Liza lit the oil lamp and took a last look around. Firelight reflected off the newly waxed floor, giving the room a mellow golden hue. The office was spotless, window gleaming. A pot of stew simmered on top of the black iron woodstove in the corner, lending a mouthwatering aroma to the underlying scent of wood polish.
She headed up the stairs to the bedroom. Floor scrubbed, clean sheets on the narrow iron bed. The bright yellows and reds in the handful of wildflowers she’d picked when he took her for a walk at lunchtime added a festive note in an old canning jar on the window ledge. Still, the room looked stark.
She turned slowly in a circle. Maybe tomorrow she’d take a dollar out of the stash hidden in a pocket of her reticule and ask Blackthorne to take her to the general store when they went for their daily walk. She’d buy a few yards of fabric. A pair of calico curtains at the window, she mused, that’s what the room needed. With the rest of the material she could start on a colorful quilt for the bed. It would make the hours pass. Goodness knew she’d run out of things to clean.
“Something smells powerful good in here.” Blackthorne’s voice carried up to the second floor as the door banged shut behind him.
She went to the top of the stairs to greet him. “It’s stew. One of the few dishes I can cook. We ate a lot of stew back at the boardinghouse when mama was… indisposed.”
He bounded up the steps and swept her into his arms for a kiss. She turned her head away and he ended up pecking her on the cheek. Undaunted, he took her hand, pressing it to his lips.
Blackthorne stopped at the door of the bedroom and let out a low whistle.
“Looks like these hands have been busy. This room never looked so good.”
“I have to stay busy or I’ll go crazy. I’ve only been locked up here for six days but it feels like it’s been six months.”
“You know, I could use some help in the office. The government is always sending me notices, forms. I’m a doer, not somebody who sits around pushing a pencil. I don’t have the patience for it. Mostly I throw them in the trash. But once in a while something looks important enough to bother with it. If you are willing to take over all that, I might have time to take you out for a walk twice a day instead of only once. Maybe an evening stroll around town.”
Her face lit up, then he saw a crafty gleam come into her eyes. “So you’re offering me a job? What are the wages?”
“Think of it more as a prisoner earning his bed and board by doing chores around the jailhouse,” he shot back.
“Well, anything is better than scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees again.”
She headed down the stairs. Fetching two battered tin plates from a shelf in the jailhouse, she dished out heaping servings of stew from the iron pot bubbling on top of the pot-bellied stove. She swept aside a fresh stack of papers on the desk and set the plates down.
Sighing, she glanced over at the knee-high pile of mail he’d stacked next to the stove to use as kindling. She couldn’t abide a mess, but some of those envelopes looked too important to simply burn without opening. She’d have plenty of work to pass the time sorting through all that.
He’d pulled a wooden chair up to the desk and stood behind it, waiting. She sighed again and sat down. When they were together, Blackthorne insisted on carrying on the charade that they were a couple. Helping her with her chair when they sat down to dinner as though they were in a fine restaurant. Tucking her arm in his as they strolled down the street. She tolerated it, but couldn’t wait to pull her arm back. By now it was force of habit. She despised being touched.
At least, she had before she met Blackthorne. Though she hated to admit it, she not only accepted his touch, she’d begun to look forward to it. He’d casually stroke her hair when he walked by or give her a quick hug for no reason. Sweet, gentle gestures that required nothing in return. Lately she found herself wanting to reciprocate. To put her palm against his cheek or reach out to hold his hand.
And she fought against that desire every minute that she was around him.
In her business, she’d had plenty of men wanting to spend time with her. They sat down at the poker table, got liquored up, and mistook her flirting for an invitation. Over the years, she’d turned down half a dozen sincere proposals—as well as hundreds of equally sincere, but explicitly obscene ones. She had no intention of tying herself to anyone. She’d seen the havoc that the obsession to be with a man, any man, played on her mother’s life. And until Blackthorne, sex had never been enjoyable enough to bother putting up with all the other distasteful masculine behaviors just to get it.
