Lack of Decorum by Abigail WebsterHistorical old-fashioned Western. He wants a young lady with some fire in her blood to marry and take to his ranch in Wyoming. The journey proves to be trying for both of them as she learns he is a cowboy who will take her in hand.
Great–uncle Ram’s will was clear: Ramsey Cline needed to take a wife if he was to inherit the ranch in Wyoming. Ramsey doesn’t dispute this, but he has no interest in an insipid little miss. He wants a young lady with some fire in her blood. He knows Gwendolyn Marx and is certain she’s the woman for him.
Gwendolyn has given up on finding a man who will love her in spite of her outspoken ways, but she’s equally shocked when her father tells her she’s to marry Ramsey Cline and horrified when Ramsey turns her over his knee to enforce the idea that she will obey him and will speak her vows. Yet she finds herself responding to Ramsey’s less–than–gentle touch and rough ways…
Once married, Gwendolyn is not a bit upset that her husband wants to take her to Wyoming to start their life together. But the journey proves to be trying, and Ramsey’s and Gwendolyn’s marriage is tested before they even reach their destination. Can Ramsey deal with his wife’s "lack of decorum" properly?
Originally published as two novellas, "Lack of Decorum" is now a two novella set that will please customers who enjoy old–fashioned Westerns with traditional men who won’t take a sassy brat sitting down. It contains traditional domestic discipline themes in a historical setting, including the spanking of adult women.
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Lack of Decorum (Sample Chapter)
A ranch in Wyoming, a new husband who believes in domestic discipline in the historic old west. What more could a woman ask for?
© Abigail Webster and Blushing Publications. 2013
St. Louis, Missouri
Ramsey Cline needed a wife, and he needed one immediately. While he could not afford to be choosy, he still had standards, and the very pretty Gwendolyn Marx would suit just fine. She was very beautiful, came from a good family, and her father offered an impressive dowry. She was young enough to bear him children, and Ramsey had exactly one year to accomplish that feat. In fact, Gwendolyn would suit perfectly… if the rumors of her temper were not exaggerated. The main reason he had not taken a wife was that he could not bear insipid, mild, meek women. He preferred intelligent women who were not afraid to speak their minds. Gwendolyn Marx was reputed to speak her mind to one and all. He would quickly teach her to control her temper when in public, but in private, he would enjoy watching the sparks fly from her tongue.
"How do I look, Reed?" he asked his valet.
"Fine, sir," the elderly man replied.
"I need to make a favorable impression upon a lady, hopefully my future wife." Ramsey astounded the man with his announcement, but he leaked the information on purpose. By the time he returned, with his bride, the household would be prepared to accept her as their new mistress.
When he arrived at the upscale address, Ramsey frowned as he climbed out of his carriage. He could hear voices raised in argument from where he stood on the stoop, and he could not resist pausing a moment to listen to what was being said before using the brass door knocker to announce himself. He heard a male voice speaking quietly, and a female screeching in reply. He heard enough. If that was his future bride screaming at her father, then he was anxious to meet her, and she certainly needed to meet him.
The door was opened by a shy little maid who curtseyed and asked him politely to come inside. She took his hat and his cane and placed them on a table in the hallway and then asked him to have a seat in the parlor. The screaming continued from another room and Ramsey asked, "May I inquire as to whom is having the tantrum?"
"Oh, sir, that is Miss Gwendolyn. She has a bit of a temper, she does." The last was added in a confidential whisper.
"I see. Thank you, Miss. I think Mr. Marx needs my help with this situation." Before the maid could stop him, Ramsey walked down the hallway, knocked on the closed door and walked right inside.
"Mr. Marx." He nodded his head at the exasperated, red-faced man. "Miss Marx, are you always so rude to your father?" he asked quietly.
"That is none of your business!" She whirled to look at him, her green eyes full of anger.
Ramsey felt the full punch of her eyes deep within him. Gwendolyn was not just pretty, she was exceptionally beautiful. Her red hair was arranged stylishly and she was dressed in the latest fashion, showing off her small waist. The neckline and hem of her dress were trimmed with an expensive lace, and the color of the rich fabric matched her green eyes. Ramsey would not mind marriage to the young woman, especially now that he knew her temper was as fiery as her hair. "It is my business, Miss Marx, since I am the man who has offered for your hand."
"I do not wish to marry you, Mr. Cline." Her chin tilted upwards, and he smiled at the idea of her trying to look down her nose at him when she was a good deal shorter than he.
"Your father has already made the decision in your behalf, Miss Marx, and all that is required is your compliance with his wishes."
"Never!" She hurled the word at him.
"'Never' arrives this afternoon at two o'clock, Miss Marx. I trust you will cooperate."
"I most certainly will not. I do not know you, and I will not marry you." She whirled on her parent. "How could you sell me to this impossible man?"
"Sell you?" Ramsey asked in surprise. "Why, Miss Marx, you have that all wrong. Your father is not selling you to me; he is paying me to take you off his hands." He was ready when she raised her hand to slap him. He caught her wrist in his hand and said, "Mr. Marx, I think my fiancée needs a lesson in decorum. I trust that you have no objection to my dealing with the matter since Gwendolyn is soon to be my wife?" He did not take his dark eyes off of Gwendolyn when he addressed her father.
