Nicole carried a sleepy Hudson up to Beth and Alex’s front door and rang the doorbell. Her and Hudson had gone out for lunch and then they went to the Vancouver Aquarium before Hudson decided he was done and had a full on tantrum on the sidewalk beside their car. Nicole didn’t blame her little boy. She felt like having a tantrum on the floor as well, but as a 35 year old woman she knew that a starfish on the floor was not going to help matters.
When she had showed up at her parents’ house her mother could tell instantly that something wasn’t right, but Nicole was in no mood to explain the situation to her. Nicole had just told her mom that she wanted to spend the day with Hudson and that everything was ok. She just wasn’t sure how to tell her mom what was going on.
Beth opened the door and managed a forced smile at Nicole. Nicole noticed that Beth’s eyes were red and her mascara was smeared slightly. She put Hudson down on the ground and he ran into the house squealing as he went to find his “Uncky Lex”. Beth reached for Nicole’s hand and led her into the house and they sat down on the couch in the living room.
“Beth, what’s going on?” Nicole asked her, knowing that whatever it was, wasn’t good.
It was silent after that. The living room was lit up by the sunshine flowing in, but it certainly didn’t have the feel of a room being filled with sunshine and happiness. It was quite the opposite actually. The room felt dark and cold and whatever news Beth had been holding on to sure wasn’t going to be cause for celebration. You could hear the happy squeals of Nicole’s innocent little boy as he ran around the back yard with Alex. He didn’t have a care in the world and he was oblivious to what was going on around him.
“Chad is having an affair,” Beth blurted before slapping her hand against her mouth.
Nicole’s heart somersaulted in her chest uncomfortably and she thought that she had misheard her best friend. She analyzed Beth closely and judging by the grief stricken look on her face, Nicole knew that Beth had said what she thought she said.
Nicole’s hands began to shake and a cold sweat spread over her body almost instantaneously. This couldn’t be happening to her. Beth had to have misunderstood whatever she heard or saw. Chad wasn’t capable of such a cruel act. Nicole put her head in her hands and tried to process the information. She refused to believe it, she just couldn’t imagine her husband being unfaithful to her.
“I’m sorry Nicole,” Beth said quietly, “I know you don’t want to believe that Chad is capable of this, but it’s true.”
“With who?” Nicole asked quietly.
“Anna...” Beth replied reluctantly.
The anger and rage that she felt flooded through every part of her and she could feel her face get hot. Nicole stood up and clenched her fists tightly as she looked over at her friend. She was definitely not expecting that blow. Next to Beth, Anna had always been a close friend of hers and she trusted her just as much as she had trusted Beth. Nicole never thought she would experience such betrayal, but clearly she had misjudged Anna’s character.
“I have to go,” Nicole mumbled as she grabbed her purse off the floor and walked towards the front door, “I’ll come get Hudson in a couple hours.”
Nicole walked out of the house and into the sunlight and despite its heat, she felt incredibly cold. She was angry, confused, lost, but most of all she had been betrayed and she wanted answers.
She made her way down the driveway to her car and when she reached for the door handle she felt a hand on her arm. She turned and saw Alex standing there, his eyes red and a look of concern on his face.
“You don’t want to go over there right now,” Alex said quietly, “I know you think you have it all planned out and you know exactly what you are going to say when you confront Anna. But what you will actually find when you get there will destroy you.”
“I want to see it for myself,” Nicole pleaded, “I can’t imagine either one of them betraying me this way. I just want to see the proof myself.”
“You say you do,” Alex stated, “But you will regret it the moment you get there. Please stay here and eat if you want, but just stay. Don’t go over there, not right now.”
Alex moved his hand down her arm and squeezed her hand before she reluctantly let him lead her back into the house. She had absolutely no appetite, but at least she would be surrounded by people who loved and cared about her. Alex had been through a similar situation with his first wife, so he was probably the only one that Nicole could talk to, who would understand.
He escorted her through the house to the kitchen and she sat down at the table. Beth was sitting across from her with Hudson in her lap where he was eating a cookie and drinking some milk. Alex continued to hold Nicole’s hand and sat down beside her for fear that she would jump up and leave again.
“You can relax Alex,” Nicole said quietly, “I’m not going anywhere.”
Alex let go of her hand but he still stayed by her side. Nicole appreciated that both of them were watching out for her. She was a mess inside, but she knew that she had to stay strong and keep her emotions in check in front of her little boy. He was only three and he wouldn’t understand what daddy had done and that it was wrong.
“Momma,” Hudson said quietly as he wriggled from Beth’s lap and waddled over to her, “Up. Momma wants a hug?”
