Travis Tranell’s hard work as a salesman has finally paid off. He’s been promoted to Vice- President of Henderson Manufacturing. He quickly discovers, though, that as much as he knows about sales, his knowledge of other parts of the business is sorely lacking. He signs up for a business management class at the local college he graduated from eight years earlier, hoping to get the additional knowledge he needs.
His first class is interrupted when a lady comes in late, making way more noise than she should. As class goes on, he realizes that Tara Benion, the disruptive young woman, is everything he dislikes. When the professor pairs the two of them together on a project, Travis wants to object –until he talks to him. His mentor from grad school explains why he purposely paired them together.
It then becomes a challenge, which is something Travis has never shied away from.As they work together, he learns a great deal, but not from the project they’re working on. Tara is shocked to realize she’s learning a great deal as well, but not from anything they’ve covered in class. She quickly discovers that Travis is not only the quintessential gentleman, he has some very old-fashioned beliefs. He never hesitates to put her over his knee if he finds it necessary to get her attention by driving the much needed lesson into her backside.
Now the only question remaining is: can they put what they’ve learned to good use?
DISCLAIMER: This book contains the spanking of adult women. If this offends you in any way, please do not purchase.
Travis Tranell was looking around the classroom he’d thought he’d left behind years ago. When he got his Master’s degree eight years ago, he’d bid good riddance to classrooms. Now here he was again, at the same university, taking another class.
This time was different, though. When he’d graduated with his degree in sales, he was anxious to get out there and prove that he could sell ice to Eskimos. He’d done that. In fact, he’d done it so well that he’d recently been promoted to vice-president in charge of sales. His initial reaction was, bring it on. He could handle this.
However, after his first couple weeks on the job he realized that although he knew his way around sales, that was no longer his only duty. Sure, he was in charge of the entire sales department, which he felt comfortable with, but as a VP, he now had to be concerned with many other aspects of the business as well. He had to know how to not only read financial reports, but read between the lines to see what they were really saying. He also had to know how the sales department fit in with the rest of the company, which was proving to be a challenge to him. For years he thought the company hinged on the sales department. Without a good sales department, the company wouldn’t prosper. Therefore, the sales department was the most crucial part of the company.
It didn’t take long for him to realize that the other two vice-presidents weren’t exactly looking at the sales department in the same light. The man in charge of production had a point when he argued if they couldn’t manufacture what the sales department sold, the business wouldn’t prosper. The man in charge of purchasing enthusiastically pointed out that if they couldn’t purchase the correct raw materials for the right prices, it wouldn’t matter how much the manufacturing team could manufacture, the sales team wouldn’t be able to compete with other companies’ prices and sell it for a profit.
Travis decided a class or two in business management would be beneficial, so here he was. Hopefully, this would help him see the whole picture, all the parts and how they work together.
He glanced at his watch, again. Three minutes yet. During his eight years of climbing the ladder in the sales department, the first thing he’d learned was the importance of punctuality. If he were going to sell his product to another company, it was important that he get to that company early enough to get settled in, maybe have a cup of coffee, so that when the man he was to see was ready, so was he. He needed to be relaxed and ready to talk to him, and organized.
It had become important to Travis to be on time and prepared, no matter what you’re doing. He’d been the first one to class this evening, which surprised the professor, who was also there. He’d walked toward Travis when he arrived at the classroom, his arm outstretched. “Travis, good to see you. I was a bit surprised to see your name on my class roster.”
“Good evening, Professor Hunter, good to see you as well,” he answered with a hearty handshake for his old professor. “I’m a bit surprised to see myself back in a classroom, as well,” he admitted.
“The last I heard you were unstoppable in the sales department here at Henderson’s.”
Travis smiled as he nodded. “Things have gone well for me there. So well, in fact, I’ve recently been promoted to VP in charge of sales.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Professor Hunter studied Travis for several moments. “If you’re a VP already, it’s obvious you’ve mastered sales, which is no surprise to me at all. My guess is you’re here now, in a management class, to conquer the other aspects of being in a management position?”
“You’ve got it.”
“Wise decision, Travis.” Other students started coming into the classroom and Professor Hunter mingled a bit with them.
Travis was thinking back over that conversation he’d had with Professor Hunter, when the professor got everyone’s attention and started class. He gave a brief overview of the class and passed out his syllabus. He had started pointing out things to pay particular attention to in the first couple chapters, when the door opened and a young lady casually walked in. She sighed, looked around the room, and walked toward the front of the class, heels clicking loudly on the floor with each step.
