Wow! Hasn't this been exciting? I don't know about you but I've always been a fan of old westerns and more than half in love with dusty old cowboys-and the sterner, the better. John Wayne definitely fueled many of my girlhood daydreams, alongside Sam Elliot and Clint Eastwood. Now, we have Gabe, John, Jeb, Bo and the rest of those dominant men of Culpepper Cove. I hope you'll find Tripp and Diamond's story to be fuel for some of your own daydreams.
It didn't take long for Diamond to start telling me her story. When I heard about The Red Petticoat Saloon Series, I wasn't sure that I could participate, but Diamond is a woman who won't be ignored. She demanded her place in the series and she got it. Although, I have to say a big, giant thank you to Maggie Ryan, my co-author.
Sometimes, no matter how vividly the characters talk to you, life happens and you just don't get a chance to tell their stories. This was the case with my story, Diamond in the Rough. If, not for Maggie, Tripp and Diamond would still be buried on my hard drive with a slew of other unfinished works.
Thank you, Maggie. As always, you make me look good-and I hope you already know I'd be lost without you. Thank you for helping bring these amazing characters to life.
And to our readers, I hope you will fall in love with Culpepper Cover and the Red Petticoat Saloon family.
Marshal Tripp Houston makes his own luck and doesn't believe in chance-until Lady Luck smiles up at him with her cat-like green eyes. If it's the last thing he does, Tripp is dead set on bringing down the vile Shotgun Slick Gang. It's been said that the outlaws have a woman traveling with them. Tripp is almost certain that woman is Diamond, especially with her sneaking around and asking lots of questions. But, if he's wrong, and she is the innocent she proclaims, then once every last slimy one of the gang are swinging from a tree, he plans to hand in his tin star and settle down with the little card-dealing gem who ran away with not only his horse, but his heart as well. After all, he knows just how to tame a feisty gem.
Diamond won't take no for an answer, especially when it comes to those bossy men of Culpepper Cove standing in the way of finding her sister Damaris-not even when it means she will end up with a hot, achy backside over the knee of one very stubborn lawman. The trail she'd been following for months led her to Culpepper Cove and The Red Petticoat Saloon where she entertains the men while dealing blackjack and sifting through their conversations for information that will help her find Damaris-but she doesn't go upstairs. That is until the night she makes a silly bet, (it had worked for Jewel, hadn't it?) and ends up falling for the man who tried her patience at every turn. Will the bet cost more than her virginity? She hadn't wagered her heart, but she may very well have lost it to him already.
DISCLAIMER: This book contains the spanking of adult women and explicit sexual scenes including anal play. If any of these offend you, please do not purchase this book.
About The Red Petticoat series:
The Red Petticoat Saloon series is a collection of books written by #1 and USA Today bestselling authors. Each book tells the unique story of a different woman, 'a gem', who comes to the saloon to find a safe haven and discovers they become part of a family. Recurring characters appear in each book to allow readers a continuity as they learn about the women who have learned to bend but have not broken under the harshness that life has to offer. It is a series where strong, loving men find not only entertainment at the saloon but the special women who reside under its roof.
The room, blurry.
The table, rocking.
The lantern, swinging.
The faces, swaying.
The voices, echoing.
The laughter, evil.
She wasn't dead yet. God help her, she'd prayed for death.
Searing pain crisscrossed her back and thighs. It was hot and wet, and tight. She was sure many of the agonizing stripes from the strap had torn her skin, as well as biting down into the flesh. She could smell the sweet sickening scent of her own blood as well as taste it in her mouth. Why couldn't she have died?
"There ya go, kid. I got her all primed and ready for ya." The horrifying laughs echoed off the walls of her skull as a slap to her ass jolted her. It didn't hurt. She was pretty much numb to the abuse of her lower body now.
The slap did little more than jar her back to the reality. She couldn't remember which one of them it was, or how many had taken her now. The one thing she did know was, if she didn't die, she'd make sure the rest of them died in the most agonizing way she could manage. She was made of stronger stock, if she'd learned one thing from her father, it was that.
