“Oh my gosh….your brother is so hot!” Ashley gushed quietly as Cara’s older brother Jamie walked past the front desk with a smile and a nod towards them on his way from the back storage building up to the office he shared with his assistant Lauren.
Cara acknowledged the fact that Jamie was often the subject of her friends’ obsessions. Why not? He was a museum curator with a master’s degree in history, and a carpenter by trade. Could there be a more attractive combination to a girl? He was tall, strongly built, and dressed the part very well. On this particular day he must have been meeting with someone important because he paired a spiffy black blazer with his usual semi-loose fitting darkish jeans and standard museum t-shirt. He was bald by choice, quite pale, yet with a healthy tan, had one pierced ear and a round, happy, smiling face.
One major perk of having a museum curator for a brother was the guarantee of a part-time job. Cara was currently stationed as a floater between the front desk and gift shop with Ashley, a fellow university student who she met when they were both scheduled to work the same shift in the gift shop. They quickly became good friends, and along with that came Ashley’s unrelenting crush on Cara’s brother.
Eighteen years separated Jamie and Cara, and when their parents were killed in a tragic car accident eight years ago, Jamie jumped in and insisted 10 year old Cara move in with him and his wife Candace. Cara was eighteen years old now, and a history student at the university located in their city, with plans of following in her brother’s footsteps and eventually securing a professional job in a museum. She was given the choice to live at home or move out and live on campus, but she chose to stay at home. Although she was an adult she didn’t feel quite ready to move out and adored her brother and his wife. They didn’t have any kids yet and in many ways, Cara had become more like their daughter. She loved them and their home and wouldn’t have chosen to live any other way, despite the fact that Jamie and Candace’s method of discipline wasn’t exactly something Cara liked. But she respected them and their rules. If she chose to break one, it was her own fault….usually. She had argued that she was too old to be subject to their discipline, but that was no use.
“Stop,” Cara said to Ashley, rolling her eyes. She didn’t need to hear yet another analysis of her brother’s good looks, sense of humor, and personality. “Wanna go to the movies tomorrow?” she asked, changing the subject.
“Sure…let’s go for sushi too.”
“Deal,” Cara said smiling.
“Oh hey, it’s 5! We can cash out,” Ashley said enthusiastically. They had been anxiously awaiting closing time for hours. They didn’t have a customer all afternoon and had been getting more and more bored and restless.
“Oh thank goodness,” Cara said, standing up and moving over to her place at the cash register. As she and Ashley started counting their registers, the phone rang.
“Hello?” Ashley asked, noticing by the ring that it was an internal call. “Yep, just a sec,” she said handing the phone to Cara. “It’s your brother.”
“Hi,” Cara said into the phone.
“Can you stop by my office before you leave?” Jamie asked.
“Sure, I’ll be up in a few minutes,” she said. She and Jamie usually travel separately because their hours differ quite a bit from day to day.
The girls finished cashing out, gathered their bags, locked the doors, and headed upstairs to the accountant’s office. They put their floats into the drawer, locked it, and continued down the hall toward Jamie and Lauren’s office.
“See ya tomorrow?” Ashley asked as they approached Jamie’s door.
“Yeah, think about what movie you wanna see”
“See ya,” Cara said, turning the knob to Jamie’s office. Ashley continued down the hallway and down the back staircase.
“Hi Cara!” Lauren said cheerfully. Cara had always liked Lauren. She wasn’t all that much older…only eight years actually. She had long, natural red hair, and was the most down-to-earth person Cara had ever met. Very simple and direct, yet very friendly and fun to be around.
“Hey Lauren,” Cara replied. As she entered Lauren left, a pile of papers to be photocopied in her hand.
“Close the door Cara,” Jamie said, spinning in his chair back around to face his desk, and Cara, who closed the door and turned back to face her brother.
“What’s up?” she asked, casually, and a little impatiently. She was anxious to get home and out to meet a friend with dinner.
“Do you have plans tonight?” he asked.
“Yeah, Katie and I are going out for dinner.”
“I’d like you to cancel please, Candace and I need to talk to you about something.”
“Well…talk to me now. What?”
