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Nate and Connie have been together for four years, dating while she finished undergrad, and living together for the past two. He’s ready to get married and move on to the next stage of their life together, but she’s refusing to set a date. Worse, her rudeness and bad attitude have him wondering whether they’re meant to be, after all. Nate approaches his brother for advice and is surprised when Bobby suggests Nate spank Connie for her bad behavior.
Connie knows something has to change, but to hear Nate tell her that he thinks domestic discipline is the only thing that can save their relationship is a shock. Especially since he makes it clear that if she says no, that will be the end of them. Can she agree to go over his knee if it’s really their last chance? And why is the thought of him making her bottom burn so arousing?
Publisher’s Note: This sweet, sexy tale includes themes of domestic discipline.
*** Currently available exclusively at Amazon ***
Connie raced home, pressing the boundaries of even her normal tendency to speed. She kept an eye on her speed, trying to keep it under ten miles over the limit, while also trying not to scrape her still wet toenails on the gas or brake pedals and ruin the hastily applied plum pudding polish.
She’d been midway through a well-deserved pedicure, reading a magazine and mentally scanning her short list of remaining tasks for the day, when she remembered something she’d forgotten to do this morning. Something very small, that would have taken her no more than five stinking minutes, but something very important to her fiancé.
When Nate walked into the kitchen early this morning, just as Connie was pouring her pre-workout orange juice, he’d asked her to, please, make sure she did one simple thing for him.
He worked swing shift at the steel plant and spent his nights operating a forklift in the dirty, smelly factory. It was exhausting, demanding work and he always came home sweaty and tired, and stinking of a pungent cocktail of motor oil, perspiration and hot metal, which was why he came trudging up the basement stairs at seven thirty in the morning in only his boxer briefs. Connie hated the stench the factory left on his clothes and didn’t want them in their bedroom.
So Nate, considerate man that he was, always went immediately to the laundry room and stripped out of his work clothes, leaving them in their own designated basket. Connie was supposed to wash the dirty clothes once a week but lately she’d been slacking on that duty.
When Nate opened the basement door Connie heard the washing machine filling and winced. This was the third week in a row she’d forgotten to wash his work clothes. She’d quickly turned away so he wouldn’t see the guilt written all over her face.
Shit. How could she have forgotten again? Sure she could blame her full course load of Masters level classes, but that excuse was getting old even to her ears. She managed to get all the other laundry done, even if it wasn’t always immediately folded and put away. For some reason there was a mental block in her brain where his work clothes were concerned.
Connie kept her back to Nate and stepped out of his way when he moved to the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water. She waited for him to speak, knowing he was pissed off and not wanting to make it worse by playing innocent. She should just be up front and apologize, admit her mistake and ask for forgiveness. But it was getting to the point where she feared he wouldn’t give it even if she begged.
Nate didn’t ask that much of her at all. She did most of the cooking but he gladly pitched in when he was home, helping her make dinner and clean up afterwards, and he always packed his own lunches now. She did the grocery shopping so he didn’t have to run around during the day when he needed to sleep but Nate did most of the housework. He vacuumed at least twice a week, washed the floors and dusted. He mowed the lawn and took out the garbage. He took care of any home repairs as soon as they popped up. They both worked at keeping the bathrooms clean and whoever was home when the cycle ended would empty the dishwasher, but in all honesty Nate usually ended up doing both of those chores. The only other job that Connie had to do every week was the laundry. So saying she was too busy or overwhelmed wasn’t really a feasible option. Even knowing that, the much needed admission and apology didn’t burst forth from her lips, no matter how guilty she felt or how desperately she wished they would. Instead she waited for him to finish quenching his thirst in awkward silence. He worked hard to support them and was always so thirsty from the hot shift on the factory floor. Another reason for her to feel bad for letting him down.
“I started the washer,” he finally said when it became painfully clear she wasn’t going to speak. “Can you please put my work clothes in the dryer after your workout? I don’t have any clean ones left and I’m working a mid-day shift.”
His tone wasn’t accusatory or reproachful. In fact, it was completely empty of any emotion, which was a hundred times worse.
