Three years after being shamefully put in the ‘friend zone,’ I still can’t get him off my mind.
We shared a moment… once. A brief connection that has stayed with me always. I’ve been accused of having an overly active imagination, but even I couldn’t have conjured up the jolt of electricity that danced between us that night.
It was as real as the heart that beats in my chest.
The one he ripped out when he uttered those terrible words: I love you like a sister.
I can’t take a shower without dreaming of his skin against mine.
Can’t walk by him without making ridiculous puppy dog eyes.
Can’t seem to spend a single second of my life not wondering what it would be like to be his girl.
And just to add fuel to the fire, there are three little factors making the entire situation that much worse.
Number one, he was my first kiss. He probably doesn’t even remember it, but it meant everything to me. It was just a peck but it was enough to continue to cause an aftershock in my heart all these years later.
Number two, he has me panting, pressing my thighs together, and hoping and praying he’ll one day open his eyes and see me for what I really am: his perfect match. The truth is that Eli—before he even became a member of the Bachman Brotherhood—took me over his knee and spanked me.
And I’ve been dying for him to do it again.
If I dig a little deeper and allow myself to remember that magical night—that moment we shared that will forever be etched in my memory—there is a third thing that causes my emotions to be even more complicated.
It’s so filthy… so wrong—I pretend it never happened.
But it did.
A little taboo word slipped from my mouth.
Only five letters but they’ve had me scrambling to excuse myself for saying them ever since.
I called him…
Three years prior
Having been fascinated by the Bachman family and their powerful secretive mafia since I was a kid, my deepest desire in this world is to become a member of their Brotherhood. They run a Robin Hood-style crime ring, focusing their efforts on taking from the corrupt rich of the rich and ‘redistributing’ the wealth to the people who need it most. The members of the Brotherhood are ruthless and brave, answering to no man other than those above them in the hierarchy.
There’s only one way in—by invitation. When a man has proved his worth, he then goes through a grueling initiation afterwards, takes the surname Bachman, and leaves his old life behind. The only way out is death.
This evening the Bachmans are hosting their annual gala for the families of their legitimate business partners. Legit meaning money-making corporations that show up on the Bachman Enterprises tax forms. Ones that aren’t directly involved in mafia activity. Men like my father. Intelligent, loyal, and able to keep their mouths shut while toiling away at their desk jobs.
Sipping my drink, the festivities only serve to dampen my mood, reminding me I’m on the wrong side of things—the civilian side. I want to be in the ranks, blood on my hands, not sitting at a desk growing fat around the middle while I do the family’s accounting.
In the depths of my core I know I belong among the ranks of Rockland, Bronson, and Carter, the heads of the three Bachman homesteads. Rockland is the man I admire most, the head of the family, number one in rank and overseer of the Village, where Bachman Enterprises is located, housing all their business ventures behind stone walls in New York City.
He’s the most powerful man in the mafia, and thus one of the most powerful men in the world. He has a quiet confidence that comes from knowing exactly who he is. He’s a billionaire, but one of the most down-to-Earth men I know. Getting no joy from expensive toys, he often drives a beat-up truck. Wears torn jeans. And defers to the opinion of his beautiful wife, who he regularly cooks for.
He has no need to prove himself. He’s as well respected as a man can get. And with Tess on his arm, a cunning redheaded woman who turns every male head in the room, he’s possibly the luckiest man on this Earth.
Tonight, I intend on taking my first steps to infiltrate their tight circle, to convince them of my worth. I have a plan.
I sidle up to the bar where Rockland stands, leaning casually against the smooth wood grain, looking bored of the party. He’s tossed his suit jacket aside and wears no tie, making the sleek black fabric around my own neck seem over the top. He’s got that half-grin on his face as he watches his wife dancing with the other wives.
Bachman Beauties as they call themselves.
The non-Bachman women, the ones invited here with their husbands, the legit business owners, stand to the side wearing their Sunday best, sipping at their first glass of wine. They stare and whisper at the Bachman wives, their eyes filled with envy and gossip.
The Beauties tend to cause a stir no matter where they go. Not only are they gorgeous, well groomed, and dressed in gowns that cost my parents’ monthly mortgage, they are all downright kinky as hell. At least, those are the rumors we hear in our small hometown.
In a Bachman marriage, the man leads, the woman follows. If she goes against her husband’s wishes, she is punished. In all kinds of ways. But that doesn’t make these women doormats—only the strongest kind of woman can be married to a member of the Brotherhood.
I slide into the open barstool beside Rockland. I wait, silently, to see if he addresses me. He knows who I am. I’ve made sure of that. But I know how to play the game—there’s a fine line that divides persuasion from pestering. So I wait.
