A couple has been madly in love to the point of promising to die together until one day, their world is turned upside down. The man unexpectedly inherits a large sum of money, and his wife disappears with their children weeks later.
“A very happy birthday to the man I adore! The man who blessed me with two lovely children and this wonderful life; the man who deserves it all, all the happiness in the world!” cried Linda as she raised the toast to her husband and gently kissed him on the lips.
“Then I’d like to make a toast to my wife as well for everything she’s taught me about love, for always being there for my children and me, and for being the most wonderful person in my life. Cheers to our marriage!”
Stewart and Linda locked gazes and exchanged another passionate kiss. Everyone at the party hooted. It was Stewart’s birthday, and Linda and their children, Max and Cody, had planned a surprise party for him.
The sight of their parents kissing made the two young boys cringe. “What’s wrong with Mum,” hissed Max. “She’s embarrassing herself!”
“Why do you care?” Cody shrugged as he shoved a massive piece of cake into his mouth. “But yeah, I would never marry Dad if I were her!”
Little could Stewart have guessed his life and marriage were far from perfect.
“It’s unbelievable how God blessed me with my wife, everyone,” Stewart continued, his eyes welling up. “I’ll be honest: my wife was way out of my league. I still don’t know why she chose me! I wasn’t particularly attractive or smart. Just a regular guy trying to make ends meet…”
Linda nudged Stewart. “Oh, please!” She rolled her eyes and wiped his tears away with her hands. “You were the most handsome man in my eyes back then, and you still are! And I wish for you to be my husband forever… until God calls us home! I want to be there for you always!”
“Ewww…Goodbye!” said Cody. “I’m going to eat in my room.”
Cody and Max had both disappeared from the party. All because they despised their father, but more so because they hated their parents’ constant public display of affection.
40-year-Stewart was an average guy, as he considered himself. He was very insecure as a kid, and he had a form of locomotor disability since childhood, due to which he couldn’t walk properly. Stewart was not one of your handsome guys either, so no girl was ever interested in him.
But when Linda came into his life, everything changed. She wasn’t beautiful and gorgeous by all accounts, but she was much better than Stewart when it came to looks. When she got down on one knee and proposed to him years ago, Stewart couldn’t believe it.
He had initially laughed it off, thinking she was joking, and he was about to walk away. But she’d pulled him closer, planted a strong kiss on his lips, and he was awestruck by her, by…everything about her!
After 15 years of marriage and two kids, Stewart still couldn’t believe his life had taken a beautiful turn. He adored his wife and children and was happy in his small world. Little could he have guessed his life and marriage were far from perfect.
Max and Cody often mocked Stewart for his locomotor disability and saw him as a loser. Not like they’d said it to his face, but they weren’t as close to him as they were to Linda, and they thought Stewart could never give them a good life.
So they also didn’t understand why their Mum loved their Dad and became all romantic and touchy with him. That, too…in public!
After the party, Linda tucked the boys in their beds, kissed them good night, and returned to her bedroom. Then she did her skincare routine and finally collapsed into Stewart’s arms. “Thank you for everything, darling. The party, the cake…everything was perfect!” he said softly, stroking her hair.
With her eyes closed, Linda smiled. “I tried,” she said. “Just tried my best.”
Suddenly, she opened her eyes. “Oh God, Stewart!” she cried and sat up in bed. “I completely forgot about it! Your business trip is coming up, right?”
He smiled and gently drew her back into his arms. “Relax. We’ve got time for that.”
“Actually…” she said. “I have to go there again…But only for two days this time.”
Stewart was suddenly quiet.
“You’re upset, aren’t you?” she asked, looking up at him.
“Well, I’m used to it,” he said as he drew away from her and turned off the bedside lamp. “I’m going to sleep. Good night.”
“It’ll only be for two days, Stew, and I’ll take Max and Cody with me. Sorry,” Linda said, his back facing her. But Stewart didn’t turn back to look at her. She also turned off her table lamp and dozed off.
Stewart didn’t like it when Linda worked as a private nanny. He wanted to be the one to provide for them, but she’d always insisted on assisting him, claiming she didn’t want her or their children to be a burden on him. So when he would be away on business, she’d work as a part-time babysitter.
Three days later, Stewart left for his business trip, and he was still upset about her babysitting. “I’ll be fine, babe,” Linda said as she kissed him goodbye. “Have a safe trip.”
“Goodbye,” grumbled Stewart, and then he settled in the taxi and disappeared down the street. Linda stood there for a while before heading back inside.
Days later, while he was still on the work trip, Stewart got a call from a private number. Because his clients sometimes called him from private numbers, he answered the phone right away.
“Yes?” he asked. “Who’s this?”
“Good day, Mr. Harding. This is Timothy Beach,” the voice on the other end of the line said. “I’m your aunt Aileen’s attorney.”
