Skip to product information
1 of 4

The Cowboy's Second Chance

The Cowboy's Second Chance

Regular price $5.99 USD
Regular price Sale price $5.99 USD
Sale Sold out
Tax included. Shipping calculated at checkout.
  • Purchase the E-book Instantly
  • Receive Download Link via Email
  • Send to Preferred E-reader and Enjoy


Stacey Perry knows it’s time to give up her dream of becoming a famous actress and return home to North Carolina. Though she’s happy she had a chance to try things her own way, once she reaches her grandparent’s bed and breakfast she tries to find peace and enjoyment there as she helps them. Soon, Aaron Murray, a handsome handyman with a past comes to help take care of the property while her aging grandfather recovers from surgery. Without even meaning to, the two become close friends, and then eventually discover they are exactly what they are each looking for.

When Stacey gets a call from her former agent informing her there is a chance in a lifetime audition for someone of her exact qualifications, she knows she has to go. She doesn’t want any regrets or what-ifs to plague her. But what if she gains one dream and loses the one and only chance she’ll have at finding true love? Can Aaron convince her to give up her dream for him and the dream they could have together, or will his past once again come back to haunt him?

Intro into Chapter One

Stacey counted the money once more, praying she’d been wrong before but knowing it was unlikely that she’d come up with another three hundred dollars by counting again. There was no way she could keep up the charade. As much as she hated to admit it, it was time to pack up and go back home with her tail between her legs. Her parents would never say, “I told you so.” At least not in so many words, but she knew that would be in the back of their minds.
She’d only been able to get a few small roles and a couple of modeling gigs for magazines or stock photo shoots. If she was willing to go against her morals, she could have taken a few other small parts on some less than stellar shows, but when Stacey made her way to heaven someday and met God in person, she didn’t want to have to explain to Him how she had given up her beliefs for a little money.
Bowing her head, she said a sincere prayer of gratitude she’d had the chance to come try things on her own. She’d always loved acting and performing in high school. She had been involved in all the school plays and local theater performances, but deep down, she’d known it wasn’t really a life for her. It was hard to admit that she should have listened to that little voice instead of the wild dreams in her head. Now, it was time to call it quits and figure out her real path in life.
At first, it had all been fun and glamorous. Stacey had found a roommate right away. They were both trying to make it in acting and both incredibly supportive of the other. Things had been amazing for a few months, until Alyssa had gotten a nice role in a movie that was filming on location. Reality had set in when Alyssa had moved out, leaving Stacey to scramble to cover the rent. She’d searched for another roommate, but all the options she’d interviewed hadn’t looked promising. Especially after the first one to replace Alyssa had been selling drugs as a side job till she got her big break.
Besides the issues with rent and lack of roles to play, the romantic entanglements she’d had to sidestep were enough to turn her off to the idea of a relationship. She wanted a solid and long-term commitment instead of just something superficial. Stacey sighed, knowing she’d been incredibly naive when she’d first headed out west. Though she didn’t regret her time out here, it was obviously time to head home.
Stacey contacted her landlord with the information that she would be leaving the place as soon as he’d let her. Since she’d been late on the rent for the third time this year, he was happy to see her go. She finally gritted her teeth and called her mother.
Stacey felt the warmth of her mother’s love wash over her with just the sound of her voice saying hello.
“Hey, Mom.”
“Hi, sugar! So good to hear from you. How are things going?”
Stacey sighed, and her mother, with all the magic and intuition gifted her when Stacey was born replied, “Oh no, honey, what’s wrong?”
Trying to hold in the tears didn’t help, just made her throat hurt, so she let them fall as she told her mother she’d given up and decided to come back home.
“I’m so sorry about that, sweetie.” Her mother’s voice held no censure. Nothing in it to indicate Stacey was stupid to have tried. “I know you really wanted to make a go of it, and you have such talent that I’m surprised it didn’t ever work out for you.”
