It was Tuesday morning, three days since he had seen Nicole and Ryan was conflicted. He felt awful for making things much more difficult for Nicole, but on the other hand he had loved every moment of having her in his arms again. The feel of her arms wrapped around his neck, her body pressed up against his, her soft lips warm against his, he loved every feeling that she instilled in him. No matter what he did, he couldn’t get what happened on Friday night out of his mind.
Now here he stood on the steps of the Vancouver courthouse ready to begin day two of the Jansen trial and he couldn’t get his mind in the game. Every time he saw Chad he began to seethe with anger and every time Chad got up to speak during the first day of trial he wanted to get up and knock him around. Today Ryan’s judgment was clouded and he was distracted by Nicole.
As he stood there looking up at the sky, something caught his eye. A red car pulled up to the side of the road and a beautiful, blond haired girl got out of the passenger’s side and leaned against the car. Ryan’s eyes narrowed when none other than Mr. Sanders himself got out of the driver’s side and walked around to where the blond was standing. Ryan watched as the son of a bitch wrapped his arms around her waist and kissed her passionately. Maybe a little too passionately for the public eye, Ryan had thought, but who was he to judge.
Ryan didn’t know what to do or how to react, but he knew that he certainly couldn’t confront Chad about it because he was pretty sure that Chad had no idea that Ryan knew he was married to Nicole. Chad probably didn’t even know that Nicole and Ryan were in contact again. He also didn’t know how to approach this with Nicole or even if he should approach her about it. How anyone could do that and treat their spouse so disrespectfully was beyond him.
“Good morning Mr. Wilson,” Chad said in a professional tone, “I wonder what today will have in store for us?”
“Another successful day for my client, I suppose,” Ryan mumbled, still reeling at the thought of seeing Chad with another woman while his wife was working to take care of their child on her own, “But I can’t be sure at this point now, can I?’
“Rough night Ryan?” Chad asked him, clearly a little caught off guard by Ryan’s response.
“I guess you could say that,” Ryan replied, trying to regain his composure, “I’m sorry about that Chad. I guess my mind is on other things right now.”
Nothing else was said as they made their way into the courthouse and Ryan turned quickly to see the blond woman getting into the driver’s side and pulling back onto the road. It was clear that Chad was living with the woman. What a coward for not being to tell his wife what he is really up to.
Ryan tried to push the thoughts from his mind and get in the game. It was time to get to work and focus on winning this trial for his clients. He would worry about what he saw this morning, later.
Beth was sitting at the table in the lunch room at the office eating her left over spaghetti when her cell phone rang. She pulled it out of her pocket and looked down, not recognizing the number that appeared on the screen.
“Hello?” she questioned when she finally answered.
“Hey, is this Beth?” a man said on the other end.
“Yes, may I ask who is calling?” Beth asked politely.
“Hey Beth, its Ryan,” Ryan replied, “I’m sorry if I caught you at a bad time.”
Beth’s eyes got wide. She wasn’t expecting to hear from Ryan. Although she knew that Nicole had been spending time with Ryan and Nicole had told her all about what happened Friday night, she wasn’t expecting to hear from him directly.
“Ryan…hi,” Beth replied, “To what do I owe the pleasure of your call?”
“Well, I have something I have to talk to you about,” Ryan stated, sounding a little flustered and confused, “I’m assuming you have patients all afternoon?”
“Actually, I don’t have any patients now until 3:30,” Beth replied, “Is everything ok?”
“I don’t know,” Ryan replied, “Look…We are in a bit of a recess right now at the courthouse, probably until about 3:30 as well. Do you think you could meet me for coffee in the next half hour or so?”
“Absolutely,” Beth answered, curious about what he had to talk to her about, “I’ll meet you at the Starbucks on the corner of Granville and Robson Street in 30 minutes.”
“Sounds great,” Ryan replied, “See you then.”
Beth hung up her phone and put it on the table and stared out the window. She had no idea what to expect when she met up with him, but if it wasn’t something important, Ryan wouldn’t have called her.
“Hey,” Nicole said as she walked into the lunch room, scaring Beth from her thoughts, “What’s going on in that mind of yours? It looks like you have a lot going on in there.”
