The Marshall’s Second Chance (Preview)

Chapter One

Jenny Carson tied her long, blonde hair into a tail and tightened the belt at her waist. At almost thirty, Jenny was happy to be in charge of her own life and the ranch. Jenny was determined that she would solve the problems that life had thrown her way. She had dusted herself down, and on the days that she had wanted to curl up in a ball, she had pushed the feeling firmly to one side, never looked for sympathy and taken control.

It was not always easy, but she liked the action, and she was reasonably happy with the result so far. She reached the steps of the ranch house and found her half-brother, Earle, had sent the wagon around with a driver for her. It was springtime, and the air smelt fresh and clean. A second man was riding a horse behind the wagon, and she asked if he was coming along as well.

“Yes, Ma’am,” young Maltby answered with a smile for the boss. In truth, the cowhands appreciated the fact that she ran a fair ship, and it didn’t go unnoticed that the boss was also very attractive. They had all seen her do any job that needed doing. Jenny Carson was a worker. “Earle says that the number of robberies lately means we should be careful.” She nodded and had to agree. It wasn’t a very long journey to town, but better safe than sorry. She climbed aboard the front seat beside Hank Masters and told him they could start. The two horses walked on, and she talked to her driver about everyday things. She asked how his little girl was feeling as she had been unwell, and he reported that she was much better.

“Naughty again, so she must be on the mend,” he gave the boss a quick smile. Maltby rode alongside, and she spoke to him as well. The journey was about four miles, and they were all aware that there had been an outbreak of lawlessness lately. All three of them kept an eye open for anything worrying, but nobody appeared, and the journey was completely trouble-free. The scenery was as outstanding as ever with the mountains rising up in majestic beauty from the green lowlands. Above the treeline, there was snow on the tops of the peaks, and at the higher spots, it never really went away. Hardy trappers and miners braved the frozen high places, but it was a dangerous life.

With the railroad now rolling right through their town, it made for good business and the influx of new goods and ideas.It also brought people who were out for a quick buck and an easy escape route. The town had grown since the railroad appeared, and there were lots of newcomers. The old situation where you knew everybody was changing and the locals were worried. After Sheriff Stone left and no one new had been appointed, the deputy in charge, Jonah Lucas, was sinking under a sea of crime and seemed at a loss to know what to do. He was waiting for a new Sheriff to arrive, and in the meantime, it paid to arm yourself and be careful.

The buildings of the town could be seen ahead, and they encountered more traffic. Another wagon was approaching from a different direction, and she recognized the older couple on the driver’s seat. There were three cowhands riding shotgun.

“Snowdon’s taking precautions as well,” Jenny observed and waved to Eleanor Snowdon as they drew closer. “Drop me at the hotel, and then you can go for the supplies,” she added to Hank, and he pulled up outside the building in question. Her best friend ran the hotel with her husband. They served excellent food and had a good bar trade as well. The place was respectable, unlike many saloons that also had gambling tables and card sharps along with ladies of the night. Marianne was dressed, as ever, in the latest style and looked wonderful. Her husband, Guy, was manning the bar and keeping an eye on reception. He waved to the women to say that he would manage, and the two of them went away into the private end of the building.

“Oh, it is lovely to see you. How are things at the ranch?” Marianne asked and poured fresh lemonade for them both. She chattered on about all the news in town, and there was always something happening since the railroad had arrived. The girls had been good friends ever since Marianne arrived with her French parents aged ten.

“I have some other news that might interest you,” she said with a smile.

“Oh, no. Something unusual. You always have that look when it is something odd or strange.”

“Well, the new Marshall arrived in town yesterday with his young deputy. They came on the railroad and had their horses in the stock wagon.”

“And what is strange about that?” Jenny queried.

“The new Marshall sent to put the place right is—” she paused for dramatic effect. “Mariner Jones.”

There were a stunned few seconds of silence as Jenny took in the information.

