THREE YEARS LATER…
Betrayal in the Circle of Trust
Posted April 3
I didn’t want to hear this. Ever.
A baby. Not mine, but his.
This hurts more than the stab I took for him four years ago—but then again, that is physical pain.
This is emotional—and egoistical.
Listening to: Never Again by Kelly Clarkson
“Carlie, what are your comments regarding Alexa’s claim?”
“Have you talked to Kiefer about this already?”
“Do you think Kiefer is capable of doing this to you?”
What a welcome committee. The press, Carlie thought, as she faked a smile. She turned to her secretary, Faith, who returned her gaze with an apologetic look. Carlie stopped when she reached the door to her office, the press people still badgering her with questions.
“First of all, I have just arrived from a week-long fieldwork in Palawan, so I really don’t have an idea what you guys are talking about. So as of now, I’d say no comment. Leave your numbers with my secretary and I’d have her get back to you when I’ve got something to say,” Carlie replied calmly and dismissively, turning to enter the office. Faith entertained the media as they dictated their numbers, but Faith knew that the media just wouldn’t go away.
Carlie grabbed the newspapers as soon as she flopped down on her seat. She really couldn’t get it why the media would be in front of her office early in the morning.
Who the hell is Alexa?
Carlie scanned the papers one by one and found one article under a gossip column tagged “PBA MVP, his supposed out-of-town fling—with a son to boot?”
Alexa Santiago, who claims that she and Kiefer Costello, the reigning PBA Most Valuable Player, met in Palawan during one of the out-of-town games of the Brooke Gin Kings, went out to the media yesterday to expose her one-night stand with Costello.
She said that she would not have come out if not because of the child she bore. Santiago claims that Costello is the father of the child.
Two-time MVP Costello could not be reached for comment. He is currently out of the country playing for the National Team. His wife, Carlie Chua-Costello, on the other hand, is in Palawan (what a coincidence) for business as of press time.
Carlie couldn’t breathe.
Her husband of three years, boyfriend (or lover, however you want to put it) of five, sleeping with another woman on one of his out-of-town shindigs for his basketball team? Too much to handle after having a one-week fieldwork that will take the energy out of almost anyone (That includes 12-hour bus rides, hiking, and other strenuous activities just to get to the target areas.). Even more so is that she hasn’t really talked to her husband much in the past two months because of the rigorous National Team training—and to add her really busy schedule.
“Shit,” she muttered, as Faith knocked on the door, entering with a CD and a stack of paperwork and folders.
“Faith, what was this all about?” Carlie asked. Faith is not just a secretary to Carlie; she has become a friend in the two years that they’ve worked together.
Faith looked at her sullenly. “Yesterday, in The Buzz, a woman named Alexa came out and claimed that she and Kiefer had a one night stand and now she has a kid by him. She came out to ask for his financial help, I think, and because the kid’s already asking about his dad,” she said in an equally sullen voice.
“How old is the child?” Carlie asked, frowning.
Almost three years ago, Kiefer’s team indeed went to Palawan for an out-of-town game. She did a mental count and cussed inwardly.
Carlie placed her head in her hands, and then looked up. “What is that CD?”
“Alexa’s recorded interview.”
Carlie nodded. “Will you leave me alone for a moment?” she asked in a fairly calm voice, and Faith nodded quickly, turning to leave. Carlie grabbed the CD and inserted it into her already booted up laptop.
She couldn’t believe what she’s hearing.
Her tears fell.
Carlie stared into oblivion, wondering what in the world she had done wrong (again) to deserve this. She has been a good wife—never too demanding, just right, and had been understanding, loving, caring, and supportive. She has been a very good half-sister—in fact Lara and her half-brother Joseph has been hitting it up real nicely since she introduced them to each other a year ago. She guessed that would also qualify her as a good friend, since Lara has been one of the chosen few people whom she valued in her life. She had been a pretty nice ex-girlfriend to all her exes (she lost count), and don’t stalk them after they left her for a cheap-ass girl (oops—okay, maybe not so nice).
One thing she hasn’t really been good at is being a good daughter.
Well, it would have been pretty easier being good at that if she has good parents too—which she doesn’t.
