I cannot begin to describe to you how happy I am to finally share Matt McCall's story with you.
Matt first appeared in Tell It to the Marine, Always a Marine #3. He was the patient James had to see before he went on his date and later, issues with Matt brought James home early to try and help the young Marine.
In subsequent tales, we saw Matt appear briefly in Proud to Serve Her--he seemed to be doing okay and later, he was instrumental in helping Brody get to his date in Her Marine.
Yet, for Matt, the journey wasn't over. A number of my readers wrote me regularly, particularly after he was mentioned and asked me when Matt's book was coming and I always said I planned to write it, but I needed the right woman for him. You see Matt's got issues and he needed a woman strong enough to handle what those issues mean, but also willing to take the risk on someone like Matt At his core, Matt is a good guy--a great son, a good friend, a solid Marine, but he isn't whole right now and until he puts those pieces back together a relationship wouldn't have helped. Of course, we also have to deal with the fact that Matt is part of the same unit that signed up for the 1Night Stands!
So much went into this book, but I knew I had the right woman to handle it when we met Naomi Sparks. She just lit up the page for me and in many ways I think she lights up the dark corners in Matt.
PTSD is a very real problem for our returning vets and not every two cases are alike. It takes tremendous time, patience and effort on the part of everyone involved to commit to the healing process. PTSD dogs are also a fantastic addition to the treatment plan. As such, I will be donating a portion of my royalties from Matt's book to Patriot Paws here in Texas. It is a local organization that trains service dogs--including PTSD dogs--for veterans.
Thank you to all my readers who have been on this journey with me, I truly couldn't have done this without you.
What Part of Marine Don’t You Understand?
Matt McCall’s struggles to reintegrate into civilian life have been an ongoing battle for the better part of two years. Daily group sessions and weekly one-on-ones have only allowed him to grow so far. Twice he’s returned to his home state of Ohio and twice, he retreated to Mike’s Place. Uncertain of where he belongs in the world, he battles depression silently. The unexpected gift of a black Labrador retriever perks his spirit…and a chance meeting in the park gives him a precious gift…
Aspiring country singer Naomi Sparks comes from a long line of Marines, she knows all about sacrifice and struggle. When her brother asks her to visit to Mike’s Place on his behalf, she discovers a real opportunity to make a difference. Matt McCall inspires her with the real challenge of discovering love and daring heroes who takes risks. Writing music has never been so sweet…
Can one woman who believes in him really heal the wounds in this Marine’s heart?
“We have to talk about what happened. You have to remember and not relive it.”
“I’m not reliving it.” Am I? The bitter taste in his mouth burned his tongue. Shouts echoed in the hallway. Feet thundered past. He jerked to his feet and started forward three steps. Jethro butted against him and he stopped. Disoriented, he felt the leash rub against the cuts on his knuckles—and he looked at James.
No feet echoed in the hallway. He wasn’t in Iraq. He was in Allen, Texas.
“Holy hell on a biscuit.” He sat down before he fell down and Jethro shoved his head under Matt’s hand. He couldn’t make it stop. “How do I make it stop?”
“Breathe, Matt. Look at Jethro. He knows you’re upset. Breathe.” If only James’ calmness could flow from the psychologist to him. It was like Matt could hear the words, but he couldn’t quite process them. “You haven’t hurt anyone and you haven’t hurt yourself.”
“Why does my mouth taste like ass?” Sweat trickled down the back of his neck. Oxygen burned in his chest with every breath he took.
“That’s the adrenaline. You got upset. You remembered and you were there. The bitter taste is adrenaline.”
“I’m getting short-changed here.” Amusement and disbelief warred against the craziness swirling inside him.
“No, it’s normal. With a lot of veterans, you start cooking and after a while, you can’t stop it anymore—that’s when you snap. You keep bringing yourself up to the boil and then backing off in full retreat.”
“What gets me cooking?” And why hadn’t they talked like this before? The blood pounding in his skull eased and his heart stopped trying to pound its way out of his chest.
“With veterans it can be a car backfiring, a twig snapping, or a box dropping off a shelf. The sudden, explosive noise reminds them of…”
“Gunshots.” That made sense. He could actually wrap his mind around that.
“But that’s not what sets you off.”
“So what is it?”
“I know this will sound like I’m telling you that five plus five equals a pile of hay, but it’s people yelling or laughing or running. Large movements of people. It’s what set you off in the bar. It’s why you didn’t stick it out at Damon’s restaurant. It’s why going home…”