Marriage and Miracles(4)

By: Miranda Lee

Gemma had gone off on her honeymoon with many warnings about Nathan ringing in her ears. Not too many people had been confident that their marriage would work out, their view being that Nathan had only married her for the sex.

They'd been right and they'd been wrong. Sex had played a big part in their relationship so far. This did not bother Gemma as much as Nathan's jealous possessiveness, plus his tendency to treat her as a naive child. His extreme cynicism was another bone of contention between them, along with his obvious inability to communicate with women on any other level than the physical.

But none of that meant he didn't really love her, Gemma kept believing staunchly. He just didn't know how to express that love any other way, or how to trust in it. Gemma believed that time would bring about the real intimacy and bonding she was looking for with Nathan. Time and love. She had no intention of giving up on her marriage at the first hurdle.

OK, so it was a pretty stiff hurdle. Not many wives would forgive their husbands falsely accusing them of unfaithfulness and then virtually raping them. But Gemma had, after all, been the first to point the finger in the matter of unfaithfulness. As for the rape.. .she understood why and how that had happened, and with the understanding had come forgiveness.

Nathan had gone crazy when he'd found her in Damian Campbell's bedroom. Fury had turned to a violent passion which had spun out of control

before he could stop himself. Maybe if she had struggled instead of lying there in stunned horror, Nathan might have stopped. As it was, his remorse afterwards had been a palpable thing, and while Gemma had been shocked and appalled at first, in the end she'd been able to put the unfortunate incident into perspective.

Which was just as well, since it was possible Nathan had started a baby in her that afternoon. He'd obviously forgotten that he'd asked her to throw away her pills the previous weekend. But throw them away she had.

Most women might have revolted at a rape making them pregnant. But once Gemma had found it in her heart to forgive Nathan, she'd been consumed by an amazing feeling of Tightness. It had also given her a way of getting her husband back. Hadn't he married Lenore—a woman he h adn't loved—on the strength of a pregnancy? Surely he'd come back to a wife he already loved if she was having his baby.

Which was why she was going to the post-premiere party tonight, hoping for an opportunity to seduce her husband, thereby increasing her chance of pregnancy, and at the same time freeing Nathan from having to accept that any baby she might have already conceived had been started on that awful afternoon. Gemma might have forgiven Nathan for the rape but it was clear to her that he hadn't forgiven himself. She was sure this was one of the reasons he was insisting on a divorce, because of his own self-disgust and guilt.

'It's not a very good photo of Lenore, is it?' Celeste suddenly commented, looking over Gemma's shoulder at the page across from the one she'd been staring blankly at.

Gemma refocused on the booklet in her lap and examined the photograph of the woman who was not only Nathan's ex-wife but also the leading lady in his new play.

Celeste was quite right. It was not a particularly flattering photo, though once again the black and white print did not do justice to Lenore's vivid beauty. In colour and in the flesh, Lenore was strikingly lovely, her bright red hair and flashing green eyes projecting a 'look-at-me' quality which no

doubt served her well as a stage actress. Gemma imagined that from the moment Lenore walked on stage, all eyes would turn to her as though magnetised.

Though going on thirty-five, Lenore looked much younger, her figure still as spectacular as her face, its model-slim tallness and elegance adding to her already captivating package. Gemma had always felt gauche by comparison. No matter how many people complimented her pretty face and eyes, no matter how many men ogled her voluptuous curves, Gemma only had to look at Nathan's wife to feel inadequate and inferior.

Lenore's stunning sex appeal was the main reason Gemma had been so quick to believe what she had believed last Sunday, which was that Nathan had spent the weekend with his ex-wife while she'd been out at Lightning Ridge trying to find some clues to her till-then missing mother's identity. When Gemma had come back unexpectedly early and found Lenore in their flat with Nathan, she'd been right and ready to misunderstand tragically the seemingly shocking conversation she had overheard.

If she'd had a little more faith in her husband's love, she would have stayed and found out that they'd been rehearsing a section of their play, not discussing their previous night's dalliance. Instead, Gemma had fled, eventually to the Campbell house, thereby putting into motion the awful circumstances that had led to Nathan assaulting her.

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