The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(26) by Susan Mallery
“You are my wife.”
She shook her head. “I suppose technically, although not really.”
“Legally you are.”
“Okay. I guess. But you want a divorce.”
“And after the divorce, do you think you’ll leave with nothing?”
Emma’s green eyes widened in surprised. “I don’t want anything. I’m not your responsibility, and I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”
How like her, he thought. Other women of his acquaintance would be trying to squeeze out every dollar they could.
“I will provide for you,” he told her. “Arrangements will be made for you to purchase a house, then I will set up a checking account as I did before.”
“You really don’t have to do this.”
“But we were only together for a few days.”
It should have been for a lifetime.
The thought came unbidden. Reyhan did his best to chase it away, but it stayed in place. Stubborn, real and tempting. So much would have been different if he’d simply insisted on her returning with him. When his aunt had died, he’d left Emma behind, to spare her the trauma of finding out who and what he was. He didn’t want to thrust her into royal life without some time to get used to the idea, nor did he want her meeting his family at a funeral. But by leaving her behind, he’d lost her.
How would their lives have been different if he’d brought her home right away? She would be a mother by now. His wife in every sense of the word. How would she have handled the responsibilities, the traditions? Would she have grown into them or chafed at the restrictions?
He would never know—about any of it. She could not be his wife; he had chosen a different path. But perhaps they could pretend for a single day.
“All the women I’ve ever met love to shop,” he said. “Are you different in that, as well?”
She smiled. “I don’t mind spending an afternoon or two at the mall. Are you trying to tempt me into accepting your more-than-generous offer of a settlement?”
“Not at all. The money will be provided. You don’t have a choice in the matter.”
She shook her head. “You’re pretty high-handed.”
She laughed. “That’s it. Just a yes? Aren’t you going to protest?”
“I get what I want one way or another.”
“Must be nice.”
Except when he wouldn’t allow himself what he wanted.
“This way,” he said, taking her arm and leading her through the marketplace. The bodyguards trailed along behind.
Emma knew there was no point in protesting or asking where they were going.
Reyhan would tell her when he was ready. Besides, she was enjoying her time with him to the point that it didn’t much matter to her what came next.
She glanced down at the bangle on her wrist. Something to remember him by, she thought fondly. Not gold and expensive jewels, which weren’t her style. Just a simple, silver bracelet.
They turned a corner onto a main street, then stopped in front of a plain storefront. She glanced at the sign that read Aimee’s before Reyhan moved inside.
The cool interior was a contrast to the warmth of the afternoon. Emma took in the cream-on-white decorations, the elegant displays of clothing and shoes and instantly felt frumpy in her outlet-sale clothing.
A tall, painfully thin woman approached. “Yes, may I—” The woman touched her perfectly coiffed hair, then smiled. “Prince Reyhan. A pleasure. How may I serve you?”
“This is Emma,” he said. “My wife.”
The woman’s dark eyes widened as she nodded graciously. “Princess. I am Aimee.
Welcome to my shop.”
Emma offered a smile even as she wondered what Reyhan was doing. It was one thing to tell people they were married in the palace, but why would he do it in public? No one had known they were married and they were going to be divorced very soon. Why bother with the hassle of explaining?
“She needs a complete wardrobe,” he continued.
Emma turned to him. “What?”
“But…” Aware of the older woman’s obvious interest in what was going on, Emma lowered her voice and leaned in close. “I don’t need a new wardrobe. Mine is fine. I’m not saying her clothes aren’t lovely, but they’ve got to be really pricey and they don’t fit into my regular world.”
“You’re not in your regular world now, Emma. You’re in mine. You’re also a beautiful woman who deserves beautiful things. It pleases me to buy these for you.”
Protesting too much seemed both ungracious and stupid. Instead she nodded.
“Thank you for your kindness.”
How bad could it be? she thought as she followed the well-dressed store owner into the dressing room area. A couple of dresses, maybe a pair of jeans or two and she would be done. Reyhan didn’t strike her as the kind of man who would enjoy waiting while a woman tried on clothing.
Or was he?
Two hours later Emma was less sure about everything. Reyhan had been remarkably patient as she’d been dressed in everything from simple sundresses to suits to elegant evening wear. Whenever something looked especially nice on her, Aimee urged her to step out into the main salon for him to see. Much to her chagrin, he’d been the one to make the decisions on what to buy and what not to.
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