Nathaniel Marx got to his feet. "As I told you yesterday, Mr. Cline, I despaired of ever finding a husband for Gwen. She has insulted each and every man who has shown an interest in her. If you feel you can deal with her effectively without actually harming her, then you have my blessing."
"Thank you, sir. Now, young lady, we are going to have a little talk, and you are going to pay careful attention."
"I think not, Mr. Cline. Release my arm at once!"
Ramsey did not release her, but instead drew her over to a sofa against the wall. He sat her down with a thump. "I said we are going to talk, Miss Marx."
"And I said we have nothing to discuss!" Gwendolyn jumped to her feet, fully prepared to leave the room, but once again, the tall man grabbed her arm and stopped her.
"I can see that I am going to have to take sterner measures with you, Miss Marx. I had hoped this particular lesson could wait until after we wed, but your stubborn attitude needs to be addressed right now." He took a seat on the sofa and in the next moment he tugged her facedown over his lap.
Gwendolyn was mortified! "Do not dare strike me!" she yelled, and in the next second his hand smacked against her upturned bottom. "Father, do something!" she ordered, thoroughly outraged.
"Your Father is tired of your temper, young lady, and has given you to me to deal with. And this is how I intend to deal with your temper and your stubborn refusal to sit down and listen!" He gave her another sharp spank and then another.
"I hate you!" Gwendolyn kicked her feet as he continued to spank her. "I hate you!" He did not answer, but continued to set her bottom on fire. "Father, please, stop him!" she begged.
"No, daughter. I should have done this myself years ago, and I would have if your mother wouldn't have raised such a fuss when I suggested a spanking would cure you of throwing temper tantrums. Your new husband has the right of it."
"Father!" Gwendolyn protested, but to no avail. Ramsey Cline rained down spank after stinging spank on her burning bottom, and no matter what she said, he refused to stop. She finally stopped struggling, sensing that the horrible spanking would continue until she did. After just a few more hard spanks, he finally stopped.
"Are you ready to sit quietly and listen, Miss Marx?" Ramsey asked.
When she did not answer immediately he commented, "I guess not."
Gwen cried out in pain as he started spanking her sore bottom again, rapidly this time. "I will! I will!"
"You will what, Miss Marx?" He gave her several more hard spanks before he acknowledged her words.
"I will listen to what you have to say." She wanted to kill him! And, she would not marry him!
Ramsey stood her up and it was all she could do to keep from reaching back to rub her injured posterior. She was in serious pain! "Sit down, please, Miss Marx."
"I said I will listen to what you have to say; I did not say that I will sit. Frankly, I am unable to do so at this moment. So, say what you have to say, and leave this house so that I never have to set eyes on you again!"
Ramsey was delighted that her spirit was not easily crushed but kept his face composed. "Is it necessary to spank you yet again, Miss Marx? If it is, I assure you that you will learn that I have been fairly gentle with you up to this point. I asked you to sit down, now please do so."
Gwendolyn looked up at him and saw that he meant precisely what he said. Ramsey Cline might look like a gentleman, but, underneath that polished façade, was a ruthless man. She gingerly eased her stinging bottom on the sofa, doing her best not to wince as she did so. "Say what it is you feel you must say," she ordered firmly.
"You will learn to speak in a more pleasant tone of voice when addressing me," he said softly.
Gwendolyn shivered. "I doubt we shall ever see one another again, Mr. Cline."
"Oh, we shall see each other daily for the rest of our lives, Miss Marx. We are to be wed this afternoon."
"I refuse to marry you," she said forcefully.
"I am not asking you, Miss Marx. Your father has given his blessing and everything is arranged. You have several hours between now and then to pack your belongings and to choose a dress in which to be married. The one you are wearing now is beautiful, but I would be pleased if you would wear something a bit more formal."
Gwendolyn struggled to control her temper and lost. She jumped to her feet and yelled, "I am NOT marrying you! You can leave immediately, sir, or I shall ask the servants to throw you out!"
"You would not wish to have one of your servants injured attempting to obey you in a misguided attempt at loyalty, Miss Marx. As I said, your father and I have signed a contract, and your dowry already paid."
"Is this true, Father?" Gwendolyn looked at the man she thought she knew and just by the expression in his pale blue eyes she knew he was guilty. "Why, Father? Why would you do something so despicable to me? I am your only child, and you would see me wed to a stranger?"
"You have found fault with each and every man who has paid you court in the last four years, Gwen. And, frankly, there has not been an offer of marriage since you threw a tantrum at the Parkinson's party nearly one year ago. Your temper gives most men pause."
"And so you would wed me to this stranger? And what will happen when he learns he has made a poor bargain?" she demanded sarcastically, deeply hurt by her parent's words and trying to hide the fact.
"What will happen, my dear Miss Marx, is that you will be soundly spanked, and you will learn to control your temper and your sharp tongue."
"Why are you doing this? Why must this wedding take place today?"
