Monday, January 10, 2011

Threshing The Grain by Teresa Noelle Roberts

Chapter One


Adimir laid one hand over his heart. “I have a confession to make,” he said to Miryea.

It was hard for Miryea not to get distracted by the way Adimir’s gesture called attention to his bare chest, but something in her husband’s tone made Miryea sit up--they’d been reclined on the dining couch, though dinner was long since done--and turn to face him. He sounded serious, concerned, not like he was about to tease her, but like he truly had something on his mind. “It had better not be that the Emperor needs you to leave at dawn to infiltrate Kulchu territory again.”

She hoped she was kidding, but it wasn’t out of the question. She’d met Adimir when he was returning from a stint spying among the Kulchu; his mother was an escaped Kulchu slave so he could easily pass as one of their enemy neighbors. He had only made two brief forays into Kulchu territory since they’d wed, both lasting less than a week, but it wouldn’t surprise her if he was called out for more extensive service. Festivals, when border dwellers were distracted, often lured Kulchu raiders hoping to steal food and slaves.

He kissed the top of her head. “Nothing that serious, little rabbit.” His dark eyes were somber, though, his tone thoughtful. “No, I just wanted to confess I wish we could take your grandmother up on the invitation to visit her in Yareth for the Harvest Festival instead of going up to Thermanae.”

Miryea stifled a giggle. Then she decided she might as well let it out. “I know you like my grandmother’s Imperial Army stories--especially the ones about your father as a young officer getting into trouble in Poldar. But I know how much you hate cities. Guess the idea of me whipping you with twigs appeals to you about as much as it does to me.”

“It’s not that. The ritual itself doesn’t bother me. I don’t mind honoring the Lord of Grain’s sacrifice and most women do it so lightly it’s no worse than walking through undergrowth. Besides, I can’t fault anything that makes a pretty woman giggle as much as ‘threshing the grain’ does.” He smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “But much as I love my home, the Harvest Festival is one festival I’d just as gladly celebrate in a place where the gods and the old ways aren’t as close as they are at Thermanae. I’m sure in Yareth it’s all a grand excuse for a party, and right now, that sounds a lot more pleasant than the Thermanae way. We celebrate, but it has this desperate edge to it.”

“Maybe it’s knowing winter’s on the way that gives it the grim undertone. I hear winters are nasty in the hills. We could still….”

“Not unless Laeca finds a husband by Harvest Festival, and the last I heard, she didn’t have anyone in mind. As the satrap, my father must stay in Arlind for the Festival, so you and I need to lead the ritual for Thermanae. The Lord of Grain deserves honor for his sacrifice--and a couple with a land-bond needs to be there.”

“I see.” She wasn’t sure she believed it herself, but she wasn’t going to argue with Adimir’s faith. The Thelanese believed in Lady Sun and the Lord of Grain far more in than most Soranians, and took the religious festivals seriously, not just as an excuse for revelry and sexual adventure. Since coming to know Adimir and settling in Thelana, Miryea understood why. In a place where the Lord and Lady of an estate were mystically bound to the land and satyrs might pop in to trade rough wine and wild honey for milk and bread, it was hard not to believe the ancient legends. “I’m not keen on this festival either. If anyone’s getting spanked, I’d rather it be me, seeing that I enjoy it. I much prefer the way we do it back home, with feasting and drinking new wine and men letting their seed fall where they will. Even if the streets are an awful mess the next morning.”

“Just keep in mind that if I act strange as Festival approaches, it’s nothing to do with you. This time of year gets under my skin,” Adimir continued.

She nodded and snuggled closer, encouraging him. Adimir wasn’t one to talk easily about things that troubled him--he preferred to confront a problem, solve it, and then tell you the story. Most of Adimir’s problem-solving involved bashing people who deserved bashing, rescuing people who needed rescuing and other grand, dangerous escapades that made good stories later. She kept telling him he’d someday run into a problem he couldn’t solve with violence--and he kept telling her that if he did, he’d let her deal with it, seeing that she was the educated one. If this was bothering him enough that he wanted to talk about it, she’d listen.

