Cover image for Everlastin' love
Title:
Everlastin' love
Author:
Gunn, Gay G.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Columbus, MS : Genesis Press, [1996]

©1996
Physical Description:
217 pages ; 22 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781885478023
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

This old-fashioned, heart warming classic is a wonderful novel full of life''s fragility, of youthful cha nces taken, unwanted repercussions, mature resolutions and l ove as Jaz comes to terms with the fact that her husband did not return from Vietnam. '


Excerpts

Excerpts

1968 Music. There was none where it had always been. Singing into the mike at Champion Studio. Singing to each other as they strolled the beach stealing kisses and hidden touches, harmonizing as they furnished their apartment from Antique Row, before and after they made love. Music, as much a part of them as breathing, was yanked from their lives, and the silence screamed between them. It was a familiar sight. A red Karman Ghia speeding up the coastal highway from Watts to San Francisco. A guy, a girl, and a dog. The guy and girl had been inseparable since high school, since she was sixteen; now he was graduating from Stanford, law school bound, and she was finishing up her junior year at Berkeley. You seldom saw one without the other. He, in a red baseball cap with a white S covering curly brunette hair, and a brown leather bomber jacket clinging to the torso of one of the West Coast's most-sought-after athletic bodies. She, wearing her father's 1940 fudge fedora, her mane of copper hair matching the billowing of the fringe on her buckskin jacket. Until now, the sojourns to Watts had been pleasure trips, to see family and old friends, to participate in the annual Watts Boys Club Christmas Show, to attend the New Year's party at Club Oasis, to record at Champion. But now there was loud quiet. To turn on the radio was to risk reminders of happier times when his Raw Cilk songs rivaled Motown's best. When Raw Cilk's "Everlastin' Love" and Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman" were hailed as the love ballads of 1966. When the stars were in their heavens and all was right with the world. What a difference a year makes. Now his hypnotic hazel eyes set in deep bronze skin were fastened to the nothingness of the road. The car seemed guided by the stars as the moon shimmered silver on the ocean and played hide-and-seek with the terrain. She touched his hand, sadness flickering in her honey-colored eyes. He managed a glance and quick smile before returning his gaze to the highway. The silence was deafening, and all that could be heard was the whiz of rubber on asphalt. He parked his car beside her 1957 pink T-Bird, a sweet-sixteen gift from her parents. They climbed the front steps of the Victorian house on Alta Vista, and she stopped to get the mail as he opened the vestibule door. After tackling the three flights in silence, he unlocked their apartment door and hung her hat and jacket on the hall tree while she went over to the wall of windows. The San Francisco skyline twinkled before her, calming her much like the ocean always did. As he went to get the dog's leash, she folded her arms and gazed at the city's lights dancing below. "You want some light?" Qwayz asked when he returned to the room. "No, thanks," Jaz answered. "I'm gonna take Akira for a walk." He kissed her cheek and opened the door for the beautiful Irish setter named for its master's old karate teacher. Her brother's handsome image superimposed itself on the San Francisco vista, and Jaz washed the windows with her cascading tears. What had TC, this young music mogul, this black genius, been doing in Vietnam, and why did he have to die? Whether he had been killed at Khe Sanh or in the Tet offensive, it was January 1968, and her big brother, Tavio Culhane, was dead. Until Qwayz's brother-in-law, Yudi Hodges, went over, Vietnam was known only as the thief who stole young black men from urban ghettos to fight the yellow men in a distant land for the white man. The lure was steady money and benefits. The catch was few made it back, and those who did, like Yudi, were in no condition to enjoy it. When TC went, it put Vietnam right smack-dab in the middle of the Culhane/Chandler world. Now, just back