(Being the second of occasional extracts from my novel)
When a-punting you go on the river
Two things you must know of your lover
Has he the arrow
To pleasure your furrow
And the wit to be quick with his quiver?
Limerick by Catherine Mallory Jones
I am going out with a boy from my poetry group, Ryan Donovan, who truly has the soul of a poet. This afternoon he’s taking me punting on the river and I’ve packed a lunch for us and a bottle of wine. I have plans for Ryan Donovan.
I’m wearing a cotton frock embroidered with baby blue forget-me-nots, lightly gathered beneath my breasts so I don’t need to wear a bra. I am not wearing panties either, although Nanny Burton says to always carry a pair in your purse because you never know when you might need them.
I am reclining on pillows in the prow while Ryan, standing in the stern, poles us along. Most people, tourists mostly, never venture more than a couple of hundred yards from the landing, but my boy, the would-be rowing blue, is taking us to a place less travelled, beyond the end of the towpath, past civilization as we know it, where the river meanders unnoticed through fields of poppies that nod their heads at us beneath weeping willows. Steering close to the bank, he plucks a poppy, theatrically touches its scarlet petals to his lips and gallantly presents it to me. I thread it into my hair and reward him by laying back, closing my eyes and casually allowing the hem of my frock to ride up until I can feel the sun high up on my thighs…
…We have found ourselves in a grassy clearing secluded by mulberry bushes and elm trees where we lay out our blanket, the gentle swell of the river at our feet. It feels like there is no one to disturb us for miles around. For a few blissful minutes we lie silently together staring at the high summer clouds, listening to the river and the birds singing, breathing in the fresh air and the fecund smell of the countryside.
We kiss, at first shyly, then passionately and when I feel his hand on my breasts I close my eyes, my nipples hardening to his touch. I turn on my side while he slides his hand under my frock, stroking my thighs, moving higher, teasing the soft down of my pubic mound, settling on the plump roundness of my buttocks. I moan and move seductively beneath his splayed fingers. Hungrily, we tear off our clothes and kiss long and deeply. I can feel him hard against me and I sense he is ready to make love.
I get to my knees showering him with kisses, my mouth and tongue moving down his body. But before I reach his manhood, he sits up and whispers in my ear, words that make me catch my breath.
“Excuse me, but what did you say?”
“What I said, Catherine was, ‘Have you ever been spanked?’”