Love, honour and betray?

MY groom was hiding a dark secret...

Published by: Laura Hinton
Published on: 4 October 2012

Oh my god! I couldn't believe this was happening. My boyfriend Kenny was down on one knee, holding out a diamond ring. ‘Will you marry me?' he asked, his voice shaking.
‘Oh, Kenny,' I gasped. ‘Yes, of course!' The other diners at the posh restaurant he'd brought me to started to clap.
I'd wanted to bottle the moment and keep it forever.
‘I want to give you the world,' Kenny had whispered, wrapping his arms around me. ‘I love you so much.'
For years, I'd had visions of a big white wedding but, after a string of broken relationships, I'd failed to meet ‘the one.'
Now, it seemed, my dream had come true. Kenny, 49, had totally swept me off my feet. We'd only been together three months, so it'd been a bit of a whirlwind romance. But, as they say, ‘when you know, you know!'
We'd actually met at the MS support centre where I worked. Kenny suffered from the illness, so started coming along to some of the social events we organised. He didn't have many of the symptoms yet, though.
As soon as Kenny set eyes on me, he'd shown interest. He'd told everyone who'd listen that I was the woman for him.
‘You've got your head in the clouds again,' I remember my mum Lorna, 68, chuckling just after we'd first met. ‘So who's the lucky man?!' ‘Well, there's this guy...' I blushed. ‘He just won't leave me alone!' It was in a good way, though. To be honest, I'd been flattered. Kenny constantly followed me around, flirting.
‘You're the sexiest woman alive,' he'd grin, as he casually leant at the counter.
I was flattered - we just clicked. And even better, he'd got on with my sons Lee, 23, and Rhys, 21, like a house on fire.
We'd moved into his place almost straight away. He'd even knocked down a wall so the boys could both have their own rooms! Then, Kenny treated us all to a family holiday in Salou, Spain.
‘He's alright, you know,' Lee had grinned, sipping an ice-cold beer as we chilled out by the pool. ‘Yep, your mum's finally found her Mr Right,' I sighed, completely smitten.
Back then, life felt amazing. Time had whizzed by.
In fact, it had been six months since the proposal so our wedding plans were in full swing.
I was up to my eyeballs in dresses, venues, cakes and seating plans.
‘See you later, hubby-to-be,' I'd grinned, popping a kiss on Kenny's head before he went to work one day.
The muscles in his legs were so weak that he sometimes lost his balance. But, despite being on crutches, Kenny still worked and had his own painting and decorating business.
‘He's so determined and has overcome so much,' I often told Mum. ‘That's what drew me to him...' I admired his strength. He was the bravest person I knew.
That night, when he'd walked back through the door, his grin was even wider than normal.
‘It's official. I'm a divorced man,' he announced, plonking down next to me and Rhys on the sofa. ‘I got a call from
the solicitor saying my divorce has been finalised.'
‘God, I'd totally forgotten about that,' I'd chuckled.
Kenny and Maria, 47, had been married for 21 years but split up five years before we'd met.
‘We're in the process of getting divorced,' Kenny had explained when we started dating. Since then, I'd been so wrapped up in the wedding, the whole thing had slipped my mind!
‘Well, it's all done now!' Kenny had smiled, hugging me. ‘I'm a free man!'
‘Not for long,' I teased. ‘Then you'll be all mine.'
To celebrate, we'd ordered a Chinese takeaway.
Another six months on, I was finally experiencing the big day I'd always dreamed of. We'd splashed out £11,000 on the bash and Rhys and Lee led me down the aisle as my groomsmen.
I was on cloud nine. Everyone smiled at me as I walked past and I felt like a million dollars in my strapless, ivory dress.
‘You look beautiful,' Kenny whispered to me at the altar.
As the vicar pronounced us husband and wife, we kissed and another picture perfect memory was created...
Afterwards, we headed off for the reception where our 150 guests gathered round to watch us share our first dance. We'd chosen Chasing Cars by Snow Patrol. I'd wished the day would never end!
Later, we jetted off on honeymoon to the Dominican Republic. All our friends, family and workmates had paid £3,000 towards it as our wedding present.
Even back home, two months later, I was still on a high.
Walking through to collect the post one morning, though, I saw there was a letter for Kenny on the doormat. Turning it over, I saw it was from the solicitors.
Must be more official paperwork from the divorce, I thought, starting to open it. We were husband and wife now. What was his, was mine!
But, as I started to read the letter, my blood ran cold.
We are writing to inform you that Maria has refused to sign, it read.
Instantly, my hands started shaking. So, the divorce will not be going ahead at this time. Please contact us to discuss this.
Staggering into a chair, I took a couple of deep breaths. If Kenny hadn't been granted a divorce, like he'd told me, then our marriage was a sham.
He wasn't my husband - he was a bigamist.
As the shock took hold, tears trickled down my cheeks. All I could think of was how we'd stood hand in hand at the altar on our wedding day, Kenny's eyes so full of happiness.
