Ghost of a Chance
Pre-order link: http://a.co/35Fub3A
Released: August 7th
At sixteen, Sarah Atwell walked away from her love of horses and a promising career as a competitive rider after discovering she’d inherited the family curse. Years later, her grandmother stunned everyone by leaving Sarah her horse farm—worth millions—but with conditions Sarah might not be able to meet.
A former Redclaw agent, Casey Barnes retired when a security assignment went bad, killing his partner and leaving him as a partial amputee. His inner wolf is in hiding. He’s been living quietly as a horse trainer, but June Atwell’s death now pits him against her granddaughter for rights to the stable.
With both of them snowed in at the farm, a series of increasingly serious accidents draws Sarah and Casey closer together, but they both harbor secrets that might tear them apart.
Her parents always made her feel like a faded flower pressed into someone else’s journal.
The backlight of falling snow through the glass in the shadowed hallway created the suggestion of a black-and-white photograph. The only spot of color was the bright red scarf at the collar of her coat and the wine-dark lipstick she wore. She leaned against the wall with her eyes closed. Something inside him clicked, as though recognizing a scene from a movie. His heart stopped a beat, flipped over, and thudded again with increased intensity.
Casey half-turned. The outdoor light from the stable behind them highlighted an impossibly wicked smile. It seeped into her bones and filled her from the inside out with an unaccustomed rush of warmth. Where the heck did that come from?
He stood at the kitchen sink, silhouetted against the window, his back toward the door. Silver moonlight limned his form, bleaching his skin of color and painting him like a marble statue. Every line of his body was as visible as if lit by the sun, so bright was the moonlight reflecting off the snow outside. He was simply gorgeous: from the broadness of his shoulders to the narrowing of his waist, down to the strong, rounded muscle of his ass. He was utterly perfect.
For some reason, he glanced back at Sarah where she waited by the door. The backlight of falling snow through the glass in the shadowed hallway created the suggestion of a black-and-white photograph. The only spot of color was the bright red scarf at the collar of her coat and the wine-dark lipstick she wore. She leaned against the wall with her eyes closed. Something inside him clicked, as though recognizing a scene from a movie. His heart stopped a beat, flipped over, and thudded again with increased intensity.
No. It couldn’t be. Not her.
He hurried away, head still reeling at his reaction.
When he returned with an armload of clothing, she was nowhere to be seen. Her laptop sat by her shoes, one pretty little pump turned over on its side. As expected, he discovered her in the living room, staring at the pictures on the wall. “There you are.”
She jumped at the sound of his voice.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.” He adjusted the heap of clothing piled over one arm and held out a pair of snow boots.
“She had so many photographs of me.” Sarah took the boots almost automatically, and indicated the walls covered with pictures, ones Casey had seen many times.
That had to be it. Why she felt so familiar. Why she seemed to be the one. Relief washed over him. Obviously he’d spent too much time alone if he thought Sarah Atwell was his destined mate.
The subdued light coming through the windows dimly illuminated the living room as he stepped over the threshold. The room had a museum-like quality, re-enforced by the presence of antique furniture and framed photographs on nearly every surface and wall. The pictures seemed to have propagated like mushrooms toward the end of June’s life. Photos of foals in misty, dew-covered fields. A much younger June jumping a copper-colored horse over a frighteningly tall wooden fence on an overcast day. Laughing people mugging for the camera at some sort of party held at the barn. A dog silhouetted against the open stable door, staring out at something unseen beyond. A collection of autumn leaves caught floating on the surface of a pond. Ming, slightly cross-eyed and inscrutable, glaring haughtily back at the camera.
Sarah spoke quietly, as though she felt a sense of reverence as well. “So different from my own place. My walls are largely bare.” She turned in a slow circle, taking in everything in the room.
“Why is that?”
Her shrug seemed self-deprecating. “Less to dust, according to Simon. I got rid of most of my furniture when I moved in with him. It made sense at the time. His place was small and there wasn’t room for all my clutter.”
“I’m not much of a house-keeper myself.” There was no way he’d ever let someone as classy as Sarah into his ramshackle single-wide trailer. “But if something makes you happy, I think you should keep it.”
She smiled, though not at him. At his words perhaps. “This room is a shrine to a life well-lived. A love letter to the beauty Gran found in the little things around her.”
On the wall facing the door, so it was the first thing a visitor saw on entering the room, was a large dramatic shot of a bay horse jumping down from an impossibly huge obstacle into a body of water. Where her forelegs struck the surface, the spray shot up into the air, beading in the sunlight like tiny prisms. It was Casey’s favorite photograph of Athena, one of the best horses June had ever bred. Taken at one of Sarah’s last competitions as a teenager, Sarah was rocked back in the saddle, the reins looking dangerously long to the untrained eye. Of course, she had let them slip to allow Athena to drop down into the water. Seeing Sarah standing in front of the photograph now sent a weird jolt of recognition combined with dissonance through him. It was hard to believe she was the girl riding that mare. The look on her teenaged face in the photo had always captivated him. It was one of sheer joy, the thrill of the ride itself.
That girl had not only found life worth living, but had taken it by the reins as its master. The woman standing beside him looked closed off from joy, shielded.
What had happened to her?
McKenna Dean has been an actress, a vet tech, a singer, a teacher, a biologist, and a dog trainer. She’s worked in a genetics lab, at the stockyard, behind the scenes as a props manager, and at a pizza parlor slinging dough. Finally she realized all these jobs were just a preparation for what she really wanted to be: a writer.
She lives on a small farm in North Carolina with her family, as well as the assorted dogs, cats, and various livestock.
She likes putting her characters in hot water to see how strong they are. Like tea bags, only sexier.
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/McKenna-Dean-Author-262328784224302/