I had so much fun last month writing about one of my favorite characters that I decided to do it again. Zane Martin from A LONG WAY FROM EDEN is one of the few true alpha heroes I’ve written. He’s brash, opinionated, and likes to get his own way. When his eighteen year old daughter Erin gets pregnant, he believes she should marry Tom, the father of her child. But Tom’s mother, Meg Evans, believes love is the only good reason to marry:
“I’m here to talk about getting these two kids married as soon as possible.”
She straightened at his words and shook her head. “Married? Not bloody likely.”
When his plan for Erin and Tom to get married and make their child legitimate fails, Zane tries another tactic, one his daughter disapproves of:
“Don’t worry about it?” She bit out the words in a tone he’d never heard her use before, her eyes narrowed and glaring. “You’re threatening to have my boyfriend thrown in jail for rape and I’m not to worry about it?”
“Erin, he has to take responsibility for what he’s done.”
She took a step closer to him, her body shaking and her voice vibrating with anger. “What he’s done? What about what I’ve done, Daddy? I invited him over when I knew you wouldn’t be home and I took him to my room. He told me he didn’t have any condoms with him, but I told him it was okay because I was on the pill.”
Zane’s gut twisted. This was his baby talking.
Zane eventually has to accept that Erin and Tom aren’t ready to marry. But not before he tries to bribe Tom into marrying Erin – another douche-bag move. He’s handling things all wrong, but he has his reasons. He apologizes to Meg and tells her why he’d been so adamant:
“I can’t imagine anything you could tell me that would change the situation.” She pointedly checked her watch.
Zane took a deep breath. “My mother had me when she was eighteen, in a time when pregnant girls gave up their babies for adoption and never spoke of them again. But she didn’t. She raised me herself, supported both of us, and looked after her elderly parents as well. But a lot of people in that small town wouldn’t let either of us forget that I’d been born without benefit of clergy. I don’t want my grandchild to grow up thinking he’s not as good as everyone else. I want him to know his father loves him.”
Her eyes changed, softened, as she looked at him. “I want that too, Mr. Martin. Tom won’t abandon his child and neither will I. He’s my grandchild too, you know.”
Zane’s childhood has made him sensitive to issues about legitimacy just as Meg’s past experience with an unplanned pregnancy convinces her that their children shouldn’t be forced into something that will affect them the rest of their lives.
But behind Zane’s threats and bluster, he only wants to protect his daughter, like he’s done her whole life. He’s fiercely protective of the people he loves. As he begins to care for Meg, he’s overprotective of her, too:
“I’ll get my keys.”
“That’s okay. The bus stop’s not far. You must be tired too, and it won’t take me long to get home.”
“Right. As if I’d let you walk around in the dark and take a bus alone at this time of night.”
She stared at him as if surprised by the forcefulness of his offer. “I’m a big girl, Zane. I can look after myself.”
“I’m sure you can look after yourself just fine. In broad daylight. But after dark is a whole different story.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Don’t patronize me.”
Just the thought of Meg standing alone in the dark at a deserted bus stop gave him the creeps.
Meg eventually discovers Zane’s kindness, and the love he has for his mother and daughter, and for his granddaughter Anna when she arrives:
Baby Anna quieted the moment he picked her up, somehow sensing that he was someone she could trust. Zane felt a rush of love for the tiny bundle in his arms. She was so tiny, smaller than he remembered Erin being at this age, but then Erin hadn’t been premature. He could almost fit Anna into the palm of one of his big hands.
I don’t think there’s anything quite so sexy as a big man brought to his knees by his love for his child. Or grandchild in this case.
Despite his lingering resentment toward the father who was absent his whole life, when he finally meets him, he can’t bring himself to be cruel:
Zane held on tightly to the old man’s hand. In that moment he felt years of anger and resentment melt away. His questions had been answered. His father hadn’t forgotten him.
“Please, don’t cry… Dad.” The word felt foreign on his tongue. “I’ve had a good life. I have a wonderful mother who loves me, a beautiful daughter, and a new granddaughter.” He looked at Meg and she gave him a tremulous smile, a sheen of tears in her eyes. “I have wonderful friends. I wish we could have met earlier, but I’m grateful for the time we have now.”
The old man looked up at him and managed a watery smile. “Thank you, son.”
So that’s Zane Martin. I hope you enjoyed my little introduction!
Zane Martin’s teenage daughter is pregnant. Meg Evan’s son is the baby’s father. Because Zane grew up not knowing who his father was, he’ll be damned if he’ll let his grandchild live with that shame. Meg was forced into an abusive marriage because of an unplanned pregnancy, so she knows that love is the only good reason to marry. Neither Meg nor Zane expects or welcomes the attraction that sparks between them. As they await the impending birth of their grandchild, old wounds open and long hidden family secrets come to light. The young couple builds a newer, stronger relationship, while Meg and Zane reach for a love passionate enough to overcome the past–if they’re strong enough to trust it…and each other.