Thursday, September 28, 2006

Hump Day - Ch. 5

Why must I always tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Tabitha mused.

Now she wished she hadn’t said a thing. Or at least narrowed her information down to include only her injury and not the damage that had been done to her child. After all, it wasn’t as if she hadn’t conveniently left that latter detail out before on other occasions.

“When did that happen, Tab?” Sebastian asked in a strained voice, using her nickname without even knowing it. He stared intently at her. The hand clenching the saucer of pie looked tight and rigid, as if he was holding it in a death grip. He was.

Although debating about whether or not she should veer away from her motto to be honest at all costs just this once, Tabitha knew that when she opened her mouth, she would tell the truth. She always told the truth.

Clearing her throat again, Tabitha answered Sebastian’s question in a whisper. “It happened ten years ago.”

Sebastian just continued to stare at Tabitha for a long silent moment as the realization that she’d possibly lost their baby washed over him. Why didn’t she tell me? he mused, feeling his heart break all over again.

“How did it happen?” Sebastian asked, still holding her gaze captive with his.

“Let’s just say that my new partner wasn’t as calm and alert as my old one,” Tabitha answered in a stronger voice. Fortunately, that partner was long gone off of the Leeward police force. The public backlash concerning that incident had seen to that.

Anger settled into Sebastian’s soul now. No doubt Tabitha had been matched with a partner that either didn’t want to be with a woman or didn’t want to be with a half-black woman. Therefore, that new partner hadn’t valued her life and had allowed her to get hurt.

“I’m truly sorry to hear about your injury and about the loss of your child. How did the father handle it?” Sebastian gently probed. He was obviously trying to confirm his suspicions about him being the father.

Tabitha swallowed hard. “I never told him.” Until now, she added silently. She couldn’t wait to leave now. It would give her time to think and clear out her mind, which was becoming cloudier the longer she stayed here.

“Why didn’t you tell him?” Sebastian wanted to know. His eyes were suddenly shiny with emotion as he stepped further into the den. That baby had to have been his. He could see the truth of that fact in Tabitha’s eyes now.

The moment couldn’t have been tenser. Even Alzora was holding her breath as she silently watched and waited to see how this thing would play out.

“I didn’t know I was pregnant myself until the doctor told me that I had lost the baby. Plus, the father and I were no longer together, so I saw no need to burden him with the news of my miscarriage,” Tabitha replied. Her voice sounded foreign to even her right now as deep emotion changed the texture of it. It was hoarse and scratchy as if a sore throat was coming on.

“Did you know the sex of the baby?” Sebastian prodded, desperate to know what his first child had been.

“Yes, it was a girl. I named her Savonya,” Tabitha squeezed out almost reverently. She felt fortunate to have carried a child in her womb for any length of time, especially since she loved children so much. In fact, she’d been her mother’s number one babysitter in caring for her brother Roland.

Then ready to put this moment and this subject to rest, Tabitha cleared her throat for the last time, forced a smile upon her face, and bid her hosts goodnight. “Well, like I said before, I really need to hit the road.” Her voice was slowly returning to normal as she regained complete control of her emotions.

“Got a full day ahead of you tomorrow, huh?” Sebastian asked, accepting her change of subject, though he was far from through with the miscarriage topic. They would talk about that in more detail later. He’d make sure of it.

“Not really. I have every Thursday off. I just didn’t make plans to stay overnight. Only brought the clothes on my back.” Tabitha touched her shirt and smiled genuinely this time. No need to tell Sebastian that she didn’t want to incur the personal expense of overnight lodgings since her department would not be reimbursing her much beyond gas and meals.

Although Capt. Meacham tried to get Tabitha a bigger travel allowance, it had been duly rejected. But she would not to let that hurdle discourage her. Instead Tabitha would use it as fuel to leap over that obstacle and many more like it in order to accomplish her goals in life.

Turning back to Alzora, Tabitha attempted to conclude her visit yet again. Would it work this time? Would Sebastian finally release her?

“That was a great meal, Alzora, particularly those broccoli and ranch-flavored russet potatoes you made. You’re truly a wonderful cook,” Tabitha said, issuing out sincere compliments.

“Thanks.” Alzora smiled. She couldn’t help but like Tabitha. Not only was the blond woman absolutely beautiful on the outside with her gorgeous sapphire eyes and adoring freckles, she was beautiful on the inside with her upbeat personality and optimistic attitude. And Tabitha was a great storytelling, able to hold her audience’s attention to the very end.

“Now if you’ll just direct me to the nearest bathroom, I’ll do what needs to be done and finally be on my way,” Tabitha concluded, now counting down the seconds to her departure.

“It’s the first door on the right side of the hallway,” Sebastian replied as he returned to his recliner.

* * *

When Tabitha was out of earshot, Alzora turned to Sebastian and said, “I like her. But I wouldn’t want her staying in town for too long.”

“Why not?” Sebastian asked as he placed the saucer of pie on the wood area of his right side armrest. Inwardly, he wondered if Alzora had picked up on the lingering feelings he still had for Tabitha. It wouldn’t have been too hard to do so since he’d never been able to fully tame his feelings for his ex-partner anyway.

“Well, having a beautiful woman like that around on a regular basis can be very intimidating, even if she is so likable,” Alzora replied, half-jokingly and half-serious as she stood up and came towards him.

“No need to worry about Tabitha. She’s loyal through and through. She wouldn’t dare violate relationship boundaries, no matter how long she’d known you,” he said, speaking from experience.

Although Sebastian had been romantically interested in Tabitha since high school, he could never even get her to kiss him while he had a girlfriend. He’d had to get rid of all his women and his little black book just to be worthy enough to date her. And Tabitha had been so worth it, too.

“If you say there’s nothing to worry about, then I won’t worry, darling.” Although Alzora smiled at Sebastian’s words, she still wasn’t totally reassured. After all, this was the one partner that he never told her anything about. All the others Sebastian had mentioned on several occasions, even those like Diesel Broadus whom he’d worked with on special assignments.

Furthermore, many of Sebastian’s ex-partners had visited or called at various times. But not this one. It was as if Tabitha just popped up out of nowhere, bringing with her this long history with Sebastian. A history that started from childhood and abruptly ended ten years ago.

