Second Time Around

Chapter One

It wasn't until I had actually driven for an hour out of town that I finally pulled over to the side of the road and stopped the car. I sat there, seeing the unwanted images in my mind, the images of my husband getting fucked by the contractor we had hired to fence in the backyard of our new home, the ranch house we had just bought the week before in a nice neighborhood outside of Albany. 

Scott had worked in the city for almost ten years as a staff member of a former state representative who was now the sitting governor of the state. We had dated for just over four years, starting almost immediately after we had met at a gallery opening after I had started working for a well-known architect in the city right out of college. My infatuation with him was returned to me by him and we had what I thought was a stable, loving, relationship. We hadn't even moved into the house yet. I had stopped at the house to see the progress on the fence in between appointments at two different projects my company was working on. Thank God I had canceled that second appointment as soon as I got back in my car and drove away from the house before hitting the highway.

Now with some distance from there, I could think and decide what I was going to do now. My initial thoughts of going back and confronting Scott right there was pushed aside almost immediately. They hadn't seen me at the house. I had gone to the backyard to see how the fence project was going and not seeing anything being worked on I started back to the house and saw them in the garage, Scott spread out on the hood of his car and the "handyman" grunting behind him, the two of them naked in the early summer heat.

I knew I had been driving blindly on the highway, but I had come to the conclusion now that I couldn't spend another night in the apartment Scott and I had shared since before our marriage. I took the next exit and got back up on the highway, now heading into the city, resolved to get to the apartment we had shared and get a couple of suitcases packed and get out of there for a while. I was now mad, the initial shock gone, and my thoughts were now focused on getting away, as far as I could from the cheating bastard. Since it was still morning, I assumed Scott would be going into work after his tryst, that was his suit jacket and pants carefully folded on the hood of his car under his head after all.

Once at the apartment, I packed all of my suitcases and took as much of the little stuff of mine I could and packed that too, like my copy of the contract for the new house, my personal bank papers and accounts, my trust account documents, my extra watches and cufflinks, and a garment bag packed with my good suits in it. I took my gym bag, packed with all my workout gear and sneakers, and had room for another pair or two of dress shoes in it. That was the important stuff, but I also packed the photo album of our marriage, my copy of our marriage certificate, and a check from our joint account at the same bank I used for my personal business. I loaded all this into my car and took off for my bank where I used that check to withdraw half of our shared account balance from our joint account and deposited that into my personal account.

I returned to my parked car and began to drive East, soon reaching the Massachusetts Turnpike, entered it, and began my drive Eastward toward the one place I could get my head together for the next step, breaking up with Scott from some distance. From a place I knew I'd be welcome, and commiserated with, where the sympathy I needed now would come to me, I was going to my parents' home. Where my dads' had raised me, the only place I now knew I was truly loved.

My arrival at my dads' house would be a complete surprise to them. I had taken the time to stop at a rest stop near Pittsfield to call work and tell my secretary I was taking off for at least a week due to a family emergency so the partners wouldn't worry about me not showing up for a while. I was torn up more about work than I was about Scott's betrayal at the moment but that was just until I drove off the turnpike to take route 202 through Holyoke and South Hadley to get home, to Granby Mass.

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I'm by nature a very instinct driven person. I have been all my life and of course, there is no telling where it comes from; you see I was a ward of the state since I was two-years-old and had been raised since then by the staff at the group home in Springfield. I had been a clumsy boy and had a bad fall from a tree when I was four. Granted, it wasn't a tall tree, but being a small four-year-old the tree seemed huge, and at the taunting of some of the older boys I was urged to climb it and I had lost my footing and had fallen, breaking my left leg so badly that at the hospital they had removed my leg from the knee down.

It was just one of those things, and with the help of the staff at the home and the generosity of some benefactor, my artificial leg soon became "normal" to me, with repeated fittings and therapy. It had been arranged that as I grew, the prosthetic would be adjusted or replaced if need be and when at the age of seven, I was finally asked to do home visits, by a pair of newlywed guys, I was determined to finally get accepted into a "forever" home.

