Then Marcus looked at me again. I had the feeling he knew I was attempting to avoid revealing anything more. The man was too perceptive by half. “And your late husband? The thing you need to see Sam about?”
I hesitated. “I feel I need to try to explain about Toby.”
He nodded. His white hair was standing up in little spikes from the sweat. He obviously hadn’t shaved yet for the day because his cheeks were heavily stubbled. I had a hard time not staring at him as I talked.
“When Toby left me, I was so ashamed. I didn’t want to tell anybody. My brother Robbie knew something was amiss, though. I was in Pittsburgh by then, teaching at Westmoreland. He’d taken a job in New York, but he came out to see me. I told him all about...”
I stopped myself in time. I almost revealed my Big Secret. How did Marcus Sloan do it? I barely knew him and I almost unveiled the biggest secret in my life. I backpedaled.
“After Toby was gone for two years, I could legally file for divorce in Pennsylvania, where I lived. I did so, receiving what appeared to be quite legal documents in return, which stated my divorce was final. I didn’t...um... I handled it all myself. My parents had warned me against marrying him in the first place and I wanted to show how independent I was by handling the mess I made of my life.” I blew out a long sigh.
He smiled. I noticed for the first time he had a little scar running along the side of his face and onto his chin. It rippled when he smiled. “I know how that goes.”
“Robbie tried to find Toby, but he’d vanished. It was Robbie who told the family what happened.” I sipped my coffee. “I have a very large, extended family so everyone had to get involved. My uncle Phil, my cousin Petros, my uncle Vanya, my dad Walt—all the male relatives wanted to track down Toby and make him ‘do the right thing’.” I laughed shakily. “I wasn’t sure I wanted Toby back, though. So I filed the papers.”
I paused to order my thoughts and Sloan didn’t pressure me. He just waited. It was very soothing. I struggled to make him understand without making it look as though I was hoping for a reassuring compliment. “I’ve always known I’m not the type of woman—” I stopped and started again. “I don’t make men—” I stopped again. “I mean, I’m not terribly sexy. Toby was very sexy and sophisticated. When he paid attention to me, I was so flattered. And I was unsure about my future. I was starting a new job, but wasn’t sure if it was the right career path for me. Toby lied to me. He told me he’d be deported unless I helped him. He told me he was here on a graduate student visa and...” I looked at Sloan, expecting to see pity at my stupidity.
Instead I saw compassion. It gave me the courage to continue. “Then, a few days after we got married I found he was sleeping around. Maggie—you met her? She saw him with another woman. I confronted Toby about it but he just laughed it off.” I ran a hand through my hair, tugging at my curls in agitation. “It mattered a lot to me. I trusted him.”
“I can understand how that must have made you feel,” Sloan said quietly. “You trusted him and he threw it in your face.”
I looked into his eyes but didn’t see a hint of condescension or laughter at my naiveté. This was a man who understood trust and the converse of that—violated trust.
I believe it was at that moment that I decided to convince Marcus Sloan to introduce my virgin body to the joys of sex.