The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(30) by Susan Mallery
“Watch them,” Reyhan said. “In time they will grow bored and go home.”
“You hired me to keep the peace, then made it impossible for me to do my job.”
“To date there have been threats, but no actions. They are afraid of you. I consider that doing your job.”
Will was a former army ranger who had grown up on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. His unique combination of knowledge and skills had made him a find. Over the past three years he’d worked his way up from the person in charge of security to Reyhan’s second-in-command. There were those who disapproved of an American holding such a high position, but there was no one else Reyhan trusted at his back.
“The royal family has a centuries-old relationship with the nomads,” Reyhan said. “Under normal circumstances, I would agree to your plan to simply round them all up and let them rot in prison for a decade or so. But the majority of these boys are sons of chiefs, and I have given my word that I will not endanger them without cause. Threats are not cause.”
“As you wish.”
The tall, blond American rose to his feet and headed to his tent. Reyhan watched him go. Will was frustrated, but he wouldn’t say any more. Instead he would do his job. He would focus on the task. Did he know a way to keep a man from going insane?
Reyhan closed his eyes and tried to see nothing, but instead Emma filled his mind. Being apart from her had only made him want her more. She was like water to a man dying of thirst. Her light filled his day and without her, he was blind.
Not much longer, he told himself, looking for comfort and finding none. Just a few more days and Emma would be gone. Then he would be free to marry someone else. A sensible woman who would bear him fine sons. A woman he could respect and never love. A woman who was not Emma.
Emma found use for one of her fancy dresses two nights later when she was invited to dine with the king, Cleo and her husband, Prince Jefri and Murat, the crown prince of Bahania. Nerves rode a roller coaster through her stomach as she carefully applied her makeup, and she wished Reyhan was going to be around. With him at her side, she would find it a whole lot easier to make casual conversation with everyone else at the table. But she hadn’t heard from him since he’d left and she was beginning to think she wasn’t going to.
What if the two weeks ended while he was gone and she had to leave Bahania without seeing him again? She briefly closed her eyes and told herself not to think about it. If she had to leave without seeing him again, she would survive.
Maybe it would even help her get over him more quickly.
Not that she had anything to recover from. It’s not as if she was falling for him or anything.
After checking the mirror one last time and smoothing the front of the peach-colored cocktail dress she’d pulled on, she walked out of the suite toward Cleo’s rooms. Cleo and her husband had offered to escort her to the dinner so she wouldn’t get lost on the way.
“This is Sadik,” Cleo said a few minutes later as she introduced her husband.
Emma wasn’t sure if she was expected to curtsy or what. Wishing she’d asked Cleo in advance, she held out her hand and tried to look more impressed than nervous.
Sadik—tall, darkly handsome and more than a little intimidating—smiled. “As you are a member of the family, I suspect first names would be allowed.” He bent slightly and kissed the back of her hand. “Welcome, Emma. I’m not sure how you have been able to put up with my brother these past few days, but the fact that you have is a testament to your character.”
She’d been expecting to shake hands, so the kiss startled her, although not as much as the gentle teasing. Were all the princes nice as well as good-looking and powerful? Was it possible?
“He’s been very kind,” she murmured.
“But a fool. Any man who leaves such a beautiful wife on her own takes his chances.”
Cleo, lush and amazing in a dark blue low-cut gown, raised her eyebrows. “Sadik, are you flirting?”
He turned to her. “I am making our new sister feel welcome. You know there is but one woman in my world.”
He spoke with an intensity and love that made Emma feel she’d stumbled into a private moment. She turned away, but not before she saw the way Cleo smiled at her husband. It was a smile of true contentment and security. In that moment Emma vowed she would find a man who would love her as Sadik loved his wife, and she would give her whole heart to him.
The three of them walked into the hallway.
“Jefri’s fun,” Cleo said, linking arms with Emma. “He’s the youngest and has a great sense of humor. Murat is more stuffy. I guess it’s the whole crown prince thing.”
“Murat has many responsibilities,” Sadik said firmly. “The weight of the country rests on his shoulders.”
“He’s also still single,” Cleo told her. “Imagine marrying him.”
“No, thanks. I’m having trouble dealing with being a princess, however temporarily. I wouldn’t want to think about being queen.”
“Someone’s going to have to,” Cleo said. “The king has started talking about Murat needing an heir. Not that there aren’t hundreds of women lining up to volunteer.”
“She will be the mother of his sons,” Sadik said. “Not a choice to be made lightly.”
“Exactly,” Cleo said with a grin. “Now, if he was going to only have daughters, then he could pretty much marry anyone.”
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