Leyla Brand has one perfect day in her life: the day she meets rock singer Arran Lake at the Bele Chere Festival in Asheville. They have so much in common, Leyla is sure they are soulmates and will have a future together.
The very next morning, when Arran receives the call to hit the big time, he vanishes into the world of California rock and roll to become an international star, leaving her behind. Only a few phone calls keep them in touch — until his phone is disconnected. After that, all she has of him is every new song that hits the charts.
Five years later, she gets a message on the Internet from an unfamiliar address. Someone wants to know if she’s the Leyla of Bele Chere. Should she open that door and discover who this might be? Who else could it be? And if it is Arran, why does he want to contact her now, after all this time? Will he just break her heart again?
This excerpt has a personal connection for me– at the time I wrote it, my daughter was working as a pastry chef at the Stable, at the Biltmore–and I included her very own strawberry and lemon custard pie in the story!!
As the first colors of twilight painted themselves onto the clouds overhead, Leyla and Arran walked through the rose garden at the Biltmore’s botanical gardens, hand in hand. She could hardly believe this was happening. She’d hoped for a simple meeting, a conversation. Instead, he’d swept her off her feet.
They’d lingered over a late lunch of roasted vegetable panini, followed by strawberry-and-lemon custard pie at the Stable, a casual restaurant built on the site of the former stables of the estate, the booths constructed from the wrought iron and solid wood of the old stable panels. When the staff politely eased them out at closing, they’d left the restaurant and strolled the gardens.
She learned that he refused to wear the glasses he’d been prescribed in junior high, because he thought they made him look old; that she’d been right that he didn’t drink, since he came from a family of alcoholics; and that his fear of needles had kept him from getting the typical rock star tattoos. She shared that her mother had left just before Leyla went to kindergarten, that she’d always thought cats sucked the breath out of people while they slept, which is why she wanted a cocker spaniel puppy, and that science fiction shows had always been her favorite.
“So you grew up fast,” Arran observed, reaching out to gently touch one of the tea roses along the walk.
“Had to. My dad worked all the time, and I kept house, cooked, you know, all that.”
She walked beside him, close but not touching, noting others’ glances at them. People stared. Did they recognize Arran, or was it the smile on her face, the one she couldn’t control, her delight warm and shining through?
He laughed, but it wasn’t an amused sound, more a bond of understanding. “My parents really quit keeping track of me about the time I turned fourteen. They spent more time finding the bottom of their bottles.” He hunkered down to examine the leaves of a plant. “So it seems like we both had to grow up on our own.”
“Well, kind of.” She didn’t feel sorry for herself. She really didn’t want him thinking she was just another loser. “I had plenty of friends, too. So I got out of the house a lot. Spent a lot of time running from reality, actually.”
“Oh, I know. Me, too.” He grinned. “Some pretty bad years there, about age fifteen, sixteen. I’m surprised I’m still alive, actually.”
She wondered what he’d done that was so bad. She knew her own sins. She’d bet everything in her wallet that they’d echo each other. We’ve got time to discover all our shadows. “Amazing,” was all she said.
THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE, from the Wild Rose Press in ebook format–costs less than a cup of coffee. Give it a try!
Check out all the other great books on the loop here!
When two opposites collide, will their differences ignite a spark or send them into turmoil?
Frankie and Sebastian live totally different lives. Lives that are entwined through polo, the sport of kings.
Frankie’s a country girl, working hard toward her dream of turning the family farm around. She needs to endure one more polo season to make that happen. She has no interest in high society or the rich, arrogant riders she has to deal with, especially Sebastian. Her heart may be softening to his charm, openness and love of working with horses, but her brain won’t be convinced. She looks forward to her summer break on the farm, away from him, until her parents decide to invite Sebastian to stay.
