Jake Winslow’s marriage to the money grubbing shrew is over. Cutting off her funds, and the simple use of the word “no” sends her packing. When he comes home from work and finds his house empty of everything, including food, he feels–liberated.
Jake’s grandmother, Jenna, calls her friend and attorney, Forrest Stout, to handle Jake’s messy divorce. She can’t stand Jake’s soon-to-be ex-wife and is leaving nothing to chance. Only the best for her grandson, and the best is Forrest.
Forrest is a Were Tiger, and he knows “who” he is. He is an oddity in his paranormal world because he is gay. His kind mate for life, and after a recent disastrous attempt to find companionship, he has given up hope of ever finding his life mate.
From the moment Forrest meets Jake for the first time, he knows that Jake is his life mate, and he wants to run in the opposite direction because Jake isn’t gay. To claim and lose a mate would spell disaster for him. How can he ask a straight man–that he wants with every fiber of his being–to conform to his way of life? He can’t….
Ex-lovers, and ex-wives can be a dangerous combination. Especially when neither are right in the head….
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His wife had left him. Jake wasn’t sure how he felt about it, but she was gone, that was a sure thing. And she’d taken everything; not just her things, but every stick of furniture in the house. He definitely wasn’t unhappy about that. Jake thought his wife had horrific taste in all manners of style. Jake figured that he should have seen it coming; he’d been seeing little signs that she wasn’t happy with him. Hell, he wasn’t happy with himself. But he had been trying his best to make her happy. Okay, maybe not happy, but at least make her life with him tolerable. Carol wasn’t really the nicest person in the world, nor did she tolerate fools easily. Well, not at all, and he thought she had it in her head that he was the biggest fool of them all. Jake Winslow had married his high school…Jake wasn’t sure she was his girlfriend or his sweetheart, but he did marry her when he’d been fresh out of high school. She’d told him, several times during his senior year, that if he didn’t marry her by the time he left for college, she’d not be around when he returned. Jake was never sure why he did it—he certainly didn’t love her—but she was the only woman he’d had sex with. He supposed he’d been led by his dick, as most men were. His parents had made him marry her. Jake wasn’t sure why that thought had entered his head after all these years, but he knew as surely as he was standing in his empty house that they’d made him. He hadn’t wanted to, not at all. If she’d not been there when he returned, then she’d just be gone. Pressure from his father and whining from his mother had made him do it. He was sure of that. So, fresh from his graduation he asked her to marry him, and of course she’d said yes. And the week before he left for college, they were married…right there on her parents’ front lawn. His parents had decided not to come to the quick wedding…something about contracts and money to be made. Money; he knew this was a huge factor in his father’s life. Jake had wished so many times over the last ten years that he’d just gone off to college and never returned. He might have but for the one person in his life that he loved more than he did himself—his grandma, Jenna Beck Winslow. As he made his way around the house, empty of even any foodstuffs, he thought of the things he’d have to do now. File for divorce, he supposed. Since she’d left him, he figured he’d be safe in betting that she’d gotten all she wanted from him. There really wasn’t much left for her to take anyway. He’d taken care of most of his property and stocks when she refused to sign a pre-nup as his grandma had suggested. The rest; well, he’d hidden that away as well. This house was in his grandma’s name. As were the deeds to the two buildings that he had downtown, other holdings in deals, as well as a few other things that Grandma and he held together. He’d done most of the hiding of assets several years ago, right after Carol had nearly gotten them in trouble with the IRS for not filing their taxes as she said she’d been doing. It had taken him nearly four months of working a lot of overtime and taking cases he didn’t like to pay back his grandma the money she’d generously lent him.
