Charlie Day fell in love with Jackson Stiles a long time ago. But that was before he and her brother enlisted and went to Iraq. Before Jackson came back different. Before they told Charlie her brother would never come back at all.
A lot of things have changed since then. But when Jackson takes a job at the company where Charlie works, she discovers that one thing hasn't changedthe spark between them. She's not sure she can love this new Jackson, or forgive him for the part he played in her brother's death. It's too bad for Charlie that, with love, you don't always have a choice.
|File size:||370 KB|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Trudging across the barren land, I wish I could escape the desert heat, even for just a moment. I would be happy to have an inch of shade, but there isn't any shade herenot in this area, anyway. There aren't even clouds. There isn't anything in this desert: no trees or buildings. Nothing worth looking at really...except the picture in my pocket. But that belongs to me, not the desert.
My boots are too heavy for my feet after a fourteen-hour shift of patrolling. I just want to rest and escape the damn sand for a few hours. It gets in your hair, your eyes and even your lungs. It piles up quickly and on everything in sight. I know because I ate it with my breakfast this morning, and my lunch. It gets in the water supply and affects day-to-day operations.
When conditions are rightor wrong, ratherit becomes a monster, spinning into a dust storm from hell. Sometimes it takes days for the sand to settle. Part of me believes that it never actually does. Like it's part of the atmosphere here, attached to the oxygen and nitrogen, inhabiting the ambiance.
The sand is the most annoying part of Iraq. It's not like the dirt back home in Texas. It's less dense and has the consistency of powder. You can't escape it, because it has the uncanny ability of following...into your bunk, your bed, on the pillow where you rest your head at night. No doubt I'll take pieces of this earth home with me. Home. When I get there, maybe I'll feel clean again. But even then, I'll still remember the way it tastes, the way it smells. Hell, it'll probably be part of the blood in my veins, the marrow of my bones by then.
I cuss as I struggle to pry open the door of our combat housing unit. Piece of shit. The rusted latch finally gives way, and I stumble through the narrow door frame.
"Hey, bro." Adam Day glances up from his bunk. "Have a good night?"
I let my pack fall to the ground with a thud. "It wasn't bad." I pause and then add, "No one died."
Adam's laugh is forced, and instantly I regret my comment. On Sunday we lost three soldiers. Morale is low, and the increasing number of deaths is making coping difficult. In fact, I feel numbness where I should feel pain. Apathy where I should feel fire. I'm losing my mindif I haven't already.
I clear my throat and attempt to steer the conversation to a better, safer place. "What are you working on?"
"My last letter home," he answers, like he's filling in the blanks of a simple crossword puzzle.
I nod slowly; many soldiers write a just-in-case letter with things they've never said, emotions they've failed to convey, that kind of thing. Me? I've never written one, because the truth is, I wouldn't know where to start.
I cross the space of our housing unit in four big steps and flop down onto my bunk. "You don't need to write one of those, Adam."
He shrugs. "You never know." He folds the letter a few times and stuffs it into an envelope. Then he hands it to me. "This is for Charlie. I want you to keep it."
Hearing her name makes my heart skip a beat or two in my chest. "Don't you want to write one to Claire?"
He shakes his head. "No. It's Charlie I'm worried about."
I leave that one alone and go back to my original point. "Nothing's going to happen to you."
He sits up on his bunk, rests his elbows on his knees and leans forward. "I need to ask a favor."
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Very good read!
If you think about it, we have no shortage of military men in the dating world. The traumas of war are real. Melissa Guinn captures a real life problem in the pages of her book. How do you act like a civilian again? Can you build a lasting relationship with the ghosts of whatever you endured while serving? Sure, not every person who serves is going to see things like Jackson did. Enough of them do, though. I like how Jackson comments on the awareness a soldier must learn to use in their surroundings. Deployed to hostile locations , everyone is a potential threat. You watch your back 24/7. In Head First Falling, Jackson was enlisted with Charlie's brother. He was there when her brother died. That adds a painful dynamic to the already tense situation. They have never given themselves a chance at being together. With the death of Charlie's brother, they wonder if they have waited too long to try. A realistic, romance that deals with grief, trust, and moving on with life. I hope we visit some of the characters again in the future.