A Smart Set Of Cheaters

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A Smart Set Of CheatersAnother Friday evening and though I was late getting home, my wife Victoria was even later. I didn’t like her going out after work with her friends but what can a man do? Every couple does need a life apart from their spouse and Vicky was very good about not only letting me know when she was going out but she also told me where they were going and made sure she got home early. She was usually no later than 8 p.m.This afternoon I had been out on a job inspection and got a text message from Vicky. “Out 4 drink w grls home late luv u.” Vicky is usually good about her going out. In fact it usually isn’t more than once every three to four weeks so why does it bother me so much? Well, that’s another story. To make it short let’s just say I have trust issues of females in general—no, that’s not true either. I have trust issues with people male or female that spend time in a bar with their friends and without their spouse or that take a lot of business trips. Vicky does both but the trips are the worst for me by far.You might ask why I have these problems and how they effect my perception of Vicky. I will tell you a short, sad story so you can see for yourself. I grew up in a bar—literally. My parents owned and operated the most popular bar in our small town outside St. Louis MO. They also operated an upscale French Restaurant in the other half of the bar building. People would come from miles around to eat then would go next door to the bar/night club and dance the night away. I saw it all and at an early age my parents beat discretion into my hide. It was the summer I was 16 and they decided I needed to learn the business. My older brother and sister had both began working in the business when they were 16 also. By the time I began working there my brother was 21, had a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and managed the Bar. My sister was almost 19 and just beginning college. Of course as young as I was I wasn’t allowed to work in the bar. I was started bussing tables in the restaurant. I deeply resented this demand because like most teenagers I wanted to run the streets and do things with my friends. I wanted to work as little as possible for a lot of money at something I chose—preferably in a location where I could flirt with a lot of young beautiful girls.I had only been working at the restaurant three weeks when I began to change my attitude about things. My GOD I got to see so much TIT I thought I would go blind. I also got to look up many of the proverbial Little Black Dresses. I saw my first bare beaver (well the first one I wasn’t related to in any event) looking up the dress of one of the town’s society ladies. What made it even more exciting was watching her and her date during the meal and after in the bar. Several times my Father or Mother had to come to the door separating the bar and restaurant to send me back to my job in the restaurant. My sister was working that night. She came up to me and said, “Donnie you’d better get back to your job and ignore everything you see or you’ll get in trouble.”I turned to her and said, “But Sis, that’s Mrs. Horton and she’s out with a man. She doesn’t even have on any underwear either. Do you think Mr. Horton knows? God I can’t wait to tell the guys! This is awesome!” Sarah looked scared and looked over her shoulder then said, “Oh Shit,” under her breath.About that time I felt my Father’s big hand on my shoulder. He squeezed it hard and said, “Don, come with me RIGHT NOW.” He turned and walked through the dining room past the waiter’s station and into his office. I followed him slowly and, in truth, fearfully. I had been sent back to my job enough that night that I knew I was going to have a serious discussion with my Father.When I got into the office he looked at me and said, “Close the door and sit down.”I thought oh, crap, this is going to be really bad. I was almost sick at my stomach while I sat and watched my father look at me. Finally, he sighed and began talking. “Don I should have had this talk with you before I let you start working here but I just didn’t. I had to have this same talk with your brother and sister too and believe me it doesn’t get any easier with repetition.””Mrs. Horton is a beautiful woman isn’t she son?” my father asked.I was so shocked at that I jumped a little and I felt a little dizzy. I wondered where my Father was going with that question and why the change of topic. While I was trying to frame my reply he said once again, “Isn’t she?” I swallowed and nodded my head ‘yes’ while I whispered, “Unh huh.”Dad leaned his elbows on his desk, laced his fingers together and rested his chin on his thumbs. I remember his sigh and look of sorrow to this day. Finally he leaned back in his chair and began talking again. I can still hear his words even twenty years later. He said, “Son this business is our life and livelihood. It supports the whole family. It provides us our nice house and pool. It sent your brother to college and it will send your sister and you to college also. It will take care of all of us for years to come IF we don’t do something to ruin it.””Don, if someone you know comes in here with their family you smile and greet them by name. You can visit while you do your job IF the customer wants you to but you have to remember one very important thing. When you operate a business like this you have selective hearing and vision. Part of being in the food service and bar business is discretion. You see nothing you shouldn’t see. If someone you know comes in here with someone of the opposite sex that is not a member of their family you call them sir or ma’am unless or until they tell you to do otherwise. You don’t remember they were here in that case. You especially don’t remember anything they did or how they were dressed.””If our customers do anything off color we ignore it as long as we can and we DO NOT talk about it outside this establishment. The entire staff is held to these same strict rules. If I ever hear of anyone on the staff gossiping about a customer I let him or her go. Over the years I have had to fire some really great employees because they couldn’t keep their mouth shut about the customers. We are known for our discretion as well as for the quality of our food and service.””Son you are young and I know how your hormones are raging. Hell, even at my age I check out women like Mrs. Horton if I get the chance. Your mother knows I do it and that you will but she also knows it is like window-shopping. You look and never, never purchase or try on the merchandise. I don’t expect you not to look but I do expect your discretion and that you not make it as obvious as you have been tonight.””Something else you should know son is that people like Mrs. Horton are always found out. Gossip will start somewhere else and eventually get back to her husband. If he is like most men it will end their marriage. People who cheat on their spouse always get careless and eventually the spouse finds out. We don’t want to be the start of something like that. Many of them have small c***dren and a divorce hurts c***dren very badly. Now go back to work and remember what I said.”I returned to my job that day and worked in the restaurant off and on all through high school and college. I never gossiped about the customers but I saw way too much cheating for someone my age. After I got older and began bussing the bar area I watched as groups of men or groups of women came in on a boy’s or girl’s night out. I watched as the ones I knew were married did things I knew wouldn’t pass the spouse test. I learned. Perhaps I learned too much because I also learned to be intolerant of people who went on the boy’s or