The Second Time Around
Publication date: June 2nd 2022
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
A swoon-worthy second chance romance with all the feels.
Brie Watkins had loved two men in her life. One abandoned her at the altar twelve years ago, and the other died in the war. She is no stranger to loss, but she’s still learning how to move on. When her sick aunt asks her to come back to Willow Bay to help at the family resort, Brie says yes. After all, she’s a southern girl at heart, and a southern girl never turns her back on kin. Brie sells her beloved home, quits her job restoring historic properties, and goes back to the last place she wants to be, only to find her aunt healthy, The Brown Resort thriving, and the man who left her at the altar living next door, looking as handsome as ever. Why can’t life be fair?
Carpenter Carter Kessler left Willow Bay a dozen years ago and never looked back, but he never forgot his first love, Brie. He’s spent the rest of his life regretting his decision to leave her all those years ago. After his father’s death, he reluctantly returns to find his family’s resort a mess. But it is not a total disaster – Brie is next door and as beautiful as ever. He talks her into helping him refurbish The Kessler Resort, but first she lays out the ground rules: they aren’t friends, they’ll never be lovers, and she’ll never stop hating him. As far as Carter is concerned, it’s a start.
But as summer heats up, so does their relationship. As they peel back the layers, what will they find hiding beneath the surface? Can what they started all those years ago be restored, or are some things better left buried in the past?
Find out in The Second Time Around…
She leaned on the suitcase. Even in the moonlight, and despite her frown, she still had the most beautiful blue eyes. Eyes as blue as the bay. The Texas coast wasn’t known for its clear waters. It didn’t have the blue of the Caribbean, but the way the reef protected the shore gave it a unique environment, and it had the bluest water. He’d forgotten how he’d thought of the bay as Brie blue, and paired with her chestnut hair, she was one of the prettiest girls in Texas.
He started back to the porch and his beer, but he caught sight of her out of the corner of his eye, trying to stand. She stumbled over the suitcase and fell on top of it.
He raced toward her. “How much of that bottle did you drink?”
She looked at it and shrugged. “Not sure. Four or five.”
“Four or five what? Sips? Gulps? Gallons?” She rose and tottered back and forth. Her back end was high in the air. All these years later, she still had the finest derriere he’d ever seen. “Let me help before you hurt yourself.”
She wagged a finger behind her. “Stay away from me.” She shifted and grunted and righted her suitcase, only to lose her balance again. This time she landed on top of it like it was a lounger. She squeaked, then smiled and let out an “Oh, this isn’t so bad.” She opened the bottle for another drink.
“Is that wise?”
“What do you care?” She laid back and looked up at the twinkling lights of the willow tree. “Did you know when I woke that morning, Mama got me ready? She used an entire can of Aqua Net. I smelled like Ms. Cricket but looked like Miss America.” She ran her hands through her hair and sighed. “I had the prettiest braids going in every direction, but they all came together in the back.” The whiskey bottle fell into the sand, which was probably a good thing. “So pretty.”
“You were always beautiful, Brie.”
“Oh, what would you know? You didn’t even show up.” She blindly searched around for the bottle but gave up quickly.
He sat a few feet away from her. He had a lot to say, but all he’d do was listen.
“You know what the funniest thing of all was?”
“Tell me.” He scooped up sand and let it sift through his fingers. It kind of felt like how life was. It just got away from you.
“Mama wanted me to wear those fancy jeweled shoes. Those heels were four inches high and pinched my toes. I’m telling you, she had me practicing for days, and I was in pure agony. I refused to wear them and hid them at Tiff’s house, because I knew with the humidity, my feet would swell, and I wanted to dance under this tree with you. I didn’t want to have achy feet on my wedding day, so I bedazzled my Keds. I had the perfect shoes for running, and I wasn’t the one who ran.” She turned on her side, showing her back to him.
He thought about how he’d apologize. He wasn’t sure what she knew or didn’t know. It had been so long, and both her parents were gone. Did she know her mother had been unfaithful? Did she believe until their dying days that they’d been hopelessly devoted to one another? Her father had died of a heart attack on a yacht filled with half-naked drunk coeds. Though he’d been gone, gossip traveled fast, and he’d gotten the condensed version every time his mother talked to someone from town.
“Look, Brie, I did what I did for a lot of reasons, but mostly it was to spare you pain and embarrassment.”
This was going far better than expected. “I’m sorry for hurting you, but if you’d known what I did, you would have been hurt so much more. I was a coward for many reasons. I should have stayed and let the grenade explode. At least then, maybe we could have worked it out, but I didn’t have the maturity to face them or you.” A loud sound startled him, and he scooted closer. “Brie.” He reached out and touched her leg, only to realize she was snoring.
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International bestselling author of more than thirty novels, Kelly Collins writes with the intention of keeping love alive. Always a romantic, she blends real-life events with her vivid imagination to create characters and stories that lovers of contemporary romance, new adult, and romantic suspense will return to again and again.
Kelly has sold more than a quarter of a million books worldwide, and in 2021 she was awarded a Readers’ Favorite Award Gold Medal in the Contemporary Romance category for A Tablespoon of Temptation.
You can learn more about Kelly at http://www.authorkellycollins.com.