God wouldn’t punish people just for being bad daughters, she thought, smiling bitterly.
She reached over and checked her itinerary for the day as laid out by Faith on her desk. Her entire day is free—well, technically that would be logical, since she just got back from a fieldwork and the bosses are expecting her to wrap up whatever there was from her trip. After thinking it over for thirty seconds, she beeped Faith and told her to enter her office.
“Yes?” she said cautiously, aware that Carlie had spent the past hour brooding over the Alexa situation and shedding tears over it. Carlie’s face was still flushed from crying, but overall she looked okay. “You have the media people’s numbers with you?” Carlie asked, and Faith nodded.
“At my desk. What do you want me to tell them?”
“Tell them that Kiefer and I will be talking about it as soon as he gets back, and that if Alexa is telling the truth, Kiefer will settle custody with her—if she wants to keep the kid and all that blah. Tweak it a bit. You know what I want them to get,” she said, her voice and face emotionless.
“That you and Kiefer will talk, and that Alexa will get what she wants,” Faith said simply. Carlie smiled smugly. “More or less, like that,” she admitted, shrugging. Faith nodded and was about to turn when she remembered something. “Will you talk to Kiefer?” she asked honestly, and Carlie shook her head.
“That’s just for the media’s benefit. I won’t be talking to him unless I really needed to,” Carlie admitted, and Faith, seemingly satisfied with her answer, turned to the door. At this point, Carlie was reaching for the telephone, contacting one person she knew would know—or would have access to—what she wanted.
Kristina’s voice came out as a shriek, and Carlie had to hold the telephone a few inches away from her face. “Kristina,” she greeted back when the person on the other line has calmed down.
“Oh my god! I’m sorry about you and Kiefer—well, the bit of news about Kiefer, I mean,” Kristina said, and Carlie sighed at her acquaintance’s tactlessness. “Well, what did you do when you heard about your husband cheating on you?” Carlie wanted to say, but she held her tongue. Rumor has it that Kristina’s husband, another pro-baller and National Team member Paolo Espina, had cheated on her. It created such a big media frenzy—Kristina was, after all, one of the most popular TV hosts, and a daughter of a powerful business tycoon—and Paolo is, well, like Kiefer, a professional basketball player and a product endorser.
How it ended?
Well, Kristina landed in the hospital due to too much “stress,” and after a while, they got back together, their second kid on the way.
Maybe that’s how you deal with cheating now. Rather than sue your husband or seek for annulment, you go and hit the sack, have a baby.
“I just heard about it,” Carlie said, breaking her train of thoughts. “Anyway, I need a favor.”
Kristina and Carlie met once in a party that was held for all professional basketball players and their family, and Kristina wasn’t shy in telling her that she liked Carlie. They became good acquaintances—for want of a better term—and have been sending presents to each other when the occasion calls for it.
Kristina also happens to be hosting The Buzz, and was there when Alexa was interviewed.
“What is it?” she asked, sounding very enthusiastic.
“I don’t know if you guys keep it, but do you have Alexa’s number around? I want to talk to her,” Carlie replied.
“Oh,” Kristina said, her enthusiasm deflating. “Are you sure that is a good idea?”
Carlie was sure about what she was thinking: Kristine never wanted to talk to the “other” woman personally, and their exchanges on television fueled the media frenzy. Kristina loved Paolo—evidently, since she is still with him, in Carlie’s opinion, and that she didn’t believe her loveable faithful husband is cheating on her.
“Yes. Better talk to her personally than through media,” Carlie quipped. “No offense, Kristina, but I really wanted to just talk to her face-to-face. And I want to see the kid,” she explained.
Kristina paused to think. “Wait,” she said after a few seconds, and then she covered the mouthpiece. She heard her talking to someone, but Carlie couldn’t discern who it was. Then Kristina got back on the line. “I’m doing this as a favor, Carlie. If you get into any trouble—” she began, but Carlie cut her off.
“I really just want to talk to her, Kristina,” she said patiently.
There was a sigh on the other line, and then Kristine breathed, “Fine.” She dictated Alexa’s mobile number.
“Thank you,” Carlie said, clutching the paper she wrote on it with much force it nearly tore apart. Kristina sighed once more, and then replied, “No problem. Call me when you need anything. Been there.”
