About Love And Genius - Book 2: The Moore Family Series
The Moore family is a unique group, full of special talent, blinding intelligence, and a love so strong they can survive every challenge, no matter how dangerous. But, how did they get there? Take a look back and see how it all began. This is the love story of Kathryn and Joe, their first steps toward the incredible family they build together.
Dr. Kathryn Archer is a brilliant woman and a well-respected scientist. She is also beautiful, strong and painfully isolated from the world around her. A dark past has taught her to guard her heart and it is a lesson she learned too soon and far too well.
Major Joe Moore is a handsome man, a soldier at the top of the army’s most elite group. As a single father, Joe is dedicated to his son and his career and he has put the pain and loss of his past behind him.
When Joe is charged with solving a military mystery he seeks out Kathryn’s expertise to help guide him. Their sparks fly immediately and it’s soon more than one puzzle they are trying to solve. Can they find the answers they are charged to seek when all they can feel is the heat building between them?
This is the story of their beginning. Their first, heady, romantic, steps toward the incredible family they create together. A love story as remarkable as the family they become.
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Love and Genius Book Excerpt
Joe Moore would always consider the moment he met Doctor Kathryn Archer the most infuriating of his professional career. It was also the best moment of his life.
It began in the usual way, just a normal day that gave him no clue to the enormity of what was about to happen. He had managed to get his son to school on time, and surprisingly, with both shoes, a jacket and even his lunch all accounted for. That feat alone meant his day was a good one.
He had snagged the last hot donut from the break room for a perfect addition to his morning coffee. And now he was organizing his office in preparation for a brand new job. He liked the start of a new assignment. There was a feeling of anticipation, like beginning a journey, and that appealed to his sense of adventure. His days of rushing around the world for excitement and intrigue were over, and he took his thrills in smaller doses now.
A knock sounded at his door, and he looked up from the desk he was organizing to find the smiling face of Captain Kyle Harrison. “You getting all settled Joe?”
“Trying,” he answered. “My last assignment didn’t come with such a swank office, but I think I’m settling in.”
Kyle looked at the bare gray walls of a standard Pentagon office. He laughed. “Swank?”
“Yeah, well, I’ve been in the field or on the training grounds for years. Spending more time in the hot sun or wading through mud and water, than behind a desk, means having a place to hold my pencils seems like a luxury.” His buddy laughed at the joke as Joe tossed a handful of pens and pencils into a ceramic holder.
“What is that?” Kyle quirked an eyebrow at the vaguely cylindrical object that now held Joe’s writing implements.
“It’s a pencil holder, Captain,” Joe barked. “My kid made it.”
“It’s an excellent piece of sculpture, Major,” Kyle quickly corrected himself.
Joe looked at the present his six-year-old had given him last Father’s Day and smiled fondly. “Yes it is.” He dropped the last of his office supplies into a drawer and flicked it closed. “Did you need something?”
“Yeah.” The officer held out a file. “Your last assignment may have been in the elements, but you’ve moved on to command, all you’ll get around here is an avalanche of paperwork. Good thing this job is temporary.”
Joe reached out and took it. “I’ve been in a real avalanche,” he joked. “The paper kind might be more fun. And with my luck, the next assignment will have me in something worse than bad weather.” He flipped the folder open. “What is this?”
“The lab report you requested.”
“What does it mean?” Joe scanned the summary sheet.
“Hell if I know.” Kyle chuckled. “Those folks over at Quantum don’t speak human, just science.”
“What am I supposed to do with this if I can’t tell what it means?”
“Beats me.” His friend shrugged. “But you better figure it out. The Hill is watching this one. It’s bad enough to lose four soldiers in a training accident—it’s a shit storm when one of them is a Senator’s son. I saw another report on the news last night. Senator Pendleton isn’t going to let it go until he has answers.”
“So why not give it to JAG?” Joe wondered in a rare flash of insecurity. “I don’t have an experience as an investigator.”
“The old man thinks he needs a real soldier on the case—” Kyle leaned over and patted Joe on the shoulder, “—and you, my friend, are the best we got.” He stood up and headed for the door. “I guess that’s why you got the special assignment and the swank new office, so you can figure it out.”
“Don’t make me regret requesting you as an assistant, Harrison.”
“Never, sir.” Kyle stood at attention and saluted with overstated formality.
Joe’s exaggerated scowl quickly twisted to a smirk. They had been through too much, and been friends too long, for him to worry about Kyle taking his threat to heart.
Kyle paused in the doorway. “Hey, I’m up to grab a beer after work if you want to celebrate the new duty.”
“Thanks,” Joe answered without looking away from the file he’d begun reading. “But I can’t. I need to pick Parker up before six, he has a swim lesson.”
