We like to say that when things seem at their worst, we have no choice but to make difficult decisions. We have no choice but to take control. We have no choice when faced with impossible circumstances.
Or do we?
Does the simple act of choosing negate the idea of having no choice?
Does your head hurt yet? Mine does 🙂
Book 27 is a lot about choice. It’s about the choice a man makes with a gun.
It’s about a choice Ian makes to save the young man his daughter loves.
It’s about the choice a wife makes when confronted with a battle she never saw coming.
It’s also about the choices we make as teenagers when young love is all consuming.
What we do can have lasting effects.
Sometimes in the wrong way.
What happens in the lives of all of the characters in this installment will alter a lot of what happens next. The aftermath of trauma is different for everyone, and at times, it seems as if old wounds become fresh once again.
For Bill and David, this book is a turning point.
That leads me to the point of this post.
No Choice is largely David’s story.
He has been a character that I have struggled to define.
Being the only boy amongst so many girls afforded me the opportunity to create humorous antics and adorable scenarios.
But as they all grew, I saw the girls as individuals and David sort of remained a mystery.
Sabrina loves fashion design.
Tessa loves animals.
Naomi loves to cook.
Josie loves the Military.
What does David want out of life?
What is his passion?
What does he see himself doing in the future?
I wasn’t really sure, and I think that effected how I wrote him. Looking back, his job was to be a sounding board for Sabrina and then a partner to Desi.
But I had trouble hearing him without them.
Recently, I put out a poll about David. I asked who people would prefer him to be with: Sabrina, Desi or someone new? Or maybe alone?
The results were overwhelming towards one choice.
David should be with Desi.
So I figured I must be doing something right if people like him with her.
I know I do.
But still, David needs to be a person on his own- apart from a girl.
That’s where this book comes in.
I realized, along with David, that there has been a silent rift between him and his father.
Bill adores his children. He would give his life for them and he would do absolutely anything to make them happy.
For some reason, after the trauma at the farm, David turns his anger on Bill.
It’s not rational, but it’s understandable.
Bill has seen a lot in his life. Before joining the Army, he lived through a lifetime of abuse and horror.
He never heard a kind word from his father and he never felt his mother was proud of him.
Finding Julie was truly a new birth for him. A life in which he could have pride and happiness and respect.
War added a whole other level of trauma to his heart.
David doesn’t understand that part of his father.
He doesn’t understand how and why Bill reacts the way he does.
He is angry and hurt and scared and he sees in Bill, his own failures.
He couldn’t protect Desi.
He couldn’t protect Ian.
He did nothing.
And his world was blown apart.
The irony is just how similar they are to each other.
David evolves through this book. His relationships and his attitudes are changed.
It’s an important transformation, but it isn’t without damage.
One of my favorite scenes happens during a conversation between Julie and David.
She tries to set him straight about a few things after David lays into his father.
It’s profound and important, and it’s fitting that it comes from Julie.
The following is an excerpt from “No Choice”
“I didn’t take it out on him, but he’s impossible to talk to. He never gets angry or upset and it makes me feel like an idiot for not handling things that way. He’s not normal. The military messed him up and it messed up Desi’s mom, too. He makes me feel like a failure.”
“You told him that?” Julie asked as her heart broke for her husband.
“Yeah, I told him. I’m a terrible person who was mean to my dad. Whatever mom,” he stood up. “I need everyone to just leave me alone.”
Julie looked at him.
“Do you know the first time I learned that your dad had trouble at home?”
“Huh? What do you mean?”
“He was supposed to pick me up and take me on a date and he cancelled. He made up some story and I could tell he was lying, so I made him come to get me.”
“How did you make him come?”
“I told him I would walk to find him and it was dark and I was all dressed up.”
“So of course he didn’t let that happen because he’s such an amazing hero,” David said.
Julie tempered her anger and stood up to face him.
“He loved me and my safety was important to him. I’m not sure why that’s somehow shameful in your eyes. However, my point was that when he came to get me, he had been beaten up.”
David was surprised.
“By who? What happened?”
“Why? Why would he beat him up?”
