April 30, 2015

Elizabeth's Story

by Jessica Knoll

There was one more person I needed to see before I dropped the following bomb on my father: Peter and I were getting divorced, it was a mutual decision, and if he even so much as considered cutting me off I would go straight to Constance and tell her all about his affair with Izzy. Oh, and while you're at it, dear Daddy, you're going to place a call to your former fraternity brother, Judge Erik Jacobsen, and have him throw out Campbell's sentence. You don't think you can make that happen? I'll be sure to remind Constance that Izzy is young enough to be your daughter. Oh, what's that? You'll do your best? Well, that's all I ask for, father. That you do your best. 

I imagine I was feeling something akin to what a medical student would feel just a few months shy of graduation. How long does it take to become a doctor? Ten years? Twelve? Fifteen? I was thirty-three when I set the divorce into motion, thirty-four by the time all was said and done. That would make it twelve years since Campbell and I were forced apart. Twelve years I'd been trying to find my way back to him. Clandestine trysts on the side didn't count. I wanted to be with this man, and I didn't want to have to hide it.

I was giddy as I walked into Dorrian's, which was where I had told Biz to meet me. We used to go there all the time when we first graduated, but now we were far too old for the place. Still, I felt there was something poetic about holding our first tête-à-tête since I'd fucked her husband in a place so bloated with memories of the good old days.

Biz wasn't there when I arrived, even though I made sure to show up eleven minutes late, trying to avoid this very power imbalance. The person who arrives last always holds the cards. I found a seat at one of the tables, preternaturally covered in red checkered tablecloths, trying not to let Biz's tardiness take the wind out of my sails. She's obviously demolished, I reminded myself. Maybe it just took her some extra time to drag herself out of her bed, no doubt strewn with dirty tissues, and make herself look presentable.

So imagine my surprise when the door swung open and in walked Biz, looking thinner than she had on her wedding day, wearing her highest, most painful shoes. I pinched my shoulder blades together as she approached. What was this all about?

"Hello, Elizabeth," Biz said, perfectly pleasant. "I'll take an Absolut on the rocks," she said, dismissing the waiter before he could even put a glass of water in front of her. Biz clucked at my drink. "Club soda bloats, Elizabeth." She patted her suspiciously flat tummy.

"For you mere mortals yes, it does, Biz." I took a big gulp of my drink and winked at her.

Biz's smug expression wavered, ever so slightly. "So what am I doing here, Elizabeth?"

"Well, I thought we should talk."

"About the fact that you fucked my husband three weeks after our wedding? Nice touch leaving those handcuffs in my underwear drawer, by the way." Biz narrowed her eyes and gave me the A-okay sign.

Now the smug expression on my face wavered. This was not the Biz I had been expecting. The Biz I had been expecting was a puddle of tears, swollen from trying to eat away the pain of this betrayal, demanding to know why. Why I would do this to her when she had been the one to out Izzy to me, and to help me exact my revenge on her? She had been nothing but a good and loyal friend to me all these years. How could I do this to her?

Then I would ask her calmly to drop the wide eyed dumpy sidekick act and finally admit, after all these years, that she had been the one to orchestrate the events that led to Bridget's death, in retaliation for my fucking Pat Denson, then tried to pin it all on Izzy. Maybe we'd even have a moment of understanding, she and I, now that we were finally being honest with each other. In some musty back corner of my mind, I'd even cordoned off an atom of hope that this, right here, could be the start of a beautiful, real friendship. We were a pair of stone cold psychos, the two of us. We belonged together.

But this Biz, this magnificently thin, eerily calm and cool creature before me, I didn't recognize at all. And it was unnerving as hell.

"Yes, I thought we should maybe talk about the fact that I fucked your husband," I said. "And also about the fact that you were the one, not Izzy, who spearheaded my abduction."

Biz snorted. "Oh, don't be so dramatic, Elizabeth." She pointed at her impossibly forehead, smooth as the butt of a baby I could not conceive, and whispered, "Gives you wrinkles."

"I completely agree," I said. "So glad to see you finally made an appointment with my dermatologist. I could have written my memoir on the lines in your forehead." I gestured at her. "This is a good look for you. The scorned wife. You really wear it well. You should be thanking me."

"That's exactly what I came here to do, Elizabeth," Biz said. "I wanted to thank you."

