The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(17) by Susan Mallery
Emma slowed her breathing and tried to calm down. She was shaking and not just because she was mad. She was shaking in reaction to what had happened when Reyhan had kissed her. She’d wanted him. Funny how she’d started to worry that there was something wrong with her because none of the guys she went out with had made her want to get naked and do the wild thing. Just her luck that the first one to push all her buttons was an arrogant prince who just happened to be a man trying to get her out of his life as quickly as possible.
“I don’t think I can handle any more,” she said quietly as she stepped out onto the balcony. “By the time I get home, I’m going to need a serious vacation.”
She crossed to the railing and glanced down into the beautiful gardens. The peaceful setting began to ease her tension and she felt herself relaxing. After a time, she heard voices and searched until she found a couple walking into the gardens.
Even from two stories above, she recognized Cleo. The tall, handsome man at her side must be her husband. Emma couldn’t make out the words, but she heard the affection in their voices. Sadik turned to his wife and held out his arms. Cleo willingly stepped into his embrace and they kissed.
Not wanting to intrude on an obviously private moment, Emma stepped back and returned to her suite. Alone in the silence, she paced the length of the living room as she tried to figure out what happened next.
Should she say anything to Reyhan? To the king? Could she just leave?
The musical chimes of a grandfather clock caught her attention. She stared at the face and calculated the time difference with Texas, then crossed to the telephone and pressed zero, hoping to get an operator. Less than a minute later, she heard her mother’s voice on the phone.
“Emma! How lovely to hear from you. Where are you, darling? George, it’s Emma.
Pick up the other phone.”
Emma waited until she heard her father’s familiar “Hello, kitten,” before sighing in relief. The tension fled her body and for the first time in three days she knew everything was going to be all right.
“Are you enjoying your vacation?” her mother asked. “I’ve heard spring in San Francisco is very beautiful. Are you getting a lot of fog?”
Emma winced as she remembered the lie she’d told her parents. Alex from the State Department had made the suggestion and she’d gone along. Now she wondered if the original idea had been Reyhan’s.
“I’m not in San Francisco,” she told them.
“What?” Her father’s voice turned worried. “Was there a problem with the plane? Do you need us to come and get you?”
“No. I’m fine. I’m in Bahania.”
“The Bahamas?” her mother asked.
“No. Bahania. It’s next to El Bahar. In the Middle East. I’m here because of Reyhan.”
Her mother gasped. “I knew that horrible man wouldn’t stay gone. Oh, George, he kidnapped her. We have to call the police. They’ll know what to do.”
“Now, Janice. Don’t jump to conclusions. Kitten, are you all right? Did he hurt you?”
“No, Daddy. Reyhan has been very polite.” She had no intention of mentioning the kiss they’d just shared. “Why did you say you didn’t think he wouldn’t stay away, Mom? You told me he never bothered to come see me.”
There was a long silence. Finally her father spoke. “He might have stopped by a time or two.”
Deep in her heart Emma wasn’t surprised. Her parents loved her and wanted to protect her from everything. That would include what they saw as a dangerous man intent on using their daughter. The problem with them admitting guilt in one area was that now she had to doubt them about everything, involving her pseudomarriage and the time following it.
“Just come home,” her mother pleaded. “Emma, you don’t belong there with those people. We’ll come get you if you like. Wouldn’t that be nice? Then we could all go to Galveston together. I’ll bet that nice house we used to rent is available.
It’s not too close to summer. I could call and check and we could—”
“Mom, no. I’m not coming home just yet and I don’t want you to come get me. I’m fine. I’m just…” How to explain what she was doing?
“That man is going to bewitch you,” her mother said. “Just like he did before.
It’s not right. He should be in jail.”
“For what?” Emma asked. “He married me and provided for me.” Sadness overwhelmed her. Sadness for what had happened and what she’d believed. Sadness that her parents couldn’t have believed in her enough to tell the truth.
“He abandoned you,” her father pointed out. “What kind of man does that? He tried to turn your head, the way he’s doing now.”
“Emma, you’ve never been strong enough to take care of yourself,” her mother said, her voice pleading. “You can see that, can’t you? Oh, darling, come home.
You belong here, with us.”
Emma ignored the pleas and the claims. She’d been plenty strong—she should know.
Her independence had been hard-won.
“He didn’t abandon me, Daddy,” she said. “He came to see me every day. He called when he was in Bahania for his aunt’s funeral, and as soon as he got back to Texas, he practically camped out in front of the house, didn’t he?”
“Is that what he told you?”
“Yes. Is he lying?”
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