“Thanks, Mom.” Stacey loved that her mother had such faith in her even through all the setbacks.
“When will you be coming home?”
“I can leave as soon as I get my stuff packed and find a place to get rid of my furniture,” Stacey said. She walked through the small apartment, trying to mentally calculate all the things she’d need to do.
“You driving?”
“Yes,” Stacey said. “So, I should be there in a couple days. Is that okay?”
“Of course, love. You are always welcome here. Besides, Grandma Dee has need of some help at the inn.”
“Really?” Stacey opened the door of her bedroom and started to gather her laundry off the chair and the end of the bed. “What happened?”
“Her cleaner just got married and moved away. Grandpa is still healing up from his shoulder surgery so Grandma could use someone to clean the rooms and help with the cooking. And with spring here now, she’s got a lot of work to do with planting and gardening. You were always so good at helping her during the summers.”
“I don’t know, Mom.
Stacey sat on her bed and stared at the wall in front of her. She had always enjoyed working with her grandmother at the little bed and breakfast they’d started once all their own children had married and moved on. Grandma was the most amazing woman on the planet, but though Stacey and her cousins had all spent summers together learning and growing under Grandma’s watchful care, Stacey didn’t know if she wanted to actually go back to work there full time.
“I think you should call her and see if she’s found anyone. I’m sure she would love to not have to worry about finding a replacement just yet. Especially since she’ll be helping Grandpa so much with his physical therapy appointments. She needs someone who knows how the place works.”
Stacey lay back on her bed and looked at the ceiling. With all that her grandparents had done for her in life, it was only fair that Stacey did something to repay them. Besides, it would be a good way to transition back into the area. And if anyone asked about why she’d given up her acting pursuits, she could always say she had wanted to help her family. A much better answer than the truth that she just couldn’t make it out here.
“I’ll call Grandma for sure.”
“Wonderful,” Mom said. “I’m sure she’ll be so relieved. I wish I could have helped, but my work hours just aren’t flexible enough.”
“I’ll call her now, then get started on my packing.” Stacey sat back up and looked around the room again. It wouldn’t take that long to get things taken care of. “I’ll see you soon.”
“Text me before you leave and stop every now and then to keep me updated on where you are. You know I worry when you drive so far alone. Especially with that car of yours.”
“I will Momma. Thanks for everything. Love you.”
“Love you more,” Mom said.
“Love you mostest,” Stacey said, smiling at the words they’d always said to each other when they were saying goodbye for as long as she could remember. She turned off her phone and surveyed the room. The quicker she got to work on packing, the quicker she could get home and be wrapped up in a hug from the people she loved the most. Yet she almost dreaded the thought of seeing everyone from Greenville, North Carolina. They would all speculate why she was back, and it would be a test of her acting skills to pretend their looks didn’t bother her.
When she finally arrived home and moved back into her parents’ house she’d been welcomed back with open arms. Only a few of them wanted to know if she’d met anyone famous and how different Southern California was from North Carolina. It was easy enough to satisfy their curiosity by giving them only a few tiny stories about celebrity sightings, but she always brought the conversations back to them.
“Nothing can compare to Greenville,” Stacey would say. “In fact, they tried to make sets look as welcoming as my own neighborhood and they couldn’t do it. There’s just something special about us here.”
“Well, ain’t that the truth,” was usually followed by asking about her plans for keeping busy and they happily talked about the inn.
At least no one had asked why she’d quit her acting pursuits. Most seemed genuinely pleased to see her back which added to her peace in her decision. And being back in her grandma’s house, smelling the freshly baked muffins and the scent of dough rising for homemade bread helped her feel even better.
Within days, she found herself in a comfortable routine where she came to the inn early in the morning to help get things ready for the few guests who were staying and help with the maintenance inside. If only she could do more to help Grandpa Joe get his work outside caught up. Dad came up every now and then, and she was happy to hear he had almost convinced Grandma and Grandpa to hire someone full time to get things back on track.


