The Tycoon's Pregnant Mistress eBook: Page2
Maya Banks (2008)
“Then quit beating around the bush and tell me what I need to know.”
The doctor studied him for a moment before laying the clipboard down on his desk. “Miss Jameson has endured a great trauma. I cannot know exactly how great, because she cannot remember anything of her captivity.”
“What?” Chrysander stared at the doctor in stunned disbelief.
“Worse, she remembers nothing before. She knows her name and little else, I’m afraid. Even her pregnancy has come as a shock to her.”
Chrysander ran a hand through his hair and swore in three languages. “She remembers nothing? Nothing at all?”
The doctor shook his head. “I’m afraid not. She’s extremely vulnerable. Fragile. Which is why it’s so important that you do not upset her. She has a baby to carry for four more months and an ordeal from which to recover.”
Chrysander made a sound of impatience. “Of course I would do nothing to upset her. I just find it hard to believe that she remembers nothing.”
The doctor shook his head. “The experience has obviously been very traumatic for her. I suspect it’s her mind’s way of protecting her. It’s merely shut down until she can better cope with all that has happened.”
“Did they…” Chrysander couldn’t even bring himself to complete the question, and yet he had to know. “Did they hurt her?”
The doctor’s expression softened. “I found no evidence that she had been mistreated in any way. Physically. There is no way to find out all she has endured until she is able to tell us. And we must be patient and not press her before she is ready. As I said, she is extremely fragile, and if pressed too hard, too fast, the results could be devastating.”
Chrysander cursed softly. “I understand. I will see to it that she has the best possible care. Now can I see her?”
The doctor hesitated. “You can see her. However, I would caution you not to be too forthcoming with the details of her abduction.”
A frown creased Chrysander’s brow as he stared darkly at the physician. “You want me to lie to her?”
“I merely don’t want you to upset her. You can give her details of her life. Her day-to-day activities. How you met. The mundane things. It is my suggestion, however, and I’ve conferred with the hospital psychiatrist on this matter, that you not rush to give her the details of her captivity and how she came to lose her memory. In fact, we know very little, so it would be unwise to speculate or offer her information that could be untrue. She must be kept calm. I don’t like to think of what another upset could cause her in her current state.”
Chrysander nodded reluctantly. What the doctor said made sense, but his own need to know what had happened to Marley was pressing. But he wouldn’t push her if it would cause her or the baby any harm. He checked his watch. He still had to meet with the authorities, but first he wanted to see Marley and said as much to the doctor.
The physician nodded. “I’ll have the nurse take you up now.”
Marley struggled underneath the layers of fog surrounding her head. She murmured a low protest when she opened her eyes. Awareness was not what she sought. The blanket of dark, of oblivion, was what she wanted.
There was nothing for her in wakefulness. Her life was one black hole of nothingness. Her name was all that lingered in the confusing layers of her mind. Marley.
She searched for more. Answers she needed to questions that swarmed her every time she wakened. Her past lay like a great barren landscape before her. The answers dangled beyond her, taunting her and escaping before she could reach out and take hold.
She turned her head on the thin pillow, fully intending to slip back into the void of sleep when a firm hand grasped hers. Fear scurried up her spine until she remembered that she was safe and in a hospital. Still, she yanked her hand away as her chest rose and fell with her quick breaths.
“You must not go back to sleep, pedhaki mou. Not yet.”
The man’s voice slid across her skin, leaving warmth in its wake. Carefully, she turned to face this stranger—or was he? Was he someone she knew? Who knew her? Could he be the father of the child nestled below her heart?
Her hand automatically felt for her rounded belly as her gaze lighted on the man who’d spoken to her.
He was a dominating presence. Tall, lithe, dangerously intent as his amber eyes stared back at her. He wasn’t American. She nearly laughed at the absurdity of her thoughts. She should be demanding to know who he was and why he was here, and yet all she could muster was the knowledge that he wasn’t American?
“Our baby is fine,” he said as his gaze dropped to the hand she had cupped protectively over her abdomen.
She tensed as she realized that he was indeed staking a claim. Shouldn’t she know him? She reached for something, some semblance of recognition, but unease and fear were all she found.
“Who are you?” she finally managed to whisper.
Something flickered in those golden eyes, but he kept his expression neutral. Had she hurt him with the knowledge she didn’t know him? She tried to put herself in his position. Tried to imagine how she’d feel if the father of her baby suddenly couldn’t remember her.
