The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(32) by Susan Mallery
Jefri looked at her. “You called me a flying fool.”
One corner of his mouth twitched. “Never mind.”
King Hassan looked indulgently at Cleo. “She has given me my first grandchild.
Little else matters.”
Cleo winked. “You gotta like that, right?”
Emma nodded, thinking that they might be royal and rich and live in a palace, but at heart this was a family like every other. The knot in her stomach untied and faded away.
Conversation turned to current events and how they impacted Bahania. Emma had long known that Bahania was an American ally, but she was surprised by the close relationship the king and Murat obviously had with the president and several leaders in the Senate.
They had just been served a delicious chicken dish when one of the servants approached the king and spoke into his ear. The monarch listened, said something back, then looked at Emma.
“It seems there has been a slight plumbing problem in your suite,” he said. “A pipe cracked and flooded the room. Nothing of yours was damaged, but you’ll need to spend the night somewhere else.” He smiled. “I think we can find a spare bed.”
She thought of the dozens of rooms in the guest section. “I’m not concerned about it.”
“Good. I have asked for your belongings to be packed and moved. After dinner I’ll escort you to your new quarters myself.”
The meal lasted another two hours. When it was over, Emma felt so full, she could barely move. The king made good on his word and walked her to her new room.
“I hope you’re enjoying your stay in my country,” the monarch said as they turned a corner and started down a long corridor.
“Very much. What I’ve seen is so beautiful. And everyone has been so kind.”
“Even my son?”
She glanced at him. He was tall, with a slight graying at his temple. In his dark suit he looked both regal and powerful.
“I was sorry he could not dine with us tonight.”
Emma agreed, but didn’t want to say that. “He has responsibilities.”
“He takes them seriously,” King Hassan said. “As do all my sons. But in Reyhan’s case, perhaps too seriously.”
She wasn’t sure what he meant, but before she could figure out a polite way to ask, they stopped in front of a large door.
“You will be staying in here,” her host told her. “I hope you will find the room to your liking.” He smiled and left.
Emma opened the door and stepped inside. The quarters were larger than her own had been, but more spartan. There were no overstuffed sofas and lush paintings.
Instead the room was filled with simply designed pieces in muted earth tones and the artwork leaned more toward sculptures with a few boldly colored abstracts for contrast.
She turned on several lamps and walked around the living room. Something about it made her feel…not uneasy, just odd. The room was almost familiar. How strange. Had she seen it when she and Reyhan had toured the palace? She didn’t remember any guest rooms being on their tour. Had she seen one similar?
She walked into the bedroom. The huge bed rested on a platform. Massive pieces of furniture filled the space without crowding her. Again the colors were muted but not—
She froze in place. There was a book on a nightstand. An open book. Quickly she crossed to the closet and pulled at the double doors. Dark suits lined one side of the closet. Built-in shelves were home to shirts, sweaters and shoes. Her own newly purchased wardrobe filled the other side of the closet. She fingered the sleeve of the closest suit and knew exactly who owned it.
The king had moved her in with her husband.
Emma sighed, not sure what to do with the information. Should she protest? Request another room? Was King Hassan testing her? Testing them? Even with Reyhan gone, she felt that she didn’t belong in his rooms. They had never lived as man and wife. This felt too…intimate.
In the bathroom she found her cosmetics on the same counter as his shaver. Two bathrobes hung by the large glassed-in shower. As if they had always been together.
Not sure what to do, Emma decided she would stay the night, then speak with Cleo in the morning. Perhaps the other woman would know what was going on and what Emma should do about it. In the meantime, she would simply pretend all this was real and that this was where she belonged.
Reyhan arrived back at the palace shortly after midnight. The same demons that had driven him away had forced him to return. He had to see her, touch her, breathe the same air she breathed. The need inside of him had grown until he couldn’t eat or sleep. He could only want.
He took the stairs two at a time. When he reached the second floor, he walked toward the guest wing. But as he approached her door, he slowed his step until he stopped several feet away.
What was he going to do? Break down the door and take her? He closed his eyes and shook his head. No. He would be strong. Just a few more days and she would be gone. He was back in the palace now. Within a few feet of her. That would be enough. He would retreat to the safety of his own rooms and figure out a way to survive until she was gone.
Retracing his steps, he made his way to the other side of the building and let himself into his suite. He shrugged out of his jacket and left it on the back of the sofa. As he loosened his tie, he walked into the bedroom, only to come to a complete stop.
He was not alone.
A woman lay in his bed. In the moonlight streaming in from the open French doors he could see a bare arm, the curve of a cheek and dark hair tangled on a white pillow.
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