Happy New Year WIPItUP Happy New Year, Everyone! I hope your holidays are going well thus far.

It may be winter here, but for our ladies in Corbin’s Bend, it’s still summer, and they are still getting to know each other. When we last left them, Cadence, Julie, Venia, and Lainie were settling down for coffee, scones, and conversation. In due course of things, it is revealed that Cadence’s husband doesn’t want her having caffeine. If you missed it, you can find that snippet here. Today’s excerpt picks up from that conversation.

“So do you not want coffee then?” Lainie asked uncertainly.

Cadence hesitated, her gaze wavering between the empty cup and her sleeping baby.

“It’s your butt,” Venia told her.

Cadence sighed. “I better not,” she said regretfully. “Marcus doesn’t want me having caffine while I’m still nursing.”

Lainie nodded. “Unfortunately, I don’t have much to offer you. I have water and milk.”

“Water is fine,” Cadence said, still looking longingly at the coffee pot. “Why do men have to be so unreasonable about pregnancy?” She asked. “Women have been having babies for hundreds of years. If we were half as fragile as they act like we are, the species would have never survived.”

“I hear you,” Julie said. “Matt was the same way, all three times. You’d think they would get better after the first child, but it really doesn’t.”

“It brings out their protective instincts,” Venia said. “My husband was the same when Cecily was born, and of course you know our men are going to be worse about it than your average guy on the street. They already have stronger than usual protective instincts.”

“They do?” Lainie asked curiously. She passed Cadence a glass of water and sat down with them, taking a scone from the plate and breaking it open. It was true that Grant was the protective type. He always had been, but he was a cop. She’d always thought that just came with the territory.

“Oh yes,” Venia said. “In my experience, men who are drawn to this type of relationship tend to be very protective. I would imagine many of them would tell you that satisfying that protective instinct is one of the things that draws them to it, at least for those on the HOH side of things.” Both Julie and Cadence were nodding in agreement.

That was a novel thought. Lainie had always assumed it was about control. Grant wasn’t happy with the way that things were going in their household so he had decided to step in and take charge. At the time, she had been exhausted and more than willing to let someone else take over. Besides, if he thought he could do a better job, he was welcome to it. Had Grant actually been trying to protect her in some way?

Part of her bristled at the thought, she wasn’t a child in need of an adult to protect her. She was a grown woman and more than capable of handling herself. Another far deeper and quieter part of her liked the idea though. She’d had precious little protection and care in her life, having had to fend for herself for nearly as long as she could remember. That quiet hidden part of her would like nothing better than to let someone else take care of her for a while, but could she do that without sacrificing her independence.

She realized abruptly that the conversation around the table had gone quiet and the other women were watching her closely. She scrambled through the various tangled thoughts in her head, searching for something – anything – she could say. Finally, she grasped onto the most urgent question in her mind, blurting it out without thought. “Were you serious?” she asked Cadence. “Your husband would spank you for drinking coffee?” In the moment of silence that followed, Lainie realized suddenly that she had asked a virtual stranger an intensely personal question. “I’m sorry,” she stammered, face flaming with embarrassment. “I shouldn’t have said that. It’s none of my business.”

While Lainie is trying to pry that food out of her mouth, go check out the other offerings. If you are celebrating tonight, have fun, but please, above all, be safe.