The Secret Cravings Publishing Wounded Warriors Project Blog Hop
Hello everyone and welcome to the Secret Cravings Publishing Wounded Warrior Project Blog Hop! Each author in this hop is donating $30 to the Wounded Warrior Project. Check out their incredible work by clicking here!
What our men and women of the Armed Services is simply amazing. Thank you so much for keeping us free!
Since each of my series has a military character in them I will award one lucky commenter the entire Black Irish series in the e-book format of their choice (including the soon to be released Trial by Fire) and another lucky commenter will win the entire Hard Drive series! I will pick the winners Sunday night.
Avery Walker is one of my newest characters and quickly became one of my favorites. A Marine who lost her hearing when her transport was destroyed in Afghanistan, she is feisty, strong and has a huge problem with celebrities. This proves to be a problem for her new love, Rico Choate, who just happens to be a well known MMA fighter.
Here is an excerpt from Breaking the Silence (Hard Drive #2)…
Avery’s heart thundered in her chest as she snapped awake. Her open mouth told her she had to be screaming. The back of her hand burned from something rough scratching against it. She frantically searched around. Her breathing slowed as she realized she was in her living room. The television flashed the DVD logo. She glanced at the cable box—two fourteen in the morning. She felt the couch shift beside her. She rubbed the back of her hand as she slowly turned around.
Rico massaged his jaw as he stared at her with concern. She felt her face flush hot. The light burn against her skin had been the stubble on his cheek. She had smacked him in her sleep.
He let go of his face to sign to her. Are you all right? Nightmare?
Avery shrugged. Sort of. Memories I would rather forget.
Rico’s expression darkened. Afghanistan. The bomb.
She nodded. He tugged her into his arms and held her tight. She felt his forearms let her loose while his biceps still hugged her tight. His fingers appeared between them.
I will never let anything happen to you. Ever. I promise you.
She looked at him, slowly exploring his cheekbones, his slightly crooked nose, his sapphire blue eyes. No one had ever promised to protect her. She took care of herself. No one had ever cared about her that much before.
She smiled as she kissed him. His lips parted, his tongue tracing her teeth before tangling with hers. She felt the butterflies let loose in her belly as his fingers, the ones that told her everything about him, now gently stroked her flesh at the curve of her back just above the waistband of her jeans. He pressed a kiss to her forehead. It’s late. You need sleep. I need to get home.
She gazed into his eyes before she signed her response. Stay here tonight, curled up on the couch with me. In case I have more nightmares.
He smiled warmly at her as he caressed her hair. Of course, I will.
Avery cuddled against his chest with a sigh. She could feel the thud of his heart against her cheek. She looked up and met his eyes.
Tell me about it, he signed.
What happened in Afghanistan.
Her breath caught in her throat. She had never told anyone about the bombing, not even her family. It had torn her Dad apart. She was Daddy’s only girl, and he couldn’t help her. But her father wasn’t Rico. Her family had never vowed to protect her. They had made decisions for her, as if she was no longer able to do so for herself. They had taken over as her caretakers when she didn’t need caretakers.
She needed someone to break down her walls, to hold her, to listen. Like Rico did.
She sighed. I was Military Police Officer at Camp Dwyer in the Helmand River Valley of the Garmsir District. Almost instantly, I became friends with Davey. I think he was hoping for more at first, but I had no interest. I was more worried about my career. I wanted to be like my Dad. Davey and I became best friends. We told each other everything. Having someone like that made living in a war torn country a little easier.
One morning, we loaded into the transport to travel to one of the checkpoints. Davey was going on about the Yankees. He had just caught a game. Even though I had told him many times I had no interest in baseball, he always bragged about them. And I always listened.
Her eyes burned. Out of nowhere, the truck filled with fire. I tried grabbing for Davey, but grazed his arm as I was thrown out of the vehicle. The explosion was the last thing I heard. I thought I saw gunfire above. I tried staying awake, tried to fight back, but everything went dark.
I woke up in the field hospital. I could see people talking to me, but couldn’t hear them. It was maddening. I found out my eardrums had been ruptured. I also suffered other injuries. She pulled back her long, blonde curls to show the scaring on her neck. Then, she pulled her shirt off her shoulder to reveal another set of scars. Rico dipped his lips against her skin, kissing her wounds. She smiled softly as the butterflies let loose in her belly again.
She took a deep breath to steady herself before she continued. When I was finally able to communicate, I asked where Davey was. He was big. He was strong. And he was probably tearing the place apart looking for me.
I was told he was killed instantly by the IED. I didn’t believe the doctor who told me. He just did not know Davey. But then, my commanding officer sat down and told me the same thing. Then, he told me I was being sent to a military hospital in the States. I didn’t have time to mourn. I couldn’t. I swallowed my feelings, thanked him for all he had done for me, and prepared to leave.
My parents met me at the hospital and immediately took over my life. They made my decisions for me. I no longer spoke for myself. They lined up every medical professional they could think of to research if my hearing loss could be reversed. It couldn’t. I could only take so much before I e-mailed Lindsay, moved here, and started my classes. That’s it. That’s how I got here.
Rico gazed down at her as he gently brushed her hair from her face. I am so sorry, baby.
Nothing to be sorry for.
You are an incredible woman, Avery. I do not deserve you.
She smiled. Probably not. But I love you, anyway.
Avery snuggled close as she yawned. Rico tugged the blanket she had brought from her bedroom around them both then settled into the pillow she had gotten for him. She pressed her cheek to his chest again, feeling the steady rhythm of his heartbeat as she drifted back to sleep.
***The Winner of The Black Irish Series is Jeanine and the winner of The Hard Drive Series is Amy Rose Bennett! Thank you everyone for commenting!!***