It was the day of their counselling appointment and Chad had decided last minute that he wasn’t going to go. It had been a long two weeks since he stood Nicole up and spent the night with Anna. He was swamped with work on the Jansen case and he was overcome with guilt and confusion over what was going on in his life. He no longer knew what he wanted and he was wondering if it was even worth it to keep putting Nicole through this grief. He still loved her very much, but he wasn’t sure that he wanted to keep getting Nicole’s hopes up if he didn’t even know what he wanted.
Chad picked up his phone at the office and dialled his wife’s number.
“Hello,” Nicole said on the end after a couple of rings.
“Hey Nic,” Chad said quietly, “I’m not going to be able to make it to the appointment. Something came up and it can’t be avoided.”
“Are you kidding me?” Nicole shot back, “We have waited a month for this Chad! I thought you wanted to work through this?”
“I do,” he replied as he twirled a pen in his hand, “I just can’t make it today. Maybe you could reschedule it for a couple weeks from now, by then the trial will be under way and things will be hectic, but not as hectic as they are right now. I’m really sorry about this Nic.”
“Whatever,” Nicole said quietly, sounding unsure, “I’ll see what I can do.
Chad opened his mouth to say something but he heard a click and the line went dead. He felt horrible, but he couldn’t bear to come forward about his mistake. It would only make things worse for them.
Coward, a voice in his head said quietly. Absolutely, Chad thought, he was the biggest coward, but he didn’t want to hurt her any more than he already had.
Chad looked up when he heard a knock on his door and his heart began to pound nervously in his chest when Anna walked in. What the hell is she doing here, he wondered to himself.
Anna closed the door behind her and then turned and smiled at him shyly. It was like she knew that it was mistake for her to be there, but she was unable to stop herself from showing up anyways.
“Anna, what are you doing here?” Chad asked her quietly, “You know it’s not a good idea for you to be here.”
“I know,” Anna said quietly, “I just thought…after last night…that maybe we could have dinner at my apartment tonight…maybe have a repeat of last night?”
Chad gave Anna a look and her cute smile made him desire her more than he thought possible. His heart was torn and his mind was screaming at him from inside, but at the same time, every time he tried to ignore her advances or try to think about something else, he wasn’t able to fight her off. He knew it was wrong, but there was something about Anna that just drew him in.
Anna moved in closer to him and before he could stop himself he reached for her hand and pulled her against his body and pressed his lips against hers.
You’re going to hell, his mind screamed at him. Chad pushed the voice aside as he felt her arms snake around his neck. Right now, he didn’t care.
Nicole was sitting in the waiting room at Dr. Mason’s office when she got the call from Chad saying that he wasn’t going to be able to make it. She was beyond angry, but lately he been somewhat of a flake. Chad had been breaking promises left right and center and it really hurt her that he was apparently losing any motivation he may have had to fight for their marriage.
He had called her on the Saturday evening, the day after he stood her up on their date. He had explained that he had had a few too many drinks with a couple guys from work and passed out when he got home. He apologized for missing their date and had rescheduled for a couple days later, and again, he stood her up. There were other promises of taking Hudson out to dinner and taking him swimming and taking him for a weekend and every time Chad never showed up. Nicole could kind of understand him standing her up, but for him to stand up his son, that was unlike him.
“Nicole and Chad,” Dr. Mason called as she walked out of her office, “Come on in.”
Dr. Mason looked at Nicole and raised an eyebrow in curiosity. Nicole stood up, put her purse over her shoulder and gave her a shrug.
“He’s not coming,” Nicole stated with a frustrated tone, “I can reschedule again if you want.”
“Actually, I think it might be good if you and I just talked today,” Dr. Mason said with a sad smile, “It would have been nice for Chad to be here, but why waste an appointment. I’m sure you have lots on your mind that could be talked about.”
“I’m just so confused,” Nicole replied as she sat down in her chair, “I thought he wanted to work this out. I thought we were on the same page...”
“Nicole, what made you think that?” Dr. Mason asked her as she closed the door and sat down across from Nicole.
