Reasonable Doubt: Volume 3
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Pulling into the reserved parking spot, I looked in my rearview mirror—seeing that Emma was fast asleep.
I stepped out and carried her inside anyway. I was sure she’d wake up soon.
“Good morning, Mr. Henderson.” An intern greeted me as I walked inside.
“Good morning, Laura,” I responded. “Am I in a different time zone today? Why is everyone awake and working right now?”
She blushed. “It’s tax season.”
“I keep hearing that…” I stepped onto the elevator. “I’ll see you later.”
Emma stirred in my arms, murmuring, but only soft snores followed.
When the elevator doors glided open, I walked through the massive “H&H” glass doors headed to Emma’s half-finished playroom. I gently lowered her onto the massive pink bed and tucked her under the covers, whispering “I love you,” before I dimmed the lights.
I took a seat in the corner and pulled out the folder that was under my arm, reading over what seemed like written receipts and accounts of money exchanges. Things I didn’t recall doing.
I pulled out my phone to text Ava, to see if this was just another elaborate joke—something she was prone to pulling, but I heard her voice.
“Fuck!” She yelled.
I jumped up and headed to where the shouting had come from, pausing once I heard a familiar voice.
“Your pu**y feels so f**king good…”
“Ahhhh….” Ava was moaning. “Just f**k me…Fuck me harder…”
I completely froze, unable to take another step. I didn’t want to believe another man—Kevin, from the sound of things, was f**king my wife or that she was cheating on me.
I couldn’t believe it. I trusted her way too much.
But, as she screamed a few more times—the same screams she yelled when having sex with me, I knew it was true.
“Is this how you always conduct business, Mrs. Henderson?” Kevin asked, laughter in his voice.
“Are you seriously going to call me that after we just f**ked?” She groaned. “Can we actually get back to work now? That’s the third interruption tonight and I’d actually like to get something done.”
Papers shuffled, windows opened, but I remained frozen—still in disbelief. It wasn’t until I peered through the slit of the door that my brain actually began to process what was happening.
“What are we going to do about this Ferguson shit?” Kevin asked.
“Ferguson shit? That’s what we’re calling it?”
“Oh, right. Here’s a better name for it: Five to ten years for me. Fifteen years for you.”
“I was thinking twenty.”
“Twenty?” He slammed the table. “Are you out of your f**king mind? Twenty years? Are you suggesting that we just turn ourselves in?”
“No…” she said. “Just Liam.”
“What?” He sounded appalled. “Are you joking right now?”
“Do you hear me laughing?”
“Ava, look…” He sighed. “Liam is like a brother to me—”
“Says the man who’s currently f**king his wife…Some brother you are.”
“This is a mistake.”
“A mistake would be one time,” she said, lighting a cigarette. “Once a day for the past few years isn’t necessarily the same thing. Sorry.”
My heart sank.
“It was a mistake, Ava.” He looked conflicted. “Tonight was going to be the last time anyway. I can’t keep doing this to him.”
“I don’t want to stop.” She walked over to the window and sighed. “I can’t…”
“He doesn’t give me what I need anymore…”
“You’ll have to find a way that he can. Now actually might be a good time to start, seeing as though he might have to be your lawyer.”
She turned around in tears. “Is this really the last time?”
“The first time should’ve been the last time.” He walked over and massaged her shoulders. “You were only using me…You tend to forget that.”
“I wasn’t—” She choked back a sob. “I wasn’t using you…”
“Yes you were.” He kissed her lips. “And that’s okay. I sympathized.”
“Did you think I was a horrible person?
He nodded, cupping her face in his hands. “He couldn’t give you a baby and you wanted one…Naturally…That’s completely understandable.”
I held back a gasp.
“He doesn’t f**k me like you do...” she whispered.
“Stop it, Ava.” He kissed her cheek. “Stop it.”
I didn’t want to hear anymore.
I couldn’t take it.
As the two of them kissed and held each other—completely immersing themselves in their own world, I forced myself to walk away.
I hit the lights in my office and noticed a bright blue box on my desk. It read, “To: the love of my life. From: Your first and only love.”
My heart ached again as I tore the wrapping and looked inside: A new set of cufflinks, a set that probably cost more than all of my suits combined. My initials were engraved in them, and she’d enclosed a quote from my favorite authors:
“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of life much so. Aim above morality.”
-Henry David Thoreau
I sighed. She’d left out the last part of the quote, the “Be not simply good; be good for something.”
I pulled out my phone and sent her an email:
I think I will try some coffee…Are you still at the coffee shop?
Subject: Re: Coffee.
Yes. I think I’ll be here all night.
What kind would you like?
Subject: Re: Re: Coffee.
Whatever you think is best for a first timer…
Have you talked to Kevin today?
Subject: Re: Re: Re: Coffee.
Not at all. He’s been weirder than usual lately. (We really need to find him a girlfriend…) Have you?
I didn’t answer.
I left my office and walked over to Emma’s playroom, looking at her as she slept peacefully. I wanted to make her wake up, make her look at me, so I could study her features and pick them apart, so I could see for myself that she was indeed Kevin’s, but I couldn’t.
She was mine, biological father or not.
I carried her out of the firm and rushed home. As soon as I set her down, I flipped over the coffee table and opened the envelope I’d filed away hours earlier.
It was a standard summons, a demand to appear in court, but the charges listed didn’t end on one page. They didn’t even end on two.
It was a ten page manifesto, a laundry list of bullshit that I would never attempt: bribery, racketeering, tax fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud—every f**king fraud.