Aaron Murray looked at the massive house that had been turned into a bed and breakfast that everyone called The Inn at Emerald Lake. He had fond memories of stopping here with his mom when she’d come to visit the owners and learn a few tips for making meals or bottling the fruits from their fruit trees. But now, for the next six months or so, it would be where he lived and worked. He’d been hired as a handyman to help out while Mr. Perry recovered from shoulder surgery after an injury when he fell out of a fruit tree last fall.
He’d known Grandma and Grandpa Perry for a couple years before his family had moved out of Emerald Cove, North Carolina to Wyoming where his dad had gotten a job on the ranch his uncle owned. After a few years of some rough living, Aaron had burned too many bridges there and needed a new start. When he’d heard from his cousins, who still lived in Emerald Cove about an hour away from Greenville, that the Perrys who owned the bed and breakfast needed a handyman, he figured he could give it a shot. It would be nice to get away from all the mess his life had become and get to the point where he could overcome his past.
It was a huge blessing they’d agreed to hire him, but since they knew his parents, Aaron was sure it was more for their sakes than for his. He would do everything in his power to not mess it up. He didn’t know how many chances someone got and now that he’d been clean for three years and two months, he knew he could manage day by day and keep himself that way.
Aaron pulled his wide brimmed hat down a little and walked up the steps, his worn cowboy boots stepping in the rubbed off paint spots on the wooden stairs. He’d have to see if Grandpa Joe wanted him to repaint it. Looking around the area, it didn’t look too bad, but there were some small signs of neglect. Of course, Grandpa Joe was pushing seventy. It was amazing he’d been able to keep up with the place as much as he had.
He knocked on the wood frame next to the glass on the front door and peered through the lace curtains. There was the sound of movement from inside and Aaron pulled his hat off, rubbing his hair quickly to hide any signs of a hat line. He expected to see Grandma Dee at the door, but instead he was greeted by a cute, young blonde. She looked up at him with smiling eyes and a friendly expression and it was difficult to remember exactly why he had knocked.
“Hello,” Aaron said after a moment. “I’m here to see Mr. Perry.”
“Grandpa Joe isn’t here right now. He’ll be back within the hour.” Her voice was smooth and sweet with just a hint of roughness, like she would sing alto in his mother’s church choir.
“How about Mrs. Perry?”
The young woman smiled and shook her head. “She’s with him. They’re at his physical therapy appointment.”
Aaron nodded. “Well, they told me to arrive as soon as possible, and they’d get me started on something right away. Any idea what kind of job they needed done?”
The girl tilted her head to the side. “I’m not sure. Who are you?” She looked him up and down as if that would help her figure things out. He hoped she liked what she saw and that she couldn’t read too deep into him.
“Oh, sorry. Guess my manners got a little lost, too. I’m Aaron. Aaron Murray.” He reached out to shake her hand. “They hired me to do some work around the area.”
“I didn’t know they had hired someone yet. Glad you’re here. I’m Stacey Perry.” She placed her hand in his and shook it firmly without hesitation or being too dainty.
“You must be one of their granddaughters, right?” Aaron said.
“Yup, that’s why I call them Grandma and Grandpa.”
Aaron smiled. “I understand more than half the town call them Grandma Dee and Grandpa Joe. I just figured you were the same way.”
Stacey chuckled. “I guess you’ve got a point. They didn’t tell me you’d be coming today. I’m sorry I don’t know what they need you to do. Maybe you could come back in an hour or so?”
Aaron glanced back at his old, beat up, extended cab truck. It had been the best he could do with the funds he had, but a truck was a truck. He would need it for everything he did as a handyman.
“I guess I’ll go wait until they come back. Thanks.”
“Hold up,” Stacey said. “You don’t have to wait in your truck. I mean, if you’re going to be working for them, you might as well come inside.”
“Thank you.” He followed her into the house and took a look around as she pointed to the little room to the side. It held a few comfy looking chairs and a wall with a bookshelf filled with all kinds of books. Probably something to satisfy most every type of reader who might come visit.
A small computer sat on a desk in the corner with a printer and a phone nearby in case anyone needed to use that while on vacation. A little rack with brochures pointing out things to do in the area sat neatly to the side and a cookie jar along with some napkins and a glass bowl with some small hard candies were in the same place he’d remembered from his previous visits. It brought a smile to his lips and he wondered what Stacey would think if he went over and got one.
“I’ve been doing a bit of housework and will be making some lunch soon,” Stacey said. “You hungry? Grandma would skin me alive if I didn’t offer to feed you.”
“I ate before I came, I’m good.” He nodded toward the cookie jar. “I might sneak one of them if that’s okay.”
“Help yourself. If you’d like a drink, there’s some in the fridge.”
“I don’t drink,” Aaron said, more to remind himself as thoughts of his past came to him with the mention of a drink.
Stacey tilted her head again like she couldn’t figure him out. “I’m sure Grandma and Grandpa will appreciate your restraint at their place, but they don’t serve alcohol here. I meant there’s some water, milk, or soda and the like.”
His face heated up and he hoped she didn’t catch on to his embarrassment. “Thanks. I think I’ll grab a water.”
She stepped back from the door and jerked her head in a “follow me” motion then turned toward a long hallway that led to the back of the house.
A wide window that covered almost half of the wall lit up a spacious kitchen with an elaborate array of cooking stoves and counter space.
“Three stoves?”
“It helps when you’re doing all the bottling during the fall.”
“I’ll bet,” Aaron said. “Do you live here with them?”
“No, I live down the road in Greenville with my parents for now,” Stacey said. “I’m here to help while they get Grandpa healed and filling in for their cook and housekeeper since she’s gone now.”
The thought of being able to see her more gave him a boost of dopamine which made him a little cautious. He would be better off staying away from this adorable person. Especially if he wanted to keep his job or his sanity. Throwing a woman in the mix would just be asking for trouble. Of course, it couldn’t hurt to admire her from afar.


