“They… they get punished, Sir.”
“That’s right, they do. And how are naughty girls punished?” He reached around and pinched her bottom, hard, making her wince. “Come on, I want to hear you say it.”
“Th-they get punished…”
His long, callused finger ran across the place he’d pinched, soothing the hurt. “Yes?”
“Hard! Naughty girls are punished hard, Sir.”
“And?” He waited expectantly. He knew that his girl didn’t like answering these questions. He knew they made her stutter and blush, and that was half the fun. Not to mention the fact that with every admittance he wrung from her reluctant lips, his cock became that much harder.
“On their… on their b-bare bottoms.” When she finished, she began to cry softly and though he normally got absolutely no excitement from her tears, his semi-hard cock began to grow and strain against his jeans.
He wasn’t a cruel man, not by any means, but knowing that she cried because she anticipated a well-deserved, hard punishment was a bit of a rush. Even better was the knowledge that he got to be the man to give it to her. He eyed the smooth, unblemished skin of her behind. She had the most perfect ass of any woman he’d ever seen. The kind of ass that should be used to model underwear, which he happily would have suggested to her if he’d been of a mind to share her. No—he didn’t want anyone else seeing those perfect swells, the mouth-watering curves. He definitely wasn’t a man who believed in sharing. God had made her ass for two things—for filling out a pair of jeans like no one else could, in a way that made men crane their necks for a second and third look, and for spanking.
He would have spanked her anytime, anywhere, just because his itchy palm and aching cock often demanded he do so. But his sweet Georgia did him one better—she liked to act out in a way that often merited a bottom-warming deterrent from ill-advised behavior. Now was one of those times.
While he certainly preferred giving her erotic, love spankings for no other reason than because he liked to make both sets of her cheeks blush, discipline spankings were a necessity at times, too. And as much as he hated to make her cry, he believed that tears were a sign of repentance so every punishment required them. And even though her lip was already quivering and her eyes were shiny, this was just the beginning. They were still in Lecture Mode.
“And sometimes,” he said, reaching up to stroke her hair. “Sometimes naughty girls are punished another way, too. Can you think of what that is?”
Georgia whimpered and a lone tear fell from her eye onto her cheek.
“Come on, honey. I know you know what it is.” He gently stroked her bare shoulder blade, but she still didn’t answer, so when he spoke again his voice was sterner, bordering on severe. She knew he didn’t like to ask twice. “Do I need to remind you?”
Eyes going wide, she shook her head vigorously, sending her braid lashing back and forth.
But he’d already made up his mind, and nothing deterred him once he had. Leaving her for a moment he walked over to the stainless steel table where he’d laid out his supplies. He selected a small—though not the smallest—butt plug and a bottle of lubricant. He eyed the bottle, making a mental note that it was getting low. His baby girl seemed to require this particular punishment quite often. And though she protested and fought it, he sometimes wondered if she secretly enjoyed the fact that he made her submit so completely to him—even her tight little hole would succumb to his stern ministrations. And while she whimpered and quivered, already bent over the wooden work table, he knew that she was secretly happy knowing that he would never promise a punishment and not deliver.
He also knew, even if she never voiced it aloud, that it turned her on. She might not understand it—hell, he wasn’t even sure he did—but whatever the reason, her pussy got more sopping than a wet sponge when it was time to wash the dishes. It would leak out of her, first a slow trickle, then become a gush of warm, slick feminine oil that drove him crazy. If he inhaled deeply enough, he could smell it already and it was all the encouragement he needed to walk back to where she was, bent over with her naked white orbs pushed into the air.
She heard the heavy trod of his footsteps and turned her head, wide eyes growing wider when she saw the butt plug in his hand. “Oh, no!” she moaned softly.
“Oh, yes. You knew this was exactly what would happen if you misbehaved and you did it anyway. Didn’t I strap your naughty behind for the same thing on Tuesday?”
His hand cracked down on one of her creamy cheeks, the sound of the sharp contact echoing throughout the barn. He watched as the imprint of his hand was painted in a rosy hue on her bottom. “No buts. You knew this was coming and you chose to do it anyway. Open up for me.”
Georgia reached behind her and grabbed a cheek in each hand, pulling them apart for his inspection.
He didn’t think there a sexier sight in all the world. Then again, he hadn’t known the meaning of the word sexy before he’d met her. Sexy or not, it wouldn’t save her from the punishment she had coming, and she knew it. The little whimpers coming from her as she waited in near-silent trepidation were evidence of the fact.
Popping the cap open, he liberally coated the plug with lubricant. Then, he set the bottle on the table where she could stare at it, knowing and dreading what came next. He counted to fifty, giving her a few seconds to agonize over the coming punishment. He chuckled to himself. She’d call him a sadist, if she wasn’t so preoccupied with the state of her naked ass. He loved her dearly, and they both knew it. He would do everything in his power to keep her safe, and sometimes that meant protecting her from herself.
“Here it comes,” he warned her, watching as her fingers clenched at her cheeks. “Relax, baby.”
And if enjoying her squeal as the plug was inserted into her tight hole and his cock growing uncomfortably tight in his pants made him a sadist, well then, so be it.
Sam liked getting up at four in the morning, which was fortunate for him, because running a ranch mandated that such a thing was necessary. He’d been waking up at the same time for so long now that he generally beat his alarm, reaching over to shut it off before it even emitted its familiar, annoying trill of bells. He was the kind of man who liked having a routine. He had it down to an art form, and if ever anything threw him off his morning schedule, he tended to become a burly bear of repressed aggression by the end of the day.
He took a shower, first thing. It was just as important a part of his waking up as his morning cup of coffee, which he drank out of a cup so big that his grandmother often teased that she’d have to buy him a pitcher if he ever wanted anything bigger. More often than not he grabbed two or three of her famous biscuits off the stove—she made them fresh every night so she could say that she fed him without having to get up alongside him to do it—just to put something in his belly.
Once he’d donned his uniform of jeans, a flannel shirt covering his white tee, and his thick, sturdy cowboy boots, he was ready to greet the day. As much as he had to get done every single day—the list seemed to be never ending and much of it was done without any help—as soon as he hit the door he never failed to pause, savoring the sweet scent of fresh air. He loved how quiet, how very still everything seemed just before the world woke up.
