The Sicilian's Marriage Arrangement(49)

By: Lucy Monroe


“I took a cab and I went for a walk. I turned the ringer volume down on my mobile after you called. Any more questions?”

“No.”

“If that is all…” she said, reversing the roles they had played in his office.

Again the sigh. “I’m flying to Rome and will be gone overnight. I realize it is not the best time for me to leave, but it cannot be helped.”

“Why are you bothering to tell me?” She stared across the swimming pool, her body aching from the pain filling her heart. “I’m just a body in your bed. I’m not your wife. You don’t even want our baby.” She was crying again and hated him for hearing the choking sobs she could not hide.

“Hope—”

She hung up the phone before he could say whatever it was he had meant to say. All his words hurt her and she was so tired of being hurt.

CHAPTER ELEVEN

LUCIANO called again that evening from Rome. She came to the phone, feeling subdued and just plain not up to arguing with his mother or sister about taking the call.

“Hello, Luciano. Was there something you wanted?” she asked in a voice that sounded dead to her own ears.

“Si, Hope, I want many things, but I called to apologize for my behavior when you told me about the baby.” He sounded tired. “I want our bambino, cara. I am sorry I was less than enthusiastic when you told me.”

She dismissed the apology as too little, too late. Perhaps if he hadn’t been treating her so hurtfully for days beforehand, it would have been enough. “Don’t call me cara. It means beloved and you don’t love me. I don’t ever want you to use that word with me again.”

“Hope, I…” He hesitated.

Strange to hear her super-confident husband hesitant.

“If that’s all, I’m tired and want to go to bed.”

“I want to go to bed also, but with you, not in solitude.”

For once his sexy voice had no affect on her whatsoever. “I don’t want to sleep with you anymore.”

He said something low and forceful. “You are not leaving my bed.”

“Really? How are you going to stop me?” she asked with little more interest than she had felt for the rest of the conversation.

“Santo cielo. You are my wife. You sleep in my bed.”

“I don’t like you anymore, Luciano.” She didn’t say she didn’t love him because it was not true. She did, more fool her. And it hurt.

“Cara—”

“Please, Luciano. I don’t want to talk anymore. I don’t know why you married me, but I can see now it was a huge mistake.”

“You know why I married you.”

For the sex?

He went on when she remained silent. “Even so, it was not a mistake. We can make our marriage work. We will talk when I return from Rome.”

He wanted to make their marriage work now? “I can’t deal with this. You just keep hurting me and I don’t want it anymore.”

“That is over. I will not hurt you again, cara.”

Was there something significant about the fact that he kept calling her beloved even after she had asked him not to? It was such a tantalizing thought that she rejected it immediately.

She had believed too many times things would work out only to discover they would not.

“We’ll talk when you get back,” she said, repeating his words.

What form that discussion would take she did not know.



When the maid brought her the phone the next morning, she was in a stronger frame of mind and prepared to discuss her marriage with Luciano. He had said he wanted to make their marriage work and he had apologized for being such a toad when she told him about the baby. Men like Luciano didn’t say sorry easily and if he was willing to work on their marriage, she was too.

Only her caller wasn’t Luciano. It was her grandfather.

“What the hell is going on over there?” he demanded in a voice that had her pulling the phone a few inches from her ear.

“I’m not sure what you mean,” she hedged, wondering if Luciano had called him after she’d hung up the night before.

“I’ve got two society columns in front of me. They’ve both got pictures of your husband eating dinner with a woman in a swank New York restaurant. That woman is not you.”

Hope felt the words like multiple body blows. Luciano had promised. No mistresses. But he’d also promised to treasure her love and he’d broken that one. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she answered truthfully.

“Could be his secretary I guess, but where were you when he was having these business dinners?”

“Here, in Palermo. Luciano flew to New York right after we returned from our honeymoon.” And he’d been furious with her when he left.