The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(49) by Susan Mallery
“So this is only about keeping me safe?”
“I don’t believe you. Wanting me to stay is about more than that.” She rose and faced him. “I want to speak to the king and tell him you find my presence intolerable. There’s no reason for me to stay here and both of us to be tortured. I don’t believe that’s his purpose. Once he knows there is no hope for a reconciliation, then he’ll agree to the divorce and you’ll be free of me.”
As she spoke, she squared her shoulders and met his gaze with a confidence that impressed him. The frightened little girl she had been was completely gone and in her place was a self-sufficient woman.
She stood before him, offering him his freedom and all he wanted was to pull her close and claim her as his own forever. He longed for her with a need that defied description and still he would let her go.
“When we return,” he told her, “we will both talk to the king.”
Light faded from her eyes, as if the last flame of her spirit had been extinguished. Reyhan wanted to move closer, to touch her and tell her his reasons were not what she thought, but he stayed where he was and dug his fingers into the back of the chair.
“I guess I should pack a few things,” she said tonelessly. “What do I wear under the robes?”
“Whatever will be most comfortable. The days are hot, the nights cool. Jeans or slacks will give you freedom of movement.”
She nodded and headed for her bedroom. He retreated to his quarters where he quickly collected a few belongings. By the time he returned to the living room, the traditional robes had been left on the sofa.
Emma didn’t recognize the woman in the mirror, but she didn’t know how much of that had to do with the yards of fabric that covered her from head to toe and how much had to do with her bleeding to death from the inside out.
Reyhan wanted her to leave.
She supposed she’d known there were problems and that he didn’t want to sleep with her again, but that was a far cry from having him practically jump with joy at the thought of never seeing her again. She’d hoped to shock him with her suggestion that she speak with the king and ask to leave sooner. Instead he’d agreed with her plan. He was going to get everything he wanted and she would spend the rest of her life in love with a man who didn’t want to be with her.
Emma didn’t know exactly when she’d fallen in love with him, or if it had been with her, buried for the past six years. Did it matter? More important than the how or when was the reality of losing Reyhan for a second time.
He escorted her to a helicopter. Nervous excitement at flying in one for the first time eased some of her heartache. She strapped herself in and picked up the headset Reyhan pointed to. When the engine roared to life and the rotors began to move, she understood that the headset was the only way they would be able to communicate.
“We’re going about a hundred miles into the desert,” he said into his microphone. “To the western edge of the central oil fields.”
She could see his lips moving and hear the sound coming through her speakers.
The helicopter rose.
Emma clutched the armrests as the aircraft zoomed up and forward, moving dizzyingly fast. The sensation was very different from a plane, but not unpleasant. She watched the edge of the city disappear under them, then there was only the vast stretches of nothing.
“A young man was arrested today,” Reyhan said. “He was stealing replacement parts for the oil rigs. We’re not sure if he planned to sell them on the black market or sabotage them and put them back into inventory.”
“Faulty parts could create an economic and ecological disaster.”
Reyhan nodded approvingly at her grasp of the situation. “Exactly. His friends are being rounded up and will also be arrested. The man we caught, Fadl, has been unwilling to tell us what he’s up to. I want to talk to him and see if I can convince him to cooperate.”
She remembered what Reyhan had said about the nomads’ need to be free. “Will he go to prison?”
“Probably. It depends on the seriousness of his crime. In this case, simply stealing would be a relief to everyone.”
“An odd reality.”
He smiled. “How true.”
She turned away because she didn’t want to smile back. She didn’t want to feel that things were once again well between them. How could he act as if nothing was wrong?
She stared out the window and reminded herself that he had made it clear from the beginning that he wanted her out of his life. She’d been the one to forget that and try to change the rules. Was it his fault he hadn’t agreed?
“There is a small camp of nomads by the oil station,” he said. “They are friendly and you will be safe in their company. Even so I will assign two men to stay with you. Just in case.”
“That’s fine. Are there any cultural rules I should keep in mind?”
“No. Simply be yourself and they will adore you.”
As I do.
He didn’t speak the words, but Emma heard them. They hung in the silence between them as loud as the engine. She looked at Reyhan, but he was staring out of his window and she couldn’t see his expression.
A trick of her own imagination, she told herself. Nothing more. Her feelings for him weren’t going to change anything and she had to remember that.
They touched down about an hour later. Emma saw the low buildings clustered together and the oil rigs beyond. To the left, a dozen or so tents were pitched close to the bubbling oasis. Reyhan had told her the pool was fed by an underground spring.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online