Friday, 28 March 2014


Amber Lea Easton has several more books than the ones I featured over the past few days, but out of the 3 featured and the others that were published, this is my fav!!!

Last but not least is Anonymity. *Voted Goodreads' February book of the month**

New year, new beginnings. Alyssa McNeil is on a mission of breaking free of her comfort zone, reinventing herself, and forgetting the fact that her ex is getting married on New Year's Eve. She's in Belize for a week of sun, fun, adventure, and flirtation. Meeting Luke is an unexpected bonus…falling in love with him, though, simply isn't part of the plan.

Luke Picket is more than happy to go along with her idea of a no strings, uncomplicated weeklong fling. He embraces his bachelor lifestyle and can't see that changing any time soon. But when they find themselves trekking through the jungle and facing turbulent seas together, his hard heart softens.

But they'd agreed on anonymity, on a first-name-only-no-strings love affair, and neither wants to ruin the moment with unwanted declarations. Old beliefs are challenged. Doubts questioned. Will they stick to their deal and go their separate ways when the week is over? Or will the new year bring them a new attitude about love?

Snippets of several reviews & links to them (If you have space for a few of these somewhere in the post, please use as you see fit. If not, then no worries at all.)

5.0 out of 5 stars
Anonymity, excellent read!, February 9, 2014
Great love story! I could feel the characters' "electric chemistry" jump right out of the pages...couldn't put the book down! Definitely rates up there as one of the best romance books I've ever read! A must read for anyone who loves romance(:

5.0 out of 5 stars
Passion Filled Vacation, January 29, 2014
Pamela (Toronto, ON) -  ((
Amber Lea Easton ("Easton") truly shines when it comes to giving her readers exactly what they want when it comes to romance; a novel full of passion and hot hot sex; and characters (both lead and supporting) who you'll fall in love with; all on a sandy beach with crystal-clear blue water as far as the eye can see. The author wields a terrific and engaging story, even thought-provoking at times, that's full of fun and desire that leaves you not only wishing it was you on that beach, but you who's being screwed hard against a palm tree by one very hot and sexy male specimen like Luke.

This is the second novel of Easton's I've read and it will most definitely not be my last. I was actually sad when the story ended; that it wasn't longer than 186 pages as I couldn't get enough. Thoughts of getting on a plane heading towards a tropical beach is all I can think of - that, and a palm tree.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Excellent romance, December 26, 2013

"Anonymity" by Amber Lea Easton is a great holiday romance, set in Belize between Christmas and New Year - coincidentally the same time that I read the novel.
Reading the novel about a no-strings attached one week fling between Alyssa and Luke was the perfect escapism, just like a sweet dream. The two make a pact not to talk about their real lives: What happens in Belize, stays in Belize. Or does it?
Sunshine, water, sex and jungle adventures are part of this fun-filled and lovely story. Besides the great main characters there are a few really well chosen others, such as the bar tender Rosie and Savannah, who also has the hots for Luke.
Well written and easy on the proverbial eye this is a very enjoyable and entertaining read that should please a wide audience.

5.0 out of 5 stars
The perfect romance with more than I thought possible, December 22, 2013

Thank you Amber Lea Easton for completely capturing the essence of romance. You have, yet again, set the bar high. This was the perfect book. The main characters were strong and well developed and I felt like I was in Belize. The best surprise was the connection to the secondary characters. I fell in love with Rosie and found myself rooting for Savannah. What a great story about new beginnings and living the way we all dream of.

