Prologue to Summer Maintenance (Releases June 25th)

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SUMMER MAINTENANCE reveal

Summer Maintenance (SAMPLE)

(A Happy Ending Resort Novella #5)

Written By: Jennifer Foor

Copyright © Jennifer Foor JMF PUBLISHING INC. 2015

This book is a written act of fiction. Any places, characters, or similarities are purely coincidence. If certain places or characters are referenced it is for entertainment purposes only. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. This book is not allowed to be offered for sale, discounted, or free on any sites not authorized by the author. This book may only be distributed by Jennifer Foor, the owner and Author of this series.

Sharing this book is illegal, and doing so will grant you the guilt of forever being a douchebag to society. Don’t be THAT person everyone hates. Purchase a copy and feel good about your choices.

Prologue

It happened so fast. The haze of it all hadn’t yet hit me. We were having a good time, celebrating our future. The night was just beginning.

We were a family; still young but tight bonded. Nothing was ever supposed to tear us apart.

Nothing.

I struggled to break free from the officer’s strong hold. Discontent filled his eyes as I was being drug from the room of the crime toward the front yard. “Please. Let me see my wife,” I continued to beg. “Stop it. I didn’t do this. I would never hurt her. You’ve got to believe me. He’s lying. I swear I wouldn’t hurt her. Get off of me.”

He yanked me along. “Keep your mouth shut, junkie, or I’ll give you a fucking reason to stay quiet.”

Junkie. That’s what he’d called me. The proof of my addiction still sat on the kitchen table; the bent spoon, lighter, and bag of crack. I couldn’t deny it, so I stayed quiet. We didn’t do it all the time, just on special occasions.

Blood – there was so much of it. Crimson colored spatter was now the backdrop behind the sofa, and surrounding walls. I still felt dizzy from my high. The batch we’d purchased had been stronger than we were used to. I never even knew we had company until it was too late.

While I was being forced outside, I couldn’t get my body to catch up to the swift jerks the officers were pushing me to make.

“I need to see her. I have to know she’s going to be all right. I didn’t do anything,” I announced while feeling my face being shoved into the smooth metal window frame of the vehicle. “Please, just let me see her. I need to be there. Where is my daughter? Callie! Callie!” Out of the corner of my eye I saw a female carrying my young child in her arms. My daughter’s gaze found mine, her cheeks covered in wet tears.

She’d been in the room during the altercation. She’d seen it firsthand – the fact that none of this was my fault – how I wasn’t the person to cause this – how her mother had been caught in the crossfire.

She was scared, and although being carried – completely alone. She needed her daddy, and I refused to stop trying to get to her.

I felt a baton being shoved into my back. “You don’t deserve to be a father. I’m not going to tell you again, shut the fuck up!”

I ignored the cop. He could threaten me as much as he wanted. Nothing would stop me from reaching out to my child. “Baby, it’s going to be okay. Daddy will fix this,” I yelled so she could hear me.

I heard her calling out for me. “Daddy. I want my daddy.”

The cuffs they’d put my wrists in were digging against my skin, tight and inflicting pain. While having them behind my back, I wasn’t able to wipe away my clouded vision in order to be able to see her clearly. “I’ll make it right, baby.”

The officer pressed my head against the window more, but said nothing.

Peering through the glass, I saw medics pulling a gurney out of the front door of our place. A white sheet was covering the body, and blood had already started seeping through the thin fabric.

Her blood.

My beautiful wife, who had been happy moments before.

She was underneath that sheet.

Not moving.

Adrenaline filled me, causing a reaction of heightened strength. I jerked away from the officer and went running, hands fixed in cuffs behind my back, toward the body. “No, no, no!” I knew very well what a covered head meant. As I fought to stay on my feet, darting toward them, flashes of what had transpired ran through my drug inflicted mind. Utter disgust overwhelmed me.

The feel of the gun discharging vibrated off my skin, exactly the way it had when it went off. Aside from the sound of the shot fired, the room went silent, followed by heavy screams, mostly mine. I watched my wife’s body flail backwards, blood spatter covering what was behind her, and then she fell limp on the ground. While struggling to fight my way free and get control of the firearm, her brother took his elbow and clocked me between the eyes. Bright flashes of lights were all I could see while he took full hold of the weapon, cocking it into my temple, while calling out for his sister to respond.

In the far corner I saw her, my beautiful little girl, her dark hair still in a pink bow, the matching dress splattered in brain matter and red splotches.

So much blood, now seeping into a pool next to my wife’s head. I went to rush to her side, only to feel the pressure of the gun reminding me to remain still. “Don’t you fucking move.” He was on a phone, calling someone to come right away. It was hard to listen to him when I couldn’t control my own emotions.

I raised both hands, my gaze falling on the grotesque sight of my wife. Her eyes blinked slowly, never leaving mine, a huge chunk of her head exposed from the blow. She was running out of time.

“Call for an ambulance, you son of a bitch! Get help. Please, help her. God damn it, Shawn, she needs me.”

He shoved me down with his foot, keeping it there so I couldn’t get up. “Go in your room, Callie girl,” he ordered.

“Don’t listen to him, baby. Stay here with Daddy.”

The sound of sirens were in the distance. One of the neighbors must have heard the commotion and then the shot. Help was on the way. They’d lock her brother up for this. He’d brought the gun into our home. He’d caused this to happen. He’d wrestled me to the ground causing the weapon to fire. This was his fault.
“Help is coming, Cal,” I whispered, finally succumbing to the fact that my wife was dying only feet away from me.

I’d made it almost to the body covered in the white sheet before I was thrown onto the concrete in front of the gurney. With no way to reach out for her, I gave up the fight. She had expired. My wife was dead. My daughter was being escorted away.

This couldn’t be happening. She was young, beautiful, and an honest person. She’d never hurt anyone in her life. She needed to be there to help me raise Callie. We needed her.

It was too late.

She was gone.

I thought back to that night again with the same remorse as when it happened so many years ago. Nothing had been resolved. I’d never get back that night, or the years to follow.

My daughter – the one I hadn’t seen since the trial, had grown up without her parents.

She’d never know how much I’d fought to be with her, because my wife’s family wouldn’t have it.

She’d never know how sorry I was for what happened on that night, even though I wasn’t the person to bring the gun into the home.

She’d never be able to understand that I never stopped loving her, not even when I knew she’d given up on me.

I still couldn’t believe fifteen years had passed since that terrible night; fifteen grueling years of wondering if I’d ever get a second chance, if I’d ever see her again.

How does a broken man get back what he lost long ago? When is it too late to continue trying? What happens when hope is lost?

I watched as she climbed out of her little silver compact car and walked up her porch steps. Her black hair blew in the crisp afternoon breeze, her petite body nothing like I remembered before it all happened. It had been ten years since I’d even seen a picture of her, but I’d know that smile anywhere. While gripping the steering wheel like it was the only thing keeping me together, I saw her body disappearing into the small trailer. My heart hurt that this was all she could afford; that her future wasn’t as glamorous as I’d always hoped it would be.

To be honest, I don’t know what hurt me more.

The fact that I hadn’t been there to watch her grow into the young, beautiful woman she clearly was, or possibly the fact that I was the reason she had to squander through life with little resources.

