Author's Note: Just a short story of love, betrayal, revenge and an attempt at reconciliation that fits in the Brownwood Collection. Welcome To Brownwood is a flash (1,000 word) description of the area for those who want a more detailed setting.
Warning, this isn't as 'aggressive' as some of my other BTB stories. It's kind of a RAAC with the All Costs being shared by both the husband and wife. If attempted reconciliation stories ain't your thing then I'd skip this one.
As with most of my stories, you won't find a lot of graphic sex in this one, actually none in the first chapter. The second and final chapter is finished and will be submitted a few days after the first.
Thanks to my volunteer editors, anonymous and findingmyvoice, for making this a better read. Yep, I needed two. I apparently need a LOT of help! LOL! Ladies, it's very much appreciated. BTW Any mistakes you find are mine, since I always tend to mess with my stories after I get them back from an editor.
Summer 2013 - Crystal Lake State Park (7 miles NW of Brownwood)
I picked up my drink, looked around at my surroundings, and smiled. Gawd, I love our little cabin! Well, it isn't exactly little or a cabin, it's a doublewide trailer sitting on two full acres over-looking Crystal Lake. My husband, David Jennings, inherited it several years ago from his grandparents. It's become our summer vacation home for the two or three weeks we spend up here at the lake each year. Someday we're going to build our dream home here.
As I grabbed my beach towel and headed back outside, I glanced at myself in the mirror. Now I'm not narcissistic but as I critiqued myself in my bikini, I had to smile. My pale green eyes set off what some have called a pretty face. At 5'10, waist length raven hair, and only twelve pounds heavier than my trim weight back in college, I knew I was still attractive. Damn girl, you look pretty good for a 37 year-old mother of two, I thought to myself. I took pride in the way I looked since I'd worked hard to keep my figure after having my kids.
I walked out onto our deck, lay down in the lounge chair, and stretched out. I immediately felt the hot summer sun begin doing its job of slowly baking me in my suntan oil. I could hear my family playing in the distance, down by the dock.
As I felt the sun melting me, I thought back on how hard this last year-and-a-half had been. My marriage of 15 years had been battered and bruised but it hadn't broken. It'd been difficult but we'd made it through.
I won't tell you we had a perfect marriage before this rough patch. Those are the dreams of fantasy and TV movies on the Hallmark Channel. But I can tell you truthfully, I love my husband more now than I ever have. The fact that I know he loves me makes that easy.
One of the main contributors to our current situation has been our jobs. Between the two, they've been wreaking havoc on our marriage. David is an independent financial investment consultant and I'm the Director of Design for a large corporation back home in Dallas.
David has been traveling more during this time than he ever has during our marriage. He landed two large business clients, one in Atlanta and one in Phoenix, and spends three or four days a month at each site. Add a monthly weekend seminar there in Dallas, and he hasn't been spending near the amount of time at home as he used to.
I don't want to make it seem like I'm blaming him for our current situation since I've thrown myself into my job as well. I travel a few times a year, visiting our clients and I regularly go to Chicago at least twice a year for training at our main corporate offices. Each training session usually lasts about a week.
The business travel, the frequent late nights trying to make project deadlines, and the hustle and bustle of raising two kids had left me exhausted. The thing that was beginning to wear on me the most though, was the constant advances my boss was making towards me.
Since his divorce two years ago, he'd been getting more and more aggressive. So why didn't I just go to HR and report this? Well ... it's complicated.
The gentle sun caressed me as I fell asleep in its warm embrace. Soon, I awoke to the sensation of water dripping on me and heard muffled giggles from my daughter.
Looking up, I found myself staring into the smiling faces of my two children. Ryan, my fourteen-year-old son, and Michele, my thirteen-year-old daughter, who were allowing the lake water to drip off their hair onto me. In a sweet, angelic duet they spoke.
"Wake up, wake up Mommy Dearest!" they sang.
I couldn't contain my groan. It was obvious they wanted something. I decided to play along so I replied in my sweetest, most insincere voice.
"Oh my dear children, what can Mummy do for you?"
Without missing a beat they responded and I knew I'd been had.
"Oh Mommy Dearest, we have no ice cream. Whatever shall we do?"
We all started laughing.
"And let me guess ... you want me to go get it?"
They both nodded and grinned from ear to ear.
"Why doesn't your father go?" I asked with a sly smile.
"He said you'd go," Ryan said smiling. "He said you'd do it because you love us so much more than he does."
