I REMEMBER THE FIRST TIME I met Noah Koh. It was a Saturday night in the trauma department in New York City. A 40 year-old-male was brought in with thirteen gunshot wounds to his groin. Noah strolled right up to him, looked him in the eye, and asked with dead-seriousness — “What did you do to piss your wife off this time?”
I loved that about Noah, how he would swagger around the worst trauma rooms like nothing ever shocked him.
Noah and I were married for three years, divorced for two. Our wedding took place at Gotham Hall, and our honeymoon was in the finger lakes. We were a quintessential New York couple.
I didn’t leave him because he was screwing around. I left him because he was too busy with his work to screw me. I told him he had a choice, me or his job. In a classic ending of a marriage between two doctors, he chose his job, and that was that. He didn’t even show up for the divorce negotiations. I always had a vague idea that Noah came from money. I didn’t ask for much in the divorce. I asked for nothing at all. I didn’t want him to think I married him out of the desire for his money.
Out of the contempt, the judge gave me our holiday home in the Maldives even though it was a property that Noah inherited from his late grandfather on his father’s side. Noah’s last name was really Hayes, as in Richard Hayes, the real estate developer. But he took his stepfather’s last name after his father ran away with an airline stewardess during a Singapore business trip when he was seven. His mother made off very well in the divorce and remarried a Chinese shipping magnate.
I don’t know how rich my ex-husband was, as we seldom talked about money. But at the end of our marriage, to add insult to injury, I knew full well that Noah was wealthy enough that he didn’t need to work double shifts at the hospital every weekend.
I was in Southeast Asia, attending a medical conference when the pandemic hit. I was there with my boyfriend, Frank Morris, a website designer who had the charming quality of being able to work remotely while I attended my conference. Our flight back to the states was canceled, and we were effectively stranded abroad. It seemed like a good idea at the time, to take shelter at the villa in the Maldives until the flights resumed.
Frank and I didn’t have much to do there except wait. So, we did what any couple in the honeymoon stage of their relationships did with nothing to do — we had sex. A lot of sex.
That was until, 24 hours into our stay in the villa, that my ex-husband walked in on us.
Frank was in the middle of thrusting his hips into me when Noah threw open the door to the master bedroom.
“And this is where my grandfather keeps his Giacometti,” Noah managed to get out before he saw us banging like rabbits on his granddaddy’s antique bed. Frank jumped off me as though my skin had turned to liquid lava. He rolled across the floor and grabbed a pillow to cover up his genitals. I didn’t feel the need to hide in shame. This was my house as much as Noah’s. That is if he even spared enough time from stitching up patients in the operating room to read our divorce papers.
“Rose,” Noah said in shock. He stood there, pale as a ghost for a second. Then, he started to get angry, and the opposite happened. Little by little, Noah’s face flushed. The artery in his temple started pulsating. His knuckles turned white. His bushy brows furrowed until his entire body shook with rage. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“What does it look like I’m doing?” I demanded and sat up straighter in bed. I was still naked, but I didn’t care. He could have a good look if he wanted. Maybe he would be reminded of what he gave up. “I’m having mind-blowing sex with my boyfriend.”
“Cover yourself,” Noah hissed and threw the covers over me. He was angry, no more than angry. I could tell by the way his jaw was clenching that he was ready to rip Frank’s throat out. “I’m here with someone. A friend of my mother’s.”
When Noah said, “a friend of his mother’s” I was expecting a little 50-year-old church lady with white hair and a colorful Hermès scarf draped around her wrinkly neck. In that case, yes, I was embarrassed to be caught naked in the house I shared with my ex-husband. Heck, I would have been embarrassed to be caught naked anywhere, even in the shower in front of one of those conservative society ladies. I immediately wrap the bedsheet around myself like a towel dress.
As I peeked at the doorway, it wasn’t some grumpy old lady wearing flat shoes and a Louis Vuitton handbag, which was staring back at me. Nope, not at all, it was a young, twenty-something chick who looked like she had just stepped out of a Cover Girl ad. Yes, I mean Cover Girl as in she had the youthful glow of a teenager that no drug store cosmetics could reproduce.
“Dr. Rosanne Calhoun?” She asked with a cheerful smile. “It’s so nice to finally meet you! My fiancé has told me so much about you. You sound like such a character.”
Now, it was my turn to be shocked. I looked at Noah for an answer, but he immediately looked away. So much for my workaholic husband. It seems like he found time to go all the way to a tropical paradise in the middle of the global pandemic to meet up with this hussy. I didn’t know why, but suddenly a lump appeared in my throat.
He couldn’t make time to go to couple’s counseling or even come to our divorce negotiations. Yet, one snap of some pretty young thing’s fingers and he flew halfway around the world to marry her? Oh my God, who was this man that I had once called my husband? Did I know him at all?
“It’s so nice to meet you,” the young girl repeated and held out her hand for me to shake. Didn’t she notice that I needed both hands to hold my bedsheet closed? No, it wasn’t that. I didn’t want to touch her because touching her lily-white skin, which I was sure was rose petal soft would mean acknowledging she was real. Noah was already onto his second wife. I had barely even started having good rebound sex with my not-so-exclusive boyfriend!
“It’s nice to meet you too,” Frank said as he interjected himself between me and the bitch. He enthusiastically shook her hand while holding a pillow to his crotch. “I’m Frank, Rosanne’s boyfriend. How are you doing today?”
“Maldives are so beautiful.”
“Yes,” Frank replied gleefully. “I’m already on my way to an amazing tan.”
“I can see!” The young girl replied as she pointed at the apparent tan line on Frank’s ankles from his constant need to wear sneakers on the beach.
Neither of them seemed to notice that Noah and I were shooting daggers at each other with our glares.
“I need to talk to you,” I hissed at Noah.
“I have nothing left to say to you,” Noah replied and reached for his pretty young girlfriend. He kissed her squarely on the lips and tugged her toward the door. “Leslie, let’s head to the beach before the sun goes down.”