It was a hot spring day. The classroom was almost empty and Lizbeth could hear the birds singing outside. She was tidying the final exams before putting them inside her briefcase.
Even though she couldn’t conceal the exhaustion invading her body after a whole hard-working week, she couldn’t hide the satisfaction of watching the next generation studying so hard to change the world one day.
She went out of the classic style building and walked towards her car. After an entire day under the sun, the inside of the vehicle was like a blazing hell. She took off her khaki blazer and put it on the passenger’s seat together with her other stuff. She walked to the other side, turned on the engine, and soon after, she was driving back home.
The streets were vibrant and colorful. With the sun shining bright in the sky, people seemed happier. They took the kids to the park more often and used to meet friends to catch up while drinking a beer or a coffee. Everyone in the neighborhood was walking up and down the streets, shopping, or simply enjoying the pleasant weather. But as sunny as it was outside, Lizbeth couldn’t stop the bittersweet emotion that shadowed her mind.
As a forensic psychology doctor specialized in traumatic experiences and psychopathic tendencies, she had seen the darkest side of the world, or so she thought.
For the last six weeks, she had been juggling between her full-time job as a professor at Virginia State University and the temporary one as an FBI consultant. Spending many hours reading through the case’s files and checking some horrid pictures to analyze the psycho behind them made her realize how destructive the human being could be.
That monster—that was the least he could be called—had killed several women around the country. He was a violent man with a compulsiveness out of control but intelligent enough to cover his tracks. The worst thing was that his crimes didn’t show a hint of hesitation nor remorse.
The FBI was closing in on him, but they had no DNA or physical evidence to confirm the identity of the suspect, it was all circumstantial. It was frustrating and energy draining.
Lost in thought, she arrived home. After driving the same road for a couple of years, she knew every bump in it so the automatic pilot used to take over.
Glad that she didn’t have any meetings with the special agents or any other obligations, she decided to dedicate the afternoon to herself. It was going to be the first day in weeks she would have time to relax.
Unfortunately, as soon as she opened the front door of her house, she found herself face to face with another kind of evil.
“Hi, Liz!” the woman said with a condescending grin plastered on her face.
“Hello, Cordelia,” the psychologist muttered.
Her future mother-in-law was wearing high heels sandals with a summer dress and too much makeup on her face. The perfect wrapped low bun and those huge pearl earrings gave her that snooty air that characterized her.
“What are you doing here?” Lizbeth asked her as she left her bag and blazer on the couch. She knew her future mother-in-law was in the city but never thought she would have gotten into their apartment without any of them being there.
Again, why the hell did we give her a copy of the keys?
“How rude!” the woman sneered, “I came to see my son. Do you have a problem with that?” she scoffed.
“Not at all, but you know he works late, so why are you really here?” she pressed.
Cordelia let out a soft snicker. “I wanted to talk to you.”
Lizbeth held back the urge to roll her eyes because she knew how to behave even if all she wanted to do was to kick that woman out.
“What about?” She crossed her arms over her chest and leaned on the back of the couch.
“Let me get straight to the point.”
“Why won’t you give me a grandson?”
“What?” Lizbeth raised her voice more than she intended to; brows lifted in surprise.
“My son told me about your discussion. How come you don’t want to have kids?” she questioned, looking at her with that puppy eye look Lizbeth had seen a thousand times but didn’t buy. Cordelia was a manipulative witch.
“It’s none of your business.”
“It is my business when it concerns my son!” she spat back, nose scrunching up in disgust.
“Whatever you say, but I’m not talking about this with you.” Lizbeth started walking away but Cordelia grabbed her arm, making her turn back.
“You’re a woman! You’re supposed to give him an heir. In our family, you don’t do things like living under the same roof without being married! This is something he would have never done before. He could have worked as a district attorney in any big city like New York and not in this shithole. And now you also deny us this? How dare you?” Her eyebrows creased together as she talked in a nasty, high-pitched, arrogant tone of voice.
“Again, Cordelia. It’s none of your business.”
Breathe… Don’t let her get to you.
After living in San Francisco for a while and working in a psychology clinic, Lizbeth was offered a job as a professor at Virginia University, which was why they moved back to her hometown. She hated that Cordelia thought she shouldn’t have aspirations as well.
“You were just a poor thing before you met him, haunting him with that vicious personality of yours to get your dirty hands on our money. You don’t deserve to be part of this family!”
“Maybe I don’t want to be part of it!” she shouted back at her; fists clenched on both sides of her body.
Lizbeth used to be very patient, but she was at the edge. A few days before she had gone to the doctor only to find out that the chances of her ever becoming a mom were scarce, the news shattering her heart. She wasn’t ready yet, but she had always dreamed about her kids playing with her brother’s one day, watching them growing together like best friends.
“You’re too arrogant and selfish to think about anyone that’s not blood-related to you, and still you make them miserable. So, stop telling me what I should do!”
“How dare you talk to me like that?” Cordelia exclaimed as she opened her eyes wide in surprise. Lizbeth had never talked to her like that.
“How dare you!” the psychologist fired back, “this is my house and you have the nerve to come here and insult me in my face!”
“It’s my son’s house!” she told her with a poisonous haughtiness.
“I’m done! Get out of here!” Lizbeth shouted as she pushed her down the hallway.
“You can’t do this!” the woman shouted.
“The hell I can’t!” Lizbeth roared, slamming the door in her face.