"Oh he did, did he?" I said glancing over at David. My lover couldn't keep from smiling as he tried to avoid my gaze.
"Well, maybe I can change his mind," I said with an evil grin.
"No!" both children yelled at the same time.
Startled, I looked at my children.
"You do that," Ryan groaned, "and we won't get any ice cream until later tonight!"
I stared at him with my most innocent look. Batting my eyes, I tried to keep from grinning.
Ryan rolled his eyes while Shelly looked embarrassed.
"Come on Mom," he said giving me that teenager 'are you serious' look. "Just wiggle in front of him or worse, bend over, and he'll do whatever you want him to do!"
"I mean OMG, Mom!" Shelly chimed in. "He can barely take his eyes off you at home but when you wear that bikini he almost drools!"
We all three looked over at David. He just smiled and shrugged.
"Guilty as charged," he said, waggling his eyebrows at me.
I stood up and stretched slowly, ignoring the sounds coming from my children. I strutted over to David making sure his eyes never left me.
Our sex life had changed during this last year. The animal ferocity of hot sex had replaced our long, slow sessions of making love. Not that I was complaining ... well most of the time. The time restraints and the stresses of work and family life had dictated those changes. Our passion was at a level that rivaled our honeymoon, although at the expense of our gentle lovemaking. Even after all these years, looking into his eyes would give my stomach butterflies and make me want to pounce on him!
My husband stood 6'2, had blond hair, and cool gray eyes. He took decent care of himself but was carrying an extra 25 pounds since I first saw him playing basketball at the University of Texas at Arlington. Of course, with his once lean, athletic build, he was able to carry the extra weight well. I did miss his six-pack though. I wondered what it would take to get him to lose the added weight. Knowing the answer, I chuckled to myself.
We met and started dating at UTA, but neither of us was ready to settle down and we ended up going our separate ways. Two years later, we found each other again and since then we've been inseparable.
I smiled up at him as he devoured me with his eyes. Even with the extra weight, buddy, you are a damn handsome man.
I wrapped my arms around him and gave him a kiss I knew would curl his toes. Again, I ignored the kids' complaints.
"And what would my big, strong husband like for dessert tonight?" I whispered in my most seductive voice.
I felt his hands as they gently stroked my back until one hand began its slow migration southward. He softly caressed my thinly clad butt, finally cupping one cheek and pressing me into his chest. Oh gawd I love that! I felt myself getting warm in places the sun rarely touched and I could feel the answer to my question growing beneath his swimming trunks, pressing against my stomach.
"Why don't you two get a room?" Ryan blurted out shaking his head and trying to hide his smile.
"Already got a whole trailer," his father responded, grinning. "So, where are you and your sister going to sleep tonight?"
"Da-ad," Shelly whined.
David and I started laughing.
"All right," I conceded. "I'm going. Besides I think Starbucks maybe calling me. And you buster..."
I winked at David.
"You need to take another dip in the lake and cool off!"
He grinned wolfishly as he watched me walk back into the house. I gave him a little swish to make sure he was thinking about me while I was gone.
I decided to stop and pick up the ice cream before I drove the extra mile to the Starbucks. It was housed in the Four Seasons Resort, just up the road but the extra time would allow the ice cream to melt a little before I got back home. Besides it's not like I'm addicted to Starbucks, I laughed to myself.
I stepped into the Lakeshore Stop and Go and felt the blast of cool air. The change from the heat outside to the air-conditioned store made me shiver and I was glad I'd changed into shorts and a t-shirt.
Charlie and Emma Bradshaw ran the little convenience store and diner that catered to the area residents that lived on the east side of the lake. Although considered 'quaint' by most of the wealthy residents who lived farther up north on the lakeshore, it benefited heavily from the state park that made up the west side of the lake.
As I walked over to the store freezer, I noticed Charlie watching me from behind the counter. I was pretty well covered up and Charlie was in his mid-sixties so I was a little surprised with his constant gaze. Added to that, I knew Charlie was head-over-heels in love with his wife so his staring made me a little wary.
I picked up a half-gallon of Rocky Road and a half-gallon of Butter Pecan and made my way to the counter. The kids would be thrilled I'd chosen their favorites. I had to smile to myself as I thought of their faces, if only they knew some of the uses I'd planned for it later with David.
When I got up to the counter, Charlie smiled at me. A halo of silver hair outlined his balding head and his deep blue eyes danced.
