This extract is from a bit later on in But I Said Forever (read the first extract). Brittany’s nanny, Carly, has shared her concerns that Phillip (Brittany’s husband) may be having an affair. Brittany is certain this is nonsense, so goes to Phillip for reassurance.
“Are you having an affair?” I ask.
Why did I ask that? That isn’t at all what I meant to say. It sounds like I actually believe it. Have I completely lost the ability to hold a meaningful conversation with my husband?
He looks taken aback. “What makes you think that?”
That isn’t quite the firm negative I was expecting.
“One of my friends saw you going into a house with a woman and reported it to me,” I say, trying to lighten my tone. “I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation; I’d just like to know what it is.”
He hesitates a fraction too long. “The fact is that I’ve been seeing another practitioner. An alternative therapist, if you will. Many of my colleagues don’t approve of them, so I’ve kept it quiet. I should have told you, but it slipped my mind. I apologize.”
“That’s okay, but… you’re not ill, are you?”
“No. It’s for the maintenance of general health rather than for the treatment of a specific condition. Nothing at all for you to worry about. Is that all?”
It isn’t, but I’m not sure how to continue and he doesn’t seem inclined to talk. Maybe I should have left this until his days off rather than straight after work. “Yes, that’s fine.”
He turns back to his computer. I slide off the chair and make my way towards the door.
“By the way, Brittany, there’s a charity gala this Saturday that my father’s asked us to represent the family at. I expect you’ll want to visit the beauty parlour and so forth this week.”
Phillip’s mother spent much of my engagement drumming it into me that grooming is vital at events like that and a crucial part of supporting him. I am overdue for a manicure and I’m sure my skin isn’t at its best – having a small child is certainly hard on the looks.
“And why not treat yourself to a new dress? Truro has some nice shops and it’s not far.”
Inwardly, I stiffen. This is what Carly was talking about: a buy-off phrased as a kindness. Does it just sound that way because of what she said?
And how he thinks I have time to spend a whole day shopping is a mystery.
“What a lovely idea,” I say, forcing myself to smile. “Sorry to disturb you.”
“That’s quite all right.”
I creep back across the landing and into James’s room, where I watch him sleep for a while, wishing there was room in his cot for me as well. I thought that speaking to Phillip would reassure me, but it’s actually had the opposite effect. I now have a nagging doubt in my head that Carly may actually have been right. Maybe he really is having an affair.
What worries me most is that I don’t feel hurt by that. I’m shocked from a moral standpoint, but not a relationship one. My marriage – the foundation of my life – is clearly in far worse a state than I realized.
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