Authors: Tara Brown writing as Sophie Starr
writing as Sophie Starr
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This book is a work of the author’s crazy mind—any similarities are
coincidental. Any similarities are by chance and not intentional.
This book is
18+, adult only.
Cover Art by
Once Upon a Time Covers
Other Books by
Tara Brown writing as
TL Brown, AE
Watson, Erin Leigh, and Sophie Starr
Born to Fight
The Light of
Lady Spy Series
The End of Me
The End of
The Long Way
In The Fading
For Love or
Blood and Bone
The clock on
the wall ticks, echoing in the silence of the room and attempting to drive me
crazier by the second. I swear I can hear it echoing in my head along with the
sound from my anxiously tapping Jimmy Choo. All of it is bouncing off the walls
in the office. There is no way it could get any quieter in the room beyond the
small noises I am making. I feel like the walls are encroaching on me, pushing
the intensely awkward energy in the room at me.
be wine or vodka served when you sign papers ending something as emotional as a
marriage. I can feel the pieces of my heart flaking off, landing on the floor
around us, like a dandelion losing its wisps in the wind.
I tug at the
neck of my sweater vest, glancing about for a fan or a window.
vodka, even just a cigarette or two.
be better than the stark emptiness of the room I am ending my life in.
My life from
before never meant anything to me, until this moment. Now it is everything. It
is the happiness I thought I had and the life I thought I lived. It is the sick
feeling of fullness in my stomach that prevents me from eating now. It is the
revolt I feel inside of me.
the court-appointed mediator, drums on through the rules of my impending
divorce. It’s like the theme song to the end of the world. The world from
before is slowly disappearing, crumbling away like it’s falling off a cliff I
can’t see. I just see the dust and the end and the lack of detail. Because over
that cliff is my future and it’s so bleak I don't think I can bear to look.
glance at Mr. Monotone, wondering if it would be rude of me to yell at him to
hurry the hell up. I just want this nightmare to end. I want the lies on those
papers to be gone. Our marriage is a lie, it always was.
I make a
mistake, scanning the room for anything to look at, to focus on so the world
around me will stop spinning.
But my eyes
catch his as they search the modern space. My sweater vest feels as if it’s
closing around my throat. The blurring in my peripheral and sweating is a sign
that my anxiety is about to get out of control; it’s a bit touchy these days.
eyes, which as of late have been soulless and hardened, slowly fill with
emotion. Remorse lingers in there with the indifference I have seen from him.
enough remorse to stop the divorce or the lies or the love of another woman.
Is she a
woman? I would go with child.
enough to change the fact I am getting robbed of my money because I have to pay
It’s really no
wonder my anxiety is back again.
No, his dark
eyes are filled with just enough to show me he feels bad about the way he’s
treating me and taking advantage of me.
It has been a
year of getting everything in order and although it’s finally here, I don't
feel any comfort that I am about to sign my marriage away. I am about to undo
something I imagined could never be undone.
I assumed my
love was forever, like the never-ending symbol of the ring he gave me.
Now it saddens
me that we let it slip away.
Not that it
was we as much as it was him.
Sort of like
how it didn't just slip away as much as he slipped inside of a
twenty-five-year-old. He fell and landed inside of her, in our house.
That was the
end of the marriage.
that things were bad and that we were having issues. He was smiles and waves
and kisses right to the bitter end.
The best part
was that I was smug.
I had it all
and he let me think that.
Life was never
perfect—we had fights but to me they were nothing. Petty things, like he
wanted kids and I wanted to wait a little longer. He wanted them now and I
wanted the big promotion at the consulting firm I am a consultant for. I had
busted my ass day and night and just I was about to get the promotion Evan
decided we should start to have kids because we both weren’t getting any
younger. I asked him to wait a couple years and he said no.
I didn't know
that was the end for him. I thought it was a fight.
I know it now
and if I could go back so I might have known it would drive a wedge between us,
I might have changed my mind.
at before, my before, I can see now why he left me for her—she’s
twenty-five. She’s tight and gorgeous. She doesn't say no or think for herself.
She’s his. She even calls him ‘Daddy’ when they have sex. I only know this
because I caught them in the act. It was how I discovered we were having
problems and how I found out my marriage was over. He knew it was over. He was
just waiting to tell me when the time was right. Or waiting it out in hopes I
got another promotion so his alimony would be higher.
The image of
it all creeps through my mind, forcing me to see it perfectly. The clarity
improves the moment I close my eyes. The image tears at my guts, burning my
The sounds of
the shouting and panting fill my head as if fresh in the air, instead of Mr.
Monotone. Her squeaky voice grunting and shouting, “Harder, Daddy.”
It has scarred
me for life.
images blur a little as my memories mix with the emotions still lingering
inside of me. I kicked the door open and they scrambled off the bed.
I turned and
I didn't fight
her for him.
scream at them.
I didn't stay
in the house as they dressed or finished or whatever.
I just left,
He found me at
the park down the road, sitting on a bench. My eyes were locked, staring at the
trees. The sound of children filled the air from the playground next to me.
It was ironic
that the music my marriage died to was the laughing of children. The children,
in his mind, we would never have. His reasoning for having the affair on me was
she wanted kids and I didn't. Not that I had ever said I didn't want kids, I
just wanted to wait.
I open my
eyes, fighting the tears that fill my throat as Mr. Monotone continues. My eyes
dart to the right, to the man I used to believe was my soul mate. But now he is
in love with her, they’re engaged, and getting married as soon as we sign these
papers. I am the only thing in his way from being with his soul mate. Like a
speed bump, slowing him down from the life he wants to live.
