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.
Here's your final peek at my upcoming release! THE FALLEN O'CONNELL will be released tomorrow, but here's an exclusive look at Chapter 5!
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:
It had been a really long day. Alison had cried her eyes out, and the wedding had been somewhat subdued after Raymond and Brady’s hasty departure. The food Tyrell and Michelle had cooked up had been amazing, though Iris had spent what should have been an enjoyable feast picking at her food and sitting with her granddaughter, who was nursing a broken heart.
She stood with her, her arm around her shoulders, after Ryan told her who Raymond and Brady really were. She’d been unable to answer the one question Alison had asked her while everyone was eating: Why was Raymond there now with Brady, anyway, if he’d walked away all those years ago? Why had he come back?
The fact was that he lived not even a block away and had been there for months. Even Iris had to wonder what that was about. Despite everything she didn’t know about Raymond, she did know when something was up.
It seemed her granddaughter knew more than she did, yet all Iris could do as she sat with her and swallowed her own misery was tell her she had no idea what went on in the mind of Raymond O’Connell or why he did the things he did.
Her heart went out to Brady, too, who hadn’t chosen any of this. She couldn’t help wondering who his mother was, the other woman—and there it was, another moment of fury and jealousy she’d never expected to feel.
“Well, that was just a shit-kicker of a day, wasn’t it?” Luke said as he came into the kitchen, where she’d just filled the kettle and plugged it in. It was nearly midnight, and it was pitch black outside. She should get some sleep, but she was too unsettled and needed some time to quiet her thoughts before bed.
She lifted her hand, taking in Luke as he pulled at his tie. Her heels had been dumped at the door, so she wore just her stockings on the cold floor. She wasn’t sure what it was about him that was different. Maybe she expected him to be as angry as Marcus and Ryan or even Owen, who hadn’t wanted to have a conversation about his dad. Suzanne and Karen, too, had been in a constant huddle, likely talking about Raymond in ways she would rather not know.
“I would say I’m sorry, but I had no idea he was still in town,” Iris said. “He told me very clearly that he was leaving.”
Luke leaned against the island, his brow furrowed. He wasn’t smiling. “You talked to him and saw him before today?”
She inhaled. Right, she hadn’t told her kids about that night he’d shown up in the backyard in the dark while she was home alone. “Once,” she said. “He showed up the night after the charges were dropped, when you were at Ryan’s. I’m not sure why he came by, maybe to say goodbye, to say he was sorry. I have no idea, Luke, but he told me then about Brady. I was so furious at what he’d done. So yes, I knew, but I never expected this to happen. He was supposed to leave. When I saw Brady today at Ryan’s, and I saw that Alison had invited him as her date, I swear I wanted to kill your father for a moment. I knew Brady didn’t know. Today was unavoidable, but it seems that with Raymond, there’s a trail of repercussions, of lives destroyed. At least it’s out in the open now, and maybe he’ll leave us, and we can get back to…” She paused. Back to what? “I suppose whatever our new normal is,” she finished, then gestured as the kettle whistled. She pulled the plug.
Just then, there was a knock at the door.
“You expecting someone?” she said to Luke, who instantly went on alert, pushing his hand out to her.
“Stay here,” he said and walked into the living room.
She realized he had a gun in his hand. Geez, had he been carrying it all day? He flicked on the outside light and then let out a breath, and she didn’t miss the way he relaxed. She strode into the living room carefully, her hand on her chest.
“It’s Brady,” he tossed out over his shoulder after tucking his gun in the waistband of the back of his dress pants. As he pulled open the door, she took in the young man standing there, still in his dress pants and nice shirt, with no coat. He looked cold and miserable.
“I’m sorry to just show up here,” Brady said.
“Nonsense. Come on in,” Luke replied.
Iris took in the tall gangly boy, whom she could see Luke was trying to make sense of. “You have no coat?” she said. “It’s freezing out there. Where’s your dad?”
Brady stood so awkwardly in the entryway, and she thought for a moment that he was too embarrassed to look at her. “I didn’t know where to go. I remembered Alison showing me that her grandma lived here. I thought it would be okay if I stopped by?” His hands were in his pockets, and she thought he was shivering. As he stepped down into the living room, she could see by his face that he’d been crying. Maybe he was waiting for her to tell him to leave.
