Warning: Contains corporal punishment of multiple naughty teens vampires. If you find this offensive, please pass this story by. Nothing to see here. Thanks.
Disclaimer: Even though they have become part of my family in an odd way, I do not hold any claim over the Cullens. Twilight characters remain the intellectual property of Stephenie Meyers, who is gracious enough to share and let us have our own fun with them. No vampires have been seriously injured in the making of this story, and will be returned only slightly worse for wear.
AN: It's still Nano time, ya'll. I've been working on several stories to get my word count up, but this one has clocked the most time. While I'm still writing it, the bulk of the story is complete, so it shouldn't take long to get it all posted. Since this has helped re-energize my muse, once I get it done, I'll go back to wrapping Schooling, and then work out the issues between Esme and Rosalie. I'm forever grateful for your patience. Unfinished stories frustrate me, as well. ;-) Thanks for reading and reviewing. Your comments are what keep the creative embers glowing even when the muse (annoying little thing) takes an extended vacation.
"Emmett, would you please come here for a minute?"
"Right there, Pops!" the bruin called as he raced down the stairs and into the kitchen. "What's up?"
"Son, what is this?" the patriarch asked as he held up what appeared to be a bill.
"Looks like your credit card wants money again, huh?"
"Why is there a charge from Forks High on here? I don't remember donating to them recently."
The big boy rubbed the back of his neck as he hung his head slightly and looked up at his father through thick dark lashes.
"Well. Um. It's like this. The goalpost on the football field kinda got a little knocked down and took out the scoreboard, so both needed to be fixed."
"I see. And why is that charged to my credit card?"
"I didn't have enough cash on me?" the boy answered with a shrug.
"Pops, look, I swear I'll pay you back every cent. I'm sorry. I didn't know what else to do, and just panicked. They were gonna call you at work, and I know how you don't like to be disturbed when you're busy. Hell, you could have been in the middle of saving someone's life and all that. That sure ain't the time for the school to be calling about some silly scoreboard that I can just as easily take care of myself."
"Emmett, you stole my credit card."
"No, I didn't. It's right in your wallet. Go on and check if you don't believe me. I swear I don't have it."
"But you did."
"I had to give them something so they wouldn't bother you."
Carlisle closed his eyes and inhaled deeply to combat his growing frustration.
"I would have preferred a call from the school at work over having my son pick my pocket."
"I didn't pick your pocket, Pops. I have a duplicate copy of your card in case of emergencies. Jasper hooked us up last year using the card maker thingy upstairs. It's all good. I've never touched your plastic."
From somewhere in the house, the empath groaned loudly.
Carlisle's eyes flashed open and he shook his head. Raising his voice just loud enough to be clearly heard by all in the house, he called, "I want everyone in the kitchen now, and bring those credit cards with you."
Silently, one by one Carlisle's brood made their way into the room, all extremely reluctant to make eye contact with the family patriarch.
"Momma sent him on an errand and he hasn't made it back yet," Jasper softly answered as he stood beside his mate near the doorway.
"Carlisle, what's this about," asked Esme as she walked in from the laundry room with her wallet in her hand.
The elder's eyes sparkled at seeing his mate. Smiling, he placed his hand over her proffered credit card case.
"I didn't mean for you to be included in that order, Mo shíorghrá. I in no way believe you were involved in this scandal."
Carlisle let his eyes drifted over his guilt riddled children until his focus fell hard on his trusted soldier.
"It appears that Jasper has been using some of our reinventing equipment to provided our clan with forged copies of my credit card."
"What?" the matriarch gasped in disbelief while glancing at the blond-haired youth. "Why in the world would he do such a thing?"
Jasper opened his mouth but the words never came. Instead he sighed and lowered his head in shame.
"Son, your mother has asked a very good question that I would appreciate an answer to."
"They wer meant ta be of use in emergencies that needed ta be taken care of quickly," he quietly drawled. "I..." The southerner swallowed nervously as he sunk his hands in the back pockets of his faded jeans. "You wer never supposed ta git stuck with the bill. We'd cover the payments before it cycled. It was just a loan until we could git ta our cash. Since teens aren't likely to have any real sum of their own, it seemed logical ta have a parent's card do the coverin'."
"If you needed money, all you had to do was ask," Carlisle stated as he leaned against the counter and crossed his arms. "Have I ever refused to take care of anything you asked me to?"