girl’s night out and stayed late into the evening.I learned that many of the people who were in the area on business would play around and try to pick up locals. This is fine, of course, if they are not married but many of them were—or at least they wore rings that said they were. In many cases they would pick up on one of our married customers. I learned to feel disrespect and disgust for them but everyone got treated with the same amount of courtesy and discretion. We did want repeat business after all.I noticed the ones who came to the nights out and left early after one or two drinks had good, stable marriages. The ones who stayed until late in the night had troubled marriages and many of them divorced.In my freshman year of college my father hired a new waitress. The first time I saw Victoria I fell in lust. As we worked together over the next two years we fell in love. We dated, met the families and other relatives. We talked and found we were soul mates. We watched all the cheaters that came to the business and laughed at their antics and stupidity. Finally the Christmas before we were to graduate college I asked Vicky to marry me. By then we both knew we were on the same sheet of music about life and would be a couple for life. The only hiccup in our relationship was our parent’s request we do a Pre Nuptial Agreement.Vicky and I knew we were life mates and thought it was stupid. My parents had the business and to my surprise a large investment holding. They wanted it protected should I inherit. I found to my surprise that Vicky’s parents wanted the same thing. They had a very large estate and didn’t want Vicky’s potential share to be split with me if we should divorce. The way the agreement was written solved these problems. We agreed anything we owned before the marriage or inherited from our side of the family stayed with us in the event of a divorce. The agreement also addressed pensions. We each kept our own. The only thing we split was an asset acquired jointly after the marriage. The agreement even addressed c***dcare in the event we divorced with minor c***dren. If one of us traveled more than the other, the c***dren were to be placed in the custody of the parent that traveled the least unless that would be a danger to the c***dren.Finally graduation day arrived. Vicky got a BS in Finance and landed a great job with a locally headquartered Stock Brokerage Firm. I got a BS in Construction Management, minor in Landscape Architecture. After college I worked two years for a construction company learning the trade. Neither Vicky nor I was interested in the restaurant or bar. My parents had rolled it into a corporation and we let my sister and brother run the business. Mother stayed the bookkeeper and Dad was just Dad. He was boss even if it didn’t show that on paper. After two years working for another company I opened my own construction and landscaping business. Since Vicky and I could barely make payments on our home and cars my parents actually provided the capital for the business from the family corporation. I received a salary to operate (manage) it.At first things were hard for us but Vicky had been steadily working her way upward in her job. Finally one day she came home so happy. She had been selected for a position in the Compliance Unit of the Brokerage. This is the unit that makes sure the Satellite offices comply with all the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The only down side was her new job entailed some travel. Not excessive, just 3 or 4 days a month but worrisome to me with my background.As time progressed my business grew. I progressed from small remodel jobs to adding rooms and garages to building entire new buildings and landscaping them. I was happy with the arrangement so never tried to get the business out of the corporation and into my name. I just kept drawing a larger and larger salary. To my pride the value of the business and our gross income grew larger every year.I grew to accept Vicky’s travel but was never entirely comfortable with it. I was happy with her girl’s nights out though. She went occasionally but never more than once a month and usually was home by 8 p.m. Of course from time to time I had to travel also and I did go out for a beer after work occasionally with the construction crews or office staff. That is just good management. I made sure though that I left after a beer or two. Normally I got home no more than an hour later than I normally would even if I went out with my employees unless, of course, Vicky went with me.After we had been married three years Vicky and I decided to have c***dren. Our first c***d was Patrick, and then 18 months later came my little Suzanne. She was so tiny and as she grew she so controlled me. By the time she was 4 years old she looked exactly like her mother, junior version. She was going to be a heart stopper for sure when she got older!As Vicky’s expertise grew in her job she became known as the person to send to straighten out difficult offices. She found the problems and knew how to help them fix them. If she met resistance she wasn’t afraid to straighten out the culprit. If that didn’t work, she wasn’t afraid to call headquarters and get the big guns out. Many were the office manager that crossed her and went looking for a new job. Because of this Vicky began to travel more. Now she was gone sometimes two weeks a month. I hated it and so did she. We talked. She thought she was on track to take over the department in a little under two years. Then she would no longer travel and would get a very substantial raise. We agreed to continue as we were pending that opportunity.With the economy slowing my little company had to begin taking jobs we would have passed up before the housing bubble and the stock market crash. We had laid off about half of our employees already. We were in no financial difficulty because we had no large loans or overhead but we weren’t as profitable as before. One of the small jobs I went to bid started my marriage down the path to destruction. Oh, how I wish I had never agreed to bid that job. Perhaps I could have then stayed happily married. Perhaps not.I walked into my office on a Thursday morning wondering why I even bothered to come in. I had stayed late the night before and finished all the paperwork I had on my desk. Vicky had been out all week on a Compliance Review. From talking to her I knew she wouldn’t be home until late Friday evening so I worked. This morning I almost went straight to one of our three job sites to spend the day getting my hands dirty and “inspecting” the job. As many of you know the best way to keep workers on their toes and to ensure quality is for the boss to be on the job with them and to be able to do everything they can do.I hadn’t been at my desk long when my assistant buzzed me. She said, “Don (we’re informal here. I try to treat my employees like part of the family) Mrs. Sloan is here and wants to talk about building a deck and landscaping her back yard. Do you have time to visit with her?”I remember thinking ‘Great a little deck and a few bushes’ but decided to talk anyway. After all a couple days work could be fit in and would help keep some of the men working to feed their families.When Mrs. Sloan came into my office I was shocked. I was almost speechless. She looked so much like Mrs. Horton, the first lady I had obsessed over that I could hardly talk. I finally got control of myself and stood to welcome her.I smiled and said, “Mrs. Sloan I’m glad to meet you. I’m Don Patterson. Mrs. Simpson said you wanted a deck built? Is that correct?””Oh, excuse me,” I said. “Please have a seat while we discuss your needs. I’m not usually like this but you remind me so much of a lady I knew when I was younger. It’s almost like