Bennett Fowler stepped out of Barton-Court House as Sullivan, the butler, held the doors open.’ He stopped just past the doorway and looked out as the wintery morning crispness settled around him.
His hair was neatly combed to one side and his white shirt and navy blue striped tie were neatly displayed from where his navy topcoat parted at the neckline.’ Bennett turned to look over his shoulder and as he did, put out his arm.’ Elisabeth Warner stepped up to the doorway beside him.
They looked at each other; a temporary melancholy had settled upon them with the knowledge that Elisabeth would soon be leaving Barton-Court House, but it was the reason why she was leaving which caused the corner of Bennett’s mouth to curl upward into a very rare smile.’ Elisabeth saw his expression and exchanged her sombre one for a little smile of her own.’ Her short brunette hair cleared her chin sweetly and the grey beret, slanted to one side, matched her formal woollen coat.
She averted her eyes and smiled at the black and white chequered floor as he led her through the doorway and outside into the chilly English morning air.’ The young butler closed the doors behind them gently so as not to spoil the moment and then smiled to himself.’ Fancy that, Bennett Fowler.’ In love.
The gravel crunched satisfyingly beneath their smart dress shoes as they crossed the drive, arm in arm, proceeding around the side of the mansion to the formal gardens behind Barton-Court House.
Bennett’s navy and white pinstriped trousers and brown shiny brogues were visible from where his coat stopped below his knees.
Elisabeth felt every bit a girl under Bennett’s watchful eye in her brand new coat, one of four Bennett had purchased after she moved to Barton-Court House.’ Burgundy tights showed from beneath where the woollen grey pleats of her winter coat stopped above her knees and went down into a pair of black patent t-strap shoes with gold buckles.’ The nineteen-year-old looked every bit a girl under the meticulous eye of Bennett Fowler, which included the made-to-measure burgundy and ivory sailor dress Elisabeth wore beneath her coat.
November in England meant winter and regardless of the absence of snow, one could see evidence of the turn of season with puffs of smoke-like clouds extracted from the mouths of anyone who breathed or spoke.’ To the ignorant eye, the pair looked as though they’d dressed up just to walk about the formal gardens, but Bennett Fowler had been wearing three-piece suits and what the rest of the world might regard as formal wear, every day of his life, for all of his life.’ It was normal to him and therefore, expected.’ That included a formal wardrobe for Elisabeth Warner, who had moved to Barton-Court House two weeks prior.’ Of course, her reason for arriving differed greatly to the reason she was about to leave.
Bennett Fowler had always been a deeply disciplined and serious man, no doubt as a result of his equally disciplined and serious upbringing.’ His parents, Jonathan and Evelyn Fowler were, quite simply put, wealthy, traditional and busy.’ Bennett and his younger brother, Damian, were raised to dress formally each day and to live amongst domestic staff in a household that ran on a precise schedule.
From a very young age, they learned how to behave as sons of a billionaire who often had colleagues visiting their childhood home, Greystone Hall.’ Bennett and Damian were homeschooled by a governess from the age of two until they were sent to boarding school at ages eight and six, respectively.’ Their father, Jonathan Fowler, worked long hours in his London office and from his home office, and was often abroad.’ Evelyn was left to tend to their privileged sons before they went away to school and when they returned every weekend and for school holidays.’ Their mother was a formidable woman and a social climber who spent most of Bennett’s childhood making her way up and through the sea of ladies whose husbands had unprecedented power and influence all over the country.
It also meant that, as Evelyn’s sons (social influence and lifestyle aside), Bennett and Damian needed always to be clean, tidy, well-mannered gentlemen who did her proud.’ Bennett didn’t despise his upbringing, but he recognised that there were certain traits he seemed to have attached to as a result or lack of certain behaviours in Greystone Hall.’ Bennett was comfortable in a three-piece suit at twenty-nine, just as he had been as a child.’ Likewise, he was accustomed to a butler answering Greystone’s front doors and bringing him tea and toast in bed as when he was a lad (only when he was unwell, of course).’ It was normal for him to change his tie in the evenings and go down to the dining room at precisely five minutes prior to each meal.’ He grew up having a household salaried chef, who served multi-course meals, and the table was set formally every meal, every day.’ He took afternoon tea and afternoon walks, and life wouldn’t be life without any of it.
