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Older couple posing for the camera. | Source: Flickr
Older couple posing for the camera. | Source: Flickr

I Was Sure That My Husband’s Daughter Lived with Us until I Found Them in Bed Together – Story of the Day

Roshanak Hannani
Oct 20, 2023
04:49 A.M.

When Cora hears a radio advertisement about Mother and Daughters, she feels compelled to spend time with her husband's daughter, Mia. But as she prepares for their bonding trip, Cora gets more than she bargained for. If Mia's not the daughter, who is she?

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"It's time to reconnect with your daughter! Mother-Daughter brunch specials are now on…"

The radio host's voice trailed into oblivion as I removed the keys from the ignition and opened the car door. Some bonding time with my stepdaughter, Mia, wouldn't be the worst idea. She had been living with my husband, Richard, and me as our child, and we had yet to connect.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

I remember the day Richard told me about her. It was out of the blue. He said that he had been a rebellious teenager, learning about the world of women from his slightly older neighbor, Wilhelmina, Mia's would-be mother.

He said something about how she tracked him down, and since Richard had been absent Mia's entire life, he felt it would be great to have her with us and bond.

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I love Richard, so having a piece of him in the house was a no-brainer. Mia moved in two years ago. At first, I thought she was staying for the summer, but that quickly changed when Richard bought a brand-new bed for her room – which came with an entire room makeover.

My husband said Mia decided to transfer schools closer to us to finish her art degree and had gotten a job at a gallery. She had come so far that the gallery gave her the chance to show her pieces at an exhibition. Richard was so proud, and I was too, except I didn't know if I had any right to be. I regretted not trying harder.

There was more to Mia than met the eye. I only knew the everyday things about her, things that a classmate or babysitter would need to know – favorite foods and allergies. But I had yet to discover what made Mia – what were her hopes and dreams? Most importantly, was there something we could bond over?

"Cora, is that you?" Mia's voice came from the living room. I knew she would sit across the couch with a fashion magazine and a glass of peach iced tea.

"Yes," I said, putting my purse and keys on a nearby table. "Going to get dinner going soon. Do you want to help?"

"Sure. What are we eating tonight?"

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For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

"Well, this morning, your father said he wanted that French stew I made a few weeks ago."

Mia walked into the kitchen with her contagious brightness. I couldn't help but smile, pointing towards the cupboards where the pot I always used was. She jumped to get it, and I thought this was the perfect time to tell her my idea.

"So, I was thinking," I began as I cut into a large onion. "We should go away for the weekend, just the two of us. We can spend some time together and finally connect. I know it's been busy for you lately with your exhibit at the gallery and the new photography course for art school."

Mia looked like a deer caught in headlights, those big brown eyes round in surprise. I didn't blame her. I knew I was easy to get along with, but which young adult wanted to spend the weekend with their stepmother?

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"Um, sure, I guess," she hesitated. "It's just that…I may have a second exhibit. And a guest photographer may do a special seminar within the next month. And I wanted to spend some time researching new internships. And I promised my mom that I'd see her soon. She's been hounding me for a while now. There's just a lot going on, you know, Cora?"

I felt my eyebrows pop up at the string of excuses she gave me, but I nodded in understanding. She was a student. Graduation was right around the corner, and things would only get busier afterward.

"It was just a thought. The radio was promoting all these specials for mothers and daughters to do together," I said, motioning with my hands, "and you've been here for a couple of years now, and we haven't bonded. I know you're a young woman. You have your mom. You don't need me. But I wanted to be your friend."

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

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"That's nice, Cora," Mia said, moving out of the way as I walked toward the stove to swing the newly diced onions into the pot. "But another time would be best."

I remained quiet for a second, knowing my smile was forced. Disappointment was one of the hardest emotions to hide. "OK. Well…why don't you go back to your magazine? I'll finish this," I said, patting her shoulder lightly.

She looked a little regretful but nodded and left the kitchen.

I didn't speak much during dinner, but Mia and Richard didn't seem to notice. This was always the case. They had bonded so quickly as father and daughter as he discovered her existence. I was always baffled and regretted not having that kind of bond with my late father.

I bit my tongue as long as I could, but I spoke to my husband as soon as Mia went to her room.

"Come on, Richard, talk to her," I told him as we cleaned the dishes. "I just want to get to know her better. And honestly, it's a spa. We'll probably be separated for massages and such. Please, help me, hon."

