Mike was right; the shower was warm at best, but then she didn’t need any more heating up. She was already boiling over with the spanking he’d given her, and from the sweat she’d broken into when she saw the lockbox. She was also sure she’d get more pressure out of a defective water fountain so a higher temperature wouldn’t have made the shower any more pleasant.
When she finally got her hair wet, she realized Mike didn’t have anything but a crudely formed bar of soap. Avery stared at it with malice. With her corkscrew curls, she needed a hell of a good conditioner, or she’d look like a poodle. She needed her bag. Anxiety filled her. She needed more than her bag, she needed to get moving. She let the water flow over her face a moment wondering how long the storm would last and how close Moe and Eddie were. There was no way they could know where she was, she decided and relaxed a little until Mike pounded on the door.
“Okay! I’m almost done,” she shouted. She’d stayed in longer than she should have because the water, even though it was only warm and a trickle, made her feel so much better. She thought of the spa tub back home. As wonderful as it was, she’d still rather be in Mike’s little shower. The heat of that luxurious spa couldn’t come close to warming her like Mike had.
“Time’s up, little girl.”
She cranked off the faucets and grimaced when he bellowed, reminding her she was supposed to be gentle with them. Would he spank her for real now? What a ridiculous thought, she decided, toweling off. Who wanted to be spanked? Her brow quirked. Mike was seriously rugged and handsome though. Any touch from him was delicious, even a touch that stung, maybe especially so. She ran her hand across her bottom. Tingles scattered across her skin at the thought. What would it be like to be across his hard thighs?
After squeezing the water from her hair, she finger-combed it the best she could. There was no such luxury as a hairdryer or product in Mike’s bathroom either. With his long hair, she thought he might have something other than homemade soap though.
Her hair hung in wet twirls, dripping rivulets of water down her creamy smooth chest to the navy towel tucked over her breasts. Mike’s skin was rough and weathered, but it heated at the sight of her. She was delicate and soft; he’d touched enough of her to know. He hadn’t gotten a chance to smooth his hand over her bottom after he’d spanked her, as he’d only been making a quick point, but he’d wanted to—just as he wanted to untuck the towel now and let it fall to her feet in a heap. He felt both a stirring in his gut and stiffening in his dick as he watched her.
“Your shower sucks,” she said and then licked her lips. “My clothes are… dirty.” She swallowed, and he was sure she’d noticed the desire in his eyes.
“One of my flannels should cover…” He closed his eyes a moment before opening them to follow a path from the towel at the top of her breasts, down her satiny legs, to her adorable toes. She had a change of clothes in her bag, but he wasn’t ready to hand it over. He needed more time to decide what she was up to. But Lord help him, he wasn’t sure he could hold back with her prancing around in his shirt all bloody day. He wasn’t a fucking monk.
“Thanks.” She looked so innocent and fresh—a girl-next-door type, not the kind of girl likely to be on the run, toting a gun and too much cash. She looked like a girl in need of nurturing, doting, and… discipline. His cock strained for release.
“It’ll be nice and easy for me to swat that ass if you get all snippy again.” He nodded his chin at the bedroom. “They’re in the wardrobe.”
She snorted, and he watched her hips sway as she went into his room. He wanted more than anything to follow her, yank the towel, tease her till she begged and then plunge inside her. How long had it been since he’d been inside a woman? He rubbed his beard. Too damn long, Mike, too damn long.
“Dinner won’t be ready for another few hours. Do you need something to hold you over? I never eat lunch,” he called out.
“I’ll be fine. I’m not doing much to work up an appetite.” Her last words were seductive and weakened his resolve.
“If you’re bored we can play cards or something.” He wasn’t sure what he was doing. He’d told her she was going back to rest on the couch, but she looked better now that she’d showered, stronger with some healthy color to her cheeks, and besides, he suddenly wanted nothing more than to spend time with her.
