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holly jacobs

by Holly Jacobs

Good can come out of bad 

If it wasn't for the tragic accident ten years earlier, Audrey Smith might never have taken in the three foster kids she loves so dearly. And if it wasn't for the new addition to her home—a troubled teenage thief—she wouldn't be fantasizing about Sawyer Williams. 

Make no mistake—Sawyer's the victim here. He's the one who was robbed by Audrey's daughter. But teaching the teen a lesson rather than punishing her makes Sawyer a superhero in Audrey's eyes. Someone who can forgive and forget… That is until another break-in rocks their community, threatening Audrey's family and her future with Sawyer.

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"Award winning author Holly Jacobs gifts us with a heart-warming story, (Chances). This captivating love story is not just about the budding romance between the main characters Audrey and Sawyer, but is also about the love shared by a family. The back-stories and development of the children’s characters are guaranteed to intensify the reader’s enjoyment. (Chances) is a lovely must-read by talented author Holly Jacobs." ~ CataRomance

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Excerpt: Chances
copyright, Holly Jacobs 2022


“Just a minute,” Sawyer Williams bellowed. He was pretty sure he knew who was at the door, and he was absolutely sure he wasn’t going to be pleased.

He was right. A teenage girl stood on his porch. Her black hair fell softly to her shoulders today instead of standing straight in the harsher spikes she normally wore. Her expression said she wasn’t any more pleased to be here than he was to have her here.

It was the same girl who’d stood on his porch each Saturday for the past month. And for the past three Saturdays, he’d cut her off and told her to leave his property or he was calling the cops. Every visit ended the same way…with him slamming the door in her face.

And here she was again. His first inclination was to actually call the cops this time. But the curiosity that had nibbled at him since that first visit finally got the better of him. He knew who she was, but had no clue why she was here.

Whatever she wanted to say had to be important. At least to her. Still, instead of threatening to call the cops or slamming the door, this time he asked, “Fine. I give up. What do you want?”

The girl jumped back, as if she hadn’t anticipated him asking a question. Her dark blue eyes met his as she took a deep breath and said, “Mr. Williams, I’m Willow Jones.”

“I know exactly who you are and I know exactly what you are.” He’d testified against her, after all. “I repeat, what do you want?”

She glanced at the red SUV in his drive and then turned back to him. She straightened her spine. “I know you’re not happy to see me. Trust me, I am not happy to be here.”

He’d gathered that much from her expression. “So, if you don’t want to be here any more than I want to have you here, why are you on my porch, knocking on my door for the fourth Saturday in a row?”

“I want to ask you if I could mow your lawn this summer.”

The young miscreant—this thief who was surely just getting started on her life of crime—was showing up weekly to ask him for permission to mow his lawn? “What?”

“Listen, she―” she jerked her head in the direction of the car “―she says I need to balance my karma. Right now, I’ve got a lot of negatives going on. She says that being on teeny-bopper probation isn’t enough .  She says that the probation actually benefits me and isn’t much of a punishment because if I keep my nose clean, I get my record wiped. It will be almost like it never happened. Only it did happen. And my clean record doesn’t do anything for you. She says that I harmed you and I need to make amendsto you. She made me think of something I could do, and I remembered when I ripped off your place that your yard’s huge, so I thought that I could mow it all summer.” She paused and sighed. “And weed it, too.”

Sawyer glanced at the car, but couldn’t make out the driver. He looked back at the girl who wanted to fix her karma. No, not fix it, balance it.

“I have a lawn service,” he said. “They were just here last week and treated for weeds.”

She glanced at the car again, then back at him. “Oh, man, whatever you do, don’t tell her that. She’ll lecture you about chemicals and water tables. Then she’ll show you her nifty little dandelion puller and tell you that if you can’t live with dandelions in your yard, you can yank them out. She’ll tell you that you should just let them be, though, `cause the bees like `em and we need bees. She’ll talk about bee collapse as she feeds you something weird that you’ve never heard of. And you can count on the fact it’ll be good for you.”

Sawyer knew he should shut the door on this young hoodlum, but for some reason he found their conversation intriguing. “Like what?”

“Something like quinoa. Yeah, that’s right.” The girl nodded. “You’ve never heard of it. No one in the real world ever has. Anyway, I have to do something for you and balance my karma in her hippie-chick sort of world. I wouldn’t let me in your house if I was you, but I figured your yard was safe. I’ll tell you when I’m coming and you can dead bolt the doors and lock the windows.”

He pointed to the sticker on his window.

“You got a security service? I didn’t notice the sticker, so I’m not sure it’s enough to warn off other future thieves.”

“There are signs, too.”

She shrugged. “I’d have to be stupid to rob your place again. I might be a thief, but I’m not stupid. But maybe it’ll keep other people from trying to break in. So, about the lawn?”

“Like I said, I have a lawn service.” This was another golden opportunity to slam the door on her, but instead he waited to see what her next response would be.

