“Well, hello to you too, Justin,” Nick, the bartender of the local watering hole and my longtime friend joked before he turned to fill my order. He put it in front of me on a cocktail napkin, plopping a bowl of salty nuts beside the drink.
“Thanks.” But it was the drink I reached for. I had to force myself to take a moment, to admire the sultry amber color. Then I inhaled the sharp, familiar scent. Just the smell was a balm of sorts to the end of a long week. Then I tipped the glass back and drank the contents in a single swallow. I breathed out sharply as it burned its way down my throat, ending in a familiar tingle.
“Another?” Nick asked, his ginger brows arching. Already? was the unspoken question.
“Yeah, if you don’t mind. Long week,” I said by way of explanation.
“Figured as much.” He put a new drink in front of me not two minutes from when I’d ordered the first. “Wanna talk about it?”
Before I could answer his question with a definitive no, I felt a brush across my elbow. I turned to see a tall, stunning woman leaning just so, waiting to capture my attention.
Which sounded arrogant, but I made my living off of knowing what women wanted, and even if I didn’t, the sultry pout to her lips and the come-hither rise of her eyebrow told me at a glance.
I swallowed a sigh. “Can I help you, ma’am?”
She leaned forward, boldly stroking up my arm. “Ooh. I was already intrigued by the way you fill out that flannel—which is to say, perfectly—” She threw her head back and laughed. “But an accent, too? Do you mind if I join you?” She batted her long eyelashes.
“Actually, I’m about to leave in just a moment, so there wouldn’t be much of a point,” I told her, polite, but firm.
Her pout was immediate, but I didn’t waver in the slightest. Only when she turned with a huff and flounced out of the bar did I swivel back around to Nick.
He set another glass in front of me. “I guess it really has been a long week,” he chuckled. “I wish I was beatin’ ‘em away with a stick like you are every time you come in here.”
I chuckled, but saw no need to address his remark further. I considered the amber liquid at the bottom of the glass, trying to decide how I wanted to spend my evening. Work kept me plenty busy, and usually so tired that I passed out, exhausted, at the end of each day. These days it was rare that I had enough energy left over to visit a bar.
Nick had to move down the bar and tend to a few more customers that had wandered in. By the time he was back down my way, I’d had half my whiskey and a handful of nuts.
“I’ll get you one more if you want it,” he said, nodding at the glass. “But nothin’ more unless you eat something.”
I chuckled low in my throat. Had the same words come from anyone else, I would have been off my barstool and ready to take my leave. Nick, however, had gone to college with me and knew my tolerance about as well as I did. Maybe better. That, combined with the fact he was the bartender of the only good spot within forty miles meant he could say what he damn well pleased.
“I’m tryin’ to decide whether to have dinner or shove off,” I mused.
“Alright. Well, I can give you some time to decide.” He picked up a rag and began to wipe down the bar even though it was already so shiny I could see myself in it. “Gotta tell you, man, hard to feel sorry for you when you deal with beautiful women all week.”
I laughed again, but it was almost devoid of humor this time. It wasn’t the first time I’d heard something along these lines, and I knew he was far from the only one who’d share the sentiment.
It sounded like a good gig from their perspective. I got to live with and play dom to any number of beautiful women—albeit, one at a time. If one wasn’t particularly to my liking, well, I’d fulfill the fantasy dom she had in mind and there would be another one in a couple of days or so. Most of them were not only beautiful, but also a lot of fun, at least for a while. But after a couple of years of fulfilling other people’s fantasies, I was ending my weeks feeling more than a bit empty. Trouble was I couldn’t figure out why.
“Women can be exhausting,” I said as I took another sip. I grunted as it burned my chest, then plunked the glass down.
“Yeah, but you get to take care of that too,” he remarked, topping off my glass. There was a knowing gleam in his eye that was more than a tad envious.
I shook my head, grinning. Okay, so that part was fun. “Hey, I thought you were seeing someone.”
He shrugged. “Was. It was nothing serious.”
“Yeah? Well then, you know how I feel.” I lifted my glass in a mock toast. “Those women? They’re beautiful, sure. They can even be a hell of a lot of fun sometimes.” Mostly when I had them bare-assed over my lap, but it didn’t seem polite to say aloud. “But they’re nothing serious.”
Nick met my eyes, turning somber for a moment. It wasn’t like him, so it got my attention almost at once. “You could change that if you were of a mind to, I reckon.”
I shrugged and turned back to my drink, even though I didn’t really want another right this second. I was sure from his perspective, I was living the dream. Once upon a time, I had thought so, too. But though I’d had the undeniable pleasure of domming many women over the years—each a beautiful, unique challenge in her own right—when their time had been up, they had gone back to their lives and I’d been left with nothing but memories.
