Authors: Audra Harders
Tags: #Christian Books & Bibles, #Literature & Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Western & Frontier, #Religion & Spirituality, #Fiction, #Religious & Inspirational Fiction, #Christian Fiction, #Inspirational
SECOND CHANCE RANCH
The wait is over. Yes, the second of Audra Harders’ Davidson brothers stories is here, and what a story it is! Set against the beautiful Rocky Mountains, Second Chance Ranch is the memorable tale of Zac and Jen, who shared a past and whose present puts them on a collision course. Don’t miss this heartwarming story of love, loss and second chances. —
, author of With Autumn’s Return
Second Chance Ranch is a winner! Don’t miss this uplifting read, reminiscent of television’s Touched by an Angel.—
, multi-published author
Now this is my kind of romance! A haunted heroine, a hunky hero, and enough heat to fan the smoldering remains of a lost love into a cozy campfire that warms both heart and soul. With languid and easy prose and a fresh plot guaranteed to tug on your emotions, Audra Harders has captured the essence of “cowboy” in this sweet and poignant love story that provides the perfect “chance” for a great read. —
, award-winning author of The Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change series.
2014 by Audra Harders
All rights are reserved to the author.
By payment of required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this book. No part of this text may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, decompiled, reverse engineered or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented without the express written permission of copyright owner.
The reverse engineering, uploading, and/or distributing of this book via the internet or via any other means without the permission of the copyright owner is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy or copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. To obtain permission to excerpt portions of the text, please contact the author at [email protected]
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Bible verse references from:
New Living Translation
, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Revised Standard Version
, Thomas Nelson and Sons
Cover design by
Covers By Rogenna
To my wonderful hero husband, Gary, who encouraged me to follow my heart. God blessed me with the best when he brought you into my life.
Any work of fiction is a collaborative effort and I thank all those who collaborated with me — even when you weren’t in the mood. Any errors in this work of fiction are completely owned by the author.
To Kara Harders, who answered so many of my clueless questions about farming and equipment. You didn’t roll your eyes too much when I asked about crops and rotations. Thanks for letting me pester you. You’ll always be my favorite daughter.
To Leslie Ann Sartor, fellow author and feedback partner. I love every moment of our road trips and retreats where we spend days tossing ideas back and forth until we’ve assembled characters and plots worthy to be called books. Thanks for your unshakable faith in me.
To Rogenna Brewer, who hadn’t a clue what she was getting herself into when she agreed to design my covers. You are a very patient person and your creative talent corralled together all my fragmented ideas and combined them into a cover I adore. Thanks for taking me on as a client.
To Amanda, Julie, Mary and Ruthy who gave unselfishly of their time to help me with conflict and plot issues. This book would not be as strong today if you hadn’t taken time away from your own writing to offer suggestions and shower kudos. You guys are the best!
To my Seeker sisters, the best support system ever! I thank God every day He brought us together.
To my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ for blessing me with the desire to write. May my stories always make You smile.
Special thanks to:
To Jan Warren Harders, who never batted an eye when I asked her questions about cancer, transplants and treatments. Thanks for sharing your many years of experience nursing oncology patients. You have a heart as big as the shadow you cast. I’ll never say it enough — welcome to the family.
To the Oncology Department of the Cass Regional Medical Center in Harrisonville, MO for insight into the world of transplants and the difference they make in peoples’ lives. You guys are the best!!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for Me in earnest, you will find Me when you seek Me.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 NLT
A throaty cry reverberated through the dense pine trees.
Zac Davidson jerked back from the gas-operated rake in the equipment barn and squinted toward the massive log house across the dirt parking lot. The shadow of a red-tailed hawk swept across the ground. Known for its raptor habitat, the mountainous forest on the Trails’ End Ranch provided a grand playground for birds of all sorts attracting wildlife to the Trails’ End Ranch year long. The remote grandeur surrounding the ranch houses and outbuildings contrasted sharply with the two thousand fertile acres of hay that comprised the rest of the property directly across the Highland Creek. Zac loved it here. Though his family owned the Circle D Ranch a couple of miles away, his heart had always belonged to the Trails’ End, and with patience, it would soon belong to him.
Another scream filled the air, this time from the back of the log house. Dropping the side panel of the rake, he sprinted across the lot, his boots kicking gravel along the well-worn path around the parked vehicles. He followed the rough board porch that wrapped around the house. The back door stood open as cool air from a fan blew out. An ocean tide of water covered the floor of the country-style kitchen.
“Patrick, I’m glad you came.” Feminine frustration bounced off the pine cabinets. “I can’t shield the water and turn off the main line under the sink at the same time.”
