Anna Burkley's trip had exhausted her. She’d been to see her oldest sister, Rayna, who lived four hours away, helping her out after she gave birth to twin girls.
Anna smiled at the thought of those two beautiful babies as she let herself into her house. She felt a ping in her heart because she knew she’d never hold a baby of her own. She quickly shrugged that thought away, not wanting to dwell on the negative.
With a slight yawn, she headed for the bedroom. She’d get her luggage out of the car later, right now she needed a nap. Her husband, Gary, would still be at work for a couple more hours, so she had plenty of time to rest before starting on supper.
Going up the stairs, she paused and cocked her head to listen… giggles? Moving faster, she headed toward the open bedroom door.
“I need to get going Gary, it’s almost three.” A female voice said.
“Mm… yeah, and I need to get back to work. Wouldn’t do for the ol’ lady to come home and catch me here,” Gary agreed.
Anna held a hand over her mouth as she tried not to sob out loud. Feeling herself losing the battle, she ran back down the stairs and into the kitchen. Once there, she slid down the wall and quietly cried.
How stupid was she? She should have seen it. Now, as she thought back on it, she realized all the signs were there that Gary wasn’t faithful, but she’d ignored them. He’d been ‘working later’, taking more ‘business trips’, spending time with ‘the guys’, and pushing her to go out with her girl-friends a lot lately.
Maybe she’d denied it for so long because the sex was good. After all, wasn’t that the first thing that went south? Well, if it was it hadn’t happened to them because Gary had always been insatiable and that hadn’t changed. Maybe that was why she’d stayed clueless.
Anna was pulled from her thoughts as the woman spoke again, this time closer.
“When will I see you again?” The woman asked.
“I’m not sure. Anna will be clingy for a while after being gone for almost a week,” Gary answered with a chuckle.
“I don’t know why you stay with her,” the woman whined.
“Because she’s a good wife and gives me awesome sex.”
“Our sex is awesome too!”
Gary laughed. “Yes, it is, but you know her dad will have my nuts on a platter if I do his little girl wrong. Besides, I like my job and if I leave her, I can kiss it good-bye.”
The woman huffed. “Fine, give me a call when I can see you again.”
Anna heard the door close then and Gary whistling as he headed back upstairs. Slowly standing, she wiped her face and grabbed a tissue to blow her nose. Then walking to the sink, she grabbed a glass and filled it with water. Next, she just stood there, staring at the kitchen door until Gary came downstairs.
He stopped walking, the smile on his face leaving when he saw her. His face paled as he spoke, “Anna?”
“We’re over Gary. I’ll be gone by the time you get home from work,” Anna managed to choke out.
“Oh, now, come on, sweetheart! I’ll stop seeing her, I promise, I will,” Gary claimed as he walked closer.
He put out his arms as if to hug her, but she held up her hand, stopping him.
“If not her, it will be someone else and you know it.”
“So, you’re going to just throw away five years of marriage because I made one mistake?”
Putting her glass down, she pulled her rings off, staring down at them for a moment before putting them down too. Then, she took a deep breath and squared her shoulders, replying, “No, Gary, you tossed our marriage away when you decided I was no longer enough for you.”
Gary’s face turned red before he turned and stormed out the door.
Anna allowed her shoulders to slump then as the tears once more began to fall. Picking up the phone she dialed her youngest sister Mary.
“Mary, can I come to stay with you for a while?” Anna asked, holding back the sobs.
“Always,” Mary answered softly as if she already knew something was wrong.
“Thank you, I’ll be there late tonight.”
Anna sighed deeply as she stared out the big front window of Morris Outfitters at the heavy gray skies. Her thoughts were of how things had changed in the last two years since her divorce.
After leaving Gary, she’d ended up staying two weeks with her sister Mary while getting the ball rolling on her divorce. She’d found this job, for the assistant manager’s position, with Morris outfitters online and applied. When she found out for sure she had the job, she’d packed up and moved here to Soonerton.
Anna had let Gary have pretty much everything, except her car and personal belongings. She sure didn’t want a house since she was leaving and wouldn’t have wanted it anyway since that’s where she’d found him cheating on her. She’d just wanted to leave him and the memories of everything behind her.
Although her sister Mary told her later, he’d sold it and moved into a small apartment not long after the divorce was finalized.
When the divorce was final, Anna had received a bit of money that she hadn’t even asked for, but it had been enough to buy a small home here. The longer she lived here, the more she liked it. She enjoyed her job and small-town living, but lately, she’d started to feel lonely. It was hard being single after five years of marriage and seven years of being a couple with someone.
“Hey, girl, why such a sad face?”
Anna turned toward her friend and co-worker Renee.
Giving her a slight smile Anna said, “Looks like rain.”
“Maybe,” Renee agreed as she pursed her lips at Anna’s dodging of her question but didn’t push it. Instead, she said, “Ryan and I are going out tonight. I was thinking it might do you good to get out too. So, Ryan has a new co-worker, his name is Mark. Ryan has been introducing him around, you know, helping him meet new people…” She left her sentence hanging as she stared at Anna hopefully.
Playing dumb, even though Anna knew where this was headed, she said, “What does this have to do with me?”
Renee stuck her lip out in a pout. “You know what it has to do with you. I want you to go with us and meet him.”
Anna sighed. Maybe it would do her good to get out. If nothing else maybe it would pull her out of her doldrums.
“Okay, but just this once. Don’t make setting me up with someone a habit though,” Anna warned her.
Renee did a fist pump as she pulled out her phone. “Hey, Ryan, it’s a go for tonight.”
Anna shook her head and headed toward the back of the store where she’d seen a customer earlier. It was time to go see if they needed any help.
“Okay, so meet us at the steakhouse at seven Anna,” Renee said as they locked up for the night.
“Alright, see you then,” Anna replied. Then with a wave, she headed toward her car.
At two minutes to seven, Anna parked her car and made her way across the parking lot to the front door of the restaurant. Once she was inside, she quickly spotted Renee and headed her way. She took notice of the blonde man speaking to Ryan and decided he looked nice enough, although he didn’t cause her heart to pound or anything.
He stood up to pull her chair out as he said, “Hi, I’m Mark.”
“Anna.” She noticed him give her a once over as she sat down and felt her face flush.
Mark smirked. After the waitress had taken their orders, he asked, “So, Renee says you’re from up north somewhere. What brought you here?”
She shrugged. “A divorce and the need for a change of scenery.”
“That I can understand, since I’ve been through that myself recently,” Mark stated.
She felt herself relax a bit and smile. A kindred spirit, perhaps this evening wouldn’t be so bad after all.
Mark was a funny man and had them all laughing through dinner. His stories of him and his brothers growing up were hilarious.
Surprisingly, Anna had a great time. She even agreed to a date with him when he walked her to her car.