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Never had she been more angry. She was stiff with rage and wished she could leap out of bed and attack this man who thought he was God.

‘Calm down, Miranda.’ Theo leaned forward and took her hands which were extended rigidly towards him.

Resisting furiously she tried to pull free, but his fingers were as hard and inflexible as an iron clamp. ‘How I hate you!’ she cried. ‘You have no right to do this. Let go of me!’

Instead he moved even closer, holding her hands firm against his chest. ‘You’re very beautiful when you’re angry.’

His warm breath fanned her cheek and she withdrew as far as his invincible grip would allow. But he slid off his seat and on to the edge of the bed. ‘You’re irresistible!’

She knew he was going to kiss her, and although every instinct told her to turn her head, something equally strong held her immobile.

Watching his face as it drew closer, she became mesmerised by the dancing lights in his unusual bronze eyes. She forgot to breathe, although her heart beat a painful tattoo against her ribs. It had never been like this with Georgios!

His musky aftershave assailed her nostrils, the warmth from his body set her on fire. She closed her eyes, unable any longer to look into those piercing dark eyes that probed her soul and read every thought that passed through her mind.

Forget Georgios, some devil inside her said. Here’s a real man. Take what’s being offered and enjoy it. She had no option. Theo’s mouth was already on hers, moving sensually, expertly, demanding and exacting a response.

He pinned her against the pillows, his fingers pushed through the softness of her hair, moulding her head so that there was no way she could escape.

He covered her face with kisses, teasing, tantalising, until at length he drew an aching response. Of their own volition her hands snaked round the back of his neck. In contrast to her own fine hair his was wiry— strong—like everything else about this man. She liked the feel of it, twisting it in her fingers, quite unconsciously giving him no chance to escape either.

His mouth left her face to bum a trail down the slim column of her throat, and every nerve in her body responded. She forgot Georgios, she forgot her pregnancy, she forgot her injured ankle. There was a compulsiveness about Theo that could not be ignored.

Her heart pounded, blood rushed through her veins and she found herself incapable of thinking about anything but the sweet ecstasy of this moment. Her brain dulled, only her senses leaped in response to the sheer masculinity of him.

It no longer occurred to her to push him away, to fear whether they might be interrupted. She felt as though her limbs were melting. Any moment now he would totally consume her. She was as putty in his hands and the emotions cascading through her were such as she had never felt before.

There was an urgency in his actions, and she felt the strong beat of his heart against her side. She could not look at him. She kept her eyes tightly closed, heeding the dictates of her body rather than her mind. Not that she could any longer distinguish right from wrong. All that seemed to matter was that she enjoy every second of Theo’s embrace. His kisses were indescribably heady, causing her to hunger for more of this sweet madness.

He pushed aside the unresisting material of her nightdress, cupping one breast even as his mouth moved to possess the other. Miranda lay back and decided she had never before felt the sheer agonising ripples that raced through her. Wave after wave of emotion racked her body so that she arched closer, moaning softly, and wanting this moment to go on for ever.

Theo himself put a stop to it, lifting away and saying thickly, ‘If I don’t go now I won’t be responsible for my actions.’

Her lids were heavy, but when she finally managed to steal a glance at him Miranda was shocked to see an emotion as deep as her own ravaging his face. It was so unusual for feeling of any sort to be expressed on those hard features that she instinctively lifted her hands and touched his cheeks.

She felt no contrition; maybe that would come later. Her only regret now was that he had stopped. She wanted this moment to go on for ever. They had experienced an animal hunger that they each knew only the other could assuage. It was an entirely new and out-of-this-world feeling, so far as Miranda was concerned, and she thirsted for more of what this exciting man could offer.

He took her hands and pressed kisses into their palms, then he gave them back to her, pulling up the sheet to cover her swollen breasts. ‘Enough is enough,
chryso mou.
Believe me, I had not intended that to happen, but if it has done nothing else, it has at least proved that your love for Georgios is not so great as you claim.’

Miranda compressed her lips, but could not hide the sadness in her eyes. Unfortunately he spoke the truth. After Theo his brother would be a disappointment. In the first days of her marriage there had been an eagerness about Georgios that had drawn a response from her almost equal to that she felt now, but gradually his passion had subsided.

