The Kidnapped Christmas Bride (Taming of the Sheenans Book 3)

By: Jane Porter
A Taming of the Sheenans Novella

Chapter One

It was quiet in the truck.

The kind of quiet that made Trey know trouble was brewing. And if anyone knew trouble, it was he, Trey Sheenan, voted least likely to succeed (at anything legal, moral, or responsible) his senior year at Marietta High.

At eighteen, he’d been proud of his reputation. It’d been hard earned, with rides in the back of sheriffs’ cars, visits to court, trips to juvenile hall, and later, extended stays at Montana’s delightful Pine Hills, where bad boys were sent to be sorted out. Reformed.

It hadn’t worked.

Trey Sheenan was so bad there was no sorting him out. Maybe back then he hadn’t wanted to be sorted out, and so he’d continued his wild ways, elevating trouble to an art form, growing from a hot-headed teenager with zero self-control, to a hot-headed man with questionable self-control.

Now at thirty-six, after four years in Montana’s correctional system, he was tired of trouble and sick of his reputation.

Just hours ago he’d been paroled, a whole year early. It’d come as a shock when the warden came to him early this morning, letting him know that he was being released today. Trey knew his brothers had been working on getting him released early for good behavior, as Trey had become a model inmate (at least after the first year), and the back bone of the prison system’s successful MCE Ranch, but he’d never imagined he’d be out now. In time for Christmas.

It gave him pause. Made him hope. Fueled his resolve to sort things out with McKenna.

He missed her and his boy TJ so much that he felt dead inside. But now he was out, coming home. Finally he had the opportunity to make things right.

“It was sure good to see you step outside those gates,” Troy said, breaking the silence.

Trey nodded, remembering the moment he’d spotted Troy standing outside the prison entrance in front of his big black SUV. He’d nearly smiled. And then when Troy clapped him in a big hard bear hug, Trey’s eyes had stung.

It’d been a long time since he’d been hugged by anyone. A long time since he’d felt like anything, or anyone.

Prison had done the trick, breaking him down, hollowing him out, teaching him humility and gratitude.

Humility and gratitude, along with loneliness, shame and pain.

His dad had died while he was at Deer Lodge, last March. He hadn’t been allowed to attend the funeral. Talk about pain.

He shifted ever so slightly in the passenger seat and flexed his right foot to ease the tension building inside of him, aware that Troy might not actually be looking at him, but he was keeping him in his peripheral vision. Smart. You didn’t let a Sheenan out of your sight. Especially not Trey the Dangerous. Trey the Destroyer. Hadn’t he even tattooed that on the inside of his bicep on his nineteenth birthday? What a joke he’d been.

What an ass he’d become.

“Should hit Bozeman in thirty minutes or so,” Troy said.

Trey said nothing.

“Want to stop for anything? Need anything?”

Trey shook his head. Silence descended. Troy ran a hand over his jaw. It really was too quiet in the truck, what with the volume down on the Sirius radio station, muffling the country songs, making the lyrics an annoying mumbo jumbo, so that the only other sound was the salted asphalt of I-90 beneath the tires, and the windshield wiper blades swishing back and forth, resolutely batting away the falling snow.

He itched to lean forward and turn up the radio volume, but it wasn’t his truck and he didn’t want to be demanding. He needed to prove to his family and community that he wasn’t the hot-head Sheenan that intimidated and destroyed, but a man who protected. He was ready to show everyone who he really was. A solid, responsible man, a good man, who was committed to making things right.

And the first person he had to see was McKenna. He was dying to see her, and TJ. It’d been a long time since he’d seen either of them. Two years and a month almost to the day. It had been Thanksgiving weekend the last time he saw TJ, his son. The boy was three. McKenna had been so very silent and sad, sad in a different way than he’d seen before. He hadn’t realized that would be their last visit. He hadn’t realized she’d decided then that she was through…