|Your cart is currently empty|
Just as a psychic predicted, Cheryl Zeringue helps Detective Nathan Thibodaux bring down the River Parishes’ serial killer. The case closed, Cheryl finds herself fighting her attraction to the soon to be sheriff of the River Parishes Region. Haunting memories of a past mistake threaten to overwhelm the lady editor, and the last thing she needs is a law enforcement officer investigating too deeply into her life.
Nathan finds himself fascinated by the strawberry blonde who thrives on pushing his buttons. From cursing like a hardened criminal to driving at dangerous speeds, Cheryl needs someone to step in and save her from herself. He could help, he knows. All he needs to do is stop her from locking him out of her life.
Can Nathan help Cheryl discover the details from her past and prove he’s the right man for her? Is Cheryl brave enough to face her memories and allow Nathan into her life? Together, are they strong enough to face what they discover and allow their relationship to grow?
Publisher’s Note: This book contains elements of domestic discipline, sexual scenes and adult language. If these themes offend you, please do not purchase.
An elderly lady dressed all in black, with wild, gray hair flowing about her face walked up to Detective Nathan Thibodaux as he watched Cheryl Zeringue walking to the front of a small crowd. The younger woman was dressed in a white, silk dress and matching high heels. The awkward way she moved told onlookers she was not accustomed to walking in heels. The cop tried to hide his grin, not wanting to make Cheryl anymore embarrassed about losing their bet. He had told her it was only a matter of time before her brother Gene Zeringue asked his lady love to be his wife. Cheryl had insisted Lenore Royal, the now famous Psychic of the River Parishes, would dump her bossy brother. Boy, had she been wrong. The terms of Nathan and her bet were hardly finalized before her brother put his ring on Lenore's finger. Had she won, Nathan would be standing in front of a bar at one of the more famous gay nightclubs in New Orleans, dressed in tight jeans and a form fitting shirt. Cheryl decided her winning would be two fold. She could bring the arrogant police officer down a few notches while horny people gawked at his magnificent body. She would also get to enjoy watching his muscles play across the tight shirt she had wanted him to wear.
But she had not won their little wager. Now she had to dress up in fancy clothes and pretend to be comfortable walking around in damn, high heels. To make matters worse, the new editor of the River Parishes' Herald had to go shopping just to purchase tonight's outfit. She had not taken the effort to dress up like this since high school. The strawberry blonde beauty tried to convince herself that was why she felt so uneasy tonight. Just slipping into the dress had her all but hyperventilating. Ordering herself to get control, Cheryl took a deep breath as she stood in front of a few dozen family and friends of Lenore and Gene, offering up a toast to the happy couple.
"I'd like to welcome Lenore into our family. It took a psychic to see the potential in my dear, older brother, Gene. I've always wanted a sister, but my parents decided to stop after my birth, probably because they had already reached perfection in a child, namely me. I was lucky though. They managed to learn from their mistakes with Gene." As the reporter got into her speech, she started relaxing. Now she had the crowd eating out of her hand. There was something charismatic about the new editor of the local newspaper.
Cheryl continued, "Now I have a new sister, one with a heart of gold, who fights for those in need. We all know she helped save a few lives in recent years." At that mention, Adrienne and Chance Breaux gave Lenore a knowing look. The psychic had helped the couple deal with some of the first spirits of River Oaks, a plantation home they owned and rented to Lenore.
The lady editor continued her toast, as she recalled the most recent spirits the psychic had helped. Cheryl had been the one to discover the killer's real identity and almost ended up being one of his last victims. Officer Thibodaux had showed up just in the nick of time to save the day. How the editor wished it could have been anybody, but him, to do it. The damn man was already arrogant enough. The last thing she needed to be was beholden to him for rescuing her.
"Not many people know it, but Gene would never have met his beautiful future wife if it had not been for me. Lenore and I went to school together. Always a protector, she watched out for me when other kids tried to boss me around." The reporter shot Nathan Thibodaux a pointed look as she spoke. "Some people see me as being on the short side. Lenore became my champion the day some football jock yanked on my bra strap. The guy was a linebacker for the high school team, and Lenore was just as petite as I was back then. That did not stop her from taking on my tormentor. If my high handed big brother had not shown up and saved his friend, I am sure Lenore would have clobbered the jerk for me. That's the kind of person she is. She's kind and caring, even helping others who sometimes judge her harshly because she has a talent we all don't understand. The only thing she's lacked until now is a protector, someone to watch over her and make sure she's safe, loved and protected. My brother has finally found his true role in life. He's stepped down from the newspaper to become not only Lenore's husband, but her new business manager. Oh, and he's also become her hero. Mine, too."