A few minutes later, I get what I’ve come for.
He turns to me, eyeing me with his steely gaze. “Eli, right?”
I give a cool nod. “Yes, sir.”
He raises one dark brow. “You’re Tom’s boy. The one with the proposition?”
‘Tom’s boy’ is not a term I’d like to be known by. I love my father but he’s soft, not a risk taker. I nod. “Yes. I’ll only take a moment of your time.”
“Let’s hear it.” He gives me his full attention.
I’ve only got this one chance—I can’t fuck this up. “I want to be a member of the Brotherhood.”
A look of bored contemplation covers his face. He eyes me, sizing me up. “Why not follow in your father’s footsteps? He’s done well for himself. With minimal risk.”
Exactly what I don’t want. I say, “I want to be a Brother. To you. To all these men. I’ve wanted it for a long time.”
With another man, this is where a lengthy conversation might ensue. A back and forth banter, questions and answers, feeling out my intent. This is not Rockland’s way. Instead, he gives me a long, hard stare, as if studying my intentions through my gaze. He gives me a satisfactory nod. “I can see it in your eyes. You’re hungry. Tell me—what do you propose?”
“I have a way. To show you what I’m capable of. To show you my commitment. A trial period if you will.”
He leans forward. “I’m listening.”
This is my chance. I tell him the plan I’ve been hatching for the past semester leading to my college graduation. “I’ve worked on private boats every summer, even super yachts, though none as large as yours. I’ve made my way up the ranks to chief officer. Hire me to work on the Aphrodite. And while I work as a civilian on your yacht, take me on a few missions. I know I’ve got a lot to learn, and I’ll make mistakes, but I’m confident you’ll see promise in me.”
I hold my breath as he considers my suggestion.
After an agonizing moment, he says, “The one thing that sets men apart from ones who want to join the Brotherhood, and men we want to have by our side? Your confession that you’ve got a lot to learn. I respect that.”
Honored by his statement, I say, “Thank you.”
Tess appears from nowhere, linking arms with Rockland. She gives me a hard stare. “You’re Tom’s boy, Eli. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
I give a polite nod. “Pleasure to make your acquaintance.”
Her inquiring gaze turns to her husband. “What are you two discussing?”
He looks at Tess, respect in his eyes as always. “Eli would like to join our ranks. He’s proposed a probationary period on board the Aphrodite as chief officer.”
She gives me a smile. “Hmm. I get a good feeling from this one.” She leans down, placing her lips gently on Rockland’s. She’s gone as quickly as she appeared.
Seems I have Tess’s blessing, not an easy achievement from what I’ve heard about her. I must strike while the iron is hot. I ask, “What do you think? Of my proposal?”
There’s another long, agonizing pause, but the man is not to be rushed. He takes a sip of his drink, emptying the glass and resting it on the bar top. “I’ll allow it. Captain Luca will be in touch.” With that, he slides from his seat, following his wife.
I rise from mine as a sign of respect as he walks away. I want to pump my fist in the air. To shout. To celebrate. After all these years, I’ve finally got one foot in the door. Finishing my drink, I discard my glass on the bar.
Time to head home. There’s nothing here for me—my real life will start the day I step foot on that boat.
As I’m walking past the dance floor, a flailing mess of pink satin and blonde curls catches my eye. I chuckle, thinking one of the Beauties has had too much to drink. Upon further inspection, I find it’s Charlotte Greene.
Our dads have worked together for years. Our parents dine together often. When we were younger, she was kind of like a kid sister to me, always tagging along, but never too much of a bother.
Now she’s eighteen. All grown up with the curves of a woman. I’ve always thought of her only as a friend, but tonight, I found myself thinking indecent thoughts when I first saw her in that dress.
I caught her watching me earlier in the evening, and so I’d asked her to dance.
We swirled around the floor, the satin of her gown slippery beneath my hand. She smiled up at me and in her eyes, I caught a glimmer of admiration. With her body pressed against mine, I began to wonder what it would feel like to kiss her pouty little mouth.
I had to remind myself, this is Charlotte. A friend of my family and someone I promised myself I would never cross that line with. She’s a sweet girl. Somewhat shy. Straight A student, volunteers on the weekends. A good girl. I’ve been looking out for her as long as I can remember.
And right now, she needs some serious looking after. She’s shimmying and shaking in a way that’s most inappropriate. Laughing loudly and sloshing her drink all over the place. And judging by the way she’s acting, it’s a strong one.
She’s drunk. Underage. At a Bachman family event.
