Real Love Series

Real Love (Part 5)

“Thomas, just tell me the truth!”I screamed into the phone receiver. “DO.YOU.HAVE.A.SON?!”

The phone was silent. Neither of us spoke. I braced myself for the response to the question I already knew the answer to. See, that’s the thing about women. We be knowin’. We know when a man is lying or hiding something. The problem is…we just can’t prove it. This time was different though. This time I knew Thomas was lying AND I had proof.

“No.” His voice was unshaken and steady. He is such a good liar. Did he practice this lie?If I didn’t have this paperwork in front of me I would’ve believed him. “Janae, why would I lie about having a child?”

That’s exactly what I wanted to know.

I hung up the phone feeling defeated. Another one bites the dust. My cell phone rung interrupting my thoughts. Looking at the screen, I realized that it wasn’t Thomas calling back to try to explain, it was an unsaved local number. I stared at the phone contemplating whether I should pick it up or not. Maybe he’s calling from another number because he knows I’m not picking up any calls from his cell phone.

“Ms. Davis?” The caller said as my curiosity won the internal debate. “This is Stacey from the cable company. If you don’t make a payment in the next two days we will have to cut off your services.” Fuck. I forgot about that.

“Listen, Stacey,” I interrupted. “I’ll have the money by then just give me some time.” Frustrated, hurt, and angry. I laid across my bed not wanting to move or think anymore. Thomas was a liar but there would be no way I could pay the rest of my bills without him…What am I going to do?

This whole debacle started at an interesting time in my life. I wasn’t even old enough to drink yet but I was making more money than I’d ever made in my life at a job I hated. I had moved out of my moms house for the first time ever and I felt like such a badass independent woman. I was wearing heels, turning heads and turning down men everywhere I went. Ah, the good life. The problem was…I was lonely. Now that I lived further from my mom, I didn’t have anyone to talk to or hang out with at my new place. Dating filled that void for me. It made me feel powerful and wanted. It filled in the lonely hours between work and church. Most of these men were looking for the same thing. No matter how lonely I was, I wasn’t about to have just any man waste my time. No, if a man wanted my time he would either have to be rich or handsome…no exceptions!

Thomas and I went on our first date after he DM’d me on a dating app. He wasn’t my usual type physically but he was kind and sensitive and selfless. On our date, we talked about his career in the government that he loved and the houses he owned. We talked about our families and hobbies. I loved his style and how he carried himself. Most guys I knew who made six figures were boring and had no personality. Thomas had money and personality and wasn’t too bad on the eyes. He was ten years older than me so he had an older man maturity I liked. Our conversation topics varied greatly and I enjoyed being mentally stimulated for once.

“How do you feel about dating a man with kids?” He asked in between bites of food.

“It’s not for me. Why do you ask? Do you have kids?” I asked nonchalantly.

“Me? No….well not anymore.” He responded. Thomas began to tell me the saddest story I ever heard. He told me that his toddler passed away a year prior as a result of a drunk driver. The driver was the child’s mother who survived the crash. Suddenly I wasn’t hungry. Initially, all I wanted was a free meal and some company but hearing his story, my heart broke at the thought of the pain he was going through. After the conclusion of our date, I still couldn’t get Thomas out of my head. I was in awe that he could go through all this pain and still have a smile on his face and want to love again. This guy is definitely different than the rest.

As months went by, things progressed rather quickly. Thomas and I were spending a lot of time together and enjoying each others company and I could tell Thomas was falling in love with me. He was paying the majority of my bills and taking me shopping. He talked about marriage and moving in together and although I liked him, this was happening way too fast for me. I knew we had fun together but I wasn’t even sure I liked him yet. Something about who he appeared to be was just too good to be true. I couldn’t put my finger on it but something about him wasn’t right.

I knew I needed to look into his life further when he started spending the night at my apartment. He would come over after work and have a nice evening eating, laughing and watching trash TV together. But after we went to bed, I would always wake up alone without a goodbye or explanation. He would only leave a note or text that said he needed to be at work early or a family emergency came up. The excuse was always believable and never an unordinary reason.

After awhile of this unusual behavior, I found a website that helps you track people by pulling up all the public information available. You can find out everything from their phone number to their car’s Vehicle Identification Number. But I wasn’t looking for any of that. I was just looking to verify the things he’d already told me. I found the address to his house in Virginia and his house in Maryland. Check. I verified that he worked as a high-level employee of the Department of Defense. Check. I verified his dad and brother also worked for the government. Check. His age. Check. His birthday. Check. His wife’s name. Chec….WIFE!? Who is Serena Foster and why was she listed as a possible residence at his house in Virginia?

My mind dived into a wormhole of information. I scoured the internet for clues on whether Serena was a current or former spouse to this mystery man.Who are you Serena? According to her linkedin account, Serena was a two time graduate of Old Dominion University. She worked in the tech world and apparently hated social media. No facebook, no instagram, no twitter…this is typical for most people who work in the tech world. There has to be more information.

