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FIVE YEARS GONE Excerpt Reveal

New York Times bestselling author, Marie Force is revealing an excerpt from her upcoming FIVE YEARS GONE, a stand-alone adult contemporary military romance, releasing October 9, 2018. See below for information on the book, pre-order inks, and the exclusive excerpt.

FIVE YEARS GONE by Marie Force

FIVE YEARS GONE by Marie Force

About the Book
Title: FIVE YEARS GONE
Author: Marie Force
Publisher: HTJB, Inc.
Genre: Adult Contemporary Military Romance
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Google | BAM!IndieBound!ndigoBooktopiaAudible

Synopsis
The most brazen terrorist attack in history. A country bent on revenge. A love affair cut short. A heart that never truly heals.

I knew on the day of the attack that our lives were changed forever. What I didn’t know then was that I’d never see John again after he deployed. One day he was living with me, sleeping next to me, making plans with me. The next day he was gone.

That was five years ago. The world has moved on from that awful day, but I’m stuck in my own personal hell, waiting for a man who may be dead for all I know. At my sister’s wedding, I meet Eric, the brother of the groom, and my heart comes alive once again.

The world is riveted by the capture of the terrorist mastermind, brought down by U.S. Special Forces in a daring raid. Now I am trapped between hoping I’ll hear from John and fearing what’ll become of my new life with Eric if I do.

From a New York Times bestselling author, Five Years Gone, a standalone contemporary, is an epic story of love, honor, duty, unbearable choices and impossible dilemmas..

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Prologue
~Ava~
We met in a bar, of all places, a dingy hole-in-the-wall favored by military members from the nearby Navy base in San Diego. I went with a friend from school who was interested in one of the military guys. Before that night, Id never been there, and Ive never been back. John was celebrating the promotion of one of his buddies. He crashed into me as I left the ladiesroom and kept me from falling by grabbing my arms to steady me.

Just like in the movies, our eyes met, and my spine tingled with the kind of instantaneous awareness Id only read about but never experienced personally.

Im so sorry,he said, gorgeous and fierce in his fatigues.

I noticed gold on his collar, a hint of late-day scruff on his jaw and the name WEST in bold black letters on his chest. Intense electric-blue eyes made it impossible for me to look away, even when I was safely back on my feet.

Are you all right?he asked.

Realizing Id been staring at him, I blinked and reluctantly broke the connection. IYes, Im fine. Thank you for the save.

And then he smiled, and the tingling began anew.

Im John.

I shook his outstretched hand. Ava.

Keeping his hold on my hand, he tipped his head. You come here often?

Never,I said, laughing. Im a first-timer.

What do you think so far?

I wasnt impressed until about thirty seconds ago.

As if he had all the time in the world to give me, he leaned against the wall. Is that right? What happened thirty seconds ago?

I thought about taking back my hand but didnt. I was saved from certain disaster by a man in uniform.

The guy in the uniform is the reason you needed saving in the first place, because he wasnt watching where he was going. Least he can do is buy you a drink.

I wouldnt say no to that.I was proud of my witty responses and got the feeling he could more than hold his own in the wittiness department. Across the crowded room, I noticed my friend talking to the guy shed come to see, and her brows lifted in interest when she saw me with John. He guided me to the bar, placing a proprietary hand on my lower back, and told one of the guys to give me his stool.

Yes, sir.The younger man bowed gallantly to me as he took his beer and moved along.

Do people always do what you say?

If they know whats good for them.His teasing grin kept the comment from being overly cocky. What can I get you?

Deciding to live dangerously for once, I asked for a cosmopolitan.

Go big or go home,he said with admiration.

Thats my motto.I was so full of shit. I wondered if he could tell I was all talk or what hed think of me if he knew I usually err much closer to the side of caution than the wild side. I wondered if he could tell I was just barely old enough to drink. Id turned twenty-one only six months earlier.

When my cosmo and his Budweiser had been delivered, he offered a toast. To new friends.

I touched my glass to his bottle. To new friends.

So, wherere you from, Ava?

New York.

I thought I heard New Yawk in your voice.

I batted my eyelashes at him. So four years at the University of California San Diego didnt scrub the New York out of me?

Laughing, he said, Hardly. I know some guys from New York. One of them is from Staten Island, which is about as New York as it gets. I know New York when I hear it.

Im from Purchase, upstate from the city. What about you?

Im from all over. My old man is a retired general. You name it, Ive lived there.

Wheres home?

Right here.He turned that intense gaze on me, and I went stupid in the head. I couldnt see anything but him. We might as well have been alone in the crowded bar for all I knew. Unlike my friend, who loved men in uniform, I was never turned on by the uniform. Until then. Until John. You want to get out of here?

I swallowed hard. It wasnt like me to leave a bar with a man Id just met. And go where?

Somewhere we can talk.

What do you want to talk about?

He leaned in so his lips were close to my ear. Everything. I want to know every single thing there is to know about you.

Thats how we started. We were intense from the first second we met until the last time I saw him five years ago today. I cant believe its been five years since I looked into those incredible blue eyes or woke to him on the pillow next to me or heard his voice in my ear, whispering words thatre permanently carved into my heart as he made love to me.

