So this book is a little surprise from me to you because you’ve just been so amazing the past few months.
I hope you love it!
All this legal crap was just not my scene. Divorce papers were more complicated than the legalese behind building a tech start up from the ground up. First, the consent for uncontested and no-fault divorce was the biggest load of shit out of all of them, this was all her fault. Every piece of it. I already got through the petition to dissolve the marriage, why would I stay with someone who betrayed me in the worst way imaginable? And then tried to hide it.
And the alimony. I knew she was going to try to get her piece. I told my lawyers to do what was fair for someone married for ten years, and nothing more. I skipped the motion for modifying spousal support, she wouldn’t be getting anything else out of me. No kids, so that made this process a whole lot faster. The only thing holding me up wasn’t even the financial statements, it was the damned answer to divorce petition. I should have known she would try and drag this out, just to get to me. She seemed awfully content underneath the man she left me for. She just wanted to torture me.
I sat behind my desk at home, selling a billion-dollar tech start up meant I never have to step foot in an office building again. Or wear a suit.
I called my lawyer, to see if he had any news.
“It’s been almost three weeks, Levi. What the hell is the hold up?” Frustration seeped through my voice. I hated to take it out on the guy, but something had to give.
Levi was a friend from way back in college. He cared about his grades, while I just went through the motions, graduated with the ‘C’s get Degrees’ motto.
“I know man, I’m sorry. Vivian’s lawyers are giving me a shit storm of demands. I have to play around with them, I know this game a little too well, I’m afraid.”
I sighed, not hiding my complete annoyance with the entire situation.
“Fine. As long as you aren’t giving them any more of my money.” I grumbled. My hand combed through my hair in frustration before I rubbed my eyes. All this lawyer shit had me stressed, I needed a haircut and a shave. The gateman barely recognized me last night.
“Nope. Standard eight million. Uh, it might help if you pay her lawyer fees.”
Blood rose to my face in anger. My fist balled up on the desk, the other almost broke my phone.
“Hell no. You think I’m going to pay her for fucking that gardener?”
“Uh, it was her optometrist.”
He cleared his throat nervously. Again, I didn’t mean to yell at the guy, but this was damned ridiculous.
“I’ll take that as a no. I’ll push her tomorrow. I hope I can get her to make her answer to the divorce petition a yes by Monday. I know you don’t want to drag this out.”
He cleared his throat and I heard the ruffling of papers on his line.
“Look, I know we didn’t really talk about all this. But I’m sorry, man.”
I kind of froze as I blinked in surprise. Levi wasn’t evil, no. But we were not as close as we used to be. In college, we were close. Not just partying but talking about shit. He was my best man when I married Vivian. We just got busy with work and didn’t get to talk much anymore. When I called, and asked him to help me out with this, we hadn’t spoken for about a year before that.
So, I never really talked about anything besides, ‘I know you’re a criminal litigator, but my wife cheated on me and I need to take her down without going to court.’ The media would have a field day if we did, and I was still a decent guy. Couldn’t do that to her, even still.
“Thanks. We can meet up soon, I know life got ahead of us.” I said. He chuckled in response.
“Yeah, that’s for sure. Hopefully I can call you in on Monday with good news. Once the papers are signed, we can get financial in here and theoretically, you’ll be done with her.” He said, I heard the slight smile in his voice.
“Hopefully. Thanks again, I know you’re busy.”
“Don’t sweat it. This is better than almost getting shot every day I walk into court. Speaking of, I have a hearing in ten.”
“Oh, of course. Thanks.”
“No problem, see you.” The line went dead.
I swung back in my chair. Maybe I would feel better once I got out of my pajamas. Maybe eat something or see some sunlight for once in a blue moon, well, three days. I checked emails, nothing was dire, so I went ahead and left my den and set off for the kitchen.
Of course, I didn’t have any food. I shook my head in disappointment, mostly at myself. I took a shower and got dressed in some jeans and a polo, so I could run to the café around the block. I went there so much; the cashier knew my order. She stopped writing her number on my cup a few weeks ago.
“You look awful tired today, Tristan.” We got on a first name basis a few months back.
She was very young, college-age tops. And a typical one at that. Trendy dirty blonde hair, blue contacts, and a leaf tattoo on her wrist.
“Little bit, thanks for noticing.” I paid her and stepped to the side, feeling her eyes follow me as I did.