He didn’t even play cards anymore, but something about this woman made him want to break down the walls he’d erected and remember the guy he used to be before Ella, before Prescott—the kind of guy who enjoyed simple pleasures like cards on a dreary day.
“Can you play Crazy Eights?” He scratched his head and pulled the old deck out of the junk drawer. He couldn’t remember how to play anything else.
She walked out of the bedroom in one of his flannel shirts. Her breasts were heavy but perky, and her nipples hard—probably from the chill in his room. He was appreciating her beautiful legs again when he noted she’d removed the bandage on her leg. The skin pulled and puckered at the sutures, but it looked as though it was healing nicely. He had a quick thought about the bandages and other things Annie had dropped off, but his mind focused on kissing the spot on her thigh instead.
It was the injury that had almost killed her. There were old scars as well as some yellow and purple bruises from the accident. He wanted to touch every imperfection, caress each spot and hear every story that came with them.
He dropped the cards on the table and pulled out a chair, swallowing hard. What had happened to his fierce need for solitude? Had he simply been alone too long, or was this woman such an enigma he couldn’t help but be attracted to her? A contradiction with her sweet innocence hidden behind her snarky bravado? And that damn gun and cash, where did they fit? Who was this intriguing beauty and why the hell did he feel so protective of her?
“I thought I had to go back to bed or lie on the couch.” She had that saucy challenging look on her face, but he ignored it.
“I think you can stay up for a while.” His eyes raked over her wet curls still dripping onto his shirt. “At least until your hair dries.” He licked his lips quickly and sat, looking away from her sexy mouth.
“Are you letting me stay up, Daddy?” Her brow curved playfully, and he knew she was pushing him because it thrilled her to do so. He suspected she called him Daddy so often not because he’d told her to, but because it did something for her. And by the twitch in his jeans, it did something for him, too. He didn’t know why this woman brought out his need to nurture as well as his long-buried urge for control, but she seemed to thrive on challenging him to use that power, and he’d never met someone more in need of nurturing. She didn’t need it because she was sick, or hurt, or even in trouble. It was something in the very core of her makeup. There was a little girl hidden inside this tough but troubled woman, and his firm protective ways brought her out.
“Tell me what happened,” he said, as she came to the table. Placing her hands on the back of the chair, she hesitated.
“What happened?” she questioned. Those innocent hazel eyes that Mike frequently caught sight of when she accidentally let her guard down were now purposeful, and they searched his.
“On the road.”
“Um.” She bit her lip. “I don’t think we should talk about it.”
“Oh? Why’s that?” He nodded at the chair for her to sit but the only move she made was to shift her weight from one foot to the other.
“Spill, little girl,” he said, and it was in a tone that left her no choice. “Were you speeding?”
“I was…” She paused before adding, “Daddy.” Then she shrugged. “But mostly because I gave the mountain… control.”
“Do you often feel the need to lose control?” he asked, mimicking the heat that had infused her words. Her eyes flickered something feral, and he smiled—slow and wide. This was a woman in need of a dominant man. She needed a daddy.
“What are you running from?” His eyes narrowed. Hers shuttered and the mischief in them dimmed.
She answered with another shrug, and his shirt rose a little higher on her legs. His mouth watered. He leaned back, crossing his thick arms, and speared her with a stern look. “Not a very good answer, young lady.”
“Do I need a good one?” Her grip tightened on the chair in front of her, and she took a swift intake of breath. The spark in her eyes returned, along with some intensity that mirrored his own. That’s right, little girl, let your guard down and tell Daddy what you need. I’ll take care of you.
The words in his head shocked him a little, despite their truth and he shifted in his chair, clearing his throat. She drew her lower lip between her teeth, probably thinking his movement and sound were for her.
“I think you’d need a pretty good reason to justify the risk of almost dying, no?”
“I survived the consequences,” she answered casually and finally pulled out the chair. The scraping noise in the quiet cabin sounded out of place.
