Hate Notes(3)

By: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

Thrives within deadline-driven conditions.

Last week, he sent me to La Perla to pick up two gifts—something nice for his wife’s birthday, and something sexy for a “special friend.” I might have added a little something for myself on the jerk’s bill. Lord knows I couldn’t afford a thirty-eight-dollar thong these days.

Demonstrates superb work ethic and commitment to special projects.

After adding a few more bullshit, buzzword-phrased accomplishments, I sent my résumé off to a dozen new temp agencies and rewarded myself with a full-to-the-brim glass of wine.

What an exciting life I led. Twenty-seven and single in New York City on a Friday night, and I’m sporting sweats and a T-shirt at barely eight o’clock. But I had no desire to go out. No desire to sip sixteen-dollar martinis at fancy bars where men like Todd wore expensive suits to hide their inner wolf. So instead, I clicked on Facebook and decided to check out the lives everyone else had—at least the ones they put on display.

My newsfeed was full of typical Friday-night posts—happy-hour smiles, pictures of food, and the babies some of my friends were already starting to have. I scrolled mindlessly for a while as I sipped my wine . . . until I came to a photo that made my swiping finger freeze. Todd had shared a photo posted by someone else. It was of him and a woman arm in arm—a woman who looked a lot like me. She could’ve passed for my sister. Blonde hair, big blue eyes, fair skin, full lips, and the foolishly adoring look I’d once had for Todd as well. The way they were dressed, I thought perhaps they were going to a wedding. Then I read the caption underneath:

Todd Roth and Madeline Elgin announce their engagement.

Their engagement?

Seventy-seven days ago—not that I was counting—our engagement had ended. And he’d already proposed to someone else? For fuck’s sake, she wasn’t even the woman I’d caught him cheating on me with.

It had to be a mistake. My hand shook with anger as I moved the mouse around and clicked to Todd’s home page. But, of course, it wasn’t a mistake. There were dozens of congratulatory notes—and he’d even responded to a few. He’d also posted a picture of their joined hands, showcasing the engagement ring on her finger. My. Damn. Engagement. Ring. My classy ex hadn’t bothered to have the setting changed after I threw it in his face while he was still zipping up his pants. There was no way he’d changed the mattress we’d slept on for two years before I moved out. In fact, Madeline was probably already a buyer at the Roth chain of department stores—sitting at my old desk, doing the job I’d quit so I wouldn’t have to look at his cheating face every day.

I felt . . . I wasn’t sure what I felt. Sick. Defeated. Aggravated. Replaceable.

Oddly, I didn’t feel jealous that the man I’d thought I loved had moved on. It just really hurt to be so easily substituted. It confirmed that what we’d had wasn’t special at all. After I’d broken things off, he’d vowed to win me back—told me I was the love of his life and that nothing would stop him from proving we were meant to be together. The flowers and gifts had stopped after two weeks. The calls had stopped after three. Now I knew why—he’d found the love of his life, again.

Shocking even myself, I didn’t cry. I just felt sad. Really sad. Along with my life, my apartment, my job, and my dignity, Todd had robbed me of the ideal I’d always believed in—true love.

I leaned back in my chair and shut my eyes, taking a few deep, cleansing breaths. Then I decided I wasn’t going to take this news lying down. This is crap! I had no choice but to take action. So I did what any scorned girl from Brooklyn would do after discovering her ex-fiancé didn’t wait for the bed to cool before bringing home another woman.

Finish off the bottle of wine.

Yep. I was drunk.

Even if my speech hadn’t been slurred, the fact that I was sitting in a feathered wedding gown with the zipper wide-open at the back, while slugging directly from a wine bottle, might have been a dead giveaway. I tilted my head back in a very unladylike manner and emptied the last drops before slamming the bottle down on the table. My laptop jolted, causing it to spring to life from sleep mode. The happy couple greeted me.