Jasper shook his head.
"No, sir, but sometimes we jest wanna handle our own ...situations."
The patriarch bit the side of his cheek to check his rising anger before Esme gently touched his arm. Gazing into her sad amber eyes, he saw a reflection of the tension he was feeling.
"Let them go to their rooms and think about what they've gotten themselves into while we take a walk and talk this over."
"Esme, I'm not sure that there is anything to talk over. Our children, who I trust with my life...with your life, have worked together to deceive me, and for what? To pay for a broken scoreboard behind my back in an attempt to steer clear of trouble?"
Emmett's broad shoulders sagged. "I'm sorry, Pops. I just thought..."
"You thought you could get away with deceitful behavior because you've done so in the past."
The bruin appeared to shrink at his father's words.
"How long has this been going on?"
"Awhile," Jasper answered, bringing the man's full attention back to him.
"And this was your idea, son?"
The soldier kept his hands pinned in his pockets to control their trembling. Inhaling deeply, he cleared his throat and nodded.
"How often have you used my money without permission?"
"But you have used it?" Carlisle asked, looking for verification.
"I have. Yes, sir."
Jasper scuffed his boot against the slick tile as he contemplated his mother's choice of color and pattern.
"A couple of fines fer being parked illegally, and one or two fer exceeding the speed limit."
"So you stole from me because you didn't want to bother your mother and I with these trivial details."
The Major shook his head.
"I didn't wanna git in trouble, and was stupid enough ta believe you wouldn't find out."
"At least that sounds like the truth."
Carlisle sighed before looking to Rosalie.
"And how often have you felt the need to use my card, kitten?"
"I haven't," the blond beauty said in a whisper. "I knew it was wrong, we all did, but I took it anyway to have as a safety net. I'm sorry, and hope that in time you'll be able to forgive us."
"I already forgive you, Rose, but it's going to take time before I feel like I can fully trust any of you again."
"That's understandable, Daddy," Alice piped up as she handed Carlisle her copy of his credit card. "This wasn't Jazzy's idea, nor is it his fault."
"Hummingbird," the soldier called as he shot his mate a look.
"No. You're not going to take the blame for me," she said bravely before faltering slightly under Carlisle's cool stare. Swallowing back the suddenly flood of venom, she squared her shoulders and met the man's darkened eyes. "I saw some visions where your card was helpful, and I didn't see us getting caught, so I talked Jasper into making copies for everyone. It was my idea, Daddy. I'm the one you should be disappointed in, and I'll accept my punishment."
The patriarch stood in stunned silence before tipping his head to show that he believed his baby girl.
"Sir, don't listen to her. The fault is all mine. Even if the idea was Alice's, I didn't hav' ta go through with it. That was my decision."
"Oh, Jazzy," Alice cooed while cupping his cheek in her hand and catching his black eyes. "You never could say no to me. You're as much a victim as daddy."
"OH, Dude! You are so whipped," Emmett smirked until his father's penetrating gaze fell on him.
"And how many times have you used this evasive move, Em?"
"Oh, well... You see, Pops, I can't really remember, but I don't think it was all that often."
Rosalie slapped her husband hard in the shoulder causing him to wince before lowering his head.
"Well, maybe a little frequently."
"Like?" Carlisle pressed.
"Couple times a month. Maybe a couple a times a week during certain months when things weren't working out as they should."
The doctor leaned his head back and closed his eyes as he carefully regulated his breathing.
"Children, go to your rooms," Esme ordered. "Your father and I are going out, but we'll be back to deal with this shortly. For now, I want you putting some real thought into what you did, why it was wrong, and how you plan to make amends."
And soft, sad chorus of "yes, ma'am" answered her before her brood turned away and made for the stairs.
"Oh, and Jasper?"
The Major stopped with his foot on the bottom step and glanced back at his mother.
"If Edward gets home before we do, have him leave his copy of this bogus card on the table and go wait in his room as well."
"Yes, ma'am. I'm so sorry for putting y'all through this. It's jest..."
"Shh. We'll talk some more when we return. For now, just do as you're instructed."
The boy nodded before slipping his arm around his wife's shoulder and climbing the stairs with his head held low like a man on his way to the gallows.
"Esme, I can't let this go without recourse," the patriarch finally said in a resolute tone colored with regret.
