Following family tradition David, as the youngest, said grace as the rest of the family sat with heads bowed and thought about what they were most thankful for. Well, almost everyone had their head down; mine was slightly elevated and my eyes were fixed on the spot halfway down the table where David's wife Shelly was sitting. Shelly was looking back at me with a small smile and as our eyes met she winked at me. I wondered what she was thinking; what she was being thankful for. I knew what I was thinking. I was thankful that my family was able to come together for this holiday, and that they were all in good health and leading happy lives. I was especially thankful for the two hours of wild sex I'd shared with Shelly when we had been alone in the house the previous day.
David had graduated from college and had accepted a job offer from a firm in San Francisco. He'd been there almost a year when he called and told us that he had met the girl of his dreams and that after a whirlwind courtship they had been married in a civil ceremony at City Hall.
"She's great dad, you are going to love her. I'm bringing her home with me at Christmas."
I turned the phone over to my wife Jenny and she spent the next twenty minutes pumping David for information. For the next two weeks Jenny hustled and bustled about making plans and arrangements for the coming visit of her new daughter in law.
The day of David's arrival came and Jenny made a trip to the front window every fifteen minutes to look outside. I was in the basement drawing up plans to make it a finished basement when I heard Jenny call out, "They're here honey, David's here."
By the time I put the measuring tape and the plans away and got upstairs David and his bride were sitting on the couch. When I walked in David jumped up and hurried over to me and we engaged in a big bear hug and then he turned and said, "Dad, this is Shelly."
Shelly stood and offered me her hand and we exchanged all the pleasantries like, "So nice to meet you" and "I've heard so much about you" and then Jenny took over and they got into the mother in law/daughter in law ritual. "Where did you meet David" and "Was it love at first sight?" and on and on.
As David and I talked I glanced occasionally over at Shelly. David had done well for himself. Tall at 5'9'', 130 pounds well distributed and accented by long raven black hair and green eyes. I saw Shelly glance over at me and I turned back to my conversation with David.
I spent the afternoon working on my car and then headed into the house to take a shower and change clothes. As I was walking down the hallway toward my bedroom the door to the spare bedroom opened and I saw Shelly. Her hand reached out and grabbed my arm and she pulled me into the room, closed and locked the door. I was expecting it so I caught the hand as she swung it to slap my face.
"You rotten bastard. You miserable asshole. No note, no card, no phone call, and just an empty fucking apartment when I got home from work. How could you do something like that to me? I thought you cared for me."
Five years before, when Jenny and I had been living in Kansas City, I had caught her having an affair. I had moved out and two months later I'd met Shelly and we had started dating. We seemed to click and we moved in together. We had been living together for almost nine months when Jenny began her campaign to get me back. It took Jenny six months to convince me that it would be worth trying to put our marriage back together and one day when Shelly was at work I moved out. Three months later a job opportunity had me moving the family to Denver.
Shelly tried to slap me with her other hand and I caught that wrist also and then I stood there looking at her while holding both wrists. Shelly started weeping and I released her arms and pulled her to me and held her while she cried into my shoulder. When the sobs subsided I gently kissed her on the forehead.
"I did care for you. I cared deeply for you, but you knew that I loved my wife. It was you who kept telling me that I was going to go back to her. I know that I kept saying "No way in hell" and that you were wrong, but I guess you knew me better than I knew myself.