It was a shame that one single moment in time; one action, provoked by both fear and rage, had taken away what could have been.

I’d wept over this more times than I cared to admit. Helpless, behind steel bars, day after day, week after week, year after year, I’d felt them slipping away from me, until there was nothing left but a memory.

How does one say they are sorry, when they can’t do anything to repent for their sins? I’d tried to make amends. I’d written countless letters, called every number I could find on them, reached out to family, neighbors, and friends, but they were gone, much like that future I no longer remember dreaming about.

It’s one thing to be buried in the ground with a death certificate to prove you’re never coming back. For someone to single-handedly wish that for your fate is another.

My marriage, our commitment before God and everyone we cared about, gone without an ounce of consideration. Our life; our daughter’s happiness, replaced with hate and remorse.

How was I to approach her now? I’d ruined her life. I’d taken away everything a little girl would dream of having. How would she ever be able to look at me with nothing but despair and loathing?

There were no prayers left to help me; no silver lining to reach for, my life ended the day that prison sentence was delivered. I hadn’t only lost my freedom, a blossoming career and future, my family that I got up and worked hard for every damn day; I’d lost myself.

Seeking forgiveness was something I’d never be able to grasp. One can’t forgive such devastating repercussions. There are no take-backs. What had become of my life was mine to bear alone. I wouldn’t begin to drag her down in my misery.

Somehow – someway I’d be a part of her life, even if it was from a distance, even if I had to watch from afar to make sure she would always be looked out for.

I’d like to think of it as being her guardian angel, though I knew that title wasn’t fit for someone like me.

I glanced over at the clock on the screen of the old Ford pick-up truck I’d bartered to obtain, realizing it was time to forge forward with my permanent plan. Fixing lawn mowers and other small machines had given me enough money to make my way here. I didn’t care if the motor of this vehicle locked up and the frame collapsed. I was where I needed to be now. This was my plan all along. I was within walking distance of the life I’d left behind. It didn’t matter what extremes I’d gone through to get here, or how I’d had to change. I’d never get back what I missed. I’d never see her lose her first tooth, read her stories before bed, be the tickle monster, or hear her tell me how much she loves me. I wasn’t there to teach her to drive, to strive, and, above all, love. Knowing that was worse than any prison sentence. This was as close to my daughter as I’d ever be.

At the end of the day, it would have to be enough.

Coming June 26th

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Summer Maintenance
(The Happy Ending Resort Series #5)

Have you heard about this series?
25 different authors.
25 different books.
All the same setting, some shared characters.

All stand alone books.

Join me the 26th when I release Summer Maintenance.
It’s about a man who was wrongfully accused of killing his wife 15 years ago. When he is finally released from jail he sets out to find his estranged daughter. Instead he finds so much more.
Drama.
Love.
Hope.
Romance.
Suspense

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Must Read

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Look what is LIVE a day early on all these platforms.

Pass this on.
One-click.
Leave your review.
Xoxo – J4

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YI6WGYA

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https://www.scribd.com/mobile/book/267074616/Happily-Ever-Never

http://www.inktera.com/store/title/5bb4f43d-6706-4948-b920-e695229ca206

#ebook #rt #amazon #kobo #scribed #pagefoundry #romance #novel #amazing #angst #oneclick

Pick up my newest release, Binge.

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Never, in all my years of writing, have I ever received the kind of feedback I’m getting from BINGE. This book has impacted so many women and even men to reach out to me. I’ve gotten THANK YOU messages, stories about real life issues relating to the couple I wrote about.
I wanted to deliver true situations and troubles in marriage with a side of romance twisted inside.
Don’t be afraid to read it. I promise it isn’t what you expect. Real love can survive, even through the worst of times.
This sexy book is something I’m very proud of. If you haven’t picked it up please go do it now.
Love you all.
Xoxo
J4

New Release

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I have a new release and I’m told it’s steaming HOT and REAL to life. A taboo take on mending a marriage.
This is one you don’t want to miss out on.

I am including a few teasers as samples.

Please help support me by one-clicking, or sharing this news in a post or page. I appreciate it so very much.

Binge
#new #1click #amazon #nook #j4 #binge
http://amzn.com/B00WQ9REKM

  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1121813186?ean=2940151383035&isbn=2940151383035

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BINGE First 3 Sample Chapters

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Please enjoy the first 3 chapters of my upcoming release, BINGE.

The 7 Year Itch series

This book is about marriage. It’s about a male and female who tied the knot as young adults and grew apart when they matured. It deals with mental illness, depression, bipolar disorder, and how those conditions can magnify into real-life complications. It also deals with sexual issues, and the unconventional actions they pursue to resolve them.

Some parts of this novel are a true account of someone’s life.

Some are obviously made up.

No, I won’t indulge which is which. ;)

*contains sexual content and adult language*

BINGE

By: Jennifer Foor

Coming April 27th

3 SAMPLE CHAPTERS

SUBJECT TO CHANGE 

ADVANCED READER COPY

Copyright © 2015 Jennifer Foor

All Rights Reserved

This book is a written act of fiction. Any places, characters, or similarities are purely coincidence. If certain places or characters are referenced it is for entertainment purposes only. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. This book is not allowed to be offered for sale, discounted, or free on any sites other than Kobo, ITunes, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. This book may only be distributed by Jennifer Foor, the owner and Author of this series.


Chapter 1

ARIA

I hated the idea of spending the next hour with a therapist, bearing all of my concerns as if she could somehow relate enough to help me. What I loathed more was knowing that it was the first sunny day in two weeks, and the woman was relentless about closing the blinds during her sessions. It was as if she wanted her patients to be depressed so that they’d keep coming.

I’d gotten into a habit of nitpicking lately. I suppose it came from being so miserable. They say it loves company, misery that is, not that I was asking for friends to hang out with and compare notes on our failed experiences.

I peered down at my jeans and Chucks, feeling as if I should have cared more about my appearance, especially since this woman clearly went all out. It didn’t matter what the temperature was, Dr. Ellis was always in a skirt-suit. With her auburn hair full of curls, she sat with crossed legs and my file strewn over her lap. While the friendly doctor flicked her pen, pretending to listen to me, I stared effortlessly at the rapid speed it repelled. I wondered if it made little dots on the paper each time. Then I imagined it falling apart from being handled so roughly. I imagined the tiny spring shooting into her hair and becoming tangled the instant it made contact. Anything was better than admitting where I was and why I was there.

“How would you say your relationship with your husband has been in the past week?”

I rubbed my hands on the thighs of my jeans while proceeding to come up with a lie to make it seem as if we were making progress. “Fine, I guess. We haven’t killed each other.” I found my answer to be amusing, while she kept the same resting-bitch face.

“Since last week, how many times have you had intercourse?” She would ask me this. It was the reason I hated coming to these meetings. Every week she asked the same questions. I guess she assumed that one time I’d provide her with a different answer. This wasn’t going to be the epic appointment where I made progress, not after the week I’d had. Besides, who would want to know that I had frequent sex in bed alone, while imagining being tied up by a stranger, or blindfolded and seduced by someone who only set out to please me. Flynn was always there in my dreams, watching and envying what I wouldn’t let him have. It was like I was punishing him in my mind, while getting off to my little bullet vibrator in the bed we should be sharing together.

