The Sheik and the Bride Who Said No(Desert Rogues, Book 9)(23) by Susan Mallery
Daphne sighed. So Mr. Peterson had decided to simply ignore her claims and move forward.
“Ms. Snowden?” he prodded. “How many family members.”
“Not a clue,” she told him cheerfully.
“Will you be providing me with a guest list of any kind?”
The little man shook his head. “If necessary I can contact your mother.”
“I’m sure you can.” And her mother would be delighted by the question and the chance to influence the wedding.
Wasn’t it enough that Murat insisted on this charade? How far was he willing to take it?
“Excuse me,” she said as she rose to her feet. “I need to put a stop to this right now.”
She walked toward the door and once she got there, she simply pushed it open.
The cross bar wasn’t in place, no doubt so Mr. Peterson could leave when he was finished. There were only two guards on duty and neither of them looked as if they’d expected her to come strolling out of the harem. When they saw her, they glanced at each other, as if uncertain about what to do.
Daphne took advantage of their confusion and started running. She made it halfway down the long hall before she heard footsteps racing after her. Up ahead the elevator beckoned like a beacon of freedom.
“Be there, be there,” she chanted as she ran. She skidded to a stop in front of the doors and pushed the Up button. Thankfully, the doors immediately slid open.
She stepped inside and pressed the button for the second floor and watched as the doors closed in the faces of the guards.
Ha! She’d escaped. Probably not for long, but the feel of freedom was heady.
She exited on the second floor and hurried toward the business wing of the palace. She had a vague recollection of the way from her detailed explorations ten years ago. At a T-intersection, she hesitated, not sure which way to go, then followed a young man in a tailored suit as he turned left.
Seconds later she entered a large, round foyer. A middle-aged man sat at the desk and raised his eyebrows inquiringly.
“Crown Prince Murat,” she said.
“Is he expecting you?”
In the distance she heard running feet. The guards, no doubt. She suspected reinforcements had been called.
“I’m his fiancée,” she said briskly.
The man straightened in his seat. “Yes. Of course, Ms. Snowden. Down that hallway, to your left. There are guards at the door. You can’t miss it. If you’ll give me a moment, I’ll escort you there myself.”
“No need,” she said, taking off in the direction he’d indicated. She saw massive, carved, dark wood double doors and two guards standing on duty. One of them had his fingers pressed to his ear as if he were listening to something.
When he saw her, he spoke quickly.
“I’m going in there,” she said as she hurried toward the doors. “And you can’t stop me.”
The guards stepped forward and actually drew their weapons. A cold blade of fear sliced through her midsection.
“Murat isn’t going to be very happy if you shoot me,” she said, hoping it was true.
The guards moved toward her.
More footsteps thundered from behind, and she was seconds from being trapped.
“Murat!” she screamed as one of the men reached for her.
The huge door on the right opened and Murat stalked out.
“What is going on here?” he demanded. He glanced at the guards, then settled his stern gaze on her. “Release her at once.”
The man did so, and Daphne quickly stepped behind Murat. “I escaped,” she murmured in his ear. “That made them cranky.”
He looked at her and raised one eyebrow. “I see. And Mr. Peterson?”
“We didn’t much get along. All he wanted to talk about was the wedding, and I kept saying there wasn’t going to be one. It wasn’t very pleasant for either of us.”
Murat didn’t respond verbally. Instead he took her by the hand and led her into his office.
“Stay here,” he said as he placed her in the center of an exceptionally beautiful rug. “I will return shortly.”
With that he turned and left. She heard him speaking with the guards.
Daphne glanced around at the large office, noting the beautifully carved desk and the view of the gardens. None of the royal family had offices that faced away from the palace grounds. Years ago Murat had told her it was for security reasons. She’d been afraid for him at the time, but he had smiled and pulled her close and told her not to worry.
She shook off the memory. Murat returned and closed the door behind him.
“You are safe for now,” he said. “I’ll be having an interesting talk with my security team later. They should not have let you escape.”
“Points for me,” she said.
“Interesting that in your moment of freedom, you chose to run here. To me.”
“Don’t read too much into it. I didn’t come here for a good reason.”
“No? Then why?”
“Because I want to talk about the wedding, or lack thereof. You can’t make me do it, Murat.”
He moved close and touched her cheek. She hated how her body instantly went up in flames.
“You enjoy challenging me,” he said. “However, I think the real problem lies elsewhere. You have been cooped up for too long. Go change your clothes, and we’ll take a ride into the desert.”
“And if I don’t want to go?” she asked.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online