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The Six Month Arrangement

by Daisy Loveless

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION


Copyright 2019 by Daisy Loveless


This ebook is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, events and/or incidents are pure fiction or used in fictional settings. Any resemblance to actual people, living or deceased, places or events are coincidental and not purposely intended.


DISCLAIMER


This book contains graphic sexual scenes and vulgar language. It is intended for readers over the age of eighteen.


DEDICATION


I'd like to dedicate this book to the following.


To my mother, Monica, for starting as a young child, instilling into me the virtue of 'I can do anything I put my mind to.'

Mommy, Thank you for teaching me this. Without you driving me to be my best, I wouldn't have the courage to do this. I hope, as you look down on me from Heaven, you are proud of me.

CHAPTER ONE

August 22nd


“Erick, Are you ready yet?” Madison Whitaker yelled up the stairs in the penthouse she shared with her fiance, Erick Switzer. “The clerk said we have to be there by 3:30!”

“Yes, babe. I’m almost ready. Just getting my birth certificate. You got your divorce papers?” he yelled back down. Madison double checked the folder in her hands.

“Let me check. Birth Certificate, driver’s license, divorce papers, printed application...” she muttered as she looked. “Yes!”

“Great.” Erick said as he came down the bedroom’s stairs. “Okay, found it. What other id do they need?”

“Driver’s license.” Madison said as she shoved Erick’s birth certificate in the folder.

“Obviously got that in my wallet. Let’s go.” Erick said as he grabbed Madison’s hand, leading her out the door and down the hallway to the elevator.

Madison smiled as Erick took her hand. After three years, he still treated her like they were just starting to date. They met at an Ascending Rage concert after-party about 30 miles north of Madison’s home town of Bellmoral, Pennsylvania and they just hit it off. They called and texted each other nightly for the rest of that tour, and when the tour ended, Erick asked Madison to move in with him in New York City. Since then, Madison had accompanied Erick on the two subsequent tours and any other shows, having the freedom as a freelance writer to work wherever she wanted. When they were home, Madison spent her days in their penthouse, writing as Erick worked in the home studio they had. It worked out great for the two of them. They got to spend just enough time together where they didn’t drive each other insane… in a bad way at least. And if they did start to irk each other, they could go each other’s own way and relax until the annoyance subsided.

On the way to the City Clerk’s Office, Erick and Madison talked about the wedding plans they had already made and what still needed to be done. They had finalized the date, picked the venue and their attendants. Erick was having his bandmates and a few buddies from school as his groomsmen, and Madison asked a few of the girls she had gone to college with. They had decided to have Madison’s twin second cousins as the ring bearer and flower girl. Everything was done, except for final fittings of Madison’s dress, The men’s tuxedo fittings, making the complete payments on the venues and the actual invitations being mailed.

Erick and Madison arrived at the City Clerk’s Office at 3:28, making a mad dash for the clerk’s office. Skidding in at exactly 3:30, The clerk smiled.

“Erick and Madison, I take it?” she asked.

“Yes.” Madison huffed. “I’m sorry we’re late.”

“Oh, you’re fine. No worries. Now, you’re here for a marriage license, correct?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Erick said proudly. Madison smiled at how, even though his lyrics would have you think otherwise, Erick was a complete gentleman.

“Great. Do you need the application, or did you print one out?”

“We printed one out.” Madison said, sliding it out of her folder and handing it to the clerk. The clerk skimmed it slowly.

“Okay, Madison, You marked you’ve been divorced. Do you have the final decree of that?” the clerk asked.

“Yep, right here.” she replied, pulling it out. The clerk took it and looked at it as well. She scrunched her nose and side-eyed the couple.

“Will you excuse me? I need to check something.” The clerk said as she walked towards a back office.

“What the hell was that about?” Erick asked.

“Damned if I know.” Madison said. “Maybe because the decree was issued in Pennsylvania, it looks different than the New York ones?”

“I don’t see what that would have to do with anything. A divorce is a divorce, regardless of the state it was issued in.”

“I would think so.” Madison said as her phone’s text tone went off. Madison checked it and was typing a reply back when the clerk returned.

“I’m sorry for the wait, guys.” she said, handing the papers back. “I can’t issue your license.”

“Wait, what? Why?” Erick asked.

“Well, The problem is with Madison’s divorce. It’s not legal.”

“Look, just because it was issued in Pennsylvania, where I used to live, doesn’t mean...” Madison started, but the clerk held up her hand.

“Oh, that’s not the problem. The state doesn’t matter, and I worked in Philly before… I know what a Pennsylvania divorce decree looks like. The problem is, the signatures are not valid.”

“Yes, they are!” Madison said, showing the decree to the clerk. “See, Madison Harrissen and Jake Harrissen.”

“No, Jack Harrisson.” The clerk corrected her, pointing to the signatures. Madison’s eyes widened when she saw that, yes… her ex-husband had signed ‘Jack Harrisson’ on the paper.

“Why the fuck would he do that?” Madison muttered under the breath as Erick took the divorce papers from Madison.

“So, what...” Erick paused, trying to regain his composure. “does this mean, exactly?”

“Well, technically speaking, it means that Madison and Jake are still married, and a marriage license cannot be issued until the divorce decree is properly finalized, with proper signatures from both parties.” The clerk replied. “Madison, do you have any idea where Jake is?”

“Well,” Madison said slowly. “I have a ballpark idea. I’m not sure if he moved from the house we shared when we were married, but I know he was trying to start a home music production career there, and I don’t see him giving that up to move to a new town.”

“Okay, that’s a start. My suggestion would be to get a hold of Jake and ask him to refile these papers correctly. You MAY need to do a whole new divorce case, being it’s been ten years since the initial filing. But until the divorce is filed correctly, my hands are tied.”

“And how long will this take?” Erick asked.

“Depends. If Jake doesn’t contest the divorce and Madison asks for rush processing, four, six weeks tops? Being the couple has not been together for over a year, she can ask for a separation divorce, which requires a twenty-day wait. After that, if she asks for a rush processing, it would be another one to three weeks after that. If she doesn’t ask for rush processing, it could take another three to four months.” The clerk said.

“Okay.” Erick sighed, sliding an arm around Madison’s waist. “Thanks so much. I’m sorry we wasted your time.”

