The Sheik and the Bride Who Said No(Desert Rogues, Book 9)(30) by Susan Mallery
She was also, she realized, starving and in bed. The thing was, she didn’t remember going to bed. She didn’t remember much of anything except…
The horses. She’d been riding. She’d been angry at Murat and she’d gone on ahead, determined not to speak to him again, and then she’d been flying through the air and falling and falling and…
She opened her eyes to find herself back in the bedroom she’d been using in the harem. The walls were familiar, as was the furniture. Lamps illuminated the large space.
She glanced around, relaxing as the rest of her memory returned, only to stiffen when she saw a strange man dozing in a chair next to her bed.
He was big—tall and powerful—-she could tell that even while he slept. But his hair was mussed and dark stubble darkened his jaw.
A quick glance at the clock told her the time was two. The lamplight made her think it was probably two in the morning, and turning her head increased the pounding to the point of being unbearable.
She sagged back against the pillow and studied the man. In a matter of seconds she recognized the shape of his firm jaw and mouth, the breadth of his shoulders.
“Murat?” she whispered.
Was it possible? In all the time she’d known him, both ten years ago and present day, she had never seen him anything but perfectly groomed. Why did he look so mussed, and why did he sleep in a chair beside her bed?
One of his hands lay on the blanket. She reached out and rested her fingers against his palm.
He woke instantly and glanced at her. His eyes widened.
He leaned forward and studied her anxiously. “How do you feel? Your head will hurt—the doctor warned me about that. I have medication for you. And if you’re hungry, you can eat, but only lightly for the first day or so. You are not to get up, either. I know you can be stubborn, but I insist you follow the doctor’s orders. Rest for two days, then you may begin to resume your normal activities through the end of the week. I will not accept any arguments on this matter.”
Despite her aching head, she couldn’t help smiling. “Of course you won’t.
Because this is all about you, right?”
He took her hand in both of his and kissed her fingers. “No. It is about you getting well.”
His tenderness made her want to cry, which only went to show that her head injury had affected her brain.
She squeezed his hand. “How long have I been out?”
“Thirty five hours and—” he glanced at the clock “—eight minutes.”
“Wow. What happened?”
“You were thrown from your horse.”
“I remember that.” She reached up with her free hand and gingerly touched the raised bump on her scalp. “I guess I fell headfirst.”
“You did. I was concerned you had hurt yourself elsewhere, but you are fine. No broken bones, no internal injuries.”
She returned her attention to him, then pulled her hand free and rubbed his cheek. The thick whiskers there grated against her skin.
“You look terrible.”
He smiled. “For a good cause.”
She studied his shirt and pants. “You were wearing those clothes when we went riding.”
“You haven’t showered or shaved since?”
“I wanted to be with you.”
She blinked. “I don’t understand.”
“I have been here, with you, since we returned from the hospital.”
Her head felt as if it might explode, yet she didn’t feel disconnected from the conversation. Which meant she should understand what Murat was saying.
“In that chair?” she asked, trying not to sound incredulous.
“Because you were…”
He kissed her fingers again.
Something warm and bright blossomed in her chest. Murat didn’t have to stay here to watch over her. She was in his palace and completely safe. He could have an entire hospital medical team at his disposal and yet he’d stayed with her himself.
“I don’t know what to say,” she admitted.
“Then do not speak. There is a nurse in the other room. Let me call her to bring you the medication for your headache.”
Her stomach growled.
He smiled again. “And perhaps some soup.”
He rose and crossed to the doorway. As she watched him go, Daphne had to admit that she might have been a little hasty in her judgment of Murat. Sure he acted all in charge and “my way or the highway” but his actions told her something far different and far more important.
He cared about her. When he thought she might be in danger, he stayed by her side. What about his meetings? His princely duties? Had he neglected them all while she’d been out of it?
She relaxed back against the pillow and sighed. She’d been so busy resisting his demands that she’d never taken the time to get to know the man inside. Maybe it was time to change that. Maybe—
The nurse appeared in the doorway. She listened while Murat spoke, nodded and left. Seconds later she reappeared with a small plastic container in her hands.
“Take two,” she said. “I will order the soup.”
Murat carried the medicine over to the bed, then helped Daphne into a sitting position. She felt her head swim, but forced herself to stay upright long enough to swallow the pills. He eased her back onto the bed.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online