Chapter One - Unedited
“You lying piece of shit!”
After grabbing the first thing I can get my hands on, I send it flying across the room. When the lit scented candle shatters into the wooden headboard a pair of handcuffs are dangling off, I suck in its citron blossom scent while screaming like a banshee.
Yet, oh so relieved.
If Isaac, my friend and boss, hadn’t suggested I start my eight weeks of vacation a day early, I’d be none the wiser that my fiancé is a two-bit cheat. I was apprehensive about taking so much time off as it was, but in the year Cedric and I have known each other, we’ve only spent the equivalent of seventy hours in the same room. I wanted to know the man I was set to marry in a couple of months. I didn’t want to be caught up in the chaotic storm adventurous men like Cedric instigate without any thoughts on the aftermath of their turbulent ways.
Thank God the twister ended before all my AMEX points were cashed in
I don’t know why I expected better from Cedric. Our entire relationship has been one dangerous twister after another. We met at a surgical convention in Dallas. I thought he was a little cocky, but I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t flattered by his attention. A month after the convention, he accepted a position at Ravenshoe Private. Three months later, we were engaged.
It’s been a crazy year, but I never anticipated this, and from the widening of Cedric’s eyes when it dawns on him who threw the candle, he wasn’t either.
“Twinkie Pie.” He bats away the blonde whose waterfall locks are barely concealing the adulterous event occurring before my very eyes before he scuttles across the damp with sweat bedding. “You were meant to meet me at the airport tomorrow afternoon for our flight.”
“I left early. I thought it would be nice to wake up in the same location as you on our first anniversary instead of in a different state.” I wave my hand across the mountaintop views stretched as far as the eye can see. “The view was worth seven hours on the freeway, but the greeting could sure do with some work!” With my annoyance as piqued as my voice, my last three words come out as shouts. “We’re supposed to be getting married in three months! We leave on a once-in-a-lifetime trip tomorrow afternoon. Yet, here you are, fucking a whore on the sheets your mother gifted us at our engagement party!”
“Hey,” the blonde pipes up. I assume she’s going to defend herself against the derogative name I called her but am proven wrong when she stammers out, “I thought we were going to see the lights of Paree together, Snookie Bear?”
Her pout enhances the plumpness of her lips from sucking my fiancé dry, and they make me utterly ropeable. “Oh, go ahead, sweetheart. Go see the lights of Paree with him.” I overemphasize her nasally voice while trying my darndest to impersonate her bimbo attitude. “Just make sure you clean the smegma from his cock before further oral activities.” She swishes her tongue around her mouth when I murmur, “A buildup of dick secretions causes all sorts of nasty issues if you swallow too much of it.”
When I turn on my heel, Cedric leaps out of bed. “Jae…” His chase-down isn’t to beg for forgiveness. He wants to pinch the last of my nerve. “If you no longer want to go on our little getaway, perhaps I could take Rosha with me. She’s never seen Paris—”
“Neither have I!” My half Australian, half Korean heritage echoes in my ears when my shouted words bounce off the thick wooden walls of the cabin. “That’s why we were going to Paree.” I’ve never believed in physical violence, but before I can remind myself of that, my knee pops into Cedric’s groin in sync with my purse, whacking him up the side of the head. “And I’d rather rot in hell than ever let you use my Amex points.”
After a final sneer, I continue my exit.
In good judgment, Cedric lets me leave.
While galloping down the stairs of the cabin, I grumble my annoyance about both his inability to grovel and for stupidly discounting the numerous rumors the past six months about him sleeping with interns at Ravenshoe Private.
Although this estate has been in his family’s vault of properties for almost a decade, this is the first time I’ve traveled here. With the holiday of a lifetime already maiming my stingy heart, I suggested for Cedric to collect his ski equipment from the cabin instead of purchasing it new. I thought it would save us a couple of dollars. In reality, it saved me thousands.
Even annulments are expensive these days.
I’m glad I am so frugal. If I hadn’t been, every milestone I’ve achieved in the past ten years would have been null and void. I would have been back to square one.
My luck wanes when I slide into the driver’s seat of my convertible. Within a second of stabbing the start button, the playlist I created for our trip commences blaring out of the speakers. It’s brimming with heartfelt songs that tear my heart out as effectively as my tires shred up the salt Cedric’s family laid in preparation for his arrival.
Do they know he’s screwing a blonde-haired, blue-eyed hipster with an exotic name like Rosha in the master suite of their family cabin?
I bet they do.
Nothing gets past Cedric’s mother. She knew her beloved son was planning to propose even before he asked her advice on what type of ring someone like me would like.
