Theresa fell back onto the mattress, her body slick with perspiration and limp with pleasure. Spasms of her powerful release still violently racked her slender frame. Her husband, Alessandro, had disentangled, detached, and distanced himself from her within seconds of their mutual orgasm and lay on his back beside her, his breathing heavy and ragged.
Theresa turned on her side to lovingly trace his profile with her eyes, yearning to touch and caress the smooth and slightly tanned skin, but she knew her touch would be rebuffed. His words, the ones he always said after his climax, still hovered in the air between them and still, after all these months, hurt more than they should have.
“Give me a son, Theresa…”
With those five words, he killed the afterglow, destroyed the intimacy of the moment, and relegated the act into nothing more than a biological imperative. After eighteen months of the same, Theresa had finally accepted that it would never change. It wasn’t an abrupt realization. No, it was one that had been growing steadily since the very first time he’d said them.
But Theresa had her own five words. They were words that had been on the tip of her tongue for months and should have been spoken long before now. They were words that she could no longer swallow; no matter how much it hurt her to say them. She sat up, naked, her body still trembling, and drew her knees to her chest. She wrapped her arms around her legs, pressed her cheek to her knees, and watched as his breathing steadied and his own shaking subsided. He lay spread-eagled, magnificently nude, his eyes shut, but she knew that he wasn’t asleep. As usual he would take a few moments to compose himself before heading for
the shower, where she always imagined him frantically scrubbing her scent and touch from his bronzed skin.
She could no longer contain the words, and they spilled from her lips in desperate earnestness.
“I want a divorce, Alessandro.”
He tensed. Every single muscle in his body went as tight as a coiled spring before he turned his head to meet her stare. His eyes were hooded, and his upper lip curled mockingly.
“But I thought you loved me, Theresa,” he taunted with exquisite cruelty, and Theresa closed her eyes, trying to mask the pain that his words caused. When she was sure she had her emotions under control, she opened her eyes.
“Not anymore.” She hoped the lie sounded convincing.
“Hmmm…” he purred. “What happened to ‘I’ll love you forever, Sandro’?”
“Things change,” she whispered.
“What things?” He rolled onto his side and propped himself up onto his elbow, resting his head on his hand. He looked so much like a Roman gladiator in repose that her throat went dry with desire. She swallowed painfully.
“F-feelings change…” she stuttered. Again he gave that husky purr of agreement, but Theresa wasn’t fooled by his relaxed posture; he was as tense as a coiled snake. “I…I’ve changed…”
“You look no different,” he said, his voice still terrifyingly tender. “Still the same Theresa I married. The one who claimed to love me so much she couldn’t live without me. The one whose daddy made sure she got exactly what she wanted…”
And that was when he struck, without moving, without so much as changing his
“The same timid little Theresa who can’t even give me the only thing I’ve ever wanted from this pathetic excuse for a marriage.” She flinched but she refused to divert her eyes.
“All the more reason for a divorce.” She tried for blasé but failed miserably.
“Maybe for you.” He shrugged. “But I told you from the very beginning, cara, there would be no easy way out of this marriage. Not until I got what I wanted from you, and that day looks to be a long way off. Unfortunately, cliché though it may seem, you’ve made this bed and now we both have to lie in it!”
“I can’t live like this anymore.” She buried her face in her knees and fought to keep the tears at bay.
“Neither of us has much choice…” He sat up and stretched languidly before getting up to walk to the en-suite bathroom. Theresa heard the shower start moments later and took a few seconds to compose herself before swiping the hot tears from her face with the backs of her hands. She dragged on a gauzy peignoir and headed toward the kitchen to fix a drink of hot milk and honey. It was a concoction her mother used to make for her when she was a little girl, and she hoped that the comforting beverage would soothe her ragged nerves.
The familiar task of preparing the drink calmed her down significantly, and she had just eased onto a bar stool and taken her first sip when she felt Sandro’s presence behind her. The hairs on the nape of her neck stood on end, and her hands started shaking again.