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.