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Authors: J.M. Madden

Tags: #Contemporary, #romantic suspense

Embattled Minds (Military Romance) (Lost And Found Series)

BOOK: Embattled Minds (Military Romance) (Lost And Found Series)
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Embattled Minds

By
J.M. Madden

Copyright © 2013 J.M. Madden
Kindle Edition

Cover by Viola Estrella

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Do not take part in piracy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

Any logistical, technical, procedural or medical mistake in this book is truly my own.

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Acknowledgements

A Note from the Author

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Note From the Author~

About the Author

Other Books by J.M. Madden

Excerpt from
Embattled Home

Acknowledgements~

As always, I have to thank my husband for never doubting I could do what I said I would. I love you dearly.

To my parents for their unwavering faith and support. I love you!

Donna and Robyn, you guys are kick ass critique partners and friends. I couldn’t have done this without you. Bruce, thank you for your unwavering belief in this series.

Madden Militia, you ladies are awesome! Thank you for prodding me on and loving my guys. Your excitement feeds mine!

To Mary Y., Rebekah W., Suzie H., Denise S., Jeanette P., Becky C. thank you for being Super Beta Readers!

And to our military, I sincerely thank you for everything that you do. You’ve taken on a job that very few could handle, but you’ve done it well. You have my deepest appreciation.

To military families, I admire you more than I can ever articulate. Thank you for being the support they need.

A Note from the Author~~

Several years ago, the government hired a private research firm to study PTSD and the returning soldier. The RAND report was completed and published in 2008, and if you would like to read the report in it’s entirety, you can follow
this link
. I’ve listed some startling highlights below. Information is attributed to their report, unless attributed otherwise.

Mind you, now, these numbers are several years old, and actually tracking PTSD is a difficult job in itself. Not all veterans who left Iraq and Afghanistan suffered from the symptoms of PTSD
at that time
, but it developed later on down the road. The government is also notoriously bad about keeping track of its veterans. If the veteran refused treatment, there’s no way to track them.

~Almost 3 million American veterans have returned from service in Iraq and Afghanistan, and at least 20% of them have PTSD and/or depression. I, personally, assume these are conservative estimates, because the data is five years old. But, if it is correct, a minimum of 600,000 veterans have a varying degree of PTSD and/or depression. The report I read stated that the incidence of PTSD was magnified if the veteran also had a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

~50% of the veterans that did show signs of PTSD refused treatment, and of those that
did
accept treatment, only half of them get ‘minimally adequate’ treatment. In other words, if they did ask for help, they didn’t get proper help. So, from a veterans point of view, this would be extremely frustrating.

~In 2008, suicide deaths began to surpass combat related fatalities. It is reported that on average, 5 active duty personnel attempt suicide each day. (ptsdusa.org)

One of my characters in Embattled Minds is a Vietnam veteran, created when I found this information at veteransandptsd.com:

~Back in the 1980’s, the government commissioned the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study, and found that only 15% of Vietnam vets had ptsd symptoms at that time. But when they did a reanalysis in 2003, that number had inflated to 80%, or 4 out of every 5 vets!

That number is staggering to me, because there are/were 8.2 million veterans from the ‘Vietnam Era’, those that served any where at any time during Vietnam. To imagine that potentially millions of people suffer from PTSD in our country right now saddens me. The fact that we don’t have comprehensive help for them pisses me off.

That’s why, with this book, I’m going to make a donation to the
Beck Institute of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
, outside Philadelphia. They offer scholarships to medical personnel training to deal with active duty and veteran military service members struggling with suicidal thoughts, post traumatic stress disorder, depression, substance abuse, anger, anxiety and other behavioral issues.

If a soldier/Marine wants competent treatment, it should be available. Period.

