Josephine wondered what he’d do if she said no. “I suppose.” She placed her napkin on the table and got to her feet.
“Logan, really, must you do this now? I’m sure Josephine is exhausted after such a day.”
“There’s no better time than the present.” Looking none too pleased, he eyed his sister sternly. “Ella, you will not interfere. Is that understood?”
“Yes, sir.” Without another word Ella began clearing the table.
Josephine remained quiet. Obviously Logan took his role as the man of the house very seriously, but in a much different way than Jed had.
Refusing to be intimidated by his massive size, she squared her shoulders and followed him through the living room down a narrow hallway and into a room with a huge desk and a variety of chairs. Hard-covered books sat on a shelf. A bottle and some glasses were on a small table along with a box of cigars. The room held a pleasant manly scent.
He motioned for her to sit in the chair closest to the desk. “You seem to have found a champion in Ella.” He rested one hip against the corner of the desk and crossed his arms.
Josephine folded her hands in her lap. He sounded quite courteous. This interrogation may not be as bad as she feared. “Your sister is very sweet and compassionate. She told me about your parents and how you raised her all by yourself.”
“Ella was almost nine when they passed,” he replied. “I can’t take much credit. She got to be more of a tomboy under my guidance. I let her rope and ride and shoot. Some of the women in town frowned upon the way she acted and dressed. They tried to convince me that I wasn’t being fair to her and I should send her off to a school for young ladies. I worried that I was being selfish by keeping her here, but when I suggested it to Ella, she cried and begged me to let her stay here.”
He crossed his arms over his chest and shrugged. “I couldn’t send her away. As she grew older, her interests changed. Pants and gun were set aside for dresses and other female trappings.”
“You’re a nice man and a good brother.”
Logan didn’t want her compliments. He wanted her in his bed. “I love my sister, Josephine, make no mistake about that, but I’m far from being a nice man.” His voice lowered to a whisper. “I’ve had a hard-on ever since I saw your gorgeous ass. Nothing would please me more than to fuck you right now. I’d strip you bare and put you over my knee. I’d spank your ass until you begged for mercy. Then I’d press my face between your legs and do things to you with my tongue that would make your hair curl. Does that sound like a nice man?”
Logan eagerly waited for her reaction. Would she crumble to the floor in a faint or make a run for the door? His heart pounded in his chest. He hoped she did neither.
Josephine’s full pink mouth formed an O. Clearly he had shocked her with his bawdy talk, but she remained seated. Little Miss Josephine was indeed an innocent, but not faint of heart. He admired her spirit.
Normally he stayed away from virgins, but Josephine had struck a possessive chord in him. He longed to be the first to explore her body and teach her all the delights her flesh had to offer.
Shocked that he would reveal his attraction toward her in such a forward fashion, Josephine squirmed in her seat. She had always considered herself a lady, yet he had stirred her curiosity with those bold words.
Instead of thinking about a way to get out of this predicament, she kept envisioning Logan’s dark head between her legs. Why, she’d never heard of such a thing so depraved.
He was staring at her expectantly and Josephine realized that she hadn’t answered his question. “What I meant to say is that you’re a nice brother. It’s obvious that you dote on your sister and take good care of her. Not all of us are so blessed with a caring family. M-my aunt who just passed away about a week ago was a kind soul. She was all the family I had in the world. My uncle is still alive, but that’s another story.”
Logan frowned. “What about your parents? Are they dead or was that another tall tale?”
“I have no idea if my parents are alive or dead. I never knew my father and my mother worked in a saloon on the far side of town. She’d drop me off at her sister’s house every night and wouldn’t get me until late afternoon the next day. Then one day she just didn’t show up. Jed, that’s my uncle’s name told me she left with a man.”
“You call your uncle by his first name?”
“That’s disrespectful. Does he have any idea where you are?”
“No, he doesn’t and I’d like to keep it that way and furthermore, he doesn’t deserve my respect.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Trust me, he doesn’t care.”
“Why would you say that?”
“Because he let me know from the beginning that I was a nuisance and we weren’t blood related. The only relative who ever really cared for me was my aunt and now she’s gone. I have nobody.”
“So, is that the reason you decided to run afoot around the countryside dressed like a boy because you resent the fact that he doesn’t love you?”
“I’ve accepted his disdain long ago. I told you before. It wasn’t my intent to pretend to be a boy. I took his clothes because they were practical.” She paused a moment. “His advances are what terrified me. I had to leave.”
“He made sexual advances toward you?”
She blushed. “Yes.”
“I’m sorry you had to go through such a horrendous ordeal. If he happens to come sniffing around here, don’t worry. I’ll see that he leaves you alone.”
His obvious concern made her feel all warm and gooey inside.
“It sounds like you and your aunt were very close,” he remarked softly.
Josephine sniffed. “We were.” Tears burned the backs of her eyes.
He slid from the desk and slowly approached her. “Surely there was someone you could have confided in instead of taking off on your own with no thoughts of how you would defend yourself or survive?”
“There is someone but I would have placed her in danger. You don’t understand. My uncle is a mean man.”
“Well, I suppose you’re my responsibility now.”
That was the opening she needed to plead her case. “But I don’t have to be. Lend me a horse and I’ll be on my way. I promise once I get a job I’ll pay back every cent I owe you.”
His mouth flattened in disapproval. “No can do.”
Josephine wanted to pull her hair out. “But why?”
