Despite the warmth of the summer day, an uncomfortable chill settled over Marley Jameson's skin as she settled on the bench in the small garden just a few blocks from the apartment she shared with Chrysander Anetakis.
She shivered even as the sun's rays found her tightly clenched fingers, the heat not yet chasing away the goose bumps. Stavros wouldn't be happy over her brief disappearance. Neither would Chrysander when Stavros reported that she hadn't taken proper security measures. But dragging along the imposing guard to her doctor's appointment hadn't been an option. Chrysander would have known of her pregnancy before she could even return home to tell him herself.
How would he react to the news? Despite the fact they'd taken precautions, she was eight weeks pregnant. The best she could surmise, it had happened when he'd returned from an extended business trip overseas. Chrysander had been insatiable. But then so had she.
A bright blush chased the chill from her cheeks as she remembered the night in question. He had made love to her countless times, murmuring to her in Greekwarm, soft words that had made her heart twist.
She checked her watch and grimaced. He was due home in a few short hours, and yet here she sat like a coward, avoiding the confrontation. She still had to change out of the faded jeans and T-shirt, clothes she wore only when he was away.
With reluctance born of uncertainty, she forced herself to her feet and began the short walk to the luxurious building that housed Chrysander's apartment.
"You're being silly," she muttered under her breath as she neared the entry. If the doorman was surprised to see her on foot, he didn't show it, though he did hasten to usher her inside.
She stepped onto the elevator and smoothed a hand over her still-flat stomach. Nervousness scuttled through her chest as she rode higher. When it halted smoothly and the doors opened into the spacious foyer of the penthouse, Marley nibbled on her lip and left the elevator.
She walked into the living room, shedding her shoes as she made her way to the couch, where she tossed her bag down. Fatigue niggled at her muscles, and all she really wanted to do was lie down. But she had to determine how to broach the subject of their relationship with Chrysander.
A few days ago, she would have said she was perfectly content, but the results of today's blood tests had her shaken. Had her reflecting on the last six months with Chrysander.
She loved him wholeheartedly, but she wasn't entirely sure where she stood with him. He seemed devoted when he was with her. The sex was fantastic. But now she had a baby to think about. She needed more from the man she loved than hot sex every few weeks as his schedule permitted.
She trudged into the large master suite and started when Chrysander walked from the bathroom, just a towel wrapped around his waist.
A slow smile carved his handsome face. Every time she laid eyes on him, it was like the first time all over again. Goose bumps raced across her skin, lighting fire to her every nerveending.
"Y-you're early," she managed to get out.
"I've been waiting for you,pedhaki mou," he said huskily.
He let the towel drop, and she swallowed as her eyes tracked downward to his straining erection. He paced forward predatorily, closing rapidly in on her. His hands curved over her shoulders, and he bent to ravage her mouth.
A soft moan escaped her as her knees buckled. He was an addiction. One she could never get enough of. He had only to touch her, and she went up in flames.
His mouth traveled down her jawline to her neck, his fingers tugging impatiently at her shirt. Of their own accord, her fingers twisted in his dark hair, pulling him closer.
Hard, lean, muscled. A gleaming predator. He moved gracefully, masterfully playing her body like a finely tuned instrument.
She clutched at his neck as he lowered her to the bed.
"You have entirely too many clothes on," he murmured as he shoved her shirt up and over her head.
She knew they should stop. They needed to talk, but she'd missed him. Ached for him. And maybe a part of her wanted this moment before things changed irrevocably.
He released her bra, and she gasped when his fingers found her highly sensitized nipples. They were darker now, and she wondered if he'd notice.
"Did you miss me?"
"You know I did," she said breathlessly.
"I like to hear you say it."
"I missed you," she said, a smile curving her lips.
It shouldn't have surprised her that he made quick work of her clothing. He tossed her jeans across the room. Her bra went one way, her underwear the other. Then he was over her, on her, deep inside her.
She arched into him as he possessed her, clinging to him as he made love to her, their passion hot and aching. It was always like this. One step from desperation, their need for each other all consuming.
