Since it's Red Friday, I thought I'd take an excerpt from one of my SEAL Brotherhood Series books. This one is from the upcoming book SEAL My Home, which releases 3/31/15 but is on preorder now. Just like in SEAL'S Promise, a terrorist cell figures prominently in the story. Here's an excerpt that won't reveal a spoiler.
Here's the blurb:
Bad boy Rory Kennedy was raised in foster care, bouncing in and out of trouble along the way. He finds his true family and real brothers as a Navy SEAL, one of the Navy’s elite warriors. When his BUD/S instructor barked the SEAL’s Motto: Only Easy Day Was Yesterday, he knew he had found home.
Megan Palmer works in a bookstore and finds her passion in life through reading steamy romance novels. Her brief affair with a man she later found out was married has left her damaged, until she meets the handsome SEAL, who stands ready to open her world and give her things she’s only dreamed.
On a skiing trip, Rory suffers a possible career-ending injury and also comes face to face with a past he never knew of, and a family who had abandoned him. His relationship with Megan is tested to the breaking point as Rory wades through the dark waters of recovery and whether or not he can live without the life he loves. A home-grown terrorist cell forces his hand and he discovers his true purpose.
“Detectives, I’ve spent less than ten minutes total talking to him. I barely know him. He told me he was a hedge fund trader. I got that he was successful, I mean, he arranged his private transportation to the hospital in Los Angeles from Big Bear. He had this guy Derek helping him, and he was on the phone and computer. That’s pretty much it. That’s all I know about him, other than the fact that he’d tried to find me when I was little, and failed.”
“And you’ve had no contact since L.A. No phone calls or internet with his office, with this Derek guy?”
“Absolutely no. I haven’t checked my emails in a few days, but last time I did, nothing.”
“Would you check it right now, please?” one of the detectives asked.
Rory got up slowly, positioning his cane for steadiness. Kyle stopped him.
“Let me. Where is it?”
“Next to the bed.”
Rory walked slowly with his cane as a guide, leaned slighty into a stool, setting the computer on his eating bar, the two detectives looking over his shoulder. Scrolling through his gmail account inbox he did find something he’d never seen before.
It was a single line item with a subject line: Raymond Corrigan, from Raymond Corrigan’s computer. Underneath there was a single picture which flashed slowly on the screen line by line. It was a picture of his father, bound and gagged, barefoot, sitting on a chair on a concrete floor of some dark warehouse. He was wearing an orange jumpsuit. On his lap was a copy of the New York Times dated today. His eyes were swollen shut with dark bruises. Underneath the picture were the chilling words:
Proof of Life.
Life is one fool thing after another.
Love is two fool things after each other.
Writing this today because I'm thinking about all of you who are under snow and ice, huddled in homes I hope are safe, and cozy. I can attest to the fact that Spring is here. The trees are blooming in Santa Rosa, Northern California, in the wine country, where I live.
The seasons aren't as colorful here in Wine Country. But we do have some things I love. Let me count the ways…
We have green hills this time of year. In fact, usually St. Patrick's Day is the greenest day of the year. The weeds are still short, the brown stalks of overgrown things from wintertime are broken or long since blown away. Now we have a nice lush carpet, dotted with daffodils in my garden. Spring is like that here. Without a lot of work, it just blooms, like the fruit trees, without a lot of my maintenance. These are the times when I love walking through nurseries. I feel the presence of my mother, who used to spend hours tending her garden. Every year she'd go get another pair of gloves at the nursery, and a new set of white tennis shoes. Don't ask me why they were white. They always were. She washed them every time she used them, and left them drying in the sun for the next day.
Spring is the time for new things, renewals. I explored a new commercial complex last week, an old apple packing plant in Sebastopol, the Barlow Center. I found community garden plots and eclectic stores from a Tibetan artifact store (complete with a painted design in the driveway), two breweries, several restaurants, a coffee roasters, a Waldorf toy and projects store, two wineries, and other retail and professional offices. I love recycled things. Making new things from old things. I love looking at gardens and fencing made from recycled apple tree cuttings.
Some of my best stories are written after I go exploring. It isn't guided meditation, but just exploring. Being guided by what is just around the corner. Kind of like life, right? The undiscovered country or adventure. The new friend I might make today or an old one I'll reconnect with. Making something beautiful today, like a bouquet of my own flowers, or some words that make my heart sing on the page, or helping someone see a shining ray of light on a future they could have, or assisting someone. Even feeding fish can be good therapy on a day like today. They know me. They get excited whenever I go into the office and collect in little rows at the tank, vying for my attention. I'm sure it's my imagination, but it works for me.
Have a glorious one!!! Spring is really just around the corner.
I was talking to my friend recently, and we both admitted we got married because we were totally in lust. We were laughing about how many of our early days of marriage we spent in bed. I can remember my husband saying, “But we have to get something done, Sharon.” My internal thought was, “why?” LOL. How times change. I cherish those years and I cherish the young bride I was and how I viewed the world. We would never get old, we would live forever. Everything would always be exciting and would turn out perfect. Our love would sustain us through thick and thin, if not by the sheer power of sex!
Don't get me wrong, I highly recommend this way of getting together, but love has become so much more for me. In addition to the physicality of making love, the long term friendship and the practice of being in love is what I've come to understand and fully appreciate. That is what sustains me today.
Over the years we learn to bend. Being married can be a lot of work sometimes. There are highs and lows. I'm remembering the line from Good Will Hunting when Robin Williams talks about his wife, and how there were ups and downs, and, with a smile he said, “the year she died was one of those good ones.” I watch couples who talk over dinner and hold hands, at any age. They practice communication and show affection. This is the miracle of love.
