Proposition -Part 2

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Jennifer's P.O.V:

I knew this was probably true, but I couldn't shake the little nagging worry at the back of my mind. 'I suppose you're right', I said dubiously.

He gave me an appraising look. 'It's the deception that bothers you, isn't it'?

I nodded.' I suppose so. Margaret may be a bully, but she really does care about me. I don't like to deliberately deceive her. Or William'.

'Just don't lie to them', he said, moving further into the center of the floor. 'Let them draw their own conclusions'.

It was more crowded here, and I felt myself being pushed from behind towards Matthew, so my body was soon molded firmly up against his long length. The sudden unexpected intimacy gave me a strange breathless sensation.

I glanced up at him through my heavily fringed eyelashes, but he seemed to be staring off into space, preoccupied, lost in a world of his own. Someone jostled me again from behind, and I stumbled awkwardly. His arm tightened around me, his palm flat against my back as he pulled me close in a protective way. I could feel the tips of his fingers resting on my bare back, just above the low cut bodice, and a brilliant wave of warmth swept over me.

Suddenly, I thought about the night I had driven him home from Margaret's dinner party. He had been drunk, I knew and had forgotten what he'd done until I reminded him the next day. I believed I had put it out of my own mind. Now, however, as he held me, I remembered it all quite clearly, the way his mouth had felt on me, his hand on my breast, and the intensity of my feeling astonished me.

I pulled away slightly and gave him a more direct look. His face was grim and set, but he appeared to be entirely unmoved by the close contact. 'Can we go back to the table now'?' I pleaded. 'This crowd is getting to me'.

He nodded and we started to make our way around the dancing couples back to our table. He wasn't touching me now, but I was quite conscious that he was right behind me and almost painfully aware of the strong body that pressed up against me momentarily from time to time.

After that I danced once with a beaming William, delighted as he put it, to see me 'come out of my shell at last'.

Sitting at the table between dances, I was uncomfortably conscious of the hostile glances shot my way by a disgruntled Lara Jones.

Throughout the rest of the evening, Matthew was attentive and courteous. He chatted easily with the others, danced with each woman in turn, and seemed more relaxed than I had ever seen him before. Then I realized, too, that I'm also felt more at ease in a social situation than I had since Richard's death. the others seemed to accept my fictitious 'relationship' with Matthew easily and naturally, just as he had predicted.

As we drove home later, he seemed as remote and contained as ever, treating me with an aloof courtesy that finally put my apprehensions to rest.

On our way up in the elevator to the apartment, I asked him if he had noticed Margaret's speechless reaction to our appearance at the ball together. He was vastly amused.

'Yes', he said with a smile. 'Poor Margaret'.

I snorted as we walked down the hall to my door. 'Poor Margaret, nothing! She deserved it'. Putting my key in the lock, I turned to him now, suddenly shy. It was an awkward moment. Surely, I decided finally, the terms of our agreement didn't include late-night chit-chat alone in my apartment.

'Well, goodnight, then, Jennifer, he said easily after I had stepped inside and turned on the light. It's been an enjoyable evening'.

'Yes it has', I murmured. 'Thank you very much'.

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