The Billion-Dollar Marriage Contract

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Chapter 22 - Hope

January 26, 2013
Athens General Hospital
Athens, Greece

“Mr. Demakis?” The doctor finally came out of the operating room and spoke to Nikos.

He stood up followed by Antonio and Alex. They all awaited the news with bated breath.

“She’s resting now. Her vital signs are stable and we’ve retrieved the two bullets. Her right lung has collapsed but a few days of treatment, it will be as good as new. The other bullet went to her abdomen and punctured an intestine but it has also been repaired. So that means no solid food for a while. She’ll be here for a long time but I foresee no reason as to why she cannot make a full recovery.”

All three of them sighed with relief.

“And our baby?” Nikos whispered.

“Mrs. Demakis had a little bleeding. If the bullet went another inch down, it would have pierced your wife’s womb instead. Good thing she was brought here quickly. Your baby’s fine, Mr. Demakis. ”

“Thank God!” Nikos cried out.

Alex and Antonio patted him on the back. His knees threatened to buckle so he sat. He moved quickly and his chest hurt agonizingly. He had several broken ribs but they’d already been seen to and bandaged tightly.

“When can I see her?”

“She’s in the recovery room now. After this, she will be brought to the intensive care unit. If we do not have any complications, you may see her there. But I think she won’t be awake for another two to three days.”

“Thank you for everything, doctor,” Nikos said as he shook the surgeon’s hand.

“My pleasure, Mr. Demakis.”

“The police and my team just need a statement from you, Nikos. Can you manage that before you go and see your wife? I just need that and then the part of my case about Hector Petrides is closed,” Alex asked.

Nikos nodded.

“What’s next, Alex?” Antonio asked.

Alex shrugged.

“Hector is just one of the many bosses of the cartel. There are still more. That’s the only information I got from the only one from Hector’s men that we got alive. After he said that piece, he killed himself.” Alex shrugged and ran his fingers through his hair.

“I was just assigned to Hector Petrides so I’ll say case is closed. If they want me to investigate further and nail the big boss of the cartel, then that’s another matter. Another assignment for me.”

A few hours later, Nikos entered the Intensive Care Unit wearing a sterile gown, gloves, mask and a cap. It didn’t matter to him that he could only stay for a few minutes instead of sitting by her side through everything.

He’d take as much time as he could get.

He closed his eyes and fought a wave of pain the first time he saw her. She looked so fragile lying there. She was connected to so many tubes and machines that he feared to touch her. Her beautiful skin was now pale and covered in bruises.

He felt his eyes fill with tears once more and he fought them back. He would not be weak now. Cassia needed him and he needed to be strong for both of them. His tears would do nothing to help.

He took her hand and squeezed.

Koúkla, I’m here...”

She looked so fragile yet still looked beautiful.

“Hang in there, okay? Be strong for me. I’ll be here. I won’t leave you. I’ll stay here and guard you and our baby.”

He kissed her cold fingers and brushed away the tendrils of hair from her face. Then, he stared at her while he prayed to whoever might be listening to give her a full recovery.

February 1, 2013
Athens General Hospital
Athens, Greece

It took five days before Cassia finally woke up.

Those five days were hell for her husband. Two days ago, she was already out of the intensive care unit and was brought to the largest suite in the hospital. Through it all, Nikos never left her side. He had Alex and Antonio bring his things and he asked James, his faithful assistant, to remain in the hospital as well.

When he needed to work, he worked beside her. He didn’t want to go because he didn’t want her to wake up without him in the room.

It paid off. When she opened her eyes, he was beside her holding her hand and reading a book. When her hazel eyes gazed into his, his heart missed a beat. When she finally smiled after looking around in confusion, he wanted to scream his joy to the heavens.

“How are you feeling, koúkla? Do I need to call the doctor?”

“I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck and that truck is still on my chest,” she whispered hoarsely.

She turned to him and her eyes were wide with panic. Her hands immediately covered her abdomen.

“Nikos, our baby?”

“Relax, agapimeni. He or she is fine but the doctor ordered you on bed rest for about a month after this.”

“Right now, bed rest sounds divine. And it’s a good thing I don’t need to be out of bed for my work,” she whispered.

“I’ll be right here. I’ll watch over both of you,” he said as he settled his hand over her abdomen.

