— — —
The three visitors were excitedly looking through the spread of clothes Carly had put out for them as Carly and Jo discussed where they should hike.
Charlie was already feeling quite comfortable in the makeshift tunic dress she’d made from one of Jo’s t-shirts and Carly’s old spangly belt. She picked out a snug pair of blue running shorts with a sporty white trim to pull on underneath.
Destiny found Jo’s red leggings, which looked perfect for hiking. She was thrilled when they seemed to fit really well. There was a range of bright t-shirts she could team with this – in red, orange, yellow – and she was still trying to decide what colour to go for when Henna grabbed a pair of cutoffs and the first t-shirt to hand.
She was nearly out the door when she felt Jo’s hand on her shoulder.
“Hey, didn’t you hear what I said about boots? There is a lot of rough, uneven ground up on rbe hill, and if you twist your ankle up there…”
Henna watched Destiny and Charlie trying on Jo and Carly’s spare boots with a heavy sigh.
“No thanks,” she said. “These sneakers will do me fine.”
“Henna, I really think…”
“Look, you’re not the boss of me!” Henna snapped, pulling roughly away from Jo’s grip.
“Hey!” snapped Carly, folding her arms with that knowing toppy look on her face. “If you need… attention… then you only have to ask. There’s no need for tantrums!” Rita had forewarned her what Henna could be like when she needed her fix of butt-warming.
“Look, I’m comfortable in these, okay?” Henna spat back. She could feel the heat building in the back of her neck as she tried to process what she was feeling. What was really annoying was that Carly was right – she was indeed craving some bottom-related attention. But that didn’t mean she wanted to wear those boots!
Not sure what to do with herself, she chose probably the worst option – childishly sticking out her tongue and, when that didn’t feel forceful enough, flipping a bird with each finger (one at Carly, one at Jo). Okay, maybe that was too forceful, she realised. Destiny and Charlie both gasped at Henna’s behaviour.
Before she knew it, she was over Carly’s knee.
“Didn’t I hear something about you and Charlie having an experience with this kind of implement?” asked Carly as she pulled off one of Henna’s sneakers.
“Punishment for kicking our friends here in the pants,” nodded Jo. “It makes quite an ouchie implement.”
Typically Charlie wasn’t for playing in nature unless that activity was sitting by the pool, and she whined at even the hint of anything outdoors. However, today she found everything was new and exciting. Having suffered hiking trips with her friend, Destiny teased, “You seem to be enjoying yourself. Does that have anything to do with your phone call?”
When Charlie turned multiple shades of red, Destiny smiled and hugged her friend.
On the path, Jo repeatedly would catch Henna reaching back for a quick rub. Jo shook her head, knowing how stingy the rubber sole of a sneaker can be, but remembering Carly’s dislike of rude hand gestures, she thought, Henna got off easy. Well, at least she chose to wear the boots.
When Henna leaned down to pick up a small rock, Jo couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Her open palm landed on one of the sore cheeks sticking out from the frayed cutoff shorts. Henna howled, then immediately took up the chase. She had Jo sprinting halfway up the hill before stopping to re-evaluate. Oh, she had every intention of payback, but one glance toward Carly had her deciding to wait.
Jo waited cautiously for the group to catch up, keeping her eye on Henna. She was ready to bolt when Henna got close. Then Henna said, “Girl, my butt is too sore; another trip over Carly’s knee? Not right, now. Thanks anyway.”
They both were laughing when the others joined them.
“Isn’t there supposed to be a creek or something around here?” Charlie asked, “It’s so hot. I’d love to dip my feet in?”
“Well, actually,” said Jo, “there’s a really cool waterfall, just the other side of this ridge. Comes down from the main hill up there and goes down to the sea.”
“A waterfall?” Charlie’s face lit up. “That’d be so cool right now.”
“Some of the paths can be a bit tricky, though,” warned Carly, “so stick close to Jo.”
Hearing Carly endorsing her hiking skills to the other girls was music to Jo’s ears. She led the way proudly – or perhaps even a little smugly, thought Charlie with amusement.
Carly noticed it too, though she was less amused, having seen Jo get just a little too big for her boots before.
If anything, her lovely brat was usually quite self-effacing, perhaps even a little lacking in confidence. But knowing Carly was always there to catch her when she fell meant that Jo could push the boundaries a little recklessly sometimes.
“I really am sorry, Carly.”
The voice shook Carly from her thoughts. She swung round to see Henna, walking alongside and watching her intently.
“I dunno why I was so cranky about those boots, but I didn’t mean to be so rude. I hope you’re not still cross.”
Carly hugged the girl.