Liza studied him by the flickering light of the candle he’d brought to the desk. Lord knew he was handsome. If she’d been out to choose a man based on the look that appealed to her, he’d have won hands down. Tall and broad-shouldered, with a full head of dark wavy hair he wore long enough to brush his collar. Dark eyes that flashed with humor sometimes above a thick brown moustache. Powerful muscle rippling beneath the smooth skin under his white shirt. She flashed back to the memory of that full moustache tickling her inner thighs when he bent his head between them last night to taste her. His smooth bronzed skin covered with a shiny film of sweat as he slid his cock inside her.
“You’re so quiet. Is everything all right?” He studied her face, a note of concern in his voice.
“I’m fine,” she snapped. Damn the man. He missed very little. Thank heavens he hadn’t been able to feel the flood of dampness she’d just experienced at the thought of his hot hard cock claiming her again. It wouldn’t do for him to know just how much she craved his lovemaking. He’d only use it to gain power over her. Not lovemaking, the little voice reminded her. It’s only sex. You’ve had sex before. His may be better than any you’ve ever had, but underneath it all, he’s still a man. Men take everything you have to give—and then leave.
“You’re tired and probably bored. I know you’re not used to being cooped up day after day. But I’m proud of the way you’ve settled in, Lizzie. It can’t have been an easy life for a woman—traveling from town to town with no real home, having to be at the top of your game every night just to earn a living.”
“I love it,” she replied defiantly. “And it doesn’t take much in the way of brains to beat most men. They’re usually so busy imagining my lips around their cocks that they hardly pay attention to the game.”
Usually he objected when she made a crude remark but this time he refused to rise to the challenge.
“I can understand that. I spend a lot of time imagining how it will feel when your lips are around my cock.” His eyes bored into hers.
She flushed. He’d never demanded that of her. So far, he’d concentrated on her pleasure before his own, always waiting to put his thick shaft into her until she was so aroused that she’d beg for it. She hated him for that the most—reducing her to a wanton slut desperate for the kind of release only he could provide.
“Are you going to handcuff me again and force me to do it?”
His tone grew stern. “I’ve never done that. I haven’t forced you to do anything you didn’t want to do… except stay here, follow the rules, and serve out your sentence.”
Liza never knew what perverse demon made her pick up her plate of stew and hurl it across the room.
“You and your damn rules!” she cried out. “I’m sick to death of your rules! Don’t lie. Don’t cheat. Talk like a lady. Control your temper. Don’t yell. Well, guess what? I’ll yell at you any damn time I want.”
His eyes narrowed. “That’s right. Those are my rules. You don’t lie to me. You don’t cheat anyone. Ever. And you treat me with respect. You know what I said I’d do to punish you if you broke any of them. Lizzie, right now I think you’re aching for a spanking.”
She got up so fast that her chair fell backwards and hit the floor with a crash. “Hit me again? You’d love that, wouldn’t you? You’ve just been waiting for an excuse. Dragging me over your lap like some big brute, baring my bottom and then getting aroused as you spank me and fondle my private parts? Then you’ll take me like you did that first night—from behind while you hold me down, bent over. Helpless.”
He stood up too. “Apologize. And then clean up that mess.”
“You can clean it up yourself. Then go to hell.”
Two long strides had him right in front of her. “Sometimes, I swear you’re just trying to get me angry. See how far you can push me before I put my foot down. You want a spanking? Fine. You’re getting one.”
He picked up the chair she’d knocked over and set it upright. Sinking down, he dragged Liza, kicking and screaming, over his lap. He locked her legs between his iron-hard thighs, pulled her skirt up to her waist and gave her a harsh smack over her drawers. She twisted sideways and tried to rake his face with her nails.
Blackthorne responded by grabbing both her wrists in one huge hand, trapping them behind her back as he held her face down. He began spanking her, hard, ignoring her cries and curses.
“Are you ready to apologize?”
Liza was so angry she barely felt the sting. Blackthorne was insufferable! Putting her over his knee, treating her like a wayward child.
“To a brute like you? Never!” she spat.
He yanked her drawers apart at the rear opening, tearing them off her. She shrieked.
“You won’t be needing these anymore,” he remarked. “From now on while you’re here, your ass will be bare under your skirt. If you’re going to act like a brat, you’ll be hauled across my knee with your skirt up to your waist and your ass available for a tanning any time it’s called for.”
