“You asked him that?” she squeaked. Mortification tightened her cheeks, and she buried her face in his neck.
His low chuckle vibrated against her mouth. “I would not endanger you or our child, so I had to be sure I would not hurt you by taking you to my bed.”
He strode back up the path toward the patio, bearing her weight without the slightest difficulty.
“Chrysander,” she protested. “If there are all these security men around who see everything we do, then you shouldn’t be carrying me off like this. They’ll know what you’re doing!”
He laughed but continued on. “You are cute when you’re embarrassed, pedhaki mou. They are all men. They understand very well what it is I do.”
She groaned and kept her face firmly planted, unable to bear the thought of looking up and seeing one of the security men milling about.
He nudged the French doors open with his foot then shouldered them aside as he ducked inside with her. As he climbed the stairs, Marley’s nervousness grew. She wanted what was about to happen, but she also feared it. How could she retain any amount of control when he shattered it with one touch?
Her physical reaction to him made her feel vulnerable, as though she couldn’t shelter any part of herself from him. She wasn’t even entirely sure she wanted to, but until she could fully remember the scope of their relationship, she needed to be able to protect her emotions.
Chrysander laid her on the bed and stared down at her with glittering eyes. He touched her cheek and then let his hand trail down her body and over the swell of her stomach.
He bent and tugged her shirt up then touched his lips to her belly. There was a tenderness to the gesture that made her heart ache. He placed his hands on either side of her head and held his body over hers.
“Is this what you want?”
“Yes, oh yes,” she breathed. She twisted restlessly, wanting him to fulfill the promise in his eyes.
“In many ways this is our first time together,” he said huskily. “I don’t want to frighten you.”
She reached for him, pulling him down to meet her kiss. Her uncertainties evaporated under the heat of his lips. He took command of her mouth, leaving her to clutch desperately at his shoulders.
“I want you,” she whispered when he pulled away from her, his chest heaving.
He stood to his full height, and she stared up at him from her position on the bed. Her lips were full and trembling. Her pulse ratcheted up, and excitement raced through her veins as he reached for the buttons at his neck.
Slowly, with exacting precision, he divested himself of his shirt. It fell to the floor, and he began to undo his pants. Her breath caught in her throat at the familiarity of his actions. He’d done this for her before. Teased her. Taunted her until she was crazy for him.
“You’ve done this before,” she murmured.
A predatory smile curved his lips as the pants fell down his legs. “It is something you enjoy, or so you’ve told me. I like to please my woman.”
Finally the silk boxers inched down his thighs, and she swallowed as his erection bobbed into view. He was simply beautiful. All powerful male. Strength rippled through the muscles in his body as he leaned forward once again.
“And now to rid you of your clothes, pedhaki mou.”
She curved her arms over her chest in a moment of panic. Would he find her beautiful? Would he react to her as she’d reacted to him? She strained to remember more of their lovemaking, seeking more familiarity than the fact that he’d undressed for her before.
He gently took her wrists in his hands and pulled them away until they were over her head, pressed against the mattress.
“Don’t hide from me. You’re beautiful. I want to see all of you.”
She licked her lips as little goose bumps raced across her skin. Her ni**les tightened against the confines of her bra, and suddenly she ached to be skin to skin with him, without the impediment of her clothing or her doubts.
Chrysander lowered one hand and began to pull at her shirt. His mouth found the soft skin of her neck, and he began nibbling a path to her ear. The room went a little fuzzy around her, and she struggled to keep up with the need for oxygen. She simply couldn’t breathe.
Amazingly, he’d removed every stitch of her clothing. Her mouth rounded in shock, and he smiled arrogantly at her as he tossed the last of her undergarments over his shoulder.
He lifted her and positioned her on the pillows in the middle of the bed then followed her down, pressing his hard body to hers. He cupped her belly protectively then slid his hand lower, finding her most sensitive flesh.
