The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(27) by Susan Mallery
He strolled into her bedroom looking tall and fit, as if he’d rested well. He probably had, she thought bitterly. No ghosts from his past had kept him up into the wee hours. As far as he was concerned, everything was settled.
He approached the bed, then settled on the mattress next to her. He smoothed her spiky bangs off her face. “You do not look well.”
“Rest is important for the baby.”
“I know that,” she said between clenched teeth. “I don’t want to see you. Please leave.”
He ignored her. Like that was a surprise. After taking her hand in his, he brought it to his mouth where he kissed first her knuckles, then, turning her hand, the inside of her wrist. Cleo really hated the shivers that instantly danced up her arm and then shimmied around the rest of her body.
“We will need to be married quickly,” he said, as if picking up a conversation that had recently been interrupted. “The baby will come early, but that is of no consequence. The future prince will be the light of my life. My father will also be delighted. A first grandson. That is an event of great happiness here in the kingdom. It has been many years since there was a baby in the palace.”
He frowned slightly. “I will have to research the correct naming of our son.
There are traditions to be upheld. Also there are certain schools I wish to contact. They will hold a place for him. Do you know when the baby is due?”
She stared at him. They weren’t actually having this conversation. No, this had to be some kind of strange dream or out-of-body experience.
When she didn’t answer right away, Sadik just kept on talking. “When you know for sure, let me know. Not that it matters for the schools. They are always pleased to have a member of the royal family attending. The British schools are excellent, but as you are American, that might be better.”
His lips kept flapping. Cleo couldn’t believe all that he was saying. He wanted to talk about schools and universities, while their child wasn’t much bigger than Sadik’s palm.
“You can make all the plans you want,” she said, “but I haven’t changed my mind.
I’m not marrying you.”
Sadik looked mildly annoyed. He returned his attention to her wrist where he did slightly illegal things with his tongue. She felt herself starting to melt, so she snatched her hand free of his hold and sank deeper into the bed.
“You are pregnant with my child,” he said, as if speaking to a child. “The firstborn grandchild of the king of Bahania cannot be born illegitimate. Nor would I allow such a thing. We will be married.” He hesitated, then almost as an afterthought asked, “Why do you resist marrying me?”
At last he wanted to know what she thought of all this. The good news was she’d cried herself out last night. This morning there just plain weren’t any tears left. So she was able to listen to him go on about marrying for the sake of the baby without feeling more than a stab or two to her heart.
“You’re only interested in the baby,” she said. “I’m willing to be cooperative, but getting married isn’t an option.”
Sadik stood and glared down at her. “I honor you by this proposal.”
“No, you honor yourself. You don’t care about me at all. The baby is all that matters. Frankly, I don’t see that as a recipe for happiness, so why would I want to commit to staying here with you for the rest of my life?”
Her words seemed to have genuinely shocked him. He opened his mouth and then closed it. “I am Prince Sadik of Bahania. I am proposing.”
“I don’t think your station in life is a big surprise to me at this point, and I got that there was a proposal on the table.” She sat up and leaned against the headboard. It was time to tell him the truth…or as much as she could say without giving away too much. “I don’t want to marry someone who doesn’t care about me.”
“We have mutual respect and passion. That is a strong beginning for a marriage.”
He frowned. “I will not be taking another wife. Is that your concern? Not only does Bahanian law forbid it, but I find you difficult enough.”
She supposed that was something.
They were at an impasse. Bottom line—he’d given his heart to Kamra and it was no longer available. Even if it was, she was hardly going to be his first choice for happily ever after.
“Mutual respect and passion isn’t enough, Sadik,” she said gently. “You’re not listening, and you’re not thinking this through. I’m the wrong woman for you to marry. Can you really see me as a princess?”
He answered without thinking. In a way it was really sweet, but totally unrealistic.
She hadn’t wanted to get into this. To be honest, she didn’t want him to know the truth about her past. But it seemed that she didn’t have a choice.
She scooted over in the bed, then patted the mattress. “Have a seat.”
When he settled next to her, she studied his face. His dark eyes, the sharp plane of his cheeks, the firm, stubborn jaw. What on earth had she been thinking, falling for a handsome prince? Of course, if he hadn’t been handsome, the situation still would have been really complicated.
“I want to cooperate,” she said slowly. “I’m resigned to staying here. I know I can’t take my child and hide out from you. Not only would you eventually catch me, but it would be wrong.” She drew in a deep breath. “We can come to terms about the baby, but I can’t marry you.”
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