Flynn and I were supposed to be working on things. Instead, we were still in the same place as when we started this – headed for divorce.

“That would be a big fat zero.”

“I see,” she said while jotting down something. “Have either of you put forth an effort?”

I leaned forward, placing my elbows on my knees while rubbing my hands together. I suppose I should have held my posture like a proper lady, but my give-a-damn had been busted for years. “It’s kind of hard to try something when being in the same room together makes me want to strangle him, hypothetically of course. It’s also impossible when your husband sleeps on the couch, and trust me, you’d be the first to know if I was getting it from someone else, because I wouldn’t need to keep up this charade.”

“Charade? I would hardly call these sessions that. I’m here to get to the bottom of your problems and help you overcome them. You came to me for help. I know at times it seems worthless, but in order to change you’ll have to put forth an effort, which I’m not seeing from either of you. I’d hate for you to waste your time if this isn’t what you want, Aria.”

I hated the way this woman looked at me. She wasn’t fooling me with her professionalism. I knew she found Flynn attractive. She probably went home at night and turned on her vibrator to get off on pretending to fuck my husband, and apparently she wasn’t the only one. The older we got, the better looking he became. I wondered if she was waiting for me to admit we were through so she could make her move.

I grinded my teeth together to keep from spatting out something I’d regret later. Had we not promised each other that we’d try, I didn’t know where I’d be. With a daughter, it wasn’t feasible to go out and prey on single men for attention. Sure, I missed being touched. I longed to feel desired again, but I didn’t see it happening, so I kept my deepest thoughts buried where not even this doctor would be able to pry them out of me. If she only knew what I fantasized about when I was all alone she’d think I was a crazy voyeur nymphomaniac who didn’t deserve to be in a loving commitment to just one person. In my defense it wasn’t like I’d always dreamed of being with multiple partners, but when I had little experience aside from my husband, my curiosity got the best of me. Maybe if I didn’t feel like my body was scarred from stretch marks, I would be open to exploring different things with Flynn. I just felt ugly – ALL. THE. TIME. It was as if he was becoming more attractive while I was constantly aging. Why would he ever want to try to be turned on by me after seeing my vagina doubled in size during labor? I think he referred to it as the Cumberland Gap. And yes, that is exactly how he described it. “I want to feel beautiful about myself. I want to be appreciated. I want to know without a doubt that Flynn is making love to me and not imagining someone else. I want HIM to be the person who can fulfill my needs, leaving me feeling completely and utterly satisfied.” The last part wasn’t supposed to come out, but now I was becoming overemotional, letting my fears and frustrations dictate what flew out of my mouth.

“I think you’re not giving Flynn enough credit. It’s obvious your husband desires you. He’s said as much during our sessions. Perhaps your self-esteem struggles are keeping you from seeing that.”

Of course she’d blame me. Everything was always my fault. If she only knew what it was like to see Flynn looking at other women, or to talk until I was blue in the face with no response from him. If she could prepare all of his meals only to have him refuse to come to the table to eat because he was watching something on television. If she could be on the end of the phone call when he was out with his friends instead of being at home with his daughter. Flynn was terrible with priorities. He came first in his mind, and we were just leftovers, hoping to have a millisecond of his precious time. They say marriage is a two-way commitment. What is it called when only one person gives one-hundred percent of their time and energy? That was my marriage. I gave, and he took. That was the gist of it. Flynn could construe his stories to this doctor as many times as he wanted, but the truth would never change.

The moment he left her office he went back to being a douche, a part time father, and a shitty excuse for a husband. “I agree that my body issues prevent me from feeling sexy enough to want to be intimate, but that’s not our only problem. Just because I’m not willing to seduce my husband, doesn’t mean I’m ready to throw in the towel.”

“Intimacy is an important factor in any marriage. I’m afraid if you’re unwilling to be physical with each other there’s nothing more I can do for you. It may sound absurd to someone in your situation, but you have to be willing to at least try to be with your husband. Part of being a marriage counselor is to help you get through this. I’ve met with both of you together, and now separately. While your husband shows empathy for your marriage, I get the sense that you no longer feel the same.”

If she only knew that he was full of shit when he met with her. Of course he’d lead her to believe he was this great guy who was suffering because his wife wouldn’t screw him. It only made me want to choke him more.

I played with my hands. This was our eighth session. Once a month we met with her separately. I was supposed to be making an effort, but it’s impossible when you don’t feel good enough about yourself. “It’s not that I don’t love Flynn. I do – that’s the only thing I’m sure of right now. We just can’t find a common ground. It’s hopeless. He doesn’t make me feel wanted, even when he’s trying to get laid. Why should I give in when I know it’s all an act. I want to feel needed. I want to see his eyes light up when I walk in the room. It’s the little things that are missing in our relationship. It’s like he’s gotten comfortable and forgotten that I also have desires. We’re not in this together anymore. I feel alone even when he’s near.”

She started aggressively writing something down on a separate pad of paper then ripped it, and reached across the wooden coffee table to hand it to me.

I looked down at it. “What’s this?” I half expected it to be the number of a furniture company where Flynn could purchase a new comfortable couch for his lazy ass to sleep better on. It was obvious she enjoyed his private sessions more than mine. All I did was complain about Flynn. It wasn’t getting me anywhere. My sessions were a joke. After Flynn’s last two private appointments he’d come out acting all happy, as if he’d gotten head or possibly more. Ever since then, I’d been reluctant to even continue my sessions. At this point, I couldn’t figure out what were misconceptions in my head, or actual reality. I was so messed up and didn’t know where to turn. Behind closed doors my husband was someone who never tried, yet when he spoke to other people everything was honky-dory. It made me resent him all the more.

Dr. Ellis’ reply wasn’t what I’d expected. It actually made me question if she’d been listening to me at all. “That is the address of a bed and breakfast near the beach. It’s run by a young couple. This time of year is pretty slow. If any part of you wants to save your marriage, I suggest you spend some one-on-one time together, out of your normal routine. You don’t have to go there, but go somewhere. Spend time communicating. The two of you need to get know one another again. You need to remember why you fell in love, and how to figure out how to get it back. I can’t make the decision for you, or tell you what you should be feeling. I can only suggest a solution I think you’d both benefit from.”

“I’ve known him for years. In fact, I know him better than anyone,” I corrected her. I didn’t need a life lesson on Flynn. I also didn’t need to take a trip with him to get to know him better. What I needed was to go away alone and get my head on straight. What I wanted was to be desired by someone who didn’t ignore me on a daily basis.

She shook her head with a smirk across her face. It made me feel as if she were questioning my statement. The jealous side of me wanted to slap it right off. Then I had to rationalize about how I could be assuming things that weren’t even happening.

“That’s not what I’m referring to. Couples change. You can grow together, or in your case, because you were so young, apart. The only way to fix things is to start over, as if it were your first date.”

“What if I don’t want to date my husband?” I began to count how many times, while during a heated argument, I’d told Flynn if I had to do it all over again I’d never look in his direction.

