The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(2) by Susan Mallery
Rafe Stryker, American hunk, honorary sheik, rich guy and deeply in love with Zara. Cleo sighed. Some girls had all the luck.
She hugged her brother-in-law to be, then fought back hormonal tears.
“Thanks for coming to get me,” she said, hating herself for wondering if Sadik had bothered to make the journey to the airport, as well. Not that she had to look around to check. If he’d been there he would have muscled his way to the front and monopolized her attention. He was an arrogant, self-centered, generally annoying guy. So why was she disappointed he hadn’t bothered to come say hi?
Zara linked arms with her as they headed out of the royal family’s private terminal. Cleo knew that her suitcases would have already been put in the trunk of the waiting limo. If only real life could be this good.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” Zara said. She motioned for Cleo to slide onto the back seat of the limo first. “The last few months have been hectic. I’ve been spending time with my father, getting to know him.” Zara paused and grinned. “My father. I still can’t believe I’m saying that.”
“It’s pretty great,” Cleo said, and meant it. She was happy that Zara had found her father after a lifetime of wondering who he was. If a part of her was envious, she supposed she would learn to live with it. Unfortunately, she happened to know that her father had died before she’d been born. There wasn’t going to be the same happy ending in her future.
“Then there is all the wedding stuff.” Zara shook her head. “It’s been a planning nightmare.”
Rafe sat in the seat opposite. “I told her we should elope, but would she listen?”
Zara dismissed him with a wave. “He says that now, but he’s pretty excited about the wedding.”
Cleo gave her future brother-in-law a doubtful glance. “He doesn’t look excited.
In fact Rafe looks like he’s going to bolt.”
“He might want to, but he wouldn’t leave me.”
Zara’s confidence sent a little ping of envy bouncing through Cleo’s chest. It was intensified when Rafe gave his fiancée a look of such love and devotion that Cleo had to turn away. The moment was too personal and intimate to be shared.
“That’s right,” he said easily. “Zara’s stuck with me for the rest of her life.”
That sounded pretty good to Cleo. Oh, not with Rafe. She thought he was nice and all, but he’d never made her heart beat faster. But with someone. All she’d ever wanted was to be the most important person in someone’s life. As if that was ever going to happen.
“Tell me about the wedding,” Cleo said to change the subject. Her hormones were on overdrive, and she was about three seconds from bursting into tears.
“People are coming from all over the world,” Zara said, shaking her head in bewilderment. “It’s crazy, and scary. I like my dress, but the flowers aren’t anything I would have picked. Way too big and ornate. But there are certain flowers we have to use and others we can’t.”
“Tell her about the cake,” Rafe said with a wink that promised a fun story.
Zara launched into a convoluted explanation about flavors, colors and size. Cleo tried to pay attention, but part of her had already skipped ahead to arriving at the palace. While she’d been a little disappointed that Sadik hadn’t come to the airport, she didn’t mind putting off that first meeting. One would think that in the nearly four months they’d been apart she would have been able to recover from a brief two-week affair, but one would be wrong.
She hadn’t been able to forget him. Not for a second. So in addition to keeping everyone from finding out she was pregnant, she had to make sure she was cool and indifferent in his presence. She wasn’t convinced that was even possible, but she had to try. Not so much for the sake of her pride, but because of the baby.
She didn’t know much about Bahanian law, but she suspected everyone would be cranky if they found out she carried Prince Sadik’s baby. After all, she was pregnant with a half-royal offspring. Her worst fear was that they would take the child from her.
So she would act completely normal. And in control. With any luck her morning sickness—which did not confine itself to morning—would continue to fade. In two short weeks she would be leaving Bahania. She would return home to her regularly scheduled life. Just her and her baby. No one the wiser. Probably not even her.
The American Federal Reserve chairman had adjusted the Federal Reserve interest rate. Prince Sadik of Bahania had known the adjustment was coming, but that didn’t make him like it. The international banking community always became unsettled after such an event.
He tapped a few keys on his computer keyboard, transferring fourteen billion dollars from one account to another, then waited for the confirmation. He would not play in the currency market today. Perhaps not tomorrow either—Sadik only played when he could win.
The confirmation flashed on his screen. He hit the key to send it to the printer, then leaned back in his chair. As much as he hated to admit it, his mind was not on his work. Handling the royal family’s private fortune along with consulting with the Bahanian government’s finance minister generally kept him well occupied, but not today. Today his mind was on a night of passion that, after four months, should have faded. Unfortunately, it had not.
Even after all this time apart, he could recall every moment he had spent with Cleo.
Sadik rose and crossed to the window overlooking the formal garden that filled the central courtyard of the business wing of the palace. The English roses and hedgerows were as out of place in the desert country as Cleo had been. In a land of dark-haired beauties, Cleo had shimmered like an oasis. Blond to their brunette, fair-skinned to their golden limbs, blue-eyed to their brown. Worse, she was short and far too curvy for his sensibilities. Yes, Cleo was an oasis—lush, tempting and nearly impossible to resist.
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