I notice Evan
looking at his watch, the one I gave him. It surprises me he still wears it. I
thought he sold it or pawned it off to buy her that engagement ring. The
fucking ring is twice the size of mine.
I glance to
where she’s in the hallway waiting for us and I swear I can see the light from
the hallway glint off of the damned ring as she turns it. It looks like a
nervous habit, but I swear she’s fidgeting with the damned rock on her finger
to mock me, flashing it in front of me. My small ring that now sits on the
table near his hands. The circle of lies he told me when we married.
I wish I could
tell her to enjoy his small dick, I know I never did. I bought a vibrator the
first year we were married. I still use it, less now though. It’s as if getting
off is conflicting with the feelings inside of me.
My only saving
grace was that God did gift him with a magic tongue. He could make me come in
about three minutes flat. I used to call it the magic ride. Now it’s her magic
ride. She gets my money. My house. My husband. My car. She gets it all. I pay
less alimony this way, or so my lawyer says I do.
As the sun
shines in the window, I notice something odd. Evan looks different than before.
He’s wearing skinny jeans, a t-shirt with a tiger on it, some canvas shoes, and
a jean jacket. The beanie hat is like moron icing on the Gap-commercial
If he wasn't
thirty-eight he might look like a real hipster. This must be what happens when
you get engaged to a twenty-five-year-old vegan. I wonder if they shop at
thrift stores? He has always been a little artistic. I thought it was adorable
Daisy is wearing a flowered maxi dress and cardigan. I’m terrified to really
look at her through the window of the office. I know it looks like I’m hating
on her but the outfit really is just making me wonder if she’s wearing
Birkenstocks under that dress. My mother wears maxi dresses and Birks in the
summer at our beach house.
The very best
part about Daisy though—the only detail about her that makes me feel even
slightly better about myself—is Daisy’s long honey-blonde hair is braided
with an actual daisy in it.
I want to hit
her with her sandal. Or his canvas shoe.
It’s like I
don't even know him.
My eyes hunt
down the clock, creating an inward moan when I realize it’s been nearly two
hours of Mr. Monotone.
I need a
He nods and
smiles and hands us both pens and paper. I sign where my lawyer points. She
smells like cinnamon and soap. I close my eyes as I sign the paper, taking in a
huge inhale of her.
The moment it’s
done I sigh, sliding the paper back and dropping the pen.
It’s done and
I can move on from this stressful nightmare. Maybe I should go on a vacation
somewhere? Make sure it is hot so I can live in my bikini and drink. Hot places
always make it seem so much more acceptable to be drunk at noon.
I jump up,
basically running for the elevator. My brain has two thoughts: firstly,
escaping out of this office so I don’t have to ride down with them, and
secondly, drinking. Something strong and heady. An Irishman maybe?
I sigh again
as the doors on the elevator start to close, as if my brain is shouting for joy
because we made it. But then like in a horror movie, Evan stops the doors and
gets in alone.
looking away from him. Signing these papers was a lot harder than I thought it
would be, but riding in the elevator with him feels like it might be some sort
of water torture.
He leans his
larger frame again the wall beside me, twitching and clenching his fists,
something he only does when he’s nervous. “I have something to tell you, and I
want you to hear it from me.”
drops. “I don't care. Whatever it is, it’s your business now.”
He ignores me,
speaking softly, “Daisy and I are pregnant.” His face is one that might dare to
suggest he pities me. I want him to pity me for about a second, then I just
want to throw up but I push past it.
“Oh, that is
awesome. Congratulations, Evan. I am very happy for you two. It's just awesome.
So awesome.” I nod as the lump rises in my throat more. They’re having a baby,
the baby I wanted with him. My baby. Fucking awesome.
The thought is
fleeting and hateful, but it’s there and I can’t take it back. The words, my
baby, linger for seconds and then disappear.
“I am sorry
about everything, I know it’s a bit late. We made such a mess of things and I’m
sorry for my part in it all.” He grabs my sweaty hands, probably feeling the
water pooling in them as he grips tighter.
Evan. We wanted different things.” I smile as the damn doors finally open. But
just as I yank my hand from his, I am faced with her staring at me. She’s
glowing and smiling at us, like we didn't just sign fucking divorce papers.
He walks past
me, taking her hand in his and lifting it to his lips the way he always did
mine. I can’t move, so I am standing there like an idiot when he turns and
waves. “Bye, Hannah!” He smiles as he leaves me in the elevator. I just let the
doors close, leaving me there to cry alone.
The pain in my
chest is too much to bear—it hurts so much. They’re pregnant with the baby
vibrates, bringing back the reality that I’m sobbing in an elevator. “Hello?”
front. I just saw him leave.” My best friend, Rebecca speaks softly into the
phone. I don't know if I have ever felt rescued before in my life, but the
sensation being rescued fills me when I hear her voice. The elevator doors part
and my feet start their sprint across the tile floor.
I need a stiff
I run as fast
as my heels will carry me, diving into the open door that feels like the
embrace of my mother when I was a child. I close it, letting the feeling of
being safe wrap itself around me.
I nod. “In a
couple hours. Meet me at our bar. I have to go back to work now.”
talk about it. She doesn't ask a thousand questions. She leans in, taking me in
her arms and holds me tightly, whispering one thing. “Fuck them both.”
My eyes and
heart are closed, pressing shut to block out the world, and yet she finds her