Christakis's Rebellious Wife(5)By: Lynne Graham
Marisa Glover, the celebrated divorce lawyer by Nik’s side, studied Betsy with cool blue eyes and quite casually asked her why she believed that a woman who had been a penniless, dyslexic waitress before her marriage and had not worked since should have a legal claim on half her husband’s estate.
‘Let’s face it...you have no children to support,’ the icy blonde beauty reminded the table at large.
All of a sudden, Betsy was bone-white and reeling from the stream of virtual body blows landing on her with the devastating efficiency of bombs, her skin squeezing tight over her bones in horror. Nik had told them; he had told them she was dyslexic and mortification drenched her like icy water thrown in her face. As for the reminder that she had no children, that was an even more cruel strike considering that Nik had comprehensively and deviously denied her what she had so desperately wanted.
Her lawyer stepped in to steer the topic in a more practical direction.
Nik scrutinised Betsy’s pale, taut profile, the anxious flicker of her lashes, the tightness of her lips, and knew she was hurt, humiliated and still recoiling from Marisa’s opening salvo. Marisa was the best divorce lawyer in London and an unashamed barracuda and Nik always employed the best. But now his perfect white teeth were gritted, brown fingers clenching into a fist against a long, powerful thigh. Had Betsy expected him to play nice? Had she thought anything could still be sacred, that anything could remain a secret in their divorce? Could she still be that innocent?
He was still waiting for her legal team to attack, for they certainly had the ammunition. It went without saying that he did not want the curious facts of his hush-hush vasectomy aired in an open court. That was private, considerably more so in his opinion than the dyslexia she was so ashamed of suffering from. Even so the shaken look of pain and betrayal etched in her tightly controlled but oh, so expressive face got to him whether he liked it or not and distaste and impatience rose in Nik for degrading Betsy in front of witnesses.
Annersley was currently engaged in reminding Marisa that Nik had refused to allow Betsy to work during their marriage, implying that Nik was a dinosaur and a bully of no mean order but doing so in the politest of terms. Marisa was pointing out that Betsy lacked the education required to gain anything other than the most menial of jobs and that a man of Nik’s social status could hardly be expected to tolerate a wife taking an unskilled, humble position.
Something suddenly snapped Nik’s hold on his volatile temper. Without even thinking about what he was doing, he ground his hands down on the edge of the conference table and sprang upright with an abruptness that startled everybody present. Lean, strong face hawklike, he growled, ‘Diavelos...enough! This ends here. Marisa, you are well aware that Betsy single-handedly runs her own business at Lavender Hall—’
‘Well, yes, but—’
‘We are finished here for now,’ he ground out with harsh finality. ‘I will discuss this no further—’
‘But nothing’s been agreed,’ Annersley complained.
Betsy stole a grudging glance at Nik, scarcely able to credit that he had brought the humiliating session to so swift a halt. Surely he could not have done that for her benefit? She refused to believe that; he had to have some clever ulterior motive. She felt wounded and degraded after having her dyslexia thrown in her face, not to mention the reminder that she had never completed her education to an acceptable level. It infuriated her that she could blame Nik for that last reality, for Nik had complained so bitterly when she was attending evening classes to study for her A levels that she had eventually given them up. Nik might have travelled the globe constantly during their marriage, but when he was at home he had made it very, very clear to her that he always expected her to be there. And she had finally given way to his selfish protests, naively believing that he was admitting to needing her and secretly gratified that the male who did not tell her he loved her could not bear to find her missing or unavailable.
‘There will be another meeting,’ Nik decreed, striding to the door without another glance in Betsy’s direction.
* * *
Betsy got off the train and walked to her car.