Scandal – Carole Mortimer

“Move out of the way, you stupid woman, before you are mauled and trampled underfoot!” The world seemed to move in slow motion as Rachel stared at the man who had stepped so suddenly between her and the raging bull pawing at the ground only yards away from where she sat atop her equally terrified horse. A dark-haired and muscular gentleman Rachel did not believe she had ever set eyes on before now. Despite the slowly unfolding disaster in front of her now, only seconds ago, Rachel had been happily enjoying her ride out with her cousin, Clara, and their friend, Rissa Spencer, the daughter of the Duke of Weston, his estate being only five miles from the home of Rachel’s parents. Their last ride together as three single ladies, as Rissa was very shortly to be married. Rachel had no idea where the bull had even come from, but he was suddenly there, coal black and huge, shoulder muscles bunched as he snorted down enormous nostrils, and standing directly in her path. The way in which one of his front hoofs pawed at the ground revealed he was not feeling particularly friendly either. For some reason, as her cousin and Rissa pulled their mounts aside and out of harm’s way, Rachel was unable to move, and she and her horse remained solidly fixed in its path. The animal seemed to take exception to that as it rushed toward her at great speed. Its head was lowered so that it aimed its lethal horns directly at the heaving side of her horse. “Bloody hell, you really are the stupidest woman it has ever been my misfortune to meet!” Rachel was aware of the man’s further admonishment, and of Clara and Rissa’s frantic screams, but she remained solidly unmoving, aware only of her horse trembling beneath her and her own imminent death as the fierce and magnificent bull powered toward her. The man on the ground gave her a fiercely condemning glance as he ripped off his jacket before turning back to face the great and thundering beast. Rachel gasped as the man threw his jacket over the animal’s face once it was close enough, followed by leaping forward and up to grasp and hang upon those lethal horns, the muscles in his arms and back straining as he commenced tackling the enraged bull to the ground. She raised a gloved hand to her mouth as she watched the struggle, the man seeming almost as enraged as the bull as he pulled himself up onto the animal’s back to twist and turn the thrashing animal’s neck until it was finally pulled off balance. The heavy weight of the beast crashing down, seconds later, seemed to actually shake the ground beneath them. Rachel watched in fascination as the man kept his legs wrapped about the bull’s throat, one hand on a vicious-looking horn for balance as he used the other hand to unfasten and pull his belt from the waist of his corduroy trousers.

The animal, sensing defeat, began to thrash again in earnest as the man bent down to bind the belt tightly about the bull’s front legs, successfully preventing it from rising back onto its feet. At which time, the man jumped to his feet and turned the fierceness of his attention back to Rachel. “I have never before met anyone as stupid as you!” he accused as he pulled her unceremoniously down from the saddle to grasp the tops of her arms and shake her. “Do you have no sense at all inside that pretty and vacuous head?” He gave her no opportunity to reply as he proceeded to expand on his opinion of anyone unintelligent enough to remain standing in the path of a stampeding bull rather than move aside as the other ladies had. Rachel was still shaking from her lucky escape, and so surprised by the tonguelashing, that it took her several seconds to realize his verbal admonishment was to be succeeded by a physical one. The man dropped to one knee before pulling her down over the other, throwing up her skirts before proceeding to soundly—literally, as Rachel began to scream—spank her bottom covered only by her white cotton drawers. “How dare you!” Rachel’s indignant outcry rent the air as the man landed blow after blow against her increasingly sensitive flesh. Her humiliation was complete as she saw they were being watched by the obviously shocked and openmouthed Rissa and Clara. “You have no right—” “Considering you almost got me killed as well as yourself, I believe I am well within my rights.” Every second word was punctuated by the man administering another painful smack on her bottom or the tops of her thighs.

Rachel felt the tears falling down her cheeks at the increase in the painful stinging of her flesh. “I hate you!” “The feeling is mutual, brat!” The words were accompanied by an even more painful smack. Rachel turned to glare at him over her shoulder. “I will see you are punished for this outrage!” His nostrils flared as he flipped her over and up until Rachel stood back on her booted feet, before he rose in front of her. At several inches over six feet in height, his shirt revealing muscular shoulders, arms, and chest, he towered over Rachel’s much shorter stature and build. “In that case, perhaps I should leave you to your fate the next time you are in mortal danger.” “Perhaps you should!” She spat the words at him defiantly, hands clenched into fists at her sides. “Ungrateful wretch,” he muttered again, snatching up his jacket from the ground as several farm workers appeared, obviously in search of the disabled but still-snorting bull. “Ladies.” He bowed formally to Rissa and Clara before striding away with not so much as a glance back at Rachel.

Her two friends rushed to Rachel’s side, both speaking at once as they expressed their concern for her at the same time as they apologized for having stood aghast during the gentleman’s physical chastisement. An apology which had not been forthcoming from the gentleman himself. Not then. Nor in any of the weeks that followed

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