Romance On Route 66
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by Cheryl Norman, Judith Leigh
Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
Description: Passing through eight states and stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles, Route 66 was once the main artery for westbound travelers. The highway inspired a hit song, a television series, and the Pixar animated movie, Cars. No longer part of the U.S. highway system, most of Route 66 is gone, leaving a few stretches of 'Historic Route 66' and local festivals to commemorate its place in American pop culture. The spirit of Route 66 lives on in Romance on Route 66 as authors Judith Leigh and Cheryl Norman revisit four towns during four different decades. Enjoy a trip down memory lane with Romance on Route 66.
eBook Publisher: Highland Press/A Wee Dram, 2009 2009
eBookwise Release Date: November 2009
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [447 KB]
Reading time: 248-347 min.
"Romance on Route 66 by Judith Leigh and Cheryl Norman--Norman and Leigh break the romance speed limit on America's historic roadway."--Anne Krist, author of Burning Bridges, Ecataromance Reviewers' Choice Award
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September 6, 1949
Cactus Falls, California
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David Montgomery roared down Route 66 on his Harley-Davidson. His trip home had been a disappointment, but why expect his parents to change after all these years? Right now, he pushed the visit from his mind. He simply wanted to enjoy the wind beating against his face, and the warmth of the blazing sun roasting his back beneath his leather vest. He loved the freedom of cruising the open road. He hummed the theme song to Twelve O'clock High, its melody lost in the roar of the wind. He should arrive at Victorville Air Force Base in about an hour.
A slow moving Studebaker forced him to decelerate. At the first straightaway he passed the yellow car. When he whipped the Harley back into the right lane, the front wheel pulled and wobbled. What was wrong with the tire? Gripping the handlebars to keep the big bike straight, he looked ahead for a place to pull off. No service stations bordered this portion of the rural highway but several yards ahead was a sign for O'Hare's Orange Grove. An orange grove should be a safe area to work on his bike.
He signaled a right turn with his arm, then traveled down the road until he found a shady spot. Dropping his feet to the ground, he lifted the motorcycle onto the kickstand. He climbed off the bike and knelt to examine his front tire. Instead of being hard and firm, it collapsed beneath his grasp. Somewhere the tire had picked up a nail and developed a slow leak. He reached into his saddlebag for tools.
Two young boys ran toward him. "Hey mister, is that a Harley-Davidson?" one yelled.
David did a double take when he looked over at the two. They looked exactly alike. "Yeah, it is."
"What's wrong with her?" the other boy asked.
David smiled when the boy referred to the Harley as a female. "Sally got a flat tire, which is going to be a devil to change." From the back pocket of his jeans, David pulled a bandana and rubbed it across his face. "Where do you boys live?"
"Back that way." The red-haired youngster pointed behind him. "We're supposed to be picking oranges, but we heard your motorcycle so we had to come and see it. My name is Billy and this is my twin brother Tommy."
David reached his hand out to Billy. "I'm glad to meet you both. I'm David Montgomery." He shook their hands. "Boy, I bet it's hard for people to tell you two apart."
"My mom is the only one who's good at that," Tommy said.
"Yeah, we have fun mixing people up, especially our teacher." Billy grinned.
They were cute youngsters--red hair, large blue eyes, lots of freckles. David put them at about nine years old. He looked up the road to where they said they lived. Pushing the heavy Harley down that road wasn't going to be easy, especially in the heat. He leaned over and felt the tire again. Going the extra miles had deflated it. Reject the pushing idea--it wasn't an option now.
"Boy, I sure wish I could take a ride on that." Billy ran his hand over the seat.
"Tell you what. I'll let you climb up on the seat."
"Oh boy, that would be great!" Billy looked over at his brother. "Can Tommy get on it, too?"
"Sure, you climb on, then he can sit behind you." David patted Tommy on the head.
"Gee, thanks, mister." Tommy watched as his brother climbed up on the seat. David held onto the motorcycle so it wouldn't fall over. "Hey Billy, you look really super on that."
