Sunday, January 15, 2006

Side Dishes - Ch. 7

A week before Valentine’s Day, Sage went to her mother’s home to deliver some of those shrimp puffs that Sivilla seemed to like so much and had requested for a private dinner she was having with her new man tonight. Sage was glad to be doing this favor for her mother. Especially since it gave her a chance to practice what it would be like to live the life of a caterer.

However, as soon as Sage entered the duplex, her elation at doing this favor for her mother soon turned into deep regret. Sivilla wasn’t alone as she stated she would be around this time since her date wasn’t supposed to arrive for at least forty-five more minutes. And instead of there being one man present, there were two. Both were very handsome and both looked to be very wealthy by the expensive suits they wore.

The mahogany-skinned older man with the friendly almond-shaped eyes was sitting on the hunter green eastward placed couch and the bronze-skinned younger man with the cocky green eyes was on the green and blue westward placed couch. Both were looking at Sage with pleasant expectancy.

Looking as sexy as ever in a red halter-top dress with a pair of red and black 6” heels, Sivilla greeted her daughter cheerfully. “Hey, baby girl. You’re just in time for dinner,” she said, making it sound as if Sage had been included in tonight’s festivities instead of acting only as the caterer. Then Sivilla began to introduce her daughter to their companions, stating the men’s esteemed occupations in the process.

No wonder she asked me not to wear the jeans I normally cook in, Sage mused. Inwardly, she could care less that both men were doctors and that they both looked like they could have stepped right out of a magazine in their sharp gray and burgundy suits respectively.

All Sage cared about was getting out of here as quickly as possible since it was obvious that her mother was up to her old tricks again. Coming home to a rich gentleman caller in the house was something Sage had gotten used to over the years. However, her mother only brought two of them home when she had plans to give one to her daughter. The latter had been the case since Sage turned of legal age.

“Mama, I just brought over the items you asked for. I’m not staying,” Sage announced decisively as she handed her mother the decorative tray of plastic sealed food, not even bothering to take the tray into the kitchen as she normally would.

Sage was in such a rush not only because she wasn’t enthused about this little set-up, but also because she failed to leave Delane a note in her haste to make it over here in time before her mother’s date arrived. Unfortunately, Sivilla’s catering request had only been called in two hours ago, which meant that Sage had been on a tight deadline from the beginning. Now she was trying to make it back home in time to greet Delane at the front door the way she usually did when he arrived home from work.

The younger doctor in the burgundy suit, who was named Stefan Matlock, stood to his feet and came closer to Sage. “No, don’t go. Stay awhile. Your mother told me so much about you that I couldn’t wait to meet you.” She’s just as beautiful as Sivilla said, the tall, lean man mused, noting Sage’s voluptuous frame in the black skirt-set with its pucker detail at the bodice and sleeves. And those small red-painted toes in the rhinestone slides she wore made a man want to get on his knees and not just for prayer, either.

Sage frowned and took two steps backwards from the brazen green-eyed man who seemed ready to pounce on her at any moment. She could smell alcohol on his breath and could tell that it was the good stuff, too, which meant that Sivilla had gone all out to impress these men. Even the apartment was spick-and-span.

“Did my mother also tell you that I’m married,” Sage said, holding up her left hand, revealing her large diamond ring and thick gold wedding band.

“Yes, but she also told me that you’re getting a divorce soon. And I say, one man’s loss is another man’s gain.” Stefan moved closer still.

Just then, there was a knock on the door. Sivilla put the tray down on the mahogany coffee table by the solid green sofa and quickly went to answer it. A strange, secretive smile was on her face just before she flung the door open.

“Oh hi, Delane. What brings you here tonight?” Sivilla asked in an innocent tone.

“Someone called and told me that my wife was here,” the large man stated, recalling the disturbing message he’d gotten on his cell phone from one of his former tenants. Delane was unaware that Sivilla had gotten Panella Ferguson to make that call at just the right time while he’d been commuting home from work. He also was unaware that his whole life was about to change drastically.

“Yes, she is, but we’re busy entertaining right now, so you’ll have to talk to Sage later when she gets home. If she gets home tonight,” Sivilla said matter-of-factly with a smug smile on her face.

‘If’ she gets home tonight? Delane mused, feeling uneasiness settle in his gut. “I’m talking to my wife now!” he said aloud.

Then with just a slight brush of his large hand, Delane moved his mother-in-law to the side and boldly strode into the apartment. Sure enough there were two men there, just like he’d been told by Panella. And it looked like they’d already been paired off since one of them was standing very close, too close to Sage.

“Delane! What are you doing here?” Sage asked, surprise written all over her bronze face.

“No, the question is, what are you doing here?” Delane countered, looking thunderous at his wife. A thousand icicles seemed to attack his insides all at the same time, causing him immeasurable pain. Who ever thought that love could hurt so badly?

This is your husband?” Stefan asked, truly in a state of shock that such a beautiful woman would be married to such an obese man.

“Yes, it is,” Sage said proudly, unashamed of her husband or of his size as she moved closer to the man she loved.

For a moment there, Delane almost wavered in his mind upon seeing how proudly his wife acknowledged him to the other man, and how she instantly moved to his side to confirm whom she belonged to. Yet when Delane thought about what else the informative ex-tenant had said about Sage pretending to be in love with him while pursuing him for his money, his thoughts grew stormy again. After all, she could just be acting that way in order to hold on to her meal ticket.