Deciding to take advantage of their moment alone, Alzora sat on the left side armrest and wrapped her arms about Sebastian’s strong neck. When she leaned in for one of his famous succulent kisses, she met with rejection instead.

“Not now, baby,” Sebastian whispered as he turned his lips away. His keen ears had heard footsteps coming down the hallway. “Tab’s coming.”

Tab’s coming? What does that have to do with anything? Alzora recoiled as rejection slammed into her whole being again like an eighteen-wheeler to a Volkswagen.

Sebastian had never behaved like this before. Usually he didn’t care who Alzora kissed him in front of. And what was that guilty look about? Alzora was the girlfriend, wasn’t she?

Once Tabitha leaves, you’re going to have a lot of explaining to do, Mister, Alzora mused. She stood to her feet again with hot ire burning a searing trail from her brain down to the bottom of her spine.

* * *

I hope I stay awake, Tabitha mused, wondering if consuming such a heavy meal of tender roast beef in gravy, stuffed baked potatoes, buttered noodles and apple pie had been such a good idea after all. Even now she was stifling a yawn.

Tabitha tried to suppress another yawn when she finally rounded the corner of the den, but it still escaped anyway. “Coffee, that’s what I need,” she said, more to herself than anyone else as she retrieved her metal fish key ring from the left pocket of her jeans. Tabitha didn’t usually carry a purse for such things and her backpack had been left in the trunk of her car.

“I can fix you some coffee. Or better yet, why don’t you stay here tonight and hit the road in the morning?” Sebastian offered as he abruptly stood to his feet.

Now two things were abundantly clear. Firstly, Sebastian wasn’t ready for Tabitha to leave yet, if at all. Secondly, Sebastian didn’t want a second helping of pie after all since the delicious dessert was now a forgotten entity beside him.

Alzora’s eyes widened in horror. She sunk back down on the sofa, too weak from shock to even stand. She couldn’t believe Sebastian had just asked Tabitha to stay overnight. He seldom asked her to stay overnight and she was his girlfriend.

Tabitha’s keen eyes saw several things all at once. She saw Sebastian fighting hard not to show how disturbed he still was about the loss of their child. She also saw him trying to use her drowsiness as an excuse to keep her there longer so that they could talk about it.

If that wasn’t enough, Tabitha also saw Alzora horrified in the face of certain truths about their past. Tabitha and Sebastian had been more than partners. And that baby girl she’d lost had belonged to him, too.

“No, thanks. I’m sure I can make it back okay,” Tabitha said, finally responding to Sebastian’s question. “I’ve had to stay up longer than that for stakeouts, remember?”

“Well, at least call me when you make it back just so I won’t worry,” Sebastian insisted. He began to look around for pen and paper so that he could write his number down for her. His mind was so muddled right now that he couldn’t even remember that he kept his writing materials in the storage drawer of the television console on the south side of the room.

“That’s right, Tabitha. In fact, let me give you that number,” Alzora agreed, moving quickly to get pen and paper from the TV area. Deceptively, the number she wrote down was not Sebastian’s. It was hers. There was no way Alzora was going to let those two communicate on a personal level again without her being around.

* * *

Tabitha wasn’t all that surprised when Alzora answered the phone a few hours later. As Sebastian’s girlfriend, the dark-haired woman probably stayed overnight at his home all the time. However, Tabitha was a bit peeved that Sebastian wouldn’t even get out of bed to talk to her personally. Especially after he’d gone to the trouble of insisting that she call him tonight.

After leaving a message with Alzora, Tabitha hung up the phone and went to bed herself. The whole time she lay there in the dark she tried hard not to think about Sebastian. About the fact that he was probably lying in bed tired after making love to another woman for hours.

Knowing Seb, he’d made every minute count, Tabitha recalled with memories of earlier times taunting her.

* * *

Meanwhile, Alzora quickly called Sebastian’s house. She had to cover her tracks after pretending to be at his home and lying about him being sound asleep. Alzora knew full well that she’d left Sebastian’s house soon after Tabitha did. How they’d had a brief argument, yet only verbally made up because he claimed he was too tired for sexual reconciliation.

When Sebastian answered the phone on the first ring, Alzora cringed on the inside. It was clear that he hadn’t been as tired as he advocated earlier. And, in fact, had waited up for Tabitha’s call. Besides picking up on the first ring, his voice was alert and a television set could be heard in the distance. Yet Alzora persevered anyway since this was the man that she intended to marry one day, once he made peace with his past. All of it.

“Sebastian, its Alzora. Please don’t be mad with me, darling. But I made a mistake and gave Tabitha my number instead of yours. I guess I must have been pretty sleepy, too,” Alzora said. She yawned for good measure, even though she knew she was wide awake and had been waiting up for Tabitha’s call, too. “Anyway, Tabitha just called to say that she made it home safely. I wanted to make sure that you got her message before I went to bed.”

She’s lying, Sebastian mused, instantly noting the change in his girlfriend’s voice like the good detective that he was.

Yet because he understood Alzora’s motive for lying, Sebastian excused her lapse in judgment. He would have felt threatened, too, if he suddenly discovered that his girlfriend was withholding such a large part of her life from him. Especially if that part included a very attractive ex-lover.

Plus, in the time that he’d had to think, Sebastian came to the conclusion that it was better that he didn’t push the issue with Tabitha after all. They both still wanted different things in life. He learned that over dinner when she talked about how committed she still was to Leeward and how she wasn’t thinking about leaving it anytime soon.

Whereas Sebastian still didn’t want anything to do with Leeward. The fact that his parents had moved from that city was all the more reason not to go back. He didn’t even want to check on the Armstrong property they still owned there, yet he did because he was a smart businessman.

Yes, we are better off just being teacher and student, Sebastian mused. Aloud he concluded his conversation with Alzora on a positive note. “Thanks for giving me that message, baby. Goodnight and sleep tight.”

Baby? Alzora mused with unspeakable joy. That endearment could only mean one thing - Sebastian still wanted her.

After biding him goodnight, a happy Alzora hung up the phone and finally went to bed. So complete was her joy that it no longer mattered that she was going to bed alone tonight.

