Samantha sat on the couch of her cozy suburban home, pretending to be engrossed in a TV show that held no interest for her. With each passing minute, she checked her watch, growing increasingly anxious.
Her husband, Harold, was supposed to be home hours ago. Their two children had long since fallen asleep, growing accustomed to their father’s absence after work in recent months.
Suddenly, the door swung open, and Harold entered the room, casually tossing his tie on the couch without even glancing in Samantha’s direction.
“Hi, Harold!” Samantha greeted him, forcing a cheerful tone. “Working late again?” She got up, intending to help him with his jacket.
“Do you really have to ask me that every time? You know how demanding my job is,” Harold snapped.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything by it. Just trying to make conversation,” Samantha replied, her voice tinged with sadness as she made her way to the kitchen.
“I made meatloaf for dinner,” she mentioned, taking a plate from the microwave. “The kids absolutely loved it! Would you like me to warm some up for you?” Samantha turned to find an empty living room before her.
Letting out a deep sigh, she placed the plate back in the microwave, her heart heavy. With a heavy heart, she headed to the bedroom, where she found Harold already dressed in his pajamas, ready to climb into bed.
“Aren’t you going to eat?” Samantha asked, standing by the bedroom door.
“I’m not hungry,” Harold replied coldly.
“Oh…” Samantha uttered softly, taking a seat on the bed and gently placing her hand on her husband’s leg. “Harold, I think it’s important for us to talk. The children have hardly spent any time with you lately. I feel…” Samantha began, but Harold abruptly interrupted her.
“I don’t have time for your constant complaints, Samantha! Not today! I have a busy day tomorrow. Whatever you want to discuss, we can talk about it some other time!” Harold snapped, turning his back to Samantha with hostility.
Samantha felt a pang of hurt but remained silent. She walked to the bathroom and stood before the mirror, her reflection blurred by tears streaming down her face.
The familiar tormenting thoughts rushed through her mind: What’s wrong with you? Why do you always mess things up? When will you finally get it right, Samantha?! You must be doing something terribly wrong!
This sense of brokenness had become all too familiar for Samantha. She felt as though the confident, beautiful, and vibrant woman she once knew had faded away, replaced by a shattered soul staring back at her from the mirror.
Harold glanced indifferently at the plate on the table before turning to Samantha and saying, “I’m good. I’d rather grab a hotdog at the bus station.”
“Gosh, Samantha! When are you going to clean up around here? It looks like a pigsty,” Harold complained, surveying the cluttered kitchen and living room.
Jane calmly sipped her milk, tuning out her father’s ongoing complaints in the background. It was a familiar scene for Samantha and the children.
“My boss and his wife will be joining us for dinner tonight. The house needs to be spotless!” he continued.
“Sorry, I had to make breakfast and get the children ready for school. I’ll clean up after we finish eating,” Samantha explained.
“Whatever… I have to get to work,” Harold said, glancing at his watch. “Bye, kids!” he added, kissing them each on the cheek. They shifted uncomfortably, not reciprocating the affection.
“Bye, dear,” Samantha responded as Harold headed for the door, barely acknowledging her presence.
“Yeah… See you later!” Harold called out, closing the door behind him.
As always, Samantha did her best to hide her pain, especially in front of the children. “Come on, my darlings! Finish up your breakfast so we can get you to school,” Samantha said with a forced smile.
Later that evening, Harold and his boss, Don, enjoyed a game of pool after dinner while Don’s wife, Amanda, assisted Samantha with the dishes in the kitchen.
Amanda regarded Samantha with a mixture of concern and curiosity as she washed the dishes. Sipping her wine slowly, she pondered something on her mind.
“Samantha… Can I ask you something?” Amanda finally spoke up.
“Sure,” Samantha replied.
“Are you happy?” Amanda inquired.
“Yes, of course,” Samantha responded, feigning a sense of contentment.
Amanda and her husband were in their late 50s and early 60s, respectively, about fifteen years older than Harold and Samantha. Amanda was known for her directness, and her years of experience added wisdom to her straightforward manner. It wasn’t difficult for her to see through Samantha.
“Really? Because happy women don’t address their husbands by their first names, and they don’t tense up every time he calls them,” Amanda remarked, placing her drink down and fixing her gaze on Samantha. “Does he hurt you?”
