It’s the week before Thanksgiving, and I’m back in the doctor’s office. This time it’s for pneumonia, and I have to see Melissa’s male colleague since she insists that it’s unprofessional for her to treat me since we’re, uh, sort of… dating. Our relationship is hard to pin down. She’s a separated adult woman with a young son. She’s a doctor and employee of the University where I study. I’m still a closeted lesbian, a student, and I’m technically still her patient for the eating disorder. We sometimes act like any other couple, but she is undoubtedly in charge and isn’t afraid to spank me like I’m a child. It’s all so hard to wrap my head around. What a freaking mess.
Dr. Hamm is a nice, quiet man. He asks if I’ve been taking the medication that he prescribed, and he checks my throat and the sound of my lungs. When he gives me the all-clear, I thank him and dash from his office to text Melissa.
Me: Luckily for you, it looks like I’ve survived pneumonia.
Melissa: I’m so relieved. But really, good thing you didn’t die. I sort of signed us up for a double date tomorrow. Only if you want to. It’s with a friend of mine and her partner.
Me: You’ve never taken me on a proper date. I’ve only been to your house, the grocery store, and once to get dessert in Boston and you didn’t lay a hand on me the entire time to avoid being seen with me…
Melissa: We can talk about that tomorrow, too. I know this hasn’t been easy.
I think about asking her where we’re eating. Control freaks don’t like surprises, and I don’t love eating at restaurants. I’m better than I was two months ago, but I’m certainly not recovered and eating unfamiliar food, in front of people no less, doesn’t sound like my idea of the perfect date. And what if people know the four of us are lesbians?!
When Melissa picks me up the next day, I share my concerns with her in the car. She reaches over and places a hand on my knee as she drives, rubbing gently. “You don’t have to eat anything that you don’t want to, and you don’t have to show affection in public if you’re not ready. I’m on your team here. I wanted you to meet Amy and Juliet because they’re really similar to us. I thought it would be helpful for you- for both of us- to get some advice from them. Amy is on the medical staff at a different university and Juliet is on the women’s softball team. Juliet is a junior now, so only a year older than you. They’re dating and Amy is Juliet’s top. Do you know what that means?” I look over at Melissa and shake my head tentatively.
“Does it mean she spanks her like you spank me?” I ask.
“Smart girl,” Melissa smiles. “Indeed, she does spank Juliet sometimes, but that’s not all there is to it. Juliet lives with Amy now. They are very much in love, but Amy is in charge of guiding Juliet and setting boundaries for her. She disciplines her when expectations aren’t met, though discipline isn’t always spanking.”
“Do they have a contract like we do?” I ask.
“I’m not sure, but I doubt it,” says Melissa, “Most couples who do domestic discipline- that’s what many people call all of this- don’t bother to put the rules in writing. Most rules are common sense. I thought it was a good idea for us since you’re so new, and I didn’t want you to be confused and feel that a punishment was unfair.” My heart swelled with affection. Melissa was really sweet to me, and I was oddly ecstatic to know that other people enjoy being spanked and dominated by a romantic partner. The spanking might not be fun, but the feeling of protection and accountability is.
When we get to the restaurant, we find Amy and Juliet at a booth in the back. I feel instantly better that the space is so private. Amy is athletic and tall, with her curly hair pulled back into a smart bun. Juliet is tan with dark, shiny hair, and the most genuine smile I’ve ever seen. I love her already. We all hug each other like old friends, and then settle in to order.
“I’ve been looking forward to this ALL WEEK!” Juliet squeaks, “I’m SO excited to meet you, Shae. We’re going to be BEST friends.”
“Excellent. Looking forward to it,” I giggle gleefully, not put off by her enthusiasm at all. Melissa and Amy raise their eyebrows in amusement and pass out menus.
“Well,” Amy jokes, “I know that Juliet is amazing, but I didn’t expect you to comb through the athletic department for a girlfriend, Mel.”
“Ha! I didn’t have to look for this one,” she says, glancing at me for effect, “she barged into my office like a tornado and has been as chaotic as one ever since.” We all share a laugh as the waitress comes over and inquires about appetizers. I pull on Melissa’s elbow.
“Only salad,” I whisper urgently, “And not with salami or anything like that. And dressing on the side. And tell them not to bring the bread. No fried food either.” Melissa places her hand supportively on my back and negotiates a salad/vegetable/cheese order with the rest of the table. I can’t turn down cheese. Melissa and Amy order wine, while Juliet and I are stuck with water. While they’re managing the order, me and Juliet chat privately.
“I need to know everything about you!” announces Juliet.
“Well, wow. That’s a lot. I grew up in L.A. with busy, asshole parents. I’ve danced since I was 12 months old and my mom took me to a baby hip hop class. I’m dancing and studying now, I’m in a sorority, and I’ve never been a lesbian until this semester so it’s all kind of new. And the whole spanking thing.”
