Man Goes on Date with Young Woman not Knowing His Wife Is Sitting Behind Them – Story of the Day

Man Goes on Date with Young Woman not Knowing His Wife Is Sitting Behind Them – Story of the Day

A couple has a nice dinner in a restaurant | Source: Shutterstock

When Sandra and her best friend spot Sandra’s husband, Mark, dining with a beautiful young woman, Sandra can’t help but think he's cheating on her. She soon uncovers damning evidence, but nothing could prepare Sandra for the secret Mark reveals when she finally confronts him.

"... so I'm standing there holding Jeff's work shirt, which is now bright pink and three sizes too small, doing my darndest to keep a straight face while I thank Freddy for taking the initiative to do a load of laundry!"

Sandra burst out laughing as her best friend, Janet, finished telling her about her young foster son's well-meant but disastrous attempt to do the laundry. She quickly quieted down when she realized she was attracting disapproving glances from the restaurant's other patrons.

Although the Mexican restaurant where Sandra and Janet had elected to dine for their girls’ night out wasn't particularly fancy, it was still a more upmarket establishment. The interior was decorated in a stylish blend of rich cream paint, dark leather seating, and exposed mahogany-stained roofing beams. Although they were seated in a booth, it was a booth covered in high-quality faux leather with bronze stud detailing.

"The things we do for children." Janet smiled and shrugged one shoulder. "It was all worth it to see the smile on his face and the proud gleam in his eye. I really wish you and Mark would reconsider applying to be foster parents. It's so fulfilling, and I know you'd be great parents."

Sandra shrugged and prodded at the lime wedge accompanying her serving of Carnitas. “I don’t know, Jan. I'd love to help the kids, but…" 

Although she’d never admit it to Janet, Sandra couldn't help thinking that she'd never be able to bond with a foster child the way she would with her own flesh and blood. Or worse, that having foster children in her home would deepen the longing she'd always felt for a baby. The day the doctor told Sandra and Mark they'd never be able to have children still haunted her on her bad days.

"Hey, isn't that Mark?" Janet pointed off to their right. "You're going to owe me big time if you invited your husband to our girls' night, Sandra."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"I didn't." Sandra slid down toward the end of the horseshoe-shaped booth so she could peer past the lush, potted plants that towered above their table. "He might be here on business, though. He told me he’d be working late, and I know he sometimes brings clients here for lunch."

While the booths lining the walls were all surrounded by potted plants, the main dining area was open and airy. Warm, golden light added to the ambiance but made it a little tricky to spot a person on the other side of the room. Sandra scanned the room for a few moments before Janet tapped her arm.

"There, Sandra, just past the huge chiminea," Janet said helpfully.

Sandra grinned when she spotted her husband weaving through the tables positioned around the chiminea in the central part of the dining room. Mark was dressed in his navy work suit but had discarded his tie. Sandra raised her hand as he approached their table. She was about to wave at him to get his attention when he slid into the booth behind them.

“I’m sorry I kept you waiting, sweetheart,” Mark said.

Sandra peered around the edge of the booth and watched in horror as Mark smiled tenderly at a beautiful young woman before he took her hand and pressed a kiss to her knuckles.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

A strange rushing sound filled Sandra's head, and her heart skipped several beats. She barely noticed when Janet shuffled around the booth to sit beside her. It was all Sandra could do to keep breathing as she heard the woman giggle and watched her lean across the table to whisper to Mark. Mark chuckled at whatever she'd said. He smiled and looked deeply into her eyes when she offered him a bite of food on her fork.

"I’m not sure that's a business meeting, sweetie," Janet said in a low voice.

Sandra turned, and the look of shock and sympathy in Janet's eyes snapped Sandra back to her senses. Tears prickled Sandra's eyes as a wave of humiliation crashed over her. Even though they’d spent twenty happy years married to each other, her husband was having an affair.

“But maybe I’m wrong,” Janet continued in a falsely cheerful whisper, “I mean, I've often had to flirt a little with prospective clients to get them to loosen up. Maybe Mark's doing the same thing."

