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Saving Ren
Author: Lesley Jones


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Saving Ren

 

 

Prologue

 

 

My mobile clatters against the stone benchtop, and I hold my breath as I watch it slide along the surface, thankfully coming to a stop before reaching the edge and its possible demise.

Letting out a long sigh, tears of frustration burn my eyes, and my chest heaves with the force of my silent sob.

He promised.

It's Thursday night; we've not had dinner together once this week and just this morning, Jay promised he'd be home. It's now almost nine, and there's no sign of him. Since six this evening, he hasn’t picked up the three calls I've made to him or responded to the two texts I've sent.

A lone tear finally escapes my eye. I swipe at it angrily, pissed off with myself for once again crying over a situation I’ve obviously not done enough to rectify.

I’m so tired. The anger I’ve aimed at myself for being the only one trying to save our marriage has consumed me. I know now, this is the end, and the admission of my defeat leaves me feeling exhausted.

The tension I’ve held inside has left me with a physical ache. Not just in my poor broken heart, but in my head, neck, and shoulders. All of me aches.

Drawing in a deep breath, I pull myself together enough to slide back the doors leading to our deck, remove the cover from the spa, and turn it on.

While it’s warming up, I head into our bedroom, take off my clothes, pull on my bathing costume, collect my kindle from my nightstand, and head back to the kitchen.

I want, no, I need a good cry. I need to curl up in a ball, alone in my bed, and sob my broken little heart out. Instead, I pull a piece of paper towel from the roll and dab at my eyes and nose. After disposing of the tissue in the bin, I take another moment, and for some reason, I start to laugh.

There’s nothing funny about my situation, but while standing at the sink and washing my hands, I grin maniacally anyway. Retrieving my wine glass, I fill it with the crisp, cold New Zealand Sav I pull from the fridge. After rescuing my phone from where it sits precariously on the edge of the benchtop, I head outside.

My phone connects to the new Bluetooth speakers Jay’s just had installed in the ceiling of our alfresco area. In the mood for comfort music, something I can drown my sorrows in and sing along to, I search for a playlist.

Because I'm short, Jay had our spa sunk into the ground, so rather than me having to climb into it, I step down.

Balancing my phone, wine, and kindle on the edge of the spa, I sink into the warm, bubbling water.

Reaching for my wine, I bring it to my lips and take a large gulp. Lowering myself further, I allow the jets to hit me right between my shoulder blades, which instantly, along with the wine and the voice of Adele, helps to finally ease some of the tension I’m feeling.

I close my eyes and relax back into the padded headrest. I’ve only just finished my wine when I hear the sliding of the door leading from the kitchen. When I open my eyes, Jason, my husband of twenty-four years, is standing in front of me. My eyes meet his, but I don’t say a word.

He makes a big show of looking around while shrugging and shaking his head, so, despite the silence, I know precisely the kind of mood he's in.

“So, you’ve called me seventeen times to come home and eat. Where the fuck’s my dinner?”

I wish I had more wine in my glass. I want to make my own show of dramatically taking a sip before dragging out my response. Instead, still without saying a word, I blankly stare at him for a long moment. I know it'll probably piss him off, invoke an angry response, but at this stage, I don't fucking care.

“Baked potatoes in the oven, steak and salad are in the fridge,” I eventually state while placing down my wine glass and picking up and opening my kindle to the story of sparkling vampires, my eldest son’s girlfriend insisted I ‘must-read.’

There's no warning, and I don't see it coming when my kindle is snatched from my hands and slung across the deck. Before I even get a chance to see where it lands, I'm grabbed by the messy bun my hair is in, a hand wraps tightly around my throat, and I'm pulled from the spa.

My shins hit the sides; my hands too slow to find purchase on the edge of the spa to be able to lift myself out.

"Jay, please, stop. You're hurting me. Please, please stop," I choke out. My protests go unheard as I continue to be dragged on my knees across the deck.

Unable to breathe, my eyes stream with tears of pain and absolute fear. When he finally releases my throat, I barely manage to gasp in a breath before his hand moves to the back of my neck. He keeps an agonising grip on my hair, but I instantly forget the burn in my scalp when he rams my face into our fridge door.

His hot breaths hit the side of my face, the stench of alcohol filling my nose, all while forcing my cheek against the stainless steel and holding it there.

"I'll tell you once, and once fucking only, get my dinner out of wherever you've put it, and get it on the table now. Right. Fucking now, Lauren," he spits into my ear.

Roughly, he pulls me back, away from the fridge.

"Open the fucking door," he demands.

I choke out a sob, my eyes and nose stream, my head pounds, and my heart bangs hard inside my chest as I pull the fridge door open. I reach for the plate with the steak I seasoned earlier on it, but it's snatched from my hand as Jay roars, "What the fuck is this? It's not even cooked. All those times you called and told me to get home, and you've not even cooked it."

He finally releases his grip on my hair, and for a few long seconds, the pain is actually worse.

“It's steak, I didn't want to ruin it, so I wasn't going to cook it till you got home.” I can barely breathe, let alone talk through my sobs.

“That's why I kept calling…” I attempt to gasp out my explanation, but he cuts me off by spinning me around with so much force, my back slams against the fridge, and the whole thing shifts.

“That's why I called,” I try again. “I just wanted to know what time you'd be home, so I didn't ruin the steak. . . I didn’t want it ruined,” I sob.

His eyes meet mine as he pins me by my throat and for an infinitesimal moment, he's there, Jay, my husband, the man I've spent over half my life loving, he's there.

And then he's gone.

He launches the plate across the kitchen; I watch as it crashes into the sink, breaking into four large pieces.

I'm not sure if it's his fist or his palm that makes contact with the side of my head, but the blow takes me off my feet, and I crash to the floor.

“Well, it's sure as fuck ruined now.” Jay stands over me and sneers while I curl into the foetal position. “My steak, my night, my entire fucking life, you ruined it all. You’re nothing but a fat, lazy, useless bitch.”

My ears are ringing, but I hear his words and the venom and spite with which they’re delivered.

The blow from his boot hits me low in the belly. While I gasp for breath, he turns and leaves while I vomit over the kitchen tiles we chose together when building our dream home.

 

 

I’m not sure how much later it is my tears finally stop. I’m still lying on the cold kitchen tiles. My heart rate has slowed, the pain in my scalp eased, and the echo of my blood whooshing through my ears has quietened. The bubbling of the spa and Nazareth’s cover of ‘Love Hurts’ filter in from the alfresco. Pulling my knees to my chest, I wrap my arms around them, wincing at the pain the movement causes. My stomach cramps and I wonder for a moment if I’m going to throw up again. Rocking from side to side, I contemplate my next move.

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