The oppressive heat weighed heavily on her. Rain would do them all some good. The pressure in the air had more than a few miners in ill spirits. Gabe had mentioned as much before the customers had even begun to trail into the Red Petticoat Saloon that afternoon. A storm was in the air. The humidity clung to Diamond's neck, her well-endowed bosom and the small of her back. Her once tightly coiled hair knot had long since strayed, leaving her coiffure a mass of frizzy spirals, springing free all over the place. She lifted the hair off her neck for at least the tenth time in just a few hours. She couldn't fathom how the upstairs gals could bear to lie under a sweaty, grunting man on a night like tonight. Diamond could hardly stand being inside the bar, let alone thinking of anyone touching her.
She'd been feeling a bit off and needed some fresh air. Why, she'd even felt like she might faint! At least that was what she would tell Gabe if he found her outside in the dark. God forbid a gem be found outside unescorted after dusk had fallen. She had heard-no, she'd seen Gabe spank more than one gem for the like. It was one of the only really hard and fast rules at the Red Petticoat or at least the most strictly enforced rule. Ironic that he placed such an importance on the gems' safety but was more than willing to lay a belt to their backsides if he felt they deserved it.
She should probably head back inside before someone wondered where she'd gone and began to worry. Besides, maybe tonight was the night she'd finally learn something useful about Damaris. She'd been feeling rather restless the last couple days. Her leads had long since dried up. She was no closer to finding her sister now than she was three months ago back in St. Louis, worse even. When she'd left the city, she'd had her sister's letter telling Delaney she was working in San Francisco. But since then nothing. Not a single word from Damaris. Still, there was a slew of men in the saloon tonight whom she'd never seen around before. Perhaps one of them had come from the city and would have a tidbit to offer. All she needed was something new to go on. Damaris couldn't have up and disappeared.
Opal had told her that they'd be real busy tonight. Miners and cowboys alike preferred to be in the saloons when storms were coming in. No one wanted to be cooped up in a flooded tent or shack on the edge of a river for days on end after a downpour filled the washes and stranded a person until the water receded again. Miners were quick to relate stories of men getting washed clear to Mexico if they weren't careful during the heavy rain. Though Delaney was quick to discount their rather outrageous tales, once she'd heard the story of a woman named Chin, known as Jade during her stay at the saloon, she'd understood that such storms could indeed claim a body. It had only been by the grace of God and the Drake brothers that Chin had been rescued from such a fate and was now wed to Cullen Drake.
"You all right, miss?" A deep masculine voice very near her ear, startled her out of her musings. She spun around, her heart ricocheting against her ribs under the stifling corset, cinched tightly around her waist.
She shrieked, stumbling backwards, nearly losing her footing as she stepped in a rut in the dark. "What in all that is holy are you doing, sneaking up on a lady like that?" Lord almighty, he'd been so near she was certain she'd felt his breath on her ear. Must've been Charlie and Silver's rowdy song flowing out of the saloon and into the streets that masked the man coming so close to her without her notice. She swatted at his hands as he tried to steady her with his strong grip.
"A lady?" He looked pointedly to her bosom, now nearly overflowing from her scantily low-cut bodice, then his sinfully dark eyes locked on hers. A cocky tilt at the side of his lips accompanied his words. "What's a lady doing in an alley behind a saloon at this time of night?" His voice was deep and carried the same tone of authority that Gabe's would when he called a girl out on her behavior, the difference being that this man's voice sent warmth to her middle. The man had somehow managed to come even closer while she'd been trying to right herself. Now she'd have to push him aside or step around him to get away. He stood there, so close, casually breathing in each breath she exhaled, one hand on the wall on either side of her shoulders. She'd been backed right up against the building. Her daddy always said she didn't have much common sense. Now what was she going to do?
