I have been posting my novel, bit by bit, on Wattpad.
Read the first chapter here. Follow the rest on Wattpad!
Everyone is lying.
Beautiful Things is the story of a relationship scarred by infidelity and insecurity, and another burdened by a volatile past and misplaced loyalty.
This sensual tale told through multiple points of view, revels in the struggle to be seen and loved by our partners, and the dangerously slippery slope seeking to fulfill those needs can create.
I hope you enjoy this tale of obsession and betrayal in a small town.
“I don’t know how many more sessions I can go to,” Juliet complained.
Kristianne MacKenzie looked Juliet over in the mirror, her lips pursed in frustration. “We’ve been over this, babe. I know it’s hard. I really do. I don’t know what else to say, honestly.” Kristianne turned and headed to the shower.
Juliet stood before the mirror, contemplating how they got here.
Married for five years, the truth of Kristianne’s betrayal came out in an innocent, almost humorous way. Humorous for others, humiliating for Juliet.
Since then, Kristianne had sworn her devotion. She promised to attend therapy and would do anything to make Juliet feel valued again.
Juliet feared she would never feel that way again. Valued.
She thought things had returned to normal, but the secrecy began again. The solo trips, working overtime – all elements present during the affair. Things were supposed to be different.
Juliet left the bedroom to attend to their crying five-month-old son in the nursery down the hall. She had to admit, things were not the same. There was a huge change in their lives. While Aidan was certainly not a surprise, the changes to their lives were unexpected and dramatic.
It wasn’t worth getting into an argument. Kristianne would be leaving soon, and Juliet would be left home, alone, with the baby.
Kristianne got to work out her frustrations by engaging in intelligent conversation with other adults. Whereas Juliet, left to voice her frustrations to Aidan, could receive no more advice or encouragement than the occasional coo or gurgle.
She had no choice but to attend the session and wait for her worst fears to be confirmed.
It was seven o’clock in the morning, and Juliet was thankful Aidan was sleeping through the night. Those first few months were more difficult than she could have imagined. She often thought someone should teach a class. It should be mandatory to go through baby boot camp, where someone must tell new parents the truth.
There were so many classes to attend when they were thinking about having a family. There were classes about all the drugs Juliet needed to take. There were even mandatory therapy sessions to discuss the stress the process might put on their relationship. No one took the extra step to ensure you had any real idea what you were getting into.
Granted, who would really listen? While everyone’s experience is different, some fundamental truths should be distilled upon parents-to-be while they can still function as adults.
Juliet had never been able to get used to the lack of sleep. Though people said she would eventually get used to running on an hour or two of rest, Juliet never managed to achieve that, to her mind, insane milestone.
She both envied and resented Kristianne’s ability to tune out their son’s cries. She always seemed so rested. Kristianne had a knack for concentrating on a task to the absolute exclusion of everything and everyone else, even if that task was sleeping.
When Juliet was pregnant, she was often woken by nausea or the baby kicking her in the ribs or doing some other un-godly gymnastics. Despite Juliet’s tossing and turning or getting in or out of bed, there Kristianne lay, the undisturbed angel.
Juliet often fantasized about putting a pillow over the angel’s face. Not to kill her, just to see what it would take to wake her. Juliet’s sleep was so deprived; she just wanted someone else to share in the misery – even if only for a night.
Juliet knew it would be unfair. She worked in the public sector and had an easy 15-minute commute. Kristianne, however, commuted an hour and a half each way to her office in downtown Toronto, where she often worked much longer than her scheduled nine to five.
Her lengthy commute played a significant role in deciding who would carry their son. Kristianne argued it would be an inconvenience in the best of circumstances. Besides, Juliet’s benefits were better.
The real reason, however, was that children terrified Kristianne. She wasn’t sure if she really wanted to have any. The thought of being pregnant scared her. She couldn’t imagine her body going through the changes required to house a growing human being for any period of time, let alone nine months.
Juliet scrunched her toes into the plush bone-colored carpet of the hall and shook her head at the memory. ‘Parasitic,’ Kristianne once said. It was a comment she would never forget.
Juliet loved their quaint Bowmanville home. They had intended to tear out the carpeting six years ago, when they first bought the house. The main floor had oak hardwood throughout, including the kitchen. It was a unique feature that set the house apart from the other cookie-cutter homes they had seen.
Kristianne had plans for the large unfinished basement. Within a year, the renovation was finished to her exacting specifications, which included a full gym with a full bathroom and two-person sauna. Kristianne loved it and spent several hours of each day in her sanctuary.
At first, Juliet had felt a little jealous of the time Kristianne spent down there, but soon came to realize when Kristianne took time to herself, she was a better partner, a better listener, and a better lover.
Kristianne couldn’t be bothered with further customizing their home. She saw it as a chore, so she left it to Juliet, who, Kristianne claimed, was as skilled as any interior designer.
Time passed, and summer was upon them. The carpet was next on the list, but Juliet was busy with outdoor projects. She planted a garden and, with Kristianne’s help, built a patio. They were happy. The interior could wait.
As it turned out, it was also around the time Kristianne was having an affair, so in retrospect, Juliet wondered if any design choice she made mattered. As long as she was occupied with a project and didn’t ask too many questions, Kristianne was free to do as she pleased. And she did.
The highlight of Kristianne’s office social calendar was their annual summer picnic. The July event was always well attended. With an open bar and food fully catered, staff and their families flocked to the resort grounds to enjoy themselves for the weekend.
Kristianne and Juliet were surrounded by friends who were regaling Juliet with funny work stories, one of which featured her better half and exposed her precious darling to be just as capable of making mistakes as everyone else.
