I Take Thee Collection

These early novellas by Joannie Kay, writing as Susan Joseph, are gathered together, re-edited with over 2000 words of new material presented in one volume for your reading pleasure. The four stories follow the brothers Matthew, Mark, Luke and John Callahan as they each meet and marry their wife, and then experience the joys and tribulations of newly wed life. While living in contemporary times, these brothers are traditionally old-fashioned in their beliefs, strong in their faith, and relentless in their dedication to taking care of the women they love and keeping them safe. These stories are clean with no swearing or sex scenes portrayed.

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Sample Chapter

The first time Matthew spanked me I realized he was the man I would marry. It wasn’t much of a spanking, only three hard swats over the seat of my jeans, but, those three swats were enough to tell me that Matthew would be able to deal with my rotten temper, and the trouble it seemed to get me into all the time. More importantly, Matthew believed in traditional values, and so did I. I was raised Catholic, and I still attended Mass on Sunday mornings with my parents. Matthew was also Catholic, even though he belonged to another parish. He’d teased me about my name, joking that I had to be a good Catholic girl with a name like Mary Frances. Not really, I’d explained. I was named for my two grandmothers, and promptly nicknamed Frannie.

I’ll admit that I was very young, too young to be thinking of getting married by most people’s standards, but I knew myself pretty darn well. I wanted a husband to love, a house with a kitchen to call my own, and hopefully, lots of children. While other girls in my high school senior class were talking of which college they wanted to attend, I was already working part time at the bakery for Mr. Samuels. He promised me a full time position after graduation, and after going on a two-week graduation present vacation to Europe with my favorite aunt, Sister Mary Katherine Patterson, I settled in to my job with satisfaction.

I continued to live at home, and while it was true I paid my own way, I still followed the house rules set by my parents. They didn’t want me to move out and get my own apartment until I was at least twenty-one, and since I was able to put away most of my paycheck by living at home, and could afford a nice, brand new car, I accepted their rules, and did my very best to live by them. Not very modern by today’s standards, but I was happy. I was smart enough to know that I had a wonderful childhood, and that my parents loved me. I didn’t feel a need to rebel against them.

I met Matthew at the bakery. He came in every morning on his way to the office across the street where he worked as an optician. He had a bright smile for me each and every day, and he would always make polite conversation. Not like most folks do, with meaningless statements about the weather, the previous night’s television offerings, or what was the newest sensation to go viral on the internet. Instead, it was the kind of conversation that grows out of getting to know someone better and becoming friends. I felt a strong connection to him and really hoped he would ask me out on a date, but four months passed without so much as a hint that he thought of me as anything other than the girl at the bakery who waited on him every morning.

I was feeling a bit discouraged, especially since my cell phone wasn’t blowing up with texts and messages with offers to go anywhere or do anything. Most of my friends were off to college by then, and I was spending entirely too many Friday and Saturday nights sitting in front of the television with my parents.

Matthew was a good-looking guy. I mean, he wasn’t overly tall compared with most men, but since I was barely five feet tall in the heels I wore on Sunday mornings, he was plenty tall enough for me. His hair was dark, and so were his eyes, and he was simply my idea of ‘handsome’. He was intelligent, too, and had a wonderful sense of humor, which my dad assured me was necessary, in order to deal with my volatile moods. I really liked Matthew, but I wasn’t the kind of girl who felt comfortable asking a man for a date. Call me old-fashioned, but I just couldn’t do that. I wanted the guy to do the asking.

Mr. Samuels didn’t care what I wore to work every day, just as long as I was clean, comfortable and presentable. I always wore a large white apron over my clothing, but since it was hot in the bakery, I kept my clothing simple, just jeans and a tee shirt, and of course, comfortable shoes were a must, since I was on my feet all day long. I kept my long hair pinned up in back, and Mr. Samuels always nodded in approval.

Nothing was out of the ordinary that Tuesday. It was a normal day, and I kept glancing at the clock, as I always did, looking forward to seeing Matthew. He was right on time and I greeted him with a big grin, showing him just how happy I was to see him.

“Morning, Frannie,” he said as he smiled his special smile. “Did you finish your project last night?” This was a typical beginning to our daily conversations, he actually cared about what I did in my free time and wanted to know all about how it was working out for me.