He gave her a harsh whack. “I’ve been soft on you, Lizzie. Taken your rudeness, your nasty remarks. Hoped that by treating you politely, you’d begin to treat me that way too. But it’s clear that strategy isn’t working. So from now on, instead of ignoring them, I’m going to respond to every single nasty remark of yours, every rude outburst, with a bare bottom spanking and a trip to the corner afterwards—with your skirt held up to your waist so I can see how red and hot I’ve made this stubborn backside.”
His words sent a delicious thrill through her, even as his hand lit a fire on her bottom. Would he really spank her like this every time she displeased him? She bucked against him, deliberately rubbing her mound against the hard bulge in his trousers.
He responded by smacking her again, even harder. “Oh, no. You’ll not dissuade me with that. And there will be no reward for you tonight. I’m going to spank you so hard you’ll sleep on your stomach, bottom burning and pussy aching, no matter how much you beg me to pleasure you afterwards.”
She let out a wail at that. His first two spankings had left her bottom sore and inflamed—and her moist center hot and hungry. She hadn’t needed to beg him all that much. He’d been anxious to see to her need, arousing her passion and then satisfying it until she screamed. But this time he sounded truly angry.
He spanked her over and over, his flat palm coming down on one cheek, then the other. Liza howled and writhed on his lap, but he wouldn’t be dissuaded. Then he switched, spanking her only on one side again and again until her poor bottom was on fire.
“Please,” she begged. “No more. Please.”
“You want me to stop spanking you like this?”
“All right.” He responded by turning his attention to her other cheek, smacking it over and over instead.
Liza jerked convulsively. “Damn you!”
“Still cursing? It appears this isn’t working. I think a more serious punishment is in order.”
He rose. Dragging Liza by the arm, he took her into the next room and locked her in one of the cells, then walked out of the room.
She grabbed the bars. “What the hell are you doing? Let me out of here!”
He turned back in the doorway. “Oh, I will. In due time,” he replied. “This punishment session isn’t over yet. I have some things I need to collect first. But I have a feeling you’ll be pleading with me to lock you up for the rest of your sentence instead by the time we’re through.”
Blackthorne collected the flat wooden paddle his predecessor had left in a desk drawer. He suspected it had been used to deter any future crime sprees in the occasional wayward youth who found himself under the sheriff’s custody. Then he rummaged for one particular item. He’d gotten it a few days ago from a cheating scoundrel he’d caught trying to pass off tired old horses as spunky young stallions. Once, years ago, he’d been told that a plug of peeled ginger root worked just as well on a naughty female, lighting the same kind of fire inside her bottom as it did in the backside of an old nag, making her dance and gyrate as wildly as the horse.
If ever a woman needed punishing both inside and out, it was Lizzie. Lord knows he’d tried treating her kindly. Showing her by example that she didn’t need to make her point by losing her temper and shouting. But she persisted in treating him like an adversary. Spurning every attempt he made at gentleness, at tenderness. Calling him vile names whenever he tried to get close.
Not physically. There she’d accepted his attention, even begged for more. But if he showed any softness outside the bedroom, any caring, it seemed to raise her ire. It was as though she’d split herself into two parts. One took pleasure in the physical sensations he aroused, exhibiting a wild sexual nature. But outside the bedroom, the other denied all feelings—except anger. It was as though showing him affection would be tantamount to exposing weakness to a sworn enemy.
He grabbed the handcuffs and headed for the jail room, the key to her cell dangling in his hand. Liza had shouted herself hoarse by now. She glared at him defiantly.
“It’s about time. Let me out, you bastard!”
He raised the paddle. “From now on, every time you curse at me, you’re getting five swats. On your bare ass, since you won’t be wearing drawers around here anymore.”
She shrieked another curse.
“That’s ten,” he replied calmly. “On top of everything else you have coming.”
He unlocked the cell. Liza backed away from him. He took her arm and dragged her out, propelling her up the stairs to the bedroom.
He closed the door and stood in front of it. “Take off your clothes.”
She shook her head violently. “Never!”
