I Do(n't)(9)

By: Leddy Harper


“That’s not what your marriage license says.”

The laughter died from my tone, and all I could do was stand and blink rapidly at Larry. I knew it was a bonus to capture the element of surprise on camera, but this was borderline ridiculous. “That has to be a mistake—maybe it’s someone else named Janelle Brewer. I’m sure I can’t be the only one with that name. I think I would know if I was married.”

“Well, when we spoke to your husband, he verified the validity of it.”

“My husband?” My voice didn’t even sound like mine. It came out too high pitched and squeaky.

“Yes, your husband.” He then pointed a small remote over my shoulder, all the while grinning obnoxiously. Out of nowhere, a recording played throughout the room. At the first sound of his voice, I grew lost in it, adrift in the deep waves I used to drown in. The same voice that used to comfort me.

The same voice I’d grown to loathe over the years, aware of the heartbreak it could cause.

“This is Holden York.”

“Mr. York, we just need to verify a few details. We have it that you married Janelle Brewer in July of twenty-twelve in Las Vegas, Nevada. Is that correct?”

A rush of air hit the recording seconds before he said, “Yes, that’s correct.”

“And since then, has the marriage been annulled or dissolved in any way?”

“No. We’re still married.”

More of the recording played around me, but I couldn’t listen to it. Emotions I couldn’t comprehend slammed into me. Anger shook within my chest, while pain and fear knotted in my belly. I knew what he was capable of. And I knew I couldn’t go through it again.

My heart fell to the pit of my stomach, and then the floor opened beneath me. I dropped to my knees in some dramatic, slow-motion stumble, perfect for TV had this not contained the crushing blow of real life. I just sat there, staring off into the distance, desperately trying to absorb the information Larry had just dumped in my lap.

Five years ago…

Vegas…

Holden York…

I didn’t even remember giving him my virginity, but apparently, I’d given him more than that.

And this whole time, he knew.

He knew, and he never told me.

There was only one thing left for me to do…get divorced.





2





Janelle





I shook my arms and took a few deep breaths while I fought to compose myself. I couldn’t believe after all these years I’d find myself standing in front of Holden’s house, the same one he’d bought after graduating from college.

As I stood there, I could almost remember it all like it was yesterday. How we’d gone from being close friends and familiar with one another to ultimate strangers. At the time, I had no idea how to fix it, and now, five years later, I didn’t even know how to talk to him.

I’d rung the bell when I first stepped up to the door, but he hadn’t answered yet, and I started to wonder if he was even home since I’d been waiting for so long. Then again, with all the adrenaline running through me, it could’ve only been five seconds, even though it felt more like five years. Rather than ring the bell again, I knocked—probably a little too impatiently based on the way Holden yanked the door open.

Whatever word he’d readied himself to say fell to the wayside, replaced by widened eyes and a gaping mouth. The same shock he wore on his expression, I felt in my chest, and we both stood there, staring at the other, no words spoken between us.

Even though he’d continued to be Matt’s best friend through the years, I hadn’t seen him much. In fact, it’d been at least three years since we’d been in the same room together—could’ve easily been four. Once upon a time, we used to see each other often, and our conversations were effortless. All that vanished after one senseless night in Vegas—the same night I not only had sex for the first time, but also got married, all without a single recollection of either instance. As if we’d never met before, the man standing in front of me was a stranger. Not only did he feel different, but he looked different as well.

Holden had forever been good looking. Tall and in shape with abs I could trace with my fingertips, longish dark hair that always seemed mussed no matter what style he wore it in, and the most unusual shade of green eyes I’d ever seen—upon close inspection, they appeared to be more of a mixture between slate and hazel, but from a distance, they were a rare, forest green. His skin tone fluctuated depending on the time of year—tan during the summer, and the color of coffee with a lot of milk in the winter, creamy almost.

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