Nick wasn’t the only one who envied my job. From the outside looking in, I knew it looked like a hell of a lot of fun, and it was. But the fun always came to an end and then I was left alone. That was the deal, and I’d been fine with it for the first couple of years, always excited for the next adventure. But these days, it was feeling a little old. But maybe that’s just the way it was for some of us.
“Dinner?” Nick asked.
“Actually,” I quickly downed my drink, wincing this time as the burn seared through me, “I think I’ll—”
Before I could finish my sentence, however, there was a sudden burst of noise that made me turn my head.
There was a table of loud, shrieking women nearby. One of them had put an old boom box on their table and was blaring music.
“Hey!” Nick called out. “Turn that off!”
But the girl, who looked to be in her early twenties and was very scantily clad in a tangerine baby doll dress that accentuated her dark tan complexion, appeared not to hear. She was accompanied by a group of girls—I counted six of them.
Tangerine Baby Doll was clearly the ringleader, and it seemed that the other girls were willing followers as they laughed, threw their hands up, and began to sway to the beat pounding out of the boom box.
“I said, turn it off!” Nick groused, coming around the bar to ensure they heard him.
At that moment, Tangerine Baby Doll pulled a girl to her feet.
Immediately, I could see this girl was not part of the group. For one thing, she wasn’t in anything skimpy or beaded with glittering sequins. She was in a sensible pair of jeans, a nice olive green top that tried unsuccessfully to hide her ample cleavage, and a pair of cowboy boots. My eyes gave her a quick onceover, and I found myself curious to know what was going on here.
“They ever been here before?” I called to Nick.
His mouth was set in a firm line, his eyebrows drawn together. “Nope. Not that I’ve seen.”
“Birthday party?” I guessed.
He shrugged in answer.
I knew that look. Hell, I’d worn that look more than a time or two, and I knew if those girls didn’t heed his warnings soon, they’d all come to regret it. Me, I wanted to rest my spanking hand awhile. Nick was more than capable of taking charge.
There was a loud chorus of screaming laughter that, combined with the pounding music, set my teeth on edge. I reached for my wallet, took out a twenty, and slapped it on the bar. I was putting my wallet back in my pocket when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a struggle going on.
The girl—Olive Top—was being pulled by Tangerine Baby Doll. Olive Top was protesting, digging her heels in and trying to escape the other woman’s grasp, but the other partygoers had gathered around and were trying to hoist her up on the table.
That did it. Off duty or not, I couldn’t just stand by and let something like this happen. Giving Nick a resigned look, I began to make my way over to the group. As I drew closer, I began hearing snatches of conversation.
“Guys, stop!” Olive Top was pleading. “Please, knock it off!” With wide eyes, skin paling, and shaky knees, she looked like she meant it.
In my line of work, I was accustomed to women saying one thing and meaning another. I’d been well trained to know the difference. And, what’s more, when to give what was being asked for, and when to withhold it. But this girl was trying to climb down from the table while three girls blocked her from leaving, laughing and yelling encouragement up at her. Meanwhile, she looked like she was about to cry.
“You’re not getting down from there until you shake that ass!” Tangerine Baby Doll called up to her while the others echoed her mean laugh.
The sound grated on my nerves.
I couldn’t help but notice that every eye on the bar was on them. The ringleader of the group seemed to know it too—her smile was big and toothy, her eyes alight with excitement. The sight of it made my palm itch. If there was one thing I couldn’t stand, it was a bully.
As I got nearer, my eyes squinted. Holy shit… she looks like she’s no older than eighteen!
Much too young to be in a bar, much less table dancing. Did the women she was with know? I clenched my jaw and my fists at my sides as I marched toward them with purpose.
“C’mon, Ashley, don’t be such a tease! Shake it! Your audience is wait-ing!” Tangerine Baby Doll trilled.
“Yeah, why are you always such a prude?” another ribbed. “We came here to have fun, didn’t we?”
A mingled chorus of encouragement and bald insults followed, but Ashley didn’t answer any of it. She was trying to find a way down while the Mean Girl Leader blocked her, sipping her fruity-looking cocktail and swaying to the beat at the same time.
I’d thought Ashley had grown pale earlier, but as I got closer I saw that her cheeks were crimson with embarrassment. I could feel every protective instinct I possessed rising.
“Hey, you need some help?”
Six pairs of eyes flew to me. Ashley, trapped on the table, looked like she’d burst into tears any moment.
I ignored the others, pushing past them easily and offering my arms to the petite blonde. Despite my being a stranger, she didn’t hesitate to walk into my embrace, allowing me to lift her down.
Then I turned on the other women with a scowl. “What the hell did you think you were doing?” I demanded.
“Ah, um…” One cowered in front of me.
“We were just trying to have some fun,” another protested.