© 2006 by Suprina Frazier

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hump day - Ch. 4

Dinner at Sebastian’s brick ranch-style home wasn’t nearly as awkward as Tabitha thought it would be. In fact, she found that she actually liked Alzora. For a rich socialite, the dark-haired woman was unexpectedly gracious and humble. She also seemed to have a servant’s heart, though she’d never had a job in her life.

Ever since they arrived at Sebastian’s house, Alzora had gone out of her way to serve him. Besides cooking a wonderful meal for him and his guest, she’d removed Sebastian’s shoes from his feet, and given him a neck massage tonight. It was obvious that there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for him.

Sebastian, in turn, showered Alzora with praise and warm smiles which she seemed to need like oxygen. Tabitha wondered more than once over dinner if Alzora had either been ignored or left alone a lot as a child. Why else would the woman be soaking up every ounce of attentiveness from Sebastian like a sponge in water?

And yet somehow these two work, Tabitha admitted to herself during dessert. Maybe this is the kind of woman that he needed all along. Somebody submissive.

Tabitha recalled how she’d never been that way with Sebastian. In fact, she’d tried and succeeded in matching him in almost every way since she’d known him. Back then Sebastian had seemed thrilled to have an equal. Now he seemed quite content to have a docile woman at his side.

Tabitha was actually happy for him, despite the sporadic twinges of jealousy that attacked her mind throughout tonight’s visit. If only she could find the perfect match for herself. I thought I had…a long time ago, Tabitha mused pensively.

“I hate to rush you through dessert, Tabitha, but Sebastian’s favorite television show is about to come on and I don’t want him to miss it,” Alzora said, interrupting the blond woman’s thoughts.

Without asking, Tabitha already knew that Sebastian’s favorite TV show had to be CSI (Crime Scene Investigation), the same as hers. They’d always had the same tastes in movies and television shows. Yet Tabitha remained silent on the matter. She was too busy focusing on the fact that Alzora had proven herself to be the perfect girlfriend once again. Who else but a perfect girlfriend would put her man’s needs above her own?

“No rush. I’m full anyway,” Tabitha replied, starting to feel like a third wheel for the first time tonight. “Plus, I really need to be hitting the road.”

“I understand. I’ll pack the rest of your dessert up so you can take it with you,” Alzora said, reaching for Tabitha’s plate.

“No, stay a little while longer. At least until CSI goes off,” Sebastian said as his girlfriend got up to wrap Tabitha’s leftovers.

Tabitha shook her head. “No, I really think I should go.” She’d seen how quickly Alzora reached for her plate. She knew when someone was anxious for her to leave.

“You never know if some of the things off CSI may show up in class,” Sebastian persisted, giving her an extra incentive to stay.

“Well, since you put it that way, I guess I can stay for another hour,” Tabitha reluctantly agreed. She missed the frown creasing Alzora’s forehead on account of the woman’s back being turned to her.

As they left the mahogany dining room table and headed for the den, Tabitha noticed how Sebastian stayed right on her heels, leaving Alzora to trail behind them. Normally he would have courteously allowed all women to exit or enter a room first. The fact that he didn’t tonight seemed to indicate that Sebastian might prefer one woman over the other.

It was hard for Tabitha to miss Alzora’s frown now since it stayed on the woman’s face all the way into the den. Interestingly enough, Sebastian seemed oblivious to his girlfriend’s dilemma.

Taking a seat on the navy-blue pillowback couch on the den’s west side, Tabitha was relieved when Sebastian sat in the brown leather recliner on the east side. As expected, Alzora sat down on the couch beside her. It made sense to align oneself with all possible competition.

During the first commercial break, Sebastian mentioned that he wanted another piece of homemade apple pie. Tabitha was surprised when Alzora didn’t immediately rise to get it for him. Especially since she’d waited on him like a servant all evening.

Sebastian seemed a bit surprised, too. Usually Alzora would volunteer to get him any snack he wanted, any time he wanted it. Now she seemed reluctant to move an inch.

As if suddenly realizing that Alzora hadn’t moved because she didn’t want to leave him and Tabitha alone, Sebastian rose from the recliner to get his own snack. “Anyone else want anything from the kitchen while I’m in there?” he asked courteously.

“No thanks,” Tabitha replied. Alzora just shook her head and sat with her arms folded across her chest. She seemed to be sulking now.

While Sebastian was gone, Tabitha began to think of ways to bring her visit to a end before the hour long show went off. The evening was starting to take on a decidedly awkward vibe and she didn’t want to it to escalate into something worse. Yet before Tabitha left, she would at least try to end her visit on a good note.

* * *

In the kitchen, Sebastian proceeded to cut a huge slice of apple pie from the square glass casserole dish as fast as he could. Was he rushing to get back to his favorite show before it returned from commercial break? No, he was rushing to get back to Tabitha.

Supple, hot-blooded Tabitha, Sebastian mused, recalling how well she filled out those jeans she wore today. He completely forgot how wonderful Alzora looked in her formfitting skirt suit. A suit that she’d bought especially with him in mind.

Cool it, man, Sebastian told himself. His girlfriend was just too sweet to cheat on, even in his mind.

As a reminder that he wasn’t available anymore, Alzora’s laughter suddenly traveled from the other room and into his ear. No doubt Tabitha was telling another fascinating story about their childhood. She’d told a few over dinner, as well.

Shaking his head free of any remaining lustful thoughts, Sebastian prepared to rejoin the women in the other room.

* * *

“Yes, I really did get dragged by a horse when Sebastian first taught me how to ride. But I got him back though by almost letting him drown in the lake when I was teaching him how to swim,” Tabitha said, bringing her tale to a satisfied end.

“Sounds like you two we were a couple of crazy kids.” Alzora chuckled. Her sulk no longer anywhere in sight.

“Yes, we were.” Tabitha laughed. Now that everybody was in a good mood again, she smoothly eased into her exit speech. “Anyway, although I’ve really enjoyed tonight, I absolutely must hit the road now.” To put action behind her words, she stood to her feet and stretched her arms and legs in an outward, tension-releasing motion.

So engrossed with her stretching, Tabitha failed to see Alzora’s smiling expression change to one of horror. The dark-haired woman’s eyes were now glued to the place where Tabitha’s shirt had risen up on the sides, particularly her left side.

