What better way to celebrate Veteran's Day than a story about a veteran written by a veteran.
His Road Home is a spin-off story from Anna Richland's Immortal Viking Series and is the perfect story to read in time for the holidays. And not only do we have an excerpt, we also have my interview with Anna about military men and her research on classic cars. :)
“Tantalizing … a raw, emotional story.” – PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (Starred Review)To avoid insulting a matchmaking Afghan warlord, Special Forces medic Rey Cruz needs to find a fiancée, fast. He never expects to see the hometown girl whose downloaded photo he uses in an engagement picture, because he’s pounding sand half a world away.
Until the day he’s flat on his back in a military hospital and the woman whose life he blew apart with a suddenly world-famous engagement walks into the room. He’d love to tell Grace Kim how his lie started and set everyone–her boss, the press and their families–straight. Love to, but he can’t. He can’t talk. Can’t write. Can’t get either of them out of the mess his bright idea caused.
Marine Fisheries statistician Grace Kim is shocked to find out she’s engaged to a hero. When she’s offered a plane ticket to visit her “fiancé,” she takes it, but the soldier she meets isn’t what she expected and doesn’t have any answers.
“I understand Sergeant Cruz is unmarried.” Abdullah shared the tribal leader’s words. “I humbly offer him one of my daughters.”
While Dostum watched like a one-eyed, toothless cupid cradling an AK-47 instead of a bow and arrow, Cruz forced himself to obey the rules for breathing before a five-mile high parachute jump: inhale steadily, no gulps, no matter what instinct urged, no matter that he could barely keep his lips from puckering with rejection. “That’s–”
“Shut up.” The interpreter’s voice quavered. “He’s giving you a gift that matters a hell of a lot to him and in his mind, doing you a favor. Half these men can’t afford to get married, and if you throw his daughter in his face, the insult might make them open fire.”
The air stopped moving except for two flies close to Cruz’s cheek. An insider attack: when a local soldier snaps and kills his allies. Green-on-blue, briefings called it.
“Get me out of it.” He missed his former teammate Wulf’s interpreting skill like a guy missed his nuts. He disliked giving so much power to someone the team had known for six months but saw no choice. “Whatever you have to say.” He tried to smile, but his lips were too dry to peel away from his teeth.
Undershirts always soaked through, the price of wearing more than forty pounds of protective gear, but now sweat chilled on his skin. The sun was a joke, making those weapons shiny enough to reflect glare, but not providing a bit of warmth.
The two men talked while he watched a fighter in a striped vest, the man whose hands were closest to his rifle. Target one if this went to hell. Shoot, roll left to cover Abdullah and count on the rest of the team to roar through the gate and clean the courtyard. One on twelve for ninety seconds, survivable only on paper.
He didn’t have to field test the plan. His terp pulled a save from the faded Tigers hat that never left his head.
“Relax, lover boy.” Abdullah flung an arm across his shoulders.
Cruz wasn’t sure whose pits gave off the worst funk; his, the man hugging him or the two Afghans bringing them tea, flatbread and lentil paste.
“Told Dostum you’re engaged to a nice girl back home—”
An Afghan with a miraculous mouth of teeth pounded Cruz on the back to dislodge the bread stuck in his windpipe choking him. “What?”
“And because American law doesn’t allow two wives, you regretfully cannot accept this honor, but you’ll bring gifts next week to show how much you appreciate his generosity.”
“Great. We’ll haul a pallet of rice, but don’t let him think he’s getting weapons.” Wily bastard might have set up the incident to bag more rocket-propelled grenade launchers. “If proud papas start offering me wives but settle for swag, I know who to blame.”
Abdullah raised his hands, palms out as if to deny his responsibility, then laughed as he turned them into finger-pistols pointed right at Cruz. “By the way, he expects a photo. He wonders what kind of woman American soldiers marry.”
“No problem.” A fake fiancée. He’d almost rather risk the business end of an AK-47.
Thank you Veterans!
Anna- The Super Diva