Sebastian descends from royalty. Rich and arrogant come with his family title. But that status is something he’d rather avoid, just like he avoids returning home to a life he doesn’t want. Sebastian sees a freedom in Frankie he wishes he had. Her life is full of love, family and horses; something he can only dream of. And her, he can dream of her. But a dream is all it will be, seeing as Frankie does her best to avoid him.
If only he can convince her to look past his title, and see that his hopes and dreams aren’t so different from hers.
“Princes have many talents I’m sure you’re not aware of.”
“Such as?” She turned to face me; her body so close I could feel her breasts pressing against my chest.
“We like to roll around under the covers as well.”
“Is that so?” Her breath brushed against my lips. Her body pushed against mine, sending electricity through me. I imagined her standing there in her lace bra and matching knickers. I wrapped one arm around her back pulling her tightly against me. The other cupped the back of her head, tangled in her pony tail. Her lips met mine and opened and I sought out her tongue. Her hands found their way around my back and held tight.
I couldn’t let her go. I wouldn’t. I’d wanted to kiss her like this for months. This was so much better than what I’d imagined. My erection pressed against her. I deepened the kiss, holding her tight. She sighed into my mouth.
I shouldn’t have kissed her. I shouldn’t have invited her down the road of misery I would soon be facing. Only one of us should have a broken heart.
About the Author
Cynthia Terelst is a project officer by day and a writer by night. She is a contemporary romance writer who likes to share a little bit of history, some Australian scenery and a whole lotta love. Cynthia does not shy away from difficult topics, as she feels that they should not be ignored.
She lives in Queensland, Australia, where the sun shines at least 283 days a year.
I adore smart, dashing gentlemen who aren’t afraid to live on the edge. They can be a bad boy, a billionaire, a prince, or a secret agent. That hint of danger just hooks me! However, I they have to be paired with strong, independent women who aren’t afraid to fight for what they want, even love.
Q. Why did you write “The Last Christmas?”
My father is 94-years-old and as you might expect, has had a number of serious medical, age-related events. Each time, we were told to prepare for his death. Each time, he survived. The fact was, my Dad wasn’t ready to die. And his children and his grandchildren weren’t ready to let him go either. So I started thinking about terminal diagnoses and how they are really a best guess, not a guarantee. That, of course, led to thoughts how a terminal diagnosis often causes people to give up and prematurely mourn the death of the person who is ill. I wondered how that impacted the outcome. And because I was preparing to write a holiday book, I also started thinking about the power of family, and how, time after time, families are capable of creating miracles.
That led me to “The Last Christmas.” Christmas truly is a time for miracles, and thought it important that everyone be able to experience one through the tale of the Wright Family.
When the doctors say there’s no hope, Santa begs to differ. After all, he claims, miracles are love combined with action to get the desired result. And at Christmas time, everyone deserves a miracle!
David Wright is dying from cancer. He is not expected to see another Christmas. At least that’s what the medical professionals say. Fortunately, Santa begs to differ. After all, modern medicine is nothing more than a best guess. Santa believes anything is possible until you give up. When Santa tells David’s wife, Joan, that heaven is full and she has to keep her husband alive, she is beside herself. She has no medical skills. How can she save anyone’s life? Set your skepticism aside as Santa embraces a family already mourning their father’s terminal diagnosis and teaches them that a Christmas miracle doesn’t always require heavenly intervention. Sometimes, all it takes is a family with enough love to create their own. As Santa says, a true miracle is when love combines with action to get the desired results. And only humans are capable of that. Will Santa’s words fall on deaf ears? Or will Team Wright find a way to save their father’s life?
“It’s not about you, it’s about him, Joan,” a grumbly voice said. “You’re looking at this all wrong.”
Joan turned so fast she almost lost her balance. She glared at the old man who had spoken. He was around seventy, with ruddy cheeks and twinkling blue eyes. And thick white hair. Lots of white hair. Flowing over his shoulders, winding up in a very lush beard. On top of his head was perched a brightly colored red knit hat. She frowned. “Wait a minute. You’re Santa Claus. Without the red suit, but clearly, you’re him. I’d know you anywhere.”
