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.
THE FALLEN O'CONNELL will be released in two days, but you can read Chapter 4 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:
“Just so you know, we like these folks,” said Tyrell Green’s wife, Michelle, as she stepped over to Raymond, who had offered to help by shucking corn from, evidently, a late fall harvest. “Karen is a saint. If it hadn’t been for her, our son would be in a supermax in another state, and we’d never get to see him. He’d be doing more time than he is.”
There was just something about the way she said it, the way she looked at him. He realized she was giving him a warning, even though he knew she had no idea who he was.
“So Karen was your son’s lawyer?” he said, though he suspected there was more to the story.
He could hear the wedding in the next room, and he didn’t think he’d ever forget the way Marcus and Karen had stood in that hallway, staring him down as they waited for Iris to walk into the living room. It was as if they thought he was there to ruin something, which was the one thing he wasn’t about to do.
There was just something about being here, knowing all his kids were under this roof at the same time. He could feel everything he’d firmly held in his control slipping, and that was something he never allowed to happen.
“Karen took on his case when no one else would,” Michelle said. “She didn’t take much, either, though we gave her all we could. She’s still fighting for him, too. When she called because Jolene Harris screwed them over after promising to cater this, we closed up the diner and came, because that’s what you do for people you care about.”
By the way she said it, he figured she wasn’t done making her point, but he took some comfort in knowing that there were people in this town who had his kids’ backs. “What, you mean another caterer was supposed to be here and canceled?”
Tyrell cleared his throat, pouring marinade over potatoes that had been cut up in a roasting pan, then covered it with tinfoil. “Michelle, it don’t matter what happened, so let’s not talk badly about folks,” he said.
Michelle’s expression turned heated, and she rested her hands on her hips, giving him everything. “It does matter! The folks here treated this family horrible, and you even said that we should reach out and see if we could do something for them. When Karen called, we dropped everything to come. You and I both know that Jolene Harris is a loud, mouthy bitch who has trash-talked this family. She should be ashamed of what she did. Yes, she was supposed to be here, catering Ryan’s wedding. Iris paid her, from what Karen said, and it sounds like she had no intention of even showing up. I’ve seen a lot of nastiness from people, growing up. Some people do it because they think someone’s done something to deserve it, but we know, from going through what we did with Lawrence, seeing people we knew turn on us… We understand how friends disappear and suddenly see you as guilty even though you didn’t do anything.”
Raymond sensed this woman could go on and on, and he continued to shuck the corn in the sink.
“Michelle, put the potatoes in the oven and check the ribs,” Tyrell said, interrupting. “We need to get the slaw done, and those meatballs, did you get them on yet?”
“Oh, I put them on in the slow cooker…” She started across the kitchen to the table, where the slow cooker was plugged in along with another heated serving dish, alongside some bottles of liquor.
“Don’t pay Michelle no mind,” Tyrell said. “She’s just in the O’Connells’ corner. You know, when Lawrence went away, it was Iris who showed up on our doorstep with a casserole. Didn’t expect it, but she just wanted us to know there were people in our corner, too. We never forgot that. He was arrested over in Bozeman. Even Marcus tried to step in for him. Lawrence was in the wrong place at the wrong time, you know. Not that this is any of my business, but I seen the way Marcus looked at you, not too friendly. So thank you for helping, but if you’re thinking of causing any problems here, don’t.”
Okay, he’d been duly warned.
He could hear laughter and cheering and knew that his son was now married. Though he’d stayed out of sight and out of the way, he wished he could’ve watched. He wiped his hands and took in his jacket, which was resting over the back of the chair, then glanced back over to Tyrell, who was a few inches shorter than him, staring at him with those dark eyes, as if he knew his secrets.
“Sounds like they’re married now,” Raymond said, stepping away from the sink. “In case I didn’t say it, thank you for showing up. I think now would be a good time for me to grab my son and slip out.”
Tyrell nodded, then stepped in to finishing shucking the rest of the corn.
Raymond reached for his coat, but just then, he spotted Owen and a gorgeous blonde, whom he knew had to be Tessa, coming his way. Owen said something to her, and she hung back as Owen strode right over to him. The way his firstborn looked at him was anything but friendly.
“Just what the hell are you doing here?” Owen said. “I can’t believe you had the nerve to show up.” His voice was low, and he pulled his hand over the back of his dark hair, which had the same slight wave it had always had. He was tall, just like Raymond. All his boys were. He spotted Brady with Alison, lingering, laughing, talking, and there was Iris, watching them closely.
“Didn’t have a choice,” Raymond said. “Did you talk to your mother?”
Owen glanced over his shoulder, and he spotted Marcus coming their way, and Luke too. Everyone was dressed to the nines. Great, it seemed he was about to be cornered, and the possibility of slipping out quietly was slipping away.
“What is this about?” Owen said. “Why don’t you just tell me what’s going on? So Mom knows you’re here and she just let you stay?”
Marcus and Luke were right there now, and Raymond just nodded to them, never expecting this kind of hate to be staring back at him from his kids. He wished it could be so different.
“Why are you still here?” Marcus said. “You were leaving town, remember?”
Luke said nothing, just studying him as if he were a puzzle he needed to figure out.
