Abused, abandoned in childhood, Nora Jeans Jones can't love. Her sole purpose in life is to save enough money to find the siblings, who like her, were abandoned somewhere along the road by a rambling, drunk and abusive father. With her mother dead, Nora feels that it's her responsibility as the oldest female child to reunite the family. She's managed to stay unattached to anyone who might tie her down and prevent her from finding her family and starting over. Until, one day, a man unlike anyone she's ever seen, walks in to the truckstop cafe and orders coffee. He's dressed like someone out of the thirties, in a cat hat, knickers and houndstooth jacket. His car is an antique and he says he's in a Cross Country Race for antique cars. She's not worried about her attraction, because he'll have to leave. Only problem is, he won't. Cosseted, pampered and now jaded, Hayden Hunter, son of Hume Hunter, auto magnate, doesn't want to love. His parents want him to, so that he can provide an heir to inherit the car manufacturing company called Lessux. It's just that no one has ever touched him and he doubts anyone ever will. Until, that is, he walks into a truck stop cafe in Muleshoe Missouri and sees the perfect woman. Only problem is, she says she doesn't want him. Before he leaves, she'll want him or he'll know why.
A Hard Shell Word Factory Release
Susan Claybaugh Yarina had a terrible time with lying as a child. In fact by the time she was nine, she was having serious talks with God about this problem. It seemed she would rather lie than tell the truth. After all, it sounded so much better her way. When she told her mother her awful secret and just knew she was going to Hell for her sin, her mother enlightened her. "No sweetie," she said, "You are simply a story teller." With a gentle hand on her cheek she admonished, "Just be sure to tell people that you are telling stories."
Susan has been delighted to tell stories ever since and has done so the whole time she got married, became a wife, mother and registered nurse, horse rider and trainer, trail rider, rancher, artist, seamstress, business woman and finally writer. When she was a nurse she worked to make people feel better, and now writes for the same reason. An avid speaker about e-publishing and proponent of the medium, she is convinced this is the "wave of the future" and has spoken in person, on the radio and on television about it many times.
Though her two grown children, Natalie and Martin, (wife Jennifer) live on their own, her husband and hero, Joe, their two horses, one dog, two cats, and a wide variety of wildlife wander in and out of their home in the wild Superstition Mountains, east of Phoenix, Arizona where they laugh, love and live. Visit Susan's web site at:http://www.SusanYarina.com.
"Susan Yarina tells a story of family and enduring hardship. Nora's emotional growth is apparent as she truly begins to feel and trust and love. This is an excellent story about blue-collar life and overcoming odds."Marliese Thomas -- Affaire De Coeur Magazine
"I've read a lot of great romances in 30+ years of romance reading but this one is one of the best. Run, don't walk and for heaven's sake, don't saunter to your nearest bookstore. This is not a story that you want to leave on the shelves nor is it a story that you want to take the chance of not reading."Deborah Barber -- Escape to Romance Reviews
Tender and touching fittingly describes Nora's Turn. Ms. Yarina is awesome in telling a story that begins with great heartache and ends with love. Hats off to an author who is not shy about giving readers a tale that will forever stay in their hearts."Faith V. Smith -- Romantic Times Magazine
NORA JONES sat straight up in bed. Salty beads of sweat cascaded down her face, stinging her eyes. Her pulse pounded in her ears. She looked wildly around for what might have startled her awake. Moonlit wisps of lace at the window gently swayed in the night breeze and spring flowers scented the air's soft caress as it dried the moisture from her brow. She began to relax when anxiety ripped through her, a shuddering dread of the dream. That was it. In the dream, she'd been reliving the past again.
It was always the same.
* * *
NORA'S MOTHER had died from cancer when Nora was only ten. On that dreadful day, her father told them all to take as many clothes as they could get into a pillowcase, then loaded them into the old rusty Ford station wagon. When Perry, her brother, bumped her, the rust had smeared her grimy pillowcase. She'd stuck out her tongue at him and received a playful punch in return, then followed the others into the old car.
That was how the nightmare began, and that was how Nora lost her three siblings.
Each time they stopped, whether for gas, food, or to use the public rest rooms, her father calmly drove away, leaving the last childbehind. He ignored them running behind the car, just as he ignored their frantic shouts, and simply accelerated until the child was out of sight. Abandoned. No one attempted to stop them, proving to the children something their father had beaten into them since they were born. "No one cares about you. People only pretend to care. You're on your own."
The last to be left before Nora was nine-year-old June, abandoned at a Food To Go Restaurant in Illinois. Nora never forgot the way her sister looked when she came tearing out of the burger joint. Her blue eyes widened in shock, then she tucked her chin and sprinted down the road, oblivious of the traffic. Pure terror distilled into every word, she screamed, "Wait, Daddy, don't forget me."
Nora remembered looking around, trying to read signs, trying to remember, because, as young as she'd been, she'd known her father would not go back. Perry had pounded on their father's back, trying to make him stop. It was as if Ray, their father, had already checked out. Nora could only imagine how truly dangerous it had been for four-year-old Jamie.
