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Honoring the Members of our Armed Forces

          A very happy Sunday afternoon to all my followers.  In honor of our upcoming holiday that honors our Veterans, I'm devoting the next two weeks' posting to special previews from Once A Soldier.  I'm asking each of you to consider purchasing and downloading the book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers.  All my royalties benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. Please help me support the men and women who have sustained severe injuries while defending our freedoms.
* * * *
            Marco opened his eyes to pain so intense he had trouble focusing on his surroundings.  Guiliana and Jake stood by his bedside, but Ay’ana was nowhere in sight.  No surprise there.  He knew the only way she’d hold his hand and cry over him was in his dreams.
            “G,” his voice rasped deep in his throat, “when…”
            “Don’t try to talk, Marco, just rest.  I’ll stay with you.  Jake has to go by the office, but I’m not moving from your bedside.”
            “Plea …se, go…‘mmm fine, dreammmmmmm...”  Marco’s eyes closed again.  The next time he opened them, an orderly dressed in scrubs with a stethoscope draped around his neck, stood at the foot of the bed studying his chart.  He observed the man in silence for a long moment before he managed to force the words out of a mouth dehydrated from the medications.  “I know you, don’t I?”
            “Probably not, Colonel.  I just have one of those faces.”  The man turned and winked at him as he walked out.  As he did, Marco noticed his footwear.  Hand tooled boot tops showed above the sterile shoe covers medical staffs wore around the hospital.  Wow, some dream, although I can’t quite recall all the details . . . or maybe it’s the drugs . . . better living through chemistry.
* * * *
            Days passed and with each one, Marco got a little stronger.  He moved into a room two weeks after his surgery and had to contend with official visits.  He knew they were only doing their jobs, but it didn’t add to his peace of mind.  Admit it Domenico, you’re scared.  What happens if the staff weenies don’t give me the time I need to prove I can cut it?  He stared out the window at the bleak winter day.  The weather matched his mood.
            “Colonel Domenico?”  Marco looked away from the window to see a young man standing in the doorway.
            “Yes, ah, Larry Clarke isn’t it?  I recall …”
            “You’ve got a great memory, sir, I wasn’t sure you’d remember me.  When we met, I was still a Norwich cadet and scared stupid over all the talk I’d heard about Ranger training.”  The young man looked sheepish.  “I made it through on my first try, but I owed a lot of the success to the pep talk you gave me.”
            “Thanks, positive feedback is always welcome, especially right now.  Come in and grab a chair.  Tell me what’s going on in your life.”
            Marco watched as Larry crossed the room with the uneven gait unique to someone who wore a prosthesis and eased down into the bedside chair.  He knew this wasn’t going to be a feel good story.
            “I branched Engineer, did all the things required of new engineers, and completed two deployments—one to Iraq and the other to Afghanistan.  The last one didn’t…  Well, I’m doing fine now and working with the Veteran’s Administration…”  He broke off at the alarmed expression that crossed Marco’s face before he got himself under control.  “Oh, I’m not here on an official visit, I only wanted to stop by and see you.”
            “I may yet need your official visit, but until then, let’s talk about you.  Tell me what happened.”
            “I deployed in support of the ongoing operation in Afghanistan.  Two of my squad members and I sustained injuries during a firefight in Helmand province.  They transported us to Germany first and then here to Walter Reed.  I spent the better part of six months in recovery and therapy.  I knew from the severity of my wounds, I would never see a battlefield again.  I didn’t want to do it but I accepted the medical discharge.”  Larry shook his head and waited a minute before he continued.  “I was very disappointed, but even more scared.  I didn’t know what my next step should be.  However, as soon as I was coherent, physical therapists showed up at my bedside and so did personnel from the VA.” (Special preview will conclude next Sunday.)

All the Days of Forever - Bonus preview installment

I decided to conclude the preview from All the Days of Forever, the third book in the Domenico Family Case Files series with a bonus installment.  I hope it will pique your interest.
* * * *
            Celia bowed her head at her husband’s gravesite.  “Brian, I miss you so much sometimes I can’t breathe.”  Even though he died ten months ago, I still have trouble believing he won’t walk through the door at the end of the day.  Some days, I find myself dialing his office number.  “I know you won’t like it, but I’m returning to work for a while.  Steven Brancusi called me to ask if I would conduct a compliance audit for him.  Don’t worry about the girls, I’ll find someone I can trust to stay with them when I’m away from the house.  You know I’d never shove them into a day care facility.  Marisa would feel abandoned for sure.”  She reached over and clamped her left hand on the cold edge of the marble headstone in a white-knuckled death grip.  “Happy birthday, my darling, I will always love you.”
* * * *
Curious?  Download the complete story from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, MuseItUpPublishing or your other favorite online retailer.