The man bowed and with a smile, said, “At your service.” He gestured toward a park across the street. “Let’s take a walk.”
“Oh, no. I’m not going anywhere with you.” Joan shook her head. “I didn’t mean you actually were Santa Claus. Everyone knows he doesn’t exist. I just meant you looked like him. You’re just a man who looks like him. I don’t know you. Why would I…” She glared at him. “You’re not even wearing a red suit. And since when has Santa taken up armchair psychiatry?” She ran a hand through her blonde hair. “I must be hallucinating.” Despite her objections, she followed him across the street.
Santa laughed. “My dear, I have been dispensing advice since I was old enough to talk and make people listen. God chose my role a long time ago and I have gotten very good at it.” He looked toward the heavens. “Sorry, old boy. Still working on that humility!” He chuckled. “Man never stops reminding me.” He smiled at Joan. “Do you sense any ill-intentions from me? Of course not. I’m Santa. All I want to do is talk.”
Joan reached out and touched his shoulder.
He laughed again. A laugh that came directly from his belly. “Yes, I’m real. Well, as real as a centuries-old spirit gets. I even eat all those cookies children leave me each year. And let me tell you, that’s a heavenly feat.” Again, he looked skyward. “Yes, sir, I am well aware that borders on gluttony. A sin. You know darn well it has nothing to do with gluttony and everything to do with the magic of Christmas, an affirmation that Santa is real. I do it for the children.” He smiled at Joan. “Sometimes, He gets a little overbearing with his angels.”
He smirked. “Even God has his faults. He is by no means perfect.” A strong wind swirled through the plaza, nearly catching his knitted cap. He clapped his hand on his head to hold it down. He whispered, “And he doesn’t take criticism too well, either.”
Joan stared at the man. Surely, she was losing it. Santa a spirit, an angel? He and God didn’t even travel in the same circles. She shook her head, trying to make the hallucination go away.
Santa sighed. “I know, I know. You’ve been taught that I’m not real. That I’m a myth. That’s a rumor started by Satan himself, the old devil. He can’t stand the fact that people embrace the goodness in the world. And that I spread good cheer. He would much rather unleash a plague and make people miserable. He hates Christmas. He hates that the birth of Christ is celebrated, and his birth, well, is not. He really can’t stand the fact that love binds people so tightly during the holidays.” Santa shook his fist toward the ground. “The fool pouts all through the holidays.” He then sat up straight and gazed at Joan. “Christmas is really about love, you know. All kinds of love. The type of love he’ll never have. Love of family, love of children, love of—”
“What the heck do you want?” Joan blurted. “People are starting to stare.”
When not spinning her kinky tales, Ms. Kay ghostwrites nonfiction for lawyers and other professionals. She resides in a bucolic exurb outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she shares a home with her son and enjoys opera, gourmet cooking, organic gardening, and an occasional bottle of red wine.
Ms. Kay is an MS warrior and ruthlessly battles the disease on a daily basis. Her message to those diagnosed with MS: Never give up. You define MS, it does not define you!
Thanks, Cynthia Terelst, for being with us today! First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? Where do you live? Do you have pets that are your loves? What’s your education, if it’s relevant to your writing, and how does that education help you/or do you find that you can write well even without the diploma others might think they must have?
I live in Queensland, Australia with my two cats, Kimmy and Possum. Kimmy was adopted from a local refuge and Possum was a foster fail through a rescue. I foster kittens, and have had five in my home at one time. That was pure craziness, and I will be sticking to two or three from now on. It is rewarding to know that you are saving lives and preparing them for a wonderful forever home.
