Clare flinched at the irritating triple tone that indicated her husband had received a text message. She looked up from her iPad and saw that he was pretending to watch the rugby on the television but actually, he was looking at the ‘phone hidden in his lap. The loathing in her rose from the pit of her stomach. ‘Idiot,’ she thought ‘at least turn the bloody thing on to silent.’ She went back to her email and after a minute said ‘Anything important?’
‘The text message. It’s quite late..anything important?’
‘Oh, um, not really. Just someone from work.’
Someone from work. How very convenient. How very true.
His focus back on the TV, she took a moment to look at him. His long legs stretched out before him; he always looked good in jeans. A white shirt accentuated the tan he had acquired during the endless cricket matches he had played in. You know, to be a part of the village, fit in.
Except she knew that this was a lie. Yes, he had joined the village team but he certainly hadn’t been at all the matches he claimed to have rescued. She knew. She had followed him. Past the cricket ground, through a labyrinth of country lanes to a small cottage with roses around the door. How fucking idyllic.
She looked at him again. Mannerisms, quirks she had always adored now irritated her. The way his hair wouldn’t sit flat, how he wrinkled his nose when he laughed, the way his Yorkshire accent shortened his vowels..‘summer holidays’, ‘come here’…’I love you’.
Clare wondered whether she should confront him. Ask him outright just to watch him panic and self-mutilate any credibility he had left as he tried to lie his way out of it. Like an animal in a trap, gnawing at its own limbs. Her heart was full of utter contempt for him, but that was nothing new. The small wisp of guilt she had once felt had vanished that night she smelled perfume on his shirt. Such a cliche, it was almost embarrassing. But she knew. She knew because she recognised the signs. The loss of eye-contact, the contrived excuses, the spasmodic attentiveness toward her. How he suddenly carried his ‘phone everywhere, never once leaving it unattended where it could be glanced at, noticed, discovered.
Oh, yes. She knew the signs because she had written the book. For eighteen months she had been having an affair and now she had finally got what she wanted. The chance to leave her depressing, wasted marriage without guilt or condemnation. He would be the fucking bastard that copped off with the silly tart from his office and she would be the poor, wronged wife left alone in that massive house.
Clare smiled. She smiled because she knew it was over. She smiled because they had won. She smiled because even in the fall-out from what was sure to become a messy divorce, nobody would ever suspect that all along she had been shagging Stacey too.
Together, they had nailed him.