She nodded. “Listen, that’s fine. I get it. Like I said, I don’t blame you. But if you say no, I’m going to have to go back to the car and tell her that after four visits, you finally let me say my piece and still said no. If that happens, either she’ll say that we’ll try again next week—that’s your best option. And I’ll be standing out here again next Saturday. Or she’s going to come out to convince you to let me mow. If she does that, you won’t stand a chance. You might argue. You might put up a good fight. But she won’t listen. And before you know it, I’ll be mowing your yard this summer and you’ll be eating quinoa.”

He glanced at the car again, but still couldn’t make out the driver.

“Really,” Willow said, “I know you’ve got no reason to trust me on anything, but trust me on this…you do not have a choice. Heck, I don’t have a choice. We’re both stuck with the fact that I’m going to mow your lawn one way or another. And I might be a burglar, but she’s…” The sentence drifted off, as if the girl wasn’t sure how to describe her.

“She’s what?” he found himself asking.

The kid’s blue eyes met his. “She’s like no one you’ve ever met. She seems to think she can fix me. I tried to tell her that I’m not broken and I don’t need fixing or saving, but she ignores me and just keeps at it. She says everyone should have a second chance. Then Clinton…”

“Clinton?” he asked.

“Clinton Ross. Another one of her rescues. She says everyone should get a second chance and he laughs and says, ‘Sometimes even a third.’ She agrees and then says, ‘Even a fourth.’ They laugh like it’s some kind of joke. They’re weird. They have family game nights and like doin’ stuff together.”

She shook her head. “But there’s no fighting them. They’ve decided I get a second chance, so I’m getting one whether I want it or not. And part of that second chance means mowing your yard, so that means you don’t have a choice, either.”

“All summer?” he found himself asking.

She nodded. “I’ll bring the lawn mower and supply the gas and everything. You just need to leave me a few garbage cans for the yard trimmings…unless you have a compost pile.”

He shook his head. “I don’t.”

She sighed. “Well, don’t tell her that or you’ll get a crash course on how you can save the planet one compost pile at a time. Anyway, other than garbage cans, I don’t need anything from you. Just say yes and tell me when it’s convenient for me to come, then forget about me.”

“Really, you don’t…”

“ Quinoa ,” she said ominously.

Sawyer grudgingly admired the girl for her tenacity. This might have been the woman in the car’s idea, but Willow seemed to be behind it, no matter how she tried to lay the blame on the mysterious her.

“Fine,” he said. “You can mow.”

Willow let out a long sigh. “Great. Any time that’s best?”

“No. Whatever works for you.”

“Fine. I’ll be over next week.” She started down the stairs.

Sawyer called her back. “Hey, is she your mom?”

Willow turned around and laughed. “I sooo am not going to tell her you asked me that. She’s only twelve years older than me. I doubt they’d let anyone else take in a foster kid so close to their own age, but she decided I was hers and…well, like I said, when she decides something, it happens. She wanted me and now I’m hers, like it or not.”

The girl seemed clearly confused at the thought of anyone wanting her that much.

“And she’s a hippie,” he stated. He was surprised to hear a teenager referencing hippies.

She nodded. “Oh, yeah. Really, keep your distance or you’ll be…”

“Eating quinoa.”

She laughed. “Yes.”

Willow turned and started toward the car again, but Sawyer called out, “Hey, what’s her name?”

“Oh, yeah, I forgot.” She ran back over to him, pulled a piece of paper out of her back pocket. “That’s her name, my name—not that you don’t remember me—our address and both our phone numbers. And there’s my social worker and my juvenile probation officer. She says I’m not supposed to be doing it to impress my probation officer, and that unless he asks, I shouldn’t say anything about making restitution like this. She says that doing things for show is shallow. You do the right thing because it’s right, not for glory or recognition. She says that you can call my probation guy if you want, but I’m not supposed to look for credit for doing
what’s right.”

“ She says a lot of things,” Sawyer said.

Willow sighed, but he thought he detected a slight smile behind her put-upon expression. “Oh, you don’t know the half of it,” the girl assured him. “I swear, I almost wish she’d smack me when I screw up. It would be fast and over much more quickly.” She obviously spoke from experience and Sawyer found himself angry at the thought of anyone hitting the girl.

“But no, not her,” Willow continued. “She just looks disappointed and then starts talking. Pretty soon I’m doing what she wants just to get her to shut up.”

Sawyer was intrigued by this foster mom who was only twelve years older than the teen at his door.

“I told her that someday I’m going to write a book filled with all the things she says,” Willow continued. “She just laughed and said she’d come to my book signing. She’s always happy and smiling and believing that everyone is better than they really are. Except at night.”

“What happens at night?” he asked, but Willow was gone. She was getting in the car with… He glanced at the paper she’d handed him. Audrey Smith.

It looked like he was going to have to cancel his lawn service, then he was going to look up quinoa  on the net.


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