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The Lie

By´╝ÜKarina Halle

PROLOGUE

Brigs

Edinburgh, Scotland

Four Years Ago

“I’m sorry.”

I’d rehearsed it so many times that I thought I could just open my mouth and the words would flow out. The whole speech. The entire confession. I thought if I kept saying it over and over again in my head, that when it came time to speak the awful, horrible, liberating truth, it would come easily.

But it doesn’t. It hasn’t.

I can’t even explain myself. All I do is drop to my knees, my legs shaking from the stress of it all, the stress I brought upon myself. It pales in comparison to what she’s about to feel.

Miranda is sitting on the couch, like I’d asked her to, the cup of tea placed neatly on the saucer. I keep my eyes focused on the subtle wafts of steam rising from it. I thought I could do the right thing and meet her eyes, but I can’t. I’m cowardly at the end of it all, unwilling to see the pain, the deep cuts from my own hand.

“Sorry for what?” she asks in that calm voice of hers. Always so calm, able to weather any storm I’ve thrown her way. The fact that I’m on my knees, visibly trembling like a fool, hasn’t changed her tone in the slightest. Maybe this won’t be as hard on her as I thought.

Bloody wishful thinking, that is.

I take in a deep breath and wince when it comes out shaking. I wish the sound of the rain pouring outside would mask it.

“I’m sorry,” I repeat again. My voice sounds hollow, like I’m hearing a playback on a dusty old tape. “I have to tell you something.”

“I can see that,” she says, and now I detect an edge. “You asked me to sit down and now you’re on your knees. I hope you’re not proposing to me all over again.”

It would all be so much easier if that were true.

I finally dare to meet her eyes.

My wife is such a beautiful woman. Grace Kelly reincarnated. A neck like a swan. I remember our first date. We’d barely been out of high school, but even then it’s like she held a world of secrets in her poise. She was so put together, so perfect. I showed up with my shitty car and took her to the movies and dinner at the best place I could afford, even though the food was bloody horrible. And she was forever gracious, didn’t bat an eye. She made me feel like I was somebody when I was with her, and maybe that’s why I married her. She was everything I wasn’t.

She’s still everything I’m not. That can’t be more apparent right now.

“Brigs,” she says, frowning. She barely has lines even when she’s making that face. “You’re scaring me.”

I clear my throat but it’s like pushing boulders. “I know.”

“Is it about Hamish?” she asks, and as that thought comes over her, her eyes widen in panic.

I shake my head quickly. “No, nothing to do with Hamish.”

I’m thankful more than ever that the little man has gone to bed when he’s supposed to. The rain is coming down harder now, tapping at the windows, and that has always worked on him better than any lullaby.

“I just want you to know,” I tell her, putting my palm on her hands. So soft, like she’d never worked a day in her life. I used to make fun of her for that, for being the socialite, the trust-fund baby. Right now they make her seem achingly vulnerable. “I just want you to know that…I’ve put a lot of thought into this. I never wanted to hurt you.” I stare at her, begging with my eyes. “You must know that.”

“Oh god,” she says with a gasp, pulling her hand away from mine. “Brigs, what did you do?”

The weight of all my choices blankets me.

There is no easy way to say this.

No way to soften the blow.

I don’t want to hurt her.

But I have to.

“I…” I swallow the razors in my throat. I shake my head and fight the heat behind my eyes. “Miranda, I want a divorce.”

She stares at me blankly, so calmly, that I wonder if she’s heard me. My hands are shaking, my heart is about to need resuscitation.

“What?” she finally whispers in disbelief.

To outside eyes we’ve had a happy marriage. But we both knew this was coming. Maybe she never saw the catalyst, but she knew this was coming. She had to.

“We’ve both been very unhappy for a long time,” I explain.

“Are you serious?” she says quickly. “Are you seriously doing this?”

“Miranda.” I lick my lips, daring to meet her eyes. “You must have known this was going to happen. If it wasn’t from me, it would have been from you.”

“How dare you,” she says, roughly pushing my hands away and getting to her feet. “How dare you put words in my mouth? I’ve been happy…I’ve just been…I’ve just been…”

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