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I had been getting the silent treatment from Zachary ever since we returned home from Windenburg.  I thought the 12-hour flight would be sufficient for him to get over his misdirected anger towards me but unfortunately it wasn’t. We went back to sleeping in our separate rooms. After our trip to the Bluffs we decided he would move into my bedroom but as soon as we walked through the front door he made a beeline for the downstairs master bedroom where he had been staying since I returned home. He doesn’t argue with me. He barely looks at me. He refuses to even talk to me. It’s very frustrating because I have plenty that I want to say to him but can’t because every time I open my mouth he walks away. Things finally came to a head on Johanna’s birthday.

1413

I baked a two tiered cake fit for a princess for my little princess. I missed the twins’ birthdays when I was in prison so I went all out for Johanna with balloons and decorations and I even made her favourite dish of pasta primavera for dinner. She blew out the candles while we all sang happy birthday to her.

1414

After aging up Johanna was not pleased with her look so she rushed upstairs to give herself a makeover. Zachary tried to reassure her that she was beautiful no matter what but we all know that’s just something people say to ugly people to make them feel better and my daughter was nowhere near ugly so there was nothing wrong with her deciding to change up her look to something more flattering to her looks.

1415

I thought she looked stunning afterwards.

“We made some beautiful children together, didn’t we?” I said to Zachary as we each took a slice of the birthday cake.

“Yes we did.” He smiled and it was the first time in a while since he spoke to me or even smiled in my direction.

1416

I tried to talk to him some more but then I think he remembered who he was talking to so his expression changed into one of indifference.

“Have you stopped listening to me?”

He remained silent.

1417

“It’s our daughter’s birthday. You can at least try to have a normal conversation with me just for today.”

“Don’t talk to me about what I should do. I know what my responsibilities are unlike you. I don’t owe you anything. Not even my time. Not anymore.”

“Zachary…”

“Why haven’t you signed the papers yet?”

1418

Those stupid divorce papers arrived last week and since then he’d been bugging me every day to sign them and give him the divorce that he wanted so badly. Didn’t he realise that such a thing was permanent? He was only upset. It would soon pass just like the other times.

“I’m not giving you a divorce Zachary. We will work things out like we always do.”

“No we won’t! I don’t want to be married to you anymore Gemma! We’re over!”

1419

“If we’re so over, then why are you still living here in my house? If you really wanted to separate you would have moved out but you haven’t.”

“There’s no way I’m going to leave here and allow you to have the chance to poison the girls against me. Besides, I have a duty as the executor of the estate. I can’t leave until our daughter becomes an adult so until then I’m forced to reside under the same roof as you but don’t be under the impression that I’m here because I still have feelings for you because I don’t.”

That stung! It stung hard! “If that’s how you feel then that’s your business. I still won’t sign anything so if you want a divorce, you’re going to have to get it without my cooperation!”

1420

He glared at me like he wanted to rip my head off and then he walked away and went back into the house. I was so angry with him but I was happy the girls weren’t there to witness our fight. We tried to keep our fights between us. It was the one thing we both agreed on these days.

A few days after Johanna’s party, I got a visit from my cousin Adalynn Goth. Aside from Zachary and the girls she was the only family member who contacted me while I was in prison.

“I heard you all went to Windenburg recently. How was it?”

1421

“It was great. The town is so beautiful and historic. There was so much to do and so many places to visit.”

“My brother’s new squeeze is from there. Her name is Candy Behr, and yes, that is her real name.” She laughed.

“Jakob always did go for those bimbo types. What about Maranda? How is she?”

1422

“She’s still writing sad stories. Good thing for her is that she’s actually making a decent living off of them. It’s good that she has a proper outlet to channel her gloominess. Sometimes listening to her go on and on can be tough.”

“Hey, why don’t we go out to the patio and catch up on everything that I missed.”

“Sure.”

It felt good having another adult woman to talk to. Since I had no other friends and Zachary refused to talk to me the only people I had to socialise with were my daughters and all they would want to talk about were school and their friends. Sometimes I would reach my limit when it came to their teenage drama.

1423

I wished I had spent more time with Adalynn because she turned out to be such a good friend. Zachary told me how she would often visit to help out with the girls when they were younger. She would volunteer to babysit when he had to travel for work and would even do things like help them with their homework or teach them how to swim. The girls loved her because she was so sweet and nice. Even Zachary became close to her during that time.

I didn’t realise until much later just how close she and Zachary became.

I was in the kitchen cleaning when I overheard them. They were outside by the playground and they probably didn’t think I could hear them because they tried to talk quietly but I still heard every single word.

“When are you going to tell her?” Adalynn asked.

1424

“There’s nothing to tell her. She and I are getting divorced. She doesn’t need to know anything else.” Zachary responded.

“But what if she finds out from someone else? It would not be good if that happens.”

“Relax Adalynn, Gemma’s a big girl. Besides we did nothing wrong. We were both lonely and had a moment of weakness but I think it’s understandable given the circumstances. If Gemma was a reasonable woman she would understand but she’s not so there’s no point in telling her what happened that night.”

1425

Adalynn sighed. “She told me about what happened in Windenburg. She said how you two slept together…”

“Adalynn…”

“I know, I know. She is your wife and I know how you wanted to try to make it work with her. It just hurts hearing that stuff, that’s all.”

1426

“I never meant to hurt you Adalyn. You’re a good woman and you deserve a lot more than I can give right now.”

“I still can’t help the way I feel Zach. I can be patient.”

“Once I get the divorce and I sort things out in my life, maybe we can finally have a chance to see where this can go?”

“I hope so.”

1427

I couldn’t listen to them anymore. I felt nauseous. I felt angry! But most of all, I felt heartbroken. During all the years I spent in prison I was comforted by the fact that my husband remained loyal to me in spite of everything. I believed that he remained faithful to me and our marriage and now I learned that it was all a lie! One big LIE!

He cheated on me! And with my cousin! How cliché!

1428

She’s not even prettier than me!

How could Zachary do this to me? And then act all holier than thou and treat me like a demon for threatening my sister when he had been sleeping around with my family member! What he did was way worse than anything I had ever done. Sure I killed some people but they were all strangers who meant nothing to me. He killed our marriage! He killed something so sacred to me and then tried to put all the blame on ME for its death to soothe his guilty conscience!

I wasn’t going to let him get away with this.

If he wanted a divorce then I’d give him the divorce!

But he would pay! Oh he would pay big time for betraying me!

1429

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