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Have I always known in the back of my mind that I am second choice? Lots of people have first loves that they never really get over, but how could I have grasped the degree of his obsession with Olivia? What kind of woman am I if I knowingly married a man that didn’t love me? He is a thief. He stole my life; he stole hers. Goddamn, why am I even thinking about her life?

My first clear thought is that I want to make him pay. I flash to an irrational thought, where I picture myself hogtying Olivia and dumping her in the Everglades for the gators to deal with. Of course I would never do that — I would hire someone to do it for me. I file through all of the other emotional bombs I can drop on him. I have told so many lies that I have an entire buffet of shadiness to choose from. I pluck out the worst one and rub my chin on my shoulder. This one will hurt him, probably deeper than anything that I could do or say about Olivia. Ready … set …

“Estella isn’t yours.”


Hate is such a prodigious feeling. It’s hot and oppressive like fire. It starts by burning through your God-given reason until there is nothing left of it but a mound of ash. It moves on to your humanity next, hot tongues flicking across the few remaining threads of innocence until they melt into each other and morph into something ugly. Then, in the rubble of what you were, hate plants a seed of bitterness. The seed grows to a vine and the vine chokes what it touches. That’s where I am; the vine wrapped so tightly around my neck I can barely breathe. One hand is on that vine, the other is pressed against my chest to keep everything from falling out.

He told me he loved me. He was supposed to protect me from hurt, not inflict it in the cruelest of ways. He betrayed me. I’m dying. I’m dead. Why am I still breathing? God, I don’t know how to make the hurt stop.

I still have backbone. I’ve been crippled in other ways, but I still have a backbone. His arms were warm. Now, the only warmth I feel is from the blood still pounding through my veins. That’s how I know I’m alive. I’ve faked orgasms. I’ve faked smiles. I’ve faked happiness. Caleb faked amnesia and then he faked an entire relationship. I took a hammer to his shins for it. He thought Olivia could hurt him, I’ll hurt him worse. I’ll keep hurting him. And if he goes after her again, I’ll rise up and do everything in my power to keep them apart. Some people never change. I guess I’m one of them.