They were talking to a few other couples, but they really caught my eye when I went into the big sitting room at the home that Friday afternoon. I had not had good luck with these types of gatherings before. Most adults were more than polite to me, often telling me how cute I was, but most of the time you could see them taking in my artificial limb and then scanning the room for a more normal kid to chat up. I would usually go back to my dorm room upstairs after one of those encounters. But that Friday afternoon, when I walked in the room, there were these two guys standing really close to each other, and looking over the room. The thing was, they brushed up against each other; I mean their shoulders or elbows would touch, not the messy kind of sloppy rubbing. Then I saw their hands touch as they hung down as they stood, and then I saw then clasp their hands and gently squeeze each other's hand. Were they as nervous as I was?

I watched for a few minutes more and then started moving closer and I saw that one of the guys, the big blond guy, had a prosthetic lower leg on under his cargo shorts. I wouldn't have known except the other guy, the guy with the dark hair and the great build, dropped something like a silver dollar on the floor and blond guy bent over to pick it up for him. As he bent over, I was just behind them a bit and I saw his long shorts legs rise up as he bent and I saw the top of his prosthetic as he did. Dark hair guy flipped the coin and slapped it on his other hand and I instinctively called out "Heads". He looked at the coin and turned to me and said, "Heads it is!".  I moved closer and saw it was a large St. Christopher medal, not a coin.

I held out my right hand to introduce myself to them. "Hi, are you guys new here?" Inside I was shaking like a leaf, scared shitless if you really want to know. These two great looking guys smiled big and told me their names; dark hair was Richard, and the blond guy was Bradley. I could have responded with my name, but for some reason all I could do, after they shook my hand, was point to the stick-on name badge we kids all wore to these meetings." Bradley Richards" was my name. Richard and Bradley were amazed by this and to be honest, I was what I had heard on TV as being "gob smacked" on a British show on PBS.

We soon were all seated on a sofa at a seating group on the side of the room, chatting about our names, and Brad, as he asked me to call him, answering me when I finally asked about his leg after I had told them about mine. We three chatted for so long that one of the caseworkers, Miriam, finally came over and asked if we were all getting along. Dick, (Richard had said he preferred that over Richard as that was just too formal for him) told her that indeed we were and they were just about to ask if Brad here wanted to try a weekend, or several thousand, at their place. I mean I was seven at the time, almost eight, and I was thrilled that these two adults wanted me to come stay with them, I mean I was named after them, and Brad had the same kind of leg I had and gosh, they were nice guys.

Miriam had me go to my dorm room and pack enough for two days away and the other guys in my dorm room, those still there, asked what I was doing and I just said I was getting away for a while and left it at that, there wasn't one of those losers I ever wanted to see again, those were some of the guys that when I was younger used to tease and taunt me about my leg.

Dick and Brad met me at the sign-out desk, and I had to print out my name on the sheet on the clipboard, right next to their signatures.  One of the office staff went over the rules again with them and with me. So, we all knew I had to be back by six thirty on Sunday and we were off, Brad carrying my bag as Dick took my hand in his as we walked out of the building. The ride seemed long to me, but we did stop at a fast food place and Brad went in and got us each a milkshake, Dick told me it was to tide us all over until dinnertime.

The ride seemed to take just a short time more, but we had probably only gone about half way by the time we had stopped for the milkshakes, which were really good and started another round of talks between the three of us. When we pulled into the drive for their house, I couldn't believe it. It was big, The HouseI mean it was the biggest house I had ever seen, and we just drove around the back, passing the house on the right and then this other big building was right behind the house, they told me it was the horse barn and they would show it to me before dinner, but right now they wanted to have me pick out a room for my bedroom. I would have a bedroom for my own to use!

They took my bag for me and they took me right to the front door and Dick unlocked it and we all went through the door into a big hall with a living room on the left and a big staircase on the right going up to the bedrooms on the second floor. To be perfectly honest, I should tell you that this was the first time in my memory that I was in a real house, so everything was new to me, and the guys knew this, I guess from Miriam, but didn't make a big deal of it, which I thought was so neat. They showed me every room on the first floor, and where the bathroom was on that floor, before taking me upstairs.

