Daisy Abbott is an author as eccentric as she is successful. She’s also used to a certain rhythm when it comes to her writing: she sits at her desk, the hero speaks, she writes. Book done. After all, that’s how she wrote thirty titles and she doesn’t expect anything to be different during the working of her thirty-first manuscript. Daisy is convinced the protagonist of her newest book isn’t speaking to her and when he appears in the flesh to challenge her, she is transported to his time and place to better understand things from his perspective. The question is, whose story is it?
Daisy hated to admit that she was worried. After William’s “bloody intrusive oratorical probe,” as she’d shouted and subsequently spit on him, he had disappeared. Not even in a way that was entirely explanative, either. If she were in a science fiction story, she imagined William might have dissolved into particles and returned to whatever realm of existence he had hailed. Nope. William just disappeared. One minute he was there, the next he wasn’t. Daisy was now frowning as she walked in a figure eight shape in the space between her living room and the banker’s desk. Her bare feet on the concrete flooring were cold compared to the curious sense of warmth her body had felt that morning. Was he coming back? Not that she cared, of course. It had been over an hour and there was no indication of him returning, but she hadn’t done much writing when he was there anyway.
“Bugger it.” She broke the figure eight shape and slapped her feet against the floor in a disgruntled fashion as she pulled the chair out and plopped down. “I’ll bloody write without you. You’ve not done me any good anyway.” Her fingers slapped against the keys as she typed in her password. The screen lit up and she scrolled past the title page to ‘Chapter One’ and the few sentences beneath it. “Right.”
His name was William. Aside from the very plain fact he was besotted with the King’s daughter, William knew nothing about love. He only knew he had to have Georgina, because he knew she was love.
Daisy raised an eyebrow, placed her hands on the keys and continued. He was also a hopeless romantic who spent much of his time sighing over the oil painting of Georgina that hung in his family’s living quarters. His father was loyal to the throne, like his father before him, and being the son of a Baron meant that whilst they were not royalty, they were the highest social class one could get under the throne.
“My father is a Duke, not a Baron.”
“That’s nice,” Daisy replied, without looking up. She was secretly relieved he’d returned, although she would do nothing to show it.
“I am not a hopeless romantic.”
“You are whatever I say that you are.” She carried on typing but was caught by surprise when her chair was suddenly pulled backward a good five feet when William took hold of it. He then walked between her and the desk and crouched down.
“And you are an author without a story.” His eyes were serious and they carried that same conviction as right before he’d delivered an annoyingly arousing round of smacks to her bottom earlier that morning.
“I do have a story and if you kindly remove yourself from blocking my light-up air-box, I will finish it.”
“I think you have misunderstood. I am not Fabio.” He rose to his full height and once against picked Daisy up and put her over his shoulder.
“Bleeding hell. Must we really do this again?” She planted her chin in the palm of her hand and rested her elbow against his back with a sigh.
“We will repeat it until you understand that I am not now, nor will I ever be, a Spanish pirate. Nor am I one of your rugged American cowboys with their chests inappropriately glistening in the high-noon heat. I am the son of a Duke, a nobleman, and I love the King’s daughter, Georgina.” He carried her to the bedroom and got little more out of her than eye rolling. “I don’t know how your other heroes have dealt with you, but this is my story and my turn to get through to you.”
“Ha!” Daisy mused. “Your story! Fancy that. A protagonist coming out of the story to boss the author around.”
William put her down onto her unmade bed and bent down to meet her eyes intentionally. “Why is it that you women must consistently change your minds?” He searched her eyes. “One moment you wish for me to direct you and the very next you require no assistance.”
Daisy cleared her throat gently. “I did ask you to come, but you have proved to be entirely too bossy to work with.”
“Perhaps it is just that you expect me to be like all the others.”
“Fabio liked port, cigars, and afternoon lovemaking,” she replied sarcastically.
“And I like a woman to listen when I speak to her.” He stood to his full height and used his hand to indicated she was to turn around on the bed.”
“You’re going to attack my vulnerable flesh with your cast-iron skillet of a hand, again?”
“No. I have returned with something that will hopefully get full attention.”
“Really? I would have thought it was attached to you.”
William unbuttoned his suit jacket and removed a riding crop from a tall, inside pocket just as Daisy looked over her shoulder. He obviously missed the remark.
“No. No, no, no. I don’t write BDSM. I don’t do riding crops.”
“I’ve no idea to what you are referring, but I advise you to remain still, Miss Daisy. You are running out of time.” He took her by the shoulders and turned her onto her stomach and then backed up.
“What about you?” She looked over her shoulder. “Don’t you have dinner to dress for, or a peasant to collect land tax from?”
“You really must do your research. That is neither my responsibility nor will it be after I marry Georgina.”
“In my story, you don’t get Georgina.”
William bent down and spoke into her ear. “I think you will find that I do.” He slowly rose again to full height. “By the way, you will need to unfasten that garment.”
“Not willingly, Mr. Protagonist.”
William raised an eyebrow. “Very well. I shall have to do it for you.”
“Oh no, not that,” she replied, lamely. “No. Don’t. Stop. Oh dear, they’re down.” Daisy was enjoying her own nonchalance entirely. “Bloody hell!” She exclaimed after the first stroke across her bare skin. It didn’t really hurt, but it sure stung.
He whacked her again. “Speaking to you has been in vain my dear lady and I find this is the only way either of us may move on.” Another swat from the crop landed.
“Then why did you leave earlier?”
He wacked her again. “Your tongue was very sharp and your saliva had no business projecting onto my coattails,” was the only reply he offered. Daisy had been sharp with him. She was often that way with people when at the end of her rope. When William challenged her about husbands and homes and hearts, Daisy spit on him. He’d promptly disappeared (for an hour) and returned with the riding crop.
“Were you this difficult with your other heroes?”
“They aren’t Georgian Englishmen, so to them I wasn’t difficult. I was pleasantly and wildly shrewd and in need of taming.”
“Of which very little taming seems to have occurred.” William aimed the crop and let another couple of strokes fall on her in succession. “This is how the next three days will go, Miss Daisy. I will speak, you will write.” He emphasised the point with another stroke of the riding crop. “There will be no more drinking.” He whacked her again. “Swearing.” Whack! “Or interference.” The next ten strokes flew across her bottom before she could try to recall what he’d just ordered. Daisy’s shoulders were now pulled upward as if she were huddling closer to the bed. “Am I made quite clear?”
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