In a matter of seconds my entire world changed, and it was in that moment that I stopped living and simply began to exist. In my grief, I sent a letter to the first boy I ever loved. I hoped in writing it I’d find some peace from the nightmare I was living, some solace in my anger. I didn’t expect him to write back. I wasn’t prepared for his words, and I certainly wasn’t ready for the impact this soldier would have on my life. A deep-rooted hate transformed into friendship, and then molded into a love like I’d never known before. Sergeant Devin Ulysses Clay did what I couldn’t: he put the shattered pieces of my heart back together, restoring my faith in humanity and teaching me how to live again. But now that I’m whole, I have a decision to make. Do I return to my life as I knew it and the fiancé I left behind, or do I walk away from it all for the only man to ever break my heart?
I’ve been living in hell, but you won’t hear me complain. These men depend on me, as I do them, and this brotherhood is the only family I’ve ever known. The Army saved me from a callous mother and a life on the wrong side of the tracks that was quickly spiraling out of control. So unlike most of the men in my platoon, going home wasn’t something I longed for. I was content overseas, spending my days defending this country that gave me my life back. Fighting became my new normal … until her. A letter from Katie Devora—a letter that I almost didn’t open. Her words put a fire back inside of me that I didn’t know I’d lost. She gave me hope during a time when I was fighting every day just to stay alive, and now it’s time I fight for her.
1. How do I erase this deep-rooted hatred that has spread from a smolder to a full-blown inferno in my soul?
2. I don’t process every word I write; I only write from the heart. Letting the words flow out of me freely, I scrawl with feverish intent, letting truth dictate the message. For the first time in years, I let my heart take the lead.
3. Death becomes merely a noun, something we neither process nor heal from.
4. All my heart needed was to be near him again to remember that it beats for him.
5. Love doesn’t have an expiration date, Katie. There is no cookie cutter for it, and there sure as hell aren’t instructions. It just is. Who says you can’t fall in love with someone who’s already broken your heart? Who says you can’t move on and then fall in love all over again from thousands of miles away via letters and emails? That’s the great thing about love … it finds you. And when it’s true love, it doesn’t go away, and you just know. You don’t have to wonder or guess, because it just … is.
2. “We become numb, our emotions sedated. Death becomes merely a noun, something we neither process nor heal from.”
3. “For the first time in my life my world seems bigger…my options limitless…my chances of happiness visible.”
4. “And trust me, I get it. The unknown is scary, and there are no guarantees where war is concerned, but if there’s one thing you need to know—one thing that I want you to carry with you—it’s that I will fight like hell to make it back to you.” Devin’s eyes fill with tears. “I’m coming back to you, Katie.”
5. “Love doesn’t have an expiration date.”
Before We Were Strangers by Renee Carlino
No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthey
The Road by Cormac McCarthey
Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane
Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
Confess by Colleen Hoover
The Collector by John Fowles
One Second After by William R Forstchen
King by TM Frazier
The Green Mile by Stephen King
I lost a part of myself that day. Most people would say I was too young to really know what love is, but I disagree. Admittedly, I’m not sure what part of myself I lost—or how permanent the emptiness is—but I’m sure it must’ve been significant if the gaping hole inside my chest is any indication.
“I can’t believe this,” I whisper to no one but myself. What are the chances that his name would show up on a pen pal list that my psychiatrist sent me? It’s a passing thought, but one that I can’t ignore.
What if his name was meant for me to see? It wouldn’t surprise me, considering that Devin was always the one person who could help me work through my problems, however big or small they were . . . at least until the day he decided to leave me without a word.
Bitterness seeps into my veins, but I fight against it because there is no way in hell that I will allow Devin Ulysses Clay to have that kind of control over me, especially after the way he left. And now I have to write him, because if I don’t, I’m letting him win—I’m letting the bitterness win—and I’m tired of fucking losing.
No, there is no reason at all that I can’t write him a letter. A measly little letter. Who knows? Maybe it will be good for me. Without giving it much more thought, I open up a Word document to start typing my letter when I remember what Dr. Perry said.
“Damn it,” I mumble. Shutting down my laptop, I grab the paper I wrote the address on and the pen lying next to it. Now what? My fingers twirl the pen as I contemplate what to write.
Fuck you! I laugh out loud when I scribble the words on the paper. Then I quickly scratch them out, because as much as I’d like to write that, I’m not that big of a bitch.
My phone buzzes on the end table next to me. Looking down, I see Wyatt’s name pop up on the screen. I tip my head back and groan. Something has shifted between us over the past several months, and if I’m being completely honest with myself, I’ve felt different about Wyatt for quite some time. As to what exactly has changed, I’m not so sure, but things are different . . . I’m different.
Before the accident, I seriously thought that it was all in my head. I figured I had just gotten too comfortable in our relationship and it was a phase that I would have to work through. After the accident, I began to realize that the love I feel for him is no different than the love I feel for my mom and Bailey. Now the love I felt for Devin . . .
Whoa! Where the hell did that come from? Hell no, Katie, I tell myself. Not. Going. There.
My phone continues to buzz so I push the green button to answer the call. “Hello?”
“Hey. Did you make dinner tonight? I just got off work and can head over.” His voice sounds hopeful, and something about that just pisses me off. Hell no, I didn’t make him dinner. I didn’t even make myself dinner.
“No,” I snap, dropping my head into my hand. It’s been a long-ass day and I’m beyond exhausted, but I don’t need to take it out on Wyatt. “I’ve been busy all day, and I just got done at my appointment with Dr. Perry and now I’m—” I quickly cut myself off. Do I really want to tell Wyatt about the letter I’m going to write? He and Devin were never really on friendly terms, and I’m sure it would only create more waves in our already churning ocean of problems.
“Now you’re what?”
“I—uh… Now I’m getting ready to make dinner. So if you want, you can give me about an hour and then head over. Is that okay?” Son of a bitch. I don’t want him to come over tonight. I don’t want anyone to come over tonight. I want to write this stupid-ass letter and then go to bed, dinner be damned.
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