Nikki was sitting in the Dumont Insurance office working on the budget for a new marketing plan. Her estranged husband was outside her office schmoozing some rich client about life insurance. She rolled her eyes hearing his fake salesman laugh. If people only knew what a jerk, Carson Dumont, really was.
She had moved into her low-level apartment a couple of weeks ago after he allowed his ex-girlfriend to stay with them. Mercedes was a class-A bitch and still had yet to come to terms that Carson was married to Nikki. Nikki didn’t enjoy having to show up at work every day with him. Especially since they had been separated.
She wanted to work on the marriage, but wasn’t sure if he felt that same. While she was in a tiny rat-infested apartment on the west-side, he was living the high life in their fancy East End mansion with his mistress, Mercedes. Carson claimed he and Mercedes were just old high school friends., but in Nikki’s eyes, she didn’t understand who in their right mind would move in the ex-girlfriend to live with their wife? She couldn’t prove it, but she felt like something wasn’t right. She suspected that he had been cheating, and not for the first time.
Nikki and Carson had not been happy for a while. Although not physically abusive, he was a bully. He made her keep the appearance of a perfect life and the perfect wife. He told her exactly how to walk, talk, and act. Even going as far as to tell her how to dress, and made her stop her career as a writer and artist. Her once dream job as an author was now just a memory. He refused to have kids with her since he had children with his first wife. It was as if all her hopes for her future had vanished without her even realizing it.
To the outside world, he was the famous ex Golden Gloves boxing champ. Everyone loved him. On the inside, he was selfish and demanding. Nikki was a simple country girl. She didn’t get the whole boxing thing in the city that made him so popular. Mohamed Ali was the boxer that put Louisville, Ky on the map. To hear Carson Dumont tell it, he was the boxing hero of the town. Where she was from it was basketball and football that ruled the popular crowds.
Back home she was the nerdy book worm. Although stunningly beautiful, she was never was the socialite Carson wanted her to be. Long dark hair with dark brown eyes and a sweet smile. The perfect beautiful trophy wife to complete his delusions of grandeur.
Nikki went back to her paperwork balancing the budget, ignoring Carson and his fake sales pitch smile. A few minutes later, she sat tapping her pen on her lips bored with her daily duties. This was not the life she had planned for herself, but it seemed too late to change things now.
She saw a blonde man walk in the front door heading straight to Carson. Ruggedly handsome with beautiful blue eyes, the man looked to be very fit and about the same height as her estranged husband.
She saw Carson yell gleefully to the man as if he knew him. She could see the man’s face turned to anger for a split second at the sight of her husband. Nikki got up to go to the glass door of her office to see if she could hear their conversation. They were just talking about the man’s car insurance. Nothing exciting.
She almost turned back to her work, until the man looked up to Nikki and gave a weak half-smile. She smiled back blushing with a slight wave. The man narrowed his eyes with a nod, acknowledging her, but not seeming too interested.
Carson looked annoyed. “I'll fix your damn car. Mercedes says it was an accident. I own a damn insurance company for gosh sake's. We're covered. Just relax, big boy.”
“I don’t give a fuck what she says. She hit my car and took off. A hit and run. It’s a fucking classic! I should go to the police, but I’m trying to give you a chance to make this right.”
Carson just laughed. Of course, he did. 'Pompous ass,' Nikki thought.
Shaking his head in amusement Carson just blew him off and turned away shuffling through papers. “The car is a relic. We will fix your precious little junk heap. Don’t worry, pretty boy. Or, we can work this out another way." Carson turned back to him as a smirk crept across his face. Crossing his arms across his chest he got that cocky look Nikki knew too well. "You can get back in the ring with me a few rounds. Pull out those old gloves and fight me like old times.”
“I don’t fight anymore. I'm retired. I train fighters now.” The man narrowed his eyes glaring at the smug man.
“I heard. A waste of good talent if you ask me. But, then again, you were always a coward. Once I beat you in that street fight after our big match, you lost what fight you had left in ya.”
