Chapter 1

The silence in the room that Monday night was oppressive in its intensity. Bill and I sat there stunned, as Jenny, my wife repeated her statement. "Friday, I'm going on a sex retreat with Shirley for the weekend. You'll be waiting here when I come back, Roger."

Jenny turned and walked out of the room leaving Bill and I sitting there quietly. Earlier at the office Bill had told me about how Shirley had planned a weekend at some resort with four men she had met, and that she had instructed the men to bring lots of lube and condoms, so I was stunned by the announcement.

"I knew Shirley was cruel and wanted to get back at you for what you did, but I never thought she'd take it this far," Bill said as he set down his beer and started putting his notes away. We had brought a new marketing plan for his store chain over to my house, planning on reviewing them after dinner while watching Monday Night Football, but the pained atmosphere after Jenny's little speech had quickly ended our thoughts of work.

Still it took a moment before what Bill had said registered. "What do you mean?"

Bill shrugged as he put the last of the papers away in his briefcase. "Shirley remembers that you helped me stay strong after I caught her in bed with that delivery man. And she believes that you were involved in the sting that got her picked up for lewd behavior during that party at the bar. She must have decided that her revenge had to include you and the easiest way to achieve that was to turn Jenny out as a slut and force you to accept it. After all, you have children. She's probably told Jenny that you won't get a divorce in order to protect your kids."

I could feel the nausea rise I as listened to Bill. "She can't be that evil. To ruin my marriage just because I've supported you, my boss and friend?"

Bill nodded sadly. "Yes, she can. And remember, Jenny took the day off from her work to go and help Shirley move into her new apartment. I imagine that they had a long talk over lunch, during which I'm sure my ex-wife kept talking about how great cheating sex is."

I looked at Bill feeling a gaping pit open in my stomach. Bill looked back into the now darkened hallway that Jenny had walked down before finally standing and offering me a hand. "You need to sleep on this, and tomorrow we have to get some things set up. Let's take you to my place. Right now I'm sure you don't want to be near Jenny."

Robotically, I accepted Bill's hand and stood up. Part of me wanted to walk down the hall to my regular bed, but Bill firmly guided me out of the house and into the passenger seat of his car. My mumbled protests went unheeded as he started the car, and made the half-hour drive to his townhouse.

Happily, Bill did not try to push alcohol on me, or spend the remainder of the evening bending my ear on the evils of women. Once at his place, he efficiently and quickly got me set up in his guest room and ordered me to sleep for the night, saying that we'd be very busy the next day.

Bill woke me in the morning and announced that we were going to take a day off from the business in order to get some important errands done. "You'll meet your children as they get out of school today, and every day until Friday. It's fine if you return home, but I don't recommend having sex with Jenny. Meanwhile, we need to get you some clothes."

I immediately tried to protest. "I have plenty at home."

Bill gave a bitter laugh. "A meeting with Jenny right now might end with you in jail. It's best if we just purchase you some for the day. You'll understand soon." He filled me with breakfast and then once again took charge and pushed me out to his car.

I wanted to start a conversation, but I could see tears in Bill's eyes during this first drive. He surprised me by pulling into the parking lot of the local Target store and finding a spot to park. "We have meetings starting at eleven, and you need to look a bit nicer. Let's go inside."

Within minutes Bill had found a pair of khaki slacks and a polo shirt that he said would work. It was not a high quality outfit, but both Bill and I wore such to work when we did not have business meetings with outside vendors, so I relaxed a little. Bill surprised me by insisting on paying for everything, telling me that Jenny's little adventure was definitely being financed from Shirley's revenge fund.

The next stop was at a law office, where I expressed a bit of surprise that Bill could get an appointment so quickly. He merely smiled and led me into the office where an aging lawyer listened to my story and nodded, saying that he could take the case, but would have little chance of getting me custody of my children. Bill thanked him, and said that once I made a decision we'd call again.

I figured the other errands had to be to the bank, but groaned as Bill stopped in another small office park and guided me to the office of another lawyer. He insisted that I had to talk to Debra Hodgekins, and all but forced me inside.

A young Hispanic woman looked up as we entered and immediately activated some kind of intercom. "Your twelve-thirty is here."