“We weren’t trying to hurt her or anything. We’re friends,” Tangerine Baby Doll said, rolling her eyes.
I focused all my anger on her. One hand around Ashley’s wrist, I stepped closer, my eyes narrowed. “Turn that music off and get the hell out of here,” I told her, each word measured through clenched teeth. “If I ever see you showin’ your face around here again—”
“Okay, okay!” she interrupted, laughing while she flipped her auburn curls over her shoulder. “Geez, what’s the big deal? Who are you, anyway? Some knight in cowboy boots?” She laughed uproariously at this. Only two of her buddies were brave enough to join in, but they kept it much lower, I noticed.
“What I am, lady, is someone who doesn’t put up with bullies. Turn it off—now!”
“Relax,” she cooed as she put a hand on my chest.
Big mistake. I gritted my teeth and with my free hand reached around and delivered a solid smack to the back of her dress that was heard even over the music.
Tangerine Baby Doll’s mouth dropped open in shock. Her eyes widened, and as the pain of the swat moved across her bottom, she blanched and sputtered.
It wasn’t her, but one of her fellow Mean Girls who quickly moved and shut off the boom box. I turned a stern glare on the woman, who cowered under my furious gaze. Then I turned my attention back on the ringleader.
Her mouth was moving, but no sound was coming out and a red-hot blush was staining her cheeks.
Good. Now she knows what it feels like to be humiliated in front of a bunch of strangers. “Get your stuff and get moving,” I fairly snarled.
Like magic, my words had the desired effect and all the women began making haste to snatch up purses and coats.
“Not so fast.” I heard a manly drawl behind me. Then I saw Nick put a hand on Tangerine Baby Doll’s shoulder. “We should have a talk first.”
A couple of the girls paused, but at my menacing glare, they quickly got back to work getting ready to get the hell out of Dodge.
“Wait,” the ringleader protested weakly as they began to move en masse toward the door.
One looked over her shoulder, making an apologetic face, but she too scurried out behind the others.
“You got this?” I asked Nick.
“Oh, yeah.” There was a gleam of determination in his eyes. “You good?”
“More than,” I replied, turning my attention toward the girl who stood silently in my grasp ever since I’d rescued her. I didn’t even hear Nick lead his wayward partygoer away.
“Guess you got more than you bargained for tonight,” I remarked, giving her one more glance-over up close. She looked even younger than I’d first guessed and at 5′2″ with a narrow waist and shoulders, she was tiny, too. “You okay?”
“Yes.” She gave me a small smile. “Um, thank you. I really appreciate what you did.”
Even her voice was tiny and crystalline. She sounded all pure innocence, but if she was in here, she definitely didn’t fit that bill.
“Good. Now, what the hell is a girl like you doing in a place like this?”
I shrank back in surprise at the furious demand, not to mention the withering stare. I’d been admiring the way his body filled out the flannel shirt he wore, my eyes traveling up to inspect his strong, handsome features. He had an impressively hard jaw, and admiring it only led my eyes to examine his full, kissable lips. It was a sensual mouth that demanded my gaze linger. Only after I’d fully appreciated it did my gaze move to his perfect Grecian nose. And those eyes. Wow. Green, but unlike any shade I’d ever seen in nature before. High cheekbones…
He was the most handsome man I’d ever seen, which was why it was both discombobulating to see the intensity in his gaze and somehow a turn-on. I’d been relieved when the girls I’d come with—co-workers more than friends, really—had been ordered out, but I was only now realizing they’d left me with an angry bear of a man.
He was easily head and shoulders above my height, which meant he towered over me. But more than that, he had a large build—part linebacker, part lumberjack. With every movement, his impressively huge muscles were evident through the black t-shirt he wore.
In a word, he was intimidating, and I couldn’t help but be a little afraid, especially after what he’d done to Caroline. I knew I’d laugh about it later. If anyone deserved to be taken down a peg it was her. But right now, I was solely concentrated on saving myself from a similar fate. I had no idea what I’d done to cause the venom in his eyes, but it was clear he thought he had cause.
“Wh-what?” I stammered.
“I think you heard me,” he snapped, his hand sliding to my upper arm.
I could tell he had an enormous amount of strength in his large, callused hands. He makes my arm look like a twig in those colossal fingers! I stuttered, feeling just a little bit faint, “Look, um, I appreciate what you did for me, but—”
“If you know what’s good for you, you’ll get your butt out of here.”
“What?” I asked again, the word a nervous laugh this time. I cursed myself the moment it slipped past my lips. The Sexy Stranger narrowed his eyes, his fingers tightening around my arm, but I couldn’t help it. I had been cursed to giggle when I was worried or upset. “What are you talking about?” I asked, trying to cover my horror over my nervous reflexes.