“We’ll talk about it when I get home. I want you to go straight home and stay there please.” Jamie said seriously.
“Is something wrong?” Cara asked, sifting through her recent memories for a clue.
“We’ll talk about it when I get home,” he repeated a bit more slowly.
“Jamie….” Cara protested.
“Cara….” He warned.
“Okay. I’ll stay home,” she sighed, turning and leaving his office. She racked her brain about what he could possibly want and couldn’t come up with anything. It was probably nothing, she convinced herself as she hopped in her 2009 Chevy Malibu and started home.
Candace wasn’t home yet either, so Cara was totally lost. It was probably nothing. Nine times out of ten she knew when she had done something she wasn’t allowed to, and was never surprised when she was called on it. This worried her- maybe it meant that she wasn’t in trouble after all, maybe something was seriously wrong. Maybe someone was sick, or someone had died. No. Jamie would have just told her. He wasn’t into game-playing, and if there was something serious to say he would have just said it.
She went into the kitchen, flipped on the light and started cutting a banana and some strawberries into a bowl of plain yogurt. She didn’t get very far before Candace came home, and seeing the kitchen light on, went right in.
“Hey Cara,” Candace said in her usual soft-spoken, friendly voice.
“Hey” Cara responded, turning around from the counter. “What’s going on, why did Jamie want me to stay home?”
“We’ll talk about it when he gets home,” she answered. She had a way of being strict without actually being strict, in her diplomatic way. She owns her own event coordinating business and Cara once followed her around and helped her gather up all of the calculators from different office areas around her building because Candace had made several lighthearted suggestions that her employees were using calculators to avoid using the new computer system the way it was supposed to be used, and when they didn’t make an effort to change, Candace cut them off at the source. This was how Candace was. She gave people a lot of leeway until she hit a wall, then she made it impossible for them to disobey her any further. She was like this with Cara as well.
“Okay but what’s wrong. Did someone die or something, you guys are freaking me out.” Cara pushed.
“You have no idea what this is about?” Candace asked, a little surprised.
“No!” Cara exclaimed, frustrated.
“You called me this morning to look in your backpack to see if your wallet was in it.” Candace offered.
“Yeah…” Cara said, baffled.
“Cara, your wallet wasn’t the only thing I found in your bag,” she said, and left the room with an armful of books that needed to be moved into the other room.
“What?” she called behind Candace, confused. When Candace didn’t turn around, Cara went back to her bowl of yogurt, went into the living room, sat down on the couch and picked up the newspaper that was sitting on the coffee table. She looked over the front page while deep in thought about her backpack. Mid-bite, it hit her. How could she be so stupid and careless?
Jamie and Candace had a few rules. Not many, but a few. Among the most important regarded underage drinking. Jamie and Cara’s parents had been killed by a teenager who was drinking and driving, and because of this, Jamie had very strict rules about alcohol. Ever since Cara had started university, they had stretched this rule a little. Over summer break, Cara was allowed to have a couple of drinks with her friends on the weekend if she wanted to. Jamie felt that forbidding her from doing something that everyone around her from doing would completely fail, so he agreed that as long as she didn’t drink at all during the school year, he would allow her a glass of wine or two during the summer. This wasn’t a rule that Cara followed, but Jamie and Candace didn’t know this. She was very careful, and didn’t drink much, or frequently. She might have a drink or two on the weekends at a friend’s house. The problem was that she did this throughout the school year as well, which was strictly forbidden. The problem today: an older and of age friend had picked up a bottle of rum for her a couple days ago and she had thrown it into her backpack and forgotten about it, and then had indeed called Candace and asked her look through her bag because her wallet was missing.
“Ohh no,” she said to herself quietly. “What am I gonna do, what am I gonna do….” She repeated to herself under her breath while searching her brain for some sort of excuse that would be believable.
She was on the verge of panicking when Jamie came through the front door, his museum nametag still clipped to his blazer, briefcase in hand. Cara got up off the couch and hurried into the hallway.
“Jamie, I can explain,” she started. He looked at her with a serious/angry expression that almost never crossed his face. When Cara saw this, her breath caught and she couldn’t bring herself to continue.
