The Rings that Bind(10)

By: Michelle Smart

Nico’s mad idea had been the answer to every prayer she’d had. He wouldn’t expect anything from her other than intellectual stimulation. In return she would have his name and a ring on her finger. Symbols that she belonged to someone. And he wore her ring. A metaphorical symbol that he belonged to her too.

‘I think not.’ His green eyes had darkened into an almost sinister gleam. ‘You see, Rosa, under no circumstances will I allow you to leave. I do not want a divorce. Go up to your room and unpack—you’re not going anywhere.’

Rosa reared back and stared at him. Surely he hadn’t just said what she thought he had? ‘You won’t allow me to leave?’

His mouth formed a thin, grim line. ‘You are my wife.’

‘Exactly. I am your wife—not your possession.’

‘In certain cultures that is one and the same thing.’

‘Well, luckily for me we’re in the UK, and not some backwards country where women have no voice.’

‘I will never agree to a divorce.’

She studied him carefully, half expecting him to crack a smile and say he was joking. Surely he could not be serious? However, she did have one more ace up her sleeve—no one could ever accuse her of being anything but thorough. ‘If you won’t agree to a divorce I will apply for an annulment. This marriage was never consummated. Therefore it is void.’

Not bothering to wait for a response, Rosa walked away. Determined to keep a cool head, she walked steadily up the stairs to her suite, placing a hand to her chest in a futile attempt to temper her thundering heart.

Thankfully she’d had the foresight to pack earlier—a job that had taken less than an hour.

Heavy footsteps neared her and mentally she braced herself.

Nico crossed the threshold into her bedroom, his features so taut he might have been carved from ice. His eyes, though... His eyes shimmered with fury.

‘You do realise you can’t stop me?’ she said coldly.

He folded his arms across his chest, accentuating the breadth of his physique. Nico really was a mountain of a man, filling the space around him, dwarfing everything in the vicinity. ‘I think you’ll find I can.’

‘By using force?’ She didn’t believe he would do that. Not for a second. He might be over a foot taller than her, and packed full of solid muscle, but she knew perfectly well he would never use that to his advantage.

His lips curved into a cold smile. ‘I don’t need to use physical force, Rosa. I have other advantages to stop you leaving.’

‘Why are you being like this?’ She forced her voice to remain calm. ‘Why can’t you just accept I want out?’

‘I’ll tell you why,’ he said, stalking towards her, his eyes glittering. ‘You see, daragaya, I have just learned that not only have I been cuckolded but, to add insult to injury, you want to humiliate me too.’

It was the casual, almost sneering way he called her his darling wife that did it. Something inside of her snapped. Gazing up at him, mere feet away, close enough for her to feel the heat emanating from his powerful body, she said, ‘Cuckolded? Humiliated? What planet are you on? How many women have you slept with since we married?’

Oh, he had been discreet. She would give him that. But there was no way a man as overtly masculine as Nico would go eleven months without sex.

‘Do not try to twist the subject. We are not talking about me. We are talking about you and the fact you want to advertise to the world that we never have consummated our marriage.’

‘You know damn well I won’t be doing anything of the sort.’

‘You think the press won’t leap on a nugget like that? You think I want to be the butt of everyone’s gossip? To know friends and business acquaintances will speculate over the reasons you and I never had sex?’

Rosa turned her face away, a slow burn crawling up her neck.

Lord, she did not want to think of them having sex. It was bad enough dreaming about his hard, naked body taking her passionately and then waking up in the morning with a burning need deep inside her, knowing there was nothing she could do about it other than take as cold a shower as she could bear and push it from her mind. At least she could control her conscious thoughts.

She took a step away from him—away from that citrusy, masculine scent that was starting to swirl around her senses. ‘I don’t relish that scenario any more than you, but if you refuse a divorce you will leave me no other option than to go down the annulment road.’

‘I will deny it,’ he said, staring at her unsmilingly. ‘I will tell the courts that you are a fantasist.’

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