Ten years didn’t seem like a lot; not when it came to important things. By “important,” Sadie didn’t mean school or work or even a hobby-turned-addiction. God knew she’d logged countless hours with her nose in a textbook when she was in college, and more still tapping away at the crappy laptop her boss had placed in her cubicle. Despite her husband’s comments to the contrary, knitting was not an obsession. It gave her idle hands purpose, especially when Kirk worked long hours. Better still, it sometimes brought in a few extra bucks when someone purchased something she’d lovingly crafted—money she squirreled away for a rainy day. No, those things weren’t important. Not to her. Her priority was her husband. Their marriage meant everything.
Ten years seemed like an eternity with a wife who could turn the most trivial thing into a monumental issue. Kirk had helped Sadie cheat in college because she slept instead of studying then had meltdowns about how hard and unfair it all was. She came home every day from her job with woe-is-me tales of doing the work of ten people while her lazy colleagues took credit for her efforts. As time marched on, she’d taken up the most annoying habit. What had started as a once-in-a-while hobby had become an every-free-moment fixation. If he had to listen to the click-click-click of her knitting needles for even one more moment, he’d go insane. It was hardly a marriage if they never did things together. His wife knew more about yarn than she did about him. All he wanted was an acknowledgment for his efforts. But she was oblivious to how hard he worked for them and how her careless spending put undue stress on his shoulders.
Nine years of marriage had been sublime. Marital bliss—that’s what Sadie would have called it if she’d been asked. Mornings waking up next to the man of her dreams. Days thinking about him while they were each at their respective jobs. Evenings sharing homemade meals, which she had to admit had only improved with time. (In the beginning, there hadn’t been enough help in the Hamburger Helper she’d tirelessly relied on.) Nights curled up together on the sofa until they went to bed. Falling asleep in his arms until the cycle began again the next day. It had been perfect.
Nine years into their marriage had taken a toll. Kirk had lost the ability, or maybe it was the will, to continue the charade. He was tired of waking first so she could have an extra twenty minutes of sleep. Tired of her constantly checking up on him at work. Tired of the same three meals made in rotation because she couldn’t follow a simple recipe. How hard was it to throw a couple of chicken breasts in the oven and boil some rice? He’d managed to cook for them in college while working two jobs and overloading his classes. Had she learned nothing? Before the end of that ninth year, he’d had more than enough of her selfishness and ineptitude.
Eight months into that ninth year, things began to change. Her husband got a promotion. Suddenly, he rose early then hurried to work before Sadie had even opened her eyes. He never had time for a mid-week lunch, or even a daytime phone call. His hours increased, and he seldom joined her for dinner. She’d taken to dozing on the couch just to see him come in at night, but that never resulted in quality time, either. Kirk usually claimed exhaustion then hurried to bed, curled up with his back to her. She had to settle for seeing him in her dreams, but the good ones began occurring with less frequency.
Eight months into their ninth year, Kirk made a change—no, a decision. Anna, a long-time colleague with a long-term crush on him, made yet another indecent proposal. For the first time ever, he didn’t say no. Thus began an epic affair, a romance that would make Nora Roberts fans swoon. It was easy to get up even earlier than he was used to when he had something—someone—to look forward to. Avoiding Sadie’s calls made his days more pleasant, and evenings with Anna were a balm for his soul. Unlike his wife, she understood him. Unlike his wife, she eased his worries instead of adding to them.
Seven days a week her husband worked, and his routine only got worse. Most people put in long hours until they learned their new job, then they cut back. Not Kirk. As weeks turned into months, he spent less time at home. When Sadie told him how much she missed him, he’d yell, “I don’t know what you want from me!” then storm off. She’d collapse on the floor in tears and speak to an empty room. “I just want you.”
Seven days a week, Kirk carved out time to be with Anna. She lived an hour from his house, so he never worried about getting caught. Sadie began questioning his work schedule, but her suspicion didn’t scare him, either—it drove him further away. His continued and escalating absences only made her more shrill and more desperate when he went home. “When are you going to mow the lawn and wash my car?” Kirk bit his tongue to keep from telling her she’d soon need to do those things herself, the realization that he was thinking about breaking his marriage vows a surprise to him. Then again, hadn’t he been breaking them for a while now?
Six months ago, her husband started traveling for work, sometimes leaving for weeks at a time. Sadie’s complaints brought nothing but scathing—and unfair—retorts. “It’s not like your baby blankets pay our bills.” As though she didn’t have an eight-to-five job, too. The knitting was only to pass the hours because she was lonely. She could have filled the shelves of their local Walmart with all the blankets she’d made since his promotion.
Six months ago, Kirk used his travel schedule as a cover so he could move in with Anna. It was temporary, a trial run, to see if they could make a go of it, and things were going beautifully. Meanwhile, Sadie was so wrapped up in being “neglected” that she couldn’t have had time to miss him like she claimed. From what Kirk could tell, she spent every free minute crying to anyone who would listen about how hard her life was with him away so often. She was consumed with playing the martyr and couldn’t conceive of a situation where she was wrong. Her drama had driven him away, and he was glad to be free of it—so glad, he was ready to make things official.
Five days ago, Kirk told Sadie they needed to talk. “I’m in love with someone else.” The betrayal cut deeper than any knife ever could. Even as her heart shattered, she begged him to stay. But he walked out the door.
Five days ago, Kirk told Sadie they needed to talk. “I’m in love with someone else.” She called him every name in the book then threw him out of the house. But she must have realized she was losing her meal ticket because she ran after him and begged him to stay. He finally felt free and walked out the door.
Four days of desperate begging and constant pleading with him did nothing but strengthen his resolve. She didn’t know how to live without him. Nor did she want to. But his mind was made up.
Four days of desperate begging and constant pleading with him did nothing but strengthen his resolve. Guilt began to niggle at him, but he didn’t acknowledge it because didn’t know how to live without Anna. Nor did he want to. Had he left Sadie years ago, the drama would be long-over by now.
Three days scouring records of every call, text, and email yielded no results. Sadie still had no idea who had stolen her husband. How could she fight an enemy she couldn’t identify?
Three days of bliss ensued—the happiest he’d had in a decade. Kirk ignored all of Sadie’s attempts to contact him and spent a long weekend at the beach with Anna. His stress washed away with the tide.
Two become one—that was their vow. How could Sadie live without him?
Two women in his life, and they couldn’t be more different. Why had he waited so long to make this much-needed change?
One gun, one bullet… one squeeze of the trigger to ease her pain.
One visit from the police, one last selfish act… one lifetime of guilt that would haunt him forever.