I saw a set of chairs and was about to go sit when the intercom crackled to life. "Good, send them back."

The receptionist immediately stood up and led Bill and I to a small, but elegantly decorated office. As we entered a young brunette woman wearing a finely cut business outfit stood from behind a desk and looked at us. "Bill, I thought you were using Jason Arthur as your lawyer. I haven't heard that he's gotten himself disbarred so what brings you here?"

Bill paused and indicated that I should hold my hand out. "Sorry, today is not about me, but Roger here. Shirley has talked his wife into a cuckolding vacation, and-"

Debra had just taken my hand, and I was surprised as her grip tightened suddenly. "And you brought Roger around for a fashion show? Is that it?"

I looked over a Bill and noticed that he was fidgeting while looking away from Debra, who had not yet let go of my hand. "Well, Roger is my best friend, and I want to protect him. He has kids, and-"

The grip relaxed suddenly and Debra sighed. "So you decided to make sure that the bases were covered." She absent-mindedly waved me towards a chair and picked up a legal pad from her desk.

I finally voiced my confusion. "What's this fashion show?"

Debra snorted. "It's not too complex. Although there are fifty or so lawyers in town that handle divorces, we all know who the best ones are. Bill is just going to take you around to consult with the top three divorce lawyers in town"

"We've met Colin Nash already, and will see Jason Arthur after you," Bill interrupted.

Debra raised an eyebrow. "Having you consult with us before your wife does makes you a client, even if you do not retain us for the divorce. That means that once the divorce begins your wife cannot hire us, because it would be a conflict of interest."

"But I love my wife," I protested. "I haven't decided what to do. Her ultimatum came suddenly."

Debra looked kindly, but professional. "What ultimatum is that?"

I paused and watched Bill sit in another chair, as Debra leaned against the desk. "Jenny told me that she's going on some weekend sex retreat with Shirley, and that she expects me to be home when she returns."

Debra looked confused, so Bill interjected. "Shirley's little retreat is to a beach cabin out near San Diego. She's invited four men to go with her, and told them to pack lots of lube and condoms."

I felt even sicker hearing again about this planned weekend now that I knew Jenny was going to be there with Shirley. Debra seemed a bit surprised as well by Bill's bitterness. "Okay, now I know what is going to happen. I guess the first question Roger is what do you want out of this?"

I thought back to the meeting with the earlier lawyer and tried to put my thoughts together. 'I don't know. I love Jenny, but I'd have to say my children are more important. And, to have Jenny go out and fuck other men and expect me to be happy about it, or tolerate it is an insult in my opinion. That's not love, or why I got married."

Debra nodded. "So you have children?"

I sighed. "Yes, two, Lance is six and Morgana is eight."

Debra looked a bit upset. "Then we have a problem. I won't lie to you. Divorce here is now mostly no fault, which means that the judge is going to try to split everything down the middle no matter what reasons are used to bring the divorce action unless there are criminal charges involved. However, the children must both go to one parent and unless you can prove that Jenny is some kind of vicious monster, she'll get the kids. You might get some kind of joint custody where every weekend the kids will visit you, but your wife will most like get primary custody."

I tensed. "So basically I have the choice of tolerating her blatant infidelity, or I lose my kids?"

Debra nodded sadly. "That's the way it will work. I decided to become a lawyer because my parents had an ugly divorce and the system treated my mother unjustly. However, I now see too many divorce cases where an honest man is ruined by the system. You would be just one more."

I closed my eyes and considered what I just heard. I had not expected good news, but this was terrible. My mind projected an image of a giant stew pot bubbling over as Jenny lowered me, asking, "How do you want to be cooked?"

The silence in the room echoed and then Debra spoke up. "I will warn you that depending on how friendly the divorce is Jenny could play games to keep the children from you should you divorce her. It will most likely be very nasty. But for now, how about we just get the preliminaries over with? I can see you aren't ready to act today."

I opened my eyes and nodded, listening closely and answering the questions Debra had. She kept the meeting short and professional, quickly covering the basics of what I could expect in a divorce and verifying some of my financial and personal information. It was far more draining that the meeting with the first lawyer, but strangely comforting.