Paying Grandma back had been the one argument he’d won with Carol. After that, he changed a lot of things. As he stood in the kitchen, he thought of the last fight that they’d had in this room not three nights ago. He’d been working late, again, and had come in this room to fix something to tide him over until breakfast. Carol had come in and started on him about money. “The checking account is empty.” He didn’t even bother looking at her. He knew it was. He’d emptied it when he’d noticed her spending had gotten out of hand. “I need you to put something in the account so that I can go to the mall tomorrow. Borrow it from that old woman again if you have to, but there has to be money in the account when I need to buy something. I’ve been invited to go to the mall with some of the girls from the country club. You know how important it is to me to keep up appearances, and besides, some of my favorite stores are running a sale. That requires money in the bank, because, in case you didn’t notice, the credit cards aren’t working either.” “I’m not borrowing money from my grandma again. She’s been kind enough to us. And the credit cards aren’t working because I canceled them. All of them.” She asked him why he’d do that. “Because, as I have told you several times over the last six months, there isn’t that kind of money coming in to cover even the minimum payment the way you spend money. You have to stop using them for every little thing you want. I’ve told you that. And since you can’t even do that, then I’ve taken control of them out of your hands.” He didn’t say for now, because Jake knew that she’d only continue to spend the money as if there were no limits. Charging things like ugly furniture that no one sat on. Dresses that would still have the tags on them when she donated them to some cause that the other sheep were into. And she’d go to restaurants and pay for everyone’s meals even though she didn’t like them any better than she did him. No, Jake had thought, she wasn’t getting any more ways to spend money. She had growled at him, something he’d only just noticed that he thought was juvenile. “I don’t know why you’re doing this to me, but I want you to know that I do not care for it. You make enough money for me to spend a few bucks now and again, Jake. Fix this.” He told her he had. Just not the way she wanted. “I don’t care what you do, but I’m going to the mall in the morning and I’m going to use those cards. I would suggest that if you don’t want me going to jail, because I will throw the fit of all fits, then you’d better make this right.” He’d finished making his sandwich and sat down at the table. Even before he could pick up his dinner of cold roast beef on a hotdog bun, all he could find, she swiped it from the table and onto the floor. He hadn’t wanted to get into it with her, but she had left him no choice. Jake knew that shouting at her would get him nothing but a headache. Carol was ten times more stubborn than any other person he knew. He’d looked at her as she stood before him with a self-satisfied smirk on her face. “Why are you like this? Why do you treat me as if I’m nothing more than a way for you to have the things you want?” She said nothing but stared at him, tapping her foot as she’d done so many times in the past. Well, he wasn’t going to give in this time, no
matter what she said or did. “I’m not going to put money in the bank so you can spend it on foolish things. Nor am I going to reinstate the credit cards so that you can run the limit to the max again. I got them paid off now, and there is no reason for you to—” “If you paid them off, then there no reason whatsoever that I can’t have them back, Jake. There are plenty of things I can buy now. The entire house could use a once over. Things are stale here. Give the cards to me and I will buy you something nice for that nasty office you work in.” He just stared at her after telling her to leave his office alone. “Jake, I’m not kidding you. If you don’t give me those cards, I’m going to leave you. Then what will you do? I should have the things I want. I did marry you.” “I married you as well, Carol. And you’re going to put us in the poor house with your total disregard to money and how it’s made. I purchased you this overpriced house that I didn’t want and the car that you seldom drive. You promised me then that you’d curb your spending. I can’t keep working like this so that you can toss our money away like you have no respect for how hard I work for it.” She simply put out her hand as if he was just going to turn them over. “I’m done. I’m not going to do this with you again.” When she left him there, he stood to clean up his mess. He wasn’t surprised when he heard the door to the bedroom slam, nor did he react when he heard her screaming. It was her way, he supposed, to make sure that everyone, including the neighbors, knew when she was displeased. They were probably used to it by now; he certainly was. Jake, as he had done for a while now, had gone to one of the spare bedrooms to sleep. He even went so far as to lock the door, and then put the dresser in front of it. He didn’t think that she’d harm him, but he didn’t want to take the chance that she’d come in and try to take whatever she found in his wallet. The cards, like a great many things he didn’t want her to have, were in the safe at his grandma’s home. And now here he was in his home with no wife, no tables and chairs, and probably not a single thing he could sleep on. Moving to the living room now he saw that she’d left him a nice note. The walls of this room were smeared with what he could only surmise was her last calling card. The note was written in spray paint all over the walls and over the fireplace. He, in a sort of disjointed way, thought about the amount of effort she’d taken to do this when he couldn’t even get her to clean up after herself in the bath. Dear deadbeat, I have found that I can no longer live under the rules that you’ve put me under. Good riddance. Jake grinned and wished this other man, if there was another one, all the luck in the world. He was going to need it, and a fat bank account. Jake was sure that even if the man had an endless supply of money it would never be enough for Carol. He pulled out his cell phone and called the only woman he’d ever loved. His mom hadn’t ever meant as much to him as his grandma did, and he doubted if she ever would. “Carol left me.” She told him good. “Yeah, I figured you’d say that. She took everything too. I’m pretty sure if there was a mouse in the house, he’d be starved by morning. I don’t have a pot to even piss in now, and oddly enough, I don’t really care. And when I was in my bedroom a little while ago, I noticed that she fixed my suits for me too. They’re cut to shreds.”