So Paolo did cheat after all, Carlie thought, smiling to herself. At least just at that, my instincts were still right.
“Thank you for—”
“My lunch break ends in an hour. I only have thirty minutes to spend with you, so we better start,” Carlie cut in, sitting across the shocked Alexa. She quickly apologized, and Alexa smiled. As they sat, Carlie did a quick assessment of the woman who supposedly slept with her husband. Alexa is legitimately beautiful; she is someone who could be asked to join a model agency, or someone who could be scouted to advertise for a facial cleanser or a shampoo. In short, in the looks department, she is actually beautiful. Even more so is that she is a bit on the heavy side, rack-wise. And they were natural—or so it seems to Carlie. After all, she doesn’t spend all her time wondering if the woman seated across her has surgically-enhanced breasts or not.
“I’m sorry you had to find about Josh this way,” she began, and Carlie stayed silent. “I only came out because I needed to ask for Kiefer’s help in fending for the kid—”
“Then I just wish you had come up to Kiefer for it, not the media,” Carlie interrupted again. “Kiefer’s a basketball player, which is pretty obvious. All you had to do was approach someone from his team, or go to his team practices and all. Approach someone in the PBA for all I care if that’s how you can reach him. If he had really”—Carlie swallowed—“If he had really slept with you then he’d take the responsibility for whatever consequences that has.”
Alexa lowered her head, as if admitting her mistake.
“Kiefer will be arriving home from RP Team practice in a few hours. He doesn’t know anything, considering the whole team has been away for around two months. We haven’t talked about this,” Carlie continued. And I probably don’t want to talk about it ever, she added in her thoughts.
Alexa met her gaze. “I’m sorry,” she said slowly and softly, and Carlie could not help but smile bitterly.
“We can’t do anything about it now, can we? There’s the kid, and we have no way of erasing it, unlike any other—”
“Mistake,” Alexa filled in. “I knew it was wrong. Carlie, it was my doing. It was my fault. This would not have happened if I hadn’t flirted with him when I saw him and Jeff in the restaurant. I knew he has a wife,” she explained, but Carlie looked unconvinced, but she mentioned a name that set off something in her head. She put that on hold, and made a mental note to address that matter later.
“The problem here is that he gave in to that temptation, even if you admit it was your wrongdoing. He gave in when he knew he has a wife. Didn’t even bother using protection, for heaven’s sake. Then maybe we won’t be dealing with this much catastrophe as we are now,” Carlie countered. Alexa flared. “Catastrophe? You, woman, are talking about my son!”
The people at the coffee shop started to pay attention to them, and Alexa started to calm herself.
“And you, woman, are ruining my marriage. You, woman, are giving me a taste of what my father did to my mom,” Carlie said in a controlled voice. It was, however, so cold that Alexa wondered if voices could kill, she might have died on the spot already. Alexa could not come up with a sane enough retort so as not to make Carlie mad at Kiefer.
But she knew whatever it was, she’d still be hurt.
Alexa knew it.
“I want you to talk to Kiefer,” Carlie said after a while, shocking Alexa.
“Talk to Kiefer?” she choked, wide-eyed.
“Yes. Talk to him. He’ll be coming home, right? I want you—and the kid—to be there when he does,” Carlie said with conviction. “I’m doing overtime tonight, and maybe it’s the right time for you guys to talk.”
“Alexa,” Carlie said in a voice so cold it frightened her, “I don’t have time for this. If my marriage would just be blown to bits just by this, I want it to end now when it’s still early.”
“Can’t you accept—”
Carlie shook her head vehemently. “No. My dad cheated on my mom—or sort of like that—and he ended up loving my sibling from his other woman than he had loved me. I’m not going through that again.”
“Kiefer doesn’t love me.”
Carlie smiled sadly. “Yes, maybe he doesn’t. But he wants a kid—something I haven’t been able to give him in the three years we’ve been together as husband and wife.” And I probably never would, she added in her head.
Alexa wanted to comfort Carlie, but she knew she couldn’t—and she wouldn’t, if she has any sense of self-preservation.
