Well, that book is out now! Like, today!
A 41000 word novella, it's a contemporary about small town cop Walt and Navy SEAL Garrison.
They meet at a funeral. Yep.
It's a little crass. It's definitely full of shit boys do. I love them, and I hope y'all do, too.
Here's a bit of it!
The funeral took two hours longer than Garrison Matthews had the patience to sit. The viewing made him want to chew his arm off, and the funeral service, with the color guard and honors and all, had him grinding his teeth. Oh, he did his part, wearing his dress uniform, standing and saluting at all the right times. They would take the body down to Las Animas later for burial, so there was no lowering the casket into the grave and all, for which Garrison was grateful.
He even teased Brandon’s fellow Talons about how Air Force sucked and Navy was so much better, blah-blah.
None of it made even the slightest dent in Garrison’s disbelief that his brother was dead.
He stared at the shiny black casket with the flag draped over it, knowing soon the flag would be removed so they could take the casket away. The color guard would fold the flag and hand it to Brandon’s widow, who Garrison was ashamed to admit he had just met today.
Crazy, how he could get compassionate leave for a funeral but not for a wedding. That said something about the damned military, for sure. He sighed, rolling his head on his neck. He’d been deployed for so long that Colorado seemed… shocking. Weirdly perfect and quiet.
Even when taps sounded for his brother’s salute.
He walked out to the cars with his family, hands loose at his side, his whole body numb, his brain spinning with all the things he didn’t get to say, all the things he never would now.
“You want to sit up front?”
Garrison looked at his dad, who looked old, the lines around his mouth and eyes dug in hard and deep. Brandon had gotten his eyes from Dad, though, the blue still bright, even though Dad was on the wrong side of fifty.
“Sure.” Garrison climbed into the front seat of the second car, next to the driver the funeral home had provided. Since there was no graveyard to go to, they had offered a funeral procession back to Kylie’s house, which felt small-town and bizarre. He would rather drive, but the family had to ride in the official cars, right? Brandon’s wife, Kylie, and her mom sat in the lead car, Kylie’s bright blonde head bent in sorrow for the loss of her husband and the father of her child….
Brandon’s wife was pregnant. The thought made bile rise in his throat, and Garrison swallowed convulsively against it.
“Do you get car sick?” the driver asked, eyeing him sideways when they pulled out.
“No. No, it’s just stuffy.”
“I’ll turn on the air.”
A blast of cold air hit him in the face, and the driver turned up the radio, the chatter of some talking head almost covering the sound of his mother’s quiet sobs.
Christ, he was going to explode before they ever got to the inevitable potluck supper.
The trip back to the house seemed endless with that stupid talk radio thing chattering on and on. It probably took ten minutes, but Garrison’s leg started jittering a few seconds into the ride, and by the time they parked he was rocking the car.
“Here, man,” Garrison said, handing the driver a twenty before he slid out of the car. He helped his mom out of the backseat, nodding at his dad.
“Are you coming in for the big feed, son?”
“As soon as I go change. Need to keep the uniform clean, huh?” He was staying at a hotel. His folks had sold the house years ago to buy a fifth wheel, so they’d driven back for the funeral.
“We’ll see you there, then.”
Garrison nodded, bending to kiss his mom’s pale cheek. Her lipstick, a bright pink, made her compressed lips look like tiny ribbons on her face. Her eyes were bloodshot, and he wanted to hug her, hold her tight, but he feared she might break. So he let her go and walked away, sliding into his rental SUV. He wanted to go take off his uniform and change into a decent pair of boots.
An hour later some lady he didn’t know let him into his sister-in-law’s house. Garrison knew it was Brandon’s house too, but he’d never been there, had never seen Brandon there, so it didn’t seem like his brother’s house. Not a trace of Brandon’s spirit lingered there, not for Garrison.
His folks stood just inside the living room, along with Kylie and Kylie’s mom, Sharon. He kissed cheeks and shook hands, but he didn’t know what to say, what to do. He wanted a cup of coffee and maybe a piece of bread or something. Surely there would be bread.
“I need to talk with you for a minute once it slows down,” Kylie told him, grabbing his sleeve.
Garrison stopped, staring down at her face, which he’d seen in countless pictures. Kylie had always stood next to Brandon in those photos, her pointy chin and mischievous green eyes making her look like a very feminine elf. Now she just looked tired, the half circles under her eyes etched deep and dark.
“Just holler when you’re ready,” he agreed, hoping whatever she might ask was something he could do. He still belonged to the Navy, and Colorado didn’t exactly have a port he could get himself reassigned to.
“Thanks.” She gave him a tired smile before turning back to greet a dour-looking woman who smelled like old lady perfume, all roses and alcohol.
He wandered into the dining room, where a neat row of casseroles and salads sat under the ugly chandelier. Brandon had told him about that chandelier, about how as soon as he got back from deployment he was going to change it for the one Brandon and Kylie had picked out at Home Depot. The stupid thing was sitting in the garage.
“What the hell is that smell?” The deep voice came from off to his right, and Garrison turned slightly to see a tall man with dark blond hair and clear green eyes, his skin tanned and scored with laugh lines.
Garrison sniffed, his nose wrinkling. “Uh. Cabbage? Smells like dirty gym socks.”
“In hell.” The guy grinned a little and held out a hand. “I’m Kylie’s brother, Walt.”
“Brandon’s brother. Garrison.”
Sympathy flashed in Walt’s eyes, the lines next to them crinkling up, but not with a smile. “I’m so sorry, man. Brandon was a good guy.”