Home > Complicated(2)

Author: Kristen Ashley

He sat in his truck at her curb and waited until he saw her form, shadowed from the minimal light filtering through the sheer curtain over the window in her front door and he knew she’d locked herself safely inside.

Only then did Hix drive away.





ON HIS WAY to work on Monday, Hix’s phone rang.

He pulled it out of his chest pocket and glanced at the display.

He immediately wished he didn’t have to take the call.

But even if she was no longer his wife, they had three kids. Those kids were coming to his place after school that afternoon for their week with him, so he had to take the damn call.

“Yeah?” he answered.

“Nice,” Hope replied acidly.

This annoyed him.

It had always annoyed him.

Even before.

But seeing as this was far from the first time he’d answered a call from her that way (when he was driving, mostly, but also when he was in the thick of shit, even before she’d divorced his ass) since she’d divorced his ass, it annoyed him now a good deal more than it had before.

Though, he’d known for a long time Hope liked things how she liked them.

Only how she liked them.

So she didn’t much care how often she had to relay precisely how she liked them.

He just hadn’t cared when they were together, because he’d been taught by his parents that in marriage, to earn the good, you took the bad and you found a way to deal with it.

With that said, there’d been a time, a very long one, when he thought that trait was a good one. His woman knew what she wanted and didn’t back down.

He didn’t think that way anymore.

“In the car on the way to work, Hope,” he told her. “You know I’m not big on talking on the phone and driving, and you know why.” And she did. Back in the day when they lived where shit happened, he’d seen a variety of unpleasant results when people were more interested in what was happening in their ear than what was happening on the road. “The kids okay?”

She ignored his question in order to note, “You could get a car that has your phone connected right to it so you have a better shot at doing the impossible. That being multitasking.”

On his salary, how she thought he could do that and set up a house where he could finish raising his children the time he had them, he had no clue.

Hope got the new cars.

Hix had had his Bronco since his senior year in college.

In other words, he’d had the thing for twenty years.

This hadn’t bothered him either. It still didn’t. The Ford Bronco was the best vehicle ever put on the road. He’d switch her out when she died a death he couldn’t bring her back from, and not a second before.

Hope didn’t give him a chance to respond, even if he had no intention of doing that.

She announced, “We need to talk.”


This had been her refrain now for weeks.

Three of them.

In fact, it started about an hour after they sat in that fucking room with their fucking lawyers and signed those fucking papers.

“Repeat,” he bit out. “The kids okay?”

“They’re fine,” she returned. “But we need to talk.”

“Is it about the kids?” he pushed.

“No, Hix. It’s not. There’s stuff to talk about that doesn’t involve the kids.”

She was very wrong.

“Not anymore.”

“God!” she snapped. “Why are you being this way?”

“I don’t know, Hope,” he replied, making the turn into the parking lot at the side of the sheriff’s department. “Maybe, considering I signed divorce papers three weeks ago, I get to be whatever way I want.”

Like always, Hope persevered. “There are things that need to be said.”

“Think you said them all when you signed your name on the line next to mine.”


He finished parking and cut the engine, saying, “Probably see you at the game tomorrow night.”

“I can’t talk to you about this at Corinne’s game.”

He stared out the windshield at the red brick that was the side of the department and asked, not for the first time, therefore he did it on a sigh, “Wanna clue me in on what ‘this’ is?”

“I’d like to. In person,” she answered, also not for the first time. Then suddenly, her game changed. He heard it in her voice when she coaxed, “Lunch today. My treat.”

“Unless there’s something up with the kids, we’re not talking, Hope. So it goes without saying we’re not gonna have lunch.”

“How long is it gonna take before you get over this and let me back in?”

Hix felt his chin move slowly back into his neck at the same time his eyes blinked just as slowly.

Get over it?


And let her back in?


“You divorced me, Hope,” he reminded her quietly.

“I remember, Hix.”

“Do you remember the part where I shared repeatedly over the year we were separated that I didn’t want that?” he asked.

“Can we talk about this? Face to face?”

It was Hix ignoring her now.

“I didn’t want it. Not for the kids. Not for our family. Not for me or you. Not for us.”


“We were good. We were happy.”

“I wasn’t happy,” she said softly.

“You made that clear enough,” he returned.

“Honey, can we—?”


Oh hell no.

“You got something to share about the kids, we can talk. Over the phone. Unless you catch Mamie injecting heroin. Then we can talk face to face.”

“Oh my God! She’s thirteen years old!”

She was.

Jesus, how did his baby get to be thirteen years old?

He didn’t ask his ex-wife that.

He stated, “Now I gotta get to work.”

“I cannot believe you.”

“Take care of yourself, Hope.”

With that, he hung up wishing that would be the last time he had to deal with a call like that from his ex-wife but knowing it would not.

He was unsurprised when this thought came true as she called him back while he was putting his hand on the handle of the front door to the department.

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