“Chrysander!” she gasped as she arched into him.
Hot, breathless and aching, her body tightened as his mouth closed around one hard nipple. A sob escaped her as his fingers brushed across the tiny bundle of nerves at her center.
“I want you so much,” he whispered. “I’ve missed this. We’re so good together. Give yourself to me. Give me your pleasure.”
He covered her, his skin pressed to hers. He inserted one thigh between her legs and positioned himself. She wrapped her arms around him as he slowly entered her body.
Even as he possessed her, he cradled her tenderly against him, taking care not to put too much of his weight on the swell that rested below her heart.
He took her to paradise, and in that moment, for the first time, she felt like she was truly home. That she belonged and wasn’t living someone else’s life. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and only when she found completion in his arms did he shudder above her and slowly come to rest on her body.
When he tried to move, she uttered a weak protest.
“I’m too heavy,” he murmured as he settled beside her. He drew her into his arms and tucked her head underneath his chin. He ran a hand down her side and came to a rest over the curve of her hip. His fingers tightened possessively as she snuggled further into his chest.
For a long moment, they breathed in silence. Warm lethargy stole over Marley, and sleepy contentment weighed on her eyelids.
“Was it always like this?” she asked softly.
He went still against her. “No, pedhaki mou. This…this was much better.”
A smile curved her lips as she drifted off, the smell and feel of Chrysander surrounding her.
M orning sun streamed into the bedroom and cast a warm glow on the bed where Marley lay. She opened her eyes and promptly burrowed more deeply underneath the covers. Her hand sought Chrysander, but she found only an empty spot.
She frowned and sat up, looking around the bedroom, but he was nowhere to be found. The unmistakable whir of the helicopter caught her attention, and she got out of bed and walked to the window.Chrysander stood with Roslyn a short distance from the helicopter, his hand on her arm. She nodded and ducked down to hurry into the helicopter. A few seconds later, it lifted and headed toward the mainland. Marley couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief.
She stood watching a moment longer before she turned and hurried toward the bathroom. After a quick shower, she pulled on her robe and walked back into the bedroom to dress. Chrysander was waiting for her.
She eyed him nervously and pulled her robe tighter around her.
“I’ll leave you to dress,” he said shortly. “I’ll send Mrs. Cahill up to escort you down in half an hour.”
Without another word, he turned and walked out of the bedroom, leaving Marley to gape after him. Hurt trickled up her spine. He’d acted as though he couldn’t wait to be away from her, and after last night, his behavior certainly wasn’t what she’d expected.
And sending Patrice to collect her? If he was so bent on her not navigating the stairs alone, then he could at least see to the task himself rather than foist her off on the hired help like she was some undesirable chore.
She drew her shoulders up and went to the closet to choose an outfit. There were enough concerns she had to deal with without adding a surly, moody man to the equation. Whatever the reason for his fit of temper, he could damn well get over it.
All warm and floaty feelings from the night’s lovemaking evaporated as she walked out of the bedroom. She wasn’t going to stand around like a lapdog and wait to be summoned. It was ridiculous that he insisted on having her helped up and down the stairs like a child.
She was halfway down when she saw Chrysander standing at the bottom, his jaw set and anger flashing in his eyes. She faltered for a moment but gripped the railing and continued downward. It made her feel childish and a little petty to defy him over such an insignificant matter, but at the moment she didn’t mind irritating him in the least.
She met his gaze challengingly as she navigated the final step. His lips thinned, but he said nothing. He put a hand to her elbow to guide her to the breakfast table, but she firmly moved her arm forward and walked ahead of him.
They ate in silence, although she couldn’t really say she ate anything. She pushed the fruit around on her plate and sipped mechanically at her tea, but the stony silence emanating from Chrysander had her wanting to flee.
Several times she opened her mouth to ask him what was the matter, but each time, something in his expression kept her silent. Finally, she gave up any pretense of eating and shoved her plate away.
