At Last! A Novel of Love's Delay [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Christina Rhys
eBook Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
eBook Description: They Had Abandoned All Hope Of Love! Two lonely people who have all but abandoned their dreams of ever finding someone to love find themselves entering the winter season in the woods of Michigan. Little do either of them know that this winter will prove to be the winter of their lives. Nory Douglas has fulfilled all of the roles of dutiful daughter, loving mother, and obedient wife. Now she finds herself no longer having a role to fulfill. Finally Nory has the chance to be "just Nory". Whomever that may prove to be. As she embarks on a journey to Michigan to try and discover who exactly Nory Douglas is little does she suspect that she may find in Michigan the role that has been waiting for her all of this time and the one role that will bring her the greatest happiness. Lee Lowrey has abandoned all hope of ever having a normal life again. Handicapped by a cruel twist of fate he has retreated to the woods of Michigan to live out the remainder of his life in solitude. In his mind he believes that no woman could ever accept his handicap, but in his heart the desire to prove this to be untrue still burns fiercely. The snows fall early this year in Michigan. And with the falling snow two lonely people, each needing the touch of a special love in their lives, are AT LAST brought together. But with all of the pain that their hearts have already endured will each of them be able to recognize and accept the bond that pulls them relentlessly together and love one another unconditionally long after the snows have gone?
eBook Publisher: Renaissance E Books/Sizzler Editions
Fictionwise Release Date: January 2007
17 Reader Ratings:
"You are making a terrible mistake, Nory." Kira frowned as she watched her neighbor carefully remove clothes from her antique cedar chest of drawers and place them fastidiously in the large, black leather suitcase that lay open upon the bed. Kira did not understand what could be going through Nory's head. Why would she suddenly decide to pack up and move off to Michigan? As far as Kira knew Nory had never been in Michigan in her entire life. Could she possibly have a long distance lover she had not told her about? At that thought Kira tilted her head slightly sideways squinting at her friend's back as if she could see inside Nory causing the short ringlets of blonde curls that covered her head to dance merrily in the bright sunlight that slanted into the bedroom. A mystery lover, and a long distance one at that? Kira, girl, you are losing it. Nory would be the last person on earth to have anything that adventurous in her life and you know it.
As if Nory had heard Kira's thoughts she suddenly spoke. "Kira, have you ever been to Michigan?"
Starting at the sound of Nory's voice Kira momentarily wondered if she had spoken aloud and not realized it. She squinted at Nory's back and decided her thoughts were safe. If Nory had actually heard the part about a mystery lover she would be throwing something at her head right about now. Nory was, without a doubt, the most straight-laced and least likely person to have any kind of lover, much less a long distance one.
Sighing in spite of herself, Kira pursed her lips and wondered again what she could have done that she hadn't already tried to get her best friend to loosen up a bit, and in the process maybe find somebody she could love. She had tried blind dates with all the available men she knew. She tried pushing Nory into joining some volunteer groups in their area. She even incurred the wrath of a whirlwind attack of Nory's temper when she registered her at Match.Com without telling Nory first. That was one of the worst mistakes you made, Kira girl. Who would have suspected that our quiet, proper Nory could blister a person's hide when she finally lost that temper of hers. Unbelievable.
Walking over to the closet Kira took down several of Nory's best dresses on their hangers and carried them over to the bed. Laying them flat on the pale yellow spread Kira smoothed the top dress with her hand as she answered her friend's question. "You asked me that already, Nory. You know I've never been to Michigan."
Nory stopped folding her clothes and looked at Kira. "I know. I remember. So if you've never been there why have you told me about a thousand times that I'm making a mistake?"
"Because I think you are!"
"Kira, you're wrong. I've given this a lot of thought and I have some very good reasons for moving."
"You aren't moving. You're changing your entire life. And I don't understand why."
Straightening from the bed Nory rubbed the small of her back and stared out the window in front of her. Her eyes looked, but didn't really see anything. How could Kira understand? She couldn't. No one would understand unless they had been through the same things she had. Even with that, Nory knew that all people didn't respond to the same things in the same way. If Kira had lived the exact same life as she had lived Kira no doubt would not be making the same choices now that she was making. But Kira was her best, and truthfully, only friend, so it was important she try to make her understand.
Turning to the doorway Nory reached out and grabbed Kira's hand. "Come on. I need a break, and I hear that pitcher of sweetened iced tea in the fridge calling out my name. It's a gorgeous fall day out there so let's get some tea and go outside and enjoy it."
Kira smiled, showing off the huge dimples in both cheeks. "Maybe that hunky neighbor guy of yours will be outside cutting his grass again."
"That hunky guy is only thirty-five, Kira."
"So! Don't you ever read Cosmo? December/May romances are all the rage now."
Nory rolled her eyes as she and Kira stepped into her bright kitchen. "I don't think so, Kira. December/May affairs maybe, but not romances. The sun has never risen on a day when a younger man will ever look at an older woman as anything other than a sex toy for his immediate gratification. As soon as his eyes light on a young, perky-breasted, twenty something bimbo he'll drop the silly old woman so fast she won't have time to add her Poli-Grip to her dentures before she tries to kiss him good-bye."