"Hi Sarah, how are you and the family doing?" he asked.
"We're doing great. But how are you doing? This is the first I've seen you since we got up here. Emma said you'd been sick."
He nodded and grinned. "Yep, damn summer colds! Older I get the harder it is to beat them. But other than that I'm just getting old and cranky!"
I chuckled. Charlie Bradshaw seemed to have a perpetual smile on his face. No one ever used the word 'cranky' to describe him. But even with that boyish grin and pleasant personality, his next words sent my world into a tailspin.
"Boy, Emma and I were surprised to hear you sold your place to the Webbers. Although they said they'd worked out a deal with David to rent your place ... well, I guess it's now their place,
to your family for the couple weeks you are up here each summer."
It took me a second to comprehend what he'd said. Fortunately, Charlie misread my stunned look as something else.
"Of course Emma is ecstatic. She and Alice have become good friends. Still, I'd always thought you and David were going to build some kind of retirement place there."
"Well, plans change," I said trying to cover my surprise. "I'm glad you're feeling better Charlie. If I don't get to see her before we leave, please tell Emma goodbye."
I hurried to my SUV and loaded the ice cream. I got in and tried to gather my thoughts. Several years ago, David was given this land by his grandmother, shortly after his grandfather died. We had rented this place to a retired couple named Don and Alice Webber for the last few years. One month out of the summer, they would go visit their grandchildren and we would move in for a short time. It had worked out very well.
Within a few minutes I was pulling in next to our trailer ... their trailer! I stifled a sob. There had to be a good reason why David would sell this place and an even better reason why he hadn't talked to me about it.
The kids had heard me drive up and were waiting for me, well, more like waiting for their ice cream. They took the packages and raced into the trailer. I looked at David. Whatever expression I had on my face told him something was wrong and I watched his face change. His smile never left but he seemed to get ... colder.
As we went to join the kids I spoke to him in a hushed tone.
"We need to talk when the kids are asleep."
He nodded. His expression didn't change but he had a concerned look in his eyes.
"I suspected as much. You forgot your daily dose of Starbucks."
I couldn't wait for the children to go to bed so after our ice cream, David and I went for a walk. The kids didn't mind since they were engrossed in some super hero movie.
Once outside, he tried to take my hand but I instinctively pulled it away. I saw a flash of pain in his eyes that made me question if I was overreacting.
"I'm sorry, David. I'm just upset."
"About what sweetheart?"
"I just heard you sold this place."
"I was hoping I wouldn't have to tell you about it until later."
"What?" I shouted.
"Shhh, Sarah. The entire lake doesn't need to know our business," he said calmly.
"What were you thinking? We had such plans and dreams for this place! This was where we were going to retire."
"I know, honey, but I had to. This past year has been bad for us financially. Really bad. I had to sell the place in order to begin recouping some of our losses."
I was in shock. I stopped walking and stared at him. David had always handled our finances and up until now, we were doing more than just pretty well. With his investments and consulting and my promotion, we were pulling in a very healthy six-figure income, and were putting away money left and right! David had even talked about us possibly retiring in five to ten years. I'd gently slowed that talk down since my career was on the fast track.
"Why didn't you tell me? Dammit David, this is serious!"
"I know," he said, his voice hushed. "It is serious but I'm hoping to make a major rebound by the end of the final quarter."
We walked silently for about an hour before we returned to the trailer. Just as I was reaching for the door, he spoke to me in a hushed calm voice.
"Sarah, I'm sorry. I'm sorry I let you and the kids down. I didn't tell you earlier because I didn't want to worry you."
"David, I don't know what to think right now. I'm confused, angry, and hurt. I feel betrayed. You didn't confide in me about our financial situation and you didn't talk to me before selling our dream house."
He nodded and looked away.
"I understand," he whispered.
The last days we'd spent at the lake had been difficult. I was cool to my husband as I worked out my disappointment. Needless to say, the ice cream never made it to our bedroom.
The drive back home to Dallas was fairly quiet as well. David said all the things one would expect from someone who's apologetic but he seemed ... I don't know ... guarded. I was struggling to figure out what to do when I realized I needed to look at our finances to see how big of a mess we were in.
The kids had unpacked and had gone to their rooms and David had gone to his study. Now I was sitting alone in front of our computer, scanning over our accounts. What I found shocked me. David had lost or committed nearly everything we had! I'm talking several hundred thousand dollars gone or legally wrapped up!
