After The Fact Ch. 03byS-Des©
Author's Note: Please don't read this chapter without taking a look at the first two. It is a conclusion to the previous chapter and will be a more interesting when treated that way.
One last thank you to Josephus and my volunteer editor Angel Love for all their help and hard work. It made writing this a lot of fun. Hopefully the hard work will pay off, but if not, criticisms are always welcome. I'm certainly no professional writer (I'm barely an amateur one), so it helps to get feedback in case I do another one of these someday.
John found out his wife had cheated on him about six months earlier. He threw her out, then decided to find out why it happened. He discovered a tape made the night of her infidelity. Watching the tape, he was devastated by the things he saw her do.
When I picked Dani up the next morning, Sharon seemed concerned. "John, are you OK?"
I didn't want to talk about it, so I just told her things were complicated. When she tried to push me about it, I reminded her that what she had said about not wanting to be in the middle of things. She reluctantly let it go.
That afternoon, I dropped Dani off with the sitter and reluctantly headed to our session. When I got there, I saw that Jenny had already arrived. As I walked into Bryan's office I heard them talking amiably. They rose to greet me, but Jenny sank back to the couch when she saw my expression.
Bryan looked at me sadly. "John, is there something wrong?"
I tried to be honest. "No, I'm just having a rough day. I think it would be better for us just to get started."
The session was a disaster. Bryan knew what was wrong, but didn't want to push it. Jenny didn't know, but was uncomfortable with my obvious attitude. I was miserable because I wanted to stand up and scream, but knew it would have made everything worse. There was something else bothering me, but I couldn't deal with it right now, so I shoved it to the back of my mind.
At the end of the session, Jenny left. I said goodbye, but stayed to apologize to Bryan for being in such a bad mood. He didn't give me the chance.
"You watched the tape."
All I could manage was, "Yes."
"Was it as bad as you feared?"
"Bryan, it was worse. I don't know what to do. I tried to stay quiet so I wouldn't say something I'd regret, but I just wanted to tell her how angry I was and how much she had hurt me. I can't believe how slu...er...how she was acting."
Bryan studied me for a little bit. "I had hoped you would let it go, but I can see why the urge to know what happened would be overwhelming. Was David telling the truth?"
I sighed, "That's the worst part, he was. She was drunk, her best friend tricked her and she was seduced by three people working together. But she gave in to it and enjoyed herself... a lot. I wanted to be outraged at the way they used her, I really did. She said no several times and said she didn't want to let anything happen that would hurt me. Once she gave in, everything changed. It looked like a first class porno by the time I decided I couldn't take anymore and smashed the tape."
"John, the only thing I can advise is that you need to sit down with her and tell her about it. She's going to be humiliated that such a tape exists and hurt that you watched it. You need to be gentle with her because she is very fragile right now. If it takes you a week to be sure you can talk to her without anger, take the time. You'll need to talk about it by yourselves because I don't want her put in a position where she feels like she's being ambushed here. Once you talk about it, I'll help any way I can. Please call me if you need to talk again."
I left wondering if everything had finally gotten as bad as it was going to.
Saturday I decided it was finally time to talk to her. I was still afraid I might blow up, but at least I calmed down enough to give it a shot. I wasn't sleeping at night with those images in my head, so wanted to get this over. Leaving Danielle with Steve and Sharon again, I went to pick up Jenny.
I had called earlier and told her I had something serious to talk to her about. I didn't want to ambush her, but I also didn't want to scare her. I asked if she'd like to go to the park where we often took Danielle. It didn't have a lot of traffic usually, so we should be able to have some privacy.
I thought about telling her from the beginning about David and the tape, but decided it was too much. It might be so upsetting for her that we wouldn't be able to talk at all. Considering the mood I was in, I knew there was a very real possibility that this could turn ugly, so I swore to myself I'd be cool. I wanted to settle as much as I could. I couldn't allow myself to be selfish no matter how mad I got; Danielle had improved remarkably in the two weeks since I let her start seeing Jenny again.
