Darcy Hamilton was beyond furious when she catches her fiance, Sheriff Will Davies, kissing Priscilla Clemons! She and Priscilla had never liked each other, and Darcy wasn’t about to let Will try to explain his actions. Instead, she added her name to the ballot for the election of Sheriff in the small town of Cactus Hill. She wanted to humiliate Will and teach him a good lesson in the process.
Will was furious with Darcy for doing something so dangerous, and he knows that if she is elected, and word got out, every criminal within a hundred miles would consider Cactus Hill an easy target since there was a female Sheriff! Will was positive that a good spanking would get the feisty redhead’s attention for a good talking to, but unfortunately, the town’s nosy newspaperman was there to interview her and he witnessed the spanking, and then reported it to the entire town! Will Darcy get elected, and if she does, how will Will react?
Cactus Hill, Texas
“Hear tell you got some competition in this here comin’ up election, Sheriff?” Harley Forbes asked with his toothless grin as he sauntered out of the Bonnie Jane Saloon just as Will was making his afternoon rounds.? It was still early and the Saloon wouldn’t get rowdy and rambunctious until after suppertime.? Harley and a few of his old cronies could be found inside most afternoons playing cards and swapping stories.
“That so, Harley?? No one told me that anyone else was interested in the job?”? Could be that Harley was joking, or the man could be serious.? With the old-timer, it was sometimes hard to tell.
“Guess no one but me is fool enough to tell you, son.”
“Tell me what?”
“That girl of yours is runnin’ against you!? She’s claimin’ all over town that she’ll make a better Sheriff than you!”? Harley cackled, and then shook his head, almost losing his old battered hat in the process.? “Don’t that beat all?”
“It sounds just like something Darcy would do,” Will muttered angrily.? “Let her run.? If folks are stupid enough to vote for that impossible redhead, then they deserve what they get!”? He stomped off down the street, trying not to let his temper show.
“Yep, that boy done got steam comin’ out his ears, Jasper,” Harley muttered, rubbing his mule’s ears.? “That is one foolish little gal!”
* * * * *
“Are you out of your mind, Darshana?” the elderly woman asked from where she sat in her wheelchair looking out the glass French doors over her rose garden. Miss Eleanor spent a lot of time in the front parlor enjoying the meticulously tended gardens that grew right outside. She savored watching the birds, too, and they were naturally drawn to all the different flowers that were planted for her enjoyment.
“I am going to get even with Will Davies if it is the very last thing I do, Gram! He embarrassed me in front of the entire town, and now I will embarrass him in front of the town!”
“But, child, think about this logically for a moment,” Eleanor Hamilton suggested in a frail voice. ?“What if you somehow get elected?” Her granddaughter was barely five feet tall, and she didn’t weigh a hundred pounds soaking wet!
“All the better, Gram,” Darcy insisted.
“For whom, child?? For yourself? Or will you be putting the entire town at risk?” Her granddaughter wasn’t seeing the whole picture.? Her feelings were hurt, but instead of admitting it, she allowed her temper to take over and come up with a plan that could prove dangerous to the entire town of Cactus Hill.
“How could I be putting the town at risk, Gram?? Nothing ever happens here!”
“Have you considered the possibility that it is Will’s reputation that keeps us safe from criminals?” Eleanor asked, and then coughed into her lace-trimmed handkerchief.
“Gram, you shouldn’t be worrying about this,” Darcy said.? “I think I should call Louisa and have her take you to your room for a nap.”
“Yes, I am feeling quite done in.? Darshana?”? She called after Darcy.? “Please reconsider this foolishness before you create a dangerous situation for yourself and the entire town.? Will is suited to be a lawman.? You are not.”
Anxious to calm her grandmother, Darcy nodded.? “I’ll do as you ask and give the situation some serious thought.? Now, let me find Louisa.”? She hurried from the parlor and found Louisa in Eleanor’s downstairs’ bedroom, changing the sheets on the bed.? The twenty-nine year old woman looked up when Darcy walked into the pretty room.
“Yes, Miss Darcy?”
