1. The Lie

This blog has ten posts which are the beginning of my story.  The remainder of the story is now on Kindle, cost of £4.00. So if you enjoy these first chapters, please do purchase the rest here.  Thank you.  

Three days ago, I found out my husband Tom has been having an affair, for maybe as long as two years, with our au pair. Not a fling, two years in a relationship, unbeknownst to me. During the two years, I’ve had two children and been living blissfully unaware, thinking that life was good. Is good. Busy and stressful, but pretty damn good.

First of all, how did I find out? Well, I felt something was wrong for awhile. The au pair moved out of our house a long time ago. I fired her after only five weeks because I could see something wasn’t right with the way she behaved around my husband and the way he behaved around her.

But I never thought he would do this something like this. Never in a million years. Because he was married before me for ten years and his wife had an affair which really hurt him.  When we were dating he spoke about how painful her betrayal was. How devastated he felt. How much it hurt him. So I always thought, I guess naively, that if someone has been hurt because of an affair, they would never do it to someone else.

How wrong I am.

I found out because Tom has been very unhappy and grumpy for weeks. I’ve tried to talk about it. He has refused to speak about what’s wrong only saying ‘things will be okay’ and then looking away from me. He said recently ‘don’t give up on me, things will be okay.’

My thoughts of course eventually came around to something is wrong and my husband is hiding it. Financial ruin? Serious health problem? Another woman? Surely not another woman. But I knew that I needed to find out. Things were so bad he’d said to me ‘don’t give up on me.’ and ‘things will be okay.’ What things? Our life together?

I looked on Tom’s laptop when he was out and it was locked. I put in the password, always our daughters name and it was incorrect. Did I type it wrong? I tried a few more times, again password incorrect and in that moment I knew he was hiding something. We’ve never used other passwords or changed them before. He is hiding something from ME. His wife. He is hiding something on his laptop.

A few days went by and I was waiting for the opportunity when the laptop was on and logged in and Tom stepped away. On Monday morning he was working at home and said he was going to pop over to the high street to go to the bank. As soon as I heard the front door close, I nipped over to the desk and looked on the open laptop and clicked straight into his email.

The email opened and there was Tom’s inbox and the first thing I saw on the list of messages made my heart skip a beat. Her name. There was her name! So our former au pair had sent him an email message. And that was enough to make my blood boil. It shouldn’t have, but it did. Because two years earlier when I fired her, my husband promised me, ABSOLUTLY promised me, he would not have any contact with her ever again.

Tom knew I suspected something was going on and I was unhappy enough to fire our au pair which I had never done before. We had employed au pairs in the past and they were always lovely and always a nice part of our family, helping because we have three children close in age. But this au pair, Caterina, she wasn’t lovely. She was the only person I’d ever had to ask to leave.

Her name was there, clear as day in his inbox. I clicked on the message.

Shall we chat tomorrow or Wednesday?
Ciao, Caterina xx’

OMG, they have talked. She lives in Italy. How do they talk? How long have they been talking? My heart was racing and my hands were shaking. Maybe it’s friendship, maybe it’s more, but Tom is definately lying to me. Lying to the person he says he loves and who he is married to. Devastation.

She has put xx’s. Does that mean real kissing, or people do that all the time, so it is probably just friendly. Or something more? I didn’t know what it meant, but I had to find out.

I closed the email and went to the sitting room. Sat down feeling queasy. Shaking I knew that I had to speak to Tom about this right now and waited to hear the front door open. It did. It was just a normal Monday morning but not at all normal for me because I suddenly knew my husband had lied.

Tom didn’t see me in the kitchen and called out.

‘Hey Lil, where are you?’

‘In here,’ was my reply. In here dying inside, I thought.

He came in smiling.

‘Tom, I’ve got to ask you something important,’ I said with a serious voice.

‘Sure’ he answered casually, starting to tell me about a friend he ran into on the high street but I wasn’t listening. My mind was racing. I suddenly spoke, trying to remain calm.

‘Tom, if I asked you something important, something really massively important to me, no matter WHAT, you would tell me the truth, right?’

I went on with no plan in my mind.

‘I mean, you would tell me the truth, even if telling me the truth meant something bad, even if it was really bad.’

‘What? What are you talking about Lilly?’

‘Tom, no matter what, you must tell me the truth, and I have a question for you, and here it is. Have you been in touch at all with Caterina since I fired her, in any way, shape or form? Have you seen her? Emailed her? Wrote to her? Spoke to her? Anything at all, since she moved out two years ago?’

‘What?!? Oh God, not this again about Caterina! WHY are you asking me this Lilly? Why? What’s going on?’ he said annoyed.

‘Well, why do you THINK I’m asking? Seriously Tom, why do you think I am asking you this question on a Monday morning, no different from any other Monday in our lives?’

‘I don’t know why, because you just had a baby and are going insane? Because when it comes to our aupair Caterina, you are crazy with jealously about NOTHING and you fired a really lovely person who was a big help to us. And who you treated really unfairly. I don’t know why. You tell me why you are asking this!’

‘Well Tom, listen VERY CAREFULLY to me right now, because I am NOT going to be giving you a lot of chances. I want you to tell me the truth and the point is not WHY I’m asking you this, it’s your ANSWER. I am asking you this question because I want to know the answer, right now. You promised me two years ago you wouldn’t have any contact with her, so I now want you to tell me you haven’t. Or have you been in touch with Caterina? Have you been in touch with her these last two years?’

He stood up and walked over to look out the window and when he turned around I could see panic in his eyes. Has he figured out I know the answer already, I wondered.

‘Well you are a NIGHTMARE Lilly, you really are! I have a lot of work to do. I don’t need this!’

Tom took a step towards the door, he was going to leave but I wasn’t going to let him. I went over and stood in front of him, looking him straight in the eye.

‘Tom, what’s your answer? I want your answer. You are not going to work until you tell me. Have you seen or spoken to Caterina??’

It seemed a long time until he answered, he was silent. He was staring at me, saying nothing for what felt a long time. He opened his mouth and answered.

‘No, of course not! Of course I haven’t. I have NOT spoken to her, or seen her, or had any contact with her.’

It is a terrible moment when you realise, your husband is a liar.


2. So Much for Promises

‘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.

Third lie.

‘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.

3. The Truth

From: Lilly
Sent: Monday, 16:12
To:  Tom
Subject:   The truth
Dear Tom,

I am writing this email so you get it when you land in Amsterdam and you have a few days to think about it and decide some things.

