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“The most important thing is,” Gabrielle continued, “that I have always loved you, that you mean the world to me and that I will be by your side as long as you’ll have me. I know you know that I was with another man, that’s why we started using protection again, but it was one man and I’ll never see –shit. No, never be with him again.”

She paused and waited for any feedback that he wanted to give her, a grunt, physical pressure, but Adriel lay silent and inert. “I met him Memorial Day two years ago. We became friends and then more intimate. That’s over, I swear to you it is over, but we’re tied up now in ways that I need to tell you. Some good, some bad, but the deceit ends now.

“The guy that bought our drinks the other day at Bar Louie? That was him. Bill Finger. I don’t know why he did but I’m glad he did. That’s what pushed me over the edge.

“I’ve been telling myself from the day you got back from New York that straying from you was wrong. Completely wrong. But I didn’t know how to end it with him without kicking someone who’s down. That doesn’t make sense to you yet, does it? Give me a minute and I’ll try to tell you what’s happened.

“When he did that, when he saw us together and bought us our drinks, I knew that my deceit, my lies, to you were even more terrible than I had thought. That I couldn’t share simple things because if I did the horrible truth would come tumbling out. That I’d been lying to myself, telling myself that he was one small part of my life and you were, are, the big important part.

“Here’s what I want you to know. He’s old, like my dad old. I never loved him but I felt sorry for him. He’s gone through a lot. His wife was killed and then his son was kidnapped.”

Adriel’s muscles flexed in response to the statement about kidnapping.

“Yeah. That’s how I know so much about Jenny’s boyfriend Sean. He’s Bill’s son. Bill is her boss. She doesn’t know that Bill and I met before she met him. She doesn’t even know that I know Bill yet alone that we’ve been having an affair.

“Fact is one of the things that endeared him to me was that I told him about Jenn; how her husband was killed and her father-in-law was abusing her? And he reached out to her. Gave her a job. Got her back on track. He really helped her, you know? That doesn’t excuse what we’ve done, what I’ve done, I’m just explaining. I’m explaining because I need the lies to end. I need to be fully yours.

“I won’t ask you to forgive me, I won’t beg, because that’s not fair to you. All I ask right now is that you tell me to stay with you, here in our bed tonight, or leave you in pe- leave you alone with yourself to process this. I am so, so sorry!”

There was no pause between her plea and her husband’s response. The word was slurred beyond the ability of most to recognize but with her heart she knew that the sound he made was, “Stay.”

Gabrielle felt as though she had slashed and hacked and shredded their lives and marriage to ribbons and even now, even after knowing what she had done to him and them, her husband would not give up on her. “There’s always room for hope, isn’t there?” she asked as she gently took his hand in hers and joined him in his river of tears.

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