Marriage and Miracles(10)

By: Miranda Lee

Gemma stared up at him with her mouth agape and her head whirling.

'Didn't you hear me, you silly little bitch?' he snarled. 'Get out! And take your naiveté with you. I have no patience with it any more. I should never have damned well married you in the first place and nothing you or anyone else can say will stop me divorcing you!'

Gemma stumbled over to the door where she gripped on to the knob with a white-knuckled intensity. But she did not turn that knob. She dragged some deep, steadying breaths and, when she felt enough in control, slowly turned to face her husband once more.

'Just tell me one thing before I go,' she said.

'What?' he snapped, scowling over at her.

'If you never loved me, and didn't believe I loved you, then why did you marry me? You could have had me without marrying me. You did have me without marrying me!'

His sardonic laugh increased her confusion, and her pain. 'So I did. And you were enchanting, my dear. So enchanting that I thought I wanted you in my bed for forever and exclusively. I was even prepared to let you have a child to keep you there. Foolish of me, I realise. But even a mature man can be made a fool of when in the grip of a sexual obsession. Frankly, I was still quite enamoured of your charms when fate stepped in and sent you racing off to Campbell Court, which is why I reacted so poorly to finding you in Damian Campbell's bedroom.'

'But I wasn't sleeping in there!' she cried. 'How many times do I have to tell you that I never went to bed with Damian?'

'As I said before, dear heart,' Nathan drawled, 'I no longer care whether you did or not. My maniacal appetite for youth and innocence seems to have been cured somewhere along the line. Perhaps you saw the cur^ yourself with me earlier? She's thirty-three, blonde and very, very inventive.'

Gemma stared at him before shaking her head in a blank and bleak disbelief. 'I never really knew you, did I?' she said dazedly. 'Damian did. He said you were bad. I should have believed him.'

Angry grey eyes snapped back to hers. 'Why didn't you, then?'

'Because I stupidly believed you loved me,' she countered, her agony switching to outrage. 'I stupidly believed in you!'

'Yes, that was stupid, I'll grant you that.'

Gemma could only keep shaking her head at him. 'You don't have any conscience at all where women are concerned, do you? You're like that hero in your play. Sex and lust are all there is for you. You probably did sleep with Irene as Damian said you did.'

Nathan smiled a smile that sent a shiver down Gemma's spine.

'You know, some day that bastard is going to get his just deserts.'

'I suppose you're going to say he's lying about that as well,' she said bitterly.

'Not if agreeing I went to bed with Irene will get you out of that door and out of my life.'

Gemma blinked her shock.

'Oh, for God's sake,' he swept on irritably. 'Of course I didn't sleep with that pathetic bitch. Give me some credit for taste! But I dare say you won't believe me. If you did, that would mean your precious uncle must have lied to you.'

'I...I suppose Irene could have lied to him about it,' Gemma said hesitatingly.

'Good thinking, Gemma,' he praised, but in a mocking tone. 'Amazing how one and one doesn't always make two, isn't it? Sometimes you have to look outside the dots.'

Gemma frowned. 'And should I look outside the dots with you, Nathan? Could you be driving me away because you think it's for my own good, that you're no good for me?'

His laughter was dark but not without humour. 'That's so splendidly noble. I wish I could embrace it! But that would be lying, my darling,' he said, walking towards her with such a wicked glitter in his eyes that she shrank back against the wall next to the door.

'Don't touch me,' she whispered.

Nathan's raised eyebrows were pure sarcasm. 'Don't touch you? A few minutes ago you were dying for me to touch you. What's happened to change that, I wonder? Are you beginning to doubt my sense of honour? Are you afraid that at any moment I might change into the animal of the other day?'

'I'm not afraid of you, Nathan,' she lied bravely.

'Then you should be,' he warned in a raw whisper. 'Because if you stay here any longer, Gemma, my sweet, I might set about really corrupting you, just for the hell of it!'

Gemma stared at him, appalled at this dark stranger who had been her husband but whom she did not know.

'Too late,' he mocked. 'I withdraw the offer. Besides, I just remembered I promised Jody a night of indefatigable energy. If I use some of it up on you, darling, I just won't have enough to go around.'

Gemma's hand came up and slapped him. His head jerked back and a red mark immediately stained his cheek, but he made no move to retaliate, merely rubbed his cheek and smiled a faintly wry smile. 'Feel better now?' he taunted softly.

'I hate and despise you, Nathan Whitmore,' Gemma rasped, her voice shaking. 'How you can look yourself in the mirror in the morning, I have no idea. I came here to this party tonight hoping that we could get back together again. I was prepared to forgive you everything because I thought you loved me, and because I loved you. But I don't love you any more. I refuse to love someone so unworthy of being loved.'

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