It was cold when I woke up, rubbing my eyes groggily. I looked around and spotted Seth who was wrapped in the comforter like a cocoon. I took hold of a corner and yanked hard. The end result was not me getting my half of the blanket back, it was me falling off the bed and landing on my ass. The thud must have woken him up because the next thing I saw was him, looking down at me with a smirk, holding a hand out to me. “Good morning beautiful.”
I rolled my eyes and let him pull me back up, “Don’t ‘beautiful’ me. This wouldn’t have happened if you didn’t steal all the blankets.”
He laid down with his arm around me, letting me rest my head on his chest, draping the blanket over the two of us, “Well I wouldn’t steal all the blankets if you just stayed close to me at night.”
I sighed and snuggled closer, feeling the warmth of his body, “Yeah well, I’m right `and you’re wrong. That’s how it works.”
Seth rolled over so that he was looming over me, “Is that so?” I stared up at him, a confident smirk spread across my face. “Well maybe I’ll just have to prove you wrong.” He leaned down and kissed me sweetly. At least, it started out sweetly. The kiss quickly grew fierce, stealing my breath in an all consuming passion that spread like wild fire and pulsed between us like bolts of electricity. Had it not been seven-thirty in the morning I doubt we would have stopped. But alas, it had to end and he pulledhis lips away from mine. Eyes closed, head back, I tried to get my breathing back together. My eyes eased open and I found myself looking into the eyes of the man I loved. I hadn’t told him yet, with Valentine’s Day only a day away. Two days ago, while Seth was at work, I had myself tested and discovered that I was pregnant. I was waiting for Valentine’s Day to tell him, though seeing him loom over me, smiling, telling me how much he loved me, made me want to tell him so badly it hurt. But I wanted to wait.
He sighed and sat up, running a hand through his short brown hair. “I have to go to work.”
I groaned, “I know.” I sat up and wrapped my arms around his waist from behind, “Don’t be long okay?”
He chuckled and held my hand, our fingers intertwining, “I’ll try not to.”
Later in the day, around three o’clock, the phone rang. I ran in from the kitchen, wiping my hands clean of flour on my apron as I went. “Hello?” I held the phone between my ear and my shoulder, walking back into the kitchen to put my cookies in the oven. “Dena?”
I smiled and closed the oven door, “Yes honey it’s me.”
I could hear him chuckle through the phone, “What are you making this time? I can practically smell it through the phone.”
I rolled my eyes, “I got bored so I made some cookies. White chip macadamia nut, your favorite.”
“That’s great sweetie, I can’t wait to try them. I think I might have to though.”
I stopped mid-action, jar of flour in my hand and reaching for the top shelf, “What do you mean? What’s going on?”
He sighed, “There’s a board meeting tonight, it’s mandatory that I attend.”
I placed the jar down on the counter softly and frowned, trying not to sound disappointed, “Oh, I see.”
“]I’m sorry honey. I’ll be home as soon as I can.”
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, “Okay. I’ll see you soon.” I didn’t wait for him to respond before hanging up the phone and leaning on the counter. It wasn’t the first time this had happened. In fact, he had been late coming home all week, always out with friends or staying late at work or too much traffic on the way home. I had no reason to think that he was cheating on me, we had been together for almost four years and he had always been faithful, but something in my gut told me otherwise. Though that feeling could be morning sickness, I had no idea when I had gotten knocked up just that I was now, the test hadn’t said how far along I was. I picked up the phone again and dialed a number that was indefinitely ingrained in my brain.
I held the phone to me ear and waited. One ring. Two rings. Three rings. Four ri- “Hello?”
“Cody?” My voice shook and steadied myself against the counter.
His voice sounded concerned, “Dena? What’s wrong?”
“I think…Could…Could you come over?”
“Of course sweetheart, I’ll be there in ten minutes okay?”
I nodded, “Yeah, thanks. I’ll see you when you get here.” I hung up the phone and removed my apron. Ten minutes is a long time to wait when your brain goes into overdrive. To try and keep my mind calm and turned on the radio and turned it up, even that didn’t help much. After what seemed like forever the front door opened and Cody let himself in. He found me on the couch and sat down beside me, turning down the radio.
“Dena what’s up?”
I leaned against him and let him hold me, “I think Seth is cheating on me.”
His reaction was less than I was expecting. Cody had always been very touchy on the subject of cheating. “Oh?”
I nodded, “He’s been coming home late all the time, he always goes to the bar with his friends and this is the third surprise meeting this week. I just don’t know what to do.”