By the time he saddled his horse and went to see about the chores, the birds would be chirping and the squirrels would be looking for nuts. But for that one short moment on his porch he felt awed by the beauty of the world around him—as though God had made it just for him. It never got old. The minute it did, he’d retire from the hard, back-breaking life of a rancher and finally do something with his business degree, the way his grandma kept gently nudging him to. Until then, he was happy to work with his hands, modifying or repairing the old equipment until he had the time to rebuild. He kept telling him that he’d find the time, one of these days.
Then there were the cattle to tend to, and sheep to check, and his little side business, of course. On top of everything else he did, Sam also made paddles, which were in surprising demand around these parts. What had begun as a hobby had now become a way to bring in a little much-needed cash. Running a ranch wasn’t cheap.
He didn’t mind. Though his grandmother would get it in her head to try to persuade him from it every now and again, the pictures she painted of a big city life just didn’t appeal. He liked more than just the quiet—he liked being able to set his own hours, knowing that every dime he saw was a direct result of his hard work. The country life might not be for everyone, but it suited him fine.
It was lunchtime, and Sam had barely dusted his boots off before he heard his grandmother calling to him. She never said hey, or anything like that. That would be too normal. Instead, she started talking as though they’d been in the middle of a conversation.
“Did you hear that the Millers’ girl is back from school?”
“No, Gran, I didn’t.”
“Well, what do you think?” she demanded, piercing him with that eagle-eyed gaze that told him she already had an opinion.
“Are the Millers excited about it?”
“Oh, Samuel, you remember that Jeanie Miller died last year. But Mr. Miller is thrilled. She’s his daughter, after all.”
Sam paused to digest this information. Of course Gran would think he’d remember every birth and death in town, just because she did. “Well then, if he’s happy, I’m happy.”
“You don’t have to be sarcastic, Samuel.” She puckered her lips, using his full name to show her disapproval. “I think you should care about who your neighbors are. Back in my day, everyone knew their neighbors.”
He squelched a sigh as he approached. This had nothing to do with being neighborly, and they both knew it, whatever she wanted to pretend. “If I happen to see her around, I’ll be sure and introduce myself, Gran.”
She gave him another skeptical, searching glance. “You will? And you won’t be rude? Girls don’t like that, you know.”
Biting back a grin, and trying to sound as serious as possible, he said, “I know, Gran.”
“Are you sure? Because while I didn’t particularly care for that A-maya, or whatever that last girl’s name was—”
“Yes, well, while I wasn’t her biggest fan, even a surly wife is better than no wife at all.”
Both his eyebrows rose to his hairline. “So, what you’re saying is, if I come across the Millers’ girl I need to go ahead and drop to one knee?”
“Of course not, Samuel.” She pinched her lips together, but for all her attempt to appear stern he could see the corners of her mouth twitching. “Fine—suit yourself. Keep playing the bachelor. It’s none of my affair.”
He bent down and dropped a peck on her dry, withered cheek. “Thank you, Gran. Now, what’s for lunch?”
“Roast beef, with lettuce and tomato. I’ve already fixed you a plate. You have a seat and I’ll get it.”
“That’d be much appreciated.” As soon as he dropped into the chair across from hers, he realized how tired he was from what had already been a long day.
“I’m just saying,” she continued as she came around the counter holding a paper plate, “that if you play the bachelor for too long you might find yourself stuck there.”
This time, he didn’t manage to stop the groan that rose in his throat. “Gran—”
“All right, I’ll be quiet,” she said as she set the plate down in front of him.
Ha! Not very likely!
“I just thought you’d like to know that Carol told me that she saw her after church this past Sunday, and she said the girl is absolutely lovely.”
“Good for her,” he grunted.
“Really, Samuel, you could at least try…”
His patience worn through, he looked up from his sandwich long enough to give her a quelling stare.
“Fine, fine,” she grumbled, raising her palms in the air. “It’s none of my affair.”
Not that that ever stopped her, he thought as he took another bite of his sandwich. He’d better manage to bump into the Miller girl, sooner rather than later, if he wanted any peace. It would appease her for a time. Not for long, of course, but he was sure the girl would be moving on to one of the bigger cities soon, so it wouldn’t matter much after that.
“You know, Samuel, come to think of it, this is the third Sunday in a row you’ve missed. You really should go more often. The pastor was asking after you.”
With a shake of his head, he chewed in silence. He supposed that listening to his failings to God was preferable to his failings to marry and produce her great-grandchildren. Only mildly so, but enough to make him hold his tongue until it was time to go back to work.
As it turned out, he didn’t have to go looking for the Miller girl after all. She showed up on his doorstep when he’d only been in long enough to chuck his boots. He’d been about to head for the shower, which was why he answered the door in his wife-beater with dirt on his face and sweat in his hair. He’d hoped to make a better first impression—so that his grandmother wouldn’t have a reason to insist on a second meeting—but there wasn’t much he could do about it.
Funny, he hadn’t expected her to be so young. When he’d opened the door to see her standing there, her shiny reddish-brown hair in braids on either side of her head, he immediately did a double-take. Then he noticed the shorts she was wearing and how tiny she was. Had his grandmother said she was back from school? She didn’t look much older than eighteen. Surely, she hadn’t meant high school, had she? God, did she think he was that desperate?
Of course, knowing her, she probably did.
“Hi,” she chirped. “I’m Georgia Miller.” She stuck out a hand for him to shake.
He took it gingerly, hoping she wasn’t the squeamish kind that minded a man with dirty fingernails. He couldn’t help but notice that she had a nice smile. She was practically beaming at him.
“I know who you are.”
“You do?” Her smile stretched wider.
“Yes, my grandmother already warned me you’d moved back in with your dad.”
Georgia’s eyes widened in a way that was entirely beguiling. Too bad she was too young for him. “Warned you?” she echoed. “Oh, so he told her I’m a proud, pistol-wielding citizen, did he?”
