Michaella walked into her apartment, expecting to prepare for an anniversary surprise night for her husband. What she wasn’t expecting was to hear a woman’s voice coming from her bedroom. She hadn’t expected to hear them laughing and talking about how he was using her. It was the last straw though, and she wouldn’t take any more from him. Michaella would get out of this marriage and make changes to her life.
He was known as Thumper to his friends. He worked when he wanted to, knowing he really didn’t need the money. Thumper lived in a quiet little town keeping mostly to himself. Usually uncomfortable around women who wanted just a physical relationship, he felt an immediate connection to the woman he bumped into. When he found out she needed a friend, he was there for her. When she needed protecting, he was there too.
Michaella never imagined how her life could be turned upside down with a cheating husband and divorce. She also never imagined how it could be straightened with the right man.
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Letting herself into her apartment, Michaella set her suitcase down and laid her keys on the entry table. It had been a long three weeks, and the last three days had been extremely extensive. Putting in long hours didn't bother her, she wasn't afraid of working, like her husband seemed to be. She wanted to finish up the current contract as soon as was humanly possible so she could get home early to set up an anniversary surprise for her husband. They would be celebrating their fourth in a few days and she wanted to make it one to remember.
Working away from home had become her norm over the last year or year and a half. She was getting tired of it, but this was her job and she had become very, very good at what she did as a consultant for her company. The company, Severs Consulting, had grown exponentially after she joined it. As a development consultant, Michaella went to her clients' companies and evaluated their processes to see where improvements could be made to make them more efficient and cut costs, but not always cutting personnel. Most companies didn't want to eliminate personnel, since most of the companies were family oriented.
She loved the freedom of being out at the client's locations, viewing their operations, meeting their people and getting to know the internal workings of their companies. Michaella had started as an intern, working as a requirement for one of her business classes; they saw some new potential in her and offered her a full-time position working in a new department they had just decided to start. Michaella was intrigued, accepted and started as soon as she had graduated. It hadn't taken long for her to move up the ladder in that consulting department to become the senior manager, finding new clients, working to create a team of amazing consultants that had grown from two to fifteen. Now she was the vice president of the division and her future with them could only get better.
Michaella had called Eric several days ago, to tell him that she wouldn't be home until Saturday so he wouldn't know something was up, and make the surprise even better. She was planning a special dinner then they would spend the rest of the night in bed, bath and more.
She had been pleased when he said he had an interview today and it looked really promising and he would soon be working again. Not trying to be a hard ass because he hadn't worked in almost three years, Michaella had come across a position which could be just what he might be looking for if the current interview didn't pan out. It seems like she was always carrying him. First in college and shortly after they had gotten married. He always seemed to stay positive and was always looking, interviewing and starting some new position, but couldn't seem to choose the right job, having bad luck or something would happen and he would be laid off. Michaella worked hard in college to keep them both in the black; it wasn't easy with his spending habits. Eric had continuously told her he would pay her back, make it up to her, just waiting until that special job came along to make him a bread winner. It just wasn't in his nature, she had decided. He like to be taken care of. She had been doing it so long, it had become like he was a child not a partner.
Well, they would talk this through after her surprise and get back to where they had been when they first met; have him being more considerate of her and be that attentive person she knew he could be. Her being away all the time didn't help, but that too was about to change.
She was so caught up in her own thoughts she almost didn't hear the laughing going on in the apartment, in their bedroom to be specific. She stopped in her tracks and listened to the voices. It was Eric, no doubt there, the other voice was familiar too. It was the laugh which gave her away. Gloria. Her friend from the spa where they were both members. She was more than stunned at this.
Keeping very quiet, Michaella moved through the apartment to the door which was ajar. They were sprawled out on the king-sized bed, laughing and crooning about her. She listened to them talk about her, how they were pulling the wool over her eyes. Gloria asked when Eric was going to get a divorce, so they could be together all the time and stop sneaking around. Eric said something about not doing to that, because this way he as always available to her. Michaella took a moment, quick as it was to assess her situation. She listened for several minutes longer, getting more reviled than ever at their boldness and his infidelity.
Carefully, she backtracked to the door, quietly picked up her suitcase, her keys and walked inaudibly toward the back of the apartment to the office. Noticing how the apartment looked, they hadn't been doing much but ordering in and having sex in her bed. Too disgusted, she moved farther into her home. She didn't have to worry about Eric coming back here to find her. As far as she knew, he had never been back there. She walked to the office door and eased it open, went in and closed the door just as silently.
