Reluctant Wife(9)

By: Lindsay Armstrong





She raised her head and looked away, but something seemed to clear in her mind and she said with an effort ‘I’d like to thank you for everything. And also,’ her voice sank, ‘try to make up for being… idiotic. So yes, I would like you to.’



Adam was silent for so long she felt her nerves tightening almost unbearably.



But it got worse as he said drily, ‘Well, that’s a new twist. How do you think you’ll feel about that in the morning?’



Her eyes widened. ‘What do you mean?’



A smile that didn’t reach his eyes twisted his lips. ‘I mean, do you think it will ease the way you normally feel? Will you be able to … say, see it in another light? As if you were paying your dues, so it was different?’



She stared at him and dimly began to realise she had made an awful mistake.



‘Roz?’



She licked her lips and a pulse started to beat erratically at the base of her throat.



Adam made an impatient sound as she tried to speak, but twisted her hands together instead.



‘Do you think I don’t know how you feel in the mornings?’ he queried harshly. ‘You hate yourself and you hate me, although God knows why. But you see,’ he smiled grimly, ‘I know you better than you know yourself, I sometimes think, and being grateful isn’t going to make it any more acceptable to you for long, Roz. Nor me. I’d far rather you were honest with me. In fact, that’s the only thing I’m prepared to accept from you now, Roz. So goodnight, my dear, but of course if you can’t sleep don’t hesitate to call and I’ll get you something.’



She stumbled off the bed. ‘You’re right—I do. I hate you!’ she stammered, but clenched her fists because she knew without a doubt that he wouldn’t be nearly so gentle with her this time if she hit him. And she was shocked that she should want to again, and so soon.



What’s happening to me? she wondered despairingly.



Then she realised that he was waiting for her to go on and watching her carefully but quite dispassionately. And that the light from his bedroom was striking through her nightgown so that it looked about as substantial as moonlight and so that her high, pointed breasts, tiny waist, hips and slender legs were outlined clearly.



She turned away abruptly and defensively, and instantly felt incredibly foolish. Because it wasn’t as if he didn’t know every square inch of her body, hadn’t handled it with those long, strong expert hands, and much, much more.



Roz closed her eyes and felt a flood of heat suffuse her from head to toe at the way he could make her feel just by touching her, just by looking at her, if one were to be honest. And how she could fall asleep in his arms afterwards as if she never suffered from recurring nightmares and sometimes did anything to keep herself awake so that her insomnia had become a vicious circle but …



‘All right,’ she swung back to face him, ‘so what if everything you say is true? I can’t help it and I can’t change it. Don’t think I haven’t tried—I have. The thing is, if you really must know, I feel like a … like a kept woman, and I thought it might be appreciated if I earned my keep for a change Adam!’ She took a step backwards in sudden fright, but he made no move, although his mouth had set pale and taut and a nerve flickered suddenly in his jaw.



But then he drawled, ‘My, my, you have grown up, Roz! Two years ago I doubt if you’d have known what that meant.’



‘I wasn’t that naïve,’ she said, flushing. ‘But I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that. It was ridiculous and melodramatic.’



‘But honest.’



‘You said that’s what you wanted,’ she whispered.



‘Go on.’



She lifted her shoulders in a helpless little gesture. ‘We both know why you married me. Because I was in so much trouble …’



‘Yes, you were, Roz,’ he interrupted, but his voice had changed and he looked suddenly more weary than anything else.



‘You don’t have to keep reminding me …’



‘Do I do that? I can’t remember referring to it constantly. It’s you who keeps remembering my iniquities. How I married you to get my hands on a horse, how I tore you away from the love of your life … ’



‘Adam’ she broke in anguishedly, ‘I never believed that about Nimmitabel or Michael. But it was a marriage of … of …’



‘Convenience?’ he supplied sardonically.



‘Yes. I had all those problems. You said that after your first marriage you’d grown cynical about love, etcetera, but you wanted a family …’

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