A preview of Strength

Strength is about a lot of things. First and foremost, it’s about Julie and her fight for survival. It’s about David and his ties to Desi and his fear for her health. It’s about Sabrina finding her way amidst the mess of her social life.

It’s about Stephanie and Jack dealing with her pregnancy and all that comes with bringing a new child into the world.

It’s also about the strength of spirit and survival for Tommy.

Other than what happened to Brittany years ago, I have never put a character through the length of torture that I just had Tommy go through. It was sudden, vicious and completely unexpected.

It has left him and his entire family reeling and the life they knew will never be the same.

This preview deals with Tommy as he begins to come to terms with all he has been through, and for the first time in his life, he is unable to proceed without help.

For Tommy, that is the most vulnerable he has ever been.

It’s heartbreaking for him to face the truth.

He realizes that continuing with the life and job he worked so hard for may be out of his control.

His strength is tested.

So is his will.

Introducing, Strength.

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Tommy sat in the chair in the shower and slowly pulled his gown off.

His right hand was pretty much useless and he fought back his fear about that.

The bandages were removed from his legs, and all that was there was the black stitching covered by waterproof see through strips.

“You think you can escape? You think tying you up is the worst I can do?” Paul said as he pulled out the barbed wire.You know nothing about what I have planned. You have no idea the punishment I want you to endure.”

Memories flooded his mind as he recalled moments in captivity.

“What the hell are you doing? You’re a sick freak!” Tommy said. 

“You have a sister. What would you do if someone she loved destroyed her? Took her away from you? Don’t tell me you wouldn’t do the same thing, you judgmental prick.”

Tommy looked at the wire and felt a sweat break out over his brow. “

What do you think will happen if I shock you with wire in your legs?” Paul asked as he tightened Tommy’s hands before he threw the wire over his thighs. 

Tommy sucked in his breath as the pain radiated through his body. The wire sank into his flesh, ripping through his pants and tearing his skin. 

Paul wrapped the ends of the wire and pulled it taut, causing Tommy to almost black out. 

“Not going to cry? Strong guy, huh?” Paul grinned. 

“Fuck you,” Tommy said, fighting to stay alert. He could feel his pants soaking with blood. “Fuck you and your piece of shit sister.”

Paul took the taser and looked at him. 

“Electricity travels through metal, right?” he said. “Wonder if your heart will explode again. You’re a doctor, what can I expect? Will it be painful?”

Tommy tried to move, but it was useless. He felt the wires deep in his flesh and he knew he could do nothing to stop this. 

He prayed Naomi had gotten to safety. 

He prayed his wife knew how much he loved her. 

The voltage ripped through his body and he blacked out.

Tommy ran his fingers over the bandages and tried to stop the memories.

His legs had almost been severed. He knew that. He also knew how hard it must have been for Jack to see him like that.

His wife saw him, too.

And Naomi…

“Tommy?” he heard a knock on the bathroom door.

It was Brittany.

Why couldn’t he respond?

“Can I come in?”

He moved a little and felt a pain in his side.

Burns.

His side had burn marks from the fucking taser.

He felt the voltage.

He felt the pain.

He felt the fear.

He shivered in the cool air.

How long had he been sitting there?

There were hands on him and he jumped, falling off the chair.

“It’s just me,” Brittany said as she knelt on the floor of the shower with him. “Tommy? It’s okay, I was just worried.”

He blinked and looked at her.

“Red? What happened? Am I naked? I need to cover up,” he said then looked at the floor. “I’m going to be sick.”

She grabbed a bin and he held it, taking a few deep breaths while she grabbed a cool washcloth.

“I’m okay,” he said as she wiped his face. “It passed.”

She took the bin and put it down.

“Can I have a towel? I need to cover up.”

She handed him a towel and fought back her tears.

“You don’t have to cover yourself in front of me.”

He leaned against the wall and sighed.

“I remembered.”

She moved to sit on the floor with him and she took his hand, ignoring the marks on his body.

“I figured,” she smiled. “Do you want to tell me about it?”

His green eyes met hers and she saw his sadness.