“Mariner, back here,” she said at last. “What do we say? His wife and child were shot. There is nothing we can say that would help him,” she paused and held her friend’s hand. “I’m sorry his wife was a good friend of yours, and you were terribly upset about it.” Marianne smiled and told her that time was a healer, and it was seven years ago.

“From what I hear in the hotel, he spent a few years sinking really badly and tried to work it off. A lawman needed help and more or less forced him to be the one to stick by him. It looks like it was a turning point, and he is now about the best Marshall around.”

“So, I guess we say nothing but just make him welcome,” Jenny mused. “He has some job on his hands here. He will be shocked at the state of the town where he grew up.”

“But pleased to see old friends and know there are some who are still around.” Marianne smiled again and added that he would be happy to see his childhood sweetheart.

“That was a long time ago,” Jenny replied. “We did stay best friends after the sweetheart phase came to an end. A lot of water under the bridge since then, Marianne.”

“They were good days, though,” her friend answered. “We thought that the whole world was ours, and nothing would spoil it.”

“Then he married and lost his love, and I nearly married and lost a love. I guess you learn to live with what fate hands out to you.” She smiled back at Marianne. “It will be good to see him again.”

Her friend came and put her arms around her.

“You should give yourself some relaxation instead of work all the time. Maybe Mariner will persuade you to do that.”

“And I suppose that running this place is relaxation,” Jenny replied smiling. “You should practise what you preach.”

“I hope he can sort out the crooks,” Marianne added, and Jenny said that she had noticed the Snowdons had three men riding shotgun as they drove into town.

“Anyway, thanks for the drink and the gossip. I must go and see what the stores have on offer. No doubt Hank and Maltby will be after something to eat before we head back.”

Jenny headed down the main street and thought how the town was growing by the day. Several people waved and spoke to her as she went into various stores and bought things that were needed at the ranch house. She noticed that the several new saloons were doing good business, and one or two characters stumbled out of the swing doors onto the street. Nobody seemed to take any notice, and Jenny hurried back to meet up with her two cowhands to travel home. She could see the wagon in the distance outside of the main supplier and was walking towards it when a voice stopped her in her tracks.

“Jenny Carson,” it called in a friendly drawl. She turned slowly wondering what he would look like after all this time, but the same Mariner Jones stood in the street where he had grown up, and the memories came flooding back. There was a short spell of silence, and she saw the same man he had always been. Older and more solemn but still the same Mariner that she had grown up with and loved as a teenager. He had always been her very best friend, and that was the person she saw. It took away any feelings about what she would say or how he would react, and she almost ran the few steps towards him. He held out his hands, and she took them in her own.

“Oh, Mariner. It is so good to see you again.” She didn’t have to think about it. It was good to see him again.

“Jenny, you haven’t aged a minute since I saw you last.”

“Flatterer,” she said but smiled at the same time.

“Come on into the office and have a coffee with me,” he invited. “Apart from a catching up, I need an honest opinion of what is going on here.” Jenny nodded, and they fell into step walking towards the Sheriff’s office. Inside she saw the now much-relieved deputy, Jonah Lucas, with a smile on his face.

“Help for you at last,” Jenny said to the man, and he nodded and agreed. She met the young man who had arrived with Mariner. He looked no more than sixteen with a fresh complexion and fair hair, but she knew he must be older than he looked.

“This is Clem Carson,” Mariner said and gave a smile. “Clem, this is Jenny Carson. Maybe you are long lost cousins or something.” The young man shook her hand with a firm grip, and as he stood up, she saw that he wore two handguns, and his young looks belied the fact that he was confident with his job.

“Hello Clem,” she said. “Welcome to Kendal Crossing. Jonah will be so relieved to have help here.”

“Come into the office and tell me what you have been doing these last few years,” Mariner said and poured two cups of coffee from the pot that was always brewing.