Stacey left Aaron in the front room as she returned to the kitchen. She was almost finished with the mopping and would just need to do a quick rinse of the spot under the table. The sound of a ceramic lid being removed, then soon after, replaced made her sure he’d opened the cookie jar. She’d just refilled it with fresh homemade chocolate chip cookies and wondered what he thought of them.
A few moments later as she moved the mop back and forth on the floor, she heard the cookie jar lid once more. Apparently, he liked her cookies. She kept glancing toward the doorway wishing she could see him from there. Unfortunately, she just had to go by memory of their quick meeting. Aaron was likely a good foot taller than she was, and he looked strong and capable enough that she figured he was going to be the perfect kind of help to take care of all the things Grandpa Joe couldn’t do.
She’d only talked to him for a few moments, but he seemed like a genuine enough guy that she hoped he would work out well here. Grandpa Joe definitely needed help and while Stacey was great at the cooking and cleaning aspect to help Grandma Dee, she had none of the skill sets grandpa Joe needed. Aaron, on the other hand, was built for work. His arms were well defined, and she knew her weakness for a well-muscled man would be tested by just being around him.
Once the mop was wrung out and hung to dry, Stacey returned to the front area. Instead of sitting and scrolling through a phone or anything, Aaron was looking out the window at things outside. His broad shoulders and trim waist made her sure he would have the physical stamina to help Grandpa.
With another few steps into the room, she finally caught his attention and he turned to look at her. His smile sent a little tingle of anticipation through her, and she paused a moment. Not sure exactly what to do, she watched him as he tucked one hand into a pocket. He seemed a little nervous and she wanted to make him more comfortable.
“Have you ever been to the inn here?”
“It’s been a while,” Aaron said. “My mom brought me here a few times when she came to visit Grandma Dee. Things have changed a little.”
“Would you like a tour of the area? You’ll be helping Grandpa with all the little fixes, right?”
Aaron nodded. “That would help to know where things are.”
“We’ll do a fast tour of the inside, then the area around the house. I’ll let Grandpa show you all the farther out stuff.”
“Sounds good.”
Stacey turned back toward the dining area and kitchen and motioned for him to follow her. She glanced back to see him duck just a little as they went through the doorway into the dining room. Even as tall and broad shouldered as he was, there was just something more about him that filled the room. He carried himself like a man who knew who and what he was, but there wasn’t any of that overbearing pompous attitude.
Thank heavens for that. If she was going to have to work in the same place as him, it was nice to know she wouldn’t have to deal with a monster ego from the guy.
“That is a big table,” Aaron said.
“There are ten rooms here, so when it’s all booked out, we have lots of people to feed. Not everyone eats dinner at the same time, but sometimes we have all twelve seats full plus another table we set up to the side there.”
“Sounds busy.”
“It can be,” Stacey said. “Reminds me a lot of when we were growing up and spent Thanksgiving here.”
Stacey waved her hand again and motioned for him to follow. “Breakfasts are sometimes served in here. Other times we have folks eat at the bar counter in the kitchen.” She opened the door but didn’t go in. “I just mopped the kitchen, so we won’t go there, but there is a back door that leads to the backyard and garden spots. Most of the time, Grandma and Grandpa use that door to get out to the garage. Grandpa has a mud room where he can clean up if he’s done lots of work in the orchard or garden. The guests all use the front door for their comings and goings.”
