I knew why he’d never consulted with a doctor. Stupid pride of Made Men. They’d rather live in ignorance than risk being told that they were shooting blanks. “Too bad. We’re discussing it now. I know why you didn’t want to find out. You didn’t want to know the truth, because you worried it would make you less of a man if it was your fault that your wife couldn’t get pregnant. But now we know it wasn’t your fault. It was Carla who was infertile.” I winced inwardly at my wording. I didn’t want to badmouth a dead woman.
Dante shook his head. “I told you I didn’t want to talk about Carla.”
“Why not? Because you still love her? Because you can’t move on?” He stiffened. “I’m sorry you lost Carla, but I’m your wife now.” Suddenly everything I’d bottled up seemed to come to the surface.
I could see that Dante was teetering on the edge of losing control, and I wanted him to. I was so sick of his sophisticated calm, of his cold logic. “I’m so sick of you treating me like a whore. You ignore me by day and come to me at night for sex. And now you accuse me of cheating on you? Sometimes I think you hurt me on purpose to keep me at arm-length. When will you finally move on? Your wife has been dead for four years, it’s time you stop pitying yourself and realize that life goes on. When will you stop clinging to the memory of a dead woman and realize there’s someone in your life who wants to be with you?”
Dante was in front of me without a warning, his eyes flashing with fury and sorrow. “Don’t talk about her.”
I lifted my chin. “She’s dead and she won’t come back, Dante.”
He clenched his hands at his side. “Stop talking about her.” There was a hint of warning in his voice.
“Or what?” I said, even though the anger in Dante’s eyes sent a shiver of fear down my back. “Do you want to hit me? Go ahead. It can’t possibly be worse than the knife you thrust into my back by accusing me of carrying another man’s child.” It wasn’t exactly the truth. If he raised his hand against me, this marriage would be over once and for all. I knew some women in our world accepted physical abuse, many didn’t have any choice but to do it, Bibiana was one of them, but I’d sworn myself that I’d never bow down to a man like that. Stupid tears made my vision blurry, but I forced them back. I wouldn’t cry in front of Dante.
“You’re so busy honoring her memory and protecting the image of her you have in your mind that you don’t realize how badly you’re treating me. You lost your first wife through no fault of your own, but you will be losing me because you can’t let go of her.”
Dante stared at me, completely frozen. The myriad of emotions in his eyes was impossible to read, and I was too tired to bother. I walked past him and he didn’t try to stop me. He didn’t move at all. “I’ll move into the guest bedroom. There isn’t enough room in our bedroom for me and the memories of your past. If you ever decide you want to give this marriage a chance, then you can come to me and apologize for what you said. Until then, I’m done with us.”
I hurried up the staircase. Dante didn’t try to follow me. The guest bedrooms were always prepared for guests. I slipped into the first, glad when the door shut behind me. I crept into bed. Maybe I’d sealed the fate of my marriage today, but I couldn’t go back to how things had been. I’d rather have a clean cut. Of course I couldn’t divorce Dante and he would never allow it, not that I wanted to, but we could lead completely separate lives despite being married. Many couples in our world did it. We’d go about our days like before, sleep in separate beds and play the married couple in public. We’d have to raise our children together, but most men took a backseat in these matters anyway. Eventually Dante would start frequenting Club Palermo or find a mistress like so many Made Men did, and I would focus all of my energy on taking care of our children. Many women had it worse, and yet the idea that I’d just painted my future made me sick, but I couldn’t pretend Dante hadn’t said those horrible things to me.
It was out of my hands now. Dante had to decide if he wanted to live in the past or move on into a future with me.CHAPTER NINETEENDante didn’t apologize. Not the day after our fight, and not in the weeks after it. Maybe it shouldn’t have come as a surprise. I went to my ten-week check-up to the gynecologist with Bibi. I didn’t even tell Dante about it. If he wanted to ignore the fact that I was pregnant, that was his problem.
One week after the appointment, Dante’s sister Ines and her husband Pietro came to visit us. I had only seen Ines twice since the wedding as she’d given birth to her third child four weeks ago. Zita had made dinner as I was too tired most of the time.
“Can I hold her?” I asked, when Ines lifted her daughter out of the car seat. She searched my face, then handed the baby to me, who had little spittle bubbles in front of her lips and looked too adorable for words. The twins were bickering in the background but I couldn’t take my eyes of the squishy girl in my arm. I carried her into the living room, cooing to her. When I glanced up, Dante was watching me with something close to warmth in his eyes. I lowered my gaze immediately. Later after dinner, Ines and I went into the library to talk while the men and the twins stayed in the living room. Ines began nursing her daughter, then fixed me with a knowing look. “You are pregnant, aren’t you?”