Copyright © 2007 by Leah Kelley
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“What do you mean, Savannah will not be going with us? This is a very important evening for the business. She needs to be there.”
Mr. Lane turned from the hearth, his face a mask of regret, and turned his palms heavenward. “She’s very upset, and rightfully so. That dressmaker did tell her she’d have her gown ready by tonight, and then at the last minute, well… There is no excuse for it! None at all!”
Reed Anderson took in the reddened face of his future father-in-law with something akin to shock. He seemed more upset with the dressmaker than he did his misbehaving daughter. Reed shook his head. “You’re telling me that Savannah has decided not to attend the party because the gown she planned to wear is not ready?”
Mr. Lane sighed. “She’s very sensitive about these kinds of things.”
Reed rubbed the back of his neck. “She has dozens of gowns. I’ve seen them. Why doesn’t she just wear something else?”
Mr. Lane shrugged. “Who can understand women?”
Reed clenched his jaw. He himself had four sisters, and none of them dared behave the way his future wife apparently did. He sighed heavily, wondering once again what he was letting himself in for by marrying Savannah Lane.
But though obviously spoiled and pampered, there was something about Savannah that captured his heart like no other. Maybe it was the way she loved children and spent hours helping out at the orphanage. Or maybe it was her little lost girl vulnerability that just screamed for someone to show her the way. Maybe it even had to do with her big green eyes, chestnut curls, and absolutely flawless figure.
Whatever it was, it caused Reed to grit his teeth and endure her occasional tirade and bite his tongue when her family laughed at her sassy comments to her parents.
He’d been up front with her. He told her after they were married, he would blister her behind for that kind of behavior, but she’d only laughed. His mouth formed a grim line. She’d learn soon enough he wasn’t joking, maybe even tonight.
“Mr. Lane, I’m afraid I’m going to have to insist that Savannah ready herself and attend the ball,” he said to the older man in a tone that brooked no argument.
Mr. Lane sputtered around for a moment. “But Mr. Anderson, you don’t understand. Once Savannah is set on something… why, even if we did talk her into going, she’d embarrass us all with her behavior.”
Reed crossed his arms. “Perhaps you’ll allow me to speak with Savannah?”
“We must be going, dear, or we’ll be late!” Mrs. Lane called from the foyer, interrupting whatever answer the other man was about to give. Both men moved toward the door, Mr. Lane grabbing his overcoat from the back of an old leather chair.
“Oh, Reed, dear. It’s so good to see you,” Mrs. Lane said with a peck on his cheek. “I’m so sorry Savannah couldn’t make it. I know how very important tonight is to you and my husband. It’s a pity, really.”
“A pity, indeed,” Reed murmured, “but with your permission, I would still like to speak with Savannah.”
“Oh, but dear, we’ll be late! We really must be going,” Mrs. Lane insisted.
“Why don’t you all go on ahead and I’ll be there in a few moments,” Reed suggested.
Mrs. Lane cast a glance up the stairs. “I’m not sure it is at all proper…”
“We are to be married in less than a week,” Reed reminded her, “and there are still servants in the house.”
Mrs. Lane sighed. “Oh, very well.
Reed glanced up the stairs and back again at his fiancée’s father. “We will see you there.”
Reed found Savannah lying on her bed. When she saw him, she jumped to her feet, her face flushed as she tightened the belt on her dressing gown even though he could see her bloomers peaking out from underneath.
“Reed Anderson! What do you mean coming up here? Did father not tell you what I said?”
Reed crossed his arms and leaned against the doorpost. “Yes, he told me; however, as my fiancée and your father’s daughter, folks will expect to see you there tonight. It’s a family business, Savannah, and you will attend and be a part of it.” Her mouth opened and closed, but he continued, “Now, I know you have a wardrobe full of gowns. I want you to choose one of them and get yourself ready for the party. Do you understand?”
Savannah’s mouth opened and then closed as her face flushed a deep pink. “Did father not tell you what happened with the dressmaker? She…”
He shook his head. “It’s not important what happened with the dressmaker. What is important is that you get done with your little fit and get ready for the party.”
Savannah reddened even further if possible. “Mr. Anderson, I do not know who you think you are coming up here and speaking to me in such a way! I am not going tonight and nothing you can say will change my mind!”
Reed stepped on into the room and closed the door. “Do you think not?”
Savannah raised her chin. “What do you think you’re doing now? It is not proper for you to be in my bedroom, let alone with the door closed! What if Mother were to see?”
“Your parents know I’m here,” he told her.
“I don’t believe you.”
“Nevertheless, they know and have gone on to the party. They expect us there in a few minutes. Now are you going to get dressed or shall I force the issue?”
His bride-to-be fisted her hands on her hips. “I told you I am not going to that party and you can’t make me!”
Reed only stared at her for a moment as he worked to get his temper under control. “Very well, then.”
“Reed! What are you doing?” Savannah cried when he took her arm and forced her to the bed. Ignoring her outraged cries, he pulled her struggling body across his knees, positioning her so that her upper body was lying across the bed, her bottom front and center in his lap, and her legs wriggling and kicking over the edge of his knees. Securing her with an arm about her waist, he held her there until she finished screeching and fighting.
“Now, we will try this again,” he said. Since her dressing gown had long since fallen out of the way, he had perfect access to her little round bottom clad only in a pair of silky white bloomers. He raised his hand and landed a solid slap to the center of her lower cheeks.
Savannah squeaked and her struggles began all over again. “Let me go, Reed! Do you hear me? Stop it!”
Reed swatted her again in the very same spot. “Reed! Stop it!”