The Sheik and the Bride Who Said No(Desert Rogues, Book 9)(4) by Susan Mallery
“Myself? Nothing.” Murat returned what she assumed was a security device to his jacket pocket, then adjusted his cuffs. “The guards are another story.”
Daphne glared at him. “What? You’re arresting me because I wouldn’t let you marry my niece?”
“I’m holding you in protective custody for interfering with the private business of the Crown Prince of Bahania.”
She narrowed her gaze. “This is crazy. You can’t do this to me.”
“All evidence to the contrary.”
She tried to squirm away from the guards, but they didn’t let her go.
“You’d better not try to turn that plane around,” she said, her fury growing. “I won’t let you touch her. Not for a second.”
Murat crossed toward the door, then paused and glanced at her. “Make no mistake, Daphne. One way or another, there will be a wedding in four months, and the bride will be a Snowden. There is nothing you can do to stop me.”
“Want to bet?” she asked, knowing the words were as futile as her attempt to twist free of the guards.
“Of course. I have no fear of wagering with you.” He smiled again. “What will you give me when I win?”
She lunged for him and only got a sharp pain in her arm for her reward. Murat chuckled as he walked away.
“When I get my hands on him,” she said. “I swear I’ll…” She pressed her lips together. On second thought, threatening the prince while still in the presence of several burly guards wasn’t exactly smart.
“Where are you taking me?” she asked when the guards continued to just stand here, holding her in place.
The one by the door touched an earpiece, then nodded.
“What? Getting instructions from the crown prince himself?” she asked. “Couldn’t he have told you while he was still in the room?”
Apparently not, she realized as the guards started moving. The two holding on to her kept their grips firm enough that she didn’t want to risk pulling away. She had a feeling she was already going to be plenty bruised by her experience.
The group of guards, with her in the center, walked down the main corridor, then stopped at a bank of elevators. The one in communication with Murat pushed the down button. When the car arrived, it was a tight fit, but they all made it inside. Daphne noticed how none of the men stood too close to her. In fact, except for the hold on her arms, they were pretty much ignoring her.
She tried to remember the layout of the palace so she could figure out where they were going. Down wasn’t her idea of a happy thought. Were there still dungeons in the palace? She wouldn’t put it past Murat to lock her up.
But when they stepped out of the elevator and headed along a more narrow corridor, Daphne suddenly realized their destination. It was much worse than any dungeon.
“You’re not taking me there,” she said, wiggling and twisting to escape.
The guard on her left tightened his grip on her arm. “Ma’am, we don’t want to hurt you.”
The implication being they would if necessary.
I’ll get him for this, she thought as she stopped fighting. One way or another, Murat would pay.
They turned a corner, and Daphne saw the famous gold double doors. They stood nearly ten feet tall and were heavily embossed with a scene of several young women frolicking at an oasis.
One of the guards stepped forward and opened the door on the left. The rest marched her inside.
When the men released her, she thought briefly about making a dash for freedom but knew she would be caught and returned here. So she accepted her fate with dignity and a vow that she would find her way out as soon as she could.
The guards left. She heard the heavy clang as the doors closed behind them and the thunk of the gold cross bar being locked into place. Low conversation from the hallway told her that someone would be left on duty to watch over her.
“This is just like you, Murat,” she said as she placed her hands on her hips.
“You might be an imperial, piggish prince, but I can stand it. I can stand anything to keep you from marrying Brittany.”
Daphne looked for something to throw, but the thick, cream-colored walls were completely bare. The only decoration was the brightly colored tile floor.
She moved through the arched entryway, into the large open living area. Dozens of chairs and sofas filled the vast space. The doorway to the left led to the baths, the one on the right led to the sleeping rooms. She recognized this part of the palace from her explorations ten years before. Recognized and fumed because of it.
Dammit all, if Murat hadn’t locked her in the harem.
Murat stalked toward the business wing of the palace. Fury quickened his steps.
After all this time Daphne Snowden had dared to return to Bahania, only to once again disrupt his world.
Had she come modestly, begging his apology for her unforgivable acts? Of course not. He swore silently. The woman had stared him in the eye, speaking as if they were equals. She had defied him.
Murat swept past the guards outside his father’s business suite and stepped into the inner office.
“She is here,” he announced as he came to a stop in front of the large, carved desk.
The king raised his eyebrows. “You do not sound happy. Has your fiancée displeased you already?”
“She is not my fiancée.”
His father sighed, then stood and walked around the desk. “Murat, I know you have reservations about this engagement. You complain that the girl is too young and inexperienced, that she can never be happy here, but once again I ask you to give her a chance.”
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