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Her Bossy Daddy by Adaline Raine – Sample

Prologue

Lacey

I stared into his deep green eyes, glassy from the glare of the computer screen. I must have fallen quiet for some time because Liam sighed.

“Did you hear what I said, love?”

“Say it again?” I twisted a piece of my hair around a finger. Anxiety flooded my body after the important news he shared with me and I needed him to repeat it.

“In less than a month, I’ll be living in New York.” Liam leaned forward in his chair, placing his body closer to the web camera. “Three weeks at max unless they take their sweet time getting my visa.”

“Oh. Er. Um.” I croaked out the sounds. I’d hoped for a miracle for so long. Praying he could find a way to move to the states. To me. But I’d been so selfish in my thoughts. How could he be so willing to jump an ocean all by himself? “What about your family?” I stammered out.

“They make these nifty gadgets called planes, love. Maybe you’ve heard of them?”

“Well, it’s a big state, you know.”

His voice melted my panties into a puddle on a normal day, but when he teased with a hint of authority they damn near exploded. But even someplace like Buffalo to my tiny upstate town was a hop, skip, and a jump compared to international air travel.

“What’s bothering you? I thought you would be excited.” He rubbed a hand along his chin.

“It’s, uh, nothing. Really,” I lied. “It’s been sort of a long day.” I needed to get out of this conversation fast before he prodded for more information.

“You’re not being honest with me, love. Spit it out. What’s wrong?”

Holy hell! He was coming to New York. Moving across the freaking ocean for some incredible opportunity. I stared at the computer screen in shock while relearning how to breathe, then clicked end on the Skype session. Shit. I just hung up on him. But more important issues tugged at me. If he relocated near me, would we be able to take our relationship to a deeper level? My computer chirped at me, alerting me to an incoming call. Nope. Not tonight. Liam might decree I bust my own ass for this, but I would deal with it later. I wasn’t feeling submissive anymore. All I needed was a lot of vodka.

Chapter One

Lacey

Whispers floated up the hallway as I headed down the main corridor at work. My team and I were welcoming a new member today, my direct supervisor, and we were about to meet him for the first time. One woman in front of me mumbled about his managerial style meshing with her requirements while the other two gushed about his possible attractiveness, age, and also placed bets on his marital status. Ugh. I just hoped the two of us would get along. It had been about six months since I’d had a formal manager after the old stick in the mud retired. That woman had been a crotchety, ill-tempered bat, so anyone else had to be an improvement. No one knew about my intense dislike for my previous boss. No, I was always professional at my job. Polite and courteous to a fault. I entered the conference room and drank in the sight of him as he stood off to the side of the table, engaged in conversation with a few colleagues. Wow. Broad shoulders, crisply ironed lines on his white dress shirt, a strong jawline with a short dark beard and trimmed mustache. He’s so handsome. My gaze continued upward to two even darker green pools. Realization flickered across them. I clutched a hand to my throat as my breath caught, and then the room spun over my head. I was sucked into his deep green eyes, which I’ve spent hours staring into through a tiny webcam window. Somehow Liam was suddenly about two feet in front of me. Blinking several times, I attempted to regain my composure, but stars flooded my vision followed by blackness.

Liam

“Lacey’s as white as a sheet!” someone exclaimed, and the reality of the situation dawned on me. I tore my gaze from the gorgeous brown eyes I’d been captivated by and advanced to her side. Anticipating the inevitable, I caught her mid-fall. Shit. Lacey, my lovely girlfriend, was passed out in my arms. Over the past few weeks our relationship had hit a few stumbling blocks, ones we had yet to work out, and our new professional relationship would require even more care. I had no idea she worked here.

“You.” I pointed to an older gentleman. “Please go grab some cold, wet towels from the restroom, and a bottle of water from the break room. “ My medical skills dusted themselves off. I rarely used them at all, much less in the office. But now all those medic classes had amounted to something. I strode to the table and carefully placed Lacey on it. “Does anyone have a sweater or jacket?” A sweater appeared, and I rolled it up and bunched it under her ankles. “Lacey, can you hear me?”

