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The Winter Storm: An Ever After Chronicle by Renee Rose, Casey McKay, and Katherine Deane – Sample

The Winter Storm (Ever After) by Renee Rose, Casey McKay, and Katherine Deane

Chapter One

“Why do we have to go to a stupid matchmaker, anyway?” Jillian pouted and kicked a chunk of ice into the nearest snowdrift.

“Because, dear sister,” Jake said, giving her a firm look as he pulled his pack off the back of their horse. “You are 22 years old, an old maid by village standards,” he smirked, “and we’re almost out of money.”

Their village still ascribed to the old ways—arranged marriages, women marrying young and making babies, low technology, though she had heard of the new technology and dress some wore and used in other villages. She felt so stifled. And the men did nothing for her. If only she could have been born in a different village that would allow her to live her life as she wanted. Or better yet, if only she had been born a man. She sighed and kicked another ice chunk out of the way.

Jake softened when he saw her trembling lip. “I’m sorry, Jillybean, but this is how it has to be. There’s not much left from mother’s inheritance, and we need it to get to town, pay the matchmaker, and pay for your dowry.”

“I don’t see why we couldn’t have saved our money and found mates in our own village,” she said and set her pack down in the snow.

Jake laughed and threw a snowball at her, hitting her square in the back. “You threatened to burn the last guy’s house down, brat.”

She knelt to scoop the firmly packed snow into her hands and spit into it, watching as it hardened. “I wouldn’t have married him for all the gold in the kingdom.”

“He was the richest lord in the entire area,” Jake grumbled and turned back to his task of starting a campfire.

“He was a pig!” She released the ice ball in a satisfying arc watching as it flew through the air three feet from his head.

Jake chuckled. “You never did have a good arm. But I’ll give you credit. You’re getting closer.”

Grr, the man was infuriating! Why did he get to make the decisions about where she lived and whom she married? Just because he was one year older and male. She stomped her foot into a large drift and pretended it was his head.

“Well, it’s not like you had any better luck with the women, dear brother,” she grumbled. “At least I didn’t threaten the Mayor’s daughter with a, what did you call it again? Oh, yes,” she smirked, “a sound thrashing.”

“It wasn’t a threat.” Jake’s eyes darkened. “She was a brat. Just like someone else I know.”

“Whatever,” she said, rolling her eyes as she fed their tired horse the last of the hay. Banbury snorted and nuzzled her hand, as if thanking her. At least she could find comfort in the beautiful white stallion.

“All right, kiddo. It’s time to get to work. We need to get a fire started and some water for dinner.” He ruffled her hair from behind. “There’s a well right up at the top of that hill.” He pointed to the large snow covered hill behind them.

Good lord, the thing had to be 100 feet high! Seriously, who put a well that far off the ground? She grumbled to herself and pretended not to hear him.

He easily pulled her to her feet and swatted her backside, ignoring her glare.

“I don’t want to climb that thing! I’ll get all wet. What if I fall? The bucket will be heavy.” She went through every excuse she could think of.

“Banbury is exhausted and needs to rest. I need to get this fire going and get our shelter up. Someone needs to get water so we can make our dinner. It’s going to be nightfall soon, and I don’t want to be stuck out here without fire, water, or shelter. So what’s it going to be?”

“You do it,” she said irritably. “I have been on my feet all day on this stupid trip that I did not agree to go on, with lousy company—except you, Banbury.” She stroked the horse and smiled. She turned to her brother with her hands defiantly on her hips. “You can’t make me.”

He sighed and blew the hair off his forehead, a sure sign of his frustration.

“One of these days, Jilly, I’m going to…”

“You’re going to what?” She challenged his gaze firmly.

“Never mind!” He turned and stalked toward the hill, bucket in hand. “Finish getting the fire started, all right?” he said crossly.

“What about Banbury?” she called after her angry brother.

“Let him rest! He’s had a long day too and we need him fresh for the next leg of the journey,” he yelled back over his shoulder.

She sat down, not feeling victorious over her little win. Why she kept pushing him, she had no idea. But the more he backed down, the angrier it made her.

She poured her frustration into lighting the fire. Unfortunately, the matches were wet and the kindling wouldn’t light. She hated making the fire. It hurt her fingers and rubbed them raw. She threw everything down in anger.

“Come on, Jillian. Don’t give up!” Jake called from the top of the hill. “We need the fire. Keep trying!”

“I am!” she shouted back, angrily. There was no way he could see her from that far away. How did he always seem to know what she was doing or thinking? The man seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to her. Although they were eleven months apart, most people thought they were twins.

