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Dutch and the Cowboy was published as two separate novellas on Spanking Romance. Each story stands on its own, but they both tell of two men in the same special ops unit… And both friends share the desire to dominate their lovers.
Dutch has burned with love for Nita for years… but can he keep her safe from his past while making her scream from his pleasures and his discipline? Or will the combination prove fatal to his loved one?
The Cowboy, West, got into spanking to keep his sister walking the straight and narrow while he was away fighting. But now that he's retired, his attention immediately goes to another bottom that needs spanking—his sister's friend, Livvy… But can Livvy appreciate that this strapping man is everything she needs, or are the desires for domination too deep to ever come to the surface?
Scream, baby, scream.
That raw, hoarse phrase, uttered such a short - and such a long - time ago, haunted him, waiting to bring the unbearable pang of fresh guilt whenever it saw the opportunity.
His jaw set as he shifted in the tiny hospital chair, taking no notice of its tortured groan. He only saw, heard, felt one thing: the ethereal presence beneath the rough white sheet. She was barely big enough to make a dent in the bed, and yet she was his whole world.
Always had been, always would be.
...if she pulled through.
He swallowed hard on that thought, and ruthlessly dragged his mind away from it, while his eyes couldn't escape giving him the proof behind it. He'd counted four hanging IV bags, a naso-gastric tube feeding her through her nose, a respirator breathing loudly for her, a heart monitor beating in agonizingly slow time, and a machine that provided up to the minute vitals. He'd learned very quickly how to translate Celsius to Farenheit, knowing the doctors were concerned about the possibility of infection.
His jaw nearly cracked. With that many bullet holes, how could they not?
She moved slightly, her mouth working around the respirator tube, chewing on it aggrivatedly in the drug induced haze they'd created for her. He rose immediately and went to stand next to her. He'd been in much this same position himself, and he knew how uncomfortable those blasted tubes were.
One big paw caressed her forehead in a gesture so delicate and caring that many who knew him would have sworn he couldn't have pulled it off, just because of his sheer size.
"Rest, blondie, rest," he was barely able to whisper, but it seemed to soothe her back into unconsciousness. He continued to stroke her hair, murmuring softly to her, wanting to do something - anything - to help her pull through this.
She had to pull through this.
Not for him - he'd known from day one that he would never deserve her - but for herself and her friends and family. She was too important to too many people not to.
That he would never survive her loss went without saying.
That he didn't want to survive her loss when it was caused by him and him alone was a bare fact with which he'd already made his peace.
* * *
The previous day...
"Dutch?" His name on her lips had always distracted him from anything he was doing, but tonight he really was concentrating pretty much on looking anywhere but at her. Her small hand tried, unsuccessfully, to cover his. "Are you okay?"
No one else in his life would have asked that question of him. It was usually the other way around. His size didn't encourage that type of inquiry; he was expected to survive anything, and make sure that everyone else on the team did, too.
He'd known Cherie since high school. She was the bubbly, popular sophamore to his dangerous, brooding senior. He should have been a linebacker on the football team, but no one had the nerve to ask him, not even the coach. Certainly not his alcoholic father and beaten down mother. They were so involved in making each other miserable they'd never take much interest in him. Clothing and feeding him was enough of a hardship on them - a fact they never failed to remind him of at the top of their lungs - that he'd begun working at the tender age of nine or so, keeping himself as independent of them as possible in every way.
Of course, his first jobs were a faint harbinger of what he would end up doing later in life. He was too young for most of the usual beginner positions, but he looked much older than he was due to his physical presence and the fact that he so rarely smiled. So he ran a protection racket, and ended up making more money in a week than most kids his age earned in a year.
It had disgusted him how easily he picked her out of a crowd whever classes changed - that tinkling laugh that warmed him all over in a way that made him want to be a world away and yet right next to her at the same time. She seemed to always be smiling, or laughing, and there was always a gaggle of friends around her.
He knew he'd never be a part of that group, and it irked him that he even thought of wanting that. He didn't want the group; he wanted the girl.
Fate - who had never shown any particular preference for him until then - provided him with the means to spend time with her. Dutch already made more than most of the teachers, but he also knew he needed at least a high school diploma. College would never be for him, but he was pragmatic enough, even at that age, to know that he needed that piece of paper in his back pocket, just in case.
The one class he absolutely had to pass was English, and she ended up being his tutor. Just when he was beginning to wonder who the geek was that the Principal had roped into teaching him, and figuring he was going to give him something to think about in regards to punctuality, she'd appeared in the doorway with an impossibly big grin on her face.