He was silent for awhile, stroking her flank and back idly, occasionally kissing the top of her head.

When he pulled her closer and cupped one breast with his big hand, Miryea figured that he was done with serious topics and moving on to distraction. Simply admitting he’d rather be somewhere else than Thermanae for a festival was deeper for him than she could really understand. She had a land-bond with Thermanae through their wedding ritual, but she hadn’t spent enough time there yet to figure out what it entailed. Adimir’s was much stronger, bred in his blood and bones. Being Adimir, he probably expected she’d understand that and fill in how serious his admission was and why he might be a bit cranky and edgy. She couldn’t, of course, but perhaps his mother could give her some clues later.

But he wasn’t done. “As a boy, I hated the Harvest Festival. It scared me. I think it did a lot of the lads. Just knowing that we used to sacrifice a young man to honor the Lord of the Grain....” She turned to look at him, struck by the starkness of his voice. His eyes hinted at a child who suffered nightmares around the time of the Harvest Festival, a striking contrast to the muscular warrior he had become. “I was too young to understand that the Lord and Lady had forbidden such things, that they’d happened in the dim past when we were ignorant.”

Hearing her calm, brave husband admit to his fears shook Miryea, so she turned to the humor that had always been her first defense. “It must have been scary. Especially in Thelana. That dim past was…what? Your grandparents’ day?” She scooted off the couch as she spoke, getting out of easy reach in anticipation of the thwack Adimir was certain to aim at her butt. Teasing Adimir about his backward native satrapy practically guaranteed a spanking.

And a spanking practically guaranteed spending the next few hours tangled with Adimir in hot, sweaty sex.

So why, exactly, was she dodging that spanking?

Because every time she felt herself craving the stinging thwacks, craving the way Adimir used his size and strength to dominate her, she heard her grandmother the soldier snorting in disgust at women who let men kick them around. Heard the urban woman she used to be laughing at the old-fashioned ways of Thelana, with its downtrodden women and domineering men.

But seven hells, it wasn’t like that between her and Adimir. It was all for fun--and it turned them both on. A good spanking and some wild lovemaking was bound to get Adimir’s mind out of the dark place into which it was slipping. Childhood nightmares sounded comical on the surface, but she knew that terrors planted in a child’s mind could shape an adult’s life. And her own childish fears had been mundane things, mockery and failure and disgrace and a father’s drunken stumbling, not human sacrifice.

Definitely best to give them both something else to think about, something they would both enjoy. In any case, it was a fine reason to do something she wanted to do anyway.

At the last second, she cocked her hip back into the swat. His palm connected with a slap that resonated through her two long coats, one a silk and linen blend, the other plain linen, and her thin linen salvar. It stung, but in a way that vibrated from her butt to her sex and clit, making them throb in delicious sympathy.

“Oh, you like that, little rabbit?” Adimir already knew the answer, so he kept spanking her as he said it.

But she knew he liked to hear it, liked confirmation that Miryea craved a hot, tender bottom as much as he enjoyed giving it to her.

Lord and Lady, if someone had told her before the Spring Equinox that she’d come to crave such treatment, she’d have laughed. Or thrown something at them. Or possibly taken them to talk to a priest, since they were clearly delusional.

Then again, she hadn’t believed in magic before the Equinox either, or that the gods still took a hand in human affairs. That was before Adimir’s physician mother Jaenna had shown her magical ways of healing that no one at the university in Poldar would believe possible.

And before she and Adimir had seen the Lady and Lord at play, giving divine approval to their union.

She’d learned a lot in the past two seasons.

The most important thing she’d learned wasn’t anything grand or deep, anything magical or divine, although some might argue that it was grander and deeper than most things, because all sexual unions honored the Lord and Lady.

