The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(3) by Susan Mallery
Now she had returned. Not to him but for her sister’s wedding. He told himself
he didn’t care, that seeing her again wouldn’t bother him. After all, she had walked away from his bed, which made him question her intelligence. He was Prince Sadik of Bahania and she was a mere woman. She should not have been able to leave him. After all no woman dared to abandon his bed until ordered to do so. Except for Cleo.
No matter, he told himself. Her presence in the palace was slightly less than interesting. When she arrived, he would treat her as he would a fly on the wall.
As a small annoyance, nothing more. She would be invisible to him. He would not want her. Not ever again.
He returned to his desk and focused his considerable attention on his computer screen. But instead of numbers he saw the body of a woman, and in the deepest part of him he burned.
Cleo walked into the football-field-size foyer of the palace. Everything was as she remembered—huge, luxurious and filled with cats. Parts of the structure dated back nearly a thousand years, and while most of the rooms had been modernized, she still had the sense of stepping into history.
Several of the king’s cats stretched out in front of the large window facing the main entrance. Sunlight illuminated the tiled floor.
Zara paused as Cleo looked around. “How does it feel to be back?” she asked her sister.
Cleo studied the floor. It was decorated with a map of the known world…according to fourteenth-century cartographers…detailed in tiny tiles. She rubbed her toe against the boot of Italy.
“There’s a dreamlike quality to all this,” she admitted. “I can’t reconcile standing in a palace in Bahania to my normal life at home.”
Zara laughed. “Tell me about it. I have the same feeling, and I’ve been a permanent resident for nearly four months. Come on. Let’s get you settled. I’m in the suite of rooms I was in before. I hope you still want to share space.”
Zara’s expression turned wistful. “I’ve missed having you around, Cleo.”
“I’ve missed you, too.”
Rafe walked into the foyer. He held her two carry-on bags. “I’ll have these delivered.”
Cleo chuckled. “Rafe, I know they’re not heavy. Or is it too demeaning for a powerful sheik to carry luggage?”
“Neither. I’m not allowed near Zara’s room.”
Zara’s good humor returned. She led Cleo toward the main hallway. “The king has been very clear about his desire to keep us separate these last few weeks before we get married. I’m guessing he doesn’t want me delivering a baby only seven months after the wedding. Rafe and I managed to sneak away a month ago when we spent that week in London, but since then…” She shrugged. “Let’s just say my fiancé is getting the tiniest bit crabby.”
Cleo tried to laugh along, but Zara’s crack about getting pregnant had hit a little too close to home. What would her sister say if she knew the truth? What would the king say? She shivered slightly, not wanting to go down that road. It was important that she remember to—
The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. She and Zara were walking down a long corridor that led to the east wing of the palace. Behind them two servants trailed along with Cleo’s luggage. Zara continued to talk about the wedding.
Cleo stopped suddenly and turned. A door opened and a man, a tall man, stepped out from behind it. He walked purposefully, as if he knew exactly where he was going. As if he knew she was standing there.
Cleo sucked in a breath. Her heart seemed to flutter in her chest, and adrenaline poured through her. She tried to remain calm—for the baby, if nothing
else—but it was impossible. Every nerve in her body went on alert. She couldn’t see or hear anyone but him.
An unbearable combination of pleasure and pain filled her. Pleasure at seeing him again and pain for how much she’d missed him in the time they’d been apart.
He approached slowly, steadily, as if she were prey he stalked. The man was impossible, she thought frantically. Impossibly tall, impossibly good-looking, impossibly tempting in bed.
The last time she’d been here, desire had overwhelmed good sense. She had hoped that her months away would have given her a little more backbone. Obviously, she’d hoped in vain. Her first impulse was to throw herself into his arms and beg him to take her right there up against the wall in front of God and everyone. Her second impulse was to run.
Sadik paused in front of her. His perfectly tailored suit probably cost more than she’d made in the past couple of months. She didn’t doubt his shoes cost more than her yearly rent. She had nothing in common with this man, and forgetting that would only lead to heartache.
“Cleo,” he said. His low, sexy voice made her break out in goose bumps.
“Sadik. Nice to see you.” She tried for a casual smile and had a feeling that she fell short. Oh, well.
His dark gaze swept over her, starting at the top of her head where he frowned slightly at her spiky blond hair, past her face to her body where he lingered on her br**sts and hips.
She didn’t have anyone’s ideal of the perfect figure, unless one studied Rubensian paintings, yet Prince Sadik had made it very clear that he found every inch of her desirable. Even now, just looking at her, he spoke his pleasure in her curves and softness. His desire made her melt. She wanted to beg him to pick up where they’d left off. A last flicker of common sense kept her silent.
Aside from the fact that getting involved with him again would be incredibly stupid, one look at her naked body would tell him there had been some pretty significant changes since they’d last done the wild thing.
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