Hers To Remember Литагент HarperCollins EUR Karen Barrett Lawton She'd forgotten her past and found her futureWhen Adrienne Winston woke up in the hospital, she found she was missing the past three years of her life. Married and pregnant, Adrienne was forced to trust Sam Donnelly, the stranger who was her husband. While she didn't remember his face, her body recognized his touch and memories of their shared passion lingered. But Adrienne was a woman in trouble. She had the evidence to put a man in jail…and no idea where she had hidden it. She needed Sam's help to uncover her past before it caught up with her–and destroyed the family she wanted desperately to remember. “We can’t make love yet, sunshine.” Adrienne blushed. “Is that what you think this is about? That I’m begging you to make love to me?” “I think you’re scared.” Sam replied. “You’re grabbing for all the life you can. Making love is the most life affirming act there is.” She shook her head. “No…” “Yes.” He pulled her against him, knowing she would feel his desire. “I do want you. But knowing you want me isn’t enough. You have to start remembering first. I need to know you want me as the man you love.” He ran his hand down her back, glorying in and dreading the telltale shiver he felt against him. “There’s nothing I want more than to make love to you.” Adrienne’s green eyes had darkened, indicating clearly that she wanted him, too. “Kiss me, Sam. I really need you to kiss me.” Dear Harlequin Intrigue Reader, This month, some of your favorite Harlequin Intrigue authors—and a first-timer—deliver a killer selection of books for you to enjoy. Amanda Stevens closes the case in the final installment of her GALLAGHER JUSTICE miniseries with Nick Gallagher’s story, Forbidden Lover (#557). The Gallagher brothers were born to serve and protect, and three more sexy lawmen you’d be hard-pressed to find. If you missed the first two books, be sure to let us know! In her twentieth 43 LIGHT STREET title, Ruth Glick writing as Rebecca York scorches some paper with Never Too Late (#558), the steamy story of Scott O’Donnell and Mariana Reyes. Harlequin Intrigue is proud to bring you this terrific ongoing series and we thank you for making it one of our most popular features. Also, this month, Patricia Rosemoor—Harlequin Intrigue’s most-published author—launches her very own miniseries, SONS OF SILVER SPRINGS. Sometimes it takes a family tragedy to bring siblings back together. But nothing is thicker than blood. Meet the Quarrels brothers in Heart of a Lawman (#559). Finally, newcomer Karen Lawton Barrett contributes her first title to Harlequin Intrigue. We know you’ll love Hers To Remember (#560) for its emotional drama and highly charged suspense. Hang on to your seats when you read this A MEMORY AWAY… story! Take home all four books for an exhilarating rush of romance. Sincerely, Denise O’Sullivan Associate Senior Editor Harlequin Intrigue Hers To Remember Karen Lawton Barrett www.millsandboon.co.uk (http://www.millsandboon.co.uk) ABOUT THE AUTHOR Karen Lawton Barrett was raised in a small town in central California, where one of her elementary school teachers once wrote on a report card, “Karen daydreams too much.” These days she uses her active imagination to create romantic suspense stories. This is her first book for Harlequin Intrigue. It is set on the Monterey Peninsula, the Barrett family’s favorite destination for Sunday drives, kite flying and picnics on the beach. Books by Karen Lawton Barrett HARLEQUIN INTRIGUE 560—HERS TO REMEMBER CAST OF CHARACTERS Amy Donnelly—For three years, she had everything but a past. Adrienne Winston—She has a husband she doesn’t remember marrying, carries a child she can’t remember conceiving and may lose them both unless she can unlock the secret to her past. Sam Donnelly—He knew one day his wife might remember her past, but he never expected her to forget him. Casey Donnelly—A devoted brother, a dedicated cop, but even his years of training might not be enough to save his brother’s family from a monster. Vaughn Winston—He’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants. Ginger Zane—Amy’s friend—or is she? Barry Owen—He knew too much and had to die. To my friends, Courtney and Gail, my best reader and my best fan, And to my husband, Phillip, always and forever. Contents Chapter One (#ua10607a1-c964-522f-8c27-e94c82d5d712) Chapter Two (#u21ed3ac2-43dc-5a5f-908d-66c64a5573ef) Chapter Three (#uba02f899-5d17-5ae7-8eaa-7795ebb87098) Chapter Four (#u654c0813-33ee-5f84-a180-7576ea74e60b) Chapter Five (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Six (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Seven (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Eight (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Nine (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Ten (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Eleven (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Twelve (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Thirteen (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Fourteen (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Fifteen (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter Sixteen (#litres_trial_promo) Chapter One She fought wakefulness as long as she could, fearing what she might face. But the pain in her head forced her from her sleep. It pounded against her skull, an unrelenting hammer. She kept her eyes closed and tried to will it away. A useless endeavor, the effort only made it worse. Exhausted, she lay absolutely still and tried to relax. Even the act of breathing in and out made her feel as if she’d been strapped to some medieval torture device. She knew she needed to do something, but what, when even the tiniest movement sent pain screaming through her head? Aspirin might help, though it seemed a pitiful answer. If only she could reach her purse. Gathering what strength she could find, she willed herself to move. Voices dashed her effort. Fear warred with pain. As hard as she’d tried to move, she now concentrated on remaining motionless. The hushed whispers faded in and out and came from different directions, as if the people who spoke moved around her. “How is she? Will she be all right?” a new voice demanded. It sounded deep and male and edged with panic. “She’s got to be all right!” “She’s still unconscious,” another man answered. “Now that you’re here, I’m sure she’ll respond. But you have to be calm.” Their voices sounded distorted to her ears, as if the men who spoke stood at one end of a tunnel and she at the other. Who were they? she thought frantically. Not him. She would have known his voice anywhere. Wouldn’t she? Someone took her hand. Her stomach dropped. I can’t move. I can’t let him know. Then she realized that the hand engulfing hers was big and roughened by work. Relief made her dizzy. Not his hand. Manual labor was beneath him. “Open your eyes, sunshine. It’s time to wake up,” a deep, gentle voice urged. “Come on, honey, open your eyes and look at me.” The underlying note of desperation made her try all the harder to respond. She had to wake up. To get up, and run. She wasn’t dead. Once he found out…She tried to lift her eyelids, but they felt weighted. She sobbed. How would she lift her legs if she couldn’t even do that much? “Everything will be all right, darling. I promise. Now, open those beautiful green eyes for me.” Since opening her eyes seemed futile, she tried to squeeze the hand that still held hers. Her fingers felt boneless. What’s wrong with me? she cried, but the words sounded only in her mind. “What about the baby?” the man asked. Baby? What baby? “They did an ultrasound. The baby’s fine,” the other man answered, his tone calm and somehow professional-sounding. “But the doctor says she probably has a concussion.” Panic seized her. There can’t be a baby. I’ve been so careful. It’s impossible. “I should never have gone to that trade show.” “You can’t seriously be blaming yourself for her accident. She slipped on a cord and hit her head on the vacuum.” “I should have hired a housekeeper, then she wouldn’t have been vacuuming.” The words swirled around her. None of them made sense. Vacuuming? She hadn’t been vacuuming. She’d been running, afraid he’d found her in spite of all she’d done to get away. “You have to calm down, Sam. This isn’t going to help any of you.” Sam? Who was Sam? “Don’t you understand? I could lose her and the baby, because of my own stupidity!” Oh, God, a baby! He’d never let her go now. “Please, no baby, no baby.” She’d finally found her voice, though she spoke in a mere whisper. A hand cupped her face. “Shh, honey, the baby will be fine, and so will you. I’m going to take care of you both.” I won’t be fine. Not if I’m pregnant. A dream, that’s it! This has to be a dream. Or a nightmare. My worst nightmare. Oh, God, I tried so hard. Please, God, please let me wake up. “Come on, sunshine, that’s it. I’m right here.” The voice drew her. Slowly, she opened her eyes. A man’s face hovered above her. At first creased with concern, it soon brightened with a relieved smile. And she knew God had answered her prayers. For this was truly the face of an angel. Golden hair fell across his tanned forehead. Deep blue eyes the color of twilight sparkled with tears of joy. “Hi, sunshine.” He touched her face with gentle fingers. Then he turned his head. “Get the doctor.” “Am I dead?” she asked the golden angel who touched her so tenderly. He smiled down at her. “No, thank God, you’re alive. And now that you’re awake, you’re going to feel better every minute.” She believed him. He sounded so sure, so confident. She wished she felt the same. She licked her dry lips. “What happened? Where am I?” “In the hospital. You had an accident. Can you remember?” “An accident?” The door opened and a man walked into the room. Tall, with reddish-blond hair, and nearly as handsome as the man sitting at her side, he grinned. “Well, it’s about time you woke up, little sister. The doc will be here in a minute.” Little sister? Why would he call her that? She didn’t have a brother. She looked from one man to the other and felt only confusion. She didn’t know these men. They looked as though they could be brothers. But not hers. She was an only child. “Casey’s the one who found you,” explained the man who’d called her sunshine. She guessed that made him Sam. “Can you remember what happened?” She took in the concern on both men’s faces and wanted to cry. Who were they? Why were they here? What did these strangers care what had happened to her? She didn’t want to be so suspicious, but thanks to Vaughn, she didn’t know who to trust anymore. She searched her memory, trying to remember what had put her in the hospital. “Don’t strain yourself, sweetie. We have plenty of time,” Sam said gently. “I’m okay,” she assured him. “But I’d like to sit up a little.” The sooner she got back to normal, the better. She couldn’t fight Vaughn if she didn’t know what had happened. He pushed a button on the side of the bed that raised the mattress behind her back. The movement caused the pain to intensify. She closed her eyes until the dizziness went away. The memory came suddenly. “I