The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(7) by Susan Mallery
“In the flesh.” Cleo leaned close. “I’m from Spokane, Washington. That’s right by Idaho. I know—not exactly the birthplace of a lot of royals. I had a ton to learn—protocol and how to address everyone. I’ve gotten involved with some charity work, which is pretty cool, and I have a new baby. Calah.” Cleo’s expression softened. “She’s a dream. Just three months old.”
Emma wanted to ask for note cards so she could write all this down and try to keep everyone and everything straight.
Reyhan, a Bahanian prince? Was it possible? And if he was, why had he married her?
“Do you know—” Emma cleared her throat. “There was a wedding a few years back. I thought maybe…My parents hired a lawyer and he thought it wasn’t exactly real.”
Cleo patted her arm. “Sorry. From what I’ve heard, it was plenty real. You’re well and truly hitched to Reyhan. And he’s just like his brother. All stuffy with an ‘I’m the prince’ attitude. That reverence and respect stuff. Oh, please.
Okay, I’ll do the respect thing, but reverence? It is so not going to happen.”
So she was married. To a prince. Her.
“None of this makes sense,” she whispered. “I don’t understand.”
Why had Reyhan done any of it? Why had he married her and disappeared from her life? And why, all of a sudden, did he pick now to get in touch with her? Did he want to marry someone else? The thought of it gave her an odd squeeze in her empty stomach, but still she had to know.
“Is he engaged?” she asked.
Cleo shook her head. “It’s not like that. After Calah was born, the king decided it was time for Reyhan to tie the knot and give him more grandchildren. That’s when he had to fess up about his relationship with you. That there was already a Mrs. Reyhan floating around.”
Emma felt the room begin to fold around the edges. She had a feeling that if she’d been standing, she would have fallen again.
Cleo grabbed her hand. “Keep breathing,” she instructed humorously. “I’m supposed to be making things better, not worse.”
“It’s not you,” Emma told her. “It’s everything. I can’t believe what’s happening.”
“Hardly a surprise. The good news is, the palace is beautiful and Reyhan is pretty easy on the eyes, too. If you can get past all that honor and tradition, he has a wicked sense of humor. Won’t that be nice?”
Nice? As in Emma would enjoy spending time with him? Was that the plan?
She shook her head. This wasn’t happening, she told herself. None of it.
A tall man carrying a black case entered the room. Cleo waved a greeting.
“Dr. Johnson. You’re still making house calls.”
The older man smiled. “Yes, Princess Cleo. As I will continue to do.”
Cleo leaned close to Emma. “Dr. Johnson is on call for the royal family. He’s pretty cool. You’ll like him.”
Emma stared into the man’s warm blue eyes and felt some of her anxiety fade.
He sat on the coffee table in front of her and reached for her hand. “How are you feeling? I heard you fainted.”
“I don’t know what happened,” she admitted. “One second everything was fine, and the next, I was falling.”
“Prince Reyhan filled me in on what occurred.” He released her wrist. “Your pulse is normal. Have you blacked out since regaining consciousness?”
He glanced at Cleo. “Is she speaking coherently?”
“Yup. She’s a little shell-shocked, but under the circumstances, who can blame her?”
Dr. Johnson made a noncommittal noise, then pulled out a stethoscope.
Fifteen minutes later he pronounced Emma exhausted, a little dehydrated, but otherwise fit. After giving her something to help her sleep, he said he would check on her the next day.
“Everything will be better in the morning,” he promised as he left.
Emma watched him go, then nodded as Cleo excused herself to return to her baby.
When Emma was finally alone, she stared around at the luxurious suite and the view of the ocean in the distance.
As much as she would like to believe Dr. Johnson, she had a feeling that the passage of night wasn’t going to change one thing about her situation.
Reyhan did not want to speak with his father, but the request had been worded such that he’d known he didn’t have a choice in the matter. So he’d appeared on time in the king’s private rooms and now paced the length of the salon, all the while stepping to avoid the half-dozen or so cats milling around.
“What do you think now that you’ve seen her?” his father asked.
“That Emma should not have been brought here. A divorce could have been arranged without her presence.”
“You defied me by marrying this young woman. Six years have passed, and you never mentioned her or spent time with her. I want to know why.”
Reyhan had no answers to the questions, nor did he want to make up any. Thinking about Emma, being with her…He reached the window and stared out at the garden below. Seeing her again—it had been worse than he’d imagined.
His father stood and crossed the room to stand next to him. “You are my son and a prince,” he said. “As such, you were not permitted to take a wife without my permission. Now it is done. Before I approve your divorce, I will get to know this young woman. Two weeks, Reyhan. Surely that is not too much to ask.”
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