Authors: Starla Kaye
Adam climbed out of the chair and strode in front of his older brother, eye–to–eye with him. “Now look what you’ve gone and done,” he fumed.
“What has he done?” Caleb challenged as he walked closer. “You’re always complaining about Faith chasing after you. Complaining that you don’t want anything to do with her, that she needs to find someone else. Now she’ll have a good chance at that.”
Daniel had the gall to grin. “But it isn’t what he wants at all, don’t you see. Adam is just too pigheaded to admit he’s in love with her.”
Before he could think about his words, Adam blurted out, “Maybe I am in love with Faith Paddington. But I’m not ever going to do anything about it. Ever.”
More frustrated than he’d ever been, he strode toward the back door, kicked it open, and stormed out.
* * *
Sunday morning Faith walked grimly to her parents’ home, not to have breakfast with them even though she’d been invited to do so. No, she needed something from her father. As it turned out, he answered the door when she knocked. Good, bad, a bit of a relief in truth.
He took one look at the determined expression on her face and sighed. “What now, daughter?”
“I need to have a word with you…in private.”
He stepped aside to let her walk by him. “Your mother is making breakfast. We could talk after we eat.”
She shook her head. If she didn’t follow through right now with what she’d decided, she would change her mind. “I’m in need of a spanking, Father.” Never would she have thought she’d beg him for one. But lately she’d felt like she was caught in a whirlpool of making bad decisions.
“I’d have to agree,” he said and closed the door. “Although my reasons and yours are probably different.” He headed toward what had been her room. “Let’s take care of this unpleasantness and we’ll both feel better.”
Faith followed him, her stomach roiling. She was pretty sure physically she wouldn’t feel better once he’d taken care of this task. But, hopefully, some of the guilt weighing on her would be lessened once she paid for what she considered her indiscretions.
The small room seemed so much bigger now that the only piece of furniture remaining in it was a single, straight–backed chair. One he’d often used when he’d taken her to her room for a spanking. A chair she definitely had not wanted moved to her new place.
He moved directly to the chair and sat down while she softly closed the door. “There isn’t a lot of time, so don’t dilly–dally, daughter. Come over here and take the position.”
Take the position. Suddenly faced with the awkward moment, she wondered what she’d been thinking to come here like this. What sane woman would go to her father and ask to be spanked? But she was so confused about things, about her decisions, about her unruly thoughts. At the time she’d come up with this idea it had felt like the right answer. Spankings, although painful, always seemed to straighten her out. Still, she had trouble making her feet move.
“Come here. Now.” He patted his knee and looked grim.
She felt her face flaming and moved to stand beside him. The instant she stopped, he helped her bend over his lap. She flattened her hands on the wooden floor, her toes didn’t quite reach. Nerves twisted in her stomach and she dreaded what would come next. But she didn’t have more than a second before he shoved her skirt out of the way. She’d held a faint hope that he wouldn’t bare her bottom, a useless hope. He quickly parted the slit in her drawers and her face heated even more.
“Shall I bother listing my grievances with you, Faith Paddington? Or will you take the discipline I feel necessary without that?” He placed his arm over the small of her back in readiness.
“I…I…” She swallowed down her nervousness. She could imagine some of the issues that he felt were spankable offenses. But it was her own wrongdoings that she felt needed to be dealt with today. Yet she wasn’t going to tell him those for fear he would decide to bring out that awful strop. “No explanations are necessary,” she finally got out.
He hesitated and she worried that he would press her for why she believed she needed this spanking. Fortunately he didn’t. Instead he sent a sizzling smack down across her right cheek. It got her full attention. She hissed and kicked her legs out. ‘That was for not telling your parents about how you’d gotten injured while they’d been gone,’ she thought.
“Legs down,” he demanded.
She hadn’t realized they were still out and lowered them again. “Sorry.”
Six brisk swats, three to each cheek, echoed around the nearly empty room. She tensed at the biting sting. ‘Those were for lying to mother. When she asked you about Adam being seen going up to your apartment to check on you every day, you told her it wasn’t true. Lying is unacceptable.’
“Do you wish to tell me your reasons for being here today?” her father asked.
