Stepping outside, Riley turned left and froze. Marshall Jim Wade was headed her way and judging from the scowl on his face he was not in a good mood.
Their gazes met and he stopped. “Riley Prescott, don’t you dare move another inch.”
Jim’s loud bellow drew curious looks and Riley became the center of attention. How dare he scold her publicly?
Sticking her nose up in the air, she spun on her heel and slammed into another person. Losing her balance, she landed heavily on her backside. The impact felt as if every bone in her body had been shuffled about.
“I-I’m so s-sorry, ma’am.”
“Well, I sure hope so,” Riley mumbled, brushing off her hands. “Why don’t you watch where you’re going?”
“Riley, are you hurt?”
Riley angled her head to one side and saw Jim staring down at her, his face etched in concern.
“I’m okay.” She attempted to get up on her own, but she needed something to hold onto.
Jim bent over and held out his hand. “Take my hand, Riley.”
Riley accepted his offer and in no time she was on her feet. After she shook out her skirts she glared at the young man who stood idly by.
“Well, what do you have to say for yourself?”
“I-I am sorry… honest. I didn’t mean it.”
He sounded so pathetic that Riley felt her heart soften. “It’s quite all right.”
Jim made the introductions. “Riley, this is Willy. He’s a good friend of mine.”
Willy beamed at Jim’s choice of words. “And Big Jim is my good friend.”
Riley knitted her brows and glanced at Jim. He merely shrugged. She looked at Willy again and said, “Hello, Willy. Next time we meet I hope it’s under different circumstances.”
He smiled. “Me too.”
Jim took hold of her arm. “Willy, I’ll see you later. Right now I need to have a little chat with Miss Prescott.”
“O-okay, Big Jim.”
The young man went on his way. Without a word, Jim towed her along with him toward the house.
Riley had to double her steps to keep from being dragged. “Where are we going?”
“Home where no one can hear you scream while I blister your butt.”
Riley opened her mouth, only to close it again when she saw the veins in his neck pop out. If she pushed the issue he just might put her across his knee in front of the whole town.
When they got closer to the house, she asked, “Why did Willy call you Big Jim?”
“None of your business.”
“Praise be, you don’t have to be so rude. I only asked a simple question.”
All of a sudden he stopped and whirled around.
Caught off guard, Riley smashed face first into his chest and would have landed on her ass a second time if not for his quick reflexes.
His hands clamped down on her shoulders. “Miss Prescott, I don’t think anything about you is simple. Now, you are this much,” he placed his index finger and thumb less than an inch apart, “away from being the afternoon’s entertainment for this town if you don’t shut up.”
When they reached the house, he practically shoved her up the several wooden steps leading to the front door. “Get inside.”
Riley swung around and propped her fists on her hips. “I’m going, for crying out loud. You don’t have to get all pushy.”
Jim reached for his belt buckle. “Would you rather I give that cute fanny of yours a few licks with my belt to get you to move faster?”
A spark of raw desire ignited deep within her core. Common sense dictated that she should be worried, but all she felt was a deep sexual attraction toward a man who dared to take her to task.
“Make up your mind or I’ll do it for you.”
Her heart fluttered. This man had a unique way of getting under her skin.
“Fine.” Riley yanked the door open with uncontrolled force, hoping it would bounce off his thick head. She flounced into the kitchen and threw her reticule on the table.
Jim sauntered into the kitchen with a grin on his face. “Temper, temper or Daddy will have to spank.”
“Oh, go to hell, Daddy.”
“Get into the living room, Riley.”
With head held high, Riley surprised Jim by complying. Once she was seated, he took off his hat and threw it on one of the chairs.
“I distinctly remember telling you to wait for me.”
Riley raised her chin a notch. “You did.”
He eyed her sternly. “And you went out anyway.”
“Because I got tired of waiting around. Is that a crime?”
Jim almost burst out laughing. The little chit sure had grit. “See, Riley, this is where you get into trouble. When I give you an order, you don’t get to decide whether you’re going to listen or not. It’s time you learned that I mean what I say.” He blew out a frustrated breath. “Stand in the corner.”
Riley shot to her feet. “You cannot be serious?”
