The Unwanted Wife

By: Natasha Anders



His eyes were still locked with hers, and she felt the sudden change in his breathing and his heart rate. He leaned even closer, his mouth nearly touching hers; their breath mingled and came in jagged gasps. If she moved her head, just a fraction of an inch, their lips would touch. She couldn’t resist and she tensed herself to do just that, when he swore and stepped away from her. Theresa blinked and felt like someone coming out of a trance.

“Just go to bed.” He put his hand in the small of her back and gave her a gentle push toward the bed.

“I’m not going to have…” she began to protest.

“I know. I’m not exactly in the right frame of mind for it either.” He prodded her again.

“You won’t touch me?”

“Not unless you want me to.” He shrugged as if he didn’t care either way.

“I don’t want you to,” she asserted firmly.

“Then you have nothing to worry about.” He turned away from her and stripped off his casual shirt, leaving him abruptly naked from the chest up. As always, he stole her breath away, and she had to force herself to turn away from the seductive sight of her half-naked husband and head to bed. She crept beneath the covers and kept her back to him, but she was achingly aware of every sound he made as he headed toward the en suite, discarding even more clothes along the way. For such a precise and controlled man in every other aspect of his life, Alessandro tended to be a bit messy in his own space: he would casually drop a shirt here, a sock there…obviously expecting the magical cleaning fairies to pick up after him. That “magical cleaning fairy” was usually Theresa; she was a bit of a neat freak and would quite compulsively pick up and fold everything he dropped. Well, not anymore; he could damned well pick up his own shirts.

She wryly acknowledged to herself that this resolution would last only as long as it took for the maid to come in and clean it up. The one thing about being fabulously wealthy was that you didn’t have to think about mundane things like picking up after yourself. And Alessandro had been spoiled since birth into believing the universe revolved around him. While Theresa’s family had been wealthy too, she had never taken anything for granted, not when she had an emotionally detached father, who relentlessly pointed out her every flaw, and a depressed mother, who had exited Theresa’s life via a bottle of sleeping pills. Theresa had been a scared and confused eleven-year-old at the time.

She sighed softly and turned over to watch the door of the en suite. He hadn’t shut it completely, and a narrow sliver of light streamed into the darkened bedroom. Steam was creeping out along the edges of the door and she could smell the spicy scent of his soap. The shower stopped abruptly and she heard the rustling sounds of him towel drying. She smiled softly to herself as she heard the towel drop to the floor after he finished. She was achingly familiar with every detail of his nightly ablutions; he usually brushed his teeth and shaved while showering. Five minutes later, the light in the en suite went out and he stepped out into the dark bedroom. She could just make out his silhouette enough to see that he was naked, and she panicked slightly when she recognized that he had absolutely every intention of getting into bed that way.

He usually slept naked but she had honestly believed that he would drag on a shorts or something after the events of that evening. No such luck. She felt him lifting the covers and sliding beneath them. He smelled divine and she had to fight the impulse to turn toward him. He didn’t say a word and made no move toward her, staying on his side of the bed. No surprise there. He usually stayed on his side of the bed anyway unless he felt the need to work on his long-term project to sire a son. Only then would he move toward her to touch her, caress her, and do everything but love her.

Theresa never instigated their intimate encounters. She had learned early on that any move toward such intimacy was usually rebuffed, and her fragile self-esteem didn’t deal well with rejection, so she had stopped trying. Ironically enough, tonight, after her decree that he not touch her, was the first time in a long time that she was actually tempted to move toward him. She clenched her fists and curled into a ball, trying not to think of all that tantalizing naked male flesh lying next to her. She knew he was awake, she could tell from the rhythm of his breathing, and obviously he knew she was awake, she was way too tense to be asleep.

“Just go to sleep for God’s sake.” His impatient voice suddenly rang out in the darkness. “I said I wouldn’t touch you and I won’t…so you can relax!”

She tensed even more at the sound of his voice, and he swore softly.

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