A tight pressure accumulated in Allie's head. Her bedroom was huge, but tonight it was small and crowded. She didn't make an attempt at the door; she never thought of doing that. Her vision blurred in and out, examining the features of her husband, hoping the naked man on the bed was a different person: it was the same honey-colored hair, the piercing gaze, the strong jaw, the scar on his abdomen from the time he gave her one of his kidneys. Part of her wanted to scream in anger, but her chest had no strength. It was as if claws stabbed her stomach and crushed her heart.
She recognized the woman beside him, resting her head on Allie's own pillow.
She was Dean's girlfriend before he and Allie fell in love almost a decade ago. She hadn't changed her short haircut although now she had bangs. The tall and skinny woman had a husband, too.
How could Dean Freeman, the love of Allie Freeman's life, do this to her? They had a good reason for being naked in bed. She wasn't seeing right. There was no way that after years of dealing with deceiving men, the only man she trusted had lied to her.
Why was he not saying anything?
"I'm going to change." Meryl wrapped herself in the turquoice sheets that Allie and Dean bought together a month before and sauntered into the bathroom.
Allie swallowed, keeping calm. She fixed her eyes on the ottoman by the bed, replacing the previous image with its chevron pattern fabric. Memories superimposed.
"Why am I surprised?" she said. "After everything Meryl's cousin did to us, to you, it was a matter of time before Meryl planned something like this. If she drugged you, seduced you...we're, we're...we're gonna get through this...together."
Dean sat up, doing nothing to cover his manhood. He plodded toward his frozen wife, pulled the back of her neck, and prized her lips. His tongue penetrated into her mouth with the same ardor as the day he declared his love for her. The tower between his legs pressed against her.
Then he stepped back abruptly and held her jaw up, making eye contact. Allie had never seen those pupils, not the way they carved at her.
"Sweetheart." Finally, his beautiful voice. No other word made her feel safer. "You are so naïve, so stupid."
Mrs. Freeman held her breath, repeating her husband's words in her head.
"She didn't seduce me," he added. "I was the one who convinced her to leave her husband."
Allie jumped back as invisible insects crawled up her limbs.
"This is something I've wanted for a long time." He picked his clothes off the floor. "Recovering the memories I lost for eight whole years included remembering Meryl. I didn't understand my feelings for her until I understood my feelings for you. I took two years to reach to this conclusion, but I've finally come to realize that I stayed with you out of petty and out of a sense of responsibility for my children."
Allie's fingers trembled. A high pitch sound resonated in her ears.
"No, I don't believe you," she whispered. "We've been through so much. You wouldn't abandon the business. You wouldn't leave me. You wouldn't leave your children. The Dean I know would never do that."
Dean opened his mouth to speak. He stared into the space beside him, then moved toward his nightstand and opened a drawer. His hand pulled out a thick yellow packet and dropped it on the ottoman.
With heavy steps, the girl unwinded the string around the official seal of the Harris County, Texas clerk.
"Original petition for divorce," she read the big bold letters.
"I'm not leaving you or the kids or the business, Allie," said Dean. "You're leaving us."
The wife kept his eyes opened wide for a moment. She frowned and shook her head.
"You're divorcing me. You're leaving me. Andrew and Daniel's relationship with you have nothing to do with this. Those poor boys love their father."
"You still don't get it. I'm not leaving my sons."
Allie made an unconscious grin at Dean's statement of insanity.
"You think these piece of crap documents will magically make me give up everything so you can replace me with your whore? You think she can be a better mother to my children."
"Our," Dean corrected her.
"My." The mother beat her chest. "My children!" she yelled. "I fucking raised them for eight years by myself, so if you think you can take them away from me, you are more than welcome to try. But I will suck the company dry to make sure you never see them again. Don't fuck with me, Dean Freeman. I can send you back under the freeway."
"Oh, really? Who's gonna back you up?" he sniggered.
"The law. Everyone around me. The billions I have sitting in a bank account."
"Only if that money was truly yours. And unfortunately for you, a judge will rule against you."
"What the fuck are you talking about?"
"I can't believe you don't remember the inheritance clause."
"The one Olivia Clarke, your mother's lawyer, made her sign before she died. You may inherit Wellington Family Farms and all of its assets until you marry, in which case, all assets, including those gained after the inheritance, will automatically belong to your husband."
Allie March trusted Dean Freeman so much that her love for him made her forget all about the fine print. That clause was no more than a technicality in their marriage. The woman began sobbing.
"You want a divorce, fine. Take the money. Take it all. Just don't take my babies, please."
"Ugh." Meryl's nasal voice interrupted. "I hate seeing people beg. Pathetic."
Allie clenched her jaw and turned her body. She swung her fist at Meryl, but Dean twisted her wrist.
"Agh, you're hurting me."
Dean shoved her arm to the side.
"I'll give you ten minutes to fill up a suitcase and get the fuck out of my house."
"No, no, no," Allie cried.
"Get out!" Dean gripped her arm and pushed her into the closet. He grabbed a small suitcase from under the coathangers and threw it at her torso.
The light plastic material didn't hurt her but made her lose her balance and fall on her back. The man stomped toward her with one arm in the air. She covered her face, bracing for his fist. When his arm came down, he froze for a second and stormed out of the room.
This chapter is dedicated to