Aaron didn’t get very close to peek into the kitchen and she wondered if it was just boring to him or if he didn’t want to get too close since they wouldn’t be going inside. As soon as she shifted on her feet, Aaron stepped back against the wall to give her plenty of space. She glanced at him, a little curious about his behavior, but pushed the thought aside.
They walked back through the dining room to continue the tour. “We’ve also got a sitting room that is sometimes used as a playroom when there are young families staying here. It’s at the back of the house and faces the backyard with a door there. Kids will come and go from that room to play in the yard or the tree house.”
Aaron just nodded. He didn’t say much at all as they walked through the house and up the stairs to see the different rooms and bathrooms. “Four rooms have a private bathroom connected to them. There’s two on this floor that share the one at the end of the hallway. Upstairs, there are four more rooms. Two have private baths, the other two share like this one.”
“That’s a lot of plumbing.”
Stacey smiled. “I remember when my parents and one of my uncles were here helping with the remodel. When they were finished, I asked my dad to put a private bathroom connected to my bedroom, but he just laughed at me. Could never figure out why until I got a little older and understood how much work it took to do something like that.”
“I’ve helped on a few remodels and can’t imagine doing something on this scale. How long did it take them?”
“More than a year, I think. They didn’t hire out contractors or anything. Mostly did it themselves once all my aunts and uncles were married and moved out.”
“It’s a nice place for sure.”
“I love it,” Stacey said. “I’m sure you’ll grow to love it as well.” She walked back down the hallway toward the staircase that would lead up to the third floor or back to the main level. Before she could ask if he wanted to see the upper floor, she heard the door downstairs open.
“Stacey,” Grandpa’s voice called. “You here?”
“Upstairs,” Stacey called. “Your guy Aaron is here. Just giving him a tour.”
“Wonderful,” Grandpa called up. “Bring him down so we can say hello, then I can put him to work.”
Stacey turned to Aaron. “You ready for this?”
“Yup,” Aaron said. “The sooner he puts me to work, the better.”
Stacey smiled. “No wonder they hired you. That sounds just like what Grandpa would say.”
Aaron’s complexion changed just a little. Not enough she thought it was a blush, but enough she knew her words had meant something to him. As they walked down the stairs, Stacey just a few steps ahead of him, Grandpa Joe came around the corner and looked up the staircase.
“Good to see you made it, Aaron. Sorry we weren’t here to meet you when you arrived.”
“No worries,” Aaron said. “Stacey took good care of me.”
“That’s my girl,” Grandpa said. “Come in and meet Dee. Then I’ll take over the rest of the tour and show you what kind of help I’ll be needing first.”
As Aaron disappeared with Grandpa, Stacey turned toward the laundry room to get back to her own jobs, but she couldn’t get thoughts of Aaron out of her head. He was quiet and reserved, but confident in ways as well. Such a contradiction and she found herself rather liking the idea of figuring him out a little more.

She's given up her dream of acting, he needs to turn over a new leaf. They meet at the Inn at Emerald Lake and begin working there. Without even meaning to, the two become close friends, eventually discovering they are exactly what they are each looking for.

Main Tropes

  • Heading
  • Heading
  • Heading
View full details