My eyes flooded with tears as I saw photo after photo of my husband with different women. Each picture broke my heart even more as I saw him give his affection, attention, and time away to someone he did not vow to love and to cherish. The pain took over a portion of my brain. Without any effort, the betrayal and pain stole every part of me, my reality, my light, my heart. I found it hard to comprehend what this all meant and how I ended up in this situation, my marriage falling apart.
Carlos and I have been married for 3 years, together for a total of 5 years. I’ve known him for 11 years, well, I thought I knew him. Up until a few months ago, I thought we were happy. I always felt something wasn’t right with Carlos, but I didn’t have any leads or proof. There was this disconnect that I couldn’t grasp. Initially, I thought maybe he was busy with his new job promotion and responsibilities. Being a housewife, I figured perhaps I was bored and allowed my imagination to run wild. I hoped that I was wrong, and my intuition was just a misunderstanding. Obviously, I was mistaken.
As I sat in the office of the investigator that I hired, I wiped my eyes with the sleeve of my sweater. Then I looked at each photo again, taking in more details. In one photograph, he was at dinner with an exotic looking brunette getting really cozy. In the next picture, he was kissing a pretty woman with platinum blonde hair. The third picture, he was holding hands in the park with a brown skin beauty with chestnut brown curls. So far, it was three women with whom he was involved. I prayed there weren’t more.
After seeing the truth with my own eyes, I was left to wonder when did he have the time to do this. How could he sustain a marriage with me and have affairs with three other women? He came home every night. It was late sometimes, but he was in our bed every night and morning. We had sex regularly, though not as often as before. My mind searched for any clue of when this could have started. I wondered what was so wrong with me that he would be unfaithful and break our trust. I couldn’t help but cry even more, ruining my makeup.
Kareem, my investigator, gently grabbed my hand in an attempt to comfort me. I glanced at his hand and, then really looked at him. He’s tall, dark as in dark brown skin, and handsome, but he didn’t flaunt it. He always dressed simply and had a very laidback demeanor. I guess it came with the job of always needing to blend in and never stand out. He was approachable but extremely honest. I knew he pitied me. When I hired him eight weeks ago, he tried to warn me about facing the truth. I thought I was ready. Deep down I knew something was wrong. There were subtle signs, but I thought my husband loved me more. I expected the possibility of one affair but not this.
Kareem handed me some tissue to clean my face, I checked back into reality. I quickly wiped my face. Then he cleared his throat and handed me another file full of photographs.
“This is my most recent work. This is from two days ago,” he said, leaning back into his chair.
“Oh,” I hesitated.
I slowly opened it, expecting it to be one of the women I saw before. It was him and his business associate, Emiko, having sex in his car at work. That hurt even more because I knew her. She visited our home. She ate dinner with us a few times. I even helped her plan business luncheons and dinners. She seemed to be a sweet and nice person. I never would have expected her to have sex with my husband, or any type of inappropriate contact. I was angry more than hurt. No, I was devastated, and I felt sick to my stomach. I didn’t want to see any more pictures. There was no more proof needed. I quickly put everything back into the beige envelopes and placed them into my new Hermes bag. Then I reached for my matching wallet.
“Thank you for your time. How much do I owe you?” I said, ready to hand him my credit card.
“Nothing. You already paid my fees in March when we first met,” he reminded me.
I forgot that I already paid him. He leaned forward and gave me another envelope. It was smaller but heavier this time.
“This is an audio file... With this you’ll get everything you want if you decide to divorce him or stay.”
“Thank you,” I said, stuffing it into my purse.
I stood up ready to leave. He reached for my hand, stopping me. I was curious if he had even more envelopes to give me. Obviously, my husband is a serial cheater.
“Mrs. Saldana, it was nothing you did to make him do this. Some guys are just jerks and don’t realize what they have until it’s gone... I’m simply saying don’t let this break you. You are a beautiful and intelligent woman. You deserve better,” he consoled.
Kareem wasn’t interested in me or any other woman, so I knew he meant what he said. I still didn’t feel beautiful. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Something had to be wrong with me for Carlos to be with four other women.
“Call me Camry, please... Well, I appreciate your kind words and what you did for me. I can’t thank you enough,” I said, picking up my purse again.
“You are welcome, Camry. You take care. Please feel free to call me for anything.”
After a muffled goodbye, I headed to my car. I threw my bag onto the passenger seat. As I sat, I pulled the mirror down to check my makeup. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it wasn’t perfect. The façade of the picture-perfect wife I clung to was crumbling. I reached for my purse and grabbed my makeup bag. I touched up my makeup and just sat there.
I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I didn’t want to go home and face the truth that my marriage was most likely over. I love Carlos. I really wanted us to work, but I can’t accept his cheating. I felt so conflicted. I wasn’t ready to leave. I didn’t even know if I could. I felt extremely stupid for allowing myself to become so dependent on him. I haven’t worked for almost three years. A few months after we got married, I injured my arm and shoulder playing tennis with his work colleagues. When I finally was ready to go back to work, Carlos convinced me not to return. He wanted to take care of me for sticking with him when he didn’t have a dime. Since I grew up very comfortably, I had everything I needed and most of my wants. He always wanted me to maintain my former lifestyle. Though I appreciated him for providing for us, I never cared if he didn’t come from money. I just wanted him.
