“They make the perfect couple.” Jayne tried to pretend she did not hear the whispered comments as they walked past other couples at the country club.
Paul smiled down at her as he led her toward their private table. He was bursting with pride as other men stopped eating to eye his date. “Look at her long legs,” one whistled.
“I wonder if Paul Deaux realizes how lucky he is to have such an exquisite woman on his arm?”
Paul paused, unable to resist the urge to gloat just a little. “Yes, I do realize how lucky I am. Stay away from my woman, gentlemen. I would hate to hurt any of you, but try to take her, and I will have no choice.”
Shaking her head at her date, Jayne tried to reassure Paul she had eyes for no man but him. She could not understand his insecurity. He was a powerful businessman. Though he had an identical twin, her date was the more attractive of the two, definitely more reasonable then his brother, Jean.
Any woman would be thrilled to be with him. Paul was named as one of the top twenty most sought after single men in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Women threw themselves at him constantly. But her man only had eyes for her, Jayne sighed. He fretted endlessly that she might find someone else, but it was ridiculous to even consider. Jayne Anne only had eyes for her Paul. Since they met six months before when she came to work at Deaux Consultants, it had been love at first sight for them both. Why the sexy man could hardly get any work done, see any clients or concentrate on anything but her. It was only a matter of time before he begged her to marry him.
“Jayne Anne, I asked you a question. Are you listening?”
Paul’s voice had her smiling. Maybe he was going to pop the question right now. Though she really ought to play coy, her love for this wonderful man had her rushing to answer him. “Yes, Paul. Yes, a thousand times over.”
In her haste to help him slip the ring on her finger, Jayne dropped the magazine which featured Paul’s picture. It dropped to her receptionist desk with an obnoxious clatter, knocking over her diet coke and sending liquid dangerously close to her office computer. Paul Deaux had cat like reflexes, and he managed to move the keyboard just in time. Rudely jerked back to reality, Jayne realized her new boss had caught her daydreaming on the job again. She withdrew her hand quickly, hoping he had not seen the awkward way she had held it up at him.
Paul gave her a reproachful glare as he picked up her red solo cup and sniffed the contents. Satisfied it did not contain alcohol, he went back to the topic at hand. “Yes, you are listening? Or yes, my brother called me back? Which is it?”
Closing her magazine so he could not tell she had been drooling over his picture from the article about the top bachelors in the region, she tried to calm her heartbeat. Picking up a list she had made on a legal notepad, she started filling Paul in on his recent calls. “Mr. Jean Deaux did call to say he would be back from his honeymoon by the end of the week. He must be having a great time because his new wife kept calling out in the back ground for him to hurry up and come back to bed. I assume they have been putting in some long hours during the trip to the mountains. It will probably take them a week just to catch up on their sleep.” When she was nervous, Jayne tended to blurt out anything and everything on her mind. It was a flaw which got her fired from her last job.
Paul Deaux had already given her a warning about providing more information than was necessary once. “Do you think my brother would appreciate you sharing that bit of information with me or anyone else?” His narrowed eyes had her squirming in her seat.
“No, sir. I… Your parents called. They wanted to remind you about the family crawfish boil this weekend. They are such wonderful people, but of course you already know all about that. They invited me to come, too. In fact, they sent an open invitation for everyone working at Deaux Consultants to join the fun.” He gave her another reproachful glance. “I’m rambling on again, aren’t I?”
“Any more calls, Jayne Anne?” He was the only person she knew who called her by both of her given names. She hated them individually, but even more so when paired. Nobody needed to remind her how common her names were. They were plain and boring, just like her appearance.
“Miss Summers called,” she told him, her voice went cold. He might have assumed her tone stemmed from his curt questions, but nothing could be further from the truth. She found it impossible to be mad at her boss. She had secretly had a crush on him long before the darn magazine named him as being a great catch. Not that she stood a snowball’s chance in New Orleans’ summer heat to realize her dreams of dating someone like him. Women like Erica Summers were more Paul’s type. Tall, sophisticated, self-assured, Erica was everything plain Jayne was not.
“She wishes you to call her at your earliest convenience.” Jayne did not mention the other woman’s pouty monologue about missing her Paully Wally. The woman went on for several minutes about how perfect she and Paul were as a couple. It was only a matter of time before they were announcing their engagement, according to the bitch.
“Any other messages?” He locked eyes with her. She found herself sighing with contentment. Those blue eyes were mesmerizing. She could easily get lost in them. “Jayne Anne, I asked you a question. Try to pay attention.”
Shaking her head, she forced herself to look away. “No, sir, Mr. Deaux, sir. Your five o’clock appointment should be here soon. Should I show him in before I leave for the day?”
“Do you have to rush home today?” he asked, and she held her breath.
She shook her head side to side like a lovesick puppy before trying to adopt a more neutral expression. “No, sir. Was there something you needed?” Ask me out, she pleaded with her eyes.
“Would you be willing to join me in my office…” he started to explain, and she jumped up immediately to comply. “Not now,” he motioned for her to take a seat again. “Later, when the client shows up. Jean generally sits in on new client interviews, sort of as a silent observer. I do all the talking, so you don’t have to worry about saying anything. I just like to have a third person there to make mental notes on what is said, plans made, details negotiated. That sort of thing. After the man leaves, we can discuss the meeting over supper. Tonight, is steak night at the country club. What do you say? You can earn some overtime and get a free meal out of the deal.”
Today was a red-letter day for Jayne Anne Richard. She would remember it always as the first time Paul Deaux asked her out. There was no need to dwell on the fact that it was not an actual date. The fact that they would be sharing a working meal was not important either. “I would enjoy going to the country club with you, Paul. I mean, Mr. Deaux. I mean, it will be great to eat a meal with you, after the meeting in your office. Yes, sir. I can sit in when your client shows up. I’ll just shut up now. I better go get a rag from the break area and clean up this coke. Was there anything else you needed, sir?”
“Jayne Anne. You have been here a few months now. I have asked you repeatedly to call me Paul. There is no need for this Mr. Deaux nonsense. Five of my siblings work here. None of us are sure who you are talking to when you insist on being so formal, especially when there are no customers around.
“If you insist, Mr. I mean, Paul. I will let you know the minute your appointment shows up.”
When he finally walked off, she watched his tight backside until he was out of sight. He wore expensive suits when clients were expected, and he filled out the tailored slacks perfectly. Jayne often imagined herself grabbing hold and giving the globes a little squeeze. Then she scolded herself. Proper little Catholic girls did not waste time on impure thoughts like molesting their bosses. Yet Jayne did so, a lot lately. It was yet another way she found herself falling short of what was acceptable. But there was no time to worry about that right now. According to the clock, she only had ten minutes to visit the ladies’ room and freshen up before she went to meet Paul in his private office.
Weldon Brown arrived a bit after five. Jayne was taken back by his casual attire. Generally, clients of the company showed up in suits and ties. Mr. Brown had on a jogging suit and seemed to be checking behind him to make sure no one was following him. “I have an appointment with Mr. Deaux.” He almost whispered the information to her and she found him to be a nervous man as she showed him back to her boss’ office.
Paul walked across the room to shake the man’s hand and indicated for him to sit down in one of the two leather chairs in front of the large desk dominating the room. Jayne started to remain in the background, but her boss pointed to the remaining chair as if ordering her to take it. Mr. Smith did not appear happy with her presence. “I believe I mentioned this was a very delicate situation I wanted to discuss with you, Mr. Deaux. I am taking a great risk coming here this evening. The fewer people who are aware of this meeting, the better.”
Darn it, the receptionist fumed. There went her red-letter day. Thanks to old nervous nelly Mr. Brown, she was going to miss out on her chance for a meal out with the man of her dreams. She started to get up, but Paul indicated for her to remain seated. “Jayne Anne is my personal assistant, Weldon. I trust her completely and so should you.”
Paul Deaux trusted her completely? Jayne Anne was so thrilled with his words, she missed out on most of the conversation that followed. In her fantasy, Weldon questioned her right to stay for the meeting, but her boss boldly proclaimed there would be no meeting without his personal assistant. It was not until Paul coughed a few times that Jayne realized she had a job to do. Sitting up straight, she watched everything that happened for the next half an hour, paying special attention to Mr. Brown’s words and mannerisms.
Mr. Brown owned a small shop in the local mall. Recently, a shady person showed up to offer his business protection from the recent uptick of crime plaguing the nearby area. At first, he had been tempted to hire the group, but his wife had been wary of the character of the person trying to set up the deal. The young man left the shop, but not before making an ominous comment about hoping Mr. Brown did not regret his decision.
“That night someone broke into the shop and ransacked it. The same guy showed up bright and early, wondering if I had had a change of heart. He suggested I might want to insure my wife’s safety. The man knew what hours my Maddie works and when I’m not around. I got the message. I paid the money, but my wife is pissed… sorry, miss,” he stopped to apologize to Jayne. “My wife is quite frustrated with my giving in. She is determined to stop me from making any more payments. She started researching how to handle the problem and ran across an article in the New Orleans Times about your company handling delicate problems for several businesses down there. My Maddie would rather pay your company for real protection instead of giving into blackmail. Frankly, I don’t give a damn who I must pay, but I am going to protect my wife no matter what. If you think you can eliminate this problem without putting her in danger, I would like to hire your company. But if you can’t, please be straightforward with me. With or without Maddie’s permission, I will pay the guy’s protection money if he is still around by the first of the month.”
“According to my calculations, that leaves us ten days to eliminate the issue. What time does your shop open?” The other man reluctantly gave the time. “Fine, Ms. Richard and I will meet you there two hours before that time tomorrow morning. Is there a back entrance you would prefer us to use? Good. We will need to see any surveillance video you have, get a full description of the man involved and a timeline of the events.”
“What’s the name of your store?” Jayne asked before she realized she was supposed to be seen but not heard. Caught up in the excitement of going on a case with Paul had her bursting at the seams.
“Passionate Pleasures.” Mr. Brown seemed even more uncomfortable as he pulled on the collar of his cotton jogging shirt.
Jayne’s mouth opened wide with shock, but she quickly shut it. This middle-aged man and his wife ran a sex shop? And the man of her dreams planned on bringing her there to help him investigate? Paul did not know, of course, how sheltered her life had been. She went to private, all girl Catholic schools all her life.
She had yet to even kiss a boy despite being close to twenty-three now. Her grandfather had raised her after her parents’ death. Well, Martha and Juan had really raised her. Damien Richard, Jayne’s father’s father, ran a successful casino and was much too busy to waste time with a child. All in all, she had a very sheltered life. Her grandfather always warned her boys would try to get to his money through her and she was never to trust a member of the opposite sex.
Stop sabotaging yourself, Jayne gave herself a pep talk. Smile and pretend none of this is new to you. Follow Paul’s lead and everything will be all right. Smiling at her boss, she sought to appear confident and open to whatever was expected of her. Did her boss’ arrogant smile indicate he knew she was up to the task? No, he probably saw through her brave front and could not wait to see her shocked reaction to visiting a sex shop.
“What an odd-looking couple.” Jayne tried to pretend she did not hear the whispered comments as she and Paul walked passed other couples at the country club later that night.
