This weekend excerpt features a Thanksgiving scene from RANSOMING REDEMPTION, the third and final book of Rannigan’s Redemption.
They arrived at the Beaulieu’s home after eight o’clock that night having driven from the airport in the silver pickup truck Bobby had reserved at the rental agency. “A truck?” Maggie had questioned. Bobby had just winked at her.
Jerilyn chased Savannah who bounded out of the house as they pulled up into the circular driveway. “Daddy!” cried the child as she threw herself into Bobby’s arms.
“Well hey there, June bug,” he said, hugging his daughter tightly. “Look who I brought with me. You remember Maggie, don’t you?”
“Welcome, cher,” Jerilyn said as she wrapped Maggie in a huge hug. “Come on in. Are y’all hungry?”
“I’m always hungry,” laughed Bobby. He put Savannah on the ground. “Come on, you can help us get our bags.”
“This is such a beautiful home,” Maggie told Bobby’s mother.
“Why thank you, hon,” she smiled. “Of course, you know Bobby had it built for us when he signed his first contract with the majors.”
Maggie’s eyes widened and she looked to Bobby who seemed uncomfortable. “No. I didn’t know that.”
“Ro-bert, y’all are up in your room,” Jerilyn tossed over her shoulder as she headed back into the house. “Get freshened up and come on down to the kitchen.”
With Bobby leading the way, Savannah carried Maggie’s cosmetic case and Maggie followed with her suitcase as they went upstairs. They traveled down a long hallway to a bedroom on the back of the house with a huge bay window overlooking the marsh beyond the expansive lawn.
“Okay, sweetie,” Bobby said to Savannah, “how about you go help Nana in the kitchen and we’ll be right there.”
“Okay, Daddy,” the little girl said. “Are you coming downstairs, Maggie?”
Maggie smiled. “I sure am. I’ll see you in just a minute.”
“You can sit by me,” Savannah said as she left the room, closing the door behind her.
Bobby pulled Maggie to him and held her for a moment, kissing her neck. “Thank you so much for coming home with me, cher,” he murmured against her neck.
“I’m happy to be here,” she said. “I’m surprised your mom has us sharing a room, though.” He looked at her quizzically. “I just figured we’d be in separate rooms, that’s all,” she shrugged.
“You realize, cher,” he arched an eyebrow, “they know we have sex.” He whispered the last three words, and Maggie blushed furiously while he chuckled. “You’re so pretty when your face is pink.”
Thursday was a blur of activity at the Beaulieu home. Bobby’s sisters and their families arrived throughout the morning beginning around seven o’clock. One by one, Maggie was introduced to them, and she made a concerted effort to remember everyone’s names and at least which kids belonged to which adults, if not the names of the kids. She happily pitched in with the preparations in the kitchen while Bobby worked outside to set up the large outdoor fryer in which the turkey would be cooked.
“Have you ever had deep-fried turkey, Maggie?” asked Bobby’s sister Jenny.
Maggie shook her head. “I never have, but I’ve always wanted to try it.”
“You should go outside and watch,” youngest sister Nancy told her.
Taking a beer from the giant ice-filled galvanized tub on the back deck, Maggie walked down the steps to the area on the end of the driveway where Bobby and his father had set up the fryer on its sturdy platform. The other men were keeping an eye on the kids playing behind the house.
“If it’s not the prettiest girl I know,” Bobby said, smiling. “And she brought me a beer.” He took it from her and kissed her cheek. “How are you doing, cher?”
“I’m great! I came to see the turkey fry.”
“Once you have it fried, you’ll never go back to roasted,” Justin told her with a wink.
The holiday dinner around the family table was a raucous affair. Following the grace, the passing of heaping platters and bowls was accompanied by loud conversation punctuated by frequent laughter. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Maggie sat back and took it all in. Bobby rested his free hand on her thigh and grinned at her reassuringly from time to time.
“Well what do you think, Maggie?” Bobby’s oldest sister Michelle smiled kindly. “Are you coming back for Christmas or have we scared you off?”
“Oh, well,” Maggie began, “actually I have a gathering at my place every Christmas. It’s sort of affectionately known as the Orphans and Misfits Christmas.”
“Being without family, Maggie invites her friends who don’t have anybody either. She makes sure that nobody’s alone on Christmas,” Bobby elaborated proudly.
“Well, she has family now,” Bobby’s sister Renée said, and Maggie blushed as threatened tears stung her eyes.