I don’t know what has gone on with Caterina or what is currently going on with this girl or why you feel the need to lie about it, but I can assure you, I am going to find out. You can tell me the truth and do the right thing for our future, or you can wait until I find out the truth another way.

I know it has been more than emails.

When you return from Amsterdam, you are not going to live with me. I want a separation and I want it from today. I love you but I can’t live with you until I know you will never lie to me again. I can move out or you can move out. It doesn’t matter to me.


From:  Tom
Sent:  Monday, 17:01
To: Lilly
Subject: Re: The truth

My darling Lilly,

I have been calling you for an hour and am desperate to talk to you, please pick up your phone! I am so upset and can’t believe this. I am NOT going to agree to a separation. I’m flying back tomorrow so we can sort this out. I’ll let you know what flight I’m on.


All my love,


4. The Wait

I woke up very early. Day two of my new life – married to a liar.

I felt more awake than I have ever been in my life, even though I only slept about four hours. I couldn’t sleep with thinking about my husband and the girl that I was feeling increasing bitterness towards, our former au pair, Caterina. Was she the cause of this? Or was Tom?

My brain was very busy, worrying about what relationship my husband was having with this girl. But I was absolutely 100% convinced my husband was not having an affair. I really thought there was no way that Tom would do that. We have worked hard for all we have – a young family that we both wanted so dearly, our home, good careers and a comfortable lifestyle. We have great friends in a great community. Surely Tom would not risk losing so much?

We had discussed affairs before we were married, although only mildly in the context of what had happened to him. I think I said if someone had an affair it would be a deal breaker for me. I couldn’t stay with that person. Did I say that? I’m sure I had indicated it and I was a strong person, quite independent, my husband knows me well enough to know that. Doesn’t he?

Tom had been married before and divorced. He would not risk losing a marriage, this one with kids, for an affair. My husband talked a lot about the awfulness of getting divorced. He talked about the pain but mostly he talked about how much it cost and he got angry when the words ‘divorce settlement’ were mentioned. He had a lot of resentment towards his first wife. I couldn’t imagine he would ever want to go through that again.

My busy head also kept coming back to our marriage and analysing it and then over-analysing it. Our courtship and marriage was happy. And we had lots of sex. It was a great part of our marriage and we had produced three kids quite quickly. Yes, kids will interrupt being a couple, but we had plenty of time together. I’d never been concerned or thought about anything other than how lucky we were. And I completely fancy my husband and he fancies me, so we ARE lucky.

Some of my friends who got married young and are now on 15-20 years of marriage, they complain about no sex life, or how it’s not working. That was not us and we have only been married four years – it is still a young marriage. People don’t have affairs unless they have no sex life, right? Or have been married a long time, the seven year itch and all that?

The only time Tom and I had a problem with our relationship was two years ago, that summer, when Caterina came into our lives and caused a lot of chaos. I brought my mind back to that, even though I really couldn’t face thinking about it. It was a dreadful time.

Watching our au pair as she smiled shyly at Tom while he would be bragging about something he had done. Making out he was just brilliant at everything. He would offer her an Italian coffee and make a fuss preparing it for her, she’d say in broken English how delicious and the ‘best coffee I has so far in England’… with him talking about the coffee beans he used and where he bought them. And all the coffee he had drunk in Italy or Columbia, boasting how well travelled he was.

I kept saying to him ‘stop flirting with her; you really are leading her to think you are Mr Perfecto, dream-dude. And you aren’t. So stop it.’ He would look at me with anger in his eyes, bringing him back down to earth and yes, he has annoying habits like everyone, but this young girl didn’t know that. So he could pretend he didn’t, while puffing up his ego like a peacock.

During that dreadful time, I remember getting annoyed about one thing in particular. My husband has a passion for sailing and would talk about it to Caterina all the time, and because she had never stepped foot on a boat, he had decided he would teach her to sail. Tom couldn’t wait to show off his skills and as soon as he got her on that boat he started with the compliments ‘such a natural, oh Caterina, you are such a natural, you are wonderful.’ It was all very cringing. She would bat her eyes, wearing his sailing cap, looking at him for approval.

My husband’s attention towards our au pair didn’t really concern me at first and I actually used to laugh about it. A lot. I’m sure that bothered my husband looking back on it but he was ridiculous and I found it funny. To me it was classic mid-life crisis at its most obvious. I used to say to girlfriends quite in jest ‘oh there goes Tom, sniffing after the au pair’ and I’d laugh. So would they.

Sometimes they’d ask ‘does that bother you?’ and I’d say ‘yep.’ But for a long time I thought, well what can I do? And ultimately, he’s a big boy, and married, he has to behave.

Thinking about that time and our bickering and the tension in the house, eventually leading to arguments on the day and for a few days after I fired her, made me feel so sad. Re-living the only time I was unhappy with Tom. I just couldn’t think about it anymore, but I also could NOT think of anything else.

It was early in the morning but the phone went and I looked and it was Tom’s Mum. I didn’t answer. She left a message, could she come over and bring me some vegetables from their garden they couldn’t eat.

Tom’s parents lived not far away and it was a regular thing for his Mum to come over, but she always called first, thankfully. I phoned her back, otherwise she might pop in and I didn’t want that today. ‘Sorry Sheila, not today please, I think we are all coming down with colds and I wouldn’t want to give it to you and David.’

I couldn’t see my mother-in-law. Since the moment Tom’s Mum met me, she has done nothing but tell me how lucky I am, to be married to her son. Really Sheila? You mean the big fat liar you raised? Yes, I am lucky indeed.

‘Yes Sheila, Tom has gone to Amsterdam. No Sheila we don’t need anything. He’ll be back on Thursday. Yes Sheila, I know I’m very lucky to have someone helping me while he is away.’ Sigh.

I put the phone down and not long after my mobile beeped, Tom text message ‘booked on late afternoon flight into Heathrow, should be home about 7pm. See you tonight xxx.’

I felt the most powerful butterflies in my stomach. I was separated from my husband. I’d asked him for a separation. And he was coming home early from business abroad to discuss it.

I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t go out, I couldn’t be with anyone or do anything. All I could do was wait. Wait until my husband arrived to talk to me about what was really going on in the part of his life I didn’t know anything about.

It was a very long 11 hours.

5. The Affair

I heard the key in the door. Tom walked into the kitchen and put his briefcase by the desk. He said nothing and came over to give me a kiss which I rejected and he kissed my cheek.

‘How are you?’ he asked.

‘How do you think I am?’ I said frostily. He said nothing back.