“Damn it, Riley, you’re questioning me again.”
“That’s because you’re not being reasonable. I’m not a child to be sent to the corner. I’m a grown woman.”
“Then act like one instead of a wayward child who requires discipline,” he fired back. “You haven’t even been here two days and my patience with you is just about shot.”
He took one menacing step toward her the same way his pa used to when he’d refuse to obey.
With a squeak she hustled to the corner.
A small smile tugged at the corner of his mouth. It worked perfectly.
Jim sank into one of the recliners and zeroed in on Riley’s stiff form. She had to be seething right about now and that suited him just fine. When he saw her standing outside Rosie’s as if his instructions didn’t matter, his temper had soared to an all-time high.
She had guts, he’d give her that, but her constant disobedience could not be tolerated. There could come a time when her complete obedience may just save her life.
“You blatantly disobeyed me, Riley. A harsh lesson is needed so you won’t be tempted to make the same mistake again.”
He saw her fists clench at her sides, but she held her temper in check.
“Riley, one town is much the same as any another. There are stores and dress shops, diners and saloons. I’ve never been to Red Creek, but I would assume that it’s much like Harmony.”
One shoulder lifted in reply.
“I’m sure you also had your fair share of ruffians who held no respect toward women.”
“Then you can understand why I instructed you to wait for me. How do you think I’d feel if something bad happened to you and I wasn’t there to protect you?”
Riley’s shoulders slumped in defeat. She honestly didn’t know how to answer that question. What she did know was that all this waiting and wondering about her punishment made her anxious.
She heard him get up from the chair and her body went on high alert. His footsteps grew nearer and when he stopped directly behind her, she resisted the urge to lean back against his chest. His large hands descended upon her shoulders, giving her a start.
He swung her around. “Look at me, Riley.”
Biting her bottom lip, she remained focused on his chest. If she looked at him he’d know her secret.
Frustrated, Jim blew out a breath. “Must you defy me at every turn?” One finger slipped beneath her chin.
They eyes met and for a fleeting moment Riley imagined the circumstances were different. He’d tell her how much he cared for her as a woman and not just his ward.
Jim dropped his hand to his side and went back to the chair he’d been sitting on. He crooked a finger. “Come here, Riley.”
With a sense of dread she automatically covered her backside with her hands.
“I’ve never been spanked before.”
“Any one with half a mind can see that.” His eyes narrowed. “Don’t keep me waiting, little girl.”
Her belly flip-flopped as she slowly crossed the room. Right now she felt much like a little girl about to be punished by her stern daddy. Despite the outward show of bravado, tears stung her eyes.
Warily, she placed her left hand on his right thigh and gripped his shoulder with the other. Thick corded muscles tensed beneath her touch, reminding her that he was a strong powerful man. Once she lay face down over his lap there would be no turning back. Swallowing hard, she raised her eyes and saw him watching her intently.
“Will it hurt much?”
“I won’t lie to you, Riley. I intend to blister your bottom so you think twice before defying me again.”
“You won’t reconsider?” There was always the chance he could change his mind.
His expression remained adamant. “I wouldn’t be worth a damn as a guardian or a man if I didn’t carry out a punishment after promising to do so.”
Defeated, Riley bent forward and, with his help, settled across his lap. He draped one arm across her shoulders to keep her in place. Riley forced herself to remain still, but when a cool breeze brushed along her lower back she began to thrash about.
With her dress over her head, her voice came out muffled. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Getting rid of this padding. You won’t feel a thing if I spank you over your clothing.”
“But that’s inappropriate. Help,” she screeched at the top of her lungs and kicked out her feet.
Jim threw one leg over her two. “Settle down, you little brat.”
One hand slipped beneath her belly and pulled open the ribbon to her drawers. Within seconds her ass was bare.
Riley stiffened with rage. “You have no right.”
“I have every right, Riley Prescott, to punish you as I see fit. A few whacks on a covered behind would not accomplish a damn thing. It’s my responsibility to see that you are properly punished and that means a spanking on the bare.”
Oh, the horror of it all. No one had ever seen her naked bottom since she was a baby. It was mortifying that Jim could also see her most intimate parts.