Travis looked toward her with a frown. She was obviously not concerned about interrupting class, or she would have sat in the back row, or at the least she could have walked without making so much noise. As he turned back around, trying to ignore her, he heard her steps getting closer, until she dropped her things onto the table next to him. Mr. Hunter stopped talking and everyone turned to look at her as she loudly pulled her chair out and sat down.
Mr. Hunter waited until she had screeched her chair back up to the table, his arms crossed over his chest. “Ms. Benion, if you’re comfortable now, we’ll continue.”
She nodded, with a wave of her hand. “Sure, go ahead.”
Travis was stunned. What a little madam! He turned to focus on Mr. Hunter again, but she grabbed his attention again with a rather loud whisper, “So, what are we doing?”
Not wanting to encourage her any, or interrupt the class any further, he took her book and opened it, pointing to the section being discussed. He found it difficult to concentrate on what the prof was saying because of how annoying the lady was who now occupied the seat next to him. Eventually he was able to put her out of his mind and made it through the rest of the class.
The second class, though, was almost a rerun of the first week. The main difference in Travis’ mind was that he made sure there wasn’t an open spot beside him this week. At least the annoying little thing wouldn’t be asking him questions all during class this week.
Toward the end of the second class Mr. Hunter announced he had assigned teams of two people each to work together on a project. He posted the teams on the bulletin board and suggested everyone use the rest of the class time to find their partner and get started on their project. Travis was more than a bit dismayed when he saw that his partner was none other than Tara Benion, the little madam. He looked over at Mr. Hunter, and was a bit taken back to see the professor looking straight at him. The look on his face told Travis he had intentionally paired them together. He had a lot of respect for his old professor, but what was he thinking, making him work with her?
He’d talk to him later and ask, but for right now, he sighed and turned to go find the annoying little thing. Before he could turn completely, she was at his side. “Mr. Tranell, apparently we’re going to be working together.”
“Apparently,” he mimicked, less than enthusiastically. He led her over to a section of the room that was vacant so they could talk. They discussed the project a bit, and Travis was shocked. He had to admit, albeit grudgingly, she was very intelligent and had some good ideas. Maybe this wouldn’t be quite as bad as he thought.
Deciding he may as well make the most of what he’d been given, he forged ahead. “Do you want to get together some evening next week and work on this?”
“That’s probably a good idea. When were you thinking of?”
He asked where she lived, and then made a suggestion. “How about after work? I can pick up a pizza on my way to your place and be there at 6:00. We can eat while we work.”
“That sounds like a plan. 6:00 is good. Monday?”
“Monday it is. What do you like on your pizza?” They were the last two left in the classroom, so after he got her pizza order, as well as her address and phone number, he made sure she had his number in case something came up and she had to postpone it, and she left.
Mr. Hunter was smiling as he watched Travis slowly gather his things together, giving Tara plenty of time to leave. When he saw her outside, heading for her car, he turned to Travis. “You wouldn’t be wanting to talk to me about your partner, would you?”
“I would at that, Mr. Hunter. I know you had a reason for pairing us, and I’m anxious to hear what that was.”
He was smiling as he addressed Travis’ question. “First off, let me say I’m glad you didn’t ask me to switch your partner.”
With a bit of a smile of his own, Travis shook his head. “No, I assumed you had a good reason for making me work with her. I have to admit, though, I’m more than a bit curious as to what it could possibly be.”
“Travis, I’m hoping you learn a very important lesson from this assignment. As a VP you’re over a lot of people. You not only need to be able to work with them, all of them, but you need to bring out the best in them. Now, I know Tara can be a bit trying at times. But I also know she’s very smart and very capable if she applies herself. Therein lies the problem. She seldom applies herself. A good manager will find a way to manage an employee who has something to offer.”
Travis was staring at Mr. Hunter, speechless, as he continued. “As quickly as you mastered sales, I have no doubt you’ll excel at managing, as well. This will give you a good start. Good luck, Travis.”
Travis saw the little smile on his old professor’s face as he left. He packed his things into his briefcase and picked it up. He looked at Tara’s phone number, sighed as he programmed it into his phone, and mumbled, “Well, damn,” as he left, as well.
As much as Travis hated it, he found himself thinking of Tara several times over the weekend. He kept thinking about Professor Hunter’s words. The professor had issued him a challenge, knowing he’d meet that challenge head on. Tara really did have some good ideas, so he believed she was very capable, as the professor had said. Now he had to figure out a way to get her to apply herself before he tore his hair out.
Monday afternoon Travis got a phone call, which he answered without checking caller ID. He wasn’t expecting to hear an unfamiliar female voice, and it startled him. “Hello, Travis?”
“This is Tara.”
“Hi, Tara. Do you have a problem with tonight?”
