Sugar Mama by Missus James
RetiredSummary:

 

Thirty-seven-year-old Sugar Wallace used her bitter divorce as a sweet inspiration to pursue her lifelong dream of opening a trendy dessert and wine restaurant called Sugar Mama. Her friends and family want her to dive back into the dating game, but Sugar refuses to open her heart to another. Not when the man she gave her heart to for eighteen years of marriage crushed it after cheating on her with a young Instagram model. She's perfectly content with a busy life of running a successful business. Then one night, she witnesses a forty-six-year-old beaten man get pushed from a car and everything changes.


Categories: Original Fiction Characters: None
Classification: None
Genre: Drama, Erotica, Romance
Story Status: Active
Pairings: None
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: None
Chapters: 10 Completed: No Word count: 42799 Read: 24299 Published: July 18 2017 Updated: August 13 2017
Story Notes:

Normally, I write main characters that are in their twenties and early thirties. I've never written main characters in their late-thirties and forties. I've always wanted to write a story with Sanaa Lathan, but I needed a good leading man then I came across a fine specimen on Pinterest and I was absolutely awestruck. He was my leading man! He was my Miles Thibodeau. 

Here is my pinterest board for this story. It contains all the characters' pictures and inspirations for different settings in the story as I write them. 

I think I might publish this story in the near future, but I would love public opinion and honest feedback. 

1. Bittersweet by Missus James

2. Unsweet Beginnings by Missus James

3. Bitter Treasure by Missus James

4. Sour Sisters by Missus James

5. Salty Reunion by Missus James

6. Sweet Jasmine by Missus James

7. Hot Soup by Missus James

8. Yummy Cake by Missus James

9. Sweet Talk by Missus James

10. Hot Affair Pt. 1 by Missus James

Bittersweet by Missus James
Author's Notes:

May 16, 2016

A bitter end brings a sweet beginning. 

Music Mood: F*ck It All by Elle Varner

The moment the judge struck his gavel, Sugar Wallace let out a minuscule but shaky breath she hadn’t realized she was holding in. Her eyelids fluttered shut for a few seconds and a wave of overwhelming relief washed over her. It was over. It was finally over. After a year of bitter warring in court, Sugar was finally a divorced woman—a free woman. Opening her eyes, she looked over to her lawyer, Rochelle, who made no attempt to hide her displeasure.

“We could’ve took him to the cleaners,” Rochelle stated in a harsh whisper.

“What we agreed upon is enough,” Sugar said, “and he can have all the rest.”

“A lump settlement of eighty-eight thousand dollars is nothing but pocket change for a banking investor. Eighty-eight thousand dollars for eighteen years of marriage is nothing short of insulting, especially after,” Rochelle then stopped speaking, shifting her attention from Sugar to the man who approached their table. Rochelle’s eyes narrowed with a sneer on her face.

Lance Wallace smoothly slipped his hands into the pants’ pockets of his sharp navy-blue Armani suit as he eased to a halt in front of the table, his dark brown eyes focused solely on Sugar. The charming smile at his lips sparked recognition in Sugar’s mind, her brain plucking out distant memories when his smile actually meant something to her. When his smile made her heart flood with gooey warmth and her knees buckle with weakness. That smile coaxed her into being his slave to do his every bidding for eighteen years, but now, she was free from its hypnosis. Now, she knew his smile was nothing more than a decoration on his handsome face.

“I highly suggest you take your happy self somewhere, Lance,” Rochelle hissed, “or you’ll catch these hands.”

He looked at Rochelle, his smile widening. “Come on, Roc. The battle’s over and the peace treaty’s been signed. Let’s put away the animosity and make nice.”

Rochelle rose from her seat and planted her palms onto the table, leaning in threatening. “The battle isn’t over until blood is shed and I’m not above staining my Louboutins to protect my flesh-and-blood. You best believe that.”

“Always the protective little sister. Sugar made a good choice having you in her corner,” Lance chuckled. “If she had hired more competent lawyer then I might’ve had something to actually worry about.”

A flash of angered shock at his audacity swept across Rochelle’s face.

Sugar then said calmly, “Roc, I’ll meet you in the hallway.”

Rochelle defiantly held her gaze with Lance.

“Please,” Sugar added. Rochelle sharply cut her eyes between Sugar and Lance before she clenched her jaw.

“Fine, I’ll be out in the hallway, but don’t take too long,” she agreed bitterly as she retrieved her briefcase from beside her chair. She left the courtroom shooting daggers at Lance from over her shoulder.

“Out of all your brothers and sisters, she never liked me much,” Lance then replied.

Sugar shook her head, smiling sadly as she recollected eighteen years of moments—good and bad—leading up to this one. “You gave her plenty of reasons not to.”

“I’m not the bad guy here, Shug. What we had was never going to last.”

“I would love to know when you figured out that our marriage wasn’t going to make it. Was it before you decided to cheat on me with some Instagram model that’s nearly two decades your junior or after,” Sugar asked as she cocked her head, arching an eyebrow at him. “I would love to know.”

His smile waned, a cold meanness setting onto his facial features. “After you gave me a stillborn son.”

She winced.

“But that’s water under the bridge now,” he said, he gestured between them. “This is water under the bridge now. Everyone can walk away happy. After nearly a year of hashing this out in court, you finally get your money and I finally get to make an honest woman out of Mariah.”

Mariah, his twenty-one-year-old Instagram model girlfriend, was pregnant with their first child: a son. She was twenty-three weeks into her pregnancy. She had it plastered proudly all over her social media. Sometimes in her moments of weakness, Sugar explored the girl’s social media outlets to peek inside the life of the side chick her husband fucked during the final three years of their marriage. Sometimes, she closed her eyes and dreamed of a life where she was young and reckless. Twenty-one-year-old Mariah spent her youthful days globe-trotting, partying, and living life large. Sixteen years ago, a twenty-one-year-old Sugar worked three jobs to put her husband through college.

Now, there was no longer a need to understand the mechanical workings of a modern-day sidechick. She no longer had the heart to blame the girl. She couldn’t issue fault to a female her husband couldn’t keep away from. A female her husband repeatedly chose to risk their marriage over.

The fault was his and yet he would walk out of this courtroom a winner according to societal standards. Lance Wallace would walk away from this courtroom with a young pregnant beautiful fiancée, a successful career, and every possession they acquired as a couple over the course of eighteen years.

Sugar stood up from her seat. “I’m glad she makes you happy, Lance.”

“I’m sure you’ll find someone out there to make you happy, but it won’t be easy. Finding love isn’t easy when you’re past your prime.”

She chuckled at his dig.

It humored her that he believed being a thirty-seven-year-old woman meant that she living past her prime and yet he was a thirty-seven-year-old trying to hold onto his youth by living recklessly and burning through his money to keep his young fiancée happy.

The double standards imposed by society sickened her. He was welcomed to have his early mid-life crisis without judgment, but if she were to seek out love at her age then she was some sort of pariah. Apparently, older men age like fine wine while older women are nothing more than wrinkling spinsters.

Luckily, she didn’t need or want romantic love from anyone.

Sugar had given enough of that type of love over the course of eighteen years and nothing good came of it.

She loved hard and suffered from it.

The man that stood before her was once the source of all her suffering, but that was no longer.

“I don’t need anyone to make me happy, Lance. This time around I’m going to make myself happy. Something I should’ve done when I was married to you, but I was too busy trying to make you happy, which according to you, I was doing a very poor job of. I denied myself happiness for you. Chalked it up as a sacrifice that I needed to make for the sake of our marriage because I thought that if I did that, I could be awarded a glimpse of that boy I fell in love when I was eighteen and decided to marry against the wishes of my family at nineteen,” Sugar stated, “but I was a fool to think that.”

“You were a fool,” he agreed. “Still are.”

Sugar moved around the table and encroached in his personal space, tilted her head up at him with a smile. “That’s the pot calling the kettle black, don’t you think?”

“I’d love to hear whatever little theory is rolling around in that head of yours.”

“Curious, Lance?”

“Enlighten me, sweetheart.”

She snickered for a moment. “You seriously think a marriage between you and Mariah is going to be fruitful? You tolerate her because she’s beautiful and fertile. She tolerates you because you’ve got money. What you two have for each other isn’t love, Lance. It’s greed. Two greedy people using each other up to get a leg up,” she paused, “but I guess that’s better than being in a marriage with one greedy person. So, maybe you two deserve each other.”

Lance smirked, boldly tucking a strand of hair behind her hair before crooking a finger to stroke along her jawline. “You’ve always had an active imagination, Sugar. Always cooking up fantasies in your head. If that’s what you want to believe to compensate the fact that Mariah’s everything you’re not—that I love her more than I ever loved you—then go right ahead. Make me the villain in your story. I don’t mind.”

Sugar snatched his wrist, plucking away from her face.

“The morning after you told me you wanted a divorce, I went on her social media and looked at her pictures, posts, and tweets to understand why you were leaving me for her. I came across a tweet, her response to question about what she liked in men? You want to know what she wrote? ‘Big dicks and big dollars’. All three of us know you meet one of those two standards. You’ve definitely got something big and brown. She has no problem finding it in your pants. It’s the only reason she’s sticking around, Lance,” she said before dropping her voice into a whisper even though they were the only ones in the courtroom. “It’s your wallet. You know that thing you whip out so freely to compensate the fact that you can’t give her the other she wants. So, I guess you and I are both lacking in something.”

His eyes peered at her. She could see flames of anger flickering around in the chocolate depths of his eyes, but the strong emotion never reached his face. Lance was a seasoned professional at the art of holding back his anger, but she knew the full extent of his wrath behind closed doors.

But that was the past.

A past she needed to move on from before she became a prisoner to it. She refused to be a hostage to a never-ending cycle of remembering and reflecting a painful marriage she devoted and wasted half of her life to.

“You’ve got quite a feisty mouth on you now. The Sugar I knew wasn’t so bitter.”

She laughed briefly. “The Sugar you knew is gone, but I have you to thank for that because if you hadn’t put the needs of your ‘spare head’ over our marriage, I wouldn’t be what I am today—right here before you.”

“And what exactly are you now, Shug?”

“A free woman,” she revealed confidently as she backed away from him.

She swirled on her heels and pushed open the fenced gate of the courtroom’s barrier that separated the would-be spectators from the three-ring circus.

As she sauntered down the aisle, she said loudly, “Send Mariah my regards.”

“I hope you find some peace in your lonely life, Sugar,” he replied, always wanting the last word but she wouldn’t give him the satisfaction.

She turned halfway to face him as she opened one of the courtroom’s double doors. “I’d rather be lonely than miserable, but I’ll give it two years before you end back up in this courtroom. Then you’ll be miserable and lonely,” she stated with a warm smile while his smirk waned from his lips. Exiting the courtroom, she greeted with the sight of an irritated Rochelle.

“What took you so long,” Rochelle demanded to know.

“We were just having a little chat,” Sugar said.

Rochelle’s eyebrows shot up. “A little chat? With the enemy?”

Sugar ignored her younger sister’s comment. “Let’s go, Roc. I’m absolutely tired. I feel like we've been here all day.”

Her sister pursed her lips together, rolling her eyes. “Fine, let’s go.”

After leaving the downtown courthouse, they went across the street to the parking garage. Taking an elevator three floors up, they eventually made it to Rochelle’s car. Once Rochelle started the ignition, her bickering began.

“I can’t believe you agreed to that divorce settlement, Shug. You could’ve kept your two cars and that vacation house in Aspen, but eighty-eight thousand dollars? What are you going to do with that,” Rochelle complained as she backed her car out of its parking space. “How are you going to support yourself with that?”

“I promise you what we agreed on is just enough, Rochelle,” Sugar assured, gazing out the window as the car made its slow descent floor by floor towards the parking garage’s exit.

Rochelle ranted, “I can’t believe that motherfucker had the nerve to imply that I was an incompetent lawyer. I have my own practice with my husband and my sister-in-law and business is banging. Plus, we have a very high rate of successful cases.”

Sugar sighed, “He was just trying to get under your skin, Roc, but what he thinks doesn’t matter. You defended me wonderfully and helped me get exactly what I wanted.”

Her sister’s face softened a tad, but her stubborn displeasure etched across her face still spoke volumes.

“So, what are you going to do with eighty-eight thousand dollars,” Rochelle questioned as she eased the car to a halt beside an electronic toll collection machine. She pulled down her sun visor to retrieve a white square ticket to insert into the machine.

“I have an idea,” Sugar admitted. “I’ve had it for years and years. Lance shot it down every single time I brought it up. He said I only wanted to do it to take my mind off the miscarriages and give myself something to do instead of being at home.”

As she paid for the parking toll, Rochelle growled, “He’s such a fucking asshole.”

Once the toll was paid, the bar gate slowly lifted and Rochelle peeled out of the parking garage without hesitation.

“Everyone is going to be pissed,” Rochelle said, shaking her head.

“They’ll live,” Sugar returned. “The settlement was my decision, so they and you need to accept that. For the first time in my life, I’m doing something for my happiness.”

Rochelle glanced over at her and sighed heavily in defeat.

“Fine,” Rochelle paused, “so tell me about this idea of yours.”

A smile curled onto Sugar’s lips. “Yeah?”

“Mm hm,” Rochelle nodded. “I need something to chase away murderous thoughts.”

Sugar laughed for a moment and rolled her eyes at her sister’s words.

“Turn here,” she directed, pointing at an approaching right corner. The car turned as instructed. Sugar then gave her sister a set of directions that sent the car cruising through the busy streets of downtown.

“Pull into that parking lot right there,” Sugar commanded, pointing to a parking lot in disrepair situated on a block corner. The parking lot housed a three-story red brick building that shared an alleyway with a sports bar.

“This is it,” Sugar presented excitedly.

Rochelle scrunched her face in confusion. “What am I looking at, Shug?”

“You’re looking at Sugar Mama, premier downtown restaurant of desserts, wines, and cocktails,” Sugar said, a wide smile on her face. “What do you think?”

Rochelle blinked at her. “You…want to open a restaurant…by yourself?”

“Yes, I want to open a restaurant. Everyone loves my desserts. I have a bachelors and masters in business, so I know what it takes to run a business. For the last eleven months, I’ve developed a sound business plan that I can take to the bank for a loan, but I wanted to bring something to the table to ensure their cooperation. Plus, Mallory is helping me with—“

Rochelle snorted a laugh. “Mallory? You have Mallory helping you? Mister Bartender who can’t hold down a job and picks up chicks at the bar counter he’s working by giving them free drinks?”

Sugar exhaled deeply through her nostrils, slightly irritated by her sister’s brush-off. “Look, Mallory might not seem like an ideal business partner, but he makes some amazing signature drinks that go well with my desserts. Plus, he spent four years at that four-star steak restaurant as a wine connoisseur.”

“Yeah before he got fired for sleeping with the owner’s daughter in the men’s restroom,” Rochelle said. “I love our little brother, but come on! Lory has no self-control or business sense to help you with anything.”

Sugar frowned. “He’s good at what he does. I’m good at what I do. We work well together. He’s helping me bring my dream to life. He wholeheartedly supports it all the while you’re looking at me like I’m crazy. So, are you going to support me or are you going to side with Lance? Are you going to tell me that Sugar Mama is a ludicrous fantasy? Which side are you on, Rochelle?”

Rochelle looked through the windshield to carefully eye the brick building that stood tall, but no doubt needed much love, sweat, blood, and work. She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose as if she were surrendering herself to the reality of it all.

“I’m on your side,” she said, “as long as you and Lory name a cocktail after me.”

“We’ll call it the Angry Bitch,” Sugar said teasingly.

They exchanged looks before they burst into a fit of laughter.

After the two sisters settled down, they gazed at the building.

The building was going to house her dream and nothing was going to stop her. Her heart raced in excitement at the prospect. Sugar was a free woman free to follow her dreams without protest. She, no longer, had to put her marriage before herself. She was going to pour every single penny that she had into this restaurant. All eighty-eight thousand dollars. She was going pour everything she had into this. Her blood, sweat, tears, and love. She was going to slave in her kitchen to produce the most delicious desserts. She was going to painstakingly plan and perfect every single detail.

She was ready and capable to climb this monumental responsibility to reach a sweeter promise land on the other side. Deep down, she knew she was capable of so much more than the doting housewife who walked one step behind her husband.

The only commitment she would subject herself to revolved around bringing this dream was life.

The only love she could give was this dream—this glittery promise of a better future.

 

End Notes:

Feedback is greatly appreciated! 

I will always include my pinterest board in the end notes section for easy access. 

Pinterest Board: Sugar Mama by Missus James

 

Unsweet Beginnings by Missus James
Author's Notes:

Night of April 18, 2017

Eleven months later...

Music Mood: Needed Me by Rihanna

Sugar Wallace was parked at her messy office desk, inspecting a draft menu as she gingerly chewed on her red pen’s end. She had been at it for nearly two hours now and the paper was marked to high heavens with strikeouts, carets, and sloppily scribed fresh ideas and corrections. What once had been a dull pressure at the front of her skull was now a throbbing headache from concentration. She sighed heavily in frustration and plucked the pen from her teeth, tossing it onto the desk. Leaning back into her office chair, she closed her eyes and breathed deeply through her nostrils as she massaged her temples. She knew owning and managing a restaurant wasn’t an easy task, but some days, she loved her job and other days, she wanted to jump into oncoming traffic.

There was just too much to do, but she nonetheless considered it a blessing.

There was never a slow day at the restaurant and she had enough to do to postpone going on to her empty rental house until three or four in the morning. Her hectic schedule had been the only constant thing in her life for the last five months since the restaurant opened. Before that, it was six months of working hand-in-hand with a construction company to restore the brick building and transform it into the restaurant she dreamed of.

Her office door burst wide and she cracked open her right eye just enough to see who was intruding in her own little hell. She groaned inwardly at the sight of her younger brother, Mallory. He sauntered into the office and plopped down into one of the two chairs stationed in front of her desk. He slumped lazily back in his seat, folding his hands over his stomach.

Sugar peeled back her eyelids, her attention immediately drifting beyond Mallory’s shoulder and to the opened office door he didn’t bother to shut. Down the short hallway, she witnessed an energetic kitchen swarming with her waiting staff and kitchen staff doing their proper jobs in a well-oiled chaos that could only be observed in during the evening rush. Though the sight pleased her through and through, she hated the fact that Mallory didn’t close the door behind him.

He never did.

She winced as a sharp pulse from her headache suddenly struck her like a lightning bolt.

“Why don’t you ever shut the door,” she asked in a defeated tone, arching an eyebrow at him.

Mallory twiddled his thumbs, ignoring her question as he always did. “Is this how it’s always going to be? You cooped up in this office stressing yourself out?”

Sugar frowned and said defensively, “I’m not stressed out.”

Mallory pursed his lips together and gave her an unimpressed knowing look that spoke volumes.

She casted her eyes to the ceiling and corrected herself. “I’m not as stressed as you think.”

“This place is your dream, Sugar. You’re the face of this restaurant that the customers need to see, but every night you’re slaving over that desk,” Mallory said as he untangled his fingers and spread his arms wide. “You should be enjoying yourself. Not stressing yourself out.”

The restaurant was her brain child—the only child she successfully brought into this world. She had nursed the idea for years and years, cradling and feeding it. She watched it grow and grow into something wonderful and grand inside of her mind. A single dream that always managed to bring a hopeful smile to her face at her darkest moments.

After her bitter divorce with her ex-husband Lance, she received a lump settlement of eighty-eight thousand dollars and nothing else. With eighteen years of being the loyal perfect housewife, her family and friends thought the settlement money awarded to her wasn’t enough to justify the blood, sweat, and tears she put into that marriage—into that man. However, Sugar took it without hesitation. It was exactly what she needed to make her dream a reality. She poured every single cent into bringing Sugar Mama to fruition.

Every dessert that each patron tasted was birthed, inked, and concocted by her hands first as delectable experiments. Every selected bottle of wine uncorked and every signature drink sipped was thanks to the genius mind of her annoying yet endearing little brother Mallory, a licensed bartender and wine connoisseur. Their partnership married well sometimes, but they had varying visions when it came to management and menus which was why she was editing a draft menu containing his new alcoholic ‘masterpieces’ as he called them. She wanted to ensure that his new ‘masterpieces’ complimented her desserts well.

Sugar gestured to the paperwork mess on her desk.

“None of this is going to finish itself, Lory. Someone has to do it,” she said, flicking her wrist impatiently. “I give you permission to be the pretty face of Sugar Mama. Go enjoy yourself. Mix and mingle with the customers.”

Mallory grinned confidently, smoothing his hand over his shaved head suavely. “As much as I appreciate your acknowledgement of my pretty face, I’m not a sugar mama. I’m a sugar daddy therefore I would be a terrible marketing tool.”

Sugar snorted out a laugh before she could stop herself. Mallory always thought quite highly himself in the attractiveness department and it didn’t help that women flocked to him which further fueled his ego. Mallory was no doubt eye candy by societal standards, but in her eyes, he was still lanky twelve-year-old scrawny Lory and not tall lean twenty-eight-year-old Mallory. 

“Sugar daddy,” she repeated with a burst of a giggle. “More like Sweet’N Low daddy, don’t you think?”

Mallory’s eyes widened as an artificial offended look swept onto his face. “Damn, Shug. You skipped right over Splenda and went straight for Sweet’N Low? Tell me how you really feel.”

Sugar pointed to the opened office door.

“Lory, go make yourself useful somewhere,” she ordered. “Now.”

Mallory put his hands up in self-defense.

“Alright, alright,” he agreed as he rose from his seat and went to the doorway. He gave her a mock salute on his way out, leaving the door wide open.

She let out a frustrated groan. “Lory, the door!”

Lory looked over his shoulder as he walked down the hallway, shooting her a wink and a smile. She rolled her eyes sharply as she pushed back her office chair and shot up, marching over to the door. She grabbed the knob to close the door, but stopped herself as she stared down the hallway. She hated to admit it, but the world beyond her office seemed a lot more intriguing than studiously editing a draft menu.

Maybe, taking a small break and doing a walkthrough wouldn’t hurt.

Sighing heavily, she exited the office and closed the door. She made her way down the hallway, stepping into the bustling kitchen. Waiters plucked plated desserts from a ‘ready’ table, situating them onto trays to be hoisted above their heads.

Cooks were lined up at their designated stations around the kitchen, preparing and cooking her recipes. She loved the sweet aromas of caramel, chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla that wrapped all around her. Sugar crossed her arms over her chest as she watched in an admirable awe as if she were a stranger on the outside looking in and not the key that made this possible. She took her time wandering about the kitchen, peeking curiously over shoulders and exchanging impressed smiles and praises to her staff as they did their jobs impeccably.

Eventually, she strolled out of the kitchen through swinging double doors and stepped into the server’s station, gazing out into the restaurant. The warm amber lights from a sea of dangling lightbulbs overhead were soft and dim. Six mason jars of various sizes with lit candles hiding within them was the restaurant’s signature centerpiece, providing an intimate atmosphere amongst the seated patrons. A jazz song fluttered the air. The restaurant’s walls were exposed red bricks with framed pictures of her family’s old bakery and her grandparents scattered about.

Customers sipped on their glasses of wine and cocktails. Customers ate forkfuls and spoonfuls of sweet desserts. Customers laughed and smiled and chattered.

Everything was just…perfect.

“I knew you’d come,” Mallory said with a wide grin as he entered the server’s station.

Sugar rolled her eyes. “Shut up, Lory.”

He found a spot beside her and joined her in observing the warm vibrant environment, nodding his head in approval at what he saw.

There was still a surreal sensation that she couldn’t shake as if she feared that this was all nothing but a dream and she would soon wake up to a duller world.

No, this was real.

This was very real.

Sandra, one of Sugar’s waitresses, approached her nervously. “Um, Mrs. Wallace?”

Sugar focused her attention on the pale-skinned brunette, concern splashing onto her face at the girl’s visible anxiousness. “Is something wrong, Sandra?”

“There’s a customer that wants to speak with you,” Sandra said after clearing her throat, glancing over her shoulder into the dining area.

“Is it a complaint,” Sugar asked, arching an eyebrow.

Since opening Sugar Mama, she could proudly say that there had yet to be a customer complaint aside from ones about the lengthy waits to get a table, which was sadly out of her power. However, if it was a genuine complaint about the service or food quality then she would resolve it. Honestly, she had been waiting for something like this. Another real dosage of being a manager and owner.

Sandra shook her head slowly. “Um, no. He said he’s…your ex-husband.”

