The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(56) by Susan Mallery
“I am content,” she said quietly. “He’s a good man and a caring husband. He is eager for our child. We enjoy each other’s company. There is respect. Isn’t that enough? To want more is to wish for the moon.”
“How dark the night sky would be without the light of the moon.”
“But she travels on her own path and cannot be ordered to appear.”
He smiled. “You are learning the ways of the desert.”
She was learning because every morning Sadik spoke lovingly to their unborn child, teaching him or her about the ways of Bahania. She supposed he was as much a tutor for her as any of her other instructors. From him she had learned about the lineage of the famed Bahanian stallions, and how to tell if the birds circling in the sky told of water nearby.
“The desert is now my home,” Cleo reminded the king. “I must learn her ways and respect them.”
“What of the sadness in your eyes?”
She didn’t want to think about that. “In time it will fade.”
“Because you will come to love him less?”
She wasn’t surprised that he had guessed her secret. How hard could it have been? “In time I will get used to the situation.”
“Will you get used to him not loving you back?”
The blunt question made her wince. “Yes.” Because she didn’t have a choice. She refused to live her life being unhappy. “In time the friendship and respect will be enough for me.”
Hassan frowned. “My son is a fool but not an idiot. In time he will see the treasure he holds cannot be replaced.”
Cleo wasn’t confident that Sadik would ever be willing to let go of his past.
The memory of Kamra was too important to him. And as long as the ghost of his late fiancée had a hold on his heart, he would never be able to offer it to her.
The nurse motioned for Cleo to step up on the scale. Cleo kicked off her sandals and thought light thoughts as she did as requested. The digital number rose upward at an alarming rate, causing her heart to sink in direct proportion. When it finally stopped, she stared, unable to believe anyone her height could actually weigh that much.
“Dr. Johnson is going to have my head on a platter,” she muttered as she slipped back into her shoes. “She warned me on my last visit not to gain more than a pound a week.”
Sadik dismissed her concerns. “You are a vision of health and beauty. If your blood pressure is normal, then Dr. Johnson will not be concerned.”
Cleo was not convinced. She knew that the combination of stress and fabulous palace food had her eating a whole lot more than she was supposed to. She followed the nurse into the examining room and gingerly shifted her body onto the table.
The nurse put the cuff around her arm and began pumping in air. A minute later she released the cuff and announced that Cleo’s blood pressure continued to be in the excellent range.
“That’s something,” Cleo muttered, still bracing herself for the lecture.
Unfortunately, she didn’t have long to prepare.
One of the advantages—or disadvantages, depending on the day—of being a member of the royal family was that one did not linger in doctor waiting rooms or examining rooms. Dr. Johnson, a tall, blond woman in her late forties, entered on the heels of the nurse leaving. She studied the chart attached to a clipboard, then raised her head to look at Cleo.
Cleo instantly felt like a two-year-old caught with her fingers in the cookie jar. Only, in her case it had been a lot more than cookies.
“I know,” she began. “You said a pound a week, which would mean four pounds, right? But it’s seven. I’ve been trying to be good.”
Sadik bent over and kissed her mouth. “Enough. You need not explain.” He smiled at the doctor. “Her blood pressure remains normal and there is no edema in her hands and feet. I check them daily for swelling.”
Dr. Johnson looked impressed. “You’re a most attentive father-to-be, Your Highness.”
Sadik nodded. “Cleo is my wife. She carries my son. What could be more important than her well-being?”
When he talked like that, Cleo got all tingly inside. She knew he didn’t mean it the way she wanted him to, but as she’d decided several weeks before, she was determined to make what she had with Sadik be enough.
Dr. Johnson sighed. “You’re right, Your Highness. But a few less calories each day would improve her well-being.” She turned her attention to Cleo. “Your urine sample is fine, as well. No excess sugar. You’re doing great.”
“If getting a little chubby.”
Sadik picked up her hand and kissed her palm. “You remain, as ever, a goddess.”
“I wish my husband said that to me,” Dr. Johnson muttered, then grinned. “Guess I should have fallen for a prince, huh?”
Cleo smiled weakly, as she took the paper gown the doctor handed her. She wasn’t sure she would recommend handing one’s heart over to a member of the royal family—it wasn’t a recipe for happiness.
Five minutes later she’d undressed and draped the paper gown over herself. As she climbed back onto the table, Dr. Johnson wheeled the ultrasound machine into place.
Sadik hovered through the routine exam. Dr. Johnson explained about uterus size and baby placement while Sadik fired off several questions. They all listened to the steady beat of the baby’s heart, then the doctor squirted warm gel onto Cleo’s belly in preparation for the ultrasound.
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