The Unwanted Wife

By: Natasha Anders

Chapter Three

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 realised that she wasn’t in the spare bedroom anymore. A quick glance around confirmed that she was back in the master suit and a glance down at the empty space beside 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 realised that she had slept to 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 around her. She stumbled a couple of steps 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 non-event. 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.

Now she was paying the price for all those missed meals. Heading for the shower she decided to treat herself to a decent brunch. Monday was the housekeeper’s day off and they had no other live-in staff so Theresa had the house to herself. She was looking forward to just spending the day on her own, trying to figure out what her next move would be. She couldn’t leave him and it seemed that he couldn’t leave her. So what now? Sighing she decided to switch off her brain until after she’d eaten lest she lose her appetite again.

Less than an hour later she was dry-heaving over the commode in the downstairs guest bathroom. Just the smell of frying bacon and eggs had been enough to set her off. After her stomach stopped revolting, she stumbled out onto the patio, as far away from the nauseating smell of cooked food as she could possibly get, and sank down onto a chaise longue overlooking the huge infinity swimming pool.

“No…” she whispered staring blindly at the edge of the pool, where the aquamarine water of the pool seemed to merge with the darker blue of the ocean and the cobalt blue of sky. “No no no no… no… please God! No…”

She buried her face in her hands and rocked back and forth slightly. Her system was just off-kilter because of the gut-wrenching events of the last forty-eight hours. Naturally she’d feel nauseous after not eating in so long. It was all perfectly logical… she was simply overreacting.

She couldn’t be this unlucky, not after finally making some kind of progress in achieving independence from this marriage. She tried to remember when her last period had been but she had been under a lot of stress lately and her period had been affected so that was not the most reliable way to gauge anything. She got up gingerly and was relieved when the movement didn’t upset her equilibrium, heading toward the kitchen, she braced herself for a fresh onslaught of nausea but thankfully her stomach stayed as steady as a rock. Breathing a sigh of relief, she headed toward the stove and picked up the pan, averting her eyes as she deposited the congealed mess that would have been her meal, into the waste disposal unit. She settled on black tea and dry toast instead determinedly putting her irrational fear of pregnancy out of her head.

After finishing the unappetizing meal, she headed for the bright, sunny attic which she had transformed into a workroom and put on some music while she immersed herself in her work. She so often lost herself up here, loving the serenity that usually came over her when she was working but today she just couldn’t concentrate. She had an image in her mind, knew what she wanted but she just couldn’t put it down on paper. She sat in front of her drawing board, staring at the fifth blank sheet of paper in half an hour, resting her elbow on the tilted board and her delicate chin in one hand as she stared at the paper and willed the image into existence. She raised her pencil, resting the nib on the paper, before sighing resignedly and shaking her head in frustration. She dropped the pencil and pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes.

“Theresa,” the quiet voice coming from behind her sent her flying out of her seat in alarm, she half-turned, half-crouched in a defensive position before she realised that it was Sandro’s voice. Of course that didn’t make her feel any safer than an unknown intruder would have done. He had both hands up, palms facing her, to keep her calm.

“Relax… I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you,” he soothed.

“Well, you did,” she retorted furiously. “Why on earth are you skulking around at home this time of day anyway? Usually you don’t get home until seven or eight.” He always left for work before seven in the morning and usually returned well after the time most “normal” husbands would come home.

“I thought that we could spend the afternoon together,” he muttered distractedly while his keen eyes absorbed every aspect of the room. He was walking around now, barely paying her any attention, lifting things, fiddling with her tools, until Theresa couldn’t take it anymore.

“Don’t touch that!” She snapped impatiently when he lifted a pair of cutters that had cost the earth to import.

“You design jewellery,” he whispered in astonishment, his eyes finally lifting to meet hers and Theresa’s own gaze fluttered away, while her cheeks fired with embarrassment.

“I know they’re no good,” she ventured nervously, waving at the large portfolio he had lifted from one of her other workstations: she had the drawing board for designing, a work table for actually making the jewellery, a small cutting table for cutting wire and shaping semi-precious stones and her desk which housed her laptop, for paperwork and correspondence. “And I know that I should not be wasting my time with it. But it’s just a hobby… so…” her voice petered off as he continued to flip through her portfolio with an absorbed frown, occasionally lingering on a page before moving on. She stood in front of him, fidgeting nervously, waiting for the scathing set down that would undoubtedly follow. He suddenly turned the open book toward her.

“This is your cousin’s engagement set,” he observed, tapping at the picture of the diamond and white gold earring, pendant and ring set she had made for Rick a few years before.

“Yes but they’re Rick’s design. I just made them.”

