A man goes on a business trip and forgets his phone at home. His young wife hears it ring but when she answers she is shocked to discover she knows nothing about his past.
Jack was one of those people who seem to live with their phones in their hands, always getting calls, answering urgent texts, and sending e-mails. It was unthinkable that he would ever leave his phone behind but that is exactly what happened.
Jack was packing for a four-day last-minute business trip to Boston with his wife Charlotte’s help, and he was putting things in his bag while checking off a mental list. He packed his charger in the bag but left the phone itself on the bed…
Jack and Charlotte had been married for eight months and they were still getting used to each other’s little oddities. They had fallen in love at first sight, and after a three-week whirlwind courtship, said their ‘I do’s.’
Charlotte was a little upset that Jack had to rush off to the East Coast with no warning because she had been planning a very special surprise for him. She had prepared a delicious dinner, with all his favorites, and then she was going to tell him she was pregnant.
Charlotte sighed. Oh well, she’d tell him in a few days when he came back! She wasn’t sure how he’d react but she loved children. Their short courtship had left a lot of grey areas to explore, but Charlotte had noticed that Jack didn’t like talking about children.
Secrets are impossible to keep.
Charlotte hadn’t planned the pregnancy, it had just happened, but she found herself overjoyed at the idea of a little person that was half her, half Jack, their love made flesh and bone.
Charlotte went upstairs and started tidying up the bedroom and Jack’s dressing room which looked as if it had been hit by a hurricane. She was hanging up his robe when an unexpected sound intruded: it was Jack’s ringtone.
“Jack?” asked Charlotte, then she realized the noise was coming from under the bedcover. Whipping it away Charlotte found herself looking at Jack’s precious phone, the one he never let out of his sight!
While she stood there astounded, the phone went to voice mail and a little girl’s lisping voice said, “Daddy? It’s Mimi! I miss you and I made a cupcake for you at kindergarten!”
Then a boy’s older voice interrupted her. “Gimme that! Hi dad! Sorry, it’s Shaun. I just wanted to remind you that I need some new sneakers…” There was some mumbling in the background and the boy added, “And Mimi wants a ‘Hello Kitty’ sweatshirt!”
The two children were talking and laughing at the same time, then the call abruptly cut off. Mimi? Shaun? Dad? Charlotte picked up the phone with trembling hands.
Did Jack have a second secret family? Who was these children’s mother? Who was this man she’d married? Charlotte placed her hands protectively over her tummy, where her own baby was happily growing.
“What am I going to do?” she whispered. She couldn’t even check if there were other calls from the same number since the phone only unlocked with Jack’s fingerprint.
“It could be a wrong number,” Charlotte told herself, but deep down she wasn’t convinced by her own explanation. That evening, when Jack called from his hotel, she told him his phone was safe, and by the time Jack came home three days later, Charlotte was ready to find out the truth.
Jack walked in looking tired. “Charlotte!” he cried, and dropped his bags to hug and kiss her, but she stepped back.
“Hello Jack,” she said in her coolest voice. Her husband looked bewildered by her coldness.
“Honey, what’s wrong?” he asked tenderly. “Are you sick?” All of Charlotte’s good intentions flew out of the window and she found herself screaming at Jack like a fishwife.
“SICK?” she cried. “You bet I’m sick when I discovered my husband has TWO small children God-knows-where and hasn’t found time in eight months of marriage to tell me so!”
Jack was deadly pale. “You know about Mimi and Shaun?” he asked.
“YES!” Charlotte screamed. “They left you a phone message! Jack, how could you not tell me something so important about yourself? You should have told me on the first day!”
Jack sat down and sank his head into his hands. “Oh, Charlotte!” he whispered. “I was so unhappy when I met you, and you blew into my life like spring! I just wanted to be a happy, hopeful man with you, not a bitterly betrayed wreck.”
“Bitter? Betrayed?” Charlotte asked. “What do you mean?”
“I was married, very young,” Jack explained. “And Dina and I had Shaun straight out of high school. I thought we were happy, you know? But a few years later things were so bad I asked Dina for a divorce.
“That was when she told me she was pregnant again, with Mimi. I thought the new baby would give us a new beginning, but a few weeks later I walked in on her with my best friend.”
Charlotte was stunned. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered, but there was more in the dreadful story to unfold.
“She admitted that she didn’t know it the kids were mine, so we had to do a DNA test. I felt so humiliated. Then the results came back. They were both mine and I was over the moon.
“But Dina left me. She went off with Tom and abandoned the children. Three months later they were both killed in a light plane crash.”
Charlotte put her arms around the weeping Jack and rocked him like a baby. “I still cried for her and Tom. After all they had done I missed them! How could I?”
Charlotte whispered, “Because you’re a good man, Jack, that’s why.”
“When I met you… I wanted to tell you, but then I thought, I’ll wait to see if it’s serious. But three weeks later we were married, and it never seemed the right time. The kids live with Dina’s mother, but I’d love to have them with us…”
“Well, mister,” said Charlotte smiling. “You’re a lucky man because I also have a confession to make. You’re going to be a daddy again and that baby will need a big brother and sister!”
The next day Jack took Charlotte to meet Shaun and Mimi and the three of them got on like a house on fire. The kids moved in with them and when Jack and Charlotte’s baby was born, the family was complete.
What can we learn from this story?
Tell the truth because secrets are impossible to keep. Jack should have told Charlotte about his children, but she ended up finding out in the worse way.
Love is what makes a family, not biology — and Charlotte was more than willing to love Jack’s children as of they were their own.
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