Unspoken

By: Kelly Rimmer


Sometimes it’s what you don’t say that can change everything...

Isabel Winton had planned to spend the last few days of her marriage at her vacation home, intending to reflect, regroup...or maybe just do some solitary sulking. Instead, she collides with her almost ex, Paul, who has the same idea. Too stubborn to leave, Isabel figures this is a chance for them to get some closure. But she’s astonished to see that months apart have transformed her emotionally aloof husband into “Paul 2.0,” more open than ever before.

Paul was blindsided when Isabel left him. He had no idea she felt he was more committed to his career than to their marriage. With his new, hard-won self-awareness, he blames himself for letting her walk away. But winning her back will take more than simple words. It’ll mean finding the courage to grow, to trust, and grab a second chance at life by each other’s sides.





Part One

Friday





CHAPTER ONE


Paul


I’VE BEEN DEVELOPING a single software application since I was seventeen years old. In recent years, I’ve worked with some of the best developers on earth, but it’s still my software. The sum of my life’s work is seventy-four million lines of code which, in layman’s terms, enables people to use the internet in a safe and efficient manner. I don’t know all of that code by heart of course, but if you were to give me any portion of it, I could tell you what it does and why and how.

Code is knowable. Understandable. Infallibly rational. Opening my compiler is like wrapping myself in a warm blanket on a cold day. Code is safe and familiar, and I am completely at home and completely in control in that sphere, which is pretty much the polar opposite to my feelings about other humans. People are unfortunately illogical creatures, and today, people are ruining my day.

Well, one person specifically.

“Hello, Isabel,” I say to my almost-ex-wife. Her sudden appearance is as unfortunate as it is unexpected. Whenever we find ourselves in the same room these days, the tension is untenable, but it’s certain to be even worse today, because this room happens to be in the very vacation home we spent most of the last year squabbling over as we negotiated the separation of our assets.

“You said that I could keep this house—” Isabel starts to say, but I really don’t like to be reminded that if the divorce was a cruel game, there’s a clear winner, and it’s not me.

That’s why I cut her off with a curt “my name is still on the title for four more days.”

Her nostrils flare. She makes a furious sound in the back of her throat, then closes her eyes and exhales shakily. Isabel is trying to keep her temper in check.

I lived with Isabel Rose Winton for four years, one month and eleven days. She likes almond milk in her coffee because she thinks it’s healthier, but she masks the taste with so much sugar, she may as well drink a soda. She sleeps curled up in a little ball, as if she’s afraid to take up space in her own bed. She resents her mother and adores her father and brothers. She loves New York with a passion, and she has an astounding ability to pluck threads from a city of 8.5 million people to weave them into a close-knit village around herself. Isabel makes friends everywhere she goes. She never forgets a name and people always remember her, too, even after meeting her just once. Everyone adores her.

Well, almost everyone. I can’t say I’m particularly fond of the woman these days.

“You’re supposed to be on retreat with your team this weekend.” Isabel flashes me a look, but it passes too quickly. I don’t have time to interpret it.

“How do you even know about my retreat?” I ask, but then I sigh and we both say at the exact same time, “Jess.”

Jessica Cohen has been my friend since college and she’s been my business partner almost as long. Isabel and Jess are friends, too, and they still see each other all the time. But Jess popping up in this conversation makes me uneasy, because she’s the reason I’m at Greenport today. And Jess does so love to meddle...

I’m distracted just thinking about this, and that’s when I make a critical error: I forget that there’s a reason I’ve been standing at a supremely uncomfortable sixty-degree angle, with my lower half hidden behind the wall which houses the stairwell, my top half leaning into the living room where Isabel is sitting. As soon as I shift position into something like a more standard posture, I see Isabel’s gaze run down my body. The scowl on her face intensifies, and mortifyingly, I feel myself blushing.

“Why are you naked?” Isabel demands.

That’s not why I’m blushing; after more than four years together, I’m certain Isabel is at least as familiar with my junk as I am. And my current state of undress is actually easily explained. I arrived here ninety-four minutes ago, immediately went for a very long run and then took a very long shower. Everything was fine until I reached for a towel and discovered that Isabel’s scent was all over the soft cotton.

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