I hope you've taken the time to listen to book one, LOVE & REDEMPTION, in audiobook. It's a really fantastic narration by Emma Wallace. You'll find it for sale at Audible, Amazon, and itunes. And here's a real treat ... Want to listen to it in it's entirety for FREE? Send me a note. Use the email form in the right-hand column on the blog.
He felt around in the icebox, and she traced the twist and turn of his trim waist, the lift of his muscled arms, desire spiraling in her gut. Age had improved him and that made seeing him much harder.
When Michael O’Fallen walked out of Amber’s life, she never got over it. Now, things around her are falling apart, and she’s tired of living the way she has.
There is nowhere else to run—but into his arms. Or so she thought. Yet he has a wife and a child he adores, and a best friend unlike anyone she’s ever known.
How does she fit in? Can she forget her past? And what of the secret she carries that might destroy them all?
You can read the Prologue through Scene 1 of Chapter 2 in the preview at Amazon. This scene picks up where that leaves off. Patrick Finnegan, Michael O'Fallen's employer and friend, is contemplating Amber Dawes arrival from his place in the church pew, and the turmoil in the household has already begun.
The slats of the pew bore down uncomfortably on Patrick’s back, yet the discomfort seemed minor against his turmoil within.
Grace had taken to Amber, which was good. But it was also unusual. She’d not made any attempt to ask about other children her age since coming to live here, nor had she spoken much about her father’s absence. She’d shown no particular interest in Anne, though she was enamored of the baby. Yet with one conversation, she’d already come further out of her shell than he’d seen.
Admit it. That’s not what’s agitating you.
No, it wasn’t. He rubbed his forehead with his thumb. It was his attraction to Amber.
She was uncommonly beautiful. Not that it was wrong for him to notice. No man in his right mind could ignore that. But she stirred him physically, and he was unprepared for that. She wore her beauty like a cloak, hiding behind her sexuality as a means to an end.
Given that, what had she come here expecting to find? Obviously not Michael being married. That hadn’t stopped her from practically falling at his feet. She was used to getting her way where men were concerned, and he feared she’d met a brick wall with Michael O’Fallen.
The pew creaked with Michael’s weight, and Patrick looked up from his reverie.
“A penny for your thoughts,” Michael said to Anne. His eyes danced, a sign he was up to something.
She offered him a faltering smile. “You haven’t enough pennies.”
This only made him tease her more. “Aye?”
“Aye.” She returned the word to him in a wobbly Irish burr.
“Well, for wan penny den.”
Patrick smiled. Michael’s Irish accent always broadened when he tried to make her laugh, but she held stalwart this time.
“One penny won’t get you much,” Anne replied.
Michael wrapped an arm about her, walking his fingers down her arm. She shrugged him off.
“I’m thinking you don’t know the effect you have on the female population.”
His mirth ceased. “Anne, I …”
Patrick glanced away. He knew exactly what female she referred to, and given her present effect on himself, could only imagine her effect on Anne. It’s not every day another woman shows up looking for your husband.
“Mr. O’Fallen, if I might have a word with you?” A heavyset man wearing a too-tight cravat poised before them. A gold watch-chain extended over his rather round belly and into a pocket in his red brocade vest. He rubbed his midriff.
“Of course, Mr. Compton,” Michael replied. He rose from the pew with a halting glance at his wife, who stared back, her gaze distant.
“I can’t tell him that,” Anne mumbled several minutes later.
Patrick coughed gently into his hand. She clearly hadn’t meant him to overhear her. “Anne? Are you all right?”
She faced him. “You remember the story Michael told you about New York?”
This reference surprised him. They’d talked about Michael’s past ages ago when the pair of them had first come to live with him. Michael had killed someone there in defense of a girl. A weird twist came to his gut, and she confirmed it.
“The girl Michael fought for is Amber.”
What else was there to say? It explained so much—why she’d come looking for Michael, why she knew the power of her femininity.
“That does make this difficult. Doesn’t it?” he replied.
Difficult for her. Difficult for Michael.
“She’s in love with him.” Her voice showed her pain. She was struggling, and Michael wasn’t making it any easier.
He’d learned a lot about Michael O’Fallen in their last year together. Things always took on one of two formats with him. They were either dire emergencies he had to overcome immediately, or a big joke. And he suspected this was the latter. At least, until a few moments ago.
“Look,” Anne said. “Amber didn’t know about me before she came here. Right? She was surprised to find he was married.”
“So what did she want from him?”
Good question. What did she want? Shelter and safety? Was that all this was? Amber’s words returned to his thinking. I used to practically beg him to—
His cheeks warmed. Oh, goodness gracious. She’d wanted … wanted …
He looked down at his lap to avoid Anne’s gaze. She had obviously figured this out on her own, but he wouldn’t be the one to confirm it. Nor would he allow her to see the image now flashing in his head.
How would he ever manage to concentrate on the service?
Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.