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Chapter One

Old Blush Manor
Present Day

Chloe Weatherby stopped her car at the end of the long and winding drive to take a look at the old Victorian Mansion ahead of her. It was turned into a bed and breakfast during the Great Depression as a way for the owners to raise money to pay their real estate taxes and keep from losing the home that had been in their family for nearly a hundred years. Surprisingly, with the hotels around them closing for lack of business, the few travelers to their area found a welcome at Old Blush Manor, named for the roses growing all over the grounds and supplying a heady fragrance that most visitors appreciated. There were other kinds of roses, too, but the owners throughout the years had nourished the roses that gave the name to the historical home, and Chloe could see the pink flowers all over the grounds, even from where she was parked.

Old Blush Manor had the traditional Victorian look, and Chloe had to admit the mansion was simply beautiful on the exterior. A front porch with columns wrapped around the first floor, and a balcony on the second floor mirrored the porch below. There were several bay windows, and dormers on what was the third floor, but what caught Chloe’s attention were the paint colors of the house. It was a light rose pink, and trimmed in white, blue, and navy, with burgundy shutters. It was simply breathtaking, and under other circumstances, Chloe would look forward to her time relaxing in the beautiful old home, but she was here to do her job.

Chloe was a reporter, and she was here to solve the mystery surrounding the old Victorian mansion. Several women had disappeared while staying as guests over the years, and Chloe was here to dig out the facts and do a story that would propel her career upward. Of course, the owners did not know that she was a reporter, or they wouldn’t have accepted her reservation. They did not like the publicity surrounding their home and refused to give comments on the disappearances.

Chloe couldn’t help but wonder if there was a serial killer in the family, but she knew that was preposterous because the first woman disappeared in 1850 from Old Blush Manor, right after it was built for Judge O’Keefe’s family. The last young woman to turn up missing was twenty years ago, and that was a span of approximately one hundred and forty-five years. None of the original family still lived; the newest owner, Daniel O’Keefe, was only thirty-one, and it was hard to picture a boy of eleven having the wherewithal to do away with a guest. No, she believed, as did the family, there was something mysterious going on in the mansion. She simply intended to be the one to glean the story and reveal it to the world.

Heeding the warning sign, she slowed her car to the required ten miles per hour as she wound through the drive to the area set aside for parking. There was a garage behind the mansion that was built in the style of the house. The old carriage house was still standing and Chloe wondered what it was used for. She would soon find out. She was nosy by nature, and she would do lots of investigating and ask plenty of questions. She got out of the car and opened the trunk to retrieve her suitcase.

“Is this all you have, Miss Weatherby?” A man appeared at her side and easily hefted the large suitcase.

“Oh! I didn’t see you!” she gasped, her heart pounding in her chest.

“I didn’t mean to startle you,” he insisted, smiling. “Do you have anything else I can carry for you?”

“No, thanks. I can manage my laptop and handbag.”

“Great. Come right this way and I will get you registered and then see you to your room.”

Chloe did as instructed, very much aware of the attractive man leading the way. He was tall and had broad shoulders. His hair was dark and wavy, longer than the current style, which she loved. She practically had to run to keep up with his long legs, but it gave her more time to stare at his nice butt. Glad that he couldn’t read her mind, she followed him up the steps to the front porch and around to a side door that led into the room used for an office.

“Please sign our guest book,” he instructed, and Chloe was surprised when she was handed an old fashioned pen. She dipped it into the ink and managed to sign her name, and was quite proud of herself when she did so. He was smiling when she finished and his blue eyes were twinkling at her in good humor. “You did that well, Miss Weatherby,” he teased.

“Is this your real office?” she asked, looking around at the antique furniture. “I know I made my reservation online, but I don’t see a computer.”

“There is no computer in the main house, Miss Weatherby. When the house was built in 1845, this is the room my eight times great grandma used as her office. She ran the home from this room.”

“You know your family back eight generations?” Chloe asked, amazed.

“Yes, don’t you?” He was perfectly serious.

“No, in fact, it boggles my mind that you do.”

“Judge Daniel O’Keefe passed the house to his oldest son, and it has been passed down through the generations to my father, and now to me,” he said. His blue eyes reflected a deep sadness, however, and Chloe felt empathy for him.

“I am sorry. You recently lost your father, didn’t you?” she asked in a soft voice. His nod was brief, but told her of the grief he was experiencing. “I lost my dad a few months ago to cancer. It has been difficult to accept that he won’t be calling me anymore.”

