Win a signed paperback!

Trivia time!

In anticipation of book 22 in a few weeks, I want to give away a signed paperback of Defining Moment before it’s available for purchase.

I will pick a winner from all of the winning answers over the next three days. Each day will have 3 questions to answer.

Today’s questions:

1.) How did Stephanie and Jack find out they were pregnant with Sabrina?

2.) When and where did Tommy first meet John? What was his reaction to meeting someone from Brittany’s past?

3.) How did David first meet Desi?

Please reply to this post with your answers!

Good luck

What is your moment?

Defining moment.

This phrase is a concept I have focused on from day one of writing this series. Can a defining moment change who you are? What if that moment is the worst in your life? What if it’s the best?

How much control do we have over our destiny?

I asked that a lot with Brittany when I developed her character and how she would handle moving forward with her life. I tried to find a balance between her reactions and her expectations. I didn’t want her attack to be always on the minds of those in her life.

I didn’t want her to see herself as a victim.

This idea went with other characters, too.

Tommy and Julie had a defining moment. When their parents died, their lives became forever changed.

But did that mean they couldn’t move forward?

Would that moment always stop them from being truly happy?

Life throws us curveballs all the time. It might be a personal setback or a professional upset. It might be an unexpected romance or a reconnecting of a lost love.

I’ve discovered that our defining moment isn’t always just one.

Sometimes, we redefine ourselves more than once.

Sometimes, that’s the most important part of living.

Back to “Defining Moment”.

This book covers a few major points in our Family by Choice.

We begin with the scare David had, but the knowledge that he is okay will come pretty quickly. Desi is shaken up. Julie thinks all girls are trouble and her son should stay home with her. Bill and Julie both feel that their son is growing into an incredible young man.

David is falling hard for Desi and she feels the same way. It is new and fun and romantic and the issues they have before them are certainly not small.

Desi is healing, and she is happy. It’s important for her to stay in the happiness and not let the doubt creep in. She struggles with that.

David does his best to help her.

Until the cancer comes back.

And Ian and Cassie face a harsh truth.

Desi wasn’t the only one who suffered a life altering moment.

Cassie has been through hell, and her need to protect those around her has led to catastrophic results.

Ian has reached his limit. He has yet to come to terms with all that his daughter has been through, and now his wife is in terrible danger. His defining moment might just cost him everything.

Naomi suffers a defining moment of her own when her life is blown apart by the actions of someone she least expects. Her ability to come to terms with what happens is both heartbreaking and eye opening.

It’s something nobody could see coming.

Tommy and Brittany struggle to find a way to help their daughter.

Stephanie and Jack are dealing with their daughters and the aftermath of Tessa’s surgery and recovery. What has happened to Desi and in a way to David, has struck Sabrina deep within, and she questions a lot about herself and her place in the world.

Will a handsome young man change how she looks at herself?

Bill and Julie also have their hands full when Josie decides she is ready to date.

This doesn’t sit well with anyone- especially David.

But perhaps the biggest moments come from places we don’t expect.

Mike and Jade and Evan and Liz.

Mike and Jade are waiting to welcome their miracle baby and memories of all they have been through are creeping into their lives. Their daughters go off to camp and everything is progressing as it should.

And then an evil from the past resurfaces in a way nobody could see coming.

Evan and Liz are also changing. Things have been good, but Evan worries about how happy his wife truly is. She misses her brother and if he was truthful, so does Evan.

He adores working with Brittany and he knows Kevin is happy living in Michigan, but he wonders if maybe it’s time for a change? Maybe they should move back to LA?

Before they can really discuss things, a threat from their past resurfaces and throws their calm happiness into chaos.

Defining Moment is a continuation of the saga we know as our Family by Choice. It is full of twists and turns and suspense. It is the best of people and the worst of what is out there.

I can’t wait for you to read it. I am attaching a light hearted preview, and at the end, please click on the link to preorder your copy at a reduced rate of $1.99 for a limited time.

Enjoy.

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He walked in and heard Desi before he saw her. She was softly singing to Ophelia and rubbing her back as the pig grunted. David stood mesmerized at the beautiful sound and jumped when she turned to him.

“Are you going to come in and help or just stand there?” she smiled.

Blushing, he walked in.

“I didn’t want to intrude,” he said and walked in. He saw four tiny piglets next to Ophelia, all of them nursing.

“Oh my gosh! Look what you did!” he looked at Ophelia.

