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?
She felt his chest vibrate with silent laughter. She had to smile too. For a moment.
“Yeah, he might not have been the best husband, but he was a smart businessman. Although he knew his decision could be contested due to the Alzheimers, he assembled a panel of people to attest to his state of mind, when he signed the papers. There were lawyers, psychiatrists, and medical doctors. I think he even had a tax consultant present. His family was livid, but there was nothing they could do about it.”
She fell silent and breathed him. There had been no judgment on his side. Had he always been this open minded? She couldn't remember and sighed.
He pulled back and looked down. “Hey, what was that for? I think your husband was a genius. Still an ass, but a genius. By giving you control, he made sure you would be financially secure and not have to worry about his family giving you any grief.”
“Except that the company was already in financial trouble, and I was not equipped to do anything about it.”
She stepped away and sat on the stool at the dressing table.
“I knew I had to do something since he had deteriorated by that time and had to be placed in special care.”
“If he had gone for treatment sooner, the medication could have slowed down the process, but he had been too stubborn. They put him on meds, but the damage had been done. It still slowed down the progression, but he couldn't go back even a year to what he had.”
“If I understand this correctly, he had been in special care for what, fifteen years...”
“Sixteen,” she added quietly.
“...and you have been the one to pay for his care during all this time? With no support from his family?”
He was stunned. This woman was amazing.
“His family was ashamed of his illness. Since they couldn't contest his decision, they shunned me too. It was hard, but I coped.”
“What about the business?”
She shrugged and got up once more. “I asked an independent forensic accountant to check the books. They were sound, but the company had been bleeding money.”
“Yeah. Very expensive parasites they had turned out to be. Houses, cars, clothes, it was disgusting. I stopped all those payments and had the assets sold to recover some of the losses. By the end of that year, the company was back in the black and doing well, but his medical expenses were high and I couldn't afford them on my salary. I sold the house and the business as soon as I could to set up a trust to ensure that he would be taken care of for the rest of his life.”
“And to ensure that it happens you have to remain married to execute the power of attorney.”
“Yes,” she whispered.
She turned around and looked at him. “I am sorry. I never thought I would...,” she stopped and looked away.
“Don't worry about that now. Come here.”
She closed the distance between them and wrapped her arms around his waist. He felt her fingers dig into his skin but didn't object. She was sacrificing so much of herself and her future, she had to love this guy.
Today they became lovers, but could they go back to being friends again? Or was he going to step away permanently?
He rubbed his cheek against her hair.
“We don't have to figure out everything right this minute,” he murmured. “I still want to see you, but it will be up to you how we are going to define this—”
He grimaced. “I was going to say relationship.”
“Okay. Technically you are right, so let's not argue about semantics, shall we? What we need to do is get some sleep and think about this. What do you say?”
He knew what he wanted. What he had to figure out was how he was going to go forward and how he was going to stop his own secret from destroying that glimmer of hope?
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