Hope stiffened and pushed away from him, getting up from his lap and putting several feet of distance between them. “You’re rich, Ace. You own Tyler Oil with your brothers. You could work with them.”
Raising a brow at the whine in her tone, he rose and started out of the room. “If I had to work there, I’d go out of my mind.”
Following him down the hall to the kitchen, she tugged at his forearm. “Then don’t work at all! You don’t need to.”
Keeping a tight rein on his temper, he shrugged her off and reached into the refrigerator for the pitcher of sweet tea. “Not working at all would make me even crazier.”
“I can’t stand it anymore, Ace! I want you to quit.”
After filling her glass and his, he set the pitcher on the table and slowly turned to her, raising a brow. “Excuse me? Quit what, exactly?”
Hope swallowed heavily and set the plate of fried chicken on the table, taking a deep breath before lifting her chin. “I want you to quit your job as sheriff.”
“No.” He went to the refrigerator, retrieved the coleslaw, and took it to the table before looking at her again.
Hope spun, slamming the bowl of mashed potatoes on the table. “No? Just like that?”
Ace inclined his head, keeping his tone calm and controlled. “No. Just like that.”
“You won’t even discuss it?”
“We just did. You knew what I did when you married me, Hope.”
“You never got shot at before!”
He waited until she dropped into her seat before lowering himself to his. “You’re so naïve, baby. Of course I’ve been shot at before. I’ve even been shot before. It’s part of the job.”
Hope’s eyes went wide. “Well, I never knew about it, and I’m not naïve. I thought the most dangerous thing you ever did was breaking up bar fights. You handle the Dominants from the club, give out tickets, and help round up horses that have escaped.”
After setting a piece of chicken on her plate, he set one on his. “Did you ever ask about my job?”
Lowering her gaze, she shifted restless in her seat, her face flushing. “Well, no.”
“Of course not. You were more interested in making sure that I accepted you as a submissive than learning more about me. I knew you were too young, but your innocence intrigued me, and I found you too irresistible.”
Raising a brow when she gasped, he let his gaze linger on her flushed cheeks before continuing. “You were raised by a mother and three very overprotective fathers who tried to shield you and your sister from the ugly side of life.”
“Like you do?”
Ace shrugged. “It’s only natural for a man to try to protect his woman, but I’ve never lied to you. I knew who you were when I married you. I knew that you were exactly what I wanted. I love you, but I won’t quit my job, not even for you.”
Jumping to her feet, Hope stamped her foot. “Damn it, Ace!”
Ace had had enough. Pausing in the process of scooping mashed potatoes onto his plate, he clenched his jaw. “Stamp your foot at me again, and I’ll put you across my knee.”
Her eyes flared with desire, the passions inside her too strong to contain. “That’s your answer? Sex?”
Confident in his ability to handle his wife’s passions—including her temper—Ace raised a brow. “Who said anything about sex? You’re acting like a brat and obviously need to be spanked.”
Hope gasped, her eyes going wide. “A brat?”
Ace reached for the coleslaw. “A brat. You’re demanding that I quit a job I’ve had most of my adult life—a job that I love. A job that I had when you married me.”
Hope sighed. “I worry.”
Ace inclined his head. “I know that, and I do everything I can to make things easier for you.”
“Sometimes it’s not enough.”
Knowing this was an issue that couldn’t be resolved, Ace dug into his dinner. “People die in car accidents every day. Do you want me to stop driving, too? You drive like a maniac just to get my attention—an unnecessary danger that scares me but that you do on a whim.”
Hope’s face flushed again. “I won’t do it again.”
Ace nodded once, pleased that he’d made his point. “Good.”
She dropped into her seat again with a sigh. “I don’t know if I can live this way anymore.”
Fear turned his stomach to ice, and setting his silverware aside, he kept his tone low and cold. “Is that an ultimatum?”
Losing her wasn’t an option, but he couldn’t allow his wife to deliver ultimatums and expect to get away with it.
Lifting her chin, she met his gaze squarely, her bottom lip trembling. “What if it is?”
“You know that I don’t respond well to ultimatums.”
With her chin still lifted, Hope wrapped her arms around herself, the combination of defiance and defensiveness a testament to the contrary woman herself. “What if I said that I would leave you if you don’t quit?”
Sitting back, he smiled coldly. “Then I would give you the spanking you so richly deserve and tell you that you’re not going anywhere. Are you sure this is the tack you wanna take?”
“I need to come.”
“Already? You must be joking. What the hell have you done to deserve to come?”