“Oh, my God! Have you been shot before?!” Alzora asked, instantly noticing the ugly red scar on Tabitha’s side. She would notice any sign of imperfection on a woman that seemed flawless from head to toe, even in the most casual of clothes. Besides, with Alzora still sitting down, she was right at eye level with Tabitha’s waist. She couldn’t help but see the scar.

Tabitha looked down at the healed bullet wound from ten years ago and then back up into the face of the shocked woman. “Yes, I was shot. But the bullet went straight through though,” she answered nonchalantly, trying to downplay how she almost lost her life in the line of duty.

“I’m glad, but it’s still terrible that you got hurt at all. Did it cause any permanent damage?” Alzora should have been named Curious George for all of her questions.

Tabitha’s face suddenly took on a pained look. Her throat grew tight. “No, it didn’t cause any permanent damage to me…” She paused to clear her throat. “But I did lose my baby though.”

When a loud gasp sounded from the den’s arched doorway, both women looked in that direction. There stood Sebastian with a slice of pie in his hands, shock and pain in his eyes. The shock was understandable. This was new and unexpected information to him.

However, Sebastian’s pain wasn’t so understandable. At least the intensity of it wasn’t. It was if it hurt him to his very core to know that Tabitha had been wounded in the line of duty and that she’d lost a child.

Wait, a minute…could that baby have been mine? Sebastian mused, feeling another heavy blow hit him.


© 2006 by Suprina Frazier

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Hump Day - Ch. 3

When class was over, Sebastian noticed how many of the single men, and that’s single men in all colors, immediately flocked to the beautiful blond woman in their midst. Not only was Tabitha the best-looking female there, she was the only female there since women were still under-represented in this field like so many others.

On top of all that, not only had Tabitha enthralled her male counterparts with her intelligence by asking so many pertinent questions during class, she’d wowed them with her friendly personality. Incidentally, that sociable side of her could only be seen outside the line of duty. As soon as Tabitha adorned her uniform, she’d be strictly business again, possibly not even crack a smile even at the funniest joke.

Fighting against the twinges of jealousy that attacked his belly at the sight of so many men scrambling for Tabitha’s attention, Sebastian tried to focus on the fact that he already had a woman in his life. A good woman. A woman that brought a sense of balance to his life with her compliant nature. A woman that was going to be here any second now to take him to an early dinner.

Aww…I forgot all about dinner, Sebastian mused, wishing that he’d thought to cancel that dinner date during one of his breaks. Especially since it was obvious that he couldn’t leave this room without knowing what would happen to Tabitha.

Oh, Sebastian wasn’t worried that she couldn’t handle herself. Tabitha could hold her own in any situation. No, his area of concern revolved around her possibly hooking up with one of the men there. Just the thought of another man touching Tabitha in any way sent jealousy coursing through Sebastian’s body like no other.

Just then, Alzora Bracewell entered into the classroom. She brought with her a cool breeze of expensive floral-scented perfume and a smile as bright as sunshine.

Alzora was the half-Hispanic/half-Caucasian niece of Pavilion City’s wealthy second-term mayor. She was a true socialite in every sense of the word and never tired of parties. Alzora was also Sebastian’s girlfriend of four months.

Things had suddenly gotten even more interesting today.

* * *

“Are you ready for dinner, darling? I’m sure you must be famished,” Alzora said in her usual sultry voice. A voice that brought instant attention to her.

Tabitha and her admirers looked towards the woman in the white shawl blouse, wine-colored skirt suit, and matching suede pumps. They watched as the dark-haired woman gave them a quick nod before going over to affectionately hug Sebastian and give him a warm smack on the lips.

When the men in the group realized that the Selma Hayek look-alike was already taken by their instructor, they returned their attention to their blond classmate. Some did, because they preferred blonds over brunettes. Others, because they knew they stood a better chance of getting Tabitha since Alzora seemed to only have eyes for Sebastian.

Tabitha used every ounce of restraint she had to focus on the conversations around her after that. That kiss she’d witnessed, that hug, almost caused jealousy to choke her like an assailant’s hands about the throat. The reality of Sebastian being romantically connected to this woman or any other woman just downright hurt.

Realizing that the sooner she got out of here, the better, Tabitha began to pack up her things. The whole time she continued to force out polite responses to her classmates. When her laptop was securely in her backpack, she easily positioned the whole thing upon her shoulders. She was used to the extra weight already. All that was left for her to do now was make a courteous exit.

“Well, boys, I guess I’ll see you next Wednesday. I’m going to grab a quick bite to eat and hit the highway. I have a long ride ahead of me this evening,” Tabitha said, bringing her time with them to a close. She chuckled when a few of the men actually groaned with disappointment. She’d needed that shot in the ego right now.

“Oh, you guys are so sweet,” Tabitha said, smiling appreciatively at each adorable groaner.

However, one of the men did more than groan. In fact, Brennan Depp outright asked Tabitha out to dinner tonight. Incidentally, he was a part of the group that preferred blonds over brunettes.

“Let me buy you dinner tonight, Tabitha. I know just the place, too. We can even wear our jeans there,” Brennan said, being the boldest of the four men still surrounding her desk. He was also the cutest with his gray eyes, dark brown hair, and Kurt Douglas cleft chin.

Before Tabitha could respond, a male voice near the teacher’s desk answered for her. “Sorry, Detective Depp. My ex-partner is having dinner with me tonight.” When all eyes snapped to Sebastian with surprise and curiosity, he quickly added, “And my girlfriend, of course.”

Alzora’s arched brows rose slightly in shock. This was the first she’d heard of a female ex-partner. Why was this the first she’d heard of Sebastian having a female ex-partner?

Alzora’s eyes narrowed just briefly as she looked from Sebastian to Tabitha and back again. Then she forced a smile upon her face. “Of course your ex-partner should join us tonight, darling. And I’m sure that jeans will be welcome where we’re going, as well,” she lied.

Alzora knew full well that jeans were not welcome at the exclusive restaurant she’d made reservations for tonight. As it stands now, she would have to cancel those reservations and come up with another plan. Yet she was willing to do anything to please the man she adored.

Still making decisions without consulting others I see, Tabitha mused hotly, convinced that Sebastian had sprung this dinner thing on his girlfriend, too. She’d seen the look of surprise upon Alzora’s face and the slight narrowing of the eyes. That woman had had no clue that someone else would be joining them tonight.

