Shell Shocked by Angelia Sparrow and Naomi Brooks

Sean Dempsy suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a tour of duty in Iraq during which he almost died at the hands of a suicide bomber leaving him with artificial knees, scorched retinas and burn scars. Like many combat veterans with PTSD, Sean is plagued by nightmares and flashbacks of the horrors of war that are often triggered by a car backfiring or a siren blaring. They literally incapacitate him to the point that he cannot leave his apartment or be anywhere near crowds of people without having severe anxiety attacks. Because of his agoraphobia and claustrophobia he relies on medication in order to function, to leave his apartment and do the most basic things such as shop for food, or make his weekly appointments at the medical clinic to refill his prescriptions. Unable to work, he supplements his disability checks and food stamps by writing straight and gay romance novels for an online publisher.

Gabriel Herne is an above the knee double amputee who also suffers from bi-polar disorder. He gets by as a phone psychic and also does in person readings. Gabe is pagan – Celtic solitary – and follows the teachings of Cernunnos, lord of plenty. His religion gives him peace and helps him to cope with the realities of his life. Gabe is quite self-sufficient and on the surface relatively well adjusted with a positive outlook despite his circumstances and limitations. However, being wheelchair bound and out as a gay man, Gabe is vulnerable to the aggressions of neighbourhood bullies and other dangers.

Sean and Gabe receive medical services at the same New York City clinic and this is where they initially meet and quickly form a relationship. Trust is established early in their relationship as they come to rely on one another to help them overcome the physical and emotional challenges they both face. But despite their love and commitment and as with all relationships they have their difficulties.

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