"Gabe was on his way out to get a breath of air with me." She grasped for a way to put him off. "He went to fetch a drink for me first, so you better just back away and get on out of here. He doesn't take kindly to drifters taking advantage of his girls." She tried to sidestep, and duck under his arm but he stepped along to the side at the same time, staying right with her, so that she was still effectively pinned between him and the exterior saloon wall. She couldn't help but notice how nicely he was built. Under a leather vest, his shirt was unbuttoned halfway down, showing his bare chest. And he smelled so manly and clean, unlike many of the miners who came in. Wait! What the hell was she thinking? The heat really was getting to her. "I'm warning you-"
"Save it, honey. I saw him heading upstairs as I left the bar. Kind of strange for a gem to go wandering outside after dark, especially knowing that Gabe will likely tan her hide for it. So, what lured you out?" He stepped closer, his hips pinning her to the white-washed wall behind her, while he leaned on one elbow so he could tug on one of her springy curls with his free hand. "Meeting someone? Someone you don't want Gabe or Madam Jewel to know about? Or perhaps you like living dangerously... are you the sort of gal who enjoys having her bottom attended to?"
"What!" Delaney could feel her cheeks heat even more at the indecent inquiry. "No! I told you, I needed air!" She shoved at his chest. "If you know Gabe so well, you know he was probably heading upstairs to look for me and when he doesn't find me, he'll be right out. No matter who you are, if you are threatening me, he will-"
He cut her off. "I'm not threatening you, ladybug. I just wanted to make sure you were all right. I'd hate for you to meet up with some nefarious outlaw out here. They are all around, you know?" His eyes seemed to drill into her. His calculating gaze digging right into her head, trying to find out something, or set her up... Who could he possibly think she'd be meeting? And besides-it wasn't like Jewel owned her.
"Listen, mister. My break is up. I need to get back inside. Either let me go or you'll be answering to Gabe. If you want anything else, you'll have to sit at my table. Maybe lady luck will be with you tonight." She glared at him, willing her smile to be just as cunning as his, and lifted her chest higher, thrusting her breasts out. "No, perhaps you better sit elsewhere, I have the distinct impression lady luck doesn't like you at all." She stood up tall, as tall as her short stature would allow her, and pressed her hips back toward his, instead of trying to slip away. Satisfaction came quickly when she noted the quick intake of breath he took. She was perhaps more chaste than the ladies she worked with but she wasn't innocent enough to be unaware of the hard edge pressing into her tummy.
"I'm not worried about luck; I make my own." He leaned in, pressing harder into her soft middle, taking back the small space she'd gained. "My guess is you make your own luck too, don't you?" His words were a husky whisper, hot against her skin, and probably not overheard by anyone, but they made her nipples tingle and pebble tight inside her bodice. Could he feel them too?
"Diamond girl, what are you doing? We were looking for you." Gabe's words came through the dark, a stark relief to Delaney, even though the man holding her against the wall hardly seemed to care about the presence of her guardian angel. He stepped back only enough to turn his face to Gabe, but not enough to release her. She pressed against his chest with the hand resting between them, but he stayed there as if she were a babe with no strength at all.
"Gabe, yes, I..." She didn't know what to say. Where had her previous excuse gone? Oh yes, now she remembered. "I wasn't feeling well so I came out to get some air. It was so warm inside..."
Her new friend's eyes sparkled with mischief, and even though she didn't know him, she knew he was about to run his mouth.
"I saw her sneak out the door and followed her to be sure she was safe. I told her it was dangerous out here for a lady alone. I know you understand that, Gabe, but these womenfolk need to know it too. We've talked of this before. These gals have to know the dangers. We have all sorts of scoundrels out here at night: outlaws, rowdy ranchers, drunken miners; it's just not safe."
"Oh, yes, you can be sure the gems know that, Marshal. And you can count on the fact that Diamond won't do it again after tonight either." Even in the dark, Delaney could see the telling muscle tick in Gabe's rigid jaw.
"Good, we have to keep them safe. Can I talk to her a few more minutes before she comes in? If you like, I'll bring her straight to you when I'm done." He lowered his arm and stepped back. She could run now if she wanted, yet she stayed.
