Monday, January 30, 2006

Side Dishes - Ch. 14

Delane never had so much fun in his life and he soon discovered exactly what a collective meal was. It started out with Sage’s church members all meeting up at one central location - the church. Then they all caravanned to seven selected individual homes for fellowship and to consume one course each of a seven-course meal.

Not only was the fellowship outstanding, with all those friendly church members around keeping a smile on everyone’s faces, but the food was also stupendous. It was of the highest quality possible.

The first course contained an appetizer of fresh shrimp on ice with cocktail sauce. That was eaten at a man they called Brother Bryant’s home. The second and third courses consisted of baby artichokes and salad with stuffed salmon balls on the side. They were eaten at Sister Edwards and Brother Aragon’s homes respectively. The fourth course was a homemade minty grapefruit sorbet and it was served at Sister Shari Hutcheson’s home.

Delane soon realized exactly who Shari was to his son when the child affectionately hugged her around the legs upon seeing her and warmly referred to the woman as godmother. He also learned that Shari was Sage’s best friend and business partner, and that she lived in the same apartment building with her husband and three girls. Yet that would not be all that Delane learned tonight as he consumed the grapefruit sorbet with his son now sitting right next to him on Shari’s country blue sectional couch.

According to Sage, who spearheaded the whole event, the sorbet was needed between courses in order to cleanse the palate after consuming the salmon. Then she proceeded to give the participants a short lecture and demonstration on how highly specialized the taste buds were and how the different basic tastes were located in different areas of the tongue.

“Sweet tastes are located near the front tip of the tongue. Bitter tastes are located on the back portion in the central part of the tongue. Sour tastes are located on the sides of the tongue, midway back. And salty tastes are located just between the sweet area and the sour area,” Sage said, sticking out her own tongue and pointing to select areas in between sentences.

Delane didn’t know about anyone else, but he was very impressed by Sage’s brief, yet informative lecture. It showed that she had studied her craft well. He couldn’t help but be proud of her, despite his current bitterness. As for Sage’s tongue demonstration, Delane couldn’t help but be physically stirred by that since he had many vivid memories of other things she’d done with that very same tongue. Fortunately, he was able to keep a tight lid on his passion, considering the wholesome environment he was currently in.

It was also fortunate that Shari lived so close to where the next course would be served. In fact, all the meal participants had to do was walk down a flight of stairs for the fifth course, which was served at Sage’s immaculate apartment.

As soon as Delane crossed the threshold of his ex-wife’s home, he felt at home. Sage’s apartment was decorated in a soothing pacific blue theme. Her living room had two comfortable blue loveseats and one long blue and white sofa. There were no chairs, but two extra large ottomans served as additional seating areas.

The oval-shaped cherry-wood coffee table in the center of the room and the three matching round end tables near the loveseats and couch revealed Sage’s prudence. She’d made sure that there were no sharp tables for Delaney to hurt himself on in case he forgot not to run in the house. As a result, Delane couldn’t help but be impressed by that as well.

The fifth course consisted of prime rib roast, small new red potatoes, fresh pea pods, cherry tomatoes and a special horseradish sauce that Sage invented herself. Delane quickly discovered that that was yet another thing that he missed about his ex-wife, her delicious cooking. As a result, he ate his full with the rest of the people there and only declined to eat thirds when his weight conscious ‘girlfriend’ gave him the disapproving eye.

Petra had been instrumental in helping Delane to keep the weight off by showing him how to eat in moderation. Although he was grateful for that, he thought she was making way too big of a deal about it tonight, especially since it was obvious that she was jealous because it was his ex-wife’s food that he wanted thirds of. Delane had never even asked for seconds of Petra’s cooking. Ever.

Although he’d interacted with his son during the earlier part of the evening, Delane was now sitting across the room from him since Delaney was currently being handfed certain items by his mother from her plate as they sat on the westward placed blue loveseat together. Witnessing that precious mother/son moment caused the thirty-five-year-old man to discover something else he missed about his ex-wife – her attentiveness.

Sage used to love feeding Delane food by hand and he loved having her do it, too, especially since they usually engaged in fierce lovemaking afterwards. After giving Delaney one final cherry tomato, Sage suddenly felt eyes on her. Instead of looking at the slender carpenter who usually stared amorously at her during gatherings of this nature, she looked in her ex-husband’s direction.

Sure enough Delane was staring. Sage instantly started to blush, and in that moment it was clear that she was remembering those earlier days between them as well and was being severely affected by those memories the same as her ex-husband. Neither of them paid any attention to the dejected looking carpenter staring at them from his position by the front door.

Whatever else was fake about her, the sex wasn’t, Delane mused with certainty as he recalled Sage’s heated responses to him back then. No woman could fake those incredible tremors and shivers as she reached ecstasy time and time again in his arms while every muscle in her gorgeous body seemed to contract with release. What Delane wouldn’t do to have Sage trembling in his arms like that now?

Then feeling convicted about his lustful thoughts in the presence of such godly people, Delane began to talk to the minister of Sage’s church again as a way to distract himself, and since the man was seated directly on his right. Petra continued to sit to Delane’s left on the long, soft fabric sofa, doing what she’d been doing all evening, listening to the conversations around her and making no move to join in as she nibbled on her food like a bird to fresh seed.

