I can’t be late for this interview. There are precious few real jobs around here. Late can’t always be the story of my life. Kelli entered the small town and wished she didn’t have to drive all the way through because everyone followed the speed limit. Her appointment was just outside the other end of town, and with only one main road in and out, there was no choice. Watching the clock and driving as fast as she dared, Kelli finally exited the community and hit the gas. Only two more miles to go.
Hell and damnation, it’s the sheriff’s department, where did he come from? Now I’m going to have to pay for a ticket on top of being late to the interview. Just shoot me now. Kelli groaned and pulled over. The officer seemed to be taking his time, and her frustration mounted. She had six minutes to make the interview. She heard in her head Chase Jamison say, ‘promptness is important, Miss O’Connor.’
She watched the deputy approach so she rapidly pulled out all of her required paperwork and her license, and when she lowered the window, she almost threw it all at him.
“Well, hold on just a minute, Miss…” he looked at the license, “O’Connor. Are you related to Liam O’Connor?”
“Yes, sir.” She added as an afterthought, “If it’s a good thing.”
He chuckled at that. “Well, unfortunately it doesn’t get you out of this ticket. What in the world is so important that you are rushing through here like a bat outta hell?”
“I have a job interview in… three minutes. Could you, um, just let me go? Please? I am going to be late and you know how prospective employers are when you’re late.”
“Well, I can do it this once, but if I catch you again, you will be finding yourself in pretty hot water, young lady. Here, get your license changed to Montana, too. All right, get going. Good luck.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. I promise to stay under the speed limit.” She grabbed the paperwork and tossed it onto her seat as he stepped back. She had the passing thought that he was incredibly good looking but she didn’t have time for men or thoughts other than getting to her interview.
Walking into the office of the only attorney in the small town of Elk Ridge, Kelli sighed and pushed open the door identical to the three others in the row of businesses in the only professional complex in town. The population and most everything else in this community seemed too insignificant for notice after a large city with all the creature comforts. It was something she had promised herself she would never sacrifice again. Yet an unlocked and empty room complete with reception desk currently unoccupied and a waiting room to match were greeting her.
Thinking she had walked into the wrong place, Kelli started back to the door to confirm that this was indeed the correct address. Just as she had verified office numbers and business name, Jamison & Jamison, Attorneys at Law, on the door and pulled out her message that held the phone number of Chase Jamison, lead attorney for the Jamison Law Office, in he walked. She recognized him from the internet when she did her research. He pulled his cell from his ear to speak to her.
“Hello, you must be Liam’s sister, Kelli.” Twice today she was Liam’s sister and she hated being defined by someone else. “You’re right on time. I, on the other hand, am unfortunately not. Promptness is appreciated and I apologize for being detained. Please, have a seat while I finish up with my call and then I can give you my undivided attention.” Chase flashed a winsome smile and quickly exited through one of the side doors to another room.
Kelli looked around at the oblong space since she was now confident she was at the right place and the person who was expecting her knew she was here. Very different from her other offices that housed four or five attorneys full-time and several part-time or specialty lawyers, this office was a father and son business with the father being the partially retired partner.
While it was a small practice by her previous standards, the reputation appeared to be huge and flawless. After she had applied and received an immediate callback, she did some checking. She was surprised at her research results. Professionally, other attorneys held these men in high esteem and she had no doubt that working for them would be a feather in her cap, even in rural Montana.
Montgomery Jamison, affectionately known as Monty to close friends and family, was a tough and insightful attorney according to her research. He had three children with Caris, his wife of thirty-five years. The eldest was Chase and then Parker, and finally, their sister, Aspen.
The door pushed open forcefully and in walked noise.
“Chase, I have your court documents. I was there anyway so grabbed your inbox stuff.”
Kelli looked up to see a tall man in a sheriff’s department uniform, with dark brown hair surrounding almost black eyes. They were certainly darker than his hair but of no obvious ethnicity that would produce that darkness. Maybe. There was something familiar about his overall appearance, but Kelli could not put her finger on why.
Then the deputy noticed her and smiled that smile she had earlier experienced, the deputy who pulled her over and on top of that, his smile matched Chase’s. He must be Parker. This was one take your breath away specimen of human creation. Thank you for walking in the door and giving me a second chance at yum. Her heart sped up and she felt a diffusion of warmth headed right for her core. Rural Montana did have a few things to recommend itself. She watched him hold the brim of his cowboy hat as he turned and tossed it in a controlled manner.
