The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(33) by Susan Mallery
His heart stopped for a full second, then resumed at a thundering pace. His body heated as blood raced down to his groin. He was instantly hard and ready to take.
Emma was in his bed.
Reyhan told himself to leave, to back out of the room before she awoke. As much as he wanted her, he couldn’t have her. Not now, not ever. But he couldn’t move.
The passion was too strong. He could only stand in place and drink in her beauty.
He must have made a sound, or perhaps she sensed his presence, because she stirred, turned over then opened her eyes.
“Reyhan?” she asked, her voice sleepy. She pushed her hair out of her face and raised herself on one elbow. “What time is it?” She glanced at the clock, then back at him. “I’ve only been asleep for a couple of seconds. I thought…” She blinked. “Wait. What are you doing here?”
“This is my room.”
“What?” She glanced around. “Oh.” Her breath caught. “Oh! Right. I, ah, I had dinner with the king and your family and while we were eating someone came and told him that a pipe had broken in my suite. So he said he would put me somewhere else. Which turned out to be here. I thought it was weird, but it was late and I figured I would just stay here until morning, then straighten it out.
I didn’t think you’d be back tonight.”
Of course she didn’t. He hadn’t told her when he would return. But he’d told his father who had most likely arranged for him to find Emma sleeping in his bed.
While he was curious as to why his father wanted to tempt him with Emma, he was more concerned about the temptation itself. He had to get out of here before he said or did something he would regret. Before he gave in to the hunger consuming him.
“I’m sorry,” she said, sitting up and drawing her knees to her chest. “I should have said something right away. I can go find somewhere else to sleep.”
She started to climb out of the bed. He caught a glimpse of semitransparent fabric and sensuous curves.
“Don’t,” he said, turning away and staring blindly out the French doors. “Just stay there. I’ll leave.”
“But this is your room.”
“Tonight it is yours.”
Tonight and always, he thought, knowing he would never forget seeing her there.
In the morning, when she was gone, he would haunt the rooms, searching for some hint of her presence, some clue that she’d been there at all.
“How were your meetings?” she asked.
“They went well.”
“Did you really have to go, or were you just avoiding me?”
The softly worded question surprised him. The Emma he remembered would never have been so bold. He returned his attention to her and found her sitting cross-legged, staring at the sheets.
“I was avoiding you, but not for the reasons you think.”
Her chin lifted and her eyes widened. “I don’t understand.”
Perhaps it was the night. Perhaps it was the ache inside of him, an ache that grew and fed on his soul. Perhaps it was the hint of sweetness in the air, the scent of which could only come from Emma. Perhaps it was madness. Regardless of the reason, he decided to speak the truth.
“I cannot be around you without wanting you,” he said. “Rather than give in, I went away.”
Understanding dawned slowly. The soft light of the moon didn’t allow him to see her blush, but he imagined it. She swallowed, then shrugged.
“Oh. I, ah…” She cleared her throat. “You mean sex.”
Her acceptance nearly made him smile. He wasn’t sure if she was trying to act casually or if she was truly unsurprised by his admission. What had she learned in their six years apart and who had been her teacher?
“I prefer to think of it as making love, but, yes.”
She tucked her hair behind her ears. “I guess it’s a guy thing,” she said. “I never understood all the fuss.”
He did his best not to react to her words, not to hope too much. “Your lovers have not pleased you?”
Her nose wrinkled. “I’ve sort of avoided the whole man-in-my-bed thing. It’s not my style.”
Two warring thoughts invaded his brain and produced two very different reactions. First was pleasure and relief that she hadn’t been with anyone else.
That she was still only his. The second was stung pride that he hadn’t satisfied her when they’d been together. He knew now that he’d been too intent on his own release, on claiming her over and over. He hadn’t taken the time to pleasure her.
“Not that it’s your fault,” she said, interrupting his internal battle. “I was too young. We went from kissing, to, well, you know, too fast for me. You were right about what you said before, that I wanted a schoolgirl’s courtship with kisses and presents.”
So hard that he thought he might explode, Reyhan forced himself to walk to the chair close to the bed and sit down.
“You were a virgin,” he told her. “That fault lies with me. I was young and eager to take my bride. Too eager.”
She ducked her head again. “Yes, well, it happens.”
“It should not have happened that way. The women I had been with before had been older and more experienced. They had been the teacher and I the student. With you…” He clenched his teeth. “I should have been more patient, more understanding. I should have seduced you with slow kisses and soft touches. Only when you were begging for more should I have taken you.”
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