Carly Morgan clutched the crumpled scrap of paper tightly, trying to spread it out on the steering wheel and get rid of the creases enough to make it readable. The hastily scrawled note had been virtually illegible when the handsome stranger had first given it to her and now, nearly a whole year later, faded, worn and torn after so long stuffed in the back of her wallet, it was next to impossible to read. Growling in frustration, she threw it on the floor.
This was the road—it had to be. The signpost had long gone and the tarseal had turned to gravel ages ago. It was the only road around for miles. Narrow and winding. Leading to the middle of nowhere.
She could distinctly remember the turn left at the fork and head for the hills instruction spoken in that low, rumbly tone that even now, months later, made her stomach clench. This was the only fork in the road she’d come to in the better part of an hour and behind it were stunning hills. Foothills of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, with the snow-capped peaks of the mountains themselves beyond, towering above the valley. They were majestic, beautiful. It was gorgeous countryside out here, even if it was in the middle of nowhere.
Her mind went back to last year, when she’d first met her handsome saviours. She’d been desperate, waiting on the side of the deserted road for hours. The GPS she’d been following had taken her on this shortcut that really wasn’t, there was no cell phone coverage, and she’d discovered, too late, that her brand-new work car didn’t have a jack. She’d been beginning to wonder if she’d have to spend the night there. She’d spent the night in worse places and at least there was a stunning view.
The road had been so deserted that when the dust cloud thrown up by the battered red Ute with the huge wheels had slowly got bigger and bigger, she’d thought she was seeing things. Until she’d heard the rumble of the engine getting closer and closer. It had pulled up behind her and three big men, her heroes, had gotten out. Brothers, from Ryan’s Peak Station back in the hills. They’d all been tall, broad-shouldered, lean and muscular, and ruggedly handsome, and they’d made short work of changing her tyre. She’d stood on the side of the road and chatted to them as they worked, and casually mentioned that she wouldn’t mind seeing a high country station one day. “It must be so romantic!” she’d commented dreamily. They’d chuckled at that, all of them, but hadn’t corrected her. One of them, a part-Maori man, the tallest of the three, had invited her to the local pub with them for a drink, but she’d politely declined. She had to carry on, she’d said. She’d wasted enough time, stuck out here in the middle of nowhere; she wanted to be back in the city before dark. So they’d gone on without her, but not before another one of them had pressed a piece of paper into her hand.
“Here,” he’d told her. “How to find us.” The wink he’d given her had turned her insides to mush and she’d regretted her hasty refusal to have a drink with them, but before she could change her mind he’d gotten back into the Ute and they’d roared off, dust flying up behind them, and she’d been all alone once more.
“This has to be it,” she murmured to herself, taking the left fork. “Oh, well, here goes nothing.”
As well as being so dusty that tiny particles of dirt came in through the vents and stuck to her face and hair, the road was potholed and rutted. Her sedan wasn’t small, but it didn’t have big wheels like the Ute she remembered, and it jolted and bumped. She slowed to a crawl. “Damn, this road is awful!” she muttered, gripping the steering wheel tighter to navigate around the holes.
The road seemed to go on forever. What was it the barely readable directions said? 12ks? Surely she’d driven that far? She glanced down at the speedo: bang on snail’s pace. It would take a fair while to drive twelve kilometres at that speed.
She kept going.
And then she stopped, amazed. Just over the brow of the hill, to the right, the valley opened up to the most spectacular view she’d ever seen. A waterfall crashed over a cliff to splash into a little pool below. A stream meandered along the valley floor. Cattle were scattered along the river flats. Green grazing gave way to crops further back, with the hills turning into tussock beyond that. To her left the Southern Alps loomed, the snow-capped mountains standing forbidding and powerful. She was stunned. She’d lived in New Zealand her whole life. How had she not known places like this existed?
Forcing her eyes back to the road, she carried on. It couldn’t be much further now, surely?
Just around the next bend a narrow driveway went off to the left. Ryan’s Peak Station, according to the wooden sign standing tall and proud in the paddock. Was this it? It had to be! Butterflies in her tummy tried to make their escape as she steered the car over the cattle stop, bracing herself for the bumpy rumble. What was she going to do if this wasn’t the place? What if it turned out she’d come all this way for nothing?
Her clammy palms slipped on the steering wheel, but there was nothing she could do but keep on driving. Fences on either side of the driveway made it impossible to turn around and she wasn’t much chop at backing. Never had been. As long as she was going forward, she was a perfectly fine driver. But backwards… That had never made sense to her. And she certainly wasn’t going to attempt reversing over the cattle stop. Not when there were concrete barriers on either side just sitting there, waiting for her to hit. No. She’d rather take her chances with what was at the end of the driveway. She held her breath as she inched forward.
There were trees up ahead. The roof of a house was just visible through the leaves. On this side stood a huge shed, a corrugated iron monstrosity that had no doors and appeared to house myriad agricultural equipment. She recognised a tractor, but that was about it. Everything else inside was completely foreign to her. She swallowed nervously. She was so far out of her depth here. Why had she even come? What made her think they would even remember her? They probably rescued dozens of damsels in distress from off the side of the road.
Pulling up in front of the shed, she put the car into neutral and killed the engine. A little yappy dog, fox terrier by the looks of things, darted out of the shed, alerting the world to her arrival in the noisy way only dogs can. A part-Maori man, as tall and striking looking as she remembered, appeared through a gap in the trees before she’d even opened the door. He stood there with his arms crossed, just looking at her. Glaring, almost. A direct challenge in his dark eyes, daring her to get out of the car and face him, but at the same time demanding that she turn around and go back from whence she came.
Taking a deep breath, she opened the door and stepped out. There was a shrill whistle and the little dog left his sniffing of her car, scurrying back to the security of the shed.
“We’re not selling.” His voice was harsh, cold. Nothing like the carefree rumble she remembered on the side of the road.
She flashed him a smile. “I’m not buying.”
“So why are you here?”
Two more men appeared; one came from behind him, through the gap in the trees, presumably, and the other one came out of the huge shed, the little dog at his heels. He wore his blue overalls as pants, the top half hanging down around his waist, the sleeves tied loosely around him, a singlet that had possibly once been white, but was now stained mostly grey, the only thing covering his broad chest. His shoulders were huge, biceps well defined. Grease was smeared across his face. Even from a distance she could see the dirt in his scruffy blond hair. He was a mess. But her heart skipped a beat at the sight of him. He was a mighty fine specimen of manhood. He rested his hand up on the side of the shed and leaned against it, a casual stance that made the muscles in his arm flex. She felt his eyes on her, looking her up and down. He winked, a half-smile creeping slowly across his clean-shaven but very grubby face. There was a dimple right in the middle of his chin.
She racked her brain, trying to remember his name, all of their names. They’d all introduced themselves; they’d had quite a chat on the side of the dusty road, all those months ago. Clearly, a lot had happened since then. For all of them, her included.
The man at the back stepped forward. Josh. She remembered his slight limp. Although still a good six feet tall, he was the shortest of the three men, the leanest, a bit finer built. The grin he flashed her suggested he knew exactly who she was, and perhaps even why she’d come.
“I remember you,” he said simply. “The lady from the side of the road. Last year. We were on our way to the pub. A Friday night.”
A small tremor went through her as their eyes locked. She smiled. “That’s right.”
Josh pushed past the taller man blocking his way, rather roughly, she thought, using his shoulder as a bulldozer with just a bit too much force. He strode forward, stopped a bit too far away from her, extended his hand.
She had to step forward to shake it. His hand enclosed around hers, squeezed, held on just a fraction too long. She remembered his eyes, a startling blue. She couldn’t tear her gaze away.
