May 26, 2017
Sugar lets her curiosity get the best of her.
Mood Music: Say Yes by Floetry
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Sugar squirted thick creamy pomegranate-scented lotion into the palm of her hand before she meticulously massaged into her right leg. She had just finished taking a shower and toweling herself dry. Now, she sat at the edge of her bed and applied body butter on her freshly-showered flesh as the next step in her nightly regime before bed. She loved quiet moments like this, especially after an eventfully rough day. She went shopping with her mother in preparation for an upcoming two-week cruise. Then her mother decided to take her to a pub that just so happened to be owned by the very man she had met under unique circumstances. The bastard, in turn, proposed a dinner date for an opportunity for her to learn the truth.
She let out an unladylike snort at his audacity as she moved on from her legs to lotioning her arms and shoulders.
She didn't agree to it, of course. She walked away and participated in the most awkward lunch as every single time she looked over at the bar, she always caught him staring at her. When it was time to leave, her mother essentially forced her to shake the man's hand as a parting gesture. However, instead of shaking her hand, he decided to lift her hand to his lips and kiss the back of it! Another point of approval in her mother's book. Another brick fallen off the wall of resistance Sugar had built around herself.
"Bastard," she grumbled to herself.
It was then she heard her cell chime with a received text.
She arched an eyebrow at the sound and retrieved the device that was directly beside her. She picked it up and unlocked it with a passcode. It was a next message from a contact named ‘Do Not Answer'. She had created the contact herself as a remainder to herself though she could've easily deleted it weeks ago. She reasoned with herself that it was logical to keep it in her phone, so she wouldn't forget who the number belonged to.
Do Not Answer: I'll be at the Jazzmyne Garden Club at 9:30. Come find out the truth or always wonder.
Sugar rolled her eyes sharply at the message and let out an irritated huff as she tossed the device aside before she resumed lotioning the rest of her body. When she was finished with the task, she walked over to her walk-in closet and searched through her closet for pajamas to wear.
In the mist of doing that, her eyes fell upon a mid-thigh plunging backless white lace cocktail dress with sheer cap sleeves. She bought and wore it three years ago for a romantic wedding anniversary dinner Lance didn't show up to because he was working "overtime". Yet inside of feeling a sense of bitterness at the past, a burning desirous curiosity ignited inside of her as she wondered how Chef would react if he saw her in this.
Would she be able to affect him as intensely as he affected her?
In the process, she could learn the truth and formulate a plan of action on moving forward that may or may not involve him
She carried the dress out of the closet and laid it onto the bed before she picked up her phone, eying the time. It was forty minutes to 9:30. She didn't have very much time to look decent and make it there by that.
She then proceeded to scurry about readying herself by shimmying into the dress, fishing around in her closet for five-inch white lace pumps she wore to Odette's wedding as a bridesmaid, and applying a light makeup in the bathroom. Her hair wasn't perfect but it was tamed as it cascaded over her shoulders. She was finished in fifteen minutes and clipped a white Magnolia hairclip that she had gotten for her birthday last year from an uncle on her father's side of the family.
Shoving her phone and wallet into a white clutch bag with a thin silver chain as a strap, she scampered through the house and towards her car parked in the garage. She waited impatiently as the garage door wheeled up excruciatingly slow before she sped out of the garage in reverse. She jammed the garage door remote and as the door began to close, she shifted gears to drive and raced down the street.
Along the way, she inputted Jazzmyne Garden Club into her car's GPS and followed the system's robotic-voiced directions. She pulled into the club's crowded parking lot about seven minutes late. It took about two more minutes to find a parking space. She slid into a spot and hopped out of the car, marching across the parking lot and to the club's entrance. The entrance consisted of two lengthy trellises acting as walls overflowing with sweet-scented blossoming white jasmine. There was a bit of a line to get in and she had to ten more minutes.
Eventually, she made it past the bouncers and walk down the jasmine-walled pathway that led to the club's entrance doors. Making her way inside, she was overwhelmed by how crowded the club was, but luckily, everyone was seated and bobbing their head to the music. The room was bathed in cool light hues of red, pink, blue, and purple. A live jazz band played a relaxing sensual number with a beautiful heavy-set black woman at the front mike crooning in a lovely smoky voice.
Sugar walked carefully through club, searching for Chef.