He walked to his briefcase and took out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. Occasionally Tom would smoke but only when he was stressed. I thought about when my mother was visiting from California after I had our first child. She was helping for a few weeks and it had only been about the third or fourth day home from the hospital and Tom was in our back garden, sitting at the very back on a bench, looking gloomy and smoking. My mother looked out at him and said to me ‘that looks like a new father to me, worried about the future.’

‘Shall we go to the sitting room?’ he asked and I followed him and sat down. Waiting. It was finally here. I was FINALLY going to hear the truth after 36 hours of waiting. Tom took out a cigarette and lit it, placing the pack on the mantel.

‘Lilly, I want to start by saying how much I love you and that you and the kids are my life. I would die without all of you.’

‘Oh fuck off,’ I said. ‘Get on with it Tom, seriously, I have been waiting since 9am yesterday!!’

Tom spoke, ‘I made a mistake and I am so, so, sorry and I want you to know, I was just stupid. Really stupid.’

‘WHAT MISTAKE??’ I asked.

He was puffing on his cigarette and pacing ‘I had a fling with Caterina. It meant NOTHING, I promise you, it was nothing. She just, she just, well came on to me and she contacted me after she moved out and said she was coming to London for a visit and she said, she wanted to see me. And would I see her. So I just was still really, really pissed off with you and what you did to her. And I said yes. I would. And so we went for a drink and we just had a nice chat and catch up, you know, she is…I mean was, my friend. And, um, and we had another drink and another, I got tipsy and she was I guess a bit smashed. She kissed me, like out of the blue, totally not expecting it at all and well I just, ummm, well I just. That was it.’

The sofa was spinning. I was dizzy and felt sick. I was overwhelmed with shock and my body was shaking. I waited for Tom to get to the end, the end of this awful, heart-ripping out of my chest story. And he stopped. Was this the end of him saying these awful words? Never had I thought, even in a million years, this??

I got up slowly and walked over to the mantel, picked up the cigarettes, took one out, and lit up my first cigarette in ten years. I inhaled very deeply and felt immediate relief. My hands calmed and I just felt intensely better for the thick smoke filling my lungs. Tom sat down, putting his head in his hands. And I started to pace, my heart pounding.

‘You had a FLING?? You had a FLING, with Caterina!?!’ I asked him, completely shell shocked. ‘How COULD you? How COULD you?!?’ I was dumbstruck and gobsmacked which is the only way to describe it.

‘I want to know where in the HELL you did this?’ I puffed on my cigarette trying to calm my voice. ‘Where the HELL were you? When you had these drinks and this FLING!?’

‘Uhh, well, in London’

‘WHERE in London? I want to know WHERE??’

Tom stammered, ‘Ummmm, it was a hotel, ah, we met for drinks, it was only going to be drinks. But then, um, we were at a hotel.’

‘SO YOU TOOK OUR AU PAIR TO A BAR IN A HOTEL, GOT HER DRUNK, THEN WALKED HER INTO A ROOM AT THAT HOTEL, AND SLEPT WITH HER??’ I was feeling the heat rising in my head. ‘OMG, how dare you!! How very dare you!’ I screamed at my husband. ‘WHICH hotel?? I want to know which hotel?!’

‘Uhh, Browns, it was umm, Browns Hotel,’ Tom mumbled.

‘How many times?’


‘How many times did you see her?’

‘Well, uhh, umm, I felt really awful and guilty and it was terrible. I can’t tell you Lilly how guilty and how awful I felt and I was just beating myself up over this and so upset. I knew what had happened was wrong and I met her again, and I don’t know why but I did. And so that was it.’

‘How many times?’

‘Well, um, I saw her three times, that was it,’ replied Tom.

I was on my second cigarette and pacing short steps in front of the fireplace, trying to figure this out. I had never in my life been so NOT READY for a conversation, than I was for this one. I completely trusted my husband. I had never checked up on Tom once, in four years of marriage.

‘So you saw our former au pair, who is young enough to be your daughter, and you got her drunk, and you slept with her. Then did it again one more time, just to be sure. Then again, a third time?!’ I said bitterly to my husband.

This was unbelievable to me. Here I was having babies, HIS babies, and I was up all night, building this family, living in a country that was not my own, making sacrifices, and he was sleeping with our au pair. Three times. In a luxury hotel in London.

Tom was sitting in a chair, his head hung down and he wouldn’t look at me.

‘Lilly I was stupid and not thinking clearly at all, you were…..we were just…..things were stressful and the kids and well, the mortgage and work. It just all felt really stressful. It just happened.’

‘So you slept with our au pair three times because your life is stressful?? So you think, that THIS, that THIS, is going to make life LESS stressful? Having an affair with our au pair!?! Someone that I had warned you about over and over and kept saying to you STOP flirting with Caterina, STOP leading her down the garden path acting like you’re courting her. STOP, STOP, STOP. And you didn’t!’

‘And what about HER??’ I continued, ‘Who is SHE to sleep with a married man? When she has lived here, sat at our table, shared our food, took care of our daughter and lived with our family? Who is she?? And who the hell are you!? Because I don’t even know you!’ I spewed at my husband and stubbed out my cigarette and threw it angrily into the fireplace.

‘What is WRONG with you Tom, seriously, what the HELL is WRONG with you??’

‘I’m sorry’ he said ‘I’m really sorry, I made a mistake.’

‘I want to know when these times were that you met her in London! When? And where was I? And where were your children??’

‘It was ummmm, I don’t know, in November I think, it was November and umm, it was December I guess, before Christmas.’

‘So she left our employment in August and in November she came to London and called you?? Is that what you are telling me? And she called you to get together for old time’s sake? And you slept with her at Browns Hotel??’ I asked again in disbelief.

‘Yes, that is what happened and I felt really awful. So guilty you can’t imagine. I mean, I’m glad actually that you now know. I’m glad,’ Tom said. ‘Lilly, this has really been so hard for me!’

‘Hard for you?? Hard for you Tom!? You selfish, self-centred stupid idiot!’ I grabbed the pack of cigarettes and threw them at him. ‘What’s been hard for you Tom?? Sleeping with our au pair and then keeping it a secret from your wife??’

‘Lilly, stop it. I’m trying to do the right thing here; I’m trying to tell you about this so it can be out in the open. I want you to know. I don’t have to tell you this; I’m trying to do the right thing.’ Tom said.

I laughed. A loud laugh looking at him. He seemed the stupidest human being on the planet at that moment and I just laughed again and said sarcastically, ‘the RIGHT THING?! Really Tom, because you are an honest, noble man so you are doing the RIGHT THING? What a joke! No Tom, don’t do that, don’t do it. Don’t be the hero, because you’re NOT! This is you, cornered and trapped, because I knew. You HAD to tell me!’

