Mia Adam’s disapproved of her sister’s Domestic Discipline marriage, but when her old flame comes back to town and suggests they give domestic discipline a whirl she changes her mind. She still regrets the day she had lost her temper and sent Ross Garrison running for the hills. She’d do anything for a second chance.
Ross Garrison returned to Pennsylvania to attend his aunt’s funeral and hopefully get a second chance with the woman who had stolen his heart so long ago. Mia possessed a temper to rival the devil and had a penchant for jumping to conclusions, but Ross was no longer the young man who avoided drama as much as possible. He had matured during his stint in the Marines and was quite capable of taming his wildcat with a good old-fashioned spanking or two.
Mia’s childhood lacked love and discipline and the uncle she thought would always be there for her had betrayed her in the worst possible way. Could she put aside her trust issues and allow Ross to know what was good for her even though her bottom would more than likely suffer the consequences?
Ross Garrison stepped into the small office of Parks & Son Remodeling and looked around in surprise. “If I didn’t know any better I’d swear a tornado just swept through here.”
Jason glanced up from his computer and shot his best friend a tight-lipped smile. “Never mind the wisecracks. Have a seat and welcome to my world, where things can go from sugar to shit in a matter of seconds.”
Ross moved further into the room and sank into a cushioned chair. What a clusterfuck. Papers were scattered carelessly on top of the wide mahogany desk that separated the two men. He had seen Jason earlier in that morning, but only had time enough for a manly shoulder bump before he had to leave and attend his aunt’s funeral. They hadn’t seen each other in eight years and Ross promised to stop by after the service was over to catch up on things. The office had been squeaky clean. Obviously, something must have happened during the two hours he had been gone. “What’s got you all bent out of shape?” He jerked a thumb toward the empty desk in the hall. “And where’s Janette?” The young blonde secretary was nowhere to be seen.
“She quit.” A flicker of annoyance crossed Jason’s face. “I left the office for a bit. When I got back, I caught her on her cell phone chatting with her boyfriend and placing orders on the computer at the same time. I told her she needed to keep her cell turned off during working hours. She burst into tears and ran out the door.” He nodded toward the computer and moved the mouse in a circular motion. “Computers have definitely made life a lot easier, but click on the wrong thing and you’re screwed.”
“You got that right.” Ross stifled a yawn and raised his arms above his head. He longed for a few hours of peaceful sleep, but knew he’d have to wait until the small problem, no doubt still lounging in his bed back at the hotel, was well on her way back home.
He spent last night on the floor, something he hadn’t expected to do after a ten-hour flight, and Connie’s surprise appearance at the door shocked him like a bucket of cold water in the face. Too annoyed to argue and too much of a gentleman to toss her out on her ass, he had surrendered the bed and did his best to block out her rather vocal hissy fit. Their past liaison had consisted of nothing more than sex and Connie had assured Ross that she was not interested in a serious relationship. Evidently, she had changed her mind and neglected to tell him. Connie was a spoiled brat and wouldn’t hesitate to scheme her way back into his life. Hell bent on putting a halt to her shenanigans, Ross had purchased a first class ticket back to California and vowed she’d be on that flight, even if he had to hog tie her and put her on the plane himself.
“I remember how your dad used to bitch about ordering online,” he said.
Jason scrubbed his face. “I don’t particularly care for talking on the phone, but Dad had been a pro at it. Anyway, the amount of lumber Janette ordered couldn’t finish a freaking doghouse and if the supply of nails she’d entered had gone through the system, we’d have enough for the next fifty years. Thank God the company where we get our supplies caught the mistake and called to double check.” He stared hopelessly at the invoices scattered on his desk. “Now all I need to do is find last month’s payment of goods and I’ll be set. Dad insisted on hard copies just in case the one floating around in cyberspace got lost. I have a sick feeling Janette deleted it.” He blew out a breath. “I need a break. I take it the funeral went as planned?”?
