“Fine,” Maggie said, turning to walk to the hay bale Quill had pointed out. She kept looking over her shoulder at him, showing him just how little effect this so-called lesson was going to have on her. Yesterday had been one thing, with ma’s safety at stake, but today ma was safe, and Maggie was going to go after Mason whether Quill liked it or not, no matter how thoroughly he tanned her hide.
Fine. To show just how fine it was, Maggie put herself in position over the hay bale, and started to take down her dungarees before Quill could tell her to. The hay felt scratchy on her hand, and even scratchier on the bit of her belly that she had to expose to get the pants down to a point where she was sure Quill wouldn’t tell her to pull them down any further. The whole while she kept looking back at Quill. Though she felt a terrible flutter in that same belly as she watched him take off his gun belt and lay it down on the hay bale where he’d been sitting, and then start to unbuckle the big belt that held his own pants up, she refused to show him that she felt anything but scorn with regard to the whipping that was coming to her.
Maggie had never worn drawers; it was a battle her mother had finally simply given in on. Now she wished for that thin layer of protection. Even if Quill made her open them up to expose her bottom, it would still would have made it less embarrassing than it was to show him her bare backside over the bunched denim, and maybe it would have made the whipping a less painful prospect.
She watched him approach, the doubled belt wrapped around his hand. Maggie felt some of the defiance going out of her, not at the sight of the belt, but at the look on Quill’s face. He didn’t want to whip her, but he clearly thought he was right and she was wrong; he really did want to keep her safe. His face wore an expression of stern strength, mixed with regret that he had to punish Maggie like this.
“I’m gonna whip you now, Maggie,” he said, with a gentleness that took her by surprise. “It’s the only way I can teach you to respect my judgment, I’m thinkin’.” Maggie watched him plant his feet and hold the belt up, looking down at her bottom. Suddenly the embarrassment of having Quill see her bare bottom that way became nearly as strong as the fear of the pain he planned to inflict. Why? She had never cared about any man seeing her naked before—she skinny-dipped all the time, though it scandalized her mother.
She watched the belt come down and heard the slap of it against her flesh. She gritted her teeth, but she didn’t make a sound, even a grunt, though it stung fiercely. Quill looked into her eyes, and she thought she glimpsed surprise on his face, and maybe even the tiniest bit of respect. She returned it with the meanest expression she could muster, pushing away the thought of a moment ago, that maybe Quill had a point.
Now she watched him turn his attention to her backside once again, and bring the belt down harder, clearly trying to test her resolve somehow. The sting made her tense her whole body, and she heard the smallest of noises come from her throat, but it was a defiant little noise, and she didn’t think Quill could even hear it. Quill struck again, and again, and again, harder and harder, not looking at her face, only at her bottom, choosing spots that would render her whole backside a flaming mess of pain.
It hurt terribly, and Maggie felt her bottom-cheeks clenching uncontrollably, trying to ease the agony. Her eyes watered, but she did not cry out. She merely looked at him, forcing her face into the same angry look of resistance.
What did he want? Did he want to make her cry and sob like a little girl? Was he whipping her harder and harder to have the satisfaction of breaking her that way? Somehow Maggie didn’t think that was it. He did want to break her, that was clear; he wanted her to bury her face in her hands atop the hay bale and show him that he had made her weep because she knew that he was in charge of her. But he didn’t want that for his satisfaction: he wanted it for her.
He struck again, hard, right in the middle of her bottom, where she must be covered in welts now. Maggie couldn’t help it; now she grunted in pain. But she didn’t stop looking at him, making him see that he was punishing a girl who didn’t accept that she needed or deserved punishment.
He looked into her eyes. Then he spoke quietly. “Maggie, if you and I were in a gunfight together, and you got shot in the leg, say, do you think you could stay this quiet?”
Maggie forced her upper lip into an attempt at a sneer, to show that he hadn’t come close to breaking her, no matter how bad her bottom hurt. “I reckon,” she said.
“Then pull up your britches, and let’s go say goodbye to your ma.”Buy the book on Amazon! Click here!