‘You are unbelievable, you really are!’ I ranted.

Tom sat shaking his head and putting his head in his hands.

‘Did you use her for sex, is that is?? OMG, don’t tell me you love her?’

Tom looked at me perplexed, like this was a trick question. His brow furrowed as he thought. ‘Well, um, ah, uhhh, I didn’t love her no, but I liked her. I liked her a lot. I mean, we were close. She was my friend. I didn’t use her. It was, you know, somewhere in the middle.’

‘Somewhere in the middle??’ I said, ‘wow, well that is a relief. You LIKED her. Ah, brilliant, just great to hear. You know what I think, I think you used her for your filthy middle-aged mid life crisis and you lured her like some sort of reptile, to have sex with her. And that is pathetic, totally pathetic!’ I shouted.

‘I didn’t use her and I didn’t do those things, SHE came on to ME, I didn’t know what to do. It was, you know, we were mates. And when you fired her, we got, well close.’

I felt sick. I couldn’t hear any more. Somehow that I caused this by firing Caterina, when clearly I did the right thing, was beyond ridiculous. I was so hurt, shocked, upset and never felt more let down in my life.

‘I don’t want to hear anymore actually. I am going to bed. I don’t care where you go.’ I said to my husband, walked upstairs, into our bedroom, shut the door, fell on the bed sobbing and cried all night.

I heard Tom come upstairs hours later and go into the guest room and close the door. At dawn I heard him get up and leave the house.

It was the saddest night of my life. I truly didn’t think anything could have been worse, unfortunately I was wrong.

6. The Holiday

Wednesday morning and I felt exactly like Emma Thompson in ‘Love Actually’ when she finds out her husband has bought a gold necklace as a Christmas present and given it to someone else. ‘I am a classic fool’ says her husband when he gets caught. ‘Yes and you’ve made the life I lead foolish too’ says Emma.

Wiping kid’s noses, changing nappies, sewing costumes for the school play, dentist appointments, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, taking the dog to the vet, organising birthday parties, writing thank you notes to the in-laws, volunteering at the local playgroup, reading bedtime stories, driving to and fro with kids in and out of car seats, washing dishes, cleaning up vomit, doctors visits, and the hundreds of other things that I did….felt worthless, WORTHLESS, knowing my husband was in a hotel in London screwing someone else.

Is it worse that the woman he was screwing was a young Italian girl who used to be the family au pair. Yes!

I thought we were in this together? Till death do us part? I thought my husband was on my team. A person to count on when your car breaks down and you’re stuck on the side of the road. A person who roots for you when you go for a job interview and is as disappointed as you are when you don’t get it. The person who wants you to be happy, even if it means it doesn’t include them.

The framework I had of my marriage and life and what love was – was smashed to smithereens. And I had no idea how I was going to figure any of this out.

I made a strong black coffee and I walked around my kitchen and house looking at it. Examining the things that made up my life, there was a framed photograph of my wedding day on a table in our foyer. I wanted to break it but instead turned it over. There were toys and a baby gym and a toddler’s car and muslins on the arm of the sofa. It looks like a house filled with a happy family. A family that maybe embrace the chaos and don’t sweat the small stuff.

I walked over to my desk by the window, overlooking a cherry tree we had planted when we moved here, a gift from a close friend when our daughter was born. More photos of kids and family, my parents on a boat on holiday, my Dad wearing his Mets t-shirt. It stung to think I’d have to tell them this.

I sat down and thought about Caterina and her parents. They came to visit here, when she lived with us and came for tea to meet our family. I felt furious. How dare she!? How dare they raise such a child!

Of course it’s crazy but suddenly I wanted to phone them. Tell them what their daughter had done to my family. I wanted to write them a letter; I wanted to ruin her life, as she has ruined mine. I opened my desk drawer and started to rifle through the papers and books and mess. A folder, that is what I wanted a folder labelled ‘AU PAIRS’ it must be in here.

I found it; this had the applications for all the au pairs who had come to live with us over the years.  The applications would arrive by email but I always printed them out if I hired them, to have their contact details at hand in the event of an emergency.

There is was: Caterina Elia at the top. Her address, her email and phone numbers. Parent’s names, a personal statement: ‘trustworthy, good with children, hard working, honest, reliable.’ Simmering with anger I threw the application back in the drawer and slammed it shut. I understood the words ‘crime of passion’ for the first time in my life. I wanted to kill her. And if she had been there, I might have tried.

I have to get out of here, I thought. I am not going to be in this house. I’m not going to cook or clean or wash clothes and do any of that stuff. If I’m miserable, I’m going to be miserable with someone else doing the housework and the cooking, and someone can wait on me for a change.

I went online and typed in ‘luxury travel’ and a long list appeared. Scott Dunn caught my eye, ‘boutique London travel experts specialising in luxury holidays.’

I know what I was thinking and right or wrong, this is how I felt at the time:

My husband has been in luxury hotels, probably eating and drinking to his heart’s content. Clearly money was no object if he was at Browns Hotel. My husband was there with our au pair, having sex with her. So I am going to do what I want, when I want and how I want. I don’t care what it costs and I don’t mind if I do.

‘Hi this is Alison at Scott Dunn, how can I help?’

‘I’d like to go on a last minute holiday, leaving as soon as possible. Tomorrow would be ideal or I guess on Friday. Just as soon as possible. Somewhere warm. For a week. Or two.’

‘Okay, well, this time of year I can recommend the Caribbean, or South East Asia or Dubai. How many will be travelling?’

‘Well it has to be family friendly, I’m taking my children. So one adult and three kids.’ SHIT, the baby doesn’t have a passport. ‘No, one adult and two kids. Preferably not somewhere with a big difference in time zone, so how many hours difference is Dubai?’

‘It’s four hours, so not bad. Let’s see, let me have a look, how about Mauritius? It is the perfect time of year to go there as it’s not too hot and the time difference is fine. BA flies once a week on a Friday, returning on a Sunday, an overnight flight both ways, so doesn’t cut into holiday time. You can sleep on the plane.’

I’d never been to Mauritius and I knew it was French but didn’t know much about it except it was quite far south in the Indian Ocean. ‘Sounds perfect’ I said.

‘Okay, I’ll check availability with our partner hotels, and let me check the flights for you and get back to you shortly. How old are the children travelling?’ she asked.

