The Yarn Spinner

The Yarn Spinner

Deborah Smith

January 2014 $0.99
ISBN: 978-1-61194-4-303

A Crossroads Café Short Story

Available in e-book ONLY. This item is not available directly from BelleBooks/Bell Bridge Books.

She's destined to love Gus MacBride-if she survives her first year in the Crossroads Cove.


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Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt

Back Cover Copy

A thread of hope is all she needs.

Damaged, confused, alone. Cathy Deen Mitternich recognizes her old self in the fragile survivor huddled in the sheep barn’s storage room at Rainbow Goddess Farm. Former art teacher Lucy Parmenter may be beyond even the tough-love magic of the farm, a live-in counseling center for abused women. Afraid to set a foot outside, drugged on medication, and filled with despair, Lucy needs the big biscuit magic of the Crossroad Café’s Delta Whittlespoon. Together, Cathy and Delta search for a lifeline that represents Lucy’s best hope of holding on.

Their search ends in Lucy’s new home at the barn. When Lucy discovers the magic there, neither she nor Cathy will ever be the same.

Deborah Smith is the author of The Crossroads Café, chosen as a Top Five Romance of 2006 by Library Journal, a Number One bestseller at Kindle, and a bestseller at the Wall Street Journal. Her bestselling Crossroad Café Novellas include The Biscuit Witch and The Pickle Queen. She is also the New York Times bestselling author of A Place To Call Home.


Coming soon!


Banger gets a makeover

Years of killing time on movie sets and between photo shoots had taught me the fine art of texting dumb jokes to anyone who’d play. Even now, long past my Hollywood days, I reverted. I missed Tom and our finally-adopted daughters, Ivy and Cora, who’d stayed over after Thanksgiving in Chicago with his younger brother John, a financial planner. John was recovering from bunion surgery. He and Tom were logging some time in front of football games while Ivy and Cora toured the city with Tom’s wife, Monica, and their cousins Jeremy, Bryan, and David. Five juvenile Mitternichs ages ten to sixteen. Thanks to texting, I could pretend Monica had it better than me, and I could remind my husband that I was in a drafty barn having my picture made with livestock.


Tom had heard these jokes a hundred times before. He dutifully typed back.










I shoved my cell phone in my satchel and pushed the satchel against the interior wall of the tall, kiosk-like display built for the advertising shoot. I was behind the counter with one of the barn’s stall doors blocking me from behind. My namesake Guernsey milk cow, Cathy, hung her head out of the stall’s half-door and licked the arm of my lavender mohair sweater. Her pearl-gray horns had been polished for the photo session, and a small red Christmas bow had been pinned to the tuft of hair at the apex of her gold-and-white head.

Everyone else suddenly noticed that Banger, my and Tom’s large gray billy goat, had hopped down from his decorative hay bales next to the kiosk and was now raiding the makeup artist’s enormous, unzippered tote bag.

Shrieks filled the barn. One of them, mine. "Banger! Get out of that!”

But the notorious leader of our Wild Woman Ridge herd, now a famous celebrity spokes-goat for Bah Spa, our line of goat milk soaps and lotions, was head-deep and on a mission to munch. I could see the top of his muscular gray jaws working swiftly. His curled horns hooked the air as if he were plowing a field of Max Factor daisies. Plastic cases snapped. Poofs of foundations and blushes swirled up. The makeup artist danced around him like an emo scarecrow hit by lightning, flailing him with a brush, while the photographer and his manly assistants sounded a retreat and ran with their equipment.

The art director for Southern Hunting & Kitchens Magazine, accompanied by Suzanne Alderson, the manager of my Bah Spa store in Turtleville, stationed themselves in front of the expensively designed holiday kiosk, guarding me and it.

At least I hoped they were guarding me more than the Christmas bunting and flower arrangements. Behind me, Cathy’s large bovine head dipped lower, her gaze clearly peering at the tantalizing fresh ivy and red poinsettias winding down the kiosk post nearest her stall door. Her tongue became a sly pink elephant snout. Whoosh. She ripped two feet of ivy and fresh flowers off the post and wound them into her mouth like spaghetti.

I stepped in front of the naked post to hide the damage. She was my namesake. There is an implied covenant to protect your namesake, isn’t there? She’d been a breech-birth. Tom happened to be at the farm that day, so he played midwife under the guidance of farm owners Alberta and Macy when they needed more combined upper body strength for the task at hand. Birthing a cow would make anyone woozy from the sight of the placenta and blood, but those were also the years when he’d been drinking heavily and struggling with memories of his son’s terrible death in the Twin Towers. When given the honor of naming the new calf, he’d answered with the first thought in his head.