“Oh don’t worry about it… You saved me from tedious filing.” She laughed. ‘Good luck, guys.”

Madison followed Erick out of the office, a mixture of anger and sadness welling inside her. She was angry at Jake for pulling this stunt. How DARE he! What the hell would possess him to do this? She couldn’t think of any justifiable reason for it. The only reason she could come up with is that Jake was in a hurry and scribbled his name quickly, making it look like ‘Jack.’

She was also filled with sadness, because depending on how long this took, it may push things back with Erick. She didn’t want to wait to become Mrs. Erick Switzer. Granted, if she played her cards right, nothing would change. They were eight weeks out. She could get a hold of Jake, get the new divorce rolling with a rush, and even if it took the full six weeks, they’d still have two weeks to spare. Nothing would be affected.

Finally, Madison was angry at herself. Between being so excited when the papers finally came and enrolling in a local college for writing, she didn’t even notice the mistake in the signatures. She just saw what she thought was the name ‘Jake Harrissen’ and put the papers in her safe box.

“Madison, Sweets… did you hear me?” Erick asked. Madison sighed.

“No, Babe… I didn’t. Sorry.”

“I didn’t think so. I asked what you’re going to do now?”

“What do you think? I’m getting a hold of Jake and getting him to give me a fucking proper divorce! That’s AFTER I kick his ass for making me deal with this shit!” Madison said, folding her arms. Erick started chuckling. “What is so damn funny?”

“You’re so damn adorable when you’re angry.” Erick replied. Madison huffed.

“Glad you think so. Let’s get some takeout and go home. I’m too pissed to cook.”

“Alright, Sweets. Let’s go.” Erick said as he started the car.

CHAPTER TWO


Madison sat down at her computer that night, hoping her friend Valerie would be online or at least checking her email somehow. She opened her email and started typing.


Hey Valerie,


You online, or at least have access to a messenger? Need to talk to you and it’s VERY important.


Love you bish,

Madison


Madison kept going through her email when a box popped up.

‘Madison? Are you okay? WTF is going on?’ it read.

‘Me? Aside from being VERY pissed off, I’m just peachy!’ Madison wrote back.

‘Oh no… what happened?’

‘Well, let me start off like this. Does Jake still live around there?’

‘Jake? Jake Harrissen? Your ex?’

‘The one and only.’ Madison replied.

‘Yeah. He’s still in the same house you guys bought together, just added on to it for his business. Why? What’s this about?’

‘Remember about 8 1/2 years ago, when Jake and I decided we were too young to be married, so we filed for divorce?’

‘Yeah?’ Valerie replied.

‘Except… we didn’t.’

‘Wait… what? WTF you mean you didn’t? You showed me the papers. It was all legal.’

‘Yeah, no… Jake signed it as Jack Harrisson… making it invalid.’

‘That rat bastard.’ Valerie wrote.

‘Yeah, you’re telling me. So, You and Steven got plans this weekend?’

‘None that I know of, why?’

‘I’m thinking of making a trip.’ Madison wrote. ‘I think I’m going to make a personal trip to Jake’s house and confront his lying ass… after I kick it for him.’

‘LMAO! Okay, I’ll get the spare room ready for you guys.’

‘Awesome. Thanks, Val. Love you, bish!’

‘Love you more, bish! C-Ya Saturday!’

“Erick!” Madison yelled as she stood up. “Valerie’s making the spare room up for us!”

“Why?” he asked as he poured himself a cup of coffee.

“We’re going down this weekend to confront Jake.”

“Oh, Babe… I can’t go this weekend. My boys and I have the tux fittings.”

“Shit. Is that this weekend?” she asked, grabbing her phone and checking her planning app. “Fuck. You’re right.”

“Yeah… It’s the only weekend Rich has off from house shows until the wedding. We figured get all the boys together this weekend and do the fittings in one swoop.”

“Yeah, Yeah… I should have known that. It slipped my mind with this new monkey wrench thrown in the planning.”

Erick set his coffee down and wrapped his arms around Madison. “Sweets, It will be fine. You’ll go talk to Jake this weekend, file the papers Monday morning, wait the four to six weeks out, then we get married. Nothing is going to change things.”

“You’re right… but I’m just so pissed about this. We shouldn’t even be dealing with this shit.” Madison sighed. “I should be planning the final details, not hoping that the divorce goes through before our wedding date!”

Erick smiled. “Babe, it will be fine. Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.”

“You’re right.” Madison said as she pulled out of Erick’s arms and started dinner for them.


August 25th


“Now, you’re sure you can handle the fittings alright? I can just get Jake’s number from Valerie or find him on social media...’ Madison said Saturday morning as she climbed into her car. Erick nodded.

“Sweets, I’m sure we can get through the fittings just fine. You go take care of this with Jake, and I’ll see you Monday afternoon. Besides, if you put this off any later, the divorce might not go through in time.”

“You’re right.” Madison sighed. “Okay, Call me and let me know how it goes later, and I’ll call you after I talk to Jake.”

“Okay. Love you, Babe.” Erick said, leaning in and giving her a kiss. Madison smiled as they broke the kiss.

“Love you too.” she said as she started the car. About three hours later, she pulled into Valerie’s driveway. Valerie walked out onto the porch.

“Where’s Erick?” she asked.

“Home. I totally forgot this weekend was the tux fittings. His one groomsman only has this weekend off from work, so they all planned to do it this weekend.”

“And Erick let you come by yourself?”

“Yep. The quicker I get the ball rolling on this, the quicker the finalization will come through.” Madison said as she grabbed her suitcase. Valerie nodded.

“Well, Steven’s grilling out back, so come on in and put your suitcase away, then we’ll have drinks out back.”

“Sounds good to me. After the week I’ve had, I could use a few hundred stiff drinks.”

“Well, I don’t know about a few hundred of them, but I’m sure we could get a few in you.” Valerie said as they entered the house. Madison threw her suitcase on the bed in the spare room, then followed Valerie out onto the deck, where Valerie’s husband Steven was flipping burgers.

“There’s the second prettiest woman in the world!” Steven said as he kissed Madison’s cheek. “How have you been, girl?”

“Minus this horseshit, great!”

“And how’s Erick? Didn’t he come with you?”

“Nope, tux fittings this weekend.”