Bennett had also been raised to obey his parents to the letter and from the first word that was spoken; and, if he or Damian didn’t, they reported to their father’s study to answer for their waywardness ‘ when he was home.’ Evelyn had been left in the massive estate with her sons, when they were home from school, and she disciplined them in Jonathan’s absence and that meant over the large, rolled arm of any number of Chesterfield sofas in the formal rooms at Greystone Hall and a sore backside to remember.’ Evelyn didn’t entertain backchat and that was something that Bennett had inherited as a dislike.’ He also deeply disregarded the idea that his mother should run Greystone Hall, hosting endless galas, parties and ladies luncheons regardless of whether Jonathan Fowler had just returned from a business trip abroad and really hadn’t the energy to smile and be charming.’ Or, what was more, Jon wanted to return to his mansion, his wife and sons on their half-term holidays from school and just spend the weekend as a family.’ It never really happened.’ Evelyn had her way from as far back as Bennett could remember and it was something that had never sat well with him.’ In particular, the fact his father had never been allowed to be the protector or the head of his own house (a mansion, in fact, that his income had solely purchased), but had always been more of a background player ‘ it was something Bennett truly detested.’
He grew up to be a very serious and disciplined man who was both terribly handsome and very intelligent.’ He’d inherited his trust fund and purchased his own estate two months prior.’ Bennett’s own domestic staff ran Barton-Court House and were well on the way to recreating the home he was accustomed to.’ But something was missing.’ Amongst his wealth and his formality, and even with the company of his childhood best friend, Brayden James, who lived very much the same lifestyle a short distance away at Waldorf Manor, he had begun to desire a particular relationship in his life.’ Bennett was a dominant man, a gentleman, but dominant, nonetheless.
Since having been put in place earlier in the year as ‘uncle’ to Brayden’s eighteen-year-old adopted daughter, Alice, he had thought of how he might pursue a way to put his lifestyle and deep desire to provide a formal atmosphere and discipline to a young lady who could benefit, to good use.’ Brayden had found his adopted daughter by his own means, soliciting with platonic intentions and then interviewing more than a dozen girls who seemed genuine.’ Of course, some of them weren’t.’ Bennett had, in fact, been given the names of several of the girls who were commendable and were seeking a life like the one he could provide.’ During interviews with six of those girls, Bennett discovered Elisabeth Warner.
The girl was an only child of two elderly and disabled parents who, through no fault of their own, never provided Elisabeth with a disciplined or thoroughly proper upbringing.’ She’d spent most of her life to that point caretaking, juggling school (until she’d left Sixth Form at eighteen) and sketching people and landscapes in her spare time.’ Elisabeth had no prospects, no job, and really, no focus or direction because the council had removed their family benefits, which meant Elisabeth had to care for her parents fulltime.
She had a temperament and disposition that Bennett knew would translate well into his formal household at Barton-Court and on the day of her interview, he knew that she would appreciate the opportunity more than any of the other girls.’ Not to mention, every other candidate had lied to him in one way or another.’ Elisabeth was teachable and keen to experience a rare opportunity living with a strict but fair man who didn’t expect anything from her but proper behaviour.’ Elisabeth would finally stop caretaking; she would focus on doing as Bennett told her, all whilst enjoying the privileged life he offered.’
Bennett had moved Elisabeth to Barton-Court House for one reason and one reason only; to give her the discipline she’d never had, and of course, to enjoy having someone to look after and to pass along his own upbringing.’ It also gave him a sense of satisfaction to spend money on a girl who’d never had nice things before.’ He had already paid for her parents to have fulltime care after releasing Elisabeth from that responsibility.’ He’d also paid off her credit card and her parents’ mortgage and he’d done so because he sincerely wanted to.’ Bennett wasn’t concerned about impressing Elisabeth; at that point especially she’d been more like a child under his care than anything else.
But a few days after Elisabeth had moved to Barton-Court and their new ‘strictly platonic, disciplinary-focused’ lifestyle had begun, Bennett realised that, completely against his integrity and expectations, he’d begun to feel a deep affection for Elisabeth.’ He didn’t behave in any untoward manner so as not to confuse or lose her trust.
Elisabeth did very much reciprocate feelings for Bennett, although hers developed more quickly than Bennett’s.
