Chapter 1

I entered the plush office suite with more than a little trepidation and tried my best to look confident as I walked over to the reception desk and announced that I was Mrs. Morris and I had a 10 o'clock appointment with Mr. White. The young receptionist smiled up at me and asked me if I wouldn't mind taking a seat for a few minutes as Mr. White was running a little late. Taking a seat in one of the large armchairs I settled myself down and picked up a magazine. I knew I was too worked up and wouldn't actually be able read to it but I could try to look like I was. Sitting there I could do nothing but run over in my mind just how my life had led to this meeting.

As a teenager I'd been one hell of a looker. In college I could turn most of the guys' heads. But really I was what you might call repressed; I never let my emotions get the better of me. It was one thing to have the guys chasing you but I was never into trusting any of them. I had no intention of letting any of them get into my pants. So I held them all at arm's length.

Don't go thinking I was a stick in the mud, I was out dancing with my friends almost every night. I went to parties all the time and I had quite a few boyfriends. But if any of them thought they were getting anything out of me, they had another think coming. I had ears, I had heard the guys talking; as soon as a guy 'got lucky', as they liked to put it, It was all around college in no time and the poor girl who had 'put out' rapidly got herself the reputation as a slapper or a slut. That was never going to happen to me.

I was nineteen and at a party when I first came across Jack Morris. For some reason I had never seen him before, but it quickly became apparent that most of my friends had. He wasn't particularly handsome but he certainly stood out from the crowd. Everyone appeared to know him as he slowly worked the room, dancing with a few girls on the way around. I did note that he only seemed to dance to slow numbers and I was pretty sure that it was the girls who were asking him to dance. A couple of times I saw girls who were dancing with one guy walk over to Jack when a slow dance started, effectively ditching the guy they had been dancing with.

I pointed this out to my friend Sheila and asked if she knew what was going on. "Oh, that's Jack," she replied. "He's a gentleman. Look, once you get to know Jack, if you get stuck with a sleaze ball, you can rely on Jack to help you out. You start talking to, or dance with Jack and he'll stay with you until the sleaze-ball loses interest. He'll even escort you home if you want him to; you watch, Jack will have a carload of girls when the party ends tonight."

"What is he, a kind of knight errant or something? Doesn't he have girlfriends of his own?"

"Of course he does but he's a gentleman. If a girl gets drunk or needs assistance, Jack will always make sure she gets home in one piece and with her virtue intact. You can always trust Jack Morris."

"Doesn't he ever, you know?"

"Don't be silly, Porsha, of course he does. He's a man just like the rest of them. But he behaves himself. He never takes advantage and, more importantly, he never discusses what happens in private. And take my word for it, he's fantastic in bed. He's choosy though. Any girl who gets herself a reputation doesn't stand a chance with Jack."

"Have you ever?"

"Yeah, you bet. Last Christmas I went out with him a few times. God, what a difference to most of these twerps. I learnt a few things form Jack, I can tell you. It was the best sex I've ever had. But then I made the mistake of going with Phil Clarke to the New Year's dance because Jack was away at some family thing. Clarkie must have bragged about us having had sex because Jack never called me again. He still talks to me but he has never asked me out since. I tried asking him to the Valentines dance but he said he couldn't make it. That pig Phil Clarke ruined my chances with Jack."

This Jack Morris sounded just like my sort of guy, although the thought of having sex with him never entered my head. But he sounded like the safe kind of boyfriend I had always dreamed about. I watched him circulate and eventually he came to where Sheila and I were dancing. Sheila grabbed him straight away and they disappeared into the throng on the dance floor for a few minutes. When they came back, Sheila introduced me to him. We talked for a little while and I picked out his chat up lines but before we got too friendly another girl suddenly grabbed his arm, with a quick apology, he was gone.

I was disappointed and Sheila noticed. She asked me whether I fancied Jack and when I told her I'd like to get to know him a bit, Sheila disappeared into the crowd for a couple of minutes, and when she returned she gave me the news that we had a lift home with Jack. I was pleased about that, as I thought we'd get to know each other on the way home. Unfortunately that wasn't to happen as there were eight of us girls crammed into that car with Jack and several of the others apparently had the same idea as I had.

I didn't see Jack for about a month after that. Then I was waiting at a bus stop in the pouring rain one day when a car pulled up. You know the scenario. The car stopped and I pretended it wasn't there. Strangers don't pick me up in the street. But then I heard someone call my name and it turned out to be Jack. He offered me a lift home and on the way he asked me whether I'd like to go for a meal one evening.

This was different for me. Most guys would ask if you wanted to go to the pictures or out for a drink. Meals to them were the quick trip to the Wimpy bar, but Jack was talking about the top restaurant locally. The place my mum and dad usually went to. I'd been there with them but I'd never had a guy take me there. Of course most of the guys I'd gone out with couldn't afford to buy a meal there anyway.

So that Friday evening I was treated to my first proper romantic dinner. And Jack pulled out all the stops. Jesus, Jack was so different to all the boys I'd been out with before. You know, before the end of the meal I knew that this was one guy who wasn't going to get away if I had anything to do with it.