“Yeah, Aunt Maggie didn’t want a lot of hoopla.” Ross was ten years old when a drunk driver had killed his parents. The only other relative left had been his mother’s sister, Maggie Reinhart. She had taken him into her home and raised him as if he was her own. “Jason, take a deep breath before you pop a blood vessel. Why don’t you call Becky to come in and help?”
Jason snorted. “I did call Becky. That’s when everything went downhill.” He threw a piece of paper up in the air and leaned his head against the back of his chair. “God help me, I love that woman, but she just doesn’t think at times. I’ll tell you all about it later. I’ve got to calm down first before I do explode. How’s the knee?”
Ross noticed the abrupt change in subject and let it slide. He had been Jason’s best man and had the pleasure of meeting Becky Adams. The naughty twinkle in those huge chocolate brown eyes had been a dead giveaway. She’d surely keep his friend on his toes. “Hurts like a sonofabitch when it comes on to rain. You know, I had every intention of coming home and spending some quality time with Aunt Maggie and now it’s too late. Did you know she had a heart condition? I sure as hell didn’t.”
He pinched the bridge of his nose. His aunt had kept quiet about her failing health and it sliced deep into his heart, but he only had himself to blame. Ross had a high endurance when it came down to physical pain, but he avoided emotional altercations, hoping they would pass and he could go on as if nothing happened. His aunt’s death had come as a shock. He had taken it for granted that she would always be there and now she was gone.
There were two women in his life that meant the world to him. He had just lost one, but he would not lose the other. Not until he made things right. He’d throw himself down on his hands and knees if he had to. He’d beg for a second chance. He’d explain his so-called infidelity, and if that didn’t work, then he’d go to plan B, a good old-fashioned spanking. And knowing Becky’s older sister, Mia, his hands were going to be as sore as her bare bottom. Both Becky and her sister were so much alike.
“I sold my shares in the software business as soon as I received the news of her death. I put my job ahead of the people I care about for way too long, and where did it get me? I may have enough money to last me a lifetime, but at what cost?”
“Becky and I will always have your back, Ross, no matter what.”
Ross stretched his legs out in front of him and winced when his knee popped. “Likewise, but if I know Becky, she’ll be aiming for my balls when she sees me after all these years and I can’t run as fast as I used to. Don’t forget I’m the one who hurt her sister. She sounded like a pissed off wildcat last night when she answered the phone and heard my voice on the other end of the line.”
Jason strummed his fingers on the desk. “She was livid when you left like your ass had been on fire, but Becky’s cool with you now. She knows how stubborn Mia can be.” He shifted in his seat. “You mentioned about an idea you had on how to get Mia back. Before you set your plan in motion, you need to know a few things. Those two went through a lot of bullshit when they were kids, especially Mia. She took the brunt of the abuse, so please be patient with her. She doesn’t trust easily. Their dad drank like a fish and their mother was a twit.”
Ross’s ears buzzed. A lump of nausea settled in the pit of his stomach. “Was she physically abused?” he asked. Her childhood had never been a popular topic of conversation when they had been together.
Jason hesitated and then said, “They say verbal abuse mostly, but I think there’s more to it than that.” He shot Ross a measured look. “Along with drinking too much, their dad worked more hours than he spent at home. Instead of loving parental guidance from either parent, they were treated as if they were a nuisance.”
Damn! No wonder Mia had issues up the wazoo. Ross wanted to puke. He had met Mia’s parents once and that had been enough. His hands curled in his lap. He intended to take good care of Mia so she wouldn’t have to worry about anything as horrible as being abused from now on. He just needed to make sure she had no other commitments like a steady boyfriend. That would mess up his plans.
“Do you know if she’s dating anyone?” He ground his teeth as he waited for an answer.
Jason remained quiet for a moment or two as if pondering the question. “She has had a casual date now and then, but nothing serious as far as I know.”
So all those times his aunt had mentioned about a man being in Mia’s life had been just a ruse to get him to come back home. Aunt Maggie may have been a sweet old lady, but she could also be one heck of a manipulator. He couldn’t find it in his heart to be angry if that was truly the case. He had been thoughtless for not visiting, therefore making his aunt resort to desperate tactics just to see him home for a visit. “What happened earlier with Becky?”
