Butterflies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I looked down at Niall’s message, I felt a twinge of curiosity.  Who was this guy?  His message seemed so harmless.  So simple.  So innocent.  What could possibly happen by replying?  I didn’t get the feeling that this conversation would go anywhere, which I can say in hindsight, provided a false sense of security.  Or maybe I was already compartmentalizing or justifying my behavior.   But I definitely didn’t think at the time that this would end up in an actual, long-term affair.  I really didn’t.

Feeling confident, I hit the reply button and responded to the faceless profile photo and generic name: beachCEO

For some reason, I thought about Billy in that moment.  And how we had locked eyes across the bar and had mad chemistry at that first glance.  That was what I was chasing…not an affair.  I was chasing butterflies.

Well this would be interesting seeing as I am older than you! Hahahaha, but in all seriousness, after reading your profile, you seem to be seeking most of what I am too.  And logistically, you’re my neighbor so this could work out perfectly. But I am really picky. And what I crave is that instant attraction, the one that makes your heart flutter and you can’t wait to see them again. And I am patient, so although AM markets itself as “the place” to have an affair, so far, I haven’t found anyone “affair worthy” or worth my time.

I have only given my photo out once. I don’t keep any photos on AM. So if we chat long enough and I feel a connection, perhaps we can meet for a drink. I would send you my photo long before that of course. But the one guy who met me said I was beautiful, girl next door, refreshing, couldn’t believe I was on AM, a busy-mom-on-the-go, down to earth, and very easy going.

So tell me about yourself. What is your ideal situation? Are you married or just in a relationship? Depending on your answers, I will give you my personal email and then we can chat from there…

Hi there.  Yes, I am married.  Two kids.  I am very new to this site.  Not looking to change my situation (nor anyone else’s).  But looking to find someone I connect with mentally as well as physically.   Most importantly, I am looking for absolute discretion.   I take care of myself and hope to find someone who does as well.  Love to cook (can make a mean lamb roast) and love to travel when I’m not working.  You could say I am a bit of a foodie.  I’m an executive working in start-ups, looking to find someone special who will literally take my breathe away.

What about you?  Have you traveled much?

I hope you have a nice day 😉

Me too.  Married, not looking to change my situation whatsoever.  But I miss that spark that comes with someone new.  I am very new to this site as well.  Like I said before, I’ve only shared my photo once (the guy I met for a drink).

I’m 5’6, 135 lbs, brownish blonde hair, green eyes, tan, fit.  I am not going to say I have the body of an 18 year old.  Heck, I have had two kids!  But yes, I take care of myself as well.  I run 4-5 times a week.  Love to be outdoors etc.

I use to live in Europe, have traveled all over the world…EU, Africa, south east Asia, Oz/NZ, Fiji etc.

Discretion, of course, is part of this.  It’s imperative 🙂

Hope you have a good day as well.

 

Did you really travel to all of those places?  I’m officially jealous.  I’ve always wanted to do a safari in Africa.  You’ll have to tell me all about it when we get a drink.  My favorite country in Europe is Italy.  The food and the wine are phenomenal.  And the architecture!  You must go, if you haven’t been yet.

And I want to assure you now, that I am not interested in the body of an eighteen year old.  Chemistry matters most to me…and finding a sexy, classy woman is what I seek- which by the sound of it,  you are 😉

You must get inundated with messages all day.   I’m flattered that you responded to mine.  Tell me more about yourself.  I want to discern your tastes and know more about you.  Do you have any plans for NY’s?

Your friend,

Niall

 

Wow…he gave me his name. That’s brave.  It must be fake.  Or he is really stupid to be putting his real name out there like that.  I couldn’t help but think, “Keep your guard up, Kate.  You don’t know who this guy is.  He could be some axe murderer for all you know.”  But there is a certain level of faith one needs to have when dipping your toes into these cheating waters.  But I…wasn’t quite there yet.

Cautious.  That was me.  Niall would have to gain my trust before I would ever reveal who I was…or agree to meet in person.   I took a deep breathe, twirled a lock of hair between my fingers, then abruptly formulated my response.  Our messages, were like a tennis match, volleying back and forth in real time.

I too want that chemistry, which can be so elusive.  If I am going to cheat, it’s going to be with someone who rocks my world for lack of a better phrase.   So far most of the guys on AM are Neanderthals!

I have lived an interesting life. I am sure you have too. I moved abroad in my twenties, first Paris then London where I finally lived for about 6 years. I worked for various fashion companies. Then relocated back to the states where I continued to work.

As for NY’s, 1 party…not sure if we will go. Our sitter is sick so it will be a game day decision. What about you?  Fascinate me with your life story in a paragraph or two 😉

It was at this point, that I took a breather from our conversation.  Time was flying by and I was getting sucked into this non-stop conversation.  Which if you knew me, wasn’t really my thing.  I had things to do…miles I wanted to run.  And kids that needed tending to.  Talking to Niall was bleeding into “my time” throughout the day.  And I noticed that immediately (this is a huge warning sign of affairs).