Although Alzora seemed to be able to accept Sebastian as the primary decision maker in their relationship, even at a moment’s notice like this, Tabitha had hated that side of him. Being able to make quick decisions without consulting others was an excellent trait for any detective to have. Yet it had proven to be disastrous in Sebastian’s personal life. In fact, it had been the downfall of his relationship with Tabitha.

Though it was on the tip of her tongue to adamantly refuse Sebastian’s dinner request, Tabitha already knew that she wouldn’t. Whatever her problem was or still is with Sebastian she would not air it in front of others. Especially not in front of her classmates and doubly not in front of his girlfriend.

“I’ll be glad to join you two for dinner,” Tabitha finally replied in an even tone. Then she turned to Brennan with an apology. “Sorry, maybe some other time.”

“How about next Wednesday?” Brennan said, putting in his rain check early as he masked his jealousy of their instructor. How many men wouldn’t be envious of a guy that was privy to two beautiful women at one time? Brennan could only hope that Sebastian would throw back the blonde when he was through with her. But then again, what man in his right mind would ever throw back a perfectly good blond?

Tabitha gave Brennan the best smile she would muster. “Next Wednesday is fine.” Take that, you jerk, she mused, sending a subliminal message to her meddling instructor. That message - all future Wednesday dinners are off limits to you!

Brennan smiled wide, glad to still be in the running for Tabitha’s affection. “Great. I look forward to it,” he replied. Then he turned to depart with the rest of his male classmates, leaving Sebastian and the two women behind.

“I’m cooking at Sebastian’s tonight, so that should give us plenty of time to talk and get to know one another better,” Alzora said, coming closer to Tabitha with that same forced smile upon her face. If only the blond woman wasn’t so good looking, she might have been able to relax more.

“Right.” Tabitha smiled back. Her smile was also forced. Inwardly, she was convinced that this was going to be the most awkward night of her life.

I owe you a swift kick in the forehead for this one, Seb, Tabitha mused, cutting her eyes at Sebastian. And another one in the you-know-where, she added hotly, after catching a quick gleam of triumph in his eyes.

There was no doubt about it now. Tabitha would have to spend extra time in prayer tonight about that fiery temper of hers. Although she’d worked and prayed long and hard to get her temper under control over the years, being around Sebastian threatened to make her lose it time and time again. Tabitha couldn’t allow that. Too much was riding on her.

© 2006 by Suprina Frazier

Monday, September 25, 2006

Hump Day - Ch. 2

“Tab?!” Her nickname was all Sebastian could gasp out over the sudden emotional lump in his throat. With hungry eyes, he perused Tabitha’s appearance in the formfitting blue jeans, sapphire-colored V-neck top, and blue trainer boots she wore.

Although Tabitha was still slender and athletic-looking like Flo-Jo, the famous track star, the last ten years had added more volume to her curves in the best way. Now she really had a supple hourglass figure like the African-American side of her family, where full-bodied women like her mother were in abundance.

Tabitha’s figure wasn’t the only thing different about her now. Her natural wheat-colored hair was currently blond, causing her to look more like the Caucasian part of her family from the neck up. Or at least like Halle Berry in the comedy movie BAPS.

Tabitha seemed equally shocked to see the man who’d broken her heart all those years ago. Her shock was soon replaced by anger. What couldn’t Sebastian be bald, fat, and ugly by now? What did he have to look so good in the charcoal-colored slacks, ecru mock turtleneck, and shiny black shoes he wore? Worse, why were all of Tabitha’s senses going into overload the longer she looked at him?

“Seb, what are you doing here?” she asked, using his nickname, as well. If her backpack wasn’t still holstered across one shoulder, Tabitha would have surely dropped it by now, thereby breaking the new laptop computer she recently purchased. Where was all of her police training now?

Quicker to recover, Sebastian put the eraser down and patted his hands free of debris. The whole time he never stopped looking into Tabitha’s sapphire eyes, watching how they turned deeper blue with fury. It was clear that she was still mad with him for choosing to leave Leeward all those years ago.

Sebastian expected Tabitha’s anger and had a bit of his own to dish out. After all, she could have easily come to him once her mother had the baby. He’d written her with his address when he got settled. But no, Tabitha chose to stay there in that backwoods town and waste her time and energy on a hopeless cause. If everybody made the wrong choice, it was her.

“I’m here teaching a class, Tabitha,” Sebastian replied curtly, using her given name now. Fully recovered from his shock, he refused to indulge in any intimacies from the past. Doing so might spell emotional danger for the both of them.

“Don’t tell me you’re teaching this class. My class?” Tabitha’s eyes were wide with horror now. As she spoke, she put her backpack atop of the first sturdy desk on the third row.

“Yes, I am. I just can’t believe those rednecks up in Leeward finally decided to let you advance up the ranks so that you could even be in this class,” Sebastian replied. “I’m curious, how long you did you stay a sergeant after I left?” he added smugly. Sebastian knew exactly how to get to her, even though he wasn’t sure yet why he still wanted to.

As expected, his arrogant comments instantly struck a fiery nerve within Tabitha. Why else would her hands immediately clench into fists at her sides? It was obvious that she wanted to punch him or at least dropkick him for his remarks, but like the good police officer that she was, she restrained herself.

“It doesn’t really matter how long it took me to get here. All that matters is that I’m here now; ready to learn whatever you have to teach me. So teach me, you big jerk!” Tabitha said super-calmly. Then she plopped down in the seat of the desk she stood by and folded her arms defiantly across her chest.

Tabitha hadn’t come all this way to be dissuaded by her ex-partner/ex-lover. There was too much riding on this. In fact, she was going to glean every bit of information Sebastian had to offer, ask hundreds of questions, and make him work his cute patooty off to earn the top dollar that he was no doubt being paid to teach this class at such a prestigious institution. So what if that same cute patooty was filling out the pants he wore very nicely today.

Instead of being angry about Tabitha’s fiery attitude, Sebastian was highly stimulated by it, which was why he moved to the rectangular-shaped oak desk in the northeast corner of the room by the window. He had to put some distance away from them.

Even still Sebastian didn’t regret the provocative words he’d used to stir Tabitha’s fire up hotter. That’s the kind of spunk that caused a woman like her to make love for hours, regardless of the fact that she was a cop and was used to being physically active for long periods of time without getting out of breath.

