I Walked in on My Husband’s Mistress and His Ex-Fiancé at a Luncheon — With My Mom


There are few photos more damning than your husband’s X-rated reply to a woman who isn’t his wife. This one, however, was just as explicit, with far more disconcerting implications than Hubby’s romp in the sheets with a paid call girl. The two profiles peering through the sun-stricken Mercedes windshield aren’t strangers to his bed, his business, or our marriage — but apparently, Hubby isn’t the only common target on their roster.

“Just saw her on Laguna Canyon Rd. That’s your husband’s partner, right?”

Flavia was right — and the picture said a million more words than her text, alone. The ponytail behind the steering wheel wasn’t just his “partner” — and the woman next to her wasn’t just an innocent friend or employee.

But how do you tell your husband his mistress and ex-fiancé are colluding, two-timing him, and possibly conspiring against his business with the one rival who’s been cockblocking his desperate fundraising attempts and poisoning the minds of the would-be backers? And how do you do so without letting slip that you’re keenly aware of his indiscretions — and keeping tabs on the women involved? Oh yeah: You don’t.

You also don’t say an accusatory word when you come face-to-face with both women at a holiday luncheon just a few hours later. Or do you?

. . .

Don’t judge an ex by their sweater…or do

Crossing the Poinsettia-lined bridge, a three-story tree boasting 700 ornaments and 7000 LED lights welcomed us into South Coast Plaza, where 15-foot-tall elves peered up through the artificial snow. This wasn’t your average ugly Christmas sweater party, and not just because the sweaters started at $395.

“They’re there!”

My mom squealed giddily, still reeling from the high of the real housewives’ (of Corona del Mar’s) invitation to their annual holiday luncheon. As we descended the elevator to the umbrella-shrouded banquet below, one familiar silhouette bounced along to the effervescent chatter. Little did I know, my mom’s impending run-in with Hubby’s mistress would be just the tip of this awkward iceberg.

As my mom’s nail salon acquaintance (and facilitator of the CDM gossip circle) introduced her to the woman sharing her duplex, she left out the neighbor’s other occupation, also known as being Hubby’s business partner-employee-mistress hybrid.

“Of course I know her — she saved Rufus!”

As far as my mom’s concerned, she’s just a good Samaritan who saved her runaway dog. Why ruin Christmas and correct her now? After 16 years of oblivion to her daughter’s infidelity-laden marriage, what’s another few weeks of blissful ignorance?

A new platinum blowout inserted herself at the table, slotting in to the right of the undercover mistress. In a county of a million peroxide-doused tresses, the least expected — and least welcome — of all sat unapologetically three feet away: Michelle, the ex-fiancé who just won’t disappear.

“I love your sweater! Where’d you get it? My granddaughter has the same one!”

She was right — Michelle’s flouncy, pastel rainbow of cashmere patchwork had Love Shack Fancy written all over it, and it was anything but forgettable.

“Thanks — it was a gift.”

Michelle didn’t have to avert her eyes the moment they met mine; the sweater said it all. It was a gift, all right — from my husband. The same gift I’d seen my mother-in-law hand off to him just before his pre-Thanksgiving “business trip”. How many cheating husbands does it take to screw a wife, an ex-fiancé, and a hired mistress all on the same holiday weekend? A lot fewer than it takes to screw in a lightbulb, that’s for sure.

Guilty? As charged. Remorseful? As if.

The “Star” of the show

As we approached the Italian-style duplex where I planned to deposit my mom post-luncheon, an unmistakable voice hollered from the bedroom balcony in obstinate, yet exasperated wails. Enter: My dad, sparring with my mom’s platonic male roommate, Craig, for all of Marigold Avenue to hear — once again…

“She can’t work in the garage! She’s an Aries sun with a Pisces moon. Do you know what that means?!”

Craig didn’t know what it meant — and neither did I, but I’m guessing we were all about to find out. Not before my mom could bolt upstairs to lunge at the second unwelcome intruder — and the one on her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s arm.

“…a lot of energy work, and I need to be in the right place. Spiritually and physically. This balcony, with the sun, the orientation — ”

Cue the mom-bush.

“Excuse me, who are you?”

My dad whirled towards the bedroom’s French doors to the balcony, quick to defend his Aries-sun-Pisces-moon-afflicted guest, who remained calm and detached from the ensuing drama (despite being steps away).

