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07.03.2019

“You want some?” He invited, indicating toward her barely touched alcohol.

“Bryce we need to talk.”

He laughed rudely, sounding anything but amused.

“About what, goddamn it?” His voice rose and she jumped in fright. “You always want to talk but nothing much ever gets said! You want a divorce, you want child support, and you want joint custody? Fine, they’re yours. I’ll throw in the house in Knysna and a few million too! How does that sound?”

“I don’t want those things.”

“Of course you don’t,” he sneered. “You’re too good for my money, for my apologies, and for my love, aren’t you?”

That did it! Bronwyn jumped up and, before she really had time to think about her actions, tossed the rest of her drink into his sneering face. She waited for him to blink the stinging alcohol from his eyes before she laid into him.

“What apologies? What love?” She both signed and screamed at him. “So far I haven’t heard a word of apology from you. Not for tossing me out or for misjudging me. And you haven’t once, not once since our wedding, since before our wedding for that matter, told me that you love me! In fact you did the polar opposite of that; you told me that you married me out of duty, that you’d never loved me. Are you telling me different now, Bryce? Make up your damned mind because I’m getting sick of your multiple personality disorder.”

“Bronwyn . . .”

“No! You have the utter gall to tell me that nothing much ever gets said.” She was still using hands and mouth to make it absolutely clear how she felt. She didn’t want him to miss a single word. “Well whose fault is that, Bryce? You’ve never really opened up to me. Trying to learn anything at all about you is like extracting blood from a stone. I was happy with our marriage before I left, but after being on my own for two years and really thinking about it, I recognized how completely screwed up our relationship was. It was all give from me and nothing but take from you. You hide yourself so completely from me that I wonder if the man I fell in love with ever really existed. So, you’re right, the time for talking is over. I’ll stay in this house as per our agreement but this divorce will happen.”

“Why are you suddenly so desperate for a divorce?” he asked suspiciously. “Is it that professor? Are you leaving me for him?”

“How can I leave you when we’re not even together?” she asked in exasperation. She was frustrated that none of her words seemed to be sinking in “And no, I don’t want a divorce because of Raymond. I doubt I’ll see him again outside of school. And just because you’ve played away during this marriage doesn’t mean that I will.” He looked completely confounded by her words and signaled for her to repeat them, evidently thinking he’d misread her words. When she repeated what she’d said, his jaw dropped to his chest as he stared at her in obvious shock.

“What the hell are you talking about?” he asked. He was still sitting down, insouciantly sipping at his scotch, even though the alcohol she had tossed on him had drenched his head and shoulders. Bronwyn was still standing and glowering down at him. “I haven’t ‘played away’ as you so eloquently put it.”

“You’re the one who told me that your sex life was ‘just fine,’ remember? What else was I supposed to gather from that statement?” He choked on a sip of scotch and coughed for a few minutes before eventually blinking rapidly to clear his eyes and stare at her stupidly again.

“Bronwyn . . . I was in an accident. I spent six months convalescing, a year in therapy, and the rest of the time actively avoiding crowds. I went out only once, and that was to a surprise party for Theresa De Lucci just a couple of weeks before we found you again. When do you think I had time to shag other women?”

“You said . . .” Okay, so maybe he’d lied.

“I was trying to save face. You were asking me about sex and all I could think about was getting you naked and beneath me again. Hardly something I wanted to advertise when I was still so angry with you.”

“But the condoms?”

“What?”

“In the pedestal drawer,” she elaborated, and his lips twitched.

“Rick and Lisa have used that room in the past and while they did the responsible thing in purchasing condoms, they never really got around to using them, and she got pregnant faster than you could blink.” He stared levelly up at her for a beat before grinning wickedly. “Were you jealous, Bron?”

Damn him!

“Not at all.” She kept her face expressionless but couldn’t quite hide the betraying flush from him. “I just thought you were a hypocrite for getting weird about Raymond when you’d all but admitted to sleeping with other women. It doesn’t matter anymore anyway. The divorce still stands.” Her words brought the reality of their situation back to him and he sobered immediately. “I want to pick up the pieces of my life and move on. I just can’t be happy living like this.”

He stood up, towering above her, and his eyes bored desperately into hers.

“We can be a family, Bronwyn,” he urged, holding out an imploring hand. “This weekend proved that.”

“No, all this weekend proved is that you still have secrets that you refuse to share with me. And it will always be that way, won’t it, Bryce? You will always close off some part of yourself from me. I’ve never really known you and I doubt that I ever will.”

“Sweetheart, please,” he groaned.

❮❯
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