It was that she loved Adimir and he loved her, and that sometimes it was fine to express their love with her ass hot and red and in the air, waiting for him to fuck her from behind.

“More,” she moaned. “Harder.”

“Harder, little rabbit? Are you sure? You know where that will get you.”

“Exactly where I want to be.”

He flipped up her coats and bent her over so she was leaning on the hard couch, her face buried in the pillows piled on it.

A few more thwacks, harder this time, unmediated by anything except her thin salvar. With his free hand, Adimir reached around to cup her breasts, teasing at first one nipple, then the other, until even the fine linen of her underq’misa, thin enough that she could pull both q’misa and salvar through her wedding ring, felt coarse against their tenderness.

Miryea’s ass burned until she thought the only thing that kept her salvar from catching fire was the moisture welling from her sex. Her body clenched in a way that told her that when her release came, it would come hard, making her scream loudly enough that the servants would cast sly, knowing looks at them in the morning and grin to themselves, because when the lord and lady of an estate were united in passion, the Lord and Lady smiled on the estate. And even if Adimir and Miryea were only the heirs to an estate (and the secondary heirs at that, for Laeca was the older sibling), it couldn’t hurt.

Adimir paused in the spanking, slid his hand lovingly along the curve of her ass. “It’s so pink now,” he said, “that I can see it through the linen. And wet….” He pulled at the linen, stretching it taut over her sex. “You’re ready for me, all rosy and juicy and swollen. Do you want me to fuck you, little rabbit, or do you want me to strip you naked and spank your bare ass?”

He pressed against her, letting her feel his body, his hard muscle, his hard cock. After the time he’d spent among the Kulchu, he had little modesty, and none of the Soranian attitude that hiding the body most of the time made it more compelling, more arousing, when you chose to display it.

He liked to display his.

On him, it worked. Then again, it helped that his body was an unusually fine one.

On this warm night, he’d shucked his coats and undertunic as soon as it was certain they were alone for the evening. The heat of his bare chest radiated even through all her clothes. His dark blue linen salvar were tented by his hard cock, which he rubbed between her legs. She pushed back against it, reveling in the sensation as it teased at her swollen clit and probed at her through damp linen. The fabric, even the sturdier linen that made up his salvar, seemed so delicate that his cock might tear right through to enter her. The sharp, rich smell of her arousal and Adimir’s spicy musk hung heavy in the warm early autumn air.

This was one of those times when she wished Jaenna had taught her some magical way to remove clothing. If there was one, she figured a former Kulchu slave would know it--although she wouldn’t necessarily teach it to her daughter-in-law. If Adimir didn’t give her a chance to undress soon, she didn’t think she’d have the coordination to unbutton her coats.

And she was getting tired of losing the buttons on her coats because he got impatient.

Adimir swiveled his hips so his cock moved against her, reminding her just how delicious it would feel when he moved like that inside her. “Do you want this inside you now, love, or do you want more spanking and teasing first?”

“Yes!”

“It wasn’t a yes-or-no question. Do you want fucking or do you want spanking?” He chuckled deep in his chest, a sexy rumble. He pulled his hands back and stepped away, just enough so her skin felt bereft without him. “So which is it going to be?”

Miryea’s brain wasn’t working very well, but she knew there wasn’t a wrong answer to this question. She simply couldn’t decide which delicious option sounded more enticing.

But she knew he wanted to hear her say, in so many words, that she wanted to be spanked or fucked. Preferably one, then the other.

So she did the only thing a reasonable woman could under the circumstances, with her ass and sex throbbing in rhythm with her need. She answered, “Both. I want both. Spank me some more and then fuck me. Why choose between the two?”

He didn’t do anything right away, didn’t say a word. Held his breath, she swore. In any case, it became so quiet she could hear the music from his parents’ party in the main house--they were entertaining some Imperial officials--filtering in through the doors and windows open against the unseasonable heat. Seven hells, she could hear crickets chirping, a baby crying in the servants’ quarters, a dog barking the next street over, the blood rushing heatedly through her veins.