From what I could tell, with what we both had coming in monthly, we'd be able to survive without losing the house but that was about it. Besides the financial uncertainty, I was scared what was happening in my marriage. David was excellent at what he did and he certainly would've never let things get this bad without telling me. I'm not stupid I knew there was something behind this. But as I thought about it, the possibilities I was coming up with were more and more upsetting.
Now I had to look at my loving husband of fifteen years through different eyes ... suspicious eyes. He was obviously hiding something, but what? I needed some professional advice.
After a sleepless night, I contacted our attorney first thing that morning and set up an appointment. Our meeting wasn't for a couple of days, so I took my findings by his office that morning before I went to work.
During the next two days, I watched David closely. He seemed to be the same caring father and husband he'd always been. He was giving me a wide space to work through all this but I still noticed a distant look in his eyes.
I sat in the overstuffed chair looking around at Jeffery Dawson's plush office. Jeffery had been our lawyer for over a decade and it pained me to realize we'd helped finance the gaudy decor.
He studied the stack of papers in front of him before he looked up at me with a small frown.
"Sarah," he said calmly. "I'm not sure what to say. David's investments certainly look suspicious but they all appear legal. I'm surprised, no stunned would be more like it, to see he has lost so much of your family's savings. Sarah, you realize David handles my investments too, right?"
"No Jeffery, I'd forgotten that," I said shaking my head.
"Well, I checked on my investments and most are doing very well. So, that makes your situation even more suspicious."
He cleared his throat and looked at me. I thought I noticed apprehension in his voice.
"Look Sarah, I don't know how to ask this gently. Is your marriage all right? I've known you both for over twelve years and I've never known you two as anything but having a strong marriage, but I need to ask."
I sat there silently, feeling myself begin to tremble. I wasn't sure I could breathe.
"I'm sorry," he apologized. "But the only time I've ever seen something like this is when a spouse is hiding money just before a divorce. So, I have to ask again. Can you think of any reason David might be preparing for a divorce?"
I almost threw up right there in his office.
I fought to control my breathing and brushed away a stray tear as I pulled onto the Interstate. It'd been awkward but I'd managed to get out of Jeffery Dawson's office without falling to pieces. I gathered myself as I prepared for the task at hand. I pulled out my cell and made the call I'd dreaded making for the past forty-four months.
"Mark?" I said bracing myself.
Mark Hughes, my boss, answered in his typical smooth bass voice.
"Sarah Jennings, to what do I owe the honor? Thinking about me, were you?" he chuckled.
"Yeah," I snorted. "Mark, I think David knows."
There was dead silence on the other line. Finally, he replied using his highly educated, grand usage of the English language.
"Are you sure?"
"No, but it looks like it."
"Surely, he can't have any proof. It's been nearly four years!"
"I don't know what he does or doesn't know but I suspect I'll find out later tonight. I have to confront him about some things and I'm afraid our affair may be the reason behind them."
"Sarah, I don't need to tell you what's at stake."
"No ... no you don't," I whispered as my chest tightened.
"David could cause us a lot of problems, probably even our jobs. Dammit!" he shouted. "My last alimony check is due next month. After that, I'm completely done with that bloodsucking bitch of an ex-wife! Sarah, I don't need this. I'm just now starting to see light at the end of the tunnel."
"Well, I'm sorry for your inconvenience," I snapped sarcastically. "While, you're worried about your damn pocketbook, my marriage could be falling apart!"
I hung up and sighed deeply. I started going through possible scenarios that could help me save my marriage.
So how did I end up here, especially if I loved my husband as much as I say I do? I've been asking myself that for the past four years. The answer is ... I don't know. Well, I do but I'm disgusted with the answer.
I guess the truth is I was an arrogant silly fool who stupidly thought this world 'owed' her. Simply put ... I was a selfish bitch. I allowed myself to be seduced by a successful career and a handsome supervisor. Yes, our marriage was going through a rocky time but in the end I simply betrayed the man I claimed to love.
Our marital problems started seven years ago when Shelly started school. I'd taken several years off from my engineering career to raise our children. It's a decision I've never regretted. Then with no more children at home it was time to go back to work.
I signed on as a design engineer with a large corporation here in Dallas. My manager was Mark. He was about eight years older than me but he could've easily passed for a much younger man. Mark Hughes was very handsome, tall with broad shoulders, and had a very distinguished look about him. Unfortunately, he knew it and used it since he had an eye for the ladies.