“I wasn’t cross with you,” she said. “It’s been a tense day for all of us. I hope that sneaker didn’t sting too much. I just thought it might be… you know… poetic justice, after the boots thing. I tried not to whack too hard, but I’ve never used footwear on Jo’s bottom.”
They both laughed.
“It didn’t sting any more than I deserved,” admitted Henna.
” Up this way,” Jo directed as she began going a bit faster.
“Jo, wait! You’re going too fast,” whined Destiny. “Ugh, these boots are starting to rub, and you going faster isn’t helping.”
“Ok, ok, I’ll slow down. Geese, watch your footing here. You see where the path narrows.” she added, “Charlie be careful, come on, get your head out of the clouds.”
Destiny loudly whispered, “you sure are bossy.”
“No, I’m not. She needs to pay attention.” Jo said, not even trying to hide her annoyance. “We’re almost there, but this part is a tad tricky.”
Seeing they were a the narrow part of the path, Carly encouraged, “Henna, let’s catch up to the others.” The last thing she wanted was her group of brats getting hurt.
“Are we there yet?” Destiny asked as a branch full of leaves flung back, whacking her head. “Hey, watch it, Charlie!” Destiny added while spitting out the leaf that landed in her open mouth.
“You let go of that branch, and it hit me in the face.” Destiny gave up when she noticed the blank look cross Charlie’s face.
The waterfall was certainly worth the hike, splashing and trickling down from a rocky cliff face up above, with lush carpets of damp moss spreading out colourfully on either side – like a scene from a movie, almost. Somewhere secret and special – a real Jo place, thought Charlie, watching the way her friend was sticking her head out so that the spray showered her face.
Pretty soon, all three of them were doing the same.
In fact, they were still doing this when Henna and Carly caught sight of them. Carly could see how much Henna wanted to join in.
“Go on, off you go!” she said. “But be careful on the path,” she added with a swat.
“But if you want some real adventure,” whispered Jo to her friends, “there’s a really cool cave behind the falls here – leads all the way down to the shore.”
“Really?” Destiny’s eyes lit up.
“Oh, I don’t know, Jo,” murmured Charlie, seeing where Jo’s hand was pointing. “That looks awfully tricky.”
“Don’t you trust me?” Jo shot back indignantly.
“It’s not that,” Charlie replied. “But you went leaping up that path like a freakin’ gazelle just now! Me and Destiny could hardly keep up!”
“Oh, well pardon me, Miss Super Well-behaved!”
“Jo!” Much though she wanted to explore Jo’s land of secret passageways and adventure, Destiny had to agree with Charlie about how her friend was acting.
“Oh, the hell with you, then!” Jo snapped. “I’ll go on my own!”
“Oh no you will not!” Carly grabbed her errant brat firmly by the ear, swung her round, and rained a swift series of swats down on the seat of her shorts.
“Oww! Let go! You said I was in charge!”
“Jo, you need to lose the attitude right now,” Carly responded, aiming a few more slaps at the bare skin beneath the hem of her shorts. “We’re taking the easy path down to the shore and that’s final.”
As Jo, fuming with indignation and embarrassment, started her sulky march down the path, nursing her tender behind, Carly turned to Charlie and Destiny.
“You two look thirsty,” she said, reaching into her backpack. “Just as well I remembered to pack some water bottles.”
Charlie was so grateful for this. Cool and refreshing though a face full of waterfall spray could be, it wasn’t exactly the most effective way of getting a drink, and she was really feeling the lack of hydration.
“What’s up with Jo?” asked Charlie. “This doesn’t feel like her.”
“She still gets churned up about a lot of things,” Carly explained. “Sometimes they come to the surface in the strangest way. I’m sure you know what that’s like.”
Charlie smiled and blushed a little when she saw the knowing way Destiny was grinning at her.
Destiny sighed as she watched Jo stomp down the path. “Bummer, I was hoping we’d be here long enough to put my feet in the water.”
Henna pulled Destiny in for a side hug, “I guess we’ll have to settle for splashing in the waves.” with a poke on the side, she added, “come on, let’s catch Jo before she gets too far.” Henna waved for Charlie to join, but she waved her off. “Suit yourself.”
“Don’t get too wet. We’re heading to the Charity shop next.” Carly called out.
“Okay.” “Alright.” yelled the girls.
The trail leading to the shore was a lot quicker than it was to the waterfall. The running, however, had Destiny slow to a limp as her sore toe rubbed raw from the boot. “I have to take these off.” She seated herself on a fallen tree and began to untie each shoe.
Destiny relished the feel of cold water as each tiny wave crashed over her feet. The water felt so good; she would be happy to soak in the water for hours.
Destiny’s peace was distracted by a spray of water along her back, “Hey, that’s cold.” she whined before sending just as much water back toward Henna.