“Not exactly,” she said hesitantly, “but could we meet at your place instead of mine?”
“I can go there right after work. I think it would be quicker.”
After a long pause she said, “Travis? Are you there?”
“Yes, I’m here, Tara, but you need to know something if we’re going to work together.”
“I don’t lie, and I don’t allow other people to lie to me.”
“Okay. Why are you—”
“So let’s try that answer again. Why do you want to meet at my house instead of yours?”
“I said I can get to your house quicker.”
“I heard what you said. Did you hear what I said?”
“Yeah, but what—”
“Where is my house, Tara?”
“So why do you really want to meet at my house instead of yours?” After a rather long silence, Travis asked, “Tara?”
“Okay, okay. I was busy this weekend and my house is a mess.”
“Why didn’t you just say so? Yes, we can meet at my house tonight. It’s at 1242 East Maple Street. Do you know where Maple Street is?”
“Yeah, no problem.”
“Okay, good. I’ll get the pizza and be home by 6:00. Is that too early?”
“No, that’s good.”
“Good. I want to get a lot done tonight on this project.”
“See you at 6:00, Tara.” As he hung up, he was shaking his head.
He got home, pizza in hand, at 5:50. Since Tara wasn’t there waiting on him, he changed into blue jeans and put out plates and glasses. She still wasn’t there at 6:10, or 6:15. He called her at 6:20. When she answered, he got right to the point. “Tara, where are you? Is something wrong?”
“Wrong? No, of course not. Why?”
“You said you’d be here at 6:00 and it’s now 6:20.”
After a moment of silence while he counted to ten, he asked, “So are you coming over tonight?”
“Of course I am. I said I would, didn’t I?”
“Yes, at 6:00.”
“Hang on, I’m about there.” The line went dead before he could say anything else, which he thought may have been for the best.
With some work on his part he was considerably calmer when she got there. He met her at the door and invited her in. She looked around and smiled. “This is nice. I like it.”
Travis’ eyebrows raised. How could this little lady act so sweet one minute, and like an uncaring shrew the next? Deciding they’d get more work done if he was working with the sweet lady, he answered accordingly. “Thank you. It needed a lot of work when I got it, but it’s finally coming around.”
“You’ve done a wonderful job. It looks great.” He could tell by the way her eyes were taking it all in that she meant those words, and for some reason he couldn’t explain, he was really glad she liked it.
He helped her take her coat off and hung it in the closet. “Hungry? I have the pizza ready if you want to eat before we get started.”
“That sounds wonderful, actually. I didn’t eat lunch today and I’m starving.”
With a hand on her lower back he led her toward the kitchen. “Then by all means, let’s eat. Why didn’t you eat lunch? Busy at the office?”
“No, not really. I was a little late getting to work today and my boss was upset, so I offered to work through lunch to make up for it. That always smooths things over with him.” She picked up a piece of pizza and put it on a plate. “This looks and smells fantastic. Where’d you get it?”
“Luego’s. Not everyone agrees, but I think they have the best pizza in town.”
“I’ve never had theirs, but it looks and smells great.”
“Soda, beer, or wine?”
“Do you have diet soda?”
“Don’t be. I hate it. If you have any Pepsi or Coke, I’d love some.”
“One Coke coming up.” He had to smile at her. She knew what she liked in this world, and wasn’t afraid to speak up.
“Thank you. Don’t let me leave tonight without paying you for the pizza.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
She looked a bit offended. “Hey, I pay my way. I don’t need handouts.”
“I never suggested you did,” he answered calmly. “Now eat your pizza. We’ve got work to do.”
“My, you’re a bossy thing, aren’t you?”
“Sorry,” he said, remembering Mr. Hunter’s words about needing to work with all people. “I guess I do tend to be a bit like that occasionally.”
“You a boss at work?”
“Yes. How’d you guess?” he asked a bit sheepishly.
She laughed at his words, and Travis thought she’d changed into a completely different person. Or maybe he was just really looking at her for the first time. What he saw when he looked at her now was a very pretty young lady with strawberry blonde hair and big blue eyes that looked like two reflective pools. She was petite, at just a couple inches over five feet, and much to his delight, she wasn’t a skinny bean pole like so many women today thought they had to be. She wasn’t at all heavy, either, though. She had the wonderful, womanly curves that Travis thought made a woman sexy.
But what he was noticing right now is that when she smiled like that she looked so friendly and warm, almost like she was inviting you to come into her life and be friends with her. At that moment, when she looked at him and their eyes met, Travis had this feeling that that’s exactly what she was thinking. She looked like she needed a friend. And at that particular moment, for some reason he couldn’t explain in the least, he wanted to be that friend.