"Cathy,” he’d mumbled. "I name the little heifer Cathy.” He and I hadn’t met in person yet, though our cross-country correspondence was already intense.

In a way, Cathy the heifer was my and Tom’s love-calf.

So now I covered for her crime.

A stern female voice rang out. "Everyone, stand down! I’ll take care of this buck-billy goat bastard,” Alberta Spruill-Groover yelled. Ex-marine, nurse, carpenter, berry farmer, sheep farmer, life partner of the far nicer and infinitely normal Macy Spruill-Groover, Alberta stomped our way.

She was the woman whom I’d hired to add a few basic modern upgrades to my grandmother’s house on Wild Woman Ridge during my earliest months in these mountains. Now, the tough-love nemesis who’d taunted me for my own good, strode down the barn hallway in camo and plaid one hand tugging her Cardinals’ hat tighter on her curls while the other swung a fly swatter. She scowled at me. Our friendship had taken a long time to develop, and was still more prickly than pretty. "Dammit, Cathy, you know I hate this freakin’ meat sack with balls. You couldn’t have done this silly freakin’ photo shoot at your own barn?”

"I’m here to advertise not only Bah Spa but also yours and Macy’s cheeses and jellies, which we’re selling at my and Delta’s store in Turtleville and, coming soon, in our online store. Need I remind you?”

"Nobody asked my permission.”

"That’s because you told Macy to handle marketing. Because Macy is the sane one.”

"Out, Banger, out! You need to be castrated.” She began whacking the hell out of him. He grunted and shoved the tote bag toward her, head still inside it. She flapped him furiously—but backed up.

I leaned over the kiosk’s counter. "Don’t back up. It only encourages him. And don’t take out your anti-male agenda on my goat.”

"I’ll take out my testicle clippers on your goat! Finish up this marketing crap and get back to business! We’ve got a new...” She halted to look at the outsiders. Then at me. "Sister. Macy needs your advice on a ‘sister’ situation.”

"Sister” was code for a new resident in the program Alberta and Macy ran for abused women. Rainbow Goddess Farm was a working farm, yes, but also a counseling center fully licensed by the state of North Carolina to treat women who were recovering from domestic abuse. At any given time there were two-dozen women living in the big house or cabins, along with their children. Some stayed for months. I was on the board of directors, along with Delta. Proud to be a patron.

"He’s charging!” the makeup artist moaned.

Banger plowed toward Alberta, the tote bag riding his head. Picture a large modern barn with open pens for newborn calves and their moms, offset by long rows of milking stations. A half-dozen women in overalls and heavy coats had been peacefully herding the placid milk cows into the stations. Alberta ran for a side door and hit an electric opener. The cold November air gushed in. My long brunette hair, artfully sprayed and molded over the scarred side of my face, flew back in dark tangles.

Alberta went down fighting, with Banger and the makeup bag on top of her. A rainbow cloud of powders filled the air again.

The hair stylist, who had climbed halfway up a ladder to the loft, nearly flung herself to the floor in her hurry to save my ’do. "Hold that curl!”

The ’do we do not talk about. I understand that my burn scars are a distraction. We don’t want Bah Spa customers staring at them instead of the products. I get that. It’s not a cop-out to be discreet, but I’m no longer painfully self-aware of the stares my disfigured face and body receive. I exorcised those demons, with Tom and cousin Delta’s loving help, years ago.

For the most part. No one with scars like mine will ever be fully healed. But life isn’t about being flawless. Scars come with the journey.

So when the stylist rushed me with a wild look behind her retro-rhinestone glasses, I took her calmly by the shoulders. "Grab goat first. Hide scars second. No problem.”

She sagged. "Ms. Deen, they told me you’re a cool lady. Thanks.”

I patted her shoulders and stopped myself from correcting the Ms. Deen part. I was Cathy Mitternich, or Cathy Deen Mitternich as a compromise in the screen credits when I took occasional acting parts, mostly voice work. My movie star ego had vaporized when Tom, an architect, showed me how to build a new me. One that I saw through his eyes. Always beautiful, scars be damned.

Scars. All of Alberta’s and Macy’s "sisters” had scars, emotional and otherwise. This remote farm in the Appalachians, more than an hour from Asheville by a winding two-lane road, was a safe home in the arms of the Ten Sisters Mountains, a sipping sister to the deep warm tea cup of the Crossroads Cove below, where my cousin Delta Whittlespoon baked biscuit magic at her famous café. We were all Sisters of the Scar.

No matter how damaged this new sister was, we would help her.

I climbed over the kiosk counter and went to rescue Alberta from Banger, or vice versa. They were both covered in cosmetics.

I’d bet it was the most makeup Alberta had ever worn in her life.

I wasn’t so sure about Banger.



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