In case you’re wondering, his swipe had nothing to do with my heritage. It was solely based on my intelligence.
According to Cedric’s mother, I’m not his type. He likes busty girls with air for brains—Rosha on tap—something I’ll never be even with me winning a handful of beauty contests during my teens. My green almond-shaped eyes paired with my father’s tanned skin gives me a distinct look not many mixed-race women have, and when added to the fact I’m a stickler for believing you are what you eat, I have unblemished skin that hides the fact I’m rarely seen without a book in my hand.
I don’t read romance novels like the nurses at Ravenshoe Private. I love a good fiction book, but non-fiction medical theses are more my jam. Summarizing a seemingly impossible surgical procedure was one of the rare things Cedric and I had in common. He loved a good hypothesis on the anomalies of the human anatomy as much as me.
He just took his research one step further by conducting his revisions on breathing specimens instead of cadavers.
As the scene I interrupted rolls through my head like a film in a movie projector, I exit the windy driveway of the Lancaster Winter Estate. The roads are extremely slippery but isolated. It’s almost midnight, so a lack of traffic is understandable, not to mention the fact that the Lancasters own almost every property from the foot of the mountain to its peak.
This region of Cataloochee is prime ski territory, and although you can ski at one of the many resorts located within the area, you won’t see the Lancasters sharing their splendor any time soon.
They value exclusivity even more than morals.
My eyes snap from the road to the radio in my Audi S5 when the song Cedric proposed to booms from the speakers. While endeavoring to switch the song to one about cheating spouses getting what they deserve, the moonlight bouncing off my engagement ring captures my attention. It’s a monstrosity of a ring that I happily stored in my locker at the beginning of every shift. It’s too large to wear with gloves, and since they’re a part of my personal protective equipment, I used them as my excuse not to wear a piece of jewelry that was meant to signify that Cedric and I were off the market.
God, I’m a fool.
How could I have not seen the signs sooner?
I’m not a first-year college student or a medical intern with no prior experience. I’m thirty-five years old, for crying out loud. I should have spotted Cedric’s game plan from a mile out.
I probably would have if I hadn’t been blinded by his handsome face and unblemished grin. It also doesn’t help that he was my first serious boyfriend. You don’t become the Chief Medical Officer of a world-renowned hospital just shy of your thirty-second birthday by scrolling dating app sites every night. I worked my butt off the past sixteen years, and what do I get for it? A cheating fiancé who wants to take his mistress on the global adventure you planned together.
As Cedric’s final words ring in my ears on repeat, and before I can yank off the ring that exposes all my flaws, I dig my cell phone out of my medical bag. While darting my eyes between the screen of my phone and the road, I log into the travel app our itinerary is saved in, then click on the link to check-in for our flight tomorrow.
I’m not going to Paris—I’d rather volunteer to do every colonoscopy for the next calendar year than surround myself with loved-up couples in one of the most romantic cities in the world—but I am sure as hell going to make sure Cedric doesn’t profit from my decade-long slog. I put in the hard yards to splurge on a trip of a lifetime, so only I can benefit from it.
My father’s favorite saying is that you’ll never hit a six with another man’s bat, so if Cedric wants to take Rosha to see the lights of Paree, he’ll need another batsman because his big hitter was just bowled out.
With my focus more on making sure I punch in the correct flight number than where I’m going, I don’t spot the deer and her fawn on the road until it’s too late to brake. I still do, but since I’ll still collide into them at a speed that would kill them, I yank on the steering wheel. A pop sounds from my back tire a second before the car I bought after I was awarded the position of surgeon at Ravenshoe Private Hospital, and I sail over the picturesque landscape instead of around it.
There’s no avoiding the collision I must inevitably face, so instead of bracing for impact, I send a silent prayer to God to make the suffering of my parents more bearable before I close my eyes and surrender to the peace engulfing me even faster than panic.
As the words of “Surrender Me” by Rise Up filter through my ears, the passenger side of my Audi impacts with the trunk of a massive pine tree. The jerking movement it rockets through my body forces my torso forward at a rate too fast for my seat belt to harness. I’m flung into the steering wheel a second before the collision twists my car around, so I travel the remaining three hundred feet backward.
Not knowing what’s coming makes the impact of my ribs against the steering wheel less noticeable, but nothing can take away from the blinding pain that radiates through me when the back half of my car is crumbled by a second tree trunk.
It shoves me so far forward, within seconds, I’m trapped between the steering wheel and my seat.
Then, not long after that, I black out due to excessive pain.