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Publisher's Note: This title is also contained in the "Naughty List" box-set collection.
Jack could not sink lower than working as a rent-a-cop at the department store during Christmas, but with the injury to his leg during his tour to Iraq, his preferred careers are closed to him. The only bright spot of the job is watching Melinda, the vivacious brunette behind the cosmetics counter. When she takes off after a shoplifter, needlessly endangering herself, he threatens a spanking and to his surprise, finds she is amenable to his punishment.
Enamored with the dominant but wounded warrior who comes to her rescue, Melinda lets Jack take her in hand, but finds herself repeatedly shut out emotionally. Not understanding it results from self-loathing over his injury rather than a lack of interest, she writes him off. But when real danger threatens, Jack steps in again.
Can he reveal his true feelings this time? And if so, will her submission to his discipline help him feel like a man again?
Mall security detail at Macy’s during Christmas time had to be the worst gig he’d had since he worked in a toy store over a high school Christmas break. That nightmare had been six weeks of telling every parent, “No, I’m sorry; we’re out of the foam bow and arrow set” and endless replacement of toys on their pegs as children came through and tugged everything off.
This job was almost as bad. Malls topped his list of least favorite places in the world, and considering some of the places he’d spent time during his eight years with the Army, including three tours to Iraq, that was saying something.
The only redeeming quality to this job was the girl behind the cosmetics counter. A tiny brunette with full, kissable lips, which she frequently re-glossed while stealing glances at him, she fairly lit the place up with personality. Warm and vivacious, he watched her rack up more sales than all her counterparts put together. She was clearly the type who could take a customer by the nose and lead them to buy anything she wanted.
She rang up a bag of purchases for a soccer mom who had come for a gift for her mother and ended up sitting in the cosmetologist’s chair for a complete makeover. Transformed now, not just by the artistry of the makeup, but by the infusion of hope or joy or whatever it was the girl delivered along with her products, the shopper glowed.
Pathetic though it was, he had not yet figured out a way to talk to her. Three weeks of purposely positioning himself near her station had not given him the courage to approach, much less any clever ideas of what to say. It was not like he could feign interest in anything she sold over there. And his boss would get pissed if he looked like he was fraternizing, instead of keeping his eyes peeled.
She looked over and met his eye, giving a little smile and wave. Oh God, she was adorable. He smiled back and winked, but just then his earpiece buzzed. “Jack, I’m going to take a quick break; can you keep an eye on my section for the next fifteen?”
“Sure thing,” he spoke into the receiver attached to the collar of his sweater. Strolling away, he scanned the busy department store, looking for suspicious activity. He had already picked up four shoplifters that week alone, which seemed to impress his new boss. Not that he cared. This was not a permanent career choice.
Of course he had not figured out what career to pursue at this point. Shot in the lower leg in Iraq two years ago, he’d almost lost the limb to infection. Eighteen surgeries later, he walked with a limp and had been released from active duty and put on disability. As a member of the military police, he had always planned to enter law enforcement, but his leg now impeded that move. Apparently it didn’t stop him from being a rent-a-cop, though.
Keeping one eye on the shifty-looking teenager in the clothing section, he turned and stole a glance back at his makeup girl. She smiled at a new customer, handing him a bottle of expensive perfume. In a swift, startling moment, the man snatched it from her hand and ran.
Jack radioed for backup as he took off, his stupid leg gimping so he had to add a hop now and then to keep his pace. He dodged several old ladies and a mother with a gaggle of children and a stroller. Losing sight of his target, he circled around to where Macy’s opened to the mall, guessing the thief would try to get away in that direction.
His heart leaped to his throat. There, in the entryway to the mall, his cosmetics girl wrestled with the perp, fighting to get the perfume back. The thief shook her off, running at top speed for the escalator, the girl still giving chase.
Damn her! Was she crazy? And damn his stupid frozen ankle, because there was no way he could catch them with his skip-run. A wave of self-loathing washed over him, but he pushed it back. The girl was in danger; he had to figure out how to get to them. Jumping on to the arm of the escalator, he skied down it, past the staring onlookers, leaping off ten paces behind his quarry.
Unfortunately, his girl was only two paces behind, and she caught the thief again, throwing her arms around his waist so he had to drag her like dead weight. Jack was upon them in a matter of seconds, hauling the thief away from the girl, twisting his arm behind his back and snatching the perfume out of his hand.
“Perpetrator apprehended, send the police to the 1st floor of the mall, right outside the food court,” he spoke into the receiver. The guy was small, but wiry, resisting his hold, still trying to get away. He gave him a shake. “Be still.”
Turning to the girl, he asked, “Are you all right?”
When she nodded, he couldn’t help but exclaim, “What were you thinking? You could have been hurt! You don’t run after them, you call for security! You call for me.”
