“So much for you driving,” she muttered as they were whisked away toward the airport.
“I cannot drive and hold you at the same time,” Chrysander said patiently.
“I wasn’t aware of the need to be held.”
“I will take care of you.”
It was said with ironclad resoluteness, his voice solemn, and she knew he took his vow very seriously. Realizing she wouldn’t win any arguments with him today, she relaxed against his chest and curled her arms around his body.
He stroked her head and murmured softly in Greek. She was nearly asleep when the car came to a halt. Soon after the door opened, and a shaft of sunlight speared her eyes as she looked up.
Chrysander threw his arm up to shield her then gently turned her head back into his chest. He got out of the car still holding her and walked rapidly toward the helicopter.
“Go back to sleep if you can, pedhaki mou,” he murmured as he climbed in.
But when the whir of the blades started, the fog of sleep disappeared. She contented herself instead with snuggling into the curve of his neck as they lifted off toward the island.
He’d obviously called ahead and issued a montage of orders, because when he walked into the house with her, Patrice had a meal waiting, and Dr. Karounis stood by to monitor Marley’s condition. After an initial fuss, Patrice and the doctor, once they’d assured Chrysander that Marley was well, excused themselves, leaving the two alone.
Marley dug into the bowl of soup first and sighed as it coated her empty stomach.
“You will not skip any more meals,” Chrysander said reproachfully as he watched her from across the table.
“I didn’t intend to skip any,” she said. “I just got sidetracked.”
“I’ll make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
She raised an eyebrow then grinned mischievously. “So it’s back to being no fun then?”
He glowered at her.
That glower reminded her of what had transpired right before she’d fainted. She sobered and looked pensively at him.
“What is the matter?” Chrysander asked.
She fiddled with her spoon then set it down. “Before, when we were at the ruins. Why did you become so angry?”
His expression remained neutral, but she could tell he had no liking for the question. “It was nothing. I was just thinking about work,” he said dismissively.
She stared doubtfully at him but didn’t pursue the matter. When she had finished eating, Chrysander once again swept her into his arms and carried her up the stairs to the bedroom.
He settled her onto the mattress and methodically removed her clothing. By the time he’d pulled away her pants, she lay in only her bra and filmy panties. She heard the catch in his breath just as he turned away.
“Chrysander,” she whispered.
He turned back, the muscles rippling through his body as if he were under a great strain.
“Stay with me. Could we take a nap together? I find I’m very tired after all.”
If he didn’t look so tortured, she’d laugh. She worked to keep her expression neutral as he grappled with her request. Finally he began working the buttons to his shirt. In silence he undressed to his boxers then crawled onto the bed with her.
Then he cursed. She looked inquiringly at him as he stared down at her.
“Would you like something to sleep in? You cannot stay in your bra. It doesn’t look comfortable.”
She blushed but nodded. “A nightshirt will do.”
He got up and returned with one of his shirts. He helped her sit up and unclasped her bra. His hands shook slightly as he pulled the shirt over her head and let it fall to her swollen belly.
With gentle hands, he urged her back down and knelt above her. “Better?”
“Much,” she said huskily.
He settled down beside her and tucked her into his arms. She twisted about, trying to find just the right spot. When she scooted her behind into his groin, she froze, feeling his arousal there against her skin. She started to move away, when Chrysander growled in her ear.
He clamped his arms around her, rendering her immobile. Her cheeks flaming, she tried to relax. The moment he’d touched her, her fatigue had fled. Now she faced trying to sleep with him wrapped around every inch of her body.
His warmth bled into her. He stroked her hair and murmured in her ear. Greek words she couldn’t understand, though the comfort they intended was well recognized. She sighed in contentment as his hand glided down her arm, to her hip, coming to rest on her thigh.
She felt a wave of such utter rightness, and she was stunned to realize the nameless emotion she’d been grappling with was love. Her eyes fluttered open even as she heard Chrysander’s even breathing signal his slumber.
She loved him. It shouldn’t surprise her, but now that she’d acknowledged it, she realized that she hadn’t immediately recognized it after her memory loss. Shouldn’t she have known on some level that she loved this man?
He was complicated, there was no disputing that. Complex, hard and reserved. Well, if she’d broken down his barriers once, then surely she could do so again.
She settled down to sleep, purpose beating a steady rhythm in her mind.
W arm lips kissed a line from her shoulder down her arm. Marley stirred and opened her eyes to see Chrysander’s dark head move sensuously down her body.
“That’s a very nice way to wake up,” she murmured.His head came up, and she met the liquid gold of his eyes. “How are you feeling, pedhaki mou?”
She rolled onto her back and lifted her hand to thread it through his short hair. “Much better. I’m full and had a nap. What more could a pregnant woman want?”
“Our child did not sleep much,” Chrysander said as he slid his hand over her rippling abdomen.
She smiled. “No, he’s been very active lately. The obstetrician said they do the most moving in the second trimester.”
He stared intently at her rounded belly, fascination lighting his eyes. “They don’t move in the last trimester?”
“Yes, just not as much. There isn’t as much room. In the last month, they do very little as their environment gets even more cramped.”
“I would think it would be easier for you to rest then.”
She yawned then covered her mouth with her hand as her jaw nearly cracked with the effort.
“You’re still tired,” he said reproachfully.
“I’m pregnant. I expect I’ll be tired for the next eighteen years. I feel much better though. Truly, Chrysander. Let’s get up.”
He straddled her body, putting one knee on either side of her hips. He looked down at her, his eyes gleaming with a predatory light. “You’re so eager to rise. Why is this?”