“Yeah. I expect Pop to be puttering around the roses, but when he doesn’t come to the dinner table, it hits me like a sledgehammer that he won’t be coming. I am sorry about your father, Miss Weatherby.”

“Please, call me Chloe. I am planning to be here for a while, and we might as well be friends, don’t you think?” she asked with a smile.

He nodded. “I’m Daniel, after the judge,” he added with a wink.

“Are you anything like him?” Chloe wanted to know.

“Well, I have never sentenced anyone to hang,” he stated, and then chuckled at her horrified expression. “The judge was a true character, Chloe. There are books about him in the library if you care to do some research while you are here.”

“I just can’t imagine what it must be like to know your ancestry that far back,” she whispered, truly in awe. “I knew one grandmother, and that was it. She never talked about her parents, and my parents didn’t either.”

“That’s sad,” he admitted, and she had the feeling that he really did care. “Let me show you to your room, and then I will give you a tour, unless you would rather wait until you have rested from your long drive?”

“Actually, I’m not a bit tired. I feel all revved up at the moment,” she confessed. She knew he was responsible for a lot of the energy coursing through her body and causing her to ache in her most private spots. She was throbbing, for goodness sake! She had just met Daniel O’Keefe and she was in heat for the man. She didn’t believe in casual sex, but her body wasn’t in agreement with her mind, and it was a good thing he wasn’t aware of her arousal as he preceded her up the beautiful staircase to the second floor.

“This is the Petal Room. I have a feeling that you will enjoy the decorations in this room, Chloe. It is considered the most romantic room in the mansion, even though I have often wondered at that. You would think that the marital bedroom would be the most romantic, but in the time this home was built by the strict judge, it was the norm for husbands and wives not to share a room. Their daughter wanted something pretty and the judge was anxious to please her, hoping that she would marry a man of his choosing and live close by, which is exactly what Madeline did.”

“How can you remember all of that?” Chloe asked, looking at him as he opened the door to the very beautiful room and motioned for her to enter ahead of him.

“It is my family history, and more important to me than the world history I had to learn in school,” he confessed. “What do you think?” he asked, motioning with his free hand to shift her attention from him and to her surroundings.

“Oh,” she breathed the word, suddenly surrounded by emotions she wasn’t used to experiencing. “I feel so fortunate to be placed in this beautiful space. I can almost feel its energy coursing throughout the room.”

“Really?” He studied her face intently. “Perhaps you would rather stay in the Gray Room? Vibrant emotions such as you describe do not allow for a good night’s sleep.” His blue eyes were full of intensity as he studied her face.

“Oh no! I wish to stay right here, Daniel! I am in love with this room.” She was telling the truth, she was shocked to realize. The Rose Petal Room was calling out to her, and she just knew it was the right room for her. “This is my room, Daniel!” she insisted, and then added, “Please?” when his blue eyes expressed doubt.

Daniel nodded and then carried her suitcase into the room and placed it on the bed. “You won’t find the conveniences in here that you do at other hotels and bed and breakfasts. You do have your own bathroom, but we tried to keep it as close to the décor in the house as we possibly could. Coffee is served downstairs all the time. You can also get water. If you wish soda, chips or candy bars, and Internet service, you will need to go to the small caretaker’s house. It has everything in modern conveniences, the things we refuse to put into this home. Is any of this going to be a problem, Chloe? If so, I will cancel your reservation and help you find a hotel to stay at while you are visiting the area. Please don’t be embarrassed to tell me the truth. I have had couples change their mind and decide they need a fridge in the room, or Internet, or television. I am not offended by that, I assure you. If you are looking for a quiet place to settle for a while, then I will be happy to have you stay with us.”

Daniel had a feeling that the little redhead wasn’t hearing a word he said. She was truly in love with the room, and that frightened him, too. Certain women had been drawn to the room in the same manner as Chloe, and then complained to him of nightmares. But when he asked about the nightmares, they simply shook their heads and said they couldn’t remember the details. Daniel knew they remembered because their cheeks turned a bright red and their eyes were full of guilt for lying to him, but no matter that, they either wouldn’t or couldn’t tell him of the nightmares associated with the Rose Petal Room. Based on that, and on the unfortunate history of the Bed and Breakfast, he did not often place single women in the room. “Chloe, did you hear me?” he asked quietly, and was confused by the look in her green eyes as she snapped to attention.

