The Unwanted Wife(10)

By: Natasha Anders

            “Of course you know nothing about me.” Her voice was hoarse with the effort it took not to scream at him. “You’re the one who decided, even before we got married, that there was nothing worth knowing about me.”

            “Well, I’ve changed my mind.” He didn’t bother to deny her accusation, probably because it was true. Instead he dropped his hands down to her narrow shoulders and gave her a little shake.

            “Which once again begs the question of why, after eighteen months of marriage, why now?”

            His hands fell from her shoulders before he shrugged with an air of disinterest, which belied his urgency of just seconds ago.

            “Why not now? Now’s as good a time as any.” He was back to being remote and icy and Theresa shuddered involuntarily.

            “It’s much too late, Sandro,” she whispered, wrapping her arms around her slender frame. “I may be trapped in this marriage, but I want nothing to do with you! The very sight of you makes me sick to my stomach.”

            “There’s a way out of this you know,” he murmured.

            “I know,” she said, and his hooded eyes snapped back up to her face. “Have a baby, right? You want a son and I’m the chosen incubator.” She watched his face carefully, but he betrayed not one iota of emotion other than a slight tightening of his jaw. “So what happens after I have this precious baby of yours? Who gets him after the divorce? You expect me to be nothing but a surrogate mother. I’m to bear him and you’ll then take him away from me, right?”

            She was aching to hear an affirmative from him, anything that would prove to her that he was the one who wanted the child and that she had misunderstood the conversation she had overheard between her husband and her father that morning.

            “Of course I wouldn’t take him from you.” He shook his head, sending her heart plummeting. “I wouldn’t be that cruel. Naturally you’d maintain custody.” Theresa shut her eyes to shield her agony from him, and she felt her scalding tears seep down her cheeks.

            “How very…magnanimous of you,” she whispered. “To be so desperate for something only to give it up in the end. You’re so much more generous than I gave you credit for. How often would you want to see him?”

            “I would naturally move back to Italy, so I would probably see him two or three times a year. It is what you want, no? Less contact with me?”

            She inhaled deeply and her brow furrowed. Two or three times a year? That was all the time he was prepared to spend with a child who was half hers? She opened her eyes and met his gaze squarely.

            “Like I said before, you’re being quite generous, but it’s all moot anyway because I have no intention of having a baby with you!”

            “You’re being very childish, Theresa,” he admonished quietly.

            “No, I’m finally making my own decisions. Up to this point in my life, everything has been decided for me…this marriage would never have happened if my father hadn’t decided that you would make the perfect son-in-law. After that, the wedding date, the venue, the cake, where we would live…it was all you or my father. I couldn’t even choose my own wedding dress.” The last emerged in a small, broken voice that quavered with remembered disbelief and outrage. Her father had simply had the dress delivered to her room with the direction that it was to be worn on her wedding day, no discussion and no choice.

            “The only reason I got Lisa as a bridesmaid was because my father deemed it appropriate for my first cousin to be in the wedding party. If she’d been just a friend, I doubt she’d have fit the bill!”

            “It turns my stomach to hear someone who has led such a privileged life whine on about how terrible her life is. You’ve been spoiled and you’ve had everything money could buy…”

            “Except love, specifically my husband’s love and my father’s love. Apparently I’m not quite worthy of that.”

            “You’re feeling sorry for yourself and I’m getting sick of it.”

            “Yes, I’m feeling sorry for myself,” she acknowledged bitterly. “And it’s very liberating. In the past all I’ve done is accept everything you and my father dished out…thinking it was my lot in life, even thinking I deserved it. After all, if two such powerful men as you thought that I wasn’t worthy of love and respect, then who was I to differ? But I’m starting to recognize that I’m not the one at fault here. I’m not the one with the personality defect…at least my motives for marrying you were honest; I stupidly believed that I loved you. Yours were less than stellar, weren’t they? They certainly had nothing to do with love.”

            “They had everything to do with love,” he suddenly thundered, silencing her abruptly as she stared up at him in wide-eyed shock. “Just not love for you.” She blinked up at him, her green eyes the only color in her deathly pale face.

            “What does that mean?” she asked through barely moving lips. “Love for whom?” Was he referring to Francesca? If he really loved the other woman so much, why on earth marry Theresa? It made no sense.

            “None of your damned business,” he grated furiously, a muscle working frantically in his jaw.

            “It never is.” She nodded bitterly. “It has nothing to do with me, yet it affects every aspect of my life. You want something from me but you’re unable to give me anything in return. Well, I’ve had enough of that, Sandro. You want a baby but this is my body and so it’s my decision to make.”

            “I’m your husband…”

            “No. You are not my husband,” she interrupted in a voice thickened with hatred and tears. “You have never been my husband. A husband loves, honors, and cherishes. A husband is a lover and a champion. Look into the next room if you want to see what a real husband is, because you are no such thing!” He reeled away from her, looking like a man who’d just been bitten by his favorite pet, and she pushed herself away from the fridge to brush past him.

            “Theresa, wait…” He grabbed one of her arms to prevent her from running off.

            “I have to go, please tell Rick and Lisa that…”

            “No,” he interrupted gently. “You stay. This is your family. You are right, this is your place and I should not have intruded. I’m sorry.” His eyes skirted away from hers as he apologized and Theresa’s jaw dropped at his second apology in twenty-four hours. She felt certain that the world would grind to a halt at any moment. “I will leave now…it is how it should be.” With that he dropped her arm and walked out, leaving her to stare after him in confusion.


            The house was dark and quiet when she got home, with no seething Sandro waiting at the front door this time, just echoing silence as she made her way upstairs and back into the spare bedroom. After a hot shower, she collapsed into bed and didn’t stir until the following morning, when she woke to bright sunlight. She sat up in confusion as she tried to get her bearings and saw that she wasn’t in the spare bedroom anymore. She was back in the master suite and a glance down at the empty space next to her confirmed that Sandro had indeed slept beside her. She peeked down at herself and was relieved to note that she still had on the T-shirt she had worn to bed.

            She checked the clock and groaned when she discovered that she had slept till nearly ten in the morning. Pushing the tumbled mass of her hair out of her face, she got up and was alarmed when the room started spinning wildly. She stumbled forward before reaching for the headboard of the bed and steadying herself. She frowned slightly as she tried to recall the last time she had had a decent meal…definitely not the previous day’s breakfast, which had come back up after that overheard phone call, or lunch, which had been spoiled by Sandro’s appearance at Rick and Lisa’s place, and dinner had been a nonevent. Even though Rick and Lisa had urged her to eat the night before, Theresa just could not stomach the thought of food after the day she’d had! Saturday had been much of the same; all she’d had to eat was popcorn at the movies.