The worst part is I have no idea where he is. I dont know if hes alive or dead, being held captive or if hes living his life somewhere else with someone else. I dont know, and the not knowing is the hardest thing Ive ever dealt with.

I love him as much today as I ever did. No amount of time could ever change that simple fact of my life. We had two beautiful, magnificent years together, caught up in our own little bubble. He never met my family. I never met his. We didnt make couple friends. We didnt talk about the future. We didnt need to. Our future was decided that first night, and it would take care of itself in due time. I honestly and naïvely believed that.

Now, with hindsight, I realize the bubble was strategic on his part. He gave me everything he had to give, including no promise of tomorrow.

Five years ago today, we watched the horror unfold on live television. A US-based cruise ship blown up by suicide bombers. Four thousand lives extinguished in a heartbeat. Our world permanently changed once again, our country declaring yet another war on terrorists. After 9/11 we thought wed seen everything. We were wrong.

I have to go,he said, grabbing the duffel that stood ready in the front hall closet. He called it his go bag.Id thought nothing of it.

Wherere you going?

I dont know.

When will you be back?

I dont know that either.He held my face in his hands and gazed at me, seemingly trying to memorize my every feature. I love you. Ill always love you.Then he kissed me as passionately as he ever had and was gone, out the door in a flash of camouflage.

I never saw him again.

Im not his wife or even his fiancée, so no one notified me of his whereabouts. And three months after he left, when I found a way onto the base in a desperate quest for information, no one there could tell me anything either. I tried to locate his parents and other people he mentioned, but it was like they didnt exist. I could find no record of a retired general named West in the Marine Corps, Army or Air Force.

Furthermore, an exhaustive search for information on the John West I had known led nowhere. No high school, no college, no military service, no nothing.

Sometimes I wonder if I dreamed the two years we spent together, doing mundane things like grocery shopping, cooking, watching TV and sleeping together after long days at work. But then Id remember the blissful passion, the scorching pleasure, the desire that ruled us from the beginning, and Id know I didnt dream him. I didnt dream us. We were real, and he was everything to me.

Sitting on the floor in our apartment, surrounded by boxes, I take a few minutes before the movers arrive to memorize every detail of the place where we lived together. Ive packed his things along with mine, and Im moving home to New York. Today was my deadline. I gave it five years, and I simply cant do it anymore. I cant sit in our home among our things, waiting for something thats never going to happen.

Its over. Its time for me to move on. Its probably long past time, if Im being honest with myself. And though I know its the right move at the right time, that doesnt mean my heart isnt shattering all over again as I dismantle the place where we were us.

My sister is getting married next month. I promised her Id be home in time to hold her hand through the festivities. Other than occasional trips home for holidays and other occasions, Ive been gone more than ten years. I bear no resemblance whatsoever to the girl who left home at eighteen seeking independence from her overbearing family at a faraway college out West.

I accomplished all my goals, finishing college, landing a decent job and falling in love with the man of my dreams. I found out what happens when dreams come true and how painful it is when they blow up in your face.

Its time now to set new goals, to start over, to begin a life that doesnt have John at the center of it the way it did here. Itll be nice to be back with people who love me and care about me, even if they tend toward smothering at times. Thats looking rather good to me after years of loneliness and grief.

The intercom sounds to let me know the movers are here. I pick myself up off the floor and steel my heart for the day ahead. I can do this. Ive been through worse, and Ill survive this the same way Ive survived everything else. Despite my resolve, my eyes fill with tears as I press the button that opens the door downstairs to the movers.

It doesnt take them long to pack my belongings into their truck. I keep with me the things that cant be replacedprecious photos, gifts he gave me, the clothing he left behind. After taking a final look around the apartment, I pack those boxes into my car, turn my apartment keys into the leasing office and head east, feeling as if Im leaving behind everything that ever mattered to me.

Its like Im losing him all over again. I cry all the way through the desert of Southern California and well into Arizona. I relive every minute I can remember, every conversation, every special moment. I think about what it was like to make love with him and wonder how Ill ever to do that with anyone but him. Maybe I wont. Maybe that part of my life ended with him, and even though Im only twenty-eight now, Im okay with that possibility. Once youve experienced perfection, its hard to imagine settling for anything less.

The tears finally dry up somewhere in northern Arizona, but the ache insideI take that with me all the way to New York, where I will try my very best to pick up the pieces of my shattered life and put them back together into some new version of myself.

After all, what choice do I have?

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Author Marie Force

Author Marie Force

About the Author
Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance, including the indie-published Gansett Island Series and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series. In 2019, her new historical Gilded series from Kensington Books will debut with Duchess By Deception. 

All together, her books have sold 6.5 million copies worldwide, have been translated into more than a dozen languages and have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list many times. She is also a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller, a Speigel bestseller in Germany, a frequent speaker and publishing workshop presenter as well as a publisher through her Jack’s House Publishing romance imprint. She is a two-time nominee for the Romance Writers of America’s RITA® award for romance fiction. 

Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news..

Where to find Marie Force
Goodreads | Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Reader GroupTwitter | Pinterest | YouTube | BookBub
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