The Wife He Corrected

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Joni uprooted her life to move to Clearwater for her sister’s safety, but now her sister is safe. Hank is her next door neighbor and almost her best friend. But, sometimes he just irritates the heck out of her and she doesn’t know how to handle it, except to flounce away. He was too perfect! Who could deal with that? Hank figures out how to deal with it.

Hank Thompson loves where he lives and his job, and he is besotted with the girl next door. She’s a spitfire and beautiful, they’ve become almost best friends. He wants more, but he can’t figure out how to make her feel safe and secure. Until he does.

This is book five, the final, in the Clearwater Romance series and can be enjoyed independently.

Publisher’s Note: This contemporary romance has elements of mystery, suspense, sensual scenes, and power exchange. If any of these offend you, please do not purchase.

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Sample Chapter

Joni Sinclair leaned against her sometimes boyfriend as he drove the huge rental truck back home. They’d just been in Zephyrhills, Missouri for a week. The two of them helped move her sister and fiancé into their new apartment and then attended their wedding. She was ready to be home, but couldn’t help asking, “Hank, are we really leaving her there?”

“Are you going to cry again?” Hank asked, reaching in his pocket.

“I might,” she grabbed the tissue he offered. “It just feels wrong to be so far away from Beth.”

“I met all Nick’s family. I spent time with them and talked to them. She’s going to be safe. Dropped in at the police station with him and we made sure they know what’s going on. Nick has friends who work there, too. She’s going to be in a bubble of safety.” His tone felt so reassuring and for some reason that annoyed her a little.

“I know,” Joni tried not to complain. She wasn’t complaining. She was rightfully worried about her sister. It was her job. “But I’ve done it for three years now. It feels like I’m neglecting my duties or something.”

“Joni, you aren’t her mother. She has a husband and a new family who will take care of her. You can take care of yourself now.”

“I’m fine,” she snapped at him. “I already take care of myself!” He could be so sweet, but so insufferable. It was a long way to get back to Clearwater though, so she didn’t want to pick a fight with him just yet. It would happen though, she knew, before they got too close. And he just let it. Let her. It had been very sweet of him to take a week out of his life to help her family. How many people would do that? She grabbed her phone from her pocket and texted Beth, “Are you doing fine?”

“All good, don’t worry. At the airport, getting ready to board the plane for New Orleans. Honeymoon time!”

Joni sighed and put her phone down.

“What’s wrong?” Hank asked.

“Nothing,” she said, trying her best to keep her tone civil.

“Why don’t you try to take a nap?” he said. “It will be about three more hours till we get home.”

“Yeah, a nap is what I need,” she said, leaning back in her seat and realized he was all she had. Well, not really. He wasn’t hers. He seemed happy with their on again, off again relationship. She wasn’t. But she wasn’t sure what she wanted. Hank was perfect. That was the entire problem.

The man was literally perfect. It was so annoying.

He was gorgeous, tall, dark brown hair, gray-blue eyes that sparkled when he shot her a devastating smile that made butterflies in her stomach and made her want things she’d never wanted before. He taught middle school like she did, he was a Master Gardener, which she wasn’t. He baked better bread and cake than professionals could. He cooked and, of course, his grill skills were out of this world. He volunteered to coach Peewee football on top of coaching the junior high team that was part of his job. He was writing a freaking novel. Who does that? As a big brother to his sister, her friend, Ellie, he aced it. He could fix things, he walked his elderly neighbor’s dog, and never lost his temper. How could anyone measure up to that? It just wasn’t possible, and to top it all off, he was nice. So aggravatingly nice, even when she wasn’t.

He did nothing when she threw tantrums, or jumped out of the car, or stormed out of a dinner. Nothing! Just let her be for a few hours or days, then brought her candy, flowers or chocolate and considered it over. And she always let him back in. What was with that? She was tired of living like that, but he seemed to want to do nothing about it. Sometimes she just wanted a little reaction out of him. Why did he just let her walk away from him repeatedly? Did he not care about her enough? Was she just convenient? Handy? Did he sigh, all relieved, when she stormed off and thought, ‘don’t have to deal with that for a few days’ until he wanted, well, what did he want?

