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New Release

Get your next glimpse of THE FALLEN O’CONNELL!

 August 28, 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.

Get your next glimpse of THE FALLEN O'CONNELL!  Book 10 in The O'Connells series is on the way, but you can preview Chapter 3 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 3

Iris’s phone was buzzing, and she took in the caller ID, a private number. She considered it for only a second before answering as she pulled open the back door.

In the kitchen, Ryan was all smiles, a groom ready to marry his bride. Jenny was still upstairs, but the moment for her to come down was likely anytime. Iris had finally had to force herself away from Brady and Alison, realizing her granddaughter was head over heels for a young man it was impossible for her to have those feelings for.

“Hello?” was all she got out.

“Iris, it’s Raymond. I understand Ryan is getting married today, and I have to warn you that—”

“Brady’s here,” she said, cutting him off, feeling the bite in her words as she pulled the door closed behind her. “I presume that’s why you’re calling. Why are you still here? You told me you were leaving. This is my son’s wedding day. Do you have any idea what you’ve done, what you’re doing to those kids, my granddaughter…?”

Then she spotted him. He was walking up the side of the house just as she stepped around the corner. He looked way too good for a man she was furious with. He pulled his cell phone away from his ear and hung up.

She strode toward him, glancing at the side window of the dining room and hoping no one was looking out. “You can’t be here,” she whispered loudly. “Why are you here?”

He let his gaze linger for a moment on her before he reached for her arm and had her walking back into the yard, out of sight. She didn’t miss the way he glanced back over his shoulder, still holding her. She yanked her bare arm away, lifting her hands and brushing back strands of her dark hair from her forehead. It had been freshly cut at a salon in Bozeman, not a far drive, but at least no one had known who she was.

“I’m here because Brady refuses to listen,” he said. “I tried to leave, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He actually put his foot down because he wants roots all of a sudden.”

She just stared at him as if he’d lost his mind. “You had no trouble walking away from me and my children.”

“Our children,” he said.

She found herself pulling back further, not sure what to make of his expression. She thought she hissed, and she had to fist her hands. “You may have fathered them, but that’s all you did, Raymond. You left. Remember, you have a new life, a son with someone else—a son who’s here right now. Do you know my granddaughter has romantic notions about your son? I’ve never seen her so head over heels, and let me be really clear: This isn’t a childhood crush. Right now, they’re in there holding hands, and she’s probably looking for a way to sneak off with him to make out and do the kinds of things they can’t be doing, considering they’re related. Him being in there only confirms what I already suspected. Brady has no idea, because you didn’t tell him. Now, how do you think he’s going to react when he finds out? Alison is going to be devastated. You really have messed this up, Raymond, but then, isn’t that what you do?”

She’d expected something from him: anger, annoyance. She was holding nothing back, but there was no way she was using kid gloves now, considering her granddaughter was involved.

Raymond glanced into the distance and said nothing, then lifted his gaze over her head to the house. This man she’d thought she’d known well at one time was in fact a stranger she knew nothing about. Maybe that was why she felt the need to pull her arms over her chest. She shivered, welcoming the chill, then heard a car door in front and voices. It had to be Tyrell Green and his wife, who were saving their asses.

“You need to take him home now,” Iris started, but then, behind her, she heard the door slap closed.

“Hey, Mom, the Greens are here. I could…”

Iris turned to see Karen stepping out of the house. Her expression was amused as she made her way over.

“There you are,” Karen said. “I didn’t know you were out here talking with…”

She could feel the way Raymond gave everything to her, and her daughter suddenly hesitated. Maybe she had now realized or had some idea.

“Hello,” was all she said, and Iris couldn’t pull her gaze from her, seeing the way her brow knit as she took in the two of them as if trying to figure out a puzzle. Iris couldn’t get her tongue to move. She couldn’t get one word out of her mouth, which had suddenly gone so dry.

“You look gorgeous, Karen,” Raymond said. Now, why did he have to say that?

“I’m sorry, have we met?” Karen said.

Iris lifted her gaze to Raymond, wishing so many things, one of which was for him to leave before he could ruin Jenny and Ryan’s day.

“Mom, say something,” Karen said. “Who is this?”

Iris had to breathe, very aware that Raymond hadn’t pulled his gaze from Karen. She could see he wasn’t going to make this easy. “Someone who shouldn’t be here,” she finally said. “I’m sorry, Karen, but this is—”

“Dad…” Karen said. From the way she breathed his name out, Iris could feel her emotion, her heartache. She pressed her hand over her heart and didn’t pull her gaze from Raymond.

“Hi there, darlin’,” he said. Of course, she remembered what he’d called her, and she could feel her nails digging into her palms over the fondness in his voice.

“Look, he was just leaving,” she said quite abruptly. “He just needs to fix a situation here.”

Karen shook her head and then seemed to gather herself as she looked between her parents. “I thought you left,” she said. “I heard you were here. Luke and Marcus saw you. I just have so many questions to ask you, why you left, why you came back, why you’re here now…” She dragged her gaze over to Iris. “Did you know he was still here?” she said, sounding so accusatory.

“No, your mother didn’t know I was here,” Raymond said. “I just showed up because my son is here.”

Of course, Karen was confused. Iris could see it in her expression as she dragged her gaze back and forth between them. “Well, of course, all your sons are inside, and one of them is getting married today. Did you know about the wedding? Is that why you’re here?”

Raymond glanced over her head to the back door, and she hoped no one else would come out. “Only just found out, which is why I’m here—but I’m talking about my other son, who’s here right now but shouldn’t be.”

“Brady is who he’s talking about, Karen,” Iris finally said, cutting in, mainly because Karen was looking at this man as if considering inviting him in.

