Authors: Maggie Ryan
Hunter’s Ridge, Book 3
©2015 by Blushing Books® and Maggie Ryan
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"Kitten, I have something for you," Lord Lucas Huntington said, as he pulled her onto his lap and dropped a kiss onto her forehead.
"What is it, Papa?" Lucy asked, her eyes meeting his, her heart beating a bit faster as possibilities ran through her mind. Her husband often gave her gifts; some that she found wonderful, such as Cleo, the white kitten he'd given her before they married, or the gift of Delilah, her horse. Thoughts of other gifts had her squirming a bit on his lap as she wondered if the 'something' would be a new item her Papa would soon be applying to her bare bum.
Instead of giving her an answer, Lucas pulled the white envelope from his pocket. He smiled as he placed it in her hand. "I believe you'll find it to be the news you've been waiting for," he said and grinned, patting her plump bottom, "a bit impatiently, I might add."
Lucy felt her face heat. Impatiently was one way of putting it—naughtiness was another. The lack of news had been what had caused her to be bent over the arm of her Papa's chair, her skirts buttoned at her shoulders, her drawers at her ankles as her Papa applied crisp smacks of a paddle to her bottom to remind her that whining and pouting were not acceptable ways of behavior. Pushing that thought away, she ran her finger across the familiar handwriting.
"It's from Louisa," she said, her smile lighting her face.
"Open it, Kitten."
She did so, and her unbridled squeal of delight told of her pleasure as she threw her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek. "They are coming! Louisa and Uncle Edward are going to be here soon and, Papa, they are going to stay for a whole month!" Though they often exchanged letters, actually being able to sit and talk, to giggle and share their stories, would be a wonderful way to begin the holiday season. She couldn't wait for her twin to meet her sisters and Emmie Northbridge; another child/bride who had become a dear friend.
"I wish they were already here," Lucy said, leaning against her Papa's chest. "It's so hard to wait. They should have left the day Louisa's letter was mailed… then they might be here already."
He chuckled as he cupped her face between his palms. "Little one, let's be grateful that your Uncle Edward has obviously arranged to take the time away from his business endeavors. They will come for the holidays and, if you are my good little one, I shall invite Lord Northbridge and Emmie to come and stay for a bit while they are here." He bent to press his forehead to hers when she appeared about to protest. "It would be a shame if you spent the next few weeks with a hot little bottom, Lucille."
Experience had taught her that her Papa wouldn't hesitate to warm her backside if she continued to pout. Remembering her Nanny Molly extolling for the hundredth time that patience was a virtue, Lucy wisely decided to accept the fact that it would be a few more weeks before she and Louisa could have their reunion. Nodding, she gave Lucas a smile. "Yes, Papa, I'll be good. I'm just so excited. Seeing Louisa will be the best present ever."
He smiled back as he bent to kiss her cheek. "I am glad to see you so happy. Just remember, Kitten, you are the only present I shall ever need."
Louisa shifted on her stool. She ignored the ache caused in her rear by pressing her nose tightly against the wall, knowing her bottom would soon be aching far more deeply. Stiffening, she strained to listen, certain she had heard footsteps approaching the door. After several moments of hearing nothing more than the noises of an old house settling, she sighed. Though she couldn't say she was looking forward to seeing her Papa, she wished the upcoming ordeal was already completed. She shifted again, her arms beginning to ache from being held behind her back, her hands cupping her elbows as she settled in to wait.
"I honestly can't fathom why Louisa chose to be so naughty," Mrs. Bremmer said as her employer, Lord Edward Wintercrest, listened. They sat in his study; a room that was not only a place to work, but one where the small lady of the manor was often heard crying out her apologies as her husband and Papa applied discipline to her bottom.
"Perhaps it would be best if I accompanied you, Sir." From her place on the settee, the Nanny lifted her hands and shook her head slightly before continuing. "It is very generous of you to offer me such a lengthy holiday but I'm concerned that you might need my assistance."
"I'll always need your assistance, Anna, but you have earned a holiday, and I know your family is most anxious for your visit. I assure you that Louisa and I will be fine. Besides, after her punishment is complete, I'm betting she'll be less likely to test my resolve."
"I suppose," Anna agreed, smoothing down her apron. "She has been such a very good girl lately that I'm truly surprised she pulled such a stunt. If I didn't know better, I'd think it was Lucille upstairs. You know how she was constantly testing the rules as if not believing her rear would be made to pay a proper price. I swear, I can't even remember the last time our Louisa behaved so badly."
