The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(33) by Susan Mallery
He rose to his feet and walked to the window. Once there, he stood with his back to her. “I will tell you of love. I will tell you that it adds nothing and causes only pain.”
He was wrong, but she found it impossible to speak. Silence filled the room.
Then he took a deep breath.
“My engagement to Kamra was arranged. I had met her a few times and had no objection to the union. She was attractive and from a good family. Her quiet nature soothed me. She had been raised to be the wife of an important man, and as such had not been out in the world very much.”
His words were daggers to her heart. Cleo doubted that she and the precious Kamra could be more opposite. But she didn’t stop him from speaking. She knew she had to hear everything.
“As she was very young and not used to the ways of the world, our engagement was to last a year. Over the months we spent much time together. I grew to admire her, then care about her. Eventually I fell in love with her.”
Cleo wanted to cover her ears and scream so she couldn’t hear him. Her eyes burned, but she refused to give in to tears.
He shoved his hands into the front pockets of his trousers. “We quarreled. I do not recall the reason. It was barely three weeks before the wedding and she was leaving for Paris with her mother. They were to do some last-minute shopping.
Kamra left in tears.”
He paused for several seconds, then continued. “After a time I decided to go after her. I called ahead to delay the plane, then drove toward the airport. On the way I saw a car accident. The ambulance was already there. I slowed to give way, then recognized the car. Her mother escaped with only minor injuries, but Kamra was dead.”
He turned to look at Cleo. His eyes were bleak, his mouth a straight line. “My heart died at that moment, with Kamra. I will never love again.”
Cleo didn’t remember leaving Sadik’s office. She didn’t remember anything until she found herself wandering the halls of the palace. Her whole body hurt, and she had the feeling that she would never feel whole again.
She stopped and rested on a small bench in an alcove. Misery filled her, but it was not the kind to be eased by tears. She hurt too much for that.
She forced herself to keep breathing and stay calm. For the sake of the baby, she told herself, touching her stomach. But nothing about her situation felt possible. How could her life have come to this? One of the palace cats strolled by. She tried to distract herself by petting it, but despite the feel of soft fur against her fingers, her tension didn’t ease.
Was she really to be forced into a marriage with a man who didn’t love her? Who wouldn’t love her because he’d already given his love away to a woman who had died? It didn’t seem possible. She wasn’t completely helpless. She had a brain and she wasn’t afraid of hard work. She could simply slip out of the palace and…
And what? Cleo turned the question over in her mind. Her savings back home were fairly meager and not enough to keep her going while she was on the run. She was already in her fifth month of pregnancy. How long would she be able to work? And even if she could find a well-paying job where no one asked any questions, what about when the baby came? Did she want to spend her life hiding out?
Cleo wasn’t sure of many things, but she was convinced that Sadik would come looking for the baby, if not for her. Should he find her, he would take the child from her. She doubted any American court would side with her once they found out that not only had Sadik offered to marry her, he’d promised to treat her like…well…like a princess.
No one would understand, she thought sadly. No one would get that it wasn’t about wealth and privilege, it was about finding love. She couldn’t marry a man who didn’t love her.
Cleo rubbed her temples, as if she could ease her pain. The worst part of it was that while Sadik was obviously capable of love, he wasn’t willing to love her.
She wasn’t enough to bring him out of mourning for Kamra.
All her life she’d never been enough. Her mother hadn’t cared enough to stick around: drugs had been far more important than her child. Fiona had taken Cleo in but hadn’t bothered to adopt her. Ian had been willing to sleep with her but had never considered her more than a plaything. Sadik was at least willing to sleep with her and marry her. She supposed that was a step up. She should be grateful. She should think it was enough.
Cleo rose suddenly. There was only one last place of refuge for her dilemma.
Only one person who could help her.
She hurried back to the business wing of the palace and found her way to the foyer of the king’s chambers. She announced herself to one of the three male secretaries sitting behind large desks and tried not to be intimidated by the armed guards standing at attention. Her name was given to another secretary in the inner sanctum. She was asked to wait.
King Hassan kept her cooling her heels less than ten minutes. She’d barely managed to control her hyperventilating when one of the huge double doors opened and she was escorted into the king’s private suite of offices.
As she followed a man in a perfectly tailored suit, Cleo tried to get a grasp of her situation. Here she was, in Bahania, about to have a one-on-one with a king.
Her mind reeled at the thought. What twisted set of circumstances had brought her to this place? She was Cleo Wilson, night manager of a copy shop in Spokane.
She did not hang out with kings.
Hassan was on the phone when she was shown into his office. He motioned for her to take a seat on the sofa in the corner. Cleo stumbled toward the leather and sank down. The office was massive, at least a hundred feet square. Huge windows looked out over a sculptured garden. There were paintings and tapestries on the walls.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online