Paul smiled down at her as he led her toward their private table. “Don’t worry, Jayne Anne. I’m not going to eat you up. It’s a business meal. Calm down.”
“Erica is going to have a hissy fit when she hears Paul showed up here with another woman.” An elderly woman wearing a pearl necklace did not even bother to whisper as they passed her table.
“I wonder if Paul Deaux realizes how crazy he is to chance pissing off the Summers family.” The ladies husband noted.
Paul paused, unwilling to let the rude comment pass. “Erica and I are not dating, no matter what you may have heard. As for upsetting the Summers family, with a daughter as full of drama as Erica, they are likely upset more often than not.”
The elderly lady raised one penciled in eyebrow before commenting. “And who is the young lady you are with tonight?”
“I’m the receptionist at…” Jayne started to answer, but Paul took her hand in his and squeezed. No doubt he was concerned she would start rambling on again and embarrass them both.
“May I present Jayne Anne Richard? Jayne Anne, this is Mr. and Mrs. Adam Depont.”
Mr. Depont stood up to extend his hand for Jayne to shake. She reluctantly did so, worried the other man would notice her poor manicure. She really should have gone to the beauty parlor like Maria had suggested. His wife remained seated and lifted a limp wrist in a half-hearted gesture. “Richard? Are you by chance related to the Richard’s who run a jewelry shop downtown?”
“No,” Jayne whispered, getting very uncomfortable.
“How about the Richard family from Baton Rouge? The ones who have several restaurants in the city?” Mrs. Depont forged surprise. “What line of work does your family dabble in, dear?”
“Don’t embarrass the child, Lynn. She is here as Paul’s guest. Obviously, her family does not belong to the country club. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, dear.”
Paul gave the other couple a few seconds to enjoy their gloating, before he set out to shame them back. “I do believe you both know Jayne Anne’s family. Her grandfather is Damien Richard. I believe he is one of the original families to have founded this country club. In fact, I believe your temporary employee agency supplies a lot of workers for Damien’s casino, doesn’t it? I am sure Jayne Anne will mention the warm greeting you gave her when you met.”
Jayne felt even more subconscious now. Her grandfather was a flamboyant member of society. In his youth, he had been a pillar of society. But his personality changed drastically after the death of his wife. Now, Damien was a playboy, despite being close to seventy. His antics both repulsed and intrigued local society. He was easily the richest man in town and many companies relied on his success to make their own living.
The Deponts looked flabbergasted and quickly sought to repair any damage they caused. Lynn stood up and offered Jayne her chair. Mr. Depont was calling over a waiter to order Jayne a drink. Paul just nodded smugly. His little receptionist gave him a pleading look. “I am sure Jayne Anne would love to stay and visit with you both, but we already have plans for the night. If you will excuse us,” he pulled out her chair and helped her to her feet.”
“Do tell your grandfather we send our regards.” Mr. Depont called after them.
“Maybe we can do lunch one day, Ms. Richard?” Lynn suggested, but the younger couple was already several tables away.
Jayne muttered under her breath, “You know perfectly well that my grandfather hardly visits me these days. Why did you imply I was going to report their actions back to him?”
She really hated people treating her differently because of her family ties. All her life, Grandfather had avoided her like the plague. Instead of raising her himself, he hired a couple to move into the guest house of her parents’ old home. He paid for her education and expenses, demanding she go to private, Catholic institutions and received all the necessary sacraments associated with the faith. Jayne heard stories about her grandmother and how devoted she had been to the church. Maybe her grandfather pushed for that kind of life for Jayne as a means to make up for his jaded, new life style.
“I don’t get you, Jayne Anne.” Paul held out her chair for her as they got to the table. “You come from money, but you live a life on modest means.”
“The nuns taught us that money does not buy happiness. Besides, I have everything I need and just about anything that I want.”
“Your last name alone could open lots of doors both politically and socially, yet you maintain a low-key existence.” He took his own seat and studied her carefully.
“I prefer being accepted for myself, not my grandfather’s power and position. Even he has always been quick to warn me others will try to use me to get to him. I think it was his way of warning me not to count on him losing any time or money on me.”
Resting his elbows on the table, he palmed his chin. “You don’t realize how much your grandfather cares about you, do you? I think his warning was a means of trying to protect you from being used. You are a beautiful, intelligent, young lady who stands to inherit a vast empire one day.”
She laughed at his jest, but he was not amused. Plain Jayne, beautiful? Never in a million years, she knew. As for being intelligent, her grandfather had pushed for her to enter the convent. Jayne had known from an early age that she longed for a family with lots of children one day. While devoted to her faith, she did not feel the calling of becoming a nun. One day, with a bit of luck, she would find a God-fearing man and start a family. She certainly would not limit herself to one child, like her parents had. Losing them had been all the more difficult without a sibling to help comfort her.
“My grandfather is not going anywhere soon. He is healthy and active. Besides, I don’t know one thing about his business ventures, and frankly, I do not care to learn. With his active sex life, I would not be surprised if one of his many lady friends does not turn up pregnant with a new heir.” Having him stare at her made Jayne nervous and she found herself babbling on again. “As it is, I think he is sort of embarrassed about having me for a grandchild.”
“Embarrassed in what way?” Paul demanded after they placed their order.
“Aren’t we supposed to be discussing your meeting with Mr. Brown?” she asked quietly.
“The night is young. We will discuss that later. Now, explain why you think your grandfather isn’t proud of you.”
“Just look at me,” she gestured toward her face. “You saw how people reacted when Paul Deaux, successful businessman and a member of the top twenty available bachelors walks in with plain, little Jayne Anne Richard. That couple turned their noses up so high, I could count every hair inside their nostrils.”
“You are no plain Jane, young lady.”
She gave a dry laugh then. “Paul, you have always been honest with me and I respect that a lot. Don’t start trying to soften the blow of my average looks by lying. I am no great beauty, but I am okay with it. It works for me.” She shrugged her shoulders and pretended not to notice his angry stare. Jayne started eating her salad and hoped the topic was over. He had called her a ‘young lady’. Why had the title made her want to squeeze her legs together tightly?
“Jayne Anne, look at me. Now!” Paul’s commanding tone had her putting down her fork and locking eyes with him. “You are one of the most beautiful women I have ever met, both on the inside and the outside. Don’t ever let me hear you put yourself down again.”
The uncomfortable tingling between her legs had her squirming a bit. “I am only stating the facts.”
He reached across the table and captured her hand in his larger one. “Have you ever been spanked before, Jayne Anne? Somehow, I doubt it. Continue along these lines of self-deprecation and you will find yourself over my knee having your bottom warmed.”
The wetness filling her panties had Jayne worried she might have accidentally peed on herself. Did he know about her sick fantasy? She had been so careful to hide all hints of her secret obsession. Jayne had never indulged in her fascination with the topic of spanking at work. The ear marked pages in her favorite books, bookmarked websites and collection of DVDs were safely locked away in her bedroom. She assumed being a good little Catholic girl spawned the fantasy. There was something about facing the consequences of your failures and receiving absolution which called to her. And the man she was currently daydreaming about having as a boyfriend just threatened to spank her.
Without any control over her nervousness, Jayne found herself giggling and talking nonstop. “It’s getting very hot in here. Do you find it hot? Maybe I shouldn’t have ordered the steak. This salad is so large, it’s filling me up. Am I really going to come with you to the Browns’ shop tomorrow? Should I bring a note pad? Mr. Brown seemed so normal. I can’t believe he and his wife run a smut shop… not that having a sex shop is evil or anything. Well, the nuns definitely would not have thought it was a holy job choice. I thought about becoming a nun for a while, but it seems a very lonely life.”
“When you blush like that, you are even more attractive, Jayne Anne. I find myself tempted to gobble you up whole.”
She popped out of her seat, positive everyone would see the flooding coming from her underwear. “I’ll be right back, Mr. Deaux, Paul. Excuse me, please.” She started rushing off as he stood up.
When he grabbed her arm, she groaned loudly. “If you were trying to sneak to the restroom, it’s to your left, not the right. Hurry back, young lady. I want to discuss the meeting with Mr. Brown and our plan of action for tomorrow’s visit. It might be tempting to hide for a long time, but we really need to get down to business, so I can get you home at a decent hour.”
The receptionist allowed herself ten minutes of recuperation time in the bathroom. She stared at herself in the mirror and wondered how Paul Deaux could think she was attractive.
No doubt he would haunt her dreams tonight. She would have to go to confession soon because of all the impure thoughts racing through her mind. Her, bare bottomed, over his solid thighs, the crisp sound of hand meeting flesh, slightly pink cheeks clenching together, more moisture pooling between her legs, a delicious ache she could not begin to comprehend, begging to be satisfied… Jayne knew without a doubt she was on the slippery road to Hell. If Paul Deaux was going to lead her astray, at least she would enjoy the journey.
“I was just getting ready to come chase you out of the restroom, Jayne Anne. I am proud of you for finding the courage to return on your own. You fascinate me, young lady. I have never encountered someone quite like you before. Such an innocent, unassuming little lady, you really don’t realize how special and unique you are, do you?”
Wearing a low-cut dress and outrageously high heeled shoes, Jayne strolled ahead of Paul as they entered Passionate Pleasures the next day. Rubber penises lined every available shelf, along with magazines with busty women forming a big ‘O’ shape with their lips. Most people, especially virgins like she was, might run from the place screaming or start giggling foolishly. But not Jayne, she smiled. She even turned to give Paul a full smile, demonstrating how comfortable and non-threatened she was by the whole adventure.
“Take a deep breath, Jayne Anne.” Paul insisted.
What was his problem? Not only was she cool and collected, she blended in completely with the other people mingling around the shop. Mr. Brown had on leather pants and a riding crop was shoved in his back pocket. Nothing unusual there. Jayne had known he would not be sporting his jogging suit and was prepared. His wife was a bit of a surprise. She was much younger than Mr. Brown and was blessed with a centerfold body. The latex bodysuit showcased her every curve, but was Jayne the least bit jealous? Outwardly, no, but she might not be so laid back if Paul kept gawking at the woman.
“Jayne Anne, look at me.” Paul took hold of her arm to turn her around. Raising her chin, he forced her to comply. “Take a deep breath, young lady. It’s going to be okay.”
All attempts to think positive were failing her now. Clad in a dark hoody jacket and dark jeans, the receptionist tried to gain control of herself. Standing just outside the back entrance of the Browns’ sex shop, she tried to fight her rising panic. Glancing to her left and right, Jayne was terrified someone would recognize her. If Father James from her church saw her, she would be excommunicated for sure. If one of the ladies from the Altar Society saw her, it would be common knowledge before Sunday’s services. She would have to change churches, possibly move to a new parish, and go to confession. Sweat started to creep across her brow, but to be honest that might not be a result of her current predicament. It was over ninety degrees today, but she was dressed for chilly weather.
“Do you want me to take you back home? I can handle this job on my own. Obviously, it was a mistake asking you to come here.” Paul gave her chin a gentle squeeze, regret filling his tone.
