BY: NORMA LEHR
They’ve been through countless lifetimes together, but they never seem to get it right…
Jesseree Lipton, high-class model, is troubled by weird dreams and visions of past times and strange places she has never been. Blaming it on the stress of her high-pressure job and fast-paced life in 1980s San Francisco, she decides to get away for a while. Breaking up with her drug-addicted boyfriend and taking a leave of absence from her job, Jess leaves everything behind and heads for a Buddhist retreat in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There she locks horns with Devon Pearson, an East Indian-American instructor. As Jess and Devon struggle to understand both their animosity to each other and their strong physical attraction, they discover that they have been together through many past lives, where they failed to overcome the obstacles set before them. Can these star-crossed lovers cast aside their endless and ageless misunderstandings to achieve enlightenment and everlasting love, or will they be forced to blunder through even more lifetimes together before they finally gain what they seek?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Love Everlasting by Norma Lehr, Jesseree Lipton is a high-fashion model with a druggie for a boyfriend. When she starts having strange dreams, even when she’s awake, she decides that the stress of her high-pressure life is making her crazy. Breaking up with her boyfriend, who seems to be turning psychotic, she heads for the Sierra Nevada Mountains and a retreat run by Buddhists. There she meets Devon Pearson, who seems determined to hate her. And she doesn’t understand why. As she struggles with both her animosity and her attraction for Devon, she learns that she and Devon have been together in many past lives. But they always screw it up so they can never stay together, and this time it doesn’t seem to be working out any better.
The book has a strong plot with a number of surprises I didn’t see coming. It’s well written with some thought-provoking concepts and a sweet romance that will warm your heart.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Love Everlasting by Norma Lehr is the story of two people whose love for each other transcends time. Jesseree Lipton and Devon Pearson are star-crossed lovers who have spent lifetimes together, but can never seem to find the happiness they seek. Something or someone always tears them apart. Now they are reunited in this lifetime in San Francisco in 1980, but the prospects are not good for them finally getting it right. They don’t even like each other, for one thing, though the physical attraction is strong. And secondly, Jess is having visions and dreams that she doesn’t understand. When a friend suggests that she get away for a while, Jess embraces the idea wholeheartedly. She takes a sabbatical from her fashion-modeling job, breaks up with her drug-addicted lawyer boyfriend, and heads for a Buddhist commune in the California mountains where Devon teaches spiritualism. He doesn’t want her there, but he’s not in charge and she’s allowed to stay. They clash often, but as Jess unwinds and begins her journey of self-discovery, she learns that she and Devon have been down this road before, and it ends badly every time.
Love Everlasting is a poignant and intriguing story of loss, love, and the lessons we need to learn as humans. The characters are charming, the plot’s interesting, and it has enough twists and turns to keep you hooked from the beginning.
The Lost Continent:
Caho-Fan bent low over her devoted scribe stretched out on the wide wooden pallet. His head rested on his arms and he groaned with pleasure as she tenderly massaged his feet with scented oil from a round clay vessel.
The sultry air hanging heavy in the Great Temple of Knowledge lent itself to the desires of the flesh as Caho-Fan’s fingers, heavily ringed with jewels, kneaded the oily pool into his ankles. She worked his solid calves, rose to his thighs, then upward to his broad back, caressing his muscles beneath his firm skin.
In the distance through the arches of her private chambers, dark billows of smoke from volcanic eruptions rose tall against the sky. Closer in, sea water filled with charred debris lapped against the mammoth steps of the stone temple, and she shuddered, recalling the last deluge as it rushed toward the columned entrance to the east. Once again her mind’s eye beheld the terrible shaking cataclysm. Buildings and earth crumbled in one gigantic rumble, heaving, and submerging great chunks of land and its screaming masses to their fate beneath the sea.
Now the dark waters rose again. Those who had survived the sinking continent had gone ahead. They had left in haste to reach higher ground, seeking safety on the plateaus.
A low groan from the scribe brought her back to the present, and she began rubbing vigorously with longer strokes. Her breath came in small gasps.
Turning on his side, he reached up and held her wrists. “I must leave now, Caho-Fan. It is late.” His dark eyes filled with despair. “The last ship to Egyo awaits me at the dock.”
She trembled as he pressed her fingers to his lips. “No. No,” she pleaded.” Do not leave me, my love, my life. A cruel future awaits me without you to guide me.”
Lowering herself next to him on the pallet, she pulled him close to her carefully scented body and brushed his mouth with her lips. “Come with me to the High Mountain,” she whispered. “Together we will build the new temple. A new empire.”