And the way Tabitha quickly adjusted to Sebastian’s new status in her life, even embracing it as if the whole thing was her idea in the first place, had him recalling other times she’d been so adaptable. Incredibly enjoyable other times.

One time in particular, Sebastian suggested that they take a leisure walk in the tall wheat fields of his parents’ land. Halfway across, they found a small clearing that his father had made days earlier. Sebastian made another suggestion at that point, one more sensual in nature.

He stifled a moan in memory of how quickly Tabitha complied with his spontaneous request to make love to her right there on the spot. Sebastian stole a quick glance her way to see if she’d heard his moment of weakness. When he saw Tabitha busy unpacking her backpack, he sighed in relief and looked out the nearby window to tame his riotous thoughts.

As Sebastian noted the green grass on the ground below, his rebellious mind again turned to that day in the wheat field. A day when the ground had been browner in color.

In his mind’s eye, Sebastian remembered how Tabitha looked lying beneath him on the ground. Her hair, which had sported its natural color back then, had lay sprawled deliciously above her head, its tint blending in with some of the wheat grains around them. And those eyes…Tabitha’s sapphire pools had stared lovingly up at Sebastian the whole hour he made slow love to her.

So enraptured with the woman beneath him, Sebastian didn’t even stop when a small plane flew overhead well within clear viewing range. The thought of stopping didn’t actually occur to him until a soft rain began to fall. When Sebastian prepared to take a brief intermission so that they could seek shelter, Tabitha surprised him by rolling on top of him. Then she proceeded to extend their lovemaking time for another thirty minutes, oblivious to how wet they were getting out there in the elements.

Sebastian will never forget how beautiful Tabitha had looked with her damp hair plastered to her head, her back arched, and her body straddled atop him in true cowgirl style. When that fervent encounter had ended, he remembered thinking that he’d finally found the woman that he wanted to grow old with. My, how things had changed.

Hearing another student enter the classroom instantly snapped Sebastian out of his memory daze. The arrival of yet another student caused him to remember the purpose of today’s meeting and to endeavor to quickly get himself together.

Clearing his throat, Sebastian took a deep breath to flush the remnants of anger and desire out of his system. When he was thoroughly composed again, he stood up and began to address his incoming students.


© 2006 by Suprina Frazier

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Hump Day - Ch. 1

The following Wednesday, Tabitha made that hundred and fifty mile drive down to Pavilion City, Florida. So excited about all the possibilities awaiting her there, she cared little about the fact that she’d had to get out of bed at 4am that mid-February morning just to make it in time for her 8am class. Never mind the fact that she’d hardly slept a wink late night anyway due to her excitement at finally being able to walk in an answered prayer.

Just watch, Lord. I’m gonna make You proud of me, Tabitha mused resolutely as she watched the sunrise in the eastern sky. The pastel colors that preceded the sun’s appearance were soothing to her eyes, to her very soul.

When the colors eventually became more vivid in nature, Tabitha felt her excitement level rise even higher. It was a great feeling to be walking into one’s destiny. It was an even greater feeling to know that ten years of waiting had finally paid off.

After finding a good parking space for her navy-blue GMC Sonoma, Tabitha got out and stretched her svelte, slightly bow-legged frame, allowing the tension from the long drive to ease out of her muscles. She looked down at her slender diamond dial watch for the time.

Although class didn’t start for another twenty minutes, Tabitha couldn’t wait any longer. She yearned to start her new life now. Pronto!

Besides, it’ll probably give me some time to talk to the instructor, Tabitha reasoned, looking for any excuse to get inside of that classroom. After retrieving her black backpack, she headed to class with a light step in her walk on that beautiful clear day.

* * *

Chief County Detective Sebastian Armstrong readied his classroom for today’s students. He aligned the desks into neat rows, disposed of any stray paper from yesterday’s class, and erased the previous instructor’s notes from the black chalkboard at the front of the room.

After subbing a few times last quarter when needed and yielding excellent results, the Pavilion City Police Academy persuaded Sebastian to head up his own class. Actually Sebastian let the powers that be think he’d needed persuading when he’d, in fact, been considering doing this for quite some time now. Although he loved his life as a detective and had spent the last decade carefully building his impressive career, teaching others how to be good detectives excited him much more.

Today Sebastian couldn’t wait to look at the fifteen new faces he’d been assigned to. He was eager to impart the knowledge he’d learned over the last ten years of his life.

Ten years? Has it been that long? the thirty-two-year-old man mused, recalling how long he’d been in Florida. How long he’d been away from Georgia, most specifically, how long since he’d last seen…her.

Tabitha Montebello had been everything Sebastian could ever want in a friend, everything he could ever want in a partner, and especially everything he could ever want in a lover. They’d grown up together in the small town of Leeward and no one had understood him quite like Tabitha had.

As the only two biracial kids in their school, they hadn’t known where to fit in. Because of her olive complexion, freckles, straight wheat-colored hair, and sapphire-colored eyes, Tabitha wasn’t deemed black enough for the black crowd. Ironically, she wasn’t deemed white enough for the white crowd, either. Especially when her skin became extra tan during the summer months.

Although Sebastian had deep mahogany skin and did occasionally hang out with the black crowd, he also knew that he stood out like a sore thumb even among them. His thick silky hair - inherited from his mother - had made sure of that. Therefore, Sebastian and Tabitha had been drawn to each other like magnets. In a way, the two outcasts had needed each other. They’d certainly fought many a bully together and separately.

As friends, Sebastian discovered that he and Tabitha had a lot of things in common. They both loved the open airy feel of the country town they lived in and the way being around nature helped them to think clearly. They’d both had an interest in law enforcement and upon high school graduation, had entered the Leeward Academy together. Then because they were both so ambitious, they chided each other on to excellence, causing them both to graduate with top honors.

It was a happy day for Sebastian and Tabitha to discover that they were partnered together. Little did they know at the time that that was only because no one else wanted to be their partners. And that being together would make it easier for certain department heads to question their every move and decision in order to set them up for failure later on.