“No,” she whispered.
“Then I shall assume they are serious enough to make you realize you needed disciplining.” His hand fell sharply another time. “I shall spank you sufficiently to take care of that and what I believe necessary.”
“Yes, Father.” That didn’t sound particularly good, but at least he hadn’t decided to go get either the paddle or the dreaded strop.
His hard hand fell rapidly for at least a dozen times until he let her have a moment. She sucked in a breath and fought back tears that were ready to fall. ‘That had been because you wanted Adam more and more during those days he visited you. Wanted him in wanton ways. Dreamed wickedly of the two you together.’
Her father tucked her closer, held her down more firmly. She knew this meant the worst was coming and braced for it. He spanked her steadily, briskly for a good five minutes… although it seemed like an hour.
She was kicking her legs, squirming from side to side, sobbing when the door opened and her mother looked worriedly into the room. Faith was mortified, although she’d known at some point her mother would realize what was happening.
“Go away, Sarah,” her father said sternly. “I’m disciplining our daughter.”
“But…” her mother started in concern.
Before her father could respond, Faith looked at her sadly. “This was necessary,” she gasped and lowered her head again.
Her mother walked out without another word and closed the door.
By the time Faith left the house, she’d been soundly spanked and would have a miserable day ahead. More so because in the end her father had pulled off his belt and given her six terrible licks while she’d bent over the chair. Her fault. She’d been standing in front of him crying, recovering, when he’d asked her flat–out if she’d finally stopped chasing after Adam. She’d foolishly said No when she should have said Yes. He’d lectured her for a minute about how improper it was to keep chasing after a man who didn’t want her. Then he’d pulled off his belt to make sure she understood the importance of proper behavior.
She sniffled and walked gingerly until she came into view of the first of the town’s buildings. Not wanting anyone to suspect anything, she stiffened her spine and proceeded toward her store with her head held high. But each step, with her drawers and skirts brushing her tender bottom was awful. She wanted nothing more than to get up to her apartment and flop down on her bed. She wanted a good cry while the worst of the burn faded. And then she would carry on about her business.
“We can give you a ride to church, if you’d like.”
Faith froze, heart pounding at the sound of Jennie’s voice. She’d been too lost in her thoughts. She forced a smile and avoided meeting her friend’s eyes where she sat in a buggy next to Daniel. “I’m not going today, but thanks for the offer.”
“But you’re dressed for church.” Jennie sounded confused.
“I went to visit my parents, but I’m not going to church.” Faith looked at Jennie for a brief second, and then down at the dirt road.
She’d caught Daniel studying her, hoped he hadn’t noticed her eyes, probably still a bit red. To her annoyance he said, “I believe you and your father… had words, didn’t you?”
“Yes. Words.” A glance at his face and she knew he had a feeling what might have happened. At least he didn’t come out and say something, and, fortunately, Jennie seemed clueless. She raised her chin at Daniel and went back to walking across the road.
To her relief, Daniel flicked the reins and drove the buggy off before Jennie could question her further. Faith silently thanked him for that favor. It was humbling enough having been spanked; she didn’t need word to spread around town about it.
She’d almost made it to the bottom of her stairs when another familiar voice called out, “Stop! I want a word with you.”
Sighing, resigned, she turned to face Adam. “I really don’t have anything to say to you.”
“Well, I have some things to say to you.” He took her arm and tried to pull her along with him.
She attempted to dig her heels into the boardwalk. “Where are you taking me?”
“Into my shop. You will sit in one of the chairs and listen to me.” He frowned in disgust as she continued to struggle against going with him.
She’d just gotten a licking from her father for not giving up on her foolish desire to be with Adam. She’d promised him that she was going to start letting other men court her. “I am not going anywhere with you. Let me go.”
He stopped but maintained a firm hold of her arm. Then in the next instant, he tugged her closer and swatted her bottom.
She yelped and danced away.
“That couldn’t have hurt through all those layers of clothes.”
“It wouldn’t have if…” She slammed her mouth shut, but her face had heated.
He blinked and then asked bluntly, “Did you just get a thrashing from your father?”