"I know, sweetheart, and I don't expect you to, but you need to step away from the situation and clear your head. You're understandably upset right now. I don't want to see you do something rash that you'll end up regretting in the long run."
"I won't hurt any of them," he tried to reassure her, but his words lacked his usual confidence.
"I believe you would at this moment, but you won't harm the children as long as you give yourself some time to calm down and think about what your next course of action should be."
"Alice..." He grimaced and shook his head in disbelief. "How could she do something like this? She knows better."
"They all do, but you already know they have moments where they make the wrong decisions. Let's not compound that by doing the same ourselves."
Carlisle stood in silence looking at his wife before finally muttering a soft, "You're right."
"I always am," she said with a gentle smile. "You just have trouble seeing that sometimes."
The patriarch chuckled sadly to himself as he cupped her face in his palm and rubbed a thumb over her cheek.
"What did I ever do without you?"
"I don't know, but luckily you never have to do it again."
Carlisle kissed his mate before wrapping an arm around her.
"A walk will definitely do me some good, and we can decide what to do with our rule breakers together. With you as my conscience, the children will always be in good hands."
"Dude, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to sink the ship."
"I know, Em. It's just something that happened. It was bound to come out eventually," Jasper said as he lay on his bed with Alice in his arms. "I don't blame you. Just get back to your room before the folks return. None of us need any more heat."
"Think we should call Eddie and give him a heads up?"
"I tried, but his phone went straight to voice mail," Alice replied. "I left him a message. Hopefully he'll get it before he gets blindsided."
"You don't know if he will?" the bruin asked.
"I've been concentrating on what daddy's been deciding. Looks like momma is still in our corner since his decisions keep changing, but she agrees that we've more than earned whatever we get, so it's safe to say we won't be walking way from this without some sort of punishment."
"I think it's a safe bet that none of us are going to be going anywhere for a very long time, and I have serious doubts about sitting again within this lifetime," Jasper groused.
"I never thought it would come to this, Jazzy."
He hugged his mate tighter against his chest and kissed the back of her neck.
"I don't blame you any more than I do Em. I didn't do anything I didn't want to, hummingbird. Believe me. I got into this mess all by myself."
"If I hadn't said anything..."
"Alice, stop," Edward said as he entered the room. "No one is more to blame than anyone else. Not even this bozo with his big mouth. Couldn't keep that trap shut, huh, Em?"
The mind reader gave his burly brother a rough shove as he crossed the room and claimed the chair by the window.
"Leave him alone, Edward. He feels bad enough without your teasing," Rose commented as she joined her siblings in Jasper and Alice's room. "We're up a creek, but at least we're all in the same boat."
"I don't find that comforting, sis," Edward said with a tinge of bitterness in his voice.
"Look, it's not that I don't appreciate the company," Jasper spoke up. "But momma sent us to our rooms, not a communal area to have a pow wow."
"She said for us to think about what we did and how we're going to make up for it. That's what we're doing. Brainstorming," Emmett stated with a bright smile.
"You have to have a brain to brainstorm, doofus, and you're falling short."
"Edward, I said to stop picking on him," Rose growled. "He's been through enough."
"He wouldn't have been through anything if he'd kept his damn mouth shut and just paid the bill on time."
"It was too late in the cycle to catch it, bro. I tried. I did pay it, but it still posted to the statement. I was trying to intercept it in the mail, but Pops got to it first. What do you want from me?"
"You could have ..."
Jasper flashed out of the bed and jerked Edward out of his chair, effectively pinning the mind reader to the wall.
"Rose said it and now I'm telling you, enough, Edward. I know you're worried about not getting to see this human who's caught your fancy, but that's no reason to take it out on Emmett. He made a mistake, just like the rest of us. Now shut the hell up about it. There's no point in using him as your whipping boy. After all, he didn't use his card to buy after market parts to customize his car all in the hopes of impressing some girl. Yeah, that's right. You've made your share of mistakes in this, too, and trying to lay blame ain't gonna fly here. We messed up, and we're going to pay for it. It's as simple as that. Now get over yourself."
"Do you really think it's that simple, Jasper?" a soft voice inquired.
The empath froze and swallowed the venom that rose like bile to burn his throat. Slowly releasing the hold he had on his brother, he turned around and spied his parents standing in the doorway.