Her breasts felt heavy, her body hot and ripe as sun-warmed apricots. What in the world was he waiting for?

“Please,” she said, and to her embarrassment, it came out in a small voice that was almost a sob. “Adimir, please.”

“Happy to oblige, Lady Miryea,” he said, as a servant might, but sounding far too smug and cocky to be a servant (unless it was a servant who was carrying on with the lady of the house).

And then things started to blur.

Heated Restraints by Yvette Hines

Chapter One


Thor could hear the Carrie Underwood song blaring a quarter of a mile away. Even with the distance, the candy apple red shine of the car was vaguely identifiable as it barreled down the road’s flat terrain leading to the main gate of Moody Air Force Base.

Here comes trouble. The words echoed through Thor’s mind, only slightly comprehended above the car’s radio.

When the red Corvette finally pulled up beside him, the chorus of Before He Cheats was playing. He watched the blonde driver as she conversed with the brunette beside her and flipped her dependent identification toward him.

Things like that always pissed him off. “Excuse me, ma’am. I need you—”

Thor cut his own words off. Blondie still wasn’t giving him the benefit of eye contact.

On any other day, he would have repeated his order. But, not today. Today was his last day of work and he classified that as ‘taking no shit day’. Reaching across her body, he twisted the radio’s dial quickly, feeling it snap into the off position. Nice legs. He noted the fact that the skirt of her sundress was riding high on her thighs, whether by the wind or her instigation, it was a sight worth appreciating.

He returned to his authoritative stance beside the car.

Finally, the blonde turned with her brow pinched and pierced him with an angry glare, barely visible through the tint of her glasses. “Hey, where in the hell do you get off—”

“Sorry, ma’am,” he began “but it’s base policy—”

“I can care less about base policy. But, a little courtesy would’ve been nice.” The blonde woman pushed her sunshades on top of her head, allowing it to double as a headband holding her windblown shoulder length hair away from her face.

She had nice eyes. Hazel eyes. He hadn’t expected that color. Blue maybe or even brown, but the striking gold-green color of her irises emphasized by her mascara thickened lashes gave him pause.

Reigning himself in, he brought his focus back to the subject at hand. “When you pulled up, I requested you lower your music, but I guess you couldn’t hear me with the volume up so loud.” He purposely gave her a cocky smile.

The brunette leaned toward the driver’s side of the car with a snide smirk on her face. “Evidently, Technical Sergeant Zeller, you don’t realize who you’re talking to.”

Taking his sights off the driver, he glanced at her passenger for a moment. “Doesn’t matter, ma’am, the rules apply to anyone entering the base.”

The brunette hooted with laughter. “Your little security force’s handbook of rules doesn’t apply to Major General Michael Wright’s daughter.”

“Stephanie, don’t—” the blonde driver attempted to stop her friend.

Ignoring her, Stephanie, the brunette, went on, “I’m sure you know who he is.” She beamed a superior smile at him. “He’s here from the Pentagon to retire in his hometown. Our hometown. Claremont is a neighbor of Lowndes.”

Just great. I had to be the one to get the town princess.

The driver jumped in again. “Steph, leave it alone. It’s not worth it.”

He was sure the General’s daughter probably meant that he wasn’t worth the time.

“Well, when you get there, tell him I said congrats,” he commanded. Looking back at the driver, he placed an additional amount of authority in his voice. “Identification, please.”

Opening her hand, the blonde presented him with her card.

Collecting it from her for review, his fingers brushed the soft, supple skin of her palm and heat raced up through his fingertips. Lifting the picture, he scanned the name on the card. Liza Wright. Purposely, he held it longer than was necessary before he passed it back to her awaiting hand.

“Enjoy the ceremony, ma’am,” Thor told her.

