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Swing Vote, #3

Swing Vote, #3

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Marc survived an IED, but will his heart survive McKenzie? After a career-ending injury and a broken engagement, former Cobra pilot Marc North partners in a helicopter sightseeing business in a bustling Utah boomtown. He becomes entwined in local politics and irresistibly drawn to McKenzie Terkildsen, his partner's sister and an election official struggling with a tumultuous election and familial duties. Will Marc and McKenzie be able to navigate their way through the tumultuous election and find love in the midst of chaos?

Main Tropes

  • Best Friend's Sister
  • Wounded Warrior
  • Innocent cohabitation

Synopsis

An explosive mix of romance politics, and family drama!

Marc North, a former Cobra pilot, lost more than his career when an IED exploded; it shattered his plans for marriage too. After being dumped by his girlfriend and spending more than a year in rehab, all he wants is to fly again. And he gets his chance in a rural boomtown in southern Utah, where he partners with a combat buddy in a helicopter sightseeing business.

But Marc doesn't just find himself caught up in the thrill of flying again. He also gets pulled into the hotly contested local politics of the boomtown, thanks to his partner’s sister, the local election official.

At work, McKenzie Terkildsen struggles to keep control of a dangerously contentious election. At home, she shares the challenge of raising younger half-brothers with her older stepbrother. He complicates things by inviting a Marine buddy to stay with them while the two build a business together. As a council member takes liberty with facts and stirs the already caustic election brew, the last thing McKenzie needs is one more guy messing up her life—or her heart.

Will Marc and McKenzie be able to navigate their way through the tumultuous election and find love in the midst of chaos? Or will the pressures of politics and family tear them apart?

Intro Into Chapter One

Marc North watched the birds outside the window cut through the air in a swirling array of motion, up and down, in and out. Free. A sense of longing twisted his gut. To fly again. He wanted it, needed it.

In the corner of the waiting room, a pair of parakeets chirped at each other, and one flitted against the top of the cage, trapped. An unexpected sense of kinship filled him.

“She’s ready for you, Mr. North.” The receptionist pointed toward the door.

He straightened, arching his left foot and stretching his leg before limping into the psychologist’s office.

“Hey, Dr. Foss.” He smiled and tried to look happy to be there.

“Good afternoon, Marc.” She watched him as he sat, her legs crossed at the knee and a notebook in her lap, as always. “The progress you’ve made is phenomenal, considering you’ve only been walking three months.”

“Two and a half.” He had overdone it when he first gave up the cane and been forced to use it again a while. That had blown his confidence.

“Yes, but your hard work has paid off,” she said. “You must be proud.”

“I am.” The power of Marc’s words came out strong in his voice. When he had first wakened in the hospital and found his leg—and life—shattered by an IED, he had doubted he’d walk again. He patted the folded paper in his shirt pocket. “My physical therapist released me this morning.”

“Good for you.” Dr. Foss peered at him over her reading glasses. “For having just received such good news, you seem anxious today. How are the nightmares?”

Marc shifted in his seat, his pulse quickening. The dream diary in his hands seemed like it had grown too hot and would draw attention to itself. Why, just when a great opportunity had landed in his lap, did the nightmares have to ratchet back up? He forced his breathing to stay even. The question came as no surprise. Dr. Foss had gotten good at reading his body language, even when he tried to hide it.

“They were much better.” He tapped his right foot, grateful for the calming rhythm that came with the now-familiar technique. “I almost never jump at sudden noises anymore.”

“They were much better.” Dr. Foss glanced at his foot before shifting her gaze back to him with a raised brow. “What’s changed?”

He took a deep breath and stilled his foot. “I want you to release me from therapy too.”

“Marc, we’ve already discussed the long-term nature of your treatment. Once again, what’s changed?”

“I got a call last week from a Marine buddy. He wants to start a helicopter sightseeing business, and he’d like me to partner with him.” Marc tried not to hold his breath as he waited for her response.

“Interesting.” Dr. Foss jotted something down. “Where is the business based?”

“In a small town in southeast Utah, off the Green River.”

“Southeast Utah . . .” Dr. Foss patted her chin with a finger as though trying to remember something. “What kind of health services do they have?”

“You mean for crazies?” Marc couldn’t keep the bitterness from his voice. When the psychologist shot him a disapproving glance, he wished he had kept his mouth shut.

“Is your sister crazy? Or those friends of yours?”

“Of course not.” He knew better, having watched the TV interview with the survivors following the pirate attack on his sister’s cruise excursion. Almost every passenger had commented on having nightmares. “I just want my life back.”

“I have every confidence that you will get beyond the need for treatment and have a very good chance of not experiencing symptoms.” Dr. Foss leaned forward. “You need to be patient with yourself. Be as dedicated to this as you have been to walking again.”

“You’re right.” Her reply didn’t surprise him.

“When was your last nightmare?” Dr. Foss nodded toward the notebook in his hand.

“I’ve had three—” he thought for a second as he handed the dream diary to her “—no, four since the phone call. I had two the first night.”

“But nothing last night,” Dr. Foss said, glancing through the pages. “Good.” She added to her notes. “Have you identified a specific trigger?”

“I’ve thought about it a lot. I’m sure it’s a combination of excitement about finally moving on, plus a little stress about making a change.” He sat taller. “I don’t think it’s an unreasonable response. People get anxious when they’re about to make a major life change.”

“Yes, they do,” she said. “Is it the thought of flying again?”

“No, it’s not the flying,” Marc said.

“If it’s not the flying,” Dr. Foss said, her voice soft, “do you think it’s about having people’s lives in your hands again?”

Hearing her say the words Marc had wondered about sent a little jolt of fear through him. It was gone almost as fast as it had come.

“I’ve wondered about that too, especially after I had two nightmares in one night.” Marc shrugged, calm again. “I don’t think that’s it.”

“You’re confident about that?” she asked.

“As much as I can be about anything.” He eased back in his chair.

Dr. Foss studied him for a few seconds. She had a way about her when she looked at him like that, which used to make him squirm. He had found early on that it was just better to be honest with her; she found out anyway. She reminded him of his mother in that way, though Dr. Foss had never claimed to have eyes in the back of her head.

“You think you’re ready to fly again?” she asked.

“Yes, ma’am, I do.” Making the statement, Marc felt calm and sure for the first time since the phone call.

“All right,” Dr. Foss said. His pulse quickened in excitement until she added, “Go through what happened the day of the explosion.”

Marc fought the sinking feeling that clutched him. She hadn’t made him do the exercise in more than a month.

“I thought I had finished with that,” he said, his voice level.

“You want me to release you to fly.” She peered at him over her glasses. “I need to know you’re ready.”

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