Squaring her shoulders, Jayne warned herself she was about to blow a wonderful opportunity to spend more time with her dream man. Did she want to go back to being a scared little mouse, hiding behind her receptionist desk, trying to not disappoint everyone? “There is no need to take me home. I’m perfectly fine. It’s just so exciting to be out on a real case, facing off with the bad guys, helping honest citizens win.”
“The last thing you need to concern yourself with is facing off with any bad guys. I would never have brought you along if there was a chance of encountering any trouble today.”
“Oh,” she said, finding it hard to hide her disappointment.
“I would never knowingly put you in danger, Jayne Anne.” Her smile made him grin. He continued, “But somehow I don’t think facing off with a bad guy is what is making you positively frozen with fear.”
“Frozen in fear? I am not frightened in the least, Mr. Deaux. I mean, Paul. Why would you even think I was afraid?” She was rambling again, but she couldn’t seem to stop herself. “I am not scared. Just look at how steady my hand is,” she announced. Holding her hand up, she tried to keep it still, but the dang thing was shaking like a leaf in a gust of wind. She hid it behind her back. “Scratch the hand thing. Familial tremors run in my family. We all have shaky hands.”
“Take a deep breath, young lady. Nothing bad is going to happen. What the heck was I thinking bringing a little innocent here with me? Come on. I am going to take you home right now.”
The door to the shop creaked open slowly. Mr. Brown gave them an inquisitive glance. “I thought I heard you arrive, but no one knocked. I was starting to get concerned something had happened to you out here.”
“Mr. Brown, if you give me a moment, I am just going to take…”
Jayne interrupted her boss before she could think better of it. “Take his time looking over every aspect of the case. That includes examining all exits and entrances, of course. We just finished looking over this section and were about to knock.”
“Oh, I never considered that. Very logical thing to do,” Mr. Brown commented. “I’ll just leave this door open, so you can come inside when you are ready.” He disappeared back into the shop, leaving Jayne to face her slightly miffed boss. At least she hoped he was only slightly upset with her antics.
“Jayne Anne, I prefer to speak for myself. Understand?” She nodded, her eyes round. “Fine. Apparently, you are intent on coming inside with me. Let’s set up some ground rules, shall we? Don’t touch anything. Let me do the talking. Keep your eyes and ears open for anything I might miss. If you get too overwhelmed by the contents of this place, just take a step back and gather your thoughts. You can wait by the back door for me. Understand?”
“Yes, sir.” She managed to say even though her throat was closing in on her.
Mrs. Brown was inventorying stock when they came inside. Nothing could have prepared Jayne for the woman’s appearance. She was fifty, maybe closer to sixty. Her long, gray hair was pulled back into a ponytail, she wore baggy clothes and thick glasses. “Welcome. You must be the Deauxes. I’m Maggie. You don’t know how relieved I am that my husband finally agreed to call you in for help. I tried to explain to him that extortionists only become more trouble, and it’s best to face the bullies head on. Don’t you agree?”
While Paul discussed matters with the woman, Jayne tried to find anything kinky about the back portion of the shop. It looked quite normal, like any other storage area or work station in the average business. There were shelves lined with boxes, a computer on a nearby desk, a microwave and small coffee pot on a counter. All in all, she was sort of disappointed.
There wasn’t a single penis shaped item in sight. Maybe Passionate Pleasures was not a sex shop after all. Could it be a travel agency? What if it was a fancy oil business? The area did have a unique smell, almost like she imagined love potions might be. She had spent a lot of time agonizing over what she might encounter in this place and it was just an innocent, mom and pop joint run by two middle aged, normal looking people.
Paul reached out to grab her hand and give it a reassuring squeeze before they moved to the main showroom. Jayne smiled at him, praying he did not know what horrible things she had imagined about this place. With her eyes locked on his blue pupils, she did not immediately notice the glass case of dildos until she was inches from them. In her haste to look away, she backed into a shelf lined with strange looking plugs of varies shapes and sizes. A few toppled over and she reached to set them straight. The label Anal Butt Plug Training Set caused her to shriek and drop the plastic box to the floor. The box seemed to be very fragile and multiple plugs of varying sizes and colors popped out and rolled around the floor.
“We’ll pay for those, of course.” Paul told Mr. Brown when he rushed over to see what was happening. “Did you forget the part about not touching anything, young lady?” Her boss whispered for her ears only. Grabbing her hand, he pulled her after him, presumably to keep her out of more mischief.
Like a kid in a candy store, Jayne just gazed around her, each vision more overwhelming then the next. There were lotions and creams, paddles, restraints and a row of pretty objects called nipple clamps.
For a second she wondered if they were meant to pinch the peaks of a woman’s sensitive breast, but there was no way anyone would find that gratifying. She almost wanted to walk over and explore the section featuring vibrators. Though she pretended the Hitachi Magic Wand hiding under her bed was for her sore muscles, Jayne had found it especially helpful when held against her panties, in the dark, under the covers, late at night, the television blaring to block out the sound.
Some of the vibrators appeared to be designed for external and, oh my goodness, internal massages. Impossible, Jayne assured herself. People did not insert things like that in their privates. Her mouth fell open when she noticed others seemed to be designed to slip into both cavities in the lower region. This had to be sinful.
The uncomfortable moisture in her panties concerned her again. She fought the urge to squeeze her legs together tightly. She felt lightheaded and dizzy. The section of clothes offered her a new place to try and occupy her eyes. She giggled at the different costumes displayed, from a naughty maid to a huge, adult sized diaper and bib.
Did people come here to shop for Halloween? Why was there a hole in the crotch of that adorable bunny outfit? Anyone wearing it would be exposed for all to see. Holy Moses, it was designed that way on purpose. All the outfits seemed to have large cut outs.
There was no place safe to rest her eyes. Strap on penises? Whips? Gags? A dancing pole? There was an honest to goodness, portable dancing pole which promised lots of exercise and passionate fun. Jayne did not notice when Mr. Brown walked off and Paul started studying her.
“Anything interest you, Jayne Anne?” She could not look him in the eyes. Staring at his chest, she wondered how long he had been watching her and if he could even guess at the wild thoughts rushing across her mind. His deep chuckle told her he had a pretty good idea.
“I’ll just go wait for you by the back exit,” she muttered. Hadn’t he told her she could escape if she felt overwhelmed? She would love to purchase some dry panties to change into, but the only stock she could find had little or no covering at all. It would be less obscene to go commando. Cheaper, too.
“Used properly,” he told her, holding her in place for a few moments, “you might enjoy playing with some of these gadgets.”
“I am Catholic,” she announced as if it was a deep, guarded secret. “We don’t… play with things like this.”
“I’m Catholic, too, young lady,” Paul told her. “And we most certainly do enjoy playing. Between a man and his wife, all of these things only help to intensify the experience. Remember that.” Only after she reluctantly nodded did he release her. She rushed to safety, while he looked around for a few things which might prove interesting.
When Paul Deaux had been in high school, one of his teachers had the class make a list of what qualities they wanted in a future mate. Everyone else took the assignment as a big joke. His twin brother, Jean, had prioritized his list by order of importance. First on the paper was the need for large, full breasts. Further down, his brother put a desire for shared interests and knowledge of cooking. Paul had been more pragmatic with his wish list. Items were not listed by importance because he felt having the perfect mate depended on so much more than big tits and cooking skills. He wanted someone who shared his life’s goals, faith and work ethic. Of course, he had expressed the desire to find someone who appealed to his passionate nature, made him ache with desire and let him head his household.
He was a bit old-fashioned about things, thinking he was probably born a century too late. He would have been much happier during the days when men were the head of household and women saved themselves for the man they would one day marry.
Paul had tried to adapt to the current trends of fluid relationships which started and ended on the whims of those involved. Erica Summers had proved to him, once and for all, such affairs were not his style. At first, she seemed the perfect mate for him, but she wanted him to delve into things that held no interest to him. The woman had the gall to ask him if he would approach his twin about having a threesome with her. He broke it off the next day.
Not because he worried what Jean would think about such a suggestion, because before his brother met his current love, he was just as wild and into kink as Erica. Paul wanted someone who would be faithful to him, as he was to her. He longed for a family with a special young lady who shared the same hopes and dreams as he did. More and more, he was realizing Jayne Anne Richard was the perfect mate for him.
Jayne tried to wait inside the storage area where Mrs. Brown was working. The older lady gave her a warm smile, but it was hard to make eye contact with someone holding a box of X-rated DVDs. Still, the receptionist was handling the entire, sticky situation quite well, until Mrs. Brown took a phone call. The middle-aged woman handled the call very clinically, but Jayne was shocked and desperate to escape.
“Passionate Pleasures, how may I help you reach satisfaction today? I see. Your partner’s penis size has you concerned. Size or length? Both? Okay, I think we have a few products which could help you handle your concerns, but first let’s discuss the basics to make sure you even need extra help in this department. Does your lover wait until you are aroused before he tries to penetrate your vagina? Wonderful, some men like to rush, but remember, you have the right and duty to make sure things move along at a pace you are comfortable with. Do you produce a lot of lubrication? It can’t hurt to use extra lube. We carry a product designed to actually limit the depth a penis can enter the vagina. It fits around the penis…”
Gasping with shock, Jayne simply could not bear to listen to any more. She opened the door and stepped outside. With the Mall opening imminent, the once deserted hallway leading to many shops’ back entrances was now bustling. People donning aprons disappeared into the food court section. Women dressed in ridiculously high heels and black, chic clothes rushed into a clothing outlet. She could smell the people preparing to hand out perfume samples before she even saw them.
The tall man standing a few feet away from the back entrance to Passionate Pleasures looked oddly out of place. All the other workers had been easy to place with the type of shop they worked in, but this person did not belong. He wore a flashy suit and appeared to be making notes about who entered which business and at what time. Could he be the person causing the Browns’ issue? At first, instinct made her grab the doorknob to rush inside. Jayne paused, concerned the man might disappear before she could get Paul to come and check him out. Maybe she could sneak a picture of the man. Pulling out her phone, she pretended to be checking her text.
Unaware she was humming nervously, the receptionist tried to angle the screen, so she could capture the stranger. She pinched the display, hoping to get a close-up of his face. Her fingers worked slowly, but she finally got a nice image. Clicking a few photos in quick succession, it did not dawn on her that her target was staring her down. It was not until he started walking her way that she realized he was on to her covert operation.
Yelping with fear, she turned and started jerking at the doorknob to the sex shop. It was locked. Apparently, a key was needed to access this route, unless someone from inside gave access to the storage room. Pounding on the door, she tried not to panic. “Oh, God, Lord in heaven, please let me in.” Jayne pounded the door wildly, too afraid to even turn back to see how close the man was getting to her. “I will go to early morning mass every day next week, dear Lord. Please get someone to open this door.”
As if an answer to her prayer, Paul threw the door wide opened and glared at her. He did not seem pleased with her, but Jayne was too spooked to care. She all but jumped into his arms and pleaded with him to close the door quickly. “Someone is trying to get me. Please shut the door and lock it before he gets to us.”
