The CEO's Ex-Wife

kickass heroine
self discover

Stary Writing Academy III - Rebirth of the Heroine

When Ayla Roberts left her hometown for college, she never intended to return. She worked hard to leave her old self in the past. She became a successful and a well-respected icon in the business world. Everything was perfect, so it seemed, until she catches her CEO husband in the ultimate cliche, screwing his assistant. That’s the story she’ll tell anyway.

Matthew Roberts is brilliant, charming, and possessive. He controls all their assets and has successfully kept her isolated from her family and friends since their wedding.

In search of a fresh start, Ayla escapes Matthew and heads to her only possible safe haven; her estranged family and the home she hoped to forget. Soon she meets the handsome and equally broken Jay, kindling something she’s not felt for a long time.

Just as she is beginning to remember who she is, and make connections she wasn’t expecting, Matthew suddenly reappears.

Will her toxic husband let her go? Will he crush her budding relationships, isolating her again? Will the secrets she’s keeping destroy her second chance at happiness?

Stary Writing Academy III - Fall For A Billionaire

*** Warning***

Language , s*x, domestic abuse- not graphically described but implied.

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Chapter 1
Standing at the door, I can’t bring myself to knock yet. This is a home where I never really felt comfortable. It never felt like home. Not for me. You can do this. It’s not like you have a choice. Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath and raise my hand to the door. I blow out my breath and knock. I hear shuffling, then a voice says, “yeah, yeah, Imma coming.” When she wrenched the door open, we stare quietly at each other. “Whatever you’re selling, I don’t want any.” She says, her tone waspish, eyes hard. Great, my mother doesn’t recognize me. It has been eight years. I’ve changed I guess, but not that much. My eyes are still the same green, my hair the same red. Both features I inherited from my father, a gift from the husband she hated to the daughter she resented. It dawns on me she hasn’t slammed the door in my face yet. Maybe this is a test. “Hello, Mom.” I keep my voice as calm as I can. “Mom? I did have a daughter once. I haven’t seen her for nearly a decade. You could be anyone.” I deserve that. “I… I left him, Mom. I.. can I … stay for a few days?” I feel the tears shimmer in my eyes. Damn it. I will not cry. “There’s a lot of hotels in town, couldn’t you just buy one?” she asks, clearly enjoying dragging out my torment. “You’re one of the richest women in America.” “Please Mom, I have nothing. Nowhere else to go.” There, I’d admitted the ultimate failure I am. That ought to give her some perverse satisfaction. My eyes sting again but I will the tears to stay put. Don’t you dare cry! “Hhuummf,” she huffs out her annoyance, but opens the door wide and waves me in with a dramatic bow. I let free the breath previously held captive in my chest and step over the threshold. This will be fun. The house hasn’t changed much. The walls are still the Navajo white we painted them ten years ago. It smells faintly like old takeout and cigarettes. I drop my backpack on the floor at the base of the stairs and wait. “Tea or scotch?” She asks. “Tea, please.” I follow her to the open dining and kitchen area. It also hasn’t changed much. What had she been doing with the money I’d been forwarding? A few minutes later a steaming cup of Earl Grey warms my hands. My empty stomach twists. “So, what happened with Prince Charming?” she prompts. “Turns out he was not so charming,” I reply dryly. “How?” She asks. I sigh. No rest for the weary, I suppose. “I caught him cheating.” That’s not quite the whole story but it’s enough for her. Enough for now. Maybe even enough to satisfy the town gossips. The story of how I failed to keep my perfect man happy will spread quickly, there’s no stopping that, but hopefully, with an absurd amount of luck, the story will get old and fade quickly. She splutter-laughs, “That’s no surprise. I could tell by the way he ogled everything in a skirt he was the type.” My eyes widened a little. But of course, she always knew everything. She told me so every chance she got. I was just a naive dreamer. Of course, she’d feel the drive to point out that she was right about him too apparently. It is strange though, everyone was lulled by his charm. Most people commented how lucky I was, how in love with me he obviously was, only I saw his other side. “Is that why you never approved of him?” I wonder out loud, trying to keep the hurt and tension from my voice. “I knew he’d crush you.” She says. Yep, she always thought I was weak. Naturally, she’d take this opportunity to rub it in. I wanted to excuse myself, but