“No.” He frowned as he peeked around her, trying to see if he spotted a gun. “You don’t have a pistol on you, do you?” Not that he had a problem with girls carrying guns. So long as they were old enough to have a permit to carry one.
“No,” she giggled, a trilling laughter that somehow made him smile too. “Can I come in?” Without waiting for an answer either way, she bounded past him.
If it had been anyone else who had barged in without permission, he would have demanded an apology on the spot, then he probably would have politely but firmly told her to leave. But somehow her exuberant innocence had him charmed. What would it hurt, he reasoned. She was petite, and though she was curvy her frame was still small enough that he would have no trouble handling anything she could dish out.
“So, you’re going to think this is silly, but would you be a good neighbor and lend me a cup of flour?”
Sam felt himself smiling back at her. “I always thought it was sugar people borrowed.”
“Oh, well, I’ll take some of that too, if you have it.”
When he arched a brow, she laughed unapologetically. “I was supposed to go grocery shopping today.”
“My dad thinks I’m cooking dinner tonight, but that’s going to be hard seeing as how we have exactly two things in the fridge. One is milk and the other is lettuce that has seen better days.” She made a face, earning a chuckle from him.
“You should probably throw that out.”
“I didn’t know how desperate I’d be,” she explained, batting her dark, long eyelashes that framed luminous green eyes.
He was instantly attracted to her, and then repelled at himself. She was way too young for him! Eighteen, at best. Gran, as much as he hated to admit it, had been right. It had been much too long since he’d entertained a woman. His body was responding without the proper protocol.
“Flour and sugar,” he said before making his way to the kitchen. Without a word, Georgia followed behind him as though she was a regular guest.
Once inside he found the cabinet housing the baking ingredients and pulled down his grandma’s well-loved, stained bags before carefully measuring out a cup of each. He deposited the ingredients into two separate Ziploc bags before handing them over to Georgia.
“Not a problem. Anything else I can do for you?”
“Well…” She bit down on her bottom lip, her green eyes dancing. “I don’t suppose you have a box of spaghetti you’re not using?”
He should be more than a little irritated with her, he knew. He wasn’t running a grocery store. But she was cute as a button, and somehow he found her unassuming manner charming. Sam shook his head at her. “Do you mind if I ask what you did when you were supposed to be grocery shopping?”
“Um, well… it wasn’t that I didn’t go.”
“I did. I even bought stuff. Or, I tried to. But when I got to the register, my, ah… my card sort of…”
“Declined?” he supplied, keeping his voice neutral as to not add to her embarrassment.
But young Georgia didn’t look embarrassed. “My dad gave me some money to buy groceries.”
“But right next door to the grocery store there was this amazing shoe sale going on! I figured it had to be fate, you know?”
Sam didn’t believe much in fate, but he nodded to keep the story moving.
“So I got this pair of fabulous stilettos. I’m not exactly sure when I’ll have a chance to wear them, but better have them just to be safe, you know?”
“So you spent the money your dad gave you for groceries… on shoes?” he asked, just to be sure.
“That about sums it up.”
He’d thought she’d at least have the grace to blush, but she didn’t seem to think there was anything wrong with what she’d done. Sam took her measure quickly, and while his inner dom would normally be rearing his formidable, lecturing head right now, Sam quickly silenced the urge. She was young. She would learn.
“Does this work?” he asked once he’d produced a box of thin spaghetti noodles.
“Yes! Oh, my God, thank you! You’re a lifesaver!”
“Not yet I’m not. Won’t you need sauce?”
She gave him that endearing smile again, the one where her lips curled as she bit down on her bottom lip and her cheek dimpled.
Once he’d found what he was looking for, he walked around the counter and held out the jar of homemade sauce his grandmother had put up. “Now, this comes with a warning that’s not on the label.”
She looked at him in that fresh-faced, wide-eyed way she had that was quickly making him forget why he couldn’t kiss her, just once. “It does?”
“Yes. My grandma’s a hell of a cook and this is her recipe. After you eat it, you might never want store-bought sauce again.”
Georgia broke into a titter of laughter that made the corners of his own mouth twitch. “Thanks for letting me know.” She reached for the sauce, but he didn’t let it go.
“You’re welcome to the spaghetti, but the jar has to come back. Understand?”
He expected her to look surprised as his voice deepened to a stern, commanding one. But she just smiled as though nothing was amiss. “Yes, Sir.”
Jesus. His cock went from semi-hard to rigid in all the time it took to draw in a surprised breath. Suddenly, little Georgia looked a hell of a lot more attractive than she had three seconds ago, and she’d already been looking pretty cute. He could get used to hearing that.
And if it wasn’t his imagination, she was looking at him with more than neighborly affection. Yes, he could very easily get used to this. He had to do something, quick, to cure them both. And he knew just the thing.
“What are you going to tell your dad when you run out of flour or sugar?”
“Hmm.” Her brow furrowed, and even that he found adorable. “I hadn’t thought about that.”
“Well, I highly doubt you can eat off one box of spaghetti until the next time you get money to go grocery shopping.”
“I guess you’re right.” She shrugged, looking unconcerned.
Perhaps she knew a whole host of neighbors who were more than willing to open their cabinets to her. The thought simultaneously amused him and made him jealous. This was ridiculous—better get on with it, and get rid of her before either of them did something they could later regret.
“So, how do you intend to pay me for these things?”
Her smile dimmed at the question. “I thought you were giving them to me.”
“You asked for flour and sugar. That, you can have. But I’ll need something for the others. It’s very good sauce.”
Georgia giggled, but she was beginning to look uncertain. Good. She should think her actions through a little more, and where they might lead. Generally, country life was pretty calm, but she had just come into his house without knowing him from Adam. And if she’d bought the groceries with the money her father had given her, she wouldn’t be in this position in the first place.
“I told you I don’t have any money.”
“I don’t want your money.”
“Well, what do you want then?” She looked more curious than concerned.
He’d been on the verge of letting her off with nothing more than a mild scolding. Gran was right—he couldn’t go around scaring all the girls off, if for no other reason than he didn’t want Gran to have to hear it in church on Sunday. But the fact that she seemed so trusting when he, a perfect stranger, had demanded payment from her, rather than running from the house screaming, bothered him.