They showed me their bedroom first and then the other four bedrooms on that floor. Two had stuff other than furniture in them, but there were two empties except for the furnishings. When I started to ask who else lived here, they chuckled and told me that the two occupied bedrooms were for the farm hands, the two guys who worked on the farm for them. Dick said I'd probably meet them at dinner if not before, but they were probably working in the barn. He said I'd like them, they would be teaching me to ride a pony. Brad told me they were college students who had worked for them since they had bought the farm a year ago and now both guys went to school in the next town over, in Amherst at the big University there. He said that they worked here, and they also used the paths between all the fields to run as both guys liked to exercise and sometimes Brad and he went along for a jog or a run if the weather was good, but that they also had a small gym at the end of the barn and I would see it as soon as I was settled in my new bedroom, I just had to pick one.

I liked both bedrooms, but I picked the one closest to theirs on the other side of the hall from Heath and Jake, the two older guys who worked here. Both Dick and Brad helped me put my things in the drawers and in the closet and then we all went downstairs to the kitchen where they both began our dinner and I got to help by starting to set the table for the five of us,Jake as I was told the two farm hands ate their meals with us.Heath

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Well, I'm no longer that seven-year-old, arriving for the first time, but a 29-year-old college graduate, working full time as an architect in the capital city of the state of New York, a full partner in the firm, and had been living with the man I had loved for the past five years and married to him for the past four. Having found him in such a disrespectful position only that morning only started those feelings of insecurity in me again and I truly felt like that seven-year-old kid again as I arrived home.

I knew that there was no hiding; I had arrived home on a Friday afternoon, my parked car next to the side of the house down by the barn would be a direct give-away as that was also where everyone parked. The dads each had a car, as did both Heath and Jake who still worked for the dads, now as property managers as well as foremen of the farm and they still lived in their rooms, but one was a sitting room for them, the other was their shared bedroom. They had married the year before I had.

I did know that I would have to bring everything I had brought with me up to my old room, so I took several items with me when I used my key and opened the door, not shouting out or ringing the bell as no other cars were parked on the parking pad. Since it was the last week of June, there was no use parking in the garage, that was only used in the winter for the cars. By my third trip to bring my belongings inside I was ready for a snooze as I was pretty tuckered out from the stress of the day, as well as the monotonous drive from Albany.

Several boxes and suitcases were stowed in the big closet and three of my suitcases with summer clothing were now unpacked into the bureau and closet. The paperwork I put on my old desk and then thought I should take care of some of the legal stuff before it got too late. Maybe just get the ball rolling on getting a divorce started. I had done a design for a young lawyer who was starting out on his own and I called his Albany office and got him on the first try. I calmly described today's events and asked him to begin the process for me. I wanted Scott served as soon as possible, before I had to talk to him. I wanted him to hurt as much as he had hurt me.

Yes, I am, or could be, that vindictive. It's true that I wouldn't have married him if I knew he wouldn't commit to me exclusively. Yes, I probably would have continued to see him, but I certainly would have insisted on using protection if I knew he was sleeping around, and no, I wouldn't have moved in with him under those circumstances. I was adamant about Scott buying me out of the house contract, whether he kept the house himself or not, he could afford it, either way. The actual furnishings of the apartment and what we had bought together for the house he could keep, I wanted none of those memories. My lawyer friend asked if I was sure and I told him I most certainly was, and he said he had been entering everything we had been talking about into his computer program and if I had a fax number for where I was staying he would fax to me a copy for my approval in about a half hour.

I had to ask him to hold for a minute as I went to my fathers' bedroom to get the fax number off their machine at the home office they maintained in an alcove off their bedroom, and a minute later I was again on my cell giving my lawyer the number. He instructed me to look it over carefully and sign the last page and initial the other pages and return fax it to him. He intended to make copies of that, retain the faxed copy in my file, and with a copy in hand he would serve Scott himself the next day at the golf course, they usually played in a foursome on Saturday mornings kind of early. He then told me he often wondered how long our marriage would last, as he had a gut feeling Scott had been playing around for more than a year at least, but he never had any proof. I told him I was so mad this morning and that I had shot a video of him fucking around, on my cell and he asked me to download it to a disc or at least onto a memory stick to preserve it if we ever needed it. I agreed to that and went back to my room and using my laptop I did just that, in fact, I copied it to two discs and to a separate file in my hard-drive.