The man just continued to glare at him seeming unfazed. He was twice the size of Carson muscle wise. Nikki didn’t understand why he would provoke this guy. The man looked as if he could rip him into shreds, even though his face looked innocent. The man bulked up and got in Carson’s face clenching his fist at his sides.
Carson looked down seeing his fist and backed down.
“I'm just messing with you. Dude, relax. I’ll fix your car. Send me your insurance info and we will fix it right up.”
“Be sure you do. I don’t want to have to come back here.”
Carson walked away to smooth talk the next client who was insuring a luxury sedan. He headed to his office with his arm draped over his next client and shut the door.
Carson was so fake it made Nikki sick. She didn’t know why her husband always lived in the past. It always came back to his days as a boxer and the big Golden Gloves win. The night he got in a lucky KO and beat the best fighter in the league, Reece Maddox. His sworn enemy from the best boxing training center in the Midwest.
The man left as Carson came from his office to grab some paperwork.
Nikki stopped him. “Carson, who was that man?”
“Oh, him? That was the infamous, Reece Maddox. Fucking loser. Still has his old shitty 1968 Dodge Charger. We have to fix some damage to it.”
“Wait? Is that what happened to my BMW? Was Mercedes drunk when she was driving my car?”
Carson just ignored her and headed to his office. Nikki rolled her eyes and let out a frustrated breath as he walked away. The man was infuriating.
She went to the front door and watched as the man walked toward his dented classic car. She looked back over her shoulder to see Carson closing his office door while laughing at his own stupid jokes.
Nikki snarled. “Jackass.”
Nikki ran out catching up to the man.
“Hey! Wait up!”
Reece kept walking toward his custom muscle car trying to ignore her.
“You’re Reece, right?”
Reece turned around and didn’t look too pleased. “Yeah. What’s it to you?” He turned to see the lady from earlier and quickly his demeanor softened.
“I saw what happened there. Sorry about my husband. He can be a bit of a jerk.”
As she got closer, Reece became a lot more interested in what he was seeing. Checking her out while trying to seem unimpressed. A beautiful brunette with a nice body was his weakness. He ran his hands over his face in frustration. Just his type.
Under his breath, he grumbled, “Figures. Dumont gets the dream life and the hot wife.”
“He can be a total asshole.”
“Tell me about it.” Reece gave a half-smile.
“Sorry about your car?”
“As long as your hubby fixes my ride we’re cool. Guess Carson has told you a lot about me.”
Reece put his hands in his jean pockets looking seriously annoyed. His chest seeming much broader now under his tight jersey hooded t-shirt. Nikki couldn’t help but notice the skin peeking out under his shirttail as he had his hands crammed in his jean pockets. The V that lead over his hips down under his jeans gave her thoughts she was desperately trying to not think about. She was a married woman after all.
“Yep. He talks about you constantly. His big boxing win. All I ever hear about.”
She crossed her arms trying to hide the fact that she was checking him out a little too. A blush crept across her face as she tried to tear her eyes away from him.
Reece ran his tongue over his lower lip noticing her blushing. If she was single he would be flirting relentlessly. But, he never crossed the adultery line. Never would. It was his number one dating rule.
“Yep. He got the win and the girl. I guess you know that his ex-girlfriend left me that night for him.”
“You mean Mercedes? Sheesh. No big win there. Stupid gold-digger if you ask me.” Nikki started to tear up looking away trying to keep her emotions in check.
“Yep. That’s her. Hey, you okay?”
Reece walked over and put his hand on her shoulder seeing she was clearly upset.
“Yes, Mercedes isn’t exactly my favorite person. Anyway. I’ll be sure he gives you a good amount to fix your car. It was nice to meet you, Reece Maddox. Sorry again about Carson’s attitude.” She shook his hand.
“Thanks. Nice meeting you... umm?”
“Nichole, you can call me Nikki. See you around, Reece.”
He winked at her. “You too, Nikki.”