He pulled a chair to the side of the bed and settled his large frame into it. He reached for her hand, and this time, despite her instinct to do so, she didn’t retract it.
“I am Chrysander Anetakis. Your fiancé.”
She searched his face for the truth of his words, but he looked back at her calmly, with no hint of emotion.
“I’m sorry,” she said and swallowed when her voice cracked. “I don’t remember….”
“I know. I’ve spoken to the doctor. What you remember isn’t important right now. What is important is that you rest and recover so that I can take you home.”
She licked her lips, panic threatening to overtake her. “Home?”
He nodded. “Yes, home.”
“Where is that?” She hated having to ask. Hated that she was lying here conversing with a complete stranger. Only apparently he wasn’t. He was someone she had been intimate with. Obviously in love with. They were engaged, and she was pregnant with his child. Shouldn’t that stir something inside her?
“You’re trying too hard, pedhaki mou,” he said softly. “I can see the strain on your face. You mustn’t rush things. The doctor said that it will all come back in time.”
She clutched his hand then looked down at their linked fingers. “Will it? What if it doesn’t?” Fear rose in her chest, tightening her throat uncomfortably. She struggled to breathe.
Chrysander reached out a hand to touch her face. “Calm yourself, Marley. Your distress does you and the baby no good.”
Hearing her name on his lips did odd things. It felt as though he was speaking of a stranger even though she did remember her name. But maybe in the madness of her memory loss, she’d been afraid that she’d gotten that part wrong, and that along with everything else, her name was a forgotten piece of her life.
“Can you tell me something about me? Anything?”
She was precariously close to begging, and tears knotted her throat and stung her eyes.
“There will be plenty of time for us to talk later,” Chrysander soothed. He stroked her forehead, pushing back her hair. “For now, rest. I’m making preparations to take you home.”
It was the second time he’d mentioned home, and she realized that he still hadn’t told her where that was.
“Where is home?” she asked again.
His lips thinned for just a moment, and then his expression eased. “Home for us has been here in the city. My business takes me away often, but we had an apartment together here. My plan is to take you to my island as soon as you are well enough to travel.”
Her brows furrowed as she sought to comprehend the oddity of his statement. It sounded so…impersonal. There was no emotion, no hint of joy, just a sterile recitation of fact.
As if sensing she was about to ask more questions, he bent over and pressed his lips to her forehead. “Rest, pedhaki mou. I have arrangements to make. The doctor says you can be released in a few days’ time if all goes well.”
She closed her eyes wearily and nodded. He stood there a moment, and then she heard his footsteps retreating. When her door closed, she opened her eyes again, only to feel the damp trail of tears against her cheeks.
She should feel relief that she wasn’t alone. Somehow, though, Chrysander Anetakis’s presence hadn’t reassured her as it should. She felt more apprehensive than ever, and she couldn’t say why.
She pulled the thin sheet higher around her body and closed her eyes, willing the peaceful numbness of sleep to take over once more.
When she woke again, a nurse was standing by her bedside placing a cuff around her arm to take her blood pressure.
“Oh, good, you’re awake,” she said cheerfully as she removed the cuff. “I have your dinner tray. Do you feel up to eating?”
Marley shook her head. The thought of food made her faintly nauseous.
“Leave the tray. I’ll see to it she eats.”
Marley looked up in surprise to see Chrysander looming behind the nurse, a determined look on his face. The nurse turned and smiled at him then reached back and patted Marley’s arm.
“You’re very lucky to have such a devoted fiancé,” she said as she turned to go.
“Yes, lucky,” Marley murmured, and she wondered why she suddenly felt the urge to weep.
When the door shut behind the nurse, Chrysander pulled the chair closer to her bed again. Then he settled the tray in front of her.
“You should eat.”
She eyed him nervously. “I don’t feel much like eating.”
“Do you find my presence unsettling?” he queried as his gaze slid over her rumpled form.
“I—” She opened her mouth to say no, but found she couldn’t entirely deny it. How to tell this man she found him intimidating? This was supposed to be someone she loved. Had made love with. Just the thought sent a blush up her neck and over her cheeks.
“What are you thinking?” His fingers found her hand and stroked absently.
She turned her face away, hoping to find relief from his scrutiny. “N-nothing.”
“You are frightened. That’s understandable.”
