Bringing Emma Home(10)

By: Stella MacLean

“That was a call informing me about the death of Deidre MacPherson, the CEO of one of our major clients in Spartanburg. It seems I’m needed there urgently. Tomorrow at the latest.” He scrubbed his face with his hands. The only sound in the room was that of his long, agitated sigh as he placed the phone on the table, staring at it as if it had bitten him.

The set of his shoulders, the way he didn’t seem to see her or even be aware of her, made Grace realize that, for the first time in their marriage, he was lying to her. He was keeping something from her or he wouldn’t be so evasive. He’d hidden things from her before, like a surprise birthday party or when he gave her diamond earrings on their tenth anniversary. But they were surprises, not lies.

And this was a lie. She didn’t understand how she knew it was a lie. She’d never been suspicious of Aidan, had always trusted him completely. But now it was clear that there was something he was concealing, something so important to him that he was willing to lie to her about it. Her stomach lurched. “Aidan, what is going on? I’m your wife. You owe me an explanation.”

“That was her lawyer. He needs to talk to me.” Aidan glanced around, spotted his underwear and awkwardly pulled them on, all the while never once glancing in her direction.

“About what? And why you?” she insisted, though her heart pounded so hard in her ears she could barely hear.

“That woman, the one who died…” He searched the room for his shirt and pants. “She left her entire estate to me.”

“Why? Why would a woman leave you her money?”

“Because—” Aidan grabbed his clothes and got dressed hurriedly. “Because she’s crazy. She claims that she had a child. That the child is mine. I haven’t seen her in five years. I have no idea why she thinks her child is mine.” His look when he met her eyes was one of agony and despair.

Grace couldn’t breathe. She reached out to the drapes to support her as her knees began to buckle. His words cascaded over her, blocking her thoughts, filling her with disbelief and panic. A strangled cry emerged. “What are you talking about?” There had to be a mistake. Aidan and she couldn’t have children. All the testing proved that. She searched his face, seeking some sort of denial from him. “Tell me this isn’t true. This can’t be true. You can’t have a baby.”

“Grace, you need to sit down,” he said as he came to her, pulled her into his arms and led her to the sofa near the fireplace. “Let me try to explain what I believe is going on.”

“Did you have an affair with her?” she asked, her body shaking at the enormity of it all. Aidan in another woman’s bed. Aidan making love to another woman, his hands, his body on hers. The intimacy of the act, the love he was capable of making to Grace offered to another woman. “Tell me the truth!” she demanded, feeling sick to her stomach with anguish.

“Grace! I’m sorry. Really sorry.” He went down on one knee in front of her, his eyes pleading, his voice filled with remorse.

“Five years ago?” She heard a scream and realized it was hers. “You had an affair five years ago when we were trying to have a baby?”

“Not an affair. Not really.” He scrubbed his face with hands that shook. “You and I were going through a rough time.”

Her mind fumbled over his words. Her husband, the man she loved, had had an affair with another woman. He’d broken a solemn vow to her, one he’d taken before God. This couldn’t be true. But hadn’t he just admitted to it? “When? When did you do this?”

“I… Back when I managed our clients in Spartanburg. Before Lucas took over.”

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