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Home / Samples / The Art of Discipline: Running Toward Trouble, Book Two of the Mockingbird Chronicles by Stardawn Cabot and Alexandra James – Sample

The Art of Discipline: Running Toward Trouble, Book Two of the Mockingbird Chronicles by Stardawn Cabot and Alexandra James – Sample

The Art of Discipline Running Toward Trouble, The Mockingbird Chronicles, Book Two by Stardawn Cabot and Alexandra James

Chapter One

Dani opened her eyes, only to groan as she saw the time. 3:30 a.m., it was always 3:30 a.m. It was early and technically she shouldn’t be out of bed, but then today her grounding was finally over. For the first time in a week, she was allowed to go for a morning run without worrying about Emma giving her a hard time about it. It felt good to be free again.

Smiling, she turned over on her side to study her partner. Emma was still sound asleep, her shoulder-length red hair splayed delicately over her pillow. She looked so sweet and innocent as she slept, somehow younger than her 30 years. Dani was four years Emma’s junior, but sometimes it didn’t feel that way. Emma was the one in charge, but lately it had been Dani doing the protecting.

It was a shame really, what they’d been through. Emma didn’t deserve to have a father like she did—a father who only used her for his own gain. He wasn’t any better than a bully trying to strongarm Emma into giving him money. He’d never been there for her when she was growing up; why should she be anything but indifferent to him now? Dani could only hope that after the last encounter with him, he’d take the hint and leave them alone.

Emma had surprised everyone, especially Patrick Sampson, when she’d attacked him in their bookstore. He had come into the store a few weeks ago and tried to rob them. His holding Dani at knife-point caused Emma to snap. She’d pelted him with book after book, until he finally gave up and took off. That was the last time they’d seen him. Emma had broken down after that. She’d been having nightmares again, and it was all Dani could do to try to make her feel safe as possible.

Of course that had led to her current predicament—getting seriously grounded for the first time since she was a teenager. In order to keep them both safe, Dani had bought a gun. Little did she know that Emma would take exception to it. Then again it wasn’t exactly the gun, but the series of events that followed that got her into trouble. Now, however, all that was in the past. She was again free and looking forward to moving on with her life with Emma.

Moving a little closer, Dani leaned in and gave Emma a kiss on the forehead. She didn’t mean to wake her, but wasn’t totally disappointed when Emma’s green eyes fluttered open.

“Dani? What’s going on? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. Go back to sleep, Emma. I didn’t mean to wake you.”

Emma gave Dani one of those looks. The kind that Dani knew meant that she was thinking, and usually meant nothing but trouble for Dani. Dani’s assumptions were only confirmed when Emma asked, “You’re not thinking about getting out of bed, are you?”

Dani put a hand to her chest in mock shock, her blue eyes twinkling in the moonlight. “Me?” she smiled, tucking a stray piece of hair behind her ear. “Come on, Emma, you know me better than that. Besides, I’m not grounded anymore. You can’t make me stay in bed.”

“Actually, I can,” Emma quipped. “What time is it anyway?” she continued, half sitting up and looking over Dani’s shoulder at the clock before groaning. “Seriously? Go back to sleep, Dani.”

“I don’t think I can,” Dani explained. “You go back to sleep. I think I might go for a run.”

“You’re not running anywhere at 3:37 in the morning.”

“But…”

“No, and that’s final,” Emma decided with a yawn. “It’s too early.”

Dani rolled back over on her back, looking at the ceiling. “But I’m not tired,” she whined.

“Alright,” Emma sighed. “I’ll give you one chance.”

“Oh?” Dani asked, looking back over toward Emma.

“If we’re both going to be up this early, you better make it worth my while,” she smiled. Dani’s eyes went wide, and then she echoed Emma’s grin. “And you say I’m the brat.” “You are,” Emma teased, before moaning as Dani moved and began to kiss her neck. “Total brat.”

It was then Dani’s turn to moan as Emma’s hands traveled to her chest. She felt Emma’s nimble fingers begin to undo her pajama buttons, and didn’t protest when Emma opened her top, completely exposing her already taut nipples. Dani then arched her back as Emma flicked one nipple with her finger and began drawing lazy circles around it while her tongue mirrored the actions on the other side.

Dani moaned again, deciding to take charge and really make this 3:30 wake-up call worth Emma’s while. Placing her hands on Emma’s shoulders, Dani easily rolled them over and straddled Emma’s hips. Pressing her lips to Emma’s, tongues battled for dominance until Emma finally allowed Dani’s to take control.

