Meeting Megan Again. Julianna Morris
wrote last month and it didn’t sound like her at all. It bothered me, so I wanted to check things out,” he explained.
Megan nodded. She understood why he’d come back; what she didn’t understand was why he’d stayed away in the first place. The O’Bannons were wonderful people—the kind of family she’d dreamed of having when she was a child and her parents were screaming and throwing things at each other.
“This one looks big enough,” Kara shouted, running back down the hallway. She waved one of the men’s black T-shirts in the air, then thrust it into Tyler’s hands. “We made them special for the reunion. Mom did the design.”
“Thanks,” he said. “You’re Kara, right?”
Kara nodded, suddenly shy. “I’m glad you came, Mr. O’Bannon.”
“Call me Tyler.”
“Okay, Tyler.” Kara appeared ready to explode with pleasure, then a shout from outside the house made her feet stir restlessly. “It’s my turn for horseshoes,” she said. “Do you want to come watch? Or if you want to play, I can teach you how. It’s real simple. You have to—”
“I’m sure Tyler wants to get settled first,” Megan intervened. “You can visit with him later.”
“O-o-okay.” Kara reluctantly headed out the door.
“I’ll show you up to your room,” Megan said, taking the key to room four from a locked cabinet. She glanced beyond him into the foyer. “Don’t you have any luggage?”
“In the car. I’ll get it later. Actually…” Tyler stopped, his eyes dark and intent. “After what you wrote, I wasn’t sure you wanted me to come.”
Guilty heat flooded her face. She hadn’t meant to sound unwelcoming.
Or had she?
An uneasy shiver crept through Megan and she looked away. Tyler reminded her of things she wanted to forget—of youth and making mistakes and having everything fall apart. Did Tyler know about Brad’s womanizing?
She drew a ragged breath, wondering if she’d ever get over the sick feeling of her life spinning out of control—of her husband having one affair after the other and finally getting himself killed while driving his fancy sports car.
“You’re awfully pale, Megan? Are you all right?”
Tyler sounded genuinely concerned, and she forced a smile to her mouth. “I’m fine. And of course you’re welcome. I know Eleanor will be ecstatic. She often talks about you. Grady, too.”
“That’s nice.” He seemed embarrassed by the comment and Megan lifted her eyebrows. Apparently there were some things Tyler O’Bannon didn’t handle with aplomb.
“Well…your room is upstairs,” she said.
Megan walked up the broad staircase, all too aware of Tyler following close behind. Nothing had changed since the first time they’d met. He was still too intense, too overwhelming and complicated, while she wasn’t complicated in the slightest.
Heck, if she hadn’t been exciting enough for her husband, she certainly wasn’t any match for Tyler.
Fifteen feet down the hall Megan opened a door and motioned to the interior of the room. “This room has a private bath, so you won’t have to share.”
Tyler glanced around the room. As in the rest of the house, a scent of beeswax and flowers filled the air, along with glints of light from polished wood furniture and oak paneling. It was a sharp contrast to his condo in San Francisco, dominated by the prior owner’s passion for black and white. Though he disliked the stark decor, he’d never taken the time to look for a decorator.
But this…it felt like a home, even if it was really a bed and breakfast inn most of the time.
“It’s very nice, but it doesn’t seem like the kind of place Brad would have chosen,” Tyler murmured.
“No.” Megan swallowed, and her lashes drifted down, concealing her expression. “I bought the house after the accident. Brad never lived here.” She held out the room key, “I’d better get downstairs and check on things in the kitchen. But later we’re going to the park for softball, if you’re interested in coming.”
Tyler took the key, his gaze searching her face. “I’m interested.”
“Good. We’ll leave in about an hour, so you’ll have time to say hello to everyone. I’m sure Eleanor is anxious to see you.”
“Thanks.” He put his hand on her arm as she started to turn away.
Her eyes flew wide open and she stared at him. “Y-yes?”
“I just wanted to say…you have a beautiful daughter, Megan.”
For the first time since he’d arrived, Tyler saw a natural smile brighten her face. Whatever else, Megan was proud of Kara, and for a bittersweet moment Tyler wondered what it would be like, having a daughter of his own. Having a child with Megan.
Swearing silently, Tyler released Megan’s arm and stepped away. It was still there, the sexual attraction between them, along with the knowledge it wasn’t going anywhere. He didn’t belong with a woman like Megan. She was the princess in the fairy tale, but he wasn’t any prince.
“I’ll just take a look around, then come down,” Tyler said when Megan didn’t move. He needed a few minutes to collect his thoughts. At eighteen Megan had been both innocent and sweetly seductive.
She was different now.
The innocence was gone, perhaps understandably. But while Megan was as enticing as ever, the sweet seduction was gone as well. Shadows had replaced the sparkling fun in her green eyes—it was a loss that made him want to cry out in protest.
The door closed behind Megan and Tyler uttered another curse, this time aloud.
He crossed to the window and stared out at the garden. It was full of cheerful O’Bannons, laughing and playing, or sitting and talking. Kara was up at the horseshoe pit, taking aim at the post. After a moment of careful concentration she sent the horseshoe flying. It spun around the target and a flurry of congratulations followed.
Tyler’s frown deepened. He didn’t known anything about families and he was too old to learn. All the “what if-ing” in the world wouldn’t change things. Kara was another man’s daughter, and he was what he’d always been—an outsider. Not that he blamed anyone but himself. The O’Bannons had tried, it wasn’t their fault he couldn’t join their picture-perfect world.
Megan appeared in the garden and crossed to a woman sitting with her back to the house. She knelt and said a few words, then the woman turned, looking directly at his window. It was Eleanor.
She saw him, smiled brightly and waved, motioning with her hand to come down.
Tyler lifted his own hand in return. Eleanor was the closest thing he had to a mother. He should just forget about Megan and concentrate on finding out what was wrong with Eleanor. He might not fit in, but at least he could get the best doctors on the planet to take care of her.
With that thought, Tyler looked at the T-shirt Kara had given him to wear. He flexed the muscles of his left biceps, trying to decide if the short sleeves of the shirt would cover the tattoo he’d got while serving in the army.
He could just imagine Megan’s reaction if she saw that damned eagle.
“He said you wrote to him,” Megan muttered to Eleanor, still on edge from her encounter with Tyler.
Not that that was anything new. Tyler had always made her nervous. It was the way he had of looking at her, as if he had secret thoughts she could never understand.
Eleanor patted her hand. “Of course I wrote to him, Megan. You know,