“If it makes you feel better, I did not notice her assets.” There was a tone of amusement in his voice, and it only served to irritate her further.
When she tried to wrench away from Chrysander’s arms, he gripped her shoulders and held her fast. His eyes glistened with a need that made her stomach do odd flips. Nervously, she wet her lips, and he groaned just before he slanted his mouth over hers.
She felt as though someone had lit a match as she went up in flames. Oh, yes, her body recognized, craved his touch. His tongue swept over her lips, demanding she open to him. Her mouth parted on a sigh, and his tongue laved hers, hot, electrifying.
She went weak and sagged against him, but he caught her, holding her tightly against him. A low moan worked from her throat, and he swallowed it as it escaped. Her hands scraped across his shoulders, clutching and seeking his strength.
Her ni**les beaded and tingled when his fingers skimmed underneath the waist of her shirt, feathering across her belly and up to where the lacy bra cupped her breasts. Before she could fully process what his intentions were, her bra fell loose, and his thumb rolled across one taut point.
Uncontrollable shudders wracked her small frame as his mouth slid down her throat and lower. He blazed a molten trail to the curve of one breast, and when he took the sensitive nipple in his mouth, she nearly shattered in his arms.
“Please,” she begged.
His head came up at her plea, and shock was reflected in his golden eyes. “Theos mou! I would have ravaged you on the floor,” he said in disgust. He quickly rearranged her bra and settled her shirt back over her body.
Her hand shook as she raised it to her swollen lips. Every nerve-ending in her body screamed in want. Her reaction to Chrysander frightened her. It was intense. Volatile. How easily she’d gotten carried away as soon as he’d touched her.
“Do not look at me that way,” he said in a near growl.
“How?” she asked, her voice shaking.
“Like you want nothing more than for me to carry you to our bed and make love to you all night. I only have so much control.”
She laughed, a hoarse and needy sound. She attempted to calm her response to his words by smoothing her hands down her sides. “And if that was what I wanted?”
He reached out to cup her chin. “The doctor will arrive in a few moments. I want him to examine you and make sure you haven’t overexerted yourself with our travel. Your health is my first priority.”
“I do believe I’ve been shot down,” she murmured ruefully.
He moved so quickly she barely had time to blink. One minute they were a foot apart, and the next she was hauled against his chest, his eyes burning into her.
“Don’t mistake my hesitation for disinterest,” he said in a soft, dangerous tone. “I assure you, as soon as the doctor has given his approval on the state of your health, you will be in my bed.”
He slowly let go of her, and she stepped back on faltering feet. “I believe I hear the helicopter now. That will be the physician and Mrs. Cahill. Why don’t you freshen up and make yourself comfortable. I’ll send the doctor up to see you.”
Marley nodded like a dolt then watched as he strode away. As soon as he disappeared, she sagged onto the bed and clenched her trembling fingers together in her lap. How could she react so strongly to a man who was, for all practical purposes, a stranger? It was as he said, though. Her body recognized him even when her mind did not. She should find comfort in that, but the intensity of her attraction to him frightened her. In just a few moments, she’d so easily lost herself to his touch.
Remembering that the doctor would be up in a few moments, and not wanting to give him any excuse to send her straight to bed, she hastened to the bathroom, where she splashed cool water on her face in an effort to rid herself of the flush that still suffused her cheeks.
She dragged a hand through her curls and frowned at her reflection in the mirror. Her hair didn’t look right. A brief image flashed across her mind. It was her, laughing, but with shorter hair. Hair that curled riotously around her head in an unruly cap. Even with such a brief glance into her memories, she knew she preferred her hair short. So why had she let it grow long? She shook her head and vowed to get it trimmed as soon as she was able.
A knock sounded at her door, and she rushed out of the bathroom. Chrysander walked in, an older man following closely behind him. Patrice entered after them and smiled at Marley across the room.
“Marley, this is Dr. Karounis. He is a leading obstetrician in Athens, and he has graciously agreed to see to your care while we are here on the island,” Chrysander said as he curled one arm around her waist.
