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« Charlotte, Amelia, Imogen and Takisha


24. Bring the House Down

Spanking Story


Panicked by a worldwide TV audience, a singer asks for the belt to calm her nerves


Her fuchsia-pink silk ball gown flowed down her curves and away in stylish elegance. Emily smoothed it under her as she sat at the large round table in the middle of the castle grounds. The up-lit ancient walls surrounding the space changed color as the lighting phased through purple, green and blue. The battlements above added an air of sophisticated menace to the well-dressed attendees of the Golden Talisman Awards.

She sucked in the atmosphere like it was an elixir. Around the table were her fellow housemates, the three founders of Girl Act and three serious successes. Tina, in from Australia just for the night. Helen, as sparky as her pop videos made her seem, and Rose, the quiet talent of 'Miss Mystery' whose role as the stable sister of the vivacious star had won her accolades from every magazine and critic.

The empty chair was for Kat, the busiest girl of the night. Emily gazed at Kat's chair. Like the brilliant actress and singer, she was also learning with a sore bottom. The six strokes from Charlotte's cane still resonated in her beautiful dress. The sexy satin string bared her sore cheeks against the soft lining. It made her feel like she'd earned her seat at the table. Every time the silk had whispered against her ridged bottom, the tingling sensation had made her stand taller.

In one swift move, Charlotte had brought her down to size. Nobody had ever punished her before Girl Act. It felt like the missing piece of an equation left undefined for her to solve. The intense shame of being stripped and thrashed with a rattan cane had intimidated her at first, but as the pain had gone to work on her guilt, a metamorphosis had occurred. In her heart, she now welcomed strict discipline and admired the manners she'd attained.

Filling her friend's water glass beside her, she engaged her in conversation while they waited for things to kick off.

Backstage in her dressing room, Kat was panicking about her performance. She'd never sung live for a gigantic global audience. They broadcast her TV show all over the world, but if she messed up a song, it got cut, and she got a second chance. Not tonight. Famous names who'd sung at the awards included everyone who was anyone. Being asked in her first year as a star was a phenomenal prize, and she must not mess it up. Not only must she perform, but she had to be ready to accept three different awards as well. She'd just dumped the pressure all over Charlotte. She'd messaged the password and begged her to come backstage.

"Once, you were nobody. Now, you're a star," Charlotte said. "This is just another step on the ladder. A big one, but you can sing. I remember you giving everything to 'Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien' on our stage. Tonight this is your stage."

In her white lace bra and string, Kat stood up. Her flawless white ball gown was hanging on the rail until the very last minute. Unembarrassed, she went to her small wheelie suitcase in the corner, pulled out her jeans and ripped the black leather belt from the waistband. Returning to Charlotte, she said, "Can you belt my silliness out of me. I'm scared to death."

Charlotte smiled. Her pride in the superstar's wisdom almost burst her heart as she took the supple leather.

Approaching the make-up table, Kat placed her hands against the edge and bent over. Watching Charlotte in the mirror, she observed the gorgeous girl in her navy gown double the belt and flick it against her hand. The gesture brought calm and sheathed her in safety.

Sting burst across her bare cheeks as the belt brought burn she deserved. The steady application of stinging pain stole her fear and anxiety. It was her duty to offer herself to her audience and give them the gift of her love. It was her stage tonight. Sting peppered her firm cheeks, burning fire into her heart, blasting away her pressures and replacing them with dignity and confidence. This was the night of her life and it was all up to her. All she had to do was reach out and take it.

"Ten, which hurt. Thank me for each," Charlotte said.

The strict demand put her where she wanted to be. The leather lashed low on her cheeks, forcing fiery courage into her as she counted each stroke out loud and thanked the girl she trusted most in the world.

At ten, she stood and turned to Charlotte. Her mind raging with fresh certainty, she looked her in the eye, and said, "Thank you."

"You're welcome," Charlotte said, placing the belt back on the case in the corner.

Her bottom on fire, Kat put her arms around Charlotte. "I needed you."

Charlotte wrapped her arms around the underdressed star. Releasing herself before tears overtook her, she said, "I'll always be there for you."

The deafening applause died down as Kat placed the second gold statue in the middle of their table. It had been a night of epic proportions. In the category of Best New Actress, she'd lost out to Rose. It had brought her to tears, and she'd had to repair her makeup with Imogen's swift help. Without that committed slap, maybe neither of them would ever have got this chance. Seeing Rose rise to accept her award, she'd lost it. The gracious, well-planned speech suggested Rose had expected to win. She deserved it. Hands down, she was the better actress.

For Best Lead in a New Drama, she'd realized she was up against talent with years more experience as the film of the nominees had played on vast screens around the castle walls and for the TV audience at home. It had been a total shock when the host had opened the envelope and read her name.

