Today we're kicking off the tour for Melanie Hansen's
Former Marine and lower-leg amputee Carey Everett keeps a grueling schedule of counseling fellow war veterans and their families. The injury he received in Afghanistan forces him to rely on a reserve of strength he didn’t even know he had. A much deserved vacation will let him reconnect with his best friend, who saved his life and has been there for him through devastating injury and painful recovery.
Part-time EMT and aspiring singer Jase DeSantis has been in love with Carey for years, but he’s come to accept that his straight friend will never be able to offer more. Jase fills his days with band rehearsals, ambulance shifts, and willing groupies, all while trying to cope with debilitating PTSD.
A week of sun, fun, and music in San Diego changes Jase and Carey’s lives forever when their relationship takes an unexpected turn. Jase has been longing for that change, but it leaves Carey reeling with confusion. As Jase fights to hold things together, Carey deals with doubts, fears, and his own preconceived notions about labels and the true nature of love.
“You keep looking at me like that, this ain’t gonna last long,” Jase growled. Carey smirked, then twirled his finger in a turn-around motion.
“I feel like a piece of meat,” Jase grumbled good-naturedly, but turned in a slow circle. Carey’s mouth watered as he took in Jase's broad shoulders and muscular back, tapering in a perfect V into slim hips and high, round buttocks. Carey was a little bemused at how looking at another man’s body was revving him up, but it was. It was just… Jase. Carey already knew how beautiful he was on the inside; now he knew how stunning he was on the outside too.
Using his support leg and his arms, he pulled himself to the edge of the bed and sat up, crooking his finger at Jase.
Jase’s eyes flared hot, and he took the few steps necessary to reach the edge of the bed. Carey reached up slowly and moved his hands onto Jase’s hips, stroking over the hipbones lightly before tugging him forward to stand between his legs.
“I just want to touch you,” he said hoarsely. “Is that okay?”
Jase smoothed Carey’s hair back from his forehead, his fingertips achingly gentle. “Touch me,” he said simply.
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A note from the author:
I’ve been steeped in military culture my whole life. My dad spent 21 years in the Air Force, and my husband is going on his 22nd year in the Navy. During the course of my husband’s career, I’ve met a lot of Navy corpsmen, or “Docs,” who have served with Marine Corps units, including one BAMF woman! Consequently, the issues of combat and PTSD are near and dear to my heart; one of the worst cases of PTSD my husband has ever seen was a Navy doc who had served three tours in Afghanistan.
This story was inspired by those tales of courage and resilience, and also by one line from the song Everything Changes by Staind: “If it’s just me and you, who knows what we could do, if we could just make it through the toughest part of the day.” Jase and Carey are close friends serving alongside each other in a hostile foreign country, fighting a relentless and brutal enemy. Together they make it through the “toughest part of the day” – Carey with more visible injuries, Jase wounded just as badly in his psyche and heart.
What happens when those life-changing experiences create an unbreakable bond between them, a bond of friendship that turns to love – even if one of them never thought he could be capable of falling in love with someone of the same sex?
Those are some of the issues I’ve tried to explore in this story, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it!
More about Melanie:
Melanie Hansen has spent time in both Texas and Florida prisons…for work. She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met. After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.
She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man. After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.
Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.
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