All the Days of Forever - Last preview installment

        It's a foggy day here in Florida, but the temps are in the low 80's so I have no complaints.  Whatever the weather does here, I don't have to shovel it!  Foggy days and lazy Sunday afternoons are made for curling up with a good book.  Here's the last preview of All the Days of Forever.  Enjoy!
* * * *
         Celia frowned.  His outspoken advice didn’t qualify as a soothing bedside manner, but he’d been the family doctor for too long to sugar coat his words.  “I’ve had those same thoughts, but I suffer a massive attack of guilt two seconds later.”  Celia sat down again in the chair and twisted her hands together.  “I loved Brian almost from the time we met, and he was a good husband.  There are times I can’t believe he’s really gone.  I know, at least on an intellectual level, my life must go on.  Unless I do something now, I’ll cripple any hopes the girls and I have for a normal life, but I feel so disloyal to my husband.  Guiliana read me the riot act about it the last time we talked.”  She shrugged remembering her sister’s very pointed remarks.  “I know she means well but—”
            The doctor smiled.  “Despite her hot-tempered personality, your sister always did have a lot of sense.  You might consider listening to her advice.” 
            Celia huffed out a breath in resignation.  “If you’re sure I’m doing the right thing, I guess I’ll call Steven Brancusi and tell him I’ll accept his offer to return as soon as I find a reliable caregiver for the girls.  Maybe I’ll get lucky and find someone right away.”  She gathered up her purse and coat.  “Thanks for the time and your advice, Doctor Giannelli, I’ll stay in touch.”
            “Call me if I can be of further assistance, Celia.  The girls’ pediatrician always keeps me up to date on them so you’re my main concern.”
* * * *
             Want to know what happens?  Download the book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Muse It Up Publishing or other online retailers and find out.  Happy reading!

All the Days of Forever - Preview Installment #3

Welcome, back.  Today I'd like to introduce you to Cecelia's girls, Marissa and Mariana.  They are little dolls and you can see why Cecelia hates to leave them to return to work!
* * * *
           “I’d say it would be the best solution for both of you.  Your only obstacle will be to find someone the girls, or more to the point—Marisa, feel comfortable with as a substitute.”  Doctor Giannelli watched Celia shift in her chair.  “If you force her to deal with a mother who lives a normal life, she’ll outgrow this deepening dependency on your constant presence.  When she sees you leave and return on a regular basis, and I’d advise you to vary your schedule a bit if you could, she’ll soon realize no matter what time you leave or how long you’re gone, you’ll always return home.”
            Celia rose from the chair and prowled the small office.  She needed an educated opinion and she could think of no better source than the Domenico family physician.  She knew from experience he’d tell her the truth—although it might not be what she wanted to hear, it would be what she needed.
            “Mariana is too young to understand, although if you let this situation continue, she’ll learn from her sister’s example and you’ll really have problems.  You’re doing them both a disservice by continuing to hover over them.”  The doctor quit speaking for a minute and scrutinized her before he continued.  “Are you using the girls as an excuse not to move on with your life?  You’re a young woman, Celia, too young to retire from the company of others.” (To be continued...)

Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, MuseItUpPublishing, and other online retailers.

Story Preview - All the Days of Forever

A bright, sunny happy Sunday to you all.  Last week, I gave you the story premise of "All the Days of Forever" and today I want to share the first preview, a selection from the Chapter One that I hope you'll enjoy.
* * * *
Cecelia Tonelli averted her eyes from the reflection in the window, shying away from deeper contemplation of the haggard image and the dark circles discoloring her light olive complexion.
            “What’s on your mind, Celia?  I can’t find a thing wrong with you.”  Doctor Giannelli peered over the tops of his half glasses at her.  “Something is bothering you; otherwise you wouldn’t be here asking me to give you something to help you sleep—something I’d rather not do.  There isn’t any bad news, although you could use an additional ten pounds.”
            Celia frowned at his last comment.  She knew the black suit she wore was now one size too small for her five foot four inch figure.  “My closet full of anxieties bothers me—two in particular.  I’m not sure what worries me more—making a decision about what to do in the near future or Marisa.”  Celia paced back to the chair in front of his desk and sat down.  “She’s always been such a self-possessed, independent child.  Now a year after Brian…she still clings whenever I try to leave the house.  She’s convinced I’m leaving and never coming back.  I’m at my wits end trying to reassure her.”
            “Such a reaction isn’t unusual in the circumstances, but since you’re around the girls all the time, her dependency sounds like it’s deepening.  Where are they today?”
            “My neighbor’s daughter, Judi, agreed to babysit.  I want to visit Brian when I leave here so she volunteered to spend the day with the girls.  Marisa was almost hysterical when I told her I’d be gone most of the morning.
            The doctor studied her with a question in his eyes.  “And the decision about what to do for the future?”
            “My former employer called me earlier this week about returning to the firm.  I’m of two minds about agreeing to it.  I know it would be the best thing for me to get out among adults again, but I’m worried.  Will my doing so create more of a problem for Marisa?”  Celia looked over at the doctor who had known her since birth.  (To be continued)