"Jenny, I think I'm ready to hear your side of things if you still want to tell me. I know you've been living with this for seven months and it has to have been hard for you. I can't promise I won't be upset, but I'll try my best to let you explain. I just am asking you to be totally honest. Don't pull any punches, the worst thing right now would be to find out you lied to me about something, OK?"
She nodded and took a second to collect her thoughts. With a sigh, she began. "For the last two months before the trip, things weren't working very well between us. I know you tried, I did too, but I was really worried. I was spending more time with Megan and she was saying things that made it worse. I didn't see it at the time, but I think she was trying to upset me on purpose. She never said anything directly against you, but it was enough to feed my insecurities. She would say things about having friends with problems similar to ours who eventually wound up divorced. I would tell her that we wouldn't end up like that, but I think some part of me was afraid."
"I swear that I kept trying my best to make things better, but it was hard. I was scared that it wasn't going to get better and I couldn't bear the thought of losing you. I think I got defensive because every time I tried something, it didn't seem to work. I missed being close to you so much that I let some of her stories get to me."
She took a deep breath before continuing. "Just before we went to New Orleans, she kept telling me how good it would be for our marriage with us being apart for a few days. She would say I should have fun so I could relax and let things get better naturally when I got back home. We went to the Hotel bar Thursday night and danced for hours. After doing some things Friday afternoon with Angie (the bride), we went to a different bar. We met two guys there."
She stopped talking, beginning to weep softly. I took her hand and asked her to please keep going.
"We all danced together for about an hour, then Megan and I went to the bathroom. She told me how hot she was for the guys and begged me to help her get them to our room so she could have a threesome. She said it would be good for my ego to flirt with another man, especially knowing that I wasn't going to do anything wrong. Because Megan was the one they'd be sleeping with, I wouldn't have to feel guilty."
She looked up at me with tears streaking down her face. "I was so stupid, I'm sorry. I was a little drunk and didn't think about what could happen. I didn't think about how you'd feel about me flirting, even if it was just to help her." She looked at her hands as she furiously rubbed them together in her lap.
"We stayed at the club for at least another hour. Megan asked if they'd like a nightcap and they said yes. I thought I was doing something fun for her and planned to leave before things got out of hand. I think I underestimated how drunk I already was. Things that I know I should never have done didn't seem like that big a deal. I just kept thinking about her being able to have a wild night and how much I was looking forward to coming home to you all worked up."
"Once we got back to the room, they kept giving me drinks and dancing with us. Megan came up with a stupid game that we could play. I can't believe I agreed to it, but I did. Things got out of control right after that and I cheated on you." She looked up at me again, "I would give anything to take it back. I love you and never thought I was capable of something like that. I thought I was so safe, that Megan was watching out so that nothing could happen. I never could have imagined letting myself do those things."
She stopped her story and began crying harder. I let her get it out, and then pressed her to continue. I wanted to see what lined up with David's version and what I witnessed on the tape. I was shocked that she confessed to everything without blaming anyone but herself. I didn't know if she was trying to take all the responsibility, or if she honestly didn't realize she had been set-up by her friend. She left out the sordid details and I didn't ask. She did admit to having sex with David, Jake and Megan.
When she finished, I let her have a moment to collect herself. It had to be incredibly difficult to admit those things and I really felt awkward trying to ask questions. However, there was one big one that had to be addressed.
"Jenny, if what you're telling me is the truth, why didn't you just come home Saturday?"
She looked at me with very real pain in her eyes. "There were several reasons, but you're not going to like any of them. I know I don't."
I understood her discomfort, but I had to know everything, so I asked her to continue.
"First, I felt terribly guilty for what I had done. I didn't know how to face you and thought a couple of extra days would give me time to prepare myself for how angry you would be. Second, I wasn't physically up to it. If I had traveled home, you would have known immediately that something was wrong."