Feeling Emma’s hands trying to guide her head, Dani stopped kissing and smirked down at her partner before grabbing Emma’s wrists and laying them above her head. “Keep them there,” she directed before slowly removing Emma’s sleep shirt.

Taking her time, Dani’s tongue flicked down Emma’s neck to her collarbone, leaving small kisses and caresses in its wake as her right hand gently massaged Emma’s breast, her thumb teasing the nipple, causing Emma to moan and arch her back practically begging for more contact.

Smiling as she nibbled her way down Emma’s body, Dani finally stopped at Emma’s breasts, letting her tongue and lips once again establish her dominance. First the right and then the left, as Emma pressed herself ever closer and squirmed under the pressure of Dani’s body as she hungrily tried to initiate more contact.

Feeling Emma’s hands on her head, Dani stopped both her tongue and hands, giving Emma a look. Smiling slightly when Emma returned her hands to above her head, Dani whispered, “Good girl,” and then continued kissing her way down Emma’s body, stopping at the thin fabric of Emma’s panties.

Placing a kiss over the center of the panties, Dani paused as Emma whimpered something. “What was that, Emma?” Dani asked as her thumbs hooked into the waistband of the panties.

“More, Dani, please,” Emma moaned.

“More what?” Dani teased, removing the panties and blowing gently on the sparse curls in front of her. “More of this?” she asked, placing a finger along Emma’s slippery entrance, “or perhaps more of this?” Dani queried as she kissed Emma’s bikini line.

“Tell me what you want, Emma.” Dani’s voice was husky and she finally removed her own pajama top. Now naked from the waist up, she straddled Emma once more. Moving her hands to her own breasts, Dani played with them for a few moments as Emma watched.

Bending down, Dani kissed Emma fully, allowing skin-to-skin contact, which caused both women to flush and moan. “Tell. Me. What. You. Want,” Dani ordered quietly.

“Inside,” Emma finally whispered hoarsely. “God, I need you inside me.”

Deciding the teasing had gone on long enough, Dani kissed Emma’s lips and moved back down her body. She continued kissing until she reached Emma’s bundle of nerves above her entrance before inserting first one, and then two fingers. Using her tongue to flick Emma’s clit, Dani slid a third finger inside and began to suck on Emma in the same rhythm her fingers were beating to. The movement was quick and soon her partner began to arch and gasp for air.

Hearing her name being said in Emma’s moment of bliss, Dani sped up her tongue, lips, and fingers and rode out Emma’s waves of contractions before finally slowing down and allowing Emma to relax enough so that she could slowly remove her fingers. Giving Emma’s now sensitive nub a final, gentle kiss, Dani moved back up to Emma’s side and laid next to her.

Rubbing lazy patterns with her hand on Emma’s body, Dani finally spoke. “Was that worth it, Emma?”

“Worth what?” Emma responded, clearly in a haze.

“Your while,” Dani returned, kissing her lover gently and gathering Emma in her arms as both women enjoyed the closeness.

* * *

“Dani, stop that right this instant,” Emma hissed as her taller partner’s fingers once more tried to tickle her from behind as they walked through the bedding department at the mall.

“But I’m free, Emma. Aren’t you excited? I once again am allowed to mingle with the outside world,” Dani proclaimed, her blue eyes dancing with delight as they stopped at an end cap.

“If you don’t calm down, all you’re going to be mingling with is that bench outside the store while I make this purchase alone,” Emma responded, continuing to walk down the aisle looking for the perfect bedroom set.

“Come on, Emma, you’re no fun.” Dani suddenly stopped and grinned. “Besides, I think I found it.”

Emma turned and looked at the set Dani was smiling about. “Oh no, Dani, leather does not belong in the bedroom.”

“Why not?”

“It chafes, keep looking.”

“Come on, Emma, it could be fun,” Dani encouraged.

Emma turned, focusing her green eyes on Dani’s blue. “On second thought, you’re right, Dani, leather can be fun in the bedroom. In fact, I can always use that little leather paddle I have in the box in the closet…”

Dani backed up, putting her hands out and shaking her head. “No, no, that’s alright. You’re right; leather has no place in the bedroom. I’ll keep looking.”

Nodding smugly, Emma took Dani’s hand and dragged her down another aisle before suddenly stopping once again. “What do you think of this one?” Emma asked, pointing to a sage-green sheet set trimmed in tan along with the matching comforter that was backed with a soft brown.

Reaching down, Dani felt the comforter and the sheets. “They’re really soft and I like the colors. I think we found our set.”