“I’m only going to say this once Cara. I don’t want to hear a single lie come out of your mouth, so you better think long and hard before you finish that sentence,” he warned, walking past her and into the kitchen, gently setting his briefcase on the kitchen table. “So? Can you explain?” he called from the kitchen when she didn’t continue. She stayed firmly planted in the hallway.
“Not…really.” Cara said quietly, knowing there was no way out of this. She wouldn’t lie to her brother’s face. That would land her in more trouble than she could imagine.
“Well…” he said coming out into the hallway, “you better try, because I want some answers here young lady.”
Cara looked up and into the mirror on the wall across from where she was standing in the hallway. Looking back at her was a petite, blonde-haired young adult wearing cute black ballet flats, dark denim jeans, a white long-sleeve shirt and a thin, black flowy vest. Her hair was kinked and half of it was pinned back by a little black clip and her museum nametag was clipped to her vest. She looked like a professional adult and could hardly believe that that same person she was looking at in the mirror was being spoken to and disciplined like a little child.
She remained silent. She crossed her arms and leaned her side against the wall.
“Candace!” Jamie called. Within seconds Candace was coming out of the den, her long black curls bouncing along with her.
“Hi,” she said smiling.
“Hey baby,” he said, pulling her in for a quick kiss. Cara stared at them, a little annoyed and very concerned.
“So you asked Candace to look for your wallet and she found a bottle of rum,” Jamie said, cutting right to the chase.
“Yep,” Cara said, not knowing where else to go with it.
“Tell us about the alcohol. Who’s is it?”
“Jamie, please…” Cara started, in attempt to whine her way out of this.
“Who’s is it?” he asked slowly, giving Cara “the look.”
“Mine,” she said, looking at the ground and picking at her sleeve nervously.
“How long has this been going on for, Cara?” Candace asked in a concerned voice.
“A while I guess….a year,” Cara choked, knowing from past experience that tip-toeing wasn’t an option.
“How often?” Jamie asked.
“Not really that often. Once a month sometimes…but Jamie, I only ever have one or two, and always on the weekend!” she exclaimed.
“I don’t care how often or how much you drink Cara, you deliberately disobeyed one of our only rules, and our most important rule at that. You know what my reasons are and I thought you respected me enough to obey it,” Jamie lectured.
“I do respect you…both of you, and I know why it’s a rule and I know it’s important! But Jamie, I’m responsible about it! You know me, you know that I would never do anything stupid!”
“I thought I knew you. I also thought you would at least try to talk to me about something like this rather than going behind our backs and lying and hiding things for a whole year,” he said quietly and directly.
“Cara, this is a rule because we love you and we worry about you. We don’t want anything to happen to you, and I’m very hurt that you hid this from us for so long,” Candace added.
These two little lectures tugged at Cara’s heartstrings. She owed her life to Jamie and Candace and didn’t mean to disrespect them so deeply. She didn’t think about it like that until now. A couple of tears escaped her eyes and she wiped them and sniffled a little.
Taking a deep breath, Cara apologized whole-heartedly to her brother and sister-in-law. Both stood firmly and unwavering, clearly not ready to cave yet. Cara began to tremble as she realized what was in store for her.
“I want your car keys Cara,” Jamie said.
“What?” she asked, caught off-guard.
“Right now. Go get them,” he ordered.
“Why?” she demanded, growing defensive.
“Because I refuse to take the chance of anything happening to you because of alcohol,” he said simply.
“Jamie, I have NEVER driven after having even one drink,” she said seriously.
“I want to believe you Cara, but you’re apparently very good at hiding things. I don’t care whether you have or not, I’m not taking the chance. Go get them.”
“No, Jamie! How will I get anywhere? I have school and work!”
“Candace or I will drive you. I’m not playing games here Cara. You’ve lost the privilege to drive your car until further notice.”
“But it’s MY car!”
“We paid for it! I’m not going to argue about this, and I’m not asking you again.” He said firmly.
Cara stared at them for a minute, waiting for them to waver. When they didn’t, she went to the coat rack, dug her keys out of her jacket pocket, and handed them out to Jamie, who took them from her.
