The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(25) by Susan Mallery
Now, seeing how much Sadik cared for his unborn child, she felt a dangerous stirring in her heart. She’d been doing her best to ignore her feelings for him ever since she’d run away, but if he kept up his adoration of the baby, she might not have a choice in the matter.
The movements slowed, then stopped. Sadik kissed her belly, then climbed out of bed. He stood there naked, obviously unconcerned that she could look her fill.
His body was darned impressive, she thought, studying the outline of muscles, his flat belly and long legs. Not that she was as old-fashioned as the prince, but she had to admit she’d hit the genetic jackpot with her baby’s father.
“We will be married,” Sadik announced.
Cleo stared at him. Her brain absorbed the words and promptly rejected them. Her heart jumped, and she instantly felt way too undressed to be having this conversation.
“You are to be the mother of my child. It is right that we should be married.”
A coldness settled in her bones. Cleo could barely breathe as she sat up, then slipped off the bed. She ignored Sadik as she collected her clothes.
Married? He wasn’t serious. Yet she knew he was. He would marry her for the baby. Of course. Why hadn’t she realized that before? For the child all things were possible. A combination of rage and hurt flooded her, making her actions jerky.
“What are you doing?” he asked as she pulled on her panties and reached for her bra.
“I would think that is obvious,” she snapped. “I’m getting dressed, then I’m getting out of here. I should never have come. I’m sorry we made love.”
It hurt to breathe. It hurt to keep moving. It was as if he’d attacked her with a club instead of with words. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Cleo couldn’t have said why she was so upset. She simply knew that she had to get alone and be by herself before she lost control.
“You are not going anywhere,” Sadik announced, still beautiful, still naked.
She refused to look at him. “You would be wrong about that,” she said as she slipped into her dress. It took a shimmy or two for her to pull up the zipper, but she managed it. She’d left her flowers at the reception. She had a very expensive necklace somewhere in Sadik’s rooms, but she would worry about that another time. After slipping into her shoes, she headed for the door.
He stalked over and grabbed her arm. “You are not going anywhere,” he repeated, obviously annoyed by her reaction. “I have said we are to be married. It is a great honor. You will be my wife, a princess of Bahania. How dare you not be pleased.”
She jerked free and glared at him. “To be honest, Your Highness, I’d rather eat glass.”
She opened the door and stepped into the hallway. Sadik spluttered, but he wasn’t dressed to give chase.
At first Cleo walked, but after a couple of minutes, she slipped off her shoes and ran down the long corridors. She made her way back to her suite and let herself in.
When the door was safely closed and she found herself alone, her legs seemed to give way. She sank onto the floor. After dropping her shoes, she pulled her legs to her chest—as much as she could—and rested her head on her knees.
Great painful sobs welled up inside of her. She tried to hold back, then figured there wasn’t much point. Who was she trying to impress?
Cleo cried as if her heart was breaking. A combination of sadness and anger fueled her emotions, and for several minutes she simply allowed her feelings to vent. When the storm had passed, she rose and went in search of a tissue.
She avoided looking at herself in the bathroom mirror. After blowing her nose, she stripped out of her fancy dress and slipped into her robe. The cotton folds were familiar and comforting. She cracked the French doors leading to the balcony, then crawled into the bed and rested her face against the cool fabric of the pillowcase.
Sadik wanted to marry her.
Just thinking the sentence made her eyes well up with tears. She started to get angry again.
“What’s going on?” she asked aloud.
There wasn’t an answer. Only the faint sound of music from the reception still going strong. Cleo curled up, feeling alone, lost and confused. Sadik’s offering to marry her was the honorable thing to do. Why did it bother her so?
She tucked her hands under the pillow as she considered her feelings. For one thing, his proposal hadn’t been an offer. He’d announced they were getting married. Not that his actions were a surprise. Sadik pretty much took what he wanted and dealt with any consequences later. What was the old staying? Ask forgiveness, not permission.
Except Sadik was a prince, so forgiveness was rarely needed.
He wanted to marry her. Why was that bad? It answered her question of what was to become of her when the baby was born. In fact, now that she was able to think straight, she shouldn’t have been surprised. Sadik wouldn’t want his firstborn child to be illegitimate.
Cleo closed her eyes and sighed. That was it, she realized. Everything about his wanting to marry her was based on the child. It wasn’t about her. If it weren’t for the baby, he wouldn’t have had anything to do with her—except for a possible invitation to join him in bed. Which he’d done, anyway.
It was the baby he cared about, not her. Not her.
Cleo rolled onto her back and stared at the ceiling. She remembered the last time she’d been here. Sadik had seduced more than her body—he’d found his way into her heart. She’d been smarter then. She’d known that there was no way she could find happiness with a handsome prince, so she’d cut her losses and headed back home.
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