“Take off your clothes. If I have to do it, they’re coming off anyway and you’ll get ten extra whacks with this paddle.”
She ran across the room, putting the narrow bed between them. “You vile beast!”
He started around the bed and she dived across it. Blackthorne moved fast, pinning her face down on the bed. He unfastened the buttons on the back of her dress, one by one, ignoring her shrieks of anger, then pulled the garment off her. The chemise he wrestled over her head, leaving her naked body draped across his bed. He leaned forward with one arm resting on the delicate skin of her back to hold her in place.
Blackthorne took a moment to admire the sight of her tiny waist, small enough that he could span it with both hands, swelling into those full hips and curvy backside. Lying there face down over his bed, her body looked so alluring he had to restrain himself from running his hands over it. Instead, he got down to business.
He pulled her arms out from under her, stretching them forward in front of her head, and snapped the handcuffs on her wrists. She started to cry. Blackthorne reminded himself it was another one of her tricks.
“You’re getting punished, Lizzie. You might as well resign yourself to the fact. I’m going to paddle your ass. But first, I have something special in store for you. And I don’t want you to be able to use your hands until your punishment is over.”
She turned her head to glare at him. He got out his pocket knife and began peeling the ginger, whittling until he had a piece as long and thick around as his middle finger, rounding it at one end.
“Have you ever had one of these up your ass?”
Her eyes widened in horror. “What is that?”
“It’s called ginger root. I’m told it burns and stings like the dickens, especially if you clench your bottom tight around it. Your hands are cuffed in front of you, so you can’t get it back out by yourself. I suggest you lie there quietly and take your punishment like a good girl, because if you try to resist, it will only make things worse.”
He stood on the side of the bed and pulled her backwards until she was bent over the edge. Then he stuffed the pillow and blanket under her stomach, lifting her so that her feet dangled just above the floor.
“Spread your legs, Lizzie.”
She snarled at him and he whacked her soundly with the paddle. She let out a howl. He gave her another smack.
“I said spread your legs. You might as well do as you’re told, because I’m just going to keep paddling you until you do. Then we’ll start your punishment.”
Fighting back tears of anger and pain, Liza reluctantly opened her legs an inch.
He gave her another hard whack. “More.”
She whimpered but spread her legs father apart. Blackthorne looked down at her tight rear entry and the lips of her pussy, damp with dew. His cock stiffened and he cursed inwardly as he realized this punishment was going to be as hard on him as it was on her.
Spreading her further apart, he pressed the rounded tip of the ginger against her bottom hole. She gasped. He increased the pressure, sliding it past the tight entrance. She began wiggling around on the bed.
“No! Don’t! It’s too big. It’s…”
Suddenly her voice changed from a whine to a shriek. “Oh, Lord! It burns! Take it out. I’m on fire!”
He pushed harder, lodging the ginger deep inside her. “Relax. If you try to squeeze it out, it will only sting more. Now lie there and don’t move. You’re getting thirty whacks with this paddle.”
She nearly fainted at that, then wished she had as he began bringing the paddle down on her naked bottom. She tried clenching her cheeks. Then wiggling. It was no use trying to force the horrid thing out. Every stroke of the broad paddle across her bottom wedged the ginger root deeper inside her. And if she tightened around it, a fresh bolt of fire seared her back passage.
She begged. She pleaded. She promised to do things so wicked that thinking about it afterward made her blush. But Blackthorne would not be dissuaded. He kept on swinging the paddle mercilessly, counting the strokes. Finally her sobs were so loud that they drowned out his voice.
He finished at last, tossing the paddle down onto the floor with a thud. She sagged against the bed, the sheet wet with her tears.
He hauled her to her feet and led her to the corner with her back to the room, hands still cuffed in front of her.
“Stand here and think about why you got punished. When you’re ready to apologize for your behavior, you can ask to come out.”
She spoke, hating the tremor in her voice. “Please… can you take out that—that thing?” The root had worked its way partially out when he led her across the room.
He reached between her legs, fingers exploring the area around her bottom hole. She blushed, glad he couldn’t see her face. Then she let out a howl as he put one finger against the end, shoving it back in.
