The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(22) by Susan Mallery
They walked into a huge reception room. The ceilings had to be three stories tall. There were carved poles and an intricately inlaid marble floor.
Floor-to-ceiling beveled windows let in light. A raised stage stood at one end of the incredible room.
“My apartment doesn’t even have a foyer,” she murmured, and wondered again why he’d bothered with her all those years ago. “I was little more than a country mouse.”
She motioned to the gold light fixtures. “I’m going to guess that color isn’t just a really nice paint job. Those are real gold.”
“Yes, but it is of little consequence.”
“Perhaps to you.” She turned in a slow circle.
Reyhan’s leaving her was for the best, she thought sadly. There was no way she could have fit in here then. No way she fit in now.
“Is there another man?” he asked abruptly.
She stared at him. “What? You mean am I seeing anyone?”
“No. I’m not dating anyone right now. I’ve never been very good at the whole boy-girl thing, but you would know that better than anyone.”
Memories crept in of their three nights together after their wedding. How he had taken her over and over and how she’d been unable to be anything but afraid.
Things would be different now, she thought with regret. She was sure she could respond, even hunger for him. But a man intent on getting a divorce was unlikely to be physically interested in the woman he was leaving behind—passionate kisses aside.
“Once you are no longer married, you can change that,” he said.
“As can you.”
But she didn’t want to think about him being with another woman.
“It’s scary to think what could have happened,” she said to distract herself. “I really didn’t know about the marriage being real. If I’d gotten serious about someone and we’d wanted to get married…” Would her parents have told her the truth? She would like to think so, but she was no longer sure about anything.
“I would have been in touch to let you know we were still married.”
“How would you have known?”
He stared at her without speaking, and then realization sank in. “You’ve kept track of me.” It was a statement, not a question. She wasn’t sure if she was pleased or creeped out.
“At first, I received monthly reports,” he told her. “Now, yearly. You are my wife. It is my duty to watch over you.”
As he hadn’t known about her job, the last report must have been sometime last summer, after her graduation but before she’d started work at the hospital.
“If I’d known we were still married, I would have contacted you,” she said. “I mean, being married all these years and being apart doesn’t make any sense.” She realized how that sounded. “Not that I’m suggesting we should have been together.”
“I understand. Divorcing is the most sensible plan.”
Sure. It wasn’t as if she knew anything about Reyhan, save the fact that being within ten feet of him reduced her to a quivering mass.
“I wonder what would have happened if I’d known you’d come back for me,” she said. “Would you have brought me here?”
“Of course. As my wife, your place is at my side.”
“What about my education? I wouldn’t have been able to go to college here.”
“Should we argue about what never was?”
But everything would have been different. They would have had children by now.
She’d always wanted children, she thought wistfully. And with Reyhan as their father, they would be stronger than her. More able to stand up for themselves.
Would she have been able to keep him happy? Would their marriage have flourished or would her youth have worn on his affections?
Had he loved her, even a little? More questions she wouldn’t be asking.
She spoke his name, then paused, not sure what she wanted to say or ask.
He stared at her, his dark eyes narrowing slightly.
“Stop,” he ordered.
Her chest tightened as it became difficult to breathe. Awareness flickered through her body, making her tremble. Her mouth went dry, her fingers tingled and wanting swelled until she thought she would burst.
Then she was in his arms with no way to understand how she’d come to be there.
He held her tightly, possessively and she reveled in belonging to him even for that single moment.
She had less than a heartbeat to anticipate the kiss before he pressed his mouth against hers and claimed her.
She parted instantly, wanting the intimacy, needing to make him desire her. The melting began, in her chest and between her thighs. At the first brush of his tongue against hers, she closed her eyes. At the second, she held in a sigh of contentment. Passion flooded every part of her body, making her squirm to get closer.
She touched his shoulders, his arms, then ran her hands up and down his muscled back. His fingers tangled in her hair. Their tongues stroked and circled and danced before he pulled back slightly and kissed her jaw.
He nibbled his way to her ear where he drew the lobe into his mouth and sucked gently. Her breath caught. He dropped his hands to her hips, then to her fanny where he cupped her curves before pulling her hard against him. As her stomach nestled against him, she felt a bulge.
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