“Hear that baby? Your papa will stay right here with us.” Cassia grinned. “Wait. But what about your work, Nikos?”

He turned around and waved to the direction of the table behind him. His laptop was there along with several papers. “I brought my work here,” he said with a shrug.

“How long has it been?”

“You’ve been asleep for a week.”

“A week?!”

“Shh...don’t stress yourself. You need rest.”

“I’m fine, Nikos. I promise I won’t overexert myself.”

“I nearly died of a heart attack the moment I saw you there on the floor. I will never allow that to happen again, agapimeni.”

His words made her smile. But then she remembered something else and it wiped all the happiness away.

“Is Hector—“

“He’s gone. It’s over.”

She closed her eyes in a wave of pain. She’d been with Hector for a long time and he was one of her greatest friends. But she never knew his past or how troubled he was. If only he told her, she was sure she could’ve helped him.

She couldn’t help feeling guilty. It was her fault that everything happened. She drove him well over his limit.

“Cassia, I know what you are thinking about. It’s not your fault. It’s his. He chose his path and what he wanted to believe in. He was rich, he was famous and he had you but he threw all that away for his revenge.”

Nikos cradled Cassia close, careful of the tubes still connected to her.

“I just can’t help wishing that I was able to help him, Nikos.”

“I wish that too. I never knew I had a brother.”

Then he just held her until she finished crying all her tears.

“What’s going to happen now, Nikos?”

“We’re going to start anew. We are going to forget everything that’s happened and get on with our lives. Soon, there’s going to be an addition to our family, Cassia. I want everything to be all set before the baby comes. We’re going to start with us. I’m going to fix us.”

She lifted her hand and traced his jaw.

“How are you going to fix something that isn’t broken?”

He drew in a sharp breath.

“I told you I’ve forgiven you for everything, Nikos. The past is all a lie and a big fat misunderstanding. What matters is what we have now. I have you and I’m not letting you go.”

Nikos grinned.

“I won’t give myself over,” he teased and his heart soared when she laughed.

“So what are we going to do after I’m out of here?”

“You are going to continue to rest. If the doctor says bed rest, I will chain you to our bed if I have to.”

“Okay. Let’s just say that I am cleared to go and that our baby’s fine. What happens then?”

“Then I guess we’d travel. We’ll go to Paris and you’ll have one of your fashion shows there. Then we’ll go to China and you can eat all the dimsum your heart desires. Hmm...then maybe to Hawaii because I know how much you love the beach. Or perhaps Bora Bora where you told me you wanted to spend a month?”

Cassia’s eyes were filled with tears by the time he stopped speaking. “You remembered all that?”

“Of course. How could I not?”

She squeezed his hand. “I like that. Promise me we’ll do all that?”

“As long as we still can, agapimeni. When you can’t travel anymore because of our little one, we’re going back to our island. I want my son born in Greece.”

“Son, huh? What if it’s a daughter?”

“It makes no difference to me if we have a son or a daughter. I just want him or her and you to both be healthy. If we have a son, I will teach him how to be an even greater businessman. If we have a daughter, you can teach her how to draw or paint and she could become a fashion designer like you.”

She gave him her widest smile.

“I told you I can be charming when I want to be.”

Cassia rolled her eyes. “Then you should have done that ten years ago. Maybe now, we’d have three or four children.”

Nikos laughed and held her close.

“That is my one regret. I should not have believed the lies your grandfather told us. I should have gathered evidence. I should have believed what Antonio told me before. But because of my pride and my anger, I acted out. I’m so sorry, Cassia...”

“Don’t be. I am a much better person now because of everything I’ve experienced.”

“Then I am thankful for those ten years but sad that I was the catalyst. I should never have treated you that way.”

“Yes. And you promised you’d make up for it every day of our lives.”

Ne. I promise.”

He cupped her jaw and tilted her head up so her hazel eyes would clash with his green ones. He wanted her to remember this moment forever.

S’agapo i kardia mou einai diki sou.”

I love you, my heart is yours.

Those were words he wanted to tell her for a long time now but hadn’t had the courage to. Now that he blurted it out, he couldn’t help feeling anxious as to how she’d respond.

Would she reject him again? Was everything going too fast?

“Have I won your heart now, agapimeni?”

Yes. It’s been yours a long, long time ago. I love you too, Nikos.”

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