the right word to describe you. You have always lost to me - as children I beat you at every game we played, as teenagers I could take your boyfriends whenever I wanted and now I get Aunt Amy's house...all to myself."
Gillian had no intention of staying for a slanging match when the truth of her sister's jibes was there for all to see. She had already, and very painfully, replaced her knickers and trousers and was stomping out of the room and out of her sister's life forever.
"That's right, loser, go on, get out of my house!" Jane screamed after her, whilst hopping from one leg to the other, vigorously kneading some of the pain out of her inflamed buttocks.
"Strictly speaking, the house does not belong to you until the papers have been signed," Lucy solemnly informed the jubilant but still-smarting Jane.
"Right, let's do it now. I've waited years for this moment, I can't wait a second longer," replied Jane.
"Before you sign, I must go through the details and make sure you fully understand what you are taking possession of," Lucy cautioned the over-excited winner.
"Oh no, I can't hang around listening to all that legal crap. I just want to sign the damn papers and go off and get drunk on champagne."
"Very well, but you must sign this lawful disclaimer absolving my company from any future accountability arising from any unforseen disputes regarding ownership of this property," Lucy droned on in monotonous legal parlance, but Jane was not listening, all she could think of was celebrating her good fortune. Lucy concluded her monologue, "Annette will be my witness that you refused counselling over the deeds of the house."
"Yes, yes, yes...whatever...just give me the pen," Jane impatiently ordered Lucy. She then quickly scribbled her signature next to the crosses that Lucy had already marked for her. After which, Lucy and Annette officially witnessed the fact that by adding their names.
"Well, that's it, Miss Etheridge, the house legally belongs to you now. What are your immediate plans?" asked Annette.
"Right now I'm off to buy a case of Champers and a couple of bags of frozen peas," answered Jane, laughing as she flounced out of the house.
"Frozen peas?" enquired both Lucy and Annette, simultaneously perplexed by this curious intent.
"To sit on! I've got a two hour car journey and my arse feels as if its just been stung by a swarm of bees. I need something to cool it down. Lock up for me, I'll be in touch," Jane waved and then wheel-spun out of the drive in her urgent quest for the soothing effect of frozen vegetables.
"I feel sorry for Gillian, going through all that pain and embarrassment and not getting a penny," muttered Annette, ruefully, as she watched Jane's car speed out of sight.
"I wouldn't feel too sorry for Gillian. Today she was very much the winner," Lucy answered , rather enigmatically.
"What do you mean? All she got out of it was a very sore bottom whilst Jane acquired this house which I know is a bit dilapidated but must still be worth two hundred grand."
"Yes, you're right about the value of the house," Lucy paused and smiled, " but when John Etheridge acquired it almost a century ago for the princely sum of two hundred pounds, he did so on a lease basis. The original lease has never been amended and in seven months' time, the house becomes the property of Mr Justin Hartley, the grandson of Jacob Hartley, the original owner. The Hartleys have farmed the area since the mid-eighteenth century and John Etheridge was their estate manager. The house was sold to him in recognition of his good work in maintaining and increasing the Hartleys assets. Justin Hartley was a life-long friend of Amy and he promised her many years ago that she could live in this house for as long as she wanted. So she never had to bother about renegotiating the lease."
"That was generous of him," Annette noted.
"Yes, but it was also out of self-interest, because for the last fifty years, Justin and Amy have been having an affair. As teenagers they wanted to get engaged but Justin's parents would not give their approval because Amy's family were low down the social pecking order. Shortly after this, Justin, who at the time was a young subaltern in the Army, was posted with his regiment to the far east for a couple of years. Time and distance quelled their youthful ardour and eventually Justin married a girl his parents approved of. A few years later, when he left the Army to take over the running of the Hartley family business he crossed paths with Amy again, and she agreed to become his mistress."
"How romantic!" sighed Annette and then, after collecting her thoughts, she concluded, "so the upshot of today's ludicrous contest is - Jane has won a house she cannot sell."
"Well, I doubt whether she will find anyone who is going to pay a fortune for a lease which has barely six months left to run. Plus, there is another sting in the tail for Jane," Lucy giggling at her own pun. "Under a clause in the lease the house must have had the roof and window frames replaced at least once in the ninety-nine year period, and, of course, they are still the original slates and fittings, so Jane could have to fork out a tidy sum for her short lived tenure."
"Good! I'm glad she won't profit from her aunt's death. And I'm also glad she won't be able to sit down comfortably for a week or so," professed Annette, giggling at the thought of Jane driving home sitting on two packs of frozen peas. Then, after a few moments contemplation, she added, with a trace of concern in her voice, "On the other hand, she is going to be awfully miffed that you didn't tell her about the conditions of the lease. She'll probably roar over to the office and take that paddle to our rear ends!"
"Don't worry, before the...er...contest, I was acting precisely on Amy Etheridge's instructions, but I did urge them both not to go through with it. And remember that Jane refused my offer of advice before she signed all the papers - one of which testifies to this fact in writing," Lucy reassured her young assistant
"So you don't think she will blame us then?"
"No, I don't think she will want to make too much of a fuss in case Gillian found out. The humiliation would be just too much to bear. And I very much doubt whether Jane would want to be known as the woman who was so greedy she was quite prepared to have her bare bottom thrashed in order to get her hands on her aunt's non-existent legacy. She would become an utter laughing-stock."
"What an astute lady Amy was when I visited her to arrange for today's execution of the will. She predicted precisely how it would turn out."
"The old lady knew that Jane would take more swats than Gillian?" gasped Annette.
"Yes. She reasoned that Jane would be motivated by pure greed, whereas Gillian would be sustained by a mixture of fragmented emotions including hatred, jealousy and revenge. She deduced that Jane's single minded fixation would win the day or rather, as Amy hoped, land her in a dreadful financial mess."
"Phew...quite a plan. I'm surprised that an old lady could have concocted such a neat act of retribution," said Annette.
"Well, she did have some help from Julian Hartley," explained Lucy. "He arranged for the video and organised the funeral so that only he and the two sisters were present. He has invited us both to join him and a few friends at the Bull Hotel for a meal to give Amy a proper and fitting send-off."
"Oh how nice! I only hope they have my favourite on the menu," exclaimed Annette with a grin.
"And what would that be?" enquired Lucy as she unlocked the car door.
"Why, rump steak, of course! Very well done!"
It never pays to be greedy!