Kyle nodded. It had been a long shot. Single parents didn’t have much free time and Joe rarely agreed to any activity that would keep him from his son.
“Another time,” he said easily.
Joe called a good-bye and focused on the report. There were words on the page he couldn’t even hope to sound out, let alone interpret, and after ten minutes he sighed in frustration and snapped the file closed. “This is ridiculous,” he complained under his breath.
Standing, he jerked his uniform jacket from the back of his chair and hastily tugged it on. It fit snugly over his muscled arms and broad shoulders. Picking up the file, he rounded his desk and took long purposeful strides to the door. “I guess I’ll just have to ask,” he muttered as he pulled the door shut behind him.
The drive to Quantum Labs took little time. The state of the art facility had been constructed in an area of DC that had once been an embarrassment. The choice of location had been praised by the city leaders as a positive step to revitalize and energize the community, an effort by its wealthy benefactors to make a contribution to the city even as they pursued their own agenda.
Those benevolent aspirations were of little concern to him, but Joe was quick to appreciate the proximity to his new office in the Pentagon. He had been briefed on the capabilities of the research facility, and he had orders to cultivate a relationship with what was proving to be an invaluable tool to military and government agencies. Learning that he wouldn’t have to waste his work day commuting back and forth to the facility was a positive.
His military ID got him through the gate, but he chaffed at the delay when he was required to wait for entrance into the lab itself. When the guard finally confirmed that he was indeed the investigator assigned to the Pendleton inquiry, the buzzer sounded and he pulled the door open with an irritated yank. A second set of doors required he submit to a retinal scan, but the process took far less time than the guard’s confirmation. Annoyed by the delay but impressed with the security he moved into the lab proper.
He wasn’t sure what he had expected, but as he stepped inside he had to pause and gape. The place was everything he would have imagined at the words lab or high tech. The foyer in which he stood held a few green plants, and what had to be expensive art, that gave the small space a warm feel. But as he moved forward, it opened into a cavernous room with high ceilings, exposed metal beams and glass walls that gave it a sleek look. The place had a sterile, clean smell that was part hospital, part library, and there was a sense of quiet calm that made the thought and discovery that happened here almost palpable.
A series of raised platforms dominated the center of the room. Each had a metal exam table under heavy lighting, and Joe had a mental image of men in white coats gathered around in fascination as something like Frankenstein’s creature came to life. Shaking his head at the fantasy he looked around for some clue about where to find his new associate.
A small man crossed the room in front of him. To Joe he looked like the quintessential mad scientist with a curly mop of out of control brown hair and a white lab coat. Several days’ growth of beard darkened his chin and cheeks, adding to the impression he was too busy thinking to worry about such mundane matters. He was walking and reading through a large stack of paper, oblivious to anything around him, and he jumped when Joe spoke.
“I’m looking for Dr. Archer?”
The scientist recovered quickly. He turned, almost as if he were going to physically confront the question. “Who are you?” The mouse of a man demanded, with more authority than Joe had expected.
“Major Moore, special investigator for the Pendleton inquiry.” Joe tried not to sound as irritated as he felt over the question.
The scientist was still regarding him with suspicion, so he held up the file he couldn’t decipher. “I have a question about a report she sent regarding the investigation.”
“Jack Holmes.” The scientist identified himself, finally offering a handshake and a less confrontational tone. “Sorry, we try to limit Kathryn’s interruptions, and lately the requests for her time have been a bit intrusive.”
Joe’s memory quickly supplied the details he knew of the scientist. Jack Holmes was the money behind this operation. Like Archer, he held multiple degrees, but it was his family wealth which had allowed them to establish the lab in the first place. According to the dossier he was an excellent scientist, but he didn’t quite have the same brilliance as his partner. “Dr. Holmes, you’re Dr. Archer’s partner?” Joe asked.
“That’s me,” Holmes answered modestly. He turned and pointed across the large room. “Dr. Archer is in lab three. I’d introduce you, but I have something I need to attend to. Besides,” he added with a smirk, “You look like you can handle it.”
“A conversation with Archer,” Holmes said with a chuckle. “Good luck,” he called as he walked away.
Joe had never met a billionaire or a world’s leading expert on anything, but as he watched Holmes walk away, he wondered if the combination made the man so weird or if he just came that way.
Pushing thoughts of wealthy mad scientists from his mind he turned the direction Holmes had indicated and strode across the room with purpose. He had heard Archer was a tough nut, and Holmes’ attitude seemed to support that, so he mentally prepared himself as he stepped into the small lab. He had expected another strange academic like Holmes. He had expected the cold attitude he’d read about in the lab’s dossier. He had expected brilliance that threw out words like those on the report that had prompted this visit.
