She’d never thought this would happen to her. She was convinced that she and her mother-in-law-to-be were finally on good terms.
But that morning, a knock on the door had her rushing to the living room.
She had no idea that opening that door would land her a direct ticket to court, where she’d have to fight for her very life.
A Scolding And A Court Date
But the woman she showed the prenup to was already part of her fiancé’s family. She was a close friend of hers, and she only wanted her opinion on the document before signing it.
But her soon-to-be mother-in-law knocked on her door the following day, a grimace on her face and a lawyer by her side.
She handed her two things: a scolding and a court date.
But for New Jersey native Marissa Bomolo, this should have been expected. Janice, her fiancé’s mother-in-law, had never liked her. She’d promised to find any way to stop Marissa from joining their family.
Marissa had been working hard to change the woman’s mind for a while. She was convinced it had worked. But that morning, Janice appeared on her doorstep.
Marissa knew trouble was here.
Marissa And Cliff
When Marissa met Cliff Thielst, she knew she’d met the person she would build a life with. She’d just cleared college with a teaching degree under her belt. She’d been accompanying her sixth-grade students to the local museum for a history class when she met him.
A researcher and master’s student, Cliff was as charming as he was disarming. He put aside his work to take care of Marissa and her class, helping with everything they needed.
By the end of the class, Marissa knew she had to see him again.
Marissa had never been one to wait around for things to align. She’d always been a go-getter. In that spirit, she visited the same museum the next day, hoping to meet the charming man again.
She found him reading a book at one of the quiet booths, his thick reading glasses resting on his narrow nose, and his tweed jacket perfectly fitted around his torso.
She’d never seen a man so bookishly handsome!
Cliff looked just as elated to see Marissa. His face split in a smile, and he quickly came to his feet before shaking her hand and asking her to sit. But Marissa graciously declined, inviting the scholar to a lunch date instead.
She could tell Cliff was taken aback by the invite and how straightforward she was, yet she witnessed in real time as, with a bright smile, he rolled his shoulders back and graciously accepted.
She had no idea what her actions would lead to.
A Splendid Date
The lunch date went splendidly. Marissa learned so much about Cliff, and with everything she discovered, it became clear that she’d found her soul mate.
A Louisiana native, Cliff was a huge history buff, just as Marissa was. He was majoring in anthropology, a discipline Marissa had always loved.
But there was more to him than just his study.
A Good And Kind Heart
Cliff had a good and kind heart, which made Marissa like him even more.
She accepted his request for a second date and, two years later, said “Yes” when he got on one knee and popped the big question.
But although Marissa loved where her life was, with her looming marriage to the love of her life and her booming career as a teacher, she couldn’t help but feel like something was wrong.
A Dreary Feeling
This dreary feeling stemmed from the relationship between Marissa and Cliff’s mom, Janice. From the first day the two met, Marissa could tell Janice didn’t like her.
She’d seen the way the woman looked at her as if she wasn’t enough. She’d heard how Janice talked about her to the rest of the family.
She had no idea that all this would land her in court.
They Didn’t See Eye To Eye
Although Marissa and Janice didn’t see eye to eye, Marissa continued her relationship with Cliff. She said yes when Cliff asked her to marry him. She hoped being part of the family would make Janice treat her differently.
Among the things that Marissa and Cliff had talked about while dating was the issue of a prenup. Marissa came from a modest background, while her husband-to-be came from money.
She didn’t want to seem like she was with him just because of his financial status. But none of that would matter when she was staring at a hefty jail term.
She Suggested It
Marissa had been the one to suggest the prenup. She had been living comfortably before Cliff and didn’t need any of his family’s money. She enjoyed her job and everything it allotted her. The only things she wanted from Cliff was his love, trust, and affection.
On the other hand, Cliff had been dreading bringing up the prenup. His mom had already talked to him about it, even calling the family lawyer and setting up the meeting.
“She only wants you for the money,” she said. There was no way she’d let Marissa win.
He Defended Her
Although Cliff defended his fiancé, he knew he would lose against his mom. A matriarch of their family, Janice ruled with an iron fist.
But Cliff didn’t know how to bring up the issue of a prenup with Marissa. Yes, they’d talked about it several times while dating. But now that they were set to be married, he felt bad asking her to sign the papers.
You can imagine his relief when Marissa asked him about the prenup.
Till Death Do Us Part
Cliff assured her he’d be generous with his possessions, although Marissa found this absurd since she would never break away from what they had. All this was pointless to her as she was the ’till death do as part’ kind.
As the two led hectic lives, Marissa with her teaching career and Cliff with his master’s studies, there was no time for them to go through the documents together.
But Marissa had a close friend who she knew would help her read through what the prenup entailed.
The friend, Erica, Cliff’s cousin, had experience with prenups. She’d worked as a divorce lawyer for five years, and Marissa met her and her husband a year ago, and the two became close friends.
Since Marissa didn’t have enough cash for a lawyer, she thought Erica would be a big help.
But something would happen that would tear a rift in Cliff’s family while landing Marissa in court.
Calling Her Friend
Marissa called Erica the moment she received the papers. She’d scanned through the contents of the prenup and thought it was okay. But she still needed an experienced eye to gloss over it.
Erica came over that evening and, after a hearty meal and some wine, sat with Marissa on the couch to look at the prenup.
But things were about to fall apart.
As Erica read through the prenup, Marissa tried to keep her composure. She sipped her wine, attempting to distract herself from the nervous knot forming in her stomach. Once filled with warmth and laughter, the cozy living room now felt tense.