“Thank you. Now, go to your room and wait for me in the corner,” he said, pointing toward the staircase.
“No…Jamie…” she whined, deathly afraid of what she knew was coming.
“NOW” he said, staring into her eyes without blinking.
Cara looked to Candace for help, tears running down her pale cheeks.
“Candace, please..” she begged.
“We love you sweetie, and we’re doing this for your own good. You know that,” she said sympathetically, reaching out to stroke Cara’s arm.
Cara wiped her eyes once more and quickly walked past them, up the stairs, down the hall and into her spacious bedroom. She stood in the middle of the room for a minute with her hands on her hips trying to think of what to do but didn’t come up with any reasonable options. She sighed and went to the far corner and stood in it, feeling very childish and also very afraid, knowing that Jamie’s hand could be very punishing, and if he chose to use something more serious, which he rarely did, her life might as well end right now anyways because the pain could kill her.
She had only been standing in the corner for about a half hour when her brother came in, and softly closed the door behind him.
“Come here,” he said kindly, opening his arms. She turned around and buried herself in his big hug and sobbed.
“I’m sorry,” she managed to choke out. Jamie stroked her back and held her strongly.
“We love you Cara, we want you to do well in life…that’s why we have rules,” Jamie said softly.
“I’m so sorry…I won’t do it again, I promise. I didn’t mean to disrespect you and Candace, really, I wasn’t thinking about it like that.” She sobbed.
“I know, and this will help make sure that you DO think about it like that next time you have the chance to do something you know we don’t allow,” he explained.
“I know that what I did was wrong, you really don’t have to spank me Jamie…I said I was sorry and I swear I won’t do it again,” she pleaded.
“If there ever was a time to give you a spanking, this is it. This doesn’t come down to a simple thing like you having an attitude issue, or fighting with Candace and I. This is a matter of life and death, and repeated lying…Cara.”
“Please…it hurts too much, I’m scared,” Cara whimpered.
“You obviously weren’t scared enough when you decided to lie to us for a YEAR,” he stressed. “This is serious, and I want to make sure you learn a lesson from this,” Jamie said, gently pulling away from Cara and unbuckling his belt.
“What are you doing? No! Please, Jamie!” she cried, panicking. She had only been spanked with his belt once in the past, and was only given a couple of strokes with it as an example of what would happen if she repeated her punished behavior. And those two strokes had caused the worst pain she had ever experienced.
Jamie continued silently, slipping his thick, rustic leather belt out of the loops in his jeans and setting it down on the desk next to him.
“We can talk about this and work it out some other way. I’ll do all the chores you want, or…or..or I could be grounded like…forever! I promise, I won’t even go out anywhere anymore!” Cara rambled quickly trying to avoid the absolutely worst punishment that could possibly be dished out.
“I can’t believe you’ve been lying to us for so long,” he said in a tone that made it obvious he was both very angry and very hurt and disappointed. “This is your punishment for drinking. I don’t know yet what I’m going to do about the lying,” he said shaking his head.
“I didn’t actually lie…you never asked! I just didn’t tell you! I don’t tell you everything. You didn’t ask what I had for lunch today, so I didn’t tell you. Does that mean I lied about lunch?” she asked in a last ditch effort, knowing full well she was completely wrong.
“I seriously hope you don’t believe that,” he said. When she didn’t answer, he continued. “Do you remember what it was like when Mom and Dad died?” he asked quietly.
Cara hesitated before quietly saying “yeah…”
“Good so you remember how horrible it all was? That one stupid kid’s mistake shattered our lives in a matter of seconds? That it’s taken years and years for us to start to live normally?”
“Stop, I don’t want to talk about this…” Cara said. She had been in the car with their parents when they were killed and it had taken several years of therapy to make the nightmares stop.
“Well we’re going to talk about it Cara, because in case you forgot, that was an 18 year old kid who hadn’t intended on drinking and driving that day, and just like you, he only had a couple drinks with his friends once in a while until one night that went too far! Did you forget that?” he demanded calmly. Cara looked away, wiping tears off her face.
