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Chapter 2.Sadness

“Captain! Apologies for barging in… I… I know who killed my mother!” Xavien said, as he burst through Captain Bruce Crane’s door.

The Captain put his finger up to stall him; “Chief? I apologize. No, it’s fine. It’s… yes that was Brady.”

Bruce stared at the phone, frowned and sighed as he punched the speakerphone button and placed the phone on the cradle; “Chief?”

“Yes. Please… share your news, Sergeant!” The Chief said from the speakerphone.

Xavien felt an enhanced surge of adrenaline, as if he sensed foreboding in the air. He, too, frowned and sighed; “Ahhhm… Okay. Yes. So, I’ve not only located the person that killed my mother, but I have reason to believe that evidence exists to link them to the murder.”

“Certainly you jest. We had the brightest minds on the force on the case… you mean to say they were all wrong?” The Chief retorted, with false skepticism.

At the final syllable of the chief’s retort, the Captain’s face contorted into a snarl, but he remained silent.

Xavien knew that the current Captain had been his mother’s last partner. He could read him like a book; this was honestly a good man. If the Captain didn’t like someone or something, it usually meant it was worthy of scrutiny.

“Chief, I respect all of those that came before me. I believe this is just a case where time and a fresh pair of eyes just happened to be fortunate enough to put the pieces together. Perhaps I should rephrase in more certain terms. I have located undeniable evidence, motive as well as the location of the murderer.” Xavien spoke with strength and confidence.

“Bullshit, that is bullshit and don’t you even pretend it isn’t” The Chief spat out. Both the men in the room stared at the phone in disbelief as the Chief continued; “You are probably one of the brightest officers I have ever seen. Don’t you dare sell yourself short like that! I appreciate the fucking politics… but save it for the press, Sergeant. I’ll be there tomorrow morning at nine. Bring all your shit, we’ll look it over and plan our attack. Speak of this to no one.” The Chief finished and then the line went dead.

Xavien’s frown returned with a vengeance; “Cap… tomorrow is Saturday…”

“Brady… I don’t think the Chief gives two shits about your off days…”

“My flight leaves tonight…? Was taking Scott and Clara to Hawaii?” Xavien reminded.

“So you’ve been working this for how long, fantasizing about it for longer… It seems like it’s been a life goal… and you’re concerned about a… trip?” The Captain shook his head with disapproval.

Xavien had put off a few vacations that mysteriously never got made up, and he’d watched Clara swallow the news with dignity and understanding. She appreciated the comp days he’d eventually get, but he knew that it burned her. This was a trip to the same hotel they’d honeymooned in. He promised he would move heaven and earth to make sure it didn’t get canceled. It showed that she didn’t believe him, but she sweetly went along with his assertion.

“I have everything in my file. I’m going to give it to you. I’ve made perfect notes. I can have Victor cover for me. I shouldn’t have to put my need for political posture above the needs of my family.” Xavien growled unpleasantly.

“Let me level with you, Brady. I know how much this meant to you. This is your mother. This is close to your heart. You want to see this through, right? It will give you some closure. The Chief knows about it and won’t want to sit on it; shit like this is great publicity. You let it go, not only do you lose the satisfaction, but you lose cachet” Bruce sighed and shook his head.

“First, I need to mend fences at home and take care of my family… Second? Captain, let me put this bluntly… Beyond relief, I have no actual emotional connection to this case. I have always held onto this as a classic case of police ineptitude and apathy, an injustice on many levels that had gone unresolved for far too long. Either the brightest minds couldn’t scrape together enough IQ points to purchase a doughnut, or it was corruption and the powers-that-be were instructed to put in the token effort so that the department could put this case behind them.” Xavien snarled.

“Sergeant, that’s enough!” The Captain sparked back.

Xavien sneered with defiance; “You were the one who wanted to level with me… started speaking about emotions.”

“That was my partner, so yeah, there are a lot of emotions. Don’t try to pretend that you aren’t emotionally invested!!” Bruce reasoned, his own voice crackled with sadness and anger.

“I’m not interested in this case only because it was my mother. I am interested in this case because it was the first example of injustice I had encountered, and I wanted to expose the failures so that they were not repeated. In spite of your doubt, I have always remained objective… Kind of my job, right?” Xavien stated, plainly.

“I don’t get you, Brady. I thought you were a fantastic cop on a mission to solve the cold case of your mother’s murder… But here you are, standing right in my fucking face… and you speak as if you are some sort of machine? I just don’t get it? Yet, you pretend that you care about your wife and son, when you don’t have a picture of either of them on your desk, never talk about them… and have just given me indication that you really don’t have a heart…I don’t get you at all…” Bruce shook his head, still angered but calmer.

“I am a very simple man. I see things in black and white. As for my family, they are alive and wholly my own business. I love them and attend to them as I see fit. Now, with attention to the case at hand… I will present you with the evidence I’ve found and have Victor cover for me.” Xavien said, flatly.

“You’re going to lose your badge over some shit like this one day.” Bruce shook his head.

“Are you threatening me? Am I going to lose my job over this?” Xavien questioned, with the hope that he would receive a reasonable answer.

“Not this time…” Bruce sighed, then rubbed both of his hands over his face and over his crew-cut; “But you don’t play by ‘the rules’ and people have a strange way of ending up in career purgatory… dead end position with no guts or glory to speak of… you would likely keep your badge, but only as a vestigial reminder of what you were.”

“Why would you say these things to a subordinate?” Xavien questioned.

“Oh for the love of fuck—are you serious? Are you for real? Alright, maybe I shouldn’t have said that… but this case meant something to me, too. My hands have been tied, but that doesn’t mean I rooted against you. Your mother was a pistol and had a problem playing by the rules, too. You’ve got her intuition and, up until this point, seemed to be devoid of her defiant streak. The problem is… you’re also blessed with uncanny memory and have uncanny talent in every facet of your job. Problem is… there are some ‘common sense’ elements that evade you completely.” The Captain sighed.

“Such as---?” Xavien raised an eyebrow, with indignation in his tone.

“You’re a bit too good. You can’t get too much farther without making people above you uncomfortable—and I’m not talking about me. The emperor likes his new clothes just fine, but if you start pointing shit out…” Bruce shook his head as he trailed off.

“Honestly? You think that evades me? Yes, I get it. This is a corrupt cesspool that consistently wastes taxpayer dollars, promotes ineptitude and survives as an under-the-table fundraiser that lives off of the handouts from several nameless organizations in exchange for ‘considerations’. Believe me, Captain, I’m not some idealistic punk with stars in my eyes. This is a rotten fucking mess and I honestly believe that you are even fortunate to be in the position that you are. No one is tricking me, here.” Xavien explained with exasperation.

“What the fuck do you mean, I’m fortunate?” Bruce snapped back, in surprise.

