Colonel Johnny Mackenzie is a handsome soldier able to sense what others are feeling. Visiting fellow soldiers in the hospital is an obligation he never ignores, even though it takes a toll on him personally. Able to feel the pain, despair, and fear of the people inside, Johnny copes by visualizing a wall of protection around him. But one day when he decides to visit Sargeant Sanchez in the hospital, everything changes.
Nurse Marta Simmons has heard stories about Johnny and wonders if he has special powers. When she shakes hands with him at Sanchez’s bedside, Marta feels a jolt of energy travel up her arm. She is not the only one who feels it. Johnny has never felt such energy after touching a woman. As much as he wants to pursue Marta, his code of honor will not allow him. But when he is assigned to a mission in Vietnam, Johnny’s perspective changes after his team is ambushed and he is seriously injured. As he lies on the jungle floor and fears his life is slipping away, he pledges to find a way to get to know Marta better. But first, he must survive.
Johnny’s Gift tells the story of a Military Officer’s journey as he attempts to fulfill a special purpose and falls in love in the process.
Today should have been her wedding day, a day of celebration. Instead, she was sitting in a hospital stairwell alone and crying. The man she had loved for almost ten years was only two floors away, but he might as well have been on the moon considering how far apart they had become. He was not the kind and loving person he used to be. Instead, he had become mean and abusive. She felt as if an alien had taken over her fiancé body and she so desperately wanted the old Kevin back.
She hiccupped one last time emotionally drained. Curling her arms around her knees she laid her head down. How could her life have gone so wrong? A year ago, she thought she had the world by its tail. Her mother had gone into remission and they had joyfully planned her wedding. Then it started going downhill. They knew living separately for three years while Kevin was stationed in Germany and she had stayed home to take care of her mother was going to be hard, but they both thought they could make it. She couldn’t pinpoint the exact time it had begun to change between them, but it had. It got worse after Kevin’s father had died. Now it was unbearable since his helicopter crash and he had become partially paralyzed in his right leg.
She stared at the wall in front of her thinking about the path her life has taken. She considered herself a strong person. She had her parents to thank for that. Her father was one of the happiest and most carefree persons she had ever met. A career military man he had taught her instead of worrying about moving every three years, she should look at it as a new adventure. After he retired he got his teaching degree. To him, beginning to teach at almost fifty years old was a joy. People loved him, especially his students. Her mother, a staunch German woman, was the perfect counterpart to her father. Marta felt she was the best of both of her parents. She loved to laugh like her father, yet she was very practical like her mother.
Unlike her childhood, Kevin had a very hard childhood. His father was an alcoholic who took his frustration out on Kevin. Even though Kevin never admitted it to her, she knew his father physically abused him. There were always bruises he would shrug off when she questioned him about them. She may not have witnessed the physical abuse, but she had witnessed the verbal abuse many times. Kevin’s mother was just the opposite of his father. She was quiet and kind and did whatever she could to protect her kids. When she had asked Kevin why his mother stayed with such a terrible man, Kevin had replied, “She is stuck. Where is she going to go with four children and no job experience? At least he pays the bills. That is why as soon as I can, I am going to get out of here and quit being such a burden to her.” And he had. He had worked hard during high school to get a college scholarship and then worked during college to pay for his room and board, never asking his parents for a dime.
They had met the first day of school their junior year in high school. From that day on, they were inseparable. Kevin practically lived at their house until they graduated and then they both went to the University of North Carolina. She got her nursing degree and Kevin got his degree in Engineering. He had joined the Army ROTC while in college knowing he wanted to go on to become a helicopter pilot. During college they got engaged, knowing one day they were going to be married. If it had not been for her mother getting sick, she would have moved with Kevin when he got stationed in Germany. But they had both agreed her place was at home to help her parents. He loved them almost as much as she did already call them Mom and Dad.
Now, not only does he not speak to her, he does not speak to his Mother or her parents. They call her every week asking her how Kevin is doing, and she tells them he is improving. She knows she is not fooling them. They could tell how unhappy she was and Kevin refusing their phone calls hurt them as much as it was hurting her.
Her breath caught in her throat as she felt the tears begin to surface again. She had been devastated when Kevin had told her not to come to Germany when he had first gotten hurt. Didn’t he know how worried she had been? She had wanted to be there by his side, but he had told her to stay at home. There was nothing she could have done for him. When she found out he was getting transferred to Walter Reed, she had given her notice at work and moved to Washington, D.C. A week later she had been waiting at the hospital when the ambulance pulled up to the curb to unload him. She had rushed to his side so happy to see him. The orderlies had stopped the gurney, so she could talk to him before they had to take him inside. She had taken a hold of his hand and had bent down to kiss him. Instead of the happy greeting she had expected, he had turned his head, so her lips had brushed his cheek and pulled his hand out of hers telling her to go home. He did not want her there. She did not know who was more embarrassed, she or the orderlies. As they had rolled him away, the critical care nurse who had witness Kevin’s behavior had put her hand on Marta’s arm and told her not to take it personally. She had seen many soldiers act this way at the beginning. She told her to give him time to adjust to his situation and he would get better.
Softly she said to herself, “How much more time do I have to give him?” She had been here almost four months and if he was not screaming obscenities at her, it was blank stared silences. She knew part of it was the medications he was given, especially after his second surgery. Being a nurse, she knew it was more than that. She had hoped today would be the catalyst that would change their relationship. He would remember it would have been their wedding day and be magically transformed into the man she had once loved. Wishfully she had dreamed he would greet her with open arms, tell her how sorry he was for his behavior and how much he loved her. Those dreams were quickly dashed when she had walked into his room and had seen the stony look on his face. Instead of the hugs and kisses she had so desperately needed from him, she had gotten silence. He had looked at her void of emotion and turned his head to look out the window. She had stood there staring at him, no longer having the strength to put on the false bravado she normally did. With tears glistening in her eyes she had turned around and walked out the door to begin her daily rounds.
She put her hands over her face as the tears began to come again in earnest. “Oh Daddy, what am I going to do?” she asked feeling so alone. “I do not know how much more of this I can take?”