She identified him from behind by the tattoo on the back of his neck. He was seated at a table dead-center at the front. The only thing that separated him from the stage was the dancefloor. She approached him slowly before she rounded the table, sitting opposite to him. He jerked his attention from the live act to her, blinking his gray eyes momentarily in surprise at her arrival. However, the surprise melted away and a dark unreadable expression clouded his facial features as his eyes traveled from her head and downward before he returned to her face.
"I'm curious," she admitted, cocking her head.
"And gorgeous," he added as he eyed her once more appreciatively.
She fought the urge to smile at his compliment.
"You promised me the truth if I came. I'm waiting," she said, folding her hands on the table.
He chuckled a little, stroking his beard. "Straight to business, huh? Not even a little winin' and dinin'?"
"Not thirsty. Already ate," Sugar informed him with an innocent smile.
He picked up a short glass of amber liquor on the rocks and brought it to his lips, his gray eyes never leaving her face. "You come to a dinner date with no desire to eat or drink," he said more to himself than her, shaking his head with a grin. "You're a one of a kind lady."
"I'm a one of a kind lady still waiting."
He put his drink down. "I'll give you what you want, but show some mercy and throw an old dog a bone. A question for a question."
Sugar considered his request for a moment and sighed, "Fine."
He inclined his head. "Then ladies first."
"Why did you get kicked out of that car?"
"All due to a poor decision on my part," he answered in a vague clever manner, leaning in. "My turn. What's the one thang you love most in the entire world?"
Sugar blinked in utter shock at how smoothly he tricked her by feeding her a vague answer. It satisfied the requirement of their agreement, but did not satisfy her eagerness for the truth.
She clenched her jaw, narrowing her eyes. She considered his question and thought about giving him an answer just as vague. "Music."
A pleased look drenched his face and he nodded his head.
"Elaborate what you mean by ‘poor decision'," she requested.
He grinned. "Not a question."
Sugar rolled her eyes.
"Can you elaborate on what you mean by ‘poor decision'," she reworded.
"I decided to do a favor for a friend of a friend of a friend, but I should've known better," he replied, once again vaguely. "What instrument do you play?"
Sugar frowned. "What makes you think I play an instrument?"
"Not an answer," he reminded her, his grin widening.
If it wasn't for the fact that he had the sexiest smile she had ever witnessed, she would've been much angrier, but she could only bring herself to be annoyed by his slyness.
Sugar closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "Piano."
For a moment, she saw a flash of pleasant surprise in his eyes before he peered down at her fingers that were laced together on the table. He cocked his head, observing them as he thought to himself.
She then asked, "What was the favor this friend of a friend of a friend asked of you?"
"I box as a side gig. A boxer bowed out from a scheduled match. The arrangers needed a skilled replacement and came across my name," he answered, his eyes glued to her manicured fingers as he spoke.
She straightened up in her seat, completely taken back by his confession. Everything she witnessed that night had to do with boxing? Then again, the more she looked at him, the more she realized that he was a man that could definitely take a good beating and dish out the same. He was the epitome of power and strength.
Her dark skin flushed at the thought.
It was his turn again.
Finally, his gaze lifted to hers. "Will you dance with me?"
"No," she answered hesitantly.
If she walked on that dancefloor with him, she had a strong feeling that he was going to sweep her off her feet and she couldn't have that.
She wouldn't allow that. At least, not until she knew the truth-the whole truth.
He grinned subtly at her rejection.
Now, it was her turn.
"What happened next," she answered.
"I got dropped off at the place without a clue as to the mess I was gonna find myself in. It wasn't until I got there was I told that the match was stacked. I was a newcomer to their fighting circles, so they wanted me to take a fall for a cut of the earnings. They expected me to do it, but they were sorely mistaken. It was a tough match, but I won it. Lots of folks betting on the other guy lost big. I needed a ride home and they gave me one," he answered. "I got a good beating along the way and they tossed me out...Will you dance with me?"
She had been so captivated in his story that her brain concocted kinds of vivid mental images of a rough bloody fight where Chef was crowned as winner. His question snapped her out of her thoughts, surprising her.
She blinked at him confused. "You already asked that."
"Not an answer."
Sugar regarded him for a long moment. She knew the truth. It wasn't as bad as she thought it to be. So, he didn't owe money to criminal organization. He wasn't a drug dealer. He wasn't a criminal.
"Fine," she huffed. "Just one dance."
"One dance is all I need, darlin'," he assured.
Chef stood up from his chair and rounded the table, pushing back her seat for her to raise as the band transitioned to a jazz classic, I Put a Spell on You. He offered her his hand like a gentleman and she reluctantly took it, allowing him to lead her onto the dancefloor.