"Because I don't think it's simple at all," Carlisle continued. "While I do agree you all share the blame, I doubt it should be divided equally. This is something your mother and I have been discussing while all of you have proven incapable of following directions."
The soldier's proud shoulders fell ever so slightly, before he squared his stance back to attention in a show of respect.
"Apologies, Sir. I shouldn't have made it sound like this is easy for you. I know it's not."
The elder sighed softly before shifting his gaze from his southern son.
"Edward. Rosalie. Go back to your rooms until called. Emmett, please come with me."
"Sir, the fault is mine." Jasper spoke in a clear, strong voice even through he felt a little less sure of himself. "Punish me as you see fit, but please don't punish the rest for my failings. Emmett would have never done something like this on his own. It doesn't seem fair to discipline him."
Esme placed a hand on her husband's arm and said something in a voice too soft for anyone but Carlisle to hear.
Patting her hand, the man gave his mate a fleeting smile, before slipping an arm around her shoulders.
"The decision of how to address this infraction doesn't fall to you, son. You'll have to trust my ability to uncover the truth and fairly correct the misbehavior I find."
"I do. I just..."
"Just? Just what?"
The empath's head bowed as he found himself at a loss for words.
Carlisle gave Esme a quick hug before stepping away from her to go to his son. With strong, gentle fingers, he cupped the boy's chin and lifted his head.
"As my second, you are responsible for your siblings and Alice's well being, but that doesn't mean you're a stand in when they've earned punishment. You will reap what you sow, and so will they. Nothing more, and nothing less."
Jasper unconsciously shifted his weight then nodded before dropping his gaze from the patriarch's stern, but caring eyes.
A tap beneath his chin brought his head back up.
"While it's not as simple as you implied, you were correct in saying that all are responsible and all will indeed be corrected in turn. It's your brother's turn now, but yours will come soon enough."
With the situation settled, the elder looked back at the rest of his brood.
"I believe I told you to go to your rooms," he said in a tone of correction. "Do I need to provide an escort?"
Rose shook her head and darted from the room, but as Edward slogged past Carlisle, the doctor grasped his upper arm to pull him to a halt.
"I expect better from you then what I saw a few minutes ago."
The mind reader held his tongue, but his body language spoke of defiance.
Edward, I suggest you use this time productively and really think about your actions. We'll discuss this attitude and your deception. If you don't straighten up immediately, that's going to be one long, hard discussion.
The bronze-haired boy's eyes flicked to his father's as the silent warning rang in his head.
Do you understand, son?
"Yes," he growled in annoyance before his father's hand connected sharply with his rump.
Edward's betrayed expression said it all.
"If you want me to respect your privacy, your behavior is going to have to improve drastically."
"Carlisle," Esme called, but the elder didn't respond. Instead, he walked his son to the door and gave him another quick smack as a way of sending him on his way.
As he stalked away, Edward's anger and humiliation pummeled the empath. Jasper rubbed his forehead while barely suppressing a groan.
"Jazzy, are you okay?" Alice asked as she cuddled up to her husband.
"I never should have ..." He fell silent and shook his head.
"Shhh." The pixie whispered and gently soothed the hair from his brow. "This isn't your fault."
Esme stepped up behind Jasper and turned him around to face her.
"If you won't listen to your father, then listen to your wife. You are only responsible for your own actions. Your siblings decided to misbehave. You didn't force them."
"But I gave them the opportunity. I tempted them."
"And that will be addressed, son," Carlisle reassured from the doorway where he and Emmett stood. "Stay here with Alice and settle down. Emotions are going to be running high, so try to keep yourself calm. It will all be over soon."
"Carlisle, I'm going to stay with Jasper," Esme said as he guided her son back to sit on his bed.
"I think that's a fine idea," the blond replied as he placed a hand in the middle of his bearish son's back. "Em and I are going to the study."
"Sweetheart, please keep in mind what we talked about."
"Of course, love." He shot her a reassuring smile. "Come on, Em. Let's get this over with."
The bruin held his breath for a second before allowing his father to steer him out of the room and across the hall towards his doom.
"Have a seat, son," Carlisle said as he walked over to his desk and dropped the bill on it. Turning, he found his bearish boy still standing by the open door.
"Em, please close the door and grab a chair."