“Yeah…I’m not really sure,” Beth replied, not wanting to tell her about her phone call and meeting with Ryan just yet, “I have a meeting to get to, but I should be back in a couple hours. I will definitely be back for my next appointment though. Did you want anything?”
“No thanks, I’m good,” Nicole replied with a small smile, “Beth…are you ok? You seem off.”
Beth wished that she could tell Nicole what was up, but until she knew the answer she didn’t think it was fair to make Nicole worry unnecessarily. She smiled at Nicole, hoping that Nicole wouldn’t press her any further for answers.
“I’m just fine Nic,” Beth replied as convincingly as she could, “I will fill you in later tonight if I find out anything. Come over for dinner?”
“Absolutely,” Nicole replied sweetly, “I just have to go to my parents and pick up Hudson, but I should be there around 6:00.”
“Perfect,” Beth stated as she stood up and put her untouched food back in the fridge, “I’ll see you then.”
Beth quickly hugged Nicole before grabbing her bag and making a hasty exit. She didn’t want to be late meeting Ryan. The curiosity of why he wanted to meet her was killing her.
Beth and Ryan arrived at the Starbucks at the same time a little while later. Ryan smiled at Beth and gave her a quick hug before he opened the door and held it open for her.
“After you,” Ryan said nicely.
“Thank you,” Beth replied as they both made their way to the counter to make their orders, “I’ll have a venti Americano please.”
“Make that two,” Ryan said to the barista, “This one’s on me.”
Beth and Ryan waited for their coffees and then found a table at the back of the shop and sat down. They both sat there quietly for a moment before Ryan started.
“Thanks for meeting me on such short notice,” Ryan stated clearly unsure of where to start, “I don’t know how to approach this situation. I saw something today that was very unsettling and, to be honest, put me in a rage. But I wanted to talk to you first.”
“What’s going on?” Beth asked, her curiosity piqued.
“I saw Chad today…being dropped off at the courthouse by your sister,” Ryan stated uneasily, “And the kiss they shared was pretty damn intense if you ask me.”
Beth’s heart sank at the information that Ryan had just shared with her. She knew that Chad and Anna were seeing each other again, but the fact that they were so public about their relationship truly disturbed her. Beth took a deep breath and looked down at her hands, unsure of what to say next.
The barista brought over their coffees and Beth took a long sip of hers before she looked at Ryan again. When she did, he was already looking at her, waiting patiently for her to respond.
“I went to go see my sister last Tuesday,” Beth began quietly, “We had had a huge fight when I called them both out for having an affair and so I thought that I would try to make amends with Anna. When I got to her apartment building, her and Chad had just gotten back to her apartment and they were pretty enamoured with each other. I thought the affair had stopped…that was at least until last week when I saw them in a passionate embrace outside her apartment.”
“What is that son of a bitch doing?” Ryan questioned, the rage boiling inside him again, “Why would he want to hurt Nicole like this?”
“I don’t think he did it intentionally Ryan,” Beth replied, “Because believe it or not, Chad was absolutely, head over heels in love with Nicole. Anna on the other hand is very manipulative and this isn’t the first time she has used her powers of seduction to her advantage. When Anna wants something…or someone…she can be very persuasive.”
“Well, if you have known for a while, why haven’t you told her?” Ryan questioned curiously, “You are her best friend, so I’m surprised that you have kept this news to yourself.”
“I want to tell her and so does my husband, Alex,” Beth replied, unsure of what to tell him, “At the time, it was a bad idea to say anything, but now, I don’t know. Now I kind of feel like she should know what’s going on? Because Chad is too much of a coward to come clean on his own. It’s only a matter of time before she finds out.”
“Well, maybe the three of us should tell her together,” Ryan stated, “She needs to know, Beth.”
Beth nodded her head in response and felt like it was time to let Nicole know that Chad, at this point, is not committed to saving their marriage. She could see how much Ryan still cared for Nicole and even though he didn’t say as much, he would do just about anything for her.
“What is your plan in all this Ryan?” Beth asked harmlessly, “I’m just curious.”
“Beth, I don’t really have a plan,” Ryan replied with a look that was unreadable to her, “I’m assuming you know what happened on Friday, and just a side note about that…that wasn’t planned, it just happened. But if you think that I am expecting more from her, absolutely not. If it were to go that way, I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea, but I’m not pushing her at all. We both know that Nicole will do what is right for her and Hudson and she won’t be swayed by anyone else’s opinion.”
