The Demure Bride

By: Joannie Kay

"What is the meaning of this?" Matthew Chambers dismounted and ran over to pull his precious child off of Robert Thorne's knee. "Amanda, honey, are you all right?" he asked solicitously, his green eyes watching the younger man who dared to strike his daughter.

"He spanked me with my own riding whip, Father... and after I took a spill from Glimmer!" she accused, her eyes overflowing with tears. "I am so humiliated... and in pain, Father!" she sniffled.

"You'd better have a damn good reason for tanning my girl, Thorne," Matthew Chambers was about as angry as he'd ever been in his entire life.

"She tried to force her mount to jump, sir, and she was thrown. When I attempted to check her for injuries, she struck me twice with her riding whip," he turned his face to permit the other man to see the fiery red welt on his cheek. "I felt justified in returning the favor." He watched as Matt's green eyes narrowed.

"Didn't I tell you not to jump that mare, daughter?" Matt Chambers asked.

"I forgot, Father," she proclaimed her innocence.

"Why did you lay your whip on the man for tryin' to help you?" Matt continued his questions.

"He touched me!" she declared in indignation.

"To see if you broke your fool neck!" the man said in exasperation.

"Father! You should shoot him dead for mistreating me!" Amanda declared. Her Father wasn't behaving at all has she had predicted he would.

"You did the mistreating, Amanda. You mistreated that little mare I gave you. You mistreated Rob when all he done was try to help you. You earned that tanning, and if you give me any more of your sass, you'll get another tanning when I get you home."


"And that is another thing, girl. I'm your Papa, and you can stop with the highfalutin' 'Father'. I don't like it and never have, and it stops now. Hear me?"

"I wish I had stayed in Boston!" she announced, and then flounced off, heading for the ranch house.

"She did not mean that, sir," Robert said when he was sure the feisty redhead couldn't hear him. "Miss Chambers is thoroughly angry with me right now and merely shifting that anger to your shoulders instead of mine."

"Her Mama spoiled her, son. Isabel left me when Mandy was only three and I only saw her two times in the next fourteen years. When Isabel died, I brought my girl home, and the last two years have been trying at times. She's spoiled rotten, but this is the first time she's actually struck someone. I'm real sorry about that."

"I've had worse, Mr. Chambers," Robert smiled, understanding the situation a bit better.

"Call me Matt, Rob. Folks are a heap more friendly out here than they are in England; no offense."

"None taken. Thank you, Matt," Robert acknowledged.

"I'd best go and get that stubborn girl of mine and haul her on home. Thanks for tryin' to help her, son. Come on over to supper anytime, now."

"I will do that," Robert promised, watching the man ride off in the direction that Amanda stomped. The redhead was certainly a handful, but now that he knew Matt Chambers didn't actually raise the little hothead it made things a lot clearer. He would give her a few days to calm down and then pay the Circle C Ranch a visit. One thing was certain, Miss Amanda Chambers did not bore him in the least.

* * *

Amanda was seething when her parent rode up beside her. "Come on, girl. I'll give you a ride back to the house. I was scared when Glimmer came back by herself."

"I cannot believe you permitted Robert Thorne to get away with beating me!" Amanda swiped the tears from her cheeks with the back of her hands.

"You're lucky that all he did was set your fanny on fire, Mandy. You earned a spankin'. Now come here so I can take you up in front of me and get you home and out of those wet clothes. I don't want you getting sick," he growled.

Amanda's feet were hurting and she was shivering in the disgustingly wet riding habit. As much as she wanted to tell her parent to leave her alone she didn't quite dare. It was a good five miles back to the house and her feet would be nothing but blisters if she insisted upon walking. She permitted her Father to haul her up in front of him, but refused to make conversation.

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