I think Charles is having an affair. I’ve kept this damnable thought in my brain for weeks, but I must let it out. Oh, how I detest writing this, detest the possibility that another woman has usurped my role and gained my husband’s affections. Have I not stood by his side, given up my career, my desires—myself—all for him?? For this marriage??
Perhaps his sister’s death has driven him to pull away to the cabin he insists on visiting four days a month. Does he feel his own mortality? Is that what has changed him, made him more aloof? But it is more than that; at least I think it is. There is a detachment in his words and on his face when he looks at me—almost as if he does not see me—or wishes he didn’t. What does that say about us and our relationship? What does that say about me?? I’ve kept in shape, my face unlined, my skin supple and toned. Not a hint of gray on my head. Most men would clamor for my attention, and yet my husband does not appear interested. Why? That is the question that unsettles me.
I don’t want to know if he’s seeing someone, and yet I am driven to learn exactly what he does when he travels to the cabin in the Catskills. I’ve employed a private investigator named Lester Conroy to find out. He’s a transplanted Texan I discovered from a friend who used him. Of course, my friend didn’t need an investigator to tell her that the man she’d been married to for thirty-one years was having an affair. Any man who suddenly develops an obsession with the gym and new cologne should be under suspicion as a philanderer. But when he insists he needs time alone three nights a week? Well, that man is not spending it by himself in contemplation.
I could never tell my friend of my suspicions. I was gracious and sympathetic, just like the rest of the women in the Junior Women’s Association, but all the while I knew the investigator would come back with news of a mistress. When I asked for the investigator’s name, I said it was to gather details about my daughter’s significant other, Connor Pendleton.
Just because the Pendletons are wealthy, powerful, and well-connected, is it not prudent to employ a professional to dig around in the past of a possible future son-in-law?
Christine and Connor are the perfect couple, destined to marry and conquer the business world together. Still, it is best to know what lurks in a prospective husband’s past before making such a commitment.
Had I studied Charles’s parents a bit closer, I might have recognized the potential pitfalls in a marriage to their son. Victoria Blacksworth was a beautiful woman, the mother of three, wife to one of the most powerful, driven men in Chicago. She was also invisible. I wish I’d taken the time to get to know her, but I was too busy catering to my future father-in-law and trying to keep Charles intrigued and happy to take much notice of the reserved, soft-spoken woman who rarely attended the same social gathering as her husband. When she died of a heart attack shortly after Charles and I married, there had been a whisper or two from her sister, who claimed Victoria died of a broken heart.
Nobody dies of such a thing and I attributed this nonsensical comment to her sister’s penchant for poetry.
But two months later, when Randolph began escort a striking woman about town, rumors surfaced that they’d been “a couple” for years. Was that why Victoria’s sister had made the comment about a broken heart? Worse, had Victoria known?
Is Charles following the same path as his father? Would he dare risk losing everything? He did not inherit his father’s iron disregard for others in pursuit of personal goals. Charles is empathetic and caring, his actions well thought out. He would never take a mistress.
Would he? I’ll find out and if he has, then by God, I will not sit quietly and let another woman take my place. Absolutely not!