We ended up working extremely well together and soon we were moving up the company ranks as a team. When Mark became Director of Design, I became the manager. Then about two-and-a-half-years ago, he became VP of Engineering and I became the Director of Design. Unfortunately, our professional success as a team led us to test the personal relationship waters as well.
I'd met his wife several times over the three years before our affair started. I'd been shocked to see pictures of her from early in their marriage. She'd been quite beautiful. But life had been unkind to her and now she was about a hundred pounds overweight, didn't dress well, and was extremely unhappy. It showed.
Mark flirted with me and most of the women in the department but once I became manager the flirting became much more personal. It was at that time we began going to Chicago for corporate training.
The first trip I staved off his advances but was extremely flattered. Yes, I said flattered. Being pursued by an attractive, successful man who respects you, at least professionally, and is willing to share the professional glory can be a huge stroke to a woman's ego. To say I was a little starved for that after spending the past eight years as a stay-at-home mother and housewife would've been an understatement.
I know it might sound like an excuse and that I'm trying to justify what happened ... I can't. These are, however, some of the things that contributed to my failure.
Much to my regret and shame, I fell on our next trip to Chicago. That started a brief affair I'll regret the rest of my life.
There's really not much to say regarding my affair. It lasted about four weeks. The sex David and I have is good, sometimes even great. It's really the making love with him that's incredible. With Mark, there was no love but I won't lie ... the sex was amazing! Mark is very well hung and wonderfully skilled in bed. The only drawback was he was a 'one and done' kind of guy. But oh my gawd ... that one!
That first week in Chicago, I spent most of my nights in his hotel room. We also got together several times when we got back to Dallas. It was then I pulled my head out of my ass and broke off the sordid affair.
I was crushed with guilt when I finally came to my senses. I didn't know how I could've been so stupid as to jeopardize what I had for just the thrill of an hour or so of sex.
I knew I couldn't tell David. Was this selfish? Yes, but it was also because I loved him. I couldn't bear to see the hurt and pain my confession would've brought him. There was also a chance he'd leave me and split up our family. I couldn't do that to my children since I was the one who had already jeopardized our family. In the end, I decided to take my secret to the grave.
I didn't change jobs for several reasons. The first was my husband would've suspected something immediately. I'd spent the last year telling him how much I loved my job. Another reason was the success I was already having and finally it was a pride thing. It was a test for myself to make sure something like that would never happen again.
I knew my boss would look at me differently now. You can't share yourself that intimately with someone and not expect the relationship to change. You can't be around someone you've had sex with and not remember the smells, the sounds, and the sexual excitement. You have to be strong enough to control it. And that's what I did.
I've spent the past four years trying to make up for my foolishness and be the best wife David could ever ask for. I've taken every opportunity to show him how much I love him and how much he means to me. I've given myself sexually to him in ways I'd never done before. Naturally, I've had to be careful because I didn't want him to suspect where some of those things had come from. Even with the struggles over the past eighteen months, I think I've done a good job taking care of my husband.
Now I don't know what's changed, but something has. I fear he knows or at least suspects something about my affair. Regardless, I have to talk to him and find out.
I pulled my black SUV up into my driveway and sat for a moment collecting my thoughts. Staring at our home I realized it was a McMansion. What was once a fortress that protected our family was about to change into a prison or worse ... a mausoleum.
That night after the children had gone to bed, I got up the nerve to confront David.
"David we need to talk," I said quietly knowing that particular phrase tends to put every husband on defense.
"Sure sweetheart. What about?"
"I went to see Jeffrey Dawson today. I also took our financial records with me to show him."
His smile faded as he stared at me.
"A little drastic, don't you think?" he said calmly.
"Honestly, I don't know what to think," I said, my voice starting to falter.
"Well, all you had to do was ask me. I would've told you," he paused for a moment then shoved the dagger into my heart. "I mean it's not like we hide things from each other, right?"
"Honey..." I struggled to say. "Most of our savings are gone. Other than our retirement packages and the kids' trusts, nearly all of our other money is gone."
He grimaced as he nodded his head slowly.
"Yeah, I said it had been a bad year..."
"A bad year?" I yelled. "That's more than just a bad year!"
"But Sarah," his voice changed and became colder. "We've gone through hard times before and survived. Remember four years ago? We went through a real rough patch about the time you became a manager but together ... we made it through! It took several months but we did it and soon we were doing better than ever, right sweetheart?"