She grunted and Desi moved.

“Here comes number five,” she said.

“Wait, right now? Where?”

Desi raised her eyebrows at him.

“Right, I know where. What can I do?”

“Just watch so she doesn’t hurt herself. We really shouldn’t do anything else. She knows what to do.”

David watched in awe as another little piglet squirted out.  Desi picked it up with a towel and rubbed it before placing it down with the others until it latched onto a nipple.

“Another boy,” she smiled.

David was speechless.

“You okay?” she asked.

He just nodded.

“Here is another one,” she said.

David blinked and when the piglet stopped after it was halfway out, he panicked.

“Should we help it? Is it going to be okay? What if it’s being crushed? Why are you so calm?”

Desi looked at him.

“Give me your hand.”

David did and she moved it to Ophelia’s back, applying pressure at a certain point. David was stunned when the little piglet came right out.

“Here, pick it up and rub it,” she handed him a towel.

“No, I mean I shouldn’t. I think I’ll hurt it. What if I hurt it?”

Ophelia squealed and Desi shrugged.

“Another one is coming, so you better move it before it gets crushed.”

David looked at her with fear and picked the tiny pig up.

“It’s a girl! She had a girl!” he grinned.

Desi laughed and nodded.

“Put her over here so she can latch,” she said.

“Huh? Oh, right,” he said and put the pig down.

“It’s not eating. Something is wrong with it. What do we do?” he asked in a panic.

Desi gently moved the baby closer and helped her latch onto the nipple.

“She just needed a little more encouragement.”

David was amazed.

“How do you know all of this?”

Desi smiled as she helped another baby come out.

“It’s the family business,” she said as she rubbed the baby. “Sort of. My dad has taught me a lot and I really love helping. I think it’s a miracle every time we bring a new animal into the world.”

David watched as the piglets nursed and finally, she appeared to be done.

“We thought there were 12, and she has only had 11. Let me get my dad to check.”

“I can go,” David said.

She smiled.

“You babysit. Just don’t let her roll over on any of them.” She walked away and David looked at her.

“Would she do that?”

He sighed and turned back to the babies and Ophelia.

“So you have a big family now,” he said. “I think you will be a really good mom. I think I should have a talk with Hamlet, too. He should be involved. I saw him earlier and he’s just eating and lounging. That’s not fair. He should have to help you. He should want to help you. He has 11 little children who need their father. How is that okay?”

“Um, are you done with the pep talk?” Ian asked as he and Desi stood there, smiling.

David scrambled to his feet.

“I was just, um, well,” he sighed.

“You were just being adorable,” Desi said and stood next to him as her dad went to check Ophelia.

David grinned and watched.

“Desi, we have a code P.”

She nodded and turned to get the supplies.

“What’s that? What’s a code P? What are you doing?” David asked. “Should I do something?”

“The baby is trapped in the birth canal,” she said as she rushed back with a bunch of supplies. She got a long glove for her father and a bunch of lube and she looked at David.

“Put the babies in the basket, quickly. Ophelia may struggle and we don’t want them to get hurt.”

He nodded and quickly picked up each piglet and placed it in the warm basket. They squealed in anger at being removed from nursing, but David tried to quiet them.

“Move away,” Ian said and David did, his eyes wide as Ian stuck his hand where David didn’t think he should and Ophelia squealed at the obstruction.

Desi went to help her dad and David turned the basket so the babies couldn’t see.

“It’s okay. Your mom is going to be fine,” he said and softy pet each piglet.  He turned to see Desi standing there with another piglet.

“All done.”

“You got it? Is it okay?”

“He’s just fine,” she smiled.

Ian cleaned up and smiled at them as he walked out.

“Let’s put them back with her,” she said and David handed her each baby.

“She only had one girl,” Desi said. “That’s really unusual.”

“She won’t eat,” he said.

Desi tried and couldn’t get her to latch.

“We can bottle feed her,” she said. “Hold her and keep her warm and I’ll be right back.”

David nodded and held the little piglet to his shirt.

“Don’t worry little girl,” he said. “Desi will help you.”

“Here, give her this,” Desi said and handed him a bottle.

“Me? No, you do it.”

“Nope. I need to clean up. Besides, you held her first, so you’re her mom now.”

David blinked and Desi laughed.  “I’m kidding. Just feed her for a minute.”