The youth abruptly slammed the door before quickly slipping into the leather chair to await the inevitable.
Carlisle ran a hand through his hair then folded his arms while leaning back against the edge of his desk.
"Why?" the elder asked.
"I don't know."
"That's not an answer."
"It's the only one I've got, Pops. I mean... It seemed like a good idea at the time, even though now I know it really sucked. I just never thought you'd find out," the bruin said as he shrugged his massive shoulders. "It's not like any of us went out of our way to get into trouble that only your card could bail us out of. Shit just happens sometimes."
"Oh. Yeah. Sorry about that. Stuff happens."
"Nothing just happens, son. Everything you do, right or wrong, requires a choice. I know that you're more than capable of making the correct choices. Our lifestyle alone is proof enough of that, so why did you decide to deceive me."
"That's an easy one. I didn't want to be in trouble."
"But you're in more trouble now than you would have been if you had come to me in the first place and told me about this incident with the scoreboard and anything else you've been covering up."
Emmett lowered his eyes as he fidgeted in his seat.
"Yeah, Pops, but that wasn't part of the plan. If I had been able to get that payment in before the bill came out..."
"Emmett Dale, you know that isn't the answer to this problem."
"But it is," the dark haired boy replied as he looked back into his father's frustrated face. "If I had kept up my end of the bargain, none of this would have happened. Edward's right. This is all my fault."
"I would have..."
"Yeah. Yeah, I know. You would have found out anyway. Jasper tried that psych crap, but maybe you wouldn't have. Alice said that you wouldn't, and she knows. I was the monkey wrench that screwed up everything for everybody. I got everyone in trouble, disappointed you and momma, and just f-ed it all up. I really can't do a damn thing right."
Emmett hung his head and huffed out a breath as he dug his toe into the carpet.
Pushing off the desk, Carlisle crouched down, placed his hands on the boy's knees, and looked up into his bearish son's troubled eyes.
"You did something very right," the elder softly praised. "You told me the truth. That takes courage, and that makes me proud,"
"Only because I was caught."
"It was still a step in the right direction, Em, and a very important one when it comes to regaining my trust. There have been times in the past where you've continued to try to cover up the truth, but not this time. I know how difficult it is to own up to your mistakes. You did just that and set an example for your siblings to follow. It hurts me to know that you've been deceiving me all this time, but I can still be proud in the knowledge that my bear is truly a good man at his core and that will never change."
"That core just gets covered with shit sometimes."
"Sometimes you're a little rough around the edges, and trouble finds you faster than anyone else in this family, but let me share a little secret with you. I wouldn't have you any other way. None of us are perfect, Em, but you're the most perfect Emmett that I've ever met."
An unusual bashfulness showed on the bruin's face before he lowered his head a bit further and grinned.
Carlisle gave his baby boy a gentle smile as he stood and ruffled Emmett's curly locks before he sighed softly.
"I wish I could protect you from the consequences of your mistakes, but I can't."
"Yeah, I get that, Pops. Doesn't mean I like it, but I get it."
"I don't think there is much more to say about this matter. You know stealing is wrong, and that's precisely what you did."
"Didn't see it as stealing. If you steal something, you don't plan on giving it back. I was going to pay the bill, so it was more like borrowing," Emmett tried reasoning with the patriarch.
"You ask to borrow something. Did you ask to use my credit card?"
"I have before and you've always said yes, so."
"Sorry, Em. It doesn't work that way, and you know it."
"I guess this isn't one of those times where you tell me not to do it again and let me go, huh?"
"So do you want to know all the different times I dipped into your cash to keep my butt out of a sling?"
Carlisle thought for a few moments then shook his head.
"We'll let those instances go this time. I don't feel the need to add to your sins. I would rather have you concentrate on learning this lesson, so I'm not going to correct you for multiple offenses."
Emmett let out a little sigh of relief that caused Carlisle to briefly reconsider his stance. God only knew what his boy could have been getting into, but it obviously sounded like things the patriarch would have taken offense to. In the end, the elder decided to stick with his plan, knowing it would yield the results that he required.
"First and foremost, along with your siblings and Rose, you'll be doing some public penance."
The youth's brow creased.
"Stealing from me was a criminal act, Em, and I've decided the law has far more experience in dealing with this sort of juvenile offense than me."
