The Private Serials Box Set

By: Anie Michaels

Part One



Private

Affairs





Chapter One

Thwap.

That was the noise which brought me out of my fuzzy, morning fog. Putting my coffee mug down, I looked at the granite countertop to see the envelope that had just been tossed there. I looked around to see if he was anywhere near me still, but all I caught was his back as he walked out of the front door. I sighed and glanced at the rectangle staring back up at me. My name was scrawled across the front, hastily written, slanted and sloppy.

Lena

I was hoping we could just ignore the significance of this day. Hoping we could just continue to live in comfortable silence and not draw any more attention to the marriage that was so completely and utterly failing.

Every day I woke up wondering which emotion would rule me. Would I be sad? Sad that the man I’d once loved was more like a roommate than a partner? Would I be angry? Angry he’d physically and emotionally abandoned me, both of which he’d vowed never to do? Would this be the day I was happy? Happy that I wasn’t tied emotionally any longer to a man who obviously couldn’t fulfill his obligations as my husband? Most days I managed to make the rounds and visit every emotion humanly possible, slowly fading from one to the next.

Today, unusually, I was filled with sorrow. Reminded by the greeting card sitting on my counter, today I grieved the loss of my marriage. For seven years we’d been married, and if I was really being honest with myself, we’d only been happy for about two of those.

I picked up the envelope and slid my finger beneath the lip, trying to open it without tearing the paper. I pulled the card out and read the sentiments pre-printed inside. None of the words meant anything to me; didn’t evoke any emotion, because they were empty. He bought this card because he thought he had to. He hadn’t even written anything on the inside. No personal note, no words to make me believe or hope that perhaps there was still something of our marriage to salvage. Nothing. I put the card down and exhaled slowly.

Seven years ago I married my college boyfriend and I remembered being replete with love and excitement. I met Derrek during my sophomore year at a frat party. I hadn’t been a part of the Greek system and felt overwhelmingly out of place, having been dragged there by my roommate, Samantha. I stood in the corner of the room, holding up a wall, slowly sipping on some sugary, fruity drink in a red cup.

While I looked around the room, trying not to seem as uncomfortable as I felt, I noticed a guy staring at me. Our gazes locked and I was immediately stunned by the deep blue of his eyes. Being caught off guard by their beauty, I hadn’t noticed them coming closer, or who they belonged to. When they were suddenly right in front of me, returning my gaze, I was forced to acknowledge the person they were attached to. Not surprisingly, the most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen belonged to the most beautiful man I had ever encountered. How convenient.

He was smiling, his full lips sliding over his white teeth, as he leaned against the wall next to me.

“I’ve never seen you here before,” he said, still smiling. His voice was deep and playful. Nothing about him was off-putting. Everything about him screamed perfection. That should have been my first indication to run the other way. Instead, I leaned in a little closer.

“That’s probably because I’ve never been here before,” I answered, talking loudly to be heard over the music and other party noises.

“Well, welcome then.”

“Thanks.”

He reached his hand out to me. “My name’s Derrek. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Lena,” I said, taking his hand. His grip was firm, but not overpowering. He held on to my hand longer than necessary, his smile never wavering as he slowly shook it. When he finally dropped my hand, it had immediately felt colder and a little empty.

He spent the rest of the evening chatting with me. He was very attentive, never paying attention to any other girls, only saying a few words to his friends who occasionally passed by. He seemed to be fully interested in spending the night talking to me, which was more flattering than I ever expected. At one point, the music and laughter in the house made it difficult to hear each other, so he’d asked if I wanted to go for a walk. My stomach fluttered at the thought of spending time with him completely alone, but something about him, which I couldn’t exactly pinpoint, made me comfortable.

“Let me go and tell my friend I’m leaving,” I said, smiling at the thought of going with him.

“Great. I’ll meet you out front when you’re ready.”

Samantha had given me the obligatory best friend lecture about going for walks in the dark with strangers, and she’d been right; I was about to break every rule we college girls had been warned against. But I had a cell phone with a good battery charge and I also had pepper spray on my keychain. I was confident I would be fine.

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