Wow! I can't believe it's April already!
2019 is already a quarter over! April is a great month for me.
This month, I celebrated 17 years married to the love of my life.
My firstborn turned 16 years old.
And my first book for this year is releasing this weekend!
I'm so excited!!
Isn't this cover super hot?!? Korey Mae Johnson at Stormy Night Publications has outdone herself here! Those rippling muscles just make me want to be naughty!
Once again, this book is set in New Zealand. In the North Island this time, in the place I grew up.
I've even included an actual landmark named after my ancestors - a place that's printed on the old maps but is no longer around - Kelly's Landing!
There are no horses in this book. This is literally only the second book I've written that doesn't have horses in it, and the first one was a sci-fi so doesn't count. But I think, despite the lack of horses, you'll love it. There's a hot, spanking Daddy-Dom, a bratty little girl in dire need of correction, a farm, a beach, and lots of sexy hotness all in 50 thousand words!
Read on for the entire first chapter, and a bit of the second!
Daddy’s Belt – by Kelly Dawson
“So I’ve got nothing? I’m broke?” The lump in Melanie Smith’s throat was so big she could barely form the words. Her eyes burned with unshed tears.
“That’s right,” her father’s lawyer told her. “Your father was so deeply in debt that the bank will foreclose on everything he has.” The lawyer’s beady, dark eyes fixed on her with a stare that suggested this was all her fault.
Melanie swallowed. She would not cry. Not here. Not in front of this heartless man who clearly seemed to blame her for this whole mess. She fixed her eyes on the narrow moustache sitting just above his upper lip and took a deep breath.
“How can that be?” she asked, her voice quavering. “He had a good job. A nice house. A nice car.” She fidgeted, twisting the rings on her fingers in despair. None of this made any sense. How could her father possibly be broke?
The lawyer waited, tapping the tip of his silver pen against his huge solid oak desk, watching her with a look of contempt, almost a sneer, on his face.
“I don’t understand! He wasn’t a gambler… was he? He didn’t have any vices that I don’t know about?” He didn’t. She knew he didn’t. Her father was the kindest, most honest, upstanding men she’d ever met. It didn’t seem possible that he’d blown all his money, but yet here she was, listening to the reading of his will, hearing for the first time that she was flat broke, and the plans she’d had for her father’s estate would never be coming to fruition.
“No, he wasn’t a gambler.” The lawyer’s voice cut through her like a knife. “And as far as I know, he didn’t have any vices. Not expensive ones, anyway.”
As she watched him, his lips curled up into the smallest of smiles that didn’t reach his eyes. “Your father was a good man,” he said, but his nasally voice was devoid of any fondness, suggesting that her father had been nothing more to him than one of many clients, a number, not anyone important.
“Your father lost his job a couple of years ago,” the lawyer informed her, his tone cold. “As you can see here,” he thrust a stack of papers at her with neon plastic sticky flags marking various pages. “He took on a lot of debt to keep you in the lifestyle to which you had become accustomed.” The lawyer raised his eyebrow at her then, a clear sign of disapproval, before clearing his throat. “It appears he had trouble finding another job.” Reaching for the stack of papers he’d just thrust at her, that she hadn’t yet touched, he thumbed through the pile. “Credit cards. Bank loans. Re-financing on the house. Personal loans. Overdrafts. Defaults. Default fees. It’s all here.”
Melanie reeled back in her chair, speechless. She felt like she’d been punched in the guts. She couldn’t breathe. Her heart stilled. She’d had no idea….
“Why didn’t he tell me?” she whispered, unable to hold back the tears that now streamed down her face unchecked.
“Maybe he didn’t want you to know?” the lawyer suggested coldly.
“No!” she whispered. “This can’t be right.”
“I assure you it is, Miss,” the lawyer insisted.
She was going to be sick. This could not be happening! She had to get out of here. The uncomfortable wooden chair she sat in scraped roughly across the plushly carpeted floor of the lawyer’s office as she stood up quickly, spun on her heel and fled.
There was very little in her father’s house that she wanted, which was good, because there was very little there that she was allowed to take. A few photos, a few mementoes, and that was it. All her father’s belongings, all her belongings, were to be sold with the house. Even her Mustang convertible, a graduation gift from her father, the car that she’d taken away to college, the car that had been their transport to numerous frat parties and weekend trips, the car that she’d used to cut class and go shopping on a regular basis, was to be sold. She ran her hand along the sleek metal sadly. She’d just heard the engine purr for the last time. Turning away, she knuckled back a tear.
Her swanky Louis Vuitton luggage set waited by the door. Filled to overflowing with the clothes, shoes and make-up she couldn’t live without, the zips bulged at the seams, threatening to let her precious cargo burst out. The suitcases were stuffed so full, there wasn’t the room for even a single item to be added. Every gap had been filled. Her shoulders shook with silent sobs. How was she supposed to pack up her entire life? How was she going to say goodbye?
There was a honk as a cab pulled up to the kerb outside the house. The driver got out, took a suitcase in each hand, loaded them into the vehicle. She trudged along behind, towing the largest suitcase on its wheels behind her, struggling with the huge carry-bag slung over her shoulder. She didn’t dare look back.