“I can tell they’re not your design. Your things are more…” he paused and Theresa braced herself. “Raw… elemental… why don’t you work with real gemstones, instead of semi-precious stones?”

“Uncut precious stones are insanely expensive. Semi-precious stones are cheap and easy to find and if they’re damaged in any way while I’m setting them, it’s no big deal.” He grunted again, obviously barely hearing her as he went back to flipping through her portfolio.

“And this is what you do all day?” He looked back up at her for confirmation.

“Well I can hardly sit around and twiddle my thumbs all day, can I?” She challenged and his eyes flickered slightly. She snorted disdainfully as she realised that that was exactly what he’d thought she did all day. He probably thought she spent her days shopping and lounging around in beauty salons.

“Why did I not know this about you?” He asked quietly and she shrugged.

“Just one more thing you never bothered to learn about me,” she said dismissively.

“Just one more detail you didn’t offer about yourself,” he responded fiercely and her eyes snared his in challenge.

“Would you have been interested if I’d told you?” He was honest enough to avert his gaze at the question and remained silent in response to it.

“How many of these have you sold?” He changed the subject, indicating toward her portfolio.

“None,” she shrugged. “The only jewellery in that portfolio that I don’t still have is the set I made for Rick and even those were just a favour.”

“But why keep them hidden?”

“They’re not good enough. Just a silly hobby, a waste of my time, really, I couldn’t compete with the real designers out there anyway.”

“It’s uncanny, I hear your voice but it’s like listening to your father speak. He told you that you weren’t good enough didn’t he? And you believed him?” He seemed uncharacteristically furious about that.

“No… yes… no… Look, I know that I’m not good enough; I have received no formal training. I printed stuff off of the Internet, did a bit of reading and started experimenting. I’m the only one who ever wears these and then only around the house!”

“I think that you should have Bryce Palmer or Pierre de Coursey have a look at these,” she fidgeted slightly, not entirely sure what to make of his sudden interest and praise.

“I wouldn’t want to waste their time, they’re busy men.” The two men he had referred to co-owned one of the most exclusive jewellery companies on three continents.

“I hardly think you’d be wasting their…”

“Look Sandro… just drop it, please,” she interrupted harshly and his eyes snapped up to her strained face. His own expression remained impassive and he shrugged carelessly before slowly closing the portfolio and placing it back onto her desk.

“Suit yourself,” he muttered, before continuing his amble around the room. She watched as he picked things up, inspected and replaced them. She remained seated, swivelling her desk chair every so often to keep him within sight. He eventually stopped his restless pacing to come to a standstill directly in front of her. She lowered her eyes to his expensive size eleven Italian loafers and fidgeted with the pencil she had picked up again.

She nearly leaped out of her skin and dropped the pencil with a muffled yelp when he captured her chin between his thumb and forefinger and gently tilted her face up until she raised her vulnerable gaze up to his unfathomable chocolate brown eyes. He let go of her chin to stroke the back of his hand down her soft cheek and she tried her best not to cringe from his touch but she wasn’t quite successful in masking her reaction because his eyes iced over and his hand dropped heavily back to his side.

“What other secrets are you keeping from me, I wonder?” He mused beneath his breath.

“I have no secrets,” she responded.

“What would you call this?” He indicated the room with a sweeping gesture and she laughed but there was absolutely no humour in the harsh and abrasive sound

“This was hardly a secret,” she shook her head bitterly. “If you’d come here at any time over the past year and a half, you would have known about this. I never lock the door… you were free to enter at any time.”

“Why would I have had any reason to come up here?” He asked in his most maddeningly pragmatic voice. “It’s hardly the most logical place for a workshop.”

“It’s also the one place I spend most of my time so of course you’ve never bothered to come up here,” she responded sarcastically. “You’ve never willingly sought me out before, Sandro… and I believe that the only reason you’re doing so now is because things aren’t going according to whatever Master Plan you have devised for this so-called marriage of ours. Pretending an interest in me is your latest way of trying to keep me compliant, isn’t it?”

“Stop trying to second guess me, cara,” he admonished gently. “You have no idea what makes me tick or what’s going on in my head.”

“Oh, I think I could definitely say the same about you. In fact I think I know you a lot better than you do me!”

“I doubt that,” he dismissed, dropping his hands into the trouser pockets of his tailor-made, expensive suit, half-reclining against her work table and crossing one long leg over the other in a pose of sartorial, casual elegance.

“Fine…” she tilted her head as she ran a contemptuous gaze over him. “How do I take my coffee?” He frowned at the question before shrugging carelessly.

“Black…” he stated with the utmost authority.

“No, you take yours black, I don’t drink coffee.”

