There are buildings that greet you with effortless grandeur. It might the scale of their lofty ceilings and expanse of floor space that scarcely betrays the interior aspect. Sometimes it might be an eye catching feature, a grand fountain or sculpture. Or it might be the sheer quality of the decor and furnishing. Unostentatious luxury, not simply the blingy accoutrements of someone who is trying too hard.
In the case of Acme Paddle Inc, it was all of these things. A spectacular glass atrium around three stories of internal height and with exposed balconies overlooking the luxurious reception area. They proudly boasted it to be the size of six tennis courts. In the centre, standing almost three metres high was a scale replica of the Model One, their first spanking paddle to sell over a million units globally. It was the product that had set them on course for literal world domination in their rather specialist field.
"Welcome to Acme Paddle madam, do you have an appointment?" had been the opening words of the receptionist at one of the two octagonal information booths that served to greet guests as they entered the twelve storey building. The rather austere uniform, starched white blouse and blue blazer, belied her natural beauty, but could not conceal her tumbling golden hair and sparkling eyes.
"Actually, I have my ID badge," Judy replied easily, holding it to the electronic reader that was perfectly inlaid into the solid wood of the reception desk. There was a slight glow as the screen behind the reception desk sprang to life at the contact of the security tagged ID badge. "I'm supposed to meet my new supervisor, it's my first day transferring here from Customer Care."
The receptionist glanced at the screen and smiled. "That will be Steve, our head of research. Actually, I see he's on his way over."
Judy followed the gaze of the receptionist. From a large set of sliding doors a tall man emerged, grey suit trousers showing below the hem of an immaculate white lab coat, a single silver pen clipped inside the breast pocket. Momentarily pausing to acknowledge the greeting of a small group of colleagues who moved across his path, he strode over and held out his hand in greeting.
"You must be Judy." His handshake was firm, the smile warm. "I'm sorry I couldn't be here when you came for interview but I looked over your CV and I have to say we're all very impressed by your experience. Your research role at Spanks'R'us will be invaluable, and some of your other past projects sound very exciting."
For a fleeting moment of hesitation, Judy glanced down at her feet but quickly recovered her composure. After all, she thought, everyone bends the truth on their job applications. Even so, she privately hoped she'd not bitten off more than she could chew in one or two of her wilder embellishments.
If Steve noticed, he gave no acknowledgement. "No reason to be modest, I'm certain you'll be an absolute asset to the research team. I'll give you the tour and we might have a little admin to go through, but company policy is that we like to get all staff into the lab on their first day. We like to show it's not all sitting around filling out reports and data sheets."
By 11am they were back to Steve's office on the eighth floor. "So that's it. Bit of a whistle stop tour I'm afraid, there's just so much to see, but you'll soon find your way around. Next stop will be one of our test labs." Picking up a slim aluminium briefcase and a neat red clipboard from his modern and - Judy had been quick to note - fastidiously tidy desk, Steve headed to the door. "Lab 14B," he said glancing at the clipboard, "it's one of our smaller, cosier labs."
For the second time that morning Judy began to feel a little nervous. True, her move from the Customer Care section into Research and Development had meant a substantial pay rise and the prestige of working on the upper floors, but she was well aware of what her duties as a senior trials assistant in the world's largest manufacturer of erotic spanking implements might entail.
It was exactly as Steve had described, a small lab, entered through a heavy door that was padded on the rear with a smooth, quilted fabric. The room itself looked more like a comfortable home-office, a small conference table standing at one side and a softly carpeted seating area forming a rather homely area in the opposite corner. "It's nicer than my living room," Judy said, only half joking. It was also noticeably warmer than the office areas.
"For our particular work we like to ensure the lab is as comfortable as possible. Don't be nervous, this morning should be a breeze for a young lady of your background." That seemed like another reference to her rather less than honest CV and sowed another seed of doubt in her mind. Did he know?
Steve had closed the door behind them with a reassuringly heavy click and laid the briefcase on the conference table, extracting a small round container. "We're well aware of our responsibilities," he began, "as we've established ourselves as the leading global supplier of spanking paddles, and with that we know there's a great responsibility for aftercare. Not to put too fine a point on it, tender pink bottoms, tingling and sore, perhaps in need of a little TLC."
He handed the small container to Judy. "Fifty Shades of Grey Soothe Me After Spanking Cream?" she queried.