“I’m here for my son, who insisted on coming,” Raymond said. “The plan was to leave, but Brady wouldn’t agree.”
Ryan was there in the background, and Jenny, his bride in a white dress, and Alison, who seemed over the moon. He knew the minute Ryan saw him.
“Brady is your son?” Luke said in a low voice. “Right, of course he is. Wow, you really screwed the pooch big time on this one, Pops. He’s here with our Alison, so you’re going to destroy two more kids’ lives.”
Ryan stepped over. The expression on his face was murderous, and could he blame him? No.
“Congratulations, Ryan,” he forced himself to say.
He expected his son to yell at him to get out, but Ryan only nodded.
In the living room, Brady was lingering, and Raymond knew he was starting to pick up on something. He didn’t remember ever seeing him appear so confused, but he didn’t have a clue how to get him out of this house without telling him the truth, because he had to be wondering now. Raymond would be left with no choice but to tell him why nothing could ever happen between him and Alison, and then Brady would be angry—no, furious.
“This is my wedding day,” Ryan said. “I can’t believe you’d show up here. Why? No, don’t say it. I know why. Brady is your son, right? You didn’t even think of what this would do.”
Raymond pulled in a breath and crossed his arms over his chest. “I need to have a word with Brady, Ryan, and then we’ll be out of here. Again, I’m sorry. You have no idea how sorry I am.”
It was Luke who stepped back and walked over to Brady. Whatever he said to him had him walking over, and the expression on his face was one Raymond had never seen before.
“Dad, what the hell are you doing here?” Brady said. “Mr. O’Connell, I’m so sorry for this…”
Ryan only rested his hand on Brady’s shoulder and said, “Don’t worry about it, Brady. You need to go talk to your dad.” Then he patted his shoulder again and stepped away.
Raymond gestured to the back door, then pulled it open, because this conversation was one he wasn’t going to have in front of everyone.
Brady glanced back and called out, “Alison, I’ll be right back.”
Raymond looked over to a family he was trying to figure out how to make things right with, and he saw a girl who was about to be devastated because of this secret he’d kept. His granddaughter. He fought the urge to say he was sorry.
As they stepped out, Tyrell looked over to him, and for just that one moment, Raymond swore the man knew exactly who he was and what he was about to do. He forced himself to pull the door closed behind them.
Brady turned on him. “Seriously, Dad, this is too much. You can’t just show up here like this. This is Alison’s parents’ wedding. You’re interfering with their day and mine. Is this because I’ve stood my ground and won’t leave? Like, are you seriously trying to ruin my life?”
He lifted his hand to calm his son, who had every right to be angry and was going to be a whole lot more. “No, the last thing I want to do is ruin your life,” he said. “It’s quite the opposite. I’m here so you won’t ruin your life and do something stupid because of something I should have told you.”
Brady dragged both his hands over his head in the way he did when he was frustrated. Raymond remembered it was something Owen had done, too, when he was young. Why he thought of that now, he didn’t know.
“This is about Alison again?” Brady said. “I cannot believe you, Dad. You have no say in who I date or see, and you don’t get an opinion on Alison—”
“She’s my granddaughter,” Raymond said, cutting him off. He couldn’t figure out how to explain this, so he went right to ripping the bandage off. There was no way to tell him nicely.
“Excuse me?” Brady said, and Raymond wasn’t sure whether his expression was shock or if he actually hadn’t heard him.
“Eighteen years ago, I had another family,” Raymond said. “I walked away from them, and I never told you about them. I had a wife and six kids, whom you’ve just met. I never planned on telling you, and I wish now I had, because the last thing I ever wanted was to see the hurt I can see now in you. That’s why I pushed. That’s why I wanted to leave. It’s not because I didn’t like Alison; it’s because she’s family. Ryan, Marcus, Luke, and Owen are your brothers, and Karen and Suzanne are your sisters.”
Brady just stood there.
“I’m so sorry,” Raymond finally said. “Say something.”
Brady opened his mouth to reply, but nothing came out. He dropped his gaze to the ground, and it seemed as if time stood still. When he slowly lifted his gaze back up to him, staring at him, it was with an expression he’d never expected to see on his son’s face. Instead of saying anything, Brady started to walk away. Raymond reached for his arm only to have Brady snatch it away as if he were going to hit him.
“Brady!” he called out.
“No! Stay the fuck away from me. Are you kidding? How could you do this to me? Just stay away from me, because right now, I hate you.”
Instead of going back into the house, Brady started running around front to the sidewalk, and then he was gone up the street. Raymond figured he’d find him locked in his room at home.
When he looked to the back door, feeling like the worst person ever, he spotted Ryan stepping out of the house and walking his way.
“I’m so sorry, Ryan, for bringing this here, for ruining this day for you,” he said.
“Stop,” Ryan said, sounding so calm, though there was an edge to his voice. “You ruined our lives years ago. But this… Just go, please.”
Instead of saying anything else or apologizing to a son who would likely never forgive him, Raymond only nodded. The O’Connells would never be part of his life again.
He shoved his hands in his pockets and started walking, and this time, he didn’t look back.
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Download your FREE copy of ONE NIGHT (Kate & Walker, Book 1) here.
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