“This is pointless,” he dismissed. “And juvenile…”

“Everything about me, or to do with me, is pointless to you,” she observed bitterly.

“That’s hardly…” he began but she interrupted him again, barely able to credit her own daring. She had never once stood up to him this way before but she was done being a doormat and just because she was trapped in this marriage at the moment did not mean she would to allow them to walk all over her anymore.

“Everything except my womb of course…” she laughed half-hysterically. “You have a lot of use for that! That’s all I am to you, a womb on legs!”

“You’re being ridiculous,” he scoffed.

“What about my birthday?” She asked suddenly, still ignoring him. “When’s my birthday?” His jaw clenched and he remained mute, keeping his eyes glued to hers.

“I see no need to prove myself in this way…”

“You can’t answer it, can you?” She challenged. “Yours is on the twenty-fifth of February. You have four older sisters, Gabriella, Sofia, Isabella and Rosalie, and a large extended family, you dislike spinach and are allergic to bees, you like…”

“Enough!” He sliced an impatient hand through the air in front of his face, cutting her off abruptly. “This is bordering on stalkerish and it proves nothing other than you possess a creepy excess of information about me, which I must admit, I am more than a little uncomfortable with.”

“Hardly stalkerish,” she shook her head. “I have been living with you for more than eighteen months and I loved you when I married you, I was interested in knowing you. These are the kinds of mundane facts married couples know about each other. Everything I know about you, I had to learn for myself, none of it was ever volunteered. You didn’t know about my hobby, or how I take my coffee, or birthday, is not because I’ve been secretive… I mean those things are hardly secrets, it’s because you were just not interested enough in getting to know me. That’s how it’s been for the last eighteen months and that’s how it still is, despite your sudden feigned interest in me.” He started to say something but she raised her hand to quieten him and was amazed when he actually shut his mouth.

“I know now that I wasn’t the bride you would have chosen for yourself,” she managed to say it despite the huge lump in her throat but she couldn’t meet his eyes as she acknowledged that painful fact. “You made that pretty clear on our wedding night and every day since then. But I think that at the very least, I deserved to be treated with some show of respect…” She bit her lower lip to stop its trembling and wrapped her arms around herself. He said nothing in response, just kept staring at her thoughtfully.

“I don’t really know what you want me to say,” he finally admitted and she smiled sadly.

“I know,” she acknowledged with a dip of the head. “That’s a major part of the problem.”

He unexpectedly shoved himself away from the table and took the couple of steps it required to bring him standing directly in front of her. He hovered threateningly above where she sat and Theresa tried her best not to cower beneath his brooding regard. He then surprised her even further by dropping to his haunches in front of her, placing his hands on the arms of her chair and trapping her in her seat.

“I may not know these things you asked of me, Theresa,” his sexy accent thickened as his voice dropped a few notches. “But I do know you…” She shook her head mutely; disconcerted by both his proximity and his direct stare. He was definitely not avoiding her eyes this time, his gaze just a frank and unflinching regard. She felt like a deer trapped in the headlights and she wanted to look away, she wanted to escape but she could barely breathe, much less avert her gaze.

He raised one hand and Theresa braced herself for his unwanted touch, desperate not to flinch. In the end, she still jumped slightly when his fingertips brushed across her lips.

“I know what makes you tremble with desire,” his voice had lowered even further, nothing more than a seductive rumble now and Lisa’s lips parted slightly. “I know where to touch, where to kiss, where to suck… I know how to make you moan, scream and cry out in ecstasy.

“That’s just sex,” she finally found her voice but hardly sounded convincing. He merely smiled, lifting his other hand until he had her face framed with his thumbs stroking across her cheekbones and his fingertips burrowing into the soft hair at her temples.

“It doesn’t solve anything,” she continued to protest, with the same lack of conviction as before.

“Maybe not,” he shrugged without concern. “But it feels fantastic…”

“But we don’t do it right,” she murmured, thinking about the fact that he’d never kissed her, not on the lips, not once… his fingers stilled and she realised, rather belatedly, that he may have misconstrued her comment, which was fine with her, if it meant that he would stop this blatant seduction of her senses.

“What do you mean?” She could tell how much it cost him to keep the affronted heat out of his voice.

“I always thought that one day I would make love with my husband,” she confessed on a whisper. “But we don’t do that, do we? We have sex… we…” she used a word that she had never in her life uttered before and Sandro flinched slightly in response to it, the soothing stroke of his fingertips stopped abruptly.

“Don’t use language like that,” he growled. “It doesn’t suit you!”

“Well, it’s what you once called it,” she defended herself hotly.

