Conveniently His(7)

By: Penny Jordan


‘But you want children, a family.’

There was no hesitation in his voice this time and once again she was astounded by his perception.

‘I need a wife, Sophy,’ he continued, ‘someone to look after the children and to run my home but not someone to...to share my bed.’

The words sank in slowly.

‘You mean a...a marriage of convenience?’ Sophy asked him uncertainly. ‘Is that legal...is...?’

‘Perfectly, since no one will know the truth apart from ourselves.’

‘But, Jonathan, it’s crazy! Just because Louise... Is that why you want to marry me?’ she asked, staring at him. ‘To stop—’

‘It’s amazing the lengths some of your sex will go to, to secure what they consider to be a wealthy husband and I’m afraid I am wealthy, Sophy.’

She knew that, and while it had never particularly concerned her she could see, now that he had mentioned it, that he would be quite a financial catch for a woman wanting to marry only for money. Suddenly she felt quite protective towards him.

‘The children need you as well, Sophy,’ he told her. ‘They love you. With you they would be secure.’

‘If I don’t agree, what will you do...put them in some sort of institution?’

Her mouth went dry at the thought. It was true, she thought bleakly, feeling the pain invade her heart. She did love them...perhaps all the more so because she knew she would never have any of her own.

She watched Jonathan shrug uncomfortably and get up to pace the room. ‘What else can I do?’ he asked her. ‘You know how much time I spend away. It’s not fair to them. They need a settled background. They need you, Sophy. I need you.’

‘To protect you from the likes of Louise.’ Sophy agreed drily, adding teasingly, ‘Is the thought of an attractive young woman wanting to seduce you really so very repulsive, Jon?’ She knew the moment the words left her lips that they were the wrong ones.

Slow colour crawled up under his skin and he turned away from her saying, in a faintly stifled voice, ‘I must confess, I do find such determined women...er...intimidating. I had a very domineering mother,’ he added almost apologetically.

Busy drawing the inevitable Freudian conclusions it was several seconds before Sophy observed the faintly risible gleam in his eyes and then it was so brief that she decided she must be imagining it. After all what could Jon be laughing at? It was no laughing matter for a man to have to admit he was frightened of the female sex. After all, didn’t she herself hold an almost equal fear of his own, albeit for different reasons. Temptingly the thought slid into her mind that as Jon’s wife she would be safe for all time from her own fears about her lack of sexuality. There would be no uncomfortable reminders in her unwed state about her inability to respond to his sex nor any fear that others would discover it and mock her for it as Chris had done.

Chris! No one would ever want to marry her, he had said. She took a deep breath.

‘All right, then, Jon. I agree. I’ll marry you.’

The moment she heard the words she regretted them. Had she gone mad? She couldn’t marry Jon. She couldn’t but he was already coming towards her, grasping her wrists and hauling her to her feet.

‘You will? Sophy, that’s marvellous. I can’t thank you enough!’ He made no attempt to touch her or to kiss her. Then again, why should he? She wouldn’t have wanted him to.

Panic set in. ‘Jon...’

‘I can’t tell you what this means to me, to be able to keep the children.’

The children. They would be her family. Already she loved them and found them a constant source of delight. She would have this house, its vast sprawling garden...a whole new way of life which she knew instinctively would delight her. She was no ardent career woman and it was a fallacy these days that housewives and mothers degenerated into cabbages. She would have the constant stimulation of the children’s growing minds.

But to marry Jon of all people. She glanced at his tall, slightly stooping frame. Wasn’t Jon the ideal husband for her, though? an inner voice asked. Jon, whose lack of sexuality would always ensure that he never learned of her humiliating secret. With Jon there would be no fear of rejection or contempt. Jon wouldn’t care that sexually she was frigid—wasn’t that the word—she goaded herself. Wasn’t frigid the description of herself she was always shying away from, fighting against facing, but the truth nonetheless?

‘I...er, thought we might be married by special licence. Perhaps next weekend?’

Special licence. Sophy came out of her daze to stare at him. ‘In such a rush. Is that necessary?’

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