The Sheikh and the Runaway Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 4)(47) by Susan Mallery
Cala pressed her hands together. “I raged at him. I accused him of toying with me, of tricking me, of never loving me. I’m not proud of my behavior. My only excuse is that I was very young and in love for the first time in my life. I told him if he left I never wanted to see him again. He crushed the last piece of my heart when he agreed that would be best. Neither of us would be comfortable with an ongoing affair.”
She curled her feet under her and closed her eyes. “In a final attempt to punish him, I told him I would forbid him to see his son. That the heir to the city would be raised by me and my father. Givon was not to approach the child ever. I made him swear.”
Cala opened her eyes and looked at Sabrina. “So you see, I have many sins to atone for. I have kept Givon and Kardal apart all these years. I nearly destroyed a king and I did serious damage to his marriage. So what, after all this time, am I supposed to say?”
Sabrina had no easy answer. “There were circumstances you couldn’t control,” she told Cala. “You didn’t seduce him from his marriage. Your father arranged it and Givon agreed. Aren’t you the innocent party in all this?”
“Perhaps I was once, but not anymore. What about Kardal? He hates his father. How am I supposed to explain the truth?”
Sabrina bit her lower lip. She had thought her situation was complicated and difficult, but Cala’s had been much worse.
“Do you want me to speak with him and try to explain?” she asked.
Cala nodded. “I’ll admit I’m willing to take the coward’s way out of this. I don’t want to see the hate in my son’s eyes when he finds out it was my fault he never knew his father.”
Sabrina didn’t think Kardal was going to hate his mother when he found out the truth, but he wasn’t going to be happy with the information. She wondered if it would change his attitude toward Givon. She wondered if her impossible story was going to have as unhappy an ending.
“So you see,” Sabrina said that evening when she and Kardal had finished dinner. “It’s not all Givon’s fault. Cala made him swear he wouldn’t contact you.”
Kardal stared into his coffee, but didn’t speak.
Sabrina shifted on the cushions in front of the low table. “Don’t you believe me?”
His dark gaze settled on her. “I don’t question that you are repeating the story as it was told. However, that does not make it the truth. Givon had a choice in the matter. He could have come to see me when I was at school. He could have invited me to visit him in El Bahar.”
“But he’d given his word!”
Kardal raised his eyebrows. “He had given his word to his wife, yet he bedded another woman.”
“That’s not the same thing at all. His being with Cala was a matter of state.”
She could tell that Kardal was not impressed by her argument. She wanted to reach across the table and shake him. Didn’t he understand how important this was to her?
“What are you thinking?” he asked suddenly.
“Nothing.” She stared at the napkin draped across her lap.
She slowly raised her gaze. “I don’t understand why you’re being so difficult,” she admitted. “I’m not saying that Givon wasn’t wrong, but there might have been mitigating circumstances. I think you should talk to your mother about this. Hear her side of the story.”
“No.” He rose to his feet. “I do not wish to discuss this anymore.”
She stood, also. “Maybe that’s not your choice. You said you wanted my help in this matter. You can’t pick and choose when you want me to participate. Either we each have an equal voice in this matter or there isn’t any matter between us.”
He glared at her. She thought he might be trying to loom over her but she was too upset to notice.
“We are not equal in this circumstance or any other,” he announced. “I am Kardal, Prince of Thieves.”
“That’s hardly news. I’ve been aware of your title practically since we met. And while we’re on the subject of titles, I happen to be a princess, which makes us pretty much the same. And if you dare to get into some macho conversation about you being a man and me merely being a woman, I won’t just scream at you, I will come into your room while you’re sleeping and cut out your heart.”
Thick silence filled the room. He glared down at her and she didn’t even blink. Finally one corner of his mouth turned up.
He chuckled. “Ah, Sabrina, don’t fight with me.”
His voice was low and husky as he moved around the table toward her. She recognized the danger signs and took a step back.
“I’m not fighting with you—you’re fighting with me. If you would just listen with an open mind you would see the sense of what I’m s—”
His lips pressed against hers, cutting her off before she could complete her sentence. In the half second before passion claimed her she knew that Kardal would never see anyone’s view but his own on the subject of his father. She could speak for a thousand years, but his mind had long since been decided.
Then she gave herself up to the glory of his body pressing against hers, the feel of his strong arms wrapping around her body, and the sweetness of his mouth claiming hers.
Being with him felt so incredibly right, she thought dreamily as she parted her lips to welcome him home. Fire began, as it always did, heating her br**sts before settling between her legs. She longed to feel his strong hands on her body. She was embarrassed to admit—even to herself—that she wanted him to touch her again, the way he had before. She wanted to feel that amazing release and this time she wanted to put her hands on his body. She wanted to know what he would feel like and look like. She wanted him to take her.
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