Meeting Megan Again. Julianna Morris
that matchmaking glint in her eyes.
“I don’t think Tyler is interested in wedded bliss,” she muttered.
“Maybe. But you know…I could tell he was attracted to you back then.”
Attracted? Megan automatically shook her head. Not a chance. Tyler didn’t even like her, much less have any warmer feelings.
“Tyler barely knows me,” she said hastily. “And I was engaged when we met.”
Eleanor took her hand and patted it. “Megan, you’re part of the family now, and you always will be. But Brad is gone. We don’t want to see you alone.”
The kind words made Megan sigh. She’d discovered there were worse things than being alone—things like having a husband who couldn’t be faithful, and who said it was your fault because you weren’t woman enough for him. Considering the alternative, she preferred being alone.
“Don’t get your hopes up, Grams.” Megan gave the older woman a hug. “I’m not interested in getting married again. I know you want more children around to spoil, but you’ll have to be content with Kara for the time being.”
“Maybe Reece and his fiancée are planning a family,” Eleanor said thoughtfully.
Megan doubted it. Reece O’Bannon might be taking a trip to the altar, but she couldn’t see him changing diapers and walking the floor with a teething infant.
“It doesn’t seem right,” Eleanor fretted. “I have three children, six grandchildren, and only one great-grandchild.”
“You’re just jealous of Carolyn,” Megan said lightly. “Because she’s ahead in the great-grandchild department.”
Eleanor and Carolyn were twin sisters who had married twin brothers. They were devoted to one another, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t some healthy competition between them. Especially when it came to grandkids.
“Hi, Tyler,” Kara shouted from the horseshoe pit.
Startled, Megan looked up in time to see Tyler smile at the greeting. He’d changed from his suit into black jeans and the T-shirt Kara had given him. If Megan hadn’t known better she would have said he was just an average guy, not too different from the rest of the O’Bannons.
“Who am I kidding?” she muttered under her breath.
There was nothing average about Tyler O’Bannon. He was taller than she remembered, with broad shoulders, a flat stomach, and long, muscular legs. He didn’t carry an excess ounce of fat and he had the natural grace of an athlete. On top of that, he was blessed with naturally wavy black hair and the sexiest smile in human history.
“What’s that, Megan?”
The corner of Eleanor’s mouth twitched. “Of course not.”
Tyler walked toward them with an unhurried stride that still ate up the distance quickly. “It’s good to see you.” He hesitated a moment, then leaned down and gave Eleanor an awkward kiss.
A pleased pink flooded her wrinkled cheeks. “Sit down, Tyler, and tell me how you’ve been.”
“I’m more concerned about you,” he said bluntly.
His face had a determined, I’m-getting-to-the-bottom-of-things expression. It was the same expression Megan had found so intimidating nine years ago, and she wondered how Eleanor would stand up to it now.
“Oh…” Eleanor waved her hand about in a vague dismissing motion. “We older folks have our aches and pains. You mustn’t pay any mind.”
“Don’t fuss, dear.”
If Megan hadn’t been watching closely, she wouldn’t have seen the nearly imperceptible shake of Eleanor’s head, or the way her fingers tightened around Tyler’s much larger hand.
What did it mean?
Eleanor was such a strong woman. She worked long hours at the church, rarely complained, and was generous to a fault. If she had one shortcoming, it was her persistent effort to marry off the unmarried members of her family—an effort that extended to widowed granddaughters-in-law.
Megan sat back on her heels, a cold sensation rushing down her spine. What if something was terribly wrong with Grams? The thought was so disturbing that she stopped listening to the conversation. It was only when Eleanor asked whether Tyler liked children that her head shot up.
“Grams,” she said, a faint scolding note in her voice.
“Hush, dear. I was asking Tyler a question.”
“Please don’t get any ideas.”
“Now, now.” Eleanor gave her a benevolent smile. “Tyler and I are just catching up. Isn’t that right?”
“Yes, ma’am.” He sounded amused, but there was a wary glint in his eyes.
“None of that ‘ma’am’ nonsense. You call me Grams, just like Megan.”
“Grams,” Megan repeated firmly. She didn’t want to spend the family reunion fending off Eleanor’s matchmaking efforts, much less have Tyler think she was trying to land herself a husband. A rich husband, no less.
“Yes, dear?” Eleanor had a look of guileless innocence on her face.
“You…we have to talk,” Megan said to Tyler. She jumped up, grabbed his hand and dragged him away.
“Is something wrong?” he asked.
Megan stormed into the living room and tossed her hair over her shoulder. “Of course there’s something wrong, or do you enjoy being grilled on your interest in fatherhood?”
“What do you mean, oh that?” she demanded.
“Every Christmas Eleanor asks if I’ve met a nice girl yet. And then she says how nice it would be if I started a family. She’s just being polite.”
“No,” Megan said with a distinct lack of patience. “Grams thinks I should get married again, and since she’s so fond of you, she’s decided we’d be an ideal couple. And I’m not interested in getting married again,” she added hastily.
“It’s…complicated. I don’t want to upset her, not with her health so questionable.”
“Oh, yes.” Tyler rocked forward, his attention focused on Megan. She was really worried. “What exactly is wrong with Eleanor? You heard her brush me off when I asked, but I know something is going on.”
Megan sighed. “I don’t know. She claims she’s fine, but her color is bad and she’s losing weight. She hardly eats anything, even when I bring her favorite dishes over to the house. Heck, her mother-in-law is doing better than she is.”
“Yes…Grandmother Rose,” Tyler said slowly. “She turned a hundred last year.”
“That’s right. We had a big party for her. Invitations went out to everyone.”
He sighed. “I know. I sent a gift.”
“She would rather have seen you.”
Tyler wanted to believe it was true, that his presence would have been more pleasing than the flowers and fine jewelry he’d sent. But he didn’t belong with the family. Grandmother Rose wasn’t really his great-grandmother, she was a distant relation to him, like the rest of the O’Bannons.
He didn’t know what to say to them, and he usually ended up feeling like a buffalo stomping around in a field of clover. Now, after years of perspective and finding success in his life, he was perfectly willing to admit it was his own fault.