“We talked on the phone about a week and a half after our last attempted appointment,” Nicole replied, “He took Hudson for the weekend. I missed him. He came over a couple weeks ago and one thing led to another and we well...we slept together. I’m thinking now that that maybe wasn’t a great idea...”
Nicole looked down at her hands for a moment and then looked over at Dr. Mason who was staring at her and waiting for her to continue. Nicole had wondered if getting that close to Chad right off the bat was a good idea, but Dr. Mason hadn’t let on either way what her opinion was.
“That night right before he left, he asked to take me out for dinner that Friday and I was excited that he had asked,” Nicole continued on, “But he never showed. He stood me up and then everything we had planned, whether it was taking me on a date or spending weekends with Hudson or taking him swimming. In two weeks he hasn’t showed up for anything that he has promised me or our child. And then he calls ten minutes ago to say he won’t be coming to this appointment.”
“Does he have something coming up at work? Does he seem more stressed out than usual?” Dr. Mason questioned nicely, “Maybe after your evening together, Chad feels even more ashamed of what he did to you and how much he hurt you.”
Nicole had never thought of that, but there was just something about this whole situation that didn’t add up to her. She just felt off about the whole situation and she felt that Chad wasn’t being completely honest with her.
“He does have a big trial coming up in a week,” Nicole stated as she looked over at Dr. Mason, “He has been preparing for this trial for weeks and he has been stressed out about it. But something just feels off. I feel like he isn’t being completely honest. I don’t know what about, but it just feels bad.”
Nicole had an unsettling feeling in her stomach as Dr. Mason wrote down some notes and then looked over at Nicole with concern on her face. She just knew there was more to the story than she knew, but she had no idea where to begin to figure it out.
Nicole left Dr. Mason’s a little while later feeling even more discouraged than when she got there. Dr. Mason had mentioned that maybe Chad was keeping something from her, but maybe he wasn’t. She also had to talk Nicole off the ledge about going to Trevor, Chad’s best friend, to see if he knew anything. Dr. Mason had expressly told Nicole not to go looking or digging for information. If Chad was keeping anything from her, it was sure to come out eventually. They had made arrangements for her and Chad to come in for their appointment in three weeks, which should be enough time for him to prepare for it.
We have an appointment three weeks from Thursday - Nicole texted to Chad - I hope this works for you and I really hope you show up this time.
Nicole had started walking to her car when she decided she just wanted to go for a walk and clear her head. She quickly dialled a number and waited as it rang.
“Hi sweetheart,” her dad, Fred, answered, “How did counselling go? Able to work some things out I hope.”
“Counselling was frustrating for me daddy,” Nicole said quietly, “Chad didn’t show up so it was just me. I don’t know what to do...”
“Oh Nicky,” Fred said lovingly, “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s ok, I’ll figure it out,” Nicole replied, “How is my baby?”
“He is great, happy little guy as always,” Fred replied, “He just finished eating dinner and now we are about to sit down and watch a movie.”
“Do you mind keeping him a little longer?” Nicole asked with a smile on her face, “I was thinking about grabbing a bite and then taking a walk down by the water before coming to get him. I need to clear my mind.”
“Absolutely,” Fred responded, “Take your time. I love you sweetie.”
“I love you too dad,” Nicole replied before hanging up her phone and sliding it into her purse.
She stopped walking and looked up at the building in front of her. She wondered if she would be interrupting him if she just went up and said a quick hello.
Without giving it another thought she opened the big glass door and walked towards the bank of elevators at the back of the building. She walked onto the elevator and pushed the button for the 16th floor and waited patiently as the elevator smoothly made its way up. The door dinged as it opened and she made her way into the foyer where the receptionist was sitting.
Nicole looked at her watch which happened to tell her that it was 6:30. She wondered why the receptionist was still there.
“Good evening Mrs. Sanders,” the petite brunette said from the other side of the desk with a smile, “Are you looking for Chad?”
“Actually I am, Maddy,” Nicole replied, smiling back at her, “Is he in his office?”