***

Hank Thompson looked over at Joni as she seemed to drift off to sleep. Or fumed. He wasn’t sure which. It didn’t matter. He needed to get her home before she jumped out the truck and ran away. Keeping her safe was important, even though it was Beth who’d been in danger. He’d keep a close eye on her, though just in case the scum bag lurking around town decided not to take Beth leaving well. They hadn’t announced it but word got around. Scumbag Eli’s new girlfriend was Miranda and her brother Ben was engaged to Jordyn, who was Joni’s good friend. It seemed a far connection but rumors flew in small towns like Clearwater. He needed to keep an eye on Joni and figure out what they were doing. What were they doing?

They’d been on and off again for a couple years now. For a genius, as his sister Ellie told him, sometimes he sure could be dumb. He glanced at her again. She looked like a little angel sleeping, or fuming, there, with her strawberry blonde hair fanned out across the truck seat. Above her adorable little nose, sprinkled with very faint freckles that she always tried to hide, her pretty blue eyes were closed. He had no doubt he was going to marry her one day, once he figured her out. That was the key, though, trying to find out how her little brain ticked. Grinning, he thought, he just might have found the key. They’d find out this next week or so. Find out together. It would work or it wouldn’t and either way, he would have at least tried something, because what he was doing now, wasn’t working.

He’d gone to Nick’s bachelor party while they were in Nick’s hometown for the wedding. Nick’s brother and friends all taught him a few things about handling women. He’d known these things, but really, while some of these were a part of him, part of how he actually felt, he also knew, you just couldn’t do that anymore. Women were equal, more than equal, he knew and you had to treat them as such. That wasn’t the issue. The issue was Joni didn’t seem happy getting away with the things she did. If she wasn’t pleased with the outcome, getting some reward for it, she wouldn’t keep doing the same things repeatedly that made her, and him, upset. He knew she didn’t like acting like that, throwing fits like a child, but couldn’t seem to help herself.

While she wasn’t a true redhead like her sister Beth, or Moriah who worked at the bakery on the square, she had a short temper. Really, he doubted hair color had much to do with temper anyway, though he’d never read a study on it, one way or another. Now, when she was teaching, she had a limitless supply of patience. The kids and parents adored her and she excelled at her job. She’d been in town about three or four years now, and had a huge circle of friends, including his sister Ellie. Ellie’s group of friends were mostly people she’d known since kindergarten, and now Joni, who fit in as if she had always lived there. He never heard a word about Joni throwing fits with them. In fact, she was the stable one, the calm, mature one.

However, when they were alone, the woman would go off like a firecracker, and sometimes he didn’t even know what caused it. But she was soon going to find out what cured it.

Did he dare? Well, they couldn’t keep on going the way they were. He was tired of not knowing where he stood, or what she was upset about. He knew she could control her temper everywhere but with him. He had to dare, had to change the dynamic and hopefully for the better.

Today, though, he just needed to get her home. It had been a very stressful week for her, seeing her sister, her best friend, get married and moving and both happening in less than a month. Who got married in a month? But that had been what Beth and Nick wanted, and they made it happen, with a lot of help from Joni. She had to be exhausted, physically and mentally. He felt lucky she hadn’t taken his head off, out of sheer stress.

A couple hours later, he reached over and patted her knee. “Almost there, baby, if you want to wake up.”

She wiggled in her sleep, and he thought she looked like a sweet little kitten. Then, of course, one who turned into a howling bobcat. Sighing, she sat up, rubbing her eyes and yawning and smiled. “I guess I slept.”

“I guess you did,” he said. “I’m glad. You needed it.”

“I guess,” she said. “It has been a long week. Oh, it’s raining!”

“Has been for about an hour,” he agreed. “And now, look, you have a brand new life ahead of you. You can do anything you want to the house, only worry about you.” He tried to sound encouraging.

“I know that,” she snapped at him, her kitten side hissing at him. “I know. That doesn’t make me worry less about my sister.” He could hear her voice rising and decided to change the subject.

“We’re almost at the rental place. We’ll return the truck, grab the car and you’ll be home in less than half an hour. Won’t it be nice to sleep in your own bed tonight?”

“Of course it will, we’ve been gone a week.” She folded her arms and stared out the window.

Hank sighed. So she was in that mood. Well, he’d just let her be. Pulling into the rental’s parking lot, he pulled the truck next to where his car had been parked, and quickly unloaded their bags from the back, with Joni’s help. They both got soaked, the rain coming down in sheets. She yelped once when the thunder cracked, but didn’t say anything. They climbed in the car, soaked, and drove up to the office door where he dropped the truck keys in the overnight box.

Getting back in the car, he wiped his face and asked, “Want to hit a drive-thru before we go home?” He could eat. Wet or dry.