“Thanks to me.” His gaze held hers and he watched her chest rise and fall a little faster than before. He pretended not to notice. This girl wanted to give up control desperately, and the knowledge did something carnal to him. He’d given up some of the control he loved so much when he’d left society behind. No matter how big and tough you are, on the mountain, there are things you can’t control. It’s always in charge.
“Yes, thanks to you.” She sighed as if this truth was an inconvenience.
“Your insurance is going to skyrocket.”
“You think?” The indifferent look she gave showed she had no intention of reporting the accident, but he already knew that. It only confirmed she’d likely stolen the Jeep.
“Are you married? Have a boyfriend?” His chin jutted toward the chair so she would sit. She only looked at it before her eyes fluttered back to his.
“No.” She didn’t elaborate.
“Sit.” She looked down at the chair seat. “Oh. I’m not sure I should, Daddy.”
“Something tells me the way this conversation is going that I probably shouldn’t.”
His brow furrowed and he uncrossed his arms to lean forward. “And how’s that? Do you think I might spank you for speeding and being reckless?” He chuckled as her cheeks flushed.
“No, I was thinking I might not want to sit if I was facing an interrogation or a lecture. I’d rather go back to bed.” She yawned in exaggeration, patting a hand over her open mouth. His chair scraped back, and her eyes shot to his and widened.
“But I guess if there is a possibility that you’ll spank me again, Daddy, maybe I should protect my butt.” Mike didn’t fail to notice her hesitation.
“Do you think you deserve a spanking?” He leaned his elbows on the table and steepled his fingers. She shrugged and looked back at the seat of her chair, suddenly moving to sit.
“Wait,” he said, letting his hands slap against the table. “You’re right. Don’t bother.” She looked up at him in surprise, her eyes owlish, and her lips parted.
“Answer my question properly.”
She swallowed hard. “What was your question again?” she croaked. She was stalling, maybe weighing the fear of pushing Mike against the sexual desire it brought.
“You know what my question was, young lady. Quit stalling.”
She shrugged and looked away. “If I were some unruly teen who stole a car and went joy riding, maybe. But I’m not.”
“I think you’ve earned one.”
“You do?” Her brows drew together. “Why?”
“It’s rather obvious, isn’t it?”
“No.” Insecurity flickered in her eyes.
“Your life means something. People care about you, including me, and you chose to ignore the warning signs and the rules of the road.”
She drew in a breath and bit her lip. “But how would a spanking help? I was hurt. I already feel the consequences of my actions. I’ll learn from them.”
“Ah, yes, you might, but if you were spanked, then you’d know someone cared and then the burden wouldn’t be solely on you.” He stood and reached across the table to take her hand. “I think you want someone to care about you. You don’t want the entire burden of your life on your shoulders. I believe you want to know when you do something stupid, someone will be there to call you on it.”
Her eyes swam, and she used her free hand to swipe at her nose.
“Right now that someone is me, young lady.”
“That’s just crazy.” She looked at their hands, and his thumb swirling gently on hers.
“Is it?” He turned her hand so he could link their fingers. “I want to spank you because you did something incredibly unsafe and it breaks my heart you care so little for yourself. Do you know you asked me to let you die?” Her eyes didn’t widen in surprise. “I did?”
“Yes, and I think there are a lot of things you don’t remember from the accident, but that isn’t one of them. I’m sure there are people who love you and would be devastated if you died.”
She pressed her lips tightly and shook her head, holding her emotions in. He leaned further forward and took her chin in his hand, looking hard into her watery eyes. His brows lifted.
“No one?” His face softened, and he ran his free hand down her cheek. “No one at all who misses your beautiful hazel eyes and saucy mouth?” His thumb trailed down her lips, pulling the bottom one open slightly. She shook her head again and this time tears spilled down her cheeks. He wiped them away.
“So you’re going to spank me?” she asked, lacing her words with a little bite, which he suspected was to hide her vulnerability.
“Tell me why you wanted to die.” He lost his soft expression when her mouth firmed and she looked away.