Sugar blinked in surprise at the waitress’s words. Lance was here?

“I know he’s lost his damn mind coming up in here,” Mallory growled suddenly.

“Mallory, watch your mouth before a customer hears you,” she whispered to him harshly, swatting his shoulder hard.

“You want me to handle this, Shug? He and I can go for broke outside,” Mallory said angrily, but complied with her by lowing his voice.

Sugar scoffed and replied in a sarcastic tone, “Yes, Lory, go beat him up outside so the customers can have some entertainment to go with their cocktails and desserts. Brilliant idea. Now, chill out.”

He pursed his lips. She could see his struggling restraint twitching in his brow, but she knew he wanted to beat the hell out of her ex-husband.

“Thank you,” she said calmly—appreciatively—before she turned her attention back to Sandra. “Where is he?”

Sandra told her where Lance was seated and she left the server’s station, sauntering through the restaurant—her fleshed dream—in search of the man that was supposed to stay in her past. She found him seated at a table near a short platform that contained a grand piano. He wasn’t alone. He was with his wife, Mariah. They were enjoying their desserts and drinking white wine.

“What a surprise,” Sugar said as politely as she could.

Lance had been in mid-gulp of enjoying his wine when she arrived at their table. After he finally swallowed, he placed the wine glass back onto the table with a wide smile.

“It’s good to see you, Sugar,” he greeted, his eyes running shamelessly down the landscape of her body. “Really good.”

The heated look in his eyes caught her off-guard, causing her brows to scrunch briefly in bewilderment. Immediately, her eyes cut to Mariah who eyed her viciously as she slid a forkful of strawberry cheesecake with chocolate drizzles into her pouty mouth.

“I wish,” Sugar cleared her throat uncomfortably, “I could say the same. To what do I owe the honors?”

“A night out on the town. It’s been a long time since we’ve had some time to ourselves,” he said. “We thought this was the perfect place for a date.”

Their son was almost eight months old now. It was a detail that she hated that she knew.

“Must be very difficult being new parents,” Sugar returned.

Mariah—wanting to be a part of the conversation—interjected dramatically, “Extremely, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. There’s just something about being a mother. It is the most important job any woman could ever have.”

The young woman smiled sweetly as she added, “Well, for those who are capable of having children anyway.”

The statement was meant to be a sharp jab at Sugar’s painful history of infertility that Lance no doubt filled her in on, but Sugar refused to give Mariah some form of sick satisfaction the girl was seeking. She reacted by smiling kindly at the girl, but the smile never reached her eyes.

Sugar examined Mariah momentarily. Her brown skin was glowing and flawless in the moody amber lighting of the restaurant. She wore her hair in a high long ponytail that was perfect for wrapping it into a fistful and yanking Mariah roughly onto the floor for a swift kick to the face. If she kicked hard enough, maybe blood could stain her expensive cream-colored cocktail dress Mariah wore.

“Well, this restaurant is my baby,” Sugar said, “and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, I’m sorry to cut this reunion short, but I have other important matters to tend to…”

As she turned to leave, she heard him say, “Technically, this restaurant is mine and yours, don’t you think? I gave you the seed you needed to bring this to life.”

Sugar froze as his words collided into her like a runaway train hitting a brick wall. She blinked as she processed what she just heard him say.

Lance brought his wine glass to his lips once more, his eyes never leaving Sugar.

Of course, he wanted some type of credit or recognition after all her hardworking. He wouldn’t have been him if he didn’t try. For eighteen years, he swatted away the concept of Sugar Mama off like it was a pestering fly every time she brought it up. Now, that it was alive and thriving, he wanted to pretend he was the reason for her success.

She earned that money from that settlement.

She suffered and sacrificed day in and day out for eighteen years for that money. Her reward was long overdue. When she was a nineteen-year-old newlywed, she dropped out of college and worked multiple jobs to put him through college and support them. She did that for five grueling years. She kept food on the table and made sure it was cooked for him. In-between the shifts, she kept that tiny apartment spotless. She was his study buddy and his tutor. She had her first pregnancy at the ripe age of twenty years old, but miscarried in her first trimester because she wouldn’t slow down. She didn’t have time to mourn or cry. She had to continue working herself to death for the sake of their survival—for a promised future where she could take it easy and ripe the benefits of her hard work.

The promise was nothing more than a lie. She had never been blind to the falsehood, but once upon a time, she accepted it note for note for the sake of her sanity—for her love for him.  

Sugar stubbornly held his gaze that reflected his smug pride.

No, he didn’t make her. She made him. She made him into a successful man, but he was responsible for turning himself into a monster.

Sugar snickered humorlessly, narrowing her eyes. “That’s a big stretch, Lance, and you know it.”

He shrugged with a grin. “I think I should get a plaque dedicated to me or a big framed picture of me on the wall. No, no. I’ve got it,” he said and snapped his fingers as he got a new idea. “You should honor me by creating a drink. I know Lory can come up with something nice that encompasses my personality. Maybe, he can put a mystery ingredient in there too.”

Mariah giggled in approval. “Oh, a mystery ingredient would be perfect. You have such a mysterious air about you, baby.”

Sugar wanted to gag at the girl’s attempt to stroke Lance’s ego, but what made her want to gag even more was that it was working.

“I’m glad you think so,” he said as he took ahold of his new wife’s hand and kissed the back of it. A sickening sensation clenched Sugar’s belly at the display of affection. She hated how he kept his eyes on her while he did as if he were trying to drain out a reaction from her. She needed to get away from them before she threw up in disgust.

“What do you think the mystery ingredient for my drink should be, Shug,” he questioned, cocking his head to the side.

“Spit,” Sugar said coolly.

Mariah’s smile waned, but Lance held his smirk firm.

“What did you just say,” Mariah asked, her voice oozed with a challenge.

Sugar leaned down boldly to the girl’s level, deciding to take her up on that challenge. The fact of the matter was youngsters nowadays were always quick to fight each other, but rarely did they come across an individual who lived by old school rules and it was for the best. They’d be too busy choking on their broken teeth to call 911 or Snapchat a story for help. That guarantee was bright in Sugar’s eyes.

“You heard exactly what I said, sweetheart.”

Mariah’s fierceness shrunk quickly and the fear that rolled off her was rather palpable.

“You’ve always had a sense of humor,” he chuckled, wagging his finger at her as she stood upright again.

She couldn’t deal with this anymore.

“Well, sadly I’m going to have to cut my comedy act short. You see, I have a restaurant to manage and I happen to manage it quite well. Please, feel free to enjoy our desserts and wine and don’t forget to tip your waitress handsomely before you go,” Sugar replied before she swirled on her heels and walked away.

She marched her way back to her office and slammed the door shut before she plopped down into her office chair. The door swung wide open and Mallory barged into the office.

Sugar tilted her head back and groaned. “Mallory, close the door!”

He ignored her as per usual. “I can’t believe that fool had the nerve to sashay up in here with his little wh—“

“Don’t,” Sugar interrupted swiftly, shaking her head. “Don’t call her that, Lory.”

Mallory sucked his teeth. “That’s what she is, Shug! Why are you defending her?”

“I’m not defending her,” Sugar shot back. “I just don’t need my employees to hear you call someone out of their name. I don’t care if she is one or not. Now, I need you to go out there and make sure everything runs smoothly while I get back to work on this menu.”

He clenched his jaw tightly and shook his head, but followed her directions nonetheless, leaving the room without protest. He closed the door behind him, sealing her into the tomb of her office. Not wanting her mind to linger or wander on the fresh events with her ex-husband and his new wife, she picked up her red pen and did what she did best.

 Work, work, work. 

 

End Notes:

Here is the second update for the night. I hope you enjoy this latest installment of Sugar Mama. Feedback is greatly appreciated. Off to write another update. ;) 

Pinterest Board: Sugar Mama by Missus James

Bitter Treasure by Missus James
Author's Notes:

Early morning of April 19, 2017

Sugar witnesses something that will change her life forever.

Music Mood: Lacrimosa by Mozart

It was nearly two when the last of her staff finished closing up the restaurant. The tables were spotless. The mason-jarred candles were blown out. The floors were swept and mopped. The kitchen was pristine. The cash registers were closed and balanced. The ocean of dangling lightbulbs overhead slept. All cash earnings were securely locked away in the safe in her office. In a steady trickle, her staff trailed through the lobby and out the entrance door. Sugar stood in front of the lobby desk, exchanging smiles, brief pockets of conversation, and goodbyes with them. It was a ritual that she loved to do because she continuously established small connections with her staff that were steadily transforming into strong partnerships. In these moments, she learned so much about their lives outside of this business that was her life. It gave her a glimpse of an outside world she saw very little of.

After the last employee filed out of the building, Sugar locked the entrance door with her set of master keys and watched through the glass door as her staff climbed into their cars. Others were already in their cars driving off. While a few walked across the parking lot and onto the sidewalk, disappearing out of sight in different directions as they made their journey home on foot.

Sighing tiredly, Sugar turned on her heels and sauntered into the dining area. The soft moonlight bleed through the floor-to-ceiling storefront windows, casting a beautifully strange bluish glow that mingled well with the shadows. The sound of her high heels clicking against the floor filled the still cool air as she walked over to the grand piano.

She stepped onto the short platform and eased herself onto the leather-quilted piano bench. Her fingers lightly grazed the black and white keys. Since the opening of the restaurant, she had overhead a few conversations between her employees about the piano. Some considered it a waste of space. Others thought it to be a fancy decoration and nothing more. She considered their theories logical as the musical instrument sat empty and unused during hours of operation, but the piano was put to good use when Sugar was left to her own devices.

At the ripe age of four, Sugar’s grandmother Sally-Ann, a piano teacher and church pianist, instructed her in the musical art because of her obsessive interest in the instrument. The four-year-old girl loved tapping on the keys and listening to each unique sound that streamed from the piano as a result. Soon her youth imagination took over and she became a seasoned pianist like her grandmother, confidently playing her own musical pieces that were nothing more than sharp sour piano notes stringed together that made everyone cringe.

Finally, Papa George had enough of it and demanded his wife to “teach the child the proper way before she made enough noise to raise the dead”. Sugar was a quick learner and became quite the prodigy as the years carried on. By ten years old, she fluently mastered the musical compositions of Beethoven, Liszt, Paganini, Mozart, and Bach with an emotional precision. Her love for the piano never waned, but as she grew older, she realized that playing the piano wouldn’t secure a future for her. So, she quietly tucked that passion away in her heart and sometimes let it out to breath when she was faced alone with a piano.

She straightened her back and positioned her fingers where they needed to be. Closing her eyes, her fingers impressed upon the black and white keys in a slow mournful progression as she performed Lacrimosa by Mozart. She lost herself into the melody, surrendering to the potent concoction of emotions that brewed deep inside her. Feelings she had bottled up inside of her.

Anger, bitterness, guilt, sadness, loneliness, and regret.

Even though she had overcome mountainous obstacles and now lived successfully as a restaurant entrepreneur, she was only human when it came to dwelling in the past. It was a terrible habit she couldn’t rid herself of. She knew she had did a good job of moving on after her divorce, but she couldn’t not think about those eighteen years of marriage. She couldn’t not ponder and wonder of alternate realities where everything was different, but in the end, she always came to the same conclusion: this current reality was the best thing that could have ever happened to her.

And yet…she felt like there was something missing in her brimful life.

A familiar ringtone sliced through the air, abruptly interrupting her lonely recital and ripping her away from her thoughts. She stood up from the piano bench and stepped off the platform, journeying through the dining area and into the lobby where her cell rested on the lobby desk’s surface.

She picked up the device and accepted the call, leaning her back against the high desk while she used her spare hand to pinch the bridge of her nose.

“You still at that restaurant, ain’t you,” her twin brother Sullivan interrogated in an irritated tone.

“Well, hello to you too, Sully,” she greeted.  

“And I bet you there all by yourself too,” Sullivan continued without missing a beat.

Sugar sighed, “So what if I am? I don’t see the problem in it.”

Sullivan sucked his teeth. “You being there alone in that restaurant at some two in the morning is dangerous, Shug. How many times I’ve got to tell you that?”

It was no surprise that Sullivan was overtly protective of her. Sugar was used to it. He was the oldest of the two by four minutes and thirty-seven seconds therefore he took his big brother role very seriously. Their special bond as twins only intensified his need to keep her safe from harm. There were plenty of childhood stories and memories about Sullivan’s defensive nature when it came to her. No one messed around with Sugar because they knew they would have to deal with her twin brother’s wrath. Even Rochelle, Odette, and Mallory knew better than to play pranks or argue when they were growing up.

“Sully, I stay this late every single day and I have yet to have a problem,” Sugar said.

“I’ve got a problem with everything you just said. Some fool could be out in the shadows watching you, identifying your patterns and habits. Waiting for the perfect moment to strike,” Sullivan replied. “You’re a very attractive woman, Shug. That’s a good enough reason for some sick bastard out there.”

Sugar assured, “I’ve got pepper spray on my keychain and that defensive cat keychain you gave me to protect myself. I always check my surroundings when I lock up the building and go to my car. I can handle myself, Sully.”

There was a moment of silence.

Sullivan finally stated, “From now on, I’ll be at that restaurant right at closing to hurry you along so you can go home and sleep safely.”

She gaped at her twin brother’s promise.

“Are you being serious right now,” Sugar asked in shock.

“The hell you say,” Katrina, Sugar’s sister-in-law, stated tiredly from nearby.

“Go back to sleep, Kat,” Sullivan ordered.

Katrina huffed, “How can I go back to sleep when you’re bickering on the phone?”

“You want me to leave the room then?”

“What I want you to do is leave your sister alone,” Katrina retorted. “She don’t need or want you as a chaperone. She’s a grown woman. If she needs you then she’ll tell you. Now, hang up the phone.”

Katrina’s rant brought a smile to Sugar’s lips. She knew that she could always count on her sister-in-law to knock some sense her twin brother’s hard head.

“We’ll talk about this later,” Sullivan said stubbornly to Sugar.

“Didn't I just tell you to leave your si—“

Katrina’s sentence was cut short as the call ended by Sullivan’s doing.

Sugar shook her head slowly as she pulled the cell away from her ear. She knew her brother would try to make good on his word regardless of her or his wife’s protests.

Deciding it was time to go home, she returned to her office to retrieve her purse before she journeyed back into the lobby. She unlocked the entrance door to leave the restaurant and stepped out into the warm April night air. As she locked the door, a spike of fear leapt inside of her as a speeding car suddenly came to a screeching halt at the curb in front of the parking lot. She swirled on her heels quickly, fumbling with her collection of keys. Her heart throbbed deep and hard inside of her chest as she watched a series of events unfold before her very eyes.

A passenger door swung open and a big dark lump was pushed out of the vehicle unforgivingly.  The lump landed on the sidewalk with a thud and the car door slammed shut. The vehicle accelerated away, made a wobbly U-turn as the driver was losing control of the car, and turned a sharp right at a corner.

Sugar squinted her eyes as she tried to make out what was lying on the sidewalk across the parking lot. Then the mass attempted to lift itself up and failed, plopping back to the sidewalk. Her eyes widened as she finally realized that the lump was, in fact, a person.

“Oh my god,” she gasped loudly.

Without hesitation, she scuttled as best she could across the parking lot. A difficult feat in four-inch pumps.

“Sir, ma’am, are you badly hurt,” she asked frantically as she came quickly towards the body.

The body flipped itself over onto its back with a low pained grunt.

It was a man—a beaten man.

The moonlight from above allowed her to properly assess his bodily damage. His bloodied nose was busted with a fresh slit glistening and dribbling with blood. His left eye was badly bruised and swollen. There was a terrible bruise on his right cheek.

“It looks worse than it actually is,” he said in a grumbly tone but an edge of humor to his words that caught her off-guard.

“Let me call an ambulance,” Sugar replied anxiously as she reached into her purse for her phone, but froze when she heard his voice again.

“No,” he said in a strained tone, shaking his head slowly as he managed to get himself off the ground. It was a torturously slow struggle as he picked himself up. She wanted to help him, but he seemed like the kind of man who fought his own battles and she didn’t want to interfere with that.

His heavily tattooed arm curled around his torso as he leaned over in pain. The man assured, “No need for that.”

“But you’re injured,” Sugar said, concern oozing from her words. “You should really get some help.”

“I’ll be fine,” he stated as he lifted his head up to gaze at her, his eyes nailing her to the spot while a smile spread across his busted lips. “Truly, sugar.”

Sugar lost her ability to speak as the man smiled at her; as the man called her a term of endearment without knowing it was actually her name. His accent was baritone and deep southern fried, but she could tell he wasn’t from these parts. Regardless, her name sounded damn good coming from his mouth. A tingly warmth vibrated through her body from it.

“Um, I can’t just let you walk off without at least, offering you some ice or something. My conscious won’t allow it,” Sugar finally spoke, pointing to her restaurant. “My restaurant is right there, so you don’t have to go too far.”

“I appreciate the offer, bu—“

Sugar swiftly interrupted him. “I wasn’t giving an option.”

A expression mixed between surprise and intrigue splashed onto his features. He arched an eyebrow at her for a moment before his close-mouthed smile widening just a little more. “Ma’am, yes, ma’am.”

“Good,” she replied firmly with a nod as she went to him and grabbed ahold of his other tattooed arm, draping it across her shoulder. She aided him carefully across the parking lot and towards the entrance door.

Along the way, he said, “You’re goin’ to get my blood on your dress.”

She was wearing a knee-length deep red wine-hued dress with broad straps and a V-neckline. Four-inch silvery pumps adored her feet, which matched the silver belt around her waist. Her long hair was braided into a bun at the back of her head.

“A perfect excuse to buy another dress,” she returned playfully.

He chuckled.

When they reached the entrance door, she used her keys to unlock it and led him inside. She guided him through the lobby and into the dining area, helping him move towards the closest table. She turned on a light switch along the way, bringing the overhead lightbulbs to life.

“I’ll be right back,” she said—once he was seated—before she made her way into the kitchen and turned on the light switch. A painfully bright light flooded the sterile room. She winced at the light, her eyes adjusting to the harshness while she traveled around the kitchen gathering various things to help the man. She found a clean kitchen towel and dampened it at a sink. She found a resealable plastic bag and scooped ice into it. She also retrieved a first aid kit from the kitchen.

Returning to him, she handed him the bag of ice before she placed the first aid kit onto the table.

“Thanks,” he replied with a nod and immediately placed it to his ribs.

She draped her fingers in the wettened towel and arched an eyebrow. “Do you mind if I clean your face?”

He arched an eyebrow right back, grinning. “I thought you were calling the shots, sugar.”

“I guess you’re right,” she agreed with a subtle smile as she closed in on him.

She used her index finger from her spare hand and rested it underneath his salt-and-pepper bearded chin, navigating his head to angle upward so she could get a better look at his face. The grayest eyes bored into her brown ones boldly. The tiny laugh lines at the corners of his eyes crinkling a little as a telltale sign that he found this unfolding situation rather amusing.

Sugar cleared her throat nervously and focused her attention on cleaning the gash on his nose. With her fingers trapped inside the towel, she gently dabbed and wiped at the bleeding cut.

“Do you have any bloodborne diseases that I should know about,” she asked a little too late.

“No,” he said truthfully, “just hot-blooded.”

“Indeed,” she muttered under her breath, but luckily, he didn’t hear or maybe he pretended not to. Even banged up, she could tell the man was hot-blooded and just plain hot. The latter being a fact that made it rather difficult for her to concentrate.

“You know,” she cleared her throat, “you’re faring quite well for someone who looks like they got into a fight with a semi-truck and lost.”

“Well, it’s not every day an old bastard such as myself gets patched up by a beautiful woman,” the man replied, which caused Sugar to snort with laugh.

Sugar shook her head as her laugh faded into light giggles.

“You, sir, are quite the charmer,” she told him with a smile as she continued to clean his face. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a beaten man call me beautiful before.”

“There’s a first time for everythang,” he returned, matching her smile with one of his own. “I can’t deny that I’m a man that enjoys being the first.”

She teased, “That sounds rather selfish.”

“Oh, I’m very selfish,” he guaranteed.

Her heart quickened in pace at the promise while her brain raced with theories as to what his selfishness exactly entailed.

“Are you,” he then pondered curiously.

Sugar blinked as his question jerked her from her thoughts. “Hm? Am I what?”

“Are you selfish?”

She laughed a little and shook her head.

“Not even a little,” he probed.

She shook her head once more, adding, “Hate to break it to you, but I’m little miss goody two-shoes.”

There was a moment of silence that drifted between them.

“Soon or later, you’ve got to take off those shoes, you know,” he replied.

Now finished with cleaning up his face, she opened the first aid kit and got a bandaid for his nose.

“Maybe, I don’t want to take off my shoes,” she said as she peeled off the thin protective paper from the bandaid and crumpled it into a ball before she placed it on the table. She carefully put the bandaid across the open cut on the bridge of his nose.

“You don’t want to or you’re too scared to?”

Sugar froze for a moment as the weight of his question hit her hard. It was too intimate and her answer would be too telling for a stranger.

She cleared her throat.

“I’m done,” she said as she took a step back, feeling uncomfortable in her own skin.

He eyed her carefully, but didn’t probe or push the matter any further, which she was thankful for.

“I’ll call for a cab,” she offered as she reached for her cell.

There was a local taxi service she had a bit of a partnership with. She recommended their business to her patrons tipsy and drunk from the wine and cocktails, which was rather often. In return, the taxi service allowed her to put an ad atop of a few of their cabs. It was a win-win situation for both and worked flawlessly in practice.

“It’s alright,” he replied as he rose from his spot, wincing as he did it.

He still had the bag of ice against his ribs. She was curious and worried about what damage lied underneath his shirt. She wanted to lift his shirt up to see what was he hiding (was it bruises, wounds, or tattoos?), but she decided that it wasn’t her place to.

“Thanks for showin’ an old bastard like me some kindness,” he said.

She smiled weakly. “It was no problem at all.”

“But be careful who you show kindness to though,” he said, “because they just might keep comin’ back for more.”

Her breath hitched in her throat at his words.

“I’ll keep that…in mind,” she replied.

His gray eyes scanned her studiously from head to toe as he was purposefully committing every inch of her to his memory.

“I won’t be a bother to you any longer,” he stated as he turned to leave.

It took every ounce of her strength to keep herself from saying something else to him. She stood still like a statue as he walked towards the lobby with a modest limp and out the entrance door.

Sugar exhaled a breath she didn’t know she was holding in and sat down at the table with a racing heart and jittery nerves, a familiar feeling she hadn’t felt in a very long time.

“What in the hell was that,” she asked herself.

Her cell then chirped and vibrated on the table as she received an incoming text message. She bit down onto her bottom lip as she grabbed the device and looked at the received message.

She groaned inwardly and rolled her eyes.

Sully: ur ass better b home. >:{

 

End Notes:

Sugar meets Chef and lets him walk away, but he knows exactly where she is. The question when he will come back?

Feedback is greatly appreciated! Have a wonderful Friday!

Also, a photo of Sullivan's wife to the pinterest board has been added. ;)

Pinterest Board: Sugar Mama by Missus James

 

Sour Sisters by Missus James
Author's Notes:

April 25, 2017

Sugar sends some sweet quality time with her sisters, but it turns sour.

Music Mood: Hard Time by Seinabo Sey

“You really need a man, Shug,” Odette Kyle, the youngest Hartwell daughter, stated as she snuggled her back into the cushiony leather of the pedicure spa chair and surfed Facebook on her cell. Rochelle was resting in a pedicure spa chair to her left and Sugar was lounging on the one to the right. They were visiting their regular nail shop, Nailed It, that was conveniently in a central location for the sisters to leave their jobs for a bi-weekly pedi-medi treatment.

Rochelle’s practice was in an office building in the north area of downtown. Odette, a curator, worked an art gallery that was along the eastern outskirts of downtown. Sugar’s restaurant was situated towards the westside, but it was four blocks away from the nail shop. Sugar was half-tempted to walk back to the restaurant with dripping wet feet to avoid this conversation.

Rochelle nodded in agreement. “I second that notion.”

Sugar’s eyelids slid shut, sighing, “We’ve already gone over this. I’m—”

Celibate,” they interrupted, speaking in eerie unison. Odette and Rochelle exchanged glances with a sharp roll of their eyes.

It was a life choice she had exercised for nearly five years. At first, it wasn’t by choice. The last time her ex-husband touched her, she had gotten pregnant for the fourth time during their eighteen-year marriage. It was the longest pregnancy she had successful endured until towards the end when she noticed the baby stopped kicking and she immediately went to the hospital. Their monitoring machines couldn’t detect a heartbeat and the doctors decided to induce labor. She gave birth to a stillborn son and Lance lost all interest in being with her in that after that.

