Soulmates. Are these the people we’re meant to be with forever, or are these the people destined to change our lives forever?
Kara Edwards and Liam Sundry each moved to San Diego from very different places for very different reasons. Kara, a pretty girl in her twenties from Canada who moved to San Diego for school, and Liam, a handsome and charming Navy SEAL candidate from Tennessee, would have seemed like an unlikely couple on paper. But in reality, they found each other to be exactly the partner they didn’t know they were looking for. What started out as a fairytale romance soon became tumultuous as Liam struggled to suppress some long-buried, and increasingly strong, thoughts and desires. Despite his attempts to ignore the storm brewing within him, Liam and, consequently, Kara are forced to make decisions that thrust them into situations they never imagined. Promising to never leave the other’s side, the depths of the couple’s love undergoes test after test as Liam reveals his oldest secret—one that he never expected to tell anyone.
Unsealed is a story about love and loss, true friendship, the constant process of self-discovery and, ultimately, acceptance. Inspired by true events, it looks at the value of empathy and reminds readers that there are two sides to every story.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.76(d)|
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An Unconventional Story of Love, Passion and Friendship
By K. M. Langdon, Jessica Wright
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 K. M. Langdon and Motus Publishing Inc.
All rights reserved.
Stepping off the plane, Kara let the heat seep into her bones. Breathing in the new air, she felt the kind of excitement that only new beginnings could offer. In a jean skirt and white tank top, her long brown hair cascaded down her already tanned back in beach waves, held off her face by a pair of sunglasses. With the number of a pro-surfer from her flight tucked into her pocket, she felt the promise of an exciting new life.
She grabbed a cab to her new apartment, one that she'd found online – just close enough to campus that she could walk, but far enough that she didn't feel she'd be overwhelmed by campus events. She looked happily out the window, welcoming the warm air and hot sun on her face, and at the palm trees and sidewalks full of chiseled, tanned bodies running, skateboarding, and casually hanging out with friends. She couldn't wait to get to the beach to start making friends, but she first had to attend orientation.
Though she considered herself past undergraduate immaturity, she hadn't quite reached a Master's level of maturity where beach parties didn't outweigh the excitement of academia. Orientation was exactly the level of boring that Kara expected – meeting professors, listening to their areas of study, and an awkward mix-and-mingle event with all 12 students. It might have been more exciting if Kara had seen anyone that looked like her or the kind of fun-loving, Bay Street-bound people she was used to. Back in Canada, Bay Street was the closest Kara could get to Wall Street and was where the majority of her friends from undergrad had found jobs. She enjoyed partaking in the extravagant parties that the future lawyers and investment bankers put on in their free time. She knew if she could find people like that in San Diego she'd click with them immediately, but there was no one like that at orientation. All of the other students looked to be sun-deprived and far too interested in the program director's area of study – war poetry. In her mind, war poetry was far too depressing to dwell on. Though she herself was a "book nerd" at heart and could become enthralled in her studies like the rest, she was used to portraying herself as a less-than-serious party girl, and wasn't quite ready to shed that shell. She hadn't told anyone, but she was incredibly nervous that all the socially awkward men and women with unkempt hair around her would see her as an imposter in their intellectually superior world. While intelligent, she'd partied harder than she'd studied throughout the past four years of undergrad, resulting in many of her early grades being lower than she'd ever experienced before going to university. To protect herself from academic embarrassment, she held onto her superficial mask and let herself act as though she'd prefer to spend her afternoon acquainting herself with the men of San Diego's beaches more than learning about the program.
Ducking out of the mix-and-mingle event before it even began, she bumped into a large chest smelling of Boss cologne and cigars.
"Woah, excuse me," said the man in a deep Californian surfer drawl. "Leaving so soon?"
Kara looked up and saw the owner of the large chest. He was staring down at her, a goofy expression on his face. His actual appearance was slightly at odds with the height and solidity that his chest and voice had suggested. He was lean and soft, resembling an athlete who had been too busy with books and work to keep up with spending hours in the gym, but his skin still had the tan of an active outdoorsman and his warm smile gave the impression that he could burst into laughter at any moment. Catching a glimpse of his flip-flops and Margaritaville t-shirt, she liked him immediately. "Well, unfortunately, I just remembered that I have something to do. I just moved here, you see, so I have a ton of errands to run," she replied, fumbling over her excuse because she was a little embarrassed about her lack of interest in the program's opening event.
"Doesn't look like my scene either," he chuckled, a deep huh-huh-huh sound. "I'll head out with you."
As he turned and walked away, she didn't think he would be the man who she hoped would steal her heart in California, but she noticed that he had his own unique, and somewhat comforting, charm. He was gangly, all legs and arms, but he moved with purpose. His personality seemed to mimic the Golden Coast's signature surfer vibe, but there was also something a little bit different about him too. She followed him out of the building and, as they reached the sunny outdoors, he turned and grinned at her while he stopped his too-long arms from swinging in time with his legs by hooking each thumb into his pockets.