“The ginger root stays where it is until you’re ready to apologize. Maybe having your ass on fire will remind you not to let your tongue get so hot in the future.”
He walked away and she heard the springs creak as he threw himself onto the bed.
The only sounds in the room were her gasps and moans as she hopped from one foot to the other, trying desperately to ignore the pain. Her bottom was ablaze from the harsh paddling. But it was nothing compared to the intense burning sensation of the horrid ginger plug lodged deep in her tight rear passage.
Worst of all, she could feel Blackthorne’s eyes boring into her. She imagined him staring at her reddened backside with the end of the ginger plug poking out of it. Witnessing her shame.
And she was ashamed. Not only of being in this humiliating position, but of the mean-spirited behavior that got her here. Every time he reached out, she exploded. She couldn’t explain what there was about his kindness that triggered her anger. But she did know that beneath the anger was fear. He’d told her she couldn’t lie any more. And suddenly she realized she’d been lying to herself far more than she’d ever lied to him. Deep down, if she admitted the truth, she was afraid that if she allowed herself to care about Blackthorne, one day he’d walk out of her life and shatter her heart. It was safer to push him away first than face the pain of having him leave.
He never made a sound, allowing her to be alone with her thoughts until she couldn’t bear it any longer.
“How long must I stay here?” she asked, trying to keep a petulant whine out of her voice.
“You know the answer to that.” His voice was flat.
She bit her tongue, swallowing the angry retort that popped into her mind immediately. But swallowing her pride proved much more difficult.
“I… I’m sorry,” she finally managed to whisper.
“Sorry for what?”
He wasn’t going to make this any easier. She’d almost decided that she’d rather stand here until she fell asleep on her feet than bow to his will. That is, until another wave of intense heat from the ginger poured through her bottom. She choked back an anguished cry.
“I’m sorry I was rude to you and called you names. And I’m sorry I lost my temper and threw my dinner plate.”
He was silent for so long she wondered if he’d even heard her.
“Do you have anything else to say?”
Her mind went blank. What more could he possibly want? Then it came to her.
“Can you… will you… forgive me?”
He crossed the room in two strides. Turning her around, he gathered her into his arms.
“Yes, Lizzie, I forgive you.”
He lifted her trembling body into his arms and carried her back to the bed. Laying her on her side, he unlocked the handcuffs, then rolled her onto her stomach and slowly pulled the ginger root out of her burning bottom.
“Oh! It hurts worse now!”
Blackthorne pulled her onto his lap, cuddling her like a child. “It will ease soon, Lizzie. I’m sorry I had to do that. But it seemed like there was no way to get through to you. Sometimes I think the only thing you understand is harsh treatment.”
She started to cry, silent tears coursing down her face.
“I… I don’t trust kindness. Every time a man has treated me kindly, he’s only wanted one thing from me. Once he got it, he left. But with you—even after we’ve fucked, you’re still nice to me. I keep waiting for you to tell me to go away, that you’ve had enough of me.”
Blackthorne tilted her face up to meet his eyes. “Look at me, Lizzie. I know we started out badly. I can understand why you think all I want is to spank you and fuck you. But I want more than that. Deep down inside you, I think there’s a gentle loving woman who has never felt safe enough to come out. You don’t have to be afraid of me. I may punish you sometimes when your behavior is unacceptable. But that’s because I care. I won’t hurt you. Not the way you fear. I want you to feel safe with me. Safe enough to set that beautiful loving woman free for the first time in your life.
“I told you I want more than fucking from you. And I’m going to prove it. Although I want you very much right now, I’m going to take off my clothes, get into this bed, and hold you close all night. Cry all you need to. Cry away the pain and the fear. Cry until your tears cause a flood that carries away the wall you’ve built around your heart. I’ll be right here. Waiting to meet that woman you’ve hidden from the world.”
She broke then. Bitter tears she’d refused to shed, no matter how harsh his punishments, poured out of her. Liza sobbed, huge gulping cries that wracked her whole body. Blackthorne made soothing sounds and held her tight, her head pressed against his shirt, as she collapsed in his arms and let the torrent flow.
This content is linked through SNP’s Newsletter! Don’t miss out on all the free content! It doesn’t stick around long! Add your email below!