“Ahh yes… strange people knocking the junk around to see what size pants you wear, when you already told them what size you wear.”

“Steven Montano!” Valerie shrieked.

“What? It’s the truth, darlin! Any time I had to wear a tuxedo, the tailor played with my balls more than I did… only to find out I wore the same damn size I told him I did.”

“Jesus Christ, Steven...” Madison laughed as Valerie handed her a cold wine cooler. “Such classy talk.”

“Pffffffft.” Steven huffed. “Those words don’t belong in the same sentence, m’dear friend.”

“So, when are you going to go see Jake?” Valerie asked.

“Tomorrow. I’m hoping he’ll realize what the hell he did all those years ago and refile the correct way.”

“How long do you have until the wedding?” Steven asked Madison.

“Eight weeks.”

“Is that going to be enough time?” Steven asked as he put the burgers on a plate and carried them to the table.

“It should be. The city clerk told Erick and me that if I file for a separation divorce, it can take four to six weeks, depending on how backed up the courts are. Being we split up about eight and a half years ago, that kind of divorce should go right through.” Madison said as the three of them started assembling their burgers. “That’s why I’m hoping he’ll go with me Monday morning to file… or at least agree to sign properly this time. Get the paperwork going and get this done and over with as soon as possible.”

“How’s Erick taking all this?” Valerie asked.

“In stride.” Madison laughed. “He’s not stressing. He keeps assuring me things will work out.”

“And you?” Steven asked.

“All I can hope is that the courts aren’t backed up.” she said as she bit into her burger.

CHAPTER THREE


Madison stopped by the mailbox next to the driveway that would lead to her old house, just to calm her nerves. She knew she was here on strictly business, but deep in her stomach, she felt a twinge of nervousness. She hadn’t seen Jake in over eight years since the divorce was filed. The weekend after the paperwork was filed, she moved out and into Valerie’s bachelorette apartment until she found one of her own. After that, she enrolled in college, had gotten her Associates in English, became a freelance writer and hooked up with Erick, never once looking back. She loved her life, and had appeared in numerous high-profile publications, never once being even a tiny bit nervous… So why was she feeling the nervousness twinge now?

After a few deep calming breaths and reminding herself she was here to chew him out, She made the turn off the paved road and drove up the driveway she had driven up many times before when she was actually with Jake. The only change she saw along the path was the woods had filled in quite a bit. When they bought the house, it was mainly open fields, with sporadic trees and brush along the dirt path. Now, the foliage had filled out and Jake had had the driveway filled in with gravel.

Or had he? Madison stopped the car in the middle of the driveway. I know Valerie said he still lived here... but was she positive? I really don’t want to make a fool of myself by going to some random stranger’s house looking for the previous owner. Madison squared her shoulders. Valerie sounded absolutely sure Jake still lived here. The worst that could happen is there were new owners and she’d have to find Jake another way. Resolving her will, She stepped on the gas again and the car crept forward.

As Madison approached the house, She spotted Jake’s classic car under a tarp. Her nerves relaxed a little at the sight of the car. She remembered how much Jake wanted that car, and how they both scrimped and saved to have enough for the car. Jake was so happy when he made the purchase. A wistful smile crossed Madison’s lips as she remembered his proposal happening in the car.

Madison parked her car and took a few more deep breaths. I can do this, she repeated in her brain as she opened the car door and walked to the front door. With one final deep breath, she knocked on the door and waited. After a few minutes with no answer, she knocked again.

“Hold your ass!” a voice yelled from the other side of the door. “I’m coming!” Madison let a little giggle slip out as she heard footsteps.

Some things never change… Madison thought to herself as she heard the locks being opened.

“Yeah? What ya need?” Jake said as he opened the door. His eyes widened at the sight of Madison in front of him. “Madison? Wha… What are you doing here?”

“Well, nice to see you too, Jake.” she replied. “We need to talk… Now.”

“Yeah, sure. Come in. Can I get you something to drink? Coffee?”

“Actually, coffee would be great. Thanks.” Madison said as she entered the house. Jake motioned to the table.

“Have a seat and I’ll be back.” Jake said as he walked into the kitchen. Madison looked around as she waited. Nothing had really changed in the house. Same colors, same lights, same pictures… It was almost like the past ten years had never gone by.

“Here we go.” Jake said as he came back with two mugs of coffee. “You still take lots of cream and two sugars?”

“Yeah.” Madison said as she took the mug from Jake. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome. It’s been what, nine years since I’ve seen you? What brings you out here after all this time?”

“About nine and a half, actually. Our divorce is what brings me out here… or should I say, lack thereof.” she said as she reached in her purse and pulled out the divorce papers. “Jake, You signed these wrong. Jack Harrisson is not your name.”

Jake took the paperwork from Madison and looked at it, a sly smile appearing on his lips. “Yeah, I know I did.”

“You did this fucking intentionally?” Madison’s voice becoming shrill. Jake proudly nodded. “Why the fuck would you do this?”

“Do you remember what I told you when we were dating and we hit that rough patch?”

“Um… ha. No.”

“We had a huge fight one night, right after we graduated high school. You threatened to walk away and I told you that I was never giving up on us. You stopped right there and started crying, because, in your words, no one had ever said something that sweet to you. And I meant it… I’m never going to give up on us.”

“Well, Here’s the thing, Jake,” Madison said, taking a swig of her coffee, “I’m engaged to someone else and we’re getting married in about eight weeks. I NEED you to go with me tomorrow and file for a separation divorce and sign CORRECTLY this time. It’ll take six weeks tops...”

“No.”

“And then my fiancé and I can… wait, what did you say?”

“I said no. I’m not going to file for any divorce. I said I’m not giving up on us being together, and I meant it.”

“Jake, come on! This isn’t funny anymore. I need this divorce.”

“Well, good luck getting it. I’m not signing.”

“Fine, I’ll just get an uncontested divorce.”

“That takes four months. You won’t have it in time… and I will fight it.” Jake smirked.

“You’re getting a kick out of this, aren’t you?” Madison seethed. Jake shrugged.

“Actually, quite.”

“Un-fucking-believable.” Madison muttered as she stared into her cup. “Now fucking what?”

“I’ll make a deal with you, Madi.” Jake said, using the name he called Madison. “Give me six months.”

“What?”

