Melanie and Maxwell are falling in love. Maxwell is a divorced father of 2 in his early forties. He caught his wife cheating red handed and that ended their 10 year marriage. He is a great dad and he gets to see his kids every other weekend. He met Melanie at a ball game. He was there to watch his kids play soccer, and Melanie was there to watch hers. Melanie is married, but her husband wasn’t with her that night. They are in what you would call ‘a functional relationship that is in a plateau’. They don’t have any major issues that most couple struggle with, in fact many couples envy them. They occasionally have sex once in a month or twice if she is lucky or if there’s something going on like her birthday or an anniversary. She is the one who has to initiate because he is always busy and is too tired to try something new.

This new pair got talking while they were watching the game, and they hit it off right away. Conversation flowed naturally with no inhibitions. After seeing each other at a few more games, Melanie and Maxwell started planning how they could spend more time together away from the kids. Maxwell is an African American while Melanie is a Caucasian in her mid thirties.

They’re falling in love, but there is so much that doesn’t sit well with both of them because Maxwell is divorced, but he doesn’t really believe in going separate ways when you hit a rough patch in marriage. He is a firm adherent of ’till death do us part’, he believes in fighting for your union. So he read books, he talked to his boys, he talked to his wife, he forgave his wife and was willing to work on their marriage but to no avail. He suggested counselling but she was nonchalant about it and she kept going back and forth on the infidelity train.

The last straw on the camel’s back landed when she moved out of the house to go and live with her new beau and left him hanging with a note saying, “It’s over, I’m sorry for hurting you. I wish you a happy life. You are too good for me”. Maxwell was heartbroken, he took his kids to live with his mother for sometime as he tried to come to terms with what was going on. He locked himself in his house for a whole 2 weeks to ponder over the disintegration of his marriage. He cried like a baby and wept like a mourner. He couldn’t believe that it was over.

He had been patient with his wife Tafiah, he had tried to ‘change’ for her, he listened when she complained that he wasn’t, he tried to be more available and accommodating, he became a present father, he adopted her love language and tried so hard to please her but that wasn’t enough to keep her in the nest. Tafiah wanted a new thrill, a new excitement and she was determined to get it. After all her girlfriends were all cheating on their hubbies and non of the men had a clue. She didn’t care, she had disconnected from her man.

Maxwell considered himself a decent man with strong morals who would never steal someone else’s wife and break up their marriage. He wasn’t a marital thief, but how can he let go of Melanie? She makes him feel so alive. She was kind and tender hearted and he could tell that she wasn’t acting. Even when she wasn’t happy about something, she had a way of bringing it out without robbing him off his masculinity. She was full of respect and courtesy was her first and last name.

Melanie’s misgivings are even more serious than Maxwell’s. She’s in love with Maxwell, she keeps thinking about him the whole day. He comes out as a focused guy full of intellect and humour. She normally feels challenged and refreshed after spending time with him. He is not pushy or anything close to that. His confidence and his gait just makes her heart sputter. She is seriously into this guy but she also cares about her family. She adores her three kids, and she also has at least some feeling left for her bland husband.

She is in a deep quandary because, no matter how much Melanie cares about her family, she’s never felt about anyone the way she feels about Maxwell. How can she possibly stop seeing him? Doesn’t she have a right to be happy?

So far none of them has spoken about these obvious feelings to each other. They have tried to maintain decency in their talk, emails and text messages. There are times Melanie wishes that Max would just grab her and hold her tight in his arms because she aches to get disappear in his chest and just feel the sound of his heartbeat reassure her….and then there are times that Max would want to hold Mel by the waist and plant a soft kiss on her lips or at least her forehead but then he knows that he will have crossed the line…

Well Valentine’s day is almost here and both of them are silently wondering how this is going to play out….their emotions are simmering in a pot of meandering affections that are laced with guilt, confusion and anticipation…

The time is ticking and the butterflies are becoming real every other day. Both of them wanted to talk about it, but neither of them had the guts. They could sense the atmospheric twirl that enveloped them anytime they were around each other. Hours spent talking to each other seemed to fizzle out in a matter of short moments and they had to keep on planning and adjusting their schedules in order to try and see each other.

“What’s her name?”
“What….her name….who are you talking about?”
“What’s her name sonny, you know what I mean?”, asked Maxwell’s mother during the Sunday night dinner at her house. She had noticed a shift in his demeanour and so she decided to confront him.
“I don’t understand what you mean mum”, replied Max
“No matter how old you get, you will still be my baby, I know you. My maternal instincts are sharp sonny I know you have met someone. Look, I used to beg you to bring the boys here, but for the last one and a half months, they spend more days here than at your place. Whenever you come, we hardly talk, you are either on phone talking outside or busy texting and smiling with your lady friend. Your mood has changed, you are no longer sullen and yes, you have put on some weight.”