she just walked into the room. Please pendik escort forgive me.”Mrs. Sloan laughed then said, “Don, its Jasmine.” I suppose she saw the uncertainty and confusion in my face because she continued, “You know, Jasmine Horton. Donita and Alfred Horton were my parents. We used to come to your families restaurant all the time?””Oh my God,” I said. “I’m sorry. You were so much younger and you’ve changed…”Jasmine laughed such a sexy tinkling laugh then said, “Well, I guess we’ve all changed some. I was only 10 when mother and daddy divorced. She took me and we couldn’t afford your prices after…”With a sigh Jasmine began again, “Well, anyway, my husband and I have bought a house near where we used to live and he says we can build a deck and cabana with hot tub. I think we also have enough to landscape too if prices aren’t too high. When I found out you had a construction business I just had to see if you would be interested before I checked with anyone else.” We spent most of the morning talking about old times and what she and her husband Steven had in mind. After we got it settled what she wanted in general I told her I would have to see the house and measure before I could make a bid. She said, “No problem Don. We can go out now or…I mean I don’t work so any time you want to do that is fine with me.””Tell ya what.” I said. “Why don’t I come by about one this afternoon. I need to check up on my work crews and grab a bite then I will have all afternoon to do the measuring and bid. Will that work for you?”Jasmine left the office and I followed. I told Laura, my secretary, “I’ll be out the rest of the day. I’m going to check on all the job sites, grab a bite then go over to Mrs. Sloan’s to bid her little job. Just close up when you go home. If you need me, I’ll have my cell.”Everything was going well on the jobs but I stayed a little longer than I should have to visit with one of the property owners. That threw me late for lunch and I got to the Sloan’s about 1:30.Jasmine met me at the door and the first thing I did was apologize for being late. “Mrs. Sloan, I’m sorry for being late. I got tied up with one of the property owners and ran over. I tried to call but I only got the machine.”Mrs. Sloan giggled then said, “Don, I told you its Jasmine. I’m sorry I didn’t hear the phone. I was out cleaning the pool after I got home and forgot to take the cordless with me. It’s no big deal. You’re here now. Do you want something to drink or do you want to see the area?””I’m fine Jasmine. Let’s just go on out and look over your back yard.” I got all the measurements then said, “Well, it’s no problem pricing everything I usually use but since you don’t have a hot tub you really need to buy it before I bid. I need to know the dimensions of it before I can order some of the materials we will use.””Oh,” Jasmine said. “I thought you would furnish the tub too. I don’t know much about them and, well can’t you just include that in the bid too?”I laughed and said, “Yes, Jasmine, I guess I can do that but we don’t sell them and I will have to buy one somewhere else. To do that I need to know the size you want, if it will be in ground or stand alone, if it will run on 210 or 110 volt current…”Jasmine looked so upset my heart went out to her. I remembered when she was younger how she could get so sad over the small things. Finally I said, “Well, let’s talk about this a while then maybe you could call your husband or talk to him tonight about it. I can just hold off on this until you decide what kind of tub you want.”Now Jasmine looked really worried. She was almost shaking when she said, “Oh, no. I can’t call him about this. He told me to handle it and I intend to do that. He is on a business trip to Denver so I won’t see him until this weekend. Maybe we can just figure it out?”I questioned Jasmine more about how they would use the tub and found out they entertained rarely and in fact it was just mostly her that used the pool and back yard. Sometimes she did have a friend or two over also. I finally had enough information. We went to my supplier and let her look at tubs. Jasmine decided to buy a smaller 5-person tub. I got the dimensions and we went back to her home. I asked if she had somewhere I could hook to the Internet so I could access my office. Some of the items I needed to do the estimate changed on Thursdays and I wanted the accurate price list before I started working.Jasmine smiled and said, “Sure Don. Why don’t you come into the office? Steve is a manufacturer’s representative for Savin Business Systems. He had a really nice office set up so he can work from home when he isn’t on the road. You can hook your laptop up to our net portal or you can use our computer either one.”I walked into the office and stopped in amazement. He had it set up almost like a normal business office in an office building. His desk was to the left of the door facing the room. Windows looked out the side of the office over the back yard. There were two nice leather chairs in front of the desk and a bookshelf opposite. I was impressed.Jasmine walked behind the desk and pulled out the desk chair. She smiled at me and said, “You can sit here while you work. If you need anything just ask.””Thank you,” I said as I walked behind the desk. I put my laptop on the desk then sat down. Jasmine handed me the DSL cord to plug into my computer. When I was reaching for it I had to reach over a picture. I glanced at the picture then stopped. I drew my hand back and stared at it then reached out and picked it up.Jasmine looked at me in confusion, holding the cord out toward me. She saw my face and how I was squeezing the picture and asked, “Don is something wrong? That’s my husband and his pride and joy. I keep trying to get him to throw that picture away and take another one of his Chevelle but he won’t. I’m really sick of having to look at his old girlfriend when I use the desk.””Don? Don don’t look at me like that. What’s the matter?” Jasmine asked once again.I carefully sat the picture down and pushed back from the desk. I looked at Jasmine and said, “Did you tell me your husband was in Denver?” She looked surprised and then said, “Yes I did. Why?””My wife’s in Denver and has been there all week. Jasmine did you ask Steven where to go for an estimate or did you tell him you were going to talk to me?””Nooo. Don, what difference does that make anyway? He just told me if I had to have a deck and hot tub to get estimates. He said if it didn’t cost over $20000 I could do it. Now why are you asking these questions?””Jasmine that woman Steve is with in this picture is my wife.”Jasmine smiled and said, “Oh, how strange you married Steve’s old girlfriend. We’ve only been married eighteen months. When did you get married?”I felt my stomach churn and looked back up at Jasmine. “Vicky and I have been married for nine years now. That picture was only taken no more than two years ago because she is wearing a necklace I bought her for Christmas a little over two years ago. She got the outfit she is wearing to take on vacation the next summer.”Jasmine stood for a moment then she said, “Don, I’m sorry for you if you are saying what I think you are but…well, why are you worried that she is in Denver?””Jasmine you said you had been married eighteen months. Do you know when this picture was taken? From what I remember of what Vicky was wearing in this picture it could have been taken about the time you got married. When did Steve have it framed?””Why he said…but that can’t be so because the picture was taken the day he won first prize in the big State Chevrolet Car Show. That was…” Jasmine began to cry and dropped into one of the comfortable chairs in front of the desk. She continued quietly, “That was three weeks before we got married. I just never thought. I