‘Three and one and go ahead and book the one year old a seat, she’ll need to sleep. Call me back, I’m really keen. Oh yea, and one more thing, book a suite, I’d like to really have a lovely room. You know with a sitting room with a sofa. Overlooking the sea if possible, with a balcony. I really need to feel like I’m on holiday.’

Nothing upset my husband quite like spending money unnecessarily. I knew what I was doing would anger him in a very particular way. And I didn’t care one little bit.

7. Pain in Paradise

Pain is just as acute in paradise, as it is in the rain.

I was sitting under a huge umbrella in the warm sunshine, with my girls in the children’s pool a few feet away. Beyond was a pristine white sandy beach with endless blue sea and sky. Hotel staff walked by bringing anything I wanted, coffee, tea, fresh squeezed juice, lobster for lunch, as much pudding as I could eat. None of it is too much effort in a five star hotel. But none of it helped. I was in agony and missing Tom so much.

It is terrible to be hurt by the person who is the one that normally you go to for comfort. All I wanted was Tom to say it was all okay. And to hug me and make the pain go away. But he was the person I wanted to kill for doing this to us.

I had left the country speaking to no one before I got on the plane. I felt embarrassed and humiliated and could not tell anyone my husband had an affair with our au pair.

Who cares what people think? Of course we shouldn’t, but we do. I do. It isn’t nice to think about what people will judge about you, your marriage and your husband. Of course our friends would be supportive and fantastic, but what about parents at school, people in our community, friends of friends, will they be whispering ‘that’s her, the one who couldn’t keep her man’ or ‘that’s him, the cheater.’ No one wants to be fodder for the middle class London dinner party and I knew we would be.

This is what was going through my mind. Even more so in paradise, with nothing to do but look out to sea and think about my husband and our former au pair.

Was she pretty? Husbands have affairs with someone who is prettier, hotter than the wife, right? The wife is a frump and has her hair in rollers. The wife doesn’t make an effort, go to the gym, wear make-up or have sex appeal. That’s how it works, right?

Well not in the case of Tiger Woods. His wife looks gorgeous. What about Christy Brinkley, her husband had an affair and she was deemed at one point during her modelling career to be in the top ten most beautiful women in the world.

Was Caterina pretty? Well I hadn’t faced that question from anyone yet but somehow I knew I would. And if I reply ‘no, she is not pretty’ who would believe me??

But she isn’t pretty. At least I never thought so, which is probably one of the reasons I laughed for so long when my husband made such a fuss over her. I used to think she looked a typical Italian, dark features and a hard face. I thought she looked sometimes masculine and her face could look like a man. Harsh, I know. But true.

Years ago when Caterina lived with us, I was entertaining a friend at home when she came into the kitchen for a drink and said hello and stayed and chatted with us for a few minutes. After she left my friend said ‘wow, she is saucy!’ Being American I had not really heard someone referred to as saucy before. But I could guess what it meant.

‘What does that mean?’ I asked.

‘Up for it’ said my friend.

If you Google saucy it says: sexually explicit. Okay, yes maybe she was saucy. She did wear very tight clothes and sometimes quite revealing clothes. And she was very thin. Really very thin I’d say, it was something I noticed when she arrived, she was a petite girl.

I’m thin myself but when Caterina moved in with us, I was 8 and a half months months pregnant and about to have baby number two. When you are a month from your due date and feel about as big as a house, you notice a size zero au pair skipping around the garden.

‘hmmmm, saucy’ I thought.

I asked Tom one night ‘do you think Caterina is attractive?’

‘Oh yeah’ he answered.

‘But she looks like a man’ I said to him ‘and she is so short’ I was pointing out.

‘She is a nice looking girl’ he said. I guess he was seeing something different than I was.

I hadn’t talked to Tom, since our conversation in the sitting room on Tuesday night. We had avoided each other for two days; he was sleeping in the guest room and he knew I wasn’t ready to see him. I’d told him we were going away and I’d left the address on a notepad in the kitchen.

Before I left town, Tom sent me flowers. A dozen long stemmed red roses. The card said ‘I’m sorry.’ I opened the box and looked at the roses in front of me and thought about the first time Tom sent me flowers. It was many years ago after our first date, we had gone out to dinner in Maida Vale and had laughed a lot and had a great time. We had a good night kiss under the lamp light at my door and it was perfect.

The next day a delivery of a dozen and a half beautiful yellow roses appeared, with a card, ‘Thank you for last night’ written on it. I still have the card. At the time I remember thinking: a dozen roses for someone you like, a dozen and a half roses for someone you REALLY like, and my tummy fluttered with excited butterflies.

Roses to court a girl, roses to be forgiven.

I put the lid back on the large box of roses and walked with them outside and got in the car. I drove to a hospice not too far from our home. I helped out every year at their summer fayre volunteering at the cake stall. I walked in and thankfully someone I recognised was at the desk.

‘Hi, my name is Lilly, I live locally and help at the summer party, I got these today and unfortunately I’m leaving for a holiday over the half term and they’ll just wilt and no one will enjoy them.’ I put the box on the reception desk.

The receptionist was smiling, not realising the flowers were the result of my husband’s infidelity. How could she know that? I had told no one.

‘Thank you so much!’ said the receptionist.

‘Would someone be able to enjoy them in their room? Or perhaps here at reception?’

‘Yes, I’m sure they will. We will find a special place for them. Thank you so much, oh look they are gorgeous’ she opened the box lid. I spotted the card and suddenly reached out.

‘The card, I’d better take that’ I said and grabbed it and folded it and put it in my pocket.

‘Thank you Lilly, these are lovely, have a nice holiday’ said the receptionist.

I was thinking about that, gazing at the beautiful flowers blooming on the bushes around the hotel when suddently my thoughts were interrupted by a lovely man ‘would you like to go water skiing Miss?’

‘Oh no thank you, I’m fine.’

His eyes looked at mine. He knows, I thought. He can see this sadness behind my eyes. He knows.

‘Tomorrow Miss, tomorrow’ and he walked towards the beach looking a bit sad himself.

Watching my healthy, happy daughters in the pool with their arm bands on, throwing toys and playing their lovely game, I was very sad. They are oblivious to what is happening to their family. I held back tears.  I was right all along, Tom was attracted to our au pair, I was right in firing her, I was right, I was right, I was right.

But on this occasion, it gave me no comfort knowing I was right.

8. The Visitor

I was on the same sun lounger, beneath a large umbrella with children’s toys and towels and swimming things strewn around. Day three of me sitting here, thinking and trying to eat something through my misery, while the children played in the kids pool happily for hours.

If I wanted to escape – this was a pretty damn good place to do it. I didn’t have to lift a finger and nothing was too much trouble for the staff to arrange in my five star paradise.