“Great, now we just have to find the right size,” Emma seconded, looking up the stacks. Dani scanned the shelf for a moment, using her height to her advantage, and pulled a set off the top shelf. Watching as Emma slipped another set of sheets in a pale yellow into the cart, Dani grinned. Finally they could head to dinner. She was starving.

Once they reached the cash register, however, Dani grumbled at the length of the line. “You’d think they’d have more than one cashier for a store this big.”

Emma looked at her watch. “It’s probably shift change and dinner break now.”

“Yeah, probably,” Dani answered, feeling her stomach grumble. Opening her purse, she removed a candy bar, quickly opening it and taking a large bite. “Want some?” she asked.

“No, and I don’t want you eating it either. As soon as we are done here, we’re going to get some dinner,” Emma whispered.

“It’s an appetizer, Emma,” Dani protested. “I’ll still eat my dinner.”

“I know you will because that is going back into your purse, and I’d also like to know where you got this, Danielle, since you’ve been grounded for the past week.”

“Fine.” Dani’s eyebrow raised and she took another large bite, effectively cutting the candy bar in half before trying to shove it back into her purse. “And I got it from my purse; it’s been in there for a while. In case of emergencies, and this is certainly an emergency.”

Emma grabbed Dani’s wrist as Dani reluctantly pulled the candy back out of her purse before handing it over.

Shaking her head, Emma pushed her cart to the side before taking Dani’s hand. “Come with me,” Emma directed, quickly escorting Dani to the bench in the front of the store. Taking a deep breath and surprising Dani, Emma also sat. Turning to Dani and taking her hands before meeting her blue eyes, she asked, “Do you understand why I brought you out here?”

“Attitude?” Dani asked, her voice wavering as she suddenly felt not so grown up.

“Yes, and I really want to know where you got the candy. Did you order candy when you got that box of toys last week?”

“No,” Dani shifted. She’d almost forgotten about the box of toys that they had put in the study closet. For some reason they’d been important to her at the time, but now she wondered why she’d fought to keep them. Realizing that Emma was still waiting, she risked a look up, only to find herself trapped in emerald-green ice. “I had it, like I said, for emergencies,” she further defended.

“How many more candy bars do you have hidden?”

“A few,” Dani reluctantly admitted.

“I see,” Emma frowned. “We talked about this in Chicago, but I can see we need to talk about this more later. For now though, I want you to sit here and think not only about the attitude, but why you are hiding candy as well, understand?”

Dani’s eyes were finally able to break free as she sought out the floor. “I understand.”

“Good,” Emma replied, before giving Dani a gentle kiss on the cheek. “I’ll be back soon. I expect to find you right here when I do.”

“Yes, Emma,” Dani replied with a frown. In a way she was mortified—left in timeout like a child, but in another way she was just confused. She knew that Emma didn’t like the fact that she’d had so much junk food in her condo back in Chicago. Emma had been watching her here in Fort Strymon, but that had only make Dani nervous. She didn’t mean to hide things, it just sort of happened. They’d been working on it, and although she was supposed to be honest with Emma, that was easier said than done.

Realizing that Emma hadn’t given her much choice, Dani decided that she didn’t want to think about it. Instead, she sat back and watched the people around her. After a while she flipped open her cell and sighed. She’d been sitting for fifteen minutes and Emma had yet to return. She craned her neck, trying to get a peek at how far Emma had progressed in line, when she suddenly caught something peculiar out of the corner of her eye. Squinting, she could just make out a man standing behind a display of pillows. He seemed to be taking pictures with his phone. As the man turned toward her, however, her blood went cold as she recognized him. It was none other than Emma’s father, Patrick Sampson.

She stood and started in his direction, but he saw her coming and disappeared down an aisle. She followed, dodging through the crowded store until she managed to corner him near the baking goods section.

“What the hell are you doing here, Sampson? And why are you taking pictures of Emma?” Dani demanded once she knew she had him.

“Can’t a father have a few pictures of his little girl?” he smirked. “Besides, she’s not the only one I have pictures of. Seems you and my daughter are quite an item, Ms. Ryan. Who would have thought?”

“What do you want?” Dani seethed, curling her fists into balls.

“I’m sure Emma told you. I just need my 50k, and I’ll be out of your hair,” Sampson replied as he managed to slip around the other side of a display of placemats.

Dodging around to the opposite side, Dani managed to stop him once again. “Give me the phone,” she demanded.

“Move,” he returned. “I don’t want to hurt you… yet.”

