Chapter 8: Money Isn't Everything
Something is off.
Maybe I’m over thinking things, but Matt is always awake before me but the past three days I was awake, showered and ate breakfast before him. Once I went back to the bathroom, he was still sleeping. It wasn’t normal, something was different for him to still be sleeping and not already be in his work suit. He doesn’t do that whole ‘work from home’ thing now, he’s strictly an office worker. He was usually gone by 7:00am.
I stood in the doorway of the bedroom with my coffee in hand, looking at the clock on the night stand. 8:35. Matt was still asleep, the blanket resting on his waist and exposing his chest. I tapped my fingers against the mug lightly as my lips pressed together lightly. Strange.
“Do you always stare at me when I sleep?” Matt mumbled, keeping his eyes closed.
I suddenly smiled and walked into the room, setting my coffee on the night stand, “I wasn’t staring. I was... gazing.”
He opened one eye and furrowed his eyebrows at me, giving me a strange look. Obviously I didn’t know he was awake or I wouldn’t have been star-- gazing at him.
“Fine. Do you always gaze at me while I sleep?” He corrected himself, both eyes open now as he turned on his back and groaned slightly, stretching.
I shrugged my shoulders and slid onto the bed to sit next to him, “Not always. Only when you look really cute, which is about ninety-eight percent of the time.”
“What about the other two percent?”
I laughed softly, “That’s when you’re snoring. It’s very annoying.”
Matt rolled his eyes, wrapping his arms around my waist and pulling me down on him so I was laying flat on his stomach, “I know you’re lying because I don’t snore.”
“You do, actually.”
He seemed like he was about to keep up the discussion but he stopped and smirked, “You’re impossible.”
“That I am,” I grinned before glancing at the clock again, “Shoot. I have to go, I need to be at the office by 9:00.”
Matt groaned, grabbing my arm to prevent me from moving, “Ten more minutes. Stay here, baby... Just lay in my arms, or better yet... How about a quickie?”
A soft giggle erupted from my throat, “Matt... I don’t have time, by the time I drive to the office...”
The smirk played on his lips as his hands moved down to my butt and squeezed it gently, “Well, you could give Matt Jr a little attention.”
His eyes moved down to his lower body suggestively. I moved close to him until our lips were hovering just a centimeter apart, “Matt Jr will get plenty of attention later.” I pecked his lips gently before hopping off of the bed, “When are you heading to work?”
He paused for a moment, pulling himself up into sitting position and yawning slightly, “I’m actually going to see Alexandra today.”
I didn’t know he had intentions on seeing Alexandra today, it hadn’t been mentioned until now and as secure as I felt in my relationship with Matt, I couldn’t help but feel slightly paranoid in knowing that he would be going to see Alexandra. I assumed it was because of the divorce, but nothing about lawyers or attorneys were mentioned. It was just one on one. What more did they have to discuss?
“Oh,” I said softly.
Matt tilted his head slightly, his eyes basically staring through my soul and reading my everything thought, “Babe, are you okay?”
I nodded my head, smiling a little, “Yeah, but I really do need to get to work. I think Tristan will only be patient with me for so long.”
I wasn’t going to tell him that I was actually feeling weird about him seeing Alexandra so much. It just seemed like the dumbest thing ever considering they were seeing each other so much so they could legally separate. That was all it was. A divorce. Nothing to think about, no reason to worry.
“Do you think Matt would ever consider getting back together with Alexandra again?”
I was wrong about being able to not think about it because two hours later I was standing at Tristan’s filing cabinet while he sat at his desk, and though I was supposed to be working, work wasn’t exactly what I could think about.
I looked over my shoulder to see Tristan lifting his head from his laptop to look at me. He didn’t seem impressed, but he rarely did anyway so I wasn’t sure how he felt. “Why do you feel the need to ask me about your personal life?” He suddenly asked me.
Dumb question. The answer was obvious. “Well, I’m dating Matt and you’re Matt’s best friend, so...”
“So as Matt’s best friend I’m in his corner all the time.” He pointed out, “Which is why you’re here, might I add.”
I stuck my tongue out at him teasingly, “And here I thought you hired me because you liked me.”
Tristan chuckled at my words before shaking his head, spending so much time with him wasn’t so bad. We got to know each other and at work he seemed to be much more mature than he was outside of work.