“Where is he?” Paul demanded, his eyes darting around the hallway to find the threat. He saw a shadow moving quickly down the long, narrow path which connected the stores on this side of the mall. Shoving Jayne back into the shop, he warned her to stay inside while he investigated.
“No! You’ll get hurt,” Jayne pleaded, but the door closed on her face.
Mr. Brown caught the entire exchange and interceded when the receptionist tried to follow Paul. “That’s not a smart idea, miss. Let your boss handle this. If it’s the jerk shaking us down for money, he is dangerous and could harm you.”
Great, Jayne thought. The man was already predisposed to being dangerous and she just ticked him off by taking his picture. Realizing she had his image, she quickly pulled it up and showed Mr. Brown. The expression on his pale face told her all she needed to know. The man was indeed the person responsible for terrorizing the Browns.
Now, because she alerted him to her presence, Paul’s life could be in jeopardy. Jayne could not stand idly by while that happened. She shook Mr. Brown’s hold on her arm and grabbed for the door handle. Paul stood in the frame, blocking her from even taking one step outside.
“You seem to have trouble following orders, don’t you, young lady?”
“You are safe!” Jayne was so happy, she did not take notice of his anger at first. It was duly noted when he grabbed her arm and marched her away from the exit.
“Mr. and Mrs. Brown, would you mind giving my assistant and me a few minutes to discuss some pressing matters?”
“He got away, didn’t he? Your woman was able to get his picture.” Mr. Brown caught the grave expression on Mr. Deaux’s face and decided it might be better to ask questions later. “Come on, Maggie. It’s time to open the shop.”
Paul backed Jayne up against the door as the other couple disappeared. “Care to explain why you left the safety of the store after I ordered you to stay inside?” His hands caged her in, resting on either side of her head. He was crowding her into the door, and she was torn between being thrilled with his close proximity and concerned about the dark expression on his face.
“Mrs. Brown had a phone call. It sounded like a very personal conversation, so I thought it might be best to, you know, step outside for a moment.”
“I see.” His words suggested he was not happy with her logic. “And when you saw someone you thought might be involved in this case, what did you do then?”
Jayne smiled, pleased she was be able to give him critical evidence in the case. “I snapped his picture for you. I pretended I was checking my text messages, so he wouldn’t notice, and I got several excellent shots of his face. Paul, are you all right? Your face is all blotchy suddenly and your jaw looks locked in an unusual position.”
He stepped closer into her then, and his eyes clouded. “You were pretending to check your messages? Tell me, do you think he might have caught on to your little stunt?”
“Well, I did not think so at first, but then I kind of realized he was staring straight into the camera.”
Without a second’s hesitation, Paul pulled her forward and turned her around to face the door. Then his hand popped on her backside five times in quick succession. At first, Jayne was so shocked she just stared ahead into the metal door. When the pain finally penetrated, she began wincing and asked, “What are you doing, Mr. Deaux?”
“Paul,” he corrected and gave her five more loud smacks.
“Paul! Ouch, you are hurting me.” She yelped, wondering if this was really happening or if she was daydreaming again. Hell, she might have enjoyed picturing Paul giving her a spanking, but it would never be like this. For one thing, she certainly would not have considered the pain involved. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, her behind was on fire. Spankings were not supposed to be given this way. She was not draped daintily across his hard lap. His hand did not fall at a steady pace, giving her time to adjust to each impact.
There was nothing sexy or romantic about this whole thing. Dang it, she was standing in the storage room of a sex shop, of all places. Customers were probably just a few feet away, perusing sex paraphernalia. What if they heard her yelps? Worse yet, what if they could hear or see what Paul was doing to her behind?
“I am sorry, Paul. Please, stop this nonsense right now. This is humiliating.”
Grabbing her shoulders, he turned her back to face him. “You could have been hurt, Jayne Anne. I could have lost you.”
Don’t read too much into that statement, she warned herself. Jayne was so used to daydreaming about this sexy man saying such outrageous things, she was not sure she even heard him right. “I’m safe. Well, I was safe before you started pounding on my backside.”
“I spanked your ass, young lady, and I will do it again if you ever do something so careless and crazy like this again. Do you hear me?”
Okay, those words could definitely come right out of one of her fantasies. Was she dreaming this whole event right now? Nah, she would never dream the painful part. Or would she? Instead of responding to his question, she tried to rationalize what was happening to her right now. Paul got frustrated with her lack of response and turned her back to face the door.
“It would seem I have not made enough of an impression yet,” he proclaimed, and his hard hand started falling all over again, only this time with much greater force.
“I’m sorry. My goodness, is it supposed to hurt this bad?”
“It would be a waste of time if it didn’t. This is a form of behavior modification, young lady. I am hoping by applying some negative stimuli, you will learn to make safer choices.”
“It’s very loud, too,” Jayne commented, her understanding of the entire spanking fantasy shifting from being romantic, to being something to avoid at all costs.”
“Wait until you hear my belt snapping across your bare ass, Jayne Anne. That will be a sound to remember.”
“You would use a belt on my… Fine, please tell me what I need to say or do to stop this madness right now.”
“You will never, ever, under any circumstance, put yourself in danger like this again.” His hand punctuated each word with a loud smack.
“I am a big chicken, Paul Deaux. This may surprise you, but putting myself in danger is something I generally try to avoid at all costs.”
“Then why the hell did you insist on taking a picture of a man you suspected could be an extortionist?”
“He is the extortionist,” she forgot what was going on for a moment, pleased to be able to help him get a good look at who he was up against. “Mr. Brown saw the pictures and identified him as the man who threatened them.”
Paul stopped for a moment and wondered at her naïve attitude. She was so pleased to have put herself in danger, he seriously worried she might do it again. Crap, he would no doubt be taking a belt to her ass before he even had a chance to woo her. But if he didn’t take drastic measures, she could get killed. “Listen to me, Jayne Anne. I am going to give you ten more smacks. After each one, I want you to say the words, ‘I will stay put’.”
“Stay put? What the heck does that even mean?” She did not want to prolong this punishment, but this was not making any sense to her.
“Stay put as in going where I tell you to go when we are working. Stay put as in not following me when I tell you to stay where it is safe. Stay put, as in avoiding situations where you might put yourself face to face with a criminal because you wanted to take his damn picture!”
The first smack had her bracing herself against the doorway. There was an awkward pause before she realized what Paul expected of her. “I will stay put.” Five hand prints against her sit spot had her becoming more forthcoming with her duty. “I promise I will always stay put.” The tenth one came before her pledge, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I will stay put no matter what.”
One minute he was spanking her like a wayward child and the next, Paul had Jayne cradled in his arms. He carried her over to the desk, and nudged the chair out with his foot. Then he sat down and held her tightly as she wept in confusion. Part of her was embarrassed. Her boss had just used his bare hand to pound on her behind. Did things like that still happen in this day and time? After a lifelong obsession with corporal punishment, Jayne had been shocked by the reality of the situation. It was nothing like she expected. Who knew actual pain was involved? Sure, the women in the pictures and movies she watched over and over again complained, but wasn’t that just part of the fantasy?
This aftercare, with Paul holding her in his arms and whispering words of praise for her accepting her punishment was kind of nice, in a strange, hard to explain way. His arms wrapped around her, helping her regain control of her emotions, helping her calm her breathing. If she knew this action would always follow a punishment, Jayne might just have to get into a lot of mischief in the future. He had picked her up as if she weighed nothing at all. Her panties were getting wet again. They seemed to do that a lot around Paul.
It dawned on her, suddenly, he was speaking to her. “… won’t lose you after finally finding you, Jayne Anne. If someone caused you harm, especially because of me, I would never forgive myself. You might not believe this, but I didn’t spank you for my benefit.
“Frankly, I did enjoy the bounce of those lush cheeks when my hand made contact, but I would have preferred you to be over my knee, backside bare, listening to you moan, and seeing your ass turn a bright red. I also would prefer to give you good girl spankings, but if the need arises, I won’t hesitate to give you corrective ones, too.”
“Corrective? Good girl spankings?” Her eyes were wide as her mind tried to reconcile those contrary ideas.
“I keep forgetting how innocent you are, Jayne Anne. It’s what attracted me to you in the first place, but it’s also what has made me hold back from pursuing you at the pace I would have liked to.” Paul’s large hand started gently stroking her blonde hair. He pulled a few strands to his nose and inhaled deeply. “You always smell so nice, young lady. I could make a meal out of you.”
“You like me, eh, in that way?” Dang it, her panties were a lost cause now.
He claimed her lips, gently at first. When she gasped at the bliss, he slowly eased his warm tongue between her lips, and Jayne Anne honestly did not know how to process the new sensations. It was odd.
She was not quite sure what to do with her own tongue, so she slid it to one side. His chuckle echoed deep from his chest. Then he taught her just what her tongue should be doing, and Jayne realized she liked this form of kissing.
It was exciting. It was fun. It was too delicious not to be sinful. She started to pull away, but he only deepened the kiss then. Moaning with pleasure, Jayne decided she could always go to confession later. This was the reason why she had not become a nun. She craved something like this, but even more.
Discrete coughing broke up their embrace. Mr. Brown was standing just outside the room and trying to announce his intent to enter without taking them by surprise. “Yes, Mr. Smith, I do have that model in bright pink. If you could just give me a second, I’ll get it from the far-right shelf, three rows down, labeled Double Your Pleasure Strap On, hot pink model.”
Jayne slipped off her boss’ lap and desperately tried to find someplace to hide. Paul got up nonchalantly and located the item the store owner had mentioned. He handed it over when Mr. Brown entered and thanked the man for giving them some privacy.
Then the two men shook hands and parted company. As Jayne watched the other man exit, she got a glimpse of the customer standing by the checkout counter. It was the organist from her church. The Double Your Pleasure dildo was for him. His wife stood just behind him, smiling bashfully.
Paul noticed the direction of her eyes. “I told you there was nothing sinful about a committed couple spicing up their sex lives. Look, I even got a goody bag for us.” He held up a discreet plastic bag. It was impossible to make out the contents, but Jayne’s face reddened as her imagination went wild.
“For us?” Could the wet spot be noticed on her jeans? She had never had sex before, much less even fantasied about using any of the wild products on display in the other room. Did Paul know how inexperienced she was? Would it matter? Most people her age probably had several lovers by this point in their lives. Heck, Paul was at least seven or eight years older than her.
How many women had he been with in that way? She did not stand a chance of keeping his interest or knowing how to please him sexually. Dang her grandfather for making her lead such a sheltered life. Now, she might lose the man of her dreams because she was a virgin.
“Breathe, young lady. You are going to have to trust me. I know all this is new to you. There is no rush. We’ll take our time getting to know what things turn you on and what your hard limits are.”
“Hard limits?” She really felt stupid now.
“How did I get so damn lucky?” Paul muttered before cupping her face and pulling her in for a deep kiss. “Time to head to work.”