“Because, from all of my research and observation… you’re a genuinely decent guy, excellent cop with a flawless record and impeccable value system that shows through in all of your reports and interactions. The thing that keeps you where you are is that you lack the spine to make waves, but the goodness in you tries to make the best of a terrible situation. I like you, Captain… and I don’t like anyone much.” Xavien said gently, with the understanding that he’d just levied a hefty insult at his boss.

The Captain chuckled sadly and shook his head; “You are your mother’s son… I promise you that much. Jesus H. Christ… she would be scared to death if she knew how you turned out… but I know she would be proud. Get me everything you’ve got on her case. I’ll handle it personally.” Bruce said, distantly.

This moved Xavien to the point of tears. The words the Captain has spoken disarmed him. “Thank you… sir.”

“No. Thank you.” Bruce nodded.

Xavien handed him the optic disc that contained the case file; he’d come prepared.

“Oh? Good. You have it? Hang out a second while I glance it over.” The Captain said as he scanned the disc and skimmed the notes.

“Oh… my… God… You have proof on Muriel Kretchmar?! How? Oh fuck… this is huge… Chief’s not gunna like this one bit. You’re kidding… Shit, so Wesley Landau was still alive?! Yeeeeesh… God, I hate the Fratilli’s… They’re not… Oh, God… Jesus…” The Captain shook his head.

“Brady… This makes things very, very difficult… Jenny Glorioso was executed for a crime she didn’t commit… and… you have proof that she didn’t do it. You might be the brightest young mind to hit this department… ever… but…”

“Dammit… You think I didn’t know what this was going to do? Look, I’m not looking for press. You do what you have to do. I don’t care how it happens in all the gray areas; that’s your job. In black and white, Muriel Kretchmar is guilty of that and many, many more. Jenny Glorioso? I could fight for her justice, but it wouldn’t do any good. Her immediate family is dead and my report details the likelihood that Fratilli’s offed her daughter in retaliation for her testimony. I didn’t explore that further because it was irrelevant.” Xavien paused and drew a long breath. “…However, the dead no longer care about justice. We handle living criminals here. If it is a trumped-up charge, or whatever you people do when you want to bring someone in… you have proof she not only murdered my mother, but I linked to thirty-seven other unsolved cases that she could be linked to. I am boarding that plane tonight, sir. I cannot do anything more than present my findings. Due to the nature of this case, I would be subject to your direction and you would have to direct an officer to act. That officer doesn’t have to be me; additionally… I am not overly eager to visit with the Chief.”

The Captain nodded; “Off the record? I think this gets buried, for the most part. I wish it weren’t the case. What are you going to do, then?”

“Unlike you, sir… I intend on doing something about it. Keeping this off the record… I may not be able to do anything right now, but when I see my opportunity, I will make my move. You’re right, Sir. I may lose my badge some day. But until that time, I will do what I can to fight for justice.” Xavien responded.

“Justice is often a gray area, full of speculation an---”

Xavien cut of his boss; “And nothing. Justice is black and white. Anyone that says differently is unjust. I am going to hope that my faith in you is well placed.” He said, as he clenched his jaw and whirled around to exit.

“I will do what I can…” Bruce sighed and shook his head, exhausted by Xavien’s idealism.

Xavien left with a heavy heart. He scolded himself for the belief that it would have ended any differently. None of it mattered, because it would have all had the same result. He no longer wished to go on this stupid vacation… but he knew how much it meant to Clara. He loved her with a passion that he couldn’t quantify. It was nearly the same intensity as his love for Myrna, but it definitely had a different feel; decidedly more sexual in nature. His love for Scott was a product of his love for Clara, and therefore felt even more pure and sweet. The rest of the world could likely end around him and he would not care.

He waved to Victor Clayton, who had been his partner for five years but was one of the least interesting and one of the more unintelligent and witless human beings he had ever met. He protected him out of procedure, but often wondered how long it would be before he became a statistic. Since his messy divorce, Victor’s primary interests were in pornography and dolls. Of course, when Xavien called them dolls, Victor would correct him and call them ‘action figures’. Victor wasn’t corrupt, but he certainly wasn’t as dedicated as Xavien would have preferred. It was often the same as working alone, so this was almost a perfect partnership in that regard. Regardless… he understood the psychological importance other people placed on the outward appearance of the partnership. So, he made an effort to pretend as if he cared and was genuinely invested in the partnership.

He had some paperwork to handle, so he settled into his desk and began to work on it. There was a strange feeling in the air that caused the prematurely gray hair to stand up on the back of his neck. He attuned his ears to the environment around him as he stopped his paperwork.

“Jesus… there’s been another one… This shit is crazy…”

Xavien would normally maintain his interest, but he had a mission—Vacation with the family. That would be his focus and his goal for the next two weeks. The first real vacation since he married the love of his life. The first real time off since Scott had been born. He wondered if he was supposed to feel guilty for the fact that he would rather not go. He couldn’t place why. He loved Clara with all of his heart, and he would accept death by beheading in exchange for Scott’s life. He just suddenly had begun to detest the concept of… a vacation.

He sighed and glanced at the clock. 2:53pm. He had two hours left until he was allowed to leave. He rarely watched the clock, but he knew Clara would wait for him to call at the last minute to cancel their vacation. He decided to call her and confirm their plans; she would appreciate it. She was well aware that he’d put the final touches on his case, as he had been up all night to finish the report.

He wanted to prove to her that she meant something to him, even though he felt that he’d said enough and exhibited all of the appropriate signs of affection and attachment. He’d followed all of the standard rules of engagement for romantic relationships; even with occasional spontaneity thrown in for good measure. He’d studied enough to know what females expect.

Xavien dialed Clara’s phone and she let it go to voicemail. She didn’t want to answer if she knew it to be bad news. He sighed, sadly. He felt poorly for the times that he had disappointed for her, and then became angry at the whole concept. He’d tried his best, but understood that their life and his career were intertwined. She knew that he had this type of job before they’d gotten together. Then again, that placed the blame at his feet, as he could have spared her the pain of this life with him.

He cursed under his breath and then spoke kindly into the phone; “Hello, dear. Just wanted to make sure that you were packed. I only have 2 hours left before my shift is up. I love you. Please call me back. Bye.”

He couldn’t anticipate anything that would stand in his way. He’d even overstepped a fair amount to his boss to emphasize his adamant desire to hold true to this vacation. He was the best cop in this entire precinct, and he knew it. He also understood that this was taken fore-granted and abused on many occasions; but not this time.

He finished his paperwork and checked the clock; 3:49pm. For once, he had nothing to do but relax and hang out until his shift ended. It felt as if he were doing something illicit, as if his job were on the line. Why did he feel this way? He’d always been a hard-driving over-achiever and had full right to every second of this time, but still had the sense that he was doing something wrong or that something was wrong.

