I WORE MANY hats trying to keep our household in order through tough economic times. I spent my evenings presenting kitchen shows and my days parenting. Fred had lost his job with the design/build firm that had housed us after the fire and now helped me with Pampered Chef bookwork when he wasn’t looking for employment as an architectural intern. He even bravely performed a couple of kitchen shows. I got up early to do the laundry and prepare food for the day. I hung wet clothes indoors to dry through the winter. Our little house steamed and sweated. As I sorted whites from colors one morning, I lifted an undergarment I didn’t recognize from the pile. The pink lace edging triggered a gag reflex when I noticed the pantie’s size. It was clearly not mine. I’d often suppressed a fear of discovering some other woman in our relationship, but I never would have guessed that I would meet her this way. I held the garment at arms length and flipped it with a finger into the washing machine.

I looked down and saw a bra that matched the pantie. What on earth did he put in that? Socks? I didn’t wear a bra myself. My mother had once pointed out that if you can put a bra on backward and get the same support, you’re likely better off without it. I couldn’t imagine wearing one without a need to. Fred was just not my kind of woman.

A leg covered in navy stockings stepped through the threshold on a moderately heeled shoe. What legs! I scanned upward to a tight, round bottom clad in a business-length short skirt topped with a blue-striped sweater. Dang. She looked cute from behind. I hid in plain sight with my hands on her bra. She didn’t see me but stepped brightly across the kitchen to refill her coffee cup. Then she turned and the goatee beard caused some- thing inside me to fall.

“Oh! I’m sorry,” said my husband, crossing his arms over his chest. The spell had been broken. My eyes fell and then worked their way slowly upward again. Fred did have nice legs.

“I didn’t realize you were up,” he said. “I usually change my clothes before I come inside, even for coffee. I didn’t mean to upset you.”

He reached a hand tentatively out as if to embrace me, and then dropped it and drew back.

“I’ll be more careful next time,” he said.

I moved my leaden feet one after another to cross the room. I reached out and wrapped my arms around him. What in the world was happening to us? I cried into his hard, pokey bust. I told him it was okay. I handed him his bra.

“I’d rather you did your own laundry,” I said.