Home > Sunrise on Half Moon Bay(13)

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay(13)
Author: Robyn Carr

She thought about her priorities, and Amber and Olivia remained at the top of the list. She barely slept, thinking of how to best provide for them. A picture of Wayne Holloway playing piano in a jazz band kept intruding, the image enough to make her smile if not giggle. He was a senior citizen now and should be thinking about his own retirement if being the CEO of a company constantly under siege didn’t kill him first.

Scott noticed she was not going to work, that she was dressed in her yoga pants day after day. He asked her what she was doing. “Thinking,” she said. “Trying to figure out what’s to become of us.” She assumed he wasn’t asking a lot of questions because he wasn’t quite ready to move out. And she was struggling with how to proceed.

Then it hit her. Putting her kids first wasn’t only about money. Sure, they were comfortable in their house and needed funds for college, but they also needed two parents. Scott might be off his rocker right now, but he’d always been an involved father. The big question was—what about the woman? Would she interfere in Scott’s ability to pay attention to the girls? Or even worse, would she try to win the girls over? Capture their affection?

How was she to know the true character of the woman who broke up their marriage?

She called Logan Danner again.

“As for her character, that’s questionable,” Logan said. “After all, this isn’t the first time she’s been the cause of a divorce. She twice met her next husband while he was married, and another time they lived together after he dumped his wife of many years. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, she might just be a sweet but stupid woman who keeps trying to better her lot in life by picking an upgraded man over the last man. As you know, she’s twice divorced and twice filed for bankruptcy. This is not a rocket scientist. And she has domestic abuse issues in the current marriage.”

“She must have some serious skills,” Justine said. “I always thought of Scott as a very smart man.”

“I think you can disabuse yourself of that notion,” Logan said.

“You think he’s not smart?” she asked, actually surprised.

“My opinion of him at the moment is not flattering,” Logan said. “I think he must be an idiot.”

“Will you please see if you can find anything...interesting?” she asked.

“Like?”

“Like—if she has a lot of debt, how did she pay for the new car?”

“Cars are easy. If you make the payments, you get the car. If you don’t make the payments, they take it back.”

“Just check, please,” Justine said. “And see if you can figure out her income.”

Justine spoke to Scott. “Let’s spend tomorrow morning working on our settlement.”

“Maybe we should just stay as we are,” Scott said. “We’re both here for the girls, we’re not in each other’s way, we can make this work. In many ways, it’s not much different than it was.”

“There are a lot of concessions I’m willing to make, Scott, but I’m not willing to earn the money while you spend it on your mistress.”

“I’m not spending it on—”

“I know what hotels you paid for. Nice ones. Expensive ones. I can’t trust you and I can’t live with you. But there is a deal we can work out. If you’re willing to talk it over.”

“You can’t know anything!” he said. “How could you know anything? There’s no evidence of that!”

“Scott,” she said tiredly. “They know you at the Oceanside Lodge. Come on, don’t stack up any more lies. Not now when I’m willing to deal with you. Let’s do this nicely and fairly for the girls.”

In the end he relented.

* * *

She went for a long early-morning walk after the girls had gone to school. Forty-five minutes later she was sitting at the dining room table with a folder full of papers and her calculator. Before starting the conversation, she asked Scott if he had any ideas on how he would divide their property.

He barely paused. He pulled the yellow pad from the bottom of her stack of papers and began to list things, plus their approximate value, beginning with their retirement accounts, their savings and investments. He added in the equity in their house, all the toys in the garage, their vacation house in the mountains, their cars, their art. Her mouth fell open. Art? They had a few decorator paintings, not expensive and chosen strictly to enhance the decor in their home. She had purchased three from an arts and crafts fair in the park.

He went on, listing the approximate value of their china, crystal, silver, bric-a-brac and even linens and clothing. And then, if she wasn’t already in shock, he added in the cost of law school.

“I had scholarships!” she said.

“And I supported you while you went to law school!” he shot back.

Then he crossed off all those household items on his lengthy list and said, “I don’t have any real desire to go through the dishes and sheets. I just want to be able to live. I don’t want to be selfish, I just want enough money to pay the rent and eat.”