My heart sank as I realized the love of my life was playing with me. He was waiting for me to address the elephant in the room. I fought back my tears and tried to pick my next words carefully.
"David," I said in a hushed voice. "I'm sorry."
"No, sweetheart," he said coldly. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I failed you. I really thought those things I'd invested in would someday turn out to be very valuable ... I guess I was wrong."
I felt a tear slip out of my eye and begin to slowly roll down my cheek. I cleared my throat and spoke in as calm of a voice as I could muster.
"Honey, I'm sorry for all of the tension we've had around us this past year-and-a-half. I know I've let things come in the way of spending more time with you and the kids. But ... I ... I need to ask you something important."
His eyes darkened as he stared at me.
"Are you preparing to divorce me?"
"Why would you ask that?" he asked in a flat voice.
"Because of what's happened to our savings. It looks like you're hiding money and that's what someone would do if he were about to get a divorce."
He stared at me, frustration written across his face. His eyes narrowed as his brow furrowed and I could see his jaw tighten as he struggled to speak.
"Are you asking me this because of the money or because of the difficult time we're having right now?" he asked coldly. "Come on, Sarah. You know me better than that. It would take one hell of a reason for me to ever consider divorcing you and breaking up this family! Can you think of a single reason why I would want to divorce my loving wife?"
I couldn't take it any longer. I sat on our bed and fought back the tears. It was a losing battle.
"Because ... because of a mistake I made years ago," I finally whispered.
David left the room and went to his study. He brought back a box of tissue and a manila folder. After handing me a tissue, he removed several photos from the folder and began tossing them, one at a time, onto our bed.
"Would this be the mistake you're talking about?" he asked, his voice cold and stern.
My heart stopped when I recognized the photos. They were of me having sex with Mark in Chicago. I curled up into a ball in the middle of our bed.
"No ... no ... please no," was all I could manage to say as I felt my world begin to crumble.
David began to remove some of his things from our bedroom and all I could do was stare at him as tears ran down my cheeks.
"I'll be moving into one of the guest rooms until we can sort out this marriage. In the morning, I'll call my parents and see if the kids can go stay with them. They were going to spend part of the summer with them anyway so this'll just be a couple weeks earlier than expected."
With that, he left our bedroom and shut the door. I was alone, alone in my shattered little world.
David stared at the short, balding, rotund man sitting in front of him. I could tell by his body language he was still processing all the things he'd heard over our last two sessions. Our counselor, Raymond James, repeated his question to him.
"Mr. Jennings?" he asked calmly. "You've been very quiet since our last session. What are your thoughts about what Sarah has said?"
I held my breath. I'd tried to be honest and open about my affair in the last session. I didn't go into great detail but I hadn't shied away from any of the embarrassing facts. I'd done that because I was tired of living with the deception but also because I didn't know exactly what David knew.
Although I'd tried to soften it, the facts were simple and painful. I'd had an affair with my boss. He was more skilled and better endowed than my husband. The physical sex with Mark had been better than with David. I'd lied to my spouse for years by not telling him and hoping he'd never find out. It was those 'facts' I knew he was struggling with right now.
I could see each word, each emotion stab into his heart and mind. I sat and watched as the man I loved was being eaten alive from the inside. The anger, hurt, and doubts that my betrayal had caused, and the pain of hearing me admit I'd lied to him for years where like poison to my once strong husband.
I'd pled my case to him several times during the past two weeks. But today, it was as organized and straightforward as I could make it. I fought with everything I had to present it with as little emotion as possible.
"Well," David began, choosing his words carefully. "I know she regrets her affair and she's sorry it ever happened. But then, I'm sorry it ever happened too. I guess that makes us both ... sorry.
"I also realize it happened during a bad time in our marriage, a time when she was weak," he paused gathering his thoughts.
"But?" Raymond asked softly.
"It was a hard time for both of us ... but I didn't seek comfort in someone else's bed. While I was busting my ass for her and our family, she was taking a little break from our marriage. I was the clueless, faithful husband while my wife was playing around with her boss' big dick!
"Then..." he paused struggling to keep control. "Then when she finally feels guilty enough about it, she breaks it off. Does she tell her husband? Oh no! He might get mad and make her do something she didn't want to do like quit her job! So of course, she put in for a transfer so she wouldn't have to see her lover every day, right? Oh hell no! She lies to the one she says she loves and tries to make it up to him. So what's her punishment? She has to bear her guilt in silence. That's it? You must be joking!"