Her name rolled over his tongue like butter. He shook off the feeling of lust and hopped in his car before he let his hormones do something stupid.
Carson was looking out the window with rage building up inside him. Nikki came back inside smiling to herself and humming a tune, ready to head back to work. The clients had left and they were alone. A hand grabbed her and she was pushed into Carson’s office.
“WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!”
Nikki pulled away. “Calm down. I was just apologizing for your rude behavior. You can't talk to clients that way. You know that. Carson, you need to get past this Golden Gloves stuff. It’s been seven years. Grow up.”
Nikki started to leave and he pushed her against the door blocking her exit.
“Never talk to that guy again. Understood? He tried to ruin my life.” Carson snarled.
“Don’t tell me who to talk to, Carson. I know the stories. You tell me all the time how big mean the horrible, Reece Maddox and the Right Hooks, were at the gym. I have heard a hundred times how they bullied you as a rookie. You had to win your precious match to keep your dignity. Since that woman who started that whole mess is living in my house, I’m questioning if the whole story you told me is really true. Maybe there is more to it than you let on.”
Nikki teared up looking away. She had fought back those tears for weeks. Saying those words made her realize her husband was not the man she thought she married.
“Nikki, it’s not like that. Everything I said was true. Baby, I love you. I am married to you. Not Mercedes.”
Carson tried to hug her and she pushed his hands away.
“Don’t touch me. Until that woman is out of our house we are nothing. Understand?”
Carson slammed his fist over her head onto the door of his office. The loud bang making her jump.
“Why are you such a bitch? Mercedes needed a place to stay since she is moving back to Kentucky. I’m just trying to help a friend.”
“Then she should be the one to live in the shit hole you rented for me. Not your wife. Get your mistress out of my house!”
Nikki shoved him trying to make him move away from the door. Carson quickly grabbed her shoving her against the wall almost ready to hit her. Fist doubled he pulled back ready to strike.
“Hit me! It couldn’t be any different than the way you already treat me. I’m your wife and you have no respect for me. But, that woman bats an eyelash and she’s living in our home. Even though I asked you not to, she is still there.”
“My home. Not yours. I pay the bills there, sweetheart. I want Mercedes there and she stays. Like it or not. I pay for your fancy clothes and cars. Without me, you’re just another low life bottom feeder.” Carson got in her face grabbing her chin to force her to look at him and Nikki struggled under his grip. “I’ll give you two weeks to calm down. Then you better be back in that house and keep your damn mouth shut! I run things around here. Don’t forget that.”
“Let go! You’re hurting me. Why are you doing this to me? I thought you loved me, Carson?”
She started crying trying to pull away from his grip. Carson forced a kiss until she gave in and kissed him back. Even though the feel of his touch had come to repulse her over the past few months. She wanted to run out of the room but was no match for his strength. He ran his hands down her thigh and up the edge of her pencil skirt.
Carson smirked. “Remember that baby. It’s been months since I’ve had you in my bed. That sweet little ass better be home soon, before I do decide to get someone else. I want your keys to the BMW and the Jag. If you plan on living away from me I’m not going to make this easy. Punishment for the trick you pulled outside earlier. You can take the bus or walk. I’ll let you see what it was like for me back when I was poor living in that place. Maybe you will appreciate what you have.”
He heard a ding at the front door which meant someone had entered the reception desk. He walked out and instantly got on his fake sales agent smile for the next client. Straightening his suit jacket and shaking hands as if nothing happened.
Nikki rubbed off the degrading feel of the moisture from his lips. She fell into his big office chair crying, pulling her knees to her chest. She wanted to work this out. She loved Carson. But, day-by-day she just wanted out of the nightmare she was living in.
For the last few years, it felt like they had fallen out of love. She was never sure he ever did. She was always reminded how much better Mercedes was at everything. How Mercedes was his first true love.
Nikki loved him once with all her being but it was fading fast. She was quickly coming to terms that she was nothing more than a trophy wife. She realized her perfect marriage was slowly fading into a bleak end and somehow she might even be okay with it.