The first porch step seemed ten feet high. It was the first step on his way to deal his marriage a crushing blow, and he would do anything not to be in the spot he was in. Maybe the second step would be easier, because the first step was always the hardest.
It wasn't. He was just that much closer to seeing her face when he told her. The one time he'd messed up, a mere five minutes of his life, might destroy everything. It hadn't gone away like he'd prayed that it would, oh no. His mistake had shown up at his desk, facing him head-on. In five months there would be a child that was his, a child that was not his wife's. His wife was the love of his life, and he didn't know how he could look at her beautiful face and tell her. He wasn't sure he could step onto that third step.
But he did. He had no choice. The woman was determined. Doctor bills, child support, a father figure for her child. She wanted it all. And either he would tell his wife or she would. His choice. He couldn't imagine it coming from a stranger, that would kill her. So here he was. And the fourth and last step was looming in front of him.
He stepped up one last time. The door seemed huge as he came nearer. On the other side, he knew his wife was there to welcome him home. He'd always loved seeing her face light up when he came in the room. How amazing it was to have someone love you like that. And the worst part was, he loved her like that too. The guilt he'd felt after his betrayal ate away at him for a while, and then he took the coward's way out. Telling her would only hurt her. And it was a one-time deal. He'd certainly never do anything like that again. Never. Ever. He loved his wife, and from that day on he made sure she knew it.
He watched his own hand reach out for the doorknob as if it were a scene in an old Hitchcock movie. He couldn't do this. His heart was pounding and everything in him was aching with this terrible thing he'd brought on them. How could he have been so stupid? So careless with the best thing in his life? He wondered if he might have a heart attack before he could get the words out. His whole body seemed to be filled with a sharp, searing pain. It couldn't get any worse than this.
He pushed the door open and found out he was wrong. It could get worse. She'd heard him coming and was walking toward him, her beautiful smile lighting up the room, the room that looked nothing but dark to his eyes because of what was about to happen. He would be smothering that smile, and all the light would go from their lives for a while. Maybe forever. That sharp, searing pain was swelling, larger and larger, and he'd never known anything could hurt this bad.
She saw his face and her smile faltered, her eyes showed concern. For him. How could he do what he had to do? He closed the door behind him, desperately wishing there was some other way, any other way. But there wasn't. It was too late. He'd broken the most important promise he would ever make, and he'd hidden the truth from her. He was wishing for the heart attack now, anything to save her from feeling this horrible feeling. He looked into her eyes to soak up that last precious moment of innocence, took a deep breath, and told her.