“Just give my advice some thought. We’ll meet again next week, if you’re still interested in making this work. I have hopes that some quality time together could start repairing what’s been lost. You both need to relearn how to communicate with one another again. I know it seems tedious, but I can promise it’s not. You can never know too much about the person you’re married to. An open line of communication could do wonders for your self esteem issues as well.”

So what if I had problems with feeling beautiful. Didn’t every woman stand in the check-out line at the grocery and wish she could look like the model on the magazines? I was envious they could keep their figures after having children.

It wasn’t until I reached my car that I took in what Dr. Ellis suggested, and then I wondered if I was even willing to give it a go. If I had a choice, would I do it all over again? This question was something I thought I’d known the answer to, yet the idea of giving up on Flynn was painful. As much as I couldn’t stand how he was, a part of me assumed that without him I’d have nothing. Then there was the lingering fact that I still loved the man, even with all his flaws.

My drive home brought everything back into perspective. I started imagining our failures. Yes, we’d made a beautiful little girl, but was it worth it to stay together for her? I knew some couples did, though I couldn’t fathom it myself. I was at a point where I hated Flynn. My love for him still existed, but I despised the person he’d become; the one that popped open a beer after work every night leaving his dirty boots on and tracking mud all over the floor I’d just vacuumed. The same man who didn’t care about his actions or how they affected other people. The person who stopped caring about me and everything else that mattered, because he was too consumed in himself to notice.

Everyone told us we were fools. They said no two people should marry as young as we were; that it was doomed to fail, because we were kids ourselves. In so many ways I wished we would have listened. Had I known then what an up hill battle into a clusterfuck of a life it would turn out to be, perhaps we could have saved a lot of people grief, and probably money.

It’s amazing how as little girls we dream of finding our Prince Charming and to live happily ever after.

It doesn’t take a genius to see the disappointment in Flynn’s parent’s eyes when I call them upset, or even in some cases show up at their door with bags full of my things, swearing I’m done playing Flynn’s head games.

I suppose they’re used to the fighting since we’ve been doing it from day one. At seventeen I thought I was lucky. He wasn’t only handsome, but smart, and brave as well. Flynn Roberts was the good boy with the bad reputation. He was able to have any girl he wanted back then, and probably still could to this day. For all I know he could have been screwing around on me this whole time. Maybe that’s why we’ve never been able to really communicate. Maybe he hides behind a wall of secrets.

It’s easy to sit back and point fingers at someone else, rather than admit I’m the one at fault. I can’t help it. When that alarm goes off in the morning I cringe, not because he’s going to try and touch me, God forbid that happen, but rather that I know I’m going to have a repeat of the day before it.

He’ll expect me to help him out the door. If he’s sick I’ll have to call into his job, and nurse him back to health, because let’s face it, he’s a freaking child when he doesn’t feel good. Give him a runny nose and he can’t get out of bed. How pathetic is that? Is it all men, or just the one I’m married to?

I’ve asked my therapist- she claims that I’m nitpicking. To be honest I don’t even know if I care anymore. I look forward to the moment he leaves, and try to avoid him when he steps back in the door.

You’re probably wondering why we married, or how we got this way. I asked the same question each time he turns to walk away from me. I question what I saw in him back then. Apparently love is blind. I married a man who’s only ever put himself first. If he doesn’t get his way I’m a bitch, or a terrible wife. For seven years I’ve listened to this, and for those seven years, I’ve let it happen.

I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve cried myself to sleep at night, praying, pleading for God to help me. I asked why I couldn’t be a better person. Why couldn’t he love me more?

I honestly let him brainwash me into thinking I was the whole problem in our marriage. I felt as if I wasn’t what he wanted in a woman, and eventually a mother.

We had our first child when I turned eighteen. At the time he’d gone off to college, leaving me behind to live with his parents. He’d come home on weekends to his knocked up wife, which I honestly believed he’d hid from most all of his classmates.

At first his parents were in charge of our relationship. Since he’d gotten a scholarship, they weren’t going to allow him to give it up for me or a new baby. Yes, I’m dead serious. This really happened. My mom and dad wanted me to have an abortion, but I refused. They begged me to reconsider being with Flynn. They told me it would never work. Since then they’d divorced. It was ugly. My father moved to Oregon with a woman younger than me, while my mom hooked up with some loser that drug her all the way to Vegas. We’d had a huge falling out, and had not spoken since.

I ran away, well just to his parent’s home. When they found out about the pregnancy they questioned our relationship, and then pretty much forced us to marry. God forbid they have an illegitimate grandchild.

From the get-go, their animosity toward me was pretty well-known. Nothing I did was good enough for Flynn’s mother. She’d pick at the littlest of things, making sure to put me down until I felt incapable. She caused so many fights between us, especially when Flynn wasn’t home. I couldn’t even begin to count how many nights I called him at school, bawling my eyes out and begging for some sort of resolution.

During my pregnancy I focused on our future, promising my unborn child a good life. It was evident how important it was to provide our child with a stable home. In order to do that, I needed to respect how a college education could give us that opportunity.

I’d like to say I tried my best to be patient and understanding, but as the months passed I saw Flynn less and less. He started staying on campus, attending parties, and doing other activities that didn’t involve me.

Not only was I jealous, but over-emotional as well. Combine the two of those together and I was a mess.

I’d call his phone until he either picked up or turned it off. He’d call me every name in the book, and I’d return the same language right back. Then, when I felt as if nothing could repair the damage, he’d show up. The makeup sex was always the best, and for a while I was content.

One night, on a Friday he wasn’t due to come home, I awoke from a terrible nightmare. It upset me so much that I knew I wouldn’t calm down unless I spoke to him to be sure he was okay.

When a female voice answered the phone, I felt like my whole future had ended. Being sick wasn’t even the half of it. In the background I could hear him talking, calling her baby, and asking who she was talking to. At the time I didn’t know he’d been drinking, though I also didn’t give him a chance to explain.

In a pair of pajamas, with a huge belly, I took his mother’s keys to her vehicle and drove to the college, determined to look him in the eyes and let him know we were over.

To this day I still don’t know what happened in that dorm room. After someone let me inside, I climbed the stairs and knocked on the door until he opened it. Sitting in a chair off to the side was a blonde female. She was in a bra and a pair of jeans. At first she looked at me like I was in the wrong place, but when Flynn acknowledged me she quickly exited the room.

That was the night that could have changed our future. Maybe I was wrong to give him an ultimatum. Perhaps I didn’t have a right to control his life, but I did it anyway. I made Flynn choose me over going to the university, because I knew I’d never trust him if he stayed, even though he’d claimed to never sleep with anyone else. I knew he’d at least made out with someone. At the time I didn’t see it as being selfish. Now, seven years later, I feel as if it was the biggest mistake I’d ever made. I almost wish he would have found the love of his life at that school, because it was quite clear it wasn’t me.

While sitting in front of our small ranch style home, I peered down at the address of the bed and breakfast the therapist had given me. Did I want to even bring it up to Flynn? Could the two of us be alone for a whole weekend without wanting to strangle one another? Did I want to know what it felt like to have him touch me without cringing? Was there any kind of sexual chemistry even left between us? Could Flynn ever learn how to please a woman first instead of being so damn selfish?

