Jade has been caught by Space Marshal Mason and in return for free movement around his spaceship she must repair the broken gravity system.
He loosened his grip on her arms, but didn’t soften his expression. “If you make mischief for me, young lady, your ass will be punished. You’re already owed one spanking for tricking me back there.”
She glanced down at her naked body and grimaced. “Probably not the best plan of escape. I’d rather be dressed.”
Mason smiled, a strangely warming smile. “Let’s make sure you don’t change your mind again. You can fix the grav system, but, no clothes.”
“Once you’ve repaired the system, you can dress. This way, I can make sure you’re not hiding anything from me.”
“What exactly would I hide from you?”
“Small tools in deep pockets. The kind that come in handy for escaping. Wouldn’t you find a decoder useful for decrypting the docking lock?” He tapped her nose, infuriating her, because he was right on all counts. She’d hoped to sneak off with something she might use later. “Since I’ve searched you once, it would save you the embarrassment of stripping again for another one. Let’s go, shall we?”
“And afterwards, you’ll let me stay in a cell?”
He pursed his lips. “Okay. It’s against protocols, but, I’m thinking you’re the kind of girl who always goes against protocols.”
She smiled, proud of her reputation. “Damn right,” she muttered.
Once in the engineering hub, she wedged herself beneath a console and removed a panel. Throughout her inspection, she muttered to herself, grizzling at her situation, especially the ongoing nudity clause he’d enacted. Mason, who hadn’t given her any privacy, watched from the other side of the room, his leg hooked around a stool. Like all spaceships, furniture was bolted to the floor.
The lack of gravity hampered her efforts. Tools kept floating away and she felt uncoordinated. Finally, she removed the damaged circuit. It would have to be replaced, and fortunately there was a spare one. She slotted the new one in, and instantly she felt the tickle of static creep down her spine. Then she dropped to the floor like a stone.
Mason dashed across the room. “Are you okay?” he asked, kneeling next to her.
His concern came out of nowhere, or had it? Apart from the spanking, he hadn’t done anything to harm her and he had taken special care not to hurt her during the strip search. A rise of hot blood flushed her cheeks. Thinking about the exam wasn’t a good idea. It led her into a network of confused emotions.
“I’m fine,” she snapped, a little too rudely. She swallowed. “I meant to say…” It was too late. She’d offended him again with her curtness.
Mason’s eyebrows furrowed in an obvious display of displeasure and he rose. “Good. Let’s get this over with then.”
Jade stood. “What?”
“The rest of your punishment.”
“But…but, I fixed the problem,” she said, astounded.
He took her hand, enveloping her slender digits in his, and led her towards the same stool he’d used to anchor his leg. She could try to pull away, claw at his arm and hit him, punch him, but she didn’t. A peculiar sensation of meekness followed in his footsteps. He led, she followed. It was crazy, feeling like this for no obvious reason.
“And I’m very pleased you did. However, the other problems, the escape attempt and your rudeness haven’t been fixed.” He sat, his lap wide and supportive, and tugged on her arm.
Her lower lip trembled with indignation. “You’re going to put me in stasis, aren’t you?”
Directing her head first over his lap with an uncompromising firmness, he answered. “No. You’re going to a cell. I don’t go back on my word about anything, including this spanking.”
She practically slumped over his knees, resigned to his demand. Given the choice between being frozen or spanked, the latter was preferable.
The first smack reverberated around the room, aided by the metallic walls. Immediately it stung, leaving a hot imprint of his palm spread across the span of her buttock. She wriggled, unable to hold still as he proceeded to rattle off a number of slaps, alternating between her cheeks.
“I’m sure you appreciate that escaping is an offence,” he said without pausing between ricocheting spanks. “One I should report and add to your charge sheet.”
“Oh, please don’t,” she wailed, fighting back the tears. “I’m sorry. It’s just, I have to try.”
He maintained the momentum, focusing on the same two spots on each buttock, cascading swats one after the other, using his other arm to hug her to his waist, preventing her from slipping off his lap.
“And if you do, the next time I’ll more than spank you,” he warned.
What did he mean by that? She’d rather not find out, but at the same time, she was determined to remain loyal to her cause, keep up her end of the bargain. Escaping was a necessity if she was to prove to her friends that she’d made the right decision in going solo.
He clutched an ass cheek and squeezed. She winced, the heat had risen to the surface and inflamed what felt like the entire surface of her bottom. She refused to weep out loud, instead, she wept quietly. The predicament was humiliating. Mason wasn’t a bounty hunter, he was worse—a dedicated follower of procedures, who was unlikely to give up and find another quarry, unlike a mercenary who was motivated by money rather than a civic sense of duty. Until he captured the rest of his fugitives and delivered them, and her, to the authorities, she was stuck on the ship.
She snivelled and crushed her legs together, trying to ignore the unwanted sensation. As he admonished her in his unwavering and direct manner, she fought with the realisation he’d awakened something inside her that she’d kept buried—an attraction to dominant men. She cringed, wishing he’d behaved meanly or obnoxiously, so she could justify hating him. However, there was little point in hoping for a more meaningful relationship with the marshal, especially since she was going to be locked in a tedious cell while he roamed the ship.
The smacks had slowed, lessened in intensity, but given how sore her ass was the easing off made little difference to the smarting. Jade couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt that kind of scorching pain anywhere in her body. Mason rested his hand and soothed her with sweeping strokes that circled her buttocks. Helping her up, he perched her on his lap. She blubbered like a child, her snotty nose irritating her because she wanted to wipe it and it shamed her to think she might look pathetic. Blinking, a splash of wetness hit her cheeks. Too late. She was fighting a losing battle—she had not a jot of grace left, none at all.
Mason sighed when he spied her tears on her cheekbones and wiped them away with his thumbs. “You’re not that old, are you? I guess you passed into womanhood recently?”
She nodded, hating her appearance—she wasn’t that young, she’d been a student for several years, but somehow, she’d held onto that girlish look, never quite grasping the maturity of a woman. It was misleading, because in her heart, and when she compared herself to her friends, she was years ahead of them in confidence and independence. Or so she thought, because Mason possessed a much greater authority on the subject of independence than her and he swiftly reminded her of that as he spoke.
“And here you are, on your own, navigating the wildest part of our galaxy. Speaking as someone older than you, I don’t think it’s wise, do you, being on your own and so inexperienced?”
She answered with a shake of her head. Wisdom came with age—she agreed with him on that point, but she really didn’t want his observation to be true.
“I’m going to take you to your ship.”
She lifted her head, her eyes widening with disbelief—he’d changed his mind!
“To collect your personal belongings for your stay in the cell,” he continued, “First, let’s get you dressed. We can pick up your clothes on the way.”
She slouched her shoulders, disappointed that she’d failed to dent his armour. He wasn’t going to let her go that easily. Jade said nothing and her muteness was an unfamiliar response. She’d temporarily lost the ability to answer him back. It seemed spanking her had had an impact on her demeanour. The realisation somewhat surprised her. What else was Mason capable of doing to her?