Neither of them spoke a word to each other on the subject for fear of ruining their arrangement.’ The week before, Bennett had appealed to Brayden for advice, wanting to know what he should do in the case that he couldn’t go another day without telling Elisabeth of his desire to court her.’ Brayden advised him to be honest and of course, it meant that if Elisabeth didn’t feel the same way, their entire arrangement would end.’ Bennett couldn’t very well keep Elisabeth at Barton-Court as his charge to discipline and ‘raise’ once he’d admitted his feelings for her if she didn’t reciprocate.’ It would complicate things.
Until the previous afternoon, Bennett had never dated, courted, held or kissed a girl.’ Of course, for years, Evelyn had been subtly suggesting that surely one of her friend’s daughters would be a good fit for a wife.’ Bennett had been firm in telling his mother that he would marry when he found the girl he knew was a good deal more than just a good fit.’ The girl would also need to consent to let Bennett lead their relationship and marriage and that meant he would discipline her when it was deserved.’ He had carefully observed every female at every party, gala, ball and event from the age of fifteen for signs that any were of the submissive kind.’ If not outrightly submissive, somehow responding in a way that gave him an inkling that he wouldn’t scare her off with the suggestion of putting her across his knee throughout their courtship for behaviour he disliked.
Thus, Bennett had stood by in his three-piece suits, sipping his drinks, scanning the various houses, hotels, ballrooms, foyers, back gardens and just about everywhere else a social gathering had taken place over those fourteen years and never once was he absolutely sure he’d found her.’ It was difficult and almost unattainable in wealthy circles, to find a Chelsea or Ascot girl who would actually consent to such a relationship because there was far too much ego and self-righteousness.’ Kink or not, a certain degree of humility was needed before any girl would go over the knee of the man with whom she was in a relationship.’ Bennett had been able to tell, even from the age of fifteen, watching girls of the same age and older, how disgustingly arrogant they were.’ Money did that to people.’ He’d wanted to put every single one of them, in their short dresses with low-cut tops, right across his knee and tell them to get off their high horses, be genuine and to dress more appropriately.’
Bennett had never been far from any girls’ eye, however, having been six foot six inches tall practically since adolescence with distinguishable cheekbones and a mature yet firm disposition, which made him strangely and excessively attractive.’ And he’d ignored every single one of those coy-looking girls.’ He knew exactly how he wanted his relationship and future marriage to work and if he couldn’t have it that way, he wouldn’t have it at all.’ In that case, he’d never given any part of himself away because he didn’t want to waste time on meaningless affections.
Hence, there he was, with Elisabeth Warner on his arm, the girl to whom he gave his first kiss just the afternoon prior in his ballroom.’ It had finally happened that Bennett found a way to tell Elisabeth about his affection for her after two weeks of their discipline relationship arrangement, and she had reciprocated.’ It was time for them to discuss how they would move forward and that included important details surrounding boundaries and expectations.’
“As you know, this will be our last day at Barton-Court House as we are, Elisabeth.’ From this evening, you’ll be living at Waldorf Manor,” Bennett said, as they carried on walking between the tall hedge walls and meticulously manicured lawns.
“It’s a shame I’ve already changed my Facebook status to ‘in a relationship’.’ Was I supposed to wait until tomorrow?” she asked, in a small, teasing voice.
Bennett looked down at her and raised an eyebrow.’ He knew quite well she no longer had a Facebook page because he’d made her close it down prior to her moving to Barton-Court House.’ Part of the life she was to live with him meant no Internet or social media.’ He wanted Elisabeth to learn to live in a privileged environment without distraction, at least, that had been his plan.’ He certainly hadn’t expected to fall in love with her, either.
“Don’t be cheeky, Elisabeth.’ It would be very unfortunate for you to get spanked in this weather, I assure you,” he said, in a factual tone.
Elisabeth bit the inside of her cheek and held back a chuckle.’ It wasn’t entirely like her to tease, although Bennett was so straight-laced that it was nothing less than amusing to wind him up just a little bit.’
“Now, I hope we can clarify a few things before you leave,” he said, as they approached a bench across from a six-tiered fountain that pleasantly trickled water from the top into the giant pool at the bottom.
Elisabeth knew the conversation that was coming as they sat side by side.’ Bennett turned inward on the bench and his six foot six inches of gentlemanly posture caused Elisabeth’s heart to slip a few inches toward her stomach.’ He had no idea how his strict, stern, formal behaviour made her weak in the knees.
