Psychology of Submission – #SatSpanks

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It’s the Saturday after my Corbin’s Bend release of Psychology of Submission.   I’m taking a break today from the Spanking A to Z blog, but will return tomorrow with my F post.  It is a little tale I called Farm Fresh and I hope you’ll come back tomorrow to check it out.  If you haven’t been playing along with the blog hop, I released five erotic shorts this week so be sure to check them out.

Now back to our regularly scheduled #SatSpanks.  In the snippet below, Traci has been giving Sean the many reasons why their long distance romance wasn’t going to work.

Snippet:

“Distraction? Seriously? Don’t think I don’t know what you’re leaving off the list of reasons why you don’t think this is going to work between us. You don’t think I’ve got what it takes to be the kind of man you need, do you, Traci?”

Her pupils flared. He knew he’d struck gold. She finally replied, “I never said that, Sean, but let’s face it. You said it yourself, you’d never heard of domestic discipline before you met me. Never even thought of using physical discipline within a relationship.”

“Maybe not, but I’ve been thinking of it non-stop since reading your research. Since listening to your impassioned speech. Since burying myself inside you, knowing we were as physically close as we could be, yet still sensing there was an intimacy still missing. It took me hours of reflection to finally realize what it was.”

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Blurb:

Traci Jackson has been a therapist in Corbin’s Bend for several years. She’s helped many residents navigate their own D/s and DD relationships, but she hasn’t found her own HoH. Through her patients, she’s been researching and writing about the dynamics of dominance and submission in relationships for years. She loves her field, but she hates attending professional conventions where she’s treated like her specialty isn’t valid.
Sean Campbell is juggling raising his teenage daughter alone in Chicago while running a large convention hotel. When the annual psychologist convention comes to town, he literally bumps into the most beautiful and intelligent woman he’s met in a long time. He gets the surprise of his life when he finds out her specialty is D/s with an emphasis on corporal punishment.
They may find sparks from the minute they meet, but Traci and Sean have more than just the long distance between Chicago and Corbin’s Bend separating them. Sean has never heard of domestic discipline before. Will Traci pack up and leave Corbin’s Bend to be with the man she’s falling in love with, even if he can never be her true HoH?
*****

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Coming Soon: Psychology of Submission

Psychology-of-Submission-Final-200We are closing in on my next release.    I can’t wait for everyone to read Traci and Sean’s story in Psychology of Submission that comes out Thursday, June 4th.    Even if you haven’t tried other Corbin’s Bend stories yet, this book would be an excellent introduction for you to the series.

I’m sharing a new scene today that I haven’t shared before.   Traci, a psychologist, has to deliver the keynote speech at a professional conference in front of her peers and she is very afraid of being ridiculed for her topic.    She has just met Sean and they are on their first date the night before her speech.  Sean is trying to help her stay calm.

 

Extended Excerpt:

Sean took care of the check. They exited the restaurant and walked hand-in-hand back up the pier towards the large Ferris wheel. Sean stopped long enough to buy a bag of pink, fluffy cotton candy which they enjoyed as they awaited their turn for the ride.

Only once they were safely settled into their gondola and leaving the ground did Traci notice Sean hadn’t been exaggerating about his fear of heights. Sean got quiet as they stopped and started to take on new riders, moving higher and higher.

“Why didn’t you tell me you really didn’t want to come on this ride? I can tell you hate it.”

“I don’t hate it. I just hate the way it makes my stomach churn. I hope I’m not going to embarrass myself here.”

“That’s not possible. Anyway, we all have things we’re afraid of. Yours just happens to be heights.”

Sean turned in the seat, focusing his attention on Traci instead of the gorgeous skyline of the city below. “You seem fearless. What is Traci Jackson afraid of?”

Such a baring question. Maybe to the outside world she looked fearless, but inside, Traci felt anything but. Her vulnerability hung precariously in the air. She longed to confide in Sean. He was a good listener and they had clicked so well, yet she didn’t want to ruin their night by exposing things to a man she was never going to see again, let alone a man who could do nothing to fix her problems anyway.

“You know. The normal stuff,” Traci finally answered noncommittally.

“I’m afraid you’ll have to expound on that. I’ve lost all perspective of what normal is.” He smiled kindly, before continuing. “I don’t want to pry, Traci, but yesterday you sure seemed like something had you spooked. What’s happening with you that you don’t want to attend any of the conference dinners?”