She raised a champagne glass high in the air as everyone clapped. She shot Nathan a telling glare at the mention of her brother being the hero. Gene had put himself in danger to save Lenore and her, so bossy Nathan needed to remember putting an end to the killings was a team effort. The spirits of River Oaks, Lenore and Gene's home, had tried to tell them the killer's name was Leland. Everyone had a hard time believing elderly, widower Leland Duhe could ever actually kill anyone, much less murder four different friends of his wife and his.
Nobody connected that his son, nicknamed Sonny, was sneaking back into his childhood parish to kill and rob friends of his parents. Cheryl had figured it out and sent Nathan Thibodaux out of the area so she could gather her evidence before he swooped in and took over the facts she had uncovered. He had been hotter than hell when he’d gotten word of her part in sending him away, threatening bodily harm to imprisonment. Since he had been preparing to run for the position of sheriff soon, Cheryl had doubted he wanted to smear his image by tackling her head on. She'd shown up tonight to make good on her promise to dress up fancy and toast the newly engaged couple. Now that she had done that, she saw little reason to ever have to deal with the overconfident cop again.
Across the room, the cop could not take his eyes off of the beauty sipping champagne. She was a tiny little thing, probably no taller than five foot two, at best. Even in heels, she only came up to his shoulders. But she was feisty, he knew. Lenore had used her psychic talents to warn him Cheryl would be the one to discover the River Parishes' Killer's identity. His gut feelings told him the psychic was right, and he followed the beauty around for weeks, waiting for his first real break in ending the killer's reign of terror on the River Parishes region. Unfortunately, being around the little lady had an unexpected side effect. She was wild, brash, cursed too freely, and did not have a lick of sense where her own safety was concerned. She needed someone to take her in hand before she ended up getting herself killed. He still broke out in a cold sweat when he remembered walking into her home a few months before. A mad man had a pistol pointed at her and was lunging toward her as if to use her as a human shield. Nathan barely got a shot off before the killer could harm her.
"She's worth it," the elderly woman confided, taking Nathan by surprise. As a police officer, he was not used to someone managing to sneak up on him undetected. He generally was better aware of his surroundings. Of course, seeing how sexy the little lady reporter looked tonight would throw any man off his game, the cop assured himself. His life was finally back to normal, now that the River Parishes' Killer reign of terror was over. What was he going to do about the sassy editor, though? He still needed to address her serious offense of sending him away when the people in the region needed him the most. That was one offense he would not let go unanswered, either.
Nathan looked at the old lady standing beside him now. He wondered if he might possibly be talking to an actual ghost. After everything he had been through lately, he did not doubt the possibility. This lady sure looked paranormal. She had an impressive rack for a woman of her advanced years. She looked a bit familiar, but he was sure he had never meant her before tonight. "Pardon me, ma'am?" he asked. "Who's worth it?"
"The pretty little woman you can't keep your eyes off of," the older lady laughed. "You're concerned pursuing her might cost you your bid of being sheriff one day." The woman told him, reaching over to take his large hands in her smaller ones. Closing her gray eyes, a smile etched across her wrinkled face. "Oh, my, you will have your hands full with that one, young man. She'll definitely keep you on your toes." Another grin followed and she opened her eyes. "And you'll have her hopping on her toes, too. I would not make the mistake of taking her across your knee. She bites, dear. It's probably best to lean her over the table when you take her in hand, at least until you tame her a bit."
"Granny Royal!" Lenore called out from across the room. She pulled Gene with her to greet her grandmother. "We didn't know you were coming tonight. We're so glad you could make it."
"So this is the River Parishes famous psychic," Gene said. He started to reach over to shake the older woman's hand, but she grabbed him in a tight hug instead.
She corrected him. "Madame Lenore is the current River Parishes' psychic, young man. But you'd be knowing all about that, wouldn't you? I hear you're her new manager. She says you gave up some important job as editor of a newspaper so you could keep a closer eye on her. Smart move, young man. Lenore has a big heart, but she sometimes forgets to think things through before acting. There's a rumor you are even writing a book about the paranormal."