So, thank you for reading and supporting.

~~~~If you haven’t read Embattled Road (free at all outlets) or Embattled Hearts, I strongly suggest you do. And be sure to read to the end for an
excerpt from Embattled Home
, Chad’s story!

Happy Reading!

Chapter One

E
mber Norton looked up at the sound of the front door of the Frog Dog Grill opening and closing, and tried not to be disappointed that it wasn’t the group of Marines she’d been serving for the past few weeks. At least she thought they were Marines. There was a certain way they carried themselves, as if they were badasses but didn’t need to flaunt it like the younger, less-experienced soldiers.

Every Saturday they came in, like clockwork. Seven o’clock. She’d gotten used to their mismatched mugs and quiet humor, not to mention their powerful personalities.

Who was she kidding? There was only one guy she actively looked for. The massive Viking that made everybody else look like a child.

His name was Zeke. Built like a brick shithouse, as her dad would say, he drew every gaze when he strode into the place, dominating the room. The women drooled over his massive chest, cobbled stomach and lean hips, until they saw his face, then their interest turned to pity. It was disgusting to watch, because they sometimes couldn’t hide their reactions quickly enough for him not to see.

Ember didn’t know what had happened to him, but he appeared to have been beaten or tortured to within an inch of his life. Deep, brutal scars traced over his forehead and down his neck. She assumed he’d been injured in the war.

Dark blond hair with a hint of curl hid his eyes. She’d managed to see him fully a few times, and each glimpse made her want to see more. She wasn’t one of the ones turned off by his looks. Ember knew she’d never met him, but he seemed familiar to her. It was as if they’d connected long ago, before the scars, then lost touch.

Some of his wounds were deep and still looked angry and painful. Others were just faint white tracings across his skin. It looked like his face had been shattered into about six pieces, then stitched back together by a drunken surgeon. One deep line bisected his forehead diagonally, slid down to run below his left brow then toward his ear. Another, lighter one, nipped the edge of his bottom lip, tugging it out of symmetry when he smiled. It curled down his chin and into his darker blond beard. She felt sure he wore the beard to hide more marks.

She would have been intimidated by his harsh looks if she hadn’t caught the blazing awareness shining from his stunning, thickly lashed, ice-blue eyes.

The Frog Dog was located in a busy shopping center. Soldiers came in to relax often. They loved the military memorabilia her father had lined the walls and hung the ceiling with. For the most part she’d gotten used to the testosterone she had to wade through every night. But Zeke didn’t overwhelm her with his masculinity. Though he was huge, at least six and a half feet tall—largest in his group—the way he slouched in the chair and let his hair fall forward to hide his face almost made him seem smaller. The only time he’d frightened her had been the night several weeks ago when he’d kicked those frat boys out.

A drunk had grabbed her ass and she’d cried out, surprised more than anything. Almost immediately, Zeke had appeared at her side. The scars on his face stood out white against his red skin as he confronted that group, and there’d been zero give in his expression or his shiver-inducing baritone. The set of his jaw and the angle of his massive shoulders told everybody in the bar he wasn’t going to tolerate that kind of treatment of her.

Once again, her heart thudded at the way he’d protected her. Nobody had ever done anything like that for her before. They’d been trading skin-prickling glances ever since then.

She ran the bar rag over the glass in her hand and set it on the lower ledge, easy to grab for the next drink. It was quiet today. Surprisingly so, considering it was the middle of the month and almost Christmas. But, it was early afternoon. The shopping crowd would be rolling in soon, thirsty and hungry.

She glanced at the black apron hanging on the peg by the swing-through kitchen door. She wondered if her dad would come in tonight. He’d been gone too long.

One of the waitresses called her name, and she turned away with a sigh. She had too much to do to be mopin’.

*****

Zeke looked for and found Ember as soon as he cleared the doorway into the shadowed bar and grill. She stood across the room, smiling her big smile and pointing something out in the menu to a customer. Her long, almost-black hair hung over her shoulder in a long braid. The man warmed to her, and even from across the room Zeke could see his interest. Ember seemed friendly, but oblivious to the edge that had crept into the man’s smile as his gaze wandered down her form.

Ducking his head, he followed the guys across the room. The table they normally sat at was full, so they had to settle into one nearer the bar. The proximity to the other patrons was a little much. Diego looked twitchy, like he’d rather leave than have his back to people. He adjusted his eyepatch.

Chad grinned at the guy, always the peacemaker. “Just one beer, then we can bug out if it’s too much.”

Diego gave a tight nod, and with a final look behind him to map out targets, he took off his coat and settled into the chair, hands below the table. Zeke knew he probably already had a knife in his hands. Seemed like they all carried knives in their pockets anymore, just to have some sense of security. Terrell shook his head and settled across from Chad, tipping back on two legs.

Ember scrawled something on her pad and headed for the kitchen. As if she felt him watching, she glanced around and immediately locked gazes with him. She smiled and threw a little wave.

Zeke swallowed heavily and turned to look down at the table, his skin tightening uncomfortably across his scalp. The scars there didn’t move the way regular skin did, and when he got embarrassed, which seemed like all the time, it felt like ants biting at him. He took a heavy breath and started lining up his words in his head, because he knew she would be over for their order.

No sooner had the thought occurred and she was there, smiling big and planting one hand on her curvy hip. “Hi guys. What can I get you?”

Chad knew to lead off, because it gave Zeke time. Diego unclenched his jaw enough to order his cola, and Terrell ordered a house beer. Then, she turned her big, dark chocolate colored eyes to him.

He took a breath, thought about the words and spit them out.

Her fine dark brows furrowed and she cocked her head. “Uh, what?”

Fighting not to flinch from her look, he replayed the words in his head. Oh, no. He hadn’t said dark chocolate eyes, had he? He glanced at the guys and they were all grinning at him, and he knew he had.
Fuck!

BOOK: Embattled Minds (Military Romance) (Lost And Found Series)
2.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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