"We're getting arrested?" Emmett asked in shock.
"No, Em, but some public service will do all of you good."
"I've gotta pick up trash?" he questioned with more than a touch of indigence.
"Would that be such a bad thing?" the doctor countered softly.
"Hell yeah. Someone might see me, and orange really isn't my color, Pops. It makes my butt look fat."
"I believe your butt has more pressing concerns right now. Besides, the idea is to teach you a bit of humility while helping out the community, and if that means collecting litter along the roadways, so be it."
"Pops, come on! You can't do that."
Carlisle cocked a brow.
"I mean, you can, but you're too cool to do that so this must be some kind of joke. Trying a little of the old 'let's give Emmett a heart attack' to make your point, right? It worked. I swear on my jeep, I'll never take a penny that doesn't belong to me for as long as I live."
"I'm glad to hear that, son, but it doesn't change your punishment. This should have never been an issue in the first place."
"Do not raise your voice to me, young man."
"It's not open for discussion. You knowingly committed a crime, and you're being held responsible for your actions."
"But I didn't know that you'd be making us do grunt work. That's just not cool."
"It's punishment, Emmett. It's not meant to be something you would look forward to."
"If we're having to slave in public, we're not going to be able to do it at a decent clip."
"Preciously why you'll be working in view of humans."
"Man," the bruin groused as he shook his head.
"I'm sorry, Em, but you made a poor choice and now you're going to have to suffer the consequences."
"I just didn't know that the consequences were going to suck this much."
Carlisle reached out and gave his son a consoling pat on the back.
"I don't think I have to tell you that's not the extent of your punishment, do I?"
"You're still going to roast my rump?"
"I think you deserve it. While you did eventually tell me the truth, you've been lying all this time by concealing your activities. That's not something that can be ignored."
Emmett looked down at his hands as shame replaced the indignation he felt towards his father's choice of punishments.
"Didn't mean to, Pops. It just happened to turn out like that."
"I know, son, but you need to use better judgment in the future. You're very bright. The pranks you pull are proof of your intelligence, but you need to put your brain to better use."
"That's not as much fun."
"Maybe not, but your backside will thank you for that minor sacrifice. And with that said, I think it's time to get this over with. On your feet, please, and put your hands flat on the desk."
Emmett stared at the patriarch for a few moments as he kept his seat.
"Is this a trick? What happened to the kiddie walloping bit?"
"Since you were honest about what happened, I've decided to treat you more like an adult. While I would certainly prefer to have you across my lap on the couch, I know you're more comfortable with this other scenario, so we'll do things your way."
"My way would be no way," Em said with a grin that faded as Carlisle shook his head.
"Not an option," the elder countered. "Consequences, son. You knew what you were risking when you decided to deceive me, and now you have to pay the piper."
The bulky boy mumbled something under his breath as he lurched out of the chair then sighed while placing his hands flat on the desk top on either side of the billing statement.
"Sucks to be me."
"I don't like this any better than you do, Em," Carlisle said while giving his son's shoulder a squeeze.
"I know," Emmett grumbled. "But it's always better to give than receive."
The elder chuckled to himself as he put his hand between his boy's shoulders and eased him lower across the desk.
"Edward was right. I must really be stupid to have done this sort of shit."
Carlisle froze for a second then leaned over his bruin and spoke firmly in his ear.
"Repeat what I just said about your pranks."
"That they're proof of my smarts."
"Have I ever lied to you?"
"Since I pointed out your intelligence only moments ago, how can you consider yourself to be stupid?"
"What I did was a dumb move."
"That doesn't make you dumb, son. You took advantage of a situation that you shouldn't have. That is opportunistic, and it was a bit short-sighted, but it wasn't the actions of someone who is stupid."
The doctor could see that he wasn't going to get anywhere with his son and made a mental note to mention the effect of Edward's teasing when it came time to address his first born's behavior. Emmett's playful, happy-go-lucky nature tended to hide a sensitive heart; a fact that was well known to all in the family. Carlisle's baby bear was owed a proper apology from his brother, and he would have it before the night was out.
Placing his hand lightly against the massive boy's lower back, the patriarch cleared his throat.
"Let's put you out of your misery, Em, then we can move on towards rebuilding the trust you lost."
"I'm ready, Pops, and you do know that I'm real sorry, right? I just want us to be cool again."
