Katelyn insisted on driving home alone, refusing even Martha's company. “Just wanna be by myself. That bastard’s ruined my evening.”
Dan came up. Martha took his hand. “We’ll come see you tomorrow."
The next day, Katelyn woke at half-past eleven. She had time to shower and put on makeup—something she’d come to enjoy--before the doorbell rang. A peek through the window told her Martha had
She reached the receiver and dialed downstairs. “Hey, is that Rose? Please ask Martha to wait for me at the lounge upstairs.”
Katelyn, with freshly done ponytail and a glowing face, descended and met Martha at the lounge door. Dan was a few meters behind her.
“Hey, you’d pass for a twenty-year-old.” Martha hugged her.
“Oh, look at you, stunning as always.” Katelyn stepped back and stretched a hand to Dan. “Hey, we meet again.”
Dan shrugged and moved closer with open arms. “This is unfair, only Martha gets a hug?”
Martha rolled her eyes. “Oh, don’t use me as an excuse to get closer. By the way, are you stalking me? I didn’t expect to see you.”
“How I wish… But we agreed to meet here at one. Didn’t we? I always try to keep time,” said Dan.
Katelyn stepped back. What was he up to? He’d never been this affectionate in the past. Hopefully, he didn’t get the wrong impression last night. She flopped onto the couch and crossed her legs,
then followed Dan's gaze. Showing more of her legs than she intended, she quickly rearranged her skirt.
With the maids’ help, Mademoiselle Rosa set the table. Katelyn tried engaging them in conversation, but Dan's gaze threw her off. She should put a stop to whatever might be cooking in his mind.
What happened between him and Martha? Were they not dating? Maybe they changed their minds now that their children were getting married.
Katelyn warmed herself with a cup of tea between her palms. “Well, yesterday I must’ve taken a little too much, uh, and made a fool of myself.” She blew away the steam over the cup. “Just wanna
apologize for sending the wrong message. You guys know what I'm going through isn’t easy.”
Martha leaned forward. “No need to apologize. You really got into Justin’s nerves and he hasn’t seen shit yet. He must pay for what he did.”
“Oh, please, let’s not talk about him. The mention of his name makes me wanna spew.” Katelyn hid her watery eyes.
As hard as she tried to hate Justin and convince herself their marriage had been a mistake and she never wanted him back, the more she realized how much she needed him. Yes, she wanted to make him
jealous, but only for as long as it took to make him come to his senses and beg her forgiveness. If she achieved this with Dan, well and good, but nothing more. She was incapable of loving any
Dan rubbed his forehead. “I just don’t understand what’s wrong with us men.” He slurped his tea, which Katelyn found to be rude. "I mean, Katie, you're kind, hardworking, and lovely. I can't
understand why Justin would cheat on you."
Martha’s eyes lit up. “Do tell me something. Why can’t you men be faithful to one woman? Aren’t we the same? Why poke your sticks everywhere?” She pulled a handkerchief from between her bosoms and
sponged her face. “I don’t get it. Men are all the same. Show me one faithful man and I’ll tell you with certainty the end of the world is nigh.”
“Excuse me?” Dan half-shrugged. “Which men have you been dealing with? I’ve been faithful to one woman my entire married life.”
Martha shook her head. “I don’t believe you.”
Neither did Katelyn at first, but seeing his stern expression convinced her. But there was more to a man than faithfulness.
Katelyn said, “You’re one in a million.”
“I still can’t wrap my head around it, but what men forget is that we are better cheaters if they give us a reason,” said Martha.
Katelyn let out a sarcastic laugh. “Are you talking from experience?”
Before Martha could reply, Justin entered the room.
He sat beside Katelyn and gave Dan the finger. “I’ve heard everything. Are you trying to hit on my wife? Huh? In my house?”
A certain joy shrouded Katelyn, seeing her husband jealous. “And what’s wrong with that? Do tell me, it’s not even a dot of what you did.”
“Katie, please, come let’s talk. I don’t want to cause a scene.”
“There’s nothing to talk about. We’re having a good time here. Just leave us alone and go back to that bitch.”
“Katie, I insist,” Justin said. “It won’t take long.”
“Leave me alone.”
Justin took her arm and tried to lift her up.
“You’re hurting me. What part of leave me alone don’t you understand?” Katelyn tried to pull her hand free but he tightened his grip. “Ouch.”
Justin had never been violent with her, but Katelyn knew he would go to any length to defend his family.
Dan stood. “You can’t force her to talk to you.”