Richard shook his head, grinning. He was caught off guard when I wanted to do this with Mia. But it made sense. I let them get close for two years due to the circumstances, but it was my turn. We had no other children to spend time with.

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"Fine, I'll talk to her. I'm sure she's keen to go with you, but school and the gallery take up so much of her time," he said kindly.

"I know she needs rest during her time off, which is why I think a spa is perfect," I added.

"You're right."

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

"Good. Thank you. I heard an advertisement on the radio about Mother-Daughter time, and it just made me think. I don't know her all that well. I know the bare minimum, which used to be okay, but not anymore. I'd like to know more. Be a pal for her."

He only nodded, but I thought I saw a slight frown marred his face before he schooled it and asked for the rest of the dishes.

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I was getting ready for bed that night when Richard talked to Mia in her room.

"Mia, it's just a weekend," he began. "Cora wants to spend some time with you. She said it would be at a spa, and you love that kind of thing. It's relaxing."

"I know it'll be relaxing, but I would much rather she went alone. I could stay here alone with you. I feel like we never have time together," Mia replied. I frowned at the tinge of whining in her voice.

"Mia, please just do this for me," Richard begged. "Just one time. It'll help this situation a lot."

What situation?

"Going without you doesn't sound fair to me," Mia sighed. "But fine."

Finally, my husband laughed. "Thank you. When you're back, we'll do something together. Just the two of us."

I couldn't hear anything else for a few seconds, but Richard's footsteps got closer, so I got in bed quickly. He went straight to our en-suite bathroom. I wanted to fall asleep but stared at the ceiling a little too long.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

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Their conversation left a strange taste in my mouth. I knew their closeness. I had seen it, but sometimes, it felt as though they spoke their own language. Maybe they did, and I couldn't grasp it. My mind went back to high school, where the metaphors and words in Shakespeare sounded like gibberish, but I knew they meant something.

"She's in," Richard said, startling me as he slid into bed. "I think she's more excited than she led on earlier."

"Thank you," I whispered.

He kissed my cheek, turned to the wall, and turned his nightlight off.

I kept staring at the dark ceiling for a few seconds and finally shook off this strange sensation. I had no children to share a bond like that. Jealousy. That was it.

Naming the emotion calmed me. I wanted to laugh at my absurdity, but that would wake Richard. I closed my eyes and smiled, thinking that I wouldn't have to be jealous for long. Mia and I would get a chance to get close, too.

I woke up the next morning with a newfound sense of excitement. I wanted to be closer to Mia. I wanted her to let me in.

After work, I thought about doing a grocery run. The rooms at the hotel were booked. I considered choosing spa treatments, but Mia should get to pick. I would go along as she wanted or let her have privacy.

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We were leaving tomorrow after Mia's photography seminar. I wanted to stock up the kitchen for Richard and get some fresh flowers from the store. I was adamant about keeping a fresh arrangement on the vase on the dining table.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

The shopping cart wheels creaked as I walked through the aisle, picking all the ingredients for Richard's favorite meals. He was a simple man; I couldn't forget his favorite treat: chocolate ice cream.

I rushed to the flower area and picked out my bouquet. My mood was evident in my choice of colors: yellow, orange, and pink. I was happy. I wondered how Mia gets inspired by her paintings. Maybe it wasn't so different than how I picked my arrangements.

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"Ooh! We can talk about that," I said, finishing the bouquet. Just as I reached the register, I thought about calling Mia to check if she needed anything. No answer.

But that wasn't new – Mia rarely answered her phone, which would explain why her mother had been hounding her for a visit. I couldn't remember the last time Mia saw Wilhelmina.

I wonder what things they liked to do as mother and daughter. "Oh! Snacks!" I said, snapping my fingers. I left the cart near the register and sprinted to the snack section so we could have a bunch of junk food for the drive to the hotel.

We would only be on the road for around thirty minutes, but I wanted to make this experience memorable for both of us.

I got the jumbo pack of Reese's Pieces because I had seen numerous packs sticking out of her bag or sitting on the counter. I got two packs of pads I knew she used, just in case.

Before going home, I stopped at the store where Mia got her photography equipment. I remembered she wanted a new bag for one of the cameras. I hoped that she would take her camera along with us. That was one way of determining whether she was excited or not. I promised not to run any other errands and go home.

