Bedded for Passion, Purchased for Pregnancy(9)

By: Carol Marinelli

‘Because if I don’t get this sorted Beth will leave. Listen, Emma…’ He dragged a hand through his hair. ‘She hasn’t worked in years, she moans about money all the time, and yet she does nothing to help out…’

‘She’s got two-year-old twins!’ Emma pointed out angrily. ‘Surely that’s work enough?’

‘Emma.’ He dropped his voice so low she had to strain to catch it. ‘Don’t tell Mum and Dad—I don’t want to worry them—but we’re having problems with the twins…’ As Emma bit on her lip, he continued. ‘Behavioural problems. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t bring them tonight. Beth has no control—she can’t even manage to get them dressed before lunch. You don’t know what it’s like, living with her. She doesn’t lift a plate, she’s at home all day and I’m still having to pay for a cleaner…Emma, if you don’t help me and I lose the house, you can guarantee I’ll lose the twins, too. Can you imagine Mum and Dad…?’

‘You have to tell them, Jake,’ Emma pleaded. ‘You say it isn’t gambling this time?’

‘It isn’t!’ Jake promised. ‘Just a lousy call on the stockmarket. Emma, it would kill Mum and Dad. They’re so…’

‘Proud?’ Emma spat, because at this very moment she hated him—and hated, too, how easily her parents were fooled by him. Jake the golden boy. Jake the one with the real job. Jake who had given them the twins. Poor, responsible Jake, with his moody, depressed wife.

If only they knew.

‘I’m due for a massive bonus at the end of June. If I don’t tell Beth about it, I can pay you back then.’

‘Lie to her again, you mean?’

‘Help me, Emma.’

‘I’ll think about it.’

‘Emma, please.’

‘I’ll think about it!’ she said again, and it was the best she could offer.

Upset, worried, she marched out of the study, trying to get her head together before she faced the party that was still going on.

‘Hey!’ Zarios stepped back as she practically collided with him.

‘Sorry…’ Emma gave a quick shake of her head. ‘I wasn’t looking where I was going.’

‘I’m trying to find where they put our cases. My father needs one of his tablets.’

‘Of course.’

Flustered, Emma led him to the guestroom, her mind reeling too much from Jake’s confession for her to be embarrassed at being alone upstairs with Zarios.

‘They’re not here.’ She scanned the bedroom. ‘They must be in my room…where you’re sleeping,’ Emma added as he followed behind.

‘How very open-minded of your parents!’

‘Daughter not included!’ Emma gave a tight, distracted smile as she flung her bedroom door open. ‘There they are. I’d better go down—the cake should be coming out soon.’

‘Are you okay?’

No, she wanted to scream, but knew she couldn’t. She just gave him a worried, confused nod.

‘I’m fine.’

‘If you want to talk…’

‘Why would I talk to you?’ Emma challenged. ‘I hardly know you!’

‘That can be sorted.’ He gestured to the bedroom, but on turning back to her immediately Zarios shook his head at her stunned expression. ‘I meant we could talk in private here…’

Only a fool would walk into a bedroom with Zarios and expect conversation! But for a second she was tempted.

Tempted to push his arrogant, testosterone-loaded body into the dark space. Tempted to be daring and wicked and reckless and…her rabid mind flailed as it tried to come up with the word—bad.

To for once be irresponsible—and, yes, very, very bad.

Only it wasn’t Emma.

‘As I said.’ Ever the dutiful daughter, she gave him a brittle smile, then turned on her new and starting to rub high heels. ‘They’ll be bringing out the cake soon.’

She wished they would bring out the cake.

There was the most appalling lull—but only Emma seemed to notice.

The dance floor was still heaving with couples, the tables filled with chatting and laughing groups, but despite her best efforts to join in with a couple of conversations it was hard going.