The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(57) by Susan Mallery
“How are you feeling?” she asked.
“Good. A little sore, but otherwise fine. I am hungry and thirsty.”
“Positive signs.” She touched his forehead. “No fever?”
“Not that I can feel.”
Suddenly aware that she was pressed against him and that they were on a bed, she shifted toward the edge then stood.
“Let me check your bandage. If there’s no sign of infection, we can all breathe a little easier.”
She removed the dressing. The wound was clean, the surrounding skin pale.
“It’s already healing,” she told him.
“Good. Then we can eat.”
He swung his legs to the floor and stood. She hovered by his side, but he seemed fine. Strong and capable. Once again the prince and no longer the man who needed her.
“I would like a shower,” he said.
“Me, too, but there’s no hot water. At least there wasn’t last night.”
“The water heater needs to be turned on. I’ll take care of that if you want to start on breakfast.”
She nodded and followed him out of the room. He didn’t even sway as he walked, she thought, amazed by his powers of recovery. As they passed the office, she remembered the telephone and collected it. Reyhan disappeared into a small room behind the pantry while she took the phone out into the courtyard and opened the case so the rising sun would charge the solar cell. Then she took a moment and looked around at the lush, nondesertlike garden in the middle of a three-story sand-and-stone house.
Plants bloomed and trailed everywhere. She couldn’t name the various pink, red and white flowers, but she could inhale their sweet fragrance. Water trickled through several fountains and circled the garden before flowing into a stone-lined pond.
No doubt the underground spring was responsible for the flow of water. Emma sighed as she caught sight of a bench in the corner and a small grassy patch.
This was a dream house—somewhere she could happily stay forever.
She left the courtyard garden and returned to the kitchen. By the time she’d put together a meal, Reyhan had returned with word that there would soon be hot water. He’d also started the generator.
“We’ll have immediate electricity,” he said. “We have to use it sparingly until the solar panels start working. Hot water will take an hour or so.”
“There’s nothing like a day in the desert to make one grateful for the little things,” she said, smiling as if being alone with him was no big deal. As if she didn’t remember how scared she’d been when she’d found out he’d been shot, and how much he’d hurt her, before they’d left, with his agreement that it was time for her to go home.
As she sat across from him, she tried not to stare at his features. There was no need to memorize his face. Their time together had changed her forever and she would never forget what he looked like. Even now, without a shirt, in need of a shave and less than twenty-four hours after being shot, he still looked masculine, powerful and very princelike.
Silence descended. She searched for a topic to keep the moment from being too awkward.
“Whose house is this?” she asked as she sipped the coffee she’d prepared.
“Mine. It belonged to my aunt. She left it to me when she died.”
“This is where you came to after we got married,” she said as the pieces of the past clicked into place.
He nodded. “I needed to be here for her funeral service and then I had to settle her affairs.” He stared past her, as if seeing into that long-ago time. “She and I were very close. My parents loved each other more than they loved their children. My brother Jefri didn’t seem to mind, but I noticed.” He shrugged.
“When things were difficult, Sheza was there for me.”
Simple words, she thought, reading the pain behind them. She could imagine a young, lonely prince, growing up in privilege, but without affection. The woman who took his parents’ place would always hold a special place in his heart. No wonder he’d been devastated by her loss.
“I’m sorry,” she said quietly. “I wish I’d known what you were going through.”
He sipped his coffee. “It wouldn’t have made a difference. I would never have let you comfort me.”
One corner of his mouth turned up. “I am Prince Reyhan of Bahania. I am not in need of comforting.”
She leaned toward him. “I see. And who exactly buys into that line?”
“You would have.”
“You’re right. It’s something a child would have believed. But I’m not that little girl anymore. Now I know better.”
His dark gaze settled on her face. “You were very brave yesterday.”
“Not really. At first I was furious at being taken hostage. I knew they’d try to get money from you. They didn’t, did they?”
“No. We were able to cancel the transfer. My security chief had a plan to get the money back even if the transfer had gone through. But if necessary, I would have paid.”
“Nice to know,” she said, not surprised, but still pleased.
“You are my wife, Emma. I could not let you be harmed.”
She didn’t feel like his wife. She didn’t feel like anything except excess baggage.
“Thank you for saving my life,” he said.
“Thank you for saving mine.”
“So we are even, which is better than one of us being in debt to another.” He smiled. “You did not expect danger to be a part of your visit to Bahania. This experience must make you eager to be back in Dallas.”
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