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For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

I looked at the dashboard as our house came into view and realized I had enough time to cook a fancy feast. Despite how early it was, I drove into the driveway, ready to begin dinner. I dreaded carrying all the groceries in, but I didn't want to disturb Mia if she was busy. I decided only to take the things needed to get into the fridge. Richard could come back for the rest later.

Putting the groceries away, I decided to do a load of laundry before dinner; that way, Richard wouldn't have to worry about it over the weekend.

In the laundry room, I got the pods for the washing machine and went upstairs. I needed to get the laundry hampers from the bathrooms.

Walking up the stairs, I heard Richard laughing in our bedroom. I loved his laugh.

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"Hi honey, I didn't know you we—" I began as I pushed the door open.

And then everything changed.

Mia's head poked out from under Richard's arm. They were tangled in our sheets.

"Cora!" Mia screamed out loud. "Wait! We can explain!"

"She's not my daughter," Richard shouted as my look of horror registered for him.

I backed out of the room slowly and then in a fury. The world was spinning. I could hear Richard's laugh in the back of my mind. I could see Mia's legs across him. I couldn't understand what I had just witnessed.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

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What should I do? Make a scene? What did Richard yell? Why was the house getting blurry? Despite the fog and confusion overtaking everything, I saw my husband approaching me. My head started shaking uncontrollably. I needed to get out. I needed to leave.

I turned to run down the stairs, but my foot caught onto one of Richard's boots. He probably kicked it off as they entered our bedroom. I slid down the stairs onto the first landing. My derriere would be sore tomorrow, but I felt nothing then.

I was too shocked. I got up quickly, ran to the table where I just placed my car keys, and wrenched the door open. I was starting to panic, and I could feel it rising from my stomach, snaking its way up my chest. My head pounded, and my hands were sweating.

The sound of Richard calling me and telling me to stop only made me run faster. I got into the car and locked the door immediately. Richard was only a few steps behind me.

His hands came down on the hood of my car, stopping me from peeling off as I wanted. He had time to put on a pair of jeans. My favorite. My peripheral vision caught movement, and I turned to see Mia on my porch, wrapped in my expensive duvet.

My head swiveled back to Richard, and I saw pure fear in his eyes. I didn't see remorse, and I didn't understand why. I blared my horn, commanding to move. He only covered his ears and shook his head.

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He started yelling, and I could hear his muffled words despite not rolling the window down.

"I'm not moving until we talk!"

I blasted the horn, not knowing what to do.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

"Please, Cora! Please! Let me explain!"

Explain. I scoffed mentally. What explanation could he give me beyond the ridiculous words he shouted upstairs? She's not my daughter. Who the hell was she then? His mistress, obviously, but how could he?

Richard moved her into our house. OUR HOUSE. Finally, a feeling crawled through my belly and gagged. My hand covered my mouth quickly as I heaved a little, and sweat beaded on my forehead.

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"CORA! PLEASE! STOP! TURN OFF THE CAR!" Richard shouted again.

My fingers reached for the button on the door, and the window rolled down. The gust of fresh air helped the nausea disappear, so I moved my hand to my chest as I calmed.

Richard stood straight and walked to the driver's side. I saw the hope in his eyes.

"Cora, I know it looks bad—"

My foot stomped on the pedal and immediately put the car in motion. I turned too dangerously and heard the squeal of tires on the pavement. The back of my car swerved into Mrs. Cassini's trash cans. I didn't care.

I didn't slow down until I left behind my neighborhood. I wasn't going to risk getting a ticket or hurting myself. Richard wasn't worth that. But without thought, I drove to a nearby park, turned off the ignition, and sat in silence.

But having no distractions was counterproductive. I couldn't stomach the vivid and disgusting images of my husband with his… lover in her bed. They had hidden this for two years. They weren't family at all. Was there even a Wilhelmina?

"God!" I yelled and put the radio on as a distraction.

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"…Mother-Daughter brunch specials are now on at…"

Nope. I turned the radio off quickly.

The feeling in my body was back because I could sense the pain as my fists connected with the steering wheel over and over again. The tears were back, too, falling hot against my cheeks. I wanted to pull my hair, break everything, drive away and disappear forever, or fall asleep.

But my eyes looked up into the sweet face of a child in the back seat of the car parked in front of me. The little girl smiled shyly and waved before her mom realized she was out of her car seat and got out to arrange her again.