I didn’t want to be rude. If I pissed her off and she kicked me out, I’d have to look for a shelter or something. I literally had nowhere else to go. “Are you still working?” I go for the subject change instead. “'Course I’m working. I have to live.” That was a dig at me. I had to ask though. “What about the money I sent you? That should have been more than enough to live comfortably.” “What money? You didn’t send any money. You lived in your perfect mansion and forgot about us low folks.” “I never forgot you, Mom.” I sigh. “You never visited,” she retorts. “I was busy.” ‘Busy? For eight years. “ “I’m sorry. I …” “You didn’t want to see us,” she sounds a little wounded. I note the way she grips her tea with both hands, knuckles white. Peeking up at me from above the rim of the mug, I could have sworn I saw hurt in her eyes. “I didn’t think you’d want to see me,” I whisper. My face begins to heat again. Being here, in this house, in her presence, makes me feel like the unwanted child I’d always been as if the last eight years of maturing had never happened. “Would he have let you come if you had wanted to?” She asks, her tone a tad softer. I think for a moment. Would he? Did I even want to come back here? Did I try hard enough? I stilled my leg. I hadn’t realized I’d been jiggling incessantly, the surface of my tea vibrating from the movement. Bouncing my leg was a nervous habit. “I wanted to come to see Daniel and Sarah when their kids were born. There was … we just… I never made the time.” Lame answer Ayla. Whenever I had expressed an interest in seeing someone from home, something important always came up. She huffed again. I let it go. Then I realize something else she’s said. “Mom, I sent money. $4000 every month, the whole time I was married. You really didn’t get it?” “Not a cent. I don’t want your money anyway. But it would have been good to hear from you once in a while.” Matthew must have figured out I’d been trying to send her cash. How did he know? How can he stop the transfers? Why? Was there any aspect of my life he hadn’t taken over? “If you don’t mind Mom, it’s been a long trip. Which room can I sleep in?” “Yours,” she stands, snatches up my teacup, and pads to the sink with hers to wash. It was only 7 pm but I just wanted to be alone. “Thanks, Mom” When I open my bedroom door, my jaw drops. She hadn’t changed it. My bedding was the same, cream with large purple hibiscus flowers. My posters were still there, those stupid motivation ones with photos and saying about success and motivation. My favorite was the Hang In There poster with the ginger kitten dangling from a flower pot. A few old photos were crammed in the frame of the vanity mirror. Tina and I, in various places. My small bookshelf, a couple of useless knick-knacks. All still here. Huh? I thought she’d turn this into a guest room or movie room for Emma the second I left for college. A craft room or something. Why would she leave all this here? Did she actually miss me? My lips curl up in a slight smile. It feels weirdly like home. I shake that crazy thought out of my head. Tossing my backpack on the floor, I kick off my shoes, rip off my bra, and fling it at the old purple chair in the corner. I flop on the bed. One problem at a time Ayla, I tell myself and crash back on the pillow. Square one. How did I end up back here? I’d worked so hard to make something of myself. I graduated early. Always the good girl. Always rejected. Unable to contain it any longer, I curl on my side and let the floodgates loose. I cry for the husband I thought I had. I cry for the times he hurt me. I cry because I couldn't tell anyone. I cry for the job I loved. I cry for the business I built, for the life I built. I cry for the family I wish I had. I even cry for the next girl he’ll ruin. I cry until my heaving chest hurts and my ducts run dry. The next morning I got up early. The sun was just about to creep over the horizon. My window faces east and as such, floods the room with light early. I hated that as a kid. I could never sleep in. Now, I watch as the room grows steadily brighter with the sun’s morning glow. With the familiar view of sunrise complete, I dress and head downstairs. It’s a brand new day. My body aches with each step. I struggled not to wince. I had no intention of showing anyone that I’m hurt. Least of all her. Though, I should get photos just in case. In the kitchen, I start the kettle, make myself tea, and prep one for Mom. I dig through the fridge and pantry, and throw myself into the task of making breakfast. Twenty-five minutes later I have a stack of pancakes and a plate of bacon set out. I nearly died of shock when Mom walked in the back door dressed in workout clothes. I want to say, 'holy crap Mom, you exercise!' But instead, I go with, “I made you a cuppa.” “Thanks, honey,” she says. Honey? What