Eliza Ester Paperback Paperback Second Chance on the Cove (PAPERBACK)
Chickadee Cove Book 2

Second Chance on the Cove (PAPERBACK)

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This is the second wholesome inspirational novel in the Chickadee Cove series, this family saga is imbued with themes of later-in-life love and sweet contemporary romance, making it the perfect escape into a small town and rural adventure.

Her past has returned – but does she have the heart to drive it away?

Jeannie has finally found the perfect life. After decades of heartbreak and having her hopes crushed by her good-for-nothing ex, she’s found love with the beloved philanthropist and is about to launch her dream bakery.

But when her ex-husband appears on her doorstep with a shocking revelation – and a determination to amend his sins – cracks begin to appear in her idyllic life. Everyone says she should leave the past behind... but Jeannie doesn’t have the heart to reject a sick man, no matter how much pain he’s caused her.

Caught in a moral dilemma that strains her relationships, Jeannie is torn between comforting the man she once loved, or pushing him away to protect her future. Can she keep her new bond with the philanthropist alive with her ex back in the picture? And what will become of her youngest daughter Lily, who loves her father more than anyone?

*This women’s divorce fiction contains a cliffhanger.

Chapter One

My wife?

The oven dinged. Dinner was ready. Jeannie glanced back at the kitchen and bit her lower lip. Suddenly, the hunger pangs she felt earlier dissipated. She was in no mood to sit down and eat. 

The silence in the room was deafening. For a moment, Jeannie thought her ears weren’t functioning right. They could practically hear a pin drop. Or perhaps it was her eyes. She couldn’t tell. There was no way Luka was in her living room. 

“I said, step away from my wife. Or did you not hear me the first time?”

Jeannie’s eyebrows furrowed. She wasn’t imagining it. Luka was actually in her living room. A million and one thoughts were racing through her mind. Was this about Lily? Luka was with her the last time I saw him. What in the world would give Luka the audacity to step foot into my home?

Aaron was still on one knee, confused. Jeannie herself was so confused, she froze. Her evening had gone from a romantic dinner to a scene out of a soap opera.

“Excuse me?” Aaron scoffed and rose to his feet. “Your wife?”

Luka crossed his hands. “I believe I was loud and clear. Get your hands off my wife. Now.”

“Last I checked, Jeannie was divorced,” Aaron said, still holding onto Jeannie’s left hand. “You have no authority here.”

“I think I have more authority than you here. We have children together, after all.” Luka glanced at Aaron’s hand again. “Get your hands off. I won’t say it again.”

His effrontery was flabbergasting. Jeannie could not utter a word. She refused to believe the same Luka who had walked out of her life with his head hanging in shame was the same Luka standing there with so much confidence. Almost as if he owned the house. As if he owned her.

Jeannie knew she ought to say something. She knew Aaron was waiting for her to say something. But she couldn’t. Her mind hadn’t fully processed what was happening. A part of her was waiting for Luka to laugh and state he was merely joking. 

Finally, Aaron took his hand off Jeannie’s. “I think you should leave. If you haven’t read the room, we’re sort of in the middle of something. It’s rude of you to barge in here and make demands when you have no right to, don’t you think?”

Luka chuckled and shook his head. “Look, man. I have no idea who you are to Jeannie. But I need to speak to my wife, and this show you have going on here doesn’t concern me, either. Just step away from her. Maybe you can come back some other time.” Luka turned to Jeannie with rheumy eyes. “Jeannie, we need to talk.”

“About what?” Jeannie heard herself say. “Luka, what are you doing here?”

Luka gestured at Aaron. “We will talk when he leaves,” he said.

“I’m not leaving,” Aaron said, slightly irritated. “If anyone is leaving, then it should be you. From the look on Jeannie's face, she wasn’t expecting you. You’re the uninvited guest, and you should leave.”

“Jenny?” Luka called her softly.

Don’t call me that.

Jeannie would have said it if her lips weren’t frozen shut.

Now they were both waiting for her to say something. Jeannie stared back and forth at the two men, feeling the heat rise in her throat. She didn’t want to believe any of it was happening. Just a minute ago, she had her head in the clouds as she stared down at Aaron on one knee. They had just kissed. Her first breathtaking kiss in what seemed like forever. It was difficult to bring her head down from the clouds and back to reality. 

Aaron reached for Jeannie’s hand again and squeezed it. “Jeannie, what’s wrong?” he asked quietly. “You’re pale.”