“No, sir, I was so engrossed in this beautiful room I was not paying attention. That was rude of me and I do apologize.” The look in her eyes was that of a woman who has been soundly spanked and knows she needs to say sorry!

“That is all right,” he said softly. “Are you positive you would like to stay in this room?” he asked again.

“Yes, I am quite positive. Thank you for choosing this room for me. I cannot imagine there is another that would suit me as well.” Her smile was genuine.

“I know you have your laptop with you. Is not having Internet in the room going to be an issue?”

“Oh no. I might want to check my emails, but I can walk to the servants’ house and do that. My laptop is for my work. I am a writer, and a long ways from having a finished manuscript to send to an editor for proofing.”

“Wonderful. Now that we have brought your things here, would you like the tour?”

“Yes, please, unless it is a problem for you and you would rather wait until later?” Chloe hoped he would not take her up on her offer. She was really attracted to Daniel and wanted to spend time with him, getting to know him better.

“Right now is fine, Chloe. I don’t have to prepare for a full house of guests until the weekend next month when we have a book club coming for a mystery weekend.”

Chloe heard the ‘we’ and was devastated. What if he was already married? She would just die. The look in his blue eyes said that he was attracted to her, but she absolutely refused to get involved with a married man, or even a man who was dating another woman. She did not cheat when she was in a relationship, and she would not give a man who was in a relationship the time of day. She mentally put the brakes on and decided that she would control herself until she did some basic checking on Daniel O’Keefe.

Daniel was shocked by the immediate change in her demeanor. It was obvious that he had somehow managed to offend her. He didn’t like that. He didn’t feel that he had done anything wrong, and it was best to clear the air immediately and not permit something to fester. “I can see that I’ve managed to offend you, Chloe. Let’s talk about this openly and clear up any misunderstanding. What is wrong?”

“I simply realized that my manner could be taken as flirty, and when you said ‘we have a mystery club coming’, I realized that I had best find out who the ‘we’ is. Are you married, or in a relationship?” She was blunt and to the point. It was her manner, and Daniel was frankly surprised.

“You are not one of those women who answer ‘nothing’ when there is obviously something wrong,” he said with an appreciative smile. “No, Chloe. I am not married or engaged. I am not dating anyone at all. I was in a relationship for a while last year, but she did not agree on the type of lifestyle that I wish to have. I want a traditional marriage with a woman who is ready to promise to obey, and allow me to hold her accountable when she does not keep her promise.” He decided to lay his cards on the table. He was very attracted to Chloe, but if she was going to run at the mention of being held accountable, he wanted to know right now and then he would avoid her as much as possible.

Chloe smiled at him and then said, “Thank you for being open and honest with me; I value honesty. Are you talking about a domestic discipline lifestyle?” She was fairly certain that is what he meant, but she wanted to be sure and not speculate.

“Yes, and yes to your next question,” he answered with a grin.

“What is my next question?” Chloe asked with surprise.

“You want to know if the consequences for disobedience include spanking.” He was sure of himself. Since she knew that a traditional lifestyle was called domestic discipline, he was sure she knew that spanking was part of the deal.

“That is something I have always wondered about,” she admitted. “Could we discuss this further?” She wanted to know. “I don’t mean to pry personal details from you, but I would like to know how this all works. What things you would consider spankable? How does the woman correct you if you do something wrong?” She was straightforward with her questions.

“Come with me and we’ll sit in the parlor and have some tea and cookies.” He led her there and said, “Have a seat, Chloe, and I will be back in a few minutes. Feel free to look around if you wish.”

Once he was gone, Chloe tried to settle down. She was not used to walking around with a man so hot that she wanted him to make love to her! And suddenly, she had a picture of him sitting on an antique chair right here in the beautiful parlor, while taking her over his knee and giving her a spanking. She just knew that her panties were wet from fantasizing, and this was so unlike her that it was embarrassing.

What would her mom say if she were here? For sure she would tell Chloe to get herself under control, and then she would hand her daughter a rosary and tell her to pray to rid herself of impure thoughts. Chloe grinned. She didn’t think she would pray to rid herself of the thoughts, but instead to give her head a chance to catch up with the thoughts and make sure she wasn’t letting herself in for hurt. She knew that was why her mom worried about her.

Chloe was an oops baby, and her parents had suddenly found themselves married when they really didn’t want to be, although they’d made the best of it until her father’s death a few months ago. That was when her mother confessed everything to her, and begged her not to marry unless it was for love. Her mom said that she and Chloe’s dad did what was expected of them, and had a good marriage with no talk of divorce, but they went their own way a lot. There was no passion. Her mother was sure to tell Chloe that she had no regrets, and that her father’d had no regrets, either. They were blessed, and proud of their daughter and lavished love on her.