“I wondered if we’d ever see you again.” His voice rumbled over her, as reassuring now as it had been then. There was a soft gentleness lurking in the rich baritone, a tender quality that immediately put her at ease and made her feel safe.
“Carly! That’s your name, isn’t it?” The man who’d spoken first, the one who’d been so keen to make sure she knew Ryan’s Peak wasn’t for sale, stepped forward. Now that he knew that she wasn’t in the market for the property his bearing was relaxed, far less imposing and intimidating than it had been at first. He was still a big man, tall, broad, muscular, and he set her heart racing just with his looks and his sheer physical presence.
He stuck out his hand. “I’m Davo.”
The strength of his grip, the calluses on the base of his fingers, the leathery texture of his rough palm as his hand closed around hers, all confirmed the first impression she had of him. This man meant business.
The last man let go of the shed and came over too. Close up, he was even more handsome than what she remembered. And even grubbier than she’d first thought.
“I’m Mike,” he said. Like the men before him he reached out to shake hands with her, glanced down at his grease-covered palm, wiped it on the leg of his overalls, inspected it, then let it drop to his side with a sheepish grin that made her insides squirm with lust. “I’m the one who actually changed your tyre.”
Without moving, she returned his grin. “I remember. You were a bit cleaner then, though.” She cocked her head to the side and looked at him, taking in the dirt and grease, the sculpted muscles, the fine-looking body that she just knew was underneath the clothes. “From memory, you scrubbed up alright.”
He swept both hands up and down his body before winking rakishly. “Are you saying there’s something wrong with the way I look now?”
Carly hesitated, one eyebrow raised. “Well… you’re not exactly clean, are you?”
He shrugged. “Clean’s overrated.”
She couldn’t help but laugh. “Dirty does look good on you.”
Mike chuckled, a husky, throaty laugh that made her laugh even more. “You sound like our kind of girl.” He waved toward the gap in the trees. “Come inside, have a beer. It’s nearly knock-off time anyway.”
Nursing her beer, Carly stood at the huge sash window with the colourful stained glass at the top, looking out over the lawn. It was much bigger than she’d expected it would be, and the garden edging it looked a bit rundown and neglected now, but had clearly been well loved for many years. Beyond the lawn were green paddocks and beyond that, the mountains. Peaceful. Serene. Perfect for writing her grandma’s memoir that she’d been dreaming of doing for years. Perfect for healing. If only they would let her stay…
“So.” It was Josh who spoke, his startling blue gaze looking her up and down. “We made quite an impression on you, too, huh?” He winked, sending a bolt of electricity shooting through her. Impression was an understatement. Truthfully, she’d tried so hard to force the men from her mind. She’d gotten on with her life in the city, carried on with her job as top sales rep for a multinational corporation, led an active social life. But the whole time, the ruggedly handsome men she’d met on the side of the road stayed there in the back of her mind, just out of reach, unsettling her busy city life. And then when everything had turned on its head, leaving her broken, bruised, and destroyed, she knew this place, its remoteness and solitude, would be perfect to help her heal.
She felt herself blush, just slightly, at Josh’s words. They had made an impression on her, absolutely! There was no denying that.
“Well, you obviously kept those directions and came here specially. With us being this far off the beaten track it’s not like you were just passing through,” he pointed out.
“You got me,” she admitted. She turned to focus on the men, leaning back against the solid wooden windowsill. “I got made redundant at my job and I just thought…” How much should she actually tell them? She didn’t want to lie, but she couldn’t tell them the truth. Not yet. Maybe not ever. She took a deep breath. “I thought this would be the perfect place to do something I’ve wanted to do for years—write my great-grandmother’s memoir. It’s beautiful here, peaceful… perfect.” It wasn’t a lie—she did want to write the memoir. But most important, it gave her a cover for the memories she was trying to escape from. Something to focus on, to really throw herself into, might silence the flashbacks that tormented her soul.
“Ah. You want to use us,” Mike piped up.
“No!” she denied quickly, hotly.
“Maybe we like being used?” Davo said, innuendo heavily lacing his tone.
Her face felt hot. She’d been blushing before, but now… spasms rocked her pussy at Davo’s words. Now blushing was an understatement. If her face got any hotter, she’d burst into flames.
“I do find it slightly concerning that you came all the way out here by yourself.”
At Josh’s stern tone, Carly glanced up at him. He had one eyebrow raised in a frown of disapproval, his arms folded across his chest. Her heart skipped a beat.
“So do I,” Mike told her. “It was a very reckless, dangerous choice you made, coming all this way by yourself. There’s no cell phone coverage, you have no way of calling for help if you need to.” He glowered down at her fiercely, his arms-folded-against-his-chest stance mirroring Josh. She shrank back slightly under his stern stare.
“How did you know we aren’t axe murderers?” Davo growled, his deep, rumbly voice clearly conveying his displeasure. “Or rapists, or some other unsavoury characters?”
“I met you,” Carly pointed out, lifting her chin defiantly, bravely looking each one of the men in the eye. “I would have known, on the side of the road, if you weren’t good men. My instincts about that sort of thing are never wrong.”
“I see.” Davo stepped closer to Josh and Mike and crossed his arms across his chest too, forming a bulky, masculine barrier in the middle of the room, just a few steps away from her. All three men fixed their eyes on her, their expressions stern. They oozed alpha male dominance. “So what are they telling you now?” Davo asked.
Carly’s heart pounded. She opened her mouth. Closed it again. The air was too thick to breathe; she couldn’t form words. The line of men directly in front of her heightened all her senses, set her nerve endings on fire. They were so hot. All of them. Individually, they were sexy men. But together, united in their stern unhappiness about her recklessness, they were like molten lava. An avalanche of deliciousness she couldn’t tear her eyes away from.
Then she remembered what, exactly, had brought her here in the first place. The cute grin, the rakish wink, as he’d handed her the hastily scrawled note. The sexy voice that had washed over her as he’d pressed the scrap of paper to her palm, closed her fingers around it. “Here. How to find us.” The message had been clear.
“Hang on a minute.” Her hands automatically went to her hips, glaring at each of the men in turn, before pointing at Josh. “You were the one who gave me that note. Instructions on how to find you. Your intentions were very clear. And now you have the audacity to scold me for following directions?” She shook her head. “I don’t think so.”
The line of men took a step forward, their folded arms still pressed against their broad chests. The sinewy forearms, rippling muscles, now that much closer to her. She swallowed a lungful of heavy air. They were intimidating, imposing. But she wasn’t cowed. She’d worked in sales for too long to back down easily.
“Audacity has nothing to do with it, young lady,” Josh rumbled.
“It’s your safety we’re concerned about,” Mike added. “You should have brought someone with you, at the very least. For safety.”
“You were reckless, darlin’,” Davo growled. “And recklessness deserves a scolding.”
The ‘young lady’ bit got her hackles up, but it made her tummy flip in excitement at the same time. Her nipples suddenly felt too sensitive against the soft fabric of her bra. The air around her was electric.
Back and forth they went, taking turns to scold her some more. She tuned out their words, but their stance and their stern tones made her weak in the knees and her legs turn to jelly. Heat shot to her core.
“What do you have to say for yourself, Carly?”
“I… uh…” She didn’t even know who spoke, but the question remained unanswered, lingering between them in the heavy air. She didn’t have anything to say for herself. She didn’t have anything to say at all. And even if she did, her mouth was too dry to form the words. Her spine tingled. Her pussy ached with need. These incredibly sexy, dominant men were unlike any other men she’d ever encountered in her entire life. They were way outside of her experience of almost a decade in the business world—and she’d met thousands of people in that time. These men were something else. They left her speechless, powerless, and wanting.
“Well?” Josh demanded. “We’re waiting.”
