After the death of Nick and my father, I had thought I'd be incapable of experiencing that gut wrenching pain ever again. But for some reason, the scene in front of me hurt so much worse.
The woman I hated most was standing pressed up against my husband with her lips locked on his. Her fingers grabbed at the collar of his shirt, pulling him dangerously close.
I just stood there frozen like a statue, feeling the sharp edge of a knife drive through my heart. At that moment, Derek spun around to look in the direction of the door, pushing Ashley away from him.
His blue eyes met mine, and he instantly grew pale as he stared at me in absolute shock and horror. Simmering with fury, I stormed towards him, my heels echoing throughout the entire room.
"Claire-," he began when Ashley interrupted.
"Um, you could've at least knocked?" Her tone was glacial, and she shot me an accusatory look.
I glared at her menacingly, feeling the anger rush through my veins as I directed my attention to Derek. Before he could utter a single word, I did what I'd wanted most ever since I stepped foot inside his office.
I slapped him.
"Oh, and enjoy your cake," I said scornfully, taking the tiramisu out of its box and rubbing it all over his face.
Ashley stood there with her mouth hanging wide open in disbelief, and I turned to look at her as well.
"And you? Go to hell!", I spat, my voice laced with venom. She laughed contemptuously, and it took every fiber of my being to not wring her neck.
By then, Derek had managed to wipe off some of the cake with his hand, and he winced in pain when it came in contact with his cheek, which was now red from where I'd hit him. Seeing his face only angered me even more, so I began to exit the office.
On my way out, I heard the sound of his steady footsteps behind me and quickly increased my pace as he continued to call my name.
I was about to reach the elevator, but being the klutz that I was in high heels, tripped over my own foot and nearly fell when a pair of strong arms caught me.
Breathing a sigh of relief, I turned around to thank the person, but grew sick to my stomach when I saw who it was.
"Claire, stop run-",
"Get the hell away from me," I ordered. Derek dropped his hands in defeat.
The moment the elevator door opened, I quickly got inside, and the look of despair in his eyes was the last thing I saw before it closed shut.
When I walked into Wells Fargo, I told my boss that I wasn't feeling well, and he let me take the remainder of the day off. Once I was in the shelter of my own car, the tears of hurt and pain poured down my face, and I cried like never before, wishing the earth would just swallow me whole.
I had no idea how many hours I lay limp on the couch, but I just didn't have the will to eat or shower like I normally would at this time. At least I'd changed into a comfy tank top and pajama pants.
Never in my life had I thought that I'd ever behave like this, crying over a man that wasn't even worth my tears. I felt so stupid falling for him in the first place when instead, I should've guarded my heart. He'd trampled all over it, leaving me alone to fix the wounds.
What hurt the most was the fact that Derek had betrayed me, breaking his promise to never leave my side. Every night, we shared the same bed, but all this time, Ashley had been the one occupying his thoughts.
I never should've trusted him.
It was then that I finally decided to get up, stretching my aching muscles before heading to the kitchen to grab some water. The sound of the garage door opening caught my attention and I groaned, praying that Derek would just disappear.
His footsteps grew louder as they neared the kitchen until halting right in front of me. I turned my head away, refusing to look at that deceiving face of his.
"We need to talk," he said firmly, tossing his suit jacket on the stool.
"There's nothing to talk about," I muttered under my breath.
"Yes there is. Why did you just run away like that without letting me explain anything?" His tone was impatient.
"Explain what? How you and Ashley were locking lips?!"
He let out a heavy sigh.
"Don't you ever call me that again!" I pointed an accusatory finger at him and stormed towards the living room, fighting the tears that were threatening to escape.
Derek followed close behind and suddenly grabbed my arm, spinning me around to face him. His expression was pained and grave, making him look older than he actually was. Everything about him screamed 'guilty' at that moment, which I knew he was.
"You're a liar, you know that? You haven't been working long hours. You've been screwing Ashley," I said coldly.
Derek was filled with indignation at my words, and his jaw tensed as he began clenching his fists.
"You have no idea what you're talking about," he spoke through gritted teeth.
"How could you, Derek? You promised that you'd never leave me. But you did. For Ashley. The two of you might as well get back together already. I'll go find somewhere else to live," I managed to utter through my sobs.
"God, how could I have been so blind? The entire week you acted distant towards me, I'd thought it was because of stress from work, but now...,"
"Will you just listen to me?!", Derek's voice boomed.
I shrank underneath his heated gaze, noticing how the veins had popped out of his forehead. He was beyond fed up.
"Ashley fucking kissed me first. She came into my office to deliver a file, and after handing it to me, I thought she'd leave. Instead, she just grabbed my face and started kissing me.
"I tried pulling away, but it was too late. You'd already seen everything," he explained. "Believe me, Claire, I never wanted anything to do with her."