Jason’s brow furrowed. “My darling wife’s habit of forgetting to check her gas tank is going to make me gray before I hit forty. That’s where I went earlier. I called and asked her if she could come in to give me a hand with these invoices and she called me back to say her car wouldn’t start. At least she was at home and not stranded on some backwoods road.”
“That’s not good. At least she has a cell phone,” Jason growled, low in his throat. “Don’t tell me she forgets to take that with her too.”
“No, that thing is always in her purse, she just forgets to charge it. About as helpful as tits on a bull, I’d say.” Jason swiped a hand through his hair and, despite the seriousness of the conversation, Ross had a tough time keeping a straight face. His ‘cool as a cucumber’ buddy certainly had his hands full. “Well, you’re always preaching to me that a spanking is a good way to keep a woman in line. I intend to test that theory out once I get my hands on Mia.”
“We dealt with the problem of not checking the gas tank before. I thought I had the problem nipped in the bud, but evidently, my wife needs a reminder. You’re welcome to stop by the house later.”
“I’ll pass. I’d like Becky in a good mood when I see her.”
Jason chuckled. “Pussy. She’s been pestering me to let her help around here so I’ll bring her to the office tomorrow.” He picked up a piece of paper, glanced at it and let it drop back onto the desk. “She does have a knack for sorting through this shit and at the same time I can keep her out of trouble.”
“Look at that. You’ve had a capable secretary right under your nose and didn’t even know it.” Both men stood up and shook hands. Ross glanced at his watch. “It’s almost noon. I have something I need to take care of. I’ll stop by tomorrow and have a chat with Becky. Hopefully your wildcat will be meek as a kitten by then.”
Jason followed Ross outside and remained standing on the cement steps that led up to the entryway of the building. Ross had gotten as far as the curb, when an exaggerated cough brought him up short. Clearly, his buddy had something more to say. He retraced his steps and squinted against the bright sunshine. “If you have something on your mind, then tell me what it is and we can settle it.”
Jason thrust his hands in the front pockets of his slacks and rocked on the balls of his feet. “You know you’re like a brother to me otherwise I’d keep my mouth shut. Kelly Watson never possessed an ounce of self-respect and the last I heard she was stripping in some joint in Allentown. I swear she fucked every guy in our class except you and me. Why did you run off without explaining to Mia what really happened between the two of you? All this shit could’ve been avoided if you would have taken the time to explain.”?
Ross rubbed the back of his neck. A day hadn’t passed by without him asking himself that same question. “You don’t know how many times I’ve kicked myself.” He shrugged. “I’m an asshole. Mia came at me, no holds barred, instead of giving me a chance to explain. She had me tried and convicted. Kelly purposely twisted things around and made it sound like I was screwing her and engaged to Mia at the same time. You know how much I hated drama. Her lack of trust burned my ass, so I left.”
Jason grinned. “You laughed at me when I married Becky with all her sass and temper. Well get ready. Mia hasn’t changed all that much. She’s a terrific sister-in-law, but it took me a while to get past the shield of mistrust she’d built around her heart.”
Ross eyed his friend with fierce determination. “Mia’s always been short tempered and stubborn. I’ll handle her mistrust with patience and understanding, but if a trip or two over my knee will help cure her of that nasty temper then, I intend to deliver.”
Jason’s hazel eyes gleamed with amusement. “Glad to hear you’ve come to your senses. It sure is good to have you back home. Where the hell did the time go? We planned on joining the Marines and saving the world as soon as we were out of school. Instead, my parents died in a plane crash shortly after we graduated and I kept this remodeling business going because it had been dad’s dream.”
Ross tapped his injured knee. “And my second tour in Afghanistan had to be cut short.” He pulled his keys from his pants pocket. “It is what it is. Go home and attend to your little wildcat. If all goes according to plan, I’ll have one of my own to tame.”