I’ve just pressed publish on the 7th book in the Daniel Lawson series. It is currently available as a pre-release, out on 28th February. I’ve included the first chapter on this page. I hope you enjoy it!
Available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com.au and Amazon.ca.
Emma Martin couldn’t remember the first time she set eyes on Daniel, even though she’d racked her brains a hundred times to try. However, what she could remember with startling clarity, was the first time she’d felt a sexual attraction towards him. She’d been leading her pony around at a local show when Daniel had unexpectedly appeared. Even now, she clearly remembered the feeling of her tummy lurching. The fizzing sensation which had spread through her, making her feel half sick, half excited. She’d been forced to grab hold of her pony’s strongly muscled neck, just to remain vertical.
Of course, at the time, Emma had no idea what the surprising changes in her body actually signified. The experience wasn’t unlike the debilitating shyness she’d once experienced as a young child; flushed cheeks, racing heart and breathlessness, coupled with a slight dizziness which removed her ability for rational thought. But now, as a mature fourteen year old, such episodes of shyness had largely passed…except when Daniel was in the nearby vicinity. Whenever he was around, they became embarrassingly commonplace once more.
Briefly, she gazed at herself in the bedroom mirror which was partially obscured by a pillar of horse riding magazines piled up at the base. A pretty girl with bright blue eyes and freckles dusting her snub nose stared defiantly back. Half-heartedly, Emma attempted to do something different with her long, ash-blonde hair but quickly gave it up as a bad job. She almost always wore her hair tied back in a ponytail anyway and being pony-mad, that suited her just fine. Besides, loose hair got in the way of all the sporting activities she loved to take part in. Tennis, cross-country running, hockey, rounders, netball; she excelled in them all, but horse riding was her first love. Grabbing her trainers, Emma raced downstairs, aware that she was already horribly late.
‘Good luck, Sweetheart!’ called her mother, holding out a ready-made packed lunch for her precious only child.
‘Thanks!’ grinned Emma, grabbing the offering and managing to kiss her mum swiftly on the cheek, almost without breaking her stride. ‘See you later!’
Dashing outside, Emma glanced up into the blue, cloudless sky, immediately aware of the burning hot sun. It was a pity the athletics competition she was due to take part in today hadn’t been held the previous weekend, when the great British summer had provided plenty of cooling rain. Unfortunately, now held firmly within an area of high pressure, England was enjoying long, balmy June days, which meant that Emma was just going to have to cope with sprinting in the summer heat, as best she could.
With her rucksack thrown across her shoulders, Emma pulled on her headphones and pushed down the stiff button on her cassette Walkman. Swinging a leg over the back of her bicycle, she set off at speed down the quiet country lane, towards her nearby school. Her childhood was an idyllic one, located deep in the rural villages of leafy West Sussex. Life had definitely improved further in recent years, ever since she’d been trusted to travel to nearby locations unchaperoned by her parents. Emma simply loved the sense of freedom her bicycle afforded her, the fields and copses rushing past as her long, slender legs pedalled furiously.
Emma’s journey to school took her straight past Daniel Lawson’s house which predictably filled her body with nervous excitement on each and every occasion. It was a huge, three-storey Victorian affair with acres and acres of land; certainly several steps up from the modest bungalow she lived in with her ever-loving parents. Not that Emma had ever been invited inside Daniel’s home, but she could imagine. As always, she sat up a little straighter upon passing, allowing her eyes to subtly slide in the direction of the front windows, on the off-chance that Daniel was looking out. To date, she’d never seen anyone, but that didn’t stop her doing it every single time she travelled by.
Despite cycling at top speed, Emma was still running late by the time she reached her destination. Her school was nestled in the centre of the village where it had served the needs of the local community for well over one hundred and fifty years. Emma and her close-knit group of friends had been attending the establishment since they were toddlers, slowly progressing up through the ranks together. Powering on past the bicycle racks, Emma increased her pace yet further, speeding along the tarmac drive which led onto the large sports field around the back. Fortunately, being a weekend, there were precious few people about to slow her entry. Tearing to a halt, she dumped her bicycle unceremoniously on the ground beneath one of the temporary seating areas. The wheels continued to spin wildly in the air as she sprinted into the centre of the field.
‘You’re cutting it very fine,’ observed one of the teachers. However, it was said with wry amusement; Emma was their star pupil. Kind, clever, reliable and talented, the only time she even hinted at being in any kind trouble was when she allowed herself to be persuaded into a course of action by Trudy. Emma had been best friends with Trudy since before the two of them could walk and, consequently, wouldn’t hear a word said against her, merely describing her as spirited, if pushed.
