The Monroe Complete Trilogy by Emma Tharp




Final decree of divorce… …Irretrievably broken… The bonds of marriage are hereby dissolved.

The words swim on the paper. Paper that I don’t want to sign, but I’m left with no choice.

"Are you sure you want to go with adultery as grounds for divorce?" Mark, my lawyer, asks.

The court conference room is too fucking white. Everything is cold, bland, and sterile. I glance across the table at my soon-to-be ex-wife's bulging belly, which is currently housing some other man's child. "Positive," I snap.

Adriana runs her fingers through her thick blonde hair and her pink-painted bottom lip is sticking out. "I can't believe you want to end it like this," she whispers.

She looks to be on the verge of tears, which used to absolutely wreck me, but not anymore. My heart's grown hard now. I look at her through narrowed eyes. "I can't believe you cheated on me with the doorman, so I guess we're even," I seethe.

I thought my rage had dissipated. I haven’t laid eyes on her in nearly three months. It’s been good for me not to see her and the evidence of her betrayal. But now, with her sitting in front of me, a fresh wave of anger rolls through me.

"And you have to humiliate me like this? Instead of going with a no-fault divorce?" She crosses her arms over her belly, clearly not hearing a word I just said.

Gripping the handles of the chair so hard I'm afraid it might break underneath my fingertips, I take a steadying breath. All I want is for this nightmare to be over. "You're carrying another man's child. Don't talk to me about humiliation."

"Let's talk settlements," her lawyer pipes up, attempting to defuse the anger that's banging around the room.

I begin to laugh, almost hysterically. Adriana stares at me, a perplexed expression on her face. I nudge Mark. "Show her. I think the hormones have destroyed what's left of her mind."

Mark, wearing a grim expression, pushes a copy of our prenup across the table.

"Shit," Adriana moans.

"Exactly." I lean back in the chair and fold my hands behind my neck. It's impossible to stop the smile that spreads across my face. I know I’m being a dick, but I’ve never felt more fucked over. This isn’t what I wanted. Adriana used to bring out the very best in me. Not anymore. When I look at her, the woman I vowed to spend the rest of my life with, all I see is red.

"Let's talk about signing the paperwork. You may want to get remarried before the baby arrives.” My lawyer pushes a pen across the table.

There’ll be no more excuses. The divorce will go through uncontested.

Adriana leans in and whispers something to her attorney. It feels like forever, but sure enough, my wife signs the paperwork and with that, becomes my ex-wife.

Normally strong-willed and sophisticated, Adriana tucks her tail between her legs and leaves the conference room with her lawyer close behind her.

Swallowing hard, I scrawl my name across the document and push it toward Mark. When I watched Adriana walk down the aisle toward me, nine years ago, I thought we were going to be forever. I gave her all of me. I never dreamed that she would go out on our marriage and ruin everything we’d built. Stupidly, I didn’t see it coming. I was trusting, foolish, and naive.

“See? I told you this would be over before you knew it," Mark says, gathering the papers and putting them in his briefcase.

He’s right. Mark is the best divorce attorney in the business. It’s only been three months and he got the job done.

It is over, but for me it's been over since the genetic testing showed the child might have Tay-Sachs disease. Now, this can happen when both parents are Jewish, the genetic counselor explained. The thing is, I'm not Jewish. When I had looked Adriana in the eye, her face had gone pink and she averted her eyes—her tell. And in that instant, I knew the baby wasn't mine. It was the lowest I've ever felt in my life, because getting her pregnant had been my sole focus for the last three years of our marriage.

We spent all of our time in fertility testing, in and out of Ob/Gyn offices. There were vacations designed to help relax us so we could conceive. And despite the trying, the timed sex, the calendars, the rushing home at a moment’s notice to fuck her, I hadn't been the one to actually get her pregnant, which left me wondering. Could I be infertile? Despite the test results? With all of our efforts, I never minded any of it. We both wanted a baby. I wanted to be a father. And my ex-wife took that away from me.

I knew there was no coming back from her betrayal. As soon as the truth was known, she packed her bags and left. We didn’t discuss the possibility of a reconciliation, because in my eyes she’d ruined everything. No amount of couples counseling was going to erase her transgressions or somehow bring us back together. There’s another man’s baby involved. I don’t know if Adriana and the doorman are together or not, and at this point I don’t give a damn. He’s no longer working in my building, and that’s all I care about. Now we’re both free to live our own lives.

Leaving the courthouse, I should feel lighter, happier, and more secure in the knowledge that I'd saved my company, my home, and my accounts, but I don't. This is not where I saw my life at thirty-five. My head is spinning and my limbs feel heavy.

Taking the seat in the back of my town car, my phone rings. My brother, Donovan, my partner in crime and best friend. "Hi. It's done."