I’ve got to get her out of here before one of the men notices her. If her father hears about this via a complaint from one of his bosses, he’d be mortified.
She’s circled by a group of her friends, other daughters of legit business owners from back home, a few of the Beauties mixed in. When one of her friends sees me, I hear her whisper, “Shit. It’s Eli.” They all stop dancing, staring up at me with wide eyes. The Beauties exchange knowing glances and slip off into the crowd, sly smiles on their faces.
Charlotte keeps dancing, cute as can be but with every sway of her hips, she’s causing herself serious trouble. I address the group. “You’ll have to excuse us.”
At the sound of my voice, Charlotte looks up in surprise. Before she can speak, I grab her arm, tugging her from the dance floor.
Wide-eyed and innocent with absolutely no clue what the repercussions of her behavior could be, she smiles at me. “Eli! There you are! I’m having such a nice time. Are you having a good time? Did you want another dance?”
We make our way out of the ballroom. I pull her roughly into the hallway, into privacy. Lowering my voice, I demand, “What are you doing?”
“Partying. What are you doing?” Giggling, she goes to take a sip from her drink.
I snatch the glass from her hands. The smell of vodka hits my nose. “Shit. That’s strong. Who gave you this?”
She waves her hand in the direction of the room we’ve come from. “The bartender. He was such a sweetheart.”
“What are you doing drinking?” He’ll never work another Bachman event. I’ll make sure of that. “You’re not even twenty-one yet.”
“I’m over eighteen though. Legally an adult. So, no harm done. I’m thirsty. Can I get another sip of that?” She smiles sweetly, her lips pink from the drink.
Is she serious? This little girl has got no clue. She’s beautiful, her laugh dancing through the hall like a tinkling bell, but my patience is wearing thin. I toss the drink in the nearest trashcan. “Hell, no.”
She covers her mouth with a dainty hand as she giggles. “Hey! That’s a waste. I was going to finish that.”
“No, you weren’t.”
“It’s okay, I can get another.” She heads off toward the ballroom.
“No. You won’t.” I grab her arm, pulling her toward me until my face is only inches from hers. “What the hell are you doing getting drunk at a Bachman event? Do you know what that would look like for your father? He could lose his job. His respect. Word gets around.”
Recognition sinks into her gaze. The smile on her face melts into a worried grimace. Her big brown eyes blink back tears. “I… I didn’t think of it like that. I was only trying to have fun.”
Her father is as soft as mine—otherwise he would have taught her to behave properly before now. The unshed tears in her eyes tug at my heart.
I relax my hold on her arm. “Did any of the Bachmans see you like this?”
She shakes her head. “I don’t think so.”
I remember the Beauties who were in her midst. They are known for their swift gossip chains. A few of them saw me taking Charlotte away. I’m sure they’ll spread the word. And it would be better if they did hear the gossip, to also hear that it’d been dealt with.
She needs to be punished. To be reminded that there are consequences for her actions. And in order to keep her father in the Bachmans’ good graces, she needs to be taught that this can’t happen again.
Pulling her in closer, I say, “Here are your choices. I can take you to your father, right now, and you can tell him what you’ve done. Or we can deal with this on my terms.”
She looks up at me, her mouth forming an ‘o’ of surprise. Reality sets in. She grabs my shoulders, begging, “Oh, no, Eli! You can’t tell my dad. Please don’t tell him! I never drink… well, almost never. He’d be so disappointed. I couldn’t bear it.”
I’m telling myself that I’m doing this as a favor to her father, to keep her out of trouble. But deep down I feel something akin to possession—as if she’s mine to correct. My voice catches as I say, “So, it’ll be my way, then?”
She bites her bottom lip, nodding in agreement.
My cock stirs a touch at the sight of her teeth resting on the pouty pink lip of hers. I find myself wondering what she tastes like. My throat feels tight. Clearing it, I say, “Great. A spanking it is.”
Her eyes go wide, filled with fear. She struggles to get out of my grip. “Wait! I didn’t agree to that.”
I lean in. “You did, when you agreed to do things my way. This is my way.”
Cowering back, she whispers, “You can’t!”
I ask, “Would you rather I take you to your father?”
She shakes her head. “No… I’d rather you did neither.”
My mind is already made up. I’ll punish her myself, take her back to her father, and send her home. All the while trying to convince myself I’m doing this for her own good; that my intentions have nothing to do with the fact that when I look at Charlotte now, my heart pounds a little faster.
I’m suddenly sober.
A spanking? I’ve never, ever been spanked before. And to have it happen at the hand of my lifelong crush, Eli Tatum? Unbearable!