“Hello, Miss O’Connor. I’m glad to know you didn’t tell a lie to get out of your ticket. I heard you were coming in for an interview but didn’t put it together until you drove off.”
“Yep, Liam’s sister.”
“Yeah, I’m sorry about that.”
“Happens all the time I’m near one of my brothers. They are rather bigger than life.” She shrugged.
Parker smiled back and the sex appeal was almost overpowering. She shivered as he continued to watch her and his smile widened. “My sister Aspen has said the same thing on occasion. I figure you’re unforgettable in your own right. Yours is a well-liked family, Ms. O’Connor. So…” changing the subject but keeping his eyes engaged with hers, “when do you start?”
Chase walked in at that moment. “Whoa, man, I haven’t even had the chance to interview her yet.” He reached out and shook Kelli’s hand. “Hello again. I’m Chase Jamison and this is my socially maladroit brother, Parker.”
Chase was nice looking as well, but nothing like his brother.
“We’ve introduced ourselves already, so he isn’t totally maladroit,” clarified Kelli.
“Perfect. Now, we have an interview to complete and I’m sure you have work to do, right Parker?” Kelli liked these two brothers already.
Parker sobered a little and his voice deepened. “Yeah, as always,” he answered his brother but kept his eyes on Kelli. “Pleased to meet you, Kelli, I hope to see you often, but no repeats of earlier.” He smiled what she was sure was his killer trademark and nodded at his brother before breezing out as he had swept in. An older man greeted the younger warmly as they passed each other in the doorway, each completing a half handshake, half clap on the shoulder. Parker casually walked onto the street while reseating his hat atop his full head of hair, in total contrast to the determined and purposeful entry of his father, Monty Jamison. He had the same look about him as his sons and was still a handsome man himself.
Kelli introduced herself to Monty, and Chase led them into his office for her interview. Within ten minutes there was no question the job was hers if she would accept it. And there was no doubt that she would accept. They needed a paralegal, she was the only actual paralegal they had interviewed and, with her experience, it was an easy choice. Besides, she needed work and she was Liam’s sister.
“However, we are attorneys so we do need to follow our own advice and do a reference check and a bit of background verification. You have explained why you do not want us to contact your last employer, but I wonder if you would reconsider. I have found that most references are better than an employee thinks. But, of course, it is up to you.”
“Well, since you have heard the story, I guess they can’t tell you anything I didn’t, except his rendition of the events. Go ahead and call.”
“Good. I had hoped you would change your mind.”
Monty spoke up. “Yes, we heard the story and could see what went wrong but you need to know we won’t tolerate disrespect around here. State your opinion always, but in an appropriate place and time with respect. Nor will we tolerate just not showing up because of a mood. I can assure you, young lady, that one of us will be at your door, switch in hand if you totally disregard us in that way.”
Kelli stopped dead in her thinking and immediately reverted to the way she responded to her own scolding father. “Yes, sir, I won’t do that to you.” Her mind scrambled to right itself in the image of yet another spanking group of men. Maybe it was just Monty but she didn’t see Chase discounting the warning. Parker, did he also prescribe to that way of getting attention? She hoped not because she had liked him.
Monty reached over to pat her hand. “See that you don’t.”
Chase closed his file, “We’ll call you in a few days and unless something you haven’t told us comes up, you have the job.” He hesitated. “There isn’t is there?”
“What? No, you have it all.”
He nodded. “Good, let your brothers know we send our best.”
And that was it. She held her breath that her rendition of events matched her last employer’s. The men didn’t say anything when she told them she had stood up to machismo and egotistical bias. She noticed a slight hesitation on Chase’s part when explaining she told her boss what she thought of his statement, in a partners’ meeting. And she quickly admitted it was a poor choice of venue to have the discussion. She still didn’t think the woman who hit her husband with a hot frying pan was wrong. Kelli could still hear his cold, firm reply in her head.
“Sometimes, Ms. O’Connor, a woman needs the reassurance of her man to retain order and show her that her place hasn’t moved. Show her he cares about how she behaves and a good man, who loves his lady, will do that.”
Kelli had stood stunned, the other men mumbled and nodded their assent. She had left immediately and driven home. She lost her job, not because she had been so rash and disrespectful, but because he needed her to research a case for him quickly and she was unavailable without telling anyone.
