When I got home from Shane’s apartment, Bob was still fast asleep in our bed. As I gazed down at his outline on the bed, I felt guilt fill my chest. I did a really bad thing. I had cheated on him with another man. Maybe Shane and I did have a long history together, but Bob didn’t deserve to be treated this way.
Maybe it would be a good thing that Shane was going to jail. There wouldn’t be any temptation anymore. Okay, I had cheated, but I could make amends.
Yet I couldn’t shake the feeling that Shane and I were meant to be together.
I slept fitfully the rest of the night and I woke up to the sound of Bob in the shower. I lay in bed, still exhausted from sleeping poorly the night before, but too keyed up to sleep. Bob came out of the shower, his thinning hair still damp. “You’re awake,” he noted.
“It appears that way,” I said. “Do you want me to fix you breakfast?”
Bob shook his head, “I’ve got an early appointment at work, so I’ve got to run. But why don’t you come by the office at 3?”
He shrugged, “That’s when Shane is coming by and I get the feeling he might need your moral support.”
Once again, I felt a jab of guilt in my chest. Poor Bob. Doing so much to help the guy I was cheating on him with.
“All right,” I said, even though I had a feeling this was a bad idea.
I arrived at Bob’s office at a quarter to three. I had been hoping to have a few minutes alone with Shane before he made his decision, but he was nowhere to be seen in the waiting area. I talked with Bob’s receptionist Arielle, who coolly batted her lids at me and told me that “Mr. Houseman is still finishing up with a client.” Bob’s receptionist was such a tall beauty that I always wondered if it was possible that something was going on between the two of them. But I told myself that I was being overly suspicious because of all Shane’s indiscretions.
As I settled down in a chair, I noticed two police officers sitting across from me. They were sort of staring at me, which made me very nervous. Not like I have anything to worry about from cops, being a rich white woman and all, but these guys were making me really nervous. I had never seen cops in Bob’s waiting area before.
“You can go in now,” Arielle told me, even though I hadn’t seen anyone leave Bob’s office. Maybe his client went out the window.
I opened the door to the office and sure enough, Bob was in there alone. But it looked like a bunch of people must have been here recently, because there were no less than six chairs set up in front of his desk. “Who was just in here?” I asked him.
He smiled pleasantly at me, almost condescendingly, “Don’t you worry yourself about that, Judy.”
I heard a knock at the office door and I actually jumped. Bob raised his eyebrows at me and called out, “Come in!”
Sure enough, it was Shane. He looked terrible, like he hadn’t slept since I had left his apartment. His reddish hair was disheveled and there were dark circles under his eyes. His feet seemed off-kilter in the footrest. He looked up at me, surprised. “Judy? What are you doing here?”
“Bob thought you might need some moral support,” I said.
Shane tried to wheel into the room, but he was having difficulty due to all the chairs in the room. I got up and moved a few chairs to clear some space for him. I noticed that his hands clutching the wheels of his chair were shaking.
Bob waited until Shane was settled, then folded his arms across his chest, “Well?”
“I… I’ve decided to take the deal,” Shane said. He glanced up at me, then looked down quickly at his legs.
“Oh, that deal’s no longer good,” Bob said.
There was a silence in the room that seemed to last for an eternity.
Shane blinked. “What?”
Bob turned his gaze on me. All of a sudden, I knew he knew. “Judy, where were you last night?”
I didn’t know what to say. I felt my face turning as red as Shane’s looked.
“I called your building, McGrath,” Bob said. “The doorman told me you had a visitor.”
Shane’s hands were squeezing his knees so tightly that I’m sure it really would have hurt him if he could have felt it. “I…”
Bob looked back at me again. He was smiling but his eyes were dark. “Judy? Do you have anything more eloquent to say? No?” He shook his head. “After all I did to help you, I can’t believe you slept with my wife, you fucker.”
“She was my wife first,” Shane said through his teeth.
“Look,” I said. “He was about to go to jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He was feeling terrible and I just came over to comfort him.”
Bob laughed. It was a terrible sound. That was the moment when I knew our marriage was over—there was no coming back from this. “That’s what I love about this,” he said. “You still think he’s innocent. Even in the face of irrefutable evidence, you still believe he didn’t do it.”
“I know he didn’t do it,” I said.
“Tell her, McGrath,” Bob said, his voice low and menacing. “Tell her the truth.”
Shane didn’t look at me. He was still looking down at his paralyzed legs. “Yeah, I did it. Of course I did it.”
Once again, I was rendered silent.
“It was my idea too,” he said. “Take the company for millions. I don’t even know why I did it. I had plenty of money. I guess I was depressed over my injury and you getting married and I just missed the thrill of… well, you know.” He shook his head. “I tried to put a stop to it when things started to escalate, but it was too late.”
