*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a woman who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
A newly engaged couple was planning their wedding when the bride's childhood best friend came to visit. Nothing would ever be the same again. When the groom and the bride's childhood best friend met, it was love at first sight.
The bride's friend was shy, but the groom somehow made her come out of her shell. She became animated and talkative whenever he was around, and the bride never suspected a thing.
The bride felt thrilled to see the two most important people in her life get along so well. Obviously, she did not know what was really happening. Her groom and her best friend had fallen in love.
Instead of allowing her friend to stay in a hotel, the bride insisted on allowing her to stay at her home. The groom took to coming home from work early to see her and spend time with her before his future wife came home from work herself.
The unlikely duo spent a lot of time together, watching television and getting to know each other better.
After the wedding, the bride's friend went back home, but it didn't end there. The groom, who was now another woman's husband, found his wife's friend's phone number, and they resumed their illicit whirlwind romance.
Although the man and his wife were newlyweds, he reserved all his feelings of romance for her friend. Finally, he confessed his affair to his wife, who was very upset.
"It's just a phase," the woman told her husband. "You don't love her; you love me. I wish I had never invited her to stay with us. She destroyed our marriage before it even started."
The couple fought, but in the end, the husband agreed to stay with his wife and stop seeing her friend. It was for the best. They remained married for decades and had two children.
The woman forgave her husband for what he did, as she thought it was over. She even made up with her best friend after the woman called to apologize profusely for what she had done.
Twenty years later, as the woman was preparing for her fortieth birthday celebration, she saw an unusually large dollar amount charged on her husband's credit card bill. The charge was from a jewelry store, and she just knew it was her birthday present. She was wrong.
Since her birthday was still a few days away, she scoured the house for her gift. She couldn't wait, and she just knew he had hidden it somewhere in the house.
She found the small jewelry box in a pocket of a coat he never wore anymore. The coat was hanging in the back of the closet. It was one of the last places anyone would ever look; it was one of the last places she looked.
Inside the box, she found a gold necklace with a diamond-encrusted heart pendant. In the center of the pendant sat a large topaz gemstone.
That's funny, she thought. Topaz isn't even my birthstone.
Her birthday was July, and her birthstone was ruby. Why would he buy a topaz?
Nonetheless, it was a beautiful necklace, and she couldn't wait to wear it. She figured her husband just admired the pretty color of the stone, and she couldn't blame him. It was stunning.
Before replacing the jewelry box in the pocket of his unused coat, she read the note that was with it. "I still love you after all these years," it read.
Days later, her fortieth birthday party was in full swing when the doorbell rang. She hadn't opened her presents yet when she ran to answer the door.
It was her childhood friend and invited guest, the woman with whom her husband had cheated on her so many years ago. And just as you probably expected, she was wearing the topaz necklace, and yes, her birthstone was topaz.