Sam was waiting outside the restaurant when the cab pulled up. Opening her door he flipped the driver a twenty before she could even get her purse opened. Taking her hand, he assisted her from the cab, right into his arms. With one arm around her waist, Jo was flush against him as he lifted her still captured hand and softly kissed the back.
“I know, I’m sorry,” she mumbled, her eyes staring up into his.
“It’s alright, this time,” Sam replied, turning her toward the restaurant’s entrance. Just before she walked through the door ahead of him, his large hand smacked her quickly on the butt. “Don’t let it happen again,” he warned her, his voice deep and quiet.
Jo froze about two feet inside the door. “Did you just slap my ass?” she questioned him as a flush spread over her cheeks. Her accusing indigo eyes were wide as she looked over her shoulder.
Sam simply wrapped an arm around her waist and propelled her farther into the interior, signaling the hostess, who escorted them to a private table in the corner. “Shhh,” Sam said quietly. “We’ll talk in a moment.”
Jo let him seat her against her better judgment. Her bottom felt just the tiniest sting under her thin skirt and skimpy panties. Studying him as he thanked the hostess and settled in his chair, she again was struck by his confidence and stature. The waiter appeared before Jo could speak.
“Would you like a cocktail before dinner?” Sam asked smoothly, his eyes smiling at her impatience.
“No,” Jo answered crisply, her fingernails drumming softly on the table.
“I’ll have a Beam on the rocks, and bring the lady a glass of white wine,” Sam told the waiter, ignoring Jo’s attitude. As the waiter turned away, Sam reached across the table, taking Jo’s hand in his and putting a stop to her restless fingers. “You look lovely tonight,” he said sincerely. “Thank you for agreeing to have dinner with me.”
Jo swallowed as she looked into his reassuring gaze. Her hand tingled where his thumb stroked the back. She tried to pull it away from him, but he wouldn’t allow it, settling his other hand over the top of hers, trapping it between his large hands.
“I’m not sure I’m staying for dinner,” she informed him. “Not unless you answer my question.”
The waiter returned with their drinks, and Jo used that to extract her warm hand and wrap it around the wine glass, taking a gulp of the drink she had not wanted. Sam said they would be ready to order in a few minutes and sat back in his chair as soon as they were alone. He knew exactly what question Jo was referring to. Her lovely face was flushed, her hands trembling slightly as she held her glass. Her indigo eyes were troubled and she chewed softly on her bottom lip. He was delighted. Most women would have laughed it off, a little slap and tickle, an inane sexual prelude to possible activities later in the evening. Jo knew exactly what it was, a reprimand for her tardiness. Her reaction to that small spank would tell him many things. It would determine just how much he shared with her about his business and how quickly. By the end of the evening, he would know if the feelings she inspired were a fluke and he should move on, or if she might be the one he had been searching a lifetime for. Taking a sip of his drink, he looked directly into her eyes as he spoke, and it was not an apology.
“The answer to your question, Jo, is yes. I did smack your ass. You were late.”
“I apologized for that,” Jo insisted indignantly.
“Yes, and I accepted, but you need to know there are consequences in life, Jo. There will always be consequences with me for tardiness or other unacceptable behavior.”
To say Jo was flabbergasted would be an understatement. After she collapsed back against her chair, her mouth dropped open and then snapped shut. For several moments she digested his words as Sam calmly waited for her response.
“Don’t you think that attitude is a little outdated, even old-fashioned maybe?” she asked when she finally found her voice.
“Absolutely,” he agreed, without an ounce of uncertainty. “I’m sure the feminists of this world would like nothing better than to string me up as a bad example.”
“Then why would you…?”
The waiter appeared to take their order, and for the next several minutes, Sam discussed with her what choices she would like. After they decided, the waiter disappeared and the conversation continued. Jo found herself listening intently, intrigued. No matter how off base Sam appeared to be, she had to respect his confidence and determination.
“I know who I am, Jo. And I know what kind of woman I’m looking for. I have no doubt that when I find her I will make her very happy.”
Jo snorted. “What woman would be happy to be controlled 24/7? I can’t think of anyone I know who would want to be under some man’s thumb, with consequences for what he would consider misbehavior.”
“You’re wrong, Jo,” Sam said, pausing while their salads were served, and grinning when Jo ordered another glass of wine. “What you’re referring to would be the absolute other end of the spectrum. That would be a master/slave relationship where every aspect of the woman’s life would be controlled and monitored. I have no desire for that type of relationship. I’m talking about something entirely different.”
Jo speared a cherry tomato and considered. “How would it be different, in what way? You obviously want to be the one in charge, handing out smacks for infractions. Maybe that would progress to actual beatings over time?”
Sam’s eyes narrowed, pinning her in place. “That would never happen, Jo. I protect and cherish what is mine,” he growled.
“Sorry,” she told him softly, a quiver of fear trembling in her tummy. “I’m just trying to understand your position.”
“I know it’s difficult to comprehend if you have no previous experience with it. Think of it as a loving and benevolent father, putting his daughter’s well-being above all else. Cherishing and protecting her, guiding her and yes, providing discipline when it is needed.”
`”I’m afraid that would be a stretch for me, Sam,” Jo informed him with a bitter twist to her lips. “My father was nothing like that. The only thing he cared about was having a good time with an endless parade of women. He finally deserted us when I was thirteen, and while he never physically abused me or my mother, he made it perfectly clear that we were an impediment to the life he wanted. Cherishing, protecting and guiding, well that was not something he had time for,” she finished, unaware of just how much she had revealed.
“What money he did make was for his personal enjoyment.”
“Jo, I’m so sorry,” Sam whispered, reaching across the table and firmly taking her hand.