“It’s actually because of the view I have of your ass while you’re at the filing cabinet,” He added.
I turned around quickly, a gasp escaping my lips, “Tone it down, Fleming.”
As he held his hands up in defense, he continued to grin, “Hey. You asked, I answered.”
Not exactly the question that I asked, but it wasn’t like I was asking if Matt committed a felony. It was one small question, what I really needed was an opinion.
“About the question...” I said as I walked towards his desk, biting hard on my bottom lip, “Just please answer this one question. It really isn’t a big deal, but on a scale of... I don’t know. One to one hundred, what do you think the chances are that Matt would consider the thought of he and Alexandra again?”
Tristan groaned in annoyance with me. I knew I could be irritable, especially with him, but all he had to do was say a number.
“Just say a number, Tristan.” I urged him.
He flailed his arms slightly, “Thirty-eight.”
Thirty-eight? That’s almost fifty. Literally almost half of the chances of him staying with me. I was hoping get for fifteen, or zero.
“Why thirty-eight?” I asked a little too quickly, the curiosity already getting to me.
He shrugged his shoulders casually, “I don’t know. It was the first number that came to my head.”
“A random number? Damn it, Tristan. You scared the hell out of me.” I flopped onto the chair across from his desk and rested my forehead against the surface.
“I’m not sure what you expected from this, Allison,” I heard Tristan say and just as I lifted my head to look at him, he was leaning forward on his elbows, “You’re in a relationship with a man who was married when you started dating. Did you expect to feel secure with that?”
My mouth gaped slightly, not having expected him to be so straight up and harsh with his comment. Of course our relationship did start that way, but that didn’t mean the security I felt had to be different. People didn’t understand the situation. They didn’t understand that Matt’s marriage was falling apart already when I came along and that I wasn’t the reason they fell out of love.
A squeak caught my attention and before I could look up, he was standing beside me and leaning back against his desk. His blonde hair fell against his forehead as he gave me a sympathetic smile, “I’m sorry. I know I can come off as a harsh, but I’m just saying it as I see it.”
“It was a little harsh.”
“Well, you need to get a backbone and figure your shit out. All I’m saying is that you knew what you were walking into when you got involved with Matt, you knew the baggage that came along with him,” He rubbed his hand over his jaw and sighed heavily, “I’m saying it to you straight, Allison. Alexandra is always going to be a part of Matt’s life, even after the divorce. They have a kid together, they’re always going to have that connection. So if you’re feeling insecure now, you need to figure out if you can handle this for the rest of your life or for however long you plan on being with Matt.”
I planned on being with Matt forever. As cheesy or unrealistic as it sounded, it just felt like we were meant to be. How often did the mistress get the man and live happily ever after? It sounded like I may have been kidding myself by Matt and I both wanted this. He was the first person I’ve ever fallen in love with and in my heart I felt like he would be the last. That’s what I wanted. That’s what would happen.
“I am secure, I just--”
“Then stop whining and deal with the life you chose.” Tristan cut me off, “If you have concerns you need to talk to Matt about it, but it seems a little early in your romance to be having doubts.”
I snapped my head in his direction, “I’m not having doubts. All I needed was for someone to talk to, Tristan.”
“Then talk to your friends, not Matt’s.” As he turned to walk away from me, I stood up from the chair and frowned. Maybe I had read this wrong, maybe I was wrong for feeling like I could talk to Tristan.
I looked down at my feet, seeming foolish at best. Idiot, Allison. You’re an idiot. Opening up to people wasn’t my thing, it wasn’t an easy thing to do but I had felt comfortable talking to Tristan. “I thought you were my friend too,” I spoke softly.
In a straight, emotionless tone, he responded, “Why would you think that we’re friends?”
That statement said enough.
Oddly, I thought that Tristan had given me the opportunity to work for him because he wanted to help me prove to Matt’s family that I was worth something, but clearly he only did it to be a good friend to Matt. The past few weeks I had felt like we had made progress and were becoming friends, he had been nice to me.
Oh god. I’m really pathetic now. Someone is nice to me and I automatically assume that we’re friends.
“I was wrong,” I spoke up, deciding that friendship with Tristan wasn’t in the cards, “You’re Matt’s friend and I’m his girlfriend who’s also your employee. That’s it.”
