I slip out of the cab with my eyes on my iPhone, texting
and emailing as I walk into my apartment building. My
high heels click on the pavement as the doorman greets me
by name, tipping his hat to me. I don’t acknowledge him.
My modeling clients demand most of my time.
Today, however, I had my assistant clear a two hour block
on my schedule, so I can surprise my husband, Jake, at
I push the elevator button without lifting my eyes.
The door slides open and I step in, vaguely aware of
another body standing in the back. The third floor button
lights up after I push it with my manicured finger.
Sliding my phone into my purse, I unlock the door
to my apartment. There is a bottle of scotch on the coffee
table beside three empty glasses. He must have had a client.
He often has meetings at home before his photography
The walls of my apartment are graced with large,
black and white photo prints of breathtaking landscapes and
angelic faces of models, all taken by my husband.
I toss my purse onto my black, leather couch, then
kick my shoes off. That is when I hear it.
The sound of a female giggle floats down the hall
from my bedroom.
Something hard forms in my stomach, cold like a
snowball running downhill. It grows larger and larger with
every step down the hall to the closed door. I hold my
breath as I step, straining to catch the sound again. Maybe
it was the television, or the radio.
My ears perk. A woman is moaning.
Plush, white carpet tickles my toes as I step silently,
reaching the door. I lean in, putting my ear on the door.
A female voice, mingled with a male’s touches my
ears. A third male voice joins them. What the hell is going
on? My blood is rushing, as I pull my ear away from the
door. I know that I need to open it, but what is on the other
side is terrifying me.
I take in a gulp of air in an attempt to calm myself.
My hand trembles as I grip the doorknob.
The snowball that formed in my stomach is now a
heavy rock, making me nauseated as I push the door open.
Three heads pop up in my bed, eyes wide and faces
growing ever paler, as they look on me standing in the
doorway of my bedroom.
“For fuck’s sake, are you kidding me?” I call out.
As I turn to rush out, my husband scrambles out of
the middle of the trio, agile for his forty-two years, leaping
over them and off the bed.
As I rush down the hall, tears leak from my eyes.
Pausing, I snatch up my purse with shaking hands, and step
into my shoes, as a lump forms in my throat, choking me.
“Ashley, wait… baby…” he calls to me.
Spinning, I am greeted by a stark naked Jake. When
he reaches for me, I slap him. The sound of my palm hitting
his flesh is loud in the room. A red palm print blooms on
his cheek; he doesn’t blink.
“Don’t baby me! In my bed, are you serious? What
the fuck, Jake? Having a twenty-five year old wife isn’t
enough for you?”
He blinks at me for a second. I hear shuffling
coming from my bedroom, hushed whispers.
“You’re not ever home in the afternoon…” he
“Oh, pardon me. Next time I will be sure to check
your schedule for orgies before I come home to see you. Is
this why you won’t touch me?”
I dash my tears away with angry hands, pulling
away when he tries to touch me again. I don’t even know
why I’m asking; I don’t care anymore. I should’ve expected
this. Today was my last effort to do something with the
disaster that has become my marriage; sleeping alone,
always wondering where he is. I buried myself in my work
as a distraction. This morning, I decided I should try.
Maybe I’m not giving him enough attention.
This is what I get for trying.
“I didn’t mean it like that. I’m sorry. I think we
need to talk. Can you let me get rid of them?”
I look into his face, unsure of what I expect to see
there. He is seventeen years older than me. I’ve spent the
last four years of my life with him. This man made my
modeling career a success and helped me when I wanted to
give it up to become an agent. Now, I stand eye to eye with
him and I see no love in his eyes. No panic that he has lost
me. Just the same cold, black stare coming from deep,
brown eyes that I always see.
He looks at me like I am his sister or his friend. He
has that super handsome distinguished thing going on.
Think about those older men that only get better with age.
Sean Connery, Brad Pitt, Richard Gere. You could slide
Jake Riverside’s name right into that list and no one would
argue with you.
