As the last karaoke performer left the stage, the pub went silent.
“Becky Ricketts, where are you?” the DJ called out.
Nervously, I raised my hand.
I hadn’t signed up to sing? What was going on?
“Mark Smith would like to ask for your hand in marriage,” the host beamed.
My stomach flipped as I turned to see my boyfriend, Mark, poised on one knee beside the bar.
“Yes!” I cried, as the crowd erupted into loud cheers.
I’d only been with Mark for a few months, but I already knew he was the one.
We’d met on a night out and he’d come back to mine and never left.
He was great with my three boys from a previous relationship – Jake, nine, Harry, eight, and Ashton, three.
Setting a date for our big day the following summer, I started planning the perfect wedding.
And soon there was more exciting news...
“I’m pregnant!” I told Mark a few months later.
“That’s amazing!” he cried, hugging me. “I’ve always wanted a big family.”
I knew how much he wanted to be a dad. It was the icing on the cake.
Only, as the weeks passed, things with Mark were up and down.
Every so often we’d get into silly arguments over nothing – like what we should have for dinner or what to watch on TV.
Our fights were so trivial, but Mark would always storm off and not come back for hours, or even days.
He always relied on me for money, too.
One night we went to the pub, while my parents babysat.
“Shout me a beer, will you, love?” Mark asked. “I’m a bit short on cash.”
I ended up paying for his drinks all night. I also forked out for new clothes and cash to top up his phone.
“Money’s tight,” he’d always moan.
But he worked part-time as a tradie, so I couldn’t understand why he was so broke.
Two months later, we had another silly argument after Christmas.
Mark then stuffed his things into a bag.
“You’re overreacting,” I said.
But he was adamant he was leaving.
“I’m going to my brother’s,” he huffed, slamming the door.
I just let him get on with it.
And sure enough, a few days later, he was back home again, looking sheepish.
“Sorry,” he mumbled.
He went out to the backyard to play with the boys. It was as though nothing had happened.
Later that day, I almost tripped over Mark’s bag on the floor.
I bent over to start unpacking it when Mark yelled out.
“Don’t!” he cried. “I’ll do it.”
But the next day, the bag was still there.
Unzipping it, I started to pull out the clothes and noticed a Christmas card.
To Mark, it read. Lots of love, Zoey* and Bump xx
Snatching up the card, I flung it into Mark’s face.
“It’s nothing,” he replied, tucking it out of sight.
Determined to find out who this Zoey was, I went through Mark’s Facebook until I found a woman with the same name.
Why are you sending my boyfriend a card? I messaged.
What do you mean? came the reply.
I told her Mark’s name, but when I read the next reply, I felt sick to my stomach.
I’m carrying his baby and we’re getting married in August…
My heart hammered in my chest as I typed.
I’m pregnant too, and we’re getting married in July!
As we continued to message back and forth, each reply was like a dagger to my heart.
Zoey told me the date she got together with Mark. It was before he got together with me.
He’d then told her he’d landed a new job in another town to cover for the time he was with me and the boys.
Zoey saw Mark every single week – sometimes for a few hours, sometimes a few days.
I felt like an idiot.
He hasn’t been working, I told her. He’s been living with me and spending my money!
What’s more, when he’d told me he’d been working, he’d actually been with her.
No wonder he never had any cash.
Comparing dates with Zoey, I realised he’d been with her all the times we’d argued.
I was so angry.
He’d created all those silly fights as an excuse to go off and cheat!
Zoey was three months away from giving birth, while I still had seven to go.
She was due to marry him in eight weeks, just weeks after he was meant to be tying the knot with me.
Fuming, I confronted Mark.
“I’ve just been talking to Zoey!” I yelled.
His face went pale.
“It’s not how it seems!” he protested. “I love you.”
But I wasn’t having a bar of it.
“Just pack your bag and get out,” I ordered.
Once he’d gone, I scrolled through Zoey’s Facebook feed and saw photo after photo of the pair of them together.
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I cancelled the wedding and Zoey told me she’d done the same.
The next few weeks were tough.
I kept crying and my hormones were all over the place. It didn’t help that Mark wouldn’t leave me alone.
“Give me another chance,” he begged. “You’re the one I want.”
For the baby’s sake, I decided to give him a second chance.
Seven months later, Mark was by my side as our son, Kian, entered the world.I hoped our little boy’s arrival would mean we could put all the hurt behind us.
For two weeks, things were great. But then Mark sparked up another one of his pointless arguments.
And once again, he was gone.
I messaged Zoey, but she didn’t respond. She was angry I’d taken Mark back.
A month later, I got a message from her.
I’m pregnant again, she said. Mark came back after your son was born and told me you guys were through. He wanted to marry me.
Now he’d had TWO babies behind my back!
I’d had enough, there was no forgiving him this time.
“I’ll never trust you again!” I shouted as he left for good.
In time, I heard he’d met another woman, Jayne*, and that she was pregnant with twins.
They’ve split up now, too, and in a weird twist of fate, Jayne, Zoey and I get on really well.
The three of us are making sure our kids stay in touch with their half brothers and sisters.
It’s important they all know they have a family who care about them – even if their dad doesn’t.
Mark doesn’t deserve one woman, let alone two!