“Give me six months. Live with me as husband and wife for six months. If you still want the divorce in six months, I’ll sign no-fault papers, no questions asked. If not, well… we keep living together as husband and wife.”

“Are you off your fucking rocker, Jake?” Madison asked. ‘My wedding date is in eight weeks!”

“Well, these are your choices… File the uncontested divorce and wait four months or give me six months and then get the no-fault divorce within six weeks. Either way, your wedding date is getting moved.”

“And what the hell am I supposed to tell Erick?”

“That, I frankly don’t give a damn. But those are your choices, Madi.” Jake said. Madison sighed.

“Look, I need to talk to Erick before I make any decisions. Are you going to be home tomorrow?”

“I’m home every day, except Wednesday. That’s when I do errands.”

“Fine. I’ll be back tomorrow sometime with my decision.” Madison said as she swallowed the last of her coffee. She stood up and started walking toward the door, shoving the divorce paperwork back into her purse.

“I’m looking forward to hearing it, Madi.” Jake said as he walked her to the door. Madison huffed as she stalked to her car, slamming the door as she climbed in. Jake smirked from the porch, waving as he did so. Madison scowled as she flipped him the bird. She then started her car and sped back down the driveway.


“He seriously gave you an ultimatum?” Valerie asked as the three of them sat down to lunch. Madison nodded.

“Yep… File the uncontested divorce and wait four months or live with him for six months as husband and wife and then get the no-fault divorce within six weeks. Either way, the wedding date has to be moved.”

“Why the hell is he pulling this shit?” Steven asked.

“Because he’s a fucking asshole?” Madison spat. “Honestly, I have no fucking clue. Apparently, back when we were dating, we hit a rough patch.”

“Ohh, I remember that.” Valerie said. “You guys fought nearly every other day. What happened?”

“With what?”

“Going from fighting all the time to getting married?” Valerie asked.

“Well, I guess after one of the really BAD fights, I threatened to just walk away. Jake told me he was never giving up on us as a couple, and well… he fucking meant it.”

“I think that’s kind of sweet.” Steven said.

“Yeah, apparently so did I, because I started crying and we worked things out. A few weeks later, he proposed, and I said yes.”

“C’mon, Madison...” Steven said. “Someone knows how much you guys were fighting and he was hell-bent on you two staying together? And now, after nine years, he’s STILL refusing the divorce? He’s got a LOT of love for you, girl.”

Madison just side-eyed Steven. “Do I look amused?”

“So, what are you going to tell Erick?” Valerie asked.

“Damned if I know. The truth, I guess. Like I said, either way, our wedding date has to be changed. I just don’t know which way would be easier.”

“Sounds like Jake has you over a barrel.” Valerie said. Madison nodded.

“Pretty much.” she agreed. “I know I said I was going home tomorrow afternoon, but I think I’m going home today to talk Erick… See what he says.”

“And then what?” Steven asked.

“Well, depending on what he says, I’ll either be back to file an uncontested divorce or I’ll be back for six months.”

“I still can’t believe he gave you a damn ultimatum.” Valerie said.

“Part of me wants to be surprised myself, but I’m actually not.” Madison said as she ate. After she finished her lunch, she put her plates in the dishwasher, then went to get her suitcase. She sighed as she reached the bottom step.

“Well, I’ll either stop in for coffee tomorrow, or I’ll be here longer.” she said as she hugged both Steven and Valerie. With that, she wheeled her suitcase out to the car and drove off.


“Sweets! What are you doing home?” Erick asked as Madison shut the penthouse door.

“We need to talk.” Madison said.

“Uh oh. This doesn’t sound good.”

“No, It’s not. Jake’s refusing the divorce.”

“He’s what? Why?”

“Because… when we were just dating, we hit a rough patch and after one of the really BAD fights, I threatened to just walk away. Jake told me he was never giving up on us as a couple, and well… he fucking meant it.”

“Did you tell him we’re getting married in eight weeks?”

“Yep.” Madison said. “Doesn’t matter to him. He gave me a fucking ultimatum.”

“Which is?”

“File the uncontested divorce and wait four months or live with him for six months as husband and wife and then get the no-fault divorce within six weeks. Either way, the wedding date has to be getting moved… and I don’t know which way to go.” she said as she walked into the kitchen.

Erick sighed. “Well… Hmmm. Maybe it would be better if you did the six months choice.”

Madison spun on her heels and glared at Erick. “Has everyone lost their motherfucking minds around here?”

“No, Hear me out, Sweets… Do the six months. He already said he’ll sign with no questions asked. Even if you file for the uncontested divorce, he can fight it anyways… which may drag it out even longer. The six months deal is actually the cleaner and the quicker of the two.” Erick explained as he walked up to her. Madison sighed.

“Never thought about it that way. So, you’re cool with us living apart for six months?” she asked.

“I really don’t have a choice here, but if it gets the divorce we want, then we’ll have to do what we have to do.”

Madison hugged Erick tightly. “You are the best fiancé a girl could ask for. I guess I need to go pack and tomorrow, drive back and give Jake my answer.”

“I’ll help you, and then we’ll go out for pizza or something.”

“Okay. You have no clue how much I love you, Erick.”

“I love you too, Madison.” he said as they kissed.

CHAPTER FOUR


Madison shut the trunk to her car and sighed. In the last two and a half years, she’d never spent more than a weekend away from Erick. Now here she was, packing her life up for the next six months to go live with a guy she hadn’t lived with in over eight years. Her emotions ran the gamut from annoyed to nervous.

Erick walked out of the building with one final box, a suitcase, and Madison’s laptop backpack. He loaded everything into her backseat, then handed Madison her purse.

“Is that everything?” she asked sadly. Erick nodded.

“Yep, everything you wanted to take.” Erick replied.

“Okay, I guess… I guess I’m off then.” Madison said as she fought back a sniffle. Erick pulled her in for a hug.

“Sweets, Don’t cry. It’s for six months. It’ll fly by before we know it.”

“I know… but I have SO much work ahead of me this week for our wedding… talking to the venues and the vendors, hoping they will just hold our deposits and will still work with us… Telling my girls that the date is up in the air… So much to do. Plus, this is the longest I’ve been away from you since we moved in together.”

“Sweets, You just worry about telling your girls. I’ll handle the venues and the vendors.”

