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She has been always safe in her secret world, but once she is exposed, will she ever be safe again?
Sharlee Armstrong is happy spending her professional life in seclusion as an independent information broker. Though she has plenty of high paying clients, the latest offer also finds her libido piqued when she meets Jacquard Reynaud. He’s gorgeous, sexy, and dominant.
The minute she sets foot into his office, and life, Jac knows he has to have Sharlee, but first he must keep her safe. Her reputation, her livelihood, and her life are in jeopardy. Despite her protests, he takes her in hand. For her own good.
Publisher's Note: This contemporary romance contains elements of power exchange.
Charlotte strode confidently out of the building that held the offices of Reynaud & Associates. Clients and employees referred to them as The Associates. Their job was to keep their clients safe and secure. She remembered the first time she’d entered the building with much less confidence. She’d been approached at a time when she felt restless and decided to take a look at what the security team was offering.
She’d always preferred to work at home, alone. She chose specific contracts for a variety of reasons, one being she didn’t conform well to other’s rules. The other reason was those clients weren’t interested in meeting her face to face, in fact preferred not to. All she needed to work was a legitimate bank account and business set up. She was allowed to remain shadowy. Indeed, her line of work relied on her ability to remain anonymous.
Her fees were steep and only a very select, highly vetted group of clients could afford her. They called often, sometimes too often. She’d been perfectly happy doing that until Jacquard Reynaud approached her.
Charlotte had just finished an intense contract and was looking forward to a break when the call came in asking if she’d be interested in working for their company on a more permanent basis. Over the phone, she’d thought they were just fishing but when they set up an interview, she was curious. The timing was perfect: she was ripe for some adventure and possibly a holiday, so she agreed to a meeting.
Flying in to see what they had to offer, Charlotte didn’t expect that she’d be as interested as they said she’d be. She was wrong. The interview was one she’d never forget. Jacquard Reynaud had picked her up from the airport and since she had researched him, he was easy to spot. He had almost coal black hair. She imagined it would shimmer blue in certain light, but she couldn’t determine his nationality. His skin had warm undertones that made his tan even richer. His eyes were just this side of black as well.
Seems he had done the same internet check on her. “Miss Armstrong?”
“Please, call me Charlotte.”
“And I’m Jac.”
“Yes, I recognize you from your pictures. You’re the only one I’ve found with that name. Easy to research, not that there was much out there. Good for you, but it means I need to ask more questions.” Charlotte decided not to tell him that he was easily found and identified on a deeper net profile. Most would never go further than the surface.
Jac grimaced. “Thank God. Most people have no idea what my real name is and usually assume the company has something to do with clothing or fabric. The name was a gift from my father who loved it and pronounced it in the soft French way. Dad may have been French, but my mother is Shawnee, Kentucky born and bred. I aspire to be a lover like the French, romantic and spontaneous, but from Mom I get my tougher, more pragmatic nature. The two cultures made for an interesting childhood. She pronounces my name with a K sound, making it sound harsh, but has only ever called me Jac. There, all you ever wanted to know about that odd name is now in your trivia file.”
“And now I also know where your coloring comes from, your mother, and why you picked here to set up business.”
He chuckled. “I guess so. You are good.”
“Thanks, but that was easy. I can do much more with a computer.”
“Actually, I picked Lexington because I could be close to contacts and contracts, but not too close. And, I love horses. I enjoy a good race as well.”
She later learned the ‘race’ didn’t always involve horses. There were days since that first face-to-face meeting that Sharlee would have called him Jac-hammer or, as was later pointed out by a satisfied customer, Jac-Ass.
Jacquard corrected him. “I prefer being a horse’s ass if I have to be one, but why quibble over little details.”
Suffice it to say that while on some days she didn’t agree with his philosophy, he always came through and got the job done.
She spent the rest of the interview, most of the day, learning who her new clients would be if she won the contract. Besides the partners, Garrett and Monroe, there were Mark, Kaden, and Carter. And their lawyer, Ryker.
