Michael Rannigan sees the writing on the wall.
And he’s determined to find redemption.
Michael knows he’s spent his life keeping everyone at arm’s length. He’s burned bridges and destroyed friendships, leaving a path of destruction in his wake. But he thinks he’s found a way to make things right. At least for the one person who’s never given up on him.
Maggie Flynn’s life is changing quickly. Just when she’s decided make work her focus and to be content with being single, she has a new man in her life. Thanks to Michael and his interference, anyway.
Bobby is almost too good to be true, with his tall good looks, his sexy Cajun accent, and his irresistible lop-sided smile. He’s head over heels for Maggie. She knows she’s found the real thing.
Together, can they face the biggest challenge they’ve ever endured?
In this scene from the third book in the Rannigan’s Redemption trilogy, Bobby and Maggie head to his family home in Louisiana to celebrate Thanksgiving with the Beaulieu family.
Bobby gazed at Maggie across the table in the first-class lounge of the Atlanta airport. It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and they’d decided to have dinner during their two-hour layover halfway to Louisiana. “I’m so sorry I was impatient with you, cher.”
Maggie smiled sadly. “You’ve already apologized. Several times. And I get it. I never want to put you last.”
He looked down, frowning. “You don’t. I was wrong to say it. You work your ass off at your job, and then take on caring for a sick friend. And on top of that, you have this overbearing, insecure boyfriend who makes everything harder.”
“You know I love you. I don’t want you to question that.” She sighed deeply. “I just hate it when we fight.”
“We weren’t fighting,” he said, grinning wryly. “We were just discussing divergent opinions.”
Maggie laughed softly. “Yes, well… With Veronica there to keep Michael company, I won’t worry about him being alone.”
“Whatever it took for you to be able to come home with me, I’m glad you’re here,” he said, lifting her hand to his lips and leaving a gentle kiss there.
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.
Later that evening, after the kitchen had been thoroughly cleaned and leftovers had been packed away, the five Beaulieu daughters along with their husbands and children said their goodnights and went their separate ways.
Suddenly the house seemed empty and quiet. Jerilyn and Justin retired to the den to watch a holiday movie on television and Bobby put Savannah to bed, but not without a song from Maggie.
Pulling Savannah’s door closed, Bobby winked at Maggie. “Now, cher, there’s something I want to show you.”
Ten minutes later they were driving away from the house in the rented pickup truck, country music playing softly on the radio. “You want to show me something we have to drive to?” Maggie asked.
His smile said he was pleased with himself. “It’s not too far.”
Soon they were driving in an older neighborhood populated with small family homes set closely together. Most were well-kept, and a few had apparently used the holiday to get a jump on setting out their Christmas decorations. Maggie smiled out the window at wicker reindeer lit with twinkling white lights, inflated Santas and other cartoon characters lit from within, and roofs outlined in sparkling icicle lights.
Bobby pulled to a stop in front of a nondescript split level with brick on the bottom and white clapboard on the top. Black shutters framed the three visible windows. A large tree stood in the front, skeletal in the cool fall air. Maggie looked back to Bobby questioningly.
“This is the home where I grew up,” he said quietly. He looked at Maggie. “We were happy here. Crowded, because there are only three bedrooms and a bath and a half, but we were happy.”
He smiled as he looked out across the brown lawn. “See that tree right there? It’s a maple. I planted it from a seed when I was about five. Savannah’s age now,” he reflected.
Maggie smiled too, envisioning five-year-old Bobby slowing down long enough to plant a seed in a paper cup. “Your mom said that you built their house.”
Bobby gazed down at his hands on the steering wheel. “My dad worked on the off-shore oil rigs, was gone for months at a time. Maman taught school. We never had two nickels to rub together, and they worked so hard, both of them. We never lacked anything we needed, but it was always tight. Then Pop got hurt and couldn’t work anymore.”
He looked back to Maggie, his eyes shining. “They always sacrificed so much for all of us. I didn’t want them to ever worry about their home. And I figured, hell, might as well make it big enough for everybody.” Bobby laughed lightly.
Maggie smiled at him proudly. “You’re a good son. A good man.” She slid across the bench seat and leaned up to kiss him deeply. Leaning back, she said, “Thank you for showing me this.” He sighed. “I just want you to know who I am, where I come from.”RANSOMING REDEMPTION by Pandora Spocks