Hello lovelies! Today I wanted to share a sneak peek at my novel, Second Chance Cowgirl. If you have read it already, I would love to hear what you thought in the comments below. 🙂 Want more? I will have the link below on where you can purchase it for only $2.99!!
Drum roll please…
SLOANE PULLED HER brand new, icy white Silverado onto the paved, tree lined driveway of her dream house. This was a big moment, and she could feel the nervous hum radiating within her. Her co-worker had met her there, his black Tahoe was already parked out front. She sat in the air-conditioning for a minute more, taking in the cedar shake on the front gables and the bright red door she had painted when it was first purchased. Sloane felt that it begged you to come inside and sit by the fire to take in the sweeping mountain views. Seeing it brought a smile to her face. However, it had been almost eighteen months since she stepped foot inside. Getting ready to change her life forever, she grabbed her leather purse and placed wire rimmed sunglasses over her eyes to hide any tears that might decide to jump ship.
“Tim!” Sloane cried out and wrapped her arms around him. He was more than a co-worker really, he was her only true friend in Jackson Hole since it all happened. Everyone else seemed to drift away, and she was grateful for him being here with her to do this.
“Sloane! I’m glad you asked me to help.” He smiled down at her.
“Because you’re excited for the commission?” She joked, giving him a light punch on the arm. They were both successful real estate agents in Jackson Hole, and Sloane could not imagine anyone else selling her home for her.
“Pretty much.” He laughed, running his hands through his thick, dark hair. “Are you sure you want to do this? It’s such a beautiful property.” She could hear the concern in his voice and knew he meant how it was a once in a lifetime find.
“You could buy it from me? If you like it so much…” She muttered, not meaning to be cross. Sloane dug the toe of her boot into the asphalt of the driveway and sighed. “I’m sorry, it’s just hard.”
“I know, and I can’t imagine your hurt. Plus, I couldn’t buy it. It’ll always be yours and Joseph’s house. It wouldn’t feel right living here. This is a family house, too. And I am not there yet in life.” He winked down at Sloane with his captivating blue eyes, making her smile. She was always in awe of how someone so kind and handsome was still single, but gosh did he like to play the field. Secretly she was glad, some women would not like how he had a woman for a best friend. Their relationship had never crossed the line, which was not surprising. Tim and Joseph had been best friends, and Tim would never do that to him, even in death.
“Okay, let’s do this. Let’s take the pictures and get it listed. I’ll use the money to buy a ranch back home.” Sloane said, blurting out her new plan.
“What?” Tim said, shocked and stilled by her news. “You’re moving home?”
“I need to. I’m not sure what’s there for me honestly, maybe just familiarity; and even that is a chance. It’s been so long since I have been back to Sheridan that people might not even remember me.”
“Not remember Sloane Murphy the rodeo queen? Doubtful.” He joked. “Does your gorgeous friend still live there? What was her name?”
“Yes, the red head.” Tim said, drifting off with his thoughts.
“She still lives there, Tim. Yes. She is a veterinarian now.”
“And still single?” He asked. Sloane glanced up at him with a warning look in her bright, green eyes and offered him a half smile.
“Yes, she and John just broke up. So no funny ideas, she’s in a sad state just yet.”
“Fine.” Tim said, relinquishing the idea of the beautiful red headed doctor, for now. “You just let me know when she’s ready.” He winked at her and went back to taking photos of the exterior.
“Time to go inside then?” Sloane asked.
“You can do this, and you should. You need to say goodbye.” He grabbed her hand and led her through the cherry red door.
Sloane’s breath caught at the sight of the large leather brown couch and two cow hide chairs sitting in front of the two-story rocked fireplace. They were her early wedding present from Joseph.
“I want the furniture to go with me to Sherdian when I move.” She managed, and a few tears rolled down her soft, porcelain cheek. “I can’t do this.” She stopped and leaned on the cool, dark brown granite countertop. Taking a few deep breaths, she was able to steady herself. Tim ran a hand down her back and brought her in for a long hug.
