18 November 2017

Allie & Natalie's Dude Ranch Mystery (Part 2)



Natalie was spanked for letting out the horses, but still claims that she didn't do it!  Maybe she and Allie can find evidence to prove it?

by Lenore and Breanna





"I didn't think you'd make it!" Steve said when Natalie appeared at the top of the hill later that night, having snuck out of her cabin to join the adolescents that sat around star-gazing and drinking beer.  The greetings she received from her cousins were less-than-welcoming but easily ignored as she plopped next to Steve, wincing because she could still feel the remnants of her severe spanking.  "Word is that you got in a lot of trouble for the horse thing?” Steve asked.

Natalie squirmed feeling her face redden with embarrassment. "Yeah, but I'll figure out who framed me," she assured him. It had been in the forefront of her mind all evening, and she’d ruminated over which of her two “friends” secretly hated her.  She desperately hoped it wasn’t Steve -- he'd been so nice to her the whole trip! But if he didn’t do it, did that mean it was Andi?  Andi had also been really nice to her!  More proof that nobody can be trusted.

They sat around for hours, the older teens drinking while everyone chatted and told stories.  Natalie stayed quiet, spending most of her time listening to her peers rather than giving her own input.  She was doing her best to stay patient... Someone would slip up and give her a clue soon!

Her answer finally came around 2am when everyone was half asleep, drunk, or both. Natty almost didn’t even pick up on it when Andi said, “After lunch I went into town to get new riding boots for the race this weekend."

Peter’s voice rang through her ears:  “Andrea was canoeing, but doesn’t have an alibi.”

Natalie perked up from her spot next to Steve and questioned, "didn’t you go canoeing?”

Andi looked confused for a minute, but then giggled and said, "Yeah I mean after that.”

It wasn’t proof, but Andi’s demeanor gave Natty a strong feeling about who the culprit was, so much that she started to feel sick.  First Elizabeth, now Andi… that was too much betrayal in one night.

With a yawn and pathetic excuse, Natalie left the group and stalked back to the cabin.  Her eyes were teary but she ignored it, instead trying to focus on plotting revenge.  Except she wasn’t sure who she wanted to hurt more, her friend-cousin, or her foster mom.

*****

"Remember to stay close on Andi's trail, okay?  Don't let her out of your sight.  We have to find her guilty of something.  Got it?"

"Got it!" Allie assured her. "I'll catch her, Natty! And I got my camera to prove it!"  

The six year old headed outside, leaving her sister alone in the cabin. Natalie had been ordered to either hang out with her foster parents, or be confined to her room, and since she was still angry at Peter and especially Elizabeth, opted to stay in.  She also somehow convinced Allie to stay in, too, which the foster parents should’ve found suspicious, but didn’t.

It didn’t take Allie much time to find Andi near the edge of the woods.  She snapped a picture, staying hidden amongst the trees as she trailed the older girl, enjoying the fact she got to be sneaky again.

Unfortunately, Andi wasn't doing anything interesting so far, and eventually caught on to the kid following her.  "Hey, what do you want?" she asked Allie.

"I'm just taking pictures of stuff," Allie replied innocently. "I want to remember my trip and all the horsies."  It was mostly true.

At first Andi bought it, but then she kept seeing the brat wherever she went and decided to have some fun with it.  First she went to pool hoping that Allie wouldn't dare join her there without an adult.  But alas, it didn't take long before Allie tiptoed behind with camera in hand.  Then she decided to go to the ropes course, and then to the pier.  Finally, she headed someplace she knew Allie couldn’t follow:  the stables.  She climbed up top Brownie, looking back to see the six year old lopping towards her.  "Let's see you catch up with me now!" she said, then trotted off on the horse.

Allie frowned. She had promised Peter she wouldn't ride alone.... but she’d also promised her sister that she’d figure out a way to get Andi in trouble.  Natty had been framed, and no one believed her except Allie, so she had to do something!  Natty’s innocence is more important than my pinky promise to Peter, Allie said to herself as she secured her camera and climbed up onto the fence, calling Starlight over.  Once the horse was close enough, Allie carefully climbed atop. "Giddy up, Starlight,” she said, clicking her tongue as Peter had taught her.

The horse trotted off and Allie held tightly to the reins, steering Starlight into the woods towards Andi, wanting to keep up.

"Seriously??" Andi shrieked.  "Stop following me you freak!"  She gave Brownie a light kick and bolted deeper into the woods, staying on the same trail Allie was used to, until there was a fork in the path and Andi went left instead of right like they did for their sunrise ride.

Allie sped Starlight up and followed eagerly. "You framed my sister you witch!" she shouted. "I'm gonna catch you!"  

After Andi made a sharp right turn, then a sharp left, Allie lost sight, but didn’t let it stop her!  She just grumbled and continued on the path, going farther into the woods in the direction she thought Andi would be.  All was fine until a snake slithered past and startled the horse, who immediately reared up and bolted.

A piercing scream echoed from the little girl’s mouth and tears immediately began falling as Allie tightened her grip and held on for dear life. "Slow down, Starlight! Slow down! Please slow down!"  When the horse finally stopped running and came to a trot they were way into the woods and lost.  Allie was breathing hard and crying, her hands white from holding on so tight. "Where are we?"