The suite I booked came with a butler, who would knock on the door a few times a day to see if there was anything he could do.

‘Madam, would you like me to run you a bath? Madam, do you need anything ironed? Madam, do you need anything laundered? Madam, have you filled out your breakfast order? Madam, is everything to your satisfaction?’

‘Yes thank you, everything is to my satisfaction’ I say politely, inside thinking ‘except for my lying, cheating, rat of a husband.’

‘No, there are no problems with my suite, thank you’ I say politely thinking, ‘the only problem in this suite is my massively broken heart.’

‘Yes, thank you everything in the resort is wonderful’ I say politely thinking, ‘except for the entire place being occupied by people on honeymoon!’

I had no idea Mauritius was such a popular destination for couples. Holding hands, kissing over bottles of champagne, gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes. I wasn’t sure how much more of it I could take. And every skinny brunette made me think of Caterina, then of Italy, then my blood would boil and I’d feel angry at the entire country and every person in it. It really was not satisfactory, not at all.

My phone rang, it was my mother in America, she had phoned twice already. I picked it up.

‘Hi Mom, this phone call will be very expensive, we’ve gone away last minute for the half term break. ’

‘Oh, we were wondering when we tried to skype you last night, how lovely honey. Where are you?’

‘In Mauritius.’

‘Mauritius? Is that in Spain?’

‘Umm, no Mom, it’s not in Spain. Mauritius is an island in the Indian Ocean. East of Madagascar.’ My 70 year old mother’s knowledge of geography clearly needed a refresh.

‘That sounds exotic. When did you get there?’

‘Umm, three days, yes, we left on Friday and arrived on Saturday morning. So it’s Monday today. It’s very beautiful and relaxing.’

‘How fabulous darling! Oh isn’t it great for Tom to take a break from work. Isn’t that fabulous.’

My mother loved Tom. She was so happy when I married him. In many ways, I felt she liked him more than me. He was solid, good with money, worked hard, had an MBA, had his own business. All the things my mother rated.

I on the other hand, didn’t follow all the rules growing up. I’m what my mother used to say a ‘free spirit’ and I’ve followed my heart and emotions and not always followed my head and done what my parents expected. I travelled half the world when I was 30. An age when my parents expected me to have a mortgage and a marriage.

Instead of being settled, which I found quite dull and I still do, I was in Nepal teaching English in a small village high in the Himalayas. And trekking around Indonesia, meeting other travellers and staying with local families. And scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef and camping in the rainforest.

I think my parents secretly loved my taste for adventure and were proud of the many things I’d done but they were delighted when I fell in love with Tom and we got engaged. They wanted nothing more than to know their youngest child would have stability and someone to look after her.

There was no way I was ready to tell my parents about Tom’s affair. I just couldn’t say Tom wasn’t with us and why. My parents had put Tom so high on a pedestal. I knew it was a very long way to fall. I couldn’t contemplate how they would take the news.

‘Well this call will cost about $20 a minute as it’s been diverted to Mauritius. Let’s hang up and I’ll skype you Sunday when I’m back in London.’

‘Have a great time darling!’ shouted my parents as I hung up.

I walked over to the children’s pool and sat down in the foot of water, watching the girls paddle in the little spray that shot out of a fountain. They saw me and screamed and came over and started climbing on me. Unconditional love, I thought to myself.

‘Excuse me madam’ came a voice from behind me.

‘I’m sorry to disturb you madam but I have something for you’ said a waiter from the bar.

I looked up to see a silver tray in his hand. I stood up and walked out of the pool.

‘What is it?’ I asked.

‘This is from a gentleman in the bar.’

On the tray was a folded piece of paper. I was confused. I picked it up and opened it.

Dear Lilly,

I’m in the bar.  I’ve come to Mauritius to tell you I love you. I couldn’t stay in London without you. I have to see you.    

Love, Tom  

OMG, my husband was in the bar?!? I was in shock. Tom had come to Mauritius??

My heart skipped a beat and my stomach did a somersault.

9. That’s Amore

When someone you love does something bad, you don’t stop loving them. This was precisely the position I found myself in, as I walked to the bar to see my husband. In my heart, I had already forgiven him for his affair. I couldn’t help it. I loved him.

I was wounded, I was very angry and of course in my head I hadn’t forgiven him completely for the awful terrible things he’d done. But I was a woman in love and at that moment, I couldn’t have been happier to find out he had just flown 6,000 miles to see me, because he loved me too.

I walked into the bar and there was Tom, pale and sweating in the heat, in a long sleeved shirt and long trousers, but looking beautiful to me. I walked over straight into his open arms, I couldn’t help it. We hugged and then kissed. And hugged more. And kissed more. After days of silence and pain, it was such a relief to be with him.

In my husbands arms was my place of comfort. I was happy to be in them and could have cried with relief.

‘You are here, I can’t believe it’ I said.

‘I had to come’ he replied.

‘I am so happy you did!’

‘Me too’ he kissed me.

‘But how did you get here and what about the baby?’ I asked. Tom was supposed to be looking after our son in London who didn’t have a passport.

‘I had to get three flights but I would have walked. Fiona and my Ma are looking after the baby, he is fine.’ He grabbed me and hugged me a long time, ‘I want to make a new start and I had to come, I’ve been an idiot and I love you so much.’

‘I know you do’ I replied.

‘Please tell me you forgive me. Please tell me we’ll be okay?’ he asked.

‘Yes, well, um…I’m very angry Tom, I mean, what you’ve done….but, well…I love you too.’ I said, ‘I love you so much.’ I couldn’t use the word forgive, if I said that, I couldn’t take it back. Forgiving means everything is okay and everything was not okay. I was angry. But I love Tom and in my heart that was the overwhelming emotion. Definately stronger than my anger, in that bar, at that moment.

He hugged me a long time and then Tom took my hand and led me through the hotel lobby.

‘Should I get a room, or should I?  Can I…..ummm, stay with you and the girls?’ he asked tentatively.

‘Stay with us, don’t get a room, of course not, I want you with me’ I smiled and I was happy.

We got into the lift and started to kiss passionately. I missed him. Moments after we stepped into the suite we had each other’s clothes off. I wasn’t thinking about his lying or affair, I was thinking about how much I love my husband and missed him.

Like other couples that might experience separation and reunion or who break-up temporarily, we had very good, happy and satisfying we-are-back-together sex. I looked at my husband in a different way at that moment. Tom has always been someone who has lived life by the rules and on the good and dutiful path and looking at him, I felt a strange excitement. Not in a good way, not in a bad way, just in that ‘who ARE you?’ way. I didn’t know Tom like I thought I did.

