The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(56) by Susan Mallery
She was about to ask how much farther when he stopped and pointed. “There.”
Emma peered into the murky darkness and saw what looked like a solid stone wall.
“It’s a dead end,” she said, fighting both panic and resignation. They weren’t going to make it.
He glanced at her and raised his eyebrows.
“Do not believe everything you see. Go stand in front of the wall.”
She made sure he was leaning against the rocks before shrugging off his arm and approaching the wall. She pressed her hand against the stones.
“Cold and solid.”
“The bricks are a grid,” he said. “Count across from left to right and down from top to bottom. Three over and five down. Push.”
She blinked in the darkness, then did as he requested. The stone moved. Her heart nearly leapt out of her chest.
“Of course it is,” he said, and gave her the next instruction.
So they went for a total of eight stones. On the last one, there was an audible click, then the stone wall swung in like a well-oiled door. The ground changed from uneven rock to polished stone and slowly sloped up.
“We are here,” he said, and walked into the palace.
Emma followed him. Reyhan kept his balance by pressing one hand against the wall and holding his flashlight with the other. At the top of the ramp, they entered what appeared to be a basement or cellar. He turned a lever and the stone door swung shut.
“There is a short flight of stairs,” he said. “On the main floor are several bedrooms, the kitchen and the office. You’ll find the satellite phone in there.”
He crossed the open area and headed for a flight of stairs at the far end. Emma was surprised that he barely limped. It was as if being in the Desert Palace gave him strength.
“Is there food and water?” she asked.
“Yes. No fresh food, but staples. And fresh water is always available. There’s an underground spring.”
He climbed the stairs, slowly only slightly toward the top. She saw blood seeping through his bandage and winced. “You need to lie down,” she told him.
At the top of the stairs was another door. This one had a knob. He turned it and they stepped into a beautifully tiled hallway. The air was cool but fresh and there were still hints of sunlight coming in through large windows.
“There are battery-operated lanterns,” he said. “Several in each room.”
He moved down the hallway, pausing only to point out the direction to the kitchen, the placement of the office and where the wing of bedrooms began.
He entered the first one, made his way to the bed, sat down and passed out before he could put his head on the pillow.
Fear returned but by now Emma was familiar with the knot in her stomach and the tightness in her chest. She ignored it and went to work.
After setting down the supplies she carried, she found the battery-powered
lantern in the room and clicked it on. Then she made sure Reyhan was comfortable on the bed and checked his wound.
The seepage from before had stopped, which was a relief. So far there was no red, swollen flesh to indicate infection. Was it possible they’d gotten off relatively easily?
Confident he was all right for the moment, she took one of the flashlights and did a quick search of the main floor of the large house.
There were over a dozen rooms on this level and at least three staircases. The kitchen was huge and well stocked. Cold water gushed from the faucet. She found a propane-heated stove and oven, along with an empty refrigerator that probably needed a generator in order to run.
In the book-lined office, she found a case on the big desk that looked somewhat like a phone. She made a mental note to stick that outside sometime tonight so that it could start charging in the morning.
None of the four downstairs bathrooms offered a first-aid kit, so she returned to the kitchen and went into the pantry. Sure enough, on the bottom shelf was an assortment of medical supplies to supplement what had been in the first-aid kit in the case.
She collected what she needed and returned to Reyhan’s room.
He hadn’t moved. She checked his temperature, which was normal, then changed the bandage and decided to wait on everything else. If he regained consciousness, she would see if he could drink water and eat. If he didn’t…she would face that problem later.
She returned to the kitchen where she dumped the old bandages and opened a can of soup. She ate it cold, too tired to bother with trying to heat it. After swallowing the contents and three full glasses of water, she made use of one of the luxury bathrooms, then returned to Reyhan’s room.
He was still cool to the touch and there wasn’t any more bleeding. She had no way to tell about internal injuries, but she was hopeful that he’d been very lucky and that the bullet had missed everything.
Weary behind words, she curled up next to him on the bed and closed her eyes.
Just for a few minutes, she told herself. She still had to get the phone outside and figure out what she was going to feed him when he woke….
Someone stroked her hair. Emma felt the light touch even in her sleep and smiled. She was warm all over and rested and in just a second she would open her eyes and see—
Consciousness returned and with it the memories of what had happened the previous day. She sat up and realized it was morning and Reyhan was awake.
“Good morning,” he said.
She stared at him, at his bare chest and the clarity in his eyes. His color was good. Except for the white bandage at his waist, she wouldn’t have known he’d ever been injured.
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