Since I’d told her about the relocation to New York, she’d avoided me at every juncture. The fantastic opportunity presented by our company was a once in a lifetime chance. I couldn’t pass it up. We never talked about work much, let alone revealed the name. Who knew we worked for the same damn corporation? It didn’t make a big difference though. Fuck. I envisioned our first face-to-face meeting going so much better than this.

“I can hear you.” She blinked open her eyes. “Um. Oh.” Her beautiful cognac-colored eyes locked on mine, but they were wide in fright. “I’m fine.” Lacey shifted as if to get up, but I placed a hand on hers to stop her.

“Easy, love,” I whispered against her ear. “You fainted.” The older gentleman returned with the requested items and I accepted them with thanks. I placed the towel on the back of her neck and checked her pulse with the hand still pressed to hers. “Let’s take twenty. All right?”

Murmurs of agreement mingled with concern, and then the others filed out of the room.

“I’m fine,” she repeated. “I, uh, just got a bit dizzy. It’s fine.”

“Your pulse isn’t racing as fast as it was a minute ago.” I released her wrist. She bit down on her lip and I watched her work it in and out of her teeth. The gesture drove me wild with desire during our video chats, and in the flesh, it sparked the same want. Longing to suck on it, I licked along my own lips, fighting the urge to nibble hers. I failed in an attempt to keep my hands to myself and dragged a finger across her bottom lip.

“You probably shouldn’t touch my mouth at work.”

“Sorry, love.” I dropped my hand to her waist and guided her to an upright position.

“This racks up as much humiliation as showing up to school with no clothes on.”

“Come again?” Tapping the towel with my free hand, I encouraged her to hold it. I slid the sweater out from her feet, and then hung it on the back of a chair. “This is nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“So you say,” she muttered. “I’ve never even called in sick around here, and I just made a fool of myself. It’s a miracle I didn’t hit the floor.”

“I caught you.” Her cheeks turned scarlet at the mention but I wasn’t entirely sure why it bothered her.

“How did you manage to do that? I’m not a size—”

“Hm?” Something shifted in the air between us, and she slammed her trap shut. “What was that?”

“I, uh, wasn’t going to say anything worth mentioning.”

“I thought not.” Interesting. One of our rules stated she was not to put herself down in any way. The repercussions had been self-inflicted when an ocean separated us, but that was no longer the case. I hoped Lacey would reconsider her words more often. Our relationship wasn’t acknowledged yet, but we would discuss it later. “Here. Drink some water.” I handed her the bottle, and she accepted it with a small smile.

“Thank you.” She took a few good swallows from the bottle, but her eyes never left mine.

“I’m going to formally introduce myself at the meeting, but I’ll tell you I’ve recently been promoted. I’m now the head of marketing for the US branch.” I extended my hand as a formality. “Liam O’Connell.”

“Lacey Porter.” She took my hand and gave it an awkward shake. “It’s nice to meet you. I’ve heard wonderful things from upper management but never connected the dots.” A cool calm suddenly fell over her. “They usually send out a mass email. Why did they give you a top-secret promotion?”

“It’s no secret, love. Just a lot of paperwork. Upper management didn’t have my start date set since relocating from another country can get sort of hairy.”

“Did they grant you a work visa or did you have to file on your own?”

“It’s more complicated than you might imagine. Since I’ve already been working for the company for seven years they sponsored me to be here on a temporary green card. If I want to stay here I need to apply for citizenship.”

“Oh, wow.” Both of her eyebrows rose up as if she was processing everything. “I can’t believe we’ve been at the same company all this time. I’ve been here for ten.”

“They’ve moved me around a bit, but this is the first time I’ve interacted with this office.” I glanced down to see her hand gripped in mine. I wanted to pull her into my arms and show her what I’ve wanted to do for so long. If only we weren’t here in this damn meeting room.