She looked away and I thought I saw a flash of anger. "Third, Megan convinced me that Friday was something I caused and that it was proof that our marriage was in trouble." As she wiped away another tear, she refused to look back at me. "She said that I started everything by grabbing her hand and moving it under my skirt. Then she said I grabbed one of the guys and began kissing him. That's when everything got out of control." She paused and finally looked me in the eyes.
"I thought she was my friend and wouldn't lie to me. When I told her what I thought had happened, she said it must have been the alcohol and the blindfold making things seem more intense. She said that they were doing the same thing to me that they had done with her and everything was fine until I got out of control."
I felt my jaws clench in anger as I listened to more of Megan's manipulations. Even though it was hard to separate any of this from Jenny's actions, it was obvious that she never had a clue that Megan could treat her like that. Her friend used Jenny's trust to undermine our marriage. I hoped that I could eventually find a way to pay her back.
"She told me that she got carried away because of the things I did. I should never have believed her, but I felt like such a slut...it was easy to think that the way I remembered things was just me trying to rationalize my behavior. I would have stayed at the hotel all day so I could try to sort things out, but she begged me to come with her. She said that everyone would know something was going on if I disappeared. She told me the best way to not make anyone suspicious was to act as if nothing had happened. I was so stupid."
I began to feel myself losing objectivity. Jenny's pain was so acute that it was unbearable. I couldn't figure out how to console her without making things even more awkward, so I hoped she would take my lack of accusations as support.
Saturday night was a different problem entirely. "I just don't remember how it got started. When we got there, nobody told me what was going to happen. I had a couple drinks with Megan while Angie opened her presents and the girls laughed and joked. When the man came out and announced the entertainment, I tried to leave but I felt really weird. I sat there for a while trying to get myself together, but I just couldn't. Some of the girls were dancing on the stage away from the strippers and I remember Angie pulling me up with them."
"The next thing I remember was some woman grabbing me from behind and me telling her to knock it off. I don't know what happened after that, but I suddenly realized I was laying on the stage and Megan was...well, you saw it. When the stripper came up to me, I know I tried to say no, but it's all a blur. I guess I just gave in. I was still sick from the night before so I only had a couple of drinks, or at least thought it was just a couple. I can't explain it, but that's the truth."
If she was telling the truth about not drinking that much, I was willing to bet that Megan had something to do with it. I didn't like her story about not knowing what happened, but there wasn't any reason for her to lie that I could think of, so I accepted it. I already knew most of what happened anyway.
I asked her if she remembered what happened right after that, because she disappeared from the video. She appeared very uncomfortable and said she wasn't sure. It was the first time I sensed some evasion from her. I insisted she tell me what she knew.
She looked away from me. "Do you remember what you said to me the night you made me leave? You said that I wasn't thinking about Danielle when I was being a slut with Megan."
I cringed as I heard the words come from her. They sounded harsh and crass; even though I knew what I actually said was even worse. "Yes, I remember it."
"Well, you were wrong. Everything was foggy. It felt almost like a dream and I was really confused. I knew what I was doing, but for some reason it didn't seem real. Then I remembered a conversation with Danielle about a week before the trip. She asked me what sex was." I raised my eyebrows because I this was the first I had heard about it.
"She heard someone mention it in some movie and asked me what it was. I didn't want to say the wrong thing; we've never really talked about what to say to her. Since you weren't home, I tried to be as vague as possible. I told her that it's something two grown-ups who love each other do together. I said it's very precious and you should only do it with the person you love because you need to love each other for it to be right."
"For some reason that conversation jumped into my head in the middle of what was happening. I had a vision of her seeing me like that and me trying to explain it. It snapped me out of whatever was going on and I jerked away from the stripper. I remember Megan calling to me and saying to come back, but I just ran out the door without even getting my clothes back on. I found myself standing outside in the rain, trying to get my bra back on, but couldn't because my hands were shaking so badly."
"When I finally got myself straightened out, I realized people were staring at me. I felt so humiliated, I just ran back to the hotel. When I got there, I took a long shower, then crawled into bed. I just lay there thinking about what I had done and how you'd never be able to forgive me. I cried until I passed out."
