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“Tabitha Tatiana, you have been found guilty of openly defying the authority of your parent, and you are subject to punishment for the next twelve months.” The magistrate saw the shocked look on the pretty redhead’s face and said in a kinder tone of voice, “I am aware that you find this sentence to be harsh; but there have been too many instances of this sort of behavior lately, and I hope to make an example of you. Perhaps if other young women learn that there is a stiff penalty to be paid for defying a parent’s wishes, they will think twice before doing so. A guardian will be chosen from the list provided your parent, and you will be subject to your guardian’s disciplines for the next twelve months, or until a husband is chosen for you. Bailiff, escort Tabitha Tatiana to a holding unit until her guardian arrives.”
The female bailiff took Tabitha by the arm and led her from the hearing room and to the holding unit that was nothing more than a jail cell without bars. The door was shut, and there was no way to open it from inside the small room. The room was also soundproof, and there were no windows. No one could see into the room, nor could she see outside the room. It was terrible, and she had been confined to the small space for a week now while a hearing was scheduled and held, and then time given to the magistrate to deliberate upon Tabitha’s fate.
Tabitha wanted to cry, but she refused to give in to her emotions. She had convinced herself that while there were no windows, hidden cameras and microphones recorded her every move. She would not give the guards the satisfaction of knowing how she truly felt at losing an entire year of her life because of her stepmother’s jealousy. Tabitha passionately hated the woman and she could not understand why her father married the detestable woman. Tabitha was sure her father’s decline in health over the last several months could be laid at that woman’s door. Tabitha suspected that woman of slowly poisoning her father! Why else would a man of his years have such a drastic change of health? He was robust and healthy before his marriage. The doctors could find nothing to blame for his decline, but Tabitha was positive that woman should be interrogated until she admitted to poisoning him.
Tabitha sat on the bed, which was the only piece of furniture; the room was smaller than a closet, and fumed silently. If she had influence over her father, the guard chosen would be mean and ugly and without compassion. Tabitha was sure she would be denied access to her friends for the next year, and the thought of that nearly brought on the sobs she so desperately wanted to hide from everyone. The ruling by the magistrate was unfair! The magistrate listened to her stepmother’s complaints without believing a word Tabitha said in her defense.
Finally, Tabitha heard the buzzer release the lock on the door and a man entered the small room, immediately making Tabitha feel claustrophobic, since his large build seemed to take up most of the space! “I suppose you are my jailor?” she asked, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
“I am your guardian, Tabitha Tatiana. My name is Guardian Owen, and you will address me as such. Do you comprehend this?”
“I hear you just fine,” she replied, refusing to look at him. “I wish to leave this place.”
“It does not matter what you wish to do, Tabitha Tatiana. You will wait to learn what it is you may or may not do. And, right now there is a matter of discipline to be administered for disobeying your parents.”
“That woman is not my parent; I do not need to obey anything she says!” Tabitha was immediately furious. “Do not ever again refer to her as my parent!”
“Look at me!” Guardian Owen said quietly, the anger in his voice controlled. “I will not tolerate disrespect. I am in charge of you, not the other way around. Stand up now!”
“You have no right at all to refer to that woman as my parent!” Tabitha told him, refusing to react to his intimidation tactics. “I will do nothing you say until you acknowledge that statement!” She knew she was asking for trouble, but she knew that she could not let the insult toward her true mother pass. “It is an insult to my deceased mother’s memory to give the title of parent to my father’s wife.”
“Do you dare to correct your appointed guardian, Tabitha Tatiana?” Guardian Owen asked in a tight voice.
“And another thing you need to know, Guardian Owen, is that I do not wish to be called Tabitha Tatiana. I prefer Tabitha or Tabby.” She then stood up to face him and saw that his dark eyes were full of disapproval. Too bad. If he was going to be her shadow for the next year, then he needed to learn not to offend her.
“You do not dictate to me, young lady. You are little more than a child, and it is my understanding that you were not punished properly as a child, which is why you are such a disobedient young woman now. The law clearly states that a daughter must obey her parent until the age of twenty-five, or until she is given in marriage by her parent. You have been breaking this law for the past six months or longer, and it is time that you face the consequences. I am going to treat you as a child should be treated when disobedient.”
“I was unfairly accused,” Tabitha insisted.
“I seriously doubt that; your behavior towards me is not indicative of innocence.” He looked at her and said, “Will you show grace now and accept your punishment, or must I physically subdue you and bend you to my will?”
She gave him a startled look. “How do you intend to punish me?” she asked.