She looked shocked at his reprimand, her mouth opening and closing once before she spoke. “You were too far away,” she protested. Her long, sleek layered hair was disheveled, her chest heaved for breath.
With a spike of fear, he spied blood oozing from the corner of her mouth. He wiped it with his thumb. “What happened? Did he hit you?” He twisted his captive’s arm harder, speaking through clenched teeth. “Did you hit her?”
The thief howled in protest.
She grabbed his arm, sending a shock of pleasure coursing through him. “Easy, big guy.” He held still, not wanting her to let go of his arm, though he should direct her to step back for safety. No, he wanted her close�much closer.
“It was an accident. His elbow, not his fist,” Melinda said. Though she was angry with the thief, she had a feeling her burly rescuer could do some serious damage if provoked.
“You’d better pray it was an accident,” he hissed at the thief, easing back on the expert twist he used to contain the man. She marveled at the confident way he handled him�there was aggression, but his movements were fluid and practiced. He needed only one hand to contain the man, as proven when his other arm, the one she tugged, looped behind the small of her back and pulled her in protectively. “Are you sure you’re all right?”
She melted. For three weeks, her wounded warrior had been smiling and winking but had never approached her; now she was standing in his arms. Well, arm to be technical. The other arm was occupied with a struggling thief, whom her hero ignored.
“You should not have risked yourself. What do you care if Macy’s loses a bottle of perfume?”
She shrugged, feeling her cheeks grow warm. “I don’t know, I guess I took it personally.”
“Bad idea jeans.”
She giggled at the old Saturday Night Live skit reference.
“You deserve a long, hard spanking, young lady.”
Her breath caught in her throat. Though she knew he teased, the idea of such a punishment at his hands sent a rush of heat to her center core. She found herself leaning into him, one hand coming up to rest on his muscled chest. “Do you ... do that?” she asked breathlessly.
His lips twitched as if resisting a smile. He lifted an eyebrow. “Oh yeah.”
“This is disgusting,” the thief muttered, breaking the bubble that had just contained the two of them. The noises of the mall rushed in, complete with the stares of passers-by. She pulled away, flustered.
The police arrived, taking custody and handcuffing the thief.
“Jack Tressart, Macy’s security,” her hero said. She could hear years of military debriefs in his tone. The police responded to it immediately, ignoring her and taking notes as he reported.
“I wonder if I should get back?” she murmured, shifting on her feet.
He grasped her hand and squeezed it, causing her heart to thump faster. “Stay with me; you’ll have to give your statement. And then I’ll have to take it again for the department store when we get back,” he said, adding a wink that made her belly flip. Was taking her statement code for spanking? Or had it been all talk?
He hadn’t let go of her hand, and though it was inappropriate, considering they’d never even been formally introduced�for all he knew she could be married with three kids�she loved it. It had a protective, rather than possessive feel. As if he were reassuring her he would handle everything. And indeed, he did.
When she gave her name to the police, he repeated it softly to himself, as if it were a piece of information he’d been seeking. She wondered again why he had never come over to introduce himself, because she could not be wrong about the vibe he was giving now.
When they finished, he led her to the food court, rather than back to Macy’s. “Where are we going?”
“I’m going to get some ice for your lip,” he explained, peering at her face with a concern that turned her to jelly. “Do you need anything else? A drink? A cookie?”
“A coffee might be nice.” She looked over her shoulder. “Do you think I’ll get in trouble? For being gone?”
“Oh, I think you’re in trouble,” he said with mock sternness, making her giggle, “but not for being gone. I’ll take care of it.”
Her heart did a double beat in her chest. Was he actually going to spank her?
He bought her a latte and wrapped some ice in a napkin, instructing her to hold it on her lip. When they arrived back at the store, he brought her by her counter, speaking before she could answer the flurry of questions coming at her. “Melinda caught the thief, but was injured in the process. I am going to take her down to the security office to administer first aid and get her full report.”
Her supervisor nodded. No one could possibly question Jack Tressart’s authoritative dictum. He made the same report over his receiver to his supervisor and escorted her down the escalator into the back rooms.
Nervous giggles bubbled up in her throat, and she began to hope he wasn’t thinking about spanking her. As titillating as the idea had been when standing out in the middle of the mall, heading into a room alone with him�it terrified her. She didn’t even know this guy. She was not willing to embarrass herself in front of him this way. Besides�they were at work, for God’s sake!
“You’re getting nervous, aren’t you?” he said as he opened the door to the security office and led her in.
She exhaled, relieved he acknowledged it. “Yes.”
“You’re safe with me. But if you want me to let you off the hook, I will.”
She turned and faced him, their bodies close in the small office, her breath short. His offer relaxed her, taking the fear away and leaving only the thrill of possibility.