I was refinishing a coffee table for my mother. One of my little nephews had put some scratches on the finish by running a little car that lost its wheels over the surface, and my sister was pledging to replace the table, which she couldn’t afford to do. I asked her to wait and see if I could make it nice again first, and Becky was crossing her fingers that I would be successful. I was impressed that Matthew expected day by day reports on the sanding and staining.

“No, my Aunt Mary Katherine was visiting, and I didn’t want to be out in the garage while she was there,” I explained. “I’ll get it done tonight. How about you, did you finish your model?” I knew that Matthew liked to build model ships as a hobby.

“No, I had company too. Luke and his girlfriend had a spat, and he needed to talk.”

“It seems like they are always arguing,” I commented. Luke was Matthew’s brother, and was younger than him by five years. Matthew was twenty-five, compared to my nearly nineteen.

“He’s unhappy with Ceil,” Matthew said with a worried frown. “They don’t have a lot in common, and she’s constantly flirting with other men when she’s out with him. I don’t hold with that.”

“Perhaps he should break up with her? If she’s flirting in front of him, it doesn’t sound to me like she’s committed to their relationship.” I spoke with the ease of a friend, even as I was filling his daily order. Matthew always bought a variety of donuts, one dozen, and he let me select them.

“I think he’s coming to that conclusion, Frannie.”

I was listening intently to Matthew talk about Luke, and managed to catch my finger in the door of the display case when it snapped shut. It hurt like crazy, and the words that came out of my mouth were not sweet. I was immediately embarrassed. Matthew did not approve of swearing, and the once or twice I’d let something slip in front of him, he’d frowned at me and told me I was too sweet to use those words. Unfortunately, I had a very bad habit of swearing like a sailor when I injured myself in any way. The words were out of my mouth before I remembered that Matthew was standing right there. I shook my hand to alleviate the pain and tried to hide my embarrassment, not daring to look up and meet the disapproval I knew would be in his eyes.

However, before I realized what he was doing, Matthew had rounded the display case. He took my hand in his and looked at my finger. The skin was reddened, but after it stopped throbbing, it would be just fine. He gently kissed the hurt, and then cupped my chin in his hand and turned my face up so that he could look at me.

“Frannie, using that kind of language is not acceptable.”

Before I could say one word in my defense, he moved the donut box to one side of the counter beside the cash register, and then gently pushed me down over the polished wooden surface. I was shocked and stunned when I felt the first spank land on the seat of my jeans. I tried to get up, but Matthew put his hand on my back, and held me right there, and gave me two more stinging spanks! I was so embarrassed, and yet, strangely pleased.

“I do not want to hear that kind of language from your sweet lips again, Mary Frances. Do you hear me?”

“Yes, sir,” I automatically replied, responding to the firmness in his tone of voice. I’d never addressed any man besides my dad as ‘sir’, but it just seemed the right thing to do.

Matthew let me stand up, and it was all I could do to keep from reaching back to rub my smarting bottom. I was completely flabbergasted, and didn’t know what to say.

Matthew’s eyes were full of kindness, and he tipped my chin up once more to look at me. “I care for you, Frannie, and I’ve wanted to ask you out on a date for some time now. Would you consider going to a movie with me this Saturday night?” His eyes were full of hope, and my heart was his. Right then. Right there. I was in love with Matthew Albert Callahan.

“I’d love to go to a movie with you, Matthew,” I whispered emotionally.

Matt smiled, gave me a quick peck on the cheek, paid for his donuts and left. From that moment on, I made a point of watching my language.

When Matt came to pick me up for our date, he arrived with plenty of time to meet my parents and sit down for a brief visit. He asked to see the table I was working to refinish and complimented me on the careful work I was doing. I felt like I was tingling with the glow from his attention.

We went to the pizza shop after the movie and laughed together when we learned that we both liked the same toppings. That discovery was not the only thing we had in common. We discovered that there were many things that we shared our opinions on. It seemed like we had known each other forever. We talked for hours.

Eventually, Matt sighed as he looked around the little restaurant. There was only one other table occupied, and that couple was starting to get ready to go. “I need to get you home,” he said regretfully. “It’s getting late and I don’t want to your parents to worry.” He reached across the small table, stroked the side of my face and then tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “I’m glad you wore it down for our date. You know, tonight is the first time I’ve seen you without a ponytail or bun. Your hair is so soft and lovely, I feel like I’ve been given a special treat.”

