Natalie’s eyes were dark and glittering. I saw no forgiveness in her face, and I knew that I’d finally pushed her too far. Slowly, she unbuckled her belt and slid it through the loops of her khaki skirt. I knew that belt well. It was the one I’d given Natalie on our 3-month anniversary. It was handmade in Italy, a lovely dark brown length of leather with an embossed tip and a silver buckle. The silver buckle was big and bold with a scarab beetle hammered into the soft metal. The leather was sectioned and etched with ridges.
As the belt came free of the fabric, I realized what she was going to do.
“Please, Natalie. No,” I pleaded.
Natalie pressed her lips into a tight line and folded that Italian leather over to make loop. “You lied to me,” she growled. Natalie’s voice was low in her throat, and a tremor of fear raced through my body in response to the threat her voice implied. “You disobeyed me, and then you lied about it, Olivia.”
I cringed at the harsh sound of my name in her mouth. At any other time I would have melted in her arms. But not now. Not when her anger was written so clearly in every move of Natalie’s slender form. “I won’t do it again,” I cried. “I’m so sorry.” I felt like an insect in her sharp gaze, insignificant and small, unworthy of her love.
“I know you’re sorry, Olivia,” she said. “But sometimes that’s just not enough. Now stand up.”
“Please, Natalie. I promise, I’ll never do it again!” Tears rolled down my cheeks as I begged my girlfriend’s forgiveness.
“Stand up,” she said. Natalie was unmoved by my cries. “Now.”
“Natalie, oh god, Nat! Please no!”
“I will not ask again.” Natalie slapped one hand with the folded over belt. Her voice dropped, low and dangerous. “Stand up, or–” She waved her hand in a slow circle. “This relationship is over.”
Those words were like a bucket of ice water thrown in my face. I couldn’t imagine my life without Natalie. All that we’d done. All that we’d been through together. Over and ended for just a few moments of pleasure and lying. I couldn’t take that. Couldn’t be separated from Natalie over something so stupid. I scrubbed the tears from my face with the back of my hand and stood up reluctantly. She put her hands on my hips and then turned me around to face the wall. “Take off your dress, Olivia.”
I gulped and took a deep breath and tried one more time. “Please,” I said. “You can’t do this, Natalie.”
“If you don’t take off your dress, I will.”
At any other time, those words would have been playful – a wicked invitation to a night of lust and giggles. But not today. Not now. Not after what I’d done. Dropping my shoulders, I slid my dress to the floor, exposing my blue satin panties. I stood facing the wall, eyes unfocused and crying again.
“I trusted you, Olivia. More than I ever trusted anyone, I trusted you.” I heard the hitch in Natalie’s voice. She was crushed by my betrayal. My lies. “But you broke that trust. You disobeyed me, and then you lied to me.”
Natalie’s words were like a punch to the stomach. Tears slid down my face, and a hot flash of guilt swept through my body. I had let Natalie down. More than that, I betrayed the woman I loved. Realizing that I had really harmed our relationship, I raised my arms above my head, leaned my face against the cool wall and waited.
Behind me, I heard the swish of the leather belt as Natalie raised it high above her shoulder.