Time eventually came for him to leave and he made haste to exit before someone could waylay him with something work-related. It wasn’t that he wanted to cut out on his co-workers; it was also an attempt to prevent himself from temptation. It was not just that he liked to work and ‘catch bad guys’… it was the despicable dearth of attention to detail, motivation, energy and focus that everyone in the department had to any given case. He didn’t even have to put in one-quarter of the effort he had within him to solve even the ‘toughest’ of cases and still have reserves left for his personal relationships and interests. It was simply tragic.

Truly, he disdained many of the people he worked with. He understood that they could not perform anywhere close to his level, even on his worst day compared to their best. He was fine with capacities, however limited. He would even have been okay with the concept that they were all jaded, incompetent or both. The combination of all of these, to a certain degree, would have been tolerable. However, what caused his frustration to boil within him was the political corruption and greed that stained nearly every division or department. No one stood in the way of a crusader cop, for those were the ones that carried the department and made everyone else look better. He carried that label amongst many members of the department; not that he gave it much thought. He simply did his job, where no one else would. Some days, he even dumbed-down his performance so that he could keep the status quo. He always got his man, even if the judges were eager to let them go free within moments of their arrest.

He settled into his personal vehicle; a black Lexus ORV. It caused whispers that he drove such a vehicle, but he’d purchased it at a police auction and wasn’t about to refuse himself the simple pleasure of a refined vehicle simply because people thought he was ‘on the take’. The people like this were no different than those that had attempted to bully him at an early age; even more powerless now than ever before.

Xavien whipped the vehicle through the streets of Hyde City and remained within the speed limit as he had always done; he saw no need to break the law, unlike many of his fellow officers. By the time he had gotten home, his guilt finally ebbed and had been replaced with a genuine eagerness to get his trip started. He smiled and sighed; perhaps a real vacation would be restorative, after all.

He exited the car and then remarked to himself how perfect the temperature was. Fantastic breezes caressed him and brought the smell of neighborhood dinners from the many houses that had windows open to let the fresh air in. He was pleased with his uplifted mood and was eager to share it with his darling wife. Everything felt right, as he tried to banish the hollow feeling that something was off.

Xavien opened the door to his house; “Hello, all, I’m home!”
From deeper in the house, Xavien heard a crash of a large number of plastic toys, and a mad scramble as Scott rushed to greet him. He gathered in this small exuberant child into his arms and hugged him tightly before he stood up and spun him around.

Clara did not greet him, but she was likely in the hurried process of preparation for their trip. He’d wagered that she’d waited to pack until everything was relatively certain. He slung Scott off on his right hip and trotted merrily up the stairs. Fatherhood was a joy to him; if Clara were open to it, he would love to have many more.

He found his bedroom door closed and silence from the room. With concern, he trimmed his breathing and turned his head to the side to focus on what she was up to on the other side of the door. He was able to detect halted breaths, subtle catches and slight congestion in her sinuses; tears. Xavien sighed and knocked gently with his left hand.

“Op’nup!” Scott hollered as he decided to knock on the door as well.

Xavien chuckled under his breath; he was amused at his boy. He set Scott down and patted him on his butt; “Go play, boy. I’ll come play after I speak with your mother.”

Scott sauntered off obediently, as the door to the bedroom popped open. Clara stood on the other side with a puffy, tearful expression. A quick judge of her expression gave him the impression that it consisted of shame, sadness and anger. His forced his face into a concerned frown, complete with a furrowed brow. He gathered her into his arms to see exactly how she reacted to him; she willingly accepted as if she needed comfort, but did not appear to be completely pleased with him.

He spoke quietly in her ear as he held her tightly; “What’s wrong, Clara?”

She pushed away and turned away from him as she muffled a sob. Grateful for her lack of attention to his details, he allowed his face to snap into the more accurate expression of bemusement and annoyance; one eyebrow at the top of his forehead and the left corner of his mouth clenched. This was going to be something he did not wish to hear. She’d likely done something to jeopardize their journey and vacation. He ascertained that they would not board a plane to Hawaii, nor would this current evening be an enjoyable one.

If he were alone in his vehicle, he would spit out a few angered curses… but she was a female, and they had to be dealt with in a gentler fashion. He loved her, but truly disliked the negative irrationality that she was capable of displaying. From what Myrna had told him, it would be a terrible idea for him to ever let on that he knew what was going on; as women hated to be decoded or deconstructed in any fashion. This seemed pointless and galling, but Myrna had always been honest with him, so he faithfully trimmed down his desire to troubleshoot Clara’s every mood and motive aloud.

He’d also been warned by Myrna that, in many cases, even the right thing to say would also be the wrong thing to say, dependent on a woman’s mood. This was another irritation that he accepted as par for the course. Clara was a wonderfully balanced woman, but still had the occasional spate of irrationality. It was also this same irrationality that caused her to love him, so that was still a fair trade-off. He found himself to be logistically sound, but thoroughly uninteresting and unromantic when it came to the opposite sex. He could fake enough charm to get whatever he wanted for as long as he needed to, but it would often lead to apathy on his part. Clara was a wonderful creature that he truly loved, so he was grateful for her reciprocal affection in that vein.

He waited for a signal for his approach, as he wished to bring her comfort in some fashion. Stupid emotions… If he could, he would build a switch to surgically implant and turn them off so that a problem could be solved in a more efficient manner. It wouldn’t be cruel, as many people intentionally swallowed harmful chemical pills for the same virtual effect.

He was relieved when she spoke; “So, before I say anything more… are you honestly off for two whole weeks?”

Xavien cringed; she wanted him to say no, so that she could feel absolved and validated for something that she had done in anticipation. He was not going to give her this validation, for it would not actually protect her from anything and would cause further distress on the whole; “Yes, I am fully off. I’ve turned everything over to Victor.

She sobbed and buried her face in her hands as she slouched. He took this as an indication to draw his wife to him. She would likely resist a little, but would relent with persistence.

Xavien gently but firmly guided his wife around to him and was pleased that his deduction was correct. She gathered the fabric of his shirt into her face as she cried; “I’m sorry… I’m… I canceled the tickets the day after we got them because I just knew that something would come up at work. Like, I just felt that they would come up with a way to keep you from leaving and I figured we could just use the money in a better way…”

He made a concerted effort to prevent his body from tensing. He did not wish to have her aware of his intense frustration, as it was mostly his fault and inattentiveness to her that had driven her to this point. A myriad of verbal equations flooded his mind as he calculated the precise phrase that would cause the greatest upside. Finally, he settled on the best one for the moment; she had tensed in anticipation of his reaction. She loved him with every fiber of her being, and only wished to please him; she’d likely reasoned that he’d at least applaud her practicality.

“I’m sorry that I have been so focused on work, when my greatest love is at home every day. I also apologize for the fact that my inattentiveness made you feel that this was necessary. I also appreciate your attempts at practicality, and understand that it was a relatively reasonable probability that we would have to cancel this trip. I am sad that we have gotten to this point and would like to find some way to make it better for you and Scott.”

