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The Unwanted Wife(9)

By:Natasha Anders

“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.

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 Phumsile’s day off, and they had no other live-in staff, so Theresa had the house to herself. She was looking forward to 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 actually 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 it wouldn’t translate to 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 with 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 realized 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. “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 walked around, 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 jewelry,” he whispered in astonishment, his eyes 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 jewelry, 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. 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, waiting for the scathing put 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 that 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 and elemental. Why don’t you work with real gemstones, instead of semiprecious stones?”

“Uncut precious stones are insanely expensive. Semiprecious 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, barely listening to 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, can I?” she challenged, and his eyes flickered slightly. She snorted disdainfully. 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 eyes at the question and remained silent in response to it.

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

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