What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Mostly, I love a good conspiracy.
Yep, I still believe the man on the grassy knoll theory in the assassination of JFK. Well, kind of...
It can be said that romance is a conspiracy, of sorts. That darn Cupid and his whacky arrow, anyhow. I mean what would make some of our characters fall for each other? Especially when they're so different with often opposite goals in life.
In my recent book, Dustin is a wounded Vet with PTSD. He's trying to come to grips with losing part of his leg and a wife who couldn't handle his injuries. While he's undergoing grueling therapy to learn to walk with a prosthesis, she's divorcing him. So, he's a snarly man, functioning on self-pity.
Kelcee has just inherited a small bookstore with an apartment above it from her elderly employer. She can't believe her luck. After all, she's in the Witness Protection Program, hiding from her brother who's gotten involved with a branch of the Russian Mafia. Although she's living in fear, she refuses to allow it to define her.
He bought their tickets—finally—and they walked inside the lobby. He glanced around. “Wow, this is the smallest theater I’ve ever been in. They’ve even got it decorated in the vintage style of early movie houses.”
“This is the original décor, Dustin. Nothing much gets updated around here.”
He bought some snacks and held her hand. “Let’s find some seats.”
When the first explosion hit the screen, Dustin tensed. He had his hand on Kelcee’s thigh at the time and his gentle hold morphed into a grip. She watched him more than the movie. His breathing rate accelerated and his blinking response all but stopped. He just stared. She rubbed his arm and squeezed his thigh, but he wouldn’t or couldn’t respond.
This flick had been a really bad idea. It was more gunfire and detonations than spying. A loud blast lifted an SUV off the road in a fiery ball. Dustin squeezed and twisted the bag of popcorn, they’d been sharing, until it was nothing but crumbs.
She had to get him out of there. “Dustin.” She shook his arm. “Can we go? I have a headache. It hurts really bad.”
He slipped his arm around her shoulders and pressed her head into the crook of his neck. “I’ll take care of you, baby.” He kissed the top of her head. “See that sniper on the roof at two o’clock? I can take him out. I’ve had plenty of kills at a thousand yards. Become one with the world around you, know how high up you are, the wind velocity, the distance to the target and whether it’s stationary, or not. Relax. Breathe slowly. So, slow, you can hear your own heartbeat. Exhale and between the beats, squeeze the trigger.”
He was in a dark place, confused by the reality of her, the fantasy of the film, and his memories of war. She had a couple of those spaces in her mind, too. When she’d initially arrived at Warrior Falls, she’d had to really struggle to pull herself out of them. She had to play mental tricks on herself. While hers were bad, she imagined his were catastrophic. How could she help him? How?
The movie ended and time was critical. How was she going to get him out of the theater? The credits were rolling and people were exiting. The screen went blank and he blinked. “Dustin…Dustin, the movie’s over. We have to go.” She stood and reached for his hand.
He stared for a few seconds at the crushed bag of popcorn he held. His head snapped up to look at her. “I lost it, didn’t I?”
Crap, I don’t want him to feel bad. He might sink into a depression.
The overhead lights blinked on and off.
At least he’d spoken to her; that was progress. “We have to go. Let’s walk outside and get some fresh air. What an awful movie. I’m glad it’s over.”
He stumbled a little when he stood and, much as she wanted to help steady him, she allowed him to gain control on his own. “Sorry I checked out on you.”
“Did you? I had my eyes shut after the guy pulled out a knife. Knives scare the crap out of me for some reason.” She shuddered.
He held the door open for her, and they stepped into the fall air. The wind was blowing stronger, now. “If knives freak you, I guess you don’t want to know about the one I have strapped to my real ankle.”
“You better be kidding me.” She had to keep him talking so he didn’t dwell on zoning out during the movie. She had an idea he’d take it as a personal failure. “Are you packing a gun, big guy?”
HER SURVIVOR -- http://a.co/1mNtMDE (Amazon)