Fear tightened Chrysander’s chest. “Is she all right? Is the baby all right?”
The doctor motioned him across the room and away from where Marley now quietly lay. “Her injuries are not physical. If they were, perhaps I would be of use. Her distress is mental. If it is as you said, and she has regained her memory, it is that which has caused her immeasurable pain.”
Chrysander stirred impatiently. “What can be done? She cannot be left as she is. There must be something we can do.” The sight of her pale face and her eyes, so huge with devastation, twisted his gut painfully.
“You should return her to your home, to a place that is more familiar. She needs a doctor, not for her physical well-being, but one who can help her mentally.”
“A therapist you mean?” Chrysander asked grimly.
“This is a very delicate time,” the doctor warned. “She is extremely fragile, and remembering such traumatic events could cause an emotional breakdown.”
His face twisted in sympathy, and he reached out to grasp Chrysander’s shoulder. “This will be hard, but perhaps it is for the best. It is good that her memory returned, even if it causes her such distress.”
Chrysander wasn’t so sure of that. With her memory regained, she also knew that he’d tossed her out of their apartment, basically put her into the hands of her kidnappers. She would also recall the cruel words he’d thrown at her. And she would remember her own part in the whole mess.
He ran a hand wearily through his hair. Part of him wished she would have never regained those memories. They had started fresh, without past deceptions and betrayals. Something niggled at him even as those thoughts passed through his mind.
Wouldn’t she have greeted her memory’s return with guilt? All he’d seen in her eyes was hurt. Deep and horrific hurt. There was no guilt, no embarrassment over the fact she’d stolen from him. Just distress so keen that he still felt the knife deep in his chest from the tortured sound of her cry and the memory of her stumbling away from him.
An uneasy sensation took hold of him. He couldn’t help but think that there were things buried in Marley’s memories that he wasn’t going to like.
M arley was only vaguely aware of the things going on around her. After that first pass into oblivion, she registered being carried into a car. She heard Chrysander’s worried voice as he murmured to her, but she closed herself off from him, folding inward.
When she next awoke, she knew she was in a bed. As she looked around the room, recognition sparked, and with it, a surge of fresh agony, hot and raw, seared through her body and robbed her of breath.He wouldn’t do this. Surely even he could not be so cruel as to bring her back to the place they’d shared and the place he’d brutally shoved her from.
She reached for the tears, expecting them to come, but curiously all she felt was an odd detachment, a void of nothingness coupled with the need to get out of this place.
When she sat up, her gaze flickered to a chair by the window occupied by Chrysander’s sleeping form. He was slouched against the arm, his clothing rumpled and the stubble of over a day’s beard shadowing his jaw.
She waited for the rush of anger, of fury, but again, she felt nothing but overwhelming numbness and a need to escape.
She got out of bed, not paying attention to her own rumpled clothing. It occurred to her that maybe she should change, but she couldn’t risk waking Chrysander. No, she needed to be away. She couldn’t look him in the eye knowing that he’d made such horrible accusations and then left her to the mercy of her kidnappers.
Her thumb brushed across the thin band of her engagement ring, and she wrenched it off. It felt cold in her hand. She gently laid it on the nightstand beside the bed then turned and walked away.
On bare feet, she walked out of the bedroom and to the elevator. Her stomach churned as she relived the night she’d gotten on this elevator as her world crumbled around her, Chrysander’s accusation ringing in her ears. How could he? It was the only thought that played over and over in her mind until she wanted to scream at it to stop.
When she reached the lobby, she paused, realizing that not only would Chrysander’s security people likely be manning the front entrance but that also the doorman would never let her walk out as she was.
She turned and hurried for the back entrance. To her dismay, one of the men she recognized from Chrysander’s detail was standing at the door. She quickly ducked into a service entrance and made her way down the hallway that housed rooms for laundry and building maintenance. A few minutes later, she opened the door and walked out into the pale, predawn light.
Chrysander woke with a monster catch in his neck and shifted in the too-small chair to alleviate his discomfort. He’d wanted to spend the night with Marley tucked into his arms, but she’d resisted his touch at every turn, becoming so distraught that he’d had no choice but to retreat.He’d taken the doctor’s advice and phoned a therapist as soon as he’d returned to the apartment with Marley. The therapist was due to arrive this morning to speak with her. Chrysander just hoped she would be able to.
His gaze moved to the bed, and when he saw it empty, he shot to his feet. He started to bolt from the room, but a glimmer of something on the nightstand caught his eye. When he saw her engagement ring lying there, dread tightened his chest. He ran from the room in search of her. As he went from room to room, his panic grew. She wasn’t anywhere to be found.
Even as he hurled himself into the elevator, he dug out his cellular phone. As soon as the doors opened in the lobby, he ran out and nearly collided with Stavros.
He grasped the man’s shirt in his hands and pulled him up close. “Where is she?”
Stavros blinked in surprise. “We haven’t seen her, sir. No one has. She was with you.”
Chrysander pushed him away with a violent curse. “She’s gone. Call your men in. I want her found immediately.”
He strode to the entrance to question the doorman, but he seemed as baffled as the security man. He turned around to see several of his detail gather in the lobby as they were questioned by an angry Stavros.
Theos! Where could she have gone? She was in no state to be wandering around New York, and the people who had abducted her were still at large.
Worry settled hard into his chest. He turned to go out the door in search of her himself when he saw Theron walk in.
“Chrysander,” he said in greeting. “I was on my way up to see you. How is Marley?”
“She’s gone,” he said grimly.
Theron raised one brow. “Gone? But how?”
“I don’t know,” he said in frustration. “She’s disappeared. I have to find her.”
Theron put a firm hand on Chrysander’s shoulder. “We’ll find her, Chrysander.”
