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Down We'll Come, Baby by Carrie Aarons (1)

1

Theo

I slept with my wife on our first date.

I’m not revealing this to brag or boast, or for you to infer anything from either of our personalities. It was just the simple fact that I knew from that first chance meeting, deep in my bones, that she would be the woman I’d spend the rest of my life with.

Honestly, I was never the kind of guy to get naked with a woman that quickly. If I were going for romance, which in Imogen Weston’s, the future Imogen Walsh, case I should have been … I would have laid out the red carpet. Flowers, picnics on the beach, candles, and gazing at the stars … my definition of dating was something out of a Nicholas Sparks’ novel. It’s just how you did things if you wanted to impress a woman.

So it’s funny that we did actually meet on a red carpet, though it was the last place I was supposed to be that night. And technically, it was not a date at all. The island of Nantucket was hosting its annual Police Benevolent Association dinner, which was a grand affair paid for by the richest of the rich who summered and/or lived on the island. I had been minding my own business that night, down at The Rose and Crown nursing a dark porter, when my friend Trip found me and asked if I wanted to make two hundred bucks as a table usher.

Hell, I could use the extra cash, and two hundred bucks in three hours would be the easiest labor I’d performed in two years. I’d agreed, he’d slapped a rented tuxedo on me, and I stood at the end of the step and repeat, helping millionaires to their tables.

The moment our hands touched, as I helped the blond angel who would later marry me down the stairs to the ballroom, an indescribable, intangible … knowing passed through me. I don’t want to say it was a feeling because it wasn’t. I knew that I had just found the woman who was meant to be mine.

Thirty minutes later, her legs were wrapped around my waist as I made love to her on top of a discarded table in a coat closet.

Almost a year later, Imogen Weston took my last name, Walsh, in a lavish wedding thrown by her parents. Who, by the way, were none too happy with her choice of husband, but couldn’t let their public image be tarnished, and thus threw the East Coast WASP wedding to top all East Coast WASP weddings.

Not that I cared. I was just there for the sunflower-haired, green-eyed beauty in a white dress. I would have cut off my right arm, taken a bullet, thrown myself in front of a train … you name the horrific maiming and I would have done it to spend my life with that woman.

What I’m trying to say is that when you have that much undiluted chemistry with someone, and not even the richest assholes or the distance between our social classes could keep us apart … well, you’re supposed to be together forever.

But today I woke up, on a random Tuesday in September, to a note scrawled in her infamous cursive and her walk-in closet half emptied.

We tried, but we can’t. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

That’s all the note said. In truth, I should have seen this coming. The universe had worked against us from the very start of it all.

Imogen Virginia Weston is the daughter of Morgan Weston, the CEO of Weston Shipping Enterprises. I’m still not exactly sure what my soon-to-be ex-father-in-law does, but basically he owns thousands of cargo ships and makes thousands of millions a year. The Westons are up there with the Kennedys, the Vanderbilts, and all of those other families who are recognizable just by a last name. Imogen grew up in private schools and ballrooms. She summered on Nantucket, performed in equestrian competitions and ate off of china at two out of three meals a day. She was upper crust, a princess in America, and completely out of my league.

Me? Theodore Patrick Walsh? I am what they call a townie. A local. I was born on the island of Nantucket to working-class parents who shined the shoes of people like the Westons. I went to high school, graduated, and immediately got a job with a house contracting firm on the island. I was on the crews who built the million-dollar mansions tucked away on the secluded beaches of this summer wonderland. I had a simple life. I’d lived simply, but happy.

We were never supposed to fall in love. It sure as hell hadn’t been easy to convince her family to allow us to get married. Hell, they still hated my broke ass.

And I’d never imagined the things I would have to give up by marrying the woman I loved. Of course, I was happier than I’d ever been once I’d met Imogen. Hell … loving her made me feel like I’d been walking around blind for the twenty-nine years beforehand. But although she hung the moon for me … being married to her was difficult. Life with money was complicated.

This house I am now sitting in alone was paid for by the Westons. The reason we live in this house in Chatham, instead of on Nantucket, the place I love, was because Nantucket was for summering and thus it looked tacky if a Weston daughter lived there year round. The job I had in a prominent architecture firm was one secured by my father-in-law. Couldn’t have an extension of the Weston family working with his hands on a construction site.

But I’d made the sacrifices because I could not live my life without Imogen. And now, she had left.

This had been coming, like I said. Two polar opposites can’t live in sync forever … it’s against their nature. Plus, you add in the horrible misfortunes that have been thrust upon our marriage, and it would break anyone.

I just never thought she’d actually do it. I never thought my wife would actually leave.

Now, what was I supposed to do with my life? What was I supposed to do with this heart? No one could carry around this much raw sorrow and survive for long.

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