He held the bottle and the little pig hungrily latched on.  Desi finished cleaning and turned to see David rocking the pig in his arms. He was talking softly and she thought it was the most amazing thing she had ever seen. He looked at her and her expression changed.

Was he crying?

“David? What’s wrong?”

He sniffed and looked at her.

“I love bacon. I have bacon almost every day.”

She stifled a laugh.

“That’s okay.”

“No it’s not. How can I ever eat bacon again? What will my life look like without bacon?” he said and the little pig squealed softly.

Desi walked over and took the little pig from him, placing her with her brothers.

“My mom and dad and I all eat meat. We aren’t vegetarians.”

“But how can I eat bacon after seeing what I just saw?”

She shrugged.

“Just take it one day at a time. Maybe next time you get a pizza, you don’t eat pepperoni.”

His face took on a stricken look.

“Oh my God. Everything is bacon, isn’t it? What am I going to do?”

Desi giggled as they walked back to join the rest of the group.

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World A.I.D.S Day

This was my post from last year on this day. I wanted to write something new, but I feel it really speaks to my feelings about what World AIDS Day means to me. I hope you will take a minute to read it again, or maybe for the first time. I also hope you share what you’ve learned by reading about Brittany. Her story is fictional, but her struggles are real. Please don’t forget that. Please help find a cure.

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To be honest, when I first decided to make Brittany HIV positive, I never anticipated the feedback I would get-both positive and negative. My motives were actually pretty simple. I wanted to show a character who had been through hell and had overcome.

Making Brittany HIV positive brought a lot of layers to the character that I have uncovered as the series has gone on. The stigma of this disease has been something I worked very hard at debunking and the lessons readers have taken from reading about her story has been an unexpected bonus.

I didn’t want Brittany to be the poster child for living with HIV just as I didn’t want Stephanie to be the example of someone with Multiple Sclerosis. What I did want to do was show strong women who dealt with the life they were given.

That doesn’t mean I don’t look for ways to push the envelope and ways to educate. I talk about Brittany to my students when they make a comment about HIV or AIDS. They are always surprised when I tell them the main character of my romance series is HIV positive.

It’s unusual. It’s challenging.

It’s who she is.

I have had so much help when it comes to writing Brittany as medically accurate as I can. Obviously, the story is fiction, and much of what happens to her is way over the top. I know that. It’s part of my need to show her strength by putting her through so many obstacles.

Brittany being HIV positive is also a huge part of Tommy. I have always tried to make his reactions realistic and not always perfect. He is a doctor, and that helps, but he is also a man deeply in love with someone who deals with this on a daily basis.

I am always saddened when I have people tell me that they can’t really get behind a romantic heroine who is HIV positive. It’s too unrealistic. It’s too different.

I have to disagree.

We are all fighting battles within. Some of us have can hide it better than others, but we all bring baggage to each and every relationship we form.

Brittany’s is just more out in the open.

On this World AIDS Day, I wanted to share one of my favorite moments from early in “If Only” when Brittany spoke about her disease. It’s something that inspires me and I hope, as each day passes and more and more research is done, one day we will no longer have AIDS.

One day we will find a cure.

It will happen.

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“Can I come in?” Tommy asked Brittany as he stood in the doorway to her office. She was completing some paperwork and looked swamped. She lifted her eyes to see him and smiled. “Hi, of course. Did you talk to Julie yet?” she had been thinking about him most of the day, but one thing had led to another and she was worn down about the whole day.

“Nothing new to report with Julie,” he sighed. “Look, I want to apologize to you if you’ll let me,” Tommy began and she looked him in the eye.

“About what?” Brittany asked.

He came in and sat down across the desk from Brittany. “I need to ask you something and I would understand if you didn’t want to answer.”

“Okay, I’m intrigued, but a little nervous,” Brittany smiled at him.

“Why did you decide to become a doctor?” he asked her.

She was a little taken aback. “What do you mean? Why does anyone become a doctor? They want to help people, make the world a better place, all of the clichéd answers,” she narrowed her eyes at him and saw him look away a little. “That’s not what you meant to ask me, is it. Go on; ask what you really want to know,” she spoke with a challenging tone.

Tommy met her stare. “Why did you choose a profession where you would have to tell people about your condition every day? I get wanting to help people, but being an OBGYN, well it doesn’t get more hands-on than that. Doesn’t it bother you to have to explain yourself to everyone?”

