It was a hot spring day. The classroom was almost empty and Lizbeth could easily hear the birds singing outside. She was tidying the final exams she just got from her students before putting them inside her bag.
“Bye, Ms. Ackerman!” The last student bowed before walking out of the classroom.
“Bye!” she said with a smile.
Lizbeth couldn’t hide the satisfaction she felt watching the next generation studying so hard to change the world one day, but neither could she conceal the exhaustion that was slowly invading her body.
She was a forensic psychology professor at Virginia State University but for almost a few months she had been also working as an FBI consultant.
She was a sharp and very well-known doctor who specialized in traumatic experiences and psychopathic tendencies so, when the Behavioral Science Unit contacted her asking for help she couldn’t say no.
Lizbeth had never done anything like that in her life before but she was good at her job and that gave her some confidence. However, it was draining the energy out of her. In addition to her busy schedule at college, she had to spend many hours reading through the files and checking some horrid pictures to analyze the psycho behind them.
This human monster —that was the least he could be called— had killed several women around the country. He was a violent man with a compulsiveness he couldn’t control but intelligent enough to cover his tracks. The worst thing was that his crimes didn’t show a hint of hesitation nor remorse. He was like a tornado, destroying everything at his pass without looking back.
The federal law enforcement agency was closing in on him but they had no DNA or physical evidence to confirm the identity of the suspect, it was all circumstantial. They were sure who the guy was but they needed help from an outsider, someone not personally involved, because one of the victims was a special agent from their unit —some sort of conflict of interest issue, they had told her.
She went out of the classic style building and walked towards her car. After a whole 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 all her other stuff.
Lizbeth turned on the engine and pressed the air conditioner’s button to cool down the atmosphere a little. Leaning on the side of her car, she checked the news on her phone but after a couple of minutes she finally got in, hoping the steering wheel wasn’t burning. Soon after, she was driving back home.
The streets were pretty lively at that time of the year. With the sun shining bright in the blue 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.
After driving the same road for years, she knew almost every bump in it so the automatic pilot used to take over. Thirty minutes later she reached her destination.
It was the first day in weeks she didn’t have any meetings with the special agents from the FBI. She would finally have some time to relax and take care of herself. Unfortunately, as soon as she opened the front door she found herself face to face with the devil.
“Oh, hi, Liz!” she said with a cloying tone of voice. A condescending grin plastered on her face.
“Hello, Cordelia,” Lizbeth dryly muttered.
She was wearing high heels sandals with a summer dress and too much makeup on her face. A perfect wrapped low bun and those huge pearl earrings giving her that snooty air that characterized her.
“What are you doing here?” she bluntly asked her as she left her bag and blazer on the couch.
“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 here?” she pressed.
Cordelia let out a soft snicker. “I wanted to talk to you.”
The psychologist felt the need to roll her eyes, but she didn’t because she knew how to behave even if all she wanted to do was to kick her out.
“What about?” She crossed her arms over her chest and sat on the back of the couch.
“Let me get straight to the point.”
“Why won’t you give me a grandson?”
“What?” She 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 put on an innocent expression, looking almost concerned about it, but Lizbeth knew her well enough. Cordelia was a manipulative witch and all she wanted was to get information out of her.
“It’s none of your business. This is something between Nicolas and me.”
“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 and you’re supposed to give him an heir. In this family, you don’t do things like this. Living under the same roof without even being married it’s something he would have never done before he met you. He could have worked as a district attorney in any big city like New York and not in this shit hole. And now you’re also denying us this? How dare you?” Her eyebrows creased together as she said this in a nasty high-pitched, arrogant tone of voice.
“Again, Cordelia. This is none of your business, it’s our life whether you like it or not and we’ll be the ones deciding that.”
Breath… Don’t let her get to you.
After living in San Francisco for a while and working in a psychology clinic she was offered a job as a professor at Virginia University, and that was the reason why they moved back to her hometown. She hated that Cordelia thought she shouldn’t have aspirations as well.
“You were just a poor little thing before you met him. You haunted 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 your stupid family!” 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 and found out that the chances of her ever becoming a mom were pretty low. Her heart broke in a million pieces because she wasn’t ready to be one yet but she always dreamed about her kids playing with his brother’s one day, watching them grow together like best friends.