She narrowed her eyes and lowered her voice, but they were alone on the boardwalk. “A spanking.”
His lips twitched. “A spanking, huh? Must have been a good one to make you jump like that.”
“All right, there were a few licks of his belt, too.” She tried to step around him and go back to her stairway. Why on earth did she tell him that?
Suddenly he grabbed hold of her again and this time pulled her against him. Even through the layers of skirt and petticoat she could feel his erection pressing between them. Her heart pounded. Warmth spread low in her body, distracting her from her sore bottom.
His head lowered toward her and she squeaked, “We shouldn’t…we can’t…”
But his mouth found hers anyway. There, in front of God and anyone who might happen by, he cupped her aching bottom to lift her higher. And he kissed her exactly as she’d dreamed of him doing.
He was ignoring her. Faith was doing the same. But hardly a second of the day passed without her thinking about their kiss two days ago. She’d been appalled… and at the same time didn’t want it to stop. At least her father hadn’t heard about the incident. Still, this little game of pretending the other didn’t exist was wearing on her nerves.
She swiped the dust off the middle showcase with a flour sack rag and fought back a sneeze. Just as she started for the case in front of the window she heard Adam’s deep voice outside on the boardwalk. Her heart raced and she immediately reached up to make sure her hair hadn’t slipped into disarray. Would he finally come inside and speak to her? Could they act like nothing had happened and go on from here?
Then she realized he was talking to someone and he sounded different. Not strained, like when he usually talked to her. Not cool and distant, as he’d seemed to act more and more lately with just about anybody who crossed his path. No, he sounded… pleasant.
Puzzled, she put down the rag and grabbed the broom to hurry over to sweep the floor near the open door. She knew eavesdropping was wrong, but she couldn’t resist.
And then she wished she had.
“Would you like to take a walk with me, Miss Tamberline? It’s a fine morning.”
Faith nearly dropped the broom as she listened to the casual question, spoken so… well, enticingly. He was asking another woman to stroll the town with him? Who?
Unable to resist, she inched closer to the window just as he moved to stand in front of that stunning redhead who had come to town last week. Angelica had told her the woman hadn’t shown any interest in getting Caleb’s attention. The woman hadn’t flirted with or taken any real notice of any of the many men who frequented the Tumbleweed. Yet her friend had thought the woman had her eye on someone, but she didn’t know who.
To her annoyance, Miss Tamberline gave Adam a soft smile, a clearly flirtatious one. It made her look even more beautiful, drat it all. Then Adam straightened, seeming to preen as she smiled at him. “I would love to, Mr. Braddock.”
“Adam,” he countered and moved next to her, holding out his arm.
Faith gritted her teeth in irritation. Not once had he ever acted the gentleman with her. Never had he asked to take her for a stroll. Nothing had happened between them that came anywhere close to courting.
Marinda slipped her hand into the crook of his elbow. “Marinda,” she said quietly in her slightly Southern accent.
He turned to lead her back in the other direction, by his shop…by the mercantile. With a mere glance in Faith’s direction, he led the redhead away.
Tears burned Faith’s eyes and she blinked rapidly. Her chest hurt, like he’d reached right inside it and squeezed her heart. Clearly he’d gone back to wanting nothing to do with her. Except instead of sticking by his constant ranting about not wanting to get involved with any woman, he was turning his attentions to this stranger.
Oh, God, how it hurt. And how very foolish she felt for spending all these many, many months attempting to pursue him, hoping to be the woman to heal his inner pain. A complete waste of time.
She set the broom in the corner behind the middle case and dashed at the tears. Feeling sorry for herself wasn’t going to change anything. It was finally painfully clear that she needed to put Adam well out of her thoughts. He’d evidently put her out of his. She could as well!
Still, she hurt. It wouldn’t be easy. Before when he’d rejected her, he’d merely gone around sour–faced and grumpy. Which only endeared him more to her, odd woman that she was. So she’d given him a bit of time and tried again. But enough was enough. This time he’d ignored her, rejected her after that wonderful kiss, and was pursuing another woman. Not hiding out. Not grumbling at everyone. Yes, this hurt.