tagNovels and NovellasSecond Chances

Second Chances

byharemgirl©

Chapter 1

Willamette Valley, Oregon

October 1852

Naomi Tisdale pulled her horse to a stop and patted his neck absentmindedly as she surveyed her new home. She had wondered how much of a house and farm her thousand dollars would buy her, sight unseen. She smiled ruefully as she concluded, apparently not much.

The house was really not much more than a rustic, very small cabin. Still, it looked solid and sturdy, and she didn't really need much space. The kind of space she needed was from pitying glances and disapproving frowns. The cabin sat nestled beneath several majestic oak trees that would shelter it from storms and the summer heat. There was a river burbling nearby, and a stone well, complete with a bucket and rope, stood in the front yard. At least it didn't look like she would have to worry about having fresh water handy.

A large vegetable garden stretched out from the cabin, and she could tell the soil was black and fertile even though the patch had mostly gone to weeds. On the other side of the cabin was a rough stable that looked like it was just large enough to house a couple of horses and maybe a cow. A crude fence had been erected around the front, forming a corral. Naomi dismounted and led her horse into the enclosure before exploring the interior of the cabin.

She stood in the doorway, waiting for her eyes to adjust to the gloom. The thought that there might be other creatures inhabiting the space made her shudder. As long as there weren't any rats, she could handle just about any other kind of critter. The wood floor seemed sound enough, and she was relieved not to hear any scurrying sounds as she walked to the center of the room. A small table with four rickety chairs stood in the kitchen area. There were a few shelves built along the wall, and a cast iron cookstove took up one corner. A low bed with a lumpy cotton mattress occupied the opposite wall, making up the last of the furniture. A rock fireplace was centered along the back wall of the cabin, and a small stack of firewood was piled nearby. Every surface was covered with dust, grime and cobwebs, and a sour, stale smell hung heavy in the air.

So this would be her refuge, Naomi mused. She had come here seeking solitude, hoping to find some remnants of peace and happiness. It had been two years since her husband died. For two years she had agonized about all the ways she had failed him. She had failed to make him as happy as he had made her. She had failed to save him when the fever had him in its death grip. She had failed to give him the one thing he had wanted most in the world.

Naomi heaved a heavy sigh as she set her saddlebags and suitcases on a chair and began rolling up her sleeves. This was no time to get lost in morose memories. First things first, she thought. She would start a fire to provide light and heat, and then she might as well start cleaning. There was no way she was going to spend even one night in this filth. It was already late afternoon, so if she intended to get to bed before midnight, she had better make the most of the time she had.

***********

Aidan McKenzie frowned thoughtfully as he watched a thin stream of smoke rising through the trees. He knew it must be coming from old man Hatcher's cabin. The cabin had remained deserted after Mr. Hatcher died the previous year, and Aidan had heard that someone had bought it. He had considered buying it himself, since the farm that went with the cabin was prime land, and it bordered his own family's farm. It would have made a nice addition to their property, but the McKenzie brothers didn't have enough cash to make such a purchase just yet. They were just getting their feet on the ground after moving out from Kentucky two years before, and so they had reluctantly waited to see who would become their new neighbors.

Aidan was on his way home from town, and thought about continuing on his way, but curiosity got the best of him. He decided to drop by and introduce himself and see just who had bought the farm. The trail leading to the cabin from the main road wended through a small forest, and when he emerged from the trees, Aidan paused to watch as the new owner struggled to drag an old mattress through the narrow doorway.

From fifty yards away, Aidan judged the boy to be in his mid teens. He was somewhat scrawny from the way he was huffing and puffing to maneuver the mattress through the opening. He was dressed in brown breeches and a cream colored shirt of homespun cotton. As Aidan neared, the boy bent over further at the waist to get a better grip, and Aidan's eyes opened wide. That was definitely not a boy!

Why on earth a woman would be dressed in men's clothes was a thought that Aidan would later ponder, but at the moment, he was too busy taking in the sights. At closer range, he could see that she had long hair that had been wound into a tight bun. The woman's breeches lovingly stretched across the curviest bottom Aidan had ever had the pleasure to view, and as he drew his horse to a halt, his mouth watered as he took in the sight of a seemingly endless pair of slender legs. Perfectly proportioned hips tapered up from her bottom, and a flashing image of his hands gripping those hips as he plunged into her from behind made Aidan squirm a bit in his saddle. A wide belt cinched the breeches around the woman's tiny waist. Aidan wanted nothing more than to get his hands around her waist at that moment.