We finished and Debra passed me a business card as I left. She wished me luck as I finalized the payment and then Bill rushed me out the door saying we had one more meeting before I went to pick up my kids.

On the drive to the next meeting I looked at Bill and finally spoke. "You don't expect my marriage to survive, I see."

Bill looked a bit embarrassed, but shook his head. "Sadly, I know Shirley far too well. If Jenny is openly saying she will go on this fuck-a-thon, I can guarantee that every possible argument you might come up with has already been discussed and discarded. Shirley is thorough. Jenny will be on that plane on Friday. You cannot stop her, and trying will only break your heart again."

"Shirley was always thorough about things, except when it came to remembering your meeting schedule," I said remembering how this all started.

Bill is my long time boss. He inherited a trio of slowly decaying convenience stores when his great aunt passed on, and rather than selling them, decided to see if he could bring them back. The neighborhoods they stood in were not the best, but once he found honest and reliable managers, the stores turned around and started showing a significant profit. He talked me into joining him as he expanded his shopping empire, as he called it, and we now had fourteen stores in some of the less served parts of the state. Shirley was his ex-wife, and a rather vicious lady. Bill had met her when she had entered one of our stores looking for a cashier's job, and he had fallen hard. They were married after only six months, and for three years, Bill and Shirley often shared barbeques and parties with Jenny and I.

He likes to think that he is my best friend, but I am rapidly discovering that Bill is mostly out for Bill. He has been willing to pay me well, but he is abusive to vendors and customers, and over time flaunted his affairs much to my annoyance.

Of course that habit caused his marriage to break down after Bill returned from a three-day swing through our southern stores. Shirley must have figured that his trip was going to last at least five days, and that she would get a bit of revenge in, because Bill came home to find her leaning over their coffee table, giving a UPS man a blow job. Bill turned up at my home twenty minutes later, white as a sheet and crying about how Shirley had betrayed him. Shirley did not even know he had come home until the next morning when she discovered his wedding ring sitting on their dining room table.

I avoided the first attempted reconciliation meeting between Bill and Shirley, but Bill came back from that one even more depressed and filed for divorce immediately. Once she was served Shirley started showing up at my house and begging Jenny or I to talk to Bill and let her know that she really did love him. I was dubious, but did try to arrange one meeting.

That meeting proved to be a disaster as Shirley showed up with a freshly fucked glow and no panties. She and Bill ended up exchanging even harsher accusations before he stormed out, refusing to have more to do with her.

Jenny did beg me to set up one more, but the day I was almost convinced to try, I happened to see Shirley in a bar parking lot with another man as they entered the back seat of his car. The rocking motion that started a few moments later made it clear what the couple was doing, so after that I started to tell Bill that I supported his decision to go with a divorce. He had been considering taking her back despite it all, but after I began to support him in not taking Shirley back, he turned around and stopped talking to her.

Perhaps Shirley would not have been so angry, if there had not been a solid pre-nuptial agreement, which protected the majority of Bill's assets. She did receive a cash payout, and got to keep the house they had lived in together, but the stores and their sizable income remained Bill's.

Of course, Shirley and Jenny still met often to talk. Jenny was working in an office doing data entry and records management while the kids were in school. Afterwards, Shirley tended to show up for long chats over tea and cookies. I had never really worried much about those talks, but it was now clear that Shirley had used them to set up her revenge.

The meeting with the third lawyer was a brief as the first meeting. Jason Arthur obviously knew Bill well, but other than a rather perfunctory review of my problem, declared himself uninterested until I was ready to file.

Bill then drove us over to Kennedy Elementary School, where we arrived just in time to greet Morgana and Lance coming out of the front. Morgana was surprised to see us, but gave me a big hug before settling in to the car. Lance was less demonstrative with his hug, but also settled in quickly.

I was extremely uncertain about how Jenny would receive me tonight, since I had failed to spend the previous night at home. It took a moment to decide, but I pressured Bill into stopping at a McDonald's to pick up food and told the kids that we would pull out a game and have fun together for the afternoon, earning a cheer from both of them. Bill pressured me to come back and spend the night as his place, but I decided that being near my children was more important.