I then fell onto the bed in my old bedroom and cried myself to sleep. I woke to the sounds of the four men who lived in the house. They were actually standing in my open door and trying to keep the noise down as they took in the fact that my belongings were now scattered around the room, and I was obviously lying on the bed fully clothed, my face covered in dried tear streaks.

They all backed away from the door, but Brad made his way back and he entered the room, sitting gently for such a well put together man on the edge of the mattress I was lying on and began to rub his hand gently up and down my back, as he used to do whenever my sleep was disturbed as a youngster, or when I was having a tough day and was upset for some reason, his back rubs always had made me feel better, safer and better, and they usually ended with me snuggled into him and his arms around me soothing me and sometimes if Dick was around he too would cuddle me until we all could talk about what was going on to make me upset. This is what happened now and once Brad had me in his arms, soothing me even as I started crying again, Dick came into the room and sat on the other side of my full sized bed and he continued rubbing my back as Brad held me to him as I sobbed out today's events starting with what I had witnessed this morning and ending, finally, with what I had instructed my lawyer to do after I had arrived just two hours ago.

Dick handed me a sheaf of papers from the fax machine and told me they were there when they got back home just a short while ago. Brad wiped my face with some tissues like I was a child again, which I really appreciated, and then I scanned the ten pages and went to my desk and initialed all nine of the first pages and signed and dated the last page. Dick asked if I was sure I wanted to go through with the divorce, and I told him it was the last thing I wanted to be doing, but having seen with my own eyes that Scott was a cheater, and I didn't have room in my life for someone like that, then yes, it was what I was going to do. I held up the papers and he clasped me on the shoulder and nodded to me, giving his approval for what I was about to do, and his permission to use the fax in their room.

Once that was sent off, I returned to my room and my dads' were still there. We talked some more about my situation and they were very supportive about the whole thing. Brad asked if I would like to move home for a while longer than the week I had told them I was planning on staying, and I told them both that this is where I felt at home, where I knew that I was loved, and yes, I was thinking of selling my partnership to the remaining partners of the firm and relocating back to Granby and starting off all over again while I was still young enough to do that.

They said we had time to talk about that later and now that it was after four in the afternoon Brad asked what I wanted for dinner. We all laughed at that, them treating me like I was a youngster, and I thanked them both for that, but suggested we all go down to the kitchen and see what was available for the five of us to eat tonight, Heath and Jake would, of course, be joining us.

A few years ago, when I had made partner in the architectural firm, I had drawn up plans for a renovation to the house I grew up in, and even drew up a rendition of what the remodel would look like, and to my proud amusement the dads had the work done by a local firm and the place looked great, most of the first floor opened up and a bit more modern looking, but with a lot of the old details retained just as my plans had stipulated. We lightly talked about goings on in the town and the area as we three prepared the evening meal together. I sure missed the place I realized again. I know, I always felt like this when I had been here on visits over the last five years, but there was a true feeling of coming home this time, and I resolved to sell my partnership back to the firm and permanently return to town, if not this house.

Jake and Heath arrived in the kitchen after cleaning up after work and they still looked really good for two guys in their early forties, and I have to admit, my dads' still were lookers for old men about to turn 50. All four of them kept fit through farm work and exercise and I just knew there would be no lazing about in bed in the mornings, they would have me out running the fields and exercising on alternate mornings just as they had done when I started joining them for exercise when I entered junior high (middle school). After dinner, we cleaned up, and we all went for a horseback ride through the fields that Jake and Heath maintained, and I got to visit with some of the horses that had replaced some of the older horses that had been on the farm when I was a child.

Heath and Jake filled me in on what fields they rented out and the ones they retained for the farm's use now that there were not as many cattle at the farm and their plans to create trails through some of the tree growth separating the "working" fields and places too rough to cultivate on the property. They told me they might even start on the project this fall and hoped to be able to open trails the next summer. They had been talking about doing this for years now, even mentioning it on Scott and my last weekend visit just last spring. I hadn't been a stranger all those years spent in Albany, we had visited several weekends a year and of course I kept in touch with my dads' just about every week, but it was good to be able to discuss these things face to face, plus they were all keeping me occupied so I wasn't dwelling on my current circumstances.

