Love Is Never Past Tense

By Janna Yeshanova

Women’s fiction, Literary fiction, Contemporary romance based on true historical events, Inspirational, Strong female protagonist

Originally from the former Soviet
Union, Janna Yeshanova escaped in 1989 when persecution became violent during the
crumbling of the Soviet state. This required getting permission to emigrate and
a long dangerous train trip across central Europe with her elderly mother, her
young daughter, and the $126 she was permitted to take out of the country. She
did this by overcoming gridlock in Russia, animosity and graft at the border,
and neglect in the west. Safely out of Soviet control, Janna and her family
spent months as refugees waiting for permission to come to the United States.

Arriving in the United States
knowing not a soul, Janna settled in Ohio and began to rebuild her life. She
earned a second master’s degree and was invited as a speaker at the Bosnia and
Herzegovina International Peace Conference in 1996. While building her business
as a Leadership Trainer and consultant, she has become a Professional Certified
Coach (PCC) through the International Coach Federation. She offers life
coaching services to individuals, conflict resolution to couples and groups,
and soft skills training to organizations of all sizes.

Her book, Love Is Never Past Tense, offers a message of hope and inspiration,
showing that nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself.S





A couple’s quick
romance and hasty marriage is torn apart by family and fate, leaving them to
face the collapse of the Soviet Union separately. Years later, old memories are
stirred to give their love a second chance.

Serge and Janna’s
chance meeting at a Black Sea beach sparks a passionate romance and a quick
marriage. Serge’s parents, suspicious of Janna’s motives and heritage, force
him to break up with her. As the Soviet Union collapses, revealing ethnic and
social pressures, each faces danger separately. Serge drowns in self-doubt, his
life spiraling down and in. Janna plots a dangerous exodus to America with her
mother and daughter. Years pass, stirring old emotions. Then changing
circumstances give their love a second chance. Janna Yeshanova tells a story,
providing a very personal view of political and social change.

Love is Never Past Tense is part romantic drama and part a look at real people responding to life-changing events, but mostly a suspense adventure about living through one of the biggest changes in living memory.

Love Is Never Past Tense is available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback and Kindle eBook formats. The newly released audiobook is available on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. The audible and Kindle versions are enabled with WhisperSync.

The audio is narrated
by Daniela Acitelli, a narrator with dozens of audiobooks to her credit. Even
those familiar with the story found new meaning in her presentation. It took me
two years to find her.

Audio Book at

Audio Book at Amazon

Audio Book at iTunes

Amazon Author Page

Amazon Kindle

Serge didn’t try
to catch up to the shuffling, thin, leather skirt. He hadn’t a clue what he
would do if he actually caught up with her. So he continued following her along
the high embankment for a fairly long time, until they crossed the whole of
Lanzheron Park. But, reaching the beach, the girl quickly descended to the sea.
Serge even began to jog a bit to keep her in sight. His head was clear this
morning, and soon he would try out his cunning for the first but not the last
time this day. The spy set up camp at the upper solarium and watched over her.
Maybe she was waiting for some company, or a young man, or a girlfriend (which
would undoubtedly seem to be better), but to our spy, all were equally bad
possibilities. This guessing game carried on in his head, but it seemed she
wasn’t looking for anyone. She ducked into the changing room, and her leather
skirt momentarily hung over the edge of the stall. After a minute, she exited,
and Serge, pulling his long hair away from his head with both hands in anguish,
groaned something unintelligible. Her breasts exited the little room first. The
spot from where Serge looked down provided such visibility that his knees began
to tremble. Her face was impossible to discern through her long hair and
sunglasses, but something told him it would also be in order. She laid before
her a light beach towel and laying down she took a book from her bag and began
to read. Burning her “landing site” into his mind, Serge took off like a shot
to the nearest cabana rental. Fast as lightning, he exchanged his clothes for a
key, crammed two metal rubles in the pocket of his swimming trunks, and became
Don Juan. He feared, though, that there were already a bunch of admirers
slinking ever closer to the sacred beach towel, and that he would simply be too
late. He’d have to crawl to his place in line, and like the others, would have
a poor chance of success.

He flew down the
stairs and quickly found the beach towel, but … its owner was nowhere to be
found. There was a book, a beach bag, and sunglasses, but their owner had
disappeared. Oh, yes! This would be the second time that a smart thought
visited Serge’s head today. People come to the sea to swim, after all! This
interpretation of her disappearance comforted and delighted Serge. He became
bolder and impudently tossed his glasses onto the same towel and cheerfully
marched to the water. With his half-blind eyes, he surely could not see her.
And where, among dozens of bathers? He dove into a wave and swam away from the
shore. First, he couldn’t stand to watch bathers jumping around like frogs in
the shallow water. Secondly, at this moment, his exceptionally quick-witted
head told him he couldn’t be the first to return to her beach towel. Then he’d
have to take his glasses and fiddle around a bit in front of the beach towel to
buy time as he came up with a new plan. Perhaps he’d cover himself with the towel,
or maybe … no, he needed to work on his initial scenario.

