The Sheikh and the Runaway Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 4)(9) by Susan Mallery
So instead she allowed herself to lean into him, feeling the muscled hardness of his chest pressing against her. He shifted his arms so that he held the reins in front of her instead of behind her. Her forearms rested on his.
The sensation of touching him was oddly intimate. Perhaps it was their close proximity, or perhaps it was the darkness caused by her blindfold. She’d never been in a situation like this, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. Not much of her life had been spent with her being kidnapped.
“Do you do this often?” she asked. “Kidnap innocent women?”
Instead of being insulted by the question, he chuckled. “You are many things, princess, but you are not innocent.”
Actually he was wrong about that, but this was hardly the time or the place to have that conversation. She could—
The horse stumbled on a loose rock. There was no warning. For Sabrina, the blackness of her world shifted and the sensation of falling nearly became a reality. She gasped and tried to grab on to something, but there was only openness in front of her.
“It’s all right,” Kardal soothed from behind her. He moved his arm so that it clasped her around the waist, pulling her more tightly against him. “I won’t let anything happen to you.”
She wanted to take comfort in his words, but she knew the real purpose behind them. “Your concern isn’t about me,” she grumbled. “You don’t want anything to happen to your prize.”
He laughed softly. “Exactly, my desert bird. I refuse to let you fly away, nor will I allow you to be injured. You are to stay just as you are until I can claim my rightful reward.”
She didn’t like the sound of that. No doubt he believed everything he read in the papers about her, so he thought he knew her.
“You’re wrong about me,” she said a few minutes later, when the horse was once again steady and her heartbeat had returned to normal.
“I am rarely wrong.”
That comment made her roll her eyes, although with her wearing a blindfold he couldn’t tell.
“I know you are not a dutiful daughter,” he murmured in her ear. “You live a wild life in the west. But that is no surprise. You are your mother’s daughter, not a woman of Bahania.”
She told herself that he was a barbarian and his opinion didn’t matter. Unfortunately those words didn’t stop the sting of tears or the lump in her throat. She hated that people judged her based on a few reports in newspapers or magazines. It had happened to her all her life. Very few people took the time to find out the truth.
“Did it ever occur to you that sometimes the media gets it wrong?” she asked.
“Sometimes, but not in your case. You have lived most of your years in Los Angeles. Picking up that lifestyle was inevitable. Had your father kept you here, you might have learned our ways, but that was not to be.”
She didn’t know which charge to answer first. “You’re making it sound as if my father letting me go was my fault,” she told him. “I was four years old. I didn’t have any say in the decision. And just in case you forgot, Bahanian law forbids a royal child being raised in another country, yet my father let my mother take me away. He didn’t even try to stop her.”
She couldn’t keep the bitterness out of her voice. All her life she’d had to live with the knowledge that her father hadn’t cared enough about her to keep her around. She didn’t doubt that if she’d been a son, he would have refused to let her go. But she was merely a daughter. His only daughter, but that was obviously not significant to him.
She felt her frustration growing. It wasn’t fair. It had never been fair and it was never going to be fair in the future. One day she would figure that out. Maybe on the same day she would cease caring what people thought about her. Maybe then she would be mature enough not to worry when they formed opinions and judged her before even meeting her. Unfortunately that day wasn’t today and she hated that Kardal’s low opinion stung more so than usual.
“You can say what you want,” she told Kardal. “You can have your opinions and your theories, but no one knows the truth except me.”
“I will admit that much is true,” he said, his deep voice drifting around her and making her wonder what he was thinking.
“Relax now,” he continued. “We will travel for much of the day. Try to rest. You didn’t sleep much last night.”
She started to ask how he knew, then remembered they had been tied together. Although she’d fallen asleep right away, she’d awakened several times, tossing and turning until she could doze off again. No doubt she’d kept him awake as well. What with being kidnapped, blindfolded and left with her wrists tied, Sabrina wasn’t sure she was even sorry.
She drew in a deep breath and tried to relax. When the tension in her body began to ease, she allowed her mind to drift. What would it be like to be someone as in charge of his world as Kardal? He was a man of the desert. He would answer to no one. She’d always been at the beck and call of her parents. They were forever sending her back and forth, as if neither really wanted her around.
“Do you really live in the City of Thieves?” she asked sleepily.
She liked the sound of her name on his lips. Despite her predicament, she smiled. “All your life?” she asked.
“Yes. All my life. I went away to school for a few years, but I have always returned to the desert. This is where I belong.”
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online