Brittany sighed. “Sure it does,” she stood up and walked around the desk to the couch. She sat down and looked at him. “We haven’t known each other for very long, but you seem to strike me as someone with integrity and vision. You have been through something terrible with the loss of your parents and you took it upon yourself to raise your sister and go to medical school and create a life that has meaning and purpose. Why didn’t you just give up?”

He moved to the other end of the couch. “My situation is different.”

“Not really,” she said. “When you meet people, do you have to tell them about your personal issues before treating them? No, but you bring that baggage with you. In every relationship you build, in every patient you treat, in every consult you take, your past is with you. Your experiences have made you the man you are today and you bring those experiences with you to the office just like I do. I hate that I am HIV positive. I hate that I have to tell everyone. I hate that I met a man who I truly enjoy being around and I know in my heart that it can never be anything more. I hate that people are still scared of being infected by being in my presence. I hate that the woman in the ER has a good chance that her baby will have complications because she had to wait for another doctor,” she felt a tear come to her eye. “But do you know what I hate even more?”

“No,” he said, choked up.

“I hate that I have no control over any of that. I can’t control people’s fears, and I am not sure I would want to. It saddens me that when you look at me you see my HIV. It hurts me that when that couple looked at me, they saw a disease, and not a doctor. I can’t control any of that. But do you know what I can do?” she smiled. “I can give Jack and Stephanie the option of a family. I can help the woman who is scared her life is over because of mistakes in her past. I can show the world that I am so much more than my disease and although I may have to shout it from the rooftops before every procedure, I am in a place where I can still do that procedure. I am so thankful that I have opportunities and abilities, and I will not waste another minute feeling sorry for myself. I have done that enough for one lifetime.”

Tommy felt weird. He tried to process everything he had heard. He felt like he wanted to pull her to him and feel her lips on his. He wanted to make it better, but he didn’t know how. He felt powerless to say or do anything. He just stared at her. He opened his mouth to speak, but felt like he had a frog in his throat. “I have to go, sorry,” he stood up and left her alone, staring after him.

Brittany leaned back into the couch. “And there it is. Brittany 0, disease 7015,” she stood up and walked back to her desk. She couldn’t care about this, about him. She just had to do what she always does, move on.

********

Tommy had the weight of the world on his shoulders. He paced in his office as he went over his colossal failure in Brittany’s office. Two things she had said kept running through his mind. I hate that I met a man who I truly enjoy being around and I know in my heart that it can never be anything more. That’s what she said, and more importantly, she said it saddens me that when you look at me you see my HIV. He was a jumble of thoughts and nerves and he felt like he wanted to punch the wall. No one had ever had the power to make him feel like this. He was scared and excited and angry with himself. He ran his hand through his hair and turned to walk out of his office, he had to do something.

*******

Brittany looked at her watch and realized she had a few more hours before Stephanie’s procedure. She sat down and pulled her long hair up into a ponytail. She took out her lunch and put her iPod in the dock next to her desk. She found the song she liked and began to eat her sandwich and read her magazine. She looked up as her door opened.

Tommy walked in and closed the door. He stood before her, out of breath. Brittany was beyond startled. “Just listen before you throw me out,” he said. “You said your piece and now I need to tell you something,” he spoke fast and with an intensity that surprised even him. “You have to cut me some slack. You can’t be here, at this hospital, and dictate how I react to you. You are irritating and confusing and you make me crazy,” he sat down on her couch and continued. “But you are also wrong. You think I look at you and see your HIV. You think you aren’t able to have a relationship. But you have convinced yourself of this without giving me or anyone else a chance. I am infuriated that some jackass would question your ability to be a doctor. It infuriates me that you just let it happen. I get that this is your issue, but really, it isn’t going to change if the only people who fight against prejudice are those directly affected by it. You didn’t choose to be attacked, you didn’t choose to contract HIV, yet you are alone with the consequences and it isn’t fair. I also don’t know why I care. I don’t know why you get to me and I don’t know how to get through to you. I’m sorry if I didn’t react the way I should have, but I don’t know what’s the right thing to do,” Tommy stopped and sighed. He realized the extent of his rant and turned to look at her.