“She was a dreadful child, and she didn’t improve when she became an adult. I blame that on her parents, because they’re not much better. Frightful people.” He laughed as he sat on the stairs. “Why don’t you come here tonight? You and I will get drunk, eat some dinner, and have a good laugh over her. I don’t suppose she left you for another man, did she? That poor bastard.” “I don’t know. I think if there were a man out there that could keep up with her spending, he’d be sorry before now. Carol was mad about the credit cards.” He looked at the wall and repeated what Carol had written there. “And on a good note, I no longer have to cover up the couch when I want to sit on it…if I had a couch. I have never in all my life known a woman who had a negative sense of style like Carol has. And if there is another man, I’m betting he’ll have no idea what he’s getting himself into until it’s too late.” “Oh well, not your problem any longer, I’m thrilled to say. The girl needed to have left you a long time ago.” He agreed with his grandma. “Come over here and we’ll celebrate. I’ll have Bonny freshen your room up and we’ll have some fun. Lord knows you deserve it after ten years of hell.” “I’m exhausted, Grandma, and don’t think I have the energy to drive.” She asked him what he was going to sleep on, the floor? “I have no idea, but I’m just too tired to go out tonight. I’ll come over tomorrow and we’ll plot. I know I have to file for divorce now; I’m done with her. And hire someone good to take the case. I think her parents will want me to give her everything despite how much she already took.” “I’ll talk to my attorney. He never cared for Carol anyway after all the stories I’ve told him. He’d more than likely do it for free.” Jake laughed. “Come over, darling. I want to see you.” “I really can’t. I’m not sure I have the energy to even drive there. I’ll just find some blankets—I think there are a couple in my car—and spread them out on the floor. I’m too tired to care if I have a lot of comforts or not.” He walked to the door to go to his car even as he continued. “Tomorrow is Saturday. I’ll come over in the morning and have breakfast with you. One thing that’s good about this is that I don’t have to work myself to death to pay for her shit.” Jake looked around and shuddered. The couch in this room had been a bright green paisley. The chair a solid green that was almost blue green in color. The pillows had been plaid. He had avoided looking at the drapes, a deep blood red color that was a combination of squares and some sort of squidgy design that had made him seasick. Every room in the house was like that, brightly overdone and full of so many patterns that he never could figure out what she’d been going for. “I’m so glad that you’re looking at this as a positive thing. She was a mess and we both knew it. All right, go to sleep and I’ll see you first thing in the morning. I’ll have Cook make your favorites. Even bacon.” He laughed when she did. His grandma loved bacon more than he did. “I love you, Jake. Take care tonight.” “I will.” As he spread out the blanket he’d unearthed from the trunk of his car, he thought of what order things had to go in now that he was alone. The house would have to go. But
even as he lay down on the floor with the fireplace roaring out at him, he knew that he’d keep it. It was his after all, and Carol would be jealous that he had it. As he lay there, thinking of his life thus far, all he could feel was relieved. He was free. For the first time in his adult life, Jake was free. Rolling to his back, he could see his life as it had played out before him. From the first moment he’d seen Carol, he knew that she wasn’t for him. There was just something so…. While he didn’t think she was evil, he’d never felt particularly safe around her. Then after Jake had done a little investigating, he knew better than to piss her off. Carol had set her sights on him for a reason that he just couldn’t understand. His family had money, that was true, but he didn’t have anything that he could claim as his own. At least not back then. He’d not even gotten a new car for graduation as she had. The car he drove was a beater that his grandma had helped him get for running around campus, and he used a four-year-old computer. Plus, he had received a scholarship to one of the most prestigious colleges in the country. Jake had worked really hard for that. After he and Carol had been married for about a month, she started coming to him about money. She needed this or that. As a student paying rent for a house while he was in college, there wasn’t enough money in the account for him to buy books and her things. She’d never let him live down the fact that he’d made her suffer by not having any money all the time. But when he’d been taken in by a very good firm, Jake thought he’d more than made up for her suffering. Jake didn’t understand most of the things that she purchased, either. Who needed ten pair