A Sheriff’s Second Chance at Love (Preview)


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Chapter One

Dr. Rose Canton strode down the hall from her office to the parlor. Her skirts swished around her legs, and her heels made a satisfying clicking sound on the wooden boards. She wore a stethoscope around her neck and a lab coat over her black velvet dress. 

“I need to see a doctor now!” a loud voice echoed through the hall. 

Rose winced and picked up her pace. When she got into the parlor, she spotted a man towering over their receptionist (sometimes) Lizzie. To her credit, Lizzie merely blinked in the onslaught of the man’s fury. 

The other patients in the room watched the spectacle with varying degrees of curiosity or disdain. An old lady held tightly to her purse and grimaced each time he raised his voice. The man in question was holding his arm against his chest. It was slowly going purple, and his hand sat at an odd angle. Dr. Rose knew she would need ether to sedate him while she set the arm. 

There was dust on his clothes, perfectly coating both his back and front. Had he rolled around in the dirt? His hair was mussed as if he’d been in a fight. The bruising around his arm had formed a half-moon shape. 

“Oh, Rose,” Lizzie said in a monotone when she spotted Rose. “Matthew here needs to see a doctor. Are you available?” 

“I said a doctor, not a nurse!” The man’s voice rose. 

“I’d be happy to help if you’d let me take a look at it,” Rose said, walking toward him. “May I?” 

He reminded her of a skittish horse. 

Matthew held his arm away from her as if he expected her to make the injury worse. “No offense, girl, but I’d rather see a professional.”  Again, he spoke louder than necessary, causing one of the elderly patients to wince. 

Rose raised an eyebrow at him. He looked roughly around the same age as her. She did a quick scan of his body. His legs were bowed slightly, and he shifted his weight as he stood. Matthew’s head was tilted to one side, and he kept narrowing his eyes as if the light was bothering him. 

“What the devil is going on here?” Dr. Charley Mortimer asked, walking into the room. 

Charley was around the same age as Rose, and they had both attended medical school in Pennsylvania. While most of his classmates had sneered at the female students, Charley had been impressed by their gumption and had befriended Rose. He was also an incurable flirt who enjoyed talking to women who were smarter than him. 

Once they had graduated, Charley offered Rose a job at his father’s practice. It turned out that the older Dr. Mortimer was somewhat of an eccentric and was amused by the thought of a woman taking a place in his medical practice. 

Rose didn’t like that she had gotten a job based on her novelty rather than her skill and expertise but given that the world wasn’t very accepting of female physicians, she had to take what she could get. Besides, it gave her a chance to do what she loved and that made it all worth it. 

“Finally!” Matthew beamed. “A doctor. I need your help. My arm hurts real bad, Doc. Can you take a look at it?” 

Charley leaned against the receptionist’s desk and looked over at Lizzie. He had hair the color of corn and eyes that always sparkled with mischief. Rose suspected that part of the reason he had befriended her was because he knew how controversial it would be. 

It was as if the differences in their personalities had manifested in their physical appearances. Charley was fair and short while Rose had black hair and was tall for a woman. In fact, she was a few inches taller than Charley, something that he often griped about good-naturedly. 

“Did you tell this fine gentleman that we operate on a first come first serve basis here at the clinic?” 

Lizzie nodded, and her eyes softened as she looked at her fiancé. 

“There you have it.” Charley threw his hands in the air. “I can’t help you; my hands are tied. Don’t you just hate protocol? You’ll have to settle for my talented colleague, Dr. Rose. You’re a lucky man. Did you know that Rose graduated at the top of her class?” 

Charley gestured grandly at Rose, but Matthew looked unconvinced. She wasn’t offended. He wasn’t the first patient to question her capabilities, and he certainly wouldn’t be the last. 

“Matthew, my name is Dr. Rose Canton,” she said, raising her voice slightly. “I would like to take a look at your arm. When did you fall from your horse?” 

Matthew’s eyes widened, and he looked between Rose, Charley, and Lizzie. “How did you know that I fell from a horse?” 