“What? Harold? No!” Samantha scoffed, dismissing the idea. Amanda remained silent, her eyes penetrating Samantha’s as she took a seat at the kitchen table. Samantha joined her.
“Well… he can be a bit controlling, and he yells at me from time to time, but he has never laid a hand on me,” Samantha confessed.
“Controlling? In what way?” Amanda inquired, leaning in closer.
Samantha glanced cautiously towards the gaming area where Harold and Don were still engrossed in their game. Seeing they were occupied, she continued, “He doesn’t like me leaving the house unless it’s to take the kids to school.”
Samantha suddenly burst into tears, overwhelmed by her emotions. Amanda comforted her with a hug, providing a supportive shoulder to cry on. Amanda assured Samantha that she didn’t have to endure this any longer.
“Your husband has the day off tomorrow. Maybe you should spend some quality time together as a family and address these issues,” Amanda suggested, handing Samantha a tissue from her purse.
“Day off? He didn’t mention anything about having a day off,” Samantha exclaimed, taken aback by the revelation.
“In that case, I suggest you follow him tomorrow and find out exactly what’s going on in your marriage,” Amanda advised. “And don’t let them see your tears, my dear,” she added.
Samantha nodded in agreement, wiping away her tears as she checked her reflection using her phone.
“Amanda! It’s time to leave, my love! Early morning ahead,” Don called from the other room.
“Goodbye, my dear. Here’s my number in case you need anything,” Amanda said, handing Samantha a business card. Samantha tucked the card into her bosom and escorted Don and Amanda to the door.
Later that night, Samantha quietly entered her daughter’s room and retrieved her phone from the bedside table. “Mom? What are you doing?” a sleepy Jane asked.
“I’m sorry for waking you, sweetheart. Mommy needs to borrow your phone for a little while. I’ll return it to you after school tomorrow,” Samantha whispered.
“Okay… Love you,” Jane mumbled, drifting back to sleep.
“Love you too, my sweetie,” Samantha replied, planting a tender kiss on Jane’s forehead before slipping out of the room.
The next day, Samantha observed Harold as he got ready for work. “Will it be another long day, Harold?” she asked, watching him from the bed.
“What?” Harold grumbled, irritated. “Every day is a long day, Samantha. Some of us have to work to make a living,” he snapped dismissively.
“Alright,” Samantha said, holding her tongue. “But could you do me a favor?” she continued, retrieving a phone from her bedside drawer. “I need you to get Jane’s phone repaired,” she requested, handing him the phone.
Harold rolled his eyes and pocketed the phone. “Sure. I’ll take care of it after work.”
“Thank you,” Samantha said, flashing a sly smile.
Once Harold left for work, Samantha activated the tracking app on her daughter’s phone. She had installed it a few months ago for safety purposes. The tracker indicated that the phone was currently at a cafe near their home.
Attempting to blend in, Samantha changed into a hoodie and donned a pair of sunglasses. With a determined stride, she made her way towards the cafe.
She surveyed the cafe as she entered, finally spotting her husband seated with a young blonde woman with his back to her. Samantha recognized the woman; it was Harold’s secretary. She prowled towards them and sat at the table behind Harold with her back towards the pair. Samantha eavesdropped as they conversed behind her.
“I’m so glad you could join me,” the young woman exclaimed.
“Me too, sweetheart. It’s been nearly four years since we last came to this cafe,” Harold replied. Suddenly, Samantha gasped in disbelief.
Startled by the noise, Harold turned his head, but before he could see what had caught Samantha’s attention, the young woman grasped his hand, redirecting his focus.
“Darling, I need to use the restroom quickly. Could you please order me a cappuccino, just the way I like it?” the woman said flirtatiously, rising from her seat and planting a kiss on Harold’s cheek before leaving.
As she departed, Harold’s phone began to ring. “Hey, honey!” Harold greeted, answering the call. “I know, I know. I miss you too. Don’t worry, I’ll come up with an excuse to tell my wife, like a business trip or something. Then we can be together.”
Samantha felt tears welling up in her eyes. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Her husband wasn’t just having an affair with one woman but evidently had multiple indiscretions.