“You can do this. I know you can.” He choked as his eyes grew misty. “I’m here and you’re so strong. Remember that. It’s not what you planned, I know that. Heck, it’s not what anyone planned.” He squeezed his muscular arms around her slim frame even tighter. “Let’s get the photos done and I’ll buy you lunch; you can tell me all about your move home. I’m curious if you’ve found a house yet.” Sloane looked up at Tim and kissed his smooth cheek, grateful to have such a caring friend.
“That sounds good, and I have. You’ll love it. Its four-hundred acres and perfect for what I want to do with it.” She took a deep breath and stepped away from the kitchen so Tim could take photos for the listing.
BEAU WALKED INTO the café to grab lunch after getting feed at the co-op in town. The smell of freshly ground coffee and warm roast beef sandwiches hit him like a wall and his stomach growled loudly.
“Why, Beau Brooks, you hungry?” the waitress chuckled as she walked him over to a seat at the bar.
“I guess I forgot to eat breakfast this morning.” He replied.
“Well that’ll teach you to keep a woman!” Laughed a voice three seats to his right. “But then again, my wife can’t cook. Maybe it’ll teach you how to use a toaster.”
“Dan, you horses-ass.” Beau said into his coffee cup as he took his first, long pull. The warm liquid calmed him and the fan blowing across the bar cooled him. He looked over and saw two familiar men chatting just a seat away, so he moved over and joined in the conversation. Dan and Jim were two brown haired, blue eyed brothers that also lived off of Highway 14, not too far from Beau. Dan and Jim were two of his closest friends in town; they had all gone to high school together and never left home.
“Jim, how’s your leg?” Beau asked. Jim took his cowboy hat off and set it on the counter next to him as the waitress set down two plates of eggs and sausages in front of the men. “Nancy, I’ll have that also, please.”
“You bet, Beau.” She said with a flirtatious smile and a wink. Beau knew he was a handsome enough cowboy, with a muscular frame and a chiseled face; though he blushed at the attention from the waitress and tried to ignore her advance, knowing his friend had been pining for her.
“Now why don’t I get a wink anymore, Nancy?” Jim joked, brushing back his shaggy dark hair back with his hand, tucking it behind his ear. He took another bite of eggs and looked over at Beau after she turned her back to him. “Oh, I’m alright. Doc says that was my last surgery, so I will be able to keep teaching my riding lessons.” He said. “Which is great because those hospitals cost a pretty penny to visit.”
“I reckon you’re the one keeping them in business, brother.” Dan joked. Jim had been a big name in local rodeo until one summer in college a bull bucked him hard enough that he hit the ground and broke his back and right leg. “In all seriousness, I am glad you’re done with surgeries. Having to feed you while you recover is getting difficult with all these kids May keeps having.” Dan said with a laugh.
“Keeps having? Are you guys having another?” Jim asked, already an uncle to two little boys.
“Yeah, she’s about three months now and gosh I hope it’s a girl. We need some balance in our house, poor May.” Dan said.
“Congratulations, brother.” Jim offered.
“Yeah, congratulations Dan.” Beau said as Nancy set his plate down in front of him. His stomach growled even louder this time and she giggled.
“You know, Nancy. I can go without food too, if it makes you laugh.” Jim said to her, only half joking. He had been smitten with her since she graduated high school and came to work here at the café. She was three years younger than him and full of sass.
“That’s okay, Jim.” She smiled. Her sleek, dark hair highlighted her strong, Native cheek bones and his heart melted a bit. Not wanting to lose the moment, Jim asked her to dinner. To offer them a bit of privacy, Dan turned to Beau to begin a conversation of their own.
“That’s great news about Jims back and leg.” Beau said, picking up on Dan’s gesture of turning towards him. “How’s your crop this year?”
“Small.” Dan said. “If I wasn’t breeding horses, I don’t think we could survive. This years’ potatoes and corn are smaller than last year and this drought is driving my profits into the damn dry ground. I barely have enough water to keep the horses going. And May is pregnant, again.” Dan continued, sweat beading on his brow. “This is number three. We are about to be outnumbered, I don’t know what we’re going to do.”
