My already unpleasant mood had gotten even worse by the time I'd pulled up to my house. My wife's car was parked in the cul-de-sac and she knew I hated that shit. Why didn't she park in the garage like I asked? I'd known why. It was to annoy me. She got off on annoying me. I wondered how long it had taken her father's power and privilege to get her out of jail. After she had shown her ass at my job and attacked Chyanne there was nothing I could do to keep her from getting arrested. And to keep my job, I'd had to get on damage control immediately. Don't get me wrong, my wife's being locked up bothered me, but not as much as losing the position in the company after I'd worked so hard to get everything going the way I'd wanted.
Then, there was Chyanne I had to worry about. By the time I had gotten to the office they'd told me she was already gone and had given her resignation letter. Dealing with all of that and trying to convince the board that everything was just one big misunderstanding was a task in itself. Then, to find out a couple of days later that Chyanne was pregnant had me running in circles. I'd known there would be a lot of questions and believe me there would be some answers, but first things first. I needed to deal with my wife.
I had just left the hospital arguing with Chyanne about getting a DNA test and I knew all hell was waiting for me on the other side of my kitchen door as I parked my Navigator. My wife's car was parked angry, like she had just whipped it into that spot and had left it there without thought. Before I could turn my key in the knob to unlock the door, she snatched it open. She did it with such force that the wind she created blew the jet black hair from her round exotic face.
“That's the fat bitch you messing around on me with this time, Aric?” Venom was laced in her cat like voice.
Stephanie had the kind of voice that drove a man mad in the bedroom, but, in an argument, could cut you like the sharpest machete. I brushed past her and threw my keys on the bar as I walked into the kitchen.
A picture fell from the wall when she slammed the door.
As I looked at my wife in her hazel and green eyes, I could tell she had been in a fight and had obviously lost. Her eyes were swollen, bottom lip was busted, and bruises were visible on the right side of her jaw. There were scratches that surrounded her neck like they were some exotic tattoo, a splint covered her left wrist and a Band Aid was over her right eye.
“Still starting fights you can't win I see,” I said to her before taking a swallow from the bottle of water in my hand.
As soon as she started across the room, I'd known she was coming to get physical. So, I made a move to grab her before she could. I caught the hand she was aiming to slap me with, shoving her away from me. She quickly caught her balance and picked up the butcher's knife she had obviously already planted.
“Go ahead and try that shit today, Aric, and one of us will go to hell and the other to jail,” she spat as she stood in a defensive posture that she had no doubt learned from years of kickboxing training.
I threw the water bottle down. “I've told you about putting your damn hands in my face. Now you try that shit and you are going to eat that fucking knife.”
“Sick of you cheating on me, Aric.”
“Give me a divorce like I asked and you won't have this problem.”
“No. Ti'l death do us part. We both said for better or worse . . .”
We were at a standstill, just like our marriage had been for the last two years. She dropped the knife and ran her fingers through her hair.
“Obviously whoever wrote that shit didn't know you would be taking the vows,” I snapped back.
“I don't understand why you want to divorce me,” her voice cracked. “With all of the things that we've been through, Aric, everything, and you want to divorce me? What happened? I thought we were going to work this out. Is she the reason you don't call like you used to? Is she the reason why you asked me to stay back in New York and give you space?”
“She has a name. Her name is Chyanne and you know damn well we've had this problem before I came to Atlanta.”
She frowned and cocked her head to the side. “Please, don't tell me you're standing here defending your mistress to me! You need to fire herâ”
Now it was my time to frown. “What?”
Even if Chyanne hadn't quit, I wouldn't have fired her.
“Fire her. You can't very well think I am going to be okay with her still working in that office with you.”
Her voice was following behind me because I had brushed past her and was making my way up the stairs to my bedroom. As I loosened my tie she kept on with her useless tirade.
“Aric, don't ignore me! I don't understandâ”
“You don't understand what? What part of a divorce do you not understand? It's over and done. It's been that way for a long time now. Chyanne had nothing to do with that.”
“Will you stop defending that slut?” She lashed out at me and jumped in my face right as I pulled my shirt off.
I grabbed her by both arms and moved her away from in front of me. “She's done nothing to you, so why are you attacking her?”
She looked incredulous. “She's done nothing to me? She's fucking my husband?” she yelled out.
“I wouldn't be your husband if you would've signed the divorce papers when you were supposed to.”
I gently shoved her on the bed and walked toward the bathroom to shower. The day had been long for me and all I wanted to do was sleep. I'd been doing so much to try to get the office back in order and to try and get Chyanne to agree to give me a DNA test that all I wanted to do at the moment was relax. Chyanne was the woman I'd been cheating on my wife with. She used to be my executive assistant and I hadn't set out to have sex with her. But, there was something about Chyanne that attracted me to her and made me want to take it there. Somehow, my wife put two and two together and showed up at my office asking questions. I figured that someone in the office had told her what they all had been suspecting, that it was Chyanne I'd been seeing. That was all she needed to hear to act an ass and attack Chyanne. I never told Chyanne I was married because, to be honest, I wasn't planning on still being married.
Those thoughts quickly filtered away when I felt Stephanie's nails dig into my back and her fist pound the back of my head. That type of BS was the thing I was sick of. My wife had a really nasty habit of putting her hands on me.
