Rene glanced at the man sitting in front of her desk and realized that he was staring at her as she looked over her records. He smiled when his eyes met hers. He was the guardian and uncle of one of her students and was there for the parent/teachers conference at the school that night. The first time she met him she’d had the passing thought that he was very attractive and charming. The expression in his eyes showed her that he thought the same of her.
“No, I’m not.”
“I’ll see that she works harder on her math equations. If necessary, I’ll get a tutor to help her.” He smiled at her warmly. “Would you like to join me for dinner on Wednesday? Since you’re no longer wearing your wedding ring, I decided to get up my nerve and ask you.”
Rene only hesitated for a few moments. Then she told him yes. It was nice to have someone so clearly interested in her and attracted to her.
She could see that Darion wanted to question her about where she was going, but he knew that he had lost that right. So he’d just greeted the children and Rene told them goodbye. She’d told Darion that she had an appointment and asked him to keep them for a few hours. His discomfort gave her a small feeling of satisfaction.
As soon as she sat down in the restaurant, Rene realized that she’d made a mistake. She felt very uncomfortable as though she were cheating. Technically she guessed she was cheating. She wasn’t ready to date again. She was uncharacteristically quiet during the meal, and Nicolas struggled to carry the conversation. It was a relief for Rene when Nicolas proved that he really was the nice guy that she’d thought him to be.
“I don’t know what’s happened between you and your husband, but if you decide that you’re ready to start back dating, please give me a call. I can see how uncomfortable you are tonight. From the first day that I met you, I wished that you were not married, and I wanted an opportunity to get to know you better. You’re worth the wait!”
Kenan and Malika gave both her and Darion letters that they had written and asked them to read them. Then they went into their bedrooms. Rene fought back tears as she read the letters. The children were begging them not to get divorced and promised that they would be good from now on.
She looked at Darion and saw the raw pain in his eyes that she knew was clear in her own. She sat down on the couch dejectedly. Darion dropped down to his knees in front of her. He was wiping away tears.
“I know that I have given you no reason to trust anything that I say anymore. I don’t deserve your trust. It’s just words, but I don’t know what else to do. I’m begging you for the opportunity to prove to you that I love you with all of my heart. I’m begging you for the chance to show you how sorry I am that I’ve betrayed my vows to you and damaged our family. Please go to counseling with me and try to save our family.”
Rene couldn’t answer him. She didn’t want to make a decision. She still couldn’t make a decision. She had not yet been to see a counselor. She kept putting it off because she didn’t want to examine her feelings. Her emotions felt too raw.
“Darion, please leave. I
—I need to be alone right now.”
Darion rose slowly and then left the house without looking back at her.
Rene went into Malika’s bedroom and called Kenan to join them. She hugged them both tightly. Then she thanked them for their letters and told them that they were not to blame in any way for what was happening between their father and her. She told them that no matter what, she and their father loved them.
“I came to see, Rene. Is she here?”
“Who is it, Sharlee?”
She saw Gina. “Hello, may I help you?”
“I’m Gina. I was hoping that we could talk.”
Gina looked pointedly at Sharlee.
“You have some nerve showing up here, Gina!”
“It’s alright, Sharlee. I want to see what she has to say. Can you take some lemonade out to the kids?”
Sharlee went into the kitchen and then took the lemonade and some cookies outside to the children.
Rene let Gina inside the door, but she didn’t invite her into the living room to sit down. Rene looked Gina over while Gina looked her over silently. To Rene, Gina didn’t look like the type of woman she’d have expected Darion to choose, and Rene was better looking than Gina had expected her to be. Gina had thought she’d find a stereotypical housewife who had probably let herself go after marriage, but Rene clearly hadn’t done that. Gina spoke first.
“I came here to find out your intentions with Darion.”
“Look, I’m not going to beat around the bush. Clearly, you are not satisfying Darion or he would not have turned to me. If you don’t want him, then you need to make that clear to him and stand aside. I’ll treat him like he deserves to be treated.”
Rene was furious! How dare this woman come to her home and presume to tell her what to do!
Gina saw the change in Rene.
“You’d better be glad that my children are here, or I’d give you what you deserve. You stay away from me and from my husband! I’d better not ever see or hear of you again, or I’ll make you sorry that you stuck your raunchy a$s in my business!”
