Ted glared at me and stepped towards me. “What have I told you about calling me a freeloader? I’m not a stable boy!”
“I never said that.”
“You implied it. You know you did.”
I had. And it felt good to get it out in the open, to clear the air. I was sick and tired of living this way.
I wanted something better.
I sat the baby back in his crib. “I’m so done. I’m just so over your bullshit.”
“My bullshit? You are tired of having a guy like me who loves you and bothers to give you the time when you’ve let yourself go completely?”
He pointed at the pudge on my stomach. It hurt when he did that. I’d had trouble losing the last ten pounds of the baby weight, but I thought I still looked pretty good for a woman who’d just had twins. I ate right and I exercised regularly. I was doing well, as far as I was concerned.
“That’s right,” I said. “Go ahead and run me down. Remember that I’m your meal ticket.”
“My meal ticket? In case you’ve forgotten, we are married and I basically own half of it all and you gave me legal precedence to seize the other half if you aren’t fit to take care of it.”
I laughed. “Wow, if I didn’t know better I’d swear you married me just for my money.”
Ted laughed. “Yeah… and?”
I felt like someone had kicked me in the stomach. My breath wouldn’t move in or out of my body. Did he really say that?
He’d said a lot of hurtful things to me in the past, but this was too far, even for him. He didn’t really mean that…did he?
Ted laughed. “Ooops, did I spoil the surprise?”
“You are despicable. Don’t say something you can’t take back, something that you will regret.”
Ted was in my face now. “I regret nothing. I married you for your money. I knew who you were the day I met you. In fact, I planned all of it out perfectly. And you fell for it hook, line, and sinker.”
Tears were forming in my eyes. I tried to blink them away but I was in too much pain. What… what was he saying? It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true. I wouldn’t let it.
“That’s right,” Ted said. “I played you like a fiddle and you were too stupid and too gullible to realize it. And now you are stuck with me. So you’d better make the best of it and quit being such a stupid bitch, before you really piss me off.”
“Get out. Get out of my house!” I screamed at him.
Ted was shocked for a brief moment and stepped back. Then he got in my face again.
“Make me, bitch!”
I walked to the other corner of the nursery to get out of his face. “We need a break. Listen to the horrible things you are saying. I know you can’t possibly mean that. Look at how you are hurting me and destroying our family.”
“Our family? This is your family. I just live here. You wanted to be a mother and now you are one. Hell, you probably planned that. I know the type of stuff women do to trap men in things they don’t want. Well, these are your kids. I’m not dealing with them.”
“We need a break from each other. I want you gone. If you don’t go then I will call the police.”
Ted laughed maniacally. And then a look of pure evil washed over his face. I stepped back but I was against the wall. He had me cornered. Ted got up in my face again and he finally looked like the evil that he hid so well. How had I ever fallen in love with this fake man? That’s all he was; he was a charlatan. I’d been duped. And now I might never get out of it. I felt sick.
“You bitch,” Ted growled. “You ever threaten to call the cops on me again and you’d better call a coroner too, because you will be taken out of here in a body bag. I’m not going anywhere. This is my place now. This is my world and I’m in charge. Don’t think for a moment that I won’t kill you. And then all the money becomes mine. Remember that… you have a good motive to keep me happy. Now shut that kid up. Do the best you can.”
Ted started to walk away. He stopped at the doorway and looked back at me with disgust as I slumped to the floor in tears.
Ted said right then in his most agitated voice, “How can an orphan ever parent anybody? Poor kids.”
I don’t remember how long I sat there and cried.
I curled the barbell up one last time and held the move at the end, letting the isometric part of the exercise do its job before finally setting the weight back down on the ground. I let out several deep breaths and stood up. My body was tired. I’d killed it in the gym today. Staring at myself in the mirror, I grabbed my water bottle and took a long drink. I was just finishing up a stellar workout and I was feeling and looking pumped. I never got tired of looking at myself in the mirror. There was just something about seeing myself and being so genuinely pleased with what I saw that made me happy. Too bad other people couldn’t feel the same, but they weren’t me.