Slipping the card into the inside handle grip of the driver’s side door, she looked back at him. For a moment, her eyes traveled down the length of his body as if assessing his worth. When they returned back to his face, she flipped her glasses down and said, “I plan to. The party is at Claremont Wright Country Club if you care to stop by when you get off.”

Like hell I will. It wasn’t that she was not beautiful. She was damn hot. Every fiber in his being had reacted to the view of her golden thighs. And in any other situation he would have taken her up on the offer with big hopes for the end of the night. However, his every instinct told him she was trouble.

“No thank you, ma’am.”

Shrugging off his reply, she floored the gas and peeled through the gate, turning her music back up.

As he watched her pull off, he was tempted to call it in, but disregarded it. Instead, he looked down at his watch and checked the time. He was relieved to note that in four hours and ten minutes he would be off duty and by tomorrow morning he would be out of the Air Force.

* * * *

Few parking spaces were available when Thor arrived at Sonny’s. He’d learned quickly that food and business were how they did things in the south, in that order. A month after he left the military, he’d received a call from Robert Dennison, the Claremont police chief, asking him to meet him for the final interview to join the local force.

Thor was happy for the time off to relax but now he was becoming restless and antsy. It was time for him to get back in the cops and robbers game. Stepping out of his car, he paused. Leaving the barbeque establishment was the town princess he’d had the pleasure of meeting during his last day of duty. Just like four weeks ago, she wore a dress and sunshades, the only difference this time was instead of a mouthy brunette accompanying her, she held a large bag of takeout. He admitted to himself she was a knockout. A visual treat. Even with her regal attitude. It just made him want to tame her even more.

Leaning back against his car, he took a moment to observe the General’s daughter. Watching the sway of her hips as she strolled with confidence to her convertible two rows over from his, a smile played on his lips. The miniscule amount of wind in the air wasn’t an adequate amount to cool the rising summer heat from his skin; however, it was more than enough to flirt with the hem of her dress, allowing him a glimpse of her sexy tanned legs. As she padded across the ground in her sandals, he noted how nice her calves were. The kind of calves a man loved to cup in his hands or feel over his shoulders. He was slightly heartbroken when the parked cars in her row blocked his view of them.

She disappeared from his line of sight as she passed two vans parked next to her car. When she arrived at her car, she leaned over the driver’s side door and situated her burden in the back seat. Just like sweet iced tea to a hot and thirsty man, the town princess satisfied him with a view of her sweet round ass. The thought of wanting to see her naked in the same position didn’t shock him as much as it turned him on. Quick and fierce.

Attempting to clear his mind of images that wouldn’t lead him to employment, but more than likely run out of town if anyone found out, he brushed his hand across the back of his neck and pushed away from his car. Chief Dennison was inside waiting on him and he needed to mind his own business concerns. The princess definitely wasn’t his business, nor his concern. Matter of fact, Princess Wright would probably have been pissed if she’d known he’d been observing her royal hiney. Nevertheless, as he walked away, he couldn’t stop himself from glancing back over his shoulder and watching her pull out of the parking lot. The wind now teased her hair and made his finger itch to do the same.

Running his hands through his hair, now grown out from the short standard military cut, he headed toward the front of the wooden restaurant, which resembled a big red barn, to meet the Claremont chief of police. Dust from the unpaved parking lot trailed in the wake of his footsteps as he moved to the entrance.

“Brad ‘Thor’ Zeller.” A tall, thin black man in a suit with basketball palming hands grabbed his hand and patted Thor on the back. “I recognize you from your file photo.”

Thor added his own strength to the handshake. “Then you better be Chief Dennison.”

The black man smiled.

“The one and only.” A greeter standing by the welcome podium chimed in with a wink.

“I hope you brought your appetite,” Chief Dennison commented as he ended the handshake.

“I sure did.” Thor rubbed his abdomen for effect. He’d heard from his friend Jack that this was one of the best barbeque restaurants in town.

“Great.” Dennison headed toward the woman. “A booth, please, Rachel.”