Garrett and Monroe were hard to read. One minute they seemed to be polar opposites, the next, they were saying the same sentences. It might take a while to tease the differences out. For now, Garrett was the brown-haired man with the striking violet blue eyes that could become animated when he was debating an issue. Monroe had light hair and icy blue eyes that were surprisingly less chilly than the color would have implied.
Then there were Mark and Carter. Mark was dark: hair, eyes, and personality, for that matter. Carter? Well, Carter’s huge stature hid a kind nature. Unless, by his own reckoning: “I’m hungry. Then I get irritated. Then you head for higher ground.” This declaration was followed by a grin that warmed the whole room.
Kaden came and sat down next to her. This man was more open than the others and probably nearer to her age, too. He seemed hardware savvy and would be her equipment go-to person if she decided to work with them. She expected him to be easier to talk to than the others.
“Except for Mark and Kaden, you all have last names as first names, did you notice that? Sorry, I tend to notice patterns in things.”
“Nope, but we didn’t notice we were all over the internet in bits and pieces until we had an expert scrub all but the most innocuous information from public view, either. Amazing what you can share even when you aren’t meaning to.”
“Keeps me in business,” said Charlotte.
“Right, well, we’re hired for a large assortment of jobs, but analyzing threats and eliminating them is the long and the short of it.”
“Is it legal?”
Monroe answered. “The job is legal.”
Charlotte hesitated before responding. “I sense a ‘but’ in there.”
“Nope,” said Kaden.
“Good, because I’m not going to be part of anything shady. I mean, working on government contracts is too close for comfort sometimes.” Charlotte unsuccessfully suppressed a shiver.
Carter spoke for the first time. “We don’t operate like those morons and besides, we do private contracts not government ones.”
“Right. So what do you want me to do? Specifically. How would I enhance your work?”
“We really need a good techie, one who can do the job without setting off alarms. Our contracts are so broad that we need a diverse person. We’ve run through some scenarios with you, but I get the feeling you’re concerned about something.”
“I am. There’ve been so many undefined companies springing up that are, frankly, all below the water level and some are just dipping there. Others, the totally above-board ones, are very specialized.”
The interview went on for over two hours and then they all went to dinner. When Jac dropped her off at her hotel, he offered her a drink after she’d checked in. Charlotte agreed and met him in the bar twenty minutes later.
They sat in silence, enjoying their chosen beverages—Jac’s a Highland whisky and Charlotte’s a white wine—contemplating the situation and each other.
“So here’s the thing, Charlotte, we work highly sensitive contracts. Contracts the assorted government and state agencies would if they could but for one reason or another, they either can’t or won’t. Anything from finding a missing person, to vetting people on a guest list, to ensuring an attorney makes it to court every day on a high-profile case.”
“I see. And I would be support for those contracts.”
“Yes and no. Yes in that you would support us, but we have support people to do the low-grade things. You would be an integral part of the team. We would need to trust each other implicitly.”
“I normally work alone and in my apartment.”
“Unfortunately, that isn’t negotiable. We’re a team and the only way to stay bonded is to physically work together, often. Not that you can’t work at home on some things, in fact you’ll probably need a good set up there as well, but it’ll have to be in this town or near enough to it to get to the office.”
“I’m sorry, Jac. I can’t agree to do a nine to five job because I don’t do that kind of work.”
“I understand. None of us do, but we all live within twenty miles. Look, it’s getting late,” said Jac. “I’d like to stop by tomorrow morning, take you to breakfast before you leave on your afternoon flight. Answer any other questions you might have and ask any that I might think up later tonight.”
Three months later she was working in her new office at Reynaud & Associates. The company’s technology was in its infancy stage, much more so than any of their personal gear which was high tech. She settled in to setting up what she knew they’d need. The challenge was just the change she was looking for and working with the guys, as she affectionately called them, wasn’t as difficult as it had first seemed. She had taken the chance to change her life for the better. Now, months after she had answered the invitation to talk, she was part of this kick butt team and she was happy in her choice. Well, except she had a crush on her new boss.
