Read 31 Days of Winter Online

Authors: C. J. Fallowfield

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Erotica, #Humorous, #Mystery, #Romantic Erotica

31 Days of Winter (2 page)

‘You wouldn’t understand.’

‘O, so suddenly it’s my fault again?’ I fixed him
with a glare and he flinched.

‘That’s not what I’m saying, I …’ he went silent
as the bedroom door opened and the two women came out. One look at their
clothes told me he hadn’t just picked up two women, he’d paid for prostitutes,
cheap ones at that. I suddenly felt physically sick and needed out of here. I marched
to the spare bedroom, fuming.

‘You’d better pay them Zac, while I get out of the
way. They need to be gone by the time I get out or I won’t be held responsible
for my actions.’ I slammed the door behind me and opened the wardrobe and
pulled out my overnight suitcase. No way was I staying here tonight, the way I
was feeling right now … I wasn’t sure I
ever
wanted to stay here again.
I flopped down on the spare bed and picked up the phone and rang my best friend
Brooke.

‘Hey babe, what’s up? Captain Crank reached gale
force ten already?’ she laughed as she answered.

‘Not sure about him, but I’m at violent storm
level eleven.’

‘Shit, that’s some serious blow. What’s he done
now?’

‘Not him, Zac. I came home early to plan a nice
birthday weekend, to try and reconnect you know, and I found him fucking two
prostitutes in our bed.’

‘O God, babe,’ she sighed. ‘Pack a bag and get
your arse over here right now. I’ll go make up the spare room.’

‘You sure I won’t be in your way?’

‘Nah, I’ll tell Steve he can come over another
time. He fucks me too often as it is, I need a break or I’ll need surgery on my
dislocated arthritic hips. Get over here and I’ll have a bottle of Grigio on
ice for us and we can talk. Love you, babe.’

‘You too, Brooke. I reckon it will be about six by
the time I’ve packed up and headed over.’

‘No problem, see you soon,’ she breezed. I sighed
as I put the phone down. Getting out of here and seeing Brooke would do me a
world of good. We’d met in a casino where we’d both worked while I was at Uni
and had hit it off straight away, she was a straight talker, no bullshit and I
loved that. You never asked Brooke if your arse looked fat in your new jeans as
she’d tell you that it did. I opened the bedroom door, case in hand and stepped
into the lounge to find Zac slumped on the sofa. He leapt to his feet as I came
out and looked panicked when he saw my case.

‘What are you doing?’

‘Packing and getting out of here.’

‘For how long?’

‘Until I’ve processed how I’m feeling and decided
if I want to come back.’

‘El, I’m so sorry, I really mean it,’ he groaned.

‘Don’t make excuses Zac, you’re a grown man. If
you didn’t mean it, you wouldn’t have done it.’

‘I was confused.’

‘Is this the first time?’ I asked, not really sure
if I wanted to hear the answer. His face went ashen and he reached around and
rubbed the back of his neck, his nervous tell.

‘No,’ he whispered.

‘How long?’

‘Is this going to help?’

‘I don’t know Zac, I’ve never come home to find my
fiancé in bed with two prostitutes before. I seriously don’t think that you can
make things any worse than they already are. So how long have you been seeing
other women or paying for sex?’

‘About a year,’ he sighed and I reached out and
palmed the wall as I rocked unsteadily on my feet.

‘You’ve been fucking other women while we were
still …’ I stalled as my mouth went dry.

‘I always used protection,’ he offered with a
shrug.

‘O, then all’s forgiven!’

‘Really?’ his face lit up.

‘Christ, five years in and you still don’t
recognise full on sarcasm from me?’

‘Five years is a long time, don’t throw it all
away.’

‘You’re telling
me
not to throw it all
away? You’ve got a bloody nerve. Was I really that bad in bed?’

‘Christ no, our sex life was amazing El, but I’ve
been under so much pressure I didn’t want to taint you with my shit and as it
dwindled … when we stopped having sex I needed a release.’

‘You withdrew Zac, I tried and you kept rejecting
me. Do you have any idea how that felt?’ I looked at him confused. I was
feeling really let down and hurt. ‘So I gave you some space hoping you’d let me
back in when you were ready and all this time you’ve been screwing other
women?’

‘Honey, I …’

‘Don’t you dare fucking “Honey” me again,’ I
hissed and put my palm out in a stop gesture as he stepped towards me. ‘Five
years Zac,
five years
and you shut me out and cheat on me. I deserved
more than that, I deserved your honesty.’