“Miss Jameson, it is my pleasure to provide what assistance I may,” the doctor said formally.
She smiled a little nervously. “Thank you. Chrysander fusses a bit much. I’m sure it wasn’t necessary for you to come all this way.”
“He wants the best for you and his child,” Dr. Karounis said with an easy smile. “I can hardly fault him for that.”
She smiled ruefully. “No, I suppose you can’t. Do whatever it is you need to do to persuade him I’m quite all right.” She aimed a glare at Chrysander. “And that I’m perfectly capable of navigating the stairs by myself.”
Chrysander’s expression never wavered. “You will do this for me, pedhaki mou. It is a small thing I ask. Having someone assist you up and down the stairs will take no longer than if you were to go by yourself, and I would feel more at ease.”
Oh, he knew just how to make her feel about an inch tall. She sighed. “Very well.” She looked pointedly at the doctor and then made shooing gestures at Chrysander and Patrice.
Chrysander pulled her hand to his lips and kissed her palm. “After the doctor has finished, why don’t you take a long bath and rest before dinner. I’ll come up for you when it’s time to go down.”
She nodded, and Chrysander’s eyes gleamed in triumph. He turned and walked out of the room, shutting the door behind him.
S omehow, between the visit with the physician and a very long, relaxing bath, Marley had managed to forget all about Roslyn’s presence at the house. When Chrysander walked into their bedroom to escort her down the stairs, she smiled welcomingly.
He stopped in front of her and studied her for a moment. Then he brushed his lips across hers and folded her hand in his. “You look beautiful. Your color is much better, and you look rested.”“The good doctor has proclaimed me fit as a fiddle. So there’s no cause for concern.”
“That is good, pedhaki mou. Your health is important to me.”
He tucked her arm underneath his, and they headed out of the bedroom and down the stairs. As they neared the bottom, Marley looked up and saw Roslyn standing in the entrance to the formal dining room.
Marley stiffened. The woman was immaculately turned out in a designer dress that molded to every single one of her curves. She looked down self-consciously at her own very casual slacks and maternity blouse. She felt a sudden desire to race back up the stairs and change.
Not willing to allow the woman to know how much she had rattled her, Marley tightened her grip on Chrysander’s arm and plastered a smile on her face.
“If I had known we wouldn’t be dressing for dinner, I would have chosen different apparel,” Roslyn said. She made a gesture at her outfit that drew attention to the plunging bodice. “You usually like a formal dinner.” She made her last remark directly to Chrysander and cut her eyes toward Marley as if gauging her reaction to the fact that she knew more about Chrysander’s likes than Marley did.
Chrysander ushered Marley forward, curling his arm around her waist in a casual manner. “Marley’s comfort is what is most important, and since we intend to enjoy a great deal of privacy while we’re here, it makes no sense to be so formal.”
Marley relaxed and wanted to throw her arms around Chrysander. Roslyn didn’t seem to be too affected by his statement, however.
“Come, pedhaki mou. Mrs. Cahill and Dr. Karounis are waiting on us to begin dining.”
They walked past Roslyn, leaving her to follow. Marley could feel the other woman’s malevolent stare boring into her back.
The food, she imagined, was delicious, but she didn’t register the taste for all the attention she paid it. She smiled until her jaw ached and nodded appropriately when Patrice or Dr. Karounis spoke, but her focus was on the quiet conversation between Chrysander and Roslyn.
Chrysander’s head was bent and his expression intent as the two spoke in low tones. When dessert was served and Chrysander showed no signs of turning his attention from the woman who sat a little too close, Marley scooted back in her chair, tossed her napkin down and rose.
Chrysander jerked his gaze to her. “Is everything all right?”
“Just fine,” she said tightly. “Don’t let me disturb you. I’m going upstairs.” Before he could respond, she turned and walked away as calmly as she could.