* * *
ALL THESE years later, tears streamed down Nora's cheeks as she remembered Jamie's chubby face and dimpled cheeks.
Running her hands through her sweat-dampened hair, she swung her feet over the edge of the sagging mattress and settled them into her run-over loafers. She stepped into the partitioned off area that sufficed as a bathroom, waited for the water to clear the rust, then ran her hands under its crisp, cold stream. She grabbed the tattered washcloth off the peg in the wall, wrung it out and ran it over her superheated face and neck, which ended all thoughts of being able to go back to sleep.
A sponge bath was all she ever got until she went to the pool to swim on her day off. There, she always allowed herself a long, luxurious shower. She shrugged out of her thin nightgown with its faded flowers into the uniform that she had worn in one version or the other for the past ten years. It was so old-fashioned it could have belonged to a waitress in the fifties, navy blue, with its little white apron and shirtwaist style. Long ago she had stopped trying to get the little white cap to sit perched on her abundant strawberry blonde waves.
Her hair color irked her, as she hated anything that drew people's attention. The truckers called her "carrot-top." Invariably, the wives noted that she was not a red head, not really. Nora had heard one woman refer to Nora's hair as "Titian." She'd looked it up. It meant silvery-red-blond. She didn't trust people, though some seemed so pleasant she was tempted to smile and talk with them on occasion. Mostly, though, she just served their food and minded her own business, which was just fine with Jack and Martha Lukas.
Jack and Martha were kind. When Nora's father abandoned her, they'd taken her in and provided for her as their limited means allowed. But they were pretty typical of many of the hard-working immigrants of their parents' days and had inherited the close-lipped, joyless manner of their forebears. Kind words seemed beyond them and other than an occasional "Dat vill do," they rarely even spoke to Nora.
Nora remembered dimly that her father's brothers and sisters and their families hadalways seemed to talk and laugh, and talk about God, but that her father harped constantly about how you couldn't count on such people and how when times were really tough, they could turn on you. He'd always kept his children away from their cousins and not allowed them to play. Ray shouted that such children would infect his kids and turn their heads from work. His meek and often-ill wife, Linda, hadnever had the strength to dispute him. While Ray only occasionally slapped his wife or Nora and the other children, his contemptuous words felt as if they cut to the bone.
Nora had tried her best to soften the harsh existence for the youngest, Jamie, and how she'd often sang and played games with him. Her sister, June, only a year younger than Nora,had been her dearest friend. They'd worked together to make the others happy. Ray scoffed at them and called them " do-gooders and throw-backs". Nora couldn't imagine what he'd meant then and only had a vague idea now.
After giving her teeth and tongue a vigorous once over with the toothbrush, Nora applied the only vanity she allowed herself, a bit of soft peach lipstick. She looked for a final check into the cracked warped mirror. "That's as good as it gets." She grimaced. Grabbing her sweater off of the peg by the door to the hall that connected her add-on to the truck stop restaurant, she threw it around her shoulders and strode down the dark passage.
Memory of an over-tired trucker invaded her thoughts. He had been coming down the hall in the dark, thinking he was heading towards the rest rooms. Nora had been so startled by his huge form looming in the dark, she reckoned if she was a cat, she'd shed one life, easy, right before she screamed bloody murder. How old Jack had gotten there so fast, a baseball bat gripped in his hand, was beyond her, but he had, even though Jack and Martha's house was up the hill behind the gas station.
When they'd built on, it was easier and cheaper to convert the old storage area of the truck stop into something livable for Nora, than add on to their tiny one bedroom house. After that night, she'd heard the old couple discuss building a room on their house to have her closer by. Still, the years had passed and it hadn't happened.
Now, Nora kept her own bat by the bed.
The fragrance of rich coffee brewing beckoned Nora as she entered the restaurant. She inhaled deeply, anticipating her first cup of the day. The usual compliment of big rigs sat parked in the large lot outside. They used to wake her coming in, but she slept through it now, no matter how much rumbling of engines and hissing of brakes went on before, like old dogs, they settled on a place to light. The café opened at six a.m., but many driversgot in during the night to sleep, knowing that one of the best breakfasts in this part of Missouri would be on the table by six-thirty a.m., at the latest. Not one of the drivers would do anything so impolite as knock. Most of them waited with hands folded and the patience of saints, but some paced. Others talked softly among themselves.
Nora liked feeding the hungry truckers and she liked the look on their faces when they lifted the first steaming cup of coffee to their lips, so she hurried to let them in.
"Mornin', Princess." One of the regulars dipped his hat in her direction as she flipped the lights on. When the Princess thing hadstarted, she couldn't really remember, but now many drivers called her by that name. Princess, hah, she thought ruefully, as she placed the refilled salts, peppers and catsup on all of the tables.
"Morning, Tab. Your usual?" She flipped out her tablet and rolled it back to insert the carbon.
"Yes, ma'am." The trucker drummed the counter with his fingers to punctuate his order.