How Samantha Wills discovered her partner had eight affairs

Jewellery designer Samantha Wills looked like she had it all, a successful career, glamorous life in New York and a gorgeous boyfriend. But appearances can be deceiving. In this extract from her new memoir, Of Gold and Dust, she reveals how she found out her relationship was over. 

I was used to Jasper checking his phone a lot for work but over dinner at a nearby restaurant that night he was checking more often than usual.

“Who are you texting?” I asked, getting frustrated as I was trying to tell him about the conference.

“Oh, it’s just Derek,” he replied quickly. “He and Ashley are in the area and want to catch up with us.” Derek was a good friend of ours and he and Ashley had just started dating, but I had caught a glimpse of Jasper’s phone screen when he’d picked it up and Derek’s name hadn’t been on the screen. I didn’t say anything. We finished our dessert and as we walked out of the restaurant, Jasper turned to walk towards my apartment.

“Aren’t we going to catch up with Derek?” I asked. A look of confusion appeared on Jasper’s face.

“Oh yeah, um, sorry, I forgot to tell you, he said they’ve called it a night,” he replied after a beat, turning to face me.

“Can you show me your phone?” I asked quietly.

“Huh?” Jasper replied, shocked. I was shocked I had asked to see it too.

“Your phone. Can I please see it?”


“Because I don’t think you were texting Derek,” I said, my voice calm and my gaze direct, but my heart beating furiously.

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“You’re being ridiculous,” Jasper said, looking me straight in the eyes. We never hid our phones from one another. We knew each other’s passcodes, and we would use whoever’s phone wasn’t streaming Spotify for Google Maps or to browse restaurant reviews or look things up, that kind of thing. But that night, his unwillingness to allow me to see his phone made me feel sick to the stomach.

“If you don’t let me see your phone, then it’s probably best if you stay at your place tonight,” I threatened, assuming he would hand the phone to me and this would all just be a big misunderstanding.

“But I haven’t seen you for two weeks,” Jasper said, now unable to look at me.

“Well, it’s up to you,” I said softly as I started walking towards my apartment.

He didn’t follow me.

That night, I lay staring at my ceiling for what felt like a hundred hours. The suitcase I had collected from the baggage carousel at JFK only a few hours before sat untouched on the floor. My jetlag mixed with this anxiety was a terrible concoction. The shadows from the headlights of the late-night traffic danced across my bedroom ceiling as unwanted thoughts invaded my mind. Out of nowhere, I had an image of the bottom drawer of my desk and in that moment I remembered that Jasper and I had upgraded our phones at the same time only a few months earlier and that our old phones were still in my desk.

Wearing just a pair of undies and one of his old T-shirts, I walked over to my desk. The cold surface of the chair pressed against the back of my thighs as I sat down and slowly pulled the bottom drawer open. It was like a mini-electrical cemetery, a mass of orphaned cords tangled around each other having long lost their mates, along with phones, international adaptors and an old external hard drive. I started to pull things out of the drawer and there it sat, face down in the clutter. Even his phone couldn’t look at me.

The few minutes it took for the phone to get enough charge to turn on felt like months. It was as though the universe was giving me one last opportunity to abort the mission but, in reality, I think it was the universe that had sent me the mental reminder of where his old phone was resting. The Apple logo finally appeared on the screen and my hands began to shake as I entered Jasper’s passcode. I took a sharp inhalation of breath as I started reading the messages. I don’t remember breathing out.