Ten Years ago love slipped through Chance’s lasso. This time “He was going after her and she didn’t stand a chance, just like a calf in a chute, he was going to rope her with his love and ride back into her life.”
Carrie Stewart is a dedicated horsewoman. She runs a successful breeding and training program. She is a good friend, a good sister and a favorite aunt, but she has been burned by love. Carrie has never gotten over her first love, Chance Ryan. After ten years of absence Chance shows back up in her life. Should she risk her heart again, with the man who left it broken at her feet in the past? Chance has some serious work ahead of him to win back the one woman he could never forget.
It had been ten years since Carrie was last at Congress. She was a competitor then. She’d almost forgotten how exciting it all was, so many people, so many beautiful animals, adrenaline running high, and everyone hoping for the performance of a lifetime. On the AQHA circuit, the All American Quarter Horse Congress was the star. Winning here meant fame, acclaim and in many cases money, if not from the win itself, then from the increase in your horse’s worth, especially for stallions and mares, where their show history dictated their stud fees and foal prices.
They watched the calf roping from a good spot in the center of the stands through the first two eliminations, Tyler talking non-stop through it all. It was amazing how much her nephew knew about the sport for only being ten years old. He was enthralled and obviously having a ball. Around lunch time they headed to the exhibition building. The trade show didn’t start for a few more days, but, there were already plenty of vendors set up to sell their wares. You could buy anything you wanted for a horse or rider at these big shows. Saddles, bridles, blankets, hats, boots, jeans, belts, and the jewelry. It always amazed Carrie how much jewelry was available at these things, everything from one of a kind, hand-crafted pieces, to mass produced costume jewelry. If racing was “the sport of kings” then the AQHA was “the sport of queens”.
The people here had money and loved to spend it.
They found a hot dog stand and grabbed a couple footlongs and strolled through the displays.
“Before we head over to the Coliseum for the roping, I need to check out the auction barn” Carrie told Tyler.
“There are a couple mares I want to check out. Okay?”
“Yeah, that’s cool.”
Damn, she really hoped the mares she’d spotted in the catalogue looked as good as they sounded. After checking the map and locating the barn they needed, they made the long trek across the grounds to Barn H. Horses up for sale in auction were housed in this area with their information sheets tacked to the stall doors.
Some of the owners were milling about to answer questions or groom their horses. Carrie walked down the center aisle scrutinized the information sheets in search of the horses she wanted to see.About half-way down the aisle she spotted the Palomino mare. As she stepped up to the stall door the two men inside turned at her approach. Her heart stopped in her chest. It couldn’t be-God couldn’t be that cruel to her. She blinked, certain her eyes were playing tricks on her, but no they weren’t, staring back at her was Chance Ryan.
The man who had broken her heart ten years ago.
Chance felt like he’d been thrown from a bucking bronco. Ten years. He hadn’t seen her in ten years. And it was just like before. God, she was even more beautiful than she had been at eighteen. Time had matured her body, her curves a little fuller than they had been. Her hair was short now, almost boyish in length, but curling softly around her face it looked feminine and flirty. It was a deeper shade of blonde now too, a golden honey color that looked stunning against her sun-bronzed skin. What the hell was she doing here? And who the hell was the kid with her? Chance was busy doing mental math, the kid looked nine or ten. Carrie had called him several times in the months after he left. He’d never returned her calls. Could she have been trying to tell him she was pregnant? No it couldn’t be, she would have told him. Wouldn’t she have?
“I’d say small world, but since it really is a small world and we haven’t run into each other in ten years…”
Carrie arched one eyebrow, he always loved when she did that, it looked so haughty and hot.
“What brings you here?” Chance asked
“Same as you I guess, looking for some brood mares.”
“Actually, we’re selling this mare.” Nodding at the other, nearly forgotten man in the stall. “This is my brother, Chase.”
“Nice to meet you,” Carrie said, looking down at Tyler, “Well, we need to get to the Coliseum, Tyler wants to see the cutting.” Keeping her arm around his shoulders they turned to leave.
“We should talk,” Chance said
Carrie looked over her shoulder and stared him straight in the eye. “I think the time for talking is long past.”
The phrase she was so mad she could chew nails and spit screws ran though his mind at her look. Damn. He had really fucked things up between them. Why hadn’t he taken her calls again?
Oh, yeah, to give her a chance at a good life.
“I really need to talk to you.”
“There’s nothing left to say.”
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Tamara Hoffa lives in central Tennessee, with her husband of 30 years, her three grown children, two grandchildren, 5 dogs and 1 cat. Tamara started reading when she was four years old and has rarely been seen without a book at hand since. At home you will usually find her in “nana’s chair” with her kindle, her laptop or one of her precious, precocious grandson’s in her lap. Tamara is a reviewer, a professional reader and can now add author to her repertoire. Tamara is proof positive that it’s never too late to reach for your dreams.
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~Author Jennifer Labelle~