March 20th is a day that will forever live in infamy. It was D-Day, or “Discovery-Day,” in the language of the world of infidelity.
The night before, Saturday, an unusual number of text messages were coming across Demi’s phone. I paid no attention until the hours after midnight, when I was awakened by them. I got out of bed and found her phone in the dark, hoping to mute it.
There, on the screen, I saw a banner with the name “Eli James.” I instantly knew something inappropriate was happening. She continued to sleep. I went to my computer, logged into our mobile carrier’s web site and retrieved the source number that the messages were coming from. It was a Portland cell number.
I confronted Demi when she rose at 5:30 am.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Oh, nothing,” she said. “It’s a guy I met in Nashville. I made the mistake of giving out my number. No big deal.”
“Why is he texting you at 3:00 am?
“Probably drunk,” she said reassuringly. “It’s nothing. There’s nothing to worry about. He lives out of town—”
Oops. I already knew it was a local number. The love of my life had just lied to me. Not a little lie, mind you, but a huge, ugly, and obvious lie, the kind that’s alive with wriggling worms, crawly bugs, and lots of sticky slime. I quietly accepted her explanation and went on with the morning.
The next week saw a flurry of discovery activity.
I was a Cold War intelligence specialist who spent a ton of time in the Soviet Union plying my trade in both human and electronic intelligence. Я даже говорю по-русски свободно и почти без инностранного акцента. (I’m fluent in Russian, of course.)
I researched the phone number I’d obtained, and traced it to a name and P.O. Box in Portland. I found the person, his age, date of birth, ex-wife, an address, and discovered that he worked at the same agency in downtown Portland where she did. He was also a producer trainee, and she was on the management team—very dangerous territory from any HR person’s perspective.
By Wednesday, March 23rd, I had enough information to confront Demi about the first lie. So I did. Demi was sitting on the sofa watching TV when I announced that I knew.
“You know what?” she said.
“I know who it is.”
“Who what is?”
“Eli. Eli James.”
“How can you? I told you he’s just a guy from out of town. It’s no big deal. You’re spinning this into something bigger than it is.”
“His real name is J*** E. O*** and he works in your office, in the commercial department. He’s a trainee there.”
I’ll never forget the look on Demi’s face that evening. She sat back into the sofa, her eyes glazed over, her entire face flushed red, her cheeks sunken. She was busted.
“You’re wrong,” she said calmly yet defiantly.
Then I saw her “tell”—lips pressed tightly together, pursing upwards. I would see that tell many, many times in the coming weeks and months.
At that moment, my world crashed. My worst fears were true. This couldn’t be happening. I have small children. This wasn’t what I signed up for. One thing was very clear at that moment: Demi was not going to be honest with me under any circumstances. The breach was exposed, and she was going to continue trying to conceal it with lies.
I should have told her right then and there that her efforts would be entirely in vain. But I don’t think she would have believed me. To this day, I believe she truly didn’t know what she was up against.
I needed to know what was going on, so I planned and initiated a thorough and wide-ranging discovery operation that would have made a Langley controller proud. I can’t describe the details of the operation here because of two pending court cases, but suffice it to say that I obtained every single piece of critical information on my checksheet, and then some. It was very, very painful. All of it. I loved this woman, and yet I had now discovered a second identity—a second life she was leading. My heart bled, for myself and for my children.