Karen glanced over to her so quickly. The shock, the horror, the alarm… Yeah, she could see the moment she got it. “Brady…Alison’s Brady, inside, is your son?” Her expression seemed completely rocked, her voice filled with the kind of passion only she had.

“Yes, afraid so,” Iris said. “Seems Brady is Raymond’s son, so you can see the problem, considering that makes him your half-brother, and neither he nor Alison has any idea.”

Karen hissed and pressed her hand over her chest again. “No…!” She whispered loudly, then pulled in another breath. “No, that’s not fair.”

“My thoughts exactly,” Iris said. “So now we need to get Brady out of that house and away from Alison. Raymond is having trouble leaving, as it seems his son also has feelings for Alison and is refusing to move. Raymond has never told him anything about us, or we wouldn’t be in the situation we are now.”

When Iris dragged her gaze back to Raymond, she could see he had a few things he likely wanted to say to her, by the way he stared at her long and hard. But then, she had no idea where exactly she and her children ranked against his other family, Brady.

“You seriously think he can just walk in and ask Brady to leave without everyone wondering why?” Karen said. “Then there’s Alison. There’s no way she’ll take that lying down. This just isn’t okay, another problem… How the hell are we going to fix this? Ryan and Jenny are getting married. This is their day and Alison’s. No, no, no…we’re not ruining this for them.” She lifted her hands and tapped her fingers to her forehead, just something she did when getting ready to really dig in her heels.

“No, I agree,” Iris said. “This is my son’s wedding day, and I will not have Alison upset right now.”

“I agree it’s not the right time,” Raymond replied, crossing his arms over his jacket. His dark jeans fit better than they should, she thought.

“So then you’ll leave, and we’ll make sure the kids don’t get a moment alone, and then…”

“No, I’ll stay,” Raymond said, cutting her off.

Karen was as thrown as she was, she thought, but Raymond kept glancing around. What the hell was he looking for? She found herself looking over her shoulder and then back to him.

“That’s impossible,” she said. “You can’t stay.”

Then the door squeaked open again, and this time she turned to see Alison in the doorway, looking out. “Grandma, the wedding’s going to start,” she called, then stopped and took in Raymond. “Oh, hey there, Ray. Didn’t know you were coming to my parents’ wedding. Brady didn’t say anything.”

Iris thought she made a strangled noise.

“Hi, Alison, great to see you,” Raymond said. He forced a smile that seemed far too relaxed, then gave everything to Iris. “Your grandma was just mentioning the wedding. Didn’t mean to intrude. I just had something important to discuss with Brady.”

“Oh, but the wedding is going to start,” Alison said. “You can stay. I’m sure my mom and dad would like to meet you. Grandma, Aunt Karen, Dad said to tell you to come in, because Mom’s ready to come down the stairs. Everyone else is in the living room.”

“Right,” Karen whispered to her and wrapped her hand around Iris’s arm.

“Okay, we’ll be right there,” Iris called.

As her granddaughter went back inside, Raymond dragged his hand over his face.

“You need to go,” she said quite forcefully, but all he did was shake his head.

“Unfortunately, I think it’s a little late for that,” he replied, then turned to Karen, who she knew was on the fence with all of this.

“Dad?” The door squeaked again. “What are you doing here?”

Okay, this really wasn’t the time. Iris could feel this spiraling into something way out of her control. Raymond lifted his gaze to Brady, who looked dashing. Seeing the two of them together, she could see the resemblance, and the resemblance to Luke, Marcus, Ryan, and Owen. How much longer before everyone else figured it out, too?

“I told your dad to stay for the wedding,” Alison said, appearing behind him. “Come on, Grandma…”

She felt Karen touch her arm, could feel the ground not quite as solid as it had been before. She glanced in horror at her daughter, who just patted her arm as she stood beside her.

“Maybe this won’t be as bad as you think,” Karen whispered, forcing a smile for Alison, who was still standing in the doorway with Brady. From the expression on her face, Iris knew her granddaughter was expecting some kind of disaster.

“Okay, let’s go in. Save me a seat,” she said to Alison as she headed up and reached for the open door, and Brady and Alison started into the house. She turned, taking in the horror that had crept back into Karen’s expression. Raymond was standing at the bottom of the porch steps. “Let me be very clear: You will not ruin my son’s wedding day. So help me… As soon as Ryan and Jenny are married, I want you out of here with Brady. Do I make myself clear?”

Karen said nothing as she stood between them, and Raymond’s eyes, the color she had always thought of as O’Connell blue, flickered with something she hadn’t seen in a long time.

As Karen slipped past her inside, she could hear voices, music. Raymond lifted his hand and reached for the door, holding it, angling his head and really looking long and hard at her. He was a man who didn’t cower under anyone.

“I hear you, Iris, but let me be very clear, as well: I’m not leaving here without Brady. I’m not here to ruin my son’s wedding, but if we keep standing out here, discussing this, who else do you think is going to come outside?”

She stepped in, feeling Raymond right behind her.

In the kitchen, the Greens were already cooking. She took in Tyrell, whose short dark hair was tinged with more white than she remembered. His wife was curvy, her dark hair pulled back, and she tossed an easy smile Iris’s way, with dimples in her plump dark cheeks, just as she put a large tin roaster covered with foil in the oven.

Iris dreaded what else was going to happen, so she turned to Raymond and said, “Help Tyrell in the kitchen. Stay out of sight. As soon as they’re married, I’ll send Brady in, and you figure out a way to get him out of here. Then you’ll both leave.” She kept her voice low and stood right in front of him, having to look way up.

All he did was look past her and jut his chin toward the living room. “You’d better go,” he said.

When she turned to see who he was looking at, she realized it was Marcus, standing there with Karen, and the expression on his face, the way he looked past her, straight at Raymond, was anything but friendly.


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