Sweet Liar (Montgomery/Taggert 18) - Page 74

So why the hell wouldn’t she go to bed with him?

At midnight, he picked her up and took her into the bedroom, carrying her as she clung to him as though she were a nine-year-old and he her father. When he put her on the bed, she smiled at him in her sleep. Now what was he supposed to do? Put her jammies on her?

“Samantha,” he said, “I’d like to be one of those altruistic, storybook heroes who can undress the heroine without jumping on her bones, but I can’t. You’ll have to undress yourself and put on your own nightgown. I want to make love to you too much to be able to even look at your bare body and still be able to control myself. I just might turn into that rapist you’ve always thought I was.”

By the end of this speech, her eyes were wide open as she looked up at him standing over her. “Mike, thank—”

But he’d shut the door sharply before she could say the words he’d come to hate.


In the morning, Samantha sensed that Mike was different the moment she walked into the breakfast room where he was seated and looking at the newspaper. He didn’t put down his paper and smile at her as he usually did, didn’t wink at her as he often did. Instead, he kept the paper in front of him, reaching out for his coffee cup without looking up. When she said good morning, he still didn’t look at her.

For a moment she thought he might be angry at her because she’d once again imposed on him, but he’d been so very nice to her last night. Of course Mike was always nice, always kind…always the most wonderful human being on the face of the earth, she thought.

Moving to stand behind him, she put her hand on his shoulder. “Mike, about last night—” she began, then to her astonishment, he moved away from her touch. He did not want her to touch him!

Samantha was so stunned by his movement that she had to leave the room. When she returned later, dressed for the day, she hoped she had her facial expression under control. With all the years she’d spent living with her ex-husband, acting, pretending every moment, shouldn’t she be good at acting by now?

He was still sitting at the table, still hidden behind the newspaper. “Mike, about last night,” she said, this time without touching him. “I didn’t mean to impose on you. I didn’t mean to ask more of you than you’ve already given, and, about the money for the furniture, you don’t have to lend it to me and—”

“Samantha,” he said firmly, “I don’t want to hear it. Money is the least of my problems and as soon as I get dressed, we’ll go buy Maxie some furniture. We need to get out of the house anyway because my sister is going to be here today and I don’t want to be in her way.”

With that he left the room, without so much as turning to look at her.

It was a strained day. Usually they talked so much that they tended to talk over the top of each other, but today, there seemed to be nothing to say. Mike did just as he’d promised and took her to Newell’s where she saw floor after floor of heavenly antiques, and he took her to the Antiques Mart where they went to shop after shop, but she wasn’t having very much fun. Doing her best to think of Maxie and not herself, she bought a couple of pretty bed jackets, a bottle of perfume, and even some earrings, but she could think of little else except that Mike was angry with her.

The worst part of the day was when Mike jumped away from her if she got too close to him, a

s though he couldn’t stand for her to touch him. By the afternoon, Samantha was weary with it all, weary with what was happening now, weary with her memory of the past, for her ex-husband had done the same thing to her. In the beginning of their marriage they had held hands and kissed and had enjoyed touching, but after the first few months he couldn’t seem to bear her touching him. Now it was turning out to be the same with Mike. But it was a great deal more understandable with Richard, because she’d been to bed with him. Go to bed with Samantha Elliot, she thought, and be turned off sex with her forever.

By late afternoon she was so nervous that when she accidentally touched Mike’s hand, she jumped. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t mean to touch you. I know you don’t want me to touch you. I didn’t mean—”

Turning toward her, Mike said, “Oh, Sam, you don’t understand at all, do you?” Pulling her into an empty corridor of the Antiques Mart, he drew her into his arms and kissed her sweetly, longingly, her body pinned between the wall and his big, warm torso.

When he drew his lips away from hers, she put her head on his shoulder, her heart beating wildly. “I thought you hated me. I thought—”

He didn’t want to hear what she thought, nor did he want to talk about what was bothering him, he didn’t want to have to put it into words. “I’m taking you to Blair’s and leaving you there because I have to go out tonight and you can’t return to the house.”

All she could do was nod, so glad that he was again looking at her.

In the taxi he was silent and she wished he’d tell her what was bothering him, but no matter what questions she asked, she couldn’t get him to talk. At Blair’s apartment building, he practically dropped her at the curb, waiting only to see that she got inside under the care of the doorman.

“You look as though you could use a drink,” Blair said as soon as Samantha was inside her apartment, which was small and neat and furnished with comfortable, modern furniture. “You and Mike have a fight?”

“I…I think so,” she began as she took a seat on Blair’s couch. “But, actually, no, we didn’t.” Looking at Blair, her face showed her distress. “I don’t know what’s wrong, but Mike’s angry at me and I don’t know why.”

“Sex,” Blair said quickly. “With men at this early stage of courtship it’s always sex. They think of nothing else.”

Taking the gin and tonic Blair held out to her, Samantha grimaced. “It couldn’t be sex because there isn’t any.”

For a moment Blair didn’t understand what Samantha was saying, then she laughed. “Poor Mike. I’ll bet this is a surprise to him. Since he was a teenager I doubt if any female he’s wanted has taken longer than twenty-four hours to fall into bed with him—and that includes high school.”

“If he fell into bed with me, he’d never want to see me again,” Samantha said heavily.

Blair had been trained as a physician, but right now her experience as a woman was of more use to her, and she could see that something was wrong with Samantha. Viewed from a distance, it was odd that Samantha and Mike weren’t spending every minute of every day in bed together, since she’d never seen two people more enraptured with each other. Seeing the two of them together was enough to nauseate a healthy individual. They laughed uproariously at each other’s slightest witticisms, got nervous when one left the other alone in a room, making weak excuses to follow. They looked at each other with eyes so big and drippy they’d make a cocker spaniel’s eyes seem cruel.

As far as Blair could tell, since Samantha had moved into Mike’s house, the two of them hadn’t been more than a few feet apart from each other, except for the day Samantha had gone out with Raine and Mike had followed them and been hit over the head with a rock by a passing stranger—a story which Blair didn’t believe for a second.

Tags: Jude Deveraux Montgomery/Taggert Historical
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