Jenny was not home when we arrived, so I quickly got out the Candyland board and set it up. Morgana rolled her eyes a bit, but when she noticed Lance's joyous reaction she giggled.

Bill left, with a promise to be available if I called, and I turned my concentration to my children and the game.

Three hours later, we had finished Candyland, as well as a game of Sorry, and Morgana and Lance were taking turns crushing me at Guitar Hero and Rockstar. Each failure on my part was received with gales of laughter from my kids. They were still joking about my latest failure when Jenny walked in the door.

Morgana and Lance ran to her, as I turned off the Playstation and started to put away the controllers. As I did I took a moment to look more closely at my wife.

Jenny is not a classical beauty. Most might consider a girl next-door type with her dirty blond hair and brown eyes. She never had a model's figure, and as she passed thirty, the extra pounds one gains with time have not come off even after Jenny joined a gym and started to exercise. Still, I never complained and even tried to compliment her appearance when I had the chance.

Today, she must have worn a brown pantsuit to work, because she was removing the jacket when the kids finally released her from the hugs and ran off to their rooms. She gave me a quizzical look as she draped the jacket over a chair in the dining room. "You're not usually home this early."

I stood quietly. "I thought I might want to spend more time with Morgana and Lance. They don't get enough of my attention and time."

Jenny sniffed. "Well, I hear you gave them McDonald's for dinner, and got them from school. Shouldn't you check with me first? Fast food isn't good for them."

"It's not like I do that everyday," I replied. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll spend a couple hours reading a book."

Jenny gave me another confused look, but seemed to recover quickly. "Well, that works. I'm going to spend the evening out with Shirley, and won't be home until at least midnight. I just need to change." She then started walking to the back where our room was.

I clenched my hands against a chair for a moment, and then slowly relaxed. I had planned on grabbing one of the recent spy thrillers I had picked up on a trip to a used book store, but Jenny's pronouncement caused me to again consider the children and I found my battered set of the Arabian Nights, grabbing the first book.

"Kids, how about I read to you for a while?" I shouted.

Morgana and Lance immediately ran out and dragged me to my favorite chair, excitedly asking me what I was going to read. Neither had seen me hold this particular book before, so Morgana begged me to tell her what it was about.

"Well, there was an angry king, who kept having his wives put to death the morning after their marriage. But one brave woman charmed him with a story, and kept telling him stories for nearly three years. This is the collection of stories," I told her.

"Really?" Morgana said, doubtfully.

I laughed. "We don't really know. The stories are hundreds of years old, and do fit together in a very long narrative, but as for how they came about, I couldn't say. How about I read the whole tale to you and you'll decide."

Morgana joined in the laughter, and I started in the terrible tale of how the king discovered the faithlessness of his first wife and the terrible revenge he took on all women. And then how Scherezade convinced her father, the grand vizier, to offer her to the king in marriage. Jenny came out while I was detailing the king's madness and despair, and I noticed that she stood quietly watching me for several moments as I tried to keep my children enthralled.

If Jenny was intending to make me jealous, her outfit would have succeeded had I not already heard the verdict of three lawyers. She was wearing a tight blouse over her breasts, and a skirt that barely came down to the middle of her thighs. The blouse was extremely sheer, and I could tell that Jenny was not wearing a bra under it. She clearly was waiting for me to acknowledge her presence, but I concentrated on the children and ignored her until she stormed out of the house, slamming the front door.

"Daddy, is Mommy being bad?" Morgana asked me when I came to the end of the first day of tales, finishing on a cliffhanger as many of the Nights did. I could see that Lance had fallen asleep during the storytelling and carefully set the book down and picked him up.

Morgana followed me back to Lance's room as I carried him, waiting for an answer. She waited patiently by the door as I dressed Lance in his favorite pajamas and tucked him into bed. I then looked up at a Morgana who appeared extremely frightened.

"You are going to leave us after Friday, aren't you?" she demanded.

I sighed and picked her up. "Why do you say that?"

"I heard mommy and that mean woman talking about it. The woman kept telling mother that you'd stay no matter what because of us, but you won't will you?" Morgana said.

