tagMatureThe Chinatown Affair Ch. 03

The Chinatown Affair Ch. 03

byBatteryOperated©

At Mark's insistence, he and his wife returned to Texas as soon as possible. He could no longer rely on his own dissatisfaction with Mei to reassure him that no one else would want her. He wasn't sure as to how serious the bond between she and Jonathon had become, but whatever the height, tricks and games designed to sabotage their relationship were out of the question. They'd all backfired on him so far and sent Mei rushing into the arms of his competition. Mark had practically arranged their date at the bar for them by pushing his wife away so aggressively.

Where Mei's husband had wanted her self-esteem to evaporate, it had become a deluge and Jonathon was happy to bathe in it. All Mark could do now was make sure that they stayed separated. He couldn't have been happier once their plane touched down in Texas.

****

Mei woke up with her heart thundering against the inside of her chest. She put a hand over it to soothe the stress inside. Dreams corrupted by a guilt-ridden spirit were constantly interrupting her sleep. After a solid month of wresting with the idea, she had come to a conclusion; it was one thing for Mark to be an inconsiderate asshole, but it was another thing for her to follow in his footsteps. Being a liar and being untrustworthy just wasn't in Mei's nature.

Keeping secrets from her husband was beginning to stir up old memories, haunts, and feelings of shame. Although Mark was more difficult to live with now than ever, the real torment had begun around 7 years earlier...

It had been a typical Sunday afternoon, a time that Mei usually reserved for cleaning the house. But that came to a halt one weekend when she and her husband began arguing over her decision to buy a new vacuum cleaner. The machine wasn't even very expensive, but Mark had really been tight with their expenses lately, so she reminded him that their old vacuum was on its last leg and that the new one was more efficient. Observing that Mark still seemed unconvinced, his wife got straight to work, determined to prove that it had been a good investment.

In the garage, Mei quickly assembled the vacuum's long-reach nozzle before suctioning out her car and Mark's new truck. Her husband took a lot of pride in his vehicle and she knew that showing him how well she could clean it with the new machine was sure to win him over. But in

the middle of vacuuming, a piece of paper nearly clogged the nozzle. It was a receipt. Wondering if she should hold onto it for her husband or not, the woman read its content for signs of importance. Seeing that it was just from the corner store, she almost crumpled the paper up, but that was before her eyes caught something.

Pepsi Bvrg SftDk 1.69

Lpiton Tea Swtnd 1.05

Sndwch Turk/PP Jack 3.99

Sndwch Salami/Prov 3.99

Trojan Ltx Condoms 12.03

Men/Deodorant 7.44

Mei froze as she stared down at the little white receipt. Condoms? She and Mark didn't even use those anymore. They were having fertility issues at the time, so condoms would have only added to their frustration of wanting to conceive. There was only one reason as to why Mark might need to buy them; he was having an affair. Just processing the idea in her mind was a struggle for Mei. This was honestly something that the woman didn't expect from him, especially not so early on in their marriage.

Upset and needing an explanation, Mei confronted her husband. He seemed speechless at first, but eventually the words came to him.

"That's not even mine," Mark defended himself with his brows knitted together at the center.

"But I found it in your truck."

"Well..." the man hesitated. "Well, it probably got stuck to my shoe or something and I accidentally tracked it in. See how it's kinda dirty around the edge here? That's a shoe print." Mei focused her eyes on the faint smudge that the receipt bared. "It makes perfect sense," Mark pushed. By now his arms were crossed and it was obvious that he felt uncomfortable.

"I can't really tell," the man's wife replied.

"Fine then, don't believe me!" Mark huffed. "Go ahead and think the worst of me if it makes you feel any better," he roared sarcastically before storming off and leaving his wife to feel like a fool for not trusting him. Not wanting to further disappoint her husband or herself, Mei tore up the receipt and dropped the idea of Mark cheating on her.

Two months later, a woman came to the couple's the front door. She had wavy brunette hair and hazel eyes. Judging by her nose ring and style of dress, she was probably in her early to mid twenties.

"Can I help you?" Mei asked. The girl just stood there a moment. Her lips seemed to move a little, but no words came out. "Hey, don't I know you from somewhere?"

