Four years ago, I met a young millennial CEO for a drink. Little did I know, how dangerous that day would become. How I would soon fall in love for another man, who was not my husband. And how it would lead to gut wrenching pain for the next several years of my life. I didn’t go with the intention to cheat on my husband. I think this is where the lies we tell ourselves really start to snowball. We tell ourselves it will just be a drink. Ten minutes of saying hello. Some chit-chat and pleasant conversation. And then, once the drink is over, we will say goodbye. Walk away. Never look back. And that would be the end of things.
I remember driving up to this quaint, seaside restaurant and wondering where I should park my car. I was wearing jeans, a silk top and black leather ankle boots. As I entered the restaurant, the early morning sunlight was just starting to reflect upon the water. The maitre’d asked me, “Are you here to see Mr. Beach?” I must have blushed because he had a very sweet smile on his face, like he already knew the answer (and that he knew this was some clandestine occasion). “Yes I am.” I thought he could hear my pounding heartbeat. That’s how nervous I was walking down those steps. “He’s waiting for you. Downstairs and on the right.”
It was a beautiful location, picked by CEO and it was surrounded by a multitude of boats and yachts. An adjacent boutique hotel sat on the ocean front, while the restaurant we were meeting at was located down in the marina. Every step I made to get closer to CEO, I could hear the echoing of my heels clanking upon the hardwood plank flooring. As I looked around at empty table, upon empty table, I realized we had the entire restaurant to ourselves- as if he had booked out the whole place just for us.
He was sitting at an outside table, scrolling through his phone with Prada sunglasses covering his eyes. When he looked up from his screen, he broke out into the biggest smile. Stood up. And hugged me. “Hello there Kate. It’s nice to finally meet you. I’ve ordered you a glass of Chardonnay. Here, please sit.”
He truly made me feel comfortable right off the bat. My nerves melted away as he began to talk, and talk- asking me a plethora of questions. I couldn’t help but think how normal this all felt. “I saw a Prius drive down the road. Was that you?”
“No, I don’t drive a Prius…do you?”
“No, I have a BMW.”
“Oh- those are fun. I have one too. A 5 series.”
Our conversation never dragged on. There were never any lulls or awkward silences. We were interested in everything each other had to say. It felt like a date- and I hadn’t felt like that in over fifteen years.
As our conversation continued to flow effortlessly, we opened up about work, our kids, our lives, our travels and the start-up he just sold. Looking back, and recounting this story now, I can objectively say that during the course of any long-term relationship, you lose this. You lose the ability to be so fully engrossed in another human being, like you do when you first meet someone. You just do. It’s life. There’s no debating it. It’s how the human mind works. There was an immediate magnetic pull to one another, yet there was a complexity to our relationship- where neither one of us could fully read the other. Nor knew where we stood. We were still taking information in. Still evaluating eachother.
I only had a certain amount of time that I could be there with CEO. And he knew that. So after our drinks were consumed, I was kinda shocked when he asked if he could walk me back to my car. It threw me off to be honest.
In my head, I was thinking, “But I have more time I can spend with him. He must not like me. Or I must have given him some weird vibe. ” I was really thrown off- unsure how to read him, or the situation.
When the waiter brought our check, he pulled out his credit card. I must have grimaced because my brain immediately calculated that this would leave a paper trail. And how stupid could he be? It triggered my internal “red flag” warning system. A signal, that went against my better judgement, and would go on to play a significant role in my inability to fully trust him in our relationship. My intuition said he was reckless and not intelligent enough to cover his tracks. Exactly the kind of guy who would make a terrible affair partner.
I will give CEO a bit of credit for reading my non-verbal cues immediately. Because he looked at me, and tried to reassure me that everything was OK by paying this way. “Oh don’t worry. When I sold my start-up, I had my accountant take 30k and place it in an E-trade account. This is my fun money and my wife does not see any of my business expenses. Only my accountant does.”
Whether that was true or not- I’ll never know. It did have the unintended consequence of alleviating some of the concerns I had about him. I started rationalizing that perhaps, I was a little too quick to judge. Maybe he had more discretion than I gave him credit for.
As we walked to my car, the morning sunlight gave way to the harsh and intense afternoon rays. I was still trying to calculate the situation, but my intuition said he wasn’t attracted to me. Namely, because we were all of a sudden walking back to my car and not sitting at that table ordering another drink.
And thats when he placed his arms around the small of my back, pulling me closer into him. His left hand traced the outline of my jawbone, as seagulls squawked in the distance. As my brain frantically tried to catch up to the situation, he mumbled something about, “Whether or not we would have that intense chemistry…”
When then, his soft lips met mine.
There was passion, and electricity. And we fit perfectly together. Plus, he could definitely kiss!
When we finally untangled our tongues and embrace, he stood there staring at me intently. I started fiddling with my purse, dangling my keys between my middle finger and pinky- unsure of everything that was transpiring between us. I was rapidly still taking in information about him- trying to decipher what the hell I was even doing here. When all of a sudden, he reached into his right pocket and pulled out a room key.
“A ROOM KEY?!?!?!?!?!?!” I thought. My eyes literally bulged out of their sockets. WTF?
“Five minutes. I just want to hold you for five minutes in my arms. No sex.”
I was SO caught off guard, that I was stumbling over my words. Nothing remotely intelligible could come out of my mouth in that moment. I was speechless! This was supposed to be for just a drink. Even thinking back upon it now, still makes me shake my head in disbelief. I was completely out of my element. And surprised that this man (who had never even met me), had just sunk several hundred dollars on a boutique hotel suite, on the off chance that I might say yes???
That’s pretty brazen.
And pretty stupid.
And definitely the antithesis of how my husband was back then.
When my initial shock finally wore off, he said I started laughing nervously. He would go on to recount this story several times over our relationship. And I would recount how he had this sheepish grin on his face, all while doing so. But I also distinctly remember feeling overcome with a sense that I was finally with a man who knew what he wanted. A man that wasn’t afraid to make a move. A man that wasn’t afraid to take chances. A man that wasn’t afraid to plan something. And a man who wasn’t afraid to fulfill his (or my) fantasies.
Considering the state of my marriage back then (remember my head-in-the-sand-beta-acting-husband), I couldn’t help but think, “I finally had found my alpha male.”
When I drove away, my phone pinged with a message from him. In the subject line it read: Where we first met. He had sent a photo of our table and the view he had looking out on the marina. Awe- could this alpha male have a sweet sentimental side too?
And then my phone pinged again.
“It was very nice to meet you in person. You are just as stunning as your pictures and as sexy as my dreams about you. I loved your lips against mine Kate. Thanks for meeting with me and trusting me. Looking forward to seeing you again.”
At the next stop light, I had to close my eyes, taking several deep breathes in and out. I needed to be a Mom again. I needed to resume my real life. And get back to my responsibilities. To my kids. I tried to steady my heartbeat but CEO had unleashed a flurry of butterflies.
From that point forward- my life, my thoughts, and marriage would never be the same again.