Standing at the buffet at my work mid-winter Christmas party, I spooned a heap of potato salad onto my paper plate.
"God, this do is boring," I sighed to my friend, Helen.
"The best bit so far is the stodgy salad."
"I'm sure it will liven up," Helen replied, laughing. "You just need a couple of champers to get in the mood."
I knew she was right, so after scoffing our dinner, we knocked back a few wines and hit the dance floor.
Soon though, I noticed I was being watched.
"Who's that?" I asked Helen, smirking. "He's hot!"
"That's Kevin the security guy," she whispered. "You should go introduce yourself!"
I was definitely feeling confident with some bubbly flowing through my veins so I decided to head over and say hello.
"Don't you know it's rude to stare?" I giggled playfully.
"Sorry, I couldn't help it," Kevin spluttered. "It's just, you're stunning!"
We flirted for the rest of the night and before I jumped in a taxi, I slipped him my phone number.
Next day I cringed at how bold I'd been, but that afternoon, Kevin sent me a text asking me out for dinner.
Without the same Dutch courage I'd had the night before, I was feeling nervous, but Kevin was a perfect gentleman and we got on like a house on fire.
It wasn't long before we were an item.
Time passed and Kev and I continued to grow closer and closer, eventually moving in together and getting married.
He was so loving and romantic, always surprising me with flowers or chocolates if I was having a bad day.
We had amazing chemistry too and while my friends moaned about their declining sex lives, I always bragged that Kev and I couldn't keep our hands off each other.
But after our tenth wedding anniversary, Kev was started to become more distant.
Even our sex life which had always been a constant in our marriage seemed to wane.
Although I knew our lack of libido was just a normal part of getting older, I couldn't help but feel rejected every time I went to snuggle up in bed and he rolled over.
"I've got a busy day at work tomorrow," he'd say, turning his back.
As a security guard, Kevin had always worked long irregular hours, but now it was as though he didn't even want to spend his time off with me.
"He's never at home anymore," I sobbed to my friend Karen one day. "He spent all last weekend fixing Beverley's fence."
Beverley was our 84-year-old neighbour.
Her two sons lived out of town and Kev had promised them he'd keep an eye on their mum.
"Maybe he fancies her!" Karen joked.
We both laughed at the thought, but something in my gut told me that perhaps Kev was being distant because he had met someone else.
"Are you having an affair?" I confronted him that evening.
"Don't be ridiculous," he said, rolling his eyes. "You're so paranoid!"
I had no reason to doubt him and even though I was desperate to make our relationship work, over the next year, our marriage began to crumble under the strain of my suspicions.
It had turned into a completely sexless marriage.
Then, one day while baking a batch of muffins, I realised I'd run out of sugar.
Beverley was always home during the middle of the day so leaving my bowl on the bench, I dashed next door.
I knocked loudly but there was no answer.
She's always got the TV blaring…I smiled to myself.
I pushed through the gate leading into her back yard, hoping I'd be able to get her attention from the back door.
But as I peered through the fly screen, my mouth fell open.
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Australian Women's WeeklyJan 23, 2020