My thanks to all who have served their nations in themilitary. As my readers know, I have a fondness for US Marines—okay, andthere's that Navy Corpsman, oh yeah, and Grant's man is former Army—okay, thereis just something about military men and women PERIOD. Instant heroes andheroines. Many of my readers are military family members and I always try toremember to thank them for their sacrifices, too.
One mom who made the ultimate sacrifice is Sue Sattler,whose son took his life because of his battle with PTSD. I met Sue on Facebookafter my third book came out when she wrote to thank me for the series. I askedif she would mind if I dedicated my latest book to her son, Dane ChristopherSattler. She thought it would be a wonderful tribute to him.
In a Facebook discussion this week about whether it'srespectful to have a BDSM Romance novel dedicated to a fallen hero (or have thecharacters in the series compared to a fallen hero), Sue responded:
"Danewould have loved it. I can see him grinning ear to ear with his handsomedimples showing over having a dedication in a BDSMbook. My 75 year old father, who does not read BDSM (lol) was brought to tearsby your dedication and bought the book just so he could see it whenever hewanted to. I think he looks at it every night. You certainly have touched thisfamily with your love and generosity."
Telling stories about characters battling Post TraumaticStress Disorder (PTSD)—both combat related, as well as from other traumas—hasbecome something of a passion of mine. The military men and women in my RescueMe series bonded in combat in Iraq—in a firefight that changed each of themforever. In the ongoing story of these men, Nobody'sPerfect, the fourth book in the series, focuses on one of those men, DamiánOrlando. Damián was severely wounded in Iraq and has found thatsadomasochism has helped him regain control of his life and to help keep PTSDepisodes at bay. Of course, they never go away, as the scene below shows.
In this excerpt from Nobody'sPerfect (Rescue Me #4), Damián is talking with Adam, his former Marinemaster sergeant—the man who rescued him from suicide while he was recoveringfrom the grenade explosion in Iraq. (The story of the firefight is told in Masters at Arms, Rescue Me #1, the freeintroduction to the series.)
Dad leaned forward. “That kid needs a full-timedad.”
Tell me about it.“Yeah, well, tell her mama that.”
“Happy to, but she might go to ground again if Iissue a direct order like that.”
“She’s not going anywhere for a while.” Not ifDamián had anything to say about it. “I’ll work on her, but she’s got morebaggage than this latest incident. She just needs time.”
Dad waited. Normally Damián wouldn’t revealsomeone’s personal story without permission, but Dad needed to know there wouldbe some issues with triggers for Savi.
“When I met her over eight years ago, she was somekind of masochist-for-hire for some pretty sadistic bastards. They worked herover pretty good.”
“What the fuck’s a masochist-for-hire?”
“Hell, I don’t know. I never got the full story, butthe guy she was handled by seemed to be pimping her out to businessmen. He wassetting her up with the clients, then disappearing and letting total strangersrestrain and torture her.” Images of Savannah tied to the bed in the hotelflashed across his mind’s eye. “Money must have changed hands, although I don’tthink Savi saw any of it. She was more like a sex slave.”
Damián closed his eyes and rubbed his face, wishinghe could blot out those images. If only he’d known how much deeper her problemswere then, he’d never have left her. “I don’t know that she’s dealt with any ofthat trauma yet.”
“What do you plan to do about it?”
Love her.Yeah, as if he was what she needed—or wanted. “I don’t have any intention ofletting her know what I’ve become.”
Dad scrutinized him, and Damián sat back to put somespace between them.
“Just what is it you’ve become?”
Why Dad needed him to state the obvious was beyondhim. “A cripple. A sadist. A freak—and not the good kind, either.”
“First off, I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear youcall yourself a cripple. That’s bullshit. If I ever hear you say it again,you’ll have one whip-wielding former master sergeant wearing out your ass witha singletail.” He paused. “You know that’s not an implement I’m particularlywell-trained on, either.”
Even so, Damián had no doubt the man would followthrough on that promise—with predictable results. Fine. He’d just keep thosethoughts to himself.
“As for being a sadist, you know you’ve never hurtanyone who didn’t want or need the pain you’ve dished out. I’ve never seen aDom with more self-control than you have.”
Yeah, for Damián, sadomasochism had always beenabout control—regaining what had been taken away from him in Fallujah.
“Now, you want to tell me what you mean by a bad freak?”
Damián stared down at his biker boots and let thesilence drag out between them. He’d never told anyone this before. He had nosecrets from Dad; it just hadn’t come up in the conversation before.
“What are you afraid of, son?”
Hurting her.He wasn’t sure how to bring it into this conversation either.
Damián raised his head and looked across the desk.“I haven’t slept with anyone since,” he looked down at his boot, “…beforedeployment.” The blood pounded in his ears, and he almost didn’t hear Dad’sresponse.
“That’s a fucking long time. Nothing wrong with alittle discernment.”
Okay, the man had missed the point, whetherintentionally or not, Damián didn’t know. Dad probably just wanted him to speakthe words out loud. Take away some of their power, as Damián had tried to getSavi to do. Might as well come right out and say it, because Dad wouldn’t takesilence for an answer.
“I didn’t say I haven’t had sex. I just haven’t leta woman I’ve been intimate with sleep with me. For two reasons.”
“Number one being?”
Damián didn’t think he’d ever have caught AdamMontague off guard, but the look on his face clearly said he hadn’t expected tohear that.
“Wait. Let me get this straight. I know you onlyplay publicly with Patti to help Victor out, but I’ve seen you go upstairs withsome of the willing bottoms before.”