I stared at him, “You… you tried to kill that guy?”
He shook his head, “One of the other guys ordered the hit on the accountant when he found out. I didn’t know about it. When I found out, I… I called the police and tipped them off. I couldn’t have lived with myself if someone was killed because of me.”
“Yeah, you’re a real saint,” Bob muttered.
Shane shot Bob a look with his bloodshot eyes. “Anyway, once the police knew, it was just a matter of time. All the evidence led to us.”
I remembered how I felt the first time I noticed lipstick on Shane’s collar when he arrived home from work. Like my whole universe was ripped apart. More than anyone else in the world, I had trusted my husband. And he had betrayed me. Poor impulse control, Bob had called it. When he could no longer fuck other women, he apparently had to turn to crime to get his thrills.
“I’m sorry,” Shane said. His voice was barely audible. “I never wanted you to get hurt, Judy. Never. You’re the only thing in the world that matters to me.”
“How can I believe anything you say?”
He looked away. “You can’t. You shouldn’t.”
“As much as I’d like to give you two time to talk this out,” Bob interrupted. “I’ve got two police officers waiting outside. I’ve informed them of your intention to skip out on your bail.”
Shane stared. “What? I never—”
Bob pressed the button for the intercom, “Arielle, please tell the officers to join us.”
Shane looked like he was going to choke. As the two officers entered the room, he tried to back away, but that’s when I realized why all the chairs were in the room. He was blocked from moving. Not that he could have escaped two police officers in his wheelchair.
“He confirmed it,” Bob told the officers. “He’s planning to leave the country this week.”
Shane shook his head, his mouth wide open. I could have spoken up for him, revealed Bob’s lie, but I felt paralyzed. Shane deserved this.
“Mr. McGrath, you’re under arrest,” one of the officers spoke up, taking a pair of handcuffs off his belt. “Please put your hands where we can see them.”
“Okay.” Shane raised his shaking hands in the air. “But please, please don’t cuff me. I need my arms to stay balanced in my wheelchair and to wheel the chair.”
“We have to cuff you, Mr. McGrath.”
Shane’s shoulders sagged with resignation, “Yeah, okay.”
I watched as the officers snapped the handcuffs on my ex-husband’s wrists. As promised, he slumped down in his wheelchair. One of the officers went behind him to push his chair.
“I’m sorry, Judy,” he mumbled, as he was pushed from the office.
Even with Shane gone, I still couldn’t move. I sat in my chair, staring down at my hands. I noticed the wedding band on the fourth finger of my left hand and felt ill. I slid it off my finger and placed it on Bob’s desk.
“I hope he was worth it,” Bob said.
The orange of Shane’s prison uniform highlighted the red in his hair. I squeezed my hands together in anticipation as he wheeled toward me, briefly raising his right hand in greeting. He grinned at me as he pulled up to the table where I was sitting in the visiting area. “How’s life on the outside?” he asked me.
It had been two weeks and I couldn’t help it. I leaned forward and pressed my lips against his, grabbing his hair to bring his face close to mine.
“Whoa,” he laughed, when I finally pulled away. “You know how to give a guy a good welcome.”
“I missed you,” I said apologetically, lacing my hand into his.
He kissed me again, this time slower, softer, gentler. “I missed you too.”
Shane’s coworker had admitted sole responsibility for the attempted murder. It came out that Shane had been the one who called the police to turn them in and his sentence had been set at 18 months in a minimum security prison. He was up for parole next week.
Of course, his career was wrecked. No financial institution would touch him with a ten foot pole after what he had done. But Shane didn’t seem terribly bothered by it. I guessed after facing twenty years in prison, nothing seemed too bad anymore. And, as he often pointed out, he had me.
After Bob asked me if Shane was worth it, I realized: yes, he was. No matter what crime he had committed, I loved that man. And I vowed that no matter what the outcome of his trial was, I was going to stand by him. Of course, I was pretty glad he didn’t end up going to jail for twenty years.
“I’m nervous as hell about the parole hearing,” he confessed. “I can’t wait to get out of here.”
Despite his words, I thought Shane looked better than he had in ages. He’d always been very pale from sitting in an office all day and now he finally had some color in his face. He looked like he was finally getting some exercise outdoors.
“It’s been a long year,” I admitted. “But I can wait.”
Shane smiled at me and took my hand in his. I could feel his rough palm against mine. I looked down and saw my wedding band reflected in the overhead lights. Just before he went to prison, Shane and I had renewed our wedding vows.
“It was worth it,” he said.
“All of it,” he told me. “Going to jail, getting paralyzed… it was worth it, to get you back.”
It’s the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.
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