For the Love of Chance by Maggie McConnell
Providence is the power that erring men call Chance.
So wrote the English poet, John Milton. Three centuries later, that’s why Call Me Diablo became known as Chance.
My adventures with animals—from cats to moose, snakes to birds, and skunks to coyotes—have prepared me for the writing life. No matter how I plan for a certain outcome, I’m often surprised. Now I write with the principles that I’ve long applied to my relationships with animals. You cannot love too much. Commit. Be patient. Have faith. And never rush the ending. But it all began over twenty years ago with Chance and Milton.
I wasn’t looking for a horse when the “for sale” flyer featuring a “Quarter horse gelding with show experience” appeared on the bulletin board at the Diamond H Stables in Anchorage, Alaska. I was 38 and had been taking riding lessons for a year; my instructor, Linda, pointed me to the flyer.
I knew the obligations that came with a horse and for me, this commitment would be ‘til death do us part. So, even though I had yearned for a horse since I was a little girl—after giving up on becoming a horse—I wasn’t completely sold. Nevertheless, my heart fluttered on that Saturday morning when I walked with Linda and my husband, David, through spring snow for our first look at the handsome sorrel in the flyer photo.
It wasn’t love at first sight.
For one thing, Diablo was BIG. At 16 hands, much bigger than any of the school horses I had been riding. Astride him, I looked down at the ground and considered a parachute. When I took him for a test ride, it was like driving a truck without a steering wheel. I was way over my head with this guy, but David liked him, probably because he was man-size. So, with David’s encouragement, I put Chance in a stall at Diamond H and together we began our odyssey.
That first year was especially tough. Chance was smart and knew way more than I did. Our maiden trail ride ended with me battered and bruised in the dirt while Chance happily cantered down the road in a cloud of dust. I limped back to the stables, one minute hoping Chance would get hit by a car on nearby O’Malley Road so I’d never have to do this again, and the next minute praying he’d be safe at the barn waiting for me.
Finding no Chance, I enlisted a couple of horse owners to help me search. It wasn’t long before we spotted him, coming down a side road with someone on his back. To add insult to my injuries, the man riding him did so without reins, probably trampled and lost during Chance’s getaway. There this stranger sat, cool as a cucumber, bringing home my horse while I stood there like wilted lettuce.
That evening, I phoned my mom in Illinois and told her my adventure. She sounded worried.
“Can you give him back?”
I frowned into the phone. “Why would I give him back?”
The next day, I returned to Diamond H. Debbie, the trainer who eventually became my trainer, looked surprised. “You came back.”
Why is everyone surprised I’m sticking with this horse? What am I missing?
But I didn’t need answers. What other people thought didn’t matter. Chance was mine and I was his. It was, as Milton wrote, Providence.
It's a long way from Seattle to Otter Bite, Alaska. But if one woman can survive the trip--and the locals--she just might find what her heart has been searching for.
Her mango chutney is exquisite; her blueberry sauce is to die for. But right now, Chef de Cuisine Daisy Moon is a woman without a kitchen--and without a fiancé. Unceremoniously dumped from her place of business and her relationship, Daisy sells her belongings, plus a few of her ex's, and packs her bags. Maybe smashing all the china in her former restaurant was a bad move. Stripped of her Golden Spoon for "un-chef-like" conduct, she is now blacklisted all over Seattle. Her sole job offer is from the Wild Man Lodge. . .in Otter Bite, Alaska.
Too bad Daisy can't even get out of Dodge without incident. By the time she boards a ship for Alaska, she's got a trail of new troubles behind her, and suddenly Otter Bite is sounding pretty good. But the vessel turns into her own personal Titanic when a series of close encounters confirms her terrible taste in men--including one very good looking bad luck charm named Max Kendall. She vows to dedicate the rest of her days to chowders and brulée. Yet even Alaska isn't far enough away to shake the memories of the sexy shipmate who rocked her cabin--and her world. Thank goodness she's done with surprises--but they may not be done with her. . .