Cover & Excerpt
by Kelly Dawson
Orphaned by an attack on her family’s wagon train, Jessica finds herself stranded a thousand miles from Boston, the only home she has ever known. Only one man—a rough, dusty cowboy named Johnny—stands between her and the perils of the west, and he quickly makes it clear that he is ready to do whatever needs to be done to keep Jessica safe, whether she likes it or not.
When the unlikely pair stumble upon a cattle drive and they are both offered employment, Johnny doesn’t hesitate to accept. But after Jessica loudly expresses her disdain for his plan and for cowboys in general, Johnny decides it is time for drastic action. After a hard, embarrassing spanking followed by a tearful apology to the trail boss, Jessica is left with a sore backside and a strange yet undeniably powerful need to be held close and comforted by her handsome protector.
With Johnny by her side—and claiming an ever bigger place in her heart with each passing day—Jessica begins to adjust to life on the trail. But a cattle drive is a dangerous place for anyone, let alone a city girl with a penchant for disobedience. If he ever wants the chance to make Jessica his wife, Johnny knows he’s going to have to take her firmly in hand before she gets herself hurt or killed. Even if it means a painful, humiliating bare-bottom strapping she’ll never forget, one way or another he’ll teach her the ways of the west.
Genre: Erotic Historical Western RomancePurchase link(s): Amazon ARe Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Cowboys, Spanking
Release Date: August 28, 2015
Publisher: Stormy Night Publications
Excerpt & More
“Noooooo!” The agonised cry echoed all across the frontier plains and Johnny’s heart broke for the girl. He watched as Jessica, hitching up her skirts, ran as fast as she could towards the smouldering remains of the wagon train and crumpled in a desperate heap in the dust next to the bloodied body of her mother. She kept screaming, a heart-broken, forlorn keening wail that went on and on as she scrabbled across the ground first to her little brother then her father. All were dead.
Johnny had stumbled across the wagon train only a fortnight ago and had his eye on Jessica since the first moment he saw her – she was truly beautiful, with a mass of dark red curls, a few wild tendrils always escaping the pins holding it up, to frame her delicate face. Her slim, yet curvaceous figure was accentuated by the height-of-fashion gowns she wore on the trail; despite the fact that plain pinafores would have been more practical, and were what the other women all seemed to prefer, Jessica always took pains to keep up her appearance. He’d thought of her as ‘his girl’ since first laying eyes on her, even though they’d barely spoken, beyond introductions and a few short, polite conversations here and there. She clearly thought herself above a dusty cowboy such as him, but that didn’t matter; she would be a challenge, and he liked challenges.
He wondered about her though - she was clearly so unhappy on the trail - what she had left behind? Why had she come out here, to the frontier, if she was so against it? And she was against it, that much was clear. Her general demeanor during their journey had indicated that, and the argument he’d overheard earlier that day had confirmed it.
As they’d circled the wagons and stopped for the midday meal, Johnny had edged closer to the Walsh’s wagon, hoping for the opportunity to talk to Jessica. But he hadn’t been able to – Jessica had complained to her mother of not feeling well; sick, sore and exhausted, and she’d gone to rest in the wagon. Her father had followed her in, and he’d overheard him accusing her of idleness, of shaming him before the other men, the only woman who wasn’t out there working. Did she think she was the only tired one? The only sick one? The only sore one? She wasn’t – they all were – yet they all kept working. “Now you get out there and get to work, before I take a strap to you!” he’d ordered gruffly.
“Do you think I wanted to come out here? I didn’t! I wanted to stay in Boston, where I was happy!” she’d yelled back, before she stormed out of the wagon angrily, stomping away from camp.
“We couldn’t stay there, you know that!” her father had yelled, but she had ignored him, scurrying away from camp at as fast a walk as she could manage. It would have been the perfect opportunity for him to go off after her, but then the wagon master had asked him if he would be willing to hunt for fresh meat – there were families to feed, and their fresh meat had run out. So he’d gone. As soon as he’d heard the shooting he’d turned his horse and galloped back, without any meat, but he’d gotten back too late to do anything. The Indians were driving the horses away triumphantly as he crested the hill above the trail, the wagons were all ablaze and bloodied bodies were littered all around. There was nothing he could do.
Johnny approached Jessica warily, not wanting to startle her. She was in shock enough as it was, he didn’t want to add to her terror. And that she was terrified he had no doubt – he could hear it in her screams, see it in her eyes.
“Jessica.” He spoke softly, crouching down on the ground near enough to touch her, but not reaching out for her. “Jessica,” he tried again. She looked at him through her tears, but she didn’t say anything; she was traumatized. Then she turned back to her family, pressing her face into their bodies, trying desperately to will them back to life. Johnny watched, helpless, as she screamed her outrage at the Indians, wailed her grief at losing her beloved, sweet mama, then turned her wrath on her father, collapsing on the ground beside him, screaming at his lifeless body the loudest of all.
“You killed them!” she hollered, beating at his brutalized body with her fists. “It was you who wanted to come west!” she yelled. “We were quite happy, me and Mama! Now she’s gone and it’s all your fault! And Petey! He was just a baby, with his whole life ahead of him! Now he’s gone too and it’s all … your … fault.” She ground the words out between sobs, gasping for breath. Her flailing fists stilled and she curled up against the dead man’s chest, sobbing, her body shaking, a broken woman.
Placing a gentle hand on her shoulder Johnny spoke softly in her ear in what he hoped was a comforting tone. “Jessica, look at me.” She didn’t. Gently, he took her hands in his own and disengaged her fingers from the death-grip they had on the lapel of her father’s coat, wrapping his arms around her securely and pulling her in close against his chest. “Shhhh,” he crooned softly, trying to calm her as though she were a baby. It worked. She responded to him, her sobs easing. Her shuddering slowly stilled, she got her breathing under control and began to relax in his arms. And she clung to him tightly, so tightly, as though she would never let go. Then she looked up at him and began to speak.
“They came out of nowhere, they just rose up all around us, as though they came up out of the ground. The wagons were completely surrounded. I tried to tell Papa of the risk of Indians before we left Boston but he didn’t listen. And now look ... look at them now.” She burst into tears again, sobs wracking her body once more as she stuffed her fist into her mouth trying to stifle her cries. Johnny wrapped his arms around her tightly again, wishing he could shield her from the pain, wishing she hadn’t seen her entire family, the entire wagon train, get massacred.
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