Brittany sat in silence and wiped the tears, which had fallen down her cheeks. She stood up from her desk and walked over to him. She knelt in front of him and took his hands in hers. “You have nothing to be sorry about. You are right to feel the way you do and I am sorry I gave you the wrong impression about how you need to react. In case you haven’t noticed, I am not the best at expressing my feelings. I think it has been a long few days for you and I think you are on overload,” she stood up and he felt her break their connection. “Look, I am not the one to get involved with. You have so much to offer, Tommy, you need to leave me and go live your life. I am not your problem to fix and I don’t need to be rescued. I am happy with my life,” she lied

Tommy stood up and nodded. “Okay. I get it,” he turned and walked to the door. “But I don’t think you’re happy, and neither am I,” he said and left the office, leaving her alone again.

Introducing… Defining Moment

Click the image to preorder for your kindle at a special price of $1.99

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Are you ready for book 22?

Cover and title reveal for book 22 will be tomorrow night! Get ready for another sneak preview and a look inside the making of the next arc.

The sales are still in effect! Enjoy and see you tomorrow night!

Cyber Monday sales!

More deals coming your way! Please click the image below to pick up your free copy of Broken and If Only. All of my other books are still $0.99 for another few days.

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Long time no post

I am so sorry it’s been so long since we’ve talked. I have had a lot going on in my life, and unfortunately, that cut into my blogging time. I hope to get back to talking with all of you on a more regular basis.

So, what did you think of Shattered? I know it was very different from what I usually write, but I also felt it was incredibly important to take the characters on this journey.

I also hope you’re loving Desi, Ian and Cassie as much as I do. They will continue to be an important part of the journey moving forward.

I will be back soon with more, but until then, here is a sneak peek at the beginning of book 22.

*******

Chapter One:

Everyone had been briefed about David and they were all waiting for him to wake up. Stephanie had wheeled Tessa down to sit with everyone and Mike and Jade had come by as well. Evan was there, too, watching over everyone. Bill and Julie were with David in the room, as was Josie.

Ian was looking at his phone and walked over to Brittany.

“Excuse me, but do you know if Cassie made it to her appointment? I have been trying to reach her, but she isn’t answering. I know she should have been done by now.”

“She was there,” Brittany said and hesitated. “There were a few more things we needed to talk about, but she left. I haven’t seen her since then. It’s possible she went to the roof for some air.”

“Was everything okay?” Ian asked worriedly.

“I can’t tell you anything, Ian, I’m sorry. Maybe you should head up to the roof and see if she’s there?”

He nodded and went back to Desi.

“What’s wrong? Is mom okay?” Desi asked. She had been quiet since they had been there and he knew she was beating herself up.

“I think she went to the roof for some air. Should we go up and see if she needs us?”

“I don’t want to leave. You should go, I’ll be fine,” she said.

“Desi, I’m not leaving you alone,” he said.

“She’s not alone,” Evan said. “We’re all here and we will make sure she’s okay.”

Desi nodded and looked at her dad.

“I’m okay. Please go find mom.”

He kissed her head and hesitated, but then left.

“He’s worried about me,” Desi said as Evan sat down next to her.

“He’s a dad. It goes with the territory,” he smiled.

Desi smiled behind her mask and looked at him.

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“I heard what you and your wife did for me and I didn’t expect that. I appreciate it. Thank you.”

Evan shrugged and looked at his hands.

“I just don’t think it will help,” he sighed.

“It helped me. You did something for me and that means a lot, so thank you.”

Evan smiled.

“You deserve to feel safe.”

Desi sighed and nodded, waiting to see David.

******

Brittany looked over as Ian left and she hoped Cassie was on the roof. She was worried and wasn’t sure what she should do.

“Hey, what’s going on?” Tommy asked her.

“I just hope Ian finds his wife,” she said.

He didn’t know what was going on, but they all looked up as Bill came back out.

“He woke up. He’s going to be okay.”

There was a collective sigh of relief and Sabrina stood up.

“Can I see him?”

Bill smiled at her and nodded.

“Of course. You can all come back in.”

Jack wheeled Tessa while Stephanie, Bee, Tommy and Naomi walked back.

“I’ll be right there,” Brittany said as she walked over to Jade and Mike.

“We’ll wait for the next group,” Mike said with a smile and Bill nodded.

“Cassie is in trouble. She needs surgery and she went to the roof to think, at least I hope that’s where she went. Ian went to find her, but they aren’t back yet.”

“We’ll go try and find them,” Mike said. “Go see David and we’ll let you know.”

“Thank you,” Brittany said and went to see David while Mike and Jade left.

“Do you want to go in?” Evan asked Desi.

