Marriage and Miracles(8)

By: Miranda Lee

mention directed. I wonder if he'd consider coming to Hollywood to direct the movie. What do you think, Byron?'

'You'll have to ask Nathan that. He's his own man. I presume he's here?'

Their host looked oddly disconcerted again. 'Er— ye s.. .yes, he is. Somewhere...'

'Perhaps we could go and find him, then?' Byron suggested, and Gemma's stomach clenched down hard. Suddenly, she didn't want to see Nathan. Not here. Not with a lot of other people around. She'd been stupid to come.

Her spirits sinking with each step, she followed the others down the wide tiled corridor to find herself eventually standing in an archway that overlooked a huge sunken living area full of laughing, talking, drinking, smoking partygoers. Music played in the background though only one couple was dancing. Lively conversation and thin cigarette haze filled the air.

The first person Gemma spotted was Lenore, who was standing, arm in arm with her leading man, surrounded by a rather large group of people. Everyone was drinking champagne and generally looking very happy and excited. When Lenore spotted Gemma too, her first reaction was a worried frown and a darting glance down the other end of the room. Gemma's eyes followed, and what she saw made her breath catch in her throat and her insides flip right over.

Nathan was sitting on a large padded leather sofa. And the beautiful blonde curled up next to him was hardly acting like a platonic acquaintance. She was all over him like a rash and Nathan wasn't warding her off.

Gemma's mouth went dry as she watched her husband bend forward to pick up a drink from the table in front of them, laughing and smiling with his companion as they shared the glass. When he brushed his companion's hair with his lips Gemma was almost sick on the spot. Suddenly, he looked up over the blonde's head, straight at the archway then straight into Gemma's appalled face. Without acknowledging her, he looked away and started

talking to the couple seated on an adjacent sofa, his arm still firmly around the blonde's shoulder.

'Who the hell is that with Nathan?' Celeste snapped from where she was standing between Gemma and Byron.

'Her name is Jody Something-or-other,' Byron grated out. 'She's one of the understudies.'

'I'd hoped I got the wrong idea earlier,' Cliff muttered on the other side of Byron. 'Clearly I hadn't.'

'Gemma, darling,' Celeste said abruptly, grabbing her daughter by the shoulders and dragging her back out of sight. 'Why don't I take you home? You can see for yourself Nathan doesn't want a reconciliation. Don't belittle yourself by trying. Please.'

Having snapped out of her shocked reaction, Gemma's logical brain jolted into gear. What she'd seen with her eyes didn't make sense. Nathan loved her, not some strange woman. In that case, what was he doing, draped all over her like that and doing something as intimate as sharing a drink, not to mention kissing her hair?

Every instinct told her to flee. But she'd run away once before when things looked bad and look what had happened!

'I...I have to talk to him.'

'Not in there, for pity's sake,' Celeste said, nodding towards the crowded and quite noisy room. She turned to her host, her voice assertive. 'Cliff, you must have a quiet room near by where Gemma could speak privately with Nathan.'

'Yes, of course!'

Gemma was ushered back down the corridor and through a door into a darkly furnished study-cum- library, where she waited with Celeste while Byron went to get Nathan. A lingering nausea continued to swim in her

stomach as she tried desperately to get a grasp on the situation. But it was beyond her.

Nathan came into the room alone, looking elegantly cool in his black dinner suit, not the slightest bit perturbed at having to face his estranged wife.

'You wanted to see me, Gemma?' he drawled with an indifference that stunned her.

'You unfeeling bastard,' Celeste bit out. 'We saw you just-now with that little tramp.'

Icy grey eyes turned her way. 'Watch your mouth, Celeste. Jody is no tramp. And I should know. I've seen plenty of the real thing. I'm looking at one right now.'

'Nathan!' Gemma gasped, appalled by such open rudeness.

'It's all right, Gemma,' Celeste said sharply. 'I can take care of myself. Now you listen to me, you creep! For some weird and wonderful reason which eludes me, Gemma here still loves you, and believes you still love her. Or she did till she saw that lovely little scenario out there with that blonde! But you and I know what you are, don't we? You're not fit to be the husband of a lovely young girl like this. Why don't you do her a favour? Get the hell out of her life and stay out of it!'

'Celeste, please,' Gemma groaned, clasping her hands to the sides of her head.

'I'd like to do exactly that, Celeste,' Nathan snarled. 'Your precious daughter just isn't getting the message. Why in God's name you allowed her to come here tonight is beyond me. I don't want her back. I want a divorce. What more is there to be said?'

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