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Meg O’Banyon makes a mistake during her senior year in high school. She gets mixed up with football star Rowdy Rod Owens, and after one night of foolish passion, Rod, on his way to serve Uncle Sam, leaves her with a gift…one she knows her father will never approve of. Fearing his drunken rage, Meg flees on a Greyhound Bus with only twenty dollars in her pocket and a baby in her belly. Meg has struggled for ten years to keep food on the table for her and her daughter, Emma, and up until now has done okay. A visit to the doctor is about to change all that.
When she gets the news of her father’s death, Meg uses it as an opportunity to secure a future for Emma in case things don’t turn out as she hopes. As if dealing with her current burden isn’t enough, the sudden return of Rod Owens from Afghanistan sends Meg into a panic. She’s never told him about Emma.
Rod Owens is a jock with a passion for his country. Wanting to serve from the time he could carry a toy rifle, he dreams of an Army career. After being injured and released from the only career he’s ever known, Rod returns home to more than one surprise. The woman who’s haunted his dreams for years suddenly confronts him with two heart wrenching secrets. Rod must now determine if he can overcome the hurt and betrayal and fight for what he loves most.
Book two of the Saving Shenanigans series allows you to witness the strength and determination of the second O’Banyon sister, Meg, as she comes to terms with the secrets of her past, battles to survive a difficult present, and struggles to secure a hopeful future. Meg’s story is also an empowering one as she gains control of the “silent killer” Ovarian Cancer. All she needs now is the support of her family and the love of a good man...her man.
Read the first chapter here for free!
Meg rocked on the front porch swing late in the evening, the cool end of summer air swirling around her. She shivered, but not because of the breeze.
Mara, her sister, stepped outside carrying two wine glasses.
“Emma’s asleep, finally.” She handed Meg a glass of Merlot.
“Thanks. I’m bushed.”
“It’s been a long day. How you holding up?”
She nodded. “The pain’s tolerable.” Since contracting ovarian cancer, Meg struggled with daily abdominal pain. For a long while she didn’t even know what was wrong, attributing it to indigestion, or maybe even her gall bladder.
One of the reasons why this damn disease is called the silent killer.
She sighed. Now was not the time to dwell on her own problems. She had enough of that facing her in the immediate future. Her family needed her full attention right now. “I’m worried about Mabe,” she said, suddenly changing the subject.
Mara smiled. “Our sister’s tough. It’ll take more than a concussion to keep her down. Aaron took care of Toreni, so that’s done. Now we can keep Shenanigans, such that it is.”
“True. Boy, Aaron sure turned out to be a true blessing. I’m glad that mobster’s paid off, but Mabe won’t be happy once she finds out what Aaron’s done.”
Mara raised her wine glass in a mock toast. “From the lip lock I saw between them tonight? I think she’ll be okay.”
Meg raised an eyebrow. “Really? That’s awesome. She deserves some happiness.”
“I tried not to eavesdrop, but I was standing outside the door. I think I heard him ask her to marry him,” Mara remarked, raising her goblet again.
Meg clinked her glass to her sister’s, grinning. “Nuh uh...really? I’m so happy for her. I guess I was wrong about him.”
Meg nodded and glanced out into the night. She sensed her sister’s gaze. “What are you staring at?”
“You’ve not been yourself all day. What’s up?”
She frowned, pinching her nose with her fingers. What’s up, she asks? What’s up is I’m a liar. How do I tell my daughter Rod is her father? How do I tell him he has a daughter? What a mess.
She sighed. “I saw Rod a few days ago.”
“What?” Mara twisted in her chair to face her sister. “What the hell is wrong with you? Why didn’t you say something sooner?”
“Uh, because we’ve been a little pre-occupied.”
Mara shoved her over and squeezed in next to her on the swing. “Okay, spill it.”
Meg’s eyes moistened. She swiped fiercely at her cheeks. There’d been too many tears lately. She explained how she’d seen Rod at Shenanigans when she’d stopped there with Emma.
“Oh, wow. I bet you nearly crapped your pants.”
She faced her sister. “Ya think?” She echoed Mara’s earlier statement, then laughed bitterly.
“What’s he doing back?”
“War injury. Wounded leg.” Meg shifted on the swing. “I felt so bad for him. The Army was all he ever dreamed of. I guess that’s over now.”
“Did he say what happened?”
She nodded. “He said he took some shrapnel from a car bomb. I didn’t know what to say, Mara. I was completely dumbfounded.”
“I’m sure. Did he see Emma in the car?” Mara wrapped an arm around her sister.
Emotion overwhelmed her again. “Of course,” she choked out, dragging a tissue from her skirt pocket. “What am I going to do? I know I was wrong not to tell him about Emma, but I thought it wouldn’t matter. I never expected to see him again.”
Mara sighed and sipped her wine, pushing the swing with her foot. Meg rested her head on her sister’s shoulder.
“Do you think he suspected?”