“I can’t.” Her eyes shuttered when she looked back, but she looked away again quickly, yanking her hand from his and wrapping her arms around herself. “Okay. Fine. I wanted to die because when a moose came out onto the road in front of me there, and I knew there was nothing I could do, I felt peace. I was ready, and then when the pain was so unbearable, I knew letting go was easier.” She plopped in the chair then and leaned her cheek on her hand. “At least it would have been on my terms. And no one would even know I was gone.”
He walked over to her, gripped her shoulders, and pulled her up into his big arms. She didn’t fight him, just clung to his waist and let go of her tears.
“Thanks for trusting me with that. I know there is a hell of a lot more you’re hiding, but I’m not going to push you anymore right now. I’m proud of you for giving me that much.”
She snuggled into him and it felt good. He’d had no idea how much he missed the simple act of a hug. He kissed the top of her head as he wrestled a moment with whether or not to spank her. She seemed to both want and need it, but she wasn’t his, and she was vulnerable. It was one thing to pop her ass with a few hardy swats to get her attention, but to actually spank her? That was different, deliberate and intimate. He hadn’t been intimate with a woman in a long time. No, he wouldn’t spank her, he decided, but when she looked up at him with those wide glossy eyes, his protective instincts took over.
She swallowed at his words, but nodded, so he took her hand and led her to the bedroom.
“I think we’ll both feel better if I redden that bottom of yours, don’t you?” He released her hand and let her stand in front of him as he sat on the edge of the bed. She licked her lips and then bit her bottom one, giving him the tiniest nod. He smiled reassuringly and patted his left thigh. “Over my knee, little girl. It’s time Daddy shows you how much he cares by giving you the good hard spanking you deserve.” She twisted her hands in front of her for a few seconds before he cleared his throat. She sniffed, wiped her eyes, and leaned over.
“This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever done,” she said with a wet chuckle.
“I think I’ll have to agree with you on that,” he said, resting his hand on her lower back. The shirt had ridden up, and he could see the swell of her bottom. His mouth dried.
“Weirder than having a bear for a pet?” she asked, and he chortled.
“Yes, weirder than that, but not weirder than you calling me Daddy.” He paused before adding, “And honey, I love that.” Her head twisted sharply, and she gave him a shy and rare sweet smile. “I do too,” she whispered.
“That’s my girl.” He rubbed her bottom and felt her stiffen and then relax beneath his hand. Her skin was soft and supple. “I’ve never spanked anyone before.” He chuckled again. “I’ve met some very deserving people, but it never seemed appropriate out there.”
“Yes, out there. In the real world.”
“Enough chit chat. You’ve got a spanking coming.” He pulled the shirt up and saw her beautiful rounded backside. “Just remember this is because I care that you disregarded the warnings and put your life in peril and that I never, ever want you to do it again. Got me, little girl?”
“Yes, I got you, Daddy.”
“Daddy’s got you, too.”
His hand, which she remembered in the second before it landed, was big—baseball-mitt-sized if her mind wasn’t exaggerating it out of alarm. It came down with a solid splat causing heat to blossom, but not much pain. He had swatted much harder earlier with the spoon. She grabbed his pillow from the top of the bed and snuggled into it.
There was something about being across this mountain man’s lap that settled her. His hand landed again on the opposite cheek, and it felt sharp enough for her to wince. This time he didn’t give her time to mull it over, he just swatted again, and it bit like needles when it overlapped the other branding. More aware of the pain sensation, she clutched his pillow tighter. He continued then, steady and sharp until she felt every stinging spank with ardor and trepidation for what was to come. Could she handle all he decided she needed? The care with which he spoke as he spanked her made her start to choke up.
“Little girl, what you did was reckless, and I hope the sting on your bottom is telling you just how disappointed I am in your blatant disregard for yourself.” The swats got meatier, and at first, her eyes widened, but then she squeezed them tight. She squirmed across his knees, twisting to avoid his palm landing on an already burning spot. Her arm flew back and grabbed at his jeans-clad leg.