“You got it, shuga’bear.” Grabbing two menus from beside her stand, Rachel, the greeter, sashayed into the dining area. “This way.”

“During lunch we’ll talk about the position I have open and you can tell me how you got your nickname. Or should I just believe I’m eating with a legend?”

It was Thor’s turn to laugh. Business and food, the southern way.

* * * *

Liza was tired. She’d spent her Saturday at an all day study session in the library at Florida State. Her group’s final research project was due and they had needed this last meeting to tie up loose ends before the semester ended. She would be starting her six weeks of internship, and then wait for fall graduation. Then she didn’t know what she was going to do. She’d have her Master’s in early childhood counseling, but she didn’t know whether or not she wanted to stay in Claremont County or if it was time for her to pick up roots and leave. She’d been here all of her life. This had been where her father was raised, as well as Moody being his first assignment. He’d met and married her mom here. The military had relocated him to various places, but her mother was a homebody and refused to uproot her son and daughter every three years. Amazingly, her parents had made it through the long stretches of absence.

Dressed in a frayed, thigh length skirt and short-sleeved layered t-shirt, she cruised along the interstate. The cool early evening breeze blew through the window and cooled her heated flesh. Thick rolling gray clouds moved across the dark sky, making her aware that a spring storm was on its way. She loved storms. They were unpredictable.

Sighing, Liza wished she could have said the same for her life. Claremont County was a beautiful place to raise a family, but she didn’t know if it was the place for a twenty-seven-year-old single woman. She craved change like she craved sex. It had been years since she’d dated and almost as long since she’d slept with anyone.

In Claremont County, everyone knew everything about everybody so she’d spent the last two years concentrating on school to keep the gossip about her life at bay.

She loved being a part of the town, but for a while now she questioned herself. There was no doubt if she desired a counseling position anywhere in the town, she’d have one without even an interview. If a position wasn’t open, one would be created for her. She was Liza Wright, grandchild of a founder. Could she make it somewhere else? Did she want to make it somewhere else? Was there anything in Claremont County for her? Those questions constantly plagued her.

Pulling off Interstate 75 onto Gridston, she gave a sigh of relief. The only thing she wanted to do was get home and put her feet up. The highway was deserted as she careened down the stretch of road.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Liza groaned when minutes later she saw flashing lights in her rearview mirror. She steered her car to the shoulder and put the car in park. She didn’t have any concerns about getting a speeding ticket, instead, she was more annoyed at being stopped. Whichever deputy was stopping her must not have recognized her car. They’d give her a friendly hello and a warning and send her own her way. All the neighborly conversation was just delaying the time until she was bumming mindlessly in front of a movie, until sleep claimed her. Tired, she wanted to get home soon.

She watched the car slide up behind hers, then she got out of her convertible. With the search light beaming in her eyes, it was hard to determine which deputy was walking toward her.

“Dale, is that you, or is it Martin?” Liza called out.

“Ma’am, do you know you’re not supposed to get out of your car unless instructed to do so?”

The voice was gritty and male. As he spoke, there was a bite to each word as if he didn’t tolerate noncompliance. He commanded authority. Liza noticed the tingling along her arms as the hairs on both of them rose.

Definitely not Dale or Martin. Warm sensations raced along her skin where moments before the wind had cooled it. Chalking it up to the humidity of the night, she leaned against her car and waited. Finally, he stepped in front of her and blocked the bright light and she could see his face.

“You.” She tilted her head and stared up toward his face, seeing the gate guard from the base in Valdosta, the main city of Lowndes County that bordered Claremont. “So, you’re the new officer everyone has been talkin’ about. Thor, isn’t that what they call you?”

His intense blue eyes captured her. “Good evening, ma’am. Once again—”

This man’s nickname had always intrigued her. Cutting him off, she asked, “Don’t tell me. You’re supposed to be able to clap and make it thunder or something, right?”

One of his eyebrows lifted. “Anything’s possible. But, no matter. When people talk, the made up story is always better than the original one.”

