“Hey, wait up!” Jace dug his heels into the thick sides of his gray quarter horse gelding, pushing the horse to a gallop in an effort to overtake the leggy paint mare carrying Lily Mae.
When Jace had offered to take Lily Mae riding, he’d pictured a nice meandering stroll along the trails. But Lily Mae had other ideas; as soon as they were by the open field, she’d taken off on the little mare.
Jace was tempted to tell his girl that she’d earned another licking for just assuming she could take off without him, but that was before she looked back laughing and pointed toward a hill in the distance. At the top was a grove of oaks and the swimming hole where they’d passed many an hour as youngsters.
Lily Mae had already dismounted by the time Jace reached the pond.
“What took you so long, cowboy?” she asked. She was sitting on the ground, pulling off her boots, her eyes bright with mischief.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Jace asked.
“What’s it look like I’m doing?” She stood up, undoing her jeans and pushing them down before pulling off her t-shirt.
“Looks to me like you’re about to go skinny dipping.”
“Good work, detective.” Lily Mae walked over, her hips swaying seductively. When she reached Jace’s horse, she took hold of her boyfriend’s leg and looked up at him. “Join me?”
She didn’t need to ask him twice. Soon both horses were grazing as their now-naked riders laughed and splashed in the water.
“I can’t ever remember being this happy,” Lily Mae said when Jace took hold of her. She wrapped her legs around his waist, pressing her breasts against his muscular chest as she ran her hands through his sandy-colored hair.
“Me, neither,” he said. “And I want to marry you, Lily Mae Slater. Just as soon as we get all this bill stuff settled.”
“I’ll pay you back,” she said. “I’ll work, Jace. I’ll…”
“Baby, that’s not necessary,” he said. “All I’m going to require is for you to love me like you’ve been doing, help me on the ranch, and be honest with me about everything. Dishonesty is a deal-breaker, but I’m not worried that you’d throw away what we have by ever lying to me.”
Was it his imagination, or did she stiffen in his arms and look away?
“You hear me, baby?”
“Of course, Jace.” She hugged him tight and Jace looked up at the sky.
“It’s such a pretty day,” he said. “We’re almost finished fencing in that pasture. Once that’s done we need to get to California and bring your stuff back. I talked to my accountant Wayne this morning. He spoke to the property manager about getting you out of your lease now that we managed to stop the eviction process. He thinks they can have a new tenant in there by the end of next month, so we need to get that place cleaned out.”
He felt Lily Mae’s arms unwind from his neck as she slipped from his grasp.
“I don’t know,” she said, turning away. “I don’t think I want to mess with it.”
“Don’t want to mess with it?” Jace started after Lily Mae, who was climbing out of the water. “You told me yourself that you have a ton of expensive jewelry you bought, not to mention all your fancy clothes and furniture.”
Lily Mae wasn’t looking at him as she reached for her panties. “I don’t need any of that stuff,” she said.
Jace had exited the pond and pulled on his jeans and shirt. He caught up with Lily Mae now and reached for her hand.
“It’s not a matter of need, baby,” Jace reasoned with a laugh. “You ran up quite a credit card debt buying all that stuff. I went and paid it off for you. I want you to have it.”
“Well, maybe I don’t fucking want it!” Lily Mae spat and moved to pull away, but Jace held her fast.
“Why not?” he pressed. “What’s gotten into you? Why don’t you want to get your belongings?”
“I just don’t, goddamnit! And I don’t have to explain myself, either.”
Jace jerked the panties out of Lily Mae’s hand and stuffed them in his shirt pocket.
“I disagree. We talked about this,” he said. “I told you I wouldn’t put up with your temper tantrums.” He paused. “You’ve earned yourself a switching, young lady.”
That got her attention. “Jace, no…”
“Did you or did you not agree to my rules, Lily Mae?”
“I did, but…” Her hand had already flown back to cover her wet, naked bottom. “I’m naked!”
“As the day you were born,” he agreed. “And after today I have all ideas you’ll think twice before sassing without your pants on.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a knife. “Here.”
She looked up at him.