Most girls shied away from him - he was huge and taciturn; no one had ever seen him crack a smile, and his almost lethal reputation preceded him. No one wanted to chance getting beaten up.
But none of that seemed to have registered with Cherie. Her smile never faltered as she marched over to him and offered an impossibly small hand. "Hi! I'm Cherie Robichaud. You must be Alexander Lubec."
He was amazed that he felt the need to supress a smile at her; it was an unusual compulsion, but all he did was correct her with one implacable word. "Dutch."
Still smiling, she slung her sweatshirt over the chair and sat down. Belatedly, he'd realized that he should have risen when she entered, and pulled out the chair for her, but the compulsion towards such niceties was so unexpected that it merely puzzled him.
She was as tiny as he was huge. Probably barely came to his nipples, he thought, shifting immediately in the uncomfortable plastic chair, his thoughts making him just that much more uncomfortable. He shouldn't be thinking things like that about her. She was entirely unattainable, and there was no bucking that, but he couldn't seem to stop himself from beginning a thorough inventory of exactly what it was that attracted him about her.
He'd never really gone for blondes much; in his vast experience, which was considerable for a man his age, the blonde jokes that were all the rage had a grain of truth in them. Dutch knew that that wasn't true about Cherie, though. She was always on the Honor Roll, was a member of the National Honor Society, as well as playing in the school band and, apparently, tutoring dumb bastards such as himself. She had that gorgeous mane ruthlessly tugged away from her face in a ponytail right now, though, and he mourned the loss. It made her look younger, he thought with alarm, purposely trying to shift himself away from the lustful tone of his thoughts.
But he couldn't fail to notice how that nicely rounded bottom fit into the garish, red plastic seat.
"You're late," he chided in a deep, distinctly adult voice, surprising himself yet again. He almost never started a conversation with anyone, but lateness was a pet peeve of his.
She sighed loudly. "I know. I'm sorry. Kevin Blakely kept me, asking stupid questions about the Spanish Inquisition." She didn't add that he'd also done a passable impression of Mel Brooks' Inquisition Song from “The History of the World, Part I” that had her in stitches.
Dutch searched his mind for a picture of Kevin Blakely; he didn't pay much attention to what was going on socially in high school, having long since progressed into a more adult world. Kevin was the quarterback, an all-American football God, with cheerleaders and hangers on around him all the time. There were even rumors that he was being scouted by pro teams. He had the good looks of a male model, without the ambiguity of whether or not he was gay - he'd mowed his way through the popular set in record time.
He frowned at the thought that Cherie might be next on his list of conquests. True, she wasn't really a part of the jock clique, but he knew that wouldn't have stopped him, and he couldn't imagine that Kevin would hesitate, either. Cherie would be a catch for any man.
A mental note to speak to Kevin, just in case he had any ideas in that direction, was filed away in the back of his steel-trap mind.
Cherie busied herself organizing her books, since Kevin'd purposely occupied the usual ten minutes she had between sessions, but when she looked up at her student, she swallowed hard and suddenly remembered that they were alone in this room. It was after school, and there were few people left in the building.
She knew of Dutch, of course, by reputation alone. Few people in their school didn't. Even at seventeen, he was more physically and emotionally imposing than most adults, and everyone knew to steer clear of him, unless you wanted to end up in the hospital, or worse. Rumors abounded about various acts of violence and mayhem he'd supposedly committed, although most of them seemed to be entirely unsubstantiated, as far as she could tell.
But parts of her she'd rather not think about were contracting at his mere presence. Cherie took herself mentally in hand, and plastered another smile on her face just in time to look up at his forbidding scowl.
"What?" The question burst more nervously from her lips than she would have liked.
"Tardiness. Don't do it again." He desperately wanted to add a threat that he intended to make a promise - that he'd paddle her bottom if she was late again - but, all of a sudden, she looked so wary of him he was sure she'd walk out if he said one word, much less what he was actually thinking, so he kept it to himself. He had a good reason for not tolerating that particular bad habit; he had a job to do outside of school - unlike Miss Robichaud, he was quite sure. Being tutored was cramping his style, and his fiscal responsibilities wouldn't wait.
The smile faded from her face as if it had never been. Dutch didn't think he'd ever seen her when she wasn't smiling, and he didn't like it. "I can assure you, Alexander -"
"Dutch," again, more firmly this time.
He saw her lips twitch at being corrected, and had to reposition himself in his seat and again supress a smile. Little Miss Perfect didn't like being corrected. He couldn't imagine that it happened to her very much; she was everyone's darling.
