The day before, when I knew for certain that Mark was in Argentina, I reached out to my family in Chicago, and my dad volunteered to fly to Charleston to be at my side, as had Gier. In the coming weeks, there would be a time when I would need my mom's lively spirit and take-charge attitude, but that day I needed Dad and his calm. I was folding laundry mindlessly, trying to keep busy, when he pulled into the driveway. Just the sight of him, tidy in his pressed khakis and golf shirt, made me feel more firmly anchored to the ground. Yet all I could manage was a weak smile when he walked through the door. Since Mark confessed his affair to him a few weeks earlier, Dad and I had spoken many times. Now we hugged, not saying much. Up close, I saw the pain he carried in his eyes. I was not sure what there was to say.

Mark called again, first announcing that the press conference would be later in the afternoon.

"The State has some of our emails," he admitted. I understood that the "our" of that statement did not refer to me, but to his correspondence with his lover. If they were anything like the racy letter I'd discovered in Mark's desk that January, I needed to brace myself for another public humiliation.

"How many do they have? How long have they had them?"

"I don't know."

So, my best political, if not spousal, advice: "Well, be honest and get it over with. Whatever you do, don't talk about your heart."

Then Gier arrived with her boys and mimicked how she had waved as they drove past the reporters and photographers who slumped, bored, in the driveway. It was time for Mark's press conference, and we all crammed into my bedroom, some holding hands as we watched Mark enter the Capitol rotunda. He walked, distracted and guilty, to the podium, squirming, not knowing how to begin. Frannie is the type who likes to ask questions and she started up. I had to caution her that I wanted to hear every word. We were somber and a little frightened as Mark started to ramble. He spent considerable time—it seemed like an eternity—apologizing to everyone in his life, every citizen of the state, people of faith all over the world. Then he revealed the state of his heart. He described days spent crying in Argentina with his lover.

Excerpted from Staying True by Jenny Sanford Copyright © 2010 by Jenny Sanford. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.


Next Story