Peter loved Kate with all his being, but that didn't mean he'd tolerate an ultimatum from her.For Sunday's Six of the Best, we share six paragraphs from a published work or a WIP (work in progress).
My submission for this week is from my 5th book, Acting Lessons, loosely based on the story of Kiss Me Kate.
He was a strict and demanding college professor turned professional director who excelled at giving acting lessons. She was his shy and uncertain former student who became a professional actress under his tutelage. They fell in love, married, and won two Tony Awards before tragedy struck and a simple kiss ripped them apart.
After a six month separation, Peter Thorton decides to take matters into his own hands by making his famous wife, Kate, an offer she wouldn't refuse. Plainly put, he wants her back and he intends to do whatever is necessary to achieve his goal, even if it means giving his stubborn, willful leading lady a daily reminder over his knee that she promised to obey him.
In this scene, which occurs early in the first chapter, Peter Thorton, seated comfortably in an agent's office, is attempting to convince his wife, Kate, to give their marriage a second chance by signing her to appear with him in a College Summer Stock production of "Kiss Me Kate." Kate isn't sure she can trust Peter with her heart again, since she believes he's been unfaithful to her, but she's never stopped loving him. And though Domestic Discipline originally played a part in their marriage, their last two years together had them living like polite strangers sharing the same house.
Peter realizes he made a mistake in letting Kate do as she pleased, so he's determined to rectify matters immediately by informing his famous wife that if she keeps acting like a brat, he will turn her over his knee. Furious, Kate makes the mistake of challenging her husband, so he proves to her his threats are no longer idle.
The spanking provides an emotional release for Kate, and she ends up crying in Peter's arms. Once she gets herself under control, Kate attempts to apologize, but Peter cuts her off with a kiss then informs her he wants them to have dinner together. Feeling cornered. Kate informs him she has a previous engagement she is not willing to cancel, but Peter presses until finally Kate grows petulant. When she complains that he can't just turn her over his knee whenever she disagrees with him, he warns her he won't hesitate to do whatever is necessary to improve her attitude if she continues to be snippy with him. Realizing this was an argument she couldn't win, Kate backs down. Though Peter is willing to meet her halfway, he still insists things are going to change between them, and when Kate asks him how, he answers by taking care of her. She complains that she finds his methods to be nothing short of bullying sometimes.
He tilted her chin so she had to look at him. "I may not always say the right thing or play the smitten suitor, but I never want you to feel bullied or threatened by my words or actions. I want to take care of you, Kate. Make sure you eat properly, and go to bed at a reasonable hour. Surely that's not being too despotic."
"It's not the time I go to bed that's the problem," she admitted, then winced at her confession. She'd always been a worrier, and would occasionally work herself up until she abandoned any pretense of sleep. In their early years together, Peter would insist she talk to him, and based on her issue, he'd find ways to distract her. That changed at the end of their marriage when rather than demand, he'd inquire politely whether he could do anything. She'd wanted to yell at him to treat her the way he used to. Be firm with her, talk to her, make love to her, but she'd shake her head, so he'd go back to bed and leave her alone.
"Are you having trouble sleeping again?" he asked with concern.
She regarded him carefully. "Sometimes."
He pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "We'll discuss this later. Once we uncover what's keeping you awake, I'll determine the best way to calm and relax you and you will start getting proper rest. Understood?"
She'd missed him so much, but she couldn't face such terrible heartache again. Tears stinging her eyes, she shook her head. "This is a mistake, Peter. We had our chance, and blew it. You should--"
Kate pushed, so Peter pulled. Temporarily reconciled, Kate has to decide whether to give into his wishes or stand firm so he doesn't think she's lost her backbone. In a case of push and pull, something has to give.
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