She shook her head, without speaking and he half grinned. At least she knew better than to jump out of the car in the rain. “Well, I do. I’m too tired to cook.”

Joni looked back from where she’d been staring out the window. “Thank you for coming with me, and being a rock all week. I know I can get grouchy but I really do appreciate you.”

Just when he’d thought he’d heard it all. “I’m glad I could be there for you,” he said, then placed his order at the speaker.

“It’s getting cold,” she shivered

“You’d think it was fall,” he said. “Almost winter.” Reaching over, he turned the heater up a little for her and added the heated seat for her side. “Better?”

She nodded and he felt bad, wishing he could just tuck her into bed. Instead he handed her the extra sack of fries he’d ordered. “Here you go.”

“I said I didn’t want anything,” she said, but took it from him.

“You’re welcome,” he said, as mildly as he could. Now was not the time to start the new regime. She’d been pushed to her breaking point.

They headed down the streets of Clearwater and once again he marveled at how much he loved this little town. He couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Growing up here had been picture perfect and one day he hoped his grandkids would come here to visit and maybe settle down. He’d take them to the parks, and to the lake, the local ball games. and wander through the adorable little downtown square. First he needed some kids, before those mythical grandkids showed up, though.

Glancing over to where Joni seemed fascinated by the rain, while methodically eating the fries she didn’t want, he opened his mouth to say, well, what? Instead he took a bite of his burger, and realized suddenly how hungry he’d been. After wolfing it down, he pulled into her driveway, which was right next door to his house. They had built a gate in the back yard fence a few years back, to make running back and forth easier. With the rain still sheeting down, you couldn’t see either of the gardens, but really, all he cared about was getting her inside and putting her to bed. She probably didn’t want him to stay. After a week together, she needed her space. So did he, honestly. He itched to get on his computer and do some research on what the Kinkirk clan, as he thought of them, had talked about.

“Got your keys?” he asked her.

“No, I was just going to walk through the wall,” she snapped and he shook his head. Wouldn’t be long and they’d be having a discussion about her tone. Feeling half tempted to just grab his bags and head home and let her struggle with her own, he told himself that wasn’t what a gentleman did. His mom had raised him right. No matter how tempting it was to let her attitude rub off on him, he just opened his door and grabbed her suitcase from one side while she grabbed two smaller ones from her side and they both rushed across the deck, to the door. He waited while she fumbled with the keys, they walked in and she quickly disarmed the alarm. “Don’t forget to turn that back on,” he said.

“Yes, Daddy,” she said, dropping her bags on the kitchen table. “Thanks, again, Hank. I’m going to take a shower and go to bed.”

He bit his tongue not to ask if he could join her. Instead he leaned over and kissed her still wet cheek. “You sleep well, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

With that he went back out into the rain.

***

Joni watched him go and yawned, then reset the alarm and made sure her phone had synced up with the camera system. Yup. all was normal. She controlled the urge to call or text Beth again. Beth was fine. Beth was on her honeymoon with her hunky new husband. She did not want her sister bugging her. Who would?

She grabbed her bags and headed up to her bedroom. A hot shower and bed sounded wonderful right now. Halfway wishing that Hank would have insisted on staying tonight, she was also glad he wasn’t here. In the mood she was in, she’d be snapping at him again. He didn’t deserve that.

Sighing, she stood in the shower letting the hotter than warm water sluice over her. It did feel good to be home. But what did home really mean anymore? This was their grandmother’s house. She and Beth and Sydney for a short time, had moved here over three years ago. She’d left a job she loved, in a city she adored to move to this town. Sure, it was a great little town, and her new job was wonderful. Teaching middle school was always fun and full of surprises. She had a large group of friends. She was getting together with several of them tomorrow for a late lunch which would be fun. Naturally she adored this house where her grandparents had lived. Hobbies, there were a few, her garden, reading, baking, helping Ellie at her events, but yet, there was something missing and she couldn’t quite put her finger on it. Now that Beth had left, what was left here in town for her? Her job and the bills that needed to be paid. Well, that settled that, now didn’t it? Gotta get those bills paid.

After drying off, she slipped into her robe and headed downstairs and looked in Beth’s office. Beth’s old office, where she had spent most of her days and many nights until Nick came into her life and whisked her away from here. It looked sparse, empty and forlorn. What would she do with it? She didn’t have to decide tonight. Tonight, she was just going to bed.

