June 30th marked the release date for my second Brava release, The Redemption of Micah. This is the second in a three book series I’ve written and by far, the most difficult to write.
Why, you may ask? Because redeeming Micah was a messy business. It is truly an emotionally gut-wrenching story with twists and turns that even I didn’t expect. LOL. As writers, the characters can take our hands and lead us where we weren’t sure we needed to go, yet we end up there anyway.
Micah is probably my most damaged hero to date. He’s not only physically scarred, with a nasty saber wound on his face that healed up rather awkwardly, but completely emotionally wretched as well. He’s a man who has seen into the pits of hell and cannot find his way back to the light around him.
I have a knack for finding the tortured characters and bringing them together. Maybe because most of us are damaged in one way or another, and finding happiness in some way is an ultimate goal for all.
What do you all think about damaged heroes or heroines? I’m a firm believer in redemption of the personal kind and think that we all have it within to forgive ourselves.
The Redemption of Micah is now available from Brava. Read on for the blurb and an excerpt!
ONCE UPON A TIME, THEY LOVED EACH OTHER
Nothing about the room that Eppie awakens in feels like home—not the furnishings, the ill-fitting clothes, or the Colorado sunlight streaming in through the windows. And certainly not the stranger with long dark hair and silver eyes who claims to have been waiting for her for three long years.
Micah Spalding has spent each day hoping that Eppie would open her eyes and return to him. Yet the Eppie he loved was spirited and outspoken—utterly different to this reserved, aloof woman. Since her injury, Eppie has no memory of Micah or their daughter, or of a passion that was powerful enough to defy every convention. And though his scent and touch trigger something deep within her, Eppie can’t bring herself to believe in him.
Once, when war between his countrymen had almost broken him, Eppie brought Micah back to life. Now he must find a way to reach through the distance between them and remind her of everything they once shared, and prove that he has belief enough for both of them…
Micah held up one hand and Eppie waited for him to catch his breath. In a few moments, he blew out a breath and met her gaze.
“I’ve spent the last few years hoping I’d see you open your eyes again, and when you did, I reminded myself be happy even if you didn’t remember me. Then when you came into my arms, God I couldn’t believe how amazing it was. I could only pray you would be there again. And you were.” His smile was so bright it made her smile in return. “I waited so long to tell you I love you, I can hardly believe it’s finally now.”
Eppie’s heart leapt with joy. “It’s now, with the help of some guardian angels looking out for us.”
He rubbed a hand down his face. “I feel like I’m dreaming, darlin’, and I hope like hell I’m not going to wake up soon.” What sounded like a sob burse from his throat. “Irony is something I never expected to come full circle. I don’t deserve this, but that doesn’t mean I won’t grab onto it with both hands.”
Eppie slid down to the floor and knelt beside him, more than concerned about Micah. “Everyone deserves loves, a chance at happiness.”
His laugh sent a chill up her spine and a coil of dread settled in her belly. “I am the last person on earth who deserves love or happiness. I’ve done so many things to put my ass straight in hell, I deserve nothing but misery and eternal damnation.”
The most frightening thing about his speech was she could see in his eyes that he meant every word of it. Micah firmly believed he was not only damned, but there was no force that could change his fate. Eppie vowed to prove him wrong, come hell or high water. She almost laughed at the image, considering it was the high water that had brought them to the cabin in the first place.
“Tell me,” she commanded softly.
“I can’t. You see if I let them out, I might not get them back in.” Ancient dark shadows lurked behind his gaze, so sharp and deadly, Eppie wanted to move away.
But she didn’t. Instead she took his cold hands in hers and settled at his side.
“Tell me.” This time she was more forceful, determined to ferret out what haunted the man she had come to love.
He blew out a long sigh. “I wouldn’t know where to begin.”
“Start where you grew up. If you told me any stories, I’ve forgotten them.” She smiled. “I’m like a sieve that way.”
Her silly joke made the corner of his mouth kick up. “I grew up in Virginia on a big tobacco plantation. My grandfather had been a bastard who knew how to make money on the backs of others, and I gladly sat up there with him, eating, drinking and whoring from the time I was fourteen.”
She wanted to say something about a fourteen year old whoring, but kept quiet, silently urging him to continue.
“I had four good friends from similar backgrounds and we spent our time doing whatever we felt like. I never worked a day in my life those wonder years, never had to even lift a finger to dress myself.” He shook his head. “Shallow, empty-headed son of a bitch. If you had known me back then, you would have hated me.”
The self-hate was evident in everything from his posture to his tone, but Eppie didn’t succumb to it. She squeezed his hand, giving him the encouragement of her love.
“When the war began, I was just twenty-one, so stupid and foolish, I assumed I’d be given a command and be home within a month, perhaps two. It gave us an excuse to go to Maryland find new whores to play with.” He clenched her hands so hard, the bones smashed up against each other. “I didn’t know, you see, how wrong I was about everything, about life and how much I deserved. I was put in an infantry unit beside gap-toothed morons who likely were born from years of careful inbreeding.”
In that moment, Eppie heard the spoiled Virginia plantation owner, the man who Micah hated, but who also apparently lurked beneath the surface of the twisted soul he’d become.
“I was muddy, cold, tired and miserable every second of every day. I complained mercilessly until the captain threatened to hang me if I didn’t shut up. He whipped me in front of the squad, in front of the regiment’s major. My friends turned their backs and pretended not to know me.” His body had heated as he spoke, and Eppie felt perspiration gathering on his skin. “From then on I was a ruthless soldier, killing without thought or remorse, anything to release the rage and frustration at where I was. My bloodletting caught the attention of a lieutenant in the regiment and he promoted me to sergeant and gave me my own squad to command.” His smile set off the warning bells in her head to run.
Eppie stayed put and swallowed the fear. This was who Micah was, and she had to love all of him, even his secrets.
“My squad became known as the Red Grays because of all the kills we claimed during raids and battles. I remember one boy who was so afraid he shit his pants right before he killed his first man. From then on, he had the same blood lust I did. That boy died a week before the war ended by his own hand.” He looked up into Eppie’s eyes and the ghosts of the war were clearly writhing in his memories. “I was left without a squad, without a friend, or even a goddamn pair of shoes. After four years of killing, I didn’t remember much else. They sent me home and when I got there”—he swallowed so hard she heard the gulp—“I wanted to go back to the war.”