Promises

By: Alexa Riley


I wanted all of it. The whole white picket fence, two-point-five kids, and a husband who adored me. I had the adoring husband—when he was around, anyway. I could deal with not being the center of his attention, but I didn’t want that for our children. I’d been a child with a father like that, and I wouldn’t do that to my children. I’d never bring them into a home that never really felt like a home at all.

I can deal with it. I love my husband, and I know he loves me, but it’s been crazy lately, and I worry that maybe it isn’t just work that’s keeping him away. Maybe it’s me. What if I don’t hold the same appeal I once did? What if the novelty has worn off in the same way it seemed to with my own parents? I grit my teeth, trying to push that insecurity back.

But that just doesn’t add up, not with the way Phillip touches me. He makes love to me every night when he crawls into bed, even after a long day at work. He can’t go to sleep without having me first.

Except last night. I don’t know when he got home, and that was a first. I fell asleep before he got home and woke with him kissing me goodbye early this morning. He said he had a big meeting to prep for and that he’d tell me about everything this weekend.

“Is there something else? You don’t seem your normal self.” Cindy releases the hand she had on my arm to study me. She’s very good at reading people. In fact, she told me the first time we met that we’d be good friends, and we have been.

And she’s right. There is something else. The very thing that’s started to plant little seeds of doubt in my mind. The thing that has me thinking a lot more about all those long work hours over the past month.

“He got a new secretary,” I finally spit out, knowing Cindy would get it out of me, so there was no use hiding it.

“Oh, I heard Debra retired.”

I nod. Yep, Debra left over a month ago and moved to Florida to enjoy her retirement with her husband. I loved that woman. She was always so sweet, and whenever I called or stopped by, she made it seem like the most important thing was my seeing my husband, no matter what he was doing. Everything else would be put on hold and meetings would be interrupted.

The new one, not so much.

“Don’t even say it.” Cindy leans back in her chair, her auburn hair swaying around her face.

I can’t even say it. It’s so cliché, I can’t let the words pass my lips. She looks the cliché, too. Tall, thin, big blue eyes, and blonde hair that always seems to be utterly perfect. Just like everything about her. Every hair always in place, and she walks around in five-inch heels all day long. I’d break my neck. It’s like she doesn’t even have to try.

“In fact, I’m not even going to let you say it. I mean, this is Phillip, for Christ’s sake.” She laughs like I’ve lost my mind. “The man is in love with you. I know you don’t know the pre-Molly Phillip, but I do.”

Cindy is one of my only friends in New York, and I’d met her through Phillip. It’s really how I met everyone here. I went from living in a boarding school, straight to college and right into Phillip’s condo. All my family and friends were thousands of miles away in Seattle.

“He was boring…well, he still kind of is.” She smirks like she just gave him a jab that he could really hear. “All work and no play. Until you. Why do you think the press went so wild? They’ve been trying to catch him with a woman for years, then he’s running all over town with one. Trust me, he’s not boinking the secretary. I’ve known him since college, and I’d never even seen him date until he met you.”

I know that’s true. I’d done my shameful Google search the first time I’d met him. It had come up with nothing. Never in a million years did I think he’d show interest in me. He is ten years older than me. I was barely twenty at the time we met. Some said he only did it to make his partnership with my father more solid. I never once thought that. He’d made me feel special, something no one had ever made me feel before. To be the center of someone’s world was so foreign to me. I ate it up. Now that some of that center had shifted back to his work, things started to feel a little bit lonely again. Loneliness was a feeling he’d taken away from me the moment I’d met him. I don’t like it creeping back into the edges of my life again.

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