“Didn’t I tell you?” Charley clapped her on the back. “She’s a star. Now, who’s my next patient? Mr. Bradford? I see you hiding over there. Come on, let’s take a look at that gout. You’ve been drinking again, haven’t you? I knew it, you old goat.”  

With that, Charley swept out of the room with his patient in tow. 

Rose walked up to him and took his arm. She motioned at the pattern on his arm. “There aren’t many things that can cause such an unusually shaped injury. My guess is that you were thrown from your horse then rolled to get out of the way.” 

She dusted off his shoulder to punctuate her point, his eyes widening as he let her examine his arm. The skin was hot to the touch, and from her preliminary examination, she could tell that it wasn’t broken. The odd angle was caused by Matthew holding his arm in a certain way to alleviate pain. 

“This won’t take long to fix, but I have an appointment with another patient. If you ask nicely, Perhaps Mrs. Saunders won’t mind waiting for me to fix you up first.” 

She gestured at the old woman who was still clinging to her purse. Matthew turned to her and bowed his head. 

“Excuse me, ma’am, but I’m in an awful lot of pain. Do you mind if I see the doctor first?” 

Mrs. Saunders tilted her head slightly then nodded. 

“You’re too kind for your own good, Mrs. Saunders,” Rose said, patting her patient on the shoulder, causing a cloud of dust to rise. “All right, Matthew, you can follow me to my office?” 

Matthew stayed quiet as she patched up his arm and checked his blood pressure. When she was done, he stood up and made his way to the door. 

“I’m sorry for the confusion back there,” Matthew muttered, touching the doorknob. “I can’t hear so good, and that lady out front talks so soft. I just saw you and assumed you were a nurse.” 

Rose’s heart softened. “Let me guess? Your mother was diagnosed with Rubella while she was pregnant with you?” 

Matthew’s eyes widened. “How did you know?” 

“Your limbs are bowed, you show signs of hearing difficulties, and you keep shifting on your feet but mostly on your right foot, which tells me that your shoe is too tight. I suspect that you have a sixth toe on that foot which makes it hard to find shoes that fit right.” 

He shook his head. “That other doc was right, you are good.” 

Rose chuckled and went to sit by her desk. “You take good care of that arm, you hear? Come back in a week or so, and I’ll check on it to make sure everything is all right.” 

“Thanks, Doc, you’re real good at what you do.” 

A warm glow spread through her chest as he closed the door. Not all her patients repented from their prejudices after she treated them, so it was especially gratifying when someone apologized for judging her. 

The rest of the day flew by, as she worked with her patients. Some of them were familiar and others were new to the clinic. One woman walked out of the clinic when she discovered that Rose was to be her doctor – a dark spot on an otherwise triumphant day. 

By the end of the day, Rose could finally get to her paperwork and her mail. 

“Don’t work too late!” Charley sang as he and Lizzie left for the day. 

As usual, Rose would be the last person to leave, but she didn’t mind it. The first thing she did was start sorting through her mail.  

One letter immediately stood out to her. It was from her sister, Lily. Rose ripped the letter open and sped through the words, her heart getting tighter with each word. 

Dear Rose, 

I write this letter with the heaviest of hearts. My dear husband is dead, and I have discovered that I am carrying his child. I need you, Rose. Please, come to me as soon as you are able. I hate to drag you away from your important work, but I have no one else to turn to. The doctor advised me not to travel in my current condition; otherwise, I would have come to you. 

I cannot do this on my own. It would only be until the baby is born. 



Rose recoiled from the letter before forcing herself to read it a second and a third time. It was only on the fourth repetition that she finally made sense of what she was reading. Rose got to her feet and hurried out of the office, barely stopping to take her lab coat off. 

She needed to get home to pack. It was a long trip from the Dakotas to Nebraska. 


Rose arrived in Holt, Nebraska about five days after she received Lily’s letter. It had taken her two days to make travel arrangements and hand over all her patients to Charley. It had been a difficult thing to do as she had worked hard for two years to build up a patient list. 