PG excerpt of "Anonymity" 
Her thoughts drifted to Luke. She'd admired how he'd laughed after tipping in the kayak, bantered easily with Rosie, smiled at her as if he'd known her for years, and had obviously made friends with the scuba divers who acted like he was a part of their group. He had a way about him, a magnetic pull. She grinned at the way his shirt had molded to his body. Yeah, even now as the rum haze wore off she wanted to strip him naked and explore that body. Laughing at her thoughts, she tossed the ring onto the pillow and closed her eyes.
The knock on her cabana door surprised her. Probably Rosie. Had she signed the bar receipt? She couldn't remember.
Showered and dressed in a loose yellow sundress, she walked barefoot toward the persistent knocking. She yanked the door open and stared. There he was, dressed in dry blue t-shirt, khaki shorts, and flip-flops. He tilted his head a bit to the side as he assessed her, his grin contagious as he held up the forgotten metal box.
"You forgot your treasure at the bar. I was a little hurt. I risked my life for this."
She rocked back on her heels, struck by how the blue of his shirt emphasized his eyes. "I thought you were going out with your friends."
"They're not my friends. I met them the other night, a diving club from Dallas or somewhere like that. We had a good time last night with my family at the bar that ended up with us all jumping in the pool fully clothed. I guess I left my shirt behind, but that's it." His shrug pulled the shirt tight over his shoulders. "We had a deal, didn't we?"
Every fantasy she'd ever had came to life in her mind. Sex on the beach, against a palm tree, on the deck, in the king-sized bed behind her...every image created a slow burn deep in her gut.
"Scared? I'm harmless, I swear. Rosie can vouch for me, she's known me for seven days now, that's the equivalent of a lifetime on this small island."
"Said the serial killer right before he pulled a knife."
"I know you want to." His voice had lowered to a seductive purr. "Come with me. Have some fun. Live a little."
She hadn't anticipated him showing up, not with the leggy brunette hanging all over him. She already had her e-reader prepped for a night of hanging out in the hammock listening to waves lap against shore. She gripped the frame of the door and stared.
"Dinner and a town tour. Simple," he said even as his gaze skimmed over her neck to her cleavage.
"Why do you want to keep our deal?" she asked.
His gaze snapped back to hers. "You're the most interesting thing that's happened to me in a long time. I want more of that. Simple."
"I'm not..." she'd almost said she wasn't brave, that she'd been dizzy from rum and travel, but the look in his eyes stopped her. "What's the matter?"
"Why do you think something's the matter?"
She squinted. Guilt shadowed his eyes, but there was something else there, too. "Did I miss something after I left?"
"I may have led people to believe you were my girlfriend." He winced without breaking eye contact. "Don't slam the door in my face."
"Are you afraid of the supermodel who was coming onto you, Luke?" She folded her arms across her chest and smiled at the idea of him using their brief flirtation as an excuse to ditch the group from the bar. "Do you need me to save you from the gorgeous brunette?"
"Save me, Alyssa. Please." He leaned a hip against the door and extended the box toward her.
"Are you bribing me with your found treasure? Interesting." She took the box and laughed.
"That's not much of a bribe. You should hold out for more." He winked, his good humor convincing her that she'd be a fool to say no.
She tilted her chin up, hoping the fact that her knees were buckling didn't show. Going or not wasn't a question of want...she definitely wanted. She caught her lower lip between her teeth and studied him through narrowed eyes. If she followed through with impulse, she knew she'd end up sleeping with him before the night ended. Did she want to cross that line? Did she really want to seize the moment, embrace carpe diem and all of that bullshit she'd been telling herself since getting on the plane in Denver? Those were the questions that made her hesitate.
"You won't regret it." His blue eyes danced with mischief, almost as if he knew exactly what questions tumbled through her brain. "Please come out and play, Alyssa."
She smiled at his boyish use of the word 'play.' "Since you said please...give me a minute to get ready."
Opening the box, she chose a bracelet laced with various colors of blue stones, brushed the sea salt and sand from it, and wrapped it around her wrist. She couldn't help but laugh.
Well, grandma, I'm definitely out of my comfort zone and taking chances.
Luke's gaze moved over her like a light caress. Rather than a predator or some sleezeball who picked up women on a whim, he resembled a confident man about to take a woman on a date. Black hair no longer stuck out in every direction; rather it fell lightly across his forehead and skimmed his ears. Salt no longer stuck to his neck yet the impulse to taste his skin beneath her tongue superseded all common sense. Exhilaration pumped through her veins at the idea of possibilities.
