Maggie meets her match, p.1

Maggie Meets Her Match, page 1

 

Maggie Meets Her Match
 


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Maggie Meets Her Match


  Maggie Meets Her Match

  By

  Dinah McLeod

  Copyright © 2014 by Stormy Night Publications and Dinah McLeod

  Copyright © 2014 by Stormy Night Publications and Dinah McLeod

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

  Published by Stormy Night Publications and Design, LLC.

  www.StormyNightPublications.com

  McLeod, Dinah

  Maggie Meets Her Match

  Cover Design by Korey Mae Johnson

  Images by The Killion Group and Bigstock/Tetyanka

  This book is intended for adults only. Spanking and other sexual activities represented in this book are fantasies only, intended for adults.

  Prologue

  Texas, 1862

  It was Sunday, the day that Joshua normally came to call. Even as I pushed my palms into the dough, helping Mama knead it for bread, I couldn’t keep my mind from straying. Just the thought of seeing his sweet face made my heart beat faster.

  “Where’s your mind at today, Mag-pie?”

  “I’m sorry, Mama,” I replied, turning my attention back to the ball of dough at my elbow, but not before she caught me looking at the door.

  “I reckon he’ll be here soon enough.”

  I flushed, hearing the smile in her voice. Joshua and I had been courting for the last three months and I secretly thought he would talk of marriage any day now. Though Mama didn’t say anything, I knew she shared my hopes. She’d begun buying new fabric, here and there. A bit of lace, some satin buttons. She didn’t try to hide them, but she didn’t mention them to me, either. We were both waiting, passing time until he spoke to my pa and matters were settled.

  Truth be told, I was a bit worried that Pa might not let me leave the house today. We only ever went for a stroll around the property, talking, but knowing that my pa was vexed with me, I wasn’t sure if he would let me go. It had only been an hour ago that I’d been spanked for leaving without telling anyone where I was going. It was a severe offense where he was concerned and my bottom still stung from the thorough attention he’d paid it.

  “Do you think just because you’re nineteen now and have a caller that you don’t have to follow my rules?” he’d asked as he’d swatted my bare behind.

  “No, Pa,” I’d insisted, whimpering, even though I had thought he might be more lenient with me about to be married and all. I was sadly mistaken, which he proved by warming my tail thoroughly. He hadn’t stopped until I was a ball of wailing tears.

  “You can’t leave without telling someone where you’re going,” he’d scolded. “It might seem awful old-fashioned to you, but it’s my rule and you will abide by it, y’hear?”

  I’d promised I would and he’d sent me out of the room with orders to fix my face and then go to the kitchen to help Mama. Now I wondered if I wasn’t to be punished further by not being allowed to see my beau. Pa hadn’t mentioned it, but it would be just like him to tell me so in front of Joshua.

  I didn’t have long to stew on it, because I soon heard Joshua’s familiar knock on the door. Pa rose to answer it, not giving me so much as a glance. When he opened the door and Joshua walked in, my heart leapt in my chest. He stopped and held out his hand to my father, saying howdy, but his eyes were searching for me.

  When they landed on me, his lips spread into a smile. “Howdy there, Maggie.”

  I stepped forward, brushing my hands on my dress. “Hello, Joshua.” The joy in my voice would be plain to any who heard it, despite the fact that I spoke in a near whisper.

  “I thought I might take Maggie for a walk?” Joshua directed these words at my pa and I held my breath as I waited for him to answer. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his slow nod of agreement and I carefully schooled my features so that my eagerness didn’t show.

  “You’ve got flour all over your dress!” Mama scolded with a sigh. “Go on and change and then you can go with your young man.”

  I beamed a smile at her before practically skipping to my bedroom. I quickly changed my soiled dress for a green muslin that Joshua had once told me was pretty. I got into the new dress lickety-split, but I spent a few minutes examining my reflection in the smudged-looking glass hanging on my wall. My cheeks were flushed with excitement, my eyes sparkling. My hair was in a simple bun for cooking, so I took the pins down and let my tresses fall to my shoulders one by one. Joshua liked my hair down anyway. I’d never thought of myself as a pretty girl, but with my dark brown hair looking soft as silk and my eyes bright with love, I nodded approvingly at the looking glass before making my way back to the parlor.