After the meal he took me to "Caesars" the best nightclub in town. It's a private club and had a casino upstairs and a dance floor and bar downstairs. It was one of those places that you had to be a member to get in and it appeared that Jack was a member. He told me later that a relative of his owned the nightclub and the big 'Central Hotel' next door. Looking back now, I wish I'd remembered he'd said that.

Ever the gentleman Jack took me home about one A.M. he kissed me politely and bid me goodnight. I was shocked he didn't try anything, not even a heavy snogging session. To be honest I was a little hurt. I really expected him to try something. I was even more hurt when he never asked for another date, but just kissed me and said goodnight.

It was almost two weeks later when he called me. I quickly accepted his invitation for another meal. When we were eating he explained that he hadn't called me, as he hadn't really broken things off with his old girlfriend. She had gone away for a few weeks on some course or the other and he had to wait for her return before he could tell her he wanted to break up with her. She was on a course that had an exam at the end of it so it wouldn't have been fair to call her and tell her it was over. Apparently she did not have Jack's sense of duty, as the first thing she told him when she returned was that she had found someone else.

Jack and I started going steady from then on. We never actually had sex but we got pretty close to it sometimes. After a year together we got engaged and we were married a month before my twentieth birthday. I'd finished college by then and had a good job in the sales department of a computer software company.

Meanwhile Jack was working for some agency that represented foreign companies in England. Don't ask me what they did, but shortly after we got married Jack got promoted and started having to take trips abroad. It was quite good because, when I could get the time off from my job, I went with him at his company's expense. At one time they even offered to put me on the books, but both of us working for the same company was asking for trouble. As it stood, if one of our employers went to the wall, the other of us was earning enough to cover our expenses.

I'd had our twin girls Sarah and Megan, eleven months after the wedding and they were followed up with twin boys Jack Jr. and Mark just over a year later. For a young couple we were making good money and had employed a nanny for the children so that I could get back to my job. I really liked my work and I was sure I was going somewhere.

I wouldn't say Jack was that enthused with the idea of me going back to work so soon or with the idea of employing a nanny to look after the children. But I did tend to get my own way and he accepted that I wanted my career. Our sex life was pretty good. By that I mean we had sex often. Probably more often than some folks although sometimes I got the feeling that Jack would have liked me to be a little more adventurous. But I didn't go for all this oral stuff that people talk about. To me it seemed, I don't know, unnatural. Jack got me to try and suck his penis one time but I definitely felt uncomfortable doing it so I refused to do it again. A few times he went down on me but that just didn't seem right to me either; I was so tense I couldn't enjoy it if I had wanted to.

Our lives went along quite smoothly until the boys were four years old, when Jack Jr. came down with meningitis. He died five days later and from then on things were never quite the same. Meningitis is one of those terrible things that happen in life. It was no one's fault that Jack Jr. contracted it but somehow I think that Jack and I each held ourselves responsible.

Between us, Jack and I could fix most things; but neither of us could do anything for our baby. After we lost little Jack, we both seemed to concentrate more on the children and our jobs than we did on each other. Oh, don't get me wrong we loved each other and still had a pretty hectic sex life. Look, if you've had any children you know how they kind of take priority. With both Jack and I having good careers something had to lose out somewhere.

The years flew past and things went really well. There was a new big house, trips to Disneyland with the kids and summer holidays in the Caribbean, all the things successful young families usually have. Our remaining three children did very well at school. I know Jack had a hell of a time when the girls got to the age when boys started showing interest. He's quite a conservative guy, my Jack. But before we realised it all three of our children were off at University and we were suddenly at home alone.

Jack and I started to try and put our lives back together. Well, to be honest Jack did. I don't really think I tried as hard as I should have. My world was revolving around my job more and more; I was managing the sales department at my company by then and just a couple of steps away from getting onto the board.

When the guy who owned the place where Jack worked retired, he put Jack in charge and he became the Head Honcho at the agency. That was good, as Jack's salary went through the roof, but it led to him spending more time travelling than ever and I couldn't go with him as much as I would have liked, since I was busy as well. I had to make a good few trips away, but they were in England, not like Jack's to the four corners of the globe.

I was thirty-nine and Jack was forty-two and no matter how Jack tried we were growing further apart. One evening over dinner Jack told me it was decision time.

"What do you mean Jack? What decision do we have to make?" I asked him.

"About you and me, my love," he replied, "We surely can't go on like this. Either we both have to cut back on our work load and spend more time together or we are going to turn into complete strangers to each other."

"I don't understand."

"Look, Porsha, in the last month we haven't been out together once. Christ, I think I can count the evenings we have spent together on the fingers of one hand. We have to decide whether we want or need to work ourselves into the ground anymore. I know I want to spend more time with the woman I love."

"Well, what do you want us to do?"

"I don't really know, we could both retire or at least take things more easy. I know I could lay a lot of my work onto my subordinates. And I'm sure you could do the same. Look, maybe we both could arrange to take a couple of months off and go on that world cruise we've always talked about. You know, before we get to old to enjoy it."

"Now hold on Jack. My boss is retiring this year. I've waited years for him to go. I'm in line for his job if I play my cards right. I can't afford to let up."

