One of the scariest things about writing a book and sharing it with the world is the review process. When people start telling you what they think about your "baby". So far no one has been outright nasty, but I've gotten a lot of constructive criticism and, believe me when I tell you, it is helping me with my current work in progress. Sidenote: If you read a book, make sure to leave a review. That helps indie authors more than you know. Even if it's just a few words. We kind of live for that stuff.
Anyway. One bit of feedback I heard a lot was how much everyone hated Marcus. That actually makes me SO happy! I hated him when I was writing him, so to see that translated through the words is AWESOME. But people were wondering about the break up. How EXACTLY did it all go down? Well, that inspired me. And in the spirit of ANTI-Valentine's Day....I want to share this bonus chapter. Happy Valentine's Day loverz...
The Break Up
My flight just landed. I’ll be home soon.
I didn’t bother responding back.
Setting my phone down, I took a deep breath, preparing myself for what was to come. Marcus had returned back from his business trip and I had to tell him it was over. After four years, I was finally ending it. I didn’t think he saw any of this coming, but it was time.
When Drew had told me that he loved me, I knew I had to do it. But he wasn’t the only reason I was letting go of Marcus. I was doing this for me. I’d been so accustomed to his ways that I hadn’t even considered that it was abusive and destructive to my self-esteem. That’s what made this so scary.
Who was I, if not Marcus’s future wife? Did I still think the same way? Did I have different values? What did I want out of life and what was my measure of success? Without Marcus, what was my legacy?
I wondered if Drew would even want me if I hadn’t belonged to someone else first? I was starting to worry myself into a frenzy and I couldn’t do that. I had to calm down. He’d be here soon enough.
I padded to the kitchen, making myself a cup of coffee. It was after six o’clock in the evening, but I had a feeling I’d be up all night. Besides, I didn’t have anywhere to go in the morning. I was unemployed, thanks to Marcus, and I hadn’t a clue on where to start looking for a job. I considered going back to Brad and Top Notch, but given that him and Marcus were friends… No. I had to look elsewhere.
Freelancing sounded fun, but it was a lot of work. Most of it not guaranteed. My chest tightened with anxiety. Why was I doing this again?
The handsome stranger turned lover, with those hypnotizing brown eyes and that dazzling smile. The man who could melt my panties off with two words and who knew countless ways to light my body on fire. My cheeks flushed thinking about the last time I’d seen him. The day he told me he loved me. The day he made love to me in this condo and begged me to choose him.
We’d been naked with each other countless times before then, but that was the first time we’d both been truly vulnerable with each other. I knew expressing his emotions wasn’t easy for him, but he’d risked it all to have me again. He was my ‘why’. He was the reason I was doing this. I couldn’t let him down.
Sipping my coffee, I walked from room to room, double checking that everything was in place. Old habits died hard. I knew that Marcus preferred the house to be in perfect shape. And as usual, it was. Except for the suitcases packed in the bedroom. I’d spent the last few days packing up as many of my belongings as possible. I had no plan, but I was willing to wing it.
The silence of the house was broken by the sound of the front door opening and closing. I heard a suitcase roll across the floor and stop just inside the foyer and his keys dropping into the designated bowl on the console table.
“Danielle?” he called out.
I stood slowly, exhaling the breath I’d been holding and walked out of the den, “Hey,” I called back, walking toward his voice.
When he rounded the corner and saw me, a smile spread across his face. Marcus was handsome. He had that unfair advantage in the world. His hair was silver and he had faint age lines around his eyes, but it worked for him. He loosened his tie, closing the distance between us and pulled me into a hug. I felt his lips crush against my temple.
“Hey babe,” he said.
“Hey,” I repeated, softly, “how was your flight?”
He made a face, “Typical. Annoying and long. I’m glad to be home. What did you do while I was gone?”
I looked away, “Not much.”
I was stalling, but I didn’t know how to start the damn conversation. This was just as hard as I thought it would be.
“Do you want to go out or eat in tonight?” he asked, moving to get a drink.
“Um,” I started, but he interrupted me.
“Honestly, I want to eat in, but unless you went shopping there’s not much in here if I remember correctly. Maybe we should order something for delivery?”
He was asking me, but I knew he would come up with his own answer. He always did. I nodded anyway, running my hands over my eyes to try and work up the courage to say something.
“Danielle?” he asked, his tone dropping.
I looked up, my hands still on my cheeks, “Hmm?”
“Where is your ring?” he asked. His tone was calm, but I knew a storm was brewing and would unleash itself if I didn’t give him the answer he was looking for.
I swallowed, dropping my hands to my side and chewing on my lip.
“Where… is your ring?” he asked again.
“We need to talk,” I said, my voice barely above a whisper.
He set his glass down and looked back up at me, his eyes taking on that icy quality they did when he was angry, “Go on.”
He laughed. It echoed off the walls and came back to taunt me a second time.
“Where do you think you’re going to go?”
“I don’t know, but I’m leaving.”
“What is this, Danielle?” he waved his hand dismissively.
“I’m not in love with you anymore. I can’t marry you.”
His icy blue eyes stared at me angrily, “Is this about Andrea?”
“No. It’s not about Andrea.”
“Is this about Andrew?”
That caught me off guard, “What?”
“You think I didn’t know the name of the man you were working with?” He walked around the kitchen island as he spoke, “You think I didn’t notice how much care and attention you put into what you wore to work or how long your work days were? Did you think it was possible for you to work for one of my friends and get away with anything without me knowing? How foolish of you.”
