Side Dishes

“Not your traditional inspirational romance novel”

Copyright © 2006 by Suprina Frazier Author contact info:

Side Dishes aren’t always about food…just ask an up and coming caterer and her overweight husband. This was one time Sage wished she’d never listened to her mother. Oh how she regretted ever going after Delane for his money. How was she going to live with herself, knowing that she’d turned such a kind man into a bitter soul? More importantly, how was Sage going to convince that same wealthy man that she didn’t get pregnant out of her love for money, but out of her love for him? After all, Delane had every right not to believe anything the former gold-digger said. Side Dishes is dedicated to the memory of Pamela Gitzendanner (aka Charlene Leonard)

Chapter 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. Only she had 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. Yet none of those women had been successful. Now Delane was more miserable than ever 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 now, hadn’t moved behind the side dish stage. Yet it was obvious that she wanted to. Why else would Petra 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 and possessions would satisfy him. They never had before. Others might think that losing all of that weight would have made Delane happy. No. 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. 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 Delane 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 as he ascended the stairs to his lonely bedroom. That question often repeated continually in his mind on days like this. Just then, the doorbell rang. Slowly making his way back downstairs, 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 the door at all. “Sage?!” Delane said as an emotional lump formed in his throat. 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. “H…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 Sage 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. 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 practically scowled at the woman in front of him. He would not allow his flesh or his heart to 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?” Delane asked. Sage winced at that memory. Her passion quickly weaned. “Those were my mother’s words, not mine, Delane. 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. If Sage had walked away empty-handed, Delane 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. While they’d been married Sage had loved the two Lexus’ Delane had owned. She’d 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 even if she told him. “My mother wouldn’t…” Sage began awkwardly as she searched for the right words to explain herself. Oh how she wished they could have had this conversation inside the house. Yet she seriously doubted if she would ever be welcome or allowed within those walls again. “You were a grown woman, Sage,” Delane retorted, interrupting her futile attempt to excuse her past behavior. “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 back then.” Sage took a deep breath and stared Delane 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 ever 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 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. As a matter of fact, Delane’s body 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. From what Delane could see with his eyes, Sage had gained weight in all the right places. The added expanse of her hips and the extra fullness of her bosom only made her look sexier in the orange V-neck wrap top and white flat front pants she wore. Oh, how Delane 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…right now. While Delane battled with his desires, 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 at least finish this particular part of her visit as planned, she pulled a velvet bag out of her purse and thrust it at him. Her forceful actions revealed some of her own internal conflict. “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 Delane peered inside the bag. Noting the expected look of shock, she endeavored to shock her exhusband all the more by moving to the left side of the doorframe. “I also brought you that back,” Sage continued, pointing towards 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 at his second shock of the day. Third, if one counted Sage’s reappearance. “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, too, 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 everyone knows that 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. She felt lighter already and considerably less angry although traces of disappointment still 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 rear door of the cab and thanked the driver for waiting. Meanwhile, Delane continued to stand in the doorway long after the taxi had gone up the street and around the corner. He couldn’t stop looking at his father’s dream car. He also couldn’t stop thinking about Sage and all that she’d done today. Because of Sage, Delane now found himself more stimulated than he’d been in a long time. He also found the hard bitterness around his heart softening. One more unselfish encounter like this with Sage and all the bitterness would be mush, ready to be rinsed away in the flow of 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 a long time ago. 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. Then after staring at the Impala a little while longer, he finally closed the front door and went to his study to think on a few things.

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