“I would never…”

“You did…” she interrupted what she knew would be a denial. “On our wedding night, after the first time…. I tried to… to…” she blushed as she remembered her naivety back then. She had reached over to snuggle with him and he had moved all the way to the edge of the bed in an effort to get away from her. “Well, anyway, you told me not to mistake what we did with any act of love. That it was much more basic than that. Just sex, you said, just… well… you know…”

His hands had dropped from her face to her shoulders and his eyes narrowed on her painfully humiliated face. His grip tightened on her shoulders and she squirmed slightly before it let up and he kneaded her shoulders slightly.

“Theresa, I was pretty hammered on our wedding night,” she nodded her eyes bright with tears as she remembered how long he had made her wait for him. Her innocent, eager anticipation had been dashed when the dignified, distant husband who had left her all alone in their hotel suite had returned three hours later, so drunk that he could barely hold himself upright. He had fallen onto the bed and immediately passed out, leaving Theresa shattered. Two hours later, his skilful hands on her body had brought her out of a restless doze and he had strummed at and played with her body like it was a finely-tuned musical instrument, making her a willing slave to his every command.

Such had been her response that it had barely registered that his lips hadn’t once touched hers. He had kissed just about every other part of her body and afterwards, while she strove to maintain the closeness between them, he had all-but destroyed her fragile spirit by denigrating the act. She could tell that Sandro was recalling the events of that night too and his eyes dropped to where her hands were still restlessly fidgeting with the pencil which had fallen into her lap. He dropped one huge hand over hers to stop the movement.

“I resented you very much,” he admitted. “Because I felt trapped…”

“Wrong tense, Sandro,” she whispered. “Your resentment is still very current.”

“Things change, Theresa.”

“Some things are inexcusable, Sandro,” she whispered painfully. “And unforgivable.”

“We’re not getting anywhere with this,” he growled in frustration and she dragged her hands out from under his.”

“That’s what I’ve been telling you for the last three days,” she pointed out and he bit off a curse before getting up abruptly. Theresa jumped up too, to avoid being intimidated by his height. But she had miscalculated, he was still too close to her and when she got up, her breasts brushed up the length of his body from groin to torso. They both immediately went still as awareness simmered between them. Theresa made a soft sound and attempted to put some distance between them but Sandro’s arms came up to circle her loosely, his hands meeting in the small of her back and the tips of his fingers just brushing against the slight swell of her backside. Her own hands came up to firmly brace against his chest, she wanted to push him away but somehow her hands were idly stroking instead of exerting any force.

His large hands moved down to fully cup her backside and he lifted her slightly until she could feel his sudden arousal. He lazily pushed himself against her, dipping his head until his mouth was next to her ear.

“Despite everything, cara, you want me,” he whispered, his breath hot and moist against her ear. “And God knows I want you too…”

“Just sex,” she protested weakly.

“Maybe,” he nibbled her earlobe gently, before moving down to nuzzle the sensitive spot just below her ear, something he knew made her crazy. It didn’t fail this time, as she gasped and wound her arms around his neck to push herself closer to his hard body. His tongue gently circled the highly-sensitive erogenous zone and Theresa moaned wanting more. His wicked, hot mouth moved down to her throat, licking, sucking and nibbling the exposed skin along the way. Theresa buried her face in his short, soft hair and muffled a moan of pure sizzling lust.

His hands were busily yanking her blouse out of the waistband of her skirt and they both groaned when his hands finally made contact with the naked skin of her back. He muttered something in Italian, before he swept his hands up to the clasp of her bra, unhooked it expertly and brought his hands around and under the lacy little B-cups. She cried out and arched violently against him when his thumbs found her sensitive nipples and he half-laughed, half-groaned at her wild reaction to his touch.

“I want you,” he whispered, his breath feathering against the skin of her neck, where he was nibbling gently. “How I want you!” She sobbed wishing she was more adept at resisting him but desperately wanting him too, despite her bitterness, her anger and her frustration. She nodded slowly, tears seeping from between her closed eyes and trickling down her cheeks.

“Please…” she didn’t know if she was begging him to stop or to continue but Sandro took it as an assent. One of his hands dropped from her breasts and tugged at her skirt until it was bunched up around her hips, her brief, lacy panties were swiftly dealt with and his hot, urgent fingers found her melting core with unerring accuracy, stroking, plunging and preparing her. Her hands dropped to his belt buckle and she fumble with the opening of his trousers until she held him captive in her hands. She did her own stroking and caressing, loving the familiar satiny feel of him, loving the heat, the hardness, the substantial size…

He made an animalistic sound, swinging her around and backing her up until she was leaning against the workstation he had so casually been half-sitting on before. He lifted her up until her backside was firmly planted on the desk and moved between her spread thighs. Tilting her pelvis slightly, until he had the angle just right, he finally, with a groan of pure satisfaction, sank into her soft, welcoming heat. Theresa’s breath hitched as she was, once again, caught by surprise by his length, girth and incredible hardness.

