Love on a Two-Way Street: A Novel

Love on a Two-Way Street: A Novel

by Cheryl Denise Ward

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524642075
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 09/26/2016
Pages: 238
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.54(d)

About the Author

This is my third fiction novel (love story) and writing has most certainly proven to be one of my life's passions and it come through in each book. It is my belief that fiction is not merely for entertain but it can also be utilized as a tool for personal transformation as the reader gleans mirrored images of him/herself through various characters and incidents in the books and implements them as opportunities for growth. I too grow as I write and develop characters and walk through the issues of their lives.

At present, I am completing a Doctor pf Philosophy Degree (PhD) at Foundation House - Oxford in Leadership Studies. I am also an ordained minister and celebrating 36 years in ministry.

When people read that a minister writes ""steamy love stories"" they are either intrigued or offended. I believe love and intimacy are a part of life and enjoy including it in the lives of characters. I simply tell those who are offended my work, there are thousands of other books and authors to read.

At present, I reside in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have four adopted adult children and three wonderful grandchildren.

Read an Excerpt

Love on a Two-Way Street

A Novel


By Cheryl Denise Ward

AuthorHouse

Copyright © 2016 Cheryl Denise Ward
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5246-4207-5


CHAPTER 1

You can choose your friends, but you're virtually stuck with your family! My mother used to say that when she was disgusted with some of our family members. For the most part, I'm pretty close to my immediate family, but my cousin and one of my sisters in particular push me to the edge on a regular basis.

Take my cousin Yolanda for example; she is ghetto personified. If you looked up the word in the dictionary, I know there must a big picture of her and all five of her kids and her baby daddies. This girl has never held a job for more than a year, collects welfare and food stamps for her kids, and lives in state-subsidized housing. Now, don't get it confused! She lives in a brand-spanking-new five-bedroom house in Brentwood, and the government pays for it. Rather, you and I, hardworking taxpayers, pay for it! None of us understand why she has never been able to get her life together. Big Mama (our grandmother) thinks Uncle Tim and Aunt Bunny were too old and tired by the time they had her, and they couldn't control her by the time she became a teenager. All of us have tried to help her and to make a difference in the life of her children, but she sabotages anything positive we try to do with them.

My sister Tina is in a class all by herself. She has been jealous of me and our adopted sister, Bernie, since we were teenagers. She says I think I'm better than she is, that I treat Bernie better than I ever treated her and she's my real sister, and that Big Mama always played favorites with me. None of these accusations are warranted, and to this day, it still hurts whenever she says it. I'm only five feet four inches tall; I wear a size eight on good days and a nine or ten on the other days. My hips grow uncontrollably, my skin is caramel brown, and my hair is nappy if I don't keep it permed on a regular basis. Tina, on the other hand, is five foot seven, light brown, curvaceous, with long curly hair. She got her hair from our father, and I got mine from Mom. She can wet her hair and it curls and waves up naturally. If I let a drip of water touch my hair, I look like I put my finger in a light socket, and the back of my hair feels like a Brillo pad. She used her looks to get ahead, and I used my brain. It's not that I'm not pretty, but I always thought she was much more beautiful than I am.

I also think she is smarter than I am because she could always make perfect grades without really studying. I struggled through high school, college, and especially medical school. I know I made it on a wing and a prayer. Tina works as a customer service representative for an insurance company, she did not go to college, and she always talks about getting ahead without putting forth any effort. She lives in a two-bedroom apartment in a rough neighborhood and is raising her daughter, Brittney, alone. Brittney spends every other weekend with her father, Jimmy. We grew up with him, and he has always been a decent man for the most part. Tina was so angry with life in general that she ran Jimmy off after they had been married for almost ten years. We all loved Jimmy, but he chose to stop coming around the family because Tina treated him so badly. I'm glad that he didn't let her drive a wedge in his relationship with Brittney.

Big Mama, my grandmother, moved us in with her after our mom passed away suddenly when were kids. She said that Daddy was a good man, but he didn't know what in the world to do with two little girls. He came to see us every day after work, and we were close to him until he died. Big Daddy, our grandfather, was a built-in second father, and he loved us as if we were his little princesses. He died two years ago.

Bernadette ("Bernie") moved in with us when she was twelve, I was ten, and Tina was eight. Her mother was living the fast life, and she was virtually raising herself. Big Mama let her spend the night at our house most of the time, and she eventually moved in with us. Her mother tried to make a fuss about it, but Big Mama threatened to expose some of her dirty little secrets, and she backed down. She didn't really care about Bernie; she just didn't want to lose her welfare check.

Now that we're all in our forties, it would seem that tensions would be less between Tina, Bernie, and me, but it actually seems worse, especially since Rusty and I got married. Tina goes off over any little thing and doesn't have a nice word to say to either of us. When Bernie was planning to remarry her ex-husband, Greg, but discovered he was on the down-low, I swear Tina celebrated the breakup. Bernie is much more patient with her and her antics than I have ever been. She seems to just be able to ignore her for the most part, but it always bothers me.