I hated even considering how bad it could turn out, but I was tired of living like this. I knew there was so much neither of us had ever experienced. We were naïve and curious, so much that we couldn’t find a happy medium. Was it so wrong to want to experience hot, unadulterated sex with someone who could appreciate me the way I was? I hated the idea of being with someone else. I didn’t want my family to break up, but this wasn’t healthy.

Before exiting my vehicle, I crumpled the little note and shoved it in my pocket. My marriage was over, and the sooner I came to grips with it the faster I could plan the divorce.

Chapter 2

FLYNN

Things were too shitty at home to tell my wife I’d been laid off from my job at the auto body shop. Times were tough, and to be honest, people weren’t coming in with repairs, because they couldn’t afford them.

For two days I’d been driving around looking for something else, hoping that it would go smoother when I broke the news to Aria. On most days I felt like I had two mothers. The woman knew how to push my buttons like no other, and don’t even get me started on how she knows everything. My wife sits planted in front of the television watching reality shows for probably eight hours a day, yet swears she is a genius. I can’t even comprehend how ridiculous she gets about it. The worst part about it is the soap operas that put shit in her head that doesn’t exist. She thinks I want to fuck every female that walks in front of me, not to mention her assumptions of me screwing around with our marriage counselor. Granted, my dick could use some attention, though I hadn’t even considered making a move on the woman. I was there for one reason – to try to repair my marriage to Aria so I didn’t spend my whole life paying child support for a child I would barely ever get to see.

Emery Jade was my life. Her bright little eyes made my heart patter. She melted me and I couldn’t imagine spending one day without her. Ever since the day she came into the world she’d given me a reason to fight. Granted, I did a lot of it with her mom. Our constant bickering was so frequent it was just a way of life for us. It didn’t even matter what it was about anymore. We couldn’t see eye to eye about the smallest of things. If I didn’t love her and our daughter so much I would have left a long time ago. There’s only so much a man can take before he throws in the towel and accepts that he failed. I wasn’t going for the husband of the year award, but I sure as hell wasn’t trying to be the worst possible. At any rate, I hadn’t gotten laid in months, and I didn’t see it happening in the near future either. The way we were headed Aria and I were pretty much over. The sooner we both came to grips with it the faster we could figure out what to do with our futures.

Aria made it obvious she was home from her session. The door slammed and I heard her telling our seven year old daughter to remove her shoes before running into the playroom. I didn’t get off the couch to greet them. It wouldn’t have done any good. Aria was always like a bat out of Hell after her session with Dr. Ellis. I honestly don’t know why she still went in the first place. It was obvious she wasn’t getting anything out of them. She refused to work on the therapist’s suggestions for us, not that I was going to go out on a limb and make the first move. If she wanted to play her little mind games with me she had another thing coming. Unlike how she trapped me into marrying her, I wouldn’t use the same shit to make it work. I’d wasted too much time settling for what was probably never there.

I watched as my wife walked into the room. Just like that, I recalled all the reasons why I fell in love with her. It wasn’t her hair, which changed colors with the season, or the way she dressed, because let’s face it, she wasn’t a rock star. It was the way she looked at me; how her eyes captivated me into believing I was the only man on the planet. It took me back to a time when I worshipped the ground she walked on, and set out to make her mine. It all seems so long ago now. I’d made mistakes. She knew about most of them. Aria had every right to hate me, sometimes I hated myself. My actions put us in this position. I made her feel like she wasn’t good enough. Had I not been unmotivated and selfish maybe we could have built a future based on trust and forgiveness. Now, seven years later, we were both struggling with reasons to keep the peace for our daughter, instead of focusing on the fact that we couldn’t be in the same room without battling it out.

“We need to talk,” was the first thing she said. Anyone with a mind would know that only meant trouble.

“About what?”

She sat down across from me on the edge of the sofa. I couldn’t help from noticing her jeans were looking a little tight. I wasn’t complaining. Aria could stand to gain a few pounds. She’d lost so much weight when our sessions had begun. That was back when I started sleeping on the couch, falling asleep to the sounds of her crying.

Yeah, I knew it was my fault we’d gotten to this point. Had I not been caught up talking to some random chick on the internet, maybe I wouldn’t be in this mess. It wasn’t like I was having an affair. Yeah we exchanged photos that weren’t appropriate, but she lived across the country and I knew I’d never meet her in person. It was just something to bide my time when my wife was going through one of her ‘I’m too fat to be touched by you’ phases. I’m not blaming her. I knew she had low self-esteem. I was part of the reason it got so out of hand. Surely I could have reminded her of all the reasons I found her attractive. Life was so monotonous. It never occurred to me that we’d entered into such a routine that we forgot how to appreciate each other. Even when we had intercourse it was mechanical. I could close my eyes and go through the motions, it had become repetitive.

“Dr. Ellis thinks we need to go away together.”

I shook my head and laughed at that assumption. “Yeah right.”

“Seriously. She says we need to get out of our normal routine and rediscover one another, whatever that means.”

I cocked my brow and turned my attention back to her face. Her expression seemed concerned. “And what do you want?”

She shrugged, looking pretty unsure of her answer. “I don’t even know anymore, Flynn. What are we doing? Is all of this worth the trouble? Maybe we’re doing this for the sake of Emery?”

I had to admit it hurt to hear her say it. I swallowed the lump in my throat before replying, clapping my hands together and looking away so she couldn’t see the conflict across my face. “I don’t even know.”

When she was quiet I looked up to notice she was covering her face and sniffling. Right away I stood and approached my wife, placing my hands on her shoulders. “Your emotions only prove there’s something worth fighting for left in us.”

When she looked up her tears were already falling on the skin of her cheeks. I wiped them away with both thumbs and kissed the top of her head. “I can’t stand this.”

“I know you hate me, Flynn. I’ve been a bitch to you for months, maybe even years.”
“It’s not like I’ve been any better to you. I never thought it was possible to love and hate someone at the same time.” My confession was probably going to upset her. At this point it was careless to consider her feelings wouldn’t be hurt.

Aria pushed me back and began walking out of the room. “I can’t even talk to you right now, not when you say shit like that.”

I threw my hands up and followed behind her. “What the hell is that supposed to mean? You know it’s true. Do you want me to lie? Is that what you’d rather me do?”

She started running water in the kitchen sink and pouring dish liquid to begin washing a few glasses. “I’m not getting into it. Let’s just forget about it.”

“I don’t want to forget about it,” I raised my voice. “This shit is getting old, Aria. Aren’t you tired of bickering day after day? We can’t keep doing this.”

“Then move the fuck out already.” She turned to face me. “Isn’t that what you want- to be done with me? Don’t you want someone who can make you happy? You’ve stopped asking me to sleep with you, and since I know how horny you are I can only assume you’re either getting it from someone else or planning on it. How do you think that makes me feel?”

I clenched my jaw, struggling to keep composure when she was rubbing me the wrong way. “Don’t put words into my mouth. I hate when you assume what you want.”

She shoved me. “What I want? Screw you, Flynn. It’s obvious you want it. Why else would you need to go elsewhere to wet your dirty dick?”

