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My contribution: Trusting Daddy
Tessa Patterson is all alone in the world. But she’s never felt it as keenly until now, when her horse is playing up at the rodeo.
Enter Caine Foster, the cowboy she’s idolized for years. He helps her, claims her, and makes her his own, commanding her submission in ways she never would have imagined.
“No, don’t do this to me!” Tessa begged the big gelding straining at the end of the rope. “Just this one time, please stand still!”
She was so tense her whole body was tight. Her heart pounded so hard she figured Thunder, her jet black gelding, could probably hear it. This day was so important to her, the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. And Thunder was ruining it. He was picking the worst possible time to play up. Right now, she missed her father more than anything.
“Settle down!” she yelled at her prancing horse, but it didn’t help. In fact, it made things worse. Thunder reared straight up on his back legs, striking out with his forelegs, something he hadn’t done in ages, nearly ripping the rope out of her hands. She screamed in fear and sprang back, holding the rope right at the very end. Why was he doing this to her today, of all days? Didn’t he know this day was the reason they’d been running barrels at home for hours on end, wearing a cloverleaf pattern into the grass that probably wouldn’t grow back any time soon? She was shaking, more in anger than anything else. Thunder knew better than to do this.
Stretching as far as she could, her fingertips just reached the whip tucked inside the horse float. Thunder needed to be taught a lesson. No way was he going to keep playing up like this. Not today. She was in charge here, not Thunder. It was about time he remembered that.
Shortening the rope, she raised the whip. Thunder showed the whites of his eyes and began to pull. Just before she lashed the whip down, strong arms wrapped around from behind her, wrenching both the rope and the whip from her grasp. Tessa stood there, shaking and seething with rage, while a cowboy she could only see from the back expertly, patiently, calmed her horse.
“Whoa, buddy.” The deep voice was quiet, soothing, and Thunder responded.
The cowboy had dropped the whip, holding the lead rope just below Thunder’s halter in his left hand and running his right hand down the sleek black neck now lightly coated with sweat. Thunder was snorting, but the cowboy persevered, speaking softly, calmly, and the horse stopped moving. Gradually, he relaxed. But Tessa didn’t. She continued to shake, close to tears, as waves of guilt and desperation racked her body. Why had she thought she would be able to do this? It was stupid of her to even try.
Her eyes blurred with tears as the cowboy tied a now calm Thunder up to the side of the horse float and turned around. She gasped. Caine Foster! He’d won three all-round national championship titles and she’d idolised him for years. OMG. Of all the people she had to make a fool of herself in front of… of all the people to be incompetent and unable to control her horse in front of… she wanted the ground to open up and swallow her whole. She turned away. No way could she look at him.
At every rodeo she’d ever been to over the years, Caine had competed. She couldn’t remember ever seeing him get bucked off. Although she’d been too shy to actually approach him and speak to him, she’d followed him on social media and spent hours poring over photos of him. And now here he was, in the flesh, just metres away from her. The timing, the circumstances, could not be worse. She was such an idiot.
Tessa froze as strong arms wrapped around her from behind. They felt very much like the same arms that had wrapped around her earlier. Caine. Her heart pounded.
“You know, he’s big and powerful enough to hurt you, but he chooses not to. Why would you take advantage of that?” a deep, sexy voice murmured in her ear. She’d never heard his voice before, but it fitted the image she had of him; it matched that rugged, masculine cowboy she’d seen ride and ogled over social media.
“I don’t know,” she whispered. “He just wouldn’t stand still! I couldn’t even brush him, let alone get the saddle on, and I’m in the local barrel race soon…” She choked on her breaking voice. The strong arms pulled her closer, a thumb ran up and down her arm, soothing her.
“Let me help you.”
They stood there like that for ages with Caine’s strong body against her, reassuring her, and slowly her racing heart steadied and her rapid breathing slowed. When she was calm, the cowboy holding her let her go and walked around to stand in front of her. She didn’t want to look at him, but he extended his hand toward her, giving her no choice.
“I don’t think we introduced ourselves,” his deep voice rumbled. “I’m Caine Foster.” He winked, and she nearly melted.
“Tessa Paterson.” She took the hand he offered. His hand was calloused and his grip firm. She couldn’t help but smile as he met her eye.
“Nice to meet you, Tessa. Now, how about we get this horse of yours here ready to ride?” He held her hand for a second more, his piercing stare seeming to search her very soul, before he let her go.
“Thank you,” she murmured.
