Ari and Marisol still had had no success with conceiving a child of their own. They didn’t speak about it anymore, but Ari could tell that Marisol felt just as frustrated and disappointed as he did. They continued to focus on their work, and soon were able to afford to rent a house in Vineyard Hills, an affluent neighborhood closer to downtown Apple Springs.
The new house was beautiful – not very big, but certainly roomy enough for a childless couple. Sometimes, Ari caught Marisol staring at the guest room with a dreamy expression in her eyes, and he knew that she was imagining the space filled with baby furniture and baby toys. He felt a terrible weight of guilt. He had had an affair with Jessica, and he could not give his wife the one thing she wanted most of all – a child to love and raise.
He knew that it would not make up for it, but when Marisol’s birthday rolled around that summer, he brought home a tiny and very cute puppy. When Marisol woke up and found the tiny, wiggly ball of fur in the living room, her face shone with the biggest smile Ari had seen in months.
“Oh, he is so adorable!” Marisol squealed, clapping her hands together. “Let’s call him Fred.”
Ari frowned. “Fred? Seriously?” Still, he gave in, because Fred was his gift to Marisol. Having a puppy was not nearly as fulfilling as having children, but still, Fred occupied their attention and affection. Ari was happy to see his wife smiling and lighthearted again after so many months of unhappiness.
But then, one late summer afternoon, Ari got a phone call from Jessica. “I’m afraid I have some —surprising news,” Jessica said. “I’m eight months pregnant. Just thought you’d want to know, since it’s your baby.”
“Pregnant!” Ari was stunned. He could hardly believe it until he raced across town to Jessica’s house to see for himself. Sure enough, she was huge with child.
“No! No way – I will raise him. With my wife.” Oh God – his wife! When Marisol found out that he had slept with Jessica and was now expecting a baby, she was going to be so hurt. Maybe she would even leave him. But he couldn’t just let Jessica put his only child up for adoption, either.
Ari decided that there was no way around it. He had to tell her. His insides twisted as he approached his wife. “Marisol,” he said, “we need to talk.”