A wave of nausea washed over her. If she remained in the cafe any longer, she feared she would either vomit or commit a heinous act. Ignoring the impulse to confront them, she made the decision to keep her composure for the time being and swiftly left. The moment she reached her car, she let out a piercing scream, releasing her pent-up emotions.
Samantha returned home in tears, her emotions overwhelming her. “What’s the matter, Mom?” her daughter asked, concerned, as she hurried through the door. Samantha attempted to speak, but the words escaped her.
She hadn’t anticipated her children’s early arrival that day and wasn’t prepared for such a profound conversation. Not today! Jane, displaying her astuteness, simply inquired, “Is it Dad?”
Samantha nodded, finding solace in her little girl’s embrace on the couch. “Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll stand by you no matter what. And I know Kyle will too. We’ll understand if you decide to leave him. We’re here for you,” Jane assured, offering comfort to her mother.
Looking up at her daughter with affection, Samantha wiped away her tears. “Thank you, my love.” Then, with newfound determination, she added, “Call your brother and start packing your things. We’re leaving!”
Samantha and the children swiftly gathered their belongings, preparing to depart for Samantha’s mother’s house later that day. As Samantha rummaged through the closet, she stumbled upon some unfamiliar documents hidden on the top shelf.
She skimmed through the papers and soon realized they were financial records from Harold’s workplace. The contents would have been incomprehensible to most, but luckily, Samantha wasn’t just anyone.
Although she hadn’t been employed for the past decade, she had graduated at the top of her class with an economics degree. Utilizing her skills, she deciphered all the money transactions and made a startling revelation: Harold had been embezzling 10-15 thousand dollars every month from Don’s company and channeling the funds to his mistress.
Without hesitation, Samantha searched for Amanda’s business card and dialed her number. “Hello, Amanda. Could we please meet? I need to show you something.”
Samantha arranged a meeting with Amanda at her home and presented all the evidence she had uncovered. Together, they confronted Don with the documents, leaving him astounded at Samantha’s ability to decipher them so quickly.
“This is remarkable!” an astonished Don exclaimed, flipping through the papers.
“Isn’t it alarming that your company was being embezzled?” Samantha asked, perplexed.
“No, it’s your deciphering skills that are remarkable. These encryptions are incredibly robust. It would have taken my financial experts an entire day, maybe even more, to crack them. I wasn’t even aware of what was happening until you explained everything,” Don clarified, adjusting his glasses as he continued reading.
“Thank you, Don,” Samantha expressed. “So, what are your plans?” she inquired.
“Don’t worry, Samantha. Leave everything to me. I’ll take care of it. Thank you for bringing this to our attention,” Don assured.
Don promptly notified the police, and with the assistance of Jane’s phone, they tracked down Harold at a local hotel. The authorities apprehended him alongside the very mistress whose accounts had received the embezzled funds. Harold was arrested on charges of financial fraud and eventually sentenced to prison.
One day, as Samantha was leaving for one of Harold’s ongoing court hearings, she ran into Don. “Hi, Don!” Samantha greeted, embracing him.
“Samantha, my dear!” he responded warmly.
“How’s Amanda?” she inquired.
“She’s doing well… Always asking about you. Actually, these days, so am I,” Don admitted.
“Listen, if this is about Harold, I’m not the right person to ask. I’m here solely because Harold deserves a fair trial. I owe that to my children. I helped him get a lawyer, and that’s where my involvement ends,” Samantha clarified.
“Oh, no. I’m not here about Harold. Well, at least not in the way you might be thinking. I’m actually looking for someone to fill his position. And after what you accomplished with those transactions, I couldn’t think of a better candidate,” Don revealed.
“Me? But I lack experience,” Samantha exclaimed, amazed.
“Harold had plenty of experience, and look where it led him. You possess integrity and a sharp mind, Samantha. That’s more than enough in my book,” Don stated, extending his hand. “Why don’t you come to my office tomorrow? What do you say?”
“Oh, wow! Um… Yes, absolutely!” Samantha replied, graciously shaking his hand.
The following day, Samantha went through an interview for the position her ex-husband once held. Impressing everyone with her remarkable interview, Don offered her the job on the spot. For the first time, she felt like a true woman—self-reliant, strong, and courageous. Samantha embarked on a successful career, reclaiming her femininity and beauty along the way.