Authors: Sue Lyndon
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A Firm Husband
Shana glanced at the sun as it kissed the
A knot formed in her
stomach when the tall solar lanterns on the street flickered to life.
She took off running.
She should’ve had dinner on the table
already, but she’d gotten sidetracked at the library.
Mary Miller, the oldest citizen in the
settlement, had been telling stories to the children about the Old Days.
Despite the fact she’d been on an errand
to pick up a book for her uncle, Shana had sat down on the floor with all the
bright-eyed boys and girls and absorbed every word that fell from the old lady’s
Mary’s mother had been
around before The Fall – before the deadly combination of a terrible
plague, a great war, and severe solar flares across North America that
destroyed a grand way of living.
The little old lady had rattled on and on about electricity, cell
cars, shopping malls, computers, and something
called a dishwasher.
Of course, now
Shana was late and Uncle Daman would be displeased.
She clutched the battered copy of
to her chest and turned down the
dirt street that led to his house.
After her parents died when a sickness swept through their nearby
settlement when she was fifteen, Shana had come to Jackson Settlement to live
with her only remaining relative.
It had been weird at first – sharing a house with the man who’d
briefly been married to her mother’s sister.
After all, he was only ten years her
senior and they weren’t related by blood.
Daman had never taken a second wife, which Shana found strange.
He wasn’t hard on the eyes, and women
practically flung themselves in his direction – until they realized he
wasn’t interested and moved on to their next male target.
As Shana crept up the creaky porch steps,
she said a silent prayer that her uncle wouldn’t be out of sorts over her
Perhaps he was busy in
his workshop and not yet aware of how much time had passed since he’d sent her
to fetch the book.
A shiver ran
down her spine and warmth pulsed between her legs.
The same apprehension, coupled with a
physical arousal she’d rather not admit to, overcame her each time she worried
about Daman’s reaction to her waywardness.
He had instructed her to return home immediately after fetching the
book, but she hadn’t obeyed him – for reasons that now seemed foolish.
Who was she kidding?
Once she opened the door, she would be
in for it.
Uncle Daman would summon her to his
study and blister her poor bottom with that awful paddle of his.
Her hand hovered over the doorknob as
she thought of all the times he’d punished her.
The first instance had been not long
after she’d turned eighteen.
always been on her best behavior before then, and he hadn’t laid a hand on her during
the first four years she’d spent under his roof.
Sure, he’d threatened her with a
spanking plenty of times, but she’d been too terrified to find out if he was
serious that she never disobeyed his totalitarian rules until she’d come of
In the Old Days, a person was
an adult once they turned eighteen.
She’d assumed Daman wouldn’t possibly bend her over his desk once she
was that old.
But she’d assumed
Taking a deep breath, Shana entered the
Her stomach flipped when the
wonderful aroma of vegetable stew greeted her.
Not only was Daman aware of her
he’d gone ahead and started dinner.
Guilt and fear mingled in her chest, and
her legs felt heavy as she made the dreaded walk to the kitchen.
Just before she rounded the corner to
the doorway, she straightened her dress and smoothed her hands through her long
“I can hear you, Shana.
Stop lingering in the hallway and come
His clipped tone
drove a knife through her heart.
She hated herself at moments like this.
Daman was a good man and kept a roof
over her head in one of the safest settlements around.
She was ashamed to have broken his
rules, yet again.
She entered the kitchen and almost turned
to run away.
His face was like a
thundercloud, his thick arms crossed over his broad chest.
“Come here,” he growled.
She approached on shaky legs and held the
book out like a peace offering, thinking of Winston and his terrible fear of
What was her greatest
There were a thousand things worse than
Puzzled by this sudden
thought, she watched Daman place the book on the counter, never once taking his
eyes off her.
The silence stretched
between them as she stood submissively in front of him, her head lowered and feeling
quite humbled – and he hadn’t even punished her yet.
Daman closed the space between them and
lifted her chin with one finger.
stared up into those forbidding dark eyes, her insides melting and fluttering
at the same time.
“Explain to me, Shana, why it took two
hours to fetch a book from the library.
What was important enough to keep you from your duties here?”
Briefly, she told him about how she’d
stopped to hear Mary Miller’s stories about the Old Days, stories she’d heard
plenty of times before, though he didn’t need to know that.
“I didn’t mean to stay so long, but
before I knew it the sun was setting.
I feel terrible.”
“Not as terrible as you’ll feel after I
take my belt to you, young lady.”
Shana swallowed hard as her heart
hammered in chest.
Before she could
reply, he spun her around and applied one heavy whack to her bottom.
“Go sit down,” he barked.
Dinner was a silent, painful affair.
Shana ate slowly and was so preoccupied by
the conflicting feelings Daman stirred within her that the stew seemed
Her nipples stiffened
and she fought the urge to touch them to ease the growing ache.
She stole a glance at her uncle.
It didn’t take a genius to figure out
why women ogled him every time he walked down the street.
He was gorgeous – for a man.
His hair and eyes were as dark as the
night, and she often wished she could trail her fingers along his strong square
jaw, especially in the evening when he sported a rugged shadow.
He was one of the tallest men she’d ever
met, and if she were to kiss him, she’d be forced to stand on her toes.
What a thought.
Daman dabbed his face with a napkin and
pushed back from the table.
up the kitchen, Shana, and then get ready for bed.
I expect to find you in your room,