The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(9) by Susan Mallery
He set down the paper and looked at her. His dark gaze seemed to see all the way inside to her quivering heart. He raised one eyebrow.
“Are you so afraid of me? I swear that I have never attacked before ten or eleven in the morning. It is not civilized.”
She glanced at the antique grandfather clock by the entryway. “So I’m safe for another ninety minutes?”
He rose and pulled out a chair. Not knowing what else to do, she settled in it then watched as he lifted the tops off several serving dishes on the sideboard.
“What would you like?” he asked.
She blinked at him. “You’re going to serve me?”
“You are my guest. In the interest of privacy I sent the maid away, so there is just the two of us this morning.”
The implication being she was his responsibility? Reyhan had always had the most amazing manners. Apparently that hadn’t changed.
She stood and crossed to the sideboard where she studied the assortment of offerings. There were eggs and bacon, fresh fruit, croissants, Danish and a selection of cereals, both hot and cold.
“I can’t eat all this,” she told him.
“I’ll help.” He motioned to the plates stacked on the left. “Please begin.”
She reached for the plate. As she leaned forward, Reyhan moved and her hand grazed his arm. The instant heat nearly made her stumble. Awareness rippled along her skin like a sudden cool breeze, making her shiver and break out in goose bumps. She found herself wanting to touch him again, wanting to move closer, to have him touch her. Erotic images sprang into her mind, and before she knew what was happening, she realized it was difficult for her to catch her breath.
All of this happened in a matter of seconds. Then she became aware of herself, of Reyhan’s expression of polite interest and she quickly stepped back and turned toward the food.
This was not good, she thought frantically. Not good at all. She didn’t like how her heart raced whenever he was nearby. That hadn’t happened before. If anything, he’d terrified her as much as he’d intrigued her. Not that she was any less terrified, it was just now she was frightened for a different reason.
She scooped fresh fruit onto her plate, along with some eggs. After taking a biscuit and butter, she returned to the table and poured them each coffee.
Reyhan waited until she was seated before claiming his chair.
“You slept well?” he asked.
“Yes, thank you.”
“Dr. Johnson said that your fainting was not likely to reoccur. He decided it was the combination of lack of food and sleep, along with minor dehydration and the shock of seeing me again.” Reyhan’s steady gaze never left her face. “Had I known you would react so strongly, I would have given you some warning. Stunning you into fainting wasn’t my goal.”
“Imagine what you could do if it was,” she said lightly.
She noticed his single raised eyebrow again, but Emma refused to be intimidated, despite the instinct to cringe and apologize. She turned her attention to her breakfast instead and plunged her fork into a piece of mango. Sexual awareness swirled through the room like an erotic mist, but she was determined to ignore it.
Maybe she always had reacted so strongly to Reyhan but wasn’t aware of it, she thought wryly. Maybe when they’d first met there had been this same powerful physical attraction between them but she’d been too young and innocent to recognize it. All she’d known back then was that she loved him and feared him with equal intensity. It was amazing she’d managed to find the strength to leave him.
Then she reminded herself that she hadn’t left him. He’d left her and she’d hid out at her parents’ home. Any additional contact had been through them. She hadn’t even had the courage to tell him she didn’t want to see him again. Not that he’d tried very hard.
“Why the heavy sigh?” he asked.
She looked up. “Did I sigh? I didn’t mean to.”
“You were thinking of the past.”
“It’s a logical place to go.”
He nodded. “We will speak of it.”
A statement or a command? “And if I don’t want to?”
The words were out before she could stop them.
His mouth curved up in amusement. “You defy me?”
“Will that get me fifty lashes or time in the tower?”
“Nothing so boring.” He sipped his coffee. “Why do you not wish to talk about our situation?”
“I do.” She shrugged. “Knee-jerk reaction, I guess. My parents were always so
protective. They meant well—they still do. My independence is hard-won and I get my back up when someone gives me orders.”
She had no idea what the silken words meant, nor did she want to ask for an explanation. She doubted whatever contact Reyhan had had with her parents had been especially pleasant.
“You’re right,” she said. “We need to talk about what happened and what’s going to happen.”
He nodded slightly. “If you wish.”
“You’re mocking me.”
“I am terrified by your steely will.”
Emma doubted anything terrified Reyhan. Which meant he was teasing her.
Interesting. She wouldn’t have thought royal princes had senses of humor.
“Do you believe our marriage was real?” he asked.
“I don’t want to, but, yes. You have no reason to lie, and my presence here is more than enough proof.” She shifted in her seat. She’d been married for six years and hadn’t known. Talk about being a fool.
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