"You're lying! I saw you kissing her back," I retorted.
"My lips were shut the entire time! Why can't you believe that?!", he yelled in frustration.
"The inability to remain faithful to your spouse is something your mom passed on to you, huh? Well, I can see it clearly now. You're just like her," I said with a humorless laugh, crossing my arms in front of my chest.
"Shut the fuck up, Claire. This isn't about my mom. It's about you not trusting me!"
"Bullshit! You honestly expect me to believe that story? The one day I decide to go to your office, I see you two kissing. What else am I supposed to think? That you've been fucking her behind my back as well?!"
His face was glowering, and I cringed when he knocked a crystal vase to the ground, smashing it to pieces.
"You're so stubborn, damn it!", he shouted.
"This whole time we've been together, you never even cared about me." My entire body shook as I cried, falling back onto the couch.
"You think I don't care about you?" Derek's voice cracked, dropping to a mere whisper, and I glanced up into his frosty blue eyes.
He briefly closed them, exhaling sharply as he rubbed his temples in an attempt to calm himself down.
"Do you have any idea how worried I get whenever I leave you home alone? I try my damn best to make you happy but the majority of the time, you're always feeling so sad and hopeless. You even told me once that you were suicidal in the past," he said gravely.
"I'm not suffering from depression if that's what you're saying," I snapped.
"You cry in your sleep, Claire. Some nights, I hear you calling out his name. Who's to say you might do something to hurt yourself when I'm not at home? I know that he's all you think about when I'm gone."
As I stood there in silence absorbing Derek's revelations, he went to grab a bottle of scotch from the cupboard. When he came back, he sat down on the couch and began indulging himself in the alcohol.
I didn't want him going overboard like he did last time with the vodka, so I spoke up just as he was about to pour his fifth glass.
"Derek, stop. You're gonna get drunk."
"Why do you care?", he snapped, his bleak, near vacant eyes growing remote as he downed yet another shot of scotch.
"Because I don't want you to do something you'll regret."
"Hell, now you think I'd lay a hand on you, too? What type of guy do you think I am?"
He stood up to his full height, glaring down at me with so much fury, I couldn't help but feel slightly intimidated. Nonetheless, I had to remain forceful.
"Well, how am I supposed to trust you now after what happened today?"
"Nothing happened. Jesus, Claire, if we don't have trust, then what's left of us?"
"Don't you dare turn this on me. The only person at fault right now is you!", I yelled, jabbing his hard chest with my finger.
"I didn't fucking kiss Ashley! She kissed me!", he lashed out in protest.
"Didn't kiss her, my ass," I muttered under my breath.
Derek slammed his hand on the table, causing me to jump out of my skin.
"You know what, Claire? I'm done arguing with you and putting up with your bullshit," he spat vehemently, pushing me aside as he stormed out of the living room.
At that moment, I wanted to just take my car and leave, but then decided against it since it was already late and I was in no state of mind to drive. I'd end up ripping off the steering wheel or crashing into a tree.
So, I ran upstairs to my old room and slammed the door as hard as I could before collapsing onto the bed. I couldn't remember a time I was ever this furious at anybody. Derek had not only cheated on me, but lied about it, too.
Yet, a part of me believed that everything he'd said was true. Burying my face in the soft pillow, I cried myself to sleep, feeling more torn than ever.
Outside, the weather mirrored the current hostility between us, raining heavily as lightning flashed across the sky. Loud claps of thunder rattled the windows, and I curled up into a ball, covering my ears with the pillow.
Please let this all be a nightmare.
Throughout the night, I drifted in and out of sleep. It was around two in the morning when my bedroom door opened and a pair of footsteps entered quietly, careful not to make any noise.
Even though it was dark, I could distinguish Derek's tall figure standing beside my bed, still clad in his shirt and dress pants from work and reeking of scotch. Unaware that I was awake, he bent down and gently brushed his lips against my cheek, taking me by surprise.
"You can always trust me, sweetheart. I would never break my promise." His voice was strained with emotion.
Then, there was a brief pause followed by three little words.
"I love you."
He stroked my hair, placing one last kiss on my forehead.
I immediately stilled and slowly, every vengeful thought I'd had earlier about him faded into the back of my mind.
After he adjusted my blanket, I felt a longing for his warm presence next to me. But instead, I found myself listening to the sound of his departing footsteps until everything grew silent once more.
I fully opened my eyes and looked over to the closed bedroom door as tears began trickling down my cheeks.
I'm sorry, Derek.
A/N- Hey guys! Sorry it took me so long to update. I've been incredibly busy with school and track, but now I'm on spring break so hopefully I'll be able to write some more. Anyway, I bet most of you were already expecting Ashley to mess things up again. Do you guys believe that Derek was innocent in this situation? And yes, even after he and Claire had that huge fight, he finally told her he loved her. Last but not least, remember to like and comment!