"You from Canada, then? I can tell by your accent. I love Canada. Great hockey, and great fries."
Kara laughed. "Yep, it's a great country. Long winters though. I can't wait to enjoy the sun and palm trees here." She looked at him with a slightly confused expression and asked, "Are you a hockey fan? I didn't expect to meet many of those down here."
"Ah, yes. I'm a big hockey fan. I used to spend summers, Thanksgiving, and Christmas vacations on my grandparents' farm in the northeast, and they love hockey. They don't like L.A. too much, so we always went to visit them. We went to Montreal once too and ate poutine – it was one of the most delicious meals of my life. I was a pretty young kid then, but I still remember."
She started walking towards the parking lot but noticed that he made no move to follow. Instead, he grinned at her and asked, "Wanna get a beer? You must drink a lot of beer up there."
"Sure," she answered. Kara felt immediately comfortable around him and was eager to make a new friend. She loved country music, so she felt sure she'd like anyone who liked Jimmy Buffet enough to sport his t-shirt to the first day of school.
Sitting at a bar near campus, they chatted about home, her distaste for cold winters and his nostalgia for white Christmases, his love of hockey and her mere tolerance of the sport, and their shared excitement of living in the craft beer capital of the USA. His name was Michael, and he absolutely did not like being called Mike. He was easy going, loved to laugh, enjoyed sports, and was easy to feel comfortable around. He reminded her of her friends at home, only quirkier and with a bit of West Coast chill. As they packed up to leave, Kara asked what his plans were for the evening, and had to work hard to stifle a giggle as he talked excitedly about the typewriter he had bought specifically for his move. He liked to write short stories and was working on a novel, and preferred to do it in the way that all the past greats had done.
"When I get home tonight, before we get too much school work, I'm going to pour a tumbler of scotch, light a candle, and channel Hemingway while I type. It's a restored 1915 Underwood. Have you seen how beautiful those babies are? It looks and feels just like how I always imagined the machines the great American writers would have used," Michael gushed. His cheeks were blushing red, and his eyes were light with barely contained excitement and pride.
Kara laughed. "You talk about your typewriter like most guys talk about girls," she said with a toying grin. While she was mocking him, he intrigued her. He was athletic, confident, and artistic. He even admitted to having a geeky side. And, most interestingly, he was comfortable with it all. In fact, he seemed proud of it. They reached the parking lot and he offered her a ride home. He handed her the only helmet and asked, "Ever been on a bike?"
With her eyes as wide as a shocked schoolgirl and the slight shaking of her hands as she did up her helmet, the answer was easy for him to guess. "Just hold on tight and, please, lean into the turns," he winked before he took her arms and wrapped them around his waist.
Once at home and readying for bed, Kara thought about Michael working with a glass of scotch beside him, alone at home on a Friday night, writing furiously about something deep and intelligent. He'd talked of sports games and kegger parties, so she knew they shared the same kind of undergraduate experience, but he was different. She, too, liked to write and create characters to tell stories, but she always kept this to herself, like a dirty little secret. Michael, on the other hand, seemed to embrace it, which only made him more interesting.
Turning off her lights, she promised to try and let herself be unique too. What better time or place to do it? New place, new me, she thought to herself. And, maybe, new love, she added hopefully.
After orientation, I'm still worried about the program and proving that I'm smart enough to be here. But I'm not worried about meeting people to be friends with anymore. Grad school doesn't seem like high school, or even undergrad. My program seems to have people of all ages and from all over the country. Everyone has a different background with different experiences. I met one guy from L.A. who, aside from his surfer drawl, is a lot like me. He likes to have fun, drink beer, and go to parties, but he also likes to writes stories, watch old movies, and quote Hemingway.
It's scary as hell. I don't have horseback riding or my friends from horseback riding to fall back on. No one here has the same kind of drive for a corporate future that everyone I know back home does. Here, everyone is intellectual, a little bit geeky, and totally comfortable with it. I feel like the outsider. Going forward, I have to remember to be me. I have to accept them for being them too. I can feel it ... This is where my story is going to start. I just hope I can let it.CHAPTER 2
In Coronado, Liam Sundry was in celebration mode. After a week of no sleep, 132 hours of running, carrying logs, doing pushups, laying in the ocean with nothing but their noses showing, and pushing through the pain of exhausted and frozen muscles to race against each other in the military crawl races, Liam and his friends had graduated from Navy SEAL Hell Week.