Plus, the timeline of when Mariah became his sidechick lined up quite perfectly and their extramarital affair lasted for three years. Then one night Lance finally admitted to having the affair after months of suspicion and demanded a divorce in the same breath. That brutal year of divorce court battles was difficult for Sugar. Everyone encouraged her to go out and date, but she didn’t have the heart to do it. Not out of loyalty for Lance who was still her husband, but because she couldn’t bring herself to give her heart to another and hope they’d do right by her.

After the divorce was final, she had spent the last eleven months consuming herself with the construction, opening, and managing of Sugar Mama. There was literally no time in her schedule to even glance at someone of the opposite sex in a way other than familial love or professionalism.

Well, not exactly…

Her mind often wandered back to that night six days ago revolving around a battered heavily tattooed man with gray eyes, but she always reeled herself back to reality by presenting herself with cold hard facts. How she found him—how she met him—was nothing short of a promise for trouble.

He looked like trouble in the flesh.

She didn’t need anyone like that in her life.

“I think this whole celibacy thing is a little too much,” Odette admitted.

“It’s actually rather easy,” Sugar assured. “Now, could we just relax and enj—“ 

Rochelle interjected, “When’s the last time you had a man?”

"What kind of question is that, Roc? I had a man for eighteen years,” Sugar replied with a frown. “You know that.”

Rochelle shook her head.

“Uh-uh, sweetheart. I mean ‘had a man had a man’,” she clarified, her hips thrust upward and she whipped the air dirtily. Sugar’s eyes bulged at the vulgar display and Odette giggled wildly.

Odette leaned over to Sugar and elucidated further, “She means when was the last time someone knocked the cobwebs out of your pu—“

Sugar interrupted harshly, “I know what she meant, Odette.”

Embarrassment smothered her from all sides at her younger sisters’ off-color behavior in a public place, earning looks from workers and patrons alike. 

“Stop acting so uptight, Sugar,” Odette commanded, swatting her oldest sister’s shoulder. “You always be acting like a nun.”

“I’m not acting uptight. All I’m trying to do is figure out why are you two so interested in my romantic life,” Sugar asked, arching an eyebrow.

“Because you don’t have one,” Odette answered.

“I don’t want one,” Sugar countered. “I’m not going to be made a fool of again by committing myself to someone.”

Rochelle let out a lengthy frustrated groan that left Sugar very confused.

“What,” Sugar queried with a frown.

“Ettie, please help me out because she’s just not understanding,” Rochelle pleaded to Odette.

“My pleasure,” Odette accepted with a nod before turning her attention to Sugar. “Look, Shug. Nobody is talking about you dating someone. We’re talking about you getting some, girl. We’re talking about no-strings-attached meaningless hot fun.”

Meaningless sex?

Sugar wrinkled her nose at the thought. “Thanks but no thanks.”

Odette sighed heavily in defeat, shaking her head before she decided to change the subject. “So, what do you want to do for your 38th birthday?”

Sugar blinked at the question, completely caught off-guard. She had completely forgot that her birthday was a little over a month away. She had been so consumed with running her business that chaotic days blended together so seamlessly that she often forgot what day it was in the week and on occasion she forgot the month. The past few years seemed so long and never-ending and yet it just felt like she was thirty-three years old yesterday and now she was a few weeks away from turning thirty-eight. 

Where had all that time gone?

“I guess a family dinner like we always do,” Sugar said with a shrug.

Rochelle sucked her teeth. “Shug, Mama and Daddy are going on that two-week cruise to the Bahamas around then. Mallory is taking Sullivan out for a boys’ night and we girls are going to take you out for a girl’s night.”

Sugar shook her head vigorously, wagging her index finger in disapproval. “Uh-uh. Oh, no, no, no. The last time we had a girls’ night, we got kicked out of two clubs, nearly caused a massive car-pile up, and almost got arrested for public indecency.”

“That’s my kind of girls’ night,” Odette approved with a laugh, high-fiving a grinning Rochelle.

“We’re having a girls’ night and that’s final, Shug,” Rochelle said firmly, a dare flashing in her eyes to challenge her decree.

Sugar rolled her eyes and exhaled through her nostrils, narrowing her eyes at her sister. “Fine,” she agreed. “Is it just going to be us three?”

“No,” Odette shook her head as she resumed her task of Facebook surfing. “Katrina, Reid, and Helena is coming too.”

Sugar pinched her nose and groaned.

Katrina was a no-nonsense woman, but when there was alcohol involved, she was just as much a wild child as Rochelle and Odette. Reid, Rochelle’s sister-in-law and law firm partner, wasn’t much of a drinker, but she loved chasing after good-looking men at clubs. Helena, Odette’s sister-in-law, was the absolute worst. She drunk heavy, partied hard, and had no self-control around men. She was the ripe age of twenty-three where consequences meant very little. She had a good heart when she was sober, but she was a party animal that acted a bit too wildly for Sugar. Often, the four other women spent a girls’ night chasing Helena down halfway across town because she decided to ride off with a man.

There was nothing wrong with having a girls’ night with women she loved and adored, but over the years, she felt like she couldn’t keep up with the increasingly rowdy meet-ups. The clubs and parties were always ‘lit as fuck’—as Helena called it—but Sugar couldn’t get into it like she should’ve—like they wanted her to. They danced, she sat on the sidelines. They guzzled drinks, she sipped and waited. She was always the designated driver; the responsible one.

She always felt out of place—like she didn’t belong. It was a feeling that she had become accustom to since childhood. Growing up, she buried herself in studies and piano. She, of course, did play and hang out with her younger siblings as the years went on, but there was always a subtle disconnect when they were together. Something that everyone knew, but no one had the guts to acknowledge it.

Sugar and Sullivan were two sides of the coin when it came to their somber natures. Sugar was on the softer end therefore more open and approachable than her twin brother while Sullivan dominated the rougher end with a difficult but protective personality. Their siblings, on the other hand, were more light-hearted and playful therefore the older Hartwell twins’ interactions with their younger sisters and baby brother sometimes resembled oil and water.

“Don’t act like that, Shug. It’s going to be great,” Odette assured, “and I promise to keep Helena in check too.”

Sugar lifted her hands in surrender. “Alright, alright. Let’s do the girls’ night.”

Odette squealed in excitement. “You will not regret this!”

Rochelle smiled. “We’re gonna get you to come out of your shell, girl.”

“I was never in a ‘shell’,” Sugar returned.

Her younger sisters exchanged ‘uh-huh’ glances.

“What,” Sugar asked with a frown. “It’s true.”

“Shug, can I be real with you for a moment,” Rochelle requested.

“Please, do,” Sugar agreed, an anxiousness buzzing through her veins as she awaited her sister’s words.

“You’re a kind of a recluse, Shug,” Rochelle revealed.

Sugar blinked, reeling her head backwards slightly as the weight of Rochelle’s announcement hit her hard—surprised her. “Beg your pardon?”

“I said,” Rochelle stated in a matter-of-factly tone, “you’re a kind of a recluse.”

“If I was a recluse then I wouldn’t be here, Roc,” Sugar replied as a desperate desire to show Rochelle the massive error in her summarized statement of Sugar’s character.

Rochelle shook her head. “You can go out into the world and still be a recluse, Shug. You’ve always found something and dragged it back to your shell to devote yourself to it wholeheartedly—obsessively even. When we were kids, you did it with the piano. Then at nineteen, it was with Lance. You stayed in that shell with him for eighteen years, but you occasionally crawled out of it to let us know you were alive and well. You were so obsessed with being the perfect wife. So much so that you even stayed with that bastard after he be—“

Sugar’s eyes widened in shock at the word Rochelle was about to utter. Was she seriously going to throw that in her face?

“Roc, that’s enough,” Odette interrupted in a swift sharp manner. “Now’s not the time or place.”

Sugar clenched her jaw. “No, she’s on a roll now. Let her finish since she’s got me all figured out.”

“You stayed with that man after he did you wrong time and time again,” Rochelle continued, deciding to rephrase her previous statement for the sake of prying ears. “And now that your marriage is over, your restaurant is your new shell. You barely get any sleep. You work yourself to death.”

“Why is everyone so concerned with how I live my life,” Sugar snapped.

“Because you’re not living it like you should,” Rochelle tossed back. As her older sisters argued, Odette closed her eyes and shook her head knowing that their heated squabble was too far gone for her to have any influence in ending it.

“That’s your opinion, Roc. You say I’m not living it the way I should, but you’re wrong. I am. I love what I do. It makes me happy. If you can’t accept that then that’s your problem,” Sugar said.

For the first time in her life, Sugar was free to do what she pleased without answering to another. She went from living under the authority of her parents to living under the authority of her husband with little room for rebellious freedom. Now, that she was a free woman, her siblings all wanted a say of how she should live her life.

Mallory wanted her to hire someone to manage the restaurant, so she could be “the face” of the restaurant. Sullivan threatened to enforce a curfew upon her if she didn’t get home at a reasonable time. Rochelle and Odette were obsessed with her getting a fuck buddy and partying.

She was nearing the age of thirty-eightand yet, she felt like a child when it came to her siblings meddling in her life. The more she thought about it, the angrier she got.

Rochelle jerked her attention to Odette. “Can you please talk some sense into your sister?”

“Uh-uh,” Odette voiced, shaking her head, “I just wanted to relax and let my feet soak before I get a pedicure, but I can’t ever take you anywhere.”

Rochelle gawked. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me, Roc. Every time we go somewhere, you’re always arguing and interrogating folks like you’re in court. This isn’t court. We’re in a nail salon trying to spend quality time together. You wanna talk about Shug being some sort of recluse and air out all her business for these folks, but she could just as easily spill some tea on you. However, I wanna do the honors today because I’m tired of all this,” Odette replied, pursing her lips. “We all know you don’t walk into a courtroom unprepared. When you land a big case, you’re locked up in your office for months on end. When your caseload is small, you want to dip your fingers into everyone else's cases to keep your behind busy. Yet you too busy to even shoot a simple text message or even like a damn post on Facebook. So, don’t come for Shug’s edges and leave yours unprotected.”

Rochelle rolled her eyes, but said nothing. She leaned back against her spa chair, focusing her eyes ahead to avoid her sisters’ gazes.

Odette gestured her arms wide. “Now, can we get back to sisterly bonding or do ya’ll want to continue this civil war? If so, then let me request another spa chair away from this foolery. So, truce or naw?”

Truce,” Sugar and Rochelle replied stubbornly at the same time.

Eventually, Sugar returned to the restaurant with a fresh French manicure and French pedicure. The early afternoon crowd was impressive but not overwhelming. She strutted into the lobby and said hello with her day shift receptionists, Clara and Darren.

“Oh, Ms. Wallace,” Darren called after her as she walked past.

She winced slightly at her last name. Even after nearly a year of being divorced, she had yet to change her married name back to her maiden name. There were lots of reasonings and excuses as to why that she often pondered in the wee hours of the morning when she couldn’t drift to sleep quite yet. There was laziness. There was busyness. Then there was the fact that she only knew how to be Sugar Wallace, not Sugar Hartwell. However, she was leaning more and more towards changing her last name, but she wasn’t in a hurry.

“Yes, Darren?” She swirled slowly on her heels to face him.

“There was a delivery that came for you. I left it on your desk,” Darren informed.

Sugar blinked in surprise. She wasn’t expecting a delivery.

“Um, thank you,” she nodded with a smile before she strutted into the dining area. She decided to assess customer satisfaction by having brief tableside conversations with the patrons about how they enjoyed the food, drinks, and service. No one had any complaints and that pleased her greatly. Her staff did an amazing job and the smiles on the customers’ faces only further drove that fact. After devoting time to that, she ventured into the kitchen, down the short hallway, and opened the door to her office. She froze in the doorway as she stared at the beautiful floral arrangement of dark pink and light pink peonies housed in a crystal cube vase.

Slowly, she walked into her office and shut the door behind her. She approached the front of her desk and planted her hands against its surface as she leaned down to take an admiring sniff of the fresh flowers. Who in the world would send her these? Her brain scrambled for an answer. She scanned the cluster of flowers for a card and found a sealed envelope in moments, She opened the small envelope and retrieved a card from inside. The written note said:

Your name is quite fitting.

C.

Who in the devil was C?

Her face scrunched together in confusion. As a habit, she flipped the card to its backside in search of a clue. Normally, in these instances there was none, but in her case—in that moment—there was a phone number located on the back. Her heart immediately began to race at the discovery.

Sugar retrieved her cell from her purse and dialed the scribbled seven digits. Her heart throbbed even more violently than before in her chest as she placed the device against her ear and listened to it ring. She sat down in one of the two chairs in front of her desk, jittery with anticipation. She counted the rings and just before the last one, she changed her mind and hung up the phone. She tossed the phone from her hand like it was a hot potato and watched it skid to a halt halfway across her desk.

She had a very strong gut feeling that a man sent her these flowers and she had sworn off all men.

She had told herself this.

She had told her meddling sisters this.

She had told the universe this.

She didn’t need to know who C was nor did she want to deal with him, but she decided to keep the flowers because they were too gorgeous to be thrown away.

“He does have good taste though,” she muttered to herself, cocking her head as she admired the floral arrangement from where she sat.

It was then the phone rang and vibrated due to an incoming call. Fear spiked inside of her for the briefest of moments before she realized that it was Mallory calling. She picked up the phone and answered it.

“What is it this time, Lory?”

“Look, I’m not…going to be…able to…come in tonight,” Mallory announced in between wet noisy kisses. Sugar rolled her eyes sharply before she glued her attention on the ceiling.

She arched an eyebrow and shook her head, curiosity getting the best of her even though she knew her mind would be filled with cringeworthy mental images if he answered truthfully. “Pray tell me why. Are you sick?”

“Well, I am seeing…a nurse as…we speak,” Mallory spoke in between another series moist noisy kisses that made Sugar want to gag. This time around she could hear a giggle in the background, which made Sugar roll her eyes even harder.

“Will you be able to get a doctor’s note?”

“Mm hm,” Mallory hummed, which was followed by a low moan from a woman.

“Bye, Lory,” Sugar huffed in an irritated tone before she ended the call. Before she could even pry the phone from her ear, another call came. Immediately, she answered it thinking it was Mallory, no doubt, trying to explain his case as he always did.

“I don’t want to hear any of your silly excuses. I have a business to run, so every time you chase after fast tails, I’m the one who gets left in the dust. So, excuse me for being so tired of you choosing play over work. I don’t have that luxury. I can’t afford that luxury,” Sugar spouted.

Silence.

“Play isn’t as expensive a luxury as you think.”

Sugar’s eyes widened slowly at the smooth deep southern voice that was very much not her baby brother’s. It alerted her at first as she didn’t know who she was talking to, but it didn’t talk long to figure out who it was. The ‘who’ she was on the phone with was also the same ‘who’ that sent the flowers and the same ‘who’ she cleaned the blood off his face in her empty restaurant at nearly three o’clock in the morning.

“So, you’re C,” she finally spoke, her voice a little shaky.

“So, you remember me then?” She could detect from his tone that he was pleased—charmed even.

“How can I forget? Our introduction was very,” she cleared her throat, “unique.”

“I wish we could’ve met under different circumstances.”

Sugar scoffed. “Actually, the circumstances we met under were perfect because it allowed me to see what kind of person you truly are.”

“And what kind of person do you think I am?”

“Trouble,” she answered. “You get pushed out of a car bloodied and battered. You didn’t want medical attention, which would have probably gotten the police involved. You probably didn’t want that, now did you? I only patched you up to be kind, but don’t mistake my kindness as an open call for a man. I don’t want one. I don’t need one and if I did, it wouldn’t be you. I’ve had more than enough seedy men in my life to know that you’re probably one. So, thanks for the flowers, but no thanks to everything else. Now if you excuse me, Mr. C, I have more important matters attend to.”

“Well, I wouldn’t want to keep you from them,” he said so calmly that it surprised her.

She just insulted him. She literally accused him of being trouble—of being a seedy person—and in return, he spoke to her with such a respectful even-tempered manner. Lance would have exploded. There would have been more than a few men that would have become extremely angry and defensive from her sharp-tongued accusations. However, there was no hint of anger or disappointment in his voice. It was almost as if he had expected her rejection and had accepted that fate well in advance before he even sent the flowers.

If that were the case then why did he even bother?

“Um, thank you for,” she paused, searching for a word as she recovered from being caught off-guard by his composed response.

“Understanding,” she finished, clearing her throat with unease.

Uncomfortable with the concept of saying goodbye, she quickly ended the call. Pulling the phone away from her ear, she stared at it for a long moment as she bit on her lower lip.

That wasn’t what she expected.

That wasn’t what she expected at all.

 

 

End Notes:

Here is another update! I went to a friend's party last night and I was tipsy as all get out, but I had a strike of inspiration and I couldn't wait to get home to write after some dancing and more drinks, of course. I had a great time at the party and writing the beginning of the chapter was great after I got home. 

This chapter was great insight into the sisterly relationships between the Hartwell sisters. Rochelle is the hardheaded arguing type. Sugar is the older shy level-headed sister. Odette is the fun cheery baby sister who is always forced to pick sides. 

And then we have the ending of the chapter where Sugar makes the decision to reject Chef and yet he was rather accepting of it, which confused her so much...

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Feedback is greatly appreciated! :) 

Pinterest Board: Sugar Mama by Missus James

Salty Reunion by Missus James
Author's Notes:

May 26, 2017

Sugar crosses paths with the last person she wants to cross paths with.

Music Mood: Do I Wanna Know? by Arctic Monkeys

"What do you think about this," Georgette Hartwell asked as she plucked a hanger from the clothing rack. The two pieces of scrap that dangled from the hanger were meant to be a bikini, but there wasn't enough fabric in the bikini top to cover an areola and the bottom piece was a pathetic thong. Sugar wrinkled her nose in disgust and made a gagging nose, which sent her mother into a light fit of cackles.

"I'll take that has a no," Georgette questioned teasingly with an infectious smile. 

"You can take that as a heck no, Mama," Sugar replied, a smile of her own easing across her lips.

It was three days until her parents' two-week cruise to the Caribbean with some of her father's retired Marine pals and their wives. They all reconnected on Facebook about five years ago and every year since then they planned a reunion trip together. They had been all over the country. A cabin in Maine. A luxury boathouse in the Florida Keys. A ritzy hotel suite in Las Vegas. A horse ranch retreat in Wyoming. This year was the cruise.

Georgette put the hanger back where she found it before she walked over to another rack and sorted through the outfits there. 

It had become a bit of a tradition for Sugar to accompany her mother on last-minute shopping trips right before the reunion meet-ups. Out of all three daughters, Sugar had a best taste in fashion and giving valuable opinions. She had acquired the talent from being a perfect housewife who had to look presentable at her husband's side always as a requirement imposed by Lance while he climbed further and further up the corporate ladder. Rochelle was about power suits or clingy outfits with no in-between. Odette had a love for trendy bohemian fashion. 

"So, are you excited about your birthday night out with the girls, Maggie," Georgette asked. Maggie was a nickname for Magnolia, Sugar's middle name. Only her mother and the other old heads of the family ever called her Maggie or Magnolia. Her grandparents, aunts, and uncles weren't fond of the name Sugar, but Georgette didn't have a say with the first name, only the middle name. 

The story goes when Sugar's parents were unsure if they were having twin boys or girls. Calvin had always wanted girls and Georgette wanted boys. So, they had come to an agreement that if the twins were boys then Georgette had claim over the first names and Calvin had domain over the middle name. If the twins were girls then Calvin had dibs on the first name. Needless to say, they were thoroughly shocked and surprised to have been blessed with a boy and girl. The baby-naming agreement was still in place. 

Georgette gave her son Sullivan, a family name. Calvin thought his infant daughter was the sweetest little thing that he named her Sugar much to the dismay of both sides of the family.

Now, her thirty-eighth birthday was five days away. The last few weeks had gone by so quickly. It only seemed like yesterday it was April. Now, it was steadily nearing the end of May. Heck, even the one-year anniversary of her divorce was ten days ago—that too only seemed like yesterday—and she celebrated it by going home at seven in the evening, drinking a whole bottle of Moscato and watching a marathon of films were the deceptive villainous husband dies at the end. The night was rather satisfying. A little lonely but satisfying nonetheless. 

Sugar sighed, "I think so."

The more she thought about it, her head swam with a million and one ways it could all go wrong.

"You think so? Doesn't sound like it."

"It's just," Sugar paused as she tried to figure out what she was going to confess, "girl's night gets too wild sometimes."

"Good," Georgette nodded. "You need a little wild fun in your life."

Sugar groaned. "Mama, not you too!"

"Yes, me too," Georgette huffed matter-of-factly. "You need to kick your shoes off, let your hair down, and let loose."

"You’re not supposed to encourage me to get drunk and go partying. You're supposed to steer me on the right path. Lecture me to be responsible and make the right choices."

Georgette snorted a laugh. "Magnolia, you've been doing that on your own for thirty-eight years. I can proudly say I've never had to raise a hand to you once unlike all your other siblings. You never worried me and your father silly with rebellious phases--unlike your younger sisters and brother--because you went from being our baby girl to being a wife. Now, you've paid your dues and it's time for you to throw caution to the wind. As a mature single woman, this is the moment to have the time of your life!"

Sugar sighed, "Then why do I feel like my time has passed?"

"Because you want to feel that way. You want to give yourself an excuse not to have fun."

The moment her mother uttered those words, it was nothing more than further proof that all her siblings were right. She was the thing that was holding her back. 

"Maybe so," Sugar trailed off.

"I know so," Georgette said.

Eventually, they made their way to checkout. Georgette had bought seven different outfits that totaled out to be pretty little penny. Leaving the boutique, Georgette put her sunglasses on.

"You hungry, Magnolia?"

"Starving," Sugar admitted.

"I know this place at the Docks. Your father takes me there all the time. The food is amazing," Georgette said. "Plus, the owner is now a good friend of your father. He's a retired Marine like Calvin, so of course, they'd become friends."

Georgette slid her sunglasses slightly down the bridge of her nose to peer at her daughter over the caramel-hued rims. "And it does help that he's very easy on the eyes too," she purred with a suggestive wink that made Sugar laugh in shock. 

"Mama, you're a married woman!"

Georgette rolled her eyes, flicking her hand dismissively at Sugar. "And? I'm a married woman, but I'm still a woman who appreciates a good-looking man in my presence. It’s not like I'm groping the man or running off with him, Maggie. Nothing wrong with some innocent peeking," Georgette said as they walked towards Georgette's BMW.

Once inside the vehicle, Sugar pulled out her cell from her purse to call the restaurant, but Georgette snatches the device from her hands and tossed it into the backseat. Sugar gawked at her mother's actions. 

Georgette wagged a finger at her. "You promised me you wouldn't call that restaurant, Maggie."

"I just want to make sure," Sugar began, but swallowed her words when her mother nailed her to the spot with a motherly threat flashing bright in her eyes. 

"Lory has everything under control," Georgette said. "This is good for the both of you. You need to take a much-needed break and Lory needs to learn to be more responsible."

Sugar sighed heavily in defeat, biting back the terrible urge to reach into that backseat and call anyway. She felt like a first-time mother leaving her newborn baby for the first. The separation was difficult, especially if you felt like you left your precious bundle of joy with an unreliable family member. Lory was a good manager when he wanted to be, but he played around too much to be taken be seriously at times. He was more of a friend to the staff than a supervisor, which sometimes led to mischief and drama. 

She didn’t want to come back to a restaurant in complete dismay or worse: up in flames.

"Alright, Mama," Sugar sighed in defeat.

A pleased smile plastered across Georgette's lips as she started the ignition, shifted the gears into reverse, and backed out of the parking space. 

Riverside was a quiet side of town nestled by the expansive winding brown-watered river that split the city in two. It was a trendy area with pockets of eclectic shopping strips and Instagram-worthy cafes, pubs, and restaurants. There were gloriously shady parks and playgrounds that dotted the area. Historic Victorian houses and beautiful brick houses were a commonplace. Old towering oak trees with Spanish moss covered every inch of the neighborhoods. 

Sugar always enjoyed driving through the area. It was so tranquil and beautiful on a sunny May afternoon like this.

