The Sheik and the Princess Bride(Desert Rogues, Book 8)(36) by Susan Mallery
With her eyes closed, she did her best to keep breathing.
“Pretty close,” she admitted.
“Billie, you have to believe me. I did not plan for any of this to happen. Not you and what we did last night and certainly not that scene today. I would never hurt you.”
She drew in a deep breath and wiped her face before turning to face him. Her stomach flinched when she realized he was still gorgeous. Turning into scum hadn’t affected his looks.
“Imagine what you could do if you tried,” she said, doing her best to hold the tears at bay and keep her voice steady. “With a little effort, you could do a serious number on my heart.”
He reached out to touch her, but she stepped back. “Don’t do that,” she said.
“You are right. I apologize.”
She nodded stiffly. “So what exactly is the purpose of this visit?”
“Are you or are you not engaged?”
“The situation is more complex than that.”
“Funny, because from where I stand, it seems fairly simple. Just answer the question.”
He shoved his hands into his front pockets. “I am Prince Jefri of Bahania.”
“I already know that, but thanks for sharing.”
His steady gaze locked on her face. “My father expects me to produce heirs.
After my disastrous first marriage, I decided that I was not the best judge of who I should claim as my wife, so I agreed to let my father arrange a match.”
Billie heard the words but had a heck of a time believing them. “You’re willing to marry someone you’ve never met?”
He shrugged. “At the time it seemed a simple solution to a problem I did not want to deal with.”
“We’re talking about your entire life. This is the woman you’ll grow old with.
She’ll be the mother of your children.”
“Exactly.” His dark eyes narrowed. “I wanted the right woman to give me strong sons and daughters. My father would be able to learn about her family, her education. What she would be like as a mother.”
Billie thought about pointing out Jefri could do the same if he would simply invest a little time.
“Let me see if I get this straight. The king wanted you to marry and you told him that if it was so important, he could take care of finding you the bride himself.”
“That’s insane. What if you hate her?”
“My father would ensure compatibility. The point is a few weeks ago my father mentioned he’d found me a bride. I told him I did not want any arrangements made. I assumed the matter was closed. But I was wrong.”
Billie stared at him. “If you’re lying…”
“I give you my word. I did not know about Tahira yesterday.”
She supposed that was something. At least he wasn’t a complete bastard. “And now?”
He hesitated long enough to make her furious.
“What?” she demanded. “Are you engaged or not?”
“As I said, the situation is complicated.”
“Tahira herself. She was raised in a particular way.”
“What? By wolves?”
Billie took a step back. “Are you telling me this girl is fresh from the convent?”
“Great. Let me guess the rest. She has no family, nowhere to go and golly, she’s been trained to be the perfect princess.”
He sighed. “Why do I know your understanding is not a good thing?”
“Because you’re not always an idiot. So what exactly makes her the perfect princess?” Billie couldn’t remember anything about the girl. Just that she’d been painfully young.
“She is all I requested.”
Not sure she wanted to hear this, she still insisted, “Give me specifics.”
“I requested a wife who was reasonably attractive with a docile temperament and a fondness for children.”
She blinked. “What? You asked for that? This is a marriage, not eBay. You can’t just place an order and then wait for the future princess to be delivered.”
Billie wished she was big enough to slap him and have it hurt. Worse, she hated the sudden need to smash in his perfect face, but she couldn’t seem to shake it, either. She thought briefly about her high-heeled sandal, but didn’t think she was strong enough to actually pierce stupid, male flesh with the heel.
“I do not expect to love her,” Jefri said as if that explained everything. “Ours would be a marriage of convenience.”
“Tell me about it. A marriage in the tradition of all great misogynistic monarchies. I’m sure you’ll enjoy sleeping with your reasonably attractive, docile wife and that together you’ll produce reasonably attractive, docile children.”
“You do not understand.”
“I understand perfectly. That’s not a marriage and it’s sure as hell no way to live a life. If that’s what you want, you’re not the man I thought.”
She clung to that revelation and hoped it would be enough to help her get over him. Gathering her tattered dignity, she headed for the exit.
Unfortunately Jefri wasn’t going to allow her a clean getaway. Instead he followed, keeping up with her easily.
“You are angry,” he said.
“Thanks for the news flash.”
“In time you will understand.”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online