I do not have any formal training in writing, in fact my degree is in commerce, which is funny really when you think that numbers and words are opposites. I don’t think you need an education in writing to be a good writer. Although, having an understanding of structure, flow and grammar helps. I find editing the hardest part of the process. Like most writers my first draft is about getting ideas and words on the page. Editing is perfecting those words and takes a lot of effort. You need to consider the plot, subplots, character arcs, flow, tension and much more.
Tell us about your most recent publication.
What inspired you to write this story?
What’s your favorite thing about the book? Any special memories you have in the creation of it?
The Cat’s out of the Bag is my first published novel. It is a contemporary romance set in Australia. The two main characters are what some would consider tortured souls; Jesse is a billionaire from America who is trying to escape his empty life and Evie has rebuilt her life after escaping a bad relationship.
I felt it was an important story to write because it touches on family bullying and domestic violence. There is a lot of hope in this story and it is important for people to know there is always hope.
As it is set in Australia, I wanted to include different Australian scenes. Many of the places visited in my novel I visited with my daughter when we travelled around Australia with out cat and dog. Some of the places, like the Fairy Garden, needed research. It was fun to learn about things I didn’t know before.
I added some comedy in there as well to lighten the mood.
My books are full of love and hope. Even though I deal with some tough subjects I like to add some comedy in. It is amusing to write characters’ reactions to Australian English and Australian culture.
What is your favorite genre to write? To read?
Gosh, I like to read just about anything. I have been reading a lot of romance recently to help with my writing. I am particularly fond of young adult dystopian. I have just started to read a space opera series because I wanted to know what I was missing out on.
What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
I like creating life and watching it play out on the page. I wrote a scene recently where I cried and I hope the reader feels the same emotion I did.
I wanted to be a writer from a young age. My grandfather thought I might be a journalist like his father was. But young dreams have a way of changing. I even wanted to be a lawyer when I was thirteen. I had it all planned out. I would have a career and then have children when I was thirty-five. That didn’t eventuate either.
I wrote my first full length novel when I was sixteen. Life interrupted and I put writing aside for over twenty years. Now I am back at it and I feel like I am doing what I am supposed to do.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?
I belong to Queensland Writers Centre. They send out a newsletter weekly. Another association I am a member of is Romance Writers Australia. I am not a member of any groups where we get together to write or discuss writing.
I don’t find any one website useful. I google a lot when I get stuck.
Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?
No. I am lost in the zone, so it wouldn’t matter what I listened to. Sometimes I prefer silence; other times I like some background noise.
Tell us a little about your path to publication. How many books have you published? How many books did you write before selling one?
I have written one contemporary romance, The Cat’s out of the Bag, which is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. I have written a young adult novel which is yet to be published. I would like it to be traditionally published so it can be available in schools.
What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?
I am writing my second novel in the Love Down Under series, Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. It is a contemporary, second chance romance.
On April 4 I will be joining two other authors for an author talk at Hervey Bay Library. I am hoping to do some other local signing as well.
What would you like to tell readers?
I would like to thank readers for their support.
One van. Two hearts. Thousands of kilometres.
Jesse’s a self-made billionaire who yearns to get away from his empty life and the money-hungry parasites who inhabit it. The plan? Go to Australia, tell no one about his money and find himself. Instead of finding just himself, he finds Evie, who is everything anyone should aspire to be. Now, what he aspires to be, is hers. But to be hers, he needs to tell her everything.
Evie has left her past behind. She has rebuilt herself, and her life, into one of happiness. After she meets Jesse, while volunteering at a cat shelter, memories of her past filter back in. She is stronger now and wants to trust him. But after all she has been through, is trust even possible?
The quest to find a cat a forever home leads them to travel across the country together. Can the close quarters drive them to open up to each other? Or will it drive them apart?
The wave petered out, and I paddled back to the line-up. Sitting, watching, waiting. The constant breeze in my ears and the sound of waves breaking relaxed me. Lulled by the gentle rise and fall of the swells, I thought about Evie.