Cody took my shoulders and made me look at him, “Sugar you’ve never had cause to think he was cheating before. Something else is going on.”
I sighed and looked him in the eye, “Can you keep a secret?”
He laughed and raised his eyebrows at me, “Are you seriously asking me that question? Don’t you remember how long I kept Darrell from everyone?” Darrell was his husband, they met in high school and he kept them a secret from me and everyone else until three years after graduation when they were engaged and due to be married the next summer.
I half smiled and shook my head, “Right, how could I have forgotten that?” I sighed and nodded, “Okay, this is really hard to say but…”
I didn’t have time to get it out before he guessed it, “Oh my lord you’re pregnant!”
I looked down and nodded, “Yeah. What if he is cheating? I can’t have an abortion but I can’t be a single mom, I haven’t even got a job. What am I going to do?”
He held me as I broke down. It wasn’t the first time I’d let him hold me while I cried. “Sugar, if he is cheating on you, though I doubt he is, you don’t ever have to be worried about raising a kid on your own. I’m here, and Darrell’s here, you could come live with us. We’d help you get through it.”
I sniffed and nodded, “I know. I know you would never let me go through it alone I just don’t know what to do about Seth.”
He kissed the top of my head and squeezed my shoulders, “Talk to him. If I ever saw a man that couldn’t lie to save his life it’d be Seth Samuels.”
I nodded again and wiped my eyes, “Okay, I’ll talk to him.” I sniffed the air and smelled something. Something was burning. “Oh shit!” I jumped up and ran into the kitchen. I opened the oven and was greeted with a cloud of smoke. “Oh,” I pouted, “My cookies…”
Cody laughed and handed me an oven mitt so I could pull the tray out, “It’s okay, I’ll help you make a new batch. That is,” He pulled me into a hug from behind, “If I get to try some.” I laughed and rolled my eyes.
One AM. Cody had left and I was still waiting for Seth to get home. He walked in the door and threw his keys down on the table. I walked down from my perch at the top of the stairs. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
He turned towards me and smiled, “Sorry honey. Boss wouldn’t let me get out early. A soon as the meeting ended he slammed a pile of paper work on my desk.” He pulled me close by the waist and kissed me, “You didn’t have to wait for me.”
I shrugged, “I missed you…and I made cookies.”
He chuckled, “Well I’m a little beat so I’ll try one in the morning. How about we go to bed, you must be tired too.”
I nodded. “Yeah I am. Let’s go.”
The next morning when I woke up he was gone. I expected him to be, but it was still unnerving. I went about my day as usual, despite the paranoia gnawing at my brain. By noon I had already made a batch of cookies, two trays of muffins and an upside-down cake. I bake when I’m stressed out. There was a call but as soon as I saw the number I let it go to the answering machine.
“You’ve reached Seth and Dena Samuels, leave a message. –BEEP-” There was a bit of static on the other line as Seth cleared his throat, a little distressed that I hadn’t picked up. “Hey honey, it’s me. I’m just calling to let you know I’m going to be late again. I am up to my elbows in paperwork. Don’t wait up for me, I don’t know how long I’ll be and you need your sleep. I’ll see you tomorrow. I love you.” The phone hung up and I closed my eyes. All week he had stayed late. Tomorrow was Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t sand it any longer so I grabbed the phone and called Cody, asking to borrow his car because I had run out of flour. He came over to get me and I followed him to the car, stopping in the kitchen to slip something into my purse. I dropped him off at his house, promising to have the car back by the end of the day because I had a few other stops to make.
I pulled up to Seth’s office building and waited, his day was due to end in half an hour so I walked to the closest Starbucks and bought a coffee for the wait. Right in schedule, half an hour later, Seth walked out the side door of the building and got into his sleek black convertible. I followed him, seeing where he would go. Up to his elbows in paperwork. My ass! He stopped at a flower shop and picked up a bouquet of roses, then he went to a jewelry store, far more expensive than he would ever spend on me, and came out with a thin, white, rectangular box. That was the last stop he made before heading to a huge house in the better part of town. He pulled in to the driveway and got out of the car, checking his hair in the reflective surface of the convertible. He knocked on the door. The door opened. Standing in the doorway was probably the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. He handed her the flowers and pulled her into a hug, kissing her passionately on the lips. She pulled away flirtingly and made a comment about ‘not out in public’. She then grabbed his tie and pulled him into the house.