Maxwell, touched his stomach and opened his mouth to say something but all that came out was a generous belch resulting from the sumptuous meal that mama had prepared. He couldn’t believe that mama had read him like a book and he knew what was coming…
“Tell me,” she started as she edged closer with a grin, “Is she pretty?”
“Mum it’s actually getting late and I have an early….”
“Come on, come on Max, indulge me, I know you have been lonely ever since Tafia left and I know you are guarded, but you can ….”
“Mum…”, Max interjected as he stood up to leave, “You have cooked a great meal and I have really enjoyed myself. Now tomorrow I have got an early start and…”
“…and you will tell me about her…?”, she said with a cheeky smile.
“No, mum I’m not ready to say anything”
“Why baby?”
“Not today”
“Okay, just her name?”
“I love you Ma”, he walked over and kissed her on the forehead and picked his sleepy boys and then proceeded to go home. He kept wondering how he got himself in this place. “I’m a divorced father who is contemplating having an affair with a married woman. Hmmmh….this wasn’t right, but then how could something that was sooo wrong on all fronts feel so right? Oh and I’m a Christian, what does God think about this whole mix..?? ADULTERY!! Oh wait, that’s adultery…but we haven’t slept with each other”
“But you want to do it”, he slammed on the breaks when he heard that voice. He was sure that he was the only one awake in the car. He looked at the rear view mirror and his boys were fast asleep and there was no one in the passenger’s seat. His heart started beating fast and it occurred to him that in his head, he had already crossed the threshold, he was on the other side. He desired Melanie.
“No, I don’t want to sleep with her”, he thought aloud
“Yes, you do”, the voice seemed to reply in his mind
“But we haven’t even hugged or kissed…”
“Matter of fact, I haven’t even told her how I truly feel about her”
“Yes, but then why do you have to take extra measures to have secret meetings and lunch dates, just for the two of you?”
“Why do you wake up and the first thing before you pray or read the word is to check your inbox and to see if she has written to you?”
More silence.
He hadn’t even noticed that his inbox had taken the place of his quiet time and his devotions. The only times when he read the bible was in church and even then his notebook was full of sketches of Melanie instead of sermon notes. He was deep into her and he could tell that she also liked him a lot and he didn’t know how to handle the situation because she was already married to someone else. Well, she rarely talked about her husband, so he couldn’t tell if he was a bad person or not and maybe it wa better this way…

In the meantime, Melanie was having her own struggles. She wasn’t a Christian, but she believed in God. She had met Borris, her husband in college when they were in their final year. He was a nerd with a firm belief in God, but what struck her about him is his ability to focus on something and pursue it relentlessly. He was unlike any other hot guy she had dated who just wanted to party and have a good time but no substance at the end of the day. She figured out that Borris would give her a sense of stability to make up for what he lacked on charm, spontaneity and random sparks. With time she grew to like him a lot and she convinced herself that this strong liking was love.

He had tried to talk to her about Christ, she listened without but didn’t really see the need for getting saved because she wasn’t a ‘bad person’ by her own standards. She was still a virgin and had only kissed two guys out of the several guys she had dated since high school. She knew a few bible stories and went to church once in a while. So when Borris insisted that he wanted a church wedding, she didn’t object it.

In their first year before the kids came, they went to church every Sunday. There are days she enjoyed the singing and maybe the sermon and there are days she dozed off when the pastor was busy rumbling on the pulpit. When the kids trickled in, the dynamics changed and she started missing out more often until she just got bored altogether. Borris on the other hand was not a bully and he didn’t want to push her into this church thing. He hoped and prayed that she would come around to this lifestyle and maybe even give her life to Christ. On his part, he wanted to be a good provider and so he buried himself in his work and forgot about her, well he didn’t really forget, he just focused on his work and made sure that Melanie had everything that she needed; she didn’t have to work unless she chose to.

Melanie had become accustomed to the humdrum of her predictable lifestyle. She was like a working cassette on replay mode every single day. She thought well, “this must be married life and I signed up for it, so I might as well live through it”. So that was her life until she met this tall handsome 6’2 guy who had a deep baritone and the most disarming smile that she had ever seen. She had never dated or been attracted to a black guy and so this was new territory. Maxwell was a masculine from another planet. He had a wealth of knowledge and his worldview of many things really challenged her and opened her up to a new dimension that she had never seen before.

She noticed that he was deliberately cautious when around her, he was respectful and appropriate at all times. She could tell that he wasn’t acting it out to get her, this was his nature. Even when they started spending more time together, he never even once reached out across the table to hold her hand. He just made her feel comfortable and ohhhh she enjoyed his company. They were on phone the whole day either texting or chatting and she wanted him, she wanted him badly…she wanted him to be her man, but then there was Borris, the boring one….she needed to talk about it.

