A downpour either way he turned. Opting for the lesser storm, Daws walked away from the television and toward the one small window in the sparse room. Lightning flashed thin streaks in the distance. He was drawn to it the way he was drawn to artillery fire in the night. He always enjoyed night training, the way the howitzers shot their rounds high up into nothingness and left a trail of smoke, now and then with a burst of flame. He especially enjoyed the rare bursts of flame. After tonight, he wasn’t sure that enjoyment would last. The call would come. He could do nothing but wait for it.
Thoughts of home surfaced, but he couldn’t go. He had leave time saved. It wouldn’t matter. They were on stand-by. All leave was cancelled.
Not that he had any particular reason to be home. No one was there to worry if he was there or anywhere else, but it was still home. He’d found that thought increasingly important over his ten years of service. After seven years of moving at the whims of the Army, he’d put in for his current duty station as a condition of reenlistment. He was now at least close enough to get back to the city with an easy five and a half hour drive. Daws had a fleeting thought that he should have gone drill and requested Fort Dix. Would’ve been closer. Maybe he still would.
“The liberation of Kuwait has begun.”
At Fitzwater’s voice, Daws yanked his eyes back to the screen. Apache helicopters had struck Baghdad and Kuwait. A shiver crawled through his body into his soul. He was prepared, as well as a man could be prepared for the journey into something unknown. His mind was set for it to happen. Still, he wasn’t gung ho waiting and hoping, as a few he knew. Very few. Most were resolved, aware it was their job, what they’d signed up to do if ever necessary, what they’d trained to do. They would happily go on about their business if the call didn’t come, however.
He turned from the dull light of the room to the barely dark outside the window, to raindrops reflecting the building’s security light as they fell, to tree branches whipped by rushing wind. Thunder rumbled louder, announcing the storm’s advance. Appropriate.
A sharp ring startled him, even though he was waiting for it.
As he turned the television down and grabbed the receiver, he managed to pull his well-taught military bearing into his voice, as well as his stance. “Dawson.”
“Sergeant. I assume you’re watching the news.”
“I wanted to be the first to let you know, although your lieutenant will send out the formal announcement within the hour. We leave tomorrow.”
Tomorrow. He’d hoped for a couple of days. Still, they’d been warned. “My men will be ready.”
“I have no doubt.” The major’s voice was calm, light. As always. “At ease, Sergeant. I can feel you at attention even through the phone.”
A light chuckle preceded a pause. “Fred, it’ll be good to have you at my back.”
This is Read An Ebook Week and I’m one of many participating through Smashwords. The excerpt above is the opening for my newest, Moondrops & Thistles, set at the beginning of Operation Desert Storm and continuing the next couple of years. Yes, it is war related, but it is not overly graphic. It is romance, but it is still not graphic. It focuses on the growing relationship of Daws, my Army Sergeant, and Deanna, working in advertising and trying to grow in her field. In the midst of the relationship, Army life is depicted (honestly, not the way you often see on television and in some other novels) and they deal with separations and effects of battle. It also shows Deanna’s struggle through iffy choices and a male-dominated career. It is societal. It is romantic. It is deep characterization and question-asking.
And it’s on sale this week in ebook format for 25% off. (I meant to make it 50% off but that puts it less than $0.99 which is not supported.)
Its counterpart, Moondrops & Thistles, short & spicy, is also 25% off. At roughly 2/3rds the length, much of the societal and war issues are removed and love scenes are a bit more intense (more straight genre romance, with more focus on Deanna than on Daws). Barely over $0.99 this week, it’s a bargain for romance lovers!
It starts like this:
“Moron.” Deanna swiveled back toward her desk and half wished the man would have heard her. She supposed that would be grounds to get fired, though. Maybe she didn’t care.
Of course she cared.
At twenty-seven, she expected to be more than just assistant to a production manager. She did more of his work for him than she was paid for, or that was ever acknowledged. She’d been at the top of her classes, even while supporting herself with the waitress job that quickly led to the hostess job – she had great people skills. Her mother used to say it would be her saving grace, if she could rein it in and throw it the right direction. Deanna long ago decided marketing was the right direction. She could talk her way out of, or into, most anything. She critiqued every commercial and every advertisement, seeing things she’d do differently. Maybe she wasn’t always right, but she could always convince someone she was. She had her hard-earned business associates, strong in English, along with her graphic art certificate. And she had six years with the same company. Whatever the socio-political scene these days said, advertising was still a man’s business and harder for her to be granted the respect she’d earned.
But that was the game and Deanna would keep playing it while she worked her way up. Not the way he wanted her to do it, either, the slime ball. So she wore her skirts fitted instead of baggy and droopy. She wasn’t droopy. There was nothing at all droopy about her and she wouldn’t pretend otherwise. All those mornings at the gym weren’t for nothing. It didn’t mean he had the right to assume she was what she wasn’t.
Moron. All men were nothing but morons. A shame she still needed, wanted, one of them. Not that one, though. Not if her boss was the last man on earth. Well, maybe then. After all, he did have the right parts. At least she assumed he did.
Allowing herself a chuckle and hoping if it ever came to getting stuck with the last man on earth that his parts would be worthy of the task, Deanna dropped the folder holding next week’s potential schedule onto her desk and checked the time. Ten more minutes. Then she could walk out of this metal and glass excuse for a building and find somewhere more quaint.
There were still a few quaint bars in Manhattan. Some still had pretty brick or stone fronts instead of metal and glass. Of course, they all held the same scum-bag mentality men: looking for one thing and pretending otherwise. Such a difference from her little hometown. Kentucky didn’t have much to offer as far as the kind of job she wanted, but it did have real men who weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty or open a door for a lady. Men who still said ma’am and please and thank you. She had no doubt they were looking for the same thing, but at least they were more often polite while doing it.
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The title of Moondrops & Thistles came from an Abraham Lincoln quote and meshes with the characters.
Interested? This is a great week to check it out in either version, or both! If you buy one version and decide you’d like to try the other, leave a review for the one you read on Smashwords, let me know you want the other, and I’ll send you a deeply discounted coupon code for it.
I also have the full version available in print for those of you who would rather have the book in hand. Go to ElucidatePublishing.net for purchase info. They come personally signed with a couple of bookmarks, one for you and one to share with a friend.
Interested in an interview for your blog about this book or my work in general? Email! I love interacting with readers!
Over the rest of the week, I’ll feature my other books here. Come back each day for new excerpts!