was running.” “Running? Was the phone ringing?” “No, I was outside. It was dark, so dark. There was no moon. I could barely see. I must have stumbled over something. There were lights, bright lights, blinding me. Then I fell…That’s all I remember.” She reached up to touch her forehead and felt a bandage instead of skin. “I guess I must have hit my head.” She recalled one of the men saying something about a concussion. No wonder her head hurt so much. She closed her eyes, trying to remember what had happened next. A voice, a man’s voice. “Someone leaned over me and asked me if I was all right.” She opened her eyes to gaze at the man who held her hand. “The voice, it sounded like yours,” she said, not sure whether to be relieved or frightened. She still didn’t know who this beautiful man was or what connection he had to her. “Were you the one who found me?” “Yes, I found you,” he said. The strange look on his face caused her suspicion to heighten. Could this man be one of his? “Why are you looking at me like that?” The snap in her voice seemed to startle him. “Amy, I…” The name confused her. Her name wasn’t Amy. “Why did you call me that?” He looked just as confused as she felt. If he’d been one of the people who’d been following her, wouldn’t he know her name? “My name’s not Amy. It’s Adrienne…Adrienne Winston.” “Adrienne Winston?” He said it as if he’d never heard it before. “Are you sure?” “Of course I’m sure.” She might have been confused by these strangers who’d shown up in her room, but she did know her own name. “Sam, can I talk to you outside?” Casey asked, his voice still calm and professional-sounding. A silent message seemed to pass between the two men. “Sure,” Sam said. “Why don’t you wait for me in the corridor.” Casey nodded, then turned and left the room. The strange exchange brought her confusion back full force. “What’s going on?” The door opened again before he could reply to her demand. A petite woman walked in. Her tightly braided coal-black hair hung over one shoulder to her waist. She wore a white lab coat over a red sweater, slacks and a stethoscope around her neck. She walked over to the side of the bed, smiled and held out her hand. “I’m Dr. Yamana. It’s nice to see you awake, Mrs. Delaney. Your husband has been very worried about you.” Adrienne stared at the doctor, confusion warring with fear. She’d called her Mrs. Delaney. Why? Hadn’t Vaughn told them who she was? The doctor had said her husband was worried. How could they think he was her husband and not know her name? She looked over at the door. Where was Vaughn? Why hadn’t he come in when the doctor had been called? Her heart began to race. Maybe he wasn’t here. She turned to the doctor. “I have to get out of here.” “All in good time,” the doctor said, ignoring her rudeness. She took a small black instrument out of her pocket. “I need to look in your eyes. The light might bother you, but it will only take a second.” “Dr. Yamana, there’s something I need to tell you,” Sam said. “Why don’t you wait for me outside? This won’t take long.” “Please, Doctor, it’s important.” The doctor smiled at him. “Five minutes, tops. I promise.” When he moved toward the door, Adrienne felt a flash of panic. “Please, don’t go.” He’d taken care of her after the accident. His presence had made her feel safe somehow. If he left, the feeling of safety would leave, too. It had been so long since she’d felt even a modicum of security, she wasn’t willing to give it up. “Please.” He smiled reassuringly. “I need to talk to Casey. You heard what the doctor said, five minutes, tops.” “All right.” She didn’t like it. Vaughn could arrive at any minute. Vulnerability overwhelmed her. Cooperate, she told herself. It’s the only thing that’s going to get you out of this place. Finishing her examination a few moments later, Dr. Yamana stood back and smiled. “I think you’re going to be just fine. But you do show signs of a slight concussion. I’d like to keep you overnight for observation.” “I can’t stay!” The words burst out of her. In this hospital bed, she’d be a sitting duck. “You were a very lucky woman, Mrs. Delaney,” Dr. Yamana said, her tone grave. “You and your baby are just fine. But an injury like this is a shock to the system. It will be safer for both of you if you get some extra rest.” A gentle smile lightened her serious expression. “Now, I need to ask you some questions.” “Questions?” She had a few of her own. Like why did this woman keep calling her Mrs. Delaney? And where was Vaughn? Did he know about the baby? What had he told the doctor? Could she be trusted? “Don’t look so worried.” The doctor’s calm voice cut through her thoughts. “It’s a routine part of the examination when there’s been a blow to the head. First, tell me your full name.” In spite of the doctor’s professional manner, Adrienne hesitated. Should she tell her the truth? If she didn’t, and Vaughn had already gotten to her, she would know if Adrienne lied. Still, Sam had called her Amy. The doctor kept calling her Mrs. Delaney. Maybe… The doctor’s beeper sounded. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I’ll have to take care of this.” Adrienne nodded, relieved to have more time to decide what to tell the doctor. “I’ll send your husband in to keep you company until I get back.” Adrienne’s relief vanished. “No! Don’t do that.” The mild shock in Dr. Yamana’s expression told Adrienne she had to come up with a reasonable explanation for her outburst. She closed her eyes against the very real pain in her head. “My head aches. I’d really like to rest a little, if that’s all right.” Dr. Yamana patted her hand. “Of course, it’s probably the best thing for you right now. I’m sorry I can’t give you anything for the pain. Just try to relax. I’ll be back to finish my examination as soon as possible.” After the door closed behind the doctor, Adrienne allowed herself a sigh of relief. That was close. Thank God, the doctor had accepted her explanation. She sat up slowly, then turned so she could dangle her feet over the side. She rested for a moment while the dizziness subsided. She had to get out of here. Everyone she’d dealt with seemed to think she was someone else. She might be able to keep that up for a while, even though she’d already told Sam her real name. She could fake amnesia, tell him she didn’t know where the name had come from. But what if he was in on it? Was that the reason Vaughn hadn’t show up yet? No, she had to leave. She stood on the floor, holding on to the bed while she tested her balance. She looked around for a closet and found it. If the closet contained her clothes, it would make it much easier to escape. She didn’t see them letting her out of the hospital dressed in this flimsy excuse for a nightshirt. She moved step by step across the room. Her head hurt so much she was afraid any abrupt movement would make her pass out. She opened the door to reveal a pair of light blue jeans, a purple sweater, and a pair of white sneakers. None of the clothing looked familiar, but that couldn’t matter to her now. She had to leave as soon as possible. She dressed as quickly as her aching head would allow. Every time she heard voices outside the door, she’d stop and listen, sure that any moment someone would catch her before she could make her escape. Finally ready, she tiptoed to the door, opened it an inch and looked out. Once she ascertained that no one waited just outside, she opened the door wider and stepped from the room. A candy striper came out of the room next door, making Adrienne’s heart pound in her chest. But the girl only smiled and continued on her way. Seeing a sign that read Stairs, Adrienne headed for it. The pain in her head demanded an elevator, but she knew the stairway offered a safer exit. Before she pushed open the heavy door, she looked around to make sure no one saw her. The deserted hallway eased her mind. She went through, making sure the door made no noise when it closed behind her. Pain shot through her skull. She grabbed the railing to steady herself. She stood with eyes closed, waiting for the pain to pass. It could have been a moment or an hour. Time had lost its meaning. When she could finally lift her lids, she saw the number two printed on the wall above her head. Grateful she had to walk down only one flight, she moved slowly down the steps. Her luck held. She reached the bottom without seeing another soul and without losing consciousness. Although it had been touch-and-go there for a moment about halfway down. She pushed the exit door open to find it led directly to the outside of the hospital. She looked around. To her right was a parking lot, to her left a sidewalk lined with the cypress trees she’d thought so impressive when she’d arrived in Monterey. The light fog drifting around the trees made her shiver. California had symbolized escape for her, being a whole country away from Boston. But once she’d arrived, she had fallen in love at first sight with the Central Coast. Now, Vaughn had ruined even that for her. She breathed in the cool air in an attempt to clear her mind. It helped somewhat, but her head still ached. For want of a better plan, she decided to start walking. She set off down the sidewalk in the direction she hoped would take her downtown. She could get a cab there. With each step she tried to remember the name of the hotel she’d checked into. Telling the taxi driver that it was near the beach wouldn’t do much good. Fatigue set in almost immediately. Each foot she walked felt like a yard, each yard like a block. The hammering inside her head became intense. Her mouth felt dry, her body numb. She wanted a drink and a bed, not necessarily in that order. She glanced up, trying to get her bearings, and spotted a diner about a half block up the street. Well, they wouldn’t have a bed, but they would have something to drink. She searched the pockets of her jeans and came up with three dollar bills. Hallelujah! A nice, cold soft drink would set her back on her feet. Jubilant, she covered the half block as quickly as her tired legs would take her. Inside, she asked the waitress for a booth at the back and ordered a large cola. The drink served, she took a long sip, then laid her head against the back of the seat and closed her eyes. She had to remember the name of the motel. SAM RETURNED to Amy’s room a half hour after he’d left it. Dr. Yamana had told him to let her rest, but he couldn’t stand the waiting any longer. After what had happened to her when he’d left her alone last time, he didn’t want her out of his sight. Especially since she thought she was someone called Adrienne Winston. Where in heaven’s name had she picked up that? He pushed the door open quietly and moved into the room, being careful not to wake her. A curtain shielded the bed from his sight. He tiptoed around it, then stopped abruptly. She wasn’t there. Sam didn’t know how long he stared at the empty bed. Probably only seconds. Long enough for the panic that had dissipated when Amy had opened her eyes to return full force. “Where the hell is she?” Silence was his only answer as he searched the floor on each side of the bed, then the bathroom. “I knew I shouldn’t have left her alone.” He exited the