The Demure Bride

By: Joannie Kay

"We can start that by invitin' you to supper tonight, Rob. Amanda can and will cook us a nice meal. Will you come?"

"Of course; I would be delighted." If looks could kill, the lovely redhead's green eyes would have sliced both him and her father to ribbons. "May I trust you will not poison our food, Miss Chambers?" he couldn't resist teasing her.

"Oh, I am sure I can come up with something more clever than poisoned food, Mr. Thorne!" Amanda retorted.

"I shall look forward to dining with you tonight then." He grinned at her, and then bid them a good day as Matt turned the buggy and headed home at a brisk pace. Robert saw Amanda wince in pain and suddenly realized she was truly in pain. He felt little sympathy for her. If ever a young lady needed taming, it was Miss Amanda Chambers! He looked after them for a while and then headed out to check on his men.

* * *

"That was not an apology, girl."

"Because I am not really sorry, Papa! You saw the mark on his cheek! I have at least twenty of them on my bottom, especially where I sit! My clothing was wet, and it made the blows extremely painful. I am not an animal to be used so!" She was still insulted by the fact that Robert Thorne used the small riding whip on her backside.

"You shouldn't have hit the man, Mandy. He didn't deserve it."

"I struck him twice; he shouldn't have done what he did, either!" She refused to back down. "Seriously, Papa, I was already smarting from the fall. I told him not to touch me, but he put his hands all over me; what was I to do?"

"He wasn't tryin' to take advantage of you, Mandy. He was checkin' to see if you broke any bones. It's what I would have done," Matt insisted, defending Rob. "Your Mama put all that nonsense in your head, girl, and it's just plain silly. You don't hit a man when his intentions are good ones."

For the first time Amanda found herself wondering if her father was right. She looked at him, confusion in her eyes. "In Boston a gentleman wouldn't dream of doing something so improper. He would have asked if assistance was needed, and then gone for help."

"In Boston you aren't out on open range and there are people all over the place to ask for help. Out here you do what you need to do to help, and that is what Rob did. You owe the man a sincere apology, Amanda. I expect you to fix a nice company meal and behave tonight. Don't think I won't take you from the table and tan your hide if you act like a spoiled brat!" he threatened.

Amanda was quiet all the way home. Sitting on the hard seat of the buggy was extremely painful on her tender bottom... and she couldn't help but wonder if her parent was right. Was she wrong to strike Robert Thorne? In Boston it would have been expected, but things here were so different. When they finally reached the ranch, Amanda was relieved to jump down from the buggy. She headed for the house but Matt called to her and she turned to face him.

"Best you fix a decent meal, Mandy, and behave yourself tonight." He turned then and walked off, his meaning very clear to the pretty redhead.

Mandy walked inside and hurried upstairs to rub more of the salve on her aching posterior. She had lied to her father, wanting his sympathy; she only had two red marks on her bottom, but she was very tender and sitting was a constant reminder that she'd been soundly spanked twice! She wasn't going to do one thing to earn another... And all it would take was careful planning. First things first, she said as she put on an older dress and an apron. She went down to the kitchen and said with a smile, "Goldie, we are having a guest for dinner tonight and Papa expects me to do all of the cooking. The house is clean as can be, so why don't you take a day off and go and visit with your sister in town?"

Goldie looked at her in surprise, but then smiled and nodded. She left without saying goodbye.

Amanda went to work, a wicked smile on her face...

Chapter Three

Robert Thorne shaved carefully and put on a suit before leaving for the Circle C Ranch. The evening promised to be entertaining, and he grinned in anticipation as he mounted his stallion. Miss Amanda Chambers was full of spirit and he could not help but wonder if she would bring all that fire and passion to bed with her, not that he was likely to bed her anytime in the near future. She was thoroughly angry with him for turning her backside up for a solid thrashing, even though she richly deserved the chastisement. His fingers went to the red mark that she left across his cheek with the little riding whip she persisted in carrying when she went riding. It was still very tender, and shaving over the area had been tricky and somewhat painful. Hopefully her posterior was sporting a few matching marks that ached when she tried to sit her chair. While it certainly was not considered gentlemanly to manhandle the fairer sex, the hot-tempered redhead had earned every stroke he administered, and he was no sorrier for spanking her than she was for striking him.

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