She had been so preoccupied with the mattress that the woman hadn't noticed him yet, so Aidan cleared his throat to announce his presence. She dropped the mattress and whirled to face him as he climbed down from his horse. He removed his hat and gave her his best smile.

"Good afternoon, ma'am. I'm Aidan McKenzie. I live just down the road, and I thought I would stop and introduce myself to you and your husband."

Naomi managed to squelch her yelp of surprise, and she answered out of habit as she cautiously eyed her unexpected visitor. "I'm a widow, Mr. McKenzie."

Naomi's eyes widened further as she took in his appearance. Had she not known better, she could have sworn here stood Apollo. He was several inches over six feet, with tawny, sun-streaked hair and darkly tanned skin. His eyes were a deep, soulful brown, and they were set beneath a pair of dark eyebrows. His cheekbones, nose and jaw were perfectly sculpted, strong and handsome, but it was his mouth that drew her stare. His lips were just the right mixture of firm and sensual, and the thought of them cruising along her nape made her nipples crinkle into tight buds. At that moment they were parted in a smile that revealed even, white teeth. Oh, what must he think of her, dressed in these clothes? She hadn't thought that anyone would see her dressed this way, and she fought an urge to squirm.

Her clothes were the last thing on Aidan's mind. His smile had deepened when he saw the woman's face. The knowledge that she did not have a husband, at least not a living husband, pleased him immensely. Delicate, creamy skin covered high cheekbones in a perfect, heart-shaped face. Her hair was a rich chestnut color that caught red highlights from the late afternoon sun. Moist, pink lips were parted to form a surprised O, and her wide blue eyes were tilted slightly up at the corners, lending them a hint of mystery. At that moment, her eyes were transfixed on his mouth, giving Aidan a chance to survey the rest of her.

If the sight of her backside had been appealing, the sight of her front made him ache with lust. Her breasts were full and sumptuous, thrusting firmly out to test the confines of her shirt. He glimpsed the edge of a white lace chemise above the vee of her shirt, and even beneath the layers of cloth, he could clearly see the outline of her erect nipples, straining against the fabric. In that moment, he knew he wouldn't rest until he had tasted those nipples as well as every other one of her charms. His smile deepened and he raised his eyes to meet her surprised stare just in time to avoid being caught in the act of ogling her.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs...?"

Naomi started slightly and a delicate blush crept across her cheeks.

"Mrs. Naomi Tisdale. I'm sorry, you simply caught me by surprise. I don't usually have to be prompted to remember my manners."

Aidan shrugged and gave a small chuckle. "That's quite alright. You were so busy with that mattress, that I'm not surprised you didn't hear me coming. Please, let me give you a hand."

Aidan handed her his reins and bent to scoop up the mattress. He rolled it under one arm and turned to her with one brow raised.

"Where were you going to take it?"

"Well, maybe you could hang it over the corral fence. It's horribly dusty, so I was going to beat it clean and air it and see if it's still usable."

Aidan draped the cotton mattress over the fence and gave it a few hard pats of his hand. Clouds of dust billowed out from the cotton, and they both laughed.

"Well, maybe not," Naomi said with a wry smile. "Would you like a cup of coffee, Mr. McKenzie?"

"I would love one if it's not too much trouble."

"None at all. I already washed the kettle and cups, and I have coffee and sugar in my supplies. Please, come inside."

Aidan tied his horse's reins to the fence, and followed her, enjoying the gentle sway of her hips as she walked. Once again, a vision of creamy hips, naked and spread before him as she waited for him to fill her, flitted through Aidan's mind, and he grinned. He would definitely have to find a way to spend a lot more time with his new neighbor!

He stood in the doorway, facing out to the garden to give his blood a chance to cool as Naomi hung the kettle over the fire. She set out two cups and a small tin of sugar.