“Oh.” She tugged her hand away and then got down from the table. Her legs wobbled and I placed a hand on her waist to steady her. “Thanks again. I don’t usually swoon before a meeting.”

“Well, Miss Porter, if you did? I’d catch you again.” I tried to keep a smirk off my face and failed. She was so damn cute. I bet she channeled all of her professional composure not to snark a bratty comment in reply. Her chest lifted and fell several times, and her breath hitched in her throat.

“I should take a seat,” she replied and then retreated down the length of the room. She found a spot on the other side of the long extended table and seated herself without another word.

I stared at her for a moment, wanting to keep the conversation going, but voices carried up the hallway. Twenty minutes flew by without my noticing. I blew out a breath and hoped the rest of the day carried on without any further incidents.

Lacey

I hopped from one foot to the other as I dodged around furniture to clean the house. It wasn’t the smartest move, exerting myself after a swirling storm of emotions pounded through my body, but it kept my mind occupied and focused. My phone chirped and I answered without looking. “Hello?”

“How was your day, love?”

It’s Liam. Of course it is. We talked to each other almost every day, but the vibe seemed different. I stopped moving around and considered lying. I didn’t want to explain all my thoughts. “Uh, it was okay.” I bit down into my lip and then sank into the couch. I better get this part over with. Yeah, like ripping off a Band-Aid. “I passed out at work today.”

“Are you all right?”

“Yes.”

“Did something upset you?”

“No, it was nothing like that.” Are we going to do this awkward skate around the elephant in the room thing for a while? I contemplated my next sentence and then plowed into the topic. “I met my new boss today.”

“Yeah? I bet he’s a wanker.”

“No, he’s not!” Anger burned through me. Which was pretty ridiculous since he meant himself. Damn it. Liam chuckled at my irritation. “He’s super professional. If it’s all the same to you. He caught me when I fainted.”

“Right. I bet he copped a feel.”

“You’re incorrigible.”

“Did anything else happen today?”

“No, it was a totally boring day.” I stretched out along the cushions. Wishing for his strong arms to hold me, I sighed at the fantasy. We could snuggle as we talked about the silly things we normally did. “Tomorrow is going to be super interesting though.”

“Do you fancy this new boss of yours?”

“Maybe I do.” My lip twitched up into a smile. “He’s quite the looker.”

“Ah, there it is. The wankers always are.”

“Says you! I’m sure he’s a perfect gentleman.”

“Wanker,” he repeated with a chuckle. “I’d bet my arse.”

“Maybe I’ll ask him tomorrow.” I giggled, unable to stop the mental picture of professional me asking Liam such a question. “I’ve told you about my day. How was yours?”

“Right. Well, I started my new job today. I’ve got a shiny new office.”

“I didn’t know you were starting today.” I would have if I hadn’t avoided him like the damn plague. “Did you meet anyone interesting?”

“Yeah. One of my employees passed out the minute she laid eyes on me. It did wonders for my ego.”

“In a good way or a bad way?” I sat up slowly and twirled a loose strand of hair around my finger.

“I’d imagine with a mug like mine, it was the latter.”

“You’re killing me tonight.”

“Only tonight, love?”

His tone worried me. The dodged phone calls. Hanging up on him during the video chat and then refusing to make time. Our conversation had been going along pretty well until my brain picked it all apart. I bet he wants to know what’s bugging me, but I can’t tell him yet.

Thirty-five seconds ticked by in utter silence.

“Well, I’ve got to go. I’ve got some things to do before bed tonight.”

“I thought we could talk about a few things in person.” His low tone sent chills up my spine.

“My phone is dying, I think.” I fished another excuse out of the big bowl of them in my head and tossed it to him.

“Right. I imagine you can’t find your charger either,” he sighed. “You can’t push me away, love. Even if you try.”

“I really did lose my charger. Oh, no! Now you’re fading out.” I made crackling noises in between the words. “Bad reception. Fading out.” He had the right to be annoyed. It was the first time in over two years where I’d refused to open up. We had a lot to get out on the table, but I wasn’t ready.