“No, I think we both know what’s going on over there, Janet,” Sandra hissed. She wiped her eyes. Although her heartbreak and embarrassment still lingered, those emotions were quickly being swallowed by a boiling fury. “The only question now is what I’m going to do about it.”

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“Let’s get the bill and get out of here first.” Janet raised her hand and signaled a waiter. “We can go back to my place, get blind drunk, and—”

Sandra snapped up her fork and rose. “I have a better idea…I’m going to go over there, tell him what a jerk he is, and stick this fork right in his—"

"Woah!" Janet put her hands on Sandra’s elbows and pulled her back down into the booth. "You can't just rush over there and assault him, Sandy. Yes, this looks incredibly shady, but there might still be a reasonable explanation. Mark is not exactly the gung-ho type, and I find it hard to believe he’d have the nerve to even look at another woman."

That was not the response she'd expected from Janet, who had once dragged Sandra into keying a cheating ex-boyfriend's car during college. This was a woman who went sky-diving on her 30th birthday, so if she were advising restraint, then Sandra would listen.

“Maybe you’re right.” Sandra dropped the fork onto the table. “But there’s definitely something strange going on, whatever it is.”

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Sandra turned to kneel and pulled aside a small palm tree's stems so she’d have a clear view of her husband and his… female companion. They’d moved so they were sitting side by side in the deepest curve of the booth, and Mark had put his arm around her shoulders.

They were speaking to each other in whispers, and Sandra couldn’t make out what they were saying. Sandra desperately hoped that if she stared at them long enough, it would become clear that she was wrong and she had no reason to be suspicious. She was wrong.

Mark glanced sheepishly around the restaurant, then raised his menu like a shield. Both his and the woman’s faces were now completely hidden from view. Sandra didn’t know what they were doing behind that menu, but her imagination provided an awful mental image of the pair kissing.

Janet’s shoulder pressed against Sandra’s as she pushed aside the leaves of the fern growing beside the palm. The two friends stared at the scene playing out at Mark's table.

Mark lowered the menu when a waiter arrived at their table with drinks. He gave the man a dinner order, then turned back to the woman and playfully stole another bite of her appetizer.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"There may still be an innocent explanation," Janet whispered. "Doesn’t his boss have a daughter in her early twenties who’s recently joined the company?”

"Yeah..." Sandra whispered doubtfully. "I guess that could be her. I haven’t seen Amy since she was eight years old. And it probably wouldn't make the best impression if I went over there and skewered my husband with a fork in the middle of an innocent meeting."

Janet chuckled. "Definitely not, Sandy."

"But if he is cheating..."

"Then you need to be absolutely certain about it and confront him with the evidence,” Janet said firmly. “I still can’t see Mark having the guts to be unfaithful even if he had the desire, but if I’m wrong, then one of the law firms I work with has several killer divorce attorneys. We won’t just take him to the cleaners, we’ll also leave him a shell of the man he once was."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Ruining Mark's life sounded very appealing right then. The women glanced at each other at the same time. In that moment, they shared an understanding as deep and as ancient as the bonds of sisterhood itself. No matter what happened next, Sandra knew that Janet would support her all the way.

"Excuse me, but is there something in the plants that's bothering you ladies?"

Sandra glanced over her shoulder. A waitress was hovering near their table with a confused smile on her face. Sandra hurriedly gestured for her to come closer.

“No, but something over there is bothering me a great deal,” Sandra whispered as pointed in the direction of Mark’s table. “Do you see the dark-haired man in the blue suit sitting with the brunette in the fuschia midi dress at the table behind us?”

The waitress leaned back and glanced at Mark’s booth. “They’ve been here several times over the past couple of weeks. Do you know them?”

“Are they always that cozy with each other?” Sandra asked.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

The waitress frowned and glanced at Janet and Sandra suspiciously. “I’m sorry, but is there a reason you’re so curious about that table?”

"No, it’s just that I’m sure I’ve seen that man buying clothing for a totally different woman,” Janet cut in. “My friend and I were just debating whether we should post a picture of him on our socials in case he’s cheating.”