“I’ll tell Nicolas about this!” the vixen threatened from the other side.
“I don’t care!” Lizbeth shouted with her back pressed to the wall.
When the clicking of Cordelia’s heels faded away, Lizbeth let herself fall to the floor. The pressure in her chest building up while the tears flooded her eyes. With a storm about to explode inside her head, she couldn’t control the shaking in her body.
Lizbeth had loved Nicolas, but she wasn’t sure of what her feelings were anymore. He used to be a kind and adorable lawyer student with messy dark chocolate hair. He used to make her laugh, and he had huge dreams about saving the world but as the years passed, he had turned into a very ambitious man, forgetting about her as he got engrossed with his job.
Lizbeth hated it but Cordelia was right about one thing. She didn’t fit there.
After brooding over their past, present, and future, she came to a conclusion. The realization was painful beyond imagination. Her perfectly planned life shattering around her. It stung and hurt, but it was for the best. They had nothing in common anymore. Prolonging the inevitable was pointless.
When she had let it all out and her corneas were dry, Lizbeth got up and ran upstairs. Going straight into the master bedroom, she took a few suitcases from the closet in the corridor and placed them open on the bed.
Suddenly, Nicolas’s voice startled her. “What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m leaving,” she responded, looking at him over her shoulder. He was tense, confused and angry, probably because Cordelia had called him crying with a dramatic story.
“You talked back to my mother, yet you’re the one acting as someone offended you?”
“She insulted me,” she said as she kept moving around and putting her belongings inside the suitcases.
“Can you stop for a second?” he asked.
“What?” She stared into his chestnut eyes, feeling a pang of pain in her chest.
He looked exhausted but he would never admit it or take a break. She understood that love for work but she knew when to stop. Why wouldn’t he see he was killing himself? Was that really the way he wanted to live his life? Working sixty, or even seventy, hours a week for the rest of his life, not seeing her or his friends?
“She’s dying to be a grandma...” Nicolas said in a softer tone as he took off his tie.
“I’m sure that after we get married and have a baby of our own, we’ll get closer again,” he told her in a low voice as he approached her.
“That makes so much sense, yeah,” she snorted.
He completely ignored her remark and brushed his fingertips over her jaw, his eyes lingering on her lips as his hand moved to her cleavage and started unbuttoning her shirt.
If she hadn’t been so angry, she wouldn’t have minded shower sex after work—they used to enjoy those—but he was trying to avoid the conflict, to avoid the discussion they had been postponing for so long. She couldn’t believe he was trying that on her.
“What do you think you’re doing!?” she asked as she took a step back.
“Come on, Angel…” he insisted, a soft smile on his lips.
“No!” She slapped his hand away when he tried to reach for her again.
“What’s your problem?” he snapped, “I’m trying to do it right. We need to keep going forward. What are you scared of?”
“I’m not scared of anything. I just don’t want to have kids now… With this new part-time job, I’m not sure I want to bring a new life into this world.” She lied, trying to convince herself. “I… I… Why do you keep pushing it? And why did you have to talk about it with your mother?” The lump in her throat was making it difficult to talk.
They had been trying for a while, but she was under a lot of stress at work and wouldn’t get pregnant. However, after going to the doctor and learning about what was really wrong, Lizbeth was still trying to figure out how to tell him that the chances of them having a baby were lower than getting struck by lightning.
Trying to be the perfect partner for him, she had forgotten about herself and what she wanted from that relationship. She had focused so much on her career, on supporting him, and what the world could say since he was a public figure, she hadn’t seen the rest of her life crumbling down around her. It was like a tragicomedy.
“She’s my mother and I needed her advice.”
“She’s never liked me, Nick! She’d do anything to get rid of me.”
“That’s not true. She’s cheered for us from the beginning.”
“Are you blind?” She wanted to laugh. Or cry. She wasn’t sure anymore.
“Liz, she just wants us to be happy.”
“She wants you to be happy with a rich, snobby woman! If I ever have kids, she’s not going to be around to turn them into capricious little monsters like her!”
“You’re talking about my mother here...” he warned her.
“Whatever. I’m done with this.” She turned back and walked into the bathroom.
“Can we talk about this, please?” he asked in a calmer tone of voice when she came back.
“No. I’m tired of everything. The lies, the fake smiles…” she said, zipping the suitcase.
“Liz, I love you and I want to marry you. I want to start a new chapter together... Why don’t you see it?” he asked, truly lost, as if she had lost her mind. His eyes pleading.
At any other moment, she would have felt weakened and enamored by his words but that last year had slowly broken them apart. She knew he loved her, he had been nothing but good to her, but she was tired of begging for attention and support. She was tired of his overbearing family trying to control their lives. The pain had turned unbearable, loneliness and emptiness eating her alive. She hadn’t signed up for that.
“Yeah. I can see the big dreams you have for us, but you never listen to my opinions.”
“Are you serious?” She spat. “Nick, I haven’t worked my ass off for so many years to end up being a housewife as your mom wants me to be at the age of thirty. I have dreams too, you know?” She was on the verge of tears. “We want things from life that are not compatible...” Lizbeth almost choked at the end.
“What are you implying?” Concern covered his face, making it even harder for her to say the words that had to be said.
Lizbeth swallowed hard, looking into his beautiful eyes for one last time. “I’m sorry but we’re done.”
And with that, she walked out of the house.