I should have known she’d throw the past in my face. Every single argument resulted with this exact conclusion. She was never going to let it go. My betrayal would be the reason our relationship wouldn’t survive. “Don’t turn this shit around on me. If you were doing your fucking job I never would have needed to go somewhere else.”

I never saw the knee coming up into my groin, nor did I think about what would happen when I shoved her back into the countertop. I’d never intentionally hurt her, but in that moment it was in self-defense. Hunched over, I looked in her direction just as she was hauling ass out of the room. I watched her grab her phone as she exited, lifting it up to her ear. This pissed me off. No matter who she was calling, they were going to know our business. As screwed up as we were, I wasn’t prepared to broadcast my problems to the small community of people around us.

Rushing to grab her phone was probably the second mistake I made. Tossing it onto the hard tile floor was the final straw. I pulled her body against mine, holding my hands against her chest to prevent her from getting away. “Who were you going to call?”

“None of your business,” she continued fighting me. “Get off of me, Flynn. I hate you! I hate you so much.”

Anger filled me. As much as I loved this woman, I could feel the loathing taking over. “Fuck you.” I gritted my teeth as I said it low enough where Emery couldn’t hear. “You think you’re so god damn perfect. You ruined my life.”

Aria spun around and clocked me in the jaw, hitting me hard enough to send me backward. I brought my hand up to my face right before going after her. In that instant she wasn’t a female who needed protection. We were equals and she’d just made this physical. I felt like I was done trying to find reasons to want to work things out. Love or not, she wasn’t going to use my weaknesses to control me.

I managed to get a hold of her hair before she made it into the bedroom. I yanked her back in my direction. “Don’t you walk away from me.”

She started flailing her arms around, helpless in the position I had her. “Get off! Let me go. We’re done, Flynn.”

Her words tore me apart. “You won’t make that call. If anyone is leaving it’s me, but on my own terms. You’ll be fucking sorry, Aria. You’re little perfect life is about to change. You’re not getting a penny from me when I walk out that door.”

She freed herself and turned to face me. “The courts will make that decision. Once they know you’re dirty little secrets you’ll be living in a cardboard box while I’m here raising our daughter without you.”

“Oh, don’t you dare threaten me,”

“Threaten you?” She pushed me harder. “It’s not a threat. It’s a promise. I promise to ruin your life like you’ve ruined mine.”

I raised my hand, holding it there for a mere second before coming to grips with what I was about to do. In that moment I knew I had to get out of there. The fact that I wanted to inflict harm to her was a telltale sign that I’d lost my grip on right and wrong. She’d pushed my buttons until I lost control. The only solution would be to leave and cool off.

I lowered my hand and backed away from her, pointing so she’d be sure to listen. “This isn’t over.”

When I walked out the door I didn’t know where I was going. All I was sure of was the fact that I’d wanted to hurt her; the person I’d vowed to love and cherish. She was right. We’d hit rock bottom and there was no way things could get worse. This was the end of my marriage.

After driving a mile down the road I pulled over on the shoulder and pounded my fists against the steering wheel. As sick as I was over fighting and never finding a common ground with Aria, I didn’t want to give up so easily. I saw those tears. She still loved me, and as angry as I was I still loved her like crazy.

It just so happened that the first bar closest to our house was also a strip club. Aria was always so jealous about me looking at other women, and I knew my being there would make matters worse, but I also couldn’t go home. I needed to unwind; to chill out so I could return home in a better mood.

Maybe I should have told her I was without a job. She would have been upset, but at least we’d have a legitimate reason to argue. Walking on eggshells around my wife was getting old.

After pulling up at the establishment, and going inside, I realized one of Aria’s friends from school was up on the stage dancing. This chick had a crush on me since we were preteens. The moment our eyes met I knew she was pleased to see me standing there.

I ordered a beer before finding a corner table I could sit at and be left alone. I should have known she’d approach me and assume I was there to get off on the dancers. “Flynn. Long time no see, stranger. What brings you in?” Allison Spencer greeted me with a good question.

I turned to see she was standing to the side of me in a G-string with pasties over her nipples. Sure, her body was rocking in all the right places, and I knew if I wanted to I could take advantage of having her alone at my seat, but I didn’t want to make more trouble for myself. “I just stopped in for a drink.”

She gave me a once over while sucking on her bottom lip. It made me crazy seeing it. It had been a long time since I was this close to a half naked female aside from my wife. Since she’d been showering with the bathroom door locked I’d felt deprived. My dick jumped in my pants, reminding me it was still functioning properly. “So you’re not interested in a dance?”

Only a man interested in another man would turn this chick down. I didn’t only want to watch her dance. I wanted to feel what it was like to have her riding me all the way home.

Then Aria came to mind, and I knew I was thinking with my dick and not my mind. I’d promised to never cheat on her again. Now more than ever I needed to keep my word. When everything else was falling apart, I couldn’t take it out on her, not in that way. “Maybe next time. I’m not staying long.”

She leaned her face down near my ear. “How about I give you one on the house, since we’re not busy tonight.”

“Do what you have to do. I’ll be here finishing my beer.”

Allison started swaying her body to the rhythm of the music. I kept one hand under the table to try and control my growing cock. There was a time when I was so satisfied by my wife that this wouldn’t have gotten to me. Being cut off was making it obvious I needed release of any kind. I knew once I got home I’d go in the bathroom and lock the door so I didn’t wake up with an ache between my legs.

This was what my life had become. I jerked off regularly to internet porn on my cell phone. This was an added bonus to be able to have a live person to imagine.

I was pathetic. It was no wonder why my wife hated my guts.

After a few minutes things became tense. Allison was doing her best to pay attention to the way I was watching her. She brought her lips close to mine and then pulled away right before I could protest.

My phone began vibrating in my pocket, and I knew I was about to go completely limp.


Chapter 3

ARIA

“Mommy, why are you crying?” Emery asked when she came into the kitchen and saw me sitting with my hands covering my face.

“It’s nothing. I’m just sad.”

“Because of Daddy. I heard you fighting.”

I hated that she was involved in this. It’s why we had to end things. Our daughter could sense the tension between us. She was in second grade now. Her sad little face made me hurt inside.

I noticed Emery walking over to where my phone sat in three pieces. She began picking them up and bringing them over to place in front of me. “Did Daddy break your phone?”

“No,” I lied. If I’d learned one thing it was to keep from badmouthing Flynn to our daughter. “It fell out of my purse.”

“Is that why he left? Is he getting you a new one?”

I started putting the parts back together. “No. This one will be fine. He’ll be back. He had to run out for a while.”

“Do you miss him?”

She’d never understand how much that question hurt me. Of course I missed him; the old Flynn who I worshipped the ground he walked on, the man who I promised to love for the rest of my life. As conflicted as I was I knew that would never change. I would love my husband for as long as I lived. Even though we couldn’t work as a couple, nothing would take away those feelings. Just because we couldn’t be friends didn’t mean my heart wasn’t breaking. Yes, I hated so many things about my husband, but our problems were mutual. We both wanted more and neither of us knew what that was any longer. “Sure. I always miss him when he’s gone.”

“Can you tell him to bring home ice cream?”

I leaned forward and kissed her on the cheek. “Sure. I’ll tell him. Why don’t you go get your pajamas on while I make you some dinner?”

