A Novel of Hope

Reflection Series Book 2

A former Army ranger turned FBI informant must take down a ruthless drug cartel by any means necessary to protect his family and serve justice after getting entangled in their criminal web upon returning home from war.

Duke Rawlings follows former Army Ranger Duke Rawlings who returns home from Afghanistan struggling with PTSD. When a merciless Mexican cartel endangers his family, Duke goes undercover to stop them, upending his life. This emotional tale explores the toll of secrecy and trauma as Duke fights to take down the cartel while desperately trying to protect his steadfast wife Sara and their young children.

Through rediscovering his faith, Duke undergoes a profound journey of healing and redemption. But just when freedom seems within reach, he faces one final harrowing trial. Will Duke defeat his inner demons and emerge from darkness to reclaim light, purpose and his loving family?

Duke Rawlings is a gripping yet uplifting Christian fiction novel exploring themes of sacrifice, faith and the resilience of the human spirit.

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Excerpt from Duke Rawlings © Copyright 2024 R. Cavazos

Chapter 1

Precious Memories

Duke Rawlings stood on the porch of his father's log cabin, surrounded by the breathtaking beauty of Colorado. The November air held a hint of adventure, brushing against his face with a kiss of winter.

The cabin was where Duke grew up. Every time he visited, he was reminded of his deep love of the Colorado country.

It wasn't long before memories of his pre-enlistment years flooded Duke's thoughts, provoking a need for days gone by. Duke's father taught him how to hunt and fish from a young age, leading to an undying passion for the outdoors. He had grown to appreciate the thrilling power of nature, as well as his own skill with firearms.

Every summer, Duke and his father, Adam, would journey through the mountains, stalking their prey with rifles in hand. It was there his fondness for precision shooting grew, leading him to become one of the best marksmen in the country. Duke looked back at these memories and knew that this made him successful during his time in the military.

The log cabin had been a significant influence in forming who Duke was today, and he was grateful for it being part of his life. He allowed himself a moment of rest before continuing his journey, taking one last look at the home that had shaped so much of who he was. Each of those days, they felt alive. Duke's youthful memories gave him confidence as he aimed with a fresh sight in mind.

Life had other plans.

Duke's gaze rested on the mountains, bringing back recollections of his tours in Afghanistan. They were the most extended six years of his life. He served his country with honor and courage while carrying physical and emotional scars as a testament to his sacrifice. Enlisting in the Army on his 18th birthday, Duke embarked on a journey that took him far from the tranquil landscapes that lay before him.

War had formed him, testing his resilience, and transforming him into the toughened man he is today. Amid the trials of the battlefield, Duke's memories of Sara, his wife, were a lifeline during the war. Her face radiated a warmth akin to the sun, her smile as inviting as a summer afternoon, her golden hair glistening like sunlight. Her eyes, a deep and promising green, filled Duke's heart with an enduring sense of affection. High school sweethearts, they had nurtured their love despite the separation that military service demanded. Long deployments had tested their relationship, but it never shaken. Their bond remained unyielding, weathering each separation with unwavering commitment.

They experienced a sense of lightness and hope whenever they reunited after each tour overseas, thanks to their love that shone like a beacon in the darkness. When his final deployment ended, he and Sara made a home in Colorado near his father's cabin. They lived raising two children and enjoying life while managing their own small ranch. Duke smiled at the reminder of his family before turning away to take one last look around at Colorado's majestic landscape as they headed inside to eat breakfast together. The sound of laughter from inside the cabin brought Duke back to the present. His children, Charlotte and Ethan, were already awake and playing with their cousins. The innocence in their laughter struck a chord deep within him; despite the emotional weight he carried, he was thankful for his family's love and support.

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