“See that guy over there?” He nodded toward a man drinking at a table in the corner. “He’s a cop. If he finds you in here—well, how do you feel about spending the night in jail?”
He was angry, this large, yet delicious-looking man who had come to my rescue. That much was clear.
I swallowed hard. “I wouldn’t like that,” I answered in my most docile voice, trying to calm him.
It didn’t work. “I wouldn’t think so.” He gave me a little shake then started walking, dragging me along with him.
“Um… where are you taking me?”
“Didn’t you hear what I just said? You’re leaving.” He gave me another firm glare.
“But… my purse is back there, and my, uh… the people I came with… they’re gone, so…”
He arched two dark brows and stopped for a moment. “You want to go with those cackling witches?”
The description made me smile. So he wasn’t a fan of my co-workers, huh? Well, me neither. “I work with them,” I explained. “I didn’t want to come, but they made me.”
“And?” he prompted. Clearly, he was not a patient man.
“Well, it’s just, we came together. I don’t have a ride. And, uh, actually… I don’t have anywhere to go.”
His eyes narrowed. “What are you talking about?”
I giggled. Damn it, stop already, Ashley! But I couldn’t because this was a living, breathing bear who walked on two feet and looked like he wanted to have me for dinner. “Um, it’s just that my lease ran out on my apartment.”
His fingers tightened and then loosened on my arm. A wordless prompting to continue, if I didn’t miss my guess.
“So, ah, my fri… co-worker, Caroline? The one you, um… spanked?” Another giggle leapt between my parted lips. “She told me I could stay with her while I looked for another place.”
His eyebrows rose even higher. “That’s interesting,” he murmured. “She doesn’t seem your… type.”
“She’s not,” I put in quickly. “I just mentioned it at lunch one day, you know? That I hadn’t found anywhere yet and I was worried I’d have to sign a month-to-month, and she offered to let me stay with her. I thought she was being nice. She insisted we come here to ‘celebrate.’ I really thought she liked me.” I allowed my disappointment to show. I’d been skeptical, but eager to turn a working relationship into a friendship. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to happen.
“Well, don’t you worry about Caroline. I have a good feeling Nick is taking care of her as we speak.”
I turned my head to look. Without my noticing it, Caroline had been whisked away. But where? And who was Nick?
“You mind tellin’ me what you’re doin’ in a place like this?”
Whipping my head back around to face him, I barely suppressed a sigh. This was taking on the tone of an interrogation, which was doubly annoying since I’d seen him as a rescuer just minutes ago. “I told you, I—”
“There’s a sign on the door that states clearly no one under twenty-one is allowed. There’s no way you could have missed it.”
As his words sank in, I ducked my head to hide the blush I could feel stealing over my cheeks. “Um… yeah…”
“So, why would you even risk coming in here? Do you know what could happen if you’d gotten caught by Nick? Or the cop I mentioned?” He tilted his head in the direction of the table he’d pointed out to me earlier.
“You think I’m under twenty-one.” Anxiety combined with amusement and I laughed again.
A mistake, if the scowl on my rescuer’s face was anything to go by. “Because you are.”
It was said in such a hard, no-nonsense way that I began to tremble in his grasp. “Uh, no, I’m not.” But it came out a squeak, which only made his eyes narrow.
“Right. Let me tell you something, little girl. I deal with women like you all day. And you are not as clever a brat as you think you are, understand? I took one look at you, and I knew you didn’t belong here.”
Well, he’s not wrong there. But I sensed he wasn’t done and that he didn’t like being interrupted, so I let him continue.
“Do you know what I do to girls like you? If you had any idea…” He gave a dark little chuckle.
And suddenly, I could see in my mind’s eye the smack he’d given Caroline. It had sounded like a gunshot, and the look on her face… she’d gone deathly pale, then fire-engine red in record time.
Is that what he means? Or, is there more? Despite my fear, there was a part of me that wanted to know.
“Um, actually, Sir, I’m twenty-two,” I offered meekly.
Whether it was my tone, or sir, something in his expression relaxed. “Can you prove it?”
His voice was still gruff, but the fire in those vivid green eyes had cooled. “Uh, yeah, I think so. I mean, my wallet is in my purse.”
“Just so you know, I am an expert at spotting fake IDs.” But he let go of my arm. “And I can promise you, lying to me is something you’ll only do once.”
Even if I hadn’t seen him slap Caroline’s teeny behind, I would have believed him. He was too no-nonsense, too big, burly, and menacing not to take seriously. I scurried to the table with him hot on my heels for the three steps it took. I pulled my faded blue bag toward me, my hand riffling through its meager contents before finding my coin purse. I only had my ID and my bank card, so I kept them enclosed in it along with my cash.
What are you doing, Ashley?
As the frantic thought crossed my brain, I knew I should spring into action. Come up with a plan. But what could I do?