Jacquard Reynaud was exotic to look at, intense to work with, and easy to trust. She was excited to get to know him better. No girlfriend. She got the impression that the only one with a steady girlfriend might be Monroe. They were typical men, not ready to settle down. She wasn’t either. And she certainly didn’t need to have an affair with her boss. It would inevitably end and the mess at work would be unbearable. No, she would look but not touch and learn to be satisfied with him visiting her dreams. It would have to be enough.
“Hey, Charlie, want some coffee?” Charlotte looked up to see Kaden smiling and waving a coffee pot in the air.
“Yes thanks, but don’t call me Charlie.”
“Sorry, but Charlotte isn’t going to last around here. I mean, Rebecca at reception is fine as Rebecca, but our team isn’t going to handle Charlotte for long. Charlie is a good compromise to Char or Lottie.”
They both cringed at those.
“So, before someone assigns something more hideous, let’s agree on Charlie.”
“How about Sharl—”
“Charlie? When did we start calling you Charlie? It’s about time. Charlotte is so formal,” declared Monroe as he grabbed the pot from Kaden.
“Well, I didn’t agree.”
Carter walked in with Garrett. “Hey,” called out Monroe, “we can call her Charlie now.”
“Good. Jac said we couldn’t push her on something like that. I mean, she can be called anything she wants but Charlie just works better,” replied Carter.
Garrett walked up behind her, his voice firm. “Do you want me to tell them to knock it off? If you want to be called only Charlotte, you have to speak up now.”
She looked at him ruefully. “Well, I guess I can get used to it, but I prefer Sharlee.”
“Gotcha, but you need to learn to hold your own with these guys. They have to learn to trust your word and if you just let them get away with little things like this, they won’t know whether to believe you or not on the big things. Think about it.” He patted her hand and walked away. Later that day, Jac came in and corrected Kaden when he called her Charlie.
“No, Jac, it’s cool. She’s okay with it.”
Jac looked at her and raised his eyebrow almost to a point over his left eye. She simply smiled wryly and shrugged her shoulders. Jac walked closer to her. “You good with this, really?”
“It’s fine. I shouldn’t be so touchy.”
“Charlotte, it’s your name.”
“I know. I prefer Sharlee if I must have it shortened but I’ve decided the guys can call me Charlie if they are more comfortable with it, but no other derivatives.”
Jac nodded and whistled loudly. “Listen up you morons. Charlotte prefers her given name but if you must shorten it, it is Sharlee not Charlie. Do I need to spell it, or can you handle it?”
From then on, the only one to call her Charlotte consistently was Jac, the man who visited her regularly in her dreams.
Today’s long day had turned into tonight’s long night. She had to do just a little bit more. She was used to pushing herself but not used to others noticing or caring.
“Charlotte, it’s time to go home.” Jac reached for the papers on her desk.
“What? No, I have so much more to do.” Charlotte scrambled for her reference material and tried to push him away.
“Tomorrow is another day.”
“I’m not a two-year-old. I know all about tomorrow. It’s the day I won’t be able to see above the pile of work I have if I don’t stay and do more tonight.”
“If you don’t act like a toddler, you won’t be treated like one.”
Sharlee tried to ignore him. She looked at her screen, diverted from the conversation by another tidbit that caught her interest.
“Charlotte Hope Armstrong shut it down, now.”
Her tummy wiggled in arousal, but she was too busy to stop and do more than acknowledge both her dampening panties and her demanding boss. “Argh. Would you just go home? I know how to lock up.”
“It’s eight o’clock. I’m going to close up my office and so are you. If I come back and you haven’t done as instructed, there will be consequences. Am I understood?”
“Okay, okay.” She almost wanted to know what the consequences would be. Almost. One day she would push that magic button and see what happened.
She had officially invaded his dreams. Charlotte was never off his mind for long and it was driving him crazy. She was incredibly intelligent. He liked everything about her from her well-proportioned body to her sharp wit. She could easily become buried in a task and have to be literally taken away, like he had just done.