“Lean over the table and you’ll find out,” he instructed, pointing toward the small, round four-seater where he and Gran took their meals.
She gave him a questioning look and when she followed his order he was both pleased and annoyed. Funny how she could inspire such competing emotions inside him.
“Like this?” she queried, leaning over and sticking out a mouth-wateringly curvaceous ass.
Jesus. What was he doing? But seeing her bent over like that and waiting for him woke the dominant he kept locked away from the public eye. He was raring to get out, and while Sam was very careful about hiding his less savory aspects—namely his unsavory desire to dominate willing women, such as Georgia—he couldn’t stop himself. Not this time—not when she was literally asking for it.
Besides, it was for her own good, Sam told himself.
“What are you going to do?” she asked, her voice softened as she looked over her shoulder at him.
She had amazing eyes. They were light green, the color of a meadow at springtime. As he got closer he saw that she had flecks of gold in them. She was such a tiny little thing—with narrow shoulders, dropping into a soft, womanly back and gently curving hips. Every bit of her was petite and feminine, which made those full, delectable cheeks even more surprising. It was the best kind of surprise, Sam’s favorite kind—oh, if she were only five years older he’d be so tempted to unwrap her.
“I’m going to spank you, Georgia.”
Her breath hitched in a way that belied any fear. “Why?”
“Don’t you think you deserve it? It’s not very smart to spend money set aside for food on something as frivolous as shoes.”
“How can you say that? You haven’t even seen them.”
“What they look like isn’t the point. You can’t spend every dime you make on a whim—and it wasn’t even your money. So, really, it’s like stealing.”
After his words sank in, her eyes began to widen. “I… I didn’t think about it like that.”
He nodded, gratified by her quick realization. “And not only that, but you just came in here with me, and you don’t even know me. I could be a serial killer.”
“Are you?” she teased, doing that flirty thing with her eyelashes again, her dimple flashing.
This girl! He wanted to spank her, yes; his palm was as itchy as he could ever remember it being before. But he wanted to bend her over backwards, afterward, and do things to her that would leave the table unfit for eating on.
“I wouldn’t be likely to tell you if I was,” he countered. “You need to take better care of yourself and use your head.”
“That’s why you’re going to spank me?”
“Yes.” He waited, expecting a refusal, or at the very least, a protest as to why he shouldn’t. When nothing came, he pressed his hand to her back, directing her to bend over further.
She turned her face away from him and complied without a word.
He took a moment to let his eyes enjoy the full, luscious curve of her cheeks before he raised his hand. He brought it smacking down on her bottom a moment later, and the feel of his hand cracking down on that beautiful ass made his jeans uncomfortably tight. He took a minute to shake his head and clear his thoughts. The only thing he needed to concentrate on right now was Georgia, and her discipline. He wasn’t a man who believed in half-measures.
Georgia didn’t make a sound. He counted a few seconds in his head before swatting the other cheek equally as hard. Still, she was silent as a church mouse.
Strike three was delivered quickly and finally, he heard a small mewl of protest from her. But she didn’t try to turn around and she didn’t tell him to stop. He found her obedience to be a pleasant surprise. He was hoping that she’d learn a lesson about behaving more responsibly, but he also found her earning his respect with each spank she took.
Another swat, the hardest yet, had her going up on her tiptoes. It was a few seconds before she let out a soft cry. When he placed the fifth and final smack on her other cheek, she whimpered.
When Georgia turned to him, sniffling, he was caught off guard by the sheen of tears in her eyes. His heartstrings pulled far more than they should have after handing out much-deserved discipline.
“I’ll be going,” she told him, waiting for his nod before she walked toward him and scooped up the items he’d put on the counter. “Thank you,” she offered through stiff lips.
“You’re welcome.” He reached behind him and ran a hand through his dirty hair, watching as she walked away. It had to be done.
Before she reached the door, Georgia turned to look at him. A tear had fallen onto her beautiful, perfect cheek. “I knew who you were, too. My dad told me all about you—he speaks very highly of you.” Then she turned back around and left without giving him so much as a backwards glance.
Ouch. She really knew how to deliver a hard, fast punch and get out.
He hadn’t wanted her to see him as a monster, which must be what she now thought. He’d found her charming, if a bit flighty, and wouldn’t have minded getting to know her, though he’d ruined that now. It wasn’t meant to be—she was too young for him, anyway. It was for the best, he told himself again as he headed for his bedroom. But that didn’t mean it didn’t suck.
Georgia flounced out the door and off the porch, fuming. Who did he think he was, to lecture her like she was a child? What gave him the right to assume he knew anything about her based off one conversation? He thought she was a moron, and he was, what? Some father figure handing out righteous whacks meant to teach her a lesson? Ridiculous.
Her bottom burned as though she had gone to a nude beach and brought back a sunburned ass for a souvenir. She couldn’t believe the nerve, the absolute arrogance of that guy to spank her without even offering his name first! She knew it, of course, but a gentleman would have at least introduced himself before ordering her to bend over the table so that he could sting the back of her shorts with his paddle-like hand.
She was trembling with indignation—that, and something else, too.
Her sex was quivering, hotter than her spanked ass, hard as that was to believe. But she couldn’t think about her slick, aching folds. She couldn’t think about the musky essence pooling on the gusset of her panties. If she thought about any of that, she began to lose her righteous indignation and she intended to hold onto it with the tenacity of a terrier.
How dare he!
She yanked the door open to her house—if she hadn’t been so angry, she would have been impressed with the time she’d made furiously retracing her steps—and slammed it shut so hard that the pictures on the walls rattled.
“Hey! What the heck happened to you, Peach?”
Any other time, she would have jumped to see him standing in the kitchen and feel caught out. She was carrying borrowed groceries instead of ones purchased at the store, after all. But she was too angry to care about that, too disgusted to be softened by his nickname for her. As if to prove it, she plunked the Ziploc bags, the box of pasta, and the jar of sauce right down on the counter in front of him.
“I thought you said you were going to meet the neighbor.”