Sitting down at the desk, Michaella began to think about what she had overheard. Eric had clearly stated to Gloria how he had duped his workaholic wife. She was so wrapped up in her own work, she had no idea how he was living the high life off of her. Could he really be so callous?
Michaella, thought back to all the times he claimed to be looking for work. She played right in to his game. Now, over the years, through college and their marriage, she realized he had always been using her. She helped with his classes, often times providing him with finished homework, gave him spending money and even a place to live. They had been together since their junior year in college, got engaged in senior year and married after she took her full-time position. She was making all of the money, paying their rent and car payments, their utilities and living expenses. He had never really contributed to their lifestyle, never offered to contribute to it even.
Michaella had been gullible long enough, she would not take it anymore. Eric would see what she as really capable of.
At her desk, Michaella turned her computer on and set to work at getting her cheating husband out of her life. Since she paid all of the bills, she knew exactly where to begin: in the wallet where it would hurt him the most. He hadn't paid his own credit cards, car payment or even car insurance for as long as they had been married, so it made it easy for her to access to all of the accounts she needed.
First was to figure out exactly how much he had actually spent while claiming to be looking for work. She brought up the statements from his two credit cards, downloading the expense statements for the last five years. She quickly reviewed the items over the last six months and mentally kicked herself for being too busy with work to look at the details, but just paying the account balances each month.
Hearing the laughter enter the hall then move to the door, she heard them leave. Once they were gone, she got up and went to the bedroom and looked around. What a pigsty! Her husband and her ex friend were nothing less that pigs. Michaella gathered some clothing items from her dresser and closet, chose the few jewelry pieces which meant the most to her and took them to the spare bedroom. Thankfully, this room had been untouched by them, so they wouldn't even know she was there.
The laundry room was also in the back of the apartment and she knew Eric had never stepped foot in there. They had a cleaning service which came in once a week to tidy up and keep the place livable since he was incapable of even minor cleaning. She didn't know how long they would be gone, but since it was mid-afternoon, she figured they had gone out for a meal. Michaella sorted her few under garments from her suit case and put them through the delicate cycle on the wash machine. It was only a twenty-minute cycle, so she would have time to get them out and hang them to dry.
Next, she went to the kitchen to gather items to eat, which she could keep in the office. Michaella wasn't surprised to see the mess also in the kitchen. She felt sorry for the service when they came in. Maybe it was the first place to start, cancel the service. She knew she could live without them, but truly he couldn't. There wasn't much left to eat in the refrigerator, so she left it for them. Going through the cupboards, she found her stash of granola bars, some nuts and dried fruits. Healthy food wasn't something he would ever touch. Gloria may come off as a health nut, but obviously, she wouldn't consider eating health food bars. There were also two new boxes of cereal she had gotten the last time she was home. Again, not his thing. All the better for her. Michaella took a bowl out of the cupboard along with her other finds to the office. She knew she would have to slip out to get better food items; lucky for her there was a back door to the apartment. Something Eric probably forgot about, since it too was in the laundry room.
She would start with a list of things she would need to do to get out of the situation she had found herself in. As she sat and thought, she was doubting herself. Michaella had about six weeks of vacation coming plus some sick time she had built up. She could easily take some time off. She didn't have to worry about her position, that was solid. She had a comfortable amount of money in the bank, so again no worry about her financial standing.
The next thing would be where to go, until she remembered the house her grandmother had willed to her. Michaella had never told Eric about it, so she would have a quiet place to recharge after getting rid of him. She had made arrangements long ago with her grandmother's lawyer to have the place looked after; keeping the yard clean, the house interior cleaned occasionally. She added the law office to her list to contact in the morning.
With that plan in place, it was time to work on getting out of her marriage. Michaella placed a called to her lawyer, Lauren, to lay out what she had just discovered. Her advice was to get what evidence for infidelity that she could. There was also the fact that she had a prenup to back her up. Her college roommate, her lawyer, hadn't liked Eric and insisted on the prenup. She offered it to Eric to sign. He did so without taking the time to read it or taken it to a lawyer of his own, so he had no idea what was in it; that was a huge advantage Lauren planned on using.
Lauren had not wanted to say, I told you so to her friend, so she offered her heart felt apologies that it hadn't worked out like Michaella had thought it would. She would help her friend though it in any way possible, so that two timing jerk didn't get anything more from Michaella.
They strategized on getting some physical evidence like recordings and video to lay the groundwork for to their infidelity claim. Getting someone in to set up the cameras might be hard, until Michaella remembered the cleaning crew. She quickly pulled up the schedule and saw they would be in the next day. Lauren would get her investigator to come in with the cleaners to set up cams in the bedroom, living room and kitchen. They would make sure Michaella had her things out of the way so she wouldn't be taped too.