She saw him start back down the slippery slope with the bucket in his hands and hurried to finish her task. She was not in the mood for another lecture.

After another minute of trying, she finally got a flame. She blew on it excitedly and the flame rose higher, burning her fingers. She yelped, dropped the burning branch into the snow, and dove for a handful of snow to soothe her poor fingertips.

She heard Jake roaring with laughter as he continued down the hill.

“Shut! Up!” She grabbed another ball of ice and flung it toward him with all her might.

“Not even close,” he chuckled when the projectile hit the base of the hill more than 25 feet below him.

His look of amusement quickly changed to fear when the path of snow and ice below him suddenly gave way, tossing him head over heels down the hill.

“Jake!” she shrieked and watched as he rolled and tumbled and bounced, landing with a sickening thud at the base of the hill.

* * *

He heard the screams and spurred his horse to go faster. He rounded the final snow bend and saw the three wolves circling closer to their prey. A woman stood defiantly, trying to protect the prone form on the ground from the advancing wolves. Her emerald eyes shone with fear as she struggled to maneuver the heavy sword. He jumped off his horse and ran toward them, forcing himself to remain calm. The wolves saw him and turned their backs to the scared, angry young woman, baring their sharp teeth as he advanced.

“Go!” he commanded. “This is no meal for you.”

The pack leader growled and crept forward. He tensed, flashing his golden amber eyes at the leader and growled. This was a fight he intended to win. The leader stopped its movement and cocked its head, sniffing the air. It must have realized its foe was more dangerous than he looked. It barked at the remaining pack and with one final snarl, charged into the woods in search of other, easier prey.

The young woman watched him cautiously, her green eyes widening as he strode toward them.

“Don’t come any closer!” She held the sword higher, trying not to falter under its weight.

He tried not to laugh. “Do you even know how to use that thing? It weighs more than you do.”

“Pointy end goes in the heart! Now go away!” She used both her hands to point at his advancing chest.

He looked down at the young man lying in a crumpled heap in the bank of snow, his pack next to him. A pool of blood stained the white snow around his head. “He needs help. If he stays out here, he will die from hypothermia or head injury.”

He knelt down and assessed the young man’s injuries. No broken bones. He carefully picked up his head and wrapped his scarf around the injury. “How’d your husband get hurt?”

“Um, my brother, not husband. He kinda accidentally fell down the hill.” She faltered and dropped the sword.

“Kinda. Accidentally?” He raised an eyebrow and met her gaze fully.

The petite, pixie-like brunette flushed. “I, um, threw a snowball at him, and he fell.”

“What?”

“I didn’t mean to hurt him. It was an accident.”

“Where’s your horse?” he asked, after seeing the hay and bridle on the ground.

“He ran off when the wolves came. I’m going to keep looking for him.” She started toward the direction she had just pointed.

“Wait.”

His command stopped her movements and she turned to glare at him. “I don’t know how you think—”

He held his finger up, silencing her with a stern look. “We don’t have time for this. Your brother needs medical attention. We need to get him back to my place.” He stood up and called his horse to him.

She leapt for the sword and swung it at him, her green eyes sparkling defiantly. “We are not going anywhere with you! I don’t trust you not to try to steal all our belongings and kill us.”

He rolled his eyes. They didn’t have time for this. And this little pipsqueak of a woman was getting on his nerves. “The next town is over 20 miles away, and there is a huge storm blowing in.” He looked up at the quickly darkening sky. “My place is only a few miles down the road. Besides, if I wanted you dead, I would have left you for the wolves.”

“Well, maybe you want to have your way with me.” She frowned.

“Not likely,” he scoffed. “I like my women with more curves.”

Her eyes flashed as she let out an indignant squeak.

He turned his back to her and started to remove the saddle from his horse. He would put the little minx’s brother on the horse, strap him down, and try to keep him from falling off. He picked the young man up in his arms and strode toward the horse.

“I have a better idea.” The young woman pressed the sword against his back.

He stilled.

She poked it a few times gently into his back without breaking any skin. “I am going to take your horse and head to the town. It’s only a few miles for you. You can walk home.”

“Listen, you little ungrateful brat,” he turned and glared at her, “I am trying to help you. You will not be able to make it to the town before the storm hits. Besides that fact, this is my horse. You don’t take things that don’t belong to you.”

“Too bad! Now stop your fussing and put my brother on the horse.” She glared up at him defiantly.

“Little girl, you better put that damn sword down before you find yourself upended over my knee.”

