Desmond second guessed himself the entire ride to the half-way house. Most of his family and friends told him to be done with Taylor but here he was about to pick up his wife among the ruins of their wrecked and seemingly unsalvageable marriage.
They lost everything because of Taylor's addiction, fraud, embezzlement, and deceit. Their medical records computer software and internet business went bankrupt because of Taylor's criminal activity, tax fraud and tax evasion. Desmond was forced to sell their half million dollar house before the bank foreclosed, using some of that money to pay for Taylor's legal fees and rehab expenses. Desmond had no choice but to pull their twenty year old daughter Amy out of her expensive college and ask that she attend a junior college at least temporarily. Enraged, angry, bitter and resentful, Amy quit school, moved in with her boyfriend, and refused to have anything to do with her parents.
Desmond was driving a ten year old Honda – gone were the two late model forty thousand dollar cars he and Taylor drove. He was working a forty-thousand dollar a year job as a tech geek at Hillsboro Plastics – a mercy job given to him by an old college pal. At their peak, Desmond and Taylor were worth more than a million dollars a year, now at forty-two Desmond was starting over.
Desmond had no idea why he journeyed to the halfway house. Perhaps it was because Taylor had nowhere else to go having burned so many bridges during her years of destructive behavior. He remembered the beautiful, energetic, intelligent, and talented college coed he fell in love with and he wondered if that person still existed after so many years of addiction and betrayal.
Desmond was the software designer and managerial scholar but it was Taylor's business savvy, public relations acumen and sales talent that allowed the business to take off on a national scale and grow in leaps and bounds during its initial start-up stages. The couple made more money than they could have imagined and they were living the good life until it all came crashing down around them in a stunningly monumental collapse due to Taylor's maleficence.
Friends abandoned them, business partners deserted them, creditors stalked them, and family members hid in shame. There was no way Desmond and Taylor Roberts could stay in the community where they once lived and conducted business, forcing more than fifty local workers to lose their jobs when the business went under.
Thank God for the decency of Desmond's former college pal Terry O'Leary who was willing to give his former roommate an opportunity to start over. Desmond never heard of Hillsboro before Terry called him of the blue when he was living at his mother's house trying to figure out what in the hell he was supposed to do with his life after his sudden and steep downfall.
Taylor spent eleven months in jail and then went to Rehab for the umpteenth time, this time staying for nearly six months before moving into a half-way house on Cape Cod for another half a year. Desmond hadn't visited his wife in jail at all, too angry and resentful to face her after all the hurt, harm, and destruction she had caused.
A therapist convinced Desmond to see his wife when she was in rehab – for humanitarian reasons and to try to figure out if there was anything left between them. Desmond only visited her twice at the half way house but when she called a week earlier and said she was being released, Desmond found himself numbed, stunned, and speechless. Was he ready to have Taylor come "home" (to a completely different "home" in a different town and different house with a completely different lifestyle)?
Taylor sobbed on the phone knowing all the damage she had caused and she asked if Desmond would be willing to give her the benefit of the doubt – at least for a while – and let her stay with him.
And that's why he was pulling into the driveway of the well maintained large Victorian house on the cape with a wrap-around porch and large rectangular windows. Desmond had only seen Taylor a hand full of times in the past two and a half years and it had been more than three years since they had been together as man and wife.
Desmond had let go of the anger and pain but mostly now he felt…nothing. It was almost as if he had never known the woman and that their past had been erased from reality. Taylor was a stranger to him as he stood in the driveway and watched her coming down the front steps with a couple of luggage bags in her hands and one over her shoulder, walking with an older woman (a counselor, most likely) and talking quietly.
Desmond noticed right away that Taylor had gained weight from eating well these past many months (she looked malnourished when she first went to jail). Gone were her designer wardrobe and fancy jewelry and two hundred dollar hairstyle. She was wearing Levi jeans, a red 'I Love Cape Cod' tee shirt and sandals. Her fingernails and toenails were nude – she used to have more polish colors than Desmond could count. Her hair was simply brushed and styled, shorter than in the past but still blonde (although lighter), down to her shoulders now.
Desmond didn't say anything as he took two of the bags from Taylor and piled them into the trunk of the older car while Taylor said her final goodbyes to her counselor (Mary, Desmond believed he heard Taylor call her).
Still saying nothing, Desmond climbed into the car and waited for his passenger to finish the farewell. After a few minutes, Taylor slipped into the front seat and placed her third bag between her feet on the floor. She waved to Mary as Desmond put the car into gear and drove away.
It took nearly forty-five minutes to get off the cape and neither of them said a word. Taylor mostly looked out the window at the scenery while Desmond concentrated on his driving. His passenger would occasionally sigh or rub her hand through her hair or toss him a look but Desmond had nothing to say to her and she didn't blame him.
Taylor spent the last two years talking about her life – to jail counselors, to rehab therapists and psychologists, and to half-way house recovery case managers. There was no reason to repeat all of that crap to Desmond especially when she knew he didn't want to hear any of her born again touchy feely mumbo-jumbo recovery lingo and slogans and philosophies. He wanted to know where his money went and why she stole from him and the company to support her addictions and nasty habits.
Taylor had symbolically cut off Desmond's sympathetic ear years ago and his bullshit meter was quite good at detecting her lies and deceit. She had lied to his face until they were both blue in the face and there was nothing Taylor could say to Desmond now that would change any of that.
Taylor knew that Desmond once loved her but then he hated her with all his might and now who knows what he was feeling or thinking. She wouldn't blame him if he pulled the car over and kicked her out, unable to trust her let alone look at her. How could he like her again when she didn't even like herself for all the horrible things she had done? She had forgiven herself, of course – one of the first tenants of a successful recovery – but she didn't expect Desmond to forgive her.
It was a long quiet ride to Hillsboro but Taylor didn't necessarily mind the silence. She deserved her husband's scorn, avoidance, and distrust after all the heartache and devastation she caused in so many people's lives although it saddened her to realize that the man she had known and loved for more than twenty-two years had nothing to say to her.
"This is Hillsboro."
Those were the first words Desmond uttered in nearly three hours. They crossed a large bridge over a river that emptied onto the main street of an idyllic small storybook New England town.
"This is where we live now?" Taylor asked, stumbling over the word 'we'.
"Yes," Desmond confirmed and that was the end of the conversation.
Taylor glanced around as they drove down the main street – a diner, a bookstore, a town common, a gas station. Picturesque and quaint, a change of pace from the modern suburb community they had lived in for so long. Desmond turned the car off a couple of side streets and then up a hilly street that ended in the wide parking lot of a brick church but then Desmond drove down a small right away street behind the Rectory and pulled into the driveway of the only house on the small lane. It was a white stoned house built into the side of a hill with a breathtaking view of the neighborhoods below, including a power canal, the river, and the mountains beyond.
"This is our house?" Taylor asked when Desmond turned the car off.
"A retired priest built it in the 1950s," Desmond explained. "He willed it to his housekeeper and her daughter. The daughter just died at 93 a few months ago. I managed to land it for a pretty good price in an estate sale."
"As if I don't already have enough guilt!?" Taylor groaned as she climbed out of the car. "Now I as a lapsed Catholic have to live in a dead priest's house?"
Desmond ignored her complaint as he went to the trunk of the car to get Taylor's luggage.