Now available in bookstores. If yours doesn’t yet have it, ask them to order.
What it’s about:
Navy pilot Glen Tanner, MIA for nine years, was found by mercenaries sent to bring back some of the more than 2,000 men left behind in Vietnam when Americans pulled out. He was in a bamboo cage hanging in a tree in Cambodia. Several months after he was returned Stateside, he went home to a dark and haunting existence where memories of torture blocked his recovery.
Eight months after devastated Katherine Kelly found her husband dead under an overturned tractor she answered the request of her colleague, psychiatrist D.L. Spencer, treating Tanner at the local VA. He hoped she could help bring him out of his hideous nightmares which he now painted on canvas with frenzied abandon. Could she share her knowledge of art with him on a weekly basis and help him recover? Would doing so help heal her own heart?
She had just stepped out of the nurses’ lounge carrying the carton of ice cream when Glen came wheeling down the hall and nearly knocked her down.
“Come on, Katie. Come on.” He cut a donut on the slick tile.
She ran to keep up with him down the hallway toward the sunroom. He reached the easel and rested one arm on its wide lip to wait in mock impatience. In place of the blue and white striped pajamas she’d seen him in earlier, he was dressed in a red plaid shirt and a pair of jeans. They were too big on him. There was a dab of white paint on one shirt cuff and a smear across the worn denim on one knee.
He grabbed her hand. “Shut your eyes. Tight, now.” He led her blind around the easel and placed her just so. “Okay, open up.”
On the small canvas a lake reflected a colorful sunrise. No sign of gray dripping trees or blood or silent, screaming faces. Never mind that it was stiffly done with little perspective, clearly it was a major victory for him.
“It’s wonderful. A good start. Great composition. I’m very proud of you.”
He looked up at her with so much lost hope awash in his expression that she leaned down on impulse and kissed him on the cheek, whispered in his ear, “It’s lovely.”
She was temporarily embarrassed, and he backed away a bit and turned shy as if he were at a loss for words, too.
He recovered first. “You look very beautiful today.”
“Thank you. I brought you something.” She held out the sack.
After a brief hesitation, he took the gift and removed the small round carton of chocolate ice cream. His eyes widened, and he said nothing.
“Come on, let’s eat it. I brought spoons.”
In the corner of the room, seeking privacy, she fed him his first bite and he retaliated by doing the same for her. They ate the entire carton, laughing and sometimes missing each other’s mouths. In another corner Harry looked on and chuckled with amusement.
“Maybe Harry wants some.”
“No deal. He can get his own. Can’t you, Harry?” Glen called.
Harry smiled and lifted an arm.
She wiped at a dribble of chocolate on Glen’s chin and offered it to him on the end of her finger. “Here, lick.”
His lips encircled her finger, his tongue caressed her flesh, and she trembled. He watched her closely and sucked the ice cream off, then took her hand in his and held it close to his mouth. “Katie. Thank you so much.”
The cold lump the ice cream had left in her stomach melted from the heat swelling through her. He was so ravaged and so needful of her caring. She feared the nearly forgotten rhythmic clutching deep down inside. She hoped it only meant she’d been too long without sex. No woman in her right mind would allow herself to fall in love with a man in Glen’s predicament. Especially not a woman of her age not yet recovered from losing the love of her life. Didn’t we only have one chance at that? If so, it left her feeling as if her life was over. How could one live without love? Why would anyone want to?
Glen’s hand completely enclosed hers, and his smile went all the way to his eyes, dimples winking
Cover by Casey Cowan