It is release day for our newest romance, A Thousand Sacred Moments by Connie Ann Michael. We are so proud of this book! Take a look below at the book summary, author information and the first chapter excerpt!
Every moment is sacred, even the hard ones.
Sawyer and Raven are finally happily married and living by the beach in California, but things are far from perfect. Unsettled with “normal” civilian life, Sawyer feels called back to the battlefield. With Raven’s reluctant agreement, Sawyer deploys with a helicopter medic group.
Raven struggles with letting her go again, the nightmares of her last deployment never far from his thoughts, but when their close friends, Thommy and Vanessa, announce they are expecting a baby, Raven begins to wonder if Sawyer is searching for more than just her next deployment.
As a former prisoner-of war, Sawyer suffered life changing injuries that leave her unable to have children. Now that their best friends are expecting, Sawyer’s questioning her ability to give Raven the family he desperately wants—and deserves. It seems everyone is moving forward in their lives while she continues to go backward, hoping the next life she saves will fill the hole in her heart. But the middle of a battlefield is the last place she expected to discover the doctors were wrong, and God has other plans.
About Connie Ann Michael
Connie was born and raised in Seattle Washington but recently moved to Montana. She lives with her husband and her three dogs and enjoys any activity which will get her outdoors. Connie has two sons who have successfully graduated from college. Her oldest works as a wildland fire fighter in Montana while the other is in Georgia in the Army.
WHERE TO FIND CONNIE
OTHER BOOKS IN THE 1000 MOMENTS SERIES
OTHER BOOKS BY CONNIE ANN MICHAEL
“I CAN’T BELIEVE I RUN into you just standing here in the pet section. I keep telling my husband he needs to invite Raven and you over, but he just never gets around to it.” Camile, the wife of Raven’s commanding officer, reached out and attached herself to Sawyer’s arm. “Well, I guess we’ll just have to plan on being seated together at the Marine ball. You are going? Right? Well, we’ll get it figured out with the men.” Camile ran a hand up and down Sawyer’s sleeve, seemingly never needing to breathe between her words.
Sawyer had been standing in the sporting goods store in the mall on base for ten minutes, surrounded by an aisle of dog treats, and hadn’t moved more than a few inches forward to allow a shopping cart to squeeze behind her.
It seemed like hours that this woman, whom Sawyer had met only once before, had been going on about the ball and seating arrangements. Sawyer had never attended a ball, and the stories she had heard made them sound more like a frat party on steroids than a classy dinner.
Boo, her support dog, a large spotted mixed breed with ears like a bunny, continued to nudge her hand. Boo hadn’t been her idea, although Sawyer wouldn’t trade him for the world. Raven, her husband, had set her up with the dog as if to say, “If I can’t be near, me in dog form will have to do.” And Boo didn’t disappoint. The dog had an attitude paralleling the drill sergeant her husband had recently become.
Camile paused and glanced at the dog. “Oh, I’m keeping you.” She pulled Sawyer in for a quick hug before bustling off with a wave over her shoulder and a “See you soon.”
Sawyer was overwhelmed by the whirlwind conversation and the stiff, awkward hug. She grabbed the first squeaking toy off the rack and gave Boo the pat he was waiting for.
The store had everything soldiers and their families could want but nothing Sawyer needed, unless they sold some courage. Two tours in Afghanistan, one capture by the enemy, and she was losing her stuff over a ten-minute conversation with a general’s wife and the mention of a Marine ball. Well, the hug kind of pushed her over the edge, but she was better than this, wasn’t she?
Sawyer looked down at Boo. “What in the world just happened? I’ve been on the battlefield and felt less shell shocked.”
Boo had little interest in her words as his eyes followed the toy she was flinging around, emphasizing each word with a jingle of the bell sewn deep inside the fluff.
A string of drool hung from Boo’s jaw when Sawyer finally walked to the register and paid for the toy. Heading into the mall-like atmosphere, she promised herself she wouldn’t let a ballroom full of classical music and finger food get the best of her.
She passed some new recruits sporting the required high-and-tight haircuts, and she blew out a breath. Raven had been gone for two weeks with a new class of soldiers. He’d been hired as a consultant for the basic training classes while deciding his future—or, more precisely, how his decision to stay stateside would work out for him.
Sawyer rubbed her forehead, then pushed through the doors and into the parking lot, Boo on her heels in case she ran into another pile of stress camouflaged as a middle-aged woman. She hadn’t spoken to Raven since he took newbies out into Pickel Meadows for a course in moutain-warfare. She’d prided herself on her independence—or at least the ability to get through the days without needing to call her pastor or hide in a closet because of a flashback. So, why did the idea of dressing up in a formal gown send her reeling back into the deep hole she’d worked so hard to crawl out of?