Ansel Deaux, one of Paul’s younger siblings, worked with the FBI. Jayne forwarded him the images of the man identified by Mr. Brown as being the blackmailer. At thirty, Agent Deaux was almost as handsome as her Paul, in Jayne’s estimation. He was a redhead, too, as were all seven of the siblings. Constant training at Quantico Bay in Virginia kept him fit, and muscles seemed to sprout out of his shoulders, arms and legs. Like Paul’s twin, Jean, this Deaux brother looked dark and brooding. Jayne had only met him on two occasions and had been terrified of him both times. Paul had his brother running facial recognition programs on the man Jayne encountered.
All during the rest of the work week, the receptionist at Deaux Consultants had a difficult time finding a comfortable way to sit at her desk. It made working very frustrating, but went a long way toward curbing her daydreaming. Every time her mind started to drift off, she had a tendency to slump. Doing so caused her to move against her wooden seat, which made her flinch in response. One of Paul’s two sisters, Genevieve also worked at the business, and she commented on the situation.
“I am going to talk to accounting and have them order you a new chair. You appear to be very uncomfortable.” At twenty-seven, Eve, as her family nicknamed her, worked alongside her brothers. When a female detective was needed to investigate concerns at a business, she blended in better than Paul or Jean could. Generally, the person handling the case hung around the client’s place for a few days or weeks, scoping out the situation and conferring with the other members of the team to decide how to best neutralize the problem.
“Hey, beautiful, want to come to my parents’ crawfish boil with me this weekend?” Patrick Deaux quietly walked up behind the ladies as they discussed getting a new chair. He appeared to love teasing Jayne and watching her blush. She riled so easily. It was an added bonus that big brother Paul got all bent out of shape because of his flirting. Everyone in the family knew Paul had been trying to stake a claim on the pretty receptionist. But Paul was so controlled and patient, his siblings liked to ruffle his feathers about losing his opportunity.
As if on cue, Paul strode up on the scene and stepped between Patrick and Jayne. “She’s already coming with me, Paddy. Head back to your desk. You just took a break thirty minutes ago. I hired you to work, not flirt with my woman.” Both of Paul’s siblings were shocked by his declaration.
“So, you two are an official couple now?” Eve smiled and winked at Jayne. She gave her big brother a thumbs up.
Patrick leaned around his boss and picked up Jayne’s hand to examine it. “I don’t see a ring on it, bro. Until then, she’s still fair game. I might just give you a run for your money with this one.”
Paul removed his brother’s hand from Jayne’s. “Give it your best shot, Paddy. But right now, you’re on my time. Back to work. The adults are talking, and you are just barely legal.”
There was a pecking order at Deaux Consultants. Patrick was the least experienced and youngest to work there. He had not proven his worth yet to be trusted in the field. At twenty-one, he had only just been able to go to the places which generally hired the troubleshooting company. “All work and no play is a turn off, Paul.” He winked at Jayne one last time before heading back to his section.
“How long have you two been dating?” Eve was not easily scared by her brother. She owned one third of the stock in the company, and her twin siblings had needed her help to start the business in the first place. They envisioned her being a silent partner, but she had bullied her way into a more active role. Genevieve might appear demure, with her long silky hair and cupid face, but she was a spitfire who did not accept the limitations others tried to set for her.
“It doesn’t matter.” Paul did not want to spook the receptionist with his imposing family.
“Six hours, thirty-two minutes,” Jayne announced, after doing some calculations in her mind. Were they dating? She wondered. Did a couple have to go on an official date before they could be considered a thing? Well, Paul had gotten up close and personal with her at Passionate Pleasures. If the spanking did not count, surely the make out session did. Make out session. She, finally, after twenty-four long, lonely years had actually taken part in something as intimate as a make out session. A sigh escaped her lips as she smiled. Eve’s musical laughter made Jayne pause. “Not that it matters, like Mr. Deaux… like Paul said.”
He was going to take her to the crawfish boil. Jayne spent the rest of the day marveling in that knowledge. She would not be attending as an employee. No, she, Jayne Anne Richard, was going to be there as a significant other. Was it too soon to consider herself along those lines? It was best not to verbalize such thoughts, but daydreaming about their implications was fair game.
Jean would be there with his new, sophisticated, beautiful wife. Camille Deaux was everything Jayne had always wanted to be: self-assured, independent, successful, full of life and ready for adventure. One day the receptionist hoped to be as comfortable with herself as Camille was. Until then, she allowed herself to pretend she was a bit more confident and polished than she actually was.
The Deaux parents lived in a huge house just outside the city limits. They had a tennis court, swimming pool and a motorhome parked outside their backyard. In her fantasies, Jayne showed up in a modest, but alluring bikini. She bounced up and down on the diving board, and her date could not keep his eyes off her. Her perky breasts would bounce slightly, making him wonder if it might slide off when she dove into the water. Jayne pictured herself gracefully entering the water, hardly a splash in her wake. She’d manage to swim the length of the pool and pop up in front of Paul, who would be disappointed the swimsuit stayed put.
Then they would steal a few kisses before she changed into a cute little tennis outfit. Paul would be thrilled to have her as his partner. Jean and Camille would be formidable players, but they would fall just below the skill and grace of Paul and her. Her serves would be next to impossible to hit. Best yet, when she would grab a new ball from her panty line of her tennis skirt, Paul would find it impossible to take his eyes off her. Ever since she had been young and watched Wimbledon as a child, she had wanted to be able to store balls like the pros, looking so graceful and at ease with pulling something from the general region of their private areas.
“She’s daydreaming again,” Eve told Patrick as she sat at her desk.
“When is she not daydreaming? That was my first clue that Big P had the hots for little Jayne Anne. How else could anyone explain him hiring her to act as receptionist here?” Paddy shook his head with wonder. “She’s a horrible gossip, too.”
“Jayne would never gossip. She doesn’t have a mean bone in her body.” Eve was quick to defend the other woman.
“Wrong word choice,” her baby brother admitted. “She can’t seem to control how much information she gives when people call or come in for appointments. I heard her tell one guy all about how Jean met his wife in New Orleans. Not that it was secret information, but I doubt Jean would want strangers knowing his business. He does like his privacy more than most.”
“I’ll talk to her,” his sister offered. “She just gets all chatty when she’s nervous. It could cause trouble if some of the businesses hiring us found out someone in our company liked to rattle off private matters.”
“If I were you,” Paddy suggested, “I’d approach Paul about the matter and let him handle it. I enjoy pushing his buttons, but he is very protective of his little receptionist. If she goes crying to him because you hurt her feelings, he might deck you.”
“Paul would never hit a woman.” Eve smirked. Then she remembered a few times when Paul had made comments about a woman never being too old to be spanked. “Well, maybe I will talk to him about the issue.” If any man tried to spank her, Eve knew she would fight every second of the humiliation. But Paul was older, stronger and meaner than she was. It was best not to take a chance.
Someone did show up to the crawfish boil in a sexy bikini, but it was not Jayne. Camille Deaux had the perfect body for the barely there suit. That much was hard to deny. She was perky in all the right places and very comfortable with her self-image. Her husband, however, was not pleased when she removed her cover-up to go swimming, especially when all his unattached brothers started whistling at Camille.
“Beautiful, you have about thirty seconds to cover up before I take issue with your attire,” Jean ordered. He glared at his brothers and most turned away quickly. Paddy liked to push boundaries, though. He maintained eye contact with Camille’s perfect form until Jean shoved him into the pool.
“Behave yourself, Jean. There is nothing wrong with my swimsuit. You never complained when I wore it during our honeymoon.” Camille was far braver than Jayne thought was wise. Jean had an explosive temper. She certainly would never cross him. Paul was the more stable of the twins. Thank goodness, Camille had not set her eyes on snagging him. The receptionist liked to think she would have fought for Paul if necessary, but doubted she would have stood a chance against the beauty in the bikini.
Jean fumed when his new wife was questioning his orders. He grabbed his wife’s hand in a tight grip before pulling her away from the rest of the family. Remembering a similar expression on Paul’s face just before he spanked her, Jayne had a pretty good idea of Jean’s intent when he pulled his wife toward the house. Maybe spanking was more prevalent than she assumed.
Paul and Ansel chuckled at the couple’s departure while they tended to the crawfish boiling in a tall, steel pot. They had two water hoses pointed at the metal container. They were regulating the temperature of the pot by spraying the container at specific angles and pressures. They had discovered the trick several years before. It made peeling the cooked crawfish easier.
“Can I do anything to help?” Jayne asked, feeling out of place with the sheer number of people walking around. Being an only child, she was used to lots of quiet, lonely weekends. The crowd at the Deaux home was loud, wild and hard to avoid.
Paul pulled her close for a quick kiss. “We have everything under control. How spicy do you like your crawfish, baby girl? This first batch will be ready in about ten minutes. It will be the mildest one of the day. We call it the Yankee and Young Children pile.”
“I haven’t really eaten enough seafood to know how spicy I like it.” Jayne admitted.
Ansel laughed. “Too easy. I am not even going to make the obvious joke.”
“If you did, I would shove you into the pool with Paddy,” Paul admonished. Turning back to Jayne, he suggested a way to figure out the issue. “Have some of the first batch. When the new ones come up, try some of those, too. If your mouth hasn’t caught fire by then, give the last crawfish a try. Fair warning, Jayne Anne. None of the ladies sit at the table for that last batch. I never could figure out if it was because the food was just too spicy for them, or if seeing my brothers trying to out eat each other grosses them out. Not that I am bragging or anything, but I hold the record for highest pile of peelings.”
“I was a close second,” Ansel smiled, taking a sip of his beer. “I have a secret weapon to give me the edge in today’s competition.”
“What’s that?” Jayne smiled.
He leaned in to whisper in her ear. “You.”
She giggled nervously at his teasing. “I will be pulling for Paul to win, you know? When he sets his mind to doing something, there is no stopping him. Why, he didn’t eat anything for lunch or supper yesterday. At the time, I did not understand, but now it is starting to make sense. He was making sure he had an appetite…”
Paul stopped her mid-sentence with a harsh kiss. Her habit of rattling off information better left out frustrated him to no end. Shutting her up was kind of fun though. “Why don’t you go jump in the pool, baby girl? I will call you the moment the food hits the table.”
With a dreamy expression, Jayne walked away. Being in a relationship was new and exciting. She could get used to it. Taking a seat by a table near the pool, she started daydreaming about Paul kissing her again. His tongue was so bold, but she rather liked it chasing her own. Paddy pulled himself up and rested his elbows on the side of the pool. “Come on, Jayne. The water feels great.”
Glancing around her, the receptionist noticed all the people mingling around. While her bathing suit was nowhere near as revealing as Camille’s, Jayne was not used to appearing in public with so little material covering her more private regions. Maybe, if she and Paul were alone, and he promised to keep his eyes closed until she got into the water, she would consider going swimming. “Maybe later,” she hedged.
“Later the pool will be filled with lots of people. Come on, you know you want to come in. Its ninety degrees out here. Heck, with the humidity, it probably feels over a hundred. We can swim laps until the crawfish are done.”
Paddy’s locks were slicked back against his neck. He wore it a bit longer than his older brothers as if to distinguish himself from their conservative mode. He had a falcon tattoo on his toned chest. Jayne considered him to be the poster person for a bad boy.
