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Authors: Kathryn Shay

Tags: #Contemporary, #Romance

Always and Forever

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Praise for The O’Neil Series

“I have read all of the O'Neil books. I just couldn't get enough of this family. I laughed, I cried & fell in love with all the characters.”

 

“I loved getting
to know the whole family. I wish there were more books on the rest of the family.”

 

“As each O'Neil book comes out, I find myself drawn more and more into their world. I'll be waiting very impatiently for the last two brothers' books.”

 

“Ms. Shay is such an excellent writer. No one can create families with sibling relationships so true-to-life: funny, sweet, petty spats, taking
criticism from them that you wouldn't take from anyone else.”

 

“I thoroughly enjoyed this series. There was romance with suspense, espionage & modern-day political trials that made the stories very enjoyable.”

Always and Forever

 

Kathryn Shay

Table of Contents
Chapter 1

“I, Clayton Jon Wainwright, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend
the Constitution of the United States."

Dressed in stunning lightweight suits, with their women at their sides, the four O’Neil brothers lined up off to the left of their brother-in-law as Clay took the oath of office to become the president of the United States. Pat had to smile, despite the somber, important occasion.

All the young O’Neils were here, too, and stood quietly—which was
a shock—observing the monumental event. Ma and Pa sat closest to their daughter Bailey, who looked pretty in a blue summer suit, with her hair curling down her back. Ma held the baby on her lap and Pa had corralled the two year old. Clay’s other sons were at his side. Now, Clay’s oldest would need increased Secret Service coverage at graduate school, and Ma and Pa would have to cancel their cruise
until it could be determined how to keep them safe. Since Mark Langley had announced last month he was stepping down as president and giving his full support to Clay, everything was up in the air.

When the inaugural ceremony was finished, Clay pulled Bailey and the boys close. Then he turned to the vice president, Lindsay McMann, her husband and twins. Looking younger than her forty-three
years, she hugged the president, and he shook hands with her spouse.

The early June afternoon was hot, making the scent of the multicolored flowers heavy, but Clay had wanted to have the ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House, often used for small events. Since the circumstances of his assumption to the presidency were unusual, he’d gotten his way, despite Congress’s disapproval of
how he was handling the celebration. Inside, where they would soon go for a meal, a small band began to play, and Clay took Bailey to the patio and danced with her to “At Last.” The sun peeked through the trees, bathing them in light, and Pat considered that a good omen.

Beside him, Brie, looking beautiful in an obscenely expensive yellow dress, leaned into him. “Can you believe it?”

“Nope. How’d this happen to our lives?” He asked the question only half-jokingly.

“I have to say, Patrick O’Neil, it’s been quite a ride with your family.”

Was she implying the ride was over? No, he wouldn’t think that way. He’d promised himself, after their last big fight—which they were just getting over—he would curb his tendency to overreact to every word that came out of her mouth.
“That it has, lass.”

Scanning the onlookers to the inaugural dance, he caught sight of his brother Dylan off to the side, under the roof of the patio. Dylan leaned in close to Rachel, his soon-to-be wife, and pointed to the big white house. An agent stood behind them, too. “Huh? Wonder if they’re having a spat?”

A slight breeze caught Brie’s hair, teasing the strands, as she tracked his
gaze and gave a mysterious smile. “I doubt it.”

“Do you know something, woman?”

“I know a lot of things, Patrick.”

As he studied his brother, he saw Dylan’s expression turn into a frown. Pat transferred his gaze to Rachel…just as she slipped to the ground.

What the…? His heart beat a fast clip as he strode over. But several agents had closed in around the three of them, effectively
cutting out the family. His other two brothers, Aidan and Liam, rushed up to Pat, followed by their wives.

“Is she hurt?” Aidan asked. “It looked like she got shot.”

“Oh, my God,” Liam added. “Dylan?”

Brie said calmly, “Rachel collapsed.”

Pat’s sisters-in-law, C.J. and Sophie, shared a look with her.

“We have to get to Dylan to see what’s wrong.” Aidan’s voice rose a notch.

“No, honey,” C.J. told him, “we don’t.”

Liam started forward. Sophie stayed his arm. “Liam, it’s okay.”

Pat’s eyes narrowed. “What’s going on here? What do you know?”