“Gram is tired, Louisa, and she needs a nap.? Let me give you a hand with this,” she offered, and the two of them quickly had the linens changed on the bed. “I’ll take the pile of dirty laundry to the back porch, Louisa, if you want to go and get Gram.”
“That would be helpful, Miss Darcy.” The young woman was very wealthy, but she wasn’t a bit spoiled, to Louisa’s amazement.
“We appreciate all you do for us, Louisa.? You are wonderful with Gram, and you always know what to do.”
“I am a nurse,” Louisa said with a pretty smile, pleased by the compliment.
“We’re so lucky that Doctor Grayson was able to hire you for Gram.” Darcy meant the words.? She did as much as she could for her elderly grandmother, but Louisa knew best how to care for Gram’s special needs.
Louisa just smiled, but she was the one who was lucky.? The request from Doctor Grayson came when she needed it most. Malachi was out of prison and searching for her? even though she’d divorced him.? She’d taken the reward money she got for turning him in and invested it in nursing school.? She hoped never to see Malachi again!? She was happy here with Miss Eleanor and Miss Darcy, and Doctor Grayson gave his word to keep her real identity a secret.? Yes, she was the lucky one, and she would do anything for these wonderful people who made her feel worthwhile again!?
“You need to lie down for a while, Miss Eleanor?” she asked the elderly woman, giving her a smile.
“Yes, Louisa.? I am feeling rather tired today.? I am pretty sure it is worry causing me to feel this way, but I’m not able to think clearly right now, and I just don’t know what to do with that headstrong granddaughter of mine.”
“She is a very nice young woman,” Louisa dared to say as she gently pushed the wheelchair out of the parlor and toward the back of the house where Eleanor’s bedroom was located.
“Oh, she is nice? until you make her angry, and then she loses all common sense to try to repay in kind.? That is the problem now.? She saw Will kissing Priscilla Clemons.? She and Priscilla have disliked each other since before they started first grade!? The fact that Will was engaged to Darshana at the time he kissed Priscilla felt like he was cheating on her.”
“That doesn’t sound like something Sheriff Davies would do,” Louisa said, frowning.
“No, it doesn’t.? But, that hotheaded granddaughter of mine wouldn’t give the man a chance to explain.? She just took off his mother’s ring, threw it at him, and told him the engagement is off.? Darshana can be unreasonable at times.”
“How did she get such an unusual name?” Louisa asked, doing her best to change the subject.
“Oh.? I lived in India as a child and my best friend’s name was Darshana.? When my daughter-in-law died in childbirth, my son was very distraught, and he got on his horse and didn’t return for three years.? I named the baby Darshana to honor my childhood friend.? When my son finally returned, he promptly nicknamed the little one Darcy, and to my displeasure, the nickname stuck.? I am the only one who calls Darshana by her given name, to her relief, I might add.” She smiled as she admitted that to Louisa.
“I am sure that Miss Darcy is honored you gave her that pretty name, Miss Eleanor.”?
The elderly woman was barely clinging to life, and Doctor Grayson warned Louisa when she took the job that it could be a week or two, or as long as a year.? He had no way of knowing for sure, but Miss Eleanor was in her nineties, and if not for Miss Darcy, he felt Eleanor would have given up long ago.? When Darcy’s father was killed in a hunting accident right after he came home, Darcy was only three years old.? Eleanor completely took over raising the child, and she clung to her life to keep from leaving Darcy alone at such a tender age.
Darcy loved music, and when she was most upset, she found that sitting at the piano and playing helped her soothe her soul.? It comforted her as nothing, but her dear Gram, could ever do.? She was so hurt that Will Davies would turn to Priscilla Clemons and then kiss her in front of so many people!? Why would he ask her to marry him and then take up with Priscilla?? Will knew how she felt about that blonde witch!?
There was a knock at the front door, and since Greta was out shopping, she knew she was the one to answer the summons.? Through the window, she could make out Waldo Phares standing on the front porch.? She pasted a smile she didn’t feel on her face and then opened the front door.? “Well, hello, Waldo.? What brings you here today?” she asked, although she already knew.