“I am going to give you a sound spanking and that will be your punishment every time you disobey me or refuse to do as you are told.”
Tabitha could not believe the quiet, matter-of-fact way he announced that she would be spanked! That type of discipline was reserved for small children, and she was much too old for such a punishment. “I am too old for a child’s punishment!” She whispered the words, her disbelief evident in her green eyes as she looked at him in shock. “My father will not approve of this!”
“Your father is too ill to be your guardian, Tabitha Tatiana. He has signed over control to me for the next twelve months. We have discussed this matter thoroughly; it is time to get this spanking over with so that we may leave this place and go to your home. We will discuss your rules when we arrive there.” He took her arm and pulled her to the bed; he then sat down and patted his right thigh. “You will bend over my lap and you will pull up your gown so that I may spank you.”
“No! I am not free with my person!” Tabitha was even more shocked as she backed as far away from him as the small room would allow. “I know my father would not agree to that!”
“As I said, your parent has signed control of you to me. Your punishments are of my choosing, and I can see I have chosen well. You are already regretting your disobedience.”
“I did not disobey my father! Why cannot anyone believe me when I tell them this? Just because I am young, it does not mean that I am the one who is lying!” Tabitha was desperate.
“Enough, Tabitha Tatiana. You will do as I say, or you will receive another spanking as soon as I transport us to your home.”
“I do not wish to be punished here; I know they have hidden cameras and microphones, and I would not be watched.”
“They will not watch; to do so would be unprofessional and they would immediately be dismissed.”
“I would not give them the temptation,” she insisted.
“You have added a second spanking; to be given when we arrive at your home. I am through arguing with you, Tabitha Tatiana.” He grabbed her by the wrist and while he was sitting down on the mattress he pulled her facedown over his lap.
“No! This is wrong�and unlawful without my father’s permission!”
“Enough!” Guardian Owen said sharply, giving her upturned rump a sound smack. He continued to apply his hand in spanks to the portion of her body where she sat, doing his best to make this first punishment count.
It was not long before Tabitha forgot about anything but the fire building under her skirt. She was humiliated; and determined not to give him the satisfaction of making her cry out with the pain and shame. It was unheard of for a twenty-year-old woman to be spanked like a naughty child! Her father once told her that he did not resort to spanking her because he felt it was a poor substitute for good parenting. It was all that woman’s fault that she was suffering this indignity!
“There now, Tabitha Tatiana,” Guardian Owen said as he stood her on her feet. “Do you think you can resist arguing with me while I do the necessary paperwork to take you to your home?”
She was too upset with him to speak, but she nodded.
“In the future you will answer me politely.” He got to his feet and opened the door he had unlocked when he entered the cubicle. He took her arm once again, and then looked at her and shook his head. “Before we leave, you need to attend to your modesty cap. Your hair is falling down.” He gave her the privacy of turning his back. “Do not be all day, Tabitha Tatiana,” he warned.
Tabitha wanted to stick her tongue out at his back, but resisted doing anything that could be deemed as disrespectful. It would do nothing to convince him of her innocence. She needed to be home so that she could stop that woman from poisoning her father to death. She quickly fixed her long red hair, pinning it up into the normal manner, and then placing her modesty cap upon her head to hide her hair. No man, but the one chosen for her to marry, was to see her hair.
“Are you finished, Tabitha Tatiana?” Guardian Owen asked.
“Yes,” she managed to force the answer through her lips. Tabitha could not recall ever being so angry with a man not part of her own family!
Guardian Owen looked at her and nodded in satisfaction. He led her through the door and down the hallway to another room containing a desk and two chairs. He sat her down on one of those and she cried out and tried to get to her feet. He did not permit that. “You will sit here and learn a bit of control, young lady.” He sat on the other chair and used the keyboard to enter the required information that would permit her to walk through the doors under his guardianship. “Do not squirm so, Tabitha Tatiana,” he finally ordered, looking up at her in warning. “You will spend a period of sitting after each and every spanking I administer. It makes the spanking more effective.”
The look she gave him was one of contempt. “It takes a big man to spank a woman, doesn’t it? I guarantee you will regret treating me so abominably when the truth outs itself. I promise you here and now that I will file charges against you and the magistrate for putting me in this degrading situation!”
“You dare to threaten me?” The look on his face was filled with incredulity.
“I am not threatening you, Guardian Owen. I am making a promise, so remember it carefully when you think to strike me. You will be paid in kind for treating me unfairly.”