I grabbed my running shoes and started lacing them up.  But not before refreshing my inbox one last time.  There, on the page, was a shiny golden key which Niall had sent me.  For those of you unfamiliar with how AM works, that means you’ve been sent private photos.  I immediately clicked on the message and staring back at me was a baby faced, slightly rounded face, 34 year old.  One photo was a close up in business attire while the other was a full length, in more casual clothing.  He had dark brown hair and chestnut eyes.  Was definitely taller than me but looked very, VERY young.  That wasn’t really the look I was aiming for (I wanted someone older, slightly greying- like Billy, to be honest).

I only had an instant to stare at his photos.  Because at that very moment, my husband came home and flung open our bedroom door.

I quickly turned off my computer, laced up my running shoes and headed out the door….chasing butterflies.

 

 

 

 

 

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Introducing CEO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some people know him as an Angel, Founder or simply “One to watch”. Advisor, Mentor or CEO. It’s an impressive list of monikers for a not so average millenial. But I just knew him as Niall, an incredibly intelligent, alpha male who would eventually capture my heart.

Behind his baby-faced good looks was a sexually confident man who had just enough kink and mischievousness to keep me wanting more. We met in the most inauspicious way: two little innocent words brought us together and the chain reaction was volatile, with pheromones and instant chemistry. It was in one word- electric.

Ashley Madison

But that’s getting ahead of things.

***

After a few more unsuccessful date nights with my husband (spent solemnly talking about our dismal marital satisfaction), I sat alone one morning to gather my thoughts and assess my life.

To a fine point.

Truth be told, I wasn’t entirely fulfilled. Yet I felt stuck. Missing the old Kate that I knew lurked inside me, but too burdened with responsibilities to shine any longer, I let out a guttural sigh full of longing for the woman I use to be.

I missed her. Relentlessly.

Kate, the adventurous person my husband fell in love with. The one who begged a British Airlines reservationist for a flight to Berlin, so I could spend one more weekend with the man I thought could be “the one”. Lucky for me, the supervisor was a hardcore romantic and I scored the very last seat into that country. It was a feat considering a million revelers would besiege Berlin that weekend but somehow I managed to get there. Incredulously, I negotiated my fare down to 80 quid. Did you know airline tickets could be negotiated?!? Yeah me neither, but in that moment I did everything I could to make that weekend happen, despite being broke at the time. Looking back, I shake my head in disbelief at my fearlessness. I went after everything. I never saw obstacles, only roadblocks that needed my adventurous gumption to navigate around them. And boy, did I.

I lived by the seat of my pants, fueled by adrenaline which I hadn’t felt in my veins since giving birth to my children. So as I solemnly looked around my bedroom, contemplating my life so far, I realized that something had to change. The trappings of everything we worked so hard for owned me. Adventure was replaced with monotony, which eventually became my daily existence. Coupled with my husbands infidelity, his ever growing Beta attributes and our current state of marriage, it was the perfect storm for discontentment.

No more, I thought. No more of “this”. No more “status quo”. If he won’t change and this is now my day-to-day existence, I will seek laughter and love in the arms of another. I’m done.

And that was that.

For anyone who argues that cheating begins when actual physical boundaries are crossed, I would caution against that belief. Having lived through both sides of infidelity, I know it starts in the mind where it multiples until acted upon. So I acknowledge, in hindsight, that this was the moment I turned my back on my vows.

***

I’ll never forget the day when Niall reached out to me. It was totally unexpected. And so unbelievably PC that I distinctly remember saying to myself, “Oh my gosh, he is so…normal.” I guess that was my first foray into compartmentalization, something that I wouldn’t say I am great at, even to this day. I wear my heart on my sleeve, love deep–love hard–and love passionately. If I’m having a bad day, you’ll know. If I’m sad, you’ll feel it. If I’m conquering the world, you’ll see me busier than ever. I simply don’t hide anything, nor have I ever.

Until now.

“Hey there. I noticed you lived nearby. Just wanted to reach out and say hello. I hope you had a nice Christmas.”

My heart did this funny flip-flop when I saw Niall’s message. That part was totally unexpected. It had been so long since my heart felt anything that my logic spent more time assessing just what that sensation was. “What was that? That sensation? It seems strange, yet familiar.” It took quite some time for my long-term memory to kick in but once I took a sip of coffee, it hit me while exhaling, “Ahhhhh I remember that now. Wow, I haven’t felt that since Billy locked eyes with me from across that bar.”

As I sat there staring at Niall’s words, I couldn’t help but think he was too safe. Too boring. Too average. This isn’t exactly someone who would ignite my fire, not by a long shot. And Christ-the kid was younger than me! That alone completely crossed him off my mental list of things I am attracted to.

But…he was taller than I.  Dark haired.  Lived in the general vicinity.  Successful.  Maybe I should at least reply in kind?

Get it together Kate! This–this email was nothing more than a hello, by a very average looking guy who apparently has no game. Two tin cans and a piece of string–simply neighbors swapping notes and chit-chatting about life. That’s all this is…

Oh how wrong my assumptions would be.

Placing a lock of hair through my fore finger and thumb, I twisted it gently and brushed it along my chapped lips. I needed to hop in the shower but I stared at Niall’s words, as a tiny hum reverberated throughout my heart while I wrestled with my reply. My thoughts raced with questions and statements such as, “This guy could be a complete freak, you know” and “How could you even trust that he is, who he says he is?” But I pushed aside those pessimistic thoughts and allowed CEO into my world.

