The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(5) by Susan Mallery
“Cleo, no offense, but you look exhausted. Do you want to crawl into bed and not worry about anything until tomorrow?”
Cleo nodded gratefully. Pregnancy had zapped most of her energy. “I didn’t sleep on the plane last night. Between getting ready to go on vacation and closing up my apartment, I didn’t get much rest the night before. So I’m pretty tired.
Would you mind if I just hid out until morning?”
“Not at all.” Zara walked over and hugged her. “Thanks for coming. I couldn’t have gotten through this without you.”
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
Cleo spoke the truth. She knew the danger of returning to Bahania. If anyone found out about her pregnancy, she was in deep trouble. But staying away would have meant disappointing Zara, and Cleo couldn’t do that. Not after all they’d been through together.
The downside of taking a nap was being unable to sleep when one wanted to. Cleo turned over in bed and stared at the clock. It was nearly midnight and she felt more restless than tired. Maybe a snack would help. Or even just breathing in the sea-scented air.
After wrapping herself in her robe, she walked barefoot into the living room of the suite she and Zara once again shared. Her sister had arranged for a tray to be delivered around seven that evening. Cleo had taken two bites and had promptly thrown it all up. Now she nibbled cautiously on a sandwich half. It tasted good, and the knot in her stomach seemed to ease.
There wasn’t any light showing in Zara’s room. Cleo wondered if her sister had returned from her evening dining with the family or if she was out with Rafe.
Maybe the two of them had managed to sneak off together. Cleo sighed. Zara and Rafe looked blissfully happy together. While she was glad her sister had found the man of her dreams, she couldn’t help wishing a little of that fairy dust had been sprinkled in her direction. But no. Instead of true love, she’d found a quickie affair with a prince who might still want her but had obviously done just fine without her in the four months she’d been gone. After all, he hadn’t tried even once to get in touch with her.
Don’t think about that, she told herself. Think about something cheerful, like the fact that her stomach had settled down. She ate the rest of the sandwich half and washed it down with a glass of water. Next she sampled the fruit, which was exotic and delicious.
Feeling almost cheerful, she headed for her bathroom, where she brushed her teeth and tried to figure out if someone could tell she was pregnant just by looking at her face. Fortunately, no one had tattooed a sign to her forehead.
She was safe, for the moment.
Cleo returned to her bedroom but still didn’t feel sleepy, so she headed out onto the balcony. The French doors opened easily. As she stepped into the coolness of the autumn evening, she inhaled the sweet scents of the flowers in the garden, along with the salty smell of the ocean. Back home the leaves were turning as winter beckoned, but here the days were balmy and beautiful.
She could hear the chirps and clicks of night creatures, along with the faint sounds from the waves. Just like a dream, she thought with a lazy smile. Only, this time she knew that dreams could occasionally have unhappy endings. The last time she’d stood on this balcony alone in the night, she’d wished for a handsome prince with whom to share the moment. Now she knew better. Handsome princes were great guys…from a safe distance.
An out-of-place sound caught her attention. She turned and saw someone moving in the shadows. Her heart jumped. Not out of fear but out of recognition. She didn’t have to see his face to recognize the man. Speak of the devil.
Sadik walked toward her, moving into the light of the small lamp just to the left of her bedroom door. He didn’t say anything as he approached, which was just as well, for her throat had gone dry at the sight of him.
He wore jeans and a polo shirt—casual dress. There was nothing unusual about that, except Sadik was a prince and she’d never seen him in anything but a business suit or a tuxedo. Or in nothing at all.
Don’t go there, she told herself. Thinking about Sadik being naked was incredibly dangerous…especially given her current circumstances.
He stopped less than two feet from her. His expression didn’t give anything away, but she had the distinct impression he wasn’t happy to see her. He stood at least six feet tall, which meant it was too darned easy for him to tower over her.
A trickle of apprehension made her want to step back. Rather than give in, she did what she always did best. Think with her mouth.
“I have to say, you loom better than anyone I know,” Cleo said, leaning against the railing and striving for casual. “Is it something tall men do instinctively or is it more of a princely art?”
His gaze narrowed. “You still have not learned to curb your tongue. As a woman, you should know better.”
She rolled her eyes. “You left out the word mere, and that’s what really gives the sentence its spice. As a mere woman, I should know better.”
His agreement didn’t make her feel very charitable or friendly. “Sadik, you’ve got to get some different material. It’s the new millennium. Women now have brains and we use them. Or didn’t you get the memo?”
He seemed to loom a little more aggressively. “I am Prince Sadik of Bahania. You will not speak to me this way. You must learn your place.”
“Last time I checked, my place was about ten feet away.” She nodded toward her room. “So I do know it, and I have to say, it’s lovely.”
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