What he didn’t expect, was the strikingly beautiful woman who looked up when he entered.
“I’m busy,” she said dismissively and dropped her gaze back to the apparatus she was using.
Joe tried valiantly to ignore the reaction he was having. Damn, she was gorgeous. It was the only thought he could formulate. But when she summarily dismissed him without even a polite greeting his temper flared.
“Dr. Archer, I’m Major Joe Moore. I’m the investigator assigned to the Pendleton inquiry.”
She continued to ignore him and his temper spiked again.
“I need to discuss something with you.” His words came out a bit more harshly than he had intended and he grimaced.
Archer however, didn’t appear to be offended by his tone. “It will have to wait.” She maintained her focus. “As I already stated, I’m busy.”
“It’s about this report.” Joe waved the file in his hand.
“What about it?”
She still wasn’t looking at him, so he took a few steps forward. The action worked to draw her attention, but as she stood and lifted her beautiful blue eyes to his, he wondered at the suspicion he could see in them. He froze briefly under the intensity of her gaze then once again, he lifted the file.
Her eyes were incredible, and although he couldn’t look away from them, he ignored the thoughts they prompted. “I’m afraid I need some translation. I’m not sure what I’m reading.”
Archer rolled her eyes, breaking the lock he had with them, and spoke with exasperation. “Well you actually tried, that puts you up on everyone else it was sent to.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means the Army is woefully uninterested in facts, when they don’t fit their own agenda. I stand behind the report, Major. I mean every word of it.”
“That’s great,” Joe answered his tone slightly aggressive as he reacted to hers. “Now if I just knew what it said maybe I could clue the world’s leading military unit into what they’ve been missing.”
His retort reduced her reluctance to contrition. She lowered her eyes, seeming almost to turn inward rather than admit she had a change of heart. “Leave it. I’ll go back through it when I have time and dumb it down for you.”
“Well, you don’t have to say it like that.”
Her eyes snapped up again, and that willfulness was back. “Didn’t you just say you didn’t understand it?”
“Well, yeah, but it’s not like I don’t get any of it. I just need some help understanding the science.”
“Exactly. You need it dumbed down.”
She stared at him coolly and Joe fought for control. He wanted to shout at her. He wanted to demand she give this issue the kind of attention it deserved. He wanted to wipe that cold look off her face.
He wanted to kiss those damned red lips.
That terribly inappropriate thought brought him up short, and he took rigid control of his emotions. “I’d appreciate it if you could get back to me at your earliest convenience.” With quiet calm, he dropped the file on the table then turned. “The soldiers killed deserve our attention.”
Joe walked out with all the dignity his service and career had earned him. His back straight and his head high, he marched to the exit without a backward glance. He was boiling with an irritation that demanded an escape, but he would be damned if he gave that woman the satisfaction of knowing she had gotten to him.
But she had gotten to him. So, when he reached his car, he climbed inside and finally allowed himself the luxury of a response. “How can someone be so annoying in such a short time?”
Annoying was only the start. She was condescending and abrasive. She had dismissed him like some unimportant irritation, as if her time was far too valuable to bother with a conversation with the likes of him.
He closed his eyes, trying to gain control over this uncharacteristic turmoil he felt. He was an elite solider, he didn’t overreact, he didn’t get emotional. Except right now, he was definitely both of those things.
The moment his eyes closed, he saw her again, tall and thin but with the kind of curves that suggested a luscious body beneath that white coat. Her auburn hair was pulled back into a youthful, utilitarian ponytail, but he could image it spilling to her shoulders in warm waves if she released it. Her skin, pale and smooth—damn near perfect. The creamy complexion accentuated her eyes. Those eyes were what he remembered most. They were gorgeous, the most incredible blue he had ever seen. But it was more than the color. It was the sharp mind they revealed, and the strength that gave the impression she was made of steel, despite the soft body that said exactly the opposite.
Joe’s eyes snapped open and he rubbed a hand over his face. What the hell was wrong with him? He didn’t do this. He had barely noticed a woman, any woman, in over two years and he certainly didn’t objectify coworkers like they were some beauty pageant contestant. She was a scientist and a brilliant one if all he had heard was true. More importantly, she was his colleague. He was supposed to be cultivating a relationship between the Army and her lab, not ogling her. He was supposed to be using her expertise to reveal why four soldiers had died, not fantasizing about what she would look like with her hair down.
He took a deep breath and ordered his thoughts. He knew what to expect now, he would be prepared, he could control himself. Slipping his car into gear he headed back to his office, his mind firmly directed to the job that lay before him.
