Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Side Dishes - Ch. 9

Delane arrived back to his lonely home around noon after driving his latest one-night-stand to her place. Even though the woman had stayed all night, he was still severely disappointed. As usual. No matter how shapely, no matter how beautiful, no matter how eager, no woman could seem to satisfy him in the bedroom. In fact, the only one that could, had betrayed him.

Only Sage had made Delane’s body sing with desire beneath her touch and made his heart quiver with love. Yes, many women had tried over the last five years, especially since he lost all that weight and carved his body into that of a Mr. Universe. Unfortunately, none of those women had been successful and now he was more miserable than before.

If anything those women had been merely side dishes with Sage as the highly anticipated main course. Even Petra, Delane’s regular one-nighter whom he’d been seeing for almost a year, hadn’t moved behind the side dish stage although it was obvious that she wanted to. Why else would she volunteer to do wifely type things like grocery shopping and picking up his suits from the dry cleaners?

Most people would think that Delane had no reason to be miserable. That surely his riches would satisfy him. They never had before. Others might think that losing all of that weight would have made him happy. But that had only served as a constant reminder of his sorrow and devastation. After all, Delane had lost his love affair with food because of Sage. These days he basically ate to sustain his health, especially since food really didn’t taste all that good to him anymore.

In Delane’s bitterness, he turned away from food and turned towards bodybuilding in a subconscious effort to rid himself of what had contributed to his deception. He blamed his weight for all the rejection he’d suffered over the years. Rejection had affected Delane’s self-esteem to the point of causing him to be literally starved for affection. And it was that same malnourishment of soul and spirit that had made him a prime target for two manipulating women.

Because of his diligence, Delane’s soft flab soon turned into hard muscle. That’s when the abundance of women started pouring in. Soon it didn’t matter whether he had money or not as the females continued to flock to his muscles. The fact that he had a devastatingly handsome face only added to the attraction, making him now one of Protégé’s most eligible bachelors.

When is a woman going to love me for the man I am on the inside? Delane thought, repeating his continual question as he ascended the stairs to his lonely bedroom.

Just then, the doorbell rang. Slowly making his way back the way he’d came, a mentally distracted Delane swung the front door opened without even looking through the peephole. If he had taken the time to look through the tiny hole in the door, he might have been tempted not to open it at all.

“Sage?” Delane said as an emotional lump formed in his throat and a primal ache began in his body. It was as if he’d never had sex in his entire life, much less just last night as he gazed hungrily upon the woman standing in his open doorway.

“Hello, Delane. You…look good,” Sage forced out over the emotional lump in her own throat. The eighty-seven degree day had just gotten ten degrees hotter. Nothing had prepared her for this version of her ex-husband in a tight black knit shirt, which was tucked neatly inside of a pair of formfitting blue jeans, revealing the V-shaped muscular torso he now had.

Sage always knew Delane was handsome, but now he looked spectacular. And the fact that he was looking at her with such hunger made her long for his touch again. You could have at least warned me that he had gotten so fine, Lord, Sage thought, wondering if that had been part of the plan. If she had known that Delane would turn out like this, she might have been tempted to come back sooner and not specifically for such nobles reasons, either.

Pushing past his intense desire, Delane now began to practically scowl at the woman in front of him. Neither his flesh nor his heart would rule him anymore. Only his head would have a say where Sage was concerned. “I look good? As in good enough to be a main course now? Or am I still just a side dish?”

Sage winced at that memory and her passion quickly weaned. “Those were my mother’s words, not mine. I loved you.” She looked away when she said that, knowing that a large part of her still loved him. Always would.

Delane scoffed with disbelief. “Sure you did. So much so that you tried to take half of everything that I owned. If you had so much love for me, why didn’t you prove it by walking away empty handed the way I found you?” he asked, knowing that if Sage had walked away empty handed, he would have followed her to the ends of the earth to get her back, despite what she’d done to get him.

But no, Sage had taken every dime offered to her and even a few precious family heirlooms to boot. The latter had no doubt been due to Sivilla’s influence, because his ex-wife didn’t even like to wear a lot of jewelry and she preferred to drive up-to-date vehicles. In fact, while they’d been married Sage had loved the two Lexus’ he’d own and had driven the white one while he’d used the gray one. Now she drove a modest blue Oldsmobile Silhouette van. Delane didn’t know that and probably wouldn’t believe it if she told him.

