Preface: Not My Fault
One year ago
When you get engaged to someone, you expect it to last forever. They’re supposed to be your one and only, for the rest of your life. You certainly don’t expect the worst to happen during the most exciting time of your life. I didn’t, especially not on our special day.
This specific day, I was happy as could be. I smiled down at my phone, fighting the urge to spoil my surprise as I stared at my fiancé’s sweet response to me. It was Friday, I was off work early, and I was on my way back to our apartment to make tonight perfect and romantic. After all, it was our five-year anniversary.
Half a fucking decade. That’s a long time to be with someone.
I sighed in content, typed out a quick response, and relaxed in the back seat of the cab. I had managed to finally get off work early from my new job, a task that proved to be quite a challenge for several weeks. I had only started there about three months ago, before I had even graduated law school. As an assistant, time off was almost a sin. Even though I loved my job, I wished I was more than just the office’s coffee-runner.
But hey, I mean, you gotta get your foot in the door somewhere, right?
Lost in thought, I didn’t realize at first when my Lyft pulled up in front of my building. I thanked the driver and climbed out, grabbing my grocery bags and making my way upstairs, grinning like an idiot the whole time. Precariously balancing my bags in my arms, I unlocked the door and kicked it open, then leaned back against the door to shut it. I only made it halfway into the kitchen before I froze, my smile faltering.
There, tucked behind my sugar jar, was a purple lace bra, and not in a shade I recognized. My blood ran cold. No, he wouldn’t.
My arms were growing tired, and I suddenly didn’t have the motivation to make dinner anymore. I dropped my bags on the floor and gingerly picked up the undergarment with my index finger.
Size 36D. Definitely not mine.
“Kevin, are you home?” I called out loudly, my voice wavering, trying to deny the dark turn my thoughts were taking. There was a scuffling noise that sounded from the bedroom, so I stomped toward it, feeling heat rise in my cheeks. I threw open the door and saw Kevin lying on the bed in only a pair of boxers, looking relaxed.
“Babe, what are you doing home so early?” He wondered, frowning.
No “Happy Anniversary,” no smile, nothing.
“It’s our anniversary, asshole,” I seethed, holding up the bra.
His mouth opened in a wide O. “Honey, I can explain—,” he started.
I threw the bra at him. “You can explain how another woman was in our apartment and happened to take her bra off? No, there is no explaining this. It’s clear as day.”
He stood up, light brown eyes flickering with annoyance. “Aubrey, chill out before you start making some pretty serious accusations.”
I huffed and stormed to the bathroom in our bedroom, searching behind the shower curtain, the doors, the closet, for any sign of another woman in my space.
Now, let me clarify, I wasn’t a jealous girlfriend. I was extremely generous actually, and didn’t confront women when they tried to flirt with Kevin. He was insanely handsome, with dirty blonde hair cropped close and eyes similar to the color of copper. But, let’s also remember I just found another woman’s bra on my kitchen counter.
“Cut the bullshit, Kevin. Is she here?” I demanded.
He sighed and rubbed his eyes with the backs of his hands. “No, she’s gone. She left in a trench coat.”
My jaw dropped. First of all, he admitted it. Second of all, a trench coat? I laughed, almost manically. “A trench coat? You seriously expect me to believe that? What, is she some call-girl?”
Kevin’s cheeks reddened. He reached under the bed and pulled out a skimpy black piece of lingerie. “That’s exactly it.”
The room swung before me as my breath caught. What the fuck?
“Kevin, I-I don’t understand,” I stammered. I stared at the “love of my life,” appalled, hurt, and confused. I leaned against the doorjamb, suddenly at a complete loss of words.
“Aubrey, it’s not you,” he said quietly as he pulled on a t-shirt.
Great, I’m getting this conversation.
Five years. Five years and this is the excuse he decided to go with?
Kevin started to walk toward me with caution, his clothes momentarily forgotten. “Aubrey, sweetie, you have to know that.”
I shook my head and held up my left hand. “Don’t come any closer,” I responded, my voice so low it was scary. “How long has it been going on for? And why?”
He shrugged a shoulder sheepishly. “Two years. There are just… needs that I have that you can’t fulfill.”
I scoffed. “So it is me,” I snapped. I couldn’t even process the emotions going through me. I just walked across the bedroom, opened my closet, grabbed a suitcase, and started throwing clothes into it.
“Aubrey, you’re my fiancée. Please don’t do this,” he pleaded.
“Actually, ex-fiancée,” I corrected. “Nearly half our relationship you lied to me. You made your decision, and I wish the best for you,” I added as I zipped my suitcase, hauling it off the bed.
“Where do you plan on going? You sold your apartment,” he called after me.
I paused on the threshold of the room. “That’s none of your concern anymore. However, I was so kind as to buy you groceries for a romantic dinner tonight. Happy Anniversary.” I resumed my journey to the front door, which now felt like a million miles away. I held myself much stronger than I felt. How could this happen? How?
I heard Kevin’s shuffling footsteps behind me. “We’re not even going to talk about this?”
I whirled on him, bringing him to an abrupt half-naked halt inches from me. “Are you kidding me?” I barked. “You only want to talk about it because I found out. Were you ever going to tell me?”
He bit on his thin lip. I loved when he did that; I fought the urge to reach up and caress his face, but I just stared into his remorseful brown eyes. “I’d been planning to for so long, I just didn’t know how…” his voice tapered off as his eyes welled with tears. “I met her about two years ago at a bar, we got to talking, nothing more. She told me what she did for a living and that she has many clients who she ‘takes care of’,” he explained, his voice rising as I tried to protest.
I snapped my mouth shut just to hear what he could possibly have to say. “Anyway, one night I was lonely. You were out late studying, so I decided to call her. Things just got really out of hand. I was going to stop, I swear. But then we got engaged, and then you got the new job, which you’ve been so busy at. I have been too, and she’s really flexible with my work schedule. She helps me feel not so neglected since you work so much,” he continued, a pearly tear now trickling down his cheek.
I threw my head back and cackled without emotion. “Oh, please, you’re going to play the work card? Well, fuck you. It’s over.” I spun on my heel, dragging my suitcase behind me. I stopped once more, this time with my hand on the doorknob. “Oh, one more thing: I’ll be coming by this weekend to get the rest of my stuff. I don’t want to see you when I do.”
With that, I left, ignoring the look on his face that completely tore me apart. As the door of that life shut behind me, both literally and figuratively, the emotions crashed into me all at once. Grief, heartbreak, humiliation, confusion… I didn’t have enough fingers to count the things I felt. I stiffly walked down the stairs, tears falling with each step. When I made it outside, I gasped in the fresh air, closing my eyes and cherishing how cool it felt against my hot skin.
It was me.
I made him feel neglected. I made him turn on us.
I could just imagine the familiar creaking of our bed frame as he fucked her. It had been an issue for months, and it always drove us crazy how it made a noise every time one of us moved. What was once a fond memory was now tainted by infidelity.
I requested a Lyft, climbed inside, and went to a hotel to pickup what was left of my dignity.