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He hunched his shoulders and picked up his pace. The man had followed this path home through this tiny park hundreds of times. He knew it better than he knew his own hand. So why on this night was his pulse racing? His hands sweating?

The word nerves came to mind, and he cursed himself for giving way to them.

He shook his head. Stephanie had threatened him. Had told him she would never forgive him. He had never seen such anger, but what could she actually do? She had no power, no contacts.

He tightened his coat collar and cast his gaze over the glistening snow. It was a frigid night. A night better spent driving home instead of wandering home through a deserted park.

He sighed and lifted his head. Dumping Stephanie had sounded so simple. It was the perfect solution, probably the only solution really. How could he know she would take his decision so hard? He had never promised her forever. Still, he could hardly believe the trauma his decision had cost him.

He stepped past a string of pine trees. A punishing north wind pushed him sideways. He danced through a couple of quick steps, arms flailing, to avoid plunging to the frigid ground.

Recovering, he swore softly and shoved his coat sleeve back, and glanced at his watch. Late now. The street lights were on. But it was the puddle of blackness between lights that made him shiver.

He needed to think. Needed to come up with an excuse for missing dinner.

He paused, cast a glance backwards. Had he heard something? He squinted., peered around bushes.  Shook his head. “Nothing there,” he reassured himself.

He set out again, his thoughts shifting now to Angela. Beautiful, faithful, boring Angela. The perfect wife. The woman who would one day morph into an exceptional mother.

He inwardly cringed. What had he been thinking? He was lucky to have her.

Had it been old habits or the siren song of a first love that had driven him back into Stephanie’s arms? That woman was like a fine wine. Difficult to put down. But so what? He needed to stay focused on what he wanted. A respectable life. An organized home. A family.

He rounded a corner. A figure stepped in front of him, blocking his way.  She held a knife in front of her. Lamplight glinted off the hard steel of the blade just before it found his beating heart.

“Angela,” he cried as his breath failed him, but his prayer was lost to the roar of the wind.

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