“God… I hate that you sound so cold and rehearsed sometimes… I mean, I know you love me and all… But I dunno… I just wish you’d get angry with me or yell or something…” Clara’s muffled voice said from his chest.

“If you wish it, I can handle this as well. Would it make you feel better if I shouted? I can also throw something against the wall and break it if you like…” Xavien deadpanned. He could not hide his amusement, and hoped that Clara would appreciate his levity. She did not always find his humor to her liking.

“No… I guess it wouldn’t… Are you making fun of me?” Clara pushed away as her eyes narrowed and searched for an answer.

His eyes twinkled with love and amusement; “No, darling. I love you. Look, I’m still off for fourteen consecutive days. Perhaps we can find a way to spend it together as a family and maybe go on a road trip or something?”

As her expression melted, he admired her beauty and allowed his mind to wander and ponder the concept of dinner at a restaurant. He did not smell any food, but she would likely toss something in the oven from the freezer. He disliked food that was not freshly prepared, but had always kept that fact to himself.

“No. Just go to work Monday as usual. No sense in wasting your paid leave… we don’t have anything packed, we don’t have anything planned… I’d… I’d also agreed to a playdate with Scott’s little friend, Jenelle, tomorrow.”

His right eye twitched involuntarily. The expression on his face hardened as his eyes darkened. He wanted to spend time with his family and wished to avoid the long, inefficient road of conversation that stood in their way. Part of him was inclined to do as she had said, but that would most certainly be a terrible idea.

A violent, primal urge pulsed through his body suddenly, which took him by surprise. His vision became tinged with red and he could almost envision the devastation and havoc that he would levy upon the furniture and appliances of the house. He suppressed a chuckle at the irrational nature of this impulse and then shook it off as the intensity of it disturbed him.

“I’m sorry. Look, maybe we can reschedule this play-date… and quickly pack our bags and see if we can buy last minute tickets. The extra surcharge is worth it, I mean we’ve had this money saved up for quite awhile, so I know we can afford it. We can still make this trip happen.”

She was sad and cringed as she shook her head; “No, we can’t… I… I put the money in a 6 month interest-bearing account that we can’t touch.”

He had a strong desire to curse at her out of sadness and frustration. He disliked this position. He also felt angered at her deception; “Why are you waiting until now to tell me all of this? This is quite deceitful and I feel that it is inequitable to treat my words with such disregard!” He rarely spoke without calculation and knew that his words would elicit a negative response.

Clara shoved away from him the rest of the way and hissed at him; “Oh? What about the inequity of attention to your job versus the attention to the family that loves you? What about the deceit that happens every time you tell me a vacation is going to happen, only to cancel at the last second? How many times was I supposed to believe you only to be hurt and disappointed? How many, Xavien? Jesus fucking Christ! I’ve got friends telling me that you’re cheating on me, or that you’ve fallen out of love, or that you never loved me in the first place, or that I should have a fling… Dammit, I’ve even had people saying that I should consider marital counseling and divorce because I can’t continue living like this… I’m getting all this… and you come to me and talk to me about deceit and inequity?”

He was stunned with the revelations of her friends’ advices. He was angered by her phrasing, and knew that they were both at fault, but intentionally avoided culpability.

“I am off for these two weeks, one way or another. I’m not going to work, no matter what you tell me. I don’t know what I can do to make things better, but I am going to make every effort to fix what I have broken.” Xavien said, in a conciliatory tone.

“Don’t bother. Now that you’ve found your mother’s murderer, I’m sure there’s another big case that simply demands your attention; someone that killed your father’s prized goldfish or something.” Clara bit back, uncharacteristically.

Xavien was hurt and angered further by his wife’s irrationality. She had never come after him in such a fashion, and it had caught him flatfooted. He couldn’t go to work, but he didn’t want to be pent up for two weeks with someone that would speak to him in this fashion. It was never a mystery about what his work was, nor was it a newfound interest or dedication to his job that called him away from her. He never felt his life was in danger, but he suddenly empathized with the broken marriages that littered the landscape of his precinct. These men and women truly risked their lives every day, only to return home to a spouse that lacked the capacity for understanding or resilience. He and Clara had discussed this at length before they’d gotten married. She knew the rules and they had discussed every angle. It was merely a case where she may have idealized the life with him and overestimated her capacity to withstand additional stressors. Some were his fault, others were not.

He hung his head; “I’m sorry. I don’t know how to make this better.” He then walked away slowly. He would use the trip down the stairs to reset his mood and expression, so that he could spend time with Scott. Dinner would have to wait until she calmed down.

“Are you really home for two weeks?” Clara said quietly as he reached the stairs.

“Yes.” He said and then started down.

She sobbed and would likely have appreciated comfort, but he felt no obligation to do so. She’d pushed him away and would have to pursue him to obtain what she desired. He was not accustomed to this level of sadness or negativity, nor did he appreciate the fact that he felt it as well. He had no illusions that things had been perfect or even good, that was why they had both lovingly planned this vacation.

Then again, it was done after a wild evening of coitus and they were both in a love-struck, wistful haze as they eagerly planned out the details of this ornate vacation.

Xavien was surprised at how disappointed he was that they weren’t going. This centrifugal state of emotive restlessness was a bit much for him. He then empathized with the thirty percent of the precinct that were heavy drinkers, the forty percent that were moderate drinkers and the five percent that were true alcoholics. He did not drink and would not, but understood why others would crave the escape. Not everyone in the precinct was a complete waste of flesh, and it was just a shame that they were assailed by the difficulties of the job as well as those brought on by life as well.

He shook his head and puffed out a quick sigh; time to play with his son. He found Scott playing quietly with large plastic blocks. He settled down on the floor with his boy and picked up a few to snap together. His son smiled at him and took the pieces from him, then eagerly placed them atop his creation; which was merely a bunch of blocks snapped together in various arrangements without cohesive shape or pattern. This was normal, and Scott was ahead of the curve with his fine motor skills. However, Xavien looked forward to progress. He did not wish to subject his child to unfair comparisons, but wanted him to excel.

He heard the sound of a sniffle as his wife’s barefoot hit the hardwood landing and padded off toward the kitchen. Mercifully, it seemed that she had calmed enough to attend to dinner. He was ravenous.

He lost himself in the babbling of his child, who would occasionally mix in words from his limited vocabulary. This was cute and enjoyable. When prompted, Scott could identify each letter of the alphabet, and could use small words and phrases to indicate interest in a particular item, function or need. He knew enough to understand that Scott was ahead in that regard, as well. This, however, may well have been some imagined language that his son had concocted for playtime. It was amusing to listen to, but he hoped it didn’t delay his progress any.

Clara called; “Dinner’s ready”

Scott ran off toward the dining room, with Xavien quickly behind. Xavien sniffed the air… Cold cut subs… He was displeased by this. Clara loved them, so he kept his mouth shut.