Edward chuckled. "Well, we both know that Lucy is with Lucas at Hunter's Ridge, so at least this time, all the blame is on but one person. We leave for Hunter's Ridge on Monday. You know how excited little ones can be; perhaps her mind is focused more on seeing Lucy again than on obeying the rules. Don't worry yourself, I'm sure Louisa will be back to her angelic little self soon enough."
"I have every faith in you, Sir." Checking the watch fob pinned to the bodice of her black dress, Anna nodded. "Louisa has spent twenty minutes on her stool; I'm quite positive you'll see a change in attitude—one for the better, I should hope."
"Thank you, Anna," Edward said as he stood. "I do believe that making her wait for her lesson is a great lesson in itself. Once her tantrum was done, giving her time to reflect on what her choices are going to cost her is highly effective. Shall we go tend to our very naughty little Lady Wintercrest?"
Anna also stood, her mouth set in a thin line, and patted her apron pocket. "Yes, Lord Wintercrest. I haven't had to apply the tawse to her backside in quite some time—perhaps that is a contributing factor to today's problem."
"Perhaps," Edward agreed, following the older woman from the study and up the stairs.
They climbed to the third floor and walked down the hall, towards the door that opened to his little one's nursery. Anna removed a key and opened it; two sets of eyes immediately going to the left hand corner of the room to see a small, naked woman sitting on her stool, the pale upper half of her bottom visible from her position.
Louisa had held her breath thinking she heard footsteps and, upon hearing the key in the door, understood it was time. Her stomach fluttered and the skin on her bottom began to crawl, memories of past discipline only now reminding her that it truly didn't pay to be so naughty. She heard the door close but did not move a single muscle. Perhaps if her Papa saw that she was spending her corner time properly reflecting upon her transgressions, his hand against her bottom would not be too difficult to bear. Closing her eyes, she said a quick prayer that his palm would be all she'd feel; even as her conscience told her she was a fool.
"Come here, young lady."
Just those four words, that simple instruction, had her thinking she'd be lucky if he didn't pluck a cane from the urn by the armoire and have her dancing to its wicked tune within a few strokes. Standing, she kept her eyes lowered and her hands behind her back as she turned and walked across the room. Her bare feet didn't make a sound on the smooth wooden planks of the floor, or on the thick area rug where she came to a stop a foot away from the black boots her Papa wore.
Edward stepped forward and lifted her chin, forcing her eyes to his. "I can't even imagine what possessed you to attempt such a thing, little lady. Did you really expect no one to notice?"
"I didn't… didn't really think," Louisa admitted, her eyes moving to where a huge carpet bag sat on the floor by the rocking chair. It was open; several stuffies spilling from it.
She'd had the brilliant idea that removing the nappies inside and exchanging them for stuffed animals would not only go undetected, but that they'd be difficult to replace on their trip. Since the shelves under her table contained plenty of nappies, she had never expected her Nanny to open the bag once it had been packed and set beside the trunk that contained Louisa's packed clothing.
After Louisa had been awakened from her nap and changed, Anna had gathered ointment and powder and moved to put them into the traveling bag that Lord Wintercrest would keep inside their carriage. Louisa had wanted to jump off the table and run to the bag but had remained frozen. When Anna discovered that she had not simply put one or two of her stuffies in the bag as she had been told she could, but had also removed every single nappy, short night shirt, the wooden box containing a glass thermometer, and her dummy, Anna had asked the girl what she'd been thinking. Instead of confessing, Louisa had stubbornly refused to admit she had done such a thing, stating that her Papa had decided it would be unnecessary for her to nap or wear nappies during their trip.
Anna's look of disbelief had had the girl squirming from where she was seated. "Are you lying to me, young lady?"
"No, and why should you even care?" Louisa had shouted. "You're going on your own holiday. Since you won't be coming with us, Papa doesn't wish to bother with such things."
"Your Papa enjoys tending to you. I find that very hard to believe, little one, I think…"
"Are you calling my Papa a liar? I'm sure he would be most disappointed that a servant chooses to question his decisions. Besides, I'm an adult woman and don't want to be treated like an infant during our travels. We aren't traveling by train, where Papa might have assistance. Do you really believe he wishes to change and wash nappies?" Seeing the incredulous look on her Nanny's face, Louisa had taken it one step further. "If you don't believe me, just ask him."
Even she couldn't believe those words had come out of her mouth. She'd watched as her Nanny shook her head and returned the cream and powder to her table. Louisa barely managed to contain her huge sigh of relief. She didn't fuss as she was helped from the table and led to her play table.
"You may play for a bit but are to remain in your nursery," Anna had said.