"But you don't need the job. We've got enough stashed away to last us out."

"That's easy for you to say but I've been working for this all my life. I was hoping to be the first woman on the board of directors. I'm sure I'm only a couple of years away from making it."

"But in two years, we probably won't have a marriage left. Can't you see that?"

"No, I can't. Why should our marriage break up?"

"Because you care less and less about it, that's why. You care less and less about me as time goes on. You spend more time away from home now than I ever did. And you spend more time socialising with your company's clients now than ever."

"Well, they like to deal with the boss."

"No, they like to perv over you."

"What the hell do you mean by that?"

"Christ Porsha, as you have gotten older your neck-line has gone down and you skirt hem has gone up. I'm willing to place a bet that some of those clients of yours are hoping to get lucky, and to my mind the odds are one of them will!"

"Are you mad? Do you really think I would..."

"I don't know, Porsha! But to my mind, there's only one thing seems to bother you nowadays and that's getting the contract signed. One of these days someone is going to lay it on the line, and you are going to have to make an awkward decision or two. And I don't know what lengths you'd go to."

"I would never do anything like that and I'm furious that you would think I would. I have always dressed nice but that doesn't make me a slut."

"Yes, you always have dressed nicely, Porsha. You look gorgeous and you have always used your looks to get what you want. But I'm worried now, since it appears that what you want has taken priority over us. What you want has always been the most important thing to you and what you want more than anything nowadays is signatures on contracts. Nothing else appears to matter to you."

"Oh, let's not get back onto the usual one. I was never the stay at home mum type and you know it." I knew that Jack was going to bring up me not staying at home whilst the children were growing up next. So I dived in on the subject first. In the next few hours just about everything came out. It was obvious that Jack had always thought I was being selfish when I went back to work so quickly after having the children. But I couldn't see the harm in my being successful in my career. I almost expected him to bring up the subject of Jack Jr. but he left that one out.

I think it was the biggest argument that we had ever had. I was surprised that Jack was prepared to throw up his career if I gave up mine. But my job was what I lived for.

For the next couple of weeks life at home was what you could only call tense. We talked to each other but there was that coldness in the air. Then a big deal came into the offering at work and I lost the plot about what was going on at home. For the next few weeks I was running around checking everything to make sure the deal would go down all right. I was getting home late and flying backwards and forwards to Manchester every couple of days. I never stayed overnight though. I would get the morning flight up and the evening flight back. Eventually the contract was signed and I had everyone at the office singing my praises. I was sure that when my boss retired I'd have his job.

I was just about to call Jack and tell him the good news when I realised that I hadn't actually spoken to him for several days. We were passing each other like ships in the night; I realised that Jack was right. We were drifting apart and I suddenly realised I had to do something. Anything to show him I loved him and didn't want to lose him. So I decided my first move would be to surprise him at lunchtime and take him out for a meal.

I drove across town to his office, but when I got up to the floor his office suit was on, the place was like the Marie Celeste with not a soul in sight. I was about to leave again when I remembered my swipe card. Jack had told me that the same card that opened his office at home opened the office at work. He had given me a card, as otherwise I would be locked out of the office at home.

I let myself in with the idea of looking in Jack's appointment diary. If he were local, I would call him and join him for lunch. But once I got inside the outer office I realised that the place was not as deserted as had I thought. As I got close to Jack's office I could hear noises that I didn't like the sound of, coming from inside.

Jack's private office is an all glass affair; the rest of the place is all open plan. Unusually the Venetian blinds were down on Jack's private domain. I moved closer and through a blind that wasn't quite properly closed, I could see some movement inside. It was Sally the office's girl Friday. She was apparently stark naked and was what I can only describe as jumping up and down on someone's lap. That someone was sitting on the large couch that Jack had in there. From my viewpoint I couldn't make out who the guy was but I very much suspected it was my so-called ever-loving husband.

I don't know how or why, but I didn't go barging in there. I think I must have been too upset. I tried looking through the other windows but I couldn't get a good view of the man. But I did see his jacket hanging on the back of a chair. It was Jack's blue suit jacket. Especially ordered and made to measure, I'd know that jacket anywhere.

I left the office at a run, the outer door banged closed behind me. I'm sure they must have heard it but I didn't care.

On the way down in the lift I was crying. Was this what Jack had been trying to say to me? Had he been trying to tell me that if we didn't spend more time together he would look for company elsewhere? Or was he trying to set the stage for a divorce when we had that strange conversation that lead to that big argument? I was angry and hurt. I loved my husband and I thought he loved me but it looked like I was losing him. What was I going to do? Fight for him or accept that I had lost him.

That night when I got home from the office Jack acted like he always did and that made me even more angry. I don't really know why I expected him to act differently since Jack could have had no idea that I had seen him and Sally at lunchtime. So why was I expecting him to act differently? With me biting my tongue, the evening went as usual with us hardly talking to each other. I didn't even tell him the contract was signed.

Two days later Jack called me at my office and asked me if I would like to go out to dinner that evening as he had a client and his wife visiting town. I knew he wanted me to sweet-talk the wife; I had done it a few times for him over the years. Out of spite I told him I couldn't make it as I had a late meeting. I could hear the disappointment in his voice at my answer. I did have a late meeting that day but I knew it would be over before 8 o'clock when the table was booked.