“But you don’t have the info… I will.”

“Hey, he said you had to LIVE with him for six months. He never said you couldn’t still talk to me. When you get a chance, email me a list of the numbers I’ll need to call. I’ll call them and take care of everything for you.”

“Erick, I meant what I said last night.” Madison said as she hugged him. “You are the best fiancé a girl could ask for. Thank you so much!”

“Hey, it’s my wedding too. I can do some stuff for it. Besides, I know this is going to seem like an eternity of being apart but think of the end goal. You get the divorce from Jake, and then we can finally get married and everything falls into place.”

“You’re right.” Madison nodded.

“I know I am. Now, you better get going. It’s Sunday. There’ll be a lot of Sunday Drivers on the road.”

“Okay, Erick.” Madison said as she leaned up for a kiss. Erick kissed her back and then let her go, opening the car door for her. She climbed in and smiled as she shut the door.

“I’m really going to miss you, Erick.”

“I’m going to miss you too, Sweets. But there’s email, chat, text, calls… As I said, it’ll fly by before you know it.”

“Okay, I better get going. I’ll email you that list when I’m settled in and at least that stuff is unpacked.”

“Okay, Sounds good. I love you, Madison.”

“I love you too, Erick. See you later.” Madison said as she started her car and drove off.


Three hours later, she pulled into Jake’s driveway in Bellmoral and stopped the car. She was still pissed off about Jake’s ultimatum, but she knew Erick was right. Six months isn’t REALLY that long… that’s about how long it was before Erick asked me to move in with him… and I thought he was moving too quick then.

Madison let out one final sigh before pushing the gas pedal once more and continuing down the driveway. The further she drove, the more her anger dissipated and was replaced by nervousness, which turned to annoyance just as quick. Why did she keep becoming nervous any time she was going to see Jake? She was married to him for fuck’s sake. It’s not like she didn’t know what to expect by living with him.

Madison finally pulled near the house and shut her car off. There were lights on in the house and she could smell grilling odors coming from the backyard. Madison didn’t hear voices, so she followed the scent of the grill. She found Jake on the back deck, beer in hand and flipping meats over charcoal.

“Jake?” she called.

“Out here, Madi!” he yelled back. Madison walked up onto the deck, her feet crossing to stand next to Jake without realizing it.

“Think you made enough?” she quipped. Jake smiled.

“I usually grill a lot ahead of time, so I can just pop something in the microwave quick during the week.” he replied. “I really don’t have too much time to cook during the week, so I usually just grab some ‘leftovers’ when I get hungry.”

“It works.”

“So, have you made a decision?”

“Yeah. Six months. Then you sign, no questions, no fuck ups. You sign your legal name and the divorce goes through.”

“I told you if you’d give me the six months, I would sign. And I don’t go back on my words.”

“Yeah, obviously.”

Jake snickered at Madison’s comment. “There’s an extra plate in the house. I’ll go get it if you can just keep an eye on this.”

“Yeah, sure.” Madison said as Jake ducked inside the house.

“Hey, Madi? Want a beer?”

“Sure.” she called back. Jake came back out with three plates and two beers.

“Want to eat outside or inside?”

“It’s nice out. Might as well eat out here.”

‘Okay, Take these, please. I’ll have to grab the buns and the condiments.”

“Okay.” Madison said as she took the plates and beers from Jake. She set a plate near the grill and then took the others to the picnic table. Jake came back with a tray holding the various condiments. He placed it on the table, then took the meat off the grill. He then brought the plate to the table and sat down. Madison followed suit.

“So, what did you tell Enoch?”

“Erick… My fiancé's name is Erick, and I told him the truth. He’s actually the one that told me to give you the six months.”

“Well, he does have some brains.”

“Haha. Funny. He’s actually pretty smart.”

Jake grunted. “So, what does this Erick do?”

“He’s the guitarist for Ascending Rage.” Madison replied.

“Huh. I think I mastered some of their stuff last year.”

“Wow. Small world.”

“So, what do you do, Madi?”

“I’m a freelance writer.”

“That’s cool.” Jake said. “You always did love the written word.”

“Pays well too.”

“So does the music world.”

“Yeah… I know that.”

The rest to the meal was spent making small talk between them. As Madison finished the last swig of her beer, she looked at Jake.

“I’m going to bring in a few things tonight. I told Erick I’d email him some things to take care of for the wedding. Is there a spare bedroom for me?”

“Well, there is, but usually husbands and wives don’t sleep in separate bedrooms.” Jake smirked.

“Oh no… You didn’t say that was part of the deal, Jake.”

“Technically, I did. I said live with me as husband and wife for six months. That was included.”

Madison sighed. “There’s no getting around this, is there?”

“Nope.”

“Fine.” Madison huffed. “But NO funny business. I’m only doing this to get the divorce.”

“No intentional funny business. I’m not responsible for what I do in my sleep. I may accidentally brush your ass.”

“Whatever. I still need a bedroom for an office. When I write, I need my own space. I can’t be distracted by any outside stuff.”

“Understood. We can share my office or you can take one of the other bedrooms.”

“Well, hell… If you have the room, I’ll just set up a table in your office.”

“Nah, Just take over my old desk. I bought a bigger one last year and the older one is just holding junk papers and stuff. I can put them into a box and go through them later.”

“Okay… Thanks, Jake.”

“Not a problem, Madi.” He said as he smiled. Madison’s breath caught in her throat, but she quickly feigned a yawn.

“I’m… I’m going to go get what I need for tonight.” Madison said as she rushed for the deck steps. Once she was around the corner, she shook her head.

‘Madison, the fuck is wrong with you?’ she scolded herself. ‘You said it yourself; you’re only doing this for the divorce. Six months and you’re out of here.’ She grabbed her laptop backpack and one of her suitcases, hoping it was one that had underwear in it. She locked her car and walked back to the house, going back up on the deck and into the house. Jake met her as she entered.

“Come on… I’ll show you to the office and clean that desk off for you.”

“Okay.” Madison said as she followed Jake. Jake quickly cleaned off the desk and then stepped away from the desk.

“There you go. Let me know when you’re set up. I’ll get you the wifi password then.”

“Okay, Jake. Thank you.”

