David’s Dilemma

 

He’d never been much of a planning type. For one thing, plans pretty much had a habit of blowing up in his face. He’d planned plenty of fabulous mansions he’d build with his music wealth. A ranch in Montana. A Lear jet he’d have painted red to advertise the band’s name. Plenty of parties with the best of the best chumming up to him, J.J., and the rest. Plenty of bullshit ideas that just got farther away the more he planned them.

Like the songs he’d planned. Somewhere back in L.A., probably burned to an ash by now, was the dog-eared list he kept on a yellow legal pad. Song ideas he’d get to as soon as he had time. As soon as the mood struck him. Phrases, chord progressions. The paean to his sister he never could write. Memories of his grandparents.

His love of good whiskey—well, that had made it into a few songs. But never quite enough, or clearly stated enough, to encapsulate the intense pleasure that came with the warm creep of intoxication while more of the fragrant amber fluid gently swirled in his glass. He had a clear memory of the grip of his hand around that small sturdy glass. The sweet aromatic smell filled his nose. His mouth watered.

If he was going to fucking spend the last of his days in this desert, why the fuck couldn’t he at least enjoy drinking?

~~~

This is an excerpt from my latest novel, Refuge in His Arms. The story follows Mackenzie Kilpatrick and David Evans, two strangers caught up in two simultaneous natural disasters. As they escape from Los Angeles in the midst of a massive earthquake, they quickly discover another more devastating event will impact their future for days or even years to come. Making things worse, each of them struggles with personal issues as well as the developing love-hate relationship between them.

In this story, David has to face down his alcoholism. Writing about addiction isn’t something I’ve done before, although I’ve seen addiction in real life more times than I’d like to admit. It’s a horrible illness, and I admit that I still have a hard time seeing it as such. My tendency is to believe that addictive behavior is a choice someone makes, even if it’s a choice not to be responsible for what he/she does.

Whatever my personal take on addiction, the character of David has traveled far down the road in his struggle with alcohol. In the story, he’s faced with a terrible choice, whether to fight for the woman he thought he’d never love or to give in to his deep thirst for a drink.

All of us, at one time or another or even multiple times, want nothing more than to escape from the pain and difficulty we face. Intoxication is one way to make that escape. Inevitably, the intoxication wears off and whatever pain or difficulty we hoped to escape from is still there, sometimes even worse than before. It’s a human dilemma that will never be erased from our common experience, either as an addict ourselves, or as an enabler, or as a grieving bystander.

I don’t delve too deeply into the topic of addiction. That’s not the purpose of the story. But I do hope that I’ve created a character in David who portrays the struggle so many sensitive and creative people experience in facing the acute pain of life.

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Now through November 14, Refuge in His Arms will sell for only 99¢ on pre-order status. On November 15, the release date, the price on this full length (no cliffhangers) contemporary romance novel will go to its regular price of $3.99.

Even in her sleep, Mackenzie Kilpatrick remembers this is a dream she has dreamed before. She snugs her forehead against Sid’s neck and inhales his familiar scent. His strong arms clasp tightly around her, pressing his heartbeat through the thin cotton t-shirt. She strokes the back of his neck as her face nestles in the curve of his shoulder.

The dream shifts and changes. Sid’s husky voice comes from a distance. “Get out of L.A., Mac. Get out now.”

“Sid?” She strains with her dream-shout. “Sid!”

He stands in front of her, his close-cropped hair caught under his camo hat, his tanned forearms framed against his dusty uniform. Behind him, bare gray mountains rise high along the horizon. The armored Hummer sits several yards away bristling with weapons and antennae. Other troops duck as gunfire explodes around them. Sid stands there unflinching like he always does, staring at her from the shadow of his hat brim.

She knows he is dead.

Then she’s awake, gasping, tears on her face, her throat tight in the contortion of dream screaming.  She throws back the covers and sits up in the dark room. The dream has never been like this. She draws a shaky breath. The digital clock readout says 5:40 a.m.

Mackenzie’s day gets worse from there. Within the hour, her parents call from Oklahoma, warning that overnight, the sun has ejected a massive solar flare that’s hitting Earth. Her phone stops working mid-call. The television sputters and goes to static. With Sid’s dream warning and her parents’ plea for her to come home, she throws things into her car, loads up her dog Captain, and starts out of the drive.

She’s halfway out of the garage when the ground shifts. Walls tumble, cracks open in the roadway, and she barely makes it to the other side of the freeway when a traffic jam from hell stops her. She sees a way out—if she can maneuver down the sidewalk. Then she’s stuck. And there’s this guy waving his arms, shouting.

This guy…David Evans…not a man she would ever want to know. But there he is in all his devastating, overpowering presence leaning in her passenger side window telling her what to do and here she is stuck between a fence and a light pole, and well, it could actually be the end of the world.

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