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Thank You, Next
Author: Andie J. Christopher




   People never think about where divorce attorneys come from. How they are made. In Alex’s mind, she was sort of like a superhero who showed up to save her clients’ assets and, on very rare occasions, their dignity. But no one ever thinks about how a person decides to make their life’s work dismantling other people’s marriages.

   Alex Turner’s origin story was what one might have expected if one pondered how divorce attorneys came to be, before actually needing one. She came from a broken home and had a divorce-happy grandmother, which caused her to grow up too fast. Because all the adults around her were too chaotic, Alex became really good at putting her emotions on a shelf to deal with later—or never.

   Not feeling anything—and suppressing any stray emotions—came in handy when she was dealing with philanderers, fraudsters, and people who just couldn’t stand the sight of each other for another moment. She got paid the big bucks because she could keep her head on straight when everyone around her was losing their shit.

   The fact that she was so good at her job often gave people the impression that she was just as cold in everyday life. Just because she was a killer in the courtroom, she’d had more than one guy on a date think she could take harsh criticism that she could not—in fact—take.

   Alex was usually neutral about her clients’ soon-to-be-former spouses. However, she’d made an exception for Rogan Chase—a comic turned podcaster who espoused specious theories around everything from child-rearing to whether handwashing prevents infectious disease.

   Chase had filed for divorce when his wife didn’t lose every last ounce of baby weight within three months of giving birth, and he hadn’t even told her in a private conversation. Instead, he’d announced it on his podcast. He’d started a hashtag and gotten his wife doxxed, and Samantha had fled to her mother’s house.

   Unfortunately for Chase, Alex had made some modifications to the prenuptial agreement proposed by his attorney before the wedding—modifications that Chase hadn’t thought anything of at the time. She’d added a clause that stipulated that Samantha would receive a substantial payout every time Chase discussed his and Samantha’s relationship on-air.

   Chase’s red face and ample spittle as he hurled insults at his ex-wife while he signed over fifty percent of his assets, including an ongoing share of the income he derived from use of his name and image, warmed Alex’s cold heart just a little bit.

   In the midst of it all, Samantha leaned over and whispered, “I kind of wish my future income didn’t depend on him continuing to act like this.”

   Alex didn’t allow her face to change as she said, “He really should read what he’s signing.”

   Samantha choked on a laugh, and that set off Chase even more. To Alex’s surprise, one look from Chase’s lawyer got him to choke on whatever shitty thing he’d been about to say until he and Samantha had both signed the settlement agreement.

   Alex’s spine stiffened when Samantha and Chase’s lawyer left the conference room, because Alex saw the way he licked his lips at her. She leveled her hardest stare at him and said one word, “No.”

   “Well, I was going to ask you for a drink now that my divorce is final . . .”

   “And you think that makes you some sort of prize?”

   “I still have a lot of money.”

   Alex snorted. “Like that’s a recommendation.”

   “Not surprised you’re still single. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up all alone with a bunch of cats for company.”

   “Honestly, I’d rather have a whole Grey Gardens thing going than end up with someone like you.”

   “You have a bad attitude.”

   “No, sir. You’re the one with a bad attitude. You think it’s still 1974, when a woman couldn’t even have a credit card in her own name, and that someone should see that you have money and fall all over your dick. I’m sure you’ll find a woman who mistakenly thinks that slobbing your knob is easier than making her own way in the world, but she’ll wise up, too.”

   “You think you know me—”

   “Do yourself a favor and shut up before I encourage your wife to have second thoughts about leaving you someplace to live that isn’t a refrigerator box on Skid Row.” Chase closed his mouth with an audible snap. “I may not have spent much time with you, but I know you. You’re nothing but a racist, misogynist, fatphobic worm looking for a new warm, wet hole to burrow into.” And he hadn’t even put up a fight when his wife had asked for sole custody. That truly made him irredeemable.

   Chase looked her up and down. “Now, I’m hitting on you, so I can’t be racist.”

   Alex rolled her eyes so hard that she thought she pulled something. “Oh, so you’ve backed down from your whole ‘I don’t see color, BUT’ schtick. But let me spare you. My grandmother was the most famous Black woman in the world in the 1970s and 1980s. She was basically Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Cardi B combined. The first thing she taught me about being a woman of color—particularly a Black woman—is that people who don’t see color don’t see humanity. You don’t see the humanity of any woman, especially not your wife, and I have a good feeling that it would be ten times worse for a Black or Brown woman who you somehow hoodwinked into fucking you.”

   “You bitter little bitch.”

   Alex clapped her hands together and laughed ruefully. “There it is.”

   “There what is? How the fuck did you get through law school? You talk in circles.”

   “You asked me out and then called me a bitch as soon as I challenged you. Because I see right through you. You’re my bread and butter and the reason I drive a Maserati.”

   Alex turned to leave, more than done with this ghoul. As the door to the conference room closed behind her, she heard him muttering, “Stuck-up cu—”


* * *


   • • •

   Alex was still shaken by her encounter with Chase when she got home from work that night. The only good things about the day were that it was Friday, her DVR was chock-full of her favorite shows, and she’d remembered to put a bottle of rosé into the fridge before heading to the office.

   Unfortunately, Chase wasn’t the first former spouse who’d hit on her before the ink on his divorce decree was dry. In fact, her clients’ former spouses were more likely than a barista or a bartender to hit on her these days. The flirtation from associates at Trader Joe’s hawking samples felt like it came from a purer place than when a man who had recently blown up his marriage—likely through some real douchebag behavior—decided that she’d be a good next victim.

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