room and strode to the nurse’s station. Two women sat going over a patient’s chart. “Where is Amy Delaney?” he demanded, causing them to jump. The older woman stood. “Please keep your voice down, sir.” Her stern tone reminded him of his fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Storm. But he was no longer a timid ten year old. “I will not keep my voice down, Nurse…?” He looked at her name tag. “Lopez. Amy is missing.” The nurse regarded him with forced patience. “I’m sure you’re mistaken, Mr. Delaney. Did you check the bathroom?” “Of course I checked the bathroom.” Did the woman think he was an idiot? “She obviously wasn’t there, or I wouldn’t be looking for her.” “I don’t understand…” Looking puzzled, she turned to the younger woman. “Kathy, did Dr. Yamana order more tests for Mrs. Delaney while I was gone?” “No, ma’am. She said that Mrs. Delaney was resting and to check on her in half an hour.” She looked at her watch. “That was twenty-five minutes ago.” “Are you telling me no one has seen her for almost thirty minutes?” he bellowed. “Please calm down, Mr. Delaney. I’m sure there’s just been a mistake,” Nurse Lopez said. “There’s been a mistake all right. Your patient has a concussion. She doesn’t even know her own name, and you’re letting her wander around the hospital by herself.” “Sam! I could hear you yelling three corridors away. What the hell is going on?” Sam turned to his brother. “Amy’s missing. We have to find her.” “What do you mean ‘missing’?” Sam grimaced. Casey was using his cool-cop voice. The one he usually saved for panicky mothers who’d temporarily misplaced their children in department stores. “I mean, Officer Delaney,” he returned, as composed as he could manage under the circumstances, “that Amy is not in her room, and no one seems to know where she’s gone.” Casey moved off down the hall to her room, Sam and the two nurses following quickly behind. “Have you checked the closet?” “The closet? Why would she be in the closet?” Sam didn’t need the look on Casey’s face to realize the stupidity of his question. “Her clothes!” Inside the closet, they found the gown she’d had on and nothing else. Stunned, Sam stared at the nearly empty closet. “She ran.” He looked at his brother. “Why? Why would she run away?” Casey put a comforting hand on his shoulder. “I don’t know, but we’ll find her. She can’t have gone far. I didn’t bring her purse to the hospital with me, so she had no money.” Sam only half listened. His poor Amy. For the last three years they’d been so close. It had only been the last year that she’d had the confidence to be on her own for more than a few hours. She must have been terribly frightened and confused to have left like this. Why? It hurt to think she might be afraid of him. Had he done something to scare her? Or had something else caused her to run? “Sam, are you all right?” He nodded to his brother, a lie. “I have to find her. If she fainted…” He couldn’t complete the thought. “I’ll check the stairs.” “Good,” Casey said. “I’ll talk to the staff, maybe some of the patients, see if they saw anything.” Sam ran down the hall to the nearest stairwell, thoughts of how frightened she must have been racing through his mind. She’d woken to a place she didn’t recognize, to people she didn’t recognize. All she could remember was running before the accident. Running from what? he asked himself as he went down the stairs two at a time. The relief of not finding her lying at the bottom lasted seconds. He still hadn’t found her. She was in no shape to be traipsing around the city. He went through the exit door. Outside, he stopped long enough to breathe in the fog-cooled air. He had to calm down. He had to think. She didn’t remember him. She didn’t remember her own name. Did that mean she wouldn’t remember the city either? If it did, how would she get around? Where would she go? Deciding she might try to get a ride from someone, Sam headed for the parking lot. He talked to several of the visitors who were coming and going, but no one had seen her. “There you are, Sam.” Casey strode up to him. “Any sign?” Sam shook his head. “You find out anything?” “A candy striper remembered seeing a blond woman dressed in jeans and a purple sweater with a bandage on her forehead, but she didn’t see where she went.” “Damn it! She’s too confused to be on her own.” He looked into the distance, up the road and down. “I’m going this way.” He moved off at a quick pace. “Wait, Sam…” He turned back to his brother. “What?” “When I called the precinct for help looking for Amy, I asked one of the guys to check on Adrienne Winston.” Sam scowled. “What are you saying?” Casey looked at Sam, compassion in his eyes. “I think it’s possible she might be the link to Amy’s past that’s been missing the past three years.” Chapter Two Once she’d had a chance to rest for a while, Adrienne found she didn’t have the energy to get up again. The soda had helped some, her head didn’t ache so much, but the rest of her felt more exhausted than she could ever remember feeling. She looked out the window. If someone had followed her, they’d probably be here soon. She really should go. A quarter lay on the table in front of her. Enough for a phone call. But who would she call? The buck she’d have left after she made the call wouldn’t be enough for a taxi. And she still didn’t remember the name of the hotel she’d checked into. Why was that? She rubbed her forehead between her eyebrows, where the pain had decided to settle. She couldn’t remember talking to a clerk or being in a hotel room. Had she checked in at all? It hurt so much to think, she leaned her arms on the table, and laid her head down and closed her eyes. “Amy?” Startled, Adrienne lifted her head to see the big blond man from the hospital slide onto the seat across from her. She started to slide out the other way, but he caught her wrist. “Don’t run, please.” She glared at his hand on her wrist, trying to work up some righteous anger, but he really wasn’t hurting her. She looked up at his face, expecting anger or menace or some other sign that would show this man wasn’t as caring as he pretended. All she saw was hurt. His expression didn’t convince her. Vaughn could conjure up any emotional expression he needed on a moment’s notice. This man could be no different. “Let go of me, please.” She kept her tone even, not wanting to let on just how frightened she was. His gaze searched her face. For what, she hadn’t a clue. “Will you promise not to run?” he asked. She looked him straight in the eye. “I promise nothing.” He winced, as if she’d dealt him a blow. Then he let her go. Her wrist tingled where he’d held it. The sensation puzzled her. It felt almost pleasant. She leaned back against the bench, not sure she could have run if she wanted to. “What do you want from me?” “Right now, I just want to take you back to the hospital. You took a pretty good knock.” The jackhammers going off in her head agreed with him. “What do you care?” She hurt too much to be polite. “Amy…” “Why do you keep calling me that?” He didn’t react to the snap in her voice. He smiled gently instead, as if trying to allay her fears. “Because it’s your name, sunshine.” “No, it’s not,” she said firmly. “My name is Adrienne Winston. You know it, and I know it. And if Vaughn thinks he’s going to get away with making me look crazy, he’d better think again.” “Vaughn? Who’s Vaughn?” Adrienne almost laughed. The look on his face shone innocent as a child’s. If she didn’t know better, she’d think he had nothing to do with Vaughn. A sudden pain shot through her head. She groaned. Sam moved around the table to kneel by her side. “Amy! Please let me take you back to the hospital.” “No!” She put her hands against his shoulders and tried to shove him away. He didn’t move. A wave of dizziness went through her. She looked into eyes that mirrored her fear. “Please, honey,” he begged. “We have to take care of you. We have to take care of the baby.” The baby, she thought. I have to take care of the baby. If Vaughn finds out…She looked at Sam. For a moment he didn’t seem like a stranger. He seemed like someone she’d known for a long time. An instant later, the feeling was gone. But not the fear. For now, he was all she had. She reached out to him. “Please, please help me.” Then she felt herself falling forward into his arms. ADRIENNE WOKE to find herself once again in bed. She still wore the purple sweater, but the jeans had been removed and her bare legs covered with a pink thermal blanket. The blond man sat by her side. Sam. Who was he? Why was he always there? She looked down at her hand, held gently by his. The big, tan hand warmed hers, made her feel connected to him. Why, when he was a stranger? How could she feel so close to someone she’d seen for the first time mere hours before? “Amy, are you all right?” Adrienne didn’t even bother to correct his use of that name. Nor did she bother to answer his question. Confusion, pain and exhaustion assailed her from all sides. She didn’t want to be here. Knowing she lay hurt in a hospital bed wouldn’t stop Vaughn from coming after her. That he hadn’t appeared already left her more confused. “Why did you bring me back?” she asked, unable to raise her voice above a whisper. Her little side trip had sapped whatever energy she had. “You had a bad fall. The doctor needs to examine you before she releases you.” “I’m fine.” He grimaced. “You’re not fine. You fainted.” She could feel a blush come to her cheeks. “I guess it was foolish to try to walk so far so soon.” “Maybe,” he said. “Acts of survival often are. Maybe after the doctor examines you you’ll tell me what you’re running from.” She looked away from him, still not ready to trust. “You rest, sweetheart,” he said, a strange catch in his voice. “I’ll go get the doctor.” The sound of his voice, the way he said sweetheart almost made her feel safe. “Wait,” she called as he reached the door. He stopped and looked back at her. “What’s your name?” He looked at her searchingly. “It’s Sam, remember?” “Yes, but Sam what?” “Sam Delaney.” The doctor had called her Mrs. Delaney earlier. Suddenly she didn’t feel so safe anymore. Something very strange was going on. Something her confused mind couldn’t begin to comprehend. Why would the doctor call her by the name of a man she’d never met? Why would he allow it? “What do you want with me? Why are you here?” His blue eyes became intense with an unspoken emotion. “To make sure you get well. Now, get some rest, okay?” Unable to help herself, she closed her eyes. She was so tired. Tired of the pain. Tired of the incessant questions in her head. She tried to focus on a once-favorite place, to let her mind drift away from the fear, away from the pain. But all she could see was Sam’s face. CLOSING THE DOOR softly behind him, Sam stood for a moment, listening. For what, he didn’t know. Maybe just the sound of his name. Spoken by a woman who knew him and shouldn’t have to ask why he was there. Impatient with himself, he crossed to the nurse’s station. Kathy, the young, red-haired nurse he’d yelled at earlier, looked up from a chart as he approached. Taking in her wary expression, he spoke quietly. “Is Dr. Yamana back yet?” Once he’d