Rene fought for calm. All of this anger was not in her nature. She opened the door and Gina left out. Rene slammed the door closed.
There was a sharp pain in her abdomen, and Rene felt a rush of fear. The pain left and then came again! She went over to the sliding glass door and asked Sharlee to drive her to the hospital. Sharlee called Noah to meet them at the hospital to take the children home with him.
The doctors monitored Rene for the next several hours and then released Rene to return home. It was false labor brought on by stress. The thought of losing her baby terrified her. Rene had to make a decision as to what she was going to do. The stress was beginning to effect her pregnancy.
She went to see the therapist that Sharlee had suggested and opened up to her. The therapist helped her to see that her confidence in herself and her self-worth had been shaken because of Darion’s betrayal. The therapist helped her to understand that Darion’s actions were his own responsibility and his own choices. What she had done or not done in their relationship was no justification for Darion’s cheating.
After her first three meetings with the therapist, Rene had been able to come to a decision. She called Darion over to talk.
Darion looked crushed. Rene continued speaking.
“I don’t know if I can trust you again, but I am willing to try. I’m willing to let you try to earn my trust and love again. I do know that I love you, and I’m afraid to let myself be hurt again. However, I also know that if I didn’t try to work things out with you, I would regret not making the attempt. My therapist helped me to see that we won’t ever again have the same relationship that we had before you cheated.”
She paused to find the right words and then continued speaking.
“However, we can work at building a new one, hopefully, an even better, stronger one than we had before. She said it will take a lot of hard work, and we will have to be fully committed. Are you sure that this is what you want to do? Are you sure that you do not want to be with Gina? Because, I’m not playing games. If I’m not enough for you, then you’d better tell me that now.”
“Rene, I’ve been seeing a therapist too. My cheating had nothing to do with you or with us. It was me who pushed you away. After I lost that promotion, I lost some of my confidence, and because I saw myself as less, I told myself that that is how you saw me too.”
“I understand that now. I should have talked with you about it then. I know I keep saying it, but I’m sorry. I am so thankful that you are willing to give me a chance to prove to you how sorry I am. I’m grateful that you still love me enough to let me try again to be the husband that you deserve.”
“I’m willing to see anyone who can help us.”
“I have one other thing that I need to tell you.”
Darion looked troubled.
“May I move back into the house and help take care of you and the children? We can take our relationship as slow as you want, but I want to make things easier for you now that we have another baby on the way. I can stay in the guest room until you’re ready for me to share our room with you again.”
Rene agreed. He reached out to take her hand, but she moved hers away. He’d done it without thinking, but he respected her feelings. He knew that it would take time before she was ready for a physical relationship with him again, and he was willing to do whatever he had to do in order to regain her trust in him.
They started marriage counseling, and both of them were determined to work hard at rebuilding their relationship. Darion had to show a lot of humility and openness in his activities and thoughts, and Rene was also more open with him about her emotions and thoughts. Eventually, he knew that they had overcome the worst of it when she accepted another wedding ring from him and began to wear it. Then she let him move back into the master bedroom with her.
Sharlee had missed her cycle, and she was in the bathroom waiting for the timer to go off on her pregnancy test. If it was positive, she had already planned on the special way that she was going to tell Noah. The buzzer went off and Sharlee grabbed up the stick to look at it. Her eyes opened wide at the test result and all her special plans flew out the window! She called for Noah to come into the bathroom!
Noah’s mouth dropped open. He hadn’t considered that, but if they were having twins he’d love them both.
Sharlee went to see her doctor later in the week, and the doctor confirmed it. Sharlee was a month and a half along. They shared the good news with Skylar after they returned from the doctor’s office.
“I am! When’s he comin!”
She was just as happy as they’d hoped she’d be when they told her the good news. Skylar started dancing and singing just as she did the first time she’d discussed wanting a baby brother! “I gettin a baby brother! I gettin a baby brother!”
Sky giggled happily. Noah pulled her close and tenderly kissed her forehead. Sharlee looked at them with a soft smile. They let Skylar break the news to the rest of the family. They went over to Sharlee’s parents’ home.
Everyone was excited and looking forward to having a new little family member joining them.