She shook her head, looked at the floor. She wished it would open up and swallow her whole, right then. They made her feel like a small, naughty child. But at the same time, they turned her on so much. Could they notice her arousal? She hoped not. How embarrassing! She wanted to leave, but she wanted more at the same time. It didn’t make any sense. None of this did. She was totally confused.
“I don’t know,” she whispered. She held her breath. The room was still, the tick-tock of the ancient grandfather clock in the corner the only sound.
“Okay, let me ask you another question.” Josh again. “You didn’t even ring, you just rocked up. By yourself.” He glared at her as he said the last two words. “How did you know we would even be here? And what would you have done if we weren’t?”
Finally, a question she could answer. Taking a deep breath, she straightened up, pulled back her shoulders, lifted her chin defiantly, and looked Josh straight in the eye. “Easy,” she said. “I couldn’t read the phone number, the paper got all creased in my wallet and it was virtually illegible. But I couldn’t get you guys out of my mind. I just had to come. So I took the risk. Yes, silly, I know—I’ve just spent the last several minutes listening to you all explaining to me how silly it was—but I had to do it. I couldn’t not! If you weren’t here, I would have just turned around and left again.” She shrugged, trying to portray how much she really wouldn’t have cared if this turned out to be a wasted trip. “No big deal. My flatmates haven’t replaced me yet and I have nowhere else to be.”
“So you don’t mind turning up at strangers’ houses unannounced?” Mike asked.
Carly’s mouth turned up at the corners in a slight smile. He seemed so shocked by the idea that she found it amusing. Did he really think she was so helpless and shy, like a scared little bunny? She wasn’t sure whether to be insulted, or brush it off as cute and caring.
“Of course not!” she told him. “I worked in sales for years. Turning up at strangers’ houses, and heaps of different businesses unannounced, was my job. It was what I did every single day. It’s truly no big deal to me.”
“It’s not safe,” Josh growled.
Carly shrugged. “I never came to any harm.”
The stare Josh levelled on her was so stern, so dominant, so sexy, a ripple of lust went through her right from her head all the way to her toes.
“I’d say you were lucky.”
There was silence for a moment as sparks of electricity zinged through the room, the air so alive it was almost crackling. Her skin tingled. Her breasts tightened even more, so sensitive that the lace of her bra now felt almost as rough as sandpaper.
“So this memoir you want to write. Is that the only reason you came here?” Once again, Davo’s question was full of innuendo. Carly bit her lip as she felt her face flame even hotter. How much more could she blush before she self-combusted?
“Uh… no,” she admitted. “I think this place will be perfect to allow me to do that, but no. That’s not solely why I came.” She fidgeted nervously, tapping her fingers against the side of her beer bottle.
“Why was it?” Mike demanded. “The truth, Carly.”
“I couldn’t stop thinking about you,” she admitted. “All of you.”
There was total silence as the men digested her words. Carly held her breath.
“All of us?” Mike asked.
“Yes,” she breathed, her whisper so quiet, it was a wonder the men heard it. Cautiously, she looked up, meeting each of their eyes in turn. Josh’s startling blue eyes were electric. Davo’s smouldered with passion. Mike’s glinted dangerously.
“So you’d want to share us?” Mike’s voice was husky. “Interesting. We’ve never shared a woman before.”
“But we’d be willing to give it a go,” Davo announced.
“Yes,” Josh agreed. “We know plenty of ways to pleasure a woman.” He winked rakishly at her, making her heart flutter wildly. “I think you’ll be satisfied, here with us.”
To avoid answering, Carly brought the beer bottle to her lips and tipped her head back, skulling the rest of the drink in one go. If her face got any hotter, it would burst into flames. She was used to far more subtle pickup lines, and far less dominant men. And three men at once? Holy hell. That hadn’t even been what she’d been thinking, not really, but now that they’d mentioned it… she squirmed at the wetness gushing between her legs, the pounding of her racing heart. Three men? The idea of that was smouldering hot. Much hotter than the plan she’d had, of getting to know them all then take her pick of the best one. No, three men at once was much better than that.
“We’d expect you to follow our rules, though,” Mike told her.
“And submit to our punishment if you don’t,” Davo added.
She froze, beer bottle still up to her lips, and almost choked on the bitter beverage. “What?” she spluttered, absolutely dumbfounded. “What did you just say? Something about rules? And punishment?”
She didn’t know which one of the men spoke. It could have been any of them. They all exuded the same masculine, dominant alpha male aura as they stood there, shoulder to shoulder. They all wore stern, but sexy expressions. The chemistry in the room was electrifying. She wanted to be outraged. She wanted to throw down her beer and stalk out of the room in disgust. To turn around and leave. But she couldn’t. Something about the way they’d taken it in turns to scold her and leave her pussy wet and clenching made her stay right where she was.
“You do know I’m a grown woman,” she pointed out. “I don’t need rules.”
“Yes, you’re a grown woman,” Mike agreed. “A very beautiful one. And if you’re going to stay here, with us, we’re going to enjoy making you into our woman.” The emphasis he put on the word our left her in no doubt what he had in mind. They were clearly thinking of much more than simple companionship.
“We’ll take care of you,” Davo said. “Of all your needs.” The rakish wink he gave her left her in no doubt as to which of her needs he was talking about, specifically.
“And there will be rules,” Josh insisted. “But they’ll be to keep you safe. Things are a lot different up here to what they are in the city. Your safety will be our priority.”
“As will your pleasure,” Mike added. “Sometimes we might make rules to enhance your sexual gratification.” He paused, then winked, before adding, “And ours.”
“And you will be punished if you break our rules,” Davo said sternly. “No matter what they are.”
Carly wasn’t sure whether to turn and run or stay right where she was. Her head told her to run. Her traitorous body, pussy dripping with her juices, clammy palms trembling with excitement, pounding heart, lungs near bursting from being unable to breathe the thick air, told her to stay. The way the men spoke, one after the other without a break, unified them in a way she’d never experienced before. It was like they’d rehearsed this before but she knew they hadn’t. Their masculine dominance had her captivated, hook, line, and sinker. Together, they made her world spin on its axis.
She couldn’t leave. She knew that if she did, she’d never, for the rest of her life, get this encounter out of her mind and she’d always regret not staying to see where it led. Because right now, it sounded very, very intriguing.
She took a deep breath and steeled herself, flicking her hair around her shoulders with a gentle toss of her head, plastering a flirtatious smile on her face. She looked each of the men in the eye, briefly, in turn.
“So what rules did you have in mind, then?” she asked. “And what punishments?”
All three men broke into a grin at exactly the same time, smiles lighting up their eyes, laughter lines relaxing their faces and making them look even more sexually appealing.
“That can all be discussed,” Mike drawled, his voice husky with arousal. The eyes he fixed on hers shone with passion. He’d taken off his overalls and stood before her now in a filthy singlet and stubbies. She tore her eyes from his and let her gaze travel down his body instead, taking in the grease, the muscles, the bulge at the front of his shorts. A shiver rippled its way down her spine.
She swallowed. Nodded at the three men. “I’m in.”
The station homestead was huge. Much bigger than it looked from the road, or even from the huge open plan kitchen/living area where they’d spent most of their time since she got there. None of the men bothered to show her around. “There’ll be time for all that tomorrow,” they’d said. Instead, they’d unloaded her car and brought everything upstairs for her, into a huge bedroom that didn’t look as if it had been entered in years, winked rakishly at her, and told her that if she still felt the same way in the morning, that she wanted to stay on their terms, they had a deal.
Now she lay in bed, her heart still pounding. What had she gotten herself into? Was she doing the right thing? Sure, she could leave at any time, but she wasn’t a quitter. She hadn’t been so successful in sales by quitting when the going got tough. When she started something, she stuck it out. So, if she decided to stay here, if she decided to listen to her body and not her head and surrender to these irresistible, sexy men, she wasn’t going to run away. She’d be in, boots and all, up for everything they had to offer her, everything they wanted to do to her. No matter what.
