Expecting:For the Babies' Sakes(9)

By: Sara Wood

‘I feel sick,’ she muttered weakly, wondering how the elegant Celine fitted into that description of Dan’s perfect woman.

With an exasperated grunt, he tightened his towel around his narrow hips and raised her, wrapping her up in a warm bath sheet. Her shivering body sank gratefully into its soft folds as she held onto the edge of the basin again, wishing she could be sick and get it over and done with.

The nausea subsided and she turned away disconsolately. Dan took hold of her again, towelling her wet hair and then washing her horribly blotchy, tear-stained face. It was dangerously lovely, like being nurtured by her mother when she was a child, after she’d been ill with measles and had been allowed her first bath for a few days.

But her mother hadn’t picked her up, or carried her back, to bed and it was this that was almost her undoing. Clutched in the shelter of Dan’s strong arms, Helen fought to overcome a fierce urge to snuggle up to the glorious firmness of his naked chest and wrap her arms around his neck. This was her husband. It was the first time for months that they’d been physically close and her hormones were reacting accordingly.

Stone-faced, he undid her bra, his eyes lingering on her breasts. Her hopes rose. Perhaps he did find her attractive, despite everything…

Her spirits plummeted as, without comment, he pulled her sulkily compliant arms into a warm nightdress and tucked the bedclothes up around her neck.

It was then that she saw he was aroused. But was that, she wondered suspiciously, because he and Celine had been disturbed before…before…it had happened, and he was still unsatisfied?

Tormented by her thoughts, Helen turned her face away, her eyes tightly shut in a vain attempt to stop the tears from flowing again.

She wouldn’t cry. Her head had to be clear, her brain sharp. She had to make plans. Illness was making her act like a victim, but when she felt better she’d stand up for herself and fight for her rights.

The mattress shifted under Dan’s weight. His hand came up to brush dark strands of hair from her hot face.

‘I’m sorry you feel so rotten. What can I get you, sweetheart?’ he asked softly.

‘A divorce!’ she blurted out from the depths of her misery. ‘Now!’


THERE was a terrible silence. Helen didn’t breathe or move, appalled at the finality of what she’d said—and its inevitability. She could feel Dan’s shock like a seismic wave and sensed that his muscles were screwed up as tightly as hers.

And then he spoke, in a strangely halting and husky voice as if his heart was breaking, too.

‘I’ll get you a hot-water bottle and a thermometer. And a hot honey and lemon drink. When you’ve slept and you feel a little better, we’ll talk.’

‘Talk now! Before you have a chance to come up with some slippery explanation!’ she jerked.

He gazed at her with sad and unnervingly remote eyes.

‘Do you trust me so little?’ he asked quietly.

Helen felt bitterness scourging her insides. Trust? She would have staked her life on him. He had held her hopes and her love and her future in his hands. And he’d let her down.

She shuddered. It was as if she’d reached the depths of hell and suddenly she wanted to drag him there, too.

‘If you came home unexpectedly and found me half naked, surrounded by several pairs of boxer shorts and socks, riding boots, assorted spurs, scarlet jackets and a collection of plumed helmets,’ she retorted coldly, ‘wouldn’t you assume I’d jumped into bed with a Brigade of Guards?’

Dan went a sickly colour. His jaw worked as though his teeth were grinding together.

‘I’ll get that drink.’

He couldn’t get away fast enough, she thought, her face forlorn. Not only was she physically ugly to him, but she was showing a vicious, sarcastic side to herself she’d never known had existed. He’d always adored the funny slant she had on life. But now her tongue was turning to acid and burning her as well as him.

Was it any wonder, though, that she felt like lashing out? Miserably she burrowed deep into the bedclothes. She’d surrendered her heart to Dan and he’d rewarded her loyalty with the worst betrayal of all, just two years into their marriage. Of course, she thought glumly, it had been a farce for some time and she hadn’t even noticed.

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