Feels Just Like Starting Over

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Set in the world of showjumping, this story is the next instalment, following the lives of Daniel Lawson and his group of friends (including the irrepressible Eddie!) from the books ‘First Love, Second Chance’ and ‘Perfect Stranger, Strangely Perfect’. I hope you enjoy 🙂

Copyright Fenella Ashworth 2018.


The penultimate day of the Olympics in Portugal’s capital city had arrived at last and the mid-August sun was beating down unforgivingly on spectators and competitors alike. Having been in attendance for the past fortnight, in order to acclimatise both himself and his horses, Daniel Lawson, Great Britain’s best hope of a showjumping medal, had wowed the crowd earlier that week along with his fellow countrymen and women by clinching the team bronze. It had been a closely fought competition, Britain being pipped to the post by Germany and the United States, who had won Gold and Silver respectively. Daniel was already a popular national celebrity, helped in part by the fact that he was handsome, sexy and typically displayed a somewhat reserved disposition in public. His latest win had done nothing to dampen the ardour of his legion of fans.

Daniel was accompanied by his wife, Emma, who was as beautiful as she was intelligent. Not that she felt either of those things today. At six months pregnant with their first child, Emma wore a light, floaty dress, whilst her blonde hair was scraped up under a sunhat, in an attempt to keep her from overheating. Despite this, she was feeling hot, heavy and slightly lightheaded, although she acknowledged this was less to do with her pregnancy and more to do with the high levels of anxiety she was feeling on behalf of her husband.

Assisting with the horses was Daniel’s best friend, Tom; tall, blond, well-muscled and ruggedly handsome, Tom’s calm, gentle and kind-hearted nature never waned. He had spent the last two weeks in Portugal supporting Daniel and although he hadn’t voiced it aloud, he was seriously missing his wife Kimberley, who had remained at home. They had only married four months previously and every night he had pined for her delicate, petite body and soft lips.

Also making up their merry group was the irrepressible Trudy who was Emma’s best friend and Tom’s sister. The four of them had grown up together and had been friends their entire lives. And last, but certainly not least, was Eddie. Eddie, who was titled, wealthy and jaw-droppingly sexy, was dating Trudy. It was thanks to Eddie that they would be flying back home after the Olympic closing ceremony in a private jet. It was also thanks to Eddie that every time anyone saw Trudy these days, she always had an enormous grin plastered across her face.

Thanks in part to such an amazing support network, Daniel had fought his way through to the final round of the individual showjumping competition. It consisted of twenty of the world’s best horse and rider combinations tackling a course of enormous show jumps. The overall aim was to jump the various obstacles, within the time limit and without knocking down any of the fences, which would incur penalties. Previous British hopefuls had crashed out of the competition, but had helpfully provided Daniel, who was last to jump, with feedback on how the course was riding. Going into the final round, the maths was simple; if he knocked more than two fences down, he was out of the running. Knocking down just two fences would see him awarded the Bronze, one fence down, the Silver. And if by a miracle he jumped clear, Daniel would become the new Olympic showjumping champion.

‘I honestly don’t know how he handles the pressure,’ murmured Eddie as they watched Daniel pop Eclipse over a couple of huge practice fences in the collecting ring.

‘Daniel believes that the day itself is in the lap of the Gods,’ murmured Trudy. ‘It’s won or lost on the years of preparation done beforehand plus the tiniest bit of luck on the day. That’s why he looks super-cool, even though inside he probably isn’t.’

‘I don’t know if I’d have the guts to do it,’ said Eddie, shaking his head in admiration.

‘And just to add a little more pressure,’ whispered Trudy. ‘They own Eclipse outright. If he wins, overnight that horse is worth his weight in gold in stud fees alone.’

‘They’re calling you, Daniel,’ said Tom with a steady voice. As official groom, Tom was there to help Daniel outside the arena and take care of the horses. ‘You ready?’ Unsmiling, Daniel nodded. They all knew better than to disturb him at this moment of intense focus.

‘Come on, we’d better grab our seats,’ said Trudy. Stopping to collect her best friend who had been stood a short distance away, Trudy weaved her arm through Emma’s and headed towards the stand. ‘He’s gonna be OK, Em. I promise,’ she murmured, trying to quell the obvious fears of her best friend. ‘He always is.’

Across the far side of the enormous arena, surrounded by flags of every nation, Daniel and Eclipse cantered reservedly towards the centre amidst pangaltı escort thunderous cheering and applause. Halting, Daniel touched his hand to his hat and reined back a few strides, before pushing Eclipse into a canter. As the bell rang, to indicate the start of the round and silence fell, Daniel’s face was a mask of intense concentration and remarkable determination.