Hearing her phone beep as she plugged it in, she saw that Hank had sent her a good night text. Sighing, she turned her phone over and turned down her bed covers. She’d spent the week with him, he didn’t need to hear from her for a while. It would be best for the both of them, for tonight at least.

***

“Where’s Lucy?” Joni asked Ellie as they walked into Baking Memories together.

“On her way. She went home to let the dogs out for a minute on her way here,” Ellie said, shifting the box in her arms. “She can’t wait to hear about Beth’s wedding.”

“Hi, Jordyn!” Joni said. “Smells good in here.”

“Thanks, I like it,” Jordyn said. “Welcome home, we missed you!”

“It’s good to be home.” She watched as Jordyn took her apron off and turned to Moriah. “I’m going to take that break now. If you need me, you know where to find me.”

“I’ll be fine!” the pretty young redhead told her. “You enjoy your friends.”

“Make sure those cupcakes for the Coopers get finished, if you get time.”

“Will do,” she said. “Have fun!”

“Let’s go to the tasting room,” Jordyn said. Joni smiled. She liked that cozy little room and noticed, as they walked in, Jordyn had it set up already with four place settings, a pitcher of something, she couldn’t tell what, wraps of some kind and a large platter of cookies.

“Oh, Jordyn, this looks great,” Joni said, noticing Ellie put her box on the table unpacking four fruit salads. “I feel bad I didn’t bring anything now.”

“You brought the gossip,” Ellie told her. “But don’t say anything till Lucy gets here or she’ll never forgive us.”

They sat down on the comfortable chairs as they heard the bell tinkle at the front door and a cheery call of, “Hello, baby sister, long time no see!”

“Hi, Lucy! Your friends are in the tasting room,” they heard Moriah say and a few seconds later, Lucy popped her purple head through the door with a big take out box of pasta salads that she plopped on the table.

“Hey, everybody!” she said. “Hope I’m not late. Gypsy did not want to go outside this afternoon!”

“It is a little chilly and windy and still damp after yesterday’s rain. I love your hair!”

“I do, too! Plus Max thinks it’s too over the top which makes me like it even better. Nothing more fun than getting a rise out of his stodgy self once in a while!” Lucy said and started dishing salads out into the bowls that Jordyn had set out. “Jordyn, this looks great. I’m starving!”

“Looks like there’s plenty,” Jordyn said, as Ellie passed the platter of wraps. Soon they were all settled with food and drinks, and Ellie said, “Okay, Joni, we’re ready! Let’s hear all about the wedding week!”

“Oh, it was so much fun,” Joni said. “Well, most of it. We loaded up some of her furniture to move. They’re renting an apartment for now, till they find a house, and we got her stuff in. Nick and his brothers had already cleared his cabin out here in town.”

“He has brothers? Are they as hot as he is?” Lucy asked.

“Lucy! What would Max think!” Ellie scolded.

“Oh, he knows he’s my one and only,” Lucy said, “but my eyes still work and you all have to admit that Nick Kinkirk is a hottie.”

They all nodded and Joni giggled. “He actually has four brothers, all single,” she said. “And a whole slew of cousins, all of them hotter than the rest. There seems to be a preponderance of hot males in that town. In fact, it seemed most of the little kids running around were male too. Must be something in the water!”

Lucy fanned herself. “Oh my. Zephyrhills must be a really fun place to visit!”

“It was,” Joni agreed. “It’s gorgeous over there. The town is about half the size of Clearwater, and is surrounded by these small rolling hills, and lots of lakes, and well, in the fall, it was breathtaking. It seemed safe and secluded and like its own little island on land.”

“So you got her set up in her apartment,” Ellie said. “Then?”

“Let’s see. Nick’s mom, Molly threw her a little bridal shower, and she got to meet all her new friends and neighbors, and some cousins’ wives and things. She’s going to be surrounded by people who will take care of her.”

“That is so good,” Ellie said. “I was worried about her going off to a strange town with no one around.”

Joni nodded. “It was hard to leave her, but she is going to have lots of protection there. Hank went to Nick’s bachelor party and said after meeting everyone he wasn’t worried about her anymore. You know how protective Hank is of her.”

Lucy sighed. “That’s so good. I’m really happy to hear that. So the wedding?”

“The wedding was held in the church where Nick’s folks got married and Nick and his brothers were all baptized,” Joni started.

“Oh, I think that is so sweet,” Jordyn said. “What a family history!”

“It was a gorgeous little church all thick stone and stained glass,” Joni said. “Then they had a reception at a local hotel, which was a lot of fun. Hank and I danced all night.”

