Saturday Excerpt: Second Chance in Stonecreek by Michelle Major
If you’re looking for a second chance romance, the second book in Michelle Major’s Maggie & Griffin series! Second Chance in Stonecreek is the perfect read for anyone who loves stories of love overcoming all the odds!
About Second Chance in Stone Creek:
No matter how much mayor Maggie Spencer avoids bad boy Griffin Stone, there’s only so far to go in Stonecreek. Only so much she can deny an undeniable attraction. And only so many times she can relive their blazing night together. Their families are feuding, the gossip is threatening her reelection, but nothing can keep her away. Is it desire…or is it (gasp!) love?
“It won’t do for people to see you staring off into space like you’re high on the wacky weed or something.”
Maggie Spencer blinked, then turned to her seventy- nine-year-old grandmother. “Grammy, did you just use the term ‘wacky weed’?”
“I’m not as behind the times as you seem to believe,” Vivian Spencer shot back, adjusting the collar of her Jackie O–inspired tweed coat. “I know what’s going on with teens today.”
“I’m twenty-seven,” Maggie pointed out. A gentle autumn breeze whistled across the town square in Stonecreek, Oregon, her beloved hometown. She pushed away a lock of hair that had blown into her face. “I don’t smoke pot or anything else. You know that.”
She waved to Rob Frisbie, who owned the local grocery store, walking past on his way to the beer booth. How Maggie would have liked to join him at the moment.
“You could eat it,” her grandmother suggested tartly. “That’s a thing, you know.”
“I know,” Maggie answered, struggling to keep her smile in place as she greeted a couple that approached her information booth, neither of whom she recognized. “Welcome to Fall Fest,” she said brightly.
“Are you visiting for the afternoon?”
“We drove down from Portland,” the woman offered as both she and the man at her side nodded. “We’re doing a wine tasting at Harvest Vineyards later this afternoon.”
“We’re glad you stopped by the festival,” Maggie said. “I’m Maggie Spencer, Stonecreek’s mayor.” She picked up a tourism pamphlet and one of the flyers she’d printed for the annual festival. “Here’s some information on things to do around town and a list of the activities happening today. If you have five vendors stamp your flyer, bring it back, then you’ll be entered to win a weekend stay at our own local Miriam Inn.”
The woman smiled and took the papers as Grammy said, “I’m Vivian Spencer, Maggie’s grandmother and former mayor.” She leaned forward as if imparting a great secret. “She’s up for reelection next month. It’s a surprisingly tight race given that she inherited the position. I held it for almost a decade with barely any opposition.”
Heat rose to Maggie’s cheeks as the woman’s smile turned awkward. “Well, good luck, then,” she said and hurried away with her husband.
“I didn’t inherit the position,” Maggie said through clenched teeth. “I was elected and I’ve done well during my first term.”
“Don’t take that tone with me.” Vivian patted her silver hair, which was swept into a neat chignon on the back of her head. “Is it any wonder I question whether you’re on drugs with how you’ve been acting lately?”
“I’m not taking a tone,” Maggie said, making her voice gentle. “Or doing drugs. The campaign is going fine.”
“Fine isn’t enough to win the election.” Vivian reached out a crepey hand to squeeze Maggie’s arm. “I want this for you, Mary Margaret. It’s your destiny.”
Maggie sighed. Being the mayor of Stonecreek wasn’t exactly on par with a lightning bolt scar on her forehead, but she loved her town and her role as mayor. Her grandmother meant well. Grammy had stepped in to help raise Maggie and her siblings when their mother died almost twelve years ago. Maggie’s father, Jim, had struggled with being a single dad of three children. Grammy had been a constant source of love and support, and if she was a trifle overbearing and autocratic, Maggie could deal with it.
After all, she’d been content to let her grandmother steer the ship for years. It was only in the past few months that Maggie had finally wanted out from under Grammy’s manicured thumb.
“I want it, too,” Maggie said, wrapping an arm around Grammy’s shoulders. “Plans for the debate are going well. We have lots of volunteers on the campaign.”
“Debate.” Vivian sniffed. “I still cannot believe Jason Stone challenged to you to a public debate.
Maggie stifled a laugh. “It’s politics, Grammy.”
“Not in Stonecreek.” Her grandmother straightened the already neat stacks of pamphlets on the table in front of them. “Spencers have held the position of mayor for decades in this town. Your great-great-uncle and then your grandfather—rest his soul—and then me. For Jason to think he has a right to challenge you is preposterous.”
“Why do people say ‘rest his or her soul’ when talking about a dead person?” Maggie asked, grasping for any way to change the subject before her grandmother latched onto—
“I have no doubt that upstart will make an issue of your wedding, or lack thereof.” Grammy gave a quelling look, ignoring Maggie’s off-topic question. “You wouldn’t be in this predicament if you’d married Trevor Stone.”
