Spent this past weekend alternating between being sick and resting and trying to get stuff done around the house (like unpacking... there are still waaaaay too many boxes in here for my peace of mind!). I'm mostly better. Hopefully I'll be productive today. I'm feeling productive and motivated and like it's been way too long since I've gotten any writing done!
And in the meantime, here's our first look into Claiming His Wife:
Confusion swamped Grace as her tears overwhelmed her. The spanking had hurt, it surely had, but it shouldn't be making her feel like this. The skin of her bottom burned, sparks flaring as she tried to find a comfortable way to sit on Alex's hard thighs.
She shouldn't be enjoying having his arms around her, she really shouldn't, but it felt so good to be held and comforted while she cried. It was not something she had much experience with. Crying had never done any good when she was growing up, mostly it got her banished back to the nursery where her father wouldn't have to look at her tears, and so she'd soon learned not to. The last time she'd really cried had been the night she'd left Alex, and even those tears had dried fairly quickly, because she'd been well aware how useless they were.
So why was she crying now like her heart was broken? The tears weren't slowing, if anything they were increasing as he held her against him.
Her emotions were jumbled, jangling inside of her, like too many church bells rioting inside her head. While she knew that she should be furious with Alex, and she still was, she couldn't help but crave being held and comforted. Even though he was the one who had caused her distress, both in the past and today. The very idea that he thought he could spank her into compliance should have enraged her.
It would, she was sure it would, as soon as she managed to stop crying.
Some small part of her, some tiny remnant of her heart that he hadn't managed to crush yet, was pulsing with hope. That's what made her angriest. He'd sounded like he cared while he was spanking her. Not the edict that they would present a respectable face to the public, that was what she'd expected of him, but when he said there would be no more men. It was the way he'd said it. Like it tormented him to know that she'd had other lovers, like it had hurt him as much as his first affairs had torn at her. Stupid, really, to think that it might be true. She knew how he really felt about women, how he felt about her.
One woman is as good as another.
But then why track her down like this? Why spank her? Why not just negotiate for whatever it was he wanted from her? Even if he didn't want the scandal of divorce - which she didn't understand, since she'd made herself a much greater scandal than a divorce would be - she would have expected him to come at her with a very different agreement. One which would allow him to keep his mistresses, and her to continue on with her affairs, as long as she bore his heir and became discreet. In other words, as long as they acted like the rest of the unhappily married couples in the ton.
Grace could have said no to that. It would have been easy. She didn't want any part of marriage to a man who had no emotions for her, she wanted her freedom. But this? The rawness in his voice when he'd said there would be no more women for him had made it sound like a promise. A vow. She wanted to believe him, which made her furious at herself.
Her tears were finally starting to slow and she tried to push away from him, but his arms tightened.
"Stay... just stay still, Grace. Let me hold you for a while." The hoarseness in his voice made him sound almost desperate. Unless, of course, she was reading into things that weren't there, the way she had when they'd first married. But his arms weren't loosening.
She was so tired of fighting. Not just today; it felt like she'd been fighting for years. Welcome numbness seemed to envelope her and she slumped against him, letting him hold her because it was easier than continuing to fight.
Alex knew the moment Grace finally woke up, because she practically vaulted out of his arms. The wild look she gave him was replaced with an angry, pained one as soon as her bottom came into contact with the carriage bench. It was all he could do not to chuckle, but he didn't want to provoke his little wildcat of a wife any further.
Tilting her chin up, she gingerly settled back into her seat, smoothing down her hair and clothing as if pretending he didn't exist.
The past hour had been the best hour he'd had in years. Grace had reluctantly settled into his arms and then she'd fallen asleep on his shoulder, her sweet scent surrounding him, her curves resting against him. It had also been an exercise in self-control, because his body had responded to having a woman nestled up against him, especially because it was finally the right woman. Despite the aching torment of his cock, he'd fully enjoyed every last second of it.
Even now, he could barely tear his eyes away from the crease on her cheek, left from where it had pressed against his jacket.He'd spanked her and she'd let him hold her. And she'd agreed to his terms for the future of the marriage. Obviously his friends were right. He should have taken her in hand years ago.