Chapter One

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Another depressing night of Alice just rolling over and going to sleep. He was sure the candlelit dinner and Chianti would change her mind and she’d show him the affection she had been neglecting for the past eight months. They had actually have a conversation that consisted of more than 4 words. She was funny, witty, intelligent, sexy, the woman he fell in love with 15 years ago. It wasn’t her fault though– she got promoted to Junior Partner at Webster, Jameson and Taylor almost a year ago, doubling her pay and almost tripling her workload. At first, he tried to be understanding: he cooked dinner, he ran baths, rubbed her feet until she was sound asleep. But his efforts were one-sided: Alice had all but forgotten about her husband’s needs and wants. It had now been 212 days since they had made love.

Andrew stood in the doorway and watched Alice snore lightly. He wanted to wake her, like he used to, in the middle of the night with kisses that would turn her into putty in his hands. He considered it until he thought of the argument that would ensue if he awakened her and she had to be up with the sun. He turned and waded down the stairs and was out the house, in his running shoes. He jogged down the stairs and down into the street, the wind whipping all around him. It was midnight and the suburb was quiet: his feet and his quickened breath breaking its silence. Running had become a hobby, since he had an excess of energy to burn off. It was one of the only times he could forget about his domestic situation. He rounded the corner to the right, jogging by the large Catholic steeple on the left, looking more sinister at night without the sunshine. He ran, his legs pumping harder and harder as he approached the apex of the hill. Past the intersection, the residential neighborhood progressed to commercial: small business lining the Now widening street. The local grocer, Alfred’s was the mile marker, except this time, he don’t start the trek back home. He turned again and continued his run. He had only been down this street in his car: the first half of the block was occupied by a large building lined with construction signs. As he ran past it and it’s dopplegangers, he made it halfway into the street. He never even saw the car.

The first thing Andrew felt was pain. A sharp, stinging pain on his forehead, it forced his eyes open. “Oh Jesus, thank God”, he heard a voice say. As his vision adjusted to the bright light hovering over him, the woman’s form cleared up. She was beautiful: bright, almond eyes, plump lips, and reddish brown freckles covered her face . Her hair was pulled into a bun but some of it had escaped in curly fly aways framing her face. Hey, hey, Mister, are you okay? Andrew looked around and he was deducted that he was in an art studio, since there were canvasses and paint cans all over. A paint splattered tarp was next to him and the mystery woman. You have paint on your face he said, turning back to her. She touched her cheek and laughed before helping him sit up. Occupational hazard she said, looking him over. Where are we? What happened? he asked, touching his head and wincing at the pain. We’re in my studio on Grand. I didn’t see you as I was backing out and well, you ran right behind me.
Why didn’t you call an ambulance? I could have a concussion….
Well, frankly, I don’t have insurance so I thought, after you woke up, I could politely convince you not to call the police, she said, flashing a grin. She has a small gap in between her two front teeth. Andrew attempted to stand and the woman stood up quickly to steady him. I will happily Pay any and all medical bills you acquire, she said, looking at him again. He could tell she was genuinely nervous. Don’t worry about it, he said.
I’m sorry. My name’s Desi she said. Andrew ,he said, extending his hand. She shook it and flushed. I’m sorry. I feel really… Stupid. Can I take you somewhere? Anywhere you wanna go, she said, pulling her keys from the pocket of her paint splattered overalls. Andrew considered it, but walking home wasn’t an option. I actually don’t live far. Just over the hill, he said.

The pickup rumbled down the street, breaking the 2 am silence. He wondered how long he was unconscious. He lifted the ice pack from his forehead slightly, before readjusting. Desi glanced over at him. I’m really sorry, again.
It’s fine. I shouldn’t have been running in the dark he said, attempting to share blame. He was wearing all black. Desi glanced down at his hand, at the gold band adorning his ring finger specifically. Your wife must be worried sick, she said, inquiring. Andrew looked down at his hand and rolled his ring with his thumb. She may just still be asleep, he said, knowing Alice hasn’t stirred. At least you have someone to take care of you, Desi said. She heard him scoff lightly. Yeah,he said, not sounding reassuring. The truck rumbled to a stop in front of the white colonial, matching most of the houses on the block. Well,thanks for the ride, Andrew said, reaching for the door. Wait! Desi said, startling him slightly. She reached down in her pocket and produced a bandage. She reached over and moved his hand (her hands were so soft, Andrew thought). She leaned over him and he could smell her skin as she put the bandage on, like warm oatmeal. She sat back and smiled at him. He gave her a small smile before getting out of the car and going inside. He heard the truck rumble away as he climbed the stairs to his bedroom. Alice was still asleep in their bed, unaware that her husband wasn’t there. He slipped into their master bathroom, shut the door and flipped in the light. He looked like hell, the right side of his jacket ripped from where he connected with the ground. He turned on the shower and began removing his jacket. His arm had a few minor scrapes down to his elbow. He tossed his jacket on the counter and he caught another whiff of her. He closed his eyes and pictured her face and her small frame slipping from her overalls.

He ran out most of the hot water as he masturbated violently at the thought of those paint covered freckles.

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