‘Oh my God!’ groaned Emma, squeezing Trudy’s hand tightly. ‘I literally can’t bear to watch. I think I might be sick.’ Running up the steps two at a time, his security lanyard swinging around his neck, Tom scooted quickly along to the spare seat beside Emma, sat down and threw his arm around her shoulders.

‘Come on, Sweetheart,’ he murmured. ‘Open your eyes. You need to share this with your husband. He’s already a superstar, whatever happens.’ Taking strength from Tom’s words, Emma nodded and slowly raised her eyes once more. The four friends sat holding each other tightly, living every moment with Daniel but unable to assist him in any way.

Daniel and Eclipse certainly seemed to be cruising around the massive course like a well-oiled machine. A master at calculating the necessary turns, pace and stride required, Daniel ensured that they were perfectly placed at the base of every fence. After that, it was just a matter of trying his best not to interfere with the phenomenal athletic ability and effort that his incredible horse put into jumping each and every obstacle.

‘This is it,’ murmured Tom, squeezing Emma’s shoulder as Daniel neared the end of the course. Quickly glancing at the clock to check he was inside the time limit, he turned towards the final combination of fences. Emma found herself squeezing Trudy’s hand even tighter as Daniel approached them; a huge upright, followed by an imposing oxer which was as tall as it was wide, finishing with a spread which seemed to go on forever. He was now just three fences between failure, or the indescribable feeling of becoming the individual Olympic showjumping champion.

‘Come on, Daniel,’ growled Eddie, clinging onto the handrail in front of him. ‘You’ve got this.’

‘Come on, sweetheart,’ whispered Emma, subconsciously cradling her baby bump.

‘Now I don’t think I can watch,’ whimpered Trudy, burying her head in Eddie’s shoulder.

Positioning them on the perfect stride was all Daniel could really do, and he did it beautifully. The duo propelled themselves high into the air over the first fence, clearing it easily.

‘He’s got the Bronze,’ murmured Tom, as they all held their collective breath.

Daniel drove Eclipse forward with his strong thighs and within one stride, they were rising into the air again, this time sailing over the parallel bars.

‘He’s got the Silver,’ muttered Eddie, his eyes glued to the scene in front of him as the horse landed successfully. Utterly focussed on the last fence, Daniel steadied Eclipse for the final two strides, before the incredible horse took an enormous, final leap. As they glided over that large, looming spread, Eclipse’s back hoof rubbed gently on the top pole. Landing on the other side, Daniel glanced behind him as the crowd leaned forwards in delightful anticipation. His friends all stood as one as the pole rolled slightly in the metal cup. But it didn’t fall. The crowd erupted in delight, cheering on and on as they realised they had just witnessed an incredible display of equine ability and horsemanship. Daniel cast a glance at his support group in the VIP stand, the most important people in his life, and blew a kiss at his incredulous wife. Grinning widely at them, he stood up in his stirrups and galloped a victory lap around the enormous ring, running his hand up and down his remarkable horse’s neck in thanks and astonishment.

Without saying a word, Tom, Trudy and Eddie looked towards Emma, all with tears streaming from their eyes. Slowly, relieved smiles broke out across their faces, etched with disbelief.

‘I don’t believe it,’ stuttered Emma.

‘Fucking hell!’ breathed Trudy.

‘I’d better get back down there,’ murmured Tom, kissing Emma on the cheek and rushing down the stairs, so as to be ready to help Daniel when he left the show ring.

‘Come on, Emma!’ said Eddie. ‘The first person Daniel’s going to want to see is you.’ As they left the seating area in a daze, the commentator words echoed through the still, hot, arid air.

‘And so, Ladies and Gentleman. There we have it. Our new Olympic Champions. Daniel Lawson and Moonlight Eclipse. Congratulations Daniel!’


As Daniel cantered out of the arena, his piercing blue eyes scoured the cheering crowds for Emma. At last, he located her, standing just behind Tom. Riding straight up to them, Daniel slid off his horse, threw Tom the reins, took off his hat and marched straight into his wife’s arms. Pulling her shaking body towards his, he simply held her, allowing the tears to flow at last.

‘I can’t believe you did it,’ she pendik escort sobbed.

‘We did it,’ growled Daniel, looking deep into her eyes. ‘There’s no way in the world I’d be here without you. I love you so much, Emma.’ Then he slowly dropped his lips to hers, kissing her on and on. Traditionally a very private person, shying away from outside attention, for that one moment Daniel couldn’t care less that the world’s media were watching. As they started to pull apart, Daniel felt Trudy’s arms wrapping around both him and Emma, and then Eddie’s arms folding over the lot of them.

