It’s been a long time since my first novel Because of You published. I know a lot of times, the thing that inspired that first book changes and morphs as the writer grows but it’s funny, that thing hasn’t really changed for me.
I started writing back in 2007. My husband was deployed on his second tour for what was going to turn into an eighteen-month separation for us. I was at Fort Benning in Officer Candidate School and I started glomming onto Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooter series. I remember thinking someone should write about regular soldiers and their families and everything that’s changing with the wars.
Well duh, why couldn’t I write those stories.
It’s funny because you get the idea of hey, I could write this book and then you sit down to write a book. And then you realize oh hey, maybe this writing thing is a little tough. But I was going through officer candidate school, a school the army wanted people to fail out of because well, we want tough people who won’t quit to be officers, right?
So I kept writing. And I finished the book that would become Shane and Jen’s Because of You. And then came the book that would become Laura and Trent’s Back to You.
Because of You started in Officer Candidate School and it took me about six months to finish that first draft (we won’t talk about the revise process when you’re learning to write but let’s just say it was another four years before the fabulous Sue Grimshaw plucked me out of the slush pile) but Back to You got it’s start when I was assigned to the First Cavalry Division at Fort Hood.
I remember listening to one of the captains telling his wife how much he loved her and how much he really wanted to be home but that he had to finish this one thing at work and that he really, really wanted to be home right then too.Except that he was lying to her. Not that about loving her but about the wanting to be home with her right then.
He could have gone home that night but he didn’t. Because he couldn’t.
And I thought wow, what a great story if his wife figured out his lies and called him on it. Would they ever be able to get past it and could their marriage recover.
Back to You was probably the toughest story I’ve ever written but I have to say it’s probably the most rewarding story I’ve ever written. Laura and Trent’s story is symbolic of what so many military families go through when their loved one comes home from war and I wanted to write something that wouldn’t paint either the hero or the heroine as wrong – they both were.
So I hope you’ll pick up Back to You. It’s a pretty special book to me in so many ways.
To celebrate her pub day, Jessica Scott is sharing an excerpt and giveaway of BACK TO YOU (Grand Central Publishing, July 29).
Army captain Trent Davila loved his wife, Laura, and their two beautiful children. But when he almost lost his life in combat, something inside him died. He couldn’t explain the emptiness he felt or bridge the growing distance between him and his family-so he deployed again. And again. And again…until his marriage reached its breaking point. Now, with everything on the line, Trent has one last chance to prove to his wife that he can be the man she needs …if she’ll have him
Laura is blindsided when Trent returns home. Time and again, he chose his men over his family, and she’s just beginning to put the pieces of her shattered heart back together. But when Trent faces a court martial on false charges, only Laura can save him. What begins as an act of kindness to protect his career inflames a desire she thought long buried-and a love that won’t be denied. But can she trust that this time he’s back to stay?
Giveaway: (US/Canada only)
“So, to what do I owe the honor of this visit?” she asked, minimizing her e-mail to be able to focus.
“Don’t throw me out of the office,” he said, trying to keep his voice light. “But I need to talk to you about Trent’s case.”
Laura leaned back in her chair, folding her arms over her chest, and started counting to ten.
“I know you’re having a hard time with him.”
Laura sucked on her top lip for a moment before answering. “I wouldn’t necessarily call filing for divorce a hard time.”
“And that’s what I need to talk to you about.”
“Just hear me out, okay?”
She ground her teeth but after a moment nodded.
“Listen, there’s no case against Trent. It’s weak at best. With the Article 32 about to start, we have a good chance of getting it stopped here before it goes to court-martial. But I need to plant doubt that the allegations against him are true.” He met her gaze. “I need you to do that.”
Laura chewed on her bottom lip, playing his words over and over in her head, not understanding what he was asking of her. “What do you mean, you need to plant doubt?”
“The primary witness against your husband, PFC Adorno—”
“Oh, we’ve met,” Laura said dryly.
Patrick’s smile was humorless. “Yes, well, that’s part of the prosecution’s problem. She’s alleging that Trent was inappropriate but the problem is that she and Lieutenant Randall were caught in their shenanigans downrange.”
Laura frowned. “So you think this is a ploy to get herself out of trouble?
“Her and her husband. If they were working together to steal the missing weapons systems, then what better way to get out of trouble than to make this stuff up against Trent? Takes the focus off her and her husband completely.” Patrick leaned forward, tapping his index finger on the desk. “If I can cast Trent as a sympathetic family man who would never do anything like what she’s alleging, this case is all but dismissed. I’m not attacking her. All I have to do is make Trent look better than the story she’s telling and we’ve got a win.”
“And you need me to paint on a happy face and be the loving wife.”
Patrick shook his head. “No, I need you to be one half of a loving couple. And I need you to do it publicly where everyone can see it—in the PX, in the chow hall, everywhere. I need the officers on this board to believe exactly what I’ll be telling them on the day of the hearing.”
She looked down at her empty ring finger, absently rubbing the bare skin beneath the bandage. “Everyone knows that we’re having problems, Patrick.”
“Then make sure everyone knows you’ve fixed it.” He leaned back. “I wouldn’t ask you to do this if I didn’t think it was our best shot at getting this whole thing thrown out.”
She looked up at him. “Why didn’t Trent ask me to do this?”
Patrick swallowed and looked away. “He refused to drag you into this,” he said quietly. “For what it’s worth, I don’t in a million years believe the allegations against Trent. I don’t think he would ever, ever be unfaithful to you.”
Laura pressed her lips together in a flat line. “You’re wrong, Patrick. He’s been cheating on me for years. It was just with the army instead of another woman.”
“Let me think about it,” she said quickly. “I won’t say no out of hand but I can’t make this decision on a whim.”
Patrick leaned across the desk, gripping her hand. “I know this is hard for you, Laura. I know what I’m asking you to do.”
She said nothing for a long moment and he gave her a sympathetic but firm smile. “Give it some thought, okay?”
When she was alone, she sat there, staring at the picture of her family. Wondering how she was going to bring him back into the kids’ lives and then rip him out again. What he was asking wasn’t fair. He had no idea what this was going to do to her family.
She glanced at the photo on her desk as she typed furiously, trying to get ahead of the flood of e-mails in her inbox.
There was a quiet rap on her office door. “I’m not here,” she said quickly, looking up.
Her fingers froze on the keyboard. Her heart stopped in her chest.
Trent stood in the doorway. He had a duffle bag slung over his shoulder. His glasses hid the darkness of his eyes. There was a streak of dirt on his cheek. An assault pack hung limply from his left hand.
A thousand emotions ripped through her all at once, rioting for supremacy as she drank in the sight of her husband.
Ex-husband, she reminded herself. Or at least he was supposed to be.
She wished that this were a normal homecoming. One where she would rush across the small space and crash into him. His arms would come around her and she would inhale the strong spicy scent of his skin. Feel the heat of his touch. Savor that first, wild kiss.
Instead she had this. This empty chasm between them, echoing with loneliness.
And she had no idea how to cross it.
USA Today bestselling author Jessica Scott is a career army officer; mother of two daughters, She’s written for the New York Times At War Blog, PBS Point of View: Regarding War Blog, and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom/New Dawn and has served as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas. She’s pursuing a PhD in Sociology in her spare time and most recently, she’s been featured as one of Esquire Magazine’s Americans of the Year for 2012.