“You can’t be serious,” she said tearfully, and Jace wanted to kiss the trembling lower lip, but knew now wasn’t the time.
“Yes, I certainly am.” He inclined his head toward the willow tree by the pond. “You’re cutting your own switch, missy.”
“The hell I am!” Lily Mae backed away, looking at the knife as if it were a snake.
“If I have to do it, you’re getting twenty instead of ten.” Jace paused long enough to allow the threat to sink in. “Don’t be stubborn, Lily Mae. You know I mean what I say.”
She crossed her arms, and he could tell she was considering the cost of disobeying. After a moment, she reached for the pocket knife with a trembling hand and turned to the willow tree.
Jace took a seat on a nearby rock and watched as Lily Mae reluctantly headed to the tree. The early afternoon sun glinted off her tan, damp skin. Her long hair hung nearly to her waist. When she turned, he got a full view of her perfect bottom. Damn, but that girl was made to be spanked. He shifted where he sat, discreetly adjusting his stiffening cock where it now nudged against the fly of his faded jeans.
Lily Mae was reaching up now, the position of her arms so that the upward-tilting breasts were visible to his gaze, the little nipples rosy and pert. He wondered if her pussy was wet, despite her dread. Jace imagined bending her over and fucking her pussy, then fucking her tight, striped ass after he switched it. But there was a time and a place for sex, and he needed to start sending the message that when he punished her, it was solely for correction.
She’d selected the switch and was walking back now, looking for all the world like a seductive nymph. But Jace set his mouth in a grim line as he boosted his resolve. Lily Mae had always had a fiery temper, and had been on her own a long time without anyone to rein her in. She needed to realize she couldn’t just sass and curse him whenever she didn’t get her way.
It was a lesson he was about to teach her.
Jace stood to take the switch and the knife, and Lily Mae whimpered as she watched him skin the bark from the limber little branch she’d selected. He knew she’d never been switched, but he also knew that any girl growing up in west Texas was well aware of the dreaded practice.
Tears were welling in Lily Mae’s eyes as Jace put the knife back in his pocket, took hold of her arm, and turned her to the side.
“Move that hand,” he said when she instinctively moved it to the middle of her bottom. When she didn’t, he raised an eyebrow. “Lily Mae…”
With a scared little moan, she obeyed, and the switch flicked across the middle of her bottom, raising a welt as her cry startled several birds into fleeing the surrounding trees.
“It hurts!” she cried, trying to lower herself to the ground. The look she shot Jace was one of fear and betrayal, but he steeled himself against any pity he was tempted to give.
“It’s supposed to hurt,” he growled, and lifted her up as he brought the switch down again. This blow caught the underside of her cheeks, and she danced at the end of his arm, howling, as he brought the switch down again.
The fourth and fifth blows caught her thighs. By now Lily Mae was bawling and begging, and her struggles were so animated that Jace knew the only way to effectively finish the task was to put her over his knee. Taking his seat on the boulder, he did just that, catching her lower legs between his as he wrapped one arm around her tiny waist. This left her bottom a helpless target, and with Lily Mae thus restrained, he landed five more stinging stripes to her upturned nates.
She was a sobbing mess by the time he was done, her body slumped in helpless defeat to his authority. Jace tossed the switch aside and looked down at her bottom. He’d tilted her slightly upward after the seventh lick, and her cheeks had parted slightly, he realized, giving him a glimpse of her pussy. Just as he’d suspected, she was wet, the inner lips engorged and protruding through bare labia. His eyes traveled up to the rosy crinkle of her bottom hole. He remembered how she’d groaned with animalistic pleasure when he’d breached it with his fingers. The girl was a natural submissive, his perfect complement. It was his place to make her mind, but it was also his place to take her to the very outer reaches of pleasure. And he would, but first things first.
He lifted her off his lap before his cock could betray him completely by poking into her soft belly.
“Are you going to watch that tongue of yours?” he asked.
“Yes…” she wailed.
