Returning home that evening, he was just beginning to stir on the sofa. Good, she thought, his defenses will be lower. She presented him with a favorite treat from her work, hoping that would grease him up a little bit more. Biting down the bile, she formed her strategy and began to frame her request. "You know how you say I've been putting on weight? Well, I've found a great way to get back into shape for you. You're going to think I'm so silly. Jen's asked me to start rollerskating with her." She smiled what she hoped was her best airhead grin. He laughed in that short, derisive way she dreaded. "And who do you think is going to pay for it? Haven't you got it yet? We don't have the money for your stupid projects." Aha, she thought. His first line of defense had gone up. But she was prepared. She knew her enemy, it was the first part of any skirmish. "Debbie is going on holidays, and I'm going to be covering her shifts. The skates aren't so much, really, and membership is only 25 dollars." Best not to mention the roller derby now, he'd never go for that. She added what she hoped would seal the deal in her favor. "Why, when we put that extra money on the card to buy the skates, there should be lots left for you!" Eyes narrowed, he seemed to acquiesce. Then came what she had known would be the next volley. "I suppose you'll expect me to drive you. I don't know what you think that car runs on, but it's not free. And I don't want to waste my time driving you around." The back of her neck tightened as she bit back a thousand biting responses. How she hated being told she wasn't worth it. "Don't worry, I've got that covered." She feigned cheeriness. "Megan from work is going to lend me her bus pass." Careful, careful, she thought. Don't seem too proud, to independent, or he will crush you. "It will be hard to figure out how to get there all by myself, but I'm sure the driver can help me." Along pause, his eyes still narrowed at her. Just kill me now if this doesn't work, she thought. I can't live without hope anymore. He lit a cigarette, and slowly exhaled. "Guess I can't see why you shouldn't. You're right, you do need to get that ass back into shape. " That barb had stung, and she hated herself for simpering at him like that. But this battle was hers. A rare feeling of pride and hope grew within, and she was careful to hide it.