The Sheikh and the Runaway Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 4)(10) by Susan Mallery
He spoke with a confidence she envied. “I’ve never belonged anywhere. When I’m in California, my mother acts like I’m in the way all the time. It’s better now that I’m older, but when I was young, she would complain about how she wasn’t free to come and go as she wanted. Which wasn’t true because she just left me with her maid. And in Bahania…” She sighed. “Well, my father doesn’t like me very much. He thinks I’m like her, which I’m not.”
She shifted to get more comfortable. “People don’t appreciate the little things in their lives that show they belong. If I had them, I would appreciate them.”
“Perhaps for ten minutes,” Kardal said. “Then you would grow weary of the constraints. You are spoiled, my desert bird. Admit it.”
Her sleepiness vanished and she sat up straight. “I am not. You don’t know me well enough to be making that kind of judgment. Sure, it’s easy to read a few things and listen to rumors and decide, but it’s very different to have lived my life.”
“I think you would argue with me about the color of the sky.”
“Not if I could see it.”
“However you talk around me,” he said, “I’m not removing the blindfold.”
“Your attitude needs adjusting.”
He laughed. “Perhaps, but not by you. As my slave, you will be busy with other things.”
She shivered. Did the man really intend to keep her as his personal slave? Was that possible? “You’re kidding, right? This is all a joke. You think I need a lesson and you’re going to be the one to teach it to me.”
“You’ll have to wait and see. However, don’t be too surprised when you find out I have no intention of letting you go.”
She couldn’t get her mind around the idea. It was crazy. This wasn’t fourteenth-century Bahania. They were living in the modern world. Men didn’t keep slaves. Or maybe in the wilds of the desert, they did.
She swallowed hard. “What, ah, exactly would you want me to do?”
He was silent for several heartbeats, then she felt him lean toward her. His breath tickled her ear as he whispered, “It’s a surprise.”
“I doubt it will be a very good one,” she murmured dryly.
Sounds awakened her. Sabrina jerked into consciousness, not aware that she’d been asleep. For a second she panicked because she couldn’t see, but then she remembered she was both bound and blindfolded.
“Where are we?” she asked, feeling more afraid than she had before. There were too many noises. Bits of conversation, yells, grunts, bleats. Bleats?
She listened more closely and realized she heard the sounds of goats bleating and the bells worn by cattle. There were rooster calls, clinks of money, not to mention dozens of conversations occurring at the same time. The fragrance of cooking meat competed with the desert animals and the perfumed oils for sale.
“A marketplace?” she asked. Her stomach lurched. “Are you going to sell me?”
A coldness swept over her. Until this moment, she hadn’t really thought through her situation. Yes, she’d been Kardal’s prisoner, but he’d treated her well and she hadn’t felt more than inconvenienced. Suddenly things were different. She was truly his captive and at his mercy. If he decided to sell her, she couldn’t do anything to stop him. No one would listen to the protests of a mere woman.
“Don’t think you have to throw yourself in front of the next moving cart,” Kardal said calmly. “Despite the appeal of the idea, I’m not going to sell you. We have arrived. Welcome to the City of Thieves.”
Sabrina absorbed the words without understanding them. He wasn’t going to sell her to some horrid man? Her life wasn’t in danger?
She felt his fingers against the back of her head, then her blindfold fell away. It took several seconds for her eyes to adjust to the late-afternoon light. When they did, she could only gasp in wonder.
There were dozens of people everywhere she looked. Hundreds, actually, dressed in traditional desert garb. She saw women carrying baskets and men leading donkeys. Children running between the crowds. Stalls had been set up along a main stone street and vendors called out enticements to come view their wares.
It was a village, she thought in amazement. Or a town. The City of Thieves really existed? Did she dare believe it?
She half turned in her saddle to glance at Kardal. “Is it real?”
“Of course. Ah, they’ve noticed us.”
She returned her attention to the people and saw they were pointing and staring. Instantly Sabrina was aware of feeling dirty and mussed. Her cloak lay across her lap, hiding her bound hands, and a thin cloth covered her hair so no one could see the bright red color. Still, she was a woman sharing a saddle with a man. Worse, she had western features. Her skin wasn’t as dark as a native’s and the shape of her eyes was all wrong. There was also something about her mouth. She’d never quite figured out exactly what bow or curve set her apart, she only knew that she was rarely mistaken for a true Bahanian.
She glanced toward the high-pitched voice and saw a small girl waving at her. Sabrina started to wave back only to remember at the last second that her hands were bound. She had to settle for nodding pleasantly.
“Where is the treasure kept?” she asked. “Can I see it? Do you have it inventoried?”
Before he could answer, she heard a most peculiar sound. Something familiar, yet so out of place that she—
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online