She met his green eyes, considering her situation. She was alone in the office with Jack Tressart, the silent security guard every female employee gushed over, about to be spanked. No, there was no way she would cry uncle.
“Spank me, Tressart.”
Jack sucked his breath in, his cock growing hard. He had never spanked a girl in his life, had never even suggested it, before it popped out of his mouth that afternoon, but he hadn’t missed Melinda’s reaction. She’d been turned on by the idea. Now if only he could figure out how to deliver on his promise in a way that fulfilled her expectation.
He picked her up by the waist and carried her two steps forward to sit on the desk, hating the hobble in his step. “Let me inspect you first,” he said, turning her chin to the side to examine the raspberry blooming on the corner of her mouth. “You should have let me kill him for you,” he glowered.
She giggled. “I was afraid you actually would.” She reached out and touched his cheek, a startling intimacy that made him freeze for a moment. “You were very impressive.”
Funny, how just those few simple words from a beautiful girl could erase two years of demoralization. All the impotence he’d felt, all the shame, the sense of being less than a man since his disfigurement vanished in the admiring gaze of Melinda Cook. He swallowed.
Sliding his hands behind her butt, he leaned forward, murmuring in her ear as he pulled her off the desk. “Time to pay the piper.”
He sensed her holding her breath as he slowly turned her around. Should he pull down her pants? Did she want him to? Was that too forward? He had no idea what the rules were to this game.
She seemed like a nice girl, who might be scared if he took things too far. He left her pants intact, pushing her torso down on the desk. He’d locked the door when they entered, but he shot a glance over his shoulder to double-check.
Drawing his hand back, he landed a slap on one cheek. It felt wimpy even to his own hand. Okay, he could smack about twice as hard. He tried the other side. That was better. She was so petite, his hand could catch both cheeks if he aimed right in the middle, and he noticed when he struck low, directly over her pussy, she gasped and arched back at him. He picked up his speed, spanking the sweet spot over and over again until she began to squirm and dance away from him. Not wanting to go too far, he stopped and pulled her to face him, wrapping his arms around her.
She panted, her face flushed, eyes wild. He realized he should not have stopped. He brought his hands around to the front of her pants and began to unbutton them, holding her eyes. He saw fear creep in, but projected reassurance, moving slowly enough for her to stop him if she wanted. When the pants were unbuttoned and unzipped, he turned her back around, lowering them. He drew in his breath at the sight. Blue lace over the cutest little bottom he’d ever seen. He paused. Did he lower her panties, too? Deciding it was too much, too fast, he slid a finger under the outer edge of one side of the panties and tugged it toward the middle, slipping the bulk of it into her cleft. She drew in her breath, but did not protest. He repeated the action on the other side, baring her cheeks for spanking, but leaving her most private parts covered.
One of her knees buckled under her and he realized she was trembling. He wondered whether it was fear or desire. Perhaps a bit of both.
He brought his hand down on her bare cheek. It made a slap so loud he looked over his shoulder again, praying no one would come down the hallway and hear. His palm made a red mark on her skin, which he rubbed.
“Mmm,” she murmured.
He took that as encouragement, repeating his action on the other side, slapping and rubbing. He alternated sides for a while, aiming for the bare skin, then remembered his success with spanking the part of her bottom over her pussy. The panties were bunched there, though. Grabbing hold of the wad of lacy fabric, he pulled it taut, lifting up and eliciting a squeak from Melinda. When he spanked his intended target, the whimper she offered sounded wanton. He kept at it, alternately tugging and loosening his grip on the panties, using the fabric to stimulate her sex while continuously spanking her wriggling little bottom.
“Oh God,” she moaned.
“Naughty girl,” he admonished, steadily working her. “Naughty girls get spanked.”
“No ... yes ... oh!” Her voice had taken on a fever pitch.
His cock pressed painfully against his pants but he had no thought of relief for himself, only a driving desire to see his adorable cosmetics girl get off.
“Harder ... more!” she gasped.
Oh Jesus. He whaled on her, simultaneously thrilled and concerned he might leave marks, the power of punishing a strange drug that sent him soaring.
She gave a strangled cry and squeezed her cheeks and knees together, shudders running through her as she bucked her hips. He spanked her through the climax, then stopped, stroking her heated flesh as they both caught their breath.
The sound of voices in the hall made them both snap to attention, Melinda yanking her pants up and buttoning them as he moved away from her to unlock the door. His boss opened the door just a moment later and poked his head in.
“How is she?”
He stole a glance at Melinda, who covered her face with her hands as if it had been quite traumatic.
“She’ll have a bruise but I think she’ll be all right.”
“You have her report?”
“I do,” he lied. “I’ll just finish things up right now.”
“I should get back to my station,” she said without looking at either of them. “Thanks for your, um, help.”
“My pleasure, Melinda,” he said, pressing his lips together to keep from smiling.
