52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 24
Scene from an ongoing WIP and continues on from Good Morning, Mother. Quinn Landon stumbles upon a long-held secret of still more betrayal by Oscar and plans to use the information to end her husband’s endless delays to their divorce.
“If you grip that pen any tighter, it’ll break.”
Quinn looked up at her attorney, not missing the concerned look in his eyes.
“I guess I am a bit keyed up, huh?” She exhaled heavily. “This day has seemed out of my reach for far too long. You have no idea what it means to me to sign these documents.”
Morris Dabney chuckled easily. “Did you forget who you’re talking to?”
The young woman bit her lip, heat flooding her face.
“Sorry, Morris. I forgot… you’ve been through this too.”
“Been through it? My dear, four divorces make me an expert at divorce, my profession notwithstanding.”
Quinn signed her name one last time with a marked flourish.
“Done!” She slid the papers across the table. “And you’re just too easily distracted by a pretty face, Morris. You can’t marry all the pretty women.”
“Yes, they were all attractive, but they also were able to make me believe they truly cared about me… loved me.”
Quinn’s heart broke at the sadness in his eyes.
Morris smacked the conference table and grabbed the signed documents. “Fortunately for you, and all my other clients, I’m a far better litigator than I am a judge of women allegedly interested in me.”
He stood and walked to his desk, adding the documents to a file folder. “I know you’re relieved to at last sign dissolution documents for the filing, Quinn. But you know at this point, it still isn’t a done deal, right? Oscar can still contest the divorce and drag this out for some time.”
“He can try.”
Morris considered her remark, eyebrow raised. He retook his seat across from her.
“This is the third time we’ve been here, Quinn. The first two times, you seemed more fragile, more broken. Your emotions were all over the place.”
“The first time was so hard for me. Finding out that the man you love with all your heart and soul is cheating on you is a real confidence killer. Then to have him get on his knees and beg for forgiveness and another chance… well, it’s the stuff romance novels are full of. I believed him because I wanted to believe IN him.” She shook her head slowly. “Things were okay for a while… a short while. I began to have female problems, and it only took a visit to my doctor to find out I had a serious STD… courtesy of my husband.”
“And yet, you didn’t go through with the divorce proceedings either time, Quinn.”
Nodding her head, this time it was Quinn who stood. She walked over to the large office window overlooking the river.
“I know, I know. I was so confused. I knew I had the right to divorce Oscar. But our families, especially our parents, they just… kept at me. All their ‘marriage is for a lifetime’, ‘it’s sanctioned by God’, and my personal favorite, ‘for better or for worse’.”
“I’m sorry, Quinn. I didn’t know of your religious beliefs.”
“Religious beliefs? Please. Religion has nothing to do with it. During one of my mother’s pseudo-religious rants, I interrupted to remind her that committing adultery was breaking one of the Ten Commandments… and she called me JUDGMENTAL!”
Folding her arms across her chest, Quinn paced. “You know what the Clark/Butler family prides itself in, Morris? Longevity. And not just longevity of life… but of marriages. Do you know my mother has photos of her parents and grandparents hanging in her family room? And the common denominator is not that they’re family, it’s that the photos were taken after each couple celebrated at least fifty years of marriage.”
Morris’ eyes widened.
Quinn waved away his surprise. “Dad’s family was the same way. His grandparents were married for sixty-four years before my great-grandmother died of respiratory failure.”
“I don’t know what to say…”
“There’s nothing to say, Morris. I’m sorry I didn’t share all of this with you before. I was just too ashamed and embarrassed to admit I’d allowed myself to be bullied and too terrified to stand up for myself. I didn’t want to go against our families.”
“I’m your attorney, Quinn. I look out for your best interests.”
“Yes, you do, Morris, and I’m more grateful than you know. Not many attorneys would be bothered with a crazy lady who kept changing her mind about getting a divorce.”
“Getting a divorce is a major decision. Everyone second guesses themselves at some point. It’s normal. But tell me. You changed your mind twice, yet here we are a few months later with signed papers. Care to share?”
Quinn’s smirk returned with an eerie malevolent tinge.