"Wrong house," the girl finally managed to say before practically running away. She got into her beat up car and drove off quickly. It wasn't until a week or so later that Mei realized why the girl had seemed so familiar. She did know her from somewhere. Driving home one day, Mei recognized the girl's beat up car in the corner store parking lot. Carefully snooping around, Mei discovered that she was a clerk in the store. Her name was Tamera. Upon recognition, Mei immediately began to feel very uneasy, so she left. But one evening, she came back to the store and waited for Tamera's shift to be over.

After clocking out from work, Tamera was surprised to see Mei standing next to her car. Initially, the brunette seemed very nervous, but gradually her eyes resigned to a look of acceptance over the situation.

"Hi," the girl breathed.

"My husband's name is Mark Hafford," Mei began, cutting straight to the chase. "And you're the one he's been having an affair with, aren't you?"

Tamera nodded her head.

"I'm sorry, I really am, but this is just so scary. I know it was stupid to try and come to you about all this at your home, but I'm desperate. I thought if you just had the chance to meet me and see that I'm not a monster...well, then maybe—"

"Stay away from my husband," Mei said without flinching.

"Of course, I know that you want me out of his life," the girl explained before pulling a pack of cigarettes out of her jacket with shaky hands. She lit up, but decidedly cast her cigarette to the ground after just half a drag. "But I can't handle this pregnancy thing all by myself. I really thought I could, but I can't."

"Pregnancy..." Mei replied without even meaning to say anything. It was bad enough when she just thought that Mark was cheating, but it hurt her to the bone to find that he had gotten another woman pregnant, especially being that she hadn't been able to give him a baby yet herself. She wondered if the birth of this child might make Tamera seem more appealing as a wife. "I can't do this. I have to go now."

"But wait!" Tamera pleaded. It was no use. Mei climbed back into her car and began to drive. She went all the way to the edge of town where there was nothing but open space for miles. After parking on the shoulder of the road, she exited her vehicle again. Mei paced in the dirt a few times, kicking up dust before clutching her fists together and letting all of her frustration out with a scream.

"Ahhhhhh!!! Fuck, why is this happening to me?!!" She couldn't help but ask.

Upon returning home, Mei felt as though her house looked different. It looked strange and lacked the intimacy that its walls once provided for her; lacked warmth and security. She wondered how many times Tamera had been inside. Is this where she had gotten pregnant? Is this where her husband had decided that she wasn't worthy of his fidelity?

Mark came home soon afterward to find his wife sitting at the kitchen table in the darkness. She'd been there for hours, just thinking, pondering. She was in the middle of experiencing her very first nervous breakdown due to their marital woes.

"What's wrong with you?" Mark asked, but his wife could barely make out the words. She was still recovering mentally from everything that she had learned earlier.

"You got her pregnant." The words finally escaped from Mei's lips. "You cheated and you got her pregnant."

"What?"

Mei stood up from her chair, flipped on the lights and stared her husband in the face.

"Stop lying to me. Stop pretending like you don't understand me. You know what I just said!"

Mark looked stunned.

"She's lying," the man started.

"So then you admit that there's a she."

"We only had sex once and we used condoms. You remember that receipt? Yes, it was mine, okay? I admit that now!" Mark rushed to explain.

"Are you gonna leave me?"

"No! Why would I do that?!"

"Well, she's having your kid. That's what you want isn't it? The one thing I haven't been able to give you."

"No, that's crazy. It's not mine. She's just trying to pin it on me because she knows I have a good job. I agreed to pay the full $800 for her abortion and now she thinks I'm made out of money or something."

"Why would you fork over that much cash unless you were sure that this was your child? You were you trying to cover up the evidence." Now Mei understood the reason for Mark's recent stinginess with their finances.

"I can't believe I'm having this conversation with you. You and I have known each other years, but you've just barely met Tamera and already you're taking her side. Don't you trust me?!"

"No!"

"Look, getting involved with that girl was a mistake and now I'm just trying to cut her out of our lives, alright?" Mark finished; a look of panic written all across his face. He just wanted his wife to forgive him already and forget this entire mess.

"Whatever," Mei hissed as she walked away. Her husband could tell that she had reached their bedroom once she slammed the door shut. He'd dug himself into a pit and could only think of one way out, but Tamera had to cooperate and she wasn't at the moment.