“Good girl.” He stood, giving her a hug. “You know I love you to death, Lily Mae. And we’re going to grow old together here on this ranch surrounded by our kids and grandkids. But make no mistake; whether you’re twenty-five or seventy-five, if you sass me I’m going to light that ass up, understand?”
She nodded. Her cries had diminished to little hiccoughing sobs now, and Jace took her in his arms. “Clean slate, baby. Clean slate.” He kissed her on the head. “Now get dressed. We’ve been out here longer than I intended and I’ve got to get back to work.”
“No, you don’t,” she pouted. “You own the ranch. You can spend the day with me if you want.”
“You’re right,” he said. “But I want you to spend the day thinking about why your butt is so sore. Now go on…”
Lily Mae pouted, but dressed nonetheless. Jace could tell she didn’t want to get back in the saddle, but he made her do it anyway. It was part of the lesson.
She kept her horse at a walk now, the mare moving easily as if she knew her rider couldn’t take much jostling. As they were heading over the hill, the ranch foreman, Lyle, met them coming up the other side.
“Hey, boss.” He tipped his hat toward Lily Mae. “Ma’am.” When she nodded in reply, Lyle turned to Jace. “That quarter horse mare is foaling, but something ain’t right. I’ve called Doc Harper, but I figured you might want to get to the barn.”
“Damn,” Jace said. “She’s early. I hope this isn’t going to end badly.”
“Can I come?” Lily Mae asked.
Jace turned to her. “No, baby. I want you back at the house. You know why, so go on.”
There were tears in Lily Mae’s eyes as she pulled her horse toward home without a word.
Lyle watched her go.
“Everything okay?” he asked.
Jace sighed. “Nothing I can’t handle,” he said. “Lily Mae got set in her ways out in California. Now that she’s back in my life, she’s having to learn that she can’t always get her way. Sometimes it rubs her wrong.”
Lyle chuckled as he and Jace headed toward the large barn east of the house. “Well, no one’s going to judge you for it. You always were the only one who could handle that girl when we were growing up. It shocked us all when she up and ran off like she did. We all thought you two would find your way back together. I just hope…”
“Hope what?” Even though he was in a hurry, Jace pulled his horse up short. Beside him, his foreman did the same, resting an elbow on his saddle horn as he turned to look at Jace.
“She was gone a long time, Jace. Who knows what she got into in California. I know she and her mama weren’t close, but apparently Helen claimed to be worried about what her daughter was doing out there.” He paused. “You sure you know what you’re getting into? I’d hate to see something come up later to ruin things for you two. I’m thinking it would hurt worse to lose her the second time around.”
Jace looked down the hill. In the distance he could see Lily Mae riding up to his house—their house, now. He’d offered to share everything with her without so much as a second thought. But now Lyle’s cautionary words combined with the memory of Lily Mae’s outburst at the pond had him wondering if there wasn’t something going on with her that she was hiding.
He looked over at his friend. “You’re right,” he said. “It would hurt more the second time around. But I aim to do all I can to keep her. If it falls apart this time, it won’t be because I didn’t try.” He sighed heavily. “But enough of this. We’ve got a horse to see to.”
Lily Mae stood in front of the full-length mirror in the bedroom she shared with Jace, looking at the thin welts his switching had left on her bottom. Tears slipped from her eyes and trailed down her cheeks, but those tears weren’t because he’d punished her. He was right; she’d earned it. What’s more, he’d cared enough to give her exactly the kind of limits they both knew she needed.
No, the tears were for fear of losing the man and the life she’d always dreamed of, and for doing exactly what she’d promised not to do—lying to Jace.
The truth was that she did want her belongings. The townhouse contained not just everything she’d worked for, but everything Jace had so graciously kept her from losing. But by now Tony Orzo had to know she’d left town, and he’d be waiting for her if she came back.
How could she explain her association with a man like that, or the tacit promise she’d made in a moment of desperation? And even if Jace forgave her, Tony wouldn’t. Lily had heard rumors about what happened to people who crossed him. A chill ran though her as she considered the safety of the man she loved.
Dropping the hem of the flowered dress over her thong, she headed into the kitchen. From the window, she could see the barn. The veterinarian’s truck had been parked outside for over two hours, and she’d wanted to go check on things but Jace had told her to stay in the house and she owed it to him to listen.
