On the ride over to Natasha's house, Ellen's cell phone began ringing pulling her out of her thoughts. Looking down she noticed it was her husband, Jonathan. Rolling her eyes up towards the roof of the car, she ignored the call knowing that he was only calling to apologize for yet another beating. She began crying, while mentally sorting out the direction in which her life was heading. Ellen never imagined in a million years that Jonathan would ever hit her. She knew she should've walked away the first time he'd struck her, but he promised he would never do it again. However, having faith in her marriage, as well as Jonathan, she opted to stay with him. Ellen needed someone to talk to, but was cautious of anyone passing judgment on her. She so desperately wanted to share the events that were transpiring in her life with Natasha, but refused to burden her with her problems. Ellen took into account that Natasha was still having flashbacks from her violent childhood, so she decided not to share her problems with her. Like clockwork, Ellen answered her phone on the second ring, knowing if she had not, her punishment would be ten times worse. "Hello?" she said flatly.

"Where are you?" Jonathan questioned wryly.

“On my way to Natasha’s house.”

“I thought you were supposed to be meeting her earlier at T&G?” he asked in a more cynical tone.

Ellen rolled her eyes up into her head. This was something that agitated her about him. She was well aware that he was indeed stepping out on her, yet he always tried to angle things onto her as if she was the one cheating.

“We did meet and now we are on our way to her house since she had to pick up CJ.”

“Well, I need you here.”

“Jonathan, it’s rare that I get to hang out with my girls anymore. I’m always home with you and I’ll be home as soon as I leave there.” Ellen affirmed.

The phone fell silent as Ellen waited for Jonathan to vocalize some sort of explicit criticism. She recognized he wasn’t happy about the fact of her appearing to put her friends before him; truth be told, she wasn’t. “What the fuck do you mean you’ll be here as soon as you leave that bitch house?” Jonathan was seething, desperately wanting to lay hands on Ellen at this point. He had trained her not to talk back or disrespect him as she was doing. He made a mental note to check her on this later.

“Babe, calm down,” she retorted trying to soften him. “There is no need for the name calling. I was merely stating that I would be there as soon as I leave Natasha’s house. Jonathan, I hadn’t seen my godson in almost a month. I’ll be home in about an hour.”

“If you have your own damn kids, then you wouldn’t have to run your ass over there trying to play parent to someone else’s kids.”

“Come on. You’re being unreasonable. You know what the doctor said.”

“Yeah? How the hell am I supposed to know what the doctor said when you went there alone?” Jonathan yelled into the phone.

“Calm down.” She exhaled. “So, are you insinuating that I’m lying?” Ellen quizzed trying to find out what he knows.

“Ellen who the hell are you questioning?” Jonathan stood pacing the floor as he grew angrier by the second listening to his wife disrespect him.

Ellen knew where all of his hostility was stemming from. Jonathan was still bitter because she wouldn’t have any children with him. She concocted a story telling him she was unable to have any children due to medical reasons; truth was she wasn’t willing to bring any children into their abusive marriage. “Jon, we can discuss this further when I get in.” Seeing no other reasons to continue this conversation, she promptly hung up. Her nerves were on edge as she pulled her car over onto the shoulder of the road. Ellen shook and cried hysterically while thinking of how she wanted out, but didn’t know how to go about leaving. She held two degrees that weren’t being utilized since she quit her job. Ellen had opted to just sit at home after Jonathan decided he wanted her to be a stay at home wife. She had chosen not to listen to her friends when they encouraged her to work from home, so that she wouldn’t lose herself. Not giving any thought to quitting her job, she summed it up as them all being jealous of the fact that she didn’t have to work. In actuality, Jonathan was trying to make her lose her independence, to become solely dependent on him. To her surprise her husband didn’t bother calling her back. Ellen conceded that she would enjoy the remainder of the evening with her friends, knowing that it was going to be a minute before she would be able to do so again…

- Author Nichelle Wroten Lee

Duplicity is Nichelle Wroten Lee's first published novel, but certainly not her last! Duplicity is about three friends, all married to their high school and college sweethearts, who take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions and drama within their marriages; as well as their friendships.

By Nichelle Wroten Lee

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