She swayed her body side to side. “Okay.” Then I watched her leave the room.

I didn’t get up at first and begin to find something quick to cook. My appetite was spoiled, leaving it hard to focus on food at all. I don’t know why I did it, but I found myself dialing his number, as if I was asking to get reamed out again.

When he refused to answer, I dialed him back, three times until he finally picked up. I could hear music in the background and knew exactly where he was. There was only one bar close enough for him to arrive so quickly. The Wooden Nail was off the beaten path of town for a reason. Half of the community had been fighting to have the establishment shut down for years. They didn’t want those kind of activities happening in our mainly Baptist based town. The idea that naked dancers could cause such an uproar was understandable. As jealous as a person as I was, I knew too well how a husband being there could cause problems.

A knot formed in my stomach as I heard him speaking. “What the fuck do you want, Aria? I left like you said.”

“Why are you there, Flynn? Of all places?”

“I’m here because it was the closest to get a fucking beer. Get off my back. It’s not like you give a damn where I am. You’ve made it clear I’m nothing to you. I have needs, Aria. If someone else wants to give me attention I’m not going to turn them away anymore. I’m tired of trying.”

“If you don’t come home right now I’m burning your shit out front.” His deception was causing me to act irrational. I needed to be in control of this; to get him home as soon as possible before he could hurt me any more than he already had.

“You’re going to threaten me? Are you fucking serious? You can’t threaten me with that. Everything you have is because of me. I’ve worked my ass off for our family. You’re not going to tell me what to do anymore.”

I stood my ground. Nothing would prevent me from getting him out of there before he could hook up with someone and make a mockery of whatever we had left in our marriage. “You’re damn right I am. Come home now, or you’ll be sorry.”

He laughed and hung up on me, leaving me to expect the worst.

I wasn’t always like this. There was a time when I’d forgiven Flynn for what happened in college. In the beginning, after Emery was born, we were happy. He’d come home smiling, happy to see us. We’d go places together, and he’d hold my hand. Back then I could feel his love radiating through him. It wasn’t until things changed where I began suspecting he had secrets. Whether he cheated or not wasn’t the issue. His intentions to be with someone else were obvious. He no longer made me feel desirable. When I looked in the mirror I didn’t recognize the person in the reflection. All I saw was weakness, and a person who’d let life add years to her appearance. I became afraid of change, and when things started to fall apart between us I saw it as my fault.

Then I went through a phase where I swore I could be better. I starved myself, or in rare instances where I did eat, I made myself throw up in fear of gaining weight. I got down to skin and bones and he still didn’t seem interested. It caused tension between us, leaving me to believe I’d never be the woman he longed for. With that stuck in my head I lead myself to assume he was sticking around because of our daughter. I fell into a deep depression, allowing my agonizing loneliness to dictate my every move.

We’d both said things we couldn’t take back. It had gotten ugly. He’d leave for a night and I’d beg him to come home to me. As much as I hated him, the idea of Flynn finding someone else killed me. This was the vicious cycle we’d lived in for years. I couldn’t see an end to it, and I didn’t even know if I wanted to. That’s when I really broke down.

I looked around at our beautiful house that we’d shared together. I thought about our daughter being ripped away from us while she had to visit the other. I imagined him holding someone else and being happier than I’d ever made him. It was excruciating.

In a desperate attempt to make an effort, I dialed him again.

He picked up on the second ring and I heard the music still blaring. A female voice could be heard close enough to the receiver, as if she was holding the phone herself. “No phones aloud in this area, sexy. You’ll have to call them back.”

Then Flynn spoke. “Just shut up and dance. This bitch ain’t important anyway.”

That was all I needed to hear to lose all sense of right from wrong. I jumped out of my chair and rushed into our bedroom, throwing open his dresser drawers and pulling as much out as I could carry at once. Then I made a mad dash for the front door, never stopping to reconsider what I was about to do. With the pile of clothes set in the middle of the yard, I obtained a lighter we used for the grill and set the bundle on fire. It burned slowly, like the way my heart was separating into tiny fragments. Before I knew it I was watching a bonfire while bawling my eyes out.

In the distance I could hear my neighbor calling out my name, but I refused to give her attention. It wasn’t until I heard the sirens that I knew someone had reported it.

Once the fire department showed up and put out the fire I saw Flynn’s truck pulling in the driveway. To say he was pissed didn’t even begin to describe his demeanor. He shoved past two familiar faces from town and got up in my face, threatening me in front of everyone. “You stupid bitch. How dare you ruin my shit like this. This is something your crazy bi-polar mother would do. I can’t take it anymore. Something is wrong in your head. You need help. It’s the last straw, Aria. We’re fucking done. Do you hear me? I’m going to kill you for this.” I knew he didn’t mean it. He was saying things to get under my skin. We played this game so many times I’d lost count. Was it uncalled for? Sure, not that either of us cared. This was about making the other suffer.

The police we were called, and by the time they arrived the whole neighborhood were out spectating, watching us bare all of our dirty laundry for everyone to see. All it took was that one threat to inflict bodily harm and he was being handcuffed. I suppose I should have fought in his defense, reassuring the officers he was full of shit, and that he’d never hurt me, yet I couldn’t bring myself to defend him. I wanted him to suffer, because he was destroying me.

I hugged my body while watching him being escorted to the police cruiser. The whole time his eyes were focused on mine. He knew I could have stopped this from happening, but I’d done nothing. I’d lost my ability to fight. This was getting uglier by the day. How long were we willing to torture each other?

By the time the car left the driveway my phone was ringing. News traveled fast in our small town of Virginia. My mother-in-law’s number let me know one of her nosey church friends had called.

I hit the answer button and prepared for whatever she was about to say to me. “Hello Margo.” I only called her this when I was annoyed. Usually she was mom.

“Don’t you dare pretend this is a friendly call. What happened now?”

“That’s none of your concern. You can pick your son up from the police station, provided they release him tonight. I’m done trying to make things work.”

“Aria, this is getting out of hand. You know you don’t mean that.”

“I can’t do this anymore.” I cried harder. “We’ve got to stop doing this to each other – to Emery.”

“I take it the therapy isn’t working?”

I shook my head even though she couldn’t see me. “I guess not.”

“Aria, I love you like my own daughter, but something has to give. I keep praying for the both of you. I’ll pick Flynn up and take him to my house. Try to calm down. It’s not good for Emery to see you so upset.”

“I know,” she was right. I didn’t want my daughter having to witness my demise.

“I hate leaving for Florida with the two of you in such turmoil. Maybe it would be best if we take Emery with us. We could spend a couple days in Disney. I’ll tell her it was a surprise so she doesn’t think I’m taking her away on purpose.”

I hated the idea of my daughter being gone for the whole summer. In a month Flynn’s mom and dad would take their RV to the park they went to each June. They’d enjoy the summer in the hot sun. Each time we expected them to call and say they weren’t coming home. With things so horrible between her father and I it was important to protect our daughter. “Once Flynn calms down I’ll talk to him about it.”

“I’ll let you know when he’s home. I love you, honey. Keep your chin up. The Lord works in mysterious ways. Don’t give up yet, not when there’s still so much love between the two of you.”

“Okay,” I managed to get out.

