The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(18) by Susan Mallery
Her racing heart slowed slightly. “You wouldn’t expect me to leave my child and just disappear?”
“I am not an animal.”
She wasn’t sure she believed him, but his words gave her hope. If he was willing to say that, then maybe she could go to the king for assurances. The idea of making some kind of coparenting plan work seemed impossible, but she would do anything to stay with her baby.
He glared at her. “I see the doubt in your eyes. How is that possible? In what way have I so betrayed you that you would not trust me now?”
“How much time do you have?” she asked, not caring that she continued to stir his temper. In truth she wanted him to—
The sudden sensation of butterflies in her stomach surprised her into silence.
She wasn’t nervous…she was furious that she’d been put into this situation, and relieved that at least for now she didn’t have to worry about losing her child.
There was no reason she should be feeling a fluttering sensation.
Cleo’s breath caught. Sadik was at her side in a second, putting his arm around
her to support her weight. “What is wrong? Do you need to sit down? Should I call a doctor?”
He was so solicitous and obviously worried that she nearly laughed out loud.
Then she remembered that none of his attentions were about her.
“I’m fine,” she said, as the fluttering continued. “I just felt the baby move.”
He frowned. “Is that good? Are you supposed to?”
She considered him the enemy in this situation. Worse, she had feelings for him she wasn’t willing to explore or define. The man tempted her beyond reason and made her forget herself. The safest course of action would be to get as far away as possible. But he was also the father of her child. While growing up she’d seen countless fathers who wanted nothing to do with their offspring. At least Sadik showed interest.
So against her better judgment, she took his hand in hers and brought it to her belly, where the fluttering was the strongest. She pressed his fingers into her belly.
“Can you feel that?” she asked in a whisper. “It’s the first time I’ve felt the baby move.”
He was still, then his fingers moved slightly and he grinned at her. “My son is strong.”
She pushed his hands away and rolled her eyes. “You make me crazy.”
He ignored that and stared at her stomach. “You do not seem very large in the belly.”
“I’m not showing a lot right now,” she agreed. “I’m a week into my fifth month so I would imagine I’m going to pop anytime now.”
“Get huge. I’m too short to carry the baby with any grace and style. Tall women can hide their pregnancy longer.”
“Why would you want to hide such a blessing?”
For one thing she hadn’t wanted him to know. For another…She drew in a breath.
“Sadik, you have to promise me something. We can’t let everyone know about this.
Not until after Zara’s wedding. I don’t want her big day spoiled by speculation.”
Sadik considered her words, then nodded. “I agree that the happiness of my sister must come first. In return for this, I want your word that you won’t steal away after the wedding.”
She hadn’t considered ducking out but realized the thought would have occurred to her eventually. “I promise,” she said.
“Good.” He put his arm around her. “We have much to discuss. I wish to know everything you’ve experienced with the child and I will share in the changes as they occur.”
She thought of how she’d had morning sickness just about twenty-four hours a day and how her body was the one that was going to swell like a watermelon. “I don’t think there’s going to be a whole lot of sharing,” she said glumly. “I can tell you what I’ve experienced, but that’s not the same.”
“I have many questions,” he said as if she hadn’t spoken. “When did you first realize you were pregnant? Have you been eating right? Why did you not tell me?”
Weariness descended. Cleo told herself that she should be grateful that Sadik wasn’t furious with her anymore. She was even surprised that he was taking it so well. But there were so many things she didn’t understand and situations she wasn’t willing to deal with at the moment.
She slipped away from his embrace. Everything was different now. He saw her as the mother of his child, so it was unlikely he would want her in his bed. The thought should have made her relieved, but instead she felt sad.
“I’m really tired,” she said. “Would you mind if we tabled the discussion until later?”
He hesitated, then nodded his agreement. “Would you like me to get you something to drink?”
She wasn’t all that thirsty, but she did need some time alone. Her composure had scattered and she had to collect herself before the formal dinner.
Sadik headed for the bar, but his mind was not on his task. A baby. When his father had mentioned Cleo was pregnant, Sadik had known right away that the child had to be his. He’d felt delighted by the news.
Now that he had confirmation, elation welled up inside of him. He wanted to announce the news to the world. Still, he would keep the secret until after Zara’s wedding. Cleo’s concern for her sister was well-founded.
How long had he longed for a son? After Kamra’s death, he had put aside his plans for a family. He’d known that eventually he would have to marry and have children, but he’d had no desire to hurry the process. This unexpected bounty made him pleased with the world.
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