The house was spooky. Unfamiliar environments often were, especially in the dark, but this was more than that. It was creepy. It was old. It smelt musty, like rotten leaves. Cobwebs in the corners of the room, and dangling from the elaborate glass lightshade overhead, swayed gently in the breeze from the open window. She’d left the curtains open so she could lie in bed and look out at the night sky, counting the stars, and the moonlight illuminated everything in the room just enough to give it an eerie glow. Just enough to make it look like there were eyes peering out from every nook and cranny, watching her.
The house creaked. A floorboard, perhaps? Followed by a long, loud crack. She gasped, held her breath, stuffed her fist into her mouth so she wouldn’t scream. She would not scream. Not on her first night here. Not when the sexiest men she’d met in ages were just down the hall. This was just the noise old houses made. It was normal. She repeated the words in her head, over and over, trying to calm her racing heart.
She was too scared to shut her eyes because she knew, the second she did, the same images she saw every night—her best friend lying on the ground, her pale face, raspy words, the streak of blood down her face—would haunt her. But at the same time, she was too scared to keep them open. This house was spooky. She wasn’t sure which was worse—the visions that haunted her when she shut her eyes, or the imagined spooks haunting the old house.
The house creaked and groaned again, another loud crack followed. It’s just the house cooling down, she told herself. Old houses do this. It’s what they do. At the same time, a gust of wind blew the curtains inward, spinning the dangling cobwebs. Somewhere in the house, a door banged. Carly screamed.
She heard running footsteps in the corridor a split second before her bedroom door burst open and Davo’s huge frame filled the doorway. Light from the hallway spilled into the room, his muscular, almost naked body casting a shadow across the floor. He was dressed only in tight boxers that left very little to her imagination. Even in her frightened, embarrassed state, she couldn’t help drooling. He was a mighty fine specimen of manhood. One of the best she’d seen. Even in the muted light, the outline of his muscles was visible.
“What happened?” he asked, sounding groggy. He’d clearly had no trouble sleeping.
“I… uh…” How could she admit to being scared of the dark? Of the strange noises in this old house? He would think she was a fruit loop. “Nothing,” she lied, her heart still pounding a million miles an hour. Her expression, or maybe her shaky voice, must have given away her fear because in an instant, Davo was beside her. He plucked her out of bed like she weighed nothing, holding her effortlessly against his body. She wrapped her arms around his neck and snuggled against him. In his arms, she felt safe. She barely knew this man, but somehow she knew he would keep her safe.
“You can come to bed with me,” he told her. “There’s nothing scary in my room. And if there is, I’ll chase it away.” He chuckled, the vibrations from his rumbling laughter strong against her neck.
He kicked the door closed behind them and lay her down on the bed. The dim light from the bedside table cast just enough glow for her to see the muscles flex in his thighs as he walked around to the other side of the bed. A tremble went through her. What was she doing?
The mattress sank beneath Davo’s weight as he settled himself next to her, there was a click, and the room was thrown into darkness. She held her breath.
“Go to sleep, little girl,” Davo rumbled softly. “You’re safe here with me, I promise.”
“Maybe I don’t want to be safe?” she whispered, but if Davo heard her, he didn’t let on. The perfect gentleman, he kept to his side of the bed, not reaching out so much as a finger to touch her. Instead, she listened as his breathing became slower and turned into gentle snores. Even asleep, his presence in the bed behind her was reassurance enough, and the spooky noises of the old house no longer frightened her. No ghosts of lingering ancestors could touch her here, with Davo beside her. Even the memories that normally came, flashing into her subconscious with astonishing regularity, stayed away. For the first time in what seemed like forever, her mind was blank, quiet, calm. She timed her breathing to match his and slowly relaxed, and eventually, sleep claimed her.
She woke up the next morning, rested after the best sleep she’d had in ages, to the mouth-watering smell of bacon frying and an empty bed. She reached out, sliding her hand over the sheet where Davo had slept beside her. It was cool. He’d obviously been up for hours.
She groaned. In the stark light of day, she felt like such a fool. What was she even doing here? This was such a bad idea. Yesterday, fuelled by bravado and relief not to be turned away after such a long drive, moving in with three men at once and being the live-in sex toy they’d alluded to, had seemed exciting and fun. Now it seemed crazy. Dangerous, even. It certainly didn’t feel sensible. It definitely wasn’t something her mother would approve of.
She should leave. Hell, she shouldn’t even have come. She’d find some other place to write, some other place to heal.
Decided now, she swivelled around on the bed to get up. She’d go and find some coffee, then she’d pack up her car. She’d thank the men for their hospitality and she’d…
“Ah, you’re awake.” The deep voice interrupted her plans. Mike was standing in the doorway to Davo’s room holding a tray bearing a steaming mug and a plate of what looked to be bacon and eggs. “Breakfast,” he announced. “And when you’re done, you and I are going outside to have a little chat about the state of your car.”
“My car?” She stood up, confused. What was wrong with her car? It had just driven hundreds of kilometres without missing a beat. Her car was fine. But before she could open her mouth to argue, Mike strode into the room, pushing her back onto the bed with nothing more than his presence, and put the breakfast tray in her lap.
“Eat first,” he told her. “Then we’ll talk.”
She looked at him, at the grease smeared across his brow, even at this early hour of the day. The roughness of his hands even more pronounced by the black ingrained into his skin. His scruffy blond hair was unruly, like he’d just pulled off a beanie.
She didn’t want to eat. She wanted to ask questions, she wanted him to clarify things. She wanted to get up and go. But his dominant presence in the room left her tongue-tied and shy, and she couldn’t. How could she disobey this man? Just the way he’d served her breakfast had been an order she’d been compelled to obey.
He stood in the doorway watching her, the corners of his mouth curving up in a half-smile, the dimple in his chin more pronounced in his relaxed state. Even at ease, it was impossible to miss the muscles lining his lean body. Her skin prickled under his watchful gaze as she brought a forkful of food to her mouth. This man, all of these men, were the sexiest men she’d met in… maybe ever. Leaving would be hard. Walking away from such gorgeous men, especially after what they’d promised to do to her, would be crazy. How would she tell her girlfriends in the city what she’d walked away from?
“I’ll be outside in the shed,” he drawled, turning away from her. “You come out when you’re ready. Bring your keys.” It was an order, and the stern look he shot her just before walking away was a clear warning—one that she wasn’t game enough to disobey. Especially before they’d had their discussion about rules and punishments.
The front door banged shut and she was left in silence, alone with her thoughts. She’d been so certain in her decision to leave, before breakfast, but after having Mike hand her a breakfast tray, and his close proximity reminding her of why she’d come in the first place, she wasn’t so sure. She’d come all this way…
The coffee was disgusting. Cheap instant crap, by the taste. After city barista-made espresso, it left a lot to be desired. But the sexpot who had handed it to her was far nicer to look at than the waiters in her favourite café. And his deep voice issuing orders had nearly been enough to make her swoon.
Maybe she’d better go and see what was wrong with her car. It was pretty much her only asset. If it was broken, she was screwed.
After dressing and rinsing her breakfast dishes and leaving them in the sink with the rest, she made her way outside, her stomach tying itself up in knots. She hadn’t hit anything without knowing, had she? There wasn’t an oil leak or anything?
Mike had his head deep in the bowels of an old tractor but as soon as he heard her, he jumped down from the wooden crate he was standing on and came out to her car. The little dog she’d seen yesterday came running out to greet her, running in circles around her feet and barking, but not getting close enough for her to touch.