He even came up
with a sophisticated opening: “Excuse me, young lady, but I left my
glasses here on your towel. I simply didn’t have anywhere to put them, or
myself for that matter.” With this, his stockpile of ideas was depleted …

At last he
climbed out of the water and headed along the well-trodden route to her beach
towel. The towel was in place, and on this towel lay the magnificent body of
its hostess, but Serge’s glasses were lying a little bit farther on the edge of
the towel. Serge squatted down and mumbled his introduction. He was counting on
her to respond with typical beach chit-chat: “Where are you from? How long
ago did you arrive in Odessa?” or other such nonsense.

glasses are fine,” she responded. “I figured someone just confused
their beach towel with mine but have a seat anyway.”

She scooted over,
freeing up half the beach towel. He got scared. If he lay down, then he
wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to nuzzle up to her. Then he’d certainly
look like a pervert, a youth brought up with no manners, or a pest—in a word,
he would give the exact opposite impression than he wanted. He mumbled
something like a “thank you” and lay down beside her on the sand. She
motioned towards him with a little bag of sunflower seeds, “Help

” Oh God, what’s
this?” resounded in Serge’s mind. “Are you kidding me … sunflower seeds?” And
his hand with a subsequent “thank you” reached in the bag.

“Do you like
Ilf and Petrov?”2

”Lord, who is she talking about? I’ve only heard of them in passing, but I don’t know the slightest thing about them …” Serge thought to himself.

“My name’s
Janna,” she came to his rescue.

he stammered in reply, “but at the institute everyone actually calls me
Serge, or Seriy …”3

She chuckled.

You’re actually black as tar. Where did you get such a tan?” she asked,
spitting out sunflower seed shells. Not even awaiting a response, she
exclaimed: “Here is an interesting moment”—and she began to read her book
aloud, something about Ptiburdukov and his Varvara, who was leaving her first
husband for him but couldn’t make up her mind. Janna read for a while, probably
about five pages, and then thrust the book towards Serge and said, “You
read from here,” marking the place with her fingernail. Serge began to
read, but he didn’t understand a word. He was too busy worrying about his
diction, trying not to miss any letters or words. He fought through two pages,
but his audience was clearly not impressed.

“Would you
like a cigarette?”

“If he has a
smoke, then he’ll stop reading.” Serge could almost hear her thinking. He
pulled a cigarette from a mashed-up pack of Javas,
the best tobacco the Soviet Union could offer at that time. She handed him the
matches. He brought the flame close to her face. She took a drag and rolled
over on her back. Serge absolutely didn’t know what to do: read, blow sand from
her, ask her about something. But she was not waiting for any questions and
didn’t ask any questions. It was as if he simply was present. And that was
that. The only thing that remained was for Serge to stare dumbfounded into the
sand and observe the ants. Having smoked half the cigarette, she jammed the
other half into the sand and turned back over on her stomach, brushing her leg
up against Serge’s. But she did not hasten to remove it. Silent Serge, who
really didn’t look the part of a reasonable person, turned into an animal. His
uncontrollable desire sprang to life, pulling his swimming trunks down into the
sand with such force that it became painful. Serge secretly burrowed a hole in
the sand, easing the pressure. He became obsessed with a craving to climb on
top of her. But this was out of the question, which made his desire even
stronger …

“It’s hot.
Let’s go for a swim,” she said, lifting herself up on her elbows. For the
first time he could see her breasts up close, causing his heart to leap through
his ribs like a bird in a cage. He muttered he’d catch up to her, and when she left,
his desire ever so slowly began to
hide itself away, until he was finally able to get up and head towards the sea.

She splashed
around in the waves, which towards midday became quite sizable. He flopped
about next to her, often brushing up against her body. Then he suggested
tossing her in the waves. He cradled her head and shoulders, gathered her hands
into his, and finally lifted her up and tossed her into the waves. Janna liked
it, and so did he, but for a different reason: every time she hit the waves,
her bathing suit slid down slightly, and when her breasts finally became
exposed, he was ready to splash to his very death. Suddenly, she ended up
cradled in his arms. With one arm, she grasped his neck, and he now understood
that everything will happen, he just needed to patiently wait.

Once something
starts, eventually, it ends. The delightful swim as well: they returned from
the water and again lay down on the beach towel.

“I want to get
tanned like you.” (She had already switched to the informal you4 in the water. He liked this, as it
made him feel less uneasy around her). She placed her arm next to his for
comparison, and her brown skin seemed much paler than his almost blackened arm.
Guiltily, he informed her that he just returned yesterday from his
apprenticeship in Baku, and so it was not surprising that he was so dark.

“You have
beautiful hands,” she pensively remarked. Then, determined, she added, “No, you
just wait. I’ll catch up with you in two days. Just wait and see.” These words
poured over his body like oil. For Serge, this meant that he would spend at
least two more days with her.

“Get some ice
cream. Do you need some money?”

“I have it,”
answered Serge, but before he could get up and leave, he had to turn and crawl
to hide his “desire” …


During their
first three days together, Serge (as they called our hero at the time) was the
quieter of the two, once in a while muttering some insignificant phrases. The
first time he saw her, he silently followed her for a long time. She walked
along easily, shifting her long, rather well-proportioned legs. Her thin
leather skirt swung from side to side, barely hiding her shapely hips. A green
blouse tightly covered her beautifully straight back. All the while, Serge
followed her like she was a vision, lacking the courage to come closer or to
back away. He knew that making her acquaintance was a long shot; she was simply
out of his league. How could he possibly know that she, a complete stranger,
would inexplicably impact his life and be with him forever, whether she was at
his side or not?

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