Chapter 1 - Want for nothing
"He can go to hell, I need more alimony than that."
"Screw her, she's only saying that because she wants to take my kids from me."
I had pretty much heard it all in my little piece of Atlanta real estate-turned law office.
And honestly, those were the more tame ones.
Sometimes being a divorce attorney was downright depressing, other times it only served as a reminder as to why I never wanted to get married.
8:50 rolled around and Macy’s voice came through my speaker.
“Mr. Scott, your client has arrived. Want me to send her in?”
I replied and released the button.
My door creaked open, which reminded me I needed to spray the hinges again. This building was over a hundred years old when I bought it, but I couldn’t resist its charm when I was looking for somewhere to set down roots for my practice.
I looked up and was met with a pair of puffy, red-rimmed, blue eyes. Emotion wasn’t uncommon in my office. Many people sat in the seat across from mine and either let it flow freely or held it back altogether. Whether it was anger or sadness, it was always there.
But I wasn’t prepared for what I saw in her. This woman looked downright broken. The most beautiful version, but broken all the same.
She had on a yellow sundress that hit just above her knees, I wondered if she picked the color so people would presume she was happy when inside she was obviously anything but.
She tilted her head, probably wondering why I was just standing there.
Thanks to the barley two hours of sleep I got at night, sometimes i wasn't have sure how I functioned at all.
I cleared my throat.
“Yes. And you’re Mrs. Miller, correct?
She looked down and I knew immediately it was the name. Her soon to be ex-husband’s name that made her uncomfortable.
“Yes, but please, call me Ada.”
“Of course, have a seat, Ada.”
I told her as I moved my hand toward the chair in front of my desk.
“Obviously the consideration of divorce is why you’re here. But what has driven you to that decision?”
I’ve asked this question so many times I should just get it tattooed across my forehead.
Ada took a deep breath.
“He doesn’t want to be with me anymore.”
She said, her voice quivering.
“Do you know why?”
“He um.. He wants to be with someone else, I think.”
She chewed her bottom lip and picked at her fingernails. Her nerves were getting the best of her.
But still, I knew what she was getting at.
“And do you have proof?”
I could tell that she did. She had the face of a woman who had seen betrayal with her own eyes.
“Pictures, and messages.”
I wrote the information down.
“Do you have any specific questions before we go any further?”
“No, you came highly recommended. I just want to get this whole thing over with, honestly.”
“Okay sounds good. Do the two of you have any children together?”
I watched as her chin quivered. She tried to lower her head so that I wouldn’t see but it was too late.
“No. No babies.”
She shook her head.
“I know this is hard now but that actually makes this whole process a lot easier, and quicker. Next is the division of assets.”
“I don’t want anything.”
Her voice was suddenly so sure and almost loud.
“You’re entitled to your part-”
I begin but she cuts me off.
“Look, all that’s fine. The legality of it is understood. But I’m not going to fight him for anything. Whatever the bare minimum is of all this, I’ll take it and be fine. He comes from money and I know he’s scared that I’m going to try and take him for all he’s worth but where would that get me really? I know for a fact it wouldn’t make me happy. It probably should, but it wouldn’t. No alimony either... So just do whatever the minimum is but not an inch more.”
She somehow gave her whole speech while holding her tears in. The second she was done two of them ran down her cheek and she wiped at her face angrily.
She had a lot of fire and I enjoyed watching her train of thought. She was hurt, probably more than I could fathom but still, she wasn’t out for vengeance or to make his life as miserable as hers was at the moment. And that spoke volumes.
“You got it. I’ll start the process and let you know when I learn the court date.”
I stood up and rounded my desk.
“Thank you. I really appreciate it.”
She nodded as she stood and walked to the door.
I don’t usually walk clients out further than my door, but I was compelled to see her out to the lobby. We walked together until we were directly in front of the elevators.
“It was nice to meet you, Ada, I’ll be in touch.”
I told her as I stuck my hand out.
She slid her small hand into mine and sighed.
“Nice to meet you too Mr. Scott.”
“Please, call me Sebastien.”
“Thanks again, Sebastian.”
She’s tried to smile, but couldn’t really commit.
I nodded once and went back to my office. I didn’t miss Macy’s raised eyebrow and slight smirk, that one is nosey and nothing slides passed her but I chose to ignore her observation.
“How about some coffee?”
I asked as I passed her desk.
She hopped up from her chair and headed out the front door to the coffee shop down the street.
I peered out the window in my office and watched as Ada walked down the sidewalk into a bakery and I found myself wondering what she would order. Would she go for a bagel? Or did she need something more? I stood in a daze considering the possibilities for too long I suppose because by the time I realized what I was doing she was already walking back out onto the sidewalk with an iced coffee in one hand and a chocolate-covered donut with sprinkles in the other.
A shrill voice came from my doorway, breaking me from my trance.
Eliza and I dated a few months ago and she conveniently works just down the street, so she likes to pop her head in my office from time to time.
I managed to force a smile out.
“Let’s go out tonight. And then maybe... you could stay over.”
She ran her slender finger up my forearm.
Her offer really was tempting. She was sweet but I always had a feeling she wanted more. And more was something I couldn't do.
Besides, work always came first.
“I’d love too. But I have a ton of work to do this weekend.”
“You work too much.”
She whined and I nodded, my life revolved around my work.
“Oh, I know! Let’s take a vacation. Have you ever been to St. Lucia? I’ve heard it’s beautiful.”
Going anywhere other than dinner with Eliza was a bad idea. It took a while to convince her that we needed to stop seeing each other. And anytime I’d give an inch, she would take a mile.
“That’s not a good idea. Why don’t I call you next week?”
She huffed but agreed before walking out of my office, passing Macy on her way out. Macy rolled her eyes and made sure that I saw it.
“I know, I know.”
I told her as I held my hands up in the air.
She asked while placing my coffee on my desk and I laughed.
“Mrs. Miller sure is pretty. Don’t you think?”
Macy the matchmaker was back. She had a bad habit of trying to fix me up. Never with clients though so this was new territory.
“I agree. She’s very pretty.”
It wasn’t a hard statement to agree with. Ada was gorgeous even with swollen eyes and a sad smile.
“What do you want for lunch?”
“How about we leave after I finish this paperwork? Make it an early day. It is Friday after all.”
Macy’s eyes lit up. At twenty-three she was still young and actually went out on Friday nights. Me being a stuffy, thirty-two year old, all I wanted to do tonight was sip my whiskey while I read over next week's cases as I sat on my back porch.
“You should really go out sometime, Sebastian.”
She said. She only used my first name when she was serious.
“I do go out.”
I was lying and we both knew it.
She only laughed and left the room as I looked down at Ada’s paperwork on my desk.
Pictures and messages.
I wondered what the pictures were of and what the messages said. I would have to ask the next time I met with her and just the thought made me uncomfortable. Not because it wasn’t something I hadn’t seen or heard a thousand times before. But because I didn’t want to force her to relive that again. I didn’t want to see the sad look in her eyes that it would undoubtedly give her.
I wondered what it would take to make her laugh, to make the sweet sound echo in my office.
And that thought was enough to scare the hell out of me.