“All those dancing lessons that Mom dragged us to worked for him,” Ellie said. “Me, I still have two left feet, but I just follow while Mike leads, so it works.”

“When would you have time to go dancing?” Joni teased her. “Anyway, they postponed the honeymoon for a couple days, they want to get settled in. Just headed to New Orleans yesterday, so they are honeymooning as we speak.”

“Did your mom go? And Sydney?” Ellie asked.

Joni nodded. “They did, and Mom brought Beth a wedding dress from one of her fancy Chicago stores, off the rack, that fit her like it was made for her. Sydney and I stood up with her, and Mom walked her down the aisle. Nick’s brothers stood up with him. It was really nice. One of the cousins owns a flower shop and donated flowers as a wedding present, another made the cake. Which, of course, wasn’t as good as yours would have been, Jordyn.”

“Of course not,” Jordyn agreed. “If she had gotten married here in town I would have made her one.”

“I know, but considering the circumstances, we just thought that a small ceremony there would be smarter.” Joni picked up a second wrap and took a bite. She hadn’t eaten since the fries Hank had given her last night.

“Oh, we agree with that,” Ellie said. “But when you and Hank tie the knot, it better be here in town so we can do it up big.”

Joni choked on her mouthful of chicken and crunchy vegetables. “Married! No!”

“Are you two fussing again?” Lucy asked. “Doesn’t that get tiring? You know you always get back together.”

“No, we aren’t fussing,” Joni said. “I was with him for a week though, and while he was a great help, I’m ready for a little alone time.”

“That’s what work is for,” Lucy told her. “Jordyn, who is going to make your wedding cake?”

“I am,” she said. “Who would be better?”

“Set a date yet?” Joni asked.

“We’re thinking late winter, early spring, before summer which is a busy season for us both. Between summer weddings and Ben’s contracting business, summer will be crazy. I’m not even thinking about taking time off during holiday baking season, which has already started to ramp up.”

“Nice thing about being a teacher,” Joni said. “Holidays off. Summers are great, laid back, no worries, no work.”

“Bad thing about working for the government,” Ellie said. “There is no down time, right, Lucy?”

Lucy laughed. “You telling them, Ellie?”

“Telling us what?” Joni asked her.

“Mayor Lydia has decided not to run again, so I am!”

“Are you! Congratulations! This will be so much fun! Sign me up to work on your campaign!” Joni stood up and hugged her. “How excited is Mike?”

Ellie laughed. “What do you think?”

“He supports you in everything you do,” Jordyn said. “You know that.”

“I do, but he has this weird thing about wanting me home and spending time with him.” Ellie rolled her eyes. “Males.”

“They’re funny, aren’t they? Especially your brother,” Joni agreed.

“He adores you, you know,” Ellie said. “I mean, if taking off for a week and helping someone’s sister move isn’t love, I don’t know what is.”

“I know and really, well, it’s complicated,” Joni said and noticed Ellie looking at her sharply. She was Hank’s little sister and while one of her best friends, there were some things you didn’t talk to family about.

“Complicated is never good,” Lucy shook her purple haired head. “That’s one thing I love about Max. I always know right where he stands and right where he wants me standing.”

“Max is a good one,” Ellie agreed. “And so is Ben. Your mountain man is a sweetheart, Jordyn, even if Miranda is his sister.”

“That’s not his fault!” Jordyn said. “Besides, I rarely have to see her and I actually refuse to go anywhere with that new boyfriend of hers. Ben understands that.”

Joni gave a huge shudder at that. Miranda’s boyfriend was the reason her sister had left town. No one but Miranda could stand Eli. “Ugh. I just thought, she will be at your wedding, won’t she?”

“Since she’s about all the family he has, I imagine so. Maybe she will break up with the scum bag before then.”

“We can only hope,” Lucy said, picking up her glass. “Here’s to Jordyn’s fun wedding with no drama!”

“Cheers!” They clinked glasses and took a sip.

“So do you have any big plans now that you’re rattling around that big house all by yourself?” Jordyn asked.

Joni shook her head. “It still doesn’t seem real, you know. Like I’ll pop my head in her office and she’ll be in there pounding away on her computer.”

“Well, it’s only been, what, one day since you got back? You’ll get used to it. Unless you and Hank decide to move in together or something.”

Laughing at that thought, Joni said, “We’d kill each other. Having our own space makes us both happier, I think.”

Lucy shook her head. “That would make me tired. I don’t like volatile.”