There was really only one way to find out who Niall really was.

And that was to dive in…

Deep.

 

 

 

Innocent Words

Saying goodbye to Billy was the right thing to do.  But it wasn’t easy at the time.  I poured myself into running each day, while the sound of the ocean lulled my mind from the heartache I felt inside.  The constant pounding of the pavement soothed my soul more than therapy ever did, turning me into a water runner.  It became my place of solitude.  A time just for me, which was something I hadn’t experienced since having our first child.  To be honest, I never felt as if I could take a step back, away from the constant demands of motherhood.  I came last and had for a very, very long time.

Mile after mile, I tried sorting everything out in my head, hoping for answers beyond my immediate reach.

You will get through this I thought.

No. No you won’t, I would hear back.

He made your heart beat again.

Yes, I know…and now, it’s suddenly gone.

Eventually Laura’s words would invade my battling dialogue whispering, “I don’t think you’ve dealt entirely with your husbands affair.”  I would quiet her voice as much as I could, running next to the sea.  As the onshore winds pulled tear drops out from my eyes, I continued to analyze various scenarios running through my mind.  Should I divorce my husband?  If so, how and when?  Should I wait till the kids are older?  Should I just suck it up and keep plodding along hoping somehow, one day, he will wake up from his passivity towards our marriage?  How will we split our assets?  How would we manage joint custody of the children?

I was feeling the pressure mounting in my chest, as I dissected each and every question apart, looking at it from every possible angle.  The final straw was realizing that if we did indeed divorce, one or both of us, would likely re-marry.  Incorporating another person into our broken family unit is a reality both of us would have to face.  Someone else, yet unknown, would share the responsibility and privilege of raising our precious children.  That was a realization I was not ready to face or comprehend, yet it lurked in the inner recesses of my thoughts.  Urgh, I was so confused and stressed out thinking about the realities of divorce, but even more so after calling my brother for advice.

“It’s financial suicide.  The reality is over 70% of divorces are initiated by women but the statistics show, it takes a tremendous amount of time to recover from the financial impacts of divorcing.  Kiss your lifestyle goodbye, or get over it.  He’s not a bad guy.  Most men cheat on their wives at some point, he was just stupid enough to tell you.  He didn’t have to.  Give him a break.”

My brothers condescending words echoed in my head as I reached the end of my run.  My shirt clung to my body from miles of perspiration, as I recounted what he said to me the night before.  As much as I felt our marriage had run it’s course, I felt incredibly trapped.  Neither he, nor my mother, thought I should divorce.  “Well you can’t divorce him. It will mess up the kids.  That’s what is so wrong with the world, everyone just throws in the towel.  Why do you think there are so many screwed up kids now?  Because of parents divorcing just like this.  Did you honestly think it was going to be easy being married?”

Their words reverberated through my mind as I drove along the coast back home.  Every song on the radio seemed to bring me to the brink of tears, but I pushed them back, willing myself to have a positive day.  As I turned the key to our front door, I was met with complete silence.  Both kids were at school, at least for the next few hours.  I had time to myself which rarely ever happened.  Zane had just started preschool and I was adapting to this new phenomenon–absolute stillness in our normal bustling home.  As I jumped into the shower, I again heard those all too familiar words, “Honey, I don’t think you’ve entirely dealt with your husbands affair…

Laura’s voice kept haunting me until I finally turned off the valves.  Stepping out of the hot shower, I threw on my robe and walked over to my nightstand.  My pruned fingers opened the drawer and I gently lifted several robins-egg blue Tiffany boxes.  Under the boxes laid the triple-folded letters which had laid dormant for over a year.  These were my husbands confession letters, safely hidden away, for my eyes only.  The first was his initial attempt at being truthful.  The second was his updated version of events.  The third and final letter- a one page addendum if you will.

 

To my wife,

This letter is an addendum to the confession letter I provided you on May 15th, 2011.

In my first letter that I provided you, I did not disclose the whole truth.  There were sections of that letter that I left out details and others where I lied.  In the account of the New Jersey trip where I took a girl back to my hotel, I lied about using a condom.  Also, I lied about the girl leaving, as she stayed in my room that night.

I know that given the gravity and seriousness of what I had done, there was no detail that could make the confession worse.  That being said, I still chose to try to “soften” my confession by telling these lies.

This letter is to clarify that these details I had provided were a lie and to validate that everything else in the letter is accurate.

I am very very sorry to have hurt you so deeply.

Love, Me

 

It had been a long time since I read his confession letters.  But in an instant, I was transported back to being pregnant and holding these very pages, now covered in brown stain marks from the tears that originally fell upon them.  It had been over two years since he gave me these letters and during that time, I felt like we transitioned into just friends co-parenting our children.  I felt no anger towards him.  There was no malice in my heart.  I just felt indifference, really.  The reality was we were parents now.  And in terms of working well together, we did.  But the heart-stopping love that I felt on our first date was no longer there.  Truthfully, the passion I had for my soul mate died after his confession and my heart had been on life support ever since.

