Twenty-seven years, more than a dozen deployments, five kids…and one missing wife.
After twenty-seven years of marriage and service to his country, Gavin McIntyre returns from what he hopes will be his last deployment before either reaching the highest attainable enlisted rank in the Marine Corps or retiring. But what he returns to leaves him flat aback with a busted mast and broken rudder. His wife is a no show for the homecoming. Using the ages old adage of improvise, adapt, and overcome, he makes his way home only to discover, she hasn’t simply forgotten to pick him up from the bus, she’s gone. In her wake, Gavin finds his home set up boot camp style and twenty dollars in the cookie jar, but any evidence he’s ever had a wife or five children with her is deplete.
Pregnant at sixteen and married to a marine in a less than romantic ceremony courtesy of the local Justice, Raylyn McIntyre has spent almost three decades playing the dutiful patriotic wife, catering to the whims of the military. She’s lost track of how many places she’s lived, how many deployments she’s endured, and how many tears she’s shed. But most of all, she’s lost track of herself. With a husband who’s so wrapped up in saving the world he can’t see he’s losing his family, Ray resorts to the one tactic he might understand…a full frontal attack with extreme prejudice, which proves to get Gavin’s waning attention.
Nothing good ever comes easy, though, and just when her choice of battle plan seems to be working, tragedy befalls their family. As Ray and Gavin struggle to find center, they also struggle with the notion that forgiveness of self is often the only path to forgiveness of another, and that path is not only bumpy but filled with pitfalls.
“Meatloaf? Dear God,” Ray mumbled, buckling up.
No wonder Gavin looked at her like she’d sprouted an additional head. Meatloaf. Good grief. If she’d have been herself this morning instead of some woman she hadn’t recognized since the first of the year, she’d have skipped the meatloaf, had the curtains hemmed by noon, and would have had one of Gavin’s favorite meals ready and waiting at five o’clock on the dot with a card, a box of cigars, and a bottle of wine. And all the cookies and cards and candies would have been mailed days ago.
But Ray wasn’t herself. Hell, she wasn’t even the woman she was almost a year ago when she went on a tirade and decided enough was enough and she had to find herself. Who she’d become since the rift between her and Gavin had widened was an empty shell of middle-aged flesh who couldn’t remember what she’d gone to the grocery for without two detailed lists in case she lost one in the process of getting to the store.
“Forget about the damn meatloaf,” Gavin said, merging into traffic and heading for the front gate. “Forget about the meatloaf, the pizza, the movie, the cookies and the damn cards. Forget about my cigars. Tonight we’re taking care of us. Period. We, I, should have been doing that more often all along. My fault…”
“So this has everything to do with making yourself feel better? Not me?” Ray accused, happy for the reprieve of wallowing in her own guilt and even happier to be able to poke at someone else’s. “To ease your own guilt because you’ve missed so many special occasions? You think one nice dinner out is supposed to fix years of forgetfulness?”
“If it makes you feel better to yell at me, go ahead,” Gavin said. “It beats the dead silence that’s hung over us ever since the first of the year. My fault? You bet your sweet ass, woman, but I’m not going to sit and stew in the guilt I could lay on myself. I’m going to fix it. And you’re going to stop feeling guilty, too. We deserve a life and damn it, we’re going to start living it.”
“You think it’s that easy?” Ray shot at him. “You think we can just decide one day okay, let’s just forget the last twenty-seven years and pow, everything is just hunky-dory?”
“No, I don’t think it’s going to be that easy, but it could be easier if you’d let it.”
“Now I’m the one being difficult?” Ray huffed and crossed her arms under her breasts. “Let me tell you, mister, you’re the one who’s been difficult.”
“Yes, I know that,” Gavin agreed.
“Oh, that’s great,” Ray snipped, steam building. “Now you think to take the wind out of my sails by being agreeable and stealing my reasons for being angry? Stop agreeing with me, it makes it difficult for me to stay pissed off!”
Born and raised in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, Denisea Kampe was spinning tales before she could even spell and once her sixth grade creative writing teacher encouraged her by leaving a most prophetic comment on one of her assignments, the wheels of destiny were set in motion. But those wheels would need greased again and again as her writing would take a back seat to life and her jobs of mom and wife many times over before she’d finally see her dream of becoming a published writer come to fruition in 2010. Denisea is a military wife who’s traveled the world over. She’s lived in four states and Okinawa Japan and held more drivers’ licenses than she can count. Her nest is empty save one furry and quite mischievous Siberian Husky and one spoiled rotten Rat Terrier mix. Denisea takes much of her inspiration for her heroes from the marines she’s lived around since marrying her very own fairy tale prince in dusty cammies. Coining the term realmantica, she strives to produce quality romance in a realistic setting. Her genre of choice is contemporary romance and when she’s not writing, she enjoys reading everything she can get her hands on, trips to the museum, taking field research trips, crafting, and sewing. Her works include One Tear, The Executive Officer’s Wife, Private Pirouette, and the Slower Lower series. Denisea loves to hear from her readers and can be found at deniseakampe.blogspot.com
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