The Wedding(3)

By: Emma Darcy

Revulsion cramped Tessa’s stomach as rage billowed through her mind once more. How could he do it? With that overblown creature in her bed! Between her sheets! It was the absolute pits of crass insensitivity! Which just went to show what a low-down rotten louse he was underneath all his surface charm!

It made Tessa positively ill to think that if she hadn’t come back from her parents’ place a day early, she wouldn’t have found out what she had almost married. All these years thinking he was the only man she wanted, and she had been over the moon with happiness when he had finally proposed marriage to her. Yet here it was, only seven weeks to the wedding, and he could do that! He might even be creep enough to think he had free slather in her apartment today, since her ultimatum had given him until this evening to be out. In retrospect, that had been wrong. What she should have done, of course, was hurl him and his floozy out there and then! Stark naked into the street! Except Grant was stronger than she was. And she had been so shocked, so outraged, so upset, that she hadn’t been able to think straight. She had hurled a barrage of missiles at them, then stormed out of the apartment, feeling it was too contaminated to stay there.

She couldn’t face that again.

She just couldn’t!

There was nothing for it but to buy some clothes. That boutique up the end of the road, Executive Class—she would go there. It would probably cost her the earth, but so what! She no longer had to pay for a wedding dress.

Tessa worked it all out as she rode the elevator to the ground floor. She had all her toilet things and makeup in her weekend bag. Enough underclothes for three days. She needed three outfits that would go with her black high heels and handbag. Certainly the skirt and top she was wearing at the moment did not rate as suitable wear for Blaize Callagan’s secretary.

Her heart fluttered in nervous anticipation. Blaize Callagan! Good Lord! How was she going to live up to his expectations? Well, she just had to keep her head and give it the best try she could, she told herself sternly. Jerry was counting on a good performance from her. For her own self-respect she had to perform well. She needed to feel good about something!

Forty minutes later, Tessa walked into the CMA building, wearing a black linen suit that hugged her figure in streamlined class. It was teamed with a pin-tucked, high-collared blouse in fine white lawn. The outfit had cost her four hundred dollars but it made Tessa feel like a million dollars, so to her mind, it was worth every cent. As were the two three-hundred-dollar outfits in the shopping bag she carried.

There was something very uplifting about being sinfully extravagant. Freedom, she told herself. All the scrimping and saving she had done for a future with Grant Durham was a thing of the past. It was her money now, to do with as she liked. She was no longer accountable to anyone but herself! Perhaps she would blow the rest of her bank account on a trip somewhere.

Meanwhile, this conference trip was a real godsend. It got her out of the city, away from any contact with Grant, and no doubt Blaize Callagan would keep her so busy she wouldn’t have much time to think depressing thoughts. She hoped Grant would do one decent thing and get out of her apartment before she got back. Her continued absence for three days ought to hammer that message home to him.

Tessa arrived in her office with twenty minutes still up her sleeve. She quickly repacked her weekend bag, putting the things she wouldn’t need into the plastic shopping bag. She was cramming that into the bottom drawer of her desk when she noticed the vinyl pouch that contained her “professional” glasses.

There was nothing wrong with Tessa’s eyes, but the glasses were sometimes useful in projecting an image. She had first bought them when she came to Callagan, Morris and Allen so that she could keep other men from bothering her while she concentrated on Grant Durham. What a mistake that had been! But the glasses did give her an aura of serious reserve, helped along by the thick tortoiseshell rims. She suddenly thought it might be a very good idea to wear them as Blaize Callagan’s secretary.

Her hair needed attention, too. Tessa wound her ponytail into a neat topknot, which she fastened with hairpins from her toilet bag. Then she tried on the glasses and examined the effect in her little hand mirror. They certainly helped to make her look a bit older than her twenty-four years. Gave her a more serious, earnest look, particularly with her hair up instead of falling loose. No one looking at her now could possibly think she was anything but a career professional.

She checked her watch. Five minutes to go. She zipped up her bag and set off for the elevators again, satisfied that she looked every bit as elegantly professional as Rosemary Davies, even though she was considerably shorter and nowhere near as upper class. However, there was nothing she could do about that.