The Demure Bride

By: Joannie Kay

Robert Thorne woke with a smile on his handsome face and was pleased to realize he was looking forward to the day. Moving west and buying this ranch had proven to be exactly what he needed to do to take care of the boredom his life had become in England. His parents were both deceased; his two sisters were married and had children to raise; his elder brother barely tolerated his presence as their parents' acknowledged favorite. There was nothing holding him in his native country and when the opportunity rose for him to travel, he did so without hesitation. He'd worked at various jobs as he made his way west, and finally found what made him happy, ranching. Robert had always loved horses, and he took to ranching with a flair. When he was positive he knew enough to make a go of his own place, he purchased land, bought cattle, and worked from sunup to sundown. He had faced the inevitable, a couple of hands he hired decided to test him thinking him a greenhorn, and he sent them packing after he proved to the rest that he was capable of holding his own with the best.

Of course, the livid red mark on his cheek reminded him of his feisty little neighbor and he smiled grimly and wondered if her backside sported a few red marks of its own. He supposed he should have controlled his blasted temper and refrained from venting his fury on her bottom, but the thrashing was long overdue in his opinion. Miss Amanda Chambers had a reputation in the area for being uppity and thinking herself better than other folks. She was certainly foolish for trying to take that jump on her little mare, and her Father should have taken her home and spanked her soundly for risking her fool neck.

Rob decided he would forego shaving and give the mark on his cheek a chance to heal a bit before he scraped over it with a razor. He went downstairs and shook his head once again as realized he was going to have to hire someone to clean house for him. The parlor needed dusting yet again and he did not have time to spare for the task. He joined the men for breakfast and then assigned chores for the day. Running a ranch was never ending work. He was saddling up and preparing to ride out to make sure the work was all getting done properly when he heard a buggy approaching. He turned to see who was approaching and suddenly wished he had taken the time to run a dust rag over the parlor. His visitors were his neighbors, Matt Chambers and his feisty daughter. He walked over to greet them with a smile.

"Good morning, Matt. Miss Chambers," Robert greeted them.

"G'mornin', Matt. Mandy has something to say to you," he said, but his dark eyes were on his daughter.

Amanda wanted to throw a fit, but her Papa was not in a reasonable mood this morning and it was best to get the apology over with so they could return home.

"Would you like to come inside?" Robert offered politely, trying not to wince as he thought of his dusty parlor.

"No thanks, Rob. I know you've got work to do, and so do I. Mandy...?" His meaning was clear.

Amanda felt Robert Thorne's dark eyes on her and she wanted to grab the buggy whip and... "Papa insists I apologize... So, I apologize for striking you yesterday."

Robert couldn't help snickering. "That is a most gracious apology, Miss Chambers."

"Gracious?" Matt exclaimed in disgust. "Girl, I am disappointed in you!" His face was red and Robert didn't know if it was from anger or embarrassment, or perhaps both.

Amanda refused to say another word, although she did feel a bit guilty when she saw the mark she'd left on Robert Thorne's left cheek. It had to hurt... every bit as much as the ones he left on her tender bottom! The drive here had been exceedingly painful and her Papa refused to allow her the small consideration of a pillow to sit upon.

"Amanda, if you can't do any better than that, then it's sure and certain I didn't do a good enough job tanning you myself!"

"Papa!" she whispered in a strangled voice as her face flooded with color.

"I sympathize with how Miss Chambers feels, Matt, and I assure you I understand her position. She is not the least bit remorseful for her actions, and since I am not the least bit remorseful for mine, we are at what you westerners refer to as a 'stand off'. I fear that neither of us has made a good first impression upon the other, but given time I hope to remedy that."

▶ Also By Joannie Kay

▶ Last Updated

▶ Hot Read

▶ Recommend

Top Books