“I don’t understand why you would do that” her eyes were red and puffy and she was playing with her nails, unconsciously I suppose because she didn’t realize when she broke it.
We were in a café 30 minutes away from the office; I didn’t want anyone in the office to know what had happened. I had ordered coffee for her and then spent the next 15 minutes staring at the cup until she spoke again.
“Sir, I would like an explanation.”
“I don’t know, maybe because looking at him makes me want to punch the life out of him. I was angry and there is no other reason for what I did.”
“I was upset too but saying I’m your fiancé went a bit overboard.”
“You don’t have to worry that Eric will leave soon and no one at work heard any of this.” I stared into my coffee not trying to make eye contact.
“Ok fine but why do you hate him, I hate him because he cheated on me and left what about you?”
“He cheated on you too, like took your money and ran or something?”
“No, my ex-girlfriend cheated on me with him. We are in the same boat. And let’s not discuss this any further, we should get back”
I drove us back to work; we headed back to our work and didn’t talk for the rest of the day. Everything was fine, nothing to worry about but how was I supposed to know disaster was waiting for us. And the very next day as I walked into my office I was greeted with stares and whispers, not the usual kind. They were more like I committed a crime and was able to escape without punishment. My suspicions were cleared when Jade entered my office without knocking for the first time and slammed the morning news on my desk. It was a picture of us at the café and the headline saying “FINALLY ENGAGED”.
“No one knows, I didn’t have to worry. It’s on the first page…” she stood on the opposite side of the desk, arms folded and a messy bun that clearly stated she ran over as soon as she found out.
“I’ll call and tell them…” from the corner of my eye I saw Eric and Iris walking towards us. “Don’t get upset but we have to pretend for a few minutes.”
“What? I will not…”
“Eric” I didn’t let her finish because at that exact moment they walked in. “Who let you in after yesterday?”
“Just wanted to come see you and your fiancé and you should thank me for putting it on the news now you won’t have announced it with a big party” I could tell he was proud of his act because his grin could not stay hidden.
“We were not going to announce until we wanted and you have no right to do such a thing” I try to contain myself, I could feel Jade’s eyes on me which said I was taking it too far. After throwing it at us they were happy in their marriage.
“We have to end this now” she starts again and for the first time I’m glad I opted out of transparent office walls at least this way no one can see Jade pacing.
“We can pretend a little longer no one’s getting hurt from our little lie”
“No one is getting hurt, what about my mom who’s called me 10 times since I woke up and left me 20 messages asking me who I’m marrying, she is excited and if finds out it’s a lie she will be heartbroken” now I see the frustration and the reason for her pacing.
I tried to comfort her telling her we can carry on with the lie until she actually found someone or until we could break the news to her mom without hurting her. It took time but she agreed and for the time being we agreed to be friends. Once she left to finish her work I called the newspaper and threatened to file a lawsuit against them if the news was taken down immediately and then I asked a private detective friend to look into why Eric and Iris were back. The next few days Jade and I tried to play it cool and hung out like normal friends. I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it, it's been years since I’ve had a friend or did anything but work. My private detective friend came with news a week later; the news was good and bad at the same time. He told me that Eric and Iris were having trouble, money troubles and came back to see if they could fix our friendship and borrow money. And the second thing he told me was that Iris was cheating on Eric and that Eric was also cheating on Iris and either of them was aware of the other’s act. I asked him to dig further and get me more evidence of this but I was sure I wasn’t going to help them in any way. Before the week had even ended I had gotten a message from Iris to meet up. I agreed because I wanted to see where this would go.
“Why did you want to see me?”
“I… I made the mistake of leaving you. I know after years this probably means nothing but I still love you and I want to leave Eric. Can we start over again.”
I didn’t give a definite answer but asked her to see me next week and I’ll tell her my decision.
At the end of that week I visited Jade’s mother without telling her. I drove to Jade's mother’s house during the time Jade was at work, I didn’t want to cause anymore troubles for her and also wanted to explain to her mother how all of this was a misunderstanding. Her mother was very welcoming, she offered me tea and biscuits. She listened to me quite patiently as I explained to her how we had gotten into this misunderstanding.
“So you two were out getting lunch and were accidentally photographed and they twisted the whole story”
“And you two are just colleagues and friends, is that right?”
“I’m happy you came to clear the misunderstanding otherwise Jade would never had told me”
We chatted for probably an hour before I excused myself and headed back to work. The next phase was to get Eric and Iris out of my life once and for all.
The work day had ended soon and while leaving I still got the stares. It's been a week or two but who will tell them to stop? Before leaving work I had asked Jade if we could meet so I could explain to her my plan. She suggested her uncle’s bakery was a nice quiet place to meet and I agreed since it's been a long since I’ve seen uncle (the owner). I arrived first and talked to my uncle while I waited for Jade, she arrived 20 minutes later. We took a table at one far end so no one could hear us.
“So what’s the plan you wanted to tell me?”
“First tell me did Eric contact you?”
“Yeah, I just came from seeing him”
“What did he say?”
“He told me he made a mistake leaving me, he still loves me and wants to get back to which I told him to leave me alone but he insisted and I said I needed to think about it. Why?”
“Iris said the same thing.”
Then I sketched out my plan in front of her, explaining every little detail.
“Will this work?”
“I expect it to work as long as we stick to it”
We decided to carry out our plan next weekend. When Sunday arrived we put the plan in motion, Jade called Eric to her Uncle’s bakery and I called Iris to my office. We made sure both of them told the truth about what they have been up to behind each other’s back. Iris confessed to cheating and taking loans and causing Eric's company to collapse. Eric had confessed to cheating and embezzlement and fraudulent acts under Iris’s name.
We had recorded them on camera and after Iris was done confessing I took her to Jade’s uncle’s bakery. We ran into Jade and Eric there, and I could see Eric happy which meant both Eric and Iris thought they had gotten what they wanted. I seated Iris next to Eric and took my seat next to Jade. Uncle had already set up the projector and had connected it to a computer.
“I have to show both of you something amazing before we can continue” I said and gestured to Uncle to start the projector. Seconds later a video of Iris’s confession was on the screen, Eric turned red from all the rage and frustration and then the video of Eric confession was shown.
“Do you really think you can use us like that again?” Jade asked them. “We knew what kind of people you are and you still think we would get back with you” her voice rose louder by the second. I held her back in case she decided to attack them.
“I have already contacted the police about your fraudulent activities and also made sure the rest of the world knows too. I do suggest you see tomorrow's news, it will be a delight.” Both sat dumbfounded until the police actually arrived, which wasn’t in the plan but something told me uncle was behind it. As the police took them away Jade and I stepped out in the windy night.
“What now?” she asked, looking at the sky.
“We get on with our lives. But let’s try to remain friends.” A drop of water fell from the sky and then another.
“Agreed” she said with a sweet smile and we stood in the rain just enjoying the moment of freedom.