Later in the day I had second thoughts. This was no way to win my husband back. I decided I would go straight to the restaurant after my meeting and join Jack and his clients there. I asked my secretary to call Jack and tell him I would be there as I went into my meeting. I rushed things a little and the meeting ended before seven, giving me plenty of time to get changed and meet Jack and his client.

But when I got back to my office, my secretary had gone home and I found a note she had left me, saying that she had been unable to contact Jack. "Never mind," I thought, "I'll surprise him." I went straight to the private bathroom in my office and changed into something more suitable. I had got into the habit of leaving some nice evening clothes at work; it gave a good impression to the clients if I changed when we had evening meetings.

Then I dashed across town to the Central Hotel where Jack had said we were having dinner. I walked into the hotel lobby at about five before eight and immediately I spied Jack sitting in the bar with Sonya, one of his assistants. They were sitting close together and their heads were almost touching as they whispered to each other, obviously enjoying some private joke, because they both had big smiles on their faces.

Then I noticed that Jack was holding something in his hand; it was a jewellery presentation case. He handed it to Sally who opened it and her eyes lit up as she took out a rather grand and expensive looking diamond pendant necklace. After a few more little whispers and some vigorous head shaking saying no on Sonya's part and yes on Jack's part, she handed the necklace to Jack, who put it around her neck and fastened it. Sally turning her back to him so he could do so. I was somewhat surprised that she never saw me standing there, gaping at my husband giving the little tart a diamond necklace, but she was looking down at the pendant at the time.

I took a step back behind a large potted plant so they wouldn't see me. Just what the hell was I going to do now, I didn't know. I couldn't really make a scene in the Central; it would be just too embarrassing, as my company used the place frequently for business lunches etc. Whilst I was thinking what to do, I noticed an old couple who I thought I vaguely recognised go into the bar. They joined Jack and Sonya then after a short conversation all four of them went into the restaurant.

Lost in my thoughts I made my way back out to my car. Just what had happened to my marriage? In less than a week I'd found my husband having sex with one little tart and then giving another of his whores a diamond necklace. What the hell had come over the man? Or had he been playing the field behind my back for years? I sat in my car and cried myself silly for the next couple of hours. At about ten-thirty I saw Jack and Sonya come out of the hotel. 'Well at least they weren't sharing a room there tonight.' I thought, 'but I wondered if Jack's got a little love nest tucked away somewhere?'

Before I had the chance to get out of the car to confront them, they got into a taxi. I tried to follow them, but I soon got caught at a set of traffic lights and the taxi disappeared into the distance. Mad at myself, for not being quick enough to catch them at the hotel entrance I drove home. I would have it out with Jack when he got home.

I should have guessed they would stop off somewhere else, because midnight came and went and there was no sign of Jack. I went to bed thinking I'd catch him when he came to bed. I had no intention of sitting in the lounge all night. But I must have fallen asleep, because when I awoke it was morning, there was a cup of coffee by my bed and Jack was gone. He couldn't have been gone long, as the coffee was still hot. Then I had this vague recollection of Jack waking me and saying something, but I'm pretty slow to wake up in the mornings especially after a late night. Damn!

Furious with myself for not staying awake the night before, I got up and went to work. Not that I really achieved much I was so angry with Jack. I called him at work, but Sally told me he would be out of the office until about three, since he was taking a client and his wife to the airport.

"Oh, is he, and is Sonya going with him?" I asked in as sarcastic a tone of voice as I could muster.

"No, Sonya can't go," Sally answered. "She left for Australia first thing this morning."

"I suppose she will be able to get some sleep on the plane then; I doubt she got much last night." I couldn't resist the dig. But it must have gone completely over the dumb bitch's head.

"Well, I should imagine Sonya is quiet tired," Sally replied. "After all she did have to go with Jack to that dinner last night. Jack was very disappointed you couldn't make it. But as you couldn't Sonya stepped in at the last moment."

I wasn't expecting that. There was Sally telling me that Sonya had gone to the dinner with my husband the night before.

"I would have gone but my mother's in hospital and I had to go and visit her," Sally added.

What bloody next? Now the little cow was telling me she would have liked to go. "I'll bet you would, you little slut," I thought.

"Do you want me to ask Jack to call you when he gets in?" Sally asked.

"If you don't mind, Sally."

"My pleasure, Porsha. Bye."

"You silly little tart," I thought as I put the phone down, "I wonder If you know that Jack banged Sonya last night."

It was about four in the afternoon when Jack finally called me back. I immediately told him we needed to talk about some things. He sounded confused but suggested that we go out for a meal that evening since I hadn't been able to make our anniversary. I was taken completely by surprise as I had forgotten that the previous day had been our wedding anniversary. Although I didn't think that excused him fucking Sonya. I was damn sure that's what he had done after I lost them.

Shortly after I got off the phone to Jack a couple of my staff came in to tell me they had a problem with a contract they were trying to close. They had arranged to meet the clients that evening for a meal where they were hoping to thrash it out amicably. They wondered if I could come along in case things got sticky. I told them that I was going out with my husband that night but if they just happened to go to the same restaurant, they could liaise with me if they wished. It was the best I could do.