During my four year marriage, maybe I found my husband boring sometimes compared to me. I did have a wild side. And I guess, Tom does too. I wasn’t angry, I didn’t think of Caterina, I was thinking that my husband has a wild side. Like me. Yes, we have problems, some big problems, but we can work them out. I know we can. We love each other.

Tom settled into our suite and unpacked and put on summer clothes and we went to the pool to collect our daughters from the morning session at the kids club. We held hands and stopped to kiss along the way and it was nice.

That afternoon we all played on the beach together, running and digging in the sand, playing in the light surf in the crystal clear warm sea. We had lunch on the terrace overlooking the palm trees and drank wine and laughed watching our children.

In the evening we hired a babysitter and walked in the moonlight to the outdoor restaurant, it felt like a second honeymoon, I have never enjoyed my husband’s company more, we laughed, we talked and we danced and we kissed. There was no mention of Tom’s affair and I didn’t even think of it once.

I was joyful and I felt a relief like I had never known in any relationship. I felt so relieved that somehow; my marriage and life were saved. Of course I was naive and I couldn’t contemplate yet that I wouldn’t feel like this all the time. I was only thinking that I had somehow, some way, through my pain and anger, forgiven Tom and that he loved me and that was enough.

Our smaller family of four stayed together in our suite and had breakfast in bed the next morning. The girls playing happily with toys on the floor while we read the newspapers in plush dressing gowns, enjoying a lovely fresh breakfast. I wandered on the balcony after breakfast looking out to sea and felt content.

It wasn’t until late afternoon on the second day that something crept up and bothered me. It was silly and minor and I never would have given it another thought in normal circumstances. But these were not normal circumstances. My husband had admitted to me only eight days earlier that he had an affair with our au pair. It was fresh and it was raw and I was hurt.

Sitting by the swimming pool an attractive woman in a bikini walked by and Tom looked at her. That was it. He looked at her and that was enough. I didn’t say anything but I suddenly felt a simmering anger in me.

I suddenly thought ‘Oh my god, he is checking her out.’ And I looked at her and suddenly thought ‘is she thinner than me, prettier than me, bigger boobs than me’ and I felt such a sinking feeling in my heart. I knew that I had lost something important. I’d lost something essential to my relationship with Tom. I’d lost my belief that my husband thought I was the most beautiful woman in the world. In his world.

‘I’m going for a walk’ I declared icily and got up grabbing my sunglasses and sarong.

‘I’ll come with you, lovely idea, let me get the girls’ and he sat up.

‘No, I want to go alone.’

‘Oh. Okay. Are you alright my love?’

‘Yes, bye then’ I walked off.

I had questions, I suddenly could think of nothing else.

What was it like to sleep with Caterina? Was it better than me? Worse than me? What did they do? Where did they do it? What did they eat and what did they drink? Did he buy her things? Did they talk about me? And if it was three times, how could that have worked when she lived in Italy? Did she fly to London? Who paid for that?

It was an intense curiosity that I couldn’t control. I have to know the answers. I need to know the how, why, where and when. Maybe other people don’t feel curious, but I did. I have two options. First is that I can push this out of my head and never think of it or speak of it again. Second, I have to discuss it with Tom.

I was never going to go for option one. It was not my character.

I’ve never swept a single thing under the carpet in my entire life and my parents and brothers and sisters still get upset with me when I bring up things we need to discuss. My mother’s famous last words ‘can’t we just leave it alone and forget about that.’ No! I can’t leave it alone. Not until I work through it, which means I must talk about it and feel it.

Heading back to the hotel I had my plan in my mind, I would speak with Tom at dinner. We had planned to have dinner on the balcony of our suite this evening, after we’d tucked our girls to bed. I thought that would be an ideal time, as it was the two of us in private and I could ask him some of these things.

I wouldn’t be angry, I’d ask calmly and we would be fine, I reassured myself.

‘You were gone a long time, is everything okay?’ asked Tom who was out on the beach with the kids waiting for me.

‘Hmmmm, it’s lovely here’ I murmured, not looking him in the eye, ‘I’m going to get up early and go for a run around that cove tomorrow morning’ I pointed out to the rocks in the distance.

‘Shall we go get the girls bathed and fed, it’s almost 5 o’clock’ said Tom.

‘Yes, okay’ and we walked back to our suite to settle our children to bed and have dinner. I was quiet and thinking of my questions I needed answering. And our second honeymoon was to be very short lived.

10. Fool Me Twice

Tom and I sat on the balcony of our suite in Mauritius having finished dinner. We were drinking the rest of the wine and I could hear the sound of a steel band playing in the distance. I didn’t want to spoil the mood but there was nagging inside me and I had to address it.

‘Tom, we haven’t talked about Caterina,’ I broke the silence.

‘What? Well we don’t have to, it’s behind us.’

‘It’s not that simple Tom. I want to talk about it.’

‘Lilly, no, I’d rather not talk about it. It meant nothing. Let’s put it behind us. I love YOU!’ he emphasised reaching for my hand.

‘I’m sorry, but it isn’t that simple. I need to talk about it. Let’s just talk honey, please.’

‘Well I don’t want to talk about it.’

‘Well I DOOO! It is hard for me Tom, are you thinking about how I must be feeling?’

‘It’s hard for me Lilly, are you thinking about how I must be feeling? The guilt I’ve been carrying around. Come on! Think about me and try to understand – I feel awful. I haven’t been able to do anything at home. I haven’t been able to work. I can’t eat. I’ve lost weight.’

‘So YOU are feeling bad, wow, I’m sorry Tom. Poor you!’ I said sarcastically.

‘Why are you doing this Lilly? Why? We are having a brilliant time. Let’s keep having a brilliant time. It’s much better now that you know, so let’s move on.’

‘What?? Well, I’m angry now! Because you are telling me it is hard for you. And it’s better now that I know. Better for who Tom? I want to know why you did this and if something needs fixing with us, we can fix it. I can’t understand how you could lie like that to me, over and over. I want to know when you saw her!’

‘Lilly, nothing needs fixing with us, okay. I was an idiot. It happened, it meant nothing. That’s it.’

‘That’s not just it Tom! Seriously, you say it meant nothing but it must have meant something to you! And I want to know how it happened. And where and what you did with her, that stuff, I need to know that.’

‘For Christ sakes Lilly, I don’t want to discuss it! We have had a great few days! Why do you have to spoil it? And bring things up that don’t need bringing up?’