“Because it was a day ending in ‘y’. His father was very abusive, David, you know that. He didn’t need a reason to beat your father,” Julie sighed as she sat down. “Up until then, I didn’t know about it.”
“So what is this supposed to mean to me now? What are you trying to tell me? What’s the point?”
“First of all, I don’t have the temperament your father has and if you continue to act like a little spoiled punk, then you and I are going to have more problems. What I am trying to tell you is that when someone lives their entire life in fear of being abused, it does a lot to harm your self-esteem. When your dad showed emotion, his father punished him. When he did anything to help his mother, his dad hurt him. Do you know he worked two jobs after school to help his mom pay bills so his dad wouldn’t know she was an alcoholic? Your dad doesn’t drink because he’s seen the damage drinking did to the only person who showed him a miniscule amount of love growing up. His mother forgot him first when her disease took over. She denied he was her son and she looked at him with hate and anger. That caused irreparable damage to your dad’s heart.”
David was stunned hearing all of this and he had no idea of the trauma his dad lived through.
“As for the military, which you seem to despise, your dad joined because it was the first time he could be proud of himself. He worked his ass off to make something of himself despite having zero support. He loved me and welcomed my issues into his heart because he is a good and decent man. What you call weak or weird is what he worked so hard to be. He never wanted you to look at him the way his father did. He has also been through unimaginable horror while serving and he has always, always fought his way back to us. When he was injured the first time, when you were a few months old, do you know what he went through?”
“He hurt his leg,” David said quietly, his shame growing.
“He hurt his leg? Let me explain a little more. He was on a humvee, which hit an IED. When he woke up in the middle of burning metal and flesh, the bodies of his entire regiment were scattered all around. He was riddled with shrapnel and his leg was almost severed, with the bones in pieces sticking out all over.”
David let his tears fall as he stared in horror.
Julie felt her own tears fall as she continued.
“He somehow, in the middle of the burning mess around him, wrapped the pieces of his leg together and got up. He found Mike who was almost cut in half and he picked him up and carried him to safety. When I got to Germany, there was little chance he would survive and the only thing that gave him hope was you.”
“I brought you with me because you were the most important thing to your father. He was so excited to have a son and he adored you. He wanted to be everything to you that he never got from his father. He recorded messages for you so each night while he was gone, you would hear his voice and not forget him. He never wanted to leave you and he was tormented by being away while you were so small.”
“Mom, stop,” David said as his tears fell.
“No. I have one more thing to say and you better listen. Your dad doesn’t yell because growing up, that’s all he heard. He doesn’t react with violence because that’s all he was ever shown. He doesn’t react with fear because that’s what gets people killed. Those things are not what make your dad weird or weak. Those are the things that make him an incredible man. They are the reasons I love him and they are why I am so proud of the man he is. He isn’t perfect. He feels he has so many flaws that it makes him overcorrect things. We have both taught you to be a kind and giving person. To listen and not judge. To be compassionate and not violent. That goes for your words as well as your actions. Now I know you have had an awful night and I wish more than anything I could take that from you, but that does not ever give you the right to treat your father with such disrespect. He has had that for so long and he deserves so much more from you. He will never, ever get that from his family again, okay?”
David nodded and put his face in his hands as he cried.
Julie hugged him.
“I’m sorry. I just hate violence. I hate that he’s a cop and I hate that Josie idolizes that. I don’t want anyone else I love to get hurt.”
“I hear you, but you don’t get to decide what Josie thinks and feels and it’s important to respect other people’s decisions whether or not we agree. As for hating that he’s a cop, I think you need to try and figure out why. He does so much good. He gives people closure after they lose someone to violence. He is a great detective and that isn’t something to be ashamed of.”
“No Choice” is full of challenging moments and serious dangers. It is a moment where Cassie has to face the prospect of her husband dying. Desi has to look at the potential of life without her father.
Stephanie and Jack bring their twins into the world.
Naomi faces a health crisis brought on by something completely unexpected.
Mike and Jade realize that what they thought was over, is coming back with a vengeance
Josie struggles to begin a new romance.
Tessa finds a friend where she didn’t expect one.
Sabrina faces a harsh reality about life.
And that’s just the beginning…
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