calmed down, he’d realized it hadn’t been the nurses’ fault Amy had escaped. “No, she’s not, Mr. Delaney.” She smiled tentatively. “Why don’t you go get yourself something to drink? We’ll let you know as soon as she returns.” Sam appreciated the suggestion, but he wasn’t leaving the floor. “It’s very important that I speak to her. I’ll be in the waiting room.” He walked to the small room at the end of the hall. Glad to see it empty, he slumped onto a barely comfortable cranberry-colored couch. The relief he’d felt at finding Amy safe and sound had worn off. Now he just felt tired. He rubbed a hand across his dry eyes. What was he going to do? He had to think. “The nurse said I’d find you here.” Sam looked up at his brother. “Where else would I be?” Casey sat on the couch opposite him. “Where did you find her?” “At the diner down the block. You were right. She didn’t get far.” Sam sat up, leaning his elbows on his knees. “What about you? What did you find?” “Nothing yet. Damian’s still looking into this Adrienne Winston. But that doesn’t mean she exists. She could have gotten the name from a book she’d been reading before she fell.” Sam rubbed his eyes. “I don’t understand it. It’s as if she’s made up some secret life. She keeps talking about some guy named Vaughn.” Casey sat forward. “Did she give you a last name?” Sam shook his head. “How is she?” “Exhausted. I managed to convince her to get some rest. It wasn’t easy. She’s scared, Casey. The fear’s eating at her.” “Does she know who you are?” He shook his head. “There’s not one bit of recognition in her eyes. Why, Casey? Why is she calling herself this strange name? Why is she afraid of this Vaughn person? Why is she afraid of me?” “There’s something you have to consider, Sam.” The seriousness of his brother’s voice spurred him from his seat. “She’s not crazy!” Casey stood up. “I wasn’t going to suggest she was. In fact, I have a hunch it’s the opposite.” “What are you talking about?” Sam demanded. “Maybe she really is Adrienne Winston. Maybe she has been all along.” Sam couldn’t believe his ears. “You said it was a long shot.” “That was before I knew she’d been talking about this Vaughn guy. I can see someone with a head injury picking up a name from a book. But to be afraid the way you say…” “Stop!” Sam wouldn’t hear another word. Casey put a hand on his shoulder. “I wish I could have spared you this.” “Me? I don’t give a damn about myself. It’s Amy I care about. If all this stuff she’s been coming up with is true, it’s possible she’s in very real danger. I need to see her.” He strode out of the room. Halfway down the corridor, Casey caught up with him, grabbing his arm. Sam glared at him. “Let me go.” “You’re too worked up. You think going in there like this is going to help her?” His brother was right. He had to be strong now. And calm. He had no idea what he was dealing with. “It’s been three years, Casey.” “I know, Sam.” Sam winced at the compassion in his brother’s voice. Hearing it scared him. Casey was a cop. A cop whose hunches were always on target. “Learning about the baby, we were so happy. How are we supposed to deal with this?” Casey put an arm around him. “I don’t know, Sam. But you will. You’re the strongest man I know. Besides, if Amy really is Adrienne Winston, the fear she’s experiencing comes from three years ago.” Sam shot him a grateful look. “I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe I should go tell her.” Casey half laughed. “Tell her what? We still don’t know anything yet. Why don’t we go get some food instead?” Sam shook his head. “I’m not hungry.” “My treat,” Casey said. That surprised him. “Your treat?” “You’re looking at me as if I’m some kind of tightwad or something.” Sam managed a smile. “Or something.” Casey laughed. “Then you’d better take me up on it. It’s a one-time offer.” His demeanor turned serious. “You have to eat, Sam. You can’t—” “Take care of Amy if I don’t take care of myself. All right, Mom, you win.” He glanced at the closed door of her room. “I just hate to leave her alone.” “She needs to sleep. The nurses will keep an eye on her. Especially after what happened earlier. And once Dr. Yamana has had a chance to completely examine her, we’ll have a better idea what we’re dealing with.” Casey’s words echoed Sam’s own thoughts. After dropping by the nurse’s station, they headed down to the cafeteria. WHEN ADRIENNE WOKE for the third time, she felt as if she’d been asleep for weeks. A glance at the clock on the bedside table told her it had only been thirty minutes. The pain in her head had faded to a dull ache. The panic she’d felt had faded, too. Once she told the people here about Vaughn, they wouldn’t have him near her. And even if they didn’t believe her, once she told Vaughn about her proof, he wouldn’t dare hurt her, despite what he’d threatened. The door opened. Adrienne tensed, then relaxed when Dr. Yamana stepped into the room. So much for my new confidence, she thought wryly. “Well, you look like you’re feeling better.” The doctor moved to her bedside. She took out the same black instrument and once again shined the light in Adrienne’s eyes. “How’s your head?” Seeing this as her chance to get herself released, Adrienne smiled. “The pain is all gone.” Dr. Yamana studied her skeptically. “All gone?” “Well, it does ache a little,” she admitted. “But not nearly enough to keep me in the hospital overnight.” “Anxious to leave, are you?” So anxious she’d gone AWOL. Evidently the doctor hadn’t heard about her little escapade. “There’s no reason to stay if I’m feeling so much better, is there?” The doctor smiled. “Why don’t you let me finish my examination before you go running off, all right?” Adrienne nodded reluctantly. The doctor took the chart from the end of the bed and pulled up a chair. After she sat down, she opened the chart and took a pen out of her pocket. “As I started to explain before, in cases where there’s been an injury to the head, sometimes there’s a memory loss. So I’ll ask you some basic questions, and you answer them to the best of your ability. Are you ready?” Memory loss, Adrienne thought, maybe that’s the answer. Sam had called her Amy, the doctor Mrs. Delaney. Delaney was Sam’s last name. Was it possible he’d meant what he said, that he was only trying to make sure she got better? Maybe he knew the danger she’d been in the other night. Maybe this was his way of helping. “Mrs. Delaney?” Adrienne looked at the doctor. “What?” “Are you up to answering these questions?” Making a decision, Adrienne nodded. “All right then, let’s start with something easy. Can you tell me your name?” Sending up a brief prayer for strength, Adrienne looked the doctor straight in the eye and lied, “Amy Delaney.” Dr. Yamana smiled. “How about your age?” “Twenty-seven.” Adrienne gave her real age reluctantly. She hoped it meshed with Sam’s information. “What is your birth date?” This she knew she shouldn’t answer. The age she might be forgiven. A wrong birth date would raise all sorts of suspicions. Now was the time for amnesia to set in. She paused, then tried to look puzzled, “I can’t remember, Doctor.” “That’s okay,” Dr. Yamana said gently. “It will come back. Let’s try something else. Can you tell me your address?” Adrienne shook her head. “What is your husband’s name?” Adrienne crossed her fingers under the covers. “Sam.” Dr. Yamana nodded. “Do you know the date of your anniversary?” “No,” she said, then made herself laugh. “I guess Sam won’t be too happy with that.” The doctor smiled. “I’m sure he’ll forgive you. He’s very concerned about you. All the nurses are dreamy-eyed, wishing their husbands or boyfriends would show such devotion.” Which meant that they could be as easily fooled as she, Adrienne thought, or else he really was the caring man he seemed to be. Which one? “Please try not to worry,” Dr. Yamana said. “All the test results came out fine for you and the baby.” The mention of the baby she carried caused all other thoughts to vanish. Adrienne still had a hard time believing she’d been pregnant for several months and never had a clue. “Since the tests came out so well, does that mean I can be released?” Adrienne asked. “Well, we do have this memory loss to deal with,” Dr. Yamana said. Happy the doctor had bought her fake amnesia, Adrienne continued her act. “How long will it take me to remember?” “That’s hard to say. Different head injuries act differently. It could take days, weeks, or even months.” Dismay filled her. What have you gotten yourself into now, Adrienne? she asked herself. “I can’t stay in the hospital for months!” The doctor laughed. “In a rush to get back to that handsome husband of yours, are you? Relax, Mrs. Delaney, your injury is relatively mild. You’ll probably only be here overnight.” Adrienne didn’t have to act out her relief. “That’s wonderful, Doctor.” The other woman smiled. “I’m sure your husband will be happy about it, too.” Adrienne started at the term “your husband,” then she realized the doctor was talking about Sam, not Vaughn. “I’m going to go talk to him now,” the doctor continued. “Get some rest. I’ll be back as soon as possible.” Dr. Yamana rose, and left the room. Adrienne stared at the closed door. What would Sam say when the doctor told him about her “amnesia”? Would he give her away, or would he realize she’d decided to take him up on his offer of protection? Adrienne sat up. It didn’t matter what he’d said. There was no way she was going to wait around to find out. Moving more quickly than she knew she should, she made her way over to the closet. At least this time all she’d have to do was put on jeans and shoes. She opened the door, then stood staring at the empty space inside. No jeans. No shoes. Only three clothesless hangers. Damn them! There was no way she could leave now. Anger and fear made her sway. She moved back to the bed, muttering, “I can’t faint. I can’t faint.” If she lost consciousness again, they would keep her here for days. That would only give Vaughn more time to find her. She was sure now he had no idea she’d landed in the hospital. If he knew, he’d be here. Huddled under the covers, she tried to think, to plan, to come up with anything she could to convince them to keep Vaughn away from her once he arrived. And she thought of the big blond man who’d regarded her so tenderly. Could she really count on his help? THE ELEVATOR DOOR whooshed open. Sam stepped into the corridor, then turned to his brother, who had followed. “I can’t believe you stuck me with lunch again.” “I thought I had a twenty in my wallet.” “Yeah, right.” Sam strode quickly down the wide hall toward the nurse’s station. Casey moved to catch up. “I said I’m sorry.” “Yeah, you sound sorry.” Arriving at his destination, he leaned on the counter and returned the smile of the nurse on duty. He figured there must have been a shift change, since he didn’t recognize her. “I’m Sam Delaney. Is Dr. Yamana back yet?” “Yes, sir, she returned a few minutes ago. I believe she’s in with Mrs. Delaney.” “What do you mean she’s in with Mrs. Delaney?” The nurse’s eyes widened at his terse tone, but Sam didn’t feel in the least guilty. He’d told them he needed to talk to the doctor before she saw Amy. “The doctor