Jealousy can make people do terrible things and the cost can be very high. This is one such case.
Edited with comments by LadyCibelle
I looked at myself in the mirror, rubbed a little blush into my cheeks and took a brush to my hair for one last touch. I sighed, backed away and put on the short black dress I bought this week. It was perfect, not too short and not too long. I still had good legs and I loved to show them off. Bill always made comments about them and I guess he convinced me how good they were. I slipped on my heels, snapped the back straps and stood up. A touch of perfume, a last touch of the dark red lipstick and I was ready.
"Ok Wendy, are you ready for this? You still look good girl." I was talking to my reflection in the mirror, trying to convince myself that I was ready for this. I'd been on a few dates and I had to admit that they were pretty much disasters. Maybe this one would be better.
I walked down the stairs and into the family room where Jase and Jenny were playing. They were my twelve year old twins and the love of my life. I adored these two, and I let them know that as often as I could. I stood there, watching them play their new video game, the one their father bought them just last week. Rachael Maier, our next door neighbor who was watching them tonight while I was out, was already there and absorbed in the game as well. She was older, almost eighteen, and had been our babysitter for the past four years.
"OK kids. I'm ready to go. Now can you be sure to finish your homework before you go to bed? Jase, you have that test in math tomorrow and Jenny, you have an English quiz coming up."
They turned to look at me and, as usual, I saw the disapproval on Jase's face. I didn't want to start so I turned to Rachael and said, "Be sure you check their work to be sure it's done, OK?"
"No problem Mrs. Stridell. They always do their homework for me. Don't you, guys?"
Jase turned away, not answering. I knew he was angry at me but I couldn't give in to him. Jenny smiled and told me how nice I looked. She wasn't pleased with me either but she was never as obvious as Jase. The three of them turned back to the game so I walked out and into the hall. I got my jacket and laid it over the banister, ready when James came to pick me up.
I walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table, less then anxious to go out tonight but I had to get myself back into the dating game. It was really hard and so different now. It had been almost fifteen years since I had gone out on a date. After all, I had been married for thirteen of those years and dating my ex-husband for the two before that. My divorce was final six months ago and this was only the third time I had accepted a date. Tonight was with James Conklin, a co-worker of mine at the bank where I worked as a teller and a reasonably good-looking guy. He had been asking me out for over a month and I finally accepted. I liked him, but that was all. He was just a friend as far as I was concerned but I knew he wanted more. I told myself for the tenth time that maybe this was a bad idea.
Maybe if things had been different, I would be engaged and probably married by now to Brad Eisley. Brad and Bill worked together and used to be friends. They both worked for Lever, Kline and Patron, Inc., a company that specialized in handling corporate takeovers and consolidations. They were investigators who delved into corporate finances and determined what obligations and debts they had and the value of their assets. It wasn't until later that I learned they were always in competition for the top spot in the company. Bill had the edge, or so most of his contemporaries said. Brad was good but not as good as Bill.
In spite of their competition, Brad was at our house often for parties, barbecues and the like. I knew Bill didn't like him all that much but I had no such problems with Brad. I knew he was single, with an ex-wife who he never spoke of and no children of his own. He was friendly, always ready to lend me a hand and always complimented me on my appearance, the way I threw a party, just very observant. Bill did confront me after one particular party where Brad spent the entire evening standing next to me. I was surprised at Bill's attitude and when he suggested Brad was after something that didn't belong to him, I got angry and defended him. We didn't talk for days after that one.
Brad had been our friend for almost three years before it all blew up. That's when I found out how good a friend he was. After all, he was the one that had my best interests at heart and the one that made me aware of my husbands philandering. He was there for me when he brought those pictures of Bill and that blonde bitch he was having the affair with. I didn't know her name; I never bothered to find out. Brad had pictures and dates and the whole affair documented. He produced a Private Investigator's report which he paid for out of his own pocket. The whole thing was there in black and white. He admitted he did it because he had always been fond of me and was so upset when he found out about Bill that he didn't want me to be hurt any worse than I would be if it went on longer.