Luckily the clients were staying at the Central where Jack and I were eating so that worked out fine. Although I wasn't sure how Jack was going to take it.

When I got home from work I got showered and really made myself up. I was quite pleased with my efforts. I always look good, but that night I was sure I would have every one's attention. Jack was late home and explained that he had been caught up on the phone with a foreign client. I knew that he was always getting calls at strange hours. But in the back of my head I was really wondering whether Jack had stayed late in the office to give Sally her daily ration.

When Jack and I arrived at the hotel there was no sign of my guys. Jack and I were eating our meal by the time they came in. As I thought, Jack was surprised to see them.

"Did you know they were coming here?" he asked.

"Yes, they are having a problem with the contract," I replied. "I thought if they needed any advice I could give it to them. You don't mind, do you?" I could see straight away that Jack did mind.

"Well, I thought you wanted to talk about us, but it looks like your company is more important to you. This is our wedding anniversary dinner even if it is a day late."

"I'm sorry, I forgot. But I've had a lot on my mind lately. Anyway you had a meal booked with clients last night!"

"Not any clients, Porsha. George and Mildred Crowe. If you remember on our first wedding anniversary they just happened to be at the next table and it was their wedding anniversary as well and we celebrated together. They flew in yesterday especially to have a meal with us last night."

"Why the hell didn't you tell me? I would have cancelled my meeting and come. I just forgot the date that's all."

"You really have no idea, have you?" Jack asked. He had lost me again.

"About what?"

"About the way you shouted at me, down the phone when you told me you couldn't make dinner last night, as you had your oh so important late meeting. You nearly bit my bloody head off. That's what I've been telling you for months now. You hardly speak a civil word to me nowadays."

Oh, Christ did I really shout at him on the phone? I know I was angry but I didn't mean to shout at him. I didn't want him to know that I knew about his philandering. Well, not yet anyway.

"I'm really sorry, Jack, but you know that I've nearly got this big deal sorted. Once the contract is signed the pressure will be off."

"No, it won't, Porsha. You take the pressure on yourself. You always have. You have to have everything done your way."

I was getting angry again, Jack was winding me up now and to be honest I didn't have a reply for him. But just then one of my guys came over and asked some inane question. This was my chance. Jack and I had finished eating and we were waiting for our coffees to arrive.

"Will you excuse me a moment, Jack? I'll just go and sort this out for them, I'll be back in a couple of minutes." I didn't give Jack a chance to reply. I jumped up walked over to join my staff and their clients. I thought I would only be a couple of minutes and I would think of a comeback for Jack whilst I was there.

I'm pretty sure Jack was furious because I could see the expression on his face when I looked in his direction. Things didn't quite go as I planned, the two clients deluged me with questions and I somehow lost track of the time. The next time I looked over to our table Jack was no longer there.

The waiter saw me looking and came over to me. He told me Jack had told him to tell me that he would wait in the bar. So I went back to my conversation. We finally shook hands on the deal about eleven-thirty but when I got into the bar there was no sign of Jack. I asked the barman if he had seen him and he gave me our car keys and a note from Jack.

"Porsha, A moment to me is a couple of minutes. You left our table at nine-thirty or there about. I waited until eleven o'clock. Your work is obviously more important to you than your husband. I've taken a cab home. I hope you haven't drunk too much to drive the car. Jack.

The bastard had left me there. Well, at least he had paid the bill for our meal. I was just about to leave myself when one of the clients, Denis Walker came into the bar. He asked me if I would join him for a drink but I said I had to get home.

"Where's your husband gone?" Denis enquired.

"Home. He got fed-up with waiting for me."

"What a silly man. I can't imagine what he was thinking leaving a beautiful woman like you all alone." Yeah, I know I should have guessed what he was really thinking but I was pissed off big time with Jack. Before I knew it, I was sitting down for a drink with Denis. The rest of the evening was a blur. I had probably drunk too much wine in the restaurant and I'm not sure what I drank in the bar.

The next time I remember anything clearly, I was in Denis's room and we were in each other's arms kissing. When the door suddenly burst open and two rather big guys walked in and without ceremony grabbed hold of Denis. Denis started to protest. But one of the guys said, "Shut your mouth, arsehole, before I shut it for you!" Then a couple of the hotel staff came in and threw all of Denis's stuff into his suitcase. Before I really understood what was going on Denis was bundled out of the room.

A woman appeared whom I recognised as the hotel's manager. "I don't know what kind of relationship you have with my cousin Jack," she said, "but you are not going to cheat on him in my establishment. Now you are obviously too drunk to drive so you had better sleep it off in here. I'll have the maid change the bed. I'm not sure but I think your new friend had a professional in here this afternoon. We normally turn a blind eye to that kind of thing but family is different."

You know, I don't think I said a word during the whole encounter. I just stood there in shock. How the hell had I finished up in this hotel room? And, oh, my god, would I have slept with the guy if we hadn't been disturbed?

