The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(36) by Susan Mallery
The next few days passed in a blur for Cleo. Dresses were sent for her to try on. She made decisions on flowers and a menu for the reception. On the morning of the wedding, she found herself unable to eat. Instead she huddled in a corner of the sofa and wondered how she’d gotten herself in this situation.
“Knock, knock,” Sabrina called as she entered the suite. “Good morning, bride girl. How are you feeling?”
“Like I want to run for the hills.” Cleo looked up and smiled at Sabrina. “Do you happen to have a map with you so I’ll know what direction to go?”
“Sorry. And speaking from personal experience, you don’t want to head out into the desert by yourself. Bad things can happen.”
Cleo thought about Sabrina’s past and how in her search for the mythical City of Thieves, she’d headed out into the desert and had come home with the love of her life.
“Oh, I don’t know. Some good things happen, as well.”
Sabrina chuckled, then settled on the sofa. She wore jeans and a blouse. Her feet were bare and there were large electric rollers in her hair. She touched her head.
“Ah, the glamour of being a princess. If they could see me now.”
“They’d probably still be impressed.”
Sabrina shook her head. “I don’t think so.” Her smile faded. “You don’t look very happy. You don’t want to marry him, do you?”
“I don’t seem to have a choice,” Cleo said, trying not to sound bitter. “I’m carrying Sadik’s baby. A little thing like happiness doesn’t seem to hold much weight when compared with several hundred years of tradition.” She sighed.
“Sorry. I don’t want to dump my troubles on you. I actually think Sadik and I could make a success of this if he weren’t so…” She paused.
“Stubborn?” Sabrina offered. “Difficult? Pig-headed?”
“Look, I know this isn’t what you had planned. It’s not anyone’s first choice.
The good news is Sadik is a decent guy. All my brothers are. You’re going to have to figure out how to bring him to his knees. Once you do that, life will be smooth sailing.”
Great. It sounded simple enough. While she was at it, maybe she could part the ocean or stop global warming. “Do you have any specific ideas on how to do that?”
Sabrina grinned. “No, sorry. I think that’s information you’re going to have to find out on your own.”
Cleo supposed Sabrina’s theory was sound—except for one small problem. Her soon-to-be sister-in-law didn’t know about Sadik’s claim to still love his late fiancée. Hard to bring a man to his knees when he no longer had a heart.
“I’ll go and let you get dressed,” Sabrina said, rising. “Just call if you need any help.”
“Thanks. I will.”
Cleo watched her go, then settled back into the sofa. The ceremony was at five that afternoon, with a private dinner afterward. No crew of stylists and makeup artists were needed, as her wedding wasn’t going to be beamed across the world and appear on international television. Quiet was better than a circus, she told herself and almost meant it.
She closed her eyes, just for a minute, and found herself dozing off. A soft brush against her cheek awakened her. She opened her eyes and saw Sadik leaning over her.
She hated that her first instinct was to get lost in his dark gaze. Her heart pattered in her chest, her body grew weak, all because he was nearby. Loving a man was simply the pits, she thought, trying to clear her mind as she sat up.
“Is there something wrong?” she asked.
He smiled and sat close to her. “Nothing at all. I simply came by to see my bride.” He kissed her mouth.
The tender caress made her want to cry. For a second she thought about pointing out how seeing the bride before the wedding was bad luck, but then she figured that since they already had so much against them, breaking that one tradition would hardly matter.
“Are you nervous?” he asked.
“Can’t you be just a little happy that you’re marrying me?”
She could be a lot happy. She could do the dance of joy and exultation if he would just care about her.
When she didn’t answer, he changed the subject. “What about Zara? There’s still time to postpone things.”
Cleo shook her head. “I know she’s going to be upset that she’s missed my wedding, but I also know how much she was looking forward to her honeymoon with Rafe. They’re supposed to have a whole month together. When else is that going to happen in their lives? I want her to have this time, and when she gets home, she’ll just have to be mad at me.”
“As you wish.”
Oh, sure. In that he was willing to be agreeable. But not in the really important stuff.
“What of your belongings?” he asked.
She pointed to the stack of boxes in the far corner of the living room. “They were delivered yesterday.”
Sadik studied them. “I thought there would be more. Did you not have your own place?”
“Sure, but I didn’t think we’d have much use for my furniture or dishes. I had a friend pack up my personal things. Everything else has been given away to a women’s shelter.”
She’d also given up her apartment. Even though there were still several months left on the lease, she wasn’t going back. Actually her landlord had been surprisingly understanding when she’d explained that she wouldn’t be returning.
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