When I confronted Bill, he blew his stack and screamed at me. He wanted to know who gave me those pictures and that report but I wouldn't tell him. There was no reason to point to Brad; it would only make him more defensive. He denied the whole thing, telling me he had never been unfaithful to me or our marriage, but he couldn't answer the questions I had for him. I asked him why, who she was, when he did it and why he chose to cheat on me. He wouldn't answer me, saying none of it was true. When I showed him the pictures, he took them, glared at them with anger and threw them on the floor, telling me that none of that ever happened. I had the proof and he still denied it!
I got so angry at him that when Brad convinced me to take out a restraining order on him and make him move out of the house, I did. Bill was very hurt and angry when the police served it on him. He continued to deny everything right up until the time I filed for divorce. He vowed to fight it every step of the way but I enforced the restraining order to keep him away from me and out of the house and I got a good attorney. She was the best at divorce and she said we had an open and shut case.
The only thing I wouldn't do was refuse to let Bill see the twins. After all, he was their father and they wouldn't understand why I wanted to make him stay away. They complained when he didn't come home but I tried to explain that he couldn't live there any more. They took it hard but I told them he would see them as often as he could. I let him know through my lawyer that I wanted him to spend time with them and he agreed. I just wanted notice so I could be gone when he came to pick them up.
During this time, Brad was always available to go places with me, to help me with my filings and meetings with the attorney, pick up and drop off the twins when I couldn't. He was by my side through it all. I was becoming quite fond of him and I knew he returned the feelings. We did go out a couple of times but we just parted at the door. That was until the court ruled on the divorce and our separation became official. The next time Brad and I went out, I asked him to stay. The twins were with Bill for the weekend and Brad slept over Saturday night.
We made love that first night and I have to admit it wasn't all that good. I think it was because I was still married at the time and I was nervous and a little guilty. After all, I hadn't been with any man other than my husband for almost fifteen years. Long before we were married and then all during our marriage. One of the things I didn't like was that Brad was very demanding. I just wanted to cuddle and make gentle love but he was insistent. He wanted me to suck him, something I did for Bill but only because he enjoyed it: I certainly didn't. And Brad wanted to do things like anal which I just refused to do.
But, I was fond of Brad and felt it would be get better as we got to know each other. After that, it did improve but it never was as good as it was with Bill. And Brad was always frustrated with me because of my reluctance to do those things he wanted. But it became a pattern: Bill took the kids on alternate weekends and Brad would sleep over. That continued until one Sunday morning Bill came back with the twins to grab an extra pair of shoes for a trip he planned.
Bill stayed outside as the twins came running up the stairs to get their things. I heard them and came out of my bedroom to ask what they were doing. As I spoke with them, Brad came out of the room wearing his robe and the twins saw him. I saw the shock and anger on Jase's face and the tear that started in Jennie's eyes. I was about to say something when Jase ran down the stairs, his sister following. They went out the door, slamming it behind them. I had no choice but to let them go.
When Bill brought the twins home that Sunday night, he came in with them, something he hadn't done since I filed the restraining order. He waited until the twins ran upstairs and then looked at me with the coldest, angriest look I had ever seen on his face.
"I don't want that son of a bitch in this house again until we are divorced! I had two frightened and devastated kids on my hands this weekend because they saw that bastard in your bedroom. Have you no shame? Don't you know what it says to our children that you are fucking another man while you are still married to me? You accused me of doing the same thing, even though I was innocent but I think now that I understand: you were cheating on me with Brad for some time and made up that shit about me just so you could divorce me.
"Well, that was bullshit, and you know it, but this will stop right now or I will go to the court and ask for full custody on the basis of your slutty behavior. Make your choice now, you tramp!"
