Claiming His Secret Heir(8)

By: Joanne Rock


“Are you sure you want to talk about this now? So soon after arriving?” He caressed her knee with his thumb through the thick layers of cashmere and wool, the intimacy seeming so easy and natural for him.

As if he truly cared about her.

“I have driven myself crazy trying to piece together the past on my own. I’m hoping you’ll help me fill in some of the blanks in a way that will be less stressful.”

His blue eyes locked on hers in the firelight, searching.

Could he read her better than she realized? Did he have any inkling that she might not be telling him the whole truth? Never in her life had she felt so unsure of herself as she had these last few months. She used to be so steady and self-assured. Now, everything her father had told her about her past contradicted what she had believed about it.

“I definitely don’t want to add to the stress of remembering.” Damon returned to the tray and finished making her turkey sandwich, which he passed over before pouring her a drink—water with a twist of lemon. “I did a quick scan online about amnesia recovery while the housekeeper put together the meal, and it said that the senses can sometimes trigger memories more easily. Hearing a song or smelling something familiar can help, like your physician said.”

Thinking about the flood of memories from the scent of his aftershave, Caroline would say the doctor had been spot on.

“If I never lived here, maybe there’s nothing to be gained by me staying here.” She had allotted two days to solving the mystery of Damon. She couldn’t afford to waste time. “Is there somewhere else that might be more meaningful?”

Nibbling on her sandwich, she watched him make another for himself, the muscles in his forearm shifting and flexing as he reached for cheese slices and fresh tomato. She’d fallen for him hard and fast the first time—getting engaged after knowing him for only six weeks and marrying him a month after that. She needed to be more cautious now, to learn all she could about him.

“You lived in a hotel when you first came to town to research Transparent. I had a smaller house close to the company in Mountain View.” He leaned back against the cushions lining the daybed swing, keeping a foot on the patio floor to anchor them.

Caroline was grateful both for the darkness and Damon’s focus on keeping the daybed from rocking, which took his attention away from her while her face flamed with memories of time spent at his place. How many nights had she languished in his bed there before their wedding? They’d made love in virtually every room. Also, the sauna. The pool house…

She didn’t dare ask him about that home. Her voice might betray her.

“Did we have dates anywhere significant? Special?” She frowned, trying to remember how it felt to have no frame of reference for conversations about the past. When her amnesia had been at its worst, she’d asked questions constantly. “Or maybe we should visit the business, if that’s how we met.”

Would seeing her office help? They’d worked in the same building.

But she needed to be careful. Damon was a very smart man. Brilliant, even. She’d been fascinated by his mind and his innovative ideas for Transparent even before they’d met. One misstep in her ruse could ruin her cover story for being here.

“We went hiking in the Santa Cruz Mountains once.” He studied her with a clear blue gaze that missed nothing. “And you were fixated on the Winchester Mystery House for a while. We had picnics in the gardens while you kept an eye out for ghosts.”

His unexpected choice of memories touched her. Those outings were such brief pockets of time they’d spent together compared to the long hours they’d invested in his business and, later, trying to deal with her father.

Her driven, focused father would have hated that she’d gone ghost-hunting. Did he know she’d ever done something like that?

“Do you remember?” Damon asked suddenly, making her realize she’d been quiet a beat too long, thinking about how thoroughly her father had schooled her to think like him, to fill her days with work the way he did.

“No.” She shook her head quickly, returning her gaze to her plate. “I’m just surprised to imagine myself ghost-watching. It hardly sounds like the hobby of a businesswoman.”

She’d been a different person with Damon, though. Their courtship had been a revelation. It hadn’t just been about love. It had been about play. Fun. Laughter.

Things she hadn’t really taken the time to savor in a life full of goals set ever higher ever since childhood, from violin recitals to debate team championships to achieving perfect test scores. Then, after graduating from college, it had been about obtaining a lucrative position in a New York financial firm before joining her father’s company. Her father had trained her to focus on work relentlessly, while Damon wasn’t afraid to enjoy himself.

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