She took the coffee and sat down as the new Marshall slid his long body onto the chair behind the desk. He had always been the classically tall, dark, and handsome man, and that was still the same, but there was something different now. Jenny hesitated before she said anything else, and he broke the silence.

“I know folk find it awkward to say anything about Marie and Chantal,” he said simply, and she said how sorry she was. “It was a tragedy, but I had to live through it.” She nodded and thought how her own thoughts ran along similar lines. He saw the look of shadow on her face but didn’t ask why. “How are things at the ranch?”

“Dad passed away.”

Mariner said he was sorry, and she told him that the ranch was hers, and she was doing her best.

“He left stock and money to Earle so that he could start his own place, but it’s been four years now, and Earle is still the foreman. Doesn’t seem to want to start his own place. He runs his herd alongside mine,” she paused. “I guess it works. We run them as one big herd really.” Mariner nodded.

“So, the trouble here seems to be in the town rather than on the ranches?” he asked, and she thought about it and agreed. Then she added that some of the men who came out to be cowboys were not used to livestock and country living.

“I suppose because the town is growing so fast, we don’t know who the crooks are. The gambling dens are growing by the day, and the railroad is robbed regularly. Although that happens out on the open plains. The trouble in town could be stopped if one or two of the culprits were thrown into jail or run out of town, but Jonah was just on his own.” She paused. “How did you get to be a lawman, Mariner?” He smiled and asked if the story had not got back to Kendal Crossing. She shook her head. “I only hear snippets when I visit Marianne or the Martins. He asked how Joe Martin was managing, and she told him that the man was in a wheelchair but still had all his wits about him.

“Libby is a wonder. Never stops, and she is his legs as well as his wife. They still love each other to bits.”

“I heard that he had an accident with a steer,” Mariner said, and she told him that the man had been gored in the back.

Chapter Two

The conversation was interrupted by a burst of gunfire from the street, and Mariner jumped and ran grabbing his Stetson as he went. The two deputies were hard on his heels, and she watched them go from the door. One man was lying in the street, and she assumed he was dead, but two others were still holding guns and looking for trouble.

“Put the guns down lads,” Mariner said slowly but with determination, and his hand hovered over the holster. She noted that young Carson had gone around behind the buildings and appeared at the other end of the street. He must have run but showed no sign of it.

“Do as the Marshall says, boys,” the deputy ordered in a fairly boyish voice, and the man nearest to him turned. He took in what he thought was a boy and raised the gun to point at him. She had never seen anything move as quickly as the deputy’s hand. The sound of the shot rang out before her eyes had taken in the movement, and the gunman fell to the ground clutching his leg and dropping his gun. Carson strode over and kicked the gun away, and then he hauled the man to his feet. The other gunman was so astounded that he allowed Mariner to take his gun and lead him away to the jail. By this time, a crowd of onlookers had gathered, and the Marshall waved them away.

“Fun over folks. Go on your way.”

Jenny watched the men being put into the cell, and Jonah went off to find the doctor for the man’s leg.

“If we keep on sorting the smaller stuff out, the bigger crooks will think twice,” Mariner told her.

“My namesake was amazing. I never even saw his hand move,” Jenny said, and the young deputy blushed.

“Don’t know how I do it,” he admitted. “It sorta just happens.”

“We don’t aim to kill folk. Just want to be a warning to the rest,” Mariner said. “I’ll make sure we are seen in the evening when most of the trouble starts. We pick up stories as well.”

Jenny stood up. “Well, your hometown needs you back, Mariner Jones. If you can spare some time, it would be lovely to catch up.”

He picked up her bags. “I will try and be a gentleman and help you back to the wagon,” he said, and they went out together down the street. It felt as natural as if they walked together only a day ago.

“I sometimes wish the old days were back,” Jenny confessed. “Marianne just said that we thought we had everything, and nothing would go wrong.”

