Eva gazed into the floor-length mirror and was pleased with her reflection. The black negligee she had recently purchased encased her trim body like a glove. Her auburn hair glimmered with highlights and her skin looked like butter cream. Even though she was forty, Eva looked younger and worked at it.
Hoping that her sexy look might heat up her husband, who seemed a little frost-bitten lately, she put on the finishing touch. Passion Fire Red lipstick!
Nine years ago she had met Dennis while helping his company remodel an old warehouse on the west side of Manhattan. Her boss had put Eva in charge of the cosmetic rehab of the warehouse while others dealt with structural issues. That was okay with Eva. Buying furniture and picking out paint colors was fun and she was given a huge budget with which to play.
It was at a briefing that Eva was introduced to Dennis, a junior executive at that time. He was to be the company’s liaison with her.
There was instant chemistry and before long they were embroiled in a passionate affair, which spilled over into marriage two months after the project was completed.
Nine years. Eva shook her head in disbelief. Where had the time gone? Six of those years had been fantastic, but things started slipping three years ago.
It had begun when Eva and Dennis purchased an abandoned brownstone in Brooklyn near the Verrazano Bridge. They had been giddy when they first received the keys from the bank and began restoring the four-story brownstone, but things started taking a downward turn six months into the project.
To save money, Eva and Dennis decided to complete many of the cosmetic projects themselves. After working long hours at their firms, they would hurry home to the brownstone and work late into the night trying to tile the bathrooms or lay down bamboo floors or paint twelve foot ceilings. What started as fun became a strain both physically and mentally.
They began snapping at each other and it didn’t take long to realize that they both had different visions for the brownstone, which created even more tension.
Eva wanted to restore the brownstone to its authentic former glory while Dennis wanted to gut and modernize it completely.
When the brownstone was completed, Eva had to admit it was stunning, complete with all modern amenities. But to Eva, the brownstone was cold and void of any personality, but it was what Dennis liked. She disliked the cold paint colors he had chosen and the minimalist look of each room.
Eva realized that compromise was the cornerstone of marriage and wanted Dennis to be happy. That was very important to her. She could live with the renovation.
Now that the brownstone was finished, Eva wanted to heat up her faltering relationship with her husband and get it back on track.
Eva masked her irritation when Dennis finally got home . . . late as usual during the past seven months. Hearing the elevator rise to the master bedroom floor, Eva waited in the alcove trying to look sexy in her negligee.
The elevator reached the top and the door swung open. Dennis was going through the mail and barely looked up.
“Hello there, big boy,” teased Eva.
Dennis looked up and froze when he saw Eva.
Eva noticed his hesitation and it threw her off her game. She suddenly felt foolish.
“What’s up with you?” asked Dennis.
Eva, determined that the night be a success, smiled. “I thought we would celebrate your new promotion and the completion of the house. I have made a very nice dinner for us.”
“We celebrated last Saturday with our friends,” retorted Dennis. He looked frustrated and a bit embarrassed.
“Yes, but I thought we could have a private celebration, just you and me,” rejoined Eva.
Uh oh. This was not going as planned.
“Honey, I’m tired. I just want to eat and go to bed.”
“Long day at the office?”
Dennis looked at the letters in his hand. His face was flushed. “Something like that.”
“I have something that will make you feel better,” chirped Eva. She was going to hit this out of the ballpark. Eva handed him two airline tickets.
“What’s this?” Dennis asked, staring blankly at the tickets.
“I purchased two tickets to Miami for this weekend. The two of us on a getaway. No work. No house to think about. Just warm breezes and blue water. We can rent a boat.”
“No?” echoed Eva. Her heart began to sink. Something was very wrong.
“This has got to end,” Dennis said, cutting in, letting the mail fall to the floor. He looked at Eva as though he was looking through her. “I’m sorry I have let this go on for so long, but things have got to change.”
Alarmed, Eva tried to hug Dennis but he pushed her away. Eva gasped. “What is it, Dennis? What’s wrong? Are you ill?” She felt a numbing fear move up her spine.
“I’m sorry, Eva, but I’m not going anywhere with you. This is very hard to say but I . . . I want a divorce.”
Eva felt like a bullet had passed through her. “What? For heaven’s sake, why? We have everything. We worked so hard on this house. Why Dennis? Why?”
“I don’t love you anymore. That’s why.”
“Mr. Reardon wants the brownstone,” demanded Dennis’ lawyer.
Eva and her attorney sat across the conference table. “Where is Dennis?” Eva asked. Turning to her lawyer, she questioned, “Shouldn’t Dennis be here?”
“Mr. Reardon has given me instructions to act on his behalf and feels his presence is not necessary under the circumstances.”
“What circumstances? Not seeing me?” Eva asked.
“Eva,” cautioned her lawyer. “Let me handle this.”
“What circumstances are you referring to?” Eva asked again.
“I believe that Mr. Reardon has expressed concern about you being abusive lately.”
Eva snorted in derision.
“Many women become upset when asked for a divorce and given no reason. Mrs. Reardon has been a faithful and constant companion to Mr. Reardon. I think that under the circumstances most women would raise their voices and maybe even throw some objects. It’s human nature.”
“Mr. Reardon feared for his life.”
“Oh, please,” scoffed Eva. “Give me a break.”