When he reached the table, he saw that she had composed herself and her usual pleasant demeanor had returned.

Xavien sought her eyes and was rewarded with a small smile.

“I love you.” She said, with a hint of sadness and remorse still in her voice.

He smiled back; “I love you, too, Clara.”

“Let’s eat!” Clara said, pleasantly.

Xavien grumbled internally at the unappealing nature of this meal. Clara tried her best to appeal to his taste-buds with the rare roast beef, which stuffed his sandwich. He truly disliked the sub rolls, lettuce, tomato and condiments that often accompanied it. However, this was one of those social graces that he had swallowed as necessary in other parts of his life. Myrna had often cautioned him against appearing too far outside of the norm with his dietary choices, as people have an odd way of remembering ‘eccentricities’, and he was going to attract enough attention as it was.

He wolfed down his food out of hunger as well as the desire to get passed the undesirable portions of this meal. Scott had small bits of bologna, cheese and tomatoes on his plate. He seemed to enjoy it, but Xavien disliked the processed nature of these foods. If he’d really desired specifics, he very well could have directed Clara to do something differently. Myrna had cautioned him against providing too many boundaries or direction, because he already had the propensity to exert an undue amount of control over every other facet of his life and she mentioned how toxic this would be to his relationship with his young wife.

He scowled at his empty plate. He followed every rule that Myrna had given him. These were good and logical thought processes! He also followed his intuition as to the nature of the irrational tides and flow of emotion that Clara would express. He did everything he was supposed to do, by his estimation… and it wasn’t good enough. As he pondered further… he replayed the conversation that he’d had with Clara upon his arrival home.

She was hiding something else, but had opted not to bring it up in the moment. He’d truly surprised her, and it wasn’t a good surprise in several ways.

Once in awhile, he almost felt as if he’d had a split personality. Xavien knew for sure that this was not the case, but more or less the way his brain presented his primal nature. This intense ball of irrationality often brewed and festered when he was unable to control a bit of his environment.

He knew that, even at his darkest, he was incapable of harming Clara or Scott physically… but Clara did not know of his full nature. He’d assessed that she did not need to know. She’d never given indication that she was quite that resilient or grounded. But despite the fact he would never harm them physically… the psychological damage he was capable of causing was vast. The impulses had risen to the surface… the destructive and enraged beast within him threatened to lash out in every direction. He was certain that this dining room table would be the first to go.

Xavien’s thought pattern was disturbed by a small voice; “Mad, daddy?”

“A little bit, Scott. But it will be okay.” Xavien refused to lie to his child. He had to make deceit an intrinsic part of his life, but had committed to always tell the truth to his son… within his son’s realm of comprehension. Mercifully, that part was limited… for the time being.

“Daddy just had a long day at work. Come on, honey… finish up! Gunna get a bath and then we’ll all cuddle up on the couch before bed.” Clara’s voice soothed, distantly.

“Ducks?” Scott asked slowly. Xavien enjoyed the loaded nature of Scott’s one-word questions. His bevy of rubber-ducks had become a deal-breaker for bath-time of late. A smile broke free on his face; “Of course, Scott. We can get your ducks.”

Clara sighed. This meant that she would have preferred not to involve the ducks in this bath, as it became a protracted event rather than a quick cleansing; “Okay… well… polish off that bit right there and daddy will get your bath water ready…okay?”

“Nom!” came Scott’s enthusiastic response as he shoved the last little bit of processed… food… into his little mouth.

Xavien’s heart ached and began to throb within his chest. Oddly enough, it was of worry and sadness… this sad adrenaline rush. He wanted to cry. Xavien never cried. This was a part of this… love… that he was uncomfortable with. It had a stranglehold on him and affected his emotions that had rarely surfaced prior to his relationship with Clara.

No; no tears. He cleared his throat and rubbed his eyes soporifically to disguise the dampness that had formed.

He felt lightheaded and lead-footed as he mechanically cleared the table, lifted Scott from his chair and ascended the stairs to the bathroom to prepare the bath.

Sadness crept into every part of his conscious mind; there was something terribly wrong. He had failed to account for something, which was a rarity. This failing was going to rear its ugly head and punish his lack of focus. His intuitive nature often flared up at opportune moments and provided him the direction to go. This time, it only served him notice that something was wrong and he would have an unforeseen challenge ahead of him. He needed to talk to Myrna. He rarely felt lost when he talked to her. He usually stored up his questions and kept them for when he visited her. Only rarely would he speak to her on the phone about questions.

It wasn’t that he was not intelligent… but he just did not process things like… normal… people. Myrna was also experienced and socially aware & adept with…

…people of her kind.

Every day, he avoided that distinction… Just like the normal part of his daily routine where he tried to pin down the purest part of himself so that he could operate in… their world. He wasn’t afraid of himself, he wasn’t afraid of others that could be like him. However, he was comfortable in this world; such as it was. He knew that, once the seal was broken… he could never return. Once he assumed his true form and actual nature… Myrna, Clara, Clara’s family and Scott would be in danger.

He’d never been great at forming any relationships with others because of his aloof nature. He would build the rapport, but keep everyone at arm’s length to maintain his privacy. Additionally, due to his mother’s trials, he’d always been suspicious of others. He did not want to endanger those that he loved because of a political or social miscalculation.

He occasionally rued the day that he met Clara. It exposed a side of him he disliked greatly. It lent him to weakness. He knew that a part of his weakness was truly the beast within him, and that this beast was a major part of what loved Clara as well. He disliked the lack of control over himself. Yet, even still, he felt connected to Clara on a level he’d never experienced.

The water was ready, so he grabbed the box of small multi-colored rubbed ducks and dumped them into the tub; “Scott! Come here, boy! Your bath is ready, and the ducks are waiting for you!”

The toddler, already nude, scampered in excitedly; “DUCKduckduckduckduckduckDUCK!”

This child had always been good at spoiling a sour mood. He felt pure joy whenever Scott became excited over something… whatever it was. He was pleased that he had a distraction, but saddened that the lingering sense of impending doom kept him from full immersion in the moment. He sensed motion behind him and looked behind him.

Clara stood in the door in her bathrobe, arms crossed, head against the door frame and a wistful (if not sad) smile on her face. He smelled her sex and it aroused him enough to distract him from Scott’s noisy play and chatter.

She likely was to take a shower tonight. He felt she showered too much, because he rather enjoyed her natural scent; it intoxicated him. Truly, it was one of the main triggers of his attraction to her. The overt and powerful smell was often noticeable to him through even the thickest of her clothes. He sensed a level of arousal with her, and predicted that she wished intimacy after her shower.

He shook himself out of that thought process. It rarely happened, but he felt ashamed if he got an erection when his son was in the room. That was one thing that Clara had never quite understood, especially when Scott was an infant. Xavien had no desire to explore sexual activity if his son was in the room.