“They were good times,” he agreed and gave her a smile that was the one she remembered from her teenage years. “I’ll ride over tomorrow afternoon if nothing goes wrong here. You’re right. It’s good to remember the old days.” He dropped her bags over the side of the wagon and shook hands with Hank. “Hank Masters isn’t it?” he asked, and the man grinned.

“Good to see we have a Marshall again, Mars,” he said using the nickname from school.

“Hank has a five-year-old daughter who is far too pretty to be his,” Jenny said. “He married Margie Barnes.”

Mariner slapped him on the back.

“Tell her I’m asking for her,” he said and raised a hand to Maltby waiting on horseback. He lifted Jenny up onto the seat, and she said thanks as Masters clicked to the horses, and they set off for home.

“Did you see that young deputy?” Maltby asked as soon as they were out of earshot. “He was amazing.”

“I guess word will get around, and it will discourage other troublemakers,” Jenny said. She grinned at Maltby. “He was good, though. Never saw his hand move.”

They encountered nobody on the road home and left the wagon at the cookhouse where the supplies were needed. Jenny took her bags up the steps of the porch to the house, and the little cloud of energy that was her five-year-old son hurtled through the door and clutched her as if she had been away for a month.

“Help Mum with these bags, little one,” she said, and he tried manfully to do as she asked. She produced a knitted toy that she had seen in one of the stores. It was a rabbit with big floppy ears. Luca clutched it to his chest and rushed away to show Jeannie in the kitchen. Jenny followed him with her bags and thankfully found that there was a pot of stew keeping warm on the stove.

“I am starving,” she said and perched at the kitchen table with a bowl of hot beef stew and some bread.

“Well, bring me up to date,” Jeannie asked and took a coffee for herself. The woman was as slim as a wire and ate enough for two but never seemed to put any weight on. She had been her dad’s housekeeper and stayed on after he passed away. Luca adored her and was happy to stay with his Nana Jeannie whenever Jenny was busy.

“Saw Marianne. She brought me up to date about the new Marshall,” Jenny paused as Marianne had done.

“And?” Jeannie prompted.

“It’s Mariner Jones.” There was a stunned silence, and then Jennie put down her cup and started to laugh.

“Oh, your face must have been a picture.”

“Marianne had a good laugh as well, thank you, Jeannie. Why everyone should think it would shock me, heaven only knows. Mariner and I had not gone courting together for about two years when he fell for Marie.” That sobered up the housekeeper who remembered the tragedy of him losing his family.

“Poor man,” she said.

“Well, you’ll be able to see for yourself how he is because he might ride over tomorrow to catch up on news,” Jenny told her. The woman’s face split into a smile as wide as her face.

“Steak,” she said. “I’ll grill him the best steak we can manage.”

“And now,” Jenny added, “you are going to fly off to tell everyone in the place. I am going to see Earle. Come on Luca. Come visit your uncle.”

The little boy grabbed his new toy and his mum’s hand.

“I am one lucky mum,” she told him as they went across the ranch to the log cabin that Earle had built for himself. It was more than a cabin really – more of a large, sprawling bungalow, and Earle was relaxing on the veranda with a beer. Then she saw that he was actually working on some figures.

“Howdy Uncle Earle,” Luca called and pushed the new toy at the man. His uncle smiled, said it was a lovely rabbit, and offered his half-sister a beer.

“How was town, and did you remember my boots?” She smiled and handed over the bag. She sat with her beer in a rocking chair and told him what had happened in town.

“Mars Jones as the Marshall. Wow.” Then he pushed the paper he had across to his sister, never asked if she was happy to see her old boyfriend because he was thinking about something else. “You know the Green spread is coming up for sale?”

“Is it?” she asked and took the paper. It was an outline of the ranch in question. “It’s not huge, but the land is good. The very far end of it comes up against our land here,” she said and waited to see what he was going to say.

“So, it is not an enormous price, and the big ranchers think it is too small. Do you think I should put in an offer?”

“Why are they selling?” Jenny asked. She had not run the ranch for four years without learning about the business.

