Jessica Chase has always done what’s expected of her, including betray the love of her life. But that has never earned her the love of her parents. She’s decided to throw off their superficial values and actually contribute to society.

Case Sanderson should be happy; he has his three year old daughter, even though the women he was about to marry turned against him in the paternity suit. But, until he learns to forgive her he can’t seem to put himself back on the market.

Case and Jessica must come together to help a refugee in the battered women’s underground. And they have been given the perfect opportunity at a second chance to heal their broken hearts and find love.

If you love Jill Shalvis, Kristen Higgins, and Susan Mallery’s stories of second chances you’ll love Second Chance Hearts.

excerpt

Jessica closed the flap of a box and stood, rubbing the small of her back with the knuckles of her right hand. With this box her office was officially all packed up. All of her cases had been reassigned to other attorneys, and she was ready for the next phase of her life.

A phase she was in complete control of.

“What in the hell is this?” A voice thundered from her door.

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She’d been hoping to be out of the office before he returned. She’d timed her resignation for when he took his month-long vacation every year, so she wouldn’t have to have this confrontation. She’d wanted to be gone before he came back. With two other senior partners she’d been hoping HR didn’t inform him.

She turned and faced the man who had helped to destroy her dreams..

“What does it look like I’m doing?”

She caught the flash of anger and surprise in his eyes before he narrowed them.

In twenty-eight years she’d never once talked back to him. She’d always done exactly what he’d told her, never bucking under his or her mother’s plans for her.

“It looks like someone throwing a fit because she didn’t get her way.”

She wasn’t throwing a fit. She was throwing away a life, a life that was all but destroying her.

“No, I’m not throwing a fit. I’m taking charge of my life. I’m no longer going to do what you and mother want me to, to suit your plans. I’m living it for me.”

She didn’t need or want to hear what she knew would be a tirade on her responsibility to him, to her mother, and to the family.

Jessica put on her coat and picked up the box.  Ignoring the sputtering and yelling coming from her father she walked out the door of the office she’d never wanted or deserved. Just because her great grandfather had started the law firm didn’t mean she shouldn’t have had to prove herself before making junior partner.

She guessed she had proved herself years ago when she’d had to let the best thing to ever happen to her walk out the door because of a case.

She’d put it aside, because there was nothing she could do about it. She’d seen the anger and hatred in his eyes when Case had walked into her office that day. It hadn’t mattered her heart was in pieces on the floor to anyone in the room, as she’d watched the man she’d been planning on spending the rest of her life with and the daughter she’d never get to have, walk out the door.

She’d gone home, opened a bottle of wine, and cried deep gut-wrenching tears. Three days later she walked into the Cobble Hill women’s shelter and volunteered her services. If she couldn’t have Case in her life, she could do something that was important to him and his family.

It was a move that had changed everything for her. Effective today, she was now the family attorney in residence. For once she was going to be doing something good with the degree she’d gotten because of parental pressure.

Jessica exited the building housing the law offices of Sullivan, Martin and Chase and took what felt like her very first breath. The hoopla over her leaving the firm was far from over, but she’d already taken steps to make sure her family wouldn’t descend on her en masse.

She climbed into the waiting cab and put her box with the others the driver had already carried down before her father had stormed into her former office. She gave the driver the address of her new office and sat back to think about her upcoming meeting with a woman who had walked in last week.

It wasn’t the first time the woman had come in in the years she’d been volunteering her weekends there, but it was the first time she’d agreed to take steps to leave her husband.

Lost in her thoughts about the woman and her three kids, the drive from Manhattan to Cobble Hill was over before she knew it.

While the driver began to unload her boxes full of law books and the few personal items she’d had in her previous office, she ran in and grabbed a couple of the interns to help take her boxes to her new office. This office was the size of a closet compared to her last office, not that she cared.

What was important were the women and children she’d be helping.

She quickly lost herself in unpacking her office and getting ready for Shelly Harger. According to the notes the director had given her, and what she’d observed of her, Shelly had been in and out of the shelter for at least three years. Jessica wasn’t sure what happened to make Shelly decide to finally leave her husband for real this time, but she’d do everything in her power to make sure Shelly stayed away from him.

A knock on her door made her look up. Shelly stood in the doorway, her public persona nowhere in sight. The bruises on her face were a stark contrast to the paleness of her skin.

Jessica stood, walked around the desk, and embraced her.

“You’re doing the right thing.”

Shelly nodded and sank into the chair by the desk, a tissue clutched in her hand.

“You can make sure he doesn’t get my kids, right?”

Jessica had she’d been warned this would be the first question all of the women who passed through her office would ask when she’d first started volunteering there. It was also usually the catalyst for most women to finally leave their husbands. It got to her every time she heard it but hearing it from someone she’d seen at political parties, and such for years told her she’d made the right decision in leaving that world behind.

“Yes, I can. I have the documents and photos from every time you’ve been here. I do have a couple of questions, though,” she paused and waited for Shelly to say something. Shelly jerked her head down instead of answering, with her gaze locked on the floor. Jessica picked up her pen and softened her voice. “Why now? What changed to make you leave him?”

Shelly raised her head, the fire in her eyes telling Jessica more than her words something had happened.

“He h-hit one of my kids.”

In everything she’d read on why women kept going back and what made them finally leave, the husband hitting one of the kids was the number reason most women gave.

Normally she would tell Shelly she had an uphill battle considering who her husband was, but the compiled evidence was very damning. The one good thing Shelly had done over the years was have every single bruise documented.

Never again would Jessica sit on the side of the courtroom representing men like Shelly’s husband. She’d had to watch too many children go to an abusive parent because that parent had more money than the other and could afford attorneys with teams of people.

She might have left the high power law firm, but she’d made sure to develop relationships with people outside of the firm who could and would help in these cases.

“Where are you staying now?”

“A friend is letting us stay with her for the time being, but I need to be out of the city before he comes back from his business trip.”

Jessica nodded.

“Let’s get this part of the process done, and then we will look into ways to get you out of the city and away from him and his powerbase.”

Jessica spent the next three hours taking meticulous notes on Shelly and her marriage. She’d once heard her grandfather claim the best way to win a case was meticulous notes, and he’d fill up countless notepads on each case.

As the man had lost very few cases in his career, she was going to do the same thing.

By the time she was ready to leave, she had the beginnings of a tension headache, the base of her neck hurt, and her right eye was twitching. These were sure signs of a tension migraine.

She needed a long hot shower, a glass of wine, a couple of Excedrin Migraine and a plan to get Shelly out of New York and into an environment where her husband had no control.

“I know where you can send Shelly.”

Jessica turned to the young woman standing in her door who had just spoken. The first time Jessica had met her, she’d been put off by the dreads, piercings and tattoos on her. In her world a person didn’t get tattoos or pierce her tongue and other body parts, but she’d quickly realized Chrissy was prodigy smart and a very talented artist.

“Where?”

“My brother’s a cop in a small town in Vermont. His adoptive mom knows everyone and everything that happens there. It’s the perfect place to put her.”

It was the perfect place. She’d read about small towns like that, and always wondered what it would be like to grow up there. She’d spent her entire life in New York City.

“What’s the name of the town?”

“Holiday.”

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