Fortunately, Tabitha was just as sharp as Sebastian. Together they overcame every obstacle set before their partnership. It was no surprise to anyone that they fell madly in love along the way. Sebastian and Tabitha spent a little over three years working together and loving together. It was a magical time in both of their lives, despite all the hurdles they had to jump together.

Over that three-year period, Sebastian learned that if there was ever anyone he could trust with his life, it was Tabitha. She had sharpshooter abilities and although she was slender at 5’4, she still could pack quite a punch. Plus, to increase her odds against any opponent, Tabitha took all kinds of martial arts classes, which eventually made her a walking weapon of destruction.

Sebastian had loved almost everything about her. The one thing he hadn’t loved about Tabitha was her idealism. She actually thought that in time they could bring about a positive change in Leeward. Sebastian didn’t share that view and after being passed over for a third promotion that he knew he’d earned, he put in for a transfer.

Sebastian paused from erasing the blackboard when he remembered Tabitha’s devastation upon learning about his transfer. She’d been angry that he hadn’t discussed it with her beforehand, angrier about how covertly he’d gone about the whole situation. He hadn’t even told his parents the news until the last minute.

But Sebastian had known exactly what he was doing by keeping that secret to himself. He’d been trying not to be talked out of leaving by his parents and especially by Tabitha, who seemed to have the power to change his mind about most things. When he finally told her of his transfer, Sebastian had hoped that his departure would spark a desire in her to leave, as well. In fact, he downright asked Tabitha to come with him.

Unfortunately, Tabitha hadn’t wanted to leave Leeward. The main reason being the fact that her mother was ill at the time with an unexpected mid-life pregnancy and Tabitha wanted to be there for her. She also reminded Sebastian of her desire to help the city of Leeward itself. She practically begged him to stay and partner with her in this mission, especially since she believed that they were soul-mates.

When Sebastian didn’t budge from his decision, Tabitha gave him an ultimatum. He was told that he could either stay in Leeward with her or it was over between them. Unfortunately for them both, Sebastian chose to leave anyway. That marked the end of them as partners, as a couple, and the end of them even as friends. They hadn’t spoken since.

Remembering their emotional breakup caused a rush of old feelings to tumble forward in Sebastian’s heart. The pain of those memories hit him like a swift kick in the groin. He almost fell to his knees from the agony, if not for him quickly sitting down on the edge of the teacher’s desk.

Although Sebastian’s heart had wanted to stay where the love of his life was, his mind knew that he had to get away from Leeward, lest it smother him to death with its racial intolerance. Especially the subtle intolerance that had reigned over the Leeward police force. The kind of intolerance that one could feel, but had no tangible proof that it existed. That way, no one could ever be held responsible.

Although Sebastian had sighed in relief the minute he’d left the city limits of Leeward, his heart had ached terribly for the woman he had to leave behind. Ever since then his one regret had been the fact that he hadn’t been able to have the career he wanted and the woman he thought heaven had created just for him.

After taking several deep calming breaths, Sebastian returned to his task at the blackboard. Hearing the footsteps of someone about to enter the classroom from the left, he turned to greet his first student of the day. Sebastian’s eyes bucked when he saw that that first student was none other than Tabitha Montebello.

© 2006 by Suprina Frazier

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Hump Day - Prologue

Prologue
Lieutenant Tabitha Montebello was restless and frustrated on that wet, chilly February morning. Oh, how she longed to be out on the beat, scouring the city for criminal elements like most of her other peers. Who cares that it was raining outside? Tabitha sure didn’t.

But where was she today? Where she was every work day – at her oak desk, typing endless police reports. On top of that, it was Wednesday, otherwise known as ‘Hump Day’. Surely that hump had to be the highest mountain on the face of the earth. A mountain that people everywhere had to tread up with weighted boots on their feet and hundred pound sacks on their backs.

“I hate Wednesdays,” Tabitha muttered under her breath, hitting the computer keys extra hard in frustration.

Wednesdays had to be the longest day of the week. Mondays went faster because they were filled with so much new activity. Tuesdays were fast, too, but not as fast as the previous day and it contained a lot of rollover tasks.

Thursdays were filled with excitement since they were so close to the weekend. And everybody knows that Fridays are the beginning of leisure. But Wednesdays, they were the worst. That day had no new assignments, no excitement, and no overall spark. In short, it was the most boring day of the week.

Wednesdays were extra boring for Tabitha since she was no longer on street patrol and seemed destined to rot behind a desk. In her opinion, the only good thing Wednesday had going for itself was Bible studies at various local churches.

Just then, Tabitha’s boss entered the room, interrupting her mental litany of all the reasons to hate this particular day of the week. As usual, Captain Irwin Meacham was dressed in a crisp, newly dry-cleaned black and white uniform. No hair on his head was out of place.

“Lieutenant Montebello, I need to see you in my office please,” Captain Meacham said. Then he turned around and walked back the way he came.

Tabitha stopped typing, got up and immediately followed her superior. She was not put off at all by her boss’ abrupt appearance and departure. Capt. Meacham had never been a man to mince words. That fact was further proven as soon as Tabitha stepped inside of his office.

* * *

“Congratulations. You got that promotion you wanted,” Capt. Meacham said as he retrieved a colorful brochure from his neat desk. “With this promotion comes a lot of training. In fact, expect to be in training every Wednesday for the next six weeks at the address on the back of this,” he continued, handing the pamphlet off to her.

“Affirmative, sir. Thank you,” Tabitha replied, never breaking her professional persona as she received the brochure. Her eyes only briefly perused the item in her right hand.

Irwin stared intently at Tabitha for a long silent while, expecting to see some type of emotional reaction from her. Especially since this was something that she’d wanted for a very long time. But once again, he only found strict professionalism. Once again, Irwin was amazed by Tabitha’s inner strength as she held her head high, stood with her back straight, her feet wide and looked him straight in the eye.

Tabitha was behaving cool, calm, and completely in control regardless of whether she felt that way or not. This was command presence at its finest - which every officer was taught from day one at the police academy - and Capt. Meacham had never been more proud of her.

“You’re dismissed, Detective Lieutenant Montebello,” Capt. Meacham finally concluded, releasing her to return to her post. He’d put respectful emphasis upon Tabitha’s new title in order to let her know that he was proud of her without actually saying it.

This woman is going to go far in her career. Shoot, she should have been farther along by now anyway, Irwin mused as he returned to his swivel desk chair.