She was one of the most complicated people I’d ever met. Whatever she had been through had made her strong and independent. But underneath, she was all doubt. I could see her trying to be brave, but that could change in an instant as her insecurities took over. I felt like it was a fight between Nick and me, and I didn’t even know the guy. I didn’t know how to beat a ghost. But I would. I would figure it out, and I would gain Evie’s trust, bit by bit.
Her. Me. That’s what I would strive for.
CYNTHIA TERELST is a project officer by day and a writer by night. She is a contemporary romance writer who likes to share a little bit of history, some Australian sceneryu and a whole lotta love. Cynthia does not shy away from difficult topics, as she feels that they should not be ignored.
Today’s guest is LINDA GRIFFIN, author of THE REBOUND EFFECT. Welcome, Linda!
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I was an enthusiastic reader from day one. I read my very first Dick and Jane primer to everyone in the house, including two captive kittens, one tucked under each arm. Then I read it backwards. As soon as I figured out that somebody had to create the words I was reading, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up—a “book maker.” I dedicated The Rebound Effect to Dick and Jane “who first ignited my passion for the written word.” I’ve been writing all my life and was first published when I was in college, but I’ve been able to spend more time on it since I retired from my position as fiction librarian for the San Diego Public Library. My stories, from short shorts to novellas, have been published in numerous literary journals. The Rebound Effect is my third published novel and the second with the Wild Rose Press.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I enjoy washing dishes by hand, but only if somebody reads to me while I do it.
Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!
Earlier this year, our old, unused dial-up phone started calling 911. The police came to the door several times, once in the middle of the night, before we figured it out.
What are some of your pet peeves?
The puzzling notion that conjunctions somehow reverse the pronoun rules. Only a two-year-old would say “Me went to the store,” but I constantly hear things like “Me and him went to the store” and “She gave it to he and I.” Like Teresa, the heroine of The Rebound Effect, I also hate distracted driving and movie previews that give away too much of the story.
Where were you born/grew up?
I was born and raised in San Diego, California, and would never want to live anywhere else. I enjoy visiting other places, but San Diego will always be home.
If you knew you’d die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Reading! And eating chocolate.
Who is your hero and why?
Jaycee Dugard, because she chose to live her life with strength and joy and purpose, helping others instead of dwelling on what was taken from her. I also very much admire former President Jimmy Carter for all the good work he does all over the world.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
A terrible one! Overwhelmed and confused.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I love the three R’s –reading, writing, and research. I also enjoy movies, Scrabble, and travel. I’ve been to three countries and forty-eight states, most recently Hawaii. I like to visit art museums, galleries, and botanical exhibits too—beauty feeds the soul.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Klutzy, independent, honest, and impatient.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I wrote my first story. I lifted the basic plot from a Nancy and Sluggo comic book and wrote “Judy and the Fairies”at the age of six.
Do you have a favorite movie?
I always find it impossible to choose just one favorite of anything, but the one I have watched most often is the 1968 film, No Way to Treat a Lady, with George Segal and Rod Steiger. Love, Actually may eventually overtake it, though.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I can see my forthcoming novel Guilty Knowledge as a movie, or better yet a TV series. I would cast Boris Kodjoe or Trai Byers as the hero, and his partner is one of my favorite supporting characters. I always enjoy writing dialog for tough, sassy women.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
I’m not sure if it counts as a literary pilgrimage, but I went to England to visit the places described in the Poldark novels by Winston Graham. Cornwall is lovely.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I have two. My sometime writing partner, Huxley, is a stuffed writer mouse from Starbucks. I consider him co-author of the novella “Starbucks” (Eclectica April/May 2015.). He named the characters and insisted that it not be a romance, although he is otherwise partial to bedroom scenes. My muse is a lizard named Sparkle. They can both be seen on my Facebook author page. Sparkle is in the cover image.
In the small town of Cougar, struggling single mother and veterinary assistant Teresa Lansing is still bruised from a failed relationship when Frank McAllister sweeps her off her feet.
