“I’m too old to be spanked!” I cried.
Walker didn’t relent, spanking me consistently, his palm landing in different places on my bottom and the tops of my thighs. “You’re too old for lies, as well.”
I winced as he spanked where my bottom met my thighs. A tender spot, I cried out. He was not going to stop. I thought of Carl Norman and how he’d made my life hell in Texas and then he’d followed me. He wasn’t going to go away. He was the one following me, pestering me, and I was the one being spanked. It was unfair. All of it. I cried then, for the pain was enough to push me over.
Tears coursed down my cheeks as Walker continued.
“What the hell?” Luke’s voice boomed in the kitchen. I felt the cold air come in behind him just before he shut the back door. He stomped his feet on the mat there and I could see his boots and lower legs from my upturned position.
“Celia’s been a naughty girl and lying to us.”
His tone held disappointment and that had my tears falling even faster.
“I’m sorry,” I mumbled.
Slowly, Walker lifted me to my feet, holding onto my hips as I settled. With him sitting, we were the same height and I looked into his dark eyes. They held infinite amounts of patience, but also concern.
“We are very possessive and I will not have a man following you, watching you like that.”
I wasn’t going to be able to escape. The truth would have to come forth. There would be no more running, at least from my husbands.
“His name is Carl Norman.”
Walker’s hand came up and he wiped the tears from my cheeks with his thumb. “That wasn’t so hard, was it? Why was he on the street in Denver watching you?”
The corner of his mouth tipped up.
Luke went around the table so he could see me. “Who the hell is Carl Norman? A lover?”
My gaze met and held Luke’s. “No! Of course not. The idea of that man touching me makes my skin crawl.”
Walker pulled me into him so I stood between his parted knees. “Has he touched you before? Hurt you?” His voice was a dark growl.
I shook my head and bit my lip. “No. It’s not like that.”
“Explain. Now. Or you’ll go over my knee,” Luke warned.
“I told you my husband was shot. That he was in bed with his mistress. The woman’s husband found them together and killed them both.” I remembered what happened, shivered. “What I didn’t tell you was that I saw the whole thing.”
Neither man spoke, but Walker squeezed my waist to urge me on.
I sniffed, then continued. “I’d come in while they were… fucking and went into the room next door. I peeked through the partially open doorway and watched them. I’d been stunned to see my husband be so vigorous, so wild in bed. He’d never been like that with me. But then the woman’s husband came storming in the house, up the steps and shot them. He never knew I was there. As the only witness to the crime, it was my testimony that sealed his conviction. He was hung soon after.”
“If he was hung, then who the hell followed you?” Luke asked.
I was learning he was not as patient as his brother.
“His brother. Carl Norman blames me for his brother’s death. That I should have been a better wife and pleased John. If I’d done that, then he wouldn’t have strayed.”
“That’s why you were skittish with us,” Walker added.
I nodded and looked down at the floor. “I knew how John really liked to fuck and yet he only pushed up my nightgown and… and took me at night. It was quick and I didn’t like it. There was no pleasure in it and when I didn’t give him a child, he gave up entirely. But he did things with his mistress that… God, that I would have done with him. But I hadn’t pleased him. There’s something wrong with me because I didn’t make him happy and he did stray.”
“Stop.” Walker’s one word cut off my frustrated outpouring. “There is nothing wrong with you. If your husband wasn’t already dead, I’d kill him myself for making you think this way.”
“Damn straight. We’ll talk about that later, trust me. For now, this Norman fucker. Why is he in Denver?”
I put my hand on Walker’s shoulder, felt the hard plane of muscle beneath my fingers. “He threatened me. In Texas, he grabbed me about the throat, said he was going to kill me. He wanted revenge for what I did to his brother.”
“And so you fled.”
I nodded. “Yes. I had no money to leave on my own so I applied to be a mail order bride.”