Married for ConvenienceBy: Helen Bianchin
Table of Content
- Forgotten Husband
- The Marriage Arrangement
- The Husband Test
- Helen Bianchin
SHE didn’t want to open her eyes. Not yet. For when she did, he would be there.
The man they said was her husband, seated in a chair to one side of the bed where she’d been told he had maintained an almost constant vigil for days after her admission.
For the past week he had confined his visits to three each day—early morning, mid-afternoon, and evening.
The nurses had commented on it when they thought she was asleep…and relayed it in informative, faintly envious tones when she was awake. Together with the added news, her initial admission had caused a furore. It appeared that within an hour of being transported unconscious by ambulance from the accident scene to a nearby public hospital all hell had broken loose, and she had been transferred post-haste to this exclusive and very expensive private establishment with its coterie of consultant specialists.
The voice was a deep, faintly inflected drawl, and its timbre succeeded in tripping her pulse into an accelerated beat.
Damn. Now she would have no recourse but to acknowledge his presence. Her lashes trembled fractionally, then fluttered slowly upwards.
His physical impact was such that it took considerable effort not to close her eyes again in an attempt to shut out the sight of him.
A tall man, whose impressive breadth of shoulder and impressive frame, even in relaxed repose, was intimidating. Broad, sculptured facial features were harshly chiselled, all angles and planes as if etched from stone, and his eyes were so dark that they appeared black—almost as black as his wellgroomed hair.
Beneath the cool mantle of his sophisticated façade he bore the look of a hunter, as untamed as a savage jungle beast and just as dangerous.
Alejandro Santanas. Even his name was unusual, and the relayed information she had been given was merely statistical, rather than enlightening.
He was in his late thirties and he headed a financial empire whose very name was regarded with due reverence in the business sector.
A very wealthy man, one of the nurses had revealed, whose entrepreneurial skill ranked him high among the upper echelon of the country’s rich and famous.
Elise didn’t find it surprising, for there was an inherent degree of power, a ruthlessness lurking beneath the surface, which she found vaguely frightening.
The knowledge that she was his wife had initially shocked and dismayed her, for each individual nerve-end had screamed out in denial that she could be bound to him in any way.
Dammit, she didn’t feel married, she agonised silently.
Nor did she feel pregnant. Yet there was an ultrasound picture as proof that the seven-week foetus in her womb had suffered no harm.
Never in a million years could she imagine that she’d fallen in love with him…or he with her.
Yet there were wedding-photos taken six months previously to prove their legal alliance, and not once during the many times she’d examined them had she been able to detect anything other than pleasure in her captured smile.
Depicted on celluloid, the top of her head barely reached his shoulder, lending her slender frame a visual fragility. Honey-blonde hair worn in a shoulder-length bob framed a finely boned face, and her eyes were wide-spaced, her mouth a generous curve.
Yet when she looked in the mirror she saw a stranger, with pale symmetrical features and topaz-flecked green eyes.
Losing one’s memory, even temporarily, was akin to standing in front of a door to which there was no key, she thought in silent anguish. The answers lay out of reach on the other side.
Amnesia after such an accident was not uncommon, and in her case the condition was temporary. With no indication of when her memory would return, she’d been advised that while some patients regained total recall within days, others experienced intermittent flashes over a period of several weeks before everything finally fell into place.
‘Good morning, querida. You slept well?’
His voice was deep and vaguely husky, and Elise watched with detached fascination as his wide mouth curved into a warm smile.
Why ask, she felt like querying, when you’ve undoubtedly elicited that information from the attendant sister before entering my suite?
‘Yes.’ The monosyllabic response held restraint, and she silently examined her need of it. ‘Thank you,’ she added politely, all too aware of the studied darkness evident in his eyes.
Shouldn’t there be some level of recognition deep within her psyche, anything that would allow her to know him? Even if her mind failed to acknowledge him in any intimate capacity, surely an instinctive sixth sense would force some kind of awareness?
Dammit, she cursed silently. It wasn’t enough to have to believe that Alejandro Santanas had swept her off her feet in a whirlwind courtship. The fact that they had married a month later in Sydney left too many details unexplained.
A natural curiosity about her background had been partially satisfied by examining a thick album containing family snapshots, although there was a sense of disappointment when not one of them managed to rouse a spark of recognition.