His eyes bored into her, reminding her that she was the center of his attention right now. Despite how nervous that made her feel, it warmed her to know he saw her… really saw her. Her insecurity mingled with the cool evening air had brought a visible shiver.

“Hey, you’re getting chilled.” Sean moved to take off his jacket like a gentleman, but before he could get it off, Traci leaned forward, closing the distance between them. She fought back the tears threatening as she realized she was now less than twelve hours away from delivering her keynote speech tomorrow morning.

Sean caught her, pulled her into his arms, and wrapped his sports jacket around her to cocoon them together for warmth. It was his comforting “shhhh” that made her tears spill over and down her cheeks to drip onto his dress shirt. He smelled so good, and his muscular arms holding her felt like a slice of heaven. Alarm bells were going off, telling her she was crossing a line she shouldn’t.

It might be crazy, but she’d never felt safer than being held by Sean one-hundred feet off the ground. He stroked her back lightly and helped her take a few calming breaths. They cuddled silently for several minutes, each enjoying the quiet intimacy of their private embrace. Each unsure how to proceed.

Sean took the lead, pulling apart just enough to pin her with a look that held more questions than answers. He was as tempted as she was to throw caution to the wind. His fingers brushed her cheek gently and swiped at her tears, never taking his gaze from hers. Traci’s heart raced at the possibility of a kiss, but Sean maintained his gentleman status.

“I may be out of practice, Traci, but that didn’t feel like normal to me. Why don’t you tell me what’s really going on with the conference?” Traci tried to hide her disappointment that he wanted to continue to talk, especially about a topic she wanted to forget.

“There’s nothing you can do about it, Sean. It’s just something I need to work through on my own.”

“You’re used to working through issues on your own, aren’t you?”

Traci didn’t want to let his off-hand comment hurt her, but it did. She was used to working through issues on her own, not because she wanted to, but because it’s just the way it had to be. “I’ve had to get good at it, yes.”

Her voice had a sharp edge and she could see Sean noticed, but he didn’t back down. “In case you missed it, this time you don’t need to work through your problem alone.”

“You don’t know anything about it.”

“So fill me in.”

“Why?”

“Because I want to help.”

“Why?” Traci’s voice sounded accusatory.

“Why do I want to help you?”

“Yes. I mean you barely know me.”

Sean looked hurt. He moved his fingers from her cheek to her chin, holding her face as he leaned in so close she felt his minty breath. “I’ve spent the last several hours getting to know you. I feel very close to you right now. You are a good person, Traci, and I don’t know what it is, but I know there is something going on with you and those goons that were chasing after you in the hall yesterday. I’m worried about you.”

His eyes shone with a sincerity that took her breath away. Her protective wall was crumbling as he resumed his gentle stroking of her back. He waited so patiently for her that when she finally started talking, her fears came out in a panicked rush.

“I must have been crazy to agree to give the keynote speech tomorrow. When they asked me last year to present, I assumed it would be in a small breakout session with just a few other professionals there to debate the material. I never dreamed they would schedule me to speak in front of the entire assembly in tomorrow’s session. I should have backed out the second I found out, but now it’s too late for them to find anyone else so I’m going to have to go through with it.”

Her shivers were back and Sean scooped her back into his arms to hug her tightly. “Hey, everyone gets a bit nervous with public speaking. I’m sure you’ll do great.”

It would be so easy for her to let him think she just had a case of stage fright, but now that she had her guard down, the words spilled out. “I was on the debate team in high school. I’m not worried about speaking in front of a crowd.”

He pulled back to peer down into her eyes again. “So then what? Are you not prepared?”

“I’m prepared.”

“Are you afraid your topic is going to put them to sleep?”

Traci’s snorting laugh was unladylike and Sean chuckled. He was waiting for her answer.

“I think I can pretty much guarantee no one will fall asleep.” That had his interest piqued.

“I’ll bite. What is your area of expertise?”

“It’s a bit controversial. A few of my peers don’t agree with my findings. Others just aren’t mature enough to handle the debate the topic spurs.”

“You still haven’t told me… wait…” Sean’s eyes widened. “Are you a sex therapist?”

“Not exactly, but close. A lot of my research skirts sexual topics, yes.”

