The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(37) by Susan Mallery
“Some concern,” her mother said tartly. “You’re the reason she’s here in the first place. If you hadn’t carted her off back then none of this would have happened. She was just a child.”
“I was eighteen,” Emma reminded her. “I loved him.”
“You don’t know what love is,” her mother told her, still glaring at Reyhan.
“You seduced her and then ran off,” her father added. “What kind of concern is that?”
Reyhan glared at the older man. “I attempted to contact her on several occasions. You’re the ones who kept me from her.”
“Good thing we did. Who knows what would have happened if we hadn’t?”
She would have come to Bahania, Emma thought. She would have been Reyhan’s wife.
They would have had children.
“This isn’t accomplishing anything,” she told her parents. “I married Reyhan and now we all have to deal with it. I don’t want you interfering. You already got between us once. It won’t happen again.”
Her mother stared at her. “You said you were here to get a divorce.”
“I am, but—”
“Then there’s nothing to get in the way of, is there?”
Her mother narrowed her gaze. “We’ll be taking our daughter with us this afternoon. If you would have someone pack up her things.”
“I’m not leaving,” Emma said. “Not yet.”
“Why not?” her father wanted to know. “You can’t possibly plan to—”
“Silence,” the king said.
His voice wasn’t especially loud, but something in the tone got everyone’s attention. They all turned to him.
He smiled at her parents. “You are my honored guests for as long as you would like to stay in Bahania. Or you may leave at any time, as may your daughter.”
That surprised her. Reyhan also looked startled.
“The divorce,” he said.
His father nodded. “That is a separate matter.” The monarch paused.
Emma felt her inside clench in panic. Suddenly she didn’t want to hear what King Hassan had to say. Was he granting the divorce a few days early? It made the most sense, but she didn’t want him to. Things were too unsettled between herself and Reyhan. She needed to understand what last night had meant and why he’d been so cold this morning. She wanted to know what the fluttering when he was near meant. Was it just about sexual attraction or was there more?
Time. She needed time.
The king looked at her and it was as if he could read her mind. His kind eyes seemed to tell her that everything would be all right. To trust him. She took a deep breath and tried to relax.
“Despite Reyhan’s request for a divorce, I am not convinced it is the right course of action,” the king said.
“No!” her mother protested.
“This is an outrage,” her father said.
Reyhan was completely silent and Emma felt only a sense of relief.
“It is my decision that Reyhan and Emma must get to know each other again.
Something drew them together enough for them to impulsively marry. Was it a youthful prank or true love? Only time will tell. Therefore they must spend two months in each other’s company. Not a day or a night apart. At the end of that time we will speak again. If they still both wish to divorce, I will grant it and their marriage will disappear as if it had never been.”
Emma felt both relief and panic at the king’s proclamation. Two months in Reyhan’s company. If there were more nights like the previous one, that would hardly be difficult duty.
She glanced at the man who had married her. It was as if his expression were made of stone. She couldn’t tell what he was thinking, nor could she see anything friendly or welcoming in his dark eyes. One thing she was sure of—he didn’t look happy.
Without saying anything, Reyhan turned and left the room. Emma watched him go and tried to ignore the knot that returned to her stomach.
Beside her, her parents continued to protest.
“There has to be some legal court we can take this up with,” her father said heatedly.
The king appeared more amused than insulted. “Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy, please.” He opened his arms in a gesture of welcome. “You are honored guests in my country.
I would ask you to stay here in the palace as long as you would like. Visit with your daughter. Get to know my people. You will find things very pleasant. As for your daughter—” he smiled at Emma “—she is a charming young woman. You must be very proud.”
Her mother sniffed. “Of course we are. She’s a very good girl.”
Emma felt like a wayward puppy who had finally been pronounced housebroken.
“I do not wish to be unreasonable.” The king turned to her father. “You are right—there are courts and laws. They state all royal marriages must be approved by the king. Reyhan defied me when he married your lovely daughter. Having met Emma, I can forgive his impulsiveness. Who could blame him?”
While she appreciated the compliment, she thought he was laying it on a little thick.
“This isn’t her world,” her mother said. “She belongs home, with us.”
“She is a grown woman. Perhaps it is time for her to say where she belongs. In two months she will have that opportunity.”
He beckoned someone from the rear of the room. Emma saw several servants approaching.
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