"Shall we toast my freedom from the lying bitch?" I ask.
"Toast your separation?" Bernard asks back.
"No, my divorce," I correct him quickly.
"Divorce Anna if you will, Heinrich. But I'd advise against it."
"Why? She's a slut."
"And are you not the same? You screw other women."
"Yes, but not so she doesn't know. I don't do it on the sly. I don't hide my passions, and I've never wanted something from a submissive that I couldn't get as easily from Anna. Besides, she loves this man."
"Maybe she loves him, Heinrich, because you're unlovable."
"I haven't changed a wit in four years of marriage."
"And you should have," he declares. "You should have developed something deeper than just your S&M."
"It's all we had."
He stares at me with his big black eyes like he's going to win me over to his cloying point of view. Bernard is a handsome black man with a heart like a lamb. Eyes that make women melt, and he's usually sincere about it.
"Are you sure that's all you had? Or were you both too lazy to see if there was anything else to make of your relationship?" he asks.
"She lied, Bernard. Snuck around like a little cheat. She played the game all wrong."
"Marriage is more than a game."
"Not for us."
He sighs, hating me. Ah, my efficient attorney is far too romantic for me.
"She humiliated you," he just keeps going. (Suppose that's what makes a good litigater, he doesn't stop.)
"I'm won't be humiliated, not by any woman, least of all Anna. Yes, I suppose I'm partly to blame. Maybe I didn't screw her ass enough. I'll acknowledge that. But I won't have her in my life any longer. Draw up the papers."
"Could be a cry for help, you know."
"I'm not a psychiatrist."
"She doesn't need a psychiatrist, but a husband."
"Frankly, I think that's a perfectly good solution. If she wants to bare her soul, let her talk to a counselor, or better yet, a priest-they don't charge."
"You are a cold bastard."
"Like I said, I haven't changed a wit, and I don't plan on changing now."
He looks at me as though I'm crazy. Perhaps I am. But I can't see what good a lot of introspection is going to do.
"I'll have the preliminary papers by the end of the week, then you can take a look at them."
"Don't dawdle." His face breaks out into a wide, white toothy smile as though he's going to take control of my future and manipulate some reconciliation. "She wants this as much as I do, trust me. Didn't take an hour for her to be out of the house and on her lover's doorstep."
He turns in his seat and sighs. "So, what are your plans now?"
"What do you want to do with your life?"
"I want to get a divorce. I want to sell that little hovel in the woods..."
"Why not give it to Anna?"
"Never. And immediately, there's a lovely little sub in my office that I plan to cultivate."
"There are no other Annas. She has a corner on the market."
"You don't see any blame for yourself in this impasse with her, do you?"
"She knew what she was getting, and she loved it. She should have been happy. If she wasn't getting enough attention she could have spoken up."
"I'm not sure why I like you, Heinrich," he says with a sly smile. "Perhaps because you are cruel where I am not, and I can live through your demented mind vicariously."
"You think you're not cruel when you have a submissive ass to ream?"
"Not the way you're cruel, my friend. I've always believed that surrendering women need both heartlessness and love. The paradox is much more fascinating than cruelty alone."
"So, you think I have no compassion."
He's likely right. But I do love. I loved Anna, and always gave her what she needed. She knew that I could do no more.