Connie winced when he said he was out of work clothes. She felt awful, terrible, horrible that she’d let him down again, but she’d fix it. “Yes, I’ll make sure I do.” Connie turned around to find him watching her with tired eyes. Tired from work or tired of her? It scared her that she couldn’t tell which.
“I promise,” she reassured him, “the treadmill and weights are right there. I’ll switch it when I’m done.” Connie gave him a big smile, one of her best, praying he’d give her one in return and stop looking so worried. Like he couldn’t count on her.
It took a tense minute, but Nate finally returned her grin and she relaxed. “Okay, I’m going to sleep since I have to be up again at three.” He crossed the kitchen and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. “Love you,” he called over his shoulder on his way to the bedroom.
“You too,” Connie replied, hoping they were both still telling the truth.
Despite her good intentions, and the guilt and self-recrimination she heaped on herself the whole way through her thirty minute workout, Connie forgot to put his work clothes in the dryer. She’d felt so shitty about letting him down yet again that she cut her workout in half and the washer wasn’t done when she went back upstairs. She made a mental note to come back down before she left to run her morning errands and go to the dentist but when she checked the reminder card for her appointment she found it was scheduled two hours earlier than she thought. She had to rush through her shower to even make it on time. So the laundry hadn’t been switched and she’d completely forgotten about it while picking up her dry cleaning and returning her library books, and deciding at the last minute to get herself that long overdue pedicure. And now it was 2:30 and she was racing towards home at a very unsafe speed. If she could get there in the next ten minutes she could throw one pair of pants and a shirt in the dryer on high and they’d be done in time for him to leave at 3:30. She hoped. That was her plan. At least until flashing red and blue lights lit up her rearview mirror and a loud “whoop, whoop” ruined any shot in hell she’d had to get home in time.
The next-door neighbor’s lawnmower woke Nate early, and it was a damned good thing too because Connie hadn’t put his work shit in the dryer. He was beginning to wonder if she was ‘forgetting’ intentionally now. He really couldn’t tell if it was honest forgetfulness or some passive aggressive bullshit, and that made him angrier than he already was. It was such a stupid, small thing and he felt like an idiot for getting so upset. But then again why couldn’t she remember this one little task? Of the few things she did around the house it was the most important to him, and she had to know that. She could forget to go grocery shopping and they could always order take-out. She could forget to empty the dishwasher and he’d take care of it later. But he couldn’t sit there and do laundry when he needed to be sleeping so he could go to work and make money for them to live on. She knew this. It had never been a problem before, but for some reason she just refused to take care of it lately. Refused to take care of him.
When they’d first moved in together two years ago she loved playing house, making him gourmet meals and ironing everything but his freaking underwear. The novelty, and her imitation of June Cleaver, had soon worn off, but they’d developed a comfortable partnership where she did some tasks and he did others, and between the two of them it all got done. Nate had no clue what had changed, but for the last six months or so Connie’s side of the relationship had needed some serious maintenance. She constantly forgot things at the store that she knew he wanted. Then she started slacking on the housework occasionally, but once he reminded her she’d be fine for a few weeks. Now, for the last three weeks in a row she forgot to wash his work clothes and he’d had to go to the factory in damp pants and one of his regular shirts. Of course now he needed new clothes because any shirt he wore to the factory immediately became a work shirt after one night of the gritty air and foul stench he spent eight hours, or more, working in. Nate made his lunch and wondered if she would remember at all, wondered if this was the beginning of the end for them. They’d been engaged for almost two years and dated for two before that. They met at a bar during her sophomore year of college when one of his friends dragged him along to his girlfriend’s birthday party with the promise of free beer and hot college girls. By that time Nate had been at the factory for two years, following one highly unsuccessful semester at the local community college, and he was okay with that. The factory paid as much as he would make with a four-year degree, without the added time and expense. But he hadn’t expected any of the little college girls at the party to accept his decision to be blue collar.
