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New Release

Read Chapter 2 of THE FALLEN O’CONNELL

 August 27, 2020

By  Lorhainne Eckhart

The O'Connells

The O’Connells of Livingston, Montana, are not your typical family. Follow them on their journey to the dark and dangerous side of love in a series of romantic thrillers you won’t want to miss. Raised by a single mother after their father’s mysterious disappearance eighteen years ago, the six grown siblings live in a small town with all kinds of hidden secrets, lies, and deception. Much like the contemporary family romance series focusing on the Friessens, this romantic suspense series follows the lives of the O’Connell family as each of the siblings searches for love.

Who wants another sneak peek of THE FALLEN O'CONNELL?  The next installment in The O'Connells series will be released next week, but you can read Chapter 2 now!

Thirty-five years ago, Raymond O’Connell didn’t exist, at least not until the moment Iris walked into his life. His very existence had been a secret, a carefully cultivated lie, except for the fact that he loved Iris and the six children he’d never planned on having. He’d become careless, living a life that belonged to someone else. 



Becoming Raymond O’Connell had made him forget who he really was, and when he fell in love with a fantasy he knew he couldn’t have, he put his family in danger. Ultimately, he found himself covering up a murder to protect the woman

he loved, and that act forced him to walk away and return to the shadows of a secret life that he couldn’t find his way out of.



When he returns to Livingston with a son in tow, what he doesn’t expect is to be dragged from the shadows to protect a family that suddenly has a target on their backs. Soon, Raymond finds himself becoming part of a bigger, deadlier plot—one that could leave someone in his family, someone he’s sworn to stay away from, dead.



The choice he’ll have to make to protect the O’Connells could come at a heartbreaking cost. Can Raymond choose between the son he has now and the family he walked away from?

Raymond's story is now available for pre-sale at these eRetailers:

****

Chapter 2

The wind had picked up, and Iris took in the established trees in the neighborhood, swaying in the wind. The leaves had fallen, and the late September chill in the air had her shivering in her silky teal dress as she stepped inside Ryan and Jenny’s house.

She heard her kids talking over soft music in the background, voices coming from the kitchen and living room. The justice of the peace was talking with Ryan and Marcus, and Luke stood off to the side. All her sons were in suits, looking dashing, handsome.

She didn’t think she’d have been able to explain to anyone why it seemed they’d never get back to the normal they’d once had. But they were trying for her.

“Grandma!” Alison said. “Mom’s upstairs, getting dressed, and Charlotte and Eva are up with her, but Karen and Suzanne are in the kitchen, freaking out, because the caterer apparently canceled all of a sudden.”

For a minute, Iris didn’t know what to say to Alison, who had run over to her, wearing a sleeveless, low-cut deep purple dress that hugged her teenage curves and stopped mid-thigh. It was sexy, revealing, something Karen would’ve worn, she remembered.

“But the caterer was supposed to be here already…” she started.

Ryan and Jenny’s wedding was today, with just family, because it seemed the friends they’d once had were still dissecting their characters, convinced of their guilt, and had long since convicted them in the court of public opinion.

So here they were, small and quaint. She let out a sigh as she reached for her granddaughter’s wrists, lifting them, taking a closer look at her makeup and forcing a smile. Alison, too, was on edge, but Iris knew that with teenagers, it could be any of a hundred problems or none of them.

“So, first, you look gorgeous, as always,” she said. “I take it there’s a Plan B in the works? Karen is on the phone, handling the situation?”

Alison pulled away and started walking into the kitchen without answering her, and she didn’t know what that meant. When Luke glanced over, she realized something was up there, too.

She followed Alison into Ryan’s kitchen, the heels of her black wedge sandals clicking on the floor. Harold was there, unloading wine and hard liquor bottles on the kitchen island. His blond hair was in the same short cop cut as always, and he wore a white dress shirt and tie. He offered a tight smile, one she tried to return. She wondered how long the tension would linger between them, considering what he’d done, arresting her. It was a memory she’d never be able to shake.

“Mom, we’ve got a problem,” Suzanne said. Her hair was hanging long and loose over a gorgeous dress of white and black. “Jolene Harris, from the bistro, who was catering the wedding, just canceled. Actually, she didn’t even have the decency to pick up the phone and call. She intended to just leave us hanging, is all we can figure. Luckily, Karen called because she wanted to remind her to pick up the cake from the bakery. That was when she broke the news, said she was sorry to do this, but she wouldn’t be catering. When Karen pressed her, you know what that bitch said?” Suzanne glanced at Alison. “Ah, sorry…”

Alison only shrugged, looking impressed at her aunt’s dramatics.

Iris could feel her chest tightening. Across the kitchen, Jack acknowledged her by jutting his chin, then said something to Karen, his hand around her back, rubbing. She was talking on her cell phone in that way she did when she was trying to solve something. It was just the lawyer in her, and Iris was so damn proud. Her daughter looked especially gorgeous in a sexy pink low-cut dress.