She raised one grey woollen mitten to her face and pushed a stray piece of hair back toward the rest of her locks.’ Bennett took one of her mittens in his gloved hand, which surprised her, and she gazed up at him.
“Elisabeth,” he started.
She swallowed and nodded.’ His neatly combed hair and straight-laced attitude further blocked her heart from beating properly.
“I realise we’ve only known each other for a couple of weeks, but I want you to know that I am a man of my word.”
Elisabeth nodded.’ “I know,” she said, softly, and offered a small smile.
“And in that, I can’t stray from who I am and what I desire for our relationship.’ I know you don’t disagree or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.’ Although, you must know that your role in my life and in our courtship is the girl whom I adore, first and foremost.” Bennett was being very serious.’ It was clear he meant every word he was saying, but he was also trying to get through to a deeper point.
“And in very close second, understand that I don’t want this relationship to change very much at all, except of course, that I may kiss you,” he said, then leant over and planted a soft kiss on her cheek.
Elisabeth immediately smiled and looked down.’ Bennett watched her faint complexion blush a little as he continued.
“Do you understand what that means?” he asked, looking down to meet her eyes.’ Elisabeth nodded shyly.’
“Tell me,” Bennett said quietly.
Elisabeth bit her lip and searched his face.
“You don’t have to feel ashamed of wanting this, Elisabeth.”’ He covered her mitten with both of his hands.
“I don’t entirely,” she replied, although she clearly was, if even a little.’ “It’s just still new to me.”
“Me too, darling,” Bennett said.’ “But we have the added benefit of having spent two weeks in what was a proper, platonic introduction to each other.’ You know how my household is run, you’ve met my closest friends and my brother, and you can see the consistency across all areas of my life and how my lifestyle is practically lived out on a daily basis.’ More importantly, you know my expectations.’ At least, I have faith that you understand many of them already in the time we’ve had together.’ Before yesterday afternoon, you were a girl who needed a proper home and a bit of an upbringing that she lacked.’ I don’t quite see you as much different, except you are completely mine to protect now.”
Elisabeth showed a shy smile again and then waited until she was sure Bennett wasn’t going to continue.’ Interrupting was something he absolutely did not tolerate.’ “I don’t want anything to change,” she said quietly.
Bennett looked pleased, as he should be.’ “I’m happy to hear you say that,” he replied. Although pleased, he maintained his serious demeanour.’ “I shouldn’t like to see you unhappy, Elisabeth.’ Do you understand?”
Elisabeth searched his eyes and gave a small nod of acknowledgment.
“Please respond the way I’ve taught you,” he told her.
She wanted to bite her lip again but averted her eyes instead.’ “Yes, Sir,” she replied, the tops of her cheeks blushing slightly as she glanced away.’ It was delightfully nerve-wracking to hear him ask for his title.’
She’d learned very quickly that Bennett was to be referred to as ‘Sir’ from the first moment he’d interviewed the girls.’ Elisabeth had also gotten over the discomfort of referring to him as such after Bennett spanked it right out of her, although feelings of awkwardness crept back in as they talked about their courting relationship.’ Elisabeth hadn’t imagined calling him ‘Sir’, but she should have known, since it hadn’t previously been a debatable subject.’ It didn’t quite bother her, either, it just made her blush and her insides tingle because they were now an item and the idea of referring to Bennett in such a way added a serious dose of arousal factor.’
Bennett raised his eyebrows and took hold of her chin gently.’ “Not changing means that you will still refer to me properly.”’
“Yes, Sir,” she replied quietly.’ She was sure her toes were curling inside of her tights and patent t-strap shoes, although it was too cold to confirm that theory.
“You must remember that I am ten years your elder, my darling,” Bennett said, setting his eyes and lowering his gorgeous jawline down to her level without compromising his posture.’
Elisabeth could have fallen right off the cast iron bench; Bennett had that effect on her with very little effort.’
“Yes, Sir, I know,” she replied, lowering her eyes so as not to make it obvious with just how little effort it took for him to bring her to that place of divine submissive blushing.
“I don’t see you as entirely grown up.’ You’re barely nineteen years old and I am twwenty-nine, which means I am still your elder.’ And you know how I feel about respecting one’s elders,” Bennett said.