Jennifer O’Reilly stood beside the kitchen sink, every tall, slender inch of her a soaking mess. Eyes squeezed shut, she held a roasting pan over the faucet to divert spewing water into the sink. Her long, wet hair hung down her back and across her face. Every doubt he might have had about returning home vanished with the memories of what he’d left behind so many years ago.
Nudging her aside, Zac shouldered his way under the sink. He’d correct her assumption of which shining knight had come to her rescue later. Right now, water poured from another leak in the goose-neck pipe creating a lake the size of Blue Mesa Reservoir. He grabbed the water shut-off, turning it tightly.
Water still dripped from the pipe, but from the silence up top, he’d say he’d accomplished his task. “You okay?”
“Better now.” The pan dropped to the floor as her legs shifted beside him. “Didn’t have time to read the fix-it manual.”
Zac wormed out from under the sink and pulled himself up. Jen had a towel pressed to her eyes. She scrubbed it up over her hair and caught sight of him. A moment passed before recognition dawned.
“Hey, Bean. When did you turn plumber?” The familiar nickname just rolled off his tongue. “Thought the medical world needed soft hearts like you in the hospital, not under a sink.”
Her eyes widened then returned to normal as she wrung water from her hair. “Nothing wrong with developing a few domestic skills.” She brushed the towel over her shirt and sleeves. “What are you doing here? When did you get into town?”
He ignored the cool welcome and tugged her toward him. Their soaked shirts plastered together as her fingers ran across his back out of habit, inspecting him for injury. Since they were kids, Jen displayed her father’s astuteness for assessing him for injury. Usually scrapes and bruises, and most times, her instincts were spot on.
Right now, he thought not of injury nor the girl, but more the soul mates they’d been in high school. Zac enveloped her in his embrace and as she turned to protest, he claimed her lips in a kiss as if his teenage years hadn’t passed. Her lips molded into place with just as much eagerness. He could handle welcome homes like this all day long. Before his latent teenage urges took complete control, he pulled away and grinned at her startled frown. “Pulled into town this morning. Thought I’d see if Hawk Ridge was ready for Zac Davidson to come home. I guess it is.”
“You’re home? For how long this time?” She leaned back until a wedge of air separated them, her bright blue gaze searching his face. A quick shake of her head sent a strand of hair whipping across her cheek. “Nevermind. Why stop here? Jess Eklund’s not here. Hasn’t been for years.”
“Heard you were up here and thought I’d stop by before heading to the Circle D.” He studied the pipe grease about her knuckles and smeared across her shirt. “Told ya I’d always be there when you needed me.”
The temperature dropped in the room. A squint of suspicion took the place of greeting as her fingers dug into his biceps and she grew still. “Zac, I’m glad whatever you have going on in Hawk Ridge brought you by the ranch today. I couldn’t have stopped the deluge without you.”
“You’d have gotten along fine like always.” The soaked blue paisley western shirt she wore layered over an equally soaked tee clung to her womanly curves. Tucked into the waistband of her Cruel Girl jeans, the shirts bunched as she pushed damp strands from her face with one hand. Despite the unexplained brush-off, he couldn’t help but appreciate the beautiful cowgirl she’d grown into.
“Probably.” She nodded, the muscles in her delicate jaw worked. “Drop in on a whim and leave with a flash. Just like always.”
Her cynical note issued a challenge. “That’s not true.”
“Remember the wedding?”
“Gabe’s wedding? Of course I do. We had a blast.”
She dropped her hold of him and stepped back, the tips of her toes peeking out from under her boot-cut jeans as puddles splashed all around. “You were here for two weeks before the wedding, you made me believe you missed the ol’ town and all your friends. You said you thought it was about time you came home.” Her eyes flashed as she took a breath. Her knuckles turned white as she gripped the edge of the countertop, agitation pumping steam through her system. “I told you I didn’t want to go to the wedding as your date. I told you people would take it the wrong way. I told you the town would talk.”
Her voice caught as her shoulders squared and all the fight came to a head. “They sure got to talking when you left the next morning without saying goodbye.”
He’d escorted the prettiest girl in town, besides his sister-in-law, of course. They’d danced and laughed all night. He’d felt a part of something special and the feeling had nothing to do with the joy of his brother’s wedding. He’d stayed at the wedding longer than he should have, but he just couldn’t leave. Because of Jen, he hadn’t felt the ever present censure of the town, tolerated the disapproving looks from people with long memories, felt like apologizing for every misdeed he’d ever committed.