“Because I didn’t steal the earring. This is a mistake!”
“Well, you can tell that to the police. I’m sure they’ll take that into account.”
“No!” Natalie was terrified, and it showed in her voice and actions. She clasped her hands together tightly, as though in prayer. “Please, no!”
Alex paused. He looked Natalie up and down and leaned forward. He leaned forward and lowered his voice to a growl. “So what do you suggest?”
“Whatever you want, Mr. Drummond,” Natalie said, pleading. “Fire me. I’ll leave right now. And you don’t have to pay me.”
Alex frowned. “I wasn’t going to pay you anyway. You owe me for the broken dishes and the food you’ve ruined.”
“Or next week,” Natalie said, her voice rising. “I’ll stay another week, and I’ll work for free! Please!”
“So you think I’m the kind of person you can bribe?” Alex’s eyes got wide. “You think I won’t report you and that you can buy me off of reporting this theft to the police by offering to give back two week’s wages?” Alex was working up to a righteous anger. He stood up. “I’m calling the police,” he said. “You’re probably going to jail, and you’re definitely not going to that fancy college anymore,” he sputtered. “And do you think you’re going to be able to find another job with a criminal record?”
Natalie burst out into tears. “Oh god,” she blubbered. “Please! Anything! I didn’t steal– I didn’t mean to keep–” Natalie was starting and stopping sentences as cried and tried to reason with Alex. “Oh, Mr. Drummond, please.” Natalie’s bottom lip quivered, and tears stained her face.
As Natalie begged, Alex pondered. He stroked his chin and once again sat down behind his desk. Alex narrowed his dark eyes and let Natalie’s fear push her into chattering promise after promise. Eventually, he raised a hand.
“How did they punish thieves at your college?” Alex asked. “Do they have any stringent methods of making today’s young people obey?”
Natalie paused in her effusive promises, her open and her own eyes wide. There was something in Alex’s voice. “I don’t know, Mr. Drummond,” she said. “I would think the school expels them.”
Alex smiled and showed his teeth. “Oh, I’m sure they must have other remedies. Too many rich kids at that school to expel them willy-nilly.”
Normally, Natalie would have giggled at Alex’s odd choice of words. Willy-nilly was such an out-of-date word. But then, even though he was a young man, Alex was old-fashioned – both in his dress and in his thoughts. As Natalie realized this, a horrible thought occurred to her. “You don’t mean…” She allowed her voice to trail off.
“Mean what, Natalie?”
“I mean – no – you don’t mean a spanking?”
Alex smiled and showed his teeth again. His own voice was full and rich, but he kept it low. “Well, that is exactly how I think we should deal with this.” He clasped his hands and interlaced his fingers. “Indeed, I think you would prefer a spanking to other my other method of resolving this issue.”
“But Mr. Dru-Drummond.” There was a catch in Natalie’s voice. The thought of her being spanked by Alex was just too awful.
“OK, then,” he said. “I’ll call the police instead. But I don’t want you to think that I didn’t give you a chance to stay in school.” Alex reached for the phone.
“NO! Mr. Drummond. No!” Natalie held up her hands in a pleading gesture. She had tears in her eyes, and her lips were trembling. “I need time to think!”
“You have one minute.” Alex tapped his wristwatch, and made a show of looking at the second hand.