“You’re right,” Maggie agreed, keeping her tone even. What her grandmother didn’t know was that she’d found Trevor cheating on her minutes before she was supposed to walk down the aisle. So there was a good chance she’d be in another predicament entirely. “I guess it was his loss.”
Grammy sniffed again. “Stupid boy.”
“He’s a grown man,” Maggie countered, “although
I’m with you on the stupid part.”
“No better than he should be,” Vivian muttered. “Another saying I don’t under—”
“Although still a better option than that brother of his.”
Maggie’s chest tightened at the mention of Griffin Stone. The prodigal son of the Stone family had returned to Stonecreek for the wedding and ended up rescuing Maggie when she’d fled the church after discovering her fiancé’s betrayal. They’d struck up an unlikely friendship and so much more from Maggie’s point of view. But her romance with Griffin had been short-lived.
He was still in town, once again rebuilding the tasting room at his family’s successful vineyard after fire had ravaged part of it for a second time in as many decades. Only, Maggie’s sixteen-year-old sister, Morgan, had caused the fire at the beginning of summer. The fallout of that tragic accident plus the tension that existed between the Stones and Spencers, fueled by a rivalry that dated back to the founding of the town, had driven a wedge between Griffin and Maggie that she had no idea how to combat.
And Griffin hadn’t even wanted to try. That was how little she’d meant to him.
Megan Roe, the town’s version of a girl Friday, approached the booth. “Hey, Maggie,” she called. “Hi, Mrs. Spencer. I’m here for my shift.”
Megan was in her early twenties and had grown up in Stonecreek, just like Maggie. In fact, she’d babysat the three Roe sisters through most of high school. As mayor, one of Maggie’s biggest concerns was attracting young people to the town. She wanted to keep things current and make sure there were good jobs to be found in Stonecreek so the town stayed relevant. Harvest Vineyards brought in tourists, but they also needed a strong foundation of other businesses to keep the local economy strong.
Grammy looked the young woman up and down. “Is that what you’re wearing to represent this town?” she asked, disapproval clear in her tone.
Luckily, Megan didn’t seem to notice. “Yeah.” She pulled at the hem of her minidress, which looked like an overlong flannel shirt with a red- and-black-checkered pattern. Her heavily highlighted hair was down around her shoulders and she wore black ankle boots with a chunky heel. “I got it last week when my sister and I went shopping in Portland. There are so many cool stores in the city. Around here, it’s online shopping or nothing.”
“Next time try nothi—”
“You look great,” Maggie interrupted her grandmother, gently pushing her from behind the booth. “Thanks for volunteering. We’ve had a steady stream of people stop by. Entries for the night on the town giveaway are starting to roll in. It should pick up before the band starts in an hour.”
“No problem,” Megan said with a smile. “My boyfriend is coming by to keep me company.”
Maggie squeezed Grammy’s elbow when the older woman tsk-tsked. “I’ll be around for a bit. Text if you need anything.”
The woman waved as Maggie ushered her grandma away from the booth.
“She looks like an unwashed vagrant,” Vivian said, wrinkling her nose.
“She’s stylish,” Maggie countered.
“Dirty hobo is a style now?”
“Grammy, don’t be mean. Megan is great and it was nice of her to volunteer.”
“I’m not mean. I’m honest. That girl could benefit from some constructive criticism. Did you see how short her skirt was? If she bends over, everyone will see her—”
“She looks fine.” Maggie shook her head. “You can’t worry about every little thing, Grammy. You’ve retired. The town isn’t your responsibility anymore.”
Vivian clasped a hand to her chest, her index finger gliding up to the pearl necklace she’d worn since Maggie could remember. “You’re going to break my heart with that kind of talk, Mary Margaret. You know this town means everything to me.”
“I know,” Maggie whispered, hugging her grandmother. She hated feeling at odds with anyone, especially Grammy, who Maggie loved with her whole heart. But Vivian Spencer was part of the old guard, with ideas and plans for the town that didn’t necessarily benefit the diversity and enterprise Maggie wanted Stonecreek to be known for. She had to find a way to minimize her grandmother’s influence while still showing the older woman the respect she deserved. “I love you, Grammy.”
“You, too, sweetheart.” Vivian drew back. “I’m going to head home. I’ll see you tomorrow for Sunday dinner?”
Maggie watched her grandmother walk away, then turned for the bustling town square. Booths lined the perimeter with local artisans selling jewelry and gifts and local restaurants serving a variety of tasting options. Maggie had put in countless hours with the festival committee to make this year’s Fall Fest a success.
Despite what she’d told her grandma, she did have concerns about the upcoming election. Jason Stone had been running a subtle smear campaign, a portion of it reflecting on her decision to walk away from her wedding without outing Trevor as the rat fink cheater he was.
But the more insidious digs at her came from her relationship with her grandmother. Her opponent was insinuating exactly what Grammy had just stated out loud: that Maggie had been elected because of nepotism and not on her own merits. She hated giving any credence to the idea, but the doubts pinging through her head made it even more essential that she win the election.