Gene took a chance and asked, "What are the chances I could get you to sit for an interview? I think it's time someone told the story about how you predicted the death of two famous residents before their untimely death seventy-five years ago. Lenore has tried to fill me in on the details, but I'd rather get a firsthand account."
"Come talk to me after the wedding, young man. Once you're an official part of the family, I'd be happy to talk to you about the Royal family's talents." The older woman announced, "Oh, look. I see my son and his delightful wife. He'd never forgive me if I didn't go over there and tell them hello, especially since all of his friends are here to help celebrate your engagement. He'll want to introduce me to them, you know." Everyone knew Lenore's parents were embarrassed to be associated with anything paranormal. The only reason they probably showed up tonight was because they were excited to finally see their only daughter married off to a respected young man.
"Shame on you for fibbing, Granny Royal." Lenore scolded. "Go ahead. Try not to make my poor parents suffer too much, though."
"Dear, I know just how far to push my son," the elderly Royal assured Lenore before walking away.
"If you'll excuse me," Nathan announced. "I want to go congratulate your sister on giving such a wonderful toast to celebrate your engagement."
"No you don't," Gene chuckled. "You want to gloat. Be careful, Thibodaux. Cheryl does not admit defeat easily. I warned you before, she does not play fair."
Nathan straightened his tie and adjusted his jacket. "And she bites..." he muttered, more to himself than anyone else as he strolled in her direction.
During his time with the lovely editor, Nathan had learned she enjoyed drinking a bit too often. Though she rarely hit the hard stuff, she often drank several glasses of wine in his presence. He might not have been as concerned had she allowed him to drive her here tonight. But the contrary woman always refused to take him up on his offers to chauffer her around. Nor did she take his less than subtle hints that he could always ride along with her. The woman had a real issue with driving anyone but herself around. There had to be a reason behind such a hard and fast rule. He was determined to solve the mystery.
Cheryl saw her nemesis striding in her direction and tensed. Damn the guy, was he really going to come over and gloat? Taking a gulp of her red wine, she braced herself, swearing she would not thank him for saving her life all those nights ago. She did not need him hanging around, butting into her personal life, commenting on her poor choices and rash actions. She shifted her position; those damn heels making her feel off balanced. To think she wasted money on a dress she would never wear again, much less shoes that pinched her toes, galled her.
"You look beautiful tonight," Nathan announced.
"I look ridiculous, but that's what you wanted when you came up with the terms of our little bet." She tried not to notice how sexy he looked in his dress clothes. He looked comfortable no matter what he wore. Not her, she realized. Putting on fancy clothes had bothered her since starting college. It had not always been that way, she admitted to herself. Once she had been so concerned with wearing the latest fashion, she had bullied her mother into taking her shopping downtown at the more exclusive dress shops. As a teenager, she had been preoccupied with looking her best. The last dress she had nagged her mother to purchase was for her high school graduation. It had cost hundreds of dollars and her mother had been appalled that she wanted to spend so much money on a dress she would likely wear only once. The uneasiness she felt tripled when tragic memories of that particular dress came to mind.
A waiter passing by was carrying a tray with wine glasses filled with red liquid. She snagged one of the long stemmed cups. Drinking in public helped her dull her anxiety a bit. Tonight had been more nerve racking than most. She was out of her element here, dressed in clothes that she had no desire to wear, pretending she was some polished, innocent society lady. Snorting with disgust, she raised the glass to her lips. A large hand reached out to still her efforts.
"You really ought to consider pacing yourself," Nathan suggested. "It would be one thing if you had allowed me to drive you here, but you will be getting behind the wheel of a car in about an hour. I noticed you did not eat your meal, either. On an empty stomach, wine can be just as potent as the hard stuff, you know."
"Fuck off," she told him, surprising even herself with her bold vocabulary. Generally she stuck to hell, damn, and shit because her family cringed at her cursing. It was not lady like, they advised her, like she was some innocent social butterfly who needed to protect her image.
"Give me your keys, and I'll be happy to let you drink to your heart's content. Apparently losing a bet with grace is not part of your charm. Promise to let me drive you home so you arrive safe and sound, and I'll let you get as drunk and vulgar as you wish." The tall cop with the copper hair and emerald eyes did not raise his voice. If anything, he lowered it and sent chills down the editor's spine.