I shifted in my seat. I did not like where this was heading. "I'm not sure what I'm being thanked for."

"We had a prenup, Brad and I. If the marriage dissolves on account of any extracurricular activities, I'm entitled to 32% of his monthly income, plus I get stock in his father's firm." Biz leaned forward. "And did you know that next month his father is taking his company public?" Biz rubbed her fingers together and smiled the way she used to smile when she had an economy sized bag of Cool Ranch Doritos nestled in her lap. "I'm never going to have to work again. Which I sucked at anyway. On top of that, I don't have to be married to fucking Brad anymore. He's a total dead fish in bed, am I right?" She laughed and polished off the rest of her drink.

"Oh!" she added. "And one more thing. If you are planning on blackmailing your own father—you know, tell him if he cuts you off for being the one to ruin your marriage with Peter that you'll tell Constance about his affair with Izzy. Or maybe," Biz gasped, "you're even thinking you can convince him to free Campbell in exchange for you keeping his affair a secret from Constance. Why does Campbell get a pass anyway? Why do you still love him after all this? He helped us, as you say, 'abduct' you."

I pinched my lips together and said nothing.

Biz laughed. "Whatever. That's your issue. The point is, I wouldn't bother proposing that to your father."

I felt my face go hot. "And why is that?"

Biz reached into her purse and extracted her wallet. "Because I already got to her."

"What do you mean you already got to her?" I asked through my teeth.

Biz tapped her temple. "I know how your sick little mind works. I went to see Peter a few days ago. You know, check in on him. See how he's doing." I had given Peter the apartment while we worked out how to tell our friends and family we were getting a divorce. I was staying at The Ritz-Carlton, in Battery Park, where I had taken Campbell all those years ago. I'd even requested the same room. "He is really not doing well, Elizabeth." Biz tsked. "He looked like he hadn't showered or gotten out of bed in days. Anyway. I may have said something along the lines of you being a total cunt face, and he actually defended you." She laughed her disbelief. "The guy has to be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome or something. Anyway, he said that yes what you did was detestable but that what I had done to you was far worse. He went after Izzy too. How on top of everything, she had had an affair with your father and that he could tell you were really destroyed by hearing that."

I thought I might grind my back molars into sand I was working my jaw so hard. "So Constance knows."

Biz nodded, sadly. "Oh yes, I told her. Poor thing. She took it pretty hard too. I always liked her. A shame she got caught up with your fucked up family."

I wanted to reach across the table, wrap my hands around Biz's chicken neck, and slam it into the checkerboard tablecloth again and again until I saw brain matter. Izzy's affair with my father was my leverage. Without it, my father had no incentive not to cut me off or pull the strings I needed him to pull to get Campbell out of jail.

Biz dropped a fifty on the table. Our order, combined, couldn't have been more than twelve dollars. "I've got to get going. Dinner with the girls. I don't think I've ever been this popular before! People are so nice to you when your husband cheats on you with your best friend."

Biz pushed her chair out and stood. "It's been real, Elizabeth." She thought for a second. "It really has, actually. I wouldn't be the woman I am without you."

I gave her a sad smile. "I hope you find whatever it is you're looking for that you think will make you happy."

Biz tilted her head. "Same to you."

I waited until I couldn't hear Biz any longer, clicking her way out of the bar in her new Choos. Then I found my phone in my purse and placed a call.

"I need to see you," I said. "Right this moment." I waited a beat. "Great. Twenty minutes?"

- -

There was a faded crease etched into the side of Bart's face when he sat down across from me in the hotel bar. Had he been sleeping? It was not even 10pm. God, he was old.

"I brought them," Bart said, pulling a thick pile of papers out of his cracked leather briefcase. I ripped the stack of documents, detailing the terms of my trust, from his hands.

"Elizabeth, what in heaven's name are you looking for?"

I scanned page one and flipped it. "A loophole."

"A loophole for what?"

I paused for a second. "Remember you told me that if the marriage dissolves on my account the financials of the trust no longer apply?"

"Yes, those are your father's terms."

"Well, what happens if a third party is involved?"

"That's precisely the point," Bart said. "If you were to have extramarital relations with a"—

"No, no," I shook my head. "I mean a third party like a child."

Bart's eyes widened. "Are you pregnant?"