As if one, they stopped and glanced over to Jo, then, without a word, they barreled toward her. Jo screamed but couldn’t stop the attack; the water came from both directions and instantly soaked her from head to toe.
“Stop! Wait!” Jo sputtered, trying to rid her mouth of the salt water. Quickly Jo went from offense to defense. “Oh, two against one, fine, I’m up for the challenge.”
Water flew as each brat tried to outdo the next.
“What did I tell you?”
The girls, soaked to the skin with huge dollops of sand and seaweed in their hair, looked up from their battle zone at the sound of Carly’s voice.
“I’m waiting,” she said.
“Er… you told us not to get too wet,” ventured Henna sheepishly.
“Not exactly rocket science, is it?” sighed Carly.
Destiny raised her hand.
“Well, you see… my feet were hurting… and, er… I had to take off my boots…”
“And that’s why you had to soak each other, is it? Just look at the state of you! I told you we were going to the charity shop -“
“Well, don’t look at me!” pouted Jo. “I didn’t hear anything about not getting wet, and ok, my luggage was lost, but I don’t need any new stuff! So just butt out!”
Carly turned to Charlie, who was shaking her head incredulously at Jo’s defiance.
“Charlie, while I deal with your two friends here, would you like to give Jo a lesson in manners?”
“Wha–? Me?” Charlie gasped as Carly took the hairbrush from her backpack and placed it in the brat’s hands.
“You can’t do that!” protested Jo, her face now flushing deep red.
“Jo, you know I love you dearly. You are an incredible gift to me in so many ways. But sometimes you just have to push your mischief-making that extra mile, don’t you?
“You did it with Sandi and Gloria when you were in the States, now you’re doing it here. Well, if there’s anyone here who really understands that, it’s Charlie here.”
Carly turned her attention to Charlie.
“Trust me,” she said, “you can do this. I think you’re actually just what Jo needs right now.”
Destiny and Henna were both watching this open-mouthed. They found themselves snapped back to more immediate concerns when Carly grabbed each of them by the ear.
“Don’t you girls know it’s rude to stare?” she told them. “Why don’t you both come up the beach a bit with me, so we can… discuss your behaviour?”
Defiantly Jo stood then snapped hastily, “don’t even think about using that thing!”
The boldness of Jo’s attitude had Charlie changing her thinking, and although bratting was usually her everyday go-to, hearing Jo’s mouthing off had her palm itching.
“Jo, you are acting as bratty as when I first met you and I wanted to get as far away as possible.” Stunned, Jo’s eyes focused intently on Charlie. Something in her expression and the way she held the hairbrush caught Jo’s attention.
“I think Carly’s right.” Charlie declared.
“Oh, no!.” Jo said while taking a step back.
Charlie being a brat herself, knew Jo was readying to bolt. She moved swiftly, capturing Jo’s upper arm in a vice-like grip. Before Jo could pull away, Charlie landed in the sand, pulling her brat friend over her lap. Over wet shorts, Charlie managed to land several stingers.
” Settle down my friend, I’m just warming up.” Charlie said, then aimed a few swats to the backs of Jo’s thighs.
“I guess I’m a quick study.” Charlie targeted Jo’s sit spots. “Be thankful your shorts are still on.” Surprisingly, Charlie felt energized.
After marching her two naughty girls partway up the beach, Carly sat on a downed branch. “You girls are going to wear my arm out.” She continued, “let’s go, pants down, Destiny. I’ll start with you.”
A rosy flush bloomed on the girls’ faces as they each let out a string of protests while scanning the empty beach. Finally, when Carly heard enough, she snapped out, “One!” (All brats understand the universal warning.)
Henna had her shorts around her ankles while Destiny struggled to lower her wet leggings. The red elastic material clung to her legs as she tried desperately to pull them down.
So Henna was first across Carly’s lap. Given her earlier tantrum back at the flat, she was expecting the worst, but Carly knew what both these girls needed more than anything was something to settle them – especially given all the high drama.
So while she was making sure to leave an impression on both their mischievous bottoms, she was also keen to talk them down as she did so. At the end of the day, she wasn’t really bothered how messy they got – clothes could be thrown in the wash, and brats could be sent to the shower. She needed them to trust her because she knew that was what they both needed right now.
Meanwhile, Charlie had developed a surprisingly consistent rhythm for someone not used to being on the walloping end of a spanking. In fact, Jo was no longer sure whether her shorts were indeed still up, so effective was the drumbeat being played out on her hind parts. Her bottom and thighs were blazing now, and there was no sign of Charlie letting up.
“You must surely know how much we all think of you, Jo,” she said, just as the pace of her whacking finally began to ease up a little, “even if you don’t always believe it. But when you need a spanking, girl – oh boy, do you need a spanking!”