No one seemed to be paying them any attention, so Jayne considered his offer. Her cover-up was feeling sticky as the sun caused her to perspire. Taking a little sniff, she worried about stinking the next time Paul decided to kiss her. Would he be so turned off he avoided close contact with her for the rest of the day? But she could not bring herself to drop her cover-up with Paddy studying her so closely. “What’s that behind you?”
The moment Paddy’s back was turned, Jayne yanked off the covering and dove into the pool. Her modest two-piece suit covered all the right areas, but she still felt naked. Paul stopped tending to the crawfish to come poolside. “No diving off the shallow end, young lady. Paddy, you know better than to allow that. Keep an eye on her, for Pete’s sake.”
“With pleasure,” Paddy smiled, motioning for Jayne to swim his way. “You hear the boss, little Jayne. I’m the official life guard. Last one to the end of the pool and back loses.” No sooner had she gotten next to him, he kicked off from the side and started racing to the other end.
Jayne started swimming after him, but he got to the other side before she could even make half way. He started back slowly, taunting her for being a slow poke, saying it served Jayne right for tricking him into turning around when she jumped inside.
On her way back, Jayne paused mid-way, kicking her feet wildly, but not seeming to make any progress. Her head bobbed up and down, almost slipping under the water before Paddy realized what was happening. He rushed to save her, knowing Paul would kill him if anything happened to his little Jayne Anne while she was under his watch.
“Hang on, Jayne.” He swam up to her side. “I’ll help you. Give me your arm.”
“Can I give you a leg instead?” She gulped. Then she put her foot up until it was close to the falcon tattoo and used it as leverage to propel herself ahead of him. She reached the end of the pool and giggled with glee. “I won. Cheaters never prosper, Paddy Deaux. You should remember that.”
Paddy drifted to her side and made sure Paul was not looking. Then he dunked Jayne completely under water. The brat came up giggling at him instead of showing any respect. “Here I was, worried my big brother was eating you up since you were so sweet and innocent.”
“I am sweet and innocent.” Jayne’s voice rose slightly.
“Yes, you are, but you are sneaky, too. I like that in a woman. Too bad Pauly got to you first, Jayne. We might have made a winning couple.”
“Trying to steal Paul’s woman?” Jean asked as he jumped feet first into the water. Camille leapt into his arms a moment later, a huge T-shirt covering up her tiny bikini. “It’s a sure way to get fired from the company, not to mention, probably killed.”
Instead of being flustered by those words, Paddy swam closer. “Want to race me across the pool, Camille? You would be at a disadvantage, of course. Is my big brother really going to make you wear that ridiculous T-shirt all day? I thought your swimsuit was very nice, by the way.”
Jean politely put his giggling wife down before taking off after his baby brother. Camille and Jayne tried not to cringe when the younger brother was shoved down under the water several times. It was only after the men’s mother came over that the rough playing slowed down.
Momma Deaux was a tiny woman with a furious temper when riled. “Jean, I don’t think Paddy can hold his breath that long under water.” Jean pulled his brother up and let him fill his lungs with a fresh oxygen supply before shoving him under again.
“Better?” The oldest Deaux asked with a straight face.
“Not quite,” his mother said, crossing her arms over her chest.
“You never let me have any fun,” Jean complained, releasing his sibling and moving over to the ladies.
Paddy came up gasping for air. Jayne feared there would be a fight then, but the younger brother gave her a sly wink before moving closer to his mother. “Thank goodness, you came along, Momma. Jean is only getting more unreasonable now that he’s married. He wore me out trying to kill me just now. I’m starving. Have they finished the first batch of crawfish yet?”
“You poor dear,” Mrs. Deaux cooed. “Why don’t you dry off and come to the table? I’ll peel you some as soon as they are out.” She rushed away, ordering everyone lining up to get the first crawfish to back off. “I promised Paddy I’d get him some. Y’all can wait a bit. It’s not like we don’t have bags and bags of crawfish to eat.”
“I’m still her favorite.” Paddy could not help but needle his brother. “Come on, Jayne. So long as you are with me, you can enjoy Paul’s first efforts.”
Jean and Camille were already making out, and Jayne felt like a third wheel in the pool. She tried to shame Paddy into turning around while she got out and covered up, but he was not budging. Paul arrived just before Jayne gave in. Pulling open a huge beach towel, her date walked over to the ladder and beckoned for her to come to him. He held up the material blocking Paddy’s view, and engulfed her in the towel. “Nice suit, young lady. Modest, but still tempting. Paddy didn’t give you too much trouble, did he?”
“Of course not,” she promised.
“Not from lack of trying,” Paddy called out.
The first batch of seafood had Jayne’s mouth burning. It only got spicier after that. Not even a glass of iced tea could give her relief from the scorching feeling in her mouth. Even her fingers were sweltering from the Cayenne pepper and crab boil seasoning. When the last pot of steaming crawfish was dumped across the table set under a shady oak tree, all the Deaux men showed up. They started smack talking one another, each claiming he would out consume the other when it got down to the eating contest. The men sat according to age, with Daddy Deaux at the head of the table. Jean, then Paul sat to his right. Ansel, the FBI agent perched on the opposite side from his father. Louis, the quietest of the sons was next. Paddy was on his father’s left. Various women mulled around the men. Camille had an ice chest of beers. She planned to keep her husband supplied for the duration of the contest.
Momma Deaux had a pitcher of iced tea and two plastic cups to take care of her husband and youngest son. Ansel’s date for the day, a cute brunette offered to get him drinks if he needed. Eve decided to cheer Louis on. Of all her siblings, he was her favorite. He always treated her as an equal, never questioning her ability to hang out with the men of Deaux Consultants. If he could win, it would show up her more vocal, macho brothers.
“What can I do to help you?” Jayne bent down to whisper in Paul’s ear. Her lips were still stinging from the earlier batch. She did not understand how her date could even consider consuming this especially potent batch, much less trying to eat more than the other men at the table. Paul grinned at her, before announcing his wish for her to keep a bottle of hot sauce nearby in case this year’s offerings were too mild.
Lilly Marie, the youngest of the Deaux siblings stepped on top of a bench seat which encircled the massive oak tree. In her hands, the twenty-three-old beauty held a large, stuffed crustacean. “On my signal, the contest begins. Winner will be determined by the number of crawfish heads piled before players. Last year’s winner, and current champ for ten years, Paul is hoping for another victory. But Daddy may be a contender today. He is wearing shorts with an elastic waist line. Paddy could provide an upset. Everyone knows what a big mouth he has.” The small crowd started laughing. Paddy flexed his muscles and cracked his knuckles instead of taking issue.
“My Jean might win,” Camille announced. “He has a very healthy appetite.”
“I should hope so,” Momma Deaux said with a grin. “I want grandchildren. Make sure you satisfy his needs, Cammy, dear. Twins run in the family on both sides. Did I mention that?”
“Gross,” Paddy muttered. “Momma, please. We are getting ready to eat here. None of us want that image in our minds.”
Lilly Marie might be the youngest, but she was by far the bossiest of the family. “Everyone please stop distracting our contestants. The contest continues so long as a player remains in his chair. Anyone leaving the table, be it to visit the bathroom or throw up, forfeits their place in the running. Claude Crawdad here goes home with the winner to be proudly displayed until next year’s contest.”
“That hideous stuffed crawfish would need to come home with us? Jean, don’t you dare win this contest.”
“Keep giving me sass, woman and I will lay you across the table and bust your backside in front of everyone. I will have you know, our dear, sweet momma won that stuffed animal at the Alligator festival almost twenty years ago. Each of us begged her to let us have it, but she refused to play favorites. We had a crawfish boil the next day, and Dad decided to settle the argument by having a contest. He could out eat any of us back then, and easily managed to win the coveted prize. I doubt he thought we would challenge him again the following year.”
Paul started chuckling. “Jean and I hit puberty by then.” He explained to Jayne and Camille. “Neither of us really wanted the dang stuffed animal, but we both wanted to prove we could out do our dad. Jean easily won. Each year, the bragging rights to Claude got more and more intense. Both girls outgrew their desire to win and dropped out. The rest of us kept the competition alive by upping the rules. Last boil of the day, not leaving the table, counting the heads instead of measuring the pile.”
At that mention, all the brothers gave Paddy a nasty sneer. He filled the newcomers in on the story behind that rule. “Hey, before we started that year, I asked loud and clear if it was the size of the pile which counted. Nobody mentioned anything about the pile only including crawfish heads. Can I help it if Jean’s empty cans of beer somehow made it to the bottom of my pile?”
“Thus, the added rule about sitting by birth order,” Momma Deaux added. “Jean tried to kill poor Paddy when they found out about the inflated stacking.”
“I had a winning streak going, and the jerk jinxed me. I haven’t won since,” Jean explained.
Jayne enjoyed the playful bickering. Being an only child, she missed out on things like this. She had longed for a sibling, boy or girl, in her youth. It must have been exciting and wonderful to live in this family as a child. One day she wanted lots of children. She smiled at Paul and held up a bottle of hot sauce. How she hoped he would win.
In her mind, she pretended they were married and raising four children, two boys and two girls. Her imagination was so vivid.
“Mommy, can I hold Claude?” Their youngest asked.
“Don’t mess with Claude,” her older brother, he was as handsome as his father, and just as wise, ordered.
“Aw, let her play with the stupid thing.” Jayne realized she would probably have a son who acted a lot like his uncle Patrick, but she would adore him anyway.
The last child, a brilliant girl much like Aunt Eve would start explaining how their wonderful, perfect father won the stuffed animal by outshining the rest of his family. “He almost lost once, but Mommy rushed in at the last second and gave him a bottle of hot sauce, enabling him to continue eating and beat everyone else. Do you remember that day, Mommy?” Jayne started sighing with contentment, lost in her thoughts.
“This is absolutely gross,” Camille said, breaking the perfect image. “Do you guys realize how unattractive you all look trying to outeat one another. Jean, your face is dripping with crawfish juice. I hope you aren’t planning on making your parents any grandchildren tonight.” Her husband’s gusto for winning suddenly dimmed.
“Oh, thanks for reminding me of my secret plan,” Ansel said in between bites of seafood. His pile of discarded shells was about even with the twins, who were neck and neck for the lead. “Paul, have I told you what a nice couple you and Jayne make? I can’t believe it took you so long to finally ask her out. I have got to hand it to you, though. Now, that you can finally kiss your beautiful lady, it doesn’t even concern you that she might be turned off by the taste of spicy crawfish on your lips. I saw you bring her iced tea, water and even some Tums to help settle her stomach, and all she ate was that first, mild batch. Given the choice between winning Claude, or making out with Jayne, I would go with the hot babe every time.”
“What about me?” his date asked the FBI agent. “You sure seem determined to win that stupid stuffed crawfish instead of making out with me.”
“Now, now, sweetheart, I took care of you before we came here today. But don’t worry. Unlike my older brothers, I recover from digesting too much food fast. You won’t go home unsatisfied.”
“Eating here!” Paddy groaned. His pile was remarkably small for the amount of bragging he had done.