"I promised you fun and I always keep my word. Trust me," he whispered against her ear while she locked her door. His hand touched the exposed skin of her back.
Her hands trembled at her sides. Desire rushed through her like lava erupting from a volcano. Everything she'd wanted while sitting at the bar doubled in intensity. She turned within the small space between his body and the door and surrendered to temptation. Standing on tiptoes, she slid her hands over his chest and up to his shoulders.
"It's cliché to say I don't normally do this kind of thing, but I honestly don't. This is a first for me," she said.
"What part? The traveling solo part or the going out with a stranger in a foreign country part?"
"No past, no future." He slipped his hand behind her neck and stopped within a fraction from kissing her. "No judgment, no regret."
He surprised her by stepping back and snagging her hand. Laughing, he pulled her to the sand and toward the beach.
"Tease," she said, bumping her shoulder against his.
"You've been bossy enough—stealing my treasure, bullying me into taking you out—tonight I'm in charge."
"Oh, really?" She liked that idea more than she'd admit. The thought of him taking charge, being in control, turned her on in ways she hadn't imagined.
From the way he looked at her, either he'd read her mind or they were on the same page. 
They walked along the beach into town, hands grazing each other, arms touching. The stars shone like crystals in the night sky that meshed with the blackness of the ocean. Wind tossed her dress around her knees and plastered it to her thighs.
"Any excursions planned?" he asked after a lengthy silence.
"Tomorrow I'm going on the Lamanai trip to the mainland to see the Mayan ruins. I booked it online when I made the reservation here, but now I wish I hadn't." She watched a water taxi speed buy them loaded down with rowdy tourists.
"I'm on that trip, too."
She squinted at him. "No, you're not."
"I am. My family was here all last week and I have little nieces and nephews. No one wanted to do the adventurous things with me so I waited until they left." He smiled down at her, black hair falling across his eyes with the steady wind blowing inland. "I did see the zoo, though. Fun times."
"What did they think of you staying behind?" She pushed her hair behind her ears, wishing she had brought a hair tie of some kind.
"They're used to me doing my own thing." He shrugged and looked toward a passing boat. "What did your family think of you coming down here alone?"
"It's uncharacteristic." She fell into step with him as they resumed walking into town.
"You seem pretty adventurous to me." He winked and then laughed when she looked away. "I meant it when I said this was a simple dinner...after that, whatever happens, happens. I don't expect anything. Don't worry."
She felt the blush heat her face and purposely averted her gaze to the sand in front of her feet. Maybe he didn't expect anything, but she did. She swallowed the sudden flood of saliva at the idea of getting him naked. 
It's official; I've lost my mind.
She sighed and forced her thoughts away from sex. Okay, so maybe she hadn't slept with anyone since Scott and only one other man before him, which was years ago. Horny was an understatement. Luke made her crave skin-on-skin. She'd wanted him to kiss her, was a bit annoyed that he hadn't.
When music wafted down to the beach from one of the bars, he snagged her against him and pulled her into a dance. She laughed at the spontaneity.
"You're deep in thought," he said with a smile. "That's not allowed."
"No?" She laughed when he dipped her backward before snapping her back up to face him. "Are you always so happy?"
"I'm on vacation and dancing with a gorgeous blonde in the moonlight, of course I'm happy." He moved her into a tight circle on the beach. The feel of his body against hers created havoc with her nerves.
"This is crazy," she whispered, not entirely sure if she was talking about her reaction to him, their date, or the entire situation.
Give in, a voice encouraged from deep within her psyche.
She skimmed her fingers over his neck before sliding them into his hair. Grinning because it felt good to abandon inhibitions, she stood on her tiptoes and kissed him.
He slid his lips against hers, eyes wide open and reflecting moonlight. His hands gripped her hips. Slowly, they savored the taste of each other.
Tremors of desire began where their lips met and rocked through her body to her toes until she felt certain she'd collapse. Shaken, she locked her fingers behind his head and teased his lips with her tongue. He opened his mouth and deepened the kiss. Intense. Hard. Perhaps it was the beach or the aftereffects of Rosie's special concoction, but she'd never felt like this from a kiss.
With a gasp, he lifted his face from hers and stared into her eyes. His chest rose and fell against hers with each steadying breath.
"Why do I feel like I just dove off a cliff?" he asked without letting her go.
"Just go with it." She smiled against his chin before sliding down the length of him until her feet were firmly on the sand. Emboldened by the knowledge that his reaction mirrored her own, she laced her fingers with his.