Minutes passed like hours, and Erica’s expression shifted from casual interest to furrowed concern. Marissa’s heart raced as she watched her friend’s eyes scan the pages.
She couldn’t discern what had caught Erica’s attention, but she could tell the atmosphere had changed.
Going Through The Pages
Erica flipped through the pages, and Marissa watched her face for any sign of concern or hesitation. At first, everything seemed normal.
But then, as Erica reached a particular section, her eyes narrowed, and a furrow appeared on her forehead. Marissa’s heart stopped.
She sensed trouble brewing beneath the surface of those legal documents.
Breaking The Silence
Erica finally broke the silence. “Marissa, there’s something here that doesn’t add up,” she said, her tone serious. Marissa’s stomach churned as Erica pointed to a clause that limited the sharing of the prenup details only with the individual lawyers.
“Why would they include this?” Erica pondered aloud.
“It’s not a standard practice. Prenups are usually discussed openly between the engaged couple.”
She Overlooked It
Marissa’s mind raced as she realized the implications of her oversight. She had innocently overlooked the restrictive clause, thinking it was just another legal technicality.
Now, it seemed like a trap, a potential legal minefield that could detonate with devastating consequences. Erica, sensing Marissa’s distress, tried to reassure her.
“Let me read the entire document again, but we need to be careful from now on.”
As Erica meticulously reviewed the prenup, Marissa’s thoughts wandered to the consequences of the revelation. She couldn’t fathom why there would be such a restriction, and the more she dwelled on it, the more ominous it felt.
What secrets lay hidden within the legal jargon?
She had no idea that overlooking it was a huge mistake that would land her in trouble.
Anger And Worry
Finally, Erica looked up, her eyes meeting Marissa’s with a mixture of anger and worry. “Marissa, we need to talk,” she said, setting the prenup pages on the coffee table. The weight of the situation settled in the room.
Marissa’s mind raced with possibilities. Had she missed a crucial detail? Was there some legal trap hidden within the document?
“What is it, Erica? Is something wrong?” she stammered, anxiety clawing at her throat.
A Deep Breath
Erica took a deep breath before speaking, “Marissa, this prenup is not as straightforward as it seems. More clauses here could have significant consequences, not just for you but for Cliff and my family.”
Marissa’s eyes widened. She hadn’t expected any surprises.
“What do you mean? What’s in the prenup?” she demanded her voice a cocktail of fear and frustration.
The Family House
With a heavy sigh, Erica began explaining one of the clauses that had sent a shiver down her spine. It stated that in the event of a divorce, Marissa would be entitled to the house Cliff’s grandfather had left him.
The unsettling part was that the house in question had been promised to Erica by her late grandfather. She had no idea that it was under Cliff’s name.
And now it would be Marissa’s if she signed the prenup.
A Reeling Mind
Marissa’s lips parted, and her mind reeled. Why would Cliff do such a thing? Erica continued, “This house means a lot to my family, Marissa.
It’s not just a property; it holds sentimental value. If you were to divorce, and you got the house, it would cause irreparable damage between Cliff and everyone.”
But what could Marissa do? Wasn’t this beyond her?
She Had No Idea
“I had no idea, Erica,” she said as guilt flared within her. “I just wanted to make sure everything was fair. Let me call Cliff and see what I can do.”
“Yes, please,” Erica said, looking distressed. “Immediately, if you can.”
Without warning, she got up, dusted her lap, and looked around for her jacket. “I must leave now,” she said.
Marissa could see how heartbroken her friend was. She could understand her pain. She didn’t try to hold her back when she left, walking her straight to her car. But things took a different turn as morning came.
A loud bang rudely yanked her from sleep at sunrise. Someone was at the door, and they really needed to get in.
Marissa thought it was Cliff. She’d tried his phone earlier, but it had gone straight to voicemail as it did whenever he was traveling. But it wasn’t him banging the door.
Marissa opened the door to find Janice and an elderly fellow in a sharp suit. Janice was curt and to the point. “This is all your fault,” she said with a glare. “Erica wasn’t supposed to know anything about the house!”
The man handed Marissa an envelope. She ripped it open, finding a lawsuit waiting for her. Her mother-in-law-to-be was suing her for sharing the contents of the prenup with Erica, even though the woman was her niece.
“I’ll see you in court,” Janice said and left.
A Bad Joke
At first, Marissa was convinced this was a bad joke on Janice’s part. But the more she read the document, the more it became clear that Janice wasn’t playing around. Marissa couldn’t call Cliff fast enough.
Cliff, who had been traveling for his PhD research, called his mom immediately, demanding why she was suing his fiancé. “Do you really want to start such a war?” he asked.
Of course, he got Janice to drop all charges. But he was missing one crucial point.
He Stops Her
Cliff failed to mention the fact that he’d received the house meant for Erica. This didn’t sit well with Marissa, who talked to him about it. “It’s not right,” she insisted. “Is there a way you can give it to her?”
Cliff couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
When he came back from his trip, he took Marissa to see the house, hoping to show her what she was willingly giving up.
Her Stance On The Matter
The house was a breathtaking white stone Victorian maisonette in Louisiana. A swath of serene grass and scattered trees surrounded it for miles, marking the property that would belong to Marissa if she ever divorced Cliff.
But her mind was made up. She willingly had the house signed over to Erica when she married Cliff. The place was beautiful, the property even more so.
But none of these things were worth breaking a heart, a home, or losing a friend.