Margie found Tara outside the hospital. She sat on a half-wall, amongst doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.
“Hey.” Margie sat next to her daughter, squeezing next to an orderly hitting on two nurses.
Tara rolled her eyes.
“I hope that eye roll is a medical condition and not an annoyance,” Margie said.
“I’m sorry.” Tara squeezed her hand. “It wasn’t meant for you. My eyes are spinning in my head. I can’t believe how stupid I am.”
“You’re not stupid. He fooled us all.” Margie rubbed Tara’s back. “I have a few theories.”
“Let me guess your first theory, Tom is cheating on me?” Tara said. “It’s on the top of my list of reasons why Tom lied to me these past three years.”
“I will admit it was the first thing that popped into my head. Then Brad told Charlotte and me that Tom has a shrine of you and Lilly in his office. He says Tom is a devoted husband and father.”
Tara rolled her eyes once more. “He has a peculiar way of showing it.”
“How well do you know Brad Langston?”
Tara shrugged. “Tom speaks highly of Brad.”
“Could Tom and Brad have had a falling out? Maybe Brad is seeking revenge?”
Tara shook her head. “Brad’s family owns the business. He could fire Tom.”
“Hmm.” Margie tapped her finger against her chin.
“What else do you have?”
“Any chance Tom received a dishonorable discharge and felt ashamed to tell you?”
Tara thought about this.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be a dishonorable discharge,” Margie added. “Maybe his deployment to Iraq affected him to the point he could no longer do his job well.”
“That doesn’t explain why he lives in Pennsylvania.”
“I’ve never known Tom to admit failure.” Margie said. “He’s always had a rough exterior.”
“It’s not rational. We have a hard time making ends meet. Why would he willingly pay two landlords?”
The thought that Tom might have suffered a mental breakdown crossed her mind. It would explain the shift she felt in their marriage over the last few years.
She recalled an incident during a vacation, she, Tom and Lilly took to Florida a couple of years earlier. They were out to dinner celebrating Lilly’s third birthday when Dave, a soldier in Tom’s platoon, stopped by their table. He made a fuss over Lilly and then congratulated Tara and Tom on working out their marital problems.
At first the comment angered Tara. It was no secret that Tom was angry that they had yet to find military housing. The thought of him discussing her departure from Texas with the other soldiers infuriated her. Then Dave referred to their fertility problems and the effect it can have on a marriage. At that...