Seeing Billy after so many years made me realize just how far our marriage had actually fallen.  How incomplete it actually was.  And essentially how empty my heart felt.

Sitting on the edge of my bed, I reached over to my nightstand again, this time grabbing my iPad.  I started searching “husbands who cheat” or something to that effect.  Hoping Dr. Google would somehow have the answers to my marriage woes, I pressed on looking for answers.  The search results brought up marriage rebuilder websites and various betrayed spouses screaming at the rooftops about how angry they were.  On one hand, I understood their pain.  But on the other hand, that just wasn’t me or how I would ever choose to deal with my frustrations.

Reading the hatred and vile words exuding from their hearts, I had no endeavor to add rage into mine.  I needed to understand the mechanics and motives for adultery and how our marriage got to where it was.  I didn’t need to fill my time listening to strangers egg each other on about how they were somehow “better than their cheating husbands”.  From the bottom of my heart, I knew I was no better than my husband.  God taught me that we were both sinners in His eyes.  Sin is sin.  Sure, mankind wants to create a ranking system here on earth.  However, God certainly doesn’t lay it out like that.  You are a sinner too.  Laying judgment upon my husband wasn’t going to solve our problems.  It was just going to add more sin upon my own heart.  I had enough pain in there, I didn’t need to heap on more.

However, I didn’t want to listen to that advice brewing around in my mind.  I knew it.  But I didn’t want to follow it.  I wanted to run away from God because I was hurt that he would bring me this broken man as my husband.  This man God?  Really?  This is who YOU planned for me to marry?  I devoted my life to him.  And where did it get me? Last.

Shaking my head in disbelief, I called out to God and heard…absolutely nothing.

To be honest, I wasn’t even sure if God existed anymore.  With everything that had happened since moving into our home: a difficult pregnancy, being harassed by the crazy neighbor, my husbands confession, a death in the family– where was God through all of this?  I found myself wondering, “Is God even real?”

I started searching for answers and reading voraciously.  Hours worth in fact.  I finally came upon an article that captivated me.  It was the first story I had ever read, that spoke about affairs in such a way, that I finally “got it”.  It was so intense, so passion-filled that I felt like a voyeur looking through the peephole of two cheating hearts.  Naively as it was, I read on, not entirely understanding the subjects lives.  But wanting to.  Curiosity had me engrossed reading paragraph upon paragraph and just how they came to be in each others arms.  It was utterly foreign to me, this adulterous underworld they both lived in.

As I contemplated whether or not this was a work of fiction, I was interrupted by a flock of bright green iridescent birds squawking high above.  Despite their raucous behavior, I envied these parrots for they were free.  Able to fly where ever they wanted, through the canyons of Malibu to the southern tips of San Diego, they roamed the skies.  Free birds is what I called them.  And oh, how I wanted to be free.

Listening to the parrots, I turned off my tablet resting it against my smoothly shaven legs.  I sat there soaking up the sounds of nature while dismissing the lovers story as a work of fiction, too far fetched for real life.  Just a work of epic erotica, I thought.  But there was something mentioned in the article that popped back into my mind weeks later.  The details of that story would marinate in my thoughts as I ran by the sea.  Within a few weeks, my curiosity had grown to such an extent that the next time I found myself alone, I tapped away on the glass iPad keyboard two, simple, innocent words.

My life would irrevocably change from that moment on.  In retrospect, I gave up on my marriage in that very moment, for which I would profusely apologize to my husband in due time.  But that was the moment another domino fell in my life.  And they only seemed to pick up momentum as each one tumbled before my eyes.

Playing with fire will get you burned, or so they saying goes.  Mess with the bull, you get the horns is another.  I’m old enough to know better, but still crazy enough to think I can outrun them both.

And I did for a while.

Until the fire of another mans touch consumed me down to my core.

First course please.

 

 

Four Words

I wanted to see Billy and that’s the honest truth.  Had he talked to me face to face, it would have provided much needed closure on my part. But we don’t always get what we want, now do we? Sometimes, you need to roll with the waves and let things settle where they may. But that’s not how I felt then. I really wanted to talk to him face to face.

Now if you and I were sitting across from each other in this very instant, I would reach over and open a nice bottle of wine. Then hand you my phone, so you could just read the messages for yourself. Surely that would be easier than trying to convey the undercurrent of our conversations. I racked my brain over and over reflecting back upon our talks. It’s a fault of mine, but something that I rarely do unless I feel invested in the person. And I felt invested in Billy, to a certain degree. For he caused an immense physical reaction that went unabated for weeks. I just couldn’t walk away from that, knowing how infrequent that occurs in life.

But for the sake of providing more clarity and looking back upon that time, Billy and I talked about a variety of things: mutual friends, vintage cars, memories of when we were younger, work and kids. Not just mine either, but his nieces and nephews.

They lived out of state where his business was located. And each time he flew back, he stayed with them. It was actually quite cute listening to him talk about those kids, with the same amount of love that I have for mine. “We had movie day today,” he wrote while sending me a photo of two gorgeous little girls. “Omg, they are adorable. What are their names? They must love having you as an uncle. I’m sure you spoil them.”