She agreed reluctantly, but Jac saw that antsy wiggle and wondered if it was because his small show of dominance flipped her switch or because she really was too preoccupied to listen. He left her with no doubt that he was serious. If she were his, she’d already be sporting a blush from her first taste of a hot bottom. If she persisted, she’d have the full on sizzle, the result of his hard hand kissing her jiggling ass.
Jac was a virile man in his mid-thirties who enjoyed spanking his women for both fun and discipline. His previous partners had all been more experienced than he was sure Charlotte was. He hadn’t felt this strongly for a woman in a long time, maybe he never had. Hell, she wasn’t even thirty. He caught her looking at him with something in her green eyes, but he wasn’t pursuing. He should recalibrate his sites, but he didn’t know if he could. He needed to be sure she was prepared for what he had to offer first. She might never be.
Walking back out, he saw she had packaged up her things but was still sitting and looking at her screen. The little minx was doing her best to get a hot seat and he was going to try his best not to give it to her. The boundaries were clear, but damn if he didn’t want her and the way he wanted her was decadent.
“Charlotte, are you looking for a spanking?”
“What?” she sputtered as she quickly shifted from looking at the screen to looking at Jac as her face turned deep red. She must have decided it was a serious question. “Um, no sir, I was just waiting on you.”
She hit a few keys, turned off her monitor and walked toward the elevators. He reached behind her and swatted her ass once, hard, on his way to turn off the lights. He made sure she understood the smack as the warning it was meant to be.
“Ow,” she said in response as she scooted out of his path and turned her bottom away from him at the elevator. She wasn’t outraged and almost sounded as though she had expected it.
“Do not disobey a direct order and don’t be slow in your compliance of the same.”
His tone was firm as he watched her intently. She nodded. It appeared as though she was fighting the urge to rub the smacked cheek. She was biting her lip. Could the minx be turned on? No, he was reading more into it than was there. He’d not pursue. Couldn’t pursue, but he damn sure wanted to pick her up and toss her over his shoulder like the Neanderthal she often called the guys.
Jac was glad Charlotte was backed away and averted her eyes because his increasingly hardening cock would have been obvious otherwise. He was relieved when the elevator swished open.
They reached the garage and Jac walked her to her car, and said, “You pull out ahead of me and once I see you’re out, I’ll follow.” Then he watched as she started her car and pulled out. There were only a few cars in the garage and the disobedient minx waited on him to do the same before preceding him out to the street. It was a nice gesture and he was sure she thought she was keeping him safe as well. He would never point out that he would be less distracted in a dangerous situation if she were not in the vicinity of the same danger. He shook his head.
The image of Sharlee’s reaction to his swat followed him into his dreams and he was up at four just to give attention to his perpetual hard on. Jac found his relief while thinking of Charlotte willingly taking his discipline, followed by hot, paint peeling sex. He rolled over and thought about how screwed he was. He had it bad for her. No other woman had even come close to arousing him since Sharlee.
He’d been off the dating circuit for about six months before Charlotte signed on, but since she joined the team, she was the only one in his bedroom scenes. Maybe he just needed to get laid. Still unable to sleep despite the stress relief, he admitted defeat. He might as well get his run out of the way.
Walking into the office, Jac was jazzed. His early day made him feel as though he had the tiger by the tail. He breezed through the next few meetings. He ordered lunch in so the team could huddle on the next stage of their new contract. Charlotte was moody. She had been working on the face recognition program she’d collaborated on during grad school over five years ago. It was still nearly the best out there and that was a hell of a lot more than they had without her.
She’d tweaked the program even further, fine-tuning it using her nearly unfettered access to government programs which she retained because of the occasional side job she still accepted from them. It was outside Jac’s team and he didn’t like it. However, business was benefitting so unless it became a problem to Charlotte performing her work for them, he said nothing. It was a symbiotic relationship just like Charlotte and Jac’s as yet unnamed affiliation. Yeah, he wasn’t about to rock that boat either.
It’d been another long but productive week with two contracts closed. Another week of men that were possessive and over-protective at times, but it was the best Sharlee had ever felt since leaving home as a new college student. Actually, while she’d always been well cared for, that male protectiveness went missing when her dad was killed in an auto accident. She was eight when she lost him. For once, she was glad it was nearly time to knock off. It was her week to stay until closing. The work was sometimes difficult to deal with, but it was worth it. She often made a difference she could see.
