Life After Perfect(2)

By: Nancy Naigle

“Donald handled all of the finances. She had no idea how much money was in any of the accounts or even how to access them. I went through everything and helped her set up a new budget, locate the insurance papers—the basics.”

“She knows you’re a project manager, not a banker, doesn’t she?”

“Everyone thinks if you work for the bank, you know everything from checking accounts to mortgages and investments. At least this I could handle. Any of us could have,” Katherine said.

“True. It was still nice of you. How is she?”

“Sad. Devastated. Lost. But thank goodness she’s in financially pretty good shape.”

“It’s her money, you know,” Shaleigh said.

“Bertie’s? Really?” Peggy’s eyes opened so wide, horizontal wrinkles won against the Botox on her forehead. “I’d just assumed Donald had retired, but now that you mention it, I don’t think anyone ever spoke about him having any kind of a career.”

“Family money?” Katherine hadn’t even considered that, but it made sense now that she knew. “But wouldn’t you think Bertie would have been more involved if it was her money?”

“You’d think, but I kind of got the feeling she was a spoiled rich girl when Donald married her. I think his specialty was playing,” Shaleigh said. “Not playing like most of the men. Real play. Fishing, golf. I think I remember him saying he collected sports memorabilia. Something like that.”

“Well, if he was retired, isn’t that what he’s supposed to do?” Peggy said.

“Yeah.” Shaleigh shrugged. “It just surprises me how many couples still let one person handle all of the finances. It’s a big old mess when you’re trying to split things up and the two people’s interpretation of the financial picture is different. It’s just not smart. That’s all.”

Katherine knew that Shaleigh, with her black-and-white thinking, saw her share of the inner workings of marriages gone bad. She always came down a little on the negative side of it, too.

“I’ll be right back,” Shaleigh said. “I see someone I need to say hello to.”

“I was happy to help Bertie in some little way,” Katherine said, then she motioned Peggy closer. “Only I found something that I’d rather not have. I really hate to say anything, but . . .”

“But you’re going to. What?” Peggy prodded.

“So . . .” Katherine tucked in closer to Peggy and lowered her voice. “I need your advice.”

“What’s the matter?” Peggy asked.

“I think Donald had someone on the side.”

Disbelief registered on Peggy’s face. “Why would you think that?”

“It was the last thing I expected to find going through the checkbooks and working up a budget for Bertie.” She glanced around. “But there were monthly checks going to a woman for at least the past two years. Kim Elliona.”

“Never heard of her. It was probably a loan or something,” Peggy said. “Did you ask Bertie about it?”

“I kind of probed about the amounts, but she didn’t seem to know what I was talking about, so I just let it drop.” Katherine folded her arms across her chest, hugging herself at the thought. “Why hurt Bertie like that, or embarrass her if she did know? The guy is dead and gone. Water under the bridge. No use stirring up that kind of pain. Hasn’t she been through enough?” But, then again, if that woman showed up and befriended Bertie to keep her allowance going, Katherine would be forced to tell her the truth. What a mess.

“Well, for the record,” Peggy said looking dead straight at Katherine, “I’d want to know.”

Shaleigh came back. “What did I miss?”

Peggy pushed her hair over her shoulder. “I was just saying that if someone knew my husband was cheating, I’d want to know.”

Shaleigh cleared her throat and gave Peggy an odd look.

“I would,” Peggy said about two octaves too high to be convincing.

Katherine avoided eye contact. This was not a conversation she wanted to have right now, and especially not with Peggy. Tucker Allen was anything but an angel.

Peggy nudged Katherine. “What would you do if you caught Ron cheating, Katherine?”

She sucked in a long breath. “It would be the ultimate betrayal. I’d leave him so fast his head would spin.”

“Easy to say,” Peggy said. “But you wouldn’t want someone to tell you?”

“Oh, I think I’d know.” Katherine wished she hadn’t let Peggy bait her.

“Y’all don’t want to hear statistics on this, and you don’t understand until it happens to you. So, come on.” Shaleigh took one of each of their hands. “We better get inside.”

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