‘You were fucking amazing, mate,’ breathed Eddie. ‘Fucking amazing!’

‘Oh God!’ sobbed Trudy. ‘I’m so, so proud of you, Daniel!’

‘Thanks guys,’ he laughed, shaking his head. ‘It hasn’t sunk in at all.’ Turning slowly, he looked at his best friend who was patiently walking Eclipse around, sneaking him the occasional congratulatory mint. ‘I’d better go and get ready for the medal ceremony.’

‘We’ll be cheering the loudest,’ grinned Emma, her eyes wet with tears.

‘I know you will,’ smiled Daniel, stroking his hand gently down her cheek. Returning to his horse, he swiftly found himself in a tight embrace with Tom.

‘You’re a goddam superstar, mate,’ said Tom, the emotion making his voice break.

‘I’ve got amazing support,’ murmured Daniel, hugging his friend tightly. ‘And, along with Emma, I consider you right at the top of that list.’ Daniel could feel Tom starting to break down against his shoulder. ‘Now, come on. I don’t want you blubbing in front of the cameras. I need my best friend beside me to help sing our national anthem.’

‘And to hold your horse?’ added Tom dryly.

‘Oh yeah,’ laughed Daniel. ‘That too.’


As the long drum roll began and a hush fell over the huge crowd, Daniel ran a hand through his dark, tousled hair. From his lofty position at the top of the medal podium, he felt his heart soar. Holding the chunky gold medal in one hand, he joined in with his wife, friends and a large proportion of the Anglophile crowd in roaring out his National Anthem as the Union Jack slowly crept up the flagpole. As the key changed and he sang the words ‘send her victorious’, inexplicably, a wave of goose bumps ran across Daniel’s body whilst tears began to seep from his eyes. He was struggling to hold his emotions together, quite unable to comprehend that for the next four years, he would be the reigning Olympic showjumping champion; he had reached the very pinnacle of the sport he had dedicated the past twenty years of his life to. In order to find the necessary strength, he turned his eyes directly to Emma and stared at her for the remainder of the anthem, their eyes locked together as though it were just the two of them back home again, alone. As cheering began to drown out the final few notes, Daniel dashed many hearts across the world as he mouthed a heartfelt ‘I love you’ to his beautiful, pregnant wife. Filled with emotion, Emma could do no more than nod back at him, tears streaming from her eyes, supported by Eddie on one side and Trudy on her other.

As the crowd cheered loudly, Daniel raised his hand in thanks and was then joined by his fellow medallists on the top podium for photographs. At last, the competitors were invited to re-mount their Olympic horses for a victory lap. Overcome with the emotional atmosphere, Daniel leaned towards Tom.

‘Mate, can you give me a leg up please? I’m in no fit state to do anything at the moment, least of all mount my own horse.’

‘Of course,’ Tom chuckled, holding onto Eclipse’s reins with one hand and hurling Daniel up into the saddle, by his knee, with the other. ‘So many people are so very proud of you,’ said Tom, glancing up at Daniel, his hand raised to shield his eyes from the bright sunlight. ‘Your country, everybody watching on the TV, but most of all, us. You were incredible today.’

‘Thanks, mate,’ said Daniel, in danger of starting to cry again. ‘That means a lot. We’ve got so much to celebrate.’ Tom nodded and released Eclipse’s reins. With the rest of the world watching, he stood back to proudly observe his best friend gallop around the huge Olympic arena, purple and gold rosettes streaming from his horse’s bridle and a heavy gold medal planted firmly around his neck. It had been a hell of a journey for Daniel to get to this point and Tom had been with him, one way or another, every step of the way.


‘We’re having a massive, slap up meal on me tonight,’ grinned Daniel, as he regarded his friends. They had all piled into Eclipse’s stable to escape the paparazzi and were plying the great horse with treats and affection.

‘Actually, mate, as you don’t need your horses now,’ said Tom quietly. ‘I was thinking I might leave tonight. That way, you guys can fly back tomorrow and we should all arrive home around the same time.’

‘Will it take you that long to drive the lorry back?’ asked Trudy.

‘Yeah, rus escort it’s well over a thousand miles,’ explained Tom. ‘It will take me about twenty-four hours. I should get a quick cat nap in the Eurotunnel and I’ll need to stop a few times to give the horses some fresh air and a good leg stretch. But if I leave by this evening, we should be back home late tomorrow.’