Why, because he ached for her… bad. The blue dress with a square neckline showed off the smooth mounds of her breasts, tempting him to dip his tongue between and seek out her nipples. He wondered if they were a pale pink or a deep rose. Her slender body was curved in all the right places. He wanted her over his knee again. He wanted to push his fingers inside her pussy and thumb her dark hole.
“Why, Logan?” She made a sweeping gesture with her hand. “By the looks of this house you don’t need the money.”
Hearing his name fall from her lips made his cock swell. He cleared his throat. “The money isn’t important; it’s the principle of the thing. You wouldn’t learn a lesson if I let you go.”
“And what lesson is that?”
“That lying and stealing is wrong. You need a spanking, Josephine.”
Her heart thumped wildly in her chest. “This is utterly ludicrous and outright immoral,” she managed to say without stuttering. “You have no right to punish me. You are not my father or my husband.”
“You should be thankful. Besides, a spanking is not immoral.”
“A bare bottomed one is,” she countered hotly.
“That’s merely your opinion. Right now it’s my opinion that counts, not yours.” Yep, if looks could kill he’d be dead. She didn’t even try to disguise her insolence and that made him harder. “It’s clear you haven’t had much discipline in your life.”
“How dare you question my upbringing? Aunt Hedy was a saint.”
The corner of his mouth twitched. He admired her spunk and sass. “In your case I’m sure she had to be and, from how you speak so fondly of her, I would guess she never taught you to steal or lie.” He straightened to his full height. “You need a man strong enough to take you in hand.”
She tipped her chin. “And I suppose you think of yourself as that man?”
“I most certainly do.” Logan leveled her with a stare. “And I do not go back on my word.” In an instant their positions were reversed. He now sat in the chair holding her face down over his lap. The gentle weight of her body pressed clear through to his jeans.
With a growl he grabbed a handful of her dress and tossed it over her back. Her bloomers landed at her ankles. She fought like a wildcat. His blood heated. When she reached around to slap at him, he caught both wrists in his left hand and threw a leg over both of hers.
She flailed about like a fish out of water.
“I only spank on the bare, young lady, otherwise you’d never feel it wearing all these female fripperies. If that’s what you consider immoral, too bad. It’s not as if I’m seeing your bare backside for the first time.”
“Mr. West, you are no gentleman.”
He ran his hand over her pale buttocks. “And it sure is nice to see you’re not one either. Twenty smacks should do it and I intend to count each one.”
Twenty? The first swat descended without warning. Josephine hissed as a line of fire spread across her bare backside. Bare backside! This was not proper. He was the one who should be thrown in jail for assault. She had half a mind to tell the sheriff and demand the arrest of Logan West.
It sounded all so good until she’d be asked to explain how he had abused her and why. Josephine didn’t relish adding horse thievery to stealing. Besides, the sheriff would no doubt take Logan’s side since she was already considered a criminal. Oh, the indignity of it all.
His hand slammed down again and she gasped. Another quickly followed then another. The sting became more and more unbearable and she cried out. The next whack caught her sit spot.
“Logan, Mr. West, please stop, it hurts so bad.”
“A spanking is supposed to hurt. I will not tolerate lying and stealing, Josephine. It’s best you learn that lesson now so you don’t repeat it. Two months under my roof is a long time.”
Two months? She’d never make it. “Aren’t we at twenty yet?”
“Nope. Ten more to go.” He slapped her flesh with firm intent.
“You’re such a bully.” Tears fell down her face and she sniffled while he voiced the final count. She didn’t have the strength or desire to move. She didn’t even care anymore that he had a full view of her bare backside.
Josephine groaned. Her skin must be as red as a tomato, but the stirring between her legs was more troublesome.
Logan turned her over and settled her on his lap. He tucked her head under his chin. He stroked her hair and swore he’d protect her from her uncle and always keep her safe from harm.
When her sobbing slowed to an occasional hiccup, he slipped a finger under her chin. “Now, was that so bad?” Her eyes shimmered and he wiped away a lone tear that slipped down her cheek.
“What are you doing to me? I feel very peculiar.”
“It’s called passion. Is it a pleasant feeling?” She averted her eyes.
Encouraged, he brushed his mouth over hers. Her lips were soft and tasted like the sweetest nectar. Logan tamped down the primal desire to carry her to his bed and spread her out to satisfy his lust. “Tell me, do you prefer to keep your hair short?”
“No, but Aunt Hedy would have to cut it when it grew past my shoulders. Jed preferred it that way.”
Logan tensed. If he ever got his hands on the man he’d kill him. “As of now your situation regarding how you will pay the debt you owe has changed. You won’t be doing chores outside with the men. Since you and Ella seemed to have gotten close in a matter of hours, I think you’ll be a big help to her while she prepares for her wedding. That’ll go toward the debt you owe.”
“When is the wedding?”
Damn, she felt so good, so right in his arms. “Two weeks away.”
She pulled back and looked at him through watery eyes. “When I’ve paid you back in full, you will let me go?”
Her words made him want to turn her over his knee again and spank her until she agreed to stay right here with him. Share his life. Share his bed. Her eyes were wide and the pleading in her voice cut deep. How could he let her go? She was his.
She eyed him expectantly.
“While you are here you will obey my every word. It’ll be yes, sir or no, sir. You will not cross me.” He set her on her feet and resisted the urge to smack her ass. “Go to bed.” He waited until she reached the door. “Do not cut your hair again.”
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