They depended on her for their medical care, and she was letting them down. A gnawing guilt followed her all the way from North Dakota, slowly eating away at her insides. However, if she had to choose between her patients and her sister, there was no contest. 

A crispness filled the air as she stepped off the wagon, a clear signal that summer was giving way to fall. Fallen leaves formed a blanket on the streets that kept the dust from the air. Rose’s nostrils filled with the smell of wood smoke as each house was likely already keeping a fire inside. 

Holt was a quaint frontier town, not unlike Oak Hill in North Dakota. Rose’s heart tugged at the thought of her home. It seemed so far away. She shook her head and forced herself to pay attention to her surroundings. The town comprised of wooden or stone homes arranged in orderly blocks around the town square. 

The square itself was fairly impressive with a garden and a large pavilion in the middle. It was surrounded by a bank, several stores, and the jail. Rose had never been to Holt as she had been in Pennsylvania when Lily and her husband, Thomas, were married. Before that, Rose and Lily had lived in Omaha with their parents. Who would have thought that the two city girls would end up living in frontier towns? 

Rose shook her head at the thought. Thankfully, Lily had provided Rose with detailed descriptions of her property, a smallholding outside the town’s limits. Rose had only brought two cases. One contained her medical equipment and the other had a change of clothes and undergarments. Rose would simply use Lily’s clothes while she was in town, or she would buy what she needed. The sisters were the same size and had frequently shared clothes when they were younger, so there had been no need to pack too much. 

She received a few curious looks as she walked down the town’s main street, which she ignored. Holt was small enough that she could figure out how to get in and out of town without much help. After ten minutes of walking, she finally found the right house. 

Lily’s descriptions of a sweet white house with a wraparound porch that faced the rising sun had come in handy. Rose walked up to the front door and knocked. 

The door swung open to reveal her sister. They regarded each other in shock for a moment. The last time Rose had seen Lily had been at her graduation from medical school. Lily had been radiant as she stood next to Thomas. The sisters could have passed for twins even though they were two years apart. 

Lily had the same black hair and piercing blue eyes, but she was more petite. There was also a softness in her face that was lacking in Rose’s. 

Rose wanted to cry when she first caught sight of her sister. The years hadn’t been kind to Lily. Her hair hung limp around her shoulders and her face was gaunt with grief. 

“Rose …” Lily breathed. “You came.” 

Rose wrapped her arms around her sister and hugged her tightly, inhaling her familiar jasmine scent. Despite the small bump growing in Lily’s belly, the woman was much too thin. She was all skin and bones, which couldn’t be good for the baby.  

“Of course, I came,” Rose said gently. “I couldn’t keep away!” 

Lily smiled, but it didn’t reach her eyes as she stepped away from Rose. “Please, come inside.” 

Lily’s home was large with glossy wooden floors and flowery wallpaper. It was cozy and comfortable, everything that their childhood home had been. Their mother had died giving birth to Lily, leaving their father to take care of the girls. He had been completely lost and hadn’t given them a conventional upbringing. 

They often accompanied him to his medical practice. Rose had memorized all the bones in the human body before she went to school. Meanwhile, Lily had inherited their mother’s kindness. She had grown up to be the homemaker and had brought a gentleness that had been lacking in their lives after their mother died. 

While Rose and their father had talked about surgeries and new developments in medicine, Lily worked with the housekeeper to make sure the family ate and had everything they needed. If it hadn’t been for Lily, Rose and their father likely would have lived off sandwiches and converted the house into a lab of sorts. 

“I’m here now,” Rose said, taking hold of Lily’s hand. “And I’m going to help you with whatever you need.” 

“I’m ever so grateful,” Lily said, inclining her head. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were coming. You need to give me an hour or so to prepare your room for you.” 

“Never mind that.” Rose waved her hand dismissively. “I’m going to give you a checkup. Grief isn’t good for a baby, and I need to make sure that my niece or nephew is in good health.” 

“I have a doctor,” Lily said, her lips twisting upward. 

Rose shook her head and pushed Lily onto the nearest chair. “How far along are you?” 

She put her medical case on the dining room table and Lily dutifully put her arm on the table so that Rose could take her blood pressure. 