It had not bothered her; she had thought, in her ignorance, that this was how it was with all men. But now she realised that Georgios had been no more than infatuated with her. He didn’t love her. He couldn’t do, or he would never have agreed to play Theo’s ridiculous game.

There were no words to describe how she felt, not that Theo seemed to expect any. It was as if he knew exactly what thoughts were going through her mind. ‘I’ll send Katie with your dinner,’ he said softly.

‘I’m getting up,’ she returned. ‘Nikos said he would help me downstairs.’

Theo frowned. ‘Nikos? What right has he? Doesn’t he know you’re supposed to rest?’ His face changed dramatically, once again becoming all angles and tough uncompromising lines.

His harsh tone helped Miranda forget the response she had just felt. ‘He took me out to the pool this morning. It’s done me no harm.’

He looked appalled. ‘How do you know? The doctor said that because of your fall there was a danger of losing the baby unless you rest completely.’

Miranda shook her head angrily. ‘I feel fine. It’s only my ankle that’s bothering me. I hate lying here, it’s like being in prison.’

‘Is that all the thanks we get for taking you in?’ he snapped. ‘You’d best not let my mother hear you say that.’

‘I am Georgios’s wife,’ she cried. ‘You’re not doing me a favour at all!’

He looked at her for a few minutes before saying quietly, ‘Are you sure you’re all right?’ And he actually sounded concerned!

‘Of course I’m sure. I should know how I feel!’

‘And you still want to go down to dinner?’

She nodded.

‘In that case,’ he said reluctantly, ‘I’ll take you myself. Nikos has no right interfering in what doesn’t concern him.’

‘Nikos doesn’t know about the baby,’ she said softly. ‘Only you—and your mother.’ But it was wrong that Georgios himself did not know! Suddenly she made up her mind she would tell him tonight. He had a right to know, no matter what Theo said, no matter what secrets were being kept from her. It might well be the one thing that could put this whole incredible situation into perspective.

Once Georgios realised she was going to have his child he would no longer let Theo rule him. He would be pleased, he would tell his mother that Miranda was his English bride, and Mrs Alexidis would be pleased too, because she liked her.

Miranda smiled, feeling as though a load had been lifted from her shoulders. It was going to be all right.

There were six of them to dinner, Mrs Alexidis having decided to put in one of her rare appearances. Her two sons sat on either side of her, with Eleni and Nikos next to Georgios and herself between this new man and Theo.

Theo had carried her down, lifting her into his arms as effortlessly as if she were a baby. It had caused a repetition of the base emotions she had felt earlier, and she had linked her arms round his neck, despising herself even as she savoured them.

She had made up her mind to tell Georgios of the true state of affairs, expected him to acknowledge her and take her back as his wife, so why then did she let these feelings for Theo raise their ugly head?

What type of a woman was she who could respond like this to a man who was not her husband? More important, to a man who had gone out of his way to keep her and Georgios apart! She ought to hate him, she did hate him, so what was the meaning behind her response?

It was a question she could not answer. A question to which she doubted she would ever find the answer. He was an extraordinarily virile specimen, with an earthy magnetism that could not be ignored.

And sitting by him at the table did not help. Although Georgios was directly opposite, although it was to him that her eyes were constantly drawn, it was Theo’s presence she felt. Theo who made her feel jittery with nerves and sick with excitement.

What had nearly happened in her room had left her shattered, loathing herself but also exhilarating in the wild passion that had coursed through her. Despite her decision to talk to Georgios it did not lessen these treacherous feelings.

Mrs Alexidis expressed concern over Miranda’s presence. ‘My dear, should you really be out of bed?’ Miranda smiled, unaware that there was a dreaminess in her eyes. ‘I feel well,’ she returned. ‘In fact, apart from a little discomfort in my ankle, I’ve never felt better.’

And Theo said, ‘I argued with her myself, Mother. But she’s a stubborn young thing. Don’t worry, though, I shall see that she doesn’t overdo it.’

What right had he to set himself up as her guardian? thought Miranda heatedly. But she smiled nevertheless. ‘Such concern—I’m flattered!’