The waitress briskly shook her head. “Sorry ladies, but management would have a fit if this restaurant was associated with something so scandalous. If I see either of you snapping photos of anything other than the food, I’ll have to alert my manager.”

“Well, we certainly wouldn’t want to get into any trouble." Janet smiled brightly and gestured to the remains of their dinner. "Could you please bring us the bill and box this up to go?"

Once the waitress left, Janet leaned over to hug Sandra.

"Don't worry," Janet whispered as she rubbed Sandra’s back, "we'll get to the bottom of this."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

The next day, Sandra arrived at Mark's office with a container filled with pasta salad. It had been incredibly difficult to act like everything was normal when Mark arrived home the previous evening, but Sandra had pulled it off.

After they’d left the restaurant, Sandra and Janet had devised a plan to figure out if Mark was having an affair or not. Stage one began when Janet arrived at Sandra’s home that morning, but the next part was all up to Sandra.

She was the only one who could plausibly go to see Mark at work and try to catch a glimpse of Amy, his boss's daughter. If she were the woman they’d seen with Mark, then they’d figure out their next step.

Sandra took a circuitous route to Mark’s office so she could try to spot Amy. After a couple of the employees who knew her asked if something was wrong, Sandra knew she couldn’t investigate any further without looking suspicious.

Sandra knocked briskly on Mark’s office door and then opened it a crack. She peered inside to check he wasn't in a meeting, and her heart stopped at the sight that met her eyes.

Mark was at his desk, studying his computer screen, and the woman Sandra had seen him with the evening before was seated beside him!

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"Sandy!" Mark leaped to his feet and rushed to the door. "What are you doing here?"

"I brought you lunch, honey." Sandra shoved the container into Mark's hands and strode toward the woman. "Hi, I'm Mark's wife, Sandra. I don't think we've met."

Sandra’s heart raced, and her face ached from keeping her smile in place as she thrust her hand out toward the woman. Surely, her suspicions were wrong; this woman looked like she was barely out of diapers!

"You’re Sandra?” The woman’s face lit up, and she enthusiastically shook Sandra’s hand. "Mark’s told me so much about you. I'm Eliza, Mark's—"

"Secretary!" Mark rushed up to join them. "Eliza is my secretary. We were just working on the presentation for this evening's launch event."

Eliza’s smile melted away, and she gave Mark a look that Sandra couldn’t interpret. As she took in the young woman's unusually square jaw and pointed nose, she couldn't help but feel she'd met the young woman before.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“You look familiar… do I know you from somewhere, Eliza?” Sandra asked.

Eliza averted her gaze and shook her head. “No, Mrs. Baker, I don’t think so. I’ve only been working here for a month.”

It seemed to Sandra like Eliza was purposefully not giving her a full answer, but she didn’t press the woman. Instead, Sandra smiled and tilted her head to study the computer screen. Although it certainly looked like the two of them were working on a presentation, Sandra knew her husband was lying to her face.

"I’m sure you never mentioned that your previous secretary had left," Sandra said as she directed a steely gaze at Mark.

"Oh, uh, that's because she didn't leave, exactly. Nina was promoted to work with Mr. Davies after his secretary retired. Eliza here is Nina’s replacement," Mark squirmed as Sandra continued to stare at him. "She’s really great at admin and has a real knack for the creative side of things, too. She could even be an executive here someday."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“Then you should be singing her praises to Davies, not me.” Sandra turned her attention to Eliza. Immediately, the young woman blushed faintly and nervously tucked her hair behind her ears.

"These are exquisite." Sandra reached out to touch Eliza's flower-shaped diamond earrings. “Excellent craftsmanship…it seems that secretaries earn a lot more these days than they did when I was in corporate.”

"Th-they were a gift from my fa-father," Eliza said.

"Wow, did you bring this all the way down here just for me?" Mark interjected. He was peering into the container of pasta salad as though it were the most interesting thing in the world. Sandra looked on he gave the contents an exaggerated whiff. "You really are the best, honey!"