I can see where she’d be tired of our lifestyle, yet his mom was always cheering for us to get it together. Not everyone could live a perfect life together like she and her husband have. We weren’t all blessed with patience and understanding.

It took me a bit to calm down, and then to go inside and deal with Emery. She was upset, not understanding what was actually on fire in the front yard. I was glad of that. For the most part Flynn’s good things were either in the laundry or hanging in his closet. My moment of insanity had only ruined old things he worked in. He had a right to want to strangle me, theoretically of course. If he wanted to really kill me over a handful of clothes we had bigger problems than our failing marriage.

After nearly an hour I heard a car pulling in the driveway. I’d prepared dinner for Emery and got her started on a show before bedtime. She kept asking when her dad would be home, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her I’d gotten him sent away. Peering out the window and seeing him climbing out of his mother’s car left me concerned. He’d obviously not been charged with anything. I wasn’t surprised. We knew the deputies on the force, and the sheriff was the father to one of Flynn’s best friends in high school. He probably sat around shooting the shit with the guys at the station until his mother showed up to see what was going on. I quickly moved away from the window to prevent him from seeing me. Once I was standing over the sink washing dishes I heard the door opening.

I remained frozen in place, prepared for whatever he would say or do to me. When I felt him coming up behind me I closed my eyes and prayed he wasn’t going to hurt me after all. Then his hands came around my waist. His chin nestled on my shoulder. “We’ve got to stop this.” I could smell alcohol on his breath. How much he drank was irrelevant. Flynn always relaxed after a few beers. There wouldn’t be anymore fighting this evening. That’s how he coped with our issues. He’d run away from them and pretend they didn’t exist, while I was left to linger in the truth and dwell on what would never change.

Before I could respond I heard Emery running into the room. “Daddy, did you bring ice cream?”

He picked her up and kissed her cheek. She smiled, revealing how two of her teeth were missing in the front. She’d lost her bottom ones over a year ago, but finally the two front ones had come out. “I must have forgot. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take you out for a sundae. How does that sound?”

She chippered up at the mention of going out with her dad. It was another reason it hurt me to contemplate breaking up our family.

Flynn carried Emery into the living room and watched television with her while I finished cleaning up. To be decent, I made him a plate and took it out to him. I was too upset to eat anything, so I put the leftovers in containers to save.

By the time I finished cleaning up Emery was ready for bed. I met Flynn at her bedroom door. He smiled as I passed to go inside and kiss our daughter goodnight.

I found him in the bedroom pushing his drawers back to being closed. With crossed arms I stood in the doorway. “I’m sorry too.”

He didn’t look up at me until he was finished cleaning my mess. Then he backed up and sat on the bed, lifting his arms out for me to enter them. I hesitated, but when he refused to budge I took the few steps and felt him pulling me closer. I brought my own hands around his neck and rested my lips in his thick hair. “Why do we keep doing this?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “I hate it.”

“Aria look at me. What is going on with you? One minute you’re happy and the next you’re going off the deep end. I want to know why, no I need to.” His question sounded extremely serious. I got down on my knees to be eye to eye with him. I was afraid to hear what else he had to say. He seemed so calm, as if he was ready to give up and had made peace with his decision. My lips began to chatter as I watched his mouth prepare to speak. “Tell me what you want right now. In this moment. Do you want me to leave? Will staying at my parents help or hurt us?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know.” I didn’t. He was right. Something was wrong with me, and it had been going on for a long time. Was I like my mother? I didn’t want to know the answer, because it would mean all of this was my fault.

“You don’t know what?”

“I’m not happy, Flynn, and neither are you. How long are we going to keep making each other miserable?”

He brushed a stray piece of hair away from my face. “For as long as it takes for us to figure out how to make it work I guess. I’m not ready to give up yet. I don’t know about you, but I’m to the point where I’m prepared to fight for us.”

“Why now, Flynn? For months I’ve begged you to change. Why all of a sudden do you want to put forth an effort?”

“Because I’m finally seeing what I’ll lose if I let you go.”

“What?” I asked sarcastically. “Emery?”

“No!” He paused but kept his gaze on me. “I’ll lose a lot more than seeing my daughter every day. I’ll lose you. I know I piss you off, and maybe you even hate me, but I love you.”

“You have a shitty way of showing it, Flynn. I agree with you. We can’t continue like this. Things got physical tonight and it scared me. I don’t feel like you’d purposely hurt me, but I saw the anger in your eyes. You were unhinged and I kept provoking it. We’re so good at fighting that we know how to play into it. We’re terrible to each other. Don’t you see that?”

“I think we should take the doctor’s suggestion into consideration. Maybe we need to get away where it’s just us. I’m not saying it will solve anything, but it can’t hurt us.”

As valid as his point seemed, I had my doubts. We couldn’t go away and solve things in one weekend. It was going to take time and a lot of communicating. Obviously the only time the two of us talked was after a huge blowout. That wasn’t healthy. “I don’t know.”

“Aria, if you want to give up I can’t stop you. I’m only asking for one weekend. Mom said they want to take Emery. I told them we’d pick her up after two weeks. The whole summer is too long to be away from our daughter. Mom thinks that two weeks will give us time to figure it all out. One way or another at least we’ll know where we stand. I can’t stand being in limbo. I want answers.”

“I do too. I just don’t know what good it’s going to do us. I’m not trying to set us up for failure, but look at us, Flynn. We’re a damn train wreck. It’s obvious we can’t give each other what we need. If you think it will help I’ll try it. I can’t promise it will change anything. I just don’t want to be like this anymore. I know you’re right here, but I feel alone inside. When I need you you’re never around. I feel like you don’t care about my feelings. I want you to miss me when I’m not here. I wish for one night you could feel what it’s like thinking I’m out cheating on you. It terrorizes me. I’m not trying to be your mother like you always say. I just want to be me, and right now I don’t even know who that is anymore.”

“It’s settled then. We’ll take the weekend to decide if we want to proceed or give up. If we can’t be alone for two days than salvaging our marriage isn’t worth it.”

As happy as I was to be having a sensible conversation with my husband I feared the outcome. Just because we could get along for five minutes didn’t mean there was hope. I still felt sexually strained. The idea of taking my clothes off and even sleeping next to him after arguing repulsed me. I felt disgusting, like I was everything he didn’t want, as if my body turned him off.

Only time would tell if we could open up to each other the way we should have been our entire relationship. I vowed to pray for a positive result, even though I knew when I got into bed he’d never be able to give me the experience I longed for. That was a problem I’d have to learn how to live with on my own.

Coming Soon, Binge

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The 7 Year Itch series (Binge) will be books dealing with real problems in marriages.
The first couple, Flynn and Aria, married at a very young age after getting pregnant. Instead of growing together as a couple, they’ve struggled with finding out who they are and want to be as adults. They lack communication skills, the sex is juvenile, and that’s only the beginning of this couple’s issues.
I can’t wait to share this book with you all on the 27th. It’s a rocky road to figuring out how to be friends when you’ve already been married for seven years. It’s also a big battle to become comfortable sexually when you’ve had little experience.

Can a couple survive when all odds are against them? Can two people find a common ground no matter what they have to do to get there?

Binge: Coming April 27th

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