“I know,” she said quietly, looking down and running her woollen grey mittens over the grey pleats on her matching coat.
Elisabeth had no problem with their age difference or that she wouldn’t be leading their relationship ‘ she couldn’t imagine being with Bennett without those factors.’ She just hadn’t spent a lot of time exploring her submissive side and therefore, consistently blushed whenever confronted with those delightful desires.
“And you know the discipline aspect will be quite central to this relationship.’ Perhaps we should chat about that,” Bennett suggested, folding his hands with one elbow leaning on the back of the bench as he crossed one neatly pressed trouser leg over the other.
Elisabeth bit her lip at the corner, not knowing that it was something that made Bennett a little bit weak.’ She was keenly aware of all the subtle things he did which made her weak and giddy, but she hadn’t a clue that whenever she bit her lip, or averted her eyes, or smiled when she looked down that he was thinking how he wanted to kiss her.’ Nothing more.’ Just to kiss her tenderly.
“I’m not very good at talking about that, Sir,” Elisabeth replied, looking up at him with a small grin.
She was shy on the subject and was still acquainting herself with it, whereas Bennett had known for a very, very long time that disciplining his future wife would be a crucial part of their relationship.’ There was an intense attraction to the idea that he could take her straight across his lap for speaking out of tone to him, having an untidy dress or even putting her elbows on the table.’ It was something he’d spent a large portion of every day since adolescence thinking about.
“We don’t have to speak about it if you don’t want to.” ‘He looked to the side slightly to try and catch her eye again.’ “So long as you understand that I won’t hesitate to put you across my knee for behaviour which isn’t agreeable to me,” Bennett told her, in no uncertain tone.
Elisabeth managed to meet his eyes and the sparkle was there, the same one that he’d seen before.’ “Yes, Sir,” she replied shyly, with her demure brown eyes that went straight to his gut.
“Good.”’ He gave her a small smile.
Elisabeth was sure her heart slipped another few inches into the pit of her stomach.’ His words, his expressions, his posture and his smile ‘ seemed to make even her internal organs swoon.
“Bennett?” she asked, with a coy smile forming across her lips.
“Yes?” he asked, sitting confidently with his head facing downward at her.
She could barely look at him because he used that tone of voice.’ The one she loved.’ The ‘I’m in charge all the time’, one.’ “I don’t want to be apart from you,” she admitted and looked up at him sweetly.
Bennett’s always serious face didn’t change, although he nodded for her to slide nearer to him.’ He put one arm around her and held one of her hands with the other.
“I will come to collect you each morning and we’ll spend the day together.’ We’ll only be apart from bedtime until morning,” he told her.
She nodded, but she didn’t like it.
“Do you understand why?” he asked.’
Elisabeth looked up at him.’ “Because you said so?”’
Bennett showed a little smile.’ “That is the first and most important reason,” he said, and then leant down closer to her.’ “The second is because you’re worth it,” he whispered in her ear.
Elisabeth’s lips formed a smile and she leant into Bennett’s suit and coat as if she couldn’t handle looking at him directly.
“We will keep things proper until we are married,” he told her quietly.
Elisabeth’s attention transferred fully to Bennett and she looked up at him with widened eyes as she hid a subtle shudder.’ She couldn’t imagine being loved or wanted enough to get to that point.’ Bennett wasn’t being arrogant by saying until we are married and Elisabeth knew that.’ He’d waited twenty-nine years to give his first kiss away so if that didn’t instill faith in Elisabeth that he was serious and confident in their relationship, nothing would.
“Courting is a special time, Elisabeth,” he said quietly, despite them being in a secluded garden.
Bennett didn’t want to rush their courtship or frighten Elisabeth away, so his leading would be gentle and forward moving in terms of their pace.’ He would kiss Elisabeth hello and goodbye and infrequently at other times, maintaining propriety as the man who held her in the highest regard.’ His restraint and firm leading would be Elisabeth’s reassurance, and that was something she needed plenty of.
“Uncle Brayden will take good care of you until I can do so all of the time.”
Her heart had completely disintegrated by that point.’ She looked up at him, completely smitten, the sparkle in her eye even more apparent.
Bennett turned Elisabeth’s face toward him and they kissed as a light snow gently greeted their affections by falling around them.’