“I did,” she bit out, giving him a hard, quelling look—one she would have loved to have given Mr. Samuel Taylor. “I’m going to my room. I’ll cook dinner in a little while,” she announced before stomping past the kitchen, down the hall, and into her bedroom. She didn’t slam the door quite so hard this time, but only because she didn’t want to knock anything over.
She couldn’t be around anyone right now, not even her dad. Once she’d cooled off, once the blaze he’d left in her nether cheeks and the subsequent fire in her sex had quieted, then she’d cook dinner. But she didn’t think she could stand near a stove right now without wondering if the heat in her face was from steam or the memory of how he had looked at her just before he’d brought his hand smacking down on her awaiting ass.
And the way he’d ordered her to bend over in the first place! What a pompous, assuming ass!
And yet… that had been when the molten heat of her pussy had ignited. That moment when he’d locked his eyes on hers and given that quiet, authoritative order had been the one when her tummy had knotted into a mass of tingling nerves full of apprehension and breath-hitching anticipation, all in one. She hadn’t been able to disobey. She hadn’t even considered it.
Which was why, as she stared up at the sunburst design stamped in the plaster of her ceiling, she didn’t know who she was angrier at. Her fingers reached for and found the button at the top of her shorts. She freed it with one impatient tug and began to slide the thick denim down her legs, then put a tentative finger on the crotch of her panties. She felt the heat and liquid that had pooled there, and she had never been more embarrassed. It made no sense, why she should get wet at a stern look, why that deep, scolding voice should make her breath hitch.
What was wrong with her? She’d never been one to let a man tell her what to do! In fact, she considered herself quite the feminist, but one look from the handsome rancher, one command, and she’d been his to do what he wanted with. It just didn’t make any sense.
And he didn’t remember her. That much was clear from the way he’d interacted with her. The whole time she’d been in his house, she’d expected recognition to light his features, but it never had. But she would certainly never forget the first time they’d met; hadn’t, in fact, forgotten a single detail in all this time.
It had been just over four years ago, right after she’d graduated high school. She’d known that her family would be moving to Clay in the coming months and she’d wanted to get a feel for the place, even though she’d soon be going off to college. At least, that was what she’d told her dad. It had only been half a lie. She did want to check it out—because she would be visiting there during breaks, but also because it was forty-plus minutes away and as good a place as any to smoke the forbidden cigarettes that she had burning a hole in her pocket. Not literally, of course.
It was a quiet, small town. She could see that right off, as she strolled the streets, the cigarette lit between her lips. She had been looking at the dark sky, marveling at the large number of stars that sparkled in the wide, velvet abyss. She’d been puffing away contentedly, letting her feet carry her wherever they would, and marveling at the fact that she’d just closed the chapter on her high school career. College lay ahead and with it, a mixture of sickening apprehension. She couldn’t believe it. She had no idea what she would study, what she wanted to do with the rest of her life—would she even like college?
Realizing that there wasn’t much more than embers left of her cigarette, she took one last puff before dropping it and grinding it in the dirt with the heel of her shoe. Then and only then did she take a look at her surroundings. It seemed she’d managed to wander to a nearly deserted group of buildings. A lone street lamp shone, and underneath it she saw a guy working on his car. As though he felt her eyes on him, he looked up from the hood of the car and waved.
Not quite ready to go home yet, Georgia had wandered over. She couldn’t help but notice that he was cute, and the closer she got to him, the more attractive he became. Broad shoulders and a taut, muscular form were enough to make the man easy on the eyes, and she couldn’t help but notice his dark hair and square jaw.
“Evenin’,” he called out as he watched her approach.
“It’s late,” he’d stated, his voice filled with mild rebuke. “What are you doing out here?”
“It’s not that late,” she’d responded, startled by his stern tone. “Besides, you’re out.”
He clearly hadn’t liked that one bit. She could see it by the way his brow furrowed as he looked at her. “Well, I’m old enough to have a license, little girl. And my car needs fixin’. This is the only time I could do it. But you should be home.”
“I have a license,” she protested with a spluttering laugh.
“Maybe.” His eyes raked her, considering. “But you’re not old enough for that cigarette you were smoking.”
Her eyes widened in surprise. Had he been watching her the whole time and she hadn’t noticed?
“I can smell it all over you,” he said by way of explanation.
“Oh. Well, it’s not that bad. It’s just a cigarette.”
“Cigarettes,” he’d said, measuring it out as though he was choosing his words carefully, “kill people.”
“Lots of things kill people.” She’d said it with a shrug and a dismissive little laugh, expecting to see him smile in agreement. He didn’t. In fact, the way he was looking at her—like she was a child talking about things she couldn’t possibly understand—made her feel defensive.
“A life isn’t something to gamble with. How old are you?”
“Seven—I mean, eighteen,” she’d said. At first, she was annoyed with him, but that quickly became annoyance with herself. “I had a birthday last week. I’m still getting used to it.”
“Happy birthday. Now, why don’t you stop puffing on those cancer sticks, to ensure you see many, many more of them?”
“You know what, you’re right,” she’d bit out, clearly frustrated. “I should be getting back home.”
“Did you get your birthday spanking?”
She’d been about to turn around and stomp off angrily, but his words stopped her. “What?”
“Your birthday spanking. I could give it to you now, if you like, but it might be a touch harder than you’re used to.”
He was laughing at her. She could see it in his eyes, in the twitching of her lips. God, he was insufferable! Threatening to spank her simply because he didn’t like her smoking a cigarette!
Except he hadn’t exactly threatened her. And despite the absurd rudeness of the entire encounter, she felt her heart pounding in her chest in a way she’d never felt before. It was odd, the way her blood suddenly felt hot as it coursed through her veins. Worst of all, when she should have felt offended—she was offended—there was a part of her that, for some strange reason she couldn’t name, wanted to say yes.
Her eyes drifted to his hands. He had large hands. They were stained with oil, and one casually held a wrench. The sight of them in correlation with her startlingly naughty thoughts made her ass begin to tingle. The thought of taking a spanking from him was a daunting one indeed.
“I… I think I’ll pass.” Her voice was as cool as she could make it as she tried to hide her apprehension at the thought of one of those humungous hands colliding with her bottom.