“Miss Darcy, first of all, is it true that you are running for Sheriff against present Sheriff, Will Davies?”? Waldo Phares owned the one and only newspaper in Cactus Hill, and he truly looked like a reporter.? He wore glasses that were constantly sliding down on his long nose, and his gray eyes were always probing and prying into folks’ private business.
“Why, yes, Waldo, that is true. I am running for Sheriff,” she admitted, reminding herself that she wanted the free publicity his paper would provide.? “Would you like to come inside and have a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade?” she offered, every inch the lady she was raised to be.
“I would like that just fine, Miss Darcy.”
“I believe you know the way into the parlor?? Have a seat and I’ll return in a few moments with the lemonade.”? He eagerly nodded and hurried into the parlor, probably snooping for all he was worth, as any good reporter would do.? Darcy hurried to the kitchen and took the lemonade from the brand new wooden icebox.? She put the pitcher and two glasses on a tray, and then added a plate of ginger cookies.? Darcy slowly made her way back to the parlor and put the tray on a serving table.
“I haven’t had cold lemonade in a while, Miss Darcy.? This is a real treat,” Waldo told her after taking a sip from his glass.? “And ginger cookies are the best.? Thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Waldo.? You are here to ask about my run for Sheriff?” she asked.
“Yes, I am.? Unless you object to questions?”? And if she did object, that would make for a good interview, too.? The town would wonder what she was trying to hide.? Waldo waited on her answer.
“No, I would love to answer questions,” Darcy said with a smile as she picked up the plate of cookies and offered Waldo one while trying to decide what to say that would put Will in the worst possible light.? “I decided to run for the office of Sheriff when I realized that Will Davies is not the man he would have everyone believe he is.”
“He’s been the Sheriff here for five years, Miss Darcy, and most everyone thinks he’s done a fine job of it.”
“They haven’t had the misfortune of getting to know him as I have,” she stated bluntly.? “He is not a man of his word.? He does not keep the promises he makes.”
“There are rumors going around that you are running against him because he broke off your engagement.? Is this true?”? Waldo was a reporter through and through, and he didn’t hesitate to ask the difficult questions, even if he personally thought they were tactless.
“For the record, Waldo, I am the one who ended our engagement,” she stated with emphasis, correcting him.? “Will Davies was cheating on me with Priscilla Clemons, and half the town saw them kissing on the street a couple of weeks ago!? I ask you, is a man who cheats someone you would want for your Sheriff?? I have the best interests of the town in my heart.? I feel it is time for William Percival Davies to leave town.”
“‘Percival’ is what the P stands for?”? Waldo asked, doing his best to hide a grin as he took notes.? That was a question many folks had asked, and Davies always made up some humorous answer that distracted the one who asked.? Waldo himself had taken a lot of ribbing over his ‘sissy-fied’ name, so he understood why Will didn’t want to admit to the name Percival.? However, it was news, and he was a reporter.? It was no small wonder that Will hid the name since it didn’t sound like a name a lawman would have.
All of a sudden, there was an abrupt knocking on the front door and Darcy silently cursed Will’s timing.? She’d been longing for a confrontation with her ex-fianc?, but she didn’t particularly want it to happen in front of the town’s newspaperman.? She gracefully excused herself and headed for the door, intending to send Will on his way until she was finished with her interview.
“Go away, Will! As usual, your timing is off.”? She could see he was angry, but since he’d never been rough with her, she certainly wasn’t afraid of him.? To her shock, he took her arm and gently pushed her inside the large foyer and closed the front door behind him. Then he pulled her behind him and into the front parlor.? In the next instant he seated himself on the settee she’d occupied just moments ago, and jerked her face-down over his knee and started spanking her? hard!? “What do you think you are doing, Will Davies?” she shrieked, angry and embarrassed at the same time.
“Something your Gram should have done when you were a spoiled child so that you wouldn’t grow up to be the spoiled brat of a woman you are!”? Will continued spanking her, barely taking note that Waldo was sitting in a chair across from them, his gray eyes open wide behind his thick glasses, watching every spank with great interest, but doing nothing at all to stop Will.