Caine was around the other side of her horse and she couldn’t see his face when he spoke again.
“You should be spanked for considering mistreating your horse like that.” His growly voice was quiet, and a wee bit muffled by Thunder’s body. Shivers ran down Tessa’s spine. She hadn’t heard him correctly, surely. But if she had… she quivered in excitement.
At the same time, she had a flash of guilt and shame. Even before she’d picked up the whip, she’d known it was a bad idea, but she’d done it anyway. It was so unlike her, something she’d never done before, and likely would never do again, but she was desperate.
“I know,” she admitted, her voice small. “But I didn’t know what else to do. I know it’s a lame excuse, but it’s the truth.”
Caine looked across at her from over Thunder’s body, his face stern, one eyebrow raised in disapproval.
“It’s my first time doing something like this, and normally, I’d have Dad here to help me. But I’m all alone and…” For the second time in as many minutes, she choked on her breaking voice. She felt utterly pathetic. This was the first time since the funeral she hadn’t been able to get a handle on her emotions. She wasn’t ordinarily a crier. But doing this was so much tougher than she’d thought it would be. All around her, she could feel her father’s presence. He was with Thunder, he was in the horse float, in the ute, here at the rodeo grounds… there was no escape. And yet she was alone.
“Where’s your dad?” Caine asked.
“I’m sorry.” Caine’s voice sounded gentle, so different from the gruff scolding tone he’d used before. He sounded like he genuinely cared.
Don’t be stupid, she chided herself. He’s national champion all-round cowboy. He’s not going to be interested in the likes of you. He’s being kind, that’s all. Just kind. Nothing else.
Even though she believed the words she’d just told herself, she couldn’t help the words that came from her mouth next.
“He died of a heart attack a few months ago,” she told him. “This was our dream, something we’d been working on together. Thunder’s a Kaimanawa horse—he was a wild stallion four years ago. We got him from the muster, tamed him, been training him to barrel race. I know he’ll never be great at it, but it was our ‘thing’, you know? It was fun. We did it together. And now…” She took a deep breath, wringing her hands in front of her, fighting to keep her voice even. “Now I’m doing this anyway, for him, but it’s not going very well.”
“I’ll help you,” Caine told her. “It will be fine, I promise. Won’t it, buddy?” Tessa watched as Caine stroked her horse’s face, and she felt a small spark of hope flare inside her.
“How do you know?” she asked, that doubt creeping back in, making butterflies flutter madly in her tummy.
Tessa had no reason to trust this man; aside from a small social media stalking obsession, she didn’t even know him. But watching the way he expertly handled her horse, she knew she had nothing to lose. Right now, Caine was her only hope.
“Okay,” she breathed.
There was nothing Tessa could do but stand and watch helplessly, her tummy churning and nerves still coursing through her, as Caine saddled up her horse.
Timidly, she stepped closer, stretching out her hand to rub Thunder’s sleek neck. It was still coated with the light sheen of sweat and instantly, a flash of guilt shot through her. This was a big deal for him, too. Just a few years ago he’d been running free, a beautiful, wild stallion in charge of his own domain. The rodeo was a far cry from the rugged wilderness he’d grown up on. What had she been doing, losing her temper with the beautiful animal?
She bit her lip. She fully expected Caine to scold her some more, but he didn’t. Instead, he smiled at her over Thunder’s wither, his kind eyes piercing her very soul.
“He’s okay,” he told her. “But you’re not, are you? You’re not even close to calm. I can tell that just by looking at you. You can’t ride in that state. Come here.”
Without even thinking, she melted into the arms he held out and snuggled against his hard body. He pulled her in tight against him, and pressed up against his broad chest, she felt safe, protected.
“You need to relax.” His deep voice was soothing and with his big palm tracing gentle circles over her back as she leaned against him, she obeyed.
Everywhere their bodies touched, tingled. Electricity zinged between them. Caine’s big hand trailed lower with every circle he drew on her back, getting closer and closer to the waistband of her jeans. She held her breath as his fingers slid down to her back pocket, and his hand stilled, resting lightly there. A shiver went down her spine. This was more than just a comforting embrace; passion laced them together now, his possessive touch setting her nerve endings on fire.
Straightening up, Tessa pulled free of his arms and stepped sideways, closer to the float.
“Did you mean what you said before?” She forced a flirtatious lilt to her voice, making her sound far bolder than she felt. Inside, she was a nervous wreck. This could go so, so wrong. But as she playfully looked up at him, she saw the briefest half-smile cross his face. Her insides flip-flopped.