“Gurl, you’s glowing look at you”, began Casey
“Stop it gurlfriend”, Melanie brushed it aside
“C’mon tell me what’s gotten into you, your dressing has changed, your skin looks good, what regimen are you using?”
“Nothing….Ah…I mean, I haven’t changed a thing. I still use the same organic herbal stuff you recommended to me.”
“Ahaaa, so what’s new tell me”
“Gurl, you never stutter, so this must be good”, she inched closer
“Are you pregnant?”
“Noooo, nooo way…” She said as she sipped her smoothie
“Well, then tell me….”
“What…are you….No…are you falling in love with …..another man….????”, Casey asked
“Oh gurl, I hate you….I hate you so much”
“You can read me? I’m I that obvious?”, said Melanie
“So, I’m right?”
Melanie nodded in the affirmative
“I need some salad, this is going to be good”
“Don’t make fun of it I’m in turmoil”
“So, tell me, is Borris cheating on you?”
“No, he is not. I wish he was but he is not and even if he wanted to, he doesn’t have the time”
“Then how did you get here?”
“I keep asking myself that question and honestly I don’t have an answer to that question. I never knew that I was missing something, well, missing out on a lot until Maxwell walked into my life”
“Wooh, hold on it, you are moving too fast. He already has a name and you make it sound so casual, that he just walked into your life? Details Mel”
“Well, our life has been normal, call it mundane filled with a lot of routine and I think I have done it for so long and gotten used to it till it became a part of me. So about two months ago my kids joined a soccer club in our county. Borris only took us to the first game and ever since, he has been too busy with his work projects. So I’m all alone with them. So in one of these evenings, there is a guy who sat next to me. He is African American, with well defined curves and we just started talking about the game and our kids. When he was leaving, I noticed that it was just him and his boys…”
“You just…noticed…huh? Out of all the parents there, your eyes strayed in his general direction and you happened to notice, right?”, she winked with a cynical smile
“Listen, Casey….I’m the one talking”
“I’m just playing with you”
“So the next time I was there I noticed that he wasn’t around and I pushed him out of my head and focussed on the game and after about 15 minutes, I saw his boys running into the field. I instinctively turned behind and I kid you not, my heart leaped 100 times. I saw him seated a few rows behind me smiling with some cool dark shades and I motioned him to come and sit next to me and that is how it started”
“Wooh, I can feel his energy right here, this is the second time you are meeting him and you really want him to sit next to you?”
“Well, yeah. I didn’t even realize it at the time, but then we started talking and at every soccer game we would seat together and just talk. You know rich,funny and fulfilling conversation”
“I’m waiting to hear about his wife”
“Shut up! I was coming to that. Well, he is divorced, it’s been a year now and his ex wife has never shown up in any of those games, not even once”
“Oh, like the defensive stance you have taken now, you really like this guy?”
“Now, we know that we like each other but none of us has said a thing. We go for drives and lunch dates but we have never done anything at all”
“Your kidding!?”
“No, I’m not”
“I’m serious”
“You have been with this guy for all this while and he has never made a move towards you?”
“Nope, he is very civil, he is a gentleman and he is…”
“No he is not gay”
“How can you be sure?”
“Well, he would have lost interest in me”
“Hmmmm, debatable?”
“I was going to say that maybe the only reason as to why he has been holding back is because of his beliefs”
“What do you mean?”
“His faith”
“I don’t get it”
“Okay, he is a devout Christian. So I think, he doesn’t want to do the wrong thing, but then….”
“Well, if he is a Christian, then he should know that spending a lot of time with someone’s wife is being very suggestive, it is akin to knocking on the doors of infidelity and if you are right about the way you two feel about each other, then it’s just but a matter of time before you have relations.”
“So let me get this straight, Melanie, you are telling me that you have been with this nice hunk, you spend a lot of alone time together and he has never even kissed you?”
“Not even a hug, not a peck, okay I wish he would have…”, those words sneaked out of Mel’s mouth and she felt embarrassed and they both laughed about it.
“Don’t worry gurlfriend, I’m here for you and your story is safe with me.
“You, don’t understand, I think about this guy every moment of the day, I want to talk to him, I want to be with him, I consult him on almost everything. I want him to hold me, I want him to cuddle with me and protect me…I want to go back to that naive 18 year old girl in college and meet with him afresh so that he can rewrite my story again…I want to be with Maxwell, but then I have my 3 kids who love their dad.Borris on the other hand, is not a bad person. He is a great provider and I know that he works hard for us….”, she didn’t finish her sentence.
“But….”, Casey tried to prompt her
“I don’t Casey, I don’t know what to do. I have a good family, but then I’m falling in love with this studmuffin. Please help me”
“Well, I don’t know what to say, Mel”
“To make matters worse, Valentines is just 4 days away and I’m getting apprehensive. I’m not sure if I should expect anything from Max or should I just …..”
“Well, here is what I think you should do…..”