“I didn’t think that…I just wanted to know what was going through your mind about this,” Beth stated, looking at him closely, “Despite what is going on in her life, she still has a big place in her heart that you still occupy. I just want you two to be careful.”
“Yes mom,” Ryan replied jokingly.
“Ryan…I’m serious…” Beth breathed, slightly annoyed with his response, “A lot of damage has been caused and Nicole is going to need all of us right now.”
“I was joking Beth,” Ryan replied quietly, looking down at his hands sheepishly, “I’m sorry. I know how serious the situation is and I will be there if and when she needs me.”
Beth looked into Ryan’s brown eyes and she knew why and how Nicole had fallen in love with him so easily. He was easy to talk to, he knew how to diffuse a difficult situation, he could ease the tension with one smile and it was like he could read what was in your soul with one look into your eyes.
“So when do we drop the bomb?” Ryan questioned seriously.
“Nicole is coming over to our place for dinner tonight around 6:00,” Beth responded, “Would you like to join us for dinner?”
“Trial will be done around 4:30,” Ryan replied, “When would you like me to be there and what would you like me to bring?”
Beth beamed at him. She was thankful that he was on board with the plan. She took a sip of her coffee before answering him.
“Could you maybe be at our place around 5:15?” Beth asked, “That way we could devise a plan of how we are going to approach the situation? Does that sound good?”
“Absolutely,” Ryan replied with a nervous smile, “I will be there.”
“Thanks Ryan, you don’t know what this means to me, to us,” Beth said appreciatively, “As for bringing anything, just bring your favorite bottle of wine. Now, I have to get going, but we’ll see you at 5:15.”
Ryan smiled at her and then she grabbed her bag and her coffee and made her way out the door. She was worried about dinner tonight and how Nicole would take the news, but she knew now, more than ever, that telling her was the right thing to do.
The weather had changed drastically in the last couple hours. It was beautiful out when Beth had gone to meet with Ryan and now the sky was an ominous gray and the wind was blowing forcefully. It was only a matter of time before the rain came.
How convenient, Beth thought to herself, there was a storm brewing outside and shortly there would be a storm brewing inside as well.
It was 5:10 and Beth and Alex were sitting at the kitchen table waiting for Ryan to get there. Beth had filled Alex in on what Ryan had told her and what he had seen and that only fueled the angry fire that raged inside of Alex.
“Do you think she will feel overwhelmed with all of us being here when she finds out?” Alex asked Beth quietly.
“I think she will appreciate it,” Beth replied unconvincingly, “Part of me thinks that Nicole already has an inkling of what’s going on. I don’t think this news will be much of a surprise to her, but it’s only fair to tell her what we know. I’ve witnessed it and now, so has Ryan.”
Alex nodded in response just as the doorbell rang. He took a quick swig of his beer and then stood up.
“I’ll get it,” Alex said with a sad smile, “I’ll be right back.”
Alex opened the front door to see Ryan standing there, seemingly unsure of whether or not this whole thing was a good idea. Despite that telling Nicole was a good idea, Alex felt the same way.
“Ryan! It’s nice to finally meet you!” Alex greeted him with a smile, “I’m Alex, Beth’s husband.”
Alex stuck his hand out to shake Ryan’s and Ryan reached out to shake it. Ryan smiled back and then handed Alex a bottle of red wine.
“It’s nice to meet you too,” Ryan replied, “I’ve heard great things about you from both Beth and Nicole. Thanks for having me.”
“It’s no problem. It’s for a good cause I suppose,” Alex responded reluctantly, “We all want what’s best for Nicole and I’m glad that you are here for her as well. Beth is in the kitchen, just down the hall. I’ll take your coat.”
Ryan handed Alex his coat and then headed down the hall to the kitchen. Alex hung up his coat and just as he was about to close the front door, he saw Nicole pull into the driveway. Panic sprung to the forefront and his hands began to sweat. What was she doing here so early, he asked himself. She is too early, his mind screamed. Alex wasn’t one to freak out so easily, but this was a situation they had to deal with very delicately.
“Hey!” Nicole called out to Alex as she got out of the car, “This weather is ridiculous!”