“She is frightened, and he has agreed to move back to the city. I talked to him last week. He is keen to sell, and nobody else seems to be interested.”

Jenny nodded. “They only bought the place a couple of years ago. Ranching doesn’t suit everybody,” she paused. “You need to ride the land and have a look, though.”

“Will you come with me?” Earle asked, and she smiled.

“Of course, I will. When?” And then she added that Mariner might visit tomorrow.

He grinned. “Rekindle old flames, maybe.”

She threw the cushion at him. “Next day then?” she asked, and they agreed to ride out together but take some of the hands as well.

“Actually, apart from safety, they might spot things that we miss.”

She finished her beer. “Come on Luca. Let’s take that rabbit to bed.” The little boy kissed his uncle on the cheek and cuddled his rabbit. Jenny settled her son in his bed and sat in front of the fire. Jeannie had gone for the night, and it was quiet and peaceful. She held a box that had been in the dresser and opened it.

“My childhood in a box,” she murmured to herself and took out a paper. She smiled and laid it down again and fingered a pretty card that was embroidered with her name. Mariner’s mum had been clever with a sewing needle, and she had given it to Jenny on her sixteenth birthday.

“Happy days,” she said to herself and put away the box.

The ranch bustled into activity early in the morning, and Jenny walked around as she did every day to see if anyone had a problem. Everyone asked about the speed of the new young deputy, and she gathered that Maltby had told everyone he met about it. One of two of the older hands said it would be good to see Mariner again, and in the cookhouse she was reminded that he was her first boyfriend.Carlos and Ruth Gomez ran the cookhouse as Carlos’ dad had done before him. The family had been part of the setup for as long as she could remember.

“Everyone always thought that the two of you would be together forever,” Ruth remarked.

“Lots of water under the bridge,” Jenny said again. “But the town needs him, that’s for certain.”

The morning passed in all of the usual activities, and most of the hands were out on the range checking stock and mending fences. The young beasts had been allowed out with their mothers, and the ranch itself was relatively quiet. The late spring and early summer was the time of year when things slowed down before harvest and driving the stock to market. The railroad certainly made that easier than it had been in the days of long and dangerous cattle drives.Jenny had a snack to eat because she knew Jeannie would pull out all the stops for Mariner, and she went to change into something better than her work clothes. She had settled on the veranda with a jacket of Luca’s that needed mending when a lone rider walked his horse into the main gates and over towards the house.

Chapter Three

Jenny stood up and put the sewing aside. The man was as handsome as he had ever been.

Better if anything, she thought. Because time has matured his features.

Mariner slid off the horse and looped the reins over the rail at the door. She came down the steps to say hello, and he bent and kissed her cheek.

“Mornin’ Miss Carson,” he said, and they started to go into the house when the small bundle of blond energy that was Luca hurtled out of the door and fastened himself to his mother’s skirt.

“Well, hello, young fella,” Mariner said and looked at Jenny. “Introduce me to this gentleman.”

“Luca,” she said to the little boy, “Shake hands with Uncle Mars. He is the new Marshall and will keep us all safe.” She looked at Mariner. “This is Luca Carson—my son.” Mariner was stopped in his tracks but covered the moment well and solemnly shook the boy’s hand.

“Happy to meet you, Luca,” he said, and Luca smiled and went away to see Jeannie in the kitchen.

“So, are you married in secret, Jenny Carson?” he asked. “What have I missed?” He saw that shadow cross her face again and did indeed wonder what he had missed. She walked into the living room and took a breath.

“It’s a long story, Mariner.”

He sat in a big armchair and said he had all the time in the world. “Didn’t we make a pact all those years ago to always be there for each other?”

Jenny nodded and took a seat herself. “I met a man called Gino. He worked at the Green place and was their foreman. It was a time when I thought I had found happiness, and we were going to be married in two weeks when he disappeared.”

“Disappeared?” he prompted.