“Aileen’s attorney? How—how can I help?”
“I’m afraid I have some bad news for you, sir. Well, that and some er, good news—”
“Is she OK?” Stewart panicked. “How is Aileen?”
He overheard the attorney sigh. “I’m sorry, Mr. Harding,” Mr. Beach said. “Your aunt is no more…”
As the lawyer finished what he was saying, Stewart’s phone almost fell from his grasp. He knew that Aileen had been in a coma for five years and was gravely ill. Stewart was not very close to her, but the news saddened him.
He promised Mr. Beach that he would take care of her funeral arrangements since Aileen and her husband didn’t have children. He was surprised when the attorney told him that the funeral was already taken care of by Aileen’s close friend. “But Mr. Harding,” he said. “You’d need to come to my office because I need your signatures on some paperwork. Your aunt’s $2 million estate has been left to you. You’re her heir, and that’s the good news.”
“The heir?” asked Stewart, shocked. “But why me?”
“Well, sir, only my client would’ve been able to fill you in on that. Anyway, we’ll have the rest of the discussion at my office. I’ll send you the details soon. Thank you.”
As the lawyer hung up, a panicked Stewart immediately called Linda and told her everything while she was still away babysitting. “What?” she gasped. “But you didn’t know her all that well!”
“She didn’t have any children, and my uncle passed away years ago,” he said. “I guess she didn’t have much of a choice.”
“But keeping all this money in the bank, well…” Linda said. “After the taxes and everything, it’ll still be good money, babe. Before the other relatives, you know, come forward to claim it, you should get the money home and keep it in our safe. And yeah, let’s not tell anybody. I mean, it’s only for our own safety.”
“You’re right,” he told her. “You’re right. I’d like to attend the funeral as well, so I think I’ll wrap things up here and go. You’re still busy, so I’ll go alone.”
No money can ever replace the love and warmth of a family.
“Yes,” she agreed. “Well, I hope everything goes well. I’ll see you soon, honey!”
Stewart had no idea that on his way home from the funeral, his best friend, Arnold, would break another piece of bad news to him over the phone. He told Stewart that he saw Linda hugging a guy outside a cafe on the outskirts of town. “They’ve just walked in,” he said. “And I’m sure it doesn’t look like they’re just friends, mate.”
“Are you out of your bloody mind? Linda would never cheat on me, Arnold!” Stewart said defensively.
“Well, you gotta see it by yourself. I’ll text you the address, and before you come, I’ll have the proof,” he said and hung up.
Arnold went inside the cafe, and as he was passing by Linda’s table, he pretended to tie his shoelace and threw his Dictaphone under her table.
“Being a vintage store owner has its advantages,” he then typed in a message to Stewart. “My old Dictaphone is doing the job. Once you’re here, don’t come inside the cafe…you’ll ruin their plan. You’re in for a shock, mate. Your wife…well, this is going to put your marriage to the test!”
A couple of hours later, Stewart arrived at the cafe and called Arnold on his phone. When Arnold said Linda and her “friend” had left, Stewart burst into the cafe.
“What in the world is that message supposed to mean, Arnold?” he fumed. “What the hell—”
“Sit down,” Arnold said calmly. “And take a look at this. Stewart, I feel bad for you…” he added, turning the recording on.
The recording began with Arnold apologizing for tying his shoelace near their table and disturbing them, then Linda’s voice appeared.
“You’ve got to be kidding me! I’d never love that loser,” she said.
“So even after so many years of marriage, you actually never liked him?” the man’s voice asked.
Linda laughed. “He’s so freakin’ dumb!” she snarled. “I shower twice after we make love! He grosses me out! All this while, I’ve been tolerating that fool ’cause I always knew about the inheritance. You won’t believe it, but I decided to marry him after overhearing his aunt discussing how she was planning to leave him all of his money. She was talking to his Mum.
“15 YEARS! That’s how long I’ve waited for it all!”
“Now that the money is his and his aunt is out of the picture, I’ll take the money and just disappear with…our kids! They got their smartness from you, darling. You know, they hate Stewart…”
Stewart couldn’t believe his ears as he listened to the rest of the recording. Linda’s love, their marriage, and her concern for him were all lies! She’d never loved him, and Max and Cody were not his flesh and blood.
Linda and the man she was speaking with, Jared, were in a relationship. He’d approached her in a random cafe. Each time she got pregnant with him, she chose to keep the pregnancy and lied to Stewart that they were his children.
Not only that, but she also pretended to work as a nanny. While Stewart was away on business, she would meet Jared and spend time with him.
Jared and Linda had planned to take Stewart’s money and leave the country. They were also going to take Max and Cody with them, and it was all supposed to happen within a week.