“Hi honey!” (to me) “This is Star, the one I’ve been telling you about!” (to me again, speaking at my mom, but ignoring her entirely)

At this point, my mom has gotten used to my dad’s post-retirement eccentricities (hence their separation); I guess we all have. Inviting a Bohemian-dressed hippie chick with an eco-friendly-looking bag of crystals on her shoulder was just par for the course. Inviting her to live with my mom and Craig due to the abrupt sale of the Laguna Beach property she’d been renting, however, was a bit far out — even for him.

“What is this, a joke? No. No damn way. Not in my house.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t really up to my mom — since the rear unit duplex isn’t her house; it’s my husband’s, and she’s merely a tenant, with little value other than her rental income. He’s threatened to evict her once before, and if she misses a month or becomes a problem, I have no illusions he won’t do it again.

In case you’re lost, let me slow it down and bring you up to speed:

“What don’t you get about energy?! The garage is bad energy! You can’t do good energy work with bad energy!”

In all my life — so the past 39 years knowing my dad — I’ve never heard him utter the words “Aries”, “Pisces”, or “energy” as much as I did in this 10-minute balcony altercation. But his astrologically-fueled evangelism wasn’t quite having the intended effect on Craig — the person expected to bankroll the entire operation.

“This will never pass as an ADU; it’s too small, and there’s no separate entrance.”

Craig — also exasperated — attempted to rationalize his way through my dad’s delusion and out of funding a $20k sunroom build. Unfortunately, it seems Star’s hypnosis has officially worked; my dad wouldn’t budge.

“Then do both! But she’s moving in, and she needs a sunroom — and so do I!”

For those who thought there was some limit of “one Jerry Springer moment per parental interaction”, you thought wrong. Brace yourself for bombshell number two:

My dad finally — for what may be the first time since my parents’ separation — acknowledged my mom with his next announcement:

She’s (Star’s) the one who’s going to manage the AirBnB.”

This time, I was the one completely lost:

“What AirBnB?”

My mom’s face remained frozen from the shock of my dad’s surprise unveiling, as he turned to me for his grand finale:

“Our house. Dana Point. We’re keeping it — going to turn it into a cash-flowing asset. Split 50/50, you know.”

When my dad said “cash-flowing asset”, he winked at Craig, as if he was in on the joke, too. Craig’s blank stare and failure to return or acknowledge the wink told me he wasn’t. Nor was it a “joke” at all.

“But, what about the $1.4M offer? That’s a good deal. You should take it.”

A good deal is an understatement; that’s nearly $100k over an already over-market asking price. And with two retired parents separating and a financial security blanket in hand, they most definitely should take it.

“I told [our realtor] to turn it down. And take it off the market. Services no longer necessary.”

Did my dad actually fire their — our — realtor (the one I’d set them up with) in order to turn their Dana Point house into his new AirBnB passion project business as the next leg of his retirement-life-crisis?

Before I could respond, my dad returned to the sunroom saga, nodding an eye-rolling head at Craig:

“And if he won’t fund the sunroom, I know someone who will.”

Who the heck was he talking about? What non-equity-holding third party would be willing to fund the sunroom for Star’s crystal readings and meditation parties?


Whoops — I said that out loud. My dad, however, seemed eager to oblige my question with an enthusiastic, almost boastful response:

“Your husband. My new business partner. I’m sure it’s the least he can do, considering what Star’s doing for him?”

He sounded absurd, but was 100% stone-cold serious. And confident. Defiant, even. And then, I remembered why:

Star’s part-time job at a farmers market put her as employee #1 for a local vegan cheese startup. Their eclectic — and wealthy — founders were throwing a pre-launch party for their new vegan meats. My husband had requested an invitation, in the hopes of bumping elbows with some untapped investors willing to bail him out of his latest financial quandary (and overlook the reputational risks associated with the recent VC scandal to hit headlines).

In other words, my dad believes for once he has the upper-hand: Star, the unassuming business connection Hubby so desperately needs. And he’s going to milk this leverage like the vegan cow behind all that startup’s PETA-friendly dairy substitutes.

