The Sheik and the Bride Who Said No(Desert Rogues, Book 9)(31) by Susan Mallery
“You will feel better soon,” he told her.
He resumed his seat and took her hand again. “My father was here for a time. He, too, was worried.”
“That was very nice of him.”
The nurse walked back into the room. “I have ordered a light meal,” she said.
“It will be here in about ten minutes.”
Daphne winced. “I just realized the time. You had to wake someone, didn’t you?”
The nurse, an attractive woman in her late forties, only smiled. “The staff was delighted to hear you are awake, Your Highness. No one minded the late hour.”
“You’re very kind, but—” Daphne froze as her mind replayed the woman’s words.
“I’m sorry. What did you call me?”
The nurse frowned slightly. “Your Highness.” She glanced at Murat. “I was sure that was the right address. Am I incorrect, sir?”
He shook his head. “You did well. Now if you would please go wait for the meal?”
The woman left.
Daphne stared after her. A thousand thoughts bombarded her bruised brain and made it impossible for her to think clearly.
Something was wrong. Very wrong.
“Murat,” she began.
“Do not trouble yourself,” he told her. “All will be well.”
She wasn’t about to be put off. Not now. “She called me Your Highness, and you said that was correct.”
Panic flooded her. She struggled to sit up, but he pressed down on her shoulders.
“You must rest,” he said.
“I must know the truth.” She glared at him, willing herself to be wrong.
Completely and totally wrong. “Why did she call me that?”
He picked up her left hand and fingered the diamond band on her ring finger. A diamond ring she’d never seen before in her life.
“Because you are now my wife.”
Daphne wanted to shriek loudly enough to cause the ancient stone walls to crack. She wanted oceans to rise up, and thunder to shake the heavens. But she knew if she opened her mouth and really let loose, all she would have to show for it was a worsening of her already pounding headache.
Murat was speaking a foreign language, she told herself in an effort to stay calm, or he was the one with the head injury. Except, she knew neither was true and that this was all real, yet how was it possible?
“You married me while I was unconscious?” she demanded in a voice that was perilously close to shrieky.
“You need to stay calm.”
“I need to have you killed,” she said, narrowing her eyes, then wishing she hadn’t when the pain increased. “What is wrong with you? You can’t do that sort of thing. It’s horrible and it’s illegal.”
Murat continued to rub her fingers. When she realized that, she pulled them free.
“In a Bahanian royal marriage, the bride does not have to agree,” he continued.
“She merely has to not disagree.”
“Silence as consent?” she asked, unable to believe this.
“Did anyone notice that I wasn’t in a position to agree or disagree? I was unconscious with a head injury?”
He shrugged. “It was a matter of discussion.”
“That’s it? No one protested?”
Of course not. Because who would? Certainly not Murat and—”Who else was there?”
“The man who officiated and the king.”
“That’s it? No other witnesses?”
He smiled. “The king is enough of a witness.”
She couldn’t believe Murat’s father had been in on this. Her head continued to throb, and now she felt tears burning in her eyes.
Don’t cry, she told herself. Crying would only make her weak, and she had to stay strong, but it was hard. All she wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sob her heart out.
“You can’t do this,” she said.
“It is already done.”
“Then I’ll undo it. I’ll get an annulment or a divorce. I don’t care about the scandal.”
“The king must give his permission for the union of a crown prince to be dissolved.”
Which meant when pigs fly, what with the monarch being in on the sleazy ceremony.
“You’re a lying weasel bastard with the morals of a pack of wild dogs,” she said angrily. “I’ll never forgive you for this. Mark my words. I will find a way out of this.”
He had the nerve to brush her hair off her face. “Rest now, Daphne. You can deal with our marriage in a few days.”
She smacked his hand away. “Don’t touch me. Not ever again. I hate you.”
That got his attention. Murat straightened, then stood and walked to the foot of the bed where he loomed over her.
“You forget yourself.”
“Not even for a second. If I’m your wife—” the word tasted bitter on her tongue “—then I can do as I please.”
“You will still remember your place.”
“Oh, right. That would be as your slave here in the harem. Gee, how exciting.
I’m delighted to be the unimportant plaything of a dictatorial, arrogant, selfish prince.”
He glowered at her.
She didn’t care about anything he might be thinking. And the pill must be kicking in because the pain started to fade.
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