A bit further north from Riverside were the Docks, which primarily consisted of seafood markets, marinas, warehouses, and a few bars. The difference between the two areas were very stark. Riverside was much friendlier and safer while the Docks catered to a gruffer unsavory sort. Yet her parents loved frequenting there no matter how much Sugar and her siblings complained and begged them not to. Of course, the older couple never listened.

“There it is,” Georgette said with a grin as she pulled into a parking spot at the front of the establishment

Sugar peered through the windshield with an arched eyebrow as she looked at the restaurant. The Salty Marine, with a heavily-borrowed ‘old’ fishing shack appearance, was directly beside the river with a dock of its own. The two women out of the car and Sugar apprehensively followed her mother into the restaurant. It was dimly lit inside with strings of lights weaved into lazy webs overhead. There was a fully loaded bar to the left of them and typical restaurant seating to the right. Far ahead were two pool tables.

The place smelled like beer and fried food.

And it was completely void of patrons.

“Hey, Georgie,” an old man working as the bartender greeted with a cheeky smile as he wiped down the bar counter.

“Hey, Gizzard,” Georgette greeted back chipperly.

Sugar fought the urge to wrinkle her nose at the bartender’s name. Who in the hell would want to be nicknamed that and what did they do to acquire such a name?

“Who you got there with you,” Gizzard questioned as he peered at Sugar, interest as clear as day on his face.

“Gizzard, this is my eldest daughter Sugar,” Georgette introduced, gesturing to her daughter.

He gave a toothy grin. “That’s a mighty big name to live up to. Are you as sweet as your name says?”

“It’s a lifelong pursuit,” Sugar replied, smiling back weakly, “but I’m not quite there yet.”

He chuckled heartily at her answer.

“Is the original Salty Marine here,” Georgette asked, glancing around.

Gizzard nodded his head towards the kitchen’s entrance doors.

“He’s somewhere back there. I’ll let him know you’re here. Honestly, I think he’s got a bit of a crush on you, Georgie. He doesn’t give just anyone free meals and alcohol,” the bartender said in a teasing tone.

Georgette giggled bashfully. “You’re something else, you know that?”

Gizzard winked at Georgette before he began to walk towards the kitchen doors. “You know you love it, darling. Park yourselves at a table and I’ll bring some draft beers your way. On the house.”

“You really know how to spoil a girl, Gizzard,” Georgette said.

“A girl you are not, Georgie. You’re every bit a lady and more,” Gizzard called as he went through the kitchen doors.

“Let’s go get ourselves a seat,” Georgette said before she walked across the room to a booth with Sugar following her closely behind.

Georgette folded her hands on the table. “This place is really something, isn’t it?”

Sugar glanced around unimpressed.

“It’s…something alright,” she cleared her throat.

Georgette pursed her lips together, looking at her daughter in disappointment. “Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s a little rough around the edges, but the people are great and the food is ‘straight outta Louisiana’ good.”  

“I’ll take your word for it, Mama,” Sugar said.

Georgette regarded Sugar from across the table for a lengthy moment and folded her hands on the table like she was a businesswoman about to make a proposition. “Let’s talk about more important matters. You need to get back into the dating game, Magnolia.”

“Why are you, Roc, and Ettie keep nagging me about getting a man,” Sugar questioned, cocking her head to the side. “I don’t need one to make me happy.”

“Look, I know Lance burned you bad, but he was a boy pretending to be a man. You need a good man. A real man. Someone who can treat you like you deserve to be treated and that someone is out there waiting for both your worlds to collide,” Georgette said. “When that happens, you won’t know what hit you.”

Sugar thought about her mother’s words for a moment. “Mama, I really appreciate the advice, but I know what’s best for me.”

Georgette frowned. “You’re getting to be hardheaded, Magnolia.”

Once upon a time, she wasn’t hardheaded and stubborn. She was a submissive push-over that got walked all over like a doormat. Out of the divorce came a hardheaded firm woman with the drive and determination. She wanted to follow her own path, not the ones everyone else in her life was trying to navigate her towards.

“Two draft beers for two lovely ladies,” Gizzard announced with a grin as he approached the table, placing the two mugs filled with amber liquid and topped with crisp white foam. Sugar was more of a wine and cocktail kind of gal, but she immediately picked it up and took a deep sip to give herself something to do. Tucked underneath his arm were two menus that he pulled out and handed them to Georgette and Sugar.

Georgette glanced at the menu for no more than a handful of seconds before she handed it back. “I’ll take my usual.”

Gizzard nodded.

“You got it,” he said before peering over at Sugar. “What would you like, darling?”

“Um,” Sugar hummed as she gazed at the Louisiana cuisine-filled menu. All the options sounded delicious and the item descriptions made her mouth water. “I’ll take the fried catfish with lobster mac and cheese and filthy green beans.”

“You won’t be disappointed. I’ll put both your orders in, but just so you know, I’ve gotta leave for a doctor’s appointment,” he said with a cheeky smile once more

Georgette pouted. “Aw, okay. It was good seeing you, Gizzard.”

“Likewise, Georgie,” Gizzard said with a wink. “Chef should be out here any moment though.”

Then the older man walked away. She and her mother soon slipped into light conversation about the various activities Georgette was going to do on the cruise. 

Then Sugar brought the beer to her lips once more and in mid-gulp heard a very familiar, very smooth southern-accented voice. “You rang for me, Mrs. Hartwell?”

Her widening eyes cut over to the man who approached the table and she immediately choked on her beer in shock. She put the beer mug down coughed a little, clasping a hand to her chest as she struggled through her little hacking fit.

“You alright, Maggie,” Georgette asked in concern.

“Mm hm,” Sugar hummed after her coughing died down, nodding her head vigorously. She reached for her beer again and took another deep gulp as a means to swallow down the bitter taste of shock.

“I tend to have that effect on people,” the man said, which Georgette to laugh.

“Chef, this is my daughter Magnolia,” Georgette introduced, gesturing her hand to Sugar who was still drinking her beer and avoiding his eyes at all costs.

“What a fittin’ name,” Chef replied with a grin. “Magnolias happen to be my favorite flower. My grandparents have countless magnolia trees on their land back home. Spent many a summer day up under them as a boy.”

Georgette smiled warmly at him. “That seems like a real nice childhood.”

“It had its ups and downs, but I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Chef paused, rubbing the back of his neck. “You enjoyin’ that beer?”

Sugar pretended not to hear him.

Maggie,” Georgette trailed off sweetly, but there was an underlying threat masterfully laced in her tone that only an offspring could detect. “Chef asked you a question."

“Hm,” Sugar hummed in an artificial surprise and acted as if she hadn’t heard his question to begin with. She licked her lips and placed the beer mug down onto the table, gathering the courage to direct her eyes up at him. “I’m sorry. I didn’t catch what you said.”

His laugh lines crinkled in the same way it did that fated night she gently cleaned the blood off his face. There was no doubt in her mind that he was amused at this current predicament and she couldn’t for the life of her understand why. After that phone call, they weren’t ever supposed to cross paths again. After all, she rejected his courting attempt and insulted him in the same breath. She shouldn’t have been the only one that felt absolutely uncomfortable about their chanced second meeting.

Did God hate her?

Did she somehow die without realizing it and somehow ended up in her own personal hell?

“I asked if you were enjoyin’ the beer?”

“It’s alright,” she said as she traced her finger around the mug’s rim. “I’m not really a beer gal though.”

He cocked his head to the side, slipping his hands into his front jean pockets. “Might I ask what kind of gal are you then?”

The sexy delivery of that loaded question was not lost to her. His words vibrated through her, a tingly warm spreading across her flesh.

“I like wine and cocktails,” Sugar answered.

“Then I’ll get you something more to your likin’,” he said, putting a rumbly emphasis on the final word in his statement that made her knees weak. He reached down and retrieved her half-empty mug.

Sugar shook her head quickly and grabbed the other side of the mug, but his powerful grip wouldn’t let go of the mug’s handle.

“That’s quite alright,” she assured and gave a little hinting tug for him to let the damned mug ago.

“I insist,” he said, still firm on his grasp. 

Georgette plucked her daughter’s hand from the mug and gave an embarrassed chuckle. “My daughter has a tendency to look a gift horse in the mouth,” she said. “She’ll gladly try whatever you have in mind.”

“Excuse me while I go whip up something special for our Magnolia,” Chef said before he sauntered off.  Sugar couldn’t help but look at his backside as he went. He was wearing a short-sleeved plaid button-down shirt—tucked into his dark jeans—that did his muscular tattooed arms great justice. His shoulders were broad and strong. There was a military tattoo inked on the nape of his neck. Her eyes trailed down to his rear-end and she bit down onto her lower lip as she accidentally admired it.

“Magnolia,” Georgette snapped in a whispery voice.

Sugar jerked her attention to her mother, startled.

“What in the world is your problem? Where are your manners? I know I taught you better than that,” her mother demanded to know, in which Sugar blinked at her and plastered a mock-innocent expression on her face.

“He wouldn’t let the mug go,” Sugar answered defensively.

Georgette narrowed her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. “He was trying to do a nice gesture and you were being extraordinarily rude. Plus, don’t think I didn’t notice you purposely ignoring him when he asked you that question.”

Her mother jabbed a thumb at the bar counter Chef was manning. “I like him. Your father likes him. We both like coming here and we want to keep coming here. You’re not going to disrespect that man in his own restaurant, especially when the drinks and the food are on the house and he has been nothing but kind. Go apologize now, Sugar Magnolia.”

Sugar clenched her jaw and slipped out of the booth, taking a slow funeral march to the bar counter. Chef busied himself with collecting a variety of bottles off the shelves behind him and poured different amounts of liquor into a stainless-steel cocktail shaker before he resealed the object and shook it expertly.

“Something else not to your likin’,” he questioned with a hint of charm, a subtle grin on his lips.

“I’m being forced to apologize to you,” Sugar replied, lowering her annoyed voice to keep her mother from hearing her displeasure.

Chef arched an eyebrow, his small grin widening just a little. He stopped shaking the cocktail shaker and put it down, placing his hands onto the counter and leaning forward slightly—tiptoeing on the invisible border that represented her personal space.

“I’m ready when you are, darlin’.”

That smug motherfucking bastard.

A tight smile of irritation stretched across her lips.

“I’m sorry,” she apologized through clenched teeth.

His grin inched a centimeter more.

“For?” he pressed.

Sugar narrowed her eyes.

“Being…rude,” she forced out the words.

He unscrewed the cap from the cocktail shaker and poured a bright green liquid into a cocktail glass. Then he placed the glass onto the bar counter. “Apology accepted.”

Sugar reluctantly picked it up and brought it to her lips, taking a gingerly sip. Immediately, her eyelids fluttered shut and she bit back a tiny moan as a sweet explosion dominated her tastebuds. The cocktail tasted exactly like a green apple jolly rancher with a smooth underlying burn of a mixture of top-shelf liquor. She took another sip, more appreciative this time around. Opening her eyes, her heart stopped she realized that his gray eyes were pinned on her heatedly.

“Verdict?” He cocked an eyebrow.

“It’s…okay,” she lied, not wanting to give him the satisfaction.

He chuckled softly, shaking his head.

“What’s so funny,” Sugar frowned.

“It must be killin’ you on the inside to want to hate somethin’ but can’t.”

Sugar scoffed. “I meant what I said. My younger brother makes way better cocktails.”

Chef stroked his clean cut salt-and-pepper for a moment, a pondering expression oozed from his face. “Maybe, I should come by to check out the competition. I’ve been known to make a mean cocktail, but if you claim your brother is better, I need to taste it to believe it.”

“I’d rather you didn’t. The one time you were in my restaurant is one time too many,” Sugar countered.

He leaned in a little closer, still skirting the edge of her personal space. “I’m nothing like the villain you’ve painted me out to be inside of your head.”

“Then why did I find you the way I did?”

“Do you truly want to know?”

“I think I deserve that much. I think I deserve to know if the man my parents are friends with is involved in some kind of shady illegal activities,” Sugar stated.

He tossed a crisp white hand towel over his shoulder. “I’ll gladly tell you over dinner tonight.”

Sugar snorted out a laugh before she could stop herself. “Wow, you’re bold. You have the actual nerve to stand there and try to coerce me into a date in exchange a simple explanation to clear my accusations of you.”

“I’m not a villain, but I’m definitely not a saint,” he replied. “I think you’re curious enough to accept my proposition, but I’ll sweeten the deal for the sake of my sanity. It’s a public place. Plenty of witnesses. No funny business. I’ll try to have you back at a reasonable hour.”

Sugar blinked in confusion, still stuck on something he said earlier. “…your sanity?”

“My mind has been running rapid with what-if’s, questions, and demands since you rejected my courting. I want to know what your genuine laughter sounds like. I want to hear your voice when you talk about something you love. I want to take you on a dancefloor just to get a chance to see how you feel in my arms,” he clarified. “There must be some divine intervention at play for us to meet again against all odds and I’m not one to sit around idly when presented with a blessing.”

With every word uttered, her restraint to remain reserved as he spoke chipped away like a glacier. Her jaw slowly gaped open into a perfect O. An intense heat flashed inside of her and she had to steady herself by putting her hand onto a barstool. She recovered as best she could and cleared her throat.

“That’s a tall order from a man that doesn’t have much to bargain with. Plus, it’s going to take a lot more work than sugary sweet talking to get all those things you so desperately want,” Sugar said.

His grin returned twofold. Charming as hell. Sexy as all get out. “The one thing you need to know about me, Sugar, is that I love to work. Being a hard worker is a part of who I am. I keep going and going until the job gets done, but maybe my words don’t do me any justice in this instance. Say yes for tonight and I’ll gladly let you see my work ethic firsthand.”

Her breath hitched a little at his words.

This was too much.

He was too much.

She needed to end this conversation now.

Sugar plucked the cocktail glass from the bar counter.

“Thanks for the drink,” she replied hurriedly before she swirled on her heels and sauntered away as quickly as possible, guzzling down the utterly delicious cocktail to cool herself down.

She could’ve sworn she heard him chuckling lightly behind her.

Now, all she had to do as survive lunch with her mother and him standing nearby.

 

End Notes:

Another chapter! Finally, Sugar and Chef meet again. Fate just won't let her walk away. Sugar wants to know why she found him the way she did and Chef will tell her...on a date. Is Sugar curious enough to want to find out? Stay tune for the next installment. I've added a picture of Gizzard on Pinterest. 

The music I wrote this chapter to is absolutely perfect. It's definitely Chef's song even though the chapter wasn't in his point of view. 

Anyways, have a wonderful Monday evening!

Pinterest Board: Sugar Mama by Missus James

 

Sweet Jasmine by Missus James
Author's Notes:

May 26, 2017

Sugar lets her curiosity get the best of her. 

Mood Music: Say Yes by Floetry

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.

"You came."

"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.  

End Notes:

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

Pinterest Boad: Sugar Mama by Missus James 

Hot Soup by Missus James
Author's Notes:

May 31, 2017

It's Sugar's birthday and she's sick. Someone has to take care of her whether she likes it or not. 

Music Mood: Come Through and Chill 

Odette pulled the thermometer from Sugar’s lips and took a good look at the thin device’s screen. She pouted as she read the temperature and shot Sugar a look of sympathy. Sugar reached up from where she laid amongst her blankets and pillows, yanking the thermometer from her baby sister’s possession and stared at the digits it recorded. She sighed heavily and closed her eyes.

101.8 was her recorded temperature, which made sense because she felt like she was burning up from the inside out and her skin glistened with a fine coat of sweat. Her messy hair kept gluing itself to her face and her silk peach-hued nightie kept sticking to her skin, making her feel even hotter than she already was. Sugar let out a rattling cough that made her lungs hurt while she put the thermometer on her nightstand. She cleared her throat to loosen up the yucky stuff there before she spoke tiredly.

“Well, that’s that then.”

“I can’t believe you got sick on your birthday of all days,” Odette said.

“There’s been a bug going around at the restaurant for a few weeks,” Sugar said, sniffling her stuffy nose hard. “It was only a matter of time before I caught it.”

Odette pouted and crossed her arms over her chest. “Yeah, but it didn’t have to be on your birthday. I’ll call the girls and tell them girls’ night is cancelled.”

“What? No,” Sugar protested in a soft drained voice. “You should all go on without me. Celebrate in my honor. Make a toast or two in my name and don’t forget to take good photos of ya’ll having fun.”

“It doesn’t feel right having a birthday celebration without the birthday girl,” Odette said then her eyes lit up as an idea popped into her head. “Oh, oh! Let’s just bring the party here. We could cozy up in our pajamas, chill out, watch movies, drink hot tea, and slurp down some soup.”

Immediately, a vision popped into Sugar’s head of Helena wearing pajamas and pouring hard liquor from a flask into a cup of hot tea and did what she did best: guzzle it down and party it up.

Sugar groaned in objection and shook her head. “I don’t have the energy to do any of that. I just want to be miserable and sleep.”

“But who is going to take care of you?”

“I’m gonna take care of me,” Sugar assured. “Just because I’m sick doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of taking care of myself. You actually thought Lance stayed at home to make me soup and spoon-feed me cough syrup every time I got a bad cold? Ha!”

Odette sighed. “I just feel really bad leaving you here.”

Sugar reached over to get a soft tissue from a box off her nightstand. She blew into it, sounding like a sick elephant. She sniffled and balled up the tissue, tossing it in the small purple trashcan she had gotten out of her bathroom for that very reason.

“Stop worry about me and go home, so you can get ready. You’ve got about two hours to get ready and you know you’re a slow poke when it comes to getting dressed and beautified,” Sugar demanded in a nasally voice.

Odette leaned down and kissed her on the forehead. “Call me if you need anything, alright?”

“Mm hm,” Sugar hummed, nodding her head. “Now go.”

Odette strolled over to the opened bedroom door and stood there for a moment, giving Sugar once last look of worry—of reluctance.

“Go on, Ettie! Stop acting like I’m on my deathbed,” Sugar said, flicking her wrist at her sister as a gesture to leave.

“I’m being serious, Shug. Call me if you need anything,” Odette replied, wagging a finger at her before leaving the room.

Sugar rested in her bed, listening at her sister’s footsteps and the front door opening and closing at Odette’s departure. She sighed heavily in relief now that her baby sister was gone and snuggled into the softness of her bed. It wasn’t that Sugar didn’t like the visit from her sister because she did, but she never got used to the idea of people worrying about or over her when she was sick. She picked up the remote control and turned on the television fixed to the wall ahead of her.

She flipped through the channels, unable to find anything interesting to watch. When in doubt, she always settled for a food-cooking channel. There was a food contest show on that held some entertainment value as contestants and their teams frantically scrambled around a kitchen to cook three different meals for the judges using the key ingredients of deer, quail, and rabbit.

Eventually, she found herself dozing off to sleep.

She awoke some time later to the piano ringtone, groaning a little in protest. Groggy from sleep and utterly exhausted from her cold, she blindly fished around for her cell as she laid on her side with a pillow over her head. When she found the device, she accepted the call with a swipe of her thumb and put the phone to her ear.

“Hello?” Her stuffy voice oozed with misery.

There was silence from the other end.

“Um, hello?” Then she coughed roughly, gasping for breath after it finally passed.

Once more, silence. As the quiet moments passed, she finally regained her breath.

“Being sick is never good on your birthday.” It was Chef.

She shivered at the sound of his voice or maybe, she had the perfectly-timed chills from her fever. She wasn’t sure anymore.

“How did you know it was my birthday,” she asked. “I never told you that.”

“Your mother just sent me a text message tellin’ me was your birthday with a remainder that you were ‘very much single and ready to mingle’,” he said with slight amusement.

Sugar closed her eyes and let out a groan of embarrassment.

“She’s something else,” she said in a defeated tone.

“I’m startin’ to think she wants us together,” Chef stated.

“She’s hellbent on pairing me off,” Sugar sighed. “She sent me a text message yesterday saying that you and I would look good together as a couple.”

Chef chuckled a little. “We do look good together as a couple.”

“We’re not together as a couple,” Sugar reminded. “Do I need to remind you of my conditions that you agreed upon or should I make things easier for the both of us by saying goodbye and hanging up the phone?”

“I remember your conditions quite well. Uncommitted, adventurous, no heavy emotions, no romance,” he summarized perfectly. “Just no-strings attached fun.”

“So, you do have a good memory,” she said.

“It’s one of my qualities I take pride in,” he replied, “along with my dashing good looks.”

Sugar burst out a giggle which ended with some coughing.

“Mm,” he grunted in approval before questioning, “What else I gonna say to get you to giggle like that again?”

Another shiver passed through her and she bit down on her bottom lip, gulping. “If you like the way I giggled just a few moments ago then you have weird standards. My giggles sounded like they belong to a truck driver who’s smoked cigarettes for thirty years.”

“Then you’re the sexiest cigarette-smoking truck driver I know.”

“And you’re the craziest man I know.”

“Oh, I’m crazy alright. Crazy about y—“

Sugar cut him off quickly, trying to contain her panic. “So, remind me why you’re calling me again?”

“To sing happy birthday to you.”

She bit back a laugh. “So, you’re handsome, you have good memory, and you can sing?”

“Aren’t I a good catch?”

“You would be if I were interested in catching you,” Sugar said, “but I’m not.”

“Yet here I caught in your web,” he replied with a southern smoothness that—without a doubt—sent her feverish temperature climbing up and up.

She cleared her throat. “Well, I’m waiting on that birthday song.”

“How about I sing it to you in person?” The loaded offer was utterly tempting, but her house was a total hot mess and she looked like a total hot mess. She was death warmed over and she preferred to suffer through the symptoms of her terrible cold alone without him as a witness.

“That’s…not a good idea.”

“I’ll throw in a mean bowl of my homemade chicken noodle soup,” he proposed charmingly.

Sugar hadn’t eaten all day. She had been too drained to drag herself out of bed to fix herself something.

She slipped out a small longing moan and said before she could stop herself, “Mm, that would be amazing right now.”

She widened her eyes at her mistake.

Fuck, she then thought in a panic, fuck, fuck fuck!

She wasn’t supposed to say that. She was supposed to kindly reject that offer too, but now that her desire was all-out in the open, it was too late to backpedal now. It was too final to deny, deny, deny and run. He knew the truth, he knew what she wanted, and she knew he was going to do exactly what he promised: give.

“Then it would be my pleasure to oblige,” he said, his seductive emphasis on the word pleasure prompted an ocean of goosebumps across her brown skin. “What’s your address?”

Sugar took a deep breath, an odd mixture of regret and excitement coursing through her system.  

“Now, listen,” she began firmly. “I’ll give you my address, but don’t think it’s an invitation to show up whenever you want to because it’s not. Do you understand?”

“Perfectly,” he replied with slight amusement.

“I’ll text it to you,” she said.

“Ma’am, yes, ma’am,” he returned with a chuckle.

Unsure of what else to say, Sugar ended the call quickly and sent him a text containing her address as promised. Her heart throbbed violently within the prison of her ribcage as her finger typed out every single letter and number needed to send him to her front doorstep. Almost immediately, she received a text message back from him. She had changed his contact name from Do Not Answer to Maybe Answer. A small step in the right direction for a skeptical woman.

Maybe Answer: Thank you. You won’t regret it.

“Too late,” she said softly to herself before she put her cell down and tried to keep herself occupied by watching television again. She found a pay-per-view mystery film and bought it, slowly becoming enthralled in the intense plot and the characters. So much so that she lost track of time about eighty minutes into the film, the sound of her doorbell sliced through the air. Her breath hitched a little in surprise and her heart picked up in tempo.

Chef had arrived.

Sugar then climbed out of bed, wobbly on her feet from the lightheadedness that swam around her stuffy head. Sniffling and coughing along the way, she made a slow trek through her house to the front door. She unlocked the door and opened it sluggishly to reveal the sight of Chef on her doorstep holding a brown paper bag packed with groceries. He wore a dark gray fitted shirt that stretched deliciously across his sculpted chest, torso, and arms. He also wore pitch black jeans with an imposing silvery skull as a buckle from his leather belt.

His gray eyes swept over her from head to toe.

She knew she looked terrible. Her long dark hair was a frizzy mess. Her skin was slick with a light coat of sweat. Her nose was slightly reddened and utterly stuffy. She had puffy dark circles underneath her tired eyes.

His gaze trailed back up the length of her body, settling on her chest. His eyes darkened with an unreadable emotion. Sugar glanced down and immediately remembered that she wasn’t wearing a bra therefore her breasts were free and her nipples—which were apparently very erect—stood out against the fabric of her mid-thigh-length silk nightie. She was too exhausted and sick to react accordingly such as covering herself up.

Instead she stated, “I’m not putting on a bra.”

Chef, in turn, grinned as he moved his eyes back up to her face. “You won’t hear any complaints from me, sweetheart.”

She fought back a smile, moving to the side to allow him inside the house. She closed the door once he was inside and lead him into the kitchen, turning on the light along the way.

“I apologize for the wait. I wasn’t sure what you had, so I did some grocery shoppin’,” he replied as he placed the heavy-looking paper bag on the kitchen counter directly beside the stove. “Got caught up in the evenin’ rush. Long lines. Not enough checkout lanes open.”

“Words won’t do you any good leaving a woman in need waiting,” Sugar said in mildly teasing tone as she stepped up to the counter beside him and peeked inside the brown paper bag to be nosy, “I take the ‘mean’ chicken noodle soup you promised as a proper apology.”

There were spices, fresh vegetables, raw chicken, and much more piled inside the bag. She peered at him, impressed by his selection of ingredients.

“You should go back to bed and rest while I do some dirty work,” he said.

“You’ve only been in my house less than five minutes and you’re already bossing me around,” she chaffed, arching a delicate eyebrow. “What happened to whole ‘you give, I take’ spiel?”

Chef bent his head so his face lingered just above hers as she looked up at him. “I gave you an order and I expect you to take it, so I can take care of you,” he said.

Sugar eased a little closer to him and stared him down with a challenging defiance in her eyes, tapping an index finger against his defined right pectoral. “You promised a birthday song, chicken noodle soup, and nothing more. Nowhere during our phone conversation did you ever mention—nor did I agree—to the idea of you taking care of me. And just to make it clear, I don’t need any one to take care of me.”

“Too bad ‘cause I’m gonna,” he returned.

“What makes you think I’m gonna let you? I could kick you out of my house anytime I want to.”

“You could,” he agreed with a nod, “but you won’t ‘cause deep down you wanna know what it feels like to be taken care of by me. You wanna know how I’m gonna pamper you.”

A bolt of curiosity and arousal struck her hard. She bit down onto her bottom lip hard to keep herself from gasping at his words before she gathered the courage to speak. “Sounds a lot like romance to me,” she breathed, her voice shakier than she wanted.

A slight grin quirked on his lips. “If that’s what you want to call it.”

“It’s not what I want to call it,” she returned. “I don’t want romance. I want—“

“I know exactly what you need,” he cut her off smoothly.

She scoffed. “And what’s that, Chef?”

“To go back to bed and rest,” he paused, the right corner of his mouth lifting a smidgen while those gorgeous damn gray eyes danced with a bold challenge—a promise he wanted to make good on. “Unless, you want me to put you to bed myself.”

Sugar gulped. “You said that so freely that I’m starting to wonder if you put women to bed often.”

“I believe in quality over quantity. I’ve put very few women to bed, but when I did, they enjoyed it immensely,” he replied. “So, what’s it gonna be, Sugar? You gonna go to bed willingly or do you want me to tuck you in myself?”

“I’ll tuck myself into bed,” she informed stubbornly even though every fiber of her screamed in protest at her decision. “Thanks for the offer though.”

“What a shame,” he said. “I was lookin’ real forward to carryin’ you in my arms back to your room.”

“I’m sorry to disappoint,” she returned in mock-sympathy before she mustered up the strength she needed to leave the kitchen without a second glance. She returned to her bedroom and climbed back into her bed, nestling amongst her blankets and pillows to get comfortable but she was everything but comfortable. Over the volume of her television, she heard opening and closing cabinets and drawers, clattering of pots and pans, running water from the kitchen faucet, and orchestra of noises as he familiarized himself with her kitchen to begin cooking. Eventually, a mouthwatering aroma filled her entire house, which made her stomach grumble and groan in want.

After some time, she heard footsteps come down the hallway and pretended to show interest in the soap opera masquerading as a reality show about a luxury yacht crew. She nodded her head as she focused her attention intensely on two crewmembers arguing over incomplete chores, but from the corner of her eye, she saw Chef appear in her doorway. A green bowl with a spoon inside of it was in his possession.

“Dinner is served,” he announced as he entered the bedroom, sauntering over to her.

Sugar finally turned her attention to him, blinking her eyes as if she just noticed that he was there. She had a coughing fit and cleared her throat, patting her throat. She sat up against her pillows and took the offered bowl from him.

“Thank you,” she said as she looked down into the bowl, licking her lips at the sight of chopped egg noodles, vegetables, chicken chunks, and spices swimming merrily in a delicious broth. She took a spoonful into her mouth and closed her eyes, moaning aloud in contentment. Immediately after, she had another spoonful. This truly was a mean bowl of chicken noodle spoon with every single sip and chew. Bit by bit, she felt better like the soup was causing her terrible cold to recede centimeter by centimeter like a glacier to a warming climate. Her throat wasn’t as sore. Her nose wasn’t as stuffy. The itching urge at the back of her throat to cough was dull. Chef watched her as he stood at her bedside. His arms crossed over his chest.

“Verdict?”

“It’s,” Sugar paused, “alright.”

He chuckled, shaking his head. “Why is it always hard gettin’ a compliment outta you?”

“Why are you trying to fish for a compliment?”

“I need to know the things you like so I can keep givin’ them to you,” he said. “That’s my only goal, honey.”

Sugar brought another delicious spoonful to her lips and ate it as she contemplated his words, feeling guilty for giving him a hard time. “It’s very delicious,” she then said genuinely. “Compliments to the chef. It’s so good that if you had a ‘kiss the chef’ apron, I…might have obliged.”

Chef lifted his shirt to reveal a mildly tattooed torso and chest—a gallery of various artistic symbols inked in pale flesh. She admirably noted his dark chest hair. There wasn’t too little. There wasn’t too much. It just enough and she loved the sight of it. Using his spare hand, he pointed to a certain tattoo on his left pectoral. The tattoo consisted of a red heart wearing a cocked chef hat with bolded black cursive words in the foreground that read ‘kiss the chef’.

“Didn’t bring an apron, but will this do?”

She was absolutely dumbfounded and utterly aroused by his reveal.

“Yeah,” she voiced distractedly. “That’ll…do just…fine.”

Chef chuckled, lowering his shirt.

Sugar cleared her throat and resumed the task of finishing her soup eagerly to keep her mouth busily before she put them to better use by rising his shirt back up so she could kiss that tattoo.

“I’m gonna clean up the kitchen,” he said, nodding his head towards the opened bedroom door.

“Okay,” she said with a mouthful of chicken, vegetables, and noodles.

She leaned to the right, craning her head as she watched his glorious backside leave the bedroom and walk down the hallway. “God help me,” she breathed out pleadingly before she shoved another spoonful into her mouth, chewing roughly as she dealt with the worst kind of frustration: pent-up sexual frustration.

It didn’t take long for her to gobble up the rest of the soup.

She felt much so much better, but her cold was still very much there.

She decided to put the bowl in the dishwasher, so she got out of the bed and went to the kitchen where Chef took his time cleaning up. His back was turned to her as he worked through his task, but he had no clue that she was behind him. He muttered to himself.

“Be a good boy and behave.” His voice a little smidgen above a mutter. “She’s sick for Christ’s sake. She doesn’t want you pawin’ all over her, but…she’s…fuck if she ain’t…”

Sugar bit her lower lip as she listened to him battle with himself.

“Fuck if she ain’t what,” Sugar asked, deciding to make herself known.

Chef turned halfway to watch her as she walked into the kitchen and rubbed the back of his neck. “You like bein’ nosey?”

Sugar smiled a little. “Mm hm, especially when it involves me. So, fuck if I ain’t what, Chef?”

“I thought you were supposed to be in bed,” he said, cocking his head.

“Not an answer,” she said as she strolled over to the dishwasher and opened it, leaning down to put the empty bowl inside the top rack. The mid-thigh length hemline rose as she was bent over, revealing the bottom-half of her silky peach panties that matched her nightie. She did it on purpose and immediately reaped the benefits of how that man looked at her. His eyes were like a graphic picture book of all the things he wanted to her and she liked what she saw. It felt amazingly good to know that even though she was sick and hadn’t tried to seduce someone in five years, she still had something.

Closing the dishwasher, she straightened her back and swallowed back the urge to cough by clearing her throat. “Kittycat caught your tongue?”

“I haven’t caught my tongue inside a kittycat in a while, but if you wanna throw an old dog a bone to remind him how good it can taste,” Chef trailed off, a hungry look in his eyes.

“I have a cold,” she reminded him.

“And I have a hardy immune system,” he returned.

“I’m pretty sure I can get you sick from doing,” she paused, “that.”

“I have a better chance at gettin’ sick from you coughin’ on me, so I’m pretty sure that ain’t possible,” he said, “but there’s only one way to find out.”

She rose her eyebrows. “You’re being serious about this.”

“As a heart attack,” he said, “and it fits within your conditions. Adventurous, uncommitted, no-strings attached fun, right? And what better way to do that than by me eatin’ you out?”

She let out a noise in between a gasp and a shocked laugh at his boldly colorful words. It was one of the most arousing things someone had ever said to her. A storm of heat ripped through her.

“You have quite a filthy mouth,” she breathed, but it didn’t sound like a complain like she had wanted it to.

“I think you like my filthy mouth, don’t you, Sugar?”

She gulped hard and let out a shaky breath. “I—“

Her home phone’s ringtone sliced through the air.

She took it as a blessing in disguise and she practically rushed over to the cordless phone, plucking it off the dock. She answered the call in a stutter. “H-h-hello?”

“I was on my way home from a business meeting halfway across town this afternoon and I passed by our old apartment complex.” It was Lance.

Sugar blinked in surprise at the sound of his voice.

“Brought back a lot of memories. Most of them good, but some were bad too,” Lance said, “but it’s the good times that counted, right? Happy birthday, by the way.”

“A happy birthday from my cheating ex-husband. You’re so kind, Lance,” Sugar scoffed, locking eyes with Chef. “I’m surprised you even remembered because the last six years of our marriage you conveniently forgot.”

“I was a busy man, Shug,” Lance said.

Before Sugar could even react properly to Lance’s statement, Chef went to her and took the cordless phone from her hand. “Don’t ever call this number again,” Chef said in a cool authoritative voice that only a soldier could possess.

Sugar heard Lance’s yelling from the phone. “Who the fuck is thi—“

Chef hung up the phone, putting it back on its charging dock.

Sugar frowned. “That was unnecessary.”

“Him callin’ here is unnecessary. You and I were havin’ an important conversation,” Chef stated gruffly, a pinch of jealousy worming its way into his voice.

“Us talking about,” she paused, clearing her throat roughly, “you going down on me isn’t exactly an important conversation.”

“Speak for yourself, honey,” Chef said.

The phone rang again. Chef snatched it off the hook again and answered the call. “I said don’t ever call this number again,” Chef repeated, narrowing his eyes. “Are you slow in the head?”

Chef smirked as he listened to Lance’s expressed anger on the other end of the call. Whatever her ex-husband was saying, she couldn't hear. 

“Who the fuck am I you ask? I am hangin’ up. This is your last warnin’,” he then said before ending the call once more. After returning the phone back to its dock for the second time, he nailed Sugar to the spot. “Where were we?”

“Um,” she began, still processing her past and present collided before her very eyes.

“Oh, now I remember where we left off,” Chef said. “Could you please take off your panties for me?”

“That isn’t where we left off,” Sugar said after gasping.

“I might have fast-forwarded our conversation a bit,” he admitted.

Sugar laughed in disbelief. “A bit?”

He closed in on her, caging her against the kitchen counter.

“Pretty please with Sugar on top?”

Oh, shit.

She was in big, big, big trouble, but she only had herself to blame.

He knew her conditions quite well and he was using them against her. Bending and twisting her words with such skill to work in his favor that it surprised her—terrified her even.

But what terrified her more was that she was going to let him do it. 

 

 

End Notes:

Teachers have been allowed to go back into our classrooms early before school starts and Thursday and Friday was so ridiculous. My new grade level partner I've been telling ya'll about is absolutely evil. She got into an argument with me, but she picked the right one 'cause I put her in her place then she gonna run to the principals and tell them all these lies about me. Then her and the principals gonna come to me like they are trying to stage an intervention. She had tears in her eyes and played the victim quite well. It was a bunch of bull. It totally tanked my muse because I was planning on updating this story yesterday, but I was so disgusted by everything that transpired that I didn't have the memory.

I got my muse back today though. Keep me in your prayers because I need it. I am surrounded by snakes with two legs. 

I hope you all enjoyed this chapter. Your overwhelming support for this story means a lot. It's my goal to try and update Sugar Mama, His Mercy, and Save Me From Myself this upcoming week before school starts. Maybe even Baby, It's Cold Outside too. 

Chef wants Sugar, sick or not. He don't care. And he's using their agreed conditions against her and she knows it, but she's not gonna stop him. 

BTW, Chef was going to say "Fuck, if she ain't sexy as all get-out."

Feedback is greatly appreciated!

Have a wonderful Saturday night. 

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Author's Notes:

May 31, 2017

Sugar's birthday gets more eventful.

Music Mood: Drown In It by Syd

After eighteen years of trials and errors, Sugar had learned it was best to think ahead. Thinking one step ahead gave her a leg up in the world. It allowed her to accomplish so much in the great scale of things. Yet here she was drowning in a mess of her own doing. She had thought demanding a noncommitted relationship with strict guidelines was thinking one step ahead to cure her loneliness while keeping her protected from heartbreak. However, she didn’t expect the man—that had her caged against her kitchen counter—to skirt around her rules and bend them to his own benefit. She had doomed herself from the start.

A broad smile spread across his lips before he dipped his head down and lowered his voice to a seductive husky volume that made her shudder as it caressed her left ear canal like deep velvet. “Do you want me to beg? Is that it, Sugar?”

“I ain’t above beggin’,” he continued with a dark momentary chuckle, “especially when the only two things that are keepin’ me from my dessert are a pair of glorious thighs and panties.”

Her eyelids slid shut and she let out a shaky exhale as his carnal words coaxed a rising warmth inside her.

Brushing his lips along the outline of her ear, he whispered, “My mouth is waterin’ at the thought of tastin’ how sweet you are.”

He caught her earlobe gently with his teeth and tugged it into his mouth, suckling on it briefly before he let it go. Immediately, she visualized him doing the exact same thing with her clit.

“Oh, dear,” she breathed out helplessly, a strong achy pulse throbbing from the very place he wanted to get acquainted with.

“Take off your panties for me, Sugar,” he commanded.

“Um, shouldn’t we go…to the bedroom…first,” she asked, pausing briefly between strings of words to bit back a moan as his hands appreciatively roamed her curves.

He pulled away from her ear to look at her. “Where’s the fun in that?”

Sugar blinked at his question. “Where else would, um, this happen?”

“Take off your panties and I’ll gladly show you,” he said with a slight grin while mischief danced in his gray eyes.

Unable to deny him any further, she reached underneath her nightie to hook her fingers into her undergarment’s waistband and pulled them down her thighs. He moved just enough to give her some room as she began to step out of her panties hastily clumsy manner. To steady herself, she grabbed onto his brawny arm with one hand while she used the other one to finish taking off her underwear.

She squealed as he lifted her up by the waist with ease and placed her onto the kitchen counter. She was too shunned to utter a single protest. He wanted to do it here in her kitchen?

Chef lowered himself to his knees, his face directly in front of her closed legs.

“Chef,” Sugar trailed off, unsure of what to say. Her heart pounded violently in her chest.

He gazed up at her as he kissed her knees while running his hands up and down her calves tenderly.

“Let me in, honey,” he said. “Let me taste you.”

Sugar bit down her bottom lip, fear and regret working together within her. Chef must’ve seen it in her face. His brow scrunched slightly in confusion.

“What’s wrong?”

“You’ll be the second man to ever do something like this to me and I haven’t had,” she paused, her brain in search of a suitable word, “it in a very long time. My ex-husband tried it three times. He didn’t like it very much. He said he didn’t like how I…taste.”

Chef considered her words for a moment. “Your ex won’t know what to do with good pussy if it was in front of him, which is odd ‘cause he himself is a big ass pussy. I think the kids nowadays would call him a fuckboy.”

A soft giggle burst out of Sugar. “Fuckboy doesn’t seem like the kind of word that it’s in your bank of vocabulary.”

The right corner of his lips quirked upward. “I’ve got four goddaughters in highschool and college. I’ve seen their Facebook posts enough to learn the new lingo,” he paused, placing another kiss on her knee to bring them back to task. “What I’m tryin’ to say is I ain’t him and if you part those pretty thighs for me, I’ll show you how different he and I are when it comes to you.”

Sugar apprehensively spread her legs.

“Mm,” he hummed, his grin widening.

He grabbed the underside of her thighs and tugged her ass closer towards the edge of the kitchen counter before burying his face in between her legs, giving her a nice long lick. He groaned in approval.

“Pretty and pink,” he complimented before he devoted his attention to licking and sucking her inner lips.

Sugar’s head dropped backwards against the cabinet door with a soft thud, her eyes rolling deeply into the back of her head. The more she realized the situation she was in, the more aroused she became. Her bare ass hung off the very edge of the kitchen counter. Her nightie was pushed past her waist. Her left leg was now on the counter, bent at the knee. Her right leg hung over his shoulder as he knelt on her tiled kitchen floor. Her thighs were wide open and his head had found a home in between as he ate her pussy in the most torturous way. His tongue and lips took their time exploring her as he suckled, licked, and teased every part of her cunt, leaving nothing neglected.

“Mm, just like I thought,” he purred appreciatively. “You live up to your name, Sugar. Sweet, sweet, sweet.”

A quiver ran through her at his words.

He flattened his tongue and gave her a deep broad lick from the bottom of her pussy all the way to her clit. Chef draw lazy circles around her clit with the tip of his tongue, delivering an occasional flick to the sensitive pink head peeking out from underneath her clit hood. She moaned loudly, snatching a fistful of his salt-and-pepper hair with her right hand and tugged it roughly. A deep growl of approval from him vibrated her pussy, she moaned louder at the sensation. Her eyelids peeled open and she gazed down the length of her body, her brown eyes locking upon gray ones that stared up at her boldly.

She felt raw and exposed as he watched her while he devoured her pussy, so she squeezed her eyes shut as an attempt to shield her vulnerability. To give her back a sense of control.

“Don’t do that to me, honey,” Chef panted slightly, fanning warm breath against her glistening pink lips. “I wanna see those beautiful brown eyes while I eat you up. I want you to watch me enjoy how sweet you are.”

He showered a line of kisses along her inner right thigh and she trembled underneath his lips.

This was too much.

This had gone too far.

“We should stop,” she breathed pleadingly. “We should really, really st—oh, my god!”

Her jaw dropped open as he buried his face back into her pussy and caught her swollen clit in between his teeth gently, drawing the pink nub into the depths of his mouth to suck at a delicious rhythm.

“Th-th-that’s absolutely foul,” she managed to say in between her hard breathing.

He was playing dirty. A reality that she should’ve hated, but deep down, she knew she loved it.

He chuckled darkly, but kept on, relentless in his pursuit to make her cum. She continued watching him like he wanted, unable to deny how incredibly arousing it was to watch him eat her out. The pleasure he was intense and utterly foreign to her. She was overwhelmed by it. She was consumed by it, her practiced composure crashing and burning as a result. When he slid his tongue inside of her to fuck her deeply with his mouth, she knew there was no turning back. Her hips frantically rocked against his face with one hand still gripping his hair and the other bracing the counter for support.

“Oh, fuck, oh, fuck, oh, fuck,” she chanted wildly as she grew closer and closer towards an impending explosive orgasm that was burning in her lower belly ready to be unleased.

Then it hit her hard.

At first, she gasped sharply at its arrival and then as it tore through her, she tossed her head back and screamed as she drowned in white-hot euphoria. Her body went rigid as she rode out the waves of her orgasm. Chef hungrily caught her juices with his mouth and tongue, drinking and swallowing greedily.

She went slack against the counter and cabinets, panting heavily as she shuddered from the aftereffects of her long-awaited release.

Chef’s head lingered in between her legs for a few moments as he lapped her pussy clean. When he was finished, he brushed her leg off his shoulder and stood up slowly. Sugar sat on the kitchen counter with her weak legs now dangling off the edge. He placed his strong hands on her hips, putting her onto the floor.

Sugar stumbled for a moment and Chef steadied her with his signature slight grin at his lips.

“Whoa there, honey,” he said. “You alright?”

“Are you seriously asking me that right now?”

She just let him eat her pussy while she sat on the kitchen counter. Was it absolutely fucking amazing? Hell, yes. Was she alright? Hell, no.

“I haven’t forgotten my manners,” he said, the laugh lines around his eyes crinkling in amusement.

“If you haven’t forgotten your manners then what do you call eating me out in my own kitchen?”

“Dessert,” he answered in a sexy rumbly tone. Her overtly sensitive clit pulsed achily at his comment. She clenched her thighs together to relieve it—to silence it. Sugar closed her eyes, trying to regain a sense of herself, but his mere presence was the catalyst to her unraveling.

“Chef, I really don’t know what to do with you,” Sugar said softly.

“I can help you with that,” he returned as he pulled her into his arms, burying his face into the crook of her neck while his hands slid over the curve of her ass. He daringly lifted up her nightgown and spread his calloused fingers across her ass cheeks before giving them an appreciative squeeze while he nibbled at her neck. She melted against him, wrapping her arms around his neck to use him as an anchor.

“I know plenty of things you can do to me. With me,” he purred against her neck as his palms kneaded her ass sensually, unhurriedly. She squeaked when he gave her left cheek a nice pop and chuckled for a moment at her response. She enjoyed the sweet sting that hummed across the patch of flesh he spanked, but he needed to do something to get back at him.

An eye for eye.

She leaned up and boldly bit him just above the crook of his neck.

He groaned in response. She smiled against his flesh, relishing her tiny victory before she bit him harder. He let out a growl that rumbled deep in his chest and her body eagerly absorbed the vibrations. He yanked his face away from her neck to capture her lips, but she turned her head in just enough time so that he landed a kiss on her cheek.

“I’m sick,” she reminded him—and herself.

“Mm, I guess I’ll have to kiss your other set of lips,” he said with a grin as he trailed his hands down the underside of her thighs, scooping her up against him. She tightened her arms around his neck and wrapped her legs around his waist.

“I thought we were finished.”

“No, honey. We ain’t finished until you cum on my tongue again.”

She heated up and bit back a moan of anticipation.

She didn’t know what to say to that. Was there anything that could to be said?

He carried her out of the kitchen and back to her bedroom. He laid her down on the bed and settled his head in between her legs once more, his head disappearing halfway underneath her short-lengthened nightie. He maneuvered her legs over his shoulders as he helped himself to a second serving of her pussy. He gripped the underside of her left thigh and tilted it wider to allow himself better access to the sweet treat he seemed to love to eat.

She moaned aloud, arching her hips off the bed.

Pleasure was twofold as she was still very sensitive from the last orgasm that took place barely a few minutes prior.

It was then her cell rung a few inches away from her head. The ringtone belonged to Odette. She smoothed her hand over his head as a gesture for him to stop. “I need to…answer th—ahh!”

Chef kept going, unfazed by the ringing device and her weakly-delivered request.

“Please, Chef,” she whimpered. “Please let me…”

He let out a growl to voice his discontent, but did as she asked. However, he decided to make good use of his mouth by kissing, nibbling, and biting her inner thighs. She reached for the device with a shaky hand and answered it.

“H-hello?”

“Happy birthday!” A chorus of familiar voices shouted at her. She blinked in shock at the volume.

“Thank y—ahh,” she began, but gasped sharply as Chef lifted her left calf to lick the crook of her knee. She quickly cleared her throat and lightly swatted Chef’s head as punishment. He peered up at her with prideful dark humor twinkling in his eyes as he kept going.

“Thank you,” Sugar managed to say.

“Having a girls’ night isn’t the same without you,” Rochelle said.

“I wish I could’ve been there,” Sugar returned.

“You sound a lot better,” Odette noted.

“I’m getting th-th-there,” she stuttered at the end while she tried her absolute hardest to keep herself from moaning as Chef kissed his way back to where he wanted his mouth to go.

He spoke to her in a low voice for her ears only. “I want to suck your clit right now.”

Increasingly becoming a habit, her clit throbbed in consent. She, however, mouthed a ‘no’ and shook her head vigorously.

“Since you can’t come to the party, we’ve decided to bring the party to you,” Katrina said on the other end.

What?” Sugar’s heart stopped beating. 

“We’re pulling up to your house right now,” Odette informed excitedly.

In a panic, Sugar hung up the phone and tossed it out of her hands like it was a hot potato.

“Get up, get up, get up,” she chanted frantically at Chef. “My sisters are here. Oh, my fucking god.”

Chef removed himself from in between her legs and got off the bed, watching as Sugar practically leapt out of the bed and raced into her bathroom to retrieve her robe off the hook on the door. She shrugged it on quickly and tied it tightly. When the doorbell rang, she nearly went into cardiac arrest. She rushed out of the bedroom and slammed the door shut behind her, fled down the hallway, and skid to a halt in front of the door. She rose to the tips of her toes to look out the peephole. Her sisters, Katrina, Helena, and Reid were all clad in their sexy little clubbing outfits as they waited on her front porch with gift bags in their hands. Sugar closed her eyes and took an extremely deep breath to calm her fraying nerves. Then she undid her door’s locks and opened the door.

“What a surprise,” she said.

“Somebody’s Mustang is parked in front of your house at the curb,” Rochelle informed.

Sugar pretended to be surprised. “Really? That’s odd.”

The girls sashayed their way into the house and went into the kitchen.

Helena sniffed the air, a wide smile on her lips. “Mm, it smells amazing in here. You cooked?”

Sugar nervously tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear.

“I ate something,” she answered instead.

Helena went to the fridge looking for liquor like always and she would no doubt find it. Sugar always kept a bottle or two of wine in the house. Helena retrieved a bottle of Chardonnay and trotted happily over to the drawer that housed the cork opener like she always did. Odette, Rochelle, and Reid went to the kitchen table to seat. Katrina remained standing, glancing around the kitchen with a curious look on her face as if she sensed something was off.

Sugar cleared her throat. “Did you do any club-hopping?”

“We went to two clubs, but there wasn’t much going on. Just bunch of old dudes wanting to buy us drinks,” Reid pouted.

“That’s a bummer,” Sugar said with a frown.

“So,” Odette began to speak in a sing-song voice, “we decided to come by to bear our gifts.”

“That’s real sweet,” Sugar replied. “You didn’t have to.”

“We wanted to,” Helena assured. By then, she had already poured herself a glass of Chardonnay and took deep gulps while she sat on the kitchen counter. Sugar did a doubletake at Helena with widened eyes, a sense of dread filling her up as she realized that Helena was sitting at the very spot she got her pussy eaten.

Katrina then asked with a cocked head, “Shug, are you okay?”

Sugar snapped her attention to her sister-in-law. “The cough medicine just makes me, um, jittery is all,” she lied. Katrina, in turn, arched an eyebrow at her, but said nothing else as she slowly walked around the kitchen.

“You need to open your presents,” Rochelle said as she lifted the purple giftbag she brought and gave it a little shake.

“I got you the best gift,” Odette announced loudly—giddily.

Reid rolled her eyes sharply. “You got Shug the worst gift imaginable.”

Odette flipped her hair over her shoulder and smiled smugly at Reid. “Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.”

Reid rolled her eyes once more, shaking her head.

In hopes of getting them out the door quicker, Sugar decided to open her birthday presents. Rochelle got her a revealing outfit effectively as a weapon to be used to “catch a man”. Helena bought her a pair of “fuck-me-pumps”—as she so eloquently put it—that matched Rochelle’s gift quite well. Katrina got her a giftcard to an upscale spa club downtown. Reid got her scented candles and a no-doubt pricey spa basket. Finally, Odette’s gift was the last to be opened.

“Saved the best for last,” Odette said with a wink.

Now, Sugar was worried.

“Can I use your bathroom,” Helena suddenly asked with urgency after gulping down her third glass of wine. She hopped down from the kitchen counter.

“There’s one down the hallway,” Sugar said.

“Thanks,” Helena said before practically scurrying out of the kitchen.

“Come on, girl. Open it,” Odette urged eagerly.

Sugar sighed as she fished through the sea of neon green tissue paper. Finally, she retrieved a box from the giftbag. Her brow furrowed together as she stared at the gift in disbelief. It was a hot pink silicone rabbit vibrator dubbed as the ‘Wild Bunny G-Gasm Vibrator’. A detailed picture of the sex toy was plastered on every single face of the box.

Her jaw dropped open.

“Um, Shug, why are your panties on the kitchen floor,” Katrina then asked.

Sugar’s eyes widened.

Oh, no, she screamed inside her brain.

Helena then reentered the kitchen with an impressed expression on her face. She crossed her arms over her chest, cocking her head to the side. “Ettie, you got a return receipt for that?”

“She doesn’t need a return receipt,” Odette defended before she blinked at Helena in confusion. “I thought you said you had to use the bathroom?”

“I did have to use the bathroom, but I can hold it. I made a little discovery along the way.”

How did you make a discovery on the way to the hallway bathroom, Helena,” Rochelle asked, annoyance in her voice.

“I don’t go in hallway bathrooms. I only do master bathrooms,” Helena said matter-of-factly. “The good hand soap is always in the master bathrooms. I gotta keep these hands nice and soft, honey-doll.”

Sugar blinked in disbelief at Helena’s confession. “You went to my bedroom?”

Helena grinned, nodding her head.

“Mm hm. I sure did,” she said before looking at Odette once more. “Shug doesn’t need a vibrator at all. Shug, I honestly didn’t think you had it in you, but I give two thumbs up!”

Sugar closed her eyes and breathed out in a mortified voice, “Oh, dear god.”

Rochelle frowned. “Shug, what in the hell is going on?”

“Do you want to tell them or should I,” Helena offered.

“Shut up, Helena,” Odette ordered.

Helena put her hands up in defense. “Fine,” she said as she sauntered back to the bottle of Chardonnay to fill up her glass again.

“Evenin’, ladies.”

Six pairs of startled eyes jerked to the man who stood in the kitchen doorway.

His eyes locked on Sugar. “I figured since the young lady found my hiding spot, I might as well come out.”

All five women—except Helena who was guzzling down her fourth glass of wine—gawked at Chef.

Odette had an open-mouthed surprised smile on her face, her eyes lit up like fireworks. “Shug, aren’t you gonna introduce us?”

Rochelle cocked her head at Sugar, a pleased look on her face. “I second notion.”

“Third,” Katrina said, utterly intrigued by the situation playing out before her eyes.

“Fourth,” Reid added in.

Sugar pursed her lips and exhaled through her nose deeply. “Everyone, this is Chef.”

“And Chef is?” Rochelle asked in mock-innocent tone.

“A friend,” Sugar answered with a bit of sharpness to her voice.

“Well, Chef. I’m Odette, Sugar’s baby sister,” Odette introduced herself before introduced everyone else, pointing to each. “That is Rochelle, another Hartwell sister. That’s Katrina, Sugar’s sister-in-law. Reid is Rochelle’s sister-in-law. And you briefly met my nosy-as-hell sister-in-law, Helena.”

Chef nodded his head with a charming grin. “It’s a pleasure to meet you all.”

Then a flood questions were shot in his direction all at once.

“So, what’s your real name?” Rochelle’s question.

“How many tattoos do you have?” Helena’s question.

“How did you two meet?” Odette’s question.

“Do you have a brother?” Reid’s question.

He chuckled lightly at the swarm of queries.

“My real name is Miles Thibodeau. I have eighteen tattoos. Mrs. Hartwell actually introduced us,” he answered, “and no, I do not have a brother.”

All five women—except an embarrassed Sugar—perked up at the mention of Georgette Hartwell. Rochelle cocked her head and arched an eyebrow. “So you know our mother?”

Chef nodded. “As well as your father Cal. They’re both regulars at my restaurant and we’ve become close friends.”

“It takes a lot for Mama and Daddy to like someone yet alone become friends with them. If you all are close friends then you must be a great guy,” Odette said with a cheeky smile.

Chef rubbed the back of his neck and grinned slightly—bashfully. “I’m an alright guy, but I’ve found a good reason to better myself.” His gray eyes fell upon Sugar.

A tingly warmth filled Sugar up and she tugged her bottom lip into her mouth.

Katrina glanced at her wristwatch and announced, “Well, would you look at that? It’s time for us to go. If we don’t leave now, we’ll be late to that thing.”

Odette’s eyebrows scrunched together. “What thing?”

Katrina narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips. “That thing, Ettie. Remember?”

Rochelle swatted Odette’s shoulder. “You know what she’s about, Odette.”

Reid snapped her fingers as if she finally remembered. “Right, that thing. Yeah, we should definitely get going.”

The women filed out of the kitchen with a reluctant Odette. Helena, who was at the tail end of the departing group, stopped in the kitchen doorway with the wine bottle that still had about a quarter of wine left. “Can I take this on the road?”

“Knock yourself out,” Sugar sighed.

Helena gave her a wink and blew her a kiss before trotting out of the kitchen. “Thanks! Love you! Oh, and happy birthday!”

Once all the uninvited guests were gone, Sugar locked the door.

She turned around and pressed her back against the door, sighing.

This was the most eventful birthday she had ever had in her thirty-eight years of life.

Chef stepped into the foyer from the kitchen and walked towards her. “I guess this is where I take my leave, huh?”

“I think it’s best,” she agreed with a nod. “Thanks for giving me some chicken noodle soup to eat.”

He closed in on her, bracing his tattooed arms against the door. She was caged in. He dipped his head down. “Thanks for givin’ me somethin’ to eat as well,” he said in a low voice. “I’d love to know when you’re gonna put it back on the menu.”

“You’ll be the first to know if or when I do,” she gulped.

Chef dropped his right hand from the door and slid it underneath her robe and nightie, slithering two thick fingers in between her pussy’s lips. Sugar’s eyes squeezed shut and she gasped out a deep moan as his digits stroked up and down her slit teasingly. Then he withdrew his fingers and licked the juices off them, his intense gray eyes never leaving her brown ones.

This man, this man, this man.

“You better,” he answered with a devilish grin before he took a step back.

Sugar swirled around on her heels and quickly unlocked the front door, opening it for him to leave. He had to. She needed him to before she invited him to spend the night with her in her bed—with hopefully no clothes on.

“Good night, Chef,” she said after clearing her throat.

He nodded as he made his way out the door. “Good night and of course, happy birthday.”

“You know,” she began, “you never sang me happy birthday.”

He turned halfway, eying her. “You’re right, but I did manage the make the birthday girl sing. That should count for something.”

Where was the lie?

 

End Notes:

This chapter was so much fun to write. I was either fanning myself or laughing my behind off. Chef is off-the-chain, ya'll. Shug had the most eventful birthday in her entire life.

Thank you for your feedback and support.

THANK YOU FOR RECOMMENDING SUGAR MAMA FOR AUGUST RECS.

I am so happy!!!!

Character pictures for Reid and Helena have been uploaded onto the pinterest board, if you're interested in taking a peek.

Pinterest Board: Sugar Mama by Missus James

Sweet Talk by Missus James
Author's Notes:

June 3, 2017

After her first day back at work, Sugar gets the night off early and gets a little sweet talking from Chef. 

Mood Music: You're Makin' Me High by Toni Braxton

Her first day back at work was a Saturday. Sugar had been so eager to return to the restaurant, but soon she realized that it was difficult getting back into her old routine of being the responsible manager and owner after spending three days at home doing nothing but being miserable, eating delicious chicken noodle soup, and watching television in her bed.

The day was excruciatingly long and grueling because three employees, two kitchen staff and one waiter, called out sick after catching the very cold she had just gotten over herself. So, she alternated between helping in the kitchen and waiting tables all throughout the day.

Around seven o’clock, she was absolutely exhausted. Mallory, who had arrived to the restaurant not long before, surprisingly offered to take over the restaurant so she could go home and rest. She reluctantly accepted the offer. However, on her way out the door, she discovered why her baby brother was so eager to take over as acting manager for the rest of the evening as a group of seven beautiful dark-skinned women sauntered into the restaurant lobby and told the evening shift receptionists that they were friends of Mallory who had a special table reserved for them. Sugar was too tired to go back and chew Mallory out for being sneaky, so she made note to do so the next day.

After suffering through nearly an hour of rush hour traffic, she finally managed to make it home not too long after eight o’clock. She plucked off her high heels before drudging her sore feet into the kitchen to retrieve a bottle of Moscato from the fridge. She uncorked the bottle with a corkscrew and pondered on whether to get a wine glass or drink straight from the bottle. Being too lazy, she decided on the latter.

As she journeyed to her bedroom, she took deep sips of the crisp bubbly dessert wine before she put the bottle down onto the nightstand and stripped down to her bare skin. She rummaged through her closet for an extra-large royal purple graphic t-shirt with a design of a white wolf on it. She went over to her dresser to fish for a pair of sherbet orange cotton panties and slipped them on. She had tamed and styled her hair back into a bun before returning to work, so she wrapped it in a purple and lime green silk scarf to keep it fresh and intact.

Finally, she plopped back down onto the bed and reached for the wine bottle, taking another gulp.

The sound of muffled chimes filled the air along with a vibrating sound as her cell announced an incoming text message while it was hidden inside the belly of her purse. She retrieved it and read the message.

Maybe Answer: Back to working hard, I see. Saw your car in the parking lot when I was driving by earlier.

Sugar: You were just driving by? I’m impressed that you didn’t come in to finally check out the competition’s menu.

Maybe Answer: Oh, I was very tempted, but what I want ain’t on the menu.

Sugar: And what do you want that’s not on the menu?

Maybe Answer: Every single inch of you.

Sugar had been in the middle of sipping more wine when she got that text message and nearly choked. She coughed a little and cleared her throat as she recovered. Her body was thoroughly heated and she didn’t have a fever to blame now. Deciding to change the subject, she typed him a text asking what he was up to.

Maybe Answer: Home. Bed. Comfortable.

She smiled at his answer. Her head a little lightheaded from the wine and her willpower was loosening because of it. She typed back jokingly.

Sugar: So, what kind of PJs do men like you wear to bed? LOL

A few moments passed.

Maybe Answer: (photo attachment)

Sugar widened her eyes at the photo he had sent her. It was a tilted wide shot of his tattooed body as he rested in his bed. He was no doubt naked, but his navy-hued bedsheet rested dangerously low on his hips, revealing a yummy treasure trail that was begging to be kissed and licked. He grinned sexily up at his camera, his spare arm tucked behind his head. The picture looked like an invitation to do something naughty and fun and she was aching to take him up on it.

Maybe Answer: Take a guess, honey.

She chewed hard on her bottom lip as she drunk in the photo while she took a deeper gulp. She put the bottle down and sent him another message.

Sugar: Nice…

Suddenly, her phone vibrated and rung simultaneously as an incoming call came in. It was him.

“Yes?” She very surprised at how well she managed to answer in a calm voice.

“Just nice, huh?”

She smiled, holding back a giggle. “There you go trying to fish for compliments again.”

“You’ve said your piece about me. Now, I wanna see how nice you look tonight,” Chef said.

“Sorry to break it to you, but I look absolutely terrible,” she returned as an attempt to discourage him from asking what she knew he was going to ask.

“I think that’s for me to decide,” he stated. “Now go on and send me a pic.”

Sugar scoffed. “You’re bossy tonight.”

Please, send me a pic,” he corrected in a huskier tone that washed over her like hot water. She closed her eyes and bathed in the sound.

“Fine.” She gave in, hanging up the phone.

She situated herself onto the bed and angled her phone above her. A bashful woman biting her bottom lip filled up the cellphone screen. She snapped the picture and analyzed its flaws for a long moment, contemplating on whether to retake a picture or send it as is. She sighed heavily and sent it to him. Her heart pounded in her chest as she waited for him to response—to react.

After about five minutes, her phone rang again.

“Wow, that took a long time,” she answered the phone teasingly. “Did you have to cleanse your eyeballs after witnessing such a horror?”

“A man has to take time to truly appreciate beauty.”

She laughed a little in a bashful way, but felt odd about the compliment. Though Chef freely dished them out to her, sometimes, she felt like they were nothing more than lies. Coming from a marriage where she was consistently referred and treated as unattractive, it had become a habit of hers to determine the pure worth of Chef’s compliments as truthful or false.

“You look real comfortable over there. More than tempted to climb out of my bed and make my way to yours,” he said.

She teased. “In your birthday suit?”

“Mm, if that’s what you want,” he chuckled.

“That would be,” she paused, “interesting.”

“Just interestin’, huh?”

Sugar rolled her eyes, a smile spreading across her lips. “Yes, just interesting.”

“Well, since we’re on the topic of interestin’ things. Would you be interested in accompanyin’ me to a boxin’ match next Friday?”

Sugar bit her bottom lip, a strange ripple of anticipation vibrated through her at the prospect of witnessing him dominate a boxing ring.

“So, you want me to watch you get beat up and lose, huh?”

“I’ll no doubt get a little banged up, but I ain’t gonna lose,” he assured.

She arched an eyebrow at his confidence. “How are you so sure that you’re gonna win? Is it one of those stacked matches you were telling me about?”

“No, not a stacked match. I don’t partake in scams. I fight fair and square. This upcomin’ match, however, I ain’t got no choice but to win,” Chef replied, a smile in his voice. “How else am I gonna impress you?”

Sugar tossed her head back to let out a pure burst of laughter. “You’re too much for me.”

“And you’re just enough for me,” he returned, the color of his voice darkening. “So, will you come?”

Her breath hitched softly. “Well, I’m not sure...I can’t always trust my brother to manage the restaurant.”

“Can you trust him for this one night?”

Sugar cocked her head. “Well, it depends. What’s in it for me exactly?”

Chef chuckled slightly. It was low and rumbly. The sound of it made her shiver.

“Do you have somethin’ in mind?”

“It wouldn’t be much fun if I told you, now would it? You’re a very intelligent and creative man. I’m sure you can think of something,” she encouraged.

“Hm,” Chef trailed off pensively. “I have an old friend who owns a private yacht charter business. So, how does 'cruising down the river at sunset while we enjoy a dinner, champagne and each other' sound?”

Sugar closed her eyes, her mind vividly painting a scene of a romantic dinner date on a private yacht against gorgeous sunset. She melted at the thought for a few moments too late, but snapped out of it when she realized that broke one of her rules.

“That sounds very romantic,” she said, clearing her throat, “which is very much against what we agreed upon.”

“Luckily, I have a Plan B that doesn’t break any of your rules,” he paused, “though I do hope you reconsider the yacht dinner. I think we’d enjoy ourselves.”

She bit her bottom lip for a moment. “I’ll think about it, but don’t get your hopes up. Now, what’s your next proposition?”

“After the match, I’ll take you back to my home. I’ll crack open a beer for me. Uncork a bottle of wine for you. We’ll drink and chat in the livin’ room then I’ll ask you to spend the night. You’ll say yes,” he described blow-by-blow, his baritone timbre becoming smokier and every single word he spoke made her heat up more and more. “We’ll go to my bedroom. I’ll peel off every stitch of clothin’ you got on real slow ‘cause I like to take my time. You can help me take off mine too or you can lay on my bed watchin’ me undress while I watch you right back; while I’m thinkin’ I gotta be the luckiest man alive to have a goddess like that in my bed. How is my proposition soundin’ so far, Sugar?”

Sugar breathed out shakily, “It’s alright.”

Her hand slid down the length of her body, but stopped just below her bellybutton.

He chuckled sexily before he continued, “Would it be alright if I joined you in bed next then? Would it be alright if we took our time kissin’ and explorin’ each other’s bodies?”

“That’s fine,” she gulped, inching her hand closer towards the hemline of her extra-large purple shirt.

There was a smile in his voice again. “Then that’s what we’ll do then. I want to see and touch all of you and I want you to see and touch all of me. Then I’ll make my way down your beautiful body to taste that sweet pussy of yours so I can make you cum again on my tongue since we were interrupted the last time. Would you like that?”

“Mm hm,” she hummed longingly as she lifted her shirt to slip her fingers into her panties. She squeezed her eyes shut as she brushed her fingers against her swelling clit.

“I want to taste you too,” she admitted in a breathy whisper as she sunk two fingers into her pussy.

There was a moment of silence. “Is that so?”

She nodded her head, not realizing that he couldn’t see it.

“Are you thinkin’ about suckin’ my dick while pleasin’ yourself right now, Sugar?”

She stilled her thrusting fingers as his accurate prediction, but she couldn’t bring herself to say anything. The question made her burn with shame for being caught red-handed.

“No need to be shy, baby. I ain’t gonna judge,” Chef assured huskily. “Are you usin’ that toy you got for your birthday?”

“No,” she confessed.

“You should,” he encouraged darkly. “Have you ever used one before?”

“No,” she confessed again, her voice raspier than before.

Chef then said, “You work so hard, Sugar. You should treat yourself to a good orgasm. Shame I can’t be there to help. To watch.”

Sugar pulled her fingers from her panties and reached over to her nightstand, sliding out its drawer. Inside the drawer was the rabbit vibrator. Pulling the phone down for a moment, she slipped her orange panties down her legs and flung them to the floor before she reached for the rabbit vibrator. She stared at it curiously as she returned her phone to her ear. She gazed at the toy’s embedded control panel near its base and pressed the power button. The toy vibrated wildly in her hand and she stared at it in shock, clicking the power button to turn it off.

Chef questioned with a pinch of amusal, “Test run?”

Sugar pursed her lips, annoyed that he knew her too well throughout knowing much about her at all.

She said nothing as she attempted to settle comfortably on the bed. She glided the silicone shaft up and down her wet slit before she pulled it inside, the toy’s ‘rabbit ears’ nestled perfectly on her clit. She gasped at the unfamiliar but delicious sensation of having her clit pressed into while her pussy was filled up. She pressed the power button again and gasped once more much louder as the powerful vibrations hummed into her.

“Oh, god,” she moaned, arching her hips off the bed.

“That’s right, Sugar,” Chef coaxed in her ear from the other end of the line. “Enjoy yourself. You deserve it.”

She thrusted the toy in and out of her. Sounds of pleasure tumbled from her lips while Chef took it upon himself to continue telling the rest of his plan for next Friday.

“You’ll be on top of me, bouncin’ on my cock. Showin’ me exactly how you want to fuck. Settin’ the pace and the rhythm. Usin’ me until you cum on my cock. Would you like that, Sugar?”

“Yes,” she moaned.

“I knew you would,” he said. “You know exactly what you want. That’s what I love about you, honey. You and me are perfect for each other.”

She moaned agreement, plunging the vibrating toy in and out of her faster and harder as her ‘deserved’ orgasm steadily approached.

“I only wanna make you happy, Sugar,” he said. “The question is will you let me?”

She cried out, “Yes, I will.”

A mischievousness wormed its way into his words. “And you’ll let me have complete control over how I’m goin’ make you happy?”

“Yes, Chef, yes!” She was so close.

So, so close.

“Cum for me, Sugar. I wanna hear you scream my name.”

She obeyed him, screaming his real name as she came. Soon, she laid in bed weak, sated, and out of breath. She slipped the vibrator out of her and turned it off, dropping it somewhere beside her on the bed.

“You...tricked...me,” she panted.

“Into screamin’ my name? I accept full responsibility, but I have no regrets. You have the sweetest scream I’ve ever heard. I want to hear it over and over again.”

She shuddered at his words before she got herself together. “No, I mean you tricking me to giving you ‘complete control’ over how you’re going to make me happy.”

A rumbly chuckle caressed her ear canal for a moment. “I accept full responsibility for that too.”

“That’s foul, Chef.” Sugar frowned.

“You’re gonna take back your promise then?”

She clenched her jaw as she thought about it. Obviously, he had something up his sleeve and she was curious to see what he had in store. The fact of the matter she knew for certain that her heart was closed for business. He knew that, but he wanted to try romantic things that dwelled beyond the boundaries of her original conditions, then the only one who would end up hurt would be only him if she entertained the thought and walked away.

For the time being, she would indulge him for the simple fact that he was intoxicating. When she was around him, she felt lightheaded, drunk, and utterly warm.

The way he looked at her.

The way he touched her.

The way he treated her.

She was unable to deny that Miles Thibodeau was the realest man she had ever met. He was comfortable in his own skin. Their lives mirrored in many ways. Both were divorced from estranged ex-spouses. Both suffered through tragedies involving children. Sugar had never stepped foot in the military, she and her siblings grew up as military brats of a Marine father. She witnessed the challenges that Marines—soldiers in general—endured for the sake of their country. Though she knew very little of Chef’s military background aside from what her mother shallowly told her, she still respected him for his service. On top of all that, he was incredibly handsome with a mature swagger that was unavoidable. And his thick Louisianan accent was like a plump raspberry atop of a yummy cheesecake drizzled in white chocolate.

