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

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