CHAPTER 1: Divorce
Liesl looked at her phone for what felt like the hundredth time and frowned at the time on the display. It was odd her mother had not responded to her text messages at all for an entire day. It was weirder still her husband of five years had not responded either. They were both attentive and loving towards her and so she found their silence odd. Moreover, her husband Merlin was late. If he was late, he always called or messaged her. This felt off somehow, and her stomach flipped nervously, yet again.
She got up from the sofa where she’d been trying to kill her nerves with Netflix on her laptop when she heard the door open. She walked to the edge of the study and looked to see Merlin walking in with a somber expression.
“Hey babe, you’re late and didn’t answer my messages. Is everything okay?”
“No,” he shook his head. “Can you come to my office with me?” He motioned for her to follow to what she often dubbed his inner sanctum.
Considering the fact he’d made love to her for hours the night before, his cold demeanor right now as he led the way, not even pausing to kiss her hello had her thoroughly confused. He motioned for her to take a seat in the chair opposite his desk and she made wide eyes.
“Merl, you’re scaring me. What’s going on?”
“We’re getting divorced,” he said bluntly.
She laughed. There was no way he was serious considering in the eight years they had been together, five of them married, he’d never once raised his voice and they’d never had a real argument. Their biggest fight ever had been the one time he forgot to put the toilet seat down and she’d fallen into the toilet in the middle of the night. Even then he’d apologized so profusely after she’d stopped freaking out, they’d ended up having incredible make-up s*x in the shower where she’d gone to clean up. She stopped laughing and stared at him. “I’m sorry, what?”
“Divorced. I just need your signature on these papers,” he slid a stack across the desk. “You are welcome to talk to a lawyer of course. The prenup we signed will stand. You get the house, and you can keep your car and you’ll get a monthly allowance for five years.”
“I don’t understand.”
He held another document in his hand, “this is a paternity test.”
“What does this have to do with me?” She was frowning as she looked at the way his fingers trembled, just slightly. “What is going on?” She herself was starting to shake now.
“I had an indiscretion at your sister’s wedding in Turks and Caicos six weeks ago.”
“You cheated on me?” she was going to vomit. “At my sister’s wedding?”
She got up from her seat and wrapped her arms around her middle. “This isn’t happening.”
“I f****d up and had too much to drink and I didn’t wear a condom. She is pregnant. I had a rush done on the paternity. It has come back as mine.”
“You told me you didn’t want children for another three years!” She turned to face him angrily.
“I did say this, and I stand by what I said. It’s unfortunately a done deal. I made an error in judgement, but I can’t let another man raise my child. We are getting divorced, and I will be marrying the mother of my child.”
“How can you sit here so coldly and tell me this?”
“Do you think this is easy for me?”
“It sure as f**k doesn’t look like it’s all too hard considering how frigid you’re being! I’m not one of your multi-million-dollar business transactions Merl, where you simply remove the emotion from the equation. I’m your wife! Your wife!” She had always thought the way he could remove emotions during a negotiation was sexy and powerful but right now, being on the receiving end of his harsh, calculating mannerisms felt like agonizing cruelty.
“Not after you sign this.”
“If I sign those, you get the f**k out right now.”
He blinked at her words, “now?”
“Did you not say I get the house?”
“Surely you will want to go see Janka or Elsie while things get sorted?”
“They can come here. I’m not the one who screwed around. You can leave.”
“My office is here and must clear it out.”
“You can come on the weekend with a moving truck and take the contents of this office as well as your clothes and toiletries but the rest, all the furniture, dishes, every f*****g knickknack, knife, fork, spoon, stays in this house with me.”
“I understand you’re angry, Liesl. I am trying to be respectful. I ask the same of you.”
“Respectful? You f****d someone else!” she screamed at the top of her lungs, gasping for air as her mind swirled. “At my sister’s wedding and got them pregnant. Eight years. Eight years you never once touched me without a condom, and you forgot?” She gripped her stomach as she struggled not to release the contents all over his prized office. “Oh my God,” she had a thought and glared at him, “we had s*x every single day we were there, sometimes twice. Did you f**k me after f*****g her?”
“Liesl, I’m sorry,” he said quietly not breaking his stony fa?ade, “it wasn’t supposed to happen like this and the best way I can fix this is by being honest with you by telling you the truth. There is no point in prolonging things. I can’t have my child born a bastard. They must have my name. My grandfather’s will was specific. Any child born out of wedlock will get nothing. It means the million dollars in trust for my child will not be allowed to be touched. I cannot punish a child for their father’s transgressions.”
“And this woman is keen to marry you too? She’s all gung-ho, is she?”
“She is not thrilled with the prospect but once I explained the money and the benefits, she was more open. She is letting her husband know this evening, probably right now, as well, and we will be married within six weeks barring complications.”
“How could you do this?” She tried so hard not to cry and angrily brushed the tears streaking her cheeks away. “I thought you loved me, and I thought everything we had was good. Why would you go to someone else? God,” she groaned and rubbed her forehead, “in all this time I never once considered sleeping with anyone else. Not once. I gave up everything for you. Stopped working at the law firm because the hours cut into the time you wanted to be with me. Scheduled my time at Janka’s art gallery around your schedule. I’ve been at your beck and call like a b***h to be mounted and you’ve been having s*x with someone else.”
He was silent as she vented her frustrations.
She waved her hand at him, trying to not let him get the upper hand. If he could be this cold sitting there, so could she. “Just go pack whatever you’ll need for the next five days and get out.”
“It would be easier if you went to one of the girls.”
“It’s too bad I’m not here to make things easier for you, isn’t it?” she turned to face him and when he remained seated, she shrieked so loudly her voice felt scraped, her vocal cords straining, “get the f**k out of my house!”
“Liesl, for what it’s worth, I do love you. This was an error in judgement but unfortunately, a costly one.”
“Save your condescending bullshit for the lawyers. I don’t need it. Get out,” she plunked down on the leather sofa. She was shaking with unbridled rage, shock and if she were honest, heartbreak.
“I need your signature.”
“I will call Elsie to come make sure you’re not f*****g me over and then I’ll sign them.”
She loved this man with all her heart and soul, and he had just coldly, callously ripped her world to shreds without a second thought.
He rose from his desk and slowly walked to the door of his office, and he was almost there when a thought occurred to her.
“I knew every single person at my sister’s wedding. Who betrayed me with you? Which one of my sister’s whorish girlfriends f****d my husband?”
He paused, his hand on the door frame as he clutched it, for the first time white knuckled as he admitted quietly, “Sandy.”
The room spun dangerously, and she gasped for breath, “my sister?”
His single nod was all it took for the world she had thought broken to shatter. She slumped off the sofa to the floor, gasping for breath as she let out an ear-piercing scream of pain and sobbed her heart out while he walked away.