"Who else would I have brought it for, Mark?" Sandra raised her eyebrows at him.

Mark chuckled. "You know what I mean, honey. Thank you so much. This is a great surprise, but...well, Eliza and I already ate."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

“Oh.” Sandra’s gaze shifted to the trashcan. She studied the takeaway containers stuffed in there alongside some shreds of paper with disdain. “I hope you avoided all the high sodium and sugary foods, at least.”

"I did, honey. If I'd known you were coming..." Mark continued.

"Then it wouldn't have been a surprise." Sandra smiled viciously as she leaned over and took the container back from Mark. "Don't worry about it. I'm sure there are a couple of hungry interns roaming around who'll appreciate a homemade meal."

"There absolutely are!" Eliza said. "That's such a kind gesture, Mrs. Baker. Here, I'll take it to the break room and let them know it's there for anyone who wants it."

Sandra dumped the container into Eliza's outstretched arms and watched the woman scurry from the office. It seemed like Eliza couldn’t get away from there fast enough.

The wheels turned in Sandra’s mind. It didn’t look like little Eliza and Mark had been up to anything untoward when Sandra entered the office, but that didn’t necessarily prove their innocence. Mark had spent plenty of nights working late recently. Was he truly working on his big presentation during those nights, or had he been working up a sweat with his secretary?

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"Honey, is everything okay?" Mark put his arms around her waist. "You seem a little...annoyed."

"Maybe that's because you've been acting so guilty ever since I entered your office." Sandra pressed a finger against Mark's chest. "Is there something you'd like to tell me, Mark?"

"Something I want to tell you?" Mark stared at her like a deer caught in the headlights.

Sandra said nothing. Instead, she watched as a variety of emotions flickered across Mark's face and waited for him to break. In the past, Sandra had always found an accusatory silence was enough to get Mark to confess to things like accidentally breaking her china ballerina ornament or running the lawnmower into her flowerbeds.

But it didn’t work this time. Mark eventually settled for a carefully schooled expression of innocence and turned away from her.

"I really don't know what you're getting at, honey. The only reason it might seem like I'm acting guilty is because I was surprised to see you, and I guess I feel bad about already eating lunch."

Sandra wanted to believe him, but his unwillingness to meet her gaze, the way he covered his mouth, and pure intuition all whispered to her that he was lying. She nodded and averted her gaze. She'd hoped Mark might come clean if she offered him the opportunity to do so, but apparently not.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"I guess I'll leave you to your presentation," Sandra said. "What time should I be ready for tonight's launch?"

"Oh, uh, are you sure you want to come? It's not going to be very exciting."

A day or two ago, Sandra would've jumped at the chance to get out of attending this event. It wasn’t even a proper product launch, just a preview to convince key investors to part with their money. But now, Mark's obvious attempt to dissuade her only made her determined to be there.

That didn't mean that Mark needed to know she was there.

Sandra sighed. "Thank you, honey! I'd much rather curl up in front of the TV and catch up on the latest episodes of my favorite series."

There was obvious relief in Mark’s grin. He kissed Sandra on the cheek, told her he’d probably go straight to the launch after work, and asked her not to wait up for him. Sandra left his office in a hurry as she battled to contain the desire to confront him right then and there.

Sandra navigated the roads leading through the city to the elegant, modern home she and Mark shared in the hills on autopilot. Her mind was a maelstrom of disbelief, confusion, and deep, aching anger. Mark was keeping something from her, something big.

All clues pointed to his secret being an affair he was having with his secretary, but Sandra couldn’t help feeling like she was trying to jam a puzzle piece into a spot where it didn’t fit. 

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Sandra parked her sedan in the garage and entered her home. She set her purse down on the chrome and glass hallway table and scanned the tidy, minimalist sterility of her home. She’d never noticed before how much it mirrored the coldness that had crept into her heart since she discovered she was infertile.

