The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(49) by Susan Mallery
Hassan returned his attention to Sadik and smiled. “Then you should not have married Cleo.”
“That’s what she said.”
“She is wise.”
Not the words Sadik had been looking for. “Then you agree with her decision to attend the university. You do not think I should forbid it.” No point in saying he’d already tried.
“You must do as you see best in your marriage,” his father said. “However, Cleo will not be dictated to without reason. She has already given in to you on the matter of getting married.”
“She had no choice.” Sadik was still bitter that Cleo had not been honored by his proposal.
“Exactly. Let her have a choice this time. Be wise, my son. Do not listen to your head as much as your heart.”
“My heart has nothing to do with this.”
The king shook his head. “The choice in that is yours, but I fear you will regret holding her back. How much of your concern about Cleo is that she will not have time to raise your children and how much of it is your fear that she will have a life away from you? One that she may come to enjoy more?”
Sadik ignored the questions, mostly because he didn’t like them. He was a royal prince of Bahania—he feared nothing.
His father’s phone rang. Sadik nodded and left. But he did not feel better for having spoken of his troubles. Uneasiness dogged him. Things with Cleo were not as he thought they would be. She was not grateful that he had married her, nor was she willing to do as he requested, no matter how reasonable the demand. She spoke of the university, and before their marriage she had even spoken of love.
He knew she wanted to take possession of his heart. That he could not allow. The price of love was loss. Losing Kamra had upset his world for many weeks, and although he refused to admit it to anyone but himself, Kamra had mattered far less than Cleo. He did not want to consider the destruction that would follow if his wife were to disappear from his life. He could not allow himself to be shattered that way, so he would not allow her to matter.
As he did every morning Sadik appeared promptly at seven forty-five. He carried a tray into the bedroom and set it carefully on the nightstand. He bent low and kissed Cleo on the mouth, then handed her the disgusting, purple protein drink he insisted she have each morning.
While she concentrated on sipping without gagging, he drew back the covers and pulled up her nightgown. He placed both his hands on her stomach and addressed her growing belly.
“Good morning, my son,” he murmured, his voice low and filled with affection.
“Today we will discuss the ways of the desert. The desert is like a magnificent woman who will not be tamed. Treat her with respect and she will serve you all your days. Ignore her or underestimate her and she will destroy you.”
Cleo couldn’t help smiling. “You underestimate me all the time and I have yet to destroy you. Although I do think about slapping some sense into you from time to time.”
Sadik ignored her, although she saw the corners of his mouth twitch slightly.
“Your aunt, Princess Sabrina, was once foolish enough to go out in the desert by herself,” he continued. “She was trapped by a sandstorm and nearly died. You, my son, will never behave in such a manner. You and the desert will be one.”
Cleo choked down her protein drink and let Sadik’s words wash over her. She didn’t understand this morning ritual of his—mostly because she was sure their unborn child couldn’t understand anything that was being said. But she enjoyed the time with her husband. When he was like this, so kind and gentle, touching her, caring about her and the baby, she believed they might have a chance at making their marriage work.
Unfortunately, more times than not, Prince Sadik was stubborn and uncooperative.
She finished her drink about the same time he finished his “desert” lecture.
Sadik rose and sat on the side of the bed.
“What are your plans for the day?” he asked.
“I’m meeting with my tutor.”
His expression tightened. “You are too intelligent to require a tutor.”
She didn’t know whether to laugh or scream. On the one hand he hated that she insisted on starting at the university; on the other, he was insulted that she would need help getting up to speed.
“Sadik, while I appreciate the vote of confidence, the reality is that I was never much of a model student. I barely made it through some of my high school courses. The university can’t refuse me—I’m married to you. So to avoid embarrassment for everyone, I’m brushing up on a few subjects.”
Her husband’s gaze suddenly narrowed. “Who is your tutor and where will you be studying?”
For a second her foolish heart took flight. Sadik’s jealousy gave her reason to hope. But before she could read too much into the question, she reminded herself that he had made it clear he wasn’t about to fall in love with her. So being jealous was a knee-jerk response, not one that meant anything.
“A woman,” she said with a sigh. “Don’t get your panties all in a bunch. Even I know better than to hire a male tutor.”
“That is as it should be.” He rose and kissed her again, then touched her cheek.
“I count the hours until I see you later today.”
She watched him leave. A part of her wished those words were true. He said them each morning, but they were simply a ritual without meaning. Like their marriage, she thought sadly, not knowing how to make things different. No matter how intensely she and Sadik made love, no matter how often, she couldn’t seem to touch more than his body. She wanted to believe there was a way to reach his heart, but so far she had no bright ideas. Maybe it was time for some expert advice.
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