Series: Southern Charm
Paperback: 222 pages
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing (February 18, 2015)
Amazon: When in Bloom (Southern Charm 4)
Will the personal challenges of a former Army doctor and a brilliant florist get in the way of a chance at life and love?
Fighting type one diabetes since childhood, Jude Sebastian runs to prove he can live a normal life, until epileptic seizures begin to change his life. Even with Dawson, his medical alert Golden Labrador, at his side, Jude finds daily life difficult. He owns the floral shop Flowers in the Breeze, and designs everything from simple bouquets to elaborate themes for weddings and celebrations.
At the Shore Breeze Clinic, Jude comes across a man clearly suffering with a PTSD episode. A new arrival in the small town, Doctor Elliott Sheffield, a retired Army Ranger doctor, is looking for a second chance after what he saw in the Middle Eastern deserts.
Wanting a normal relationship, Jude tries to deny his disorder, but something is happening. He can’t regulate his sugars and his disorder worsens. When he returns to the clinic, Dawson alerts Jude to an oncoming seizure.
Cursing under his breath as the sky turned orange with another incoming sandstorm, Dr. Elliott Sheffield hated the situation. Though they’d tried to tie down the damn tent, the ferocious wind tugged the straps, causing openings everywhere to expose the critical care unit to the elements. Why had he ever agreed to come to this desert hell in the Middle East?
After struggling through several storms like this one, he knew the clouds could turn the sky black for at least seven hours. Pushing out the noises of men calling out in pain and fearing for their lives, he concentrated to save the man on the operating table. His hands and forearms were covered in blood as he searched for the damned bleeder in the man’s belly.
“Come on… Come on… Where the fuck are you?”
As the winds howled, Elliott felt the grit of the fine layer of sand digging underneath the scrubs and within any openings of his uniform. Along with the sweat dripping down his nape, the sand mixed with the moisture and aggravated him. Damn stuff could get through any crack and crevice of tent, Humvee or building. This place sucked when it came to performing delicate surgery, but he didn’t have a choice. The soldiers were here. He needed to be nearby to care for them.
“Shit… Got it,” Elliott said and made the necessary stitches to close the nasty bleeder. He scrambled to put the soldier’s innards back in place, flushed everything with saline to cleanse, and stapled the exterior wound. “Cover him up tight. We’ll come back and make it nicer.” He stepped back to let the other physician and nurse finish. He peeled off and tossed the gloves. Removing the sweat-soaked mask, he left the curtained-off operating theater and went back to the main infirmary.
When the blasted Taliban insurgents had overrun the garrison stationed at the American base, Elliott had transferred with most of the surgical team to the Canadian–British combat hospital at the Kandahar airfield.
It wasn’t any better here.
Elliott shoved a weary hand through his hair. He scratched at the heavy bearded growth. Since his boots had hit the sand, he’d adapted to the crazy, never-ending situations, difficult in the best of conditions, but aggravated in the worse. He’d figured out ways to suture and clean some of the most devastating wounds he’d ever seen in his career. He could never get around the constant issue of infection from the damn sand.
The thump-thump-thump of helicopter blades surrounded them. Everyone within the base knew the meaning behind those blades. It was never good.
“We have incoming patients,” someone called out.
“They’re not friendlies! Take cover!” another soldier shouted as bullets flew through the sand and darkness.
Crouching, riveted as soldiers rushed around, Elliott thought about the patients. He knew their lives were at the most risk, unable to defend themselves. When dark figures invaded the tent, Elliott covered a nearby patient. Several loud blasts blew through the base as bombs went off in rapid succession. He called out when searing heat scored through his shoulder.
Blood and gore rose in front of his mind. Within seconds, all the time it had taken to save these patients was destroyed.
Elliott blinked. He tasted the fine grit of the sand.
“Dr. Sheffield? Are you okay?”