She and Mark had moved here ten years ago after they decided to give up on their dreams of having a family for good. They'd left behind their cozy bungalow in a family-oriented neighborhood for a chic, modern home more suited for cocktail parties and tried to make it seem good by joking about not needing to worry about rowdy kids ruining the furniture or breaking the frosted glass panels on the banister. Now Sandra realized how foolish they’d been.

"You're back!" Janet appeared at the top of the staircase. "How did it go? Did you find any information?"

Sandra nodded. "The girl we saw him with is his secretary. They were working together when I arrived... they looked pretty cozy, too."

"Oh, sweetie.” Janet frowned and hurried down the stairs. “I'm so sorry you have to go through this, but I have to tell you that I don't have any good news."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Janet held out a receipt as she approached. Sandra glanced briefly at her friend, then studied the slip of paper in her hand. It was from a local jeweler and listed a four-figure price tag for a custom-made pair of daisy-shaped diamond earrings.

"Oh my God." Sandra put a hand to her mouth. "This is for the earrings Eliza was wearing! She looked me right in the eye and told me those earrings were from her father!" Sandra crumpled the receipt into a ball and threw it down the hallway. "That brazen little witch!"

"It will be okay, Sandy. Not now or anytime soon, but it will be okay." Janet put an arm around Sandra's shoulders. "We're going to use his email to subscribe to every shady, spammy website we can find, but first, we have to confront him."

Sandra nodded. "And we're going to do it during his big presentation tonight."

Janet arched her eyebrows "Are you sure you want to do this at a work function?"

"It seems fitting since he's banging his secretary!" Sandra snapped. "How could he do this to me?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Janet guided Sandra into the sitting room as tears flooded from her eyes. She couldn’t avoid the facts anymore. No matter how much she wanted to believe she was missing something, everything indicated that Mark was being unfaithful. She and Mark had been happily married for twenty years... at least, Sandra had thought they were happy. Where had it all gone wrong?

"Here." Janet pressed a cool glass of water into Sandra's hands.

"Janet, tell me the truth: Did I do something to chase Mark away? Or should I have put more effort into my appearance? Maybe if I had Botox, or gave the girls a lift." She placed her hands beneath her breasts and pushed them upwards.

"There is nothing wrong with the way you look, Sandra." Janet stared into her eyes. "And none of those things are worth it if the only reason you're doing them is for a man. None of this is your fault, okay?"

And deep down, Sandra knew her friend was telling her the truth. Unfortunately, it didn't make her feel any better. She’d forsaken all others, given up her job and career for this man, and it meant nothing to him. She’d even bought shares in the company he worked for to show her support. Mark hadn’t just broken her heart with his infidelity, he’d also thrown all the huge sacrifices she’d made for him into a dumpster and set it on fire.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

That evening, Janet and Sandra pulled up outside the conference center where the launch was being held. It was a brutish-looking building constructed from gray concrete with massive glass windows and sleek brushed steel accents. Wide swathes of natural pebbles surrounding bushy gardenia lined both sides of the smooth, concrete path leading to the entrance.

A security guard stood right in front of the recessed glass doors with his hand resting casually on the baton tucked into his belt. His facial expression suggested that there was some truth to the saying about your face staying stuck in an ugly look if the wind changed while you were making it.

"How do we get in?" Janet asked. "It looks like the security guy at the door is pretty straight-laced. I don’t think he’d accept a bribe."

"There has to be an emergency exit somewhere, right? Or a staff entrance," Sandra replied.

The two women pulled into a nearby parking lot and hurried back to the building. They'd both dressed up in formal gowns and heels so they'd fit in with the other guests, but their attire wasn't that suitable for stealth. They removed their high heels and circled the building on foot until they found an emergency exit. Janet tried the door, but it wouldn't budge.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"It must be the type that can only be opened from the inside," Janet said.

Sandra set her hands on her hips and frowned at their surroundings. Some larger rocks bordered beds of white agapanthus on this side of the building.

Sandra pointed at one of the rocks. “Help me lift this rock, and then we can use it to break the door handle.”

Janet shook her head. “That’s malicious property damage, sweetie. Confronting Mark isn’t worth the trouble we’d get into.”