"Oh, I'm going with it." He pulled her against his side. "I'm the go-with-the-flow kind of guy, remember?"

SO go on then and get one of her books. It's like the L'Oreal ad said; "Because you are worth it!" 

Thursday, 27 March 2014


Okay so this book is a little different. It is the incredible Memoir of Amber Lea Easton. 

I love realistic stories, so it goes without saying that I love TRUE stories too. True story! 
But this book is more than that! It is a guide, a lifeline and an inspiration that will stick with you always.

Please read...

"Understanding suffering always helps the energy of compassion to be born."
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

In an instant my husband stripped away my identity as wife, stay-at-home mom, and best friend. With his suicide, our world changed forever. He'd been the center of our universe, but then he was gone.

Grief is a dark journey, one often tainted with judgment and false perceptions. Add the word 'suicide' to the mix and more complications arise. This memoir, Free Fall, is intended for those who may be facing their own tragedy and feeling alone, hopeless, confused, scared, and misunderstood.

Free Fall is the journey of piecing our lives back together—overcoming children's anxiety as we traversed the brutal grief and trauma process, learning to say the words 'widow' and 'single mom' without cringing, surviving the fall out with friends and family who simply couldn't understand our healing process, triumphing over the stigma of 'suicide', forgiving my husband, and finding peace after chaos.

Free Fall is for widows, widowers, parents, survivors of suicide, family members or friends of one who mourns. This story is for anyone who needs encouragement that there is another side to grief. There is. We're there now. We're looking back and holding our hands out to you saying, "hang in there, you're not alone, and you'll get here, too."

Reviews (In case you'd like to add a few to the post):

5 stars via Author Susan Hawthorne:
Have you ever wondered what you should say... or not say... or were afraid to say anything at all, read this. The insights are deep and true.
I'd recommend this book to everyone. We all suffer loss at some point and this book lights the path. (see full review here:

5 stars via ChristophFischerBooks:
I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. From the moment Easton finds her husband, to the humiliating and insensitive behaviour of the emergency and police services on the scene, to family and friends unable to provide appropriate help to dealing with the long term consequences of bereavement this book is an emotional tour de force that will stay with me for a long time.
A remarkable woman, an inspiring book, outstandingly told and indispensable on the self-help / inspirational publishing market. Tragic, raw, without make-up but with a message of hope and encouragement for others. (see full review here:

5 stars via Pastor Jennifer Swier: Free Fall is a helpful and encouraging look into one family's journey with the pain and healing of losing someone deeply loved through suicide. Her sharing is warm, loving, encouraging, and thoughtful. I found I couldn't put it down once I began. Amber's writing is compelling and will connect with all who share the journey with a family member or friend who is healing following the tragic death of the person they love: that we may begin to imagine what they are going through only because we hear the story they share.  (see full review here:

5 stars via linz:
This book has helped me with my own grief. I would recommend this book to anyone. But more to those who don't understand losing someone to suicide.
She is very honest in laying out her and her family's experience. It's refreshing to read true experience rather than text book advise. (see full review here:

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. For twenty years, she's worked in the fields of journalism and advertising with a brief detour into the financial industry. Although she holds a BA in Communications & Journalism, she is a perpetual student of life who enjoys taking classes on a wide variety of subjects when time allows.
Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges but ultimately persevere. She currently has three romantic suspense novels out in the world, Kiss Me Slowly, Riptide and Reckless Endangerment, and a contemporary romance novella, Anonymity.
Her memoir, Free Fall, released on September 1, 2013, and is dedicated to suicide prevention, awareness, and helping others navigate the dark journey of grief.
In addition to fiction writing, Easton also edits and free-lances. She also speaks on subjects ranging from writing to widowhood. Some of her videos on romance writing have appeared on the international Writers & Authors television network. Current radio appearances are linked via her author website ( and her blog Kisses, Caresses & Whispers in the Night.
Easton currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where she gives thanks daily for the gorgeous view outside her window. She finds inspiration from traveling, the people she meets, nature and life's twists and turns. At the end of the day, as long as she's writing, she considers herself to be simply "a lucky lady liv'n the dream."

I wore your promise on my finger for one year
I'll wear your name on my heart til I die
Because you were my boy, you were my only boy forever.”

