The Sheikh and the Runaway Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 4)(33) by Susan Mallery
“Thanks. I’ll make sure the appropriate number of rooms are ready.”
Kardal shook his head. “His sons,” he repeated slowly. “My half brothers. I have never met them. They are married, they have children. Nieces and nephews.”
“I know,” she told him. “It’s weird. I have four half brothers. Of course most of them are only half brothers to each other. My father wasn’t like yours. He didn’t see the need to stay loyal to one woman.”
She stopped and pressed her fingers to her mouth. “Sorry,” she said quickly. “I didn’t mean…” Because King Givon hadn’t been faithful to one woman and Kardal was the result of that indiscretion.
“I know what you mean,” he said.
Sabrina shuffled her papers. “Are you sure about this?” she asked. “About me? Isn’t there someone better qualified to handle these arrangements?”
“You do not want the job?”
“No. I’m happy to help. I just don’t want to make any mistakes.”
He touched her arm. She felt the contact all the way to her thighs. It was as if fire flickered inside of her.
“You are the one I want,” he said.
She knew how he meant the words. She was the one he wanted to prepare for King Givon’s visit. But for one heartbeat, she took his statement a different way. A more personal way. Her chest tightened, as did her throat. In that split second, she wondered what it would be like to hear those words from Kardal and having the meaning be romantic. What would it be like to be wanted by this man?
But she would never know. She was betrothed to another. It was her duty to guard her innocence to present to her husband on their wedding night. Oddly enough, she’d never been tempted before. She’d never thought about being with a man. Why did Kardal change all that?
A knock on her bedroom door made them both look up.
“Come,” Kardal called.
Rafe stepped into the room. He nodded at Sabrina, then turned his attention to his employer. “It’s nearly time for the conference call.”
Kardal nodded. “Ordering a dozen jets is not as simple as one might imagine,” he told Sabrina as he rose. “Thank you for your assistance.”
Then, in an act that surprised her more than anything since her capture, he bent down and lightly brushed her mouth with his. He was gone before she could do more than open her eyes and wonder if the kiss had even occurred.
Why had he done that? she wondered when she could finally drag herself out of her chair. Did it mean anything? She knew it was possible he’d reacted without thinking, but for some reason, she wanted the brief kiss to be significant. She wanted it to matter.
Feeling both silly and unexplainably happy, she put away the text she’d been reading when Kardal had arrived. She would spend the afternoon planning the king’s visit. She would need to tour the guest rooms and pick one for King Givon. She would also have to find out how many were in his party. Which would probably mean speaking with Princess Cala.
Sabrina wondered why Kardal’s mother had invited Givon to the City of Thieves after all this time. What did she think about the man who had seduced her when she’d been barely eighteen? Tradition might demand that he do his duty, but Cala had been five years younger than Sabrina was today. She didn’t think she would be very happy about sleeping with a stranger.
And what about King Givon? He’d been married at the time, with two sons of his own. She frowned as she tried to remember the age of his youngest. Was it possible his wife had been pregnant while he’d been staying in the City of Thieves? Why would he have agreed to such a thing?
Still mulling over the question, Sabrina picked up Kardal’s cloak from the bed and walked over to her closet. She would keep it here until she next saw him and could return it.
As she walked, something banged against her leg. Something small and square. Curious, she put her hand in the pocket and drew out a cellular telephone. What on earth? She stared at the flip phone, running her fingers along the cover. What was he doing with one of these out here in the middle of the desert? It couldn’t possibly work…could it?
She hung the cloak, then turned her attention to the cell phone. Her fingers trembled as she opened it and pressed the on button. The phone screen lit and beeped softly. The screen flashed several messages, including the name of the service provider and the cell phone’s telephone number. She blinked. There was a small D in the upper left corner indicating there was digital phone service, and the lit bars showed she had full reception. How was that possible?
Then she remembered what Kardal had said about the oil fields and using technology to protect them. Her bedroom in the palace might still be from the fourteenth century, but obviously there was modern life elsewhere in the castle.
Without thinking, she pushed the numbers for her father’s office. Seconds later, his assistant answered the phone.
“This is Princess Sabra,” she said hesitantly. “May I speak with my father?”
“Yes, Your Highness. One moment please.”
There was a click, followed by silence. Sabrina bit her lower lip. Was she doing the right thing by calling? What was she going to say? Was she ready to return to Bahania? Would Kardal be in trouble for kidnapping her?
She grimaced. There was a silly question. Of course he would be. Her father might not think the sun rose and set because of her but he was hardly going to condone someone abducting her.
But was that what she wanted? What about the joint air force? Would this ruin everything? And if her father did indeed come to her rescue was she prepared—
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