‘We can work this out El, I’ll be honest now, ask
me anything and I won’t lie. I feel better already that it’s out in the open
and I promise I won’t cheat again.’

‘I’m so happy that
you
feel better now Zac,
well guess what? I don’t. You’ve had your time of moping and leaving me in the
dark while you tried to deal, well now it’s my turn to shut you out.’ I stormed
off to our bedroom and shuddered as I looked at the messed up sheets. I opened
the wardrobe and threw some casual clothes into my case and rummaged in the
en-suite for my toiletries and felt him standing behind me.

‘Don’t do this Ellie, we need to talk.’

‘No Zac,
you
need to talk, you want to
alleviate your guilt and try and make yourself feel better for being a shit. Right
now
I
don’t need that. I want out of here. Go offload on your friends.’

‘But we have the whole weekend to try and work
this out. It’s my birthday for God’s sake.’

‘O thanks, a whole weekend, such generosity. I
can’t believe that you just set me a time limit on working this out,’ I laughed
as I turned to look at him. ‘You know I went and got myself prettied up for
you, got some sexy underwear and an outfit and I was going to really try
tomorrow for your birthday, because I was starting to think I was the one with
the problem. I’m such a fool.’ I pushed past him and zipped up my case.

‘Please don’t go El, I
need
you.’

‘You should have thought of that before you
cheated on me, Zac. Well now you can have an amazing weekend, invite a whole
hoard of prostitutes over and have an orgy. Maybe the more of them you fuck,
the better you’ll feel about yourself,’ I hissed. He grabbed me by the
shoulders, spun me around to face him and I gasped as I finally looked him in
the eyes. His pupils were
so
dilated and suddenly my brain kicked into
gear, it wasn’t flour on the island worktop, it was coke. ‘O my God, you’re
doing drugs as well?’ I exclaimed as I shook off his hold on me. He sat down on
the edge of the bed and put his head in his hands. It was like I was living
with a stranger.

‘I’ve fucked up, I know I’ve fucked up Ellie, but
I’m going to sort myself out, I promise,’ he whined. I grabbed my case and ran
for the front door, picking up my iPad and handbag on the way, and raced out pressing
the button for the lift. I started slamming it with my palm repeatedly, as if
that would make it come quicker.

‘Come on, come on,’ I begged it and saw Zac appear
out of the corner of my eye.

‘El, don’t go,
I need you
,’ he pleaded as I
heard the lift ping as it settled in behind the steel door in front of me.

‘Zac, for the last twelve months apparently it’s
been all about you and what you need. I’m sorry this is hard for you, but right
now I need to focus on me and what
I
need. I’ll call you when I’ve calmed
down.’ I quickly stepped in and didn’t look back as the doors closed behind me.
I looked up at my reflection in the shiny stainless steel roof.
Why wasn’t I
crying? What was wrong with me?
Harry rushed forward to get the front door
for me and as I caught his eye I realised he knew. He’d known when I’d walked
through the door earlier that Zac was home and not alone. I felt so humiliated.

 

Just under an hour later I parked Maisie, my red MX-5
convertible, outside the row of Victorian semis in the street Brooke lived on.
I let out a deep breath, it was time to face the music, she was going to grill
me until I burnt to a crisp. I reached over to pick up my mobile from the
passenger foot well, where it had landed after I’d thrown it there, screaming
at it to shut up as his number appeared for the fifth time on the drive over. I
quickly turned it off, grabbed my case off the passenger seat and walked up to
Brooke’s front door. Before I had a chance to knock she opened it, grabbed my
case off me with one hand and thrust a glass of chilled wine into the other.

‘Get on the sofa and drink it while I dump your
case,’ she instructed. I nodded and headed in and threw myself into the corner
of her sofa and my shoulders slumped as I took a few large gulps of wine. Here I
was thinking my Fridays could never get worse than they already were and the
universe had just proved me wrong.

‘So what’s the shit’s excuse?’ demanded Brooke as
she walked back in and topped up my glass.

‘That he was under pressure at work, lost a load
of money and couldn’t share that with me.’

‘How much money did he lose?’

‘No idea,’ I shrugged. ‘He trades in millions
every day, so for him to be so screwed up over it I guess it’s the sort of sums
that people break your kneecaps over losing.’

‘I’ll break his bloody kneecaps if I see him, in
fact I’ll happily detach his balls. Was the sex a one off?’

‘No,’ I sighed. ‘He says it’s been going on for
over a year and it’s not just affairs, he’s been paying prostitutes, and that’s
not the worst of it.’

‘It gets worse?’ her eyes widened as she looked at
me.

