A Special Gift for Her Cowboy
"Maybe we could get away for a few days? Take a four-day weekend." Christina stepped out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around her and glanced toward the bed where Joshua was pulling on his work boots. "I'm sure I could get the time off, especially with it being so close to Christmas."
The man she still craved every time she looked at him even after five years of marriage barely glanced at her. Once he would have walked to her with heat in his eyes and torn the towel off her and then... Today he just went back to what he was doing. Her heart sank, pinched and heavy. Her stomach tightened. Tears threatened, as they had been doing a lot lately. She was sick to death of feeling so much frustration. She turned back into the bathroom to finish getting ready for work.
"Can't, darlin', and you know it." He sounded as if he were chastising a child for begging for a new toy. "This has been a crazy month with half my men taking time off to go be with their families for the holiday. I'm needed here more than ever."
Christina leaned against the vanity, bracing her hands and squeezing her eyes shut. Disappointment curled through her. She wasn't a child wanting something she didn't really need. She wanted something a woman had every right to desire: time and attention from her husband. She battled down the urge to stomp her foot in anger, to snap back at him in protest.
Instead, she swallowed her hurt and said, "I understand."
There had been a time when she'd felt as important to him as his ranch. Over the last few months she'd begun to feel as if she were only another burden for him to bear. The ranch had suffered from the bad economic times like every other business. He'd had to lay off three good men, and she knew he struggled to keep the remaining six ranch hands. She'd gone back to being a secretary, a job she'd never liked, but she'd wanted to help out. She didn't resent having to do it, but she missed being a stay-at-home wife and doing more around the ranch.
She knew Joshua didn't like her going off to work every day in Colorado Springs, either. His ego had taken some bruising when it had become necessary. Somewhere along the line he'd stopped being the easy-going, good-humored man she'd married. His smiles were a rare thing anymore. The long hours he'd spent loving her late into the night were not much more than a fond memory now.
"I'll be going into the city this afternoon to get some supplies." He stepped into the doorway, frowned at her as their reflections met in the mirror. "Are you pouting about us not being able to get away?"
She raised her chin. "Not really, but I am disappointed." She waited for him to respond to her lie; they both knew she had been pouting.
He looked at her for several long seconds, but finally heaved a sigh and backed away. "Life's full of frustrations and sometimes we just have to deal with them."
He didn't even give her a good-bye kiss before he planted his worn Stetson on top of his in-need-of-a-trim blond hair. "I'll be late getting back. I'm meeting some old friends at Pete's Bar tonight."
"You've got time for them...but not me." The bitter words came out before she could stop them. She knew they weren't fair. He worked hard. He worked from before sun-up to long after sundown most of the time. But she missed him.
Still bent over the vanity and looking at him in the mirror, she blinked in surprise as he walked into the bathroom. He shoved the towel up over her bare bottom with one hand and smacked her hard once with his other hand. Then he strode away without another word.
The single swat stung, but she savored it. He hadn't taken the time to warm her bottom in months. Not that she liked getting spanked, but at least when he did spank her, she had his undivided attention for that short amount of time.
In truth, he'd hardly touched her for more than a quick kiss in a good three weeks. She hadn't gotten a kiss this morning either, but at least he'd touched her. She'd have to do some thinking, some planning, but one way or another she was going to get her husband's fully focused attention on her by Christmas, which was only a week away.