“But my destiny lies with the colony.” He slowly shook his head. “I must follow the papyrus scrolls to the temple in the east. I am the only one left to transcribe the symbols. My work is there on the far side of the world.”
Caho-Fan wept silently. Her warm tears fell on his bare shoulder. He held her close while he tried to console her.
“At a future time we will be together again,” he promised. “But for now your destiny is to rule. Mine is to go.” He wiped her tears with his fingers. “Do not forget you are a daughter of a God, while I am only a son of man. The betrothal to your half-brother has been recorded.”
“Then the edict must be altered, “she cried. “I will bow before the Council and beg that you be sent away with me.”
“Ah, my priestess. With all your power and wisdom, you are ignorant to the ways of men. It matters not what the Council decrees. You forget that your half-brother is a man.” The scribe’s eyes narrowed. “And a cunning one. Even with his youth, he senses our bond. He would follow and destroy us if we choose that path.” He leaned back. “My Goddess, daughter of the Rain God, Tec-Tal, no man is worthy of you. When your mother requested to conceive of the Gods, she vowed her offspring would rule the High Lands when the prophecy of the great flood came upon us. The Gods and your mother are aware that the time is near. It is recorded that we all leave swiftly.”
“Then I order you to come with me,” she cried, pulling him to her. “I will hide you beneath the linens in the ten wheeled cart. When my brother discovers you have journeyed with us, he will be helpless.” She lifted her chin in a regal pose. “I will have all the power. No one will listen to his childish cries of anger. The Tribunal will have sailed for the colony and the Council chooses to sink into the sea with the Crystal.”
“And what of your mother? She has power as the High Priestess.”
“My mother.” Caho-Fan turned away and wept softly. “Mother wishes to leave her ageing body to the ravages of the final cataclysm. Oh, beloved. Do you not see? I cannot go forth to lead new tribes without your strength and wisdom. My mother will be gone. My brother is too young. He holds no vision. I need you.”
He stared up at the gossamer purple fabric draped across the stone ceiling. She closed her eyes, summoning the power bequeathed her by her father, Tec-TAl. She rose from the pallet and stood stately. An effusion of light beamed from her spiritual eye. Loosening the gold bejeweled girdle encircling her waist, she shook free of her white robe, allowing it to cascade around her feet. With her chin held high, she stepped forth leaving the garment behind on the marble floor. Lifting her slender fingers to the nape of her neck, she removed two shell combs releasing a thick halo of hair to fall around her shoulders and breasts like a golden sheath.
In the dim smoky light of mid-day, she lowered her naked body beside him on the pallet. Drawing him into her circle of shimmering light, she held him as the earth trembled beneath the temple floors.
San Francisco, 1980:
Click: “Jess, stand still.”
Click–click: “Fix her lipstick, it’s smeared again.”
Click: “Chin down–look up. Up here–damn, Jess, look alive. Closer to the fans–hair’s not blowing. I want a sea breeze!”
The platform shifted. A wavelike motion caught her, pushed her off balance. No more platforms. Only sinking sand.
“Grab her, for Chrissake. Will someone grab her hands?”
She groped, reached up, and screamed. And screamed and screamed.
Jesseree bolted up in bed. Her heart pounded in her throat. Spastic breaths held her spine erect as she pressed her forehead with a clammy palm, pasting strands of blond hair to her face. Her fingers clutched her throat in an attempt to still the throbbing. Squinting through the darkness she searched for something familiar.
Where were the cameras? The photographers?
She jumped as a gust of wind flapped a curtain at the open window above her. A strong salty smell from the bay blew in, rustling the sheet next to her thigh. Aware now that she lay next to Jacob, she sank back on the damp pillow with relief while she struggled to calm her breath.
Don’t wake him, she told herself. Let him sleep.
This dream, the same one for months now, scared her. Each time the terror of sinking grew worse. What did it mean? She was losing sleep and it showed. Lately when she looked in the mirror, she could count the light crow’s feet forming around her eyes. Could be this sinking dream meant she felt panic about her age. Twenty-eight wasn’t old, but in her business, models were forced to look young forever in front of the camera or lose their jobs.
Valium. That’s what she needed. A call to her therapist in the morning would get her a refill. But what about tomorrow? She had a shoot in the morning. How would she manage to work with no sleep? And this client? One of the worst. Their booze ads demanded the models look bright and sexy to sell their product.