Peter had decided to give the stables one final look when he heard a scream from the woods that sounded eerily similar to Allie.  But it couldn't be -- Allie was inside with Natalie, spending time together.  As he thought it, he realized that his hope for what his foster kids were doing was probably very different than what was actually happening.  And when he glanced over at Starlight's empty space, he knew the scream was Allie's.  "Dammit Allie, what have you gotten yourself into," Peter muttered to himself, mounting Patches and galloping off towards the noise.  "Allie!!" he called.  "Allie, are you there?"  He started out on the trail they normally took, only to notice the recent tracks turning left at the fork.  Using his intuition as a guide, he followed the tracks, continuing to shout, "Allie!!"

Allie didn't hear him, though, as Starlight kept heading deeper and deeper into the bush. "I want Peter," she whimpered, tears still streaming down her face. She scolded the horse, "Don't you do that again, Starlight.  I thought I was gonna fall off!"  The horse finally found a stream and stopped to get water, allowing Allie to take a deep breath and look around.  "How do we get back, Starlight? Everything here looks the same… I don’t know the way and I just wanna go back… I’m scared."

Peter was starting to get worried as he searched for his youngest, still calling out though he didn’t hear any more screams.  Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw where a little tree had been knocked down off the path, creating fresh tracks.  Peter steered Patches in the direction, easily noticing where Allie and Starlight had been.  

"Allie!" he called out again, urging Patches to go a little faster and faster until he heard a faint: "Peter?!”  He steered Patches towards the voice, finally arriving to the stream and meeting Allie and Starlight.  He hopped to the ground and grabbed Allie off the horse, hugging her tightly.  "You have no idea how dangerous this was!" he scolded.

Allie latched onto him, her cries increasing. She buried her face into his neck, tears soaking his shirt. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I was trying to help Natty!"

He didn't care for her excuses, just held her tight so that his racing heart could finally get back to normal.  He'd been so worried that Allie had been trampled -- she was still a beginner and even though Starlight was usually a good horse, anything could have happened!  "Regardless of whether you're helping Natalie or not, you know better than to ride alone on Starlight.  I've told you thousands of times, Allie."

"I was being careful 'till she got scared by a snake," Allie whimpered. "Then she scared me too."  

"Come on, let's get back to the cabin, we'll talk about it there."  He eased her back on Starlight, then hopped back onto Patches, leading the way, but this time back on trail.

They made it to the stables and Peter unsaddled the two horses, allowing Allie to brush them and feed sugar cubes.  

"So you were helping out Natty?" he asked as he washed his hands, waiting for Allie to finish.  Maybe it was worth another walk around to see if they'd missed any evidence.  He looked around the gate where Natty's shirt had been found, seeing the same grass and rocks as he had earlier.  "You don't think Natty let the horses free?"

Allie shook her head.  "She wouldn't go near something she doesn't like unless she has to.  It was Andi who did it. I was following her but then I lost her."

Peter shook his head and squatted down to see if there was anything he hadn't noticed earlier.  And that's when he saw it:  a big footprint right in the middle of horse poop.  First, he knew Natalie didn't have any on her shoes because it would have smelled.  But also the footprint was much smaller than Natalie's.  "Bingo!" he said.  Popping back up, he looked at Allie.  "Let's go, kiddo."  

“What is it?” Allie demanded, skipping to Peter and looking down to see.  “Eeeeewwwwwww!  Andi stepped in poop!!”

“Looks like it,” Peter admitted.

Allie reached out to him, feeling a little clingy after what had happened. “Up,” she insisted.

He sighed.  "You're getting too big to be carried.” But he picked her up anyway.

Peter was only half surprised to find the cabin empty when they arrived.  Of course Natalie hadn't obeyed her lock down rule, but he’d have to deal with that later.  For now he had to have another conversation.

"Allie, you're going to get a spanking for going off like that today," he told her, sitting down on the couch and letting her snuggle up with him.  "We'll wait until you're ready, but I'm warning you now."

"But I was trying to help!" Allie protested. "I would've come back on my own if I hadn't lost Andi and if that snake hadn't scared Starlight!"  She did not want to be spanked. Sure she’d almost gone flying off Starlight but nothing super bad had happened... other than getting lost.

"Every morning and afternoon we discussed the rules and you were told no riding on your own," he reasoned.  "Remember? You even pinky promised."

"But this was a special circ....circum....this was a special reason!" Allie protested, still feeling justified in going after Andi.

"There were many other options you could have chosen.”

"I was trying to get proof!"

"If you ever have to choose between breaking one of Natty's rules or breaking one of my rules, you MUST obey mine first.  If you suspected Andi and wanted to follow her, you could have told me."

"But I woulda lost her if I tried to find you,” Allie argued indignantly. "I like Natty's rules better. Your rules suck."

"Well, Natty's rules may get you a spanking," he replied.  "But I am glad you're safe.  I was really worried about you," he added, remembering again the coaching he'd received from his wife.

Allie was quiet a moment before speaking softly.  "I was scared," she admitted. "I didn't know how to find you. And Starlight went up on her back legs and I thought I was gonna fall off!”

"Horses can be very dangerous... not because they want to be, but they get scared or nervous just like we do.  When they're scared or nervous, their behavior becomes a little more unpredictable."

"Starlight doesn't like snakes," Allie informed him. "She ran too fast."

"I'm sorry you had to go through that alone, kiddo.  That's why I prefer to ride with you, so if something crazy happens I can help you get Starlight back under control."

Allie shifted so she was on her knees and wrapped her arms about his neck tightly. She lay her head on his shoulder and held onto him. "I’d rather you ride with me too...."

