The beginnings of a headache plagued him as he considered the selfishness of that particular thought. He knew, though, that when she remembered, and the doctors had assured him she would, things would irrevocably change between them.
He should still be furious with her, and he should be working to maintain distance between them, but she’d chipped away his resistance during their time on the island. As much as it shamed him, it no longer mattered to him that she’d lied, that she’d stolen from him and his brothers. He wanted things to remain as they were, and if she remembered, then they would be forced to face the events of the past.
And he’d likely lose her.
It bothered him more than it should. She was pregnant with his child, he told himself, and that should be reason enough not to want things to sour between them.
His time here with Marley had brought him back to the times they’d spent together before the night he’d discovered her betrayal. He hadn’t really appreciated her before. He’d taken her and her presence in his life for granted, but now he knew how much he’d liked having her there when he returned from business.
She was fun and carefree. Gentle and loving. All the things he’d wish for in the mother of his child.
But she’d betrayed him. It always came back to that even as he wanted to forget it.
He looked up on hearing his softly spoken name to see Marley standing in the doorway, her hand resting on the frame as she peered in. He shook himself from his grim thoughts and hoped his expression wasn’t as brooding as he felt. Things had been strained and tense between them since Roslyn had come to the island. A fact he regretted but was unable to fully remedy when he still carried his own doubts and uncertainties where Marley was concerned.
“What is it, pedhaki mou?”
“Are you all right?” She let her hand fall and started forward, her steps hesitant.
He guessed he did look brooding.
“Come here,” he said, holding out his hand to her as she neared. He pulled her down onto his lap, suddenly wanting her close. “I have to return to New York.”
A shadow crossed over her face. “When?”
“In the morning. My brother called, and a dignitary we are courting for a hotel project is going to be at a reception at our New York hotel. Piers and Theron thought to handle it, but the man wished to meet with all three of us. It’s something I cannot miss, I’m afraid.”
She looked disappointed, and even as the uneasiness over her going back to New York lingered in his mind, he found himself saying, “You could go with me.”
Her eyes lightened. “I wouldn’t be in the way?”
He frowned. “You are never in the way, agape mou. This would be good, I think. We could announce our wedding plans. My brothers will want to meet you,” he said, warming to the subject. “We could even be married in New York with my family around us and then return here.”
In his mind, the sooner they married, the better.
“I’ll arrange for Dr. Karounis to return to Athens. I don’t think we need him any longer.”
Her smile broadened. “And Patrice? Not that I don’t love her, but she and Dr. Karounis seem to have gotten along extremely well. Maybe she’d like to take a trip to Athens.”
“I’ll extend the offer,” he said with a smile.
“Then yes, I’d love to go.” She threw her arms around him and kissed him exuberantly on the lips. Before he could deepen the kiss, she scrambled off his lap. “I have to go pack!”
He chuckled and caught her hand. “You have plenty of time.”
But still she hurried away, and he stared after her, long after she’d disappeared through the doorway. He should feel relieved that soon they’d be married, and she’d be bound to him, but he couldn’t dispel the uneasy feeling that gripped him.
Chrysander’s jet touched down in New York in the late afternoon, and a limousine was waiting for them when they stepped off the plane. A tall, formidable-looking man stood by the car, and as they drew closer, Marley could see a strong resemblance between him and Chrysander.“Theron,” Chrysander called out. “I did not expect you to meet us. This is a surprise.”
Theron gave a half smile. “Can I not greet my brother?”
Chrysander put an arm around Marley’s waist and drew her forward. “Theron, this is Marley. Marley, this is my younger brother Theron.”
She smiled. “I’m very glad to meet you.”
His gaze flickered impassively over her, and he didn’t return her smile. Slowly hers faded as she read the unwelcoming look on his face. Instinctively, she shrank into Chrysander.
Then Theron’s gaze dropped to the hand on which she wore the engagement ring, and he outright frowned. He stared back up at Chrysander, his jaw tight.
“You will be courteous,” Chrysander said in a very low tone. Even so, she could hear the bite in his voice.
“I’m pleased to meet you,” Theron said stiffly, though his body language said just the opposite. He turned on his heel and walked toward another car parked a short distance away.
Marley looked up at Chrysander in bewilderment. “What was that all about?”
“It is nothing, pedhaki mou. I am sorry he was rude. It won’t happen again.”
“But why was he rude?” His behavior baffled Marley. And then another thought occurred to her. “Have we met before? Of course we would have. He’s your brother. Did I do something to offend him in the past? Has he always disliked me?”
Chrysander ushered her into the car and slid in beside her. “No, you haven’t met before. You needn’t worry that you’ve done anything. It’s just Theron’s way.” He sounded a bit strangled, and her gaze narrowed at what she thought must be a lie.
When his cell phone rang, he lunged for it in his haste to answer. She put her lips together and seethed in silence. Something didn’t add up. Why would his brother dislike her so intensely on sight? And for that matter, why had she never met him before? It couldn’t be normal for her not to have met the family of the man she was going to marry, the father of her child.
She leaned back against the seat and blew out her breath in frustration. While in New York, she fully intended to seek answers and maybe try to dislodge the block that seemed permanently embedded in her mind. There had to be some way to break her memories free. And if there was, she was going to find it. Preferably before she got married.
Yet more was in store when they reached the penthouse. She very nearly growled her frustration when the lift opened and she caught sight of Roslyn. Was she doomed to find this woman in her home at every turn?
Roslyn smiled warmly in greeting, and Marley did not miss that it extended only to Chrysander. She stood beside him while his assistant outlined the schedule of meetings, phone calls he needed to return and contracts that needed his attention. She wouldn’t retreat this time and allow Roslyn any victory, implied or otherwise.