Connie surprised him though. She came from a family of factory workers and knew there was no shame in an honest day’s work. She was pretty and earthy and fun. Not stuck up or too high maintenance. She liked to drink beer and swore like a sailor, but she was also smart as hell and could be a lady when the situation called for manners.
They hit it off instantly, but took their time getting to know one another. She wanted to finish college and not rush into living together. At her graduation party two years after they met he proposed and they bought the house they now lived in that summer. Well, he bought the house since Connie was continuing on to grad school to get her master’s in social work.
At first everything was great. She went to school and worked part time at a local restaurant, and he worked at the factory full time to pay the bills. She seemed to love having their own home after years of living in college dorms and tiny apartments with multiple roommates. Decorating each room with flea market and estate sale finds took up most of their free time that first year, but it was a labor of love.
Things began to change when Connie started the second year of her Masters program. Her studies became more demanding and required clinical internships that occupied most of her free time. Nate started working more overtime in an effort to put money away for their wedding, and since she wasn’t home anyways he figured he might as well be making time and a half instead of sitting on the couch by himself. Connie had inexplicably refused to set a date for the wedding and their friends and family badgered them about it constantly, but when asked, she would only say she didn’t have time to plan a wedding. Nate didn’t mind waiting until after she finished her degree—hell even another year would be fine if she needed that much time to make it perfect—but every time he tried to get her to pick a damn date she changed the subject.
Nate finally gave up asking a few months ago, unwilling to have her brush off the subject again. Each time she did it tore at his heart a little more and made him wonder if she would ever be ready. Wonder if she really wanted to marry him.
They’d been drifting apart since then. He still worked overtime, putting money in the wedding account, probably foolishly. Maybe he’d buy a boat if there was no wedding. Or a cabin in the woods where he could go drown his sorrows if she left him.
Fuck. He really had no idea what the problem was. He didn’t want a maid or a servant, he just wanted her to do what she said she was going to do, and maybe give a shit about things that were important to him. Like making sure he didn’t have to go to work wearing wet pants. Or deciding when she would become his wife.
Maybe she just didn’t care anymore. They hadn’t had sex in forever because he worked nights and she got up early for school. Not that she made any effort to be around when he was home and awake. Sure she had school commitments but not every fucking day! The more he thought about it the angrier he became. Was she just living here until she finished school in a few months? Biding her time and using him for a place to live until she could go out and find a job in her field? Now that he thought about it she hadn’t said much about job hunting lately, though when she first started the program she said it would be difficult to find a job in their area because of the over saturation in the market due to the university being in town. Was she already looking out of town? He’d overheard her talking to her friends about their interviews in different cities but never asked her.
As quickly as his anger flared it disappeared, replaced by sadness and guilt. As much as she’d been slacking so had he. Sure she forgot obvious tasks, chores really, but he’d been worse by not paying attention to what was going on in her life. Or what was happening, or not happening, in their bedroom. Was part of the reason she was pulling away due to his absence?
Nate put his turkey sandwich, chips and bottled water into the small black cooler Connie bought for him years ago, and added an orange and some cookies she’d baked earlier in the week while he was at work, all the while mulling his options.
If they were to have a chance in hell of making it to the altar things needed to change. He just had to figure out how to make that happen without ruining what little was left of their relationship.
Connie arrived home to find Nate at the kitchen counter, back to her, packing his lunch. He didn’t turn to acknowledge her presence, and she noticed the slight stiffening of his shoulders when she closed the side door behind her. His shoulders that were, thankfully, covered in a clean dry work shirt. She ran her gaze down his back and saw he had fresh work pants on too. He must have woken up early enough to get them in the dryer.
She let her eyes linger on his round, very firm ass, and wished she could walk over and grab it. But he was clearly angry with her, for the second time today. Hell if she were any kind of fiancée she’d make his lunch for him too. She used to do that for him almost every day when they first moved in together, tucking sweet love notes among the fancy sandwiches and snacks she made especially for him. Damn, she realized just how long it had been since she’d done that for him, and wondered if he missed it. He never asked her to make his lunch, never complained that she didn’t. She went from making it every day, to every other day, to never and the whole time Nate said it was no big deal and she should focus on her studies. As long as she kept up with her half of the housework he didn’t need the extras. Even that made her feel guilty. If she was being honest with herself she did less than half.
