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Harlequin
August 1, 2016


Carides’s Forgotten Wife

Once forbidden, now for bedding! 

Greek billionaire Leon Carides has it all: wealth, power, notoriety, even a wife—though he's never touched his convenient, innocent bride. Then an accident rids this damaged, debauched playboy of his memories…

Leon remembers nothing, except his wife's sparkling blue eyes. Now the desire he feels for Rose overrides the gaps in his past, making her impossible to resist! But when his sins catch up with him, can Rose forgive the mistakes of the man he once was? Or will Leon lose more than just his memory?

Excerpt

The doctor left, closing the door behind him. Leaving her standing there in the room with nothing but the sounds of machines surrounding her.

Panic started to rise in her chest as she continued to look at Leon’s still form. He wasn’t supposed to look like this. He wasn’t supposed to be breakable.

Leon Carides had always been more of a god to her than a man. The sort of man she had built up into fantasy as a young girl. He was ten years older than her. And he had been her father’s most trusted and prized protégé from the time Rose was eight years old. She could hardly remember a period of time when Leon hadn’t been involved in her life.

Carefree. Easy with a smile. Always so kind. He had seen her. Truly. And had made her feel like she mattered.

Of course, all that changed when they got married.

But she wasn’t going to think about their wedding now.

She didn’t want to think about anything. She wanted to close her eyes and be back in the rose garden at her family estate. Wanted to be surrounded by the soft, fragrant summer breeze, held in it as though it was a pair of arms, protecting her from all of this. But that was just a daydream. Everything here was too stark, too white, too antiseptic to be a dream.

It was crushingly real, an assault on her senses.

She wondered if there had been anyone else in the car with him. If there were, they hadn’t said. She also wondered if he had been drinking. Again, no one had said.

Another perk of wealth. People wanted to protect you so they might benefit later. But the why didn’t matter, as long as the protection happened.

Leon groaned and her focus was wrenched back to the hospital bed. He shifted, moving his hand, and the lines to the IV and the cord link to the pulse monitor on his finger tugged hard.

“Be careful,” she said, keeping her voice soft. “You’re plugged into…” She looked around at all the equipment, all the bags of saline and antibiotics and whatever else was being pumped into his veins. “Well, you’re plugged into everything. Don’t…unplug anything.”

She didn’t know if he heard her. Didn’t know if he understood. But then, he shifted, groaning again.

“Are you in pain?”

“I am pain,” he said, his voice rough, tortured.

Relief flooded her, washing over her in a wave that left her dizzy. She hadn’t realized just how affected she was until this moment. Just how terrified she was.

Just how much she cared.

This feeling was so at odds with that small, cold moment where she had wished he could go away completely.

Or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe the two were more tightly connected than it first appeared.

Because as long as he was here, she would always feel too much. And if he were gone, at least the loss of him wouldn’t be a choice she had to make.

“You probably need more pain medication.”

Though looking at him, at the purple bruises marring his typically handsome features, she doubted that there was pain medication strong enough to make it all go away.

“Then get me some,” he said, his voice hard.

Issuing commands already, which was very much in his character. Leon was never at a loss. Even when her father had died and she’d been lost in a haze of grief, he had stepped forward and taken care of everything.

He hadn’t comforted her the way a husband should comfort a wife. He had never been a husband to her at all, not in the truest sense. But he’d still made sure she was taken care of. Had ensured that the funeral, the legalities of the will and everything else were executed to perfection.

It was why, in spite of everything, it had seemed right to stay for the past two years. And it was also why, though it meant losing everything, she’d decided she had to leave him, no matter the cost.

But leaving him now…that didn’t seem right. He hadn’t been a true husband, but he hadn’t abandoned her when she’d needed him either. How could she do any less?

“I will have to call a nurse.” She picked her phone up and sent off a brief text to the doctor: He’s awake.

Just typing the words sent a rush of relief through her that she didn’t want to analyze.

His eyes opened, and he began to look around the room. “You aren’t a nurse?”

“No,” she said, her heart thundering hard. “I’m Rose.”

He was probably still disoriented. After all, this was Italy, and she was supposed to be at home in Connecticut. She was probably the last person he expected to see.

“Rose?”

“Yes,” she said, starting to feel a little bit more alarmed. “I flew to Italy because of your accident.”

“We are in Italy?” He only sounded more confused.

“Yes,” she said. “Where did you think you were?”

He frowned, his dark eyebrows locking together. “I don’t know.”

“You were in Italy. Seeing to some business.” And probably pleasure, knowing him, but she wasn’t going to add that. “You were leaving a party and a car drifted into your lane and hit you head-on.”

“That is what I feel like,” he said, his voice rough. “As though I were hit head-on. Though I feel more like I was hit directly by the car. With nothing to buffer it.”

“With how fast you drive I imagine you might as well have been.”

He frowned. “We know each other.”

She frowned. “Of course we do. I’m your wife.”

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