The accident that had taken Belinda's memory had provided Luc with the perfect means for revenge. His beautiful bride had no recollection of fleeing her groom on their wedding day...or the real reason behind their union. All she recalled was the unbridled passion they still shared--and the steely-eyed mogul planned to take full advantage of it.
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August 11, 2008
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Excerpt from Claiming His Runaway Bride by Yvonne Lindsay
How could she have forgotten something like that?
Someone like him?
Belinda eyed the silent stranger standing beside her father at the foot of her hospital bed. Tall, and looking as if his designer clothes were just a little too large on his frame, the stranger stood with his left hand in his trouser pocket, his right hand resting on the knob of a shiny black cane.
She didn't even know his name. How could she be married to him and have no knowledge of it? Fear choked her throat.
His glittering green eyes never left her face. An intangible thread of something--was it anger?--burned just below the surface. His expression remained inscrutable. The hard lines of his face spoke of an iron will--this was not a man who tolerated fools.
Her breath hitched. She didn't know him--how could they expect her to go home with a total stranger? Belinda cast a frightened look at her father. The smile he returned seemed strained; the lines on his face deeper than usual. Suddenly her desire to be released from her room here at Auckland City Hospital fled, and the place she'd itched to be free of assumed proportions more in line with a much-sought-after sanctuary.
A disturbing thought occurred to her.
"If you're my husband why haven't you been here at my side, like my parents have? It's two weeks since I came out of the coma." Her challenge rang hollowly across the room.
Belinda intercepted a glance between her father and the man who claimed to be her husband, saw the imperceptible nod her father gave.
"Well?" she demanded, her hands fisting in the bedclothes.
"The accident that took your memory also caused me injury. I am fit to return home now. With you."
There was a great deal he wasn't saying, and what he left unsaid caused her more anxiety than the realisation he too had been hospitalised. She'd been treated with kid gloves by the medical staff and her parents since she'd regained consciousness, everyone prepared to give her medical answers but nothing else. Not even the details of the accident that had left her in a coma for four weeks. Throughout the past two weeks of tests and examinations, her doctors had tried to find the cause of her amnesia and had come to the conclusion it was not a direct result of the blow to her head that she'd sustained in a car accident. She'd overheard the words "traumatic amnesia" and "hysterical amnesia" being discussed in low tones.
The last had made her shudder. Did that make her crazy, she wondered, that she chose to forget a part of her life that for anyone should have been full of excitement, fun and passion? Or did she have good reason to want to forget?
She looked again at the stranger. The slightly less-than-perfect fit of his clothing now made sense if he had been stuck in hospital. Had he been too incapacitated to see her? Did a lengthy stay in bed explain his gauntness? She had no doubt that he was the type of man who paid attention to every detail, and that under normal circumstances his clothing would conform to his body as if tailor-made.
Another thought skittered through her mind. Had they timed her release to coincide with his? Protest flared inside.
She'd been railroaded.
"No, I won't do it. I won't go home with you. I don't even know you!" Her voice sounded shrill, panicked.
The stranger's eyes narrowed, a muscle worked in the side of his jaw.
"I'm Luc Tanner, you are Belinda Tanner--my wife. Of course you'll come home with me." He nodded in her father's direction. "Do you think your father would allow you out of his sight if I was a threat to his precious child? Rest assured, you know me well."
There was an undercurrent in his tone she couldn't quite nail, but it was enough to send a shiver down her spine. She shook her head slightly to rid herself of the sensation. What the stranger--Luc, she corrected herself--said made sense but a cautionary niggle played at the back of her mind.
"Why can't I go home with Dad? At least until my memory returns." She was grasping at straws, and she knew it.
"And if your memory never returns? Are we to forever forget our marriage? Our vows to each other?"
There was a thread of steel in his tone that sent a chill through her. It was a good question. What if she didn't get her lost months back? And why, when she could remember so much else, could she remember nothing of their courtship, their marriage? The love they'd supposedly shared.
A spear of something else shot through her body. Had they been intimate? They must have been, even now her body warmed to his with a physical recognition her mind refused to accept. He was a very attractive man despite that air of aloofness he wore like a warrior's mantle. A flush of heat suffused her cheeks as she studied his features--the slightly shadowed line between cheekbone and jaw bisected by a thin pink scar, the straight blade of his nose, the sensual curve of his lips.