“I don’t either,” Joni said. “He’s just so frustrating!”

“Yeah, frustrating isn’t a good way to live,” Ellie agreed. “I know Mike gets frustrated with me sometimes, though he’s pretty patient until he’s not. When he’s done, I know about it!”

“See, Hank doesn’t seem to do that. I can do anything I want and he just lets me. It’s like he doesn’t care enough. I don’t know what I’d want him to do, in any case, but just something, you know?”

Lucy reached over and patted her hand. “I do know. Hope you guys can figure something out, or maybe he just isn’t the one for you.”

“Ugh, don’t say that, Lucy! I want Joni to be my sister!”

“We’re already sisters,” Joni told her. “Me marrying your brother or not won’t change that.”

“Well, it would be more legal or something,” Ellie said, reaching for a cookie. “Lucy and I have to get back to work, but let’s get all the guys and do something at my house next week, okay?”

They all nodded, helped Jordyn clean up and soon Joni was on her way out, heading to the grocery store. She needed to refill some staples before she had to be back at work tomorrow. Hank had already gone back today, they had both used sick and personal days to take off for the move and the wedding and she’d taken an extra day to decompress, or if she’d needed, to stay a little longer with Beth. Beth who did not seem to need her anymore and it was disconcerting to say the very least. This was now her life and she had a good one. She could actually do anything she wanted after the school year ended, but she had no desire to leave Clearwater. Or did she?

Where would she go? To Zephyrhills with Beth and Nick? That would just be odd. Her mom was too settled and fulfilled with work in northern Chicago to be any good company for her, and had her own social life. Well, she assumed she did. Sydney was in her last year of veterinary school and just crazy busy. Besides, who knew where she’d end up after she graduated. Apparently she’d been offered several jobs already. No reason to move close to her.

No, this is where she’d stay, unless like Beth, she met someone and ran off. Half smiling, she thought of Hank. Again. She couldn’t really imagine life without Hank in it. She just needed something more than he could give her. Right now, though, she’d give him supper after his first day back. Picking up some pork chops, she threw them in her cart. It was chilly out, but Hank had been known to grill out in the snow. Chilly wouldn’t stop him. She’d get home and start marinating.

Since Beth had announced she and Nick were getting married and moving, in a month, all she’d done was ruminate and she was getting a little tired of it. How much deep introspection did one woman need? She’d had plenty of it. Maybe they’d just have a fun evening, play some cards, not fight. What were the odds of that?

Slim and none, of course, she found out a few hours later.

***

“We need to talk,” Hank told her as they cleared the dinner dishes.

“Isn’t that the female’s line?” she said, filling the sink with soap and hot water.

“My female doesn’t like to talk,” he said, picking up a dish towel.

“Huh. That’s odd. I wonder why that is? Most females do. Maybe you are hard to talk to?”

He shook his head. “No, I’m sure that’s not it. I give her a lot of space and a lot of room and chances. I try to be a safe place for her, but it doesn’t seem to be making her happy.”

Joni felt her heart beat faster. Was he breaking up with her? It would serve her right. “It doesn’t sound like it’s you, then,” she agreed. “What do you think is wrong with her?”

“Well, I’ve learned a lot this past week while we’ve been gone. Listened to a lot of guy talk.”

Joni rolled her eyes. “I’m sure the sex isn’t the problem I’ve heard rumors you actually overachieve in that department.”

Hank laughed and popped her bottom with the towel, making her squeal and sort of smile despite the sting. Maybe he wasn’t breaking up with her? What was he doing then?

“No, it wasn’t about sex. As you’ve heard the rumors, then you might already know that that isn’t the problem.”

“Then whatever could it be?” she asked him draining the sink and wiping it dry.

“I don’t give her a wall to lean against,” he said.

Joni shook her head. “Well, if I don’t understand what that means, I’m sure your hypothetical female won’t either.”

“She’s not hypothetical, and that’s the problem. I’m sort of in love with her and I’m pretty sure she feels the same about me, but she keeps picking these silly little fights and acting like a child. Any ideas why she’d do that?”

“Because she can?” Joni swallowed hard. Where was he going with this?

“Exactly.” He took her by the arm and moved her to a kitchen chair, and sat her down. “And that ends today.”

He pulled out his chair and sat close to her. “What does that even mean?” she asked, noting her fingers were trembling.

“I’m planning to give her a wall to lean against, shove against and know it will be unmoving and sturdy for her. For you.”

