The Crossroads Cafe, p.1Deborah Smith
Table of Contents
Prologue - Cathy Crossroads, North Carolina
Chapter 1 - Thomas Ten Months Earlier
The Day of the Accident
Cathy Beverly Hills, California
Chapter 2 - Thomas Wild Woman Ridge
Chapter 3 - Cathy Los Angeles, The Burn Ward
Chapter 4 - Cathy Contact Is Made
Chapter 5 - Thomas The Privy
Chapter 6 - Thomas Baptist Stone Monkeys
Chapter 7 - Cathy The Phantom of Hollywood
Chapter 8 - Cathy The Seclusion Worsens
Chapter 9 - Thomas Cora And Ivy Arrive
Chapter 10 - Cathy The Darkening Ruby
Chapter 11 - Cathy Decision Time
Chapter 12 - Thomas The News Articles
Chapter 13 - Thomas Thanksgiving
Chapter 14 - Cathy The Next Morning
Chapter 15 - Thomas One Week Later
Chapter 16 - Cathy At Delta’s House That Night
Chapter 17 - Thomas The Next Morning
Chapter 18 - Cathy The Log Splitter Girls
Chapter 19 - Thomas Chicago
Chapter 20 - Thomas The Dark Side Of Winter
Chapter 21 - Thomas Sherryl’s Letter To Her Sister
Chapter 22 - Cathy Halfway to Dawn
Chapter 23 - Cathy Beginnings
Chapter 24 - Cathy February
Chapter 25 - Cathy Clearing The Way
Chapter 26 - Thomas April
Cathy - The Proposal
Chapter 27 - Cathy At The Crossroads
Chapter 28 - Cathy Restoration
Chapter 29 - Cathy The Speech
Delta’s Biscuit History and Recipes
Some Good Biscuit Recipes
THE CROSSROADS CAFÉ READING GUIDE
The WaterLilies Series
ALL GOD’S CREATURES
THE MOSSY CREEK
THE MOSSY CREEK
THE MOSSY CREEK HOMETOWN SERIES
SWEET TEA & JESUS SHOES
MORE SWEET TEA
Praise for Award-Winning Author Deborah Smith
“What is it about Southern writers that make their words on paper become audible voices in readers’ heads? Pat Conroy does it, with long, languorous sentences and poetically phrased prose. Roy Blount uses folksy characters and good-old-boy humor. And countless others have earned a voice over 200 years or so. Add to that list Deborah Smith.”
—The Colorado Springs Gazette
“Smith is an exceptional storyteller . . . Exciting and heartwarming.”
“A storyteller of distinction.”
“Deborah Smith is one writer who definitely has become a standard of excellence in the arena of contemporary women’s fiction.”
—Harriet Klausner, Amazon.com’s top reviewer
“Readers of the novels of Anne Rivers Siddons will welcome into their hearts Deborah Smith.”
—Midwest Book Review
“[Deborah Smith] . . . just keeps getting better.”
“For sheer storytelling virtuosity, Ms. Smith has few equals.”
“A stellar romance,”
—PEOPLE Magazine, When Venus Fell
A Place To Call Home
“A gracefully written and absorbing tale . . . seductive . . .a page-turner.”
“Laughter, wonderment, unrequited love! Meddling old biddies, warring families, lovers reunited. What more could you want?”
—Rita Mae Brown
“A rich evocation of family and place.”
“A must-read . . . sweet, salty, passionate and wise.”
“These characters leap off the pages. A moving story that holds you to the end and has all the warmth and tenderness of LaVyrle Spencer at her best.”
“This incredibly magical book will bring a tear to your eye and a smile to your heart. Storytelling at its VERY best!”
“Clear the decks when you read this book because you’re not going to be able to put it aside until you’ve finished the last delicious page.”
“An engrossing read. The reader’s sense is that these two could only belong to one another, and no one else. I also loved the rich detail of family life, especially the uniquely Southern aspects.”
“Rarely will a book touch your heart like A Place To Call Home. So sit back, put your feet up and enjoy.”
—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Stylishly written, filled with Southern ease and humor.”
—The Tampa Tribune
“A beautiful, believable love story.”
“This is Southern storytelling at its best.”
—Cox News Service
“Enchanting new novel . . . a beautiful love story of reunion.”
—The News & Observer, Raleigh, NC
On Bear Mountain
“Beautifully written . . . A shimmering web of sorrows and joys.”
“A poignant love story . . . Highly recommended.”
“One of those rare novels that stay in your heart long after the final page is turned.”
—New York Times bestselling author, Kristin Hannah
“As addicting as chocolate.”
—Baton Rouge Advocate
“Haunting . . . a rock-solid romantic mystery . . . reaffirms that goodness in human nature will prevail.”
“A rich and passionate novel.”
—Pat Cunningham Devoto
“A splendid story of love and honor . . . written with easy charm and sassy wit . . . a romance to treasure.”
—Booklist (starred review)
—Bestselling author, Mary Jo Putney
“A bodacious tale of Southern family heroism.”
“The story is fresh and passionate . . . A tale about a strong-willed woman out to protect her heritage, her legacy, and, most important, her son.”
