"I still don't feel well," she sniffled.
"Do you want me to get you anything?" He asked.
"No... I just want to rest."
Zoilo opened his mouth to speak but nothing came out. He did not know what to say. He removed his hand from her arm and Arabella raised the bed sheets up to her neck. Zoilo stood up and opened the door.
"If you need anything just call me. I am heading to the office to get a few things," he said gently.
Zoilo gazed at her once more before shutting the door behind him.
Their relationship was never the same since the loss of their child. Zoilo did his best to comfort Arabella but nothing seemed to work. He felt useless. He wanted to be there for Arabella. He wanted to comfort her, but she did not want him near her. He did not want to upset her more than she was already and hoped that doing what she asked would somehow help her.
But that did not help.
He blamed himself for not trying harder. He blamed himself for not being the husband and friend she deserved. He knew she had lost someone precious to her. He did not know how much pain she was in because he could not imagine it. She carried their child, felt him or her grow inside her, and felt the loss of it. He blamed himself for everything he did after the tragedy — and for ruining their marriage.
Arabella was depressed. Their child was lost and they could never get him or her back. She blamed herself for the death of their child no matter what anyone told her. It was not your fault. This happens to many other women. Things will get better.
But they never did.
They slowly became distant towards each other and their marriage began to crack. As the cracks go deeper and deeper, their tears and sorrows filled those cracks — creating a river so deep between them that neither of them could cross to the other side.
As the months went by, Zoilo felt he couldn't talk to anyone about his emotions. He had to stay strong for Arabella.
At least that is how it was for sometime.
Zoilo sat in his office, looking through the stack of files on his desk. Work was becoming harder to do ever since the tragedy. Since he was the ceo, he had many responsibilities. He roughly ran his hand through his hair.
A knock interrupted him from his reading, "come in." The door opened and in came Veronica.
"Hey Zoilo, just came to drop these off," she placed another stack of files on his desk.
Zoilo rubbed his face, "thank you Veronica, you can go." But she did not move. He shifted his gaze from the files on his desk to her face.
"Sorry I just had to make sure you are okay. How are you? How is Arabella?" Veronica asked.
Zoilo leaned back against his chair, "she is doing better. The doctor recommended that she should visit a group and it has been helping her cope." He paused. "She still has those days but I am glad she is doing better. As for me I am doing fine," he gave his best smile but failed. Veronica could see the pain behind his smile.
"I am doing fine," she repeated and sighed. "You really have not changed. If you ever need anyone to talk to I'm here. I would be happy to listen," she gave him a toothless smile before leaving his office.
Since then he would tell her his feelings about everything that was going on in his life. It felt wrong opening up to another woman other than his wife, but that is all it ever was until the night that started it all.
One night, Zoilo invited each of his closest employees for a drink to celebrate the new deal they had made. Veronica was there since she was his assistant. They all had a great time.
When the party ended, Zoilo decided to escort Veronica to her apartment.
"Thank you for the ride but you did not have to though," Veronica said as they approached her apartment.
"It is no problem. Just wanted to make sure you got home safely," Zoilo said.
Veronica blushed at his statement, "thank you."
"Of course, I always make sure my employees are well taken care of."
"Oh I was not thinking the same," she said and took a step forward.
He arched an eyebrow, "what were you thinking then?"
"I was thinking you would like me as more than your employee." Before Zoilo could say anything, she placed one hand behind his neck while the other pulled down on his tie. She planted her lips onto his, tasting the alcohol on his lips. She pulled away and said, "I still love you."
Zoilo stood there in shock, not knowing what to say. The alcohol was messing with him. He was not thinking straight.
"I love you," Veronica repeated. "I know you are married with my best friend, but I missed you."
She leaned up and planted her lips on his once more. Zoilo grabbed her arms and held her back, "Veronica stop. You are drunk, I am drunk. This is wrong." He turned around and walked away. He knew that if he continued to stand there then things would take a huge toll.
