In one day your life can go from awesome to total shit and for me it’s going to change forever. Who am I? My name is PFC Jameson Carter, and I am a United States Marine, or I was until a bomb detonated and took half of me with it. The only thing that kept me alive was the woman I had waiting back for me at home.
How do you go from being a complete person to being half of something? For me, I have help, but how can I be anything more than half of what I used to be? Then when the one person you count on, the person you lived for leaves you how do you react?
For Samantha Blalock life is easy, she helps repair people like me, the people who lose limbs. Something isn’t the same though, she’s changed. See I’ve known Samantha for years. She’s hiding something. Can we help each other through these trying times in our lives? Or does the fact remain that we are both irreparable?
An honorable discharge is what I got after having my legs blown apart and four of my best friends stripped from me by Al-Qaida. I have been through three extensive surgeries, and unfortunately by the end of them, I have lost both of my legs.
I look over and smile as I notice Mary-Beth laying on the couch of my hospital room, her brown hair covering her beautiful face. I laugh softly as I see the drool running down her chin onto her pillow from her plump lips. Three years she waited for me after high school and I thank God every day because, let me be honest, I would have given up a long fucking time ago if it weren’t for her. She stirs and sits up and wipes the drool from her face and catches my eye. Standing from her make shift bed she gets up and comes to stand before me.
“Did you sleep well?” she asks. Looking into those beautiful emerald green eyes I know she knows I had the dream again, so I will not lie to her; she sees through them anyway.
“Eh, I had a rough night but it will be fine. I’m just ready to get the hell out of this place.” I smile and lean into her hand when she places it on my cheek, but a feeling of dread washes over me as I look at the wheelchair I have been given.
I hate that fucking thing. I am a man and I shouldn’t have to rely on anything to help me get around. Well, except for my midnight blue 2012 Mustang GT waiting at home for me. I thought I had a reason to hate the men that performed those acts of terrorism after 9/11, but after February 2013 my hate has changed. If I could I would kill them all with my bare hands.
“Are you ready to get out of here? I know a little girl who is going to be so excited to see you again.” Mary-Beth smiles and when I shrug she lets out a sigh. “Jameson, I know you’re dealing with a lot of loss baby, but you have to remember, you’re here and you survived. You cannot leave; I need you here with me.” She lets out a little sigh and looks me in the eye before she speaks again.
“I think God kept you alive for me. He knew if he took you away I would never be able to breathe again. After losing Mom and Leila, I could never imagine losing you. You’re the greatest part of me. Even if you feel you are not whole, you are. You’re alive and you’re breathing. That’s got to be worth something.” A tear runs down her cheek as she looks at me and my breathing hitches. I am being selfish. I am alive while four of my brothers were laid to rest. Their families have that burden to bear, while I just have to carry the thought of being half of what I once was.
“You’re right Mary-Beth. I am glad to still be breathing but it doesn’t mean it’s going to get easier. How am I supposed to go on knowing it should have been me? It could have been me.” I look down at the sheets and twist my hands into them so I don’t have to look into her face. I know what’s in her eyes; pity mixed with agony and I want neither of those emotions when I look at her.
She huffs and walks over to her bag and then into the bathroom, slamming the door shut. I wait until I hear the water running and lift my blanket slowly to look at the bandages on my now non-existent legs. I let the air leave my lungs in a loud groan, thinking of what the future holds.
I let out a loud groan as the two nurses’ help me from the bed to the wheelchair. “Man, you’re going to be walking in no time with the physical therapist you got. Blalock is the best in the profession around here,” Kurt says as he wheels me down to the front of the hospital.
Mary-Beth is standing beside her red Honda Accord and smiling. “You finally get to come home.” I laugh softly and reach my hands into the car. I put one hand on the console and one on the dashboard just like they taught me to do in therapy in the hospital. Kurt holds the wheelchair as I pull myself into the seat. I guess that’s what I get for making fun of Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump. Now I’m the real life version of him.
“Thanks for everything Kurt,” I say and salute him before he shuts the door. Mary-Beth slides into the car and her shorts ride up her already exposed thighs. “Baby, you’re trying to kill me,” I say with a grin and she laughs.
“No, I am trying to keep you alive, thank you,” she replies and starts driving to the house. We pull up to the house, which is a simple townhouse covered in brick along with four others in the complex. There is a white picket fence for Maggie, my golden Labrador, in the back. Man how I have missed her! Mary-Beth gets the wheelchair out of the trunk and brings it over to my door.
“Thanks,” I grunt out as I position my hands to move myself from the car to the chair. I will be so glad when I don’t have to worry about relying on someone else to help me.
Mary-Beth stops at the front door and walks around me. “Wait right here Jameson. I’m gonna go put Maggie in the back yard so she doesn’t jump all over you before you can get situated.” She starts to walk in but I stop her.
“I want to see Maggie now, please.” I smile and push my chair into the threshold and laugh when Maggie jumps into my lap like she weighs all of ten pounds. We wrestle a bit and she jumps around licking all over my face. Well at least one of my girls was excited to see me. It wasn’t that Mary-Beth wasn’t excited; I was torn and mangled when she first saw me. I guess that deserves a pass for not being enthusiastic.
