Authors: Nat Burns
Tags: #LGBT, #Fiction, #Lesbian, #Romance, #(v5.0), #Healing the Past
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Delora November is a survivor—ask anyone in Redstar, Alabama, and they will tell you that. Her ex-husband put her in a burn ward and she came fighting back. She works three jobs and on the surface she’s keeping it together.
Redstar itself works its own magic. When the thought of yet another hospital is too much, Delora turns to healer women she’s heard might help. In the quiet, breathing depths of Bayou Lisse she meets Sophie Cofe.
It seems like magic indeed when Delora finds answers to questions she had yet to ask and cures for ills she had thought beyond fixing. But underneath her happiness there is still a lurking evil that can take away everything Delora—and Sophie—hold dear.
Table of Contents
Copyright © 2015 by Nat Burns
Bella Books, Inc.
P.O. Box 10543
Tallahassee, FL 32302
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
First Bella Books Edition 2015
eBook released 2015
Editor: Medora MacDougall
Cover Designer: Linda Callaghan
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
Other Bella Books by Nat Burns
Two Weeks in August
House of Cards
The Quality of Blue
The Book of Eleanor
I offer many thanks to my editor, Medora MacDougall. She enjoys my work almost as much as I do and makes the alterations a joy.
I need, also, to acknowledge the southern half of the United States. Your magic and mystery speak to me. Your hidden beauty and amazing people have inspired this book.
About the Author
Author Nat Burns is a writer and editor who now lives in Albuquerque, NM after retiring from a medical publishing career in Virginia. She is primarily a romance novelist but has been known to pen some sci-fi and horror from time to time under several pseudonyms. Nine novels have been published in the past three years and her work has appeared in numerous anthologies. Complete information and samples of her work can be found at www.natburns.com.
This work is dedicated to my family, friends and faithful readers—those who always love me and support me as I travel absently through my fictional worlds.
Summer in Redstar, Alabama, usually settled in for a long, unwelcome stay. The people of the town regarded summer as an intruding mother-in-law dragging suitcases packed with heat and suffocating humidity. And though the sin of rudeness was employed by mid-July, there was no relief until her departure in mid-October.
Delora November was already harboring her own rude thoughts about the weather, even though by early May it had yet to sear the tiny leaves of the willow tree into brown ash. The thought of another long, humid summer of work and more work was almost more than she could tolerate. She wished she could leave, could shake the dust of this town off her discount store-brand athletic shoes. And she would, really, if only Louie would let go of her life.
The thought of Louie made nausea steal over her and she moved quickly from the back door into the relative gloom of Blossom’s Diner. Ancient Johnny Pellen was telling the story about the black bear again and the comforting cadence of it soothed Delora’s roiling stomach. She fetched herself a short glass of unsweetened iced tea from the urn and downed it fast, no sugar.
“Well, it weighed in at might near six hundred pounds and they say bears in that part of ’Bama never get that big,” Johnny summed up.
The tourist who was listening to Johnny ramble merely shook the
he was perusing and made polite noises of interest.
Delora wiped an already gleaming counter and let her eyes roam the diner. The Jacksons were still okay over in the smoking section. Marina had given them the bill and they were lingering over a meal-ending cigarette. They were regulars and would let Marina or Delora know if they needed anything else.
She was most concerned about the family of five that was occupying booth eight. The booth abutted one of the huge panes of glass that made up the front wall and she was worried about young Jimmy’s airplane. It was a giant plastic jet airliner, and she was just waiting for one of the wings to take out the window. Jimmy was piloting in earnest too, even climbing onto the seat next to his bedraggled mother and banking the jet over her head and the head of his little sister as well.
The father, a quiet older man, was trying to study the menu while dealing with Jimmy’s younger brother who was about eighteen months old and experiencing everything on the table. The father would read one sentence of the menu, grab little brother’s hand, pry something from his clenched fingertips, then intone, “Jimmy, son, will you please sit down!” before returning to try the menu again.
“Want me to get them?” Marina asked, coming up close behind her.
“No, I already got them coffee. My table, I’ll do it.”
Concern sparked in Marina’s dark eyes. “You don’t look so good. Are you sick today?” Her accent was a pleasant blend of America and her native Mexico.
Delora took a minute to admire Marina’s inky black hair and finely defined features. “Nope, I went outside for a minute and the heat got to me. I’m fine.”
She fetched the tattered order book from her pocket, checked to make sure she had a pen, then moved with expert grace across the floor.
“So, have y’all had a chance to decide?” she asked, reaching to right the saltshaker the baby had tumbled. She absently tossed some of the spilled salt over her left shoulder and caught Jimmy’s eye, giving him such a look that he parked the airliner and sat next to his sister, pretending to peer at the menu.
“I’ll have two Bright-Eyes for the kids, with milk, and I’ll have the Hearty Breakfast platter.” The mother had probably been up since dawn. Traveling with a family this young couldn’t be easy.
“And the baby?” She made a face at the toddler and he giggled and squirmed on his father’s lap.
“The baby can just eat off my plate, if that’s okay?”
“Sure. And you, sir?”
“I think I’ll have the Hearty as well, but can I have sausage instead of the bacon?”
“Absolutely,” Delora said as she gathered up the menus. “You’ll like our sausage. It’s local and fresh ground. Good and spicy.”
Interpreting her comment as interest, the man transformed before her eyes, changing from a tired, beaten-down father into the young rapscallion he must have been before settling down and raising a trio of children.
“I do like it spicy. Just how spicy is this local grind?” he asked, his voice light and flirtatious.
Delora sighed. There was something too compelling about conquering new territory for most men. She had no doubt that Mr. Tired Face would step out on Mrs. Tired Face the first real opportunity offered him. She glanced at Mrs. Tired Face and saw her shuttered disgust at her husband’s behavior. The kids all sensed the change in Daddy as well, for they had stilled to watch the exchange.
“Not too spicy, don’t worry,” she said as she left the table.
She tore off the middle copy of their order and placed it on the carousel for Tommy Jay, then started a run of fresh coffee. The Jacksons left, still talking animatedly, and Delora wondered how their marriage had lasted so long. Maybe it was because they had so much in common. Tyrone Jackson was a professor at the University of South Alabama over in Fairhope, and his wife, Sharell, was a librarian. It seemed they always had something interesting to talk about.