Tears streamed down her face the entire way to the airport. Her body shook, not just with grief, but with fear. She had no idea what she was in for and even worse, the life that awaited her in New Zealand was the only choice she had.
The phone conversation she’d had with her mother days earlier replayed itself over and over in her head. Part of her wished she’d refused the plane ticket. Part of her wished she’d been brave enough to stay in America, to stay with the friends she knew and loved, in the country she knew and loved, instead of flying half way around the world to live in the country she’d left when she was seven. But realistically, she knew that was impossible. She had no money. No job. No prospects. No options. Her father had been paying for college for her, footing the bill for her room on campus, her tuition fees; he’d covered everything, while she’d partied and shopped and had fun. She’d never had to work. She’d tried once, but it hadn’t worked out, and since then, her father had provided her with a very generous allowance as well as several credit cards. Getting a job with her limited skill set, especially one that would pay enough for her to live on, would be next to impossible. If her very qualified, experienced, hard-working father hadn’t been able to find employment, what hope did she have?
The plane ticket had not been without conditions. I’ve got you a ticket home and a job, she’d said. Accommodation goes with it. But you’ll have to work hard, Melanie. Work hard and be prepared to learn. Can you do that? She remembered nodding dumbly down the phone, because she had no other choice. A plane ticket. A home. A job. A future.
You can’t stay with me, her mother had said, only half apologetically. I’ve just got the one room here, right behind the rest-home. I don’t suppose you want to work here? She shook her head emphatically – she definitely did not. No way was she lowering herself to wiping the bums of geriatrics. She had standards.
Her mother had read her silence correctly. It’s not that bad Mel, she’d said. Some of the residents are absolute sweeties. They make the job worthwhile.
Relieved to not be destitute and homeless, Melanie hadn’t even asked what her new job entailed. She supposed it didn’t really matter. Anything was better than living under a bridge or in a homeless shelter and fishing for food out of garbage bins, both of which were possible options if she stayed where she was.
Thirteen hours on the plane should have given Melanie plenty of time to think, but she was too numbed by grief and shock to think about anything. Her father’s death had been sudden and she hadn’t had a chance to mourn him properly. The call from the hospital telling her that they had her father there, that he’d collapsed on the street and a passer-by had called an ambulance, had turned her life upside down. When he’d passed away not long after being brought in, she’d gone into shock, and never really recovered.
Her head was fuzzy. She felt like she was swimming upstream through glue, maybe weighed down with bricks as well. Her world had been tipped over and she was powerless to right it, no matter how much she fought. Everything was unfamiliar to her. Everything felt wrong.
Trudging down the wide, carpeted corridor of the Auckland International Airport, balancing her precariously-stacked luggage carefully on the trolley as she navigated through the crowd stopping off to buy Duty-Free, she wondered what kind of life awaited her here, in New Zealand. Would her mother be here to meet her? She didn’t know. Nor did she care. If she had her way, she’d crawl into a tunnel and curl up into a ball and hide. Basically overnight, she’d lost everything that mattered to her and now all that was left was the dregs of the life she’d once had. Memories. Grief. An uncertain future.
The man leaning against a dirty blue sedan was the sexiest man she’d seen in a long time. Blue jeans clung to his long, lean legs that he’d crossed at the ankles. A sleek black jersey stretched across broad shoulders, down a well-built body. Under that body, she just knew there would be muscles. Lots of them. He gave off that type of vibe: confident, sure of himself, capable, dominant. Even leaning back slouched against the car, she could tell he was tall. His arms were crossed in front of his body, but from the little she could see of his hands, they were huge. His chiselled jaw was clean shaven. Dark hair that was a fraction too long touched his collar, partially hid his ears, and his fringe flopped down over his eyes. He had to be waiting for her – she was the only person who’d gotten off the bus at this remote stop, and the small, muddy carpark was deserted. She looked him up and down and licked her lips. So this was her new boss.
Wind whistled around the corner of the buildings, sending a shiver through her, despite the winter coat she wore. Damn it was cold. So very different from the middle of the hot California summer she’d just left.
The man straightened up, walked towards her, held out his hand.
“Blake Howard,” he introduced himself in a deep, gravelly voice.
Her eyes met his, she shook his hand. His grip was strong, his palm rough, leathery. He held onto her fingers for a fraction too long. The directness in his gaze as he scrutinized her the same way she’d been scrutinizing him, made her tremble slightly.
“So you’re my new farmhand, huh?”
Melanie’s head spun in horror. “Your new what?” What on earth had she just gotten herself into?
Blake watched in amusement, then anger, at the emotions that played out across the face of the young woman standing in front of him. As soon as she’d stepped off the bus, with her sleek black chin-length hair cut that looked like it had taken hours to style and her black boots with the impossibly high heels that just begged to get bogged down in the mud, he’d known she wouldn’t be any good for the job. But he’d held his tongue. He would give her the benefit of the doubt.