I handed over the coin purse, and as soon as he took it, I began to sweat. Get moving! Get your ass out of here! You only have a twenty in there, anyway!
But my panic left me frozen. For a reason I never could understand, my flight or fight instinct was broken. My brain knew it was time to flee, to forget my purse and everything else, but that’s where the signal got lost. My legs refused to obey, and what made it worse was knowing how much shit I was going to be in.
Somehow, I did. Just a little, but that small movement was enough to propel me forward. I could still do this. I could escape to breathe in the cool, crisp air outside. I didn’t have the faintest idea what I would do when I got there, but that didn’t really matter right now, did it? The point was to make it out.
I could see the door. I had only taken two steps, but if I could—
A large, hard hand clamped down on my shoulder, and my excited escape plans dissipated.
“Not so fast.”
I turned to look at him, a nervous, apologetic smile on my face.
“This says you’re twenty.”
“Well.” My tongue flicked across my trembling lips. “A-actually, my birthday is in October, so, um, I’m really more like twenty and three-quarters.”
Something I couldn’t quite decipher moved across his features. When he answered, his tone was gravelly. “Be that as it may, that’s not old enough to be in this bar, and you’re not twenty-two, which is what you told me.” His eyes glinted at me.
Yikes. I felt my belly flip. “I… I’m sorry,” I whispered, ducking my head so I didn’t have to face his stern countenance. My words caused an odd light to flicker in his green eyes. And he let out an ominous little laugh that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. At the same time, my pussy clenched. It was confounding, the conflicting responses he aroused in my body, but I didn’t have long to mull it over.
“I told you not to lie to me.”
I somehow managed to face his flashing eyes without blanching. “Y-yes, Sir.”
“Well, now you’re gonna find out what happens to little girls that play games and tell fibs.” As he began to power-walk through the bar, tugging me alongside him, I could have sworn I heard him mutter, “Big surprise. It’s the same story every time.”
I dug my heels in and tried to pull away, but it was futile on all counts. He moved swiftly, with powerful strides, and I might as well have weighed as much as a handbag for as easily as he managed me. And as much attention as he paid to my attempts to escape.
Where are we going? What does he think he’s going to do?
Frustration and fear rose in equal measure and I began to hiss-whisper, “Stop! What are you doing? Where are you taking me? You can’t just…” Doubly irritated at being annoyed, I reached out and smacked his shoulder.
That got his attention. He halted so fast that I slammed into his stalled back.
Then he whirled around, glaring at me with such anger that I felt like I was literally withering under his stare.
“Um… there was a bee?” I tried, the words working past feeble lips.
Even though I would have called it impossible, his eyes grew hotter. Then, without a word, he dragged me two feet to the nearest booth, propped his leg up on the seat, and propelled me over his leg.
“Wait!” I screeched, forgetting that we were in public. “Stop!”
Heedless to my cries, his hand fell onto the back of my jeans like a thunderclap.
The shock was immediate. The horror and humiliation of having a man with paddle-like hands smack me on my ass put me in some sort of suspended state. It didn’t feel like it could possibly be happening, but when a searing sting moved across my cheeks, there was no denying this was real.
And then, just so that it wouldn’t be in doubt, his hand collided with my jeans twice more in rapid-fire succession.
The only reason I didn’t scream was because my teeth were gritted, but I was in agony as the burn intensified, digging deeper into my tender skin. And yet, that seemed like a small thing compared to the burn of my cheeks. I was sure if I could consult a mirror, I would see my face glowing brighter than a Christmas tree bulb.
Then I found myself unceremoniously hauled to my feet.
“Move,” he ordered, the word hot across my ear. “If I have to stop on your account again, you’ll go bare-assed over my knee—I don’t care who’s watchin’.”
I believed him. As soon as he was done speaking, I scurried to follow him with so much haste that I could swear I saw him grin. But I didn’t slow down long enough to take a good look, either. I didn’t say a word as he hustled me through the bar, but when he ushered me into a small, dark room and closed the door, I began to feel the true perilousness of my situation.
Thankfully, he flicked a light on.
But as soon as my vision adjusted and I took in my surroundings, relief gave way to astonishment. My eyes grew rounder than I thought possible as I surveyed the walls.
The big, burly man who had led me here cleared his throat, and the sound commanded my instant attention. As soon as he saw my gaze on him, he said, “I reckon you’ve figured out where this is goin’.”
My eyes flitted to the wall, then landed back on him once more. I swallowed over my suddenly dry throat. “Listen, mister. I… I really am sorry for… for coming into the bar. I shouldn’t have. It wasn’t even my idea!”
He folded those massive arms across his chest and considered me, seeming unmoved.
