Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Side Dishes - Ch. 15

There was no sex that night at the hotel since Delane suddenly wasn’t in the mood. As a result, Petra went to bed feeling angry and rejected. After all, her steady bed-buddy was usually always in the mood for intimacy. In fact, this was the first time Delane had ever turned her down.

After not being able to get to sleep, though he’d reclined in the dark for almost two hours waiting for sleep to come, Delane finally decided to go downstairs to the hotel bar and have a few drinks. Unfortunately, since this was something that he never did, the alcohol went straight to his head.

Fortunately, the inebriated man decided to use some of the common sense he’d been blessed with and not try to drive himself around town afterwards. Instead Delane prudently hailed a taxi for his drive since he was still not ready to go back up to the room where Petra was.

Interestingly enough, that ride took Delane right back to Sage’s apartment complex. After ringing the doorbell three times, he encountered a sleepy looking Sage in the doorway wearing a pink, knee-length knit sleep-shirt. She’d never looked more gorgeous to him than right now and he fought to keep his hands to himself.

“We need to talk,” Delane said with a slight slur as he waited for permission to be let in. Too unsteady to stand completely erect, he leaned against the doorframe and allowed it to take the bulk of his weight.

“At this late hour?” Sage asked, looking backwards at the clock on the living room wall. The oval-shaped timepiece read: 3am. Sage needn’t wonder how Delane got there because when she looked back in his direction, she saw the departing taxi in the distance beyond his right shoulder.

“Yes, I need to know what game you’re playing now. Why did you come all the way to Arizona to tell me about my son and then didn’t even leave an address and phone number so that I could reach you? I also need to know if anything about our brief marriage was real.”

Although his head was spinning like a well-swung merry-go-round, Delane knew that he had to have the answers to his questions tonight. He couldn’t make it another day without knowing.

While he’d talked, Sage had gotten a good whiff of Delane’s breath and realized that he’d been drinking tonight. Something must really be wrong because he never used to drink before, she mused, recalling how he usually liked remaining in control of his facilities at all times.

“Come on in,” Sage said with concern and a bit of resignation. She’d known that they would have to deal with other pieces of their past some day. It looked like today was that day.

After turning on a brass and blue trimmed lamp, she sat on the blue southern placed loveseat. He sat on the long blue and white sofa on the east wall. Then taking a deep breath of confidence, she began to address Delane’s previous statements.

“Although I seriously doubt if you’ll ever believe anything I say again without proof, I did leave my address and phone number on your machine. In fact, I left it there the very next day around 9:45am to be exact. The reason I know the exact time is because I remember thinking that I had only thirty minutes to make it to the airport in order to catch my flight and I wasn’t sure if that was enough time to be cleared by airport security,” Sage said.

She recalled having to take an hour later flight because there hadn’t been enough time for security to check everyone. Especially with all the new restrictions placed upon airports as a result of that world-changing incident on September 11, 2001.

“Could that message possibly have gotten erased by mistake, Delane?” Sage asked. She also recalled how her ex-husband hated telemarketers and would often clear the answering machine at home without listening to the person’s full message. In fact, as soon as those people started their sales pitch, he’d press delete.

“That’s entirely possible.” Delane leaned back on the cool, comfortable fabric of the sofa and thought back to that morning after his encounter with Sage at the hotel. He remembered that there had been a message erased around that time and it wasn’t by mistake, either. It was by permission since he’d been informed by Petra that the message was just another one of those pesky telemarketers. Now he felt like a fool for trusting her.

As soon as I get back to the hotel, I’m sending her home, Delane mused resolutely, determined to break things off with his regular lover for good. He would not tolerate a woman he couldn’t trust. Once burned, twice shy, as the old folks say.

“I didn’t call back and leave it again, because I assumed that you’d changed your mind about being in our son’s life. Plus, I didn’t want to be accused of hassling you and I wanted no part of trying to force something on you that you didn’t want. After all, our son deserves better than an unwilling father,” Sage said, breaking into Delane’s thoughts.