She chuckled as she tapped a finger against her lips. “Now, I recall Jack told me somethin’ about you being deployed to Iraq twice. He said when you all were there no matter what situation you were in, you always managed to get out without a scratch. Jack seems to believe that you have some sort of shield around you. He said you wielded your gun to protect as if it was a gift from the gods.” She stepped toward him and spoke in a sultry voice, “So, does lightening flash in the sky when you use your mighty hammer?”

Liza didn’t miss the flare of his nostrils as she stood close to him. She wondered if it was a response to her honeysuckle body spritz or a sign of annoyance. The desire to push the envelope tickled the back of her neck.

“Ms. Wright, do you know you’re not supposed to get out of your vehicle unless instructed to do so?” He repeated the question.

“Hmm.” At least six feet tall, he towered over her five foot six inch height. Broad shoulders and narrow waist were enhanced by the cut of his uniform. She had to admit the man had a nice build. A part of her wished she could view him from the back and see if his ass was just as pleasant. Ignoring her own wondering thoughts, she leaned against her car. “I guess the base doesn’t offer enough work for you. Now you’re moonlighting with the sheriff’s department.”

“No.” Amazingly, he arched his eyebrow higher.

She figured he was probably annoyed because she hadn’t answered his question. Crossing her arms over her chest, she continued, “No. Ah, maybe you got kicked out of the military. Couldn’t hack it. All those loud music violators making you mad?”

Tilting his head to the side, he eyed her from under the brim of his hat. “Are you trying to piss me off and get a ticket or are you always this insolent?”

Insolent? The nerve of him. Slapping her hands to her hips, she leaned toward him. “I like to call it my own sassy wit.”

“Hm,” he grunted.

The little nonverbal, guttural sound he made infuriated her. Balling her fists against her waist, she asked, “Don’t you have bad guys to catch? I’m sure someone is robbing a bank somewhere.” Liza didn’t know why she felt the urge to antagonize him. Something about him caused an unnamed sensation to dance along her spine.

Watching the muscle jump along his jaw line, she enjoyed a small thrill in knowing that she could aggravate him.

He stared at her, unaffected by her comments, and calmly ordered, “License and registration, please.”

He’s got to be made of stone. Rolling her eyes, Liza turned toward her driver’s side door, wrenched it open and bent inside to retrieve her information. While she was in the car, she became more irritated that she couldn’t affect him. The fact that this was her town, where she’d lived all her life and Mr. Patrol Officer By the Books couldn’t get past his own ego to give her a little courtesy for speeding, which she knew she’d been doing, angered her.

Sitting in her seat while rifling through her purse, an idea occurred to her. If she couldn’t affect him with her sharp mind, then she’d get to him the old fashioned way. Backing out of the car, she handed him only her license.

Taking her identification, he eyed her. “Do you have a car registration?”

“I’m sorry. I’ve never been stopped in my own town before so I’m a little fuzzy about the protocol.”

“Registration.” He rested the palm of one hand against the butt of his gun, which she figured he used more as a place to rest his hand than a threat of force.

“Yes, sir.” Turning with a flounce, Liza got back into her car. This time she balanced her body on the knee she placed in the center of the seat. Stretching long and arching her back, she reached over the center console to the glove compartment, where she riffled inside, pretending to search for her registration.

Liza was no fool. She knew that the position she assumed allowed Officer Zeller a clear view of the expansion of her thighs. She had been told many times that she had nice legs and for sheer spite, she was willing to use them against the emotional rock outside.

Turning her head, she glanced out of the back window, but was unable to see more than his waist and the top of his pants. Forgetting herself, she couldn’t help but admire the cut of his clothing and how well his uniform slacks cupped his sex. Impressive. The thought danced in her mind before she had a chance to refocus herself. Heat filled her lower belly and she was shocked at how easily she had become aroused by a man she didn’t even know, let alone like.

