I have begun…just barely…work on Book 4 of the Sergeant Mike’s Miracle Tour novella series. My labor of love for the men, women and families who give and sacrifice so much to protect the rest of us.
So picking up where Shared Burdens left off… Mike and Esther have ridden off into the sunset. But that is what I hate about the romance genre. The book ends…just when things start to get good. The story is not over with love and commitment…it is just beginning. But since I don’t write in any one genre…I don’t follow rules (Oh really? Who would have ever guessed that?).
So Chapter 1 finds them in a hotel in Houston…and still struggling with settling in to… well, LIFE. But don’t we all?
Former Master Sergeant Michael O’Malley studied the woman across the room from him. He was certainly glad that his training as a U S Marine had taught him to think on his feet. Because this situation, this woman was not something he had planned for. Hell, this was more than his wildest fantasy about her.
And Esther Samuels had been the sole leading lady in all his fantasies for over two years. Almost from the moment her son, Lieutenant Thomas Samuels, had begun sharing his funny stories of life growing up in small town Texas with his single Mom, Mike had been hooked by the strength, love and character of this woman. When he had seen her photograph, well, her exotic mixed race beauty only sealed the deal.
But life was rarely that simple. The past two years had been full of Fate’s cruel twists and turns. For both of them. Losing her son to an improvised explosive device, IED, had been the one of the worsts. Mike still had more than his fair share of nightmares about that day. About holding the dying man that had been one of his best commanding officers in almost a quarter of a century in the Corps. About his final promise to him…to look after his Mama.
Mike’s throat tightened as he watched her rummage through the green duffle bag that he knew had belonged to his friend. If Tommy had known his less than honourable feelings for this woman, would he have extracted that vow? Probably not.
He definitely would not have if he had any idea how the two of them had spent the past week in her bedroom just across from the closed door where his friend had grown up.
Mike had spent most of the two plus hour ride on his Harley Davidson Road King with the woman’s body pressed tight against his, her arms wrapped about his waist. It had heaven and it had been hell.
A thousand times he asked himself what he was thinking…bringing her with him on this one-way journey to his…his final battle, he supposed. But the truth was he was a selfish son of a bitch, who wanted as many stolen moments has he could gather with the only woman he had ever loved or ever would.
Of course, a smart woman like her would figure out soon enough how fucked up he was. When she did, he would buy her a ticket back…
He sighed, that was the problem. He did not want her going back there. Not to Sebida, Texas. It was not just that that house held so many memories of her son that she could never truly be free, never move on, never learn to live again. No, even though all of that was true, what really bothered Mike was the cruelty and hatred that small town held towards her and her son.
It had taken him months to recognize the bitterness that occasionally seeped into Tommy’s voice when he told stories about growing up in that place. Little League coaches and Scout leaders that turned out not to the best of role models for a young man.
But despite all that, she had done it. She had raised one of the finest men and Marines he had ever known. She had instilled a code of honor in her son long before the Corps got hold of him. A code built upon myths, legends and heroes that Mike knew nothing about.
His heart stuttered in his chest as he reminded himself that this was just temporary. This woman was books, theatre and things he knew nothing about. Hell, he had barely finished high school. He had certainly never been much of a reader, especially not those kinds of stories. He had enough issues with Christianity and Islam. He certainly had no interest in ancient ones like her Greeks and Romans. This woman deserved so much more than some busted up old Devil Dog that was for certain.
He just hoped that this road ahead would be kind to her, that somewhere along the way she found something new, something better than Sebida or him. He would do everything in his power to see that she did, that he kept his promise.
“Take care of her. Promise me, Mike. Fucking promise me that you’ll be there for Mama. Promise me?” He could still hear the death rattle in the man’s voice as he gripped his hand so tightly that sometimes Mike swore he could still feel his touch.