"So we agree then?  No more riding horses without me around?"

"I won't ride the horsey without you," Allie promised hugging him a little tighter. "It's too scary..."

"I'm glad to hear it," he admitted and just sat with her a few minutes, waiting for her to calm down and feel safe again.  Once her breathing resumed to normal, he pulled her away for a second. "Let's get the spanking over with so we can exonerate your sister."

Allow pouted. "But Peter...." she whined softly. "Do we have to?"

"Sorry, kiddo, but we do. You were warned not to ride the horses alone, and when a rule is broken, you must accept the consequences."

"But I don't want to," Allie replied, poking her lower lip out.

"I know, me either," he admitted, still holding her there on his lap. "I suppose if you really don't want a spanking, your consequence could be no more horse riding?" He didn't want to take horse riding away from Allie as it was the most positive time they'd ever spent together, but maybe having a choice would make this easier.

Allie looked ready to cry all over again and her lip quivered. "But I like riding the horsies with you! It's my most favorite thing after magic!"

"So it's gonna be a tough choice then," Peter replied, though he felt his heart swell with mixed emotions.

Allie frowned, eyes filling with tears. "I don't like those choices Peter!"

"Sadly not all choices are fun to make," he empathized, squeezing her tighter.

Allie sighed heavily. "I'll take the spanking… 'cause I'm not giving up our horsey rides for anything!"

Peter couldn't help but smile. "Good choice. And the spanking will be over much faster," he reasoned.

"I hope so," Allie grumbled. "I don't like when my bum hurts."

"Well, you know how to avoid it. We have been as clear as possible about the rules."

"Rules are boring," Allie answered. "I need adventure!"

"Rules are necessary," Peter tried to explain. "Without rules there would be chaos and people would just go around doing bad things all the time. It's okay to have some adventure, but rules are there for a reason, and this one in particular for your safety."

"I guess so," Allie sighed softly.  "But I was trying to catch a bad guy."

"That's my job.  Natalie shouldn't have asked you to help -- it's almost our last day here so you’re supposed to be having fun, not going off chasing people.  Now c'mon kiddo, let's get this over with before your sister comes back."

Allie pouted once more but slid from her foster dad’s lap and stood before him. "Where is Natty anyway?"

"That's a great question," Peter grumbled. "We’ll find her once we're finished here."  He unbuttoned Allie’s jeans and tugged them down to her knees, then helped her over his lap. Resting a hand on her panty-clad bottom he asked, "What is this spanking for, Allie?"

"Riding Starlight by myself," Allie answered as she squirmed a little.

Peter landed the first flurry of swats as he continued lecturing. "That's right -- No. *SWAT!* Riding. *SWAT!* Horses. *SWAT!* By. *SWAT!* Yourself. *SWAT!* Not until you're older and have more practice." He then focused on her sit spots a little, wanting to be sure she felt this at dinner.

Allie started to cry and squirmed more, wanting to get away. “I just wanted to help Nattyyy!”

“Then you’ll have to figure out a way to help her without breaking the rules,” Peter said, holding onto her tighter to prevent excessive squirming, then continued with the thunderous smacks.  When her bum turned a light pink, he tugged her panties down to expose her bare bottom.

"Nooooo!” Allie wailed, throwing a hand back. "I'm sorryyyy!”

He easily grabbed her hand, pinning it to the small of her back.  "Why are you sorry?" he wanted to know, raining down a few harder spanks.

"For riding alone!" Allie wailed as she tried to writhe away.

"Why are you sorry for that?"

"'Cause I got lost!" Allie cried out.

"And anything could happen to you if you get lost. And we would all really miss you," he added. He let go of her hand to circle an arm around her waist and continued the spanking, certain he was covering her backside entirely.

Allie cried harder, her little legs kicking up and hands trying to reach back to no avail.  "Owwwwww!" she yelped.

"You have to learn to follow the rules, kiddo, and it'll be much better for your bum."

"I'm trying!"

Peter stopped the hand spanking and lifted the tearful little girl from his lap.  Keeping a tight grip on her hand, he led her to the den, grabbing the wooden ping pong paddle, then sat on the straight-backed wooden chair.  "Allie, going off on the horses by yourself is a really big deal.  You could have been killed out there!  You're so lucky that nothing worse happened to you.  And this isn't the first time we've talked about your running off.  I thought El and I made ourselves clear when you escaped at the zoo, but I guess we didn't."

"Yes you did," Allie insisted. "I didn't run off. Starlight did."

Peter didn't give into the little girl's arguing.  "You can't go off on your own when you've pinky promised you won't.  If you hadn't gotten on top of Starlight in the first place, you wouldn't have gotten lost in the woods."  He lifted her to sit in his lap, pants and panties still bunched at her knees, and held onto her tight.  "I don't know what I'd do if something happened to you," he admitted.

Allie looked a little surprised, as she pressed herself against him squirming a little. "I'm not going no where," she told him. "I'm super girl. Super girl always comes home."  

Squeezing her a bit, Peter said, "I don't want to take any chances.  So you're going to get six with the ping pong paddle, just as an extra reminder not to go off on your own."

Allie pouted. "But my bum already hurts," she whined softly, wanting to protest but at the same time feeling bad for breaking a pinky promise. "And I'm sorry...."

"Only six, then it'll be over and we can find Natty and tell her the big news about the clue we found."

Allie started to cry a little more. "I don't want to," she told him. "But I broke a pinky promise....and those are super important...."