She turned to invite him to sit at the table, and her breath caught in her throat. He was standing with one hand braced high on the doorframe. His forearms rippled with muscle, and his wide shoulders and chest tapered down to a pair of trim hips and a perfectly delectable ass. The desire to grip his buttocks in her palms as he thrust into her again and again and again shot through Naomi's awareness, causing her cheeks to burn with a heated blush. What had possessed her to have such a wanton thought? She had only just met the man, and she was fantasizing about what it might be like to have him make love to her! Of course, her husband had been dead for over two years. Wasn't it normal for a healthy young woman to feel pangs of desire, especially when faced with such a gorgeous specimen of masculinity?

"Please, Mr. McKenzie. Won't you have a seat?"

"Thank you," he said, turning with a smile. He seated himself on one of the chairs and laid his hat on another. "I prefer to be called Aidan by my friends."

Naomi gave him a shy smile as she leaned over his arm and poured a cup of coffee for him. "Alright, but only if you call me Naomi."

She poured herself a cup and settled in the chair across from him. She gripped her cup in both hands to disguise their trembling, as she watched him add a bit of sugar to his coffee and take a tentative sip.

"You make a great cup of coffee, Naomi. Thank you."

Once again, Aidan flashed her his charming grin, and she returned his smile as her cheeks flushed with pleasure. Why it should be important that he like her coffee, she didn't know, but at that moment, it seemed terribly important.

"Were you thinking of putting in a fall garden?" Aidan asked.

Naomi shrugged as she nibbled her bottom lip. "I wanted to, but I don't know whether there will be enough time. I might just have to make do with store bought foodstuffs for this first winter until I can get the place into shape."

"Hmmm," Aidan said, sipping his coffee as his mind raced with possibilities. "I think there might be a way we could help each other."

Naomi eyed him skeptically. "And how is that?"

"Well, my brothers and I already have our fall crops planted this year, so I have a bit of extra time on my hands. However, I also have a large crop of late peaches that need to be preserved or sold. Now, we love peach preserves, but we don't know how to make them. If you were willing to make them, I would not only share the preserves with you, but I would be happy to put your garden in for you."

Naomi's face brightened as she thought about his proposal. The thought of having some help was appealing, and if she could do it without having to dip into her savings to hire someone, all the better.

"I certainly know how to make peach preserves, if you bring me the jars, sugar and peaches."

"It's a deal then." Aidan drank the last of his coffee and stood. "I'll be out first thing in the morning to get started."

Naomi rose as well and followed him to the door. She held out her hand with a warm smile.

"It was a pleasure to meet you, Aidan."

Aidan ignored her hand and looped an arm around her waist as he pulled her hard against his chest. Before Naomi could collect enough wits to react, he swooped and claimed her mouth. She moaned as he parted her lips and explored her mouth with fiery strokes of his tongue. Sharp pangs of desire sprouted in the pit of her belly, and Naomi wound her arms around his neck, pressing her breasts even more snugly against him. She could feel the hard ridge of his erection pressing into her belly, and she released another low moan as she returned his kiss with heightened desire.

He had only meant to kiss her, but Naomi was so willing and responsive, that Aidan couldn't resist the urge to cup one full breast in his palm. He kneaded the firm mound, and she arched her back, pressing it into his hand. He squeezed her hardened nipple, twisting it between his fingers as he continued to ravish her mouth. She rubbed her hips against him, cradling him against her softness as her body called out to his. His cock was throbbing painfully as he toyed with her breast. Soon, he reassured himself. Very soon he would have her, but not today. He ended the kiss and waited for her eyes to flutter open. It took her several moments to realize that he was still intimately handling her nipple before she blushed and took a step back, breaking the contact but not stepping fully out of his embrace.

He gave her a slow, wicked grin as he brushed his thumb along her swollen lower lip. When he spoke, there was a husky timbre that she hadn't noticed in his voice before. "I assure you, Naomi, the pleasure was all mine."

He was gratified when she shivered with awareness, and he could easily have lost himself in the luminous depths of her startled blue gaze. He hauled in a tight breath and released her.

"Good evening, Naomi. I'll see you first thing in the morning."

