At twenty-one, Jasper Goodhew is delighted to be freed from his parental constraints in rural Somerset and enjoy the delights of Regency London during the Season. As a follower in the fast set that runs around young buck Julian Buchanan, Jasper encounters many pleasures, from the elegance of Mayfair parties to the tawdry entertainments of Covent Garden’s taverns and brothels. However, when he meets silver fox Mortimer Cleverly, he discovers a hidden propensity for spanking.
Sir Mortimer is a seasoned and experienced gentleman who can spot a confused innocent at a hundred paces. Yet he’s unable to resist Jasper’s clueless appeal at least once. He feels a lurking sense of responsibility when Jasper returns for more. Aware of the dangers of such a connection with a confused young man, Mortimer attempts to mentor Jasper, leading them onto the safer ground of friendship.
But will the combination of his increasing attachment and Jasper's irresistible compulsion foil their best intentions?
The next part of Jasper’s evening passed in patchy coherence. The older gentlemen departed with dignity almost immediately after Jasper's inadvertent blunder. With his wine glass replenished more than once by a luscious attendant, Jasper almost forgot about the impact of that searing gaze.
He was vaguely aware of some of his companions departing with young ladies. Others were content to remain, drink deep, and dandle a damsel on their laps. Minutes or hours progressed in a pleasant haze until Jasper reached the point where he had drunk himself sober.
Relatively clear-headed and suddenly thirsty, Jasper rose on remarkably steady legs to fetch a glass of water from the drinks tray on the capacious sideboard.
This gave him a clear view of the entrance hallway. The vestibule was empty, apart from the three gentlemen earlier expelled from the drawing room by an excess of wit.
The gentleman with the remarkable hair was shaking the hands of his companions with a few congenial words. In that instant of seeming sobriety, it was terribly important for Jasper to make amends. He couldn’t have fathomed if this was due to his basic good manners and general inoffensiveness when not as drunk as a wheelbarrow. Or perhaps he was prompted by the infinite unimaginable possibilities in those haunting eyes.
He entered the hall as the gentleman escorted his companions towards the exit. Jasper stood uncertainly in front of the central staircase, awaiting his opportunity. Once his companions had departed, the remaining gentleman approached a further another doorway off the hall.
“Excuse me,” Jasper said, belatedly adding, “Sir.”
The gentleman turned, raising an inquisitorial dark brow that made him no less forbidding.
During Jasper’s formal education, he occasionally got into trouble. To be fair, these incidents occurred either from absent-mindedness or when he tagged along in the wake of more exuberant and imaginative students. Any resulting discipline, a removal of privileges or corporal punishment, was a matter of course and not taken personally. His sporadic visits to the principal’s study were desultory and instantly forgotten by the disciplinarian and the culprit.
This charged confrontation was entirely different. Jasper was unnerved by the swooping feeling in his belly as he faced his unknown foe. The older man drew closer but remained silent, his face expressionless, that implacable glare holding a sense of threat and thrill.
“I think I was somewhat discourteous earlier, and I wanted to say I was sorry. I didn’t mean to be rude. We were all getting rather carried away and had too much to drink. I know it was a bit much, and we were rather close to the mark concerning you and your friends. But I suppose you were young once too, eh?”
Jasper tried and failed to raise a placating smile. The gentleman didn’t move a muscle and stared at Jasper as though regarding a failed scientific experiment.
"I mean to say, I was a bit bosky, and I wasn’t thinking straight. Anyone with decent eyesight could tell that’s your natural hair. You’re nowhere near old enough to be wearing a wig. You’d have to be in your dotage. And you’re not. Naturally. No one would think you’re wearing a cauliflower of the wig variety, and it doesn’t remotely resemble an actual cauliflower. I don’t know why I said that. You have very nice hair.”
Jasper’s ramble stuttered to a stop. Without softening his expression, the gentleman said, “You were insolent.”
Jasper blinked. He suddenly grasped his opponent was slightly the taller and his lean build held latent strength. He felt paralysed, like a snake to its charmer, in thrall to the depths of that gaze.
“I think you deserve to be punished.”
The gentleman’s voice was persuasive. “You’ve earned a good thrashing.”
In a husky tone Jasper didn’t recognise as his own, he said, “I’ll let you be the judge of that. I’ll do anything you require.”
That eyebrow rose again. A glint of humour lit those night-dark eyes.
“Yes. No. I don’t know.”