"Diamond?" Gabe came closer, as if wanting to know for sure she was comfortable before leaving her. She should go back inside with him, but now her curiosity was piqued, and it seemed that Gabe knew and trusted the man holding her waist so firmly.
"Yes, Gabe, if I could just have a few more minutes? I'm sorry for worrying you. I just needed a little air and you weren't nearby..."
Gabe nodded. "I'd like to talk to you inside before you start dealing again." The look in his eyes told her she was in for it. Delaney had never been the object of that look before, although she'd surely heard the gems speak of it many times in the time she'd been at the Red Petticoat Saloon. She swallowed hard and nodded her agreement, thanking God for the cover of darkness when heat crept up her neck, face, and ears-burning her with mortification.
As soon as Gabe was gone she let loose of the stranger. "Marshal is it? Why didn't you tell me you were the law instead of scaring me half to death? What is your game, Mister-what do you want with me?" Despite the anger she felt toward the man, when she looked into his eyes again and he spoke, heat pooled low in her tummy.
"No game. Like I said, I just want to keep you out of the hands of some outlaw, with vile intentions. But, honey, if you want to play games, I'd be delighted. I'll even let you choose-but be warned, I never lose." He tugged on one of her curls again.
She shoved his hand away and then stepped aside when she realized she had the space to do so. Before she stomped back into the saloon, she leveled on him. "Well, that makes two of us, Marshal. But there are some things you should keep in mind. First, here, the house takes all ties. And second, the play doesn't happen until you take your seat at the table; anything else is just talk. Many men can talk a good talk, but that's it." She spun on her heel to leave him, but he caught her arm and turned her back to face him.
"I'll be seated at your table tomorrow night, ladybug, but I'll be interested to see if you are able to do any sitting." He let her go with a cocky wink and a husky chuckle.
She was halfway across the saloon floor when she spotted Gabe and he tipped his head toward the hallway that led to her room. It was only then that she realized just what the marshal had meant about her sitting tomorrow.
She walked very slowly, following behind Gabe at a much slower pace, needing a couple of seconds to think. What was she going to say? She had to come up with something to deter him from his goal of teaching her a lesson. He couldn't really mean to spank her. She'd never been spanked before and she didn't want to be now! Her face flamed hot just thinking about it. The other gems had been spanked on numerous occasions and she'd overheard it. The memory of the crying, soft pleas and apologies, alongside the crack of a hand smacking bare skin or a belt cracking with each stroke made her insides feel squirmy. Truly she was terrified, but not one of the gems considered it unfair or abusive. She knew because they said as much, and always agreed they'd deserved the spanking afterward. Almost everyone in Culpepper Cove, whores and townsfolk alike, respected Madam Jewel and Gabe. So while she should be running in the opposite direction as fast as she could, instead she was following the man through the card room, past the bathing rooms and down another short corridor to her room... or more importantly, to her doom.
He took the lamp from the hall and opened the door to her room, standing with his arm held out, gesturing her inside.
"Um, I... I need to visit the... the outhouse," she said, coloring instantly with the rather indelicate topic but knowing she'd never make it through whatever he had planned if she didn't. When his eyebrow quirked, she said, "I'm not lying. I... I'll come right back, I promise."
"See you do, Diamond, because if you don't and I have to come get you, I promise you'll regret lying to me in addition to the regret you now feel for breaking the rules. Understand?"
"Yes, sir," she murmured and at his nod, turned and fled back through the saloon. Spying Jewel, she paused. "Um, could you go with me? I don't want to make Gabe any angrier than he is already." Jewel just nodded and the two went out the back door. When Delaney exited the privy, it was to find the marshal standing beneath a huge oak tree, talking with Jewel.
"I thought you left! Stop following me!"
"I'm not. You're not the only one to need to answer nature's call," he drawled, tipping his hat and chuckling as she stomped past him. Her attempt to slam the door was thwarted when Jewel reached out to still it before it hit her.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," Delaney said, having actually forgotten the madam had accompanied her... at her own request no less.
