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Chapter One

“Victoria Antoinette Nicole Howard.”

Damn.  Now she wished she’d let him go to voicemail instead of answering his call – it was the Christmas season and they were short handed.  It wouldn’t have been unusual. 

He never used her full name unless she was in trouble.  Heck, Major Cole Nathan Grant, USMC, rarely even used her full first name . . . unless they were in bed.  Something about having her beneath him inspired him to slowly groan every syllable of it as he came, or as he was whispering to her in that undeniably low, raspy tone of his, just his words bringing her closer and closer to her own uncontrollable explosion.

But this – she knew that tone and was already biting her lip, although she tried not to. 

No, it was good that she hadn’t answered quickly and eagerly, as was her wont, especially when she saw it was him.  As eagle eyed – and eared – as he always was about her, something in her own voice always gave away whatever guilt he was inspiring within her.  He knew her too damned well!

She wondered what he’d found out about this time - the hell she and her friends had raised at the Officers’ Club after he’d left, cautioning her sternly – right in front of her friends, whose jaws were on the floor at the way he’d taken her chin in his hand and forced her to look into his eyes as he did it – not too get into trouble. 

And that he expected her to be home within the hour.  He’d even told her the exact time before he’d left, so that she couldn’t claim later that she hadn’t known.

Damn him!  He knew all of her tricks and the ways she would try to weasel out of a spanking, not that it had ever done her any good or gotten her out of anything.  But she had to try, none the less.

Even now, more than two days after the situation she knew he was going to chastise her about, she could still feel the neon blush that had flooded into her cheeks as she stood looking up at him in the crowded room - and everywhere else, most especially – and annoyingly – to that secret spot on her person that responded to him and him and him alone.

The fact that he hadn’t hesitated in the least to admonish her as her three best girlfriends gaped at him had only made that feeling in the pit of her stomach – and lower – much lower – deepen and begin to ache, making her want to follow him home instead of staying behind at all.

But he was gone before she had a chance to tell him that her body’s response to his commanding tone had changed her mind – that she wished he give the girls something to really gawk at by removing her ability to choose, sweeping her into his arms, out of the loud, boisterous crowd, to the relative safety of his car, then their quiet apartment.  He’d disappeared into the sea of people without so much as a backward glance, having warned her of his expectations, in that deep, scolding voice of his, certain – she knew - that one of two things would happen: either she would obey him and come home when he’d told her to, tipsy but not polluted, having had a good time with her friends but not one that would land her in jail, or necessitate a call to him from the M.P.’s.

Or she’d let herself get caught up in something he knew that she knew she oughtn’t.  And that she was all too familiar with what the consequences of doing that were going to be, especially since her backside – under the pretty black lace dress she was wearing – had already been thoroughly roasted for making them late, as usual.

Victoria supposed she shouldn’t have been surprised that he’d left so precipitously.  Cole wasn’t much for the bar scene – never had been, never would be.  He was a homebody – despite a chosen profession that had had him moving all over the world at a moment’s notice and spending several tours of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  He always preferred to be at home; in the tiny apartment they’d more than outgrown, with her – and had never been the type to go out drinking with the boys much.  Invite all of them over to their place to watch the game in their freakishly little living room that was dominated by the ginormous TV he’d bought – “for her” – last Christmas, yes.  Without hesitation.  But spend the night in a crowded, noisy bar that played music he knew he was going to hate - not voluntarily.

Only Vic could cajole him into doing something on his off time that he really didn’t want to, but for her, he’d do just about anything, and without grousing or being sullen, either.  She was the light of his life, and if she was happy, he was happy.  He’d go, and spend the whole time marveling at the idea that this boisterous, bubbling young woman was his, and keeping a watchful eye on her, knowing that – when those four women in particular got together - anything not only could happen, but was going to happen.  It was just a matter of time before they got themselves into some sort of trouble.

Well, Victoria got herself into trouble, anyway.  As far as he knew, none of the other women had quite the same kind of relationship as he and Vic had.

And when she finally got home – two hours past the one hour leeway he had given her – having had the taxi guy turn the car and the lights off well before they got to the door of their apartment building, sneaking in in what she was quite sure was a silent, stealthy way, holding her keys in a tight, quiet bunch as she unlocked the door, tiptoeing past the kitchen in her stocking feet, holding her heels so that she wouldn’t make any noise as she walked.  And then into the living room, sure she would be able to slip into bed without him even noticing that she had outlasted the curfew that he had set for her.

Not to mention blissfully unaware of the trouble she had gotten into once he’d left.

But just as she was pushing the bedroom door open, expecting to see him lying on his side on the bed, coverless, as he preferred, and gloriously, breathtakingly naked, as always, she instead heard the lamp that was just behind her snap on as he sat up from the tiny Victorian style couch that was all they had room floor, where he’d apparently been napping, crumpled uncomfortably onto the tiny settee.

