No Coming Back

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Jennifer P.O.V.

I was speechless. For a moment I wasn't sure I heard him right. it was not at all what I had expected him to say.

'A child?' I repeated weakly. 'What do you mean? You want us to adopt a baby'? Then a new thought came to me 'Or do you mean you've found someone you want to marry... .'

'No, damn It', he broke in. His face was flushed, and he seemed almost angry 'I don't want to adopt, and there's no one else I want our child.'

'Our child?' I was stunned. 'But that would mean...'

'Exactly', he snapped. He ran a hand over his hair. 'I know it sounds crazy, given the terms of our marriage, but I've become obsessed with the idea'. He gave me a pleading look 'I know it's a lot to ask, given the way you feel about me, about Richard, but would you just think it over, at least consider it?'

My head was spinning. I had to do something, move around, get away from him. I couldn't think straight. I jumped up and walked across the room to the window, and stood staring down at the traffic going by on the street below. I could feel him watching me, waiting for me to say something.

What could I say? It was the last thing I had expected. The implications of his request boggled my mind. Of course, it was out of the question. I couldn't sleep with a man I didn't love, a man who didn't love me.

What would he do if I refused? Would he leave me? Find someone who would accommodate this sudden lust for offspring? I began to grow angry. It was easy enough for him, I thought, clenching my fists at my sides. A man didn't need emotional commitment for sex. Give him a moderately attractive face and body, and it didn't take much to arouse his instincts.

I whirled around, ready to accuse him of merely wanting to use me when I saw the look on his face. The mouth was set, the grey eyes half-shut, and I knew I was being unfair. Matthew wasn't like that. Although there were aspects of his character I hadn't begun to understand, I did know he was an honorable, considerate man. He liked me, he respected me, and now he wanted me to bear his child.

'You've taken me completely by surprise,' I said at last. 'I had no idea this was what was bothering you.' I smiled weakly. 'I thought you wanted your freedom.'

The heavy dark eyebrows shot up. 'What in the world gave you that idea? I'm perfectly satisfied with our arrangement. I just want a child before I'm too old.'

'Let me think about it for a few days.'

'Of course.' He smiled stiffly. 'I'm grateful you'll go that far.'

It was all I thought about for the next two days, I was tempted, several times, to call Margaret and ask for her advice, but I knew I couldn't do that without revealing to her the true nature of my marriage and opening up a torrent of questions and advice.

The one thing I became gradually certain of was that I really did want a child. I thought of suggesting adoption to Matthew, but that could take years, and why adopt when you could have your own?

The unresolved question uppermost in my mind, however, was whether I could go through the necessary preliminaries with Matthew without love, without desire. Certainly, I reasoned, he wasn't repulsive to me. On the contrary, I found him very attractive. I had just never thought of him that way.

I began to look at him with new eyes. He didn't bring up the subject again, and I knew he wouldn't, but the whole atmosphere in the apartment was changed. We treated each other with elaborate courtesy and kept a distance between us, but the tension in the air was electrifying.

By the end of the second day, I had come to the conclusion that there was no good reason not to do as Matthew wished. After all, I wasn't a blushing young virgin about to be violated for the first time. We were legally married and neither of us was interested in looking for love with anyone else. We would stay together, have a family, and make a life. Still, I hesitated. What more did I want? Why not just give him what we both wanted?

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