Sorry, I have a visitor arriving today and I forgot I had to post. Anyway, here I am. My agent just approved my latest book, the second in my returning war hero series, called Handle With Care. It's about a thirty year old medic who has returned from Iraq, where he was captured and tortured for six months before his rescue and release. He was made to perform surgery on a high ranking officer, botched the job and they cut off his hand. He now has a bionic hand, is back in California and studying medicine but working as a paramedic. The love interest is an ER doctor, with a six-year-old son, who blames herself for the accident that caused her dear husband's death. (Obviously, I haven't even thought of a blurb or I'd tell the story better!) But here is a an excerpt, since I can't think of anything to post.
Shane Dawson surveyed the crowded boardwalk, noting the number of people skateboarding or jogging on this cool Saturday morning. The air was slightly damp, the temperature in the mid-sixties. It was only mid-April, not yet tourist season, but still Belmont Beach in Southern California bustled with perpetual energy. Probably not the best spot for training a dog, but Shane’s time was severely limited, and so was the pup’s.
“Come on, Major, let’s go for a walk.” He snapped on the leash, which the dog immediately put in his mouth, and began to tug. Shane shook his head, but couldn’t stop the grin. “Let go. This isn’t a game. You know the rules.”
The golden lab ignored him and tugged harder. Shane muttered, “Don’t do this. You don’t want to be a screw-up like me.” He knew the words were useless and that the misguided animal would learn by making his own mistakes. Just as he had. But he aimed to make sure that didn’t happen. Not on his watch.
“Look, you learn to do this right, you can be a “hero dog”. It’s a really big deal. Don’t you want that, buddy? You could help people, and make a huge difference in their lives.” He leaned over and took the leash out of the young dog’s mouth. “Just behave. You know what you have to do.”
Major gave up the game of tug-of-war, and looked around for something of more interest. Shane allowed the pup a little more leeway. He knew the dog didn’t have a mean bone in his body, he just needed discipline and time to be a puppy. But that wasn’t in his cards. He was being trained to help the wounded warriors recently returned from war, but so far Major didn’t get it.
Any dog could be ordinary, but he had a chance to be so much more. Major was smart, he knew all the basic obedience skills, except he liked to play more than he liked to work.
Shane couldn’t blame him for that—he’d spent most of his life doing the same thing. After graduating from high school, instead of going to college he and a buddy had hitchhiked to California to become surfer dudes and make action films. When that didn’t pan out, they’d both joined CalFire—he became a medic, while his friend took helicopter training.
They both had relished the excitement, the danger, but Shane knew he wanted more. Exactly what, he wasn’t sure, but bigger than he was doing. To prepare for his future, whatever it may be, he’d been working toward an on-line college degree, concentrating on science and pre-med courses. He was in his last semester when he hit a major bump in the road that set him on a wild detour.
An attempt to blow up Disneyworld had miraculously been thwarted, and thousands of innocent children and their families lived to see another day. But Shane couldn’t shake it off. The war on terrorism had become personal. The Middle East had brought their bombers and prejudice to his turf, and threatened the core of American civilization, and he refused to sit by and do nothing. The following week he joined the marines, eager to take the fight to Iraq.
During his two-year stint, he’d discovered a lot about himself. Most of it wasn’t pretty.
Major sniffed the air, and tried to break free of his restraints, but Shane yanked him in. Discipline could be learned, it could save lives. “Whoa, take it easy, little guy. What’s the rush?”
After a few more tugs, the young pup trotted along beside him. Major’s head was held high, his mouth slightly open, his nostrils twitching, as he took in his new surroundings. He wagged his tail and seemed to have a perpetual sappy smile on his face.
Too friendly, the trainer had said. He gave the dog one month to shape up, or be shipped out. Shane had found out the hard way that there had to be meaning in your life, or it wasn’t worth anything at all. He wanted to save Major from making the same mistakes.
“Now, I’m going to unleash you for a minute. You are going to behave, you hear me.” He stooped over and looked the dog in the eye. “This is your big chance here, don’t blow it.” He patted the dog on the head, and unhooked the leash.
“Remember who you are. A military dog, enlisted to give service, now make me proud.” Major gave Shane’s i-Limb a lick and then trotted along beside him happily.
He wiped his bionic hand on his T-shirt, and noticed a few curious stares. He was used to it now, but it made most people uncomfortable. The mechanical hand, with its lifelike fingers controlled by electrical signals, was highly functional, unlike the old C-shaped pinchers--and he wasn’t ashamed of it either. Hell no. He knew he was damn lucky to get one, courtesy of the military, and not because he was a war hero either. Let other people call him that—he knew the truth, and had to live with it too.