  He was sitting by Pa when I came in, and when he looked at me, the twinkle in his eyes mirrored my own. “Are you ready?”

  I nodded, glancing back at Mama. Her eyes were disapproving and I waited for her to say something about my loose hair, but she kept her lips firmly sealed. Joshua offered me his arm, which I accepted giddily before telling my parents goodbye.

  When we had walked out of the house and down a ways, Joshua dropped my arm and took my hand instead, locking his fingers with mine before we continued on. The feel of his fingers touching mine sent a thrilling jolt crackling through my body hotter than the swelter of summer. Just being close to him, near his lean yet powerful frame, made me feel safe and protected. And the look in his eyes when he looked at me made me feel…

  My heart pounded loudly in my ears, making me aware of the hot blood pulsing through my veins. When he looked at me with such fire in his eyes, it was easy to forget that he hadn’t yet asked for my hand. Joshua made things like logic and sense fly out of my head until I wasn’t sure what remained. What’s more, I wasn’t certain that I minded.

  I could tell anyone who asked the exact moment I’d fallen for Joshua Accord. It had been years ago, when I was nearing my eleventh birthday. Mama had sent me to school in a brand new dress she’d sewn just for the occasion. When I’d seen it hanging in my room first thing that morning, I’d demanded to know where she’d found the time and she revealed that she’d been waking extra early every morning to get it done in time.

  It was a beautiful red checkered dress with a full skirt and bits of lace sewn around the bottom. I felt like a queen in it and had to resist the urge to preen under the compliments my friends gave me as soon as I arrived. Wesley and Trent had called out their goodbyes and I was walking toward the part of the schoolroom reserved for the bigger kids when I felt someone bump into me.

  I’d spun around, eyes widening as I felt something wet slide down the back of my dress. I’d seen Libby Park standing behind me, her mouth drawn into a perfect, round O. When I saw the ink bottle in her hand, I’d felt a wave of sickness crash against me, almost enough to knock me off my feet.

  “Did you…” The words stuck in my throat, as sour as week-old milk.

  “I am so sorry,” she said, sounding as sincere as she could manage.

  I wasn’t going to have the wool pulled over my eyes. I scowled at her, about to make a scathing retort when Miz Peters, the schoolmarm, poked her head outside the door.

  “Girls! Didn’t you hear me ring the bell?” Without waiting for a response, she swept into the schoolroom and Libby quickly trailed behind.

  I hesitated, wondering how much trouble I’d get myself into if I went back to the house to change clothes. Maybe, just maybe, if I ran quick enough, Mama might be able to do something to save my dress. I was standing there, torn between the thought of walking in either direction when Joshua walked up to me.

  I knew who
he was, of course. Every girl in school did. He gave me a quick, easy smile that made my stomach churn for the second time that day, if for an entirely different reason.

  “Howdy, Maggie. Are you late, like me?”

  Wordlessly, I shook my head. I didn’t think I’d ever exchanged more than six words with Joshua in all the years I’d been coming to school.

  “Well, you comin’ or not? How ‘bout we sit together today?”

  I looked at him with wide, surprised eyes and scanned his face to see if he was somehow pokin’ fun. I saw nothing but warmth in his clear gray eyes and his wide smile. He seemed to smell like sunshine, and when, without waiting for my answer, he took my hand and led me inside the crowded school room, I felt my heart lurch in my chest.

  Young as I was, right then and there I fell for him. As I took a seat beside him, even Libby’s whispered comments on the state of my dress couldn’t steal the smile from my face or the lightness from my heart.

  We didn’t sit together after that, but my eyes were always searching for him, my lips always ready with a smile. As we got older, I’d never strayed from my affection for him, and rarely accepted attention from the boys who were willing to give it. Joshua seemed to be in a world apart from them, anyhow.

