Leah went back to sit on the bed, waiting for Charlie to wake up. That was the last straw. She needed to talk to him about what was going on. He must have felt her presence close to him but not relaxed, because he woke up just minutes later.
“Good morning, love. Are you alright?” Charlie asked innocently, his eyes full of what seemed like genuine concern.
“Charlie,” Leah started slowly. “Where did that black wrapping paper come from?”
“One of the guys gave it to me last night when we went out. He just gave me a little gift.”
“To celebrate what?”
“Guys can’t give random stuff to their friends?”
“Of course they can. But it’s very rare. And not so soon after the recipient gets mystery calls all the time that he doesn’t want his wife to hear but calls that she hears anyway.”
“What are you talking about, Leah?”
“I overheard your phone conversation the other night. Saying you can’t wait to see that person again and that you would take a nice bath with them with some wine. That you’re coming up on a relationship milestone.”
Charlie shifted, laying on his back and staring at the ceiling. He took a deep breath and began explaining. “Leah, I love you more than life itself. But I’ve recently discovered that you’re not the only one I love.”
“Who else do you love?” Leah knew that it was a man, and that that man’s name was Ryan, but she needed to hear Charlie say it.
“His name is Ryan.”
“He came into the shop yesterday. Bought a set of dog tags and asked me to engrave them. So today is your one month mark with him?”
Charlie looked over at his wife when she said that. He nodded, not taking his eyes away from hers.
“So you’ve been cheating on me with a man. Is it at all because I haven’t been doing something that you need from me?”
Charlie immediately got up and went to Leah, kneeling in front of her and reaching up to put his hands on her shoulders. He was about to start speaking, but he stopped. “Hang on,” he said, getting up and going to the bathroom.
Leah heard the sounds of him brushing his teeth and washing his face, wondering why he cared about morning breath when they were discussing him cheating on her. Morning breath was the least of their problems at the moment.
Charlie returned, taking his spot on his knees in front of her again and placing his hands on her shoulders once more. “Leah, I didn’t turn to Ryan because of anything you did. You have done nothing but give me everything I want, and you have taken care of me very well, and I still love you more than life itself. You’re still so, so important to me.”
“But?” Leah asked despite a lump in her throat with tears stinging her eyes.
“But once when I was out with the guys, I met Ryan. He and I talked a lot that night, and when the guys decided to go to another bar, I stayed to keep talking to Ryan. He bought me several drinks, and we went to a part of the bar that was a little more quiet, and he was telling me about how he used to be straight, but he wanted to try being with another man once, and he was hooked. He isn’t completely gay, he still loves being with women too, but he likes to be with men as well.”
“So he convinced you to try him that night and you got hooked on it too?”
“Not that night. But yes, that’s what happened in essence. It’s just different being with him than it is being with you.”
“So you still love me, but you’re cheating on me.”
“I would have thought you wouldn’t mind, since it’s another man.”
“It’s still cheating, Charlie. When we talked about maybe bringing in another woman and how that wouldn’t be cheating, that was because you would be right there with us. It’s not cheating if everyone agrees. You were hiding this from me completely. I only found out because I overheard your phone conversation and then Ryan came into the shop and I saw the same wrapping paper I used on those dog tags in our bathroom trash can.”
Charlie didn’t seem to know what to say to that. He just stared into Leah’s eyes and when he saw the tears fall from them, tears welled up in his own eyes as well. After a moment, he said, “I’m sorry, baby. I don’t know what to say other than ‘I’m sorry.’”
Leah shook her head once and moved to get up, forcing Charlie to shift his weight back on his heels so she could move. She walked over to the window and stared out at their yard.
“Well, didn’t you tell me once that you’d be open to bringing in another man as well? In the same conversation where we were talking about bringing in another woman?” Charlie asked, desperate to keep Leah from being upset.
“We also mentioned bringing that third person in once and then never talking to them again to preserve our relationship, Charlie. Not an ongoing thing.”
“So you would be opposed to pulling a Charlie Sheen and having two men living with you?”
“Charlie Sheen is Charlie Sheen. He can do whatever he wants because he’s Charlie Sheen. And I believe his ‘goddesses’ are mostly there for him, not that they were together and then joined him. This is something where you have a lover on the side and you want to keep him, so you’re asking me if I want to share you with him. This is you trying not to have to make a choice.”
“I don’t want to have to make a choice.”
“You married me, Charlie. You made a commitment to me. The fact that you have someone else now that you’re adding into the mix tells me that that commitment means nothing to you. That you just want to keep doing what you’re doing and try to make it seem like the best thing for everyone.”
“You’d really like Ryan, though. And I think he would really like you, too. You just might fall in love with him, as easily as you fall in love.”
“Not when he stole my husband in the first place, I don’t.”
“He didn’t steal me, my love. I’m still here with you. I still love you.”
“And you lied to me and you were hiding phone calls with him from me and…. You know what, that’s why I let you have guy time and I don’t beg to come along with you. I trusted that you would remember that I’m your wife and I’m supposed to be the one satisfying you. I trusted that you wouldn’t go off and hide things from me. This isn’t even about you being with a man now, it’s about trust and how you broke mine.”
Leah had given Charlie something else he couldn’t find an answer to. She shook her head again and went to the closet to get dressed. She couldn’t stand to be in the house with him for another minute with how upset she was. She didn’t even care if Charlie brought Ryan over while she was gone. She just needed to get out of the house.
She called her best friend Marlene and explained the situation as she was driving, and Marlene graciously invited Leah over to her house immediately. Leah spent over three hours with Marlene, crying and drinking the Jack Daniels bourbon Marlene kept in the house and crying more, and Marlene kept up with her in sympathy. Leah didn’t know where to start when it came to thinking of a solution.
That evening when Leah decided it was time to go home, she was thoroughly intoxicated, so she left her vehicle at Marlene’s house and called a cab to take her home. She managed to unlock the front door and make her way to the couch, lying down and turning on the television to select a movie she didn’t really need to concentrate on. She heard footsteps in the kitchen and sat up to look.
Charlie was there, and Ryan was with him. They were apparently making dinner and Leah hadn’t even noticed. The men stopped what they were doing and looked at her, and she looked at them. She only held their gaze for a few seconds, however; her body decided it was time that she fall asleep until her drunkenness had subsided.
When she woke up, she was in her bed with the covers over her. She remembered what had happened the day before, and she was surprised that she had ended up in bed instead of the men leaving her on the couch. She pulled the blanket back and found that they had even changed her clothes. There was also a note on the bed next to her pillow. It read:
“Leah, I’ve told Ryan about you, and he thinks the three of us could make it work. It’s up to you what you’d like to do, but until you make your decision, I’m going to give you some space to think, and I’m staying with Ryan. I hope we can work things out. Much love, Charlie.”
“Well, you kind of made my choice for me, didn’t you? Staying with Ryan instead of with me while I think about things. I hope you’re happy with him, since you chose him over your wife.” Leah thought, and went to the kitchen to find the telephone number of a divorce attorney in the phone book.