“You know what, Brady? Come on in,” she said. “You look cold. Luke, can you grab a sweater for Brady?”
Luke pulled a hoodie from the closet and strode down and handed it to him. Brady shrugged it on.
Iris lifted her gaze to her son, unsure of what to do. “Come on, Brady, sit down. Does your dad know where you are?” She rested her hand over his shoulder, rubbing it.
He sat on the sofa, hunched over, and shook his head. He put his hand over his face for a second and then pulled it away. There was such misery there, and she took in his eyes, not the same O’Connell blue as her children’s.
“No, I don’t want to talk to him,” he said. “I’m so angry at him. How could he have lied to me? I really liked Alison, and now I don’t know what to feel. I didn’t know he had a family before me. He just told me today that he walked away from you all eighteen years ago. Did he do it because of me? I never knew any of this. I’m almost eighteen. That’s all I can think of…”
Okay, this wasn’t good. She sat down on the sofa beside him and reached over, then gently squeezed his arm. It was the only thing she could think of doing. “Look, this is kind of a mess, this situation, but this isn’t your fault. At the same time, you have to call your dad and tell him you’re here. He has to be worried.”
“My mom’s right,” Luke said. “Look, kid, it’s a shitty situation, but how about you give me your dad’s number, and I’ll call him and tell him you’re here, and then everyone can stop worrying?”
From the way Brady looked up to Luke, she didn’t think he’d tell him. “So you’re my brother,” was all he said. Iris looked over to Luke and wasn’t sure if there was amusement behind the way he winced.
“It seems I am, kid,” Luke said. She knew he was waiting as he pulled out his cell phone.
Brady dragged his gaze over to her. “And you were married to my dad?”
Wow, that was a question she didn’t know how to answer, considering she gathered Brady knew nothing about his dad’s exploits or who he really was. She suspected Raymond had kept many other secrets.
“Yes, and he left one night, walked out on us,” she said, and the boy just nodded. “But that’s between your dad and me. It has nothing to do with you.”
Brady shrugged and then gestured toward her. “How can you say that? You should be angry with me. You have every right to be angry with me. So, my mom, did you know her?”
The way he said it had her shaking her head and then looking up to Luke, who was watching the boy in a way that seemed conflicted.
“I’m sorry, but I didn’t,” Iris said. “In fact, I didn’t know about you. This has been a big surprise for all of us.”
“Come on, kid,” Luke said. “What’s Raymond’s number? No matter how angry you are at him, I need to call him and tell him you’re all right.”
She found herself looking from Luke to Brady, trying to pick out the similarities. The way he was sitting, she thought, was like Marcus. There was so much of her kids that she could see in him. Brady just lifted his gaze to Luke with that pure stubbornness she was familiar with.
“Brady, come on,” she said. “Luke is right. It doesn’t matter how angry you are with your dad. There’s nothing worse than not knowing where your kid is. I would know; I raised six, with all the problems that go with them, all the attitudes and arguments and taking off and worries. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t care. We all make mistakes, but he’s still your dad, and—”
“And, what, I have to forgive him?” he snapped, cutting her off.
Luke stepped forward. “Hey, enough, Brady,” he said, gesturing toward him so sharply and matter of factly. “I get that you’re angry, and you have every right, but maybe one day you will forgive him. You need to remember something. Whatever happened, let me ask you this: Has there ever been a time that your dad hasn’t been there for you?”
She wasn’t sure Brady was ready to listen or that he was going to answer. He looked down at his lap, and for a minute, she thought he was slipping into that mute, stubborn, silent teenage mood. What the hell was she supposed to do?
“Brady, come on,” she said. “Give your dad’s number to Luke so he can tell him you’re okay. You have to be hungry. I’ll make you a sandwich, and we’ll talk.”
And then Raymond could pick him up, take him home, and straighten out this mess.
This time, when Brady looked over to her, she saw the same O’Connell stubbornness that Luke and Suzanne had, the way his mouth went tight. He stared up at Luke. “All right, you can tell him I’m okay, but that’s all.”
Iris hadn’t realized she’d been holding her breath, and as she let it go, it sounded too much like relief.
Then Brady pulled his gaze from Luke, giving everything to her, and said, “But you can also tell him I’m not coming home.”
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