“Sure thing.” Jake said as he walked out of the room. Madison quickly set up, then called for Jake. Once the wifi password was on her system and she was online, she emailed Erick the info about the vendors, then put her system to sleep, like she did every night. She wandered out to find Jake watching TV.

“Anything good?”

“Just watching a movie about a serial killer.” Jake replied. Madison slumped down next to him. They watched the rest of the movie in silence. Jake turned to Madison after the movie ended.

“Hey, Madi...” he trailed off when he realized Madison was fast asleep on the arm of the couch. He chuckled to himself as he shut the TV off and picked Madison up.

“Come on, Madi… Let’s go to bed.” Jake said as he carried her to his bedroom. He gently stripped her of her clothes, leaving her in just her bra and panties, then tucked her into the bed. He then stripped to his sweats and climbed in next to her. He kissed her cheek and she smiled slightly in her sleep.

“Good night, Madi.” Jake whispered as he shut the light off and turned over.

Madison woke up the next morning, curled into a warm body and her head on a male chest. She snuggled closer to the body, following the chest up and expecting to give Erick a kiss. She stopped short when she saw Jake’s sleeping face.

“What the hell is going on here?” Madison exclaimed, rousing Jake from his sleep.

“Well, good morning to you too, wifey.” Jake answered, rubbing the sand from his eyes.

“I’m serious, Jake! What the hell is going on here?”

“You fell asleep last night while we were watching the movie. I picked you up and carried you to bed.”

“Okay, let me re-fucking-phrase the question. How the hell did I end up in your arms, using your chest for a pillow?” Madison said, now sitting up in the bed. She then looked down, seeing her bare stomach. She gasped and pulled the blankets up higher. “And where are my clothes?”

“Madi, Relax…” Jake said, chuckling. “Trust me, I’ve seen you in a lot less than just your bra and undies.”

“Not the point, asshole! Now, answer my question… How the hell did I end up in your arms, using your chest for a pillow?”

“You snuggled up to me, mumbling something about being cold. I wrapped my arm around you, and you just leaned into me.” Jake said as he got out of bed.

“This is un-fucking-believable.” Madison said, glaring at Jake. “Could you please leave, so I could at least get my shirt on?”

“Madison, I’ve already told you… I’ve seen you in a lot less than just your bra and undies. Just get out of bed.”

“GET OUT!” Madison shrieked as she threw a pillow at Jake. He chuckled as she missed him completely.

“Fine, Fine, I’m going… I’ll start the coffee.” He said as he left the room. Madison sighed as she flopped back onto the bed.

“Unreal… just unreal.” she muttered before throwing the covers back and getting out of bed.

CHAPTER FIVE


Seven weeks, six days later – October 20th


“Damn him anyway!” Madison mumbled as she tossed her phone to the side on the couch. Jake walked into the living room, plopping down between Valerie and her.

“Still no reply?” he asked. Madison shook her head.

“Nope. I’ve called. I’ve left voicemails. I’ve texted him. Hell, I’ve even emailed him. Nothing.” she sighed. “I mean, I know today’s a touchy day… for both of us. But I would think I’d be the LAST one he’d be ignoring today.”

“When did he start ignoring you?” Valerie asked. Madison grabbed her phone, scrolling through her text messages.

“About two weeks ago. Usually, he replies within minutes. But then, he started taking fifteen, twenty minutes to reply, then the time just started getting longer and longer, to where it was about a day before he’d reply. Not counting today’s attempts, I haven’t heard from him in three days.”

“He didn’t change his number, did he?” Jake asked. “Like, someone is harassing him, and he had to change it?”

“Nope… not unless he didn’t give it to his own bandmates. On Thursday, I texted the drummer, Bryan, to ask him that very question, and Bryan said he had just talked to him earlier that day… Although, even Bryan acted strangely in the text.”

“How so?”

“He asked me why I was asking him that… I should have his number. When I told him that I had tried to get a hold of him in every way imaginable minus driving the three hours to the city, that’s when he told me he had talked to Erick that day. But he never asked me about why I wanted to talk to Erick or anything.”

“You sure it’s not your phone?” Valerie asked.

“Yep, Positive. I called you this morning to invite you over!” Madison answered.

“True. Then, What the hell?” Valerie said.

“Fuck if I know.” Madison replied. Steven walked into the living room, sipping on a cup of coffee.

“You know what we should do? Get Madison’s mind off of today and the bullshit Erick is pulling. Let’s go to our old stomping grounds for a few beers.”

“That sounds good!” Madison said, getting up off the couch. “Christ, I haven’t been to McPherson’s in… shit, since about a month before we filed.”

“Hmmm… about that, yeah.” Jake chimed in. “We went for one of the last ‘date nights’ we had before things ‘went south on your end.’” Madison scowled at Jake.

“Really? You’re going to go there today, dude?”

“Okay, Okay… No fighting, you two.” Steven said, glaring at the both of them. “We’re supposed to be cheering Madison up, not starting an argument. Let’s just get our coats and stuff and go have a good time.”

“Yeah, you’re right.” Jake said, sighing. “I’m sorry, Madi. I didn’t mean to make a jab at you.”

“It’s fine, Jake. No harm, no foul.” Madison said as she waved her hand. Jake smiled at Madison as the four of them slipped on their shoes and left.


“Man, for a Saturday night, this place is empty.” Jake said as they pulled into McPherson’s parking lot.

“Yeah, Somebody said things have died down here over the past few months. I think they said it’s because that new club, Sketch, opened up in Fairdon. Everyone goes there now.” Valerie said as Steven parked the car. “I guess now the only ones that come here are the now-old men that sat at the bar all the time when we’d come here.”

“Man, that’s a shame.” Madison replied. “We had SO many good times here when we were teenagers.”

“That we did.” Valerie said as they got out. Going inside, They saw their old classmate, Colleen, behind the bar.

“Hey Guys!” she said brightly as they walked up to the bar. “Holy shit, Madison Whitaker! I haven’t seen you since your wedding to Jake! Heard you guys got divorced and you were going to marry Erick Switzer?”

“Not divorced… exactly.” Madison replied slowly. “It’s… a mess.”

“Well, it can’t be TOO messy… you guys are here together.” Colleen smirked. Madison smiled weakly.

“It’s… complicated. Let’s leave it there.”

“Okay, Okay… got it.” she said, tossing the bar rag underneath the bar. “What can I get you guys?”