So here she was, staying with her best friend Jocelyn,who married Kelli’s eldest brother Liam and they had just discovered a baby was on the way. Liam and her next to youngest sibling, Ciarán co-owned the Circle C ranch. Both men were rather bossy when she was growing up, even though she was the second child. Most of her family lived in Wyoming which is why she wasn’t there.
The crazy thinking of her last boss and the string of boyfriends she had endured over the last ten years, was enough to show Kelli that most guys were immature or jerks. Sometimes they were both. Even her brothers, as much as she loved them, could be royal pains in the ass. She was going to let her head rule the day from now on because it was a sure thing that her heart had no idea who to fall for when it came to men. Maybe all the good ones were taken or related. She didn’t have to marry anyway, but she knew in her heart, way deep down, that she longed to find her soulmate.
She needed to clear her head of those meloncholy thoughts so she jumped in her sporty car and pulled out onto the road. Racing home in her little impracticality, Kelli bounced to her music as she drove. She had the sunroof open and her longish milk chocolate hair was flying in the wind. She was eager to tell Jocelyn how well her interview had gone as she settled into the easy drive back. She had her music cranked up, singing loudly, encouraging her brain to zone out. Her foot became as excited as the rest of her body, making the speed rise to violation proportions.
Kelli was usually a safe driver and tried not to exceed the speed limit more than five or so miles. So, when she saw the sheriff’s car running his lights, she was already feeling repentant, for she had seen her speedometer. Eleven miles over the speed limit was probably not a good thing. The last time she was heading home and had gone that fast was in college during the break. She did not like the outcome on her wallet or her ass so she was absolutely not sharing this event with any brother. She wiggled her regret as she looked up into mirrored sunglasses.
“Officer—” He cut her off by raising his hand and then raising his glasses.
Kelli saw when Deputy Jamison recognized her. His raised eyebrows accompanied by a stern look quickly replaced his indulgent smile. Kelli laid her head on the driver’s wheel. What was that ditty – if it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all? Well, none would be better than this. She had experience with getting out of things. Just apologize, take responsibility, and beg for leniency.
“Um, hello Parker, I guess I was going too fast, huh?” She shot him a sheepish grin that was not returned. Her car may have stopped running fast but not her heart. She could hear pounding in her ears so loud that she was unable to focus on what Parker Jamison was saying. She squinted her eyes as she tried to concentrate.
“Miss O’Connor, do you realize you were twelve miles over the speed limit?”
“Eleven.” The word leaped from her tongue. Horrified, she wanted to bite that offensive member into submission as she slapped her hand hard over her mouth.
She immediately dropped her hand because it had hurt. Biting her lip instead, she tried to look contrite, “Yes, sir. I mean, not until you put your lights on and then I looked down. I’m sorry, I know you won’t believe me now, but I honestly try to go the speed limit. Growing up in my house, speeding was a safety violation punishable by…” Kelli had almost not stopped herself. Where was that damn filter when you needed it?
If Parker noticed the apparent abrupt ending to her sentence, he didn’t say anything but Kelli could have sworn his mouth kicked up at the corners. “Did you know that anything over ten miles in excess of the speed limit warrants a mandatory court hearing?”
“Oh Lord. Well, I go to court all the time, just not for myself. At least I know a good lawyer.” Kelly thought she was lessening the tension, but a quick look at Parker’s face told her she was missing the mark, profoundly. “I guess you’d better give me the darn ticket and the court date and I’ll show up. Diabhal é.”
Then forgetting that he didn’t speak Gaelic, she automatically covered her mouth again. After processing she was safe from detection, she sighed with relief. However, the word was close enough to allow the sound and the ‘oops’ reaction to most likely inform his thoughts because he gave her another quelling look.
“We mail those to your address, but your ticket I can give you now.”
“No!” she squealed. “I mean, can’t you just give it to me or let me go pick it up?”
Parker laughed then. “Sounds like you expect a bit of retribution if it gets mailed to the ranch, am I right?”
“Something like that.” Now she was irritated. “Please, Parker, err, Officer, um Deputy. You have no idea the fireworks that will go off if Liam or Ciarán get hold of this.”
“Well, how about I write it for nine miles over instead of eleven and you pay the rest in swat equity.”
“What? Swat equity? What is that?”
“It’s where you pay for your crime by taking swats.”
“Dead serious here, young lady. You seriously need a spanking. You let me take the extra two miles over off your butt or I will deliver the summons myself when I know you are not home. Am I clearly understood now? You have no business speeding, let alone twice in one afternoon.”