needed to finish her examination,” the nurse said. “But I told the other nurse I needed to talk to her first.” “Kathy gave Dr. Yamana the message. But you weren’t here, sir, and the doctor is very busy.” “If you had called the cafeteria when she arrived, I would have been here in two minutes,” he said between gritted teeth. “Was she too busy to wait two minutes?” Casey touched his arm. “Calm down, Sam. It’s not this young lady’s fault.” Sam glared at him. “No, it’s mine for letting you talk me into going with you.” Casey smiled, not in the least intimidated by his brother. “Wanna beat me up?” “Yes,” Sam growled. “But I don’t have time right now. I have to check on Amy.” He pushed past his brother, only to stop abruptly. Striding down the hall toward them was Dr. Yamana, looking as concerned as he felt. He moved to meet her. “Dr. Yamana? Is my wife okay?” “She’s fine, Mr. Delaney, physically. But there’s something we need to discuss.” She took his arm. “Let’s go down to the waiting room.” Sam scowled at her emphasis of the word physically. What did that mean? Had she found out about the amnesia? He looked at his brother. Casey shook his head. The gesture to be cautious was unnecessary. Sam knew as well as Casey the value of remaining silent until you knew the whole story. He let the doctor lead him to the little room he’d grown to hate. Casey followed. Inside, he sat down next to her on the cranberry couch. Casey took a chair across from them. “What’s going on, Doctor?” Sam asked. “I’m afraid your wife’s concussion has left her with a bit of amnesia.” “Amnesia?” Sam said, trying to buy some time. The doctor nodded. “I asked her some questions about herself. It’s part of the procedure when a patient has suffered a head injury. She couldn’t tell me her birth date or your anniversary. All she knew was that her name is Amy Delaney and that you, Sam Delaney, are her husband.” Sam felt rocked to his soul. If she knew she was his Amy, why had she told him her name was Adrienne Winston? What about this Vaughn person, had she mentioned him? One look at the closed expression on his brother’s face told him not to ask. “She actually told you, Doctor, that her name is Amy Delaney?” The doctor nodded. “Yes, but that’s about all she could tell me. She became very concerned that her amnesia would keep her in the hospital, but I assured her that we would probably only keep her overnight. Her head injury is relatively minor. With rest, she should be herself in a few days.” Sam tried to be relieved, but Casey’s doubts kept going through his mind. Maybe she really was Adrienne Winston. Maybe she lied about being Amy Delaney for the same reason she ran away. “Can I see her, Doctor?” “Of course, but try not to stay for long. She, and your baby, need her to rest as much as possible.” Sam nodded, but he was only going through the motions of understanding the doctor’s words. The fact was, he didn’t understand anything that had happened in the past few hours. A beeper went off. Both Casey and Dr. Yamana checked their devices. Dr. Yamana smiled. “Duty calls. I’ll check on your wife in a couple of hours, Mr. Delaney. Try not to worry. These things are usually temporary.” After she left, Sam looked at Casey. “Temporary? Is this the end, Casey? Has Amy finally remembered who she is after all these years?” Casey’s shrug was anything but casual. “We won’t know for sure until we talk to her.” Sam half laughed. “Then why aren’t I running down that hall right now?” Casey regarded him with compassion. “Because you’re afraid you’ve lost your wife, Sam. But you have to stop thinking that way. The woman you’ve spent the last three years loving loves you, too.” “Does she?” Sam wondered. Chapter Three “Of course she loves you,” Casey assured him. Sam appreciated his brother’s loyalty, but he was practical enough to face reality. Amy hadn’t recognized him. If she told the doctor her name was Amy Delaney, it wasn’t because she’d remembered. And if she didn’t remember being Amy, she wouldn’t remember loving him either. A deep anger stirred inside him. He’d be damned if he’d allow one stupid accident to take his wife away from him! He picked up a newspaper he found lying on a table, turned and left the room. “Sam, wait up!” Ignoring his brother’s call, he strode down the hall toward Amy’s room. Casey caught up to him outside. “What are you going to do?” Unable to discount the alarm in Casey’s voice, Sam took a couple of calming breaths before answering. “I have to tell her who she is.” “You don’t know who she is, Sam,” Casey reminded him. Sam shook his head in denial. “She’s my wife. She’s carrying our child. No matter what happened in her life before I found her that night, that will never change.” “Maybe you should wait until the doctor gets back,” Casey said reasonably. “She thinks Amy has a simple case of amnesia. Even you and I don’t know exactly what we’re dealing with. Amy might need a doctor nearby.” Sam seriously considered his brother’s suggestion. He didn’t want to make things worse for Amy. She was already scared enough. That thought decided him. “I have to tell her now, Casey. If the danger she’s so afraid of did happen three years ago, she has a right to know it’s long in the past.” Casey nodded his understanding. He put a supportive hand on Sam’s shoulder. “You want me to go with you.” Sam shook his head. “Wish me luck,” he said and pushed open the door to his wife’s room. Adrienne watched Sam warily as he walked into the room. The doctor had left to talk to him. What had she said? Had she seen through her act? Sam set the newspaper on the side table, then pulled up a chair and sat. “Hi.” Adrienne returned his greeting, but left it at that. For now, she would let Sam lead the conversation. Once she knew what he’d been told, she’d handle it from there. “You must have gotten some rest. You look a lot better.” She nodded. “Thanks, I feel better.” It was obvious he was stalling. She wondered why. Sam cleared his throat. “The doctor says you have amnesia.” Adrienne nodded again, then, to avoid his intent gaze, looked down at her hands. Her fingers were clenched together, an obvious sign of nervousness. He reached over and separated her hands. “Relax, honey, everything is going to be just fine.” Laying them gently on the blanket, he touched her left ring finger. She’d taken off her ring before she left Boston, but the mark from it remained. “Dr. Yamana said you only remember that your name is Amy Delaney and that I’m your husband.” She opened her mouth, but she couldn’t think of a thing to say. Sam smiled. “It’s okay, you don’t have to talk.” His smile faded. “There are some things you need to know about your accident.” His comment surprised her. “I was running, and I fell.” It seemed simple enough. “Yes.” He nodded. “Into the road, right in front of my truck. It scared the hell out of me. Thank God, my brakes were good or I might have hit you.” The anguish in his eyes touched her. She reached out to him. “I’m sorry.” He took her hand in his and smiled. “You’ve more than made up for it in the last three years.” Shocked, she drew back. “Three years? What are you talking about?” “The accident you remember took place three years ago,” he said gently. “But…” She reached up and touched the bandage on her head. “This was caused by something entirely different. You were vacuuming. You slipped on the cord and hit your head on the vacuum.” “I was vacuuming!” This had to be a joke. She hadn’t vacuumed in years. She and Vaughn had always been too busy for housework. Vaughn. This had something to do with him. Was he trying to prove her insane? Crazy people weren’t reliable witnesses. The police wouldn’t believe a word she said. She looked at Sam, deeply disappointed. She’d hoped he was different, that his gentleness was genuine. Now it seemed he was just someone Vaughn had sent to do his dirty work. Maybe he was the one she’d heard coming after her the night of the accident. She hoped Vaughn had paid him well. His acting ability appeared to be top-notch. He’d almost had her fooled. Well, one thing was clear. She couldn’t let him know she’d figured out their plan. She decided to test him. “Where was I vacuuming?” “At our house.” That threw her. “Our house?” “Yes, yours and mine.” “We live together?” She’d never seen this man before in her life. How could he possibly claim they lived together? How could Vaughn believe he’d get away with such an outrageous lie? How did they plan to prove it? Her stomach dropped when she realized she might actually have helped them prove it, when she’d told the doctor she was Amy Delaney and Sam was her husband. “Yes, we do live together.” Sam looked at her closely, as if waiting for a reaction. “We’re…married.” Adrienne saw red as anger overwhelmed her. She’d told the doctor this man was her husband, and now he was actually trying to prolong the charade. This man wasn’t here to protect her. He was using her. She stared at the man who claimed to be her husband, trying to figure him out. What made him think he could get away with this? What she saw in his expression confused her. His blue eyes held more than a hint of concern. In fact, he looked almost afraid. Which was just as ridiculous as everything else that had happened in the past couple of hours. What did he have to be afraid of? She was the one who didn’t know what the hell was going on! “Amy, are you all right?” Sam asked, reaching out. She jerked her hand back before he could touch her again. Anger and confusion warred inside her. Anger won. “I’m just ducky. I love being called by somebody else’s name. I never saw you before today and you’re claiming I’m your wife. On top of that, you’re actually trying to tell me that I fell in front of your truck three years ago and I got this bump on my head tripping over a cord in ‘our’ house. How could I not be all right? I’ve stumbled into some damn rabbit hole!” Sam stared at her as if she’d turned into the rabbit. “You don’t believe me.” Trying to rub away the pain once again pounding against her forehead, Adrienne felt suddenly weary. “Of course I don’t believe you.” He reached over and retrieved the newspaper he’d brought with him. He laid it on her lap. “Look at this.” She glanced down at the paper. The headline dealt with some foreign political problem. “Look at what?” “The date,” he said. She read the date. She read it again. “This can’t be real.” Frantically, she searched each page for some sign this was a mocked-up version of the newspaper. She looked at Sam. “Tell me this isn’t real.” “I can’t, honey. It is real.” “How can it be?” Her head began to swim. Tears threatened. She swiped them away. “How can I have forgotten three years of my life?” “Oh, sunshine.” Sam gently wiped the tears that refused to be stayed. “You did more than that.” Adrienne felt so tired she couldn’t even raise a protest at this intimacy. “What do you mean?” “Until you woke up in the hospital today, you’d forgotten everything about yourself and your past.” “What?” “You didn’t know who you were or where you came from. You had identification that gave us your name and your address, but—” “Wait!” she interrupted. Putting her hands over her burning eyes, she tried to think. She’d had