"One of the current popular brands," Steve explained. "We've been asked to take a good look at it and write up our analysis for our internal marketing team. Fragrance, feel, moisturising effect, and so on. It's with their bods upstairs to decide if it's an area of the market we should get involved with. But of course our report will feed into that process."
Finally Judy broke into a smile. This really wasn't sounding so bad after all and she began to see that her earlier nervousness was perhaps misplaced. "That sounds fine. I've always been an advocate of a good skin care regime."
Working through several pages of questionnaire on Steve's clipboard, together they covered the responses in some detail. Elegant and glossy outer packaging that spoke of understated luxury. The pot itself, a small 50ml container felt solid and the cap screwed on and off securely. No danger of leaks if stored discreetly in your underwear drawer.
The cream itself, described as a blend of massage oils including almond oil, arnica and cocao butter, felt cool and smooth in texture. It absorbed easily and in their patch testing it certainly left her skin feeling soothed and well moisturised. Moments later, there was no glossy residue left on the skin as she had sometimes found with similar creams,
Deeply inhaling one of the test patches on her forearm, Judy commented, "it has the smell of a man's subtle aftershave. It's really nice." All feedback was duly noted on the forms and within half an hour they were complete.
"Excellent," Steve declared as he set down the clipboard.
"Now, obviously there can be a slight awkwardness as we progress to phase two of the tests, but my experience has been that if we simply move swiftly on, that generally proves to be the best approach. If you'd like to undress and join me in the seating area we'll begin straight away. Just leave your clothes on the conference table."
It was so matter of fact that Judy took several seconds to register what she had just heard.
"But... but, surely you don't mean," the sentence trailed off as she struggled to gather her thoughts.
"Yes, I'm sure the exact same procedure as all the other roles you described on your CV, of course. We believe in completely nude assistants in all tests. Even delicate undergarments can affect the results of our testing programmes, so our best-practice is that all tests are base-lined in the exact same manner."
Standing speechless, Judy knew she would either have to act up to the role she had portrayed for herself, or admit the truth of her dishonest CV and job application forms. It would mean the immediate and insalubrious demotion back to her old job - if she was lucky. She pictured the embarrassment of being politely escorted from the offices to face her old colleagues, and to whom she'd so proudly boasted of her rapid career progress. And more than anything, that upward career path was what she wanted.
Deeply aware that only a single door separated them from the busy corridor outside she made her choice. With a discreet glance towards her boss, she began to undress, shyly facing the table, deliberately folding each garment, postponing what she knew to be inevitably coming next. Despite the butterflies in her stomach, a streak of the exhibitionist within her wondered if he was watching her, admiring her body in spite of his outward air of professional detachment. Above all, she was well aware that she was possessed of an especially fine bottom.
When she finally turned around, she saw Steve seated comfortably on the low sofa in the centre of the seating area. He seemed relaxed and spoke with the same calm assurance. "I'm sure you know this part of the procedure? Lay down across my lap and try to make yourself comfortable. Bottom pushed up please."
Resisting the instinct to try and conceal her nakedness with her hands, she approached him, and with a nervous swallow, followed his guidance, shuffling herself awkwardly forward until her hips were raised above his lap and both hands were on the floor. Her emotions raged, a guilty excitement that was tinged with mild apprehension. "Is that OK?"
"Quite perfect." As he spoke, his left arm wrapped around her waist in a gentle and yet secure embrace, drawing her in towards his body. "Try to relax." His right palm met her nervously upturned behind, gently massaging each cheek, measuring distances, gauging the firmness of her cheeks, exploring the tone of her muscles. She knew the preliminaries were almost over.
When she felt his hand lifting, lightly brushing free of her bare bottom, the hairs on the back of her neck prickled and the delightful tingle of goosebumps spread across her shoulders and arms. Her fingers instinctively spread into the deep pile of the carpet, tensed for balance. Glancing down and back, she could see through a gap below the level of Steve's knees and saw the surreal sight of her brightly painted toenails hanging just a few inches above the floor.
And then it came, only the first of many. Steve's broad palm and relaxed fingers impacted squarely in the centre of her bottom. The sound of a sharp smack filled the small room and a delicious warmth rapidly spread through her backside.