Instead of waiting for her to decide, Peter helped the crying six year old over his lap.  Her naked red bottom wiggled in the air as he gave her the first POP! The ping pong paddle was light, but large enough to cover most of Allie's bum, and on top of the soreness from the hand spanking, it really hurt!

Allie yelped loudly, her legs flying up and hand going to her bum. "No! No! No!"  Her crying increased as she squirmed wanting to get away.

Peter gave her a minute to rub the sting out before moving her hand away and holding onto it.  POP!

"OWWWWW!" Allie wailed loudly, her legs kicking more.

"Are you starting to learn your lesson, Allie?" Peter asked, landing the third POP!

"YESSSSSS!" Allie screeched. "I'M SORRY!!!!!!"

He gave her a moment to cry, then landed the last 3 spanks quickly to get it over with.  He dropped the paddle and also her hand, then scooped the little girl in his lap for a hug.

Allie clung to him tightly as she sobbed. "I'm sorryyyyy… I won't do it agaiiiiin..."

"I hope not, kiddo.  I don't ever want to spank you that hard again."  He patted her back softly, letting her tears wet his shirt, then kissed her on the top of the head.  "I'm glad you've had a nice vacation."

"Can we come back here lots?" Allie asked hopefully. "I'm gonna miss Starlight.”

"We can come again in the spring," Peter promised.  "Let's go find Natalie and then we can go for another ride before dinner."

*****

When Andi wandered back onto the property, Natalie was waiting for her by the stables. "Did ya have a nice ride?"

"What are you doing here?" Andi demanded. "Aren't you supposed to be grounded?"

"Thanks to you."

"I have no idea what you're talking about." Andi hopped off Brownie and gave her a treat, then came towards Natalie. "Your sister was following me all day. You need to tell her to stop."

Natalie ignored that comment and held up a memory stick. "We know you were the one who let out the horses," Natalie said. "I have all the proof I need right here and am seconds away from showing it to Aunt Marcy."

Andi had the nerve to laugh. "You don't have proof of anything."

Natalie fumbled in her pocket for her phone, sneaking it out when Andi wasn't paying attention and hitting the voice recorder. She was determined to get justice!

"We'll leave that up for Aunt Marcy to decide," Natalie said, turning to walk away.   "I'm sure she won't let you around anymore... and maybe she'll even ask Peter to prosecute. I feel so sorry for you. Unless...." she glanced back up at Andi whose face was panic-stricken.

"Unless what?"

"You confess and apologize to me. Then nobody has to know."

"Ha! And why should I trust you?"

Natalie shrugged. "After you apologize, the memory stick is yours," she said, holding it out.

Andi eyed her warily, unsure if she was bluffing.  But what if there really was evidence on the memory stick?  Andi certainly didn’t want Aunt Marcy to find out and ban her from hanging out at the ranch with Anna.

"Suit yourself," Natty said as she turned to walk away, breaking Andi free from her thoughts.

"Wait, wait!  Don't tell Aunt Marcy!"

Natty stopped and turned back towards her with a smile.  "Why not?"

"I'll tell you," Andi grumbled. "It was me, alright? But you were being so stuck up and hogging Steve, so it served you right!"

"That doesn't sound like an apology..."

"I was explaining, jeez," Andi retorted. "I'm sorry I got you in all that shit."

"So you're the one who framed me? You deleted the messages from my phone and planted my shirt and convinced me to go call my boyfriend." Natalie shook her head in half disappointment, half awe. "All because you're jealous."

"I apologized, can I have the memory stick now?" Andi replied. "And you would have done it had the roles been reversed!"

"I'm not as petty and jealous as you," Natalie said and threw the memory stick at the girl. She dug her phone out of her pocket to turn off the recorder, making sure it saved. Then she smirked at the girl and said, "by the way, fuck you. You'll never get a guy like Steve because you're such a bitch." Then she proceeded to push her -- hard! -- right into a pile of horse crap. It was perfect timing, too, because the cousins and Steve happened to be walking by. Natalie didn't wait for them to say anything, instead ran towards the main office, surprised when she met Peter and Allie half way. "I have proof!" she shrieked.

"We have proof too!" Allie told her. She was still latched onto Peter and rubbing her bottom a little off and on. "Peter saw some with the horsies!"

Natalie was too concerned with wanting revenge that she didn't even notice Allie’s pain. "So let's go!! Let's tell Aunt Marcy!"

"Slow down," Peter told her. "Weren’t you supposed to be grounded?”

“Only ‘cause I was blamed for doing something I didn’t do… and now I have proof that I’m innocent!  Can we go already?”  She grabbed at Peter and Allie’s hands, trying to get them motivated to leave.

“Don’t you wanna hear what proof we have?” Allie insisted.

“Tell me while we walk,” Natty said, beginning to drag the two along until they finally reached the porch rocking chairs where Elizabeth and Marcy sat, each sipping on a glass of cider.

"I have proof! I have proof!" Natalie shouted.

Elizabeth and Marcy glanced at each other. "Proof of what, child?" Aunt Marcy asked.

Natalie pressed the play button on her phone and heard Andi’s voice, first resistant and later admitting to framing Natalie. "See?! I told you it wasn't me!!!"

The women raised their eyebrows, El trying to hide the look of shame for having punished Natty so harsh, Marcy only half-believing that the evidence was legit.  "Well who would’ve guessed,” the old woman said, digging her feet into the ground to push herself back in the chair, then releasing and falling forward.  “I simply cannot believe Andi would do something like this.  She’s always such a good girl.”

