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Ryan’s POV

“Did you know about your wife’s affair with Mr. Murphy?” His lawyer asks me.
“There was no affair between them,” I fire back.
“Did your wife tell you about every single incident where she alleged he was out of line?”
“Maybe not everything but she did tell me about his behavior and she felt about it,” I answer truthfully.
“If you don’t know about every single event she fabricated, how do you know she wasn’t hiding the affair?” There’s a brief smirk on the asshole’s face.
“Ella did not fabricate anything! I saw him being out of line myself. There was no affair, only someone obsessed with my wife! Someone who would not take no for an answer!” I couldn’t help myself from barking.

Being on the spot in front of strangers as well as Jake is so unnerving. I gained even more respect for Ella, she found the strength to remain calm when Jake’s lawyer interviewed her. I can’t say the same for myself as he asks me to tell him what I’ve witnessed. Having to talk about that dinner where Jake asked her about moving to Calgary, his birthday speech and kisses, the way he tried to get close to her for the picture; makes me see red. Then comes the memory of him trying to forbid me from seeing Ella with the excuse that she was busy with him only to see the anxiety on her face when I stormed into his office. Had they been having an affair, I would have walked on them engaging in something. Instead, I found my wife uncomfortable around him, relieved when I guided her out of his office.

“Is it true that you went to rehab during the time Mrs. Faulkner Taylor and Mr. Murphy were working together?” he asks me.
“Yes,” I gulp. Although I’m doing better, I hate talking about my time in rehab.
“Would it be fair to say you did not know about your wife’s whereabouts during that time?” Another smirk.
“I had no contact with her during treatment,” My blood is starting to boil knowing what he’s trying to make me say.
“Then there is no way for you to confirm she was not seeing Mr. Murphy. You know the typical lonely wife away from the movie star who finds comfort in her coworker. Getting to know someone better for her, someone, who doesn’t have a drinking problem. She could have lied to you out of guilt. She could have been planning a new life with Mr. Murphy but changed her mind thinking about leaving the fame and fortune behind.” The lawyer says.
“What are you asking?” I growl when he stands there staring at me as if he was waiting for me to say something.
“Oh, nothing. I guess I was just stating a fact. That will be all, thank you,” He chuckles walking back to his seat next to Jake who’s smiling at me. Ella may find it mean but I would feed him to sharks. I would enjoy him being dismembered slowly, painfully.
Mr. Hale walks closer and starts asking me what I knew from the beginning. I go from the first time Ella told me about Jake asking to see her outside of work. I then repeat what happened at the restaurant and her office answering our lawyer’s questions about it.
“What led you to drink in the first place?” I’m surprised when he asks me.
“We...umm… Ella and I lost our baby. I couldn’t deal with it and I was weak so...I… drinking was my escape,” I ramble, my eyes avoid finding hers out of guilt for my behavior. Ella has forgiven me but I’m still working on it in therapy.
“Such a personal issue usually isn’t shared with people unless you trust them. To your knowledge, has Ella ever told Jake about her fertility issues?”
“No, she only told our family and closest friends. It was hard for her, she wouldn’t tell a coworker. Ella doesn’t open up to people easily,” I look at her, a single tear runs down her cheek she’s looking so small next to Max and Cooper.
“Your wife stated that Mr. Murphy knew about her issues, how did he know?” Mr. Hale blocks Jake’s view.
“I don’t know. He somehow got hold of some information we never shared, her fertility, my drinking issues, my biological father,” My voice cracks at the mention of my father. It’s still a sore topic especially since Robert passed.

Mr. Hale asks my version of the night when Ella was kidnapped. I go into details of us helping my friend Sam who got drunk and couldn’t walk, Emma screaming when she realized Ella was gone, and then me running around the block looking for her. I recall how I freaked out demanding for the police to find her.

“What happened when Mr. Murphy called?”
“He wanted me to share my secret, he thought Ella would leave me if she knew,”
“What was your secret?” Mr. Hale asks.
“My biological father is a bad man, he killed someone. He… my sister…” I feel the tears threatening to spill but I fight them. “My father had left my sister at home and she had a seizure, she didn’t…” My voice cracks again forcing me to take a deep breath. “She didn’t survive.”

It was already hard to share my story on the phone call with Jake and Ella while the cops and my friends were listening but talking about it now breaks me inside. I feel myself sinking into a dark hole. But it’s only the tip of the iceberg, I now have to talk about what happened when I got to the apartment.

“He was forcing her to sit with him, forcing her to kiss him,” I spit out, the images are still vivid in my memory. I have to fight the urge to leap across the room to punch Jake especially when I look up and see his dumb fucking smirk. Suddenly I wish I could drink. Alcohol would be so good right now, take the pain away for a little while. Instead, I have to talk about what happened when Jake pointed the gun at me.

“I knew I had to fake it but… hearing her cry nearly killed me. I wanted to tell her I was fine right away but I had to lay there. I knew the cops would come in after hearing the shot, but it seemed to take an eternity when in reality it was quick. Her screams will forever stay in my memories same as her state of shock afterward. I got so scared she would completely lose her sanity. But then she came back to me. Nothing and no one will ever break the bond between us.” I find her eyes in the crowd silently telling her “I love you”.

Finally, the day comes to an end, I walk out of the courthouse in silence without bothering to wave to my fans. Sitting in the SUV, I pull Ella to my side, she wraps me in her embrace. I’m dying to ask Cooper to stop by to pick up beer, my throat is dry, I want to numb the pain. I know Ella would be devastated but I now realize I owe it to myself to stay sober. The efforts I’ve been putting into it aren’t worth being thrown away because of Jake. We both deserve better.

After dinner, I see the boys hesitating about staying or going back to their beach house. “How about we go to the gym?” my beautiful wife suggests. Her hands on my arms can’t seem to take away the tension in my body as they normally would. “Are you guys up to it?” I turn to Cooper and Max, they nod.

Ella asked me to practice kickboxing with her. “C’mon stop being a pussy, hit me!” she yells, 5 minutes later. “A pussy?” I laugh moving around her. “50$ Ella kicks your ass,” Cooper croaks from the side given Max a high five. “Go, Ella!” Of course, Max would cheer for Ella. “What the fuck? I thought you had my back,” I turn to my bodyguard shaking my head. Ella takes the opportunity to punch my side, I wince in pain. She’s enjoying herself, the twinkle in her eyes is shining brightly. All of a sudden I realize she has me trapped in the corner throwing punches at me. I move my gloves up protecting myself. She’s one fierce lioness though I’m sure she’s sparing me a little bit not wanting to hurt me. In an attempt to hit back, I squat down but her gloves hit me first. Right in the balls. My hands go to my crotch as I drop to my knees in pain. “Fuck! I’m sorry! Are you okay?” she throws her gloves away to hug me. Cooper and Max can’t hide their laughter celebrating their victory. “No sex for you for a few days!” I whisper to Ella’s ear, her eyes go wide.

Ending the night with a bag of ice on my crotch was not what I had in mind nor did I want to give 50$ to Cooper and Max after having my wife beat me up. “I’m really sorry!” she cuddles me as we’re lying on the lounge chair by the pool. “Careful!” I warn her when her leg that’s sitting on top of mine gets close to my inner thighs. “I’ll never ask you to practice with me again,” her voice is small filled with regrets. “Oh, no no! I am going to get my revenge next time. I won’t hurt you as you did me but I’m getting my 100$ back,” I don’t even care about the money but my pride took a huge hit. “Sure, we’ll see, now rest because I need you to heal quickly,” she purrs making her way into the pool where she gets rid of her bikini, swimming naked for my eyes only.
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