Have you ever loved someone and didn’t even know it?
That’s the dilemma facing Felix Essien when he wakes from a coma to find he is married to the most beautiful and sensual woman he’s ever known. He cannot remember her or their wedding. He who had sworn never to get married or to give his heart to another. Yet he feels an intense bond with her that he intends to explore fully.
Ebony can’t believe her good fortune when her paper husband wakes not remembering the temporary marriage arrangement with no intimacies he’d proposed but is now the adoring husband she’s always dreamt of. She plans to make the most of the passion blossoming between them.
However would he still feel that way when he regains his memory and realises she’s been keeping secrets and their marriage is not what he thinks it is.
Quick glossary: Ikoyi is an suburb town of Lagos, Nigeria. Picture old-money, multimillion dollar mansions, set in acres of greenery.
Ima-mmi, means My love in Efik, a regional Nigerian language.
The image of a woman sitting next to him in the back seat of his car floated in his mind. Stiff shoulders and back, her gaze focused on the scenery whizzing by the car as they sped toward the island and their final destination, Ikoyi. Her coppery brown hair tied back in a knot, giving him full view of a smooth neck column that fascinated him. A steady pulse beat at the base of her neck. He squeezed his fingers into a fist, fighting the impulse to touch her skin.
The present blended with the past.
He remembered his response and thinking he'd met a goddess, remembered the swarm of emotions on her face and feeling like he wanted to hold and never let her go.
Roses. Jasmine. Musk. Her perfume drifted in the air.
Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath, drawing it into his lungs and setting his veins on fire. It took an effort not to groan out loud. He clenched his teeth.
Instant attraction. No other explanation for the breathtaking immediacy of his need for Ebony. A craving eclipsing anything he'd ever felt for any other woman. The sensation stayed with him now as memory faded into a haze and he struggled to recall more.
Lifting his lids, he stared at the woman sitting inches away from him.
"From what you say, we had something good to start with, didn't we?" Uncertainty laced his query.
"We did," she answered in a rueful voice.
"Then give me another chance." Determination and purpose settled on his shoulders.
He'd sworn he would never get married because of his parents. Now, regardless of the circumstance surrounding his marriage, he wanted a chance to make it work.
"I don't know what happened. Whatever it is, I want the chance to make amend."
Shaking her head, she slid off the bed.
Desperate, only his promise not to pounce on her stopped him from reaching for her.
"If you're not going to give me another chance, what is the alternative? We can't go on like this."
Spinning around, she caught his gaze. "There is one option."
Cold, bold brown eyes boring into him didn't waver. He read the message in them.
"Divorce? We haven't had a chance to make this marriage work."
"You made your opinion of this marriage very clear at our wedding." The disdain in her voice rivalled the chilled winds from the Antarctic.
He puffed out air in frustration. The night would haunt him forever and he couldn’t remember a damned thing!
"We've only been married two months." He tried another tactic.
"Six weeks. Five days. Twelve hours..." She glanced at the diamond and platinum link watch on her wrist.
He couldn’t help grinning. There had to be hope for them. "You've been counting."
A small smile played on her lips. "Only because that's how long you've been in this hospital."
"I'm sorry." He took a chance and reached out for her.
She stared at his hand as if it was a king cobra.
"If you give me a chance I'll be the best husband ever." His chest constricted as he drowned and waited for her to throw him a lifeline.
"I promise I won't cheat on you. I won't lie to you. I'll give you the finest things money can buy. I will take care of you." And I will love you.
Pushing the thought aside, he didn't say the last bit. It had to be the reason he was in this predicament. Married when he'd never wanted to be before he met her. Yes, the board at Apex Private Bank had given him an ultimatum about getting married.
Knowing his history, he would've never married his wife unless he loved her. It would explain this all-consuming desperation to keep her in his life. What else would it be?
Disbelief flickered in her gaze. Why would she doubt him? What did he do to deserve such suspicion?
"No. Don't swear." She cut him off.
Brought up a catholic, swearing on anything holy was forbidden. Yet he would've sworn on his life.
"I'll give you one month."
Breath rushed out of him. He ran a palm over his face. One month should be plenty of time. God willing, he would have his memories back by then.
"Good." He kept his hand outstretched, palm open.
"Come, Ima-mmi. We need a kiss to seal the deal."
This time she took his hand and he tugged, her chest descended across his. Fisting fingers in silky strands at her nape, he claimed her lips as fiercely as he'd wanted to the first time. No finesse. Just passion and urgency as their tongues tangled.
Their second kiss as far as he could recall, her taste already an addiction filling his body with granite need.
Murmurs of pleasure called him to explore the pliant curves crushed against his torso. Instead he broke the kiss.
Panting breath feathered his face in warm puffs.
"Go home. Get plenty of rest. Prepare yourself for me." He nibbled her soft lips. "We have a lot of catching up to do, starting with our wedding night."
The sound of her catching breath and lust-filled saucer eyes widened his grin. Passionate Ebony had returned. He would keep her hot and wanting, she wouldn’t think about leaving him.
Stroking his knuckles across her cheek, he pressed his lips against hers one final time before releasing her.
She wobbled on her feet before straightening.
With a grin plastered on his face, he called Kola.
"She is ready."
Copyright Kiru Taye 2014
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