Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Toward the Sound of Chaos Chapter Reveal




Hiya Cupcakes.
 I'm so excited to reveal the first chapter of my heart wrenching Military Romance,
 Toward the Sound of Chaos
available May 18th.

BLURB
Toward the Sound of Chaos
Jake Tucker is broken. At twenty-two, he went in to the Marine Corps a naïve, troubled youth. Nine years and four tours later, Jake finds himself back on US soil, though his mind remains firmly planted in the sands of Afghanistan with the men he left behind.

Wounded, chewed up and spat out by war, Jake has only his dog, Nuke, PTSD, and survivor’s guilt to keep him company. He’s lived every day for nine years wondering when it will be his last, but there’s little comfort in the fact that he’s still standing when his platoon isn’t.

Ellie Mason doesn’t have time for broken. She’s too busy trying to put food on the table. And keeping up with the demands of her autistic son, Spencer, is sometimes like fighting behind enemy lines. As if navigating the minefields of single parenthood isn’t enough, Ellie finds herself drawn to the quiet Marine who’s just as lonely as she is. But she’s loved damaged men before, and it left her wounded.

Set against the picturesque backdrop of Fairhope, Alabama, Ellie and Jake find themselves running toward the sound of chaos.

Love is war.

Only the strong survive, and surrender is inevitable.


