Page 15 of Tribulation Pass

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“It’s me,” he called out, waiting a few seconds before he went too far into the house. Family was always welcome, but he’d also learned you never knew what you might be walking in on. His parents had never been able to keep their hands off each other. But there was comfort knowing they still looked at each other today like they had when he was a kid.

He heard footsteps hurrying down the stairs and his mother calling, “Duncan!”

She launched herself at him with a whoop and wrapped him in a hug, and he couldn’t keep the grin from spreading across his face. She was a small woman, but she was a force to be reckoned with.

Her red hair was pinned up in a knot on her head, and tendrils fell around her face. She’d only been twenty-two when his dad had taken one look at Anne Winslow on a Broadway stage and fallen head over heels in love. She’d left her career behind and followed Mick O’Hara across the country to Laurel Valley, Idaho. And he, Duncan Winslow O’Hara, been born eight months later.

Anne’s face was still youthful, though a few laugh lines had snuck in around her eyes. She was beautiful, and he’d always loved painting her, capturing the joy that emanated from within. She didn’t sing or perform on the stage anymore, but instead, she’d found her niche in writing lyrics for some of the greatest theatrical songwriters of the century.

“What a pleasant surprise,” she said, giving him another squeeze and then pulling back to give him a long look like she liked to do. “Especially in this weather. Work not going well?”

“No, it’s actually going very well. I finished a piece this morning. Caught the storm rolling in.”

“I can’t wait to see it. The clouds were amazing. I’ve been working in the office, but I had a front row seat to the show. Looks like it’s not over yet.”

“Forecast is calling for rain the next couple of days,” he said, taking a seat on the barstool at the big kitchen island.

“You hungry?”

“I just had pizza,” he said.

“Some things never change,” she said. “But your dad made brownies this morning, and I’ve got ice cream.”

“Always room for dessert,” he said. “Too bad Aunt Simone didn’t make the brownies. Hers are the best.”

“I’m crushed,” Mick said from the doorway. “And here I was, coming to greet my oldest son, only to be met with cruelty.”

“You win some, you lose some,” Duncan said, getting up to give his father a hug. “If it makes you feel better, yours are a close second to hers.”

“As long as they’re better than your mother’s, I’ll be content with that,” Mick said.

Anne O’Hara could do many things well, but cooking wasn’t one of them, and everyone knew it.

“It’s a good thing I like both of you, or I’d eat all of this by myself,” she said, scooping ice cream on top of the large brownie slices she’d put into bowls.

“What have y’all been up to?” Duncan asked. “I haven’t seen anyone in a while.”

“Got a new yearling last week,” Mick said. “And I can smell champion all over him. Spirited thing. Nasty temper. You’d like him. I named him Duncan.”

Duncan’s grin was quick. “Sounds like a winner to me.”

“You know, we have family dinner every Sunday just like always,” his mother said, raising her brows at him and putting his bowl in front of him.

“Been working,” he said. “Got a showing coming up and I’ve got to get everything shipped off next week.”

“Where at?” Mick asked.

“LA,” he answered. “And no, I’m not going. I’m going to enjoy the off-season as long as I can before the hordes of people start coming to fall off the mountain. Maybe you could tell Hank to stop building so many condos.”

“Not likely,” Mick said. “We’re all stockholders in O’Hara Construction. You’ll get a nice dividend check at the end of the year.”

Duncan just grunted and took another bite.

“I’m surprised to see you out and about,” Anne said. “If you’d gotten here earlier you could’ve helped get all the horses in. That was fun.”

“He always did have good timing,” Mick said. “And not that I’m not glad you’re here, but if you stay too long you might get stuck overnight. It’s supposed to start up again.”

That made him think of Hattie. What had she beenthinkinggetting out in this weather? Alice or Mac should’ve thrown themselves on her hood instead of letting her leave. And boy, was he going to have a word or two with them the next time he saw them.

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