Honor Reclaimed was not an easy book to write. I had research all kinds of depressing subject matter, ranging from child brides to PTSD, and I put my characters through the wringer. But in the end, I’ve very proud of how this book turned out and would love to share a scene with you.
But first, some background info. This scene takes place shortly after Seth and Phoebe first meet. They have escaped the bad guys and are hiding for the night in a bombed out building. This scene is one of my favorite interactions between them, because it shows just how troubled Seth is and how determined Phoebe is to help him fight his demons.
Phoebe jerked awake to screams, the bloodcurdling sound of a man suffering the most horrible atrocities imaginable. She didn’t remember falling asleep and at first her unfamiliar surroundings sent panic skittering over her skin. She sat up, cold to the center of her being, her injured arm stiff and protesting any kind of movement. Soft early-morning light filtered through the hole in the wall, stirring up dusty motes as Seth thrashed so hard he fell off the concrete block he’d been sitting on. But instead of waking him, the jarring impact only increased his struggles.
Phoebe leaped to her feet and started toward him, but thought better of it when her shadow fell over his face and he started screaming again. She jumped away from his swinging arm, heart lodged in her throat. She’d once heard it wasn’t good to wake someone up in the middle of a night terror, and honestly, the idea of getting close enough to touch him right now tightened her chest until she had trouble drawing in a breath. But dear God, he was suffering. His handsome face contorted in very real pain as he relived something nobody should ever have to live through once.
How could she stand back and do nothing?
She eased forward. “Seth?”
Forget caution. Sucking in a fortifying breath, she knelt beside him, wrapped her arms tight around his bucking torso, and just held him. His heart sounded like it was about to explode underneath her ear and each jerk of his body sent pain through her wounded arm. Tears blurred her vision, but she held on, whispering a litany of comforts. Meaningless, but all she could think to do. “Shh. It’s okay, Seth. You’re safe now.”
She kept talking. “It’s all right. Wake up and look at me. You’re safe.”
Slowly, his eyes opened against the morning light and darted around the room. His breaths came in ragged pants and his face was bone white, coated in a thin sheet of sweat.
“See? You’re safe now.” He seemed to be holding his breath, so she added, “Breathe. It’s okay. Open up your lungs and breathe.”
He exhaled hard and the strain went out of his muscles.
“There you go. Breathe through it.”
He lifted his hand, the tips of his fingers lightly brushing her cheek before he caught himself. Cursing under his breath, he rolled away from her and climbed to his feet. With dirt smeared on his clothes and face, and his eyes showing too much white, he looked like a feral creature from long ago, more animal than human.
She wanted to comfort him, but when she reached out, he shied away.
“Don’t touch me,” he said in a strangled voice that didn’t sound like his own. He held up a hand as if to ward her off.
“Okay. I’m sorry.” Phoebe wrapped her arms around herself. Blood seeped from her reopened bullet wound, making her shirt stick to her arm. She ignored it. “You had a nightmare.”
“I fucking know that.”
She recoiled at the venom in his tone. “Are…you okay?”
He laughed, but it was a nasty sound. “I’ll never be okay again.”
So, do you think Seth’s right and he’ll never be okay again? Or will Phoebe finally get through to him and help him?
Big thanks to Writerspace for hosting me today!
Former Marine scout sniper Seth Harlan is new to HORNET and anxious to prove he can still do his job despite an ongoing battle with PTSD. He remembers all too well what it’s like to sit inside an enemy camp, praying for rescue and waiting for death. So when a black ops soldier contacts HORNET to rescue a buddy who was left behind, all sorts of nasty memories strain his newfound stability.
When an interview with a runaway Afghan child bride leads photojournalist Phoebe Leighton to an arms deal involving a suitcase bomb powerful enough to wipe out a mid-sized town, she realizes this is one battle she can’t win on her own. Forming an unlikely alliance with a ragtag team of military and government delinquents, she meets Seth, a sniper carrying as many emotional scars as physical, who impresses her with his steely will and ignites passions within her she thought long dead.
Suddenly this mission is about a lot more than an abandoned soldier. Racing against the clock, Seth, Phoebe, and the rest of HORNET struggle to stop that bomb before it reaches it’s final destination: The United States.