The Final Goodbye (A #MemorialDay Story)

By U.S. Navy photo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By U.S. Navy photo [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I wrote this story a while back to honor those our country has lost defending our freedoms, and it seemed only right I share it again this weekend.

The Final Goodbye

He stood alone. As he gazed out at the white crosses that covered the beautifully manicured lawn he felt the weight of his 48 years drag his shoulders down in a way he never had before. It had been a long time since he’d been back to this place, and he’d hoped to never return.

“A parent should never outlive his child.” Grief scratching at his throat.

He blinked back tears that stubbornly refused to fall. Part of him clung to the image he had in his mind’s eye. Full of laughter and vitality, that precious dark head bent over to kiss his young wife’s distended belly, before he turned around to say goodbye. David promised to come home soon.

He shook his head as the pain threatened to suffocate him. Not like this. This had to be a bad dream. He just needed to wake up and everything would be okay again. Unfortunately, the folded triangle of fabric pressed tightly to his chest told him everything was all too real.

His bowed his head, fingers digging into the precious flag. Alone with his grief he dropped to his knees and cried out to the only person who could hear him.

“God, if you’re listening…this is too much. Almost more pain than I can bear! My boy was a good son, a great husband. He was going to be a great father. He loved you. Loved this country. He wanted so badly to follow in his grandpa’s footsteps. Did you really have to take him, too?”

The hand on his shoulder felt familiar. It had been decades since he’d experienced that touch. He looked up to find his father standing beside him. He wore the same dress blues he’d been buried in 40 years ago and he hadn’t aged a day.

“Dad…” he choked out, blinking, sure this was some sort of hallucination.

There was a wealth of understanding and regret in his father’s eyes. “Hello, son.”

“I’m finally losing it, right? Hallucinating? A psychotic break caused by grief and stress?”

“No, son. You’re not. God heard you…. So did I. We’ve never been far away. When you called out, I asked him to let me go to you.”

Although none of this seemed real, he decided to go with it. Maybe he was dreaming. What harm could it do?

“It’s all so damned unfair, Dad!” he railed. “First you, then my son? Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of him. Proud of you… But did the price have to be so high?”

His father wrapped strong arms around him, something he’d missed most of his life. He soaked in the comfort, gaining some strength before he let go. With a bolstering breath, he straightened his spine, threw his shoulders back and raised his head.

“I’m proud of you, you know.” His father looked at him with the same piercing blue eyes as his son. “I’ve watched you grow into a strong, honorable man. I know it wasn’t easy for you to let David join the service. After the way you lost me, it would have been all too easy to encourage him to go a different direction.”

“It wouldn’t have been right. Being a soldier was all he ever wanted.” He shrugged, his smile, bittersweet. “To be a hero, just like his Grandpa.”

“It may have served you better not to paint me with such a heroic brush,” his father laughed. “I appreciate that, by the way. The way you kept me alive in your heart. The way you shared me with your family. It meant everything to me.”

The man shook his head. “I didn’t do anything all that special.”

“Yes you did,” his father smiled. “It may seem like nothing to you, but it’s what gave your son the courage to chase his dream. He knew the danger, but he also saw your gift. When his number was called, he didn’t worry. His son and wife are in good hands with you. He knows you’ll keep his memory alive, just like you did for me.”

“You’ve seen my David?” Tears finally flowed, unchecked.

His father nodded. “Of course. You didn’t think I’d let your son get to heaven without a welcome party, did you?”

“He’s okay? My boy. You’ll look out for him, Dad?”

“Of course.” His father nodded his head. “He’ll be loved. Surrounded by family, both military and kin.”

With one more shuddering breath, he clasped his father’s hand and squeezed.

“Tell him, Dad.” He bit his lip as his voice broke. “Tell him I’ll watch over his family down here. I know he’ll be watching out for them with you. And please, tell him I’m so proud of him.”

“I will.” His father smiled one last time before fading away.

As he stood, gazing out at all the soldiers that came before, he could have sworn he heard David’s voice on the gentle breeze.

“I love you, Dad.”

Squeezing the flag to his chest, he nodded.

“I love you, too, son. I’m proud of you.”

Bringing on @beth_teliho and Her Beautiful Book

Have y’all met my fun, feisty friend, Beth Teliho?

No?

Well it’s time to fix that. She’s a great friend, a brilliant blogger, and an up and coming author. So, of course, when I found out her book was finally making it’s much awaited appearance I just had to invite her to get to know you guys. (And did I forget to mention she’s also generous? She left a chance to win a prize if you hang out….)

So, without further ado, the brilliant and beautiful Beth Teliho!

Beth Advertising Banner

Hey everybody! Thanks for having me. Kitt asked me to share a bit about my book, so here goes.

Imagine yourself as eighteen again. No, really. Think about that time in your life. All the uncertainties. The trepidation and excitement mixed with insecurity and fear. The angst. Hormones charging through your veins like bulls, twisting and turning your emotions on a dime. The yearning to find yourself and understand who you are.

What if on top of all that you also had an enormous secret? One that no one else in the world knows except an empath, who also happens to be your brother. Not even your parents…or a single friend.