But something of what she felt must have shown on her face, because he’d thrown back his head and begun to laugh. Laughing—at her! Of all the nerve.
So she’d spun on her heel and stalked off, not bothering to stop even when he’d called after her.
“Wait! Wait, I didn’t mean to make you mad. Come back, let me introduce myself! The name’s Sam.”
But she hadn’t been mad—not exactly. And he’d seen it all over her face. And she’d never forgotten the name.
Apparently, she hadn’t been nearly as memorable. She’d even tossed out that line as she was leaving, about her dad telling her about him. She’d thought that would jog his memory, but it hadn’t done the trick. Somehow, that made the embarrassment she felt at being wet even worse. But maybe the man liked to spank and forget. Maybe that was his style. Who was she to judge?
Besides, she’d finally gotten the spanking he’d mentioned, even if it had come four years later. Even though she’d known it was silly, she hadn’t been able to forget his words even in all the time she’d been away. Some nights, when she found herself unable to sleep, she’d lie awake and wonder what it would have felt like, if she’d agreed to let him spank her. Now she didn’t have to wonder anymore. It was stingy and hot and awful all at once, and yet… yet, it was also somehow wonderful, too.
He couldn’t stop thinking about her. Which, in itself, was ridiculous. She might be legal, but that didn’t mean that she wasn’t still too young for him.
“Samuel? Somethin’ the matter?”
He looked up from his cup of coffee and repressed a sigh. “No, Gran. I’m fine.”
“You sure? You haven’t eaten a bite.”
He glanced at the ham sandwich he’d left untouched. “I’m just not that hungry, I guess.”
“Well, something really must be wrong then,” she chuckled softly.
“Actually, I’m late getting back to the field.” He stood up, picked up his cup of coffee and chugged it in two swallows, wincing when he realized it had grown cold. “Don’t mean to worry you—I’m fine.”
“Maybe you ought to take the sandwich.”
“Sure, Gran. And remember—I’ve got volunteer work tonight.”
“I didn’t forget. Your uniform is ready to go.”
Thanking her with a swift kiss to the cheek, he took the sandwich and left. But even the change of scenery did nothing to help his thoughts. Georgia kept popping up in his mind whatever he did, not seeming to mind that she was an uninvited guest. He couldn’t stop thinking about those braids. Those freckles. The dimples. Damn it! Spanking her was supposed to get her out of his system, but it looked like he’d gone and managed to make things worse for himself. Those five whacks hadn’t been enough to leave the imprint of his hand on her butt, but had been more than sufficient to stamp her on his brain.
He had to get her off—she didn’t belong there. His mind needed to be clear, especially before tonight. So he hit the rest of his chores with the enthusiasm of a man who needed to work hard, tire out his muscles so that his brain would shut down. The thing was, even though he didn’t understand it, there was a deep-seated need inside him, and no matter what he did, he just couldn’t shake it. He had to be the one to take the lead in a relationship, to curb the attitudes of naughty girls and, when they deserved it, to spank their bottoms.
Sam craved that submission, whether he liked it or not. And in the moment, when he had a woman bent over and taking a much-earned punishment, he liked it quite a bit. When he was dealing with loneliness, well, those days he liked it less.
Georgia could be different, a voice inside him whispered.
He slammed the logs he was gathering into the wheelbarrow with a loud grunt in order to silence it. He wasn’t a cradle robber, and no matter how cute or tempting, Georgia had jail bait written all over her sexy ass. Which was all he needed to know to end this—whatever it was—before it ever started. His subconscious would fall in line, eventually.
“You have got to be kidding me,” she groaned aloud. This wasn’t happening. It just wasn’t. Although the loud blare of sirens and the sight of billowing gray smoke dared to disagree, she just couldn’t believe that the night she’d finally worked up the wherewithal to go to the grocery store, she’d find it in flames.
Well, not flames exactly. But those were definitely firefighters rushing inside while customers poured out of the open doors.
“Damn,” she swore to herself. Yet, she didn’t crank up the car and turn around. What was the point? She had come all this way first; might as well have a smoke before heading for home, empty handed. She wondered if she could find somewhere to pick up a pizza on the way home. She highly doubted in a Podunk town like this one that anyone delivered.
Well, at least her dad wouldn’t get mad. After all, a fire was a crazy coincidence, right? It wasn’t like she should feel bad for putting it off and not going earlier—no matter what Mr. Bossypants might have to say about it.
She shook her head to clear the thought. Her dad wouldn’t feel that way about it, she knew that, and no one else mattered. Not even if that someone was tall, dark, and ruggedly handsome.
Her eyes flickered toward the firefighters. Hmm. Speaking of handsome…
She would stay for a few minutes. She’d have a quick smoke, and enjoy the show. Not that a fire was entertaining or anything, but it looked like they had it well under control. It wasn’t like there were leaping flames scaling the building or anything. So, what was the harm in taking in the sights? Especially if that helped to get her mind off… no one important.
Georgia had just lit the cigarette and taken her first, long drag when one of the firefighters came out of the building. She’d counted three, so far. Definitely not an emergency situation. Which meant that there was certainly no harm in a little man—um, people watching.
Was it her imagination, or was that firefighter looking over at her? Nope, he was definitely looking. She blew the smoke out of her mouth and gave a jaunty little wave that she hoped was sexy. Then, much to her surprise, she saw him begin to venture toward her.
She fought the nearly irresistible urge to check her hair in the side mirror. Damn, if she’d known she would be entertaining males, she would have taken more care with her outfit. But it had been hard enough to convince herself to stop procrastinating and go to the grocery store in the first place, so she’d thrown on a baggy t-shirt and a pair of shorts she’d had since high school. She had put on a quick coat of mascara on her lashes, so that was something, at least.
“You should really put that out,” the fireman said as he drew near.
“Oh?” she asked lightly, defiantly taking another puff.
“Ma’am, as a firefighter I find it my sworn duty to tell you that smoking can kill you.”
Wait a minute. Her belly did a little flip, even though she knew better. She’d know that voice anywhere.
“Yeah, so I’ve been told.”