Tonight, Charlotte wanted to follow a lead on her own. It wasn’t dangerous but it meant going off the grid just a little. She jumped in the car, locked the door, and headed twenty miles into the country. The drive away from rush hour traffic was nice and she rolled down the window partway to enjoy the balmy spring breeze.
Turning onto the appropriate road, she craned her neck to look for a house that while it had an address, she couldn’t find on satellite pictures of the area. The guys didn’t like that she insisted on being on the closing roster, but she had insisted and finally Jac agreed. They would be uncontainable if they knew she had gone on a little hunting expedition alone.
Sharlee had been monitoring a suspicious group of communications and had tracked the signal to this house. She knew her hunch might be all washed up, but it was odd to not have a google map point. The light was beginning to wane and Charlotte considered turning back but told herself she could push on just a little further. If she found nothing, it would satisfy her need to know tonight. She could come back tomorrow and have a better search if need be.
Looking at the stills she had of the coordinates, she didn’t see a house either. Discouraged, she turned onto a small dirt side road to make a U-turn when she heard a popping sound followed by a ‘poof’ and her car sank slightly. Damn, a flat tire. When she got out to identify which one to change, she was irritated that there were two flats. One flat she could handle, but two was more than she had replacement tires for, and plenty odd.
Looking to see what was in the road that could have caused the blowouts, she found a small bit of wood with nails on it. If she had been going faster, she’d have blown all four tires. Angry she’d need a tow truck, she glanced around the surrounding area for the first time. She’d known it was a little off the grid, but it was more creepy at this time of night than she bargained for, and she needed assistance.
Luckily, another one of those billboard signs advertising a towing company that she had been passing was right in front of her. She figured the guy must live nearby. The light was changing, indicating the sun would set soon. Sharlee dialed the number and in less than ten minutes, a truck drove up.
“Looks like you’re in a bit of a bind, miss.”
Sharlee looked at the man and hesitated before speaking. “I guess I am. I think I ran over something because both of my front tires are blown. It’s just my luck.” She decided to keep her find to herself. Something was off, but she wasn’t sure if it was her paranoia or what. “Obviously, I only have one spare tire. Could you get me to the nearest gas station?”
“Sure, but I have a shop about half mile further down this road. I could fix you up in no time.”
The man reached for a metal hook to attach to the under casing of her car without saying another word. Charlotte jumped from behind her car door where she had been standing.
He walked up closer to Sharlee causing her stomach to cramp from the bad vibes she got. He was positively leering, causing her body to seize with anxiety. His dirty shirt declared there was ‘No such thing as bad sex.’ Her panic rose.
“What’s wrong? Don’t you want help?” The man seemed to ooze the sleaze factor.
“Well, um, do you take credit cards?”
His smile was lewd. “Sorry little lady, we only accept cash.”
Speaking through her fear she said, “Your truck says you take credit cards.”
Then the creepy man sneered and said he could only accept cash after dark. “But we could work it out if you like.” His grin revealed a set of dingy yellow teeth that made the acid in her stomach roil.
She looked at the still light sky as she contemplated his words. “That doesn’t make… Just a moment,” she said. “Don’t hook me up any more until I see if I can get the cash.”
God, something was terribly wrong, and it felt like a crappy but equally horrifying version of the Bates Motel. She jumped back into her car, locked the door, and called Jac. He made her stay on the line while every available man was called to show up in response to her mayday call. She was privy to his choice words about the situation as he made the calls while she was on speaker phone. She cringed. He was royally pissed at her.
“I just called my friend to bring me some cash,” she said through the small opening at the top of her window. She made sure it was small enough that he could not get his fingers inside while she sat and bounced her leg nervously.
“Got another gal bringing money, huh? I’ll wait in the truck.” He rubbed his hands as though she had ordered him a seven-course meal.
