~ Blurb ~
A Susan Stoker Special Forces Kindle World Novella
When a severe concussion sustained on a mission in Egypt equals a discharge for one-time soccer super star turned Delta Force IT expert, Terrance "Trigger" O'Leary, he spends half a year drunk, and in more strange beds than even he is willing to admit.
After wandering back home to Lucasville, Kentucky he's hired by his old friend, now the principal of the local high school. Honestly believing that his new job as soccer coach and part time bartender will be all he needs to fix himself, he’s determined to leave everything about his old life behind.
But a chance encounter at a karaoke bar turns into a smoking hot hook-up with a woman whose deep mocha skin and hypnotic singing voice turns him inside out. A woman he's a little surprised to meet again the next day—Mariah Bailey, recent winner of "Singers,” a national talent competition, and the high school’s new music teacher.
When terrifying, inexplicable violence rips the sleepy community apart, Trigger must leap back into action— which forces Mariah to accept his feelings about her, and the fact that even he can't always save the day.
The screen populated with furious messages, scrolling down as they continued to fill his screen. As he stared at them, trying to muscle the food down his throat and not puke it all back up on the table, the phone buzzed in his hand, making him curse and drop it in the mess of nearly congealed gravy.
Ghost was actually calling him.
That was a first.
He picked the device up, wiped off the worst of the damage and touched the screen to answer.
“God damn it, you sorry excuse for a human being. Where in the holy hell have you been?”
“Hey, Ghost,” he said, his voice creaky from disuse.
“Fuck you, Trigger. What the hell is going on with you? You said you’d answer text messages on the way to Kentucky. It’s been…shit, it’s been three weeks since anyone’s heard anything from your sorry ass.”
“Yeah, I know.” He stuck his fork into a huge bite of meatloaf. “Sorry.”
“Fuck your sorry you dick cheese. Jesus Christ in a Jeep you have turned me into a worried mama hen and I do not, I repeat do not, like it.”
“Right, well, I’m okay now so you can shit out your eggs and get on with your day.”
The silence was louder than any shouting or cursing. He winced, but waited it out.
“I’m gonna pretend like you didn’t just say that to me, soldier.”
“I’m out, Ghost. I’m not your soldier anymore.” He dropped the fork onto the plate. Gravy splattered on the table. He glared at it, his eyes hot, his ears ringing so loud he almost didn’t hear Ghost’s next words.
“I told you before you left—you will never stop being Delta. Once an Operator, always an Operator. Cut the pity party bullshit, Trigger. I don’t like it.”
I don’t give a shit what you don’t like, Trigger thought, but would never, ever say.
“Right,” he said instead. “Aye aye.”
“Don’t use pussy sailor talk with me,” Ghost growled.
Trigger sighed and slumped into the cracked leather seat, his conversational inclinations all used up. “I’m sorry I didn’t stay in touch, okay? I’m a big boy, remember? I can manage to get home without checking in every hour on the road.”
“How’s your head,” Ghost asked, giving him a pass on the lame, teenager-ish sarcasm.
“Fine,” he said, wincing even as a spike of now-familiar pain pierced his left eyeball, lodging in his brain and settling in for a nice long session.
“You’re not on the horse, are ya?”
“Fuck no, Ghost. I’m not going brown. I ran out of the happy pills and am on to the second, step-down level. I’ll wean myself off, don’t worry.” He suppressed a shudder when longing for a comfy bottle of booze slammed into him with the force of a thrown fist. Heroin addiction was a known “problem” for vets lately—especially those who’d been discharged in as much pain as he’d been. He’d avoided it, because he knew himself well enough to avoid it.
“You going to your Dad’s place when you get there,” Ghost asked.
“Yeah, I guess,” he said, as he twirled the fork around in the congealing mess of fat and carbs on the plate.
“All right, well…”
Trigger gripped the phone tighter. He couldn’t wait to end the call but at the same time he dreaded the end of it. Hearing his old commander’s voice made him feel connected again, part of a team, a team he’d loved as much, if not more, than the many soccer ones he’d been on in his life.
“Fletch’s trying to keep the soccer team together. We almost beat the assholes over in two,” Ghost said.
Trigger grinned even as his heart tightened like a fist in his chest. “Yeah? Well, you tell Fletch I said to make sure he doesn’t forget to mark up, not to tackle. It’s not knucklehead football. It’s the beautiful game.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever,” Ghost said, his voice gruff.
“Hey, Trigger,” a different voice called. “Did you hear that Ghost has a woman?”
“Shut up,” Ghost growled, slightly off the phone’s speaker. “Before I pound you into the wall.”
“Ha, I’d like to see you try,” Fletch said. “Take care of yourself Trigger. I scored a goal. But we lost to the assholes on two.”
Trigger grinned again, picturing his fellow Operators, his friends, as he’d tried to teach them how to form themselves into a real soccer team over the past few years. It’d been bumpy and challenging but they were Delta Force. Their everyday existence personified “challenging.” A few of them were even pretty damn good by the time he’d had to leave.
~ Meet Liz Crowe ~
Amazon best-selling author, mom of three, Realtor, beer blogger, brewery marketing expert, and soccer fan, Liz Crowe is a Kentucky native and graduate of the University of Louisville currently living in Ann Arbor. She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse.
Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction hybrid, “Unconventional Romance. Worth the Risk,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”).
With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and at times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.
Don’t ever ask her for anything “like a Budweiser” or risk bodily injury.
~ Connect with Liz ~