The Cove
Page 79

 Catherine Coulter

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What the hell was poise anyway? It didn’t seem too important right this moment.
“Sally, I’m in a bad way. Let me go, okay?”
Her arms eased around his neck but she kept her fingers laced.
He could have easily pulled away from her, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. She was slight and warm and he thought where he was and where she was a very nice thing. He loved the feel of her arms tight about his neck. He liked her warm breath against his neck.
He thought having her here beneath him until he croaked would be a very nice thing.
He was staring down at her. He opened his mouth and said, “Sally, would you marry me?”
Her eyes came open in a flash. “What did you say?”
“I asked you to marry me.”
“I don’t know, James. I’m already married.”
“I’d forgotten that. Sally, please don’t move. Do you want to take your arms off my neck?”
“No, not really. You’re warm, James, and I like your weight on me. I feel safe and like everything just might be all right. Somebody would have to go through you to get to me. They’d never make it, you’re too solid, too strong. Please don’t roll off me.”
Solid and strong was he? He turned even harder. “You’re sure you’re not afraid? After what happened to you at the sanitarium, I won’t want to scare you.”
She frowned even as she tightened her arms around his neck. “It’s odd, but you never scared me except when you came roaring through Amabel’s door like a bull that day, that day when my father called me for the first time. But after that, not at all, not even when you walked in on me and I’d just come out of the shower.”
“You were so beautiful, I thought I’d lose it for sure.”
“Me? Beautiful?” She snorted, and he was charmed. “I’m a stick, but you’re nice to say it.”
“But it’s true. I looked at you and thought, She’s perfect. I really like that little black mole on the side of your belly, just beside your left pelvic bone.”
“Oh, dear, you saw that much of me?”
“Oh, yes. A man’s eyes can move real fast when the motivation is there. Why don’t you dump Scott Brainerd and then you can marry me?”
“I don’t think he’ll mind at all,” she said after a moment. “Actually he’s already dumped me, despite those pleas he made on TV.” She was rubbing her hands over his shoulders and upper back. His skin was warm and smooth. “Shortly after we were married, I knew it had been a mistake. I was as busy as he was, always on the go, always going out to meetings and parties and functions in the evenings, always talking to people on the phone, always having people over. I loved it, and he seemed to at first.
“Then he told me he’d thought I would give all that up when we got married. Evidently he expected me to sit around until he got home and then feed him and probably rub his back and listen to him talk about his day, and then strip if he wanted sex. At least that’s what he’d expected. Where he got that idea I’ll never know.
“I tried to talk to him about it, but he would just shake his head and tell me over and over that I was a crummy wife, that I was unreasonable. He said I’d lied to him. That wasn’t true. It came as a total shock to me after we were married when he started pitching fits over my schedule. While we were dating it had been just the same and he’d never said a word. Once he even told me how proud he was of me.
“When I finally told him that I knew he was having an affair and that I wanted out, he said I was imagining things. He said I was being silly, at least at first he said that. Then just days later he said I was losing it, that I was paranoid but that he wouldn’t divorce me because I was going crazy. It wouldn’t be right. No, he wouldn’t do that to me. I didn’t understand what he was talking about until about four days later.
“He was sleeping with another woman, James, I would bet my life on it. After I was locked away in Beadermeyer’s sanitarium, I don’t know what he did. I was kind of hoping that I’d never have to see him again. And I didn’t. Just my father came. But Scott had to be in on it with my father. He was and is my husband, after all. And he had told me I was nuts.”
Interesting, he thought. “Yes,” he said. “He was in on it, up to his little shyster’s ears. Who was he having an affair with?”
“I don’t know. Probably someone at work, at TransCon. Scott’s big into power.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, dipped down and kissed her ear, “but you’re going to have to see him again, at least one more time. Good thing is, I’m your hero and I’m even official, so you don’t have to worry.