This mile-high club flies private

There’s something calming about being home — even when you share that home with a serial cheater against whom you’re furtively planning a strategic high-asset divorce. Or maybe it’s just calming in contrast to the “Star-studded” chaos at the CDM duplex. Well, calming for a minute.

As I entered the great room, my bikini-clad daughter emerged with a suitcase. This may be Southern California, but December is December; i.e. NOT bikini weather. At all.

“Going somewhere?”

Before she could respond, my phone vibrated with an all-too-familiar text:


What is she (my mother-in-law, “Cruella”) doing here?

I buzzed her in — only to dodge the FaceTime admonishment I’ve been trained to expect for so much as a two-second delay.


You know that infuriating moment when your not-yet-16-year-old daughter nonchalantly tells you she’s going to Cabo — after you’ve stated your opposition and watched her grandmother nix the whole thing? This was that moment — but it gets worse.

In her initial pitch, her 25-year-old unofficial boyfriend (and the trust fund kid interning for my husband as a favor to his father) was her “adult chaperone”. Because that sounds appropriate.

Today, the pitch is different — and it’s no longer negotiable.


Grandma (Cruella) let herself in, monogrammed luggage and all.

“What are you doing here?”

I didn’t mean for that to come out bitchy…but, if it quacks like an evil mother-in-law, so freaking be it.

I am accompanying your daughter on her Christmas trip. Because her own mother couldn’t be bothered to.”

As an aside, “can’t be bothered to” and “don’t support my daughter’s not-so-legal age-gap romance” are two different things. Not to mention that I have two other kids to monitor, divorcing parents to mediate (and entertain), and a cheating soon-to-be-ex-husband asking for all the wrong favors.

My daughter cut in and pledged her allegiance to the highest bidder:

“And we’re flying private.”

I could feel my throat tighten and my eyebrows lift as I drew the one conclusion I couldn’t stand: Did my husband really rent a private plane for my daughter’s underage romantic getaway — and for her grandmother — and neglect to mention a word of it to me?

“Nice of your dad to tell me — ”

Just then, Cruella swooped in with a zinger of her own — and to rescue her son:

“He doesn’t need to; I got us the plane — and the suites. Hacienda del Mar. You’re welcome.”

No, actually, I’m not super welcome. In fact, no one’s welcome when you facilitate my daughter’s blatantly inappropriate (borderline illegal) relationship — and whatever else she’ll be doing down in Mexico.

“You’re funding the plane?”

I didn’t mean to play the financial trump card, but it’s a fair question. I mean, this just reeks of my husband — and since when does Cruella spend her own money flying private? Sounds like a swipe of Hubby’s card to me…

“A friend’s plane. Not that it’s your business — which it’s not.”

Her tight smile and icy eyes told me I was cut off at the bar as far as probing questions go. But still, I have to wonder: What friend?

Here are my guesses:

  • A: She’s lying; it’s a friend of my husband’s.
  • B: She’s lying, and Hubby is paying.
  • C: She’s not lying, but rather failing to mention that her entanglement with Michelle’s father (the only Orange County hedge fund manager I know she knows — and who has a private plane) has extended beyond a business acquaintanceship on her son’s behalf. If he’s lending her his private plane, is he also lending another warm body as a chaperone? Or for other things?

If a destination double-date with my underage daughter, her deadbeat trust fund boyfriend, my evil mother-in-law, and my husband’s ex-fiancé’s father doesn’t make your skin crawl, I don’t know what does.

Clearly, there’s only one type of calm: The one before the storm.

. . .

The canyons have eyes — and moles

A white-blonde mane and a pair of watermelon-sized jugs burst through the screen. Not now. Not in front of my daughter, Cruella…

The vibrating boobs in my hand reminded me I’d never responded to Flavia’s text from the morning. Oops. But not now — not here. I silenced the call.

Throughout the infidelity, scandals, and accelerating deterioration of my marriage, Flavia has been one of the few friends and confidants I’ve allowed behind the curtain. And she’s been a great ally, witness, and well-connected informant. But you know the problem with well-connected informants? They can turn on you at any time. I guess anyone can, really.

This post was previously published on Hello, Love.


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Photo credit: Confessions of a Trophy Wife


The post I Walked in on My Husband’s Mistress and His Ex-Fiancé at a Luncheon — With My Mom appeared first on The Good Men Project.

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