“Oh, not right now,” she said softly. “I’m not family. I’ll just sit here.”

Evan knew how much David liked Desi, but if she didn’t want to go in, he would just sit with her.

*******

Ian walked up onto the roof and checked his phone again. He was worried, but also angry. How could she ignore his calls?

He knew there was more going on than what she told him. He also worried she might be suffering from some issues just being home.

He looked around the empty area and saw her sitting on a bench by the wall.

“Cassie?” he said as he walked up to her. “What’s going on?”

She looked at him and he thought she looked both pasty and feverish. There was little spark to her eyes at all.

“Ian? What are you doing here?” she asked.

“Don’t you have your phone? Didn’t you see I called you five times? How could you ignore me like that? Our daughter is so sick and you don’t answer my calls?” he didn’t mean to yell, but he was confused and worried and annoyed.

“Is she okay? Did something happen?” Cassie tried to keep focus, but her head was foggy.

“She was brought in with David who was knocked unconscious by a tree branch that fell at the farm. She is terrified and once again she needs her mom, who is here in town, but can’t be bothered to answer the phone. What is going on with you?”

“Oh no,” she said. “I’m sorry. Let’s go to her. Let me go tell her I’m sorry,” she said and went to get up but sat back down.

“Cass? What’s wrong? What is happening?” Ian asked as he held her face in his hands.

“I’m so sorry. I wasn’t totally honest with you. I was really stupid and now I need surgery. I’m so sorry Ian. There is a really bad infection and they need to do a partial hysterectomy before it’s too late.”

“What? How could you not tell me? Why are you insisting on doing everything alone? Desi needs you. I need you. We’ve been alone for so long, Cass. How come you are treating me this way?”

“I just messed everything up. I’m sorry. I’ll go back to the room and get checked in so this can be taken care of. You should go home.”

“I should go home? Are you fucking kidding me? You are my wife and I am not your subordinate. You don’t get to tell me what to do when it comes to this. I love you and I am not leaving you.”

“Hey, what’s going on up here? We could hear you all the way up,” Mike said as he and Jade walked to them.

“Cassie? What’s going on?” Jade asked as she walked to her and checked her pulse.

“What’s going on is that she acts like I’m not important and I can’t take it. I’m not an idiot. I need to be a part of this marriage!”

Mike took his arm and walked him away from the women.

“You need to chill the fuck out,” Mike said. “Cassie is in trouble and probably suffering from a hell of a lot more than a physical issue. You screaming at her is about you and not her. I understand you’re scared, but put it away and support your wife. If you can’t do that, then she’s right. Go home.”

Ian watched as more people came up with a gurney and helped Cassie onto it before Jade led them out.

“I need to go with her. I need to get my daughter and we need to be with her,” he said.

Mike stood there and crossed his arms.

“Is that right? How about before you head down there to yell at her some more, you listen to someone who’s been there? Maybe you can get out of your own pain and try to see what she’s dealing with first.”

Ian had no patience for this. He had no time for this.

“We aren’t you and your wife. Leave me alone,” he said.

“You’re damn right. My wife fought for me. She stood by my side when I was a shell of the man who left. She cared for our twin daughters while enduring a heart transplant. I wouldn’t insult her by telling you that you’re like her. Right now, all you are is a coward.”

Ian stood up and faced him.

“You better watch yourself,” he said.

“Or what? You tell me what you want to do and we’ll do it. You want to fight? I’m ready. You want to talk? I’m listening. You want to act like a baby, then just keep doing what you’re doing.”

Ian felt the rage which had been building inside of him come to a boiling point. There was only one person standing there ready to take it.

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I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Three more days

I can’t wait until Friday for everyone to read “Shattered”.

This book has been a different kind of journey for me. As with each of the books in the series, every member of the family is involved, but there is usually one character or family who is front and center.

“Shattered” is different.

Obviously, it begins as Desi’s story, but it’s also David’s story and therefore it becomes Bill and Julie’s story, too. They have the task of helping their son try to make sense of something incomprehensible. David is lost and angry and sad. He is looking for answers that aren’t there.

Then it becomes Brittany’s story as she deals with the memories of her own attack and focuses on being the one person Desi can truly confide in.

Tommy has been Desi’s doctor and his connection to her has already been established. Watching a patient he cares for go through something he also has a deep personal connection to will undoubtedly cause him to reevaluate things.

It could have been Sabrina.