She lifted her slender legs and clasped them around his hips as, after the first gently thorough thrust, he simply rested against her. With his hands braced on the desk on either side of her hips, he lifted his head to look down into her eyes. Theresa was undone by that, as he had never simply just looked at her before, not in bed nor out of it. His dark eyes continued to search hers and she wondered what it was he was looking for. She licked her lips nervously and his gaze dropped to her mouth and something completely unrecognizable suddenly flared in his eyes and his pupils dilated until his eyes were virtually black.

Theresa’s breath was starting to come in little gasps as she tried to control her own need to move against him. Her hips gave the slightest twitch and she felt herself spasm around him. He hissed at the movement, his face clenching as he finally withdrew slightly, only to plunge back into her as if he couldn’t bear to leave. That was all it took for Theresa’s head to fall back limply and her mouth to open on a soundless scream of ecstasy. The record speed of her orgasm seemed to take Sandro by surprise, as well as, trigger his own. With a shocked sound and another half-thrust, he buried himself as deep as he could go, arching backwards in the process and coming violently. It seemed to last forever but eventually his entire body went limp and he half-collapsed against her, burying his face in her damp neck.

So stunned was Theresa by the unprecedented swiftness of the act, it couldn’t have lasted more than three minutes, that she nearly missed the words. In fact, she may have missed them entirely if she hadn’t felt his tell-tale breath on the sensitive skin of her neck. But he said them. The words were muffled but she knew exactly what he was saying. His mantra, his prayer…

“Give me a son, Theresa…” and just like that, it was over for her. Her legs fell away from his waist and she pushed at his chest until her levered himself up to look down at her curiously. He made a soft sound of protest when he saw the tears on her cheeks and attempted to fold his arms around her. Yet another unprecedented move but she shoved him again until he stepped away from her.

“Why are you crying?” He asked hoarsely as he readjusted his clothing.

“I hate you,” she despaired, dashing at the tears.

“What we just did didn’t feel like hatred to me,” he pointed out.

“Just another…” her mouth started to form the ugly word but he cut her off.

“Don’t say it,” he snapped. “Don’t you dare say it!”

“Why not?” She protested. “It’s the truth and don’t you try to pretend otherwise at this stage of our so-called marriage, Sandro. Do you think sex makes things better? It makes everything worse, like adding petrol to an already raging fire. All you’ve proved is that I am humiliatingly unable to resist you!”

“That is entirely mutual,” he responded dryly and she went still.

“Oh, please…” She choked. “Of course you can resist me. I’m just another woman to you. I’m of no particular consequence, so don’t try to play yet another game with me, Sandro! I’m sick of your lies and deceit.”

“Dio,” he hissed furiously. “You’re not just another woman, you’re my wife! You hold a position of great consequence in my life.”

“A wife you’re ashamed of? I don’t think so!”

“Whoever told you that I was ashamed of you?” He seemed outraged by the very notion.

“You did…”

“Theresa, everything else that you’ve accused me of so far has had some element of truth to it. But this is just plain ludicrous! I have never, not once, told you that I am ashamed of you…”

“You never said it; you didn’t have to…” she slid off the desk, making sure that her skirt was straight before looking up at him again. “You show me every day.”

“What?”

“I’ve never met your family, the large and extensive family that means the world to you, I know that you have two close friends, Rafael Dante and Gabriel Braddock, they’re university buddies if I’m not mistaken, you play football with them every week. You didn’t think I knew that, did you? I haven’t met any of those people of consequence in your life,” and there was Francesca, of course but Theresa wasn’t ready to confront him with that bit of knowledge yet. “They are the people who matter to you and if I’d been the wife you wanted, a wife you were not ashamed of, I would undoubtedly have met them by now!”

“It’s not like that,” he denied, almost stumbling in his haste to reach for her but she stepped away before he could touch her.

“Yes it is. Please don’t insult my intelligence by denying it…” she desperately looked around for her panties and finally saw them lying beside her drawing board. She very quickly swooped them up before turning back to face him.

“I need a shower,” she whispered bitterly. “You know what it’s like when you have an overwhelming urge to scrape the touch, the scent, the very essence of someone off of your skin, don’t you? After all, that’s what you usually do thirty seconds after your orgasm and I can finally relate to that” She turned and left the room before he had the opportunity to respond.

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