  When he finally came courting, I could hardly believe it. Every week leading up to Sunday, I worried that our courtship had all been a dream I’d awoken from. When we walked side by side with my hand tucked in his, all the fear and doubt melted away. It had become our habit to wait until we were a good bit away from the house before we spoke. Joshua had been taking me out for walks ever since he’d first come calling; he said that he enjoyed the fresh air, but I secretly wondered if it wasn’t something more. I liked to think that he wanted me all to himself, away from the prying eyes of my parents and their old-fashioned ideas.

  If they had their way, I was sure we would talk from opposite sides of the parlor, never talking about anything of importance. Not that we did anything improper on our strolls around the farm. It was true that he took my breath away every time he smiled at me in his quick, rakish way that was all his own. Seeing his luminous gray eyes looking at me made my body rush with warmth in a way that was both pleasant and startling. He’d put his arm around me more than once and kissed in a way that left me breathless from the very first moment his lips pressed against mine.

  I was sure Pa wouldn’t approve, no matter how chaste the kisses were. No, I knew he wouldn’t like it at all, and although I fretted over the consequences if we were caught kissing so openly, part of me thrilled at the excitement. Though we rarely touched other than to hold hands, when I looked into his sweet, lively face I saw the yearning for more.

  There was no denying that my body stirred at his touch. I desired him to claim me as his own—what woman with eyes in her head would be able to resist him? With his straight black hair, his fine, handsome features and snapping gray eyes, any woman would desire him. Not a single day passed that I didn’t thank God in heaven that he was courting me. I felt like every moment I spent out of his company I was holding my breath, only free to exhale when I heard his knock on the door.

  “You’re mighty pretty today, sweetheart.”

  My face warmed at the compliment and I averted my eyes. Was this what it was like to be in love? Did every woman feel so embarrassed to be paid a compliment? Of course, other women weren’t being called upon by Joshua, whose flattery left me tongue-tied.

  Feeling hopelessly smitten, I tried to turn away, but Joshua’s hand tightened on my arm, keeping me firmly in place. I tilted my head to look up at him—he was tall, even taller than my pa—wondering what he possibly saw when he looked at me.

  “This is when you say ‘thank you,’ if I’m not mistaken,” he chided gently. “Manners are very important, darlin’.”

  “Thank you,” I stammered.

  “No, don’t look away. Nothing gives me more pleasure than those beautiful blue eyes of yours.”

  Joshua was the first man to ever pay me a compliment and I found myself hungering for more of them, vain as it might be. ‘Course, my pa didn’t cotton to needless flattery, and might be that he would have found it inappropriate coming from any man who didn’t have noble intentions. Not that anyone but Joshua would think of my eyes at all.

  What was more, the way he met my eyes with his own, staring into them tenderly as he brushed a fallen strand of brown hair from my cheek, made me believe he meant what he said.

  “Thank you,” I said, my voice stronger this time around. The words had barely left my lips before he leaned forward and met them with his own. The kiss was quick, but long enough to send shivers of excitement all along my spine. “Don’t,” I protested feebly.

  “Don’t?” he echoed softly. “What are you sayin’? Can’t I kiss you, Miz Swift?”

  “It’s improper,” I protested with a giggle. “Whatever would my pa say?”

  “He’d probably say we should marry,” he replied with another rakish grin. “And why not?”

  My heart began to flutter and before long it was beating wildly in my chest. Was this the moment I’d been hoping and praying for? Was he asking me? “Why not?” I repeated, holding my breath once more as I waited for him to speak. I found I was keenly disappointed when he let the matter drop entirely. Instead, he took my hand and led me along the dirt road, staring off at the apple trees that were in fruit.

  Joshua led us over to one and we took shade under the large branches. He spread his coat on the grass for me, but even with that extra buffer, I found myself wincing as my rear made contact with the ground. I hoped it had gone unnoticed, but Joshua didn’t seem to miss much, especially where I was concerned.