Morgana had her face buried in my chest and I could feel a bit of wetness as tears filled her eyes. I closed my eyes and thought about the situation. "Little fay," I said. "If your mother really does go with Shirley on Friday it will be the most evil thing a woman could do to her husband. But remember, that no matter how I feel about her, I will never stop loving you or Lance."

I could feel Morgana get tense as she clung to me. I carried her into her bedroom and set her on her bed, holding her until she cried herself to sleep.

Once Morgana fell asleep, I retired to my own bed, but found sleep elusive. Jenny's attitude towards me seemed almost dismissive, and I noticed that after the comments she had made the last two days that I was relatively disinterested in waiting until Friday. Still, worries about the future, and images of Jenny writhing under a man kept me from falling asleep easily.

My restless night was broken when Jenny finally arrived home sometime after midnight, and stomped into the bathroom, where I heard the shower start to run. I was immediately suspicious as never before had Jenny felt the need to shower after a night out, and my worst fears appeared confirmed when Jenny slid into bed sometime later and gave me a cum flavored kiss. It was clear that she had been sucking a cock earlier in the night, and had forgotten to brush her teeth before coming to bed.

Jenny attempted to snuggle up to me, and in my shock I did not twist my body away, although I kept my arms by my side. Her betrayal seemed worse because I detected no remorse or concern about my feelings as she quickly fell asleep.

I finally gave up on falling asleep and rolled out of bed at four-fifteen. Jenny had shifted slightly during the night and had gotten wound up in the sheets. I looked at her naked body and wondered why she decided to come to bed naked, something she had not done since before Morgana was born.

As I stumbled into the bathroom, attempting to keep quiet, my mind was reviewing the options I had. I was sitting on the throne when I spotted a pair of panties tossed on the floor next to the hamper.

I picked them up and recoiled as the scent of dried and stale cum assaulted me. They were a pair of rather lacy boy shorts Jenny had purchased over the weekend and promised to wear for our next date weekend. However, that weekend was still twelve days away, and now I was staring at them and noticing huge spots of dried semen covering the crotch of the panties. From the pattern it looked like Jenny had been leaking from both of her holes during the drive home, and I had a feeling that more than one man had contributed to the mess.

My heart hardened at this point, and I nearly exploded out of the bathroom to confront her when I recalled her comment to me two nights before. She had been supremely sure that I would tolerate her infidelity, and right then I realized that short of maiming or killing her, there was little that would result from me storming to confront her. The marriage was over, and now I would have to figure out how to live well.

Jenny spent the morning in bed, as Morgana and Lance woke up and prepared for a day at school. I busied myself with making a list of things I would want to do in the near future, and looking up some phone numbers after finding a spare plastic bag to store the soiled panties in. I knew that the sooner I removed myself from Jenny's presence the safer my future would become.

I walked into work about an hour late as Jenny still had not awakened, and someone needed to drive the kids to school. Bill was surprisingly happy about something, and waved to me as I entered. I waved back and worked on putting the finishing touches on our marketing plan for the first few hours, until Bill confronted me about lunchtime. "It's terrible that Jenny went out with Shirley last night. Shirley was going to some honky-tonk where the main attraction is getting it on in cars in the parking lot."

"Oh." I replied, realizing that I had not told Bill anything about the night before and wondering how he knew about it. "She did say she was going out, but I was reading a story to the kids."

Bill did not seem to notice my slight pause and continued. "Yeah, damn Jenny looked fine. I saw here there because I was visiting with Victor, you remember him, he has a distributorship for pet food, and we were going to try to expand our selection. Victor likes that place because he usually gets some action, especially when it gets late. He's a tough bird to negotiate with though."

I remembered Victor, and he had a very simple reputation when it came to negotiation. Find him a woman to fuck, and he would sign anything, but he did insist that he get to go bareback. I did not challenge Bill though. "Just don't give away the store to get a few more boxes of cat treats. We only have so much shelf space at most of our outlets."

Bill laughed. "Nah, I got a great deal from him. Probably cut our pet food costs by seven percent, and increased the selection. It will be great for profitability."