“Yeah,” Juliet says sympathetically, “I knew I was gay before college, and I sort of knew that I liked spanking. High school softball will teach you that about yourself, yaknow? I was briefly involved with the bdsm community in San Fran when I was only 18 years old. I guess I’ve always known that I’m submissive, but I didn’t feel great about a lot of that kinky stuff. Then I met Amy and wow, she was so nurturing and beautiful and fun and she just happens to keep me in line.”
“A fellow Californian and athlete, and a fellow spanking enthusiast,” I smile, “We are bffs.” Juliet high five’s me, and glances over to see if our girlfriends are still talking. They seem to be deep in conversation, so Juliet reaches over and gently slides Amy’s glass of wine closer to herself.
“I always drink her stuff,” Juliet says, “The drinking age is so pointless. I drink all the time on campus.” I agree, but after my last showing with alcohol, I’m not sure I want to push this point with Melissa. When the older women realize what transpired, they seem to suddenly remember that we’re here. With a patient smile, Amy slides the glass of wine to the other side of her, away from Juliet.
“You can drink in public when you’re 21,” she whispers in a kind but firm voice, “You know the rule.” Blushing, Juliet puts on an angelic presence and kisses Amy on the cheek. Amy rolls her eyes and laughs. “This is what you have to look forward to,” she warns Melissa sarcastically.
We chat and munch on the appetizers until the waitress returns to take orders. Everyone orders a pasta dish. I feel my heart rate pick up. Pasta? No way. There’s no seafood on the menu. No plain chicken breast. What kind of Italian restaurant is this?! “Uh, can I have a bowl of the minestrone soup?” I mumble. Everyone goes quiet and looks at me.
“That’s it?” asks the waitress.
“Yeah.” I reply curtly.
“You should try to have some protein–” Amy begins.
“Don’t start with me,” I interrupt harshly, my eyes narrowed into indignant slits. This woman doesn’t know me, and she certainly isn’t going to tell me how to eat. Sensing tension, the waitress slips away. I look down at my lap to avoid what is probably a very irritated Melissa.
“You need to apologize, NOW,” Melissa growls into my ear, making my heart start to race faster.
“But she doesn’t know me and you know I’m sensitive about eating,” I whine, leaning toward Melissa for protection in spite of my fear that I’m in deep trouble. Amy opens her mouth to apologize, but Melissa holds a hand up, silently insisting that Amy stand her ground.
“I know, baby,” she says, softening just a little. “But Amy knows that we’re working on good eating habits, and I fully appreciate her support. Amy is very kind and caring, and you will show her the same respect that you show me. Is that understood?” There’s a brat war going on inside of me. I want to keep insisting that I don’t owe Amy anything, but she’s so warm and kind, and I want to be friends with Juliet. Swallowing my pride, I look up at Amy.
“I’m sorry I snapped at you,” I say softly, “I know I need to eat better. I get stressed at restaurants and I took it out on you. It won’t happen again.” Satisfied with the apology, Amy reaches across the table and squeezes my hand.
“You’re such a sweet girl,” she praises, “Apology accepted. I know how hard you’re working to get better. How about I give you half of the grilled chicken that comes on my pasta? That’ll be a good compromise, yes?”
“Yes, ma’am, thank you,” I reply sweetly, snuggling my head into Melissa’s shoulder. Now it’s Melissa’s turn to roll her eyes.
“She’s never this demure,” Melissa groans, “She’s showing off for you.” I make eye contact with Juliet and we both burst into giggles. The rest of the dinner is delicious and harmonious. We talk about our relationships, how to handle things when the dynamic gets tough, what to tell other people, and everything in between. I finish my meal and even agree to eat a few bites of ice cream for dessert. When it’s time to go, Juliet and I exchange phone numbers.
“I know you’re outside of Boston, but we can do sleepovers, right?”
“Totally,” I agree with a grin. We hug, and then I turn to say goodbye to Amy.
“Thank you for being so patient with me,” I gush, wrapping my arms around her and burying my head her chest.
“It was so nice to meet you,” she says, patting my head and smiling. “Be a good girl for Melissa. Or don’t. It’s a little entertaining watching her struggle.” She winks at Melissa, who shakes her head and leads me back to our car by my hand.
“You’re not going to spank me, right?” I ask urgently once we’re both sitting in the Audi.
“No. You’re fine. Relax,” she says firmly, “I’m not going to punish you over every little mistake. I love you. You’re stubborn, but I want to support you, not beat you to a pulp at every chance I get. Do you understand?”
“I love you, too,” I blurt back immediately, blushing. Melissa pauses, realizing that it’s the first time that we’ve exchanged the L word.
“I know this won’t always be easy,” she affirms, “but if Am and Jul can do it, so can we.”
“I completely agree,” I sigh, my stress melting into a feeling of contentment and excitement for the future.