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Isabel stood, hands on her hips, and looked over her empty apartment.
From the hall, a deep voice asked, "You ready?"
She had to swallow hard before she could answer. "Just give me a minute. Please."
Isabel heard his footsteps clattering back down the stairs and after that, she was alone with her memories.
For four years, sheâ€™d laughed and cried within these thin walls, listening to her neighbours laugh over their joys and cry over their frustrations. Lately all they must have heard from her unit were tears. Angry, bitter sobs over the man who had recently moved out. He was moving on, Jason had told her, as if she was an accident scene that had momentarily snarled up the smooth traffic of his life.
Theyâ€™d only lived together for the past eight months, but already his personality had sunk itself into the furniture sheâ€™d packed away for shipping on to his motherâ€™s. He hadnâ€™t even wanted to give her his new address. Probably because it was her address, too. The other woman. His new woman. Which probably made Isabel the other woman now.
Damn him. Damn them both.
Jason hadnâ€™t thought to help Isabel pack either, and had left it to her and whatever help she could rustle up. There had been a lot of possessions to move, mostly the recent and expensive accumulations from Jasonâ€™s side of the apartment, consisting of a state-of-the-art stereo system and brand new television set. Theyâ€™d cost a big chunk of his last bonus from work, yet the people sheâ€™d asked to assist her with the task of emptying out the apartment hadnâ€™t seemed impressed. The magazines sheâ€™d thrown into the recycling bin behind the building were mostly his business journals. The books on his side of the bookcase were all about money and power. Sheâ€™d seen her helpers grimacing as theyâ€™d pulled them down from the shelves. Between them, the two men who were helping to move her out of her apartment had enough wealth to buy and sell any of the partners at Jasonâ€™s investment firm, but theyâ€™d never cared about the influence and clout Jason craved most of all.
Isabel had folded away the T-shirts heâ€™d left in the drawers after taking only the newest designer versions and the jeans he rarely wore anymore since his promotion twelve weeks ago. They reminded her of the Jason sheâ€™d fallen in love with, a Jason whose dreams were still to be fulfilled. Now that he was realising them, he was a different man. Not cold, exactly, but distant. His affections were kept for material things now. Even the woman, sheâ€™d heard, was-
No, she wouldnâ€™t think about the other woman.
She thought instead of the man sheâ€™d loved-ever since that first day theyâ€™d met on the campus of their shared college, their dreams still written large on their faces. Theyâ€™d dated and had quickly become serious, spending most of their time together in Jasonâ€™s bachelor pad that heâ€™d shared with three other roommates, and later in Isabelâ€™s more private apartment. The bed her helpers had already dismantled used to be her and Jasonâ€™s favourite discussion board. Theyâ€™d spent so much of their time together in bed that it had almost been a default location. It was something heâ€™d later thrown back at her.
"All you think about is sex!" Heâ€™d told her. "Itâ€™s unnatural-particularly in a woman."