Charlotte would have laughed when the guys showed up if her relief wasn’t so profound. The tow truck man was understandably worried when two large black SUVs and six brawny men poured out, swarming the scene like bees to honey. Garrett, Monroe, Mark, Carter, and Kaden stood between her and the truck, assessing the situation. Jac asked the driver if he took a credit card and the driver answered in the affirmative.
“Dumb fuck,” was Jacquard’s reply just before Carter sent his fisted hand into the man’s jaw. Then the police showed up. And the questioning began. The board was located and pulled out of the grass. When that was cleared up, Charlotte got into the back seat of the SUV with Jac, as ordered.
“The guys will take care of your car. We’ll get you home. What were you doing out here?”
Jac listened quietly, but Charlotte wasn’t so shaken that she didn’t notice his left hand flexing open and closed. Monroe drove, also remaining quiet while she spoke. Charlotte was exhausted and her voice gave her away.
“Damn sweetheart, what was going on in your mind to go off the main road, in the dark and then call a complete stranger to help you when you have any number of knuckleheads ready to defend your honor and rescue you?”
“What? How was I to know that you couldn’t trust a tow guy? I mean, aren’t they bonded?”
“I’m sure they are but why didn’t you call one of us to come and take care of the issue?”
“Jac, I can handle things on my own.” She sounded whiny even to her own ears.
“Right, as this proved so well. You don’t need to handle things like this while any of us is available. Don’t make that mistake again, understood?”
“Sure, whatever,” was her response, accompanied by a shrug. It was the wrong response.
“Right, I thought we could deal with this differently, but I’m not happy with not doing it my way and you’re obviously not happy handling it this way either, so over you go.”
“Over my lap, sweetheart.”
Sharlee tried to backpedal. “No… I… okay wait. I guess I thought since I was off duty, it was my problem.”
Monroe whistled and shook his head while looking at her in the rear-view mirror but said nothing.
“You signed the paperwork. It said you would notify one of us when there was a problem.”
“With work, Jac. This wasn’t work. Well, it is really, but it’s after hours.”
“With anything, Charlotte Hope, you should know that.”
She fell silent. What else could she say? Not that she loved the feeling of having all these guys watch out for her like her brothers. Certainly not that she had a crush on her boss. Jac had to be eight or more years her senior, at least, but he was the hottest specimen she had seen possibly ever. And under no circumstances would she tell him that she was a closet spanko or she masturbated to the time he had swatted her ass at the elevator.
She murmured like a repentant child. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it meant outside of work as well. But why?”
“Why worry when I’m not working?”
“Look, Sharlee, you are still relatively new to the idea but—”
“I’ve been here over a year.”
“And some of us have been together for over a decade. As I was saying,” he gave her a hard stare, “we worked hard putting this team together. Garrett and I and later Monroe vetted every single one of you for a time before we signed you on. We have support people to keep us going but when we went looking for a member of the team who could cover all the computer work, we had expected the best would be a man.”
She opened her mouth in surprise and he shrugged unashamedly. “Sorry, but that’s how it was. We never expected a woman on the team. Nevertheless we found you, touted to be one of the best in the field, and we reluctantly interviewed you. You impressed the hell out of us and we all knew we had to have you.”
He rarely called her Sharlee. She wasn’t sure if she liked it. On his lips it sounded proprietary. She spent many nights dreaming of what it would be like to be claimed by him. A non-fraternization rule would have helped her resolve to keep her hands off her boss. Mixing love and business was never a good idea.
She opened her mouth again, but he put his hand up to halt her words. “We not only liked your work, we liked you. A lot. You showed you could work independently, but could be a team player when required. This last year has shown us that you’re the perfect fit for us. You’re part of our family now. So like it or not, Monroe will attest to the fact that you are now a woman with too many protectors. Until tonight. Then you have just enough.”
Her nose had that distinctive tingle of the formation of tears. Her sigh got a little watery. “I guess I had no idea. I mean, I knew we got along fine, and there are plenty of hints about Neanderthal men, but I guess I don’t know what to say, exactly.”