Jo’s legs had stopped entirely kicking, just as her mouth had long-since finished protesting. All she could feel now was the thrill of how thoroughly Charlie was tanning her behind, mixed with an embarrassment that somehow heightened the excitement. Spanked by a fellow brat – oh, the delicious indignity of it! What an…
It suddenly dawned on Charlie that, for all her insights, for all her poetic gifts, and her ability to reach out to others with that massive heart of hers, Jo would always remain resolutely a brat. She would always crave a torch hand to hold her together. For a second, she almost felt envious of this girl, whose world spun so clearly around her spankings.
But in that moment, she actually felt closer to Leslie than she had ever done.
Carly was still cuddling Henna and Destiny when Jo and Charlie walked up the beach to join them. Well, Charlie walked – Jo’s movement was more of a skip, a hopping weave of rubbing and brat-dancing as she tried to ease the furious throbbing in her bottom.
Henna and Destiny looked at Charlie in awe, then at each other.
“Wow,” they gasped in unison.
“Alright, you two,” Carly said while giving her girls a swat, “give me a minute with Jo and Charlie.” Destiny and Henna got up, and Carly looked first at Jo and then Charlie before motioning to her lap.
Jo snuggled in, immediately breathing in Carly’s scent, then held her hand out for Charlie. “It looks like you’ve both made it through unscathed. How do you feel?”
Jo pouted, “I’m ok.” then reached back and added, “I never knew Charlie was so strong.” after kissing Jo’s head, Carly turned her attention to Charlie.
“Well, how are you doing? I hope you didn’t break my favorite hairbrush on Jo’s stubborn bottom.” Carly teased.
“No, ma’am,” smiling before joking, “it’s in my back pocket. Do you want me to hold it for you? You know, just in case they get out of line again.”
Loud protests came from all three brats, “No!”, “Carlee!”, “you have got to be kidding me!” Charlie laughed so hard she almost fell off Carly’s lap.
“Still bratty, I see,” Carly added with a swat to Charlie’s exposed thigh. Charlie landed in the sand and squealed louder unable to control her laughter.
Once the girls realized Charlie had been joking, they piled on top. They were taking a turn each to tickle the girl and land a stingy swat on her bottom while the others held her down.
Carly watching the girls getting along, gave them a few minutes before ending the roughhousing. “That’s enough,” she said as she pulled each one off the next.
They all lay in the sand, giggling and trying to catch their breath. Finally, Destiny said to Charlie, “I think you won the most bratty of the group today.”
When they got back to the flat, Destiny and Jo collapsed together on the couch.
“You sure you’re okay?” asked Destiny, giving her friend an encouraging squeeze.
“Still pretty embarrassed, to be honest,” Jo admitted, turning into Destiny’s hug – partly for the comfort and partly so she could give her bottom another rub.
“But hey, when you’re not playing horrible pranks, you’re the kindest friend I could wish for. You know that, right?”
“It looks like you’ve both had quite enough butt attention for today,” noted Carly, leaning over the brats, and they both enthusiastically agreed.
“In that case,” Carly said, “I suggest both you get out of those stinky clothes and get yourselves showered – now!”
She had never seen brats move so fast.
Night now, and the air was singing a little to the sound of sleeping brats…
It was one of those nights when the moon pretty much lit up the sky. Natural night owl that she was, Jo always used to sparkle at the touch of such skies – although, of course, memories of her mother probably also had something to do with that.
“Her smile used to light the sky up like this.”
Charlie swung round to see who had spoken, just as Carly realised she’d said these words aloud.
“Sorry,” she said, stepping out to join Charlie on the balcony. “I didn’t mean to startle you.”
“Whose smile?” asked Charlie.
“It’s something Jo used to say about her mother,” said Carly. “Sometimes she even says it about me… which is… well, let’s just say, it’s quite a thing, when Jo says something like that to you.”
“It’s true, though,” said Charlie. “You do have an awesome smile. People feel safe when they see your smile.”
“That’s a lovely thing to say, Charlie – and I suppose it’s a lovely thing to be able to feel about myself… y’know… on the days I can really believe it. Sometimes it takes us a while to grow into the people we are, even when we’re busy living them. In fact, sometimes, in a weird way, it feels like I missed the real Carly entirely – and then suddenly I see her reflected in Jo’s eyes.”
Charlie turned back towards the balcony rail as the tears welled up.
“You’ll see it in Leslie’s eyes too, when you get home,” said Carly. “I can promise you that.”
These are good tears, thought Charlie to herself. The light on her face felt new and exciting – and for the first time in quite a while, she wasn’t scared.