The following morning she was in the kitchen when he came in. He looked like he’d hardly slept at all. She forced a smile.

“Sleep well?

He nodded, though hadn’t. He was confused, she’d made him toast, and poured him coffee. He sat and ate his breakfast and tried to work out what she was doing. He got ready for work and as he headed for the door she stopped him.

“Oh, Ian. Leave the family credit card.

He looked at her. She smiled.

“I’m going to buy a car.

He’d told her years ago that she didn’t need a car, he would drive her anywhere that she wanted to go. He hesitated and looked at her.

“A car?

She nodded.

“Not a new one, just something to run around town in.

She paused.

“Unless you think that I should call Bob and ask him if it’s a good idea?

He sighed. It had started. She was going to bleed him dry.

He took out the card and left it on the sideboard and went to work.

She got dressed and took a taxi into town, determined that it would be the last time that she did that. Two hours later she’d made her decision. She hadn’t gone overboard, it was after all her money too. But she’d spent just under five-thousand on a 2005 Mazda MX-5. It was over twelve years old but a mechanic friend of her son Robert had met her and checked it out. He’d assured her that it was well worth the money, and had no obvious problems that he could tell, and was a great car.

“It’s a cool car Mrs. James.

She smiled at him.

“Please, Sally.

She looked at the young man and realised that she was flirting with him. ‘He’s the same age as your son!’ she thought. Then turned away as she felt her face redden.

As she signed the papers she had another thought. The fact that it was a two-seater, and convertible, she knew that, would piss her husband off, which was a bonus.

She organised her insurance and she had a couple of hours to kill whilst they prepared her car, so she called an old friend of hers. Anna was surprised to hear from her. They hadn’t spoken much for a year or so, and when Sally asked to meet her for lunch she was even more surprised.

She met her friend in town and after they’d hugged each other and ordered drinks they sat at a table and looked over the menu. Anna couldn’t wait any longer and told her that she was so surprised to hear from her. Sally apologised and then told her the story of how Ian had slowly controlled her and ended up taking control of her life.

This was not a surprise to Anna, she and many of her other friends had seen this and even tried to intervene, but Sally hadn’t picked up on any of their hints and over time, they just gave up. Sally accepted that she should have listened to others and been more aware, but things had changed. She told Anna about her weekend with Jenny, and what she discovered about Ian.

“He took her to your home?” Anna asked.

Anna couldn’t believe it. Nor could she believe that she hadn’t thrown him out.

Sally smiled and told her that he would be leaving, but when she was ready for him to leave. Anna asked her what she meant by that.

“I’d love to be confident enough to show him just what he had thrown away.

“What do you mean?” Anna asked.

“Well. I don’t believe that this was his only affair. We haven’t had sex, or been intimate for, well as long as I can remember.

Anna listened to her friend and realised what she needed, and wanted was a make-over, ‘and some new clothes too.’ She thought.

They finished their coffee and under Anna’s guidance, they went shopping. Sally was totally in her friend’s hands as she tried on outfits that she would never have thought about looking at. And armed with the family credit card she didn’t have to worry about the cost, and by the time she sat down in the chair at the salon she’d spent more on clothes and shoes in one day than she had done in the last five years.

They left the salon and she stopped and looked at her reflection in the mirror, she stared. She looked so different. Gone was her long, thick wavy hair, and she stared at a shoulder-length tapered hairstyle that made her look years younger.

Anna smiled at her.

“He’s not going to recognise you, Sally.

They walked towards the garage to collect her car.

Sally drove Anna home. She had the top down, it was a beautiful day and it felt good to drive along, her hair protected by a sun-hat that was pressed onto her head. Not only did she look younger, she felt younger too.

When he arrived home from work he saw her car parked in the drive. He rolled his eyes, ‘a convertible?’ He walked into the house and wondered what he would face, again she surprised him. He could smell a delicious aroma that wafted from the kitchen. He wandered in and found her sat at the table. She looked up at him.

He stared at her, he almost didn’t recognise her.

“Your hair?

She smiled and brushed her fingers through it.

“Yeah. Do you like it?

He did, he liked it a lot. God, she looked good.

“Dinner will be ten minutes.

He couldn’t take it much longer, he sat down opposite her.

“What are you doing Sally?

She looked at him as if she had no idea what he was talking about. He threw his arms out wide.

“All this! You find out that I cheated on you. You go out and buy a car, get your hair done. You haven’t thrown me out, and you’re still making me dinner?

She looked at him.

“I’ve also bought some new clothes.

He looked around him.

“So why am I not living in a hotel?

She stared at him.

“Do you want to live in a hotel?” She asked.

He looked even more confused.

“Listen Ian. You will go when I want you to go and not before. I still haven’t decided whether to tell Bob or not. So, until I decide you will continue to sleep here.

He stared at her. He felt his anger rise and he stared at her.

“What? Who do you think you are?

She glared at him.

“Me? I think I’m you! For years you have monitored and controlled my every movement. You drove all of my friends away until I only had you. You stopped me from driving in case I met new people, or god-forbid wanted to get out of the house for a while and enjoy myself. Now if you don’t like it then please say so, and I’ll call Bob.

He stared at her. He was speechless. She had him just where she wanted him. He wasn’t going to take it. He stood up and stared at her.

“Fuck this! I’m going tonight. You’re crazy.” He yelled.

He stormed out of the kitchen and stomped upstairs. He was in his room mumbling as he threw some clothes into a case. He closed the case and noticed that she was stood at the door. He stared at her.

“What do you want now?

She smiled and held out her mobile.

“It’s for you.

He glared at her, then at the mobile.

“What have you done?

His heart raced as he thought that she’d called his boss.

She dropped her mobile on his bed and walked out and into her room next door. She listened as he picked it up.

“Hello? Oh thank god, it’s you, I thought she’d called Bob.

Sally listened as he talked to Kelly.

“I don’t care! She’s fucking crazy!” He shouted.

She listened as he became more frustrated.

“You wouldn’t?

Sally smiled, she knew what Kelly had just told him. She’d tell her dad that he’d got her drunk and then blackmailed her with photos to keep sleeping with him. There was a few minutes of silence as she waited in her room. After a while, he knocked on the door and came in. He gave the phone back to her.

“What changed you, Sally? This isn’t you. You’re not like this.

She toyed with her mobile as she stared out of the window.

“Unfortunately, this is the new me. And what changed? You did. You forced me to do this. All I wanted was to be loved, Ian. And you did love me, in the beginning, but you couldn’t stop at that could you?

He left and headed into his bedroom, he knew that there wouldn’t be any point in staying.

Next chapter