Sins of the Mother

( 1 )

Overview

Popularity and fame have created a glimmering facade in Shanna O'Brian's world, but when the spotlight fades, even her success fails to penetrate the darkness of reality. Faced with the heartrending loss of her mother and the man who fashioned her country music career, Shanna must return to the place where her dreams have been both nurtured and shattered, Morningsong Estates.

Upon the death of his father, Shanna's ex-husband, Joshua Morgan, is now in control of her record label ...

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Overview

Popularity and fame have created a glimmering facade in Shanna O'Brian's world, but when the spotlight fades, even her success fails to penetrate the darkness of reality. Faced with the heartrending loss of her mother and the man who fashioned her country music career, Shanna must return to the place where her dreams have been both nurtured and shattered, Morningsong Estates.

Upon the death of his father, Shanna's ex-husband, Joshua Morgan, is now in control of her record label and proclaims to her that he loves her still. This unsettling revelation, coupled with Shanna's need to reclaim possession of a life she has too often surrendered to others, leads her down a path of self-discovery that is cruelly threatened by unseen forces.

Can the mayhem surrounding Shanna be resolved despite her fledging faith in herself, her God, and the man determined to redeem her trust?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582293424
  • Publisher: Howard Books
  • Publication date: 8/1/2003
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 268
  • Product dimensions: 0.61 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Rushford is an internationally known author and speaker and has authored dozens of books and numerous articles and has gained a reputable spot in the Christian youth fiction market. With over a quarter of a million sold of her youth series alone, her exciting Jennie McGrady series is enjoying overwhelming success from readers of all ages. Patricia moved into adult fiction category with the release of her Helen Bradley Mysteries Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep and Red Sky in Mourning. She and her husband, Ron, have been married for thirty-seven years and presently reside in Vancouver, Washington.

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Read an Excerpt

Due to the lateness of the hour and what Shanna considered a miracle, they had only a twenty-minute delay before the plane finally lifted off.

While her companions dozed, Beth in the window seat behind her and Max on her left, Shanna glanced through the newspaper. In her usual postconcert high, she was too wired to sleep. The headline story drew her attention: “Recording Magnate Dies.”

Andrew Morgan, founder and president of Morningsong Productions, died Friday of a massive heart attack. Morgan was seventy-five and is succeeded by his wife, Mary, and their grandsons, Joshua and Tom Morgan.

Shanna folded the paper. She didn’t need to read any more. The Morgans had built the largest conglomerate in the music industry. Andrew had been her mentor as well as her employer, and while she hadn’t always agreed with his methods, she loved him.

Shanna stuffed the paper into the seat pocket in front of her, then turned to stare into the black, starless night outside the 747’s tiny window.

It would be 3 a.m. before they reached Nashville. Once on the ground, they’d drive another hour to the Morningsong Estate, catch a few winks, then attend the memorial service at eleven. Shanna released the seat and leaned back. If she could sleep, she wouldn’t have to think too much about Morningsong or Andrew or Joshua.

Shanna startled when she felt a callused hand on hers.

“You OK, darlin’?” Max leaned forward in his seat and fixed his concerned gaze on her.

No, I’m not OK. I’m angry, I’m afraid, and I want to go back to Colorado and then on to the West Coast. I want to get as far away from Joshua as possible. In spite of her thoughts, she smiled and said, “I’m just tired.” There would be no turning back. Besides, she wanted to pay her last respects to Andrew. Even in the worst of times, he’d offered his support.

Max lifted his hat and combed his fingers through his unruly black-and-silver hair. “It’s going to be a long trip.”

After several minutes passed he spoke again. “Hard to imagine Morningsong without old Andrew. ’Course, I doubt things will change much. Joshua will step in and fill his granddaddy’s shoes just fine.”

“I’m sure he will.”

Max must have felt her stiffen, seen the look of panic in her eyes. He stared at her for a moment, fingering the band of the hat that seemed as much an appendage as his ears. “What’s troubling you, sugar? And don’t tell me it’s Andrew’s death. Losing him is a terrible thing, but I know it’s something more.”

Shanna clenched her teeth. “I know it sounds crazy, but I can’t work with Joshua. I…I’m going to have to leave Morningsong.”

“Sure you can. It won’t be so bad. Joshua’s a great guy.” Max leaned back against the seat and settled the hat back on his head.

“To you, maybe.” She swallowed past the lump in her throat. How could she explain her feelings to Max? She hardly understood them herself. All she knew was that being with Joshua again would tear her apart. She’d worked too hard to overcome the past to have her life disrupted all over again.