Once the maid had left I collapsed on the bed. During the night I must have been sick, I vaguely remember being in the bathroom and rinsing my dress out. When I woke from what I hoped was a bad dream the following morning, I was dismayed to find that I was in that damned hotel room.

Moving slowly, because I had one hell of a hangover, I got up, showered and then got dressed. When I opened the door, one of the big guys from the previous evening was sitting on a chair outside. I realised he was one of the bouncers from the casino next door. Yes! That's when I remembered that Jack had told me that this whole damned complex... Hotel, Night-club and Casino... was owned by relatives of his.

The bouncer guy guided me to the service lift. Apparently he had been told that I was to leave by the rear entrance. He told me that the hotel's car would be driving me home as they thought I would probably still be over the blood alcohol limit. When we got to the basement level car park, the bouncer guy left me and a woman took me by the arm and lead me to a limousine with blacked out windows. As she pushed me inside I remembered that Jack's car was out front and asked the woman what I was going to do about it.

"Don't worry about Jack's car, Porsha. We'll get it back to him." Somehow the woman's voice sounded familiar. I looked at her; her face was familiar but couldn't quite place her.

"Do I know you?" I asked

"Christ you always were a stuck up bitch, Porsha. If I'd known how much of a slut you would turn into you never would have got near Jack."

"Who the hell are you?" I demanded. But the woman didn't answer, having pushed me into the back of the car she walked to around to the chauffeur and I heard her tell him my address. Christ, did she think I didn't know where I lived. I could have told him that!

"Right oh, Sheila. It should take me about twenty minutes," the driver replied.

As he pulled away I asked him. "Was that Sheila Mitchell."

"Who? No, that's Mrs. Sheila Williams. She's the assistant day-manager. But come to think of it, I think she was Sheila Mitchell before she got married. There's some old 'employee off the year' photos of her on the wall in the staff room. Do you know her?"

I didn't answer him. Oh, god, Sheila had been my best friend at college. I wonder how many times I'd walked past her in that hotel without noticing her. The more I thought about things, the more I realised Jack had it right. Nothing mattered to me if it wasn't connected to my job. I had no friends outside my work. All the people Jack and I socialised with were Jack's friends, not mine.

Then the thought of what was I going to say to Jack came into my mind. Surely he was going to go ape that I hadn't come home all night. What the hell was he going to think? Oh, god if he had called the Central, had they told him about me being in that room with Denis Walker?

As I walked into the house there was no sign of Jack and the phone was ringing. I picked up the handset. "Jack!"

"No, Porsha, its Stephanie. Where the hell have you been? I've been calling since nine o'clock. Marshall is going bonkers! What the devil happened last night? The boys said the Walker contract was all sown up last night, but this morning Walker called and said it's all off again. What happened?"

My head went into a whirl. "Oh, god, what did they do with Denis Walker after they took him out of that room. God, I hope they never hurt him," I thought. My mind went into damage control mode.

"Do you know where Denis Walker is, Stephanie?"

"He called from the Novatel I think, but I can check with the boys."

"Do so and call me back. I'll go and see whether I can pour some oil and sweet talk him around."

I ran up to the bedroom and changed. I wish I'd not been thinking about that contract so much. If I hadn't been concentrating on it I might have noticed that Jack's clothes were gone from the bedroom.

But as Jack had told me, getting the contract signed was all that I was thinking about. Within ten minutes of getting Steff's call that confirmed Denis Walker was at the Novatel I was on my way there.

As I walked in the main entrance; Greg Marshall was coming out met me. "Porsha! What the hell did you think you were doing last night?" he bellowed at me. "I've got to sack you! Our company does not use prostitution to get business. Do not return to the office. Your personal belongings will be sent on to you together with your final salary cheque."

"But I didn't do anything."

"There's no discussion on this Porsha, Your husband's bully boys frightened the life out of Walker last night. If the newspapers get hold of this god knows what will happen. Luckily I don't think Walker will want to advertise the fact he was thrown out of the Central Hotel. I doubt his wife will appreciate him being caught with someone else's wife in his room in the middle of the night. But the sooner the company distances itself from you, the better. Good-bye, Porsha."

With that Greg Marshall walked away and I stood there trying to come to terms with what had happened in the last 24 hours. Denis Walker came out a couple of minutes later but he wouldn't even talk to me. He just got into a taxi and left.

In a kind of daze, I went back to my car and drove home. Once I got there I realised that I had no one to talk this whole experience over with, besides Jack that is. Knowing that I couldn't tell him everything I called his office anyway, because I needed someone to talk to. She was quite polite about it but Sally told me that Jack wasn't taking calls from me. I tried arguing with her but that got me nowhere.

Ok, I thought to myself. Jack is angry with me; I'd better make a special effort to look good when he gets home tonight. I was sure I could talk him around if I tried hard enough. I was getting out of the shower when I noticed something was wrong. Jack's toiletries weren't on the unit; I suddenly got a very nasty feeling in my stomach and still naked, I went into the bedroom. His bedside clock was missing. Then in panic I looked in his wardrobe; it was almost empty. Jack had left me!

