Sophia has promised not to be rude to the new Duke of Brockenhurst, a man who has lived many years in the wilderness of Canada, escaping his sad past. During a ball, she commented, rather rudely, on his decision not to dance in public.
They’d achieved much in the last few weeks. The walks, the carriage rides about the parks, the trips to the assembly rooms in Salisbury to listen to music. He had enjoyed her company. However, now and again, she’d frowned, made a condescending remark, which reminded others of his long absence and lowly occupation. She’d said those things with too much amusement.
He wasn’t ashamed of his past. What saddened him was her need to make entertainment out of it.
Tonight, that would end, once and for all.
He shut the door of his study behind him, leaving her abandoned in the middle of the room. “We don’t have much time. We will soon be missed. Therefore, I propose we do this with all haste and without fuss.”
“Spank you.” He positioned a straight-backed chair next to her and sat down.
“Nathanial, please, this is ridiculous.” She couldn’t look at him; her dark eyes darted about the room, skipping over his presence. He needed her attention.
“For the duration of this, you will address me as my lord.”
She snapped her focus on his face. “What? And what is this?”
“Your punishment. Did I not ask you weeks ago when we agreed to further our friendship for you to treat me with respect? Did I not state your dedication to my repatriation required dignity and respect on your behalf? Not more snide remarks or asides.”
“Yes,” she murmured. He’d reminded her of the conversation on the way back from Oxford, and as her recollections sank in, her defiance shrank away.
“Yes, what?” He placed his hands on his hips.
“Yes, my lord.”
“You have a tendency to feisty exuberance with your tongue. I often wonder if your grandmother, the comtesse, sent you to Attingham to keep you out of mischief.”
Sophia’s eyes widened and her skin blanched—he was correct in his appraisal. “What did you do?” he asked.
She shook her head frantically. “Please. It is of no relevance.”
“Did you deserve your banishment?”
She gave a small nod.
“Then let me clear all of your past misdeeds with this punishment. Then we can start afresh. It is time, Sophia, to educate you. Agreed?”
Another small nod.
“Yes, my lord. I would like to start over.”
“Lift your skirts and lower your underwear.”
She gasped and stood frozen to the spot.
Should he force her? Should he drag down her drawers, propel her over his knee as he’d dreamed of doing many lonely nights? But this was no longer a flight of fancy. He was faced with a real situation and it demanded he behaved with restraint and dignity, regardless of how he’d imagined it. He had to discipline both his body and uncouth tongue, holding back his desire to have her strip naked or bend over a chair, giving him a perfect view of her… no, he had to focus.
“Sophia,” he said gently. “When I’ve finished spanking your bottom, we will return to the ball. I assure you, you will be able to complete your duties as hostess this evening without fear of pain. Some discomfort maybe. You should trust me.”
“What if I cry?” she whispered.
“I shall dry your tears, kiss them away, and make sure you leave this room looking beautiful. My opinion of you has not changed. I am still falling in love with you and probably reaching the end of that tumble even after this evening’s unfortunate event. Do you understand what I’m saying? I wish for us to find a way to deal with your inappropriate outbursts and rudeness. I may have improved my manners; now it is your turn. Your drawers, Sophia, remove them.”
* * *
Her stiff fingers woke up as she bent over to lift up her skirts. She pulled on the drawer string and released her knickers, letting them tumble down her legs and caress her calves. She stepped out of the leg holes and stared at the silk drawers left on the carpet.
She could have run out of the study and locked herself in her bedchamber. Instead, she obeyed him because the change in him—driven by her expectations—had been due to her encouragement. What he exemplified in his demeanour was his dominance shining through. Perhaps he always had it, but the trait hadn’t been demonstrated until that day. Today, at the ball, he had revealed himself to be a duke at heart, a man at ease with himself and accomplished in his bearing. Sophia had failed to aspire to her rank and when there had been no need, she had deliberately debased Nathanial. Nothing he had done had brought shame on himself.
Nathanial planted his feet firmly apart, spoke his string of commands, and she carried out each one without hesitation, drawn to the allure of his stern voice and her wish to please him with her remorse.
“Skirts raised. Bend over my lap. Hands on the floor. Good. You will keep as still as possible. I shall be swift.”
Having found herself head down and bottom raised, she waited with trepidation as he lifted her petticoats over her waist. A cool rush of air stroked her bare skin. She gasped and bit down on her lower lip. Those orgasms she had conjured up while fantasising about spanking were banished. This was no game of self-pleasure.
Whatever she imagined was nothing compared to the reality. The sound was louder than she had anticipated and it echoed about the room. In her daydreams, she’d felt no pain nor smarting strings as her bottom was repeatedly smacked. But with each slap of his hand, she jolted and the need to keep her hands flat on the floor became apparent. He held her about the waist, keeping her skirts tucked up while he maintained a steady rhythm back and forth between each buttock.
“Oh, ow!” she grunted, unable to keep up with his rapid pace. She panted instead and squeezed her eyes shut. He paused and rubbed each cheek for a few seconds, and she briefly wondered if it was over. Another brace of smacks began, and they answered her unspoken question. She pressed her toes into the carpet and her shoes slipped off.
With the burning sensation growing, Sophia attempted to sway her hips from side to side in a vain hope it would catch him off guard.
“Stop that,” he warned, tightening his grip around her waist.
She kicked her legs up and down, drumming on the floor. “Ow!” she hollered as he aimed his smacks lower, closer to the apex of her thighs.
He stopped again and she tried to push herself up, but he held her down. He tracked his fingers around her heated rump—he seemed to be examining his efforts. She groaned, uncontrollably, when the tips of fingers slid between her cheeks and down her bottom hole, and then he touched her slit. He grunted, muttering something to himself, and withdrew his fingers when they had been so achingly close to slipping into her opening.
She shuddered, holding her breath as he stroked up and down each buttock and down the back of her thighs, evening out the pain until her rear seemed to be one inflamed mass of discomfort—although the worst of the burning sensation had dissipated.
“Now to complete your punishment.”
She gasped, and looked over her shoulder at Nathanial. A few beads of sweat rested on his eyebrows and his expression was concentrated and focused on her bottom. He licked his lips—they looked dry, like her own. “More?” Her voice wavered.
“More.” He lifted his hand and she closed her eyes.