I looked towards Alexandra as I stepped inside the house, nodding my head slightly, “Uh, yeah. Three sugar, t--”
“Two milk,” She finished my sentence, giving me a smile, “I made you coffee every day for nearly 5 years. I’m pretty sure I can remember how you like it.”
I managed a small smile, “Thank you.”
It was weird getting together with Alexandra and having coffee like things weren’t all over the place. We were married, now we’re separating. Sometimes she smiles at me, other times she yells violent curse words at me. It was hard to keep up with, like an extremely toxic relationship even though I already left it.
As I entered into the kitchen I instantly noticed some manilla folders on the counter but I sat at the island, “So, did you decide on what you want with the divorce? Money wise? I already told you I’m more than willing to give you all of the material things.”
I watched as Alexandra began to stir my coffee before carrying it over to me. She grabbed a manilla folder from the counter, along with her coffee and sat across from me. “Money isn’t everything, Matt.”
Could have fooled me. Our entire marriage had been based on her wanting to use my money to build her success in the world.
“Just name it, okay? I’m exhausted from all of this and I really just want us to reach an agreement...” I attempted, feeling emotionally drained from this entire thing. It has been nothing but an endless cycle for the past 7 months.
Alexandra shook her head slightly, “I don’t want any of your money. I don’t need it, okay? I have the house, you left me the car along with everything else. I don’t need money.”
“I have to give you something, Alex.” I pointed out, taking a sip of my coffee that was slightly too hot to drink just yet. I flinched slightly at the burn, “During separation, the father is supposed to pay monthly support for the child. I read up on it and I want to make sure everything is okay with both you and Tommy here.”
“Matthew, please.” She began, just as a knock came on the door. She sighed softly and stood from her chair, “I’ll be right back.”
As Alexandra disappeared from the room, I ran my fingers through my thick, dark brown hair and groaned. She was being so cryptic, I could barely handle to listen to her refuse money anymore.
Things would be so much easier when she decided on a price. As soon as the papers were signed and off to the courthouse, then that was it. Then we could move on and start living as split families. It wouldn’t be a horrible as Alexandra assumed. If she would just open her mind to the idea of finding someone else and falling in love again, she could be happy.
I was happy with Allison whether she wanted to believe that or not.
I heard footsteps and looked towards the doorway to see Alexandra walking back with another woman who was dressed extremely classy in a navy suit. She smiled softly and motioned towards the woman next to her who had her hair pinned up neatly, “Matthew, this is Michele Bealeau.”
I extended my hand towards her, shaking it gently, “Pleasure to meet you.”
“You as well, Mr. Reid.” She answered.
Mr. Reid? What is this?
I glanced towards Alexandra questioningly and it was as though she read my mind, “Michele is a family lawyer.”
“Family lawyer? Why do you need one of those? We’re going through marriage and divorce court,” I stood from my chair, watching as Michele laid a briefcase on the island, opening it up as she began to sort through some files.
Oh fuck. No. Jesus Christ. No, no, no.
“Matthew, I didn’t want it to come to this, but...”
“Alex, don’t.” I said, feeling my heart rate rapidly accelerate in the situation. I knew where this was going and it terrified me, I didn’t want to hear her say it.
Alexandra continued her sentence with ease, “I want full custody of Thomas.”
“Fuck no!” I yelled, fuming at her even suggesting that, “He’s my son too, Alexandra. We discussed joint custody!”
Her sweet and genuine look changed, becoming diabolical. She glared at me like she had all of the power in the world, and she did. She had the power to keep my son from me. Alexandra knew what Thomas meant to me and it was sick that she was going to take me to court to have him for herself, “I just don’t think you’re fit to be a single father.”
“I’m not a single father! I have Allison. I have you. We can do this together, Alex. I’m a good father, you know that!” I rolled my hands into fists and instead of responding, she just folded her arms over her chest.
This is why she wouldn’t settle. This is why she wouldn’t sign the god damn paper because she was working on getting ahead of me to get custody of Thomas. She was going to take my son from me.
“Mr. Reid,” I heard Michele say and I looked towards her as she held out papers to me, “Until the court makes it full decision, you are no longer allowed to me around Thomas unless permission is granted by your wife, Alexandra. Two weeks from now there will be a first court date that is listed on the documents I have here for you. I’m sure you know the rest.”