“Right. I love you.”

“I love you.” A huge pit formed in my stomach as I ended the call and then texted him. Goodnight.

He replied immediately. We’ll figure this all out even if it takes a while. Goodnight, love. Sweet dreams.

I texted back, You too, and then set my phone down on the coffee table. We would figure our situation out because the main issue was all of my hang-ups. He’d been the most wonderful man in all the roles he took on. I sighed and got off my couch. I didn’t have a lot to do before bed, but I’d wanted off the phone with Liam. I certainly wasn’t ready for him to come over here in person. No, he had the ability to get me to open up about all sorts of things even when I didn’t want to, so being face to face wasn’t an option.

Chapter Two

Lacey

“Lacey?” a husky voice with a thick Irish accent prompted. “You’ve been working on improving our social media presence, right?” Liam motioned toward a PowerPoint presentation projected on a large screen at the front of the room.

Startling, I yanked myself back into the meeting. Crap on a stick. He probably said my name more than once but I’d been lost in my daydream. A beautiful sunny afternoon spent curled up in Liam’s lap watching silly cartoon movies. His dazzling green eyes darkened as they glared in my direction. The mental images burst. Shit. I never get this distracted by anyone. “Yes.”

“Have you?”

Holy hell. His voice glided along my skin, and goosebumps flared all over my body. I imagined listening to him talk for hours. He could read me the damn telephone book, and I’d still be fascinated. Flustered by his piercing gaze, I fumbled with my notebook to find the points I’d jotted down earlier. “Uh, we haven’t considered broadening our current options. I wanted to propose a new platform. My team and I’d been thinking along the line of photos and hashtags to increase the reach and encourage crossover on other forums. As long as we keep the application for just healthcare.”

“We can consider a new platform in the future.” He cocked an eyebrow. “The current need is for you and your team to focus on an existing outlet.”

“Should I switch my priorities then?”

“Yeah. Don’t abandon the idea completely. Just shelve it for a bit.”

“Will do.” I nodded, but being wrapped up in his strong arms, the way he promised to hold me was the only thing on my mind. Obviously, we couldn’t cuddle in the meeting, but he was in my town. Or at least in driving distance. I didn’t allow us to go over details like which city he moved to since I canceled our last three web chats. One face-to-face session at our job spun me on my head.

The rest of the meeting ticked by, and I struggled to keep my attention on the details. My coworkers gathered their materials and trickled out of the room. I collected my own belongings, and then I crossed the room to exit.

“Lacey.” Liam held up a hand and beckoned me over. “May I have a moment?”

“Of course.” My teammates filed past me without a glance, except for two of the women. I didn’t get along with them on a good day so their disdain probably meant nothing. Milly, a tiny raven-haired snob with killer curves, and her trusty companion Rebecca—tall, thin, blonde, and perfectly proportioned. They didn’t have a stellar reputation for being friendly, but they were both team players as far as business matters. They lifted their noses as they brushed by, and I wondered what the hell the problem was. Are they jealous of Liam and me talking? He was my boss just as much as theirs.

Liam glanced over his notes, as he waited for the room to empty out. “Come here.”

I did as he’d directed, but I smelled the cool, crisp scent of his aftershave and extremely naughty thoughts flitted through my head. “What can I help you with?”

“Are you always so distracted or is there something else going on with you?” His tone was light, but it dripped with authority.

“I’m dealing with some personal things.” Pressing my thighs together, I willed them to keep my arousal at bay but I failed. I wanted to kiss him, among other inappropriate things.

“What can I do to help?”

I stared up at him, tears prickling behind my eyes, and cleared my throat twice. “Nothing. I won’t let it happen again.” I nodded curtly, then dismissed myself before the tears fell, but I didn’t make it out of the room. Liam dashed in front of me and placed his arm across the doorway, banning me from leaving.

“Lacey.” He leaned down until his lips brushed my ear. “Charge your phone when you get home and make sure you answer when I call.”