Blue eyes flashed. “What is that supposed to mean?”

Sampson didn’t answer, but lunged, managing to push Dani to the side long enough to scoot by her. He was almost successful, but Dani reacted out of instinct and twisted. She grabbed his arm and forced him to fall into a rack of pots. The resounding crash was deafening, as was the string of curses that Sampson let out.

Undaunted by the noise, Dani’s eyes traveled to the floor; somehow in the fall, Sampson had dropped his phone. She immediately made a grab for it. Sampson also moved toward it, but was hindered by the pile of pots and lids. Dani got to it first and held up her prize with a victorious smirk.

“Give me that!” he demanded, reaching for the phone, his green eyes flashing dangerously.

“You want it? Go and get it,” Dani announced before tossing the phone across the aisle and into a large garden fountain. “Aw…too bad phones aren’t waterproof,” she sneered as it sank into the base of the fountain.

“You bitch,” he shrieked as he grabbed for her.

Dani ducked, but pulled back and managed to make a solid connection of her fist with his nose.

His hands immediately went to his face. “You… you broke my nose,” he cried.

“You need to crawl back under the rock you came from, Sampson,” she hissed, advancing on him. “You need to leave Emma alone. There will be no money, and if I ever see your sorry ass again, I’ll make sure you rot in prison for the rest of your life.”

“Danielle!”

Dani suddenly froze at the sound of her name. She turned to flashing green eyes; Emma was just one of a large group of people who had gathered around them. Dani stammered for a moment, not sure what to say, but suddenly was pushed aside as Sampson made a break for it.

As she made a move to follow, Emma caught her arm. “Danielle, stop!” she ordered. “He’s already gone.”

Dani glared at her, but obeyed, as the store manager descended on the crowd and tried to put some order to the chaos.

* * *

Dani shifted in the bedroom corner as Emma continued to pace behind her. “I can’t believe you didn’t just call the police, Danielle. He could have been caught and maybe be in jail by now.”

“He would have been gone before they even got there. I had to do something.”

Emma stopped pacing and turned Dani to face her. “You’re right, you were supposed to keep your butt on that bench until I came out. That’s the only thing you had to do.” Emma began pacing again. “You should have called the police, not tried to play hero.”

“I couldn’t let him bother you again,” Dani began. “He was taking pictures of you, for Christ’s sake. I wanted him to know that Uncle Sean may not be here, but I am; it’s my job to protect you, Emma.”

Emma stopped pacing once more before grabbing Dani by the arm and giving her a swat to her backside hard enough to make her own hand sting. “And who gave you that job, Danielle Ryan? Just who decided that you needed to step up and do something so… so…”

Dani stepped forward and took Emma into her arms, slowly sliding them both down the wall as Emma began to sob. Sitting on the floor, Dani pulled the smaller woman into her lap and began to rock her as Emma broke down.

“Damn it, Dani, you don’t know… you just don’t know. He’s dangerous… he’s, he’s…”

“He’s what? Tell me, Emma, let me help you.”

“Just promise me. Promise me you won’t ever confront him again,” Emma continued to sob.

“Alright, I promise. Next time I’ll call the police, I promise.” Those words seemed to help Emma calm and Dani continued to rock her and kiss the top of her head. “It’ll be okay, Emma, I promise,” she whispered as Emma sniffled.

Looking up at Dani, Emma once again placed her head under Dani’s chin, snuggling into the safety of her arms. “When I saw you standing over him like that…” Emma shuddered. “All I could think about was what if he pulls out a gun or a knife. I can’t lose you, Dani.”

Dani hugged Emma tighter. “I’m not going anywhere, Emma. I love you and I promise that I’m not going anywhere.”

* * *

Dani was unsuccessfully trying to rub the sting out of her backside. It had been a long day, and Emma had reached her breaking point. The confrontation with Sampson had really upset her, and then discovering that Dani had been hoarding junk food was the just proverbial icing on the cake. When Dani decided to add the attitude to the mix, Emma declared that she had enough, and had made her point clear with a not-so-gentle reminder from the hairbrush.

The spanking had been painful, but not really surprising. Dani had given herself over to Emma months ago and had accepted Emma’s dominance in their relationship. Emma was in control, and Dani accepted and even welcomed the stability that Emma offered her with it. Emma provided rules that were easy for Dani to live by. There were both consequences and rewards, and Dani embraced it all.

Before they met, Dani had no order in her life. She lived day to day, eating nothing but junk food and guzzling gallons of diet soda. She knew that wasn’t good for her. Nor were the endless hours she kept as owner of Ryan’s Events, her party planning business.

