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.
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?
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.
“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.
He pulled his boxers off and stood there, waiting.
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