I nodded. "Let me know what will change, and I'll see how we want to change the shelving and marketing. We'll want to take advantage of the changes," I replied. Inwardly I was seething. Bill had seen Jenny last night and now was bragging to me about getting a large order from one of the biggest pussyhounds in the region. Add to that, the panties I found on the bathroom floor and I had to wonder if some of that cum drying in them had come from my former best friend. Either way, it was clear he had not watched my back last night.

Somehow, I kept working until shortly before my kids were due to get out of school. I had taken some time to look up a couple new phone numbers and now had a plan of action for the next week.

Morgana and Lance were a bit disappointed when I picked them up and told them that I needed to stop someplace. They sat quietly in the car as I drove over to Debra Hodgekin's office and parked the car. Morgana read the name on the door as I got her and Lance out of the car and I could see the tears in her eyes as she said. "You're leaving."

I sighed as I opened the door. "No, I won't leave you, but I will be leaving your mother. I cannot live with her anymore."

The same receptionist was at the desk when I walked in and looked up. "I'm sorry sir, do you have an appointment?"

I guided Lance to a chair and watched as Morgana took another one. "No, but I met with Mrs. Hodgekins yesterday and was hoping she could spare a moment of her time for me."

"Its Miss, not Mrs. Please wait, and I'll see," the receptionist said, before hitting a button on her phone. "Yes, sorry, but there is a gentleman here asking to see you ... I can see."

The receptionist looked over at me. "She is finishing a draft brief, but can see you after that if you want. You'll have to wait about fifteen minutes or so."

I looked down at Lance and Morgana who were taking a moment to browse an old National Geographic and then responded. "I'd like to do this today if possible, so I'll wait."

I sat down next to Morgana and started to make up stories for her and Lance, using the various pictures and ads in the magazine as my inspiration, as the receptionist passed my message on. They laughed at my first attempt and then found some pictures of Africa that had them fascinated. I took that moment to dial up one of the numbers I had looked up earlier.

"Steele Specialty Stores, how may I direct your call?" came the cheery answer as my call went through.

"Sebastian Steele please, tell him it's about a business deal he's been trying to make," I replied.

There was a momentary pause, and I guessed I was going to be routed to voicemail when an angry male voice chimed in. "This is Seb, what do you want this time Adam?"

'I'm sorry," I replied. "I'm not sure who Adam is, but this call is about what you want anyways."

"Who is this? You obviously aren't my wife's dumb son," Sebastian barked.

"This is Roger Vinson. I'm calling because I remember you wanted to buy out Bill, but he refused, and I have an offer for you," I replied.

"Roger? Aren't you his best friend and right hand? Besides what can you give me?" Seb mused.

I paused and peeked to see that Morgana and Lance were still engrossed in the pictures. "How about twenty-five percent of his little empire? He and I are about to have a major falling out, and I find that I want to sell my part of his business."

Sebastian sounded interested, but demurred. "That is not enough for control. I'd still have to watch Bill's too low prices cut profits to nothing."

I cringed. Sebastian had a number of smaller chains both in our state and neighboring ones. He would put stores just about anywhere, but tended to charge a premium claiming that the risk justified a higher profit. Bill had always tried to keep his prices down, which had been the source of a lot of friction when they met at awards banquets. If I went through with my plan a good number of innocent people would see prices jump at their local convenience store. I took a deep breath and continued. "Yes, but Bill only retains forty percent ownership. The rest has been sold to investors and trustees when he needed funds for the expansion. I expect you can talk several of them into either selling or signing proxies over to you, and granting you majority control."

Sebastian laughed. 'Ouch. I'm glad I'm not the one you are mad at. I'll have to do some checking, see if what you say is true. I'll keep it low key, at least for now."

The line clicked indicating that Sebastian had hung up just as the receptionist called out. "She can see you now."

I thanked her as I stood up. Morgana and Lance noticed and both jumped to their feet, although Lance held onto the magazine. I walked over to the door and opened it, stepping into Debra's office and waiting for my children to enter with me.

"Sir," I heard Debra say. 'This is a law office, not a playground."

"I'm sorry," I replied as I turned to look at Debra. "I have no one to look after them, and I promise they will be good."