Lily Mae figured whatever happened in the barn, her man would appreciate a good dinner. One of the joys of her new life was the huge farmhouse kitchen with its sub-zero fridge and freezer, double ovens, and huge six-burner gas range.
The room was filling with the smells of baking bread and slow-cooked roast with new potatoes, carrots, and sweet pearl onions. Lily Mae hummed as she began gathering the ingredients for a pineapple upside-down cake. If she were in L.A., she’d be either on a job or trying to hustle work in between fielding phone calls from her creditors.
Several times she’d told Jace she’d get back to work as soon as she could to pay him back, but he’d brushed it aside. “I’m happier just having you cook and look pretty,” he said. “It does my heart good to have something to come home to at the end of the day.” It had been such a delightfully old-fashioned sentiment and so… so Jace. And Lily Mae realized that she’d be quite happy being a housewife to Jace Whitaker. A submissive housewife.
She blushed at that last admission. In L.A. she’d developed the kind of Type A personality necessary to compete in her competitive field. Sweet, soft southern girls didn’t survive in the big city, and with no Jace in her life, she’d given free rein to her feisty side until it had grown downright obnoxious. Now, after just a few weeks living with Jace, she could feel herself soften into her new role. The primped and hurried woman in the clicking heels and business suit seemed like someone else now.
“Smells good in here!” Jace’s voice interrupted her thoughts, and she turned from the counter to see him standing behind her holding a bouquet of wildflowers in his hand.
“Oh, Jace, they’re beautiful!” Lily Mae hugged him. It felt good to feel his arms go around her, especially after knowing how she’d disappointed him that morning. But he’d told her the slate was clean, and the kiss he planted on her lips reaffirmed that.
“What happened with the mare?” Lily Mae asked as she put the flowers in a vase with some water.
“She gave birth to a big healthy colt.” Jace smiled down at her. “You want to meet him? He was up and nursing like a champ when I left.”
“Oh, thank god,” Lily Mae replied. “And I’d love to. Just let me get this cake in the oven.”
“Sounds good. I need to wash up anyway.”
Ten minutes later, Jace was back downstairs in a fresh shirt and blue jeans. Lily Mae felt her heart swell with happiness. He was so handsome, with his easy smile and boy-next-door good looks.
“We’re out of pineapple,” she said. “You need to pick up some when you go to the market.”
“You can do it,” he said.
She dropped her gaze, embarrassed. “I would, but I’m kind of broke.”
“No, you’re not, sunshine.” He gave her a gentle tap under the chin. “I added you to the checking account yesterday when I was in town.”
“You did?” Lily Mae was surprised.
“I figured it would make life easier for both of us if you can do the marketing and pick up things from the hardware store.”
“You trust me?” she asked.
“Your past is just that, Lily Mae. The past. And I’m convinced that any woman who gets that excited about a bouquet of wildflowers is past the need for spending sprees. Besides, baby, you can have anything you want. All you have to do is ask.”
The ranch hands had gone home for the day, and the barn was empty when Jace and Lily Mae walked in. The big bay mare had endured a difficult delivery, Jace said; the baby had been large and turned the wrong way.
“Doc did a great job, and as it turns out, it was a good thing the mare delivered a little early. If she’d gone all the way to term, he doesn’t think that baby would have come out.”
“He sure looks good now,” Lily Mae said, smiling as she watched the foal bump the mare’s udder with its nose. Its mother whickered softly, nuzzling the foal’s back as it began to nurse greedily.
“He needs a name,” Jace said. “I figured you might be able to help me come up with one.”
Lily Mae smiled. “What’s his mama’s name?”
“Well, her barn name is Penny. But her registered name is Doc Bar Chance of a Lifetime.”
Lily Mae looked around the barn. The light coming down the aisle was beautiful this time of day.
“How about Second Chance? We can call him Chance.”
Jace took her into his arms. “That sounds like a great name,” he said. His hands roamed her back and then slid lower to cup her bottom cheeks. “How’s the backside?” he asked.
