Thanks so much for having me today! I’m talking about my favorite short, perfect reads. Short stories are a tough sell for me because a lot of times, they feel rushed or incomplete. But there are a couple that really stuck with me long after I read them!
Nalini Singh is someone who I will buy anything she writes in her guild hunters world. Galen and Jessamy’s story ANGEL’S DANCE is just beautiful.
Another auto buy author is Ruthie Knox. She’s got a new novella out HOW TO MISBEHAVE and it’s one of my favorite stories I’ve read recently. I mean, seriously, Tony has arms and I’m a sucker for sexy arms. I’m not sure what it is but I notice a man’s hands and his forearms. Plus, I can totally relate to Amber (at least my younger self can). It’s funny and sexy all in one. A perfect read. I’ve read it three times already.
I pick up anything by Shawntelle Madison. Any author who can make me laugh out loud stays on my auto buy list. Her novella BITTEN BY DECEIT is outside of her world started in Coveted but it’s got her characteristic humor, pack dynamics and intrigue and sexy werewolves. Because I’m sorry, rough and rugged gets me any day of the week, lol! Plus, you can check out an excerpt of Shawntelle’s novella in the back of ANYTHING FOR YOU.
I’m giving away a digital copy of ANYTHING FOR YOU as well as Shane & Jen’s first story BECAUSE OF YOU to one lucky commenter!
From the author of Because of You comes an all new Coming Home short story.
Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison has spent a year recovering from his combat injuries. A year spent in the arms of the woman of his dreams. But loving Jen comes with a price: every time he touches her, he faces the uncertain fear that loving her might mean losing her forever.
Jen is a breast cancer survivor and with Shane, she’s found a man who loves her despite her scars. But her scars may be too much for their love to survive.
As their love grows, so does the risk to Jen’s life. And Shane must make the toughest decision any man can make to save the woman he loves.
You can buy ANYTHING FOR YOUat the following ebookstores
The links for iBooks & others should be live soon!
Below is the official excerpt!
Fort Hood, late 2008
“Jen is going to kill you. You know that, right?” Vic Carponti took a long pull off his ever-present Dr Pepper. “I think she has first dibs on your balls. You don’t have exclusive use over them any more.”
Sergeant First Class Shane Garrison glanced over at Carponti and fought the urge to use the physical therapy ropes to strangle the younger sergeant. No matter how much time they’d spent together training Army privates at Benning or blowing shit up downrange, Carponti still managed to push all the right buttons.
“Jen wants kids.”
“I know that,” Shane growled. He leaned down to stretch, barely suppressing a groan as the muscles in his thighs protested the daily pain his physical therapist insisted on. He’d have thought that six months after being blown up in Iraq, physical therapy would stop being a morning torture session. Guess not.
“Why are you so adamant about this?” Carponti held up his hand at Shane’s fierce look. “I’m an expert in amputations, not women and babies, okay?”
“She had breast cancer. A really aggressive version. If she gets pregnant and the cancer comes back, the choice comes down to her life or the baby’s life…and I don’t want to have to make that choice with her. I don’t want her to have to make that choice. Granted, it might all be fine. She might never get sick again, or the hormones from pregnancy might not do anything to her.” Shane walked over to the free weights. His legs protested each step, so his next words came out slowly, one with each step. “I can’t risk it. No matter how much I might want a kid with her, I’m not going to risk her life for some selfish need to feel my baby growing inside her.”
“I realize that,” Carponti said, “but why on earth are you looking at this without talking to her first?”
“I’m going to talk to her.” Shane sighed hard. “I just haven’t yet.” He didn’t want to admit he was afraid. Not to Carponti. He’d never hear the end of it.
“Did you ever think you’re overreacting?” Carponti asked, following him.
“No,” Shane snapped. “Because I’m not.”
“You just said there’s no rule that if a woman gets pregnant after cancer, she’s going to die.”
“Yeah, well, I’ve also talked to the brigade surgeon. There’s a higher risk of the cancer coming back for younger women like Jen who had aggressive cancers. There’s a higher risk that if she does get pregnant and the cancer comes back, it could come back even more aggressive.” Shane looked at Carponti seriously. “I want kids with her. I just don’t want to kill her.”
“So you’re going to get unmanned and tell her later?”
“This isn’t funny.”
“Vasectomies are always funny. Especially watching a big guy like you squirm over the fact.”
“It is my balls we’re talking about,” Shane snapped, grabbing the fifty-pound dumbbells. It was one of those times he’d rather not have Carponti chirping in his ear.
“If a vasectomy is such a big deal, then why do it?” Carponti placed the bottle in his prosthetic hand. “There’s other ways of preventing pregnancy, you know.”
“We’ve talked about all of those. She had a bad reaction to an IUD. Anything hormone-based is out. And condoms scare the shit out of me.”
“Did we have a bad experience with a condom?”
Shane groaned, wishing he hadn’t said anything. “When I was seventeen, I had a condom break on me. The girl and I spent the rest of the month terrified she was pregnant.” He glanced at Carponti. “So while I appreciate that you think me getting my balls clipped is amusing, this isn’t all that funny.”
“Maybe not, but watching you freak out about it certainly is.”
“You’re so good for morale.”
“You can bitch all you want, but I still don’t see why there aren’t other options.”