I could feel Morgana's tiny hand grasp mine as Debra looked at us with a slight frown on her face, but after a moment's silence she relented, waving me to a chair. "I see you didn't come with your friend today. Why are you back so soon?"

"Ex-friend," I grumbled before continuing more loudly. "She decided to start her games early, and I realized that these two," I indicated my children who were now quietly looking at the magazine while sitting in the other chair, "are my only concerns right now. I don't care if it's a separation, divorce or whatever; I just want to protect my children and my right to see them, and to get myself away from Jenny financially if possible. I definitely don't want to touch her sexual after what she did last night."

"Not a divorce?" Debra said, holding a pad in front of her.

"Well, I'm concerned mostly with the children. Jenny and others have pretty much soured me on marriage, so why get divorced, since I don't think I'll get remarried ever? I'd rather not have my money supporting her play, and I want no part of being with her, that's all," I fumed.

Debra nodded. "Sounds like a typical divorce really. We could try for a separation, but in the end it would work out about the same. Now, this is going to be complex and long. After we file, there will be a lot of paperwork to show your assets and the division of them, then your ex gets to challenge that. If she doesn't challenge a divorce can be completed in a month and official in six, but she could delay it more than a year if she decides to fight."

Morgana looked up. "Can I stay with daddy?"

Debra dropped her pen in shock. "Wouldn't you want to be with your mother?"

Morgana shook her head. "She never pays attention to us anymore. She sends us to our rooms or let's us watch TV while she talks to the evil lady."

Debra was quiet. "At your age, judges rarely listen to the children. Well Roger, did you know about this?"

I was still looking over at Morgana. "This is the first I had heard of this. It appears I've been missing quite a bit recently."

Debra smiled. "Hard working fathers often seem to miss quite a bit. Now, I guess we'll need to start the paperwork and prepare to file. This will start rather simply. I'll create a Notice of Intent for you, which is filed with the court and then served on Jenny. After that we'll have to fill out and submit formal claims of assets and our planned division. I can have the Notice filed tomorrow if you can provide me with the following information." She passed over a prepared form with several boxes. They asked for the value of the house and mortgage, any auto or other loans and amount in any savings or checking accounts.

I nodded, thanking my sleepless night that had resulted in my looking up most of this information already. "I have most of this already. I'm not sure of some of the credit card balances though. Jenny might have used them since the last statements."

Debra seemed to smile. "If you have the last statement amount, that's good enough for the initial filing. Do you want to fill that out now?"

I looked at the clock that read four-forty-five. "Could I? It will take me about ten minutes, and I'd hate to keep you from anything."

"Only dinner," Debra replied. "I had a couple of court appearances this morning, so I scheduled a light afternoon to catch up, but most of my cases are under control."

Some devil inside me spoke before I could stop it. "Then, give me ten minutes, and then my kids and I will gladly take you to dinner."

I found myself suddenly blushing and looked down at the form, starting to fill it out as the silence in the room extended. The pause gave me time to complete the first few boxes when Debra spoke. "Dating your lawyer is not allowed, Mr. Vinson. Shame on you!"

Morgana giggled at this, but I looked directly at Debra. "I'm sorry, it just slipped out. But I do appreciate that you are so human about this. I've always pictured lawyers as-"

"Slimy bottom-dwelling scum-suckers?" Debra said with a laugh.

"Touché," I said as Lance looked up. "I'm sure you've heard them all."

Debra nodded, but appeared to be considering something. "Just so you know, I don't date."

I looked at Debra, and for the first time seemed to notice her past the professional business suit. She had her brunette hair in a tight bun, much like a teacher might, but its mass suggested that once let down it would reach most of the way to her waist. Her face was surprisingly youthful, except for her distant green eyes, which had dark shadows flowing behind them. The attire was extremely professional and proper, with not a thread out of place, and absolutely no allure. It gave Debra an aura of majesty while also saying "Keep Away."

But somehow I was undeterred. "Charge it to me as part of the consultation. You can advise my children and me on what to expect and the best way to maintain our relationship throughout this," I replied. "Please."

"Oh please," Morgana suddenly said beside me. "I know I'll get stuck with mommy, and I need to know that she can't keep dad away."

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