With that, he turned and walked quickly out the door, slamming it behind him. I stood there in total shock. What the hell was he talking about? Making it up? Me, cheating with Brad as a reason for filing for divorce? He was crazy! Disturbed at the threat of losing me and his kids! Of course, that was what it was! Now I understood. But he was too angry to push now. I had to cool it with Brad, at least in my home. We could meet at his place, or go to a motel. I could do that. Actually, I could even do without Brad until after the divorce. He was the one that enjoyed the sex, more so than I did.
As I said, things would have been so much simpler if Brad had lived. But just three days before my divorce was final, Brad was killed in a traffic accident. The cops told me it was a two vehicle crash, meaning Brad was in his car and there was one other car involved but that driver was never found. The cops say he was probably struck by the other car or truck, lost control, skidded off the road and into a tree. He was killed instantly, or so they said. I wondered later why he had been on that road at that time. He was supposed to be with me, to help me in my time of sorrow over my upcoming divorce. He promised me he would be there, so why was he somewhere else?
I was very sad when they notified me of his death. Sad, but strangely, that was all. I wasn't sure why they contacted me but apparently he had something in his car that mentioned me. I was very fond of Brad and I thought we might have had a future together, but I was surprised by my ability to get over him so quickly. Maybe he was just a good friend when I needed one and nothing more? Now, I'll never know for sure.
The divorce was very hard on me; the funeral was scheduled for the same day as my divorce, and Brad had planned on being there with me. Now, I had no choice but to go to the funeral alone. I was surprised at the lack of people there. I was one of only a very few and most of them people I had never met. It was a simple and quick affair. A few words and then it was over.
Since I knew no one there, I left immediately and went on to the divorce. Bill was there with his attorney and he was sitting across from me, looking at the wall behind me. I could see he was still angry and I was still surprised. After what he did, why would he be angry at me? It made no sense. But he chose to agree to the divorce when Brad threatened to post some of the pictures on the internet for the world to see. Brad told me Bill agreed rather than have those pictures out. Bill never told me anything about that meeting so I had only Brad's word.
As I took my seat, Bill finally looked at me. I was shocked at the look in his eyes. They were as cold and angry as I had ever seen. I wanted to say something to him; something that would make him see that this was all his fault, but I couldn't think of anything more to say other than what I said to him when I confronted him. He refused to admit his guilt then so now would be no different. I shook my head and looked away, not feeling comfortable with that look.
Bill continued to stare at me until he said very quietly, "Are you still convinced I cheated on you? You believe I could do something like that to you and my kids? I will say it one more time: I never cheated on you. Never!"
I looked into those eyes that were so cold and answered him the only way I could. "I have the proof and you still won't admit it! So long as you chose to lie to me and not admit what you did, we have no marriage."
I had been very sure of myself when Brad was there to support me but seeing the look in his eyes and the sound of his voice, my confidence was shaken. What if. . . . . .?
"Then we have no marriage!" Bill looked away and the anger on his face was so intense it scared me. But I was safe here in this room. Actually, if truth be told, I knew I was safe anyway. Bill would never hit me. The man he was couldn't do that.
The meeting went very quickly and the attorneys gave us the final paperwork to sign. I was to keep the house, half of all assets, child support from Bill in the amount of $500 per month, and alimony of $50 per month. Since I was working and made sufficient money to support myself, the alimony amount was a compromise: Bill wanted to refuse to pay anything to me, claiming that I had created a false set of documents to force the divorce. He claimed that Brad and I were lovers and working in collusion to blame him for an affair that never happened. The judge denied his suit when she read the private investigator's report and viewed some of the pictures.
I have to admit that I still don't understand Bill's claim that Brad and I were lovers. I never even dated Brad until after I filed for divorce and I only slept with him once our separation was official and our marriage had been ruled over. That happened after Bill's suit had been denied. So where he came up with those accusations was beyond me. Not like my claim, based on real evidence. I know Bill still believes what he said in that counter suit. I never tried to correct him. It would have been a waste of time.