of shoes when you could only wear one at a time? And why did she need a new coat for every season? What was wrong with the one that she had in her closet? Most of the time he went without one just so she’d be happy. But she was never happy, nor was she ever satisfied, he’d just realized. No matter what he did or sacrificed for her, it was never enough. After he’d gotten out of school there were plenty of offers for him to look over. He’d been looking for stability, a good income, and a place he could like going to work for daily. A good firm that he could be proud to work for, and one that, someday, he’d be able to be a partner with. Carol had had a different outlook on his job prospects. She wanted location. An address that said she had money, or at least the appearance of it. There were questions that she had about where they’d live. How they’d live was questioned too, things such as servants, lawn service, and even limo rides. Where the closest mall was. Was there a country club membership involved? Would she be a part of the firm’s family as well, such as receiving invites to the partners’ homes? And she expected parties and shopping sprees. “I don’t think we should care about that so much just yet.” Carol had asked him what she should be caring about then. “Well, schools for our children. Where we might find the safest neighborhoods. And how quickly I can climb the corporate ladder. Mostly I think we should pay off some of our debt that we got while I was in college, and then save for a smaller house at first.” “No, I don’t want that at all. The bills? Those are your problem, not mine. You could have worked while going to college, and if you had, you’d not owe so much. Jake, if I’m
going to be a lawyer’s wife, then I can expect things to go my way for a change. I catered to your needs enough while you were off studying.” She made it sound as if he’d not been working hard at his classes and had fucked around. Jake wondered even then if she realized how much things went her way now. “We’ll find us a house that I want, then you can work from there if you’d like. But I deserve a nice home, bigger than my daddy’s.” He was never sure how she was going to make that work. Nine firms wanted him to come and work for them, two of them in another state. But Carol had not only found her a house she could tolerate—her words to him when they moved in—but she also got a house much larger than they needed. She called it their starter house, whatever the hell that meant. Lucky for them, or at least him, it wasn’t far from his grandma’s, and he could go see her whenever he wished. Jake realized that he wasn’t going to get any sleep with his mind so busy, so he pulled out the laptop from his briefcase and turned it on. As he searched for things to fill his home, he found himself looking on sites for furniture that his wife might have wanted. So, with a huge smile, he put in searches for things that he might like. By the time the sun was coming up, not only had Jake filled two rooms of the house, but he’d found that he was having fun. By the time he made his way to his grandma’s house, he was actually giddy with contentment. ~~~ Carol smiled when she thought of her husband. In a few days she’d call him, find out how much he was suffering, and then tell him that she’d take him back. But under her terms. There would be no more of his cutting off her spending. It was her right to spend as much money as she wished, and he should have realized that before now. Sitting on the large bed that had come with the hotel she’d set up for herself, Carol knew it was just a matter of time before he’d come to his senses. Jake was a nice man, but nice men finished last. Carol was going to have to teach him that lesson sooner or later. “Carol, do you think this is the smartest move you can make right now with Jake? I mean, he is due for his annual bonus, you told me. Had you waited for that, you could have set yourself up nicely instead of borrowing from me to finance this idea you have.” Carol told her mother that it was in the bag. “If you say so. I think he might like you being gone. Your father and I certainly are glad to have you gone from our house.” “What a thing to say to me, Mother. You have always been so mean to me. Why is that? I think you’re just jealous, aren’t you? But about Jake, I’m betting he’s already missing me. I can just see him now, wandering around the house sobbing for me. Wondering what it is he’s going to have to do to get me back. Well, it’s going to be different, that’s for sure.” She wasn’t sure about the sobbing part, but she knew that he’d take her back in a heartbeat. The man wouldn’t be where he was right now without her. “Jake will do just what I tell him to do. I know that he’s had some rough times of late what with all those charge card bills that he had to pay off, but I’m sure by now that he’s thinking what a mistake he made in cutting me off. I have him wrapped around my little finger.”