  “You feelin’ alright?”

  “I’m fine,” I replied, practically choking on the words.

  “Maggie,” he guffawed. “Sounds like a thumper if I ever heard one.”

  I couldn’t meet his eyes or protest the accusation, though I hadn’t meant to lie. It was just that the idea of telling him the truth made me squirm uncomfortably. His eyes were fastened to me intently and I knew I’d have to acknowledge the truth no matter how much I disliked it.

  “You really shouldn’t concern yourself,” I said feebly. “My pa just spanked me is all.”

  His eyebrows pinched together as he frowned. “Why would he go and do a thing like that?”

  I avoided his eyes, but answered truthfully. “I took my horse out without telling him or Mama where I was going.”

  “I see.” His tone said it all. It was a conversation I’d had many times with my father, each of them ending the same way—with me bare-bottomed over his knee, waiting for the pain of his punishing hand. What’s more, Joshua knew all the details, so he understood more than most what it would cost me. “I would think you’d have learned that lesson well by now, Maggie. Perhaps your pa doesn’t strike hard enough.”

  I gasped at his words, even though his smile told me that he was joshing. I protested even louder when he reached over and pinched my bottom cheek. “Joshua!” I squealed.

  His eyes were laughing at me. “Not to worry, Maggie. I can see now that your father did a fine job. I just gave you a pinch, and anyway, soon we will wed.”

  I nearly swooned at his words and the self-assured way he said them. “Truly?” I whispered, my heart pounding in my ears.

  “Truly,” he echoed, and in that one moment I thought my heart would burst. I could hardly believe that a man so fine would want me for a wife. He scooted closer to me and looked at me in a way that was so intense that I felt my earlier blush deepening.

  “I’m very stubborn,” I announced, as though he didn’t know this himself. “Pa says I’m more strong-willed than any woman should be, and—”

  “Maggie, stop.”

  “But you don’t understand, I—”

  “I know all I need to know about you, Maggie Swift, and I don’t want to wait long to make you mine.”

  I would have protested further, but Joshua put a f
inger to my lips and the shock, if nothing else, silenced me.

  “I will go speak to your pa soon.”

  I nodded, struggling not to cry. I did not succeed as well as I meant to and one tear leaked out, trailing down my cheek.

  With a low chuckle, Joshua dropped his finger from my lips and reached over to wipe the tear from my cheek. “Don’t cry, darlin’.”

  “Happy tears,” I assured him, delighting in his tender attentions.

  “All well and good then.” He raised a hand to cup my cheek and touched me with such gentle fingers that I shivered. “Don’t fret, beloved. Of course it’s you I want. You’re so sweet and pretty, Maggie. Why, the only thing softer than your skin is the morning rain.”

  I flushed with pleasure. It was a compliment I’d heard often from his lips, but each time it felt like the first.

  “You blush prettily too,” he chuckled, circling his thumb over my chin.

  All too soon, from my point of view, he dropped his hand and I felt the loss of his touch keenly. I wished I was bold enough to reach out and touch him—to rest my head on his strong shoulder, or brush a hand over his rock-hard thigh, or loop an arm around his waist. I wondered if I’d ever be able to do those things without my cheeks turning hot.

  “Whatcha thinkin’?”

  “Nothing,” I answered, too quickly.

  Joshua tsked his tongue and trapped my eyes with his. “That doesn’t sound like the truth to me.”

  I tried to look at the grass behind him or the tree a bit further down—anything but those eyes that teased and scolded at the same time. No matter how hard I tried, though, I couldn’t seem to look away. “It’s nothing a lady should discuss,” I said at last, my voice lower than the softest whisper.

  Joshua threw back his head and laughed.

  If there was anything I loved as much as his touch, it was the sound of his laughter. I couldn’t ever help but smile too whenever he did. His laughter was deep and rich and his whole body shook with it. It was so contagious I didn’t even mind being the source of it.

 
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