She loved it, but she couldn’t let on. Even after she lost her dad, she’d always felt safe, but it wasn’t the same as knowing who was looking out for you. Now she did know who was looking out for her. They protected her and contributed to her sense of security. But she wasn’t ready to tell them that. Not yet.
“So you now understand why I’m going to roast your butt.” He rubbed his hands on his thighs.
“What? No, I’m not okay with that. Besides it doesn’t explain why at all.”
Her heart was racing and her stomach’s churning began again only for a different reason. She’d never told anyone how much she dreamed of living a domestic discipline lifestyle. Well, she thought she’d like it. No one had ever spanked her other than an occasional swat and never as an adult except that one swipe from Jac. Her pink bits were slick as she wiggled and she was sure her panties were wet. She didn’t dare move again for fear of leaving a wet spot. Monroe pulled out a rubber paddle from somewhere and Charlotte wasn’t going to ask from where.
“You can’t do that you know,” she said when she finally spoke again over her tight chest.
“I can if you let me.”
“We care about you and you just made a colossal error in judgement that could have cost you your life. We can’t have that happen again.”
“It won’t,” she spoke with authority.
“Not after I spank you it won’t.” Jac was equally confident.
“If I let you do this, it means I’m agreeing to it forever. I don’t know if I can do that and I like my job.”
“Sweetheart, you’ll never lose your job. You’re too good, we need you too badly, and like I said before, you are part of the family now. I’m not sure I can do without you, now that I know what having you is like. Call it the best kind of job security.”
She hoped he meant more than her IT skills.
“If you don’t allow this lesson, I will understand but it means we’ll have to do other things that help you remember to take care of yourself and to call us.”
“Like what, exactly?”
“Like five a.m. PT.”
“Calisthenics, running, you know, physical training, helps you remember not to repeat your mistakes by putting them into cadences.”
“What?” Her voice was squeaky and too high. They all knew she didn’t exercise more than the minimum. Just what the job mandated, and this was a job that mandated a high level of fitness even for her. “I’m not getting up at five in the morning when I often don’t finish working before three in the morning and I dare you to try to make me.” She was feeling slightly more in control than a moment ago, but it didn’t last.
Monroe laughed. “I wouldn’t challenge Jac, honey. He is likely to take you up on it.”
Jac continued. “Then you need to have a spanking. It’s quick and done.” She rubbed her thighs together but didn’t answer. Things were getting slippery in more than one way. “You don’t have to do this, Charlotte, but it will clear your conscience.”
“My conscience is fine.”
“Yep, because you take for granted that six co-workers stopped what they were doing to help you out, right? They were glad to do it, but it should not have happened. If you were more careful about what you did alone and where you went, it wouldn’t have. If you had called us first, two would have come out, not six.”
She was feeling anxious. He was right about her guilt. In addition, heaven help her, she really was curious what it would feel like. It would be her opportunity to see if the reality matched her dreams. Her panties were downright wet, and her clit was twitching and the humming vibrations on uneven roads were making everything worse. Just this once, should she satisfy her body and mind that she really wasn’t into this type of thing?
When Jac spoke next, his voice was kind and gentle but firm. “You have to agree, but I hope you do because you need this.” He held out his hand and for whatever reason, she put her small hand in his and waited. Did she need this spanking because it was just who she was? She jerked her hand back at the fear her thought brought with it.
“Charlotte.” He communicated patience, affection, authority in that one word and she melted.
“Okay.” He wiggled his extended fingers.
She, once again, put her small hand in his larger one and allowed him to guide her over his lap. Suddenly, her tummy was pinging like a pinball machine. He didn’t reach for the rubber paddle and she was glad for that, however, he did pull her yoga pants down.
“Wait. Don’t, you can’t do that.” Her breathing had become more labored. Her face was burning.
Jac chuckled. “Don’t worry. I’m leaving your lacey undies.” His voice darkened, “This time.”