“I’ll have Kiefer’s driver pick you up at your house in two hours, okay? He’ll bring you to our place, and then you guys talk,” Carlie said, standing up. Alexa wanted to stop her, but Carlie moved quickly, further away from the woman who might just cause the end of her marriage to Kiefer.
“Carlie? I’m home!” Kiefer said excitedly, entering their house. It was a two-storey, three-bedroom house, which they initially bought when they got married and when they were under the impression that Carlie was pregnant. The two extra rooms were meant for their children—however, Carlie got her period on her third month of waiting. The wait might have been easier if they just took a pregnancy test kit and found out through that, or if they had just gone to the doctor earlier—but Carlie didn’t have the guts to know if she is, indeed, pregnant.
Something about her irregular monthly period really screwed up her chances of getting pregnant. He can still remember the look on Carlie’s face when the doctor told her that her hormones are imbalanced, and that she might not even get pregnant. It was as if her world had fallen and betrayed her. Maybe if they… had been to the doctor earlier, then maybe they would have bought a less spacious house and opted for a cozier one that wouldn’t make this big a house lonely for two people.
Not that he was complaining—Carlie was enough for him. She is everything he wanted and more, and maybe they could carry on with just the two of them together.
The maid was the one that met him, helping him with his bags, greeting him with a meek, “Good evening, Sir.” He smiled at the maid, and asked her where Carlie is. She shook her head. “Ma’am Carlie’s still at the office, Sir,” she answered softly, and exited quietly.
Carlie knows I’m coming home today. Where is she? What’s wrong? Kiefer thought.
And he found out the answer when he reached the living room.
“Alexa,” he breathed, and she looked up, apprehension written all over her face. A little boy was cradled in her arms, fast asleep.
He was slightly amused at himself that he still remembered the woman’s name, considering he had wanted to forget about her and whatever had happened between them.
“Carlie told me to talk to you,” was her opening remark, and Kiefer sunk to his knees, sitting on the steps separating the living room from the dining room. The news made him weak.
“She knows,” he whispered, and he buried his face into his hands.
He met Alexa during one of their out-of-town games in Palawan. He and Jeff planned to eat out separate from their team, and they landed at one restaurant that served the best chicken inatô. Alexa was also dining there, and when Alexa and her friend Jill saw the two hotshot basketball players enter the restaurant, they offered to share tables with them. Both men deemed it safe—or so they thought.
Alexa flirted her way into Kiefer’s pants—Jeff managed to keep Jill away.
He was strong enough to resist the temptation, and Kiefer wasn’t.
Kiefer breathed deeply, gathering himself. He looked up at his one-night-stand, his face blank. “What are you doing here?” he asked in a strained voice. Alexa motioned to the child on her lap, and it was only then did Kiefer take a good look at the kid, who is a splitting image of him. There was no doubt in his mind that this child is his. He felt a surge of something warm in him, and he fought off a smile.
“What’s his name?”
“Mark Joshua,” Alexa said flatly. Kiefer stood up and walked towards her, kneeling before her and touching the kid’s face, softly so as not to wake him. “He’s carrying your surname?” asked Kiefer gruffly, and she shook her head. “Placed him under your surname after much pleading with the hospital staff. You weren’t there, so they thought I was kidding them that you are Josh’s father,” she explained, and Kiefer frowned.
Alexa frowned. “Why what?”
“Why did you want him to be placed under my name? Easier claim?” Kiefer snapped.
Her eyebrows raised, and she wanted to shout. “If that was my purpose, don’t you think I should have come forward sooner? When I was pregnant with your frigging child?” she spat, and Joshua stirred. Kiefer grunted, and called the maid, and told her to stay with Joshua while he and Alexa talked. He pulled her to the balcony.
“Why come out now, then?” Kiefer demanded as soon as they were out of the kid’s—and the maid’s earshot. Alexa breathed deeply, removing his grip on her. “I wanted a fresh start,” she said simply. “And I can’t do that if I am towing Joshua with me everywhere.”
Kiefer gaped at the woman before him. “I can’t believe I slept with you,” he said without even thinking. He had masked the disgust in his voice, but Alexa picked up on it. “Well, you did have a wonderful time, right?” she countered, vivid images of that night replaying in her head, and then in his. He shook his head, a smug look on his face.
