Home > Sunrise on Half Moon Bay(10)

Sunrise on Half Moon Bay(10)
Author: Robyn Carr

He’d know soon enough, when the credit card bill came. “Let’s not waste precious time on you denying everything, Scott. There are pictures, receipts, witnesses, tons of stuff. We have to talk about how to face the future. We have kids. We have assets. I’m a lawyer and I know only too well, once lawyers get involved, we’ll be sucked dry. You clearly don’t want to be married to me anymore. And I can’t be married to a man who cheats. So how do we resolve this?”

Scott stared at her for a long time, not speaking. His lips were as thin as a wire; his temples pulsed. His eyes narrowed. He sat there frozen, looking at her with silent hatred. At that moment more than any of the other moments before, she realized she didn’t know him at all. At. All.

“This is all your fault,” he finally said.

* * *

Justine couldn’t cry. She wanted to release the valve, open the dam, scream out the pain of betrayal and rage. She’d been used! Every nickel in their portfolio and retirement accounts had been earned by her. The house they lived in—she qualified for and paid the mortgage.

She wasn’t sure when it happened, but the ability to break down and cry had been trained out of her years ago. It was a feature of practicing law. While she might not be putting away hardened criminals, she was responsible for keeping the legal affairs of a corporation in order, protecting the jobs of hundreds of employees. Still, her job wasn’t always dry and unemotional. There were times she felt the weight and pressure of the future of her company at stake, awaiting an answer from the Securities Exchange for example, and getting the wrong answer and knowing there would be grave disappointment, possible monetary losses, perhaps bankruptcy or in an extreme case, a hostile takeover. She held the legal aspect of the company in her hands, and of course she couldn’t cry about it, no matter how scared or disappointed she felt.

Scott had never been sympathetic to the pressure she felt.

But when was the last time she cried over her husband or marriage? It was probably before the girls were born. In their attempts to have a family, there had been a couple of miscarriages—those brought her to her knees. And she was sure she cried tears of joy when Amber and Olivia were born...

Oh God, her daughters! They would be so devastated by this news. They adored their father, and while she was certain she had their love as well, they were closer to Scott. After all, he was the one available to seek out for permission, to go to for favors, to call if they needed a ride or wanted to borrow the car.

It was Scott who played with them. He took them to watch games—football and hockey were their favorite sporting events. Scott taught them to play tennis and golf. They often went biking or hiking together, most of the time leaving Justine behind if it was her day to stay with her mother or if she had work to do.

The girls needed their father. But there was no way she was leaving her home! They would be heartbroken to think of their father not being there. Especially Olivia. Her girls looked very much alike with their long, thick brown hair and dark eyes, but were as different as night and day. Amber was smart and strong and fiercely independent. Now that she thought about it, Justine realized it was rare for Amber to cry, as well. But Olivia was another story. She was sensitive and emotional and would probably fall apart at the thought of her daddy not being at her beck and call.

She would have to share her daughters with their father; she would have to take over as the primary parent. She would have to do all of the chores Scott routinely accomplished. Everything she’d become used to would change.

* * *

Right after Scott told her everything was her fault, he delivered a litany of complaints about her character. She worked all the time and didn’t take adequate care of the family. He was never sure he could count on her—in her business something was always coming up to delay her or take up time at home. They didn’t agree on anything. She was stubborn and pushy. She flaunted her success. She was cold.

“Wait a minute—I am not! And when did you expect me to earn that paycheck if I wasn’t committed to the work I do?” she had asked. “If our genders were reversed and if you were a woman, a housewife for lack of a better word, you’d seem mighty ungrateful right now. And I think it’s pretty well established, you’re the one who is cold and unavailable! You’ve been with another woman. And looking back, I doubt she’s the first!”

“Let’s slow this down and talk about where this is going,” the counselor said.

The man explained that if they wanted to try to save the marriage, he could offer counseling. But if they were going to separate and perhaps divorce, he couldn’t counsel them individually. At least not both of them.

After talking and answering the counselor’s questions for half an hour, it was Justine who said, “We should separate pending divorce. I’m not completely closed to the idea of saving the marriage but I admit, it doesn’t look promising. I don’t know that I can ever trust Scott again.”