“Or?” I breathed out the tiniest challenge.

“Or?” His free hand skated along the curve of my hip. “I’ll test out the new soundproof capacity of my office. They’ve installed blinds too.”

“You’d risk our careers on something trivial and punish me at work?” I swallowed hard and hoped my face remained neutral.

“Ignoring my messages is disrespectful. Lying to me is disrespectful.” Liam straightened to his full height and then lowered his arm. “Neither of those are trivial to me.”

“I’m sorry, Sir. Yes, we do need to talk.” I sucked in a breath, furious at myself for breaking our rules and for losing my composure. “I’ll make time soon. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some things to wrap up,” I stated sincerely, and then rushed off.

I couldn’t stand near him for another moment without touching him. No, I needed to get far away. I didn’t think it was him being here at work, but the notion of him being here. Here in person. If I hadn’t been so withdrawn lately we could have met face to face before this. He was right. I’d been ignoring him, and lied multiple times by assuring him I was fine or telling him I was working late. Shit! I wouldn’t be able to use that excuse ever again.

I’d been holed up in a stall in the downstairs bathroom, half perched on a toilet, clothed, and near tears. There wasn’t as much traffic since it was so far away from most of the cubicles and I’d wanted as much privacy as possible before I attempted to walk through the parking lot. I reached for the handle to exit when the main door banged open.

“Did you see the way she blinked those big brown eyes at him?” an obnoxious voice stated and was followed with a shrill laugh. “I mean really!”

It sounded like Milly, though we didn’t interact via phone or in person much. Most of the time emails and instant messages kept the team in communication. Sometimes we didn’t even bother with full meetings but opened up an online session so we could work straight through a conference call without losing precious time.

“We all want a piece of that man. I don’t know why she thinks she has a chance,” another voice replied with a cool, clipped tone. Rebecca. I’d easily recognized her nasally voice.

“And that’s on top of the fainting episode,” Milly scoffed. “Like we are all to believe that wasn’t on purpose.”

“Plus, he caught her. I thought he was going to break his back,” Rebecca agreed saucily.

That comment was too much. I unbolted the door with meaning and then stepped out. The two women had the decency to look guilty, though not overly so.

“Didn’t your mothers ever teach you some fucking manners?” I snapped. It was mostly to scare away the tears that were threatening to fall. True, I shouldn’t have cursed, but I was too far gone.

“Didn’t your mother teach you how to put down a fork?” Milly, the shorter of the two arched a perfectly shaped eyebrow. Who had time to make themselves look that good?

It took the very little composure I had left not to slap her across the face. “I might not be the same size as you on the outside. That’s true, Milly. But you’re ugly on the inside, and that will never change.” I circled around her to the sink, washed my hands, then stormed out. To her credit, she didn’t bother with a retort. Milly was a miserable woman. I wouldn’t play into her nastiness anymore.

I arrived home in record time, considering all that happened at work, and shimmied out of my business casual outfit. My hair was up in a messy bun and I grabbed a wine cooler. I popped it open and took several large swigs. I still had to start laundry and dinner before Liam called. He promised, in no uncertain terms, consequences if I didn’t answer my phone. I searched all over the damn house for my damn charger, and finally located it. I’d finished my drink while I’d been wandering, and with my current mood, another drink was in order. Or two? Either way, the couch and my FlixFix television account would be my friends tonight. I padded back toward the kitchen when my cell phone perched on the edge of the couch rang. Shit! I raced to the fridge, grabbed another bottle, and then dashed back into the living room. I answered while forcing a smile. “Hello?”

“We’ve got some things to discuss.” Liam’s voice filtered through my phone without a greeting.

He was irritated at me. I hated that I’d disappointed him, but my mindset wasn’t open to listening to a lengthy discussion. “Add it to the long, long list.” Popping the top of the new bottle, I sank all the way down into the cushions and sighed.

“Listen, love, we need to get this out in the open.”

“Can we start this conversation over?” I pictured him looking up at the ceiling of his car, his headset blinking as he gathered patience.