Nicole picked up her boy and hugged him tightly. He wrapped his little arms around her neck and hugged her back. In that moment, Hudson was the only one that really made any sense. She knew that if her marriage failed she would be just fine just as long as she had Hudson by her side. He was her life and he had been a precious gift to her and to her lying, cheating husband, but that didn’t seem to matter to him.
“I love you baby boy,” she said quietly to him, “You make momma happy.”
“Love you too,” he said with a cute little smile.
Nicole pulled into the driveway and saw her husband’s new truck in the driveway. She had a sinking feeling in her stomach when she also noticed Anna’s red convertible Mustang parked a few houses down.
“Way to be subtle you stupid bitch,” Nicole mumbled under her breath.
She grabbed her purse, pulled the keys out of the ignition and opened the door of her car. Beth and Alex had offered to take Hudson for the night so that Nicole could get a goodnight’s rest and she had taken them up on that offer. As she drove home, she had felt guilty that she hadn’t taken her baby home with her, but now she was glad that he wasn’t here to witness whatever was about to happen.
Nicole walked up the driveway slowly feeling the anxiety rise up inside her. Part of her wanted to go in guns blazing, but the other, more reserved part of her knew that she had to remain calm and deal with this maturely.
As she reached for the door knob the door flew open and there stood Anna with tears streaming down her face and her mascara was beginning to smear. Anna stared at Nicole for a moment unable to say anything. She opened her mouth to say something when Nicole put her hand up to stop her.
“Don’t say anything Anna,” Nicole said quietly and even tempered, “You’ll just make it worse.”
Anna stepped past her and Nicole walked inside and closed the door without saying another word. She made her way down the hall to the kitchen where Chad was sitting at a bar stool with a beer in hand. She walked past him without saying a word and went straight to the half empty bottle of tequila that she had left on the counter by the sink that morning. She pulled out a shot glass and poured herself a drink.
“Why was she so upset?” Nicole asked before she threw the shot back, the cold liquid burning as it slid down her throat, “Upset that her sister found out her dirty little secret?”
It was silent, sort of like the calm before the storm. Nicole and Chad both knew that a war would break out before anything got better, but neither one of them wanted to utter the first word.
“Where is Hudson?” Chad asked quietly putting his beer bottle down.
“Our son is with Beth and Alex,” Nicole replied calmly, “I didn’t think it was a good idea for him to be here tonight, you know, just in case... just in case you decided to show up here tonight. But I never thought you would show up with her. How could you bring her here?”
“I didn’t,” Chad replied, “She followed me here. I told her we couldn’t do this anymore...she begged me to leave you.”
“And you decided that was a good idea!” Nicole exclaimed, “You told me two days ago that you wanted out! I can’t believe that you are throwing away 12 years for Anna!”
The room when silent as she poured herself another shot of tequila and downed it without blinking. She stared at her husband and in that moment she realized that she barely recognized the man that she had fell in love with all those years back. Her heart broke a little at the thought. She poured herself another shot and stared at the glass in her hand.
“Maybe you shouldn’t have another drink,” Chad said as he stood up and slowly made his way towards her, “Let’s talk this out.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t tell me what to do,” Nicole stated as she glared at him and put the glass to her lips and let the liquid fill her mouth.
Nicole placed the empty shot glass on the counter as the liquid began to make her feel numb. She knew it was bad and she knew that if she kept this up, she would be heading down a dark and dangerous road, but at that particular moment, she no longer gave a shit.
“Does our marriage mean nothing to you?” she questioned him as she waved off his hand, “Please don’t touch me, you make me sick.”
“It does, you do... Nicole, I still love you...” Chad pleaded with her, “I tried to end it but Anna...wouldn’t take no...”
“Save it Chad,” Nicole snapped at him, “You have to stop blaming her for all of this. This is not just her fault, she didn’t have sex all by herself...it takes two.”
Chad was at a loss of words and this made Nicole smirk slightly. She had won this conversation and she felt that she deserved another drink, but she refrained. She turned her back to him and grabbed the bottle of tequila, which was almost empty at this point, and dumped the remaining liquid down the sink.
“I don’t like you or the man that you have become Chad,” Nicole whispered, “But unfortunately and much to my disappointment, I am still in love with you. If you say you still love me, then are you willing to fight for it?”
“I will do whatever it takes to fix our marriage,” Chad replied quietly, “I want to become that man that I was when we first got married. I want to be that man for you again.”
“Good,” Nicole replied, “I’m going to bed.”
Nicole turned on her heels and left him standing alone in the kitchen. She slowly made her way up the stairs and locked herself in the spare room. Again, she was exhausted and mentally and emotionally drained.
As much as she wanted to save her marriage, part of her wondered if it was even worth it. Chad had betrayed her in the worst possible way and almost every part of her hated him for it, but she knew that she had to at least give him the benefit of the doubt that he wanted to save their marriage just as much.