She used both the food and the business to hide. She used them as a shield to keep the world from knowing the real Danielle Ryan. The business was enormously successful, as she was the go-to gal for any of the rich, famous, and sometimes infamous of Chicago, but it was all for show. Emma was the first one in a long time to see through all that and discover the real Dani. Because of that, Dani knew she needed Emma like she needed air, but she also had her moments where she wished she could go back to hiding.

One of those moments was happening now, as Dani was making a pathetic attempt to get even for her smarting backside by glaring at Emma as she went through all her drawers, bags, boxes, and other personal effects. So far, Emma had managed to find every secret stash of candy, chips, and junk food that she’d smuggled into the apartment.

Feeling a weight on the bed, Dani slowly raised herself up and leaned back on her elbows. “I can’t believe you went through all my stuff.”

Emma sat on the bed and glared at her. “I can’t believe you had candy and chips stuffed inside your suit pockets and briefcase. Not to mention the things I found in those otherwise empty shoeboxes.”

“Those are emergency provisions,” Dani protested.

“These are contraband, Danielle. I thought we agreed that you wouldn’t hide things from me. It doesn’t bother me that you have them, just that you’re not being honest. That’s wrong, and they have earned you yet another consequence for your actions.”

“You’re really getting on my nerves, Emma,” Dani huffed.

Emma came forward, stopping so that she was nose to nose with Dani. “And you, young lady, are about to see what happens when my nerves are stepped on.”

Dani rolled her eyes. “Like I’m really scared.”

Emma narrowed her eyes. “Perhaps your backside isn’t sore enough?”

Dani snorted. “Really, you’re going to spank me again?”

Emma studied her for a moment, before suddenly pulling back. “You know, no, I’m not. Not tonight, and not for this.”

“Tomorrow?” Dani asked, her voice wavering slightly.

Emma sighed before looking at the clock, and then grabbed the bags containing Dani’s hidden food. “Come on, Dani, I’m hungry and I bet you are too. We can finish our conversation after dinner.”

Feeling uneasy at Emma’s sudden change in mood, Dani slowly stood and followed her to the kitchen. Sitting down gingerly, she waited while Emma pulled items out of the refrigerator, and then shifted nervously as Emma placed a glass of water in front of her along with a small plate. “What is this?”

“Your dinner,” Emma responded, taking a bite of her pasta salad.

“But it’s a candy bar and a bag of chips.”

“It is. I figured if you felt the need to hide so many of them, then you really must need them, bon appetit.”

Dani looked at her plate again and then over to Emma’s. “What are you having?”

“Leftover chicken and pasta salad,” Emma answered, holding back her smile.

“Oh,” Dani still looked confused, but the candy bar on the plate was calling her name. She opened it and took a large bite, savoring the chocolatey goodness inside. Her second bite was every bit as tasty, but her eyes wandered to Emma’s plate. That pasta salad looked good too. Emma had even put bits of pepperoni in it for her. After the third bite, she put the remaining bar back onto her plate.

Maybe the chips would be better; after all, they were extra cheddar, her favorite. Pulling the bag open, she popped one in her mouth. It tasted dull, and the nacho party her tongue was supposed to be having just wasn’t happening tonight.

“What’s the matter?” Emma asked.

“Ah, nothing, guess I’m just not as hungry as I thought. Can I be excused?”

“Sure, honey. I think it’s time you get ready for bed anyway. I’ll be in shortly.”

“Do you want me to wait in the corner?”

Emma shook her head. “No, I already told you I’m not going to spank you tonight, but I do want to talk to you. So, go ahead and get ready.”

* * *

Dani’s face fell and Emma almost felt sorry for her as Dani dragged herself down the hallway. She had never seen Dani so disappointed at not being sent to the corner. Waiting until she knew Dani had reached the bedroom, she grabbed her keys and quietly slipped out the front door. She had something specific in mind for Dani, but needed to go down to the store, their store, to get it.

It seemed like a lifetime ago, but it had only been a few months since Dani had entered her life. Sean, her boss, her friend, and her honorary ‘uncle’ had passed from a sudden heart attack. He’d left his bookstore to both Emma and his niece, Dani, asking Emma to watch over them both.

Dani had been difficult from the beginning. Emma immediately saw her as a spoiled, rich brat who thought she was better than everyone else, but she had quickly learned that Dani’s behavior was a façade. Dani only used that image to keep people at bay. Once Emma saw her for the frightened little girl that was really deep inside, however, everything changed. Emma had not only become Dani’s friend, but her lover, and at times her disciplinarian. That frightened little girl needed guidance, and Emma loved her enough to make sure she received it.