“He rode out on the range and never came back. The men from both ranches searched day and night for two or three weeks but found nothing.”

“What about his horse? Did it not wander back home?”

She shook her head. “We all hoped that would happen, but not a trace of either him or the horse was ever found. I had to think, in the end, that he had simply ridden away.” She paused and then added that she had found out that she was expecting a baby. “Luca is the result,” she added. “And he lights up my life.” Mariner came over and sat beside her.

“Oh, I wish I had been here to help. I am sorry that it all happened to you. I know how much it hurts.” He put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her towards him. “That old pact still holds you know. I’m glad I came back.”

She leaned against the man who had been her first romance and first love. The years seemed not to have spoiled their easy relationship with each other, and she knew in her heart that he would always be on her side.

“I’m glad you’re back as well,” she said and went over to find the little box. “Remember your mum making me this at sixteen?” He took the embroidered picture of her name and thought back over the years.

“She loved you so much,” he said. “And gave me such a lot of grief when we broke up.”

Jenny took the paper out of the box and handed it to him. “Proof,” she said. “The pact exists.”

He took the torn piece of paper, and his mind instantly saw the two of them with a sharp little knife and vowing to have a pact of blood that they would always be there for the other one. The blood stains were brown on the paper, but they told the story along with the two names.

“Marianne was right. We thought the world was ours.”

“Memories,” she added. “Happy days they were.” She sat in silence for a few moments. “Dad died, and when Gino went away, I determined to make the ranch a success to hand on to Luca, and work is a great healer.”

“Yes, you are so right there, but nobody can take away that first kiss behind the barn or sneaking away from the hoedown to find a quiet spot,” he told her. “They are always ours.”

“And having you to confide in makes the old days seem almost back again.” She smiled. “Jeannie was making steak for you. I’ll see how ready she is.” She went to the kitchen and found her housekeeper making steak and potatoes but saw that Mariner had followed her and was holding out his arms for the older woman.

“Oh, how great to see old friends, Jeannie,” he said and gave the woman a bear hug. “That smells pretty good.”

Jeannie laughed. “You and I could always eat for two and never put on weight. It will be ready any second, and there is pie to follow.”

Luca was watching this from the other side of the kitchen, and Mariner saw the child was unsure.

“Is Luca having steak and potatoes as well?” Mariner asked, and Jenny went to pick her son up.

“Luca certainly is having steak and pie and cream to follow,” she said. “Where is that new rabbit? I am sure Uncle Mars would like to see it.” She stood the boy on his feet, and he raced off to find the toy. Then he raced back in to push the rabbit at Mariner who came down to the child’s level and asked if the rabbit had a name. Luca had not thought of that and asked if it should have a name.

“It certainly should. You are Luca, and I am Mars.” They went back into the living room, and Mariner pulled out a chair from the table. “Does he have his own seat at the table?”

Luca smiled and put the rabbit on the chair. “He is Dandy,” he announced.

“That is a great name, Luca. How did you think of it?” Jenny asked as she sat Luca on a chair and took a seat herself. The boy grinned as Jeannie brought in the steaks.

“Nana Jeannie is always saying that everything is fine and dandy.” The grown-ups all laughed and told him that it really was fine and dandy. Then the boy watched in amazement as Mariner proceeded to demolish his huge plate of steak and potatoes.

Afterwards, they were so full of dinner that they all settled on the sofas. Luca fell asleep, and Jenny draped a cover over him. She gave him the whole seat and went to sit beside Mariner with a coffee cup in her hand.

“What a lovely boy,” Mariner said quietly.

“Can you tell me what happened to you after Marie was shot?” Jenny asked cautiously.

He took her hand.

“You are the one person in the world that I can say yes to,” he said, and his eyes took on a thoughtful gaze as he remembered the worst time of his life.

