Helen groggily wandered into the bathroom and washed the slumber of the night away to freshen up to get ready for a big day out with her girlfriends at the races. She looked in the mirror and could see how her divorce had aged her. It was as though she had been hit by a truck and become unrecognisable from who she was.
As time had elapsed and the healing had taken place, she could see a new Helen emerging from the lines of pain and betrayal etched into her face. For the first time in a long time, she looked at herself and actually liked the person looking back at her. She turned on the shower and stood under the steaming hot stream of water that felt like it was washing away her solid armour which had protected her for years. Almost as though she was like a transformer but instead of changing from human to machine, she felt like she was changing from machine back to human again. Her existence had been robotic, enabling her to feel numb to block out the pain. It was as though it was her deflector for pain to bounce off her protective shield that she had created around her to stop anyone getting too close to her again. The layers of protection were melting off her body with the help of the hot water and she felt like a snake shedding its old skin. Helen actually felt rejuvenated, refreshed and excited for the adventures of the day ahead.
Slipping into her favourite dress that hugged her curves tight and stepping into her high heels that made her legs look 10 feet tall, she was feeling confident she would have a win at the races today as she felt on top of the world. She grabbed her handbag and car keys and closed the front door behind her. Jumping into the car she started it up and reversed out of the driveway and headed off toward the highway toward the racetrack.
When Helen arrived, she saw Stacey waiting near the entrance and they both beamed with a big smile when they saw each other. Giving Stacey a hug she said “I feel so lucky today, hope I bet on a winner”, Stacey laughed and said “me too”. The other ladies started to arrive so they headed in through the turnstiles up to the beautiful glassed restaurant overlooking the racetrack. The first thing they all decided to do, was to grab a bottle of champagne to toast good luck for all, for today and in life ahead.
The day was so much fun, Helen put on a few bets and between the lunch courses they would head out onto the terrace to watch the next race and cheer on the horses as they galloped past them on the track. The ladies were squealing so much they could hardly hear the commentator excitedly calling out the everchanging positions of the horses as they were charging to the finish line. Helen could see her horse number 4 “New Beginnings” was ahead of the pack and lurch forward across the finish line. Helen jumped up and down holding onto Stacey so excited that her horse had won. Helen knew that “New Beginnings” was going to be lucky for her as it was how she felt today about her life. Rushing down to the bookies she accidently bumped into a man who was also rushing to collect his winnings. They locked eyes and were apologising to each other, then burst out laughing. “Looks like we are both winners today” said Tom who was 6ft 2” blonde with blue eyes. Very handsome thought Helen. The champagne had given Helen a confidence she lacked of late and she replied “In more ways than one”. Tom smiled at her cheekiness and they both walked together toward the bookie to collect their winnings. Tom suggested they watch the next race together to bring each other luck and asked where Helen would be. Helen said “That would be nice, my friends and I are up at the restaurant almost near the finishing line and we watch from the terrace.” Tom said “great, see you at the next race” and smiled as he walked away.
Helen couldn’t wait to get back to her friends and tell them about Tom. The ladies were thrilled to hear of Helen’s encounter, especially since she had been in hibernation for so long. The next race was announced, so the ladies rushed out to the terrace to shout out to their horse “come on, come on” as they jostled into position. It was very crowded in the stands and Helen felt a hand touch her elbow as Tom moved in beside her. She looked up at him and smiled as he said “I hope you are backing a winner” and Helen replied “yes hope so, good luck to you too” then Tom winked and said “I am sure I have backed a winner”. The horses came around the bend galloping so fast that the thud could be felt pounding in her chest, but she thought maybe that was her heart aflutter due to Tom standing so close to her. She could feel his warmth, his strong protective arm as he pulled her close to him to avoid the excitable crowd jumping up and down shouting encouragement to their horses. The chemistry was electric, her body hadn’t tingled this way in years. Helen really lost interest in her horse as she already felt like a winner with Tom. There was an almighty roar from the crowd as the horses past the finish line. Helen’s horse didn’t win, but once again Tom won claiming it was his lucky day. It had been the last race so the crowds started to disperse and Helen’s friends were making a move to leave before the rush. Tom grabbed Helen’s arm and asked if he could see her again and she said ‘yes, I would like that’. Tom entered Helen’s phone number into his phone and said he would call, as he was been swept along with the crowd toward the bookies to collect the final winnings.