Grabbing the frosted glasses of iced tea Nory had poured Kira giggled in spite of herself. "Dentures? I wasn't thinking quite of that much of an age difference. Since when have you become so cynical anyway?"
"I was born cynical."
"No, you weren't, Nory. This is a new attitude I'm seeing in you and I'm not sure I like it. You'll never find anybody with an attitude like that."
The two women had reached the old aluminum glider that sat under a huge maple tree in Nory's back yard. The old glider had belonged to her grandfather and Nory realized that her neighbors would prefer she get rid of it in favor of something more modern. But the memories she had of the hours she and her grandfather spent sitting on this old glider, laughing and talking before he died, were far too precious to her to ever consider letting the old glider go. As the cooling breeze rushed through the large canopy of maple leaves overhead both women sat down and began the soothing motion the glider afforded. For long minutes they sat in silence, appreciating the joys of breezes on hot fall days, rubbing cold iced tea glasses against sweaty foreheads, and knowing that with special friends silences didn't always have to be filled with chatter.
"Kira, I'm not looking to find a new man for my life right now. I think I need some time by myself. I've been through a lot in the past ten years and I need to sort through it."
Kira frowned. "There you go spouting all of the psych mumbo jumbo. I know it was rough during John's illness--all the surgeries and chemo--and for what? He died anyway. I know your heart had to have been broken..."
In a rather curt voice, Nory interrupted her. "Kira, you don't know what you're talking about. Things aren't always what they seem to be."
"What in the world are you talking about, Nory? I know your husband died slowly and painfully and that had to have eaten out your insides. He was your husband."
Nory leaned her head back and relished the feel of the warm sun on her face. She hesitated before answering her best friend. How much do I tell her? Do I finally tell her all of it, or should I let her go on thinking John was a good husband? For a full minute Nory hardly breathed as if expecting the leaves swaying gracefully above her might suddenly start talking and tell her the right thing to say. Of course, they never spoke. They stayed up there clinging to the brown tree branches. Giving the glider a good push with her right foot Nory opened her eyes and turned to look at Kira.
"Legally John was my husband, yes, but he wasn't in the most important ways, Kira."
Kira's vivid blue eyes grew twice as big at Nory's remark. In all the years she had known both her and John, Kira had never suspected that theirs was not a perfect marriage. She swallowed a sip of tea before answering. "I had no idea John ever did anything wrong, Nory. Why didn't you tell me about it when it happened? All this time I thought you had the best marriage I'd ever seen."
"Pride, I guess. I didn't have to marry John. I wasn't pregnant or anything like that. I made the choice and I didn't want anybody to know what a terrible choice it turned out to be." Nory stood up and rubbed the knots out of the back of her neck as she turned away from the glider. This would be easier to tell if she were not looking at Kira.
"He was never there for me, Kira. He was always more interested in his job than in anything else. When he came home at night all he ever wanted to talk about was what had happened at work that day. He never asked me what kind of day I'd had. If I got sick he'd shrug his shoulders and tell me to go to bed as he was heading out the door. But if he got sick you had better believe he would stay home and expect me to wait on him hand and foot. Why couldn't he ever understand that I wanted someone to be with me when I was sick just as much as he did?"
Kira did not move a muscle. Sitting on the old glider staring at her friend's rigid back she sensed that if she said or did anything to interrupt the moment Nory might not ever finish telling her these dark things. Things that if she had told her years ago, maybe she could have helped Nory deal with them. It still might not be too late. If Nory would get them out into the open by talking about them then that might be a pivotal turning point toward Nory being able to love again.
Nory's voice grew softer as she continued. "The sex was always one sided too. He wanted to have sex frequently, but only when and in the positions he preferred. He never bothered to ask me if I might want to try a different position or even a different damn room besides the bedroom. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but he didn't even care if I orgasmed or not. I usually didn't because he made me feel like an object ... a blow-up doll instead of the wife he loved and cherished. I don't think he even understood how to love a woman. A wife to John was just a person who lived in his home, kept it clean, and provided the necessary vagina for his sex."
"My God, Nory, that sounds like a Stepford Wife." As soon as she realized she had inadvertently spoken aloud, Kira clamped her lips together. Damn. Nory, don't stop talking to me.
At her friend's words Nory turned and looked at Kira. "Yeah, I think so too. I watched that movie and throughout the whole thing I kept thinking "That's me! I'm just a Stepford Wife." Nory walked back to the glider and plopped down. Breathing deeply she looked down at her scuffed leather Indian Mocs that she had slipped early that morning.
"You haven't heard the worst yet."
"I bet I can guess." Nory could hear the anger and indignation in Kira's voice as she continued. "The fathead was unfaithful."
"Yes, I'm afraid he was. I suspected, but I did my best to ignore all the little signs because accepting the reality of his cheating was too damned painful. Finally there was one little sign I couldn't ignore."
