The second I had let my mother into my secret, I had regretted it.
‘Five? Are you serious? Five? I always thought there was something shifty about him. Didn’t you guess he’d been married before?’
I struggled to find the words to explain the odd series of events that revealed my fiancée to have been a serial bigamist.
‘We had a sort of agreement not to discuss our previous relationships. When we went to see the registrar, Geoff had all the correct documents and his answers to her questions seemed genuine.’
‘No wonder, he’d had enough practice at it.’ Contempt and sarcasm sullied the air. ‘I’m surprised he didn’t have a loyalty account there. I still don’t understand how he got away with it so many times and how you didn’t have any suspicions, after all, you’d been together for quite a while. How long had it been?’
‘It would be coming up for a year next month.’
‘So come on, how did you find out?’
The now so-familiar scenes played over in my mind, like an Eastenders episode. The elegant blonde taking my arm at the funeral; her passing me the letter before melting back into the melee of mourners; me shoving it into my handbag. thinking it to be a condolence card. I had remained in comfortable ignorance, immersing myself in grief, until I had come across it a couple of days later.
The majority of the letter’s content was now a blur, but one paragraph would not clear from my mind’s screen,
‘I’d had my suspicions that there was someone else and things had been a bit rocky between us for a while. There were more business trips than usual and when he was home, he seemed distracted. I dug around in his papers and to my disgust found evidence he’d been married before. He’d never told me that. As it turned out, he’d been married 4 times before and as far as I could see, there were no divorce papers. So, you see, it seems, when he got bored, he just got into the habit of replacing one wife with another. Usually after a couple of years and each one of us younger, of course. It was only when I read the obituary in the local paper, I realised he’d been up to his old tricks again. I’m just livid he won’t get his comeuppance’
I shuddered, attempting to push the memory into my mind’s furthest recesses. It had all seemed so implausible I had come to the convenient conclusion the blonde must be some crank. Only yesterday’s visit from the detective proved she was genuine.
‘Well, you’re not the only one. Duping gullible women seems to have been his chosen career path.’
His words did nothing to alleviate my guilt and humiliation.
I was still debating how much more of the sordid story to share, and sordid it was certainly was, when my mother’s accustomed sensitivity and empathy sliced into my thoughts.
‘Oh well, every cloud has a silver lining. At least it’s not too late to cancel the reception and get the deposit back.’