identification? That couldn’t be right. She’d been running away. She’d left her driver’s license and credit cards behind, she knew it. A vague memory prodded her brain. A man handing her something, her handing him a thick envelope in return. She looked at Sam. “What name was on the ID?” Sam gazed at her searchingly before he answered. “Amy Nichols, from Los Angeles, California. Casey tried to find your phone number, but it was unlisted. He had a friend go to the address listed, but they had never heard of Amy Nichols.” Of course they hadn’t, Adrienne thought. Because she had never lived in Los Angeles, and she wasn’t Amy Nichols. “We ran your picture in the L.A. Times, as well as the local paper,” Sam continued, “but no one came forward.” “No one?” She needed the clarification. She needed to know the fake ID had worked. Sam shook his head. “I’m sorry.” The words were so simple and heartfelt, she knew they were the truth. I’m safe! The words burst into her brain. He hadn’t been following her that night. The accident had been just that. Vaughn hadn’t insisted on seeing her in the hospital for no other reason than he wasn’t here. She laughed out loud. She was safe. Adrienne could hardly believe it. Because of the ID she’d bought before she left Boston, they’d only run her picture in California. Vaughn never would have seen it in Boston. Of course, that’s why she’d chosen the Golden State. Vaughn thought it an intellectual wasteland. It never would have occurred to him that she would choose to live here. Fast on those thoughts came another, more fantastic than the ones before. “The baby?” Sam nodded. “It’s yours?” Please, God, let him say yes. Let it be anybody’s but Vaughn’s. Sam smiled. Again, Adrienne laughed, then immediately burst into tears. Sam moved to sit on the bed. Putting his arms around her he held her tight. “It’s all right, sunshine. I promise. I’m a great guy once you get to know me. You don’t have anything to be afraid of.” Adrienne heard his crooning words and knew she had to tell him. “You don’t understand.” “I do understand. This has all been too much for you. Finding out about the amnesia. Learning you’re living with a stranger, and pregnant on top of that. I know how upset you are.” Adrienne’s tears turned back to laughter. The poor man was so intent on comforting her he didn’t understand at all. She pulled away. “I’m not upset!” Sam looked at her as if she’d lost her mind. “And I’m not hysterical, either.” His expression turned skeptical. She didn’t blame him. If what he’d told her was true, and it seemed it was, her head and her emotions had been playing tricks on her for a long time. She smiled wryly. “All right, maybe a little hysterical, but wouldn’t you be, under the same circumstances?” Sam returned her smile. “I’d be a blithering idiot.” Adrienne doubted that. In spite of all that she’d put him through during the past few hours, Sam’s actions had been sure and steady. She suspected she was very lucky to have Sam as her baby’s father. “I’m just so glad the baby’s not Vaughn’s.” “Vaughn?” “He has no hold. He can’t hurt us.” As long as she and the baby belonged to someone else, he couldn’t do a thing. The truth was he probably never had. She’d been so careful. It was only once she’d arrived at her destination that she’d become afraid again. One strange noise had sent her running. How foolish! “Amy.” And how wonderful to know that the noises she’d heard on her walk had been only that. Not Vaughn. Noises. But that night, the fear had been so real, it had sent her flying through the trees and onto the road where she’d fallen. “Amy.” Even now, some of the fear remained. She’d lived with it for so long it was hard to let go. But she would, now she knew three years had passed. Three years in which she’d met a man, fallen in love, gotten married, gotten pregnant, and she remembered none of it! Incredible. “Amy!” It took her a few moments to realize he was talking to her. “I’m sorry. There is just so much to take in.” “I understand that, but there’s something I have to know.” She looked at him curiously. His tone seemed almost angry. “What is it?” “Who’s Vaughn?” She grimaced. “My husband.” Sam scowled. “Your husband?” “Actually, my ex.” She guessed. “It’s been three years. I’m sure he went through with the divorce.” Sam’s eyes went blank. He moved off the bed and walked over to the window. He stood for a moment staring out. “You’re sure he went through with the divorce,” Sam repeated as if by rote. Adrienne watched him shake off whatever he’d been thinking. He turned back to her. “Why would your ex-husband want to hurt you?” She shrugged. What use would it be to go into all that now? “He’s probably forgotten all about me by now.” At least, she hoped he had. He held her gaze. “That doesn’t answer my question.” The intensity in his blue eyes made her shiver. In the last few hours, she’d seen him gentle, concerned and hurt, but this fierceness surprised her. “Amy, why would he want to hurt you?” The husbandly sternness of his question reminded her he had a right to know. “Because he’s a cold selfish son of a—” Anger flared in Sam’s eyes, and she stopped. “What does it matter? I’ve obviously made a new life for myself. I’d rather talk about that.” “So would I,” Sam said. “But if you’re in danger…” “I’m not!” If Vaughn had known where she was, he wouldn’t have waited to do something about it. But he hadn’t. So that meant she didn’t have to be afraid anymore. Now all she wanted to do was forget him. Selective amnesia. I wonder how that works. She looked at her “new” husband. “Sam, sit down, please.” She waited until he sat in the chair by the bed. “I feel funny asking this since we’ve been married for…” “We celebrated our second year together three months ago,” Sam informed her. “Around the same time the baby was conceived.” A blush warmed her cheeks. “Oh.” She’d never been a shy person, but the thought of making love with this virtual stranger unsettled her. Her brain certainly worked in mysterious ways. First she’d forgotten her first husband. Now she’d forgotten her second. “Are you okay?” He leaned forward and reached for her hand. “I’m fine,” she said, although it seemed an anemic word to use for how she felt. Sam was so big and strong. Sitting so close, he made her feel almost delicate. Yet, he hadn’t tried to intimidate her physically like other men had. He’d made her feel safe and protected. That’s what had scared her so much when she’d believed he’d been sent by Vaughn, that he could have taken her in so easily. When she’d finally accepted that not only wasn’t he involved with Vaughn, but that he was her husband and the father of the baby she carried, she’d felt relieved and somewhat vindicated. Now she felt curious. Not only about him, personally, but about her life with him. She moved restlessly. “Sam, for all intents and purposes, we’ve just met. I know nothing about you beyond these last few hours.” He released her hand and sat back, as if reading her need for a little space. “I’m not sure I know where to start.” Start with why you married me. The thought came full-blown to her mind, but she didn’t voice it. She’d asked Vaughn that once, and he’d answered with the required pretty words. But it hadn’t taken her long to realize pretty words meant nothing. Or that she wouldn’t have wanted a man like Vaughn to love her, even if they had. Sam seemed like a good, honest man. But she wanted to know him a lot better before she asked him a question whose answer she’d have to analyze. So, she decided to start with something simple. “I know your name is Sam Delaney. How old are you?” “I’ll be thirty-five April third. That’s about three months from now.” It seemed impossible so much time had passed. Like some modern Rip van Winkle, she’d gone to sleep and woken up over three years later. But old Rip hadn’t gotten married and pregnant during his nap! Thinking about the time that had passed, another thought occurred. “I missed my thirtieth birthday,” she said. There were probably women who’d rejoice at such a fact, but she only felt strange to have missed such an important milestone. “When is your birthday?” Sam asked. “We’ve been using October seventeenth, the day of the accident.” “December thirty-first.” “Well, we didn’t know it was your birthday, but we did celebrate.” She laughed. “Us and the rest of the world. It is New Year’s Eve.” His blue eyes sparkled. “I bet when you were a kid you thought the celebration was all for you.” “You win.” But that hadn’t lasted long, she thought. People had been quick to tell her the celebration had nothing to do with her. Just like Vaughn had been quick to tell her their success had nothing to do with her. It was his work, his brains that made their advertising company a huge success. The campaigns she’d designed, he’d told her, would never have gotten off the ground if it hadn’t been for him. “Hey, what’s wrong?” Sam interrupted her dismal thoughts. Adrienne rubbed her eyes. Suddenly, she felt very tired and emotional. “What could be wrong? I’ve forgotten three years of my life. I’m pregnant with a child I don’t remember conceiving with a man I don’t remember marrying.” Seeing the stricken look on his face, she regretted snapping at him. “Look, I’m sorry. My head is aching again. Would you mind if we postponed this question-and-answer session for a while?” For a moment she thought he was going to refuse. There was a stubborn look on his face that told her he wanted to. Instead, he got up and moved the chair he’d been sitting on back next to the wall. Grateful for his compliance, she felt a need to reassure him. “I just need a little rest, Sam. It’s been a big day.” Sam managed a smile. “That’s putting it mildly. Get some sleep. I’ll be down the hall if you need me.” “You don’t have to stay.” He looked a little hurt. “Yes, I do.” Adrienne was glad. She liked the security she felt knowing he would be near. Even though she knew Vaughn lived a couple thousand miles away, in blessed ignorance, she couldn’t quite shake the fear that he’d come running should he ever learn of her circumstances. Then, she suspected, there would be no more safety. No matter how big and strong Sam was. SAM LEFT THE ROOM reluctantly. Something was wrong, but he couldn’t figure out what. He walked down the hall toward the waiting room, though he already hated the sight of those rose walls and cranberry couches. He understood that Amy had been through a lot. She probably just needed some time to assimilate what she’d learned so far. He certainly did. But he also suspected there was something she hadn’t told him. Something about her ex-husband. Why else would she be worried about whether he had a hold on her and the baby? Once in the waiting room, Sam found it difficult to keep still. He sat. He stood. He paced, then sat again. Had he made a mistake letting her distance him like this? What else could he have done? He picked up a magazine and leafed through the pages, but never saw one. His mind never left the woman lying in the hospital room down the hall. He couldn’t force her to talk to him. He knew that. So he stayed where he was, knowing also that if he pushed, she’d run. She’d already done it once. Twice, if what he suspected about