“A bit sore,” she said, winding her arms around his neck. “If only there were someone to kiss and make it better.”
“Naughty girl,” Jace replied, taking her hand and pulling her across the barn aisle into the tack room. Reaching up, he pulled a riding crop off the wall. “You should know better than to tempt a man with an access to leather.”
Lily Mae gasped as Jace suddenly turned her around and pushed her to bending over a wooden saddle rack. For a moment, she feared she was in trouble due to the way he jerked the hem of her dress up and roughly pulled down her panties. But then his hand was roaming her bottom, his fingers tracing the fading welts he’d left earlier.
She moaned as he kicked her legs apart and began to gently tap the outer lips of her pussy with the tab at the end of the riding crop. It was a strangely erotic feeling.
“That’s a naughty pussy you’ve got there, ma’am,” he said. “It’s a distraction to a decent man.”
She looked over her shoulder at Jace, arching her back as she did so. The tab of the crop continued to gently strike her pussy, generating wet little slapping sounds as she became more excited.
“Do you have any idea of all the ways I plan to fuck you?” Jace was leaning over, growling the words in her ear.
“Tell me,” she said.
He’d turned the crop around and was now inserting the braided leather handle into her pussy. She thrust back to meet it, keeping her gaze locked on Jace.
“I want to fuck your pussy until you can barely stand. And then I want to fuck that ass while I play with your clit. Is that something you can handle, baby?”
Handle? Lily Mae was so excited she couldn’t tell him what she was thinking—that he was putting her deepest fantasies into words. Ever since Jace had pushed his fingers into her ass she’d wondered if he’d take her there. No man had; her bottom hole was virginal. She told him so, and he smiled down at her, removed the handle of the crop from her pussy, and pushed it against the twitching rosebud of her anus.
Lily Mae groaned, digging her nails into the wood of the saddle rack. Her heart was pounding with excitement.
“Relax, baby,” he was saying. Jace had slipped two fingers into her slick pussy as he continued to push the handle of the crop against her bottom hole until the muscles relented enough for it to enter. The sensation was a delicious cocktail of pleasure and pain, with the thrill of being so utterly dominated only increasing Lily Mae’s arousal.
“Aaaaahhh!” she cried as he simultaneously fucked her ass and pussy with the crop handle and his fingers. Lily Mae was close to coming when Jace withdrew the crop handle, knelt down and thrust his tongue into her bottom hole while ramming his fingers up to the hilt in her pussy.
Lily Mae screamed from the unexpected taboo sensation, her pussy clenching rhythmically on his fingers, rocked by the wave of the strongest orgasm of her life.
“Did you like that, baby?” Jace had turned her around to face him, and Lily Mae was overcome with the desire to please him as he’d pleased her. Sinking to her knees, she wordlessly undid his belt and jerked his pants and briefs down. His cock sprang free just inches from her face.
Lily Mae cupped his balls, rolling them in her hands as her little pink tongue darted out to lap away the drop of pre-cum oozing from the slit on the velvety head of his cock. He had a beautiful cock, she thought, long and thick with a map of finely ridged veins visible under the skin. She traced one of those veins with her tongue before sliding her mouth over the head, sucking the smooth, mushroom tip of his cock until he was fisting her hair and groaning.
“Take all of me, baby,” he said, and she did, opening her mouth and relaxing her throat as his large hands cupped either side of her head. Jace was thrusting into her mouth now, and as she moved her head in time with his thrusts, her fingers sought her turgid clit and rubbed.
Lily Mae had given oral pleasure to other men, but with Jace it was different. Even now, he was controlling the action, making her feel so deliciously dominated as he set the pace of the thrusts, using her in a way that turned her on. She could feel his cock twitch and throb, could taste the slippery, salty flavor of him on her tongue. Lily Mae reveled in knowing she was about to make him come like this, was about to please him anew by swallowing his cum. When she felt it surge from his cock, she closed her lips tight around him and grabbed his ass tight, digging her nails into his well-muscled buttocks as she swallowed each creamy jet of his arousal.
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