Admiring both their gold statues in the middle of the table, Kat toasted her co-star with champagne. She'd stuck to water all night and been unable to eat a thing. The new girls surrounding her were all lovely. They reminded her of herself such a short time ago. Their flawless manners and grace proved Charlotte, Takisha, and Imogen had them well under control.

She'd done soundcheck this afternoon. Everything was ready for her performance. Even her heart and mind. Charlotte had settled both with the belt. The next award came first, and she was, again, a nominee, so she'd had to remain at the table instead of getting ready backstage.

"Ladies and gentleman," the host called, bringing the castle grounds to order. "Nominated in the category of Best New Artist is..."

The vast video screens on all sides erupted with a montage of the four nominees. Each singer was an enormous star who'd come from nothing in the last year. When the screen switched to her biggest ballad, watching herself felt surreal as a wild murmur spread through the audience. She knew what was going to happen. Her rapid heartbeat only confirmed it.

As the screens faded, everyone at the table held their breath.

"And the winner is... Kat."

The castle grounds erupted in applause and people surged to their feet. A camera gantry swooped in front of Kat's face and every spotlight fell on her. The live orchestra struck up an acoustic background of her biggest ballad. She rose with grace and a beaming smile, and weaved between the tables to the low stage in the middle of the castle walls, the eyes of the world following her.

She shook hands with the host and accepted her award. Holding the gold statue high in one hand, she approached the podium, and the room went quiet.

"When I only dreamed of this, it didn't seem so hard."

There was a ruffle of laughter throughout the audience.

"The first person to warn me it was hard work was my mentor, Charlotte, at Girl Act. She told me I'd get up early and work long days. It wasn't the only thing she was right about. I've already thanked her tonight, and it's my strictest pleasure to do so again. Thank you, Charlotte, Takisha, and Imogen. I thanked my mom and my friends earlier. What I'd like to say is I'll enjoy this wonderful award for tonight only. It will leave here in Charlotte's safe hands. My awards should sit in their rightful place on the mantlepiece in the dining room at Girl Act. I can only hope they will serve as a reminder to every girl who follows me to listen to Charlotte, Imogen and Takisha when it's hardest. I wouldn't be here tonight without them all. Together, they are, Girl Act."

Lowering the award in her hand, applause burst forth at her honest speech. She hadn't planned it. She'd said what came to her heart.

As the host took back control and introduced her performance, a stagehand, dressed in black, exchanged her gold statue for a live mic, and retreated. She stepped from the podium to center stage, where she belonged.

Lit in purple and green from below, the castle walls gave off the magic of the evening. The stage wrapped around one wall and descended through the orchestra pit to the central dais where she stood among the audience.

High on the castle battlements, a spotlit violinist lifted into the opening bars of Never Go Back. Her mega ballad had been her second hit outside the show. Written only for her, she'd taken the words and music to heart and recorded it in the studios at Girl Act. She'd loved it the second the songwriter had sung it to her. Each time she sang Never Go Back, it was like the first. It spoke to her.

As the full orchestra picked up behind her, she raised her microphone and poured the opening words into the cool night air, the skirt of her white gown billowing in the wind.

As her powerful voice carried across the air, she raised hearts and souls with her words and lifted herself along with them. She projected passion into the night, and around the country in prime time. Her voice soared into the darkened sky as she grabbed the audience and demanded they dream with her.

On TVs across the country and in every heart before her, she drove love, raising everyone's dreams as high as her own. Before the last verse, a sprinkle of chimes rippled through the night, suggesting the finale.

Rising into the final refrain, her eyes on Charlotte, Imogen and Takisha, her left arm rose as she sang her passionate story. Fireworks exploded across the night sky behind her, celebrating her powerful message as her choir and violinist stepped up behind her. She lifted into the finale, flung her hand at the audience and carried them with her. In total control, she threw the last note to the castle walls holding it for all eternity. The audience leaped to their feet, clapping and yelling. Their passion took her last note and swirled it around the ancient surfaces as she dropped her hand and bowed her head.

When the lights went dark, she left the stage. As they came up again, the stage was empty. She'd left her audience with everything she'd ever promised. On their feet, still clapping at the empty stage, Charlotte, Imogen and Takisha looked awe-struck at each other. They'd created a true talent. She was far from their hands now.

Emily stared at the empty stage, her heart stolen by Kat's performance. As camera gantries swept back over their heads and conversation bubbled up around them, Charlotte saw Emily's astounded face. As certain as she'd once been with another girl who'd reached out for help, she drew Emily close, lowered her lips to her ear, and whispered, "Next year, it could be you."