A Susan Stoker Special Forces Kindle World Novella
Release date: July 21, 2016
BUY LINK http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01IS5QQ7O
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31120880-marking-mariah
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.
Terry sat on his bike for a few minutes, trying to get his bearings, both mentally and physically. It’d been hours since he’d roared out of the trailer park in Bumfuck, Arkansas, leaving behind the woman whose name he never actually learned and her kid, and three hundred twenty of his own hard-earned bucks.
That left him with the awe-inspiring sum of exactly three thousand four hundred and two dollars.
And seventy-five cents.
Fuck it, he thought as he turned the bike North and East, pointed toward Tennessee. Soon enough he’d cross over the border of his home state.
The Bluegrass State.
God’s Country, as his parents used to say to him and his brother as they wandered home from one or another of their endless soccer tournament trips.
He’d managed to ignore his fellow Operators the past few days. They were all back in Texas, where he should be right now. It pissed him off too much to even ponder that, so he’d turned off his phone that day he’d left the money behind for the woman and her hung-y child.
He’d also left behind the booze he’d found—the amber liquor he’d been more or less floating on since departing Fort Hood. Figuring he had the discipline to do so on his own, he’d simply emptied the bottles of their formerly precious contents into the woman’s toilet and flushed it twice for good measure.
He’d give every penny of his three grand and some to have just one of those bottles back right now. He was nauseous, sweaty and shaking, his vision kept blurring on him but he kept moving forward.
Fuck the Army and Delta Force.
Fuck his life and the god damned concussion those towel-headed shit cakes had bestowed on him that night in the dark desert.
Fuck all of it.
He wanted to go home. He needed to see his father, to visit his mother’s grave, wanted to cruise his old stomping grounds, look up some buddies—he knew all the Loves were still around, even that wild-ass Dominic.
That would fix everything.
He roared into a truck stop once he acknowledged that he was legitimately hungry for the first time in weeks. The booze had been a great diet pill, but for all those other pesky side effects. As he sat with the unappealing plate of meatloaf and potatoes and greens in front of him, he hauled out his phone and powered it up.
That was a mistake.
The device 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.
“Oh, hey there….and fuck you, Trigger. What the god damn 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 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. So you can go 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, Trigger. I don’t like it.”
I don’t give a shit what you don’t like, Terry thought but would never, ever say to his former commanding officer.
“Right,” he said instead. “Aye aye.”
“Don’t use pussy sailor talk with me,” Ghost growled.
Terry 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 with my baby sitters every hour.”
“How’s your head,” Ghost asked, giving him a pass on the lame, teenager-ish sarcasm.
“Fine,” he said, wincing as a spike of now-familiar pain pierced his left eyeball and lodged in his brain, settling in for a nice long session.
Marking Mariah is tied to Liz’s Amazon Best Selling series: The Love Brothers
Safe Love (novella)
Terry left his small town to escape his pain, but after an injury while serving in the military, he goes home again in need of a job.
Mariah had her shot at singing stardom but leaves the bright lights to care for her young son. In need of a job, she heads to the school run by one of the Love Brothers, who gives her a job as a music teacher.
When Terry and Mariah come together, they find peace...from the pain in his head and the doubts in her soul.
Ms. Crowe weaves a tale of passion, friendship and romance where the characters come alive to the reader. I enjoyed getting to reconnect with my friends from The Love Brothers' series as well as meet new characters from Susan Stoker's Special Forces books. Yet it was the characters themselves with tugged at my heart.
I've been in Mariah's shoes, dealing with the cutting remarks and disappointment of a parent. Sometimes those wounds take a long time to heal. And as a teacher, I could connect with Mariah's sense of overwhelming pressure about curriculum and being the best.
This story is a must read for fans of exciting action, killer characters and sizzling passion!
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 subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” 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.
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Musings from Michigan