“I think this is just what you need to tell you how much I care about what happens to you. I haven’t known you very long, but I feel strongly that you’re a person who deserves a good life, not one who puts herself in the ground well before she’s even lived. I won’t hesitate to show you this as often as necessary, understand?”
His words had stung deepest of all, and she felt as if she had no oxygen in her lungs. She gulped suddenly, and when the air came back out it was in a wet rush that turned to a sob.
“Yes,” she gasped, as soon as she could find the word tangled among the emotion she was trying to control. More swats had her releasing her hold on Mike’s jeans and reaching back to cover her overheated skin. “I got it, Mike!” He grabbed her hand, pinning it in the small of her back. He leaned his hard abdomen against her. “Mike?” he prompted, in a whisper near her ear. “Hmm, is that what you call me?”
“Daddy.” The word flew out as the pressure of his body left her, and the sharpest spank yet landed low across both her burning cheeks. “I got it, Daddy. Please, no more!”
“Young lady, do you deserve this spanking?”
“Yes,” she choked out as he swatted, even lower this time, where the sting made her eyes pop wide. “Yes, yes, I do.” Tears came over her lids, and she let them take all the horrid fear and sadness with them. It felt amazing to empty the toxins from within her. It had always seemed pointless to cry before but now she realized it simply felt good. “Thank you,” she garbled, and he whacked so hard along the tops of her thighs that her legs kicked involuntarily.
“Ah, ah, okay!” she panted, knowing she couldn’t take much more. “I understand, and I won’t do it again!” Another yelp or two followed before she simply slumped, letting the tears flow.
“That’s my girl.” He stopped punishing her bottom and began soothing instead. His big warm hand roamed over her scorched cheeks, and he spoke gently. “Let it all go. Let me take care of you.”
Avery snuffled into his pillow and let the sensations from both his hand and his words soothe her. The flowing tears swept all the overwhelming emotions away with them. “Honey? Let’s get you on the bed.” He helped her up, and as they stood to face each other, he cupped her cheeks. Until that moment, Avery had been focused on the spanking and its purpose, but now that the giant bearded man looked down at her with his beautiful crinkled sexually charged blue eyes, arousal thrummed in her. Her eyes widened and then blazed at the realization that his caring but painful spanking had turned them both on.
“Daddy,” she whispered breathlessly. “I—”
She never got to finish as his mouth crushed hers. His lips and facial hair sent sensations through her that tingled in all the right places. She loved the taste of him and the scruffy but soft feel of his beard. When his mouth left her lips and found her neck, she lost all control. God, the way it felt, the roughness mingling with his soft, hot mouth, made her entire body come alive. Her thighs pressed as she felt more pooling warmth. His big hands grabbed her ass, and Avery hissed as he pulled her against him. She wrapped her legs around his waist to hold on. The buckle from his belt was cold against her naked pussy, and his hands clutching her ass made her nerves zing in reminder of the spanking he’d just given her, but all of it felt so damn right. She felt so damn alive. Pain and arousal mingled, making her feel an overpowering pulse of pleasure. “Daddy, please.”
His response was a growl into her neck.
“Put your feet down,” he demanded. She did, and he lowered her to stand.
“Arms up, little girl.”
She smiled at the hooded desire in his eyes.
“You’re gorgeous,” she whispered and lifted her arms for him. He groaned when he pulled the shirt up, exposing her beautiful, heavy breasts. He licked his lips as he tossed the clothing over his shoulders.
“No, honey, you are. Absolutely fucking stunning.” His hands found her breasts, and as they filled his palms, his thumbs played with her puckered buds. His callused pads circled them, tightening them further until they all but ached for his mouth. He pulled her closer and sucked her lip between his, nibbling it as she moaned.
“Lie down.” He released her, his gruff demand making the pulse between her thighs hasten. She was frozen by her body’s reaction to this man. “Little girl, if you don’t do as you’re told, I’m going to take my belt to your lovely ass.”