“The fuck is wrong with you?” I yelled at her before turning, grabbing her by her wrists, and violently shaking her.
Her hair shook wildly around her face when she fell back on the bed. She tried to jump up and I pushed her back down on the bed, harder than I did the first time. Standing over her, I held her down by her wrists, sick of doing that same song and dance with her.
“You're hurting me, Aric.”
I knew I was hurting her wrists with the pressure I was putting on them, but it seemed the only way I could get her to act right was to put my hands on her in some way.
“I'm done fighting with you Stephanie. Done. We are done. Sign the damn papers and let go,” I said to her through clenched teeth.
She squirmed wildly still trying to get away from me as she screamed at me. “No Aric. You will not throw away twenty years of what we have built for some new piece of ass.”
“You know damn well, she has nothing to do with this. Stephanie, how long have we been playing this game? How long have I been asking you for a divorce? It was long before Chyanne came about.”
“You're lying. Everything was fine until you started to change again. I knew it was somebody else. I knew it. I knew as soon as you came to Atlanta that there would be some BS all over again. And then when I called you yesterday and the day before, you were all pissed off. It's like your attitude changed overnight. Is that why you asked me to stay in New York? Is she the one that I always hear in the background asking who I am? Why? Why Aric? You're going to walk away from all we have together?”
She was belligerent. Screaming, crying, and yelling. The day she'd attacked Chyanne in the office, I hadn't even known she was in town until I'd gotten a phone call from Gabe telling me that some mess was about to go down because Stephanie was at my office. Obviously, I hadn't made it in time enough to stop what'd happened between her and Chyanne.
Now, we wrestled. Well she wrestled around trying to punch, kick, and scratch my hand to make me release my grip. Tears started to fall down her face as fought against my strength. After she'd tired herself out, she just looked up at me and I looked down at her hoping she would be calm enough for me to let her go. My back was burning like hell and I no longer desired to go to sleep in the same house with her.
“Are you okay now?” I asked her as calmly as I could.
She nodded, so I slowly released her and stood straight up but I wasn't fool enough to turn my back on her again. I looked around the room searching for my shirt.
“Where're you going?” she asked me when she saw me pull my white T-shirt back over my head.
She jumped up, quick as lightning, and blocked my way out before she threw herself against me and wrapped her arms around my neck.
“Please, don't go. Don't leave me, Aric. I know I've messed up a lot when it's come to us but, baby, I can change. I can. You know I can.”
She was begging and pleading like she had done several times over the last couple of years. When she'd done this little routine before, I had fallen for it many times hoping that, maybe, our marriage would last. I'd wished that we could push past all that had happened between us, but there had been no such luck. No matter how many times we had tried, we always came back to the same point, always having to start back at step one.
I didn't even have to look down at her to know that she was still crying. “Stephanie, stop,” I said to her as I tried to pull her arms from around my neck.
She stood on her toes and placed kisses against my face, neck, and mouth as she pleaded with me to stay with her.
“We can fix this,” she pleaded again. “I'll forget about this one. We can move past her. I won't bring her up again. Right now, we can start over. We can start fresh, whatever you want. Just don't leave me.”
I exhaled and my eyes rolled as my head fell back and I let out an exasperated breath. I reached up and grabbed her hands, finally removing her from around my neck. Too much had happened between Stephanie and me. Too many fights, too many cases of infidelity, and too many chances to fix what had been broken for so long.
“This can't be fixed,” I said as I looked in her eyes, hoping she would feel and get what I was saying to her.
“Yes it can, Aric. I know she doesn't mean anything to you. She's just another one of your little adventures. I can get past that. We can get past it and we can move on.”
“There is no moving on,” I yelled at her.
She cried harder and tried to come back to hug me. I pushed her off of me and she tried harder to get me to hug her, kiss her.
“Stephanie, stop. Please, stop. You're just making it worse.”
“Please don't tell me you are going to leave me for this young bitch. What does she have that I don't? I'm your wife. I have been your wife for fifteen damn years. We have been together for twenty years! All of that history you're going to walk away from forâ”
“This has nothing to do with her.”
I yelled at her, frustrated that she was trying to make this about Chyanne, knowing that it wasn't. Gently pushing her out of my way, I made my way downstairs to the kitchen so I could get to my keys.
“Yes, it does. I know it does. If you cared so much about her then why did you come to New York and why did we make love like we did? If you really wanted to leave me, then why, Aric? Why did you continue to tell me you loved me? Why did you hold me the way you did when we were in bed together?”
I shook my head and went to pick up my keys from the bar, but she quickly grabbed them before I could.
“Don't go. Stay so we can talk about this,” she pleaded. “None of the women you have cheated on me with have been able to hold your attention for long. You always come back baby. So, when you get that fat bitch out of your system, I, your wife, will still be here. I know you will tire of her soon and when you do, we can talk. When she is out of the pictureâ”
“She'll never be out of the picture,” I said to her as my mind went back to Chyanne at the hospital.
I looked up at Stephanie just in time to see the hate flitter across her eyes.
“What?” she barely got out above an angry whisper.
I waited a second before answering her, knowing what I was about to say would hurt her way worse than me cheating on her. I folded my arms across my chest before deciding to continue on.