This fact rocks Jack and Stephanie to the core and they try to help Bee handle the position she finds herself in. She has lost her best friend in David and she has put her trust in the wrong people. The effect Desi’s attack has on Sabrina is deep and powerful and she will need the help of her family to get through everything.

Ian and Cassie.

I think I am most proud of this new couple. It’s hard to introduce a new family into an established group of characters, but I needed someone who could stand up to the strength of the core families and add a new element or dynamic to the group.

I wanted to show a woman who was in a position of power in the military and a father who was keeping the home going in her absence. I wanted to establish their love and connection to their daughter and to each other, and I needed them to matter to my readers.

We don’t always connect when something bad happens to someone who doesn’t mean anything to us yet. We feel badly, of course, but there isn’t the level of buy in that we have when it’s a character we have grown to love.

I needed you to love Desi. I needed you to care about her.

Because I know Desi.

I care about Desi and I want all of the Desi’s out there to feel  hope. That matters to me.

“Shattered” begins with the aftermath of an assault, but it’s so much more than that. It is a story of survival. It is a story of life and it is full of hope, love and romance.

Desi is more than this moment. She is fun and smart and feisty and beautiful. She is strong and resilient and she really wants to be someone. She adores her father and misses her mother and she deserves to be known for all of that, and not just one moment.

That’s my job as a writer. I need to show you what I see. I need to bring her to life.

I truly hope I can do that.

In the meantime, please enjoy a scene between Ian and Cassie soon after she comes home.

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Ian sighed as he sat down on the bed. They had a nice dinner and talked about the little things that happened in the last year. They really didn’t focus on anything of substance and after they ate, Desi was exhausted. Cassie was sitting with her for a bit while she tried to go to bed in her room and he went to clean up their bedroom. He had changed the sheets and picked up a few shirts that were on the floor. He felt like he had messed everything up. She hadn’t been home in a year and he had done nothing to celebrate her return.

He acted like he wasn’t even glad she was home and that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

He took the clothes from the chair and went to hang them back up in the closet. At least his family was home. At least he wasn’t feeling so weak anymore.

But now what? Would she feel comfortable with him? Should they just pick up where they left off? Would she want him to be with her?

“Ian?”

He jumped and turned around, seeing Cassie standing there in a black jumpsuit, her long blonde hair full and wavy over her shoulders. She had on a touch of lipstick and she was absolutely stunning.

“Did I scare you? I’m sorry,” she said as she walked closer.

He was literally speechless and he saw her look worried.

“Desi finally fell asleep and I wanted to surprise you. I know it isn’t much, but I wanted you to see me out of my fatigues and sweats. I guess I needed to get them off for me, too. I haven’t been able to do anything for you since I’ve been home and I wanted to have some time to just be with you and maybe talk a little? Is that okay?” she asked, her nerves getting the best of her.

“Will you please say something?”

Ian walked to her and smiled.

“You look absolutely stunning.”

“Oh, thanks. I know I took a shower earlier but just threw on some sweats,” she said and walked to sit on the bed. “I kept finding sand all over. I think there still might be some in my hair. I scrubbed it three times,” she smiled.

He smiled and took her hand as he sat down.

“Are you doing okay?”

She looked surprised.

“Me? I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“Why do you keep asking me that? I’m fine.”

He looked at his hands.

“Things have felt different since you came home. I mean I know it’s because of everything you came home to, but I worry maybe you aren’t happy to be with me,” he said. “Maybe things have changed?”

She stood up and paced, all of her fears flowing out.

“There’s someone else, isn’t there? I knew it when you spoke to me on the phone. I couldn’t believe you hung up on me and I assumed it was all about Desi, but then I wondered if maybe you just moved on. Maybe you couldn’t tell me. Is that it? Are you leaving me?” she asked with fear in her eyes.

“Wait, what? Seriously? You think I would cheat on you? You honestly believe there is someone else?” he asked as he stood up.

“I don’t know why you won’t touch me,” she said brokenly. “You are keeping your distance and I can’t take it. It’s been almost a year and I miss everything about you. I miss your arms around me and your hands on my body. I miss your beautiful legs and your sensual touch and I miss being taken care of. I have been on guard for the past year. I’ve been shot at and hurt and alone and scared and all I ever wanted was to be here with you. I ache for you and I’m afraid that’s gone. I need to know the truth. I need to know if you want me to leave.”