“You must have married him for his money then, because I don’t see how he could hold your attention for very long without you wanting to throw up every bit of food you ever ate. No wonder your mother invited me here tonight. She was trying to show you what you’ve been missing,” the arrogant young doctor deduced aloud. He’d noticed the tailored navy blue suit the large man wore and ascertained that Delane’s attire cost way more than his, and not just because it had taken more material to make, either. It was the quality of the suit that made the difference.

Having heard enough from the egotistical man, Delane slugged Stefan with a right hook, sending the much slender man sliding across the polished hardwood floor until he landed in a heap at the foot of the two-toned sofa on the other side. Then Delane turned to the other doctor in the gray suit, daring him with his eyes to interfere. It was like grade school and middle school all over again.

“Do you want some of this?” Delane hissed with his large hands balled into tight fists at his sides.

“Oh, no,” Barton Nelom replied as he held up his hands in surrender, letting the angry man know that he wasn’t about to meddle in business that wasn’t his. After all, Barton was a plastic surgeon, which meant that his hands were his livelihood and he wouldn’t risk injuring them for anything.

Did you only pursue me for my money?” Delane asked, finally turning to face his wife who had moved closer to the wall upon seeing how brutally he could respond to an enemy. Yet even in this moment it was clear that he would not hurt Sage. There was still too much love swimming around in his caramel pools to do something like that.

Sage looked crestfallen at that question. If Delane had asked if she married him for his money, the answer would have been an unequivocal ‘no’. But he had to ask if she’d pursued him for his money and that meant a completely different answer altogether.

Unable to lie to the man that she loved with her whole heart, Sage nodded and dropped her head. “I’m so sorry, Delane.” Tears gathered in her eyes and began to flood her cheeks.

Suddenly Sivilla spoke up, having watched the scene unfold beautifully before her from her position by the door. Although she hadn’t planned on a fistfight, everything else had happened exactly according to her covert little scheme. “No need to feel sorry, baby girl. After all, fatso here was just a side dish. It’s time for you to have a main course man. Someone who is not only richer, but at least a hundred pounds lighter.”

At those agonizing words, Delane turned to glare menacingly at his smug mother-in-law. A part of him wished that Sivilla was a man so that he could slug her, too. But since she wasn’t, he had to deal with her in another way. And that way was to remove her from his life forever. Unfortunately, that meant that Sage had to go, too, and that’s what tore at his heart the most.

Yet when Delane realized that Sage’s loyalty had never been with him, and that he’d been played and bamboozled in the worst way, he resigned himself to the reality that he had to lose her, too. After all, he could not, would not tolerate a deceptive woman.

“When I first saw you, Sivilla, I knew you were a gold-digger. However, I gave your daughter the benefit of the doubt since she still seemed so pure on the inside. Now that it’s been made painfully clear that Sage is just like you, my lawyer will be getting in touch soon to end this sham of a marriage,” Delane said, speaking in a remarkably calm voice that belied the thunderous storm raging beneath the surface.

Then without another word to anyone or another glance in his now silently crying wife’s direction, Delane left the property that he used to own and had foolishly given away due to the thick fog of artificial marital bliss that had surrounded him.

No woman will ever dupe me again, he vowed, getting into his gray Lexus. Delane couldn’t wait to go home and pack Sage’s clothes in hopes that the sooner her things left, the sooner his pain would, too.

Hearing her husband speed away and knowing that her marriage was as good as over, Sage let out an agonizing sob and ran to the bedroom that used to be hers, slamming the door behind herself.

Meanwhile, Sivilla and Barton helped the fallen doctor back up on his feet. She’ll be mad with me for a minute. But afterwards, things will go back to the way they were before fatso, she mused. Sivilla was confident that her daughter would probably even thank her later for intervening.

It was unfortunate that Sivilla’s self-centered mind wouldn’t even allow her to entertain the thought that Sage wouldn’t appreciate how well Mama’s little plan worked out tonight for a long time to come, if ever.

********

Later that night, it rained. Not a soft gentle rain, it was a virtual downpour, as if the Arizona sky was trying to make up for all the days when it hadn’t rained. Sage watched it through the open curtains of the window in her old bedroom as she lay in a fetal position upon the white cotton sheets of her full-sized pine bed. Sadly, she was too emotionally drained and benumbed to even cover up her shivering body with a warm blanket as she, too, engaged in a bit of a downpour.

As a torrent of tears continued to roll down her cheeks, Sage couldn’t help but wonder what her husband was doing right now. Was Delane home alone as well? Sage had been alone for the last three hours ever since Sivilla had left with her two doctor friends for a night out on the town, leaving her daughter to grieve alone.

Was Delane’s heart just as broken as Sage’s? Would he even believe that hers was broken at all considering all that he’d learned tonight? Could he possibly believe that right now Sage was aching for his touch, his whispered words of love, and all the goodness that was wrapped up in that deliciously chunky body of his?

********
On the richer side of town, a few things were just as Sage suspected. Delane was at home alone, he was just as heartbroken as her, and he was having serious doubts that she’d ever loved him at all. Furthermore, nothing within Delane could make him believe that a beautiful woman like Sage could be aching for his touch or anything else he had besides his money.

Refusing to cry, despite his heartbroken state, Delane left his lonely bedroom and went downstairs to the kitchen. Enroute he passed by all of Sage’s personal belongings, which he’d angrily packed into seven large suitcases as soon as he’d gotten home this evening and sat by the door for an early morning delivery on tomorrow. He scowled at the black luggage now and increased his steps towards the kitchen.

Once in his very own sanctuary, Delane began to consume everything in sight, trying to overcome his appetite for a treacherous woman by catering to another basic need. At the end of it all, all he got was an upset stomach and the strangest feeling that he would not be able to look at food or women quite the same again.

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

No comments: