Nate fixed me a tall glass of icy heaven. “Earlier you said your surname is ‘Marsh’? Don’t tell me you married Alley Cat.”

My ex got that nickname because he was an infamous ladies’ man in high school. Sam briefly had his dibs with all the pretty girls in Bellwood. But he went steady with me when we were dating. In his youth, Sam was very attractive and athletic; all girls swooned around him, me included.

I sighed. “Not anymore.” As much as I wanted to sound normal, the tone of my voice carried a twang of bitterness.

Nate cocked an eyebrow. “Not anymore? Divorced?”

“Yeah. We’re getting it finalized.”

“That’s a shame considering you’ve been together for so long. Like, what… fifteen years?”

“Twenty,” I corrected then took a sip of tea.

“Is that why you came back to Bellwood?”

I nodded.

“I heard he was doing well—a big shot lawyer in New York or something.”

“He is.”

Nate studied me. I could tell my reluctant answer ignited more questions than I was willing to answer. He saw my battered car parked at the curb, and yet I’d told him that my soon-to-be ex was a well-to-do attorney.

I toyed with whether I should tell Nate the whole story, but it didn’t seem appropriate.

I’d caught Sam with his new flame in flagrante delicto. In our house. In our marriage bed. I’d put up with his fidelity issues over the years. I loved Sam, and I didn’t want to give up on our marriage willy-nilly. Therapy and counseling usually worked. For a while. Then Sam reverted to his womanizing ways again. Over the years, I’d deluded myself with illusions that somehow, some day, Sam would outgrow his nasty hobby and fully devote himself to me because he was the only man for me, and we were meant to be together.

Lord, was I wrong. You couldn’t change a person’s personality. Many women blindly rushed into marriage, obliviously thinking they could somehow reform their bad boys into dream husbands.

On that fateful night, I’d finally had enough. I couldn’t take the constant torture he put me through. Like he did it just to hurt me. I kicked him and his slut out of the house and filed for a divorce the next day.

A month later, when we were negotiating a settlement in my lawyer’s office, Sam brought his new girlfriend over to rub it in my face. It hurt so much, I could no longer bear it. I said I didn’t want anything from him other than his signature on the divorce papers.

My lawyer objected, but I was persistent. I tried to save the last ounce of pride I had left. I packed my bags and left the rest behind. I didn’t even take anything Sam bought me. The cars, jewelry, or our joint accounts. I pawned my wedding ring and a bracelet that was on my person. I used the money to buy the Chevy and had a little leftover to support me until I could find a decent job. And that wasn’t going well either. The only job I was able to find was part-time waitressing in a family restaurant. The rent alone almost engulfed the entire meager paycheck.

I dreaded working in that restaurant because the wives of Sam’s colleagues liked to drop by just so they could be snide to me. Normally those bitches would never set foot in the type of restaurant where I was working, but they started coming just because they wanted to see how far the wife of a partner in the firm had sunk.

I found the housekeeper vacancy by accident. A live-in housekeeper sounded like a solution to all my problems. And it was in Bellwood.

Nate covered my hand with his and squeezed gently. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to pry. It’s just we haven’t met in a long time, and I’m dying to know everything about you.”

“Maybe some other time?”

“Yeah. Some other time,” he echoed. “How about I show you to your new quarters?”

“You mean I got the job? Just like that?”

“If your cooking is as good as I remember, then yes, we’d be happy to have you back. It’ll be just like the old times.” Nat clasped his hands in delight, looking excited. “I can’t wait to tell Luke and Jamie about this. They’ll be ecstatic! We’re getting tired of eating Jamie’s horrible food or eating out. Between us, he’s the only one who has the guts to venture beyond a grilled cheese sandwich or macaroni and cheese. Luke can’t cook for shit, and I burn water.” Copyright 2016 - 2024