The Future King's Pregnant Mistress(5)

By: Penny Jordan

He had quickly elucidated that Emily was a divorced woman with no children, and that had made her pattern-card perfect for the role of his mistress. If he had known then her real emotional and sexual history, he knew that he would not have pursued her. But by the time he had discovered the truth, his physical desire for her had been such that it had been impossible for him to reject her.

He looked towards her now feeling that desire gripping him again and fighting against it as he had fought all his life against anything or anyone who threatened to control him.

'Marco, somethings wrong. What is it?’

Where had it come from, this unwanted ability she seemed to possess of sensing what she could not possibly be able to know? The year his parents died, the storms had come early to Niroli. Marco could remember how when he had first received the news, even before he had said anything, she had somehow guessed that something was wrong. However, whilst she might be intuitive where his feelings were concerned Emily hadn't yet been shrewd or suspicious enough to make the connection between the announcement of his parents’ deaths and the news in the media about the demise of the next in line to the Niroli throne.

He remembered how hurt she had looked when he'd informed her that he would be attending his mother and fathers funeral without her but she hadn't said a word. Maybe because she hadn't wanted to provoke a row that might have led to him ending their affair, the reason she didn't want it to end being that, for all her apparent lack of interest in his money, she had to be well aware of what she would lose financially if their relationship came to a close. It was in Marcos opinion, impossible for any woman to be as unconcerned about the financial benefits of being his mistress as Emily affected to be. It was as his grandfather had warned him: the women who thronged around him expected to be lavishly rewarded with expensive gifts and had no compunction about making that plain.

Under cover of the rooms darkness. Emily grimaced to hear the note of pleading in her own voice. Why, when she despised herself so much for what she was becoming, couldn't she stop herself? Was she destined always to have relationships that resulted in her feeling insecure?

'Nothings wrong.' Marco told her. There was a note in his voice that made her body tense and her emotions flinch despite everything she was trying to do not to let that happen. The trouble was that once you started lying to yourself on an almost hourly, never mind daily, basis about the reality of your relationship, once you started pretending not to notice or care about being the lesser' partner, about not being valued or respected enough, you entered a place where the strongest incentive was not to seek out the truth but rather to hide from it. But she had no one but herself to blame for her current situation, she reminded herself.

She had known right from the start what kind of man Marco was and the type of relationship he wanted with her. The problem was that she had obviously known Marco’s agenda rather better than she had understood her own. Although she tried not to do so sometimes when she was feeling at her lowest—times like now—she couldn't stop herself from giving in to the temptation of fantasising about how Marco could be different: he would not be so fabulously wealthy or arrogantly sexy that he could have any woman he wanted, but instead he'd be just an ordinary man with ordinary goals—a happy marriage, a wife...Her heart kicked heavily, turning over in a slow grind of pain. She thought of children—theirs—and it turned over again, the pain growing more intense.

Why had she been such a fool and fallen in love with Marco? He had made it plain from the start what he wanted from her and what he would give her back in return, and love had never been part of the deal. But then, way back when, she had never imagined that she would fall for him. At the beginning, she had wanted Marco so much, she had been happy to go along with a purely sexual relationship, for as long as he wanted her.

No. she had no one but herself to blame for the constant pain she was now having to endure, the deceit she was having to practise and the fear that haunted her: one day soon Marco would sense that deceit and leave her. She loathed herself so much for her own weakness and for not having the guts to acknowledge her love or take the consequences of walking away from him through the inevitable fiery consuming pain. But who knew? Maybe walking away from Marco would have a phoenix-like effect on her and allow her to find freedom as a new person.