I admit I had quite the restless night, full of self-doubt, full of memories of the good times, which until Scott's betrayal, I thought every second of our relationship was the good times, but now I realized that the times he was late, or the times my calls went unanswered, or the times he had slipped out of a show or a live performance to use the restroom (How many times was there really a long line?), the times he took off for the mall just to window shop, I now wondered if those were times he was cheating on me.  I went downstairs at about six in the morning, knowing further sleep was not going to happen for me. About seven Heath and Jake joined me for coffee before they went to the barn for their workout and were followed by my dads' just fifteen minutes later. They encouraged me to join them, but for me, it was a running day and once I had dressed out and put my cell into my fanny pack along with a bottle of water; I was off on the paths between the crops.

I actually enjoyed running on the farm as opposed to the streets of the city and my mood was lifting as I paused to re-hydrate out in the fields and it was then my cell started vibrating. I looked at the screen and saw that it was Scott calling. I hesitated, just to clear my head for a second or two and then answered. He wanted to know where the laundry soap was, he wanted to do a load of wash before going golfing, and he apologized for coming home so late last night. The asshole didn't even know I had moved out and thought I had left early for a construction site that was nearing completion that one of my partners was now covering. He didn't have a clue about what was going to happen on the golf course when my lawyer served him with the divorce papers. I wondered if he would serve him before they teed off, or when they were on one of the greens, or wait until they were in the clubhouse after. No matter which way it was done, the conceited ass had no clue it was going to happen.

I told him the laundry detergent was under the sink, but if he had a bad stain, he might just drop his load off at the laundry, I'm sure Phil at the laundry could help him out on a Saturday, but I had to run, lots to look forward to today. I hung up without our usual goodbye banter, and laughed out loud, almost startling the horse I was mounting. With a few pats to his neck we were off, allowing the horse his head, letting him run off some extra steam for the both of us.

I was back at the house looking over the divorce papers when my phone rang again. The horse I had ridden this morning was groomed and his tack returned to its storage space, the four men were off doing their Saturday errands now that the morning chores and their exercises had been done, so I was alone. The caller was my lawyer, speaking from the country club we had all belonged to.

He told me he had handed Scott the envelope with the paperwork in it and since they were on the sixteenth hole by then he had stuffed it in a back pocket of his trousers and it wasn't until they were in the locker room he had looked at what was in the envelope, as he was chatting up the towel boy by the shower room. He said further that Scott had just about gone ballistic, ranting and raving, stomping around and had slipped in a puddle of water and went flying, landing on the dividing hump between the shower room and the locker room. He had cracked his lower arm bones in his right arm and had been rushed to the nearest hospital where after x-rays had been taken, they operated and inserted metal bars to hold the two broken bones in place as they healed.

That was all he knew at this point, but he was pretty sure that with the painkillers he would be on that I just might not hear from Scott for the rest of the day, or even the next. Well, I hate to tell you this, but I did say I wanted him to hurt as much as he had hurt me, and this was a pretty good start if I do say so.

I relayed all this to the dads and Heath and Jake when they came home from their various errands and we all had lunch together which I had prepared. After telling them about Scott's reaction to the divorce papers we all shared a laugh and then Brad told me that he had run across Jeff and Jerry, the married couple with the gym and the architect's office in the basement of the big charity fund office in the big barn out on route 202, the main drag in town. Jeff, the architect asked how I was doing, and asked Brad to have me contact him the next time I was in town. I did wonder what that all meant. Maybe I'd call around there on Monday, just to see.

It wasn't until around two in the afternoon Sunday that I heard from Scott again. We had all gone to church at the MCC church in town and had all gone out to breakfast over in Amherst and then stopped at a huge neighborhood tag sale we passed on our way back. There wasn't much for any of us at the tag sale, but Bert picked up several bath towel sets he said he could use in the barn for clean ups and for treating the leather tack for the horses. We had been home for about a half hour when my phone vibrated in my pocket. I saw who was calling, and I went out on the front porch to take the call.