I watched as he clenched his jaw tightly, grinding his teeth. His anger was so intense I could feel it. I wanted to say something, anything that would take his pain away but there was nothing I could say or do. The love of my life was in agony and I'd caused it.
Slowly he began to control his breathing. His flushed face began to return to normal even as he glared at me.
"Well Sarah," he sneered. "Did that about sum up the bullshit I've been listening to for the past week?"
"David," Mr. James interceded. "Remember the rules. Talk to me if you get angry, not to Sarah. There's no arguing or name calling, only talking."
Raymond's distraction allowed me to find my voice.
"Honey, you're right in most of what you said. I acted horribly and betrayed both you and our family. But I do love you and I know I hurt you. I would do anything to take back what I did but I can't. All I can do now is try to show you how much I really do love you.
"Since I've fallen and had that affair, I've tried to be the best wife I could be. I wanted to be able to prove that I could be faithful again and show you I could begin to regain our trust.
"I've also tried to be the best lover you could ever ask for. I haven't denied you anything and have worked to give myself totally to you, even in ways I hadn't before."
He peered at me with his cold gray eyes.
"You wanted to show me I could trust you by lying to me? Really? Sarah, surely you can't be that stupid.
"So you were faithful for the past four years, what do you want, a medal?" he sneered. "I was faithful longer and what did it get me? All I got was shit on by my supposedly loving wife!"
"Oh gawd David," I said softly my voice starting to break. "I'm so sorry."
"As for giving yourself to me..." he said grimacing as if he was in pain. "Why did it take you having to feel guilty before you would do those things with me? Why wasn't it out of that love for me you claim to have? Why did you give it to him before you offered it to me?
"How can you possibly know how I feel? Until your love is betrayed, you'll have no idea the pain you've inflicted."
I sat silently, fighting back the tears, knowing his anger was justified. I'd done all those things. I knew there wasn't anything I could say that would take back any part of my betrayal. All I could do was allow him to vent his anger and wonder how long it'd been building. I knew he couldn't have known for very long since his anger was still so intense. I also couldn't imagine him not divorcing me or at least confronting me as soon as he found out about it.
Almost as if he could read my mind, he continued.
"Sixteen months ago, Rachel Hughes showed me the slut my wife had become for her boss."
I heard myself gasp at hearing him refer to me that way. David had never spoken of me in any other way than with love and respect. I guess I had my first real epiphany regarding the future of our marriage. I knew the words he said were true but they still hurt. Then I realized he'd been dealing with this for over a year!
"But why ... why didn't you..." I stammered.
"Why didn't I confront you then? Several reasons actually. I didn't know if you loved him and if you were planning to divorce me. I didn't know if I still loved you. After the initial hurt and anger, I needed to figure out what was best for the kids and me.
"However, the main reason was that although Rachel showed me the proof, she wouldn't give it to me until she'd protected herself. She was afraid what I might do with it."
"The divorce settlement," I whispered.
He nodded, as Mr. James looked at us confused.
"Rachel destroyed Mark in the divorce," David explained. "She had proof of several of his other affairs and cleaned him out financially. He agreed to a huge alimony settlement for two years. I guess he figured being poor for two years was worth getting out of their marriage. So, Rachel needed to protect her alimony check. The last check is due soon so I wasn't surprised when she sent me the actual proof earlier this month. As of now, I doubt she cares what happens to her ex-husband."
"And what do you plan to do to this man?" Raymond asked cautiously.
"Hurt him as much as I can, of course. A lot depends on what happens to my marriage but I'm definitely going to destroy his career. Basically, I plan to kick him while he's down by stealing whatever hope of his I'm able to."
"No physical revenge?"
David ignored his question and continued.
"I've spent the last year trying to determine what I wanted and what was best for my family. I decided a divorce wasn't the right choice, at least for now."
"Then why are you hiding money?" Raymond asked.
"I haven't hidden any funds," David smiled. "I've unfortunately had a run of bad investments."
"Bullshit!" I blurted out surprising everyone including myself. "You're better than that, David."
He never took his eyes off Raymond. "Contrary to how professionally talented my loving wife believes I am, our financial records show otherwise."
"If you had decided not to divorce me," I said quietly, trying to calm myself, "then those decisions should've been made by us together."