“That’s Maggie, we call her Mads. And Ella, who goes by Ellie.” Smiling, I wrote back, “Is that Maggie in the braids then? Nevermind. Either way both are cute. Glad you stayed over the weekend, it’s obvious the girls adore you.”

Billy answered, “Thank you, and the kids aren’t that bad looking either ;-).”

A little bit of flirting crept into our conversations, which had been growing in length over that time. We always had a fair bit of banter, even when we were young. So this wasn’t unusual for us. I said to Billy that weekend, “Hope you have a nice flight home.” Billy replied, “Sometimes the pilots let me fly, so that’s awesome.” Knowing what a smart ass he was, I volleyed back “So, you get air points for flying and the mile high club? Awesome, good to know…you must be racking up the miles.” Laughing he wrote, “I wish I was a mile high club member!!!”

Not exactly hard core sexual banter, but Billy was never that kind of guy. At least not with me.

The next morning, I volunteered in Viviane’s classroom when my phone suddenly went off. It was Billy messaging me again. “The girls asked if I was going to be home by trick-or-treat time :-(.” I knew he was sad to be leaving his nieces, so I replied, “Ahhh, breaks your heart. Just wait till you have your own. It opens your heart more than you could ever imagine. It is by far my greatest achievement in life.” He replied, “I agree” while I quickly interjected, “and just for the record, I’m an awesome mom.” Billy answered, “I can totally tell…..Urgh, Southwest sucks. Just getting on my flight. Middle seat and the plane is full.”

I couldn’t help but laugh. Billy was over 6′ tall and squeezing him into any seat, coach no less, would be brutal. “Next time, try flirting with the check-in desk. Gotta use those looks before they fade–haha.” Being ever so humble, he replied, “I lost them years ago.”

“Lost them? What are you talking about. You know you’re a good looking guy Billy.” Sensing that I may have made him blush, I followed up with, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that.” He replied at the same time, “You’re awesome.”

I think I explained previously that the day Billy first messaged me, my heart didn’t stop racing. And this wasn’t for just a few moments either. All day and all night, I had it. It was really annoying but eventually, I kinda got use to it. It felt as if I was living off of adrenaline with no end in sight. That physical sensation represented something so tangible that I kept thinking, “This has got to mean…he is the one.”

Have you ever walked into a room and caught someone’s eye, only to feel in an instant that there is a real, undeniable chemistry there from the start? Well if you have, then I am sure you can relate. I am not talking about the type of attraction that builds over time. I am talking about an instant reaction that is so tangible, that it literally takes your breathe away. You both feel an incredible pull towards one another. Like magnets I tell you. At the reunion, that is exactly how Billy and I were–like magnets to one another.

So despite Laura and Kara counseling me against starting a relationship with Billy, my heart was telling me otherwise. I spent a few nights tossing and turning, reflecting back upon my marriage. And the following evening after I got the kids to sleep, I uttered four heart breaking words as my husband sat next to me on the edge of our bed.

“I want a divorce.”

No tears were shed. The words were said calmly while I looked into his eyes and explained, “I am old enough to know that people are who they are. I need a husband who is a leader and stronger than me. I know this deep in my heart. No matter what, it comes down to that core issue over and over. The way I see it, I either accept you as you are, or move on and hope I find that dynamic with someone else.”

I wish I could say he was stunned. But the truth is, he wasn’t. We had talked about my desire for him to be the leader in our marriage for many years. His affairs were forgiven. And despite putting my best foot forward and not running away the moment he confessed, I was now deciding that my happiness meant more than his or the kids. I could no longer live for them. I could no longer be defined by my role as mother, wife, volunteer and friend. I wanted to be the sexy woman that I knew I was. The one that had come back to life that fateful night I locked eyes with Billy.

As I turned off the bedside light, I flicked open my iPad and sent Billy a simple message.

“I told him I want a divorce. It’s over.”

 

 

 

Overly Attractive

It was so surreal to be opening up my heart to Billy in this way.  We hadn’t even kissed, just talked.  But I felt so strongly that he would be my husband.  That he was truly “the one” I was meant to have married.  Chemistry like that doesn’t come along often.  I felt in my heart that Billy and I would have ravishing, mind-blowing sex.  The holy grail of connections coupled with an intense love and chemistry so elusive, it’s only written about in novels or shown in films.  It was that electric between us.

I continued, “Whether we end up together or not, I can’t say.  But I deserve to have a faithful husband.  And that is all I truly want in the end”.  He said, “You totally do.  But I’ll tell you what I told Anna.  That decision has nothing to do with me and you need to make that decision as if I was never born…And if I’m around, I’m around.”

Our flurry of messages stalled.  I didn’t know what to say.  So I sat there reflecting back on my husbands confession.   Pondering my age and questioning if I had the wherewithal to endure a divorce, when Billy finally replied.

“I do find you overly attractive.  But I’ve been in this once before.  It caused all kinds of problems for all kinds of people.  And I can’t do it again.  No one can blame you for doing that.”

It wasn’t exactly the response I was expecting.  And it confused the hell out of me to be honest.  I felt like he didn’t want any part of me divorcing, but once I was single, if he was still single, then yeah, something would happen between us.  In a nutshell, he was leaving the door wide open.

