He shook his head and took them, moving inside the kitchen to set them down. When he turned back, she had stopped just inside the doorway. He crooked a finger at her. "Come here."
Her eyes, already large, grew wider as she slowly approached. He reached for her, holding her around the waist with one arm. With the other, he planted a hard swat on her bottom. She shrieked.
"That," he said firmly, "is for leaving the house without telling me. And this," he brought his hand down again," is for doing it the second time. After what happened yesterday in Denver and then in St. Louis, I would have thought you'd know better than to take off without letting me know." He released her, and she took a step backward, rubbing her bottom.
"Ow," she said in a small voice.
Looking at the bags he'd set on the counter, he reached for her. Putting his hands on her waist, he set her up on the kitchen island.
"Look, Emmy, I do appreciate you going and bringing back something to eat. But when I awakened and you were missing, I swear, it took ten years off my life. Can you understand that?"
She nodded. "I'm sorry."
His hands moved to her sides as he leaned forward, shaking his head. "Just don't do it again. All right? I'm utterly serious."
The expression on her face changed suddenly as she tilted her head at him. "Really?"
His own countenance grew wary and his eyes narrowed. "What does that look on your face mean?"
She wiggled forward on the counter and kissed his cheek. "It's nice to have someone worry about me."
His brows knit closer. He took hold of her waist and set her back down so her feet touched the floor, feeling as if he'd lost control of the situation. But she was rifling through the bags now and handed him a package of something, still warm, and a cup of coffee.
When he took it, she gave him a huge smile. Her dimples were showing again.
"Good morning," she said brightly.
"Good morning. Emmy, you do realize—"
"Yes, sir. I do. I won't do it again. There's a bar stool on the other side of the island, if you want to sit down. And there's a potato patty in the bag for you."
He shook his head and moved to sit down. Setting out the other stool next to him, he pointed to it. "Sit."
She shoved her food over in front of the other spot. "I didn't have any eggs, and everyone should have a good breakfast, so I thought..." She frowned at his expression. "Want me to take them back?"
He shook his head. "No, Emmy. I just want to make sure I made an impression on you, that's all. Because if you take off like that again, I'll put you over my knee and spank you."
She blinked up at him, pausing just out of his reach. "But—you said you weren't taking me to raise—I don't understand why I should have to ask permission to leave my own house and run errands."
"I also said I wasn't going to abandon you, if you remember correctly. Your safety is important, and I don't want you taking unnecessary chances with it. Do you understand me?"
Her expression was incredulous.
"No," she said softly. "I don't." She tilted her head. "Last night, when we were talking about Mark, you asked if he'd ever hit me. But you just did."
"What I just did was to give you a swat on the bottom, to get your attention so you'd listen to me. I was hoping it would let you know that I expect you to stay safe. Do you think it was mean?"
She lowered her gaze, thinking. "No, I suppose not."
"Did you think it was unwarranted? Suppose you'd gone off alone and someone had gotten hold of you and taken you?"
Her shoulders sagged, and he lifted her chin so her eyes met his.
"What I just did was for the purpose of keeping you safe. Because damn it, like it or not, I do care an awful lot about what happens to you. Abuse, Emmy, is hitting someone just for the sole purpose of hurting them and for no other reason. Usually, when a person abuses someone, they'll pick on someone smaller and less capable of defending themselves. An abuser does it because it makes them feel power over someone else, not because they cherish them and want to protect them.”
Light dawned in her blue eyes. "Ooh. I see. But you can't possibly cherish me, Jackson. I haven't known you long enough."
He took her wrist and reeled her in closer, sitting her up on the bar stool. "Don't be so sure. Now, eat."
Pippa Greathouse in her own words
An assignment by my elegant and sweet fifth grade teacher was what started it all. The assignment? To write a short story and read it aloud to the class.
Enter a story about a group of fifth grade kids camping in the woods who were attacked by a Grizzly; add body parts everywhere and kids being mauled to death one by one, and pile on top one horrified teacher (Poor Mrs. J!). The kids thought it was cool, however, and I was hooked.
Writing continued throughout Junior and Senior High, in the form of space stories, then spy stories, and by the time I reached high school, had turned into romances! Every year when spring fever hit, I would take my notebook outside at lunchtime, and soak up the sun, and write. Then I would take it home and type it up on onionskin paper, on an old Underwood typewriter (Yes, I know I'm old!)
One day a few years ago while cleaning, I came upon a tote containing a wad of onionskin paper, rolled up. I was delighted to find a story that I had written when I was about eighteen, and thought, "Hmm, I wonder what would happen if I sat down and re-wrote this? And submitted it?”
My favorite Heroine? One with intelligence, integrity, courage, and firm determination. I love to have the heroine and hero ‘make a difference’ in the surroundings and lives of others in the story.
And needless to say, my favorite hero is an "Alpha male" who loves his woman to distraction, but is smart (yes, in my opinion, smart is extremely sexy!) stern, and willing to be as strict as necessary to protect her from danger, even danger from herself.
Connect with Pippa Greathouse
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Pippa-Greathouse/e/B01MY1AWFG/
Facebook Author page: www.facebook.com/pippagreathouse
More exciting titles from Pippa Greathouse:
Pike’s Bluff series
Double-Takes (book 1)
The Strasburg Chronicles (5 Book Series)
Angelica’s Rescuer: Book one
Merrie’s Hero: Book two
Cinderella’s Lawman: Book three
The Return of Lucy Grace: Book four
Macie’s War: Book five
Standalone Time Travel Romance
Time for Change
Strasburg, the New Generation