She turned back to look at him. “It doesn’t make you angry that I’m frightened of you? Quite frankly, I’m terrified. I don’t remember you or anything else in my life. I’m pregnant with your child and cannot for the life of me remember how I got this way!” Her fists gripped the sheet and held it protectively against her.
His lips pressed to a firm line. Was he angry? Was he putting on a front so as not to upset her further?
“It is as you said. You don’t remember me, therefore I am a stranger to you. It will be up to me to earn your…trust.” He said the last word as if he found it distasteful, and yet his expression remained controlled.
“Chrysander…” She said his name experimentally, letting it roll off her tongue. It didn’t feel foreign, but neither did it spark any remembrance. Frustration took firm hold when her mind remained frightfully blank.
“Yes, pedhaki mou?”
She blinked as she realized he was waiting for her to continue.
“What happened to me?” she asked. “How did I get here? How did I lose my memory?”
Once again he took her hand in his, and she found the gesture comforting. He leaned forward and touched his other hand to her cheek. “You shouldn’t rush things. The doctor is quite adamant in this. Right now the most important thing for you and our child is to take things slowly. Everything will come back in its own time.”
She sighed, realizing he wasn’t going to budge.
“Get some rest.” He stood and leaned over to brush his lips across her forehead. “Soon we will leave this place.”
Marley wished the words gave her more reassurance than they did. Instead of comfort, confusion and uncertainty rose sharply in her chest until she feared smothering with the anxiety.
Sweat broke out on her forehead, and the food she’d picked at just moments ago rolled in her stomach. Chrysander looked sharply at her, and without saying a word, he rang for the nurse.
Moments later, the nurse bustled in. At the sight of her, sympathy crowded her features. She placed a cool hand on Marley’s forehead even as she administered an injection with the other.
“You mustn’t panic,” the nurse soothed. “You’re safe now.”
But her words failed to ease the tightness in Marley’s chest. How could they when soon she was going to be thrust into an unknown world with a man who was a complete stranger to her?
Chrysander stood by her bed, staring down at her, his hand covering hers. The medication dulled her senses, and she could feel herself floating away, the fear evaporating like mist. His words were the last thing she heard.
“Sleep, pedhaki mou. I will watch over you.”
Oddly, she did find comfort in the quiet vow.
Chrysander stood in the darkened room and watched as Marley slept. The strain of the frown he was wearing inserted a dull ache in his temples.
Her chest rose and fell with her slight breaths, and even in sleep, tension furrowed her brow. He moved closer and touched his fingers to her forehead, smoothing them across the pale skin.
She was as lovely as ever, even in her weakened state. Raven curls lay haphazardly against the pillow. He took one between his fingers and moved it from her forehead. It was longer now, no longer the shorter cap of curls that had flown about her head as she laughed or smiled.
Her skin had lost its previous glow, but he knew restoring her health would bring it back. Her eyes had been dull, frightened, but he remembered well the brilliant blue sparkle, how enchanting she looked when she was happy.
He cursed and moved away from the bed. It had all been a ruse. She hadn’t ever been happy. Truly happy. It seemed he’d been incapable of making her so. All the time they were together, she’d plotted against him, stolen from him and his brothers.
Though he’d considered her his mistress, he’d never placed her in the same category as his others. What he’d shared with her hadn’t been mercenary, or so he’d thought. In the end, it had boiled down to money and betrayal. Something he was well used to with women.
Yet he still wanted her. She still burned in his veins, an addiction he wasn’t equipped to fight. He shook his head grimly. She was pregnant with his child, and that must take precedence above all else. They would be forced together by the child, their futures irrevocably intertwined. But he didn’t have to like it, and he didn’t have to surrender anything more than his protection and his body.
If she would once again be placed under his protection, then he’d do all he could to ensure she had the best care, her and their baby, but he’d never trust her. She would warm his bed, and he wouldn’t lie and say that prospect wasn’t appealing. But she would get nothing more from him.
T wo days later, Marley sat nervously in a wheelchair, her fingers clutched tightly around the blanket the nurse had draped over her lap. Chrysander stood to the side, listening intently as the nurse gave him the aftercare instructions. Marley fingered the maternity top that one of the nurses had kindly provided for her and smoothed the wrinkles over the bump of her abdomen. They’d all been exceedingly kind to her, and she feared leaving their kindness to venture into the unknown.
