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“I…” She paused when he raised one eyebrow, daring her to go against what he’d just said.

She fell silent, biting her lower lip, though he didn’t think that action was based on nerves so much as a way to keep quiet. Silence didn’t come naturally to Penny, now that they’d broken through her shyness around him. And especially not in the past couple weeks, as they’d grown closer. If the woman had a thought, she usually found a way to say it.

He pulled her T-shirt over her head.

Her eyes never left his face, and he could almost imagine her trying to look deeper, as if she could see through his skin and straight to his soul. He had to admit that if anyone could pull off that magic trick, it would be her.

But she was trying to leave him.

His jaw tightened, his teeth clenched.

“Bend over the desk.”

She hesitated again.

Gage gripped her upper arm and moved her into the position he wanted. If he’d had to use serious force to do so, he would have pulled back, would have let her go, but Penny didn’t fight him.

Once she was facedown, she lifted her head, started to look over her shoulder.

“Eyes forward.”

She obeyed. And remained quiet.

Gage slid his fingers beneath the elastic of her practical boy-cut panties, sliding them over her ass and halfway down her thighs. He didn’t push them off completely, leaving them where they were so Penny would feel the constriction around her legs, feel trapped.

He took several deep breaths, trying to cool off. He’d never touched a woman in anger, and he’d be damned if he’d start with Penny.

But she had to learn, had to understand that he wasn’t going to just let her walk away without a word. The fact she’d sent that resume out, after reassuring him she didn’t want to leave the company, hurt more than he cared to admit.

He lightly stroked her bare ass. He loved her ass.

He indulged in just one glancing touch, took another steadying breath, then he lifted his hand and slammed it down hard. Penny’s pale cheek pinkened instantly.

She jerked, but her lack of cry or attempt to rise told him she’d been expecting the spanking.

His hand rose and fell at least ten times, until her ass was dark red, hot to the touch.

Penny didn’t seek to escape him, and more importantly, she didn’t say her safe word.

What she did was so much more detrimental to his state of mind.

She moaned in pleasure then lifted on her toes in order to meet each downswing.

He’d forbidden her to speak, something he was regretting now. Penny never held back when they were together, never failed to tell him with actions—and words—how much she loved what they were doing. He missed that now.

“More?” he asked.

She nodded.

Gage bent over her body, caging her beneath him on the hard, flat surface. “Tell me what you want. In words.”

“You. Hard and fast. And, Gage…” she added.

“Hmmm?” He placed a kiss on her shoulder, unable to help himself despite the fact he’d meant this to be a punishment for her deceit.

“Make it hurt,” she finished in a whisper.

He closed his eyes briefly, praying for strength, for control, for some answer from the gods about what the hell he was supposed to do now. Because he was fucked. Royally.

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