Using her free hand, she pried his hand away from her wrist. Cheryl lifted the liquid to her lips and savored the taste as she took a long gulp. Sure, she was feeling a bit light headed now, but it beat letting her mind linger on thoughts better left in the past. "I don't ride with anyone else in a car. Ever! I told you that before, Thibodaux. Piss off and let me enjoy the rest of this party. You collected your winnings. I'm dressed like a brainless airhead. I stood up and gave a fucking touching toast. Now let me salvage the rest of this night. I want to remember as little of it as possible."
With a salute of her wine glass, she started to walk away. The moment she lifted it up, he took advantage of her unsteady movements and removed the glass from her hand. Now she let out a string of curses, the likes of which would embarrass some of the hardened criminals he had dealt with in his years on the police force. Her parents, publishers of the River Parishes’ Herald, looked up and saw the commotion. The newly engaged couple stopped dancing and turned to see the spectacle, as did most of their guests. The only person oblivious to the awkward situation was Cheryl Zeringue. Nathan decided he needed to put a stop to her actions before she did something to mar the entire celebration. He deposited the wine glass at a nearby table and pulled the strawberry blonde out onto the dance floor. The detective was much stronger than she, and he managed to overcome her awkward attempts to escape.
She would have belted him one, but he had her hands locked under his strong arms. The bastard twirled her around the dance floor, causing her to get lightheaded and lose all thoughts of fighting back. It took all her concentration not to fall down. Maybe she did have too much to drink tonight, she chided herself. What the hell was wrong with her? She felt as if her life was spiraling out of control. Was she really such an ungracious loser, that having to pay off a bet to dress up and offer a stupid toast would make her this nasty? Yeah, pretend it's the bet that makes you such a loser, Cheryl mocked herself. If that were true, tomorrow she could wake up and pretend this night never happened. Forgetting a night, about nine years before, would be a bit harder to accomplish. Everyone could overlook her current lack of poor choices. What about an act from the past, which cost another person his life? Even if everyone else was pretending to forget all about that night, she couldn't. She would never be able to put it behind her.
Nathan rubbed the small of the back of the beautiful woman he held. He doubted she realized her head was resting against his chest. All the aggressive energy was fading from her small frame. He pulled her tighter in his arms, supporting her until she felt more in control. The woman had fascinated him for months now, ever since she came bursting into her brother's home and complaining about the way he was handling the most critical investigation in his entire career. At the time, he was trying to bring a serial killer to justice. Everything else in his life had taken a back seat, including his plans to run for sheriff in the coming election year. He had promised himself life would be normal once the killer was brought to justice. Then Cheryl Zeringue barged into his life, and he knew his future was even murkier than before.
It was hard to believe losing a bet to him could account for her emotional rage tonight. The woman he followed around for over a month was confident, ready to face any challenge, including a serial killer, without second guessing. He would address such dangerous actions with her one day soon, but for now, she seemed to need his strength and understanding. Training to be a police officer prepared people to realize when their talents called for de-escalating a volatile situation. He whispered calming words in her ear, promising everything would be all right. The music ended, but he kept swaying, using the beat of his steady heart rate to lull her into relaxing.
"Don't think about it," Cheryl ordered herself. "Think about anything else, but don't think about that night." She inhaled deeply, letting the masculine scent of the hot cop holding her fill her lungs. The lingering hint of gasoline plaguing her thoughts whenever she thought about the night of her accident suddenly vanished. Letting all thoughts of driving fade away, she closed her eyes and tried to live in the present. Nothing else mattered at this moment. She could face reality again tomorrow. Didn't she deserve at least one night of peace, free from guilt and shame?
"You don't live too far from here, honey. Let me walk you home. The fresh air will help calm your nerves. Everything is going to be all right. I won't let anything happen to you. Trust me to keep you safe." Nathan moved her toward the doorway, keeping his voice low. Could she be having a flashback to the serial killer who almost executed her? He knew a lot about Post Traumatic Stress. He had learned the hard way that trying to ignore a distressing event only made the after affects worse. It was critical to face such events head on. He could help her do that if she allowed it. Why did it seem so important to him to help her? All his protective instincts came out around this woman. She desperately needed someone to take her in hand before she hurt herself or someone else.