Cherie refused to repeat his name back to him like some trained dog. "I can assure you that I am rarely late." It was exceedingly annoying to have this man - and there was no way she could even begin to think of him as a boy, unlike the rest of the male population of Raven Hill High, including Kevin Blakely - call her on the carpet for something that was neither her fault nor her usual habit.
"Good. 'Cause next time, I'll have to do something about it."
He’d said it a deliberately low tone, low enough that she would have to strain to hear it, and perhaps even think that he hadn't really said it.
But he heard her indrawn breath, and she had leaned a bit towards him to hear, which he counted as another definite benefit.
Cherie's mouth was dry. She knew she should have been alarmed; that was definitely a threat (or was it a promise?). But despite the fact that her mind was screaming that she should just pack up her books and leave before she got in any deeper with this hoodlum, she found she couldn't, on several levels.
She'd never given up on a student and she'd taught a wide range of them from grade school on, and she didn't intend to start now. But that was just her mind and her pride, which didn't seem to have much to do with the situation, if she was truthful with herself. The fact that he was the most blatantly dangerous being she'd ever encountered at such a close range only seemed to make her body hum more loudly, much to her alarm, and it was her body that seemed to be in charge in this situation, which was a distinct change for her.
Cherie had always been much more of an intellect than a beauty. She was used to being the smartest person in nearly every class, at least until she'd been put in a more challenging program just recently. Luckily, she had a great personality to go with it. She was almost always positive, and usually almost too willing to laugh. It was her tendency towards giggle fits with other girls that got her into trouble more often than anything else.
She'd never really felt attracted to most men, and had almost wondered at times whether she was gay, since the people she really liked tended to be women. They were just so much...more than men, especially in comparison to high school boys.
But this one, this man...All of her - in a way she'd never experienced - was on alert in his presence. And not because she felt threatened - although her mind was screaming that she rightly should have - but because he wasn't a boy. He was a man. And she knew, somehow, certainly without being told, that he was acutely aware of her as a woman. The parts of her that were most female, most feminine, responded to his inherent dominance in a manner they never had to anyone else. Her skin felt hot and prickly, and her heart was clenching painfully in her chest.
Even at seventeen, he was more of a man than most thirty year olds would ever be.
And she wanted him.
The thought made her swallow awkwardly, in mid-sentence, but she marshaled her reserves and soldiered on, not acknowledging his questioning look.
Later, in her pink and white bedroom, she could dwell on what possible form his promise might take.
* * *
A quirky friendship grew from those relatively few meetings, both of them resisting the elephant in the room attraction between them, each for different reasons. Dutch knew there was no way she could handle him; she was too young in so many ways that he was already too old. Cherie wanted him desperately; he had rapidly become the star in all of her steamiest dreams, the hero in all of the cheesy romance novels she devoured in her rare off time.
Although it was a toss up there, especially when they were thrown together for tutoring sessions, as to whether her head or her loins would prevail, as usual, she followed the dictates of her mind, forcibly guiding it away from him once their enforced association was over. She knew, even at her tender age, that this was not the right time for them, and, despairingly, that there would probably never be a right time. They were on very divergent paths that would most likely never bring them together again.
But they were never quite able to completely divorce themselves from each other. Dutch kept track of her through his various connections and, on the rare occasions when he was home, they would run into each other at parties and weddings, as social circles in Raven Hill were extremely small, and one's social sphere naturally broadened after high school. Cherie's was already pretty broad, and Dutch's had nowhere to go but up.
She sent him a chatty birthday card in March every year, after he'd let it slip in an unusually candid moment that his family had never really acknowledged his birthday, and again at Christmas, despite the fact that keeping track of his address could be a full time job in and of itself, and he almost never responded in kind. His voice messages were short, almost curt, and his letters were even worse. One year, both her Christmas and birthday cards were returned as undeliverable, and she began to worry, not that there was much she could have done about it.
Still, when she got home every day, she hoped for one of his infrequent phone messages and even more infrequent letters, and for months she was disappointed, and wondered if he was even alive.
Somehow, though, he managed to be there for major events in her life - wedding excluded of course. That was a topic they’d never really discussed, and he’d not contacted her once while she was married to the man that rapidly became her ex. He'd magically appeared when her parents died, despite the fact that she hadn't heard from him in more than a year.
When he took her into his arms, it felt so good that she could do nothing but sob, something she hadn't been able to do around anyone else, since she was the oldest and expected to be the backbone of the family. She'd made all the arrangements, cooked and cleaned and hugged and soothed, but no one had really seen to her.
Until Dutch came to town.