I dress simply in a mint green dress, its hem faultlessly grazing the tops of my knees. I encircle my throat with two rows of creamy pearls. Nothing elaborate. It wouldn’t be appropriate to display my triumph. Some decorum and subtlety is called for. And yet this dress knows how to ride up my thighs when I sit down. Maybe… He will slide his hand up the inside of my thigh and, moving aside my knickers, insert his strong fingers into me, one, two, maybe even three… Forcing them deeper and deeper, working them furiously, until I gasp. Until I come, drenching his hand.

I imagine him pushing my dress up so it bunches around my waist. He will roughly tear away my knickers, open my long, slender legs wide, and while I arch my spine with uncontrollable lust, he will eat me out like a wild beast. And I will hold him by the hair until… I climax again.

‘You taste so much better than her,’ he will say to me.

My legs are trembling and my knickers are wet. I push a finger into my own wet hole, and pulling it out put it into my mouth. This is me. That is what he will taste. Then a thought: You don’t have much time. I snap out of my fantasy. I must be the picture of calm loyalty.

Quickly, I move to my dressing table.

Nearly black mascara, smoky brown eyeshadow and luscious berry lipstick. I press my lips together, and let the color pigments spread. Nice. Very nice. I’ll just be soft and innocent. That always works. I dab perfume—potent and specially created for me—behind my ears, on the insides of my wrists and then a strip on the insides of my thighs. I do not change out of my wet knickers. I actually relish the thought of sitting next to him, wet. Maybe he will smell me.

For an instant I consider changing into something more revealing.

The soft peal of the doorbell stops me cold for a second. Too late. Mint green will have to do. I lay my palm on my stomach. I am as nervous as I was on our first date. What a night that was. We dined at Nobu and ended up at a party. How happy I was then. Everywhere we went people looked at us with envy. We were the golden couple.

I take a deep, steadying breath and walk to the door. My footfalls are light and noiseless on the thick carpet. With each step I become calmer, more clear in my purpose. I open the door smiling softly, knowing I am looking my best, and my face is radiant with the pure love I have for him.

‘Hello Victoria,’ he says politely.

His eyes. His eyes. So flat and cold. He has changed. He has changed. The rush from heaven to hell is dizzying. I am overwhelmed with grief as one is after a death. I take Blake’s hand and, bending one knee in a gesture of respect reserved only for the highest ranking leaders, kiss it.

‘Don’t,’ he grates harshly, yanking his hand away. ‘I am not my father.’

Confused and slightly unsteady, I rise. How different he is.

‘Please come in.’ I let the door yawn wider and he steps through. I can do this. He stands awkwardly in my hallway. I turn away from him and close the door. My heart is breaking. Has that f**king bitch poisoned him against me?

‘Let’s have some tea,’ I say, turning to face him. My eyes are schooled, innocent, seemingly totally unaware of what he has been doing with the slut.

He seems about to say something, changes his mind, and nods. I had raised my victory flag too early. I have not won yet. He does not want to be here. He does not want me. I keep my expression neutral, friendly. We go into the living room where a sumptuous tea is waiting. As we enter the living room, I see Maria, my housekeeper, slip out of the front door.

I indicate the divan and we sit next to each other. Tia, my solid chocolate Persian, poses on her chair across from us. My eyes graze the thigh next to mine. Under the fine wool it is sculptured with hard muscles. I have seen the photographs. I grasp the teapot and pour tea into two cups. I know exactly how he likes his—black, two sugars.

‘Milk?’ I ask.



‘Two please.’

He watches me as I drop two sugar cubes into his tea. I hold it out to him. I am dying to touch the shapely, masculine fingers, but I don’t. He takes the saucer by its lip, far away from my fingers. I raise my eyes towards him and take a small sip of my tea—milk, no sugar.

‘I’m sorry about your father. He was a good man.’ I smile sadly at him. I don’t have to pretend sorrow. The death of his father is a great, great blow to me. He was an ally, a very powerful ally. A friend I could trust with my back. One who shared the same goal. But he is gone now.

‘Thank you.’ His voice is far away.

‘And now you are the head of the Barrington fortune.’

He frowns. It makes him look commanding.

I reach for a gold-rimmed plate of fruitcake. Since he was a boy he never could resist fruitcake. I had these specially ordered from my father’s chef. ‘Would you like a slice?’

‘Thank you.’

I watch him bite into it. He is perfect. From the bold, hard slash of his mouth to the taut cheekbones to his naturally bronze coloring, to the dark hair, he is perfect. He is my heart. He is mine. The thought is fiercely possessive and feels right. I must have him or I will die.

I reach under the white muslin for a scone. It is still warm. I butter it, spread a thin layer of jam, bring it to my mouth, and realize I will be sick if it passes my lips. But he is watching me with the narrowed eyes of a predator. Narrowed and assessing. What is he thinking? I have photos of him when he is with that ridiculous woman, when his eyes are caressing and infinitely tender. I take a small bite, chew until I can no longer bear it in my mouth, and swallow. A mouthful of tea makes it go down.

‘Look, I might as well come clean right away. I’ve fallen in love with Lana,’ he announces abruptly.


I think my eyes widen. From the moment I met his cold, dead eyes at the front door I had been expecting such a declaration, but my reaction was involuntary. Simply couldn’t help it. Hearing the harshness of his words. No ‘Sorry I wasted your f**king time. Sorry I led you on a merry dance all these years. Sorry I irreparably shattered your heart into a thousand sharp shards.’ Nothing. Just that arrow right into my heart. A sick fury rises inside me. The fury of being denied, deprived. When I was two I didn’t throw myself on the ground in a tantrum, I used to run to the servants and kick and punch them hard. Until the fury was appeased and abated. I cannot show him that rage. I lower my eyes quickly.

‘I’m really sorry,’ he says.

His voice is gentle, but when I look up at him, his eyes are watchful, utterly, utterly unrepentant and full of the realization of how foolish the idea of marrying me was. How could he ever have thought he could marry me and play house?

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