Damn. There would be no prevention this time. He sighed and hoped it would subside before he stood up. Xavien re-focused on his son and smiled as Scott held a duck under the water to let it pop up. Each time it happened, Scott would giggle and force a sniff of laughter from Xavien.

Xavien heard Clara step further into the bathroom and crouch down; “I love you so much, darling… Hopefully you’re not too mad for some mommy-daddy time later?”

He loved it when she hinted at sex in that tone. It made him think of impregnating her again, which he really wanted to do. He also enjoyed the taste of her breath, flesh and sex… every part of her body became his focus as they made love. That beast growled within him again, but for a completely different reason this time.

This evening would conclude well, in spite of whatever revelation awaited. Instantly his analytical brain switched on as he tried to deduce what the terrible news could be. He did not smell any trace of another man or another man’s sex… He could not detect any hint of over-cleansing or deception to over-compensate for infidelity. He also knew that she was not pregnant. He believed her to be in excellent health. Her parents enjoyed a loving relationship. They did not have any pets, so there weren’t any worries in relation to those. The bills were paid, and there was food in the house. He didn’t detect any suspicious activity that would indicate anything from the… other part of this world… had encroached upon his life.

He would have to trust that Clara had not engaged in any subterfuge as it related to an emotional affair through the computer or ‘play-group’…

Perhaps she had begun to listen to her female ‘friends’. He disliked them because their advice was wordy and poorly thought out. Most of it was based on assumptions and fallacies, mixed with ’popular belief”, shady statistical references and false claims of ’wanting what was best for her’. Her friends truly did not understand the value she had in her life, and he would fantasize about finding them as victims of vehicular homicide by one of their boyfriends; preferably all at once. It just seemed easier. Not only were these creatures politically conniving and mostly concerned with posturing within their little clique… but they were largely unsuccessful in their own romantic lives and desired to locate ‘dirt’ on Clara’s love life so that they could validate their own pathetic existence. He also sensed that one of them had an intense sexual response whenever she came in close proximity to him. She was also the most vocal about her suspicion that he was cheating on Clara.

He snorted out a laugh. Well, at least his erection had subsided. Scott’s bath time was over, so he lifted the child from the bath and toweled him off and dressed him in his duck pajamas. Ducks were the current obsession in his life, but not the ornithologically-correct ducks; just the rubber toy variety. This was an adorable fascination, which Xavien enjoyed a great deal.

He felt the need to cuddle his child, so he picked the boy up and carried him to the bedroom. Clara was waiting with the storybook, still dressed in her robe. She locked eyes with him and parted her legs. It was not far enough to glimpse anything, but it had the intended effect of stunning Xavien into another frame of mind. He was very much interested in the activity that would ensue shortly after her shower.

This was Scott’s current favorite book; “Ernesto Counts the Rubber Duckies”

Scott scrambled under the covers and gave a big toothy grin as he quietly awaited the story. Xavien crouched on the other side of his race-car bed to watch Scott as the story was read.

Clara read the story and then sang the “Rubber Duck” song. They both kissed the boy on either cheek and Xavien tucked the sheets in around him before they both left the room and closed the door. He liked that Scott did not want or need a night light in his room. He’d heard that many children needed one.

Clara turned and gave him a cryptic look as she sighed; “Early bedtime okay with you tonight?”

He frowned subtly; he rarely needed more than five hours of sleep. Clara seemed to need at least ten… She seemed to have a sexual agenda in mind. Perhaps she wanted to have make-up (or distraction?) sex. He flipped the frown and nodded. If she dozed off early, he would… probably lie awake and dread the discovery of what else she had kept hidden from him.

The two of them walked into the bedroom. Clara stepped ahead of him and dropped the robe slowly from her form. He found this to be odd. He sensed sweat on her skin and oil in her scalp. This was certainly more than enough to trigger her desire for a shower… but her behavior was unusual. Never one to complain, he rocked back on his heels and waited.

She turned as the robe slid to the floor and exposed her nude form. Her large breasts were pushed forward by her arms as she reached for the buttons on his shirt. Quietly, he watched her undress him. Xavien’s desire increased with each second and he resisted the urge to ravage her body. His erection had returned and insistently oozed pre-cum.

He stood before her naked and allowed her to plant small, maddening little kisses all over his body. She carefully avoided his penis with her mouth, but allowed her body to brush against it at every other juncture.

She wished tenderness this night. This was not something that was easy for him to do. Xavien was quite dedicated to following her whim and fulfilling her need for pleasure, but restraint was always difficult. She was also less interested in wild and rough sex since Scott had been born. He never asked why, he did not want to cause any problems.

He felt his irritation intensify as he tired of the teasing and slow progression of their lovemaking. He wished to hammer himself inside of her until they crashed into a loud cacophony of guttural and primal expressions, eventually to fall asleep, contentedly askew on the bed. Her orgasms were singular and slow to come, but quite powerful. They often did not engage in much more after she had climaxed. He was often ready and desirous of more, but only on rare occasions was she interested or able.

Clara slid up and stood to embrace him so that they could kiss. They kissed for several minutes, and then he grunted as he picked her up and carried her to the bed. It was not a grunt from the effort, though she was not a small woman… it was his body telling him that he was quite finished with the delay.

“Make love to me tonight. Gently, sweetheart… Make it last forever… I love you so much, darling.” Clara coaxed.

There was a small part of him that wished to dispel his erection and leave the room. However, the larger part of him would win. He did not like the inflection in her voice. This only served to confirm his concern. Sadness awaited.

He then knew exactly what was wrong. It was over. The reason she wanted their love making to last forever this evening, was because it would either be the last time they would make love… or it threatened to be one of the last few times if something did not change. Suddenly, the emotional and uncontrolled part of him wished to fix everything with this particular sexual encounter. Perhaps he would change her mind with his gentleness and they would reconnect during these next two weeks.

He resolved to make her his greatest case and pay more attention to her than work.

Her juices had saturated her inner thighs and provided a slick path for his cock to slide in easily as he lay atop her. Xavien complied with her desperate request for gentleness. He sensually tended to the rest of her body with his mouth and hands as he gently stroked his penis in and out of her.

A tear escaped her eye as she panted; “Oh Xavien… you’re… this… we are so… beautiful…”

The smallest cringe in the back of his mind anticipated the word “but” remained unspoken.

“My dearest Clara… You are so beautiful. I love you completely. I’ve never desired anyone else.”

She cupped his cheeks and nodded; “I know, baby… I know… I love you…”


One part of him wished to cry. One part of him wished to angrily ravage her body. One part of him wanted to laugh and declare that she wasn’t any mystery, that he had already figured it out. One part of him wanted to quit his job. One part of him wished to destroy every inanimate object in his home and burn the ruins to the ground.

However, the operating part of him desired only to live in this moment and make it last… forever.

