The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(5) by Susan Mallery
She shifted away from him and pushed herself up into a sitting position. When he took hold of her arm to help her, she shook off his hand.
“I’m fine,” she told him, her tone as icy as she could make it. “What I need from you is information. What is going on? What am I doing here? And while we’re on the subject, what are you doing here?”
Before he could speak, there was a blur of movement, then a long-haired cream-colored cat with nearly violet eyes jumped up on her lap. She stared at it in amazement. Cats in the palace?
Reyhan grabbed the animal and set it back on the floor. The cat glared at him, gave a sniff of disgust and stalked off.
“Are you allergic to cats?” he asked.
“Good. The palace is filled with them. They are my father’s.”
His father? She rubbed her temple and tried to decide if she wanted to ask who his father was. While she would like the information, she was also afraid of it.
Because crazy as it sounded, she had a feeling there was a better-than-even chance that Reyhan was somehow related to the king of Bahania.
Don’t go there, she told herself as Reyhan held out the glass of water again. As she took it from him she found herself caught in his gaze.
She remembered his eyes most of all, she thought. How dark they were. How well they kept secrets. She’d once thought that if she could learn to read his eyes, she would know the man. But their few weeks together had not given them the time to learn very much about each other.
Sadness threatened. She tried to banish it by recalling what Reyhan had done to her—how he’d left and how she’d been alone and so afraid. Better to be angry.
There was energy in anger and she had the feeling she was going to need it.
“I don’t know what this game is,” she told him, “but I’m not going to play. I wish to return home immediately. Please call Alex and have him take me back to the plane.”
“Your escort from the State Department has already left the palace. He will spend the night at one of our most beautiful oceanside hotels, then fly back to your country in the morning.” Reyhan dismissed the man with a flick of his wrist. “You will not see him again.”
Anger faded as fear took its place. Alex was gone? So she was truly alone in the palace? Alone in this country?
Emma didn’t know if she should try to bolt for freedom or bluff her way through.
Her head was still spinning and she didn’t look forward to trying to stand up, so that left bluffing. Something she’d never been very good at.
“What am I doing here?” she demanded. “Why did the king of Bahania ask me to come here for two weeks? And what are you doing here? You can’t have anything to do with what’s going on with me.”
That last bit was more plea than forceful statement.
Reyhan stared at her. His strong, handsome features could have been set in stone—or steel—for all they gave away.
“Haven’t you guessed?” he asked with quiet amusement, as if she were a child who had just performed the alphabet song flawlessly for the first time. “The king is my father, and the invitation is as much mine as his.”
Her mind went blank. Completely and totally. It was like losing the lights during a thunderstorm.
The man next to her rose and squared his shoulders. Then he stared down at her with a haughty expression possibly honed through a lifetime of royal arrogance.
“I am Prince Reyhan, third oldest son of King Hassan of Bahania.”
She blinked. Not possible, she told herself as some semicoherent thought process began in her brain. Not possible, not likely and she refused to believe it.
“A p-prince?” she asked, stumbling over the word.
No. No. No. Emma stared at the man standing in front of her. He couldn’t be. A prince? Him? But they’d met at college. They’d dated. He’d taken her away with him and…hurt her dreadfully.
“The king decided it was time for me to marry,” Reyhan told her. “There was no way I could agree to any match as I was already married. To you.”
He kept on talking, but she wasn’t listening. She couldn’t. A prince? Married?
“But I…” She swallowed and tried again. “That wasn’t real. Not any of it.”
She remembered the quiet of the Caribbean island, the soft breezes, the lap of the ocean outside their hotel room. Reyhan had asked her to go away with him, and she’d agreed because she could refuse him nothing. At eighteen, she’d been more innocent than he’d realized. She’d been too ashamed to tell him she’d never dated before. He’d been her first, in every sense of the word.
Years later, when she’d looked back on the blur of hot days and long, endless nights, she’d comforted herself with the fact that she’d been too swept up in thinking she was in love to refuse Reyhan anything. She would never have considered asking him to go more slowly, to give her time to adjust. As for their marriage—her parents’ lawyer had told her that had been a fake.
For a long time the realization had nearly destroyed her. She’d hated her weakness where he was concerned. Hated that she could still want him, even as he’d used and abandoned her. Time had healed her enough to give her perspective.
Reyhan’s dark eyebrows drew together. “What wasn’t real?”
“Our marriage. You just did that to get me into bed. Or get a green card.”
As soon as she spoke the words, she realized she might have made a mistake.
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