The Practice of Love is like a meditation in doing for someone else. We find it easy to do when we love our children. Some would say it's just a natural love. Sometimes loving our partner doesn't feel that natural. And that's when the practice of sharing love comes in. Something simple, but something every day. The practice reminds us that our love isn't how we feel, but how we act.
In the end, being loveable isn't about bodies or sex, although I think it's important to enjoy those things at any age. Being loveable is being worthy of love. And we are worthy of love when we give it away.
And when we give it away with our full heart, it grows and comes back to us ten-fold. Now who said there were no such things as miracles?
I spent Valentine's Day in labor with this little one. He was born on February 15th, today, so many years ago, and was the first of our four children. It was a magical time in my life and something I'm so grateful for having experienced.
So I guess I'd say the Practice of Love is more than sex or passion, or births or families. Love is who we are. Our constant friend, throughout all the phases of our life.
Needed a break today and took myself down to my favorite coffee place, walking by my favorite lingerie shop. I've shopped there in the past – you know – one of those places where the nice German lady comes into the dressing room and lectures me on “the girls” and the proper form for wearing a bra, except I am rather large chested, and when she's done, I beg her to buy a size larger so I don't feel like a trussed turkey. But no, she likes to fit me tight, and she reaches in and does — well you can get the picture.
I bought a nice red outfit for my hubby last Valentine's. I love my husband dearly. Dearly, Madly, Deeply, like the title of Hannah Jayne's book. But for an engagement present I got a bicycle. Some Valentine's Days I've gotten orange carnations. I have to say the gentleman knows how to please me now, and I'm lucky he still tries after all those (no I'm not going to say it) years. And he now gets me flowers. And he provides for me and my crazy ways like no one else ever could. Something delicious about a man who sticks around when you are at your worst, as well as your best. Easy to stick around when things are good. Really hard to keep together when those dark days come. We all get them. And we know the sun is just around the corner, too. I've learned to trust in things I cannot see, measure and treasure my faith. And my love.
My romance themes are True Love Heals In The Gardens Of The Heart. I like it, but it isn't sexy enough to use anywhere. So good. It's mine, and now it's yours. But it's what I write. I do believe in the healing power of love, and it is the theme of all my stories. Men and women find each other, and they transform into their higher, better selves as a result of that meeting. I believe in love at first sight. Love that lasts forever (and I love the title of my new paranormal super bundle, Immortal Valentines-my Valentine's gift to you for just a week). Love is stronger than hate. Quieter than hate. Never lies, and always forgives. And sometimes you have to live without it. Love is so important the Bible devotes a chapter to it.
My folks were married over 55 years before my mother passed. And then, at 80, my father fell in love again and had another ten wonderful years with my now new mother. And she loved him and our family enough to give us all another ten years we would have not had with my dad. He was ready to die without the love of his life. But, and I said this at his funeral, even though my mother had died, he finally came to the conclusion that he wasn't yet ready to give up being a father, grandfather or a husband. And so he set out and accomplished that. We are all the richer for it.
See? You thought we were going to talk about steamy romance novels. I'm talking about love and the healing power of love.
My stories are my love letters to you. In a perfect world, we'd walk down the beach together, or take a hike in the rain forest in Washington, we'd sail on a blue ocean or sit and sip beers listening to beautiful music. You and I can't do all those things. And so we have to pretend.
And for just a little while, all the world is as it should be. The equipment works and the paint's not chipped. People are safe and out of harm's way. There is a happily ever after.
And true love heals in the gardens of the heart, because that's what I wrote.
In my former career, I got to meet some great speakers, great men and women. While I never shared a meal with Walt Disney or Charles Schulz, their legacy is all around me, and I feel as if I knew them really well. Indeed, this is the magic of creating something so endearing, it lasts long after you are gone. I should be so lucky some day.
We've come back from a visit to The Magic Kingdom in Florida, and an Aulani stay in Hawaii. I know a little bit about some of the background of the Disney theme parks because I got to sit and talk to one of Disney's close friends/business associates one day. Most people know what a risk Disney took to build Disneyland, “Where all the horses work and there's no chipped paint.” I've previously written about how that was one thing he noticed about the park nearby where he used to take his girls when they were little. It is a fascinating story about how he got the funds to build the Children's Hospital of L.A., and how it involved getting the Abraham Lincoln exhibit more life-like with the help of a cardiovascular specialist, who in turn requested a children's hospital be built, a promise Disney kept. A story for another day. There are hundreds of these stories.
Having just come from the Gratitude Reception, at the Schulz Museum here in Santa Rosa, I'm struck with the same feeling that I knew Mr. Schulz, “Sparky” as he is known to his friends and family. I walk down the aisles of the comic strips he drew over the decades, witnessing how they brought laughter and introspection to a population hungry for pure entertainment. The simple lines and short phrases endeared Mr. Schulz, and the characters he created, to millions, young and old.
At the Disney resorts, grown men and women wear mouse ears, acting like children, in many cases reliving their own childhoods through the next generation of children. I think it's a gift to be able to make someone laugh. And to give back, very humbly, to the community that fostered and supported them.
Both men loved to draw cartoons. It wasn't an accident when they couldn't find Mr. Disney at the grand opening of the CHLA, and later found him upstairs, sitting on the ground, drawing pictures with some of the little patients and making them smile.
There's a lot to shout about and rant in this world. But there's also a lot to be grateful for. In the end, these kinds of men will be fondly remembered long after those that prey off society. Just like in my books, good always triumphs, is always way stronger than evil. The healing power of love and laughter is much stronger than the screaming. The Bible says it well, “Love is patient, kind.”