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April 5, 2013

The Accidental Mistress

After a lifetime of serial dating, Kym Canter thought she had finally found Mr. Right. Swept up in a whirlwind romance, they planned a happily ever after life together — until one e-mail changed everything.

the new american couple

Photo Credit: Andrew McLeod

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I MET ANDREW through a dating website last spring. He was good-looking, and we had a lot in common—we were the same age; we'd gone to art school and lived in Los Angeles at the same time; and we were both creative directors, he in television, I at a fashion e-commerce site. Our first date was at a French bistro in New York's Soho neighborhood, and we had a nice time, mostly talking about work and art. He said he'd been divorced for three or four years and had two kids, that they lived in the same New England town as his mother, and when the marriage didn't work, he moved to L.A. where he'd grown up. Then he was offered a television network job in New York, where he was working on a reality show based on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic space exploration company. At the end of the date, he gave me a kiss good-night at my door. Over the next few weeks, I would get a random e-mail or text about having dinner again, but then he'd write that he was in Japan. Finally, three months after our first date, Andrew e-mailed, "I know I haven't been around; would you consider coming to dinner with me?" I thought 50/50 he was going to cancel, but when he showed up, he couldn't have been more charming. He told me, "I never stopped thinking about you. I always thought you were the right girl at the wrong time. I was traveling; now I'm here. I want to get to know you."

Our birthdays, which are a day apart, were in two weeks, and we started talking about going to Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos to celebrate. But then he said his mother had suffered a stroke, and he had to go to her. The birthdays came and went. When he returned, we had dinner in the West Village, and that's when I decided I would give this relationship a shot. I told him, "I want to sleep with you but not tonight." And he said, "Well, what are you doing tomorrow?" Soon after, we were spending every night at my apartment or his, a chic one-bedroom in a luxury high-rise in the Financial District. It had Frank Gehry chairs, big TVs, paintings he had done, closets with clothes straight out of Mr. Porter—exactly what you would expect a TV executive's bachelor pad to look like.

A close girlfriend's birthday is at the end of August, and every year we go to a friend's country house and a petting zoo in rural Pennsylvania. It's a two-and-a-half-hour drive each way, and he offered to drive a group of us. The night before the road trip, he told me about how huge the Branson deal was going to be, that he and his coworkers were going to start a production company to make the show, and that we were going to be rich. I'd brought other boyfriends to Pennsylvania, but everyone, I mean everyone, loved him. He was a likeable, easygoing guy. Our vacation to Parrot Cay had been rescheduled for Labor Day weekend, but the day before the trip, he texted that the deal was falling apart and that he had to leave immediately for Branson's house to save it. I was disappointed, but I wanted to be a good, supportive girlfriend. We texted the entire time he was in London—he described how posh Branson's house was and how they talked about sailing, and I sent him pictures of the beach where I'd gone instead. My girlfriends told me I'd handled it right, acting cool and not hassling him. His assistant, Cal, e-mailed me, "I'm sorry your trip got canceled. When would you like to reschedule? Andrew says you can go anywhere in the world."

By that time, I had fallen hard. When a cousin visited from California, we took her out to dinner and he paid for her cab. When we had a family lunch, my mother and aunt came in from Connecticut and he dropped by as it was close to his office. He told my mother, "I'm in love with your daughter." A girlfriend of mine got engaged and he said "Congratulations! Kym's going to be next." He told me, "I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I'm in love with you. You're perfect the way you are. You make me so happy"—what you want every man to say to you. I thought, I can't believe this finally happened to me. But I'm a good person. I put myself out there. I dated a lot of turkeys. I held out for the good guy. I deserve this.

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