I’ve got to get out of this. Now. But he’s so strong, the grip he has on my upper arm is like a vise. I sneak a glance at him out of the corner of my eye as he pulls me further down the dark hallway.
His jaw is set like stone. His dark hair is combed back tonight, but I prefer when he wears it unkempt. His dark eyes flash at me as he catches me staring.
My heart picks up its pace, a combination of knowing I’m about to be punished, as well as from looking at his stern, handsome face.
He’s been my crush almost my whole life. I’m not the only one who adores him—practically every female at our small high school had his name written on their notebooks. But I always felt like I had a bit of a claim on him, seeing as our dads worked together.
Eli was self-assured, confident, a natural leader at a time when the other boys were immature, flailing to figure out who they were and what it meant to be a man. Eli seems to have been born knowing what to say, how to carry himself.
Boys would pick fights with him from time to time, just to see what he was made of. Often he’d dismiss them with cold words. Other times he’d fight, and when he fought, he won.
He always had a girlfriend. A string of sleek brunette beauties, proud to be on his arm. They were serious, studious, and gorgeous. The kind who wrote poetry, sketched, seemed so much older than their age. Those untouchable girls who don’t even seem like real girls, instead made of the same stuff as the Greek goddesses.
He’s never been with a quirky, curly-haired blonde girl who seems to always find herself in one scrape after another—like the one I’m in now.
Nervous energy races through my body. My tongue loosens and idle chatter tumbles from my mouth. “What have you got going on this summer? You graduated college, right? I just finished my freshman year. Three years to go before I’m in your shoes. I heard you got honored at the commencement ceremony for your GPA and being class president—”
He asks me, “Who told you that?”
Trembling beneath his icy gaze, I can’t stop the jumble of words from racing forward. Giving a nervous laugh, I say, “My mom. Who heard it from your mom. You know how parents are. Always talking about their kids.”
He pulls me further down the dark hall. “I think you’re stalling. Making small talk to keep me from lighting up your ass.”
His words make my buttocks clench.
I make a snap decision—I’ll run for it.
But how to get out of his grip? Kick him? I look over his muscled body. The thick material of his suit can’t hide the bulge of his biceps. I doubt he’d even feel it if I tried to punch him; it would probably be a tickle to him.
There must be other tactics I can use. Womanly wiles are out since silly drunk girls are obviously not his type. But maybe acting. Create a distraction, then escape.
Theater has never let me down. Nerves dance in my belly as I prepare to carry out my plan. Pasting a horrified look on my face, I raise my arm in the air and shout, “Oh, my gosh, look over there! Someone’s in trouble!”
He stops dead in his tracks. Dropping his grasp of my arm, his body instantly tenses, preparing for danger.
Without a backwards glance, I sprint down the hall toward the red lights of the emergency exit. I’m almost there! My hand reaches out toward the silver handle, and—two big arms wrap around me, stopping my momentum and pulling me backwards.
My arms are flailing as I cry out, “Let me go!”
Eli holds me against him, his chest pressing against my back. His mouth is by my ear, his breath hot on my cheek. “Going somewhere, little girl?”
My heart beats hard against my ribcage. A thrill of danger runs through me and there’s a pulsing between my legs, a reaction to his rough embrace. The feel of his body against mine weakens my resolve but I still put up a fight. “I’ll never agree to this!”
“I’ve told you—you already agreed when you said we’d do things my way.” With that, he props his right foot up on a nearby discarded storage crate and flips me over his thigh. He gives my ass a hard smack.
The pain surprises me. I struggle in his grasp. “That hurt!”
His arm tightens around my waist. “It’s going to hurt more.”
I groan with despair. “Are you sure this is necessary? It was only a little partying.”
“I don’t think you understand the severity of the situation. Maybe you’ll get a better grasp of how inappropriate your behavior is if we pull up this dress.” His hand tugs at the hem of my dress, pulling the silky material up and over my bottom.
Anyone could walk down this hall. The thought of someone seeing me like this—it’s horrifying. Shame covers me like a blanket. “Please don’t!”
“Don’t what?” he asks.
I don’t think I’ll survive the humiliation of someone seeing my bottom. “Please don’t pull my dress up. Someone could see.”
“Good. They’ll tell the Bachmans you’ve been dealt with and it will spare your father being reprimanded.” He continues lifting the dress.
I’m exposed. The cool air caresses my panty-clad bottom. I squeeze my eyes shut tight as if I can block out what’s happening. Sucking air between my clenched teeth, I hiss, “I can’t believe you’re doing this to me!”
“Would you rather I retrieve Rockland to punish you?”
The image of the huge angry-looking man pops into my mind, his massive hand spanking my bottom hard. Fear dashes through my heart. “No, thank you!”