from TC's funeral, Jaz, in her mind's eye, replayed the day her idyllic life shattered. She and Qwayz had just driven back from a ski trip in Tahoe, their Christmas gift to AJ, whom they had put on a plane back to L.A. She and Qwayz called dibs on a hot shower as they raced up the steps to the vestibule, grabbing the mail before jockeying up the first flight of steps. Jaz tripped Qwayz and laughingly climbed over him until they reached the second floor. They tiptoed past two apartments before they bolted up the final flight to their love nest in the sky. When Qwayz unlocked the door they both tried entering at the same time. Qwayz's long legs took four giant steps to the bedroom door. "Foul, foul!" Jaz protested. "Your legs are longer than mine." "But yours are prettier." Jaz sidled up to Qwayz, gyrating her body into his. When Jake, Jaz's nickname for Qwayz's manhood, responded, she bypassed him and ran for the bathroom. "Foul, foul!" "You use your advantages and I use mine!" She closed the bathroom door. "How 'bout we share?" he said through the door. "No way, I've had enough of you guys and the cold. I'm never going skiing again." "You didn't go this time," he responded. "I'm going to the store to get Akira dog food, anything else?" "What I want from you, you can't buy in a store, babes. Hurry back!" When Qwayz returned, he snatched up the ringing phone and set the groceries on the counter. "Hey, Mr. C." He eyed the bedroom. No sight of Jaz meant she was still in the tub. "Well, I'm clean, pruney, and hot." She stood in the doorway wrapped in her fluffy robe, her wet hair hidden beneath a thirsty towel. "How about some loud lovemaking on the magic carpet of our big brass bed?" Qwayz didn't respond as he finished putting things away. He's tired, she thought. "You take a shower while I rustle us up something delicious to eat." Her husband was transfixed by something out the kitchen's stained-glass window. "What is it?" Jaz looked out and saw nothing but a strangeness in her husband's eyes. "Qwayz, what's the matter?" "Your dad called." His mouth was open but nothing came out. Jaz thought her father had blown her anniversary gift, but the painting was to be shipped directly to the landlady. "Jaz ..." Qwayz gripped her shoulders for support and it scared her. "What?" she implored. His face looked as if it were going to explode under the pressure. "Qwayz, what?" she almost screamed as her heart pounded, and a queasiness churned in her stomach. And she knew. There was only one thing her father could say that would hit Qwayz like this. "What, Qwayz?" "It's TC ." She began to cry uncontrollably, matching the silent tears streaming down his face. "No! No, no, no," she wailed like a wounded animal. Forehead to forehead, nose to nose, honey on hazel, tears to tears. They collapsed, huddled and locked in each other's arms. Akira circled them before resting by Qwayz's side. "It was instant, painless," he began as Jaz jerked at the idea of death being painless. "He received a Bronze Star for valor. After most of his company was killed, he lay in ambush until the VC came around and took out four before they ... got him." The last word mixed with a new wave of tears, and they cried together until all moisture drained from their bodies. A horrible few weeks had followed, and now with her brother buried in the Culhane family cemetery in Colt, Texas, Jaz just wanted her life with Qwayz back to normal. She just wanted him to finish up his prelaw studies and she her premed. She just wanted her Qwayz back. The fun-loving, optimistic, crazy Qwayz. The guy whose handsome face would split into a wide smile, whose laughter would fill his eyes and then the room. Her Qwayz. Girls wanted Quinton Regis Chandler IV, and guys wanted to be him. His gait as easy as the licks he'd put on Amber, his dad's old guitar. She wanted popcorn and old movies on TV in their brass bed on Saturday nights, bubble baths in their claw-foot tub illuminated by a thousand candles perched on its ledge. Chilled apple cider and satin sheets. She wanted to make love again anytime, anywhere. Didn't matter how much lovin' they enjoyed through the week, Saturday night was always a marathon and twice on Wednesdays, their hump day, when afternoon delight between classes was capped with an after-dinner flesh fest. She wanted