I was sure I would recognize her when I saw her. Philip has a “type.” I already know her name is Bridget. She also described herself in great detail on the phone, which made me even more agitated than I was before we made our lunch date. We didn’t do the usual “you’ll know me by the white carnation” crap. She just said, “I’ll be the one who’s eight months pregnant.” That should be easy enough to spot. Especially in an out of the way truck stop diner. This greasy spoon would not have been my first choice for our meeting, but I couldn’t risk being spotted by anyone who knew my husband, or by my husband for that matter.
I’ve been planning this meeting ever since I found Phil’s little black book. It was filled with the names of his richest and most prominent clients. Each was designated one-to-three-dollar signs, depending on the extent of their wealth. Her name had three hearts, no dollar signs.
I was originally looking for his appointment calendar so I could plan a surprise getaway for the two of us. Phil had been putting in such late hours at the office on a “very special project.” Most nights he came home after dark and was even too exhausted for conversation. I knew how tired he was, so I spent most nights with a good book for company. I was lonely and figured a break would do us both good. We were still recovering from our daughter’s recent wedding. It was all I could do to get him to take the weekend off for the wedding. He’s never home and rarely available anymore.
There she is! God, she is lovely. Well, I’ve done it. I’ve managed to find yet another reason to hate her even more than I did. She can’t be a day older than our daughter. The bastard is going to be a Father again! And at his age no less. Life is so damn un-fair.
You’d have thought he would have been more careful. He knows how crushed and heartbroken I was right after our precious little girl was born. When I awoke from the anesthetic, the Doctor told us he had to do an emergency hysterectomy. We just held each other and cried. I guess Phil really did want another child as badly as me. But twenty-five years later, really?
As she struggles to slide her bulging tummy into the booth across from me, I catch the waitress smiling at us as she waits to deliver our menus. Good Lord, she thinks we are Mother and Daughter! That this is my Grandchild! If she only knew what she’d done, our waitress would probably want to pour my hot coffee on Bridget too. No sense going off the deep end here, that’s what girlfriends and wine are for. I’ve cried myself out. I’m almost numb. I’ve got a throat full of acid, and my nails are digging deep into my palms, but I have to stay calm. I need her to believe we can be friends, that I’m a “good sport.” If I’m going to ask her for a favor, I need her trust. Let’s see how guilty she feels…
We introduce ourselves as if we are at a cocktail party. “Hi, my name is Bridget, I’ve been a client of Phil’s this past year.” I knew that part already because Phil’s secretary Margaret has been more loyal and dedicated to me over the years than she was to him. Margaret would always say “We girls have to stick together,” after she told me of his latest indiscretion. She seemed to take such joy in snitching on him. I wonder if she has ever been on the other end of that statement. My ally Margaret is right though, we do have to stick together.
We’re actually laughing our way through most of lunch. I’m telling her cute family stories about Phil as a child. She coos how excited she is that their little baby might be as clever as his daddy. “His” daddy! Well, well, lover boy is getting the son he thought he would never have. Fantastic, another possible heir to his vast corporate Empire! Unless I get started, the little darling might actually get a “piece of the pie!” Over my dead body! That belongs to our daughter. Her father was never there for her, so he can at least give her the fruits of his labor. This little “gold digger” isn’t going to get a penny of his millions if my plan works.
Finally, after an hour of “girl talk” she is struggling to get out of the booth. She actually had the nerve to hug me goodbye! I can’t believe how gullible she is. Bridget has agreed to try and get Phil to tell me about their affair and the baby. I told her I know him; he won’t confess to me unless she threatens to leave with his son. “Otherwise, he won’t leave me,” I warned. “You need to do as I ask if you want him in your son’s life.” She believed me when I told her to be strong and it will be all right. I held her hands, then gently wiped the tears from her cheeks with my napkin. I lied and told her not to worry about me, because I am having an affair too. I feigned tears and whispered, “I’ve been looking for an excuse to get out of this marriage, but I just can’t hurt him.” God, this is too easy. With another hug, she is out the door and on her way to Phil’s office. I can’t wait to hear how Margaret shares Bridget’s ultimatum. “We girls…”
I return to the booth for one last cup of strong, black coffee. My hand shakes as I lift the cup to my lips. I find myself staring out the filmy glass window of the café, revisiting our entire conversation. I think it went as planned. Bridget seemed convinced I had only the best intentions for her and the baby. But what I didn’t tell her is that a couple of years ago during a heated argument over Phil’s latest tryst, I drew up a binding contract that stated if he ever had an affair on me again, his fortune is all mine, every last dollar! He would have signed anything to get me to stop screaming and threatening him. I’ve got the contract in my purse and one hell of an attorney on speed dial.
The truck stop diner hasn’t changed much since our last visit. Only this time we are walking in together and I’m the one carrying the baby. I gently place the baby carrier on my side of the booth so I can watch him sleep. Bridget wants Philip Jr. to call me “Grandma.” I’m thrilled and have several new baby outfits in the car to give her when we leave. We’ve talked on the phone several times since Philip Sr. left his wife and mistress. Can’t blame him. It was so easy to glean DNA from Phil’s hairbrush and from a little blue bib I found in his suit pocket. Not a match. Serves him right though. The contract said nothing about pregnancy, just infidelity.
After a few minutes of idle chat, we get down to business. I am genuinely pleased that Bridget seems excited about our new partnership. I was looking for someone I could trust for my next venture and we have so much in common as scorned women. Without her “sugar-daddy,” I knew she was struggling to support our little bundle of joy. So, a gift of twenty thousand seems more than fair for her part in Phil’s confession.
Bridget gasps and lets out a little squeal as she reaches for the envelope and counts the crisp new bills under the greasy Formica tabletop. The entire twenty thousand dollars is gently stuffed in the blanket of the baby carrier. This time she takes my hands and squeezes them tightly.
As her beautiful baby boy lays sleeping next to his new grandma, we eagerly plan the future. I’m a single woman again. Only this time, I am a wealthy single woman. She had a good eye for picking a rich pigeon, so I’ll let her pick the name from the little black book, that I push across the table.
“We girls have to stick together…”