After my older lover and boss, Mr. Brown, generously gave me his childhood home, my two daughters and I packed up and moved out of the house that we had been staying in with my soon-to-be ex-husband. My divorce would be finalized by the end of May, and I had already contacted Mr. Johansen to help with selling my marital home. Mr. Brown and I had been spending a lot of time together doing repairs around the house, and were also both spending time with my kids. It was to a point where we were almost together 24 hours a day, and I didn’t have a problem with that.
Because Mr. Brown was my lover and my boss, things were starting to get complicated at work. People had started catching wind of what was going on. A few of our partners at the firm were aware that Mr. Brown’s wife was sick, and the talk around the office was that I was the reason that Mr. Brown wasn’t sleeping at home anymore. He had actually been sleeping at his condo—the one we favored for quickies and sleepovers of our own—because his wife had a caretaker move in to take care of her 24 hours a day. Her health was getting worse by the day, and since she knew about my relationship with her husband and was OK with it, Mr. Brown had a nurse stay with her at all times so she wasn’t alone. We still took her with us and the kids to the movies and to the park. Mr. Brown was not neglecting or forgetting about her, and we all spent a lot of time at their house swimming and playing.
This was causing huge problems for me with some of the other women at the firm. They felt that, because of my recent divorce, I was taking advantage of Mr. Brown and his wife, and that I was trying to get sympathy money out of them. The gossip was getting so bad that people were actually speaking rudely with me right to my face and I was starting to be treated quite badly. And then shit finally hit the fan.
One of my female co-workers, who had access to some of the e-mail servers, was able to read some of the messages between me and Mr. Brown, as well as some of the e-mails from his wife—she decided to go to Human Resources about it. I was sitting at my desk one afternoon and my cell phone started to vibrate. It was my personal cell phone, so I figured it was either my ex or my mother. But when I saw that it was Mr. Brown, I panicked. He never used this cell phone because he always dialed my work phone. Something had to be wrong. I answered it discreetly and whispered, “Hello?”
He told me that he just finishing speaking with the HR manager, Mrs. Roberts, with regards to rumors about me and him. He told me that she would probably want to talk to me as well, and that since it was against company policy, I could be in a lot of trouble. He owned a large portion of the firm, including stocks, so he was basically given a slap on the wrist. But he told me that because I was basically considered to just be an assistant, I could very well be fired. He told me to deny that anything was going on, and that I had been helping out with the arrangements for his wife’s caretaker. He also told me to say that I had been taking the kids to his house to spend time with his sick wife.
Sure enough, I had a new e-mail before I even hung up the phone. I knew that starting an office romance, especially with my boss, was a bad idea, but I didn’t want to lose my job—I couldn’t afford to lose my job. I knew that talking to the HR manager was going to be a nightmare, but I didn’t know that she was going to tell me about some secrets of her own…