Sean whistled before breaking out into a wolfish grin. “Wow, how’s that for luck? The first woman I ask out on a date in eighteen years and she’s a sex therapist.” Traci slapped his chest harder than she’d meant to.

“I said not exactly. It’s a lot more complicated than that.” She was getting defensive. She was so tired of having to defend her field of expertise.

Sean got serious again quickly. “Listen, I was just kidding around. I think it’s great, Trace.”

She was completely caught off-guard by his familiar use of her nickname. She wasn’t sure what to say so Sean pressed her. “Are you good at your job, Traci?”

She took a deep breath before answering. “Yes. I’m a good therapist.”

“Somehow I already knew that. Next question. Did you work hard on your research and putting together your presentation?”

“Of course. I’ve worked my ass off.”

Sean grinned. “Would it be ungentlemanly of me to let you know that I’m pretty sure your ass is still part of your body? I should know. I’ve admired it several times tonight.” He slyly let his left hand slide down from her back and cupped her butt, squeezing gently in appreciation. Even in the dim lighting, Traci could see his grey eyes clouding with desire. Her own breathing was becoming short and she waited, hoping again for a kiss.

*****

You’ll have to wait for the release on Thursday to catch the exciting end of the scene.  Psychology of Submission comes out on Thursday, June 4th.   While you’re waiting, you have enough time to read Life’s Unexpected Gifts, the story where we met Traci as Troy’s sister last season.

Blurb:

Traci Jackson has been a therapist in Corbin’s Bend for several years. She’s helped many residents navigate their own D/s and DD relationships, but she hasn’t found her own HoH. Through her patients, she’s been researching and writing about the dynamics of dominance and submission in relationships for years. She loves her field, but she hates attending professional conventions where she’s treated like her specialty isn’t valid.

Sean Campbell is juggling raising his teenage daughter alone in Chicago while running a large convention hotel. When the annual psychologist convention comes to town, he literally bumps into the most beautiful and intelligent woman he’s met in a long time. He gets the surprise of his life when he finds out her specialty is D/s with an emphasis on corporal punishment.

They may find sparks from the minute they meet, but Traci and Sean have more than just the long distance between Chicago and Corbin’s Bend separating them. Sean has never heard of domestic discipline before. Will Traci pack up and leave Corbin’s Bend to be with the man she’s falling in love with, even if he can never be her true HoH?

Way to go Troy! #WIPITUP #CorbinsBend

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If you’ve been following along the last few weeks, I’ve been highlighing the beginning scene of my next Corbin’s Bend book, Psychology of Submission.   If you haven’t read the start of the scene, you might want to start here first.   I’m sharing the end of that first scene today as Troy convinces Traci she needs to get on a plane to Chicago.  I know my opinion doesn’t count (since I’m the author) but I just love Troy so much in this scene.  Would his argument persuade you to get on the plane if you were in Traci’s shoes?

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Excerpt from Psychology of Submission:

They were at the heart of her lie. The reason she’d avoided this discussion for months. If she couldn’t even talk about this with her brother, the man who loved her most in the world and who lived in Corbin’s Bend as the head of household in his domestic discipline marriage, how in the world could she get up in front of a bunch of professionals and talk about it?

Again, he waited patiently. The silence between them finally forced the words from her. “I just don’t think they want to hear about the kind of relationships I’ve studied.”

“Marriages?”

“A bit more specific.”

“Sexual relationships?”

“A bit more specific.”

“Rather than playing this guessing game, why not tell me the title of your work?”

Traci took a deep breath before continuing. “The Intimacy of Dominance and Submission. I study the psychology behind what makes Doms and HoH’s need to dominate and protect. I also study the psychology of why some people long to be submissive, both sexually and domestically.”

Troy whistled softly. “Well, you certainly have a hot-bed of test subjects here in Corbin’s Bend. At least that explains in part what made you want to move here, to live your research.”

Traci snorted an unladylike sound. “Researching others, yes. I wouldn’t say I’m living my research.” Traci had to push down the now familiar self-pity she’d been fighting since last year’s conference.

Troy didn’t seem to notice and pressed on. “But, I don’t understand. This seems like a very legitimate topic to present on.”

“If I stopped with the psychology of D/s, it might be. I dig a bit deeper.”

“And?”

“And, the heart of my research revolves around corporal punishment and the need for delivering and receiving discipline.”