mean he said it was an old picture but he is holding the first place trophy…DAMN Him! I’ll””Jasmine wait,” Don said. “Let’s think this through. I saw it all while I worked in the restaurant. I learned to ignore and not talk about other peoples business because cheaters always get caught in the end. I admit it looks bad but all we know right now is that Steve and Vicky are standing in front of his car with their arms around each other. We also know the picture was taken about 18 months to two years ago. You’re enough younger than we are I don’t think Steve could be an old boyfriend of Vicky’s because we began dating when we were 18 and both working in Dad’s restaurant. He could be though. I don’t know the name of everyone she had a crush on when she was younger any more than you probably do for Steve. How old is he anyway?”He’s uhhh, he’s 29 and I’m 27.””Huh. Well, it’s possible because Vicky’s not 31 yet. I just don’t know. Damn. Now what do we do? If we ask them about this all they will do is deny it whether they are having an affair or have in the past or not. If they are having an affair and we ask they may quit or just get sneakier. I feel like I need to ask and yet until today I would have said I trusted Vicky unconditionally. Damn. I just don’t know.”We talked more and came up with what we decided was an acceptable plan. We would say nothing about what we thought we had discovered this day. Jasmine wouldn’t tell Steve about talking to me about the deck and we would hire a private investigator to check on Vicky and Steve.The next day Jasmine and I talked with the security firm we use for our construction sites and they sent us to the investigation company they use. We talked to their people and signed a contract for their services. We each gave them a check for our share of the retainer and went to our respective homes. Jasmine had shortened the name on the check so if Steve asked she could say it was a deposit for the work we had talked about and I used the business account. Vicky never saw those books or checks so I was safe. I would just have to reimburse the business.After three weeks Jasmine and I got together with the investigator. He said, “Don, Jasmine, I’m sorry…NO, that’s not right, I’m happy to report that we can find nothing to indicate your spouses are seeing each other or even know each other. We’ve followed them every noon hour and after work and they have done nothing they shouldn’t have done. The only thing out of the ordinary was last Friday when Mrs. Patterson and some of the women she works with went out after work. They were in several bars at St. Louis Landing and danced with several men each. Vicky did dance with Steve once but it was proper. There was space between them and neither let their hands wander. There was no kissing or anything untoward. They were never seen to speak to each other again after the dance.”I sighed and leaned back in my chair. I looked at the investigator then at Jasmine. I was beginning to believe this whole mess was a result of my ingrained mistrust learned when I worked in the family business. I had checked all the phone records; we had even put cameras and recorders in the house and recorders in Vicky’s car and purse. They were squeaky clean also.Finally I sighed and said, “Well I guess we can just mark this down to paranoia then. You don’t know how happy I am to find this out but I am so embarrassed I even thought Vicky and Steve would do something like this. We can just stop the… WAIT a minute. Jasmine didn’t you tell me Steve was going to San Antonio next week?”Jasmine looked puzzled then said, “Yes. What’s that got to do with…OH, we won’t need to have anyone followed next week will we?””I think that is exactly WHEN we need to have them followed. Vicky told me two weeks ago that she was scheduled to do a Compliance Review next week. I don’t remember where she said she was going for sure but I think it was Austin TX. Depending on where in those towns they stay they could only be about an hour, maybe less apart. We’ve pretty well established they don’t meet here in this area. I think we need to at least check this next trip out. If they come up clean after that I’m willing to admit I was being a paranoid fool in spite of what we saw in that picture. It is reasonable to believe if they were old friends that Vicky would let him take a picture of her with him and his trophy!”All through the uncertainty and investigation Don and Jasmine could discern no indication either Vicky or Steve treated them different in any way. They were just the same they had always been. Don had thought and thought but he could not identify one way that Vicky was different from when they were dating or right after they married. She treated him like he was the only man in the world. She came to him for sex and gave him sex when he asked just like she had always done. She was as loving and considerate as at any time in their lives.The Friday night before Vicky’s next trip Don and she went out to supper on a date night. While they were snuggling in bed later that night Don asked, “Vicky do you remember when we were working at Dad’s restaurant and we used to laugh at all the cheaters and people who did inappropriate things?”Don thought he felt a slight tightening of Vicky’s muscles but he wasn’t sure. She smiled and turned her face upward toward him then said, “Yes. Some of those people sure were dumb. Every so often when one of the men or women at work does something like that I remember back to those days and think how stupid they are. Why?””Oh, one of the men at work thinks his wife is cheating on him but he hasn’t found anything to prove that. When he was telling me his fears I thought back to those days and told him to just relax. I told him if she was cheating to keep his eyes and ears open that in the long run a cheater is always found out. I told him the longer he took to find out the better for his k**s because a divorce always hurts the k**s.”Vicky looked a little sad when she said, “Why do you assume the marriage would automatically end in divorce. Maybe the wife really loves her husband and is just, well maybe the affair doesn’t mean anything to her and she doesn’t want a divorce.””Oh, no Vicky. He’s just like me. He used to see the people in the bars and he has as low a tolerance toward cheating as we do. I can’t see him just accepting a long-term affair any more than you or I would. I think he might be able to accept a one night stand but as for an affair—NO Way.”Vicky had tensed up again when he said he would not accept a long-term affair but she smiled then and turned to him. She gave him a gentle kiss and said, “Well, I’m glad you’re still the man I married. We both know about blatant affairs and the heartache they can bring. If he does have a problem bring him around and maybe you and I can help him with his recovery. ‘Nite Honey.”Don and Vicky settled into their bed and drifted off to sleep. From the amount of tossing and turning neither of them went to sleep very fast though.The next week was very difficult for Don. He called the investigators twice to see if they had found anything but all he was told was “Our operatives are following both of them and we will have a report for you next Monday.”Finally Monday came and Jasmine and Don met at the investigator’s office. When they sat down they could almost sense he had bad news. The investigator leaned back in his chair and said, “You know when you wanted to have us follow your spouse’s last week I almost told you that it would be a waste of money. This was one of the most difficult cheating spouse cases we have ever handled. You were right though. Steve and Vicky are having an affair. We have pictures and escort pendik taped conversations to prove this. I have to say I am very surprised. If