Even now he could recall how often Tabitha had gotten passed over for promotions and special projects over the years based on either her gender or her race. Sometimes both.

Unable to sit back and watch her get passed over again, Capt. Meacham had used every connection he had, both professional and private, to push for this latest promotion. He’d finally gotten it when he reminded the powers that be that Tabitha was one of the best in their line of work and had a spotless record on the field and off the field. That another oversight of a fine officer like her would no doubt bring speculation into the fairness of their hiring practices. That last thing had been the zinger.

Capt. Meacham had been relieved when the promotion finally went through. Yet he was not pleased that it had taken so much effort and that the budget for Tabitha’s training had been compromised. It was as if they’d deliberately held back just enough to boast that they still hadn’t given her exactly what she wanted, exactly what she deserved.

I don’t know why Tabitha hasn’t left this backwards city by now, Irwin mused. Why she seems so committed to seeing it change for the better.

Capt. Meacham would have been long gone by now if the same odds had been stacked against him time and time again. Especially if he’d seen some of the same people he’d started out with advance ahead of him. Not because they were better, but strictly because they were of different genders and of different cultural backgrounds.

I would’ve skedaddled just like her old partner did, Irwin thought, reminded of Sebastian Armstrong.

Sebastian had been another fine officer who’d been unappreciated and unwanted by this town. Although he’d certainly been the right sex, he hadn’t been the right color. As the only offspring of an Indonesian born woman and an African-American man who were not married at the time of his birth, Sebastian’s dark complexion had hindered him from advancing up the ranks as quickly as he should have in Leeward, a semi-rural city near Attapulgus, Georgia.

Even though Tabitha was as light as they come with her olive skin and those tiny freckles along the bridge of her small nose which had been inherited from her Caucasian father, she still had an African-American mother. And that’s what the higher ups in Leeward deemed unacceptable. Unfortunately, none of that could be proven since the higher ranks kept certain things tightly under wraps and publicly appeared to tolerate everyone.

Hopefully, Pavilion City will give her a taste of the kind of future she can have, Irwin mused. I know it will definitely show the higher ups that they ain’t the only ones with a few tricks up their sleeves, he thought with a secret smile.

Capt. Meacham had multiple reasons for sending Tabitha to a training facility in Pavilion City, Florida, even though there was another good facility less than seventy-five miles away. As a visionary, he knew that change was inevitable for Leeward. As a man who usually followed his gut feelings, Capt. Meacham sensed that Leeward’s change was going to come through none other than Detective Montebello.

Lastly, as a secret romantic, Capt. Meacham wanted Tabitha to experience something else that the city of Leeward wouldn’t allow her to have - a second chance at love.

* * *

Tabitha returned to her desk with thoughts of awe dancing through her mind. Being promoted to detective was just another step in her ultimate goal to change the current way of doing things in their town. Not just for women, but for all Leeward minorities as a whole. As of today, Tabitha was not only the first female detective in the history of the Leeward police department; she was also the first black one.

It’s finally happening, God. It’s finally happening! Tabitha shouted on the inside as she calmly sat down in her chair.

It had been a long, hard struggle to reach this point over the last ten years, but she’d finally made it. Tabitha had made it despite her race, despite her gender, and despite the slow moving, good ol’ boy hierarchal system of the rustic city that her heart couldn’t help but reach out to.

Though Tabitha didn’t feel called to the nations like the son of Hilkiah was in Jeremiah 1:10, she did feel called to stir up and take down a few things in one particular city. That passage in Jeremiah was the same one that she’d been led to after a near-death experience ten years ago. Since then Tabitha continued to hold that scripture dear because it finally gave voice to what her heart had known for years – she was destined to usher in the season of change in Leeward.

Finally, I’ll be able to wear my own clothes to work, Tabitha mused, grateful for that small blessing as well concerning her promotion.

Though she loved being seen in her black and white uniform with its cloth insignias worn between each shoulder and elbow that indicated her length of service, there was nothing like fulfilling one’s destiny in more comfortable clothes.

Reaching for the phone on her desk, Tabitha dialed her parents’ number. Whether she’d be able to maintain her composure while relaying her good news to them was left to be seen.

© 2006 by Suprina Frazier

New Preview Blurb

Dear Readers,
For the remainder of this month, I've decided to post chapter excerpts from one of my books entitled - HUMP DAY. Though it is an inspirational romance, it is a bit risque' so be forewarned. Below is the blurb:

Tabitha already hated Wednesdays before she ever enrolled in the once-a-week detective course. Now every middle of the week she is confronted with seeing her ex-lover again. The same ex-lover who now teaches the highly esteemed course she has waited nearly ten years to take. Can Tabitha overcome her personal feelings towards Sebastian in order to finally realize her dream of being a top-notch detective? Or will sexy Sebastian tempt the converted woman to fail on multiple levels?

Enjoy!

Suprina Frazier

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I’m Finally Back

I really missed, you guys. I hope you missed me.

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, I can tell you that me…and my family have been to a few valleys this summer and a few mountaintops. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

So many changes have occurred in my life recently. Some good. Some bad. All of them necessary. At one point I seriously debated whether I should continue my writing career at all. Especially since my accounting career seems to hold so much more promise…financially that is.

So I’ve decided the following:

  • Until my writing endeavors are able to pay for my full-time attention, I will only engage in them on a part-time basis (even though I love writing way more than accounting).
  • I will still post on my blog(s), yet not as frequently. I’m still working out exactly how frequently, so bear with me on that.
  • I’m going to suspend the Date Night storyline until further notice. Like I said earlier, I simply lack the time to keep certain things up now that I am going back into accounting year round.


Other changes concerning my writing career involve me branching off into other genres. Most of you know me to only write Inspirational Romance. Well, I’m now writing Sci-Fi (Inspirational and Secular) under the pen name: SD Frazier.

I also now write Secular Romance (with wholesome undertones, of course) under yet another pen name: Mi’Chelle Dodson. I wrote three of them during my recent hiatus just to see if I could do it. I may preview one on this blog soon and let you tell me what you think about it.

Okay, that’s enough catching up for now. I’ll try to post more by Friday.

Suprina

PS: Be sure to keep an eye out for books bearing both of my new pen names soon.