In the coming days, Mei couldn't seem to get Tamera off of her mind, not even for a moment. Empty bags of cookies and chips all around the house served as evidence of her emotional-eating due to bad nerves. She wanted to know when the other girl was finally going to terminate her pregnancy. But what she wanted most of all was for her marriage to go back to normal and none of that could happen as long as Tamera was till carrying her husband's baby. Moreover, none of that could happen unless she could learn to trust Mark again.

"Has she done it yet?" Mei asked her husband out of the blue one morning. Vague as it was, he knew exactly what she meant because it was always on his mind too.

"No, it's taking a little bit of time. She's scared, but it'll pass. She already knows that I don't want anything to do with her or her stupid baby. I wish she'd go hit up the kid's real father."

No matter what Mark said, Mei never seemed to take any comfort from it. There was always a delay, an excuse, a cancellation at the clinic. And although he denied the child time and time again, she knew that it was his. Another unexpected visit from Tamera convinced her of that.

"I appreciate you letting me into your home like this," Tamera insisted with true sincerity. Her stomach had risen slightly and her face was definitely fuller since the last time Mei had seen her last. She looked tired.

"Mark's not rich, ya know," the man's wife said plainly.

"Money isn't the issue."

"Then what is?"

"I'm not sure how much you know about Mark and I's relationship, but it went on for quite awhile. I know that he's offered to pay for an abortion, but now I really feel abandoned."

Mei smiled inwardly at Tamera's confession. It did her heart a little good to know that Mark had at least told her a little bit of the truth earlier. In no shape or form was he trying to start a family with this girl.

"Well, you should've known that he wouldn't want to have a baby with you. He's married and he even bought condoms to make sure that something like this wouldn't happen," Mei explained smugly.

"Condoms? No, we only used those in the beginning. Like I said, we were together for a while, so sometimes it was just easier to forget about them. Besides, I really didn't think I could get pregnant. I've had so many health issues in the past. I even had one of my ovaries removed when I was like 13 because of an infection. Doctors always told my mom that getting pregnant wasn't going to be an option for me." Tamera paused for a moment. "This baby is like a miracle. And that's why I'm here." She paused again and her face became very serious. "Woman to woman, please allow your husband to come to the clinic with me. I don't have any close family or friends, just him and I could really use the moral support. Can't you see? I'm no monster."

Mei hadn't expected the other girl to have a story that she could identify with so easily.

"Sure, I mean...why wouldn't I allow him to go? Is that what you've been worried about? Yes, I'm very protective of my marriage, but I'm not completely callous."

"Well, Mark said that once you found out about us that you didn't want him anywhere near me. That's why he ended things in the first place and why he can't go to the clinic with me."

"Tamera," Mei began with a sigh. Whatever faith Mei originally had in her husband was quickly dissolving. Had he really used his own wife as a scapegoat to dodge such an important responsibility? What a miserable thing to do. "Did he say all this before or after he found out that you were pregnant?"

"Oh...I guess it was after." The two women sat in silence, mentally taking inventory of just how many lies Mark had told between the two of them, but feeling too embarrassed to speak about it. No one wants to feel like a fool. "Anyway, thanks for letting me talk to you," Tamera said as she began heading out of the front door.

"I'll tell him to go," Mei said abruptly. "I won't let him hide behind me. He'll have to man-up and he'll have to go to the clinic with you."

"No," the brunette said shaking her head. "I'd rather go there by myself than with someone who obviously resents me. I'll be okay on my own."

Even after Tamera left, Mei could still feel tension that lingered around in the house and threatened to destroy her. She was a firm believer in the fact that everything happened for a reason and began to examine some of the more difficult trials that were happening in her life at the moment. Gullible as she was, the woman had been quick to believe her husband when he first denied his infidelity. So maybe Tamera's pregnancy was meant to serve as proof of it. And although Mei had been desperate to give her husband a child, maybe her much hated infertility had actually saved the young woman from being tied down to someone she couldn't trust.

Staring down at her wedding ring, Mei's beautiful diamond looked like nothing more than a piece of glass. A hurdle like this wasn't something that she could just get over. She knew that it might be time to leave Mark and that hurt. They'd only been married a little over 4 years and already the very fabric of their relationship was coming apart at the seams.