He stood in front of me, glaring down while I tried to pick my jaw up off the floor, “I don’t—”
“Don’t insult me by lying to my face, Danielle,” he interrupted, “Is this about him? I’ve seen the way you look at him. The night I caught you two video chatting.”
I hung my head in shame. I half-hoped I could get away with not telling Marcus about my infidelity, although it was a cowardly thing to do.
“Hmm.” He made a contemplative sound, “how long?”
“A few months,” I managed weakly.
He nodded in response, “So this is what you want? You want a low-level sales rep bum who can’t take care of you. Who’s to say he even wants you back?”
I felt myself shrinking before him, “Um—”
“No one else has ever wanted you, Danielle. I took you in when you were young and naive. I gave you everything. All that you’ve accomplished is because of me. This man doesn’t want you. Somehow you’ve convinced yourself to give up any hopes of a bright and secure future for him.”
“That’s not true,” I said with the little bravado I had left, “He does want me.”
“Danielle, I’m not having this conversation with you. Go put your ring back on and we’ll head out for dinner.”
I took a step back, recoiling at how easily he could dismiss me. This was not someone I ever wanted to be married to, “No.”
He moved closer, towering over me, his voice dangerously low, “Danielle Miller, go put your fucking engagement ring back on and stop with the bullshit. You don’t want me to have to repeat myself.”
My body shook from him invading my personal space. Marcus had never laid a hand on me, but I didn’t know how far he’d go to stop me from leaving. I stepped back again and turned on my heel, trying to catch my breath as I walked back down the hallway.
I can’t do this.
Yes you can. Just leave.
I was battling with myself. He wasn’t accepting that I wanted to end our relationship. I’d said the words. He knew my “why”, but he didn’t care. He wasn’t going to let me go so easily. I picked up the velvet box on my nightstand where I’d set the ring earlier. Opening it, I eyed the dazzling diamond he’d picked out for me. It represented him well.
When I re-entered the kitchen, he had his back turned to me, “I made reservations. We have fifteen minutes.” When I didn’t say anything, he finally turned to see me standing there ring box in hand and a suitcase in the other.
“I’m sorry, Marcus.”
Before I’d even heard the words come out of my mouth, he was flying over to me, ripping the suitcase from my hand, “What the hell do you think you’re doing? You think you’re just going to waltz out of here? No.” He tossed the suitcase on the counter and unzipped it in one fluid motion. Ripping out items of clothing and tossing them into the air, he shouted, “You’re not taking any of this. I bought this for you. It stays here. You want to leave me, you leave your shit.”
I was quaking, rooted on the spot from his angry outburst. I watched, helplessly as my clothes rained down all over the kitchen floor. Tears sprang from my eyes as I begged him to stop.
“Please, Marcus, stop it,” I cried.
Hearing my voice, he stopped what he was doing, focusing all of his attention and wrath on me. He stalked forward, gripping me by the neck and pushed me up against the wall, “You will regret ever fucking around on me, Danielle. I will ruin you. You had every chance to do the right thing. All you had to do was behave and listen, but no. Now you will feel my wrath.”
His hot and angry breath beat down on me as I struggled to breathe under the crushing weight of his hand on my airway. My hands swatted at him, trying to push him away, but he gripped harder. His expression maniacal as I gasped and begged for him to let me go. He was going to kill me.
Just as my field of view grew dim with black spots creeping in from the sides, he let me go. I collapsed onto the floor, gasping and coughing for air.
I tried to stand, but I was still shaking uncontrollably. He’d never gone this far before.
“I said, get out. Get the hell out of my house.”
I crawled to a barstool, using it to pull myself to a standing position.
“GET OUT!” he bellowed.
Suddenly, I was able to move. I found my legs and moved as fast as I could toward the door. Without looking back, I ran outside without anything. My phone and keys and clothes were all in the house, strewn all around the kitchen from him throwing it all over the place. I stood at the end of the driveway, shaking and scared. It was still light out, but the sun was fading fast. If I didn’t find a place to go soon, I’d be screwed.
I walked until I found myself on Drew’s front porch. It was dark by the time I’d arrived and a steady rain was draining from the sky. I was soaked and cold, despite the summer humidity, and miserable. My cheeks were puffy from crying, but I was grateful that the rain had hidden my tears. The door swung open and there he was, shocked to see me standing there.
“I’m s-sorry. I d-didn’t have anyw-where to g-go,” I stuttered.
He gathered me up in his arms, “Shh,” he soothed, shutting the door behind me. “I’ve got you, baby. You're here. What happened?” he asked, pulling back to look at me.
“I told him.”
Recognition dawned on his face, “Oh.”
“It was horrible, Drew. He swore he’d ruin me. He wouldn’t let me take any of my things. I don’t know what to do,” I was sobbing into his chest, letting every emotion drain from me with my tears.
He let me cry for a moment, rubbing my back and smoothing my hair simultaneously. When he’d soothed me out of my body-quaking cries, he pulled back, holding my face in his hands, “Darlin’ you’re safe, you’re here and I’ve got you. He’ll never be able to hurt you again. Ever. I promise you baby.”
He pressed his lips gently to mine, sealing his promise to me. And for the first time, I felt free and loved. I realized I had to go through the darkness to get to my light.
And I was so ready to stand in the light.