The Demure Bride(7)

By: Joannie Kay

* * *

"Thanks, son," Matt said automatically when Whitey offered to care for his large white stallion. "How did my girl do today cleaning out Glimmer's stall?"

"She was fit to be tied, but she did a good job, Mr. Chambers." It didn't occur to the younger man to lie or coat the truth. "She even come out here this afternoon and asked me how to take care of her mare. Said she was going to see to her from now on, so I reckon that mucking that stall didn't upset her too much."

"Mandy asked you how to take care of Glimmer?" Matt was pleased.

"Yes sir, she sure did. Don't you worry none, Mr. Chambers. I'll show her what to do and make sure she don't get hurt doin' it," Whitey offered.

"Thanks, Whitey. You're a good man." Matt clapped him on the back and headed for the house and a good supper. If he'd known that taking his feisty daughter over his knee would make such a drastic change for the better he would have done it a lot sooner! Once he'd washed up and Goldie called him to the table he noticed there was no place set for Amanda.

"Where's Mandy?" he asked the silent woman.

Goldie gave him a baleful look that spoke volumes. "Her room."

"We'll be down shortly," he announced and then got to his feet and went upstairs. He knocked on Amanda's door. "Mandy, why aren't you coming down to supper?" he demanded.

The door opened and she looked up at him. "I cannot sit down, Papa," she told him, her cheeks pink with embarrassment. "I am in too much pain to attempt sitting to eat a meal," she explained. "Goldie promised to fix me a tray."

"That is extra work for Goldie, and you ain't sick. Sitting on a sore butt is part of the punishment," he informed her matter-of-factly. "You come down and eat at the table."

"But, it hurts to sit down!" she repeated herself, positive he didn't understand what she was trying to tell him.

"It will hurt even worse if I have to spank you to get you to the table, girl. You don't make extra work for Goldie just because you're sore and it hurts to sit. You come and sit at the table. No more sass on the subject."

Amanda didn't know how she got through the meal. Sitting was pure torture, and her Papa was determined she sit there until he was finished eating, too. Finally, Matt announced he had some bookwork to do and he reminded her that they would be driving over to see Robert Thorne the next morning after breakfast.

Amanda wanted to argue, but she'd given her word and now she had no choice but go and apologize to the odious man. Once she helped Goldie with the dishes, Mandy decided she would go on upstairs and to bed. She certainly wasn't going to sit in the parlor, or at the piano and play as she normally did. How on earth she would survive the buggy seat in the morning was a complete mystery. She asked Goldie if she had any salve or ointment that would help, and the woman brought her a small tin. Mandy thanked her and then went upstairs. Once she undressed, she gingerly applied some of the ointment to her aching backside. To her relief, the burning sensation eased immediately. She crawled into bed and lied on her tummy, contemplating getting even with Robert Thorne.

* * *

Robert Thorne woke with a smile on his handsome face and was pleased to realize he was looking forward to the day. Moving west and buying this ranch had proven to be exactly what he needed to do to take care of the boredom his life had become in England. His parents were both deceased; his two sisters were married and had children to raise; his elder brother barely tolerated his presence as their parents' acknowledged favorite. There was nothing holding him in his native country and when the opportunity rose for him to travel, he did so without hesitation. He'd worked at various jobs as he made his way west, and finally found what made him happy, ranching. Robert had always loved horses, and he took to ranching with a flair. When he was positive he knew enough to make a go of his own place, he purchased land, bought cattle, and worked from sunup to sundown. He had faced the inevitable, a couple of hands he hired decided to test him thinking him a greenhorn, and he sent them packing after he proved to the rest that he was capable of holding his own with the best.

Of course, the livid red mark on his cheek reminded him of his feisty little neighbor and he smiled grimly and wondered if her backside sported a few red marks of its own. He supposed he should have controlled his blasted temper and refrained from venting his fury on her bottom, but the thrashing was long overdue in his opinion. Miss Amanda Chambers had a reputation in the area for being uppity and thinking herself better than other folks. She was certainly foolish for trying to take that jump on her little mare, and her Father should have taken her home and spanked her soundly for risking her fool neck.

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