“Congratulations though.” Beau said, patting his friend on the back and offering a smile of pity and concern. “I have that pond on my back forty, if you need to fill up at all. It’s almost out but the creek is keeping it cool. I just wish we had gotten more snow this last winter.”
“Oh, me too. And thanks.” Dan said. “I hear this winter is going to be a doozey, and I’m glad.”
“Yeah, that’ll be nice. Hopefully I will have bought the land next to mine by then and can get some more cattle. Its four-hundred acres, you know? Gosh what I would do for ten or eleven more cows a year.” Beau said wishfully while running his rough, tan hand through his sandy blonde hair.
“I heard it’s got an offer in on it, Beau.” Dan said as he wiped egg from his mustache with a napkin. “Sorry man.” Beau choked a bit on his breakfast as hot anger rose up through him.
“What? I had talked to the Peterson’s just this last spring and told them I would have the money for a down as soon as I killed off three more cows!” Beau hit his hand to the counter and everyone in the café turned to look at him. He glanced up and saw their faces in the mirrors above the prep counter behind the bar. “Sorry, y’all.” He said to the crowd, and they went back to talking and eating as they were.
“Who did you hear this from?” Beau asked Dan.
“Mr. Peterson was over yesterday, asking to borrow my horse trailer to move their last three horses from the barn. Says he got a cash offer and couldn’t refuse it. They bought a small place on about five acres just off Fifth Street. Their kids are gone now, you know, and in college. Said it was great timing and that the buyer is some rich real estate agent from Jackson Hole.” Dan said with his own regretful, pity smile.
“Well, that just blows. Great! Some hoity toity real estate agent not only stole my chance at more cows, but I have to have them as my neighbor!” Beau was visibly upset.
“Sorry, man.” Dan offered. Just then, Jim burst into the conversation, pulling his brother back so that he had a good view of them both.
“She said yes.” Jim managed, his voice shaking with excitement while trying to stay quiet.
“What? That’s awesome, brother. How did you manage that?” Dan joked.
“Very funny, Dan.” He scowled. “But yeah, I told her I had wanted to ask her out for ten years now and she laughed and then I realized how pathetic that was and admitted it and well, she found it endearing.” He smiled. “I’m taking her to the Chop House on Friday.” He beamed.
“That’s great.” Beau offered, half-heartedly.
“Thanks, I think. Who pissed you off?” Jim asked, obviously out of the loop.
“Someone bought the Peterson’s before he could, and it’s some wealthy real estate guy from Jackson Hole, so he’s all pickled about it.” Dan said.
“I’m sorry, Beau.” Jim said, still not able to hide his smile.
“It’s okay, I guess it wasn’t meant to be. Just not sure where to go from here. My ten cows a year I have now aren’t exactly paying the bills.”
“You still have horses, don’t you?” Dan asked.
“Yeah, she didn’t take any of the horses. Just my damn dog.” Beau said, biting his tongue.
“Way to bring that up, Dan.” Jim said as he gave his twin brother a shove.
“It’s okay, really. I am over her more than I can say. Hard to love someone after they ruin everything like that.”
“I can imagine.” Dan said. “Well, why don’t you do something with the horses?”
“Like what?” Beau asked while rubbing his temples, his elbows on the counter.
“Maybe you could sell them? Or go on cattle drives for other ranchers?” Jim said.
“Yeah, I couldn’t sell them. But I wouldn’t mind a drive now and then. I’ve been able to keep Randy on, he helps me around the farm quite a bit. I bet he could manage.” Beau pondered the idea.
“I still can’t believe they sold it without talking to you.” Jim said. “Seems old Mr. Peterson would have more couth than that.” Just then, Nancy walked over to the men and shushed them.
“Do you boys not see that he is right there having coffee with the Mayor? Good grief.” She said, rolling her eyes. Turning back to her work, she gave Jim a wink.
“There’s my wink!” Jim exclaimed, laughing.
“I’ll be right back.” Beau said, leaving his cream colored cowboy hat on the counter. He walked over to the table where Mr. Peterson was talking with the Mayor, Reginald Rayes.
