Homestands

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Homestands by Sally Bradley

 

Homestands by Sally Bradley 

Chicago Wind, Book One

A broken marriage. A fatherless boy. A past that won’t let go.

When baseball star Mike Connor stumbles across his ex-wife six years after their divorce, he’s stunned to find that she’s the mother of a kindergartner who wears his jersey. And shares his last name.

The last thing Meg Connor wants is to be around Mike. After all, he was the one who hurt and abandoned her. But she can’t deny him—or their son—time together to build a relationship, which means Mike is around too often, reminding her of why she fell in love with him so long ago. If only she could forget their past… The painful and the good.

Between their guilt and closely held hurts, Meg and Mike struggle against each other, their feelings, and God as they fight their own desires for the future, a future that might never happen when the past that tore them apart collides with their present.


Excerpt

Somewhere in the seventh inning, between his second and third strikeout, Mike decided he would go see Meg right after the game.

The drive to her office took over an hour, thanks to rush-hour traffic. Mike exited the highway for her suburb where condominiums and townhouses gave way to large, older, single-family homes with tall, mature trees lining the road.

Evidently she worked from home.

He found her house and parked along the curb in front of her yard.

For several minutes, he didn’t move. He took in the large brick house, a two-story with five windows across the upper level and two on either side of the wooden door, its front step covered by a small overhang. A chimney extended from each end of the house, and a well-manicured lawn curved up from the street, the bushes that lined her yard flaunting spring colors.

A small weight lifted. At least she hadn’t been hurting. She must have met that dude right after their divorce, judging by the age of her son.

What was the kid’s name?

Her business card sat in his cup holder. Stifling a yawn, he picked it up and ran his fingers over the raised lettering.

Meghan Connor.

Whoa—Connor? She still went by his name?

How had he missed that detail? And what did it mean? Was she dating that guy?

Then who was the boy’s dad?

Mike glanced at her house. Maybe he belonged to the man.

No, the kid had called her his mom.

Maybe his stepmom?

He tucked the card safely into the cup holder, remembering her panicked face when her eyes had met his. What had she thought about during the game? Did she wish they could try again? His years with Meg, despite their problems, had been the best of his life, and even though his career had soared after the divorce, he longed to go back to those happy days with her, back to that first year in the majors and even back to the minors.

He snorted at the thought. “I am tired.”

Silence answered him.

It had been two weeks since Sara had left. Two very silent, silent weeks. His parents had asked about her when he’d had lunch with them in Anaheim during last week’s season opening road trip, and he’d told them they’d broken up during spring training. That she’d been gone by the time he got back.

He hadn’t told his parents about Sara finding Meg, though. His marriage was still a touchy subject. After the divorce, a couple years had passed before he could look them in the eye without feeling like they were fuming.

No way was he resurrecting that whole issue.

Because Meg was probably with someone else. He was just here to… say hi. To make sure she was okay because she’d seemed upset, maybe, at the ballpark.

We shouldn’t have—we need to go.

What had she meant?

He looked back at her house. Lights shone on each floor. Someone was home, probably Meg if she worked here.

What about that man? What if he opened the door?

“I’m Mike Connor,” he practiced. “Meg’s first husband. And you are?”

The guy would punch him in the nose if Meg had told him anything.

So he’d punch him back.

He climbed out of his Range Rover, slammed the door, and started up the sidewalk. His heart beat faster, and he matched his stride to it until he reached her door.

What would she do when she saw him?

He pushed the doorbell and listened to its faint ring. Maybe he’d imagined she looked the same as he’d remembered. Maybe the sparkle in her green eyes had faded and she’d turned gray.

What did that matter? He needed to see her, if only to say he was sorry and ask for forgiveness. Then he could tell the guilt goodbye and move on with life, wherever that took him.

He lifted his hand to press the bell again, but the knob rattled. Mike squared his shoulders.

The door swung open.

Framed in the doorway Meg—his Meg—froze, her small smile slipping away. She wore jeans and a red sweater that gave color to her pale skin. Her long, wavy hair framed her face in dark gold layers, and her green eyes glazed as she stared at him.

Despite her less-than-welcoming expression, she looked better then he’d remembered.

He forced a smile, hands stuffed in his pockets. “Hi.”

Still she stared.

“May I come in?”

She blinked, did not move, did not speak.

Gently he nudged the door farther open.

She shifted out of its way.

He doubted she knew she’d moved, but he’d take it as a yes. He stepped into a foyer, warm light reflecting off dark wood floors and subtle yellow walls. A wide staircase stood on the left, and a doorway on the right led to a living room done in some soothing orange color.

He smiled. Only Meg could make orange soothing.

Behind him the door clicked shut, and he turned to find her watching him, her face unreadable.

“Sorry to drop in,” he said, “but I had to come by.”

She said nothing, the silence blaring.

“I haven’t stopped thinking about you since I saw you.” He tried to joke. “You made me play awful.”

“Oh.” She looked sideways at the stairs and then at his feet.

He’d have to save the humor for later. “I hope this isn’t a bad time. If your husband or boyfriend is here and you want me to leave, I’ll go.”

She looked up. “My husband?”

“You’re not married?” Mike cleared his throat, fought to control his sudden smile. “I saw you with someone, and I assumed—” He rubbed the back of his neck. Why had he said that?

“Why are you here, Mike?”

This wasn’t what he’d expected. “I wanted to make sure you were okay, doing fine.” He glanced around the foyer again, noting the side tables, mirrors, and odds and ends that gave the room an expensive, designer look. “Your place is great.”

“Thank you. I did it myself—my own design business.”

He opened his mouth to congratulate her, but she cut him off. “If you’ve soothed your conscience making sure I’m fine after all these years—”

Footsteps sounded on the stairs.

Mike looked up as Meg’s little boy appeared.

The blond kid halted when their eyes met. “Wow! Mr. Connor!” He raced down the rest of the stairs.

Mike braced for the kid to fling himself at him.

Instead, the boy skidded to a stop and lifted his hand for a handshake. “Nice to see you again.”

The manners just kept coming with this kid, didn’t they? Mike raised his eyebrows at Meg as he shook her son’s hand.

She didn’t seem amused. “Terrell—”

“Mr. Connor, do you think we could play baseball sometime?”

Mike couldn’t help his laugh. What would this kid think if he knew his history with his mother? “That’s up to your mom. If she says it’s fine, we’ll do it. How’s that?”

Terrell nodded. “Can we, Mommy?”

Her smile was grim. “We’ll see. Right now you need to go to Jill’s.”

Terrell’s lower lip protruded, but the sideways glance he sent Mike said he didn’t want to embarrass himself in front of his baseball hero. “Can’t I stay?”

“No, Terrell. You need to go. Now.”

“But I want to tell him something.”

She relented, as Mike knew she would. “Quickly, Terrell.”

Terrell beamed at him, a grimace-like grin splitting his face. “We have the same name.”

 

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Sally has two books releasing!

Taken, a Kept novella, released May 20. Get a peek into Miska and Dillan's lives as Jordan, Dillan's sister, finds love--and danger. Then on June 28, Homestands released, book one in the Chicago Wind series. Find out more under Sally's Books tab.

It’s a Bestseller!

On July 7th, Homestands and the box set it was in, Whispers of Love, hit #79 on the USA Today bestseller list! A huge, huge thank you to everyone who bought the set and made that happen!

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