“Look, Shanna, I know working with your ex won’t be easy, but you don’t have much choice. You signed an ironclad contract with Morningsong Productions. You can’t leave for at least another year.”

“Don’t remind me. I’d never have signed on again if I’d known Andrew would die on us.” Shanna’s voice broke. The tears she’d held in for what seemed like an eternity slipped down her cheeks. She accepted the hankie Max offered, as well as his sympathy and advice to have a good cry.

When the tears diminished she chided herself for being so weak. Somehow you’ll make it through this, she told herself with renewed certainty. You’ll go to the funeral, finish the tour, and get on with your life. She’d start by moving away. With Joshua at Morningsong Estate, it wouldn’t do to stay on the grounds. She’d find an apartment or house in another city or state. Then she’d see about getting out of her contract.

“There has to be a way out, Max. I’ll hire a lawyer.” Shanna put words to her thoughts. She was beginning to sound desperate. In a way she was.

“Suit yourself, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Even with Andrew dead, Morningsong’s got the power. If I were you, I’d hang loose for a while. See how things shape up. Who knows, maybe Joshua has changed. Maybe he still loves you and wants to work things out. When I talked to him on the phone, he seemed pretty anxious to see you.” He poked a finger at the brim of his hat, lifting it so he could look her full in the eyes. “That is what you want, isn’t it? For the two of you to get back together?”

Shanna’s face warmed. “It most certainly is not!”

Max gave her an empathetic look. “You might say so, but I know better. I’ve seen your face when someone mentions his name.”

“My face… If you see anything, it’s contempt.”

“Oh, I don’t think so. Trust me, darlin’. What you’re feeling for Joshua is not contempt.”

Flustered, Shanna took a deep breath. “Look, just forget I said anything.”

“OK, no need to get huffy. Just trying to tell you not to worry about what might happen. Relax and deal with things as they come. I learned long ago to leave my problems in God’s hands.”

“Well, God may have handled your life all right, but He’s made a mess of mine. Still, maybe you’re right—about waiting to see what happens. It doesn’t do much good to get all worked up.” She tipped her head back and massaged the muscles in her shoulders. “Do you think he’ll make many changes, Max? If he runs things like Andrew did, I won’t have to worry. I don’t spend much time at Morningsong anyway. Maybe I won’t have to see Joshua at all. You could do all the negotiating for me. I suppose you think I’m being childish, but I don’t know if I can take being around him.” She was rambling now and couldn’t seem to stop.

Max sat up and caught his hat in his hands. “Everything will work out fine. No need to work yourself into a frenzy.”

“I’m trying, Max. I really am. It’s just that I have this feeling—you know, like everything is coming apart.” Come on, Shanna, she scolded herself. Get a grip. You’ve had plenty of time to get over him.

“It’s been six years, hasn’t it? I never did learn the whole story about your breakup, but I should think you’d have had long enough to sort out your problems—you know, forgive and forget. I figure it’s about time you two resolved your differences. Andrew mentioned awhile back that he’d like to see the two of you get back together.”

Shanna shook her head. “That’s impossible. Even if Josh loved me and I loved him—which I don’t—I could never go back. There is no way I’d subject myself to that kind of hurt again. Even if I could trust Joshua, a marriage could never survive my career.”

“Humph,” Max snorted. “That’s a bunch of hogwash.”

Of course he couldn’t understand. No one could, except maybe Elizabeth and the few members of the band who had tried and failed to make their marriages work. When you’re on the road performing at two hundred concerts a year and shuffling recording sessions and television appearances in-between, there’s little room left for a husband or wife. While Elizabeth may have colored Shanna’s opinion of marriage and men, Shanna knew from experience how pointless it would be to try again.

“Max, look around you. Every one of the band members that ever tried marriage is divorced. The rest are smart enough to know it can’t work—at least not for long.”

“I could point to several couples in this business whose marriages are still going strong after fifteen years. Take Jess and Margaret, for instance. She travels with him whenever possible, and when she can’t—well, I think that’s where the difference comes in. Jess is as faithful then as when she’s around.”

Max was right about that. Jess, their lead guitarist, and his wife seemed to be doing fine; but that was only one success in who knew how many failures. “Unfortunately, Joshua isn’t like Jess.” Shanna stroked her forehead with the tips of her fingers to ease the beginnings of a headache. “Anyway, I don’t want to talk about Joshua anymore.”

Just as Shanna closed her eyes, the flight attendant offered them drinks. She asked for a Perrier. Max declined.

“Sure you don’t want to tell me about it?” Max asked, handing Shanna’s drink over to her.