Helen felt like she was glowing, with a beaming smile she slipped her arm through Stacey’s as they walked to the car. As they hugged goodbye, Stacey said “Take it slow, I don’t want to see you get hurt again”. Helen kissed her cheek and said “Don’t worry, I know what I am doing, I am stronger now”
Helen slept well that night and awoke feeling really excited anticipating a call from Tom. She could hardly focus at work, as she kept re-running the events of meeting Tom over and over in her mind. Her stomach would flip every time she thought about him. Whenever her phone rang, she would hurriedly grab it as though she was in a competition to answer within 3 rings else she would miss out on the big prize, which in this case was the chance to have contact with Tom again. All day she waited until finally she received a text at 10pm asking “Are you still awake, can I call you?” Helen was sitting in bed with her laptop and knew it was Tom. She quickly texted back saying “yes”. Her heart was pounding and she hurriedly fixed up her hair as though he would see her in her pyjamas with ruffled hair. At the first ring she pressed to answer saying “Hello”. Tom bursting with confidence replied “Hey Helen, how are you, gorgeous?” Helen could feel herself blush and blurted “I’m really well and had such a great time yesterday, did you enjoy yesterday?” She knew she was nervous and talking at a hundred miles an hour. After a few minutes, Tom’s soothing voice was very calming and they chatted for half an hour before Tom asked to see her the next evening. Helen said yes and they arranged to meet at a bar at 7pm.
The next night didn’t come quick enough, it was like life was in slow motion. Helen couldn’t wait to see Tom again and wore a very sexy dress and stockings which not only increased her inner confidence but would make her very desirable to Tom. They talked and talked over dinner, laughing and flirting with each other. Tom was so charming that Helen felt so captivated by him, thinking she hadn’t had this attention from a man for so many years, smiling to herself that she felt like a recycled teenager. They hadn’t noticed that they had become the only patrons in the restaurant and the staff were starting to clean and get ready to close. The manager came up to them and let them know they would be closing in 10 minutes. Tom paid the bill then led Helen to her car exclaiming what a great night he had and that he wanted to see her again. Helen agreed and Tom said “What are you doing tomorrow night? How about I come and cook us up a storm at your place?” Helen hesitated thinking it was a bit soon for him to come to her place but she didn’t want to lose his attention so agreed”.
The following day Helen was feeling very anxious about agreeing to Tom to come to her place as she would never normally do this so quickly. Stacey’s words kept ringing in her head to go slow, as she didn’t want to see Helen get hurt again. Helen knew herself how long it took her to get over her ex-husband John, who cheated on her leaving her heart broken. Helen kept saying to herself Tom is different, I have to learn to trust again. It was so obvious to Helen that the chemistry with Tom was overpowering her rational thinking but decided to be courageous and not always do what she had always deemed as “The right thing” allowing herself to have fun and take a chance.
The doorbell rang and Helen opened the door to see Tom with two big bags of groceries, a beaming smile and all her worries just melted away. She felt like a naughty teenager having a boyfriend come over whilst her parents were away. Her adrenaline was pumping, her heart was racing and she was so excited for the night ahead. Tom set down the groceries on the kitchen bench and asked her to point out where she kept the pots, utensils and crockery. He insisted she be in charge of pouring them a glass of wine then sit on the kitchen stool and talk to him whilst he busily made his culinary creation.