Michaella explained about the spare room and office, how she had set her things in there to remain undetected, and Eric hadn't been in that part of the apartment. Lauren asked if the cleaning service would stay clear of those rooms? Michaella thought briefly, and decided if Lauren's investigator was with them possibly he could divert them from those rooms.
Next, they decided about the apartment itself. It was in both of their names, Eric's and Michaella's. Since it was still rented and the lease was up soon, Lauren suggested to Michaella that she go to the management company about redoing it, taking her name off. They could feasibly get her out of it, if the rest of the lease is payed off. Eric couldn't handle the rent alone without a job and Michaella wasn't sure of Gloria's living arrangements. Michaella sent off an email to her management contact to set up an appointment.
They talked about a few more things before agreeing to meet the next day to get the legalities of the divorce in place. Lauren would go over the prenup again to make sure it would hold up in court. Lauren asked Michaella if Eric had his copy of it. Michaella didn't know but doubted it. Saying their good-byes until the next day, Michaella tapped her phone off.
Not realizing she had been on the phone so long, Michaella heard the front door open. The wash machine was done so the apartment was quiet. She waited to hear them talking, but didn't hear anything until the front door opened and closed again and was locked from the outside. Apparently, they were going to her place for the night. Apparently, Eric did know the cleaners' schedule Michaella breathed a sigh of relief. She also noticed he hadn't activated the security system. Come to think of it, it wasn't activated when she entered hours ago. It wasn't very smart of him to forget and the possibility of a break-in. Soon, she too wouldn't care!
Michaella worked for several hours before deciding to take a break. She had already sent an email to her boss on requesting some time off. She didn't believe for one minute he would turn her down since she had the largest billable accounts in the company. Then she picked up her phone to call her husband, figuring she might as well get it over with. She had originally told him that she would be home this weekend. She had extended her travels so much in the past, he wouldn't think anything of it.
He picked up on the third ring, "Hello."
"Eric, it's me Michaella." She paused briefly, "How are you, I miss you." She lied through her teeth, realizing she hadn't missed him in a very long time, which was telling.
"I'm fine. What's up?" Michaella could hear the impatience in his voice.
"How was your interview today? Did it go well? Do you think you will get a shot at the job?"
The line was very quiet, Michaella wasn't completely sure he was still there.
"It went fine, but I won't know anything until next week, since they said they have more interviews scheduled." She realized he was good at lying since he had been screwing Gloria at the time he had told her the interview was.
"It sounds promising though?" She really hated this, pretending to be interested in his lying, cheating life. But she had to make it sound like she wasn't aware of his deceit.
"Well, we will have to see in a few days. So, when will you be home?" Again, the impatience came through in his voice. She wondered why he seemed upset that she had called to interrupt his night.
"Ah, well, things have turned out worse here than I had originally thought. It looks like I will be here awhile longer. I am sorry I won't be home for our anniversary. I was looking forward to it." She lied again.
He didn't say anything for several moments, "Oh, okay, I'm sorry to hear that, I had made plans." His tone didn't say that he was sorry or that his plans with her had been disrupted.
"Plans, you made plans for our anniversary? What kind of plans?" Michaella could really care less, but again trying to make it sound good.
"Um," he started, "Um, well, I made reservations at the new restaurant on eighth street." There was another uncomfortably long pause. "I thought perhaps, I could book a night in a hotel too?"
Sure, she thought, and I would have to pay for it. "I'm flattered, and I am really sorry." Not! "I have to go; I'll call when I know when I'll be coming home. Have a nice evening."
He hung up without a goodbye or any words of affection. Michaella really wasn't surprised. Sitting there in the silent apartment, she started to really think about their relationship and when it had really started to decline. Had he ever loved her? Had she ever really loved him?
She realized then she really hadn't loved him. He came off as such a charming man in college, always needing her for things which seemed so small then. First, just little things like his missing homework. They turned into larger matters like needing assistance with assigned papers. Eric would wine and dine her, bringing flowers or gifts, then plead with her to help him out. Everything escalated from there to books or a phone bill, or rent or a tuition payment. There were always parties which seemed more important than school work.
Eric popped the question with a cheesy ring at the end of their junior year. They got married after their senior year. Lauren was there, with the prenup before Eric could say no to signing it and filed it the same day. Lauren had been Michaella's friend from the moment she set foot on campus. They had the same backgrounds, most of the same likes, and where more like sisters.
Excerpted from "The Rescue"
Copyright © 2017 Eleanor Jane.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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