“No,” he said as he walked to her. “No. I don’t want you to leave. I love you and I have always loved you. There could never be anyone else for me because you are my heart. You are every part of my life and I haven’t been able to take a breath without missing you. I’m hesitant because I’m scared.”

She walked closer and took his hand in hers, needing to be sure.

“Of what?”

“If I touch you, if I start, I don’t know if I can stop. I want you and if you aren’t ready, or are unsure, I’ll wait. I just want you to be happy.”

“I want you. I want to reconnect and forget everything but our love. God Ian, it’s been a year since we’ve been together. I have been waiting to be with you. I don’t want to wait anymore.”

He moved to press her against the wall as his mouth captured hers and he inhaled the smell of rose petals from her shampoo. He held her hands up over her head and she groaned as his tongue explored the warmth of her mouth.

Cassie lifted her leg to hook around his thigh and felt his arousal press against her middle. She loved when he took control and she ached to feel him with her. He was always such a passionate lover and it was a side of him she knew was just for her.

His hands moved down her arms as she held them up and he ran his fingers through her long hair.

“Turn around,” he said softly.

She did and he slowly unzipped her jumpsuit, letting the material pool on the floor around her feet. She stood there in her underwear and Ian stepped back, admiring her.

She turned around and his face immediately changed.

“What happened?” he asked, all pretense gone as he leaned in to examine her side which had a huge gash that was obviously still healing.

Shit. She forgot about that.

“Oh, it’s nothing,” she said and picked up her clothes, covering the spot by her side.

“It’s not nothing. What happened?” he asked as he took her clothes.

“It was a bullet graze, nothing special.”

“You were shot? When did it happen? Why didn’t they let me know?”

She sat down on the bed and her tears came.

“Please don’t let this ruin things,” she said. “I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to stay there, Ian. I want to be here with you and I just want to be your lover and your wife. I don’t want to go back there. Not tonight.”

Ian shook his head as he knelt in front of her.

“I need for you to look at me,” he said as he held her cheek in his hand. “I want to know that you’re okay. You don’t have to hide anything from me. I want to help you. I want to know what you’re dealing with. You don’t need to tell me what you can’t, but please let me know that you were taken care of. I will not sit back and wonder if your health is okay. I’m a doctor, Cass. I can take it.”

“You’re a large animal vet. I am not debating how I am different from a cow again.”

He grinned at her.

“You did give birth in a barn,” he teased.

She laughed and then sighed.

“We took on fire at a heavy insurgent area. One of the vehicles we were following hit an IED and exploded. We were able to get away, but some of my regiment was hit. We made it back to base and I saw the medic because of a graze wound. I took some stitches and was fine. I was lucky. Others weren’t. We lost two men that night and I’m still not sure about the regiment in the convoy ahead of us.”

He looked at her side.

“How many stitches? When was this?”

“A dozen. It was a week and a half ago.”

He sat back and sighed.

“Ian, look at me. I’m fine. I’m a tough woman and I can take it. I am home now and I won’t be going back. It’s time to get back to living our lives and making sure our daughter heals both physically and emotionally. What I want is for you to be able to look at me and know I love you and I came home. I need you. I don’t need you to worry about me, but I need you to take care of me. I missed that. I love that when we’re together, I can be a woman and not a Sergeant. I love that you kill the spiders and lock the doors and protect me from all harm. I just want to be with my hero. He has always and forever been you.”

“Spiders actually serve a very important purpose for the ecosystem,” he said and then grinned as she rolled her eyes.

“Nothing with no legs or more than four deserves to live in my house,” she said.

“Is that a fact?” he grinned. “Desi didn’t tell you about the snake we adopted?”

She jumped up and her face lost all color.

“She didn’t. You wouldn’t,” she said.

“We didn’t,” he laughed. “Just teasing.”

“Not funny. That is not funny!” she said and crossed her arms.

“It was a little funny,” he said as he walked closer to her.

“No it wasn’t,” she pouted.

He wrapped his large hands around her slim waist and pulled her to him.

“What can I do to make it up to you?”

She stepped back.

“You can get naked.”

He watched as she went and sat on the bed, watching him.

He unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it off before he held her gaze as he unzipped his pants and pulled them off. He took off his socks and stood in his underwear.

“I said naked,” she said as she bit her lip.

“But you’re wearing your underwear,” he pouted.

She looked at him.

“Naked.”

He pulled his boxers off and stood there, waiting.

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