“Get out of it, Goof,” Mike told him, and the little dog disappeared, scampering through the fence and away out of sight. Carly stared after him longingly. There had been a little dog like that at the place she’d kept her horse… Don’t think about that, her inner voice ordered. It’s in the past. Leave it there.
Mike stepped forward. “This tyre,” he said gruffly, bringing her back to the present and away from her memories. She looked up at him, he was pointing out the front driver’s side tyre. “I can’t believe you drove all this way on a tyre like that. Look at it! There’s canvas showing through!” She looked where he was pointing and reached forward to run her hand over the rubber.
“Don’t touch,” he warned gruffly, grabbing her wrist. “There’s wire poking through, you’ll get hurt. It’s a wonder that thing didn’t blow,” he growled, straightening up to fix her with a stern stare and releasing her wrist.
Electricity shot up her arm from his touch. The knot in her stomach wound itself tighter as Mike frowned down at her, scolding her in that deep, growly voice that made her feel like a naughty child.
“If you’d hit a sharp stone on that canvas you would have been a goner for sure!”
She gulped. Was the tyre really that bad? She had no idea!
“Give me your keys, Carly,” Mike commanded, stretching out his hand. “You’re not driving anywhere on that tyre—it’s not safe.”
Automatically, her fist tightened around the keyring she clutched in her fingers. She didn’t want to give up her keys. Especially not now that she’d decided to leave. She shook her head, almost imperceptibly.
“Look,” Mike growled. “You should be spanked for driving your car like that. It’s not safe! Remember what we said last night, about safety, rules, and consequences? This is a safety issue.”
He kept speaking, but she didn’t hear any more. Spanked was going round and round in her brain. Was that really what they’d meant by consequences? Surely not! The threat of being spanked by the sexiest men she’d ever come across was hardly going to act as a deterrent.
Lust pulsing through her, she gripped the keyring even tighter. Her fingers clutched the thin metal ring as tightly as her bottom clenched in response to Mike’s threat. Her gaze travelled slowly up his body, taking in the lean but powerful build. Heat shot to her core. She licked her lips.
“And if I don’t?” She deliberately kept a light, flirty lilt to her voice, and tipped her head to the side, flicking her hair back over her shoulder as she did so. “You’ll spank me? That’s pretty tempting, you know.”
Mike grinned, humour lighting up his face before he shook his head and forced away his amusement. She felt his whole demeanour change as he frowned. “There’s a vast difference between a good girl spanking and a bad girl spanking,” he growled. “A good girl spanking is the fun one. But what you’re chasing after is a bad girl spanking. Something reserved for naughty girls. You won’t like it at all, I promise you.”
Her tummy flipped. “You don’t know what I like,” she insisted sassily. Even as she said the words, she doubted her sanity. What was she doing, intentionally pissing off the very man who’d just threatened her, when she was all alone with him in the middle of nowhere?
There was a dangerous glint in his eyes as he pushed her up against the car door. Her heart pounded wildly as he manhandled her so easily, trapping her with a hand each side of her body.
“Shall we find out what you like?” he asked with a menacing grin.
Carly gulped. Her mouth was dry. This wasn’t quite going according to plan.
“You know, maybe I should just leave. This is a really bad idea.”
“I’ve already told you, you’re not going anywhere on that tyre,” Mike growled, his face just inches from hers. “You’ve got a death wish, do you?” He raised one eyebrow and looked down at her. A tremble rippled through her.
With her heart in her throat, she shook her head.
“Good. Then give me your keys. I’ll get your tyre replaced tomorrow. If you really want to leave, we’ll drive you into town. You can stay at the pub tonight until your car is sorted.”
Mike straightened up and stepped back and instantly, she relaxed. Having such a big, handsome man in such close proximity had been disconcerting, to say the least. Not that her traitorous body minded. The butterflies inside her were dancing, her breasts were tight and achy, and her pussy throbbed. Lust was winning out over sensibilities.
And then she remembered. “What about the spare?”
“No. It’s a space-saver. Those stupid little things are no good for these gravel roads. They’re only suitable for emergencies.”
“I’d say this classes as an emergency,” she breathed, her voice husky, soft. She tightened her grip on her keys even more, still refusing to hand them over.
“Keys, Carly.” It was a demand this time, quite a forceful one, and the stern look he gave her left her in no doubt that he expected to be obeyed.
She shook her head. “No.” Are you crazy? her inner voice screamed at her. But the sassy side of her laughed. The naughty side within her just had to keep pushing. She had to see what he would do; she couldn’t help herself. Clearly, she’d been alone for way too long. She couldn’t stop the smile that curved up the corners of her mouth. She knew her eyes were sparking with sass and she couldn’t help that, either. She was definitely crazy. Not very long ago, she’d been determined to leave. Now, not only was she not leaving, but she was deliberately winding up the very sexy, very stern man standing in front of her.
“You wanna be spanked?” Mike growled.
Did she? She didn’t know. Part of her did, but the other part, the sensible part, wasn’t so sure. But still, she kept a hold of her keys. If she was going to end up leaving, she may as well find out just what it was she’d be leaving behind.
“Fine. You can be spanked.” In one swift movement he spun her around and pressed her up against the side of the car, sprawled half across the bonnet. His palm landed against her butt, as hard as a board, with a loud crack that made her jump. The next smack was harder. The third one harder still.
Carly sucked in a breath. Her backside smarted where he’d smacked it. It had actually hurt! Far more than she’d expected it to. Her clingy skirt gave virtually no protection at all against his heavy hand.
“That’s only a fraction of the force at my disposal, little girl, and I’m quite prepared to use all of it, if necessary, to make you obey me.” As if to prove his point he spanked her again, even harder than before, the loud crack of his palm against her ass imparting the sting of a branding iron.
She hissed in pain, but couldn’t hold back a smile. Men had spanked her before, plenty of times—playful swats as part of foreplay, light smacks in jest—but never had a man been so dominant with her, and so ready to use actual force to bend her to his will. She liked it. Dominance emanated off him. Just those few swats had been enough to prove to her that he meant business. There was no doubt in her mind that he was capable of carrying out his threat.
We’ll enjoy making you into our woman. We’ll take care of you; of all of your needs. The words spoken last night echoed in her brain, tormenting her. How could she resist temptation like that? Her mother’s approval and common sense be damned. She couldn’t walk away from these men now. Not now that she knew they could give her what she’d always secretly craved: dominance, rules, and correction. Looking Mike right in the eye, she gave him the flirtiest smile she could muster. At the same time, she loosened the keys from her fist and dangled them in front of him.
“I think you’re my type of man,” she told him, reaching behind her to rub her stinging butt. “Are all three of you like this?”
“We are,” he told her with a wink. Before she could change her mind, he took hold of her keys and snatched them from her. “And you’re definitely our type of woman,” he said, his voice a low, husky growl. “I’ll return your keys tomorrow,” he told her, his voice returning to normal, without the hint of lust tinging it. “After I’ve replaced that tyre. If you need to go anywhere in the meantime, you let us know.”
Carly watched as he stuffed her keys deep into the pocket of his overalls, ensuring that she wouldn’t be driving anywhere any time soon. She swallowed a sigh as he turned back to the tractor, burying his head deep inside it again.
“I’ll leave you alone then,” she muttered, a bit miffed at being dismissed so effectively.
“You can stay and chat if you want to,” Mike invited, “but I’ve got work to do. I figured you’d want to go and get started on that book of yours. That’s the reason you’re here, isn’t it?” His head appeared above the tractor again, and he met her eye briefly, before looking down to the engine again, his arm moving as though he were turning something.
Carly had totally forgotten about the excuse she’d used to turn up unannounced, but it was true—she did want to write a book. It would be therapy of sorts. The peacefulness of the station would be the perfect place, just as she’d suspected.
