Can you tell us what happened to you in Afghanistan?
If you’ve read the book blurb, you know I was abducted and held by terrorists. The details aren’t for polite conversation. It took me a long time to tell even Holly (around page 154, I think); I’m still not comfortable telling the whole world.
But they broke your legs?
That’s true. The doctors were not able to save the left, so I have a below-the-knee amputation.
I understand that was the start of some problems for you.
I prefer to call them challenges.
Can you elaborate?
Let’s just say that I experienced some physical setbacks as well as some significant doubt and…you know…there was a lot of emotional stuff going on. And my career was very important to me, and suddenly that was in question.
What was the hardest part of your recovery?
I think the hardest part was being in a situation – for the first time in my life – where I really had no control. And I’ll admit: I hated it. There were times I didn’t handle that very well. Like the way I treated Holly after my amputation…
How would you say your career plans have changed?
I had planned on working my way up as far as I could go. Serving my country. I had no intention of trying to be a husband or father. But after everything that happened, I found a new calling.
Can you talk about the friends you’ve lost?
[deep breath] That’s a difficult topic…there were two deaths in particular that had a profound impact on me. And when you are betrayed by your best friend (as I was), it’s a sort of death as well.
When did you realize you were in love with Holly?
I would have to say that it was the morning after I got into that bar fight. She turned me down then. And it wasn’t until I was sicker than a dog, trying to kick my pain pills, that I realized why.
Ah, you’ll have to read the book to find that out. But I will say this: she did change her mind. A few times!
What is the significance of Surrender?
This concept of Surrender came up repeatedly in my journey. At first it was a whisper. Then it was modeled by the people in my life. I still didn’t get it because I was trying so hard to keep control that it made me sick. And when I finally let go and handed it over … it freed me.
So we understand there was some history between you and Aaron?
Aaron and I were college sweethearts. I was crazy about him, but he broke my heart.
What did you think when you saw him after all these years?
He was in pretty bad shape, and he lost his leg shortly thereafter. I couldn’t help feeling something for him – but I was determined to be just friends. I figured I would just help him through a tough time.
But that changed?
Aaron is a very proud person. Respect from others is of paramount importance to him. He doesn’t like to ask for help, and he does not want to be perceived as weak. But what happened to him … it’s very humanizing.
Can you elaborate on that?
The more Aaron tried to keep it together, the harder it got. Yet he wouldn’t admit that to himself or others. It was hard to watch him unravel, you know? Then there’s the night he finally cracked…it was bad…and it was good.
When did you finally give in to his romantic overtures?
When he told me what happened to him in Afghanistan… when he let himself be himself instead of the straight-laced, black-and-white Army officer…I couldn’t resist anymore.
But it wasn’t happily-ever-after?
No, it wasn’t. It was only two-thirds of the way through the book! He got orders to report to Washington. I was hurt and I lashed out at him.
We understand you eventually reunited.
It took three months and this recurring nightmare for me to realize I hadn’t given our relationship the chance it deserved – to admit I loved him but I was scared. When I found him, he was in even worse shape. I had abandoned him at the worst time. There was still so much he had to work through…and more trials we couldn’t have foreseen.
Can you give us some idea of these trials?
Nope. You’ll have to get the book.
So how does it end?
I would say that, where we were at the end of the book is a place that neither of us expected to find ourselves.