Chapter Five
It's the day of the funeral. I didn't sleep at all last night. The kids won't let me out of their sight so they slept in my bed, which is fine.  I stayed up writing all night, trying to get my eulogy right. I must protect Sean, that's all I can think. Everyone has their ideas of him and his death, I've already heard the claims. "How selfish of him, how cowardly."  Well, today is not a day for that. I won't have it.  I'm determined to stick up for him. That's my job as his wife, his widow. I must protect I did in life, I suppose. I can't help feeling like I failed at that given where I am at the moment. 
I crumble to my knees in my closet, the same place he died.  I hold my black dress to my body. Despair ravages through me. Raw. Unyielding.
"How could you leave me?" I ask the place on the tile where I'd given him CPR. "How could you leave us? I don't know what to do or what to say or where to begin or how to do any of this alone. I am so mad at you, do you hear me?"
I curl up with my dress in my arms and sob. I want him back. I want this all to be a nightmare. Silent, body curling sobs roll through me.
"I love you so much," I manage to say against my fist. "I'm so sorry I didn't save you."
Jo appears out of nowhere and grabs my shoulders, "It's going to be okay. You can do this."
"I don't know how to do this."
"You do. Come on. You can do this." She pulls me up. "One day you'll realize that you're better off."
No one knows what to say to me. No one knows the right words.
I get dressed like a zombie, not caring about how I look.
The funeral home is on the phone, my mom says. I need to pull it together, handle things. 
"Your father-in-law is requesting half of Sean's ashes," the woman on the phone tells me. 
Half of what? My hands shake on the phone. The idea of splitting Sean's body up like that even more...the fact that the man hadn't had the respect of asking me directly or even to give me his condolences the other day...and there's that bit about him not speaking to his son for the past three years. 
"He has no right to them," the woman continues when I remain silent. "You're the widow, you paid for this service. He has no right to them unless you give me permission."
"No," I say. 
CrazyLand, USA, I swear. 
The term "stranger than fiction" enters my mind while I convey the story to my family as we get ready to leave for the church. I'm scared of going to the church, actually. I don't expect anyone to be there. Sean and I were each other's best friends so our social circle was limited.  We did everything together.  It's the last day of school so I don't expect any of the soccer parents to be there. What a shame, an empty church for a wonderful man.
But people are at the church. Jo and my family had put together a picture collage of Sean. One of the photos had been taken exactly one week ago while we'd been snorkeling in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, as a family of four.  I squeeze the kids' hands a bit tighter and we walk to the front pew. I don't want to greet people or talk yet, not until I give the eulogy. My entire body is shaking. I don't want to be here. I want to be back in Mexico with my gorgeous husband walking on the sand. 
The music, the hymns that I chose, all are happening around me. I go through the motions. Sit. Stand. Sing.
Then it's time for me to talk about him—my moment to make sure everyone knows he is more than a man who committed suicide.  That's when I look up and see the people who've shown up for us. The entire back two pews are full of men who worked for Sean—they're crying. I see my cousins, my brother, and my parents, all who've traveled a great distance to be here. I see friends. I see Sean's side of the family; his mother bent over in tears, his stepfather and biological father, relatives from California.  All are looking at me. 
I don't know if I have the strength to speak. What was I thinking? I glance at my pastor who has tears in her eyes.
Then I feel as if I'm being held up—I feel a presence at my side, holding my arm, keeping me from falling.  I look at my two little kids and speak. 
I tell the room of a man who dragged us outside in the middle of the night to watch meteor showers, who loved the ocean and mountains, who loved his family, who enjoyed his job working outside every day. I tell them all how he taught his daughter to boogie board, both kids to ski before they could walk, and how he taught me to push past my comfort zone.  I speak only of the man I loved.

I never take my gaze from my kids' faces. I do this for them. I want them to remember my words. I want them to remember their father for who he was, not how he died.  

Author: Amber Lea Easton
Genre: Memoir, Creative Non-Fiction, Self-help, Grief
Word Count: 36,000 words
Publisher: Mountain Moxie Publishing
Author Contact Information:

OmniLit (all ebook formats):


Wednesday, 26 March 2014


OMG!! With so many great books, I have no idea how to present my next author to you. Her name is Amber Lea Easton and she has written some really good books. Really good!!

I wanted to post all of them in one go, but I knew that would make them too long and then no one would bother reading this. Am I right or am I right!

So, I am going to split them up. First in line...

Heroes come in many forms--soldiers who fall and rise and ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Sometimes heroes fall and take the ones they love down with them. Colonel Michael Cedars and reporter Hope Shane fell in love in a war zone, but then the world blew up, and splintered their lives in two.

Michael Cedars returns home from Afghanistan wounded and unsure where he fits in this 'new normal' of civilian life. Unsure if he'll walk again, he questions his abilities as a man, husband, and father. Accustomed to giving orders, he's thrown into a world where he doesn't know the rules anymore and no one is respecting the officer in the room.

Hope isn't one who gives up easily—not on her marriage and not on the innocent victims of a human trafficking ring she's investigating. As the danger of her story intensifies, she struggles with her own post-traumatic stress disorder and a husband who resists her love.

Danger intensifies as Hope searches for truth and justice. Everyone she loves is at risk. Will her reckless pursuit of the human trafficking ring jeopardize their lives?