“There’s a nice seat at the end of the garden,” he suggested, his head still buried deep inside the old tractor. “It’s under the trees. It’s quite a nice spot. It might work for you.”
“Thanks.” She turned and walked off, determined to channel the spirit of her ancestor while she had the chance.
How did one even go about writing a book? Carly didn’t know. And she didn’t know how to go about putting Mike and the spanking he’d given her out of her mind, either. How was she supposed to concentrate on remembering her great-grandmother when her bottom still tingled from when Mike had bent her over the bonnet of her car? How was she supposed to focus on anything when the feel of Mike’s strength as he’d bent her to his will was still imprinted on her brain? How was she supposed to ignore the fact that she had plonked herself right in the middle of the territory of three of the hottest, most dominant guys she’d ever met?
It had been her dream for a long time, to put her great-grandmother’s story into words, to immortalise the passion the woman had for her cause, the sacrifices she’d made for it. She’d been a radical back then, almost. And it would be a shame to let her memories be forgotten. But if Carly couldn’t make herself concentrate, forgetting her great-grandmother was exactly what was going to happen.
Sitting in the morning sun, on the garden seat Mike had suggested, Carly took a deep breath of the fresh high country air and closed her eyes. The peace of her surroundings washed over her and if she concentrated, she could remember her great-grandmother. She had only been a young child when the elderly woman had passed and the extent of her memories was of a rest home, an old, gnarled hand reaching out for hers, a gentle grip, old, wizened fingers putting lollies into her palm. Minties, mostly, sometimes barley sugars. For years after her death, the sound of a lolly being unwrapped had reminded her of Nana and the industrial-cleaner smell of the room that had been Nana’s home. Carly smiled. Remembering the old lady was doing exactly what she’d hoped it would—giving her the strength and the peace she needed to put her demons to rest. She didn’t know why the two things were intertwined for her—remembering and trying to forget—but they were.
Lost in her memories, Carly opened the notebook on her lap and scribbled down everything that came to mind when she thought of the old woman. Bullet points in random order, dates, anniversaries, names, places… she wrote them all down as they came to her, filling page after page.
“Do you ride?” Davo’s deep voice interrupted her musings.
Ride? Oh, hell. She hadn’t thought of that. Stupid! she mentally chided herself. This was a high country station—of course there would be horses! She froze, icy terror seeping through her veins, holding her still. Horses had been her life, once. But now…
“No.” The refusal was instant. She didn’t ride. Not anymore. She couldn’t. Not with the memories that still haunted her. She would probably never ride again.
“Oh.” Davo sounded disappointed. “I was going to saddle up Jack for you, show you some of the station. And get to know you a bit better.” He winked rakishly, clearly having something more interesting in mind than simply riding. “You interested in learning?”
She forced the fear from her face and looked up at him, flashing what she hoped passed for a smile, but shook her head. Even the thought of getting back on a horse made her palms sweat in fear. She couldn’t do it. Her mind took her back to that awful day…
“No!” It was a harsh command and she was speaking to the flashback, but the sexy smile had gone from Davo’s face, replaced by hurt.
“I’m sorry!” she cried, hoping she sounded sincere. “I didn’t mean to sound so…” She let the end of the sentence trail off. How could she explain her refusal without going into why? And she definitely wasn’t going into why. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
“Rude?” Davo suggested.
She sighed in relief. Rude wasn’t quite the word she’d been looking for, but under the circumstances, it would do. “Yes. Rude. I’m sorry. I was distracted and you interrupted me and I was startled.” The explanation sounded pathetic, but it was the best she could do.
The expression on Davo’s face was hard to read, but it looked like a cross between amusement, anger, and flirty. He crossed his arms in a manly, possessive stance and fixed her with that stern, confusing stare.
“Do you know what happens out here to women who are rude to their men?” His voice was a husky growl, dripping with innuendo.
Carly’s heart pounded. Heat shot to her core. Placing her notebook down on the seat beside her, she stood up as gracefully as she could. She couldn’t remain sitting where she was; he had too much of a height advantage over her that way. She met his eyes. Smiled slightly.
“If a conversation I had with Mike earlier is anything to go by, I’d say they get their asses smacked.” She licked her lips, letting him know she wasn’t totally averse to the idea. He was pretty hunky after all; she had no objection to such intimate, personal attention in the way of his palm smacking against her rear. Especially not after the taste Mike had given her had left her aching, wanting more.
“That they do,” Davo confirmed, lust dripping from his voice.
Carly’s eyes caught his and they stood there, silent, with the air throbbing between them. What was he going to do? Was he going to punish her snappishness?
She wanted to reach out and touch him, to stroke the dark stubble shadowing his jaw, but she refrained. She wasn’t quite brave enough to make the first move. Not yet. If something was going to happen between them, Davo was going to have to make it. She stood there, unable to tear her gaze away from his, while electricity prickled her skin. Could he feel this, too? Or was it just her?
She sucked in a breath as Davo’s thumb traced her cheek, drawing a scalding line from just beneath her eye to the concave at the base of her throat. The rough texture of his skin set all her senses alight.
“Well, you’ve had your one and only warning, darlin’,” Davo growled. “Next time, it’s a spanking.” He lowered his hand, leaving sparks dancing all by themselves down the line he’d touched on her face.
“You stay close to the house until we get back. We’ll be in at lunchtime,” he said.
“What should I make everyone for lunch?”
“Nothin’. You’re not here to wait on us.”
“I don’t mind,” she insisted. “Nobody likes a freeloader.”
Davo’s grin lit up his face, his eyes danced with passion. “Oh, you won’t be a freeloader, darlin’,” he assured her. “We’ve got plenty of plans to keep you busy.” With a wink, he turned away and sauntered off, leaving Carly alone and totally deflated.
How was she going to concentrate on writing now? She’d been so sure something was going to happen between them. Those sparks weren’t her imagination. And that look in his eyes as he’d stroked her face had been nothing but pure lust. How about those plans he’d mentioned, plans to keep her busy. They had her mind whirling. What sort of plans were they, exactly?
And now he was gone. Her body didn’t seem to know that, though; her breasts were all tight and achy and her simple cotton knickers were drenched. Forcing the men out of her mind and replacing them with her Nana was going to difficult.
Her heart was still pounding and her mouth was still dry when Davo disappeared through the gap in the trees, his shirt tight across his shoulders highlighting his muscular frame. The image she had of him in her mind’s eye made the air around her even thicker to breathe. It was wrong to picture him draping her over his dusty thigh and smacking her ass, wasn’t it? She couldn’t help wondering if he actually would make good on his threat. And if he did, would he make it hurt, like Mike had? Or would he do as every other man before him had done and just spank her playfully? Mike had already spelled out for her the difference between a good girl spanking and a bad girl one. Did she dare to tell them that the bad girl spanking was the one she craved?
No matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t concentrate on the memoir she was trying to write. If someone asked her about her great-grandmother right now, she wouldn’t even be able to tell them her name. She couldn’t remember the old lady’s birthdate. She couldn’t remember the first thing about her. All she could think of was Davo’s deep drawl in her ear, assuring her that they would keep her busy.
Sighing, she threw her notebook down onto the seat beside her. This was ridiculous. There was no way she could concentrate now; she had to do something to clear her head. As she carried her notebook and pen inside to put them away, she really noticed the old villa for the first time. She’d realised it was big last night, but without having the time to explore, she didn’t realise exactly how big it was. Her entire townhouse in the city would have fitted into just the open-plan kitchen, dining, living room, and that was only one small part of the house. A door at the back of the lounge that she hadn’t noticed last night led to a huge, cavernous room housing a full-size pool table. Cues hung on a rack on the wall behind it and the balls were scattered across the green velvet tabletop. French doors along the side wall opened onto a covered-in veranda. She couldn’t help but grin. Pool was something she was good at—working in sales for so long, drinking with men most nights after work, and visits to country pubs most weekends in the summer after competing at A&P shows had given her plenty of opportunity to perfect her technique over the years.