“I’m still very confused. What is this wall for and why am I shoving?” She liked it better when there was the safety net of some other person in this conversation. However weird it sounded.

“You are shoving because the wall keeps moving. You jump out of the car and the wall drives away. You walk out of dinner and the wall pays the bill, let’s you cool off and appeases you. The wall is done with all that. You know how to behave. You are an excellent teacher. You have a large social network. I watched you all week and the only person you snapped at even once was me. It was a very stressful situation and yet, you handled everything, even your mother, with good grace and humor. Then turned around and snapped all over me.”

Yeah. She knew that. Why did she do that? Perfect Hank probably knew.

“Well, since you know everything, explain this to me. Why?”

“Because I let you and because you don’t feel safe with me.”

Joni shook her head. “Henry, that makes no sense at all. Maybe you are the only one I do feel safe with, so I can act out.”

“Are you happy when you have your little tantrums?” he asked.

“I’m unhappy with you and that’s why I’m doing it,” she said. “You can be so frustrating and just make me crazy.”

“So we agree, it’s my behavior that makes you act like you do.”

“Yes!” she said, almost triumphantly. “It is!”

“That’s why I’m changing my behavior.” He crossed his arms and looked at her steadily.

Joni sighed in exasperation. “What does that even mean?” Why was he being so cryptic? The man was a teacher and a literal genius. Surely he could find words to use.

“What part confused you?” He looked at her steadily and once again she marveled at how handsome and hot he was. She could get lost in those eyes. And kissing those lips and, well… Whatever else he decided to do.

“What behavior are you changing?” See, she knew how to use words.

“The behavior that allows you to get away with things and then feel bad about it,” he said.

“Let me? Umm, well, as far as I know, I’m a grown adult who doesn’t need permission to act anyway I choose to act.” She shoved a wisp of hair back away from her eyes where it had strayed.

“You are right, I agree. But what happens if you break the law?”

“Well, if you get caught, you get a ticket, or a fine, or even go to jail. You planning to give me a ticket if I don’t behave to your standards?” She could feel her tone becoming mocking. She didn’t like when she did that. It made her uncomfortable but for some reason he just brought it out of her. No one else did for some reason, just him. Why, now, was the million dollar question.

“No, but you are going to have consequences, if you still think we should be together.”

“Well, of course we should be together,” she snapped again, and tried to soften her tone. “I mean, we enjoy each other, our lifestyles fit, you know, all the usual stuff that we’ve talked about before.”

“I’m going to take steps to make our life together better,” he said. “You know we have talked occasionally about a little more, about being actually together and,” he held his hand up as she started to protest, silencing her, “and we both know we aren’t ready for that yet, right?”

She nodded, heart hammering so fast she hoped it would calm down before it burst as he continued, “So I’ve found a couple ways to deal with it.”

“Deal with what? Your behavior?” She felt even more confused than she had before.

“No, your behavior. Well, both. I’m changing the way I behave to change the way you behave. We both know we aren’t happy like this, so change is starting now.”

“You are irking me with your cryptic comments,” she said and looked over at the stove, wondering when the last time she cleaned the oven was. Probably needed it again. She jerked as he put a large hand on the top of her head, tightened his fingers and moved it so she could look at him. Umm, what was with this?

“You are going to be more than irked in a few minutes,” he said, and let go of her head. “Now. We are both in agreement we want this relationship, right?”

Where had her laid back, take anything man gone? This was not him and she didn’t know why, but it gave her a shiver of excitement. Why not, she should see where this went. What’s the worst that could happen?

“Sure. I mean, I don’t want to break up if that’s what you’re asking.”

“And you agree what we are doing isn’t working as well as it should and that we aren’t as happy as we could be?”

That one was a given. “Yes, I do agree with that.”

“Do you think actions should have consequences?”

“Well, mostly, but sometimes…” her voice trailed off. Where was this going?

“Sometimes, what?” he asked.

Joni shrugged, feeling remarkably like a naughty kid at the principal’s office. It made her feel strange, nervous, yet a little excited and somehow turned on.

“Do you think you should get away with the way you treat me and how you act sometimes when we’re together?” He still had his hand on her head so she couldn’t move and was looking directly into his deep eyes.

She tried to shake her head but his hand wouldn’t let her move it. “Not really,” she admitted. “But, well, sometimes you just frustrate me so much.”

“You don’t think it’s frustrating to me when you throw tantrums like a child?”

“I do not throw tantrums,” she protested, wishing he’d let go of her head.

“What do you call it then?”