Juliet loved stories like that. Kristianne, however, not impressed being the butt of the joke, went to the bar for another round of drinks.
Juliet watched her wife walk to the bar, order two drinks, and quickly throw one back in a couple of swallows. A little concerned her feelings were actually hurt, Juliet excused herself and approached the bar.
One of Kristianne’s colleagues strode over and had placed a hand on Kristianne’s hip. Juliet was confused by the familiarity with which his hand lay upon Kristianne. She stopped short and watched the interaction, at first amused. Then, the slow churn in her stomach and crawl of her skin told her what her eyes refused to accept.
The man stood a little too close to her wife. Her wife looked a little too comfortable in his partial embrace. Juliet did not want to believe what her senses were telling her.
Madeline, one of Kristianne’s closest friends, approached Juliet and put her hand on Juliet’s shoulder. “Oh, don’t you worry about that,” she had said. “That’s just Frank. They have been friends forever.”
Juliet knew who he was. Frank was Kristianne’s close friend from university and had recruited her into the firm. He had once been her lover.
Juliet had been wary when Kristianne said Frank was back in her life. Juliet warned that Frank was still interested, and she should be mindful of that when interacting with him. Kristianne had tried to assuage her concerns. She swore their past was just that, past. Juliet gradually grew to accept Kristianne’s word.
Juliet allowed herself to forget how much Kristianne liked attention. A convenient memory trick that often saved her from bouts of anxiety and doubt. She had hoped their wedding vows could override her wife’s base desires, but watching them at the bar, she was convinced there was more to their relationship than Kristianne claimed.
Kristianne had caught Juliet’s eye over Frank’s shoulder and froze. She knew there was no denying there was something between them.
Frank’s eyes shifted toward Juliet. He looked shocked, more so for being caught than having had done anything wrong.
Juliet smiled in their direction, removed Madeline’s arm from her shoulder, and excused herself.
Madeline scoffed and called after her to lighten up. Madeline then called out to the group and told them Juliet saw Frank and Kristianne together and was upset.
Juliet realized Kristianne must have been carrying on with Frank in the office to the point that everyone found their behavior perfectly normal. Juliet did not see it that way. Kristianne was married – to her. However harmless the behavior may have been, it was nevertheless inappropriate.
Juliet grabbed her sweater and hurried off. Kristianne caught her by the arm to turn her around. The sudden motion caught Juliet by surprise, causing her to fall into Madeline’s husband Roger, who spilled his glass of red wine all over her. Juliet tore her arm away and stalked off toward the car. She could hear everyone laughing, condoning Kristianne’s ridiculous actions. Juliet’s humiliation was complete.
Kristianne did not come home that night, and Juliet had lain awake sobbing. She felt everything was imploding. In the morning, Juliet packed a bag and prepared to leave.
Kristianne opened the door as Juliet was on her way out. Kristianne had been crying. It didn’t look like she had slept at all. Despite the rage Juliet felt, she felt pity, and she also felt love.
She felt incredulous toward herself, feeling pity toward the person who had betrayed her, but she did. Something was broken in their young marriage, and Kristianne had sought to solve the problem in familiar arms. Juliet resented it, but if she were being honest with herself, she understood it. Desire was an incredible drug. The thrill of it was intoxicating. Being the object of desire was addictive, as was having someone succumb to your desire.
After a week of awkward glances and tentative hugs and fear where intimacy once was, they knew they could not manage the hurt on their own and sought therapy. They committed to doing whatever it took to repair the damaged trust between them.
Years passed before a conversation about carpet resumed. Juliet was pregnant by then, and the only renovations on her mind centered around the nursery.
Through therapy and healing, Kristianne began to place more value on their family and even raised the subject of having children now and then. Juliet was excited to begin fertility treatments and was pregnant within the year. They had been married for three and a half years, and their family was starting to expand.
Juliet lifted Aidan from his crib and provided the miserable child a fresh diaper. This calmed him somewhat, but it was food he was looking for at this hour.
“I’ll pick you up around six this evening. Please be sure you’re ready,” Kristianne’s voice floated up from the front foyer as she headed out the door. The sound of the front door closing had become the conclusion to many of their conversations of late.
Juliet looked down at Aidan. “What? I have another six months or so of one-sided conversations before you start sassing me like your mom, huh?” Aidan looked up at her. His hands balled into tiny fists, and he began to fuss. “I guess I don’t have to wait that long,” Juliet chuckled and sat in the rocking chair facing the large bay window. She loved to sit there and watch the neighborhood come to life in the morning.
Lights winked on throughout the neighborhood as people started their day. People huddled in pajamas and winter coats rushed to their cars to turn over engines, and a cacophony of noise erupted as they rushed to scrape ice from their windshields. Things adults do.
Juliet brought him to her chest, and he ate. His fists relaxed, and he placed one hand on her breast and the other held her thumb. He was very small, and she worried. Was he eating enough? Was he growing? Was he healthy? The impression her pediatrician gave her was it was normal for every new mother to feel this way. ‘He’s perfectly normal,’ she would say. No indication of sarcasm present. Though, why would a doctor be sarcastic about a baby’s health?
She sat in the chair, staring out the window, feeding her son. She was Bessy, the milk machine.
Juliet knew she had to try to stop having those types of thoughts. She was more than just a food delivery mechanism. If she couldn’t shake them, the session tonight would surely be terrible.
Aidan cooed and tensed his hand. His nails were like razor blades. Juliet winced and gently pat him while he ate.
Should Juliet trust Kristianne? Follow on Wattpad for more of the story!