Home > Mistress of the Game(9)

Mistress of the Game(9)
Author: Sidney Sheldon

Bending his head reverently, he kissed his wife’s belly, murmuring endearments to his unborn child.

Soon the baby would be born. Then all their troubles would be over, the pain of the past forgotten.

Eve’s labor was long and agonizing. While the press huddled like baying bloodhounds beneath her hospital window, Eve spent sixteen grueling hours feeling her body being ripped apart from within.

“Are you sure you won’t consider a pain killer, Mrs. Webster? A shot of Pethidine would really take the edge off your contractions.”

“My name is Blackwell,” Eve hissed between clenched teeth. “And no.”

Eve was adamant. No drugs. No relief. She had conceived this child to wreak her vengeance, to bring righteous suffering to her enemies and to reclaim her stolen inheritance: Kruger-Brent. It was right that he should be born from suffering. That the first sound he heard should be his mother’s screams.

If she didn’t despise him so intensely, Eve might almost have felt sorry for Keith Webster. The pathetic, inadequate milquetoast she’d been trapped into marrying actually believed she was happy to be having his child! Hovering over her like an old maid, full of pity for her morning sickness…except it wasn’t morning sickness at all. Eve’s violent bouts of vomiting were triggered by pure revulsion. The very idea of Keith’s seed growing inside her was enough to make her retch.

True, she had allowed him to impregnate her. This baby was no mistake.

He thinks I conceived out of love.

Eve laughed aloud. The arrogance of Keith’s madness knew no limits.

The truth was that Eve Blackwell hated her husband. Hated him with a murderous passion so strong, she was surprised the nurses couldn’t smell it on her skin.

When Keith had first removed Eve’s bandages and shown her her ruined face, five long years ago, she’d screamed until she passed out. In the weeks that followed, she had sobbed and raged, her emotions swinging wildly from shock to disbelief to terror. At first she’d been so desperate she had actually clung to Keith. Yes, he’d done this terrible thing, but he was all she had. Without his protection, she feared being flung to the wolves, torn to shreds like a hunted animal. As the years passed, however, Eve stopped worrying about Keith abandoning her. She realized, with amused horror, that the man was so deranged he actually still found her attractive. Keith Webster had turned Eve Blackwell into a monster: the Beast of the Blackwells. But she was his monster. To Keith, that was all that mattered.

“The baby’s crowning, Mrs. Web-Ms. Blackwell. I can see the head!”

Eve wished the nurses would stop smiling. Didn’t they realize the agony she was in? It was like being attended by a troop of giddy schoolgirls.

Thank God Keith had agreed to stay in the fathers’ waiting room.

Eve had begged him: “I want you to still find me sexy, my darling. You know what they say about men who watch their wives give birth. It ruins, you know, that, forever.”

Keith insisted that nothing could dim his passion for her. But to Eve’s astonishment, he’d agreed to stay away.

“One more push! You’re almost there!”

The pain was so strong Eve was surprised she hadn’t lost consciousness. Like a riptide it pulled at her till she was no longer aware of anything but the sensations deep inside her womb.

She thought about Alex, realizing for the first time how physically painful and terrifying her sister’s death must have been.


It was ironic. Eve thought about all the time and effort she’d put into trying to kill her twin over the years: setting her nightgown alight at their fifth birthday party; arranging riding accidents, sailing accidents and finally the whole complicated murder plot with George Mellis. (Knowing George was both penniless and psychotic, and that his rich-playboy routine was all an act, Eve had encouraged him to woo and marry her sister. The plan was for George to win Alex’s trust, persuade her to make a new will that left him everything, including her controlling stake in Kruger-Brent, then get rid of her, splitting the inheritance with Eve.)

But somehow Alexandra had survived every one of Eve’s elaborate schemes. The bitch was like one of those novelty birthday candles you couldn’t blow out. And then bam! Out of nowhere, a simple act of God had come along and erased her, like the unwanted stain she was.

Alexandra Blackwell, Kruger-Brent heiress and famous beauty. Dead in childbirth at the age of thirty-four.

It was so perfect, it was almost biblical.

Eve heard a loud, feral noise. It took a moment to register that it was her own voice, screaming as the final contraction racked her body. Seconds later, she felt a warm wetness between her legs and the frenzied kicking of tiny legs. A slimy, bloody creature, covered in waxy-white vernix, slithered into the waiting arms of the midwife.

“It’s a boy!”

“Congratulations, Ms. Blackwell!”

One of the nurses cut the cord. Another cleaned up the afterbirth.

Weak with exhaustion and blood loss, Eve slumped back against the sodden sheets. She watched as the nurses cleaned and examined the baby, ticking things off on a chart. Suddenly she felt choked with panic.

“What’s wrong with him?” She sat bolt upright. “Why isn’t he crying? Is he dead?”

The midwife smiled. Well, how about that for a surprise? Eve Blackwell had been so detached and hostile during the birth-quite frankly, she’d been an out-and-out bitch to the nursing team-they’d begun to suspect she didn’t want her baby. But obviously they’d misjudged her. The concern in Eve’s voice now was unmistakably genuine. She’s going to make a great mommy after all.

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