"Diamond, I suggest you calm down before you go to Gabe. Being angry won't help your case, especially when you know you were in the wrong," Jewel suggested softly. She reached out and gave Delaney a quick hug before moving around her to return to the saloon proper. Delany stood a moment, considering that she was going from one annoying male to one ready to blister her butt. Jewel was right. It certainly wouldn't do to storm into her room with an attitude. Slowing, she took several deep breaths and then walked to her door.
She'd never felt more awkward in her life and she'd grown up around many drunk old men playing poker with her father and leering at her. Her room, previously so inviting with its cabbage rose wallpaper and beautiful quilt, was now the last place she wanted to be. She stopped in the middle of the room and waited for direction and didn't have to wait long at all. Gabe had set the lamp on the chest of drawers, and was sitting on the side of her bed. Her stomach churned again as he held out his hand to her.
"Mr. Gabe, you don't have to do this. I understand the rules. I just stepped outside because I needed some air. I didn't go anywhere or do anything wrong, really. I wasn't even six feet from the saloon door. I was literally touching the wall!" She crossed her arms.
"I'm sorry, honey, but you clearly don't understand the rules, or you wouldn't have gone out by yourself at all. You will, however, understand much better by the time I'm through. Come here." He held out his hand to her again, his face determined and stern with his strong jaw and intense brown eyes.
"Please... I've never been spanked before. I don't think I can handle it." She wrung her hands together, fighting the urge to rub her watery eyes, willing them to dry up instead. She didn't want to be so weak.
He stood up and came the short few steps to stand in front of her. She flinched when he lifted his hand, but all he did was take her shoulders and draw her into his arms. His embrace was warm and comforting, almost fatherly.
"I've given many young ladies their first spanking. I can assure you, you can take it and will. It won't change anything, except your behavior and won't hurt anything but your naughty bottom and perhaps your pride. Now, stop fretting and let's get this over with." He retreated to the bed again, this time taking her hand and tugging her along with him.
Her first tear fell as she lay down over his thick thighs. She crossed her arms on the bed behind him and buried her face in her arms, thankful to be able to hide her tears. She cringed when he lifted her skirts and petticoat but when he began to untie the laces to her pantalets, she started to protest, throwing her hands back and arching her back.
"Mr. Gabe, no please. You can't see my... my..."
"Cease your antics right now, young lady." A hearty crack of fire seared her behind, stopping her immediately. "A punishment that is worth anything, must be on the bare bottom so that you learn your lesson. Now settle down, chiquita." The laces came loose and the last vestige of her modesty fell away when he tugged the fabric off her cheeks and down to her knees. "I suggest that next time you want to do something you know is not acceptable, you remember your shame right now."
She whimpered into her arms once again. Mortification coursed through her being. As soon as the man was done, she was out of there! She'd go back to St. Louis and stay with Aunt Margarethe if she had to. She could handle the humiliation of going back into her aunt's house much easier than this. No one should have to endure this abuse, whore or no.
"Delaney, are you listening to me at all?" The use of her given name snapped her back to the present. "I asked you a question."
"Uh, I didn't hear you," she confessed, looking over her shoulder.
"I asked why are you receiving this spanking? I want to be sure you understand." His hand rested on her thigh, the other arm rested across her back, holding her in place.
"I didn't obey your rule."
"What rule is that?" His voice was patient and not the least unkind.
"To never go outside at night unescorted."
"Why do we have that rule, Delaney?"
She sniffled. "To keep us safe."
"Why?" Apparently, he was going to draw this out all day.
"I don't know." She pouted, resisting the urge to belt out something snotty like 'to protect your investment.'
"Because we care, honey. I only punish you because I care. This life is hard. It's dangerous. I do my very best to keep our girls safe. If you can't respect that and the rules, then you are punished, plain and simple." He rubbed her back as he spoke. "You women are precious jewels and I'd hate for you to be hurt."
She couldn't help the sobs that came shuddering out of her. He was going so far to make her comfortable before spanking her. It was incomprehensible except that as he said, he really must care.
"I'm so sorry, Gabe. I'll never ever do it again."