“Louis, you are making yourself sick. Give it up already.” It was not Eve who spoke to the middle Deaux brother. It was a friend he bought to the party. Jayne remembered him introducing the man as Peter. She saw the two men exchange a meaningful glance before Louis pushed back from the table. Jayne watched the two men walk away, and Peter gave Louis a brotherly pat on the back for knowing his limits.
Lilly pretended Claude was a microphone and gave a running commentary on the contest. “With Louis’ exit, we are down to five, now. Oh, Daddy doesn’t look like he is feeling too well. Momma, you might want to move to the side. Jean has slowed down, and seems to be falling behind Paul. Will Ansel’s mindfuck…” Everyone surrounding the table stopped to glare at the youngest sibling. “Sorry, that one slipped out. For goodness sake, everybody. I am over twenty-one. Stop treating me like a baby. Anyway, will Ansel’s training as a FBI agent help him get under Paul’s skin? Will Paul win the prize and lose the girl?”
“Hey, I am still here,” Paddy complained between bites.
“There aren’t enough uneaten crawfish for you to even have a chance,” Lilly told him without sympathy.
As if verifying her words, Patrick paused to gauge the remaining available food. Throwing up his hands, he decided if he couldn’t win, he might as well help shake up Paul’s winning streak. He rarely got to mess with his older brothers without it coming back to bite him in the ass. “Jayne, don’t you worry. If Paul is too sick or just too repulsive after the contest, you can count on me to take you home. While he is kissing Claude goodnight, you and I can…”
Paul was up and out of his chair before poor Paddy could stop himself. Lifting his younger sibling by the scruff of his neck and the waist of his shorts, Jayne’s date carried his brother to the pool and tossed him inside. Jayne cringed. Momma Deaux wanted to go save her baby boy, but her husband was looking gray. Eve was laughing, as was Jean. Ansel kept eating, taking advantage of everyone’s inattention.
Everyone, that is, but Lilly Marie. She never missed anything, the brat. “It looks like Paul was outdone by baby brother Paddy. Unfortunately, Paddy is all wet now; Paul is out of the race. Jean seems to have lost his steam. Daddy really doesn’t look good, Momma. You better take him inside. Jean, watch out. Ansel is catching up to you. If you want to take Claude home with you, step it up.”
“While you decide if you want to step it up, honey,” Camille purred, “I will be waiting for you in your old bedroom. I suddenly feel like taking a nice, long nap. By the way, that ugly crawfish better not try to climb in bed with me.” The new bride pulled off the huge T-shirt covering her incredible body. Ansel, Paddy and Jean watched her sexy hips sway side to side as she sashayed away.
“You are so getting your butt busted for stripping naked again,” Jean called after her. He stormed away from the table, grabbing the T-shirt in his wake
“And we are down to Dad and Ansel. Poor Dad hasn’t won Claude in so long, he probably doesn’t remember what it feels like. You really don’t look so good, Daddy. Why don’t you give up?”
“Excuse me, dear.” Without getting up from his seat, Daddy Deaux used his hand to move his wife out of the way before losing the contents of his stomach. Eve and Jayne scurried away from the nauseous smell and stomach-turning site. Ansel dropped the crawfish he was about to eat and turned away. While everyone was distracted, Daddy Deaux reached over to pull some of Jean’s pile over to his own. Claude was finally his again.
Murdering someone was wrong, very, very wrong, Jayne told herself. Still, in her mind’s eye, she had Erica Summers’ slender neck between her fingers and was squeezing every last breath out of the bitch. Ashamed at herself for using such vulgar language and having such horrible thoughts, Jayne tried to distract herself from staring at Paul’s door.
His former mistress had arrived thirty minutes before, demanding to see him. When Jayne explained, in a much nicer tone than she wanted to use, that he was not there, the haughty woman announced she would just check that out for herself. She barged through the office and opened Paul’s office door without so much as a warning knock.
Sticking her tongue out at the other woman, Jayne had to stop herself from smirking. “Like I said, Mr. Deaux is not in right now. I will be sure to tell him you came by.”
“Don’t bother. I doubt you will bother to tell him about me. I have talked to you countless times, and he still has not returned my calls. You wouldn’t be keeping them from him, would you?”
“She’s given them to him, Erica.” Paddy came up behind them. “Apparently, Paul doesn’t want to talk to you.” Jayne gave the younger Deaux a huge grin. He was becoming one of her favorite co-workers.
“Patrick, why don’t you crawl back to your pretend big boy desk and stay out of my business?” Erica might be an attractive woman, but her lips were off center when she sneered. It was not a pleasant look on her. “I will wait for Paul in his office and see for myself if he is getting my messages.”
She entered Paul’s office and slammed the door on both of their faces. “Is she allowed to do that?” Jayne asked, unsure of how to handle this mess.
“Erica does not think there is much she can’t do. I’d throw her out for you, Jayne, but she would love for me to raise a hand at her, so she could cry foul. Keep an eye on things, while I get Eve. She will know what to do.”
Jayne worried about Paul arriving and seeing his old lover. Would he lose interest in her once he reconnected with the more worldly, gorgeous Erica Summers? What if he was upset over her letting the other woman go into his private office. Jayne was concerned her job could be at stake. As receptionist, she was probably not supposed to allow people past the front office without permission.
Placing an ear on the door, she tried to listen for any hint of what the other woman was up to inside. It was quiet in there, far too quiet. “Funny, I never took you as the type to spy on people,” a voice from behind her made her jump. Jayne turned to find Louis standing there.
“I can explain,” she started, but decided it would be difficult to find the words without embarrassing herself any more. Jayne found it hard to maintain eye contact with Paul’s brother, not because of him catching her with her ear plastered against a door, but because of a conversation she overheard earlier that day between Eve and this brother.
“Stop trying to fit in and just be yourself, Louis. Momma and Daddy love you. We all do. They are not going to change when you admit you are dating a man.” Eve’s voice had carried, and Jayne had tried humming to distract herself, but it did not help.
“Momma might accept it, but Daddy and the others will never let me live it down. Man up! Stop being a little sissy! Why can’t you just be more like the other boys? You don’t even play football as well as your brothers? Hell, I can’t even win a stupid crawfish eating contest to gain their respect. If they found out I was gay, they would disown me.”
“You overheard, didn’t you?” Louis asked when he saw Jayne’s face redden.
It would have been easy to pretend she assumed he was talking about hearing something going on inside Paul’s office, but Jayne hated lying. She liked to daydream, enjoyed being sheltered from unpleasant things, but she was no liar. “Eve’s right, you know. Your family will love you no matter who you date.”
“How about you, Jayne? Can you still respect me knowing I am gay? I know you have a deep faith in God. Paddy said he thought you might have considered being a nun at one time. Can you honestly say you aren’t repulsed by my life style?”
“It’s not my job to judge you, Louis. Your decisions are between you and God. I was shocked, but you don’t repulse me in the least. I am just embarrassed to be in on the secret before your family knows. If you think it is going to be hard for them to deal with you being gay, think about how even more devastated they will be if they hear it from someone else before you tell them.”
“I never thought about that,” Louis said, taking a slow breath. Eve arrived before either one of them could say another word.
“Jayne, you better go back to your desk. This might get ugly. Louis, would you mind helping me take out the trash?”
“Trash?” Louis seemed taken back.
“Erica is holed up in Paul’s office. He broke things off with her, but she appears to be having trouble accepting that fact.”
Jayne pretended she was not dying to know what was going on in the back office. She checked emails, watched phone lines to see if any lit up signaling a call, but her mind was back on Paul’s office. It was deadly silent. After a few minutes, the door swung wide and Erica Summers walked out, followed closely by Eve and Louis.
“Paul will be quite put out with you both for interfering.” She took her time exiting the business. “If he doesn’t pay you back, I certainly will.”
Spying the name plate on Jayne’s desk, Erica gave a nasty smirk. “Jayne? What a perfect name for such a plain, little office receptionist. I heard a wild rumor you were Damien Richard’s heir, but that’s ridiculous. Why would you work as a glorified phone monitor if you came from money?”
“If you read past the Jayne part of my name, you would notice the Richard part. Having money doesn’t give life meaning. Some of us hold down jobs so we can have a purpose and make a difference.”
“How naïve and quaint. Do try to remember to let Paul know I stopped by? He has my number. It’s on his speed dial.”
“Whatever you do, don’t tell Paul she came by,” Eve ordered. “If he knew she managed to breach his office, all hell would break loose. Our company’s reputation was built on providing security and taking care of problems before they become a liability.”
Louis agreed. “Paul would not take kindly to knowing we couldn’t stop an ex-girlfriend from walking around here like she owned the place. I don’t trust her one bit. When we confronted her in the office, she was standing right next to Paul’s computer. She had a smug expression as if she knew something she was not supposed to.”
“Do you think she managed to unlock his computer?” Eve went into damage control mode.
“I doubt it,” Louis advised. “I hooked up Paul’s and Jean’s computer with an eye recognition device. Give me a moment to go check it out. I’ll be able to tell if she tried to access anything.”
“Not that I am judging,” Eve told Jayne. “But your tiny paycheck must be a letdown considering how much your family is worth.”
“My paycheck represents my independence. My grandfather likes to control everyone around him, especially me. My parents left me my house and enough money to cover monthly responsibilities, but there is little extra unless I want to give in to my grandfather’s suggestions about how I should live my life. Besides, I don’t go out much and my paycheck keeps me in Netflix, romance novels and chocolate.”
Louis came back. “She tried to get into his computer, but it locked up on her. I reset it, so Paul will be none the wiser.”
“I will be none the wiser about what, Louis?” Paul entered the business so silently; he caught them all by surprise. Jayne cringed and glanced at his two siblings. She hoped he didn’t ask her what was going on. She would have to tell him everything. Would he dump her and fire her, too?
Louis studied Jayne, then gave Eve a knowing nod. “Let’s step into your office, brother. I have been hiding something from everyone, but Jayne here helped me realize not talking about it could make things even worse in the end.”
“That sounds ominous,” Paul announced. Leaning over, he gave Jayne a quick kiss on the lips before telling his brother, “I’ll wait for you in my office.”
“You don’t need to do this,” Jayne told Louis in a low tone. “If, and when, you decide to tell your family about your secret, it should be on your own terms.”
“I have to agree with Jayne on this one.” Eve nodded. “As much as I want you to open up and be honest with the family, it shouldn’t be a part of a cover-up.”
“Trust me, trying to hide Erica’s little invasion has nothing to do with me coming out. Besides Eve here, Paul is the most understanding of the siblings. I respect him, and if he can accept me for what I am, it will make it easier to let everyone else in the family in on it.”
Louis disappeared into Paul’s office and neither of them emerged until well after closing time. When they did come out, Paul had an arm around his younger brother. “Now, I wish I paid more attention to Peter when you introduced us at the party. He sounds like a great guy. Maybe we can have dinner at the club one night next week so I can get to know him better.”
“You’re going to like him a lot. But I don’t think I am ready to show up at the club with my significant other just yet. Give me a chance to get up the courage to talk to Momma and Daddy first, and depending on how that turns out, the rest of the family.” Louis smiled like a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He gave his big brother a chest bump and they clapped their hands hard against each other’s backs.