“I’ve really enjoyed meeting everyone tonight, Pastor Abbott,” Delane said, making polite, yet truthful conversation. He had enjoyed meeting these godly people. The only person who had seemed a bit standoffish with him was the carpenter with the two last names.

MacCauley London had been less than his usual friendly self tonight. In fact, he’d found it extremely hard to say much of anything to the man that still had Sage’s heart, especially since MacCauley wanted that honor and had pursued her unsuccessfully for two years until she recently revealed to him that she still wasn’t over her ex-husband yet.

Although Delane knew none of this, he still could sense why the tall, slender man hadn’t been as friendly to him as everyone else. Every time MacCauley looked at Sage it was obvious that he had deep feelings for her whereas she seemed to only have platonic feelings towards him. The latter pleased Delane to no end and he couldn’t even fake remorse for the dejected fellow. In fact, he hoped the carpenter soon got enough sense to just move on, because Daddy was back in the picture now.

“I think I speak for most of us here by saying that it’s so good to finally meet Delaney’s father,” Marc Abbott replied, keeping in mind to talk to MacCauley about finally letting his dream of marrying Sage go when it was clear that the woman didn’t care for him that way, even when her ex-husband wasn’t around. Marc, too, had noticed how standoffish MacCauley was tonight when the animated man was usually a ball of energy at every church gathering.

“I tell you that boy of yours love sports. He told me that he plans to play pro-football one day. Did you ever play pro-ball?” Marc Abbott continued, noting Delane’s muscular build.

Delane shook his head. “No. My parents were too afraid of me getting hurt to let me participant in any physical sports. My extra curriculum activities consisted of chess and other sit down games like that. As a result, I was a pretty chubby kid, teenager, and adult,” he said, unable to hide the quick flash of pain that crossed his features although his tone had been lighthearted.

Pastor Abbott nodded in acknowledgement, inwardly discerning that Delane had gone through a lot of emotional pain associated with his weight. There were probably things that he hadn’t even told his ex-wife about.

“Well, you certainly look pretty fit now, brother. What do you do to keep it off? My wife, Lele, is always trying to get me to trim down.” He patted his slightly rounded belly through the white dress shirt of his gray suit and snuck a peek at his beautiful, mahogany-skinned wife who was across the room talking to Shari and Sage about how well everything was going tonight.

Delane’s dimpled smile returned. “I stay in the gym, swim a lot, and try to eat as healthy as I can. Plus, I don’t eat second helpings of anything.” He laughed and looked down at his empty white plate where only stains of where food had once been remained. “Well, most days I don’t,” Delane added, returning the sturdy paper plate to his lap.

Pastor Abbott laughed as well and held up his empty plate. “Yeah, hanging around Sister Sage’s kitchen can be quite tempting. The woman can make anything taste good. She even taught my wife a recipe or two which forever puts her in my good graces.”

“So how long have you known my wi…my ex-wife, Pastor?” Delane asked, quickly correcting himself when he felt Petra stiffen beside him.

He still loves her, too, Marc discerned, instantly noting the man’s slip of tongue.

Sage had already shared with Pastor Abbott and his wife that she was still in love with Delane and probably would always be. But what none of them knew was how serious the ex-husband was about the woman he was currently with.

“Since right after she came to town about four years ago.” Pastor Abbott put his plate on the coffee table and looked Delane straight in the eye for his next statements. “I got to tell you, at first I thought the worse of you for sending your wife away, alone and pregnant. But Sister Sage quickly corrected me on that. She told my wife and I all about how you two met, about the evil that she’d done to a good man like yourself, and why she didn’t tell you about the baby. Although the whole church has tried to be that extended family that she and Delaney needed, my wife and I have always advocated that Sister Sage should try to make things right with you somehow. At the least tell you about your son.”

Marc smiled and continued, stroking his graying side burns reflectively as he did. “I’m glad to see that she finally did that and that you decided to respond so favorably. After all, although boys need their mothers, there are just some things they can only get from their fathers,” the learned man said, having successfully raised two boys of his own. One was married and the other was in college. Only his fifteen-year-old daughter remained at home now and she was too into her soccer career right now to run after boys. Marc thanked God for that every day.

Delane nodded as intense feelings began to well up inside of him from the things Pastor Abbott had disclosed. It was clear that the whole church family thought highly of Sage and that she’d been very forthcoming with them about her past. And the fact that she’d defended his honor by letting them know that she’d been the one at fault touched Delane in all the right places. In fact, he was finding it even harder to hold onto his bitterness towards Sage.

Suddenly, Petra leaned over to whisper in Delane’s ear. “I can’t wait to get back to the hotel, baby. Being around all these goodie-goodie, pure-as-the-driven-snow church folks have me wanting to get a little dirty tonight.”

Delane felt heat crept upon his neck, not because he was excited about what Petra had said, but rather because he was embarrassed about it. This was not the time or the place to discuss such things. Where was her sense of decency?

After that, Delane had considerably less fun and, in fact, decided to forgo the sixth and seventh courses, which consisted of ice cream followed by decaffeinated latte for the adults, hot cocoa for the kids, and chocolate covered crepe cookies. However, he did not leave without giving his son an affectionate hug and a promise to see him on the next day.

All Delane gave Sage was a stare that said ‘don’t even try to stop me from seeing him tomorrow’. That stare garnered another puzzled look from her. After all, Sage went all the way to the west coast to bring him into his son’s life, why would she try to get in the way now?

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

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