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Part 3: More red flags


To recap: I agreed to keep my two-hour lunch visit with my brother-in-law, Rob, a secret from my husband and my sister.

I pretty easily pushed that visit and its strange ending out of my mind for a week. I just chalked it up to me misinterpreting his intentions. I figured he was in a strange situation and he needed to talk to someone who knows the back story and everyone involved. Period.

So then the OFK takes place and Caroline is telling me about it, blow by blow. Ethan made it to Oregon and life in their house is settling down.

The following Monday (a week later) at 8:05 am the phone rings and it's Rob. He asks if he can come over for lunch again at 1 pm. I'm startled that he's calling and wants to come to lunch again. But, I go with it and tell him the house is a mess and I only have three cans of Diet Pepsi in the refrigerator--if he's okay with that then I'll see him at one o'clock.

He comes over and we talk more about his feelings of inadequacy, his struggle with God and how to move forward with Ethan. He also peppers the conversation with a few phrases like "You're so easy to talk to" and "Caroline just doesn't understand me the way you do."

More bells and whistles in my head, but I push them down. This is my brother-in-law we're talking about, whom I have known for 21 years. I'm convinced that I am taking things the wrong way. Besides, I am a dork. There is NO WAY my brother-in-law could be attracted to me because that would be disgusting and gross.

Again, he stays til three o'clock and I tell him I have to get my kid from school and wake the other two up from nap time. He comments on how the time flies when he's with me and asks as he is leaving, can we make this a standing appointment for every Monday at 1 pm?

I'm surprised and taken off guard, but I say, "Um, okay. I guess I'll pencil you into my appointment book," implying I am now his psychotherapist.

He leaves, I get my kid and I'm mulling over how I'm going to tell Bill about this. I really thought Rob was never going to call me again. If that had been the case, I didn't see anything wrong with keeping his first visit confidential.

But now that he has come over a second time and he wants to do this every Monday at 1 pm I'm feeling uncomfortable. It's making me feel like I'm Mrs. Jones and I'm starting to get a thing goin' on.

Cut to 9:00 that night. The kids are in bed and Bill and I are in the living room talking and I say "Rob (last name) called me last Monday and came over for lunch to talk about the stuff going on with Ethan."

"And he came over again for lunch today."

I watched the range of emotions cloud his face like a gathering storm -- surprise, curiosity, irritation and, finally, anger. I tried to explain why I didn't say anything last Monday, but Bill was hurt and angry. In retrospect, I have to agree with his reaction.

As Bill said, it was an event that was out of the ordinary which warranted some comment. I should have told Bill at least that Rob came over the first time and talked about the current events in his life. That would have honored my agreement to keep the content of Rob's discussion private, but would also have honored my marriage to Bill.

What stung the most was when Bill said to me, "I am choosing to believe that nothing extraordinary happened." He is *choosing* to believe me; that made me feel terrible. He was obviously hurt and angry and he didn't fully believe what I was telling him.

And why should he, I thought. I kept a secret from my husband. Another man convinced me to keep a stupid, harmless secret from the most important man in my life. And that innocent secret has now thrown a monkey wrench in the previously smooth relationship I had with my husband.

We talked things through to a final resolution and decided I would call Rob to cancel our future lunch plans. Also, to let him know that Bill knew about the two lunches we already had.

I procrastinated and finally called Rob at work that Friday. I realized I *had* to call him at work, because my sister, Caroline, did not know about the previous meetings or the plans we had made for the next week.

Rob was reluctant to cancel our meeting and tried to convince me to keep the plans. I told him no; I also told him it was weird. I did not come out and say, it feels like you are coming on to me, but that's what I was trying to convey by using the term "weird."

He tried to schedule a standing phone call instead but finally agreed to no more contact. He ended the call by asking if I was planning on having lunch with my parents the next day, Saturday. I told him yes and he said he might see me there.

I did tell Kim (Sister#3) about this whole thing that night to see what her take on it was. I wanted to know if she thought Bill and I were misinterpreting this situation. Kim said she thought the same thing--that Rob was testing the water to see if I was interested in him romantically. She then proceeded to tell me to make sure I did not find myself alone with Rob the next time I saw him.

Well the next time I saw him was on the next day, Saturday, at the restaurant with my parents, my children and my sister Caroline. And sure enough, Kim was right.

Rob discreetly pulled me to the side and handed me a letter he wrote. I was so stunned I just put it in my back pocket and said, "Oh. That's for me? Okay."


2006-11-10 at 2:27 p.m.

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