Frank is a big-city SWAT officer who moved to Cougar only four months ago. He’s handsome, charming, forceful, very sexy, and a bit mysterious. He had his eye on Teresa even before they met and is pushing for a serious relationship right away.
Teresa finds his intense courtship flattering, and the sex is fabulous, but she doesn’t want her deaf six-year-old son to be hurt again. Her former fiancé cheated on her when he got drunk after being unjustly fired, but he loves her and her son, and the whirlwind romance is complicated by his efforts to win Teresa back.
And then there’s the matter of the bodies buried at Big Devil Creek…
I was born and raised in San Diego, California and earned a BA in English from San Diego State University and an MLS from UCLA. I began my career as a reference and collection development librarian in the Art and Music Section of the San Diego Public Library and then transferred to the Literature and Languages Section, where I had the pleasure of managing the Central Library’s Fiction collection and initiating fiction order lists for the entire library system. Although I also enjoy reading biography, memoir, and history, fiction remains my first love. In addition to the three R’s–reading, writing, and research–I enjoy Scrabble, movies, and travel.
Lily Pearl Evans has run the Sassafras Social Club in Chaparral, New Mexico for 15 years, and she’s seen some things. But there are still some things she’d like to see. But not chickens.
See, Lily Pearl has been lucky enough to deal with a more affluent clientele–credit approved only.
Things don’t always run smoothly, but none so rocky as the night a dehydrated, dirty stranger shows up on her front steps. He’s not a client–doesn’t even look like he’d be applying for services. But he’ll change her life in ways she can’t even imagine.
In CONVICTION OF THE HEART, attorney Suzanne Taylor is a single mother of teen girls who hasn’t really considered dating much–until she meets police sergeant Nick Sansone. It has been years since she’s gone on a date other than something super casual, so she’s anxious as hell over every detail. What to wear. Where to go. How sexy to look. She doesn’t know what Nick’s expectations are, and she’s not going to take her daughters’ advice (which was something along the lines of “woo woo momma’s got a boyfriend. Is he gonna see your tattoo?”
Here she is getting ready to go:
Her hair wasn’t right.
She stood in front of the mirror in the frou-frou restroom that served the office and the rest of the tenants on the floor. She hadn’t decorated it. The ruffled pink curtains and wallpaper practically bleeding fuchsia butterflies were not to her taste at all.
She took her hair down again. Pinned it back up.
How is it her clients always managed to begin the dating life without difficulty or reservation whatsoever? For Suzanne, it was a major trauma.
She held her hair left, right, her eye critical. The Moody Blues were a sixties band. The Age of Aquarius. Hippies. Free love.
Photo by Linda Mea Meoni
She took her hair out of its band, brushed it, then fluffed it with her fingers.
She’d chosen a feminine silk blouse, black with turquoise medallions, and black dress slacks instead of jeans, since they were going to the Benedum. If the concert had been at Star Lake, they’d have lawn seats and a blanket, and more casual would have been appropriate.
Suzanne thought about Nick, and a blanket, listening to music under the stars…going from zero to sixty pretty fast along that imaginative track. A long time since she’d made love with a man.
She shook her head to clear her mind. Focus.
The overnight bag she’d brought to the office held a pair of black pumps with a mid-height, chunky heel. She slipped them on, then looked in the mirror again.
Satisfied with her clothing, she dabbed on a hint of makeup, nothing garish, and added small dangle earrings, blue gemstones wrapped in silver, and a spritz of Opium, her favorite perfume. A deep breath gave her a moment to examine her appearance. A little less than professional, a little more than Sunday church. It would do.
What do you thinking about dating after forty? Easier or harder than at twenty? What special considerations have you made or seen others make to present a good first impression on a date?
CONVICTION OF THE HEART, a novel of romantic suspense, and the first volume in the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers series –available at the Wild Rose Press, Amazon, and other booksellers.