“Actually, he left about an hour and a half ago,” Maddy replied before quickly looking down at her hands, “I thought he was going to see you. At least that’s where he said he was going...”
Nicole was confused at this response. Chad had told her that he was busy with work and prepping for his trial. She just automatically thought that he would be here working. She was tired and felt like giving up on their marriage all together. He said one thing and did another and she wondered how important this actually was to him.
“Thank you Maddy,” Nicole said quietly, “If he comes back, please let him know that I was here.”
She turned on her heels and walked back to the elevators feeling dejected and hurt and unimportant. Where did they stand, she couldn’t help but think to herself. She bit her lip to try and stop the tears from falling, but she was unsuccessful. She got onto the elevator and watched as the doors closed slowly, wondering if the doors were also closing slowly on her marriage.
Beth hadn’t seen Anna since the day she had confirmed that Chad was having an affair and thought that despite what Anna had done to Nicole, they should bury the hatchet and try to fix their bond. Beth and Anna had always been very close and neither of them had ever kept secrets from the other.
Beth had been sitting in her SUV when a blue Ford F-150 pulled up to the front of the building a little ways away from her.
“What the hell...” Beth mumbled to herself as she squinted to get a better look, “What is...oh hell no...”
It took every ounce of energy that Beth had to stop herself from getting out of her vehicle and storming up to the truck. She couldn’t believe that after all the damage those two had caused to Nicole and Hudson that they were still seeing each other.
Beth watched as the passenger door opened and her sister stumbled out. Chad jumped from the truck and ran to the door to stop her from falling. Anna fell into Chad’s arms and pressed her lips to his before she burst into a fit of giggles. Beth felt ill as she watched this unfold before her. She knew that she had gone unseen and she knew that it was wise to not make a scene, despite how desperately she wanted to. Here she was wanting to make things right with her sister and her sister just proved to her that fighting for their relationship wasn’t worth it.
Before they realized she was there she put the vehicle in drive and tore down the street in a fit of rage and sadness. She was in a rage over how cold and evil her sister was and she was sad because this would break Nicole’s heart even more. Beth thought about how she should approach the situation and she knew that rushing to Nicole’s place to dump the news on her would be a very bad idea.
15 minutes later Beth pulled into her driveway, slammed the door behind her and stormed into the house. By this point, angry tears had begun to make their way down Beth’s cheeks and she was powerless to stop them.
Alex walked into the hallway to see Beth leaning against the wall, unable to catch her breath. He rushed over to her and brushed her hair out of her face and then wrapped his arms around her body. Beth fell into her husband’s strong arms and cried. She held onto him tightly, never wanting to let him go.
“What’s wrong Beth?” he asked her quietly as he reached for her hand and led her down the hall to the kitchen, “Please tell me.”
“How did you do it Alex?” Beth asked quietly, “How did you deal when you found out your ex-wife was having an affair?”
“It wasn’t easy,” Alex replied, “In fact it was very difficult. It hurts so much and it is hard to fathom how you go from committing your entire life to someone else to giving it all up because of one night or possibly a few months of pleasure and lust with someone else. A good chunk of relationships that start through an affair never work out, but there are a select few that do and they go on to live happy lives together. But is it really worth sacrificing your marriage to find out? I guess it was for my ex...10 years later and my ex is still with the man she left me for. Where did this come from Beth?”
“I went over to Anna’s to make up...” Beth stated breathlessly, “But when I got there Anna was just getting home. It looked like she was on a date with Chad. I watched them kiss as he helped her out of his truck and then watched as they disappeared into her apartment building...”
Alex held Beth close and she knew he was angry just by how his breathing had changed. She buried her head in the crook of his neck and he ran his hand through her hair to try and soothe her. They were both at a loss for words.
“Why doesn’t he want to try and make it work with Nicole?” Beth asked Alex quietly before sniffling, “It’s Nicole! How could anyone want to hurt her the way Chad is hurting her. The way he is deceiving her and betraying her, it makes me so angry. Do we tell her, or do we keep it a secret? What do we do Alex?”
