The Sheik and the Princess in Waiting(Desert Rogues, Book 7)(60) by Susan Mallery
She hadn’t been sure she was going to tell him. What was the point? But now, suddenly she wanted him to know. Not to make him feel badly but so that he would understand more.
“I was pregnant before,” she whispered. “From our honeymoon.”
She braced herself for his violent reaction. She didn’t expect him to get angry, but she knew there would be energy and demands for information. Perhaps even accusations. But instead he stayed on the bed, his fingers brushing against her scalp, his other hand tucked behind his head.
A simple question, yet it was as if he’d unlocked a hidden door. She felt her heart shudder as the memories escaped and raced to the light of day for the first time in six years.
“The doctor said it wasn’t uncommon to lose a baby in the first few weeks of pregnancy, especially for a young woman. He said there was probably something wrong with it and that was nature’s way of making things right.” She blinked to hold back tears, but still they spilled over onto her cheeks. “I was so upset when you left that I locked myself in my room at my parents’ house and cried for nearly two weeks. I’ve always wondered if our child couldn’t stand the thought of a mother who was so sad all the time.”
“So you take responsibility for what happened?”
“I see.” He cupped her cheek. “Perhaps our child didn’t want a father who disappeared without word.”
“You had nothing to do with me losing the baby.”
“Neither did you.” His dark gaze locked on her face. “So that is why you refused to see me. You were too upset.”
She nodded. “That’s a part of it. I was ashamed, too. And scared. I thought you’d be so angry with me.”
He wrapped his arms around her and drew her closer until she rested on top of him and they could kiss. He brushed his mouth against hers. “Never. With the wisdom of hindsight I know that I shouldn’t have left you behind when my aunt died. I should have brought you with me.”
“I’m not sure that would have helped. I couldn’t have handled the situation, or you. Not then.”
One corner of his mouth turned up. “You think you can handle me now?”
“What makes you so sure?”
This was, as her father would say, where the rubber met the road. How willing was she to risk everything and lay it on the line?
“Because before I didn’t know why you’d married me. I was young and scared and too inexperienced to know how to please a man. Everything is different now.”
The humor disappeared as if it had never been. He started to sit up. Emma pushed on his shoulders, trying desperately to hold him in place.
“Reyhan, don’t. We have to talk about it.”
“There is nothing to say.”
“I think we could talk for a lifetime and never say all the things we missed by being apart. Reyhan, why didn’t you ever tell me you loved me?”
He grasped her by the waist and slid her aside, then sat up. That simple action warned her he was already slipping away.
“Why is it such a horrible thing to admit?” she asked desperately. “Is it
because I was so immature? I know I couldn’t be a partner for you then, but things are different now. We’re both different. You loved me then. Couldn’t you care a little for me now?”
He didn’t speak, didn’t move. She wasn’t sure he was even breathing.
Frightened, and not sure how to convince him, mostly because she didn’t understand what she was fighting against, she tried to speak from the heart.
“I don’t know what I felt back then. I was a kid. I keep saying that but it’s true. I had a fantasy about love and marriage and what my husband would be like.
You rescued me that very first day and I’m not sure I saw you as a real person.
You were more like a superhero or something. But now I can see the man and he’s a good and honorable person.”
She leaned against Reyhan’s back and wrapped her arms around his shoulders.
“You’re proud and sometimes that’s annoying, but I can live with it,” she continued. “I want to stay here with you. I want us to stay married, to love each other and have babies together.” She swallowed before confessing her most intimate secret. “I’m in love with you.”
Reyhan felt each word. They cut him like knives. When he’d been shot the day before, he’d barely felt the pain, but now, with Emma, he was ripped apart.
Love. She spoke the words he would have sold his soul to hear. Words that would drive him to his knees with gratitude. But then what? Who would he be if he gave in to his love and desire for this woman? How could he be strong? How could he be a man if he was controlled by a woman?
“No!” he roared, and sprang to his feet. “Do not love me. I will not love you in return. Not again. I will not be crushed by the needing and wanting. I will not have you fill my head and consume the very breath from my body. I will not be made weak by all that I feel for you.”
He glared at her, but she didn’t flinch. Instead she met his angry gaze with a look so filled with love that he could have captured the emotion in his hand and trapped it in a box.
“It doesn’t have to be like that,” she said as she stood naked in front of him.
Her long hair spread across her shoulders and teased the top of her br**sts. “We can support each other, gaining strength from what the other gives. A team is better than a single man. I want to make you happy, Reyhan. I want to be the one person in the world you can trust with everything and I want to trust you the same way.”
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