I waved awkwardly at the woman and smiled wistfully as they left the park. At least that distraction helped. I took a deep breath, wiped the tears off my face, and used the rearview mirror to arrange myself.

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My hair was a mess, but it was nothing compared to my face. I shrugged, getting out of the car and going to the trunk. I snatched the Reese's Pieces bag and tore it with vengeance. I devoured the candy as if chocolate and peanut butter could erase everything.

The candy was delicious, but I would never be able to forget about what Richard and that woman did to me. Still, I got some clarity, especially after walking back and seeing the flowers I had just bought sitting in my back seat.

I knew then that I had to go back. I couldn't just run. They were in my house. Although my emotions weren't completely controlled, I returned to the car and returned home. When I walked through the front door, Richard and Mia were standing in the kitchen.

"Cora, you're back," he said when he saw me, taking a step toward me.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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"No," I said. "Don't talk to me. I'm taking my things and the money we've been saving up for the house renovation. When I leave, you two will cease to exist for me. The deceit stops here. The disrespect stops here. I am done with all of this."

"Let me explain," Richard begged.

"There's nothing left to say. You played a song for two years, and I happily sang along to it. That end here."

I entered our room without looking at the rumpled bed and grabbed a suitcase. I started throwing some things, especially my jewelry and good shoes. I sensed Richard enter the room soon enough.

"Cora, this wasn't what I intended—"

"Shut up," I snapped. "I'm filing for divorce soon. I expect you to sign it quickly, and this house will be up for sale, or you can pay me my half, and I'm out."

"I don't want to sell—"

"Too bad," I shrugged, closing my luggage and exiting my bedroom for the last time.

I went downstairs and ignored Mia completely. She had the sense not to try to talk to me. The whole thing must have taken ten minutes at most. My previous life was over. It was time for a new beginning.

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***

"I can't believe it! You're an artist!" Mrs. Roosevelt gushed at the arrangement I'd just revealed. I won't lie. I felt particularly proud about it. She had ordered something special for her daughter's engagement, and I had been inspired.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Unsplash

"You're my best customer, Mrs. Roosevelt," I said, smiling. "I had to do my best."

We gabbed some more, and the older woman went on her way. I looked around my shop and felt calm sweep over me as always. The colors, the scent, and the significance of this place brought nothing but peacefulness to my soul.

About eight months after the incident, I was an entirely new person. I was happy and free. I kept my word to Richard. I took the money I had saved for our home renovation and half of our joint account.

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The house had been put on the market, and fortunately, a buyer wanted it badly and paid more than the asking price to expedite it. That person was a stroke of luck during this entire mess. Afterward, things started falling into place.

I found a great apartment on the ground floor so I could still have a garden, and suddenly, I realized that I wasn't happy at my job. I needed to do what I wanted in life. I had already given away too much of myself to others.

It wasn't appreciated, and it was time to do things for my own sake. So, I quit out of the blue, apologizing to my nice manager and saying goodbye to my coworkers. They were sad to see me go, but I told them to expect an invite to the opening day of my business.

I got my flower shop up and running faster than I thought possible. I worked like crazy and paid double to the remodelers to get things going. I had already earned a rapport with suppliers and taught myself new arrangement techniques daily. I had a few regular and loyal clients already.

Once my life got busy, I thought very little about my ex-husband. We were technically still married because our state had a law that couples had to be separated for a year before they could finalize the divorce. It was awful, but there was nothing I could do.

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For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

Fortunately, Richard didn't try to contact me himself and only sent messages through our lawyers. The last time was just to finish signing something for the house sale. Nothing except our impending divorce still connected me to that abhorrent liar.

Every once in a while, the image of my ex and his mistress on my bed popped into my head uninvited, but I tried to dispel it. I had to be stronger, and it helped that I suddenly started receiving attention from some men.

I flirted a little back, but I wasn't interested at all. Not even casual dating seemed appealing. Although I didn't think about the past much, I knew I needed to heal alone. Once the divorce was finalized and I felt better, I would try to put myself out there.

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The chime of the bells over the door brought me back to my store. I smiled automatically. "Welcome to Flowers by Cora! How can I…help…" my voice trailed off as my heart turned to stone.

Richard was at the entrance, looking at me with equally surprised eyes.

I broke the silence. "What the hell are you doing here? I told you never to contact me again! Our lawyers are there for a reason!"

Richard raised his hands as if I was pointing a gun at him. "Cora, I didn't know this was your store. I swear. I didn't know you had quit your job," he said, placating me.