Elizabeth didn’t say anything, just kept her eyes to the ground so she wouldn’t have to face the accusing glares of Peter and Natty.  

“I also saw Andi’s shoe print near the gate,” Peter said.  “And I think someone needs to have a talk with her.  It’s not fair that Natalie was punished when she hadn’t done anything wrong,”

Aunt Marcy was about to say something, but Dale ran up to them.  "The mare is giving birth!!"

This caused Natalie to growl. She didn't care about the stupid horse, just wanted revenge for Andi!

But Allie gasped in excitement, jumping up and down.  "Let's go! Let's go!”  She’d been checking on the mare at least twice a day to make sure she wouldn’t miss the baby’s arrival, so the news made her forget all about justice for her big sister.

"We can fill Dale in on our way to the barn," Peter said as he took ahold of Allie’s hand to walk with her towards the stables.  The others followed behind, Natty speeding up to Dale’s pace.

They walked for a moment and no one said anything, which was all the prompting Natty needed to make her point. "Andi’s really the one who let the horses out and she blamed me!" He turned to argue, but Natalie already had out her phone and pressed the play button.  She watched him closely as he listened, still unbelieving at first, but upon hearing the confession shook his head in disappointment.

"I'll deal with her soon as the foal is born," Dale promised.

"Justice will be served in due time," Peter also promised to Natalie as they reached the barn.

Allie ran ahead, climbing on the fence so she could get an up-close and personal view of the gooey four-legged creature falling out of his mother’s body.  Natalie couldn’t handle it, though, and covered her eyes, only getting excited when she noticed that a crowd had formed nearby, Andi and cousins included.  

“I wanna name it!!” Allie squealed, jumping down from the fence and running up to Aunt Marcy, batting her eyelashes.  “We should name her Moonbeam!”

Aunt Marcy smiled, thinking about it for a moment and finally agreeing.  "Moonbeam it is!" she declared. "What a wonderful name!"

Allie went back to the fence, climbing up and trying to convince Dale to let her pet Moonbeam, but he refused as the foal was too young.  "They need to rest for now but you can stand and watch from that side of the gate as long as you like."

"Okay!" Allie agreed easily.

The crowd around Moonbeam thickened even more, and Dale caught sight of Andi, calling her over. Natty’s heart raced in trepidation for the tongue lashing she and everyone else were about to witness.

His voice boomed louder than she could have imagined:  “You let out the horses.” Dale loomed over his little sister, arms folded and eyes squinted in anger.

Andi stood there dumbfounded, then  glanced at Natalie and shook her head. "She's lying!"

Dale didn’t respond but simply requested for Natalie to playback the recording. The preteen happily took out her phone and grinned as she turned the volume up for everyone to hear.

"So who is really the one lying?" Dale demanded. "What you did was stupid! You put the horses lives in danger! Just what were you thinking!!?!"

Andi wanted to argue with her brother so she’d look cool in front of all her friends, but Dale was very strict and she knew the more she argued, the harsher her punishment would be. "But I apologized!" she finally said.

"After you thought she was going to tell," Dale stated. "I'm not thrilled about your behavior Andi."

Andi looked down at the ground, cheeks reddening.

Natalie piped up. "She should get a spanking."

"Hush," Peter scolded her lightly. "It's not up to you."

"Oh she's getting spanked that's for sure," Dale answered. "Just not in front of all these people."

"But I think it's only fair that it's in front of me since I got my ass beat because of her," Natalie said, ignoring Peter’s warning.

"Dale nooooo!" Andi begged. If she'd been blushing before, now she was red to the tips of her ears! "Natalie started it all! She was mean to me! Ask Anna!"

Natalie rolled her eyes. "Stop whining and take your punishment like a woman."

Now Andi glared at Natalie. "You... you... you shut up!"

"Natalie," Peter warned.  "I know you're upset but you didn't get punished in front of people and she shouldn't be punished in front of a crowd either."

"You interfered with my job Andrea. You put lives at risk.  And that’s unacceptable," Dale scolded.

"But... but...!" Andi stammered. She didn't like that everyone was staring at her, especially when she was in trouble and especially talking about how she was spanked... and at her age!! It wasn't a secret but still…

Dale was trying to think of somewhere more private to deal with his sister. "Marcy, is there a free cabin right now?" Dale asked.

"Cabin 12," she said. "The keys are in the office."

"I'll go get them!" Vicki chanted. She'd thought she was the only one who still got spanked but now she learned so did Natalie and Andi, which made her kind of happy.

Andi glared at her friend, embarrassed and hating that she was being publicly chastised. "You're supposed to be on my side!" she scowled.

Vicki came back with the keys and handed them off to Dale. Andi sneered at her but was quickly hauled off by her big brother, and had bigger things to worry about. "Dale, pleaseeee," she begged, tears already falling. "I won't do it again, I swear!"

"It's too late for that," Dale said firmly. "Peter, you and Natalie are welcome to come along."

Natalie's eyes widened in excitement and she looked up at Peter, who nodded that they could follow.

"No noooo don't let them seeeee!" Andi tried to dig her heels into the ground to stop her brother but it was no use - he was much stronger than her.

"She's such a baby," Natalie muttered to her foster dad.

"Please stop with the comments," Peter told her. "I'm sure you wouldn't be any less dramatic if it were you."