I thrust the papers at him. It was like reading Greek. "I'm not. But what if I was?"

Bart held up a finger, like inspiration had just struck. Then he licked the pad of that same finger and flipped through several pages. "I believe what you are looking for can be found here."

He slid page 9 across the bar top. I picked it up, gingerly, as though it could dissolve in my hands at any moment if I wasn't careful. I held the fine print up to the soft overhead lights, and there, under term 7, paragraph C, was exactly what I was looking for. It was a long shot, but if I ever wanted to see Campbell again, it was also my only hope.

- -

Just a friendly reminder: only ONE more day to sign up for my newsletter and in doing so, enter to win one of ten free advanced copies of Luckiest Girl Alive, signed by me! You can do that by going to my website, scrolling to the bottom, and entering your email address.

Not feeling very lucky? (Har, har, had to). From now until May 12th, you can preorder an e-book of Luckiest Girl Alive for the reduced price of $9.99 by going here, here, or here!





33 comments:

  1. Replies
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  2. Ugh. I hope Biz gets hit by a car. What will I do on Thursdays once this blog is over?!

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  3. I am obsessed with Elizabeth. Is it sad that I want to be more like her? So absolutely raw on the inside, but her exterior is so cool! Love it!

    Living on a Prayer and Merlot is back! new post will be up tonight!

    livingonaprayerandmerlot.blogspot.com

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  4. It says the paperback of your book is unavailable on amazon?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup that's because it's not a paperback! You can either pre-order the hardcover or the e-book (the e-book is the one that is available for the reduced price, but only for a limited time).

      Some books come out for the first time as paperbacks, others as hardcovers. With hardcovers, which mine is, the publisher usually releases a paperback version a year later. They're less expensive to produce and so they can sell them at a lower cost, and hopefully hook another wave of readers!

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  5. You know, Biz makes a good point. Why DOES campbell get off scot free with Liz? He was just as much a part of it as the rest of them. Oh, if only Biz was a hot rugged dude, maybe Liz would go easy on her…
    Doesn't matter now, though, because Biz basically just did the most perfect Elizabeth-like thing to Elisabeth possible. It started with Elizabeth fucking Biz over, and ended with Biz fucking Elizabeth over. She defied every expectation and threw in her own dirty work as an afterthought. It was, in fact, the perfect way to end their story. I do wish they could have somehow rebuilt a friendship based on this honesty, but quite frankly, I wouldn't want either one of them as friends either.
    Can't wait to see how this story ends...

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    Replies
    1. I'm thinking it's because Biz was her friend before the incident. She hadn't met Campbell yet so it wasn't personal

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  6. Chris - @nylonlover69 on IG/TwitterApril 30, 2015 at 2:42 PM

    Yup. You're definitely "a pair of stone cold psychos". And unfortunately that's like being the same polarity of two different magnets. Now you repel each other instead of being attracted.

    I totally agree with what 2:24 Anonymous says above, that Biz did the most perfect Elizabeth-like thing possible, flipping the power away from her. Doesn't stop her from being a total bitch though.

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    Replies
    1. oh yeah, the two of them are poisonous people, frankly they were poisonous in a different way before the abduction. Liz stewed over Biz, biz was a desperate leech latching onto the most powerful…(sigh)
      maybe they could have been like an extra evil thelma and louise…who knows.

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  7. I could not imagine a possible way to end this... I have been coming up withideas but none of them were good enough.... except this! omg you are amazing!!!

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  8. I was one of lucky girls who snagged an advanced reader copy of Luckiest Girl Alive. I finished reading the book a couple weeks ago (curse my job for interfering with my time to read and catch up on LSP) but I wanted to share with you all that this book is amazing!! It's haunting, heartfelt, captivating, tragic and triumphant. It was a gripping page-turner that I could not put down.

    Jessica, congratulations on a wonderful novel and for the major success you've reached already with this novel. Your truly deserve it as you are such a brilliant story-teller. Your writing, not just in this book, but with this blog as well, is addictive and enthralling.

    As you mentioned we would in a previous post about this book and it's main character Ani, I didn't quite care for her in the beginning. She was harsh and brutal and I was not rooting for her. However, as the story progressed and we learned more about Ani and why she is the way she is, it made sense and all of a sudden, she wasn't just the luckiest girl, she was also one of the most relatable; one I think many people will be able to find they can relate to on some level. The depth of Ani's character is limitless.