“Did you forget that, Cara?” he pressed.
“No,” Cara choked. She could never forget that as long as she lived, and knew exactly why her brother and sister in-law didn’t want her drinking at her age.
“Good, then you can stop trying to talk your way out of this,” he said intensely, pointing his finger at her.
“I’m sorry,” Cara said, realizing that she was just making him even more angry.
“We have a major trust issue here now, and you’re grounded until I decide what to do about the lying.”
“Okay,” she said helplessly.
“Good,” he said, gently urging her toward the edge of her bed with his hand pushing on the middle of her back.
Jamie was a man of few serious words. He usually had a friendly smile on his face and laugh was always quick to escape his lips, and when serious situations arose, he tended to become very quiet and focused. Delivering strict discipline to Cara was no exception. After his lecture was over he didn’t say much else.
He guided Cara to the bed and sat down.
“Jeans down,” he ordered flatly. Cara whimpered, and didn’t move, crossing her arms shyly. She watched as his large calloused hands moved, one to grab her arm and pull her close, and the other to deliver a sharp smack to her denim-covered bottom.
“Ow!” she cried, reaching her free hand back to rub the sting.
“When I give you an order I expect you to obey. NOW” he said seriously. Cara tried to pull back on instinct, and got nowhere. She knew her brother was incredibly strong and that she wasn’t going anywhere.
“I’d really prefer to do this the easy way Cara. I don’t want to have to be mean about it,” he warned.
“But you ARE being mean! I really, really don’t wanna do this at all!” Cara whined, afraid of both the consequences of obeying her brother and not obeying her brother. Neither option ended well for her.
“I’m sorry, do you not agree that you’ve done something wrong and deserve to be punished?” he asked skeptically.
“Yes….I know I did, and I feel really bad! I know you have to punish me for it but can’t you find some other way?” she pleaded.
“There’s always a choice. You’re eighteen years old, you’re free to move out if you’d like. Candace and I love you, and we’re a family. We don’t want you to move out, but if you decide you don’t want to follow our rules, that’s your choice. Otherwise this is my house, I am your guardian, and you broke a house rule and will be punished. You’re usually much more mature and accepting of punishments when you deserve them, why are you fighting me on this?”
“You haven’t taken your belt off since I was thirteen, and when I was thirteen, I had no say!”
“You’re right,” he said, chuckling to himself a little. “I haven’t taken my belt off since you were thirteen. You’ve been a really good kid Cara, I haven’t had to. But what you did is really not okay with me. So you have a choice. Do you want to move out?”
“…no,” she cried quietly.
“Then STOP fighting me on this,” he said firmly. He stared at her for a minute to let his words sink in before he continued. “Now…I want your jeans down please,” he said slowly, releasing the grip he had on her arm so that she could comply.
Cara rubbed her arm; Jamie’s grip was strong and had hurt. Then she wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and slowly undid her jeans and shakily slid them down to her knees, exposing her pink and red polka-dotted boy-short panties that had a picture of a reindeer and the words “all I want for Christmas is you” written across the butt. Aside from the fact that they were slightly out of season, they were also embarrassingly sexy and she silently hated herself for choosing to wear them today, of all days.
“That’s good, over here please,” he said approvingly, patting his lap. She reluctantly went to his right side and allowed him to guide her over his lap. She fit there easily. She was petite and slim, while he was tall and strong, and both of them knew that once she was over his lap there would be no escaping his hold.
While Cara grabbed a handful of blankets for comfort, Jamie pulled her panties down to her knees and wrapped his left arm around her waist, just to be sure she wouldn’t be going anywhere.
He raised his right hand and slapped it strongly down on Cara’s right cheek, then left. The sheer strength of his swing was painful enough, and when coupled with the sharp sting that accompanied it, Cara began to cry out immediately. He continued with this, his usual method, for several minutes, and when Cara was squirming and struggling to avoid some of the spanks (which was absolutely impossible), he turned his focus to her legs…just the couple of inches right under her bottom.