“If Mr. Reardon feared for his safety he should have called the police and filed a complaint. Since there is no complaint, let’s move on, shall we. Alleging that Mrs. Reardon is a threat without proof is counter-productive to your client’s requests.”
“Demands,” rebuffed Dennis’ lawyer.
“What are they?” asked Eva’s attorney, putting a pencil to a legal pad.
“Quite simply, Mr. Reardon wants the brownstone.” Dennis’ attorney raised his hand. “I have been authorized to offer eight hundred thousand for your half, Mrs. Reardon, plus half of all moneyed accounts that you share with Mr. Reardon. I think it is a very equitable division of assets.”
“I don’t understand why Dennis would want the brownstone. It’s too large for one person. I thought we were going to sell it and divide the proceeds,” remarked Eva.
“They think that they . . .” the lawyer stopped suddenly, looking aghast at his faux pas.
“They?” questioned Eva.
“I meant he,” stated Dennis’ lawyer.
“You said ‘they’.”
Shaken, Eva leaned back in her seat. “They. That explains a lot. It’s the missing piece of the puzzle of why he left me.” She began to sob quietly.
Her lawyer closed his notebook. “Tell Mr. Reardon that Mrs. Reardon wants 1.2 million plus half of all the other assets or we are going to drag this out indefinitely.”
“Oh no, you can’t do that,” complained Dennis’ attorney. “The house needs to be available by the next several months before the due date. ”
Eva’s mouth dropped open at the implication of the statement, and she began to wail out loud.
Her lawyer stood and helped Eva to her feet. “I assume Mr. Reardon’s new friend is pregnant then. He’ll meet our demands or I’ll tie up that brownstone for years.”
“Oh God,” whispered Eva, being led from the conference room. “He’s got a new woman and they’re going to have a baby in my house. My house! I painted every room! I installed the tile! I refinished the wood floors!” She yelled, “This just went from bad to the absolute worst. He told me he didn’t want any children.”
Eva grabbed a woman in the hallway. “He said he would love me forever.”
“They all say that, dearie. But if they can afford it, they trade us in every ten years or so for a new model. Once the tits start to sag, it’s over,” replied the stranger in sympathy. “We’ve all been there. It’s just your turn now.”
“What happened to true love?” murmured Eva.
Her lawyer snickered. “Surely you don’t believe in that crap, do you? Just get the money and run.”
“But I do. I do believe in true love,” blurted Eva and she cried this mantra all the way home, that night and for the next several days until her body became so dehydrated she couldn’t cry anymore.
Three months later, Eva signed the divorce papers and slipped them in the stamped mailer as directed. Licking the flap, she closed the mailer with a large sigh. “Well, that’s the end of that,” she moaned.
She hurried downstairs so she could catch the mailman whose truck she saw from the window. She caught him coming up the stoop and handed him the mailer.
Giving her a startled look, the mailman grabbed the envelope and hustled down the steps.
“I’m not that bad,” she groused, noticing his reluctance to stay and chat.
A mother pushing a stroller hurried by when the toddler saw Eva and started to cry.
“Oh, come on now,” complained Eva. Defeated, she pulled back inside the brownstone and looked in the hall mirror. “Jeez.” Eva tried to flatten her messy hair that would give Medusa a run for her money. Her eyes were sunken, teeth were yellow and dirty, and her skin was sallow.
Her outfit was pajamas that had not left Eva’s body for the past two weeks and were straining at the seams as her new diet consisted of chocolate ice cream . . . and then strawberry ice cream . . . and again chocolate ice cream. With chocolate syrup. For a dessert, she inhaled Reddi-wip from the can.
And she stank.
“I’m in some deep, deep doo-doo,” lamented Eva looking in the mirror and repelled by what she saw. “You’re made of better stuff than this. You’re just forty. Only six months ago you were hot stuff.” She pulled on her belly fat. “Crap. I’m middle-aged now. The bloom has faded.”
She gave the mirror one last pathetic look. “I just can’t stop living. This is just a bump in the road.” She took another hard look at herself. “Oh, who am I kidding? This is a freakin’ firestorm!”
Coming to the realization that she had to battle her depression, Eva climbed the staircase to the third floor. There she took a long shower, washed her hair, shaved her legs, and put on some clean underwear. Looking around the bedroom, she found a pair of clean flannel pj’s and a tee shirt. To complete the outfit, she slipped on some beat-up flip-flops.
Hungry, she went to the kitchen but found nothing in the fridge to eat. Frustrated, she began looking for carryout menus when she spotted the airline tickets to Florida.
Eva bit her lip as tears clouded her eyes. “I’m not going to cry,” she whispered. “All that is over. I’m going to buck up and get over this. I’m going to get a new life.”
Staring at the plane tickets, Eva suddenly called her travel agent and ordered a new ticket to be waiting for her at the airport. Then Eva grabbed her coat and purse as she fled the brownstone.
Giving the brownstone one last look, Eva flipped the house key down a street grate.
Dennis would be surprised to discover that Eva had had the locks changed and she had just thrown the only front door key into the New York City sewer system.
Eva felt an immediate sense of relief.
Hailing a cab, she instructed the driver, “JFK please, and step on it.”
LAST CHANCE MOTEL
Series: A Last Chance for Love Romance, Book 1
Publisher: Worker Bee Press
Length: 224 pages
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