“It’s true,” I rushed on. “My… my co-workers… they insisted. And I said no, really, I did, but, well, you saw them.” A nervous trill escaped me. I babbled on to distract him. “They’re impossible to say no to, and really, I mean, I hardly ever get invited to anything, so I thought it would be nice to go out and have some fun for once.” Finished with my rambling tale, I stared at him, hoping for a hint of understanding, but nope. Not so much as a flicker.
“They may not have realized you’re underage, but you knew, darlin’.”
His Southern drawl sent a beam of heat straight to my pussy. I’d always been a sucker for accents. I squirmed, both from the gentle reproof and the desire his sexy twang evoked in me.
“Ashley, isn’t it?”
Surprised by the veer in direction of the conversation, I nodded. “A-ash-ley Ha-Harrison, Sir.” Not knowing if I was feeling daring, or just trying to delay any more stern scolding, I asked, “What’s yours?”
Something flickered in his eyes, and I wasn’t sure he’d answer. But then he said, “Justin,” in that man-of-few-words way of his.
“Nice to meet you, Justin.” And then, even though it made me feel silly, I stuck out my hand.
He took the hand I offered and pulled me to him in a way I’d only ever seen in romance movies. Purely by reflex—or maybe because I just really wanted to—I put my hands on his strong, masculine chest and felt a delicious shiver run through me.
“Nice to meet you, Ashley Soon-to-be-spanked Harrison.”
My mouth hit the floor. I’d heard of that happening to people, read about it in books, and had always found the expression to be a bit silly, to be honest. But my body was not my own, not after he said that. Heat coursed through me with a speed that was damn near dizzying, my pulse pounding a rapid tattoo that I felt everywhere. Particularly between my legs.
The whole thing was bizarre, made even more so by the fact that he’d already spanked me, in public, no less. Sure, there had only been maybe three or four other people in the bar after my co-workers had cleared out, but still.
I wanted to scoff at him. Or better yet, to call him a jerk and stomp out. Of course, I hadn’t had much luck getting away from him earlier and my chances had shrunk even further in this small room. Plus, there was something… captivating about him that kept me from even attempting escape. Instead, I stood there gaping, my panties dampening, certain that he had X-ray vision and knew all my secrets. He certainly seemed to, standing there with his eyes dancing while he wore a cocky smirk.
“Wh-what?” was the best comeback I managed.
“That’s what you deserve, isn’t it?”
It sounded so matter-of-fact and reasonable that he almost had me nodding my agreement before I grabbed ahold of myself. “No!” I spluttered, horrified by the suggestion and what his voice did to me. It made me feel like my body had betrayed me, all for the chance to look at him a bit longer. “And even if that was true,” I continued, blushing hotly from what he’d suggested and my traitorous thoughts, “you already spanked me!”
His green eyes were solemn as he studied my face. “That was not a spanking, Ashley. Those were a coupla swats over your jeans to get you to settle down. Haven’t you ever been spanked before?” But it didn’t sound like a question. He asked it like he already knew the answer.
It was enough to make my anger flare. “Yes! By you!”
When he chuckled, it was just the push I needed to make me say to hell with it, and I reached behind me, my hand searching for the doorknob, and found it.
“Oh, no.” His eyes glinted at me. “You’re not goin’ anywhere. You had your chance, remember? I offered you the opportunity to leave more’n once, and you chose to argue. So now you’re gonna stay put, little girl, and face the consequences.”
He’d called me ‘little girl’ a couple of times now, and I found my reaction to it curious. Had it come from anyone else, I would have been offended. I was twenty and three-quarters, after all. But when he said it, the words seemed almost… endearing. There was no doubt this man was a contradiction.
It doesn’t matter what or who the hell he is! my brain screamed at me. Get out of here! Now!
But there was nothing I could do. I knew that without question, even before he drew closer, put his hands on my shoulders, and moved me away from the door. It made my jaw drop how easy it was for him. Followed quickly on the heels of that thought was how strong his hands were, and how much his hand would hurt—my poor rear was still smarting, and now he wanted to do it again?
“Please,” I whimpered, hating how pitiful and unsexy I sounded, but unable to stop it.
He folded those beefy arms. “I’ll hear you out, but fair warning: no one has been able to change my mind once I’ve decided a spanking is earned.”
My lower lip quivered, but I proceeded to plead, anyway. “I really am sorry. I didn’t have anything to drink, and I wasn’t going to. I was just trying to have some fun with my…” I dropped off, unable to call them friends. I could feel the sheen of tears in my eyes when I met his gaze. “I’ll never do it again. Promise.”
He nodded. “I’m sure that’s true. Know how I know?”
I felt dubious about his question, but I knew failing to answer would only make this situation worse. “How?”
“Because I’m going to give you a reason to remember to follow the rules.” Then his hand flashed out and closed around my wrist.