"I need a break," the woman said to herself. Her whole body felt as it was suffering from the stress of Mark's affair. She was fatigued and aching all over. Mei now understood firsthand why people complained so much while going through a divorce; she was barely on the cusp of one and already it was exhausting her.

With the pressure that bore down on her increasing exponentially, Mei hoped that getting out of the house might alleviate some tension. A walk around the trail in a nearby park seemed reasonable. The fresh air was strengthening and the scent of flowers in bloom was therapeutic. Unfortunately, the trail wound past a small playground. Seeing mothers with their children, especially with babies, suddenly became a stressful ordeal. Every child was a constant reminder of what Mei was up against concerning Tamera. Unable to cope, the woman began heading home when she almost bumped into a pregnant mother.

"Oops, sorry!" the other woman smiled with a hand on her round belly. It was just too much. Mei started to feel light headed, then dizzy as she heard the faint sound of blood rushing through her head and ears. "Miss, are you alright? Miss?!" The whole world felt as if it was spinning around and around, then she felt herself fall backward. "Help! Somebody call an ambulance!"

****

The hospital was a cool and calm place, but it smelled like disinfectant and the odor stopped Mei from getting any rest. Upon becoming fully aware of her surroundings again, she saw that a doctor was hovering over her bed with a clipboard.

"Welcome back."

"What happened?" Mei asked while beginning to massage her temples.

"You fainted and hit your head on a park bench. But it's no big deal. Dizzy spells are actually quite common among pregnant women. Did you know that you were pregnant?" the doctor asked with slight concern. Her patient looked very surprised.

"No..." Mei replied softly. Then she began to think of how hungry she'd been lately and her body aches. Maybe they hadn't just been symptoms of stress.

"Well, fainting can stem anywhere from circulation issues in the brain because of hormonal changes all the way to poor blood sugar levels while your body adjusts itself for the baby," the doctor smiled. "But nothing to worry about. Have you been under a lot of stress lately?"

"Too much."

"That'll trigger it too," the doctor nodded. "Anyway, let me just wrap a few things up here and I can discharge you within the hour. Also I'd like to recommend you to a pediatrician if you don't already have in mind. Alright?"

"Sure," Mei shrugged, a smile playing on her lips, but it faded once the doctor closed her beside curtain and left. She was pregnant, finally pregnant...but at the worst time possible. It made her think of Tamera's pending abortion. And for the first time, she sympathized with the girl. Just like Mei, Tamera had once felt hopeless about conceiving, but at long last came the miracle and now she was forced to destroy it. Was it really asking so much to have a shoulder to cry on when that time came?

The next day, Mei tracked Tamera down and it was just in time. She was on her way to the clinic all alone. Maybe Mark wasn't willing to be there, but his wife had somehow mustered the courage to show up.

"You came, I can't believe you came!" the pregnant woman said with so much gratitude while the two women hugged in the parking. Mei had gotten Tamera's number from Mark's phone a mere twenty minutes earlier and called to tell the girl that it had been a tough decision, but she wanted to be Tamera's moral support in her time of need. "You of all people, I just can't believe it! My own sister didn't even want to come," she cried.

"Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride. I think you taught me that by accident," Mei laughed through a couple of tears. She knew now that it had taken the other woman a lot of strength to introduce herself in the first place. It's not everyday that a husband's mistress shows up at his home begging his wife for help.

"Alright," Tamera exhaled with a deep breath. "I'm ready."

The abortion clinic wasn't much unlike a regular doctor's office. The two women sat in the waiting room quietly while Tamera filled out some paperwork. Mei flipped through a few magazines with pages that had been dog-eared to death, but she wasn't really looking at them anyway, just making busywork for her brain as a thought kept passing through it.

"Do you really wanna do this?" Mei finally asked. "I remember how you threw that cigarette down in the parking lot the day I came to see you. You're already attached to this baby, aren't you? You want it."

"So," the pregnant woman shrugged somberly and looked away.

"Let's get outta here," Mei insisted. She grabbed the clipboard out of Tamera's hands and surrendered it back to the receptionist at the front desk. "Sorry, we've changed our minds," she said plainly before taking Tamera by the hand.

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