If Peter thought that forgiveness, or anything like it, would ever be on the table of reconciliation between them, he was wrong. Fucking wrong. The word Asshole! wasn’t descriptive enough to embody the feeling that came spitting out of her mouth during the mediation session. Like tiny venomous toads, the words leaped from her lips. Peter didn’t deserve a pardon; it was her time to get even. The hard way. The way that made a person wonder what the hell he had been thinking and wishing that he could just go back in time and say no when it had been so easy to say yes.
Nobody would ever describe Liv as the victim type. Liv understood that the world was governed by a set of unwritten rules, and she knew how to play by them, within reason and when it suited her means to an end. Liv always passed Go and she always collected her $200. If her opponent had a hotel on Boardwalk, Liv would always land exactly one square past Go on her own Mediterranean Avenue (Sorry, sucka!). Liv knew how to bend her luck and she knew how to stay out of jail.
Anybody who was remotely acquainted with Liv would say that Liv was a sore loser. Liv took no prisoners, and she had big feet for kicking ass. What one might describe as mercurial, Liv preferred the use of assertive or confident to describe her personality. If people didn’t like her brand of kick-ass, that was on them. Not on Liv. People needed to buck up and be less sensitive.
Liv knew that at every place of employment or at every party, there was “a Peter.” Liv had met Peter at the company’s Christmas party. He was married to Lisa at the time. What made it all the more shameful was that Lisa was seven months pregnant. Some people just don’t know how to play by the rules, Liv thought. It’s on them.
But later, when Liv married Peter, Liv became a different person. She was no wimpy wife who attended holiday parties at her husband’s workplace in a garish Christmas sweater, not even trying to hide her whale of a uterus. Instead, Liv was the CEO who handed out the holiday bonuses with the firm handshake she was known for and the one who directed the caterers to open another case of champagne. Liv was in charge. And she liked it that way.
After their wedding day, Peter’s confusion over Liv’s sudden coldness turned into resentment and, eventually, apathy. Liv had warned him and there had been no gray or fuzzy associated with how Liv felt about the same thing happening to her as what had happened to Lisa. When Peter decided that it was time to “do a Peter” (as Liv liked to call it) again, Liv knew it was time to take action. Not just a mincing baby step – the kind like all the self-help gurus claim to be the secret to making a tiny tweak in order to have a successful life. No, tiny tweaks weren’t in Liv’s living lexicon. Liv took big, gallumping giant steps that were meant to intimidate and to conquer. To win. At any cost.
So, why was everyone surprised when they heard that Liv only took one day away from her duties at the company to see to the details of her husband’s funeral and to grieve? What a shame it was, really. So young. And so good looking. Don’t you remember how good-looking he was? He could have been on the cover of GQ. Not to be mean, but Liv isn’t all that good looking under all of that make-up and designer clothing. She actually has kind of a horsey face, don’t you think? Good luck on finding someone else who is as good looking as Peter was. Wasn’t he married to that really pretty girl who used to work as the night cleaner until they got married?
Liv didn’t care. Liv did what she had to do to take care of Liv. If someone else couldn’t see this and understand this, it was their problem. Not Liv’s. Liv knew that it wouldn’t take her long to resume some semblance of marital status. After all, her trust fund disbursements depended on her being married, and she wasn’t going to abdicate her inheritance just for a naked ring finger on her left hand.
Liv knew how to do this. She knew how to pick and how to glean. She only had nine months to fulfill the stipulations in the trust. Nine months – how long it takes to grow a baby inside a human. Nine months was plenty of time. The holiday party was only three months away and Liv suspected that Benoit in accounting was suffering marital distress. She only had to look up at him during a meeting and feign tears of grief over her loss of Peter to see the concern in his eyes. Yes, that’s right, Benoit. I am a damsel in distress. Save me and save my trust fund.
Liv decided that she was going to suggest (insist) that all employees not bring their significant others to the holiday party. She would use the excuse that it was vital that the company act like its own family. She knew that this would produce a gagging gesture from the majority of the employees, but she knew that some of them wanted to believe that they were part of something bigger than just a greedy corporation that pollutes rivers and chugs smog into the atmosphere. Let them come up with their own suspicions. Liv was above them all anyway.
Liv looked up. There was a man in an ill-fitting suit swinging open the door to her office while saying to Liv’s admin assistant, “This’ll only take a minute, Toots.” Liv jumped up, sending her chair bouncing into the wall behind her. She demanded what the hell he was doing in her office unannounced, when he flashed a gold badge at her. Liv sat back down, nearly missing her chair. The detective told her that this wasn’t going to take long and he beckoned to two uniformed officers in the waiting area. He rattled off her rights, produced a pair of handcuffs, and asked Liv to turn around, telling her, “Liv Adams, you are under arrest for the murder of Peter Long.”
Liv looked at the detective and she felt the cool fall breeze coming in through the open windows of her fourteenth-floor office. She thought she could smell burning leaves mixed in with the exhaust from the traffic below. Liv had always hated that her office was, in reality, on the thirteenth floor. The builders simply didn’t have the cojones to call it for what it was. Bad luck could be turned into good luck if you had what it takes to get it done. And Liv had always had what it took.
Liv walked to her window and opened it wider. She looked down at the traffic below, the cars inching along in the early morning rush hour traffic and inhaled the tang of the crisp air. She heard the detective ordering her to get away from the window and the squeak of rubber soles on the blond oak floor from the officers. Liv looked back at her office, so tastefully appointed with all the iconic features that her designer had assured her would scream Money! to potential clients.
Liv ignored the detective. Liv lived by her own rules. She acted accordingly.