I couldn’t wait for my holiday of a lifetime. But my hubby was about to come home with more than a suntan…
By Lindsey Cartwright, 36, from Sheffield
Buckling my seatbelt, I turned to my hubby and flashed him a huge grin.
“I can’t wait for some sun, sea and sand,” I beamed, knotting my fingers through his.
Gareth, now 41, and I had been together for 12 years and married for two. For a year, we’d been saving hard for our dream trip to Egypt and now we were finally on our way.
The excitement was building as we got off the plane and we were greeted by blue skies and palm trees.
We’d booked a hotel in a five star resort and we weren’t disappointed. Our room was almost as big as our house!
As I settled down on our big, comfy bed, I couldn’t help but notice my hubby had a twinkle in his eye.
“Can’t wait to get back here later,” he said, cheekily.
“Me too,” I smiled. “But let’s check out the pool first.”
I bagged us some sun loungers and Gareth rubbed sun cream on my back. Hearing our English accents, two fellow holidaymakers struck up a conversation with us.
“Pleased to meet you,” the girl said. “I’m Sophie and this is my mate Kevin*.”
Sophie was gorgeous, with long, blonde curly hair but, at only 19, she and her mate were much younger than us.
“Would you like to join us for a drink tonight?” Gareth asked.
At first, I was a little bit annoyed at having to share my romantic break with two strangers but I soon loosened up. Despite the age gap, we found ourselves having a laugh with Sophie and Kevin.
“They seem nice,” Gareth said, as we made our way back to the room.
We spent the next few evenings hanging around with Sophie and Kevin in the hotel bar. One night, after a few too many cocktails, I sleepily rolled over in bed to cuddle Gareth when I noticed he was creeping out of the door.
“Come back to bed,” I said. “It’s 5am!”
“Sorry love,” he replied. “I can’t sleep. I might go down to the pool.”
I rolled over in bed and thought nothing more of it, but the next morning he did the same thing.
“Just heading for a dip,” he told me.
“But it’s still dark outside!” I protested.
That night, we went to meet Sophie and Kevin for drinks but I noticed them arguing as they approached our table.
“Everything okay, you two?” I asked.
“Yes,” Sophie snapped back. “It’s nothing.”
When we climbed into bed, Gareth seemed restless but this time I didn’t say a word when he got up and left in the early hours.
I knew something was wrong, but I couldn’t figure out what it was. A few hours later, I went down to the pool and my stomach lurched as I caught sight of my hubby.
There he was, larking around in the water – with Sophie. I felt beads of cold sweat tickle my neck as I watched her splashing around in her skimpy bikini, laughing at his jokes.
Suddenly, everything clicked into place. Was he disappearing every morning to see her?
Surely he couldn’t be cheating on me with a teenager? Sophie was half his age…
Keen to make my presence felt, I kicked off my flip flops and jumped into the pool beside Gareth, but his expression changed when I swam up to him.
“Oh hi,” he said, flatly. “I might just go and sunbathe for a bit. I’m a bit tired because I didn’t sleep much last night.”
As Gareth snoozed on his sun lounger, I noticed he’d put his phone in my beach bag. Half an hour later, he was still out like a light, so I seized my chance to do some detective work and snuck back up to the room.
Closing the door behind me, I took his phone out of the bag and went straight to his text messages – only to see he’d deleted them all.
It was obvious he was covering his tracks, but I needed proof he’d been seeing Sophie behind my back, so I opened his call log.
I thought I might be sick as my eyes darted over dozens of calls to Sophie, at all hours of the day and night. It didn’t take a genius to work out that my hubby hadn’t been sneaking off to the pool alone in the middle of the night…
“What do you think you’re doing?” I thundered, when he came back to the room a little while later.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“You know what!” I replied. “Phoning Sophie every five minutes!”
“You’re overreacting,” he said. “I only took her number yesterday so we could make arrangements to meet her and Kevin at night.”
“That’s funny,” I spat back, brandishing his phone in his face. “Because you’ve been calling her for a week!”
“Oh, calm down,” he said. “There’s nothing going on, I promise.”
We only had a few days of our holiday left, but our romantic break was ruined. I refused to meet up with Sophie and Kevin, so Gareth sulked by the pool.
One afternoon shortly before we left, I bumped into Kevin as I was making my way to back to her room.
“Er, hi Lindsey,” he said awkwardly. “I think there’s something you should know. The reason I was arguing with Sophie was because she was flirting so much with Gareth. I didn’t think it was right.”
Gareth told me not to listen to Kevin, but I was more sure than ever that something was going on. Things went from bad to worse when I noticed Sophie was on our flight home.
Desperate to avoid a scene, I took her to one side.
“Sophie, Gareth is my husband,” I said, my voice trembling with anger. “If something has happened between you two, I need to know.”
“There’s nothing going on,” Sophie insisted. “We’re just friends.”
Back home in rainy England, Gareth told me he was determined to give our marriage another shot.
“Lindsey, I promise nothing happened with Sophie,” he said. “I’ve deleted her number.”
Reluctantly, I agreed to put the holiday behind us. After all, we’d been together for over a decade and I couldn’t imagine life without my hubby.
But, a few days later, Gareth announced he was going to be away all weekend.
“I totally forgot I’d promised a mate I’d move some furniture for him,” he told me.
I couldn’t bring myself to believe Gareth was telling the truth but I didn’t say anything about my suspicions.
“Okay,” I replied, blandly.
“Can I borrow your sat nav?” he asked. “We need to take some of the stuff to Birmingham.”
I said nothing, but when Gareth returned the next day, I went through the sat nav. He hadn’t been in Birmingham at all. He’d used it to find an address in Manchester, where Sophie lived.
Desperate for more evidence, I waited until Gareth had gone back out to log onto his computer. I trawled through his emails, but I couldn’t find any clues as to where he’d really gone.
Then, I had an idea. I clicked onto his internet banking page and started to look through his transactions.
I felt sick to my stomach when I noticed that he’d paid for a room at a hotel near our home in Sheffield the previous week, when he claimed he’d been at work.
Furious, I dialled his number and told him not to come home.
“I know you’re seeing Sophie,” I said.
“I’m not,” he protested. “I booked the room for my mate. He’s the one having an affair.”
“Come off it, Gareth,” I replied, slamming the receiver down.
Less than two weeks later, Gareth began posting pictures of himself and Sophie on Facebook, telling all of his friends they were in a relationship. I was sad at first, but I soon picked up the pieces.
Two years on, I’m saving up for a divorce.
I’ve heard Gareth and Sophie are still together. I can’t understand why a young girl like Sophie sees in a man twice her age.
I never imagined my hubby would bring home a teen mistress as a holiday souvenir, but I’m better off without him. Once a rat, always a rat!
Gareth Owen, 41, said: “To be honest I’d rather not talk about it. I’ve got no comment on my personal life.”
Sophie Cartledge, 21, said: “We did meet on the holiday to Egypt but we didn’t have an affair, we got together after they split up. Lindsey told Gareth when they got married that their marriage was dead in the water.”
As told to Helen O’Brien Google