Alex waved and forced a smile as she ran towards him. She had obviously forgotten her umbrella at the office or at home. She flung her arms around Alex once she got into the house and held onto him. The two of them met 10 years ago, shortly after he had met Beth and the two of them connected like brother and sister. Alex had been a part of every major life change in Nicole and Chad’s life and it broke him to see Chad causing Nicole so much pain.
“You do know that it is the rainiest evening in recent weeks?” he teased her, “Where is your umbrella Nic?”
“You know that I’ve lived here all my life Alex,” Nicole stated with a giggle, “And not once have I actually ever owned my own umbrella.”
This was a true statement. Alex laughed as he closed the front door and then took her coat from her. He had been surprised that she hadn’t asked about the vehicle parked in front of the house.
“Why is Ryan’s truck here?” Nicole questioned as she pointed out the window.
Busted, he thought to himself. He didn’t know how to respond to her. He gave Nicole a quick look before he reached for her hand and, like usual, led her down the hall to the kitchen. Before they entered the kitchen he stopped and turned to look at her. She was looking at him curiously with an eyebrow slightly raised.
“Just trust me on this one Nic,” Alex said quietly, “We are just looking out for you and we are concerned…”
“Concerned about what?” Nicole questioned as she pulled her hand away from him and stormed into the kitchen, “What’s going on?”
Alex followed a frustrated Nicole into the kitchen where Beth and Ryan sat with surprised looks on their faces. Neither one of them, much like himself, had expected Nicole to be there as early as she was. Nicole ignored them all for a moment as she walked to the china cabinet, grabbed herself a wine glass and poured herself some red wine. Nicole then turned and leaned against the counter, looking at the three of them as she put the wine glass to her lips and took a sip.
“I got a text from Beth about an hour ago saying to leave Hudson at my parents’” Nicole stated after she swallowed the wine in her mouth, her hand very clearly shaking, “What are you guys not telling me? Clearly whatever it is shouldn’t be heard by my three year old.”
Beth stood up and made her way over to Nicole and took the glass from her hand. Nicole looked from her to Alex and then to Ryan. It was clear to Alex that she was doing everything she could to not break down into a fit of angry tears. She looked anxious and concerned as Beth led her to the chair beside Ryan. Nicole sat down and her eyes automatically focused in on Ryan’s. He reached for her hand and she let him hold it and slowly, Nicole began to calm down.
“I didn’t know how to tell you this Nic,” Beth said quietly, her voice shaking, “Last week I went over to Anna’s to make amends…and she wasn’t alone…”
“Chad was with her?” Nicole questioned, but didn’t sound surprised.
Beth nodded her head as a single tear fell from her eye. Alex grabbed Beth’s hand and held it tightly to comfort her. It couldn’t be easy to tell your best friend that her husband is still having an affair and clearly hasn’t shown any signs of stopping.
“How does this involve you?” Nicole asked as she looked over at Ryan again.
“I had gotten to the courthouse early this morning,” Ryan began, choosing his words carefully, “I was standing outside on the steps when Chad got dropped off…by none other than Anna. They were completely lost in their own little world and they weren’t making any effort to try and hide it…I called Beth as soon as I was able to. We thought we would do this tonight and let you know what is clearly going on.”
“Thank you,” Nicole whispered as she stared straight ahead at the wall, “You guys just confirmed what I had been suspecting for the last little while. But no matter how much you prepare yourself for it, it still doesn’t hurt any less. I don’t why I trusted him again, I don’t know why I let him in again. I should have known that he wasn’t going to change…”
Nicole stood up and disappeared down the hall towards the living room without saying another word. Alex watched as she disappeared from the hallway and then turned and looked at Beth and Ryan. The tears were falling freely now from Beth’s eyes and Ryan was nervously fidgeting with his hands in his lap.
“You guys did the right thing,” Alex said quietly as he sat down beside Beth and pulled her into his arms, “She had to know the truth. It might not seem like it right now, but she will be ok.”
“I should go be with her,” Ryan said quietly, “She shouldn’t be alone…”
“I know you mean well Ryan…but give her some time to process,” Alex stated, “When she is ready she will come to us.”
Ryan nodded his head and the three of them sat in silence, none of them knowing what to say next. All they knew at that moment and that they were silently communicating to each other, was that they all had to be there for her. Things were only going to get worse before they got better.