Why had it become so difficult to keep up with these few simple tasks? She’d forgotten his work clothes for the last three weeks, and several times before that. And twice she missed the due date on a few bills, racking up almost $100.00 in late charges total. Luckily she remembered to pay them before the end of the month and no bill collectors called the house so Nate didn’t know about it, but she felt terrible about wasting their money on unnecessary fees. If he found out he would probably move into the spare bedroom, though it’s not like they spent any time in bed together now. He started working overtime last fall, extending his shifts so he didn’t arrive home until after Connie woke up. She was usually just finishing her shower when he finally crawled into bed. They were like two ships passing in the night, or morning as it were, exchanging pleasantries but without any real interaction.
Their relationship was a horrible, awful mess and she hated it. How could they plan to get married when they barely spoke anymore? Thankfully he stopped asking her to set a date after what felt like her millionth avoidance maneuver to get out of answering him. She tried to vary it—urgently needing to use the bathroom, rushing to the computer to check her email, having a wardrobe malfunction that needed immediate attention. She used every lame excuse she could dream up, until she had to stop from rolling her own eyes at the ridiculousness.
The silence between them dragged on as he put away the sandwich ingredients and methodically wiped up the counter and loaded the dirty utensils in the dishwasher. Just when Connie thought she couldn’t bear it another second and had an apology on the tip of her tongue, Nate spoke.
“I have to go to work,” he said, his voice a colorless monotone that gave her no hint of his feelings. “Then I’m going out.”
“Oh,” she replied. He couldn’t be that mad if he was proposing a night out. They could get some beers and late night snacks, maybe shoot some pool. “When should I meet you?”
He turned around then and Connie wished she could take back her last words. The look on his face, full of anger and frustration, clearly told her she wasn’t invited. He appeared ready to bite her head off for presuming, and she braced herself. Then he took a deep breath and seemed to calm down.
“Actually, I made plans to meet Bobby. Kind of a guys’ night out,” he said. “I don’t get to see my big brother that much.”
“Ok,” she replied, surprised at the blatant lie but having no choice but to accept his excuse. Nate saw his brother at least once a week but, hell, she couldn’t exactly demand honesty from him when she’d been telling fibs for months.
The silence returned as they stood and stared at each other across the kitchen. It wasn’t a very big kitchen, standard size for their 1970’s built ranch, but it felt like a mile-wide gulf. He watched her expectantly, as if trying to will the words he needed to hear out of her mouth. Connie knew he was waiting for her to apologize, and though she’d been about to moments before, she couldn’t call the words back up.
Besides, he was going out without her, punishing her for her forgetfulness when he knew she’d like to spend time with him. They hadn’t done anything together in weeks, and even then it was to go to a party thrown by another couple where their presence together was expected, not because it was particularly fun. No, she didn’t have to apologize if he was going out and having fun without her.
“Okay then,” she said, breaking the silence but not the tension. If anything, he looked angrier. “Have fun tonight with Bobby. Tell him I said hi.” She paused, waiting to see if he’d say anything, but received nothing but silence. “I need to go study so I guess I’ll see you in the morning.” She turned and left Nate standing there, but not before she saw the anger and hurt wash over his face.
“I just fucked that up even more,” she murmured to herself. Somehow, even that realization didn’t stop her from continuing to the office and closing the door behind her.
A few minutes later, she heard Nate leave through the side door and pull out of the driveway. She’d been staring at the blank computer screen trying to will him to follow her and demand an apology or an explanation for her shitty behavior. But he didn’t care enough to even do that.
What was wrong with her? One minute she ran away from him, and the next she was spitting mad because he didn’t confront her. No wonder he was angry with her and pulling away. If she felt this muddled up and confused he must feel like he’d been riding the world’s longest roller coaster. If Connie didn’t know what she wanted how could he be expected to figure it out from her mixed signals? What were they going to do?