Kira impulsively reached over and grabbed Nory's hand in an effort to stop it from trembling. That delicate hand had been trembling ever since Nory had sat down again. Nory said something, but her voice was so low Kira couldn't make out the words over the whispers of the leaves overhead. Leaning forward slightly, she gently inquired, "I'm sorry. What did you say?"
When Nory lifted her head and looked Kira in the eyes the expression of pain and heartbreak Kira saw surprised her. Raising her voice considerably Nory repeated her remark. "He gave me a special present. He gave me a case of clap he caught from one of his lovers."
Kira's mouth dropped open. She couldn't believe what she had just heard. John had given Nory an STD. That would have been about the last thing she had expected Nory to say. An illegitimate child, yes. The Clap? No way.
Nory watched Kira's throat muscles slid up and down and knew she was struggling to find the right thing to say. Feeling sorry for the shock she knew Kira must be feeling, Nory spoke up. "It's all right, Kira. That happened years ago. Long before John was ever diagnosed with cancer. We started sleeping in separate bedrooms when that happened and it didn't bother either him or me. I was cured easily with massive amounts of penicillin, but I was afraid the next thing he would give me would be AIDS so I finally stopped being the Blow-up Doll for him."
"So why didn't you leave the damn bastard?"
Nory laughed, a soft bitter sound. "The usual reason for a lot of women in our age group--money. I only had a high school education and when I did try to find a job I quickly discovered that a high school diploma and no job experience today equals no job paying enough to live on for a middle-aged woman. I didn't want to end up homeless, so I decided that as long as John agreed to separate bedrooms and no sex then I could live with that arrangement. I really had no other choice. If I had had family that I could have turned to then I would have tried that. But I don't have any family left. So I stayed."
Tears were trickling down Kira's face in spite of her best efforts to not cry. She had never dreamed that all this had been happening behind the lovely beveled glass door that ushered guests into John and Nory's house. Smiling gently, Nory reached over and wiped the tears from her friend's smooth cheek.
"Don't be upset. It's all over now. The cancer killed John and with his death all that disappeared from my life."
"I know that, Nory, but you haven't replaced the bad with any good. Love and great sex are wonderful things, and you should have them in your life. John has been gone several years and I don't know of your ever having dated anybody in all that time. I thought it was because John was such a paragon that you never thought you'd find anybody to compare to him."
Nory chuckled bitterly. "I hope to heaven I never find anybody to compare to him. He was selfishness personified."
Kira jumped up from the glider and started pacing. "But not all men are like him. You'll never find anybody wonderful if you don't ever date. Why don't you date?"
"Kira, I know this will be difficult for you to understand, but not all women have men ringing their phones off the wall like you do. Some women are just so pretty all a man has to do is look at her one time and his cock leaps to full BABE ALERT. These are the women men call. Women like you. Men don't call women like me. When they first see me their cocks just lie there and mumble PLAIN JANE WARNING, KEEP LOOKING. Maybe I should have that tattooed on my forehead. They could read it and not even have to waste the time evaluating my looks."
Kira stopped pacing and placed both hands akimbo on her hips. "I will not have you belittling yourself that way! You have gorgeous chestnut hair and the biggest brown eyes I have ever seen. Your figure is lush and curvy in all the right places--and when you smile your whole face lights up. Besides, cocks can't talk."
Nory rolled her eyes in amusement. "I have brown hair that is becoming streaked with some gray. Most of the time you can't tell what color my eyes are because I have to wear reading glasses now. And that lush, curvy figure is really just a nice way of saying it would not hurt me a bit to lose fifteen pounds. Face it, Kira. You are my friend and a woman at that. When you look at me you don't see me the same way that a man who is searching sees me. Men call women who look like you. They don't call women who look like me."
"Besides, I need to get away from people in general and get off the merry-go-round for a while. I need some down time to take a long hard look at my life and decide just who Eleanor Elizabeth Douglas is at this stage of her life. I need to figure out what her dreams are for the rest of her life. And, hey, I just might write a book. I have always wanted to try my hand at writing and this would be the perfect time." Rocking the old glider harder much like a little girl in the bright fall sunshine, Nory beamed at her best friend. "Just open your mind to all the possibilities that might lie ahead for me."
Kira watched her friend doing her best to put a good face on her life and marveled at her strength. Most women she knew would have either become alcoholics or dropped into that Black Hole of Depression long ago. But not Nory. Not Mrs. Eleanor Elizabeth Douglas. It had been so long since Kira had heard Nory use her complete name she had almost forgotten what it really was. The woman called Nory was her friend, but the woman called Eleanor Elizabeth was a survivor. Suddenly Kira wished she knew that woman a little better.
Kira wondered if Nory would believe her if she told her that she would trade her physical appearance for Eleanor Elizabeth's strength in a heartbeat. No, she probably wouldn't. Instead of voicing her thoughts aloud Kira smiled. "What if one of those possibilities just happens to be a hunky, sensitive guy who'll love you like every woman aches to be loved?"
"Every woman has her dreams of a love like that, Kira. She holds them deep in her heart as long as she's alive and breathing."
"Even you, Nory?"
"Yes, even me." * * * *