“Mrs. Arlia Wilson”

The outside envelope made me giggle a little. Who could have known that in less than twenty-four hours my name would change?

I couldn’t believe that after all the years of struggles and having to put up with Dean’s bullshit I would have finally been back to me.

Arlia Jones.

I missed my maiden name as I stared down at the envelope. Inside this heavy, brown ticket to my freedom was the one thing I couldn’t wait for.

They were my divorce papers, and even though the mere thought of the word almost brought me to tears. I couldn’t help feeling a small bit of joy out of it. I was the product of a broken home, and I thanked God every single day that I had not brought a child into this world to suffer the way I did when my parents split.

I loved Dean more than anything on this earth. I wasn’t sure that marrying him so early on in our relationship had been the best idea, but he was insistent upon it. He loved me so much, or at least that’s what he claimed.

I just think he hated the thought of anyone else having me. He was my first everything. He was my first love, my first sexual experiences and now my first heartache. I’d never even been with another man, and as I crept closer to my 23rd birthday, I knew that I could fully experience life for the first time. It wasn’t like I would go out and find a new guy each night – I wasn’t that kind of girl. I just wanted to know what it felt like to have someone else hold me.

And hopefully not be so damn overbearing.

I first realized how completely overbearing he was the night he knocked out Heath Baker for accidentally grazing my ass at a small reunion we held for our friends. Heath meant absolutely no harm, but Dean went into complete freak out mode and punched him square in the nose. I am still apologizing to Heath for Dean’s barbaric behavior.

At first, it seemed sweet that he was so protective over me, but eventually, I couldn’t put up with it anymore. The night I asked for the divorce was the hardest night of my life. Dean’s reaction was the part that worried me the most. He was so calm about it all. He didn’t show any emotion whatsoever, and that made it easier for me.

If he wasn’t hurting on the outside, I could do this.