The Sheik and the Bride Who Said No(Desert Rogues, Book 9)(32) by Susan Mallery
She pushed herself into a sitting position and glared back at him with all her considerable fury.
“You are a most frustrating woman,” he said.
“Let me tell you how much I don’t care about your opinion.”
He drew his eyebrows together. “You complain now, but I did this for you.”
“Oh, right. Because I’ve been begging for us to be married.”
“No, because of what happened. You hurt yourself. Someone has to watch over you.”
“You married me to protect me from myself?” She didn’t dare shake her head in disbelief, although she wanted to. “I guess you’re reduced to telling yourself lies so you can sleep at night.”
To think that she’d gotten all soft and gooey inside thinking he actually cared about her, that he’d worried while she’d been out of it. Instead he’d simply been protecting his new toy.
“There is also the fact that we made love,” he said, as if explaining things to a small and slow child. “You were not a virgin.”
What on earth did that have to do with anything? “So?”
“You should have been.”
“You married me to punish me?”
“Of course not.” The glower returned. “You are being most difficult.”
“Gee, I wonder why. So you’re saying you married me because I wasn’t a virgin, but if I had been we would have been flirting with defiling territory, so that wouldn’t have been much better.”
“You are correct. I would have married you if you had been a virgin.”
Talk about being between a rock and a hard place.
The sensation of being trapped sucked the last of her energy. Daphne slid down onto the mattress and closed her eyes.
“You are feeling unwell?” he asked.
She heard him walk closer, then he touched her forehead. “I wish to help.”
She forced herself to open her eyes and stare at him. “Do you think I will ever care about what you want? Get out now. I never want to see you again. Get out.
She screamed as loudly as she could. When Murat still hesitated, she reached for the empty glass on her nightstand and picked it up to use as a weapon.
“I will check on you in the morning.”
He turned and left.
She put down the glass, then curled up in the big bed and closed her eyes. The pain was still with her, but this one had nothing to do with her head injury and everything to do with the loss of her freedom.
She didn’t doubt that Murat had married her and that she was well and truly caught in circumstances that would be difficult to undo. The sense of betrayal hurt more than anything. Her eyes began to burn again, but this time she didn’t fight the tears. She gave in to them, even though she knew they wouldn’t help in the least.
With the aid of the painkillers, Daphne managed to sleep through the night. She saw the doctor the next morning, who told her to stay in bed at least twenty-four more hours and not to return to her normal routine for a few days.
For reasons she didn’t understand but was grateful for, Murat didn’t return to visit her, which meant she was left in solitude, except for the quiet presence of the nurse who brought her meals and stayed out of her way.
On day three, Daphne sent the poor woman away. “I’m fine,” she said after she’d showered and dressed and found that walking wasn’t all that difficult. “You should return to someone who actually needs your help.”
“You’re very kind, Your Highness,” the woman said. “I wish you and the crown prince a long and happy marriage.”
Daphne didn’t know what to say, so she smiled and thanked her again. Obviously, she’d been out of the room when Daphne’d had her screaming fit. No one witnessing that could ever imagine a successful relationship as the outcome.
She still had bouts of weariness and despair, but when they hit, she used her anger to fuel herself. Murat wasn’t going to get away with this. She wasn’t sure what she was going to have to do to get away, but she would find out and make it happen.
After finishing her breakfast, she walked to the gold doors and pulled them open. No guards. No doubt Murat had released them from their duties after the wedding. He no longer had to worry about her escaping. As the queen, she couldn’t go out unaccompanied. No driver would take her. No pilot would leave the country without express permission. She might have the freedom of the palace now, but that simply meant she’d graduated to a larger prison.
She walked through the quiet halls of the palace. As always the beauty of the structure pleased her. She paused to admire a particularly lovely and detailed tapestry of several children in a garden. She recognized the stone wall and the placement of several trees. The scene might be from four hundred years ago, but the garden itself still existed just outside.
The history of Bahania called to her, but she ignored the whispers. There was nothing anyone could say or do to convince her she had to make her peace with what had happened.
She saw several people hurrying from place to place. When she recognized one of the senior staff, she stopped the man and asked after the king. The man led her outside, and Daphne stepped into bright sunshine.
For a second the light hurt her eyes and made her head throb, but she adjusted, then made her way along the stone path. She heard voices before she saw the people, and when she turned the corner, she recognized Cleo, Sadik’s wife, with the king.
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