Happy U.S. Independence Day
Welcome to When Sparks Fly Blog Hop!
Because I write about active duty U.S. Marines who have, or are serving in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, my editor and I decided that July 4th would be a perfect release day for my latest title. The Final Line is the third in my series, The Recon Diaries.
Staff Sergeant Corey Yarwood is an instructor at the Basic Reconnaissance Course. His last deployment ended in horror, but he can’t remember those events. Battling severe PTSD, Corey’s drinking is growing out of control.
Sean Chandler walks into a dive bar, and into Corey’s life. An actor and a musician, Sean has the empathy and compassion to sooth Corey’s pain, and the strength to support him as he struggles to heal.
Corey’s lost memories are pivotal to a civilian murder, and a military investigation. Remembering could mean salvation, or destruction. Will the truth be too much for Sean to handle?
Whatever my feelings on war itself, all service personnel believe in what they’re doing. They are warriors, with ancient souls that need to fight for something, to fight against something, to serve and to protect. They give of themselves, their bodies, their piece of mind, and sometimes their lives. None of them come home the same. Most don’t come home completely intact. But few would change anything, if they had it to do over.
I chose to write about U.S. Marines because I grew up in San Diego. There are Navy and Marine bases everywhere. The personnel live, and their families work and go to school all through the county. I’m well acquainted with them. I was very close to my maternal grandfather, who was an original member of 3rd Recon when it was formed in WWII. I understand and admire the Marines for their loyalty, honor, their skills and their sacrifice. And this is why I write about them falling in love and getting their happy endings.
“The Marines I have seen around the world have the cleanest bodies, the filthiest minds, the highest morale, and the lowest morals of any group of animals I have ever seen. Thank God for the United States Marine Corps!”
The Final Line is about Staff Sergeant Corey Yarwood. Corey is home from Afghanistan and has a very bad case of PTS. It’s not as bad as some, but it’s enough to interfere with his life and to put him on shaky ground. The Final Line is about Corey’s struggle to conquer his symptoms, while he works to keep his life from spiraling out of control. It’s a realistic representation of what veterans face each and every day. Some cases are so severe as to be debilitating. It’s fundamentally unjust for something like this to affect men and women who would give their lives for the freedoms and liberty that all of us enjoy.
Excerpt – The Final Line:
The corridor was dim, lit only by the single bulb on the upper landing. Sean leaned against the door, on the other side of the small window, mirroring Corey. Moonlight streamed in, cutting through some of the darkness, and bathing Sean’s prominent features in silver and shadow.
Corey’s chest tightened painfully and he stopped breathing. Sean was so fucking beautiful. The moonlight caught the highlights in his light brown hair. His eyelashes looked longer and darker in the dimness and they swept softly against his cheeks as he looked down at his own feet. His sharp cheekbones cast dark shadows and his hazel eyes were so pale they were luminous. Sean’s damned upturned nose that drove Corey fucking mad, was even more pronounced in the soft light. Corey’s eyes locked on Sean’s full, shapely mouth. The bow shape of his upper lip and the poutiness of his lower lip were enticing. They looked so soft and warm and Corey ached to just lean in and kiss Sean.
“So, I realized that I don’t even have your number,” Sean said, just above a whisper. He held his cell phone in his hand, thumb hovering.
Corey thought about it and realized Sean was right. Because he’d known where to find Sean this weekend, it hadn’t occurred to Corey to get his number.
“Unless you don’t want to exchange numbers?” Sean spoke softly but Corey could hear his disappointment like a forty-mike-mike.
“No! I mean, yes. Shit.” Corey hastily pulled his phone from his pocket. “I was just trying to figure out how that had happened at all,” he muttered. “I’d have been really pissed when I got home.”
Sean chuckled as he keyed in the numbers Corey rattled off. Corey thumbed in Sean’s number and paused when he went to type his name. “How do you spell Sean?” Realizing what he’d asked, Corey added hastily, “I mean, I know how to spell Sean but how do you spell it?”
When Sean laughed, his eyes crinkled and his wide smile made Corey feel like he’d been punched in the gut. His laughter was low and husky, both delighted and mischievous. Sean gave the traditional spelling of his name, the one Corey had always liked because it was simple and uncomplicated.
“C-o-r-e-y?” Sean asked.
“Yep. Simple and no frills,” Corey replied.
“To the point, with no extraneous bullshit,” said Sean.
Corey couldn’t help but smile.
They stood, shoulders against the door, staring at one another in silence. Sean’s eyes grew wide and his expression serious. He took one slow step forward until he was right in front of Corey.
Corey stood frozen, his eyes roaming over Sean’s handsome face, taking in his smooth, tan skin and the heat just beginning to smolder in his eyes. He caught the scent of Sean’s cologne and had to bite back a moan, it smelled so good.
Slowly, Sean lifted both hands, palms out. He stood, letting Corey understand his intentions. Corey shifted to lean back against the door, silently consenting for Sean to touch him. Sean stepped close enough that Corey could feel the heat of his body all along the length of his own. Gently, he placed his palms on Corey’s chest. He stood patiently, as if awaiting Corey’s reaction.
With his back to the door, Corey stood unmoving, feeling scalded by the heat of Sean’s hands through his shirt. He was trapped by Sean’s eyes, staring directly into his, unblinking. He was sharply aware of Sean’s hands running slowly down his chest and over his stomach. Sean’s lips parted as he held Corey’s gaze steadily.
Corey’s own lips parted as he breathed heavily, wondering where Sean’s hands were going to wander to next. His heart was pounding and he knew Sean had to be able to feel it as he slid his palms over Corey’s chest again. A quiet sound escaped Corey as Sean’s hands curled up over his shoulders and skimmed down his arms. He hadn’t been touched like this in so long.
One of Sean’s hands dropped down to Corey’s hip and panic flared in his chest. As much as he wanted to press himself against Sean’s firm, muscular body, he knew Sean would feel his lack of reaction and take it the wrong way. To Corey’s relief, Sean didn’t bring them in closer. He slid his other hand behind Corey’s neck and cradled his head.
Corey glanced down at Sean’s wet, red lips. He felt the urge to push forward and taste Sean’s mouth, but he held back. Sean was driving this between them so Corey waited to see where he would take them.
When he finally did lean in, Sean didn’t press their mouths together. Instead, he rested his forehead against Corey’s. Sean’s hazel eyes held so much heat they nearly glowed. He seemed able to look right into Corey and see all the secrets he tried to keep hidden. Corey had never experienced anything like this.
I’m giving away an e-book copy of The Final Line, but I would like to ask everyone a favor: listed below are some legitimate organizations that are working to provide services to active and retired military personnel who have received either physical or emotional damage in combat. If you could see your way clear to make a small donation to one of them, in honor of U.S. Independence day, it would be greatly appreciated.
WIN AN E-BOOK COPY OF
THE FINAL LINE