The first thing out of Scott's mouth was, "How could you do this to me?". I started laughing. I had thought he was the more savvy of the two of us, after all, I was a small-town boy, farm raised. Yes, I've been told that I'm very good looking, had a great body, and a real easy-going manner about me. But trying to put the blame on me for something he started was too much for me. He could hear me laughing and demanded to know just what I found so amusing. Being the kind and considerate one of the pair of us I told him I was sorry about his injury, but he had to be kidding, asking me how I could do this to him, when he was obviously the one having things I hadn't thought him capable of, done to him, by strangers. I also told him that from what I saw I didn't see any protection being used and there was no way I would ever get in a bed with him again. Sign the uncontested divorce papers, return them to my lawyer, pay me what I had put down on the house, and take me off the deed and the sales contract for the house and get out and stay out of my life. I turned my phone off after that.

The five of us went out to dinner that Sunday night and I told my four companions what went on in the phone conversation with Scott. They were amused at his gall in thinking that divorce was not a reasonable response to his cheating, as dad Dick said, he unmade his bed, now let him sleep in it.

Monday afternoon I did stop in at Jeff's office and he greeted me warmly, not really having seen me since my college days. He and Jerry were now in their fifties and he made no bones about it, he wanted to sell his office. Not the actual space, his lease would be up at the end of November. What he wondered was if I would be interested in his equipment, his files, his numerous contracts going well into the next year and the year after for some, and his staff of five, one secretary, three associate architects, and his model builder, who was a wizard with the 3D printer. He said that he thought I might be tired of the big city by now and here he had a profitable business, fully stocked, just needing the space to run it from as the owners of the building, the upstairs company, needed the space themselves.

I asked what figure he had in mind, and if he had available the current year's statistics, like the P&L (profit and loss) statement, and a breakdown of the projected figures from the carryover contracts and he handed me a file and asked me to go over those with either my accountant or lawyer, or both.  I thanked him for his time and for thinking of me, and he said if he hadn't seen Brad in the grocery store the other day he might not have until it was too late.

I didn't need an accountant; I had two. Both Dick and Brad had been and still were Certified Public Accountants (CPAs). They had run a successful business in Springfield for many years and had slowly turned it over to their junior associates shortly after my adoption became final when I was just over eight years old. They did accounting for a select number of people still, out of an office on the other side of the barn, which also had the farm office in it where Jake and Heath ran the farm business from. I wondered if there would be room for a big addition on that office space.

When I returned home, I asked my dads' to sit and go over the financial statements Jeff had included in the file he had given me, and I asked what they thought about my adding on to their office building to make myself a space to run my business from, whether I bought Jeff's business or not I would need space to operate out of. Within four hours they were so engrossed in the files that I started dinner as I knew Heath and Jake would be home by seven as they were out until after evening chore time, even though I had offered to do them for them. They had thanked me for the offer, but said they'd save that offer for another time, so I knew they would also be in for dinner.

By the time the steaks and potatoes were ready everyone had gathered at the big kitchen table to eat and my dads' told me that Jeff's business was a sound one, with plenty of carryover business to start me off well, and if what he was asking for his business was what was on his proposal in the file, they deemed it a more than good buy. We then discussed the feasibility of adding onto the current office building on the other side of the barn and all four of the men were all for it. I explained how much room would be needed for the blueprint production, those large sheets of paper with detailed specifications for building contractors to follow, and the room needed for the model maker to work in, alongside his 3D printer. The secretary was actually the office manager, and she kept everyone on schedule for the projects all were working on. There would also have to be included restroom facilities, as these new employees shouldn't be expected to walk up to the house to go to the bathroom, especially in the winter, and we'd need another parking pad put in as there was only paved parking for six cars between the house and the barn now, and those were for those of us that lived on the property.

The dads asked me to draw up the plans for what I would need as far as the addition went and where a reasonable parking pad could be put in relation to the new structure. All the men stated that they did not think these new additions to the property would interfere with their existing operations on the farm.


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