Shaking her head, Brie once again locked gazes with the other women. “We have to tell them or they’re going to have a brawl with the Secret Service trying to get to Dylan.”

C.J. put her hand on her seventh-month-along,
rounded belly. “Rachel’s pregnant, too.”

Aidan’s jaw dropped, and Liam slid his arm around Sophie. “Keeping secrets now, love?”

Sophie leaned into him. “It was Rachel’s business to tell.”

“She didn’t say anything because of me, right?” Pat asked. He and Aidan were giving it their all, trying to accept Rachel into their lives, but after what she’d done with her publicity of the O’Neil
family, the attitude adjustment was hard.

“I think they wanted to keep it to themselves for a while.” Brie’s voice was calm, happy.

“Then how come you know?” Pat couldn’t keep the annoyance from his voice.

“She barfed all over the front of my car when the four of us went to lunch one day.” Brie chuckled. “We recognized the signs.”

Still reeling from that, Pat heard his phone ring.
Who would call him at a time like this? After fishing the cell out of his pocket, he clicked on. “Pat here.”

“Patrick, this is Bridget.” Their bartender at the pub in New York, who was in charge while the O’Neils were in D.C. “Sorry to bother you, lad, but the place is a loony bin. We’re only letting in the number of patrons we can serve, but nobody’s even thinkin’ to leave. They keep takin’
pictures, so I guess they’re tourists.”

“Give them some time, then shoo them out.”

“I’ll try, but the ones outside are getting restless. They’ve been jostling each other, and me and Sweeney are fearin’ they’re gonna come through the windows.”

“How many are there?”

“The crowd is as far as the eye can see.”

“Holy hell.”

“What should I do?”

He didn’t know. His gaze landed
on Mitch Calloway, Bailey’s top agent. “Hold on a sec.” He crossed to Mitch and relayed the information.

Mitch was all business. “Tell Bridget that help is on the way.” He took out his cell. “I’ll make some calls and get people down there for crowd control.”

Turning back to the matter of his brother, Pat saw the Secret Service had dispersed and Rachel was seated on a bench, with Dylan
beside her. Her face was totally pale, and Dylan’s almost matched it. Dylan’s son, Hogan, who’d rushed to them too, looked ill.

Hell, Pat thought, nothing was ever going to be the same again. And one thing Pat knew about himself, he didn’t like change.

oOo

Escorted by the Secret Service into a bedroom so large Dylan had joked it sported more furniture than his condo, Brie
stood in the doorway and watched Rachel and Dylan before they knew she’d arrived. Who would have ever thought her playboy brother-in-law would be so involved in a woman that he wouldn’t notice two people behind him? His hand brushed down Rachel’s auburn hair, and they were speaking softly.

Hogan, seated in a chair next to him, held Rachel’s hand. He’d told Brie he liked Rachel a lot and was
thrilled about the baby.

“Hi, guys.”

Turning, Dylan smiled. His face was still pale but the lines of worry around his mouth disappeared. “Hey, Brie. Thanks for coming up.”

Approaching the bed, Brie stopped at the footboard. “You’d better get down there and calm the troops. Your brothers are frantic.”

“He should go.” This from Rachel, who sounded remarkably strong. “We’ve been up
here awhile.”

In a similar suit and looking more like Dylan than ever, Hogan stood. “I’m going down.” He kissed Rachel, squeezed his dad’s shoulder and smiled at Brie. “Aunt Brie.”

“You doing okay, honey?”

“Yeah. She seems good.”

After Hogan left, Brie put her hand on Dylan’s back. “I’ll stay with her.”

“All right.”

Dylan left, albeit reluctantly, and Brie took a chair
next to the bed. Dressed in a sage-green suit, now with the jacket off, Rachel sighed. “I’m fine.”

“Of course you are.” Brie glanced after where her brother-in-law had gone. “Men turn into wimps when they’re going to have babies. Even Hogan.”

Rachel’s grin was sun bright. “I kind of like that about the kid.”

“Just feeling weak?” Brie asked. She’d never collapsed when she’d been pregnant,
not even during those months when she’d carried Sinead. She shivered, thinking of how awful that time had been and how she’d hurt Patrick—irrevocably, it turned out.

“Yes. I can’t believe the exhaustion that descends on me every afternoon. I think the thick smell of the roses didn’t help, either.”

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