“Then what else are we supposed to do?” Sandra wrung her hands and tried to think of a solution. She had to get inside, but if this door was inaccessible and the main entrance was guarded, what options did she have left?

“We’ll think of something, Sandy, we just—”

“I got it.” Sandra turned to her friend. "Janet, I'll need you to distract the guard."

Janet sighed. "So long as you promise to bail me out later if I get arrested."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

The security cameras on the front of the building all pointed outwards, so Sandra hugged the wall as she snuck around to the front. Once she was close to the entrance, she glanced back at Janet and gave her a thumbs-up.

Janet pressed her hands together as though praying, then she hobbled toward the entrance with her strappy shoes dangling from her fingers.

“Excuse me,” Janet said with an emotional quaver in her voice, “do you perhaps have some glue? My heels broke, and I've hurt my ankle, and…and…”

Sandra jerked as Janet let out a mournful wail. She couldn’t see what her friend was doing, but judging by the security guard’s muffled protests, it was effectively distracting him from his duties. Minutes ticked by. Sandra was beginning to get anxious when she suddenly heard the security guard let out an outraged cry.

"You can't take that, lady! Get back here."

"I just need to borrow it," Janet cried.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Sandra watched in amazement as Janet took off in the opposite direction. She’d hitched up the skirt of her ankle-length dress and clutched the material in the same hand as her shoes. She held the guard’s baton over her head in her other hand and waved it around as she ran.

“Aw, come on, lady!” The guard yelled as he set off after Janet.

Sandra didn't hesitate to slip around the corner into the recessed area where the entrance was positioned. She slipped through the door and hurried across the foyer.

There was a sign outside one of the doors informing people that Mark's big launch was happening inside. Sandra let out a long sigh and then opened the door just wide enough to peek inside.

There were several tables positioned around the room where men and women wearing formal attire were snacking on canapes. It took Sandra a few seconds to scan the room and locate Mark. Her husband was standing near the bar on the far right of the room, and Eliza was standing beside him. Sandra watched him lean in close to whisper something in Eliza's ear. The young woman started giggling and playfully swatted Mark's arm.

Sandra died a little inside. It was bad enough knowing her husband was cheating on her, but to see him flirting with that hussy in front of a room filled with his colleagues and business contacts was even worse.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Sandra clenched her jaw and slipped inside. She started to circle around the edge of the room as that seemed to be the quickest route to her no-good husband, but then somebody tapped against a microphone.

"Thank you all for joining us this evening." Mark's boss, Mr. Davies, had stepped up to the podium positioned on one side of the room. "As I'm sure you all are aware, we've invited only our most valuable partners and investors to tonight's sneak peek at our most innovative project yet! Mark, would you please come up here to give us all the details."

Sandra paused and watched as Mark and Eliza went up to the podium. She was determined to wait it out and confront Mark after the presentation until she saw Eliza softly run her hand over Mark's shoulder and smile warmly at him.

Sandra snapped. She marched straight across the room, pushing past any wait staff or guests that got in her way. When she drew nearer to the podium, she snatched a flute of champagne from someone's hand.

There was a brief moment when Mark noticed her, and his brow furrowed in confusion. Then Sandra hurled the champagne at him, splashing his face and the front of his suit.

"You dirty, cheating rat!" Sandra shouted. "Exactly how long have you been sleeping with your secretary!?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

Eliza's jaw went slack. She raised her hands to hide her face, but the bright red blush coloring her cheeks stood out like a traffic light between the gaps in her fingers. Tears filled her eyes as she shook her head.

"You've got the wrong idea, Sandra." Mark covered the mic with his hand as he hissed at her. "Please, can we discuss this later? I swear, I'll explain everything."

A laugh burst from Sandra, and she hurled the empty champagne flute to the floor. The delicate crystal shattered into thousands of pieces and made Eliza flinch.

"Oh, so now that I've caught you red-handed, suddenly you have something to explain? Is it the thousands of dollars you spent on a gift for your little hussy," Sandra waved the jeweler's receipt in the air, "or is it the intimate dinners you’ve been sharing with her? Well, where do you want to start?"

