I only meant to give myself an evening out. A chance to enjoy myself a little since my marriage had ended two years before. I never imagined I’d bump into my old boss…or that he’d look so good. The snowstorm is a great excuse to cuddle up together by the fireplace, but the heat between us has nothing to do with the flames.
The glittering snow fell hard and heavy, and I was thankful to be in the warm bar despite the blaring music and the large room clearly exceeding capacity limits. I sat alone next to a frosted window, typing away on my small laptop.
I was on my second rum and Coke when the waitress brought my entrée, and I wholeheartedly thanked her. It had been a couple years since I had last gone out to enjoy a meal rather than ordering takeout for me and the kids.
Tonight, I celebrated quietly alone, relieved that everything at court had been finalized at last. My ex-husband, Levi, had our children, Michael and Hannah.
I’d have the whole night to myself, and I was making the most of it. I’d made sure my dark brown hair fell in soft, straightened waves to my shoulders, but I had a couple of hair ties just in case it got in the way.
My ankle-high boots complemented my bare legs, and beneath my short dress, I wore black lace panties with a matching bra. I doubted anyone would see them, but…just in case.
I could hope, right?
I would always love the father of my two children, but sometimes, love was not enough.
Levi had broken our wedding vows two years ago at a bachelor party.
Rick, a sweet and quiet guy I’d known as long as I had Levi, had told me all about it. I’m certain he participated in his own sins that night, but he claimed Levi’s actions had weighed on his conscience.
A week after the party, Rick had texted me the video of Levi, butt-naked and ass-fucking the private exotic dancer at the New Hampshire cabin where they’d had the party.
She’d been bent all the way over a cherry wood chair in the dining room while he took her from behind, relentlessly ramming into her the same way he had taken me for the past decade.
After watching the video several times with hot tears swarming in my eyes, I sent it to my then-husband without even a message. I didn’t need words to let him know how I felt.
Of course, Levi played the “I was so drunk” card. The “have I ever disrespected you otherwise?” card. And my favorite, the “I promise I will never betray your trust again” card.
My husband had believed a stripper at a bachelor party was more his style than being faithful to me—and that was okay. I no longer resented him. He was forgiven but banished from a pertinent part of my heart.
Still, Levi was an amazing father, and I could never argue that. Knowing the kids were safe and probably having a fun movie night with hot cocoa and popcorn at his house, I finally had the space to relax, mentally and physically.
My buffalo chicken wrap was piping hot and burned my lips a little, but I gobbled it down just the same. Swigging my drink, I finally started to feel a buzz. I was going to really treat myself and order a brownie sundae as well.
After sending some finalized forms to my lawyer and shutting my laptop, I shoved it toward the opposite side of the table. Then, I pulled my cell phone out of my small handbag and glanced at a few texts.
Levi had sent me a picture of Michael and Hannah buried in a heaping pile of fuzzy blankets, smiles parading on both of their sweet little faces.
“We all miss you,” read the message underneath. He’d texted again since then, about forty-five minutes after the first message. “Wish you were here.”
Levi had never stopped trying to win me back. As far as I knew, he had not dated anyone or even talked to another woman since the ordeal. He reminded me daily that he loved me.
It was endearing, but unfortunately, I could not move past the details of the video his friend had sent me.
Before that weekend, he never shown me disrespect or disloyalty in our whole time together. Perhaps some would be able to forgive their significant other, writing it off as a mundane mistake, but I was not one of them.
I knew how I felt, and I knew I could not maintain a healthy relationship with Levi. I did not want the kids to see fighting and arguing, resentment festering, or witnessing a broken-hearted mother on the daily.
Things were amicable, and although he persisted toward staying together, Levi had agreed to all of my terms. The legalities took a while, but I freed myself from a life brimming with an aching heart, paranoia, and bitterness.
The multiple court hearings had all gone quickly as nothing was argued. Levi had made it harder on me by bringing me a breathtaking bouquet of flowers each court session, but I made sure to leave them on the desk each time.
My mind snapped back to several intimate times with Levi: our first time in the bed of his blue pickup truck on a late night in June. The shower sex when we first moved in together. When we went camping together and conceived our first baby.
I thought about the patience Levi maintained through my post-partum time and how he had used feathers to touch me and test my limits slowly and that time in the dressing room at the mall…
“Is there anything else I can bring you? Or just the check?” My waitress almost gave me whiplash from how fast she stopped me from reminiscing.
I shifted in my seat. I hadn’t been with anyone in two years, and my body definitely did not like the reminder.
“Could I bother you for another drink? And a brownie sundae with extra cherries?” My smile was sheepish, but I was determined to stay out as late as I could.
“Of course, hon,” she said, replying with a smile much more genuine than my own.
The loud music vibrated my chest while dozens of people yelled at the screens playing a couple different sporting events. Surveying the room, I felt my heart skip as I recognized someone standing at the bar.
I was almost certain it was him.
Matthew Brunetti…my old boss.