I took the papers from her and skimmed through them, but my head was spinning so I didn’t catch everything vividly. This was a mess. I never imagined that a day would come when Alexandra would be trying to take my son from me. Of all things in the world, she was taking my entire world.
“Alexandra, please...” I looked over at her, a defeated feeling coming over me. I wouldn’t let her take Thomas from me, “You can’t do this to me. Hell, you can’t do this to Thomas. He’s needs me, I’m his dad. He needs his dad, Alexandra.”
She gave Michele a little nod and motioned towards the doorway, “Thank you for bringing those documents by, Michele. I will come by your office this week to discuss our case.”
Our case? For fuck sakes! She was already plotting against me and building some god damn case. I’m not a bad father, she has nothing she could possibly use against me that would make any judge see me as unfit. Just because we’re divorcing and I have a new girlfriend doesn’t make me a bad father.
I watched as Michele made her way out of the house after shaking Alexandra’s hand. Alexandra then turned to me as she leaned against the counter, “Did you really expect no consequences for your actions, Matthew? That you could cheat on me, leave me, move in with you’re whore and live happily ever after? I don’t think so.”
“You’re angry, I get that.” I said to her, taking a step closer to her, “But don’t take this out on Thomas. You let your bitterness towards me ruin his Christmas but this is his life we’re talking about. He needs his father and don’t let your anger towards me ruin that part of his life. Alexandra, there has to be another way.”
“There is,” She responded. He answered surprised me but at the same time I grew concerned. That was too easy for her, she wouldn’t just tell me that she was fighting for sole custody and then say there was another way. “Stay with your family and then you’ll be with him every day.”
I muttered a curse under my breath and stepped back from her, “You’re blackmailing me.”
“It isn’t blackmail unless I have information. I’m just offering you another option, Matthew... Our life together before Allison was fine, perfect. You seen Thomas every day and you family approved, we can go back to that...” Alexandra seemed like she was trying to drive a hard bargain, but the only thing in that bargain that mattered to me was Thomas. I just wanted my son.
I shook my head and stared at her in disbelief, “You’ve changed. You’re not the woman I fell in love with seven years ago. You’re cold and vengeful... I gave everything to you, Alexandra. I can’t help it that I was no longer happy in our relationship. I admit that I shouldn’t have went behind your back, but just because I want a divorce you decide to take Thomas from me?” I laughed dryly, “You’re disgusting. I won’t let that happen.”
“You don’t have a choice. The judge will decide who’s more fit,” She took a deep breath before looking towards the doorway of the kitchen, “You should go. I just wanted to discuss this with you and let you know what you had to lose if you go through with this divorce.”
This was all a game for her. It wasn’t about wanting full custody of Thomas, it was to prove a point and show me the pros and cons of the situation. She was showing me what she could take from me but I would show her just as quickly that what it would be like for her to not have Thomas in her life.
I stormed out of the kitchen and headed towards the stairs, calling out to Thomas, “Tommy! Come see daddy.”
It was frustrating to say the least that I wouldn’t be able to see Thomas after today, that once I left this house is couldn’t see him unless Alexandra allowed me too and I was sure she wouldn’t make it any easier on me.
Footsteps sounded from behind me and I didn’t bother to turn to see Alexandra’s face. I didn’t need to see her smiling at me innocently, she wasn’t innocent. She was doing unnecessary things to get back at me.
“Thomas isn’t here, Matthew.” She said suddenly, “I asked Brad to take him while I allowed you to process this.”
I quickly turned to face his, raging, “You’re not even going to let me see him?”
“Isn’t that the point? You see him when I allow you to. And this could become permanent if the judge allows it,” Alexandra began to walk towards the front door and she opened it for me, “You should get going. I’m sure Allison is waiting for you.”
Shuffling my feet across the floor, I walked over to her and stopped in front of her, glaring down into her eyes, “You’re delusional if you think you have any chance to get full custody of our son over me.”
“We’ll see about that.” She replied instantly.
She was confident. And she had every reason to be. I was fooling myself and I was scared shitless, but I couldn’t let her see just how terrified I was of losing Thomas. I had to act like I was just as sure of myself as she was even though I wasn’t.
I didn’t want to lose him, but I’ve screwed up a lot and Alexandra would use that against me.
Man, have I screwed up.