was happening here? Did aliens replace her or something? I watch as my mom downs a glass of water at the sink, washes her hands, then joins me at the table. “You run now?” I ask. “Walk mostly, shuffle a little,” she replies. As far as I knew my mother had never shown any interest in exercising. Food, alcohol, but not exercise. “I changed a lot since you left.” She looks me in the eye. I feel like she wants to say more but I can’t guess what. “I can see that. You look good.” I answer. And she did. I didn’t notice last night, I was too caught up in my own misery and discomfort to see it. She’d lost weight. Her muscles were toned and her face more sculpted. For 50 she looked great, not Jennifer Lopez good, but better than she had at 40. At 40 she looked doughy, sad, kind of stretched out. Now, her eyes were bright, her skin looked healthy, even her posture had improved. “You don’t,” she replies. “I’m aware. Thanks, Mom.” I say with unhidden sarcasm. “Physically you’re as beautiful as you always were. But your eyes are flat, devoid of that determined spark you always had.“ I am speechless. She thought I was beautiful? She’s never said anything remotely like that in my life. My brother was handsome, my sister was gorgeous. She told them all the time. They looked like her, brown eyes and pitch-black hair. I look like my dad. The jerk husband that left her. We sit there in awkward silence eating breakfast. “Your brother will be here for dinner tonight. You can meet the kids. And his wife, you remember her?” she asks. How could I not? Sarah was the queen b***h at school. The last time I saw her was at my wedding. My mother had insisted I ask Sarah to be a bridesmaid. In an effort to avoid drama I agreed. The last thing Sarah said before she roughly shouldered past me up my aisle that day was that I wasn’t good enough for Matthew, that he deserved better. “He should be marrying someone like me, someone hot as hell and wild in bed, not an anorexic prude like you. You’ll never be able to satisfy him,” she'd spat at me. I was not looking forward to seeing that cow again. Especially since she was right. “She’s mellowed out with motherhood.” My mother says, as if she could read my mind. Mellowed huh? This is new. I was sure everyone thought the sun shone out of her perfectly shaped rear in high school. I was the only one that saw her for the shallow, two-faced cow she was. Mom used to rave about the pretty girl who doted on my brother. She was athletic, beautiful, and had a brain. I notice my Mum staring at me, crap, she expects me to respond. I open my mouth but nothing comes out. “When did you start walking?” I ask. “About a month after you left for college.” Interesting. “I’m happy to cook dinner. What do they like? Do the kids have any allergies?” I ask. “So you know how to cook?” Mom's voice drools sarcasm. “I cooked every night for this family until I moved out.” I retort, unable to keep the bite from my voice. “Did you forget?” I instantly regret my tone. Remember the shelter, Ayla. We eat the rest of our breakfast in silence. I am so good at small talk. That was one of the things I excelled at; keeping business meetings flowing, smoothing inflated egos, charming the clients, active and attentive listening. I’d learned to read people, figure people out. Not anymore apparently. Or at least not where my family members are concerned. I’d say that was something else Matthew took from me, but I could never figure out how to connect with my family, no matter how hard I tried. I just didn’t fit. I think that’s how I gained those conversation and negotiation skills in the first place. I was always seeking their approval. I’d been working at it my whole life, somewhere along the way I developed a personal charisma that made me a hit in our business circles. Correction, my old circles. That’s not my life anymore. When our uncomfortable breakfast is done, I collect the plates and head to the sink to rinse them. I’d be damned if she’ll start making entitlement comments. I bend the wrong way and tweak my aching side. I gasp and flinch a little. My mother doesn’t seem to notice. Good. It’s probably just badly bruised anyway. I don’t think it’s broken. If it still hurts this much in a few days, I’ll get it looked at. Oh, God, I don’t have health insurance. My mind starts to run. “No allergies. They eat just about anything.” My mom says, breaking my runaway train of thought. “What about Emma? Will she be here too? Will she bring someone?” I ask. “Emma is at college.” She says and leaves the kitchen. Well, ok then. What the heck do I do now? I’m almost 30, jobless, penniless, probably getting divorced, seriously depressed, a physical wreck…. I’m not even sure how to move forward from here. Ok Ayla, get it together and make a plan. Step one: get a job.

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