It’s funny how you look back at your world and get new perspective. My stories – whether contemporary, mystery, suspense, or paranormal – have always been based in small town communities. Odd, that a city girl who grew up near one of the most exciting, bustling metropolises (metropoli?)— Washington, DC, dontcha think?
But my conclusions about small towns continually change. I was at a SWAT conference with crime and law enforcement professionals and one of the instructors – a successful author (Holly Roberts aka D’Elen McClain) who was a cop in AZ for years said, “What you see in big cities you see ten times over in small towns.” I hadn’t thought of that. In my paranormal series, Jack Lang actually choses Destiny because he believes a small town will offer a low crime, safe, quaint alternative to raise his daughter. Not.
So, in addition to the appeal of less traffic, a tight community, the ability to grow friendships and interact with some of the leaders in your local government, it’s like a microcosm of life in big cities, distilled or concentrated and bottled in a smaller package.
We have our sex crimes, homicides, drugs, dysfunctional families, tragedies, and men and women join the service in higher numbers here. We see all this up close because not only is the geographic area less congested but there’s a smaller population. I my small town, the one I transplanted to from the crowded Mid-Atlantic, my best man is the sheriff, a friend is the Chief of Police, another heads up SWAT and trains personnel. Many, many residents and people we associate with are either active duty, separated or retired military. This is simply one representation of small town, USA.
So when I write my fictional small town it’s a reflection of real life. Heroes, romance, suspense, quirky characters, villains – they’re inspired from real life. Including the scene from Her First Knight, my favorite of my military romance novels set in Larue, Louisiana home of a huge military family, the Larues and the Calloways.
Ridge is passionate about veterans but one little slip up could mean disaster for his mission.
The morning after…
“He’s like some kind of stripper Robin Hood,” Diane said.
“Did you see the paper this morning?” Sally asked Buffy in a low voice.
Diane and her friends had the Washington Post laid out in front of them. Had she really thought she’d escape by leaving her room?
“About what?” Buffy asked pretending ignorance. She wanted to close her eyes and wish it all away.
Cathy said, “The guy that impersonated Tucker? Seems he’s a rich muckity muck who’s been testifying in front of Congress. The media has made him out to be some kind of sex pervert.”
“Ridge?” Buffy’s heart sank. “That’s terrible.”
“Yeah, and the evil congresswoman who’s been giving him the third degree for the last two days said she knew there was something suspicious about him. I quote: ‘No one is as selfless as he pretends to be.’ She’s calling for an investigation.” Diane continued, “It says here he got a doctorate in Mechanical Bionics from MIT when he was seventeen! The guy’s a friggin’ Einstein. You just don’t think of geniuses looking like that.”
Sonya said, “More like da Vinci. What else?”
“He was recruited into the Army Rangers and ended up doing classified research and ‘on-site quality control’,” Diane read.
“In his work, that probably means on the battlefield,” Sally said.
“There’s another picture of him accepting an award from the President for his work with veterans.” Sonya looked at Buffy. “What was he was doing on that stage? It’s obvious he wasn’t a cover model.”
Sally said, “It might be obvious now, but he was my favorite of the cover models. I was shocked when the real Tucker showed up and we found out this guy wasn’t even in the industry. Boy, what I wouldn’t give to have him on one of my Seal Team Extraction covers. He seems like such a nice man, too. Did you know he gave me a donation for my Wounded Warrior fund?” Sally’s readers had raised thousands for the WWP.
“Maybe it was a publicity stunt that had to do with this hearing, the bill he’s trying to get support for,” Claranne Braxton suggested, her eyes brightening as if she was on to something.
“Wait a minute,” Sally said, suddenly alert. “What bill is that?”
Sonya leaned over Diane’s shoulder, “Looks like it’s a bill for some kind of cooperative, MiliCare H.R. 6159?”
Sally slapped her forehead with her palm. “Are you kidding me? That’s him?” She grabbed her purse. “I don’t know why I didn’t put it together. He’s R. Romano of… here it is.” She slapped the article on the table.
Claranne read it aloud.
With the passage of H.R. 6159, the new consortium group will ease some of the financial stress on the VA’s already imploding budgetary problems and provide medical care to veterans. Ridge Romano, the architect of the proposal said, “Government funds have been slashed repeatedly and our servicemen and women should not have to fight for their rightful treatment when they are fighting for their health and their very lives.”
Romano quoted President Lincoln: “The mission for government is ‘To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan.’ I ask you, can these values be accomplished by our current government system which is stretched beyond its founders’ imaginings? The government is over burdened, and our veterans are paying the price but private companies and professionals in every field are ready and willing to fill the gap. This bill will be a step toward better lives for our vets.
They deserve it. We owe it to them. Don’t let them down.”
“Wow,” Sonja said. “I can’t believe he was the man on that stage.”
But the article only affirmed Buffy’s feelings. She’d known, even that first night, that Ridge Romano was a man in a million. And, he was the one for her.
Please support our veterans and their families every day, not just in November and May. They don’t ask or expect it, but they deserve it.
Buy Links: https://books2read.com/Ridge