Since that trip Sage has had to learn an important lesson from Matthew 18:15-17. Even though those passages primarily talk about the need and the procedures for brethren to settle their differences when one sins against the other, she nevertheless gleaned a fresh revelation from those scriptures.

Sage learned that if a loved one seems unwilling to reconcile no matter what you do to make things right, then it is time to just let that situation go. You can’t make someone forgive you. You can’t even make someone repent for the wrong they’d done to you. People have to exercise their own freewill.

“No, I would never change my mind about that,” Delane said adamantly, sitting forward on the couch now with his hands clasped tightly together. “But what about my other inquiry? Was anything real about our marriage other than the great sex?”

“What does it matter now, Delane? You’ve moved on with your life. Petra is proof of that. Why rehash old stuff which you know you’re never going to forgive me of?”

And the sex wasn’t just great, it was fantastic, Sage added to herself, feeling twinges of desire attack her even now. Although she wanted to cross her legs to relieve the ache so badly, the nightgown she wore wasn’t long enough to do so without showing too much thigh.

Delane stared intently at his ex-wife across the dimly lit room. “What if I told you that it still matters? That it matters a lot? That Petra means less than nothing to me now that I realize that she was the one standing between my son and me. It wasn’t you. She erased that message. What if I also told you that I’m willing to try to forgive? That I wish more than anything right now that you’d come over here and bounce around in my lap like old times. That you’d let me have the joy of experiencing what it’s like to be inside of you again. To run my tongue…”

“Whoa…Delane,” Sage quickly interrupted, stopping his alcohol-induced confession before it went any further. She was already thoroughly pulsating with want now from his declarations and the succulent memories they’d invoked. “You’ve been drinking. You couldn’t possibly know what you’re saying right now.”

“I know exactly what I’m saying, Sage. Now tell me, was any of it real for you? Did you ever truly love me?” Delane insisted, his caramel eyes were more vulnerable than they’d ever been.

Sage felt an emotional lump form in her throat upon witnessing his vulnerable side again after so many years. Her ebony eyes filled with unshed dew. “All of it was real for me from the moment you ate that third helping of my lasagna that day and told me to use the money you gave me towards my college fund. The hugs, the kisses, the compliments and I-love-you’s were all real. All my mother did was push me in your direction, I’m the one that fell madly in love with you,” she confessed, staring at him just as intently as he was staring at her.

I still love you, Sage added silently, keeping that thought to herself as she broke the gaze and stared down at her hands. After all, Delane hadn’t asked if she still loved him or mentioned anything about still loving her, though he’d made it crystal clear that he still wanted her. At this stage in her life she couldn’t settle for passion and desire alone. Love and marriage had to be involved, and Sage wasn’t sure that he’d be willing to have the latter with her again.

“And while we’re talking about all this, I think you should know that I never cheated on you. Not once while we were dating, not once while we were married. And especially not that night my mother set both of us up by having me to bring those appetizers over while she had male guests. Oh, yes, she planned that scheme very well, even down to the part of getting Panella to call you on your way home so that you could come over, see me there, and jump to the wrong conclusion.” Sage shook her head at that painful memory. “It’s ironic that in the end, my mother used the truth to separate us.”

Delane let out an audible sigh and unclasped his hands, now using them to hold his head, which, interestingly enough, wasn’t spinning so fast anymore. It seemed as if a heavy weight had lifted from his shoulders and the world had suddenly righted itself again. Just knowing that the love, the sex, and the fidelity had been real between them went a long way towards healing his wounded heart. It went a long way towards making a lot of things right again.

Lifting his head after a few minutes, Delane beckoned Sage over with his left hand. “Come here, baby. I need to feel you near me,” he said softly, his voice a husky rumble.

Sage shook her head, afraid to meet his gaze head-on for certain now as she watched him from the corner of her eye. “Delane, I can’t. I can’t have premarital sex. I’m celibate, remember?” Sage reminded him, still hesitating to move an inch. The sexual tension in the room was thick enough. If she got any closer to him or looked at him directly, she might do something she’d regret in the light of morning but certainly not now.