“You let me go!”? Darcy angrily demanded, kicking her feet and trying to push herself off of Will’s lap, but his left arm was wrapped securely around her small waist, and there was no way she was going to get free until he released her.? His hand was like a board, and she could feel every last spank through all the layers of petticoats she was wearing!? It hurt a lot, and she was afraid she was going to cry! “Damn you, Will, stop this right now!” she yelled loudly.
“What in the name of hell do you think you are doing by running for Sheriff, little girl?? Do you have any idea of how dangerous it is to wear a badge?? It makes you a target for every drifter and outlaw within a hundred miles of here!? I won’t allow you to risk your life like that!? And, no man in his right mind is going to vote for a female who doesn’t even know how to use a gun with proficiency!”
“I do too know how to use a gun!” she argued.? “I always hit my target!”? She was insulted when he kept right on spanking her bottom, which was burning and growing hotter by the second!? “Let me go, Will! You are hurting me!” she accused.
“Good,” he replied.? “That is my intention, Miss Hamilton!” he answered her and then continued with his scolding. “You can’t talk a drunk like Sid Schaeffer into walking over to the jail and locking himself inside a cell every Saturday night!? He’s a mean drunk, little girl, and he’ll break your jaw!”?
The spanking continued with determination to see it through to the end, and Will’s exasperation with her was expressed in an elemental way.? “This whole election thing is nothing more than an attempt to embarrass me in front of the entire town, and I won’t have it, Darcy Hamilton.? Stop making a fool of yourself.”? He ended the spanking with one final spank, and then got to his feet, sending her tumbling to the floor in a whirl of petticoats.
“Ow!”? Darcy cried out in pain as her bottom met the floor with a hard thump.? She scrambled to get to her feet, fully prepared to give Will Davies a piece of her mind, but he was already out the door!? “Oh, damn you, Will Davies!” she muttered, stomping her foot in pure temper, and then reaching back to gingerly rub her stinging backside.? She’d had no idea at all that a spanking could hurt so much! ?And she couldn’t believe that Will would do something so horrible to her.? He couldn’t possibly love her at all if he was willing to inflict pain upon her person. No wonder Gram hadn’t resorted to spanking when Darcy was a child, it was barbaric!
“Are you alright, Miss Darcy?” Waldo asked sympathetically as he realized she would be furious with him for not stopping the Sheriff from spanking her.? “I should have stopped him, but frankly, I didn’t know how.” He also didn’t want to get on the lawman’s bad side.? Waldo was basically a coward, and he freely admitted it.? “I’m truly sorry, Miss Darcy,” he added.
Darcy couldn’t believe that she’d forgotten Waldo was in the same room!? Her cheeks flooded with color and she decided she was going to make Will Davies’ life a living hell!? How dare he treat her so shabbily in front of the reporter!? “Now do you see what I mean, Waldo?? If Will would beat me for running for office, what would he do to a man?”
* * * * *
Editorial April 7, 1871
When I heard that Miss Darcy Hamilton was opposing Sheriff Will Davies in the upcoming election, I had to smile, thinking it was just another rumor involving these two hotheaded people.? But, to my surprise, Miss Hamilton confirmed the rumor was indeed true.? I just happened to be interviewing Miss Hamilton when Sheriff Davies came by to discuss the election with her.? He resorted to putting Miss Hamilton over his knee right in front of me and spanking her, while scolding her for daring to add her name to the ballot!? I wonder if the Sheriff would spank anyone else for opposing him in the election?
* * * * *
“Oh, Darshana!”? Eleanor exclaimed in horror as she finished reading the editorial in the weekly edition of the Cactus Hill Advocate.? “What is the meaning of this?” She offered the paper to her granddaughter.
Darcy took the paper and read the editorial in disbelief.? Nothing that Waldo wrote was accurate.? He didn’t say one word about Will cheating on her.? And, all he focused on was the mortifying experience she hoped to forget!? Now everyone in town would know that Will spanked her like she was some naughty little girl.? It was humiliating.