“You mean to tell me you know and you still put that garbage in your body?”
His face was hidden by the shadow of his helmet, but she could make out the disapproving frown.
“Seems like it.” She moved the cigarette toward her mouth once more, but then to her surprise he reached forward, plucked it from her fingers, and tossed it onto the asphalt. Then, without a second’s hesitation, he ground it into the road with the heel of his boot. “Oh, my hero. Now I’m cured.”
“Careful,” he warned, his voice a low, rumbling warning. “It seems to me that you’re asking for another spanking.”
She cleared her throat and ducked her head to hide the color that leapt to her cheeks. “You didn’t ask me who told me.”
“I’m sorry? Who told you what?”
“That smoking kills you.”
“Probably every teacher you’ve ever had, I’d wager, and your dad. But I’ll bite—who?”
Feeling that she’d regained enough of her composure, she looked up and met his eye. “You did.” Then, without another word, she opened the door to her car, climbed inside, and cranked the car. She was very proud of herself for being able to drive away without a backward glance.
“Do you want to have pizza again tonight?” Georgia called out as she stared dejectedly at the empty cabinets.
“I guess we’d better.”
“I hope the store is back in order before we get tired of pineapple and ham.”
“Anything’s better than smoke-flavored peanut butter,” her dad called back, chuckling.
Georgia rolled her eyes. She’d laughed the first time he’d said it, and even the second, but now he was just pressing his luck. She opened the freezer, as though something edible would have somehow popped in there since yesterday when she’d looked last. No such luck. Guess she didn’t have a choice but to run out. She had just put her shoes on when she heard the doorbell ring.
“Peach? You ‘specting someone?”
“Nope. I’ll get the door, though.” She did a double-take when, upon opening the door, she came face-to-face with Samuel Taylor.
“Hi,” he said, as though his being on her doorstep was nothing unusual. As though he’d done it a million times before.
Actually, he looked good on her doorstep, but she wasn’t going to let him know she thought that. “Hello. I was actually on my way out.”
“Oh. Well, that’s OK. I just thought I’d bring some supplies.”
When she looked at him blankly, he held up the bag that, until that moment, she hadn’t noticed him carrying.
“My gran sent over some food when she heard about your, ah, predicament.”
Was it her imagination, or did his eyes twinkle at her?
“I know you still can’t get to the store, so she thought she’d whip something up for you and your dad to have for dinner.”
“Oh. Well… well, that was nice of her, but—”
“Georgia? Who’s at the door?”
She winced as she heard her father’s voice. If she didn’t play her cards quickly and just right, she was going to have to invite Sam in. She might like the looks of him on the porch, but inside her house was another matter. She had a hard enough time getting him out of her thoughts as it was and if she let him anywhere near the threshold, she wouldn’t be able to even manage that much. Which meant when this went nowhere—and it was headed there fast, as far as she was concerned—that she’d have to have a witchdoctor come and remove his essence from the house. And if that didn’t work, well, they’d just have to move.
“Thank her for me, but actually, we’re just going to have pizza. Thanks again.”
“The nearest pizza place is fifteen minutes away,” he said, as though he was telling her something she didn’t already know.
“Yes, well, I just so happen to have a craving for pineapple and ham, so, like I said, thanks, but—”
“Well, why don’t you just take it and save it for later? If I come back with it, my grandmother’ll have me shot. She doesn’t think I’m neighborly enough.”
“Wonder where she would have gotten an idea like that,” she quipped. As soon as she’d said it, she could have kicked herself. Not because it wasn’t true—it was and she didn’t mind him knowing that she thought so. But she should have just taken the bag and shut the door. If she had, then she might have noticed that her father was creeping up behind her before he actually had a chance to interact with Sam.
As it was, he startled her when she heard his voice behind her. “Howdy there. Who is it, Georgia?”
She closed her eyes so that her irritation would be hidden from them both. When she spoke, her voice was just one level below frenzied. “No one, Dad, he was just about to go. He just stopped by to drop some food off.” She tried to block his access to the door, but he was taller than her and had no trouble peeking over her shoulder.
“Hey there, Sam! Food, you say? That was mighty thoughtful of you.”
“Hello, Mr. Miller. It’s been a long time.” Sam stepped forward with his hand stretched out and Georgia had to grudgingly step aside.
“It sure has, it has at that,” he agreed as he took the hand and pumped it. “How is your grandma? Doing well?”
See, this was exactly what she hadn’t wanted. She didn’t need them bonding.
“Thanks again, Sam.” She reached out and took the bag from him. “Tell your grandmother we say thank you.”
“I don’t suppose you’d like to join us for dinner, would you, son?” she heard her father ask before she could close the door.
“Dad, I’m sure Sam has things he has to do. He’s very busy. Now—”
“Actually,” he interrupted with a disarming smile. “I’m free. And I’d love to join you.” Then, bold as brass, he winked at her.
She was far from amused. Not that either of the men seemed to notice. They kept up a steady stream of chatter all the way to the kitchen until she had plates dished out for each of them. She had to admit that the rice, beef tips, and gravy did smell pretty good. And her mouth had begun watering at the sight of the skillet-fried cornbread that had been packed in the bag.
“Enough for all of us?” Sam asked as she approached, carrying the plates waitress-style, which meant one was balanced on her wrist.
“There’s enough food in there for a small army,” she admitted. She couldn’t deny that she was glad not to have to drive to town.
“Gran tends to overdo things a bit.”
“Well, if it’s as good as it smells, I’m sure you’ll be returning with our compliments to the chef.” Her father asked that they clasp hands to pray, and when he was done, he immediately dug in, letting out an over-exaggerated moan as he took his first bite.
“Don’t mind him.” She rolled her eyes toward Sam. “He does that every time he eats.” But as she began to eat, she had to question whether it had been overkill after all. She’d never known that rice could taste so fluffy or gravy so flavorful. It was hard to pace herself, even with Sam at the table.
“So, Sam, tell us about life at the ranch. I can’t believe a man that eats like this every day is so thin, so I reckon it must be hard work.”