With renewed determination, Riley fought like a wildcat. She may not be able to move her legs but there was nothing preventing her from pummeling his legs with her fists.
“Jesus H. Christ.” Jim caught both her wrists in one hand and pinned them to her back. “Don’t make me throw cuffs on you.”
“You uncivilized bastard,” she snarled between her teeth.
A loud crack reverberated in her ears quickly followed by a line of fire that streaked across one cheek. Another landed on her other cheek with the same amount of impact.
Riley howled and wagged her ass first one way than another to avoid the onslaught of smacks he rained down on her tender skin, but Jim didn’t miss his target.
Suddenly he stopped and she expelled a whoosh of air.
“Don’t get comfortable yet. I’m just admiring my handiwork. My, my, your skin is turning a nice shade of dark pink. It’s very becoming but I’m partial to cherry red.”
This time he punished the area just beneath the curve of her cheeks.
“Stop it,” she wailed. He continued as if she hadn’t spoken. Exhausted from the battle, Riley dangled over his lap. Tears fell down her cheeks and splashed onto the carpet just inches from her face.
Finally, he stopped and released her wrists. One of his hands rested on the back of her naked thighs.
Thoroughly humiliated, Riley hung her head. She wasn’t in a hurry to move from her undignified position or demand he straighten her clothing. Why should she bother? He’d seen all she had to offer and it hadn’t stopped him from carrying out her punishment.
If he desired her as a man would a woman, he showed no sign.
Aware of his touch, she tried not to move, but when he began to caress her throbbing bottom, she moaned deep in her throat. Her sex dampened and her legs parted on their own accord.
Suddenly, he lifted her up and set her none too gently on his lap. The coarse material of his jeans aggravated her sore bottom.
Riley pulled a face. “Ouch.”
“It could have been a lot worse. Next time I’ll use my belt.”
For some unknown reason Jim’s rejection plus the scolding had opened up old wounds and she broke down in tears. During her grandparents’ service she had kept her emotions in check and refused to cry. Now the floodgates opened. Riley tucked her head beneath his chin and slipped her arms around his waist. Holding on tight, she sobbed against his chest and truly mourned the untimely death of her beloved grandparents.
When her sobbing slowed to an occasional hiccup, she sniffled and attempted to collect her thoughts.
What a sight she must be, sitting on his lap with her drawers bunched at her knees, crying like a small child that had just been thoroughly disciplined.
In the warm circle of Jim’s strong arms she felt protected and realized that she was hopelessly in love with her guardian.
What a fine fix he found himself in. After he finished lighting a fire to her bottom, he expected Riley to jump from his lap and hurl all kinds of insults at his head.
What he didn’t expect were tears. Genuine tears and not the fake ones some women were apt to use in order to get their way.
Damn, she felt good in his arms with her head wedged beneath his chin and her drawers bunched at her knees. She was crying so hard he thought she’d make herself sick. He followed his gut instinct and began stroking her back up and down in a soothing manner.
“Hey now, it wasn’t all that bad, was it?” To his dismay she began to cry again. Riley Prescott wasn’t as tough as she pretended to be. “There now, it’s all going to be all right.”
Riley’s sobs had long since subsided and the shallow rise and fall of her chest indicated that she had fallen into a light sleep. At first Jim welcomed the soft weight of her womanly curves against his chest and the delightful pressure of her round bottom on his cock.
But the longer he sat, the more time he had to think about the sexy way her ass had jiggled with each slap. Then when he caressed her, she had unwittingly parted her legs.
Jim considered himself a gentleman, but the temptation to take a peek at her secret place warred with his sense of decency and won the battle. He was shocked to see her pink little pussy glistening with desire.
It was obvious his ward was sexually aroused by physical punishment.
Jim dropped his head back and closed his eyes. This awkward position he had brought on himself only got worse. One little shift of her hips and his cock would surely stand up and salute. Buck had trusted him to do right by Riley, not put his hands all over her the first chance he got.
He knew he had no other choice but to make it right. It was a damn shame though. Her response to his discipline had been perfect.
Jim straightened in his seat and brushed a swath of hair that had fallen across her face. He lightly stroked her cheek. “Come on, sleepy head, it’s time to get up.”
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