Dale finally got fed up with Andi trying to slow them down and landed a hearty smack to her jean clad backside. "That’s enough!” his voice boomed, pointing a finger at her.  “If I have to keep dragging you, you're getting extra."

The swat caused big heavy tears to stream down Andi’s face, and she finally stopped fighting, feeling defeated.  There was nothing she could do to prevent the punishment now!

When they finally reached the cabin, Dale led everyone inside and stood his little sister in the middle of the living room.   His large frame towered over hers as he paced back and forth, scolding.  "I'm very disappointed in your behavior Andrea.  Did you really think you could get away with not only letting out the horses, but also framing somebody?"

Andi hung her head, staring at her toes, tears still falling. Clearly Dale’s question was rhetorical.

"What do you have to say for yourself?" Dale demanded, crossing his arms and staring down at her.

"I'm sorry... I'll never do it again!" Andi wailed. She glanced at Peter and Natalie who were watching her from the sofa and blushed again. Most of her dignity had already been lost... and she just hoped her spanking wouldn't be on the bare, or she’d never be able to show her face to the family again!

“It's a little too late for sorry," Dale told her with a sigh as he began removing his thick brown leather belt.  

"Nooooooo," Andi wailed, dramatically falling to her knees.

"Oh puh-leeze," Natty muttered under her breath.  This girl was such a drama queen!  Natalie wouldn't be caught dead acting like that in front of someone!

"Dale, you can't, please, not the belt!"

“Andi get up and stop the theatrics," Dale ordered. "My decision has been made. Don't make it worse for yourself."

Andi obeyed her big brother, still sobbing loudly, but trying to wipe the tears away.  "But I'm sorryyyy!"

"I'm sure you're sorry," Dale replied. "But are you sorry for what you did? Or just sorry you got caught? "

Andi wasn't sure if she was supposed to answer, and just sniffled, not daring look up at Dale.

“Pants and panties down, and bend over to touch your toes.”

Another whine emerged from Andi’s lips and she nervously chewed on her fingernails as she glanced at a smirking Natalie and serious Peter, then unhooked the button of her jeans.  She really didn’t want to do this, but saw her big brother’s brown eyes dancing in flames and knew that she wouldn't be sitting comfortably for a long time already, and she shouldn’t make it worse on herself.

“Today, Andrea,” Dale urged as Andi slowly moved the zipper and gave a final pathetic look before lowering her jeans mid-thigh.  Unsatisfied, Dale tugged them to the floor, then jerked down her panties to meet them.  “You know that I won't tolerate this kind of behavior, Young Lady."

Andi covered herself, mortified at everyone staring and self conscious of her blossoming half-naked body.  "I'm sorry," she said again.

Dale said nothing, just pointed for her to bend over and waited for her to comply.

The scene was intense and Natalie looked on curiously, thankful that Peter had never put her in that position before.  As if it wasn’t bad enough getting a belting, it was even worse having to bend over for one!  How would she ever keep position?

The first CRACK! of the belt made Natty jump.  A red stripe formed on Andi’s bottom as the teen cried out in pain, struggling to not reach back.

"Ooowwwieee! Dale! It hurtsss!"

"It's going to hurt a whole lot more by the time I'm finished,” Dale replied, then landed another loud CRACK! right underneath the first, another squeal from Andi, another red stripe, and then another lash, and another, and another.

Before too long, Andi was crying hard and pleading with him to stop, but Dale tuned her pleas out as best he could, only stopping the whipping when she reached a hand back.  “Move your hand!” he ordered.

Natalie was starting to feel a little bad for Andi, especially since her backside was cherry red by this point, from the top of her butt cheeks all the way down to her thighs.  She wondered if her bottom had looked the same after her spanking last night.

Dale finished up with ten hard lashes, ending with Andi practically on the floor. He gave her a moment to compose herself while he put his belt back on, then eased her panties up and helped her stand.  “Is there something you want to tell Natalie and Peter?” he asked firmly.

“I-I’m s-s-sorryyyyy!” Andi stammered through sobs, rubbing her burning backside.

“If you ever do something like this again, I’ll cut a switch and blister your bottom, do you understand?” Dale said.

Andi nodded frantically and promised to be a good girl, then eased her tight jeans back up.  Dale once more apologized to Peter and Natty, then they went on their way, Natalie smirking as they stepped back into the autumn sunlight.

On their way back to the dining room, Natalie replayed the scene in her mind:  the sound of leather whipping through the air, the thunderous CRACK against bare skin, then Andi's squeals.  She was so happy to have seen the brat get what she deserved, but there was a little nagging feeling inside of her.  It was her anger towards El; she still hadn't been able to forgive.

*****

The rest of the evening was fairly uneventful.  The family ate dinner together and there was only a little tension, though Natalie kept up the silent treatment towards El.  And then everyone began packing as they would be getting up early to leave the next morning.  

Allie was really unhappy about leaving. The ranch vacation had been her favorite weekend ever, and she wished so much that she could stay in the country with Starlight, riding her everyday through the mountains.  She was so sad about leaving that it took lots of snuggles and stories for Elizabeth to finally get Allie to sleep.

Peter ordered the oldest to bed shortly after and El retreated to her bedroom to finish packing.  A sense of dread hung over her, as if she known that Peter was about to walk in, hairbrush in hand.  

"Hon, we need to talk about what happened yesterday,” he said seriously.

