I’d gotten used to being the subject of whispers at parties, but tonight it felt like they felt like shouts. I blamed Adam’s camp for letting this get out of hand. We’d all agreed that we wouldn’t give attention to our separation and impending divorce for a few months. He’d been elected mayor for a second term and everything had spun out of control, including our marriage, which had already been rocky. The newfound attention he got right after we said our vows made the strain unbearable. It was more than just that, though. I felt like I’d been in forgiveness mode when it came to Adam for a long time now and I no longer had it in me. I’d agreed to stay on as an exec for the non-for-profit we started up only because I’d already done most of the legwork and helping underprivileged kids was something I was passionate about. What I didn’t like was that it would mean I’d be associated with him. Not that he was a bad guy, but he was a terrible husband, and I was still healing from indiscretions that took place with his assistant and his campaign manager and his supposed best friend who was nothing more than a friend . . . basically, he couldn’t keep his dick in his pants.
A part of me blamed the fact that we got married straight out of college. At first I thought, maybe it was me, maybe I wasn’t fun anymore, maybe I should spice it up, but nothing worked. I gave it all until I had nothing left but anger, because that’s what infidelity did to the innocent party. It made us feel guilty. It made us feel like we weren’t enough. It took me a long time to understand that I wasn’t the problem. The one good thing that had come out of all of this was that it brought my father and I together in a way that nothing before had, maybe because we found common ground, as unfortunate as the stakes were.
I smiled at a woman in a red dress as I stood by the bar, wondering if she too had fucked my husband, when I felt Adam walk up and stand beside me. I didn’t acknowledge him, but I didn’t have to. I knew his movements and the scent of his cologne. His presence was a colossal source of discomfort during times like these, when I knew what they knew and I had to pretend I had no idea the reason behind their sympathetic smiles.
“We have a leak in our office,” he said.
“No shit.” I looked up at him, glad to see the clear look of discomfort on his face. “It’s funny though, everyone keeps staring at me as if I was the one who had an issue keeping my dick in my pants.”
“Presley.” He cringed, exhaling heavily.
“The truth hurts. Trust me, I know.” I shrugged a shoulder and reached out for the drink he had in his hands, taking a big gulp of the whiskey. I handed it back and turned to face him. “I think you should put out a statement. You can call it a joint statement and say we’re amicably separating but that we respect each other or some bullshit like that.”
“That’s not bullshit.” He took a sip of his drink. “I do respect you.”
“Not enough to not cheat on me, apparently.”
“That was – “
“A mistake? Please. Once may be a mistake, but beyond that?” I shook my head, surprised when the anger didn’t crash into me as it had before. “Stop bullshitting, Adam. I already voted for you.”
“I deserve that.” He swallowed, nodding slowly. “And I don’t expect you to understand what it’s like to be pursued by all of these women constantly.”
“You think men don’t pursue me? It doesn’t mean I go and sleep with them. I’m not a puppy. I know my boundaries.”
He opened his mouth to respond, but evidentially thought better of it and shut it once more. I almost wished he would say something. Something that would make me angry and cause a scene, except we both knew I wouldn’t. I’d been groomed for these situations and I’d never openly flip my shit, as much as sometimes I wanted to. We stared at each other for a long time, until I could no longer look at him without wanting to cry. He hadn’t even bothered to tell me he’d try harder when I slapped him with the divorce papers. He’d just acknowledged them and agreed that it was for the best because he knew he couldn’t make me happy.
“I have to go.” I grabbed my purse and put the strap on my shoulder. “Let me know when you’re ready to put out that statement.”
“I can try.” He grabbed my arm before I could fully start walking away.
I glanced at him over my shoulder. “Try what?”
“Try to be better. To do better.”
“That’s nice, but I can’t.” I pulled away enough so he had to let go of my arm. “I can’t stand by you anymore.”
“Even if we both sign divorce papers tomorrow, it’s going to take time to split our assets.”
“Honestly? I don’t need to fight you for money and even if I did, I wouldn’t want any of it. Keep whatever you want.”
“So you’re really going to go work for your dad?”
I shrugged. “I guess I am.”
“And you’re really going to open up a brewery?” He frowned. “You don’t even like beer.”
I blinked. “Drug dealers don’t necessarily like cocaine either, and yet they sell it anyway. What’s your point?”
“I just think it’s weird, that’s all.” He shot me a look. “You’re spreading yourself thin with that and the foundation.”
“The foundation is taken care of. I did my part to get it up and running. We have a full time staff that’s overseeing everything. They don’t need me.”
“You’ve never been interested in White Oak before. Winston must have offered you a lot of money.”
“It’s my family business, Adam.” I didn’t even bother to hide the warning in my tone. “I’ll see you soon. Send me the statement by tomorrow afternoon. I’d rather get this over with as soon as possible.”
This time, I walked away and left. I wasn’t going to let him make me feel guilty for taking the job with my dad, or anything for that matter.