When her father said "Be home by midnight", he didn't mean 'Feel free to wander back in at three o'clock in the morning, rumpled and smelling of cigarettes and alcohol.'
He had sat up half the night, growing angrier and angrier, so that when Melissa finally showed up, he was in a furious mood. Melissa had looked aghast when she saw him: she'd hoped to be able to sneak in quietly and concoct some sort of alibi before the morning.
He brusquely told her to hang her dress on the washing line to let it air and get the stink of the nightclub out of it. Then he marched her straight up to her room, pausing only to collect his cane from the study.
The rest of the house was deathly quiet, but neither her mother nor her sister were sleeping: they were waiting for the crack of rattan across those pale cheeks, and the yell from Melissa as the first fiery stroke blazed across her bottom. There would be many more to come.