“You mean spanking.”

“Among other things. I delve into everything from the psychology behind DD relationships to hard-core BDSM master/slave relationships and everything in between. I’ve focused a lot on defining the difference between abuse and discipline. How humiliation and pain factor into the dynamics of D/s. It’s actually very interesting stuff. I’ve developed several screenings to help couples understand their deepest drivers to better predict long term compatibility in relationships.”

Troy took time to internalize her words before he continued. “Honestly, learning this only makes me admire you all the more, Trace. More than ever, I don’t understand why you don’t want to go and represent your hard work?”

“Let’s just say many people choose to live here in Corbin’s Bend to escape the judgmental crap from people outside our community who don’t want to understand. The topic makes them uncomfortable and instead of studying it to learn more, they decide to act like immature jerks, ridiculing me and my research.”

“I bet you’re just being paranoid.”

Traci’s anger flared. “My nickname at the last conference was the ‘Spanko Shrink’. Some of the worst offenders were kind enough to have an official name-tag created for me and had it in large letters on the name plate that sat in front of me as I sat at the head table last year. I couldn’t figure out why people seemed to be pointing and snickering. Thankfully, an acquaintance of mine was kind enough to walk up and take it down.”

“Oh for Christ’s sake. I’ve never heard of such immature behavior. These were actual psychologists?”

“Yes, Troy. That’s what I’m trying to say. These are the same peers who will be sitting in the ballroom to listen to my keynote speech this year. Waiting to laugh and ridicule. Waiting to do who knows what to humiliate me. In my personal relationships, I may admit to living closer to the submissive end of the continuum, but I’d prefer not to be humiliated in public in front of professional peers.”

Troy pondered her words before speaking again. “Traci, do you use your research to help the residents you see here in Corbin’s Bend?”

“Of course. Every day.”

“So then I guess the question is, is that enough for you? Are you willing to turn your back on the millions of people living outside of Corbin’s Bend who might benefit from the knowledge you can pass along? Because that’s what you’d be doing. Your peers at the conference can learn from you. They can go back and help their own patients. Your research can influence them. You have the opportunity to impact many outside of this small town. The question is, are you willing to risk personal ridicule to help them? You have something important to share. You’ve worked hard at it and deserve your time at the podium. If you stay home, those small-minded bigots have won and you’ll be making the most submissive decision of your life. The decision to submit to their immature scare tactics.”

Traci’s heart raced. Her brother had a way of cutting through all the crap in just a few minutes on topics she’d wasted endless hours worrying about over the last twelve months. Could she face her fears and go to the conference?

“I’d like to make a date with you, Trace, for one week from today. I’ll meet you here on this very bench and we’ll talk about how your week went. I’ll want to hear every detail from you. Now here’s the million-dollar question. What will make you feel better one week from now? Having stayed home to safely go about your daily life without fear of ridicule? Or, will you feel better sitting here telling me about your week in Chicago? Even if some people act like idiots, I suspect you’ll feel better by proving you can hold your head up high, by not letting them stop you from doing what you’ve earned the right to do: present as an expert in your field.”

His words were a direct hit. He knew her so well. Finally, all of the self-doubt started to fall away. She knew it was probably going to be the hardest week of her life, but her brother had helped her understand the only thing worse than going to the conference was… not going to the conference.

Traci tried to smile. “I guess I’d better hurry up and finish eating. I have to get home to pack.”

Troy pulled her into a big hug. “That’s my girl. I’m so very proud of you.”

*****

Blurb:
Traci Jackson has been a therapist in Corbin’s Bend for several years. She’s helped many residents navigate their own D/s and DD relationships, but she hasn’t found her own HoH. Through her patients, she’s been researching and writing about the dynamics of dominance and submission in relationships for years. She loves her field, but she hates attending professional conventions where she’s treated like her specialty isn’t valid.

Sean Campbell is juggling raising his teenage daughter alone in Chicago while running a large convention hotel. When the annual psychologist convention comes to town, he literally bumps into the most beautiful and intelligent woman he’s met in a long time. He gets the surprise of his life when he finds out her specialty is D/s with an emphasis on corporal punishment.

They may find sparks from the minute they meet, but Traci and Sean have more than just the long distance between Chicago and Corbin’s Bend separating them. Sean has never heard of domestic discipline before. Will Traci pack up and leave Corbin’s Bend to be with the man she’s falling in love with, even if he can never be her true HoH?