“I know, baby. After spending time in your presence with all your church family around, I can see that you’ve really changed which is why I actually believe that you’ve told me the truth tonight,” Delane said as he stood up and came over to her. “And although I want to make love to you so badly right now that it hurts, I can respect your morals and settle for one of those wonderful hugs you used to give me.” He extended both hands to her now.

At those words, Sage received both of his hands and stood up. When she put her arms around his waist, she was surprised that her hands actually met together behind his back. She’d never been able to do that before. And although it felt different, it felt good different. Then the two of them just hugged one another for a long silent while, enjoying the feel of each other with their eyes closed.

After about twenty minutes of this, Delane released Sage with a reluctant sigh. It was time for him to go, but he dreaded leaving. Especially since he only had Petra to look forward to at the hotel. Especially since everyone he loved in the whole world was in this apartment right here.

Suddenly Delane had an idea. “Is it possible for me to crash on your sofa tonight? As you know, I took a taxi here. I figure I’ll probably be sleep long before another one arrives to pick me up. Plus, I really don’t want to go back to that hotel room right now.”

Sage nodded. She really didn’t want him to go back to that hotel room, either. Ever. Well, at least not as long as Petra was there. “Sure, but why not take the extra twin bed in our son’s room. I’m sure Delaney will be excited about waking up to his daddy in the morning.”

“Thanks, Sage. By the way, whatever happened between you and your mother to separate you two? I haven’t seen Sivilla or heard Delaney mention anything about his grandmother since I got here. And the Pastor mentioned something about you arriving in town alone and pregnant.”

“That’s a long story that I’ll have to tell you about some other time. But to satisfy your curiosity for now, let’s just say that I finally grew up and started using my own mind,” Sage explained, before turning around towards the bedroom area.

“Good for you,” Delane said with approval as he followed her to the back. Inwardly, he still wished that he were going to her bedroom instead of their son’s. However, he had high hopes that one day in the near future he’d have access to that room, too. In the meantime, Delane made an additional inquiry. “Oh by the way, how long has that guy at the church been in love with you?”

Sage stopped short in her tracks and turned around to face Delane. Although she couldn’t really see his face in the dim hallway that only had lower wall globes lit up to illuminate a person’s pathway, she knew he was smiling. She’d heard it in his voice.

“Why? Are you jealous?” Sage asked, thinking that Delane certainly didn’t sound jealous and wishing that he was since that would mean that he still had deep feelings towards her as she did him. But why isn’t he jealous? she mused, recalling how only a few minutes ago he’d professed to wanting her so badly that it hurt.

Delane chuckled and grabbed Sage about her waist, gently bringing her closer to him until she was firmly in his arms again. “I would be, if I thought you returned his feelings. If I thought for one minute that your body trembled in MacCauley’s arms like you’re doing in mine right now, I would be insanely jealous. And I would have to steal you from him,” he whispered in her left ear, before licking the lobe. That action caused Sage to tremble all the more and by instinct, her body leaned closer to him in all the best places.

When Sage heard Delane groan with pleasure at their intimate contact, the fog in her head began to clear somewhat and she began to earnestly pray. God, strength. I need strength right now, she petitioned. Not only were they too temptingly close to her bedroom due to the fact that it was the first room one encountered in the hallway, Sage honestly didn’t know if she would be strong enough to go in there without Delane.

After taking a deep, calming breath, Sage whispered back, “No need to steal what I’d willingly give to the man that signs his name above mine on a marriage license.” With that, she basically told Delane what she’d told all the other men who desired her over the last few years. No marriage license, no sex.

At those pointed words, Delane slowly released her. He’d signed his name once on a marriage license and got burned. He couldn’t bring himself to do that again for any woman. “I guess this is goodnight then, huh?”

“Guess so. Delaney’s room is the next one on the right,” Sage said, fighting disappointment as she pointed in the direction of their son’s room. Then she quickly entered her own bedroom with a heavy heart, knowing that she and her mother were the reason Delane couldn’t even discuss remarriage.

© 2006 Suprina Frazier


Anonymous said...

im glad to say that delane seems to be less of a jerk and more human.

Suprina said...

Delane really is a nice guy, but he's a nice guy whose battled with some major self-esteem issues.

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