Before Jeannie could respond, Luka charged at Aaron. In three strides, he had his hands on Aaron’s shirt and was shoving him away.

“I told you not to touch her, didn’t I?” Luka rasped.

Jeannie gasped and was about to turn her attention to Aaron, who had staggered three steps back, when she saw the rage in Aaron’s eyes. Jeannie recoiled, sensing that her living room was about to turn into a wrestling ring. Aaron reached for Luka and shoved him so hard, he fell to the floor.

“Aaron!” Jeannie blurted. 

Jeannie’s mind couldn’t deal with violence. It frightened her and made her nauseous.

Luka scrambled to his feet, red with rage. “You little—”

“Stop!” Jeannie tried to yell, but her voice cracked. “Please, no fighting.”

“Jeannie, tell whoever this is to leave,” Luka rasped. “We need to talk. You and I.”

Jeannie massaged her temple. “Is this about Lily?”

“Lily? No. Lily’s fine. She’s on a movie set till next week.”

“Then leave,” Jeannie said. “Luka, leave. Please. I am exhausted from all the yelling. You have no right to come here demanding anything. Honestly, I don’t even understand where you got the audacity from. But right now, I don’t want to know. Please leave.”

Luka scoffed. “I’m not leaving.”

“She asked you to leave,” Aaron reiterated. “Don’t you see that your presence is affecting her?”

“You might want to ask yourself why that is,” Luka said and shrugged his shoulders. “We have history, if she didn’t tell you.”

“Yeah, traumatic history. I heard all about it. Leave, while she is asking nicely.”

Luka turned to Jeannie. “Really, Jenny? You want me to leave?”

“I am this close to punching you if you don’t,” Aaron rasped, taking one step closer.

“I’m not leaving you here,” Luka said and crossed his arms. “Like I said, I came here to talk to Jeannie. But seeing there’s someone here trying to take advantage of her vulnerability, I’d rather stay. You know, just to make sure she’s safe.”

Aaron groaned and grabbed Luka by the shirt. He curled his fingers into a fist and was about to lift it when Jeannie screamed.

“Would you both, please…leave.”

Simultaneously, they turned to stare at Jeannie. “Both of you. Leave my house,” she repeated. “I’d like to be alone.”

Aaron let go of Luka’s shirt and walked toward her. “Jeannie—”

Jeannie stared at the ground trying to steady her breathing. “Aaron, please leave,” she asked in a whisper, stepping back. 

Reluctant at first, Jeannie lifted her head. She could see the disappointment in his eyes before he stepped back and turned around. Aaron picked up his jacket and without saying a word, walked out of the house.

There was silence for a few seconds before Jeannie heard Luka gather his bags from the ground. He stood upright with them and waited till he locked eyes with Jeannie.

“I’ll come by when you’re calm,” he said. “Good night, Jenny.”


Even with the house empty, she still couldn’t think straight. Perplexed, suddenly exhausted and confused, Jeannie trudged over to the couch and crashed on it. Her eyes were wide open–she had forgotten how to blink. Just a couple of minutes ago, she was dancing in Aaron’s arms. Now, she was on the couch, drained.

And the oven was still dinging.

* * *

August, early ’90s…

“How about Poppy? I think Poppy is a nice name for a girl.”

“Luka, do you want our child to get bullied in school? Poppy? Who names their child Poppy?”

“Creative people do,” Luka answered. “What? Poppy’s a nice name. Very feminine. It’s cute. Don’t you think?”

“Yeah, when she’s like five. Imagine an eighteen-year-old with the name ‘Poppy.’ Not so cute now, is it?”

Luka chuckled and wrapped his arms around Jeannie. “Well, I thought it would sound nice with your name. Jenny and Poppy. Mother and daughter. Luka, Jenny, and Poppy.”

Jeannie snuggled into his arms. “I like it when you call me Jenny. That’s weird, isn’t it?”

“It’s not weird. I like calling you Jenny. Remember how that started?”

Jeannie smiled and shut her eyes. “Yeah, after we met in seventh grade, we were paired for a science project. I think that was when you asked for my name and I said, ‘Hi, I’m Jeannie.’ Then you said, ‘Nice to meet you, Jenny. And I just let you call me Jenny for like two weeks.”

Luka threw his head back in laughter. “Then Cathy corrected me, but I didn’t stop. I wanted to be different, so I made it my nickname for you.”