‘He’s doing cocaine as well.’

‘O shit, babe,’ she groaned as she flashed a
sympathetic look my way and then frowned. ‘Hang on, he’s losing money yet he
goes out and scores expensive drugs and orders hookers? That’s going to cost a
shit load.’

‘I don’t really think the finances of it are the
issue,’ I laughed.

‘What’s wrong with you?’ she asked, arching an
eyebrow as she looked at me suspiciously.

‘What’s wrong with me?! My life bloody
sucks
,
that’s what’s wrong with me. I’m in a job that’s unfulfilling, my boss is a
cantankerous old git, my fiancé and I haven’t had sex in nearly a year and he
tells me he’s in trouble at work and has got himself a coke and hooker habit. So
life isn’t exactly peachy with a side of keen Brooke, so forgive me for not
twirling on a mountain top singing “The Hills are alive with the Sound of
Music,”’ I retorted.

‘Isn’t it peachy with a side of cream?’

‘No, though that does kind of make more sense.
It’s definitely with a side of keen. Anyway, fruit sayings aside, I’m saying my
life sucks.
Again.
And you’re asking me what’s wrong?’

‘Well I know all that, I mean you’re not acting
like normal. Every time you have a major argument with him, you turned up here
sobbing your heart out and then when you’d got it all out you’d rant. You’re
relatively calm.’

‘I know,’ I sighed. ‘I feel … I feel …’ I stopped
and picked up my wine glass again.

‘You feel what?’

‘Relieved,’ I whispered as I admitted it to
myself.

‘Relieved?’ Brooke asked. I was surprised to read
from her face that she wasn’t overly shocked or disappointed at my revelation.

‘I’ve known something was wrong for months Brooke,
I’ve torn myself up trying to work out where we were going wrong. Now that it’s
all come to a head I feel like a weight’s been lifted off my shoulders.’

‘Do you still love him?’

‘Honestly?’ I took a deep breath as I pondered the
question. ‘I’m not sure, and that’s nothing to do with today, I’ve been feeling
that way for quite a while.’

‘Then I’ll tell you, you’ve been out of love with
Zac for longer than this has been going on.’

‘What?’ I looked her at, surprised.

‘I’ve seen it from the start babe, you were in
love with the
idea
of him from the start, and who wouldn’t be? He’s good
looking, fit, not short on the cash, he made you laugh, and you needed to laugh
after that disaster of a relationship with Matt. He was your rebound guy, but
you mistook your initial lust and the playboy lifestyle for love and got
serious too quickly and got stuck in a rut. He’s not the guy for you.’

‘My rebound guy?’ I repeated, testing out the
theory in my head.

‘Yes, the one who was supposed to cheer you up,
show you a good time, spoil you and give you some mind blowing sex. He was
supposed to mend you, put you back together for your HEA guy.’

‘He was my rebound guy,’ I nodded as I said it out
loud again, just to make sure. Brooke was right, I started my fling with Zac
because he was fun and I’d desperately needed that at the time. At twenty-eight,
well twenty-nine tomorrow, he was three years older than me, he drove a Porsche,
flashed his cash and spoilt me with flowers and jewellery. For a girl straight
out of Uni, with a broken heart, he’d swept me off my feet, shown me another
life and I’d fallen for it. ‘Shit, am I that shallow that I fell in love with
his money?’ I exclaimed, feeling disgusted with myself.

‘No, he just made you feel good about yourself and
you needed that right then. The trouble was you should’ve moved on when you
were better and you didn’t. I think you fell in love with his promises of a
cosy family life in the country, but come on, Zac’s a city boy at heart. The
parties, the socialising, the showing off, all part of his M.O. He was never
going to be the type to pack all that up, leave the city and settle down in a
thatched chocolate box type cottage and raise rug rats with you. That’s
your
dream.’

‘But he told me he wanted that too, Brooke. I mean
we’ve been saving for three years towards the wedding and cottage.’

‘Babe,’ she sighed with a shake of her head. ‘When
will you get it into your head that you’re a catch? You’re stunningly
beautiful, with a figure a model would kill for, hell I’d kill for it. Your
tits are perfect, and on top of all that you have an amazing heart and a seriously
caring and nurturing side, you’re wife and mother material all over. Of course
he’d say whatever you wanted to hear to keep you. You look attractive on his
arm and you’re intelligent and funny, what’s not to love? He’d have agreed to
anything not to lose you, but I think he’d have made excuses and stalled the
move, hoping you’d give up on the idea and stay with him and his bachelor
lifestyle in the city.’

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