I was interrupted by the doorbell. I got up, walked into the foyer to see that Rachael had already opened the door. James was standing inside, dressed very nicely in a dark suit and a beautiful blue striped tie. He was a nice looking man, and always made a nice impression. My twins had not come out of the room, as usual. They disapproved of my dating. They always asked why daddy wasn't the one I was going out with. I always answered the same way: Daddy and I are divorced and no longer together. They never accepted it.
"OK, goodnight kids! I won't be late! Be good and do your homework!" I grabbed my jacket, handed it to James to assist me and shrugged into it. I went out to his car, James following.
James took me to dinner at a very nice restaurant, where we ate and talked about our lives. James was divorced like me and he had a daughter at home that he adored. He visited her as often as he could. I looked at pictures of him and her and one of all three of them. His wife was a very beautiful woman. I asked him what the cause of the divorce was in his case and he said he didn't want to talk about it so I never mentioned it again.
After dinner we went to a small lounge where there was dancing and music and plenty of drinks. I loved dancing and enjoyed James's ability. He was a wonderful dancer, but I noticed that after a few drinks and some slow dances, he was trying to pull me against his obvious erection. I resisted until he finally stopped.
"What's the problem Wendy? I know you've been without Bill for quite a while now, and you must want the same thing I want. So, why not? We're both divorced, lonely, and need some real loving. I won't disappoint you."
With that James ran his hand down my back and over the rise of my buttocks. He pulled my body tight against him trying to arouse me. I stepped on his toe, making him back off and then moved away and back to our table. I was angry, embarrassed and frustrated. I enjoyed the feel of him against me but it was not the same. Bill used to do the same thing when we danced, but he was smoother and more playful about it. He knew I loved dancing and wouldn't even suggest anything like that until we were ready to go home. What was wrong with James?
James followed me back to the table, looking angry as well. "What the hell was that all about? I was just trying to let you know that I find you very attractive and I would love to make love to you. Isn't that what you want too?"
"No! This was supposed to be a friendly date, nothing more. I never gave you any other impression. I never told you, or even suggested to you that I wanted sex! Damn you! I want to go home. Now!"
James argued, tried to convince me he would behave but I just wanted to go home. Damn it all anyway! Why did I end up comparing guys to Bill? I always did it and I never intended to, but they just weren't the same as him. He did everything right! He always knew what I wanted and what would make me happy.
As James drove me home, silent in his frustration, I continued to think of what was wrong. I knew what it was and that made it even worse. I still loved my husband Bill regardless of what he did to me and our children. He was perfect in so many ways for me. He knew me, he took care of me and he always knew how to make me happy. Why did he do it? Why did he cheat on me with that woman? I didn't even know her name or where she came from. Brad knew, he took care of all of the details during the divorce. He gave the lawyer all the information and Bill continued to deny it over and over. He even begged me to listen to him, to believe him when he denied it. But I saw those pictures! The ones that broke my heart. I saw him on top of her, taking her from behind as I loved. I saw her giving him oral and him returning the favor. I would never let him do that for me even though he said he would be glad to. He even said he would probably enjoy it but I couldn't get over the fear he would be repulsed. Early teaching from mom I guess.
As James pulled into the driveway, I opened the door telling him there was no need to walk me to the door. I was still angry and frustrated and I wanted nothing more than to get into the house. I was so intent, I didn't even notice Bill's car in the driveway. I guess after thirteen years of something it just fit and didn't even alert me. I walked rapidly up the walk and opened the front door, letting myself in. James had already backed out and I heard the angry sound of his tires as he drove away.
I took off my coat, hung it in the hall closet and walked into the family room where I expected to see my twins and Rachael playing as usual. What I found was Bill, with both kids wrapped around him as they played on the floor. Rachael was sitting on the couch laughing out loud as they tried to get the game controller from him. I was struck by the joy on their faces and their happy laughter, matched by the smile on his, and I couldn't help but smile as I watched them, unable to move or speak, overcome with the pleasure it gave me.