The Sheik and the Bride Who Said No(Desert Rogues, Book 9)(29) by Susan Mallery
Daphne lay on the rocky ground, her legs bent beneath her, her arm thrown over her face.
He lowered it gently, then sucked in a breath as he saw her still, pale face and the pool of blood on the ground.
“No,” he said to whomever would listen. “You will be fine. You must be fine.”
But she did not respond, and when he touched her cheek, her skin felt cold.
Pain filled him, and fury. That such a simple mistake could cause so much damage. Then he shook off all emotion and quickly went to work examining her.
The only external bleeding came from her head and it had already begun to slow.
He could not assess internal injuries but her pulse was steady and strong. If only she would awaken and start yelling at him again. If only…
The distant sound of a helicopter cut through the silence of the desert. Murat rose and waved it in, shielding her with his body when the blades kicked up dust and sand.
“She is injured,” he yelled to his men. “I cannot tell how badly. We’ll have to be careful of her neck and spine.”
He waited until the men brought out the emergency equipment and went to work securing her before calling the stable and telling them about his horse and hers. His stallion was trained not to wander far, but her mount could be halfway to El Bahar by now.
When she had been carried into the helicopter, he joined her and took her hand in his.
“I command you to be healed,” he murmured, his face close to hers, his breath stirring her hair. “I am Crown Prince Murat, and I command that you open your eyes and speak to me right now.”
Nothing happened. Murat swallowed hard, then pressed his lips to her cheek.
Murat paced the length of the main room in the harem. In the bedroom his personal physician recon-firmed what the doctors at the emergency room had told him. Murat tried to find a measure of peace in the knowledge that there were no internal injuries, no broken bones.
“She was very lucky,” his father said from his place on the sofa. “I never thought of Daphne as a foolish young woman. To go riding off like that. You must have annoyed her.”
Murat continued to watch the bedroom door. “I do so on a regular basis. It is one of my great talents.” Only this time it had had too great a price.
Never again, he thought. He would not permit her to act so hastily. Left on her own, she could seriously hurt herself.
“I will stay while the doctor examines her if you wish to shower and change,”
the king said.
“No,” Murat said immediately, then drew in a breath. “Thank you, Father, but I will stay. She is my fiancée, my responsibility.”
He doubted the king saw much, and nothing of consequence. This was Daphne. She could not be permitted to die.
At last his doctor appeared. The older man smiled.
“Good news,” he said as he crossed to Murat. “It is as the other doctors told you. She has a mild concussion and some slight trauma to the brain. She will stay unconscious for a few hours, maybe a day. Then she should awaken and begin the recovery process. Within a week she will be as good as new.”
“Is she in pain?” he asked.
“Not now, but when she wakes she will have a bad headache. I’ve left some medication to help with that. Once she’s awake, keep her in bed for a couple of days, then she should take it easy for the rest of the week. I, of course, will be back in the morning and each day until she is fit again.”
Murat nodded. “Thank you.”
The doctor touched his arm. “Your fiancée will live to give you many healthy children, Your Highness. Fear not.”
Murat heard the words, but he could not let the fear go. Not until she opened her eyes and started calling him names again.
He concluded his business with the doctor, wrote down the rest of the instructions, then hurried into the bedroom. Daphne lay in the center of the bed, hooked up to several monitors. A nurse sat in the corner. The king followed.
When Murat nodded at the nurse, she stood and quickly retreated to the living room.
“Daphne will be fine,” his father said. “You heard the doctor. A nurse will be here twenty-four hours a day until she wakes up.”
“No.” Murat moved closer to the bed and reached for Daphne’s hand. “I will be here. The nurse can wait in the living room in case there is an emergency. But until she wakes, I will tend to her.”
He glared at his father. “No one but me.”
The king nodded slowly. “As you wish.”
There was only one wish, Murat thought grimly. That Daphne open her eyes.
Now, he willed her. Look at me now. But she slept on, unaware of his command.
Even in illness she defied him. Pray God she lived to defy him another day.
Daphne felt as if someone was banging on her head with a frying pan. She remembered a frat party she’d gone to years ago while she’d been in college. She generally avoided loud parties with alcohol, but fresh from her broken engagement, she felt the need to participate in something fun and mind numbing.
So she’d gone with a couple of girlfriends and had stayed up way too late and had had too much spiked punch. In the morning she’d found herself with the mother of all hangovers and had basically wanted to die.
This was worse.
She struggled through what felt like miles of thick, sticky water, before finally surfacing. She felt bruised and sore everywhere, but it was her head that got her attention the most. Even her eyebrows hurt.
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