"We are," Carlisle reassured. "Now let's clear the slate."
The first crack of the elder's hand caught Emmett off guard and brought him to his toes. It was clear that the patriarch wasn't playing games as he quickly lit his errant son's behind on fire. This was a lesson that Carlisle had no interest in teaching twice and it showed through the hard and fast strokes that peppered the bruin's haunches, barely giving him a chance to catch his breath or process the pain. Each resounding smack was accompanied by a soft grunt from the youth who struggled with not digging his fingernails into the polished wood that supported him.
"Emmett Dale, I am beyond disappointed with your behavior."
"I..can tell..., Pops," the boy gasped as he shifted his weight from foot to foot in a futile attempt to mitigate the building sting.
"If you even consider doing something like this again..."
"I won't," he hissed through clenched teeth.
"You better not or you can kiss your ability to sit goodbye."
"Not quite, Em," Carlisle said as he shifted his aim towards the weight bearing edge of the bruin's rump and tops of his thighs.
"Shoot! That hurts!"
"Good, because I want this to serve as a serious reminder of what stealing and lying will earn you. Don't test me again, Em, or I promise that I will make this session seem like a walk in the park by comparison."
A solid strike brought tears to the brawny boy's eyes, but before they fell, the onslaught suddenly stopped.
The desk creaked with Emmett's shifting weight as he waited for the next blow, but his wait was in vain. When curiosity finally got the better of him, the bruin glanced over his shoulder to find his father standing quietly at his side with his arms crossed and eyes closed.
"Um, Pops. You okay?"
"I'm fine, but I'm begging you, Emmett, please don't take me down this path again."
"I won't. I swear, and I'll pick up all the trash you want. It will be tough, but I bet I can figure out a way to rock the orange. I can make anything look good."
Carlisle opened his eyes to find his son smiling back at him.
"You are talented in that category."
"Always been and always be a lady killer. Good thing that Rosie keeps me under wraps or no woman would be safe."
Carlisle chuckled as he shook his head.
"Thank God for small miracles," the elder replied before patting the youth on his shoulder. "You can stand up, Em. We're done here."
"Really?" the boy asked as confusion glistened in his eyes, but he wasted no time in pushing up from the desk.
The patriarch nodded.
"I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and believe that you've learned your lesson."
"I have. I won't be pulling that sort of shit ever again."
Carlisle sighed softly.
"Oh, and Pops? I was just wondering... It's about Rosie."
"What about her?"
"Well, she really didn't do anything."
"I'm aware of that, son."
"Then do you think you could cut her some slack? She did have the most sense of all of us, so..."
"I know what Rose requires. You're just going to have to trust me."
The bruin nodded as he rubbed the back of his neck.
"In fact, Em, when you go back to your room, please asked Rosalie to come see me. I might as well deal with her next."
"Pops, if you wanna give me what Rosie is in for, that's okay with me, and I'll pass it along with your regards."
The physician smiled as he pulled his bearish son into a hug.
"It doesn't work like that, Em, and you know it. I appreciate you wanting to save your wife any discomfort, but this has to be between Rose and me."
Emmett returned his father's hug, lifting the man slightly off his feet before placing him down.
"Are we really good?" the youth asked in a soft, almost shy voice. "You're not mad at me?"
Carlisle smiled warmly.
"I was never mad. I was disappointed because I never want to have to question your integrity. We need to be able to trust each other, Em, and deception like that makes that difficult, but I know you'll make better decisions when temptation arises again."
"Yes, sir. No more easy way out for me."
"It's easier to admit the truth than to try to conceal it."
The dark haired boy thought for a minute than nodded. "I guess you're right, but that hurt look you get is always a killer. That's what's hard to take."
"I'm afraid I can't change what I feel, son, but if you're open and honest with me, at least we can clear the air that much faster."
"Yeah," Emmett agreed as he glanced down at his feet.
"Alright, Em. Go to your room and send Rose. There's no need to keep her on pin and needles."
"Right, Pops, but please..."
"She'll be alright," Carlisle replied as he cocked a brow. "I'm trusting you to be good to your word, son, now you have to trust me."
Emmett nodded as his shoulders rose and fell in a heavy sigh before he trudged from the office, leaving the emotionally exhausted elder to sink into his chair as he mentally prepared to face his daughter.