“Right.” Several seconds of silence passed. “Tell me what’s really been on your mind.”

“You. You’ve been on my fucking mind!”

“Mind yourself.”

“No, I don’t think so. You asked me for an answer and I’m giving you one.”

“We can address your attitude in a moment. Why was I yanked into human resources with Milly and Rebecca this afternoon?”

“What did you say about HR? Those awful bitches!” I seethed. How dare they involve our human resources department? The two of them were hired only three years ago. I trumped in seniority on all sorts of levels. I was their fucking supervisor after all! Not their manager, I didn’t have hiring and firing power, but the acting head of our small department. “This is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Tell me what happened, love. The whole story.”

“I took care of what I needed to do, then escaped downstairs before driving home. I’m not far from the office, but I’ve been having a rough go.” My brain scoffed at my choice of words.

“You’ve been having a rough go? You sound like me,” he chuckled, but there was no amusement in his voice. “What did they say to you?”

“They insinuated my behavior has been wildly inappropriate.”

“Right. I don’t disagree. At least in regards to this incident.”

I took several swigs from the bottle in my hand. He totally meant for different reasons. “Rebecca marveled how the act of catching me, literally, when I passed out yesterday, didn’t break your back.” He sucked in a breath, and I imagined his brows were furrowed with irritation. Nothing got him more upset than negative comments about my body.

“What an inconsiderate swine. How did you reply?”

“I asked both of them if their mother ever taught them fucking manners. Cursing by itself is enough basis for a report, but then Milly said—” I choked up, overcome with the mental image of her perfect lips sneering at me. The blood in my veins felt like it turned to ice and a huge pit formed in my stomach. Not even the alcohol sloshing around could melt it. I took several large swallows from the bottle, then gathered the courage to tell him.

“I need to know the whole story, love.”

“She asked me if my mother ever taught me to put down a fork.”

“Ah, so that’s the piece they left out. Once the story tumbled out between their clumsy traps, they started to backpedal.”

Oh, hell, he sounded angry for me. I’d misunderstood his tone before. “Can you elaborate?” I tipped the bottle and took the last swallow. I eyed the fridge, then got to my feet and crossed to the kitchen.

“I can’t, actually. The best I can say is that it shouldn’t be an issue any longer. Tomorrow is mandated sensitivity training for everyone.”

“Sounds like a blast,” I scoffed, then traipsed back into the living room. My view tilted. Shit. I didn’t eat enough to soak up the alcohol. I managed to get back into the kitchen and scoured it for food. “So, we’ve talked about the fantastic-ness of today. Are you going to pick apart my attitude now?” A half of a bagel was all I could find so I tore off small chunks of it and ate.

“I’m not some bloke down the road. You’ve already been extremely disrespectful more than once.” He cleared his throat. “Mind yourself, love.”

“As I said, love,” I mocked, irritated at myself more than him, “add it to my ever-growing list of shit I’ve done this week.”

“Right. Well, I’d say you’ve done about enough for today. Go to bed. I want a picture on my phone in ten. Show me a clean face and be in your pajamas. Get me?”

His tone turned husky and he used his most dominant voice. It always turned my insides to mush, but today I wasn’t feeling it. “And if I don’t?”

“Hang on a minute.” He cursed under his breath. “Can you still hear me?”

“Yes, but I’m not sure I want to.”

“Do what I said or tomorrow you and I are going to have an up close and personal sort of meeting outside of work. Trust me when I say it won’t be to your liking.”

“Yes, Daddy.” His command pushed me into my little side for at least the moment. Using the title felt more intense this time. My belly flip-flopped at his words. He knew deep down I wanted to follow his orders and be a good girl. Why can’t I just open up? Was it because of the intense emotions coupled with his very real presence?

“Good. You’ve got only nine minutes now. Get to it.”

“But I hate going to bed by myself.” I sniffled, desperately trying to keep my emotions in check. “It’s scary at night, and then the scary nightmares keep me up.”