This was one of those times. Dani was pushing her. She was looking for a reaction, and so far Emma had disappointed her. Emma had made her feel vulnerable, taking away her hidden comforts, but they both knew that it wasn’t healthy for Dani to return to her old habits. That was about to change. There were ways to get Dani to reflect on her behavior other than a trip over Emma’s knee, and it was about time Emma expanded Dani’s understanding.

Making her way down the back stairs, Emma was again thankful that she and Dani lived in one of the two upstairs apartments. It was convenient, especially at times like this where Emma needed something special. Making her selection quickly, she grabbed a paper sack from under the counter to hide her gift before making her way back up to the apartment.

As Emma reentered the apartment, she dropped her keys and headed straight to the bedroom, only to find Dani in pajamas curled up on the bed. She was facing away from her, and Emma couldn’t help but smile at how cute she was in her pink cartoon-kitty pajamas.

The outfit brought back memories. Emma had purchased it for Dani to use when she was being punished and it was childish on purpose, but sometimes Dani wore it voluntarily. This was one of those times, when Dani was feeling like a little girl and used the pajamas as an indication of that.

Crossing the room, she laid her bag on the nightstand and put her hand on Dani’s shoulder. “Hey you didn’t fall asleep on me already, did you?” she teased.

Dani rolled over. “No,” she sniffled. “I’m sorry, Emma.”

“Hey now, why the tears?” Emma asked, running the back of her fingers down Dani’s cheek.

“I heard the door, I thought you left,” Dani sniffled again.

“I did, for a minute. I had to run down to the store. I have a present for you.”

Dani wrinkled her brow in confusion. “But I don’t deserve a present.”

“Well, that’s too bad, cuz I got one for you anyway,” Emma grinned as she handed the bag to Dani.

Dani shifted so that she was sitting up. Taking the bag, she opened it and pulled out a novel-sized, leather-bound journal. Flipping through it, she noted the pages were blank. “I don’t understand. Are you going to spank me with it?”

Emma threw her head back and laughed. “No, where would you ever get that idea?” Fingering the journal, Emma shook her head; the thought would have never occurred to her, but perhaps there was a possibility there. After all, it was made of leather.

“Stevie… Anna, never mind,” Dani blushed slightly, thinking of their two employees and their sometimes playful antics inside the store. “It’s very nice though, thank you, Emma.”

“I don’t know if you should be thanking me yet. There is a reason why I picked up that journal for you. I’m giving you a little assignment.”

“Assignment?”

“Uh-huh. What I want you to do is create a food journal. What that means is I want to you write down everything you eat every day.”

“But you know what I eat, you feed me…” Dani started to argue.

“Obviously I don’t, Danielle.”

Dani shifted. “Oh.”

“Here is how it’s going to work. As long as you are honest and record things accurately, you will not be punished for anything you write in this book. You will show me the book anytime I request it, and we will talk about it from time to time. Do you understand?”

“I think so, but what if I’m not honest? What if I don’t write something down?”

“There are two ways this book can get you into trouble, Danielle. One, if you lie about writing or not writing something down, and two, if you fail to write anything down at all. Obviously if I see blank pages, I can assess that, but only you know if you are lying to yourself, and by extension to me. If that happens, I expect you to tell me, and then ask me to punish you for it.”

Dani blinked, her face growing pale. “You want me to ask for punishment, like ask you to spank me? I don’t know if I can do that.”

“Well then, I suggest that you don’t lie,” Emma replied evenly.

Dani chewed her lip for a moment. “So, even if, say I eat six candy bars, as long as I write it down I can’t be punished for it?”

“No,” Emma smiled. “It’s my hope, Dani, that this will help you so you don’t need to hide food. I’m going to clear out a cupboard in the kitchen to put all your junk food in. I expect that you use that instead of your sock drawer from now on.”

“You’re not going to throw it away?”

“No, I’m not.”

Dani smiled. “Is it okay if I start tonight?”

Emma couldn’t help but return the smile. “Sure, but then straight to bed. You still owe me the early bedtime from this afternoon.”

“Okay, Emma,” Dani replied as she bent forward and kissed Emma on the cheek. “Love you.”

“Love you too. I’m going to give you a few minutes while I go clean up the kitchen, then I’ll be back to tuck you in, okay?”

Dani nodded, already digging through the nightstand drawer for a pen.

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