The fight went out of me. I didn't want to have this anger again. I had moved on already. Right? "Fine. I believe you. You can browse around if you want," I said, sighing heavily and sitting on a stool I kept behind the counter.

I calmed myself while Richard looked around, grinning slightly. He picked up one of the prearranged bouquets, and I closed my eyes. An image of myself, taking the roses from his hands and beating him with them, appeared behind my eyelids. A chuckle escaped my lips.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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"What's funny?" my ex-husband asked.

I opened my eyes. "Nothing. Would that be all?"

He gulped. "Yeah."

I rang him up, and I expected him to leave. But he hesitated. "Cora, is there any way we could get a cup of coffee? I know I don't deserve it. But I would like to talk… to explain a little. Please."

I breathed deeply and thought about it. After the incident, I was obviously too angry to listen to anything, and I forced myself to move on. Would listening to him bring back that anger? Would it help me move on?

"I won't make any excuses because I have none, but I just wanted to talk to you," Richard continued, seeing the conflict in my face. He still knew me.

"Fine," I relented. "I think I'm ready to listen so we can both truly move on without any unfinished business."

He grinned, shocked, and breathed, "Thank you."

I placed an "On a Break" sign at the door and closed up. Richard and I walked silently to the coffee place only a few paces away.

He told me to sit and ordered for me. I was slightly annoyed. He wasn't my husband anymore. But I let him, not wanting any conflict.

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Richard knew what I liked to drink and munch: a caramel macchiato with a blueberry scone. He sat with his double espresso and sipped. "So, how did you open the flower shop? When? Why?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"Richard," I warned. "I'm not here for pleasantries. You had something to say. Say it, or I'm leaving."

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," he said, putting his hand on the table like he wanted to touch me. He knew better. "Back then, all I wanted was for you not to hate me."

"How could I not?"

"I don't know. I was an idiot. I should've come clean about everything from the beginning, but it worked a certain way," Richard said, looking off to the side absentmindedly.

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"Start from the beginning. You're not making any sense," I said, rolling my eyes and sipping coffee.

"Okay, I met this girl online," he blurted. "I know. It's ridiculous. But she messaged me often and sent pics—messages often. She called me handsome. I enjoyed the attention."

I kept my face neutral and nodded slightly so Richard would continue.

"Eventually, we met up in real life. She told me about herself. Her art degree. What she wanted for her life. Soon…I was in love," he said, swallowing thickly. "But I loved you, too. I know how that sounds. Just like every other guy that cheats on their wife. But it was true."

"Why did you lie to me?" I asked icily. "You could've told me the truth. We would've separated. It would've hurt, but this deceit was so…awful. The audacity you had to do it. There are no words, Richard."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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"I know," he sighed, leaning on his hand. "I have no excuse except that it was her idea. I knew it was horrid and wrong, but I went along with it because I realized that separating from you would mean cutting back on my life. We had two good incomes and a fully-paid house, and you wanted to help her, too. It was convenient."

My hand twitched with the urge to slap him. But I contained myself.

"I know. I have no shame," Richard continued. "But it's the truth. There were several times I thought you had picked up on something. But you didn't. You just trusted it and treated her so nicely. In my dreams, I even considered us a throuple."

"A what?"

"That's what they call those partnerships of three people."

Nausea, thick and heavy, was coming. But again, I retained my icy demeanor.

"You are disgusting," I muttered.

"I know," he acknowledged. "In a way, I was glad you caught us. It was over. I just didn't want you to hate me or think that I never loved you. Because I did."

I nodded as he seemed to be done with his story. "Our divorce should be over soon. Are you marrying her?"

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Richard didn't answer for a few seconds.

"I have a right to know," I continued, crossing my arms.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"Yes, I am going to marry her. I have to," he replied. "I've been telling the lawyers to do things quickly. When the year mark comes, it'll be swift."

"Have to?" I asked, and he flinched. I had picked up on that. Mia must be pregnant.

"Yeah, I have to marry her so she can stay in the country," Richard said, sipping his espresso last.

"She's foreign?" I asked, frowning.

"Yeah. She's from Brazil. She was here on a student visa, which expired after her graduation. We've been working to get her a work visa, but that's been delayed," he replied.

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"Was that always the plan?" I wondered. "To marry her so she could get her green card?"

