“She smelled like vanilla and honeysuckle all wrapped in one, a scent I couldn’t get enough...it was so intoxicating...” I remember the morning Alice came to introduce herself to me. Her vibrant red hair shimmered in the lifeless florescent lighting. She perched her hand on her hips as if waiting indefinitely for someone to come. Her lips held a shade of maroon and her smile was halfhearted. When I shook her hand it was a meek and self-aware motion. She flipped her hair slightly with her right hand before stretching it out to meet mine. In that moment I realized...I was lonely as hell. She was lonely as hell. Why not be lonely together? Why had she not come into my life years earlier? Looking at her disposition was like looking into my own. Our lives had not been what we truly wanted. My quiet nature longed to be freed. Alice I knew longed to be touched, and in that instantaneous moment we connected. Why now? God only knows. Heaven will not forgive me for these thoughts I have condoned. I am a married man. The thought of even crossing those lines with Alice enticed me to the point of sheer agony. I had to have her. My actions are not right, I have wronged my wife in so many ways, but how has she wronged me? Her cruel remarks when I told her to wait on children, her eye roll when I told her I wanted a new career. Her manipulative and monotonous activities in the bedroom. When I met her she was full of passion, had I wasted her away? Maybe me leaving will save her? Save me?
No way in hell! Cynthia slammed down her fists against the table. “I worked my ass off on the mortgage, slaved away in that hot kitchen cooking means for this no good bastard, he can’t have the house!”
“Lithy” she mumbled.
Miss Lithy, Mr. Musk has agreed to arrangement of 50,000 plus the ownership of the dog, no children we’re...”
“That’s not my damn fault! I’ve wanted kids my whole life, what a waste! The house is worth 200,000 if not more!
Judge Perry Frankle had seen numerous divorces within the past few months, each with notes of vengeance, rage, and eventual mediation. His expertise was never questioned, his family was known for their incredible capabilities in law. However, he was not prepared to deal with Miss Cynthia Lithy, a passionate firecracker in every way. What was once perhaps a promising young woman had turned into a bitter collection of insults and regret. He turned to look towards Lawrence Musk sitting pensively next to her. His face held a look of exhaustion and anxiety, he had never seen a man so willing to give everything away in the blink of an eye. Mr. Musk had complied with all of Cynthia’s wishes, however he held tightly to the home he’d built with his bare hands alongside his father.
“The house is mine Judge Frankle...I put everything I have into making a home for...us” the soft cringe upon Lawrence’s face spoke volumes.
Cynthia’s immediate silence was followed by a gentle sob. There were tears now running down her cheeks as she looked away from both of them, her eyes on the window, which portrayed a snowy afternoon. “Yes, you built the house, but what’s the point? There’s nothing of true value in there, no children to love, nothing” her voice trembled as she maneuvered her legs, crossing them back and forth defiantly.
Judge Frankle sat back in his chair, examining her. “Would you say the marriage primary dissolved because of lack of children?” He had once again raised the question that had come to the center of every conversation. He almost found himself feeling a tinge of sympathy but his professionalism wouldn’t allow it.
Lawrence glanced at Cynthia in thought. “No...I wanted children...just not with her...there wasn’t stability”
Cynthia’s face flared to a tomato red. “Wish you would have told me that three years ago you bastard!”
“Miss Lithy! There is no need to subject to badgering or abusing Mr. Musk in any manner! The house is under the name of Lawrence Musk, he is entitled to the property. Frankle took a sharp breath as he turned to Cynthia.
She smirked before eyeing Lawrence “I should have known he had played me for fool she grumbled.
“These proceedings have been going on for far too long, are you willing to agree to this Miss Lithy?”
“The house belongs to him, but it belongs to me by the blood, sweat, and tears I acquired while living there.”
“Says the woman who...” Lawrence bit his tongue abruptly, he could feel the tiny ooze of blood on the tip of his tongue.
Cynthia rolled her eyes “Your own mouth recognizes it’s a lie”
Mr. Frankle sighed softly as he grabbed a paper clip and collected the documents. “I need an agreement or this can go on for more months...is that what you really want Miss Lithy?′
“I want my life back” she frowned.