“And you’ve been calling me that since we were teenagers.”

They were on a spread of white cloth near the edge of the field, watching the reflection of the orange sun on the still lake. Jeannie had suggested the idea of a picnic for them to unwind. They had packed the lunchboxes with pizza, fruits, and wine and set out in the late afternoon. It was Jeannie’s sophomore year in college. Luka’s, too. Given how tedious college life was, it took a while for them to finally make time for themselves after being apart for a week.

Finding out that she was pregnant had come as a major shock to Jeannie. She had passed out when the doctor announced it to her after a series of tests. Barely twenty years old, Jeannie still depended on her parents to survive. Her strict, Christian parents. The last few weeks had been nerve-wracking for her. Sooner or later, she had to tell her parents about the news.

Luka had taken the news better than she had expected. He was taken aback at first and was unsure if he was ready for the responsibility, but later on, he’d thawed out. They had spent hours talking and convincing themselves that they were going to figure it out. Jeannie was not sure about that, given that they were merely college students with no source of income, but she chose to remain optimistic—for her unborn baby’s sake.

“And what if it’s a boy?” Jeannie asked, tilting her head up. “What would we name him if it’s a boy?”

Luka stared into space. “Gerard.”

Jeannie's smile turned into a frown. “You really want him to get beat up, don’t you?”

“Now you’re exaggerating.”

“You know what I mean,” Jeannie said. “Anyway, one thing this conversation has taught us is that you are terrible at coming up with names, Luka.”

Luka scoffed. “Well, I don’t see you coming up with any names,” Luka said. “Let’s hear your suggestions, Miss Jeannie Miller.”

“Hmm…” Jeannie sighed. “I’m thinking…Fiona, Adeline, Francesca…If it’s a boy, then, Felix, Stephan, William, Harry.”

“Great. Straight out of a princess book,” Luka said. “Shouldn’t we name our baby something that has meaning?”

“Oh, so the name Poppy has some meaning?” she asked.

“Yes, it does,” Luka answered. “Or it will. You know what? I’m standing by Poppy, and no one will tell me otherwise.”

Jeannie giggled. “We’ll see about that.”

They had been dating for five years, since they were seventeen. Luka was like Jeannie’s other half. They did everything together, had great understanding of each other’s minds and actions, and liked the same things. Luka always knew how to turn Jeannie’s frown into a smile. She believed genuinely in her heart that he was her soulmate, and no one could tell her otherwise. Not even her parents.

They never said it out loud, but Jeannie knew they didn’t approve of her relationship with Luka. For some reason, her mother never liked Luka. She always told Jeannie to be careful with him, because apparently, she didn’t like his smile. Her mother always claimed Luka never smiled with his eyes, and she had a problem with it.

Jeannie’s father, on the other hand, didn’t want Jeannie dating at all. He hated the idea of her getting entangled with a man at a young age and was a firm believer in waiting till after college before dating a man—and preferably waiting till marriage before having sex. 

Now, she was pregnant, with a man they didn’t like, and out of wedlock. There was no way on God’s green Earth that they were going to be receptive to the news.

“What are we going to do about my parents?” Jeannie asked. “We need to tell them, Luka. They need to know.”

“I know,” Luka mumbled. “You know they don’t like me, right? They never say it, and they always force a smile when they see me, but I can tell. They haven’t liked me since I was fourteen years old.”

“Tell me about it,” Jeannie groaned. “I have no idea why. What’s there not to like?”

“That’s what I’m saying!” Luka voiced. 

Jeannie giggled and hugged him tightly. “We just have to find a way to make them see what I see. The perfect man for me. Trust me, my parents love me. I’m sure with time, they will understand. For now, we need to tell them somehow. I don’t want them finding out on their own. It’ll be better if we sit them down and tell them we want to move in together, and that we’re having a baby. What do you think?”

Luka sighed and nodded. “I really think that’s our only option at this point. More of the convincing has to come from me. I might not have a job right now, but I will get one soon, and I’ll take care of you, Jeannie. I’ve already gone to the coffee shop by the school and I applied. They interviewed me and promised to call back. I’m positive I’ll get the job. Just trust me.”

Jeannie pecked him on the cheek. “I trust you, Luka.”

“Thank you,” Luka said, stroking her hair. “I love you, my Jenny.”

Jeannie tightened her arms around him. “I love you, too, Luka. Always.”

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