lazy rides north to Napa or south to Carmel, where love pulled them off the road, demanding release. She wanted strolls along the beach, special celebrations at Giuseppe's, cuddling by their fireplace munching pecan bark from Ghirardelli Square, and purchases from Fisherman's Wharf to be cooked and devoured in the privacy of their own home. She wanted her perfect life back when it was all sunshine, laughter, music and love. And Qwayz's lovin' was ... supernatural. He knew the how, where, and what of pleasuring her. He was talented, adventurous, and insatiable, crediting his West Indian heritage for his "gift." After all this time, being with him was still magical. Making love in their big brass bed was like climbing onto a magic carpet, Qwayz her passport to ecstasy. Soaring high above the earth, they flew among the stars, tumbled through heaven, and somersaulted into paradise as Qwayz brought her to an indescribable, unendurable pleasure. He was her FLO--first, last, and only love. It had taken him a full year and a half to consummate their relationship because he wanted it to be special for her. "You're only going to have one first time, Jas-of-mine. It's gonna be magical like we are. No backseat, sand dunes, or green grass motels for us." Jaz's best friend, Gladys Ann, had told her that Qwayz could pull it off since he'd "had enough poontang to last him till he's thirty!" Jaz and Qwayz had discovered  inventive ways to relieve sexual tension while maintaining her virginity. Finally, during her graduation trip to visit her aunt and uncle in Paris, France, Jaz was deflowered in a hayloft deep in the Champagne region. The second and third time was during the Fourth of July celebration at Chateau Jazz; once in the Fluellen limo while TC's "Night Moves" tape played, and the other in their chateau's gatehouse. They had intended to make love all across Italy, too, but the Watts riots had called them home. Jaz blew her nose and walked into their bedroom, running her fingers across the "friggin' heirloom," as TC had called their gleaming brass bed with its ornate curved head- and footboard. It had been the first bed she and Qwayz had ever made love in. Over the last few weeks, they had existed in an isolated togetherness, still sleeping intertwined as usual, but brought together by comfort, not desire, and Jaz missed his touch, spontaneity and craziness. She missed coming home to a passel of balloons after a tough exam or a candlelit dinner set for two with a centerpiece of pink roses. Or a cord of wood obstructing the doorway and lining the walls because he thought two cords would keep "his lady" really warm in the winters. Or coming home and finding him stretched across the hearth wearing nothing but a smile, strumming Amber. He'd put the guitar beside the driftwood from Paradise Rock, open his arms, and say, "Show me you know me, girlie." And she would. Yeah, she wanted her Qwayz back so they could "not mourn," like TC said. TC was the big brother Jaz had followed everywhere for years. Before he went to Vietnam, TC was her only blood relative here on the West Coast, but TC and Qwayz had been womb-close since they were ten and eight. Despite a two-year difference in age, Qwayz was TC's equal athletically and musically. They were closer than most brothers, and once Qwayz revealed his newfound feelings for Jaz, they both often reminded her that they shared a relationship "over and beyond" her, which she had to recognize and respect. With her parents in Italy, where her father was ambassador, her sister Mel in New York, and her jazz diva aunt Selena and Selena's husband, the legendary saxophonist Zack Fluellen, back in Paris, Qwayz was all she had in this world. He had always been there for her and had promised that he always would be, and she never had reason to doubt him. He needed time to grieve TC's loss and to heal. "I'm back," Qwayz said as he hung his red cap and jacket on the hall tree and headed for the bathroom. Jaz only wished it were so as Akira stretched out in her usual posture. "Ready for bed?" Qwayz climbed in and opened the covers for her. Jaz crawled into him, and he enveloped her body with his. They lay there in the darkness, the reflection of San Francisco bouncing back at them from the dresser mirror. A distant foghorn bellowed as she paced her breathing