“No. But I suppose I should. It might explain my position.” Shanna took a sip. “Joshua and I were very close growing up. I suppose part of me always knew we’d be together someday. We fell in love. Maybe if Elizabeth hadn’t worked so hard to keep us apart, things might have been different.”

“I’m not sure I understand. Why would she want to keep you apart?”

“She was afraid, I think. She never liked Joshua—I’m not sure why. She rarely let me out of her sight. Whenever Joshua came around, she’d find some excuse for me to do something or go somewhere. After a while we started sneaking off and meeting secretly. As I look back on it, Joshua and Mother always seemed to be fighting over me.”

“Fighting, huh. Who won?”

“I don’t think anyone did, really. I suppose that sounds strange—the fighting part. There weren’t any knock-down-drag-outs. Mostly it was like a mental tug of war.

“Joshua finally convinced me to marry him. We eloped. It was just two weeks before my eighteenth birthday—a big mistake. When we got home, Andrew and my mother were furious. Mother insisted on an annulment. Andrew sent Joshua to Los Angeles to head up Morningsong West. A week later the tabloids printed a picture of Joshua and one of his singers in a magazine. The article said Laurie Daniels was his new flame.”

“And you believed those gossip rags?”

“I may have been young and gullible, but I wasn’t stupid. Joshua didn’t have to go to L.A. And he certainly didn’t have to play around.”

“That doesn’t sound like the Joshua I know.”

“Pictures don’t lie, Max. Besides, when Laurie gave up her career to have his baby, I knew.”

“Humph. Don’t believe everything you hear.”

“It was true, all right. He never spoke to me after he moved to L.A.—not even when I wrote to tell him I was pregnant. But then, why would he care about me—he had Laurie.”

“You had a baby?” Max frowned. “I…I didn’t know.”

“I gave him up for adoption. I didn’t want to, but what choice did I have? Joshua was gone and apparently wasn’t coming back. I was eighteen and…what kind of life would a child have with a playboy father and me for a mother? Elizabeth and Andrew helped me make the right choice. And this way, my little boy has a chance at a normal life.”

A strange sadness filled Max’s dark eyes. “Ever regret it?”

“Sometimes.” All the time. Every time she saw a little boy, she wondered what her baby was like. Did he have a good home? Was his hair blond like Joshua’s or red like hers? Did he have his daddy’s smile? Or her dimples? “It was for the best.” Shanna took another sip of sparkling water.

“You’re a hard one to understand, Shanna. Looks to me like you’d be a great wife and mother. Don’t know why you’re so bent on denying it.”

“You wouldn’t say that if you knew my background. My parents had a miserable marriage. Of course, I’m mostly to blame for that.”

Shanna licked her lips. The memories of her parents’ bitter quarrels still haunted her. She’d been too young to remember much, but Elizabeth’s hateful words still burned in her memory like a brand on cowhide. “My marriage wasn’t worth the paper it was written on. We’re better off without him, Shanna.” Michael O’Brian had been an alcoholic and a womanizer, and after countless separations, her parents finally divorced. He’d never bothered to contact them and died a few years later.

“You’re being kind of hard on yourself, aren’t you?”

“Am I?”

“Well, I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me about it? Sometimes it helps to talk things out.”

“Maybe some other time.” Shanna folded her arms and turned her face to the window. She suddenly missed her father very much. Maybe it was something Max said or the way he said it. “It helps to talk things out.” Shanna remembered her father wanting to do that the last time she’d seen him. He’d been drunk and crying and begging them not to leave.

Oh, Daddy, I wanted to stay, a small voice inside of her struggled to be heard. I wanted to take you with us. But Mama said you didn’t love us anymore. And the music…Mama said we couldn’t give up the music.

“Suit yourself.” Max’s voice broke through her reverie. “Better get some shuteye. Morning’s gonna come mighty quick.”

Shanna didn’t answer. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Max shrug his shoulders and retreat under his weathered hat.

She was thankful for Max’s comments, but she needed to force the unwanted memories back where they belonged. Years ago she had boxed up those hurts, sealed them tight, and buried them in a distant corner of her mind. Sometimes a thought or two would slip out when she let herself get too tired, but she had always been able to deal with them—forcing them back to where they didn’t hurt anymore. But Andrew’s passing seemed to have undone all her hard work and triggered a landslide of feelings and memories.

No, not now. Definitely not now. She had enough to think about with having to go back to Morningsong. Max was right, of course. She’d have to face Joshua eventually. Somehow she needed to gain the courage.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2003

    Music, Murder and Mystery

    By melting the music industry, murder and mystery all into one story, the author had me reading all night to finish this book. It's excellant!

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