Speak the truth. People will forgive an honest mistake; they won’t forgive you if you lie.
Against Nick’s advice, Ethan didn’t talk to Grace, hoping instead it would all just blow over. He could feel it wasn’t working, Grace’s demeanor just wasn’t the same as it used to be, a fact that Ethan purposely ignored.
The head-in-the-sand approach.
He just could not bring himself to take the first step. Or bear to face the consequences.
He had not seen or spoken to Blythe since her husband’s funeral, now some weeks ago. From his twin sister Esmée he knew Blythe had gone to stay with her parents at the palace in Del Sol Valley for a while.
Eli was hardly ever home now, usually out and about with his friends enjoying summer break before he’d go off to college.
Brooding over a contract, Ethan looked up and sat back in his chair when he heard the clacking of Grace’s heels on the hardwood floor, signaling she had entered his office.
It was Friday, well past the regular business hours, the rest of the staff had probably all gone off into their well-deserved weekends.
Finding Ethan still here wasn’t really unusual. As so often over the past decades Grace had stayed as well.
Most likely she came to tell him they were gonna go home now, like she always did. Pry him away from work, go home, have dinner, watch TV.
A comfortable routine.
He smiled at her, which she didn’t return, her face stiff, an envelope in her hands, which she now placed before Ethan on his desk.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“An envelope. Obviously.” Grace pointed out sharply, Ethan’s smile faded.
“I can see that, just surprised you didn’t open it like you always do.” Ethan took it, the envelope wasn’t sealed, he pulled the paper out, unfolded it, read the first lines, dropped the letter on his desk as if on fire, jumped up then looked at Grace.
“Spare us the discussion. My mind is made up. I cannot go on like this another day. Yours is only the courtesy copy for your files, the original has already been accepted by Personnel. It’s done. This is happening.” Grace sounded final.
“Go on like what, Grace? What is the meaning of this? Why are you resigning? I thought you loved your job.” Ethan was very shocked.
“Don’t play coy with me Ethan. I do not think I can continue working with you after we will split this time. On that note, I already filed for divorce, expect to be served within the next business day or so. My attorney said that it would move forward quickly due to unnecessary hardships of our situation.” Grace’s tone was cold and factual.
“What?! Divorce?! Hardships?! Grace, why didn’t you come talk to me about all this first before filing for divorce? Please don’t do this! If you are not happy, I am sure we can figure something out!” Ethan panicked.
“Me come to you?! That’s rich! I gave you a full month to come to me and tell me what you did. If you had, maybe – just maybe – I could have forgiven you, eventually. But you chose to lie to me, try to hide the truth from me and treat me like a fool. I already knew that very night you had cheated on me, even before Nick came over. Intuition, maybe. Nick’s odd behavior and your little exchange did nothing but confirm my suspicions. And yes, I ended up eavesdropping.
In my mind I gave you one month. With each day that passed it became more and more clear that you weren’t going to, that you preferred to lie to my face, again and again, and the closer we came to the end of that month the more my pain festered. It’s too late for talking now, too late for amends, I cannot live with you or work with you any longer. I cannot even bear to look at you anymore. Clearly your priorities are broken. And clearly ‘our’ friends are really ‘your’ friends above all, not mine. None of them came to talk to me either. I am the outcast and the laughing stock of all. Everyone lied to me, in their own way. That hurts. I need to distance myself from all that.” Grace looked disgusted.
“Grace, wait! Please! Let me explain.” Ethan reached out, trying to hold on to her, she pushed him away.
“No thanks! There is nothing left to be said anymore now. I no longer care about your pretty little lies, excuses, pity fests. Smoldering me into submission with those blue eyes and boyish charm or yours won’t work anymore. We are done! This time for good and completely! I thought about being professional and giving the customary two weeks notice, but you know what? Fuck professional courtesy, fuck EC Architects, and above all FUCK YOU!” she nearly spat the words at him, her volume increasing steadily.
“Grace!” Ethan couldn’t recall another time of hearing Grace use foul language, so the choice of words shocked him almost as much as the meaning of it all. He reached for her, but she shook him off instantly.
“Let go of me! Oh, and just so we are clear, this is gonna get rough for you. Last time you humiliated me like this – interestingly enough even then by cheating on me with Blythe – I still cared so much about you, I was so hurt, but I left like the lady my grandma raised me as. Back then I continued to work for you and even eventually forgave you. Not this time. This one is going to sting, this I guarantee you. The divorce will as well. You’ll remember this and me for the rest of your life. We’ll start out right away by you finding another place to live until I moved out of our house whenever the heck I am ready to, as a heads up, I won’t be in much of a rush. YOUR friends Ezzy and Nick have several rooms free now with two of their kids moved out of their mansion. Or maybe you can go straight back to Blythe. Or maybe you can dig a hole next to Amy’s grave and sleep with her, since you are still so hung up on her too. You have proven that you are not above screwing mourning, sedated and drunk women, what’s doing it with a pile of bones and dust, right? It’s called ‘boning’ for a reason.” her voice was no longer her own, hateful and cold.
“Grace, enough!” Ethan’s exclamation was more a pained yelp.
“Oh, I am sorry, did that hurt? Was that distasteful? Well, then you finally know how that feels. Welcome to my world! I have been your doormat for long enough. My turn now! At long last!”
She stormed out and Ethan felt like his head was exploding while he was falling into an abyss.
-to be continued-