Dawn can’t stand the thought of going home for Christmas, so when she sees an ad offering room and board to a college student in exchange for dog-sitting, she jumps at the chance. When she meets the handsome dog owner, Mark, her inner submissive swoons, and she’s excited to spend winter break with him and his dog, Billy. But try as she might, she can’t hide from her family forever, and when they get in touch, she goes out drinking.

Mark, the newest doctor on staff at the campus clinic, has to work long hours which doesn’t leave room for a relationship. He doesn’t even have time to take care of his own dog. Once a month, he goes to a local BDSM club and plays with a submissive in a setting where emotional attachments aren’t needed. Even though he’s attracted to his new roommate, he tells himself that she’s off limits, because he never really got over his first submissive, Noah.

Noah is having a night out at a gay bar with his friend, when he stumbles across a young woman named Dawn throwing up in the bathroom. He soon finds out that Dawn is there alone, and decides to help her get home. But when he learns that Dawn is living with his old dominant, Noah decides to drive her home himself, hoping to heal some old wounds. Will the confrontation that follows send them all on a path of further destruction? Or can the three of them find a path toward a Christmas together filled with love, acceptance, and joy?

Publisher’s Note: This steamy contemporary romance contains a theme of power exchange.

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Excerpt

Mark’s left hand rested on her lower back, while the right rested on the center of her backside. “We haven’t known each other for very long, but I don’t appreciate being lied to under any circumstances, and I don’t appreciate you hiding things from me. From this point forward, I expect honesty. Is that understood?”

Being lectured while waiting to be spanked brought an additional level of mortification.

“Yes,” she answered, but it was almost a whisper.

“Good.” He patted her bottom. “Let’s make sure you remember.”

She tensed, knowing it was coming. The first smack elicited a surprised gasp. It wasn’t a playful love-tap, but it also wasn’t horribly painful. It stung uncomfortably, but it was tolerable.

Billy ran out of the room and hid under the kitchen table at the noise.

Dawn wasn’t given much time for reflection before the next spank landed just below the first, catching some of both cheeks at once.

That one elicited a tiny, “Ow.”

She tensed, expecting another swat, but none came. Just as her shoulders started to relax, another firm smack landed on the right.

“Ow!” Her right foot came up off the couch, and before it had a chance to kick back down, a matching swat landed on her left cheek.

“Ow!” she exclaimed again as her foot kicked the couch cushion.

Mark rubbed the spots he’d hit and said, “Let’s get those feet on the floor.” He shifted himself and her at the same time to a sideways position, so her upper half was on the couch, but her legs hung off his lap with her socked feet touching the carpeted floor.

She gave a vulnerable little whine at the new position that seemed to accentuate her bottom as a target.

A sharp spank landed on the right side where her ass and thigh met.

“Ah!” Both her feet came off the floor and her hands balled into fists. This wasn’t the fun time she’d always envisioned when being across a dominant’s knees.

A matching spank landed on the left.

“Ow! That really hurts!” she complained as her feet kicked the floor a couple of times.

His hand rubbed out the sting, and his voice was gentle but firm as he asked, “Are you thinking about what you did to deserve a spanking, Dawn?”

Her body tensed. “No?”

“Tell me why I’m spanking you,” he ordered.

Tears sprung to her eyes. “Because I lied.”

“That’s right.”

His hand stopped rubbing and started spanking. The swats weren’t as hard as before, but he didn’t stop after the first two. While his hand moved up and down and side to side like a stingy little metronome, he lectured. “Lying is unacceptable behavior. I don’t tolerate lies from my friends and certainly not from my submissives. From this point forward, you are going to be honest with me. If I find out that you’ve lied to me again, you will find yourself right back over my knee getting your bottom spanked. Is that clear?”

Dawn’s feet were kicking, her hips were rocking side to side trying to avoid his hand, and tears were running down her face. A long, whiny “Ooooww,” came out of her while he lectured. She didn’t catch everything he said, but she understood the message behind it. “Yes! Yes, Sir!” she answered, while reaching her arm back and trying to cover as much of her burning backside as possible by splaying her hand.

Mark made a tsking sound above her. “I thought we were done, but this makes me think we’re not.” He lightly smacked the back of her hand and she jerked it away.

“No,” she whined. “I’m sorry.”

His hand started rubbing the sting out. “Okay then,” he said softly. “If you’re sorry, then we’re all done, and you’re forgiven.”

Those words brought on new tears.

The hand moved from her bottom to her back to rub, and his voice took on a lower almost sexy tone. “You were such a good girl for me.”

Her body shuddered as the praise ran through her entire being.

“I’m turning you over,” he warned, before his hands lifted her.

She gasped in surprise, even though he’d warned her, and quickly found her upper half snuggled against his chest while her stinging bottom rested on his thighs. She grasped his shirt in both hands and leaned her forehead against his chest.

“There we go. You took your punishment very well,” he said. “I’m proud of you for going through with it, and I know you’re going to be a good girl and tell me the truth from now on.”

The tears were still leaking, but they were tears of relief and joy. Joy that it was over, but also joy that she’d gone through with it. Hearing him tell her she’d done well, soothed all of her raw emotions, and a feeling of contentment and happiness washed over her.