Originally posted in 2009 here on Lurv Spanking, deleted and rewritten for Fantasy Friday at New Beginnings cross-posted on 8/19/2016. Thanks PK.
Lucretia Sinclair was an old maid. At two and thirty, she was a confirmed spinster. Tired of her family’s cruel rejoinders, she’d gone west seeking her manifest destiny. She found instead, the loss of her maidenhead and the serenity of over the knee.
She alighted from the 3:45 from Denver. Stark landscape, muted pastels and strong earth shades all pummeled by the soaring turquoise sky. Waiting for her was Mrs. Parker, widowed some twenty years, swathed in black silk befitting her station as matriarch of Juniper Falls. Lucretia had responded to an advert by post seeking ‘never married woman of quality desired for bride to wealthy gentleman’. The correspondence escalated rapidly, more so when the telegraph link was completed to Juniper Falls. Mrs. Parker set a stern example through her terse missives. Lucretia could hear the sniff in her words, the distaste of East Coast debutantes living off stolen largesse and western gold. Still, she came. Dressed in muted poplin, traveling days by train across the breadth of a dazzling country, Lucretia left her unexciting past behind.
Erect carriage, she stared into the distant future as Mrs. Parker perused her as carefully as any prized range horse. More so, because a horse could be put down, a woman of loose morals was more destructive than any ravening locust horde. Passing inspection, Lucretia lifted her satchel, porter behind with the rest of her worldly goods and followed in the tremendous wake of Mrs. Parker. Hats tipped, heads bowed, she parted the dusty and dung smeared street as if brandishing a cannon. Determined not to be cowed, Lucretia was nonetheless impressed by the display of personal power rivaling any Astor. Juniper Falls may have been small by eastern standards, but it was run not by the drunk sheriff or corrupt mine owners, but by a woman of a certain age with unsmiling countenance. In her letter home that night to her younger sister, Lucretia was hard pressed to explain the atmosphere in the town. The best she could say was:
‘It, the town sweet Margaret, seems placid and serene. Not bustling as New York, yet, an air of smugness all emanating from a short female form. No gentle sex I fear from Mrs. Parker. She wields a stern hand I am told, perhaps, dare I say, even harder than dear Papa. In closing my beloved, I have chosen to stay and face the future unafraid of my place, though it may be over a knee. You may write me at this address. Mrs. Parker is providing room and board in her mansion until I marry. Nothing on 5th Avenue I’m afraid, but passable. I am to meet the gentleman on the morrow so must now retire. Yours, Lucretia’
With the sun, the house too rose. Lucretia was prompt for breakfast. The food was welcome after the long journey: the company marginally less so. Not for Mrs. Parker a mixed table. Only the finest ladies were ensconced in her home. The oldest was a dowager visiting from San Francisco with the youngest being her niece barely out of finishing school. A blue stocking would have felt right at home except… there was a sense of mystery, of hidden vices lurking behind the facade of propriety. Lucretia was polite when spoken to and kept her replies and curiosity firmly in check. Finishing her meal, requesting to be excused, she retired above stairs to complete her toilette and met Mrs. Parker in the parlor precisely at eight. She refrained from flinching when the taskmaster ran a clothes sweeper over her plain dress. Satisfied at last, she sallied forth, Lucretia bobbing dutifully one step behind.
High collar, purple cravat, and diamond stickpin did not catch her attention so much as the wide leather belt wrapped round his trim waist in deference to Western ideals. Mrs. Parker introduced them, until now, Lucretia had not known the name of her suitor. She curtsied to Mr. Mallory and he curtly bowed his head in response. The conversation was brief and fairly one-sided as, watched keenly by their chaperone, he dictated Sunday’s schedule at the Methodist church three days hence, Lucretia limiting her responses to ‘yes sir’ and thank you’. As she rose to take her leave with Mrs. Parker, he courteously gestured for Lucretia to open an oak tallboy. Inside the door were a variety of straps and paddles hanging from gleaming brass hooks. As she fondled the heavy oiled and polished objects de correction, she barely heard his admonishment that her behavior would be monitored closely and subjected to regular discipline should she fail to meet his expectations. She blushed and demurely replied, as sudden heat arose in her nether regions, she’d do her best to please him. He roughly cleared his throat, the cravat suddenly as tight as his trousers as he gruffly instructed her to select a tool for her exclusive use. It was, he explained, her bridal gift and likely to see daily rigorous use. She was instructed to have it modified with an engraved silver plaque, her name in copperplate script, to be exchanged at the altar for his ring.
He raised her hand to his lips saying he had high standards for a wife and woe betide she who fell short. Far from being cowed, Lucretia boldly met his dark eyes as she curtsied deeply, tipping her bosom forward stating she was not some Eastern shrinking violet who shirked at hard work and harder discipline. Well read, less so in the amorous arts, Lucretia was not completely naive, yet no man had ever so dominated her emotions and mind as Mr. Mallory. She’d been informed in stark terms the fate of the late Mrs. Mallory and whatever gossip existed in Juniper Falls was yet to be revealed to her tender ears. Under Mrs. Parker’s stern visage, Lucretia calmly passed the thick leather strap to the hulking blacksmith. As they watched, he pressed copper rivets through a rectangular silver plate across the breadth of the implement. Receiving it back with strict decorum, she cradled the strap tenderly as an infant and stately followed in Mrs. Parker’s formidable wake to the jeweler, where the leather was reverently delivered for engraving.
Lucretia ignored the many curious stares and by evening Juniper Falls was buzzing with the news that a new Mrs. Mallory was to be married that Sunday after services. Many pitied her, had she known, Lucretia would have laughed until her stomach hurt. As the house settled for the evening, windows opened to the rapidly cooling dessert air she could hear steady slapping and Mrs. Parker’s scolding tones as she sternly chastised her pleading niece. Lucretia expanded her lungs deeply, her white night wrap billowing in the freshening breeze and gave grateful thanks for her deliverance from a spinster’s fate. Juniper Springs was truly a magical place and Sunday couldn’t come soon enough.