Sex, Lies & Champagne(2)

By: Kris Calvert


My heavy tears fell like rain on Tristan’s blond curls. Taking a measured breath, I looked René in the eye. I was emotionally exhausted as was Tristan, now asleep in my arms.

“I waited a lifetime for the girl I saw in the café,” he said, his steady voice soothing me with his sentimental words. “The one drinking coffee and reading her book. The beautiful girl who captured my heart.” René brushed a soggy tendril from my wet forehead. “You wore a yellow sundress. You’d broken your shoe. Seeing you for the first time was like looking into the sun, and yet I couldn’t tear my eyes away.”

My mind wandered back to that day. Backpacking through Europe with friends after college graduation, I’d ventured on my own to Épernay. When I tripped and broke the strap on my sandal, I stopped at a small café in the heart of town for coffee. The manager offered me a piece of duct tape to repair it. René walked by. He was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen. My French was subpar, his English perfect. And the way he spoke to me—as if I was the only woman ever created by God himself. He’d always treated me like a queen from the moment we met—even when I questioned why he would ever choose to be with me. And now, not only had he betrayed me, he’d fathered a child outside of what I believed was the perfect marriage with the perfect man.

I shook off the memory and his words. They were too heavy with regret. The regret of a person caught in a trap of his own doing. “No, René. You can’t talk your way out of this. This is more than a one night stand with a random woman on a drunken night out with Garan,” I hissed, referring to his oldest and best friend. “How could I ever know if she’s the only one, René? Maybe you have women stashed all over France. Women with whom you’ve fathered even more children.”

His voice rose for the first time. “Don’t be ridiculous, Simone. You know me better than that. You and Tristan are my life. My whole life.”

“Do I, René? The last time I checked, we took vows to love and cherish each other—to remain faithful to one another.”

He took a seat in the chair across from me with a heavy sigh, surveying the suitcases and clothes strewn about the room. “Simone,” he muttered, dropping his head. “We both know you haven’t been well since the baby came. We both know you haven’t been faithful to me, my love.”

I bristled. “You think I’ve been with another man?”

He nodded.

“Who?”

René blinked hard, focusing his gaze on Tristan, asleep in my arms.

“You think I’m cheating on you with our son?”

His reply was short, and sober. “Yes.”

I stared through him. Nothing René said made sense to me. Not anymore. Not tonight.

“In the last three years I can count on my hands the number of times we made love, Simone.”

I stiffened once more, but didn’t speak. It was true. But it wasn’t because I didn’t love René. My priorities had shifted from wife to mother—my thoughts often scrambled and joyless after Tristan was born. Unable to sleep well and often overwhelmed by being a mother when I had no idea how to do it well enough for the miracle we’d created in Tristan, I had trouble concentrating or mustering interest in what had once brought me great joy. “You’re telling me you made love to another woman because I gave too much attention to our son? The son you say is the love of your life?”

“I know you want to be the best mother, Simone. And you are. But in the process you’ve neglected what gave us Tristan in the first place—our love. Us.”

“There is no us. You gave up on us when you had sex with that woman!” Tristan flinched in my arms, but didn’t wake. He was too exhausted. I gently rocked him, trying to make up for my outburst, then fell into tears once more. “And without a condom, René? How could you be so selfish?”

René stood and paced. Tristan stirred again. I rocked him harder.

“My love, in order to have given you anything, we would have to fuck!” The words seethed from his clenched teeth as he shouted in a whisper.

Gasping, I stood, cradling Tristan’s head in my hand. Rushing from the room, I gently placed him in his bed. He was almost too big for the crib, but I wasn’t ready to give up the things that still made him my baby. Not yet.

René stood beside me, leaning in to stroke the blonde curls on Tristan’s head. My body shook with anger and adrenaline at the mere brush of René’s shoulder to mine. Tears fell from my eyes, leaving wet stains on the striped blue crib sheet. “How could you do this to us? How could you do this to me?”

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