The CEO

By: Shealy James

Prologue





“Eve!” His voice boomed through the house as if he were the Great and Powerful Oz. “Eve. Where are you?” I could hear the anger oozing from him but felt nothing. No fear. No regret. No satisfaction. I was completely numb. Once upon a time, the yelling would have frightened me. I would have cowered in response to the threat in his tone. But now, there was nothing.

His stomping up the stairs preceded the bedroom door flying open. My husband found me there in our bedroom, packing my suitcase with clothes that had recently become too loose on my once pudgy body.

“What in the hell do you think you’re doing?”

I didn’t bother answering him. It was clear what I was doing. Besides, interacting with him would only make this worse. I didn’t even have to look up to know his shirt was wrinkled, his hair was a mess, and his blue eyes were clearer because his cheeks were flushed from the amount of alcohol he consumed. This was all too familiar to me now.

“What the fuck is this?” I still didn’t turn, but I did wonder what he was referring to this time. It could have been anything.

“Eve, what the fuck is this?” He moved around the room as he spoke, and now I could see he was waving a stack of papers around. Ah, the papers were delivered.

“You think you’re divorcing me? You will lose everything if you divorce me. I will find the best lawyer in town, and he will bury your family’s senile attorney in seconds. I hope you don’t think you’re getting the house, Eve. I built this place. It’s mine. You want to leave? Fine. You’re a stupid bitch, anyway. I found girls ten times better than you, and none of them just lie there like you do.”

He thought he was insulting me, but I had heard it all before. I didn’t really even register his words, because I was numb to his voice now. Instead of responding, I zipped up my suitcase and dropped it to the floor. I could get the rest later, or not. Who cared?

Two steps from the door, he grabbed me from behind and pulled me against his much larger body. His arms wrapped tightly around my waist, and still I felt nothing. “Evie, don’t go.” He only called me Evie when he was trying to be sweet these days. He called me the nickname my family had given me as long as I had known him, but for the past couple of years, it had just been Eve, harsh and to the point.

“I love you. I know things are bad, but we can fix it. We can go to counseling. I could talk to you if we went to see a counselor.”

I still didn’t acknowledge him, didn’t move, didn’t flinch.

“Please, Evie,” he begged, then placed a gentle kiss on my neck. “Please.”

When he realized I still wasn’t responding, he let me go and began his rant over again. “Fuck off, Eve. Good luck in court. You’re going to waste thousands of dollars to get rid of me? I’m going to make your life hell.”

I almost laughed.

Too late.





Chapter 1





“You can do this,” I told myself in the mirror. This morning my brown eyes appeared big and bright, and I complimented myself on my makeup application, light and natural with the exception of my red lips. Somehow, putting on my red lips made me feel complete, and I needed that extra something since I realized just how much I had stopped caring about my looks before. Now I cared and dressed to impress. My grandmother used to always tell me that when she felt down, she only followed one piece of advice—Elizabeth Taylor said to pour a drink, put on some lipstick, and pull it together. My grandmother probably wanted an excuse to drink. I was only going for the lipstick at eight in the morning. To each her own, I guess.

Dressed in my black pencil skirt, a green silk blouse, and my favorite Mary Jane heels, I was ready for my first day on the job. I didn’t know why I thought I could do this event-planning job when I didn’t even plan my own wedding, but there I was. It was a far cry from teaching middle school, which may have been the sole reason I accepted it. My purpose for being there was to change everything about my life, and the job and location were the first step.

I drove the twelve minutes to work because I didn’t want to be lost, sweaty, or late on my first day. It was a warm and sunny day, reminiscent of a pleasant spring day in the south. I had been sure to find an apartment close enough if I ever wanted to walk to work, but I knew that Seattle weather was unpredictable. I could walk to work in a half-hour or so as long as it wasn’t raining, but clear days are supposedly few and far between. I would find out soon enough.

When I parked and checked my makeup and hair one final time, I found I was still fifteen minutes early for my first day. Being early was the only thing that kept my nerves in check. Starting over wasn’t easy. Last year I was trying to poke my head above water, now I was alone in a new city on the opposite side of the country, still trying to finalize my divorce. Divorced. Not single, divorced. Divorced! Well…almost divorced. Separated was really no better. It was the month before I went back to school last year that I filed for divorce. Now, a mere ten months later, I was finally getting my life back together—as together as I could, anyway, when one’s husband was chronically making life as difficult as possible. I was getting away from the darkness and hopefully moving toward some light. Step one was to remove myself from the situation.

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