I blushed. No one had ever commented on my hair before! I felt like Matthew really saw me, in a way that very few people ever had. I felt special with him, as he let me know that he appreciated me. He was also quick to quietly tell me when he didn’t approve of something and I took his comments to heart. He explained why he thought as he did, and I usually agreed with him. I felt like he inspired me to be a better person. His concern for my parents was just another example of his thoughtfulness. I nodded. “You’re right. It is getting late and Sunday morning always seems to come so early. We like to attend early Mass.”

“So do I! It feels good to begin my day praising God.”

When we arrived back at my house, Matt came inside with me. He wasn’t surprised to discover my parents were in the living room, watching TV. But I was surprised when he thanked my parents for allowing him to take me out and then asked if they would object to him joining the family for church in the morning. They happily agreed and he shook hands with my father before turning to go.

My heart was singing as I walked him back to the front door. This was a true gentleman, and he liked me. “Thank you. I had a wonderful time tonight.”

“The pleasure was all mine, to spend my evening with such a special lady. I’m sorry to have it come to an end tonight.” He stroked my face again, tucking that same wayward lock behind my ear once more, and kissed my cheek. “I’ll see you in the morning. Sweet dreams.”

Matthew and I became a couple. He started coming to the church I had attended on Sunday mornings all my life, joining my parents and me in our regular pew, where we shared a hymnal as we raised our voices in song. He often went out to breakfast with us afterwards. My parents liked him, and when Dad realized that all Matthew had to do was say ‘Mary Frances’ in a certain tone of voice to calm me down before I lost my famous temper, he was impressed. Of course, what Dad didn’t know was that Matthew would suggest that we go for a ride if I didn’t calm down immediately, and that ride usually took us to a secluded park near town, where Matthew would turn me over his knee, give me two or three firm swats, and a good scolding.

Part of me found those mini spankings embarrassing, and another part of me was frustrated that Matthew seemed to think that two or three swats equaled a spanking. Once in a while I wondered what Matt would do if I threw a bona fide tantrum, or did something really wrong. Would he still think that a few spanks were enough? Would he take down my jeans and panties and spank me on the bare?

I wasn’t brave enough to push the issue. I know how it sounds in this day and age, but Matthew and I were waiting until our wedding night to make love. Matthew insisted that one of the reasons he fell in love with me was because I was a bit old-fashioned in my views. He liked that. He liked that I didn’t feel I had to follow the crowd. He liked that I wanted a husband and kids, and that a career outside the home wasn’t at all what I longed for. He said he was happy to find a woman who wanted to raise his children and wouldn’t be embarrassed to be a full time wife and mother. Matthew treated me with respect, and earned my respect in turn.

I was the first person from our class to get married. Our wedding was perfect in every way, and our honeymoon was very romantic. I couldn’t imagine that Matthew and I would ever have a problem in the world, or that we would disagree over anything. I mean, I can’t help but laugh now at how young and naïve I was.

Our first major disagreement occurred when we’d been married for five weeks.

Matthew came home from work, and sniffed the air appreciatively. We were living in a small apartment, saving money to buy our own home, but I had a kitchen that was mine, and I was making the most of it. “Something smells wonderful,” he enthused. Matthew loved my cooking.

“Stuffed pork chops in the oven,” I told him, walking over to kiss him hello. “How was your day?”

“Good. Yours?”

“Fine. I finished wallpapering the bathroom,” I told him proudly.

He went to inspect the job, and nodded in approval. “Looks really nice, Frannie,” he told me. “You were right too; the pattern makes the bathroom look a lot bigger.”

I was happy, until his next words were uttered.

“Did you get the thank you notes done today like I asked you to?”

Writing the thank you notes for all the wedding gifts was a sore subject with me. I had managed to do a couple, grabbing a moment here and there over the past few weeks to jot down something as inspiration hit me, but the majority still needed to be done. I hated writing notes. I didn’t have the first clue what to say, and the idea of addressing all those envelopes was depressing. So I expected that I would just continue to get them done in my piecemeal fashion. I had told Matthew that I wasn’t good at that sort of thing, and he’d said that being polite was not an option. He wanted the notes done, and he was getting very upset with me because I hadn’t given them my full attention.

I didn’t want to discuss the thank you notes. “I need to check on the pork chops,” I announced, hurrying back to the kitchen, and making a pretense of checking the oven. The pork chops needed at least thirty more minutes. I also had potatoes baking in the oven, and a broccoli salad was all prepared. There was nothing else that I needed to do, other than set the small table, and that would take, perhaps, a minute or two. I was just avoiding the question. I knew it, and worst of all, Matthew knew it too.