Imagine this secret so encompassing, it swallows the rest of your world whole, like the sun’s shadow eclipsing the moon. Other experiences are muted as a result. You feel empty and desperate; you’re disconnected from your family, and unable to make friendships.

You exist in a figurative cave. The only beacon of hope is the sliver of light your secret provides. The secret you love as much as you hate. The secret that robs you like a thief in the night while providing the air you breathe.

And even though you tried desperately to research information about it…you’re left with nothing. Zero. Nada. Nil.

Because it has no name. It has no support group. In fact, it doesn’t appear to exist anywhere else in the world. Which is why even if you could tell someone…you wouldn’t. They’d think you were insane.

Can you envision this? Are you feeling the immense pressure on your chest, squeezing your lungs? Feel the crushing isolation? The bitter angst in your veins, boiling with rage?

Good. You’ve just entered the world of Devi Bennett, the main character of Order of Seven.

But the secret isn’t Devi’s only problem. There’s also her unknown heritage, a reoccurring dream about an African tribal ceremony that’s plagued her since childhood, and an inexplicable connection to a certain tree. Mysteries that she hopes can be explained by finding her biological family.

“My older brother, Nodin, remembers more than me.

But I have something he doesn’t. 

I have the dream.”

Then she meets Baron, an intense and alluring energy healer, whose prophetic dreams seem to be connected to her.

“Two days ago I didn’t even know this man.

Now his absence is an earthquake.”

But when one of his visions leads to an ancient legend that could link to her birthright, she learns her secret may be more imperative than she ever thought imaginable.

“The air seems to suck out of the room, leaving a silence so loud it’s screaming.”

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Order of Seven is a unique, edge-of-your-seat novel that intricately weaves, adventure, danger, mystery, magic, love, religion, hope, self- discovery, family, and fate into a ride you won’t soon forget.

You won’t read this book. You will eat it. Drink it. Inhale it.

You will live it. Real time. Through Devi’s eyes.

It will crawl under your skin and consume you. Let it.

This is the kind of possession you want.

Beth T bio pic

BETH TELIHO is a writer, artist and tree hugger who lives in Texas with her husband and two adventurous sons. Restless in the mundane, she writes about the abnormal, paranormal and otherwise fantastical because that’s what quickens her heartbeat. She laughs at inappropriate jokes, and prefers spicy food and margaritas to almost anything. One day, she hopes to live in a treehouse, where she can be an eccentric introvert with at least seven cats.

Blog: www.bethteliho.me

Facebook: www.facebook.com/writerbisme

Twitterverse: @beth_teliho

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/bethteliho

If ya wanna shot at Beth’s prize, just click:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Power of Mothers…

 

Throwing back to when I was 6

 
I’m a very lucky woman. I have a mother who dedicated herself to being a strong, loving person. Her faith in God & family have carried us through some of the toughest tragedies a family can face together.

Blessed. That’s what I’d call my life. Despite the hardships; the losses. I’m still blessed.

And my sweet little sister who stood beside me in this picture is now a mom, herself! Her journey to get there was both rocky and scary, but she’s got a core of strength, steeped in faith and love that would not be denied.

She’s going to be an amazing mother, and I couldn’t be more excited to see her share her life with the new addition she and my brother-in-law have given our family.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the message of “you can do anything and be anyone” will be passed along to my little nephew.  This Martina McBride song always reminds me of the sense of self my Mom inspired in me. I hope you love it…

And, to share my gratitude for you Mothers out there; the love you instill, the patience you exhibit, and the forgiveness that you endlessly give… I want to give something back. Go pick up a FREE copy of Four One Night on Mother’s Day. Consider it my gift to you, with love and respect for everything you do, tirelessly, day in, day out.

  

Spring Giveaway and Vacation Talk #lvlspringgiveaway

Spring is here and it’s time for a big giveaway from Laughing Vixen Lounge. 11 shops have come together to create one amazing Prize Pack ($280+) full of Jewelry, Perfume, Clothing, Vintage and much more! Many of the shops offer items perfect for any book lover along with lots of other unique, handcrafted and custom designs.

The Fabulous Spring Giveaway is open worldwide. 1 winner will win the Prize Pack. You can enter via the Rafflecopter below. Please visit the Laughing Vixen Lounge Blog and the Main Giveaway Post HERE to see the full prize list, participating shops and daily features during the giveaway.

Since Summer is right around the corner the giveaway theme is Vacation Memories. Each of our participating shops, and many of our blog sponsors, will be sharing some of their favorite vacation photos with you.

At A Cowboys Game

At A Cowboys Game

Snorkeling in the Bahamas...

Snorkeling in the Bahamas…

Hubby & me at Trump Tower in Chicago

Hubby & me at Trump Tower in Chicago

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Fabulous vacation at the Atlantis with hubby.