His muscular arm was curled around her waist and he rested his hand at the small of her back, making her regret wearing a plunging backless cocktail dress as there was nothing but skin-on-skin contact. In return, she placed a hand on his back. His strong hand held her spare one as they danced slowly to the music. She closed her eyes and bit back a tiny moan as she felt his rough thumb tenderly stroke a tiny patch of flesh at the small of her back in an up-and-down motion.
It had been so long since she had danced with someone like this, but it was difficult for her to deny that she enjoyed the scent of his cologne, his warmth, and the overall closeness of him.
She pressed her cheek against his chest.
"You wanted to know how I felt in your arms while we danced," she then spoke. "How do I feel?"
He dipped his head down, brushing his lips against her ear.
"Like a goddamn blessing," he admitted huskily, his warmth breath fluttering against her ear as he spoke. He then kissed her earlobe and she shuddered against him, sighing a little in response. He chuckled darkly, holding her tighter against him.
"You're making this real difficult for me, Chef," she admitted weakly, frustration laced tightly within her confess.
A low rumbly chuckle vibrated in his chest once more, tickling her ear that was pressed there. "Then I must be doin' somethang right."
She squeezed her eyes shut. "I really should walk away from this all."
He suddenly took a step back from their close embrace and led her into a quick smooth twirl before he guided her back to him.
Back into his arms.
Back into his web.
"You can't walk away if I'm holding you like this, Sugar," Chef said. Sugar gazed up at him with a twinkle of desperation in her eyes and a crumbling self-control. Her pounding heart was lodged somewhere in her throat and her reliable backbone's ability to keep her upright faltered as she melted against him.
"Then let me go," she whispered breathlessly.
He dipped his head down, his lips hovering bare millimeters from hers.
"Not a chance in hell, sweetheart," he said.
It was then the song ended. She decided to classify it as a sign from the heavens and she took an abrupt step back from him, destroying any chance of an opportunity for him to kiss her.
A shaky exhale tumbled from her lips before she cleared her throat. "Your one dance is up."
"As it seems," he said. His gray eyes shined with a subtle amusement at her attempt to resist him-to take back some control.
They strolled back to the table and he pushed out her chair for her to seat down. Once she was seated, she glanced around the room to avoid his gaze.
"I'm nothing like him, Sugar."
She returned her attention back to him with a confused look. "You're not like who?"
"The pathetic boy you're comparing me to," Chef said. "I'm nothing like him, Sugar."
She leaned slightly, frowning. "You might not be nothing like him now, but maybe you will be someday. My ex-husband Lance was a totally different person when I met him, when I married him. He wanted a better life for us-for me. I felt so blessed have him in my life. I worked my ass off to help him-to help us. Then after twelve years of marriage," she snapped her fingers, "he was different. Colder. Crueler. I couldn't do anything right. Everything was always my fault. Suddenly, my existence was a burden to him."
Hot tears bubbled up in her eyes as she became overwhelmed with terrible feelings from her past, but she refused to let them spill. "I loved that man with everything I had, but it wasn't enough. He wanted children. He wanted a legacy. I tried to give him that four goddamn times, but it always ended the exact same. Me coming home from the hospital emptyhanded with my heart wrenched out and an empty nursery that would never be used. You could never understand that kind of loss. That kind of mourning."
"My daughter committed suicide five years ago," he said solemnly.
A lightning bolt of utter shock bolted through her. Her quivering jaw dropped open at his brutal confession. She was unsure of what to say.
He continued, "Burying her was the most excruciating thing I ever had to experience. My ex-wife put aside her hate for me long enough to convince me to put down the loaded gun I had against my head after the funeral. I wanted to kill myself, so I could be buried next to my daughter. I convinced myself that was the only way I'd find peace."
"So, yes, Sugar. I know exactly what that kind of loss-that kind of mourning-is like."
Once again, she had misjudged him. Once again, she assumed he was one thing and he ended up being something else entirely. She was felt an awful regret in the pit of her stomach. He lost the life of a child he had raised and built his life around.
When she finally gained the courage to speak so that she could apologize, he cut her off smoothly.
"Don't apologize," he said. "Just know both our scars aren't very different and I want to see every single one of yours. I want you to see every single one of mine. The question is will you let me in close enough for that kind of show-and-tell?"
Sugar casted her eyes downward. "I don't think I can show you all of them. I can barely look at them myself."