All the Days of Forever - Cecilia Domenico's Story

Happy Easter and Passover to those of you who celebrate this holiday.  Today, we'll begin the preview for the last book in "The Domenico Family Case Files" with Cecelia's story.
* * * *
Sometimes your forever love isn't yours to keep

Celia Tonelli and Brian Tonelli had a storybook marriage. When fate weaves a new destiny for Celia, she needs to get out of the house—both for her own sake and for her oldest daughter to grow accustomed to a normal routine. Thus, she returns to her professional career as a compliance auditor. Her long time friend and former employer, Steven Brancusi, has always loved her. Lucien Surette, the enigmatic owner of Sabrelight Industries, covets her for his own. Both men are handsome successful executives, but diametric opposites in personality and looks. However, Celia doesn’t yet think of herself as a single woman, or know how to date and be a mother at the same time. Only after a tragedy do Celia, Steven, and Luc come to realize what all the days of forever hold for each of them.
* * * *
All the Days of Forever available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other download retailers

Last installment - Once a Soldier

I hope everyone has enjoyed a lovely Palm Sunday with their friends and family.  I had a group of close friends over today for the Italian version of high tea.  Lots of food, fun, and conversation.  It was a wonderful day.

Here is the last installment of Marco's story.  If you feel inclined to purchase the rest of the story, please remember my author's proceeds benefit the Wound Warrior Project.  Help me support those wonderful men and women who have suffered serious injuries while protecting our freedoms.

* * * *
            “You really did it to yourself this time, didn’t you?  As I recall, the first time I met you, you were flat on your back...although, honesty compels me to admit that I put you there.”  Ay’ana whispered to the unconscious man as she recalled the incident.  She’d returned earlier than planned to the dorm room that she had shared with Guiliana.  When she opened the door, she saw an unknown man rise from the bed and come toward her.  Instinct had taken over and she went on the defensive.  Her knee caught him in the groin at the same time she jabbed her fist into his solar plexus.  She’d been mortified when he regained his male dignity and introduced himself.  He always told her he’d understood her reaction and forgiven her, but his behavior over the years didn’t seem to indicate that it was the case.  Marco called her “The African Queen” and appeared to tolerate her only because of her close relationship with his sister.  She retaliated by referring to him by his rank with “Mercenary” tacked on, a title to which his reaction was always the snarled response, “yeah, and a damn fine one.” 
            The beeping of the monitors dragged Ay’ana's thoughts of the past back to the present, but as close as she could tell, nothing on them indicated a problem.  Marco slept on oblivious to his surroundings.  Ay’ana sat down and reached over to grasp his limp hand where it rested on the bed.  Despite their ongoing animosity, she had deep feelings for Marco—so deep she hadn’t dared admit them to herself—or anyone else.  After all, what would someone like Marco, a well-educated, Italian Catholic devoted to his career and family, see in a bi-racial Jewess who owned a catering company?

Once a Soldier-the preview continues with installment #4

Marco lies in a medically induced coma while Ay'ana waits for the doctor to answer her questions about the future.  Let's see what he has to say...
* * * *
            “I don’t know at this point.  As I said, we have to wait and see.  The damage to the bones in the leg is a clean break and we expect it should heal without complications, but the severe bruising to the back combined with the broken hip could cause some temporary paralysis.  We’ll do everything we can and he’ll start physical therapy as soon as possible, but at this point, that’s all I know.  Best case…I’d say he’ll be out of action for at least a year—maybe longer.  He will require several hours of intensive therapy a day, either here or at another facility near his residence.  Again, I’d advise you to get some rest, Ms. Levy.  Your continued presence here tonight will serve no useful purpose.”
            Ay’ana gritted her teeth.  “I’ll stay until the family arrives.  After they get here, I’ll go home for a while.  Please have someone let me know when I can sit with him.”
            “Of course, ma’am, as you wish.  I’ll have the nurse come and get you when it’s time.”  The surgeon took one last look at her as he left the room.  The image of her lovely coffee toned face glissaded through his tired, sleep deprived mind and lifted his mood.  I wouldn’t mind waking up to see her sitting next to me . . . especially if I were in as bad a shape as Domenico is.
            Two hours later, Ay’ana paced up and down the short distance along the side of Marco’s bed.  She sighed and looked down at him.  Even unconscious, Marco’s intense virility filled the room.  The extent of his injuries overwhelmed her, submerging the usual animosity she always experienced in his presence. (The preview concludes next week.)
* * * *

Can't wait to see what happens?  Download the story now from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or other online retailers.)