“There is nothing to talk about.”
He opens his mouth to say something, and I see a
blonde head pop out of my room. I recognize her. A new
modeling client my boss, Michael, signed last week. She is
twenty years old with the fresh face of an angel and body of
a porn star. Looking terrified, she slips past me in jeans and
a tight-fitting, pink sweater, headed for the front door.
I let her go without a word. What’s the point?
I have more to say to the second body that pops out
of my room, however. Michael. He stands in the hallway
still buttoning his shirt, his eyes darting between Jake and
“You’re fucking kidding me!” I yell, shoving Jake
with all my weight.
He stumbles backwards a few steps, but catches
himself before he falls.
“Ashley, it just happened. We didn’t mean to…”
The head of my agency. He owns the damn thing.
My boss. The man that made me one of the most successful
fashion agents in New York City.
“You didn’t mean to what? Have a threesome with
my husband in my bed? Ruin my marriage? What the fuck
did you mean, Michael?”
I want to throw up. I want to break something or hit
them both. I clench and unclench my fists at my sides. So
much anger boils hotter and hotter inside me. My breath is
coming in short pants, tears continue to streak my makeup.
I hate it when Jake sees me cry.
“Look, I am sorry. I brought her here for a meeting
with Jake, to set up some stuff for an account and it just
happened. It’s not like we always do this.”
Marching right up to Michael, I look up into his
overly tanned face and glare into hazel eyes.
“You don’t always do this? Sounds like it’s
His eyes fly to Jake, who still hasn’t made any
effort to cover himself.
Great. Just great. I’ve been working for a pervert
who is screwing clients. I’m married to a man who seems
to think it is perfectly okay to join them.
My life is a train wreck.
“I don’t care. Get out. Just go.”
Michael moves to the door, his shoes in his hand.
“I would keep this to myself around the office if I
were you, Ashley. I’d hate for you to lose clients over this
He eyes meet mine, and he walks out the door.
I put my purse on my shoulder and grab my keys.
Jake stares at me blankly.
“I’m sorry for all this. I wish you would wait a
minute so we can talk.” He runs his hand over his tousled
blonde hair, blowing out a breath.
I slide off my outrageously expensive Cartier
wedding ring along with the engagement ring, and I drop
them into my purse. His eyes follow my movements.
“Bye, Jake. Thanks for ruining my life. Fuck you.”
He watches me walk out, doesn’t chase me or call
to me. He never texts me or calls me. The next day, I go get
all my stuff and he doesn’t say anything as he walks around
the apartment, watching me gather my clothes and personal
belongings. Our only exchange after that day is during the
***About six weeks later, I am sitting on the floor of my
hotel room, against the wall. Too much scotch is flowing
through my veins, tipping the room and nauseating my
stomach; but not quite as much as the sight of the nameless
man passed out in my bed. There has been a string of them
since I walked out; nameless faces blurred by alcohol
followed by sickening regret. I don’t know what I’m doing.
Trying to forget? Kill the pain?
It’s not working. Michael is killing off my accounts
one by one now. I haven’t even been to work in two days.
I can’t even go to another agency at this point, not
with all my clients jumping ship. I had thoughts of
exposing him, telling everyone what he did. That wouldn’t
change anything; it wouldn’t bring my life back or take the
Just a few weeks ago, I was somebody. I had
famous clients and knew movie stars. Now I’m nothing.
My career is in the toilet. My marriage is history. I have no
friends here anymore,
People are whispering when they see me walk down
the hall at the office. There is nothing to keep me here.
I’ve lost my life, and myself, somewhere along the
way. I never imagined myself as this sobbing, drunken
heap in the face of hell. I guess I’m not as strong as I
thought I was. Funny how having a breakdown can show
you the truest form of yourself. Too bad what I see when
I’m looking into the mirror is disgusting.
There isn’t anything left for me here anymore. It’s
time to go home to Dallas.
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