Justin jumped to his feet and punched Dan in the jaw hard enough to draw blood. Then he jerked Dan's head down into his rising knee. Something gave a blunt crack. When Dan straightened, nose
bleeding, arms flailing, Justin punched him in the gut.
Katelyn jumped to her feet. "Justin! Stop!"
Dan regained his footing and swung for Justin's eye. Her husband dodged back, then swung and missed. Dan kicked him hard in the gut.
This slowed Justin just a little, but he kept moving forward. “Is that all you got?” A flying kick sent Dan sprawling.
“Oh my God, you’ll kill him.” Katelyn threw herself at her husband while Martha crouched next to Dan, who'd stopped moving.
Katelyn’s phone rung.
It was Elizabeth. “Rose just called… Are you okay? We’re on our way. Are they still fighting? I’m calling the police—“
“No. No. No. Don’t call the police. Everything’s fine. I’ll talk to you later.” Katelyn disconnected. She met Justin’s gaze and was embarrassed for showing she still cared for him.
"Sorry. I--I don't-- I didn't mean--" Justin said.
"I'm calling the police!" Martha’s voice shook as she wiped the blood from Dan’s face. "My god, what have you done!"
“No, don’t call the cops.” Dan struggled to his feet and zeroed on Justin. “You just made the worst mistake of your life.”
With Martha’s help, he staggered downstairs. Elizabeth ran passed them, Ambrose trotting behind.
“Hey, are you okay?” Elizabeth pressed Katelyn’s hands and turned to Justin. “What’s the meaning of all this?”
Justin took a deep sigh, and without saying a word, went outside. Ambrose followed.
“We can sit here,” said Katelyn, slumping on the couch.
She turned from her sister's gaze. "Don't. I don't want to hear it." She didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for her—no wonder she’d become fond of Martha of late. She abhorred that talk of Christian
forgiveness which her sister was sure to talk about. But unconsciously, that was the only thing that made sense to her--forgiveness. If Elizabeth pursued this line, the truth, she would succumb,
yet in her wounded state, lying to herself comforted her.
Katelyn was happy she could freely talk to Elizabeth but was at the same time angry at the prospect of disclosing her humiliation. Her head ached.
“Katie, I’m so sorry, but one thing’s for sure. He still loves you. It’s stupid what he’s done, but it clearly shows he does love you.”
“You don’t have to be sorry, he can’t hurt me anymore. I’ve developed a thick skin.”
“Don’t try to pretend, Katie... you're a different person now. Maybe it's the makeup or your attitude, but he's fighting for you.”
Katelyn brightened. “Oh, I’ve been feeling so good under my skin since I stopped feeling sorry for myself and started going out. He’s just hurting because I’m happy, ah, he expected me to suffer…
which I did for some time, but not anymore.” She took out a bottle of white dry Sauvignon from the fridge and poured herself a glass. “Life has never been this good. I’ve never tasted such freedom.
Have some tea. I know this is blasphemy for you.”
At the left of the table stood a little silver tea-kettle on a standard of the same metal. Dainty cups and saucers of eggshell china were grouped about it; a miniature silver tray held a
sugar-dish and a cream-pot and a half-dozen gold-lined souvenir spoons. Bending her shaven head over the tea things, Elizabeth fixed herself a cup of tea.
She sat back, holding the cup in her hands. “Honey, don’t get me wrong, but you know why you like me? I’m always straight up with you—”
Katelyn emptied her wineglass and refilled it. “I can guess where you’re headed with this.”
“C’mon now, I can see it in your face… you miss him.”
Katelyn emptied the wine in another gulp. She wanted to get tipsy, but the wine was too slow for her. “Hold on a sec.” She exchanged the bottle of wine with whiskey.
“Honey, you’re drinking too much.”
“Don’t worry about me… really, I mean it.”
“You can fool anyone but me. You still love him. Yes, he messed up big time, and I’m not defending him, but things can’t continue like this.”
Katelyn lifted her glass, then lowered it without sipping. She plopped an elbow on her lap and rested her chin in her hands. A few seconds passed without a word from her.
Elizabeth cleared her throat. “Let’s go talk in your bedroom. It’s more private there.”
“No, it’s fine here.”
Katelyn released her ponytail, tossed her head, and shook her hair out. “It’s painful to admit but you’re right. I’ve tried to hate him but I just can’t. How I wish things could be the way they
used to be, but… Oh, my God!” She cringed in pain. “I know things can’t be the same again.”
