The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(59) by Susan Mallery
Sadik paused in the act of typing in a transfer order. The cursor blinked at the tail end of a multimillion-dollar entry. His fingers hovered over the keys, but something had distracted him.
He raised his head, wondering if he had heard an unfamiliar sound. No. It wasn’t that. He tried to shake off the feeling of something being wrong and return to his work, but he could not. He finished typing the number, hit Enter, then saved his work and exited the computer program.
After rising, he crossed to the window and stared out. No unexpected storm darkened the horizon, yet he couldn’t shake the feel of tension in the air.
Something was different…and very wrong.
He left immediately for the private wing of the palace, but even before he entered their suite, he knew she was gone. Even so, he crossed the living room and headed for the bedroom. Most of her clothes hung in the closet, but a few casual pieces were gone, as were her cosmetics. He checked the nightstand by the bed and saw that her vitamins were missing, as well.
Cursing under his breath, he hurried toward his father’s office. Was it too late? No, he told himself. Wherever she had gone, he would find her. He had to find her. The pace of his heart picked up the rhythm of the words—he had to find her.
He entered the king’s office without knocking. One of the guards took a step forward, and a secretary rose to his feet, but Sadik ignored both of them. He headed directly for the double doors and entered without knocking.
King Hassan sat behind his desk. He didn’t seem surprised to see his son, and waved off both the guard and the secretary before motioning for Sadik to take a seat.
Sadik dismissed the invitation with a shake of his head. He approached the desk and placed both hands on the broad surface.
“You told her she could leave.”
He spoke the statement rather than ask the question. His father met his angry gaze with a steady look.
“Yes, I did.”
Sadik curled one hand into a fist and pounded it on the desk. “You had no right.
She is my wife.”
Hassan rose and glared. “Her heart is broken. I would not watch her fade away from unhappiness. You did not recognize the treasure you possessed, so now you have lost her.”
No! It could not be so. Sadik sucked in a breath, but the act took great effort.
Perhaps because there was suddenly a gaping hole in his chest.
“She was content. She loves me. She told me herself.”
Just three days before. He remembered the moment with perfect clarity. For the first time since he had found out about the baby, he had been sure that Cleo was not going to bolt. In the act of confessing her love, she had freed him to relax. If she loved him, she would stay. They would always be together. Women who loved were happy. It had always been so.
“Apparently loving you is not enough,” Hassan said angrily. “She expected more, as did I.”
Sadik frowned. “What more would you expect? I have been a faithful and caring husband. She wants for nothing. I attend to her every morning, I have learned all I can about her pregnancy and the upcoming birth.”
His father slowly shook his head. “You have not learned the most important lesson. I thought you would. I knew what you went through after Kamra’s death, and I know what you vowed. But you are wrong, Sadik. You have always been wrong.
Not loving someone does not keep you safe—it merely keeps you alone.”
He resumed his seat. “I will do nothing to help you. Cleo is leaving. After the birth of my grandson, we will fly to see her and the baby. Only then will we discuss what is to happen.” His father’s gaze narrowed. “My intent is not to keep you from your son. However, Cleo needs time. I forbid you to follow her.”
Sadik left without responding. His own father had turned against him. And Cleo had run from him. He took a step, then another, only to stop when he felt a sharp, angry pain in his chest. He could not breathe, could not think, he could only endure the hollow emptiness filling him.
The sensation was faintly familiar. He searched his memory and recalled that he had felt it when he had lost Kamra. But that pain had been a pinprick compared with the open wound he experienced at the loss of Cleo. It was as if he’d been ripped in two. How could there be a world without her? How could he survive? She was both sunlight and moonlight in his ever-dark sky. She had accused him of only caring about the baby, but she had been wrong. The child was an unexpected gift—she was his everything.
He forced himself to keep walking. Memories flashed through his brain, each more accusing than the last. How he had taken her affection and her love for granted.
How he had never told her what she desperately needed to hear. He’d been so sure he could avoid pain by not admitting his feelings, but the words did nothing to change how he felt inside.
He breathed her name. The act of speaking it aloud gave him strength. He knew what he had to do.
He ran through the corridors of the palace. The shortest path to the garage led through the public areas, and he raced through a tour in progress. He heard the surprised tour guide identifying him to the tourists, and the whirring clicks of dozens of cameras snapping his picture.
Once in the rear of the palace, he hurried into the garage and got behind the wheel of his fastest car. There was not much time. Cleo would be leaving on the family jet, so he couldn’t count on an airline delay to keep her in Bahania.
He raced down the circular drive that led into the city. A flash in his rearview mirror caught his attention. Guards in pursuit!
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