Chloe knew that she was loved, and that her parents’ faith caused them to work hard on their differences and to stay together. Her mom wasn’t dating yet, but told Chloe that she intended to marry for passion and love this time, and she advised her daughter to remain pure until she was sure that she was with the man her soul craved.

In spite of that talk that made so much sense at the time, Chloe’s body really wanted Daniel’s body. But she needed to know what his definition of domestic discipline included, and what his idea of a spanking entailed. By the time he returned to the parlor carrying a beautiful teapot with matching cups and saucers, a creamer and sugar bowl, and a matching plate with cookies on top, Chloe had several questions to ask him. “What a beautiful tea set,” she enthused. “Is it an antique?”

“Yes. The dishes we use here are all authentic to the house. I suspect that all the greats protected this set through the years.”

“Oh, it is so beautiful. The pink roses look so delicate, and trimmed in gold around the top and handles. I can’t believe you are using it for every day!” she exclaimed and saw him flush.

“I don’t, usually,” he admitted, “but you seem so appreciative of everything you have seen, I couldn’t resist taking it out to show you.”

“Thank you, Daniel. I feel so special.”

He smiled at her and said, “You are special, Chloe. I mean that.” Then he asked, “Will you pour? I think you would do a better job of it than me. The set is so delicate and my hands are so big – I don’t want to break something.”

“I would be happy to pour.” Chloe had no trouble picturing herself in a long, beautiful dress, pouring tea for guests, or for a handsome husband. She felt at peace and happy, and added a teaspoon of sugar and a bit of cream to Daniel’s tea, and then handed him the teacup on the saucer, careful to make sure that he was holding the saucer before letting go.

“How did you know how I take my tea?” he asked her, a strange look on his face.

She was speechless for a moment and then shrugged before saying, “I can’t explain it, Daniel. I just knew yours as well as my own.” She fixed her own tea the same as his, and then sat back to sip from the teacup. “This room is so lovely. I see a few things that I would love to touch, and some that are so dear I would be afraid to touch them.” She knew she was babbling, and made herself stop. “Yes, your hands are large, and I imagine you could give a frightful spanking if you chose to. What sort of things would make you do that? How does it feel to spank someone? Do you feel guilty about causing them terrible pain?”

“Whoa, Chloe. Let’s not focus on spanking right now. Let’s start at the beginning, okay?”

“Where is the beginning?” She wanted to know.

“Right now is the beginning,” he answered. “We are both feeling something, am I reading you correctly?” He came to the point.

“Yes, you are right. I am very attracted to you.”

He smiled at her and nodded. “I feel the same way. I’m having a bit of trouble concentrating. I keep thinking I am going to drool, or just kiss you without warning. Am I shocking you?”

“No, of course not. I am drooling, too.”

“It’s not just sexual, either. I want to know you, talk to you, find out everything that is all about you. Chloe, this is new for me. I am thirty-one years old, and I have never felt this way about a woman.”

“It is new for me, too,” she shyly whispered. “I don’t do the club scene. I don’t… I don’t have casual sex. I’ve never… I mean I have never…” Her face was as red as could be. “I have never met anyone who was special enough to take that step.”

“You are old-fashioned and you have morals. I respect that, Chloe,” he told her. “See? We are learning things about each other. We now know that this is not something either of us do. That means that this is a special relationship that we are forging. Perhaps it is the reason that I opened up and told you about my less than modern approach to marriage. Domestic discipline is based on respect and love. A couple learns about each other as the relationship develops into one that is pleasing to both of them.

“Now, for instance, say the man has noticed that his lady tends to drive too fast, and he tells her that he expects her to slow down because she is risking her safety and even her life by driving like that. She, perhaps, is not happy about the new rule, but she agrees that he is only trying to keep her safe. He promises a spanking if she ignores the rule in the future. She decides to ignore the rule, thinking that she won’t get caught, but she does. She gets a speeding ticket, and knows that perhaps she is in trouble, so she decides to hide the ticket from him. But, he is directed to her purse to get money for something, and he spots the ticket and takes it out.”

“And now she is in trouble?” Chloe asked, upset for the fictional woman.

“What do you think, Chloe? Should she be in trouble?”

To be continued…

 


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