The EscapeBy: Alice Ward
How could I blame her for seeking out happiness with someone else since I was apparently a “cold hearted bastard” who was like “sleeping with a snowman every night.”
She wasn’t wrong.
Plus, I had a damn airplane, after all. When she told me of the move, I’d envisioned me jetting across the country to see them all the time. I’d envisioned me opening up a Los Angeles office. I had clearly seen us being able to make this work.
What I hadn’t foreseen was Danielle changing so much since the move. I hadn’t foreseen her erratic behavior. I hadn’t foreseen the change in the kids, the way my son went from looking at me like I was a hero to looking at me like I was the villain in some Hollywood movie.
“I need to find myself,” Danielle told me when Kenzie was barely two. Finding herself had involved hours at the spa or yoga studio while a nanny took care of the kids. Finding herself meant solo trips to Europe and the Caribbean. Finding herself meant finding someone else.
I found out about them when Joyce had dropped a copy of a tabloid on my desk, her eyes filled with anger and worry.
There she was on the cover. My wife… kissing a stringy haired, skinny dude in leather pants, a nasty looking nose ring the only thing between them.
The thing was… I hadn’t been that upset. Maybe that was the cold-hearted bastard in me. Or maybe it was because I hadn’t loved her. Had never really loved her. And maybe what I’d felt more than anything was relief that she was the one to move on.
We’d been divorced for over a year now, separated longer than that. If we were honest with each other, we should have never married in the first place, and we probably wouldn’t have if she hadn’t gotten pregnant.
God, I remembered that day as if it were unfolding before me. Danielle had called, telling me that she needed to see me after class. I was only months away from getting my MBA while she was still working on her undergraduate degree at Columbia.
“We need to talk.”
I remembered thinking at the time that “we need to talk” had to be the four worst words in existence. I’d been wrong.
“I think I’m pregnant.”
Those four words had knocked my life out of its orbit, or least sent it on a spiraling detour.
When the pregnancy had been confirmed, and Danielle insisted on keeping the baby, I strapped my balls on tight, got down on one knee, and proposed.
We both tried to make it work, at least I thought we did. I finished my MBA even when Danielle decided to drop out to focus on our family. Focus on filling the new home I bought with my trust fund with expensive furniture and art.
And she had been a good mother at first. When Kylian was born, she’d nursed him with a look of awe in her eyes that had convinced me that everything would be all right. But by the time he was three, we were fighting all the time. No. She was fighting. I was ignoring. I was turning into the snowman she accused me of being.
We had been on the verge of divorce when she announced she was pregnant again. That had been our biggest fight. We hadn’t slept in the same bed together in weeks when she dropped that bit of news on me.
“Remember that night after the Stewart’s party?” Danielle asked me.
Shit. Yes. I did remember. I remembered Dani getting drunk off her ass. I hadn’t been exactly sober either. The door to the limo had barely closed when she was climbing on my lap, fumbling with my pants and her skirts. It hadn’t lasted long.
But I’d convinced myself it had lasted long enough. After all, only one of those suckers needed to get through. And the window of opportunity had been right.
Then Kenzie had been born, and all doubts of her paternity fled when her little hand had wrapped around my finger, her deep blue eyes blinking up at me.
I looked at the emerald stone on the charm bracelet. Kenzie’s birthstone. A May baby. A springtime baby. A “we’ll make it work” baby.
It hadn’t worked.
Danielle had found Jet Ford and jetted away, taking my kids with her. And I hadn’t stopped her.
Damn, I sucked as a human. As a father. As a man.
“I asked the LA housekeeping staff to stock the fridge,” Joyce said, breaking through my haze of thoughts.
When Danielle moved, I bought an apartment there, one not far from where they lived. It made sense to have a more comfortable and familiar place to keep the kids when I visited.