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The (Not So) Perfect Second Chance

The (Not So) Perfect Second Chance

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Regina might be the town’s resident ice queen, but this Christmas her heart’s in serious danger of thawing when she gets a second chance with her first love.

Tyler Arnold is back from Hollywood to visit family and friends in the small town of Friar Hollow, a hamlet that’s synonymous with elaborate holiday celebrations and relentless matchmaking. It’s also the home of his childhood crush, his first love, and the woman he proposed to…before running away.

But now he’s back—in his ex’s town, at her friends’ parties, and . . . sleeping on her couch.

Main Tropes

  • Holiday Romance
  • High School Sweethearts
  • Friends to Enemies to More

Intro Into Chapter 1

The problem with being a workaholic, Tyler now realized, was that he had no idea what to do with himself when he wasn’t working.

It would be one thing if he was back at his home in Los Angeles. He had some friends there he could call to help keep him distracted over the holidays until filming picked up once more for the reality show he produced. 

That show kept him on the road most of the time, or busy with pre and post-production work the rest of the time. 

But now…

Well, now it was the holidays, and his crew had left for home while in the middle of shooting an episode. He wasn’t such a Scrooge that he’d make them work straight through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day just because he had nowhere to go.

He looked out the floor-to-ceiling window of his hotel room, overlooking a bustling Times Square. No doubt this room was a prized commodity, this view would be in demand on New Year’s Eve and he…

Well, he hoped like heck he wouldn’t still be here by then. 

He was used to staying in hotel rooms alone...but for more than a week? 

And over Christmas, no less?

He leaned his forehead against the glass and watched the people hustling below, looking like ants from this distance. 

Maybe it wasn’t too late to catch a flight back to California. He could see his mother and catch up with some friends. Sure, it was a long way to go just to have to fly back next week, but he wouldn’t mind a reprieve from the cold. 

He snatched his phone from his pocket and found his mother’s number.

She answered on the first ring. “Ty, darling! To what do I owe the honor?”

He rolled his eyes at her teasing. They had a scheduled call every Sunday and his planned calls never failed to amuse her. She lived in a world where people just picked up the phone and called one another whenever they happened to be thinking of the person.

Tyler’s life was way too busy to rely on impulsive catch-up calls. With the rate he traveled, he lived by his phone’s calendar alerts and the only calls he ever made were the ones it told him to make. 

“I wanted to follow up with you on your Christmas plans,” he said. “I know I said I couldn’t make it back—”

“I know, sweetheart, and like I said before. You have no reason to feel guilty.”

He looked up at the ceiling. She had told him that. And yet, he did still feel guilty. After his dad passed, it had become just the two of them, although his mother had a close-knit circle of friends. She always assured him that she was fine with him visiting her in Northern California when work allowed and he believed her. 

He knew she’d love to see more of him, though.

The problem was, he’d had reasons to avoid going back to his hometown. Reasons that had nothing to do with his mother or his father...and everything to do with his first girlfriend. 

The love of his life.

The one who got away.

“Look, I’ve been thinking,” he said. “Maybe I should make a quick trip home for the holidays, after all.”

Her laughter started before he’d finished speaking. “Don’t do that, son. You won’t find anyone there!”

He frowned down at the scene below. Well, there went that plan. “You’re not home?”

“I made the last minute decision to join Deborah on her trip to Friar Hollow for the holidays.”

He stilled at the mention of his mother’s oldest and dearest friend. In addition to being his mother’s best friend, she was also the mother of his ex-girlfriend. It was impossible to hear her name and not picture her daughter, the beautiful brunette who’d been haunting his dreams ever since he’d walked out of her life all those years ago.

He shut his eyes as if that would block out the memories. 

“You’re in Friar Hollow? Right now?”

“I am. And, Tyler, you did not exaggerate. This town is adorable!” Her voice was filled with glee and his lips curved up in response. He’d known his mother would love the small town in Upstate New York. 

He’d known his ex-girlfriend would love it too, which was why he’d dropped a hint to his mother when he’d heard that her marriage to Dean had fallen apart. His mother mentioned that she was looking to make a fresh start—somewhere far from California, preferably. 

He’d just finished filming an episode in Friar Hollow and hadn’t been able to get Regina off his mind the entire time he was there. It was exactly the sort of small town she’d dreamt of living when they had dated years before and so he’d passed the name along.

He had to assume that by the time Regina got wind of Friar Hollow—via his mother and then her mother—she hadn’t learned that the guy who’d broken her heart was the one who’d suggested it.

She never would have moved there if she had.

“So, you like it there, huh?” What he meant was Is Regina happy there? Is she well? Did she ask about me?

He knew better than to ask. First of all, she probably hadn’t asked. And while Tyler wanted her to be happy, he had no interest in hearing about her love life, which was a topic his mother adored.

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