When Jenny didn't continue right away, I asked if she was OK. I realized that I hadn't really reacted to much of what she said because I already knew what was coming. I kicked myself because I wasn't ready to talk about David and didn't want her to notice anything. After a few moments, she seemed better so I asked her what happened Sunday.
She said the next morning she woke to find the stripper next to her in bed. She didn't know how he got there or if she had sex with him and everything hit her at once. She ran to the bathroom where she threw up, then couldn't stop crying. She backed up David's story about them talking and him telling her not to say anything to me.
As she was leaving for the airport, she ran into Megan in the hotel lobby where they had a huge fight. Jenny told her to stay away, that she couldn't believe Megan had let those things happen after promising to watch out for her. Jenny had never had sex with a woman before and had no reason to think Megan was telling her anything other than the truth about what was supposed to happen.
Although she was angry with her friend, she was feeling more humiliation from her own actions. Megan said that Jenny had wanted to act like that ever since she got married and that she had done my wife a favor. It ended with Jenny storming out to her cab and Megan heading back to the room. Since Jenny took an early flight, she didn't see Megan again before leaving. Since that night, they talked on the phone a couple of times, but hadn't seen each other once.
When she finished, I didn't know what to say. I expected evasion; I thought she'd try to shift the blame, maybe a couple of white lies to make herself look better. Hell, after watching the video, I wouldn't have been surprised if she had said she hadn't consented. The one thing I hadn't counted on was her being completely forthcoming, even taking more of the blame than she deserved. It was unnerving. Her story about Saturday was disturbing, but I couldn't detect any dishonesty from her, so I let it go.
I let her cry for a long time, longing to comfort her but unable to overcome my own issues. I also wanted to tell her about the tape, but couldn't figure out how to do it without hurting her more. Knowing that David taped her being a complete slut would be awful. Finding out that I watched it would be a lot worse. I didn't see any purpose it would serve, so I decided to keep it to myself.
When I finally spoke, I was surprised by the hoarseness of my voice. "Thank you for being honest with me, I know it must have been hard." She smiled weakly at my praise. Just looking at her made me want to shake her for doing this to us. I also wanted more than anything to hold her until she stopped crying. Part of me felt horrible that she had to suffer through this. I still loved her so much it hurt. Things were so complicated; I didn't know what to do.
I took her home and then went to Steve's house. While waiting for Dani to finish playing, I went outside with him and told him everything (leaving out the specifics). He agreed that I had done the right thing by not telling her. He also remarked about how much better Danielle had seemed over the last couple of weeks. He did that a lot and I knew it was his not-so-subtle way of hinting that I shouldn't shut Jenny out of my life. I agreed that Dani had improved and told him it made things that much harder for me. When we left, I could only hope that time with my daughter could help me get it together. My time with her was the only thing keeping me sane.
After that, Jenny and I had two weeks of sessions that were much more productive. Every time Jenny would try to apologize or put herself down, Bryan would cut her off. He didn't want to hear about blame or either of us being sorry. It didn't address the real problems, which we still had looming in front of us.
My daughter had one parent and one stepparent living in different homes. She had no say in what was going on and didn't understand why the adults couldn't work it out. Jenny hadn't done anything but punish herself for weeks. She had neglected her health, her job and had basically hidden from life since the truth had come out.
I might have been the biggest mess of all. My punishment of Jenny caused me guilt, hurt my relationship with her family, devastated my daughter and caused a rift between me and my closest friends. It had gotten better since I relented and let her see Dani again, but there was still awkwardness between me and the people who I had been closest to.
The day before our fourth session together, I dropped off Dani with Jenny's mom for the night. I needed to make a decision, and then stick to it. Drawing this out wasn't doing anything but harming all of us. I went to one of the bars we used to like visiting. There was a band playing there that I had been wanting to see for some time. I sat by myself all night, unable to enjoy anything.