I didn’t know what to do at this point.  And ironically, both Kara and Laura eventually called to discuss the party.  Kara started with, “Honey, I just want to come right out and ask you something.  How is your marriage?  You’ve been on my mind for the past two weeks but I’ve been so busy with the kids.  I meant to call you earlier.”

Fucking Kara!  Her gifting, as they say, is intuition.  At several junctions throughout my life, she is like having a conversation with my conscience.  Which is why, during my affair with CEO, I rarely took her calls.  I just knew the truth she would be speaking and frankly, I wasn’t ready to give that relationship up.  But that’s getting ahead of things.

I really wanted to talk to her about Billy, so in that moment, I finally opened up.  Very few people really know me, struggles and all.  But Kara is one of them, which is ironic because we see each other maybe three times a year.  Perhaps it’s because she has known me since I was a kid.  Whatever it is, she can pry me open like a can of sardines.  “Kara, things aren’t going so well.  And I am starting to have feelings for someone else.”

“I know who you are talking about…”  She said, “It’s Billy huh?”

My heart dropped.  “How did you know?”

“Sweetie, I could see the chemistry between you two at the reunion.  He spent the most time talking to you.  There was an obvious connection.”

So I told her everything about Billy.  I explained how he had reached out to me.  How we had been emailing back and forth.  And how I was utterly confused as to what to do.  She replied, “You’ve always clicked.  This goes all the way back to Miss Blain’s 7th grade English class.  Don’t you remember the three of us sitting at the back of her class talking?  You guys had a connection way back then.”  Honestly, I didn’t even remember that.  I still don’t. But she is that friend that remembers everything about everyone, going back to when we were little kids.

The next call came from Laura.  Kara must have filled her in because she phoned the following morning.  I sat in my car, with tears in my eyes, confused because I really wanted to talk to Billy face to face.  But he was being distant, and not his usual self.  My heart was racing uncontrollably and I felt as if it would never stop.  Laura gave me two pieces of advice.  The first one being, “You know, your emotions will change over time about this.  Our emotions can and will deceive us.”  My rebuttal was, “Well I have always followed my gut.  And that has never happened before.  I mean I get what you are saying, but my gut has never steered me wrong in this way.”

“Start exercising.  Do something every day.  It will help stabilize your emotions about this whole situation.”  Looking back now, I can say emphatically, that it was great advice.  And I took both to heart, in the deepest of ways.

I started walking, then running.  Religiously.  That first month, I logged 125 miles.  I ran as much as I could.  Even if it was just ten minutes, I carved out time just for me.  Something I hadn’t done since before I had kids.  And I quickly realized, just how much I had missed it.  And how much I loved running again.  It was the only time where my heart got back to a regular rhythm.  For sure, it sorted out my head.  During that entire time, Kara and Laura were there counseling me.  “I know how much your husband hurt you, but I do believe God can restore your marriage.  I think you forgave too soon and perhaps, this connection with Billy isn’t so genuine after all.”

Both Kara and Laura told me to unfriend Billy immediately.  And they went on to say, “Although Billy was a great kid growing up, he’s actually kind of a trippy guy now.  He can’t even give you close to the life you lead.”  And they were right, he couldn’t.  Deep down I knew.  But it took them verbalizing this for it to sink in.

Collectively, we agreed that Billy would always be a bachelor filled with wanderlust.  Never willing to truly commit to another or settle down.  They were right.  Plus I knew leaving my husband would be financial suicide.  We worked so hard to get where we were in life.  It would ruin our kids and turn facets of our lives for the worse.  If I thought things were difficult in my marriage now, they would be compounded once divorced.

But I still didn’t want to let Billy go.  I simply…couldn’t be the one to unfriend him.

 

 

The Party

“We’re throwing a post-Halloween party at Laura’s house.  Everyone had so much fun at the reunion and wants to hang out again.  You in?”  Billy waited all of three seconds to reply.  “Why don’t we just show up at Laura’s house one random night, like a flash mob.  That would be hilarious.”

“Umm, yeah…well for single people that works.  But for those of us with kids, it’s….not so great.  These things have to be planned Billy.  How does the first weekend in November sound?”

“DEAL!!!”

And so the wheels were set in motion.  There was going to be a party.  A soiree of sorts.  And for sure, I would be seeing Billy very, very soon.  Tasked with contacting everyone, I was constantly in touch with him (Guess who can make it? Oh so-and-so can’t come etc.).  One day I noticed a beautiful photo show up in my newsfeed and it was his.  It was a place he hiked to- a peaceful, serene, nature kind of shot.  The kind that speaks to my soul as I love getting away from civilization.

We talked more and more that day, until eventually our conversation rolled into the evening.  I have always been the night owl.  My husband?  Not so much.  Looking back, I can say we had a few break through conversations, very deep, very personal.  I confided in Billy about my husbands infidelity, something very few friends even knew about.  I explained I initially wanted to leave him, but I was barely pregnant with Zane.  I felt vulnerable after he confessed.  Scared.  And yet steely in my determination to not let my family be torn apart, let alone have my children affected by his indiscretions.