He sensed her movement before she swiped the sword across his arm, and he saw two drops of blood form through the cut in his shirt. He knelt and placed the injured man on top of his coat, then set the pack on the ground.

“You’re going to regret that,” he growled and watched her eyes widen in fear as he snatched the sword away from her easily and pulled her to him.

“Don’t hurt me!” she shrieked.

He sat down on the pack and yanked her over his lap. “Oh, there won’t be any permanent damage, but this is going to hurt. You’re going to get a damn good spanking. That’s how we deal with little girls who act too big for their britches where I come from,” he growled. Before she had a chance to reply, he lit into her backside.

“Ow, ouch! Stop!” She flailed her arms and legs.

He gave her another hard swat. “Stop the drama. You can barely feel my hand through all these layers.” He pulled up her dress and her petticoat and inspected her panty covered bottom, barely pink from his quick warm up. He would change that quickly.

“You can’t do this! I might get hypothermia!” she squealed and placed her hands across her bottom.

He chuckled and held her hands to her back, “Well then, we’ll just have to get you warmed up, won’t we?” He brought his hand down on the back of her panties again and again as she hollered and cursed.

“You are a big bully and a son of a bitch!”

He placed his hand against her warm bottom. “What. Did. You. Say. About. My. Mother?”

She tried to scramble away from him. “I’m sorry. I lost my temper. I didn’t mean… ooof!”

He tipped her over farther, yanked her panties down, and brought his palm crashing onto her bare bottom.

“Yeow!” she shrieked.

He made sure to leave no portion of her bottom untouched over the next two minutes. When he had finished, she lay sobbing in a heap over his lap. All the fight had gone out of her, and her bottom looked scorched and red. He could feel the heat rising from her backside.

The first snowflake reminded him of their location. Crap! He pulled her to her feet and yanked her panties up and her skirt down. She whimpered at his rough treatment, but he made no move to apologize. The storm was moving in fast.

“We have to get back to my place before this blizzard hits,” he growled. “Even I have a tough time tracking in this weather.”

She nodded her head, wiped her tears away, and moved to grab the packs.

“Hey, wait.” He took her stiff form into his arms. “I forgive you. It’s over, okay?” He felt her melt into his arms and cry, and he was torn between the desire to comfort her and the more pressing need to get them all to safety. He kissed her forehead, patted her bottom, and gave her a gentle shove towards the packs. “You get the gear. I’ll get your brother.”

They got moving quickly, just as the flurries started.

* * *

Jillian couldn’t believe that big… animal had spanked her. No, she sighed, she deserved it. He had saved Jake and her from wolves and had even offered to take them back to his place to give him medical attention. Cutting him and threatening him was definitely not the right way to thank him. She would make it up to him, somehow.

She looked at the large, brooding man, his face furrowed in thought. Was he angry about something? Or was her brother getting heavy? They had realized pretty quickly that the unconscious man was not going to stay on the horse, so Bertram decided to carry him. Her bottom ached as she bounced on top of his horse. The hard saddle was not something she was accustomed to using as she usually rode Banbury bareback.

“How much farther?” she whined, regretting it when he gave her that look.

“It will take longer if we have to stop and warm up your bottom again.” He raised his eyebrow.

She couldn’t stop the heat that crept to her cheeks. The memory of being over his lap did weird things to her tummy. “So, Bertram, what do you do for a living?”

“I own a specialty shop and lodge. You’ll find it interesting, I’m sure.”

He must have misread her surprise as fear because he continued, “You and your brother will be safe, I assure you.”

“I wasn’t worried,” she scoffed and looked nervously at his large hands. They might be safe, but would her bottom?

He grunted and shifted Jake in his arms. “So, where were you two heading before your unfortunate… ahem, accident?”

“We were going to Grimmberg to meet the matchmaker.” She looked at the ground and mumbled. “Neither of us has had much luck finding mates in our village, so a friend suggested the matchmaker.

“Interesting,” he nodded. “Why?”

“Why what?” she asked, confused.

“Why do you have problems finding suitable mates? You’re a halfway decent-looking woman.”

She rolled her eyes at him and grumbled. “Thanks. Honestly, Jake says I’m too, um, temperamental.”

“High maintenance? Feisty? Often in need of a good long spanking?” He chuckled at her shocked gasp. “I can see that. You need to find the right man. Seems to me you need a man as strong willed as you are.”

