Claiming His Secret Heir(5)

By: Joanne Rock

Half brother, he silently corrected her while his brain tried to make meaning out of the nonsensical words.

“It’s been less than a year since you saw me last. Do I look so different now?” He’d kissed her for long minutes in the airport in Florence, hating to part from her after the honeymoon. Their home in Los Altos Hills—this house—hadn’t been completed yet. So she’d gone to see a friend in London while he flew back to the States for business that couldn’t wait. Business he’d come to regret sorely in the last ten months, especially since they’d argued during the time they’d been apart and he’d always wondered if that had been the reason she left.

As it turned out, she hadn’t just been seeing her friend, after all. She’d gone to the UK to make amends with her father, who would give anything to take control of Transparent. Stephan Degraff’s plans to oust Damon were about to come to a head one week from now at the final board meeting before the product launched.

Had Caroline been helping her father take over Damon’s company from the start?

“I don’t remember.” Her eyes were haunted. Scared. Unsure. “I’ve been in Mexico. With amnesia. I remembered my name two months ago, but it’s taken time to recall more than that.” She glanced up and away from him. Shut her eyes for a long moment before she began again. “I’ve had this paper ever since I woke up in a fishing village on the Baja Peninsula. But at the time, I didn’t even know that name was mine.”

Damon could not have been more stunned if she’d been the ghost he’d first imagined. Amnesia? A bracing gust of wind sucked the breath right out of him.

“You don’t remember me? Us?” He tried to envision what this meant for them. Behind him, he heard the sprinkler system switch on.

“Nothing.” She shook her head slowly, a wave of her honey-gold hair bumping her cheek. “I looked you up online weeks ago, but I’ve been scared to come because there was…no mention of me being missing. No photos of us together.” She lifted her shoulders in an awkward shrug. “I thought maybe the marriage certificate was fake. Or that we divorced and you’d moved on—”

“No.” He’d been living in a state of suspended animation without her. Hell, he couldn’t call it “living” at all. He’d spent his time chasing leads about her all over the globe, incapable of “respecting her privacy” the way her father had demanded. “I’ve searched everywhere for you.”

He wanted answers about where she’d been. If she’d been kidnapped or if she’d left him of her own free will. His private investigators had spent endless hours chasing down fake leads for her whereabouts—it was as if she’d wanted to purposely disappear, or someone had spent significant time making it look that way.

He still had her wedding rings that she’d left behind.

But he remembered reading somewhere that chasing memories wasn’t good for an amnesia victim. And didn’t the fact that she was suffering from amnesia suggest she’d been through a trauma already? The need to protect her—to make sure nothing else hurt her—overrode everything else. He needed to keep her safe and get her healthy.

And, selfishly, he couldn’t help but see her return as a second chance.

If she’d left him, she didn’t remember.

Once she was well and whole again, Damon had a chance to rewrite history. To show her they could be good together again.

To win her back.

“I don’t know where I’ve been. My memories should come back in time.” She pulled a hand from her sweater pocket and smoothed aside the wave of hair that brushed her cheek. For a moment, he could see the old Caroline in the gesture. The vibrant, flirtatious woman who had captivated him the moment she strode into his office, demanding a position on his team. “But until they do, I’m not sure where to go. I’ve been at a shelter the last two nights.”

The idea appalled him. How long had they been in the same state while he’d been lost in alternating bouts of grief and bitterness, not knowing what had happened to her?

“You were right to come home.” He stepped closer, careful to give her space but needing to touch her.

She flinched and backed up a step, reminding him that they might be married but they were still essentially strangers in her mind.

She just needed time. Something he was more than happy to give her since he was determined to help her remember how happy they’d been together before that one stupid argument. And, hell, if she hadn’t been happy, he’d make her remember something better than that.

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