Bedded for Passion, Purchased for Pregnancy(3)

By: Carol Marinelli

Her bedroom was exactly the same as it had been seven years ago, when she’d left home to go to university to study art. Emma loved coming back and staying in her old room, amongst her old familiar things, but this evening she eyed it somewhat critically, wondering what Zarios would make of the paintings that adorned the walls, the curtains she had tye-died herself when she was twelve, the tatty overfilled bookshelves and the dressing table laden with childhood photos.

Emma had always intended to wear something nice for her father’s special night. Her tiny broom cupboard of an art gallery was in Chapel Street in Melbourne, and as well as her gallery the street boasted an array of designer boutiques. Slipping on the cerulean blue dress, Emma wondered what on earth had possessed her. It had caught her eye in the window—the shade of blue almost a replica of the view of the bay from her parents’ balcony. The price had been an instant dissuader, yet the assistant had suggested Emma at least try it on. Staring at her reflection, Emma let her teeth worry away at her bottom lip as she wondered if it wasn’t just a bit too much.

Or too little!

An inch shorter than she would have preferred, it clung provocatively in all the wrong places. Her bottom surely appeared massive, and her breasts as if they had instantly gone up a size, where the feather-light wool caressed her figure, only loosening its grip at mid-thigh, then hanging innocently, yet flaring as smoothly as a trumpet bell as she walked.

It was, quite simply, divine.

Worthy, Emma told herself as she pulled a shoebox from her case, of the horribly expensive strappy sandals she’d bought to go with it. Worthy of the hours of buffing and polishing her body had endured—and her first visit to a tanning parlour.

Running her ceramic straighteners for the final time over her long blonde hair, she stopped worrying her bottom lip and applied a final layer of lipgloss instead, thanking the gods who had looked after her these past days, who must have known that Zarios D’ Amilo would be coming tonight, and had, unbeknown to Emma, insisted that she look her best for the embarrassing task of facing him again after all these years.

Emma picked up one of the photos on her dressing table and stared at the wedding group. Even though it was ridiculous, even though it was only a photo, still she blushed as she looked into Zarios’s serious dark eyes.

She’d been nineteen…

A young and extremely naive nineteen-year-old, she had been dressed up like a vast pink blancmange, as bridesmaid at Jake’s wedding.

Zarios had been invited. He’d only been in Australia a few weeks back then, and his accent had been so heavy and rich Emma had struggled to understand his words—except she could have listened to him talk for ever. Put simply, he had been the most stunning man she had ever seen. The whole wedding had passed in a dizzy blur until finally, dutifully, he had danced with her. And because it had been Zarios D’Amilo holding her, and she’d had rather too much champagne, Emma had promptly fallen in lust.

Shoving the photo in a drawer, she turned it face-down and covered it with the drawer’s contents, then slammed it closed. The last thing she wanted was for Zarios to see it—for Zarios to recall her exquisitely embarrassing mistake. But even with the photo safely tucked away Emma was struggling to beat her blush, struggling to banish the image of the two of them dancing that night. Zarios had lowered his head to say something and stupidly, blindly, she’d misinterpreted the action, closed her eyes and, lips poised, waited expectantly for him to kiss her.

Even six years on she burnt with the shame of the memory.

Could still hear his deep, throaty laugh as he’d realised what she thought he had intended.

‘Come back when you’re all grown up…’ He’d smiled at her and patted her bottom as the music had ended, merrily sending her on her childish way. ‘Anyway, my father would never forgive me.’

He’d probably forgotten, Emma consoled herself.

With all the women he’d dated, as if he’d remember a teenager’s clumsy attempt at extracting a kiss. Anyway, she was six years older now and light years wiser—she could see a man like Zarios exactly for what he was: a player.