Michael knows she needs him, but doubts his ability to be the hero she still believes him to be. Is he still the man she married or has he become a liability that could get her killed?

5 stars Extremely talented
Although this book is marketed as romantic suspense it also covers some serious issues, such as people trafficking and post-traumatic stress disorder, adding further depth to a book that is rich in plot and personal conflict already. Nothing prepared me for the literary quality of this novel. Regular romance and suspense fans get more than enough here to be satisfied by the great chemistry between the main characters and the intriguing story lines. However, if you - like myself - want a little bit more out of a book than you will find it in the well-handled and insightful passages about trafficking and PSD, issues that are handled with care rather than in an exploitative or decorative manner.
Easton clearly cares about what she writes and it pays dividends, her book is surprisingly impressive and certainly recommended. (see full review:

5.0 out of 5 stars
Gritty At Times, Realistic, With An Immensely Satisfying Romance and MysteryBy 

By the end of Reckless Endangerment I can sum it up by saying it's Triple-H......heartbreaking, heartwarming, and heartpounding. It's full of likable and fully fleshed-out characters, realistically depicted issues related to the aftermath of war, and it presented a fast-paced mystery surrounding human trafficking that kept me on the edge of my seat. It shows that atrocities not only occur in faraway lands but outside our front door as well. As two people deal both mentally and physically with the hand war dealt them it's only through love and acceptance that true healing can begin and a HEA can be fully achieved. (Read full review:

5.0 out of 5 stars
Great read

Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I love this book! The author did a great job of writing a contempary novel with all the twists and turns that make it impossible for you to put the book down!! I am really impressed with the author's use of hard hitting problems facing today's society and intergrating them into the story line. This is not just another cookie cutter, predictable romance!! I highly recommend this book for all who looking for a novel with a little something extra! (Read full review at:

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published fiction and nonfiction author. For twenty years, she's worked in the fields of journalism and advertising with a brief detour into the financial industry. Although she holds a BA in Communications & Journalism, she is a perpetual student of life who enjoys taking classes on a wide variety of subjects when time allows.

Smart is sexy, according to Easton, which is why she writes about strong female characters who have their flaws and challenges but ultimately persevere. She currently has three romantic suspense novels out in the world, Kiss Me Slowly, Riptide and Reckless Endangerment, and a contemporary romance novella, Anonymity.

Her memoir, Free Fall, released on September 1, 2013, and is dedicated to suicide prevention, awareness, and helping others navigate the dark journey of grief.

In addition to fiction writing, Easton also edits and free-lances. She also speaks on subjects ranging from writing to widowhood. Some of her videos on romance writing have appeared on the international Writers & Authors television network. Current radio appearances are linked via her author website ( and her blog Kisses, Caresses & Whispers in the Night.

Easton currently lives with her two teenagers in the Colorado Rocky Mountains where she gives thanks daily for the gorgeous view outside her window. She finds inspiration from traveling, the people she meets, nature and life's twists and turns. At the end of the day, as long as she's writing, she considers herself to be simply "a lucky lady liv'n the dream."

There are two excerpts from which you can choose to read. Or both...

