What would we do for love? Lie, cheat, steal, kill? People have done all that and more, but Frank Jansen was sure he was doing the right thing when he betrayed his best friend’s secret and broke up his marriage.
It all started so innocently. Frank and Andy had been best friends since high school and Frank had been stunned to see his footloose friend start raving about a new girl he was dating, Carol.
Then Frank met Carol and he was even more baffled. Sure, Carol was pretty, but Andy had dated and dumped prettier girls. But as time went on and Frank got to know Carol better, he started to see what an extraordinary woman she was — and he started to envy Andy.
To his horror, Frank realized that he was falling in love with Carol. When he was near her he couldn’t stop himself from watching her, listening to her every word, her happy laugh.
Frank thought to himself that if Andy followed his usual pattern, he would soon be leaving Carol behind, and then he’d have his chance… But it didn’t quite work out that way.
Andy didn’t seem to be getting tired of Carol, who was completely wrong for him, Frank thought. Andy had always liked sassy bold girls, adventurous girls who flirted with other men, and with whom he constantly argued then made up.
Carol was nothing like that. She was serene, sweet, and loving. She spoke in a soft, gentle voice, and Andy would lean in to listen. As far as Frank could tell. Andy never argued with Carol, ever.
Andy had always complained that “good girls are boring” yet here he was, completely under the spell of the best girl Frank had ever met. Frank was understandably bitter, but he kept his own feelings hidden away.
Then, Andy stunned both Carol and Frank with a surprise proposal. Carol was ecstatic, and Frank was devastated. Nevertheless, he agreed to be Andy’s best man and stand beside him watching the radiant Carol walk down the aisle.
What no one knew was that what Frank most wanted in this world was to be the bridegroom, the man holding her as the bridal waltz played, the one who would get to spend the rest of his life with Carol.
That night Frank got very drunk, and vowed that he would forget Carol, and find himself someone new to love — someone who would appreciate him for who he was, not the shadow of the dynamic and exciting Andy.
As Andy’s best friend, Frank was being constantly invited over to their house for dinner, for barbecues, for family occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Every visit was torture for Frank, divided between the happiness of seeing Carol, and the agony of seeing her as Andy’s wife.
About eight months after the wedding, their high school held their 10-year-reunion and Frank and Andy attended together. Surrounded by his old friends who remembered him as the star quarterback, Andy reverted to his former persona as a smart-alec ladykiller.
Frank was shocked when he walked in on Andy having sex with his old girlfriend in the toilet. He couldn’t believe that any man lucky enough to be married to Carol would even look sideways at another woman let alone cheat on her.
On the drive back, Frank brought up the subject with the severely hungover Andy. He said: “Listen…I went to the bathroom…”
Jesus, Frank! Do we need to talk about your bladder? I have a mother of a headache!”
“I’m not talking about my bladder, buddy! I’m talking about what you’ve been doing with another part of your anatomy.” Frank answered.
Andy sank deeper into his car seat and mumbled. “Don’t know what you’re talking about…”
Frank pressed his lips together. “You don’t know what I’m talking about? You were doing it with Sharon Farrow in the can. You have a woman like Carol at home and you cheat with a sleazy piece like Sharon?”
Andy blustered: “Come on, man! It’s a class reunion! That’s what’s what a class reunion is all about — drink too much, squeeze a little meat…”
You don’t know what you’ve got, Andy! You don’t know what you are risking!”
Andy stared at Frank. “You sound like you’ve got a thing for Carol yourself!”
Frank flushed. “No! Of course not! I just think it’s time you start living up to your responsibility, and the vows you took. Grow up.!
Andy nodded. “Yeah…Maybe you’re right. I shouldn’t have done it. I felt pretty sleazy myself. I won’t be doing anything like that again, man, believe me.”
And as far as Frank could tell, Andy kept his word. But Frank couldn’t help seeing Andy in that bathroom every time he saw him with his sweet, devoted wife. The image wouldn’t go away, nor the idea that Carol didn’t know she had been cheated on.
Four years later, Andy and Carol hosted a dinner party for their closest friends and of course, Frank was invited. After the dinner, they all started playing a board game called “Deal Breaker” in which each player had to share their secret deal breaker in all kinds of situations.
Frank shivered when Carol drew a card that demanded she reveal her deal breaker as far as marriage was concerned. Carol laughed: “My deal breaker is cheating, of course. But…” She smiled and reached out to kiss Andy, “With this amazing man that’s not an issue!”
Frank couldn’t help a bitter remark from escaping his lips: “You don’t say!”
Frank shook his head. “I’m sorry man, it just slipped out. Carol thought it was a joke, that’s all.”
Andy wasn’t convinced. “You better hope so, Frank, you’d better pray!”
The next afternoon, Frank was surprised when his secretary told him there was a lady there to see him. It was Carol. Frank was stunned. What could Carol want?
Carol walked into Frank’s office with a smile, but he could tell that something was up. He welcomed her, smiling, and asked her to sit down. Carol shook her head. “Frank, would you mind if the two of us went out for a cup of coffee?”
“Of course not,” Frank replied and immediately told his secretary that he was taking the rest of the afternoon off. He took Carol to a quiet little place around the corner and waited nervously to hear what she had to say.
Carol pressed her palms together and raised her lovely eyes to Frank’s. “Frank, I want you to tell me the truth. Has Andy cheated on me?”
Frank was breathless. “Carol…Listen, Andy loves you, he’d never…”
“Please, Frank, don’t lie to me. You are the one person in the world I believe will always tell me the truth. Don’t lie to me now.”
“Carol, listen, Andy loves you. You know he does. He won’t look at another woman…”
You’re lying, Frank. I can read you like a book. I always felt something had changed after that high school reunion four years ago. You were there and I think you know what happened.”
Frank didn’t know what to do. He could deny it all, or he could tell the truth. he thought to himself: “She trusts me, I’m not making myself a liar for that cheater, Andy!”
And so he replied quietly: “Look Carol, that was four years ago, and I know he’s been true to you since then. It was one slip, that’s all. He drank too much, it was an old girlfriend…”
Carol nodded stiffly. “Yes, just as I imagined. Well, it’s better to know than to wonder about it for the rest of my life. Thank you, Frank.”
Please, Carol…It’s…I shouldn’t have told you. I was so angry at him. I love you, I couldn’t stand his cheating…”
“I know you do. I’ve always known. Don’t worry, Frank. I won’t leave him, not if he comes clean with me. I can’t live with lies.”
But Andy was still too much of a player at heart, and so when Carol brought up the subject of infidelity a few weeks later, he swore on the bible that he’d never cheated on her, and never would.
If he had confessed and admitted the truth, maybe Carol could have forgiven him. They could have worked through the hurt. But Carol knew, looking at Andy that she couldn’t trust him to tell her the truth no matter what.
Andy’s inability to own up to the truth cost him his marriage — but of course, he blamed Frank. During the heartbreaking divorce, Frank was there for Carol, as a loving and supportive friend.
Little by little, Carol came to love Frank just as much as he loved her and a year after her divorce they were married. Frank and Carol are getting ready to welcome their first child together, a little boy, and their happiness is complete.
Sometimes, just sometimes, Frank looks at his beautiful pregnant wife and wonders if his “slip of the tongue” at that dinner party wasn’t deliberate; if he didn’t win his happiness by betraying a friend.
Should Frank had lied to Carol, and saved his friend’s marriage — and probably lost her friendship and respect forever? Was his first loyalty to his friend or to the woman he loved?