we had stopped after following them here in the St. Louis area we would have never found this. From the conversations we taped it appears they only get together three or four times a year in cities far from here. Even there they pretend to meet by accident if they are out in town and are very careful to keep up appearances of just being old acquaintances.””What we found though was a pair of very smart cheaters. They went to two different towns and stayed in two different hotels. They met however in a third hotel and even then they didn’t stay in the same room. They rented separate rooms at separate times but the rooms had a connecting door. Steve paid for his room with cash so there is no paper trail. Vicky registered as Angela Foster used a credit card made out in that name with an address in Washington, MO. She had a State ID Card as Angela Foster. Steve registered as Steven Alan, again using a state ID card for ID. Additionally they only rented these rooms on Tuesday and Thursday nights. They didn’t stay the entire night and only saw each other on these two days.”I sat back and thought. I said, “Foster was Vicky’s maiden name—Victoria Angela Foster.”Jasmine only said, “Alan is Steve’s middle name.””Well,” I said. “I guess it’s all over except the crying. I’ll be talking to a divorce attorney as soon as I can get an appointment.”Jasmine started to say something when the investigator broke in. He said, “Wait. There’s more. I usually don’t even mention this but in this case…I just can’t convince myself this is what it looks like. I know they had sex but damn it, it doesn’t seem like an affair. It seems more like they were playing a game. We have hours of taped conversations and most of them are very innocuous. During the entire week there were only two sessions of intercourse and the pillow talk was so strange. Here, let me put a tape in and show you what I mean.”When the investigator got the tape to the point he wanted us to hear we heard Vicky talking. She said, “You know Steve I’m starting to think we need to wind this up. We’ve got by with it for six years now and had our fun. We’ve proven we are the exception to the rule and are Smart Cheaters. I think even you will admit the sex isn’t nearly as good with each other as it is with our spouse’s. Besides, something Don said Friday night bothers me. We were talking in bed and he reminded me about what we learned at his parent’s restaurant. He reminded me all cheaters eventually get caught. No one ever covers every eventuality. Eventually all cheaters either get over confident or make one little mistake that gets them caught. I still worry about Denver. That was the first time we ever went to the same town and I still think it was a mistake. We should not have changed the plan. We should have only got together when we could go to different towns that were close enough together that we could meet in the middle like we are here.””I know it is a hassle messing up two rooms and paying for a room we don’t use but still, I think we have proven what we set out to prove. We are Smart Cheaters and if you play the game Smart you can cheat and win. I really don’t want to do anything to lose Don. I love him to death. He is the best man I have ever met in my life.””Hell, after the first time or two we got together the only real charge I got out of this whole mess was the planning and intrigue. I can spend hours planning and thinking about the deceptions. Getting the ID’s and making the reservations and travel arrangements are better than doing a crossword puzzle or sudoku. The damn sex only dulls my horns. NOW don’t go getting all male on me. I know for a fact you feel the same way. You told me in Denver that you always went back to your hotel unsatisfied.”The investigator stopped the recorder and began talking again. He said, “There is more but this was the most puzzling part of the conversations. I just can’t for the life of me understand why…”The investigator stopped and stared at Don when he began laughing. Finally he got himself under control and said, “I’m sorry. I really don’t think this is funny and I am angry as hell but, well there is something about that conversation I guess I need to clue you in on. You see several years ago a couple Vicky and I were friends with got a divorce. The wife had been cheating and got caught. It turned out she had been hanging the horns on her husband for almost 4 years before she got caught and that it was a simple little mistake that tripped her up.””The night we found out about the affair and divorce we had been out with some other friends. We got into a discussion about the cheating and stupid things cheaters do. We remembered once again what my father had said when we worked at the restaurant and what we had seen while working there. Vicky kept saying she didn’t care, that any person who wanted to cheat could do it if they just kept it under control and were smart.””I was on the other side of the argument and told her there was no way that could happen, that at some point in time the cheater would get caught. It might be years down the road but it would happen. I told her the cheating might even come to light by some innocuous manner but come to light it would. We finally agreed to disagree but for several weeks Vicky would mention something about Smart Cheaters being able to win. To the best of my memory her affair with Steve started about the time we had that argument. Vicky has always been proud of her intelligence and now I think I pushed the wrong button when we talked about that affair. I think she was trying to prove that she could do it and get away with it. I guess she could have if she had stopped it sooner. Now…NOPE, She aint a gonna get away with it.”Don and Jasmine were once again together. This time they were waiting for their appointment with the divorce attorney. Since sharing the expenses of the investigator went so well they elected to share a divorce attorney also. When Don was called into the office the attorney looked surprised. He said, “Mr. Patterson. And this is…Mrs. Patterson?”Don grinned and said, “No sir. I’m afraid not. I’m Don Patterson and this is Jasmine Sloan. We discovered her husband and my wife were cheating with each other and split an investigator’s bill to get the goods on them. Now we thought we might also be able to divide your fee?”The attorney George Spalding smiled and gestured at chairs as he said, “Oh, of course. Perhaps we can work something out. Would you please take a seat while we discuss things?”Don sat and handed the attorney a copy of the investigators report and pictures. Before the attorney could look at them Don said, “I don’t believe my case will be too difficult. I also brought a list of everything Vicky and I own and when we acquired and how we acquired that item. I also have a copy of our Pre Nuptial agreement that spells out not only how we divide the property but who has custody of the c***dren. All I want is a divorce for adultery and settlement as per the Pre Nup. I’m afraid Jasmine’s case will be a little more complicated.”Don handed his attorney the paperwork he brought to support his divorce. He leaned back in his chair and waited for him to review the forms. After the attorney gook Don’s paperwork Jasmine handed him much the same thing for herself. The only difference was she didn’t have a Pre Nuptial agreement.The attorney explained the divorce process, time frame and his fee schedule to the two friends. Then he discussed what Jasmine wanted from her divorce if she could get it. Finally he said, “I think I have enough for now. I need to look at all the documentation and the investigator’s report. If I have any questions I will call of course. Otherwise I will prepare the documents and go from there. Do you want me to just serve the