My frustration from the lack of knowledge was getting to me. Obviously Thomas was lying about at least one thing and I needed to know whether I was his mistress or not. I scrolled through Thomas’ scarce facebook page photos trying to think of another way to get my hands on proof that he is still married. I noticed a picture I hadn’t seen before. His mom tagged him and several other people in a photo from a family reunion. Even though she wasn’t pictured, Serena was tagged as Fost Serena. Bingo! No wonder I couldn’t find her page initially. I swooped down on Serena’s facebook page like a hawk that just found lunch. I swiped through her past profile pictures digesting every detail. My heart dropped when her third picture was the sweetest looking boy with light eyes and dark curly hair. He stared in the camera lens with wide-eyed innocence. In his right hand he held a quickly melting ice cream cone. His white t-shirt had a Spiderman emblem across the middle. Spidermans face was partially covered in ice cream remnants. He looked just like Thomas. They both had the same wide nostrils and small chin. They shared the same bone structure and skin complexion. The boy was long and slender and looked like he would make a great point guard in a couple years. His son never died. Even if that accident happened, his son was no longer a toddler. I printed the picture and began piecing together a timeline of evidence against Thomas.

I sat sipping conservatively on the glass of water the waiter brought to our table. Thomas sat across from me dressed in a blue checkered button down. His navy tie still swinging like a pendulum from his rushed entrance into the restaurant. His suit jacket hung from the back of his chair like a ghost and his pale face could sense my irritation with his late arrival.

“Sorry, traffic was crazy.” He said in between large gulps of water. 

“Was it?” I challenged.

“Yeah, some kind of accident.” No it wasn’t. Now his lies were getting sloppy. I’d already checked the traffic report while I was waiting. I silently thanked God that I had already ordered my food to go. I wasn’t in the mood to get lied to yet again and I was leaving when my food was ready whether Thomas had time to plead his case or not.

“Thank you for meeting me.” He started. ” I know these past few days haven’t been good for either of us. After our last conversation I did some soul searching and I’m ready to tell the truth.”

“Okay…”

“I do have a son.” He shifted in his chair. “But, it’s not what you think. I just found out about him.” Lie. “My ex from college got in touch with me after our second date and told me that we have a ten year old son. She said she didn’t tell me because our relationship didn’t end well.” Lie again.

“So, you never had any clue before then? None of her family or friends told you?

“No, I lost touch with all of our mutual friends from college and her family never liked me.” Another lie.

“So what are you going to do?” I asked

“Well, I’m going to step up and be a father. I know you said you don’t date men with kids but I’m hoping you’ll make an exception. I’m supposed to meet him for the first time this weekend and I really want you to go with me.” Silence filled the space between us. I could see his mind trying to read whether I was falling for it or not. My face didn’t change. I stared straightforward and tight lipped. As a bead of sweat started to form on his forehead, I slowly took a sip of water savoring the look of confusion on his face.

“In fourth grade I had a teacher. She was the meanest and most racist person I’d ever come across. She never outright said anything racist but she did everything in her power to make me feel small, unwanted, and dumb despite the fact that I was consistently one of her top performing students.”

“Janae, what….” Thomas said more confused than ever. He stared at the brown bag of food the waiter placed on the table.

“Every time I passed a test or got on the Honor Roll List, this teacher would tell my mom that somehow I cheated.” I continued. “For some reason she couldn’t come to terms with the fact that I achieved these things on my own merit. She thought that because I was really talkative that there was no way I could make friends and pay attention to what was goin on in the class.”

“Baby, you’re not making any sense.” His expression had moved to concern.

“Just because I talk, doesn’t mean I’m not listening.” Before standing up, I reached into my purse and pulled out a bank statement with circled transfers of child support payments dating back more than five years. I placed them on top of the empty tapas plate in front of Thomas. His eyes roamed the page frantically. He sifted through the bank statements in shock pausing when he got to the printed out picture of him and his son at the childs first soccer game grinning from ear to ear with pride.

Thomas looked up at me trying to find words.

“I was listening…” I said grabbing my purse and food. Before I laid eyes on him for the last time, I dumped the rest of my research on the table and chuckled as his lies floated to the ground around him. Curious onlookers peaked at the photos of he and his family. The pictures exposing every lie he had told me up to this point. He had always known about his son. His son knew his mom and dad and siblings.

As I pulled off in my Honda Accord, I repeated the only question I never got the answer to: Why would you lie about your child?

I realized that this was my first encounter with a true manipulator. Manipulators don’t often think of the consequences of their actions. They are just focused on what they want and they will say or do anything to get those things. I’m sure Thomas meant no harm in telling me that his son passed but he knew that our first date would’ve been our last if he told me about his son. He wanted to sleep with me and he was willing to lie, pay and hide things in order to get it.

To this day I’ve never found concrete evidence that he was still married to Serena but the fact that he had been married and not told me was enough to make me not want to even be friends with him. It is men like this that give all men a bad name and I truly believe that we have to stop allowing people like this to explain themselves and come up with a better lie to sucker us back in.

Maybe Thomas had a bad childhood or he was taught to lie by a parent or someone he looked up to. Maybe he lied because he really did want to marry me and didn’t want to lose me. None of those reasons are good enough to spend the rest of my fact checking someone who I’m supposed to trust.

The intent of his reasoning is useless if the result is pain for me. If we go into a situation with the best intentions and the results turn out negative. We need to learn to apologize and tell the truth. In the same regard we have to be willing to be honest with ourselves and others. If you have to lie to get someone to stay in your life, they are just as toxic to you as you are to them. People who are meant to be in your life don’t need to be lied to or manipulated to stay in your life. When you do these things you take away their choice to make the best decision possible for their life.

Yes, it hurts when someone you care about leaves your life but it far more painful to watch them suffer with you in it.

k, good talk

-J

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