"Uh..." Mark fiddled with his shirt collar and smiled awkwardly as he scanned the room.

Eliza stepped up to Mark and put a hand on his forearm. The tears flowed freely down her face, and her lower lip quivered as she spoke.

"Please, acknowledge me," she whimpered, “tell her…”

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"This is ridiculous!" A woman snapped somewhere behind Sandra. "I'm not going to invest another second of my time listening to this scoundrel, never mind trusting him with my clients' money."

A chair scraped across the floor. The gentle clatter of the woman’s high heels on the tiled floor was soon swallowed by the sounds of more and more people leaving the room.

"Wait!" Mr. Davies shoved Mark aside as he leaned over to speak into the mic. "I'm so sorry for this disturbance, but you don't need to leave. Mark will no longer be heading this project. In fact," Mr. Davies scowled at Mark. "you're fired."

“No, please!” Mark turned to Mr. Davies. “This is all a huge misunderstanding. I can explain!”

“Then what are you waiting for?” Sandra yelled. “What did I misunderstand about your casual intimacy with this woman? How can you explain what you’ve been doing behind my back?”

Mark’s gaze switched between Sandra, Eliza, and Mr. Davies. His mouth worked like a fish gasping for air, but no words came out. Sandra had had enough. She turned on her heel and joined the troupe of people heading for the door. She couldn't stand the sight of Mark or his mistress for another second, and nothing he could say would ever justify what he'd done to her.

"She's my daughter!" Mark's cry echoed from the speakers. "Eliza isn't my mistress, Sandra, she's my daughter."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

An icy numbness covered Sandra from head to toe. She froze and looked back at Mark and Eliza. That strong jaw and pointed nose... no wonder she'd thought the girl looked familiar! Her husband shared those features, and they had the same green eyes.

All other sounds disappeared as the rapid beating of Sandra's heart pounded in her skull. She and Mark had never been able to have children, but he had a daughter... and he hadn't told Sandra about her.

"Please, Sandy." Mark hurried across the room to stand in front of her with his hands pressed together. "I wanted to tell you, I've just been waiting for the right time. It happened in college. There was a party at the frat house, and there was this girl... I barely remember anything about it, and I didn't know about Eliza at all until she showed up at our doorstep six months ago—"

"Six months?" Sandra yelled. "You've been keeping this secret for six months?"

Mark hung his head. "I was in shock. And I was afraid you'd be hurt to find out I had a child with someone else after we tried so hard to have one of our own."

Sandra stared past him at Eliza. The young woman had collapsed into one of the many chairs that had recently been vacated and was sobbing her eyes out. Eliza's quiet plea to Mark to acknowledge her now took on an entirely new meaning. 

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

"No, Mark, you were a coward, and you still are." Sandra angrily swiped away the tears flowing down her face. “What you’ve put me through is bad enough, but the way you’ve treated your child is inexcusable.”

Sandra tuned out Mark's babbled excuses as she marched toward Eliza. The young woman stood and looked at her like she fully expected to be torn apart now. All the fury that had rampaged through Sandra mere moments ago stilled in the face of the lonely sadness and resignation in the young woman's eyes.

"I'm so sorry, Mrs. Baker," Eliza sniffed and averted her gaze. "I never meant to hurt you or give you a reason to think... to think...I just wanted an opportunity to get to know my father. I never thought it would turn out like this. I begged him to tell you."

In that moment, and feelings Sandra still had of Eliza being her enemy vanished. An overwhelming need to comfort the young woman rushed in to replace them, and Sandra didn’t even try to fight it. She put her arms around Eliza and hugged her tightly.

"None of this is your fault, Eliza," she whispered. "You did nothing wrong."

Low, heartfelt groans escaped the poor girl as Eliza fiercely returned the hug, and her tears soaked into the fabric of Sandra's gown. She shook in Sandra's arms.

"There, there." Sandra stoked Eliza's hair. "There are no more secrets now and everything’s going to be okay."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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