Read 31 Days of Winter Online

Authors: C. J. Fallowfield

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

31 Days of Winter (4 page)

Day Three

Ellie

Brooke rang Zac for me and
told him that I wanted to meet him for Sunday lunch to talk, and suggested
somewhere we used to eat at a lot over in Kensington, near my office, and he
fell for it. We parked around the corner from his apartment and waited until we
saw his Porsche roar out of the underground car park and Brooke made me giggle
as she set the timer on her watch.

‘What so funny?’ she protested.

‘You, I’m waiting for you to pull out balaclavas,
cat suits and a swag bag. It’s not like we’re going in to rob a bank. I live
there, or rather I lived there.’

‘Well I know that, but the whole point of making
him think you were meeting him, was to get him out of the way so you could pack
your stuff and avoid a confrontation. I reckon given London traffic we’ve got
half an hour for him to get there, half an hour back and a max half hour before
he realises we’ve played him. So you’ve less than an hour and a half. Let’s
move it.’

I felt sick as I put the key in the lock and the
visual of him fucking the rear of the 69 played out in my mind. Brooke snapped
me out of it with a shove to the shoulder and we stepped inside. The kitchen
island was littered with empty bottles and yet more traces of coke. I tried not
to imagine the scenario of him getting drunk and drugged up, alone in a world
of hurt, or of him having a load of prostitutes around and partying to get out
his frustrations, neither were filling me with joy. I didn’t even hate him
right now, that was what was so odd, I felt kind of sorry for him. Yes he’d
been an arsehole, but what world had I been living in to be so oblivious that
he was drowning? I got my large case out of the spare room and Brooke and I
went to work packing up all of my jewellery, the rest of my toiletries and
perfume. She’d brought her case with her as well, luckily I’d still got the
rack on the back of my car to take a second case or we wouldn’t have been
fleeing with much given the size of my boot. We didn’t have anywhere near
enough room for all of my clothes, shoes and handbags, and picking which things
I was going to have to leave behind from my treasured collection was more
painful than when I’d walked out of here on Friday afternoon.

‘How many other cases do you have?’ Brooke asked
as she sat on the one while I zipped it up.

‘Zac has a huge one, a medium like mine and a
small overnight one, but none of them will fit in the car Brooke, and we won’t
have time to go to yours and come back.’

‘How about we fill them with the rest of your
stuff and ask Mike downstairs to look after them? If you leave me your car
while you’re away I can come and get them without Zac knowing.’

‘You wouldn’t mind?’

‘Would I mind having Maisie for a month? Hell no.’
A wide smile played across her face, she couldn’t afford to run her own car and
loved it when I let her drive Maisie.

‘Fine, but we need to know if Mike’s in and if
he’s prepared to do it first.’

‘O he’ll do it, he’s always had the hots for you,
babe. I’ll go and ask and play up the “hurt girlfriend’s too distraught to come
and ask you, or to face Zac again.” Trust me, it’s a done deal.’ She left me to
grab the spare cases and start packing those and I gasped as I opened the one
and found a stash of coke in cellophane. It was more than a few snorts, this
was serious days’ worth of binge stocks. I heard the new ring tone for Zac
blasting out in the lounge so I picked it up and took a deep breath.

‘Zac.’

‘El, I’m getting worried. You’re ten minutes late
and you don’t do late.’

‘Sorry, traffic was terrible and I’m having
trouble parking, should be there in about another ten,’ I lied with a cringe. I
didn’t do lies as a general rule, but I really didn’t want to see him.

‘I’m so glad you want to meet, I’ve been in hell
since you walked out.’

‘What have you been doing?’ I asked, to see if
he’d lie back to me.

‘Just sitting at home waiting for you to call.’

‘No wild parties or more drugs then?’

‘No. The drugs were a slip, it’s not like I’ve got
a problem, El.’ Lie one.

‘So you can stay off them for good?’

‘Yes.’

‘You haven’t kept any for future use?’

‘No, of course not,’ he uttered. Lie two.

‘And the prostitutes?’

‘I’ve been stupid El, it won’t happen again.’

‘How did you pay for them all? The prostitutes and
drugs?’ I knew I didn’t imagine the hesitation in his response.

‘My own salary.’

‘You haven’t touched our savings have you?’