Her butt tingled and her pussy still pulsed as she walked back to her station.
“What happened?” Her co-worker Natalie asked. “Are you okay?”
She felt her cheeks grow warm.
“Well, that was one way to get him to talk to you,” she teased. “Did he ask you out?”
She frowned. “Well, no, but he didn’t really have a chance.”
Natalie’s brow wrinkled. “Weren’t you just with him for forty-five minutes?”
Her cheeks grew warm again. “Well, it was all business.”
Natalie looked disappointed. “Really? Well, what was he like?”
A slow smile spread across her face. “He’s ... unique.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
She giggled. “I don’t know�he's a tough guy, you know? I thought he was going to kill the shoplifter when he saw my bloody lip.”
“Yeah. Old-fashioned, I guess. But I liked it.” Liked it was an understatement. “He’s the kind of guy I didn’t think existed anymore.”
“So ask him out.”
“What? Me?” she spluttered. “No way. He’s the type who asks the girl out.”
A customer walked up and she left Natalie to help her, thinking all the while about Jack. She wished Natalie hadn’t inquired about him asking her out, because now it was all she could think of. When she’d walked away, she had assumed he would be asking her out, but now doubt crept in. What if it had been a “one-off” for him? Maybe he just randomly spanked girls in his office. What if it meant nothing at all?
When he strolled past her counter, she found she couldn’t meet his eye, suddenly embarrassed she had assumed they were an item when he had not even mentioned a date. Every time he patrolled her area that afternoon, she became very engaged with whatever she was doing�helping customers, rearranging products, wiping down the glass showcase. In fact, the more she couldn’t look at him, the more she dreaded his presence.
Had she screwed up her chances of dating him? Was he the type who called women “sluts” for enjoying themselves sexually, reserving his dates for the “good girls?” She scowled. It wasn’t even like she’d had sex with him. Except it felt like she had. It felt like she’d had more than sex with him. It felt like she’d given her soul to him, and now he hadn’t even asked her for a date.
A half hour before her shift ended, she begged off early, saying her lip hurt and she was exhausted by the day’s events, and slipped out before she had to see Jack again.
By the next day, she was furious with him. No, mostly she was furious with herself for falling for Jack. She hardly knew the guy. She had made up a huge fantasy in her head over the past three weeks based on the few facts she knew about him: he was a wounded veteran, he was handsome as hell and he was good at his job. In her mind, he had morphed into the boyfriend of her dreams and when he’d revealed he spanked, it had just added to her attraction.
But no, if Jack Tressart had been looking for a girlfriend, he would have approached her weeks ago. It wasn’t like her smiles and waves hadn’t been obvious invitations. Oh God, she’d been such a little fool!
When he showed up for his shift, she gave him a direct glare. His eyebrows shot up but she looked away before any communication could pass between them. She had nothing to say to him, really.
“Melinda.” His voice was low and commanding.
She froze where she had stooped to organize products behind the counter. She took her time standing up and turning around. “Yes?” she said in a very formal “I-can’t-imagine-why-you’d-be-talking-to-me” voice.
“What time is your lunch break?”
“I want to talk to you.”
A wall of tangled emotion pushed on her and she couldn’t speak. She wanted to tell him to take a hike. She wanted to throw herself in his arms. She wanted to crawl under the counter and hide.
“I’ll see if I can get off then, too. I’ll come for you,” he said and walked away without waiting for an answer.
Natalie giggled, grasping her shoulders to shake her with a dramatic look. “Hear this now: I will always come for you,” she quoted.
“What’s that from?”
“Princess Bride.” She looked after Jack. He is sexy, isn’t he?”
She sighed. “Yes. Way too sexy.”
Two-thirty arrived and she’d seen no sign of Jack for some time. “I’m going to lunch,” she told Natalie.
“What about Jack?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know if he’s coming. If he does, tell him I’m in the food court.” Make him work a little bit.
She ordered a sandwich wrap and sat down to eat it, gobbling most of it down in about five minutes flat. Seeing Jack enter the area, she got nervous and stood up to go to the bathroom. When she walked out, he was leaning against the wall outside, his arms folded across his huge chest, his face stony. Oops. Maybe she shouldn’t have made him work little.
He lifted his chin toward the “nursing lounge” a small room with a single rocking chair and a door for privacy.
Oh God. Her belly fluttered at the idea of being in a closed room with him again. But no, she was going to give him a piece of her mind. She marched in the room and flipped on the light. He closed the door behind them.
“Listen, I don’t know where you get off, but I don’t just do that sort of thing with every guy who comes by. I have been waiting for you to ask me out for three weeks now and I thought for sure you would yesterday and�”
She was acting like an idiot. Completely embarrassing herself. Cutting the conversation short, she marched over to him, delivered a hard kick on his shin and turned on her heel.