The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(45) by Susan Mallery
Still caught up in how Reyhan’s warm breath had tickled her skin, she accepted the necklace, kissed the girl on both cheeks and thanked her warmly. Reyhan slid the necklace over her neck.
There were more pieces of jewelry offered, several bolts of amazing silk, four adult camels and one baby camel. The only gift she had trouble returning was a sweet puppy who licked her entire face and wiggled to get closer.
When she’d thanked everyone and carefully left all the smaller gifts on a blanket by the fire, she walked toward the SUV with Reyhan.
“They were wonderful people,” she said. “Do the children go to school?”
He nodded. “They attend several months at a time, then return to their families.
We are fortunate in that we can afford excellent teachers and modern schools that can meet the needs of children from the city and from the desert.”
Emma thought about what Cleo had said—how she did charity work in her free time.
Would that have been available to Emma, as well? Although she loved her job and knew she helped through one of life’s greatest miracles, she was willing to admit to wanting to help on a grander scale.
Not likely, she told herself. Not when she was leaving and Reyhan was marrying someone else.
By the end of the week, Emma’s parents had settled into life in Bahania. Emma was pleased to watch their attitudes slowly change from hostile mistrust of everything to pleasant acceptance. She would have loved to discuss the surprising transition with Reyhan but he continued to avoid her. So much for spending their days and nights together, she thought as she leaned close to the mirror and applied mascara to her lashes. They might physically be in the same palace, but they rarely spoke anymore. Reyhan worked impossible hours then disappeared into the guest room. The only time she saw him was at command dinners by the king.
At least tonight would be different. There was a large formal state occasion that was doubling as a welcome party for her parents. Reyhan had already informed her he was to be her escort. She would have been a lot more excited if he’d at least pretended to be happy about spending the evening with her. Instead he’d looked about as thrilled as a man facing the loss of both legs and an arm.
She was determined to change his mind.
After finishing with her makeup, she pulled the hot rollers out of her hair, then fluffed the ends. After bending over at the waist, she sprayed her hair from underneath, then flipped her head to let the curls fall back into place.
“Not bad,” she murmured as she finger combed a few wayward strands.
Next up was the bronze beaded evening gown. She slipped it on and pulled up the zipper, then stepped into her high-heeled sandals.
She studied her reflection and knew this was as good as it was going to get. If she couldn’t dazzle Reyhan like this, it wasn’t going to happen.
“Good luck,” she whispered to her reflection, then walked out of the bathroom and into the sitting area.
Reyhan was already there. She nearly stumbled when she saw him in his well-tailored tux. His shoulders were broad and strong, his features lean and handsome. Her heart swelled with an affection she didn’t want to name.
“You look beautiful,” he told her.
“Thank you. You look great, too.”
He held out a velvet-covered box, about ten inches square and only a couple of inches deep.
She hesitated before accepting the gift and opening it. When she saw the contents, her breath caught in amazement.
A yellow diamond necklace lay on a bed of white silk. The graduated diamonds had to be at least three carats each in front, and nearly a carat in back by the clasp. Two clusters of yellow diamonds formed earrings and there was a white and yellow diamond bracelet.
Emma reached for the necklace only to find she was shaking too much to pick it up.
“I can’t,” she told him. “It’s too much.”
“You are my wife,” Reyhan said, taking the box from her and setting it on the table. He removed the necklace and placed it around her neck. “Who would wear these if not you?”
“The next woman you marry,” she said as he handed her the earrings. “You’ll want these things passed down to your children.”
As she spoke, she looked at him. Some emotion crossed his face but it was gone before she could read it. Awareness crackled between them and when he held out the bracelet to her, she wanted desperately to toss it aside and fling herself in his arms instead.
But she didn’t. She let him fasten on the bracelet, then admired the fiery stones. She would wear these lovely things tonight but with the intent of leaving them behind. They were a part of his heritage and she had no right to claim them. If things had been different…But they weren’t.
“Reyhan—” She touched his forearm, feeling the warmth of him and the tension of his muscles. “I want to mention something. About when we were together.”
He didn’t speak but a muscle twitched in his jaw. “There is nothing to say.”
“Yes, there is. We didn’t…” She cleared her throat. “When we made love…” She stopped and gathered her thoughts. “We didn’t use any protection. I wasn’t sure if you were worried about consequences. There aren’t any. I wanted to reassure you that I wasn’t pregnant.”
“I see. You’re sure?”
More than sure. Three days ago she’d gotten her period. “Positive.”
He didn’t say anything else as he led her to a large mirror in the dining room.
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