With measured firmness, first to the left - then the right, Steve built up an evolving rhythm. Now a slow half dozen. Firm swats where he lingered afterwards, firmly rubbing the reddened hand-print that was left behind. Now a lighter, but far more rapid sequence, several spanks to one cheek before moving to the other. Then another shift in pace, this time to a longer sequence of the slow, firm spanks. There was no preordained recipe and no particular plan. He acted with instinctive artistry, the only constant being that at every stage the intensity was slowly building.
Judy could feel her heartbeat race as she meekly submitted to the spanking, drinking in the sensations that quickly filled her perky bottom. What began as a lightly stinging warmth was developing by degrees into a deep, throbbing tingle, and one that she soon became aware went beyond the mere curves of her bottom. Her heart almost skipped a beat as she sensed the familiar and relentlessly swelling buzz of arousal, racing outward from the core of her belly, the tickle of heat and pressure between her thighs.
Suddenly it was not only the cheeks of her bottom that were reddened. She felt herself blushing as she questioned how this could possibly be turning her on so much? More importantly, would Steve somehow be able to sense her excitement?
She felt light, floaty, her whole body alive with sensation, and scarcely noticed that Steve had upped the speed and intensity still further. His right hand was now dancing around her glowing backside. And then, quite suddenly, it was over, and as if from the muffled distance she heard Steve's voice, drawing her back from an almost trance-like state.
"Sorry, I missed what you said." Her voice was breathless as she spoke. "Is everything OK?"
"That's exactly what I was asking you," Steve replied. "You were really in the zone. I just wanted to check you're doing fine."
Releasing the snug embrace of his left arm from around her slender waist, his fingertips gently rested on her bottom, immediately feeling the warmth that was radiating from her skin. "And I would say we're definitely ready to move into phase three of our test."
For an anxious moment Judy had visions of the wide range of spanking paddles she knew would probably be available to Steve's every whim, and wondered if she would even be able to sit down after this was all over. But to her immense relief she felt a coolness in the centre of each cheek as Steve scooped up a generous finger-full of the Fifty Shades of Grey Soothe Me After Spanking Cream and gently began to dab and spread it around the reddest areas of her behind.
Even with her head down in the position she still obediently maintained across his lap, a waft of musky aroma reached her nose and she sighed deeply. For the first time in their encounter she closed her eyes and relaxed into the circling motion of his fingers and palms as the cooling cream soothed away the prickly sting she was feeling. It was simply dreamy.
When the time came, Steve guided her back to her feet and placed his hand on her upper arm, giving her a reassuring smile. "Very well done Judy. I knew we'd make an excellent team." Reaching down to a low shelf that was almost out of sight behind the comfortable sofa, he produced a white fleece bath robe and draped it around her shoulders. It was light, fluffy and delightful to touch.
"Take a moment to compose yourself. I'll join you on the sofa and we'll complete the final parts of the questionnaire."
Their final report was extremely positive in every regard. The Soothe Me After Spanking Cream from the Fifty Shades range did it's job exactly as described. It was wonderfully calming and seemed to help the redness quickly fade. "It certainly has my seal of approval," Judy concluded.
Whether or not the marketing folks were influenced was impossible to say, but as always, the research team were 100% dedicated to their mandate of unflinching, rigorous investigation.
Steve's work often required him to deliver several spankings per day and he eventually succumbed to what broad minded physiotherapists term spanker's elbow, a form of tendonitis that requires a lengthy period of rehabilitation. Not to be disheartened, he went on to invent a new and extremely lightweight spanking paddle that delivered maximum sting to willing bottoms, whilst reducing elbow and forearm strain. On the basis of two years of royalty payments he was able to retire to a quiet life in the countryside.
Judy happily achieved her ambitions and did indeed progress her career upward through the research team. Eventually, at the mandated age of 33, she withdrew from any further trials and now heads up the quality control team on the tenth floor. It's to be noted that in this senior role, she occasionally revisits the labs, but this time to deliver a spanking in person. She's a true professional, of course, and insists it's all about maintaining the highest quality standards.
Sherilyn, the remarkably glamorous receptionist, eventually worked her way up to the marketing department and became the star of a viral marketing campaign for Steve's ultra-lightweight Ergo-Paddle. Her innocent good looks and curvaceous figure helped propel the Ergo-Paddle into the spectacular success story that it remains to this day. It's rumoured that her bottom was insured for £25,000.