A man like Bertram? She clenched the saddle tighter between her legs, remembering exactly what his strength had felt like on her bare bottom. But he had not been cruel or malicious when he took her over his knee, and he had even comforted her afterwards. He was much different than the men in her village. Her previous suitor was too… “Henpecked” was the word she liked to use to describe him. He would never have thought of doing something as barbaric as spanking her. Luckily, Jake had pointed out his deficiencies, and Jillian sent the man crying back to his mother.

But her final suitor was a lord who was dark, vile, and mean. She saw his anger and the power that he loved to exert over the rest of the villagers. The pig of a man only cared for his possessions and had made it abundantly clear that Jillian was to be one. He had even grabbed her breast and kissed her without permission.

Jake had been furious when he caught her angrily tearing up the lord’s flower beds and throwing rocks toward the windows. She missed most of them, unfortunately. Jake packed up their meager belongings, prepared Banbury, and dragged her onto the long road to the matchmaker.

So what kind of man was Bertram? He was most definitely not a henpecked mother’s boy. That only left power-hungry lord, right? Only time would tell. She shrugged her shoulders, feeling uncomfortable and sad, and decided to change the subject.

“So what about you, Bertram? Wife, kids?”

His face turned stony, then softened again. “Fiancée left a few years ago for some village idiot in another town.”

“I’m so sorry,” she gasped.

“It’s all right,” he smirked. “I took the money I saved in hair products to build my place and am living happily with my…” he paused, “daughter. We get a lot of visitors, so we don’t get lonely.”

He slowed his walk and met her gaze kindly. “I know you feel badly about your brother. Don’t worry, we’ll get him fixed up.”

Tears filled her eyes and she nodded, thankful he understood.

“All right. The lodge is around the bend. You are both welcome to stay as long as you like, as long as you obey the rules.”

She opened her mouth to ask him what rules he meant when they turned the corner and the lodge came into view. Mansion was more like it. It was huge. Bigger than five houses put together. And it was beautiful and brightly lit with torches and lights, a huge sign at the front.

Spa NK, Fetish Shop and Play Lodge

Come in, get warm.

Stay and play.

Warmth flooded her body as he stopped in front of the doors and called out for assistance. Helpers immediately surrounded them. Bertram dismounted and lifted her from the horse with strong hands, and she looked into the brown and amber-flecked eyes of her rescuer. He was a large man, with dark hair lined with streaks of grey and an air of dangerous power. Bertram instructed the medics to take care of Jake as he led her by the hand into the front shop.

Paddles, whips, riding crops, and other objects she couldn’t identify hung on walls. What were they? Paraphernalia adorned every square inch of the shop. Her eyes were drawn to beautiful pictures of women with glowing red bare bottoms. Some crying, some laughing, some clenched in anticipation, some accepting, showing the wetness between their legs. She felt so drawn to them.

Oh my gosh. The name of the lodge, Spa NK, formed the word “spank”. This was a place that catered to spanking.

She should have been scared of the “worldly”, sexy environment she had entered. Her grandmother would have died on the spot because of the “sinful, new age” atmosphere, as she would have called it. But this felt more real to her than all of her 22 years of life in the village. Bertram’s spanking had done more to her than she could explain. And as embarrassing as it was for her to admit to herself, the thought of these women proffering their bottoms for chastisement made her feel warm and funny. And it felt right. She belonged here.

“Daddy!”

Jillian turned to see a cute, red haired young lady, about her age, fling herself into Bertram’s arms.

They hugged for a moment before he scolded her about something, swatted her on the backside, and sent her on an errand. The feisty redhead scowled at her before flouncing out the door.

Jillian met Bertram’s eyes and moved to his place by the counter. She looked up at the sign above his head. “B. B. Wolfe. Co-owner, Operator.”

“So. What do you think?” he asked.

“It’s interesting.” She shrugged noncommittally.

“Well, I’m glad you find it interesting.” He placed his hands behind his head. “You’re going to be here awhile.” He looked outside at the growing storm. “If you’re a good girl, I’ll let you try out some of the implements.” He winked.

She bit her lip and sucked in a breath, the excitement growing in her. He had read her so well. Wide eyed, she looked around at all the different implements, her bottom clenching involuntarily. “And what if I’m not a good girl?” she whispered and licked her lips.

His huge guffawing laugh shook the rafters. “Little girl, you are going to get a lot of spankings while you are here. The choice is yours about what kind you get.”

He took her hand and led her to the inner door of the lodge. “Let’s go check on your brother. Then we’ll get you settled in. Then…” his smile broadened, “you’ll get your first spanking as a guest. Welcome to Spa NK,” he said, pronouncing the “N” and “K” separately.

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