It had been the proudest, happiest moment of my life. He'd promised to love, honour and obey. He'd said ‘I do' in front of our friends and family and sealed our marriage with a kiss. But, it couldn't have meant a thing to him.
In a daze, I dropped the letter on the floor and just knew I had to get away. So I quickly packed my bags and left.
‘I need your help,' I told Mum, turning up on her doorstep an hour later.
‘Of course, love,' she said.
‘Is everything alright?'
‘Me and Kenny are just having a few problems,' I sniffed, struggling to even put it into words. ‘I don't want to talk about it. I just need to clear my head.'
‘What can I do to help?' Mum asked, giving me a hug, before offering to lend me £1,000 to rent my own place.
I managed to compose myself enough to ring the boys, but still couldn't tell them what was going on. ‘I'm just really upset with Kenny about something,' I told Rhys.
‘Okay,' he said. ‘Ring if you need me.'
He must've told Kenny though as a few minutes later, he was ringing my mobile.
I ignored his calls, kept letting them go to voicemail until finally,
I switched my phone off. I couldn't speak to him, let alone face him. I felt so utterly betrayed. The man of my dreams had deceived me in the worst possible way.
If there had been another woman and he'd cheated, well, that I could almost understand... but this was another level of deceit. What he'd done was unimaginable.
Try as I might, I just couldn't think of a possible explanation.
I loved Kenny, would have waited until he was divorced to marry him. ‘Why didn't you just talk to me?' I sobbed out loud.
To me, becoming his wife had meant everything. Yet he'd obviously seen it as some sort of game. Wiping away my tears,
I managed to drag myself to work but kept myself to myself. A few days later though, I went back to Kenny's. I had to get the rest of my stuff. It meant I'd finally have to face him.
He was sitting in darkness in the living room, stubble on his face. He looked like he'd lost weight, too. But I didn't feel any pity for him.
‘Why?' I sobbed. ‘We could have talked, put the date of the wedding back!'
‘I'm sorry,' he shrugged. ‘I...' But he couldn't find the words.
‘You can't answer me because there is no excuse,' I raged. ‘You lied to my face.'
As I walked away, I realised he'd actually stood there at the altar, knowing all along that we weren't truly getting married. He glanced up at me, and I remembered how he'd stared into my eyes as we'd cut our ruby wedding cake.
‘This is the happiest day of my life,' he'd smiled. But how could it have been? He knew everything that day was a big, fat lie.
Doing what he did, had left me questioning everything. Was his love for me ever real?! Would people think I knew? Was I to blame, somehow?
‘You always faced everything in life head on,' I whispered. That was the reason I'd fallen for him. ‘Why couldn't you just do it this time?'
But Kenny stared down at the floor and said nothing.
Desperate, alone and confused, I shut myself off from everyone.
‘How can you just leave him?' Mum kept pushing. ‘He's been telling everyone it's because of his MS, that you couldn't put up with his illness.'
‘Are you serious?'
I croaked. I felt like I was going to be sick. How could he even consider spreading such rubbish? I'd met him at the MS centre... his illness had never affected our relationship. After all he'd put me through, he was turning this around to make it look like my fault.
I'd kept all of this to myself because I didn't want everyone to see him for what he was - a lying, cheating bigamist. Not anymore, though...
‘You don't even know the half of it,' I sobbed to Mum, finally breaking down.
When I told her the truth, her jaw hit the floor. She was furious.
‘You have to report him,' she said, holding me tight.
When I told Rhys and Lee, they were angry, too. ‘He's betrayed us all!' they seethed, packing their bags and moving in with friends.
A couple of months later, I finally pulled myself together and went to the solicitors, who informed the police.
It was only then that I learnt Kenny had actually put ‘single' on our marriage certificate when it should have said ‘divorced.' I hadn't even thought twice about it at the time. Caught up in the whirlwind of our special day, I just hadn't noticed.
As far as I was aware, Maria hadn't signed because she was concerned about her pension.
She wasn't the one who'd deceived me though.
Finally, last month, Kenny pleaded guilty to bigamy. He played the MS card, claiming his memory had been affected.
‘I was just totally confused,' he said. ‘I've only got a short-term memory.' But how can you forget you're married?
He got his comeuppance, though. He was sentenced to three months of house arrest between 8pm and 6am.
One thing I can't help regretting is the £11,000 I wasted on my fake wedding. I feel so terrible for all my friends and family who splashed out cash for our honeymoon.
I've since heard Kenny is engaged again and feel sorry for whoever she is. But most importantly, I don't want other MS sufferers to be tarnished with the same brush. Kenny's made a mockery of a very serious illness.
I've been with a new man, James, for three years now. We have a son, Alfie, seven months, and I couldn't be happier. But, I don't know if I'll ever be able to get married again.
I thought I'd got my dream day, but it just turned out to be the stuff of nightmares.
Donna Butler, 38, Aberdeen