“Mr. Peterson, I wanted to talk to you.” Beau said sternly. The man looked up, meeting his dark green eyes with a kind smile. Beau felt the anger instantly begin to dissipate and empathy took over. “Now, I know you couldn’t turn down a cash offer. And y’all have always been good to me as a neighbor. I was angry you sold it to someone else, but now I am happy for you that you got to downsize the way you wanted.”
“Thank you, Beau. I really do feel bad. I know how much you wanted that land. But you’re right, there was just no way to turn down a million dollars cash.” Mr. Peterson said and Beau choked.
“A million dollars?” He whispered, asking if he was serious. “You said you would sell it to me for four hundred thousand.”
“Yes, son. I did. Your daddy was a friend of mine up to the day he died, and I always wanted to look after you.”
“Well, thank you for the gesture and I really am happy for you, now.” Beau chuckled, and nodded his goodbye.
Bellying back up to the bar, he smiled as he took a sip of his freshly refilled coffee.
“That was not what I was expecting.” Dan said.
“Me either.” Beau replied. “But, everything happens for a reason I suppose. I reckon it’s time to start looking for some bigger cattle drives to work on.”
SLOANE WAS FOLLOWING the moving truck through town when her phone rang in through her speakers.
“Hello?” She said, answering it with the push of a button on her steering wheel.
“Are you here yet?” Bethany asked on the other side of the line. “I can’t wait to see you, it’s been too long.”
“I just got into town and I’m following the moving truck right now. It still seems so surreal. Not much has changed.”
“I told you! Okay, I get off at five. The Callen’s have a foal that’s sick; I have to swing by when I get off here, and then I’ll be up!” She squealed.
“Perfect. Bring pizza and beer! Please.” Sloane begged.
“Done and done!” Bethany said before hanging up.
The radio station played an old, crooning country song as Sloane looked out the window of her truck, taking in all of the diners and little shops that her and her mother used to frequent when she was younger. Her heart ached a bit at the thought of her parents. They had been gone for ten years and she would give anything to have them here now. Tim always said she probably would not have lasted in Jackson Hole as long as she did had her parents not have passed. While she was in college, they were the only reason she used to come home. Bethany always came out to see her and enjoyed taking her vacations in the big city.
Turning off of Highway Fourteen and onto Piney Creek Road, her heart started to pound and her face felt flush. She had never seen this plot of land before, but her in depth real estate search came up that it was at a steal of a deal having just been remodeled. And when Bethany went to check it out for her, she said it was the farmhouse she had always pictured Sloane in.
Once they made it to the gravel road, the moving truck slowed cautiously to make sure they were going the right way and her belly filled with butterflies. This was her new life, and she was ready to embrace it with open arms. The driveway branched off to the right toward her new home and over to the left she saw a small, working cattle farm. There was a red farmhouse, old but nice, and two men working horses in the front round pens. She smiled at being back in Sheridan. Small town rodeo was in her blood and she was glad to be back in the thick of it all.
There it was, the farmhouse of her dreams. It was even better than the pictures and she jumped out of her truck as quickly as she could. Grinning from ear to ear, she shooed some mosquitoes away from her bare, tan legs and adjusted her jean shorts. She stretched and made her way up to the sprawling covered front porch.
“Where would you like us to start putting the boxes, ma’am?” One of the movers asked Sloane, already having loaded two boxes in his arms.
“Oh! Yes, right in here is fine. I have them marked so it should be easy. The master bedroom is downstairs and the office and spare room are upstairs. That’s all I know for now. I haven’t even been here yet.” She grinned.
“That’s nice.” He smiled politely, obviously in a hurry to get his job done. Not letting it phase her, she skipped up the three stairs to the white washed sitting porch and opened the carved wooden, dutch door. It was painstakingly detailed, with horses and filigrees filling up each piece.
“Excuse me, miss.” The mover said as he cleared his throat.
“Sorry, right. Here we go.” Sloane muttered as she stepped into the home for the first time. Making sure to get out of their way, she dodged into the kitchen just to the right of the entry way and soaked it all up. The sun beamed in from large windows on the front of the house and the warm light flooded the kitchen. There were rusted, green lights hanging from the ceiling over the sink and the peninsula where she planned to put bar stools. The counter tops were a white granite that juxtaposed the dark blue bottom cabinets. There were open, live edge wood shelves along the wall toward the back of the kitchen and a large stainless steel fridge finished out the horseshoe shaped room. She placed her hands down on the cool stone of the peninsula and smiled. This was hers, and this was her new dream.
