Sunday, January 29, 2006

Side Dishes - Ch. 13

After their long flight, Delane and Petra freshened up in their hotel room. Then they drove the luxury black sedan he’d rented to Sage’s address on that sun-drenched May 30th afternoon. Perusing the middleclass neighborhood that his ex-wife lived in before pulling up in front of her red brick three-story apartment building, Delane was pleased to see that the lawns and homes in the area were well maintained and that the children that were playing outside were well monitored by caring adults.

Wonder what the properties in this neighborhood go for, he mused, thinking like the avid property buyer that he was.

Although Delane already owned large sections of property in Protégé, he saw no need to limit his real estate ventures just to Arizona. Especially now that his son lived in Georgia.

As soon as Delane parked the car in the small parking lot of the apartment complex, he noticed a woman and child heading towards a blue van two cars away. Right before they made it to the van, the woman stopped and allowed the little boy to tie his black leather shoes. The child seemed too young to be able to do that already, but sure enough he was doing it and with finesse, too.

From the woman’s figure alone, Delane’s mind told him that she was Sage. His body knew it, too, because it immediately began to react to the sight of her in the beige, rhinestone studded, silk skirt-set and matching leather mesh pumps.

Petra frowned and narrowed her eyes as she noticed Delane staring at the woman with pure lust swimming in his eyes. Any minute now she expected to see him drooling at the mouth.

So that’s her, she mused angrily, never having seen a picture of Sage even though she’d heard a lot about her. Even now, Petra couldn’t see what Delane found so special about his ex-wife. In her bias opinion, Sage was pretty, but not beautiful with her ordinary features that consisted of bronze skin, ebony eyes, and short black wavy hair that was layered about her round face.

Furthermore, Petra deemed Sage as shapely, but not in the best physical condition as evidenced by the wide hips and plump derriere she’d gained from her pregnancy. And Sage was much shorter than Petra expected her to be.

So what if she has the kind of bosom most women would pay thousands of dollars for, Petra mused, not realizing just how biased her assessment of Sage was. But then again, what other kind of assessment would a bitter rival have?

“I’m assuming that’s her,” Petra finally said aloud, deciding to address the obvious since her traveling companion was too star-struck to get the ball rolling.

“Yes,” Delane replied huskily before quickly clearing his throat. “Yeah, that’s her, which means that that little boy she’s with must be my son.”

He now focused the whole of his attention on the robust looking child with Sage. Not only was Delaney well dressed in the white dress shirt, black vest, and black trousers, he also looked well fed which meant that Sage was being a good mother to him. And the fact that the child had an athletic build instead of the chubby frame that his father used to have meant that she kept him active. Delane was very pleased about that also since he didn’t want his son to go through the ridicule that he’d endured growing up.

“Well, are we going to get out or what?” Petra asked, ready to get this family reunion of sorts on over with so that they could hurry back to Arizona.

In answer, Delane opened the driver’s side door and got out, completely forgetting to go around the car to open Petra’s door in his usual gentlemanly manner. It appeared that he only had eyes for his ex-wife and his child. As a result, Petra got out of the car with even more rising ire pricking at her heart.

Sage stopped mid-stride as she recognized the man coming towards her with a mixture of anger and lust dancing in his eyes. She had no idea that those two emotions could co-exist, but they obviously could because Delane’s caramel pools were living proof of it.

“Delane?” Sage gasped at the sight of her ex-husband in the tailored navy suit and gray dress shirt he wore. She suddenly felt hot all over even though it was a cool evening with a slight breeze.

In her distraction, Sage involuntarily held their son’s hand tighter than usual. When she heard Delaney wince beside her, she instantly relaxed her hold on him. “I’m sorry, little man,” she said apologetically, briefly glancing down at their son.

“Yes, it’s me, despite your failure to leave your address and phone number as requested,” Delane said, looking at Sage with disdain before glancing down at their son, as well. He soon found identical caramel-colored eyes staring back up at him.

Fortunately, Delane’s sour look lasted only a split second because he couldn’t help but smile at the sight of his dimple-faced firstborn. In fact, potent tenderness evaded his soul towards the child that was so obviously his.

“But I did leave…” a puzzled Sage started right before she was rudely interrupted by the sound of Petra loudly slamming the passenger side door of the sedan only two vehicles away.

“Hello, Delaney. Do you know who I am?” Delane asked, ignoring his ex-wife for the moment as he began to speak directly to their son.

The child shook his head, never having seen even a picture of his father since Delane never liked taking pictures when he was bigger. He still didn’t have many photos of himself. However, Petra possessed several pictures of him. In fact, her bedroom walls were adorned with them, most were from the weightlifting competitions she’d encouraged Delane to enter over the time they’d been dating.

“Who is he, Mommy?” Delaney asked. He looked to his mother for answers as most kids usually did at that age.

“This is your father. Remember I told you all about him after my last trip,” Sage supplied just as Delane’s companion joined them.

“Yeah. He does look like a black Hercules,” Delaney said, recalling the most recent conversation with his mother, unaware that his statement had caused Sage to blush furiously. “And who is she?” the child asked as he pointed to the beautiful lady now standing beside his father with a possessive arm looped through his.

“I…um…I don’t know her,” Sage stammered out, feeling jealousy tie her stomach up in tight knots. There was no way she was going to enjoy the collective church meal tonight. The woman standing next to Delane epitomized the word beautiful with her long silky black hair, flawless nut-brown skin and athletic-looking body in the white pantsuit that had lovely elongated bell sleeves and a zip front.

Why am I not too surprised that he eventually hooked up with an Indian sister? Sage thought, recalling that Arizona had the third-largest Indian population in the United States with only Oklahoma and California ahead of it. In fact, Delane was half-Indian from his father’s side, so it was only natural for him to go back among his father’s people to look for a second wife. That fact made Sage even more jealous and caused her to have to say a quick prayer of repentance. Father, forgive me for being jealous.

“I’m Petra Monte. Your father’s girlfriend,” Petra pleasantly informed the inquisitive child even as her worst fears were confirmed. She’d wanted to plant more seeds of distrust in Delane’s mind by suggesting that the child wasn’t really his in the first place, and that that’s why Sage had changed her mind about contacting him. But one look at this younger version of Delane made Petra abandon that plan altogether. She now had to find another way to keep him and Sage apart.

Delane made no move to refute Petra’s false claim since it served his purposes well for the moment. However, he did find it interesting to see more than a hint of jealousy in Sage’s eyes. In fact, it did his ego a world of good to know that he had something that she wanted, but couldn’t have. At least Delane would try to make sure that Sage couldn’t have him since his body still craved hers ferociously.

“Well, nice to meet you, Petra,” Sage said courteously, making a genuine effort to like the woman she envied. After all, she was sure that that’s what Jesus would want her to do. “If I’d known you all were coming, I would have never made plans tonight. Delaney and I are on our way to a church function that I can’t get out of since I’m one of the people that helped plan it. So if you all want to join us, you can. If not, then just leave me the name of the hotel you’re staying in and I’ll call you as soon as this collective meal is over.”

Before Petra could decline for the both of them, Delane said, “Collective meal? That sounds interesting. We’d love to go to this church function of yours. Just lead the way.”

Although Delane accepted the invitation because he didn’t want to let his son out of his sight again, at least not so soon, he also wanted to see just how sincere Sage was about this Christian thing. After all, she wouldn’t be the first person to fake salvation in order to get over on others.

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

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