The girls’ college funds, which were not going to send either one to Harvard but could cover the costs of California universities, had not entered the discussion, for which Justine was weirdly grateful. She had been afraid when it was all laid out on the table, he would pick at those remains like a bird of prey picked at the bones of a carcass.

“I think I was very generous here,” he said magnanimously. “When you get down to it, what I am asking for is far less than half. The only thing to talk about is support, bearing in mind I always supported you, if not by working then by managing the home and family.”

She wanted to shout at him, say something horrible to him, because he was leaving her for another woman! He effectively tossed her out and was done with her. Now the cheating bastard wanted to be seen as generous!

She tried to regain her focus. It took great effort not to lash out.

“I might have a better idea. A generous cash out.” She turned the tablet toward her, wrote a huge number on it and turned it back toward him. “Also, I’ll give you half of whatever I earn in the next five years. You’re good with money, Scott. It would allow you to buy a house and, if you’re interested, you could even go back to school and get another degree or an advanced degree. We can share the house with the girls. I’ll want to have unlimited access and allow you the same, but we’ll spend the nights on different nights. I’d like to see them almost every day. By the time they’re in college, we’ll both have figured out where we’re going to settle. We can sell the house then, and I know I’ll have space for them wherever I live. And I suppose you will, too.”

He was clearly shocked. “You’d leave the house?”

“When I find something, but I’d want to be here for them often to help them make the adjustment. I’m sure that can be worked out, don’t you think?”

“I...ah... Yeah. You mean you’d leave this house?”

“As I said, I’d want to stay in very close touch with Amber and Olivia, see them almost every day, help with homework, shopping, chaperone, et cetera. And it’s bound to take at least a few weeks or months to get them used to the idea that we’re going to live apart. That’s certain to be as difficult for them as for me.”

“Of course,” he said, sitting up a little straighter. He grinned. He looked downright excited.

“I have only one condition.”

“Name it.”

“She cannot be in this house. My house containing my things. Never. Not once.”

“Now why would you make that a condition?” he asked. “She is not the reason our marriage is ending. The blame is mine!”

“Of course the blame is yours and make no mistake, I’m willing to work with you even though I hate you. You’ve torn up my family! You destroyed our marriage. My daughters have been crying for weeks! Everything will be affected. Likely where they can go to college will be affected! But I ask one thing—she must never be in my house. She must not cook here, sleep here, celebrate here, watch the Super Bowl here or die here. In a couple of years, when we sell the house and you take your things and I take mine, do whatever you want. Until then, that’s my condition. I’ll get language in the decree that if you violate that condition, the house is mine, free and clear. If you want to fight it out, I’ll get a lawyer. I can guarantee you it’ll run up a bill of a hundred grand and take a year of your life you’ll never get back.”

“A hundred grand! How do you know that?”

She softened her voice and kept steady. “I’m a lawyer. We talk.”

He rubbed a hand over his head, through his thinning hair. “Wow,” he said. “How am I supposed to explain that?”

The way he said that, she knew.

“Oh my God,” she said quietly. “She’s already been here.”

“No,” he said, but he couldn’t meet her eyes.

“Her DNA is in my house!”

“No,” he said. “When we were remodeling, she was curious about the kitchen counters and stuff, so I showed her. That’s all.”

“God, I could kill you! Well, that’s it—I can’t believe anything you say.” She shook her head. “When did you become such a liar?”

“You’re overreacting. We were just friends until very—”

“Just shut up, Scott. Tell her I blame her as much as you. Tell her I’m not only a mean black-hearted bitch, I’m smarter than both of you put together. Tell her she took what was mine and I’m not giving her one more thing. And tell her to be afraid. Very, very afraid.”

“I don’t know about this,” he said. “I thought we could work it out fairly, but—”

“We’re going to the bank together, Scott. We’re dividing the cash. I called Sal, the wealth management adviser. He put our funds in lockdown. You are free to consult an attorney, but that’s on your dime. I’m not hiring an attorney and am willing to write this up, get your approval and file it, which will save us a ton of money. From now on, we keep track of every nickel. Decide what you want to do. You can make this neat and easy or difficult and expensive.”

   
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