“Have a nice rest of the night, Victoria?” he asked mildly as he rose to come stand behind her, not really towering over her, because he wasn’t all that tall, but surrounding and overwhelming her with his big presence nonetheless. He wasn’t gargantuan by any means, but – by necessity – he kept himself very fit, and she’d always known that, if she ever indulged in a physical fight with him – not that he’d participate in such a thing in any way – all five foot three, one hundred and five pounds of her didn’t stand a chance.

Knowing that he was awake and now standing in front of her was nicely sobering, and she’d definitely need it.  Only somewhat hazily, she decided to go on the offensive, acting as if nothing untoward was happening.  Not that it had ever worked in the past, but it was worth a shot, even if he’d already looked at the time where it was brightly – accusingly – displayed on the DVR.

So she turned around and reached behind her to release the hair she knew was looking kind of scraggly at best, now, anyway, taking out the lacy gold barrette that held it, letting the long, wavy blonde mass fall down her back, pooling at his thick wrists as Cole reached out to pull her against him possessively, plastering her against him from breast to knee, forcing her softness to conform to his rugged contours.

With his fullness already pressing demandingly against her, one of his splayed hands moved slowly up her back to rest where her bra would have been if she’d worn one, the other travelling slowly down to cup the bottom he’d coveted from the moment he’d seen her.

Victoria’s entire lower body clenched almost painfully as she pressed herself even more tightly against him with a soft mewl.  Something deep and low inside her swelled and expanded when she was near him, and in his arms it came alive, turning her nipples into hard buds and making her feel as if he already had her cupped in one of those big hands of his.  She loved it when he took her in his arms, even if it was just a prelude to a spanking.  His mouth captured hers with a tenderness that belied the urgency of his body, leaving her weak kneed and sagging against him.  A slender arm had snaked up around the back of his neck, running her fingers over the surprisingly soft stubble of the buzz cut he favored as she stood on tiptoes, trying to drag her aching nipples against his bare chest as if her dress wasn’t there while she lost herself completely in his kiss.

He ended it much too soon for the both of them, but he was never one to shirk his duty – to the Corp or his woman.

For her part, Victoria would have been perfectly fine with him being a lot less honorable towards her in that particular vein of their relationship, but she knew Cole would never have it.

So, as his lips reluctantly left hers, she found herself being lifted off her feet and hoping – against hope – that he was going to carry her into their bedroom and ravish her, as was her particular – and favorite – bent at the moment.  She knew that – just from that one kiss, he had made certain that her barely there panties were wringably wet.

But when they moved to the couch he had recently vacated, she wasn’t surprised.  Business before pleasure, and he considered keeping her in line to be his avocation – very nearly equal to his calling as a soldier, and at least as sacred.

He’d zipped her into the provocative dress earlier that evening, but it took him much less time to zip her out of it, unfortunately.  Vicky much preferred how he’d planted leisurely, reluctant kisses on each part of her skin as it had disappeared beneath the advancing lace.  She’d not worn hose, had no bra, and because of her shortsightedness in not wearing every possible piece of clothing in order to delay the inevitable, she’d found herself in a depressingly familiar position in an alarmingly short amount of time – one not much different from the rapid fire spanking he’d given her hours before they’d left for dawdling and making them late to meet their friends for dinner before they hit the lounge.

She was sure his handprint was still visible on her backside from that fast and furious punishment, not that that was going to deter him, she knew.  He’d never hesitated before to tan her hide just minutes after she’d already been tipped over his knee, and she knew he wasn’t about to start now – or ever.  If he felt she needed to be taught a lesson, she found herself being schooled seconds later, if possible.  Why, he’d more than once even had the audacity to spank her in the front seat of their car in broad daylight, where anyone could have stumbled on them, and had bent her over the hood more times than she wanted to remember, too.

His hand crashing down on her backside brought her back to the situation she was in in no time as he established an unrelenting cadence of blistering swats that drew cries of real distress from the very first stroke. 

By the time he began lecturing her – which he always did, feeling that it added emphasis to the point he was making and kept her focused on the correction she was receiving – she had already lost it, especially knowing that there was more – much more – to come before she would experience any kind of relief.  When Cole spanked, he spanked hard and fast and long, not willing to waste any effort he made, rather, wanting to make a lasting impression with every session, so that the next time she really had to think hard about whether or not she wanted to do something that she knew he would consider to be misbehaving.

And it worked.  Most of the time.  She really was much better behaved than she used to be, in general – more mature, more focused – much less likely to overdraw the checkbook, skip a doctor’s appointment or get a speeding ticket.  But when she was drinking, or was around her friends, sometimes her memory about the many tears she had shed while he was setting fire to her behind became fuzzy enough that she ignored the alarm bells going off in her head and did something stupid or careless or unsafe anyway.