"That makes me happy. This spanking will help you to remember that in case you forget anytime soon. Now let's get it over with." Without a chance to prepare for the first crack, it fell hard and heavy on the fullest swell of her bottom, then continued to the other, and back and forth, one cheek and then the other.
"Ow! Owie." She tossed her hand back to cup her abused posterior, hoping to stop him. This was definitely more than she agreed to, and she wasn't going to take any more of it. "Stop, I don't want this."
He simply took her hand and held it at the small of her back where he'd piled her skirts. "We're just getting started. It wouldn't be a punishment if you called the shots." He kept right on spanking, searing her with fiery spanks all over her bottom, from the swell to the fold, and right there at the tops of her thighs where she was most sensitive.
"Gabe! I'm sorry. I swear it's enough. I'll never, ever leave the saloon again. Please." She felt every spank deep in the meat of her posterior, achingly precise and often right on top of the last one.
"Relax your bottom and accept your spanking." He stopped swatting, and to her great relief rubbed some of the sting away. "It will make it go easier for you. Believe it or not, I don't like this anymore than you do. You're such a sweet girl, but you have to learn to be safe."
Thinking it to be over, she tried to get up, but he held her down and firmly in place with the warm hand resting at her lower back. She just wanted to run to her room and hide her shame in her pillow. Ack! She was in her room. She had nowhere to run. "Please let me go now!"
"We're not through, just giving you a small break." He picked up right where he left off, blistering her ass with the intensity of a man beating off demons.
She could do no more than to sag into her misery and sob. She was so stupid to think he wouldn't catch her or that he wouldn't spank her when he'd spanked every woman here at least once. "I'm so sorry..." she wailed.
"That's a good girl. I know you are going to behave better now. You don't want Jewel, Nettie, the other gems or myself to worry about you like we did tonight, now do you?" He accented his words with sharp stinging spanks obviously meant to drive his point home. Round after round of repetitious swats pulverized her backside until she was a blithering mess of apologies, ows and no mores.
"No, Gabe, no more, please. I'll never go outside again. I promise. I'll never disobey again."
"Don't go making promises you have no way of keeping. You have to go outside again at some time and we both know you will disobey again too." His chuckle was low but not mocking. He finally stopped spanking again, this time actually helping her to her feet. She didn't dare look at him, so she covered her face with her hands, wanting to die there on the spot. She was thankful when her skirt fell down to cover her shame although it did trap the heat in.
Gabe stood as well, and tugged her hands down as he pulled her into a hug once more. "There. It's over now. You take a couple of minutes to compose yourself, but then I want to see you in the card room again. Jewel and the other gems will be worried about you otherwise. And there is no sense staying up here pitying yourself and over thinking it." He stepped back and tilted her chin so she had to look at him. "You've been punished and forgiven. You're fine now. It's over and done with. But, know this, Chiquita, if you disobey again, you'll be right back here with your bottom bared except I'll be removing my belt. Is that clear?"
She nodded when it seemed he was waiting for a response, managing to whisper, "yes, sir" but unable to meet his eyes. She was too humiliated. She was thankful when he finally left the room, drawing her door closed behind him. She threw herself onto her bed and buried her face in her pillow, not even bothering to find her pantalets which had been kicked off sometime during her spanking.
How could she ever go out of her room again, knowing that everyone in the saloon had to know she'd been spanked by now? She would climb out her window and run away if she hadn't heard tales of another gem getting spanked for trying to do just that.
No. No, she wouldn't. She wasn't going anywhere, least of all back to her cold-hearted aunt. Besides that, until she'd saved up some more money, Delaney had no means with which to leave. She was actually very lucky to have her place dealing cards here at the Red Petticoat Saloon. Other establishments wouldn't allow a woman to work there unless she was willing to play upstairs as well as down. Not only wasn't she required to entertain clients with more than playing cards, Jewel had taken her in and fed her even before she technically had a job there. When the madam had declared that her gem name was to be Diamond, Delaney had asked why.