Jo laughed, not aware of how hollow it sounded. “Don’t feel sorry for me, Sam. My mother and I did all right. Student loans and part time jobs put me through college, and I manage to take care of any of my mother’s expenses that she can’t afford.”
“It must have been difficult for you, taking on so much responsibility at such a young age. I take it your mother isn’t in good health?”
“No, she’s not,” Jo answered, finishing her wine and looking around for the waiter.
Their dinner arrived and they continued to talk while they ate. Sam was charming, and Jo found herself relaxing and enjoying herself, despite the somewhat rocky start to their evening. Jo tried to get more information out of him about his business, but Sam just smiled and told her, “Soon.” Now what the hell did that mean?
When their waiter came to clear away their plates, Jo asked for another glass of wine. Sam looked at her in surprise and instructed the waiter to bring them coffee.
“Don’t you have to work tomorrow?” Sam asked, choosing to ignore, for the moment, Jo’s mutinous expression as she picked up her purse and pulled out her wallet.
“Yes, so?” she asked, pulling out a twenty dollar bill. “I can buy my own wine, Sam, if it’s a problem.”
“Buying you a glass of wine isn’t a problem, Jo. The problem would be in sending you home drunk, and you’ve already had three glasses. Now put your money away and stop trying to push my buttons. Believe me, you won’t like the results.”
“Push your buttons?” Jo gasped, the slight buzz she had making her voice louder than she intended.
“Yes,” Sam insisted firmly just as the waiter appeared with the coffee. Sam thanked him and slid Jo’s coffee closer to her. “Now be a good girl and drink that. Do you think I don’t know what you’re doing? You’re curious Jo. Wondering about that spank I gave you earlier? Wondering if I truly mean everything I’ve told you tonight? You’re thinking only a crazy woman would agree to the kind of dynamics I’ve described. After all, what woman would want a man so totally devoted to her that he paid attention to every little detail of her life? What woman would want a man who knew her so well that nothing slipped by him? If she was upset or angry or hurt, he would know it and do everything humanly possible to help her.
“A man who would care for her as if she were the most precious thing in his world, because she is.”
Jo squirmed in her seat. It was clear he meant exactly what he said. Butterflies danced in her tummy as her heartbeat thumped at her temples. Her panties were damp and it appalled her. God, yes, she thought him attractive, but now doubly so. She couldn’t imagine someone taking care of her for a change, and it was a heady thought and oh so tempting. She actually couldn’t remember the last time someone had asked her what they could do for her. Had there ever been someone to hold her when she cried, or to reassure her when she was worried or weary? Her hands trembled as she picked up the coffee cup and obeyed him. Jo knew she’d had too much to drink, but hadn’t been able to stop herself from ordering another one. This evening was nothing like she had expected, and she was truly rattled. After several sips of the strong brew, she pulled herself together.
“That’s quite a lovely picture you paint, Sam, especially for someone like me. But you already knew that, didn’t you? I don’t know how, but you did,” Jo told him, tipping her head to one side and looking quizzically at him. “The problem at the heart of such a relationship would be the loss of control, for me at least. I don’t think I could just throw myself into your arms and say, here I am, take care of me.”
“You’d be surprised at what a freeing experience that can be, Jo,” Sam said, looking into her deep blue eyes and trying not to notice how much darker the circles under them looked in only a short time. “Yes, it would involve giving up some control. I would expect a woman of mine to listen to me and trust that I always have her best interests at heart, especially when it comes to her health and safety. But as I said before, I’m not looking for a slave. There are two kinds of people in this world, Jo, the givers and the takers. The best relationships are formed when you have two givers, both parties working together to build the best union possible.”
“And you would be the giver of spankings?” she asked, leaning back in her chair and forcing her eyes to meet his squarely, despite her shaking hands.
“Yes,” Sam replied firmly. “Among other things, I would administer any discipline if it was called for.
“Suppose, just for curiosity’s sake, you were to do something I didn’t like. Would I be able to ah…discipline you?” Jo asked, pretty sure she already knew the answer to that one.
Sam laughed. “I’m flexible sweetheart, but not that flexible. Are you ready to go?”
“Yes,” Jo sighed, looking at her watch. “I need to call a cab.”
“I’ll take you home,” Sam replied, signaling for the check.
Jo thought about arguing the point, but she just didn’t have it in her. Between the wine and the mind-boggling conversation, she was a little off kilter.
Sam paid the bill, left a generous tip for the waiter and helped Jo into her coat. His vehicle was parked only a few feet from the restaurant’s entrance, and within minutes, he had her safely in the passenger seat and buckled up.
Jo gave him her address, and he quickly entered it into his GPS before pulling away from the curb. Sinking onto the comfortable leather seats, Jo was quiet. It was raining lightly and the swish of the wipers made her slightly dizzy. Finally after a few minutes she laid her head back and closed her eyes.
“Sam?” she whispered.
“Why did you tell me all this tonight, on our first date? There was always the possibility that I would just walk out.”
“I’m not exactly sure how to answer that question, Jo, or even if I can. There’s just something about you that calls to me. I felt it the moment I looked at you in that café,” he told her, reaching over and gently taking her hand in his. “Something just sort of clicked, and I knew you were meant to be mine. I can’t explain it any better than that.”
Jo squeezed his hand and kept silent. She liked this man, Sam Barringer. She wasn’t sure she agreed with his philosophy, but his motives were flattering. Physically, he was eye candy. He was also incredible focused and determined. Jo wondered if she was up to the challenge he presented.
“When are you going to tell me about your business?” Jo asked quietly.
“We’ll talk about it on Saturday.”
“What’s Saturday?” Jo asked baffled.
“Our second date,” Sam replied.
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from A Sweet and Sassy Match. The boxed set is available on Blushing Books, Amazon and Barnes & Nobel at a 50% savings off the cost of the individual books.
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