"What about yesterday?" Elizabeth asked innocently as she kept packing. Her hands shook with anxiety and she tried to think of a way to get out of this, even if she kind of knew she deserved it.

"You know what," he said, taking the suitcase from her and tossing it aside.  He sat on the bed and pulled her down next to him.

With nothing left to distract her, El looked into her husband’s eyes and finally sighed heavily.  "I feel horrible yet justified at the same time. Her language has gotten out of hand and regardless of the situation it should not be used. But then I feel horrible because she was telling me the truth and I didn't believe her."

Peter nodded. "I will have a chat with her about the language, I know that really bothers you," he promised, then wrapped an arm around his wife's shoulder, wondering if he should follow through on his threat to spank her. It wouldn't be the first time he'd had to apply it to her backside, but usually he only did so when she really felt like she needed it. Was this one of those times?

"I really screwed things up, Hon. She won't talk to me and or even really look at me...."

He certainly knew how it felt to receive the silent treatment from the preteen, even if it didn’t happen that often. "You're doing the best that you can," he assured her. "But I wish you had listened to me when I tried to tell you she didn't do it. That's not like you to ignore me -- what's going on?"

“I felt pressured by everyone to punish her," Elizabeth admitted. "I should have just told them to mind their own business. But all I could hear was Marcy talking about how stupid it was for us to be foster parents to a criminal’s kids.  And I thought about all the trouble Natty’s caused, all the times she’s lied, and just figured that Marcy’s right.  The kids are criminals, and we can’t help them.”

"But you know that’s not the case," Peter said.  “We’ve helped them both a lot.  They’ve been behaving so much better since we provided them with a stable home.”

El just nodded, laying her head on his chest.  She watched as he subtly picked up the hairbrush, inspecting it.

"I bet it doesn't hurt as much as the wooden one we have at home," Peter commented.

"I'm not so sure I want to find out, though I likely deserve it."

"You know what I think?" Peter asked.  He didn't wait for an answer though.  "I think you need to find out."

Elizabeth sighed heavily. "Do I have to?"

"No, you don't have to.  But I think you should."

There was an uneasy silence, but El finally said, "Okay, if you think it's best.  Maybe I won't feel so guilty then."  She managed to push herself up from the bed in a moment of bravery, decision made. "Let's do this."

Before she could change her mind, Peter set the brush back down and reached to unbutton his wife’s jeans, looking up to see her chewing on her lower lip in a pout.  Elizabeth hated it when he bared her bottom -- it made her feel like such a child.  “I hope that you think about this next time your emotions threaten to cloud your judgment,” he said, sliding her pants and panties down. He let her stand there uncomfortably for a minute before saying, "C'mon, Hon, over my knee."

She eased nervously over his lap, trembling slightly when she felt Peter’s hand rest on her bottom.  “I know I deserve this… but I don’t know if I want it,” El admitted, swallowing a lump in her throat. Hopefully the spanking would at least relieve some of the guilt?

"I don't expect you to believe everything Natalie tells you, but I do expect you to be more in control of your anger so you don't let it out on her,” Peter said, caressing his wife’s creamy white bottom.

"I won't take it out on her again," El promised. "I felt like such a monster....and I hate that she probably thinks that now, too."

"You're not a monster," Peter said landing a hard-ish swat in the middle of her bottom. "You made a mistake and it's one I hope you won’t make again." He landed another swat, and another, alternating between each cheek at a slow pace, turning her bottom a light pink color.

“I won’t,” Elizabeth promised, squirming with each smack.

Peter moved towards her sit spots, peppering each of them mildly, then increasing the speed and intensity of the spanking enough to make his wife’s feet kick up in protest.  "What are you going to do next time instead of jumping to conclusions?" he asked between swats.

"I'm going to listen to you and not get angry!" Elizabeth wailed, then held a hand over her mouth to prevent herself from crying out too loudly.

"It's okay to get angry," he reminded. "You just have to deal with it better. Remember what you told Allie and me a couple of weeks ago after the zoo? To take a deep breath? To go for a walk? Anything to clear your head. But don't ever, EVER spank the kids in anger again. Understood?"

"Yes," Elizabeth whimpered.  "I understand."

Peter paused the spanking to allow El a chance to catch her breath, rubbing her back slightly as he spoke.  "And just so we're clear, I won't react in anger either, and I welcome your reprimand any time that I do." He reached for the hairbrush now, taking it in hand and resting the cool plastic against Elizabeth's warm red bottom. He gave her a moment to brace herself, then lifted it up and cracked it against her backside. It was louder than he'd expected!

Elizabeth yelped loudly as she jerked slightly, having forgotten how much the brush hurt. "OW!"

Natalie was in the room next door, unable to sleep, when she heard the POP! and Elizabeth's cry. She cocked an eyebrow and roused from her bed, pressing her ear against the wall to hear what was going on.

The first thing she heard was Peter say, "The wooden hairbrush is quieter," then he smacked it down again, less forceful.

Elizabeth yelped a second time squirming some. "They hurt the same!" she complained, her voice choked as she was trying not to cry.

"Pipe down or the kids will hear," he warned, unaware that Natalie was smirking, hearing the whole scene. He lifted the hairbrush again and crashed it down twice, once on each cheek, then a little harder on her sit spots.

"OWWW!" Elizabeth exclaimed as she started to cry. "You get in this position and try to keep quiet!"

Peter chuckled. "Do you really think you've had enough? Natalie took hers better than you are right now!" He knew, though, that he was spanking much harder than El had Natalie, but couldn't resist the playful teasing.