Rusty takes it all in stride, but he is closest to Bernie and Big Mama. His parents moved to California two years ago, and Bernie rented one of her houses out to them. They were culture shocked, to say the least, when they saw the prices of property. Big Mama lives directly across the street from them in the same house we all grew up in. Cille, Rusty's mom, and Big Mama hit it off like sisters from the very first moment they met. Percy, Rusty's father, seems content as long as he has a meal, a big chair, and a remote control for the television. They are the sweetest in-laws I could have ever asked for. We've tried to get them all to move to Oakland, where we live, but they won't budge. Big Mama says she hasn't lost anything across the bridge. I can get her to spend a few nights at our house, but she refuses to move anywhere.

Janay, Rusty's daughter, is seventeen and in her senior year of high school. She gave me hell when Rusty and I first started dating, but now she treats me like I'm her best friend. She absolutely adores Bernie and probably talks to her more than me and her dad. She gets good grades and is applying to lots of different colleges across the country. Janet, her mother, only surfaces when she wants to use Janay to piss Rusty off or try to drive a wedge in her relationship with me. She is a very successful ad agent who travels most of the time with her job, but I swear she spends her spare time trying to figure out how to screw up Janay's life. Fortunately, Rusty polices most of their interactions, and his parents don't do a bad job keeping an eye on her either. I actually think Janet is afraid of Cille. I don't know what Cille has said to her in the past, but I do know that she straightens up if she gets a phone call from her. When I asked Cille about it, she just said, "You always have to put the fear of God in women like Janet. And I didn't get to be this old bein' no fool!"

Rusty and I are getting ready to celebrate our third wedding anniversary. I actually thought that the honeymoon would last longer than it did, but we seem to be as routine as an old married couple. We go to work, we come home, and we start all over again. We have to schedule a date night to even catch up on what's going on in each other's lives. We try to have dinner together at least three nights per week, but sometimes we're lucky if we get two. His janitorial service keeps him hopping in the evenings, and he's working at the hospital at least nine or ten hours during the day. I can pretty much control my schedule since I'm not performing many surgeries anymore. It was my idea to spend more time in my practice, instead of performing surgeries, so I could have more time at home with him, but things don't seem to have worked out the way I thought they would.

I waited until I was forty-one years old to get married, and I tried to set my life up in a way that allowed me to not feel torn between my work and my husband. Rusty seemed to get even busier after we got married. We get along pretty well for the most part. He seems to be a little more settled about the fact that we live in my house. I had just moved when we decided to get married, and it has just been a smarter financial decision to stay here than to move. I try to watch my language in terms of saying "us" and "our" because it's a really sensitive issue with him. He feels good about his business, and I know he loves being in management at the hospital.

Maybe it's me. I had a picture in my mind about the way I thought our home life would play out, but lately I can't even seem to get a glimpse of that picture. I thought about bringing it up the other night, but we agreed that we wouldn't discuss anything negative on date nights. Frankly, I think the nights could go better if we put it out on the table and came up with some sort of resolution. But I could be wrong. Rusty may be feeling as if everything is fine, which again means that I'm the only one with a problem. Men are funny! You never know exactly what they're feeling unless they're angry. Fortunately, Rusty learned to control his anger before we got married. Now, he gets super quiet when there's something on his mind. I'm glad that he learned not to blow his top, but at least then I knew what he was thinking. Three years of marriage have taught me not to push the issue either, because that just sends him further into his little cave. The part that I'm still working on is being at peace while he processes his thoughts by himself.

I think I'll call Bernie and talk to her about it.

"Sensations Gallery, this is Bernadette. How may I help you?" "Hey, girl. How are you?"

"Oh, hey. How are you?" she asked.

"I'm fine. My last patient was at two o'clock, so I decided to come on home. I was going to come by."

"You were going to come by? You don't just stop by the gallery! What's on your mind?" she asked suspiciously.

"Now, why does something have to be on my mind? Can't I just stop by and visit my sister? I might be shopping for new artwork." "Yeah, right." She laughed.

"Whatever!"

"C'mon. Leslie's here. She can take over while I'm gone."

"Gone? Where are you going?"

"Someplace my sister can tell me what's on her mind."

"Hush, Bernie. I'll be there in a few minutes," I retorted. "Starbucks or a bar?"

"What?"

"Can we go to a coffee shop, or do you need a drink?"

"Bye," I said.

"Bye," she replied as she laughed and hung up the phone.


Her Journal

Dear Journal,

Don't get me wrong! I love my husband. Janay is a delight to have in the house. My practice is not too busy and not too slow. I feel loved and supported by my family and my friends, but still something seems to be missing. I thought that Rusty and I would still feel like we're on our honeymoon for several years, but it feels like we're just roommates. We go to work and come home like we're in a rut. He works more hours than I do, and he's really tired when he finally gets home. He cooks if he gets home before I do, and he calls to check in when he's out at his janitorial sites at night. If he's going to work late, he'll call to say good night, and he never hangs up without saying, "I love you." While all of this is great, we see each other like ships passing in the night. I'm asleep when he gets home, and we both have to get up early to be at the office. Although we work at the same hospital, we rarely get to pull away from our schedules to see each other during the day. Unfortunately, I'm usually with a patient when he stops by my office or he's in a meeting when I stop by his.

