Cruel Infidelity

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CH. 38: RACHEL

Thick white and gray clouds blanket the sky. Light drizzle sprinkles onto her head as she cranes her neck forward to blow smoke out of the half-open window. She tosses the cigarette, pulling back from the biting cold of the early December air.

“He’s barely around,” she says into the phone, searching her purse for a stick of gum. “He leaves me in this hotel room, and tells me not to leave.”

“Why can’t you leave?” Jennifer asks.

“I don’t know, I think he just worries,” she says, not really believing it.

“And you’re supposed to marry him?”

“Yeah. I’m just… It doesn’t make sense. He shows up just long enough to drop some food off and then he leaves again. He doesn’t even touch me.”

“That doesn’t sound normal,” Jennifer says, her tone hardening. “Does he give you any reason for it?”

“No… I don’t know. I know he still lives with Heather and he gets all weird if I bring it up.”

“Ugh, I hate that bitch. She’s always rubbed me the wrong way.”

“Yeah, she’s a real piece of work. She’s completely insane and does all kinds of shit to him. She makes up lies and—”

“—You’re too good for this shit, Rachel. You shouldn’t be putting up with this. That isn’t normal.”

“He’s the father of my child,” she reasons.

“So?!” she counters. “How do you know he’s not lying about the whole situation? Didn’t you say he had sex with that gross redneck at one point?”

“It was one time,” she answers sheepishly.

“One time?! Do you really believe that? Once a cheater always a cheater.”

“It’s my fault he did it, I felt bad and didn’t want him to suffer on my behalf.”

“I think we should follow him. See what’s going on once and for all.”

“That’s kind of shady, though.” She bites her lip.

“This whole situation is shady! If you’re really dead set on marrying this guy, then you owe it to yourself to know for sure what’s really going on. If it’s nothing, then fine. I’ll shut up about it.”

Rachel tugs on her earlobe. “Yeah, okay…”

“Good, I’m on my way. Just let me know the second he leaves and we’ll tail him.”

The red light on the door changes to green and it swings open, stopping loudly as the door catches on the chain lock. “Shit, he’s here! I have to go,” she whispers.

“Rache?!” Andrew calls through the open slit. “Honey, open the door!”

She slides her phone into her back pocket and smooths her hair. She flips the metal latch and the door swings open.

“Why was this locked?” he asks, frantically looking around. “Who’s in here?” he demands, flipping the bathroom light switch on and pulling open the shower curtain. He looks crazed. He’s holding a bouquet of white roses in his hand, seeming to have forgotten all about them.

“Nobody’s here,” she says, staring at him. “What are you talking about?”

He shoves her aside, tossing the roses onto the bed. He kneels on all fours and peers beneath it.

“Andrew…” hard lines crease across her forehead.

He approaches her, looking her up and down. “Have you been smoking?” he asks, pulling back from her.

“What?”

“You smell like cigarettes,” he says, glaring at her. “Is that why you locked the door?”

She gives herself a little shake. “I’m here all by myself, you don’t let me leave—”

He turns, running a hand through his hair. He picks up the roses from the bed, practically shoving them into her chest. “These are for you.” He paces around the room.

“I’m sorry,” she offers, looking at the roses.

“I don’t want a wife that smokes,” he says. “That’s a filthy habit. It’s a habit of whores.”

Her mouth falls open. She searches his face, looking for a shred of understanding.

“Andrew, I’m sorry.”

He staggers toward the door. “I have to go, I was hoping you and I could spend the night together, but I can’t even look at you right now.”

Her eyes widen. Will Jennifer get here in time if he leaves so suddenly? “Can’t you at least tell me what’s going on? We were supposed to be married already, and you know I have to get back to Victra. Why are you pushing me away?”

He exhales, closing his eyes. “Stop,” he says.

“I want answers! Is it me?! Are you having second thoughts?”

“Of course not.” He closes his eyes. “Look, I don’t have the patience for this temper tantrum you’re throwing. Call me once you’ve gotten your hormones in check.” He pulls the door open and turns to her one final time. “Don’t ever let me come back here to a locked door, again.” He stares daggers into her before walking out. The door shuts with an air of finality.

She peers down at her phone. I’m outside, it reads. She throws her jacket on, and picks up her purse. Her heart races. She prays she doesn’t accidentally bump into him. “Please, please, please,” she whispers to herself.

His mustang roars past just as she makes it to the glass doors. Her heart stops. Did he see her? She stares out into the parking lot as night begins to fall. His blinker flashes and she knows she’s safe.

She stands in the middle of the parking lot, frantically looking around. A pair of lights flash a couple times. A hand juts out of the driver’s side, waving her over.

She quickly makes her way to Jennifer’s mint green Nissan Ultima and hops in. “Go, go go go go!” Rachel spits out, slapping the dash. The energy in the car is palpable. Fear and excitement course through her veins. She barely acknowledges the woman sitting beside her.

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