Billy asked how things were now.  I explained things were rough.  He replied, “I reckon not quite the same”.  And he was right.  They weren’t.  It had been two years since the confession and over that time, I made a conscious decision to forgive.  I said it so many times that eventually it became my reality.  I let go of the anger.  I honestly came to terms with what had happened and moved on.  Friends that knew were enthralled we stayed together.  And in fact, I think I was as well.  You could say, with certainty, that we were creating a new marriage.  A more honest one.  Where I knew the “real” person I married, not the fantasy I had been living under all these years.

But there was also a new element to our marriage post-confession.  One that got under my nerves more than anything else.  I suddenly had a “yes” husband.  I can’t describe it any other way than to say he had become….a wet noodle.  He had no backbone whatsoever.  And despite being the leader in our marriage, I too needed a soft place to rest my head.  I wanted someone stronger than me.  Someone to be the leader in our marriage.  This wasn’t something I just wanted on a whim.  I had desired this dynamic our entire marriage.  But now, I craved it.  Immensely.  Like in the most primal of ways.  It had always been lacking in our marriage, but I had somehow been able to quell those desires.  But post-confession, my husband changed.  And I needed and wanted that alpha-male leader dynamic more than ever.

I guess you could say a seed was planted that evening.  A woman not entirely happy with her marriage is an easy target to lay claim to.  This much, I know.  I found myself still having this racing heart beat, ever since Billy’s first message landed in my inbox.  I thought for sure it meant something.  In fact, I was positive it was a sign.  A sign that somehow, I had made a terrible mistake in marrying my husband.  Perhaps Billy was really “the one”.  How else could I explain the 24/7 racing heartbeat?  This wasn’t some school girl crush kind of thing either.  In fact, I had only felt this once before, which confused me down to my core.

The night of the party arrived and I was late.  When I arrived and saw his car, I immediately knew he was inside.  Laura later confided in me that Billy was the very first person to show up, something that struck her as odd.  In hindsight, I’m certain that he wanted to see as much of me as he could that night.

I came into the party but had my hands full of food, bags etc.  So it took me a while to set things up.  I caught him staring at me out of the corner of his eye.  But I kept busy with the things I needed to do before socializing.  As it turned out, he never came up to me.  I made my way around to all the guests, thanking them for coming, talking about how great the reunion was etc.  But eventually, I finally greeted him, giving him a hug and a light kiss on the cheek.  For talking so much everyday, I was taken aback by his lack of enthusiasm.  He definitely was keeping his distance.  And acting like a shy little school boy around me.  I finally approached him saying, “You haven’t even come up to say hello, stranger.”  Without missing a beat, Billy replied, “I was being a gentleman and waiting my turn.”

As he reached forward and gave me an obligatory side kiss on the cheek, the awkwardness only continued.  If I was on one side of the party, he seemed to be on the other.  If I was inside the house, he seemed to be outside.  We were, in essence, doing a dance…of avoidance.

If I left to go inside the house, I would see him checking me out.  He would pretend to be knee-deep in conversation, yet stealing glances to check out my ass.  So I returned the favor by pretending to have the most fabulous conversations, with laughter beyond words.  But deep down, I felt sick to my stomach.  This party was not turning out the way I envisioned and I was actually starting to feel quite sad.

Closer to midnight, a group of people were congregating in the garage and he was in there.  So I decided to join them, resting my body right next to his.  He, leaning against the washer.  Me, the dryer.  As if on queue, everyone suddenly left the garage.  And we found ourselves alone, the first time ever since reuniting after all these years.  It was unbelievably quiet.  He stood up and looked at me with lustful eyes.  I finally broke the ice saying, “There is so much I want to say to you…”  He took in a deep breathe and sighed, shifting his weight from foot to foot.

“Look Billy, I am not some young girl in high school.  I know what I want…”  He stepped a few feet away from me, looking at me again.  I had the most incredible butterflies swirling around in my chest.  That feeling you get when falling in love.  Yeah that one, coupled with pent up sexual desire and excitement rolled into one.  “Just kiss me” I said boldly.  He replied, “I can’t. Someone could walk in.”

So I instantly turned around and made a bee line for the garage door, planning to lock it.  He stopped me, while I said, “I don’t care.”

“Well I do.  What if someone comes in and sees us?  Do you know how awkward that is going to be for me?  And besides, your husband is like 10 feet away on the other side of that door!”

Reluctantly, I turned toward him leaving the door unlocked.  “Well are you attracted to me then?”  And like a man taking his last breathe of air, he replied, “Am I attracted to you?  Do you even know what I want to do to you right now???!!!  I wish I could…”

And just like that, the door flung open.  And party goers were flooding back into the garage.  Our only moment alone was now fractured and we would never be alone again.  We parted ways but the sideway glances…the staring from a distance…continued till the wee hours of the morning when the party finally dismantled at 5 a.m.

 

 

 

The Prelude

As I sat across from my husband, nursing a hangover, I kept thinking about how “Billy wants to be friends”.  I was mentally trying to figure out how he found me, in between bites of my breakfast.  Like a Polaroid going off in my mind, I suddenly recalled the bartender taking a group photo from the night before.  That must have been it.  Jeff must have tagged me.

