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The Girls of Mischief Bay

For a second Nicole only looked at him. Looked at the man she’d married and had a child with. Eighteen months ago, she would have said she knew everything about him. That he was a nice guy. Friendly, funny, smart, dependable. She would have said he was a good father and provider. She would have said they were a team.

Their marriage hadn’t been perfect. Sure, there were times when they looked at each other as if there were nothing left to talk about, but so what? Every marriage had its issues.

She would have said no matter what, Eric would be there for her, just like she would be there for him. But she never, ever would have guessed or believed he was capable of quitting his job to write some goddamn screenplay and then leave their child with a stranger!

“I met Cecelia.”

She’d expected a little panic, or maybe some shame. Instead he grinned. “I know, isn’t she great? I took her information so we can use her again. Tyler really seemed to like her.”

“You left him with someone I don’t know,” she said between gritted teeth. “You left him with someone you don’t know.”

“It’s not like that. She’s Ben’s little sister. I’ve known Ben for over a year. He’s a good guy. The family is cool.”

“I don’t care about the family. I care about my child and the fact that you didn’t call me or text me. I came home to find your car gone and Tyler being looked after by someone I don’t know from a rock. What the hell is wrong with you?”

He dropped his backpack onto the chair and narrowed his gaze. “Nothing. I had a chance to attend a lecture at the screenwriters guild. A private lecture. Do you know how rare that kind of invitation is? Do you know who I got to meet? You were working. I would have called, but you get pissed when I interrupt one of your classes.”

“Then text me. Do something.”

“I left a note,” he yelled, his brown eyes bright with anger. “What do you want from me?”

“I want you to think about someone other than yourself. I want you to do something around here other than eat food and sleep here and work on your screenplay.”

He rolled his eyes. “Okay, here we go.” He folded his arms across his chest, then used his right hand to motion her forward. “Come on. Let’s hear it. You’ve got a whole list of things you want to complain about. Let’s get to it.”

His complete dismissal of her before she’d said anything made her want to throw something.

She stood and glared at him. “You can pretend this is me being me, but you’re wrong. Completely wrong. You’re rarely here anymore. We don’t ever see each other. You make promises you don’t keep—like helping around the house or buying groceries. You do nothing to keep this household going. I work, I bring in all the money and I have to do almost everything around here.”

She sucked in a breath. “Sometimes you won’t even help with Tyler. He’s your son, Eric. Your child. Why won’t you be there for him?”

Eric stared at her for a long time. She watched anxiously, hoping for something that wasn’t anger. His jaw twitched, his mouth twisted. Remorse? Could she possibly have gotten through to him?

“This is all your fault,” he said quietly.

She blinked. “What?”

“You did this. You made this happen.”

Her mouth dropped open. “What are you talking about?”

He waved his hand at the room. “All of this. If you’re unhappy, then you only have yourself to blame. I took it, Nicole. For as long as I could. What about me? What about what I want? But none of that matters to you. You don’t care that I was unhappy with my life. You don’t care that I wanted more than what we had.”

She couldn’t have been more surprised if he’d sprouted a second head and started breathing fire.

“Are you drunk?”

“No. I’m completely sober and I know exactly what I’m saying.” He took a step toward her. “Before you and I met, I’d been saving every penny I had so that I could quit my job and write a screenplay. It was something I’d always wanted to do.”

 “I have to do what I’m doing,” he told her stubbornly. “This my time. My dream. You lost yours. You couldn’t make it, but at least you had the chance to try. It’s like you don’t want me to have my shot. Because what if I’m talented? You’d hate that.”

 “My God, do you really think that about me?” Pain sliced through her. Could it be that they’d never really known each other at all?

“You’ve never once asked to read my screenplay.”

“No,” she said firmly. “That is not true. I’ve asked and asked. You keep saying it’s not ready. You won’t let me read it until it’s perfect. We just had that conversation a couple of weeks ago.”

He shifted and looked away. “All right. I guess that’s true.”

“You know it is. Just like you know you never really told me how much you wanted to write until the day you quit. You didn’t ask, you didn’t negotiate. You just did it.”

“I knew you’d say no.”

“Neither of us know what I would have said. What happened to negotiating? To writing on the weekends.”

“I wanted to just go for it.”

“And damn the rest of us? Where does that leave us?

“Nowhere.” He spoke flatly, as if he didn’t care what he was saying.

She didn’t know what to say or do. They had the same argument about him quitting at least once a month and here they were again. Back where they’d started.

“You might be nowhere,” she said with a sigh, “but I’ve got a thousand places to be and a to-do list that goes on for miles.”

She was about to say that she wanted them to work as a team, to be in a marriage again, when he turned suddenly and stalked out.

“Then I’ll leave you to it,” he said, before he stepped into his office and closed the door behind him.

Nicole sank back on the sofa and covered her face with her hands. She waited for the tears, but there weren’t any. Just a knot the size of Ecuador and the heaviness that came with a strong sense of foreboding.

Copyright © 2015 by Susan Mallery

The Girls of Mischief Bay
by by Susan Mallery

  • Genres: Fiction, Women's Fiction
  • paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Mira
  • ISBN-10: 0778317749
  • ISBN-13: 9780778317746