“Oh.” She fell back on his bed, her arms above her head and her hair spilling across his sheets. He watched, a satisfied smile spreading across his mouth.
“Open for me, honey.” She licked her lips slowly, and his smile turned predatory. His hand went to his belt, and he started to unbuckle. “Keep your hands where they are,” he added, raising one brow as she began moving.
A cry fell from her lips, and she pulled her legs up and apart for him. He reached one of his long callused fingers out to slide ever-so-lightly from the top of her mound right down her lips to her opening. Intense sensations scattered throughout her and her trailing whimper turned to his name. She squirmed as he dipped into her core and ran his wet finger up to find her nub. He growled and fell to his knees. Grabbing her legs, he yanked her so her bottom was at the very edge of the bed. The friction woke the burn on her backside and she whimpered. He turned his head, chuckled and kissed the inside of her knee.
“Another reminder to behave,” he murmured against her skin, his breath hot and moist. His facial hair heightened every sensation, and she felt shivers everywhere as he trailed right to the top of her thigh, stopping only for a little lick and nibble in the middle before continuing till he reached the opposite knee.
“Baby, you’re mine,” he said gruffly, clutching her hips tightly and diving for her center.
She twisted and squirmed, clasping the checkered blanket in her fingers. Her head shook back and forth, and he continued to flick, swirl, and suck her, but when he slid one finger and then two inside her and pumped, she screamed a curse and fell over the edge. “Yessss.”
She opened her eyes after a moment and watched him as he reached an arm over his shoulder, took a handful of shirt and yanked it over his head. His naked chest was tawny even after the long winter, and his hard pecs were scattered lightly with blond hair.
“Don’t move an inch.” He stood and left, returning with a foil packet. “Annie is the smartest goddamned old lady in the world!”
He yanked down his jeans and the white thermal long underwear beneath. His cock was thick, long, and hard, and it twitched for her. She had never thought of the male anatomy as beautiful, but this man’s was. After sliding the condom on, he leaned forward, caging her between his strong, muscled arms. His mouth found hers, and her eyes fluttered shut. His wavy hair was loose, and it tickled her face. She felt his cock at her opening, and before the pulsing aftershocks from her orgasm had fully abated, his cock drove in, filling her completely. When he released her mouth, he dragged his teeth gently along her bottom lip, and she gasped. He felt so good inside her, and the building of pleasure was sweeping her up again.
“God, you feel so good,” he murmured as he pumped in rhythmic strokes, but her taste of pleasure was quick before he stopped.
“No,” she cried. “Please don’t stop.”
“Over and up on your knees, baby,” he said, his voice graveled with desire as he pulled himself from her. She whimpered at being separated from him but rolled onto all fours.
“Oh, woman, you are so hot like this.” He gently pushed her forward so her chest was flat but her ass high. First, he rubbed and massaged her tender cheeks, then gave her a hearty smack and buried himself inside her deeply enough to make her call out in both surprise and pleasure.
He filled her so perfectly, as if he were made for her. He reached around her hip and ran his rough hand smoothly down her belly, his fingers finding her freshly sensitized nub. The dual sensations took her up intensely again.
“Daddy,” she whispered with her eyes shut tight. She panted a beat or two as he pounded against her ass, his hammering enhancing his finger play. “Don’t stop, ever. Please. I’ve never felt so… Please,” she pleaded. With him inside, she felt complete, emotionally and physically. The sensations rose in her, tightening her every muscle. His thrusts slowed, and every sensation was heightened. Her tongue, the roof of her mouth, even her fingertips—they all tingled with pleasure. Flashes danced behind her eyelids, and she held her breath as she went to the farthest edges of ecstasy.
It only took a few seconds of his slow, measured strokes before his release followed. Mike gave a guttural moan, fisting her hair and kissing her nape possessively. He whispered against her earlobe, “You are more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen.” He slipped out of her but immediately grabbed her hips and roughly pulled her until he cradled her ass against his groin and pulled them to lie on the bed.
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