with his. They both feigned sleep, begged for it to come and go, come and go, signifying the passage of time when all would be right with their world again. Jaz pulled into a space and noticed Qwayz's car. It was their first anniversary, and she had stored their wedding portrait in the never-used bedroom closet. It had been such a weird few weeks, with both of them preoccupied with TC's death while trying to catch up on their studies. As Qwayz kissed her goodbye early this morning, had he wished her happy anniversary or happy Valentine's Day or good luck on her biochem exam? Jaz hoped today was the day they would find their way back to each other. Opening the door and announcing her arrival, she stopped, then convulsed with laughter. In her grandmother's rocker, a few steps from the door, sat a gigantic teddy bear holding a red and purple balloon bouquet in one paw and a dozen pink roses in the other. "I couldn't find gardenias to save my life," Qwayz said, leaning against the bedroom doorjamb. "You're a trip." She fell into Qwayz's waiting arms. "I love you." "Me too. Happy Valentine's Day, Jas-of-mine." "That sounds so good." Jaz let her head drop against his neck, soaking up his Jade East scent. "And this feels good, too, but we've got reservations at Giuseppe's at six." "Oh, boo coo de bucks." "Nothing's too good for my lady." He flashed his familiar smile, even-toothed over a sensuous bottom lip. They dined royally at their favorite neighborhood bistro, where Mama Aruzzo always hired a roving violinist and gave each woman a rose for Valentine's Day. When Qwayz told her it was their anniversary, she announced it to the entire room and gave the couple a bottle of champagne. They staggered lazily up the hill to their apartment. Inside, they patted Teddy on the head, and rounded the fireplace to the bedroom, where Qwayz had more champagne on ice ... water. "No more champagne," Jaz protested weakly, "or I'll get a headache, and I don't want a headache tonight." She began peeling off her clothes as Qwayz threw the champagne out of sight. "Oh, I look a mess." Jaz stood in front of a freestanding antique cheval mirror, absently moving a big red bow from her field of vision. "I always loved that mirror." She flopped on the bed. "Happy first anniversary." Qwayz stroked her bare brown thigh. "Ah!" Jaz said, jumping up as she realized the antique mirror she'd admired for so long was hers. "You devil!" She fingered the beveled glass as Qwayz sidled up behind her, his image captured behind hers. "It's hard to shop for the girl who has everything." He brushed his lips across her cheek and kissed her. "As long as I have you, I do have everything." She squeezed her hands over his. "Well, I'm gonna give you something memorable every anniversary." "That reminds me." She wrestled herself loose of his grasp and rolled the television out of the way. "Hey watch it." He ran to help. "What's in there?" "Put it over here. Prop it on the bed. Now, you unveil it." "Oh, sweet!" He was speechless. "Oh, Qwayz, it's beautiful. We're beautiful." They both stared at their wedding day image captured in oil, their eyes shining brightly. Jaz remembered his proposing during one of their study playbreaks ... "Valentine's Day has always been super special for us, and I think we oughta do something extraordinary to commemorate it," he said, his sensuous bottom lip tucked under even white teeth, devilishness dancing in his eyes. Jaz, who straddled him, murmured, "Yeah? What?" "Marry me." He rode her to the other side of the couch, her questioning eyes never leaving his. "Why not? I love you, you love me, I can't see any part of my future without you in it. Somewhere on this planet I want it written that you and I cared enough about each other to make it legal. I've thought about it a lot since your father discovered our living situation, and it's what I want. You and me for eternity, Jaz. I want you to be my wife." He kissed her. "Qwayz, you're a trip. In a time when folks are running from marriage and commitment--" "I've never gone along with the okey-doke, Jas-of-mine. Isn't that why you're so crazy 'bout me?" "You're pregnant!" Jaz teased. "In love and trouble, tsk-tsk." "I'd be in trouble if you said no, Jaz. That'll mean I was wrong about us all along. Am I?" "No, Qwayz. I'd be honored to be your