Conveniently His(2)

By: Penny Jordan

Even now she could remember his acid words of invective when he realised that she was not enjoying his lovemaking, his criticisms of her as a woman, his disgust in her inability to respond to him.

Frightened by the change in him, her body still torn by the pain of his possession she had sought to placate him offering uncertainly, ‘But it will get better when we are married...’

‘Married!’ He had withdrawn completely from her, staring at her with narrowed eyes. ‘What the hell are you talking about? I wouldn’t marry you if you were the last woman on earth, darling,’ he had drawled tauntingly. ‘When I get married it will be to a woman who knows what it means to be a woman...not a frigid little girl. You’ll never get married, Sophy,’ he had told her cruelly. ‘No man will ever want to marry a woman like you.’

Looking back, she was lucky to have come out of the escapade with nothing worse than a badly bruised body and ego, Sophy told herself. It could have been so much worse. She could have been pregnant...pregnant and unmarried.

‘Darling, you aren’t listening to a word I’m saying,’ her mother complained a little petulantly, ‘and why do you scrape your hair back like that? It’s so pretty.’

‘It’s also heavy, Mother...and today it’s very hot.’ She said it patiently, forcing a placatory smile.

‘I wish you’d have it properly styled, darling...and get some new clothes. Those awful jeans you’re wearing...’

Sighing faintly, Sophy put down her book. If only her mother could understand that she could not be what she wanted her to be. If only...

‘I’ve told Brenda to bring Chris and his wife round to see us. She’s a lovely girl, Brenda was saying. An American...they got married last year while we were away on that cruise.’ She looked across at her daughter. ‘It’s time you were thinking of settling down, darling, after all you are twenty-six...’

So she was, and wouldn’t Chris just crow to know that his cruel prediction all those years ago had proved so correct.

Not that she wanted to get married. She moved restlessly in her deck chair, unwanted images flashing through her of the men she had dated over the years, and the look on their faces when she turned cold and unresponsive in their arms. She had never totally been able to overcome the fears Chris had instilled in her—not of the physical reality of male possession, but of her own inability to respond to him...her own innate sexual coldness. Well it was something no other man was ever going to find out about her. It was her own private burden and she was going to carry it alone.

No male possession meant no children, though. Sighing once again, she opened her eyes and stared unseeingly at her father’s neat flower border. Just when she had first felt this fierce need to have children of her own she wasn’t quite sure but lately she was rarely unaware of it. She very much wanted children...a family of her own. But she wasn’t going to get them, as Chris had so rightly taunted her. No man was going to want a woman who was physically incapable of responding to him sexually.

The sharp ring of the telephone bell on the wall outside the house cut through her despondent thoughts.

Her mother got up and hurried into the house via the french windows. Several seconds later she reappeared, beckoning Sophy, a frown marring her forehead.

‘It’s Jonathan,’ she told Sophy peevishly. ‘Why on earth does he need to ring you at weekends?’

Jonathan Phillips was her boss. Sophy had been working for him for two years. She’d first met him at a party thrown by a mutual acquaintance to which she had gone in a mood of bitter introspection having finally come to the realisation that the happiness and fulfilment of marriage and children would never be hers. She had also been well on her way to getting drunk. She had bumped into him on her way to get herself yet another glass of wine, the totally unexpected impediment of a solidly muscled chest knocking her completely off balance.

Jonathan had grasped her awkwardly round the waist looking at her through his glasses with eyes that registered his discomfort and shock at finding her in his arms.

She had pulled away and he had released her immediately, looking very relieved to do so. She would have walked away and that would have been that if she had not suddenly betrayed her half inebriated state by teetering uncertainly on her high heels.

It was then that Jon had taken charge, dragging her outside into the fresh air, procuring from somewhere a cup of black coffee. Both were acts which, now that she knew him better, were so alien to his normal vague, muddledly hopeless inability to organise anything, that they still had the power to surprise her slightly.