Raven would be home soon, but it wasn’t her need for his presence that had her stroking Boo to calm her breathing. Sawyer was used to being alone and, after a little over a year, still was surprised when a man she called her husband walked into their quaint beach apartment.
It was Camile, the woman from the dog toy aisle, who’d sent her to the edge. “Can’t you hardly wait for the Marine Corps ball? It’s coming up soon. All the wives on base are so excited to get a chance to mingle with a war hero. You have to sit at our table.” Camile had fawned over her, gushing about the Marine ball as if it weren’t the crazy party it was bound to turn into.
Ugh. The infamous hero was her.
“Why couldn’t the ball be a few months away?” she asked Boo. But Boo didn’t have an answer. Sawyer buried her face in the soft fur of his neck. “Raven isn’t going to be happy about me leaving.” She leaned back, taking Boo’s face in her hands. He looked at her with one blue eye and one brown.
She’d received her paperwork right after Raven left, and she was shipping out in a few weeks. Last year, her deployment had been put on hold while she continued to recover from a hostage situation that had left her scarred physically and mentally while also taking the lower portion of her leg. It had been almost six months since Raven and she had rekindled the romance that had brought them to marriage.
“I love him just a bit more than you, but I do not want to dress up and parade around as some hero. Maybe, you could go for me? I’d buy you a nice tux.” Boo licked her nose.
“You aren’t helping. Traitor.” Sawyer shuffled Boo into the back seat and drove to the clinic on base.
Her work at the clinic was supposed to help her readjust to civilian life and had been slow, to say the least. Probably, because Raven’s group of candy stripers were too far away to get Band-Aids or a pat on the shoulder to let them know they would survive, even though sometimes it was questionable. Raven had a sweetness she was sure he didn’t show to the newbies. She, too, had been on the other side of his personality during her first deployment and felt for them as they attempted to survive her husband’s tough-as-nails attitude.
“Sawyer, we got a situation in the back.”
She’d barely opened the door when the disembodied voice of her supervisor drifted from the back of the building.
“Is it your situation or a patient?” Sawyer tucked her keys behind the desk, pointed Boo to his bed in the corner, and headed in the direction the voice had come from.
“We have a female member of Echo 4-16 in the exam room, and I need you in there with me.”
The base doctor, Payton, was older than her. In fact, if she gauged age correctly, he could have been her father. He had completed a few tours of his own and was now settled happily with his wife in a small beach house up the coast a bit from Pendleton.
“Isn’t Meg around to help?” Sawyer looked around at the mess of supplies lying on the floor in front of the shelves they used for medication and bandages. “Did a supply truck explode?”
“She went home sick.” Payton ran the back of his arm across his sweaty forehead, leaving a chunk of his thick gray hair standing on end. “Is the air broke?”
Sawyer laughed and checked the thermostat. Meg, the nurse and secretary for the small clinic, had a habit of turning the air-conditioning off later in the day so the patients didn’t freeze in their thin robes. Sawyer flicked the small lever and heard the machine kick on, then squatted to gather an armful of bandages to place on the shelf.
Payton straightened the pile on the floor, then stretched his back. “I think Meg needs a raise. All this bending is putting my back out.”
“How long has she been waiting?” Sawyer walked to the exam room and pulled out the patient clipboard.
“Not long. I knew you were on your way back from lunch and wouldn’t be more than a few minutes. She said she was fine waiting.” Payton brushed his hands on his thighs and came up beside her.
Sawyer flipped the information page over and scanned her symptoms. “Tired and feels sick? You couldn’t do it on your own?”
“I’m thinking she may need an exam and a pregnancy test,” Payton said.
“Or she could be—I don’t know—tired and has a touch of exhaustion.” Sawyer hated when the male soldiers immediately diagnosed female soldiers with PMS, menstrual cramps, or pregnancy whenever they had ambiguous symptoms.
“Or she could be pregnant.” Payton raised an eyebrow.
Sawyer flipped a hand toward his mess. “I got it. You keep making a bigger mess.” She tucked the clipboard under an arm, pumped hand sanitizer onto her hands, and knocked lightly on the exam room door. “Hi, I’m Sawyer. I hear you aren’t feeling very well.” She pulled the rolling stool toward the soldier and settled in to listen.