Could this place get any better? Three sexy, dominant men who promised her just what she’d always craved, and a pool table?
That familiar tight, achy feeling spread across her breasts again, and heat pooled in her core, as she thought of how the huge table might fit into their plans.
She shook her head. She had to get out of here. Being inside the house, seeing evidence of the men everywhere she looked, was driving her crazy. If she was to have any hope of getting any writing done, she needed to clear her head. She needed to get out into the fresh, crisp mountain air; she needed some exercise. She needed to go for a walk.
At the end of the lawn, a small wooden gate led into a paddock that, from where she stood, appeared empty. She’d been expecting to be surrounded by animals—this was a high country station after all—but so far, she hadn’t seen so much as a cat. Aside from Mike’s foxy that apparently spent all its time out in the machinery shed and chasing rabbits, there were no living creatures to be seen. Where were the sheep? The cows? The horses? Not that she wanted to see horses—she didn’t. Even seeing them from a distance brought back painful memories; memories that she’d worked hard to bury. But it would be quite nice to lean against a fence and watch some sheep. There was something peaceful about watching animals grazing. If she could do that, she might be able to push the men from her mind and focus on the book she was supposed to be writing instead.
She wandered along absently, admiring the gorgeous three-hundred-sixty-degree view of the mountains. Right now, snow dusted only the very tips of the distant alps, but it wouldn’t be long before all the closer tussock-covered ranges were white. Breathing in the fresh alpine air was so good for her soul. It was so unlike the thick, heavy air that had clogged her lungs in the dominant presence of Davo and Mike. Slowly, her mind cleared, and the spirit of her great-grandmother came back to her.
How long had she been walking? She had no idea. In any case, she’d forced the men from her mind and was ready to sit back down and focus on her book. Turning around, she had one last quick glance at the mountain valley over yonder then headed back the way she’d come, lost in the voices in her head telling her Nana’s story.
“Oi!” The yell startled her and she jumped, then looked up. Striding across the paddock, a fierce look on his face, was Davo, annoyance etched into every bit of his six foot four inch all-alpha frame.
Carly gulped. The way his fists were clenched at his sides told her she was in trouble. Davo’s instruction, You stay close to the house until we get back, popped into her head. Oops. She’d forgotten about that. When she’d wandered off, trying to clear her head, she hadn’t even given a thought to his command. She’d been lost in lust and anticipation. Unintentional disobedience didn’t count, did it?
She slowed her pace, Davo increased his. His long strides ate up the distance between them, bringing her closer and closer to meeting her fate.
He stopped just in front of her, not a metre away, and folded his arms across his chest in that masculine way of his, staring down at her sternly.
“You were told to stay around the house,” he growled.
Indignation welled up inside her. Did he think she was a child? She met his frown with one of her own and stamped her foot petulantly.
“I felt like going for a walk,” she informed him. “I wanted to clear my head so I can focus. I’m a grown woman. I can take care of myself, you know.”
“Out here, you’re our woman,” he growled. “You agreed to stay here under our terms.”
“Which haven’t yet been discussed,” she interrupted.
His brow furrowed in sexy, stern warning. Her stomach clenched. There was that dominance again that she found irresistible, that unmistakable threat that turned her insides to molten lava.
“I told you to stay around the house and you agreed,” he reminded her.
“I didn’t actually,” she argued. “You took my silence on the matter to be agreement. It wasn’t.”
His brow furrowed even deeper. Could this man get any sexier? Carly’s heart skipped a beat. This was actually going to happen… she was actually going to get spanked. Properly, if Davo’s body language was anything to go by.
“I gave you an instruction and expected it to be followed. It wasn’t up for negotiation.”
“So it’s my fault you misunderstood, is that what you’re saying?” She met his eyes in a challenging gaze, pressing her hands against her hips in the most defiant gesture she could muster. If she was going to get spanked, she may as well push a bit more and make it worthwhile. Indulge her cravings properly.
“I didn’t misunderstand; you disobeyed,” he growled. “And I think you know how disobedience is punished up here.”
The knot in her stomach pulled itself tighter. She was as excited as she was terrified. She knew it would hurt, but she reckoned it would be totally worth it to be punished by this incredibly sexy man. Her bottom clenched in anticipation. Mike spanking her earlier had been the hottest thing she’d experienced in years. Would Davo be as good at lighting a fire in her tail with just a few swats as Mike was?
She sucked in a breath and blew it out through her mouth upward, blowing a few stray strands of hair up off her face. Her blood felt hot in her veins. “Why do I have to stay close to the house? I’m not a child.”
“Because there’s thousands of acres here, that’s why,” Davo snapped, his tone gruff, impatient. “If you wander off and get yourself lost, or you have an accident and get hurt, we wouldn’t even know where to start looking. It would take us ages to find you.”
She supposed that made sense. But she didn’t want to be housebound forever. One of the attractions of this place had been the wide open spaces. If she’d wanted to stay inside a building she would have just stayed in the city.
“So you expect me to never leave the house?”
Davo’s stern expression relaxed slightly. “Of course not. We’ll take you over the station over time, and as you grow more comfortable here and learn your way around you can take a bike and explore by yourself, as long as you leave us a note with where you’re going. But today, I wanted you safe by the house. So we don’t have to worry.”
Carly rolled her eyes. Seriously? Did she look like a helpless, incompetent child? “I’m a big girl, I can look after myself. You don’t have to worry,” she informed him somewhat haughtily. “I’ve been looking after myself for years.”
“Rolling your eyes is not going to get you out of trouble, darlin’,” Davo scolded. “While you’re here with us, as our woman, we will worry. And we will expect you to obey our rules.”
“Even when your rules are pathetic?”
Davo nodded. “Even then. “
He edged closer to her and took her hand. Her skin tingled where he touched it and the fluttering sensation in her belly increased. She tried to pull her hand away but he tightened his grip, burying her hand in his, his sheer size making her feel so small in comparison. His fingers stretched upward around her wrist, and he pulled her in close. Her breath caught in her throat. This was really happening!
Still holding tightly to her wrist, Davo dropped to one knee almost as though he was going to propose. It struck her as funny and she giggled, but her laughter died in her throat as he yanked her wrist sharply and grabbed her waist with his other hand, pulling her down over his muscular thigh. She squealed and wriggled, trying to escape, but he held her firmly and swatted her bottom sharply, trapping her in place.
“Not so funny now, is it, darlin’?” Davo asked, his voice husky.
“No, sir,” she agreed, but it was hard to keep the excitement out of her voice. Mike had started the fire that burned within her and now it was a raging inferno that only a proper spanking would quench. She wiggled her backside in an unspoken but clear invitation. That was all the invitation Davo needed.
She squeaked in surprise at the brush of air across her thighs as he lifted up her skirt and laid it across her back, pinning it in place with his arm, holding her tightly. She braced her hands on the ground in front of her, holding herself steady. She was blushing, she could feel it. The embarrassment of having her skirt lifted was something she hadn’t been expecting, but it made the whole experience so much more exciting. She felt so naughty, draped over his thigh, her skirt lifted, her bottom ready to be spanked.
Davo slipped his fingers under the elastic of her knickers, fingering the cotton, the sensation almost making her groan with desire. “We’ll leave these up for now, but we’ll see how you go. They might need to come down.”
The idea of being bared to him sent a wave of lust to her loins and she wiggled her bottom again in response to his words. The message she was sending him couldn’t be clearer. His huge, heavy palm landed with a resounding crack across the fullest part of her bottom.
“You know what happens now, don’t you?”