"Together?" he sneered. I felt my blood run cold. "I'm sorry sweetheart, but I thought the rules had changed."
I stared at him confused.
"When I found out about your affair with that bastard," he answered sarcastically, "I was positive the rules had changed. I certainly wasn't asked if that son-of-a-bitch should screw you. I'm even more positive you didn't question me whether or not you should lie to me or let me know I was a cuckold. So yeah ... I thought the rules had changed and since we weren't asking each other about important things, I made some decisions for us on my own."
"And these bad investments?" Raymond asked, studying him carefully.
"Mr. James, my world is finances. The best way I can describe my actions is by using the terms of my trade. Are you familiar with the term Hedge Funds?"
Raymond nodded as David continued.
"That term originally described secondary investments someone would use to try to protect themselves in case their primary investment failed. Same thing as when someone 'hedges their bet.' What's happened with our finances could be considered exactly that, protection in case this marriage ends in divorce."
"But," I said, my voice trembling. "I don't want a divorce. You said you knew that."
He paused and then spoke very slowly.
"Yes, but until everything is fully confronted and all the facts exposed, divorce is still a possibility."
"David, I've tried..."
"No," he growled. "No ... You've only been open about your affair with that asshole after it was exposed! Don't try to make this into something it's not ... something like you being faithful or honest with me. You've lied to me for the last four years. These past two weeks haven't even begun to restore my trust in you."
He glared at me before he turned towards Raymond.
"Raymond, you asked me earlier about me seeking physical revenge. The answer is simple ... I'm not a violent man. While I've entertained those thoughts, in the end it was my loving wife who spread her legs for him. It was her choice. She could've and should've continued to say 'no' but she didn't. She got infatuated with the excitement of her affair and the thrill of his 'huge' cock."
"It wasn't like that," I pleaded. "Even though it was exciting at first, it was never better than what I have with you. I forgot for a moment what was most important to me."
"You can't be that stupid," he snorted.
"If you asked our children what was the most fun and exciting thing they did last summer we both know what their answers would be. It would be their trips to Six Flags! There's no way our little pool in the backyard or even our trips to Crystal Lake could ever compete with the excitement of an amusement park.
"That's what your affair with that piece of shit was, a trip to an amusement park. The excitement of doing something illicit, the thrill of having sex with someone besides your spouse, and you've made it very clear he was bigger and better than I am. All those things made your little affair a hell of a lot more memorable than anything you were getting at home, didn't it dear?
"You say you know you've hurt me but there's really no way you can know that kind of pain. You've no idea what it's like to lay there night after night wondering why you weren't enough for your spouse. Thinking, if you'd known she was dissatisfied, you would've tried anything to make it better and more exciting. There's no way to describe the empty loneliness of holding the one you love and knowing she's lying to you. Each time she declares her love, it's poisoned by her secrets.
"Sarah, I'll never be able to compete physically or emotionally with your little affair. It'll be something you'll always remember. To think otherwise is just plain denial. There's only one way someone could ever know the hell somebody goes through when their spouse cheats on them and that's to experience it themselves.
"Honey," I whispered, my heart in my throat. "You're not suggesting..."
"David," Mr. James intervened. "Are you saying you intend to have an affair yourself?"
I felt the blood run out of my face at the thought of my husband with another woman. Right after I'd ended my affair I'd tried to imagine him cheating on me. I tried to imagine the pain of my betrayal through his eyes. The guilt had nearly overwhelmed me. Now I was facing the cold reality he was considering doing just that.
"Please David," I pleaded through my tears. "I can't do it. I know it's not fair, that I'm being hypocritical but I couldn't take the thought of you planning to have an affair. Please don't ask me to do that!"
He stared at me for several seconds. Finally he sighed deeply.
"Sarah, at home on our computer there are two encrypted files, named Alpha and Omega. Included in those files are the things Rachel sent to me. There are things in there that are hard to watch, at least they were for me, but I believe you need to see it too. You need to see it if for no other reason than to make sure there aren't any more secrets between us.
"I'm scheduled to fly out to Phoenix later this afternoon for a few days. I need to wrap up that project so I won't be able to talk much while I'm there. I'll try to call you tomorrow night."
He looked over at me and spoke as he stood up and prepared to leave the room.
"The password you'll need," he said sadly, "is 'Chicago'."
My heart sank. I watched helplessly as my husband walked out the door.