The Sheikh's Secret Babies(9)By: Lynne Graham
Chrissie tilted her head to one side, eyes bright as a turquoise sea and luminous below soft brown lashes. ‘I lived with you, Jaul. Nothing you do or say could shock me.’
Not after the way you abandoned me, but she swallowed that final assurance, too proud and too scared of losing face to risk throwing that in his teeth. But his apparent equanimity burned through her restraint like acid. It was offensive that he could approach her so casually after what he had done to her and utterly unforgivable that he should dare.
‘The sooner you tell me, the sooner you can leave,’ Chrissie quipped, dry-mouthed with the anger she was holding back.
Jaul breathed in deep and slow, fighting to master the stirring ache below his belt. It had simply been too long since he had had sex. He was a normal healthy male in need of release and there was nothing strange about the reality that proximity to Chrissie should awaken old familiar impulses. Somewhat soothed by that conviction, he settled grim dark eyes on her. ‘I have only recently learned that our marriage was legal and that is why I am here.’
So great was Chrissie’s incredulity at that news that she blinked and stumbled back against the bookcase behind her. ‘But your father said it was illegal, that it had no standing in law, that—’
‘My father was mistaken,’ Jaul incised in a smooth tone of finality. ‘My legal advisers insist that the ceremony was legal and, consequently, we are now in need of a divorce.’
Chrissie was deeply shaken by that announcement and her soft pink mouth opened a mere fraction of an inch. ‘Oh, right,’ she acknowledged while she played for time and tried to absorb the immensity of what he had just said. ‘So, all this time we’ve been apart we’ve actually been legally married?’
‘Yes,’ Jaul conceded grudgingly.
‘Well, fancy that,’ Chrissie commented in apparent wonderment. ‘Two years ago I was turned away from the door of the Marwani Embassy with the assurance that I was “delusional” even though our wedding ceremony took place there. Absolutely nobody was willing to see me, talk to me or even accept a letter for you...in fact I was threatened with the police if I didn’t leave—’
‘What on earth are you talking about? When were you at our embassy in London?’ Jaul demanded curtly, standing straight and tall and betraying not a shade of discomfiture.
She stared at him, treacherously ensnared by his sheer physical magnetism. Her tummy flipped and a flock of butterflies broke loose inside her. Jaul had an electrifying combination of animal sex appeal, hauteur and command that stopped women dead in their tracks. So good-looking, so very good-looking he had grabbed her attention at first glance even though she had known he was a player and not to be trusted. Yet she had resisted him month after month until he had caught her at a vulnerable moment and then, sadly, she too had found those broad shoulders and that lying, seductive tongue irresistible.
‘When, Chrissie?’ he repeated doggedly.
‘Oh, a little while after my imaginary husband disappeared into thin air,’ Chrissie supplied. ‘And then shortly after my final visit to the embassy, your father came to see me and explained and everything became clear.’
‘I don’t know what you hope to achieve by talking nonsense like this at a point when all either of us can want is a divorce.’
Chrissie elevated a very fine brow. ‘I don’t know, Jaul...do you think it could be anger motivating me after what you put me through?’
‘Anger has no place here. We have lived apart for a long time. I want a divorce. This is a practical issue, nothing more,’ Jaul delivered crushingly.
‘You do know that I hate you?’ Chrissie pressed shakily, a flicker of hysteria firing her that he could stand there evidently untouched as though nothing of any great import had ever happened between them. Yet once he had pursued her relentlessly and had sworn that he loved her and that only the security of marriage would satisfy him. There was nothing deader than an old love affair, a little voice cried plaintively inside her, and the proof of that old maxim stood in front of her.
Jaul was thinking of the woman who had left him lying unvisited in his hospital bed and he met her angry gaze with coldly contemptuous dark eyes. ‘Why would I care?’