“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.