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Before I Ever Met You
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I first met William McAlister when I was just a teenager.
He was handsome, had a beautiful wife and was on the verge of success, having just joined my father as his business partner. Mr. McAlister was full of smooth charm, but back then he was barely a blip on my radar. Just a family friend.
Fast forward ten years: I’m 25 years old and a single mom trying to make things right for her seven-year old son. I’ve made some mistakes, grappled with my demons and now I’m back in the city of Vancouver, getting a second chance at a better life.
I’ve started by working for my father’s production company as an executive assistant. My first day on the job and I already know I could have a promising career there.
Now recently divorced and as sophisticated as always, Will has gone from being my father’s friend and business partner to something so much more.
We’re both older, for one thing, and he just oozes this worldly confidence and stark sexuality. Combined with his tall, muscular build and sharp suits, strong jaw and bedroom eyes, Will has turned into one hell of a distraction.
A distraction I’m having a hard time staying away from, considering his office is right across from my desk and I work with him in such close proximity.
But it’s just a harmless crush, right?
It’s just an innocent fantasy of screwing him on his desk, right?
It can’t ever be more because he’s my father’s best friend, business partner, and my boss.
Before I Ever Met You is a contemporary standalone romance, a light-hearted swoony read that will make you believe in love again
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Two years ago
“You know, I hate to be optimistic about things, but I really think thirty-nine might just be my best year ever,” I call out to Sasha after I spit the toothpaste into the sink. “I know I say that every year, it’s just that every year keeps getting sweeter.”
I expect to hear some sort of murmur from the bedroom, usually in a tone of voice that indicates she’s rolling her eyes. But there’s silence.
I try and ignore it, watching the water roll down the drain of the shiny black sink, but she’s been strange all day. Usually my wife goes all out on my birthdays, starting with breakfast in bed, followed by a blowjob, followed by brunch out with mutual friends, and then topped off with dinner at one of LA’s hotspots.
But while the water drains, my mind goes with it. I have to remind myself that it’s been a few years now since I’ve had a birthday like that. Not that I’m one to ever make a big deal about it, it’s just that Sasha always had. For the last year of my thirties, I guess I expected something.
And today, well we did go out for brunch with Ted, who happened to be in town, and Jeremy and Megan. And we did just come back from dinner at Mr. Chow, only it wasn’t the intimate dinner I’d assumed. I appreciated my friends being there, but what I really wanted was some alone time with Sasha to try and get our marriage back on track.
But on the Uber ride back to our rancher house in the hills of Los Feliz, she barely said two words to me. Just reconfirmed our address with the driver and then the two of us sat side-by-side in silence, like strangers, in the back of a Honda Civic with half-filled bottled water and a few packets of gum.
It was strange, to feel so utterly disconnected from someone you’ve spent the last fifteen years with. The darkness of the the car combined with the lights on Santa Monica Blvd created a distorting effect, amplifying the distance between us.
And now that distance is still here. It’s in the house with us, growing thicker, bigger, by the second. She keeps feeding it.
I sigh, staring at myself in the bathroom mirror. A few grey hairs at my temple. Probably some more at the back of my head. Otherwise my hair is looking pretty good, dark, almost black, thick and not going anywhere, at least for the time being.
I run my hand over my jaw, wiping away any last vestiges of toothpaste, flex my arms and abs, making sure the body I work so hard for is still behaving. I don’t look any older, save for a few lines by my eyes brought on by the California sunshine and my ever-present tan. I don’t feel any older, either. And yet there’s something inside of me that feels weathered and aged, cracking at the edges. Whatever it is feels irreparable, and has been for a long time.
It’s getting harder to ignore, just like the distance between us.
And yet, every year we go on, because facing the truth can be the hardest thing to do.
“Sasha?” I call out.
A touch of fear prickles the back of my neck.
I step out into the bedroom. The lights are all off.
And there is Sasha, standing out on the terrace, staring at the lights of the city below, the curtains billowing behind her in a rare breeze.
“Hey,” I say as I step out beside her, the tiles feeling cool against my feet. There’s a strange clarity to the air that’s a bit off-putting. I swear I smell the ocean instead of exhaust and smog. It’s like the city has disappeared for a moment.
“What are you doing?” I ask her, leaning on the railing, turning my head to face her.
She’s staring straight ahead, her nightgown shimmering against her dark skin. I want to reach out and push her hair behind her ears, the color now muted in the dim light, but I don’t. It doesn’t feel right.
Nothing about this feels right.
Is this what our marriage has become? When touching each other feels like an effort? When birthdays are no longer celebrated? When the most we talk is during the day, when we’re working together at the office?
It wasn’t what I signed up for fifteen years ago.
But whoever imagines things will end up like this?
The skin beneath her eyes shines with dampness. Oh shit. She’s been crying. Sasha doesn’t cry, ever.
My heart immediately hardens with fear.
“Hey,” I say softly to her. “Are you okay? What’s wrong?”
She wipes at her cheeks and mutters a swear word to herself before facing me. She doesn’t say anything for a moment, just rubs her lips together. I find myself staring into the eyes of the girl that I married, back when we were young and stupid in love. But it was wonderful, being that dumb in love. It was the kind of dumb where you took all the chances, made all the risks, just to share your heart with someone else.