I'll be posting a brand spanking new story which is a continuation of the adventures of Ben and Darcy from Twenty One Days To a Better Attitude. Ben and Darcy have a pretty contentious relationship, which is so much fun to write. Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Darcy Hughes has her life tightly under control, at least until Ben Dawson moves in next door. Ben’s attempts to be friendly are quickly rebuffed. He calls her out on her rude behavior and suggests that a good spanking will cure her bad attitude.
In anticipation of my Love Spanks story I thought I'd post an excerpt from Twenty One Days to get us all in the mood. Here's a little bit about how they met.
Week One, Saturday
When the house next door went up for sale, Darcy hoped it would stay empty for a long time. She wasn’t fond of neighbors and all their waving and chit-chatting and sugar-borrowing. If she’d had the money, Darcy would have built a tall fence around her house, front and back. Or maybe a moat.
Within a week, the “for sale” sign was replaced with a “sold” sign. What about the sluggish housing market? Darcy thought.
For several days there was no activity at the house and she hoped it would stay that way.
No such luck. At seven a.m. on the following Saturday, moving trucks started rolling in. Darcy was awakened by the “beep, beep, beep” of their back-up warning system.
She grabbed her robe and headed out the front door. The neighbor ground rules needed to be set from the very beginning. You let someone bring in moving trucks early on a weekend morning, and the next thing you know, they’re out with their snow blowers, lawn mowers, and chain saws at all hours of the day and night. Some people greeted new neighbors with a plate of cookies. Darcy used a restraining order.
She marched up to the moving truck, tying her robe as she went, and knocked on the door. “Who’s in charge here?” she demanded.
The driver looked her up and down then pointed to a man standing in the yard who appeared to be directing the movers. Darcy turned her attention on him. “Are you aware,” she asked “that there is a noise ordinance in this town?”
The man was wearing broken-in jeans, boots, and a dark shirt with the cuffs turned back. He gave the movers a couple more instructions, then looked at Darcy.
And then he really pissed her off. He smiled.
Did he not see that she was angry? Did her tone not imply that he was in the wrong and ought to apologize? Perhaps he’s feeble minded, she thought. What other explanation could there be?
“You must be my neighbor,” he said and extended his hand to her. “I’m Bennett Dawson. My friends call me Ben.”
Darcy ignored his hand. “Everyone calls me Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Hughes.”
“Oh, a career gal. That’s nice.”
“Career gal? I’ll have you know that I have a four year college degree, plus three years of law school, where I graduated with distinction, and eight years of experience in the county prosecutor’s office. I’m not some 1950s woman who earns pin money down at the five and dime.”
Ben seemed unaffected by her rant, and she saw the corner of his mouth twitch as though he was stifling a smile. “Thanks for the clarification.” His green eyes did a slow appraisal of her robe-clad body and then the smile blossomed. “I need to get back to unpacking. I’m sure we’re going to be great neighbors.” He turned his back to her and went into the house.
Darcy stared after him then heard the snickers of the moving men. She glared at them and stomped back to her house. She slammed the door to emphasize her point.
Her law school diploma crashed to the floor.
After she cleaned up the mess, she spent the rest of her morning harrumphing around her house and sneaking peaks out the window at the progress her new neighbor was making on his move. At one point, she saw several pieces of fine art being carried in. She was caught off guard by the idea that this heathen could have some bit of refined taste. Probably reproductions, she told herself. Or maybe they had just come with the frames. She giggled at that one, but the laughter died when Ben gave her a jaunty wave. She yanked the curtains closed and got into the shower.
Eventually the moving trucks left and Darcy settled in for an evening of Cheetos and chick flicks. A sudden knock at the door startled her and she dropped her snack bowl.
Crunchy orange fingers of cheesy goodness littered her floor. She wiped her hands on her sweat pants and went to see who had interrupted her evening.
Ben, freshly showered and smelling of soap, was standing on the porch with a pizza in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. “I’m sorry for disturbing you this morning,” he said. “I thought maybe we could start our acquaintance over again.”
“That really won’t be necessary.” Darcy began to close the door. “Because I don’t intend for us to be acquaintances.”
Ben’s foot in the door prevented her from closing it as she’d hoped.
“Now you’re trespassing.”
He stepped into her living room. “If I’m trespassing, I might as well do it all the way.”
“What do you think you’re doing?” Darcy watched dumbfounded as he made his way around the Cheetos, deposited the pizza on the coffee table and then headed for the kitchen.
“I haven’t unpacked my wine glasses or corkscrew,” he said over his shoulder while he busied himself in her kitchen. “I thought we could use yours.”
“We aren’t having wine. We aren’t having pizza. You are leaving.” Darcy gave him her best indignant look.
Ignoring her, Ben looked through the drawers in the kitchen until he found a corkscrew. He opened and shut cupboards, found wine glasses and plates, and returned to the living room to pour a glass of wine for each of them.
Darcy was still standing at the open front door. Ben handed her a glass of red wine and clinked the edge of his with hers. “To new neighbors,” he said.
She poured her glass of wine over his head.
Nonplussed, Ben picked up a white cashmere throw that was draped across the back of the couch and used it to wipe the wine from his face and hair.
“Get. Out. Of. My. House,” she hissed at him.
Ben tossed the now-tie-dyed throw back onto the couch. Despite herself, Darcy was impressed by his calm. Impressed and infuriated by it.
“It would appear,” he replied, his voice soft and even, “that despite your many years of education and professional acclaim, you have yet to learn good manners.”
“There is nothing wrong with my manners.” Darcy spat the words at him. “I should think that someone who barges in where he’s unwanted and then makes himself at home despite the obvious wish of his hostess that he should leave and who then,” Darcy pointed at the cashmere throw “ruins expensive items in the house, is the one who needs to learn some manners.”
The corners of Ben’s mouth twitched again. “If my friendliness has offended you, then I apologize.” He turned to gather up the food.
“Friendliness? You’re just short of a stalker!”
If you want to read the rest of this story, you can buy Twenty One Days To A Better Attitude here. And be sure to come back for Love Spanks to read about Ben and Darcy's first Valentine's Day together. I can promise that it won't be all hearts, flowers and stuffed teddy bears.