“It is going to be a long year if you persist in outbursts such as this, young lady. I suggest you remain quiet and sit still until I am finished, or you may find yourself bent over this desk for a sharp reminder that you are not in charge.” His voice was hard and cold.
Owen could not recall the last time he was provoked into losing his temper with a ward, but this young woman was pushing buttons he did not know he had. She was too pretty for words, and he simply could not see her doing some of the things she was accused of. She seemed confident that he would regret punishing her, but she was obviously used to getting her way, and she did need to learn some respect. Owen turned his attention to the paperwork and wanted to curse at all the questions he had to answer before he was given electronic permission to leave the facility with Tabitha Tatiana.
Tabitha was beyond angry, and she wanted privacy in the worst way so that she could indulge in a good, long cry. It seemed to take him hours to complete the forms to gain her release, and she began to suspect he was going as slowly as possible just to keep her bottom planted on the wooden seat of the chair! Her poor backside was stinging furiously, and she suspected she would have bruises from the unpleasant experience.
“Very well. If you walk through that door, you will find your own clothing hanging on a hook. Please dress so that we may leave.”
Tabitha did not need to be told twice. She was only too pleased to give her bottom some relief. But, a few seconds later she called out to him. “There is some mistake. This is not my dress.” It was much too short!
“Your stepmother brought the clothing from your own closet this morning,” Guardian Owen said quietly.
“But look! Can you not see that the hem has been shortened? I cannot wear this! It is inappropriate!”
“It is one of the accusations made against you,” Guardian Owen said. “You will need to make more clothing that is the required length.”
“She did this! I will not walk out of this room wearing this dress! Look! These are too sloppy to be my stitching!” Tabitha felt anger surge through her. “Why does she hate me so?”
“Stop carrying on, Tabitha Tatiana, and get dressed. In addition to the spanking you have earned when we get home, you will also write an essay on modesty, and why laws were passed protecting young women from wickedness.”
“My dresses were all at the required length! Wait until we get home and you will see!”
“You may be sure that I will. If I find that you are lying, I will punish you even more firmly.”
“I cannot leave in this garment! People will think me immodest!” Her cheeks were burning with scalding embarrassment.
“Why are you pretending to a modesty that you do not feel, Tabitha Tatiana? Get dressed, now!” He shut the door to the dressing room with a bang.
Tabitha found tears streaming down her face as she put on the dress that was now ruined. It came above her knees, and was much, much too short! She would prefer to leave in the uniform she had been given when she was placed into the holding room. Better that than the hemmed dress! “May I keep this uniform until I am home? Please?” she begged through the closed door.
Owen did not wish to draw attention. “You will remain here, Tabitha.” He left the room, and returned a few minutes later with the dress that she wore when she was arrested. It was considered evidence, although Owen could not imagine why. He tapped on the changing room door and when she cracked it open he pushed the dress through the opening. “I asked to have the evidence released, and the magistrate agreed. Please change quickly.” He wanted to see how this dress looked on her.
Tabitha was relieved. This dress was one of her favorites. She donned it and then stepped through the door, carrying the other dress. She could see the puzzlement in Owen’s dark eyes when he saw her in her dress with the hem the proper length, no more than seven inches above the floor. “Please look, Guardian Owen. This is the hem she sewed; this is my sewing!” Tabitha turned up her hem. “I did not sew that hem in that dress; she did!”
“Why would your stepmother do such a thing?”
“Why would she attempt to poison my father, but she is!”
“You should not make false statements, young lady.” Owen did not know what to think. On one hand, Tabitha Tatiana was sassy and disrespectful. But, she was telling the truth about the hems in the garments. Something was going on, and while he would not shirk his duty by the Courts, he would try to figure out what was happening.
Tabitha looked at Guardian Owen in disbelief when she saw the vehicle he was planning to use to drive them to her home. “You are not serious, are you? You expect me to ride in this?” It looked like something leftover from the turn of the century and worst of all, it did not appear to be safe.
“I live within my means,” the man answered in his calm voice. He opened the passenger door for her, and warned. “Sit fully on your backside, Tabitha Tatiana. I want you to think about the spanking you will receive when we arrive at your home. In time, you will learn to obey me when I tell you to do something.”
“Even if it is morally wrong?” she demanded. “You know that what you asked of me was not proper for an unmarried woman. I am modest of my person.” She insisted.
“You have no say over yourself for the next year, Tabitha Tatiana,” he informed her once again.
“My father is too ill to speak for me, but when he is better, you will wish you had never been born, for mistreating me so.”