As he gathered her in his arms, he whispered to her in Greek. The words fell against her skin like a caress as they both reached their peaks. She snuggled into his body, content and sated.
She must have slept then, because when she opened her eyes, Chrysander was lying beside her, his arm thrown possessively over her hip. He regarded her lazily, his golden eyes burning with sated contentment.
Now was the time. She needed to broach the subject. There would never be a better occasion. Why did the thought of asking him about their relationship strike terror in her heart?
"Chrysander," she began softly.
"What is it?" he asked, his eyes narrowing. Had he heard the worry in her voice?
"I wanted to talk to you."
He stretched his big body and pulled slightly away so he could see her better. The sheet slid down to his hip and gathered there. She felt vulnerable and exposed and trembled when he slid his hand over the peak of one breast.
"What is it you want to talk about?"
"Us," she said simply.
His eyes grew wary and then became shuttered. His face locked into a mask of indifference, one that frightened her. She could feel him pulling away, mentally withdrawing from her.
A buzz sounded, startling her. Chrysander cursed under his breath and reached over to push the intercom.
"What," he demanded tersely.
"It's Roslyn. Can I come up?"
Marley stiffened at the sound of his personal assistant's voice. It was late in the evening and yet here she was, popping into the apartment she knew he shared with Marley.
"I'm very busy at the moment, Roslyn. Surely it can wait until I come into the office tomorrow."
"I'm sorry, sir, but it can't. I need your signature on a contract that's due by 7:00 a.m."
Again Chrysander swore. "Come then."
He swung his legs over the side of the bed and stood. He strode toward the polished mahogany wardrobe and pulled out slacks and a shirt.
"Why does she show up here so often?" Marley asked quietly.
Chrysander shot her a look of surprise. "She's my assistant. It's her job to keep up with me."
"At your personal residence?"
He shook his head as he buttoned up his shirt. "I'll return in a moment, and we can have our talk."
Marley watched him go, her chest aching all the more. She was tempted to save the discussion for another night, but she had to tell him of her pregnancy, and she couldn't tell him of the baby before she knew how he felt about her. What he thought of their future. So it had to be done tonight.
As the moments grew longer, her anxiety heightened. Not wanting the disadvantage of being nude, she rose from the bed and dragged on her jeans and shirt. So much for looking composed and beautiful. She shook her head ruefully.
Finally she heard his footsteps outside the bedroom suite. He walked in with a distracted frown on his face. His gaze flickered over her, and his lips twitched.
"I much prefer you naked,pedhaki mou."
She gave a shaky smile and moved back to the bed. "Is everything all right with work?"
He waved his hand dismissively. "Nothing that shouldn't have already been taken care of. A missing signature." He stalked toward the bed, a lean, hungry glint in his eyes. As he came to a stop a foot away from where she sat, he reached for the buttons on his shirt.
we must talk."
Annoyance flickered across his face, but then he gave a resigned sigh. He sank down on the bed next to her. "Then speak, Marley. What is it that's bothering you?"
His closeness nearly unhinged her. She scooted down the bed in an effort to put distance between them. "I want to know how you feel about me, how you feel about us," she began nervously. "And if we have a future."
She glanced up to check his reaction. His lips came together in a firm line as he stared back at her. "So it's come to this," he said grimly.
He stood and turned his back to her before finally rotating around to face her.
"Come to w-what? I just need to know how you feel about me. If we have a future. You never speak of us in anything but the present," she finished lamely.
He leaned in close to her and cupped her chin. "We don't have a relationship. I don't do relationships, and you know this. You're my mistress."
Why did she feel as though he'd just slapped her? Her mouth fell open against his hand, and she stared up at him with wide, shocked eyes.
"Mistress?" she croaked. Live-in lover. Girlfriend. Woman he was seeing. These were all terms she might have used. But mistress? A woman he bought? A woman he paid to have sex with?
Nausea welled in her stomach.
She pushed his hand away and stumbled up, backpedaling away from him. Confusion shone on Chrysander's face.
"Is that truly all I am to you?" she choked out, still unable to comprehend his declaration. "A m-mistress?"
He sighed impatiently. "You're distraug...