She always came to regret it – he made her regret it – but sometimes, unconsciously or not, she needed to test the limits he’d set for her, and he’d never failed to call her on it. She always ended up right here, paying a very exacting price for her own stubbornness or willfulness.

What was worse this time, though, was that she’d known at the time that she was only getting half of what she knew Cole would consider she deserved, because he only knew half of the story.

“When did I leave you at the O Club, Victoria?” he asked, not changing the rhythm of his painful smacks in the least, and – in a tone that somehow managed to be chiding while not conveying any bit of anger.

The blubbering Victoria could barely marshal her brain enough to answer him, but she knew she had to, regardless, and quickly, too.  Cole was many wonderful things, but patient – especially during a punishment – wasn’t one of them, and she never knew what time limit there was to respond to him before he would begin to tattoo her buttocks double time, and double hard, which made it just that much more impossible to get out the answer he wanted.

As it was, she began to speak just as he’d begun lathering her that way on her already crimson behind.

“Twelve o’clock.”  It would have been screamed if she hadn’t been using all her energy crying so hard.

Unfortunately, her words didn’t ease the searing barrage in the slightest.  “And how long did I give you to get home before you’d be in trouble?”  The harder he spanked, the softer his voice became.

Beside herself and desperate to make him stop, Vicky squirmed and wiggled and kicked and fussed, then tried to roll first one way and then the other to escape that unrelenting palm of his, knowing as she did it just how futile her efforts would be.  All Cole did to stop her was contract the arm he kept across her lower back and place a heavy leg over her lower thighs, easily rendering her even more thoroughly caught than she usually was when he had her over his lap.

In that one smooth movement, he had also captured her flailing wrists, holding them up and away from her back to force her head down even further, and tilting her a bit forward at the same time, raising her behind into an even more eligible target and opening up the exquisitely sensitive backs of her thighs to his stinging caresses, which he began immediately to decorate in the same fashion as he had her buttocks.

She didn’t know how she did it – all she wanted to do was scream and cry – but she knew she had to answer him or she’d spend the rest of the night over his knee.  “An hour – an hour – an hour!” she groaned in a chant.

“And what time did you get in?”

Damn him and his insistence on questioning her when she could barely draw a breath because of his own blasted efforts!

“Ah – no – Cole – stop – pleeeaaasssee!” She would have sworn – before she met him – that it would take a lot to make her beg, but he managed to reduce her to that state with a disquieting ease, pretty much every time he spanked her, and he always ignored it, anyway.  But she couldn’t seem to resist trying it, no matter how embarrassing she found it.

“Th-th-threeeeeeeeeee!”  Her body bucked and arched and squirmed all on its own now in response to each application of his solid palm to her cringing backside.  “Pleeaaaaaaassse, Cole, no – more – no – more!”

It was as if she hadn’t spoke – if anything, he ratcheted up the tempo several notches, seeking a uniform cherry reddening of her behind from stem to stern.  “And, considering your current position, do you think that your decision to break your curfew was a smart one, Victoria?”

He always asked her a question like that.  He considered her to be a smart woman, and she thought it surprised him every time when she did something like this, that landed her in this spot, being spanked like a naughty child when she could just as easily come home when he’d asked – well, ordered, but more nicely – her to, and they could have both been asleep from the utter spent exhaustion their lovemaking always brought to them.

Instead, she was naked and bawling, getting her fanny tanned while he held her captive for it, rendering all of her struggles futile against his calm, steady strength, all for an extra couple of hours with her friends.

“N-noooooo.”

He had stopped the flurrying swats he had been delivering in place of single, excruciating smacks that caused an echo in the room each time he brought his palm down.  She wasn’t getting as many smacks as she had been, but each one of them was much, much worse than any she’d received before.

“Next time are you going to obey me?”  It was a question he always asked her, near – but not quite at – the end of the spanking.

It didn’t take her anywhere near as long for her to sob, wholeheartedly, exactly what he wanted her to say, and what she believed – at the time.  “Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES!”

How long the spanking would last after that, she had no idea.  She never knew.  It was up to him, as was much of her life. A surprising amount, if anyone who knew her had really understood everything about their relationship. Strong and successful and independent as she was, he had demanded from the beginning that she yield no less than all of herself to him – into his care and his keeping - and that meant that when she failed to do what he expected of her she was made to regret it, in a very painful and embarrassing – and frequent – manner.

This time, it ended when he stood with her in his arms, carrying her into their bedroom and laying her carefully on her side while he locked up the apartment for the night then returned eagerly to her, sliding under the covers she favored to move her onto her back, ignoring her mewls of protest as her swollen, still burning flesh was pressed into the mattress and taking his place between her legs.