    Recently, there's been a surge in suspenseful thriller and mystery books with strong and independent female lead characters. Although the theme and genre of the book is similar to many books out there, the plot of Luckiest Girl Alive stands out on it's own and is remarkable and memorable. I strongly believe Ani will join the ranks of these extraordinary characters, along with Amy Dunne (Gone Girl), Rachel Watson (The Girl on the Train), Libby Day (Dark Places), Kate Baron (Reconstructing Amelia), Jodi Brett (The Silent Wife), Camille Preaker (Sharp Objects), and Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) just to name a few and that Jessica Knoll will join the ranks of phenomenal writers with the author of these novels. Bravo Jessica!

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    Replies
    1. Wow, I want to print out this review and carry it with me everywhere I go and read from it whenever people ask me about the book! You got it all, EXACTLY what I was going for. I love readers like you.

      Also, Camille Preaker is forever my number one favorite fucked up bad ass female character. Sharp Objects was a hugely influential book for me. It was the first time I realized in what vein I wanted my writing to be.

      Thank you again. You made my day!

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    2. You're very welcome!! You deserve my praise as well as much much more. I didn't intend on my post being a "review" for the book, although I'm certainly glad it came out that way so people will be enticed to buy and read this book!

      I'm not a book reviewer or editor or even involved in the literary world (besides working part time at a bookstore) but I just felt so compelled to tell you what I thought of your novel and how incredible I found it. That was the true purpose of my post to you. When I first found out you were writing a book (when you announced it on LSP), I was extremely excited and I'm glad you proved I had a very good reason to be excited!

      Whenever I see or hear about Luckiest Girl Alive, I immediately am excited because I feel that I, along with other LSP readers have almost been privy to some hidden gem for years and now we finally get to share it with the world; that we got to experience your writing long before this novel and that one of our own "family members" is getting the praise and recognition she greatly deserves.

      Sharp Objects is an amazing book and is certainly one of my favorites!! Books like Sharp Objects, Gone Girl, Reconstructing Amelia, and now LGA are my absolute favorite type of books to read! I'm so happy to add LGA to my list of favorite books and must reads!

      Thank you for taking the time to read my comment(s).

      - Jessica C. from California (sorry, I don't have any of the listed forums to reply as; can only reply as anonymous)

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  9. I want Biz to really really suffer...I know it's mean but I do

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    Replies
    1. I do too! I never thought I would empathize with Elizabeth, but thanks to Jessica's writing I do.

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  10. Wow! This just makes me so much more excited for your book but I am sad to see the blog end.

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  11. Jessica-

    I never comment on these but I feel compelled to tell you just how much I've enjoyed your writing and how talented you are.

    When I first found Josie's story, I read every post prior and have been keeping up every week since. You are so awesome at bringing characters to life and I know you have amazing things ahead. Excited to follow along and see what lies ahead for you!

    Congrats on everything xx

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  12. (Im)Patiently waiting to see if I've won a copy because if I haven't I need to preorder now :)

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  13. is the copy of your book available in India ?

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  14. Just found out that your first book event will be right near my house, and I have pre-ordered the book for my nook. I'm so sad to see your blog come to end, but can't wait til your book is released!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Which one? The Main Point Books event? Can you make it??

      Delete
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    قصص سكس و نيك


    صور سكس و نيك

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    قبول اختي سهام في الجامعة /محارم

    الولد الشقى واخته وهى نايمه (احلى سكس )

    عهد و اخيها انس قصة اخ واخته فى بلاد الغربة

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    قصص سكس و صور نيك

    قصص سكس و نيك


    صور سكس و نيك

    نيك اختي .... و لا اروع


    قبول اختي سهام في الجامعة /محارم

    الولد الشقى واخته وهى نايمه (احلى سكس )

    عهد و اخيها انس قصة اخ واخته فى بلاد الغربة

    هيثم وريم اختة

    قصة الجناينى وست البيت

    قصة اللص الذي سرق البيت واغتصب المرأه المتزوجه


    ناك حبيبته المتزوجه فوق السطح


    قصص سكس و صور نيك

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    نيك اختي .... و لا اروع


    قبول اختي سهام في الجامعة /محارم

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    ناك حبيبته المتزوجه فوق السطح

    ReplyDelete