At a children's Halloween carnival, a Gypsy fortuneteller predicts a new love for both Cindy and Gage. When the two meet over a poorly carved pumpkin, love flickers to life and the stars begin to align.
But the odds of finding a new love later in life seem insurmountable, and the prophecy seems too good to be true. After all, Gage has been burned before and Cindy doesn't believe in fortunes or second chances.
Will doubt overshadow their attraction or has love already been set in motion? Can the star-crossed pair put their faith in the love that was foretold? Can they believe in each other?
“I'm sorry, Jack.” Cindy Taylor looked down at her six-year-old grandson, then glanced again at the sad excuse for a jack-o-lantern they were trying to carve together. Winning the school carnival pumpkin judging competition was going to be out of their reach tonight, Cindy thought ruefully. “I guess I'm out of practice. It's been a lot of years since I did this last.”
Jack patted her arm seriously. “It's all right, Nana. It's been a long time since you had a kid. You'll do better next year.” But Cindy could see the disappointment in her grandson's features—the deep brown eyes and square chin that reminded her so much of his father it hurt.
The school gymnasium had been transformed with colored lanterns and Halloween decorations in orange, black, and purple hues. Crepe paper streamers hung across the rafters and cutouts of witches, spiders, and black cats were attached at different heights.
The school principal, Mr. Jameson, and several of the teachers were in costume around the room, distributing candy, and hosting the activities and games. Cindy had even brought herself to enter the gypsy fortune teller's booth earlier, pushing aside the feeling of unreasoning trepidation. Thankfully, her “fortune” proved so ludicrous she'd barely managed to keep from laughing before she exited the small enclosure. Finding a second chance at love at her age was a miracle not even a real gypsy could arrange.
“Really,” Jack said, fidgeting beside her now. “It looks...all right.”
Jack's attempt at comforting her brought a lump to her throat. As much as she'd lost this past year, he had lost more. Her son and daughter-in-law had been killed in a car accident. Jack had lost his entire world. And now, he was trying to console her over the tacky job she'd done of pumpkin carving.
This was supposed to be fun. An alternative to going door-to-door for treats. A wave of nostalgia washed over her as she remembered past Halloween holidays. Her son, Brian, had always loved this holiday above all others. But for her, the noise of the crowded room suddenly seemed overwhelming. She wanted it to be over, and she wanted to be someplace soothing. Someplace quiet.
“Nana? Is it all right if I go over there?”
A group of boys stood waiting their turn to go into the inflatable castle. Cindy smiled. “Sure. You go ahead, sweetie. I'll see if I can't make ol' Snaggletooth, here, a bit more presentable.”
He turned at the excited voice, a smile lighting his face. “Star!” He ran forward and grabbed his classmate by the hand. Jack pulled the girl toward her, and Cindy bent low as he introduced them.
“Nana, this is my very best friend, Star Ross. She's the one I told you about that can play the wooden flute, and she makes up her own music, too!”
Cindy looked into the girl's face. Her Indian heritage was evident in the high cheekbones, dark eyes, and her coal black hair.
“And she can dance!”
Cindy couldn't help but laugh at Jack's enthusiasm. “Hello, Star. I'm Jack's grandmother.”
“Wow. You don't seem like a grandmother!” The smile never left Star's face. “You're too young. And pretty!”
Before Cindy could reply, a male voice interrupted. “Hey, where's my girl gotten off to?” Cindy looked up to see a tall, muscular man coming toward them. There was no doubt he was related to Star. His black eyes flashed with the same mischievous glint, his skin the same gorgeous olive color as Star's.
“Hey, Jack!” He reached to shake Jack's hand as he joined them.
“I'm Star's dad, Gage Ross.” He gave Cindy a slow smile, extending his hand to her. She took it, mesmerized, barely remembering her manners at the last second.
“Cindy Taylor. I'm...uh, Jack's—” She broke off, suddenly hating the word ‘grandmother'. There was only one word worse in her book, and Jack chose that particular time to use it.
“This is my granny, Mr. Ross. I just call her Nana, though.”
Cindy couldn't remember ever wanting a roll of duct tape as badly as she did right at the moment. She felt the flush burning her neck and face in record time.
Gage seemed to understand. He regarded her gravely, not glancing at Jack. “You have a lovely Nana, Jack. Thank you for the introduction.”
“Can we go now?” Jack asked. “I see Derek over there.”
“Sure,” Cindy answered softly. She glanced down to give Jack a reminder to be careful, only to find that he and Star were already halfway across the gym floor.
“I've been waiting a long time to meet you,” Gage said. “Seems like forever.”
Cheryl was born in Duncan, OK, and grew up in Seminole, OK. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma, and holds a B.A. in English. Cheryl lives with her husband in Oklahoma City, OK, where she has been for the past 29 years.
Writing is so much a part of her life that recently, she and long-time friend Livia Reasoner, opened a publishing house for western and historical stories.
For adult contemporary/futuristic stories and novels, check out their imprint FIRE STAR PRESS http://firestarpress.com.