Panic seized me. “Wait! No!” I dug my heels in, but it was futile and he dragged me easily to the couch in the middle of the room.
He chuckled. “For someone who claims to have never had a proper spankin’, you sure have the pleas down pat.”
I didn’t have any time to mull that over because he immediately pulled me across his lap. I lay facing the wall that had made my belly clench the moment the lights had turned on. There were three rows of paddles. I had never seen anything like it, and as I faced them, my mouth went dry.
I’d thought that was the worst I could possibly feel, until he pulled my jeans down. My head swiveled around to look at him. “Wh-what are you doing?”
“I think you already know the answer to that, darlin’.”
“Wait. Pl-please. Don’t do this.” And then, damn it all to hell, the nerves and anxiety combined and I actually giggled.
A dark brow shot up. “Is this amusin’ you, little girl?”
I blanched. “No! Of course not! Listen—”
But he was not listening. In fact, he was pulling down my panties before I could finish my protest.
The cool air kissed my cheeks, feeling somehow ominous and making me shiver. “I can’t help it!” I cried. “I… I laugh when I’m nervous!”
“Ah. Well, don’t worry. You won’t be laughin’ soon.” Then his hand connected with my bare flesh.
I’d thought it had been bad back in the bar. The awful reality moved across my defenseless rear, searing the truth into my skin with quick spanks. He had me squirming in seconds.
“Stop, please! I’ll be good!”
Justin sighed. “That’s what they all say. And we’re jus’ gettin’ started.”
There was nothing I could say or do to stop him. If I hadn’t known it already with his arm—the size of a tree trunk!—roped around my waist, I learned it well as his leaden hand taught it to my butt again and again.
Whap! It came down, flattening one cheek. Then the other was treated to the same.
The smacks weren’t especially hard, but the fact that they were on my bare bottom made it worse. That, and the humiliation I felt at him seeing me naked from the waist down, especially for this reason, made it harder to endure.
And they just kept coming. Firm swat after swat. They just stacked upon each other like a game of Tetris, only the blocks he built with were made out of pain. My pain. I was truly feeling sorry now. Sorry for ever agreeing to step foot inside this stupid bar in the first place.
Sorry for not leaving when I’d had the chance.
Sorry for not knowing when to high-tail it out of here to protect my tail.
Yes, I was feeling very sorry for myself indeed, and all the sorries built until they were higher than I could bear. They came tumbling down, and my tears followed in a loud burst of sobbing that sounded more like an engine.
Not that it stopped the spanking. Oh, no. That continued in crisp licks that kept falling on my unprotected rear, each one becoming harder than the one before it.
It hadn’t occurred to me to fight until the burning pain was an inferno raging over my ass, burrowing deeper into my skin. Then I wiggled and kicked, willing to try anything if it might put an end to the onslaught.
Justin responded by throwing a leg over both of mine and growling, “Do that again, and I’ll pick one of those paddles.”
I froze instantly. I believed he meant every word, and I didn’t want to risk it.
When the swats resumed, they were aimed at the tender spot where my bottom and thigh met. I’d only thought I was in pain before. As his heavy palm connected with my soft flesh, I knew true agony.
“P-pl-ea-se!” I sobbed. “I’ll b-be g-go-good!”
The only answer I received was two hearty smacks right on top of the others that made me squeal in protest. And then, with hot tears streaking down my cheeks, I found my legs released. He didn’t even give me a moment before I was hauled to my feet to stand in front of him.
“Are you ever going to come into a bar before your twenty-first birthday again?” he demanded, his tone rough.
“No!” I shook my head so quickly, my hair whipped against my cheeks. “No, I promise!”
“Good,” he fairly growled. “And if you ever lie to me again…”
“I won’t, Sir! I won’t!”
He gave one crisp nod, then surprised me by pulling me back onto his lap.
My bare butt rested on the leg of his jeans, and I felt mortified. He was virtually a stranger. He’d also just seen more of me than most men did in the first month of dating.
“Now that you’ve promised to be a good girl…”
Something about the words good girl said in his soft voice made my pussy quiver. “I… I should get out of here,” I sniffled.
Justin stroked my face and ran the pad of his thumb over my cheeks and under my eyes, smoothing away the tears. “Why’s that?”
I clamped my teeth down on my bottom lip to keep from answering. Because you spanked me, Sir. Because I should want nothing more than to get the hell away from you, but instead, my naked ass is on your leg, and I kinda like it. In fact, based on the heat coursing from my pussy, more than kinda.
Which was absurd, because I should hate him. I should be pounding down the door, panties at half mast, and not give a damn who saw. Because he was clearly unhinged if he thought he could treat a stranger like this.
And yet… I wasn’t moving.
With a gentleness that belied how heavy-handed he could be, he tipped my chin up. “I asked you a question, Ashley.”
