The following special preview of Falen: Semper Fi by James MacKrell appears here with the permission of the author.
Rick had known this kind of suspended animation time and again in the war zone. A thing that seemed threatening caused his mind to slow down so his body could adequately deal with the situation. Now here at his parents ranch in Montana, where he never expected any danger, he was experiencing the same anxiety he lived with daily for his entire tour in Iraq.
"Rick" a voice called. "Ricky Gonzales, I have raced over here to see you," the shouting continued as a tall, tanned young woman's smiling face appeared over the top of the car.
"Do you like my new ride?" Five foot seven inches of all American beauty rounded the front of the Toyota Corolla and headed straight for the porch with a smile as big as the Montana sky. Rick couldn't believe his eyes. The vision he carried with him into battle over and over, the face he dreamed of night after lonely night rushed toward him in living color. Even Falen jumped back chirping a greeting and started her tail-less wiggle only an Australian shepherd can manage. First on one foot and then the other Falen knew in her heart this was no one to be afraid of.
"Master, it appears this human knows you, and by the expression on her beaming face she likes you very much," Falen barked.
Falen leaned against the wheel of the chair closest to her. Her almond shaped eyes darted from Rick to the face of the young woman and back again. This had to be something to be happy about, Falen thought as she wiggled her tail-less butt.
Rick instantly tried to cover his missing leg with the throw his mother had knitted for him. The last time he had gazed into this adoring face he was standing on two legs and saying good-bye at the airport in Billings.
Now, he couldn't stand up to greet her if he tried. His heart beat all the faster. A clammy feeling in his hands caused him to wipe them on the coverlet over and over. Rick stiffened as his high school sweetheart, Susan Burton, threw her arms around his neck leaning over the wheelchair as if it didn't exist.
Falen moved out of the way. She wondered who this person was who seemed to be attacking Rick. The woman appeared harmless and Falen's keen sense of danger wasn't ringing any alarm bells. Rick's tension rose. He stiffened in the chair and held his breath while Susan caressed his shoulders with an exuberant embrace.
"It's been so long. I've thought about you every minute of the day since I got the news about your condition.
Condition, Rick thought, condition is a hell of a word to describe my life being totally destroyed.
Falen looked up into her master's painful face. Did she need to do something, make some sort of warning or just lay down near the chair in case she sensed any danger to her beloved Rick?
After a successful career in radio, music publishing and many facets of the entertainment industry including appearances on popular television shows and in feature films, James MacKrell was inspired by a dream to try his hand as an author. James' first book, Down from the Mountain, is being hailed as one of the best new dog stories of our time. It is a gripping tale about an intrepid Australian Shepherd. Set in the mountains of Montana, it is a story of bravery and loyalty and it celebrates the connection between animals and their people.
Down From The Mountain
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