‘So that’s your answer?’ I asked incredulous. ‘You are actually saying no. You are saying that you have not had any contact with Caterina since the day she moved out of this house?’
‘I haven’t contacted her or spoken to her,’ Tom said. ‘Why would I? I mean come on Lilly, you were awful to her – you fired her for no reason. I was embarrassed and I haven’t spoken to her since I gave her a glowing reference. Which I thought was the least I could do after the way you treated her.’
I wasn’t listening I was stunned at the lie. Well, now lies – with an ‘s’ because he’d now lied twice. And I’d heard before, many times, about how unfair I had treated our former au pair.
‘Tom, listen I am trying to stay calm here, you are really saying that you have not spoken to her?’
‘I haven’t’ he said.
‘Right Tom, you know what, when you want to tell me the truth, come find me,’ I started to walk out of the room.
He was right behind me ‘Lilly what’s your problem?!?’ He said in a visibly annoyed and fed up voice.
I swung around angrily, ‘do you think there is a chance that I KNOW that you have been in touch with Caterina, say, perhaps by email? Because maybe, just maybe, I would never be asking you at 9:30am on a busy Monday morning, if I didn’t ALREADY KNOW the truth? Has THAT crossed your mind?’
‘Well Lilly, like I said, I have no idea why you are doing this, you’ve just had a baby, you are crazy and I guess hormonal.’
This is a moment when I want to slap him. Why does my husband say these things? I’m crazy because I’ve had a baby. He is lying but hey, it’s my fault, because I’ve given birth.
‘Alright Tom, you know what, I’m bored now. This is so boring. You lying and I know you are. You promised me two years ago you would not have anything to do with this girl. You promised. And now you have. And NOW you’re lying about it, so I’m bored and angry and’…. suddenly he interrupted me and shouted.
‘WHY?? WHY do you think this? WHY do you think I’ve been in touch with her??’
I shouted back. ‘This is not about why I think this Tom!! This is about telling me the truth about what is going on with this girl!’
He was staring at me angrily. I was staring at him. Glaring at each other in silence. Then I noticed a little sweat bead on his forehead. He was nervous. And I just knew something was really wrong. Of course in my wildest dreams I didn’t think affair, no way. I just thought he’d been her friend, but I was angry enough about that.
‘You know what Tom, you go to work. I’m going to make a coffee. Don’t speak to me again until it’s the truth coming out of your mouth,’ and I walked away into the kitchen to stew in my anger. Tom grabbed his laptop loudly from the desk in our kitchen and stomped out to his office, slamming the door.
Our home has a big office for my husband to work. It’s a separate building but connected through an internal door. He has his own business and works at home when he isn’t travelling. Sometimes he has people work for him when he has big projects, so others are in his office which has a few desks.
When Caterina came to be our au pair two years earlier, she spent a lot of time in his office and this was one of the bones of contention from the start. Tom decided to hire her to work with him in his office, in addition to being our au pair and working the required few hours a day helping with childcare. So when Caterina finished helping with my daughter for an hour in the morning, she would go straight into his office and spend all day until she was back at 5pm helping with bath and bedtime.
I would pop into my husband’s office when he was there, often a few times a day and Tom and the au pair would be giggling, heads together looking at a computer. Other times I’d hear animated talking as I’d walked through the door but the moment I arrived it would stop. And there would be uncomfortable silence, until I would leave again, with the animated cheerful talking starting only once I’d left the room.
Tom would say to me ‘Caterina is amazing and the clients love her’ or ‘I don’t know what I did before Caterina was helping me every day.’ Not surprisingly, I found it all a bit uncomfortable and I told him so. Many times. This young girl arrived from Italy, not speaking the best English, to help in the house a couple of hours a day with childcare and learn the language, and suddenly in the space of a week, she is amazing and indispensible to my husband. Spending 7 hours a day with him. It was a relief when I fired her and she left two years earlier. I had not thought of her since…until this Monday.
I was in turmoil and walked in circles worrying and fretting for the rest of the morning. I knew my husband had a 3pm flight to Amsterdam and he would be leaving at lunchtime for the airport. He was going away for three nights. Back Thursday midday. I knew he could not leave for that trip without me knowing the truth. I couldn’t spend three days in this agony.
Tom came in from his office and I heard him go upstairs, walking around our bedroom, wardrobe doors closing, I knew he must be packing. I decided what to do and I suddenly bolted up the stairs filled with adrenalin.
‘If you leave for Amsterdam without telling me the truth, then you don’t have to bother coming back!’ I said with anger and turned on my heel quickly before he could reply, disappearing down the stairs.
I then sat in the kitchen waiting, as the clock was ticking to 1pm. Tom stayed upstairs, I assumed he was deciding what he should do next. The doorbell rang and it startled me, I went to the front door and looked out at the taxi in front of our house. Tom was coming down the stairs with his bag.
‘Lilly, listen, okay – I’ll tell you the truth. Hold on.’ He dashed outside calling through the window of the taxi that he would be ten minutes.
We stood in the foyer of our house, the one we had lovingly picked out two years earlier, or so I thought. He started hesitantly.
‘I was really upset with the way you treated Caterina. I could not understand how your wild imagination could think that anything at all was happening between me and our au pair. I mean, I felt, well, like a loyalty to her. Because she came here to be an au pair for us and was really young and away from home. And after a few weeks was thrown out for no reason. So yes, I have been in touch with her. It was a keep-in-touch out of kindness thing, me giving her career advice and being friendly and helpful. That sort of thing.’
‘and…’ I asked.
‘Alright Tom, you’ve told me, okay. So you have been in touch with her. I’m not happy about it. So how have you been in touch? By letter, email, phone?’
‘By email, only email,’ Tom said.
‘So only by email then, you haven’t spoken to her?’ I asked.
‘No, I haven’t spoken to her,’ he answered, looking at me quite solemnly.
Lie. Lie. Lie.
The email I saw had said – shall we SPEAK. I was distraught. Because I remembered something I had heard lots of times and read lots of times…If someone lies about one thing, they will lie about other things. What else is Tom lying about?
‘So that’s it then?’ I asked.
‘Yes, that’s it,’ said my lying husband.
Running out of time and feeling drained, I said, ‘okay, well I have a request before you go and I need you to promise me.’
‘Anything,’ said Tom, ‘you know darling, anything at all and I am really sorry.’
‘I don’t want to hear sorry,’ I said, ‘what I want to hear is you promise me. I want you to say to me that if you love me, if you love me, that from this moment on, you promise that you will not have any contact with Caterina again. No matter what has happened in the past, these last two years, from now, you will never be in contact with her again. Do you promise?’
‘Well of course I promise my love.’ And he hugged me long. ‘I’m sorry darling, I’ve been a prize idiot, I’m sorry. I love you and I’ve got to go. I’ll call you after I land. I’m sorry, really. Love you, bye darling,’ and my husband walked out the door into the taxi.
I watched as the taxi left and went down the road around the corner. And I burst into tears. I love Tom so much. How can he just do this and be friends with this girl behind my back?
Meanwhile, in the taxi, less than ten minutes after my husband left our home with that genuine promise, he phoned and spoke with Caterina and invited her for a weekend away.