“You haven’t tasted anything until you’ve had a few of Gran’s biscuits.” He grinned. “But, yes, sir, it is hard work. I don’t mind.” Then as they ate he began to regale them with what a typical day looked like for him. He had them both laughing before he was through.
“I didn’t have any idea it was so hard to shear a sheep,” her father guffawed.
“It might not be, if my gran didn’t insist on watching every time I do it. She always has to warn me to not hurt them, and then she doesn’t believe that I’m not because they start bleating.” He did a lamb impression that had Georgia snorting in laughter despite herself.
“But that’s not all he does,” she interrupted, warming up to the conversation. “He’s a firefighter, too, isn’t that right?”
“Only two nights a week.” He gave a modest shrug. “Just a volunteer.”
“Wow. That’s a full load, son.”
She couldn’t help but notice how impressed her dad seemed. She had to admit, it was kind of cool. Georgia felt her cheeks heat when, unbidden, an image of him from last night popped into her head. She hadn’t thought he could look any better, but she guessed what they said was true: nothing and no one could beat the attractiveness of a man in uniform.
“I wouldn’t say no to a second helping,” her dad said as he held out his plate.
She took it from him and rose to her feet.
“Make sure you save room for dessert. Gran made banana pudding especially for you two.”
“Did you hear that, Peach?” her dad asked as his eyes practically rolled to the back of his head in anticipated rapture.
Sam raised his eyebrows at her at the mention of her nickname, but didn’t comment.
“Banana pudding is his favorite,” she explained, ignoring the look he shot her and going into the kitchen.
A second helping and a bowl of dessert later, her father was as happy as Georgia had ever seen him. They didn’t entertain guests very often and he seemed to be enjoying himself immensely.
“Well, you two, I’m goin’ off to bed.”
Georgia’s brow furrowed. It was barely nine o’clock! Her dad never turned in before watching the evening news.
“Don’t feel like you have to rush off, now, Sam.”
Oh. Her cheeks quickly colored as she understood.
“Have a nice night, Mr. Miller.”
“You too. And don’t forget to tell your grandmother that I’m mighty appreciative of her fine cooking.”
“I won’t, sir.”
Georgia watched his retreating back and wondered if she should fake being tired, too, just to get rid of him. It had been a nice time, sure. They’d laughed and talked, but suddenly, without her father around she felt nervous. Why was it that she had no problem saying exactly what she wanted until she was alone with him in her own home?
If Sam noticed her sudden case of nerves, he didn’t let it show. “I remember you.”
Her head swiveled toward him as her eyes widened in surprise. He had her full attention now. “You do?”
“I didn’t at first,” he admitted with a rueful smile as he rubbed the back of his neck. “But after what you said last night, it came back to me.”
“That was, what? Four years ago?”
“Which means that you’re… twenty-two?”
“I will be next month.” As she watched, his face changed. If she wasn’t mistaken, he looked almost relieved. “What does that matter?”
“Well…” He was rubbing his neck pretty hard now. “Ah… the thing is, I was fighting my attraction to you.”
The word attraction zinged in her mind, sticking there and replaying itself over and over again in her head. He was attracted to her? To her? It felt too good to be true! Her whole body began to tingle with a heady euphoria. Then, after a few moments, she replayed the rest of the sentence. It only slightly dulled her giddiness.
“Wait, what? Why would you not want to be…” She couldn’t quite seem to bring herself to say the word attracted. Just in case she’d misheard.
“I… I thought you were too young for me,” he admitted with another ironic smile.
“How old are you?”
“Oh, well, I can see why you’d think that, Grandpa.”
“Hey, now, I thought you’d appreciate the honesty.”
What she appreciated was the fact that he liked her. He really liked her! She would pinch herself, except that that might be a little embarrassing, seeing as how he was sitting right across from her and all.
“So, I was wondering… I mean, would it be appropriate…”
For a change, he was the one who seemed to be tongue-tied and embarrassed. She couldn’t deny that it was amusing to watch. “Sam, would you like to go out sometime?”
His mouth dropped open as he blinked at her. He quickly regained his composure, however, after she giggled at him, and his brow furrowed. “Young lady, that is supposed to be my line.”
“I was just trying to help you out,” she said, giggling some more.
“I don’t need any help, thank you. I am the man of this relationship, and I’ll do the askin’, is that understood?”
His voice was turning mock-stern, now, but it was enough to make her insides squirm. “Yes, Sir, it’s understood.”
“Now, for your punishment you’ll just have to wait for me to ask you.” To emphasize his words, he pushed back his chair and stood up.
“Wait! You’re going?”
Georgia couldn’t help the pout that marred her lips. “I was just teasing you.”
“Well, I reckon you’ll think twice about that from now on, won’t you?”
Her pout turned to a scowl, but she didn’t say another word. She didn’t like this kind of punishment at all. She would much rather have a spanking—not that she was going to tell him that!
“Walk me to the door, please.”
Her scowl deepened. “I need to clear the dishes.”
“You can do that after you see me out.”
With a disgruntled sigh, she pushed her own chair back and leapt to her feet. “Fine. Let’s go.” She pretended not to see Sam’s amused grin at her expense.
“Thank you for a lovely evening, Georgia,” he said when they were at the door.
“What do you say we do it again sometime?”
Her scowl dropped almost instantly, and before she could answer, he leaned forward and pressed his lips gently but firmly against her own. It only lasted a few seconds, and then it was gone, but her lips were tingling where his had been. They’d never be the same, she could tell that in an instant.
“Say, tomorrow? How about coffee after dinner? Can we do seven, or is that too late?”
Suddenly, she regained her voice. “No, Grandpa, I’ll still be up, but won’t it be past your bedtime?”
Regarding her without a hint of a smile, he indicated with a finger that she was to turn around. She hesitated, for an instant, but then obeyed. He made her wait for a moment, but then swiftly smacked the back of her skirt. The crack of his hand against her bottom echoed outside.
“Seven, then. And what do you say you leave that smart mouth at home, hmm?”
But he didn’t fool her one bit. She heard him whistling as he walked to his truck.
That’s all until next week’s installment! If you’re aching to finish right now, though, just click below and buy the book!
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