You could hear the clanking of our silverware, as we continued with our breakfast.  Him, bacon and eggs.  Me, hash browns and coffee.  Not much has changed in fourteen years of marriage.  I can predict my husbands wants and desires like a weatherman predicts tomorrow’s California sunshine.  We were both utterly exhausted, so no words were exchanged.  This wasn’t the first late night between us.  We actually met at an underground club in Europe.  And not your ordinary club in the American sense.  This place was legendary for hardcore music lovers who had been up for two days.  A Sunday afternoon session if you will, to cap the weekend off.  But those days were long behind us.  And had been from the start of our marriage.  However, it felt eerily familiar to be this narcoleptic sitting across from him.

[click here to ACCEPT] kept popping in my mind.  That, and wondering if Jeff had really posted the group photo.  My curiosity grew as my stomach swelled full and I finally reached for my phone.  Sure enough, I was right.  There on Facebook was the photo from the previous night.  I was surrounded by my dearest girlfriends from twenty years ago, while Billy stood directly behind me…smiling.

I would look at that photo several times in the coming weeks, wondering if I should finally leave my husband.  Wondering if my marriage had completely run it’s course.  I didn’t know how else to reconcile the racing heartbeat that never stopped.  I had that exact same feeling when I met my husband, which I took as a sign.  A sign that somehow, I had made a terrible decision in marrying my husband.  And that perhaps, Billy and I were meant to be together.

But Billy knew I was married.  For the duration of our meal, I rationalized that perhaps I had misinterpreted everything at the bar.  And adding me, to the other 2158 “friends” Billy had, likely meant nothing to him.  So I accepted his friendship.  In one click, we were reconnected.

It took all of three days for Billy to contact me. Very PC of course.

“Good to see you!  You haven’t aged at all.  Your husband is rad too.  Next time I’m up that way, maybe we can meet at the brewery.  You guys get a sitter.”

I broke out in the biggest grin replying back, “Yeah I feel the same.  I really was surprised to see you.  In all honesty, I thought you were someone’s husband and not alumni.  You look so different than how I remember you.”

Without missing a beat he replied, “Ha.  Reynolds didn’t even recognize me.”  All the guys referred to each other by their last names.  It started back in junior high, when the boys PE teacher called them out by their last names during drills.  It stuck.  And to this day, that’s how they refer to one another: Reynolds, Weaver, Fuller and Collins.  They were thick as thieves at one point.  But time had distanced everyone from each other.

And so our friendship began.  It was mostly benign stuff, like comparing notes about the reunion.  Did you talk to this person or that person?  Wasn’t that person funny?  But eventually our chit-chat turned more personal, like most people’s would after you’ve flushed out all the boring stuff.

One morning, I was told that a classmate was murdered and it floored me.  I immediately sent Billy a message.  “I just heard about her passing.  Did you know?”  He immediately got online to talk.  “Whaaaat?  When?  How?”  I quickly replied, “All I know is she was murdered.”  Billy wrote, “So sad.  I liked her.  Urgh, I’m reading about it online.  So so sad.”

A few days later, my husband took the kids to a soccer game.  So I had time to myself which rarely happens.  Pouring myself a glass of wine, I logged back in and Billy sent me a message.  “Hiiiiiiiiiii.  What are you doing?”  “Just sitting her with a glass of wine. Everyone went to a soccer game.  I’m actually alone for once which never happens. You?”

“Sitting at a bar watching the World Series.  It’s empty.  Too many Halloween parties.” Billy wasn’t in California.  He was back east, a trip he made several times a month to oversea business.  Wondering where he would rather live, I asked, “Do you like being back there?  Or are you a So Cal guy at heart?”  He said, “Ha!  I only ever “visit” here, even when I moved.  I’ve never lived further than four miles from the house I grew up in.  Except when here.”

“So your parents are still in town?” I asked.  Billy replied, “My mom is.  Old man died a few years ago.  Same house across from school.”  Regretfully I said, “I’m sorry Billy.  I didn’t know.  We put mine in a home.  Twelve brain surgeries, two comas, nearly died a few times.”

“That’s tough.  At least mine went quick.  Died on his motorcycle surrounded by his friends, with the sun on his face.  Kinda awesome.” Collecting my thoughts, I finally replied, “You can’t ask for a better way to go.  Surrounded by your friends, doing something you love.”  Billy paused and finally replied, “True.  Very very true.”

I should probably share that Billy has a penchant for restoring vintage cars.  Or rather an obsession for a certain German manufacturer.  It started with his father and migrated down to him.  One day, he shared some old B&W photos of his Dad leaning against one of his prized possessions.  It was definitely unexpected.  Quite sweet and nostalgic.  And in that moment, I realized just how much his fathers death had impacted him.  He missed him.  And I understood.  For although my father was still alive, he was completely brain damaged.  I lost him in every way, except the physical.

A few days passed and Billy sent me more photos.  Only this time, it was inside his business.  Maybe he was trying to impress me.  Who knows.  I wish I could divulge more because it’s interesting.  And especially for someone like him.  You could say our friendship was getting closer at that point.  Although I yearned to see him again, I figured it would be another decade until that would happen.

My phone rang.  It was Kara.  “I’ve been so busy honey, but I’ve been wanting to call you.  The reunion was so much fun.  Now everyone wants to hang out again.  How about me, you and Laura throw a Halloween party?”