“Stop!” she cried, unable to bear the pain. At this moment, she began to wish her brother was a computer nerd with soft, fragile hands rather than a curator and a carpenter with large, strong, heavy working hands. He caught her wrist as her arm flew back to protect her bottom from the spanking, and pinned it at the small of her back, restricting her movement completely.
“Pleeeeease stop! I’m sorryyyyy!” she cried, gasping for breath. Jamie continued silently, leaving not an inch of her bottom untouched. It was now glowing red with small purplish spots beginning, and he could feel the radiating off it.
He stopped, and released her wrist.
“Up,” he said simply, ready to help Cara to her feet.
“No…please, that was enough, I’m soooooo sorry! I’ve learned my lesson, seriously, you don’t have to spank me anymore!” she cried, her breath ragged.
In response to this, Jamie delivered the most painful smack to the back of one of her thighs, causing her legs to kick up, and her to squeal in pain.
“I said up, now,” he repeated calmly.
“But…” she began, and before she could continue, he repeated the smack on her other thigh.
“Oww!” she cried, struggling to catch her breath.
“We can go on like this all night until you stop fighting me,” he warned.
“I’m sorry…I just…” she tried again, and received a searing slap on her thigh again.
“Again?” he asked, as she burst out in fresh sobs.
“No, no, I’m getting up!” she managed. Silently relieved, he helped her to her feet where she struggled to stand. Her legs were like jello from a mixture of the pain and her fear of what was still to come. He helped her walk to the other side of the room, panties now around her knees, jeans kicked off somewhere along the way, to a large, cozy chair in the corner of the room.
“Kneel here, facing the wall,” he said, helping her into place, her knees sinking into the soft cushion of the chair, leaning her body on its high back. “It’s very important that you don’t move. I don’t want your hands or arms or anywhere else hit by accident, and trust me, you don’t want that either,” he warned. “Understand?” She nodded silently, tears streaking her face.
He went to the desk and picked up his heavy belt. Cara didn’t watch, she had her head resting on the back of the chair, crying into her hands. He doubled it, and gently touched Cara’s back.
“Just lean over a little more for me” he said, and she did. “Good,” he said, pleased.
He placed his hand firmly on her back to steady both Cara and himself, and swung the belt sharply, biting into her already tender flesh. She sucked in her breath, trying to focus and stay calm. He swung again, hitting a centimeter below his first, leaving another long, deep red stripe across her bottom. She whimpered a little at this one, losing her short-lived focus and calm. Again and again he swung as her bottom began to form a couple tiny welts, and she began crying hysterically and begging him to stop. He continued, delivering a few more firm stripes to her bottom, knowing that she was struggling and wouldn’t be able to stay still for much longer.
“Cara, calm down and listen to me,” he said, moving to the side of the chair and lifting her chin with his hand to look into her eyes. She reluctantly looked up with a great deal of difficulty, her bottom on fire and pounding in agony, and her eyes burning from crying so hard, her throat sore from crying and screaming. “I LOVE you. And Candace loves you. We have this rule for a very, very important reason that I know you don’t want to talk about, so we won’t. You know what it is, and I think that’s enough for you to respect it in the future. If I catch you breaking it again, this will seem like a holiday, do you understand me?” he lectured. She nodded her head, crying. That was good enough for him, he knew how hard this spanking was for her, for several reasons. They had attended enough family therapy, and had a close enough relationship that he could read her like a book. They had talked this to death in the past, and he could tell exactly what was going on inside of his sister right now, and the nod of her head was enough for him to know that she was truly sorry and that he could finish up.
“Good girl. We’re almost finished,” he said. He moved behind her and placed his hand on her back again, and delivered 4 of the most intense, biting lashes to her upper thighs she could ever imagine, Cara screaming the entire time. He stopped, put his belt back on the desk, and went to his sister, pulling her into a hug. She allowed herself to be held, and cried into her brother’s strong chest. They stayed like this for a long time before she pulled away, calm enough to speak.
“I’m sorry. Really,” she said.
“I know honey,” he responded, kissing her forehead. “I’m going to see how Candace is doing with dinner. Come down when you’re ready, okay?” she nodded, and he squeezed her shoulder and left the room, closing the door behind him to give her some privacy.