“There is something about this situation,” Chrysander said in a hollow voice. “Something that doesn’t add up. I saw no guilt in her face when she remembered everything. All I saw was complete devastation, as if she were the one who was betrayed. She was so distraught that she had to be sedated, and she becomes extremely upset when I get close to her. She isn’t herself right now. I fear where she may have gone. Her frame of mind is not good.”
“I will help you, Chrysander,” Theron said quietly. “Do not worry. We will find her.”
Marley shivered as she eased down onto the cold stone bench and clutched her arms around her trembling body. She glanced down at her feet but couldn’t summon any rebuke for having gone out in the chill without shoes or a coat. The only thought she’d had was to get away as quickly as possible. She couldn’t face Chrysander now.Now she knew why she’d been drawn to this place. Her thinking spot, indeed. Just hours before that last night, she’d sat here, afraid of how Chrysander would react to her pregnancy. She’d been right to be afraid. He didn’t trust her. He didn’t love her. And he’d left her to her fate with the kidnappers.
She refused to allow the memories to roll back in her mind. They simply hurt too much. At least now she realized why she’d chosen to forget. All those weeks of living in fear as her kidnappers waited for their demands to be met had paled next to the betrayal Chrysander had handed her when he’d refused.
How could anyone be so cold? Wouldn’t he have been willing to pay such a meager amount of money to free anyone? Even a complete stranger? She’d never imagined him to be so heartless. But he’d cast her aside with little regard for her. She’d been his mistress, someone to slake his lust and nothing more. The fool was her for falling in love with him, not once, but twice.
A small moan escaped her lips, and she closed her eyes as the ache built within her once more. Never had she felt so hurt, so utterly lost.
Her hands closed around the bulge of her stomach, and the tears that she’d thought locked under the ice began to well to the surface.
How could he be capable of such a despicable deception? He had to know she’d remember eventually, and yet he’d spent weeks wooing her, making her love him all over again. Pretending affection for her. And passion. The question was, why?
Was it all an elaborate ruse to punish her? To make her suffer more than she already had? She’d never imagine Chrysander to be so cruel, but it just proved how little she’d known about the man she’d given herself to.
She sat there, rocking back and forth, her arms wrapped protectively around her abdomen. The wind picked up, chasing a chill down her spine, but she ignored the discomfort.
Her name came out cautiously and sounded distant, yet when she looked up, the man was standing just a few feet away, concern lighting his eyes. She recognized him. Theron. No wonder he’d been so resistant to Chrysander marrying her. He thought her the thief that Chrysander did. It was more than she could bear.
She hugged herself tighter and looked down, determined that he not see her tears.
He squatted down in front of her and put a hand on her wrist. “I need to take you back, pedhaki mou. It’s not safe for you to be out here,” he said gently.
She flinched at the endearment. It was Chrysander’s pet name for her, and she wanted no part of it. She shook her head and pulled her hand up in a protective manner.
He glanced down at her feet and swore under his breath. “It’s cold, and you shouldn’t be out here in your bare feet. Let me take you back home.”
She recoiled violently. “No.” She shook her head vehemently. “I won’t go back there.” She slid to the end of the bench, the rough stone scratching against her clothing.
Theron put a hand out to prevent her flight. “Marley, think of your baby. Let me take you back. You’re cold.”
“I won’t go back to that apartment,” she said desperately. She stood, prepared to bolt.
Theron look at her with regret. “I cannot allow you to run. You’re clearly upset and are not dressed for the weather.”
Tears filled her eyes. “Why do you care? I stole from you, remember? I’m just the harlot who snared your brother and tried to ruin his company,” she said bitterly.
Theron’s eyes softened. “If I promise not to return you to the apartment, will you come with me? I won’t leave you like this, Marley.”
She swayed, and he caught her as her knees gave out. He picked her up and began striding away.
She stiffened in his arms. “Please, just leave me alone,” she begged.
“I cannot do that, little sister.”
“I’m just your brother’s whore,” she said, allowing more of the anguish in.
His grip tightened around her. “Theos! Never say that again.”
She turned her face into his shoulder, and hot tears flooded her eyes. “It’s true,” she whispered.
She closed her eyes and allowed herself to drift away once again. It was easy to flee from reality when it represented so much she wanted to escape. She cursed that she’d ever regained her memory. Doing so had destroyed her.
C hrysander strode into the Imperial Park Hotel, waving off members of the staff as they hastened to greet him. The elevator was being held open for him, and he got in and rode it to the top floor.
A few moments later, he walked into the luxury suite usually reserved for VIP guests. His brother met him in the sitting area, and Chrysander scowled furiously at him.“Why didn’t you bring her back to the apartment?” he demanded.
“She became hysterical at the mere mention of it,” Theron said. “She was set to run as far and as fast as she could. I had to promise I wouldn’t take her back to the penthouse.”
Chrysander swore and closed his eyes. He brought his hand to his face and pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers in a weary gesture.
“She’s about to break,” Theron said quietly. “Bring your therapist here to talk to her. Maybe she can help.”
Chrysander looked sharply at his younger brother. “You seem concerned about her.”
“She carries my nephew.” His lips pressed together in a grim line. “It is as you said. There is no guilt in her expression, her actions. She acts as though she has suffered the deepest of hurts. It was uncomfortable for me to see. I suddenly wanted to do all I could to shield her from such pain.”
“Where is she now?” Chrysander demanded.
“Asleep,” Theron replied. “She fell asleep on the way here and never stirred when I carried her up the elevator and put her into bed.”
Chrysander headed for the bedroom, determined to see for himself that she was safe. He made his way through the dimly lit room and stopped at the head of the bed. Even in sleep, her brow was creased in an expression of despair.