I avoided his eyes, but that only lasted a moment. I cleared my throat. “You… I… I mean, you…”
“Spanked you,” he supplied, clearly not sorry in the least about it.
“It hurt,” I replied, surprised by the babyish voice that left my lips.
If Justin was, he didn’t show it. “Yes, I’m sure it did. That’s the point. Spankings are supposed to hurt, because you need to learn your lesson. Have you learned your lesson, little Ashley?”
I was taken aback by the moniker. And yet, like everything about this experience, it felt… well, not as bad as my brain told me it should have. In fact, it sort of felt… right.
“Hmm?” He ran a finger down my cheek.
“Yes, Sir,” I murmured.
“See.” He bopped his finger off my nose. “You’re a good girl at heart, you just need a little guidance.”
And when he winked, it was my undoing. I could feel my wetness, and now that I wasn’t wearing panties, there was nowhere for it to hide.
Is this normal? For my body to betray me this way?
I hadn’t enjoyed being spanked. Far from it! In fact, every time I shifted, I winced with the pain radiating from my scorched cheeks. But somehow my pussy hadn’t gotten the memo, and I was mortified to think he might notice at any moment.
“Can I… can I stand up now?” I practically squeaked. If I could stand with my legs tightly closed and quickly restore my clothing, then maybe…
“What do you want to do that for?” he asked.
I knew the answer. I even knew that I knew it, but I couldn’t find a way to make my mouth work and answer him. The truth was, as crazy as my ass was hurting, as nervous and embarrassed as I was at having him sniff out my arousal—literally—I also felt more relaxed and at peace than I could remember being in… well, a very long time.
His eyes had a magnetic pull over my body, and I found myself searching his face. God, he was handsome. Every feature was perfectly sculpted. His eyes drew my gaze once more, still as captivating as the first time I’d noticed them. Now I knew every time I came across the color green in nature or otherwise, I would compare it to the eyes of the Sexy Stranger I’d met in the bar. I’d just do my best to forget the part where he’d bared my ass and spanked me until I cried.
Or the fact that it had made another part of me weep.
I felt the deep velvety rumble of his words in every part of my being.
“I asked you a question, little girl.” The statement was playful, and yet there was an edge to the words.
This was a man who would demand to be answered, and as my eyes found his once more, I felt a pure erotic thrill run through me. “Um… honestly?”
His lips quirked upward. “I think that’s best, don’t you?”
Easy for him to say. He wasn’t the one who was going to be mortified. But at the same time, I couldn’t have him finding out the truth and calling me a liar, either, because I now knew exactly how that would go. My eyes darted over to the wall lined with paddles and it made my decision easy.
“I, um… I don’t know how to say this…”
“Just say it.”
“Uh, well, I want to get up and pull my pants up because, um…” I averted my eyes and my cheeks felt like they were burning. “I’m very wet and I know I shouldn’t be and I don’t understand why, so, um, I want to pull up my pants and get out of here,” I told him with rapid-fire delivery.
His eyebrows shot straight up, and damn if the way his eyes traveled up and down my body didn’t make me hotter. I could feel the moisture between my thighs redoubling. He had it all: the smolder. The swagger. And for a teddy bear of a man, the most handsome face I had ever seen.
His eyes weren’t smoldering at me just now. They were assessing, and as much as I’d told him I wanted to leave, the heat pulsing at the center of my core belied my words. His gaze was so intense, I almost felt like he could see right through me, could see my burning, naked lust, and it made me squirm.
“You sure that’s what you want?” he asked at last, his voice silken politeness.
I was so turned on at this point, I nearly moaned. Thankfully, my lip caught my bottom lip just in time. “Mmm-hmm.”
Justin grinned a sexy, wolfish grin that did things to my body. His eyes lit up, too, and I swear he could smell the rapidly growing juices I kept trying to conceal. “Didn’t we just have a talk about what happens to liars?”
Heat suffused my cheeks. How could he do this to me? They were just words. And yes, his eyes might be tantalizing, but they were still just eyes. Why did I want to kneel in front of him and confess every secret I’d ever kept?
My name on his lips was my undoing. My legs quivered with the effort to keep my arousal from his view even as my hand hovered, ready to grab my pants and yank them back up to cover my shame. Why didn’t I just do it? Why was I frozen like this, waiting, as though for permission?
And then his hand was cupping my bottom, his fingers stroking a lazy, yet decisive path.
I couldn’t hold back the moan that spilled from my lips. It was so full of passionate lust that there was nothing I could do to hide it. Even as my skin blazed hotter, matching my growing humiliation, I saw Justin’s smile grow.
“That’s what I thought. Now, be a good girl for Daddy and spread those beautiful legs.”
“Wh-what?” I asked, my eyes growing wide.
“You heard me. Spread your legs.”