“Yes, sir,” she whispered.
Davo didn’t stop after just a few swats like Mike had done. He didn’t spank lightly, either. Each smack burned and stung, well and truly satisfying her craving. His heavy hand felt as hard as a board as it landed on her tender bottom, making her wriggle and squirm in a feeble attempt to escape his firm grasp.
“Ow! Okay! I get it!” she shrieked, yelping as his big hand landed again and again, the swats seeming to get harder.
The smacks kept falling. Over and over again, landing in an alternate pattern all over her bottom, left, right, middle, every hard whack leaving behind an ache and a burn that made her yelp.
“Stop! Please! I’ll be good, I promise!” She kicked her legs, desperately trying to escape. Surely this was nearly over? How many times had he spanked her? She’d lost count. But this had gone well beyond what she expected of a ‘naughty girl’ spanking.
“Please stop!” she begged again, desperation tinging her tone.
Davo ignored her pleas. He did not stop the spanking. If anything, he spanked her harder, every single scorching swat making her cry out in pain. She didn’t want to do this anymore.
Pressing her palms flat against the ground, she pushed up with all her might, trying to launch herself up off his lap.
Davo pressed her back down. “No, stay there,” he growled. “I know from talking to Mike that you’ve been hanging out for a proper spanking, so just a few whacks wouldn’t be a very effective deterrent, would it?”
“No, sir,” she whimpered.
“You’d like it too much, wouldn’t you?”
“I don’t like it much anymore!” she insisted, her voice pitchy and breathless.
“Good, then we’re getting somewhere,” he said, resting his hand lightly on her burning bottom. “That’s why this spanking has gone on for far longer than you thought it would. And it’s going to continue until my hand is too sore to carry on.”
She gulped. Really? He was going to keep spanking her even though she was already so sore and her curiosity had been well and truly satisfied? Her craving was completely quenched. She didn’t want a ‘bad girl’ spanking after all. It wasn’t the exciting experience she’d been expecting it would be.
He tucked his fingers into the waistband of her knickers, tugging gently. “And I think these can come down for the rest of it.” In one swift movement he pulled her underwear down her hips, tugging them well down her thighs almost to her knees.
“No!” she protested, kicking and squirming, mortified now. He could see everything! Realising that kicking was showing him even more, she clamped her legs shut tightly and let out a small moan. This was not what she had expected at all. This was shameful! Scandalous!
“When you decided to stay here with us, you agreed to abide by our rules and submit to our punishments,” he reminded her sternly. “Punishments hurt. They’re not pleasant. They’re not a game—they’re not just a couple of smacks and sending you on your merry way. A punishment spanking is long and hard and thorough.”
His palm landed heavily on her left cheek, the painful crack on her bare skin echoing loudly. “They’re intended to be a painful reminder, something that you will remember next time you decide to break one of the rules.” Davo continued his lecture, interspersing his words with hard spanks that hurt so much more now there wasn’t even a thin layer of clothing to protect her tender backside.
“But I didn’t break a rule!” she yelled, desperate to stop the onslaught. It was a bad move. Davo’s flattened palm landed, hard as a board, in a vicious upward swing, catching her lower buttocks in a ferocious swat that nearly sent her flying forward off his thighs. If he hadn’t been holding her so firmly, she would have fallen.
“Ow!” she squealed, kicking her feet wildly, trying to both escape and ease the sting.
“Don’t argue during a punishment,” Davo scolded, landing another, equally hard swat in exactly the same place. “You disobeyed. It’s the same thing.
“I can see how aroused you are,” he went on. “I know how much you were enjoying this. That’s why your knickers had to come down: a spanking on the bare bottom is always much more effective.”
Shame flooded through her. She wanted to die of embarrassment. How was she ever going to look him in the eyes again? She couldn’t even speak, she was too embarrassed. All she could do was hide her face against her arms as best she could and concentrate on keeping her legs closed.
“I’m not aroused!” she insisted. “I’m in pain!”
Davo chuckled and slid his fingers down her hot bottom, pressing them between her thighs, prising her legs apart. Her whole body stiffened. The touch was intimate, delicious, sending waves of wanting through her.
“Your body doesn’t lie, darlin’,” Davo told her. “You’re wet. That can only mean one thing.” As if to prove it, he pressed his fingers inside her a bit deeper before withdrawing them and wiping them across her burning bottom. “Feel that? That stickiness is your arousal, darlin’. That tells me you like this, very much.” He patted her bottom gently, then squeezed her hot flesh. “But let’s see if we can change that, aye? Because this is a punishment. And it’s not meant to be enjoyed.”
“No! Please!” she begged, but it was too late. Davo had starting spanking her again, his hand falling on alternating cheeks in a quick rhythm, and her words were lost in the sound of the smacks.
Carly was sure her bottom was about to burst into flames. Davo wasn’t spanking her as hard as he’d been earlier, but the smacks were much faster, and her bottom was a raging inferno. No matter how much she wriggled or kicked or squirmed, Davo’s large palm found its target.
“Please stop!” she begged. “Please! I’ll be good! I promise!” Tears burned her eyes and she was on the verge of panic. Davo must have heard it in her voice because he stopped spanking for a moment and rested his hand on her bottom lightly instead, squeezing her throbbing globes gently. He waited while she caught her breath, massaging her carefully, rubbing out the sting.
After a few minutes, he spoke. “I told you this spanking would continue until my hand was too sore to carry on,” he told her.
“No!” Carly begged, her voice strangled. “Please, no! It’s too much! Please. I’ve never been spanked like this before and… and it’s too sore.” She sniffed as a lone tear tracked its way down her cheek. She reached up to wipe it away. “You’ve made me cry,” she whimpered. “This is my first day here with you all. Please don’t make me too sore to enjoy it.”
Davo sighed. “Okay,” he relented. “Your ass is very red. It does look sore. But don’t be thinking I’m going to go easy on you again. The next time you earn yourself a spanking, I’ll be the one deciding when it’s over.”
“Thank you,” Carly whispered.
He stood up roughly, hauling her to her feet by her arm. Her skirt fell back into place as her knickers fell to the ground. He pulled her into his chest, holding her close, stroking her back in big, soothing circles. Carly leaned into him, grateful for his strength. Her legs were wobbly; she probably couldn’t even stand by herself yet. Pressing her cheek against his solid chest, she listened to the steady beat of his heart and let it slowly lull her into calm.
“How are you feeling?” Davo’s deep voice rumbled. “Are you ready to go back to the house yet or do you need a bit longer?”
Slowly a smile spread across her face. Inside, she was ecstatic. Although it had hurt, and she would have backed out if that had been an option, Davo had just fulfilled her deepest fantasy. And the hug he was giving her now, comforting her so tenderly, topped it off perfectly. She stood there a moment longer, smiling into his shirt, before standing up and meeting his eyes.
“I’m good,” she told him.
She stepped out of the underwear pooled around her ankles and bent down to pick them up. Then a thought crossed her mind and she gave Davo a wicked smile before balling the fabric in her fist and tucking the flimsy garment into his back pocket.
“A souvenir,” she told him with a wink.
Davo grinned then reached across to squeeze her bottom through her clingy skirt. “I think that can be your first rule,” he told her. “No knickers under your skirts. I quite like knowing there’s nothing but a bare bottom under this filmy material.”
A shiver of naughty excitement pulsed through her. How was it that even after turning her over his knee and spanking her so thoroughly, he could still give her such a delicious thrill with nothing more than a few words?
Was it the heat in her face that gave away her arousal or was it her quick breathing? Whatever it was, Davo chuckled and took her hand, linking his fingers through hers possessively. “Come on, darlin’,” he rumbled. “Let’s go get some lunch. And then we can discuss some more of your rules. And the consequences for breaking them.”
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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