Over the next twenty minutes they continued gently rocking against each other. Then, Clara smiled wickedly and shoved him off of her.

He shot her a quizzical look and complied with the motion. She then devoured his cock and continued the blowjob until he growled and came forcefully into her mouth. As his body shuddered through it, it convulsed further as she swallowed his cum and created further suction. He preferred to ejaculate inside of her vagina, but liked when she did this because this meant she wanted to delay her own orgasm for an extended lovemaking session.

He would kiss, tease and caress her while he waited for his refractory to expire. Then he would await her direction. Despondence wished to just leave her unsatisfied. He disliked that he was following her direction, if this was to be the last time. This was the first real time he ever thought of hunting down another female for additional sexual contact. Although it would be borne of pure spite and pain, this was a temptation that had crossed his mind.

Nevertheless, he continued to administer attention to her whole body; seductively avoiding her clitoris in the path he took around her body. Within a few moments he found his state of arousal increase and he moved to enter her. She smiled and shook her head as she pushed him back onto his back.

Then she straddled him and slid onto his penis, then proceeded to ride him slowly. He liked this position, but resented being at her direction due to the situation. He made up his mind to steal her thunder when she would make her halted and tear choked assertion. He would do what he had avoided for so long. With a few more thought processes, he could even conjure up a reasonable hypothesis as to her rationale for something so ridiculous.

At the moment, however, he would just enjoy this. He would also allow himself to cry during this moment. He did not know why, but he saw no reason why not. He was quite empathetic, in spite of all claims to the contrary.

Clara’s smile faded slightly as she kissed the tears from his cheeks; “I know baby… this… oh… so wonderful.”

He disallowed the facial expression of disdain that threatened. He knew she was not his intellectual match, but was relatively stunned at how oblivious she was in this instance.

Eventuality had run its course and he heard her cries escalate. This was to be one of her more powerful orgasms, even by her standard. He also was about to ejaculate, as the intense contractions of her vagina were highly stimulating. Her muscles tightly clamped around his penis which made it more difficult for him to release. Impulse drove him to grasp her hips, raise her up swiftly and then he thrust angrily into her tightened pussy as she screamed and bucked through her climax.

She cried out and pleaded for him not to stop, then collapsed onto him as she shuddered and shook through it. He then filled her with his ejaculate and growled ferociously as his beast threatened to reveal itself. This was a more powerful orgasm than his first, and it caused his vision to redden somewhat. It subsided as the both of them panted and sighed as their bodies recovered.

Uncharacteristically, he drifted to sleep. Clara did so as well, which was not unusual for her.

At two-fifteen in the morning, he awakened as she slid off of him, walked into the bathroom, and then closed the door behind her. He awakened, refreshed and sighed as he realized that five hours of sleep was more than enough. They’d made love for about an hour and twenty minutes total, then had slept for the last five. Now, Xavien would have to figure out how to spend the rest of his time until morning.

He was extremely hungry and also began to contemplate the cancellation of his paid leave. He certainly did not want to spend his leave as he stewed about the end of the only life he had ever wanted. He was also a little scared that he truly had lost Clara due to some accidental infraction.

His frustration mounted at the prospect. He’d not committed any major errors. He’d always expressed his affection appropriately, and remained faithful, financially responsible and gainfully employed. His worst infraction had been an over-immersion in work. He could not fathom what would cause the end of this relationship. Their courtship had been long, and she was very young. He pondered the possibility that her youth and inexperience was the problem. It likely did not help that she had mindless and meddlesome female voices of dissonance in her ear on occasion. Nor did it make it easier that she had not truly had any male companionship besides his own.

However, as he assessed his eligibility, he understood that he was quite a desirable commodity. He had many things to offer, in spite of any perceived and actual failings. He restrained his natural propensity toward control. He refrained from allowing his anger to control his decision making. He was loyal and devoted. He was extremely attractive to females, in stature, facial symmetry, musculature and presented himself well in relation to hygiene and clothing. He was also a loving and devoted father, who did not yell or strike his children. Menial chores and tasks around the house were performed in a timely and exceptional fashion. He also provided the occasional romantic gift and insured that his lovemaking was both giving and sensitive to the other’s needs. Combine that with his exceptional performance at work and, if desired, significant political upside… He was absolutely the perfect mate, by the standards of many.

He refused to think that the failing would be placed with Clara.

He knew her limitations when he began his courtship. So, therefore, any failing that would be hers… became his own.

He heard her feet shift and shuffle in the bathroom. There were muted sobs and sniffles. He sniffed out a couple bitter chuckles; at least he’d have something to do over the next couple hours until morning.

Sure enough, she exited the bathroom. He heightened the resolve from earlier. He wanted to cut to the chase.

“Why is it that I feel that this was good-bye sex?” Xavien spoke quietly.

Stunned, Clara choked out a couple of sobs and clapped her hands over her face.

He wasn’t really in the mood to comfort her; what was the point if she was to cause him this pain?

After several moments, she composed herself enough to pull her hands down and tearfully ask; “Is it that obvious?”

His heart sunk and began its sad, intense adrenaline rush. This time, he reasoned, he would have preferred to be wrong; “Yes, my darling. It is… painfully… obvious… and it has been since you asked for our lovemaking to last forever. It is a shame that forever could only last an hour and twenty minutes.” Xavien spoke coolly, but tears dripped out of his eyes.

“How can you be so cruel? Did you ever love me at all?” Clara spat at him, quietly.

Xavien sobbed quietly and turned on the light so that she could see his tears. He wiped his hands over his face quickly and displayed them under the light; “It doesn’t appear that I mean to be cruel, however it does appear that I have also been the victim of a certain measure of cruelty.”

“Jesus GOD, I’m so tired of how clinically you speak… You are so fucking fake it is a shame I didn’t see it sooner. How convenient that you figure out how to cry the second you don’t get things exactly as you wanted. Do you cry for the other women you fuck, too?” Clara bitterly ground out the words through her teeth.

Xavien had a strong desire for vehicular homicide, with tire tread marks through the skulls of her purported ‘friends’. These socially-destructive creatures were a drain on society, and were the exact type of cancer that could drive some men insane enough to commit murder. Certainly, it would have been much easier to stop the source of the problem. Then again, he’d have to destroy the majority of women if he wished to silence this type of ridiculous and destructive banter. He didn’t regret his violent impulses. The difference between him and a criminal was the self control to prevent the crime itself.

Plus, he figured, that it was almost a crime what these women get away with. He’d like to leave the shoplifters alone and arrest these women instead.

He sighed and chose not to address the ridiculous statement. There would be follow-up insults and demands; he would wait for those before speaking. He’d never personally experienced them, but he’d heard enough chatter around the precinct from the officers and detectives who had trouble at home; most did. Then again, many had actually committed infractions against their significant others.

