Book extract: ‘Sex, Lies and Stellenbosch’
The scuzzy underbelly of a prosperous, seemingly upstanding community in the winelands
Written as fiction to protect the innocent, Sex, Lies and Stellenbosch exposes the dark underbelly of the seemingly upstanding community of Stellenbosch, one of SA’s wealthiest small towns. All is revealed through Jen, wife of John Pearce, a wine farmer and businessman. When she finds her husband in a compromising position with his sexy wine rep, Patty, Jen has to choose between leaving her marriage, jeopardising her standing and stability in the community, or turning a blind eye to his infidelity.
Extract from Sex, Lies and Stellenbosch by Eva Mazza Jen didn’t know why she had run. She hadn’t given it any thought until she’d realised how tired she was getting. She had crossed the farm’s boundaries and passed over three of the neighbouring vineyards. Fight, freeze or flight; that’s what they called it. She had chosen flight after standing frozen for what seemed like ages.
It was only when she passed a group of farm labourers and their families making their way to church, that she realised that it must have been – depending on how one regarded it – as late or as early as seven in the morning. She saw their panicked faces as she approached. The sight of her dishevelled hair and swollen eyes meant choosing whether to greet her (thus acknowledging that they’d seen her and that something was certainly wrong in the perfect world of the white madam) or to ignore her (a show of blatant disrespect and a disregard for social standing).
Jen solved their dilemma by greeting them. “Môre,” she chirped as if it were normal to run barefoot through vineyards in last night's dress-up. They stood aside to let her pass. “Môre, Mevrou,” they mumbled back.
As she passed them, one of the children asked, “Is Mevrou orright?” His father jerked his arm to silence him. They were serious and cordial now, but Jen knew that by tonight they would be feasting on her transgression. Under normal circumstances she may have noticed the ripening grapes: a glorious season in the winelands and the most popular time to photograph.
She had a flashback to her husband and Patty. He had called Patty “Baby”! Baby was reserved for her. Well, that’s what I thought. This elicited from her the urge to vomit. The image of the two of them together brought Jen to an abrupt halt. Her legs could take her no further. Her phone dropped as she doubled over, gasping for breath. She fell to her knees to retrieve it. Her hands shook as she dialled her best friend’s number. Frankie picked up immediately. “Have you come out of your room, Rapunzel?”
“Frankie!” Jen sobbed.
“Jen! What’s wrong?” Jen couldn’t speak for her sobbing. “Okay, Jen, I’m sorry I was such a bitch to you last night.” Jen could hear Frankie sigh a little impatiently. “But you embarrassed John. On his birthday. You embarrassed us all.” Jen became even more inconsolable. “It will pass, Jen. John will get over it. We all will.” “Frankie, I saw John …” She couldn’t finish her sentence.
“Jen. I can’t hear you.”
Jen tried again. “I saw … I mean, I caught John. He was with someone!”
“Frankie, are you there?” She checked her phone.
“With that whore?”
A flashback to Patty’s boobs. Spilling everywhere.
Jen’s sobs affirmed Frankie’s suspicions.
“The fucking bitch!” She sounded furious. Good. Jen needed an ally. She needed someone on her team.
She laughed miserably. “Her boobs aren’t fake by the way.”
Frankie ignored her friend’s attempt to make light of the situation. “I tried to warn you about Patty. We all tried to warn you! I told you that women like her are marriage wreckers. But no, you liked her.”
Jen slumped down with her bum in the sand. “Please, Frankie. Stop lecturing me.”
“She’s a wannabe, from some shitty place. She wants what you have, Jen.”
Jen drew circles in the sand with her manicured finger as she spoke. “I could’ve said the same about you when you started dating Lee.” She didn’t mean to say this. Her words had just spilled out. Jen heard Frankie inhale deeply.
“Ok, I’ll let it go because you’re emotional. I never wrecked a relationship to marry Lee. Ag! I don’t know how to explain it to you. You can just see she’s a slut. I don’t know how you missed it.”
“I’m trusting?” Was she trusting or just plain blind?
“I banged on your door last night; I sent you text messages.”
I know. Which I chose to ignore. “I thought you wanted to lecture me again. About my speech.” “Jen. She was all over John. I couldn’t stay at the party the whole night. God knows I tried, but Lee needed to get home. What with his diabetes, he’s such a party pooper! I even told him to go home without me, that I’d Uber. He insisted we leave together. He said you were a big girl and that you could take care of yourself.”
Jen’s heart burst with love for her friend. She hadn’t had many friends growing up. In fact, Frankie was the only best friend she’d ever had.
“I really appreciate you trying to keep an eye out for me. You’re a good …”
Frankie cut her off. “The two-timing son of a bitch! How could he do this to you? You must be furious.”
“I’m sad, that’s all.”
“Well, I’ll kill him for you!” At least she had someone in whom she could confide; someone who would help her through this.
“Frankie, I’m really grateful that you kept an eye out for me,” she repeated.
“As I said, Jen, I couldn’t stand to see that slut all over John. He’s my best friend’s husband. It’s the least I could do. You’d do the same for me, my friend.”
She certainly would. Right now, though, she was confused as to what to do. What do women do in situations like these? she wondered. It’s not like she could turn a blind eye to what she had seen. “What am I going to do?”
“You’re going to get the bitch fired, that’s what.”
“You know how I feel about cheating, Frankie. We’ve had this discussion before. I’ve always said that’s where I’ll draw the line.”
Jen paused. She had never articulated the rumours she had heard to anyone, not even Frankie. But she knew people must have heard them. This is a small town after all. “I’ve never spoken to even you about this, Frankie. There’ve been rumours about John. You must have heard them?”
“You don’t think this is a once off?” Frankie asked.
“I don’t know what to think. All I know is how cheated I feel. I don’t know if I can stay married to him. I mean what am I supposed to do? Do I divorce him? Jesus, Frankie. What the hell am I supposed to do?” Jen burst into tears again.
“Jen, you’re forty-nine! You’re not going to divorce him and make it easy for him and difficult for you. Best believe, once he’s single, he’s not going to be mourning your loss. Older men are much more appealing than older women. Trust me, Jen. I have cum-ed in this area. Pun intended.”
Jen laughed despite her misery.
“Look, forget about rumours. There are always going to be rumours. Do you think there aren’t rumours about Lee? Or Frans? Rumours will remain rumours unless you decide to expose them. And you don’t want to do that, Jen. As for last night; it’s a once off. John is a good husband and father. You know he loves you. And you love him.”
“Does he? He’s a good way of showing it.”
“Come on. Lines always blur. Think about what you’re saying. Are you going to allow some floozy to enjoy the spoils of years of hard bloody work? The sacrifices you’ve made as a wife? And what’s going to happen to you once you’re divorced?”
Jen was silent.
“Jen, what do you think?”
• Published by MFBooksJoburg in February, R240.