The Unwanted Wife

By: Natasha Anders

“You must be cold in only that skimpy little thing you’re wearing,” he observed idly, heading to the fridge for a carton of orange juice. His short black hair was damp and standing up in tufts where he had carelessly towel-dried it after his shower. He wore nothing but a pair of black boxer shorts. He looked as gorgeous as always, and Theresa hated him more than ever for that masculine perfection.

“I’m fine.” She got up abruptly and headed toward the sink to rinse her mug, but he grabbed her elbow to halt her movement. She tensed, shocked by the touch…Alessandro never touched her outside of the bedroom. In the eighteen months they had been married, this was the first time that she could recall him touching her without it being a precursor to sex. He leaned closer to her and lowered his lips to her ear. She felt his hot breath on the side of her face before he spoke.

“There’ll be no more talk of divorce, Theresa…ever,” he told her with a sickening air of finality.

“You can’t stop me from divorcing you, Sandro,” she responded bravely.

“You really want a divorce, cara?” he asked.

She nodded stiffly.

“If you get that divorce, your cousin loses her business, and she can’t afford that now, not with a new baby on the way. She and her husband need all the capital they can get.” Somehow she hadn’t expected that. She should have, but she hadn’t. Sandro had loaned her cousin, Lisa, the start-up capital for her bookshop. Theresa didn’t know what the specifics of that loan were, but she had always assumed that it was done out of generosity. Staring up at him now, she couldn’t believe her own naïveté. Sandro did nothing out of sheer generosity, and that loan was merely another weapon for him to use against her.

“You wouldn’t,” she responded. “Lisa has done nothing to deserve this.”

“Cara, I will do whatever it takes to get what I want from you.”

“I have money too, I can help her…” she began desperately.

“No, you have a rich father, and he had the opportunity to help Lisa, but he made his contempt of the idea more than obvious to everyone at the time, and you know that he would never support you through a messy divorce, Theresa.”

“I still don’t believe you would do it! You have a reputation to uphold. You’re an honest businessman, and you wouldn’t destroy a small business just to prove a point. What kind of message would that send?” she asked.

“That I’m not to be trifled with.” He shrugged. “Do you honestly think I care what people think of me, Theresa? Do you think I care what you think of me? I never have and I never will. You’re weak and spoiled.”

“I’m not…” She tried to defend herself, but he made a scoffing sound in the back of his throat before continuing as if she hadn’t spoken.

“You’ll get your divorce eventually, but there’s something I need to get from you first. You wanted this marriage, remember? You begged for it, I’m sure. So if you want a divorce right now, it’ll come with some heavy penalties. Are you willing to gamble with your cousin’s future?”

Theresa wouldn’t do it, and Sandro knew it. He had her exactly where he wanted her. There would be no divorce. Not when so much hung in the balance. But there would be changes…Theresa Chloe Noble De Lucci was done being a doormat! She said nothing, choosing to turn and walk away instead. He watched her go, and she could feel his eyes burning into her slender back but he did not call her back. She did not return to the bedroom they had shared since the first day of their marriage, opting instead to head for the library, knowing that she could not sleep another wink. Not in that room, not anymore.

Hours later, he came downstairs for breakfast. It was a Saturday morning, so he didn’t have any early-morning meetings to rush off to and instead he tended to linger over his newspaper and coffee and largely ignore Theresa. That morning was no different. It was as if their earlier argument hadn’t happened at all. They ate their casual weekend meals in the kitchen and the homey setting lent a false sense of domesticity to the scene. But while Theresa was uncomfortable and tense in the intimate setting, Sandro always remained as cool as the proverbial cucumber.

Then again, that was nothing new, as he rarely showed emotion. In fact the “discussion” of that morning was the most heated she had ever seen him. He kept his feelings under wraps but had always made his contempt for her more than clear. It was in the way he refused to meet her eyes, the way he could make love to her without kissing her on the mouth, the way he could talk past her when he had something to tell her, while eternally optimistic and stupid Theresa had never been good at hiding her feelings from him. Not from the very moment she’d met him, nearly two years ago. How hopelessly infatuated she had been! How quickly she had fallen in love.

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