I generally try to keep my family out of our business, but I'm getting ready to talk to Bernie about it. She generally has a level head and remains neutral when I discuss Rusty with her, although I do think that she chooses his side over mine more often than not. Wait a minute! I can't even believe I'm talking this way. I sound like a teenager. It has never been about having or choosing a side. Rusty and I are one. We seldom argue, and when we do, it's because one of us has misunderstood the other person. The lack of time together is causing me to second-guess myself and feel insecure. I've never struggled with these kind of issues, and I can't believe I'm allowing it to happen now.

Rusty seems happy. I'm the only one who's feeling like something has changed. Isn't it a little early in our marriage to be feeling this way? I'm walking around wondering if he's still attracted to me or if he's bored with our relationship. This is totally different for me.


His Thoughts

I've been working around the clock for the past year, and I don't see an end in sight. A brother can't complain because it is truly a blessing to have a job and own my own business too. I have a beautiful, successful wife who loves my black behind and a daughter who's getting ready to go away to college. Lord knows Janay's story could have been totally different given her crazy mama's behavior since Angel and I got married. She tried to start some mess when we first started dating, but I quickly put a stop to it. She still tries to poison Janay's mind about me and Angel, but Janay has always been a pretty independent thinker and makes up her own mind about people. Besides, I think Angel has done a good job at filling in that maternal void that Janet left in Janay's life. Now, don't get me wrong; Angel has never tried to take Janet's place, but she seems to naturally know how to make Janay feel comfortable, loved, and wanted. Sometimes I think she tells Angel more than she tells me; but I'm cool with that since she's a woman. There are some things a father does not want to discuss with his baby girl. Big Mama and Bernie spoil her as much as Mama and Daddy. That girl has it so good, and she doesn't even know it. But she makes good grades, and I can't complain because she got an attitude adjustment before I had to make good on my promise to kill her, and she's on the honor roll.

I'm so tired. I can't seem to ever get more than five hours of sleep at night before its time to get up and go to the hospital. For once, my weekend employees are taking care of my contracts correctly and I'm only working six days a week. I try my best to be off on Sunday so I can go to church with Angel and Janay, and then to Big Mama's house for Sunday dinner. Angel gets a little upset because I sleep for the rest of the day, but

she has to understand that it's my only real day of rest. She tries to get me to let go of some of my contracts so I can have more time off work, but I like those checks. I know she thinks we are financially comfortable enough to do it, but I don't want to depend on her. Besides, I knew that I was going to have to work harder if I was going to be able to keep a woman like her happy. She still makes more money than me, but I can and do take good care of her and Janay. We are really blessed, and I'm grateful.

CHAPTER 2

Bernie met me at Jack's Bistro. It's one of my favorite spots to sit and talk because it has a nice decor and sits right on the waterfront. Bernie hurriedly made her way over to the booth where I was waiting. She was impeccably dressed as usual, with a brown suede pantsuit, a sheer beige tank, and a beautiful gold belt with matching jewelry. Her hair is always whipped like she just stepped out of the beauty shop. She had it cut short and tapered in the back.

Bernie works out more than the average person, so her five-foot-seven frame is well toned, which makes her clothes look even better. She was her usual jovial self as she leaned over and gave me a kiss and then took her time picking my clothes apart as she sat down.

"Is that a new jacket? I've never seen it before," she inquired.

"No. I've had it for at least a year."

"No, you haven't. I would've remembered a lime-green jacket."

"I take it you like it," I replied.

"I love the color. I think I would look better in it."

"I'm sure you would." I laughed.

"Did you order yet?" asked Bernie.

"No, I was waiting for you."

"That was very kind of you!" Bernie teased.

"Yes, it was. Considering how you never wait for me."

"No, I don't, especially if I'm starving like I am now," she said as she read the menu.

"How 'bout some calamari?" I asked.

"Okay. Do you want an apple martini?"

"Yeah, why not? I'm off for the rest of the day."

Bernie turned to the waiter, who was patiently waiting to take our order. "Two apple martinis, two Caesar salads, and an order of calamari, please."

The waiter thanked us and hurried away.

"Bern, you were right. I did want to talk to you about something." "I know."

"Yeah, whatever" I replied.

"Everything okay?"

"Yes, but I need some advice."

"What's up?" she asked as she relaxed into her seat.

"I don't want to say that something is wrong."

"But?" she inquired.

"But ..." Just as I was about to speak, the waiter brought our drinks and food. I waited until he set everything on the table and walked away before continuing. "I'm not saying that I'm not happy, but Rusty and I aren't spending much time together these days."

"Really?" she asked in a surprised tone.

"No. We might get to have dinner together twice a week if I'm lucky."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Love on a Two-Way Street by Cheryl Denise Ward. Copyright © 2016 Cheryl Denise Ward. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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