Lenore's gift for premonition came in handy again. The River Parishes' Psychic handed him Cheryl's purse without the lady in question even noticing. If everything worked out in his favor, he would have her outside away from the crowd before she had a chance to start arguing again. Things were not working his way, Nathan decided, when the waiter from earlier, passed between the couple and the exit. The younger man was not paying attention, and his tray of wine glasses toppled. Most of the drinks were empty, but a little red liquid splattered across the white dress Cheryl wore. Nathan steadied himself for the explosion he was sure was going to follow. The cop prepared to haul the little lady outside if she started cursing like a sailor again.
Everything going on around Cheryl dimmed and the room took a surreal feeling. The editor of the newspaper looked down at the splattering of red stains on her dress as she heard the all too familiar ringing in her ears. A dreadful, eerie feeling crept across her skin, as the sounds and sights of the room around her disappeared. Echoes of sirens from the past started pounding in her ears. Then the smell of gasoline filled her with terror. She had to escape. Run! Break free before there was an explosion. But she was trapped. No matter how hard she struggled, she was pinned in place. In her mind, she was sandwiched between a steering wheel and a crumpled seat, the stench of gas making her feel nauseous. In real time, Nathan tightened his arms around her, concerned she would do something rash. Trapped in her own personal nightmare, Cheryl crumpled; she would have hit the floor, save for the strong arms of detective Nathan Thibodaux. He cradled her to his massive chest and briskly walked her outside into the cool air.
"I'm going to need all of you to take a few steps back." The take charge tone of Detective Thibodaux had the small crowd huddled around him shuffling away. Concern etched his face as he looked down at the beautiful lady he cradled tightly in his arms. Leaning back against his dark SUV, he waited for her to stir. A gentle breeze blew around them, lifting a few strands of her silky hair about. Her face leaned into his chest as she started to come around.
"My poor baby," her mother cooed from her position a few feet away. Her husband, an attractive man with the same hair color of the lady Nathan supported, put a reassuring hand around her shoulder. Tammy Zeringue let her husband comfort her. He would make sure everything was all right. Eugene Sr. always took care of his family.
"Maybe I should call for an ambulance?" Cheryl's father and publisher of the River Parishes' Herald suggested. "Did the tray hit her head or something?" The last comment was posed to Nathan.
Instead of taking comfort in her father's words, his voice seemed to agitate Cheryl. She started shaking her head back and forth. Nathan lifted her up higher in his arms and whispered for her to shush. "You're all right, honey. Everything is going to be fine. Just take in a few deep breaths." Remarkably, the generally stubborn woman took his advice. A collective sigh of relief filled the onlookers.
"I think it's best if we all go back inside. This young man seems to have everything under control." The senior Zeringue turned to use his arms to usher his wife, son and future daughter-in-law away.
"But what if she needs us?" his wife asked, looking over at her daughter. She seemed so small in the large man's arms. Their son had introduced them to the detective earlier in the night. He seemed to be a friend, but did this make him qualified to minister to their only daughter?
"I'm sure someone will send for us if they need anything." Her husband insisted and pulled her along with him.
Cheryl kept her eyes closed tightly, a mixture of confusion and embarrassment nearly paralyzing her from the moment she came to after passing out. The walls of protection she had built around her heart were temporarily down. Maybe it was the comforting scent of the man holding her as if she were an innocent child, protecting her from all evil. Then again, it could be the public setting of her humiliation. Up to now, her panic attacks had rarely been noticed by others. When they had overwhelmed her in the past, she had found a way to escape to a secluded place where she could gain control without showing her vulnerability. What must people think about her now?
The deep voice of the man holding her brought Cheryl's eyes open. "You're safe now, babe. Take a few deep breaths." The steady beat of his heart made her snuggle even closer to his chest. She willed herself to concentrate on taking long, deep breaths, before exhaling slowly through her mouth. The ringing in her ears was gone now, replaced by his voice and heartbeat.
His tone was soothing now, encouraging instead of mocking. "That's it, little lady. Now open your eyes a bit wider and look around. We're in the parking lot at the hall. See your little car parked on the side of us." The lady editor slowly opened her lids. Though it was dark, nothing about this place resembled her nightmare. Recognition of familiar sights helped ground her now, washing away the need to run.
Their eyes met for a second. Maybe it was because her defenses were down, but she found herself getting lost in the honest look of concern there. There was no judgment, or worse, pity. For a moment she felt as if this man would help her sort through her issues. He would never rush to cover them up and encourage her to forget them. No, this determined man was the type who would insist a person face her actions, learn from them, and even pay the punishment they warranted. Absolution? If only all sins could be washed away with such a determined approach.