“Waldo was here when Will Davies came by and assaulted me!” Darcy whispered angrily.? “I asked Waldo not to tell what Will did, but he just couldn’t resist!? I’m going to give him a piece of my mind, too!? And Will?? He needs to be horsewhipped!”
“Darshana, I am not amused by this unladylike display.? This whole election thing is just not acceptable behavior, and I must insist you withdraw at once.”? Eleanor was using her firm voice.
“Gram, I love you with all my heart, but now I have no choice but to follow through and run against Will Davies.? Someone has to teach him a lesson, and that someone is going to be me.”
“You are going to be the one learning a lesson, and a hard lesson at that!” Eleanor predicted.? She reached for her bell and daintily rang it to call for Greta.?
“Yes, Miss Eleanor?” Greta came into the dining room to inquire as to what the elderly lady needed.
“I am going to write a note that I wish to have delivered to Waldo Phares at the newspaper office.? Would you mind dropping it off when you are running errands today?” she asked politely as she always did.?
Eleanor was not a snob.? She might be exceedingly wealthy, but that wasn’t always the case. As a child, she remembered working a garden and praying the vegetables it produced would last through the long winter so they wouldn’t all starve to death.? As it was, there was seldom enough to eat on the table.? She was just plain Ellie back then, and it was her dear husband who took her from poverty to work beside him and build a fortune that Darshana would inherit soon.? Eleanor never forgot where she came from, and she treated everyone with respect, even if they didn’t really deserve that respect.? Waldo Phares had no right to tell something so personal about Darshana and Will, and she was going to insist he print an apology!
“Gram, please, let me fight my own battles.? I’m a grown woman now.” Darcy was dismayed that her precious Gram was so upset.? Her target was Will Davies, not Gram!? “Please, Gram.? I will handle Waldo.? I am a grown woman,” she repeated.
“A grown woman who aggravated the man who loves her so much that he resorted to spanking her in front of another man?? That doesn’t sound grown up to me, child.? It sounds as though the two of you are behaving like children in need of discipline.? You are to take your name off that ballot, Darshana Elizabeth Hamilton.? Do you hear me?”
“Yes, Gram.”? She felt tears stinging her eyes and she tried hard not to cry.
“Fine.? Do it at once!”? It was unlike Eleanor to send anyone away from her table, but she was upset with Darcy.
“Yes, Gram.”? Darcy got to her feet and left the dining room in tears.? Will might have spanked her bottom until she was stinging and in pain, but it was Gram who brought her to tears just by sending her from the breakfast table.
* * * * *
Waldo looked up from his desk when the bell on the door tinkled, alerting him, that someone came in.? Hoping it was someone wanting to place an advertisement, he got to his feet.? Somehow, he wasn’t surprised to see Will Davies standing there, an angry expression on his face.? “That spanking was private between Darcy and me, Phares!? You had no right to put it in your damn paper. I am sure Darcy is mortified and embarrassed, and it will be hard for her to show her face in town after what you wrote.”? He didn’t like the way he was portrayed, either.? He didn’t spank Darcy because of his desire to win the election, but because he didn’t want criminals coming to Cactus Hill thinking there was a female Sheriff they could bully and abuse and get away with it.? Their bank would be a prime target for outlaws, too!? Will genuinely cared about the people in town, and protecting them was his job.
“You are wrong, Davies,” Waldo insisted.? “You and Miss Darcy are news.? When she added her name to the ballot, Miss Darcy gave up the right to keep her personal life private. People are interested in this election, and they want to know the entire story behind the feud between you two.”
“There is no feud.” Will never once considered the way Darcy ended their engagement as a feud.? She was acting like a spoiled brat, and a hot-tempered redhead who refused to listen to reason, and he wasn’t about to try to explain himself to her when she was acting so snippy with him.? He should have hauled her over his knee for throwing his mother’s ring at him like that!? It took him over an hour of searching to find it, too.
“Miss Darcy sure isn’t happy with you for kissing Priscilla Clemons.”
“I didn’t kiss her,” Will said through clenched teeth.
“May I quote you?”? Waldo asked with a smile.