Cindy never had a real home or a real Christmas, and Jackson plans to leave home as soon as Christmas is over; they never planned on meeting each other, but now secrets from Cindy’s past threaten both of their futures…
The little white house on Main Street
in Buffalo Springs, Arkansas, is the only home Jackson Nelson has ever
known. With college behind him and both his sisters back in town to look
after their aging parents, Jackson knows now is the time to make his
big move. All he’s ever wanted is to move to New York and lead the
high-stakes life of a real estate investor. He’s determined to leave
town right after Christmas and never look back.
Cindy Kline has never had a real home
or a real Christmas. Abandoned by her father and raised by an unfit
mother, Cindy thought she had finally found the family she always wanted
when the man of her dreams asked her to marry him; but when his Navy
SEAL helicopter went down in a fiery crash before their wedding, Cindy
had nothing left to keep her in sunny California. Packing her meager
belongings into her old, beat-up car, Cindy drives straight to Buffalo
Springs and to the only real friend she’s ever had – Andi Nelson. With
Christmas around the corner, Andi, Jackson, and the whole Nelson family
convince Cindy to stay through the holidays even finding her a job that
may turn out to be a real career.
Just when Cindy is beginning to get
into the Christmas spirit, her life is once again up-ended – this time
by a series of break-ins and the news that her dangerous father may be
lurking nearby. Cindy has no idea that her father’s mysterious past will
put her life in jeopardy, and Jackson has no idea that the bright
lights of New York are but a flickering flame when it comes to the
sparks of the heart.
Release Date: November 11, 2022
Publisher: Chesapeake Sunrise Publishing
Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3B5L8IX
And unto you a child is born!” The child actor belted out the play’s most robust line with all the enthusiasm he could muster.
It was all Cindy could do not to jump to her feet and applaud. She laughed and clapped along with the rest of the audience. When the play was over, she went with the Nelson family to the town drug store that boasted an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and soda fountain in the back of the store. The proprietor had kept the doors open late to welcome the theatergoers.
“What would you like?” Jackson asked as Cindy eyed the many choices written on the blackboard.
“There are too many to choose just one.”
Jackson laughed. “Andi is partial to anything with peanut butter, and Helena always goes for something super sweet and fruity like cherry or raspberry. Mama likes plain old chocolate.”
She looked at Jackson. “And what do you like, Jackson?”
She saw his expression falter for just a moment, and a curtain of pink danced across his features, reminiscent of the curtains that closed at the end of the show. He blinked and just as quickly as the odd look appeared, it disappeared, and he broke into a wide grin.
“I always go for a good, old-fashioned root beer float with vanilla ice cream.”
“Would you believe, I’ve never had a root beer float?”
The look he gave her was one of exaggerated shock. “What? That might be the most un-American thing I’ve ever heard.” He clutched at his chest. “A shot to the heart.”
Cindy laughed, and Andi inserted herself between them to grab some extra napkins from the top of the ice cream display case.
“Is this guy bothering you?” she asked with a mock scowl.
Cindy shook her head. “Not at all. This has been one of the best nights of my life, and I’m going to top it off with my very first root beer float.”
Andi smiled. “I think that’s a great idea.”
On their turn, Jackson ordered for them both then reached for his wallet to pay, but Cindy put her hand on his arm.
“Jackson, no, I can’t let you do that.”
“Because I can pay for my own ice cream. You all have been so generous already.”
“Sorry, Cindy, but my daddy would skin me alive if he heard that I allowed a female to pay for her own ice cream.”
She frowned and said in a firm voice, “Jackson, this isn’t a date. I can pay for my own ice cream.”
Again, she saw his face redden. “I never said it was a date, and you should accept an act of kindness when presented with one.”
The cashier cleared her throat, and Cindy realized they were holding up the line. Embarrassed for drawing attention, she said, “You’re right. Go ahead and pay, but I owe you.”
“That’s fair. On the next family outing, you can buy me ice cream.”
Cindy accepted her root beer float from the young girl behind the counter and took a sip. She didn’t know how to respond to Jackson. She wasn’t part of the ‘family’ and didn’t know if she’d be there for the next outing. Rather than agree, she concentrated on her float and sat quietly while listening to the rest of them banter about Christmas and New Year’s and the June wedding. She couldn’t help but wonder what she would be doing by then and where she would be.
As she ate, Cindy felt a peculiar tingling on the back of her neck. She looked around, peering up and down the streets. Other families hovered nearby, eating ice cream, and several couples walked along the sidewalk. It looked like everyone in town had come out to see the play. None of the other theater goers paid any attention to Cindy or the Nelsons, and Cindy had no reason to be paranoid, but she could not shake the eerie feeling that she was being watched.
Amy Schisler is a novelist, poet,
children’s book author, spiritual writer, blogger, reader, and avid
traveler with years of professional experience in all manner of
writing-related endeavors. Whether she’s writing novels filled with
faith and inspiration, books that children will love, or her weekly blog
devoted to family life and faith, she loves connecting and resonating
with her readers. Amy’s first novel, A Place to Call Home, a romantic suspense, debuted in 2014, and her much-loved Chincoteague Island Trilogy has won numerous literary awards.
Amy lives on the Eastern Shore of
Maryland with her husband, Ken, their daughters, Katie and Morgan (and
sometimes their daughter and son-in-law, Rebecca and Anthony), and their
dogs, Rosie and Luna. When she’s not writing, Amy can usually be found
on a boat in the Chesapeake Bay or hiking in the Rocky Mountains, most
often with a good book in her hand.