“Four on-tap beers and… you guys still serve meals?” Steven asked.

“Sure do! Jorge is Head cook now.”

“Oh, shit!” Madison said, grinning. “I used to LOVE Jorge’s Bacon Ranch Wraps! He still making them?”

“Sure is!” Colleen said. “You want one?”

“Hell. Yes.” Madison said. ‘They were so good!”

“Fries with it?”

‘Of course!”

“Does anyone else want a meal while I’m putting Madison’s order in?” Colleen asked. The other three told Colleen what they wanted, and she walked away to turn the order in. After a few minutes, she returned, grabbing 4 pilsner glasses. Colleen put the glasses on the bar as she filled them.

“Here you go, folks… 4 on tap beers and your meals should be out soon.”

“Thanks, Colleen.” Valerie said as she took a sip.

Within a few minutes, Jorge was ringing the server bell. “Colleen! Meals are up! Vamonos!”

“Chill it, Jorge… we have ten customers. Not like we have a crowd!” she laughed as she grabbed the plates, bringing them to the bar.

“Here you are.” Colleen said as she passed the plates out. Steven glanced up at the TV and noticed Ascending Rage on the screen.

“Hey, Colleen… Turn that up!”

“Yeah, sure.” she replied as she realized it was Erick.

“And in other Ascending Rage news, It’s official, you guys. Erick Switzer is off the market! Erick married his longtime girlfriend Tawny Kilgore early this afternoon in a double ring ceremony in New York City. The couple has been dating for two and a half years. The couple leaves tomorrow for a 15-day-long honeymoon in the Maldives. Congratulations to the happy couple! Coming up after the break...” The TV blasted.

A haunting hush fell over the bar as Colleen shut the TV off. Madison just stared at the TV as it faded to dark.

“What the FUCK?” She roared after about a minute. Everyone in the bar jumped back as she slammed her hands on the bar. “Fucking bastard!!”

With that, Madison tore away from the bar, sprinting outside. Valerie called her name as she started to go after Madison, but Jake stopped Valerie.

“No, let me go… I know what will calm her down quickly.”

“Okay, if you’re sure, Jake...”

“Absolutely positive.” Jake said as he headed out the door. He found Madison slumped on the edge of the deck, her head hung. Jake sat down next to her.

“Why?” she muttered quietly before a sob racked her body. Jake jumped off the deck, pulling Madison into his arms.

“I don’t know, Dimples. I just don’t know.”

“He cheated on me nearly the entire time.” Madison choked out between sobs. She wrapped her arms around Jake’s neck, clinging to him as she cried. All Jake could do was pull her closer and let her cry. He kept stroking Madison’s hair as her tears fell.

After about ten minutes, Madison’s sobs had turned to quiet whimpers. She pushed herself away from Jake, taking a deep breath and wiping her cheeks.

“I’m a complete mess.” she mumbled. Jake wiped the last few tears off her cheeks.

“You’re still beautiful to me, Dimples.” he whispered. Madison let out a single laugh as she looked at Jake.

“Streaked mascara, snot all over my nose, splotchy cheeks and red, puffy lips… Oh, yeah… I’m fuckin’ gorgeous.”

“You could have severely infected acne and you’d still be gorgeous to me.” Jake said. “Why don’t we go inside, Valerie can go into the bathroom with you and help you clean up while I have Colleen pack our meals up, and we’ll go home? Sound good?”

All Madison could do was nod as she grabbed the railing to pull herself up. Jake ran up the steps to help her up. He slid an arm around Madison’s shoulders as they walked inside the bar.

“Madison, you okay?” Colleen asked as the two of them reached the bar.

“No… Not really.” Madison mumbled as she sniffled.

“Hey, Valerie, Could you take Madi to the bathroom and help her wash up?” Jake asked.

“Yeah, Of course!” Valerie said as she took Madison from Jake and walked her to the bathroom. Once inside, Madison looked at herself in the mirror.

“I was right… I’m a complete mess!”

“It’s no big deal, honey… I’d be wondering what’s wrong if you weren’t a mess!” Valerie replied as she ripped off a handful of brown paper and wet it. “Wipe.”

Madison swiped at her cheeks and nose, the black smudges fading with each run of the soggy paper. Every so often, Valerie would trade blackened wads for clean paper, and after a few minutes, Madison’s face was returned to clean.

“Feel better?” Valerie asked. Madison shrugged.

“I don’t know about better, but I don’t feel like a hot mess anymore.”

“So, now what?”

“What do you mean?” Madison asked.

“Well, technically you don’t have a place in New York City now.” Valerie quipped. “Some hoe-ass bitch is probably living there.”

“Bitch better not be. I’m still on the lease of that motherfucking penthouse!” Madison spat. “Seriously, though… I don’t know what the fuck I’m going to do. Part of me wants to find that fuckface and his little whore and fuck them both up. Another part says not to be so rash in making decisions.”

“Go home tonight. Sleep on it. The rat fink bastard and his hoe are leaving for the Maldives tomorrow. Call your landlord in the morning and arrange to get your stuff before they get back if you have anything out there yet.”

“Just my ‘winter’ clothes and my writing awards. Being it’s summer, I just brought my lighter clothes.” Madison said. “But the fucker got his wish.”

“Huh?”

“He wanted to go to the Maldives for our honeymoon. I talked, or at least I thought I talked him into going to Maui, because I didn’t want to deal with the whole traveling bullshit of a major plane, then a speedboat to the resort. Plus, it was SUPER expensive. At least on Maui, it’s a direct flight and was cheaper. He’s getting his way on that anyway.”

“Who paid for it? Both of you or…?”

“Nope. He did. He said he’d take care of it. His words were: ‘You have enough on your hands with the actual wedding. I’ll book and plan the honeymoon.’ Only thing I said was to make sure it’s an all-inclusive place in Maui. He said he would.”

“That stupid fucker. Well, like I said… Go home tonight. Sleep on it. Decide tomorrow, when you have a clearer head.”

“Yeah. That sounds like a plan. I’m just sorry I made you pay for the bridesmaid dress. If I’d known...” Madison said as they headed for the bathroom door.

“No worries.” Valerie said as they exited. “Steven has this work party coming up in November… some sort of charity fundraising thing his company is involved in. I can just wear it then. I actually was going to do that anyway, so I’m really not out any money.”

