Claiming His Secret Heir(7)

By: Joanne Rock

He waited there now, balancing the heavy, domed silver platter. With his dark brown hair and deep blue eyes, her husband shared the features of his equally handsome brothers she’d met at their wedding. Damon was slightly taller than Jager and Gabe, though, his six-foot-three frame well-proportioned. And whereas his younger brother, Gabe, possessed an easygoing nature that made him quick to smile, Damon was serious, often pensive and intense. More like his driven older brother, Jager, who managed the brothers’ businesses while Damon and Gabe both tended to follow their passions. Damon had always been deeply passionate about his work, he could lose track of the hours spent on business, and he told her once that she was the only woman who’d ever intrigued him enough to get him to spend time away from his company.

He’d had the same effect on her, enticing her out of her office to savor a sunny day or breathe in a cool breeze off the Santa Cruz Mountains.

“Yes?” She straightened from her slouch, propping herself higher on the back pillows so they could share the daybed like a sofa.

A spark arced and popped from the stone fireplace.

“Just checking to make sure you hadn’t fallen asleep.” He headed her way with the tray, settling it on the low tile table nearby. He’d changed from his earlier cargos and tee to a lightweight black wool sweater and gray trousers. The winds off the bay were chilly now that the sun had gone down. “Are you sure you’ll be warm enough out here?” He checked the setting on the patio heater and held his broad palms out to test the temperature. “We can take dinner inside, if you prefer.”

“This is perfect, actually.” She remembered those early days of recovering her memory when she had grounded herself in the everyday, simple things to anchor her. Enjoying the feel of a warm bath. Stroking the furry back of her sister’s cat, Socrates. “I saw a physician about the amnesia in Mexico and she said that surrounding myself with the familiar will help me to recover my memories.” Caroline smoothed a hand over the cashmere blanket that Damon had given her earlier, her heart picking up pace as she prepared to dig for information. “I’ll bet I spent a lot of time on this swing.”

Damon settled on the edge of the cushion beside her, the warmth of his sudden nearness making her senses come alive. She’d forgotten the way he smelled—the musk and spice of his aftershave that sent a flood of pleasurable memories to her brain. Of shared kisses. Incredible sex. Orgasms. Curling into his side afterward and having him stroke her back until she fell asleep.

Her body tingled at just the thoughts.

“None.” His blunt response was so at odds with everything she was feeling—the word as stark as his expression. “This house was still being built while we were on our honeymoon in Florence and the Tuscan countryside. We never spent any time here.”

She held her breath, waiting for him to say something about the day she’d been abducted. The only day she’d ever stepped inside the completed house. The events of that afternoon were still fuzzy in her mind. Her father had insisted she was planning to leave Damon that day, but she couldn’t remember why.

When he continued, however, his attention had returned to the tray of food. “I’ve only been in town for a few days myself, so I’m afraid the meal offerings aren’t as extensive as I would have hoped for your return.” He tugged off the silver dome and set it on the stone patio, revealing two empty plates and a cold cut platter. “I called for a grocery delivery and a catered meal for later, but for now, this is the complete contents of the refrigerator.”

“The turkey looks good.” She leaned forward to make half a sandwich for herself, but Damon politely waved her away.

“Let me.” He cut open a small roll and stabbed two slices of meat with the knife. “For months, I would have given anything for the chance to do something for you. See you. Touch you. Bring you dinner.”

She swallowed back the knot of emotions his words tangled inside her. What she wouldn’t have given to have him there when she’d been scared and alone on that island in Mexico, too ill from her pregnancy to even walk outside and look for a neighboring village.

“What did you think happened to me?” She couldn’t help the rasp of her voice that betrayed the pain she kept hidden inside. Clearing her throat, she tried again. “I mean, as I told you, there is nothing about me being missing online.”

It was as though she’d simply ceased to exist after their wedding.

He set down the plate with her sandwich on the coffee table before settling his hand on her knee through the blanket. It was the first time he’d touched her since she arrived and it affected her as much as she had feared it might.

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