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She found Eric waiting for her in the living room. The look on his face reminded her of storm clouds before a hard rain. "Nick just left."
"Really?" she chirped, all fake brightness. "And how's good ol' Nick doing?"
"Drop it, Allison. I know you talked to him."
"That I did," she said, throwing her coat and bag on the couch, rounding on Eric with her hands on her hips. She hoped she wasn't still so wobbly that the effect came off as ridiculous rather than righteously outraged. "So did you two lovebirds say your tearful goodbyes?"
"I'm not breaking it off with him. And you're not ruining his career either. Not if I have anything to say about it."
"Stop trying to order me around, Eric. You don't scare me."
"Maybe I should."
"Oh, so what're you planning to do? Crack me over the head with a blunt object and toss my body in the East River? That might raise a few questions, don't you think?"
His lip curled in open disgust. "You're drunk."
"And with good reason. But you know the great thing about booze? It boils thing down to their essentials. I don't think I've ever seen you more clearly than I have tonight." Dropping onto the couch, she studied him for a moment, surprised that he actually looked a bit apprehensive. "Why did you marry me, Eric? I know you don't love me. Do you even care about me at all, or am I just a guaranteed twenty-point boost for your popularity poll?"
"Look, I know I've hurt you terribly," he said softly, sitting down on a nearby ottoman. But when he reached for her hand, she yanked hers away. "Believe me, I never meant for that to happen. And I do care for you. But as for love ... I don't know if I can ever give youthat. I don't even know if I'm capable of it."
"Of course you're capable of it. You love Nick."
"You've always loved him, Eric. And he's always loved you. That's probably why he and I could never make it work either." She took a deep breath, steeling herself for what she had to ask. "When did you start seeing him again?"
"About a week after we got back from our honeymoon. He showed up at the office asking for an interview about the wedding, and ... nature took its course from there."
She didn't think she could hurt worse than she already did, but now she felt like she'd just been sucker-punched. It took all her strength to keep the shock from doubling her over. "Oh," she managed to squeak.
To his credit, Eric didn't try to smooth it over with false conciliation. She knew he wasn't sorry. He wasn't the type to waste his energies on useless remorse.
"W-We never really had a chance, did we?" she murmured. "I wish you'd told me back when it first happened. We could've gotten an annulment."
"I didn't want an annulment and I don't want a divorce. I want to try and make this work. All three of us."