“That I should be… should be… for…” No matter how hard she tried, Tessa couldn’t get the words out. She felt herself blush. Why was she even bringing this up? Because the thought of the sexiest cowboy on earth smacking your naughty little backside turns you on like you wouldn’t believe, her snarky inner voice taunted her.
“That you should be spanked for considering mistreating your horse?” Caine’s deep voice was husky as he looked down at her beneath a raised brow.
“Yes,” Tessa whispered, unable to meet his gaze, mortified.
“Yes, I did,” Caine told her, his voice firm and clear.
He stepped toward her, trapping her against the horse float. She trembled slightly as he placed one hand on either side of her head, blocking her escape with his body. But it wasn’t a tremble of fear; she wasn’t afraid. It was arousal.
“Naughty little girls who lose their temper should be punished.”
Tessa gulped. Caine had spoken softly, just loud enough for her ears alone, yet he may as well have shouted, the way his words were going round and round in her head. Her nipples hardened, her breasts suddenly feeling achy and hot inside her bra. Her body tingled.
“Are you going to?” Her gaze was direct now; it was both a question and a challenge.
“Do you want me to?”
Yes! Yes, she does! her inner voice yelled, but Tessa couldn’t speak. Her throat was clogged by her pounding heart and the air was too thick to breathe. Her senses were on high alert, her nerve endings all firing simultaneously. She was consumed by the passion burning brightly in his dark eyes and couldn’t look away, couldn’t move.
“Do you want me to take down your pants and whip your bare bottom long and hard with the same riding crop you were going to use on your horse?” Caine stroked her cheek with his thumb, his rough skin scratching her face.
Tessa couldn’t breathe. Was this even happening?
“Do you want to atone for your temper, little girl? Do you want me to thrash away your guilt? Because you do feel guilty, don’t you?”
His thumb on her cheek stilled as he waited for her response, but she couldn’t make herself form the words. Of course she felt guilty. She nodded instead, just slightly, but it was enough.
“You know it would have been wrong to hit your horse like that. You know it was only going to make a bad situation worse. And now you need to be punished.” It wasn’t a question, it was a statement. And the whispered growling turned her churning insides upside down and sent heat straight to her pussy. She clenched her thighs tightly together.
“After your ride, do you want me to take you aside and punish you soundly? Do you want me to set fire to that naughty little ass, to teach you a lesson?” Caine released her chin, but she couldn’t tear her gaze away.
“I need an answer, little girl.”
Biting her lip, Tessa nodded slightly as her heart pounded. “Yes,” she whispered.
“Yes, Daddy,” Caine corrected, his quiet voice stern.
Tessa felt herself blush even deeper as the heat ran through her body, right down to the tips of her toes. She was rooted to the spot. Her tongue was thick, her mouth too dry to get the words out. She took a shallow, ragged breath.
“Yes, Daddy. But only if…” She stopped, hesitant. What the hell was she doing? Was she crazy?
“If what, little girl?” Caine demanded, sounding both stern and gentle at the same time.
“Will you comfort me afterward? If you make me cry, I mean.” Shame flooded through her. This was wrong. It was so wrong. She felt so naughty, almost dirty. But at the same time, it felt so right. It was just what she’d always wanted.
A smile slowly spread across Caine’s handsome face and he reached out and drew her into him again, holding her tight against his chest. “Of course, baby girl,” he whispered. His hand slid down to cup her bottom through her jeans, and squeezed. “That’s the part daddies do best.”
Tessa’s whole body fizzed, every single nerve ending buzzing, as she leaned against Caine’s powerful body, the hard bulge in the front of his jeans pressing into her hip. She swallowed hard. She was so wet. His words had done incredible things to her, and even if he never followed through on his promise, she would never forget the way she felt right now; the way he’d made her feel.
“You’d better warm up your horse.” Caine’s voice broke through her thoughts, startling her.
She stepped back, shaking her head to clear it, trying to focus. “Uh, yeah, I guess I should.” But she didn’t move; arousal still coursed through her body, her pulse raced, and her heart pounded. She took a deep breath. She could do this. Of course she could.
Smack! She jumped as Caine’s palm connected her with her left buttock, the playful swat imparting a slight sting through her jeans. He winked rakishly, before handing her the lead rope.
Damn, the man was handsome! As she wedged her left foot into the stirrup and swung herself into the saddle, Tessa couldn’t get him out of her mind.