Excerpt from Chemical Reaction:
Joe trekked to his car and drove to his apartment. He carried all of the gift bags, her stuffed Saint Bernard, her suitcase, and his duffle bag to the elevator. He met the head of maintenance as he stepped onto the third floor. Too tired to confront him about opening his apartment to Victoria without his consent, he silently let himself inside and dropped everything in the middle of the room.
He loved his home. His sisters had helped decorate it. He and his brother-in-law, Stuart, hung out and played video games. But tonight, his apartment was an empty shell. He understood why Madeline hadn’t stayed. To have her find a woman in his bed was not how he wanted to start their new life together. Would they have a life together?
In the bathroom, he scrubbed Madeline’s ring and necklace with a spare toothbrush until every bit of soot had been removed. After a shower, he slipped the ring onto the necklace and then put it around his neck hoping to feel her energy. He felt despair. His or hers?
Opening the bedroom door, he saw the unmade bed and a red stiletto on the floor by his blinking answering machine. With a groaning shout, he ripped the comforter, sheets, and mattress pad off the bed and threw them into a pile. Not caring who had left messages, he flung the machine across the room. It hit the wall and shattered. Sitting on the naked mattress, he bent over and rubbed his eyes in frustration.
Was this payback for his past transgressions? As a player over the years, he had hurt many women. Now, all of their pain, hate, and sorrow hit him in the chest with such a profound force he had to gasp for a breath. Bitter anguish gnawed at his heart as he thought about ruining the only relationship he wanted, needed, craved, and may never have. Without her in his life, he didn’t think he could recover. He wasn’t sure he wanted to. Joe slid to the floor and cried.
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