All these things about him made her want to stick around, but she had to remind herself—and him—that she wanted adventurous fun out in the world and physical fun in the bedroom. Nothing more, nothing less.

“No,” she decided. “I won’t take back my promise, but I need to think of a good punishment for your trickery.”

“Oh, I look forward to it,” he returned.

She cocked her head as she laid amongst her pillows.

“Were you turned on at all while I,” she trailed off.

“Were? Still am,” he corrected.

Sugar blinked in surprise, but thoroughly aroused again. “Oh, I…see.”

Damn, she wanted to see.

“Do you want to see?”

Sugar exhaled through her nostrils in frustration at the fact that it felt like he had tapped inside of her mind and read her intimate thoughts all throughout the night.

“If you want to show it to me, I won’t stop you.” She attempted to be nonchalant.

The phone call ended abruptly.

In the meanwhile, Sugar went got the sex toy and went to the bathroom to wash it in the sink. She hated to admit it, but Odette did buy the best birthday gift. However, Sugar was still a little grossed out that her baby sister took the time out of her day to go to a sex shop somewhere in the city and browse through the erotic-filled aisles in search of the “perfect” birthday girl for her “sex-depraved” big sister.

Shaking her head at the thought, she dried off the toy with a hand towel and returned it back to its new home: the inside of her nightstand drawer. After closing the drawer shut, she plopped down onto the bed and picked up her cell. Her eyebrows rose as she realized that she had gotten a text notification that Chef sent her a message around the time she was busily washing the sex in her bathroom sink. She must not have heard it the notification sounds over the rushing faucet water.

Clicking to the string of text message exchanges between the two of them, her jaw dropped and her eyes grew quite large at his latest message.

It was a photo of his long thick very erect cock lying on his defined belly.

“Geez,” she gasped as she ogled the picture.

She reached for the neglected bottle of wine she had left on the nightstand and took three deep, deep, deep gulps.

She didn’t need to be up close and personal to know that Chef was very well-endowed compared to the only other man she knew in that kind of way: her ex-husband, Lance. She had never been one for being a critic of a man’s ‘size’ because Lance was her first and only during all eighteen years of marriage as well as up to this very moment. She knew Lance was on the smaller end of the scale because he often kept slipping out of her when they were intimate with each other. Because she loved him and wanted him to please him, she researched positions to ‘accommodate’ his size after a few years, but he only liked two positions, missionary and doggy, and he refused to compromise. Over time, she realized that it was futile to try different things with Lance. He liked what he liked and he refused to budge.

She nearly jumped out of her skin as Chef called her back.

“Did you have to cleanse your eyeballs after witnessing such a horror?” He repeated the same question she teasingly asked him earlier, but his timbre had very little humor to it.

“No, but I did have to drink some wine to help me process,” she admitted, placing the bottle back onto the nightstand.

“Too much?”

“Wine? No,” she said, shaking her head.

“Not wine. The picture, honey,” he clarified. “Was it too much?”

Sugar chewed on her bottom lip for a moment. “You mean the context of the picture or the size of the, um, thing within the picture?”

He chuckled out a low, rich sound. “Answer both.” 

“Well, it’s a very, uh, compelling picture. I’ve never gotten one like it before, so it definitely sets the standard,” she answered nervously, “and as for the latter question…well, it’s, um, wow.”

“Is it safe to say that ‘it’ meets your approval?”

Sugar then blurted out, “Well, I would have to see it face-to-face for an accurate rating of my appro—oh, my god. I can’t believe I just said that.”

She slapped her hand over her mouth, absolutely mortified. The wine was going straight to her head and making her lips feel loose.

“Don’t be ashamed, Sugar. We’re grown adults. No need to hide what you want to say. You know I don’t hold back.”

Boy, did she!

“I’ll work on it,” she assured.

“Good,” he said.

“I should probably hang up the phone now, so you can handle your, um,” she paused, raking her brain for a proper word, “business.”

He teased throatily, “Thanks for bein’ so considerate.”

“I aim to please,” she returned.

“I look forward to see that face-to-face,” he countered.

Sugar rolled her eyes, unable to hold back her smile. “Good night, Chef.”

“Sweet dreams, Sugar.”

After the call ended, Sugar was too restless to sleep. She turned off her bedroom lights and switched on her television with the help of her remote control, switching through the channels.

She came across an intimate scene in an NC-17 rated movie on a premium network you can only find deep side your satellite dish listings. It was between a trucker and housewife-turned-hitchhiker. They stumbled clumsily into a cheap motel room, kissing each other hungrily while yanking off articles of clothing. The two strangers made love to each other desperately. Sugar sat up against her pillows and headboard, drinking from her bottle of wine completely enthralled by the lengthy erotic scene. When the two lovers laid tangled in bedsheets in engaged in playful tired pillow talk, Sugar had reached the bottom of the bottle.

Sighing heavily, she put the empty bottle on her nightstand and slithered underneath her bed covers. Turning off the television, she laid there in the dark lost in thought over Chef, what occurred tonight, and what would potentially occur next Friday.

Sugar reached for her phone and unlocked it, navigating to her text conversations with Chef, her eyes immediately falling upon the very last thing he sent her. She smiled eagerly at the photo.

She had repeatedly learned the hard way that Chef was mischievous, but next Friday he was going to get a taste of his own medicine.

She plugged up her cell to its wall charger and snuggled comfortably into her bed.

Chef wished her sweet dreams and after her eyelids closed, her mind swam with plenty.

All of them revolved around revenge.



End Notes:

This chapter was so much fun to write! Who knew a phone conversation could be so eventful. They were actin' like youngsters tonight, but they're still grown folk all day long, LOL. Now that pic Chef sent wasn't supposed to be apart of the orginial chapter, but the opportunity was too good to pass up, ya'll. Plus, Chef tricked her into letting him give her some romance. She think she's gonna stay on top of it and keep her heart out of it, but once again, she'll learn the hard way.

I am not sure if the next chapter will center around the Hartwell girls interrogating the official details about Chef OR the Friday date night between Chef and Sugar. I'm curious about your opinions. Either way, Sugar is going to bump into someone. ;) 

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Pre-planning week starts tomorrow, so I am officially back to work. However, I would really like to update Save Me From Myself and potentially, Baby, It's Cold Outside before the end of the week. I did manage to update two stories this weekend. So that is progress, LOL.

Pinterest Board: Sugar Mama by Missus James

Hot Affair Pt. 1 by Missus James
Author's Notes:

June 9, 2017

Sugar goes on her date with Chef.

Mood Music: Special Affair by The Internet

When Mallory sauntered into Sugar’s office announced, she didn’t pay him any mind as she was in the middle of working on the schedule for the week after next like she always did on Fridays. There were some changes that needed to be made. Two waiters wanted to switch shifts. One of her kitchen staff was taking an entire week off for a family reunion in Chicago. One of her evening receptionists now needed Mondays and Wednesday evenings off after deciding to go back to college. Scheduling was like putting mismatched pieces together to make a functioning puzzle. A task, in which, was very time consuming.

However, then Mallory did something surprisingly uncharacteristic by shutting the office door, which caused Sugar to lift her attention from the computer screen and arch an eyebrow at him for a moment. Her baby brother never shut the door by his own accord. Sugar always had to demand it from him and even then, there was no guarantee that he’d do it. She studiously eyed him for a moment, attempting to pinpoint any telltale signs of illness or alien abduction, but Mallory seemed like his normal pestering self so she went back to her original task.

He plopped down in one of the cushioned chairs in front of her office desk, leaned back comfortably, stretched his legs out, and intertwined his fingers, twiddling his thumbs. He gazed at her with a cheesy grin spread wide across his face. It was a grin she knew all too well. It was a perfect warning to her that Mallory had some juicy information about someone somewhere. He had always had that goofy grin on his face since he was a child when he discovered something that was probably none of his business. As a child, he snuck into Odette’s room to read her diary often, blackmailed Rochelle into doing his chores after he caught her sneaking out of the house to make out with some boy down the block, and he secretly picked up a phone somewhere in the house to listen in on Sugar’s phone conversations to her then-boyfriend Lance.

“Weren’t you supposed to leave an hour ago,” he asked, cocking his head to the side.

She was supposed to leave an hour and a half ago, but in between bringing different employees into her office and calling others from her phone to ask if they were willing to do different shifts, she had barely put a dent into creating a suitable schedule.

“I really need to finish this schedule,” Sugar answered.

She smoothly added, “Plus, I have plenty of time.”

That was a big fat lie.

Sugar had very little time to get ready for her thing with Chef. Yes, thing. It wasn’t a date. Labeling it as a date meant that she was potentially interested in future of dating him. She wasn’t. So, she labeled her outing with him as a thing—a very complicated thing.

Mallory untangled his fingers and reached into his pants pocket to pull out his cell. “What did you say you were doing tonight? I forgot.”

“I never said.”

“Hm,” Mallory hummed as he surfed through his phone before he said, “it must be mighty important for you to want to take off early on one of the busiest nights of the week.”

Sugar closed her eyes and sighed, slightly annoyed. “Is there a point to this conversation, Lory? If not, please go somewhere and make yourself useful.”

His goofy smile widened by a mile.

“The point is I know about your boyfriend, Shug,” he admitted calmly as if he had known about it for a while.

Sugar blinked in surprise for a moment at the allegation, but quickly recovered.

“I don’t have a boyfriend,” she assured.

It wasn’t a lie.

“Really?” Mallory lifted an eyebrow before he leaned forward, sliding his cell across the desk for her to take. “Then pray tell who is this?”

Sugar pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes at her baby brother, exhaling through her nostrils in frustration at his annoying presence as she picked up the offered device. The Friendb00k app was open with a someone’s profile plastered on the cell’s lit screen.

Her eyes slowly widened as she stared at a picture of said profile’s owner. It was an older picture having mostly been scanned and uploaded onto a computer. It was a bright summer day at a busy amusement park. A twenty-something-year-old Chef with an adorable toddler girl with the most infectious smile propped on his shoulders. The little girl had bone straight black girl with a blunt bang and wore an iconic Minnie Mouse ear headband. She could see tiny pieces of Chef in the toddler’s face and immediately realized that it was his daughter.

A pang of pain clenched her heart as she reminded herself that the girl in that photo was now dead. Unable to look at the photo, her eyes scanned Chef’s profile details.

Name: Miles Thibodeau

Age: 46 (11/8)

Occupation: Proud ex-Marine, owner of the Salty Marine

Relationship Status: Taken (last updated by user 5/26/17)

Her eyebrows scrunched together as she read his relationship status, focusing on the date in which he updated said status. Why in the hell did he put that he was taken? If he was taken, she surely wasn’t the one who took him. Why did he update that status on the very night he invited her to the Jazzmyne Garden Club? She couldn’t recall any indication she might have given him to assume such a thing so he could trot back home and change his relationship status to taken. On her profile page, her status was single!

However, Chef’s relationship status was the least of Sugar’s concerns now. Her nosy baby brother knew she had a thing with someone. There were only five women knew about it, but she didn’t think any of them would blab about it!

Sugar clenched her jaw. “Was it Odette that told you?”

Out of all the Hartwell siblings, Mallory had a strong bond to Odette. They were the babies of the group with Odette coming in at thirty-three and Mallory was twenty-nine. They were the last ones to leave the Hartwell household long after Sullivan, Sugar, and Rochelle moved out to begin their adult lives in the world. Therefore, it made sense that Odette would tell Mallory about what happened.

“Nope.”

Sugar frowned. “What?”

“It wasn’t Ettie,” Mallory admitted.

She tossed out a far-fetched guess. “Rochelle?”

“Uh-uh,” Mallory replied, shaking his head.

She took an even wilder guess. “Katrina?”

Her baby brother gave her a ‘be serious, sis’ look. They both knew Katrina would take a secret to the grave.

“Then who?”

“Helena.”

Sugar jerked her head back slightly in shock, her face twisting in confusion. “Why would Helena tell you? As a matter of fact, why are you two even talking to each other?”

She would’ve never thought Mallory and Odette’s sister-in-law were that close. It was logical to assume that they were on friendly terms considering their familial relation to Odette, but Sugar would’ve never thought they were close enough to tell other folks’ secrets like they were schoolgirls at a slumber party.

“Me and Helena kick it at a club every sometimes,” Mallory admitted.

Of course, ya’ll do, Sugar thought sarcastically.

The two loved all that clubbing nonsense. 

Sugar closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Please, don’t tell me that Helena is one of your little girlfriends, Lory. Please, tell me you got some common sense.”

“It’s not like that, Shug. We just chill, sip, and dance a little.”

She let out a disgusted gag as she knew exactly what it was like to watch Helena ‘dance a little’. That girl twerked, gyrated, and grinded on the dancefloor like she was in video vixen in a 2002 hip-hop video.

“It’s harmless fun,” Mallory assured with a roll of his eyes. “Helena’s cool to be around, but she’s too wild for me. Though once she settle herself down a bit, mayb—“

Sugar clamped her hands over her ears and chanted desperately, “Lalala! Can’t hear you.”

The very last thing she needed was to visualize Mallory and Helena together in that way. She shuddered in disgust.

Mallory closed his mouth, shaking his head slowly at her.

Sugar dropped her hands. “I don’t want or need to know that.”

“When she starts sipping on that Patron, she can’t hold water on a rainy day. I only asked her about that girls night was since I knew you got sick and couldn’t go. I didn’t think she’d tell me about you getting caught red-handed with your boyfriend.”

“He’s not my boyfriend!”

Mallory sighed heavily, unconvinced. “Then what is he then, Shug?”

“He’s just a friend, Lory. Nothing more, nothing less.”

He gave her a ‘yeah right’ look.

“Look, I ain’t gay or anything, but from ole dude’s pictures on that profile, he got that sexy dark mysterious shit going on with all the muscles and tattoos. No grown woman in her right mind would have him as just a friend, Shug,” Mallory said. “They’d climb on ole dude like a damn jungle gym and do acrobatic shit on his di—“

Immediately, Sugar cut him off. “We’re friends and nothing more, Mallory.”

“But you’re going on a date with him tonight?”

“It’s not a date. It’s just a…friendly meet-up.”

A friendly meet-up that—ten times out of nine—was going to end with her in his bed.

“Well, friend or boyfriend,” Mallory said. “I’m happy for you, Shug. Helena said he’s a cool dude. You deserve some fun, some happiness. There’s no need to be sneaking around everybody’s backs about this except for maybe…”

They shot each other a knowing look and said in unison, “Sully.”

“He can’t know, Lory,” Sugar urged, pointing a finger at him in warning.

Mallory lifted his hands up in defense. “I’m staying out of that one. I’ll cross state lines if I need to when that mess goes down, but videotape it for me, so I can put it on YouTube. I need to get some more followers.”

Sugar gave him an unimpressed look. “I need to get back to work, Lory.”

“You don’t have to do everything, Shug. You’re not Superwoman. I’ll be more than happy to do the schedule myself. I’ve watched you enough to know what to do.”

She bit her bottom lip, shifting hesitant glances between her computer and her baby brother. “Are you sure you can do it, Lory?”

“Absolutely positive,” he assured with a confident grin.

Sugar shot up from her office chair and grabbed her purse hurriedly. “I really, really appreciate it. After you finish the schedule, I need you to—“

“Text it to all the employees,” he finished for her, widening his grin. “Contrary to popular belief, I’m not just a handsome face.”

For once, she actually felt comfortable leaving Mallory in charge of her restaurant, but she still needed to lay down some ground rules. “Do not, I repeat, do not bring your little herd of girlfriends here anymore if you’re gonna give them free desserts and free cocktails until closing, Lory. My restaurant isn’t an all-you-can-eat buffet.”

He defended, “It was for a good cause, Shug. One of the ladies was celebrating her divorce. I was donating on behalf of Sugar Mama to the good cause.” ”

“Well, the only way to donate to a good cause is by giving money. So, I docked your generous donation from your paycheck,” she informed him with a bright smile while his grin diminished from his lips. “Don’t screw with my money and I won’t screw with yours, Lory. Got it?”

Mallory exhaled through his nostrils, annoyed. “Got it.”

“Good,” she said as she rounded her desk and moved towards the door in rushed steps. “I’ll try to call you later tonight.”

“If ole dude doing what he’s supposed to, you won’t be calling at all,” Mallory said in a low grumbly tone that Sugar didn’t hear as she hurried out the door and down the hallway.

She attempted to avoid freeway rush hour traffic by taking the city streets, but she always growled in frustration at getting caught at a red lights and heavy pockets of traffic. However, she did make it home about fifteen minutes sooner than if she had taken the freeway.

She slid her car into the garage and closed the garage door with a quick press of a button before she hopped out of her car and ran into the depths of her house. She quickly peeled off her dress and kicked off her high heels as she made her way to her master bathroom to turn on the shower. She smelled like work: chocolate, cinnamon, and cookie batter. She wanted to smell like a woman, not her restaurant kitchen. She hopped into the shower as the icy water transitioned into a bearable lukewarm temperature in the loosest sense. It took a minute or two for the water to heat up, but by then, she washed herself vigorously and hurriedly with mango-scented body wash. She finished showering in a record time of six minutes. An impressive feat for a woman who showered typically for thirty minutes or longer.

She hopped out of the shower and toweled herself off quickly before she sat down on her bed to lotion herself. Once she was finished, she scurried over to her dresser to retrieve sheer pink lingerie that she had bought earlier in the week specifically for tonight. She enjoyed getting a heated reaction out of Chef. How he looked at her in those moments always warmed her up and made her soaking wet.

After slipping the bra-panty set on, she moved over to the closet and searched through a mountain of stacked shoe boxes for a pair of five-inch chunky-heeled black leather boots. She called them her “spunky” boots. A few years back when one of Lance’s old college buddies had their thirtieth biker-themed surprise birthday party. She painstakingly bought an entire outfit to fit the theme, dolled herself up to look like a chic biker chick, and went to the party, which was a dingy bar. Lance was tasked with the responsibility of deceiving the birthday boy by occupied throughout the day before leading the clueless man into the bar.

The moment Lance laid eyes upon her at the party, he had an absolute fit. According to him, her “spunky” boots were “whore” boots. She didn’t look like a chic biker chick. She looked like a whore that hung out around a biker bar. His comments hurt her terribly even though nearly every single person at the party showered her in compliments and told Lance that he was a lucky man to have her. Back then, she was dumb enough to convince herself that Lance wasn’t the lucky one, she was.

Now, she knew her true worth.

After finishing her boots with a relieved sigh, she escaped the closet with the shoe box and tossed it onto the bed before she resumed the task of getting dressed.

She shimmed into cuffed denim shorts she had borrowed from Helena that fitted her nicely. She slipped on plain tuba socks on her feet before yanking on her spunky boots. She put on a soft pink-and-white striped halter midriff top. She shrugged on an old leather jacket that she used to wear when she first dated motorcycle-riding Lance before rushing to the bathroom. She managed to apply a touch of makeup, but she painted her lips with matte black lipstick.

Then the doorbell echoed throughout the house and her heart stopped.

“Stick to the plan, Sugar,” she told herself in the mirror after taking a deep breath to still her nerves. “No emotions, no romance, just pure fun.”

Making her way to the front door, she unlocked it and opened it slowly.

She opened her mouth to speak, but the words died in her throat as she drunk in the sight of him drinking in the sight of her. His gray eyes started from her spunky boots, traveling up her bare calves and thighs, her shorts that accented her womanly curves and ass, the few inches of bare belly that the pink midriff top allotted, and then her face. He bit on his bottom lip and cocked his head slightly as he swept his eyes over her once more, much slower the second time around—more appreciatively.

Being trapped by his intense gaze was equivalent to having a hot bucket of water dumped over her head.

“Good evening,” she finally said.

“Evenin’,” he returned, slight grin at his lips.

A lengthy moment of silence lingered between them as they stared at each other. A pair of brown eyes glistened with anxiousness while a pair of stormy gray eyes brewed with tempting certainty. She nervously tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. She had given her signature bun a day off and now her hair was loose about her shoulders in wavy curls.

She stepped onto the porch, shutting the door behind her. She reached into her purse to get to her keys, but her fingers lost their grip and they fell to the ground with a jingle, landing at her feet.

Sugar started to bend at the waist to retrieve them, but Chef’s voice made her stop.

“Allow me,” he said, his grin widening a margin more as he squat down to get the recover the fallen keys. He gazed up at her and jiggled the keys a little with playful intent before he rose back up, somehow someway incredibly closer to her than he was before.

“Are you always such a gentleman,” Sugar teased as he handed the keys back to her.

“My grandmama and granddaddy raised me right,” he answered. “It’s a part of who I am.”

She arched an eyebrow at his comment, questions filling her mind. What happened to his parents? Did his parents die when he was young? What was his childhood like in Louisiana? What were his grandparents like? Did he have any other family? Reid had asked him if he had a brother and he said no, but did he have a sister out there somewhere?

“They did a fine job,” she complimented.

“I’m glad you approve,” he said with a slight chuckle.

Sugar turned around to lock the front door. After sliding the key into the key, she froze as she felt Chef’s head dip down and bury his nose into her hair, inhaling deep.

“Mm, you smell good enough to eat,” he said. “Mango?”

She closed her eyes, shuddering.

“Mm hm,” she hummed.

“I like it,” he said huskily.

She gulped, “I’m glad you approve.”

He let out a short but rumbly chuckle at her answer that she had stolen from him. “I gotta be honest with you, Sugar. I’m very mad at you.”

His voice didn’t indicate any sign of anger or displeasure, but after being in an eighteen-year marriage with a man who was volatile but knew how to contain his anger towards her quite well out the world while laughing and smiling charmingly, Sugar immediately became worried. 

Sugar opened her eyes, blinking in confusion. “W-what? Why?”

“I don’t know how you expect me to keep my hands to myself all night while you look so perfect.”

Immediately, her worry melted away and a heavy spike of arousal took its place.

“Who says you have to,” she asked, finally locking the door with a twist of a key. Slipping the key out, she turned to face him again.

Chef arched an eyebrow. “You givin’ me permission then?”

She smiled teasingly. “I thought I already gave you permission on the phone.”

“You sure did, didn’t you,” he replied, his grin widening even more but there was a smug sexiness to it this time around that made her knees weak. She could see his playful mischievousness dancing in his gray eyes.

He leaned his head down a few inches, his face hovering over hers.

In that moment, she thought he was going to kiss her.

She thought he was going to let her experience their first proper kiss.

“We best be on our way before we’re late,” he then said, backing away from her.

Disappointment was a bucket of cold water on her head at the lost opportunity, but she nodded her head as if she agreed with him and took a step forward to leave. However, he grabbed a hold of her hand, which caught her off-guard. Like a gentleman, he escorted her to his Mustang and opened the front passenger door for her.

“Ladies first,” he said, gesturing to the inside of the vehicle.

He helped her inside the Mustang, her hand still in his. Before he let her hand go to close the door, he kissed the back of it and winked at her. She closed her eyes, biting back a sigh. Her heart throbbed violently in her chest as she watched him round the front of the car and slip into the driver’s seat. Soon, the Mustang revved to life and he backed it out of her driveway.

Halfway down the street, his heavy calloused hand found its way to her left knee and cupped it as he stroked back and forth. Goosebumps prickled onto her skin and heat spread across her flesh like wildfire.

She looked over at him.

His attention was locked on the road ahead, but deep down, she knew he was watching her.

A question now burned at the tip of her tongue. “Why didn’t you kiss me at the front door?”

There was a moment of silence. He cocked his head briefly, a thoughtful expression on his face.

“I thought about it,” he admitted.

“I saw you thinking about it,” she returned, “but you didn’t. Why?”

“’Cause if I kissed you, Sugar, I don’t think I would’ve been able to stop myself. Control myself. I would’ve unlocked that damn door myself and carried you back inside, so I can have you all to myself,” he replied, his eyes snapped to hers as he uttered the last word in his statement, his hand inched a little higher.

Breath hitched in her throat before she gulped.

She then said softly, “That would’ve been…interesting.”

“The thought of me makin’ love to you is only interestin’?” There was a pinch of amusal in his voice.

“First off, it wouldn’t be making love. It would be just sex,” she corrected him. “And secondly, yes, it would’ve been very, um…interesting.”

He chuckled for a moment, shaking his head but said nothing.

Deciding to change the subject, she then said, “My younger brother knows about you.”

He arched an eyebrow. “You told him?”

