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The Demure Bride

By:Joannie Kay

Chapter One

"Miss Chambers, I am sorely tempted to turn you over my knee and apply  my hand to your posterior in such a way it would leave you no doubt as  to how foolish I find your reckless behavior!"

Amanda glared at the man from her inelegant position on the ground, her  green eyes glittering with pure temper and malice. The horse she had  been riding balked at the last minute, coming to an abrupt stop before  the stone fence Amanda was intent on jumping, and she had flown over the  mare's head to land with a jolt on the wet ground. "Are you going to  help me up, or are you going to stand there spouting drivel, Mr.  Thorne?"

"It was extremely dangerous for you to attempt that jump," he stated,  making no move to take the muddied hand she held outstretched toward  him.

"You are not my father, Mr. Thorne," her voice was full of contempt. "If  you recall, I told you I did not wish your company today. Either help  me up, or get on your mount and leave me in peace to make my way home!"

"Are you injured?" he knelt beside her and started examining her closely  for any sign of broken bones. He took the proffered arm and his strong  fingers moved over the dirty sleeve of her ruined riding jacket. Her  skirt was ruined, too, and her boots would take a lot of hard work to  make them usable again.

"Stop that!" Amanda jerked her arm free of his grasp. "I have had enough of you for one day, Mr. Thorne. You may go now."

"I am not a servant to be dismissed, Miss Chambers," the expression in  his dark eyes was full of disapproval. "Your manners are appalling, and  it is apparent that your Father has neglected his duty toward you."

"How dare you speak ill of my Father?" she gasped, thoroughly outraged.  "It is you who brings out my worst. I do not like you, Mr. Thorne. I do  not wish to spend time with you, and I fully intend to tell my Father to  stop encouraging your attention! Now go away and leave me to myself!"  She picked up her small riding whip and lashed out at the infuriating  Robert Thorne, wishing she had never set eyes upon their new neighbor.

"Do NOT strike me again, Miss Chambers," Robert warned her mere seconds  before the small whip caught him again, across his cheek this time.  Without giving the matter conscious thought, he captured her wrist with  his left hand and wrenched the whip from her grasp with his right hand.  In the next instant he pulled her from her position on the wet grass to  land across his bent knee and then he started spanking her with the whip  through her wet clothing! "This is a lesson sorely needed, young lady,"  he announced, feeling no remorse at all for his actions. The welt on  his cheek was stinging furiously, and he was going to make sure she had a  few welts of her own!

"Let me go!" she screamed. "Let me go right now!" He didn't listen to  her and continued to strike her with the small whip across her derriere.  The sting was unbearable! "Owwww!" she howled. "Stop this instant! I'll  have my Father take a horsewhip to you!" she threatened.

"Your comments are only prolonging this chastisement, Miss Chambers," he  said solemnly. "I would think a clever girl such as yourself would  realize that a sincere apology would be in order."

"I would think even a bully like you would realize that you are going to be dead when I tell Father about this!" she retorted.

"Perhaps your Father will shake my hand and congratulate me for taking  his bratty daughter in hand?" Robert said calmly, and he didn't stop  spanking her even when he saw a rider approaching. Perhaps it was time  Matthew Chambers heard about his daughter's less than perfect behavior.

"I hate you! I hate you!" Amanda screamed at the man who was bringing  her to the point of tears. She would never ever forgive him if he made  her cry! "I am not going to apologize, either!" she added, bracing  herself for more fiery strokes from the riding whip she vowed to throw  away the first chance she got! "Let me go, you bastard!"

"Your language is inexcusable, little girl," Robert spanked even harder,  determined to give her a reason to regret her impulsive behavior. He  was well aware that her Father was fast approaching and he increased the  tempo and the strength behind the punishment. Miss Chambers was going  to have ample reason to recall this spanking when she attempted to sit  down over the next few days.

"What is the meaning of this?" Matthew Chambers dismounted and ran over  to pull his precious child off of Robert Thorne's knee. "Amanda, honey,  are you all right?" he asked solicitously, his green eyes watching the  younger man who dared to strike his daughter.