Naomi couldn't find her voice to respond, so she merely nodded. She watched as he walked to his horse, mounted, gave her one last salute and rode off through the woods. She slowly closed the door and leaned back against the planks. Her nipple felt like it was on fire, and she could feel moisture seeping from her throbbing pussy onto the crotch of her breeches. She had experienced her husband's lovemaking for three years, and while it had been pleasant, it hadn't compared to this. She had never burned with a need to have him inside her.

Had Aidan not ended the kiss himself, Naomi had no doubt that she would be lying beneath him even now. She remembered her shameless behavior, when she had ground her hips against his and pressed her breast into his hand. She had practically begged him to use her for his pleasure. The thought made her gasp, but even as color flooded her cheeks from the memory, a slow grin spread across her face. Having him inside her would have served her own pleasure every bit as much as it would his. She didn't doubt for a second that Aidan was more than capable of satisfying her every desire.

Why shouldn't she take a lover? She had already decided that she would never marry again, but there was no reason not to enjoy a man's touch. Especially when that man was as desirable as Aidan McKenzie. If his lovemaking was one of the few pleasures left to her, then she was determined to savor every moment of it!

Naomi crossed to her suitcase and began unpacking her clothes. She would need to press one of her dresses tonight. When Aidan returned in the morning, she was determined that he would find her looking much more feminine and appealing than she had looked today. Now that she had made up her mind to have him, she was full of impatience. It seemed a little well-aimed seduction was called for to get him into her bed sooner rather than later!

**********

Aidan rushed through his morning chores and grabbed a sausage and biscuit for breakfast that he could eat while he drove his wagon to Naomi's cabin. She had haunted his dreams. He couldn't wait to see her again, to hold her again, to taste her again. Even now, the memory of her soft belly and thighs lovingly cradling his erection made him ache to have her.

He arrived just after sunrise, and he jumped down from the wagon. He could see signs of activity from inside the cabin, and he could swear he smelled bacon frying. He knocked on the door and heard Naomi's muffled voice from inside, bidding him to enter. The sight that greeted him as he opened the door drove his breath out of his chest and sent hot blood pounding through his loins.

Naomi was dressed in a white cotton nightgown with only a soft blue wrapper over it, belted at her slim waist. She was bent over pulling a pan of biscuits from the oven, and the hem of her gown had risen in the back to give him a tantalizing view of shapely calves, dainty ankles, and delicate bare feet. Her bottom wiggled enticingly as she stepped back with the pan and closed the oven door before turning to face him.

She flashed him a brilliant smile of welcome and set the pan of biscuits on the table beside a platter of bacon and eggs. Aidan ignored the food as his eyes made a slow survey of her from head to toe. Her cheeks were rosy, and her hair hung in thick, shimmering chestnut waves down to her hips. Her breasts were soft and unfettered beneath her gown, and he paused for a long moment to enjoy the sight of her nipples standing proudly erect. Aidan wished fervently that he had been beside her in bed when she woke up looking so tempting and luscious. Naomi stood composed beneath his heated regard and waited for him to meet her eye again before she let her smile deepen.

"Come sit down. I made you some breakfast, and I hope you are hungry."

Naomi turned aside to reach for the coffee pot, but Aidan caught her hand in his and turned her back to face him. He pulled her slowly toward him, giving her ample opportunity to resist if she wanted. Instead, she came willingly into his arms and sank against him, pressing her succulent breasts to his chest until their fullness threatened to overflow her gown. He tried to read her eyes, but all he could see was anticipation in their cornflower blue depths. Could it be that she wanted him as badly as he wanted her? He cupped her cheek in his palm and caressed the side of her neck as he held her gaze.

"I'm starving," he growled, letting his gaze dip to the tantalizing view of her breasts. "I feel like a feast has been laid before me."

Naomi stretched onto her tiptoes to kiss his jaw where it met his neck. She traced a molten path with her tongue to his ear, and her voice was sinful delight as she whispered in his ear.

"I'm willing to satisfy any appetite you might have, Aidan."

With a satisfied growl, he gripped her buttock in his palm and swooped to devour her lips. Naomi felt as if she had been caught in a hurricane as he plundered the depths of her mouth. She met his every demand, only distantly aware that he had untied her robe and brushed it over her shoulders. His fingers were impatient on the buttons of her gown, and when he had gotten a few opened, he wrestled the garment down over her breasts and hips and let it slither to the floor.

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