KEPT:A Second Chance Fairy Tale

By: A.C. Bextor

Michael

She’s a pain in my ass.

She’s everything I know I don’t want or need.

She’s the reason I’ve fought the darkness for so long.

And yet, she has no idea who I am.

I had no right to Lucy. She was never mine to have. My interest in her should’ve remained no more than an undisclosed business arrangement.

The day she forced her way into my life, everything I worked so hard to secure began to unravel. From that moment forward, my life has been a mixture of chaos and excitement.

Lucy awoke the beast I’ve struggled to live with. Now it’s up to her to ensure the threat of its ghost no longer holds the power to ruin me.



Lucy

He hates me.

He’s guarded and locked down tight.

He’s a brute.

Yet, he opened my eyes to a future I was certain didn’t exist.

My life was ordinary. As a single mother living only to make ends meet, I stopped wishing for more. My hopes and dreams in finding Prince Charming ceased to exist. Life forced my priorities to change.

Then I walked into Michael Holden’s office and saw pain not so unlike mine reflecting through his icy gaze. He incited feelings I believed to have long since died.

Michael awoke the spring of hope I thought I’d finally set free. Now it’s up to him to show me fairy tales really can come true, if you believe.





Michael

“WHY CAN’T YOU JUST BE honest with me for once, if not with yourself? It’s finally over now, Mike. You can tell me. Did you sleep with her?”

My wife asked the million-dollar question in reference to Hillary, a pretty, twenty-something paralegal who’d been working in my office at the time. She accused me of this as we stood outside our son’s bedroom door, arguing after I had gotten home late from the office yet again.

“Fuck no, Victoria. I’m not going over this shit with you again,” I hissed in a whisper to avoid a scene playing out within earshot of my son.

I was so angry and so tired, not only from fighting with her, but from pulling down another eighty-hour work week to ensure my family wanted for nothing.

Emitting a tight, feminine growl, she sneered, “Look at you. You’re so good at lying, it’s become second nature.”

That night was merely one of many when Victoria had accused me of cheating.

The truth was her accusations never held any merit.

Yes, I’d thought about other women, and I knew Hillary would’ve made herself available. But I wasn’t having an affair, emotional or otherwise, with Hillary or anyone else.

Victoria and I both loved our family, but the degree of neglect we’d subjected each other to during the last few years of our marriage had been weighing heavily on both of us. And our differences were straining the relationship.

“We’re leaving in the morning, Mike. I can’t do this anymore. Not to myself or to him,” she stated pointedly, as she had so many times before. She was so sure our life together was over and, in all honesty, I envied her conviction. “There’s nothing more to talk about.”

“You’ve given up,” I quietly stated the obvious. I hadn’t, though. I never would’ve stopped trying.

“Yes,” she whispered with slight relief. “I have. We don’t know each other anymore.”

Her statement wasn’t a lie. We didn’t know each other, but I didn’t think we did even before we brought our son into this world. A part of me still loved her because she was his mother, but that was where my feelings ended. There was no understanding, no passion or desire between us. I found no comfort or care in her company.

The responsibilities and demands of life had changed us both.

“You’re not taking him with you,” I advised her calmly.

My son was the greatest accomplishment of my life. He was the one good thing to come from our marriage, and we both cared about him deeply and above all else.

Caleb was smart, witty, and mature for his age. The family life he’d been exposed to because of us forced him to grow up quickly. Oftentimes, it was only because of him that we didn’t emotionally torture each other further.

Raising her hands in the air, motioning to the large house we had made a life in, she answered, “He’s not staying here.”

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