When she reached the foot of the stairs, Patrice caught up to her. “Mr. Anetakis doesn’t want you to go up the stairs alone,” she said as she took Marley’s elbow in her gentle grip.
Marley turned but saw no sign of Chrysander. He wasn’t so worried that he’d see to the task himself. Obviously Roslyn’s company was a little more important than his posturing over Marley’s safety.
Fatigue beat at her as she entered the master suite and Patrice returned downstairs. The long, hot bath she’d taken before dinner had relaxed her, and she could have gone to bed then. Dinner had just brought back the tension she’d managed to rid herself of, and she knew she wouldn’t sleep now.
She gazed down at the pool and gardens from the large window. The entire area shimmered under bright moonlight. It glowed with a magical quality, one that called to her. Maybe a walk in the garden would soothe her irritation.
She pulled a sweater from the closet and tugged it over her shoulders as she left the bedroom and headed for the stairs.
Not sparing one iota of guilt over the fact that her doting fiancé wouldn’t be pleased that she was ignoring his dictate, Marley eased down the stairs. She held tightly to the banister, cursing the fact he’d made her paranoid with his concern.
She could still hear the murmur of voices filtering in from the dining room as she stepped down into the living room. She turned left and hurriedly crossed the floor to reach the French doors leading to the patio.
When she opened the door and slipped out, a chill blew over her face and raised goose bumps on her neck. Still, it was a lovely evening, and the moon shone high overhead.
She followed the stone pathway that led beside the pool and then veered right into the winding walkway of the garden. In the distance, the faint sound of the ocean soothed her ears. As she walked farther into the garden, the sound of running water overrode the distant waves. To her delight, as she rounded the corner of a thick row of hedges, she found a fountain, illuminated by spotlights angled from the ground.
Marley moved closer and inhaled the brisk night air. The salty breeze tasted tangy on her lips, and her fingers crept higher to pull the sweater more firmly around her body. She shivered with the cold but was reluctant to depart the scenic spot so soon.
“You should not be out here.”
Chrysander’s voice startled her even as his hands closed around her shoulders, spinning her around to face him. Anger glinted in his eyes, and displeasure tightened his jaw.
“How did you find me so quickly?” she asked, refusing to apologize for her flight.
“I’ve known where you were as soon as you left the house,” he said calmly. At her confused expression, he said, “I have security posted all over the island. I was notified the moment you stepped onto the patio. You’ve been closely watched ever since.”
Her mouth turned down into a frown even as she looked around, trying to ferret out the security he mentioned.
“You were not to navigate the stairs alone, and you should not come outside in the darkness unless I am with you.”
“You could hardly accompany me anywhere, glued as you were to your personal assistant,” she said dryly. She wanted to be flip and sound like she couldn’t care less, but hurt registered in her voice, and she clenched her fingers together.
“I neglected you at dinner. For this, I am sorry. I had several things I needed to go over with Roslyn before she leaves in the morning. I will be away from my offices during our stay, and while I can work from here, I’d rather devote the time to you.”
He drew her closer as he spoke, and she felt herself go weak. She hated jealousy and would like to believe she wasn’t a jealous person, but how was she to know? Did she always feel such burning insecurity when it came to Chrysander? She hoped not. It had to be a miserable existence.
She leaned her forehead on his chest and closed her eyes. His spicy scent surrounded her, blocking out the salt in the air and the fragrance of the garden. Warmth enveloped her and bled into her body. “I’m sorry,” she whispered.
He pulled her away and tilted her chin up with one finger. “Promise me you won’t go off like this again. I cannot protect you and our child if you won’t heed my precautions.”
She stared up at him, watched slow desire burn its way through his eyes. Her breath caught in her throat, and all she could do was nod. She wanted him to kiss her again, touch her.
“I have spoken with Dr. Karounis,” he said huskily. His finger trailed up her jaw and then over her cheek and back to her lips.
“What did he say?” she asked breathlessly.
He reached down and swept her into his arms. She let out a startled gasp as she landed against his hard chest.
“He saw no reason I could not make love to you.”