Not all long lasting marriages are happy. But what do you do if divorce is not an option?
University friends, Stephanie and Nick, meet again after twenty years. But life has not been easy or simple for either of them. Will this friendship affair stand a chance against reality?
He sat upright but remained in bed sensing that she needed some space.
She kept looking out of the window even as the words came.
“We had been married for three years when he started to change. It wasn't obvious at first. He would forget small things, and get angry when he realised that. If I tried to help, he would shout at me.”
“Get violent? Hit me?”
He saw her reflection grimace. “No, but only because I made sure to keep my distance when he became like that.”
“Most of the time he was fine, and things were normal again. When I remarked to his mother or sisters that he was behaving differently, they told me I imagined things.”
“Did he lose it in front of them?”
She turned suddenly and went to her closet to retrieve her dressing gown. He suspected she was playing for time to collect her thoughts.
He sat forward. “He lied to them, didn't he? Made up some story that put you at fault instead of the illness?”
She turned her back as she put on the lilac gown. She had always loved the pale purple colour. To his mind, it made her look young and beautiful.
“Well?” he prodded. “That's what happened, isn't it?”
She turned slightly but avoiding looking at him. “Yes. He confessed later that he told them that I gave him poisonous mushrooms to eat, by accident, and that it was causing him some difficulties.”
He gasped. “And they believed him?”
She shrugged and moved to pick up her hairbrush. “Why wouldn't they? He was the goose that laid the golden eggs, so everything he said had to be true. I only realised then that they were all financially dependent on him. I was so naive. So stupid.”
He got up and wrapped his arms around her from behind. “You were not stupid.”
He tightened his arms slightly. “Maybe. But it is a husband's duty to support his wife and protect her.”
“Even against his own family?”
“Especially against his own family,” he growled.
“But nothing. They practically called you a liar to your face, and to satisfy his foolish pride, he let them think they were right. You should have divorced him right there.”
She turned and looked up at him. Her eyes shattered with the memories. “I couldn't. To appease his mother he went for a blood test to prove that I poisoned him...”
“When they found the real problem. Alzheimers?”
She nodded. “Yeah. It was more advanced that we had thought.”
“What did his family do?”
She dropped her head to his chest. “Nothing. Nothing to help him. Nothing to support me. All they wanted was control of the company so that they could continue to get their money.”
His eyebrows shot up. “I don't suppose he was happy with that situation?”
Her head moved side to side against him. “He did the one thing to guarantee that they couldn't get their hands on the business he had to rebuild after his father screwed it up: he gave full executive control to me.”
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