Stranger In His Bed. Lauren Canan

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Название Stranger In His Bed
Автор произведения Lauren Canan
Жанр Современные любовные романы
Издательство Современные любовные романы
Год выпуска 0
isbn 9781474076746

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Would she have married a man like that? Apparently so. Surely there was something about him or about their situation that would register?

      There were so many questions she wanted to ask. She felt as though she was standing on the edge of a precipice, about to plunge down into the dark depths of the unknown. Could she do this? Evidently there was only one way to find out.

      He had not made any other move to touch her. No hug. No kiss—even on the cheek. In fact, she’d received more compassion from the doctor and nurse than from the man who said he was her husband. Maybe he was just holding back because he knew she had no recollection of him? If that was the case, she appreciated his thoughtfulness. If not, they obviously had a major problem within their marriage and one she could do nothing about until her memory returned. She hoped, yet again, that would happen soon. In the meantime, she had to speculate about what would be asked of her. What would her husband expect?

      The pain in her head and body began to fade, and before she could ask another question, she returned to the comfort of oblivion.

      * * *

      Wade Masters stood motionless as he watched Victoria fall back to sleep. She’d been monitored closely for the swelling in her brain and tested often to ensure no veins in her head ruptured from the building pressure. Today, when he’d received the call that she seemed to be regaining consciousness, he’d come to the hospital immediately. This, after having to cut short a business trip to London when he’d first heard of the accident.

      He hadn’t been prepared for the news of her amnesia. Or the fear he’d seen in her eyes, the way her gaze had held his as though his strength was the only thing holding her together. She’d looked at him with desperation and a silent cry for help, and he’d not been able to stop himself from wanting to make everything better. It had to be tough to wake up in a hospital and not remember your own name or what happened to put you there.

      He was equally surprised the snobbishness she normally wore like a shield was gone. She tended to walk a fine line between arrogant and outright rude. But instead of demanding answers from the doctor, she’d asked questions with true concern and a hint of anguish in her voice. Still, she might not have the strength to be demanding. Perhaps it was all the pain and medication. Whatever the cause, something had changed. It was more than the cracked ribs and head injury. He had come here anticipating the worst, expecting he would have to deal with her demanding behavior. Instead, he encountered a woman who was frightened and wasn’t afraid to let that anxiety show.

      And the way she appeared now, without a half ton of makeup covering her face and her hair in disarray, she looked amenable and, in a strange way, actually more attractive than usual. Despite the bruising from the accident, she was a very beautiful woman.

      But she was fastidious about the way she looked. The hospital staff had better keep any mirrors well away from her until she healed or be prepared to bear her wrath and interminable temper. They all had better relish this peaceful time. The true Victoria would be back soon enough.

      It was too bad, because she had so much to offer. If only she would get a grip, stop being so superficial and entitled, and set goals for her future.

      With one last glance at the woman sleeping in the bed, he grabbed his briefcase from the chair and walked out into the corridor. As he approached the row of elevators, his mind was spinning. He had to get a handle on how to deal with this. Maybe Dave Renner, his attorney, could shed some light on what the hell he should do now. The documents to end this sham marriage had been prepared and were awaiting Victoria’s signature. They had both agreed to a settlement offer. In a matter of days he would have been free of her and all the baggage that came with her, including the outrageously snooty and often flamboyant behavior.

      He would have been free of this woman who was his wife in name only.

      His jaw clenched in frustration. He knew there was no easy answer. In fact, there was only one answer. Take her home when she was released and care for her until she completely recovered. He shook his head at the unbelievable twist of fate.

      Wade was glad Victoria would eventually be okay. He certainly wished her no ill will. He’d had his secretary clear his calendar for the next few weeks so he could remain close until she was better. Anything she needed would be provided. But he couldn’t help but speculate if she would keep the amnesia thing going even if her memory returned. Her ability to maintain a lie was one of her best attributes. It was why he’d chosen her.

      He pressed the elevator call button, still grinding his teeth. Their arrangement had been intended to benefit them both, giving her a much-sought entry into Dallas’s inner circles and providing him with the facade of being a settled family man, which worked to his advantage in business negotiations. It had also been intended to eliminate unwanted emotions and potential complications found in a real marriage, something he had neither the time nor the patience to deal with. Those complications had been replaced by new ones, but at least it had provided him the freedom to come and go as he deemed necessary, and of late go seemed the option that worked best. The less time he spent in her company, the better.

      Eight months after signing the agreement that bound him to her as her husband, she’d begun to be seen with various men out in public, often making the gossip columns, effectively negating the very purpose for which he’d needed her, causing all the carefully staged efforts to blow up in his face. After she’d ignored repeated requests for discretion, her actions had continued, albeit on a lesser scale, but enough that he was still not happy, especially when it had begun to negatively affect his business dealings and made him appear the fool, which he would not permit. Victoria had scoffed and asked him if he really expected her to live like a nun. He’d assured her that was not his intention. What he did demand was discretion. He’d reminded her of her desire for social esteem and warned she was about to lose all she’d set out to achieve. She’d ignored him, deciding to call his bluff. Other measures had to be taken. He had thought she was intelligent enough to know he would not allow this to go on, and she had pushed him as far as he would tolerate. The bottom line: she was an employee paid to act the part of his wife, and had been compensated very well for that effort. In addition, if she had lived up to the terms, she would have received a million-dollar settlement at the end of a year. Now less than a week away from being free of her, she’d had this accident.

      He drew in a breath and blew it out as the doors to the elevator opened. He was stuck with an impetuous, ill-tempered wife in name only, who would most likely milk this amnesia thing for all it was worth. He fought to control his temper.

      He needed to call his brothers Cole and Chance, who resided in Calico Springs on the Masters family compound. He hadn’t spoken to either of them since his flight had landed. He supposed he should call Victoria’s mother, too, to tell her she’d be out of the hospital soon. But all Corrine was really worried about was herself and ensuring her rank at the top of the social food chain lasted a while longer. And really, wasn’t that all that mattered? He scoffed at the woman’s preposterous behavior. If one of his brothers had been injured, he would not have stayed home and requested a daily update. He would be there at the hospital, not waiting for a phone call. His brothers would do the same. They showed up for each other. He almost felt sorry for Victoria. After being raised by that woman, it was no wonder she acted the way she did.

      Bracing himself, he speed-dialed Corinne’s number and headed for the side entrance door of the hospital, where his car and driver waited.


      As the doctor had promised, a nurse arrived at her room with a wheelchair the next afternoon. Victoria had requested that the flowers she’d received be given to other patients who might not have family. She didn’t recognize the names on any of the cards anyway. Her clothing had been discarded when she had been first brought into the ER. Her husband had arranged for some loungewear to be delivered.

      They headed toward the front entrance, the nurse pushing the wheelchair, Wade following. As they cleared the automatic glass doors to the outside, she embraced the warm afternoon air and the sounds of normal life all around her. It was summer,