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Ariel was pacing back and forth in the living room as she waited for Joe to come. It had been a long while since the separation and he was coming by today to discuss the divorce. Ironically, he was their divorce attorney, partially because they couldn’t afford anybody else and partially because he was already her lawyer ever since they were married.
She looked at the clock and realized, as usual, he was late. Even at a time like this he had the audacity to be late, she thought. This only confirmed her own thoughts of divorce. Snapping her fingers nervously, Ariel thought of what was about to happen. They agreed that they would compromise and work everything out together even if they weren’t speaking to each other. It had been 6 weeks since they last seen one another and Ariel kept reminding herself not to break a sweat when she saw him.
The door rang, and Ariel almost tripped on her pace. Her nerves instantly charged and her heart pounded like a jack hammer. She shook her head once before opening the door and tried to calm herself when she saw him. That failed fast.
“Hi,” he said at the front door. “Can I come in?”
Joe looked extremely good. 6 weeks ago, she would have said that he looked about normal, but this wasn’t 6 weeks ago. This was 6 weeks after and that small part of her that still longed for his touch, has now exploded in her body and was seeping into her bloodstream. Like a venom, her need for him latched on as she welcomed him in.
Closing the door behind him now, Ariel reminded herself to relax. If he made any sudden move now, she could have ravaged him, so it was important her to keep calm. He took a seat at the dining room table, where he normally sat when he came home, and began to empty his briefcase.
“Sorry I’m late,” he apologized, like a broken record. “Had a lot of work to do.”
Typical, she thought. Grabbing a chair next to him, she sat quietly, letting him spread the paperwork out on the table. There were a lot of documents that seemed foreign to her. Luckily, Joe had highlighted specific parts and tabbed the places that where important so Ariel wouldn’t get lost.
Joe wasn’t nervous at all, as he began to explain the predicament. It was as if he was conducting any other presentation. He made sure to explain what needed to be signed, how their property was to be divided and what the the pre-nup meant for her. By the time Joe was done explaining everything, Ariel had become overwhelmed with the technicalities. When he was done, he pointed to the tabbed areas and pushed the papers toward Ariel to sign.
“You can read the rest. Sign your name and print the date as stated,” he concluded with a sigh as he went back to his laptop.
It almost scared her to think this is even their own divorce. With a nervous breathe, Ariel closed her eyes and sighed her name on a single document. Before she made another signature, she made sure to catch Joe’s eyes to see how it all effected him.
Not surprisingly, he seemed a little preoccupied. Ariel could sense the tension in his body language but he remained calm in his demeanor. When he turned to check on how she was doing, Ariel resumed signing the next line.
“Do you have questions?” he asked, as he looked her worriedly.
She shook her head, hoping she didn’t look uneasy. “I’m okay.”
Joe resumed his busy work and waited for her to finish up signing the rest of the papers so he could go home. He didn’t even realize how late it was until he was done with answering some questions on the online registry. Midnight had already passed and Ariel had fallen asleep on the table while reading the rest of the documents.
He brushed away the stray hairs that laid on her face with a finger and noticed the softness of her cheek. He smiled as he tucked the hairs behind her ear, reveling in her peacefulness. Not that he needed reminding but, she still made his tummy fill up with butterflies. Even now, when she wasn’t doing anything, she amazed him.
The chair looked uncomfortable though. Her body was hunched over the table so she probably couldn’t feel it, but Joe knew her back was going to be sore in the morning if he didn’t do anything about it. Without waking her up, Joe lifted her arm and wrapped it around his neck as he pulled her up. She moaned a bit, but didn’t notice when Joe scooped her legs up to carry her.
Glad that she wasn’t that heavy, Joe made it all the way up the stairs and into the bedroom with ease. Gently, he placed her lightly on top of the bed, and wrapped the covers around her shoulders so she wouldn’t get cold. Just then, as he carefully looked at her, a sudden pang hit him in the stomach. He had forgotten how quietly she slept, with just a subtle snore escaping every so often.
Joe closed his eyes for a few seconds and took a deep breathe. He was tired from all this work he had to do. When he opened them, he got another look at Ariel and a deep shiver came over his body. He remembered how it felt when he would come home late at night and watch her gently sleep as she did now. Normally, he would be so tired that he’d forget the shower and just hop right into bed with her, holding her tightly and taking in her scent.
Tonight was different though. There was no way he could jump into the bed now, but there was something he could do. With a smirk, he came forward and kissed her lightly on her forehead. When that wasn’t enough for him, he kissed her closed lids, smoothing his palms on her cheek. His attention soon fell to her lips as his fingers lingered on her jawline. Luckily she hadn’t opened her eyes.
“I forgot a lot about you, didn’t I?” he whispered to her.
Everything felt dreamlike, being able to kiss her freely for the first time in 6 weeks. If it were up to him, the dream would never end. He let his lips press firmly on hers and for about a brief second, he swore she kissed him back.Sadly, he was only imagining it. There was no way- absolutely no way. If she did, there wouldn’t be any papers waiting for him downstairs.
She shuffled a bit in her sleep, causing Joe to back away hoping she hadn’t been disturbed by his affections. “Ariel? Are you awake?”
No answer, thankfully. Leaning forward Joe kissed her lightly on the cheek one last time and began to turn around. Reluctant to let her go, Joe stood still for a second and balled his hands into fists. He deserved all the pain that was coming to him, he thought. She didn’t need him, she needed someone who could take care of her in every way.
“I’m sorry for everything I’ve done to you,” he whispered lastly and made his way out the door. “Bye, sweetheart.”
When he closed the door behind him, he didn’t give a second thought to what he decided. From now on, even though they were to be divorced, he would uphold his marriage vows, till death do they part. No one will ever hurt her. She would feel no more pain as long as he had an ounce of blood piping through his veins. Even if it meant for him to be unhappy and alone, he would still be loyal to her . This was the least he could do for her now.
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