Yes I know, I’m skipping about and all for a reason. I want you to get the full flavor of S&S to see if it’s your cup of tea or java as I hope it is. This novel has many characters, but only a few can be well delineated. Those I only touch on will have enough meat on their psychic bones to let you know where they’re coming from. There are wonderful black, white and couples of other races, happy and unhappy – and real. I think you’ll like the town of Marigold, Maryland on the Eastern Shore, its multiculturism and the striving of the citizens for a good life. Sit back and savor it. Read the prior chapters just under this one, all the way back to what S&S is about. This will be part of a series. Happy reading!
Early December. Dusk with an early moon. Sheba thought the Chesapeake Bay had never been lovelier. Greenish and rippling in the wind, that body of water had always been one of her favorites. It was a cloudy day, warm for December and she turned to Marty as they stood on the deck of Mark and Marguerite’s small yacht, The Heller. “Hey, this is living,” she told him. ” I love being alone with you, but somehow I wish, too, that the whole congregation could come with us for a while, the children who need it most anyway.”
Marty nodded. Right now he felt he only needed his wife; they should grab more time together with just the two of them. “I guess I hadn’t realized how tired I am. Last night’s sleep leaves me rested though. It’s a good thing I got my Mother Vangie’s genes and her energy.” Marty always seemed thoughtful when he spoke of Vangie.
“Sweetheart, don’t forget Rob. He’s got that quiet, slow energy that lasts forever. Ah, dinner was good. I’m still tasting all that great roast beef, sour cream potatoes, veggies and cherry cheesecake.”
Marty grinned and winked at her. “”Should’ve been oysters, don’t you think? For the aphrodisiac effect?”
Sheba threw back her head, laughing, “You are an aphrodisiac, sweetie.”
“And you object?”
“You know the answer to that one.”
“We’re well matched, you and I, and I thank God for that. Lord Shee, I feel sorry for people who despise sex, see it as a curse and a burden instead of the gift from God it is. I’m never going to stop trying to change that.”
Sheba’s face was solemn then. “You’re right of course, but Roman Pittman is going to fight you to the bitter end.”
“Im afraid the man is a hypocrite. His right hand has never known what his left is doing.”
A brisk wind came up, making it cooler. Marty drew her to him. “Why don’t I put my jacket around you?”
Sheba smiled. “I’m comfortable. I guess it’s your heat. Know something, love. You turn me on mightily, and I’m glad.”
“Me too. We’re a great match.” Marty often thought that Sheba had one of the tenderest faces he’d ever seen. Martina had been tender too, but Martina was a woman very much of this world, living it, wresting every moment from it. Sheba was laid back. Looking at her, you knew she saw beyond this world, saw things others didn’t see. So often, he wanted to simply reach into her world and share what he could never share, see what he could never see.
They walked the deck and talked for a while to the captain who had planned this beautiful, romantic trip, played a game of shuffleboard and took a dip in the swimming pool. They stayed aboveboard until the early stars were out and a full moon shone steady. Suddenly Marty drew her body fulllength against his own, his erection pressing into her. His mouth was hard against hers and his big hands roved her back.
Sheba giggled. ”Honey, we’re still on deck. What’s gotten into you so suddenly?”
“Been there all the time. You oughta know by now, the moon does that to me often. Yeah, the moon and holding you. We’ve got to work harder on getting us a baby, love.”
Sheba nodded. “You miss Kaya and Martina so much, I know.”
“I do, but I’ve got you and I’m grateful. I know you miss Scott, but we’re making it together, with God’s help and blessing.”
Stars had brilliantly spangled the sky by then, infrequently covered by clouds as they went arm in arm to their cabin. Throwing the door open, Marty whooped, “This is a second honeymoon. Look at this spread!”
“Um, I see. Beautiful, isn”t it?” The crew had filled the large room with Birds of Paradise, roses and gardenias flown in from Chile, along with sliced honeydews, big luscious bananas, cherries, bunches of huge grapes and chunks of fresh pineapple. A scrumptious table covered with cream-colored damask. gleaming silver, and set with crystal and china held ham, roast beef, chicken, hot breads, salads and several desserts.
For a moment Sheba drew away and went to the refrigerator, “I just know there’s got to be ice cream here.” And there was chocolate, French vanilla, strawberry and rum ice cream. “We could almost feed a large portion of the church with all this.”
But mostly they had eyes for each other, deeply drawn and thrumming with the moon’s glow, night air and ease from the vacation. Surrounded by food, they only sampled it and drank champagne with sliced strawberries. Marty put CD’s on the Bose record player, loaded it with Barry White and last with Wagner’s romantic liebestod from Romeo and Juliet . As the sensuous sounds of Barry’s breathing and his tender sighs covered them, Marty sat on the bed and drew Sheba down onto his lap.
“Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday we’ve got. Let’s make the baby here. You’re a great romantic. What d’you say?”
He thought Sheba looked noncommital. Didn’t she want a baby, after all? She’d often spoken of her fear of having a child and losing it as she had lost Scott’s child. Lord, his heart swelled with pure love, lust and joy at the thought of pouring his seed into her womb and having it turn to a living miracle. His mouth on hers was like fire as he licked her lips, outlining the tender curves and opening her blouse. His experienced hands quickly found the firm brown mounds of her breasts and he laved them fierccely as she moaned, stroking and kneading his scalp.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said softly. “Song of Solomon talks about wearing the loved one as a seal. That’s what I’d like to do with you. They said a seal upon the heart and arm. I wear you as my seal on my soul.”
Through heavy breathing, Sheba told him, “Yes, and he also says that love is stronger than death and jealousy as cruel as the grave. I’m jealous of you sometimes.”
“You bet you are, because I’m jealous of you. We”re not fools about it, neither one of us. I think we’re grownup enough to handle it.”
Without words, he began to undress her then, stroking as he did. With her thong still on, she began undressing him and did not realize how swiftly her hands moved. When both were naked, he took her into his arms and massaged her back as she lay passively. He knew well that at such times he would find her inner walls on fire for him, her heavy, syrupy juice flowing smoothly and her body trembling with desire. Marty’s own body was raw with an almost desperate need. He lost himself in her body and felt consumed with a passion that went far beyond the ordinary. Some part of him knew very well that this was a yearning for fatherhood the way he had felt it before. His mind closed on that thought.
Sheba moved languidly after a moment to get up, as he asked, “Where’re you going? Don’t!” He wanted no interruptions.
She placed a soft hand over his mouth. I want to turn the lights down. They’re so bright.”
In answer he held her fast, his voice husky. “Let the lights stay bright. I want to study you with my eyes blinded with love. Stay still, Shee. Remember Song of Solomon and that gorgeous imagery. Lord, if only we believed in the earthy magic of the Bible as our creator did.” He grinned wickedly then. “Be still, my woman, while I give it all to you.”
“Okay,” she whispered. But after moments, her body moved gently and rhythmically under his. A gift from God, he often said and she agreed. What hurt and disappointment worked within so many to keep this from being available for their use? She arched her back and lifted her hips and he went deeper. She cried his name then and clutched his body fiercely. How would he react to the secret she had to tell him at any moment now?
Slipping out, he roved her body with tender all-over kisses as she moaned softly. Sounds of love they made and Barry’s heated, passionate music filled the room. When he had stopped for a minute, she kissed and stroked him, revelling in the hard, muscular strength of him, as he revelled in hersoftness.
This time when he entered her inner walls clutched him tightly and she cried out, beginning an orgasm that shook her to her core. She felt him jerking inside her in only somewhat delayed ejaculation that thrilled them both. He stayed inside her as they stroked each other.
Then lying beside her, momentarily exhausted, he was drifting to sleep as she propped herself on an elbow by his side. It beat him how he could be so worn out and she still seemed full of energy.
“That was so-o-o good,” she said softly
“Yeah. We only have the good, better and best and they’re all intertwined.”
She wanted to talk and he wanted to sleep. He grinned a bit to himself, always pleased when she seemed so satisfied. She brushed kisses across his forehead. “Wake up, sleepyhead.”
“You’re being cruel.”
“Um-m-m, I know. Cruelty sometimes goes hand in hand with passion. Don’t you know that?”
“If you don’t let me sleep, you won’t get anymore.”
“Sleep then and wake up and I’ll tell you a secret.”
His eyes opened wide then as he looked at her beatific face and knew.
“Sweetheart, I think I’m pregnant. I took the e.p.t. before we left and it says yes.”
He caught her in a bear hug then and held her, his eyes misting with tears. “You made an appointment to verify this with your doctor?”
“I wanted to see when you’re free to go with me.”
“Any time at all. Lord, Shee, I could dance on the deck all night now. I’m one happy man.”
“So am I. Now I’m sleepy.”
He held her then and after a while he slept in her arms.
Sheba couldn’t sleep. Maybe there wasn’t a baby, but a false positive. Did she want it to be positive? Remembering how she’d hurt when she lost Scott’s baby in the accident-perhaps-on-purpose, she still hurt. It didn’t help that before they were married, Marty’s bigoted brother, Pete, had come to the church when Marty wasn’t there.
