The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(41) by Susan Mallery
“It’s complicated,” Cleo told her. “A story for another time.” She leaned over the back of the sofa in her suite and checked on Calah. “This is the best baby in the universe. She never cries, she sleeps like a dream and I swear she has an IQ of about two hundred.”
Sabrina and Zara rolled their eyes. Emma laughed.
“She’s very smart,” Cleo said, sounding huffy. “You guys wait until your babies are born. You’ll see what I mean.”
“Sure, Cleo,” Sabrina said. “I’m guessing we’ll all be as goofy as you about our children.”
“You mock me now, but just you wait.”
“Watch yourself,” Sabrina said to Emma. “There’s something about this palace.
It’s pregnancy central. Be careful or you’ll catch a baby of your own.”
The three women laughed and Emma tried to join in, not that she was very successful. It was hard to joke when she’d just realized that she and Reyhan hadn’t used protection when they’d made love.
She sucked in a breath and tried to stay calm. It had only been one time, she reminded herself. A quick calculation told her the day had been safe, relatively speaking. So she was unlikely to be pregnant. Based on how he was avoiding her, she wasn’t going to be in a position to have a second chance at getting pregnant, either. Which was good. Right?
She was happy not to have to deal with an unexpected baby. Except she could easily picture herself with Reyhan’s child. Holding him or her and overwhelmed by love. That would be wonderful.
She knew Reyhan wanted children, just not with her. Which made her wonder why.
He’d been willing to marry her before. Why was he so determined not to be married to her now? She didn’t think there was anyone else in his life. He’d said he would accept an arranged union. So she—
“Earth to Emma,” Zara said. “Are you still with us?”
Emma blinked and saw all three women looking at her. “Sorry. I was lost in thought.”
“I bet I know who was starring in that fantasy,” Sabrina said teasingly. “It would be romantic if it wasn’t my brother.”
Emma felt herself coloring. “No, really. It was nothing.”
As she’d never been a very good liar, she wasn’t surprised when they didn’t buy her story.
“Maybe there’s more going on than we know about,” Cleo said. “Which could be interesting.”
“We’d love to have you as part of our princess sisterhood,” Zara told her.
“Think about it.”
She appreciated the invitation more than she could say. She’d always wanted a sister. But staying or not staying wasn’t just up to her. Reyhan had a part in it, and based on what she’d seen so far, he couldn’t wait to have her gone.
Two days later Emma accompanied her parents down to the stable. The king had suggested Reyhan take them out into the desert to show them some of Bahania’s natural beauty. She was relatively sure her husband had agreed to the outing because he didn’t have a choice. Ever since they’d shared that one night, he’d made it more than clear that spending time in her company was about as pleasant as root canal sugery.
What hurt her was that her feelings were so different. Since sharing a bed, she couldn’t stop thinking about being with him in other ways. She wanted to talk to him, get to know him, laugh, tease, make memories. She wanted him to hold her close instead of stiffening every time she was near.
“Are you sure this is safe?” her mother asked as they crossed the stone courtyard leading to the stable. “Aren’t there robbers and pirates in the desert?”
“Pirates are on the ocean,” her father said gently. “However, we’re going to have to deal with robbers.”
Emma held in a sigh. She loved her parents very much but in the last couple of days they’d really started to get on her nerves. They weren’t open to any new experiences and, despite the wonders of the palace, they kept talking about how much they wanted to go home. When she encouraged them to make plans they refused, telling her they wouldn’t leave without her. The thought of two months in such close quarters made her teeth ache.
But that was a problem for another time. Right now she had to worry about the fact that Reyhan stood by the front of the stable, and upon seeing him she felt her heart rate quadruple while her thighs began to quiver.
“Good morning,” Reyhan said as they approached.
He wore riding boots, dark slacks and a loose white shirt. Despite the short hair and freshly shaven face, Emma had the thought that he looked as dangerous as the pirates her mother feared.
But as appealing as she found him, he didn’t seem to return her interest. He neither looked directly at her nor acknowledged her personally. He motioned to a large open vehicle—part roofless SUV, part topless van. There were three rows of seats.
“You’ll be comfortable for our trip out to the oasis.”
“Is it safe?” her mother asked. “Are there a lot of wild people and robbers on the loose?”
Emma winced. “Mom,” she said quickly, “Bahania is a very civilized country.”
Reyhan’s expression didn’t change. “The laws of the desert offer hospitality to all who enter. You will be welcomed by my people and treated as an honored guest.” He motioned to the vehicle.
Emma’s parents exchanged a glance before cautiously stepping inside. She hung back, wanting more than an impersonal trip with a man who was doing his best to become a stranger.
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