“The doctor thinks I’m three months along now,” Lily said. 

“You’re about to enter the second trimester.” Rose took Lily’s blood pressure and made a mental note of the result. 

“I know,” Lily said, cradling her belly. “I’m ever so blessed to have a part of Thomas with me still.” 

Rose’s heart clenched in pain. She’d only met Thomas twice but had received glowing letters from Lily about his personality. Thomas had been the love of her sister’s life. They had courted for a year, during which their father had given them his blessing before he died. Thomas had supported Lily through the grief, allowing Rose to throw herself into her studies with minimal guilt. 

Three years of marriage was far too short for such a happy couple. 

“I cannot tell you how sorry I am to hear of your loss.” Rose bent her head as she measured Lily’s pulse. “How did it happen? He was so young.” 

Lily swallowed hard and rested her head against her hand. “He was thrown from his horse. They say it was an accident.” 

Her words were filled with such bitterness that Rose sat down. It was unlike her sister to speak in such a way. 

“They say?” 

Lily’s eyes swam with tears as she looked down at her hands. “I … Rose, you’re going to think that I’m mad, but I don’t think it was an accident. Thomas … He was an excellent rider, the best I’ve ever known. And Buttercup was so sweet, she wouldn’t spook even when there was a clap of thunder. There’s something more to the story, but they won’t believe me.” 

Rose’s blood boiled, and she stood up abruptly. “That won’t do. How dare they brush you off.” 

Lily sighed and leaned back in her chair. “In truth, that’s why I asked you to come today. I need someone to fight the sheriff and his deputy. I simply don’t have the energy to do so myself. Please, I need your help, Rose.” 

Rose clenched her hands into fists. Ever since she’d received Lily’s letter, she’d been at a loss to know how she could help. She had never been good at words or taking care of the bereaved. However, she was well-acquainted with fighting with authorities. This was what she was good at. After all, she’d needed to fight small-minded men ever since she first decided she was going to be a doctor like her father. 

“They’re going to rue the day they ever dismissed you. I saw the sheriff’s station when I came into town. I’ll go over right away and give them a piece of my mind!” 

Rose marched over to the door when Lily’s voice cut through her rage. 

“Wait … There’s one more thing you need to know.” 

Rose turned to Lily and put her hands on her hips. 

“The sheriff is Dantry Arwood.” Lily grimaced as she moved her hands along her belly, as if checking that the bump was still there. 

Rose’s heart jumped in her chest. A flash of pain went through her as her knees threatened to buckle. Dantry? After all this time, his name still held so much power over her. 

She forced herself to shrug. “That means nothing to me. It doesn’t give him the right to treat you badly.” 

With that, she pulled the door open and launched herself outside. She couldn’t trust herself to stop, because if she did, her courage would fail her. If it had been anyone other than Dantry, she wouldn’t be filled with fear as she made her way to town. 

Chapter Two

Sheriff Dantry Arwood was enjoying a roast beef sandwich. It was his first meal all day as he had been called out of his house at the crack of dawn to help a rancher chase off some cattle thieves. It was part of the job and came from living on top of the town’s jail. He hardly knew a moment’s peace. However, he wouldn’t have had it any other way. 

Dantry took a bite of his sandwich and savored the savory beef mixed with mustard, onions, and a bit of spinach. The bread was fresh out of the oven – one of the perks that came from living next to the bakery. 

His stomach had been cramping for hours, and as soon as the food entered his system, a rush of dizziness went through him. It was a relief. 

At that moment, his office door burst open and the last person he’d expected to see again stormed into his office. 

Rose Canton strode in as if she owned the place. It probably never occurred to her that she didn’t. Her eyes shot icicles at him and caused a piece of sandwich to get stuck in his throat. 

He hurried to move his dusty boots off the table and coughed as the chunk of sandwich refused to move. 

“What on earth did you say to my sister?” She put her hands on her hips and glared at him. 

“Hello to you too,” Dantry gasped as the sandwich finally dislodged. “How have you been, Rose?” 