papers or call you first?”Both Don and Jasmine wanted to be called when the papers were ready to be served. They left the office and returned to their business agreeing to keep in touch.Two days later Don got a phone call from George Spalding. After the pleasantries were out of the way George said, “Don I’ve reviewed everything you gave me and I have to say this is the weirdest case I have ever seen. I even had two of my partner’s review it and they agree. There is no doubt there was infidelity but damn it man I think it’s pretty obvious the woman loves you and…Well Damn it this doesn’t even seem like it’s an affair. It’s almost like it was a game and they had to have sex to play. Don are you sure you want to go ahead with this divorce? I mean, Damn it Man from all you have said you had a nearly perfect marriage. You didn’t argue, your sex life was above normal, you seemed to love and respect each other… Don if you don’t mind me saying so, it’s almost like you’re playing the game too. It’s your turn now and the only move open to you is the divorce. Can’t you talk to Vicky and get past this? I know you’ve listened to the tapes and she has told Steve they need to quit and that it was basically just a game to her.”Don sat and thought once again. Finally he said to George, “No George. I have asked myself that same question and once I think I might have been able to do just that. I think if this had just been a game and they hadn’t had sex, if they had only gotten together in an emotional, or better yet, a pretend affair I could have overlooked it. I think at first perhaps it was just Vicky being upset because I derided her about her belief there could be a smart cheater. She just couldn’t accept my statement that there were no smart cheaters and that it was a foregone conclusion that eventually cheaters would get caught. If she had not taken the final step and let Steve make love to her I could get past her cheating. This has just gone on too long. I mean damn it, six years! Even if the sex was piss poor and they didn’t enjoy it as much with each other as they did with Jasmine and Me, it was still adultery and she has to pay the price.”George sighed and said, “Well, it’s your life. I just hate to do this to you. I have the papers ready to file. When do you want to have her served?”Don smiled and said, “Well George, she and Steve are on the east coast this week. She should be back late Friday afternoon. Can we serve her at work Friday? I believe her plane lands at noon so she should be in her office by say 3:30 or 4. I would like her to be served and be given a tape I have made up for her. It is of her conversation where she and Steve are talking about quitting. You can listen to it of course but at the end I say, You lose. Like I said, cheaters always screw up and get caught.”Friday morning Don had all his crews meet in his office before they left for the work sites. He explained that he and Vicky were divorcing and why. He told them that they were to take no orders from her and to tell her nothing else about the business or his personal life. When they left Laura, his secretary, said, “Oh, Don I’m so sorry. I just can’t believe Vicky would do something like this. I still remember how she hates cheaters.”Laura laughed and continued, “I mean some of the comments she used to make when we would see someone we knew doing something like that…DAMN.”At 4:10 that afternoon Don got the call from the attorney saying the papers had been served. About 4:30 that afternoon Don got the phone call he had been dreading. He could see from caller ID it was Vicky. Don picked up the phone and said, “Hello Vicky.” He heard sobbing, then a small, weakly wavering voice said, “Don please can’t we get past this? You know I love you with all my heart. I know I was so stupid now but you made me so damn mad that night when you used your superior manner to hammer me for saying a smart cheater could get by with it. Don for the first year all we did was plan and meet just to show we could do it. I know you heard me when I told Steve I didn’t love him and the sex wasn’t even very good. You know we were going to stop. Please Don don’t do this to us! I still can’t believe you actually found out after all those years. I’d love to know how in the hell you did it.””Vicky I didn’t do this to us. You did. Now I have to end it. I thought we were in total agreement on cheating and affairs. I thought, hell I knew we neither one approved of cheating. We agreed cheaters got whatever they deserved in the end. I guess I… No, I just wonder how you could have ever done something like this, how you could ever justify doing this feeling like we both do.” Don decided to take pity on Vicky in one sense. He decided to tell her how he got onto the affair. “Vicky I wasn’t ever going to tell you how I caught you but now I think I will. You were partly right when you said you should never have both gone to Denver together. That Thursday before you got home I was in the office and Jasmine Sloan came in. She wanted us to build a deck and landscape her back yard afterward. She let me use Steve’s office and I saw the picture of you with him and the trophy his car won in the State Classic Chevrolet Car Show. She told me you were one of his old girlfriends. I almost bought that until I realized you looked old enough in the picture that it had to be recent. Also you were wearing jewelry and clothes that I knew were only about two years old.””I was almost ready to dismiss my fears and assume you had dated before we became a couple and had just somehow ran into him at the car show. I changed my mind when Jasmine and I talked a little more and I found out you were both in Denver that week. We decided to hire an investigator and have you followed. We followed you both the next month and except for one dance at your girl’s night out you had no contact. We were going to stop the investigation and chalk it all up to a coincidence that you had just happened to see Steve and pose with him for the picture. By that time Jasmine and I were trading all types of information on the two of you and I remembered she had told me Steve was going to be in San Antonio and you had told me you were going to be in Austin. We decided to have you followed for that week. If we hadn’t found anything we were going to drop it. But we did find something didn’t we?”Don could hear sniffling in the background then Vicky said, “Don? Don I love you very much. I don’t want to lose you. Can’t you just please forgive me, just this once?”Don sighed and replied, “No Honey I just can’t. At least I can’t right now. I think I could if you hadn’t fucked the bastard but… I just can’t accept you fucking him and the length of time you had the affair.””But Honey, don’t you see? It really wasn’t an affair. I was… Well it was more like a game. I just had to prove that it could be done. The sex, well the sex was because we were away from home and we got so damn horny. You know it was almost like we used each other to masturbate with. We didn’t make love or as far as I remember ever tell the other one we loved them. It was always about playing the game and then the last four years just getting some sexual relief.””Vicky it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you did it. You planned to make a cuckold of me and you did it. You had to meet Steve somewhere and plan to get together with him. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if it wasn’t at one of your Girl’s nights out either. Wasn’t it?”Vicky sighed and said, “Yes Don it was. At the time we were just talking. He had come up to the table and asked me to dance. pendik escort bayan The girls and I were talking about a couple we saw in the bar that we worked with. They were all over each other and I made the comment we always made about Smart Cheaters and how there weren’t any. While we were dancing I filled Steve in on the conversation and what you and I believed. Before he took me back to the table he said, “You know I bet we could beat that rap. I travel a lot and if I could find someone who did the same I bet we could meet in a different town far away from home and could cheat without anyone ever catching us.””We danced several more times that night and decided to try it. I found out he traveled as a Manufacturer’s Rep and he found out I did the Compliance Reviews. We compared notes and found we would be in the same general area about three weeks later so we agreed to meet. At that meeting we began planning our, at that time, perfect, non-sexual affair. We agreed never to call each other at home or on our cells. We mostly used disposable cells and called from work or lunch but then only to set up the next meetings. We got the false ID’s and I got the new credit card and had the bill sent to a PO Box near my Parent’s home. You know how often I go see them so I could check the box regularly. We covered all the bases except for the picture. I just had no idea he had it taken.”Vicky gave a halfhearted laugh and continued, “I guess it’s like we always said, just one little slip will get a cheater caught. I’m so sorry Honey. I guess I just got so tied up in the intrigue… I love you.” Don heard a click as Vicky hung up the phone.He was surprised to feel tears running down his cheeks. He leaned back in his chair to contemplate. He never knew when Laura told him good night. His next recollection was being startled that it was dark outside. Before the final decree of divorce and at different times both sets of parents tried to talk Don out of divorcing Vicky. Perhaps the most heartfelt plea was from her parents. They called him one Saturday and asked if they could come to his house and visit the c***dren. Naturally he agreed.After they had visited with the c***dren a while all three adults were sitting in pool chairs in the shade while they watched the k**s in the pool. Vicky’s mother turned to Don and said, “Don we all know my daughter has made a total ass out of herself. When she came to our home that first night she was devastated. We could hardly get out of her what was wrong. She was hysterical and said she had ruined it. We finally got her calmed down enough to get the story out of her. She let us see all the evidence you had on her.””Don I must say if I had caught her father doing what she did I would have dumped his ass too but can’t you do what I say instead of what I would do? I know she loves you very much. I can see it every time she looks at you, every time she talks about you, every time she sees a picture of you. Her problem is her damn intellectual superiority. She has been so used to being the smartest woman around that she had to prove she could get by with something like this. Don, did you ever think that just maybe you sort of drove her to do this? She told me about the argument you had about your friends just before she decided to prove she could have an affair and not get caught.”Don looked over at his Mother in Law and said, “Yes Mona I have thought that I maybe contributed to her affair. I think because of what I said that if she had only met him and had not had sex I could have gotten over this but she didn’t. You know how we both said we felt about cheaters before we were married. You know how adamant she was about the codicils in the Pre Nuptial agreement that dealt with cheating. Then she did something like this. No, I just can’t let this go. I am tearing my heart out over this but… I just can’t.”The divorce was finalized and for once Don was glad they had the Pre Nuptial agreement. They had some investments they had to split. They also owned the house together. Since his business was in the family name and the only shares of it he had were considered gifts to him Vicky didn’t get any part of it. Don let Vicky take the value of her share of the house out of the investment account so he owned it free and clear.Don was always nice to Vicky when he saw her and never gave her any hassle over visiting the c***dren. He still longed to hold her when he saw her but knew he could never trust her again. One day he had the c***dren over at the restaurant for supper when Jasmine came into the building. She stood in the door and looked around. She seemed unsure of herself. The hostess walked up to her and asked about seating. Jasmine held up one finger.Don saw that and jumped from his chair. He intercepted the hostess and Jasmine before they got to her table. “Jasmine it’s great to see you,” he said. “I saw you tell Patty you were alone. If you want, I just have my c***dren with me. We could share a table…”Jasmine looked at Don for a moment then smiled. He felt his heart lift and the whole room seemed lighter. She stepped to him and gave him a quick hug and kiss on the cheek. “Thank you,” she said. “I think I would like that. I’ve been so alone since…” After Jasmine was seated Don introduced her to his c***dren. Before she even got the menu opened his father was beside the table and said, “Don have you been holding out on me? Who is this beautiful lady?”Don laughed and Jasmine smiled. Don turned to his father and said, “Dad, this is Jasmine Sloan. It was her husband… Uh her mother was Donita Horton. They used to come in here when I was a k**.”Mr. Patterson smiled and said, “Oh, yes. I remember you now. You look so much like your mother I can’t believe I didn’t recognize you. How are your parents? I haven’t seen them in years.”Jasmine looked up at Mr. Patterson and said, “They are both fine I suppose. I talk to Dad on the phone occasionally. After the divorce he moved away and is in Kansas City now. I see Mother a couple times a month. She lives north of town.””Well you have a good time tonight. I hope you’ll come back more now that you have remembered where we are.”After Jasmine ordered Don asked, “How have you been? I’m sorry I haven’t called more but summer is my busy time of the year. I guess maybe I used that for an excuse though. I could have found the time. I’m sorry.””Oh, don’t be silly,” Jasmine said. “I know you’re busy and I didn’t call you either. In fact, I’m here tonight to celebrate. Steve finally gave up and my divorce was final today. We had to sell the house and we split everything 50/50. He fought the alimony and d**g the divorce out because of that but since he was the one who didn’t want me to work I finally won in the end. I had to rent a dumpy little apartment but as soon as I find a job I will get a better place.”After the meal the k**s kept getting more and more restless. Don and Jasmine were talking and they had even ordered a second bottle of wine. Finally Don said to Jasmine, “I guess I need to go before these two hellions get me banned from this here place. It’s been really great to talk to you again. Maybe we can do something like this again?”Jasmine smiled and nodded her head. She said, “I’d like that. Lets.” She flagged the waitress down and asked for the bill. The waitress smiled and said the bills had both been paid.Don laughed. He said, “That old Bastard. I usually pay and he knows it. I think he’s trying to set us up.” He reached into his wallet and placed an appropriate tip on the table for the waitress then stood. “Come on k**s. Go tell your grandparents good night and let’s go home.”Don helped Jasmine from her chair and offered her his arm. “May I escort you to your chariot my lady,” he asked.Jasmine smiled, took his arm and said, “You may good sir.”While they were waiting for the k**s to come back Don turned to Jasmine and said, “You know I really don’t want this night to end. Before you came in I was hoping I could get home in time to just sit beside the