“Madi, you ready to go home?” Jake asked as the two girls reached the bar. “Colleen boxed everything up for us.”

“Yeah. I guess.”

Jake pulled Madison into a tight hug, kissing the top of her head. “Everything will be okay.”

Madison merely nodded as she broke out of Jake’s embrace and grabbed the Styrofoam box. “Thanks for boxing this up, Coll.”

“Yeah, sure. Not a problem. Don’t be strangers around here, guys.” She called out as the four headed for the door. They drove back to Jake’s place in silence. No one spoke again until Jake and Madison got out of Steven’s car.

“Want us to stay with you?” Valerie asked. Madison shook her head.

“Nah, you guys go home. I’m just going to go inside, eat what we brought home and go to bed. Forget this day ever fucking happened.”

“Alright. Call me tomorrow.”

“Will do. Love you, bish. Thanks for being there tonight.”

“You’re welcome. Love you more, bish.” Valerie said as they hugged through the window. Madison stood up and started walking backward to the house as she waved. Jake caught up to her and slid his arm around her shoulders as Steven turned around and drove down the driveway.

“Come on, Dimples. Let’s go in and eat.”

“Okay.” she replied as they turned and started walking to the house. Once inside the house, Madison slumped down at the table and rested her forehead on her arms, sighing heavily. “I’m not even fucking hungry now.”

“You ought to try and eat something, hun. You didn’t eat all day.” Jake said as he sat down next to her.

“I know, but my appetite is just gone.” she said, sitting up. She grabbed the Styrofoam box and popped it open, picking at the fries. Jake looked over at her and smiled sympathetically.

“Okay, come on.” he said, closing both boxes and stacking them on top of one another. “Let me put these away and we’ll go to bed.”

Madison just nodded as Jake stood up and took the two Styrofoam boxes in the refrigerator, then came back to the table.

“Ready?” he asked.

“Yeah.” she sighed as she stood up, heading up the hall. Jake made sure the lights were off, then he followed Madison’s footsteps. They changed in silence in the bedroom, crawling into bed at the same time. Madison was the first one to speak.

“Jake?” she whispered as Jake turned off his lamp.

“Yeah?”

“Can I ask a favor?”

“Anything, Dimples. You know that.”

“Can you… ah, Never mind.”

“Don’t give me that ‘never mind’ shit. What is it?”

“Can you… cuddle me like you used to? I… I just need to be held tonight.”

“Absolutely.” Jake said, shifting behind her. He slid an arm around her waist, pulling her close to him. He kissed the back of her neck and Madison tensed, then relaxed when she heard Jake settling down into the pillows. “Good night, Madi. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“Good night, Jake.” She replied as she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.

CHAPTER SIX


10 days later – October 30th


Madison threw the remote onto the end table and sighed as she snuggled deeper into the couch, cradling her cereal bowl. She had been taking up residence on that couch all week, thankful for having told her clients that she would be on her honeymoon. The only time she left the couch was to go to the bathroom and to get something to eat, which was often some sort of junk food. The only time she had left the house was when Jake dragged her on his weekly grocery shopping trip with him, and even that was a chore for her.

Jake came out of the studio and locked the door behind him. “Madi, get dressed.”

“Why? Where are you lugging me to this time?”

“New York.”

“Huh?”

“I’m borrowing my dad’s pickup. We’re going to get your stuff. You did call your landlord, right?”

“Yeah.” she said. “He said to call before I come out and he’ll meet me in the lobby. His exact words were ‘If he won’t let you in, he HAS to let me in, and I can bring whoever I want with me.’ So I know I’ll get my stuff.”

“Okay, get dressed and then, call him. Tell him we’ll be there in about 3 hours. You need to get out of the house.”

“But, Jake...”

“Don’t Jake me. That asshole is still on honeymoon with his hoe bag. Now just as good as time as any to get your stuff.”

“Fine.” Madison huffed, carrying her now-empty bowl to the dishwasher. She threw on a clean pair of jeans and a t-shirt, calling the landlord on her way out the door. They drove to Jake’s parents’ house to get his dad’s truck, with Jake’s mom fawning all over Madison.

“Meredith, leave the poor girl alone!” Jake’s dad scolded. “She’s had a pretty traumatic week.”

“Oh, shut up, Dennis. This is exactly what she needs!” Meredith shot back.

“It’s fine, Mr. Harrissen.” Madison said, hugging her mother-in-law for what seemed like the hundredth time that day.

“What’s this ‘Mr. Harrissen’ shit, Madison?” Dennis asked, fishing out the truck keys. “You’re still married to Jake. We’re still Mom and Dad.”

“I know, but I haven’t been with Jake for a long time. It feels weird calling you guys Mom and Dad still.”

“Even if you guys still get divorced, we’re still going to look at you as our daughter. You’ve been a part of this family for thirteen years.” Dennis said, handing the keyring to Jake.

“Madi, this family is like the mob.” Jake said, sliding an arm around her shoulders. “Once you’re in, you’re in for life. Thanks for the keys, Dad. I’ll bring it back as soon as we get everything unloaded from it.”

“No rush, son. Take your time.” Dennis said, giving Jake a hug. He then moved to Madison, giving her a hug. “Come see us more often, Madison.”

“I’ll try.” she said, breaking the hug and then moving to hug Meredith. “Maybe you guys can come over next weekend and we can go do something?”

“We’d love that!” Meredith exclaimed. “Have a cookout and then go mini-golfing?”

“Sounds great!” Jake said, hugging his mom. “Alright, we better get going. We still have a three-hour drive ahead of us, and then loading the truck and the drive back. We’ll be lucky if we get home by midnight tonight.”

“Okay. Drive safely.” Meredith said as Jake and Madison climbed into the truck cab and pulled out of the driveway.

Three hours later, Jake pulled up in front of the building Madison lived in. Madison pointed to a parking space as she dug into her purse. She slid a card on the rear view mirror.

“Here, let’s just use my parking placard. I’ll have to return it to the landlord before we leave, but it’ll be easier to load the truck being parked right here.”

“Sounds good.” Jake said as he looked out his side mirror and after making sure no cars were coming, opened the door, climbing out. He went around and helped Madison out. They walked into the building lobby, meeting the landlord by the elevator.


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