“Here it is.” She announced as she backed out of the car. Giving him a triumphant smile, she slapped the paper into his open hand. “There.”

For a brief moment, his wide hand closed around her smaller one, holding it. Feeling the slight grip, he held on.

Liza allowed her eyes to travel from their joined hands, moving her gaze past his hair-sprinkled forearm and shoulder, until she reached his face. Taking note of his chiseled jaw, firm lips and distinct nose, she continued up to meet his eyes. She was captured by the heat in his azure stare.

Sparks went off where their hands touched, causing her fingers to tingle.

“I’m completely within my right to give you a ticket. Speeding is illegal and dangerous,” he told her.

Snatching her hand from his, she tried to regain control of the situation and her emotions. “Well, if you fear for your life and the safety of the drivers of Claremont County…” She stepped toward him, tilting her head back so she could continue to maintain eye contact with him, “why don’t you just arrest me, officer?”

Like lightening, Officer Zeller had her swung around and pinned against the side of her car. The heat of his body pressed along her back.

“You know, princess, I have no qualms about putting you in handcuffs.” He spoke in low tones with his mouth flush to her ears.

Her lungs seized, stealing her breath and refusing to relinquish it. She became light-headed. She was assailed with the desire to arch her back and press her hips into him. It had been so long since any man had dared to impose his strength on her. His forcefulness turned her on. Desire ignited between her legs and caused her sex to swell. One of his hands gripped her hip while the other held her hands on the top of her car. The material of the ragtop under her palms and the vibration of the running car kindled sensations in her breast.

Being restrained by Zeller was giving her thoughts of what it would be like to be with him in a more intimate setting. Naked and vulnerable for him. At that moment, she wanted him.

Shocked at her thoughts and the wetness dampening her panties, she gave herself a mental shake. Using all of her willpower, she shifted to the present. Liza finally took a deep breath to fill her lungs with the cool night air, but instead she smelled him. He didn’t wear cologne or a fancy aftershave; just the scent of clean male with his own natural musk. Her pussy throbbed and she squeezed her thighs together in an attempt to squelch it, unintentionally making it worse.

Zeller’s hand traveled around her waist, adding pressure to her abdomen, pushing her back until his thick cock lightly brushed the crease of her ass. “Nothing to say, princess?”

The way he called her princess sounded like both an endearment and an insult. “I do believe this could be considered police brutality. I wonder how Sheriff Pyle would feel if I told him about one of his deputies taking liberties with me on a routine traffic stop.”

His chuckle rumbled against her back before she heard it. “This stopped being routine the moment you put those creamy thighs of yours in my line of sight. It’s a good thing I work directly for Russell and I’m not a deputy.”

Damn. She knew she wasn’t being subtle, but she didn’t expect that her actions would backfire on her in this way. “Arrest me, give me a damn ticket, or let me go, Officer Zeller.”

For a moment, he didn’t move and Liza thought he was going to continue to hold her. But, he stepped away, releasing her as quickly as he had grabbed her, saying, “I’m going to give you a warning this time, but you need to be careful on these roads at night.”

Facing him, she leaned back against her car, staring at Thor. “Thanks for your concern, Officer Zeller. I’ll take it under consideration.” Pushing away from her vehicle, she turned to get in. She ran into Zeller’s arm as it shot out in front of her, halting her movement.

“I mean it, princess. The RACE team has been cruising these roads because of the teens drag racing down here and causing accidents, some serious.”

“Duly noted.” She shoved his arm out of her way and got in her car.

“You may need these for the next time you’re stopped.”

He held her driver’s license and registration out to her. Reaching out the window, Liza removed the items from his hand. “Thanks. By the way, my name is Liza. And I’m nobody’s princess.”

Not waiting for his compliance, Liza shifted her car into drive and pulled away.

Liza had always hated being called princess. It was an old wound for her. In Claremont County where her family owned so much, it had separated her from everyone else. She had always been treated with kid gloves. Until now.