Excerpt One:
"I’m sick of not having a say in what I do or don’t do.  You can’t do this. Just because I’m trapped in this chair doesn’t mean I don’t have a say about my life and I want you out of it. Get the hell out and leave me alone. I don’t want to be married to you and, unless something’s changed in the good ol’ USA, you can’t stop me from divorcing you. Listen closely, babe. I. Don’t. Want. You.”
Rage consumed him. Rage for what could have been, what should have been, for a life lost. Rage for everyone acting like he had no rights anymore, like he couldn’t make his own decisions.  He tossed the wedding ring and pictures across the room.
Looking horrified, she covered her mouth with her hands and walked to where the frames smashed against the floor.  As she bent, her bag spilled, contents ranging from liquid soap to a flashlight scattered across the tile. She fell to her knees, hands shaking as she scooped up the items. Broken glass crunched beneath her.  Hair shielded her face from view, but he knew she cried.
He remembered another time with her on her knees when that bag had saved his sanity. Bombs had rocked the walls. Blood had dripped into his eyes. Dizziness weakened his legs. From that bag, she’d retrieved bandages, protein bars, and bottles of water. He had thanked God for her and that oversized bag.
“I’ll make sure I call next time,” she said in rushed, quiet voice, “wouldn’t want to inconvenience you.”
“I’m sorry.”  He dropped his hands to the arms of the chair and stared at her bent head.  “I don’t know how to handle any of this anymore, Hope, especially you.”
She froze at his words. “Especially me, huh? I’m the one constant in your life, if you haven’t figured that out yet. Despite all the bullshit, here I am. Me, stupid me, still needing you as much today as I did a year ago.”
His chest caved in at the sight of her eyes glistening with tears. He wanted to take it back, every word.
“I don’t know how to do this, how to be married, how to be back in the States, how to be a civilian again, how not to walk,” he admitted.
“You break my heart,” she whispered.
“How could I possibly break your heart?”
“By not seeing how strong you are, how much you mean to everyone in your life, how worthy you are to be alive, how heroic you’ve been, how much I love you.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Maybe I need to stop trying to hold on. Maybe you’re right.”  Sighing, her shoulders slumped.  “We were this close,” she held her fingers an inch apart, “to having a life together when everything blew up in our faces. Literally. What else do I have to lose, right? I already lost my dignity when I begged those damn bureaucrats to let me see you in Germany.  And when I say begged, I mean I begged, pleaded, bartered, whatever I could possibly say or do to get in and they told me that you,” she pointed at him, “said no, you told them I lied about being married to you. McGee backed you up. I looked like a fool and a liar.”
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
“Now you’re doing it again, denying me. You’d rather sit in this place alone than admit to the world that I’m your wife. It’s true.” She nodded, gaze gluing him in place. “I gave up my everything for you. My life. My pride. My dignity. I gave it all up for you.”
“Why?” he choked out the question. “I did everything to get you to let me go.  I don’t want you to give up anything for me; can’t you see that? You were born to be in the spotlight, dodging bullets, charming your way into and out of trouble. I’m an anchor to you now; you know it but refuse to admit it. I want you to forget me. Why won’t you let me go?”
She closed her eyes, face tilted toward the ceiling. “Because maybe I went crazy over there. Maybe we weren’t this close,” again with the fingers, “to having a life together. Maybe we were already there. Maybe it wasn’t conventional, but it was real, it was us. Maybe I misunderstood sex for more. Maybe I thought that our wedding meant as much to you as it did to me. Maybe I’m the biggest fool to walk planet earth.”
“But now I’m broken so...”
“Yeah, that’s right.”  Nodding, she looked away and brushed the back of her hand over her eyes.  “And I’m too shallow to be the person you need, right? Too superficial? I know the truth. I know that you should be capable of limited mobility, that you are not trapped in that chair, that you have sensations in your right leg and have even managed to stand for a brief period of time here and there. Didn’t you think I’d do some research on your injuries? I may have kept my distance, but I have a knack for getting people to talk to me, remember?  Yes, you’re in a wheelchair, but your situation isn’t hopeless.  You’re the one who gave up, but for the life of me I don’t know why.  It’s not like you. You’re a goddamn colonel in the Marine Corps. You don’t surrender, so what’s going on with you?”
Her words stung. He had heard them for months now and he didn’t know the answer. He couldn’t explain anything to anyone, not even himself.