“You’re too arrogant and selfish to think about anyone that’s not blood-related to you, and even then you make them miserable. So, stop telling me what I should do. I’ve had enough of this shit!”
“How dare you talk to me like that!” she said with an offended look on her face. Eyes opening wide in surprise since that was the first time in years Lizbeth had talked to her like that.
“How dare you?!” she fired back at her, “this is my house and you have the nerve to come here and make accusations and insult me in my face!”
“It’s my son’s house!” she told her, a poisonous haughtiness filling her voice as a smirk spread on her face.
“I’m done! Get out of here!” Lizbeth said as she dragged her down the hallway.
“You can’t do this!” the woman shouted. She loved drama.
“The hell I can’t!” She slammed the door in her face.
“I’ll tell Nicolas about this!” the vixen threatened from the other side.
“I don’t care!” Lizbeth cried out with her back to the wall.
When the clicking of her heels faded away, Lizbeth let herself fall to the floor. The pressure in her chest building up while the tears flooded her eyes. Her head felt about to explode and 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 and the people in it but as the years passed, he turned into a mealy-mouthed, serious, and ambitious man. All he cared about was having a good reputation as a lawyer and his renowned family. Too engrossed in his job as he was trying to become the best in his field, he completely forgot about her, making her feel just a mere trophy.
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 future was 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 with a heavy heart 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 simply responded, looking at him over her shoulder. He was tense, confused and angry, probably because Cordelia came crying to her son with a dramatic scene.
“You talked back to my mother yet you’re the one acting like someone offended you?”
“She insulted me,” she said as she kept moving around and putting her belongings inside the almost full suitcases.
“Can you stop for a second?” he asked, pinching the bridge of his nose between his index finger and thumb. He looked exhausted but he would never admit it or take a break.
“What?” She looked him straight into his chestnut eyes.
“She’s just dying to be a grandma, Liz...” he said in a softer tone as he took off his tie.
We’re not here to please her. She bit her tongue.
“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. Then, his hand moved to her cleavage and started unbuttoning her shirt.
If she hadn’t been so angry she wouldn’t have minded some shower sex after work —the used to enjoy those— but he was trying to avoid the conflict, to avoid that discussion they had been postponing for so long. She couldn’t believe he was actually trying that on her.
“What do you think you’re doing!?” she asked as she took a step back. Eyebrows furrowed.
“Come on, don’t be so strait-laced, Angel,” he insisted, a soft smile on his lips.
“I’m not!” She slapped his hand away when he tried to reach for her again.
“What’s wrong with you?” he snapped, “I’m just 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, not right now at least. Why do you keep pushing it? And why did you talk about it with your mother?” She was on the verge of tears again.
They had tried for a while but she was under a lot of stress at work and she wouldn’t get pregnant —that’s what she thought at first. It was so frustrating, they finally took a break.
However, he had brought the subject back again a month before and she still hadn’t figured out how to tell him that the chances of having a baby were lower than getting struck by lightning. She was so scared of being kicked out of his life she hadn’t thought about herself and what she really wanted out of that relationship or life in general. She had focused so much on her career she hadn’t realized that the rest of her life was slowly crumbling down.
She didn’t understand how her life had turned out that way. 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. Look what she’s done to you!”
“What she’s done to me?” He let out a dry chuckle, the family signature arrogance shining in it. “All she’s done is to cheer 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 snobby woman like her! If I ever have kids she’s not going to be around to turn them into little capricious monsters like her!”
“You’re talking about my mother here...” he warned her.
“Whatever. I’m done with this.” She snapped, turning back and walking into the bathroom to get her nourishing creams and makeup.
“Can we talk about this later, please?” he asked in a calmer tone of voice when she came back.
“No. I’m tired of everything. The lies, the fake smiles, the posturing...”
“Liz, I love you and I want to marry you. I want to start a new chapter together... I’d love to see my daughter growing up to be a beauty, just like her mom. Why don’t you see it?” he asked, looking truly lost , as if she had just 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. 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 of my own too, you know?.” She paused feeling a lump in her throat. “We want things from life that are not compatible.” She 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 the last time. “I’m sorry but we’re done.”
And with that, she walked out of the house.