“My mother wouldn’t…” Sage began, wishing that they could have had this conversation inside the house, but seriously doubting if she would ever be welcome or allowed within those walls again.

“You were a grown woman, Sage. Yes, you were only twenty-two, but you were still able to and capable of making your own decisions. Sivilla didn’t make you do anything you didn’t want to do,” Delane retorted, interrupting her obvious attempt to excuse her behavior.

Sage took a deep breath and stared him directly in the eye. She didn’t come all this way to be intimidated by his anger or to point the finger at anyone other than herself. “You’re exactly right, Delane. I take full responsibility for my own actions, and I want you to know how sorry I am for hurting you.”

“I don’t want your apology, Sage! In fact, I don’t want anything from you!” Delane raged. Yet if he’d taken a poll of his heart, mind, and body, his heart would have said that any woman that could get him this riled up was still very much in his system. Whereas his body would have advocated that he was outright lying about not wanting anything from Sage because it definitely wanted to take her into the house and make love to her right now, regardless of the fact that she’d gained at least ten pounds since he last saw her.

In Delane’s opinion, Sage had gained weight in all the right places as he observed the added expanse of her hips and the extra fullness of her bosom in the orange V-neck wrap top and white flat front pants she wore. Oh, how this man craved Sage’s unique brand of lovemaking that consisted of fire and tenderness. Oh, how he wanted to relive happier times with her in his arms.

Sage shook her head to ward off his angry words and the disappointment she felt at his rejection of her heartfelt apology. Then determined to finish this particular part of her visit, she pulled a velvet bag out of her purse and thrust it at him, revealing some of her own anger in her forceful actions.

“Although I was hoping that you would accept my apology, it has no bearing on the fact that I still came to return your mother’s jewels,” Sage said with forced calmness as he peered inside the bag. Then she moved to the left side of the doorframe and pointed towards the street. “I also brought you that back,” Sage added, referring to the black and gray classic vehicle parked in front of the house. A red and white taxi was parked right behind it.

Delane’s head snapped up and his mouth fell open in surprise. “Is that… is that my father’s dream car?”

“Yes, it is, and it’s still purring like a kitten, too. I locked the car title in the glove compartment, but the keys are in the bag with the jewelry. You’ll also find a folded check at the very bottom of that bag for half of the money you gave me in the divorce settlement. I’ll have to send the rest in installments once my business is securely operating in the black,” Sage said in the same even tone. Although she would love to tell Delane about their son now, she was still too angry and his bitterness was still too potent to do so right now.

“Business?” Delane asked, still in a state of shock. Had Sage and Sivilla found some way to make gold-digging a legitimate business? Arizona was very close to Nevada and a lot of unscrupulous things happened there.

Sage smiled at the fact that her business gave her something to be proud of in her life. That and her wonderful, well adjusted her son made her think that she wasn’t all bad. It let her know that at least two good things had come out of her union with Delane.

“Yes, my catering business. I used some of the money to send myself back to culinary school. By the way, there’s one more thing that I need to talk to you about, but that will have to wait until later. I don’t want to keep my cab waiting too much longer,” Sage said, concluding their intense, impromptu at-the-door meeting.

Then after telling Delane what hotel she was staying in and for how long, Sage turned around and walked towards the waiting cab, feeling lighter already and considerably less angry although traces of disappointment lingered. She’d hoped for a more positive response from Delane and when she didn’t get it, the disappointment had cut her deep.

Oh well, Lord, I did my best, Sage mused as she entered the back door of the cab and thanked the driver for waiting.

Delane continued to stand in the doorway long after the taxi had gone up the street and around the corner. His loins were still thoroughly stimulated and the hard bitterness around his heart had begun to soften. One more unselfish encounter like that with Sage and all the bitterness would be mush and ready to be rinsed away with forgiveness.

Even now Delane knew that he’d wanted to say, ‘Let the cab go and spend the night, the rest of the week with me,’ but he’d restrained himself. After all, Sage had proven that she couldn’t be trusted. However, the gifts she’d brought today suggested that maybe things were different now. That maybe she’d turned over a new leaf in the last five years.

And what is this other thing that she has to talk to me about? Delane wondered as he finally closed the front door and went to his study to think on a few things.

© 2006 Suprina Frazier

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