“As much as I want to tell her, I don’t think it’s a good idea to say anything right now,” Alex answered, sounding unsure of himself, “I think she needs to find herself, figure out what she wants for herself and for Hudson, figure out who she is and who she wants to be. Maybe she doesn’t want Chad as much as she says she does, but loves the idea of what he used to be...maybe she wants someone else...”
Beth’s head shot up and she knew instantly who he was referring to. She had told him several days ago that Nicole had run into Ryan and that they had gone out for coffee the night that Chad stood her up. Alex hadn’t disapproved of these meetings and said that maybe she just needed someone, other than Beth or him or her parents, to lean on and to talk to. Maybe Ryan showed back up in her life again for that very reason. Alex was always one to believe in signs and fate. He was a hopeless romantic in more ways than Beth was.
“You think she wants Ryan back?” Beth asked quietly.
“Absolutely,” Alex stated with a small smile, “I’m not saying that because Chad is having an affair that Nicole should go out and have one too. But she loves the idea that she could have what she had with Ryan again. If I’m not mistaken, Nicole never really stopped loving Ryan, did she?”
Beth looked up at him and shook her head in response. As much as Nicole loved Chad and loved the life he gave her, Ryan was her first true love. Ryan ended things suddenly and Nicole never really recovered from that.
“All I’m saying Beth, is that maybe Ryan is in the picture again for a reason...” Alex said quietly, “Things are never quite as you expect them to be.”
Beth could never quite get over how well her husband could process things, but he amazed her every time. As much as she believed that marriage was forever, maybe, just maybe, Chad wasn’t Nicole’s forever.
Nicole stood on Trevor’s doorstep and knocked on the door. All the convincing that Dr. Mason had done to keep Nicole from going to Trevor had gone through the window. She had no idea what made her end up there, but it was like a magnetic pull. She couldn’t stop herself. She didn’t know what she would find, but what she didn’t find was Chad’s truck.
“Hey...Nicole,” Trevor said as he opened the door, looking surprised, “What brings you here?”
“Well...Chad has been acting really weird the last couple weeks,” Nicole said, jumping right to the point, “Has he been acting weird to you? Do you know where he is?”
Nicole noticed that Trevor looked really uncomfortable as he silently shoved his hands in his pockets. She began to feel uneasy as he looked at her with sad eyes. Something was definitely up with Chad.
“I don’t know what’s going on with Chad, Nic,” Trevor replied quietly, “I haven’t seen him in over a week...”
Trevor pushed the door open wider and stepped aside so Nicole could come in. Nicole made her way inside and they stood there awkwardly in the hallway for a moment before Nicole spoke again.
“I thought he was living here with you?” she questioned.
“He is, but we had a disagreement and I haven’t seen him,” Trevor stated, “I guess he is swamped with his upcoming trial. He is usually gone before I wake up and out until after I have gone to bed. There have been a couple times where he hasn’t come home at all.”
Nicole quickly averted her eyes as the panic flashed in them. She wasn’t a stupid as Trevor obviously thought she was. Her heart hurt and she was exhausted from trying to save her marriage. That son of a bitch was seeing Anna again, Nicole could feel it in her bones.
“Is he seeing her again Trev?” she asked, not really wanting to know the answer.
“I don’t know Nic,” Trevor breathed as he ran a hand through his hair, “He hasn’t been himself for the last two weeks. I have no idea what’s going on.”
Nicole gave him a sad smile and leaned in and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. She trusted Trevor and knew that he would tell her more if he had more information.
“Thanks Trev,” Nicole said quietly, “I have to go get Hudson, but will you let me know if you hear from him? I’m worried and concerned about the progress we aren’t making.”
“You bet,” he replied with a small smile, “You take care ok?”
Nicole gave him a nod and walked out the door towards her car. Once she got in she rested her forehead against the steering wheel and took a few deep breaths. She desperately wanted to give Chad the benefit of the doubt, but her faith in him was slowly dying out. She knew that it was best to not go digging for information, but to wait until he told her the truth or to wait until someone else told her.
All Nicole knew what that she had no idea what she did to be treated this way.