Cara didn’t go down for dinner, and nobody bothered her. It was okay with Jamie and Candace that she wanted to be alone. They checked in on her a couple of times and she was doing homework.
The next day Jamie went to a meeting and Candace was home working in her office. Cara didn’t leave her room at all, except to quietly sneak down for a cup of coffee in the morning, and back up to her room before anyone noticed her. When Jamie got back home and they realized that most of the day had gone by, they became a little worried. Jamie wanted to make her talk about whatever was bothering her without being confrontational. He went upstairs and knocked on her door once, then opened it, sticking his head in with a big, friendly smile. She was laying on her stomach reading.
“You mind giving me a hand at the museum for an hour?” he asked casually. When she stared at him blankly, he added “I have to move some furniture around in storage, there’s a big piece coming in a couple hours that we thought there would be room for, but there isn’t.”
“Sure,” she said.
The drive to the museum was silent, and the only words the spoke upon arrival was in friendly greeting to some volunteers who were cleaning. They went into the storage area, and set to work.
“Here, we’re going to lift this down….carefully…and move it to the rack over there,” he said, lifting his side of a large Victorian couch down off a shelf.
Cara stood up on her tiptoes and tried to reach the shelf, but she was too short.
“Can’t reach it? Okay. Just a sec,” he said, putting his end back up and moving over to hers. He lifted her end down and placed it in her hands. “You’re okay?” he asked. She nodded silently. “Good,” he said, going back over to his end and lifting it down. “Lets go this way,” he said, nodding to the left, and starting to walk backward. A few steps into the move a large piece of fabric fell off, and the couch began to creak.
“Oh…Jamie…we lost a piece, and it’s making a lot of noise,” Cara said, concerned.
“Okay, careful, let’s keep going,” he said moving slowly to the other rack. “I’m going to put my end up first, then I’ll come get yours,” he said, easily lifting his end up onto the shelf, then quickly running over to Cara’s side and taking it from her. “Alright…we need to move this big piece of fabric over here,” he said, leading her to the other side of the room. “It’s really old, so be gentle. We’re going to roll it, and tie it,” he explained. They each went to a separate side and began to slowly roll it.
“So, you’ve been awfully quiet today,” he offered as they rolled. She looked up and shrugged. “Anything you wanna talk about?” he asked.
“Nope,” she said.
“What have you been up to all day?”
“Just…thinking about some things,” she said, opening up a little to the conversation.
“Nothing really,” she said as they stopped to re-adjust the fabric, and continue.
“Like…yesterday?” he asked casually.
“I guess,” she said.
“Are you angry with me?” he asked.
“No,” she said.
“Are you upset about what happened?”
“Sort of, yeah,” she said timidly.
“Let’s talk about it,” he offered. Cara looked around at the various volunteers working around them and knew it was safe to talk here because it wouldn’t get too specific.
“I’m just mad at myself. I shouldn’t have done…what I did,” she said, looking around again. “I just feel really stupid about it all, it was really childish of me to act like that,” she whispered loudly.
“So you’re a little embarrassed?” he asked gently. They tied the fabric and lifted it onto a table.
“I guess so, yeah,” she said, crossing her arms and looking at the ground.
“Well, no need. I did some pretty stupid things when I was your age too. Trust me, you’re pretty perfect compared to me,” he said, putting his arm around her and pulling her close.
“Really?” she asked in disbelief. She had always been under the illusion that he was the perfect one.
“Yep, but its wayyy too embarrassing to tell you. Way dumber than that you did,” he said.
“Thanks Jamie” she said, leaning into him, stretching her arm around his waist.
A few weeks later, that was the picture on the monthly newsletter. Jamie in his work boots, jeans and tshirt, tool belt draped around his waist with his arm around Cara, wearing dark sneakers, a cute pair of jeans and a black zip-up hoodie, blonde hair waving down her back, her head reaching her brother’s armpit, leaning into him. This was the picture that was unknowingly taken of them by a volunteer who was documenting their time at the museum. It now sat framed, in their kitchen, to remind them of that day and the bond they share.