“She’s really been missing you the last few years, but a lot more since you came back for a week before your deployment. She did a lot of moping. I suppose we owe Tanner, the kid next door, for spending time with her.. He likes to play ball with Maggie. I think the kids at school bully him and she seems to be therapeutic for him.” Mary-Beth smiles and pushes me into the living room and walks back into the kitchen.
Maggie jumps down and starts pawing at me to rub her head, so I rub the top of her head and scratch her ear like I did when she was a puppy. I can’t believe how big Maggie is getting. She has grown up into a big golden Labrador and she has one ear that flops and one that sticks up in a funny way. Her long hair is all over the house, but it’s totally worth it. It’s amazing how a dog will never forget a person who cared for it. Well I’m sure they won’t forget the person who abuses them either.
“Here baby.” I turn to see a beer sitting in front of my face. Thank the good Lord for this woman, she knows me so well. I haven’t had a drink in six very long months. I take a sip and moan my approval.
“I was gonna see if you wanted to go to Hooter’s tonight. Mason and Luke wanted to see you, but if you’re not up for it we can stay in and I’ll order some pizza.” She smiles and I meet her green eyes.
“I think I better wait a few more days before I try to do the social thing. Hooters isn’t really the place for me to go, not like this.” I point to the chair and Mary-Beth’s smile disappears.
“And why not?” Uh oh, bitchy woman is out again. “Mary-Beth, I’m in a damn wheel chair and it’s always so packed in there. I wouldn’t be able to get around,” I say and she puts her hand on her hip.
“Jameson, they have to be able to accommodate you. It’s against the law not to.” Here goes momma bear Mary-Beth. It’s something I have always loved about her and she never lets people get picked on. She has tried to be superwoman to everyone when we were younger. Well, except to Luke’s sister Sam. It was like they had a competition or something. Speaking of Sam, I need to check on her. I haven’t spoken to her since the night I left for Afghanistan.
“You’re right Mary-Beth, but I’d rather not go for a few more weeks please.” I pet Maggie’s head again and then turn on the flat screen to watch some LSU football. Don’t judge me. Les Miles puts on a nail biter and it’s not always easy to see my Tigers play where I’ve been.
“Okay, I’ll just go order us some pizza then.” With that she walks out of the room, and for once I actually feel like a man again. Pissed off woman? Check. Dog by my side? Check. Beer in my hand? Check. Step one on my road to normalcy is complete.
I sit on the couch with Mary-Beth and Maggie on both sides of me. Funny how they can come and go as they want, but I have to move from one seated place to another. I eat my pizza and groan; hospital food sucks compared to this. I grab Mary-Beth’s hand and drink a sip of my beer. She squeezes my hand and lays her head down in my lap as I watch the game. “It’s nice to have you back Jameson.” She sighs and I smile.
“It’s good to be back. I have missed being all domesticated.” I let out a light chuckle and she slaps my thigh.
“Not funny. I know you feel like you’re not enough anymore, but baby you’ll always be enough for me.” She locks our fingers and turns her head to look up at me.
“I know Mary-Beth. It’s just hard to explain.” I put the beer down and run my fingers through her hair. I watch as she closes her almond shaped green eyes. This is my Mary-Beth; the one I took to the field behind old man Rayborn’s barn in town. She’s the reason why I spent hours with Luke catching fireflies in mason jars. I wanted to light up the blanket where Mary-Beth and I made love the first time. I remember this look of bliss on her face after that, and now I remember why I survived that bomb. She needed me, and dammit I was going to be everything she needed. Even if I was only half of the man I used to be.
Review By Denise
Samantha being the kind of friend she is though is right there for him but for one little thing is off with her and he means to find out. Funny thing is they both think they are no longer whole and can not be that way again but this author with her ability will change their tune pdq. She accomplishes this all like in real time that you are right there with them through it all. The building of a relationship between these two was in itself worth the read that love can enable any obstacle to be if the two involved really love each other and do it together not apart. To often today when the going gets tough in a relationship one or both walk away to easily like disposable relationships. This story can give hope for better things if love and care are part of the mix. Samantha herself is one amazing woman with what life has delivered her also with the heart warming way love worked for her. The burdens they both carry will be laid by the wayside little by little with you right there to see. So this novel has it all love, humor, sadness ,anger and tears. I so enjoyed seeing how they were after all whole when they are with each other. When I reached the end I was then pleasantly surprised that only a few hours had past but seemed longer since I was in so deep with Jameson and Samantha’s story with also then remembering too this was her debut novel but hey if I did not know any better would say she was pulling my leg because this is right up there in style and talent with Robin Carr and others of her caliber. Received an arc for a honest review. I give this 5 books.
About the Author
Amanda Lanclos is from a small town right outside of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Most of the time you will find her with her nose in a book, or blogging on her blog. She is an avid reader, and never expected to write a book. One day she was inspired and her first novel was written. She has been married to her amazing husband for three years. Together they have a beautiful daughter, and two very bad fur-babies. During College Football season you can find her screaming for her Tigers.