“Fine, then you leave,” Scott said.

“I’d like to suggest we have a candid talk about what we can do and how to go about it. We should both have a look at our assets and discuss options for living apart. I can take tomorrow off so we can talk while the girls are at school. We also have to talk about what we’re going to tell them.” She swallowed, and her voice was not as strong when she continued. “They’ll be very upset.”

“To say the least,” Scott said.

Chapter Four

Adele was starving. Maybe not exactly starving since she wasn’t particularly hungry. There was plenty of food in her new program, most of which could provide a steady diet for bunnies. There were some things missing, however. Chips and ice cream, which she didn’t think she ate much of until two whole days passed without a bite of either. Then she realized she must have downed them regularly.

Jake’s mother, Beverly, called to ask if she might stop by for a little visit and another reality hit her—Beverly’s cakes. At least one a month, sometimes more, she’d bring one over and Adele would eat the entire thing.

“I would so love to see you, but you must not bring a cake,” Adele said. “I’m on a strict diet!”

“But you can have one piece,” Beverly said. “No diet wouldn’t let you have one small piece.”

“I’ll make us tea or coffee. But, please, no cake!”

It was hard but she stuck to it, and at the end of her first week she was pleased to discover that four pounds had disappeared. The Monday morning group warned her not to expect that kind of progress every week, but a good, steady and small loss would add up and before she knew it, she’d reach her goal.

That day, after the meeting, she walked all the way to the beach. It must have been ten miles. When she got there, she sighed in appreciation—she’d forgotten how much she loved the beach. The fog there was just lifting, the sun pale in the sky. It brought so much comfort. It soothed her. She had walked along the beach so little while her mother was sick. She had only ever left her mother for an hour or so, usually just enough time to run an errand, maybe park at the beach for fifteen minutes and soak up the view, but never for long.

Later, after going home, she drove back to the beach so she could check how far she’d actually walked and found it was a mile and a half. Almost.

The realization that her mile and a half felt like ten gave her another wake-up call. Taking care of her mom had been hard work but not the right kind of exercise, and she’d bolstered herself with lots of extra calories. She decided to make an hour of walking every morning a part of her day.

She called Justine more often than she ever had before because she had no idea what was going on in her sister’s life. The image of Scott kissing Cat stuck like a boulder in her brain and she thought about it all the time, fearful that her sister’s marriage might be in ruins, equally fearful that her sister would look the other way.

The first time Adele called, just three days after she informed Justine of the kiss, her sister merely said she couldn’t talk about it yet because she was still in the fact-gathering stage. Only Justine would call it a fact-gathering mission when it had to do with a cheating husband. A few more days passed, and Justine said she couldn’t talk about it yet because she and Scott were working out possible options. A few days after that, Justine couldn’t talk to Adele about it yet because they hadn’t discussed their situation with their daughters.

“What is your situation?” Adele blurted.

“It’s still a little murky,” Justine said. “It has been established that Scott has had some serious doubts about the state of our marriage, but he is unclear if it can be saved or is doomed to fall prey to the statistics. We have to decide before we tell the girls.”

“Are you sure the girls don’t know?” Adele asked.

“They’re teenagers and very self-centered. All Amber can think about is school getting out for the summer and that she’ll be a senior next year.”

Adele’s nieces had been winter and spring babies, making them slightly older than the average student in their class. They had both finished their SATs, and Amber was making college applications.

“What about your visits to colleges with Amber?” Adele asked.

“Obviously we’ll have a conversation about the changes in our family before we finalize plans, but some things won’t change. My daughters will go to college, however that has to be managed...”

“Justine! Doesn’t anything just throw you? Just knock you out?”

She was silent for a moment before replying, “Wouldn’t we be in trouble if I collapsed right now?”

“What about Scott? Is he upset? Worried? Emotional?”

“He’s very angry with me. For finding him out. It seems the kayak shack bimbo has been grooming him for a takeover.”

“Holy shit!” Adele said with a gasp.

“Say nothing, do nothing, please stay calm. If I don’t handle this well, it’s going to be a full-blown crisis.”

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