The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(43) by Susan Mallery
That was a no-brainer, she thought glumly. “I know that Zara is the smart one in the family,” she said. “However, I always regretted not going to college when I had the chance. When I was in high school, I didn’t study much. The classes were just something I had to endure. Now I think I could really enjoy learning about things.”
He set his tea on the table in front of them and spread his arms open wide. “Why don’t you try it and see what you think? I’ll make an appointment with the president of the university. You can go to see the campus this afternoon.”
Cleo felt as if she’d stepped onto a rapidly moving conveyor belt. “I don’t need to meet with the university president,” she said quickly. “Can’t I just walk around the campus, then maybe apply like a regular student?”
“Child, you are many wonderful things, but you are not a regular anything. Not anymore. You are Princess Cleo of Bahania.” He smiled. “Don’t worry. You will grow into the title.”
Not in this lifetime, she thought, more afraid of her marriage now than she had been before walking into the room. It was one thing to worry about whether or not her husband loved her. It was another to have to deal with the reality of being an actual princess. There were responsibilities and expectations she hadn’t considered.
“I’m beginning to think you are all going to regret inviting me to join the team,” she muttered.
The king shook his head. “I suspect that in a few months we are all going to wonder how we survived without you.”
Cleo hoped that was true…especially for Sadik.
That evening Cleo found herself surprisingly cheerful. She actually felt anticipation at the thought of seeing Sadik, and when he let himself into the suite, she hurried to greet him.
“I had the best day,” she said happily. “At first I thought it was going to be pretty miserable because it’s raining and I’m not a huge fan of rain. Plus there’s nothing for me to do around here, but things picked up. What about for you?”
Instead of answering, he simply stared at her. She glanced down at the front of her loose-fitting dress to see if she’d spilled something.
“What?” she asked, suddenly feeling awkward.
They were standing less than two feet apart and, as of yesterday, they were officially a married couple. Was he expecting her to hug him or kiss him? Asking about his day was sort of wifelike, after all.
“You do not seem unhappy,” he said at last.
“I have not seen you any other way since I found out you were pregnant. I did not know if you had forgotten how to smile.”
She couldn’t tell if he was teasing or not. She sighed. “I know I’ve been a little crabby and difficult. I didn’t mean to be. It’s just…” She hesitated.
Was there any way to explain how her life had been taken away from her? As Sadik had been the one doing the taking, and as he had yet to show the tiniest bit of remorse, she didn’t think he would exactly jump to see her side of things.
“I know how to smile,” she said, trying for a light tone of voice. “Know any good knock-knock jokes?”
He put his arm around her, as he led her to the sofa. “Not really. Are you hungry? Maria said you had ordered dinner in tonight. Do you wish them to serve right away?”
“I can wait.”
She sat next to him, angled toward him. She couldn’t seem to reconcile the fact that they were really married. So this was their first postworkday husband-and-wife conversation. Should she offer to get his slippers?
“Did Marie simply inform you of my decision about dinner or did she make sure it was all right with you?” Cleo held up her hand. “I’m not trying to make trouble on our first night, I’m simply trying to figure out where things stand.”
“I had reason to speak with her about something else,” he said easily. “At that time I asked her if she’d spoken with you yet, and she informed me that she had.” His handsome face tightened slightly. “I have been most unfair to you, Cleo.”
She felt as if she could have been knocked over with, if not a feather, then at least a very light object. A thousand snippy responses came to mind, some of them even humorous. But as Sadik was actually admitting fault in something, she thought she should try to take the moral high ground.
“Ah, in what way?” she asked casually, pretending interest in a loose thread in her skirt hem.
“We did not discuss a honeymoon.”
She hadn’t had time to imagine what his response might be, but she doubted she would ever have come up with that.
“You’re right.” A honeymoon? Did she need the stress? Not that he hadn’t been sweet to think of it. “That’s okay. I’m pretty pregnant, and I don’t know what travel restrictions I would have.”
“That is all well, but I should have considered how things would appear.”
Her tiny bubble of happiness burst with an audible pop. “Great. So you don’t actually care about going away with me. You just don’t want the neighbors talking.”
“That is not what I said.”
“It’s exactly what you said, and I think it’s pretty ratty of you. This whole marriage was your idea, and if you’re unhappy now, you only have yourself to blame.”
He sighed the sigh of the long-suffering, then gathered her close. No matter how good it felt to be held in his arms, and how warm his body was next to hers, she refused to either relax or be impressed.
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