Jack started around Karen, his hand sliding over her shoulder as she said something to him, and he nodded and pressed a kiss to the side of her head. Yeah, he loved her. It was there in just a look before he started over to Iris.

“Jack, Suzanne just filled me in on the problem,” Iris said. “So Jolene canceled? How can she do that? I paid her already for the catering…”

Behind her, she could hear Owen and Tessa’s voices as they stepped inside. She glanced back to see her son looking dashing in a light suit, and Tessa wore a gorgeous light blue flouncy dress, her blond hair pulled up.

Iris forced herself to turn back to Jack. She never would’ve admitted before how much she trusted him—in a way she’d never trusted anyone, other than her children, for years now.

“She was planning to screw up Ryan and Jenny’s wedding and leave you hanging, is what it sounds like,” Jack said matter of factly. “But not to worry. My wife is about ready to drive over and take her down a notch, and I’m sure she’s planning a number of ways to drive her out of business. Seems the public opinion in Livingston is that this family is still guilty for something, even though, logically, they know it’s not true. Nonetheless, this is the situation.” He held up his keys, resting his hand on her shoulder, then stepped past her. He was supportive, a good man. “Seems I’m now being recruited to go and get food. Owen! You’re joining me for a trip to the supermarket. I’ll explain on the way.”

Iris didn’t miss Owen’s amused and puzzled expression, but then, he’d just walked in and wasn’t up to speed like she was.

Karen hung up her cell phone. “Hey, Mom, you’re here. Okay, cancel the grocery store trip, Jack. I just got off the phone with Tyrell Green, and he’s on his way over. You know he owns that diner at the edge of town. I defended his son, Lawrence. He’s bringing his wife with him and said they’ll cook up a feast for us, a barbecue or something. I told him whatever he comes up with is fine.” Karen pressed her hand to her chest and pulled in a breath as she strode over. “Mom, you look really nice, in case I didn’t say it.”

Jack leaned back against the island, now appearing amused, though Iris was nothing but. She remembered the Greens, how no one had wanted to defend their son. It had been a sad situation, the case her daughter had taken on. She glanced around at them, seeing that the kitchen island was already set up like a bar, courtesy of Harold.

“So it seems Jolene is screwing me,” she said. “I was just saying to Jack that I paid her in full to cater this. There was no discount. I’ve known her for years…”

Karen waved her hand in the air. “I’ll make sure she pays back every dime and then some. Don’t worry. But she’s no friend, Mom. Just so you know, I intend to get her blacklisted. If she wants to play these kinds of games, she’s going to pay the price for messing with the O’Connells. I’m done with this crap that people think they can get away with. Even if any of the rumors about us were true, what she did is inexcusable.”

Her daughter was pure fire. Iris wondered what Raymond would think if he were there. Yeah, best not to go down that road. She hadn’t thought of the man in a long time, and then he’d just had to walk into her life that night, dropping by unannounced. Now not a night passed that she didn’t see his image before she closed her eyes.

“You okay, Mom?” Karen said, then smiled. “Don’t let Jolene stress you out. I promise I’ll take her down for you and get some much-needed retribution.”

Iris had to force herself to shake off Raymond. If her kids only knew what she’d been thinking… She cleared her throat. “So how’s Jenny? I wonder if I should head up and talk to her.”

Karen lifted her gaze toward the stairs. “I hope she has no idea that some folks are still messing with us and trying to ruin her day.”

“Right, so let’s make sure it stays that way,” Iris said. “This is Ryan and Jenny’s day, and I, for one, would prefer if no more problems came up.”

She didn’t know why, but everyone had hesitated as if she’d said the one thing she shouldn’t have said. Then there was a timely knock at the front door, and she found herself holding her breath for a second.

Alison’s face suddenly lit up, and she hurried out of the kitchen.

“I’ll go up and check on Jenny, see if she needs anything,” Iris said. “I take it you all have everything covered here.” She gestured toward them and shrugged off her light black coat, which Owen reached for.

Her kids hesitated for only a second more, their expressions amused. Karen shook her head, and Jack was chuckling softly.

Suzanne sighed, walking over to Harold and resting her arm over his shoulder. “Yes, Mom, we’ve got this,” she said—but then she pulled away from Harold, and her brow knit as she stared past Iris to the front door. “I didn’t know Alison’s friend was coming. Didn’t someone say he’d left town?”

It took her a second to understand what her daughter was saying. Then she glanced back at the door, seeing Alison and a boy she’d never seen before. He was tall, lanky, cute—and holding Alison’s hand. Her granddaughter was dragging him right her way with a big smile pasted to her lips, and for a minute, she could hear nothing but the loud and long thump of her heart in her ears.

“Grandma, this is Brady,” Alison said, beaming. “Brady, this is my grandma.”

Iris could hear her kids talking behind her. The young man had familiar features, and as he held out his hand, all Iris could do was stare at her granddaughter, who was still holding his other hand. She saw how much Alison liked him, and in that moment, she realized that Raymond O’Connell, or whoever he really was, had just lied to her again.


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