“Uh, yeah, I mean no. I mean what the hell?”
“Just say no and I’ll be glad to deliver your court appearance. It would be better anyway.”
“Why are you doing this to me?”
“Because, sweetheart, you need to know people care about you and if something happened to you they would be devastated. And because I believe you’ve been able to skate around things for a long time. I’ve had conversations with your brothers from time to time. They love you but you’re a bit wild. You’re in my jurisdiction now and we keep our citizens safe, even if it is from themselves. Now what’s it to be? Summons or spanking?”
She looked into his onyx eyes as she thought of Liam laying down the law and the way he would be so disappointed that she hadn’t grown up at all. She had, but he wouldn’t believe it.
“Please don’t spank me hard.” She sighed. “I should have known there would be a spanking deputy living near my brothers. Do you do this to all your violators?”
“Nope you’re the first one I cared enough to offer. Now out you go.”
Parker didn’t know what had gotten into him but he was suddenly glad he wasn’t in the newer SUV because this one hadn’t been equipped with the cameras yet. Not much of a need in this county but he wouldn’t have been able to do what he was about to do. He watched the shiver Kelli O’Connor couldn’t hide. He was pretty sure she was thinking about the punishment for driving so fast and that was his point. His cock didn’t get the message though. He thought it was for him.
“Come on out then and let’s get you into the back of the SUV.” He saw her look of alarm and remembered she had spent her last decade in an over-crowded area where you didn’t trust anyone or any situation you didn’t create yourself and sometimes not even then.
“Don’t worry, honey, I don’t want anyone to see you getting your bottom tended to. It would be embarrassing and that isn’t my intention.” He couldn’t stop the grin. “Except with me.”
She followed him to the SUV and he waved her inside first. He had to hand it to her. She was going through with it so he knew she’d rather take a few licks from him than have her brothers find out. It was good information to have. He wished she hadn’t thought to slide her butt over to the other side because he would have appreciated that cute backside displayed.
“Well, sweet pea, it’s time.”
“Don’t call me those silly names. They don’t impress me.”
He slapped his thighs and sighed before patting them in invitation. “All right then, let’s see if I can impress you another way. Slide on over.”
Her breathing ratcheted and for a few moments, he watched as she concentrated hard on retaining control. He was gratified and impressed when she did just that, but he was worried he was looking at a near panic attack. He would have to be careful with this one.
“Kelli, are you all right? Maybe this was too much for you. Come on. Let’s get you out.”
“What? No, I’m fine.” She took one more cleansing breath and blew it out slowly before looking at him expectantly.
After a moment of watching, he patted his thighs again.
“Over your knee?” She sounded surprised.
“Yes, ma’am, I’m not forcing you to do what is right, you’re choosing it.”
Kelli threw herself over his lap and Parker smiled. She was a naughty thing full of spunk. He enjoyed it and the cute ass she was presenting to him.
“Now, I’m not going to spank your butt uncovered today, but I promise you, if we find ourselves in this position again for any reason, I will remove all barriers between my hand and your bottom. We clear?”
“Yes. We’re clear. Don’t hold your breath. This is not happening again.”
It sounded like she had banked her fire some so now it was time to get on with it.
“Ten swats.” That was all the warning he would give because he didn’t want her to work herself up. He lifted his hand and let it fall in a controlled smack that had Kelli yelping.
“Hey, that was hard. I said not too hard.”
“Sorry, thought you knew how this went. I give the swat and you accept the swat so let’s try this again.”
He landed another hand on her other cheek and again she squealed. “Now that’s enough. I am not hurting you. I’m not even using any strength but if you don’t hush up, young lady, I will put some power behind it and you’ll understand what grace these were.”
“Fine, just get on with it.”
“My pleasure,” were the last words spoken as the last eight were delivered hard, fast, and with no slowing for her squalls. “That’s it and if we find ourselves here again, you will take it with more dignity.”
She scrambled off his lap. “Like hell I will.”
Parker noticed she didn’t deny she might ever be over his knee again. “Need a reminder that cursing is unladylike?”
“No! Sorry, I’m sorry, okay? Can I go home now?” Parker could hear the mortification in her voice and he didn’t want to keep her in that mindset but she was a mouthy one.
“As soon as I finish writing the ticket you have coming.”
“That’s it. If I don’t hear some manners right now, we will try this exercise again with a new goal in mind.”
Kelli sighed her defeat and mumbled something.