Suddenly, he felt arms wrap around his waist. Warms hands began to roam the front of his torso, slowly. Soft kisses began to plant themselves on the back of his neck. "Veronica," he said in an warning tone. She hummed and continued.
Zoilo grabbed her wrists and turned to face her. He pushed her against the wall and said, "stop."
Veronica wrapped her legs around his waist, "make me." She giggled and pressed her lips against his. He let go of her wrists to try and loosen her legs from his waist. She tightened her grip on him and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him closer to her. The feelings he had felt long ago took over him. One thing led to another and well...
After two hours, Zoilo woke up in an unfamiliar bed. He quickly opened his eyes and sat up. The side effects of the hangover quickly struck him and his head began to pound with pain. He rubbed his temples and looked around the room.
Just as the side effects had struck him, they quickly vanished. Zoilo was mortified. Next to him laid Veronica, who was fast asleep. He could not believe what he had just done. Zoilo got out of bed and searched for his clothes. Once he was fully dressed he left her apartment without giving it a second glance.
He could have blamed it on Veronica for making a move on him.
He could have blamed it on the alcohol.
He could have blamed his wife for neglecting him.
But instead he blamed himself. He made the choice. He slept with another woman other than his wife. He cheated.
It was the first time he had ever cheated on a relationship and the amount of guilt that cursed through him was unexplainable. He despised cheaters and now he became one.
He opened the door to their house and walked inside. He went into the kitchen and felt like the biggest asshole in the world. There was Arabella, his wife, sleeping against the table island.
She waited for him.
She waited for a cheater.
Zoilo picked her up in his arms, bridal style. Arabella kept her eyes closed and mumbled, "Zoilo?"
"Yeah it's me. Sorry for coming back this late, the party lasted longer than I thought it would," he gently kissed her forehead.
"It's okay. Did you have fun?" She asked.
"It was nice," he opened the door to their room and gently placed her on the bed. "You should go back to sleep it's three in the morning."
Arabella slightly nodded her head and yawned. In just a matter of seconds, she had fall asleep.
Zoilo never told her about the party or about what he had done. He told himself it would be the first and last time he would do something like that, but it happened again. Then again and again. He hated himself more each time and his heart crumbled more every time he saw Arabella. He distanced himself from her more and more each time.
"Are you okay Zoilo?" Arabella's eyes filled with tears. "You do not talk to me anymore and I cannot help but feel like it is my fault."
But it was not her fault, he thought.
Zoilo would lie to himself saying he did not love Arabella. He acted colder towards her and got closer to Veronica. Eventually, it led to the point of him filing the divorce. He was convinced he did not love Arabella. But who was he kidding?
He still loved her.
He never wanted for things to turn out like this. He never wanted to divorce her. It did not matter to him that Veronica might have been his first love. Arabella was his wife. She was the woman he fell in love with at first sight. He chose to marry her even if their parents arranged it.
He was losing her, but was he ready for that?
The days continued to pass and were getting closer to the day where they would go to court to end it all. To end their marriage.
• • •
Zoilo stared at the pictures of Arabella and him. Things were going so well until he ruined them. If only he could go back in time and never let that moment occur. Things would have been different.
But it was too late.
Zoilo continued to stared at the pictures and suddenly, it came to him. He quickly closed the photo album and grabbed his things before he left the house.
• • •
Nino sat behind his desk while on the phone with his oldest son.
"How was school today?" Nino asked. "That's good and how are your grades?... And your sisters?... I'm glad, tell your sister that I am proud of you," Nino smiled. "I'll see you later, go do your homework alright?... alright." He hung the phone and looked at the files on his desk.
A knock made him stop and look up, "come in."
The door opened and in came Zoilo. "Hey Zoilo, have a seat." He gestured at the pair of chairs in front of him. Zoilo sat down.
"I'm surprised to see you. What brings you here?" Nino arched an eyebrow.
"I was wondering if it was not too late to stop the divorce.”