—The Columbus Dispatch
Stone Flower Garden
“Readers will be wringing out their hankies.”
“Gripping and atmospheric.”
—San Jose Mercury News
“Romance is about the future, and everyone gets a new one in this big-hearted Southern tale.”
—The Washington Post
The Crossroads Café
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the products of the author’s imaginations or are used ficticiously. Any resemblance to actual persons (living or dead), events or locations is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2006 by BelleBooks, Inc.
Printed and bound in the United States of America. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
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First Edition September 2006
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Cover design: John Cole and Martha Crockett
Cover photo: Andrew Gunners
Beauty in the flesh will continue to rule the world.
The ‘feminine’ woman is forever static and childlike. She is like the ballerina in an old-fashioned music box, her unchanging features tiny and girlish, her voice tinkly, her body stuck on a pin, rotating in a spiral that will never grow.
You know, when I first went into the movies Lionel Barrymore played my grandfather. Later he played my father and finally he played my husband. If he had lived I’m sure I would have played his mother. That’s the way it is in Hollywood. The men get younger and the women get older.
Cathy Crossroads, North Carolina
Before the accident, I never had to seduce a man in the dark. I dazzled millions in the brutal glare of kliegs on the red carpets of Hollywood, the flash of cameras at the Oscars, the sunlight on the beaches of Cannes. Beautiful women don’t fear the glint of lust and judgment in men’s eyes or the bitter gleam of envy in women’s. Beautiful women welcome even the brightest light. Once upon a time, I had been the most beautiful woman in the world.
Now I needed the night, the darkness, the shadows.
“Put the gun down,” I ordered, as I let my bra and sweatshirt fall to the ground. Behind me, a full, white moon hung in a sky of stars above the winter mountains, silhouetting Thomas and me. My breath shivered in the cold air. Beneath my bare feet, the pasture grass was brown and frosted, glistening in the moonlight. There were no other lights in our world, not the pinpoint of a lamp in some distant window, not the wink of a jet high overhead. There might be no other souls in these ancient North Carolina ridges that night. Only Thomas, and me, and the darkness inside us both.
“I’m warning you for the last time, Cathy,” he said, his voice thick but firm. He wasn’t a man who slurred his words, no matter how drunk he was. “Leave.”
I unzipped my jeans. My hands trembled. I couldn’t stop staring at the World War II pistol he held so casually, his right arm bent, the gun pointed skyward. Thomas had been a preservation architect; he respected fine craftsmanship, even when choosing a gun with which to kill himself.
Slowly I pushed my jeans down, along with my panties. The scarred skin along my right thigh prickled at the scrape of denim. I angled my right side away from the moon, trying to illuminate only the left half of my body, my face. Half of me was still perfect. But the other half . . .
I stepped out of my crumpled clothes and stood there naked, the moonlight safely behind me. The night breeze was a tongue of embarrassment, licking my scarred flesh. My hand twitched with the urge to cover my face. How badly I wanted to hide the awful parts. Thomas watched me without moving, without speaking, without breathing.
He doesn’t want me. I said quietly, “Thomas, I know I’m no prize, but would you really rather kill yourself than touch me?”
Not a word, still, not a flicker of reaction. I could barely see his expression in the shadows, and wasn’t sure I wanted to. Shame washed over me like a cold tide. Me, who had once preened for the world without a shred of self-doubt. I turned my back to him, trying not to shiver with defeat. “Just put the gun down. Then I’ll get dressed, and we’ll forget this ever happened.”
I heard quick steps behind me, and before I could turn, his arms went around me from behind. His hands slid over my bare skin. I twisted my head to the pretty side but he bent his lips to the other and roughly kissed the ruined flesh. I cried with relief, and so did he. No matter what might happen to us later, I saved his life that night. And, for that one night, at least, he saved mine. Hope is in the mirror we keep inside us, love sees only what it wants to see, and beauty is in the lie of the beholder.
Sometimes, that lie is all you need to survive.
Thomas Ten Months Earlier
The Day of the Accident
It was never a good thing when I woke up at sunset on a Saturday in the back of my pickup truck in the café’s graveled parking lot. I had a fierce hangover, and I’d spent all day snoring in a sleeping bag in the truck’s rusty bed. Not long after settling in the Crossroads I’d proudly rescued the truck—a sixty-year-old Chevrolet—from a mountain junkyard. I was an architect, not a mechanic, but since my specialty had always been preservation I couldn’t resist the challenge.
Admittedly, my rusty but classic Chevy deserved better than to spend its weekend nights under the café’s giant oak trees. The trees housed a large clan of bad-ass squirrels who crapped on the truck and on me. They were now cheerfully showering the truck, and me, with rotten acorn shells as they did their spring housecleaning.
When shell fragments bounced off my forehead I opened my bleary eyes. I nearly gagged when I recognized the musky, ballsy, bad-feta-cheese scent that filled my nose. Squinting, I stared up into the face of a small, white goat. He stood beside my head, placidly chewing. Bits of black plastic fell from his lips. Like a dog enjoying a bone, he was demolishing my new cell phone.
The Crossroads Cafe by Deborah Smith / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes