DICE

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The Therapy Session

I ripped one of the fasteners off the leather sofa.

This can’t be leather. There’s no way. They make leather sofas with such precision and care. Detail oriented businesses that handcraft the soft, warm touch of the cowhide. Not like this. This is cold and smells like chemicals. Cheap lies...just like the gold-plated earring I’d wish I’d found.

“Mrs Richards,” Dr. Peterson begins with tension in his tone. “It appears we might need to reschedule.”

I look over at the bare seat next to me, feeling embarrassment now, along with the confusion and frustration that’s set in.

I stand from my seat, dropping the fastening on the fake leather coach beneath me and wipe my sweaty palms down my pants. Of course, our couples’ therapist would be the one to have a pleather sofa instead of investing in a real one. Maybe that’s just another sign that trying to save whatever we were is wasted on cheap therapists and imitation cow hides.

“Are you free later this week?” he asks. I can sense the pang of sorrow he’s feeling for me.

I don’t want his empathy.

“It’s a busy week,” I say, keeping it short and peppy. I tuck a piece of hair behind my ear and walk towards the door. Turning, I say, “I’ll call you.”

He gives me a light head nod before I’m racing out into the parking lot, checking my cell phone for any missed calls or messages insinuating why Thomas, the man who practically cried at my feet last night to fix this, the man who called our therapist first thing this morning, has suddenly ghosted me at the appointment.

My phone is bare. Not one call. I immediately ring Deena, needing the best friend that makes it all better. The best friend whose unrelenting fire strengthens the weak in me.

“What’d you find out?” she asks abruptly after picking up the call.

“What? Oh, nothing. He never showed.”

“He never showed,” she repeats slowly. “Are you fucking kidding me, Pen?! I knew that motherfucker was a piece of shit from the moment he lost those thousands in Vegas.”

I sigh, opening my car door and throwing my purse into the passenger seat. I slump down into my seat and slam the door behind me. She remains quiet, not expanding on the memory, and I know she heard the door slam. She knows how I’m feeling without me needing to explain it.

“Jesus, I’m sorry, babe.” Her soft, defeated words break me more than I’d like.

Fucking tears.

“Can I come over? I just...I can’t go back to work like this and I really don’t want to go home.”

She whines into the receiver. “Oh, honey. I can’t.” I hear what sounds like a metal chair leaning back as she continues. “Fuck, I wish I was there. I’m in Cincinnati for work for a couple of days. They just flew me out to work with a client who’s got hella money. I’m training their asshole dog like fucking Cesar Millan.”

I swallow, looking up at the roof of my car. As if tilting my head back will stop any more tears from forming.

“Lucky for me, the woman is recently divorced and hot as fuck. Maybe I can shoot my shot by taming Cujo.”

A broken laugh escapes me as I wipe my cheeks. I can just picture her, with her fiery red hair and cheeky personality, making up some reason for the woman to take a seat on her lap during the lesson. For the dog’s training purposes, of course. In order for the dog to trust her, the woman must embrace her trainer first. She’s a real flirt when she wants to be. But I’m thankful for the decade of friendship we’ve held close as we’ve grown. She’s more than a friend. She’s my true soulmate, as best friends normally are, and she always makes me laugh when she knows I need it most.

“Why don’t you just go to my place?” she offers. “The key is still under the mat, right where I left—”

“No,” I interrupt, clearing my throat, trying to find my strength. “No, it’s fine. I really should go home and just deal with this.”

She sighs into the phone. “Listen, I’m always a call away. Just get home, use this time and opportunity to search through his desk. See if you can dig anything else up while he’s out doing whatever he’s doing and gain some footing. He won’t get away with this, Pen. I’ll make sure of it.”

“I love you, Dee,” I reply.

“I love you more,” she says, warming my heart. “I’ll be back before you know it. Just stay strong. You’ve made it through worse.”

I clench my back teeth at the reminder. I have made it through worse. She’s right. I can do this.

I get home and the tiny hope I had that maybe Tom would be home vanishes the instant I see the empty garage. Maybe he got caught up in work? It’s not like he has a simple job. But, of course, the only thoughts going through my head right now are thoughts of a secretary bent over his desk, spread open for him as he fucks out his frustrations as he did last night with me.

We’ve had our heat. Our passionate and wild sex. Mostly during the honeymoon phase of our marriage. We’d find new and exciting places to mess around, loving the idea of being caught. It was a different time and things drastically changed once we found out I was pregnant. We became more domesticated. Finding ourselves slipping into the assumed roles of husband and wife.

I’d work at the office and come home to prepare a meal. He’d get off work and kiss me in the kitchen as he removed his tie. We’d eat at the table and enjoy meaningless conversations about our day until he’d end up on the couch watching sports and I’d slip into the room to read. He’d lean over me and kiss me goodnight as he turned off the light by his bed. I’d read a few more chapters and then doze off alongside him. It was like an endless reel of happiness that became our new normal until the inevitable happened.

I’ll never forget the moment I knew I was pregnant. I saw my reflection in the floor-length mirror of our bedroom when I exited the shower. My breasts were swollen and more painful than ever before. Something deep within me knew I was a little more than who I was the day before.

I told Tom that night while we were in bed, the moment before he turned off his light. I wasn’t meaning to do it before we went to bed, knowing that kind of information didn’t provide for a great night of sleep, but I couldn’t hold it in for one more day. When the words ‘we’re pregnant’ slipped from my mouth, his eyes grew wide in terror.

Shock is normal when announcing you’re adding another human being to your daily life, but the look on his face was more than shock. It was horror. He was horrified.

He must’ve realized I saw the expression, because he instantly laughed it off, pulling me in to him and hugging me while asking if I was sure. I showed him the test and the horror that had initially made my stomach drop was erased with his handsome, reassuring smile. It made me pause because while I knew we hadn’t exactly discussed trying, I’d had it in my mind that at some point, we would. I knew he wanted to be the father he never had, and even if the timing wasn’t planned and the shock factor faded, I’d assumed he’d be happy.

And we were happy, until we weren’t, and the realness of life sank into our perfect little world.

Getting into bed that night, I’d ignored Deena’s advice to search the house. I didn’t want to find anything. I wanted to give up. Sadness had taken over me and as hard as I wanted to fight, I couldn’t. I cried myself to sleep as the memories and pain of the past flooded me.

With my pillow wet beneath me, I’d only woken to the sound of Thomas clumsily falling into the bathroom door in the early hours of the morning before feeling him sink into the mattress beside me.

I didn’t want to know where he was all night or why he smelled like liquor and cigarettes. I don’t want to talk or hear him lie to me about what he was doing. I don’t want excuses; I want silence. I’m stuck here, on this bed, cemented into a frozen form until I’m confident he’s passed out.

Sucking in a long breath, I slowly peer over at him. He was curled up, facing away from me, naked as the day he was born. Tom never sleeps naked. Not even after one of our many lovemaking sessions. He has a thing about him; he likes to sleep in underwear and socks. Don’t ask me why. It seems uncomfortable as hell to wear something so constricting on your feet while sleeping, but it’s one of his many quirks that I ended up finding rather endearing.

I’d been quiet getting into the bathroom, even though I didn’t need to be. Tom was wasted and the long, steady breaths leaving his lips were indication enough. Instead of meeting me for our therapy session to talk about our feelings, it appears he’d drunk the feelings away.

Sleep would not happen. I washed my face, clearing the crusted trails of tears, drying my face on the towel hanging on the rack, only to feel that it’s already wet against my skin. I pull back, looking at the white, damp cloth.

I swallow, squinting my eyes and holding it under the direct light above me.

A tiny blood smear streaking the white cotton.

I quickly look at my reflection in the mirror again, ensuring it didn’t just come from me. Maybe I’d scratched myself, rubbing my eyes so much from crying? Were my lips chapped from constantly licking the draining tears?

Nothing.

Peering into the shower, I see the water droplets still there. The condensation on the glass, still present. Thomas must’ve taken a shower when he returned. Odd for a man who’d been out all night. I’d initially thought he’d just slumped into bed with his suit on, drunk and disoriented, needing to sleep off the alcohol. But as it appears, he’d showered and stripped himself of all clothing.

I searched through the laundry bin near the shower, pulling out all of my old work clothes and pajamas from last night. His white, ripped shirt from the previous night was sitting on the bottom, still stained with the smudges of his own tears. But nothing from what he was wearing today. He left the bathroom when I woke up. Where were his clothes?

I grab the pile I’d thrown about the tile of the bathroom floor, pushing them all back into the bin before standing over it, seeing a corner of my night shirt still hanging out of the top. My OCD tendencies scream at me to tuck it in, so I bend back down to succumb to them. While crouched down near the bin, my gaze falls to the piece of fabric that’s sitting near the edge of the vanity, slightly behind the toilet.

Curiosity ruins through me like heat in my veins as I bend down to pick it up. Blood-stained and already dried, the pocket square was meant to be hidden, but had been carelessly tossed. A pocket square from one of Tom’s three-piece suits. Where was the rest of it?

Images of Tom out and about on the town with his mistress, wining and dining her, flood my vision and there’s a heavy weight on my chest. Maybe he got drunk and got into a fight with the husband of this mystery woman who found them canoodling at a restaurant. I hope he got punched in the face, his nose pooling with blood and his fantastic-looking suit, ruined from the stains of blood. He deserved that and more.

Deena was right, as she always is. I should’ve done some searching last night instead of wallowing in self-pity. I’d shelled up and curled into my safe space all while he knew exactly where I was. I’d hate to think that’d why he’d been so adamant about therapy last night, so he could freely fuck who he needed to, knowing I wouldn’t “pop-up” on him.

Who would go to such lengths just to cheat on their wife?

No, it seemed there was something deeper going on here. I wouldn’t succumb to my sadness. I’d fight this and gain control of my situation like my best friend suggested.

Thomas was hiding more from me, and it was time I found out exactly what that was.

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