Authors: Starla Kaye
He slid from the horse’s back and his legs almost gave out on him. “I left Denver three days ago.” He spoke quietly, defeated. Arrived here one damn day too late.
Daniel took the horse’s reins. “I’ll get him to the livery. You go clean up, get some rest.”
“Don’t see the point in it,” Adam mumbled.
Daniel wrinkled his nose. “Well, you smell pretty bad. Look like a mangy outlaw, too. You’re gonna scare folks.”
“I don’t care.” He still couldn’t believe Faith was gone. She’d threatened to leave, but he hadn’t believed she actually would. She had family here, friends…him. All right, she didn’t know she had him.
Daniel stepped into the street, started to lead the big bay gelding away. He stopped and looked back, in challenge. “Are you giving up now? Now that you’ve come to your senses.”
“She’s made it pretty clear that she doesn’t want me anymore. Hell, she left town.” Now he was irrationally angry.
Daniel gave him a cocky grin. “Faith said much the same thing about you. That you’d made it clear you didn’t want her because you ran off.”
“I didn’t run off,” Adam protested uncomfortably. “I decided to start fresh in California.”
“Angelica was actually the one who said you ran off, like a coward, I think she said.” At Adam’s scowl, Daniel grinned again. “She was right, you know. But I’m pleased to see you didn’t quite make it to California. Pleased to see you back here to face what you’ve done to our sweet Faith.”
As wrong as it was, Adam wanted to find sweet Faith and turn her over his knee. He wanted to spank her good for leaving him. She should have waited for him. Yes, it was irrational thinking, but he didn’t care.
He met Daniel’s amused gaze. “What the hell do you see funny about any of this?”
“It’s hard to say, but I just do. The mighty, I’m–never–falling–in–love–again Adam Braddock has to eat his words.” He chuckled. “And you’re going to have to do some riding to catch up with that stage.”
Adam wasn’t sure he could find the strength to get on another horse. But he knew he would. He headed for his barbershop. “I’m going to shave and get rid of this layer of dirt. Grab a meal and a night’s rest. I don’t figure I would make it another ten miles the way I am now.”
Daniel called out to him, “She’s headed for Kansas City.”
“I’ll catch up to her long before then.” Once he got his strength back he’d go after the woman he loved.
* * *
“Are you sure about this, Miss?” The stage driver set the last of Faith’s three bags down in the dirt. “I thought you were headed to Kansas City.”
Faith looked at the stage stop basically in the middle of nowhere, just over a day’s ride from Dryfork. They had pulled in to change horses and she’d made a sudden decision. She’d been thinking about it ever since she’d sat down on the stage yesterday. “I’ve changed my mind.”
The grizzled–looking man shook his head. “Well, the next stage headed back to Dryfork should come through here in a couple of days. Tom and his wife will watch after you until then. They’re good folks.”
They had already agreed to let her stay in one of their few rooms for guests from the passing stages. She’d felt comfortable with them, but she was anxious for the next stage. “I’ll be fine.”
Tom led fresh horses up and the driver went to help him. She picked up two of her bags and carried them to the porch of the weather–worn looking house. As she went back for the last satchel, she felt a tremble of anticipation pass through her. She didn’t know what it meant. All that mattered was that she knew in her gut she needed to go back to Dryfork. She was not giving up on Adam Braddock. If she had to, she would track the scoundrel down all the way to California. He needed her. He was just too stubborn to realize it.
* * *
Adam didn’t want to stop at the stage stop, but his horse was about worn out. He was pretty sure the stage headed east would have passed through here yesterday. He planned to leave his horse and borrow or buy, if need be, another horse and head out again as soon as possible.
“What are you doing here?”
He turned from easing off his horse next to the coral at the softly spoken, almost breathless sounding question. Faith? God, could his luck have finally changed that much?
“Adam Braddock, I’m talking to you.”
Everything in him wanted to run to her, sweep her into his arms, and kiss the hell out of her. But he tamped down that need. Instead he faced her, trying to frown, but feeling a smile slipping into place. She looked so pretty, so hopeful, and she was fighting tears.
That had him moving swiftly to where she stood on the edge of the porch. “Thought you were headed to Kansas City.”
To his surprise, she thrust up her chin. “I changed my mind.”
His heart pounded. He couldn’t ever remember feeling such a rush of need. “So where were you planning to go now?”
“To track you down.” She fidgeted with the side of her long black skirt, but she held her shoulders back. “You need me.”
He just gaped at her for a minute. The man near his age that ran this stage stop walked from around the side of the house. But he glanced from Adam to Faith and decided to go back the way he’d come. Good.
Adam couldn’t hold back a grin and walked directly in front of Faith. “Yes, I do.”
He watched her blink in confusion. Then she said shakily, “You’re admitting it?” Tears slid down her face. “You…you came after me.”
“Had to since I’m planning on making you my wife.” He reached up to thumb away the tears. Her skin was so soft and she smelled good, too.
She slapped his hand away. “That’s not much of a proposal.”
He chuckled and then grabbed hold of her hand and pulled her against him. “The best you’re going to get until after I burn your butt.”
She froze and looked up at him with widened eyes. “You want to spank me? Why?”
He held her tight to him with one arm and swatted her bottom with the other. She couldn’t have felt it much through the layers of clothing. “For giving up on me.”
“Stop it! Right now!” She tried to wriggle free, but he held her tight.
Swatting her again, harder this time, he said, “For leaving me.”
“You left me first.” But she settled closer, wrapping her arms around his waist. “Get on with this spanking. I’m ready for the proper proposal.”
Again he chuckled and released her. “Maybe another time. The spanking, I mean.”
He inched back and dropped to a knee. He took her hand, gently kissed the back, and smiled as fresh tears trickled down her face. Then he sucked in a breath and said the words he’d practiced during his ride to catch up with her. “I’m a hard man to live with sometimes, didn’t think I ever wanted to try marriage again. But I finally realized what a fool I’ve been. I didn’t really believe a woman could love me, not after…”
He shook off the memories of his first marriage, the harsh words Meredith had said to him many times. Faith was not Meredith.
“Never mind all that. What’s in the past needs to stay there. I’m focused on the future now.” He squeezed her hand, blinked back some tears of his own. “I need you, Faith Paddington, in my future. I need you to love me… and let me love you.”
“Do you, Adam? Do you love me?” She held his gaze and he saw such longing in her expression.
He stood, keeping hold of her hand. “I have for a long time, but I was too foolish to realize it before now.”
That adorable chin of hers lifted again. “Then I guess it’s time we got married.”
Blushing Publications thanks you whole–heartedly for your purchase with us!
There are plenty more stories such as the one you’ve purchased from Blushing Books! Visit our online store to view our might selection!
This book is intended for adults only. Spanking and other sexual activities represented in this book are fantasies only, intended for adults. Nothing in this book should be interpreted as advocating any non–consensual spanking activity or the spanking of minors.
Table of Contents