"Hmmm, no," Richard shook his head. "She just told me about the visa thing. I knew she was from Brazil but never asked about her situation. Her English was perfect, so I never imagined.

Despite the ice-tight hold I had on my emotions, a bubble of laughter ripped out of my throat. My hand flew to my mouth to cover it, but he heard it.

"Why is that funny?"

"It's not," I chuckled. through tight lips. "It's really not."

"Cora!" Richard hit the table. "I know I'm the jerk here, but you shouldn't laugh about my legal troubles. It's a pain in the butt."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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Finally, my mouth opened wide as the chortling burst through the dam. My eyes were soon full of tears, but I could see his face turning from confused and worried to a little amused. "Oh, man," I breathed, drying a tear.

"I guess legal stuff is my karma. Huh?"

"No, you giant idiot!" I said, guffawing some more before I calmed down enough to speak. "I'm not laughing over legal troubles. I'm laughing at you and a little at myself."

"Why?"

"Because we fell for it," I said, pounding the table. "She tricked both of us."

"Excuse me?"

"Oh, Richard. You really think a young, beautiful woman from Brazil got with you because of your charming looks and personality?" I asked sarcastically as the anger rose again. I couldn't stop it. The dam was open, and everything was coming out. "You're actually old enough to be her father!"

"I don't understand," Richard mumbled, fear coloring his face.

"She tricked us both. For two years, she paid for nothing in our house. That woman went to school and mooched off us. Of course, I didn't take it as mooching since she was supposed to be my stepdaughter. I was glad to pay," I said, thinking back on the thousands of dollars I had spent despite not being close to her.

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"No…"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"Wake up! This is the truth! It's clear as day now. She wanted a sugar daddy before and now, she wants a green card. You told her about me and our life, and she came up with the stepdaughter idea," I said, laughing between sentences. "It made her life even better because two people were paying her things. She's a pro!"

"I don't like what you're saying," Richard said, fidgeting as if he were about to stand.

"Sit down," I commanded. "Let me make myself very clear. I don't want you back. It's over between us forever. But if you marry her, she will leave as soon as possible."

"You don't know her!" he stammered. "No, it can't be true."

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"Richard," I said, gentling my voice. "Let this be the last advice I'll ever give you. She's playing you. She played me. You thought you were part of that play. I see now that you were just an idiot. Don't marry her."

Richard's eyes watered, and I felt terrible, but I couldn't afford to feel more sorry for him. He didn't deserve my sympathy. I finished my scone, wiped my mouth with the paper napkin, and grabbed my purse.

"Cora," he choked. "Are you saying this as revenge?"

"God, no," I scoffed, pausing for a second to think for a second. "If I wanted revenge, I would've just laughed and left you here without another word so she could surprise you with divorce years down the line. But I'm not that cruel. Anyway, I could still be wrong, I guess. Look back at your relationship and think. It's your move. But please, don't ever come see me again. Don't order from my store either. Goodbye, Richard."

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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I left him sitting in that cafe and went back to my little haven, content that I had told him my suspicions. It was true that remaining quiet would've been the better vengeance, but I didn't want that for him either.

Mia didn't deserve anything after all she'd done. Richard wasn't innocent in this, as the only one who owed me loyalty was him. But sometimes, you don't see the snake that crawls into your life, moving in a zig-zag. It's attractive and mesmerizing. Soon, you're trapped and don't even know it.

I think that's what happened to my ex-husband, so it was better to warn him. It felt like real closure.

Four months later, my lawyer, Ms. Verdini, came to the shop so I could sign the last document. "I'm free!" I exclaimed, lifting my hands in the air.

"You are, Cora! Congratulations," she grinned. "All my clients have that reaction. It's funny. Makes you never want to get married."

"Well, yeah," I replied, chuckling, and she turned, waving goodbye. "Wait, Ms. Verdini."

"Yeah?"

"Do you know anything about my ex?"

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"Like what?"

"I don't know. He was going to marry his mistress. I was wondering if…" I trailed off, shrugging.

"I'm not sure. His lawyer didn't say anything. If you want to dig into this, I know some people who could help," Ms. Verdini offered, wagging her eyebrows.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"Oh, no. Well…."

"What do you want to know?" she probed, so I told her my suspicions after that one meeting with Richard. She already knew everything else that happened between us. Her lips moved from side to side for a second. "I have some friends in immigration. I could poke around."

"Really?"

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"Maybe. Give me a few days."