‘Take advantage while you can,’ laughed Eleni. ‘I bet you’ve never been pampered like this?’

Miranda’s eyes flickered towards Georgios, but he continued to drink his fish broth as though none of this concerned him. ‘I never hurt my ankle before,’ she said with attempted lightheartedness. ‘I’ve always been able to look after myself.’

‘I remember when Georgios was small and he broke his ankle,’ said Mrs Alexidis. ‘He did not like it one little bit. He hated not being able to get about.’

Georgios looked then at his mother. ‘I broke my ankle?’

For a second she looked as though she had said something that she shouldn’t, but before she could answer Nikos laughed and interrupted. ‘One more discovery, Georgios. Don’t worry, one day soon you’ll remember everything. Maybe then you’ll wish your memory had never come back. Take advantage while
you
can. It sometimes pays to be ignorant.’

Miranda’s spoon fell from her fingers, dropping straight into her bowl and splashing soup in all directions. She looked at Georgios—and suddenly everything became clear.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

‘Of
course,’ said Theo before Miranda could speak, ‘you did not know that my brother had an accident and lost his memory. It is not something that we talk about. I apologise if we’ve shocked you.’

Miranda’s heart pounded uncomfortably as she continued to stare at Georgios. No wonder he hadn’t remembered her! No wonder he had treated her like a stranger. But why, why, why hadn’t anyone told her? Why had Theo decreed it best to keep it a secret?

It was an effort to drag her eyes away and look at Theo. ‘Why don’t you talk about it? Wouldn’t it be best for Georgios? Wouldn’t it help him remember?’ Poor Georgios! She could not imagine what it would be like to have memories locked in your brain without any means of releasing them. It must be agony.

Theo eyed her steadily. ‘The doctor said it was best to let his memory return naturally, not to try and force it. So it was mutually decided that once we’d filled him in on everything he needed to know we would make no reference to the past, no deliberate references I mean. Naturally it’s not always possible, sometimes we slip up, like my mother did now, but you’ve not been here long enough to hear any of that.’

Or you’ve all been ultra-careful, thought Miranda bitterly. Theo had decided she should not be told. He had warned Eleni, but forgotten about Nikos. And obviously he could not tell his mother. He had had to rely on her discretion.

‘It’s a nuisance sometimes,’ admitted Georgios, ‘but like Nikos says, it has its advantages. I’m quite sure there must be some things I’d prefer not to remember.’

Mrs Alexidis’s hands fluttered to her throat and she gave a faint cry. Miranda was alarmed to see the colour drain from her face.

‘I think,' said Theo firmly, ‘that that is enough of this conversation. Try not to distress yourself, Mother. Finish your soup.’

‘I don’t think I could eat any more,’ she said in a choked voice, looking at her younger son with sorrow and pain.

It was clear to Miranda that she had taken his accident badly, and that his resultant loss of memory affected her even more deeply. It would certainly not do her heart any good worrying about him. It was perhaps wise that they chose not to talk about it, and unfortunate that Mrs Alexidis had brought the subject up herself.

‘Then I’ll help you to your room,’ said Theo gently, pushing back his chair and helping his mother up. ‘Eleni, tell Katie.’

‘Can I help?’ asked Miranda, feeling that in an indirect way she was to blame. If she had not mentioned her ankle then it would not have brought back memories of the time Georgios had broken his.

Theo shook his head. ‘I’ll be back in a minute. Carry on with your meal as though nothing has happened.’

Nothing happened! After a momentous discovery like this? She could not wait to question Georgios. ‘When was the accident?’ she asked as soon as they were out of the room.

‘Five weeks ago to the day,’ he replied.

Miranda’s heart stopped, and then raced at doublequick time. The day he had left her! The day he had walked out and never returned. Now she knew why.

‘I got knocked down by a van at Corfu airport, apparently. There were no real physical injuries, just this amnesia. You’ve no idea, Miranda, what it was like to wake up in hospital not knowing who I was or where I lived, or even why I was there. Fortunately Theo was with me. He’s been my right arm. I don’t know what I’d have done without him.’

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