She would always be forced to spread herself wide to accommodate the bulk of him, but that was one of the things she loved about him, and despite the ravaged condition of her bottom, and the fact that his every move reignited the sting he’d bestowed on the behind he’d spanked nearly raw, Vicky surrendered herself to him fully and completely, every time, and would have done so even if he hadn’t been so much bigger than herself, if he hadn’t caught her wrists and held them to the bed, whispering hoarsely, “Look at me,” as his body took hers in a searing thrust that instantly threw her from the depths of agony to just short of cumming.

She was no longer panting because of the spanking.  It was, instead, because of the heavy, undeniable longing – the out and out ache he’d created in her the moment they’d met, and that had only intensified with every moment they spent together.

Even the times he’d punished her seemed to only added fuel to what had become a white hot fire, and when he was inside her, she was immediately damned close to orgasm, and being held, helpless beneath him while he fucked her was the frosting on the cake.

Her nipples swelled and peaked as if they were never going to stop, trying to entice – or demand – that he attend to them, but – like her inevitable protests during a punishment – he ignored them.  Normally a very careful, almost obsessive lover who made damned sure she experienced more pleasure than she thought she could stand nearly every time they made love, he nonetheless reserved the times just after a spanking, when he would nearly always take her, just for himself.  He didn’t particularly want her to cum – although he had never expressly forbidden it – so he concentrated solely on doing what brought him the most pleasure, rather than being almost exclusively focused on driving her over the edge before he unleashed his own tightly held passion.

He simply fucked her.  He was almost always rock hard around her – even in public, which was deeply embarrassing not to be able to control at his age – but after a spanking, he couldn’t deny himself.  Lots of times they never even made it to the bed before he exploded inside her, reduced to that most mindless of drives and taking an inordinate amount of time to recover from the complete loss of himself within her.  She reduced him to the raw essence of himself with just a look; being inside her was as close to paradise as he ever expected to get on Earth.

Cole drove himself into her without worrying about whether or not he was hurting her.  She’d always told him that it was fine with her if he just let go. Vicky knew that he always kept himself on a pretty short leash – even around her – and he’d finally begun to believe her.  She’d promised to tell him if he was hurting her – spankings, of course, didn’t count – and he’d learned to trust her about that and believed that she was honest when she’d told him to take her whatever way he wanted to – without a thought towards anything other than his own deep, unimaginable pleasure.

He liked holding her captive, preferring that she not touch him when he was in such a primal state, so he’d taken to pinning her wrists.  She usually fought against him a bit – at first – at least until he began to enter her, and then she was all caught-breathed submission, and he wasn’t sure he knew which aspect it was of the scenario that turned him on the most.

But then, later, he’d realized that it was her.  There was nothing – none of it - without his Victoria.  He was nothing without her.  She was the light at the end of his tunnel, and was easily more precious to him than his own life.

And she was his.  That thought, more than anything else, spurred him on as he pumped his hips against her, leaning down to bite at her lips as he climbed further and further towards the sun, hearing her soft, encouraging whispers.

“Fuck me.  Fuck me, please.  As hard as you can.”

When the world finally exploded around him, Cole felt as if he was dying, his body spasming uncontrollably for long, arduous moments, shuddering over her, his grip tightening on her wrists until he had to consciously release her before he snapped those delicate bones.

He collapsed down on top of her as those recently freed hands glided soothingly up and down his well-muscled back, one coming to rest at the back of his head, then other at the small of his back in an imitation of how he often held her.

When he rolled to the side, he took her with him, feeling a deep sense of satisfaction as she cleaved against him, even when his hands reached down to cover the globes they’d so recently blistered, feeling the painful heat of them against the palms that had created it.

But before he’d let them go to sleep, something that had been niggling at the back of his mind popped out of his mouth.  “Is there anything else you want to tell me about tonight?”  He’d learned from experience that he needed to ask that kind of question, because sometimes there was more than she should have been punished for that he didn’t learn about until later on.

In which case, he would not be a very happy camper, as she had hopefully learned.

“More?” she asked, instantly on alert and hoping he was sleepy enough not to notice how she’d tensed at his words.

“Yes, more.  Any further confessions of misdeeds?”

If he had been more awake, he would have noticed that her reply was much too eager and much too quick to have been the truth as he understood it.  He had expected her to let him know whether she had gotten into any more trouble after he’d left the bar.

But, considering the condition of her backside, Vicky much preferred to go by the strict definition of what he’d asked:  whether she wanted to confess to anything else that happened.  Want to?  Hell no.

So she answered him with a clear conscience.  “No, no.  There’s nothing more I want to tell you.”  Well, a mostly clear conscience, she thought, crossing her fingers behind her as she spoke.

 


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