Stewart was heartbroken and didn’t know how to react. He took the Dictaphone with him and drove back home. But Stewart knew he wasn’t going to let Linda slide. He decided to act normal in front of her. But he’d make her pay for what she’d done by giving her a taste of her medicine.
But he was slow in executing his plan. Stewart got the inheritance money home, and both he and Linda knew it was in their safe. One day, he returned home late in the evening and found his house empty. Linda and the kids were missing!
“Honey? Cody? Max?” Stewart called out, but there were no replies.
Stewart checked all the rooms and bathrooms, but it was all for naught. When he was leaving his bedroom, he suddenly noticed the safe was not properly closed. He checked it and was shocked to find the money gone.
Stewart called Linda, but her number was out of service. He could sense something was wrong and was about to dial the cops when he received a call from Arnold. “They’re heading for the highway, Stewart. We gotta hurry. I’m coming to your home in, like, five minutes!”
Linda didn’t know Arnold and Stewart had hidden a tracker in the money. As Arnold’s call ended, Stewart grabbed his coat and hurried out of the house.
That night, Stewart and Arnold followed Linda and learned she was escaping with Jared and the kids. When her car stopped by a gas station and Jared left to use the washroom, Arnold and Stewart circled Linda.
“Don’t even consider running, Linda! Your game’s over!” cried Stewart. “The cops are on the way, and they have everything they need to detain you and your sick boyfriend! But I won’t turn you in because the kids need you! So now I will go to the car, get my money and take it to the bank. And in the meantime, you will go to my house, take all your things from there and vanish with the kids. That, or you’re rotting in prison with that Jared!”
Linda was shocked. “Stewart, I—”
Before she would finish, the cops were on the scene, apprehending Jared. He kept shouting that Linda was part of the plan, but Stewart refused, saying she was only pretending to be with Jared and that it was all a ruse to get him apprehended.
Stewart was in tears on his way to the bank. Although he’d exposed Linda and gotten Jared arrested, he was very disappointed. All these years, he’d loved Linda and their children with all his heart, but now it would be hard for him to trust anyone again.
Later that night, Stewart met Arnold at a bar and was very depressed. “She freakin’ cheated on me all these years,” he hissed, chugging his beer. “What a waste!”
“Come on, man!” Arnold encouraged him. “You still got a good life. If nothing, all the dirt from your life was cleared. You are healthy, have the money, and can start over.”
“I never needed the money!” grumbled Stewart. “Do hell with it! It only brought me bad luck!”
“I’ve got a sick wife here, Stewart! Stop crying about your life now! Lily was diagnosed with cancer two weeks ago, and it’s been a hell ride…Look, you gotta appreciate life, Stewie. I know what has happened isn’t something to celebrate, but you gotta live life and move on.”
Stewart would never have moved on, and maybe he would’ve succumbed to the pain of being cheated on…if it hadn’t been for Arnold’s motivating words. Three days later, Stewart paid a visit to Arnold.
“Woah, Stewart, what are you doing here? I got home at, like, 4 this morning, and Lily was mad!” he whispered, looking back and then at his friend on the doorstep. Stewart was holding a bag, which he left on Arnold’s doorstep before turning around and leaving.
“Keep it with you, mate. Goodbye!” Stewart said, waving him bye. Then he hopped on his bike and rode away. Arnold was surprised to find cash in the bag when he checked it. Stewart had left him the funds for Lily’s treatment. He never wanted so much money in the first place.
All his life, he’d dreamed of getting himself a motorbike, but Linda would be against it. Now that she was out of his life, he finally got one.
That morning, Stewart packed his stuff, tied it to his motorbike, and started out on a new journey in life. Even though he had no idea about his destination, he rode his bike as far as it would take him, battling the winds and breathing freely for the first time in ages.
As he reached the highway, he stopped by a cafe to eat. There, beside his table, he saw a woman, a gorgeous brunette in biker garb—a leather jacket, boots, and a helmet resting beside her plate.
“Guess you love biking too,” he said, and she turned to look at him.
“Umm…yep!” she said with a smile, eating her sandwich. “I guess 13 years of an unfaithful husband does that to you!”
“Tell me about it! I just found out my wife of 15 years was cheating on me,” he said bluntly.
After a shared ironic chuckle, Stewart said, “I’m sure this cafe isn’t your final destination.”
She smirked. “No, it’s not. Is it yours?”
“No,” he said, grabbing his helmet and putting it on. “Let me keep you company till your destination because I don’t have one at all. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find mine with you.”
What can we learn from this story?
No money can ever replace the love and warmth of a family. Stewart had millions with him, but he knew it would never make him happy. When his family broke up, he decided to let go of his material possessions and is now looking forward to a new life.
You should never lie to your partner, for lies have a way of leaking out. Although Linda deceived Stewart for 15 years and played the faithful, loving wife, one day, the truth came to light.
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