I waited, hoping that he would leave, but the longer I waited the more I knew that he wouldn’t be leaving. Anger rose inside me, a fiery pit of fury that boiled over the edge and spilled into my consciousness. Before I knew what I was doing I was getting up out of the car and marching to the house. I threw open the door and stomped in. I heard noises from upstairs, sickening noises that made my stomach lurch and fueled my anger even more. I stormed up the stairs and threw open the bedroom door. The sight made me so sick I almost lost the coffee I’d had earlier. The room was lit with candles, all red and different sizes, placed on every flat surface they could find. Seth and the woman were on the bed, staring up at me dumbfounded.
It took a few seconds before the woman came to the fact that I had barged into her house and interrupted her and her lover. “You crazy bitch get out of my house!”
I ignored her completely and focused on Seth, his eyes bulging out of his head, darting around the room and focusing everywhere but my face. Tears stung my eyes and I said in a surprisingly, threateningly, calm voice, “How long?” He looked at my face briefly, confused, and refused to answer. “How long!”
He flinched back and cleared his throat, “Not long…a month maybe.”
“A month! That’s pretty fucking long Seth! When were you going to tell me? I’m your wife for god sakes!”
The woman got up and starting dressing herself, “He wasn’t going to tell you honey. That’s the point of cheating.”
My anger flared to life again and I lunged at her, reaching into my purse. I heard a scream, felt something warm and red run across my hand, and I pulled away, taking what was in my hand with me. The woman crumbled to the floor, silent. A red sea seeped across her chest, creeping through the fabric of her house coat, hanging limply off her body. She sputtered, blood dripping from her mouth, and then her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she died. My hand hung limply at my side, white knuckles clenched around a large knife, glistening with a ruby glow. Seth jumped up and ran to her aid but I raised my knife, “Don’t touch her!” My eyes hazed over, the only thing that was coherent in my mind was how much I hated this man, standing before me, looking wide eyed and heartbroken at the woman who had stolen him from me. I advanced on him, knife still raised and dripping with crimson fury. “You just couldn’t settle down. You couldn’t be patient with me. I loved you! I would have gone to the ends of the earth with you! Why? Why would you cheat on me?”
He grimaced and looked away, “I didn’t mean to it just happened.”
“How!” I screamed at him, jerking forwards wanting nothing more than to stab my knife straight through his chest and rip apart his rotten heart. But before I could do that I wanted –no needed– to know why.
“It just did! I was drunk, I went out with some of my co-workers; she was one of them. I bought her a couple of drinks, just to be nice, and then I woke up here the next morning. She called me up and told me she was pregnant. I was going to tell you. You couldn’t have kids and I wasn’t going to leave her to raise the kid on her own…”
I screamed and lashed out, slicing a deep cut from the right side of his forehead, over his eye, and down to the left side of his chin. “So you were going to leave me! You were ditching me, your wife for seven years, for this bitch!” I sliced down the other side of his face, making an almost identical cut crossing through the previous. “You were going to leave me to raise our child on my own so you could raise her bastard!” Seth stared up at me, terrified and confused…mostly terrified. I grinned wickedly, “You couldn’t wait one more day could you? You couldn’t be patient with me. You couldn’t be faithful long enough for me to tell you that I’m pregnant.” He crawled up the wall to a standing position and shook with fear. I had him cornered and he knew it. Tears flowed down my face and I pressed the knife to his throat, “You just had to have someone else, someone better, someone prettier.” I brought the knife away and he breathed a sigh of relief but it was replaced by a cry of pain as I plunged the knife into his chest. He gasped and looked up at me, disbelief filling his quickly diming eyes. I pushed it so far that the blade could no longer be seen. I brought my face close to his and whispered, “Happy Valentine’s Day.” I twisted the blade and felt his body jerk and twist, trying to expel the intruder to no avail. Blood soaked my clothes, pouring through the wound around the knife. I twisted once more and yanked it out sharply, rewarded with a cascading red waterfall. It wasn’t long before Seth Samuels slumped to the side and the blood stopped pumping. I stood for a long time, staring at the scene I’d made. The amazingly horrifying piece of art created only of red. I walked around the room, blowing out the candles and filling the room with smoke. I stood in front of a full length mirror set in the back of the bedroom door. I was covered in crimson and brown, over my clothes, coating my face, intertwined in my hair. The knife was still clutched in my hand, I hadn’t let go of it since my first murder. Looking down at my stomach, tears stung my eyes, pricking them and spilling over the edges on my cheeks. With one swift motion, no thought needed, the knife imbedded itself in my stomach. I didn’t feel pain, I didn’t feel fear, all that I was aware of was the uncontrollable urge to sleep. So I did. My eyes closed and I fell to the ground and let myself be pulled into a never ending unconsciousness.