"I need a wife immediately. You are available; you are beautiful; you have spirit; I will not be bored. Your father wishes to see you married to a man who can and will support you, and most importantly, deal with your temper and teach you to behave with decorum."
"You are insufferable!"
"And you are going to calm down and do as you are told," he said softly. "Pack your belongings and choose a dress to be wed in. You shall be sent a tray of refreshment in due time, but when the Minister arrives at two o'clock, I shall expect you to present yourself in the parlor, dressed properly, and ready to speak your vows."
"And if I do not agree to this?" she dared to ask.
He smiled and replied, "Then I shall come upstairs and fetch you and carry you down here over my shoulder, applying my hand to your posterior all of the way. You will then be given a chance to speak your vows without incident. If you remain stubborn, I shall ask your father for the loan of a riding crop, and I will bend you over the sofa and thrash you until you beg to speak your vows." He watched her eyes narrow angrily and then added, "I am a man of my word, Miss Marx. You may either marry me with your dignity intact, or you may marry me with welts across your bottom and your face streaked with tears. I would advise you to consider your decision carefully."
"I hate and despise you, Mr. Cline!"
"As you wish," he said with a smile, and then chuckled as she flounced out of the room, slamming the door behind her hard enough to make the windows rattle!
"Are you sure you wish to go through with this wedding, Mr. Cline?" Nathaniel Marx asked, his pale blue eyes full of worry.
"Even more sure than when we talked yesterday, sir. Your daughter is full of spirit and in need of taming, but nothing I cannot handle. In a few weeks' time she will act as a well-bred young woman should." At least in public, he told himself with a smile.
To Gwendolyn's shock, her maid was already in her room, packing her belongings into a trunk, and a lovely gown, one she had never seen before, was set aside. It was the sort of dress a woman would choose to wear to her wedding! She suddenly realized that her father must have known of this situation for several days at least! She was hurt, but most of all, she felt betrayed. She was not about to marry a man she did not know, and especially one who treated her as if she were a naughty little girl. "You may leave my room, Margaret."
"But, Miss! The master has told me I am to pack all of your belongings and be done with it before noon!" Her face turned red as she added, "He made it clear that I am to do as he says and not obey any requests of yours, unless it is to help you dress or fix your hair for your wedding ceremony this afternoon. I cannot afford to lose my job, Miss!" She pleaded with Gwendolyn for understanding.
Gwen wanted to rage, but getting Margaret fired would mean that she and her two children would have no way of getting by. Margaret lost her husband two years earlier, and the only work she qualified for was service. A bad reference from her parent and Margaret would have no means of support. In spite of what her father obviously thought of her, Gwen was not cruel or without reason. She merely nodded at Margaret, and then left the room. She went down the back stairway, the one that led to the kitchen, and grabbed a cloak from a hook on the back porch. A few seconds later she was out the door and walking briskly away from the house. She was not going to permit herself to be wed to Ramsey Cline against her will.
Margaret finished her packing by noon, just as she was told to do, and she went to report to Mr. Marx as she was instructed. She knocked politely on the door to his office, and waited until he bade her enter to open the door and step inside and curtsey.
"Yes, Margaret?" Nathaniel said with a smile.
"Sir, I am finished with the packing of Miss Gwendolyn's belongings."
"Very well done. Has my daughter calmed down?" he asked hopefully.
"I do not know, sir. She left the room after I told her I was following your orders."
"Where did she go?" Nathaniel asked, looking at Ramsey in distress.
"She did not speak to me, sir. I did not think to question her." Margaret's cheeks turned pink. "I am sorry, sir."
"There is no need to apologize, Margaret. You have done nothing wrong. Go and see if Cook has seen my daughter, please."
"Yes, sir." Margaret practically ran from the room, and returned quickly. "Cook has not set eyes on Miss Gwendolyn, but she was at the market and not in the kitchen for over an hour this morning."
"And Miss Marx is not sitting in the parlor?" Ramsey thought to ask.
"No, sir. Cook, Kathleen, and myself have looked the house over for Miss Gwendolyn. Her garden cloak off the peg on the back porch is missing; I think she left when she learned you gave me orders to pack her belongings. She was upset," she confided.
"Thank you, Margaret. You may leave now."
Ramsey waited until the servant left the room to turn to Nathaniel and ask, "Do you have any idea where Gwendolyn would go to hide, Mr. Marx?"
The frustrated man thought for a few minutes, and then took a piece of paper and dipped his pen in ink and made a list. There were only three names on the list. "She will be at one of these three places, Mr. Cline." He got to his feet. "We shall take my carriage. If you go alone it is hard to predict what Gwen will say in order to get her way."
The first two places they stopped were the ones closest to the Marx home, and were cousins of Gwendolyn's, who assured their Uncle Nate that they had not seen Gwendolyn that day. Ramsey was positive that neither of the two young women was lying to cover up for her cousin.
"This last stop will not be so easy I fear," Nathaniel said, his face red. "Miss Abernathy will not hesitate to lie in order to protect Gwen."
"It sounds as though this Miss Abernathy is in need of a good spanking, too," Ramsey commented, and looked at Nathaniel when he chuckled.
"Now, that is something I would pay to see, young man."