“The crossfire killed them both outright, and it was over nothing more than two stupid men arguing about a card game.” He sighed. “There was nothing anybody could do to save them, and we buried them near to where her parents live so that they could at least visit the grave. It was not just me that was devastated but them as well. She was their only daughter and only grandchild.” He fell silent for a short time, and Jenny covered his hand with her own.

“I thought that working as a cowboy would make me active instead of sitting around in despair. I tried, but at the end of the day, I would drink until I forgot everything, and then it was even harder to work the next day. In the end, I was just drinking until I had no money, and then I washed dishes in the saloon for the price of a drink.”

She squeezed his hand. “There must be an end to this horror,” she said. “Because you are here.” He nodded and went on to tell her that he was lying outside of the saloon.

“I wasn’t drunk because I had no money to buy it, but I was hungry and worn out.”

She waited, and he told her that he saw a man racing down the street and the Sheriff in pursuit. The man pushed a woman out of his way, and she fell down.

“He was grabbing a horse that was tied to the rail. I don’t know why or how I did it, but I grabbed his foot and held on until the Sheriff came and caught him.”

“Oh Mariner,” she said and put an arm around his waist as she would have done all those years ago. He told her that the Sheriff came back to thank him, hauled him to his feet, and threw him into a cell.

“Oh, no,” Jenny exclaimed, but he laughed.

“I can smile about it now, but it was the only way he knew to keep me away from the booze.” Light dawned as Jenny saw the reasoning of the man who saved him.

“He kept me there for a week and gave me food and clothes, and then he told me I was a deputy and stuck a tin star on my chest.”

Jenny laughed out loud. “Forced to be a lawman,” she said. “And here you are back to save Kendal Crossing.”

“It was dangerous and hard, but he was a good teacher, and I learned how to deal with rough places and rough men.”

Jenny sat still for a moment, and then she turned to face him. “We both had awful things happen, but we both came out of the other end.”

Mariner nodded. “I do feel that it was time for me to come home to the place and people I know—older and wiser.”

“And stronger,” Jenny said. “It’s amazing what you can do when you have to.” There was a footstep on the veranda, and Earle poked his head inside the door.

“Hiya, Mars,” he said. “I wondered who the horse belonged to.” He came inside, and the two men shook hands. “Good to see you back here. Any coffee, sis?” he asked, and Jenny went to pour three cups. When she came back, Earle was telling Mariner about the visit to see the Green place. Mariner looked at her with a question in his eyes, and just like in years gone by, she knew what he was asking.

“Yes, that was where Gino worked, but it doesn’t bother me,” she said, answering his unspoken question. Earle lifted his hands in the air.

“Please don’t tell me that you two still can do this finish each other’s sentence thing?

“Well I didn’t know we could, but it just happened,” Jenny said.

Mariner said he would quite like to see the place if Earle didn’t mind if he tagged along.

“I could ask them why they are moving and get a few pointers about the trouble in the area.”

Earle said it was fine by him.

“The Camerons had the place before them. You remember them, Mars?”

The Marshall nodded and asked what happened to them.

“The woman died, and the old man is still living somewhere in town,” Jenny informed. “He had that creepy man as a friend who went trapping and kept dragging skins in to sell. Haven’t seen him in a long time, though.”

“I wonder why we always call it the Green Place,” Earle said, “because these people are O’Grady. I wonder if the ones before the Camerons were Greens.”

“If you buy it, you could call it something different,” Jenny suggested. “I wonder how you find out why it is called Greens.”

“I guess the land office would have records of who has owned the land,” Mariner said and stood up to go. He peeked through the door, told Jeannie the meal was great, and arranged to meet Earle and Jenny the next day. “I might bring young Carson because he needs to find the lie of the land.” He kissed Jenny on the cheek and unhitched the horse. Brother and sister watched him ride away, and he waved a hand in the air as he turned the corner onto the trail.

“The Marshall’s Second Chance” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

They were childhood sweethearts and in love for the first time. They swore to be best friends forever, but could that love be rekindled and save them both after life had treated them both so badly?