But now? Now that he’d held her beautifully soft hands that clearly hadn’t done a days work in their life, with the perfectly French-manicured nails, and the body that looked attractive but not strong, he was certain she was totally wrong. He needed strong. He needed fit. He needed a hard worker. Someone who was willing to learn. What he didn’t need was the attitude of someone who thought this sort of work was beneath her, if the sneer curling up one side of her pretty mouth was anything to go by.
He looked her up and down and groaned audibly. How had he ended up with her? He couldn’t have found anyone more unsuitable if he’d tried.
She clearly had expensive tastes. Rings graced several fingers of each hand. A gold watch was visible on her left wrist, just under her coat sleeve, and as the sleeve on her right arm rode up a bit, he could make out at least one bracelet that looked expensive, maybe more. Sparkly earrings dangled from her ears. Totally impractical for the farm.
She turned slightly, looking around her. She had the cutest ass. The winter coat she wore belted at her waist flared out at her hips so he couldn’t actually see much of it, but what he could see, he liked. Tight black pants hugged her curves, accentuating her hourglass shape. A light smattering of freckles dusted her nose. They were probably on her cheeks too, under all the makeup. He felt a twinge in his groin. He was a sucker for freckles.
A different emotion flashed across her face. Just briefly, but it was enough: despair. Sadness and fear shone in her eyes and his heart went out to her. People might call him a hard man, but he wasn’t heartless. The poor girl looked as unhappy at this arrangement as he was.
“What did you think you’d be doing?” he asked her gently, deliberately softening his tone. Her lower lip was quivering and it looked like she was about to cry.
“I don’t know,” she admitted in a quavering voice. “I didn’t think to ask. I was so relieved to not be homeless and destitute.” Her voice trailed off and her shoulders shook. She turned away from him, shielding her face from his gaze. “My mother arranged this for me, when I was still in America”
“I know, I paid for your ticket,” he told her. And by the looks of you it was a waste of damn money, his inner voice growled.
She carried on as if she hadn’t even heard him. “All she told me was that I’d have to work hard and be willing to learn.”
“Yep, that about sums it up,” he agreed. “Can you do that? I can teach you everything you need to know, if you can work hard and learn.” He expected the learning curve would be much steeper for her than he’d originally figured it would be, and maybe it would be too steep and she’d quit. But right now, he was out the cost of the plane ticket, and he had no other options for staff, so he may as well try and make the most of it.
“I don’t know.” Her voice was small; she sounded scared. “I’ve never had to work hard before. I didn’t even work at college, all I did was party.”
He watched her, getting more and more furious at whatever fates had sent him Melanie to work for him, as she swallowed repeatedly, fighting back the tears that shone brightly in her eyes. If he hadn’t been so frustrated at his own foolishness for not only hiring someone he’d never met, but also shelling out for a plane ticket for her, he would have felt sorry for her. She was obviously way out of her depth, and carried a whole heap of baggage. For her to end up here, like this, she’d obviously believed she had no other option. She needed a counsellor, not a boss; therapy, not a job. And he was going to have to find a hell of a lot more patience than what he currently possessed if they were going to have any hope of this working out at all.
He knew he was glaring at her, and tried to relax his face, but he couldn’t do it. Deliberately, he unclenched the fists he held tightly at his sides and rolled his shoulders, relaxing them, trying to make himself look a bit less intimidating and a bit more friendly. But he couldn’t hide the anger that he felt.
“I can try,” she offered, hesitantly. “Is that good enough?”
“It’s all I can ask,” he said gruffly.
She looked like she wanted to run away, like she wanted to be anywhere but here.
“Well let’s get you loaded up and home,” he said brightly, trying to put her at ease. At the word ‘home’ she stifled what sounded like a sob. Oh god. What had he said? Sighing, he grabbed her suitcases, one in each hand, and loaded them into the boot, fitting them carefully around the groceries he’d picked up earlier. He shook his head wearily. This day really couldn’t get much worse.
“You hungry?” Blake intentionally interjected as much kindness into his voice as he could. He didn’t know anything about her past, or about her, but it seemed like she could do with a bit of kindness right about now.
Without looking at him, she shook her head. She looked small. Broken. “You sure? The farm’s about an hour away, and there are no shops between here and there. If there’s anything you want, speak up now.”
She didn’t sound fine. Her voice sounded strangled.
“All right.” He suppressed a sigh. This was not going well at all. “So there’s nothing you want from town then, before we leave? Last chance.” He hoped there wasn’t, he’d spent enough time away from the farm already. He was aching to get back to it, to get Melanie working, to get on top of all the things that needed to be done.
“Alcohol,” she blurted out. “Is there any place to buy alcohol around here?”
Blake groaned. Alcohol. Really? He’d somehow got himself an inexperienced, bratty farmhand with a bad attitude and an alcohol problem? How did he get to be so unlucky?
Clenching the steering wheel tighter, he steered the car out of the deserted carpark, heading for the main shopping street in the small town. “I’ve got wine and beer at home,” he said. “Anything in particular you want?”
Wordlessly, he drove to the bottle shop, as dread knotted his insides.