Marriage and Miracles(9)

By: Miranda Lee

'There's plenty more to be said!' Gemma suddenly burst out. 'And I want it said to me! I'm here in this room, Nathan. Don't talk around m e.'

He turned slowly to face her, the cold fury in his eyes making her flinch away. 'I have nothing more to say to you.'

Gemma almost crumbled at that point, but she knew if she walked out of here right now without asking him critical questions, she would never be able to live with herself, or the doubts that would remain. 'But I have things I want to say to you , Nathan,' she said with more steel than she was actually feeling.

His shrug was indifferent. 'Please yourself.'

Gemma turned to her mother. 'Celeste? Will you leave me alone with Nathan?'

Celeste grimaced. 'I don't like this, but I suppose I have no alternative. It is your life, after all. I'll join Byron for a while. But I won't be far away.'

Giving Nathan a warning glance, Celeste strode from the room, banging the door shut behind her. A strained silence descended, with Gemma eventually moving a little nervously away from Nathan.

'You don't have to do that,' he snapped. 'I'm not going to attack you again.'

'Good God, Nathan,' she groaned, 'is that what all this is really about? Do you think that I can't possibly have forgiven you for what you did that day? I can and I do, because I understand the pressures you were under when you did it.'

'You misunderstand me, Gemma,' he returned coldly. 'I do not care if you forgive me or not. And it's immaterial to me now whether you slept with Campbell or not.'

'But I didn't! I swear to you, I didn't. I won't deny that he fancied me and that he might have wanted something to develop between us. But nothing did. And now that he's found out he's my uncle, there's no risk of that.'

Nathan's laughter sent a chill running through her soul. 'As if something as trivial as a little incest would stop a man like that. God, but you still haven't

grown up, have you? I would have thought some time spent in the bosom of the Campbells would have opened up those innocent eyes of yours.'

Gemma closed those eyes with a pained sigh before opening them again, her expression sad as she surveyed her cynical husband. 'You always believe the worst of people, don't you? Not everyone is wicked, Nathan.'

He laughed, then moved slowly towards her, making Gemma stiffen inside with an odd mixture of excitement and apprehension. When he reached out, to tip her chin upwards with a single finger, her eyes were wide and fearful.

'If they aren't, my darling,' he said in a dark silky voice, 'then it's only a question of time and opportunity. Even the best person can be corrupted, given the right weapons. Just look at Byron. All he needed was a woman like Celeste to come into his life and his morals went right out of the window. With some people it's sex. With others it's drugs. Or money. Or power. Total innocents can be corrupted even against their will, if they fall into the wrong hands.'

The awfulness of Nathan's words seemed to get lost under the spell of his physical closeness, and that finger which had slid under her chin and was even now tracing an erotic circle around her quivering mouth. Smoky grey eyes locked on to hers and Gemma found herself unable to tear her gaze away from his.

'I could have really corrupted you if I'd wanted to,' he murmured thickly.

Gemma moaned softly when that tantalising finger retreated from those tortuous circles. Dazed, she just stood there for a moment till she realised he was staring down at her braless breasts, which were at that moment rising and falling with a betrayingly increased heartbeat.

'Maybe I already have,' he rasped, startling her when he slipped his hands into the deep neckline and slid the dress off her shoulders, dragging the material down her arms, till her breasts were totally exposed.

'Why else would you have dressed like this tonight?' he taunted, his thumbs rubbing her rapidly hardening nipples. 'Unless you wanted me to see that

your breasts were within easy reach. Unless you wanted me to touch them like this, maybe touch you far more intimately...'

She whimpered as desire shot through her, her heart leaping when his eyes locked on to hers and she saw an answering desire flare madly within his glittering gaze.

'If I did,' she whispered breathlessly, 'it's because I love you. And because I know you still love me.'

Her words brought a stunned look to his face, quickly followed by a darkening fury.

'Then you're a bloody fool!' he exclaimed, angrily yanking her dress back into place. 'I do not love you and neither do you love me. God, there I was, thinking you might have grown up a little, that you might have learnt to call our feelings for each other by its correct name. It's called lust, Gemma. L-U-S-T. Only romantic-minded little fools talk of love when they mean sex. Now get out of here before I do something we're both going to regret afterwards.'

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