I think I must have fainted because the next thing I knew I was laying on the bed. As things came back to me I started crying. I'm not sure how long I lay there but it was dark when the phone rang and I came out of my daze. Gingerly I picked it up and said hello, hoping it would be Jack.

"Mum, is that you? You sound awful!" It was Mark, my son.

"Um, yes Mark it's me and I'm not feeling on top of the world at the moment."

"What's going on, mother? Dad called earlier and told me you two have separated. Megan and Sarah are here with me and we want to know what is going on. Dad won't tell us. He told us to ask you."

"To be honest, Mark, I'm not exactly sure myself that I know what's going on. I did something stupid yesterday and everything seems to have collapsed around me."

"Oh!" was all Mark said. But then Megan obviously took the phone from him.

"What did you do, mum? What did you do to make dad leave you?"

I stuttered trying to think of an answer for her

"Oh, god, mum! It wasn't another man, was it? Oh, god, mum, it was, wasn't it! How could you do that?" That is a trait of Megan's. She is very astute and when she's on a roll she will ask and answer the question herself. A little bit like her father really.

"No, Megan, wait! Please, don't go jumping to conclusions. I didn't sleep with anyone, if that's what you're thinking. I just got myself into a compromising situation, that's all, and your father got the wrong idea."

Well, it was the truth. I hadn't actually had sex with Denis Walker. Although just what would have happened if Jack's cousin hadn't stepped in, I don't know.

To put it bluntly, all three of my children gave me a complete dressing down. I didn't think I could feel any worse than I was feeling when that phone had rung, but by the time they'd finished, I felt terrible. Somehow, without actually saying it, they let me know they didn't think I'd been much of a mother to them or a wife to Jack.

Once that phone call was over, I sat there crying again and trying to think what the hell I was going to do. I won't say that the idea of ending it all didn't pass through my mind. But I don't think I was strong enough to actually do it. The idea of making a half-hearted attempt to get myself some sympathy did pass through my mind. But who was going to find me.

I tried calling some of my friends from work, as I really needed a shoulder to cry on. But I soon learnt that I didn't have any friends at work. When I was a winner, they all loved me. Now that it had gone to pot for me they didn't want to know me.

In desperation I called the Central Hotel. Sheila was the only person I could think of who might talk to me. But she wasn't on shift. The girl I spoke to wouldn't give Sheila's number. But I did persuade her to call Sheila and ask her to call me. Thankfully Sheila called me back about twenty minutes later.

I don't remember what I said to her on the phone, I think it just all flowed out but it was enough to persuade her to come round to my house. Sheila walked in and took over like she always used to do when we were young. She cooked me something to eat whilst I told her the story of my life especially the last week. Once I'd eaten Sheila took me into the lounge, settled me down on the sofa and placing a large brandy in front of me. She made a phone call.

"Jack, its Sheila. I'm at your house with Porsha. You had better get your arse over here. There are some things that don't make any sense that you need to sort out." Sheila listened as Jack said something to her then. "Okay, we'll see you in twenty minutes then." -- "Yes I understand, but you have to listen to what Porsha has been telling me. She's got some weird idea about... Oh, look, she'll tell you herself when you get here." Then Sheila hung up.

"What did he say and how the devil did you know where to find jack?" I asked her.

"Jack's coming over but it sounds to me like he's not in the mood to do much listening. He's very angry with you. Whatever you believe he'd been doing doesn't excuse what you did last night. What the hell did you think you were up to? Getting even or something?"

"Yes. No. Oh, I don't know. I was being horrible to him when I left him sitting on his own after dinner. But when he went home without me, that really pissed me off. Then Denis Walker offered me to buy me drink. I thought just one drink with him wouldn't hurt. Look, Sheila, I don't honestly know how I finished up in that room with him. That was definitely not my intention. I love Jack, you must know that."

"Well, that's not how Jack or the family see it. I think you are going to have a hard job explaining what you were doing in that guy's room at one o'clock in the morning."

"Don't you think I know that? Anyway how did you know where to find Jack? Is he at the Central?"

"No, he's not there. But Jack's family. He's a distant cousin of mine. It's a big family and we all look out for one another. Why do you think they stepped in last night?"

I knew why they acted how they did, but I had no idea that Sheila was related to Jack as well.

"If you're related to Jack, why didn't you come to our wedding?"

"It's damned a big family, Porsha. For all your parents' airs and graces, they could never have afforded a wedding that size. There's bloody hundreds of us. Besides I was at UNI when you got hitched, remember. And when I came back you didn't want to know me."

"Oh, shit, am I that much of a selfish cow? Did I blow you off when you came back?"

"Well, not really. You were married and I was still out having a good time."

Sheila went on to give me the story of her life. Apparently she had tipped her cap at Jack at one time but had lost out to me. Sheila had been married but was now divorced and had been a deputy manager at the hotel for years.

Jack arrived but I really think I had never seen him so angry as he was that night. He stormed in, plonked himself in a chair and said, "Alright, Porsha, you wanted to tell me something. Talk. You've got half an hour!"

I told him about finding him and Sally in his office and about seeing him give Sonya the necklace and my trying to follow them but losing them. And as he never came straight home afterwards I thought he had taken Sonya somewhere. Jack sat stern-faced and didn't say a word. Until I started to talk about the previous evening, when he stopped me.