As her teachers had anticipated, Emma ran extremely well that day and was successfully selected to represent her school Once again, they had qualified to compete in the prestigious County Championships and Emma was considered an integral member of the team. Swigging deeply from a bottle of water afterwards, Emma wiped the sweat from her forehead as she strolled back to her bicycle. To her surprise, she found it had already been collected.
‘Hey you!’ beamed Emma. There in the shade was her best friend, standing beside two bicycles which had been precariously balanced against a tree. With short, dark hair and sparkling brown eyes, Trudy might stand a few inches shorter than Emma, but her personality was big enough to make up for any shortfall in height. Trudy had even started to be afflicted with acne in recent months but, similarly, she didn’t allow that to dampen her spirits either.
‘Well done! You were brilliant!’ Trudy enthused, throwing an arm around the shoulder of her best mate. ‘Think we ought to go and celebrate?’
‘What did you have in mind?’ chuckled Emma. ‘As if I couldn’t guess!’ These days, most of their merriment followed exactly the same format. Although significantly under-age, because she looked older than her fourteen years, Emma would tend to draw the short straw and be persuaded to sidle into the local off-licence and attempt to buy a bottle of their cheapest cider. When successful, the contraband would then be consumed down by the river, ideally in the company of a ghetto blaster. Those endless summer days would be accompanied by the singles chart, along with some of the trendiest albums they’d managed to save up for and buy. Favourite artists included R.E.M., Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana and Bon Jovi, although new groups sparked their interest all the time.
‘Actually…’ replied Trudy in a tone that suggested Emma shouldn’t jump quite so readily to conclusions. ‘Mum and Dad were making noises about having a barbeque tonight. So I wondered if you wanted to come round to mine for the rest of the day?’
‘That sounds great!’ agreed Emma, as they both mounted their respective bicycles and started to pedal back towards the school entrance. ‘Although I’ll have to telephone my parents from your house, just to check they’re cool with that.’
At a much more subdued pace than earlier, the two girls freewheeled into Trudy’s driveway, barely having stopped chatting since the moment they left school. As always happened whenever she was invited over, Emma’s face swiftly broke into a wide smile the second she saw Trudy’s home. In Emma’s eyes, it was simply perfect; a gorgeous thatched cottage, resting contentedly within a large garden, bordered along one side with deciduous woodland, from which the noise of birdsong erupted. In the front garden was a large pond they’d spent many happy hours paddling around on. Recently, the small rowing boat had sprung a few additional leaks, but bailing out the water was half the fun.
Casually dumping the bicycles on the front driveway, Trudy stomped into the cottage heading straight for the kitchen, Emma following closely in her wake.
‘Hi girls!’ beamed Trudy’s mother, up to her elbows in a bowl of cake mixture.
‘Hello Lynne,’ smiled Emma, while Trudy merely grunted from deep within the bowels of the refrigerator. Warm, welcoming and one hundred percent supportive of her children, other than her own parents, Emma struggled to think of an adult she respected and adored more than Trudy’s mum.
‘How did you get on, dear?’
‘She went round that track faster than Sebastian Coe being chased by a herd of charging wildebeest,’ snorted Trudy, amused by her own humour.
‘You know that laughing at your own jokes is evidence you’re mentally deranged, right?’ The deep voice, spoken just behind Emma, caused her to spin around in surprise. Despite the fact that his voice had broken a couple of years earlier, Emma still couldn’t get used to Tom sounding like a man, instead of the boy she’d known all her life. These days, she also had to glance upwards some way, in order to speak to Trudy’s big brother; he’d put on a serious growth spurt recently. He also seemed to be doing something rather odd with his hair; previously his blond locks had always been cut short, but they were currently in danger of completely covering his eyes like a curtain.
‘Hey, Emma,’ he added with a sideways glance.
‘Wanker,’ muttered Trudy, before Emma had a chance to reply. Closing the refrigerator, she began to make her way across the kitchen with two cans of coke. Emma glanced at her curiously; it sounded as though Trudy had been making a statement of fact, as opposed to throwing an insult. Clearly meant to cause irritation, her words apparently had the desired effect as Tom’s normally jovial face drew into a frown, his bright blue eyes narrowing considerably.