‘How could you ask me that?’ he uttered
indignantly. I closed my eyes and shook my head, that was as good as lie three.
Three strikes and you’re out Zac Foster
, I thought. ‘El, are you still
there?’

‘Yes,’ I sighed.

‘Can you just park up and come and meet me, I want
to talk in person not over the phone and I promise I’m going to be completely honest
from here on out, no more lies.’

‘No more lies from what point, Zac?’

‘I’ve been honest from the moment you caught me on
Friday honey, promise.’

‘If you hadn’t just lied again Zac, I might have
been willing to meet you and talk. I was feeling sorry for you, like I’d been a
shit girlfriend not to imagine the pain you were going through, but you’ve just
blown it,’ I hissed down the phone. ‘I’m at ours right now, there’s coke all
over the worktops, I found your stash in your suitcase, and you’ve emptied our
joint savings account.’ I heard him gasp and the sound of a chair scraping on
the floor.

‘You tricked me?’ he yelled down the phone.

‘Don’t even think about getting mad with me,’ I
yelled back. ‘You’ve been tricking me for a long time. I bet you’ve been
laughing, stupid Ellie has no idea what’s going on behind her back, well you
just made my mind up for me, Zac. We’re done. Most of my stuff is already gone,
I’ll have someone come and get all of my books and seeing as how you owe me
£15K from our savings account you’re not getting the engagement ring back, I’ll
sell it to help me set myself up somewhere new.’

‘Don’t you dare fucking walk away,’ he spat. ‘I’m
coming back
right
now, you have no idea what’s been going on in my life.
I’m not losing you, too.’

‘You lost me the minute you shut me out and
started cheating and lying Zac, it’s just neither of us realised it. Goodbye.’
I cut him off with shaking hands and went back to the bedroom and sat on the
dressing table stool, backed up my data to iCloud, put my phone on the floor
and stamped on it until it shattered.
Damn that felt good.

‘What are you doing?’ exclaimed Brooke as she came
back in.

‘We don’t have time, he’s going to be on his way
back.’

‘Shit, you crumbled and told him didn’t you?’ she
groaned. ‘I knew I couldn’t trust you to leave you alone. Right, we have less
than half an hour then, Mike’s on his way up to take the cases so if you don’t
want to see him go in the bathroom, I’ll handle it. Anything else to pack from
here?’ I looked around the bedroom, my side of the wardrobe was empty, the
drawers on the dresser were hanging out and empty, same with the bedside table.
I shook my head. ‘Move it quick,’ she hissed.

I ran into our en-suite and shut the door and
heard her wheeling the cases out and the mumbling of voices. I almost laughed
when I realised I was sitting on the toilet, habit I guess, I never sat down in
here unless it was on the loo. I pulled Zac’s stash of coke from my back pocket
and sprinkled it down the toilet and flushed it, then took one last look around
the room, at the sink I brushed my teeth at every day with my whitening
toothpaste, the mirror I used to do my makeup in, the shower I used every
morning and where Zac and I had often had morning sex, before it all went pear
shaped. He’d probably had sex in there with other women, I needed to forget
sentimentality, he’d soon forgotten all of that when he started cheating on me.
I looked up as the door opened.

‘Sorted?’

‘Yes, we need to get going, he’ll be here soon.’

‘Thanks,’ I smiled, weakly. I suddenly felt
drained, the pent up emotions of everything that had happened were pushing at
my outer defences, and I wasn’t sure how long I could hold them back.

‘You don’t have time for that now, come on, we’ll
get chocolate and ice cream and you can cry as much as you want later.’ She
held out her hand and hauled me up. We grabbed the two remaining cases with my
essentials from the hall and I took one last look at the large modern open plan
room. I was leaving a huge portion of my life behind, I’d chosen the art work
and all of the soft furnishing and accessories that turned his Bachelor pad
into our home. I was leaving behind my massive collection of books, some of
which were first editions. I was the cook in the relationship and I’d got so
many gadgets that I used on a daily basis that I was just leaving behind. I
took a deep breath, suddenly feeling a small portion of what people must feel
when their belongings were taken out by fire or flood. I took the key off my
key ring and left it on the island, walked out to join Brooke in the hall, and
closed the door. She was holding the lift door open for me and gave me a
reassuring smile as I stepped in and she pressed for the lobby. I tucked into
the corner and allowed myself to let out a few tears as I looked down at the
perforated steel tiled floor as it started its descent, then shuddered and
opened.