her arrival in California had any validity. So, he’d wait. Because next time he might not find her so easily. Frustrated by his own logic, he threw the magazine across the room. Casey strode in as the magazine settled itself on the floor next to the couch. “Hey, big brother, what are you doing here?” “Amy needed some rest.” “Told her you were her husband and she kicked you out, huh?” Sam glared at him. “That’s not funny.” Casey sat down beside him and slapped a hand on his back. “It ain’t gonna happen, either. So quit worrying. You’re much more interesting than that stiff she left in Boston.” That got his attention. “Her ex-husband’s dead?” Casey laughed. “Not that kind of stiff. You’ve been hanging around cops too much.” “How did you find him so fast?” He’d just found out the Vaughn she’d kept mentioning was related to her himself. Acting insulted, Casey moved to the chair across from him. “Will you ever stop underestimating your little brother? I put the names Vaughn and Winston together, called a friend who’s good at tracing people. Winston’s in advertising. Has a big company in Boston called Advon Inc. He and Adrienne started it five years ago. Right after they got married.” “So the ID was fake,” Sam said, only surprised that Amy hadn’t made that clear when he’d talked about trying to find her next of kin. “Yep,” Casey said. “A good fake, too. She must have paid a bundle for it.” Restless, Sam picked up a magazine, then put it back down. “I can’t believe Amy has her own advertising company. Why would she leave it to run to California?” Casey sat forward. “Had. She signed it over to him right before she left town.” “What?” That made less sense than her running away from it. “Why?” Casey shrugged. “Maybe that’s the price she had to pay to get rid of him.” Remembering his own comment about survival skills earlier, Sam felt a shiver of fear. “She must have wanted to do that pretty badly to give up a company she founded.” That fact should have made him happy. After all, it was easier to deal with an ex the woman you loved hated. You never had to see him. But the desperation of it made him uneasy. “What else did you find out?” “Not much. Actually, what I did find was pretty weird. Nobody seemed to know she’d been missing.” “A woman disappears for three years and nobody notices?” This was getting stranger by the moment. “She has no family. Nobody filled out a missing-person’s report. All she had was Winston, who evidently didn’t care if she disappeared. The private detective suggested that Amy might have wanted to be lost, so he’s being very discreet. We don’t want to alert the wrong person to her presence.” Sam’s fear took form. How would they know who the wrong person was? Of course, it was probably her ex. If so, what had he done to make her turn over her half of their company and run all the way to California? His mind jumped to the obvious: abuse. “Come on.” He grabbed Casey’s arm and dragged him out of the room. “Where are we going?” “To talk to Amy.” Casey pulled away. “And ask her what?” So many questions filled Sam’s mind, he couldn’t begin to list them. Instead, he focused on his brother’s doubt-filled expression. “Are you saying we shouldn’t ask her what made her come out here three years ago?” It had to be the ex. He must have hurt her, threatened her. Something had driven her away. How could Sam protect her if he didn’t know what that was? “I’m saying you can’t go charging in there and demand answers.” Sam gave a short laugh. “That’s pretty good coming from the original bull in a china shop.” Casey smiled wryly. “You spent a lot of time trying to teach me patience. Maybe the lessons finally got through my thick head.” Sam paced up the hall a few feet, then back. “It’s easy for you to be patient. She’s not your wife.” “She’s not yours, either.” His brother’s tone was so mild, Sam almost missed the import of what he’d said. Fire filled him. He grabbed Casey’s shoulders and held him against the wall. “Don’t ever say that again.” Casey didn’t fight him off. “Use your head, Sam. You’re not dealing with Amy anymore. You said yourself she doesn’t remember you. It’s Adrienne Winston you’re going to be questioning. Not the woman you’ve been married to the past two years.” Sam slowly released his brother. Frustration and anger had driven him, but he had no desire to hurt a man who spoke only the truth. “I’m sorry.” Casey straightened his jacket. “Forget it.” “So what do we do now?” He really had no idea. He’d lived with Amy for the last three years. Even before they’d fallen in love, she’d stayed in the home he and Casey had shared. To him, she was one person. Sweet, loving, talented, hardworking, intelligent Amy. To think of her as another person, one who didn’t know him, who didn’t love him, seemed impossible. “I think we should do nothing,” Casey said. It was the last answer he’d expected. “Nothing?” No questions? No answers? “How can I keep her safe if I don’t know what I’m up against?” “She is safe.” Before Sam could protest, Casey rushed on. “I’m beginning to think you’re the one with amnesia. This isn’t three years ago, Sam. She didn’t just fall into the street in front of your truck. She tripped vacuuming, for God’s sake!” Casey’s voice had risen so loud, a passing nurse shushed him. Sam laughed. “So much for patience.” Casey’s eyebrows lowered. “You’re a jackass.” Amy would have said “headstrong and stubborn,” Sam thought. And as usual she would have been right. He had to get a grip. He was in love with, and expecting a child with, a woman who no longer knew him from Adam. That was enough of a problem to solve, without having to worry about what happened in the past. “All right, you win.” Casey looked at him in surprise. “I do? What do I win?” Sam shook his head at his brother’s clowning. Casey never could hold a grudge. “My patience.” “Ah.” He nodded sagely. “Well, that was more for you than for me.” “Amy’s here. She’s safe.” For now, he couldn’t help thinking. “She and the baby are my top priorities.” He started to move down the hall, then turned back. “But that patience won’t last forever. Tell that P.I. friend of yours to get to work. I want to know every move Vaughn Winston makes.” “Sam…” Sam saw the uneasy look on his brother’s face. “He hurt her, Casey. I don’t know when or why or how. But he hurt her. If he comes anywhere near her again, I’ll make him pay.” Casey covered the space between them in three strides, grabbed his arm. “Sam, you have to let me handle this. You’re not trained…” Sam shook him off. “She’s mine, Casey. Divorced or not. Married or not. She’s mine. And I am going to make sure no one hurts her again.” Chapter Four In her hospital room the next morning, Adrienne put on the clothes Sam had brought for her. If she hadn’t already been ambivalent about going home with him, the clothes would certainly have given her some doubts. The ankle-length gauze skirt of watercolor pastels and the long pink cotton sweater definitely belonged to Amy. She looked in the mirror and studied the woman she’d become. Her hair, which she normally kept chin length, fell below her shoulders. The curl she’d tried to tame had obviously been allowed to take its natural course. Without the mousse she usually applied, the golden-blond color appeared lighter and shinier somehow. Since Sam hadn’t brought any, Adrienne assumed she no longer wore makeup either. She didn’t really need it. Her lashes were dark enough. She could have used some blusher, since her face was still pale. Lipstick would have been nice. But overall, still okay. The parts were different, but taken as a whole she looked soft and womanly. It didn’t exactly displease her, but it wasn’t at all the effect she usually tried for. Her colleagues would have interpreted soft and womanly as weak and less than bright. She would never have worn anything so obviously feminine. The clothes she’d chosen had been boldly colored and of modern design. Suits that emphasized her strength and creativity. Dresses that showed her to be innovative and intelligent. They were more than power suits. They were armor. This…froth…would protect her from nothing. Of course, the argument could be made that she didn’t need to be protected. Not from business associates. Not from rival firms. And not from Vaughn. She had a new life now as Amy Delaney. She was wife of Sam Delaney, soon-to-be-mother of this child she carried, and…what else? Who was Amy Delaney? Had her loss of memory really changed her as much as her choice of clothing indicated? In the end, it was that question that decided her. She would go home with Sam. She would learn about Amy Delaney. But she would do it as Adrienne. She didn’t want to hurt him, but Sam would just have to understand that she wasn’t the woman he’d been living with the past three years. She had to go with what was familiar to her. Adrienne, the survivor. SAM PACED the hallway outside Amy’s room. He refused to set foot in that waiting room again. This had been the worst two days of his life. But I’ll get through it, he thought, taking a deep breath to ease the panic that kept threatening to overtake his usually rational mind. Once he had her home and safe, Amy would remember what they’d had together and everything would get back to normal. “Sam?” Sam turned. “Amy. You look beautiful.” “Adrienne.” “Excuse me?” She looked so familiar, the lack of a responding smile confused him. “My name is Adrienne. It’s the name I lived with for twenty-seven years. And since I don’t remember the last three, I’d rather you call me by that name.” He didn’t like it. It put too much distance between him and the woman he knew. If he let her distance him now, how could he ever make her understand what had been between them? The refusal was on his lips, but one look at her set face made him realize he had to keep it to himself. This wasn’t the woman he knew. “All right. Adrienne. Are you ready to go?” She nodded. Not exactly enthusiastic about the prospect of going home with me, Sam thought as they walked silently to the nurse’s station to sign the final release papers. And who could blame her? In Adrienne’s mind, she’d known him barely two days. She didn’t have any idea how much they’d shared. But he knew. Seeing the lack of true recognition in her eyes hurt more than he dared admit. To tell her would be to lay the responsibility for his feelings in her lap. And this wasn’t her fault. It was his. If he’d been there, she never would have been vacuuming. If she hadn’t been vacuuming, she never would have fallen. What next? he asked himself. If she hadn’t fallen, she never would have remembered? Is that what you wanted? “Hi! Are you ready to go?” Sam nodded at the girl who’d interrupted his thoughts. Hospital policy dictated that patients being released ride to the exit in a wheelchair. With the young student nurse accompanying them in the elevator, they made the descent to the lobby without saying a word. Once outside, he directed the nurse to his truck where he’d parked in a patient-loading zone. Conscientious to the end, the girl didn’t leave her patient until she saw her securely seated in the passenger seat of the dark blue pickup. Beside her, Sam took in Adrienne’s nervous movements. Poor kid. “I