Her mother huffed at her. Carol wondered why she’d come to see her when all she had to do was give Carol some money and her credit card. But she hadn’t. Her mother was very untrusting too. Carol glared at her mother, wondering how on earth she’d had such a horrible person in her life all these years. Carol thought they’d all be better off if she would just die. Or be killed. That would be a better pay off in the insurance for her daddy. “In the meantime, I’m paying for this room and the storage units you had to have to store all that crap in. Why on earth you had to take everything is beyond me. Or for that matter, why you’d want to. It’s the ugliest shit I’ve ever seen. If I were Jake, I’d be pissed about you buying it in the first place. Were you trying to prove some point by going out and finding things that no human would possibly want in their garage, much less their home?” Carol waved her mom off. There was no accounting for some people’s tastes, she thought. “Carol, he might not care a fig that you’ve left, have you thought of that? You said yourself that he’s been cutting you off more and more all the time. Perhaps he’s finally gotten sick of you spending all that money. You nearly ruined him once; perhaps he’ll be thrilled to death that you’ve finally left and taken those things with you.” “Mother, you just don’t understand our relationship. Once he sees the error of his ways, he’ll be running back to me. You’ll see. I’ll call him on Monday and then you’ll see that I’m right. He might even be calling me before then. Jake isn’t all that smart, and he won’t be able to fend for himself in that big empty house without me there to guide him.” Actually, Carol was surprised that he’d not called her last night or this morning. Surely he’d seen what she’d done to him. At the very least, he would’ve seen the note she’d taken the time to leave him. “I had to take a stand in this. It’s the only way that he’s going to learn anything.” “He’s not stupid, Carol. Jake is a smart man, and I think you’re overestimating this hold you think you might have over him. As I said, he’s more than likely dancing a jig around the room and buying things that he likes and not you.” She asked her mother what she was talking about. “You think that you have him by the balls. I’m pretty sure, since he’s cut you off so nicely, that he has taken them back and will use them. I don’t think you realize what a bitch you’ve been to him.” “Mother, if you can’t be nice to me in my time of need, then perhaps you should just go home. I’m settled now. But the next time I want you to bring me money and a credit card, just have one of the servants do it. Or Daddy.” Her mom huffed again. “Why are you always treating me like I’m the bad guy? Jake just needs to learn that I’m the best thing that has ever happened to him. Once he does, then things will start to go back to the way I want them. No more cutting me off just because he said. I’m a grown woman, and have needs that he doesn’t understand.” “Carol, I think he understands you more than even you do. As I’ve said time and time again, the man could have done much better than you.” Her mother had always been so jealous of her, of her beauty, her husband. Even the way she decorated. “I’m going home. But as I told you when you called, I can only pay for you to stay here for two nights. I don’t know why you have to have the best of everything. Had you gone cheaper, you could have had—”
“I do not do cheap. I’m an attorney’s wife. I should have better.” Her mom said something as she was moving out the door but Carol decided to ignore her. “If I need to stay more than you paid for, I’ll let you know. I still don’t know why you’ve put a limit on my trying to get my marriage to work.” Two nights away from her would be just what Jake needed to get his head on straight. The nerve of the man thinking he could just cut her off after everything she’d done for him. And the sooner he figured out that he needed her around, the better he’d be. Laying back on the bed, she thought of the things she was going to do once she was back to the house. “I’m going to sell off every stick of furniture that was in there and start over. The house needs a fresh look anyway.” She’d thought about just setting it on the side of the road when she’d left him, but was afraid that he’d just lug it back in after she was gone. He’d do that too, embarrass her like that. “Then I’m going to have the pool enlarged, and we’re going to have a staff too.” She didn’t swim, didn’t even know how, but her parents didn’t have a pool so she wanted one. And the staff would make her day so much better. Just being able to say that to someone… “I have to talk to the staff,” or “The staff has been so much trouble lately.” It excited her to no end to think of someone asking her about how many she had. They’d had staff at first…well, someone to cook for them. There had been cleaning personnel as well. A woman and her daughter had come in