The Prince and the Pregnant Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 6)(61) by Susan Mallery
“Any chance you’d let him go?”
The guard stunned her by nodding and stepping back. Instantly Sadik was free.
“I did that?” she asked.
Sadik stepped away from the guards and straightened his suit jacket. “Apparently my father gave them orders to follow your instructions. I am grateful you did not ask to have me shot.” He took her hand in his and led her toward the terminal. “If you will permit me a few minutes of your time before you leave?”
She was still too amazed by what had happened with the guards to protest. It was only when she found herself in a small, private room that she realized Sadik was going to try to convince her to stay. She sighed. When would he figure out that all the sensible words in the world weren’t going to work on her? When would he see that—
“You are alive,” he breathed, pulling her close. “I thought I had lost you, both when you left and then again when I saw that car on the side of the road. I could not have lived without you.”
He wasn’t making any sense. She wiggled to get free of his embrace. “Sadik, what are you talking about?”
He cupped her face and rained kisses on her skin. Once his lips brushed hers, it was darned hard to maintain emotional distance. She forced herself to push him away.
“I’m not falling for that again,” she told him, taking a step back.
“You do not understand.” He grabbed her upper arms. “I thought you were dead. I thought it had happened to me again. Only this time the horror was greater, so much greater because once you were gone, I knew that I would have lost the most precious part of myself.”
She resisted the urge to shake her head. “You’re not making any sense. Gone where? On the plane?”
He kissed her. She tried to stop him and then, well, she stopped trying. Because as much as she knew she had to leave Sadik, she didn’t want to go.
“I have hidden the truth,” he murmured against her mouth. “I thought if I did not confess it, even to myself, that it could never hurt me. I refused to say how I felt about you. And by not acknowledging my feelings, I planned to keep you at arm’s length.”
His dark eyes brightened with emotion. “Losing Kamra pained me. The discomfort was an inconvenience. Losing you would destroy me, Cleo. You are my world. So I pretended not to care. Because if I did not care and you went away, I should not mind.”
She swallowed hard. “Sadik?”
He stroked her hair away from her face. “I love you, Cleo. I cannot exist without you. This isn’t about our child—it is about you. Only you. From the beginning you have entranced me. Those first few passionate days together changed me forever. But I was determined to resist. I would not be ruled by a mere woman.”
She heard the words and desperately wanted to believe them. Mostly because she didn’t have a choice. “So that’s why you didn’t call or try to get in touch with me when I went back to Spokane? Because I was a mere woman.”
He smiled slightly. “I had something to prove to myself.”
“And did you?”
“No. Spending all my time trying not to think of you is exactly the same as thinking of you all the time. I knew you would return for the wedding, so I vowed to wait. I was also determined to have you.” He kissed her palms. “In my bed and in my life.”
She leaned against him and let his healing words wash over her. “Can you really let Kamra go?”
He sighed. “She has been gone a long time. I used her as a talisman to hold you at bay. The truth, my love, is that she was an arranged match. We came to some agreement between us. There was mild affection, but to compare my feelings for her with my feelings for you is to compare a glass of water with the ocean. I love you.”
She flung her arms around him, burrowing close. It was something of a trick, what with her stomach in the way.
“Please stay,” he begged.
She closed her eyes, as much to hold in the joy of the moment as to try to compose herself.
“I will love you forever,” he promised. “I will prove myself to you every day. I swear on my honor, you are the most important person in the world to me. You belong here, with me. Please, Cleo.”
She could not stand to see her handsome prince brought to his knees. She kissed his mouth.
“I will stay,” she told him, her heart filled with happiness. “And I will love you…one year for each grain of sand in the Bahanian desert.”
Tired but happy, Cleo held her newborn daughter to her chest.
“You see,” Sadik said, ever the proud papa as he strutted through the enormous private room in the hospital. “A girl. I said as much from the beginning, and I am always right.”
Cleo looked at Sabrina and Zara. All three women rolled their eyes.
“You said it was a boy,” Cleo reminded her husband, even as she nearly floated from happiness. “I was the one who kept saying our baby might be a girl.”
“No. You do not remember the sequence of events.” He moved to the side of the bed and touched his daughter’s cheek. “She is lovely. Just like her mother.”
Despite the lingering discomfort from the delivery, Cleo couldn’t remember a more perfect moment in her life. After years of never fitting in—of always being on the outside—she’d finally found a place to belong. Who would have thought that would happen in a palace?
It was all because of Sadik. Not a day went by without him confessing his love a dozen times. He could not be more attentive or affectionate or loving. At times he was still the arrogant prince, but Cleo found that part of him kind of growing on her. Princes were not always easy to be married to, but there were plenty of rewards.
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