"Because though it is quite obvious that your heart is in the game, a heart is not a gemstone. However, a diamond is." She'd paused and reached out to give her newest gem a hug. "And you, young lady, are an absolutely brilliant card player."
Delaney must have looked a bit confused because Opal had giggled and said, "Brilliant... like the brilliance of a diamond. That's a perfect name for her, Jewel."
Yes, Delaney owed Jewel and Gabe respect at the very least. They were good people.
She'd pretty much unwound the tight knot in her stomach by then and was about ready to get up and head back out to the floor when a soft knock fell on her door.
"Diamond, you all right? Can I come in?" Jewel inquired.
Delaney rolled over and sat up, cringing when her raw bottom met the firm mattress below her. She hurriedly lifted a layer of her skirt to her eyes to try to wipe the worst of her face clean. "Yes, come on in."
The door creaked slowly and Jewel's smiling face appeared on the other side. "I was worried; just wanted to make sure you were all right." She came forward slowly and Delaney shifted to drop her feet over the side of the bed so she could sit up more fully.
"Aside from hoping I'll fall down a magic rabbit hole and never appear again, I'm fine. I'm just so embarrassed now." She gave a pathetic smile, and reached up to smooth her hair back. What a mess.
"I brought you some of Nettie's fresh squeezed lemonade. It was her excuse so I could come to check in on you, but of course, it was already set in my head to come. Anyway, if you are anything like me when I get paddled, you cried terribly hard, are parched and now have a sore throat. This will help with all of that." She handed the tall glass to Delaney with a sympathetic smile.
"You've been spanked too?" She couldn't help but be surprised the madam received spankings too. She was so elegant and sophisticated; surely Jewel never did anything to warrant spanking! Delaney took a long drink and averted her gaze as Jewel giggled, her face flushing beautifully.
"Of course, silly girl. Probably more times than all of the gems put together, and sometimes they are even a punishment." Delaney must have looked shocked for Jewel laughed. "Most times they are good-girl spankings, but believe me, I've had my share of punishments and I wouldn't wish them on anyone. But I want you to understand, I know I deserve it if Gabe issues it. He is an honest, fair and compassionate man. He just wants to keep us all safe and takes that job very seriously."
"You love him so much. That's sweet. I can't imagine anyone doing that for fun. What is a good-girl spanking?" As soon as she'd put voice to the words, an image of herself over the marshal's thighs popped into her head. The confusing thing was the way her loins tightened with longing. She sipped her lemonade, searching for something to occupy herself.
Jewel rubbed her arm. "Hmmm, I suppose it would be different for each couple. It's still a spanking, but often not as hard. There is a lot more rubbing, some intimate stroking... well, I'm sure you get the point. Anyway, it's more than love with Gabe; I trust and respect him. I guess I just wanted to reassure you that Gabe only punishes those he loves. It's his way of caring for you. I suppose with all the gals who have come and gone so far, it seems common for men to care for their ladies in this manner. Anyway, I hope that you see the punishment for what it was, and that you are all right now."
"Thank you, Jewel. I was feeling pretty pathetic. I'm still embarrassed and don't know how I'll face everyone. I mean they all have to know what just happened." Delaney set the glass on the little table by her bed, stood and went to her small mirror. Her face was still red and puffy from crying, even in the half-light.
"Even if you are right, it hardly matters. It doesn't mean you are bad person. Every gem in this place has been spanked at some time. If anything, they can probably sympathize with you." She got up and came to Delaney's side, took the pitcher of water from her wash stand then dampened a hand cloth. "Here hold this on your eyes for a little while, then refresh it and try again. Give it a couple minutes and you'll be good as new-well, from the waist up anyway." She chuckled, then added, "I'm sorry. I'll give you some peace, but do come out in a bit so everyone will see that you are just fine."
"Thank you, Jewel, you've helped me a lot. I'll be out in a few minutes." She took the cloth and did as Jewel asked. It was refreshing. Well, since the spanking hadn't killed her and she had yet to die of humiliation, perhaps she would be all right after all.
Previous books in the Red Petticoat Series...