“Did you do the thank you notes, Frannie?” he asked again.

“No, I did not do the thank you notes, Matthew, and what’s more, I wish you would stop asking me about them! I’ll do them when I get damn good and ready to do them!” As soon as the words left my mouth I knew I was in trouble. Cursing was not permitted in our home. Matthew didn’t curse, and he didn’t want his wife cursing. I’d been trying hard to stop since that first spanking in the bakery, but at times, especially when my temper was involved, that word, and a few others, would slip out.

“Is that oven timer correct, Mary Frances?” he asked quietly.

I nodded yes, with a sinking heart, when he called me ‘Mary Frances’, I knew I was going to get a couple of smacks on my bottom.

“I’m sorry I swore, Matthew,” I apologized.

“I’m sorry you swore too,” he replied. “I’m sorry that you were disrespectful, and I’m sorry that you didn’t do those thank you notes like I specifically asked you to. You had all day to get them done, Frannie.”

“I hung wallpaper in the bathroom, Matthew. I cleaned the apartment, and did our laundry, and cooked dinner. Today is my day off from the bakery, and I was busy all day getting everything done at home.”

“But, you didn’t do the one thing I specifically asked you to do, you were disrespectful when I asked you about it, and you used a word that isn’t to be used in our home. I think it is time for your first spanking as a married woman, Mary Frances.”

I just wanted him to get it over with. Waiting for those three swats was difficult. I knew from experience that they would sting a bit, but once they were over, Matthew and I would be fine with each other again. I would get the stupid notes sent, even if it killed me, and that would be the end of it.

Matthew pulled a chair from the table and out into the middle of the floor. He sat down, and then motioned for me to come to him. I didn’t like this at all. Always before, he’d just taken me over his lap. Of course, we were usually in the car. But this was a bit different, and it was very difficult to walk over to him for a spanking. However, I wanted to get it over with, so I approached him on rubbery legs.

“Take down your jeans and panties, Mary Frances,” Matthew ordered in a firm voice.

“What?” I heard myself squeak.

“You heard me, young lady.”

“But, you never spank me on the bare!” I reminded him.

“We are married now, and that changes things. From now on, when I need to spank you, wife, it will be on a completely bared bottom. Take down your clothing, please.”

This is not going well! I told myself as my fingers fumbled with the button and zipper on my Wranglers. This was also embarrassing. We were in the middle of the kitchen, and what if my parents, or his brothers, came by unexpectedly? I thought that might dissuade him from spanking me. “Matthew, what if my parents or one of your brothers come barging in?”

He nodded in understanding, and got to his feet. To my dismay, he walked around the breakfast bar and through the carpeted living room to make sure the door was locked. Then he locked the doors to the patio, and pulled the drapes. “Now they’ll have to knock. Take down your clothing, Frannie, and don’t make this any worse for yourself.”

I didn’t like the sound of that. What was he talking about? Worse how? I was so busy trying to figure out what Matthew meant by his words, that I had my jeans and panties pushed down within seconds. Matthew simply patted his right thigh, and I closed my eyes in embarrassment as I realized he wanted me to put myself in position. “I can’t do this, Matthew,” I hesitated. “Can’t you just do it like you always do?” I whined a bit.

“We are married now, Mary Frances, and when you do something wrong, I expect you to show me that you are willing to accept the consequences of your actions.

“Okay, honey.” I tried another approach. “I am very sorry I didn’t do the thank you notes. Right after dinner, I will sit down and get them done before we go to bed tonight. It isn’t necessary for you to spank me. I am sorry I lost my temper and was disrespectful. I won’t do that again, I promise. It isn’t necessary for you to spank me when I know I was in the wrong.”

Matthew just looked at me, clearly disappointed. “Frannie, we agreed that we wanted a traditional marriage. You promised to obey during our marriage ceremony, and yet, the very first time I give you a specific request, you break your promise to obey. And right now, all I am seeing is a little girl trying to talk her way out of a deserved punishment. You have added ten extras to your spanking, and each time I have to repeat myself, there will be another ten tacked on. Extras will be harder than the original spanking, so I would strongly advise you not to earn too many of them, or you will not enjoy sitting on your chair to eat your dinner and write out those thank you notes tonight.”

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