Dirty Little Secret: Deleted Scene
*This scene was the first written for Dirty Little Secret. I cut it before submission, but it remains in my heart the kernel of Cailin's character throughout the rest of the book. It's the day she told her husband she wanted a divorce.
“You selfish bitch!”
Cailin Gray flinched, then braced herself, taking a deep breath before turning to confront her husband. She kept her face expressionless, no hint of her pounding heart and shaky insides showing. Stay calm. Breathe.
“How the hell could you do this to me?” Sean thrust a heavy sheaf of papers in her face, but Cailin stepped back, forcing herself to respond quietly, carefully.
“It was time.”
“Time? That’s all you’ve got to say? Five years! Five years of marriage and you—”
She squared shoulders that had begun to tremble. “We both know it’s over, Sean.” I just finally decided to do something about it. It sounded callous; maybe it was. Guilt, fear, despair—she had her own cornucopia of emotions to deal with. She’d known dealing with Sean’s would be hard, but imagining it and actually doing it, facing her husband after he found out she’d filed for a divorce, were two totally different things altogether. Her muscles ached with the need to flee, but she held herself rigid, even her breath shallow.
Sean choked on a hollow laugh, and Cailin’s heart squeezed. She’d thought she loved him once. Thought he loved her. They’d married right out of college. He was the only man she’d ever made love to. But she’d become nothing more than a fixture in the background of his life. How could a woman keep her marriage going when she had to beg her husband for attention, affection, time…and he still wouldn’t give it?
She nodded toward the papers. “Everything is spelled out pretty clearly. I haven’t asked for anything more than my share. There are no kids—”
“And whose fault is that?”
The words whipped across her heart and left her bleeding. Her infertility wasn’t the problem. He’s just looking for something to hurt you with, you know that. Instead of responding to the pain, lashing out with her own accusations, she continued as if he hadn’t spoken. “And since I work, there’s no need for alimony. We just have the house and money to split.”
She dared to step closer, that old longing to fix things welling inside her, even knowing it was impossible. Her heart jumped into her throat when he threw up a hand to stop her. Logically she knew Sean wouldn’t hit her, but somewhere in the back of her mind, she’d wondered if all the anger that had built up over the last few years might be unleashed at this moment. Was that why she’d waited so long? Or had she simply not wanted to seem like a coward? In their smallish community smack in the middle of the Bible Belt, divorce was a four-letter word that got you ostracized. “This is the decision you made,” her pastor had told her once. And he’d been right. She had made the decision to marry Sean.
And now she had made the decision to leave. It hurt too much to stay. If that made her a coward, so be it.
Sean’s hot breath hit her cheek as he leaned toward her, his fury a palpable presence between them. “I don’t give a damn about the money. Why are you doing this?”
“I’ve told you why. We’ve been over and over it.” A bitter laugh escaped, when she didn’t want to be bitter. God, I’m so tired of dealing with this. But it didn’t matter, and it wouldn’t be over for a long time, legally or emotionally. She had to accept that he didn’t love her, not the way she needed to be loved. She’d finally acknowledged that she needed more. “We’ve been in counseling off and on since we got married, Sean. How much more is there to say?”
His voice dropped, though anger continued to thread through it. “I’m sorry, okay? I’ll try to do better. I will.”
“You said that six months ago, and three months before that. I need more than words.”
“But I mean it. You can’t… What more can I do than apologize? I’m your husband, for Christ’s sake.” His eyes turned pleading. “You have to forgive me.”
Again. It didn’t matter how many times as long as she did it when he wanted it. And it was that attitude that had killed her ability to forgive. She was his wife, not his doormat.
Sean ran a frustrated hand through his thick brown hair. “Is this the sex thing again? Is that it? You’re going to humiliate yourself in front of everyone ’cause you don’t think you get enough sex?”
Cailin tightened her control to the breaking point before she could roll her eyes. Sean hadn’t touched her in almost a year; that certainly qualified as more than “not enough sex.” But it wasn’t even the lack of sex that hurt. Her husband didn’t touch her at all. No hugs. No kisses good-bye. No sitting next to her on the couch to watch TV. They didn’t brush against each other when they passed in a doorway. He didn’t even turn over in his sleep and cuddle up to her body to keep warm. She’d spent more nights staring at his back than she could count, until the pain tore her apart inside and she couldn’t bear to sleep in the same bed. She’d taken to the couch last week. Sean hadn’t seemed to notice.
And he won’t notice now. It’s pointless to argue.
Refusing to acknowledge his question, knowing she had to leave—now, before she totally lost it—she said softly, “Everything you need to know is in the papers. Read them and get back to me.” Then she grabbed her purse and walked out.
When she returned to the house four hours later, thinking he’d have cooled off by then, her key wouldn’t open the lock on the front door. Sean wouldn’t answer the doorbell, though his car was in the drive. She shouldn’t have been surprised, shouldn’t have been hurt. This was her fault, after all. If she’d just left well enough alone, maybe it would have gotten better. That’s what she’d told herself for five long years, what friends and family had told her. It didn’t matter how hard the woman in the back of her mind, the one begging for someone to love her, need her, screamed that it wasn’t so. Cailin was the only one who could hear her. The only one who wanted to hear her. No one else knew the pain she felt every time she realized she was more alone than she’d ever been in her life, and her husband was right beside her. Or maybe other people did know and they put up with it.
She had, for a while. But not anymore. The decision was made.
She wanted a life. She wanted to be happy. And yes, she wanted a man who loved her as she was, flaws and all, and showed it. Who acknowledged her existence and more. Was that really too much to ask?
After calling Bonnie Loveless, her friend and now lawyer, Cailin spent the night in a hotel, returning home the next day with a local police officer—luckily not one she knew, though his distaste at getting involved was obvious—Bonnie, and a moving crew. Since Sean was at work, she was able to get in with the key the officer had retrieved earlier and move her things easily enough. Much of it she left behind, not wanting to deal with the memories. Let him have them. Maybe someday his eyes would open and he’d realize what he’d lost. She doubted it, but hey, a girl could hope.