To my subscribers who are getting double posts today, sorry! I needed to find a way to share the first scene of Intertwined for my FB launch party, and I couldn’t retain the formatting when I tried to post it directly to FB.)
Tammy pulled into her garage and stared at the entrance door to her home with a heavy sigh. Most likely, her husband Brody was asleep. Or zoned out watching television.
Completely oblivious to their rapidly decaying marriage.
She paused to read the verse taped to her dashboard:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy…it is not easily angered . . .”
A similar verse was tacked to the door leading into the house, and another one stuck to her bathroom mirror.
They weren’t helping. Nothing was. No matter how hard she tried, how fervently she prayed.
With a heavy heart, she glanced back at her two sleeping kids. Tylan’s chest rose and fell, his small lips slightly ajar. Beside him, Becky’s strawberry-blonde head leaned against the window, her bangs splayed across her forehead. Such precious little angels.
She reached back and squeezed her daughter’s knee. “Hey, sweet girl, we’re home.”
Becky stirred before opening droopy eyes. Strawberry blonde hair muffed, she glanced around, yawned, then got out, shuffling forward in a semi-alert state.
Tammy moved to the rear passenger side of the car to retrieve her sleeping son. The buzz of cicadas filled the thick Missouri air, ushering forth memories of lazy summer evenings. Back when she and Brody were still in love. Was it too late to rekindle their romance? To begin again?
As if to answer, the door to the kitchen creaked open, and Brody appeared.
“Hey, Dad.” Becky stopped in front of him as if waiting for a response.
“Hey.” Brody stepped aside to let her pass.
No, How was your day or hello hug? When had he become so cold, so uncaring? Swallowing past an unsettled stomach, Tammy offered him what she hoped to be a welcoming smile. “Hi.”
He nodded, stepping into the garage and continuing to the car. “I’ve got Tylan.”
She studied his face. The normal edge was replaced by dull eyes and a slackened mouth. “Rough day?”
He held her gaze for a moment, causing the knot in her gut to twist tighter. “We’ll talk later.”
Nothing good ever followed those words, but whatever it was, they’d get through it.
Her pulse quickened as she followed her husband, carrying a sleeping Tylan, down the hall and into his bedroom. Crossing the room in three long strides, he laid the child on his comforter, decorated with the Royals’ logo. He stirred, and his eyes fluttered open, before closing once again. A slight smile emerged as he rolled on his side.
Tammy unfolded a quilt on the foot of his bed and spread it over him, tucking the edge around his shoulder. She brushed a kiss against his temple. “Good night, sweet boy.”
Behind her, Brody’s footsteps receded.
She exited Tylan’s room and paused in the dimly lit hall to brace herself against an impeding argument. Brody’s words replayed through her brain. “We’ll talk later.”
Whatever he had to say, she would respond with love.
The floorboards creaked as she continued down the hall. She popped her head into Becky’s room to say goodnight before entering the dark living room. Brody sat with his back to her, in his favorite chair—one she and the kids bought him several Christmases ago.
Not wanting to see her husband’s loveless eyes, she kept the lights off.
She sank into the corner of the couch across from him, drawing up her knees and hugging them. Brody stared at his hands, twisted his wedding ring. Silence stretched between them.
She broke it first. “I’m sorry I’m late. Did you get my message?”
He raised his head, nodded.
“Look, if you’re mad about—”
Her breath caught. “What?”
He inhaled then let it out slowly. “I’m sorry. This isn’t working.”
“What do you mean it’s not working? Marriage isn’t a vacuum or blender you toss out when there’s a glitch. Listen, I know things have been . . .”
“Dead. Our marriage is dead, Tammy.”
She closed her eyes and massaged her forehead. “So let’s fix it. With God’s help—” Lord, give me strength.
“I’m in love with someone else. We’re getting a place.”
Tammy froze, bile seeping up her throat as a sharp pain seared her heart.
“I’m sorry.” His eyes softened. “I never meant for this to happen.”
“You’re sorry?” Hot blood coursed through her, turning her stomach. “You’re sorry? Don’t give me that garbage. You’re sorry for spilling soda or forgetting to pick up the clothes at the dry cleaners, not for . . .not for . . . How could you?”
He stood and raised his hand. “Calm down.”
“Don’t you dare.” The verse taped on her steering wheel flashed through her mind with little effect. “After twelve years! Twelve years of dirty underwear and socks thrown on the floor. Twelve years of packing your lunch, going to your work parties, wiping your whiskers out of the bathroom sink.” Tears pricked her eyes as she struggled to control her breathing. Lifting her chin, she leveled her gaze at her husband. “Think about what you’re doing. For the kids’ sake.”
“Mom? Dad?” Becky’s voice quivered as her big, blue eyes looked from one parent to the other.
“Oh, baby.” Tammy’s torso caved inward, a dull ache stabbing at her throat. How could Brody do this? “Everything’s okay.” Her voice shook. “Go back to bed. I’ll be there in a minute.”
Standing, she waited until Becky’s footfalls had faded then turned to her, her legs threatening to give way. “Don’t, Brody. Don’t throw it all away.”
He exhaled and shook his head. “It’s over, Tammy.”
Used by Permission. Intertwined: A Novel, by Jennifer Slattery (New Hope Publishers, Birmingham, AL) NewHopeDigital.com.