"I know about last night and I don't want to hear anymore about that, thank you." He spoke in a tone that I had never heard him use before. I think he was fighting to stay in command of his temper. "Will you both come with me, please? This shouldn't take too long to sort out." He added as he left the room and led the way into his home office.

Once in there he looked up phone number and dialled it on the conference phone. I heard Sally answer, then Jack still in his angry voice demanded.

"Sally, who was in the office on Tuesday?"

"Just me, Jack, I was on my own most of the day."

"No one came in at all, all day?"

"Roger popped in between appointments, but he was only there for a little while?"

"About what time was that?"

"Lunchtime why, is there a problem?"

"Sally, when are you two going to stop pussy footing around and get married. And if I ever hear that the pair of you have been having sex in my office again, I'll fire you. Do you understand."

Sally was lost for words for a few minutes and then she started to apologise. But Jack stopped her.

"Sally, my wife called into the office on Tuesday and she thought it was me in there with you."

"Oh, my god! I'm sorry, Jack, I promise it will never happen again."

"Make sure it doesn't. Good night, Sally, and tell Roger to keep his head down. Oh, you'd better say good night to him as well. I know he's there."

Jack broke the connection, then after looking in his diary dialled again. This time a man answered.

"Hi, Ralph. It's Jack. Have you heard from Sonya today?"

"Yes, she called a little while ago. She's doing her best to get over the jet lag, before she meets the clients tomorrow."

"Ralph this isn't going to make much sense to you but would you mind telling my wife what happened the other night when Sonya came to that dinner with me. My wife is under the impression that Sonya and I were misbehaving."

"Sure, Jack, as I remember it you two arrived home at little before eleven. Sonya went straight to bed as she had that early flight. Then you helped me sort out my computer with that message program so Sonya and I could see each other while we talked. Hey, it's quite good. We tried it earlier. After that we had a drink and a chat. Then I drove you home."

"What time was that, Ralph?"

"I'm not too sure. But I got to bed about two. I remember looking at the clock."

"Thanks, Ralph. I think that just about clears everything up. Give my favourite negotiator my love and thank you for lending her to me the other night. It looks possible that I'll be needing her again in the future."

"No problems, Jack. I hope that straightens things out between you and Porsha. I think Sonya will be upset about the misunderstanding."

With that the call ended.

Jack looked at me. "Any questions or do you think I set all that up?"

"I'm sorry, Jack, I jumped to the wrong conclusions. But why did you give Sonya that necklace?"

Jack stood up and started walking to the door. As he did so and without looking at me, he said. "It was our wedding anniversary. I brought you a diamond pendant. I wanted to see what it looked like on a beautiful woman. As I couldn't see it on you I asked Sonya to wear it. It's in your jewellery safe upstairs. Good night."

Just like that, he was gone before I had a chance to say another word. I was stunned for a minute but then I jumped up and chased after him, calling his name. But he was driving away as I got out the front door. I must have fainted again because the next thing I remember I was in the lounge and Sheila was pouring brandy down my throat again. I sat there crying and Sheila tried to make the right kind of noises.

I was a little surprised when the doorbell rang and Sheila let a guy in, who she said was the Hotels doctor. He checked me over, then Sheila and he went into a huddle. For some reason he took a blood sample and then gave me a sedative. I don't remember much after that. When I woke the next day there was some girl I didn't know sitting by my bed. In a foreign accent she told her name was Maria, and that she worked for Sheila who had asked her to stay with me until Sheila could get back from work.

My day was spent in abject misery. But I could only blame myself. I had been very selfish all my life and now I knew it. I knew that I hadn't planned to humiliate Jack at the hotel. But I had done so. I knew that I hadn't planned to sleep with Denis Walker but that's what it must look like I was planning. There was no way that I could think of that would convince anyone otherwise.

I also knew that Jack was expecting our marriage to collapse. Hadn't he told me so no more than a month or so ago. I figured that he was intending to divorce me and I could do little to stop him. My mind went back to the suicide idea but I realised that was the coward's way out and besides, for the time being Maria was watching me like a hawk. Sheila was a better friend to me than I'd ever been to her.

That night the children rang again but really just to touch base. I could hear the anger in their voices as they spoke to me. I can only assume that Jack had been talking to them. I suppose it must have been at his insistence that they called me as they had little to say to me and they were of no comfort to me.

That night Sheila stayed over again. This time she gave me a sleeping pill the doctor had given her for me. That was the routine for the next few days. Maria was there during the day, Sheila and the sleeping pills at night. The children settled into a different one calling me each evening, it seemed to me just to check that I was still alive.

One day a taxi pulled up and Stephanie, my old secretary had brought all my personal things from my office and my severance cheque for many thousands of pounds more than I had expected. But she wouldn't come into the house. She just stood on the doorstep and handed everything over.

I think a week or so went past when Sheila came in one evening and appeared very happy about something. She told me that I had this appointment with Mr. White, the solicitor, today.

So here I am, And shortly I'm going through that door, where I'm sure I'll hear that my marriage is at an end.

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Story tagged with:
Ma/Fa / Cheating /