It is a joy to welcome bestselling American author, Sarah Davis (S.E.Davis) to the blog. She has agreed to sher an exceprt from her upcoming novel, Love Struck with us. Thank you so much for this sneak peek, Sarah and best of luck with the new book.
A split-second is all it takes to fall asleep at the wheel and change someone's life forever.
Orion Windwalker's dreams of retiring from the Marines come to a crashing halt when he is medically discharged. Not ready to share his shame with his family, Orion decides to get lost, and in doing so, hopefully find a new direction in life.
His journey of self-discovery is sidelined when he meets Thor, a scared, injured stray who unexpectedly finds their way into Orion's heart. Then an unexpected fender bender brings them into contact with the enigmatic veterinarian, Dani, and things start to heat up.
Dr. Dani Lavigne is different in every way from Orion; she is a bright light amid his darkness. She's also brilliant and sexy as hell.
As they spend more time together, their undeniable chemistry heats, quickly turning into something more real than either of them expected. Can two guarded hearts find the courage to open up and embrace true love and a happily ever after? Or will their secrets tear them apart?
My name is Orion Indigo Windwalker, and I have no bleeping clue what to do with my life.
As I walked out of the concrete building into the heat of a late-July southern California day, the weight of the official paperwork caused my hand to cramp. Months of desk work, physical therapy, and counseling all led to this shitty moment.
Seven years, four months, and twenty-two days premature departure from the Corps. No twenty years of service retirement for me. I couldn't even qualify for a desk job to finish out my time.
Sign here for your honorable discharge. Thank you for your service. Oorah.
Clenching my teeth, I recall where I've been. Knew exactly where I pinged on a map, waiting for a ride out of Camp Pendleton North. I was clueless about what to do. Just that I wanted something… else. Not more. Just… an escape.
I didn't want to go home to my family, live in my parents' basement, playing video games between searches for employment opportunities. Multiple buddies had offered their couches for me to crash for as long as needed. Not my style. Nor did I wish to visit the VA for more rehabilitation and therapy.
My plan of career military man puddled at my feet, baked in the intense heat of the summer sun, and blew away on the fumes of a passing car's exhaust.
An Uber picked me up, a minivan popular with soccer moms. I sat quietly in the back, trying not to run my hands over my hair. Instead, elbows perched on my knees, I rested my chin on my thumbs and steepled my fingers. A middle-aged dude drove with a few initial half-assed attempts at conversation—his, not mine. Several errant children's toys from the owner's children decorated the floor and back seat, along with the odor of soured milk. I didn't make small talk, preferring the music of road noise and the jingle of loose change in the ashtray.
On my left, the stables off Vandegrift Boulevard caught my attention. Throughout my time near Camp Pendleton, I never rode at the stables.
Life is baffling. One little thing supposedly can change a person's life course. What was it called? The butterfly effect. A butterfly's flutter affects a life thousands of miles away. Would a visit to the stables have affected my life in any way? Maybe I would have found a partner. Fell off a horse and broke my leg. Missed my last damn "easy" tour.
Leaning back, I stretched out, my calf stiff and my toes tingling. The missing chunk of muscle hadn't been what sealed the deal for my discharge, although it had gotten me a purdy Purple Heart.
With nothing else to do for at least half an hour, I pulled out my new phone to check my messages. I responded to my next stop, giving an ETA. Sent my mom love and kisses. Got a laugh from the meme my sister, Ari, sent. I ignored Courtney's "Call me" text, placing her once more in mute. Dick move, I know. But the girl could not accept either a forward or subtle, "I'm not interested." A slip of judgment during a brief visit home five months ago. Another memory I want to erase.
My pop won't see it that way. Mom? Yeah, she'd be on my side. Always on my side. Best not to put her in that position. Besides, their opinion of me might change after they learn about my discharge.
My new phone dinged, jarring me. After checking it, I spent the next few minutes finding a different notification sound. A simple, anxiety-free noise. Unfortunately, my hands shook so violently after searching for one, I shut my phone off, pocketed it, and took half a Xanax.
I realized too late I should have asked to sit in the front. Nausea coiled and uncoiled in the pit of my stomach while simultaneously pinching the muscle bulge between my thumb and pointer finger. I swallowed hard several times and kept my eyes on the world whizzing by my window.
Shit. I couldn't even handle a simple phone task. No way could I go home. Babied. Looked at with worried eyes and pinched lips. Or worse. Pitied.
I couldn't stand the shame or guilt. Although I know it's not my fault for my mental instability, blameless as those who succumb to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are. The fact remained I alone am responsible for dealing with my condition. Conditions.
Meds, psychotherapy, and exercise have helped me cope with the anxiety and trauma response. I can't require my family and friends to go through what I have just so they understand. I've been numb for long enough. Getting lost could be the perfect opportunity for me to find myself.
With all my belongings in two bags—a limited selection of clothing, shoes, and toiletries—I still hadn't decided on a direction.
I had always had a purpose. A goal. A task.
How would it feel to have none of those? No responsibility except for myself. At least for a short time.
Mind made up, I let go of the life I had planned—my twenty-year retirement now forfeit. A decision made because of my mental illness. I needed time to heal and seek the life waiting for me. Perhaps in getting lost, I will find purpose.
S E Davis is a veterinarian and advocate for mental health who writes fantasy and romance in her spare time. She lives on the North Dakota prairie with her family and a Weimaraner who understands shifting into human form is not necessary for being part of the pack.