TOWARD THE SOUND OF CHAOS

Chapter One

Ellie
Come on, come on.” I turn the key in the ignition, prayin’ it will spark to life before I choke the living bejeebies outta it. My car, the evil spawn of Satan that it is, coughs, sputters, and dies, and I slam my hands against the steering wheel as I scream, “Stupid piece of crap chunk of metal.”
“Mamma swore,” Spencer drawls from the backseat.
“I know, I know.” I rest my head against the wheel and wish I could have a complete do-over.
“Piece of crap, piece of crap, piece of crap,” Spencer singsongs, getting louder with each word. I turn my head and glare at him. He promptly shuts up.
Good Lord. Why in the world did this have to happen today of all days? I only just got Spencer dressed and out the door in time for our morning walk around the duck pond—which I had to hurry him through as if the devil himself was chasing us—and now we’re not only going to be late for school but I’m going to miss the whole damn reason I get dressed each morning, fix my hair, and try and look cute when all I really want to do is put on my robe and fluffy slippers, and leave my hair à la bird’s nest while I grip my travel coffee mug for dear life.
Desperate for some kind of miracle, I turn the key again and it backfires. Spencer starts hollerin’ in the backseat about it being a “No!” sound, his hands pressed to his ears.
“I’m sorry, baby,” I say, and fumble with the radio to find a channel that’s not running commercials. He hates those. I settle on one with a song that he actually likes and the screamin’ stops so I turn back to the road and check the dash for the time—8:32 A.M.
I take hold of the key, close my eyes and promise the man upstairs that I’ll contribute to the church bake sale this year in exchange for one little itty bitty favor. A beat later the engine roars to life. I let out a whoop and peel out of the parking space along North Beach Road.
Like clockwork he emerges from the walking trail at the end of the street, wearing black Nikes, black shorts, and a fitted grey Henley that sticks to every plane and angle of hard-won muscle. How he runs in full sleeves in the summertime is beyond me, but as sweat plasters that shirt to his body like a second skin, I am not complaining. His dog, a monstrous black thing with a shiny coat—that looks more like a wolf than any other breed I’ve seen—runs alongside him, tethered to his waist by a long lead fastened to his belt loop. The dog also wears a vest—Marine camouflage with the words Veteran Service Dog embroidered on the side.
Obviously I didn’t get all this from just one glimpse. It’s more like an accumulative set of glimpses over let’s say a period of about ten months. Give or take. That thing I was talking about earlier? The reason for me brushing my hair each morning? Well, I’m looking at it.
“Good Morning, hot Marine,” I whisper, and of course my son’s ears prick up. Spencer may only be eight, but he can tell you every statistic worth knowing about every war in history. He is fanatical. Especially about Marines.
Spencer is special. At two, he was diagnosed with Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder. I knew there was something very wrong with his behavior. He didn’t laugh like he had as a baby; he couldn’t handle crowds, fairs, or the farmer’s market, and playgroup was completely out of the question. He stopped speaking for a whole year, just out of the blue. Scared me half to death. His pediatrician said I should encourage some of the things he took an interest in. He’d been like a sponge when it came to anything military-related, and I’d worked for months to afford a trip to Mobile for the weekend where we could visit Fort Gaines, Fort Morgan, and the USS Alabama. He spent the whole time riding a high of processed sugars while he took it all in with excited whimpers and not-so-gentle taps at my thigh. I’ve been saving up my pennies to take him again, but it hasn’t happened yet.
“That’s Jake Tucker,” Spencer says, just like clockwork. I think the excitement of seeing this recluse Marine is just as much a part of his morning routine as it is mine. For different reasons, of course.
“That’s Jake Tucker,” I agree, somewhat wistfully, and I put my foot down on the gas so that we’ll be at the optimal spot for staring at those dark eyes and that emotionless face hidden by all that hair and beard as he runs along North Beach Road. Again, the eyes aren’t something I know of so much from seeing them up close—because I don’t think he’s ever looked in my direction a day in his life—it’s more from seeing the various news reports on TV and the paper and magazine clippings from my son’s collections of Marine scrapbooks. I never could tell if they were black or dark blue.
Three, two, one. His heel leaves the footbridge over the duck pond and we’re moving toward one another. Time is suspended in the nanosecond it takes me to drive past him and his dog.
And then it’s gone. I keep driving, glancing between the road and my rear-view mirror. My eyes roam over his butt, like they do every day, and then I notice a black smudge on the back of his leg. I move closer to the mirror, squinting my eyes in order to see better.
“Mamma, look out!”
“Hold on Spence,” I scream, as I try to take control of the wildly spinning wheel and my poor little car careens through Beach Park, beside the duck pond, and comes to a stomach-turning, metal-screeching halt between the footbridge and one very large tree.
My head smacks off the steering wheel and nausea rolls over me like a tide as I turn to check on Spence. I catalog his limbs and head, all intact and no blood. “You okay, baby?”
“Mamma, you don’t look so good,” Spencer says.
“I’m fine,” I murmur, sounding drunk. I open and shut my eyes a bit, and the little green numbers on the dash come into focus. 8: 35 A.M. and already this day couldn’t get any worse.
I close my eyes and lean against the wheel, and then the sound of Spencer’s door opening wakes me and I spin around in my seat so fast you’d swear I was possessed.
“You’re Jake Tucker,” my son says.
“Yes, I am.”
“I’m Spencer Mason. That’s my mamma, Ellie Mason.”
“Sit tight, ma’am.” His gruff voice fills the tiny cab of my car. I turn my head again to see what he’s doing, but everything goes black. “I’ll get you out.”
“I’m fine,” I say, turning back to the door. I open it and attempt to get out of the car, but something stops me. I glance down, clumsily yanking on the seatbelt restraining me, but his face is there in my space. His whole body is as he leans over to unbuckle my seatbelt.
I climb out of the vehicle, but halfway to straightening to my full height of a meagre little five-feet, one-inch, I get woozy in the stomach and wobbly in the boot, and I sag against the car as Jake Tucker leans into me, his warm breath on my face.
“I got you.”
“Blue eyes,” I mumble.
“What?” he says. I didn’t expect his voice to be so low, gravelly. Sexy. It sounds like warm whiskey on a cold winter’s day.
“Blue eyes and whiskey lullabies,” I say, my head rolling back against the car door rather drunkenly. I must have hit it harder than I thought. “I knew they were blue.”
He stares at me as if I’m completely crazy. “I think you have a concussion.”
“I’m fine.” I attempt to push off the car, but the big sweaty wall of muscle stops me from going anywhere. He grips my shoulders hard, as if his hands are the only thing keeping me upright.
“My purse,” I shout, turning back to my door. He tightens his hold and stops me from going anywhere. “I need to call Olivia to come get us.” I look down at Spence who watches us closely and the world twists on its side, my stomach clenches, and I puke all over Jake Tucker.
Since he came back from the war a year ago, I’ve imagined meeting this recluse mountain man in a number of ways: down at the Piggly Wiggly, at the Coffee Loft, and even right here in this very park. What I hadn’t imagined upon first meeting Jake Tucker was that I would mumble some gibberish about his eyes and how his voice sounds like a whiskey lullaby, and then puke all down his shirt. I hadn’t imagined falling into said puke-covered shirtfront either, but I do. Right before I pass out.
You know when you think to yourself that this day couldn’t possibly get any worse? You’d be wrong. The universe always has a way of slappin’ you upside the head and showing you just how much worse it can really get.


 Pre-order available exclusively on Amazon
and KU:
Amazon US 
Amazon UK
Amazon CA
Amazon AU