Sawyer had to admit, she was a bit surprised the woman in front of her was dressed in fatigues. The young woman reminded her of herself. Petite and strong. The only difference was she tied her dark hair in a tight bun at the nape of her neck. Against regulation, Sawyer kept her hair in a loose braid over her shoulder. This girl was a soldier through and through. Sawyer had worked with the men long enough to stereotype the women on base as soldiers working in the civilian jobs, not looking to be deployed. Few walked around with their utilities on when they were off duty.
The woman gave Sawyer a small smile. “I’ve been back about three months and haven’t been feeling well since. At first, I thought it was post-deployment, but for the last week, I just can’t keep anything down.”
Sawyer glanced down at the chart to see her name, Jesse Murrey, and retrieved a gown and cup from the cupboard. “Well, let’s get you in a gown and have you provide a urine sample. I’ll check you over and see what it is we’re dealing with.”
Payton was breaking down empty boxes when she closed the door behind her. The clinic lights were dim, and the walls were a dull green. The building had once been used for offices but had been renovated when the population on base grew and housing needs called for a new development on this side of the base. The remodel left a bit to be desired, and the paint looked like what was left over from repainting the trucks. Sawyer and Raven were lucky enough to live off base, still close but far enough from the military to make life more real for them.
“Pregnant.” Payton smashed a cardboard box with his foot.
“Tired and post-deployment.” Sawyer checked her watch, then returned to the door and knocked.
“Come in.” Murrey was sitting in only her socks and a thin robe, holding a cup of pee.
Sawyer positioned herself against the counter. “Were you in Afghanistan?”
“No. Iraq. I was part of a supply company.” Murrey tapped her fingers against the side of the plastic cup.
“Well, your body may be having a hard time adjusting to the food back here in the States. Or you could have picked up a bug of sorts. It isn’t all that unusual to feel under the weather when you return.” Sawyer tried to keep her comments upbeat. She knew firsthand returning to the States was not an easy task after experiencing the war.
Murrey held up the cup. “Do you think I might be pregnant?” Her voice was quiet.
Sawyer swallowed. “Do you think you might be pregnant? I mean, is that a possibility?”
She nodded slightly.
Sawyer kept her face neutral. “Was it during deployment?”
Crud. Sawyer was afraid to ask the next question. “Was it consensual?”
The patient began nodding. “Yes. My husband is deployed as well. We had leave together just before I came back.”
Sawyer leaned back and let out a light laugh. “Well, that’s good.”
The girl’s scowl made Sawyer question the use of the word good. “Not so good?” Sawyer raised an eyebrow.
“I’m in the Marines. Marines don’t get pregnant,” she said.
Sawyer opened her mouth to respond but then thought better of it. Apparently, Marines did get pregnant.
“I can’t stay in if I’m pregnant. They’ll kick me out, and I won’t get my retirement. Joey is still in Iraq. I can’t do this alone. My mom doesn’t even live in this state.” Her words continued to flow, each sentence getting crazier until Sawyer put a hand on her shoulder and squeezed a little harder than she should have.
“You need to take a deep breath and step back a minute. I haven’t done the test yet. Let’s see what the cup holds. Then, you can take some time to let the results sink in and go from there.”
“I love him. I do. I just don’t know if I can do this on my own. He’s gone for a year.”
Sawyer took the cup and kept her corpsman face on, the one that said everything was great and no one was dying today. Although now it was the “you may be pregnant and it’s a wonderful thing” face. “I’ll be back in a few minutes. Bottom line here is you’re a Marine. If anyone can handle a small human, it would be you. I’ll be right back.”
She closed the door behind her and took a minute to lean against the wall. An ache formed in her chest. She rubbed her sternum with a fist and swallowed the lump.
“Hey, you okay?” Payton looked up from his work.
“She thinks she may be pregnant.”
He let out an “I told you so” laugh.
Sawyer glared, then pushed past him to get what she needed to test the urine.
Closed in the supply room, she took a moment to collect herself. A year ago, her chances of having a baby had been taken from her, and this young girl was worried that the gift she may have been given would be too much for her. The longer she loved Raven, the more she wanted to give him a child. It had been the main reason she filed for divorce after she returned from her last tour. Well, that and the craziness that had filled her mind at the time.
Her heart hurt thinking she’d never have a miniature Raven running around the beach. Never would she worry about being overwhelmed or about her duty as a corpsman. A child would be the biggest gift she could imagine. Sawyer had learned the hard way that Raven loved her for who she was, not what she could offer him, but it didn’t make her feel any less a failure. Raven didn’t talk about the future of their family, but it was a constant worry that one day he’d realize what he was giving up. With a shaky breath, Sawyer composed herself, collected what she needed, and prepared herself to congratulate this young soldier on her coming baby.
Except, she wasn’t pregnant.