Things were different now. In my mind, I wasn’t married anymore; I’ve done my signing. It wouldn’t hurt anyone to show that girl a good time, maybe I would feel better. Maybe not better, but far from not having had sex in the past two months.
But instead of making a move I sat down at a table alone and ate. I could still feel her eyes on me. This wasn’t the time, or the place.
Maybe one day.
On the way home I stopped at my usual barber and got my haircut and wet shave.
“Haven’t seen you in a while, you make my job harder you know.” Tony, my barber who probably faked his Mediterranean accent, pretended to be pissed.
“Sorry. I’ve been busy.” He draped the cloth over me and I relaxed into the chair for a much-needed grooming session.
Perhaps I shouldn’t let myself go too much, but the shit I’ve been under for the past few months was enough for anyone to let themselves go.
“Maybe I do something new, what do you think?” He asked.
I chuckled softly, “Sure. Why not?”
I walked out of there with a new haircut and decided to keep my beard as a low fade. Made me look wiser, and less like a divorced man at thirty. Maybe that was all in my head.
I got back to my penthouse and settled in the theatre room, prepared to do absolutely nothing for the rest of the day. Then my sister called.
“What do you want, Natalie?” I gruffed.
“Ugh,” she scoffed, “I can’t check on my kid brother?”
I sighed heavily, muting the action movie from blaring through the speakers.
“Sure, you can.”
“Whatever. I worry about you, you know? How are you doing?”
I winced. I know she meant well, but I don’t like talking about myself very much. I never have, and I probably never will. Yeah, she’s my big sister. She was family. But I didn’t like talking with them about it especially.
“I’m fine. Got a haircut today. How are you?” I tried to turn the conversation away from myself, but she wasn’t having it.
“So, you don’t look like a bum anymore? That’s good. How is the divorce going? Did that twat finally sign the papers?”
I cracked a smile. Natalie probably hated Vivian more than I did. Natalie was always like my protector anyway. She was only three years older than me, but she used to beat up the school yard bullies for me. Until junior high when I surpassed her in height and wasn’t the kid brother anymore. Still, she went to bat for me all the time. Especially with this Vivian situation.
“No, she hasn’t. Levi is hoping to get her on board by Monday though.”
“Good. So, you’ll be at the gala this weekend?” I reclined in my chair, settling in for what seemed to be a long conversation.
“You know Sasha and Bryan always have their gala this time of year. It’s on Saturday.”
Sasha was arguably the city’s most influential woman. She had been at the head of numerous charities, scholarship funds, and boys’ and girls’ clubs. Her success came from her ability to dig deep into the pockets of the wealthy. Including mine.
“Can’t I just write a check?”
Natalie laughed aloud.
“No, asshole. You should come. Besides, it would look worse if you don’t show. You know the gossip in this circle, everyone knows about you and Vivian.” I let out a long sigh. As much as I hated to admit it, my sister was right. I was sick of everyone in town giving me a pitiful look, as if they understood everything I was going through.
“I know. I guess I’ll go. Just don’t really want to.”
There was silence on her end for a bit, she only got like that if she had to say something she would rather keep to herself.
“What is it, Nat?”
“Why don’t you just tell everyone the truth? People think you got divorced because you were running around on her.”
“Because, what good would that do? None.”
Yeah, once gossip hit the mill, Vivian was right on top of it. She made up elaborate stories of how I would go on fake business trips, come home smelling like other women late at night. She wanted to maintain her perfect girl image, and she was completely fine with throwing me under the bus to achieve that. I was never one to get wrapped up in all of that, I just hated how it messed up my parents’ image. They were respected in the city, big time real estate investors responsible for half of the state’s development. So, everyone knew about them, and after Vivian’s shit storm with the media, they quickly learned about their fuck-up son. I never said anything about it because I knew Vivian, she only wanted a rise out of me and she wasn’t going to get one.
“Yeah, but it would make things easier for you.”
“Not really.” I sighed.
“Well, you should bring a date. Not those tramps you pick up at clubs. You know, Penny is still single.” I rolled my eyes. She had been trying to hook me up with her receptionist for almost two years now.
Natalie was a board-certified psychologist and has published a bunch of research papers I kept promising her I was going to read. She was successful. And she kept trying to play matchmaker.
“Come on, she’s cute! Or are you done with brunettes?”
“No. Stop trying to psychoanalyze me.” I said sternly. Downside of having a psychologist for a sister, I was her first patient.