‘Piss off, Shorty,’ he retorted, immediately initiating a scuffle with his sister. It was fleeting, ending with a victorious Tom striding back out of the room clutching Trudy’s two cans of coke.
‘Tosser!’ Trudy shouted to his departing back. With a huff, she stormed back across the kitchen, to find some alternative drinks.
‘Will you two please watch your language!’ complained their mother half-heartedly, knowing she was fighting a losing battle.
‘He started it!’ complained Trudy. ‘We’re going outside. Come on, Em!’
Grateful to be wearing just shorts and a T-shirt on such a blissfully warm day, Emma followed Trudy out into the back garden. The two girls dragged a couple of sunbeds into the dappled shade beside a tall hedge to protect themselves from the worst of the heat, before dropping down in relief and cracking open their cans of drink.
‘Mmmmm, this is the life,’ observed Trudy, feeling utterly content with her best friend beside her.
For a while, they relaxed, gossiping about school friends, homework, the ever encroaching exams, wishes, hopes and dreams. However, it was all too perfect. Emma should have realised that the idyllic peace was destined to come to an end sooner, rather than later.
‘Oh my God!’ gasped Trudy, interrupting Emma excitedly explaining how she’d recently submitted her application to attend Pony Club camp over the summer. ‘Was that Jill Pendleton?’ Dragging herself up from the relaxed vertical position she’d been enjoying, Trudy peered over the hedge looking not dissimilar to an agitated meerkat. Slowly a huge smile spread across her spotty face. ‘Pssst! Emma! You’ve got to come and see this! Come on!’ Trudy urged, having received a look which suggested Emma simply couldn’t be arsed.
‘What?’ she huffed, pulling herself to standing and joining Trudy, who was crouching slightly behind the tall hedge.
A short distance down the garden, subtly tucked behind a large oak tree, Emma could make out two people. One was undoubtedly Tom, the other, apparently, was Jill Pendleton. Sprawling loose limbed on a blanket, their body language spoke of a mutual attraction. As they chatted, their heads were gradually moving closer and closer together. The Guns N’ Roses version of Knocking on Heaven’s Door was pouring from the speaker system beside them, building the situation towards an inevitable climax. They were just about to kiss for the first time.
‘Oh! This is perfect!’ chuckled Trudy, shooting a wicked grin towards Emma.
‘Can’t you just let him be?’ asked Emma. She always felt slightly sorry for Tom, continuously on the receiving end of his younger sister’s meddling. Although, to be fair, he gave as good as he got in return.
‘No, I certainly can’t!’ she exclaimed, looking astounded that Emma could even suggest it. ‘Look! The git’s got our cans of coke!’
‘I’m not getting involved,’ replied Emma. Raising her hands up in a gesture of surrender, she returned to the sunlounger. ‘And I really advise you don’t either.’
‘Yeah…right,’ muttered Trudy, before taking a huge gulp of air, preparing herself to bellow as loudly as she possibly could across the entire length of the garden. ‘TOM?’ she yelled, just as Tom’s lips were about to graze across those belonging to one of the most popular girls in school. ‘MUM SAYS YOU NEED TO COME INSIDE, SO SHE CAN WASH YOUR HAIR AGAIN! SEE IF WE CAN’T GET RID OF YOUR HEAD LICE ONCE AND FOR ALL!’
Quickly, Trudy dropped back down behind the hedge, unable to contain her hysterics, as a loud ‘Ewwwwwwwww!’ echoed up the garden. To say Trudy looked pleased with herself was a gross understatement.
‘What?’ she queried, unexpectedly finding herself on the receiving end of one of Emma’s stern looks.
‘Why did you have to go and do that?’
‘Er, because he’s my brother! Obviously!’ scoffed Trudy, swiftly lowering her voice at the sound of approaching footsteps.
‘It’s just a joke,’ explained Tom, pleadingly. ‘My sister thinks she’s a comedian. Clearly, she isn’t. I honestly don’t have head lice…’
‘I’ve um… got to get home anyway,’ explained Jill, in a tone which suggested she was now extremely eager to make her escape.
‘I’ll see you at school then?’ replied Tom hopefully, as he disappeared out to the front of the cottage behind Jill. The girls didn’t hear her reply, if there even was one. It was largely immaterial anyway; they both knew Jill wasn’t setting foot anywhere near Tom again.
‘TRUDY!’ bellowed Tom, less than a minute later, once Jill had left at speed. The tone of his angry voice made it clear he was intent upon reprisals.
