“Who was that?”
He hung up the phone and rolled his eyes. “One of the cleaning ladies. Her husband is a real dick.”
She grimaced. “How so?”
“He beats on her. Real asshole.” With his free hand, he grabbed a beer from the fridge. “I’m going to beat his ass if he keeps it up.”
“For what,” she asked, watching him closely.
“She doesn’t deserve that shit. He shouldn’t be putting his hands on a woman.”
She shook her head. To hear him defending another woman from an abusive man blew her mind. “Is there something between you two?”
He glared at her. “You know I’d never cheat on you.” He took a drink. “She’s funny and sweet. He shouldn’t be beating on her.”
Touching the sore spot on her neck, she stared out the window. She’d been covering the fingerprints for days – using makeup and hairspray to keep it from rubbing off. A single tear leaked from her eye and trailed down her cheek. “I saw you with her today,” she whispered.
They’d been riding in the golf-cart together around the property. She watched them laughing. Noticed the woman’s hand on his thigh.
Slamming the beer on the table, he took a deep, loud breath. “I only fucking kissed her. She kissed me. Whatever.”
“I see.” But she hadn’t seen that part.
“It’s not my fault that you don’t trust me. Not my fault I’m attracted to her.” His voice grew louder with each word. “I’m trying to decide if I even want to be with you, so don’t push me. We were in an empty apartment and she needed a man’s comfort. I was there. And we kissed. End of story.”
She took a deep breath and faced him. She didn’t believe that it was the end of the story at all. In fact, she’d bet that when his subordinate had come looking for him, knocking on the apartment door and asking her if he’d come home, the two cheaters had been holed up in one of those empty apartments doing a whole lot more than just kissing. “I’m going to my mom’s.”
He laughed. “No, I don’t think so.”
“It’ll give you time to figure things out.” She held her chin high and walked towards their bedroom.
“There’s nothing to figure out. You’re a cunt. She’s not. You’re plain and boring. She’s funny and sweet. You are a lazy slob. She’s a hard worker. You’re a prude. She knows how to turn a man on.”
She broke. Tears flooded her eyes. Her hands shook. “Then why am I here,” she asked.
He shrugged his shoulders. “Because I love you.” He crossed the room and pulled her into his arms. “Because you love me.”
She pushed him away. All but stumbled to the bedroom. She pulled an overnight bag from the closet, opened it and laid it on the bed.
He watched her from the door. She could see his chest slowly puffing up, his fists clenching, his neck turning red.
“You want to fucking leave me?” He slammed his fist into the door, leaving a hole the size of a grapefruit. “Then fucking leave, you stupid fucking whore bitch!”
He shoved her from behind. Her knee smacked the bed-frame and she gasped. “Please stop,” she cried, scrambling to put her clothes in the bag.
“Who are you fucking?” He shoved her again.
This time, her head smacked the closet door and she whimpered. “No one.”
“Bull-fucking-shit!” He punched the wall. “I know you’re fucking someone or you wouldn’t be acting like this. You’re trying to make me into the bad guy!”
Shaking her head, she put the last of her clothes into the bag and zipped it shut. She put it over her shoulder and faced the door. “I’m leaving.”
“No, you are fucking not,” he roared. He moved quickly, his hand wrapping around her throat as he slammed her against the wall. “You’re not going any-fucking-where! Do you hear me? Fuck that, running like a little bitch.”
His breath was hot on her skin as he stared into her eyes. He punched the wall beside her face and slammed her head against the wall. “It’s your fucking fault. Hear me?”
She nodded, gasping.
He leaned in closer to her, his lips grazed her ear: “There is not a man out there that would want your sorry ass. You are fucking crazy. You have nothing to offer but pussy.” He stepped back, let his hands fall to his sides. “And even that isn’t worth shit.”
Grabbing her bag off the floor, he dumped it on the bed. “Put this shit away. Go to fucking bed. I’m tired of looking at you already.” He kissed her cheek. “Try to leave me all you want. It isn’t fucking happening. And if I find out there’s anyone else, I will fucking kill you both.”
She nodded and shied away from the door, allowing him to pass. She watched him strut down the hall, into the living room. She sat on the edge of the bed and dropped her face into her hands. She had no idea what she was supposed to do. She didn’t know how to get out of this. She knew he meant every word he said. Even that he loved her. She just had to do better. Be better. Earn his good side.
Quietly, she put her clothes away. Once finished, she brushed her teeth, washed her face, and climbed into bed, fully dressed. She had just closed her eyes when he came into the room.
“I’m going out.”
She sighed in relief. “Okay.”
“You better be here when I get back.”
“I do love you.” He muttered. “I wish you’d stop making me be like that.”
“I will,” she answered, without getting up.
He closed the door. She heard his footfalls down the hall. Listened carefully. Heard the front door open and close. She stayed still. Waited. Checked the clock. 9:43. Waited five more minutes.
The apartment was quiet, except the buzz of the television. She laid on the couch, turned on one of her favorite movies, and sipped a cup of hot tea. She considered packing her bag again. Wondered where he’d gone and when he’d be back. With a burst of determination, she ran to the bedroom and re-packed, shoving just enough in the bag to get her through a couple days.
She grabbed her coat and slid her arms in. Stuck her cigarettes in the breast pocket and headed toward the door. She reached for her keys and stopped dead in her tracks. They weren’t there. Just a sticky note with his handwriting: Fuck You.
Tears erupted from somewhere deep and she sobbed loudly. She wasn’t going anywhere.