"He spanked me with my own riding whip, Father... and after I took a  spill from Glimmer!" she accused, her eyes overflowing with tears. "I am  so humiliated... and in pain, Father!" she sniffled.         



"You'd better have a damn good reason for tanning my girl, Thorne,"  Matthew Chambers was about as angry as he'd ever been in his entire  life.

"She tried to force her mount to jump, sir, and she was thrown. When I  attempted to check her for injuries, she struck me twice with her riding  whip," he turned his face to permit the other man to see the fiery red  welt on his cheek. "I felt justified in returning the favor." He watched  as Matt's green eyes narrowed.

"Didn't I tell you not to jump that mare, daughter?" Matt Chambers asked.

"I forgot, Father," she proclaimed her innocence.

"Why did you lay your whip on the man for tryin' to help you?" Matt continued his questions.

"He touched me!" she declared in indignation.

"To see if you broke your fool neck!" the man said in exasperation.

"Father! You should shoot him dead for mistreating me!" Amanda declared.  Her Father wasn't behaving at all has she had predicted he would.

"You did the mistreating, Amanda. You mistreated that little mare I gave  you. You mistreated Rob when all he done was try to help you. You  earned that tanning, and if you give me any more of your sass, you'll  get another tanning when I get you home."


"And that is another thing, girl. I'm your Papa, and you can stop with  the highfalutin' 'Father'. I don't like it and never have, and it stops  now. Hear me?"

"I wish I had stayed in Boston!" she announced, and then flounced off, heading for the ranch house.

"She did not mean that, sir," Robert said when he was sure the feisty  redhead couldn't hear him. "Miss Chambers is thoroughly angry with me  right now and merely shifting that anger to your shoulders instead of  mine."

"Her Mama spoiled her, son. Isabel left me when Mandy was only three and  I only saw her two times in the next fourteen years. When Isabel died, I  brought my girl home, and the last two years have been trying at times.  She's spoiled rotten, but this is the first time she's actually struck  someone. I'm real sorry about that."

"I've had worse, Mr. Chambers," Robert smiled, understanding the situation a bit better.

"Call me Matt, Rob. Folks are a heap more friendly out here than they are in England; no offense."

"None taken. Thank you, Matt," Robert acknowledged.

"I'd best go and get that stubborn girl of mine and haul her on home.  Thanks for tryin' to help her, son. Come on over to supper anytime,  now."

"I will do that," Robert promised, watching the man ride off in the  direction that Amanda stomped. The redhead was certainly a handful, but  now that he knew Matt Chambers didn't actually raise the little hothead  it made things a lot clearer. He would give her a few days to calm down  and then pay the Circle C Ranch a visit. One thing was certain, Miss  Amanda Chambers did not bore him in the least.

Amanda was seething when her parent rode up beside her. "Come on, girl.  I'll give you a ride back to the house. I was scared when Glimmer came  back by herself."

"I cannot believe you permitted Robert Thorne to get away with beating  me!" Amanda swiped the tears from her cheeks with the back of her hands.

"You're lucky that all he did was set your fanny on fire, Mandy. You  earned a spankin'. Now come here so I can take you up in front of me and  get you home and out of those wet clothes. I don't want you getting  sick," he growled.

Amanda's feet were hurting and she was shivering in the disgustingly wet  riding habit. As much as she wanted to tell her parent to leave her  alone she didn't quite dare. It was a good five miles back to the house  and her feet would be nothing but blisters if she insisted upon walking.  She permitted her Father to haul her up in front of him, but refused to  make conversation.

After one or two attempts, Matt gave up, and she was certain the silence  suited him much better than trying to have a conversation with her. At  the ranch, he put her on her feet, but when Amanda turned toward the  house, he took her arm and led her into the barn. "You need to tend to  Glimmer, young lady. If she is injured, I'll take a strap to you myself.  Why in hell would you try to jump a skittish mare after I told you it  wasn't safe? I expected better of you, girl."