“I’m not. But you should come in for a session. Maybe you’ll open up a bit if it’s more formal.”
I didn’t say no right away. I had a lot holding in that I would rather not hold onto anymore, but I wasn’t sure I could tell my sister yet. Or anyone. I barely knew my own thoughts that flickered in my own head for most of the time.
“Maybe. Aren’t you at work right now?” I asked her. It was late afternoon on a Friday, she usually had patients booked up to close.
“Not for an hour. But we should have dinner. I haven’t seen you in forever.”
“You saw me three days ago. And what about Kit Kat?” I could hear her frown and it made me chuckle.
“Kevin. His name is Kevin.” She hated when I called him that. I couldn’t help not liking him, anyone who dated my big sister had to jump through fiery hoops to win her over. “And he is away on business, remember?”
Oh. No wonder she was bothering me. She was lonely. Kevin was a medical sales rep, so his job kind of had him running around a lot. I think they’ve been dating…four months now. Five?
“Right. Sure, we can have dinner. I’m not leaving the penthouse though.”
“Okay. I’ll bring our favorite. See you!” She hung up, her chipper voice ringing in my ear.
I finished the rest of the movie. The new one about fast cars with the guy from Breaking Bad. I suck at names. It was about seven, and then my mother called me. It must have been bother Tristan day. There are at least three every week.
“Hey, Mom.” I answered.
“Honey, you sound so tired. I thought you didn’t even work anymore.” I rolled my eyes. Selling a company off doesn’t mean I don’t work anymore.
“I know. I’m not tired.” I lied.
“I wanted to check on you. Did you get you invitation to the gala? You still need it to get in. Natalie told me she spoke with you.”
“Yeah, we’re having dinner tonight. I didn’t get an invitation though.”
“Look in the mail.”
My mom’s voice was very soft and soothing, she hadn’t asked me anything or even given me any advice and I already felt better. I went to the mail opening at my door, sure enough I found a gold bordered, eggplant colored invitation to the charity gala. This one was for a scholarship fund for underprivileged kids.
“I found it.” I told her.
“Good. I’m glad you’re seeing your sister tonight, you know she gets lonely easily. With Kevin being gone and all.”
I nodded to myself.
“Yeah, she does.”
“And how about Vivian?” I still cringed at the sound of her name. Crazy.
Ten years ago, when we first met I was head over heels for her, thought she was the one for me. Then money changed her—she got implants, micro bladed brows, lip injections, injections everywhere pretty much. It was my money too, not that it mattered. I thought I was just helping her in her quest to feel beautiful. Little did I know I was making it easier for her to find someone else.
“What about her, Mom?” I couldn’t hide the frustration in my voice. How many people would ask me about this woman today?
“Did she sign the papers? It has been weeks.”
“I know. No, she hasn’t. Levi is trying to get her to sign by Monday. I want to be done with it.”
“I know, honey. We do too. It’s really too bad what she told everyone, when your dad and I heard about it we tried to set people straight.” She scoffed. Her otherwise soft and easy voice was strained. I hated when Mom worried, especially when it was over me.
“Don’t worry about all that, Mom. People will think what they want.”
“I know, but they shouldn’t. You’re such a good boy. And you’re the one that got hurt here.” She insisted.
“Yeah. But really, don’t worry Mom.”
“I’ll try. Your dad is on the deck with a cigar, he’ll probably call you later.”
“Uh, please tell him not to. I’ve had enough phone calls for the day.”
She laughed aloud.
“Tristan, stop being so rude. Anyway, I’ll tell him you are with Natalie. I just wanted to check on you. And you are coming to the gala, right?”
“Yes, of course Mom.”
“Good. If you need me to find you a date, I can…”
“No, I’m okay. Thanks though.” I silenced that idea quickly. With my luck, she already had three people lined up.
“Okay, if you insist. Be nice to your sister.” She said, her stern tone breaking through.
“I will. Talk to you later, Mom.”
“Bye honey, I love you.”
“I love you too.”
Maybe I should be grateful I even have family willing to bother me all day. I was being overdramatic, but when everyone kept asking about my ex, what was I supposed to do? Part of me wanted to call her and dish out all of the choice words I had for her, but that would be stooping to her level and I wouldn’t give her that satisfaction. After all of this nonsense, I didn’t even think I’d ever date again.