“No, Helena did,” Sugar snorted, rolling her eyes. “He even found your Friendb00k profile and showed me it.”

“And what did you think about it?”

“It was,” she trailed off, searching for a word.

Interesting,” they both said in eerily unison. She shot him a glare and he shot her back a playful grin.

“There was one thing that stood out to me,” she admitted.

“And what was that?”

“Your relationship status,” she answered. “Apparently, you changed your relationship status to taken on the very night you invited me to that jazz club. Care to explain?”

“I am taken,” he replied.

Sugar blinked. “By who?”

“By you, Sugar Magnolia Wallace.”

“We’re not in a relationship, Miles Thibodeau. We have a thing.”

He arched an eyebrow once more. “A thang?”

“Yes, a thing.”

Chef grew quiet for a moment.

“Fine, we have a thang,” he said, his southern voice emphasizing the final word. “Therefore, my relationship status is still accurate.”

Sugar’s brows scrunched. “What? How?”

“Like you said, there’s a thing goin’ on between us. That night at the jazz club you promised me that I’d be the only man in your life and you know that you’re the only woman in mine. Therefore, I’m taken by you as you are by me.”

Sugar opened her mouth to speak, but she didn’t know what to say.

There was undeniable logic to his reasoning, which allowed her to see the flaws of their agreement—of her conditions.

“I suppose in a way,” she trailed off.

As the Mustang eased to a full stop at a red traffic light, then she added matter-of-factly, “For the time being, of course.”

Chef looked over to her with an unreadable expression claiming every inch of his face, but his eyes burned into hers. She shuddered at how he stared at her. For some odd reason, she felt as if there was an unspoken challenge simmering in his gray depths.

In that moment, she realized her words sounded like a threat to a man such as him.

Her heart raced in her chest and she could hear the drumming of her heartbeat in her ears against the terrible silence that loomed into the car.

She cut her eyes away from him, pretending to be interested in the world that thrived outside the confinements of the car. His hand, however, was still on her thigh. A constant reminder of his dominant presence. Soon, the light changed green and the car was set into motion again. She watched the city bathed in night slither by her window, noting familiar street names and various landmarks that gave her a telltale sign of what side of town he was driving to.

The Docks.

They drove through grim streets of the Docks. As they passed side streets, Sugar could see bits and pieces of the river from a few blocks away. Eventually, they drove down a street and turned into a loading area behind a boarded-up warehouse that looked like it had better years. There were lots and lots of cars parked all over the place. There were people of all kinds migrating towards a rusted entrance door elevated on a set of concrete steps.

“This is it,” she asked with scrunched eyebrows.

He said nothing as he got out the car and went around to open hers, offering his hand. She hesitantly took it and stepped out of the car. Was he angry or upset at her for what she said? Why did she feel so guilty?

She waited for him as he retrieved a duffel bag from his trunk.

“Do you come here often,” she asked, desperately wanting to break the silence.

“Not as often as I used to,” he answered as he shut the trunk hood.

She nearly sighed in relief when he willingly spoke to her. Maybe, she was overreacted. Maybe, he wasn’t mad at her after all.

“Can you help me understand why people like getting beat up for fun,” she asked teasingly with a weak smile, trying to lighten the mood.

“That ain’t the reason why folks box,” he replied as they slowly made their way across the loading area and towards the warehouse.

She crossed her arms, intrigued to learn more. “Then what is the reason?”

“Boxin’ ain’t just about two people punchin’ each other until somebody falls. Boxin’ requires strategy, thought, and plannin’. It’s almost like chess. You always gotta try be one step ahead of your opponent. You gotta find their strengths and weak spots. Boxin’ exercises you physically and mentally,” he said. “That’s why folks love it.”

He added with a slight grin, “Beatin’ them up is just a nice bonus.”

Sugar couldn’t help but giggle.

They walked up the steps and Chef opened the creaking rusted metal door for her. She walked in first, immediately in awe at what she saw. At the center of the hollowed warehouse was an elevated spacious boxing ring with thick crowd of rowdy people surrounding it, cheering and booing as two men battled it out. An industrial spotlight shined upon the boxing ring for everyone to see the violence. Whoever owned the warehouse took it upon themselves to station a functional and fully stocked bar against a far concrete wall.

“You thirsty,” Chef shouted to her over the roar of the crowd.

Sugar nodded. “A drink would be nice!”

Chef took ahold of her hand, leading her through the crowd and toward the bar. There were three bartenders manning the counter and one of them was a familiar face.

“Ain’t this a surprise,” Gizzard shouted with a grin as he approached them from the other side of the counter. “It’s good to see you again, Ms. Sugar!”

She smiled at him. “It’s good to see you too, Mister…Gizzard!”

Gizzard nodded to Chef in acknowledge. “Boss!”

“Anything she wants, put it on my tab,” Chef replied loudly.

Gizzard winked. “Absolutely and I’ll be sure to add a thirty or forty percent tip to that total. I’ll let you decide.”

Chef smirked at the older man’s words before he leaned down to speak in Sugar’s ear. “Gizz’ll take good care of you. I gotta go suit up. I’m up after this match.”

When he pulled back, she kissed him on the cheek. “A kiss for good luck!”

He gave her one last look before he left, disappearing into the crowd.

She returned her attention back to Gizzard, who eyed her with amusement and intrigue. He was probably wondering how in the hell did she and his boss end up together.

“What would you like, Ms. Sugar,” he questioned.

“I’ll take a Sex on the Beach,” she ordered.

“Comin’ right up,” Gizzard said with a nod and turned to make a drink.

Someone shoved their way between Sugar and a man who was standing beside her at the counter. It was an impatient woman who clapped her hands rudely to get Gizzard’s attention.

“Excuse me, I need a Vegas Bomb! Scale back the ice and heavy on the whisky. Top shelf only,” the woman ordered, “and I’ll know if you try can skim me on the whisky.”

“I’ll be right with you after I finish this order, ma’am,” Gizzard said though his face was twisted sourly at the woman’s impolite attitude.

“Then maybe you should get to that order instead of wasting your time staring at me with your beady damn eyes,” the woman hissed.

Sugar dropped her jaw at the woman’s audacity and took a good look at her. The familiarity of the woman’s face was too strong to ignore even if a poorly lit place like this. She cocked her head in confusion before she widened her eyes as she finally recognized the woman.

“Mariah?”

Mariah jerked her head in Sugar’s direction with a look of surprise on her face.

“Wh-wh-what are you doing here,” Mariah demanded to know, frantically glancing around their surroundings as if she were on the lookout for any other witnesses with familiar faces. 

“I’m here with a friend,” Sugar answered, arching an eyebrow at the woman’s odd behavior that could only be described as guilty.

Though already knowing the answer, she still asked, “Is Lance here too?”

This place was not Lance’s cup of tea. He loved glitz and glam and this place was most certainly neither of those things. She thought Mariah lived by the same standards, but apparently not.

“No, I’m with a friend myself,” Mariah replied, shaking her head before she slapped her hand on the counter impatiently multiple times to get Gizzard’s attention. “Hurry the fuck up!”

Sugar narrowed her eyes at Mariah. “Stop talking to him like that. He’s going as fast as he can.”

Mariah scoffed, rolling her eyes. “I can do or say whatever I want to whoever I want and no one, including your pathetic ass, is going to stop me.”

Then a tall buff dark-skinned man approached Mariah from behind, wrapping his arms around her waist. “What’s taking so long, babe?”

Mariah stiffened, horror drenching her beautiful face.

Sugar’s eyes flickered between her ex-husband’s young wife and the woman’s ‘friend’, a smile spreading across her lips. The irony in this whole situation was both sad and utterly delicious to consume.

“Aren’t you going to introduce me to your friend, Mariah,” Sugar asked, batting her eyelashes innocently. When the young woman didn’t respond right away, Sugar immediately extended her hand for the handsome football-player-looking man to accept in a handshake. The man looked so familiar, but she couldn’t for the life of her pinpoint where she had seen him before.  

“I’m Sugar. Mariah and I know each other quite well,” she introduced proudly with a beaming smile. “And you are?”

The man’s eyes widened slightly, overtly uncomfortable by the whole situation.

“Erm, Renard,” he introduced, uncurling an arm around Mariah’s waist and shaking Sugar’s hand hesitantly.

Renard?

Another clue of familiarity that sent her brain scrambling for explanation.

Where did she hear that name from?

As she shook his hand, she immediately noticed an engraved wedding band on his ring finger. Her delight in the situation crumbled now that she knew there was a wife somewhere at home, wondering and worrying where her husband was. Even after homewrecking a marriage to get married herself, Mariah was still chasing after married men.

Gizzard put her drink on the counter.

“Here’s your Sex on the Beach,” he said before turning his attention to Mariah. “Your Vegas Bomb is up next.”

“Forget it,” Mariah said, shaking her head frantically. “I changed my mind. Let’s go.”

Then Mariah dragged the man into the crowd.

Sugar turned around to face Gizzard, shaking her head as she took a deep gulp of her mixed drink.

A drunk man beside Sugar asked Gizzard. “Hey, Gizz! Was that Renard Edwards I just saw with that hottie?”

Gizzard nodded. “Sure was.”

Sugar scrunched her eyebrows together. “Who is Renard Edwards?”

The drunk man looked at her in shock as if she asked him to sacrifice his firstborn son. “Renard Edwards is a wide receiver for the River City Serpents.”

Sugar blinked. “He’s a professional football player?”

“One of the best wide receivers in the league. Just re-signed a contract last year that put seventeen cool mil in his wallet,” Gizzard informed.

Mariah got what she wanted after all. A football player with a bigger dick than Lance’s and an astronomically bigger wallet.

She sipped on her drink, attempting to find an ounce of sympathy for Lance, but she couldn’t find none. The only one she felt sorry for was Lance and Mariah’s son, who was no doubt already suffering from having two selfish arrogant parents. However, if Lance and Mariah were to divorce once the truth came out then that poor child would be nothing more than a trophy to be won. If the truth came out, but it wouldn’t be by her lips. Trotting around the city with a pro football player would eventually gather the attention of someone wielding a smartphone.

After Sugar finished her mixed drink, she ordered another one and sipped at it, lingering near the bar as she observed the eighth and final round of the match from a safe distance. The round ended with clean forceful punch from a Hispanic man that knocked the other opponent, a white man, out. The referee did a mandatory eight count before declaring the standing boxer as a winner.

Once the boxing ring was cleared, the names of the next boxers were announced and the crowd roared and cheered terribly loud that Sugar’s ears began to ring, but her heart pounded violently at the mention of Chef’s name. A few pockets of people scattered about the warehouse chanted his name and others chanted the name of his opponent, Filthy Rich.

She squeezed her way through the massive crowd, slowly journeying closer and closer towards the boxing ring for a better view as the two men entered the ring and stationed themselves in their designated corners. Chef rolled his shoulders and craned his neck from left to right. He was bare-chested with royal blue boxing shorts and black gloves on his hands. Even from a distance, Sugar could tell he was ready for battle.

Filthy Rich, a light-skinned buff black man that was most definitely twenty years Chef’s junior, knocked his gloves together and shouted something tauntingly that couldn’t be heard over the sea of cheering people. Chef wasn’t fazed by it. When the boxers were called to the center of the ring, they put their stances.

When the first round began with a ring of a bell, they circled each other like predators until Filthy delivered the first hit. Chef dodged smoothly and took the opportunity to develop a clean jab to the face that knocked Filthy’s head backwards from the pure force. Filthy stumbled, but recovered with ease. They punished each other with brutal punches that made Sugar wince every single time, but Chef did a lot of dodging and blocking. He was holding back, but she couldn't for the life of her understand why. She inched closer and closer to the boxing ring, but the crowd was massive and thick, it wasn’t until the fourth round did she manage to get to a good spot. She decided not to move any further. There were about ten people between her and the fight now.

Filthy gave Chef a forceful punch that sent him against the ropes, but Chef bounced back with impressive timing and a cold hardened expression that she witnessed from where she stood. It frightened and thrilled her all at once. To return the kindness, Chef awarded his opponent with four deep hits in the gut, which made Filthy hunch over for a moment. Chef took a step backwards as if he were allowing his opponent to recover. In moments, Filthy was back upright and ready for war.

Watching Chef box was like watching art in motion. Pale tattooed flesh glistening under the harsh spotlight. Toned muscles flexing and rippling with every powerful hit he delivered and received. He absorbed violence inflicted on him well and barely reacted to it. There wasn’t much thought behind Filthy Rich’s method. He attacked when he saw any opening, but he didn’t think ahead like he was supposed to. He was opportunist, not a strategist like Chef and it showed it.

Filthy used brute force every single time, which was effective strategy during the beginning rounds, but Sugar could tell that as the rounds wore on, Filthy was tiring himself out. A boxer like him probably won fought in the beginning rounds using his brutal force, but paired with an opponent like Chef, his fighting philosophy was to be his ultimate downfall and Sugar had a strong suspicion that Chef sniffed out Filthy’s weakness from the very beginning.

Sugar smiled as Chef rained precise hard punches on Filthy who in turn attempted to return the favor, but his delivery was desperate and sloppy the more he struggled on.

Barely a minute into the fight the seventh round, Chef hurled a nasty blow to the face that caused Filthy to collapse. The referee did an eight count, but Filthy laid on the ground in utter defeat. When the referee declared a panting Chef the winner, there was a thunderous mix of cheers and disapproval. Sugar’s excited scream blended seamlessly into the masses. She jumped up and down, completely ecstatic by his victory.

Once Chef left the ring, Sugar decided to go to the restroom to pee. Fighting her way through the rowdy crowd, she managed to find the restroom after asking someone to point her in the right direction. Eventually, she made it to the restroom and when she was finished, she washed her hands. In the mirror, she saw another restroom stall door open and Mariah emerge from it.

Her ex-husband’s wife walked up to the sinks and turned on the faucet. “Look, Sugar. This whole situation is compli—“

“Don’t,” Sugar cut her off. “I don’t need or want to know. It’s none of my business and I don’t want it to be my business. Alright?”

Mariah clenched her jaw, eying Sugar as if she were trying to sniff an ill intent or truth. “Fine with me.”

“Good,” Sugar said, giving a curt nod. “Enjoy the rest of your evening.”

She went to the restroom door and opened it, but paused for a moment, looking over her shoulder. “By the way, Mariah, if I see you disrespect someone else in front of me again like you did, your pathetic ass will be unconscious on the ground. So, you better watch your mouth.”

Then Sugar left the young woman alone in the restroom to contemplate her words.

She decided to return the very place Chef had left her, so he could find her easily when he was ready. She sparked up good lengthy conversation with Gizzard centering around her parents while he served up drinks to thirsty patrons.

“Here comes the man of the hour,” Gizzard suddenly announced with a proud grin.

Sugar looked over her shoulder to see fully dressed Chef make his way towards the bar with his duffel bag. Gizzard offered him a glass bottle of beer.

“On the house from yours truly,” Gizzard said with a wink.

“Appreciate the thought, but I’d rather crack a cold one at home with good company,” Chef said, eying Sugar intently as he spoke. She bit down on her bottom lip, trying her absolute hardest to be unaffected by his words while her brain made a list of what being ‘good company’ would mean on this night.

Gizzard nodded with a grin and a wink. “Sounds like a plan. You two enjoy yourself then.”

Then the older man walked off to tend to some customers.

They made their way outside. The air was thick with humidity and very hot. An annoying ring echoed in Sugar’s ears from being exposed to continuous screaming. She crossed her arms over her chest as they walked side-by-side.

“Congratulations on your victory,” she commended, unable to hold back a smile. “Color me very impressed.”

“I’ve won plenty of matches over the years, but impressin’ you is a victory I’m most proud of,” Chef said as he shot her sexy grin before licking his lips.

Sugar giggled, shaking her head.

She felt warm and fuzzy at his words.

“Thank you for inviting me tonight,” she replied. “It was fun.”

“You talkin’ like the night is over and it’s time to say goodbye. It’s not,” Chef replied. “The night is far from over, Sugar. You know that right?”

Her heart raced with statement.

“I know,” she admitted.

“Good ‘cause I’m gonna take you home,” he replied.

{}{}{}{}

The Mustang cruised down a lonely county highway that weaved and slithered through the countryside. They were ten minutes from the city limits and thirty minutes from the Docks. There were country homes, farms, and thick acres of woods all along the landscape bathed in moonlight. Sugar had always wondered what kind of home did a man like Chef go to each night and though she hadn’t seen his house yet, the area in which they were driving through was another piece to a puzzle centering entirely around him. It made sense that he’d live in the country. Though she knew very little about his past, she could tell he was a southern country boy and raised as such since the day he was born.

Eventually, he slowed the car down and turned onto a gravel driveway that led into a small patch of woods. At the end of the driveway was a beautiful one-story ranch house resting on an impressive piece of cleared land that spanned for acres and acres.

“You live here all by yourself?” She blinked, absolutely in awe.

The car eased to a stop in front of the house. “For the most part, but not entirely. I get visits from old friends and family a lot. Most of the time, they’re just passin’ through and visit for a day or two. My two goddaughters in college and their little friends come here for mini getaways all the time. They make good use of the pool and jacuzzi in the back.”

“Sounds like a revolving door,” Sugar said.

“It can be,” he admitted, “but I don’t mind it much. It’s nice not havin’ to walk into an empty home all the time.”

Sugar bit her bottom lip for a moment before she said softly, “Well, your home won’t be empty tonight.”

His gray eyes locked on hers. “You’re right. It won’t.”

About seven minutes later, Sugar was sitting on a comfortable couch in Chef’s family room while he was in the kitchen fixing them some drinks. He returned into the room with a glass of white wine, offering it to her.

“Thanks,” she said with a weak smile as she accepted it.

She cocked her head at him when she noticed he didn’t have a drink for himself. “Nothing for you?”

“I’m gonna go take a quick shower,” he replied with a slight grin.

Can I come too, she asked mentally.

“In the meanwhile, feel free make yourself at home,” he encouraged.

Sugar nodded. “Thanks.”

When he left the room, she gulped down the wine quickly and shot up from the couch to go into the kitchen to pour herself another glass.

Once her wine glass was refilled, she wandered about the front of the house drinking in the clues and details of Chef’s life. There were pictures all over the walls. A rich mixture of old and new.

As she stood in the hallway outside the kitchen, she cocked her head as she looked at an aged photo of a cheerful curly black-haired young boy with his hands in the air while he sat on a diner counter with a chef hat cocked on his head. Another older man, most likely his grandfather, grinned proudly behind the counter. On the man’s crisp white apron was a massive bold black cursive logo that read Thibodeau’s.

Then the realization hit her.

The child in the photo was Chef. He couldn’t’ve been no more than four or five years old at best. Not only that, but being a restaurant owner was in his blood.

She turned her attention to another picture, sipping on her wine. It was a professional photo of thirty-something-year-old Chef in his formal Marine uniform with a perfected stony expression.

Another photo that caught her interest was one of a twenty-something-year-old Chef kissing the forehead of a gorgeous but exhausted-looking redhead woman who laid in a hospital bed cradling a newborn baby.

“Alicia was in labor for 47 hours.”

Sugar nearly jumped out of her skin at the fact that Chef was directly behind her and she didn’t even notice his arrival. “That’s a very long time.”

“I almost lost them both. Alicia went into cardiac arrest. I was right there in the room when it happened. They kicked me out and I was scared out of my mind, but they were to stabilize her. Then they did to do an emergency C-section ‘cause Melina’s heartbeat was too weak from all the stress. Alicia hated my guts for a while. Then again, she hated me the whole pregnancy,” Chef said, rubbing the back of his neck with a thoughtful look on his face.

Sugar turned her attention back to the photo. “Why was that?”

“We were newlyweds goin’ through a rough patch. Alicia was always homesick, but we moved often. We were on the verge of splittin’ for good by her goin’ back stateside, but she thought she came down with a bad stomach bug and went to the doctor. Found out then and there she was pregnant. The problem was Melina wasn’t planned. Alicia didn’t want kids and took birth control religiously, but when her mother died in a terrible car accident around that time, takin’ the pills weren’t on the forefront of her mind,” Chef explained. “We made up like most couples do ‘cause I knew we couldn’t split when she was sufferin’ through a tragedy.”

“I hope I ain’t borin’ you with my stories,” he then added, a pinch of amusal in his voice.

“You’re not boring me at all,” she admitted, shooting him a warm smile over her shoulder.

It was nice learning more about him and his past.

Mallory was right.

Chef seemed had a mysterious air to him and yet as she truly got to know him, she soon realized that he was an open book. Or at least, he trusted her enough to want to open up.

He shared a few more stories about various pictures on his wall. They laughed a few smiles and laughs with each other, but eventually found themselves back in the family room. This time around Chef did have a cold bottle of beer in his hand. He watched her intently from the other side of the couch, a small sea of space between them. Sugar sipped on her wine as she watched him right back.

The sexual tension between them was incredibly palpable. She could feel it in the air like a steady current of electricity and it made her tiny hairs all over her body stand on end.

“When are you gonna let me taste you, Sugar?”

Sugar nearly choked on her wine.

“I’m sorry?” Maybe, she misheard him.

“I asked when are you gonna let me taste you,” he repeated smoothly before he brought the bottle of beer to his lips. The ball was in her court now and they both knew that. 

Now, her body hummed through and through with excitement. “You can do it right now. I’m not going to stop you.”

He chuckled throatily at her words, leaning forward to place his beer on the coffee table in front of the couch. She took two big gulps of wine, draining the glass before she put it down on the coffee table as well.

Chef closed the distance between them, resting his arm along the back of the couch. He dipped his head down and she tilted her head up to meet him halfway, screwing her eyelids shut. Chef pressed his lips against hers, eagerly sliding his tongue into her parted lips. She moaned at the invasion, greeting his tongue with her own. At first, the kiss was soft and tender, but soon, it became more passionate and hungry. Sugar reached up, cupping the side of his bearded face as their mouths and tongues worked together in a feverish tempo.

Sugar didn’t want it to end, but Chef pulled back slightly, so they could breathe.

Her eyes were half-closed and she was completely hypnotized by what transpired.

Already addicted to kissing him, she boldly straddled him, raised up on her knees to tower over him, and grabbed a possessive hold of his chin as she dominated his mouth with her own. Sugar had no idea where the burst of uncharacteristic courage came from, but she embraced it as she kissed him roughly. A groan rumbled in his chest and he slid his calloused hands along the backside of her bare thighs and upwards the curve of her ass.

She needed him bad and it made her feel so good to know he felt the exact same way.

Finally, they broke the kiss to catch their breath.

Now very thirsty, she looked over her shoulder to the coffee table, pouting when she realized she had downed every last drop of her wine. She reached out and retrieved Chef’s beer bottle, sitting herself fully on his lap as she took a very generous gulp.

Chef chuckled slightly. “I thought you were a beer kind of gal.”

She put the beer down where it was and turned her full attention back to where it needed to be: on him. She leaned forward, brushing her lips against his teasingly.

“Tonight, I’m anything I want to be.”

A beer kind of gal.

A bold confident woman.

A woman hungry for all he had to offer.

“And what do you want to be tonight, Sugar?”

She gave him a soft closed-mouth kiss, just wanting to savor the closeness of him and how good his lips felt against hers. She wanted to thrust her tongue into his mouth for another taste, for another frenzy moment of passion to succumb to, but it took every ounce of her to hold back.

“Yours, Chef, yours,” she whispered in a near-desperate tone.

She wanted him so badly, her entire body was throbbing and aching.

Chef let out a gruff growl and quickly stood up from the couch, anchoring her against him with a strong grip of her thighs’ undersides. She squealed at the suddenness of it all, immediately wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his waist. Unable to wait any longer, she smashed her lips into his and plunged her tongue into the warm depths of his mouth, twirling it around his tongue hungrily while he marched them into the depths of his house.

 

Final destination: his bed.  

End Notes:

Look, ya'll. Don't get mad. I had to stop it there 'cause this update is nearly 9K! That's like two updates in one! If I continued their first time together, that would've been like 11k-12k all together. So, there is a part 2 to this special affair. It will be raunchy as hell. I ain't gonna lie. Sugar is gonna be a different person in that next chapter and Chef is going to show A LOT more of his dominant side too.

I wanted to give a nice big update before the first day of school starts tomorrow. My final salute to the end of summer for me. 

I am surprised that I wrote so much between these last three days because it's been ABSOLUTE drama at my school regarding that heifer.

Anyways, feedback is greatly appreciated. 

Have a wonderful Sunday and keep an eye out for Hot Affair Pt. 2! :D

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