don’t blame you for being scared, sunshine. But I promise everything will be okay.” His effort to comfort her failed. She bristled like an angry porcupine. “How can you promise any such thing?” The sharpness in her voice shocked him. Such a tone had never crossed Amy’s lips. Though they’d had the normal adjustments to deal with, the fights that many newlyweds suffered had bypassed them. “Well?” Sam saw the fear behind the impatience. “I can’t.” Normally, he would have taken her into his arms and kissed her concerns away. With circumstances being what they were, he decided on a different tack. “Would you rather I said, ‘Everything isn’t going to be fine’?” She rewarded his light sarcasm with a smile. “No, but it might be more honest.” Her reaction relieved him greatly. At least she hadn’t lost her sense of humor. The statement that followed did make him curious, however. “Why would being negative be more honest? Don’t tell me Adrienne Winston is a pessimist.” Amy had been an optimist. Could a loss of memory change a person that much? “No,” she said. “I’m a realist.” She hadn’t liked thinking that way. Once she had been optimistic as any young girl could be. Experience had taught her to believe differently. If Sam hadn’t learned that lesson by now, he must have been very lucky indeed. “What do you mean by a ‘realist’?” She gave him a glance that questioned his naivetе. “Just that everything is fine only if you work very hard at making it that way, and you don’t run into someone who’s just as determined to do the opposite.” “Sounds like you’ve run into a few of those people.” “Too many.” Even one was too many when it came to his Amy. It broke his heart to know she had experienced pain he couldn’t ease. “Well, I’m not one of them,” he assured her. “I’ll work for you all the way.” “And if I decide that Amy Delaney’s life is not for me?” He was being tested. He knew that, as surely as the sun rose in the east. This time, he refused to let her goad him. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” He started the ignition and drove slowly through the parking lot to the exit. At the stop sign, Adrienne watched him give strict concentration to the oncoming traffic. His thick golden eyebrows were drawn down, his quick smile had disappeared completely and his knuckles had gone white from holding the steering wheel too tightly. It didn’t take a genius to see he was upset, which made Adrienne feel mean and petty. She shouldn’t be taking her frustrations out on Sam. He didn’t deserve it. He’d been unfailingly kind and caring. Her guardian angel. Suddenly, she felt an intense desire to make it up to him. “The sign on your truck says Delaney Landscape. Are you a gardener?” His tense expression lightened. “Sort of. I do landscape design.” “You mean telling people where they should plant their flowers and shrubs?” She was hopelessly out of her league here. She hadn’t killed the plants she had in her condo, but that was the most that could be said for her gardening skills. “Yes, plus planting trees, putting up fences, building decks, laying sprinklers. That kind of stuff.” Well, that explained the muscles. She ran her gaze over Sam, who wore snug faded jeans and a baby blue sweater. Without being tight, the sweater emphasized his wide shoulders and chest. The sleeves had been pushed up, revealing muscular forearms, tanned and covered with golden hair. Hours of physical activity had honed his body, and she couldn’t help thinking how envious Vaughn would be of Sam’s physique. He didn’t give a damn about her life or anyone else’s, but he’d spent hours in the gym trying to keep himself fit. Thinking back over the last two days, Adrienne realized that Vaughn couldn’t begin to hold a candle to Sam Delaney. Not in looks or personality. Sam was good. Vaughn was evil. Thank God she was out of his hands. “Adrienne? Are you okay?” Adrienne looked over at Sam, whose concern shone clearly from his eyes. She smiled. “I’m fine.” It was true. For the first time since she woke up in the hospital that first day, she felt relaxed and free of fear. And, she realized, her head had stopped aching. Suddenly, she longed to know everything about this man who was her husband. “Tell me more about your business.” Sam sensed more than saw the change that had come over Adrienne during the last few minutes. Had she finally decided to trust him? He almost asked what had changed, but decided not to push his luck. Instead, he filled her in on his company. “In addition to private contracts, we also do a lot of commercial landscape design. The people in this area are very conscious of ecology and aesthetics. The Monterey Bay area is very beautiful. The people who live here want to keep it that way.” “I don’t blame them. Spending most of my life in Boston, I would never have believed the natural beauty I found here. The windswept cypress trees, all the brightly colored flowers, the waves pounding against the rocks.” She laughed. “I’m beginning to sound like an advertising campaign.” He smiled at her enthusiasm. “Most people who’ve spent any time in the area do.” “Yes, but I’ve only been here a few days, and most of it I’ve been in the hospi…” Adrienne’s sudden silence made Sam glance over at her. She sat staring out the side window, biting her lip as if to keep from crying. He eased the truck over to the side of the road. Though they were only a short distance from home, he couldn’t bear to see her so miserable. Disregarding any protest she might make, he pulled her into his arms and held her tight. “It’s okay, sunshine,” he murmured over and over, stroking her hair. Unnerved, he didn’t know what else to say. One minute she sounded just like Amy, who loved Monterey and could go on for hours about how beautiful the trees and flowers were and how much she loved the beaches. The next minute she was clearly this Adrienne person who was hurt and confused and felt like Alice who’d been set down in a crazy world called Wonderland. “How can you say it’s okay?” She pulled out of his arms and leaned back against her door, scrubbing tears away from her cheeks. “Your wife doesn’t remember you. Doesn’t that make you angry? I don’t remember living with you. I don’t remember falling in love or your proposal or our wedding. I don’t remember making love. I’m carrying your child right now, and I have to keep reminding myself that I’m pregnant! Why do you keep saying everything’s okay?” The pain and fear grew with each word she screamed at him, until he couldn’t keep it in a moment longer. “Because if I stop saying it, I might have to accept the fact that you’ll never remember, that’s why! Are you happy now? I’m just as afraid as you are.” He paused a moment to calm himself. “I got involved with you knowing your memory might come back one day, but I never expected it to happen. You’d been here a year before we considered moving into a house of our own. I’ve known you for over three years, and there hasn’t been one inkling of insight about your past.” “Until now,” she said quietly. He nodded. “Until now.” “What are we going to do, Sam? How are we supposed to live with this?” The tone held anger, but underneath he heard a plea in her voice that cut him to the quick. She asked for answers he didn’t have. Because he could do nothing else, he asked the question he’d been dreading. “Do you want to go back to Boston?” “No!” The answer came quickly and with such adamancy he almost laughed. “Then I guess we live with it one day at a time, and hope to God your whole memory returns.” Or, barring that, that you fall in love with me all over again. Because he could not imagine a life without her. When she didn’t say anything else, he started the truck and drove on. One day at a time, she thought as they drove through the streets of Pacific Grove toward the home in which she didn’t remember living. What else could they do? She didn’t want to go back to Boston. There was nothing left to draw her back. She’d signed the company over to Vaughn in return for a quick divorce. The home they’d shared hadn’t meant anything to her since the day she’d learned about his philandering. But was it fair to put Sam through this? He’d really done nothing to deserve it. Except be unwise enough to marry her, a woman whose past had suddenly reared its ugly head. Unfortunately, she couldn’t see any other way. To leave would mean taking his child with her. And that she would not do. The baby inside her had been conceived in love. Just because she didn’t remember that love didn’t mean it hadn’t existed. He’d loved her and taken care of her for three years. She owed it to him to try to make the best of things. Still, she couldn’t help feeling that living with a man who had married another self would bring its own pain. She wasn’t Amy. She didn’t know anything about her, except that she’d fallen in love with and married Sam. Adrienne had only drawn Vaughn, a man who had pretended to love her, because he needed her money and her creativity for the advertising empire he wanted to build. It had taken her years to figure out that her creativity as a designer had been all that had interested Vaughn. And in the end, he couldn’t even give her credit for that. It wasn’t enough that he’d had affair after affair behind her back, with her being too stupid to know. No, he’d had to take her confidence in her work away from her, too. He’d chipped it away piece by piece. Telling her she’d be nothing without him to guide her. Letting her know that their clients only accepted her ideas because he’d convinced them she could do better with his help. But what she’d found out at the end had been so much worse. All her other complaints paled in the shadow of his horrendous deeds. Afraid of what he’d do to her, she’d taken the evidence and run, hoping that someday she’d find the nerve to turn him in. “We’re home.” Sam’s voice broke into her thoughts. “What?” He smiled. “I said, we’re home.” She’d been so involved in her dark thoughts, she hadn’t even noticed they’d stopped. Now she looked around. “Oh my,” she breathed. When she’d tried to picture their home, she’d assumed they lived in a nice tree-lined residential neighborhood. Instead, she found herself in a small enchanted forest. All around her were trees and flowers. Though she caught a glimpse of another house through the pines, the quiet and peace that enveloped her made the nearest neighbor seem miles away. Sam got out of the truck and moved around to open her door. She took the hand he offered and stepped out. Taking in her surroundings, she saw the house. Made of warm wood, rustic rock and soaring windows, it was at once natural, homey and, oddly enough, elegant. “It’s gorgeous.” Sam laughed, and she turned to look at him. “What?” Конец ознакомительного фрагмента. Текст предоставлен ООО «ЛитРес». Прочитайте эту книгу целиком, купив полную легальную версию (https://www.litres.ru/pages/biblio_book/?art=39925946&lfrom=390579938) на ЛитРес. Безопасно оплатить книгу можно банковской картой Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, со счета мобильного телефона, с платежного терминала, в салоне МТС или Связной, через PayPal, WebMoney, Яндекс.Деньги, QIWI Кошелек, бонусными картами или другим удобным Вам способом.