Why? Shane ground his teeth and counted as he curled the weights. He’d read the literature about Jen’s specific cancer. Everything he read created a little more fear that he could lose her. Shane did not do well with fear. If the only thing he could control in the equation was his sperm, he was doing that.
Sometimes, at night, when the nightmares came, it was no longer his soldiers who’d died in the war haunting his sleep. Sometimes, it was Jen, bleeding out in his arms. He didn’t tell her that. Every time he tried, the emotion got jammed up halfway between his throat and his mouth.
Jen wasn’t a random number in a study. She was his heart and soul, and while she was determined to live a normal life and not let the cancer define her, every time they made love, he was aware of the risk.
The worst part about it all? He wanted kids with her, too. But the risk was too great.
“Hello? Candyass who’s stressing about getting his balls chopped off? Why is a vasectomy the only option for you not to get her pregnant?”
Shane finished his set. “Because it’s the smart thing to do. Condoms break. Birth control fails.” Carponti was probably about to accuse him of writing country songs again. “This is the only one-hundred-percent sure option.”
“You could always be in a celibate marriage with her,” Carponti said dryly.
“Yeah, and then she bangs the FedEx guy when I’m in the field.”
Carponti snorted and coughed. “That’s just wrong.”
Shane dropped the weights, the muscles in his left arm screaming. He was nearly back to his previous strength in his upper body, but sometimes his bones liked to remind him that no, he was never going to be as good as he’d been before.
It frustrated him that there were more aches and pains now. More stiffness just getting out of bed in the morning. But he was determined to heal, so he could get back to leading soldiers.
Because that’s what he did.
Beside him, Carponti finished not choking on his drink. “You’re serious about this. You’re really going to let a doctor near your nutsack with a scalpel?”
“Will you just drop it? I shouldn’t have said anything to you, damn it.”
“What? I just want to be sure you’re making the best, most informed decision.” Carponti grinned. “You’re going to let me see the cut, right?”
Shane just shot him a baleful glare and Carponti held up both hands, the soda in one. Funny, Shane was used to the prosthetic now. It no longer caught his eye like it once had. Carponti was just…Carponti. The missing hand didn’t really matter.
“Hey, so have you heard what’s going on back at battalion?” Carponti asked.
Shane picked up his water bottle and flipped open the cap. “I haven’t been in to see Sarn’t Major in a while. I’ve got a meeting with him later today. Why?”
“There’s a ton of bad shit going on. Iaconelli got in a bunch of trouble up in Colorado on a mission.”
“That’s nothing new. Ike’s always in trouble.” Shane and Sergeant First Class Reza Iaconelli had never really gotten along, which was a shame, because Ike was a damn fine infantryman.
“Yeah, well, apparently there’s a whole bunch of crap going on down there. Maybe that’s why Sarn’t Major wants to see you. See how much longer before you’re back at work?”
“Maybe.” Sarn’t Major would no doubt fill him in when he saw him later. Shane wanted to get back to work. Badly. But if Ike was screwing up again, Shane damn sure didn’t want to get back just to clean up after him.
Carponti grinned. “So, back to the more pressing matters, are you going to gift wrap your nuts and put a little bow on them and say, ‘Here baby, for Valentine’s Day, I’ve sacrificed my manhood’?”
Shane shook his head and tried not to laugh. “There’s something the matter with you. You know that, right?”
“Sure. My traumatic brain injury is acting up again.” Carponti turned toward the door as it opened. “Speaking of nuts, here’s my wife. I need to get mine out of her purse.”
Shane turned to see Nicole Carponti walking onto the physical therapy floor, looking polished and perfect. No one ever looked at her and thought she was a cop. It made her a perfect investigator.
It also made everyone wonder what the hell she was doing with a scruffy, red-headed sergeant like Vic Carponti, but hey, she’d stuck with him after he’d gotten blown up. And worse, through his incessant bad tricks with his prosthetic. Shane watched as Carponti kissed his wife on the cheek, then slung his good arm around her shoulders as they walked out. Shane was reasonably certain Carponti tried to pinch Nicole’s ass with his prosthetic.
Life was never dull around Carponti, that was for damn sure.
Shane finished his therapy in blessed silence and headed to the locker room to change back into his duty uniform. He took a deep breath, running his hand over his jaw. Last week, Jen had slipped her body over his, her slick heat caressing his bare erection, and Shane had almost died from the pleasure of skin on skin. No barriers. He didn’t know which one of them wanted it more—the desire painting her features had been beautiful. And she’d gotten bolder since then, driving him toward a little death each time he touched her. No matter how much he was tempted to make love to her without a goddamned condom, he would not risk her life for a few moments of pleasure.
He loved Jen. More than life itself. The vasectomy was a very real discussion he was going to have with her very soon.
Jessica Scott is a career army officer, mother of two daughters, three cats and three dogs, wife to a career NCO and wrangler of all things stuffed and fluffy. She is a terrible cook and even worse housekeeper, but she’s a pretty good shot with her assigned weapon and someone liked some of the stuff she wrote. Somehow, her children are pretty well adjusted and her husband still loves her, despite burned water and a messy house.
Oprah has called her. True story.
Her debut novel BECAUSE OF YOU launched Loveswept, the first Random House digital imprint.
She’s written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View Regarding War, and IAVA. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of OIF/New Dawn and is currently a company commander stationed at Fort Hood.
Most recently, she’s been featured as one of Esquire Magazine’s Americans of the Year for 2012.
Connect with Jessica at