‘Oh, so it’s my fault! You slept with our au pair, now it’s MY fault because I don’t want to bury my head in the sand and pretend it didn’t happen! We can’t do that. I can’t do that. We have to talk about why this happened. Why? And we need to make sure it doesn’t happen again!’

‘Well it won’t happen again, I can tell you that, it won’t! Ever! I’m not going through this again, too stressful!’

Tom grabbed the wine bottle from the ice bucket and filled his glass to the brim and took a big swig and set his glass down loudly. He was looking at me with angry eyes. He was angry because I wasn’t going to let him get his way. Often I did let him get his way; that did make life easier.

Tom continued ‘I’m not doing this Lilly, I’m not analysing this situation. Like you want to. Always wanting to analyse everything. It happened and I am going to forget it and move on.’

‘So I can’t talk about this, because you have DECIDED to move on. Just like that, you have decided? Great that you just decide things without talking to me!’

‘Well you decided to go on this fucking expensive holiday without discussing it with me Lilly, you have blown a huge amount of money. Money that we need for really important things. And you’ve blown it, just like that, because you’re a bit angry!’

‘A BIT ANGRY!?! A BIT ANGRY!? Yes, you could say that I’m a bit angry Tom. You have slept with another woman. What about our marriage vows? What about our children? I’m more than just a BIT angry.’

I stood up, grabbed my wine glass and guzzled the rest of the wine in it, slamming the glass down on the table. I marched inside and went over to the mini-bar, opened the fridge and grabbed several miniatures of gin and vodka and took them outside to the table and loudly dropped them on the table by my plate. I went back to the mini bar and grabbed several bottles of juice, not caring what kind and dropped those by the gin and vodka.

Sitting back down, I opened the vodka and poured the entire contents into my wine glass. I opened an orange juice and poured half in with the vodka. I dipped my hand in the ice bucket and grabbed a few ice cubes, threw them in the glass with a clunk and then drank half the cocktail down.

‘Oh brilliant Lilly, just brilliant, now you’re going to get hammered. Well that’s mature.’

‘Sleeping with our au pair who is half your age, well that’s mature!’ I snapped back.

I took another long sip and opened up another bottle of spirits and poured half of that on top of my drink. I took another long sip and loudly put my glass on the table. I picked up the empty gin miniature and held it up to Tom.

‘I guess you don’t want me drinking these huh?? Because they are too EXPENSIVE!’ I shouted.

‘God Lilly, keep your voice down the kids are asleep. Calm down.’

Tom was looking over the balcony at a couple strolling back to their room below us in the gardens. I knew he cared if someone heard. I didn’t. I picked up my drink and another miniature of spirits and walked into the suite. Tom followed me.

‘I want to know, tell me, what was it like sleeping with her?! What was she like?? Was she like me?!’

‘Of course not, it wasn’t anything like sleeping with you Lilly, I love you. I don’t love her. Entirely different.’

‘Oh so it was just sex then, just sex. No strings attached. Nice. Classy.’ I said.

‘This conversation is over!’ insisted my husband and he walked over to the desk and picked up his phone and came back and sat on the sofa looking at it intently. He was trying to send a signal to me, a signal of ‘I’m done talking’ and he stared at his phone and he was silent. I started to pace back and forth in front of him, feeling like an erupting volcano. I was angry and was starting to feel the effects of the booze.

‘I might just divorce you’ I suddenly blurted out threatening ‘I probably might just do that Tom. You don’t seem to understand how upset I am. I want you to tell me about what you did.’

Tom put his phone down in front of him on the coffee table and looked at me bemused. ‘Oh really Lilly, you might divorce me, really? With three young children and the lifestyle we have, you are going to throw that away? I don’t think so. I think you’re drunk!’

He was mocking me. And he looked like he was rolling his eyes.

‘When was the last time you talked to her? I demanded.

‘I don’t know. A long time.’

‘When?? I want to know whennn?’ I slurred.

‘Lilly, I am not going to be able to remember that but it has been like a year. Over a year.’

Over a year I thought. Really, over a year? That email had said ‘shall we speak’ and I suddenly felt my heart beating through me. He is lying!  I looked down at his phone he had set on the table and I walked over and picked it up.

‘So Tom, I guess then if it’s been about a year, I won’t find Caterina on your phone??’ I said, glaring angrily at him and holding his phone up.

‘Give me that!!’ he shouted and stood up looking angry.

‘No!! I am NOT giving it to you. Is she on this phone?!?’

Tom took a step towards me. I stepped backwards.

‘Tom, do NOT get any closer to me! I swear, I with throw this phone right out that balcony door and as far as I can throw it, if you come any closer,’ I took a step towards the balcony and motioned towards the wide open balcony door with my arm holding the phone. I was much closer to it than he was and I could see that he didn’t doubt me.

‘Lilly, right, don’t do that!’ he sat down.

‘Tell meeee!! Is her number on this phone!?!’

‘No, she is not on my phone, NO!!’

He looked wide eyed at me. And it was happening again. I could see the lie coming out between his teeth and the sweat on his forehead. I just knew, I just knew.

‘God damn you Tom, go to hell. I’m going to throw this phone, right now,’ and I darted onto the balcony, holding the phone over the railing.

‘Lilly, come inside.’ Tom hissed.

‘Tell me the truth, RIGHT NOW!’ I screamed.

‘Okay, okay, calm down Lilly, okay, calm down. I’ll tell you. Right, yes, ummm, yes, her number is on that phone. Only because I spoke with her. I had to tell her, that ah, you had found out. So yes, it is on there. I didn’t want to tell you because I knew you’d get upset.’

‘UPSET, you didn’t tell me because…where??’ I looked at the contacts, ‘where is her number??’ I was scrolling through the contacts.

‘It’s ummm, well it’s under Edward. It’s under Edward C.’

I looked and sure enough, there was the name Edward C. I couldn’t believe it. He had hidden Caterina under this bogus name!

With intense anger bubbling inside me, I walked quickly and calmly across the suite and into the bathroom before Tom could stop me. I slammed the door closed, and locked it. I heard Tom’s footsteps across the suite, outside the door, he was shouting.

‘Lilly, what are you doing?? Open the door, open this!’ And he was knocking. I ignored him. I walked over and sat on the edge of the bath, looking at the name and number, Edward C. It had a mobile number I didn’t know, but the familiar country code of Italy before it.

I had no plan of what I would say but I wanted to call her, so I pushed the call button and waited. It took awhile and I heard several rings, before the voice of our former au pair answered with a cheerful ‘Pronto Tom.’

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