wife for the rest of my life." Qwayz then sprang the ecru Victorian tea dress with the leg-of-mutton sleeves that Jaz had loved in Memories Boutique. "How can I refuse?" She smiled through tears of happiness. Qwayz was willing, but Jaz nixed the idea of inviting her parents, knowing her father would be vehemently opposed to his daughter marrying so young. So they swore their friends to secrecy, and the Chandler wedding party took off for Tahoe one weekend. TC orchestrated the ceremony with Nat King Cole's "Too Young" as their wedding march. TC hosted the wedding dinner before dangling the bridal suite keys in front of the newlyweds. Qwayz carried his bride away from their friends and into the suite, where the first thing they noticed after he staggered across the room and dumped her on the bed was the beamed ceiling--a reminder of the first time they made love in that French barn. They'd convulsed with laughter and fell asleep in their wedding clothes, she in that gorgeous lace dress with the gardenia wreath on her head and he in his tux. And now their wedding-day images stared back at them. Two blissfully happy newlyweds with a glimpse of the gardenia bouquet. The artist had captured Qwayz's full lips, the little indentation between his top lip and his narrow nose, his high cheekbones, hazel eyes, skin tone, and curly hair. "I didn't expect this masterpiece." Jaz moved closer to inspect their larger-than-life selves. "You are one fine brother!" "It's perfect of you." Qwayz was mesmerized by his wife's intelligent, honey eyes, hooded by dense, long eyelashes and topped by her thick, naturally arched eyebrows. Her curly mane, which fell below her shoulders, was crowned by the halo of gardenias. "Unreal. Who did this? Michelangelo?" "Close. Luchesi Tretoni. He did the painting of us as children that hangs in Dad's office. It's as awful as this is magnificent." "He captured us, Jaz ... the love, the hope, the promise. This is a for-sure bona fide heirloom. You hadn't seen it before?" "No." Jaz slid her arms around Qwayz's waist. "I wanted us to see it together--for the first time on our first anniversary." "Our kids are gonna laugh." He chuckled. "What is it about you, me, and Italy? We're gonna get there one of these days." "Our second honeymoon. I'll get pregnant there." They laughed into each other's arms. "Oh Jaz, thank you. I needed this ... to remind me of how sweet our life together is." They made slow, deliberate love, with not an inkling of urgency from the weeks of deprivation. "Welcome back," she said as they lay spent and satisfied. "It's good to be home." Qwayz kissed her as he interlocked his legs with hers. "If I'd played my cards right we'd be making love at Paradise Rock for our first anni--" "Everything I want, I have whenever you hold me tight," Jaz said. "We are magic, Jaz, and we'll last until the end of time." They giggled and kissed. He thought of the place they'd found after one of their trips to Carmel, where they had regularly stopped to make love until somebody built a house on it. "But it was perfect, Jaz--that secluded granite peninsula jutting out over the Pacific. The sound of the ocean pounding five hundred feet below." "We have a lifetime to discover another special place. Maybe even the Myrtle Beach your dad was so crazy about." "Yeah, but he hadn't seen Paradise Rock. If I'm ever missing, that's where I'll be. Our one-bedroom hideaway from little Q-5 and Amber and Shane." "Oh, Negro, please. We'll name our daughter after your dad's guitar, but I'm not naming our second son after a movie." "Shane Chandler? Sounds ... athletic." "Sounds doofus." "As cool as we are, we'd never have doofus kids." He stretched out his long brown legs and Jake protruded. "I'm kinda cool, how 'bout warming me up?" Qwayz said, and Jaz climbed on top of him, covering his body with hers. She rose above him and held on to the brass headboard, with San Francisco's diamond sky approving beyond. She let her engorged breasts fill Qwayz's passion-soaked eyes. "Have mercy, girlie," he managed before treating each of her chocolate drops to the rough-smooth texture of his tongue. "I love you, Jas-of-mine, don't ever forget that." "Don't ever stop. Promise?" "Promise." Excerpted from Everlastin' Love by Gay G. Gunn All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.