"No, Ms. Verdini," I shook my head, changing my mind. "I don't want to know. Time to let this die. Oh, there's a customer. Thank you for coming."

"If you're sure," she teased and left, giving me a smirk on her way out while I welcomed my client.

The shop got busier than ever, and I had to hire several employees, including a social media manager. I didn't think flowers would take off like this, but I was so glad.

"Miss Cora, this just arrived!" one of my girls, Hannah, pulled me away from my new arrangement. But my eyes bugged at the huge one she was carrying.

"OMG. Who would send flowers to a flower shop?" I asked jokingly. "I'm almost offended. This looks expensive."

"I know! It's from…oh, that place on Main Street. The competition," Hannah squinted at the flowers comically. "Do you want me to throw it out?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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"I have to read the card at least," I asked, patting her shoulder.

"The card doesn't say anything, but there's an envelope," she said, passing me the pristine white folded paper. "You must have an admirer."

"An admirer would've spent this money here," I grumbled, opening the letter.

Dear Cora,

I know I probably should've bought this stuff at your store, but you told me never to order from you again—

I folded the paper quickly, closing my eyes.

"What?" Hannah asked.

"It's my ex."

"Read! Read!"

I agreed and opened the folder sheet again.

—so, I'm sending you this. You were right. I knew it immediately. I don't know how I didn't see it until you pointed it out. But yes, I'm an idiot, so I didn't want to admit it. But after our coffee meeting, Mia became increasingly insistent on us getting married.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

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I told her to start planning something nice, but she wanted us to run to the courthouse. Legally, I couldn't, so I stalled, and she got more and more upset. Looking through her phone was useless. I don't know any Portuguese; she never left it around for long. She was smart.

I wish I had better news to share. But I didn't catch her lying or anything. Mia left. I heard she married someone else a few days ago. I think he's rich, too. I'm just sorry I fell for such a thing. I gave my life away for nothing. I'll never forgive myself for this, Cora. I truly loved you as my wife. So, good luck with your business.

Sincerely,

Richard.

P.S. I do want revenge. I called immigration and gave them proof that she was asking me for marriage and living with me for the past three years. I don't know if she'll get in trouble for that. But I had to do something.

I sighed, shaking my head as I folded the paper and put it back in the envelope.

"What did it say?" Hannah asked brightly.

"His mistress left him for someone else," I said, shrugging.

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"Oooooh! But wait, is he crawling back?"

"No, he was just letting me know. He knows I would never go back to him," I scoffed, laughing.

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

For illustration purposes only | Source: Unsplash

"You're awesome! And you're finally divorced, so we have to double celebrate! I'll get some champagne!" Hannah said and ran to the back. We kept a few bottles for special gift arrangements.

The bell over the door rang, and I put on my signature smile to greet…a beautiful man.

"Hello," he said in a smooth drawl.

"Hi," I breathed. Like a fool!

"Do you have any white roses?" he inquired.

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"Sure!" I said. Too cheery now! "Something for your wife or girlfriend?"

"No," he grinned, making me swoon. "It's for my mother."

"Sure, come with me," I beckoned him to the counter with our catalog. I explained some options and costs.

"Which one would you pick?" he inquired.

"This one for sure," I responded, pointing my finger. "It's timeless. Perfect for a mom."

"Perfect, then," he said, glancing around the store as he reached for his wallet. "And would it be too bold to ask for your number, too?"

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only | Source: Pexels

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His credit card flew off my hand and plopped on the counter. I choked for a second. "Hmmm…sure," I squeaked.

"I'm Edison."

"Cora," I said after clearing my throat.

When his order was done, he gave me a scorching look and left. Then, I jumped like a teenager who just received a prom-proposal. That's the day my life really began…

Tell us what you think about this story, and share it with your friends. It might inspire them and brighten their day.

Enjoyed this story? Here's another one you may be interested in: 75-year-old Richard spots his ex-wife Vanessa with a man 20 years her junior. Assuming they are dating, he starts a fight, only to discover the man with her is their son he never knew existed. Vanessa then reveals another long-held secret that rocks Richard's world... You can find the full story here.

This piece is inspired by stories from the everyday lives of our readers and written by a professional writer. Any resemblance to actual names or locations is purely coincidental. All images are for illustration purposes only. Share your story with us; maybe it will change someone's life. If you would like to share your story, please send it to info@amomama.com.

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