The look in her eyes was so serious that Owen found himself believing her; a huge mistake in his profession. He did not answer her, but instead turned on his old vehicle and set the restraints. Hers was so tight it made movement impossible. She gasped, but refused to give him any outward show of discomfort.
Tabitha wished herself home. She longed for a bath in her large antique soaking tub, with some lavender bathing oil. She was positive a soak would relieve her sore bottom, and it would also take away the stress from the last few days. She never again wished to see the inside of the institution where the holding cells were kept.
“I was so afraid this incorrigible child gave you trouble, dear Owen,” that woman said in her shrill voice as she greeted them at the door of the large home.
“Where is my father?” Tabitha asked, looking for him.
“He is too ill to deal with your presence. Go on to your room.”
“Not until I see my father,” Tabitha answered in a polite tone of voice. “I have worried about him, and need to see for myself how he fares.”
“It is your miserable fault that he is doing so poorly!” that woman angrily exclaimed.
“Stop with that, Glory,” Owen said quietly, his voice soothing in spite of the underlying scold. “It is not unusual for a daughter to wish to see her father.”
“Very well, but only for a few seconds. I will not have Jenson upset by that impossible girl.”
Owen did not like the way Glory treated Tabitha, and he was surprised that the redhead was able to control her temper with the woman. He followed along as Glory led the way through the huge turn of the millennium home. Jenson Burnside was lying in bed, holding his stomach and sweating profusely. His eyes lit up when he saw Tabitha, and she went right to him to tenderly kiss his cheek.
“Where have you been, Tabby?” he asked hoarsely.
Tabitha knew that he had no idea of the ordeal she had suffered at the whim of his wife. “Oh, I have been around, Daddy. How are you feeling?”
“I cannot seem to rid myself of this virus.”
“Have you had tests?” she asked yet again.
“There is nothing to be found, daughter.”
“That is enough, Tabitha Tatiana. Your father is too ill for meaningless conversation.”
“No conversation with Tabby is meaningless, Glory. And, who is this young man?” Jenson asked. “I am Jenson Burnside, and you are?”
“Owen Patrick,” Owen replied, shaking hands with the man. He gave Glory a look and then said, “Glory and I will leave Tabitha Tatiana here with you to visit while we have a bit of a chat.”
“I do not believe that to be a good idea.” Glory was angry and it showed upon her face.
“Nonsense! I have missed my Tabby.” Jenson waved them from the large room. “Is that young man courting you, daughter?” Jenson asked the moment they were left alone.
“No, Daddy. He is more Glory’s friend than he is mine.”
“Oh?” It was easy to see that Jenson did not approve of that, and the last thing Tabitha wanted was to upset him in his fragile state of health.
“Daddy, you have been ill far too long for this to be a simple virus. I believe that you are suffering from an allergy to something you are adding to your food. I think we should hire a cook to prepare and serve the food family style. I do not think that your wife’s cooking agrees with your delicate stomach.”
“You could be right, honey. I will speak to Glory about this.”
“She has already refused me the other times I have mentioned it, Daddy.”
“I do not understand Glory, daughter. I will insist she hire a cook immediately.”
“I like the idea of serving family style, Daddy. Glory does not know our tastes, and we are capable of filling our own plates,” Tabitha insisted with a smile.
“I agree. I have asked Glory why she insists upon doing this, and she feels she is taking care of me. I do not like to be waited on in this manner. Thank you for bringing the matter to my attention, child.”
* * * * *
“I was under the impression that Jenson Burnside brought the matter of his daughter’s disobedience before the magistrate,” Owen said to Glory the moment they were out of the bedroom.
“Owen allows that brat to walk all over him, and he is too ill to deal with her properly. She needs a firm guardian who will ensure she behaves and does not bring distress to her parent. I acted in my husband’s best interests, as I am sure you can understand.”
“I think the magistrate will not be pleased when she learns she has been duped, Glory.”
“Do not be preposterous, Owen. Surely you can see that Tabitha Tatiana is concerned for only herself. I am so relieved you are here, and I ask that you restrain her in her room and away from my husband.”
“Why would you ask that?” Owen was surprised at the request.
“Because that brat accuses me of terrible things, such as poisoning my husband! I’ll not tolerate having this home thrown into chaos on the whims of an irresponsible child.”
Owen was a good judge of character, and he did not doubt that Glory falsely accused Tabitha. Until he had proof, however, he would need to treat Tabitha as his ward. He was sure she would be safer with his protection.
Glory left Owen without another word and stomped into her husband’s bedroom, plastering a false smile on her face. “I must insist you let your father rest now, Tabitha Tatiana.”