The Unwanted Wife(8)

By: Natasha Anders


            But what was supposed to happen to her and the baby once Sandro had fulfilled his end of the bargain? Would he leave and forget about them? The one thing she had never doubted was that if Sandro wanted a son, he would love the child. Now she wasn’t even sure of that! Sandro seemed to despise her so much she now knew that even though any baby they had would carry his name, it would ultimately be neglected and unloved by its father just like she had been by hers. She couldn’t allow that to happen and this made her even more determined not to have a child.

            As for her father’s role in all this, she certainly knew why he wanted a grandson. He had always bemoaned his lack of male progeny to carry on his line and his business. Theresa had never been good enough to inherit, which he had always made quite clear, but she had never grasped how far he would go to ensure a male heir. It was all so archaic.

            Theresa was so wrapped up in her painful thoughts that it took her a while to register the low buzzing in her ear and realize that the two men had disconnected their call. She very carefully, as if it were the most fragile thing in the world, replaced the receiver in its cradle and sat quite still for a long time before suddenly exploding into action and dashing to the en-suite bathroom, where she violently threw up the meager portion that she had had for breakfast.

            After she was done she rinsed her mouth, headed back to the bedroom, and crawled to the center of the huge bed. She sat there with her knees drawn up to her chest and her face buried in her hands, too hurt to even cry. She was shaking so badly that her teeth were chattering. She didn’t know what to do or where to turn. She needed to get out of this situation, as far away from both men as she possibly could. Possible solutions and scenarios kept marching their way through her traumatized mind, but nothing viable presented itself. There was still Sandro’s threat against Lisa’s business to consider; she also had no real money of her own and she knew that with their considerable resources, her father and husband would find her before she could get very far.

            She was still mulling it over when a soft knock sounded on the bedroom door. It swung open before she could respond, and her big, dark, beautiful husband stood framed in the doorway. His eyes swept over her small and disheveled form as she sat in the middle of the bed with her arms wrapped around her knees.

            “You’ve been in here for nearly three hours, Theresa,” he said in a quiet voice. It was the kind of voice one would use when talking to an unbroken, high-strung horse. Three hours? Theresa hadn’t known that it had been that long, and when she moved, her muscles screamed in protest. She gingerly and with visible effort stretched her arms and legs, trying not to wince in agony as her blood started circulating more freely.

            “I lost track of time,” she murmured, padding over to the mirror to check her appearance. She sighed when she saw her reflection. She looked terrible. She had never considered herself more than average-looking, and she looked far below average today. There were shadows under her green eyes, her skin was unnaturally pale and gave her a washed-out appearance that made her red hair and green eyes look garish in comparison.

            She wondered how she could ever have believed a man like Sandro De Lucci would want her in the first place. She tried to view her features objectively, but all she could see were too-large eyes framed by long, red eyelashes; a straight nose that wasn’t too big or too small; high cheekbones that sometimes made her face look gaunt when she was tired; and lips that looked too big for her narrow oval face. Nothing impressive—just an ordinary face that looked tired and strained at the moment. She pushed her long hair out of her eyes and was startled when Sandro’s reflection appeared in the mirror behind her.

            “I’m going to visit Lisa,” she told him.

            “Why?” he asked sharply, and she shrugged.

            “Something to do,” was her casual response.

            “I thought…” He hesitated and Theresa’s eyes snapped up to his face in surprise. The hesitation was so unusual in her supremely confident husband. “I thought that we could go out somewhere and have lunch together. We haven’t done that in a while.”

            “Try never,” She half laughed incredulously, and his brows beetled slightly.

            “Of course we have…” he began.

            “Once.” She nodded. “About a month before we were married. I remember that once quite vividly because I felt like a heroine in my own personal fairy tale. The giddy, foolish, and not-quite-so-fair maiden having a meal with her dark, brooding, and oh-so-handsome prince. Some prince! You couldn’t be bothered to string together two sentences the entire time and checked your watch every five minutes like you had someplace much more important to be. But of course, I didn’t care, that was just the way you were and I ‘loved’”—she said the word with a sneer—“you anyway. We never went out again after that.”

            “Of course we did.” Despite his assertion, he looked remarkably uncomfortable. He shifted his shoulders restlessly and shoved his hands into his jean pockets.

            “Those other times were work-related dinners, the ones that you have to take your wife to.” He frowned even more but chose not to respond to her statement.

            “Well, then, I’d say it’s about time we went out together, don’t you?” he asked in an artificially cheerful voice, and Theresa slanted her head as she tried to read his expression. As usual he was giving nothing away. Her lips tilted slightly in a cynical and unamused smile.

            “I don’t think so, Sandro.” She shook her head. “I think I’ll go to my cousin’s place like I’d originally planned.” He nodded thoughtfully, swaying back and forth on his heels in an uncharacteristically restless manner.

            “Suit yourself.” He shrugged. “What time were you planning to leave?”

            “Soon.”

            “Right.” He shrugged again, looking strangely awkward. “See you later then.” She nodded and he turned away and left without saying another word.




            Rick and Lisa were doing nothing more productive than watching DVDs when Theresa came around. Lisa, in her advanced state of pregnancy, couldn’t do much else. They were both lounging in the den, Rick looking devastatingly handsome in a snug, well-worn pair of jeans and a gray T-shirt that had definitely seen better days. Lisa, in the meantime, looked miserable in a huge blue-and-white-striped football jersey that Theresa knew had once belonged to Rick, who was a capable Sunday-afternoon player, and a pair of blue leggings. She was about the size of a baby whale. Theresa simply melted when she caught sight of her cranky younger cousin and once again resolved not to do anything to jeopardize her happiness and health. She dropped a kiss on Lisa’s cheek and one on the top of Rick’s head as she passed behind the sofa on which they were sitting. Rick grinned up at her.

            “Nothing exciting planned for today, sweetie,” he informed cheerfully as Theresa sank down onto the other sofa. “I’m afraid we’re feeling a bit out of sorts today, a touch grumpy, if you will. So we’re staying in, in the hopes that it will improve our temper…Ouch!” The last uttered as Lisa swatted him on the back of his head.

            “Stop talking like that, you know it drives me crazy! I’m not a two-year-old throwing a tantrum, I’m the hormonal woman that you knocked up! So don’t push me, buster.”

            Rick slanted a rueful gaze at his amused friend and mouthed a wisely silent “See?” Theresa grinned before kicking off her shoes and dragging her feet up under her. She was dressed casually too, wearing an old pair of jeans and a bright-blue T-shirt with a large, stylized butterfly printed on the front of it.

            “What are we watching?” Theresa asked, leaning forward to help herself to a handful of the popcorn from a glass bowl on the coffee table.