The "Once a Soldier" preview continues - Installment #3

         Good Sunday afternoon to you all from sunny Florida.  Our preview of Marco's story continues as Ay'ana Levy, his sister's best friend, represents the family and waits for word on Marco's condition.
* * * *
           Ay’ana alternated between sitting and pacing as she waited for word.  She remembered the last time she’d seen Marco.  The occasion had been the baptism of the Leoni twins three years ago.  Pride and love had suffused his rugged features and the brilliant green eyes that highlighted six feet two inches of hard, masculinity.  His face, burned by the harsh desert sun to the color of dark, aged oak, glowed with health and vitality.  They’d managed with difficulty to restrain their mutual antipathy during the christening celebration for Michael and Angelina.  Since then, Guiliana mentioned him on occasion, and she knew he’d later sustained a minor injury in a combat-related incident, but she hadn’t seen him since the ceremony in Italy three years ago.
            At midnight, the sound of someone entering the room impinged on Ay’ana’s consciousness and she looked up to see a surgeon still dressed in blood stained scrubs standing before her. 
            “Ms. Levy?  I understand you’re the family representative.”
            “Yes, Doctor, I am.  How is Colonel Domenico?”
            “He came through the surgery okay and is now in the recovery room.  Once we know he’s stable, he’ll be in the CCU unit, and you’ll be able to see him, but only for a short time.  We’re keeping him in a drug-induced coma for a couple of days to manage the pain—he won’t know you’re there.  You might consider going home to rest now and returning tomorrow.”
            “Yes, but how serious are his injuries?  No one has told us anything.”  Ay’ana had difficulty asking the question.  The hammering of her heart against her lungs robbed her of breath and made it difficult to speak.
            The doctor gave her a thoughtful look as if wondering how much he should say.  “We’ve put him back together.  He bruised his back—it suffered a hard hit in the crash, well, we’ll just have to wait and see.  In addition to a broken left leg and the hairline crack in the right ankle, he has a high femoral neck fracture with displacement.  I did an internal fixation using a compression screw, a plate with screws, and a Knowles pin.  The screw placed above and at a slight angle to the compression screw will resist shear force on the bone.  He’ll need another surgery to remove the hardware in a couple of years, but that’s too far down the road at this point to present any concerns.  I realize this probably doesn’t mean—”
            “Are you saying he might be paralyzed?”  Aghast, Ay’ana stared at the surgeon. (To be continued...)
* * * *
Download the story now from Amazon and support the Wounded Warrior Project:

First Installment - "Once a Soldier"

      Happy daylight savings day...and yes, I'm discombobulated.  I always am on the weekends we change time.  My apologies for being late with this post. Here is the first installment of Marco's story.  Please review it, and if you're so inclined to purchase--which I encourage--all my author's proceeds benefit the Wounded Warrior Project.  Please join me in supporting our troops who stand on the ragged edge of freedom and those who would see us perish in darkness.
* * * *
     The rotors thrummed, changed pitch, and lifted the Blackhawk helicopter into the frigid night wind.  The Middle Eastern tribesman who had crawled aboard as the bird hovered settled into one of the webbed seats in the back of the small cockpit and tried to get comfortable.  He braced his booted feet on the rucksack he’d thrown on the floor and drew his knees up high enough to rest his arms on them.  Lieutenant Colonel Marco Domenico yanked off the rope agal holding the filthy ghutrah in place on his thick hair, tugged on a black watch cap one of the soldiers handed to him, and slipped on a headset.  He then draped the loosened cloth around his face hoping it would offer some warmth for the exposed skin not covered by his heavy black beard.            
            He keyed the mike in his headset.  “Holy Mother of God, it’s cold in here.  Someone needs to pay the heat bill.” 
            “You say that every time you get on one of my birds.  Must be getting forgetful in your old age.”  The Nightstalker pilot grinned at him over his shoulder, his face looking like a green space alien’s in his night vision goggles.(To be continued March 15)