“I remember when he put the wires in my legs. I remember the pain and the fear. I didn’t remember that before,” he said. “And my side is a mess. He burned my skin. Everything is a mess.”

“You are not a mess,” she said and smiled. “You are strong and amazing and you are a survivor. What you’ve been through is beyond comprehension. I can’t begin to wrap my mind around what you endured and I am eternally grateful that you are here. You are my whole world and every day from now on will be better than the last. You are going to be okay, I promise. But here, right now and always with me, you can be scared and vulnerable. You don’t have to be brave. You can cry and scream and yell and I can take it. I’m here with you, through all of it.”

“Sitting on the floor of a shower in the hospital?” he asked and smiled for the first time.

She grinned.  “Not my first choice, but I would sit anywhere with you.”

“What if I can’t get through this?” he asked as his tears fell. “I have always been able to handle things. I have gotten through a lot in my life and I need to figure out how to move through this. I just don’t know that I can. I can’t seem to figure out how.”

“You know, when I was at my lowest point, when I forgot everything that I had learned about how to deal with all I had been through, do you know what helped me?”

He looked at her and nodded.

“I locked you in the house with me and it backfired. You ended up going away to the hospital and it was the worst week of my life. I don’t want to do that. I just want to come home. I just need to see that I can live my life again.”

She smiled.

“You didn’t lock me in the house with you and you forgot to mention that I stabbed you.”

He shrugged.

“It was just a scratch.”

She stroked his cheek.

“What helped me was knowing that someone had my back. Someone who loved me despite the craziness I brought into his life. Someone who looked at me like I was worth this life.”

He looked down and she tilted his face back to hers.

“I have your back. I will do everything in my power to help you and you will learn what I already know. You have strength in spades, Tommy. You are going to be okay.”

He nodded.

“I need to take a shower. That’s what I came in here to do. I don’t know what happened.”

“Well, let’s get you back up in the chair and then finish the shower.”

“I don’t want anyone to come in. I can get up on my own.”

She sighed.

“How about I help you?”

“I’ll break you,” he said.

“I’m pretty strong,” she said. “I think it’s time you lean on me. Literally.”

He reached up with his good hand and grabbed the handrail. She put his other arm around her shoulders and stood up with him enough for him to sit on the chair.

“See? We can do this together,” she said and handed him the towel.

She went to move and he grabbed her hand.

“Will you stay and help me?”

“Of course.”

He closed his eyes as the water fell over him and when her hands massaged his hair, he felt a sense of home wash over him. She helped him wash his body and when he was clean, she grabbed a towel and gently dried him before she took another and covered his hair.

“Let me grab your clothes.”

“Okay,” he said as she walked out.

He did his best to finish drying himself and then he grabbed the rail and pulled himself up to a standing position without thinking.

“What are you doing?” Brittany asked as she walked in.

“I can stand,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking about it, I just did it.”

She put his clothes on the counter and walked to him.

“I love you, but please don’t push yourself too hard.”

“I won’t, but I need to push a little. I have to get out of here and it can only happen if I stop babying myself. I can do this. I am going to get better.”

She nodded and handed him his own t-shirt and shorts.

“I thought this might be more comfortable,” she smiled.

“It’s perfect, thank you.”

She brought in the walker and he held onto it while she helped him with his shorts.

“Let me get the wheelchair to help you back to bed.”

“Okay,” he said, knowing he shouldn’t walk yet.

She came back with the chair and he used the walker to help him sit down. She pushed him to the bed, which had fresh sheets, and she opened the walker before moving to help him.

He stood up on his own and turned to sit on the bed.

“How do you feel?” she asked.

“Tired but really good. I want to walk. I need to walk.”

She nodded as she tucked him in.

“I think you will be able to walk more tomorrow. You did a lot, both physically and emotionally. Just rest tonight.”

He nodded and closed his eyes, exhausted.

She sat with him as he slept and finally let her tears fall.

He just needed to come home.

She needed to help him.

She also needed him to help her.

For now, she would make sure he didn’t feel alone.

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Please don’t forget to preorder your copy of Strength today!

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