twice a week to dust and run the vacuum. But after the first large purchase that she’d made to redo the living room, he’d cut even that off. The cook; Carol couldn’t even remember why they’d left, but Jake had gone on for over an hour about how she was to treat people that worked for them. Carol thought that staff, no matter what they did for her, needed to cater to her needs more than she did theirs. Thoughtless people. They needed to learn their place, and they would when she was back in charge. The phone ringing startled her. As she picked it up, thinking it was her mother, she snapped at her to leave her alone. The silence at the other end made her pause. When she asked who was there, she was greeted with male laughter. “I’m Forrest Stout. You must be Carol Lane Winslow.” She said that she was just Carol Winslow. “For now. I’m calling on behalf of Jake Winslow. He would like to set up a meeting with you in the near future.” “You tell him when he cuts me off, I cut him off. And what do you mean, for now?” The man laughed again and she positively abhorred him. “Who are you anyway? One of his buddies from work? Never mind. You tell Jake that I will come home when he has his priorities right. If you’d like to take him my demands, I can read them off to you. There won’t be any more cutting me off. I demand that—” “No, I won’t be taking him anything of the kind. But as for being his friend, I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Jake, but I think, just because he left you, I could be his best friend. I have, however, spoken to his grandmother. Jenna and I go way back.” Carol didn’t care. She didn’t care for the elderly Winslow any more than she did Jake’s parents.
“What time can you meet with us, Carol? I’d like to get this over with for him so that he can move on with his life.” “I’m not going to meet with him at all until I get some reassurance that what I want is taken care of. You tell him that.” He said that he would. “Aren’t you even going to ask me what I want? And I don’t appreciate you cutting me off. I don’t know who you think you’re talking to but—” “No, I’m reasonably sure neither of us want to know what you might want. And I’m also sure I’ve got you figured out. Oh, and while I have you on the phone, you should know that the locks have been changed on the house and the garage that you shared with Jake. Also, the things that you have in storage, they’re being removed even as we speak and moved to the address that you put on the receipt. I’m sure your parents are going to just be thrilled. You have a nice day.” She was still standing there holding the dead receiver when she thought of what he’d said to her. Why would Jake change the locks? Was he afraid of someone robbing them? There wasn’t shit in the house. That, to her, was locking the barn door after the horse got out. Or something like that. Her dad said that all the time, and she was happy to think that she knew that one. Also, what did he want a meeting for? Why not just have her come back to the house? She put the receiver in the cradle of the phone and sat on the bed. She wondered too what he’d said about the storage and how that would make her parents happy. Her mother wasn’t getting her things. “What are you up to, Jake?” She thought about calling him, asking him straight up what he was doing, but that would interfere with her plans. He was going to beg her to come home, and her calling him wasn’t on her list. “You aren’t playing by my rules, Jake, and that will only make this harder on you.” She went to the lovely desk that hadn’t been in the room when she’d gotten there. A few well-placed calls, everyone understanding that she was a lawyer’s wife, had not only gotten her the desk, but also free usage of the mini-bar. The Jake list, as she’d begun to call it, was pretty good if she did say so herself. There were some things marked off on it already. And things were going along just the way she wanted them, also in the order that she wanted them. Carol was looking at number six that was as yet still unmarked. He should have called her by now. Again, he wasn’t doing things the way she wanted them. Number one had been having the house emptied. It had been difficult for her to find a mover that would do it all in one day. But her daddy had come through for her on that. He’d hired two firms to come in and take over. Of course she’d lied to Daddy, telling him that there were bugs in the house and that her lovely things were going to be ruined if they didn’t get them out of the house, and he’d done it. Her mother had shown up at her door while she was working on number two. Leave Jake a note. “What are you up to, Carol? You can’t have Jake’s permission to do this to his home.” She turned to her mom and glared. “You’re going to regret this.” “No I’m not, I have a plan. And since this is my house, I don’t need his permission, nor do I care if he has an opinion concerning my actions. This is all his fault anyway.”