“The kid needs a home. He needs caring and loving parents. He needs your money to live,” Alexa stated, and Kiefer sighed heavily. “And you’re here to ask for money,” he guessed, and she smirked.
“Better,” she said. “I’m here to give you your son, since your wife pointed out that you and her have been trying to make kids for the past three years.” There was a trace of bitchiness in her voice that Kiefer caught, but decided to ignore it. He knew, however, that she had a really nice point, no matter how bitter that might be.
“You talked to Carlie,” he said, more of a statement than a question, and Alexa nodded. “This afternoon. She sent me here to talk to you and to tell it to your very handsome face, mister,” she explained, still snappy. Kiefer rolled his eyes, asking himself again why he slept with this woman.
“Why are you leaving Joshua to me?”
“I told you, I wanted a fresh start.”
“I’m leaving for Canada in a month. Have a job waiting for me there. I have no family to leave Joshua to, since my parents seemingly disowned me when they found out I slept with a married man,” she said, sadness evident in her voice. She still has a heart after all, Kiefer thought. “So I’m leaving him to you. You are his father, no matter how we flip the world,” Alexa added.
“Can you just… give me a few days to absorb all of this?” Kiefer asked exasperatedly. “I just arrived, for heaven’s sake!”
“No matter what you do, Kiefer, I’ll leave the kid with you. But we can wait. After all, we’ve waited for two years. We can wait for a few days.”
And with that Alexa stomped off, getting Joshua from the maid and heading out, slamming the door behind her.
Kiefer groaned, absorbing whatever it was that had just happened.
“Carlie…” he whispered, not knowing whether or not he still has a wife to wait for.
His wife was on the other part of town, knocking frantically on a friend’s door. Cynthia opened, startled. “Carlie?” she said, a huge frown on her face. “What are you doing—”
“Jeff. I need to talk to Jeff,” Carlie said angrily. Cynthia held her off by placing her hands on her shoulders. “Carlie, calm down,” she said, but Carlie shook her head. “Jeff had just come home from RP training, and you know that—” Cynthia began to say.
“JEFF! Come down here!” she shouted over Cynthia’s words. He came running down the stairs, confused at what is happening. Carlie pushed past Cynthia, and cornered Jeff, pointing her forefinger on his chest repeatedly.
“YOU KNEW, JEFF. I TRUSTED YOU, AND YOU KNEW!” Carlie raged, and Jeff didn’t stop her from hitting him—he knew he deserved it. “Carlie, I—” he started, but she was shaking her head repeatedly.
“You were with him in Palawan, Jeff. You are best friends with my husband. You are my friend. One of the FEW people I trust. You knew. You knew,” she said, now weak. Her eyes started to well up, and tears started to fall from her eyes. “Jeff, I trusted you. You knew. You knew. You knew. You knew,” was all she said, and when Jeff deemed it safe, he pulled her into a hug, hushing her by patting her back. Carlie sobbed silently in his arms. Cynthia closed the door and pointed to the kitchen, and Jeff assumed she might be getting a glass of water for Carlie.
“Alexa flirted with him in the restaurant. I got taken away by Jill and we got separated. I managed to shrug Jill off, but I couldn’t find Kiefer anymore,” Jeff began to explain, his voice in a whisper. “When he came back pretty late, I figured out what might have happened. And I talked to him about it, but he told me it’s none of my business. That it was a one-time thing, and that it won’t ever happen again so there is no need to tell you. Carlie, I made him promise. I made him swear over his dad’s grave that he won’t do it again.”
“And that was the least you can do, to make him swear he won’t do it again,” Carlie repeated blandly.
“Carlie…” Jeff’s voice trailed. Cynthia came back with the water, and Jeff shook his head at her unspoken question. “I don’t have control over Kiefer’s actions, but the best thing I can do is to set him right. I threatened him that I would tell you—”
“It might have felt better if you had,” Carlie interjected scornfully. He sighed.
“Look, it happened during the time you guys got back together—” The glare from Cynthia told him that he had said the wrong words. Carlie pushed off from his hug. “Thanks Jeff,” she said in a controlled voice, looking at him, her face cold and hard. “It was nice knowing you.”
With those words, she turned and stalked off.