On average, only about 25% of SEAL candidates make it through the five-and-a-half days of mental and physical testing with extreme sleep deprivation, which is intended to push each candidate past his limits and allow only those who have the determination and mental power to continue fighting into BUD/S SEAL training. Without any sleep, candidates are expected to perform under harsh conditions, in great physical pain, and while completely exhausted, with commanding officers constantly yelling harsh verbal abuse intended to degrade and test mental fortitude. "You worthless piece of shit! You're doing those pushups like a fucking faggot!" rang in every candidate's ears long after the week was finished. The honor of becoming a Navy SEAL is bestowed on only the most deserving applicants and is earned through extremely hard work, extreme toughness, and enormous amounts of sweat and pain. Hell Week is just the tip of the iceberg. It is designed to wean out all those who want the honor but do not want to, or cannot, endure the pain required. Most of the young men that Liam had befriended during his time in the regular Navy didn't make it past the second or third day, but that didn't matter by the end of the week. He'd become much closer with those he had graduated with. They had become his brothers. He had two staph infections – one in his hip and one in his leg. His friend Jones had a broken arm, Matthews had a gash on his jaw, Stevens had a sprained ankle, and the rest of the men scattered around were nursing other injuries, aches, or pains. They had all gone to hell and back together, and survived.
After hot showers and medically supervised sleep (men had been known to be so sleep deprived that they'd attempt suicide during their first night of sleep in a week), Liam and his friends were now celebrating at a local Mexican restaurant with, what they believed to be, the best tacos in Coronado. They were comparing battle scars and downing beers and shots while often declaring to each other, "I'd take a bullet for you, man! And I'd never leave ya behind." With every round, these promises grew louder and louder so that any local passersby knew another Hell Week must have wrapped up.
Liam looked around him as he waited at the bar for another beer, which was, in Coronado tradition, on the house. He appreciated the beer and the congratulations that came with each new bottle. He'd earned it. They all had. Seeing his new friends laughing, drinking, and holding their hurt limbs out of the way of those stumbling past, he felt more content than he ever had in his life. He was consumed by it all, and that felt good. He wasn't the strongest or the most skilled fighter. Nor was he the smartest or the fastest. It was a mish-mash group of people who, he realized, likely wouldn't have been friends in other circumstances. There were men from Ivy League colleges and some with nothing more than a high school degree, like himself. There was an ex-professional fighter, a poet, and a tech-genius who taught himself about technology and the digital world after leaving his Amish community. They were all different and they all had their pasts. But, the Hell Week experience and the dedication they all had to serving their country as Navy SEALs kept them together. He could see the same hungry need in their eyes that he had in his. As they had stood waist-deep in the ocean with wet sand that had infiltrated their uniforms chaffing their private parts and the cold ocean whipping around them in the darkness of 3am, he'd seen what separated those standing around him now from those who had walked out of the ocean, quit, and gone home to dry beds and loving wives with soft touches. All that any of them had wanted to do was leave – walk out of the ocean and return to their quarters to dry off, warm up, and shut their eyes like so many of the other Hell Week candidates had. However, no matter how much pain they felt or how severe their exhaustion was, no one with him in this bar had quit. Liam could see his own blind and stubborn determination reflected in their eyes. For the men at this bar, there was no other option than to make it through. There was no other option but to succeed.
Thinking back to the pain he had tried so hard to block out, he remembered his leg with the staph infection and all the times that his throat and chest had tightened up and cut off his airflow for some unknown cause - a new allergy, exhaustion, pain, or all three. When he remembered how he had to fight through the threat of blackness that encroached on his normally perfect vision, he was proud. He would not let anything stand in the way of him becoming a Navy SEAL. He told himself that his body would just have to learn to adapt. He fought hard to continue running and swimming and crawling without any of the training officers seeing him struggle. He knew others had done the same and that it was possible to overcome any obstacle. He was fairly certain the ex-fighter had faced a similar challenge because he had seen in him the same flash of fear that he'd felt before his gaze hardened with determination on several occasions.
These are my people, he thought. I've finally found my people. He looked around at all the tired yet determined faces and he felt safe for the first time in a very long time. With them, with this job, I can move forward. I am a man. Only a real man can be a part of BUD/S and become a Navy SEAL. He smiled to himself as he sipped his beer. I can finally move forward, he thought.
As the night went on and the sun went down, his comrades started taking out their cell phones to call their girlfriends, wives, or just any girl with a warm bed and open legs. He didn't have any of those. His ex, who he still thought of as Caligula, had sent him numerous texts during Hell Week and he could probably have had Skype sex with her, but he didn't want that. He was happy leaving her at home. He was becoming a new man, a better man, without her. There was always the option of one of the frog hogs that followed the SEALs around town, he could have had any of them easily, but he didn't want that either. He wanted a real woman now. He wanted someone he'd have a future with. He wanted a girl that a soon-to-be United States Navy SEAL deserved.
Excerpted from Unsealed by K. M. Langdon, Jessica Wright. Copyright © 2016 K. M. Langdon and Motus Publishing Inc.. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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