When fingers touched his wounded shoulder, Elliott screamed and pushed back until he hit something hard then plopped his ass on the ground. The intensity knocked Elliott out of the intrusive flashback from his five years spent in Kandahar. He was home in the States. Having left Afghanistan and his ten year military career, he had now lived and worked in Florida for the last nine months.
He lowered himself until his scrub-covered ass hit the floor. He pressed his hands flat on the cool tile of the emergency room to ground himself in reality. He looked around, goggled as other staff fought to save a patient with a vicious belly wound. Two others moved toward him. He held up a hand and hyper focused on the blood-covered blue latex.
“Are you with us, Elliott? Can you rise?” another doctor said in a calming tone.
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m here.”
“Where were you?”
“Do you know what set you off?”
“Insurgents overran the base and hit the clinic and caused so much destruction among the patients and created more. It was the appearance of the wound. I took care of so many of them. Most were ruined by the fucking sand.” Elliott knocked his head against the wall.
“Easy. Can you stand? I’ll get you back to the lounge.”
“I’m okay, Harry, take care of the patient.” Elliott pushed himself to his feet and stripped the gloves from his hand. He wobbled out of the room and down the hall.
“Dr. Sheffield?” a nurse called.
He held up a hand. “Taking ten.”
Something toppled with a harsh clatter. The broken glass caused Elliott to crouch again in a protective corner and cover his head.
Lost again in the sand, heat and blood, Elliott stayed put in his cover position. What the hell was he doing here in civilian life? He couldn’t avoid the truth of how he suffered from PTSD.
“Dr. Sheffield… Major…”
He lifted his head at the sound of his Army title. Another doctor crouched in front of him. Through the haze of blood and sand within his memory, he almost didn’t recognize the fellow soldier. James was a friend, a psychiatrist and military officer with the Air Force.
“Major, are you with us?”
“Not an attack…” Elliott knew his gaze would be dead and haunted since he saw it so many times in the mirror after one of the dreams woke him.
“No, Major, a tray filled with containers crashed,” James said. “Major, I need you to stand and come with me. We’ll have a chat.”
“Yeah, guess I need to do that,” Elliott said as he looked beyond James. “I kinda lost it there.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time a soldier covered his ass,” James said as he rose.
Elliott followed James, who chose to find someplace quiet and separated from the chaos of the ER.
Author Bio: Ever the quiet one growing up, Nicole Dennis often slid away from reality and curled up with a book to slip into the worlds of her favorite authors. Over the years, she’s created a personal library full of novels filled with dragons, fairies, vampires, shapeshifters of all kinds and romance. Always she returned to romance. Still, there were these characters in her head, worlds wanting to be built on paper, and stories wanting to be told and she began writing them down whether during or after class. She continues to this day. Only recently has it begun to become fruitful, spreading out to let others read and enter her worlds, meet her characters, and see what she sees. No matter what she writes, her stories of romance with their twists of paranormal, fantasy and erotica will always have their Happily Ever Afters.
She currently works in a quiet office in Central Florida, where she also makes her home, and enjoys the down time to slip into her characters and worlds to escape reality from time to time. At home, she becomes human slave to a semi-demonic tortie calico.
Coke or Pepsi? (Or something else.)
Ick. No soda for me. Not even when I was a kid. I spit my first taste of soda out and never looked back.
Sweet or Salty?
Chocolate covered cherries
Best moment of your school career?
Graduated! Yay! I got out of there alive!
Where to find the author:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/nicoledennis.author/
Tour Dates: February 20, 2015
Tour Stops: Parker Williams, Inked Rainbow Reads, Amanda C. Stone, Divine Magazine, BFD Book Blog, MM Good Book Reviews, Molly Lolly, Bayou Book Junkie, Rainbow Gold Reviews, Havan Fellows, Lee Brazil, Fallen Angel Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Elisa - My Reviews and Ramblings, Andrew Q. Gordon, Wicked Faerie's Tales and Reviews, Hearts on Fire, The Hat Party
Rafflecopter Prize: ‘E-copy of When In Bloom’
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