 

Giveaway runs May 4th – 18th. Laughing Vixen Lounge is responsible for all giveaway details. See full details HERE.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Naming His Mate, an #LGBTRomance Novelette

Mmmm! Those who know me well know I can’t resist a good M/M storyline (especially with the added heat factor of shifters)… So, of course, I joined in the opportunity to pimp a book. There’s also a contest to participate in, so read all the way through to qualify as a win!
Naming His Mate

Book Info

Naming His Mate
Black Hills Wolves #17
Decadent Publishing
GBLT Paranormal/Erotic Romance
Release Date: May 1, 2015
Length: 64 pg.

Book Blurb

Small-town sheriff, Mike Hadley, would love to experience a headache-free day for once in his life. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. While investigating a rash of disappearances and dealing with his ornery lover, he’s thrown into a whole new world he never imagined existed.

Damien Marks has finally found a place to call home in Los Lobos, South Dakota, with the Black Hills Pack. He also stumbles across something he never thought he would—his mate. Falling hard, he decides he needs to come clean and tell the truth. But will his sexy lover accept what he is?

Embroiled in a potentially dangerous situation, both men have to decide where their loyalties lie—with duty or love?

Excerpt

Mike Hadley adjusted his gun holstered on the belt at his waist and tugged his jacket over the weapon, concealing it from clear view. There wasn’t any doubt he’d incite a riot if he walked inside with his piece visible.

Coming here, to this place in the middle of nowhere, shouldn’t have troubled him. He’d stepped into shittier, more unstable situations than this hole-in-the-wall bar, but damn if a thread of apprehension didn’t prickle the length of his spine as he stood outside of the entrance. One small detail kept him from strolling into the establishment like he owned the place, and he sincerely hoped that minor detail stayed home tonight.

He rolled his neck from side to side in a bid to loosen the tension in his shoulders. With an air of confidence he didn’t quite feel, he pulled open the heavy steel door and strode inside the Den.

Thirty seconds was all it took for activity to grind to a screeching halt. The drawl of a country ballad playing on the music box in the far corner thumped through the stifling air. Weighted stare after weighted stare met his gaze head on as he scanned the bar’s occupants. Their open hostility battered at his senses.

He wasn’t welcome. That much was apparent, but he would deal with it. Despite a bar full of unfriendly locals, the absence of one in particular shaved off a degree of his unease.

Of course, his anxiety hardly mattered. As sheriff of the small town of Collins, South Dakota, it was his job to investigate a rash of disappearances over the last several weeks. Unfortunately, the trail had led him to the neighboring, inhospitable town and people of Los Lobos.

Buy the Book

Amazon | Kobo | iTunes | Goodreads

About the Author

Melissa Limoges lives along the Gulf Coast with her OCD cat, Mr. Tibbs. Tax assessor by day, romance writer by night, she enjoys anything coffee related, traveling, and reading happily ever afters.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Giveaway

There’s a tour-wide giveaway (US only) going that includes a $25.00 Starbucks gift card, Naming His Mate Necklace, Ahava Weekender gift set, and a mini nail file set. :)

Click the below link to WIN!

Z is for Zamboni

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What is the first word you think of when you hear Zamboni?

Hockey, of course!

Well, okay. I guess it’s vaguely possible that you think figure skating.

But not moi. 

For me it’s hockey. The drop of the puck. The sound of the pipe organ filtering music into the stadium to add to the suspense of the game. The swish of skates as they glide across the freshly resurfaced ice (thanks, zamboni). Heck, it’s the thwacking sound of sticks as they clash against each other in battle!

Yep! No question about it. It’s all about hockey for me.

Specifically, I’m all about the Chelsea Dagger & my Chicago Blackhawks!

Why bring this up now? It’s my Z word & it’s the playoffs, baby! 

Which team are you cheering for?

Y is to Yield or Submit

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Why is submission often seen as a trait of the weak?

How hard is it really to act tough; to take what you want or hide how you really feel behind the veneer of civilization and expectation? It’s not really that hard to play the part when a role has been written with you in mind, practically since conception. Telling you how you should feel, think, or act.

Yielding your will to someone else is often counter to everything you’re told you should want or need. Voluntarily giving up your power and bending to the desires of your partner for shared satisfaction and trusting that your lover will not only take care of you, but push your boundaries to bring you incredible pleasure.

To be willing to yield, you must be able to trust. Your partner. Your instincts. Your judgment. And your ability to recognize when to say no…or, in the world of Dominance and submission, to safeword.

You have to believe that your safeword will not only be acknowledged, but respected. That your partner has your best interests in mind. That they are watching you closely enough to pick up on your unspoken (and sometimes unrealized) triggers and kinks….and to know when to push or draw back.

To submit takes an incredibly strong person, comfortable in their knowledge of who and what he/she is. Letting down your walls and opening yourself up to all the possibilities and trusting your partner to be your strength and guide your journey…. Yeah, nothing at all weak in that.

That’s completely different than being a wimp or pushover. Because wimps don’t have the physical or emotional strength to stand on their own. They usually let others lead so that they can make excuses or blame others when things don’t go the way they wanted.

There is no greater gift a submissive could give a deserving Dominant than their willingness to cede their own power to their firm, controlling hand. No Dominant worth his/her salt would ever deliberately take that for granted, take advantage, or abuse that trust.