Weekend Excerpt–Resisting Risk

Whiskey glass tumbler standing on bar counterResisting Risk is the first installment of three in the Rannigan’s Redemption series.  In Book 1, as Michael Rannigan and Maggie Flynn attempt to navigate the mutual attraction that they resist, they find their footing as friends.  Here’s an excerpt.

Maggie went out with Joe several times over the next few months, sometimes to a movie or to dinner, but it always seemed to Maggie that it was just an excuse for them to get together to have sex.  She knew she didn’t love him, wasn’t really attracted to him beyond the physical if she was perfectly honest, but she rationalized it to herself.  If it’s good enough for Michael… 

It was mid-April when she realized that it had been a while since Joe had called.  I haven’t heard from him in about a month, she mused.  She didn’t waste time or energy worrying about it.  He’s probably busy with school.

One Saturday morning, she and Michael met at the office to get some work done, prepping for a case that would be in court on Monday.  When they finished, he offered to take her to lunch.

As they made their way down the street that mild spring day, they came face to face with Joe, who couldn’t have looked more surprised.

“Hello!” Maggie greeted him.  “How are you?  You remember Michael?”

The color drained from the teacher’s face and his eyes widened.  “Uh, yes, of course.  How are you?”  He turned to a petite brunette woman at his side.  “Honey, this is Michael Rannigan, that lawyer I told you about.  Please meet my wife, Amy.”

Michael glanced at Maggie, who had yet to respond. He offered his hand.  “Good to see you again, nice to meet you, Amy.  And you know Maggie, of course.”

“Uh, yeah, she came to the school with you,” Joe said.  He desperately eyed Maggie, begging her to play along.

She wasn’t having it.  Eyes narrowed, she shook her head and said, “No, I’d swear I’ve seen you someplace besides the school.”

Joe stood with his mouth hanging open.  Michael jumped in.  “You know, Maggie, I think we might have seen him at Doc Watson’s.”  He gave a satisfied smile.  “I’m sure that’s it.  You were at Doc Watson’s.”

“I might have been, I’m not sure.  If you’ll excuse us, we’re running late,” Joe mumbled hurriedly.  “It was good seeing you again, Michael, Mary.”

Maggie and Michael stood watching as the couple hurried down the street, and they heard Amy saying to Joe, “We aren’t late, what are you talking about?”

Michael turned to Maggie.  “Wow.  How about a drink instead of lunch?”

They crossed the street and entered a dark pub, snagging two stools at the far end of the bar.  Michael ordered bourbon for both of them.  Maggie was silent, contemplating the contents of her glass and for a while, Michael left her to her thoughts, toying with his glass, making a pattern of condensation rings on the bar.

Eventually he tried, “You know, Mags, I never thought that guy…”

She held up a finger in warning. “Michael, don’t.”  She shook her head in disgust.  “He fucking called me Mary.

“Well, technically…” he began, but she silenced him with a look before she tossed back her bourbon.  Michael discreetly ordered a double for the next round.  She drained that one and he ordered her a third as he sipped his original glass and added to his pattern of rings.

When she finally spoke it surprised him.  “You know, it’s not like I was in love with him.  Which makes my reaction to this so…so stupid.”

He smiled at her sympathetically.  “We had a good time and all.  But mainly it was just sex.”

She glanced up at him, wondering if he’d be shocked.  He didn’t seem to be.  “Believe me, if I had known he was married, I would never have gone out with him.  I don’t do that.”

Michael looked down at the pattern he’d made on the bar.  “You know there’s no judgement here.  Go out with a married guy, go out with a single guy, what do I care?”  He grinned ruefully.  “Hell, I’ve been known to go out with a married woman now and again.”

“Oh, great!  Now I’m you!” Maggie laughed humorlessly.

“Ouch!” Michael laughed as her fourth bourbon was delivered.

She looked up at him, green eyes glinting with pain.  “I just hate feeling stupid,” she said quietly.

“I get it, Mags, believe me.”  He looked down, fidgeting restlessly with his glass again.  “I was dumped by a woman not too long ago.  She said that she couldn’t see me anymore, she was getting married.”

He looked up at Maggie.  “It shocked the shit out of me.  Out of the blue, she was inviting me to her fucking wedding.”  He shook his head.  “I really miss her, too.  I kept thinking, How did I not see that coming?  Feeling stupid sucks.  You know you’re not stupid, right?”

“I seriously question my judgement when it comes to men,” she replied, slurring slightly.  She regarded him for a moment and raised her glass in a salute before draining it again.

He looked back down at his glass, not missing the meaning of her mocking toast.  “How about we get you home?” he asked gently.  Michael settled their tab and walked Maggie outside into the late afternoon.

Maggie pointed waveringly down the street.  “Tha’s where I can catch the subway.”

Michael smiled.  “No subway for you today.”  He hailed a cab and gave explicit directions to the driver, along with a crisp hundred dollar bill.  When he opened the door, Maggie reluctantly sank into the back seat.

“I can manage, really,” she said.

“I know you can.  This is my thanks to you for coming in on a Saturday.”  He closed the door and patted her shoulder through the open window.  “Are you going to be okay?”

“I’m always okay,” she said sourly.

Resisting Risk, and the rest of the Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy, can be found here.

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