The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(7) by Susan Mallery
The implication that she wasn’t interested was an outright lie, but tough times called for tough measures.
Passion faded from his eyes as anger took its place. He didn’t say a word, instead he turned on his heel and stalked away. Cleo slumped against the railing and tried to calm her heart rate. She would say that round had been a draw, which was unfortunate. She really needed a win. She also needed to stay out of trouble.
Instinctively she placed a hand on her stomach. It wasn’t Sadik’s fault that she was still crazy about him. But regardless of her feelings, she didn’t dare give in. The last thing in the world she wanted was for him to find out the truth.
Cleo didn’t fall asleep before dawn, so it was nearly ten when she finally stumbled out of bed and into her shower. An hour later she was “taking breakfast” on the balcony outside of her room.
Everyone should start their day this way, she thought happily. Sunlight burned away the shadows from last night. She felt confident there wouldn’t be any interruptions from a certain handsome prince because he would have long since started his day, leaving her free to admire the view and enjoy her breakfast.
As she’d already thrown up twice, she was ravenous. Warm scones, fruit and herbal tea tempted her appetite. She leaned back in her chair and sighed with contentment. There were moments when it was good to be a guest of the royal family. The food was delicious, the view incredible and for once her morning sickness hadn’t left her feeling too shaky. Actually the morning episodes were the easiest. The ones that struck later in the day left her feeling as if she’d just gone five rounds with a stubborn strain of the flu.
A small price to pay, she thought as she picked up a strawberry and took a bite.
At least it was getting better. In the beginning she’d tossed her cookies nearly—
Cleo glanced up, then quickly sprang to her feet. She swallowed a sudden case of nerves and tried to smile. “Good morning, Your Highness,” she said to the king of Bahania.
King Hassan smiled and motioned to the small table the servants had set up for her. “Are you enjoying your breakfast?”
“Yes. Very much. I overslept. Jet lag, I guess.”
Hassan nodded. When he didn’t keep on walking, Cleo figured this wasn’t a morning constitutional. He must have a purpose. She cleared her throat. “Ah, Zara is getting a final fitting on her gown. She should be back in an hour or so.”
Hassan motioned to one of the chairs, as if asking permission to join her. Cleo nodded vigorously, feeling like one of those little dogs people put in the back of their cars.
“Please,” she said, then fumbling when he paused, as if waiting for her to sit first.
Was she allowed to be seated when he was standing? she wondered. Life was
difficult when all her royal training came from umpteen viewings of the movie The King and I. It’s not as if members of the royal family frequently crowded into her small apartment kitchen.
She finally plunked herself down on her chair and passed a plate of scones. The king took a seat, but declined the scones.
“Please continue with your breakfast,” Hassan said as he reached for her pot of tea and poured himself a cup. “How was your trip to Bahania?”
“Long, but otherwise pretty fabulous.” She spread jam on her scone. “I really appreciate the use of the family jet. It was a whole lot nicer than my first trip here.”
“Not so many people?”
“I am glad the jet could be of use to you.” He smiled kindly.
Cleo ignored a twinge of envy. This man was Zara’s father. Cleo was less impressed by the fact that he was a king than that he cared about finding his daughter after not knowing about her for twenty-eight years. Not many men would have been so open and excited at the prospect of a new family member. Still, if good fortune was going to happen to someone, she was glad it was Zara.
“We are happy you have come for the wedding,” the king said.
“I wanted to be here.” It was only half a lie, Cleo thought.
Hassan smiled. “Zara’s happiness would not be complete without the presence of her beloved sister.”
Hassan was just a tad under six feet, with graying hair and strong, handsome features. Cleo could see the family resemblance in his sons and daughters. They were all tall, dark and very good-looking. She, on the other hand, was a short, round, baby-chick blonde with blue eyes and a slight inclination to chubby thighs.
“Your Highness, Zara means the world to me, but you must know we’re not actually sisters.”
The king patted her hand. “You are sisters of the heart. Zara has told me much of your years together. A relationship born of such times runs deep. You honor each other, and as Zara’s father, I honor the bond you share. You have come to be with Zara now, because your presence makes her happy. Therefore you make me happy, as well. You are part of our family, Cleo. You will always be welcome here.”
Cleo felt as if he’d stabbed her. His complete acceptance made her feel like slime. Not only was she carrying his unborn grandchild, she had planned to duck out of the country without anyone knowing the truth.
Her conscience wrestled with reality. If the king knew about the baby, he would want to keep it in Bahania. Cleo knew she didn’t belong here, which meant she might lose her child. Zara had the genes to be a member of the royal family, but Cleo wasn’t so lucky.
“You must tour the garden,” the king said, as if he wasn’t aware of the battle raging inside of her. “When you were last here, the fierce summer daunted many of our most beautiful plants. However, in the fall, they come out and show off their glory.”
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