“So, it’s true, then. You’re fucking a bunch of other women. I knew it. Well… tell me… do I know them, at least?” Clara demanded.

He sighed, already tired of this conversational arc; “Clara, I’ve never had romantic or sexual contact with any female except for you since we met at your job four years ago. I’ve also not had any interest of the sort. This life with you is the one I want.”

“Bullshit. You can’t save the relationship, it’s over. You may as well at least tell me the truth.” Clara sobbed through her rant.

He braced his forearms on his knees and slung his head low, shaking it slowly; “I have no idea where this is coming from. I am a fucking detective and I have no idea where this is coming from. The only thing I can think of is that you are fed up with the lack of time I’ve spent with you, and my long hours. If you’re concerned with—“

“What I’m concerned with is who the hell you’ve been fucking.” Clara snarled.

He felt a pang of anger and anguish as it shook his body like a chill. He was powerless versus this impenetrable wall of stupid.

“Clara, I’ve never insulted you in the entire time I’ve known you. So please don’t take this the wrong way. I just honestly want to know the answer… have you been taking some sort of dietary supplement that has made you a complete fucking idiot?” Xavien said with the cool steel of anger beneath his calm.

“You’ve been playing me like an idiot for years now. You’ve never given yourself completely to me. It’s as if I’ve been this elaborate game. Like… pin the heartbreak on the fat girl.” Clara cried.

He sighed. He’d seen shades of insecurity before, but he’d dismissed them and explained his attraction to her. There was no way he could talk to her. He’d never been in this situation before. He needed to talk to Myrna, but it was too early. He had to stop the conversation, but his morbid curiosity wished to know exactly what the hell crawled into her head and stole her sanity.

“I honestly have not lied to you. I’ve not engaged in intercourse, flirtation, foreplay, afterplay, knowing-glances, online-romances, or any other male-female romantic interludes. I can provide video and audio proof of most of my movements throughout each day. I can also provide eyewitness accounts, financial records in addition to character testimony. You should know that already. The only time that isn’t tracked as a matter of public record… is when you are right fucking there.” He spat out in quiet exasperation.

“Don’t curse at me and try to turn this around on me! You’ve played me like a toy and you’re trying to smooth talk your way out of this like a helpless little boy who has his hand caught in the cookie jar! Not this time, Xavien.” Clara spoke waveringly. He sensed that her resolve was shaking. She believed his assertion that he’d not slept with anyone. However, there was something else in her ear that kept her focused on that topic.

“As coincidence would have it, I’ve got two weeks of free time, Clara. I can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’ve not been unfaithful. You really don’t want to test me on this. Now I’m not turning this around on you, but I want to know exactly who has convinced you this. I want this conversation to be between me and you, not me and them.” Xavien snapped; “And another thing… if you wanted it to be over, you didn’t have to come to me with this bullshit. If I did something wrong… or even if I didn’t… you didn’t have to go through all this. You just needed to say you want out. I’ll move out, I will pay for this house… I will pay for everything so you can be a stay at home mom for Scott. As long as you don’t keep him from seeing me… I will keep your life as it is, extracting myself only. Not out of guilt, but out of equal parts of love for you and a generalized disinterest in future relationships.”

Clara watched him in stunned silence. She seemed unable to speak, so he continued; “Honestly, I think you are unhappy, but it’s not completely something that I have control over one way or another. Then you have those ridiculous and cancerous so-called friends of yours that have been actively trying to be in your ear about how terrible I am. If you don’t have the honor or decency to tell me what the hell this is really about, maybe I don’t even want to know.”

“I… I’m sorry. Xavien… I’m sorry. I’m sorry. You’re right, but… I don’t want it to end like this. I guess I didn’t want it to end, really. I know that doesn’t make sense. I didn’t want there to be ending… I just wanted… out. I didn’t know why. The girls are just trying to be there for me. I know you hate them, but they love me and want what’s best for me.” Clara held up her finger to shush his retort; “I’m sorry… I know it’s me. You’ve always said you’ve been attracted to me. Part of my problem is that you’re… so… attractive… and successful and good… You’re so polished and I feel so… stupid next to you. Selfishly, it would make it a lot easier if you had slept around. I’m not saying that I don’t love you or that I want someone else… But I had the dream for awhile and we lived it… but then I kinda woke up… and have been feeling out of place for awhile. A long while. It’s eaten at me…” Clara said quietly and then trailed off…

He was finished with this bullshit. Xavien put up his hands in conciliatory fashion; “Don’t. I don’t want to hear this. I will give you whatever you want. You know me. I don’t spend money anyway, so whatever you want is yours. Just promise me you will never keep Scott from me, and then I’ll need you to just shut the fuck up while I get some things together to leave.” He choked on his tears with dismay at the fact that his nose was running as well.

“I would never keep Scott from you… ever… Xavy… I never wanted it to be like—“ Clara sobbed, breathing heavily. Xavien had taken the wind out of her sails as she clearly had not anticipated him to let her go without a fight.

He shook his head and grabbed an overnight bag from the top of their closet, then stuffed some clothes in it. He took out the small toiletries bag and put his items from the bathroom in it. He also grabbed his gun, badge, wallet, shotgun and all of his ammunition from the safe. He counted out enough cash for a few weeks rent in a hotel and shut the safe. It was the emergency cash, but he deemed this was an emergency.

“Can’t we talk about this a bit longer?” Clara pled.

“Will we go to couple’s therapy and make this work after a trial separation?” Xavien queried with slight hope.

“I… I don’t know. I don’t think so.” Clara said, sadly.

“Then why waste your breath and my time. I prefer to let my heart break in private, if you really don’t mind.” Xavien shot out, emotionally wounded for the first time in his life.

“Can you sign some papers before you go?” Clara spoke up, quietly.

“What the fuck?! Are you serious?” Xavien tilted his head, suddenly understanding how a man can kill his wife and why he would. He felt ashamed, but bitterly recognized what had taken place within his own mind. He also figured out that there was more to this story that he would not like. “Yeah. Give me that shit. But I’m only going to sign it if you can keep your fucking mouth shut. I don’t want any more details, I don’t want any more drama. I’m going to be out and free you to be with someone that is more of a fit for you.”

“That’s not fair!” Clara whined.

“I’m giving you what you want. That is the very definition of unfair to me.” Xavien reasoned as he wrenched the papers out of her hand, causing them to wrinkle slightly. He signed them and handed them back to her. There was already a witness signature. This wasn’t legal and he could contest it. He recognized the name of one of her female friends, who was an attorney; Trisha Brandywine. A lack of ethics, in this town? It was no real surprise.

The no-fault divorce form was a straight-forward document that had likely been engineered by people that must have expected that he would not resist. There was something fishy going on, and it demanded explanation. It smacked of manipulation, corruption and meta-plot. This concerned him a bit and he began to worry about the safety of his son and erstwhile wife.

He had two weeks to figure it out.

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