I had to field this question from my 10-year-old this week. I broke my heart to hear her ask because this opens up so many more questions to come and I feel parts of her childhood are slipping away too quickly.
“What do you think?” I asked back, hoping she’d held onto the belief a little while longer.
She took a long pause before answering, “I think he’s real.”
I breathed a sigh of relief, but knew I had to be honest with her. After a lengthy discussion, I channeled my inner politician and I never confirmed or denied he existed. Instead, I explained the important point was that Santa represented faith, hope, and love and it didn’t matter if he was a real person or her very cool parents.
It’s all about the magic of it all, I explained and she seemed to be happy with that.
This is what my heroine, Dr. Jocelyn Promise from Deep in My Heart (Tuscany, Texas, Book 1) struggles with—faith in her fellow man, the hope of stability, and finding everlasting love.
Her heart still flip-flops over her high school crush Caleb Davis, the hero of our story, but she doesn’t believe in childish ideas. Girls like her don’t get the magical happily ever after.
All she’s doing is returning to town to pay back her time with the town’s education trust and has no intention of making waves.
An unexpected event with a rattlesnake sends her into the arms of Caleb, but not like you’d expect. Jocelyn stands between Riley, Caleb’s youngest, and one angry reptile, making him more than notice her. His faith is restored in life and love by her selfless act. Faith, hope, and love—seems to be a theme we see over and over again and one I hope my daughter always carries with her.
Here’s an excerpt and have a great holiday:
Returning her attention to the mountain in front of her, Jocelyn crossed her arms. Time had been very kind to Caleb Davis. If possible, he looked more toned today than he did in high school. His physique was only emphasized by the golden glow of his skin and his chestnut hair.
Standing with his hands on his hips, Caleb glared down at her. “Well, do you have anything to say for yourself, Missy?”
No matter how big or gorgeous Caleb Davis had become, she wouldn’t allow herself to be intimidated by him. Not this time. “You’re welcome.”
His whiskey brown eyes sparkled and the corners of his mouth lifted slightly before returning to a scowl. “You’re welcome? Is that all you have to say when you put my daughter’s life in danger so you can show her some snake that could kill her?”
Taking a step toward her, Caleb leaned down almost nose-to-nose with Jocelyn. “She’s a little kid and doesn’t know what dangerous is yet.”
He smelled of sandalwood and citrus. She felt her insides melt a little, but internally shook it off. Focus. You’re not in high school anymore.
Gritting her teeth, Jocelyn put her finger to his chest. “I put her life in danger? Are you kidding me? The world started to feel out of focus. I saved her from that thing.”
Riley smiled and blew several kisses to Jocelyn. “Thank you, Lady.”
“Anytime.” Jocelyn waved. “She cried out and I ran to her. The snake already had her cornered in the stall.”
The man’s chiseled face softened slightly and he stepped back. “She was cornered?”
“I came up here to check things out, see if anyone needed anything.” Waves of heat rolled over her. Jocelyn fanned herself. “Is it hot out here?”
“She’s a vet,” Norma added, then gave Jocelyn a concerned look. “You alright?”
“Fine.” Clearing her throat as her chest tightened, Jocelyn refused to be intimidated. “I found your daughter standing in a closed stall, over there, not moving. When I asked her what she was doing, I heard the snake. What is a little girl doing wandering around by herself anyway?” Wiping the sweat off her forehead with the back of her jacket, Jocelyn’s legs began to feel wobbly. “Am I the only one sweating?”
“Riley, why did you wander off?” Norma glared at Caleb. “What were you doing when all this happened?”
“I turned my back for one second, Mom.” Caleb shook his head.
“Man said I see horses.” The child nuzzled her grandmother’s face.
“What man?” Caleb’s eyebrows hit his hairline. He looked around quickly. “What did he look like, Riley?”
Stepping between Norma and Caleb, Jocelyn felt unsteady on her feet.”Don’t be too hard on her. Like you said, she’s only a little kid.”
It became harder to breathe and she peeled off her jacket, letting it fall to the ground. “It’s really hot out here and it’s only April.”
“Jocelyn, you don’t look so good”. Norma reached down and grabbed the coat.
The pain from the bites felt like liquid heat had been injected into Jocelyn’s arm. She ran her hand up her wrist and flinched.
“Damn.” Jocelyn found the bite marks, pulling back blood on her fingers. “I’d hoped it was a dry bite.”
The once confident man in front of her turned pale. He slid his arm around her waist, holding her upright.
“I can’t believe you did that.” Caleb’s deep voice filled Jocelyn’s ears. “You let that thing bite you, to save, save…”
“Careful Caleb Davis.” She grabbed onto his shirt in an attempt to stay standing. “You might have to say something nice to me this time.”
Taking a deep inhale, she could feel her eyes cross. “You smell good.”
The world spun as darkness shrouded Jocelyn’s vision.
A moment later, her body felt like a wet noodle as she heard the child yell, “Catch her, Daddy!”
During my journey to be a full-time storyteller, I made several stops along the way to be a waitress, bartender, bill-collector, bank teller, clerk at Blockbuster Video, dishwasher, prep-cook, a wanna be crypto-zoologist, and finally settling in as a pediatric and adult trauma/critical care nurse for 10 years before starting my career as a writer.Now, I spend my time in front of a keyboard, coming up with (hopefully) fantastic and entertaining stories to pay for my buying too many books habit and the endless cups of coffee I drink on a daily basis.The first book of my Tuscany, Texas series, Deep in My Heart, is on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.