His phone rang just then, interrupting their special moment, but he was sure they’d both felt something. Looking down at his phone, he said, “Excuse me a moment.”
He walked away as he answered, seeing it was from someone at work. After a couple minutes, during which he solved the man’s problem, he returned to Tara. “I’m sorry, Tara.” He looked over and was rather surprised to see she hadn’t eaten any pizza yet, but was waiting for him. He quickly put two pieces on his plate. “Let me know what you think. I love their pizza, but that doesn’t mean everyone will.”
“It sure smells good.,” she reiterated.
“Go ahead and try it. You’ve got to be hungry after skipping lunch.” He took a bite, encouraging her to as well. Once she took a bite, he got two cans of Coke and glasses of ice for them. He was happy when they were able to talk easily while they ate, finding several things they had in common.
When they were both full, she gathered both plates and forks and glasses and took them to the sink. He raised his eyebrows, a bit surprised yet again, but followed along with the rest of the pizza. “Thank you. I’ll just stick them in the dishwasher, and we can get started on our project. I’ll leave the pizza here on the table, so if you get hungry, help yourself.”
“Okay, thanks.” He led her into his living room with his hand gently on her lower back again. He steered her toward the couch, where he sat down beside her once she was seated. He opened the file he had laying on the coffee table in front of them and took out two pads and pens, giving her one, and laying the typed instructions for the project in front of them. “You’ve got everything all ready,” she said as much to herself as to him. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” They spent the next hour deciding exactly what they were going to do and how.
They didn’t agree on everything, but were able to discuss their differences and eventually came up with an agreed final plan, and decided who would be doing what to accomplish the plan.
Travis made sure they both had their notes outlining their project and what each person would be working on. “Let’s both work on this the next couple days,” he suggested, “then meet before class Thursday and go over what we’ve gotten done and see how it’s fitting together.”
Tara paused a moment, seeming to consider his suggestion. She answered rather hesitantly. “Okay, that sounds good, as long as you don’t think—”
Travis waited several moments before encouraging her. “As long as I don’t think what, Tara?”
She looked down and answered quietly. “As long as you don’t think we’ll have it done by then and just need to assemble it, put them together.”
He patted her hand and assured her, “Of course it won’t be done. But that’s why I think we should look over what is done. We can make sure we’re both on the same page and headed in the same direction. I’d hate to get both parts totally done and then realize they look like two separate projects and not one large one.”
Tara thought a moment, and nodded her head. “Yeah, that makes sense.”
“Okay. How about if I pick you up Thursday and we’ll go get some dinner before class. We can go over what we have after dinner.”
“Is 5:30 too early?”
“No, that’s fine. We’ll need to start early in order to be to class on time.”
“Yes, we will.” He was surprised to hear her mention concern about being to class on time as she’d been late to both of the first two. “I’ll pick you up at 5:30 at your place then.”
“Okay, I’ll be ready.”
Travis saw her out to her car. “Would you please call me when you get home?”
“So I know you made it home safely.”
She looked at him, obviously surprised. “If I have any problems I’ll call you.”
“That’s fine, but I’d feel better if I knew you made it home safely.”
She shook her head a bit, but seeing he was serious, agreed. “Okay, if it means that much to you.”
“It does. Thank you, Tara. I’ll see you Thursday at 5:30.”
Her thoughts kept turning to Travis while she was driving home. The first night she’d met him he’d caught her eye. She sat beside him in class hoping to get to know him. She thought he was extremely good looking, but not in a tall, dark and handsome sort of way. He was quite a bit taller than her, but who wasn’t? He was probably about six feet tall, and had an athletic sort of build, which she liked.
But what drew her to him was the look of confidence he had. Now that she’d gotten to know him a bit, that air of confidence was even stronger, and more appealing. He wasn’t arrogant, just confident. And he was serious, yet had a wonderful sense of humor. His chestnut hair had just the right amount of curl to it, and she was sure he could look right into your soul with his gorgeous dark brown eyes. And like her, he was a few years older than most of the young kids in the class.
Thinking back on their evening, she realized he wasn’t like anyone she’d ever met. He seemed to genuinely care that she got home safely. And what was it with him opening doors for her all evening, and helping her into her car? It was something new to her, and she kinda liked it. But just as quickly, she pushed the thought aside. Don’t even think about it, she told herself over and over. It could never work, and she knew it.
Tuesday and Wednesday Travis worked diligently on their project after work. He did the research he needed, taking relevant notes. He was deeply surprised at his research. It showed the opposite of what he would have thought. That was going to put a bit of a different dynamic on their project, but to his way of thinking, it just added more interest to the project. He wondered if Tara’s research was as surprising, and how the two parts would fit together.
