Teaser from paperback and dust jacket.
Beyond the pain. Beyond the darkness. Left behind enemy lines for nine years, tortured beyond endurance, Navy pilot and Vietnam veteran Glen Tanner survives for one reason—to destroy the wife who deserted him. Instead, a VA psychiatrist, Dr. Spencer, introduces Glen to Katie Kelly, an artist and teacher grieving her own devastating loss. Katie helps Glen stop painting nightmares on endless canvases, coaxing him back from hell and teaching him to love and trust again.
Caught between the bureaucracy of the VA and the designs of Glen’s sister, Julia, he and Katie struggle to find solace in each other, to build a relationship out of broken lives in the rugged hills of the Arkansas Ozarks. Wounds from loss and the clinging terrors of combat tear at them. Can they get beyond the past to a life that lies so far out of reach that it feels beyond the Moon?
Excerpt: 1983 - Glen returns from nine years as a POW in Vietnam. His sister Julia tells Katherine what that return was like:
"You should a seen him when he come home. I went to meet the plane. I just got this phone call, out of the blue, tellin me he would be on it, to come to the airport. I didn't even know he was alive no more. Do you know how I felt? No, course not. Anyway, he come down the steps ─ they let me stand right there by the plane ─ and he was wobbly and so skinny and his hair was fallin out and his eyes looked like they was thousands of years old. Someone had to help him, or he would've tumbled right down those steps."
Katherine squeezed her eyes shut against the images.
Julia slumped in upon herself, a gesture that deepened the lines webbing her face, and took another quick sip of coffee. "He had scars all over his face. They'd fixed him up some out in California, but you could still see where the stitches had been. Give him some teeth, they'd been mostly knocked out."
Katherine clutched her temples between thumb and forefinger till pain shot through her head. She couldn't speak.
"He looked at me like he didn't know who I was, and when I put my arms around him, it was like holdin on to a bundle of straw. All crackly and full of funny smellin air."
Tears erupted from Katherine's eyes, and her throat closed till she could barely ask Julia to stop. The word came out a croak.
"Oh, no. You want to understand, you want to know. You're goin to hear it all. They sent him home from the war twice before, sent him home, and he'd stay a while, acting wild and like a stray dog running off all over the county doing God knows what. Pretty soon he'd up and go back, like there wasn't nothing here for him. Do you know what that did to me? Then he went to that prison, and I thought he was dead. All those years, I thought he was dead. My baby brother and not even a body to bury. Then, out there at the airport, when I put my arms around him and he just stood there all blank around the eyes, I remember thinkin, dear God, he hasn't come home after all. He's still over there in that jungle. Might as well be dead."
If she had to listen to much more of this, she was going to scream.
Julia stopped as if she were finished and neither of them spoke, just sipped at the cold coffee and stared off out the window. If Katherine had the strength, she would stop her, but she couldn't.
Julia went on determined to continue. "I took him home and I took care of him." She smacked her thin chest. "Me. You understand? All he did was what I told him to, just like when he was a baby. Sometimes I couldn't bring myself to make him do anything but eat and sleep and get back his strength."
And now, Julia wanted it to stay that way. Glen would have to be stronger than his sister if he were to overcome her destructive influence. And Katherine doubted if he were. He would need help, and she wasn't sure if she was up to that, or if he would allow it from her.
A note from Velda:
I will give an E book copy to a chosen reader who comments about the excerpt. My publisher has nominated this book for a Pulitzer Prize for literary fiction.
Buy Link http://tinyurl.com/oz35hov