"I'm going to put you down, but don't worry. I won't let you fall. I've got you, honey. Trust me?" His eyes locked with hers again, and he waited for her acknowledgement. Then he eased her down until her shoes touched the pavement. Waiting for her to gain her balance, he bent down and helped slip off her high heels so she could have a more steady footing. The shoes sat on the hood of his vehicle now, next to her purse.
"Thank you... I should have eaten earlier." She tried to give off a nonchalant smile but failed. "I must have gotten a bit light headed from all the excitement. You go back inside. I better head home now. I probably need a good night's sleep. I'm okay now. Really."
"I could drive you home," he offered but the fear in her eyes changed his mind. Damn, he had forgotten her paranoia about riding with others in a vehicle. He rebounded quickly. "I feel a bit light headed myself. Why don't you let me walk you home? Not many people get a personal police escort. You should be honored."
"How much would it cost me?" Cheryl was shocked the words came out. Why hadn't she turned down his offer instead of trying to act coy? She started to say something about not needing any help when he put a long, tan finger up to her lips.
With a mocking smile, he shook his head to halt her words. Instead he handed her the purse Lenore had given him earlier. "It only costs you a few moments of your time, honey. Why don't you call your mom and tell her everything is okay, and I'm seeing you home? Better yet, call your dad. He seems more inclined not to ask a bunch of questions you might not be ready to field at the moment."
The detective was perceptive, she gave him that much. Her father answered on the first ring and agreed with her plans to walk home with the officer. He promised to check on her the next morning. Between him and her brother Gene, they offered to get her car back to her place.
Nathan extended his arm out as if to escort her down the aisle of a wedding. Giggling freely for the first time all night, Cheryl pointed down to her bare feet. "Walking home is going to be a bit difficult without those darn heels, detective. I should probably put them back on, though my feet won't be thrilled with the idea."
The giant tucked her heels in his pockets. Before she could protest, he leaned back on his SUV and pulled off one of his shoes. Unrolling his sock, he took it off and placed it on the hood before putting the shoe back on, sans the sock. Then he repeated the process. Cheryl watched with fascination, not sure what he was hoping to accomplish. It became all too clear when he lifted her by the waist and set her on the SUV hood. He tenderly rolled the socks on her tiny feet, chuckling at the way they reached to her thighs. Both pretended not to notice the electrical shock each felt as his hands connected with her sensitive skin. Setting her down carefully, he looked at her with a sexy grin.
"Lady Editor, only you could pull off a look like this. You are sexy in just about anything I see you in." His eyes took in the beautiful curves hugging her white dress. The light from the parking lot made the wine stains nearly impossible to see. The black socks disappearing under the hem of the silk material almost looked like thigh high boots. For a moment, Nathan allowed himself to ponder the sight before him. Sexy, thigh high boots that a man could slowly unzip and ease down a woman's legs, licking the exposed skin, tasting the perfection. Damn, he needed to adjust himself before she realized how turned on he was right now. She would never let him walk her home if she realized how much he wanted her. Feeling foolish in her dress and men's socks, she wondered why he would even want to be seen in public with her. Before he could change his mind, she tucked her arm into his and headed for the path leading to her home. "By the time we get to my place, your poor socks will be a lost cause, you know?"
Nathan did not mention it, but his socks were not the only lost cause. This little lady was nothing but trouble, and it was best to keep his distance. But he doubted he could. Even the old psychic hinted there was a chance of a relationship between them. He smiled remembering her warnings. They had echoed his friend Gene's. Cheryl was strong willed and did not fight fair and was prone to bite. He could live with the first flaw, having suffered from the same affliction himself. He was open to biting, in a controlled situation. But that flaw of fighting unfairly was something he would not let pass. Should he fill her in on what he learned about Domestic Discipline ahead of time, before they developed any hope of a relationship? Nah, she would likely balk at the idea. She was very intelligent, though. After he set her ass on fire a few dozen times, she'd likely pick up on the pattern of which behaviors were considered unacceptable. Besides, she was such a tiny little thing. He would have to concentrate on making sure he was not too harsh when he took her in hand. The last thing he wanted was to hurt her. Such a fragile little frame might bruise, even with the lightest of spanks.