Billy made noises like a motorcycle as he gripped the handlebars. "I bet my dad would've loved to have one of these."
"I imagine running this orange grove takes most of his time."
Sadness darkened Billy's eyes. "We don't have a dad now. He died in the war."
"I'm sorry." David knew what it was like not to have a father around. "You know, I bet your dad would be real proud of you boys now."
"You think so, mister?" Tommy stared up at him. "I miss him a lot sometimes."
"I bet you do." David ruffled his hair.
Rows and rows of orange trees filled the grove as far as David could see. In the distance, a woman ran toward them, red hair bouncing beneath a straw hat. Light blue one-piece overalls hugged a shapely figure. "Is that your mom running this way?"
"Oh boy, we're in trouble now." They both grumbled.
"Just what do you boys think you're doing?" She patted her chest, trying to catch her breath. "You're supposed to be picking oranges."
"Aw, Mom, we just had to come and take a look at this motorcycle. Isn't she a beauty?"
"Yeah, Mom, Mr. Montgomery's going to let me sit on it with Billy."
"No, you're not! Billy, you get off that thing right now."
"Okay, but we weren't doing anything wrong." Billy gave his brother a rueful look. "Sorry, Tommy."
"Gee, Mom, that's not fair. Billy got to sit on it."
David grinned at her. "You know, it really isn't fair. Pretty please, Mom." He stuck out his hand. "Name's David Montgomery."
"I'm Rachel O'Hare." She shook his hand and gazed into deep blue eyes that on closer inspection had a touch of green in them. Suddenly words wouldn't come out of her mouth. Embarrassment warmed her cheeks, and she let go of his hand. She'd never seen such cute dimples on a man. What was she thinking? She didn't need some wild motorcycle rider around her boys. She released his hand and turned toward Tommy. "Go ahead and let him sit on it. If he doesn't get a chance, I'll never hear the end of it."
"Yippee!" Tommy climbed on behind his brother.
Rachel shook her head. "I should've known you two were up to mischief."
"How on earth do you tell them apart?" David asked.
"They have their own personalities. After you get to know them, you can see the differences. Also, Billy is a little taller and Tommy has a birthmark shaped like a strawberry on his arm." She motioned the boys off the bike. "Okay, you've sat on that thing long enough. You've got chores waiting on you."
Tommy and Billy jumped off the motorcycle and took off on a run, Billy yelling, "Hope you get Sally fixed okay."
"I'm sorry they bothered you." She took off her hat and fanned her heated face. "You call that thing Sally?"
"Yeah, she's my baby." He grimaced. "I've got a flat and it's a job getting the tire off to patch the tube."
"Oh, and I guess you don't have space to carry a spare."
He shook his head. "Is there a garage anywhere close?"
"Cactus Falls is about fifteen miles from here." Rachel looked down at her watch. "Bernie's Garage is closed. He won't be open until Monday."
"If you'd like, I can get my truck and we can haul your motorcycle to the house." She couldn't believe she was inviting this stranger to her home.
"That's not good. If you could drive me into town, I'll find a place to spend the night. I'll be glad to pay you for your time and gas."
"I'm sure you're hot and tired." She put her hat back on. "I'll go get the truck. If you want to spend the night, I have a bunkhouse that's empty right now. I'm sure my boys will want to know all about Sally."
"That's nice of you, but I don't want to impose."
"You won't be imposing. Around here one more for dinner won't make any difference. I'll be back in a few minutes. There's a two-by-six board in the barn we can use as a ramp to get the cycle in the bed of the truck."
Rachel went after her truck. Had she lost her mind? For all she knew, this man could murder them in their sleep, although he did have a kind face. And he'd been patient with her boys. She'd been raised to believe it was her Christian duty to help someone in need, so she'd trust that God had led her to do the right thing.
The boys seemed to like him, and they had pretty good instincts. Of course, the motorcycle had a lot to do with that. Having a man to talk to would do them good. Since their father's death, they'd had little contact with men except for Manuel, the guy who worked the grove with them.
With all her heart, Rachel hoped she wouldn't regret this act of kindness.