‘That’s fine with me, if you think you’re up to it,’ replied Daniel. ‘The way we have the horsebox configured means that the horses can rest properly. I’m afraid I can’t leave until tomorrow because I have to do a load of interviews and then attend the closing ceremony. I can’t really skip that, particularly now,’ he added wryly. ‘Otherwise I’d travel with you.’

‘I just feel it would be nice to get home sooner rather than later,’ said Tom softly.

‘I know you miss Kimberley,’ said Daniel. ‘And I owe you so much for staying out here with me for two weeks. I owe all of you,’ he added, looking around the stable at his wife and best friends. ‘Thank you.’

‘I just can’t wait to see her,’ murmured Tom. ‘Texts and phone calls really aren’t the same.’

‘I could travel with you, if you like,’ Eddie offered Tom. ‘To share the driving and give you a break.’

‘That’s really kind, mate, thank you,’ smiled Tom. ‘But I’ll be fine. To be honest, I’m on such a high from Daniel winning gold, I’m not sure I’ll ever need to sleep again!’

‘You and me both,’ grinned Daniel.

A matter of hours later, whilst Daniel was closeted in warm, stuffy rooms with various journalists giving interviews about his phenomenal achievement, Tom began the long, laborious drive home with a precious cargo of horses that had enabled Daniel’s success. Driving carefully away from the Olympic site, Tom grappled in his pocket for his mobile phone. In the excitement and rush to pack the lorry and leave, he had completely forgotten to contact Kimberley to let her know he would be returning a day earlier than scheduled. With half an eye on the road, Tom randomly pressed the buttons on his mobile phone, frustrated to realise that he’d run out of battery. Groaning, he threw the phone onto the empty passenger seat beside him, opened the window, turned up the radio and settled in for the long haul.


Trudy stepped out of the steaming shower, wrapped a warm, soft towel around her body and wandered through to the bedroom. Eddie was laying on the bed in just his boxer shorts, sporting what looked to be a massive erection. Her heart twisted with longing as she admired his sparkling brown eyes, long nose lightly spattered with freckles, strong, hairy forearms, flat stomach and lithe, delectable body.

‘I want you,’ he growled, standing up and walking towards Trudy.

‘We haven’t got time,’ giggled Trudy, glancing at the clock. ‘We’re due to meet the others for dinner in less than twenty minutes.’

‘I don’t care,’ he replied, kissing tenderly along Trudy’s exposed shoulders, his hands migrating down the length of her towel.

‘I do!’ she joked. ‘I’m starving!’

‘Can’t we just skip the starter and join them for the main course?’ grinned Eddie. ‘Come on Trude! Have some compassion. I’m dying here!’

‘No, I’m not missing out on the starter,’ said Trudy, pushing Eddie back onto the bed and straddling his body. ‘That’s usually the best bit. But if you can come in the next few minutes, you can have your starter now!’

‘Trudy,’ groaned Eddie as she began to kiss and nibble down his chest and torso. ‘You know I can’t come quickly…I never come quickly.’

‘I had noticed,’ grinned Trudy, slipping her fingers beneath the waistband of his boxer shorts and pulling them away from Eddie’s body to slowly reveal his hugely swollen cock. ‘So, you’ll just have to concentrate, won’t you?’

Running her lips down the narrow line of hair which started just below his tummy button, Trudy quickly encountered Eddie’s twitching cock. As her tongue first made impact across the smooth, taut head, he groaned with pleasure.

‘Oh, God,’ sighed Eddie, his head relaxing back into the pillow as he submitted to Trudy’s gently flicking tongue. ‘Mmmm…that feels so good.’

Gradually, she covered her mouth over the tightly stretched skin, enjoying the contrast of the smooth, wet head and the curves and ridges further down. Tantalisingly, she brought her rhythmically stroking hand into play and, coupled with her eager tongue, began to lead Eddie methodically down the long path to his eventual climax. A little while later, Trudy smiled to herself as Eddie’s moans started to sound more desperate and his body began to clench with the prospect of his impending release.

‘Oh, fuck,’ he groaned, his hands balling tightly into fists around the bed covers. Trudy waited until she felt his cock subtly change shape in her mouth, in preparation to pump into her, and then slowly retracted herself away and began to get dressed.

‘You have got to be fucking kidding me!’ exclaimed Eddie, eyes open wide in astonishment. ‘You wouldn’t dare stop there!’

‘Sorry. Time’s up,’ replied Trudy, trying to maintain a straight face. ‘Your main course will follow later.’ As Trudy fastened her bra, Eddie stared at her reflectively, running his tongue over his teeth.

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