‘Ellie, nice to see you,’ came a voice and I
groaned inwardly. It was Alec, one of Zac’s friends from his office, who lived
a couple of floors down. It was banker and stockbroker central in this
building. I hoped Zac hadn’t rung him and asked him to stop me leaving. I
looked up at him with a half-smile.

‘Hi, Alec.’

‘You off on holiday?’ he asked seemingly surprised
as he looked at the cases.

‘Yeah, sort of,’ I nodded as I wiped away the
tears clinging to my lashes.

‘O shit, you found out,’ he groaned. ‘You’re
leaving.’

‘You knew all about it?’ I asked, unsure why I
sounded surprised, after all I rang my best friend the minute it went tits up,
why wouldn’t Zac confide in his friend the problems we were having?

‘Well yeah, he was hoping to have found another
job before you found out, so you’d never need to know.’

‘Found another job?’ I asked, confused.

‘Well it’s been six months since he was fired, we
figured he’d have picked himself up and got something else by now.’

‘He was fired six months ago?’ I uttered, stunned.
Brooke just shook her head and rolled her eyes.

‘Shit Ellie, I thought you knew, I mean I bumped
into him on Saturday morning in the lobby and he said you’d had an argument, I
just assumed …’ Alec visibly grimaced. ‘
Awkward
.’

‘Yeah, you could say that,’ I sighed.
Who the
hell had I been living with?
Six months unemployed and he’d been going out
every morning suited and booted with his briefcase and coming home late every
night, as was usual, telling me about how he’d made clients so happy with the
killings he’d started making on the markets as they were picking up. I suddenly
felt hollow inside.
Could I have been a bigger fool?
The lift pinged
again and opened at the lobby.

‘Sorry Ellie, see you around,’ Alec gave me a pity
smile and strode off.

‘Wow, what a tangled web our Zac has gotten
himself into,’ Brooke observed with a look of sympathy at me. I hated this, I
didn’t want to be the victim that everyone felt sorry for.

‘Then I’m actually a very lucky girl to have found
out when I did, aren’t I?’ I replied, putting on my bravest front.

‘That’s my girl,’ Brooke smiled. ‘Let’s hoof it.’

‘Afternoon, Miss Baxter.’ Harry tipped his cap at
me and I gave him a genuine smile, he’d always been so polite with me.

‘Afternoon, Harry.’ I almost wished I had time to
go and apologise for leaving without talking to him, to be able to thank him
for all the doors he’d opened, lifts he’d halted, umbrellas he’d loaned me, but
I didn’t have time if I wanted to avoid a confrontation with Zac. We hurried
across the road and up towards my car and I looked at Brooke, my eyes wide in
panic, as I heard a familiar throttled roar.

‘Shit, it’s his Porsche, isn’t it? Move faster,’
she ordered. We started running, dragging the two cases we needed behind us
over the cobbles. I looked over my shoulder and saw his car screech to a stop
outside the main entrance. We ran around the corner and I took one last look at
him running into the building before quickly opening my car.

‘We don’t have long, Harry will tell him we just
left on foot,’ I panted as we heaved the large case into the boot and slammed
it shut.

‘We don’t have time to strap in your other case.
Stick it on the front seat and go without me.’

‘Brooke!’ I looked at her surprised.

‘He’s going to know you were with me anyway, I’ll
go and run interference, but he’s likely to go to mine looking for you. Book
into a hotel somewhere, then ring me and tell me where. I’ll sort out your
stuff that you left at mine and come and meet you there, then we can get you
organised for tomorrow. Don’t argue, you have argue face.’ She wedged my second
case in the foot well and shut the door. I blew her a kiss and pulled out into
the main street. As I looked in my rear view mirror I saw Zac standing next to
his car, his hands on his hips as he looked around, when he spotted Maisie he
ran around to his driver’s side. I looked back at the road and put my foot down.
When I looked back Brooke was standing with her hands on his bonnet stopping
him from moving. ‘You’re the best, Brooke Hanson,’ I whispered as I sped off. I
remembered that the Marriot in Regents Park had parking, so I headed there and
dragged in my two cases and asked for a twin room.

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