When the nurse was finished, Chrysander grasped the handles of the wheelchair and began pushing Marley down the hallway toward the entrance. She blinked as the bright sunshine speared her vision. A sleek limousine was parked a few feet away, and Chrysander walked briskly toward it. The driver stepped around to open the door just as Chrysander effortlessly plucked her from the wheelchair and ushered her inside the heated interior. In a matter of seconds, they were gliding away from the hospital.
Marley stared out the window as they navigated the busy New York streets. The city itself was familiar. She could remember certain shops and landmarks. She possessed a knowledge of the city, but what was missing was the idea that this was home, that she belonged here. Hadn’t Chrysander said they’d lived here? She felt like an artist staring at an empty canvas without the skills to paint the portrait.
When they pulled to a stop in front of a stylish, modern building, Chrysander bolted from the limousine while the doorman opened the door on her side. Chrysander reached inside and carefully drew her from the vehicle. She stepped to the sidewalk on shaky feet, and he tucked her to his side, a strong arm around her waist as they walked through the entrance.
A wave of déjà vu swept over her as the lift opened and he helped her inside. For the briefest of moments, her memory stirred, and she struggled to part the veils of darkness.
“What is it?” Chrysander demanded.
“I’ve done this before,” she murmured.
She shook her head. “No. It just feels…familiar. I know I’ve been here.”
His fingers curled tighter around her arm. “This is where we lived…for many months. It’s only natural that it should register something.”
The lift opened, and she cocked her head as he started forward. His phrasing had been odd. Had they not lived here just a short time ago? Before whatever accident had befallen her?
He stopped and held out his hand to her. “Come, Marley. We’re home.”
She slid her fingers into his as he pulled her forward into the lavish foyer. To her surprise, a woman met them as they started for the large living room. Marley faltered as the tall blond young woman put a hand on Chrysander’s arm and smiled.
“Welcome home, Mr. Anetakis. I’ve laid out all contracts requiring your signature on your desk as well as ordered your phone messages by priority. I also took the liberty of having dinner delivered.” She swept an assessing look over Marley, one that had Marley feeling obscure and insignificant. “I didn’t imagine you’d be up for going out after a trying few days.”
Marley frowned as she realized the woman was implying that Chrysander had been through the ordeal and not Marley.
“Thank you, Roslyn,” Chrysander said. “You shouldn’t have gone to the trouble.” He turned to Marley and pulled her closer to him. “Marley, this is Roslyn Chambers, my personal assistant.”
Marley gave a faltering smile.
“Delighted to see you again, Miss Jameson,” Roslyn said sweetly. “It’s been ages since I last saw you. Months, I believe.”
“Roslyn,” Chrysander said in a warning voice. Her smile never slipped as she looked innocently at Chrysander.
Marley glanced warily between them, her confusion mounting. The ease with which the woman moved around the apartment that Chrysander called home to both of them was clear, and yet Roslyn hadn’t seen Marley in months? The proprietary way his assistant looked at him was the only thing currently clear to Marley.
“I’ll leave you two,” Roslyn said with a gracious smile. “I’m sure you have a lot of catching up to do.” She turned to Chrysander and put a delicate hand on his arm once more. “Call me if you need anything. I’ll come straight over.”
“Thank you,” Chrysander murmured.
The tall blonde clicked across the polished Italian marble in her elegant heels and entered the lift. She smiled at Chrysander as the doors closed.
Marley licked her suddenly dry lips and looked away. Chrysander was stiff at her side as though he expected Marley to react in some way. She wasn’t stupid enough to do so now. Not when he was so on guard. Later, she would ask him the million questions whirling around her tired mind.
“Come, you should be in bed,” Chrysander said as he curled an arm around her.
“I’ve had quite enough of bed,” she said firmly.
“Then you should at least get comfortable on the sofa. I’ll bring you a tray so you can eat.”
Eat. Rest. Eat some more. Those dictates seemed to compose Chrysander’s sole aim when it came to her. She sighed and allowed him to lead her into the living area. He settled her on the soft leather couch and retrieved a blanket to cover her with.
There was a stiffness about him that puzzled her, but then she supposed if the roles were reversed and he’d forgotten her, she wouldn’t be very sure of herself, either. He left the room, and several minutes later returned with a tray that he set before her on the coffee table. Steam rose from the bowl of soup, but she wasn’t tempted by the offering. She was too unsettled.
He sat in a chair diagonally to her, but after a few moments, he rose and
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