Home > A Rogue Cowboy's Second Chance

A Rogue Cowboy's Second Chance
Author: Stephanie Rowe

 


Chapter One

 

 

Tatum Crosby held up her arms and bowed again, grinning as the crowd cheered. This was why she hadn't walked away from her life. Her soul needed this to thrive, and whenever she thought of what she would lose without it, she couldn’t even breathe.

She waved again, inhaling the energy of the stadium, of all the people pouring love into her. "Thank you again," she shouted. "I love you guys." She blew a few kisses, then jogged down off the stage into the tunnel lined with her people, high-fiving them as she ran.

It had been one of the best shows she'd had in months, maybe all year. She'd felt free and energized. Happy almost. She—

"Tatum."

She stopped, tension gripping her as a man stepped out of the shadows in front of her. "Donny."

She hadn't seen her manager, and ex-husband, Donny Evans, in almost a month. The moment she saw him, she realized that was why she'd had a good show tonight. Because he hadn't been around. "You're back."

He looked bigger than the last time she'd seen him. He'd bulked up, his muscles coiled beneath his black tee shirt. His ice blue eyes were such a contrast to his dark hair. Those blue eyes had wooed her when she was seventeen. Now she knew they were the windows to hell.

"I heard you contacted a lawyer again," he said.

She bit her lip. How had he found out? She'd sworn everyone to secrecy. "Look, Donny, it's not a big deal. I just wanted to know what my options were—"

"You know your options. Your only job is to sing. I take care of everything else." His icy blue eyes flashed. "Don't make this difficult, Tatum. We're good together. Let's fix it. Be a team in the bedroom as well as out of it. I know you miss me."

She took a step back as he reached for her. "Don't touch me."

His jaw tightened. "It was a one-time mistake. She didn't mean anything to me. You'd been on tour for months, and I missed you."

"I know." She'd heard it too many times before. She also knew that his infidelity didn't even scratch the surface on why she didn't want him near her. "I'm exhausted." She started inching past him, trying to keep as much distance between them as possible. "The doctor told me I need to rest my vocal cords as much as possible. Are you staying around for long this time?"

"I'll be joining you for the rest of the tour."

"No." Her stomach dropped, and she clenched her fists. "Don't stay."

"I'm staying. I'm concerned about your stalker." He fell in beside her, keeping pace as she walked. "I miss you, Tatum. We'll work this out."

She didn't look at him. "You're not my husband anymore. And I don't want you as my manager. Let me go."

"It doesn’t work like that, sweetheart."

The way he said "sweetheart" made chills clamp down on her spine. "Don't call me that—"

"Tatum!" Her tour manager, Nora Smith, hurried up. "Do you have a moment to go over some details about tomorrow's concert? We need to switch a few things up due to venue restrictions. Can you come with me?"

"Yeah, of course." Tatum nodded at Donny as Nora took her arm. "Gotta go." She didn't look back as Nora hurried her down the hall. The moment they put distance between her and Donny, she felt relief rush through her. "Thanks," she whispered.

"No problem." Nora flashed her a worried look. "The stalker got in your dressing room again," she said. "While you were on stage."

Fear congealed in Tatum's belly. "How? How is he getting in? Someone must be letting him in." Her first thought was Donny. Was he trying to terrorize her into taking him back?

"I don't know, but we're going to change things up for the show tomorrow to give you better security." Nora raised her brows. "Unless you want to cancel?"

"You know I can't. Donny won't let me."

"You need to fire him."

"You know I can't do that either." She'd tried, but the contracts she'd signed when she was eighteen had trapped her far beyond what she'd understood was even possible at the time.

Nora sighed as they reached the end of the hallway, where her security team was waiting to get her out of the stadium. "You've got to do something, Tatum. You're breaking. I can see it."

She thought she'd been hiding it. But maybe she hadn't. Maybe she was so close to the edge that there was no way to keep up the façade she'd practiced for so long. "I know. I'll figure something out. Where are we tomorrow?"

"Portland, Oregon."

Tatum stopped and stared at Nora. "Oregon?"

"Yes, why?"

Tatum let out her breath, and then made an instant decision. "Can you get a VIP ticket and backstage pass for tomorrow's concert to someone? It needs to arrive by seven tomorrow morning." Would that even be enough lead time for him? She knew how full his life probably was.

Nora raised her brows. "In less than eight hours?"

"Yeah. Can you do that?"

"I'm magical. Of course I can." Nora pulled out her phone. "Who?"

Tatum hesitated for a split second, then blurted out the name before she could change her mind. "Brody Hart. He has a ranch in eastern Oregon. I don't know the address."

Nora stared at her. "Brody Hart? The Brody Hart? The reclusive tech genius who was part of a band of homeless kids, then made billions and now lives on some horse ranch in the middle of nowhere?"

"Yeah." She'd been part of that group of homeless kids a very, very long time ago. She'd known Brody before he'd become rich, and he'd known her before she'd become famous. And then everything between them had broken. "Can you find him and get him the ticket?"

"Honey, that man gets invites to everything, and he never goes."

Tatum grimaced. "I know. But can you find him and get him the ticket by morning? It's important."

Nora sighed. "Yes, but don’t get your hopes up that he'll come."

"Too late. They're already up."

 

 

Chapter Two

 

 

Brody Hart ran his hand over the gleaming chestnut hair on Stormy's neck. "Looking good, kid."

Stormy snorted and swished her tail, impatient to get released from the crossties.

"I know. I'm almost done." Whenever Brody was in town, he did the shoeing for the horses who needed extra care. He'd made a study of methods and honed his skills to best help the animals they rescued and brought onto the Hart Ranch.

He trusted no one with Stormy's feet, and his care had made a difference. She'd barely been able to walk when she arrived, afraid to put weight on her broken hooves.

Now she galloped through their extensive pastures, tail held high, the purest freedom of spirit. She was why he had this ranch. She and all the others like her. Broken horses with no real home, just like he and his family had been so long ago.

He ran his hand down her back leg and leaned his shoulder into her hip, shifting her weight off her hoof so he could lift it and work on it. He was humming quietly to himself when he heard footsteps behind him.

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