He was now anxious to meet with her Thursday. He assumed her research led her to the same conclusions, and welcomed a discussion as to how to proceed. He had been impressed with her intelligence, and was interested to hear her take on the subject. That thought caused him to pause. He had been dreading this project for several reasons, mainly the thought of working with the rude little redhead. But now the subject had gotten a lot more interesting, and Tara had proven to be quite capable if she chose to be. Best of all, she didn’t seem nearly as rude in a one-on-one situation.
He hurried home after work Thursday to shower and change, then quickly made it to Tara’s apartment complex. He rang her doorbell right at 5:30, but got no answer. He rang the bell again, and knocked as well, in case the doorbell didn’t work. When she still didn’t answer, he took out his phone and called.
She answered on the fourth ring. “Hi, Travis.”
“Tara, where are you?”
“I’m home waiting on you. You said you’d be here at 5:30. Are you about here?”
Travis’ teeth were clenched, and he took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. “Tara, no more lying. Where are you?”
“I’m home, waiting for you.”
“I’ve been knocking on your door for ten minutes now.”
“Oh.” After a rather long pause she said, “Sorry. I’m running just a bit late. I just got out of the shower. Give me a minute to get dressed and I’ll let you in.” Again, the line went dead before he could respond.
Travis took two more deep breaths in an attempt to calm himself. He very much disliked people being anything but totally honest, and that was the second time she’d lied to him. He had to have a talk with her about that if they were going to work together.
Just as quickly as that thought crossed his mind, though, Professor Hunter’s words came back to him as well. A manager has to know how to work with everyone, and find a way to get the best out of anyone who has something to offer. As much as he hated to admit it, Tara had already proven herself knowledgeable.
He sighed as he realized he needed to be careful here. If he upset her she certainly wouldn’t be motivated to put much effort into this project. After talking with Professor Hunter Travis had realized being paired with Tara was meant as a challenge to him, and Travis wasn’t in the habit of backing down from a challenge. Besides, although he hated to, he had to admit it would be a good learning experience.
As he thought this through he realized Tara still hadn’t answered her door. He reached up to knock on the door again, but pulled his hand back. Would pounding on her door help their working relationship? Just then the door opened and Tara waltzed out the door and past him, saying, “Hi, Travis. I’m ready now.”
Travis stood there with his mouth hanging open. She took the time to finish getting ready without inviting him into her apartment, and couldn’t even apologize? He took a couple deep breaths while he counted to ten, then turned and headed for his car. She was already sitting in the passenger’s seat, so he got in and started the car. He checked to be sure her seatbelt was fastened, and backed out onto the street.
After a couple minutes Tara hadn’t said a word, so Travis tried to salvage the evening, hoping they could get this project done sooner rather than later. The sooner he could move on, the better as far as he was concerned. “Is the Main Street Diner okay for dinner?”
“It may not be the most luxurious, but they have good food and they’re quick.”
“We should be able to make it to class on time.”
“We may have to wait until after class to get into our project much, but maybe we can at least talk about it over dinner.” He noticed she looked down, then out the window, but didn’t answer. He wondered what that meant.
They got to the diner and Travis steered them to a table in the corner, hoping for a little privacy so they could talk about their research. After giving the waitress their order he successfully got them started in an easy conversation, hoping to clear the air and ease the tension he felt between them. Once they were comfortable with each other again he would tackle their research.
It took most of the meal and more patience than Travis realized he possessed, but once they were both more at ease and smiling again he approached the project. “So, how did your research go?”
Tara looked down at her Coke. “Pretty good. How about yours?”
“I ended up doing more research than I’d planned, but I found it much more interesting than I anticipated.” He chuckled a bit, and was glad to see her smiling, as well.
“I know what you mean,” she agreed.
“We should probably talk about how that research relates to our project. Do you feel we need to make any changes, alterations to our original plan?”
She looked a little confused, but shrugged her shoulders a bit as she shook her head. “No, I liked our original plan. I think it’ll work fine.”
“Even after what the research shows?”
Tara looked like a deer caught in the headlights. Travis immediately knew she hadn’t done any research. Glancing at his watch, he realized if they talked about it now they’d be late for class, so he opted to wait until after class to tackle this newest problem. With that in mind, he quickly changed the subject. “Oh, look at the time. We better get to class.” He stood and put enough money on the table to cover their bill and a generous tip, and went to her and offered his hand. “Are you ready?”
“Yeah, sure.” She allowed him to help her up and started toward the door, noticing his hand on her back again.