He knew better than to show fear in her presence, but he was shocked by how clammy his hands had become. It had been five years since he had last seen her, and apparently he had forgotten the visceral effect she had on him. 

Damn Rose Canton. 

“Don’t you start that with me, Dantry.” She walked up to his desk. “How dare you dismiss my sister’s feelings? Her husband has just died, and you made her feel as if she were crazy?” 

Dantry’s mind spun. What was she on about now? Many times during their acquaintance,  it felt like Rose had been speaking another language. It was apparent to all involved that she was much smarter than everyone around her. Speaking to her always made him feel as though his mother had dropped him on his head as a baby. So, when he was completely clueless about what she was saying, it wasn’t an altogether unfamiliar experience for him. 

“Did you follow up with the doctor? How can you be sure that Thomas wasn’t murdered? Did your backwoods doctor even perform an autopsy or a postmortem? I’m sure there must be more to the story. Or do you believe that a woman is incapable of knowing something you don’t? I know how much you struggle with respecting a woman’s mind.” 

“Now hold on just one minute.” Dantry stood up so quickly that his chair skittered behind him. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, and I don’t appreciate you coming in here after five years and accusing me of something that isn’t true! As usual, you have no idea what you’re talking about.” 

It had been a few minutes, and he was already fuming. The woman was impossible, and he wanted her gone. No. He wanted to know what she’d been up to, and then he wanted her out of town. Did she still smell like jasmine and honey? No. Who cared? She had to leave.   

“Oh?” Rose’s nostrils flared as she held out a hand to stop him. “You’ve always made it abundantly clear that unless a woman falls into line with your reasoning, then she’s wrong. You’d even cut her out of your life to prove your point.” 

Dantry’s mouth dropped open. “Are we talking about your sister or about what happened five years ago? Because if we’re talking about our past, then I have a lot to say.” 

She flinched as if he’d hit her. “No. I’m not here to rehash ancient history. I’m here to get justice for Thomas Edington. You probably already know that he married Lily.” 

Dantry did know. He knew everything that happened in Holt. It was his town, even if she didn’t respect that. When Lily and Thomas had first moved to town, he had expected to run into Rose when she came to visit her sister. She had never come to visit in the three years that Lily had lived in Holt. He had been surprised, not disappointed, by her lack of feeling toward her sister. Dantry always thought that Rose loved Lily more than anyone else, especially after their father died. He had been saddened by the news of old man Canton’s passing. 

Although, it shouldn’t have come as a shock since she had smashed his heart to pieces without blinking. It made sense that she could go for years without seeing her beloved sister. 

“Yes, and we were all real sad to hear that he died,” Dantry said, crossing his arms over his chest. “I don’t know where you get off, but my deputy did a thorough examination of the scene. Thomas was thrown from his horse. His boot got caught in the stirrups and he was dragged for several miles. Now, unless you want me to charge the horse with murder, I don’t see why you’re in my office hollering like a stuck pig.” 

Rose blanched. “What a lovely way to describe my legitimate concerns. I see that nothing has changed with you.” 

“What legitimate concerns?” Dantry raised his eyebrows at her. “Do you have proof? I don’t see any proof. Come now. Let’s talk this out like adults and keep the hysterics to a minimum. I know it’s difficult, but I believe in you.” 

She threw her hands in the air. “Oh, wonderful. If I react to that then I’m just a hysterical woman and you get to be the reasonable one just because you said provocative things in a measured tone. You won’t negate my reasoning simply because you didn’t raise your voice. I will do what I have to in order to prove that Thomas was murdered.” 

Dantry dropped down to his chair with a sigh and rubbed his temples where a headache was brewing. He looked longingly at his sandwich. Then he opened his desk drawer and began searching through his files until he found Thomas Edington’s file. The drawer was stuffed full of documents. It was a sad testament to the state of crime in Holt. 

“Nothing was suspicious about his death and nothing indicated that it was more than an accident. We did everything by the book.” 

Rose reached out to take the file, but he yanked it away just in time. “This is federal property. You don’t get to look at it just because you’re Rose Canton.” 