“Walking away from the situation before I do or say something I’ll regret,” she admitted. Where was he going with this?

“From now on, your actions are going to have consequences.”

“Like what?” she asked, suddenly fascinated.

“Anytime you throw yourself a little fit–” He finally let go of her head and reached into his jeans pocket and pulled out a quarter. “You know what to do with this?”

This time she shook her now freed head. “Vending machine for coffee?”

“Nope. It’s for your nose.”

“Umm, what?” Now she felt thoroughly confused.

“You take your quarter and go to the closest wall and hold your little nose on it till you calm down. Then you’re going over my knee and I’ll be turning your adorable butt as red as your sister’s hair.”

Joni let out a peal of giggles, and when she could catch her breath, said, “You have got to be kidding. Right?” She looked into his eyes and suddenly it didn’t seem funny anymore. “Right?”

 

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2 reviews for The Wife He Corrected

  1. Redrabbitt

    A LIFE HERE IN CLEARWATER

    The fifth and final book in the Clearwater Romance series was about Joni Sinclair and Henry ‘Hank’ Thompson—who we met in the previous books. Joni and Henry have an on-again-off-again relationship—her issues, not his. They live next door to each other and are both school teachers.
    Joni Sinclair, along with her younger sister, Beth, had moved to their late Grandmother’s home, which they used to visit when they were children. Joni gave up her former life to protect Beth, who a violent stalker was terrorizing. But now, Beth and Nick have married and moved away from Clearwater to Zephyrhills, Missouri.

    Henry Thompson is a man with many passions, he has remodeled his home, bakes, cooks, grills, has a fantastic garden, and it seems whatever he touches turns out perfect. The one thing in his life that is less than perfect is his relationship with Joni. But, after the week in Missouri for Beth and Nick’s wedding, listening to conversations among Nick’s friends and family, he learned more about making for a happy relationship—something that is needed between Joni and him.

    “He seemed happy with their on again, off again relationship. She wasn’t. But she wasn’t sure what she wanted. Hank was perfect. That was the entire problem. The man was literally perfect. It was so annoying.”

    “Nick’s brother and friends all taught him a few things about handling women. He’d known these things, but really, while some of these were a part of him, part of how he actually felt, he also knew, you just couldn’t do that anymore. Women were equal, more than equal, he knew and you had to treat them as such. That wasn’t the issue.”

    The story’s plot will have Hank and Joni returning home to Clearwater, and Hank knows things need to change in their relationship. Allowing her to have her temper tantrums, leave during dinner, or jumping out of the vehicle when she got mad wasn’t good for either of them. He had decided that it is time for a long, complicated conversation, one with a clear understanding of the rules and consequences of breaking them. He wants a future with Joni, but she must accept that she is out of control and needs him to reign her in.

    “When they were alone, the woman would go off like a firecracker, and sometimes he didn’t even know what caused it. But she was soon going to find out what cured it. Did he dare? Well, they couldn’t keep on going the way they were. He was tired of not knowing where he stood, or what she was upset about. He knew she could control her temper everywhere but with him. He had to dare, had to change the dynamic and hopefully for the better.”

    The story kept the pages turning as Hank and Joni discuss changes in their relationship, what they each want, and adding domestic discipline. Joni, in her head, believes she can handle it without any issues, much less discipline, but that doesn’t last long. Her behavior with Hank is volatile; she throws fits and just goes off and leaves—so rude and self-centered. Together, they discuss how things will work, what is expected, and how it will be carried out. I never felt he was over the top, and it was a long time coming—especially if they are to make this relationship work. They are far from my favorite couple, and I just didn’t feel the chemistry with them like I did with all the other couples. I guess you could say they found their happy ending, but for me, it was abrupt—several things that happened were left hanging.

    What you will not find in these stories is any details or mention of sex scenes. It is strictly the relationship of this couple, along with a power exchange relationship. Several characters from the previous stories are included in this one, and it seems they will lead into a new series, The Kinkirk Clan.

  2. Ronald

    Spanking to improve behavior
    I was disappointed with this book. The title has nothing to do with the subject of the book, since the two principles, Joni and Hank, are only dating and become engaged at the end of the book. The story was about the two of them fixing their dating problems by initiating some spanking when Joni got too unpleasant with Hank – and there is a mystery about a bad guy who is in the background somewhere as he hurt a couple of women mentioned in the book. It is a slow moving story that really doesn’t seem to have much of a point besides the repair of the relationship through spanking – and a lot of introspection about it by Joni. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

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