Hey gang – we are headed into day two of the LEAP YEAR 2016 RAFFLECOPTER AUTHOR GIVEAWAY with a guest post from Author Traci Sanders.
Before we get to it, I want to take a moment to remind you to check out our original blog post regarding the contest and encourage you to enter for one of 19 great prizes!
And now without further ado – Author Traci Sanders!
First off, I’d like to thank Jason Zandri for organizing this incredible event and for allowing me to be part of it!
My latest release “Unsevered” is a light paranormal romance (think the movie GHOST) about a woman named Jewel whose husband (Harley) is called to active duty just days after the couple returns from their honeymoon. Harley is killed in combat, and Jewel is left to pick up the pieces of her life.
It’s a realistic, compelling story about love found, lost, and rediscovered in a magical way.
Here is one of my favorite excerpts, as it paints a vivid picture of Jewel and Harley’s relationship and what they meant to one another, while giving a glimpse inside Jewel’s broken heart as she deals with the loss of her soul mate.
As well, it touches on the gripping sense of loneliness and loss that every military spouse endures on a regular basis. In fact, the dedication in the front of the book reads:
Dedicated to all military spouses … especially those
whose loved ones made the ultimate sacrifice.
It’s amazing how much one can miss taking care of another person. There’s no extra laundry to be done, no dirty dishes to wash.
His clothes hang in perfect rows in the closet, his toothbrush sits dry and unpasted in its holder. I asked him three times if he’d packed it. Not that he needs it now.
Cruel reminders are everywhere that he’s never coming back for these things, that he’s never going to need them again. The joy and laughter that once filled our room mocks me now. What’s there to look forward to anymore?
I curl up in a ball under the covers and breathe in what little of him remains on his pillow. Behind my tear-soaked eyes lurks a memory of our last day together when he was alive. It had started out as the perfect day.
* * * * * * * * *
Harley slept in as I tiptoed downstairs to make breakfast. In moments, the house was infused with the scent of bacon, eggs, French toast, and coffee. I enjoyed my food out on the back porch watching the waves caress the shore. I finished my meal, placed some fresh fruit in a bowl on the side, and carried the tray upstairs. He blinked his sleepy eyes when he saw me. His smile was intoxicating.
“Mmm, looks delicious.” He sat up in bed with arms folded behind his head.
“Well, after last night, I figured you could use a little refueling.” I offered him a dirty smile.
“The food looks good too.” He returned my gesture, took the tray from my hands and sat it on the dresser. Then he grabbed me by the waist, and threw me onto the bed.
I squealed and squirmed around in hopes of escaping his strong fingers that were torturing my ribs. “No, stop! I hate to be tickled!”
“Ooohhh, let’s find out if I can make you pee your pants,” he teased, and continued to find other reactive areas.
Finally, I made my counterattack and managed to grab the bulging stones between his legs. I squeezed until the power in his fingers diminished and he surrendered.
“Ha, looks like I’m not the only ticklish one.” I threw him a victorious smile, released his genitals, and fell onto my back.
He gently rolled on top of me and stared into my blue eyes. His soft fingers brushed through strands of my hair. “I love you, Jewel. I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to get to wake up to you every day for the rest of my life. Thank you for marrying me and making me the happiest man alive.”
“I love you too, Harley. You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I’m proud to be your wife.”
We locked lips, barely allowing a breath to escape. His hands began to wander and just as they reached my belly button, the phone rang.
Our passionate moment was replaced by silence as he answered it.
“This is Harley.” He shooed me away from him and whispered “go away” with a smile. Then, “No, Sir. Not you, Sir.”
My husband’s eyes adopted a gloomy appearance and he turned away to finish the conversation. I heard the words, “Yes sir, I will be there.” And then a click.
Knots formed in my stomach and my breakfast threatened to reappear. I closed my eyes hard and the only sound I heard was the echo of my pounding pulse. I knew this time would come eventually, but didn’t expect it to happen so soon. No, no, no. It wasn’t fair. We’d just returned from our honeymoon, hadn’t even had our first fight as a married couple.
He’d hung up the phone, almost in slow motion and sat on the bed without a word; his head hung low, his breath heavy. He turned to face me and took both of my shaking hands in his.
“That was my commander. He said we pull out at 0600.”
Tears pooled in his eyes. I’d never actually seen him cry and I wasn’t sure how I would react if I did. I was sure I wouldn’t be able to contain my own emotions, so I forced myself to play my part the same way I did when my parents told me they were divorcing. I shut down. My arms pulled away from his and I began to pack his things as I rambled.
“So what all do you need to take? Will it be hot there?”
I grabbed a few t-shirts and pairs of boxers. “How many pairs of socks do you think you’ll need?”
I wanted to die inside with each piece I placed inside his duffle bag. My stride was broken for a moment as I paused to inhale the scent of one of his t-shirts. My body shuddered and tears streamed down my face. I wasn’t able to fake it as well with him.
Harley wrapped both of his arms around my waist and placed soft kisses on the back of my neck.
“Jewel, honey. Look at me.”
I restored my brave face and turned around with my eyes trained on his—determined not to let him see my tears. His muscles bulged against my skin with tension and he embraced me as if he never wanted to let go.
“It’s going to be okay. We can get through this.”
“I know. I’ll be fine,” I said, lying so easily.
Knowing that it might be quite some time before we would have the chance again, we finally rediscovered the mood and made love one last time. It was soft and sweet, the perfect way to say goodbye. Our bodies stayed pressed tight together for the rest of the night. I finally found rest, listening to the beat of his broken heart, because mine was playing the same tune.
The break of dawn illuminated the path as I drove Harley to the base. His head leaned against the passenger window, his eyes fixed on nothing particular as signs and trees whizzed by. I could tell he was torn between staying with me and doing the right thing, even though there was no choice to be made.
Almost in slow motion, we unloaded his things from the car and embraced, surrounded by the other military men and women who bid their own farewells to their loved ones.
The pain in my chest was unbearable. I tried to swallow the lump that had formed at the back of my throat as the last few servicemen had boarded.
Harley brushed a half-bent finger along my cheek. “Remember the sign, sweetheart. I’ll always be with you.”
His voice was soft and empathetic, as he placed tiny kisses upon my hand. The plane engine roared a signal that takeoff was imminent. He pulled me to him and covered my mouth with his, and time stood still. Our tongues entwined as our wet lips slid across one another at a fierce, desperate pace. I’m not sure if either of us even breathed for the duration of that kiss. We shared a long, final embrace and then he joined his comrades.
I waited until the plane was but a dot in the sky to release my pain. Hot, stinging tears drenched my cheeks and became waterfalls within seconds. The other military spouses around me inquired if I needed anything. When I declined, they offered a supportive hand on my shoulder and gathered their children to head back home to continue living life the only way they knew how. Alone.
You can view the trailer for “Unsevered” here:
Thanks so much for having me today and for letting me share a little bit about my new book. Please subscribe to my blog at www.awordwithtraci.com where you will find samples of my poems and stories, excerpts from my books, and daily tips on all aspects of the writing industry (publishing, marketing, writing, etc.) in my new segment for 2016 called “365 Days to Write Right.”
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