She watched a while as the movers brought her boxes and furniture in. Once they had started to bring things upstairs, she decided to check out the rest of the house. On the left side on the entry was the dining room that flowed into the living room. The walls were donned with floor to ceiling windows and she relished in the sunlight they gave. Sloane began taking measurements for the curtains she would need to buy and was jotting them down on a piece of paper. She startled as a hard knock at the door echoed through the unpacked house, causing her to smear her notes.
“Damnit.” She whispered and turned to see who was at the door. It was only two in the afternoon and she knew it could not have been Bethany yet.
Sloane looked and saw the man who had knocked. He was a handsome cowboy and his tall, muscular frame was taking up most of her doorway. Her mouth dried a bit as her heart began to race. Clearing her throat, she made her way over to politely say hello.
“Hi there, I’m Sloane.” She said, extending her hand out.
“Hi.” He said sternly, and she took a step back, retreating her hand to her side when he did not shake it. Clearly he was not in a good mood to see her moving in and the tone of his voice took her by surprise.
“You’re one of the men I just saw outside next door, right? Your horses are beautiful. Can I help you with something?” She asked, trying to not let her temper get the best of her. Wanting to start off on the right foot with her new neighbor, she bit her tongue. What she really wanted to say was, “Who the hell do you think you are, coming into my house like that all rude and sweaty!” She sighed. He was sweaty, and tan, and his dirty white shirt did little to hide the bulging muscles that lay underneath it.
“Yes, I am. I own the cattle ranch next door. We’re a small operation. We had bigger plans, but your husband bought this place from underneath me.” He groaned. “Where is he, I would like to at least shake his hand and attempt to be cordial.”
“I beg your pardon? Is this your attempt at being cordial? My goodness, were you raised by wolves?” Shaking her head in disbelief that she found this rude cowboy at all attractive. “I do not have a husband, this is my home. Do you have a problem with that? Because that’s really how it sounds.”
“You own this house? You’re the rich, hoity toity real estate agent from Jackson Hole?”
“Excuse me?” She demanded. “My finances are none of your business. I do not know what on earth you’re complaining about, I did not do you wrong by buying this ranch; at least not on purpose. I am not hoity toity. And I’m from Sheridan, to boot! Now it’s time you leave. Nice to meet you.” She said, and walked away from him. Kicking herself for not slamming the door in his face. Sloane decided to take a deep breath and get back to measuring windows for curtains. For now, she would tackle the master bedroom and would continue the living room once he had left.
“He didn’t even tell me his name.” She thought aloud to herself as she began. She was fuming at how rude her new neighbor had been to her. “And I don’t even know what he was talking about, buying it from under him. That is not how I do business, my word.” She huffed, then jumped as one of the movers came into the room with a box.
“Are you okay, miss?” He asked.
“I am, thank you. Just not the welcome I was hoping to receive is all.” She sighed and went about to finish her task.
The wood planks along the walls in the bedroom felt dark and stuffy, not at all as light and airy as the rest of the house. She decided they needed to be painted, and put that and a new bathroom shower curtain on her list. She would have to make a trip to town tomorrow. Sloane made her way to the living room so the movers would be able to put her rot-iron bed together before they left. She stood in the window that was to the left of the wood stove and could feel the sunlight heating her body. She was a slight woman with generous curves and long, strawberry blonde hair. Feeling warm and right in the sunlight, Sloane took a deep breath, deciding to let go the happenings between her and her apparently nameless new neighbor. Feeling like she was being stared at, she shaded her eyes and saw a man on a beautiful bay quarter horse. It was him, and she felt her blood boil. What on earth was he doing, plotting on how to take her land? Rolling her eyes in annoyance, she waved, hoping it would piss him off. It worked, he rode off quickly clearly not liking that he had been caught. Sloane laughed to herself and made her way to see the upstairs.
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