Mark your calendar for June 4th!

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Traci dreads her conference #WIPITUP

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Since Having it All is technically no longer a work in progress but is instead a NEW RELEASE any time now (yippy!)  I’m sharing an excerpt from my next Corbin’s Bend book instead for #WIPITUP this week.   We are joining Traci and Troy just after the last snippet I posted of this opening scene of Psychology of Submission.  Let’s see what Traci and Troy are talking about after he drags her away from the picnic area.

Excerpt:

“Then tell me why you decided not to go to the conference. You’ve been working so hard on your research. You just got another article published in Psychology Today. I’m so proud of you, Trace. Why wouldn’t you want to go and enjoy talking about your research with other psychologists?”

“Conferences are boring. It’s no big deal.” Traci shrugged.

Troy turned his body to face his sister, pulling her hands until she had to shift to face him. Traci was careful not to look him in the eye. She was unprepared when he lifted her chin with his finger. The love and concern she saw warmed her.

“You’ve been hiding things from me and now you’re lying to me, Trace. I’ve been reluctant to push you before now, but that was a mistake. You’ve worked too hard on your research to just walk away from it now. That tells me something big is going on in that beautiful head of yours and I want you to share it with me.”

“Really, Troy. You’re making a mountain out of a molehill. It’s nothing. Let it go.”

His hands moved to her upper arms, gripping her tightly. “I asked you to stop lying to me. If you recall, there are consequences for lying in our relationship.”

Traci’s heart rate jumped as she remembered clearly what those consequences were. “Oh, for crying out loud. You wouldn’t dare spank me again.”

“I never dreamed I’d need to, but I will if I think it will help. Please, Trace. I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s wrong. I love you. Let me in.”

Traci looked away, calming herself by watching children playing on the enormous jungle gym several hundred feet away. Sounds of joyful play filled the air. She felt the familiar tug of submission, reminding her of her natural desire to submit to a stronger man. She’d spent thousands of hours studying the psychology behind dominance and submission. It was her specialty. Still, resentment flared within that she couldn’t stop it from happening within her own mind. She was an intelligent, strong woman. Understanding the reasons why she still yearned to submit to the will of a man didn’t make her any less pissed when she couldn’t stop it from happening.

All of the damn research, and I’m still no closer to being able to stop my own mind from betraying me. Life would be so much easier if I could just settle for a vanilla relationship.

Her inner anger flared, making it harder to hold up her protective shield. Her brother waited her out, seeming to understand she was waging an internal emotional struggle.

“Fine. I don’t want to go because my area of specialization isn’t well received in the psychological community. It’s easier to just stay home than to go and feel like everyone around me is ridiculing me.”

She detected disbelief as her brother answered. “I bet you’re just being paranoid, Trace. You’re a published professional. Why wouldn’t they want to hear what you have to say? Are you sure this isn’t more about fear of public speaking?”

“I’m sure. Public speaking makes me a little nervous on its own, but it’s the fear of getting rotten tomatoes thrown at me that has me dreading it.”

He laughed at her. Too bad she hadn’t been exaggerating. “Now you’re being ridiculous, but I’ll play along. What about your study of relationship dynamics do you think they don’t respect?”

They were at the heart of her lie. The reason she’d avoided this discussion for months. If she couldn’t even talk about this with her brother, the man who loved her most in the world and who lived in Corbin’s Bend as the head of household in his domestic discipline marriage, how in the world could she get up in front of a bunch of professionals and talk about it?

Again, he waited patiently. The silence between them finally forced the words from her. “I just don’t think they want to hear about the kind of relationships I’ve studied.”

“Marriages?”

“A bit more specific.”

“Sexual relationships?”

“A bit more specific.”

“Rather than playing this guessing game, why not tell me the title of your work?”

Traci took a deep breath before continuing. “The Intimacy of Dominance and Submission. I study the psychology behind what makes Doms and HoH’s need to dominate and protect. I also study the psychology of why some people long to be submissive, both sexually and domestically.”

Troy whistled softly. “Well, you certainly have a hot-bed of test subjects here in Corbin’s Bend. At least that explains in part what made you want to move here, to live your research.”