“You’re getting too much in your head. Given time I can help with all that, but tonight? Tonight you need to be under the sheets in less than eight minutes, right?”

“Yes,” I agreed. When Liam said right at the end of a sentence it wasn’t a question, just a prompt for the other person—me—to agree to an order. “Eight minutes.”

“We can talk about everything later. It’s bedtime,” he reminded as he blew a kiss through the phone. “I love you. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.” I blew several kisses back at him. “I love you.”

We hung up the phone, and I rushed off to do as he said. Except my stomach didn’t like the idea. I drank way too much too fast. It would take a miracle to be in bed by then.

I glanced at my phone. The time limit Liam had given me came and went several minutes ago. Shit. I grabbed a blanket and threw it over my head. I pouted and snapped a selfie then texted it to Liam. I hurried to the bathroom as fast as my body allowed, washed my face, and brushed my teeth. My phone chirped at me and I saw his text.

Get your arse in bed. Pic by the headboard.

I knew better. I took my bedtime photos near the intricate rug beater he bought and shipped to me from Ireland. It was gorgeous and hung over my headboard for a few reasons. It served as a reminder who I belonged to, and who equally belonged to me. It also reminded me of what Liam would do to my ass if I didn’t listen. I couldn’t swing the damn thing myself, but he could. It also proved I was actually in bed. I finished with my bathroom rituals, then shuffled up the hall and turned into my bedroom. I knelt on my pillow and snapped an actual photo, then I snuggled down into the covers. A minute later the phone dinged and I picked it up.

Better. Good thing you found your way to bed.

Sorry. Drank too much, ate too little. Not feeling well. I added a frowning face at the end. His reply came through a minute later.

Rest well. Feel better, love.

Tears pricked behind my eyes and fell down my cheeks. I hadn’t been listening very well at all.

Goodnight, I replied and added two hearts and kisses, then the letters ‘x’ and ‘o.’ The way I usually end my texts to him. I snuggled deeper and imagined how his arms would feel around me all night. Safe and protected. Liam held multiple places in my heart. Yes, he was my dominant but he had taken on other roles. We participated in ageplay where I regressed mentally to a younger mindset where his role was Daddy, in all the ways it could be implied. My little brain was around eight, maybe nine. Sometimes the age fluctuated, but my favorite dream was being held in his lap, snuggled under a blanket in front of a fire while watching movies about princesses and ponies. Nothing stressful. Nothing scary.

We never did anything sexual when I was little, or if Liam even suspected I was. Sometimes the lines blurred, mostly due to the two of us. It took a lot of freaking patience to be a daddy, and sometimes he wavered too. I was never punished when he lost his focus, but sometimes he’d have me stand in the corner or write lines in a notebook like, “I will not poke Daddy’s buttons.” Writing lines was one of my most hated tasks. It sounded easy but when he set the number at three hundred my hand felt like it would fall off and I wanted to push his buttons harder!

His punishments while I’d been in a younger headspace never included spankings; at least until he moved here, they didn’t. But I’ve realized that bratting in this particular dynamic might actually earn me a round over his knee. Ugh. As much as I tried to avoid trouble in my day to day, I was enamored with it when I was in my little mindset.

Liam was also my boyfriend but the label made me cringe except when other men hit on me. Then I’d happily tell them about my sexy Irish boyfriend. It occurred to me that I’d never thought about being out in public with Liam. Unless our company had an actual fraternization clause it wouldn’t be an issue but I’d have to check. Maybe it would be better to find another job. I stared up at the ceiling, chewing on my lip. That’s a stupid thought! I’d been at my job for a freaking decade, and I loved it there.

Tears rolled down my cheeks, and I didn’t brush them away. My brain played an awful game of the worst-case scenario while I tried to relax. I punched my pillow and turned over. Liam and I had been together for two years, which wasn’t a long time in the span of forever, but we’d work out all the bumps somehow.

Shut up, brain! I chided, sounding like a cartoon mouse I used to watch on television. Just let me sleep.

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