‘We should get out of here,’ muttered Trudy, springing to her feet with a degree of athleticism that she had certainly never displayed on the school sports field.
‘But I haven’t even done anything!’ complained Emma, with a long huff. All the same, she grabbed her bag and followed her troublemaking best friend towards safety.
‘Guilt through association,’ whispered Trudy, bent low, already hot-footing it in the opposite direction to her brother. ‘Come on! Run!’
The two girls silently disappeared through a hole in the hedge and across the adjacent farmland, to sit beside their favourite stream for the early part of the afternoon. It was a tranquil spot, undiscovered by others, ensuring that Emma and Trudy could relax in peace. Their time was spent paddling in the shallows and playfully splashing, before collapsing on the bank and sharing Emma’s packed lunch.
‘I never phoned my mum!’ sighed Emma, slapping her palm against her forehead. ‘She might be starting to worry…’
‘Well, it should be safe to return now, shouldn’t it?’ queried Trudy, as though Emma might have intel on the condition of her brother’s mental state. Unless Tom had the classic seven-second memory of a goldfish, Emma wasn’t honestly sure it would ever be safe to return. They both knew full well that Tom had been admiring the greatly revered Jill Pendleton for the better part of five months. He wasn’t going to forget Trudy’s latest practical joke in a hurry.
Cautiously, Trudy and Emma crept back into the garden, relieved not to encounter Tom en route. They headed straight for the kitchen where Trudy’s mum represented a safe harbour in the storm; even if Tom did appear now, any retaliation would be severely constrained by her presence.
‘Mum, Emma can use the phone to call home, can’t she?’ enquired Trudy, as she pulled the lid off the biscuit barrel and removed a handful.
‘Of course,’ Lynne smiled. ‘Please don’t spoil your dinner, Trudy!’
‘You know where the phone is,’ said Trudy to her best mate, handing her a biscuit as she wandered past. ‘I’ll see you out in the garden when you’re done?’
‘Thanks,’ nodded Emma, sending Lynne a grateful smile before disappearing into the adjacent room. As hoped, Emma’s parents gave their permission for her to stay at Trudy’s for the barbeque, on the proviso she was back home by half past nine that evening. Returning the handset into the cradle, Emma turned to make her way back outside when a vision filled her senses, immobilising her on the spot. Daniel Lawson. Daniel sodding Lawson.
‘Hey, Emma,’ he muttered in a deep, raspy voice, as he strolled past her without breaking his stride.
In an attempt to respond, Emma’s jaw fell open although no sound came out, other than a squeak. In retrospect, this was possibly for the best, for she literally had no words being supplied by her normally highly capable brain. Falling back against the wall, Emma allowed it to support her, as she simply stared, drinking him in. How could one person be quite so perfect? Daniel was the epitome of cool but, unlike the other boys at school, he never took advantage of that fact. It was almost as though he didn’t realise the raw power of his sexuality. Such modesty, of course, only made him even more perfect in Emma’s eyes. Certainly, unlike all his classmates, neither Trudy nor Emma had ever seen him with a girl.
As Tom’s best friend, Daniel spent almost as much time at the cottage as Emma did, although that didn’t make bumping into him any easier. Indeed, despite all knowing each other since early childhood, as the years progressed, Emma found it increasingly difficult to speak in Daniel’s presence. At almost sixteen years of age, he represented a level of confidence and maturity that she could only aspire to. Grateful to observe that Daniel had now left the room, Emma exhaled a deep sigh which squeezed air from the furthest reaches of her lungs.
‘Crap,’ she muttered on her next outward breath, before comforting herself with one small consolation. At least Daniel wasn’t aware of the mind-bending, stomach-churning, hysteria-inducing, gargantuan crush she had on him. Was he?
Leaving a sensible gap between Daniel’s exit and her own, Emma eventually gained adequate control over herself to release her hold on the wall which had been keeping her upright, and make her way into the garden to find Trudy.
Fenella Ashworth is a British author of contemporary erotic fiction. All of her stories are available from Amazon and free for those with Kindle Unlimited access. Her bestselling novels are ‘To Love, Honour and Oh Pay’, ‘One Hot Wynter’s Night’ and the Daniel Lawson series.
Fenella also releases stories on BooksieSilk, Booksie, Lush Stories and Literotica, and is often visible in the Literotica ‘Erotic Couplings’ Hall of Fame (Top Rated).
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