After Louis left for the day, Paul pulled Jayne to his office and closed the door. Locking it, he turned, pulled her close and kissed her like he had longed to do when he first arrived. “You taste like strawberries,” he moaned in her neck.
“I brought some for my snack today.” Jayne sighed, trying to steady her breathing. “Did your brother have any news about the pictures I sent him of the man who was giving the Browns’ trouble?”
“The Browns don’t have to worry about the man ever again. It turns out he had an outstanding warrant from Texas. Ansel’s superiors could not praise him enough for discovering a current location on the guy. If they don’t have him in custody, it is only a matter of time.”
“So, our first case together was a success?” Jayne purred. She reached up on her tippy toes to kiss him this time.
His chuckle rattled deep within his chest. He pulled her around to sit on his lap as he took his seat. After a few more kisses, he turned to pull out a desk drawer. The bag from Passionate Pleasure was inside.
“Care to see my first gift for you?” he challenged. Jayne sort of hoped it was a new pair of panties, because he was making her wet the ones she had on. “Do you trust me, baby girl? I won’t push you any further than you are ready to go.” She nodded, words impossible to form right at that moment.
What would he take out? Her mind was both thrilled and terrified to find out. Remembering all the strange and erotic things she had spied at the sex shop, Jayne could not even begin to fathom what he might have inside the bag. “First gift? There is more than one thing in that bag?”
“Oh, there are many wondrous things waiting you inside that bag, but I will enjoy introducing them to you one at a time.
For a moment, Jayne froze in place. She recalled Louis’ comment about Erica having a smug look on her face when she was in this office earlier, as if she knew something she shouldn’t. Did she happen to discover Paul’s little bag of tricks? Would she tell everyone Jayne was a wanton woman who used sex toys with a man who was not her husband?
“Am I going too fast, baby girl?” Paul started to close the drawer, but Jayne stopped him. She trusted him completely. While he was not her husband, Jayne could easily see herself marrying him. She had daydreamed about a future with this man. She would not let fear or embarrassment cost her this experience. Suddenly, she was excited about what he might have for her inside his little bag. Jayne only hoped she did not humiliate them both by not knowing what he pulled out or how to use it.
“A paddle?” Jayne hopped off Paul’s lap the moment she recognized the object he pulled out. There was little doubt over how it would be used.
“Not just a paddle, young lady. It’s your paddle.”
“Am I supposed to be honored?” Jayne understood she was naïve, but he had to be teasing her right now.
“Do you remember in the storage room at Passionate Pleasures when I spanked you?”
He knew about Erica getting past her, Jayne cringed. Why else would he remind her of the horrible spanking he had given her then? “Never, in a million years, will I forget you smacking my backside that day.”
He chuckled. “It’s one of my fondest memories, too.”
“Oh, from my point, fondest is not the best description. Humiliating? Painful? Shocking? Those are more in line with my thoughts on that event.”
“I told you at the time, I wished our first spanking could have been a good girl kind.” He tried to coax her back his way, but Jayne only backed away further.
“Why would a good girl get a spanking? You aren’t making any sense. You claimed you smacked my butt last time because I didn’t listen. Now, you are going to do it again, with a paddle no less, because I have been listening?”
“Give me a chance to show you the difference between the two forms of spankings,” he challenged. “Three licks with this paddle, and I will put it away if you don’t enjoy it.”
“One,” Jayne countered, not sure why she was even listening to his suggestion in the first place.
“Two,” he said, chuckling softly. “Come here, young lady. Show me you trust me.”
His dang blue eyes mesmerized her. Like a spider to a flame, she slowly moved closer. Pushing back his chair, he beckoned her to lay across his lap. Gulping, Jayne wavered on following through or running away. “Is this going to hurt?”
“Only a little,” he purred as he eased her face down. “Tell me, baby girl. Have you ever wondered what it would be like for a man to take you in hand, warm your cute little backside, and then cuddle you close afterward?”
It was as if he had snuck inside her bedroom and uncovered her private stash of spanking stuff. Jayne wanted to die right then and there. Instead, she told him how she really felt. “Any fantasies I had in the past were ruined by what happened in that storage room, Paul. What had once been mysterious and romantic suddenly was exposed as a painful reality.”
“That was because you were naughty last time. Bad girls don’t get to enjoy spankings. Good girls, however, get to have their fantasies fulfilled. From the moment I saw you wearing your floral dress this morning, I have been wanting to haul you in here and use this paddle.”
Bracing her hands on the carpet in his office, Jayne was not able to reach back and stop him when he started slowly inching the hem of her dress up to her waist. “What are you doing back there?” she croaked.
“Unwrapping one of the most exquisite gifts I have ever received. Cotton panties, virginal white, I love it. Am I the first man to see your perfect ass, baby girl?” She nodded, words not coming, as her throat went dry and her panties got wet.
“As adorable as these panties are, they are hiding the true treasure.” His warm fingers hooked the waistband and started sliding then down. The cool air made Jayne flinch, and Paul ran his fingers around the freshly exposed skin.
She should object to this intimacy, Jayne told herself. At the very least, she should protest him touching her on bare skin. No sooner had that notion popped in her head, then Paul withdrew his hand and she mourned the loss of contact. Then his hard hand snapped back, jolting her forward. “Hey!” she fussed.
“That wasn’t so bad, now, was it?” Paul mocked her.
“It wasn’t so good either,” she told him, trying to process the feeling of his large palm landing on her bare ass. It hadn’t hurt as she expected. Of all the fantasies she had while browsing her spanking collecting, this was a lot more in tune with her idea of what it would be like. Unlike the punishment in the storage room, this was a controlled, playful situation. She could almost picture herself as one of the headstrong women from the western movies, ending up over her cowboy’s knee for a quick correction.
In her mind, Cowboy Paul had just tracked her to the water hole where she had wandered off for a quick bath. Strange men had spied her movements in the water, and were circling the area, holding her clothes and demanding she come out to get them. Her cowboy rode up on his white horse, and took on all three men at once. The first was dispatched with a right hook, the second with a left. The third flew backward as Paul round-housed him with a graceful kick to the gut.
The three men, knowing they were outmatched, were crawling way. Paul politely turned his back as she exited the water and hastened to put back on her calico dress. Preparing to kiss him for saving her, Jayne would be alarmed as her cowboy took her hand and dragged her toward a tree stump, located just a few feet away, perfectly cleared of any branches or crawling creatures. Then he would take a seat and yank her over his lap.
In the office, Paul’s hand fell against her again, and a moan escaped Jayne’s lips. He had suspected his little daydreamer would get into this type of role playing. If he ever had any doubts Jayne Anne was his perfect mate, they were eliminated then and there. Picking up the paddle, he got a feel for its weight and prepared to apply it with just enough force for his little lady to notice, but not enough to jar her from her fantasy.
With a well-timed smack of the wood against her backside, a wonderful swishing sound echoed around the room. A faint pink spot marked where it had fallen. “Tell me what you are thinking, Jayne.”
“I just wanted to cool off in the stream, sir, honest. Those men were nowhere around when I got in. I don’t know where they came from. Thank goodness, you showed up, Sheriff. You won’t tell my pa on me, will you?” So, caught up in the fantasy, Jayne started quoting her favorite movie.
Paul grinned, easily placing the lines from one of his own favorite westerns. “I warned you about sneaking off by yourself, missy. There is no telling what could have happened to you if I had not followed your trail.” The paddle started falling at a steady pace. Jayne put up a mock fight, but the way she squeezed her legs together told him she was enjoying herself.
“I won’t tell your Pa, but you need to be taught a lesson, so this does not happen again. I think about twenty strokes should do it? Objections?”
“Just get it over with, Sheriff. I need to get home before Pa notices I am gone.”
Paul chuckled and started applying the paddle, adding a little more force with each stroke. By the last five, he was leaving a red trail in his path, but his little Jayne Anne seemed to raise her hips up to meet his aim.
Flipping her over, he claimed her mouth in a fierce kiss. He longed to lean back and feast on the private treasure between her legs. Her panties still rested near her knees, but Jayne would be too self-conscious for exposure just yet. Still, he could not deny himself the urge to reach down and caress the area.
It was slippery, wet and inviting. At first, she froze at the intrusion, but his kisses helped calm her fright. Then he started stroking slowly, in a circular pattern, finding out all her sensitive wants and needs. The sweet moans escaping her mouth when he released her lips made him wild. Paul longed to lay her on his desk and claim her completely, but it was too soon. His little Jayne Anne deserved better. Just because he could not lose control, did not mean he had to waste this opportunity.
His fingers dipped partially inside her hot channel and eased some of the moisture pooling there. Then he started rubbing his fingers faster and faster across her nub, eyes glued on her face, enjoying the total loss of control as her climax consumed her.
Her body wiggled and jerked in his arms and he savored every movement. Now, that the blood was no longer roaring so loudly in her ears, Jayne realized where she was, what she was doing, and how exposed she was. Her eyes were large as she met Paul’s gaze.
“That was beautiful, young lady. I guess you enjoy your new paddle after all.” His hand raised, and he brought his fingers to his nose to inhale her scent. Then his tongue darted out and tasted his fingers and another wave of pleasure surge through the center of her being. This was either the most blessed thing in the world, or the most evil. At the moment, it did not matter which it was.
The phone rang, and Jayne stiffened. Paul reluctantly let her get off his lap, so she could adjust her clothing. He used the same hand he had just touch her with, down there, to pick up the phone. Oh my goodness, she realized she would never be able to see a land line again without remembering what they just did, in his office, where anyone could have caught them.
“Hello. Erica? What a surprise hearing from you.” Cool water could not have done a better job of washing away the dreamy feeling of ecstasy from Jayne. Her panties got all knotted up as she tried to pull them up in haste.
“No, my receptionist did not get a chance to tell me you came by today. I am sure it was just an innocent omission.” His eyes darted over to Jayne, and she froze with remorse. “It would not have mattered even if she had said something, Erica. I would not have returned your call. We have been through this several times now. It’s best for us to part company. We both want different things in life, and it is pointless to waste time pursuing something which would never work.”
Jayne wanted to pump her fist in victory, but decided such an action would be childish. Silently, she gloated. Then she caught a few more snatches of the phone conversation. “That sounds suspiciously like a threat, Erica. Do you really want to take that route considering I operate a business devoted to eliminating threats? Give it up, honey. You are out of your league.”
After visiting the restroom to clean up, Jayne met Paul by the front door. “Why didn’t you tell me I had a visitor today, Jayne Anne?”
Distract him, but don’t lie, she ordered herself. “It slipped my mind when you pulled out that paddle.”
“I see. I can understand how that might have clouded your judgment. But be warned, if you forget to give me my messages in the future, the next spanking you get in my office won’t be the good girl type.”
He was making her wanton, because instead of being cautious, Jayne blurted out the first thought to cross her mind. “And if I do a good job of delivering all your messages?”
“I have corrupted you, baby girl. Let’s make a deal. Every Friday, we will schedule an after-work meeting in my office, so we can review your job performance. You will get a spanking each time, the type depends on how things went that week.”