She rolled her head side to side. “Nah...I doubt it. We were only with him a few minutes. He looked into the car, spoke to her. I introduced him as my friend, Mr. Owens.”
Mara rested her head on the back of the swing, gazed up at the ceiling. “You’re going to have to tell him.”
Meg cried into her tissue. “I know.”
“Tell who what?” The man’s voice came out of the dark.
Meg jerked so suddenly her head collided with her sister’s chin.
“Ow,” Mara exclaimed, rubbing her injured jaw. She twisted to see Rod standing on the sidewalk.
“Is this a bad time? Not too late is it?”
“You just scared the shit out of Meg,” Mara grumbled.
“I’m sorry.” He chuckled. “I didn’t mean to scare you. I was so surprised to see you in town the other day, Meg. I’ve been meaning to stop by before now, but I figured y’all might be a little busy.” He glanced at his watch. “I was out walking and heard you ladies talking so I thought I’d drop by. I guess I really should’ve considered the time.”
“Nonsense,” Mara told him. “Come on up.”
He hobbled over, parking his hip on the edge of the porch. Meg gripped her sister’s hand. Her heart warmed at the reassuring squeeze she received in return. How in the hell did I ever get myself into this mess? Who’d have believed he would have come home to Monticello? What are the odds?
She glanced at her sister, who got the signal.
“I’m going to go put some ice on my jaw. You kids have fun catching up.”
“Good to see you again, Mara,” he said. “Hope to see you around town.”
She nodded and gave him a finger wave before going inside. The screen door slapped shut behind her.
Meg couldn’t remember feeling more awkward. With her sister gone, she was left on her own to face this man she’d once loved. A man she’d have given her heart and soul to. A man she had a daughter with. Oh, God. She thought back to their high school prom night and smiled.
“You just drifted back to our high school days, didn’t you? I saw it in your eyes.”
She glanced at the handsome man in front of her. He wore jeans and an avocado green T-shirt with the words Go Army in white letters. His blond hair was longer than she remembered. He’d always worn a buzz cut for football season, but even after that, he’d never let it curl over his collar. She liked it. His eyes were the kind of blue that changed hue depending on what he wore. Tonight they were a deep blue-green, like the ocean.
“I must have been the only girl home by midnight on prom night,” she commented, still smiling.
Rod whistled. “Yeah, boy. Your father put the fear of God in me. I’m sorry for your loss, by the way.”
She glanced away from his handsome face out into the yard. “Thanks.”
“Can you come down here, sit by me?”
She swiveled her head back to face him, her heart racing. Getting close to a man she’d once loved so openly was not a good idea—especially when she had news that would rock his world.
He patted the thigh of his right leg. “I’m still having a hard time negotiating steps.”
Guilt swept through her. Jeez, how selfish can I be? This wonderful man was injured doing God knows what in Afghanistan. The least I can do is sit with him for a minute.
She joined him on the edge of the porch. “Does your leg hurt much?”
“Only when I move,” he quipped, the edges of his mouth curving into the sexy half-smile she remembered so well.
“I’m so sorry you were hurt. You think you’ll make a full recovery?”
He sighed, tapping his cane on the ground. “This is as good as it gets, I’m afraid. I may get a little more mobility back if I keep exercising, but I’m stuck with my metal buddy here.
Her glance swept from his cane to his strong rugged face. “That sucks.”
He reached for her hand. It was like grasping a bear paw, large and warm. “Where did you disappear to, Meg?” He leaned the cane against the wooden decking to grab her other hand, twisting to face her. “Your father came storming into my house just before I left for boot camp, demanding to know where you were. I was as shocked as anyone to learn you’d run away. I had to leave worried sick something had happened to you.”
She sucked in a breath. He really cared about me. The shock of that revelation set her back. She knew how she felt about him, but never realized the depth of his feelings for her. She was pregnant, so she ran. She was afraid of her father’s reaction, sure, but she also loved Rod enough not to ruin his future. Was that fair? Now she didn’t think so, but at the time she was a scared young girl.
He surprised her when he touched her face. “After Mom wrote and told me Mabe knew you were safe, I stopped worrying as much, but Meg…” He slipped his hand behind her neck, edging her closer.
Her pulse raced, her palms beaded with sweat. Oh God. I should stop this.
“I can’t tell you how glad I was when you said you weren’t married that day I saw you at Shenanigans. You had a daughter, so I automatically thought...”
Oh shit...Don’t go there...please.
“You were all I thought about.”
Meg blinked. The conversation took a completely different direction than she was expecting. She held her breath, listening to this man whom she’d once loved so passionately.
“It was your face I dreamed of at night. You were the reason I fought so hard to live after the bombing. I told myself if I could get back to the states, I’d do whatever it took to find you. And here you are.”
She exhaled, her heart warming to his words, but her brain set off wild warning bells in her head. In the past she’d wanted to hear those words, to know how he’d felt about her. But now...things were so different.
Rod held her gaze, his soft blue eyes staring straight into her soul. He leaned in, capturing her lips in a soft gentle kiss.