No Regret

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Jennifer P.O.V.

I woke up in the middle of the night, my whole body still tingling from Matthew's passionate lovemaking. I had fallen asleep in his arms, and –as a memory came back to me, the renewed desire came with it. I stretched contentedly, a little smile on my face, and turned to reach out for him. The other side of the bed was empty. He had gone. With a sharp pang of disappointment, I rolled back on to my pillow and stared into the darkness.

Why had he left me? Hadn't I pleased him? Perhaps I had appeared too eager. My cheeks burned as I recalled the wild abandon with which I had responded to his lovemaking. I sat up in bed and suddenly realized I was still naked. I sank back down with a groan. What had got into me? Matthew must be disgusted me. I tried to form a mental image of him as he had appeared to me earlier tonight, aroused, splendid in his naked masculinity, the grey eyes blazing with desire, the warm hands and mouth worshiping my body, my husband in every sense of the word.

But all I could envision now that he was gone was the cool remote stranger I shared an apartment with. Was tonight, the intense physical passion we had shared, only a dream? No, I thought, vividly aware that my mouth and breasts were still sore from his violent lovemaking. Richard had never made love to me like that, and the experience was unforgettable.

Oh, why he left me, I groaned. & switched on the lamp and got out of bed to retrieve my nightgown, still lying on the floor by the dressing table where Matthew had removed it earlier. I slipped it on and glanced into the mirror. As I stared at my passion-drugged reflection, recalling again his kiss, his touch, his naked desire, it slowly began to dawn on me why I had been so afraid of a physical relationship with him.

I'm falling in love with him, I thought with a gasp of horror. How else could I explain my mindless response, my thrill of pleasure at the desire I had evoked in him? Then I sank down on to the padded stool and, covered my face with my hands. Before tonight, I knew I had liked him, enjoyed being with him, admired and respected him. All it took was the recognition of my physical desire for him to push me to the brink of love.

How could I have been so blind? The fear, the hesitation, the doubts of the last few days had stemmed from an instinctive need to protect myself against this very thing. I gazed bleakly at my reflection in the mirror, thinking over our night together.

The stark fact was that even though Matthew quite obviously felt desire for me, not one word of love had passed his lips. He had no intention of falling in love with me. He was still under the powerful spell of the beautiful, elusive Beth.

Matthew wanted a child, I concluded at last, but he didn't want a wife.

I got up late the next morning. I had gone back to bed in the middle of the night and finally fallen into a fitful sleep. Matthew had already gone. He'd made his own breakfast and left his dishes piled neatly in the kitchen sink.

As I moved mechanically through the day, doing what had to be done, I clung to the frail hope that I might have been mistaken about Matthew's feelings for me, the reason he had left me last night. He was a considerate man, sensitive to the needs of others. Perhaps he hadn't wanted to embarrass me by his presence in my bed first thing in the morning.

By late afternoon, I was even feeling a little cheerful. I loved my husband. What was so terrible about that? There was still the chance that he might learn to love me, too.

I was in the kitchen preparing dinner when I heard his key in the lock. My whole body went rigid. As his footsteps came closer, I tried to busy myself at the sink, my back to the door. I wanted to appear as casual as possible, but my heart was thudding so hard and my fingers trembling so uncontrollably, I was afraid I'd drop the dishes I was rinsing.

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