I’m on the Romance Lives Forever blog today with an introduction to Inessa Regan from SECOND CHANCES!! Thank so much, Kayelle Allen! Come by, check it out, and get a copy for your Mother’s Day reading!!
One of my Pittsburgh Lady Lawyer novels, SECOND CHANCES, tells the story of Inessa Regan, a forty-something lawyer who is unexpectedly thrust into the world of solo family practice. She comes to know an Iraq War veteran, Kurt Lowden, and his soldier friends, some of whom have serious issues from their time abroad.
One of the worst is the Post Traumatic Distress suffered by Susie Johnston, the wife of Kurt’s best friend. As an intelligence officer, she’d be invaluable to her unit, gathering information about threats and targets from prisoners. Wall-to-wall counseling, in the local jargon.
But as a woman in a battle unit, she also faces risks she should never have to face: assaults by men in her own unit. Female soldiers in such theatres speak of being afraid to go to the latrine at night, staying in their beds for safety.
Susie is raped during one such trip to the latrine, and the resulting trauma triggers domestic violence and worse on her arrival back in the States.
Sadly, this is not the stuff of fiction.
And as in Hollywood and Washington, the pressure not to disclose, report and prosecute these crimes is hard on women. While the military gives lip service to criminalizing and going after sexual assault perpetrators, the reality is that no one wants to hear about it.
According to an article in the Washington Post, “sexual assault was something female troops did not dare talk about for fear that they would face retaliation and be discharged with a ‘mental health diagnosis.’ ” They go on to say that 62% of those who report face ostracism and retaliation.
In a 2016 story, Huffington Post quotes groundbreaking Chinook pilot Olivia Chavez as saying “she was sexually assaulted multiple times by several different men while on active duty.” Her determination to keep her job made her force all the trauma inside–leading to a worse trauma later when she finally had to deal with what had happened.
Reading comments on these stories, there isn’t a lot of sympathy for the women. Many blame the system that put men and women together on the battlefield, especially when the system as set up is so skewed toward men (i.e. even in VA hospitals, many times the women veterans don’t have equal access to restrooms and other facilities). Hardly anyone says, “Why can’t the men just stop raping women?” Is that really such a difficult concept?
What has happened to many of the 280,000 women veterans coming back from the Middle East is unspeakable. Their trauma leads to homelessness, mental health treatment, even suicide. The HuffPo articles says this: “A report released last year showed that for women veterans between 18 and 29 years of age, the risk of suicide is 12 times the rate of nonveteran women.”
Maybe as the stigma of calling out criminal behavior lessens in the civilian world, we can hope that it does the same in the military world. At least the military leaders should lead and protect those who serve with them, instead of taking advantage, and the bureaucracy set up to help those who are assaulted despite policy should step up and make that happen. If our military is to be one of the best in the world, then we should hold them to high moral standards as well.
At least, in celebrating Veterans’ Day this year, we can remember those women who sacrifice their very soul for the right to serve.
SECOND CHANCES, a book from Zumaya Publications, begins the day attorney Inessa Regan receives a pink slip after ten years of faithful service. She’s been a mid-level associate her whole career, partners telling her what to do, providing her with an office and everything she needs. Thrown out into the legal world on her own, she doesn’t know how she’ll survive. Her neighbor brings her first client, Kurt Lowdon, a young Iraq veteran with cancer, who’s looking just to have a will made. Inessa struggles to give Kurt what he needs, and he helps make it easy for her.
Once his immediate needs are met, he takes her under his wing and brings her more clients as well as a place to open an office to see them. Things begin to fall together for her, including a very special friendship with Kurt that becomes something more. But his past military service, and the friends he’s made there, begin to cause problems for them both, as well as issues his drug-addicted sister delivers to his doorstep. He still hasn’t kicked his cancer, either, and Inessa wonders if falling in love with him is a blessing or a curse.