She’d been thrilled to death to show her mother her list, and all she did was tell her she was ill-advised if she thought this was going to work. “Of course it’ll work. I always get what I want.” “You’ve never gone this far before. I’m pretty sure that he’s not going to do what you want this time, no matter how many lists you have and whatever order you put them in. It’s bad enough that you’ve treated this man so poorly all these years, but to do this, to destroy his home…. Carol, I never thought I’d say this to my own child, but you’re not right in the head.” Number three had been harder to get than she thought it would. Her mom didn’t like to part with money any more than Jake did. But in the end Mother had put her up in a hotel. It was her plan to go live with her parents for a few days, but her mother had said no and had more than likely convinced Daddy that it was not a good idea. She was going to have a long talk with him once she was back in her home and with Jake. Mother was starting to get on her nerves, and she was sure her daddy would fix it. Number four had been put in motion the moment she was set up in the hotel. Make sure that her friends knew where she was and why. Well, her version of why she was out of her home. She’d told them that she and Jake had had a terrible fight and she’d left him until he could cool down. That hadn’t gone as well as she’d planned either, now that she thought about it. Not a single one of her friends had been sympathetic to her. She’d expected them to rally around her, bad mouth Jake and his treatment of her, but not one of them had. Two had said they were too busy to talk and had hung up. Mercedes, the one that she’d thought the most of, who also had the most money of all her friends, had told her she’d be lucky if Jake didn’t divorce her on the spot. And that she’d not blame him one single bit. The others hadn’t taken any of her calls. Carol thought that since it was late in the year a lot of them had gone out of town. That had to be the reason. Then there was number five. Five had been a spur of the moment add-on to her list. And possibly the worst thing she might have done. At least to the standpoint that it had gotten her the most grief. People weren’t as receptive to her story as she’d hoped they’d be. Going to the newspaper to tell them that Jake had hit her had been a huge undertaking. It had required her to pinch her mouth until it was puffy, and to wear dark glasses when it wasn’t too terribly bright outside. Twice she’d walked into a wall, and once had tripped over the curb. And for all that, she’d been humiliated once she’d entered the big building. Three of the people that had agreed to talk to her told her she was full of shit, and one of them had even told her she was lucky that he’d not hurt her worse. Carol tried to tell them that they didn’t know Jake as she did, and was left in tears after they made fun of her. Now here she was on number six, and she’d hit a wall. There had been no calls from Jake so that she could execute that part of her plan. She was going to tell him, no matter what he said, that she wasn’t going to live like he’d wanted her to. She was going to tell him that she needed money to make her life better. That there had to be changes, too, in how they lived. Not only would there be a staff for her to order around, but she wanted
a gardener as well as a limo driver. Each of her bullet points were left unchecked because her husband hadn’t called. “Damn it, Jake, what are you up to? And what is taking you so long to do what I need for you to do?” As she paced the room, she tried to think of reasons that he’d not called. His phone was dead? Not likely. He was the only person she knew that could go days on a single charge. He just never used his phone like normal people did. Did he forget her daddy’s number? No, she’d made sure that it was programed into his phone the moment he’d gotten it. There wasn’t any reason she could think of that he’d not have been able to call. That man that had called, Stout, he alleged he’d talked to Jake. She knew that had to mean that his phone was still working and it was charged. They didn’t own a house phone, again because Jake said it would be a waste of money, so that couldn’t be it. Then she wondered if he was working late again. Jake did work on Saturdays a great deal. She thought it had been because he was going to ask for an increase on the limits on his cards, but then he’d gone and canceled them all. But even working on Saturday didn’t negate the fact that he should have called her. Nothing was as important as him calling and begging her to come home. His calling was the thing that was going to get her what she’d wanted. Carol decided that she was going to make him suffer more for this, and smiled as she added that to her list.