“And you will have it...your life will be your own, you are no longer tied to Mr. Musk in any way” Mr. Frankle offered her stiff smile.
“I want the house” she spoke before walking abruptly out the room leaving Frankle in a moment of utter stupor.
Cynthia wouldn’t bend, nor was the fight anything but personal, she could care less about the house, and it was all to cause emotional turmoil to Lawrence. He’d seen it so many times in previous cases.
“I spoke too soon...she’s never going to agree to this” Lawrence shook his head before standing. “I will do my best to talk this out privately with her...I’d like to reschedule this.”
Judge Frankle nodded before standing up to shake his hand. “We will reach a settlement Mr. Musk...I have had some tough cases, don’t you worry” he smiled. “I’ve never given up on a case trust me”
“There’s always a first time Mr. Frankle” Lawrence attempted a goodbye, but his head was racing with uncontrollable thoughts. In all of his frustration Alice Veil still had a way of entering his mind. He had to protect her from the shame of it all. He knew he loved her, more than he could ever possibly fathom. Miraculously no one ever discovered it, and despite suspicions they were able to carry out their secret meetings with no interruptions or extreme precautions. It was never the right timing however to tell Cynthia, whom he felt was falling apart more and more each hour. However when would there be a right timing to tell someone you’re a cheater? That despite devoting yourself to your wife, you’ve stumbled upon a diamond while holding onto an amber? Inside he felt a familiar ache, it stayed with him through every waking moment since he’d met Alice. He had ruined them. He could no longer fix them. Love had ruined them.
“Cynthia!” he raced after her, stopping in his tracks as he spotted her standing near the entrance. She was entranced by the steady snow fall, her brown eyes welling up with tears as she crossed her arms. Her dark blue jacket was wrapped tightly around her curvaceous figure, something that still remained intact.
“You didn’t want them with me huh?” she spoke.
Lawrence sighed deeply, afraid that his truth might tear her apart into tiny shreds. She would no longer be human, just a walking drone of existence. “Honestly, a child with you...Cynthia, we we’re never financially stable enough.” “We we’re both living two separate lives” Lawrence placed his right hand in his pocket. “Cynthia please consider all that I have given you...I need the house. You know I do”
“And what are your plans for it exactly? She inquired.
Lawrence felt the race of his heart at her simplicity, knowing that he was about to be abruptly thrown to the sharks.
“It doesn’t matter Cynthia, I want what is mine simple as that”
“You’re going to sell it aren’t you? The man who praises the work of his father is just going to sell it to the highest bidder...”
Lawrence turned to the parking lot, noting that it was nearly empty. It felt almost barren and crude. This was the place where heartbreak had a price, and it just happened to be in dollars.
Cynthia looked over at him, her eyes full of wonder. “Who the hell are you?
Lawrence frowned, a crease forming in his temples. “Lawrence Musk...the man who ruined your life right?”
To his surprise Cynthia giggled at his response “Finally...you got something right”
He eyed her with caution, he assumed that she would erupt any second with a determined force and viciousness.
“I wanted a son...a son that looked exactly like you” she turned towards him as she looked him up and down. “Now I look at you...and wonder what the hell I was thinking”
Cynthia had wanted a baby as much as he wanted to be a millionaire, despite a few nights of desperate attempts they had come up empty handed. To Lawrence it was some kind of divine intervention, to Cynthia it was divine punishment. Lawrence knew that a kid would have trapped them both, a discovery that in hindsight was overwhelmingly blatant by his intense feelings for Alice.
Lawrence looked at the ground, ignoring the rising of his heartbeat. “We can settle this the easy way or the hard way...it’s up to you...what could that house possibly mean to you now?”
“It used to mean the world to me...” she stopped as her voice grew muffled in tears.
He’d hurt her...so much...so damn much...yet the idea of happiness with Alice was almost too much to bear, he couldn’t see a life without her.
“You’re just going to sell it and get as much cash as you can get your hands on...” Lawrence sighed.
“No...” she smirked. “I’m going to live it in, remarry and have the kids you never gave me!”
She turned on her heel at a quick pace, storming outside into the snowy parking lot.