"Then just show me a peek of what you've got. I'm a low-maintenance man, honey," he said. "I don't ask for much. I can survive off whatever crumbs you throw at me."
His words made her weak.
His words made her want to peel off every inch of clothing so he could take a good look at her scars. Physical, psychological, emotional.
Why was he so adamant on going after her?
Sugar scoffed, shaking her head. "I just don't understand why you want me. I've judged you. I've insulted you. I disrespected you in your own restaurant. I've rejected your kindness, your interest. So, why are you still here? Why is this happening right now?"
"You showed a battered bloodied man kindness. You helped him up when he was down. You took care of him when you shouldn't have. You put his needs before your own so flawlessly that he realized that's how you are. You're a giver. You give, give, give, but you never take," he replied. "No one has ever put your needs before their own like they should, but if you let me in, Sugar, I'll always put you first. I'll give and you'll take until your heart's content."
His gaze was so intense that she had to turn her attention to the live band to give herself a chance to calm down. Her body was on fire and throbbing with want-with need. Her nerves were wired and jittery.
"I'm not some youngster who likes playing games. I've been a bachelor for eight years searching for the right woman to devote myself to," he continued on, "and my search was over the moment we crossed paths once again today, Sugar Magnolia."
Her eyelids fluttered close as his words washed over her. Now, she was hot, bothered, and lightheaded. She needed to get out of here and now.
"I need some fresh air," she blurted as she quickly rose from her chair, shrugged on her clutch's chain strap, and sauntered off as fast she could. She burst through the club's entrance doors, her high heels clicking rapidly against the ground as she raced down the jasmine-walled pathway that led to the bouncers guarding the path's mouth.
She rushed across the parking lot to her car, desperately fishing out her keys from her clutch. She unlocked the car and flung open the driver side's door, she plopped down onto the driver seat with her feet still planted on the parking lot ground. She hunched forward and took a deep breath, trying to get ahold of her senses.
"Are you alright?"
Sugar snapped her head in the direction of Chef's voice and found him standing by her car's back bumper.
"No," she said truthfully. "This is a little too much for me."
He rubbed the back of his neck for a moment, a thoughtful expression his face. "I can be a handful sometimes."
Sugar scoffed. "A handful? You're an ocean-full. What sane woman could be able to handle you?"
"How do you want to handle me, Sugar?"
"That's a loaded question that could bring a lot of trouble," she replied as she stepped out of her car, crossing her arms over her chest.
He grinned sexily. "According to you, I am trouble. I think I can handle what you want to say. So, indulge me."
Sugar closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
"I can't handle you like you want me to. I can't commit myself to a serious romantic relationship. I want to have fun in every possible way. I want to try and experience new things. I want to live an adventurous life. I have nineteen years of catching up to do. I don't have time for heavy emotions and romantic notions. I want no-strings attached fun," Sugar said. "That's all I want. So, you say you're a giver, but can you give me that, Chef? If you can't then walk away. I won't fault you."
Run away while you can, she pleaded to him in the depths of her mind.
"I ain't walkin' away," he said as he closed the distance between them, running his fingers through his hair.
Sugar arched an eyebrow, standing her ground and tilting her head up at him as he stopped barely an inch in front of her. "So, you agree to my conditions then?"
She could see the internal struggle in gray depths of his eyes. She knew this wasn't what he had expected-what he had wanted.
However, this was all she could give.
"I'll agree with one condition of my own," he replied as he crooked a finger and caressed her cheek. Her eyelids slid shut and she shuddered at his touch, goosebumps prickling onto her brown flesh.
She breathed, "You're in no position to-"
He interjected smoothly, "There will be no other man in your life except me. Do you understand?"
He was the only man she had let get this close. Somehow, he managed to worm himself under her skin and make a cozy home there. She decided it was futile to protest. He stubbornly rooted himself into her life therefore he deserved to be the only one.
At least, until everything goes wrong.
"Yes," she said.
So, Sugar and Chef embark on an uncommitted relationship because Sugar is scared of being in a serious relationship. Everyone keeps telling her to go out and have fun. That she doesn't need to be in a committed relationship to have fun. So, she's taking their advice. However, Chef has made his intentions known that he wants to pursue a serious relationship with Sugar yet he agreed to her rules.
Will Chef stick to her conditions or will he slyly defy them? He did say that he was a hard worker. ;)
Thank you so much for your feedback and support. It means the world to me and betters me as a writer.
Have a wonderful Tuesday! <3
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