Traci snorted an unladylike sound. “Researching others, yes. I wouldn’t say I’m living my research.” Traci had to push down the now familiar self-pity she’d been fighting since last year’s conference.

*****

Psychology of Submission will be released on June 4th!   Don’t forget to check out these other great authors!

Who is worried about Traci? #WIPITUP #CorbinsBend

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So I heard from more than one of you who read Life’s Unexpected Gifts that you were worried about what was going to happen to Traci, Troy’s sister.  I did kind of leave her hanging at the end of last season’s book, but I wanted to make sure Traci got her own story in season three.  Psychology of Submission will be released on June 4th.  I thought it would be fun to share the opening scene of the book with you this week.  It is a nice long excerpt chock full of some of your favorite Corbin’s Bend residents.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

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Excerpt from Psychology of Submission

“Oh my fucking God! This cheesecake is to die for!”

The words were still hanging in the air when the crack of a large hand connecting with a bikini-clad bottom could be heard from across the pool. Hallie’s surprised squeal was drowned out by the fits of laughter from the dozen or so other couples already gathered for the Corbin’s Bend annual Summer’s Here picnic.

“Troy! I can’t believe you just did that!”

“Hallie, I can’t believe you continue to talk like a truck driver.”

Traci’s heart physically contracted with love as she watched her brother and new sister- in-law bantering playfully. Seeing Troy happily married was bittersweet for her. She honestly couldn’t be happier for Troy and Hallie. Still, it was ironic that the siblings had gone years living far apart while Troy had been deployed across the globe, yet now that they lived a few blocks from each other, Traci had never felt more alone.

The time since her brother’s wedding had brought her a much-loved sister-in-law. In fact, Hallie was more than her new sister; she was her close friend. But in watching the couple embrace across the pool, Traci was keenly reminded that she was no longer the most important person in her brother’s life.

Correction. I am no longer the most important person in anyone’s life.

Traci tried to shake herself out of her funk. She despised feeling sorry for herself, and refused to allow feelings of jealously to come between her and the two people she loved most in the world. Yet, the couple wasn’t helping.

The newlyweds had just returned from their honeymoon two weeks earlier and were still in that sickly-sweet romantic mode where they were rarely more than a few feet from each other. They’d come to dinner at Traci’s the night before and had even had to excuse themselves to go to the guest bedroom. Troy had made it sound like it was to punish Hallie for her continued potty- mouth, but Traci was no fool. The walls in her Corbin’s Bend home were not thick enough to camouflage the sounds of sex. Passionate… hot… naughty… sex.

At least they’d had the decency to blush when they’d returned to the kitchen twenty minutes later with Hallie’s hair sex-mussed and Troy’s shirt untucked. Just because Traci’s love life was non-existent didn’t mean the people around her needed to suffer the same affliction.

Troy and Hallie returned to the long picnic table where Traci had been sitting, observing. They plopped down next to their sister. Zach and Erin Cunningham tagged along to sit across the table. Traci had gotten to know the married couple pretty well since they served as Troy and Hallie’s mentors. She’d begun to count them among her close friends these days.

“I don’t know what I’m gonna to do with you, Hallie. I think your cursing is getting worse, not better.”

Zachary cut in before Hallie could reply. “What punishments have you established to help her stop?”

Traci hid her smile as she listened to a conversation that outside of Corbin’s Bend would seem barbaric. Here, it’s just another Saturday afternoon.

“I always give her a crack to the bottom right away to let her know I noticed and didn’t let it pass, but I don’t think it’s enough.”

“It’s not, if you’re trying to get her to stop. One swat isn’t enough of a deterrent, is it, Erin?”

Erin’s blush told Traci she wasn’t comfortable with the topic. “No, sir, and I’d like to thank you for pointing that out in front of our friends.”

Zach reached to hold his wife’s hand while sharing their experience. “Erin’s language has never been too bad, but she would let a 4-letter bomb slip at times. I didn’t really care until Avery was a toddler and started repeating the words she learned from her mommy. I’ll never forget how embarrassed I was when Avery called my mother a ‘damn busy-body.’ That was the night Erin got her first real punishment for her language choices. It only took a few intense sessions and the problem was solved, wasn’t it, baby?”

“It felt like more than a few to me, thank-you-very-much.”

“Hey, it worked, didn’t it?”

“Unfortunately.”