It worked fairly well. He was good at his job, and he had long ago acquired the kind of discipline necessary to avoid all types of outside stimuli—he could go days without food or sleep, could sit for hours in weather so cold or wet that his body tried to shut down and still he felt no discomfort. He could do what had to be done. The jobs the Army saw fit to burden on only a select few, he could do them without hesitation.
Keeping his mind focused on the investigation, and not those blue eyes, wasn’t the hardest thing he had ever done and he finished his day with an iron control on his thoughts.
One question, however, made his control falter.
“Hey, Bro. How was your day? Make any new friends?”
He froze for only an instant before taking the final step inside his house, but she saw it. His kid sister had always been far too interested in his personal life. She had followed him around when they were kids, spied on him when he was in high school, and she hadn’t lost her interest just because she was now a grownup.
“Joe?” she demanded with suspicion.
“It was a day, Charlie,” he answered evasively.
“Yeah, a day. I got up, I went to the office, I met some colleagues. It was a day.”
“What are you not telling me?”
He bit the inside of his lip trying to distract from the picture that had popped into his mind, trying to erase the image of those two blue eyes of steel and satin. “Where’s Parker?” He tried changing the subject for his own good. “We need to get going.”
Charlie waved toward the other room. “He’s changing clothes.” Her hair was darker than Joe’s, a coal black compared to his dark brown, but her eyes were the same chocolate brown and they revealed a hint of his same strength.
Those eyes were watching him now, with suspicion. She knew him too well and she wasn’t fooled. She stepped in front of her brother and looked him in the eye, squinting as she assessed his mood. “What’s up with you?”
“Nothing,” he scoffed. “It’s been awhile since I had a desk job, okay? I just need to adjust.”
“Okay,” she agreed, willing to accept that for now. She turned and called down the hallway as she walked toward the kitchen sink. “Parker! Your dad is home. Shake a leg, Bub.”
“He was good?” Joe flipped through the mail she had left for him on the counter.
“He’s the best nephew ever born.” She grinned. “Of course he was good.”
“You didn’t let him fill up on junk after school, did you?” he worried. “I don’t want him getting into bad habits.”
“What am I, a bad influence?” Charlie joked.
Joe leveled an accusing glare and she cracked. “Okay, I let him have a milkshake. But we were celebrating.”
She gave him an impish grin as she turned away from the now clean dishes that had been sitting in his sink. “We were celebrating the opportunity to have a milkshake.”
There was the sound of pounding footsteps on the wood floor, and then a small form in red swim trunks, and nothing else, came barreling through the doorway. Joe abandoned the lecture he wanted to give his sister and scooped up his son, as Parker leapt into the air. He held him close, feeling his tension fade, as two small tanned arms wrapped tightly around his neck.
Ruffling the long blonde hair, that was starting to curl wildly without a haircut to temper it, he kissed his son. “Hey, Bub. You ready for a swim?”
“Yep.” Parker crowed excitedly. “Charlie says it is a big pool!”
“It is?” Joe asked with enthusiasm. “I bet you can’t swim the whole thing.”
“I can too,” Parker giggled. “I’ll show you.”
“Do you have to make everything a challenge?” Charlie scolded with a laugh as she picked up her purse. “Honestly, Joe, it’s a swim lesson not a competition.”
“It makes it fun,” he answered, and Parker nodded in agreement.
Charlie rolled her eyes and shook her head, making her dark locks sway. “You are two peas in a pod,” she teased. Leaning in, she puckered for a kiss, and Parker dutifully responded, adding a quick hug as well. She dropped another quick peck on his forehead and then stood on her tiptoes to give Joe’s cheek the same treatment. “I’ll pick him up at school tomorrow, same time.” She headed for the door. “Have a good night.”
“Thanks,” Joe called after her.
Charlie paused in the door and gave him another long look. “You sure you’re okay?”
“I’m fine,” he growled in warning.
“Okay, okay, don’t get all green beret on me.” She laughed as she stepped through the door.
“I’m fine.” Joe repeated to Parker.
“Daddy, I’m ready to go.” He squirmed excitedly, a huge grin on his face.
“Okay.” Joe dropped him to his wriggling feet. “Let’s go little man, let’s see if you can swim that pool.”
“I can do it!”
Beaming, Joe opened the door and followed his son outside. “You are going to have to prove it, little man.” Thoughts of irritating scientists slipped from his mind—the joy he found in spending time with his boy was a better weapon against her allure than all his discipline.
About Sara Kay Jordan
Sara Kay Jordan holds a BA in English, and is a lifelong daydreamer, a combination that prepared her in equal measure to pursue her dream to be a writer. Her first novel, Snatching Genius, was released in 2011 to warm praise. Her family includes two grown children and one cranky old dog. Sara lives in Springfield, MO.
Follow her online at sarakayjordan.com and on Twitter @sarakayjordan