Nurturing That Spark
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
Synopsis:Bad stuff happens. Love makes it bearable.
All Morgan Davidson wants is a chance to reconnect with her fifteen-year-old niece – sans digital dependency. She books a cabin for Christmas week in rural southern Indiana, but contracting a case of the warm fuzzies for a handsome ranger isn't part of the plan.
Carter Poole, single dad and park ranger, has simple tastes. He’s not on Facebook, doesn’t let his five-year-old son play video games and spends a lot of time outdoors. When he’s sent out to investigate mysterious tracks, he meets Morgan and a spark ignites between them. He invites her to share the holiday with him and his son.
Between teenage angst, emotional drama and second-guessing, Morgan and Carter manage to steal a few moments alone. When his son goes missing on Christmas Eve, the world narrows and they realize what matters most -- family. The more mismatched the better.
Author Bio: Sandra Sookoo is a bestselling author who firmly believes every person deserves acceptance and a happy ending. Most days you can find her creating scandal and mischief in the Regency-era, serendipity and happenstance in Victorian America or snarky humor in the contemporary world. Reading romance is a lot like eating fine chocolates—you can’t just have one. Good thing books don’t have calories!
When she’s not wearing out computer keyboards, Sandra spends time with her real life Prince Charming in central Indiana where she’s been known to goof off and make moments count because the key to life is laughter. A Disney fan since the age of ten, when her soul gets bogged down and her imagination flags, a trip to Walt Disney World is in order. Nothing fuels her dreams more than the land of eternal happy endings, hope and love stories.
"You and I are going away for Christmas break. If your dad can do it, so can we." Morgan stood. Slowly, she entered the living room if only to better gauge the girl's reaction.
"You're taking us to Florida?" Mid-level excitement infused the inquiry. She put her plate on the table as she pinned her gaze to Morgan.
Guilt assuaged her. She'd not seen Harper so animated in a while. "Um, not exactly." She cleared her throat, and when her knees wobbled too much, she perched on the edge of the recliner. "I've rented us a cabin in Brown County."
One of Harper's red eyebrows rose. "Why?"
"We're getting away from it all."
"I like it all."
"So do I, but I think it's making things worse." She took a deep breath then let it ease outward. "I'm tired of you and I always being attached to electronic devices or our computers. I'm tired of eating at a coffee table. I'm tired of talking only during commercials if we even talk at all." She held her niece's gaze. "We are going to have a good, old-fashioned family Christmas no matter what."
The teen jumped to her feet. "You can't do this to me!" She shook her head so violently her hair swung. "What about my friends?"
Morgan shrugged. "What about them? I'm sure they'll have their own holiday stuff to deal with, and they'll have to do all of it without you."
"Whatever." Harper grabbed her phone. "At least I can still text them."
"Yeah, here's the thing." She cleared her throat. When had she suddenly developed a problem swallowing? "You can bring your phone, but it won't work. There won't be wifi. I'm not even sure the 4G or roaming or whatever it is will work down there. It's all part of connecting with each other and not the online world. Remember?"
"You are so not right." Harper stormed out of the room, down the hall and into the guest bedroom. The door slammed after her.
"Maybe so, but this has to be better than what we've got." The last was said on a whisper. Teenage angst didn't matter. Interrupting the status quo would do them good, wouldn't it? She slumped into the chair. She only hoped she'd be able to break her own addiction to gadgets. Or take out. Oh, dear Lord, what would they do if there weren't restaurants nearby? They'd have hot water, surely. She groaned and hoped.
Seventy-two hours until the end of the world.
"How do you know it's a deer?" Morgan took a few steps backward and out of his arms. "It could be a bear or a wolf or a giraffe. You don't know."
How he adored her sense of humor. He laughed and the sound echoed in the silence, followed by more crashing in the trees. "Yeah, giraffes are a big problem in southern Indiana in the winter."
A frown pulled at her delicious mouth. "You know what I mean. About the bears or wolves though. Possibly giraffes was a bad example."
"Don't worry. Both aren't anxious to make Indiana their home. Though there might be coyotes around." He snickered and couldn't resist baiting her. "I wouldn't put it past a bigfoot or two to take a stroll through the woods at this time of night. They're supposedly real attracted to singing. Last summer, the team from BFRO was out here."
"Bigfoot Research Organization. Cool, quirky people. Never did sight one of the bi-peds, but they claim to have heard howls and wood knocks." A smile pulled at his mouth.
"Seriously?" The outcry rang on the shivery air. Her whole body tensed as if preparing to flee. She glanced back and forth with big eyes. "Let's go back. Right now."
"It's all right. I was kidding about the bigfoots, but some folks adamantly believe they exist. Me, I'll reserve judgment until I actually see one."
"And then what, share the forest with them?"
He shrugged. "Why not? The world’s big enough for everyone." Carter closed the distance between them. He slid his arms around her waist, and when she didn't pull away, he held her more comfortably in his embrace. "I'm sorry. It was a dirty trick. I didn't mean to scare you."
"I'm not scared." Her insistence didn't hold water since she shook with nerves.
This time he did dare. "Is that right," he murmured seconds before he gently pressed his lips to hers. The warmth and velvety softness of her mouth welcomed him home and he happily applied himself to the kiss. When she stirred and made a soft little sound at the back of her throat, he broke contact though he held her gaze. "How about now?" His voice sounded as breathless as hers had been earlier.
"Terrified." She looped her arms around his shoulders and tugged him closer. "However, it's probably nice to do something that scares us every day to become stronger, right?"
Carter grinned as his pulse soared and his body warmed. She hadn't rejected him. "Absolutely." For the first time since Jace was born, he gave himself over to the art of kissing a woman. Morgan fit in his arms as if she were made just for him. She neither pushed for greater intimacy nor did she deny him the access if he tried for it. He kept the embrace simple, uncomplicated, cozy. They didn't need to find out all of each other's secrets right this second.
About the Author
Sandra is a writer of romantic fiction. In the past couple of years she’s concentrated on funny contemporary romance as well as Regency-era romance, but she will, on occasion, write paranormal or sci-fi. Whether you like sweet or erotic heat levels, there’s something for everyone to fall in love with. She’s also a hybrid author, choosing to publish both with small presses and doing the indie thing.
Offered representation in February 2014 by Scott Eagan at Greyhaus Literary Agency for Victorian-era historical romances, Sandra’s been hard at work researching, planning and writing a new series. When not immersed in creating new worlds and engaging characters, Sandra likes to read, bake, taste new teas, watch The Big Bang Theory and Psych as well as Finding Bigfoot, and travel. Her favorite place to spend vacation hours is Walt Disney World: it’s where dreams come true and the soul can play. When she’s not writing or inventing new recipes, she spends time with her husband—goofing off and making moments count. Life’s too short to be serious all the time.
Sandra loves to hear from her readers. You can write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit her website at www.sandrasookoo.com, or look her up on Facebook and Twitter.