Damián had topped fellow veteran Victor’s slavePatti many times in the great room, giving her what she needed—a level of painVictor couldn’t deliver—but there’d never been anything sexual between them.
“I only had sex with bottoms when I knew and theyclearly understood there would never be anything more than a physical release.”
“Sounds familiar.” Damián looked up at Dad whoglanced away without elaborating.
“Anyway, there haven’t been that many interested ina superficial connection with me.”
Savi didn’t meet his criteria for no connections,because they were way beyond superficial already. They’d formed a bond yearsago that he’d never been able to break, even with no expectation of ever seeingher again. Now he’d discovered they shared a daughter. How did you keepsomething like that on the superficial level?
Dad found his voice after a few moments. “I thoughtyou said Savi’s been living in your apartment for the past couple weeks. Howthe hell hasn’t she seen you without the prosthesis?”
Now it was Damián’s turn to avoid eye contact. “Ihaven’t taken it off around her.”
Dad nearly came out of the chair again as he leanedforward. “What the fuck do you mean you haven’t taken itoff? It’s not like you live in Marc’s monstrosity of a house and can fumblearound without seeing each other for a fucking week. You have to be living ontop of each other in your place. Are you bucking to get the rest of your damnedleg amputated when it gets infected?”
Dad was right, as usual. Damián was asking fortrouble by not giving the stump a longer break every day than his half-hour orless of bathroom time. He continued to avoid Dad’s gaze, but he tried toreassure him. “I had my own room in Aspen and had a chance to rest the stump abit more there. And I check for signs of any problems a couple times a day.”
When Dad grew silent again, Damián ventured a glancehis way. The scowl on his face spoke volumes, but he added a few choice words,anyway. “Pride goes before the fall.”
Who said anything about pride? He just didn’t wantto gross her out looking at a man who’d had his foot blown off. “Look, I don’tthink she’s looking to have any kind of serious relationship.”
“You share a kid together. Sounds fucking serious tome.”
“That was one day at the beach eight years ago fortwo lost, horny teenagers.”
“Bullshit, and you know it. That girl’s been on yourmind a lot, at least since rehab. I heard you scream out the name Savannah afew times during nightmares.”
Dad had been the one to wake him from dozens ofnight terrors and bad dreams during that first year he’d lived here, and offand on for a couple more years before Damián had moved to his own place. Theman had saved his life. Damián had been so fucking close to putting in place asuicide plan when Dad had come into that hospital room in San Diego the daybefore Damián had been discharged.
“Look, I plan to be a part of Marisol’s life now thatI know she’s mine, but that doesn’t mean her mama wants to have any kind ofrelationship—kink or vanilla.”
“Sounds like you two need to work on yourcommunication skills.” Dad, who never had trouble speaking his mind, looked alittle sheepish and glanced away again.
Damián sighed. “Look, I can barely touch her withoutsetting off a dozen triggers.”
“Give her time. Sounds like she’s been to hell andback. Now, what’s Number Two?”
He could never get anything by Dad. He took a deepbreath. “I’m afraid to sleep with her.”
“I thought that was Number One.”
“No, not sex—sleep. What if Ihave a bad episode? I could hurt her if she’s lying in the bed next to me.”
“Son, there are never any guarantees, but when I washome with Joni, recovering from that ambush in Afghanistan, I had plenty ofnightmares.”
The man sure had loved his first wife, but had losther to cancer after twenty years of marriage. Damián wondered what it was liketo be committed to one woman that many years.
“Even though I lashed out at night a couple timesand insisted on moving to the couch, she refused to sleep anywhere but besideme every fucking night. We’d slept together so seldom over the years, wedecided it was a risk worth taking. Thank God I didn’t miss those last few opportunities.We didn’t have that many left.”
Dad was lost in memories a moment, then looked athim again. “I have a feeling the two of you are going to be able to help eachother on the nights when the nightmares return. Just warn her not to touch youwhen you’re sleeping on the couch or something. Have her call out to you firstand make sure you’re awake before she gets too close. That’s not PTSD, justyour training as a warrior always having to be on guard. But if you go to bedwith each other, I think your mind will continue to function on some level mostnights. You’ll know she’s not the enemy.”
He paused to give Damián time to absorb theinformation. “Look, you’ll never know for sure unless you try. What’ve you gotto lose?”
Savi. Marisol. Everything.
Well, he had plenty of time to worry about gettinginto bed with Savi. “Speaking of being there, or not in this case, I’m going tohave to steer clear of the club a while. She doesn’t know about that either,and it’s nothing I’m going to talk about except on a need-to-know basis. Rightnow, she doesn’t need to know.”
Dad moved in on him again, leaning forward. “Fine.But if I hear any more bullshit talk about you not being good enough for herbecause of kink or your foot or whatever excuse you drum up, I’ll blister yourbutt good. She won’t find anyone more honorable and worthy as a husband or afather.”
“Yeah, well…” Damián looked away.
Dad stood up. “Get back out there and figure out howyou’re going to win her over.” Damián relaxed, glad this talk was over.
One lucky commenter will be chosen at random to receive oneof the Romance e-books in the Rescue Me series (either a current book or anupcoming one in the series). The winner also will receive some Rescue Me seriesswag, including an "Ahh, Kallypso…the stories you tell" purple penand Romance Trading Cards for the first three books. The drawing will take place on or after 12 noon Eastern Thursday, Nov. 15.
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