My phone vibrated in the center console. I picked it up and saw that my husband was calling. He rarely called me during the day. Now that I thought about it, I don’t remember the last time he called me. I cleared my throat and answered.
“Hello, Carlos,” I said dryly.
"Hey, sweetheart. Are you home?"
“No, I’m running errands.”
"Oh, I was wondering if you wanted to go to dinner tonight? We haven’t spent time with each other in a while.”
He doesn’t spend time with me because he’s so busy with other women. I did not want to see him, anyway. I thought about what excuse I could make up to get out of it.
“I actually have plans with a designer. A company is interested in my sketches. Maybe next time,” I lied.
"That’s good... Well, I’ll see you when you get home. I love you."
I cringed when he said that. He did not love me. There was no way he could do the things he did and claim that he felt something for me.
“I’ll see you later... Bye, Carlos.” I sighed.
I ended the call and put my phone in my purse. I started my car and pulled off. I didn’t know where I was going, but I needed somewhere to go. I wish I had a real meeting to attend, and someone was interested in any of my designs and sketches. I should have never given up my dream for him.
I ended up getting on the freeway heading toward downtown Los Angeles. As I was approaching the downtown exits, I thought about going to the fabric district to take a look and possibly buy some new fabric and buttons for a few designs I had in mind. I took the next exit and headed there. Then I found a parking spot in the street right in front of my favorite fabric store. When I got out of the car, the aroma of carne asada, beans, onions, and salsa flooded my nostrils. I was starving. I usually didn’t eat anything with carbs or fat in an attempt to stay thin for my husband. He never complained about my previous size 12 body, but I saw the way be looked at other women that were thinner. He exclusively dated thin women when we were just friends. So, before our wedding, I made it down to a size 6, and I have been almost killing myself to stay this size.
For once, I didn’t care about my weight or size. I ordered four street tacos with beans, rice, and extra guacamole and salsa. I even got some tortilla chips. I ate happily in the small mom and pop restaurant. After eating the delicious meal, I headed to the shops, looking for the right fabrics for my next project. I took my time and browsed each store. I bought everything I liked as well as buttons, threads, and zippers. I was determined to pursue my dreams and passion from this point on.
On the way to the car, I felt nauseous. I figured that I ate too much or the greasy, but delicious food didn’t agree with my stomach. I took a deep breath before I quickly loaded up the car. Just when I was about to get in the car, I vomited next to the curb. I thought I would feel better after I upchucked all that food, but I didn’t. I found some water in my trunk and rinsed out my mouth. Then I took a sip. I sat in the car for a while and tried to get myself together.
I realized every evening for the last week I’ve been feeling nauseated. At first, I thought it was a stomach virus, but I didn’t have any other symptoms. I figured it was anxiety from wondering if Carlos was cheating. Now I knew for sure its stress. Everything that happened previously was still difficult to process. I didn’t want to deal with it yet. It was best for me to go home and relax. Carlos wasn’t going to be there anyway. He was probably with one of his women.
I headed to our new larger home that we just purchased seven months ago. Last October, we moved from Carson to Long Beach in a neighborhood called University Estates. Carlos’s new office was in Orange County, so the move was more convenient for him and cut his commute time in half.
When I pulled into the garage, his car was here. I was a bit disappointed. I took the envelopes of all his cheating and placed them under my seat. I wasn’t ready to confront him yet. I wanted to see if he would confess on his own or if he even felt guilty about it. Then I grabbed my bags and purse and went into the house. I went straight to my sewing room and put my things down. That nauseous feeling crept back up again. I rushed to the nearest bathroom to vomit again.
“Cam! Baby, is that you?” Carlos yelled.
“Yes!” I yelled as I wiped my chin with a towel.
I stood up and went to the sink to rinse out my mouth. I gargled a few times and when I looked into the mirror, I saw his reflection. It startled me because I didn’t even hear him come in. His dimples were deep, and his amber brown eyes shined with happiness, a contrast from sadness and disgust within my deep brown eyes. I masked that pain and looked away from him.
“Cam, are you sick?”
“No... not really. I guess it was something I ate.”
“If you asked me, I think you are pregnant. You have been very picky about what you want to eat lately. And I don’t remember the last time you had a period,” he said, placing his arms around my waist.
“I didn’t know you cared that much about me to notice anything,” I scoffed.
“What? Of course, I care about you. I love you. If you are carrying my baby that will make me so happy.”
He rubbed my belly and kissed the top of my head. I hated his touch because I knew I wasn’t the only woman he touched anymore.
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’ll go to the doctor and see what’s going on. I’m tired. I’m going to get some rest. Good night,” I said, pulling away from him.
“Okay, mi amor. I hope you feel better.”
I gave him a fake smile and went to our bedroom. I went to my closet and undressed. As I got ready to take a shower, I thought about the possibility of being pregnant. He seemed so excited about it. I wondered if a baby would help us get back on track.