She wasn’t as worried about her nakedness as she was afraid he’d find out her secret, those darn drenched panties. The cool air soon registered on her nether lips through the damp gusset, causing her to clench her bottom. Regardless of her preparation, the ferocity of the first swat, startled her. He had allowed her to retain her flimsy covering, whether it was for her modesty or another reason, and she was grateful. She’d read plenty of romances that explained the process of a spanking, but the actual punishment lacked adequate description.
When his palm landed, it created an explosion on her ass that she could not breathe through or space out from even if she’d tried. The second one she thought she was prepared for but she rocked away to avoid the strike but he hit center mass anyway. That hurt. A lot.
“Stay still young lady, unless you need the rubber paddle?”
She shook her head. Number three drew a squeal and she clenched her bottom muscles even tighter. Tears filled her eyes. She squeezed them to stop the overflow. The fourth swat slammed into her throbbing buttock the moment she relaxed them, and she began to beg.
“Oh my lord, Jac, you have concrete hands. Please be done.” She could feel her arousal regardless of the heat she knew was radiating from her backside.
“One more,” was all he said and then he laid it down.
It was a scorcher. Her whole ass moved and she cried out with the last one. Just five sensationally stinging swats and it was over. His hand was paddle enough. She’d never survive more. Tears stung her eyes but didn’t fall. The heat of embarrassment rose up her neck and diffused onto her face. It was further humiliating when she remembered Monroe was also in the vehicle, but he never said another word.
Later, she figured he was a witness to the event in case anything came of it, in case she accused Jac of anything. She wouldn’t put it past them to have recorded everything. It hurt her to think they’d feel the need for that precaution.
After the swats were over, he waited as though he knew she needed a moment to herself and she was mortified that her panties and pussy were so slippery it was physically uncomfortable. She wanted to remove the wisp of material. This was more than she had bargained for. At least it verified her love of spanking.
She was still aroused, embarrassingly excited, and she hoped she was the only one who knew but she thought she could smell her own arousal making her wonder what his scent mixed with hers would smell like, their own special lovers blend. She almost giggled. Jac never gave any indication that he discovered her secret. He replaced her pants and then pulled her up onto the seat next to him. He put his arm around her, pulling her into his chest. He allowed her to sit up when they arrived back at the office.
“Jac, no one hears that recording, you got me? No one.”
He nodded seriously and said, “Got it.” And that was all that was said about any of the actions in the car.
Once they were in the office and everyone had returned, Sharlee chastised the men she had just grown to love that much more. “You know guys I have to learn to live alone. I need to be able to handle things myself.”
“Not happening, Sharlee, and you do live alone. We just make sure you’re safe. It isn’t as if we’re in every aspect of your life,” said Garrett.
“Right,” she said with the proper eye roll accompaniment. “I need to do stuff alone because I’m an adult and that is what adults do.” She lowered her voice. “And,” she turned to Jac who was off to the side of the group. Though she spoke in hushed tones, the others still heard her say, “I don’t want you smacking my butt anymore.”
“Because it’s just not done.”
“Yes, Shar, but you’re ours and until you get your own protector, this is how it’s going to play out.” Monroe seemed to think there was no question.
“Stop calling me that. And what makes you think you can spank me if you don’t like the outcome?”
“What makes you think we can’t?” asked the ever-pragmatic Mark.
“Okay, so not can’t, but how about shouldn’t?”
“Nah, we spank our women and like I said, until you get your own primary protector, we’re it,” Garrett said.
“And if you think we go away when you get an appropriate guy, you’re wrong. We just join forces and back down when he needs to take over,” Monroe added.
As she walked away, she overheard Mark or maybe she was meant to hear him. “She must have gotten off light because five swats per cheek are Jac’s standard for his girlfriends, and not a one thinks to mouth back for at least an hour.”
Sharlee understood she was a new experience because there never had been a woman on the team, but Mark’s claim that Jac believed in ten for stupid, twenty for naughty, was more than she would ever be able to take. She shuddered to even consider it.
She moaned. They were protective, possessive, and fierce, and God help her because she believed every word they said. It wasn’t just creating and building this job she was going to spend long months working on, it would also be spent building a privacy fence around her life. She mentally smiled. Maybe she could put in one or two little windows for rescuers.