Tom was comfortable and confident in the kitchen and they laughed and joked about cooking disasters they have had in the past. Tom had put the marinated chicken and vegetables in the oven to bake then grabbed his glass and led Helen into the loungeroom onto the sofa whilst they waited for their dinner to cook. They chatted for a while about their work and the travels they have experienced over the years discovering they both had a love for travel and exotic locations. Taking Helen’s hand, Tom said how he is so happy he had met Helen at the races as he instantly felt a connection with her and that the fate of the winning horse “new beginnings” represented new beginnings for them. Helen said she felt it too, then he leant in toward her and kissed her softly. Helen felt like a fire had been reignited inside her as it had been many years since she had been touched by a man. Tom continued to kiss her more passionately and held her close to him and she could feel his strength which made her legs go weak as she succumb to him. Tom didn’t want to rush Helen so didn’t go any further allowing her to revel in his sensual sampling. Helen was breathing heavily when Tom stood up saying he better check on the food.
Helen could hear the clattering of pots and plates and entered the kitchen to a beautiful aroma which made her feel hungry. She started to set the table as Tom dished up the meal onto the plates and then carry them to the table. They both lifted their wine glasses and clinked them saying a toast “To new beginnings”. Helen commented on how nice the chicken was, telling Tom what a good cook he is.
After they finished their meal, they helped each other clear away and pack the dishwasher. They refilled their wine glasses and retreated to the lounge room once again. Tom was complimenting Helen on how beautiful she was and what a beautiful smile she has. He moved closer to her and started to kiss her again and ran his hand down her slender thigh. Helen’s breathing became heavy and she groaned at the caress from Tom’s hand. Tom moved his hand across her blouse and he could feel her nipples erect under the fabric. Helen snapped out of her sensual fog asking Tom “You aren’t married, are you?” and Tom replied “No, I am separated”. Helen relaxed and resumed their passion running her hand over Tom’s chest, feeling how hard and muscular he was. Their lust led them to the bedroom where they explored each other’s bodies and got lost in ecstasy.
A few hours later snuggled together naked, Tom slowly ran his fingers over Helen’s skin causing goosebumps to arise as his soft touch tickled her. He looked at his watch and gasped “Geez its midnight, I have to go, the kids will have me up at the crack of dawn”. Helen sat bolt upright exclaiming “I thought you said you were separated” Tom replied “yeah we are, but we live in the same house in separate bedrooms.” Helen shocked with her own feelings of being betrayed just couldn’t comprehend how living in the family home just in separate bedrooms made them “separated”. Helen’s mind was racing “How old are your children?” Tom replied “5 & 3, my ex has had our daughter sleep in the same bed as her since she was born so we haven’t been intimate in years”. Helen was really struggling “but I thought you were separated, in separate houses, split up like normal marriage breakdowns” Tom could see Helen was distressed “Relax, I am doing the house up so we can sell it and go our separate ways” Helen couldn’t’ come to terms with it saying “No, no, no, what have I done? I was cheated on and now I am having sex with you cheating on your wife”
Helen jumped out of bed grabbing her clothes covering herself as though her sacred body had been violated. Tom jumped out after her to try to hold her telling her “It’s ok, it’s ok”. Helen snapped back “No it’s not OK, you should have left your wife before starting up new relationships with someone else” Tom snapped back “My wife doesn’t work, I couldn’t just leave her and the kids in a mess” Helen felt like her head was in conflict with itself, partly thinking it’s true they would be in a mess but then thinking he still should have waited until he was free before seeking a new relationship. Suddenly it dawned on her, Tom wasn’t looking for a relationship like she was, he was just wanting a hook up because he wasn’t getting it at home. Helen felt sick, she wanted to throw up. She felt so foolish, so gullible that she had been so vulnerable for attention and let her guard down.
Helen shouted “Get out Tom, go home to your kids, I don’t want to see you again” Tom started pulling on his trousers and saying “I don’t know why you are so upset, I told you we are separated”. Helen said “How do I know that, you could just be lying and cheating on your wife at home with the children waiting for your return, no…… get out”
Tom stormed out of the bedroom and slammed the door; Helen could hear him stomping down the staircase and out to his car which sped off with the tyres screeching.
Helen fell onto the bed smothering her face into the pillow sobbing, all the feelings of betrayal she had from her past came flooding back. The hurt, pain, and sadness gripped her all over again but this time she was the ‘other woman’, the accidental mistress.
Author - Cheryl Duffy
Cheryl Duffy, Mediator, Divorce Coach & Author of The Divorce Tango