My dress is now bunched up around my waist. He’s running his hand over my sheer pink panties, caressing the spot he’s spanked. “Such a cute bottom.”
Shocked by his words, there’s tingling between my legs. There’s no time to enjoy it because now his hand is coming down hard and fast. One smack to the center of the right cheek, then one to the center of the left. Pain covers my bottom, a stinging smarting that’s hurting my curves as well as my pride.
He’s chastising me as he spanks. “You were mistaken, thinking you could hold your own, drinking with grown ladies. You’re still a little girl in need of watching and correcting. All dressed up at a fancy party only to find your panties being pulled down for a spanking.”
The pain is instantly forgotten as I feel his fingers creep to the elastic waist band of my panties. The material is thin, not giving me any protection from his smarting hand, but they are at least protecting the one ounce of dignity I have left. “No, no, no. You can’t. You just can’t! Please don’t pull my panties down, I’m begging you. It’s too humiliating.”
His fingers hold steady for a moment, not moving.
Maybe he’s changed his mind. Hope fills my heart. But then with one quick tug, he’s got my panties pulled down, rolled around the tops of my thighs. I moan in shame as I feel his gaze on the very naked cheeks of my punished bottom.
“Nice and pink. But let’s see if we can get a pretty cherry red.”
His hand comes down on my bare bottom and I realize the panties were offering more protection than I thought. The sting from his flat palm against the bare skin of my bottom is unbearable as his hand comes down over and over.
Soon I’m begging, pleading, and promising. “Please, don’t spank me anymore! I’ve learned my lesson. I’ll be a good girl. No more drinking, I promise!”
His hand pauses, I sense it hovering over me, ready to strike. “And you’ll mind your manners at the next family function?”
The words slip from my mouth before I can stop them. “Yes, Daddy!”
My heart stops in my chest as I realize my mistake.
It can’t be.
Say that this is a bad dream and that I did not just call Eli Tatum Daddy, while he spanks my bare ass.
Lying limp over his leg, I cringe waiting for his terrible reaction to my insane mistake.
“Mm… Daddy… I like that.” His voice is thick as he growls, “Good girl.”
His words stun me; his tone is laced with lust. I swear I feel the stirrings of an erection pressing into my hip. I’m bent over his hard thigh, locked against his groin. I can’t be imagining the sudden hardness.
The spanking is over. Relief washes over me as he slips my panties up over my bottom and pulls my dress back down into place. He rights me, but there’s no way I will ever be able to look him in the eyes again. I stand, my hands hovering at my hips, wanting to rub my sore ass, but resisting, guessing that would be a mistake.
I can’t talk to him. I can’t look at him. I want a big black hole to form in the floor beneath me and swallow me whole.
The silly word repeats in my mind, over and over: Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.
Staring at the floor, I long to avoid his gaze after everything that’s just passed between us. But now, the tips of his fingers are beneath my chin, tilting my face up toward his. “Look at me.”
Despite my shame, I obey. His eyes are as dark as a midnight sky and I’m lost in their depths. The way he’s looking, it’s the way a man looks at a woman. One he desires.
He leans down, and his lips meet mine in the softest, gentlest of kisses.
My first kiss.
When he pulls away, I’m left swaying, my mind a fog of lust and love and dizziness.
“Charlotte, I…” His words falter but his gaze lingers. It’s deep and meaningful, and yearning, the same way he gazed at me when we were dancing tonight. The way he looked just before he pressed his lips to mine.
My lips still tingle from his kiss as my heart fills with hope. “Yes?”
His brow furrows, his face closing. The look is tucked away, replaced by a mask of indifference. Confusing me.
He takes both my hands in his. “Charlotte, I really care about you. That’s why I look after you like I do. I love you…”
He loves me?
Maybe I’m misreading him, but my heart soars to the moon, giving me the courage to finally tell him how I feel. “Eli, I—”
But he cuts my words off with the end of his sentence. Piercing my soul with his horrid words, he says, “Like a sister.”
Like a sister.
The words land heavy like a thud. Knocking the wind from my lungs and the words from my mouth. Tears burn at the backs of my eyes, threatening to make themselves known.
Silently, I look away. I don’t trust myself to speak without causing tears of disappointment to flow down my cheeks, furthering my humiliation. Crying in front of him now would break me.
He holds his arm out to me. I accept, allowing him to lead me back to my father. My night has ended.
With every step I take down that long hall, I tell myself that my heart hasn’t just been ripped from my chest. Try to convince myself that the connection I felt between us was nothing more than my imagination. Attempt to erase the memory of calling him Daddy.