She blushed and smacked his chest with her fist. He leaned down and tugged her lips into a kiss. He nipped at the fullness of her bottom lip until it was swollen and aching.
“I have half a mind to keep you in bed until tomorrow morning,” he murmured.
Putty. She was complete putty in his hands. If he so much as breathed on her, she went to mush. She twined her arms around his neck and returned his kiss hungrily. She could feel his erection straining against her, knew he wanted her as badly as she wanted him.
With obvious reluctance he pulled away and climbed off the bed. She looked at him in confusion. Why was he withdrawing?
He reached down and touched her hair, smoothing the tendrils away from her cheek. “You’ve been through an ordeal today, agape mou. I don’t want to tire you any more.”
He seemed as surprised as she was when the endearment slipped out of his mouth. Her eyes widened, and he tensed. Then he turned around and strode to the closet.
She watched him dress and then disappear from the bedroom. He’d called her my love, and while it had given her an indescribable thrill, it was obvious that it wasn’t something he meant to say.
But he had said it. She held tight to that truth as she got out of bed to dress. Not knowing how he felt about her and why he took such pains to hold himself distant had puzzled her from the beginning. Was it because of her memory loss? Did he fear that her feelings for him couldn’t possibly be considered valid while he was still a stranger to her?
She’d focused so much on her own problems that arose from the gaping hole in her past, but it was obvious that he, too, had difficulties with the situation.
If only she could remember. If only she could reassure him that she loved him whether or not she could remember loving him in the past.
All she could do was show him. And hope that her memory was restored before too much longer.
Chrysander sat in his office, staring out the window that overlooked the beach. Marley stood close to the water, her feet bare and the maternity dress she wore rippling in the breeze. He kept careful watch over her and had instructed his security team to do the same. He wouldn’t take any chances after her fainting spell of the day before.Just moments earlier, he’d hung up after speaking to the lead investigator on Marley’s case. There had been no arrests made yet. No leads. The men who had abducted her were still out there. Still a danger to her and their child. It was unacceptable.
The detective had promised to stay in touch and to inform him the moment there was a break in the case, but Chrysander still wasn’t satisfied. He wanted results. He wanted to make the men who’d dared to touch Marley pay.
He focused his attention back on Marley, who was still staring out to sea. Every once in a while she raised her hand to shove the curls from her face, only for them to blow back. She lifted her chin and laughed, and Chrysander could feel the impact from where he sat.
She was beautiful and carefree. Unguarded in the moment. He searched his memory for the times when they had been together. Happy. He hadn’t appreciated it at the time, but their relationship—he now admitted to himself that they’d had a relationship—had been open and undemanding.
So what had driven her to betray his trust? He’d almost have preferred she’d betrayed him with another man; but no, she’d gone after his family, his brothers. And that he couldn’t forgive…could he?
Indecision wracked his brain. A large part of him was still conflicted and angry. But another, smaller part was ready to move on. To forget what she had done and embrace a new beginning. Maybe she’d never remember, and if he was honest, it would make things easier if she never did.
He continued to watch her, and his gaze moved beyond her to where one of his security detail stood on guard at a distance. She continued to defy him, and he pretended annoyance, but all he did was make sure his men shadowed her at every turn. Her determination to go against his wishes amused him because he didn’t sense any real irritation on her part. She liked goading him.
And he knew he was being overprotective, but the fact that her kidnappers were still out there, that they still posed a threat to her and their child, sent dark fear through his veins. She was his. He’d failed her once. No matter that she had betrayed him. He’d sent her and his child unprotected into the hands of her kidnappers because he’d allowed emotion to cloud his judgment.
He turned in annoyance when his phone rang. Tearing his gaze from Marley, he put the phone to his ear.
“Mr. Anetakis.” Roslyn’s voice broke clear over the line.
“Roslyn, have you spoken to Piers about the status of the Rio de Janeiro deal?”
“Yes, sir, and he said to tell you that if you’d answer your phone he’d let you know how things were going himself.”
Chrysander chuckled. “I will deal with my younger brother.”
“If at all possible, you need to attend a conference call tomorrow evening, seven our time. I’ll send out an e-mail with the details. Theron and Piers will both be on hand, but Mr. Diego specifically wished to speak personally with you.”
“I’ll make it,” he said.
“And how are things with you?” Roslyn asked hesitantly.
Chrysander frowned and glanced back to the beach, where Marley stood watching the waves roll in.
“Has she regained her memory yet?” she continued.
“No,” he said shortly.
There was a moment of silence, and he could hear Roslyn’s soft breathing as though she battled over whether to say what was on her mind.
“If that’s all,” he said in an effort to end the call.
“Have you considered that she’s faking her memory loss?” Roslyn said in a rush.
“Think about it,” she said impatiently. “What better way to circumvent your anger than to pretend to have forgotten it all? You can’t even be sure the child is yours. She was in captivity for months. Who’s to say what went on during that time?”
Ice trickled down Chrysander’s spine. “That’s enough,” he said tersely.
“I said enough.”
“As you wish. I’ll phone you if anything changes.”
Chrysander hung up and yanked his gaze back to the beach, but Marley was gone. Could Roslyn be right? Could Marley be faking her amnesia? The thought had crossed his mind when they’d still been in New York and Marley was fresh from the hospital. His instincts said no, but then he’d already been so wrong about her in every way. If someone had told him six months ago that she was capable of betraying him as she had, he would have cut them down to size.
Anger and confusion took turns battering his head. He rubbed a weary hand across his face and closed his eyes. It didn’t really matter what he thought at this point. She was pregnant with his child and that took precedence above all else. He could overlook a lot for his son.