She allowed herself another few minutes of rest before sliding her long legs over the side of the bed. In two strides, she reached the bathroom.
“Hey. What’s going on?” Jacob Kelso rose up on his elbow, blinking at the light.
“Gotta go home,” she called through the cracked door.
He flopped back down. “Why?”
“I’ve got a shoot in the morning. If I go to sleep here, I’ll never make it.”
“Set the alarm,” he snapped. “You can get up.” He turned his face to the wall.
What was his problem now? She didn’t have time for this. For the last month he’d been intolerable. Nothing she did pleased him. She shook her head and sighed. He certainly wasn’t the same person she’d started dating six months ago.
“Sorry, Kelso,” she called out. “I’ll see you tonight. The party for Lee. Remember?”
She opened the bathroom door and, after a quick run of her fingers through hair, zipped up her jeans, and grabbed her oversize leather bag from a chair.
“Be sure and wear your boogie shoes,” she added. “The party’s at Oz.”
She waited a moment. When he didn’t reply, she shrugged and left.
The San Francisco fog veiled and distorted the familiar landmarks that guided Jesseree the two blocks from Jacob’s place to hers. Buildings, pole lights, and storefronts suddenly loomed out of nowhere as she made her way along Lombard Street. This neighborhood, close to the Marina, was considered safe. But still, on a foggy night, everything appeared eerie.
Still haunted by her dream, she switched her thoughts to Jacob. Why did she put up with him and his problems when she had enough of her own? His mood swings and his possessiveness were driving her crazy. Last month, she’d been to see Paula, her therapist, twice a week instead of the usual once.
Jacob might be a brilliant law student, but he could act the fool when it came to her. She should be able to tell him about this recurring nightmare without his nasty verbal pokes. One night at his place, when she awoke in a sweat, she had tried, really tried to make him understand how real the dream was, and how terrified it made her feel when she started to sink, but he had only grinned and spit out that it must be time for her to see her therapist again, at old “Paula’s pad for psychos.”
With a sarcastic snort, he’d begin his lecture again about how he could settle all of her problems if they got married. “When I’ve finished my studies, you won’t have to work. It’s your job that makes you crazy.”
He could be right about her job, but not about marriage. She wasn’t anywhere close to that kind of commitment. And the more time she spent alone with Jacob, the firmer her resolve became that marriage to him would never happen.
As she entered the foyer of the green stucco apartment building she called home, she sighed with relief. Her refuge. She dug her keys from her bag and unlocked the first door on her left. Once inside, she collapsed into the recliner. Glancing at her watch, she moaned. In five short hours she’d be back on the merry-go-round again.
Her stomach growled, but she forced her eyes away from the kitchen, confirming with a nod that tomorrow every ounce would photograph like a pound. The hunger pangs clamped hard in her middle, and she pulled her knees to her chest. Placing her head on the arm of the plush chair, she closed her eyes and fell asleep.
The outside elevator of the St. Francis Hotel jetted toward the top floor, sending city lights tumbling like diamonds spilled from a giant bucket. The designer couples sardined in the swift moving glass box, chatted with excitement.
Jesseree gazed out at the nighttime splendor dramatically spread at her feet. San Francisco after dark. Breathtaking. She stood next to Jacob at the back of the elevator and looked down at his face. Conscious of her height when he escorted her, she usually wore dressy flats, but tonight she wore two inch heels. He had already complained. Let him! Her sensational outfit called for height. A number of top models and their agents would be attending this party tonight, and she was expected by her modeling agency to look striking.
She adjusted her cinnamon satin sash, feeling comfortably chic in Giorgio Armani’s black Japanese pajama. Delighted with her choice, she planned to be a standout. She nodded to herself. Stunning! That’s what this big time fashion game was all about.
Jacob pressed close to her, his eyes already murky from drink. “Don’t wander off without me, Jess, okay?”
Good Lord, she thought. He’s already making demands. Well, he better cool his drinking. If he did anything tonight to embarrass her, she swore she’d leave him for good.
“Your hair, Jacob.” She attempted to change the subject. “Who styled it?”
“A little place on Union.” His eyes narrowed.” Why? What’s wrong with it?”
“Nothing.” She raised her shoulders. “You really have great hair. That’s all. It takes lots of bucks to have mine done right.”
The elevator jarred to a stop and the doors hummed open. The small talk ended and she vowed to be patient as she followed the flow of glitter into the fabulous Disco called OZ.
© 2016 by Norma Lehr