Mariner Jones was the new Marshall sent to clean up the town and Jenny Carson had thrown herself into building the ranch for her son after a blow that sent her into a dark place.

Friendship kept them on a quest to find the truth, put them all in danger, made them fight for what was right. But could that friendship be love that had never really gone away?

“The Marshall’s Second Chance” is a historical western romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

43 thoughts on “The Marshall’s Second Chance (Preview)”

  1. Love the story. A new twist on young love turned to friendship and years later renewing that friendship.

  2. Very well wrote. You feel yourself becoming part of the action. Can’t wait to see what happens next and the real story behind the troubled times.

  3. It seems to be an interesting story. Cannot wait to see where Mars and Jenny’s relationship goes. And what about Gino? I wonder if he will pop back up and cause trouble for Jenny…. Hopefully soon I will get my answers…. 🙂

  4. Really am interested in the characters and their interaction with each other. Anxious to see how their lives touch each others. New and old friendships established. So I always appreciate a good read and so far so good..

  5. When Marina comes out to the ranch he is walking his horse but when he arrives to tie his horse to the verandah he is getting off his horse? If the horse walked into the ranch after going through the gate then maybe rewrite the sentence to reflect. Good read so far and cannot wait for the actual story to be completed. Interesting to see if the father of Jenny’s baby is ever found. Cannot wait

    1. The horse was walking but Mariner was obviously still sitting on its back.
      Wait for the rest of the book, really hooked on the story now
      and wondering what happens next – is there a mystery about Greens Ranch, will the romance rekindle etc.

      1. Can’t wait for the rest of the book, really hooked on the story now and waiting to see what happens next- is there a mystery about Greens Ranch? Will the teenager romance rekindle? Will the baddies leave the town in peace again? Please hurry and finish the book.

    2. Walking his horse doesn’t mean that he was walking and leading the horse. Just means that he wasn’t galloping or in a hurry to get to the house.
      Great read so far, and nothing wrong with the wording or spelling anywhere.

  6. First, thank you for this opportunity to be one of your readers. I love the flow of the book, I purposely put it down and then came back after a few minutes to see if I could get back into the story. It was easy to pick up where I left off, not feeling like I needed to go back a couple of paragraphs to get back into the story.
    Looking forward to reading the entire book!:)

  7. First, thank you for this opportunity to be one of your readers. I love the flow of the book, I purposely put it down and then came back after a few minutes to see if I could get back into the story. It was easy to pick up where I left off, not feeling like I needed to go back a couple of paragraphs to get back into the story.
    Looking forward to reading the entire book!:) I really like the front cover as well.

  8. See now I am even more impatient! I knew I shouldn’t have teased myself by reading the excerpt! Lol. How much longer do I have to wait now? Lol

  9. I love the premise of the story. I also appreciate that both characters are strong and have dealt with tragedy separately and were able to set a new course. Most particularly I’m really happy that both of them were able to re-establish their closeness without any real awkwardness, that she especially isn’t all insecure and emotional about reconnecting. Totally hooked and can’t wait to learn just what’s going on with criminal element and how the town’s troubles will be resolved. And what did happen to Gino? Is he alive? Is he involved with the criminal activity?

  10. Sounds good so far. I like that you changed the title to Marshall instead of Sheriff. The first sentences describing Mariners’ return to town are a bit awkward; ie: in the conversation with Marianne, I wasn’t sure at first who had been friends with his wife. Maybe a bit if editing in that section.
    Otherwise, very smooth and flows well. Great start, likeable characters and good intro to the action. : )

  11. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the story!!!

    Question. The following sentence from Chapter 1 makes it sound like the parents were 10 years old when they came over from France. “The girls had been good friends ever since Marianne arrived with her French parents aged ten.” Is that your intention? or could you put the phrase “at age ten”after “arrived”to indicate that Marianne was ten?

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