pool and relax. All I had to look forward to was a night alone with the k**s.”Jasmine looked up at Don and said, “Me too. Except we don’t have a pool at my apartment and I don’t have any c***dren.””Jasmine it’s still early. Would you like to come to our place and visit some more after I get these two into bed?”Jasmine smiled and nodded her head yes. She whispered, “Yes, I’d like that very much.”After the c***dren were in bed Don filled a cooler with wine, beer and soft drinks and ice. He placed it between their pool chairs and told Jasmine to take her pick. He reached for a Pepsi and leaned back. Jasmine took a Pepsi also.Don looked at the pool glistening in the muted lights, sighed and turned to Jasmine. He said, “You know I think your mother is partly responsible for my divorce. I…Oh, Shit, I’m sorry Jasmine. I shouldn’t have said that. I was just thinking… Well I mean…”Jasmine was sitting looking at him with horror. He thought he saw a little tear in her eye. Don struggled up from his chair and sat on the edge of Jasmine’s. He wiped the tear from the corner of her eye and said, “Let me explain now that I’ve made an ass of myself.””When I was 16 I had only been working at the restaurant for about three weeks when your mother came in with a strange man. They had supper then went into the bar to drink and dance. I always thought your mother was the most beautiful woman in the world—that is until I met you. Anyway, I couldn’t keep my eyes off her and my father not only saw me staring at her but he heard me saying I had to tell my friends about what I had seen when we got to school the next Monday.””Whew, I still remember the dressing down and the lecture I got that night in his office. I think that evening though colored my thinking and beliefs about marital fidelity to this day. You know Vicky later came to work for us and she got the same lecture. We used to talk so much about our experiences and what we saw at the restaurant. I thought we were in agreement with my father’s philosophy. Maybe though I was too stubborn about fidelity for my own good. I was just thinking my seeing your mother that night started me down the rigid path I took throughout this affair. I’m sorry and before you ask, no. No one in my family or our employ ratted your mother out. I don’t know who did but it was almost a year after that time before your parents divorced and as far as I know that was the only time she and her man friend were in the restaurant.”Jasmine looked at Don and said, “Well, maybe something good came out of that mess then, or not, depending on how you look at it. You know she married that man and they lived together until he died in a car wreck several years ago. I’m not sure but I think she was cheating on him too though. I’ve always heard once a cheater always a cheater.”After Don was sure Jasmine was over her tears he moved back to his chair and they began talking about more interesting things. He learned she had an accounting degree and had worked for a while in accounting. He smiled to himself because he remembered his mother complaining about wanting to take more time off and not being able to since she kept the books for the bar and restaurant as well as helped supervise the wait staff. He had also been thinking he needed to hire some help for Laura. Maybe…”The next Wednesday Don hadn’t been home from work long enough to do anything but get a glass of water when he heard a banging on the front door. He opened it and was hit in the chest with something soft yet heavy. He focused his eyes and saw a crying Jasmine hanging onto his neck trying to kiss him. She said through her tears, “Thank you. Oh, thank you. Your parents called me and offered me a job. I went for the interview and the test and they hired me. I start tomorrow. They’re paying me way too much and …” she broke down crying again and Don just held her to his chest while he stroked her hair.Over the next several months Don and Jasmine became closer and closer. He began taking the k**s to the restaurant for supper four or five times a week and he seemed to time the visits so the book keeper/accountant was free to dine with them. Christmas came and Jasmine was invited to the Patterson’s for the meal. Don and Jasmine both helped work the bar’s New Years Eve Party. His father and siblings kept complaining that they weren’t much help. Every time they looked for them they found them hugging and kissing. All was said in good fun though. By now they were a recognized couple. Every invitation one of them got automatically included the other.Valentines Day arrived. This was another big day for the restaurant and bar so once again Don and Jasmine were called upon to work. After most of the patrons had left the restaurant Don came into the restaurant part of the building and said, “Jasmine can you come to the bar for a minute please? The band is on break and I need you to help me on the stage for a moment.”Jasmine smiled and said, “Sure. I needed a break from this place anyway.”When they got to the stage Don had Jasmine hold the microphone stand and he got on his knees. He was pulling at the base of it, and then raised his voice. He said, “Hey I need some light over here can you get it for me?”Jasmine was looking around for a light when one of the spots shone down on both of them. Don said, “Jasmine.” The microphone picked up his request and broadcast it all over the room. When Jasmine looked down at him she saw he was holding something out for her to take. It was a square of black and she thought it was maybe part of the black microphone stand. The lights were bright enough she couldn’t see very well.As she reached for the item he was handing her Don began talking again. He said, “Jasmine I’m down here groveling at your feet. I’m begging you. Will you marry me? You have put the sunshine back into my life and I’m only happy now when I’m with you.”Just as Jasmine’s fingers touched the box her mind deciphered what Don was saying. She closed her hands over the box and said, “What? Did you say…?”Jasmine opened the small box and saw a beautiful ring nestled in the interior. Her mouth dropped open. She gasped and held her empty hand to her mouth. Then she slowly removed the ring from its container. In slow motion she looked at it then began sliding it onto her left ring finger. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. She dropped to her knees and gave Don a deep, long, sensuous kiss. “Yes,” she moaned. “Oh yes. I love you with all my heart and I’ve dreamed for months that you loved me too.”The house broke out in whistles and catcalls. When Jasmine came up for breathe she saw Don’s entire family gathered around. Don’s brother pulled her to her feet and hugged her then she was passed from person to person as they hugged and congratulated the happy couple.Jasmine set a June wedding. Over the intervening months she slowly moved her things from her small apartment into Don’s home. At the reception after the wedding Don and Jasmine were opening the gifts. Buried at the bottom of the pile was a lone, yellowed envelope. Inside was a heart shaped valentine that seemed as old as the envelope. The original signature had been erased. It looked like it might have been Don. Written on the valentine were the words, “I received this valentine from the only man I ever loved on our first valentines day. I have treasured it ever since. Somehow it seems appropriate I pass it on to you now. Perhaps it is a symbolic passing on of his heart from me to you. May the rest of your life be filled with love and consideration for one another. May you never break the other’s heart or let foolish pride tear you apart. Congratulations. I wish you both a life of love and happiness. With all my love Victoria.”

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