Mrs. Perfect(10)

By: Jane Porter

“I have some groceries in the car,” he says, taking a sip from his glass before putting the goblet on a table near the barbecue. “You girls relax. I’ve got dinner under control.”

He heads for the garage to get the groceries he picked up on the way home. Lucy watches him go. “You’re lucky,” she says wistfully as he disappears into the garage.

“Because Nathan grocery shops?”

“Because he obviously still adores you.”

I don’t know what to say, because I am lucky. I’ve always been the first to admit it. I knew when I met Nathan that big things would happen. I saw right away that he had the potential for something big and knew it was my job to bring it out in him. It’s not that I didn’t believe in me. I just realized my skills would be best put to use supporting him. To drawing out his potential and helping however I could best help, whether it’s opening doors or keeping them open.

Good wives are a tremendous asset.

You shouldn’t ever underestimate the power a good wife brings to not just marriage, but careers and life in general.

When I look at couples who’ve divorced, you see what they’ve lost. Not just materially, but socially. Their bank account has taken a hit, but more important, so has their clout and respect.

Which brings me back to Lucy, but Lucy’s turned to face Lake Washington, the Seattle skyline, and the Olympic mountain range. During summer, the sun sets on the far right corner of the mountain range, giving us the most amazing red-and-hot-pink sunsets on the lake.

“It’s beautiful here in summer, isn’t it?” she says on a sigh.

“My favorite time of the year.”

She nods agreement. “I always wanted to be on the water. And you have such a nice dock, too. Perfect for your boat.”

“It does make it convenient,” I agree, lifting a hand to shade my eyes. The boat is Nathan’s toy. He likes to go out on the lake a few times a week during the summer, just cruise around with a great bottle of wine. He doesn’t go out in the boat as much as he used to, though. In fact, lately he’s started to talk about selling the boat, something I don’t understand, as Nathan loves boating almost as much as he loves golfing.

Turning, I catch Lucy watching Nathan through the kitchen window where he’s standing at the sink, rinsing something. Lucy’s expression is wistful. So wistful that for a moment I wonder if it’s Nathan she’s been sleeping with.

Immediately I push the horrifying thought out of my head. Don’t want to think like that. Can’t think like that. Nathan wouldn’t have an affair. He just wouldn’t. I know him too well.

“Let’s see what the kids are doing,” I say, injecting cheer into my voice as I lead Lucy into the house and up the curving staircase in the hall.

The hour before dinner passes, and then we’re all sitting at the table on the terrace, enjoying our meal beneath strings of twinkly lights. After dessert, the kids dash off, disappearing upstairs into the big bonus room again. Nathan lingers for a bit before excusing himself, leaving just Lucy and me at the table.

It’s a quiet night on the lake, and silence envelops the table. I get the sense that Lucy wants to open up, have a real talk, but I won’t let it happen. I’m sure Lucy’s confused and fearful and probably in some pain, but it’s not something I can deal with. My mother’s affair destroyed our family and killed the relationship I had with her.

“You’re angry with me,” Lucy says in a small voice, her words so faint that they’re nearly swallowed by the night.

I open my mouth to disagree but end up saying nothing.

“It wasn’t what Peter’s telling everyone. There wasn’t this big affair. It was one night. One mistake. A terrible mistake.”

It feels as though she’s dragging her fingernails down a chalkboard. My skin crawls. I want to get up, walk away. “What were you thinking?”

For a moment, I don’t think she’s going to answer, and then she whispers, “I thought he loved me.”

I’m silent, my throat thick, my chest aching.

“I just wanted to be loved again,” she adds even more softly.

“Now you’ve lost everything,” I blurt out.

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