Roslyn spoke in low, sultry tones and touched Chrysander’s arm frequently. She laughed huskily at something he said, all the while overtly ignoring Marley’s presence. The woman had brass. Marley had to admit that. If she weren’t pregnant, she’d give serious consideration to throwing the woman out of the penthouse on her ear.
It was good as fantasies went, but Chrysander would be horrified. She sighed even as the image of the beautifully coiffed woman banned from the apartment cheered her considerably.
Finally, Roslyn made to leave, and Marley’s shoulders sagged in relief. But as the elevator opened to admit her, another man, also bearing a strong resemblance to Chrysander strode off.
She wanted to ask Chrysander just how many people had access to their private quarters but bit her lip.
“It would seem our apartment is a revolving door today,” Chrysander said dryly, and Marley wondered if he’d read her mind.
While Theron’s disapproval of her might have been more subtle, there was nothing left to imagine about this man’s opinion of her. He scowled openly even as Chrysander introduced him to her as his brother Piers.
“A word if you don’t mind, Chrysander,” Piers said, his jaw clenched tight.
“Don’t let me interrupt,” Marley said. She turned and walked toward the bedroom, having had enough of the chilly reception she’d received.
Even as she closed the door, she could hear raised voices and Chrysander’s angry tone. She hesitated a moment, wondering if she should listen to their conversation. Would she want to hear what they were saying? With a sigh, she turned to survey the room that Chrysander had given her upon her release from the hospital.
Not knowing what else to do, she slipped out of her shoes and sat down on the bed. The trip hadn’t been tiring, but sliding under the covers and hiding appealed to her. Her head was beginning to ache from tension, and if she could just get away for a few minutes, she might feel better. And maybe when she woke, there wouldn’t be anyone in their apartment anymore.
When she did wake, she was in a different bed. She blinked the sleep-induced fog away and realized that she was in Chrysander’s bedroom. She stretched and was glad not to feel the pressure in her head any longer.She sat up and saw Chrysander standing across the room looking at her. For some reason, she felt unsure of herself in that moment.
“I must have been more tired than I realized,” she said lightly. “I didn’t even wake when you moved me.”
“You will sleep in our room, in our bed.”
She blinked. “Well, okay. I just didn’t think. That was the room I had before.”
He closed the distance between them and sat down on the bed next to her. “Your place is here. With me.”
She cocked her head. She had the distinct impression he wasn’t just speaking to the fact that she’d gone to bed in another room. It was almost as though he was convincing himself, and others, that she belonged with him.
“Your brothers don’t approve of me,” she said quietly.
His face became a stone. “My brothers have no say in our relationship. I will announce our forthcoming marriage at the reception two nights from now, and we’ll marry in a week.”
And that was that, she thought. The law laid down by Chrysander Anetakis.
He leaned down to kiss her. “Why don’t you dress? We’ll go out for a nice dinner.”
“Lobster?” she asked hopefully then realized what she’d said. Her eyes widened in excitement. “Lobster! Chrysander, I remember that lobster is my favorite.”
He smiled tightly and kissed her again. “So it is, pedhaki mou. I used to have it delivered here, and we’d sit na**d on the bed to eat it.”
She flushed to the roots of her hair but had to admit the image was appealing. Chrysander helped her up, and she went into the bathroom to shower and change. Thirty minutes later, Chrysander escorted her down the elevator and out to the waiting car.
He took her to an elegant restaurant, and they sat in an intimate corner set away from the main dining area. The lighting was low, and it reminded her of Christmas. A warm feeling of nostalgia took hold as she recalled how very much she loved the holiday season.
In another month, decorations would be going up, and many of the shops and restaurants would twinkle with lights and holly. She smiled dreamily as she imagined spending Christmas with Chrysander.
“You look lost in thought, agape mou. With such a sweet smile on your face, I can only hope that I am what is occupying your thoughts.”
She looked across the table to see Chrysander studying her, his bronze skin illuminated by soft candlelight. “I was imagining spending Christmas with you. I was remembering how much I love the holidays.”
“Your memories seem to be coming back,” he said, though there was no joy in his tone.
Her lips twisted into a rueful smile. “Not very quickly, I’m afraid. Just a snippet here and there, and it’s more of an awareness, not a true memory.”
“It will come. You must be patient.”
She nodded, but she could feel the frustration creeping over her. Determined not to let the evening go the way the rest of the day had, she forced herself to relax and enjoy the wonderful meal and being with Chrysander. With no interruptions from family members or personal assistants.
“Would you like to go shopping tomorrow?” Chrysander asked.
She blinked in surprise at the sudden change in topic.
“I have a meeting first thing, but then we could eat lunch together and shop for the things you will need for the reception we will be attending. You could also look for a wedding dress.”
She couldn’t wrap her brain around the image of Chrysander shopping, and she was sure no amount of searching her memory would find one. He simply wasn’t a man to do such a thing.
“Are you sure you want me there?”
He cocked one eyebrow. “As I plan to announce our upcoming wedding, it would be strange if you weren’t. Unless you have no wish to go.”
“No, that isn’t it at all. I’d love to go. I just wasn’t sure….” She trailed off, determined not to dig her hole any deeper.
“Then it is settled. We’ll go out shopping tomorrow after I’ve fed you properly.”
She grinned. “You make me sound like a pet.”
A slow, sexy smile curved his mouth. “I like the sound of you being my pet. My own personal, pampered pet,” he purred.
Heat sizzled through her body like an electric current. She swallowed and took a sip of her water in an attempt to assuage the tingling warmth.
Then he laughed, and the sound sent a flutter of awareness over her nerves. “You like the idea, too, I see.”