The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(39) by Susan Mallery
“All this is happening now because we didn’t straighten things out six years ago,” she said.
Her father sighed. “We went over this, kitten.”
The familiar name made her stiffen. For years she’s loved that he called her that, but now she wasn’t so sure. A kitten was hardly a force to be reckoned with.
“You should have told me what was going on,” she said quietly. “I had the right to know that Reyhan had tried to see me.”
Her mother started to speak, but Emma held up her hand to stop her. “If I was old enough to get married, I was old enough to know the truth.”
“But you would have gone away with him,” her mother wailed. “We would never have seen you.”
“Is that what this was all about? Keeping me close?”
Her parents looked at each other, then at her. “We only wanted what was best for you,” her father said. “We love you.”
Why had she been afraid of defying them for so long? she wondered. They were just people. Misguided, maybe. She might not agree with their decision, but she believed they’d done what they thought was right. Their motivation had been selfish, but only because they cared about her.
“Emma, we should have said something about the money,” her mother admitted. “It was such a large amount. It’s not that Reyhan was bad, it’s just that he wasn’t like us. You were so sad. When you were happy again, we wanted to keep you that way.”
Emma didn’t know what to feel. Loss for what could have been. Although would she and Reyhan have had a chance all those years ago? At eighteen she’d barely been able to take care of herself. How would she have handled a husband, and maybe a child?
“It’s done,” she said, wanting to move on. “We can’t change it and now we have a different situation to deal with.”
Her mother sighed. “I can’t believe the king is going to insist you stay here two months. That’s barbaric.”
Emma smiled. “You can call living in the palace a lot of things, but not that.
Besides, I want a chance to get to know Reyhan again.”
Her parents exchanged a look of worry and panic. “Is that such a good idea, kitten?” her father asked.
“I don’t know. I loved him once.”
“You were just a little girl.”
“Legally, I was an adult,” she said, silently admitting that on the inside she’d been a child. “But that’s not the point. As King Hassan said, there’s a reason the two of us ran off.”
Her mother pressed her lips together. “We all know what his reason was. He was little more than an animal.”
Emma thought of what had happened the previous night. A little more animal-like behavior would be fine with her.
“You two have loved each other for nearly fifty years. Don’t you want that for me?”
“Not with him,” her father said. “Can’t you find a nice boy back home? Emma, you’re only twenty-four. You have years before you have to settle down and get married.”
“I’m already married. I’m staying the two months, and I’m going to take the time to get to know Reyhan again.”
Her mother’s eyes welled with tears. “But what if you fall in love with him?”
Would she? “It’s a chance I’m willing to take.”
“Oh, Emma. He broke your heart before. What’s to stop him from doing it again?”
Good question. “I have to risk it. I’m sorry. I know you want to protect me but this time you can’t. I have to do it on my own. So I’m going to ask you to trust me.”
Her elderly parents stared at her. She sensed their misgivings and fear. Then they looked at each other and nodded.
“All right, kitten,” her father said. “If this is what you really want, we’ll stand by your decision.”
“When he destroys you, we’ll be here to pick up the pieces,” her mother added.
“We’ll take you home and you can move back into your own room.”
Talk about motivation to make things work with Reyhan, Emma thought. Still, she wouldn’t let her parents sway her one way or the other. The king had granted her the gift of time and she intended to take advantage of it.
Emma spent the afternoon with her parents. She took them on a tour of the palace, the gardens and the chapel. They seemed to enjoy the dozens of cats more than anything. An hour before dinner, she returned to the room she now shared with Reyhan and called her supervisor back in Dallas. Fifteen minutes later she found herself on indefinite leave and accepting good wishes that it all work out for the best.
If only, she thought as she hung up the phone.
She leaned back on the sofa and tried to figure out what to do next. She was having dinner with her parents. There would be a more formal event with the king and several ministers the following evening, and a party later in the weekend.
“A whirlwind of social events,” she murmured to herself, trying not to feel nervous as she watched the clock and waited for Reyhan to return. However much he might want to avoid it, they had to talk, and the sooner the better.
Thirty minutes later, she’d given up trying to read her book. Sixty minutes later she was pacing the room with the intensity of an athlete training for an Olympic event. When the main door of the suite finally opened, Emma nearly stumbled in shock.
Elation, excitement and trepidation coiled together in her stomach as she searched Reyhan’s face, hoping for a clue as to what he was thinking. There wasn’t one.
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