“Louder please and look up.”
“Deputy Jamison, thank you for leniency. I know you didn’t have to be. I couldn’t bear Liam thinking I was as irresponsible as in college and then try to control my life.”
“Parker works fine. And I meant what I said about getting your due from me if I catch you doing something this unsafe again. If you had lost control or something had been on the road, your speed was fast enough to kill you without question.”
“I know. I didn’t do it on purpose. I just didn’t watch the speed. I’ll be much more careful from now on.”
He handed her the ticket and walked her back to her car.
“Right, now that the unpleasantness is over, care to go out with me?”
Kelli stared at him and then laughed. “Um, well, I don’t know.” She knew she’d like to figure him out more. “Are you always so bossy?”
He leaned through the open window. “’Fraid so. When the lady I’m interested in is hell-bent on getting herself in trouble, you can count on it.”
His voice was like molten metal, hot, dangerous, and lots of strong potential. “And the other?”
“Don’t know really. I think for you, I’d say it was a fair expectation. I think you are one of those who need it.”
“You’re wrong.” She didn’t want to think about the tumultuous tummy she was dealing with right now at the thought of him spanking her again. She was determined it was not because of the spanking. “If you still want to go out with a rule breaker, I would love to if you promise not to spank me again.”
“Well, you promised not to break any more laws, remember. How about I pick you up for brunch next Saturday, and if you think it goes well enough, then we’ll set up something after work the following week. Maybe go get a nice dinner, get to know each other better.”
“Um, okay, except I don’t have a job yet.”
“You will. Trust me, I know about these things.”
“I hope you’re right. And I’ll meet you there. Call the ranch and tell me when and where.”
“I pick up and deliver home my dates, but since you don’t know me yet, except well, your little spanking back there, I can see how driving would be safer until you know me. I’ll call you when I get my schedule.” He touched his hat in salute and walked back to his SUV.
Parker was right. The job offer call came in just as she and Jocelyn were leaving to drive to Sheridan. She got Parker’s call later that same day. Kelli thought Jos was handling Kelli’s bail out on the trip so well until she found out that instead of staying home, she went anyway, alone. Liam was on a trip and left brother Ciarán to deal with the ranch. When Jocelyn left without notice or escort, Ciarán was furious and it took a lot to get him that angry. That is just what she told Parker when they were enjoying their brunch that Saturday.
“The ordinary life and misadventures of my obedience challenged sisters married to my obedience determined brothers. Whether you are born to my family or grafted in, the end result is the same, sparks and fireworks but always lots of love.”
Kelli’s mind kept thinking of her telephone conversation with Jocelyn a few nights ago when she described him as a ‘sterling piece of man flesh.’ She felt a blush at the remembrance and ignored the look of curiosity that she saw on Parker’s face, presumably in response. Some things were meant to be kept private. She was attracted to Parker and damn if she didn’t just want to touch him. As if in response to her unspoken request, he placed his hand over hers on the table. It startled her but she would never move it before he did. The tingles were a surprise.
“Sounds like all the O’Connor women have an obedience issue. I seem to remember a young lady by the name of O’Connor who thought the signs with numbers on the road were for others, not her.”
Kelli rolled her eyes and said, “All right, but that is technically not true. I didn’t pay attention to the signs with numbers on them. But I haven’t broken any other laws since then.”
“It’s been what, three days?”
“Yes, but I told you I was not going to do it again, even by accident, which that incident was. Geez, even at home when we paid the penalty, all was forgiven and over with. And I paid the fine, so can we put that issue to rest, please?”
“Absolutely right, unless you re-offend. If that should happen, the monetary fine would be something easy to deal with next to my payment extraction.”
He said it in calm, matter of fact manner so why did her pulse shoot up and her face get hot? She wasn’t a schoolgirl nor was she into spanking. It freaking hurt. The fact that she was excited by it was her secret.
“Fine, I know. And believe me, just knowing that my rule stringent brothers are watching will make a difference. And now, a bossy new friend…” she indicated Parker, “will also take a dim view of my joyriding through the countryside. It will be a plentiful deterrent.”
Parker laughed. “Something tells me that it won’t be enough of a deterrent, Kelli O’Connor. You’ll find some way to get yourself into hot water.”
Kelli quickly changed the subject because she knew she had challenges in keeping things ‘between the lines,’ as her new employer, Chase Jamison said, meaning strictly within the rules. She just didn’t think that it should be such a big deal if no one got hurt.