Reluctant Wife(9)By: Lindsay Armstrong
I don’t know: what to say!’ she said at last. ‘Thank you all so much. I…’
But there was no need for her to say anything, because the band broke into ‘For She’s as Jolly Good Fellow’, and everyone sang as if they really meant it and toasted her with champagne, and the thought struck her that they must like her. They really must, to be looking so fond and sounding so sincere. She glanced at Adam, still at her side, but he had turned to talk to his mother, who was absolutely bubbling with good spirits, and the feeling of guilt was there again alongside the warmth and happiness.
Jeanette came upstairs with Roz when the party was over.
‘You don’t need to. I can put myself to bed,’ Roz protested, but Jeanette merely looked wise and said it was part of her job.
‘Your mother trained you well,’ murmured Roz. Jeanette’s mother had held a similar position with one of Flavia’s friends, and it was Flavia who had suggested to Adam that Roz might need some assistance and recommended Jeanette. But in her heart of hearts, although she was so fond of Jeanette, Roz thought it was a waste of her talents, and she fully intended to steer her towards a dress designing course as soon as her mother felt she was old enough to be unleashed on the wide world.
But Jeanette herself took her responsibilities very seriously, as she demonstrated yet again by insisting, once Roz was changed into a long, filmy white nightgown, on unpinning her hair and brushing it out.
‘It’s so beautiful,’ she said as she slid the brush through the silky fair mass that came well below Roz’s shoulders, ‘it would be a shame not to look after it properly. There! Doesn’t that feel better?’
Roz regarded her gravely in the mirror, then said with her eyes twinkling, ‘Yes, Mum.’
Roz relented. ‘No, it does. Thank you. I think I told you earlier that I don’t know what I’d do without you.‘
‘Oh, bosh!’ Jeanette protested forcefully, but she was laughing herself. Then she looked around to see if she’d forgotten to put anything away, but the mushroom and dusky pink bedroom was perfectly tidy with the coverlet and sheet pulled down neatly on the big bed. ‘There,’ she said. ‘Will you be able to sleep? Should I get you something? Mr Milroy’s here, but …’
‘No, I’ll be fine, Jeanette. Goodnight.’
But once she was alone, Roz hesitated before getting into bed and wondered whether Adam had come up yet. Their interleading door was closed.
Then she shrugged and switched off all the lamps. She sat on the bed with one leg drawn up and her chin resting on it, pondering on a strange night and her equally strange mixture of feelings. But her overriding thought, she discovered, was how Adam would be next. Sardonic and mocking as he had been in their first encounter of the evening? But then he’d been apparently happy to see her happy later. And how would she be? What would she feel?
She bit her lip, and the door between her bedroom and Adam’s opened.
Roz turned her head so that her cheek was resting on her knee and watched as her husband came slowly across to the bed. He had taken off his jacket and tie and his shirt was open at the throat, the sleeves unbuttoned and pushed up a little, and his dark hair lay across his forehead as if he had just, raked a hand through it.
A swathe of light streamed in from his room and their eyes met. ‘Not tired?’ he asked after a moment.
‘Yes,’ she whispered.
‘But you can’t sleep?’
She moved, ‘I haven’t tried. Have you come to … to …?’ She broke off awkwardly.
He waited, but she could only colour foolishly. Then he said, ‘Would you like me to, Roz?’ His dark gaze was sombre and very direct.
She raised her head and looked away, but something seemed to clear in her mind and she said with an effort ‘I’d like to thank you for everything. And also,’ her voice sank, ‘try to make up for being… idiotic. So yes, I would like you to.’
Adam was silent for so long she felt her nerves tightening almost unbearably.