"Well good for her " Elizabeth muttered. "She's been spanked more recently than I have."

Peter cleared his throat and said in a more serious tone, "I want to make sure that your guilt is resolved, which means that I'm going to give you the equivalent of what she felt. Which means it's going to hurt a lot." He circled an arm around her waist to keep her in place. "Remind me what this spanking is for, Elizabeth."

She quivered, not liking that he used her full name.  "For acting in anger instead of patience and understanding," El answered shakily.

Peter lifted the hairbrush and rained it down against her backside, not giving her a chance to breathe before bringing it down again and again. He spanked her entire bottom and sit spots, then the tops of her thighs, ignoring the yelps and cries.

"OW! OW! OWWWW!" Elizabeth wailed with each swat. "I'm s-sorryyyyyy!"

"Are you learning your lesson?" he asked, still peppering her red bottom with hard swats, holding onto her tight so she wouldn't squirm so much.

"Yes! Yes!" Elizabeth wailed, throwing her hand back to prevent the assault on her backside from continuing. He quickly caught her hand and she squeezed it tight, glad that he’d paused the spanking for a moment.  “I won’t do it again!  Please no more!”

Peter knew his wife was reaching her limit, but she wasn’t quite there yet.  So he lifted the brush and cracked it down at full force, scolding as he spanked.  “No. *CRACK!* More. *CRACK!* Jumping. *CRACK!* To. *CRACK!* Conclusions. *CRACK!* No. *CRACK!* More. *CRACK!* Taking. *CRACK!* Anger. *CRACK!* Out. *CRACK!* On. *CRACK!* The. *CRACK!* Kids. *CRACK!**CRACK!* Do. *CRACK!* You. *CRACK!* Understand? *CRACK!*”  

“Yessssss!” El promised, tears streaming down her face as she lay there limply, no more fight in her.   

With his wife’s bottom sufficiently red, Peter stopped the spanking and set the brush down on their bed.  He gently rubbed her bottom, trying to ease some of the sting, though it didn’t look like she’d be sitting comfortably for a while.  Elizabeth’s face was buried into the bedspread, tears flowing freely as she absolved herself from any guilt she’d been feeling.

When her sobs subsided a little, Peter helped his wife up to sit on his lap, holding her close and letting her finish crying into his chest.  She snuggled into him trying to calm down, then managed to whisper a weak, "Thank you.”

Peter planted a kiss on her teary cheek.  "I love you, Hon.”

"Love you more, Hon."

Natalie groaned with disappointment that the spanking had stopped, but couldn’t help smirking a little as she’d caused two spankings in one day, which was kind of awesome.  Too bad she still felt the sour taste of betrayal in the back of her throat.

*****

The next morning Peter took Allie for their sunrise ride while Natalie and El ate breakfast together in awkward silence.  (The preteen couldn’t help but notice her foster mom wince as she sat on the hard dining room chair. It was almost hilarious enough to consider forgiveness.  Almost.)  When they finished the morning activities, Peter and Natalie finished packing the car, El said her final goodbyes to the family, and Allie fed a bucket of sugarcubes to Starlight.

"C'mon little monkey, it's time to go,” Peter said once the car was packed.

"I don't want to," Allie said tearfully from the stall. She was laying atop the horse, hugging her.

Peter sighed and smiled.  "I know, kiddo.  But we have to get back to your dad."  He inched towards the little girl and pushed her hair back behind her ear.  "We'll come back to see Starlight in the spring.  And by then, Moonbeam will be big enough for you to pet and ride."

"But I'll miss them too much," Allie argued softly. "I can call Daddy. I can't call the horsies.”

"I’m sure we could figure out a way to videochat with Aunt Marcy, or ask her to send pictures or videos," Peter promised.

Allie pouted. "I'd like that....but I still don't wanna go...."

Dale came over now, shaking Peter's hand and patting Starlight on the neck.  "Allie, I'm sorry but I have to take Starlight to get her shoes fixed.  It's time for you to get goin' with Peter, okay?"

Allie started to cry more, her tears dripping down onto the horse. She didn't want to go but really needed a hug, so finally reached for Peter.

His arms reached out for her, and he held the little girl tight, rubbing her back to soothe her tears.  "We'll be back soon, kiddo."

"Not soon enough," Allie argued through tears as she buried herself into him.  "I'm gonna miss our rides."

"I’m going to miss them, too," he admitted, carrying her to Elizabeth, who helped Allie into her car seat.

"It's tough to say goodbye," El said, petting Allie's hair.  She looked towards Natalie who was still giving her the silent treatment and said, "Why don't we have a special lunch.  Chuck E. Cheese?"

Natalie just rolled her eyes, but Allie brightened up really quick and chirped, “Okay!”

Surprisingly, the ride home was fairly peaceful.  Allie was so excited about Chuck E. Cheese that she didn't even bother the preteen for her phone.  And Natalie, well, she was too busy checking allllllll of the messages she’d missed over the weekend to even engage in conversation with her family.

One of the best messages Natalie received was from her friend, Adriana, an eighth grader who hung out with high school kids.  

Look what I got! the message said, and in the background, a picture of her new fake ID.

Natalie shook her head, smirking as she typed, the font size is way too big, they’ll know it’s fake from a mile away.

Is there anything you don’t know?!  Adriana answered, but she knew her friend was smiling and about to hook her up with a badass and illegal job.

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