“Katie, it’s the devil. Don’t allow him to ruin your family. You have the power to make things right again. You can be the happy family we all used to envy. I’m saying this knowing too well how
difficult it is, but honey… this is possible if you embrace forgiveness— “
“Merciful heavens, Liz! How can I? After what he’s done? Tell you what? I can’t picture him without her in bed. I’ve tried but just can’t.”
Elizabeth kissed her sister’s hand. “Darling, I perfectly understand you and it’s okay to feel the way you do. I’m asking you to do something I know how difficult it is to do. I forgave Ambrose.
Honey, it’s the surest thing to do. Believe you me. Forgive and you’ll find happiness again.”
Katelyn had moved out of self-pity and enjoyed numbing her conscience with alcohol, working on her looks and derived a lot of comfort in the carefree lifestyle she’d started adopting with the help
of Martha. But now, listening to her sister, she realized she couldn’t go on living a lie. “It’s so humiliating. How can I forgive him? Do tell me, please? He’ll never respect me again.”
“On the contrary, he’ll adore you. You asked how to forgive him. It’s not a matter of feeling. You might still feel hurt, and it may even take you years before you feel any love for him. But, just
decide in your heart that you’ve forgiven him. God will take over from there.”
Katelyn poured Elizabeth more tea. “It’s not as easy as you make it sound.”
“Remember what Ambrose did to me. I still believe I got cervical cancer because of his sleeping around. But I forgave him.”
“Oh! Don’t remind me of that. It’s horrible!”
“Katie, dear, forgiveness doesn’t change the past, but enlarges the future. You can make your family greater than it was if you forgive him. Don’t forget, dear, this is why we are stronger than
men. This is the hallmark of our calling as mothers.”
Katelyn's eyes watered. She moved nearer to her sister and took her hand in hers. “There can never be happiness between me and that man again. If I’m to do anything, it can only be for my kids.”
“That’s a good starting point. I did the same.”
“I can’t believe I’m even making such concessions. He’ll take me for a fool just like he’s done all these years. You know how mama raised us. I was innocent when I met him. He mentioned nothing
about his former life, and I presumed he was innocent too. All these years he never showed me any sign he could cheat, and I thought I was the only woman he had been intimate with. How foolish of
me. I regarded infidelity impossible with him. Please try to understand me. I was convinced we were the perfect couple then all at once…” Katelyn struggled to hold back her sobs. "To witness him
and my daughter’s friend in the very act of sex….and they gossiped about me. How do I get that out of my mind? Do tell me, please. How?” She pulled out a handkerchief and hid her face in it. “This
wasn't a one-night stand. He's in love with her, she’s carrying his baby. That makes matters even more complicated. He can’t leave her.”
Elizabeth sighed. “Oh dear, I understand! I understand! Katie, dearest, I do understand the awfulness of the whole situation. I dunno what more to say but sweetheart, you can still forgive
them and this will liberate you more than them. Yes, she’s carrying his child, but she’s not his wife, and he’s not bound to marry her. But he may if he doesn’t see a chance of you forgiving him.
She’s young and will get married to someone else--”
“Oh, no. Do you suppose I’ll get back with him for fear of losing him? Hell no.”
“Of course, that’s not what I mean--”
“He doesn’t care a dime about me.”
“Goodness me, you’re mistaken. He’s confided a lot in Ambrose. Two things mostly crush him. He keeps alluding to what you also mentioned. The fact you were innocent when he met you and all you’ve
known about a man is from him. Is it true that it took three nights for him to burst your cherry?” At this point, Elizabeth looked up and smiled. “That each time he tried to penetrate you’d scream
at the top of your lungs and scare him away. He had to forcefully cover your mouth with his on the third night before he finally got through.”
Katelyn’s cheeks warmed. “Oh, my goodness! Did he tell him that? How I’m I supposed to look at Ambrose, knowing he knows about that?”
“He’s still loving, other than what had happened, I know you’ve always been the best couple and an example to us of how married life should be.”
“You said there were two things crushing him,” asked Katelyn.
“He’s also hurt that you’ve been so supportive and lived your life as an open book to him. Together, you’ve even gossiped other couples. To imagine that now other couples are gossiping about you
mortifies him. He feels he’s betrayed you to the core and doesn’t know how to make up for this. He keeps saying you can’t forgive him and neither can he forgive himself.”
Katelyn softened. “But it’s not my fault. He’s brought this to himself… to us. How I wish this had never happened--”
“He says anyone would call him a fool to have cheated on such a beautiful woman. That you’ve given him beautiful children anyone can tell the beauty is from their mother and not their daddy.”
They both started laughing but the approaching footsteps interrupted them. It was Justin and Ambrose.
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