The sharp sting of the leather-tipped crop on her bottom made her clench involuntarily, intensifying the heat in her ass.
Kicking her legs, she pulled against the cuffs at her wrists. “I made you come.”
Her clit heated, making it swell even more, the sensation overwhelming.
Another sharp strike on her other cheek had her wiggling frantically, her cries becoming frantic.
“That’s your job, sub. You don’t get to come until you deserve it—and you have a hell of a lot to make up for.”
Hope struggled to remain still while Ace delivered several more lighter strikes of the leather-tipped crop all over her bottom, heating her entire ass and making her involuntarily clench on the ginger.
She couldn’t stop squirming, the tugs to her nipples and increased heat on her clit adding to her torment.
He alternated between light strikes and more intense ones, also switching from her bottom to her upper thighs, heating the entire area and making her ass and pussy clench incessantly with the need to be filled.
Not until he stopped did she realize that she’d been crying out and whimpering, the need and sensations so intense that tears soaked her blindfold. “Please, Ace! I’ll do anything.”
He ran a hand down the hot cheeks of her bottom, his firm, callused hands spreading the heat even more. “I know you will.”
Feeling his hands on her ankle, she felt him cuff one ankle and then the other to a spreader bar.
Hopeful that he would take her now, she bit her lip, shaking with anticipation.
Frowning when he unfastened her wrists, she struggled for balance, but he caught her easily, hoisting her over his shoulder again.
Disappointed that he was taking her to bed instead of fucking her in the playroom, Hope clung to his shirt. “Ace?”
He slapped her already hot ass, making it even hotter. “Quiet.”
She clenched again, sucking in a breath when the ginger released even more heat. She didn’t dare remove the blindfold without permission, even when he continued past the bedroom.
He bent again, setting her on her feet and holding on to her until she steadied herself.
He removed her blindfold, staring down at her, his eyes unreadable. “Do the dishes.”
Hope gulped, surprised that he’d stood her in front of the sink in her current condition.
The warning look in his eyes as he reached out to tug at the weight attached to her nipple kept her silent.
Because her husband didn’t speak unless he had something to say, both remained quiet while he cleared the table and set all of the dirty dishes within her reach.
Conscious of the fact that, when he finished, he retrieved another beer from the refrigerator and sat back at the table behind her, she became even more conscious of her spread legs and red ass with a ginger root sticking out of it on display.
She also knew that if she allowed the ginger root to fall, Ace would punish her for it.
With her legs spread with the spreader bar, she had to keep clenching to make sure it didn’t come out.
Of course, each time she clenched, it released more of its heat.
“We should do this more often. Nice view to take in while I enjoy my beer.”
Need clawed at her, the calm confidence in her husband’s tone sharpening her arousal even more.
The scrape of his chair leg had her turning to look over her shoulder in time to see him leave the room.
Not knowing how long he would be gone, she hurriedly finished the dishes, each movement creating an answering tug to her nipples and burning in her ass.
Tears stung her eyes, the burn becoming almost unbearable.
Minutes later, he appeared behind her again, removing the ginger and the clamps on her nipples and tossing the ginger into the trash. “I’ll bet that ass could use a little cooling, huh, sub?”
She almost came at the thought of him shoving a butt plug, coated with cool lube, into her. “Yes, please.”
“Please, Master.” Hope shivered at the ice in his tone, and at the demand that she call him Master, something he hadn’t done in a long time.
“Starting to remember who’s in charge?”
Hope gulped. “Yes, Master.”
“Good.” With a thickly muscled forearm wrapped around her waist, he carried her to the kitchen table and bent her over it, positioning a pillow he’d retrieved beneath her hips.
He pushed his chair closer to the table between her legs, his own legs pushing the spreader bar forward, not allowing her to straighten her legs at all.
“I know you want something hard and thick in this tight ass, but you’re not getting it.”
Sucking in a breath at the thought of being left in such torment, Hope whimpered, alarmed at his mood. “Please, Master.”
“No. This one will give you the relief from the heat but won’t fill you the way you need to be filled.”
Her toes curled, her bottom clenching with the need for his attention.
A whimper escaped when he parted her ass cheeks and paused, the knowledge that he stared at her puckered opening making the ache there even more intense.
Holding on to the opposite edge of the table, Hope whimpered, knowing that nothing she did or said would sway him. “Whatever you want, Master.”
“I see we’re finally coming to an understanding, sub. You need a firmer hand than I’ve been giving you, but that changes now. Before we’re done, you’re gonna respect your boundaries a hell of a lot more than you do now.”