Hallie had been listening silently, her eyes growing larger by the minute. She glanced sideways at Traci as if to look for moral support. Traci had to chuckle. “Don’t look at me. I still can’t believe Adam didn’t set you straight when you lived with them.”

“Some sister you are. I thought you’d back me up that there are way worse things than having a colorful vocabulary.”

They were joined by several new couples at the table next to them. Dr. Marcus Devon must have been close enough to catch their earlier conversation when he weighed in. “Troy, I’d suggest using those bars of soap I gave you as part of your wedding present. Those work wonders for naughty language slips.”

Before Troy could respond, the next alpha male to join the group, Vance Foster, shared his own opinion on how Troy should handle this particular problem. “A paddle. That’s all you need. One nice, hard, wooden paddle. I guarantee it does wonders for helping make behavior changes, wouldn’t you say, Ettie?”

The pretty young woman with the studious glasses waited until she’d gingerly lowered herself to the hard wooden bench, shifting to try to find a comfortable position, before answering. “You seem to think the wooden paddle is the answer for everything.”

Vance grinned at her. “It helped us arrive here on time today, didn’t it?”

“Yes, sir, although now the paper will be released late since you didn’t let me finish the story I was working on.”

“Somehow, I think your subscribers will understand. They’d rather have the pleasure of your company here at the picnic. Not to mention, you wouldn’t want to release the next edition without a report of how today’s festivities went.”

“Of course not. Honestly, I’m an article or two short this week. I hope something really juicy happens today so I have a good story to add this week.”

Traci smiled across at Ettie. Traci read Ettie’s paper faithfully, in part to enjoy the author’s creative exaggerations of the demise of several of the prominent town figures. More importantly, Traci loved to read the erotic serial stories she printed at the end of each edition. The current tale about a Dom cowboy who spanked his naughty horse trainer was one of Ettie’s hottest stories to date.

Traci must have zoned out thinking of hot cowboys because she was suddenly aware that all eyes had turned to her, waiting expectantly. She blushed under everyone’s scrutiny. “I’m sorry. I think I missed something.”

Ettie responded, her voice high pitched with excitement. “Would you really give me an interview? That would be so awesome.”

Traci had a bad feeling. “Why would you want to interview me?”

Ettie sighed, exasperated. “Chicago. The conference. Weren’t you listening just now when Troy told us about your big conference coming up this week? How impressive that you’re going to deliver one of the keynote speeches! What’s your topic?”

A wave of dread washed over Traci. She’d been doing her best to push down her rising panic over the last few weeks, but the mere mention of the conference she dreaded had her stomach churning. She stumbled through her answer.

“Well… honestly, I’m not sure… I’ve been reconsidering and…” She hated the quaver in her voice. Her eyes connected with Troy’s and she saw concern etched on his face. Traci took a cleansing breath before answering more calmly. “There really isn’t a story here, Ettie. I’ve decided I’m not going to go this year.”

Troy’s brown eyes sparked with anger. The siblings were caught in a stare-down before Troy abruptly stood. “Trace, I’d like to speak with you privately, please.” He was already stepping away from the picnic table, his hand reaching for her own.

“I don’t think so. We just got our food.”

“Traci. Now, please.” It was his HoH voice.

Hallie sent her sister-in-law a supportive smile, although Traci suspected the new bride was relieved to have the conversation swing away from her own potty mouth. Recognizing the firm set of Troy’s jaw, Traci knew it was futile to argue.

*****

Blurb:
Traci Jackson has been a therapist in Corbin’s Bend for several years. She’s helped many residents navigate their own D/s and DD relationships, but she hasn’t found her own HoH. Through her patients, she’s been researching and writing about the dynamics of dominance and submission in relationships for years. She loves her field, but she hates attending professional conventions where she’s treated like her specialty isn’t valid.

Sean Campbell is juggling raising his teenage daughter alone in Chicago while running a large convention hotel. When the annual psychologist convention comes to town, he literally bumps into the most beautiful and intelligent woman he’s met in a long time. He gets the surprise of his life when he finds out her specialty is D/s with an emphasis on corporal punishment.

They may find sparks from the minute they meet, but Traci and Sean have more than just the long distance between Chicago and Corbin’s Bend separating them. Sean has never heard of domestic discipline before. Will Traci pack up and leave Corbin’s Bend to be with the man she’s falling in love with, even if he can never be her true HoH?

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