She was still so entitled! It set his teeth on edge. Thank the heavens that he never married her. His heart clenched when he thought of what could have been. The woman was impossible.  Yet she was still as beautiful as she was at twenty-one. Had she gotten prettier with age? 

“Give me five minutes with that file, and I could find something you missed.” She lifted her chin. “If there’s evidence of murder, then it’s on the body. People lie, but our bodies can’t. Let me inspect the report of his injuries, please. Don’t do it for me. It’s for Lily. She never did anything to hurt you.” 

Unlike Rose. Dantry swallowed as he mentally finished her sentence. “Let me guess, the Great Rose Canton is smarter than everyone in this town combined. You always assumed you were the cleverest person in the room. Well, let me tell you, our doctor is just as good as you.” 

He had to stop saying her full name. Why did he keep doing that? She would think he’d been obsessing over her for the past few years. Rose Canton meant nothing to him. Great. He did it again. 

“Prove it?” She met his gaze. He knew from experience that she won every staring contest she ever engaged in. The woman never blinked! Rose held out her hand expectantly, forcing him to say the one thing he’d been avoiding. 

“We never ordered an autopsy. The doctor never saw Thomas’ body.” 

Rose reared her head as if a horrific injustice had been committed. 

“He was already dead!” Dantry gestured helplessly. “Lucas confirmed the man was dead. We checked the scene. It was clearly an accident. I wasn’t going to waste the doctor’s time on something we already knew. Besides, there’s nothing in the law that states we have to conduct an autopsy on an accidental death.” 

Rose shook her head at him as if she was dealing with a petulant toddler. “I cannot believe this. The doctor still needed to confirm your theory, didn’t he?” 

“Not according to the law.” Dantry scratched the back of his neck. “Lucas did a fine job, and I won’t have you questioning our capabilities.” 

“I don’t need to question anything,” Rose scoffed. “Your work speaks for itself! If you were as proud of the work he did as you claim, then you wouldn’t feel the need to justify it so often. Why won’t you let me dig into that file? Are you afraid of what I might find?” 

Dantry dropped the file back into his desk and shoved the drawer closed. It refused to budge, and he pretended as if that was what he had intended to happen as two files fell to the floor. He would have to fix it as soon as she left. 

“There’s no notes from the doctor, so you don’t have anything to examine,” Dantry pointed out. 

Rose threw her hands in the air. “You’re impossible. I’m going to find the evidence I need to prove this was a murder. And then I’m going to take pleasure in rubbing your nose in it!” 

Dantry narrowed his eyes at her. “Will you leave my office if I promise to come see you and Lily in a day or two about this?” 

Rose scoffed. “Let’s see if you fulfill your promise this time.” 

With that parting shot, she turned on her heel and stormed out of the office, nearly bumping into his deputy, Lucas, as she went. Lucas grunted as she pushed past him then stepped into the office with a concerned expression.

“What was all that about?” Lucas asked with a frown. “I could hear you shouting all the way from the post office.” 

Dantry shook his head as he leaned back in his chair and picked up his sandwich. “Nothing. It’s just Lily Edington’s sister asking a few questions about the case.” 

“Didn’t you know Lily when you were living in Omaha?” Lucas asked. “Wait, does that mean you know Lily’s sister too? Boy, what did she do to get under your skin?” 

“She thinks that Thomas was murdered and wants to look into our investigation,” Dantry muttered, ignoring the first question. 

“Well, she’s wasting her time,” Lucas said as he went over to his own desk. “Don’t you think?” 

Dantry shrugged and took a bite of his sandwich. Unfortunately, his appetite had fled and the once perfect sandwich was now soggy and cold. Not only that, but it seemed that Rose Canton was here to stay. Could his luck get any worse?


Grab my new series, "Hearts Across the Frontier", and get 2 FREE novels as a gift! Have a look here!

One thought on “A Sheriff’s Second Chance at Love (Preview)”

  1. Hello my dears, I hope you were intrigued by the preview of this inspiring love story and you cannot wait to read the rest! Let me know your thoughts here. Thank you kindly! ✨♥️

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