“I hope you two know what you’re doing,” he’d growled. “Preacher or not, old Marty sowed a lot of wild oats before he married. From what I’ve heard, you’ve been pretty quiet. You two could make it, I guess, but what if you get pregnant? I never heard anybody say that mixed blood kids have anything other than a hard time.”
“We’re all mixed, Pete. You ought to know that. Think about it.”
Pete had turned beet red. “Just trying to help since you’re in the family. I’ve got a hellfire happy life married to a white woman, and I reckon I just want others to have the same. I don’t think you’re headed that way.”
She had excused herself and walked away. She had thought about what an interracial marriage would mean to a child, but then from the beginning Marty had told her about Vangie’s deathbed confession: that he might have black blood. Something else she hadn’t thought about. She’d walked away from Pete because she was seeing him with that graveyard haze for the first time. This was what she called the aura of light that had surrounded Scott again and again before he died. And had surrounded Uncle Luther. She shuddered. No, she wasn’t going into that again.
After an hour had passed with Marty sleeping, she leaned forward and gently blew on his eyes until he came awake. “I’m craving ice cream in several flavors and I want company while I stuff myself.”
“I was having a dream about you.”
“And I love my partner in crime.”
He sat up and brought her to him, feeling the swift beat of her heart. “I think we ought to read some of Solomon’s Song tonight, considering those two got there long before we did.”
When Marty looked at her the way he did now, Sheba felt light and happy.. She had felt this way with Scott, and look at the suffering she’d known. She shook her head. It wasn’t wise. She was too old for this sweeping surge of sexuality and sensuality. Nonsense, she chided herself. Sure, she was 41 to Marty’s 34, but neither fit the molds of certain ages. Look at Papa Joe and Miss Addie. And Papa Joe and her late grandmother had been lovers she was certain until her grandmother died.
The different flavors of ice cream were delectable, rich and fattening. Well, she thought, they both usually watched their diets. Marty fed her and she fed him, with cold ice cream kisses in between. He laughed. “This ought to cool some of the heat.”
“I doubt it.”
He placed a spread-fingered hand on her belly and smiled with his eyes closed. Then his face grew somber. “Shee, I’m going to calll and write to Christian’s sister, Elizabeth, my aunt if he proves to be my father.”
She drew in a sharp breath. “But why now, love? You’re going to hurt Rob, you know. He doesn’t want you to.”
He shook his head. “I’ve got to know and it really hit me hard sleeping just now. There’s the matter of genes and illnesses passed on. Even if I didn’t need to know and I do need to know, this kid will need it. Neither of us would ever forgive ourselves if some disability developed and we didn’t know enough about my true heritage to heal it. Rob will understand.”
His eyes were distant again and she wondered if he thought of his unknown father, or of Vangie, but most likely, she thought, it was of Martina and their fabled love. Had she been stupid to marry him?
“It could have been so different,” she said sadly. “With Martina, it was different. Your life was safe and comfortable. Now I’ve brought danger into it. We don’t know where this will lead.”
He didn’t miss a beat as he caught her to him fiercely. “Danger, Shee? I’ve led a hell of a life, sometimes with death and madness surging in me so bad it scared me senseless. No, you brought life and sanity back the way I knew it as a boy. Vangie didn’t believe love knew any boundaries. Now I believe with all my heart it doesn’t.”
“You had a great love with Martina and a great family with Kaya. You can’t deny that.”
“And I never would, but you had the same with Scott, or it would have been complete in a few months.”
She had watched him from the moment she spoke of his marriage and the same shadow lay on his countenance that was always there when she sought to talk about his life with Martina. Damn it, they needed to talk about that! She talked with him about Scott and he responded well. But it had come to seem that his life with Martina was a closed book; no, a locked book, she amended. Lying here, they had made love with all their hearts. She had told him about the possible baby, and he had seemed overjoyed. Yet, in some part of himself, he might as well have been a million miles away.
What does lie in store for Sheba and Marty? Can their love survive the differences of what lies in their hearts as much as race? Next time, Marty and Sheba visit New Orleans and Elizabeth Moncrief, sister to the African American man who may be Marty’s father. On the phone she had agreed to see him, but had not been cordial. Will she let him have the body that he wants for DNA to prove his parentage? Rob can take it, Marty assured Sheba. It seemed to her that Pete, his brother, was the only winner, because he stood far more certain to win the prize of his father’s wealth than ever before if Marty’s father proves to be Christian Moncrief.
I really look forward to seeing you here again for this installment of Solomon and Sheba. Do be my guest!