The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(13) by Susan Mallery
“It should be an interesting vacation. At least that’s how I’m trying to look at it.”
“Your one chance to be a princess?”
“Something like that.”
Cleo grinned. “What if you find you like it so much, you want to stay?”
“Not an option. As soon as my two weeks are up, I’m heading back to Dallas.” And her regularly scheduled life. There was nothing for her here in Bahania. She ignored the little voice inside that whispered there wasn’t much for her back in Dallas, either.
Reyhan had hoped the large palace would provide enough room for him to avoid Emma, but he had not taken his father’s need to meddle into account. Now that the king had passed control of much of the day-to-day details of the country on to his sons, he had far too much free time to plan ways to torment them. His newest strategy began with an invitation for both Reyhan and Emma to join him for dinner.
Reyhan studied the casually worded e-mail and knew the phrase “if it’s convenient” was there for show. Should Reyhan protest it was not convenient, his father would change the request to an order. Defying one’s father was easily accomplished. Refusing the king was another matter, especially when Reyhan needed the monarch’s agreement to the divorce.
Which was why he found himself walking toward his father’s private quarters that evening, trying not to think about how he would survive several hours in Emma’s company.
Before she had arrived, he had nearly convinced himself that everything was different. That he no longer had feelings for her, and even if he did, that she was not the same woman. But a few minutes with her had told him that not only did she still have that ultimate power over him, she had somehow retained the gentle sweetness that had first drawn him to her.
When he reached his father’s suite, he squared his shoulders. He was Prince Reyhan of Bahania. Royal, powerful and without weakness. He would survive this meeting and any others. He would endure and in the end, Emma would be out of his life forever.
“My son,” his father said happily as Reyhan walked into the main salon. “How
good to see you.”
“And you, my father.”
The king’s cheer warned Reyhan that his father might have a trick or two coming during the dinner and that he would be wise to stay alert.
He crossed to the wet bar and poured himself a Scotch, then walked to the large sofa facing the French doors leading to the balcony. Only one cat lay on a center cushion. Reyhan avoided it as he sat down.
“Emma should be here shortly,” his father said, stroking the large Persian draped across his lap.
Reyhan had offered to escort her himself, but the king had said he preferred to speak with his son privately first. Now Reyhan waited patiently.
“Your wife is a very pretty young woman,” his father said.
Reyhan nodded. He never thought of Emma as “his wife.” If he had, he would have claimed her, despite her wishes to be as far away from him as possible. He would have wanted to have her, take her, be with her. It had been safer for them both to be on opposite sides of the planet. Literally. He’d forced himself to think of her only on rare occasions, usually at night, when he couldn’t sleep and the sounds of the Arabian Sea had echoed with her soft voice.
“I arranged tonight’s dinner so I could get to know her,” his father said.
Reyhan didn’t like the sound of that. “She will be leaving in a few days.”
“Until then, she is my daughter-in-law. A relationship of some importance.”
Reyhan wasn’t sure if his father meant that or was trying to make trouble. On the king’s side was his close ties with Cleo, Sadik’s wife. She was a favorite and spent much time in the king’s company. If that happened with Emma, as well, his father might not want to agree to the divorce. Reyhan knew he could not stay married. Not to her. Not with his need burning so hotly inside.
Before he could come up with a reason to keep them apart, there was a knock at the main door. He rose, bracing himself for the impact of seeing her again.
“Come in,” the king called.
A young woman pushed opened the door, entered and bowed her head. Emma followed her, pausing uncertainly just past her escort.
Reyhan set down his drink, then crossed to her. As he approached, he took in the emerald-green sheath that clung to her sensual curves, the elegant upswept way she’d styled her dark red hair and the makeup emphasizing her eyes and mouth.
She needed no artifice to make her more beautiful, yet he appreciated the effort…and the results.
Wanting flared, as did heat. He ignored both, concentrating instead on the excitement and apprehension battling in Emma’s green eyes. A tentative smile tugged on the corners of her mouth, as if she wasn’t sure which emotion would win.
When he stopped beside her, he reached for her hand. The second his fingers closed around hers, the ache inside of him increased to unbearable. Still, he dismissed the painful need and settled her small hand in the crook of his arm.
He urged her toward his father, who had put down the cat and risen.
“Father, this is Princess Emma, my wife. Emma, this is King Hassan of Bahania.”
He felt her stiffen at “Princess” and wondered if she’d considered her position here. As long as they were married, she was a member of the royal family.
Bahania was a long way from her life in Texas.
“Enchanted,” the older man said as he took her free hand and lightly kissed the back of it. “Would you like something to drink? Champagne? We should toast the moment.”
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