Excerpt Two:
“None of us are who we were.  Do you think I’m the same person I was before seeing my best friend killed?  Before stepping over Marishka’s body and the bodies of her murdered children?  Before seeing you face down in the dirt?  Do you think I don’t see corpses in my sleep?  Do you think that hasn’t changed me?” she asked.
“You look the same.”  His gaze flicked over her before sliding toward the window. 
  “Maybe I’m still walking on both of my feet, but that doesn’t mean other parts of me aren’t paralyzed.” She scrubbed her fists against the tears and hated herself for being weak.  “I’m pissed at you for denying me access to you in Frankfurt.  You have no idea—none—how much I needed to be with you when you were hurt and you made me out to be a liar.  I’m your wife, for God’s sake.”
“Stop saying that word.” 
“You’re a selfish bastard.”  She shoved her hands through her hair and counted silently to twenty.  “Say what you want, I don’t care because I’d rather fight with you than mourn you. I’d rather you hate me than feel nothing.”
“I do hate you.”
Blowing a strand of hair from her face, she grabbed the ouzo bottle, opened it and slammed cabinet doors looking for a glass.
“I know you’re lying,” she said.
“Get the hell out of here,” he yelled.
“Where are your goddamn glasses?” she asked between clenched teeth.
“How would I know?  I’ve been here less than six hours.”  
“Who needs a glass, right?”  She took a long swig of the liquor. The alcohol burned her throat but felt damn good. She took another swig before meeting his gaze. 
“Is that how you’re dealing with your guilt?  Drinking it away?” he asked.
She held the bottle out toward him.  “Want a taste?”
He looked at her through narrowed eyes, muscle working overtime in his jaw.
“C’mon, babe, look at it this way…maybe a taste will kill you,” she said. 
For the first time since entering the room, a flicker of humor shot through his eyes.  With a shrug, he grabbed the bottle and drank without breaking eye contact. 
“I’m still alive,” he said.
“Sorry to disappoint you…again.”  Needing to touch him, she reached for the scar that zigzagged across his forehead.
He flinched away from her touch.
“You need to leave. You don’t owe me anything,” he said without looking at her face.
She caught her lower lip between her teeth and studied his bent head before answering.  “This isn’t about owing you anything.”
He met her gaze then, annoyance flashing in the brown depths.  But there was something else there, too...pain so intense she took a step back.
“What is wrong with you?” he asked. “Just because I’m in this chair doesn’t mean that you can bully me.”
“Am I bullying you?” She grinned at the idea of bullying him.  He’d always been the badass Marine with more arrogance than necessary.  Her independence clashed with his attitude more often than not, but that had been a good thing.  Maybe...just maybe...he’d missed it.  “I brought you fast food and alcohol.  We even had a fight.  I think you like that I’m here.  I’m livening things up.  You looked pretty bored when I walked in.”
He grabbed her hand before she could snag another fry.  He squeezed her fingers so hard she thought her bones would snap.  “Look at me.  I’m not the man you married.  I’m not even a Marine anymore.  Look at me.”
She only saw the man she loved who stared back with desperation in his eyes. She saw his hair thicker and longer than she’d ever seen it before and liked it. She saw his teeth sink into his lower lip and wanted them sinking into her skin.  She only saw Michael. 
“You’re still the sexiest man on the planet,” she said.
“You’re delusional.”  He dropped her hand as if the mere touch of her skin sickened him.
“Maybe I am.”
“What are you getting out of this?”
“A headache.”
“I can’t…I’m changed.  We’ll never be able to be like we were.”  He looked at his legs.  “Not like how you remember me anyway. I’m different now.”
“So am I.  We’re all different.”
“It’s more than that and you know it.  You and will be...expectations.”
“I see, so I should pretend you don’t exist because you feel awkward about sex? You must not think much of me, Colonel.”  She bit out his rank between clenched teeth. 
“When I see you that’s what I want, are you satisfied now?  Right now I would like to throw you up against that counter, rip those jeans from you and fuck you.  I remember how we were together.  That’s what I want.  I can’t do that.  Do you hear me?  I can’t have what I want and seeing you is torture for me.  I can’t have you.”
Silence quaked in the room.
She put both of her hands on his knees, conscious that he couldn’t feel her touch. “You keep talking about what you’ve lost, but you haven’t lost me.  Don’t you see that?  You may not be a Marine anymore and you may not be able to walk anymore, but you have me.  I love you.  I need you.  Can’t that be enough? And you have your son. What about him? He needs you, too.  You haven’t lost him.” 
“I wish you hadn’t come here.”
“Too bad, I’m here. Deal with it.”  She moved onto his lap and moved her hands over his shoulders. “What’s the problem?”
“Stop this,” he whispered.
“You want me to kiss you. You want to kiss me back.”  She could see it in his eyes, the need, the desire, the question.  “Is that what you want, Michael?”
“What would that prove?”
“Does it have to prove something?  Can’t a kiss be a kiss?”
“Typical man.”  She leaned within a fraction of his lips.  “Don’t you remember high school?  Don’t you remember when a kiss meant everything?”
In a sudden move, he grabbed the back of her head and ground his mouth against hers.  She knew the intensity was meant to shock her so she matched it with her own.  She sat on his lap and plunged her tongue into the recesses of his mouth until he moaned.  His free hand squeezed her breast through the thin material of her blouse but, instead of hurting, it ignited her blood.
The Michael she knew still lived inside this man.  She felt him in the warmth of his mouth, the strength of his hands on her body, the restrained power of his touch.  
She couldn’t stop touching him, hands moved through his hair, over his face, along his shoulders.  Alive.  Here.  She fought back a Hallelujah. 

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