Chrysander looked up and gave a disapproving frown when he noted the food still on her plate. “You need to eat.”
“It’s rather difficult to eat when a black cloud resides at your breakfast table,” she said tightly.
His lips thinned, and his eyes flickered. He looked as though he would respond, but then she heard the sound of a helicopter approaching.
“It’s a regular airport this morning,” she murmured.
Chrysander stood and tossed down his napkin. “That will be the jeweler. I’ll return in a moment.”
Jeweler? She watched him go, confusion running circles through her head. What the devil did he need a jeweler for? She sat back with a sigh and wondered where Patrice or Dr. Karounis was. At least with them present, she wouldn’t have to face Chrysander’s stormy silence.
She stood and looked around for a moment before finally deciding to venture outdoors. The sun looked warm and inviting, and she had yet to see any of the island in daylight.
She stepped out onto the terrace and immediately closed her eyes in appreciation as the sea breeze blew over her face. It was cool but not uncomfortably so, and sunshine left a warm trail over her skin as she sought out the stone path leading to the beach.
The farther she walked from the house, the sandier the pathway became. She stopped on the walkway and shed her sandals, wondering how the warm sand would feel sliding over her feet.
At the end of the pathway, there was a short drop off to the beach. When she stepped down, her toes sank into the loose grains, and she smiled.
The waves beckoned, and so she ventured toward the frothy foam spreading across the damp sand at the water’s edge. The sea was so blue it took her breath away. Paradise. It was simply paradise. And Chrysander owned it.
The wind picked up the curls at her neck and blew them around her face. After several attempts to tuck the wayward strands behind her ears, she laughingly gave up and let them fly.
She glanced back toward the house, but seeing no one coming, she continued to walk down the beach, paralleling the water. The sounds of the incoming waves soothed her, and soon the tension in her shoulders began to unravel. She felt at peace here, but more than that, she felt safe.
The word startled her, and she stopped where she was, her forehead wrinkling in consternation. Why wouldn’t she feel safe? Chrysander had a veritable mountain of security that he insisted on taking everywhere with them. If anyone was safe, she was. And yet, until they’d landed on the island, she’d felt uneasy, panic just a heartbeat away.
“You’re losing your mind,” she muttered. “Well, you’ve already lost that. Maybe the sanity isn’t far behind.”
Marley spied a large piece of driftwood wedged against a mound of sand, and she walked toward it. There was a place on the end that was relatively smooth, so she dusted off the sand and settled down to sit.
She sighed contentedly. She could sit here for hours watching the waves roll in and listening to the soothing sounds of the ocean. If it was warm enough to swim, she’d be tempted to shed her clothing and wade in. But then she had no idea where all the lurking security men were, and she had no desire to give them a free show.
Movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention, and she turned her head to see Chrysander striding down the beach.
She grumbled under her breath even as he approached. Stopping in front of her, he fixed her with a frown. He pursed his lips then shook his head before moving to sit down beside her on the log.
“I can see you’re going to keep my security team very busy, pedhaki mou.”
She shrugged but didn’t say anything.
“What are you doing out here?” he asked mildly.
“Enjoying the beach. It’s very beautiful.”
“If I promise to bring you out again, will you come back to the house with me? The jeweler is waiting for us, and he must return to the mainland soon.”
She glanced sideways at him. “Why is a jeweler here, and why must we meet with him? Doesn’t one usually visit a jeweler in his shop?”
Chrysander stood and gave her an arrogant look that suggested everyone came to him, not the other way around. He held out his hand to her, and she extended hers in resignation.
“You’re really no fun,” she muttered as he pulled her up to stand beside him.
“I can see I will have to change your opinion of me.”
She tried to pull her hand away as they started back toward the house, but he held it fast. Hot then cold. At this rate, she’d never figure out the man. Memory loss or not, she couldn’t imagine not wanting to tear her hair out around him.